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The House and Senate have rammed through Fast Track.
Here are the senators who voted for Fast Track: http://1.usa.gov/1GtAdTH
And the House members who voted for Fast Track: http://1.usa.gov/1GAl1TT
We always said this would virtually guarantee passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But it doesn't absolutely guarantee it.
One way to stop it would be to pull out a seldom-used tactic in the United States that is indispensible in other nations. We could threaten consequences at the polling place for TPP supporters.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, I know -- No, not kidding, I actually know -- that in some small percentage of cases this could end up meaning that you've committed to voting against someone who faces in a future election someone else who looks even worse. But fear of that has in fact produced a pattern of, in fact, worse candidates followed by even worse candidates for years now. How, pray tell, do you propose to ever get any better candidates?
The TPP is a disaster that towers over considerations of gentility and lesser-evilism. This is Congress, as our supposed representatives, giving the power to overturn its own laws to corporations. Why would you care whom you elect to a body that no longer has the power to make laws? It's already given up the power to stop wars.
The TPP is NAFTA on steroids, economically and environmentally destructive at home and abroad. Most of it has nothing to do with trade, but is rather about empowering banks and corporations with powers that couldn't be passed separately or transparently because they're too terrible and unpopular.
It's time we take a stand against wrecking the world, even with corrupt politicians who can find someone slightly more corrupt to run against.
It's time we signed this petition:
If you don't oppose and vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I will oppose and vote against you in every future primary and general election in which you are a candidate.
June 28 will mark 6 years since the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras took the people's government away from them. Thousands of people are still in the streets every week demanding that the wrongful president step down.
"Whoever's not jumping supports the coup!" is the shout as a sea of people leaps repeatedly into the air. The makers of an amazing new film called Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley, will be allowing anyone to view it online for free for two weeks. I recommend you do so.
Honduras has not simply turned into the worst home of violent crime. And the people have not simply fled to the U.S. border (much compassion they'd receive there!) -- No, thousands and thousands of people in this little nation have taken back their land, occupied it, created communities, and built a future, with or without the coup.
President Manuel Zelaya had said he would help. Oligarchs had seized land, or bought land and then devalued the currency. Miguel Facussé took over palm oil plantations, evicted people from their land, got richer than rich, and allowed cocaine flights from Colombia to land on his plantations with U.S. knowledge.
The U.S. for years had been funding, training, and arming soldiers for the oligarchs of Honduras. The leaders of the 2009 coup that overthrew Zelaya had all trained at the School of the Americas in the United States. The U.S. assisted in the coup and in recognition of the coup government. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were part of and are part of this ongoing crime, and U.S. military supply shipments to Honduras are at record levels now as the military has merged with the police and turned its weaponry against the people.
The coup was followed by phony elections. The people knew to look elsewhere for answers. They looked to themselves. In the Aguan Valley in the north, thousands of families took over thousands of hectares by squatting, building, and farming. And they created communities of such camaraderie that they found themselves saying thanks for the coup.
They faced, and still face, regular attacks by killers on motorcycles, but they have nowhere else to go, and they have made the most of it, creating self-sustaining centers of life in the countryside, replacing palm oil monoculture with farming that cares for the land. The dead in the film are of such a different type from the dead in Hollywood movies, that I wonder if people can really see these dead. I hope so. There is never any police investigation, never any charges brought. The people have lost a lawyer and a journalist as well as numerous of their own; the oligarchs have lost a few guards.
The people have also organized local and national assemblies. The men have learned to include women in positions of power. This popular resistance movement always backed the return of Zelaya, who finally negotiated his return to Honduras in 2011. He returned to a people demanding more democratic participation. He joined their movement and encouraged them to participate in the 2013 elections that they had determined to boycott.
During the meeting in the city at which the decision to participate in the election was made, the police in Aguan burned and bulldozed 90 houses, plus churches, and schools. The tears and the eloquence of the people affected must be watched; I cannot tell them to you.
You should watch the scenes of the people meeting with their ousted president, Zelaya, the rightful president of Honduras, and then watch the scene of President Obama meeting with his usurper in the White House. As Facussé threatens to evict everyone from their land, we see a U.S. State Department official meet with some of the campesinos. They tell him that they are offered land at 14% interest, while the World Bank offers it to the big corporations for 1%. He replies that his only area of work is human rights. So they tell him they have been gassed, imprisoned, tortured, and shot. He replies that he just wants to talk about peace. Or maybe he said "piece" of the action, I don't know.
The people see the United States as working on behalf of Dole, formerly the Standard Fruit Company, the same people for whom the U.S. military has been overthrowing governments since that of Hawaii in 1893. Is there any good reason anyone should ever buy Dole products?
The struggle, and the movie, goes on -- filmed over a period of years. Leaders are forced into exile after murder attempts. The burned and bulldozed buildings are rebuilt. And the November 2013 elections arrive, and are blatantly stolen. Zelaya's wife runs on the people's platform against the "law and order" candidate of the military. Observers from the EU and the OAS declare the election legitimate, but individual members of those commissions denounce that conclusion as corrupt and fraudulent. Students lead the protests, and the protests continue to grow.
And the people in the country go right on taking back more of their land and reclaiming it as a source of life rather than death. These people need no aid. They need simply to be allowed to live. All immigrants should be welcomed everywhere by everyone, with no hesitation. Obama should immediately cease deporting children back to a nation he's helped to ruin. But I think most people would be shocked by how little immigration there would be in the world if the corporations and the killers stopped migrating, and people were allowed to live peacefully and equally in the place they love: their land.
Kevin Gosztola is a journalist for Firedoglake.com and co-host of the weekly podcast radio show, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He regularly covers whistleblowing, secrecy and WikiLeaks. He extensively covered the court martial of Chelsea Manning and co-authored Truth and Consequences: The US v. Private Manning with The Nation's Greg Mitchell. He discusses recent FBI arrests of alleged supporters of ISIS, the imprisonment of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, and the harassment of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum.
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Books about how World War I started, and to a lesser degree how World War II started, have tended in recent years to explain that these wars didn’t actually come as a surprise, because top government officials saw them coming for years. But these revised histories admit that the general public was pretty much clueless and shocked.
The fact is that anyone in the know or diligently seeking out the facts could see, in rough outline, the danger of World War I or World War II coming years ahead, just as one can see the threats of environmental collapse and World War III approaching now. But the general public lacked a decent understanding prior to the first two world wars and lacks it now on the looming dangers created by environmental destruction and aggressive flirtation with World War III.
What led to the first two world wars and allowed numerous wise observers to warn of them years ahead, even to warn of World War II immediately upon completion of the treaty that ended World War I? A number of factors ought to be obvious but are generally overlooked:
- Acceptance of war, leading to steady preparation for it.
- A major arms race, making instruments of death in fact our leading industry, with hope placed in a balance or domination of powers of war, rather than an overcoming of war.
- The momentum created for war by massive investment in highly profitable (and status and career advancing) weaponry and other military expenditures.
- Fear in each nation of the war intentions of the others, driven by propaganda that encourages fear and discourages understanding of the other sides.
- The belief produced by the above factors that war, unlike the tango, only takes one. On the basis of that belief, each side must prepare for war as self-protection from another war-maker, but doing so is not believed to be a choice or an action of any kind; rather, it is a law of physics, an inevitable occurrence, something to be observed and chattered about like the weather.
- The consequent, though seemingly mad, willingness by those in power to risk potentially apocalyptic war rather than to pursue survival without war.
World War I was preceded by wars in North Africa and South-Eastern Europe. Weapons spending and war planning soared. Efforts to preserve the peace were launched. Then Austria-Hungary was handed an excuse for attacking Serbia, and certain Germans saw an excuse for attacking Belgium and France, and certain Brits saw an opportunity for fighting Germany, and so forth, and the slaughter was on. It could have been prevented, but the policies of decades made it likely, regardless of the immediate trigger. The public had very little idea.
World War II followed decades of the first war’s victors causing the German people to suffer economically while building up bitter resentment, of another unprecedented arms race, of Western investment in Nazis as preferable to leftists, and of training up Japan as a junior partner in empire but turning against it when it went too far. The Nazi treatment of Jews was knowable and protested. The U.S. military’s aggression toward Japan was knowable and protested. The U.S. government drew up a list of actions that could provoke a Japanese attack, including an embargo on oil, and took each of those actions.
Much of the public never saw either world war coming. Much of the U.S. public believed the U.S. would stay out of the wars once they had begun. And U.S. voters twice elected presidents who were planning to enter world wars but campaigning on promises not to.
David Fromkin’s book on the beginning of World War I, Europe’s Last Summer, draws just the wrong conclusions. “It was no accident that Europe went to war at that time,” he writes. “It was the result of premeditated decisions by two governments. [He means Austria and Germany.] Once those two countries had invaded their neighbors, there was no way for the neighbors to keep the peace. That was true in World War II; at Pearl Harbor, Japan made the war-or-peace decision not merely for itself, but for the unwilling United States as well, by launching its attack. Nor had America any more choice in Europe in 1941; Hitler’s Germany declared war on the United States, to which America was obliged to respond.”
Fromkin is giving an accurate description of a war of rich on poor. When the United States attacks Iraq or Syria or Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia or Afghanistan or Libya or Panama or Vietnam, etc., etc., no cooperation is required from the poor nation that is bombed or invaded. There is war because the Pentagon says so, although the form that resistance takes is completely open to choice. But had the nations that Fromkin grants innocence in World Wars One and Two spent the previous decades disarming and practicing respectful diplomacy, aid, cooperation, peacemaking, and establishment of the rule of law, there could not have been the rich-on-rich wars that constitute the worst short-time-period events in human history and have been avoided since 1945. Fromkin traces, as most authors do, Germany’s WWI aggression to its fear of its neighbors. What if those neighbors had been unfearable?
Perhaps they would have been attacked anyway. Iraq and Libya disarmed, in terms of so-called WMDs, and the U.S. attacked them.
Or perhaps they would have been left alone. Most nations that do not threaten their neighbors are not threatened in return.
In any case, there would have been no world wars killing tens of millions of people if there hadn’t been willing partners on both sides. Any war there was would have been one-sided. Any nonviolent resistance would likewise have experienced one-sided suffering. But most of the death and destruction would not have happened.
The United States has pulled out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty and expanded NATO to a dozen new nations, moving right up to the border of Russia. It’s placed troops and weapons on the Russian border. It’s organized a coup in Ukraine and installed a Ukrainian government full of neo-Nazis. It’s lied to its people about Russian invasions and Russian attacks on airplanes. It’s fantasized about its missile-defense system allowing it to attack Russia, or China for that matter, without counter-attack. It’s proposed to put more nukes in Europe aimed at Russia. It’s built bases around the edges of China. It’s trying to militarize Japan again. It’s imposed sanctions on Russia. It’s threatened, mocked, ridiculed, and demonized Russia and its president — and North Korea for good measure. Informed observers warn of the heightened risk of nuclear Armageddon. And most people in the United States haven’t a clue.
While I’m not suffering under the delusion that violence is Russia’s only or wisest or most strategic response, neither am I urging Russia to turn the other cheek. Having been saddled with a U.S. identity when I’d prefer a local or global one, it’s not my place to tell Russia what to do (could I improve on Tolstoy?). But I can tell the U.S. public to wake up and put a stop to this madness before it kills us all. World War III is not inevitable, but it is clearly headed our way if we don’t change course. And changing course would give us our best shot at avoiding environmental disaster as well.
The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations deals with such an engaging topic that even this new book can't really make it boring, hard as it seems to try. When asked what historical figure I would most like to bring back to life and have a talk with I tend to think of Mossadeq, the complex, Gandhian, elected leader, denounced as both Hitler and a communist (as would become part of the standard procedure) and overthrown in an early CIA coup (1953) -- a coup that encouraged dozens more around the globe and led straight to the Iranian revolution and to today's Iranian distrust of the United States. I'm more inclined to believe that current Iranian distrust of the U.S. government is well-merited than blaming it on a long-ago coup implies, but the coup lies at the root of Iranian and worldwide skepticism about generous U.S. intentions.
It's also an interesting fact, supported by this case, that some of the best government actions, taken by any government around the world, have occurred just prior to various U.S.-backed violent coups -- and I include in that category the U.S. New Deal, followed by the unsuccessful Wall Street coup attempt rejected by Smedley Butler. Mossadegh had just done, among other things, these: Slashed the military budget 15%, launched an investigation into weapons deals, retired 135 senior officers, caused the military and police to report to the government rather than to the monarch, slashed stipends to the royal family, restricted the Shah's access to foreign diplomats, transferred the royal estates to the state, and drafted bills to give women the vote and protect the press and the independence of the Supreme Court and taxing extreme wealth by 2% and giving workers healthcare and upping peasants' share of the harvest by 15%. Facing an oil embargo, he cut state salaries, eliminated chauffeured cars for high officials, and restricted luxury imports. All of that was in addition, of course, to the cause of the coup: his insistence on nationalizing the oil from which a British company, and Britain, had been profiting enormously.
The bulk of the book is actually the lead-up to the coup, and much of the emphasis is on proving other historians wrong in their interpretations. Supposedly, historians tend to blame Mossadeq for intransigence, as well as to blame the U.S. action on its Cold War ideology. The author, Ervand Abrahamian, on the contrary, blames the British and Americans, and explains why this was centrally a question of who would control the oil lying underneath Iran. My reaction to that was the same as yours might be: No kidding!
So, reading this book is a bit like reading criticism of the corporate news after you've avoided the corporate news. It's good to see such outrageous lunacy debunked, but on the other hand you were getting along just fine not knowing it existed. Reading Richard Rorty, who gets an odd mention on the last page of the book, is somewhat similar -- it's great to see a fine critique of the stupid things philosophers think, but not knowing they thought them wasn't really so unpleasant either. Still, in all of these case, what you don't know can hurt you. What a group of bad historians thinks about the history of U.S.-Iranian relations can inform current diplomacy (or lack thereof) in ways that are easier to spot if you know exactly what these people have deluded themselves with.
Abrahamian does document numerous historians who believe the British were reasonable and ready to compromise, whereas -- as the author shows -- that actually describes Mossadeq, while the British were unwilling to do any such thing. His inclusion of Stephen Kinzer in the list of historians getting it wrong is probably the most stretched, however. I don't think Kinzer actually believes that Mossadeq was to blame. In fact, I think Kinzer not only blames the United States and Britain, but he also openly admits that what they did was a really bad thing (in contrast to Abrahamian's emotion-free recounting).
Abrahamian gives extreme importance to the economic motivation, as opposed to racism for example. But of course the two work together, and Abrahamian documents both of them. If Iranians looked like white Americans, the acceptability of stealing their oil would be less clear in all minds, then and now.
The 1953 coup became a model. The arming and training of the local military, the bribing of local officials, the use and abuse of the United Nations, the propaganda against the target, the stirring up of confusion and chaos, the kidnapping and deportation, the misinformation campaigns. Abrahamian points out that even U.S. diplomats in Iran at the time didn't know the U.S. role in the coup. The same is almost certainly true today about Honduras or Ukraine. Most Americans have no idea why Cuba fears an open internet. Just foreign backwardness and stupidity, we're supposed to think. No there's an ideology that both fueled the ongoing age of the CIA / USAID / NED coup and has been reinforced by its criminal adventures.
Congress members are often pressured in how to vote by the moneyed interests that buy their television ads, which in turn persuade the media to "cover" them nicely and dumb people to vote for them. But more often they are pressured in how to vote by the leaders of their two mega-parties who in turn answer to greater moneyed interests.
Thus three Republicans who voted against their leader's wishes in one of a package of votes intended to ram through the Trans-Pacific Partnership disaster have now been stripped of their leadership positions.
But carrots are used as often as sticks. In May 2009, 60 congress members voted against dumping another $97 billion into the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. My own misrepresentative Tom Perriello voted for it. Then, in June 2009, 202 congress members voted against that same war funding combined with a massive bailout for East European bankers. Perriello voted for both, even though both progressives AND the Tea Partiers in his district were opposed. The White House immediately rewarded him. Van Jones and Steny Hoyer came down to this district and did events, and shortly later the Secretary of Agriculture did the same. They were all rather pointless events intended as oppotrunities to pose for cameras with Perriello. Obama later did one himself.
At the end of last week, 28 Democrats voted against the interests of Obama, which happen to be identical on the TPP as on so many things with the interests of the Republican leadership. Some of those Democrats may not have needed carrots or sticks. But some clearly got them. Four in particular, we know, were given a ride in a aeroplane. Wheeeeee! Obama took them to the G7 with him on Air Force One. They are the four horses asses of the coming TPP apocalypse. They are:
Gerry Connolly D - 11 - VA 202 225 1492 @gerryconnolly
Jim Himes D - 4 - CT 202 225 5541 @jahimes
Eddie Bernice Johnson D - 30 - TX 202 225 8885 @repebj
Mike Quigley D - 5 - IL 202 225 4061 @repmikequigley
From ABC some images of Quigley and Bernice Johnson:
Here are the other Democrats who voted for corporate power on Friday. Watch how they vote today and in coming votes, and watch what rewards they're offered:
Brad Ashford D - 2 - NE 202 225 4155 @repbradashford
Ami Bera D - 7 - CA 202 225 5716 @repbera
Don Beyer D - 8 - VA 202 225 4376 @repdonbeyer
Earl Blumenauer D - 3 - OR 202 225 4811 @repblumenauer
Suzanne Bonamici D - 1 - OR 202 225 0855 @repbonamici
Jim Cooper D - 5 - TN 202 225 4311 @repjimcooper
Jim Costa D - 16 - CA 202 225 3341 @repjimcosta
Henry Cuellar D - 28 - TX 202 225 1640 @repcuellar
Susan Davis D - 53 - CA 202 225 2040 @repsusandavis
John Delaney D - 6 - MD 202 225 2721 @repjohndelaney
Suzan DelBene D - 1 - WA 202 225 6311 @repdelbene
Sam Farr D - 20 - CA 202 225 2861 @repsamfarr
Ruben Hinojosa D - 15 - TX 202 225 2531 @usrephinojosa
Derek Kilmer D - 6 - WA 202 225 5916 @repderekkilmer
Ron Kind D - 3 - WI 202 225 5506 @repronkind
Rick Larsen D - 2 - WA 202 225 2605 @repricklarsen
Greg Meeks D - 5 - NY 202 225 3461 @gregorymeeks
Beto O'Rourke D - 16 - TX 202 225 4831 @repbetoorourke
Scott Peters D - 52 - CA 202 225 0508 @repscottpeters
Jared Polis D - 2 - CO 202 225 2161 @repjaredpolis
Kathleen Rice D - 4 - NY 202 225 5516 @repkathleenrice
Kurt Schrader D - 5 - OR 202 225 5711 @repschrader
Terri Sewell D - 7 - AL 202 225 2665 @repterrisewell
Debbie Wasserman Schultz D - 23 - FL 202 225 7931 @repdwstweets