Tuesday, December 5, 2017

No Meal, No Drink, No Bed, No Clothes, No Visitation

Institute Emeritus Professor, MIT Department of Linquistics and Philosophy, and author of Who Rules the World?, Noam Chomsky, wrote a very good background article regarding the history of the oligarchy “movement” which appeared in the Huffington Post back in 2012 entitled “Plutonomy and the Precariat”.  As, I wrote to my Senator upon her visit to Cuba in August, 2015, the fact that we are referred to as “dead peasants” in the three 2005 and 2006 Citigroup "Plutonomy" memos, well, I'm reminded of the “Five Points” and the “Dead Rabbits” in Herbert Asbury's 1928 non-fiction book The Gangs of New York:  An Informal History of the Underworld (fictionalized in Martin Scorsese's 2002 movie Gangs of New York)!  Those “Plutonomy” memos paint quite a different picture than the one that follows . . . .

“And, in His address to the House and the Senate in Joint Session, after speaking to the ‘righteous sheep’ on His right (those on His right would be the Democrats), He will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on His left (the ones on His left are the Repugnantcans), and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats!  You're good for nothing but the fires of hell.  And why?  Because ‐

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was homeless and you gave me no bed,

I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,

Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

Then those ‘goats’ (on His left, the Repugnantcans) are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about?  When did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?’

He will answer them, ‘I'm telling the solemn truth:  Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was Me ‐ you failed to do it to Me.’

Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘righteous sheep’ ‐ the true men ‐ to their eternal reward.”

Though it is difficult to choose between the Amplified “Classic” Version, The Message Version, and the J. B Phillips Version when reading Matthew 25:31-46, I'm uncertain as to how the Repugnantcans can miss the point of the story in almost any version of the New Witnessing!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Preliminary Words to Faith . . .

Over the years in various conversations around Ernest Becker's Pulitzer Prize winning book The Denial of Death:  Human Character as a Vital Lie (for an example, this “give-and-take” with a Bible camp director - my response), I've come to agree with Becker's statements regarding “a new anthropodicy”  We must have an abstract, full-field theory of human nature in order to compel agreement on a new science of human beings in society . . . .  But we cannot wait for such a theory, since it will never be “full”

AND

We must use our reading of nature as a guide to the paradigm which will be offered up for option, but we cannot continually lean on a passive reading of nature; we must make a willful option that is at all times based on incomplete knowledge.

More problematic is Becker's third essential element of a science of human being - The science of human being is characterized by a natural fusion of fact and value.  If the heart of a science of human being in society is half empirical and half ideal, then it must merge with religion (it cannot take over the full task of religion because it is not a theodicy:  it would limit itself to the use of human powers effecting whatever they can to overcome avoidable evil.)

So, today, Easter Sunday, 2017, I finished reading a chapter (pp. 19 - 27) in a little book by Oscar Cullmann, Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?  The Witness of the New Testament [London:  The Epworth Press, 1958] (encapsulating a lecture he delivered in Andover Chapel at Harvard University, April 26, 1955).  And I thought that it added to the on-going conversation around Becker's book.

See what you think.

THE LAST ENEMY:  DEATH


SOCRATES AND JESUS


NOTHING SHOWS more clearly than the contrast between the death of Socrates and that of Jesus (a contrast which was often cited, though for other purposes, by early opponents of Christianity) that the biblical view of death from the first is focused in salvation-history and so departs completely from the Greek conception. 1

In Plato's impressive description of the death of Socrates, in the Phaedo, occurs perhaps the highest and most sublime doctrine ever presented on the immortality of the soul.  What gives his argument its unexcelled value is his scientific reserve, his disclaimer of any proof having mathematical validity.  We know the arguments he offers for the immortality of the soul.  Our body is only an outer garment which, as long as we live, prevents our soul from moving freely and from living in conformity to its proper eternal essence.  It imposes upon the soul a law which is not appropriate to it.  The soul, confined within the body, belongs to [19] the eternal world.  As long as we live, our soul finds itself in a prison, that is, in a body essentially alien to it.  Death, in fact, is the great liberator.  It looses the chains, since it leads the soul out of the prison of the body and back to its eternal home.  Since body and soul are radically different from one another and belong to different worlds, the destruction of the body cannot mean the destruction of the soul, any more than a musical composition can be destroyed when the instrument is destroyed.  Although the proofs of the immortality of the soul do not have for Socrates himself the same value as the proofs of a mathematical theorem, they nevertheless attain within their own sphere the highest possible degree of validity, and make immortality so probable that it amounts to a ‘fair chance’ for man.  And when the great Socrates traced the arguments for immortality in his address to his disciples on the day of his death, he did not merely teach this doctrine:  at that moment he lived his doctrine.  He showed how we serve the freedom of the soul, even in this present life, when we occupy ourselves with the eternal truths of philosophy.  For through philosophy we penetrate into that eternal world of ideas to which the soul belongs, and we free the soul from the prison of the body.  Death does no more than complete this liberation.  Plato shows us how Socrates goes to his death in complete peace and composure.  The death of Socrates is a beautiful death.  Nothing is seen here of death's terror. Socrates cannot fear death, since indeed it sets us free from the body.  Whoever fears death [20] proves that he loves the world of the body, that he is thoroughly entangled in the world of sense.  Death is the soul's great friend.  So he teaches; and so, in wonderful harmony with his teaching, he dies ‐ this man who embodied the Greek world in its noblest form.

And now let us hear how Jesus dies.  In Gethsemane He knows that death stands before Him, just as Socrates expected death on his last day.  The Synoptic Evangelists furnish us, by and large, with a unanimous report.  Jesus begins ‘to tremble and be distressed’, writes Mark (14:33).  ‘My soul is troubled, even to death’, He says to His disciples.  2  Jesus is so thoroughly human that He shares the natural fear of death.  3  Jesus [21] is afraid, though not as a coward would be of the men who will kill Him, still less of the pain and grief which precede death.  He is afraid in the face of death itself.  Death for Him is not something divine; it is something dreadful.  Jesus does not want to be alone in this moment.  He knows, of course, that the Father stands by to help Him.  He looks to Him in this decisive moment as He has done throughout his life.  He turns to Him with all His human fear of this great enemy, death.  He is afraid of death.  It is useless to try to explain away Jesus' fear as reported by the Evangelists.  The opponents of Christianity who already in the first centuries made the contrast between the death of Socrates and the death of Jesus saw more clearly here than the exponents of Christianity.  He was really afraid.  Here is nothing of the composure of Socrates, who met death peacefully as a friend.  To be sure, Jesus already knows the task which has been given Him:  to suffer death; and He has already spoken the words:  ‘I have a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how distressed (or afraid) I am until it is accomplished’ (Luke 19:50).  Now, when God's enemy stands before Him, He cries to God, whose ommipotence He knows:  ‘All things are possible with thee; let this cup pass from me’ (Mark 14:30).  And when He concludes, ‘Yet not as I will, but as thou wilt’, this does not mean that at the last He, like Socrates, regards death as the friend, the liberator.  No, He only means this:  If this greatest of all terrors, death, must befall Me according to Thy will, then I submit to this horror.  Jesus knows that in [22] itself, because death is the enemy of God, to die means to be utterly forsaken. Therefore He cries to God; in face of this enemy of God He does not want to be alone.  He wants to remain as closely tied to God as He has been throughout His whole earthly life.  For whoever is in the hands of death is no longer in the hands of God, but in the hands of God's enemy.  At this moment, Jesus seeks the assistance, not only of God, but even of His disciples.  Again and again He interrupts His prayer and goes to His most intimate disciples, who are trying to fight off sleep in order to be awake when the men come to arrest their Master.  They try; but they do not succeed, and Jesus must wake them again and again.  Why does He want them to keep awake?  He does not want to be alone.  When the terrible enemy, death, approaches, He does not want to be forsaken even by the disciples whose human weakness He knows.  ‘Could you not watch one hour?’ (Mark 14:37).

Can there be a greater contrast than that between Socrates and Jesus?  Like Jesus, Socrates has his disciples about him on the day of his death; but he discourses serenely with them on immortality.  Jesus, a few hours before His death, trembles and begs His disciples not to leave Him alone.  The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who, more than any other New Testament author, emphasizes the full deity (1:10) but also the full humanity of Jesus, goes still farther than the reports of the three Synoptists in his description of Jesus' fear of death. In 5:7 he writes [23] that Jesus ‘with loud cries and tears offered up prayers and supplications to Him who was able to save Him’. 4  Thus, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Jesus wept and cried in the face of death.  There is Socrates, calmly and composedly speaking of the immortality of the soul; here Jesus, weeping and crying.

And then the death-scene itself.  With sublime calm Socrates drinks the hemlock; but Jesus (thus says the Evangelist, Mark 15:34 ‐ we dare not gloss it over) cries: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ And with another inarticulate cry He dies (Mark 15:37).  This is not ‘death as a friend’.  This is death in all its frightful horror.  This is really ‘the last enemy’ of God.  This is the name Paul gives it in 1 Corinthians 15:26, where the whole contrast between Greek thought and Christianity is disclosed. 5  Using different words, the author of the Johannine Apocalypse also regards death as the last enemy, when he describes how at the end death will be cast into the lake of fire (20:14).  Because it is God's enemy, it separates us from God, who is Life and the Creator of all life; Jesus, who is so closely tied to God, tied as no other man has ever been, for precisely this reason must experience death much [24] more terribly than any other man.  To be in the hands of the great enemy of God means to be forsaken by God.  In a way quite different from others, Jesus must suffer this abandonment, this separation from God, the only condition really to be feared.  Therefore He cries to God: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’  He is now actually in the hands of God's great enemy.

We must be grateful to the Evangelists for having glossed over nothing at this point.  Later (as early as the beginning of the second century, and probably even earlier) there were people who took offense at this ‐ people of Greek provenance.  In early Christian history we call them, Gnostics.

I have put the death of Socrates and the death of Jesus side by side.  For nothing shows better the radical difference between the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection.  Because Jesus underwent death in all its horror, not only in His body, but also in His soul, (‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me’), and as He is regarded by the first Christians as the Mediator of salvation, He must indeed be the very one who in His death conquers death itself.  He cannot obtain this victory by simply living on as an immortal soul, thus fundamentally not dying.  He can conquer death only by actually dying, by betaking Himself to the sphere of death, the destroyer of life, to the sphere of ‘nothingness’, of abandonment by God.  When one wishes to overcome someone else, one must enter his territory.  Whoever wants to conquer death must die; [25] he must really cease to live ‐ not simply live on as an immortal soul, but die in body and soul, lose life itself, the most precious good which God has given us.  For this reason the Evangelists, who none the less intended to present Jesus as the Son of God, have not tried to soften the terribleness of His thoroughly human death.

Furthermore, if life is to issue out of so genuine a death as this, a new divine act of creation is necessary.  And this act of creation calls back to life not just a part of the man, but the whole man ‐ all that God had created and death had annihilated.  For Socrates and Plato no new act of creation is necessary.  For the body is indeed bad and should not live on.  And that part which is to live on, the soul, does not die at all.

If we want to understand the Christian faith in the Resurrection, we must completely disregard the Greek thought that the material, the bodily, the corporeal is bad and must be destroyed, so that the death of the body would not be in any sense a destruction of the true life.  For Christian (and Jewish) thinking the death of the body is also destruction of God‐created life.  No distinction is made:  even the life of our body, is true life; death is the destruction of all life created by God.  Therefore it is death and not the body which must be conquered by the Resurrection.

Only he who apprehends with the first Christians the horror of death, who takes death seriously as death, can comprehend the Easter exultation of the primitive Christian community and understand that the whole thinking of the New Testament is governed by belief [26] in the Resurrection.  Belief in the immortality of the soul is not belief in a revolutionary event.  Immortality, in fact, is only a negative assertion:  the soul does not die, but simply lives on. Resurrection is a positive assertion:  the whole man, who has really died, is recalled to life by a new act of creation by God. Something has happened ‐ a miracle of creation!  For something has also happened previously, something fearful:  life formed by God has been destroyed.

Death in itself is not beautiful, not even the death of Jesus.  Death before Easter is really the Death's head surrounded by the odor of decay.  And the death of Jesus is as loathsome as the great painter Grünewald depicted it in the Middle Ages.

But precisely for this reason the same painter understood how to paint, along with it, in an incomparable way, the great victory, the Resurrection of Christ:  Christ in the new body, the Resurrection body.

Whoever paints a pretty death can paint no resurrection.  Whoever has not grasped the horror of death cannot join Paul in the hymn of victory:  ‘Death is swallowed up ‐ in victory!  0 death, where is thy victory?  0 death, where is thy sting?’ (1 Corinthians 15:54f). [27]







































1  Material on this contrast in Ernst Benz, Der gekreuzigte Gerechte bei Plato im N. T. und in der alten Kirche  Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur.  Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Klasse, No. 12 [Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, 1950], pp. 46.

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2  Despite the parallel in Jonah 4:9 which is cited by Erich Klostermann, Das Markusevangelium, 4th Edition (1971), ad loc., and Ernst Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium des Markus (1967), ad loc., I agree with Johannes Weiss, Das Markusevangelium, 3rd Edition (1917), ad loc., that the explanation:  ‘I am so sad that I prefer to die’ in this situation where Jesus knows that He is going to die (the scene is the Last Supper!) is completely unsatisfactory; moreover, Weiss' interpretation:  ‘My affliction is so great that I am sinking under the weight of it’ is supported by Mark 15:34.  Also Luke 12:50, ‘How distressed I am until the baptism (=death) takes place’, allows of no other explanation.

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3 Old and recent commentators (Julius Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Marci, 2nd Edition [1909], ad. loc., Julius Schniewind in N.T. Deutsch [1934], ad. loc., Ernst Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium des Markus [1967], ad loc.), seek in vain to avoid this conclusion, which is supported by the strong Greek expressions for ‘tremble and shrink’, by giving explanations which do not fit the situation, in which Jesus already knows that He must suffer for the sins of His people (Last Supper).  In Luke 12:50 it is completely impossible to explain away the ‘distress’ in the face of death, and also in view of the fact that Jesus is abandoned by God on the Cross (Mark 15:34), it is not possible to explain the Gethsemane scene except through this distress at the prospect of being abandoned by God, an abandonment which will be the work of Death, God's great enemy.

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4  The reference to Gethsemane here seems to me unmistakable.  K. Héring, L'Epitre aux Hébreux (I954), ad loc., concurs in this.

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5  The problem is presented in entirely false perspective by Johannes Leipoldt, Der Tod bei Griechen und Juden (1942). To be sure, he correctly makes a sharp distinction between the Greek view of death and the Jewish.  But Leipoldt's efforts always to equate the Christian with the Greek and oppose it to the Jewish only become comprehensible when one notes the year in which this book was published and the series (Germanentum, Christentum und Judentum) of which it is a part.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Old words - still appropriate for this new setting . . .

Sometimes you stumble upon a writing from days in the past that you are amazed to find is still current in a present setting.  And such it is with this piece which at the time was voted my best non-published article of 1997 by my colleagues at Macmillian Publishing.  It's a Letter to the Editor, Minnesota Daily, in response to the “Eight Days in May 1972” Series that they published May 12 - 14, 1997.

It's been twenty-five years already since those heady days of manning (today I would say “personing”) the barricade on Washington Avenue, attending the anti-war teach-ins, and participating in the preparation of “dis-orientation week” (scheduled for the arrival of new students in the fall of 1972).  On the day after President Nixon announced the mining of Haiphong Harbor, I and a significant other donned black, monk-like, hooded robes with black veils over our faces and paraded up and down Nicollet Mall at lunch time as well as wearing them to our classes that week.  That summer we decided to take time off from school in order to figure out where we stood politically.  We moved up north to a friend's summer house (which we “winterized”) and lived off the land for fourteen months, reading about the background to the Vietnam War and the other wars the United States had been involved with and hammering out a political stance with which we and a majority of the world's people could live.  It was a rich and enriching experience which few could afford (timewise).

I was a Vietnam veteran and having been stationed for a time at G-3, CINCPACFLEET, Manila, Philippines handling CRITICOMM traffic to NSA (National Security Agency), DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), etc., knew enough of the bullshit that our government was trying to foist upon the “silent majority” of Americans (the Pentagon Papers only added fuel to the fire).  So, I would agree with Officer Lee that we have become very cautious of the continuing daily doses of political double-speak.  We learned from these experiences to question authority.  Taking, as a standard, this quote attributed to John Pilger - “Official truths are often powerful illusions.”

Of course, Marv Davidov continues to be an inspiration ever since first hearing of him when my next youngest brother all of a sudden decided to go to Cuba back in the early '60s (the FBI was calling our house, sometimes more than once a week, to ask my mother if she knew where her son was).  And I readily agree with him that as part of the experience of the “eight days in May” we changed our way of doing “business as usual” even though we continue our participation “in the heart of the Beast” here at the University (with reference to President Eisenhower's mid-50s’ warning of the impact of the “military-industrial[-educational-{political}] complex”) - a rich and enriching experience which fewer and fewer can afford (moneywise).

So, what has our activism been like during the past twenty-five years?  Besides seeking alternatives in everything from birthing (we delivered our first child with the help of a mid-wife at University Hospitals twenty-three years ago, and delivered our second child at home with the aid of a mid-wife nineteen years ago) to raising our youth (home-schooling from day one with the emphasis, not surprisingly, on life-long education) and otherwise trying to choose ways to live and love that kill as few other human beings as possible, we began looking for small communities in which to participate ‐ North Country Co-op was a beginning.  And in 1973, we helped found what is today Hampden Park Co-op.  After living in a couple of house communities beginning in 1977 - one in Minneapolis, the other, Holly House, in Saint Paul - and participating in a house church (Agora Community Church, Saint Paul), in 1983, we moved to the land-trust Dorea Peace Community (northeast of Amery, WI).  The two years our family lived there were an experience of a lifetime.  We worked half-time procuring income to keep the community going and the other half protesting (in the sense of “testifying for”) life as opposed to the various death industries - Honeywell (Alliant Tech), the ELF Project, the Burlington Northern Project - and establishing a War Tax Alternative Fund in support of peace and justice activities (e. g., a home for battered women).  I had been working as an analyst / programmer in the Administrative Data Processing Department at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities Campus, but after the IRS qarnered my University pension funds and the University would not pay me just $1.00 to work, I quit that job and went on to teach at Brown Institute and Globe College of Business.  More recently our work, besides the Hampden Park Co-op, has centered around financial support of Allies of the Lakota (helping to provide better health care and communications to the Lakota People on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation) and Sister Parish (connecting mainstream church people in the US with church people in the poverty stricken countries of the third [and fourth] world[s]).

I believe that the words that best express what the University as an institution needs to learn from the experiences of the “eight days in May” come from anthropologist Ernest Becker's, The Structure of Evil:  An Essay on the Unification of the Science of [Human Being].  (New York: The Free Press, 1968). Pp.  38 - 41.
  • We are in a rare position today to savor the climate of opinion in Europe just after the French Revolution, and during the dilemmas of the Industrial one.  In two-thirds of our world we are re-experiencing the same dilemmas, the same hopes and fears.  What price order?  What price industrialization?  What should one keep of the beneficial order of traditional society while attempting to do away with its injustices and inequalities?  How can one keep what is good, and reject the bad?  Is industrialization an unmitigated good ‐ can its ill effects be foreseen and remedied?  What directions shall it take ‐ under what kind of government?  What exactly does the free vote contribute to this process ‐ what does it really mean in the hands of an ignorant peasant?  Is an uninformed vote a fetish ‐ or, perhaps worse, an active obstacle to intelligent change?  What kind of commodities are fetishes, and who is to proscribe them if people “really want” them?
  • The questioning is anguished ‐ and it is often very well informed, informed by the lessons of our own failures and successes during these [200] years of our history in the West.  But the new elite of the two-thirds of the world who are asking these questions are often better informed about our own problems than we are ourselves.  Thus, they go back again and again to questions that we have stopped asking: “When hereditary class privilege and aristocracy ‐ the first pillar of feudalism ‐ are destroyed, is it enough?  Doesn't the second pillar of feudalism also have to be eliminated, namely, the private ownership of land?  If both pillars of traditional society are not removed, can one really make an effective transition to industrial democracy in the service of the common good?  Without this twofold change, isn't parliamentary democracy merely a new kind of spoils system ‐ with new owners and new classes redividing the old and the new privately owned wealth?  If this is true, then isn't industrial democracy merely a new kind of domination, a quick change of costume that leaves fundamental problems untouched?  If not ‐ if industrial democracy is really making more and more wealth available to more and more people ‐ is this enough?  Is it enough just to spread more and more goods, thoughtlessly, to turn [human beings] into . . . clever consumer ape[s], eyeing greedily the dangling things?”
  • These are anguished and urgent questions.  We do not examine the French Revolution and its aftermath, the Industrial Revolution, in these terms today, in our schools and colleges.  Is it because, in the West, we have abdicated facing up to the problems which two-thirds of the world now has to face?  The answer is that we have . . . .
We learned from the political committee investigations and the managed news during this twenty-five year period that it is the questions that aren't asked that are the important ones.

Monday, March 27, 2017

PNAC historical documentation and even Democrats enamored with all things Russian . . .

. . . Not Admitting The Most Essential Lessons Of History

(I've recently been getting “rants and raves” emails from one of my United States senators [a Democrat {which in this era of endless war, with its attendant deceptions, dishonesty, untruths, hateful speech, alternative facts, and reductive curating, certainly doesn't mean much}] with regard to all things “Russian” [example].  In the few words allowed on her email WWW site, I noted that it's been 9,196 days since the publication [February 18, 1992] of the DOD “Defense Planning Guidance” for 1994-1999 and referred her to this blog which spells out in some detail [with thanks to Paul Craig Roberts for his reference on his Institute for Political Economy blog to the analysis of Thad Beversdorf and the documentation references of the “Nuclear Vault” of the National Security Archive at George Washington University] the unadmitted historical background.)

Ron Paul wrote an eye opening 2014 article about some legislation that had just been signed in Congress, namely House Resolution 758.  While not a new law, as seen in the discussion which follows, it does provide a foundation of facts that will be called upon in future actions.  Essentially the resolution suggests that Russia behaved badly in various ways and if congressmen signed on to the resolution, then they were agreeing to the "factuality" of its assertions.  Now just because a group of persons elected as representatives of the people stand around in a tax-revenue financed chamber and say “yeah” to several statements, those actions do not make those statements factual (except here in the United Orwellian States of America).  Those statements that were voted to be fact (similar to the First Council of Nicaea) will now be taught to our children as factual history - actually having happened that way (the idea of American manifest destiny was learned by all of us utilizing similar methodologies [now see, for example, F. William Engdahl's Manifest Destiny:  Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance {Wiesbaden, GDR:  mine.Books, 2018, 224 pp.}]).

While essentially a dishonest method (the ignorance it creates is reason enough not to sign on), as Dr. Paul clearly points out, the real purpose of the resolution is to legally build the foundation for a future war, the planning for which has been active for many years now.  The U. S. sponsored coup in Ukraine, sold to us as simply a necessary response to the Ukraine situation, was rather a flash in the pan to set off a much larger explosion.

OK, what is this? “Another conspiracy theory?  Why can't it ever just be that the U. S. government thinks what they are doing is best for Americans”?  Ideally, one would suppose that it could be.  Never, if ever, anymore.  Lies (with or without “false flag[s]”) are told and public opinion is manipulated.  As good as the strategy of war must be on the ground, it must be every bit as good theater in the presstitute presentations.  And, what makes war so ugly, is the pressitute theater.  Again, ideally, you would want to fight a war (as brutal and unfortunate as that plays out) in which one believes.  The ugliness?  Attempting to fight a war based on lies and deceit which only benefits those telling the lies - something incomprehensible.  Except for the “Beltway” sociopaths.

And,so, we offer up some facts (that many don't know about) as to how it came to be that we invaded Iraq and Syria — the truth is still very much hidden from common knowledge.

While the 9 / 11 event actually seemed to bring the world together, it very quickly turned into a launching pad for war.  One could think it reasonable, given the extent of the tragedy that took place in New York, that a mighty nation like America would want retribution from those responsible.   However, the United States abandoned the attack on those responsible and, instead, initiated a war ‐ the planning for which had been in the works for many years.

At this point, it is pretty common knowledge that the U. S. pulled out of Afghanistan to focus their forces and objectives toward Iraq.  Of course, to get the world onboard with this focus, incredible lies were promulgated about Iraq not only having some connection to 9 / 11 but that they were also building enormous stockpiles of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ and that they were hell bent on using those against western nations.  Again, we now know that none of these assertions were true.  And we know our legislators were aware that no credible evidence existed to support such views.  And we know that despite knowing those assertions were false they still made the decision to lie not only to the American people but to the world.  The lies were told in an effort to build support so that parents around the world would see a righteous cause in sending their sons and daughters to their potential deaths or to be maimed in unimaginably horrifying circumstances.

Now, just think about that for a moment and don't just read over that and move on.  Because this is the essence of what our government has become in America today.  They knowingly lied to the world so that the world would be willing to sacrifice their children, believing it was a necessary and righteous cause to do so.  And in the end the truth came to light that there was no righteous cause.  That all these young men and women from around the world had been used as pawns to fulfill the ambitions of a few.  It is truly one of the ugliest atrocities to ever have been carried out by an elected government against its own citizens.  And yet today because of our state presstitute media, most will not acknowledge that such an atrocity took place.  The imperative to understanding is that it has to be made very clear that Iraq was not a consequence of poor intelligence or bad decisions in the wake of post 9 / 11 emotions.  The invasions of both Iraq and Syria were being planned and discussed for many years before 9 / 11.  It has been said that if you don't learn from history, then you are doomed to repeat it.  The antidote is that history can be used to change the future.

So, what are those historical events?

In 1996, Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, sponsored an ad hoc think tank named The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies - Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.  From this think tank came a report that was the beginning of a powerful lobby movement.  Here's a look at a few main points that come from that 1996 report:

Israel's quest for peace emerges from, and does not replace, the pursuit of its ideals.  The Jewish people's hunger for human rights — burned into their identity by a 2000-year old dream to live free in their own land — informs the concept of peace and reflects continuity of values with Western and Jewish tradition.

Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.  This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions.

Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil.  An effective approach, and one with which America can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:

  • striking Syria's drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan.
  • paralleling Syria's behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.
  • striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.

To anticipate U.S. reactions and plan ways to manage and constrain those reactions, Prime Minister Netanyahu can formulate the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel.  If Israel wants to test certain propositions that require a benign American reaction, then the best time to do so is before November, 1996.

Now, who would the authors of such a report have been?  A report that seems to promote the idea of constraining, manipulating and achieving a benign American reaction.  We'll have a look at the authors of this document below.  They should be familiar to most of you as they are U. S. policymakers rather than Israeli policymakers, which is odd because again this is an Israeli state sponsored project with objectives that are clearly focused on the well being of Israel, not the U. S. or the American people.

Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D. C., Study Group Leader,

James Colbert, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Washington, D. C.
Charles Fairbanks, Jr.,Johns Hopkins University / SAIS, Baltimore, MD
Douglas Feith, Feith and Zell Associates
Robert Loewenberg, President, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Jonathan Torop, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, D. C.
David Wurmser, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Meyrav Wurmser, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Then, subsequent to that 1996 report being released, there was a letter drafted and sent to President Clinton in January 1998 that provides us some additional clarity on the war policies of the new millennium.  Here's a look at that letter:

Archived from: http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

PNAC letters sent to President Bill Clinton

January 26, 1998

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War.  In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat.  We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world.  That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power.  We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months.  As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections.  Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished.  Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq's chemical and biological weapons production.  The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam's secrets.  As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East.  It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard.  As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power.  This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts.  Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater.  We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf.  In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

We urge you to act decisively.  If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country.  If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.

Sincerely,

Elliott Abrams  Richard L. Armitage  William J. Bennett

Jeffrey Bergner  John Bolton  Paula Dobriansky

Francis Fukuyama  Robert Kagan  Zalmay Khalilzad

William Kristol  Richard Perle  Peter W. Rodman

Donald Rumsfeld  William Schneider, Jr.  Vin Weber

Paul Wolfowitz  R. James Woolsey  Robert B. Zoellick

Archived from: http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

Again we see a very explicit and aggressive lobby effort to persuade the U. S. to invade Iraq.  And aren't these authors even more interesting.  Many of the same authors of the 1996 recommendation are also authors of this lobby effort.  Only this time they are acting as benefactors of America.  Odd though that they are pushing the very same agenda that just 18 months earlier these same folks were pushing as benefactors to a foreign nation.  It almost seems as though the authors are indeed attempting to manage and constrain the American people's reaction, as discussed in the first report, to their desired recommendations that the U. S. use its military to engage various nations in war.

Let's think about this rationally for a moment.  In 1996 we had a foreign government sponsor a think tank staffed by very prominent U. S. policymakers with the objective benefiting that foreign sponsor nation.  And then two years later we see a follow on letter to the President of the United States from not only the same U. S. policymakers that authored the 1996 report but now additional prominent U. S. policymakers.  The recommendation of both the '96 report and '98 letter to the President were lobbying for the U. S. to invade and overthrow Iraq and Syria.  However the original recommendation was for the benefit of Israel and the latter recommendation was being sold as necessary for America.  And remember, 9 / 11 had not happened yet, but we already see these very powerful, very prominent policymakers pushing very hard to invade Iraq and Syria.

The problem is Americans didn't want another Iraqi war.  Times were good in the late 1990's.  People were happy.  The cold war was over, jobs were a plenty and the world felt safer than it had for decades.  And as such, there was no way Americans were going to go to war for the benefit of a foreign nation.  The U. S. had decided Hussein was actually a stabilizing force there in the Middle East and as such we wanted him there.  But then an election happened and the “little Texas Scrub” / “ol' Dubya” was chosen by the Supreme Court to be President of the United States.  Along with him came all those names we just saw authoring the two dossiers recommending that the U. S. invade Iraq and Syria.  The authors were given titles such as Chair of the Defense Policy Board (Richard Perle) and Secretary of Defense (Rumsfeld), etc.  And so all of a sudden the same group of people who were championing the invasion of Iraq and Syria back in the late 1990's were now in a position to make it happen by way of their own authority.  What luck!  Shortly thereafter the worst attack on U. S. soil took place in New York and the rest is, as they say, history.

To believe we went into Iraq because our fearless and integrity driven leaders truly and honestly believed it was the morally and justifiable thing to do based on the tragedy of 9 / 11 is just ignorance.  There was a small group of men, called Neocons, that had derived these military actions some 10 years prior to the operations themselves and some 5 years prior to the events that were used to sell these war efforts to the American people and the world.  We can't change any of that.  The ultimate point here is to learn from what happened with Syria and Iraq and see if it squares exactly with what is happening with Russia today.

More history . . . .

A letter written by Bill Kristol and Donald Kagan to the Heads of State and Government Of the European Union and NATO.  This 2004 letter does not mince its words.  It is very much pushing for European support of what would obviously be a U. S. military stand off with Russia.  The letter is sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is a neoconservative think tank.  In fact, one of the prestigious awards handed out by the AEI is called the Irving Kristol award.  Irving Kristol (father to Bill Kristol) is known as the godfather of the neocon movement in the U. S.  So, again, this is essentially the same crowd from '96 and '98, pushing for support of a U. S. military operation, this time with Russia.  This is back in 2004 mind you before the recent events in Ukraine had even been imagined.  The letter was signed by many but of particular interest is that many of the same names from the 1996 report and 1998 letter to President Clinton pushing for war against Iraq and Syria also signed this letter.

Again we see the aggressive recommendations to back a military operation many years before the catalyst event takes place.  That is the event that is being sold as the moral justification for a military operation.  But this letter tells us that this military objective against Russia has been promoted for many, many years now, far before Ukraine was an issue.  This is again, a push from the same folks that lied to us about Iraq and then trained, equipped, and funded ISIS in order to get into Syria and are now working hard to create a catalyst for an offensive with Russia.

For years before 9 / 11 it was determined by those warmongering policymakers that we would be invading Iraq and Syria.  All we needed was a catalyst.  9 / 11 provided that for Iraq.  ISIS provided that for Syria.  And, now, Ukraine has provided that for Russia.  9 / 11 was used as a catalyst to lie to the American people about the need to invade Iraq.  It has also been fully admitted by our government that we did in fact, train, equip, and fund ISIS, ‘mistakenly though’.  And finally we have recordings of senior U. S. diplomats discussing our involvement in the coup in Ukraine.

And so one can only conclude here that again Americans are being manipulated to accept the recommendations from a powerful group of warmongering policymakers to go to war with a nation that has posed absolutely no threat to the American people in more than 25 years.  And we are being led down this path by lies and propaganda.  Quite specifically things like H. Res. 758.  And if we do not make a stand against these policymakers we are most certainly headed for what could very well be the war to end all wars.

For the West is clearly looking to fortify its power hold over the world by destroying Russia economically and, thus, disable them militarily in an effort to prevent a Sino-Soviet alliance.  On January 11, 2010, former World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, made a presentation to a political science class at Stanford University.  Ironically, the moral to his story was to challenge them to figure out a way, in the face of a rising East soon to control a higher share of the worlds assets than the West, to retain the West's global control.  He stressed it was something his generation did not have to deal with but that today's Western up and coming political class must consider.  You see China is a powerful nation but without an alliance with Russia, China can be contained due to its lack of energy.  Because China is both a more difficult opponent and one that has much more trade with the U. S., Russia is the obvious target to prevent a fully formed Sino-Soviet alliance.

However, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where China does not clearly identify such a strategy being played out.  And so they will come to the defense of Russian energy, as we've already seen with the signings of the world's largest energy deals between those two nations.  If push comes to shove, the Chinese defense will not be limited just to economics.  And we will be put in the midst of the most powerful nations in the history of the world fighting for ultimate power.  This small group of horrible people are willing to put the world on the line so their lineage can continue to rule the world while the rest of us struggle to simply stop the financial bleeding that has become a 15 year epidemic.

This all sounds like the stuff of fiction novels but unfortunately the facts tell us this is all too real.  What is difficult to believe is that we so readily ignore and deny the most essential lessons of history.  Perhaps the foremost being that the political class will always be willing to sacrifice the working class in order to retain its power.  And so we find ourselves again on the precipice of being asked by our political class to offer our young men and women up to be sacrificed for the ‘greater good’.  However, while they try to convince us that the cause is one of morals and righteousness, in the end, it is the same cause it has been since post WWII (and some will argue the same cause it has always been), which is for their interests and their victories, not ours.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On beginning my 75th year

So, serendipitously this morning, I somehow clicked on a link in the bookmarks bar for the History of Information WWW site (whose “index” is set to “Religious Texts / Religion”) which has a photo from The Encyclopedia Britannica entitled “The Sorcerer”

The Sorcerer


(whose “link” tells not only the story of the painting from around 12,000 BCE, but also the fascinating story of therianthrope cave drawing; which when you read about it from our time and space, engenders many SNL skits (;-) . . . ).

One of the references in the “Sorcerer” article is to Mary E. Boyles' 1952 translation of Abbe Henri Brueil's Four Hundred Centuries of Cave Art which “trumps” my three-quarters of a century by a large margin.

Next time I'm down at the O. Meredith Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota, I'm going to have to look this one up (Folio 302.43 B757fE - unfortunately, they don't have the translated version but the photos of the cave art don't depend on the French language, do they?)

Update: I had occasion to go to the O. Meredith Wilson Library on my way to World Storytelling Day at the Landmark Center in Downtown St Paul yesterday (March 21, 2017 [close to the first day of Spring]) and was able to locate the volume mentioned above.  Much to my surprise it was the translated English version.  And what a wealth of material - in addition to the text descriptions, photos and drawings from the Big Six sites of cave art beginning from around 40,000 years ago!