January 17, 2020

The religion of empire

January 9

Eli and Fred spend part of the hour on the US Empire: what it has done to other countries since WW II, why both political parties can't really oppose it, and why most Americans can't even conceive of it. Confronted by the good possibility of another war in the Middle East, it is time to be honest about what empire means in the "Land of the Free."

World Beyond War

Yes, we spent a good deal of time exploring the way we felt about our country. Each new war crime makes us realize how far away we are from the country we had grown up believing in. Even after the Vietnam War, I held onto the convenient assumption that my country just made some mistakes in judgment. The Land of the Free just got confused, and we didn't really mean to kill two or three million Vietnamese.

Living with that assumption is hard enough. It became even more difficult when I saw my country doing the same things in Latin America in the 1980s. This time, I couldn't avoid seeing the structural problems of my beloved homeland. There was racism at home, and imperialism abroad, all fed by the never ending lust for profit. A blood lust really, since those elites at the very top have always known that empire requires brutal and savage behavior.

Most good Americans are much better than that. If they knew what went on in the Third World, they would be horrified. It helps to have been in the US Army stationed in Korea. Racism and brutality are always part of a military occupation. And when a country has 800 military bases in the rest of the world, it ends up spilling blood in so many places.

Savage capitalism is the religion of the empire, and its sacrificial victims are always black or brown. 

Hi Fred, Eli, and Raphaelle,

I'm a fan of your show but have never gotten in touch before. I'm sure you're all following the Iran situation. A few thoughts have come to me, inspired by listening to your show:

- The Times, the Post, and NPR are all repeating the Trump administration's claim that Soleimani was planning an attack on the U.S. While there's no way for the media to know for sure whether this is true--it could be--none of the media outlets are even raising the possibility that this claim might be a lie. They're not voicing any scepticism. Given the Gulf of Tonkin affair, the Bush administration's lies that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and had WMDs, and the revelations of the Afghanistan Papers, how can any self-respecting editorial board not at least raise the possibility that the administration is lying in order to rally the public around the flag with a war prior to an election, and to deflect attention away from impeachment? It seems that even "liberal" media outlets are willing to set aside their differences with the Trump administration when it comes to propping up American imperialism and the military-industrial complex. No surprise to listeners of your show. 

- Let's assume for a moment that an attack on the U.S. was planned by Iran and that the U.S. action was preemptive. I remember the debate during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The debate was over whether a preemptive strike is acceptable, ethical, or rational. The debate has changed greatly since then: That a preemptive strike is warranted is no longer a matter of debate. Again, none of the editorial sections of the major news outlets are debating whether a preemptive strike is acceptable. I see this change as another step down the road--which we have been on since the end of the Second World War--towards brainwashing the public into accepting permanent war. 

Keep up your important work on the air!


Beacon, NY

January 11, 2020

The sorrows of empire

January 2

GUEST: Tarak Kauff, US Army Veteran, Editor of "Peace in Our Times, and board member of Veterans for Peace, talks about his history of organizing nonviolent direct action for peace in Washington DC, Korea, Okinawa, and Ireland.

No Country For Old Men: Two US Veterans Go MIA in Ireland

After a number of nonviolent direct actions at the White House, New York City, Korea, Okinawa and the West Bank, Tarak met his match in Ireland. The Irish people got his message against US imperialism, at least 8 month of it because the Irish government wouldn't let these two vets, Tarak and Ken, go back home.

Tarak, a perpetual optimist, thinks that his extended visit was a window of opportunity. The vets spent two weeks in jail, but the rest of the time marching, holding banners and passing out flyers in this "neutral" country.

So if Ireland is in fact neutral, why are US troops bound for the Middle East stopping at Shannon Airport? It is not that the Republic of Ireland doesn't know about colonialism. The Irish people will always remember the centuries they spent under the boot of an occupying army, intent on robbing and humiliating them. Why would this proud country help in the invasion and occupation of the Middle East?

Tarak and Ken went about the countryside asking that question. Maybe it is a question that should be asked in more countries. Since World War II, the US has overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 84 elections and attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders. We have bombed people in over 30 countries. With 800 overseas bases, we are the world's most active killing machine. At least that is what the vast majority of earth's citizens think; they consistently name America as the biggest impediment to peace in the world.

The rest of the world gets it, of course. Tarak and Ken spent eight months in Ireland trying to educate the American people. The empire will continue until US citizens put a stop to it by getting rid of the two war parties and starting a national media that respects human rights over Wall Street profits. Only then will the sorrows of empire cease. 

January 6, 2020

Turning back the clock on our global warming end-times

December 26

GUEST: Robert Connors, founding member of “Community Advocates for a Sustainable Environment," co-founder of “Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline,” and founding member of “Community Advocates for a Sustainable Environment," talks about grassroots activism versus the neoliberal fossil fuel industry. 

Stop Fracked Gas Pipeline

Hard to kill a very bad idea like fracking. Hard if that idea is making a lot of money for some elite investors and unethical banks. That's the way it is, and most of us can see it quite clearly in this year of 2020 vision.

Nuclear energy had the same problem. Investors and banks poured money in, the governmental regulators looked the other way, and our media rolled over and died, like the animals around Chernobyl or Fukushima. Like the people.

In fact, petroleum has always attracted the worst of the worst when it comes to human scum. Whether they are polluting Africa, poisoning the atmosphere or buying up our politicians, these investor criminals have always been intent on destroying the world around them for their filthy billions.

People like Robert Connors eschew purple prose; they just organize their grassroots communities to keep the poisons out. They attend meetings, research scientific papers, write letters to the local editors, and sometimes get arrested for standing in the way. Can people like Connors stop the pillage of the world around us? Can they turn the clock back on our global warming end-times?

Join the picket line for your species. 

January 3, 2020

Taking the resistance to the next level

December 19

GUEST: Creek Iversen, naturalist, environmental educator, summer camp co-coordinator, and sustainable community farmer, talks about the resistance to the massive Cricket Valley fracked gas plant being built in Dutchess County, NY.

Cricket Valley Shut Down

It was a cold day to be at the top of an enormous fracking plant tower. Yet Creek and several other activists held their ground, delaying for another day the construction of the largest frack gas plant in New York State.

Plants like this will spew climate killing gases into the atmosphere for the next several decades, insuring that disasters like the conflagration of Australia will be happening all over the word. The pipelines supplying this plant are almost as bad. They are huge and accident prone due to poor government regulations. Not only do they jeopardize farms and small towns, but larger spills can mean the death of regional aquifers that serve millions of people.

Fracking is fossil fuels gone mad. At the bottom of all this are the neoliberal criminals intent on squeezing the last dollar out of their poisonous investments. I like to think that some day, as our world collapses around us, these CEOs will be dragged out of their gated communities to face justice.

In the meantime, let's congratulate people like Creek Iversen who has taken the resistance to the next level.   

Campus president employed by the State of Israel

December 12

GUESTS: Two students from Bard College talk about their participation in a Students for Justice in Palestine rally and how the college as well as some outside hate organizations are trying to undermine their freedom of speech on Palestinian rights.

SJP Bard College

The war against free speech is heating up again on campuses, including at Bard College. Supposedly known for its "liberal" atmosphere, Bard has been threatening students with disciplinary action after a campus rally for Palestinian rights.

My heart goes out to these students. Despite worries about their academic status on campus and about career opportunities after graduation, they simply forge ahead and do the right thing. They and their group, Students for Justice in Palestine, rallied against a Zionist speaker with a long history of racist statements. They held up protest signs in the audience. Now the college accuses them of being anti-Semites.

We covered a lot of areas in the interview. I hadn't know that the campus president was also employed by the State of Israel (Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra). I was also unaware of the financial pressures that Bard was under, making the college even more hesitant to allow a voice for Palestinians on campus. Some well connected Zionist alums had supposedly demanded that the Students for Justine in Palestine be disciplined.

One of the two students is Jewish, and his expression of solidarity with the Palestinian cause was quite moving. It's a good interview in that it gives listeners an inside look at campus censorship and the resistance against apartheid Israel. 

December 6, 2019

Exposing the savagery of the few

December 5

GUEST: Dr. Nancy Murray, former director of education at the ACLU of Massachusetts, author of the book Palestinians: Life Under Occupation, and co-founder of the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, talks about her over 20 trips to the West Bank and Gaza, and her evolving sense of what justice for Palestinians means. 

Water Justice in Palestine

Dr. Murray gave us the background story. Zionist leaders had long planned to seize and control water resources in the Holy Land. Using the ethnic cleansing of the Nakba, and the various invasions of the West Bank since then, Israel has been able to control all the water, giving it freely to five million Jewish citizens while severely limiting it to five million Palestinians.

Of course, the Palestinians can't really grow crops with their restricted access to water. It's all part of the plan. Palestinians in Gaza hardly get any potable water at all, thanks to Israel's invasions and destruction of infrastructure. Half of the apartheid state is thirsty every day. The other half gets an unlimited supply for their pools and manicured lawns.

How does anyone not recognize the monstrosity such treatment? The occupation of Palestine is really a slow genocide, as are most imperialist colonies. The English colonized India and oversaw four major famines that killed over 50 million. The French colonized Algeria and starved large numbers of its native inhabitants. The Germans did the same in Namibia, and the Dutch had a long history of genocide in Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and South Africa.

The colony of Israel is not an aberration, but only the latest in a long line of European bloodletting for profit. Someday, the occupation of Palestine will be over and the survivors will explore how Western civilization allowed such barbarism to thrive. As Gandhi suggested, Western civilization  would have been a "good idea."

What is left for the rest of us who are not profiting from butchering people in the Third World? We can expose the savagery of the few and demand change. Palestine will be free.