Donald Trump evokes a wily and resilient mythic figure: the joker, the trickster, the fool, the one the Lakota people call the Heyoka, the contrary. Had his opponents – such as Hillary Clinton – understood this quality in him, the electoral outcome might have been different. The sooner the rest of us understand this side of him, the better.
In the European tradition, the fool holds up the mirror to the monarch and to all of us, mocking our faults and pretensions. He (the fool is almost always a man) is not constrained by deference or allegiance to truth. The Heyoka, one of the purest forms of fool, pretends to shiver when everyone else is sweating and takes off his clothes in winter.
The fool is a potent truth-teller and commands attention. Shakespeare knew this. Lear’s Fool, a gentle version of the species, skewered the arrogance and pride that were his master’s downfall, even as he comforted him. The “scabrous” Thersites in Troilus and Cressida speaks with relentless, scene-stealing venom. He paints Achilles, the Greeks’ greatest hero, as a petulant adolescent; King Agamemnon is a blowhard, Helen of Troy a hooker.
The fool is always addressing us, his audience, as well as his high-ranking targets. He performs a vital social function, forcing us to examine our own preconceptions, especially our inflated ideas about our own virtue. Trump was telling all of us – women and minorities, progressives, pillars of the establishment, as well as his supporters – that we were just like him.
The appropriate, time-honored response to the fool’s sallies is to take instruction from them. Only after we’ve acknowledged and accepted our own shortcomings do we have the integrity that allows us to keep him in his place. Perhaps if Secretary Clinton had been a more skillful, poised and humble warrior, she could have done this.
Fools serve the collective order by challenging those whose ignorance and blindness threaten it. They are meant to be instruments of awareness, not rulers. Impossible to imagine Lear’s Fool succeeding him or Thersites commanding the Greek army. Trump will not address his own limitations, cannot tolerate criticism, and takes himself dangerously seriously. This makes him a seriously flawed fool. He believes his own hyperbole and threatens democratic order.
In the weeks since his election, Trump has continued to act the fool. Now, however, the underdog’s challenges have become a bully’s beatdowns. His attack on the steelworkers’ union leader, Chuck Jones, exactly the kind of man whom he claimed to champion, was a vicious and painful lie. Unfunny, purely ugly. His more recent rants, including boasts about the crowds at his inaugural and the millions of imaginary illegal Clinton voters, illuminate his own troubled insecurity: the all-powerful winner acting the petulant, powerless loser.
Many of President Trump’s cabinet choices are like the punchlines of jokes, but punchlines with potentially devastating real-world consequences: an education secretary who disparages public education and badly botched her own effort at creating an alternative; men charged with responding to climate change who deny its existence; and a national security adviser who purveys paranoid fantasies.
There are glimmers of hope that the jester might mature to majesty. Gen James Mattis, the defense secretary, inspired a Trumpian epiphany that waterboarding might be counterproductive. Conversations with Al Gore or, more likely, ones with his daughter Ivanka could persuade him to open his eyes to the reality of climate change.
Or perhaps President Trump will implode, brought down by the damage done by perverse cabinet choices, or words and actions so intemperate and ill-advised that Congress and the courts call him to a terminal account. His challenged immigration order could be a harbinger.
Meanwhile, what are the rest of us to do? The fact that this question is even being asked is healthy, a residual benefit of his fool’s vocation. Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.
Already, people all over the US – Republicans I know as well as Democrats – are beginning to link inner awareness to small and great political action.
The day after Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of thousands of women of all ages, ethnicities and political affiliations affirmed their rights, celebrated their community and slyly poked at the joker: “if I incorporated my uterus,” read one demonstrator’s sign, “would you stop trying to regulate it”.
The joker who is now our president has served an important function, waking us up to what we’ve not yet admitted in ourselves or accomplished in our country. He is, without realizing it, challenging us to grow in self-awareness, to act in ways that respect and fulfill what is best in ourselves and our democracy.
It’s time for us citizens, who’ve watched the performance, to take the stage.
Editor’s Note: This is one of the soundest analysis of what’s possible under the Trump administration focusing on solutions instead of hysteria. Please read the entire article.
By Michael Grunwald
Donald Trump’s political brand is about fighting and winning, and he has promised to fight and win a war on big government. As a candidate, he often attacked the federal bureaucracy as a bloated monstrosity teeming with “waste, fraud and abuse all over the place,” and vowed to “cut so much your head will spin!” As president-elect, he continued his clamor on Twitter, pledging to save taxpayers billions on “out of control” programs like the F-35 fighter jet.
But Trump has also proclaimed his belief in an activist government, portraying himself as a kind of father-figure leader who will “take care of people.” He insisted during the Republican primary that, unlike his opponents, he would never cut a single dollar from Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, or let Americans “die on the streets.” His agenda to Make America Great Again is in many ways a big government agenda, with bleeding-heart goals like rebuilding infrastructure and reviving inner cities, as well as get-tough goals like beefing up the military and walling up the border
Trump’s critics cite this split-screen attitude toward government as evidence that he’s running a con. And his early moves, like stocking his administration with Goldman Sachs alumni, do suggest he won’t feel constrained by his drain-the-swamp campaign talk. But if Trump’s two-sided rhetoric about government sounds like a con, it should sound like a familiar con, because Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all fed us similar lines. They all argued that the federal government is too big, wastes too much money and tries to do too many things—but also that it should perform vital functions like defending the nation, supporting the elderly and providing a safety net for the vulnerable.
In fact, polls show that most Americans agree with both of those arguments, which might help explain why politicians who make them keep winning the White House. As Obama put it in The Audacity of Hope, voters “don’t expect government to solve all their problems,” but do “figure government should help.” And those dual beliefs happen to be sensible ones, not just popular ones. It’s hard to see how Americans can be assured of clean air and water, a basic level of subsistence and protection from foreign invaders without federal intervention; it’s just as hard to see why the federal government needs 200 science education programs spread across 13 separate agencies. It’s disturbing that we’re the only wealthy nation without universal health insurance, and also that our government delivers 81 billion annual pieces of junk mail. If you think about it, this amounts to a logical theory of governance that would be revolutionary in practice: Washington really should do some big stuff in a big way, while doing a lot less stuff overall. It ought to focus on policy wars of necessity rather than wars of choice—and then fight those wars with overwhelming force.
This triage approach to governance could be called “limited-government liberalism,” although Trump certainly wouldn’t use that phrase. Or perhaps, to borrow a slogan that Bush never really defined, it could go by “compassionate conservatism.” Its motto could be Clinton’s only-half-remembered 1996 declaration that “the era of big government is over—but we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves.” It’s about as close as this polarized nation has to a bipartisan political philosophy, and it’s probably the rosiest scenario, if not the likeliest scenario, for the kind of radical change Trump could bring to Washington. It would involve near-constant battles with the special interests and other insiders Trump always talks about battling; it could appeal to Trump’s self-image as a heroic disrupter of an entrenched status quo; and it could be quite popular, a quality populists tend to like. Read more…
A silent war continues, led by the west, ignored by the media, writes John Pilger.
The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda.
The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was Bernays who coined the term “public relations” as a euphemism for spin and its deceptions.
In 1929, he persuaded feminists to promote cigarettes for women by smoking in the New York Easter Parade – behaviour then considered outlandish. One feminist, Ruth Booth, declared, “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!”
Bernays’ influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War. The secret, he said, was “engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them]according to our will without their knowing about it”.
He described this as “the true ruling power in our society” and called it an “invisible government”.
Today, the invisible government has never been more powerful and less understood. In my career as a journalist and film-maker, I have never known propaganda to insinuate our lives as it does now, and to go unchallenged.
Imagine two cities. Both are under siege by the forces of the government of that country. Both cities are occupied by fanatics, who commit terrible atrocities, such as beheading people.
But there is a vital difference. In one siege, the government soldiers are described as liberators by Western reporters embedded with them, who enthusiastically report their battles and air strikes. There are front page pictures of these heroic soldiers giving a V-sign for victory. There is scant mention of civilian casualties.
In the second city – in another country nearby – almost exactly the same thing is happening. Government forces are laying siege to a city controlled by the same breed of fanatics.
The difference is that these fanatics are supported, supplied and armed by “us” – by the United States and Britain. They even have a media centre that is funded by Britain and America.
Another difference is that the government soldiers laying siege to this city are the bad guys, condemned for assaulting and bombing the city – which is exactly what the good soldiers do in the first city.
Confusing? Not really. Such is the basic double standard that is the essence of propaganda. I am referring, of course, to the current siege of the city of Mosul by the government forces of Iraq, who are backed by the United States and Britain, and to the siege of Aleppo by the government forces of Syria, backed by Russia. One is good; the other is bad.
What is seldom reported is that both cities would not be occupied by fanatics and ravaged by war if Britain and the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003. That criminal enterprise was launched on lies strikingly similar to the propaganda that now distorts our understanding of the civil war in Syria.
Without this drumbeat of propaganda dressed up as news, the monstrous ISIS and Al-Qaida and al-Nusra and the rest of the jihadist gang might not exist, and the people of Syria might not be fighting for their lives today.
Some may remember in 2003 a succession of BBC reporters turning to the camera and telling us that Blair was “vindicated” for what turned out to be the crime of the century. The US television networks produced the same validation for George W. Bush. Fox News brought on Henry Kissinger to effuse over Colin Powell’s fabrications.
The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him, “What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?”
He replied that if journalists had done their job, “there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq”.
It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question – Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous.
In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul.
There would have been no atrocity on the London Underground on 7th July 2005. There would have been no flight of millions of refugees; there would be no miserable camps.
When the terrorist atrocity happened in Paris last November, President Francoise Hollande immediately sent planes to bomb Syria – and more terrorism followed, predictably, the product of Hollande’s bombast about France being “at war” and “showing no mercy”. That state violence and jihadist violence feed off each other is the truth that no national leader has the courage to speak.
“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”
The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.
The same fate awaited Slobodan Milosevic once he had refused to sign an “agreement” that demanded the occupation of Serbia and its conversion to a market economy. His people were bombed, and he was prosecuted in The Hague. Independence of this kind is intolerable.
As WikiLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.
From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics – the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage.
Why is this not news? The former British Foreign Office official Carne Ross, who was responsible for operating sanctions against Iraq, told me: “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we would freeze them out. That is how it worked.”
The West’s medieval client, Saudi Arabia – to which the US and Britain sell billions of dollars’ worth of arms – is at present destroying Yemen, a country so poor that in the best of times, half the children are malnourished.
Look on YouTube and you will see the kind of massive bombs – “our” bombs – that the Saudis use against dirt-poor villages, and against weddings, and funerals.
The explosions look like small atomic bombs. The bomb aimers in Saudi Arabia work side-by-side with British officers. This fact is not on the evening news.
Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education – Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia – and with careers on the BBC, theGuardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post.
These organisations are known as the liberal media. They present themselves as enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist. They are anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT.
And they love war.
While they speak up for feminism, they support rapacious wars that deny the rights of countless women, including the right to life.
In 2011, Libya, then a modern state, was destroyed on the pretext that Muammar Gaddafi was about to commit genocide on his own people. That was the incessant news; and there was no evidence. It was a lie.
In fact, Britain, Europe and the United States wanted what they like to call “regime change” in Libya, the biggest oil producer in Africa. Gaddafi’s influence in the continent and, above all, his independence were intolerable.
So he was murdered with a knife in his rear by fanatics, backed by America, Britain and France. Hillary Clinton cheered his gruesome death for the camera, declaring,
“We came, we saw, he died!”
The destruction of Libya was a media triumph. As the war drums were beaten, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian: “Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong.”
Intervention – what a polite, benign, Guardian word, whose real meaning, for Libya, was death and destruction.
According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. The Unicef report on the children killed says, “most [of them]under the age of 10”.
As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS.
Ukraine is another media triumph. Respectable liberal newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, and mainstream broadcasters such as the BBC, NBC, CBS, CNN have played a critical role in conditioning their viewers to accept a new and dangerous cold war.
All have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia when, in fact, the coup in Ukraine in 2014 was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.
This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military intimidation of Russia is not news; it is suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war. Once again, the Ruskies are coming to get us, led by another Stalin, whom The Economist depicts as the devil.
The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The fascists who engineered the coup in Kiev are the same breed that backed the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Of all the scares about the rise of fascist anti-Semitism in Europe, no leader ever mentions the fascists in Ukraine – except Vladimir Putin, but he does not count.
Many in the Western media have worked hard to present the ethnic Russian-speaking population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, as agents of Moscow, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.
There is almost the joie d’esprit of a class reunion of warmongers. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post inciting war with Russia are the very same editorial writers who published the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
To most of us, the American presidential campaign is a media freak show, in which Donald Trump is the arch villain.
But Trump is loathed by those with power in the United States for reasons that have little to do with his obnoxious behaviour and opinions. To the invisible government in Washington, the unpredictable Trump is an obstacle to America’s design for the 21stcentury.
This is to maintain the dominance of the United States and to subjugate Russia, and, if possible, China.
To the militarists in Washington, the real problem with Trump is that, in his lucid moments, he seems not to want a war with Russia; he wants to talk with the Russian president, not fight him; he says he wants to talk with the president of China.
In the first debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump promised not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict. He said, “I would certainly not do first strike. Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.” That was not news.
Did he really mean it? Who knows? He often contradicts himself. But what is clear is that Trump is considered a serious threat to the status quo maintained by the vast national security machine that runs the United States, regardless of who is in the White House.
The CIA wants him beaten. The Pentagon wants him beaten. The media wants him beaten. Even his own party wants him beaten. He is a threat to the rulers of the world – unlike Clinton who has left no doubt she is prepared to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and China.
Clinton has the form, as she often boasts. Indeed, her record is proven. As a senator, she backed the bloodbath in Iraq. When she ran against Obama in 2008, she threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran. As Secretary of State, she colluded in the destruction of governments in Libya and Honduras and set in train the baiting of China.
She has now pledged to support a No Fly Zone in Syria — a direct provocation for war with Russia. Clinton may well become the most dangerous president of the United States in my lifetime –a distinction for which the competition is fierce.
Without a shred of evidence, she has accused Russia of supporting Trump and hacking her emails. Released by WikiLeaks, these emails tell us that what Clinton says in private, in speeches to the rich and powerful, is the opposite of what she says in public.
That is why silencing and threatening Julian Assange is so important. As the editor of WikiLeaks, Assange knows the truth. And let me assure those who are concerned, he is well, and WikiLeaks is operating on all cylinders.
Today, the greatest build-up of American-led forces since World War Two is under way – in the Caucasus and eastern Europe, on the border with Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, where China is the target.
Keep that in mind when the presidential election circus reaches its finale on November 8th, If the winner is Clinton, a Greek chorus of witless commentators will celebrate her coronation as a great step forward for women. None will mention Clinton’s victims: the women of Syria, the women of Iraq, the women of Libya. None will mention the civil defence drills being conducted in Russia. None will recall Edward Bernays’ “torches of freedom”.
George Bush’s press spokesman once called the media “complicit enablers”.
Coming from a senior official in an administration whose lies, enabled by the media, caused such suffering, that description is a warning from history.
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”
Editors Note: This “Re-declaration of Independence” was first published in the North American News Service (Summer 1995) to restore the sovereignty of the American people. Then it was included as Chapter 15 in the 2nd Edition of the Global Sovereign’s Handbook (1998). Every year since then it’s been republished on July 4th as a sobering reminder of how far from the original design the American Republic has strayed.
All thirteen free and independent, sovereign states of America, excepting the sovereign Indian nations, were in agreement in making the original Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The people then, as the people now, have gathered the courage to liberate themselves from the bondage of foreign “rule.”
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a nation, a group of people, or an individual to declare themselves free from the “rule” of another, then it is common decency, with respect to the opinions of all other people, to explain the reasons or grounds for the declaration.
Statement of Unalienable Rights and Natural Law
We the People believe these truths to be self-evident, to be so obvious that they need no proof, that all people, both men and women, regardless of race, sex, creed, or color are created equal under the natural law. We believe the Creator gives all of us certain unalienable rights that cannot be taken away. These unalienable rights are above and beyond the civil rights any government may enumerate. That among these rights are life, liberty, property, family, community, and the freedom to enjoy happiness.
To assure that these unalienable rights are protected and preserved for all the people, governments are created to enforce and defend the public trust. The source of authority from which all governments are created shall remain with the people for all time. We the People are the sovereign power from which all laws and governments arise.
If a government abuses its power or usurps the public trust, then the people have the unalienable right and a duty to change, alter or reform their government, or to abolish it completely and start a new one that will abide by the principles of natural law.
UnCOMMON SENSE dictates that an established government should not be overthrown for petty reasons. However, it is the nature of human beings to tolerate mistreatment, to grow accustomed to tyranny and chains rather than risk getting rid of a repressive and uncompassionate master.
Government maybe a necessary and often unpredictable evil, but at certain times during its history, a government will go too far in abusing the rights of its people. Today, more and more of the American people are realizing that the federal United States government has consistently lied, cheated, stolen, abused and killed its own people for many generations, that the American people have more to fear from their own government than enemies abroad or criminals within.
That the natural expression of our freedoms, the right to own property, and the unalienable rights secured by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are perceived as a threat by our own government is a symptom of the inevitable conclusion that the federal government must be stopped! Illegal, immoral and unconscionable activities of a government out of control have now reached into the lives of all Americans.
When this happens, it is the peoples’ right and duty to abolish the current government and set up a new one that will better protect our rights, preserve our liberties, and uphold the public trust. Through this “Re-Declaration of Independence,”
We the People must once again become a free, sovereign people. We the People can reclaim our sovereign Citizenship of one of the several states of the constitutional Republic. Read more (pdf)…
This move follows the release of the damning Senate report on CIA torture that includes the case of German citizen Khalid El-Masri, who was captured in 2004 by CIA agents in a case of mistaken identity. The report revealed the shocking contrast of democracy and corruption.
Bizarrely, the only person involved with the CIA torture program who has been charged with a crime is the man who exposed the war crimes — whistleblower John Kiriakou.
The relevant parties in this case have given an extensive interview to Democracy Now. Some of the important points are below.
“By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights said this:
“I strongly disagree that Bush, Cheney, et al., would have a defense. This wasn’t like these memos just appeared independently from the Justice Department. These memos were facilitated by the very people — Cheney, etc. — who we believe should be indicted. This was part of a conspiracy so they could get away with torture. But that’s not the subject here now.”
“Secondly, whatever we think of those memos, they’re of uselessness in Europe. Europe doesn’t accept this, quote, ‘golden shield’ of a legal defense. Either it’s torture or it’s not. Either you did it or you didn’t. And that’s one of the reasons, among others, why we’re going to Europe and why we went to Europe to bring these cases through the European Center.”
“But, of course, you know, Cheney just showed us exactly why you have to — have to prosecute torture. Because if you don’t prosecute it, the next guy down the line is going to torture again. And that’s what Cheney said: ‘I would do it again.’”
Khalid El-Masri was on vacation in Skopje, in Macedonia, when he was pulled off of a bus by government agents, sodomized with a drug, and taken to the secret base that was identified only as Cobalt in the CIA torture report. After four months, and after the United States learned of the mistaken identity, they left him there and continued to torture him. They held him further because the U.S. realized they had been torturing the wrong man. Afterwards, they released him, dropping him off somewhere to resume his life.
El-Masri’s comments to Democracy Now highlight the contrast of democracy and corruption:
[translated] I was the only one in this prison in Kabul who was actually treated slightly better than the other inmates. But it was known among the prisoners that other prisoners were constantly tortured with blasts of loud music, exposed to constant onslaughts of loud music. And they were—for up to five days, they were just sort of left hanging from the ceiling, completely naked in ice-cold conditions. The man from Tanzania, whom I mentioned before, had his arm broken in three places. He had injuries, trauma to the head, and his teeth had been damaged. They also locked him up in a suitcase for long periods of time, foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit all the time. Other people experienced forms of torture whereby their heads were being pushed down and held under water.
“And let me just say, Germany — whatever happened before, between the NSA spying on Germany and the fact that their citizen has now been revealed to have been kept in a torture place, when it was known that he was innocent, I’m pretty sure that Germany is going to take this very seriously.“
We need to throw our full support behind this investigation and our government and the Obama administration needs to not impede it in any way. This is a harsh indictment of our hypocrisy as a nation when it comes to democracy and corruption.
There aren’t many subjects I’d agree with Sen. McCain on, but kudos to him for speaking out so clearly and honestly on CIA torture, unlike others who wanted the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program delayed or kept secret forever. Kudos to him also for speaking out on why some are raising panicky objections to the release of the report:
There was considerable misinformation disseminated then about what was and wasn’t achieved using these methods in an effort to discourage support for the legislation. There was a good amount of misinformation used in 2011 to credit the use of methods with the death of Osama Bin Laden, and there is, I fear, misinformation being used today to prevent the release of this report, disputing its findings and warning about the security consequences of their public disclosure.With the report’s release, will the report’s release cause outrage that leads to violence in some parts of the Muslim world? Yes, I suppose that’s possible, perhaps likely. Sadly, violence needs little incentive in some quarters of the world today. But that doesn’t mean we will be telling the world something it will be shocked to learn. The entire world already knows that we waterboarded prisoners. It knows we subjected prisoners to various other types of degrading treatment. It knows we used black sites, secret prisons. Those practices haven’t been a secret for a decade. Terrorists might use the report’s reidentification of the practices as an excuse to attack Americans, but they hardly need an excuse for that. That has been their life’s calling for a while now.
What might cause a surprise not just to our enemies, but to many Americans is how little these practices did to aid our efforts to bring 9/11 culprits to justice and to find and prevent terrorist attacks today and tomorrow. That could be a real surprise since it contradicts the many assurances provided by intelligence officials on the record and in private that enhanced interrogation techniques were indispensable in the war against terrorism.
And I suspect the objection of those same officials to the release of this report is really focused on that disclosure; torture’s ineffectiveness. Because we gave up much in the expectation that torture would make us safer. Too much. Obviously, we need intelligence to defeat our enemies, but we need reliable intelligence. Torture produces more misleading information than actionable intelligence. And what the advocates of harsh and cruel interrogation methods have never established is that we couldn’t have gathered as good or more reliable intelligence from using humane methods. The most important lead we got in the search for Osama Bin Laden came from conventional interrogation methods. I think it’s an insult to the many intelligence officers who have acquired good intelligence without hurting or degrading suspects. Yes, we can and we will.
But in the end, torture’s failure to serve its intended purpose isn’t the main reason to oppose its use. I have often said and will always maintain that this question isn’t about our enemies, it’s about us. It’s about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be.
When I was in high school in the 1960s, I had this fabulous high school teacher who asked the students what period in history we wanted to study. We chose the Vietnam War because that was what was happening in our midst at that time. As a class, we invited in speakers from every possible perspective and we got magazines from every possible perspective. We looked at fascist, communist, socialist, left wing, right wing, I.F. Stone’s Weekly, Council on Foreign Relations/Foreign Affairs. We really would have a huge array of perspectives and then, as a class, we would discuss them. This experience opened up a world of learning to me and it especially opened up the world of tracking current events as they were unfolding, realizing that history is being made right now.
A big part of the motivation for ThriveTogether was to share that experience with our network, to help share the skills and the experience of tracking what’s going on right now in the world, whether it has to do with following the money or breakthrough technologies, or new solutions strategies, all kinds of alternative eco-communities around the world, education…any number of things. Everything is changing right now in really radical ways and we are tracking that and sharing what we’re learning with our network and learning from you.
That’s what’s happening and in our first ever live event this weekend we talked a little more about following the money and about some possible scenarios that we can imagine from our perspective. We don’t know what’s going to be happening, but we know that major global changes are going down right now, so I wanted to share some of them with you, our broader network, and to say if you can join the conversation through ThriveTogether, great! If you can’t, I highly encourage you to be tracking these things on your own because it’s really an amazing time in history and the ramifications are profound.
What’s going on right now? In 1944, after World War II, the Bretton Woods Agreement established the IMF and the World Bank and it was soon after that that the U.S. dollar was established as the sole currency for international trade. Now, for the first time since then, countries all around the world, growing numbers (every few days new countries are joining in on this) are trading not using the dollar. It includes Canada, New Zealand, Paksitan, Russia, China, Australia, India. Every day someone new is joining in on that. It’s very significant.
I think between Russia and China, nearly a trillion dollars worth of deals have been done just since this summer. It’s now November, 2014. China opened a $4.2 trillion stock market to the world also in this month. That’s going to have major ramifications on the U.S stock market. In Toronto, Canada, it was just announced there’s going to be the first off-shore hub for Chinese currency, the renminbi, of which the yuan is the basic unit. Also, there was a G-20 meeting this November 15th and 16th. I’m actually going to read the communiqué that was official that came out of there, just to get a feel that big things are happening right now and I do encourage you to be tracking it because it’s very significant.
“The implementation of the 2010 reforms remains our highest priority for the IMF and we urge the United States to ratify them. If this has not happened by year-end, we ask the IMF to build on its existing work and stand ready with options for next steps.”
So what does this mean? The 2010 reforms basically have to do with countries becoming Basel III compliant. Basel III compliance means that banks agree to have a higher percentage of reserves in the bank. The intention is supposedly to keep a crash like what happened in 2008 from having dire global consequences. It creates a little bit of a buffer between countries. That’s the idea and the United States has not agreed to be compliant with that. Now, the G-20 is organizing to say that we’re going to do something if the U.S. doesn’t agree.
The point is that the role of the United States in global affairs is changing. The role of the dollar is changing. I’m going to offer here five possible scenarios that could be unfolding with the information that we have. Like I said, we don’t know, but I really do encourage you to be tracking it. I am fortunate enough to have grandchildren, but whether you do or not, I think of it that one of these days some young person is going to come up and say, “What were you doing during these times?” So much is going on now in what could be considered the greatest fascist takeover of all times and I encourage you to do what you can so you can answer that question by saying, “I was awake and I was doing everything that I could do to help create a thriving world for you.”
So, tune in and take care to participate in these amazing, unprecedented times and here are some possible scenarios. Thanks. Read more…