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    The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

    Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

                                                -Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in reference to Ho Chi Minh, Beyond Vietnam, 1967

    Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

                                                                                                                   -George Orwell, Politics and the English Language


            On Thursday, in a stupendous feat of mental gymnastics, Secretary of State John Kerry said that ISIS was responsible for carrying out genocide and crimes against humanity in Iraq.  While this true, it is equally true that the United States bears full responsibly for instigating the insanity and violence currently raging across Iraq and much of the Middle East, and that ISIS would have never emerged as a radical resistance force had it not been for the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq – an invasion that was based on lies and an occupation that has seen American forces commit acts of torture and indiscriminate killing tantamount to that of ISIS.

            U.S forces have raped and tortured Iraqi citizens to death in the prison cells of the erstwhile Saddam Hussein regime; the arsenal of destructive weapons denoted by our military has created a living hell on Earth for millions of Iraqis that had nothing to do with the September 11th attacks and must now subsist amongst the rubble of their homes stained with the blood of their family, their lives dismembered by million-dollar Tomahawk missiles launched by Navy ships in the Red Sea.  Like the Republicans who have declared Donald Trump a national security threat due to his pro-torture and unilateral militaristic positions while they themselves have supported torture and preemptive war, Kerry, who as Senator of Massachusetts voted for the Iraq War, doesn’t have leg to stand on as he applies a twisted and hypocritical logic in his assessment of ISIS, citing their genocidal tendencies as the reason why Iraq and Syria are now in ruins. 

            The truth (unspoken by the State Department and their loyal mainstream media allies that dutifully disseminate any announcement from the government as though it were truth) is that the underlying causes of the violence plaguing the Middle East are a direct result of the United States government and military whom --  at the behest of Wall Street, the Military-Industrial-Complex, and death-defying Cold War-era centenarian government officials like Henry Kissinger (a war criminal with close ties to Hillary Clinton), Dick Cheney, Zbigniew Berezniki (President Obama’s former foreign policy advisor), and Donald Rumsfeld  -- have illegally invaded and occupied Iraq for the sake of profit and imperialism.   After a quarter century of sanctions and weekly bombing raids, and after 13 years of military occupation, not only has America in effect created ISIS, but we have slaughtered far more innocent people in that region than ISIS has or ever will.  While the actions of our government may not be labeled as genocide, this means little to the family members of the hundreds of thousands of civilians (of whose deaths the military does not keep track) that have been killed by our weapons, and countless others (perhaps as many as four million) that have died as a result of the tangential instability caused by the invasion and occupation (not to mention a quarter-century of sanctions).     

    Outcome of U.S airstikes in Iraq, 2003.

            Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1973, when the United States was embroiled in another murderous quagmire based on lies and aggression – the Vietnam War, in which ultimately the United States lost fifty-thousand soldiers and killed over two million Vietnamese – a far more cleared-headed John Kerry of Vietnam Veterans Against the War had this to say to Congress and the American people:

            We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs and search and destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism - and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong… We are here in Washington to say that the problem of this war is not just a question of war and diplomacy. It is part and parcel of everything that we are trying as human beings to communicate to people in this country - the question of racism which is rampant in the military, and so many other questions such as the use of weapons; the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage at the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions; in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, all accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam.

            Since then John Kerry has substituted the logic and passion of a man with an independent voice for that of a confabulating politician who must toe the line of a party rife with double-standards and hypocrisy.  Like Hillary Clinton who must now make excuses for her avocation of war with the now failed-states of Iraq and Libya, John Kerry has assumed the position of a hitman who must defend the indefensible.  He must point the finger at ISIS for carrying out mass killings when it is the United States that has overseen the primary genocide in that region.  When Russia followed in the U.S lead and began bombing Syria, Kerry was put in the awkward position of saying that it was their bombing campaign was destabilizing, as though the U.S bombing of Syria and arming of rebels was constructive.  When the Egyptian military overthrew the first democratically-elected president of Egypt in 2013, Kerry said that the military was “restoring democracy.”  He has played the genocide card with ISIS but says nothing of Saudi Arabia’s mini-genocide against civilians in Yemen.

            If we are to resolve the world’s problems we must try to view the world through a clear and objective lens.  Yes, ISIS is committing genocide, but so have we (then and now: think slavery, Native Americans, Hiroshima and Nagasaki); and for us to call genocide on ISIS is the pot calling the kettle black.  We invaded Iraq based on a lie: that Saddam Hussein was harboring terrorists, and the tragic irony of our foolhardy campaign is that we have created real terrorists in our crusade to catch phantoms.  In addition to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria are in ruins due to our foreign policy, and our government is blaming the people of those regions for the destabilization and chaos; we blame them for not going along with our imperialist agenda.  But what did we expect having invaded and brutalized sovereign states and human beings?  Did we expect for them to just roll over and hand us their resources after we have killed their family members and friends?  (One thing that should be noted is that these countries were all fairly modern before we invaded; this can be observed in the old footage of Syrian nightlife.  Before we invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s cabinet even included Christians.)  Imagine that a foreign power bombed your neighborhood to smithereens, wiping-out everything you loved in an invasion and occupation of your homeland – would you roll over as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry, and a number other war criminals would like and apparently expect the Iraqis to do, or would you fight back?  We must acknowledge our mistakes if we are to correct them.  We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the people whom we have oppressed if we are to reconcile our differences with them.  Our current strategy is to label everyone who hates us a terrorist and refuse to end these war until every last one of them is killed.  Such a strategy will lead to an amaranthine conflict and will only see the Middle East enveloped in flames.  This should not be the way forward for it is an ominous trajectory that would spell doom for the fate of humanity.  Now is the time for sympathy, compassion, diplomacy, for truth and reconciliation.  Let that be the way forward so that the newborn Iraqi child will no longer be born into a world of horror and sorrow.  


    50 Years Later, Beyond Vietnam Still Applies  

              As the American Empire maintains its military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, boosts operations in Syria, and expands its drone campaigns to the farthest reaches of the world, there appears to be no willingness amongst the leaders of this country to de-fund and scale down the imperialistic tendencies of our government.  Defunding our overseas enterprises, shutting down our military bases and outposts, and bringing our troops home would be a tremendous step forward for the United States and the people inhabiting the lands we are occupying.  A common response to those proposing a total withdrawal of U.S forces is:  “If we withdrawal now from Iraq and Afghanistan we’ll leave a power vacuum, we can’t just leave.”  In fact, we can just leave.  Aside from the fact that we’re not wanted in those places, that our intentions there are not to help the local populations, and that these wars have been based on lies and waged unconstitutionally, the U.S military has picked up land left war torn lands before.  Most notably, this happened in 50 years ago in Vietnam, which, up until Afghanistan and Iraq, was the longest running war in U.S history.  On April 4, 1987 (one year to the day before his assassination) Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech titled, Beyond Vietnam, at the Riverside Church in New York City.  In the speech, Dr. King offered a plan for withdrawal of U.S forces in Vietnam.  Excerpts from his speech, which should be listened to in it’s entirely by every American adult, are pasted below.  Almost everything he says about the U.S role in Vietnam can be applied to the current wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and increasingly, Syria.



    This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

    The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

    Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight hundred, or rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores.

    I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin, we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

    If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

    I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

    Number one: End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

    Number two: Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

    Three: Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

    Four: Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government.

    Five: Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

    Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary. Meanwhile, meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible.

    The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

    A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

    It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries.


    Hope at the End of an Era, Why Islam Is Not the Problem, and Blowback

                On Thanksgiving, the Ron Paul Liberty Report episode was titled, “The Most Dangerous Time In Our History?”  Ron Paul talked about how, that as bad as the current geopolitical affairs are, they’re not as bad as they were during spikes in the Cold War.   Transcribed below is an excerpt from the end of the show, in which Dr. Paul outlines some basic rules that individual and nations could follow if they wanted to make the world a better place.

         We shouldn’t be all that disturbed that we are witnessing the chaos of the end of an era.  But, we also can be thankful that the end of an era that I lived through – and that was the Cold War, a Soviet system that had all these nuclear weapons, and we were up against each other over the Cuban crisis – you know, we got by those.  Sometimes the solutions come much easier than we ever dream. 

         But I do believe the only thing that can rectify all this is to have a growing number of people, especially young people, who will be moving into positons of leadership, understanding what personal liberty is all about, what it means that liberty is an individual event and that you have to follow a couple rules.

        One: You have to reject the notion that anybody or any government can ever initiate violence against somebody else to have their way.  And, boy, if they could just follow that rule. 

        And then it takes another thing that’s less prevalent today among some of our candidates and that’s a little bit of tolerance and understanding.   So if we have killed three million Muslims over the past fifteen years, we ought to recognize that and not think that all violence comes from the other side.  We have to be really very honest with ourselves.  To me that is what really counts, is honesty with ourselves and an honest approach to looking at the issues, but once you come to the conclusion that you believe in individual liberty and you believe in non-violence and you believe in tolerating other people who have different views and different religious views – as long as they’re not forcing their values on us – it would be a much better place and a much better world.  I think we’re further advance than we have ever been in the understanding of these issues, disregarding all the problems that are on the surface that motivate people to say that “we live in the most dangerous times ever.”  I think we live in one of the most exciting times ever, because, all of sudden, peace may break out and liberty may reign. 

             I’m going to follow-up on this transcription with an excerpt from another episode of the Liberty Report, this one from November 27th and titled “Myth-Busters! Things Are Not As Government Makes Them Seem.”  Here, Ron Paul addresses the fallacious notion that Islam is inherently violent, and that the United States, a largely Christian nation, has been victimized by pugnacious Muslim barbarians.  The excerpt transcribed here begins around the 6 min. point of the show:

          Chris Rossini:  Our argument is always that it’s a matter of foreign policy.  That a bunch of radical religious people are able to do a lot of what they do because nation-states are able to fund them and give them weapons to carry-out a lot of these atrocities.  We could go all the way, even further than this, but we could start during the 1980’s when Ronald Regan decided to intervene and back the Mujahedeen with Osama bin Laden to get the Soviets out of Afghanistan.  Of course that was none of the U.S’s business, and Osama bin Laden then went on to start Al-Qaeda, and Al-Qaeda branched out into ISIS.  Please, Dr. Paul, talk about how the big worry is U.S foreign policy, and other governments too, in funding and creating these monsters that now the government is asked to stop.

    Footage of former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski cheerleading for the Afghan Mujahadeen in 1979.

         Dr. Paul:  Okay, I’ll do that, but first I’ll put my priority where I think the biggest problem is, and that’s the size and growth of our government and the undermining of our personal liberties.  But that’s very much connected to your question about what’s going on with our foreign policy, how that is a source of many of our problems, and why ISIS is not the sole cause of the problem.  Yes, our policies have encouraged the growth of radicalism, but what has happened is because there are some radicals, there are some actually that we support.  You indicated the Mujahedeen and the Taliban – we’ve supported in the past, we’ve encouraged Hamas, the growth of Hamas along with Israel’s support for this.  And now we’re very much involved in pushing ISIS mainly because we think, or we pretend, that ISIS will go after Assad.  And so the whole effort our allies right now in NATO and Israel and Saudi Arabia – everybody wants to get rid of Assad and they’re willing to subsidize and push ISIS – but for them to turn around and say the whole problem is not our foreign policy contributing to the rising up of people, the whole thing is, they say, “radical Islam.”  If you don’t say “radical Islam” then you won’t admit the truth, so they want to say that Islam is the problem.  To me that’s sort of like saying Christianity is the problem because we have the Ku Klux Klan that claims they have Christian ideals and principles and that they only follow those principles.   Well how many people would be willing to accept the fact that the Ku Klux Klan states the religious principles of Christianity? And that’s sort of what is going on here...

    Bush holds hands with his boyfriend, Saudi King Abdullah.

         And if there is a danger – and I believe there is a danger of what we’re doing there – but if we don’t understand it… what the candidates are saying so often is that what we need to do is bomb and kill more people, rather than saying how did we contribute to it, how can we back off, how can we moderate this a little bit and not say that it is all Islam.  Maybe the fact that our policies lead to the killing of four million Muslims in the past fourteen years – so that has to play a role in it – but they say, “oh no, that really isn’t, you’re ducking it, you’re un-American, you want to blame America.”  But, the foreign policy that we have is deadly.  It’s deadly for us because it costs a lot of money, it kills a lot of people, it causes a lot of friction – just look at the results, the results are disastrous: chaos continues in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and look at what’s going on in Syria, look how we’ve contributed to the mess in Ukraine, and look at where Libya is – and it’s only when we get involved that these conditions just deteriorate.  But a lot of people believe that we’re well motivated, and we’re the exceptional nation, and it’s our personal moral responsibility to be the policeman of the world so if there are any infractions on our standards overseas we have this obligation to correct it.   That’s absolutely wrong, it costs too much money, it destroys our liberties here at home, and makes us very unsafe overseas, so I think it’s time the American people wake up and say, “Let’s change our foreign policy, because it’s nothing but trouble for us…”

         So we have the problem of blowback, which means that when people feel that we’ve done them harm, invaded their country, and killed a lot of their people, they don’t have tanks and planes and navies to come and attack us and try to throw us out of their country, but they can use the technique which people refer to as terrorism which means that people just go and put bombs and place that get our attention.  That just means that the answer by those who believe in neo-conservatism, the Dick Cheney types, is that we just need to kill more.  They’re still crying that losing 60,000 people in Vietnam wasn’t enough.  “If we would have only kept doing it,” and people say the same thing about Iraq, “We left too soon, and we should have more troops in there, and we should put more troops in Syria…” 


    Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shakes hands with Saddam Hussein in 1983.


    A Word on the Paris Massacre

    “When I grabbed her, half of her head fell down and her eyes fell on the ground,” he said.  He moved into another room where he found the pile of naked, burned corpses. Seven of the bodies belonged to children younger than 15. Four were children younger than 5. Several of the young ones had boot marks on their faces.  He speculated that someone threw 2-year-old Palwasha on the fire while the child was still alive.  “They were all shot in their heads,” Adin said. “Their brains were still on their pillows.”

                            -Trial testimony from the 2012 Kandahar Massacre, in which U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went on a predawn rampage and killed sixteen innocent Afghan civilians.

    A relevant question that we should be posing in relation to the Paris massacre: would such an atrocity have been carried out in Western Europe absent the massive flood of Muslim refugees?  If we were to rewind back to last year, when there was no massive refugee crisis, is it possible that eight men in Europe would have harbored so much hatred in their hearts that they could have done something like this?  The answer is yes, such a massacre would have occurred anyway, refugee crisis or not. But why did it happen?  For the next few days and years we will hear that it is precisely because of the refugees that this occurred, that there is a direct connection between the killers and the exodus.  In the process we will learn to distrust, fear, and hate each other.  Borders shall close, martial law shall be imposed, minorities shall be scapegoated, and missiles will be launched.  Ultimately, the political and military measures which will unfold in this the great undertaking which follows shall benefit two parties: the terrorists and the military industrial complex.  But what are our options as civilized men?  After all, we are under attack by poor men whom possess not the highly-expensive advantage of advanced weaponry.  This is the thing, the Muslim terrorists and the governments of civilized countries whom vow to quash them despite their hypocritical actions of supporting terrorism are seeking the same thing: the elimination of freedom.  To be free means that you have to take risks.  To takes risks means that sometimes you have to die.  But to die free, as the men and women in Paris did today, is better than living under any police state created as a result of terrorists ambitions. If we bow down and give in, handing over our rights to overseers and thus denying the supposed roots for which we as Americans and Europeans stand for, then we lose, and we give the extremists what they want. But if we stand up and accept the fact that living radically free is a dangerous arrangement (though it would be less dangerous if we were not meddling in affairs and provoking the people of the Middle East for the last 70 years), and we’re willing to take the risk, then we win.


    The Duel After the Masquerade, Jean-Léon Gérôme 


    Karen Armstrong and Ron Paul on Religious Violence and Peace

           In the To the Best of Our Knowledge interview below, Karen Armstrong talks about the roots of religious extremism and the connection between violence and religion in contrast to secular violence.  It's a great interview that is based off the subject of her latest book, Fields of Blood.  I happened to hear this interview around the same time that I heard Ron Paul talk about how religious minorities often manipulate theological doctrines in the Liberty Report episode pasted below.  I've transcribed the part where Ron Paul speaks of what he believes to be part of the solution to religious violence.  


    (I'm still working on how the hell to properly create and upload an AV file to the internet.  I'm a little slow when it comes to this high-tech stuff.)



    Ron Paul:  Well, the other thing that would help us in our argument would be the recognition that even if our intentions over there were well-motivated, you know: we’re there for humanitarian reasons and all this, even if that was their honest motivation, it doesn’t work.  It’s a total failure.  “Oh, they’re killing Christians, we gotta go in there and change their government.  I wish we had more stories of the countries over there when they were least involved with foreign countries – because there are stories, there are examples.  As a matter of fact, there are some examples in Iran right now – Jews live there, and Christians live there.  Just think of how the propaganda was used against Saddam Hussein – he had a Christian in his cabinet!  When they’re left alone, there are examples when the Christians and the Jews and the Muslims live together, but then there’s always elements who say, “Well, that religion, all they do is preach hate and killing,” which can be applied to just about every religion.  But when people are given a chance, they will live together.  But I think, actually, it’s ironic since I have strong religious beliefs – I think the answer is secular.  I think the secular answer to these problems and this hatred that goes back and forth is the accepting  of a universal religious principle of don’t kill; “thou shall not kill.”  Most great religions endorse that.  And don’t steal nor hurt people.  Then all of a sudden that means “if somebody has a different religion I’m not supposed to hurt them, I supposed to kill them” – that’s what it says.  But I think that’s a distortion of so much in religions, but I think a distortion by a small minority and all religions have done that.