Saturday, June 27, 2009

Afghanistan: "And Now For Something Completely Different"

All Photos: Click to enlarge.

This week in New World Notes, radio program #70, June 30 & July 3:

New World Notes presents its First Annual "What the Heck Are We Doing in Afghanistan?" show. The title of this installment is Afghanistan: "And Now For Something Completely Different." Antiquarians will recognize the quotation from BBC-TV's Monty Python' Flying Circus, ca. 1970.

Between satiric sketches, cut to John Cleese, seated at a desk, resembling a BBC-TV announcer more than the real ones do. He looks up into the camera, pauses, then intones, deadpan, "And now for something completely different."

Cut to the next sketch, which proves to be quite similar to the previous one.

Dr. John Watson (Top, to left), friend and biographer to Sherlock Holmes
(to right) had his army career cut short by an archaic Jezail bullet that
injured him during the Battle of Maiwand, Afghanistan, in 1880 (Bottom).
In the 19th century, Britain made two major attempts to conquer and
rule Afghanistan. Both failed.

Sport's Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue; the Christmas Issue of Playboy; whatever that stupid football game is, with all the Roman numerals; and the State-of-the-Union fertilizer-spreading festival (a charming remnant of our republic's agrarian past) . . . . As with these other annual Media Events, we expect NWN's Annual Afghanistan Lamentation & Jeremiad to become a beloved part of America's popular culture.

Note to supermarket managers: Think lamb, rice, pignolia nuts, yogurt, and beard-grooming accessories to celebrate NWN-Afghanistan Day. Think low-price sales! In the East, on cutlery. In the Mountain States, on telescopic sights and medium-caliber rifle ammo (but don't hesitate to go down to .223 Rem if you're overstocked!). In California, North Beach, Provincetown, & parts of Westchester and Fairfield counties, yogurt from unusual mammals.

Top: NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Bottom: Expert U.S. rifleman demonstrates his mastery of hold,
use of sights, aim, and trigger control.

This week's lineup of heavy hitters:

  • Distinguished foreign correspondent Robert Fisk (talks)
  • Hartford lawyer & political activist Steve Fournier (rants--his term!)
  • Activist, SDS co-founder, & California politician Tom Hayden (is read aloud)
  • Musicians Willie Nelson and The Foremen (sing)
  • Dr. Kenneth Dowst (again tries & fails to make sense of U.S. foreign policy)

Coming soon (dates of WWUH Tuesday broadcast shown):

  • July 7--Greg Palast & John Pilger on Neocolonialism & Democracy
  • July 14--Are Our Schools Bad on Purpose? (J.T. Gatto, Part1)

Catch New World Notes (all times Eastern):


A better alternative

Friday, June 12, 2009

George Galloway, parts 1 and 2

All photos: click to enlarge.

This week and next in New World Notes, #68 (June 16) & #69 (June 23):

George Galloway is a sitting Member of Parliament of the U.K., Scottish-American by ancestry and accent, liberal-Left in politics, a man whose words are spoken unminced; a comforter of the afflicted, afflicter of the comfortable, and a genuine pain in the arse (pronounced "oss") to Established Power on three or four continents.

This year alone, he's been denied entry into two countries because of his danger to public security. The countries are Israel-controlled Palestine (Gaza)--whither he had lead a convoy of 110 vehicles and 350 Commonwealth volunteers attempting to bring relief supplies--and Canada.


Dancing Cheek-to-Cheek. Top: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
demonstrates Canada's new "Hail Victory" [in Afghanistan] salute.
Bottom: Nominal "Opposition" leader Michael Ignatieff said that he
"didn't lose any sleep" over the decimation of Lebanon in 2006.

Oh, yes. Canada's Conservative government has been trying its hardest to out-Bush Bush--in warmongering, privatizing everything, destroying public services, destroying civil liberties, and transferring wealth from the rabble into the hands of a better class of people.

Not that Galloway would play partisan politics in a foreign country. Besides, as he sees it, Canada's governing Conservative Party (headed by PM Stephen Harper) and the supposedly opposition Liberal Party (headed by MP Michael Ignatieff) are "two cheeks of the same arse." The U.K. has three major political parties, Galloway explains, "and if it were anatomically possible we'd have three cheeks of the same arse!"

George Galloway discovers the New World

Galloway's Celtic temper remains provoked at Ignatieff's remark on Israel's 2006 aerial bombardment of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure. Canada's Liberal Party leader announced that he was "not going to lose any sleep over" the destruction of southern Lebanon. Galloway seems to have lost plenty.

Had he spent more time in North America, I'm sure Galloway would by now be less surprised at our politicians' peculiar combination of moral cowardice, lack of principle, love of re-election, shamelessness, and delight in advancing the interests of anyone who has money to spend.

Too bad Galloway missed Candidate Obama's address to the AIPAC convention last year. He would have learned something humbling. Namely, that when it comes to combining freedom from principle with freedom from shame, the tired old pols of Old Europe can't begin to compete with us freedom-loving North Americans!

Expelled from Britain's governing Labour Party for his antiwar views and Palestinian sympathies, Galloway was returned to Parliament by constituents as a member of the Respect party.

Well, they never heard of you, either!

Under Harper, Canada had also forbidden entry to several American nuns and to nonviolent peace activists Kathy Kelly and Medea Benjamin--grave dangers, all, to Canada's citizens. To be fair to Harper, I admit that Kelly and Benjamin are convicted criminals. Trespassing, I believe. I can't speak for the nuns.

Galloway had been invited to address, on March 30, a conference sponsored by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War.

London, February 2009: The caravan prepares to depart.

Now, I affirm that I am not making this up. The Canadian government later informed Galloway that he had been kept out because of his recent attempt to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, following the Olmert-Livni-Barak-Bush-Blair "last hurrah" attempt to smash what was already a starving concentration camp back to the late Stone Age. I'm paraphrasing.

I never heard the details of the government's explanation. My guess is that Galloway's convoy had neglected to stop at Haifa and pay Customs duties on all the wheelchairs, bandages, blankets, diapers, building supplies, antibiotics, insulin, soap, the 12 ambulances, and the fire truck they were attempting to import. I assume that amounts to smuggling.

"Dirty Truths"

The world's most inept smuggler has been denied entry into worse dictatorships than Canada. Egypt, for instance. Still, the refusal of a British Commonwealth country to allow entry to a seated Member of the U.K. Parliament is most unusual. Maybe they were afraid he'd say something impolitic at the peace conference?

Perhaps that Israel--like the United States--is a blood-stained nation-state guilty of War Crimes, Crimes of Occupation, Crimes Against Humanity, "ethnic cleansing," and good, old-fashioned Bloody Murder--in Israel proper, in Sabra & Shatila refugee camps, elsewhere in Lebanon, in Jenin refugee camp and everywhere else in Palestine--most recently in Gaza, where those who survived the massive bombing and shelling of December-January are now back to merely being starved to death.

Ariel Sharon visits Jerusalem: two views. (Cartoon by Steve Bell.)

Galloway might also say that every illegal white-phosphorous bomb and cluster bomb dropped by the Israel Defense Forces on innocent Arab civilians was paid for by Americans' tax dollars and transshipped through the U.K. In fact, I'm pretty sure he would.

He might say that one country in the Middle East already has been "wiped off the map." That the name of that country is Palestine. That its wiper and ethnic cleanser was not Iran but Israel--with enthusiastic support and 100% funding by the U.S., U.K., and Canada under Harper.

That to call the sociopathic monster, Israeli General and later PM Ariel Sharon, a "butcher" would be grossly unfair to the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union.

Top: Sabra or Shatila, Lebanon, 1982
Bottom: Beirut suburb of Thaniye, Lebanon, 2006

Indeed, in calling Sharon a "monster" I'm probably being unfair to the Creature from the Black Lagoon--who never pretended that his homicides were committed with the blessing and approval of Almighty G-D Himself. Nor did he expect repayment from the U.S. Treasury for his expenses.

Up, up and away! (Where's my trial balloon?)

OK, I'm getting carried away here. . . . George Galloway does that to me.

Maybe the world would be a better place if more Americans turned off the damned telly and got carried away more ourselves.

Say, carried our fat osses into the streets in November 2000, demanding that President-elect Gore be installed as President instead of that sociopathic little cowboy-manque' who--despite huge amounts of election fraud--was able to play Presidente only following a coup d'etat spearheaded by five still-unhanged traitors who to this day presume to wear the robes of "justices" of the Supreme Court of what used to be a nice little Republic.

To put it as delicately as possible.

And yes, in case you missed it: Gore received the majority of popular votes in Florida. And would have been inaugurated as President had the Florida recount not been halted by the coup. Perhaps Fox News forgot to mention the unofficial but highly accurate recount conducted by The Roper Organization at the behest of a consortium of major media news organizations. Perhaps, after paying for it, most of them forgot to mention it.

Transatlantic views of Sharon. Top: Sharon as Goya's Saturn (from
The Independent). God of the Harvest, not of War, Saturn nonetheless
had the unhappy habit of devouring his own children.
Time Mag. puff-piece. "Soldier and Statesman"
ever-so-much nicer than "International Terrorist and War Criminal."
Who in the U.S. would dare to call him
that? Certainly not I! G.W. Bush
called Sharon "this man of Peace." At least it was "this man" and not
"the Prince"! As they say in Canada, thank God for small favors, eh? The
top illustration comes closer to Galloway's view and, I confess, my own.

I'm not saying that Gore would have been any great catch, understand. Only that I consider a spoiled rich graduate from an elite prep school who spent his career serving the interests of the rich and powerful, can't speak worth a damn in public, and was lawfully elected to be preferable to one of the same, installed in the White House by a CABAL of conspirators through force, fraud, betrayal of the public trust, and treason. Others may disagree.

"But to return to Madness . . . ":

The words we'll hear this week and next are a barn-burner of a speech Galloway gave in Toronto in late 2006--right after U.S. voters, in a stunning repudiation of the cowboy-commandante, put both houses of Congress into the hands of the Democrats--and thereby caused nothing whatsoever to change. But we hadn't realize this last part yet.

You'll be pleased to hear that the tone of Galloway's speech is not unrelieved indignation. There's also much humor, including a very funny true story involving that most underrated figure of the second Clinton administration, Monica Lewinsky.

Coming soon (dates of WWUH Tuesday broadcast shown):

  • June 23--George Galloway (2): on Palestine
  • June 30--Afghanistan: "And Now For Something Completely Different"

This program's music:

  • June 16: David Rovics, Hummer
  • June 23: David Rovics, Jenin

Catch New World Notes (all times Eastern):

Trivia Quiz!

Q: How does the Shatila massacre differ from My Lai?

A: No, it wasn't the religious preference of the majority of the men actually pulling the triggers on--or shoving the bayonnets into--the bodies of hundreds or thousands of helpless, unarmed, civilian old men, women, children, and babies. In both massacres, at-least-nominal Christians get the credit for doing most of the tough, hands-on work. Sharon's Israel Defense Forces, rather, designed the lighting and guarded the studio gates to prevent any "extras" from walking off the set--and then said to a Lebanese militia charmingly named the Phalange, "Have fun, boys!"

No, the difference is that, the day before the massacre, U.S. special ambassador Philip Habib did not tell the world that the United States guarantees the safety of the old men, women, children, and babies of My Lai. For more details, hear George Galloway in this adventure-packed installment!

I used to (but no longer) wonder how Habib--an Arab-American and a distinguished US diplomat--felt the morning after Sabra and Shatila. He had successfully negotiated the departure (to Tunisia!) of the camps' armed young Palestinian men. I never heard of his attempting to defend what had happened, which makes me suspect that he was a good man. This was the first of two times he was betrayed by the President of the country he had, apparently, very ably served. The same President: Ronald Reagan. Habib is said to be "The Envoy" celebrated in Warren Zevon's song.

Habib's Wikipedia entry is worth reading, if only for the reminder that once there was a time when a sense of honor and a longing for justice in the world were not incompatible with a career in the U.S. State Department. That time may have been short, and it may have been long past by 1982. But there must once have been a time.



Saturday, June 6, 2009

Support the Troops!

All photos: click to enlarge

This week in New World Notes, #67, June 9 & 12:

This week's installment bears the title, "Support the Troops!"

In fact, this is not the motto of the Pentagon, Department of Veterans Affairs, or White House. Their motto is not "Support . . . " but rather "F**k the Troops!" In excerpts from a recent talk, journalist Aaron Glantz explains the major ways these institutions do so. Fighting troops are treated shoddily, seriously injured troops (no longer useful to the War Machine) worse, and veterans worst of all.

Aaron Glantz

All those trillions of dollars of our tax money we pay for "defense"? They become profit for our patriotic war industries. The money isn't used to "support the troops" by, say, putting armor on their Humvees . . . supplying enough water to allow working all day in a desert without dehydration . . . preventing female soldiers from being raped by male soldiers and Blackwater goons . . . sending soldiers home after one tour of duty . . . providing all the benefits that the recruiters promised . . . and providing psychiatric care to all soldiers who need it.

And the more tours of duty in a combat zone they force you to endure, the more you'll need this last item . . . if you're lucky enough to avoid electrocution by the KBR-installed faulty wiring in your barracks.

Hence the high rates of suicide and of untreated psychiatric problems among soldiers on active duty today. And the even-higher rates of same among veterans. Then for the latter group let's add a few generous servings of mortgage foreclosure, divorce, alienation from one's family, alcohol and drug abuse, spouse abuse, other lawbreaking, unemployment, and homelessness.

What, me worry?

Top: somewhere in Iraq
Bottom: Kirkuk, northern Iraq

Glantz's survey of the customary and usual ways the military and the rest of the federal government abuse the troops is infuriating--even to anti-militarist, antiwar Conscientious Objectors such as the entire staff of New World Notes.

Glantz, too, since 'way back, has been antiwar and no fan of the military. But while reporting on the invasion and occupation of Iraq--I believe he was "unembedded"--he came to sympathize with and identify with the enlisted soldiers and called-up National Guardsmen.

But the exploitation and abuse of the country's "grunt" troops did not begin with Rumsfeld. I can trace it back almost a century, and I suspect that any bright undergraduate history major could trace it back at least as far as the Continental Army of George Washington.

To make the point, in addition to Glantz's talk I play a passage of testimony made before a Senate committee in 1971. Testimony made by an obscure combat veteran and antiwar activist named John Kerry.

Last, I read General Smedley Butler's 1935 expose' of how our soldiers and veterans of World War One have been treated--a section of Butler's celebrated long pamphlet, War is a Racket.

This week's music:

  • Roy Zimmerman, Thanks for the Support

Coming soon (dates of WWUH Tuesday broadcast shown):

  • June 16--George Galloway on War and Occupation
  • June 25--George Galloway on Palestine

Further information:

Butler's War is a Racket is available without charge on several Web sites. One good source--which offers the text in HTML, pdf, and ASCII formats--is

Catch New World Notes (all times Eastern):