(Image by orangebuddhas from flickr) By Pepe Escobar Source: OpEdNews.com So a congregation of NATO’s top brass ensconced in their echo chambers target the Russian Central Bank with sanctions and expect what? Cookies? What they got instead was Russia’s deterrence forces bumped up to “a special regime of duty” – which means the Northern and Pacific fleets, […]Follow the Money – How Russia Will Bypass Western Economic Warfare — Desultory Heroics
Original illustration by Mr. Fish US leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another, a trajectory mirroring the sad finales of other historical imperial powers By Chris Hedges Source: Mint Press News Princeton, New Jersey (Scheerpost) — America’s defeat in Afghanistan is one in a string of catastrophic military blunders that herald the death of the American […]The Unraveling of the American Empire — Desultory Heroics
Ex- Labor (note the American spelling of the name of Australia’s oldest political party) leader Shorten: ‘We must be an opposition that stands for something. We must be a party of Labor that stands for the real world concerns of working men and women.’
I just watched the debate between Harris and Pence. He was clearly favoured by the ‘moderator’. She allowed him to repeatedly go back over previous topics, to repeatedly speak and continue speaking much longer than she did Harris. With Pence, her protestations of ‘Thank you’ were much weaker than her more forceful insistence on shutting Harris down for going over-time.
The ‘moderator’ sounded fearful of him.
But, within the bounds of capitalism, Harris impressed me very much. She showed greater intelligence and humane personality than any modern American Republican/Democrat political leader I am aware of.
Within the bounds of capitalism, it would be most interesting if she were to become President.
But, just as certainly, she will not be up to what is emerging. Others presently in the wings will lead the ultimately overt struggle in America between the representatives of capital and those of socialism.
WATCH: The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange A new documentary by Juan Passarelli can be seen here on Consortium News, followed by a panel discussion with Passarelli, director Ken Loach and filmmaker Suzie Gilbert. Source: Consortium News Journalists are under attack globally for doing their jobs. Julian Assange is facing a 175 year […]Saturday Matinee: The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange — Desultory Heroics
Five part documentary on the state within a state in the United States – what those who comprise it think of the citizens of that nation and how they behave towards them and what they think of and how they behave towards others around the world. A study of megalomania, lies and mass deception, greed and absolute brutality – for that reason, highly recommended.
For me, the worst instances of the behaviour of this state within a state discussed in this series (particularly because of their implications) are the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (at the beginning of Part 4, which is appropriately named ‘Necrophilous’. The part begins with an excellent quotation.).
The exposure of the justification given for those bombings is consistent with what I already knew and have posted about (‘War Crime or War Winner? The Truth about the Bomb’ – an article written by Murray Sayle).
Oppenheimer’s megalomaniacal false modesty (quietly spoken, sage-like, eyes downcast – knowing not to look at the camera, to prevent his eyes being read) as he links the destructive power of the bomb to Indian religion is truly repulsive.
The coup in Australia on 11.11.75 is discussed from thirty minutes into Part 1.
From Murray Sayle, ‘War crime or war winner? The Truth about the Bomb,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 15.07.95
…the head of the Manhattan Project, Major-General Leslie Groves, a determined military man feeling responsible for spending $2 billion on the bomb and worried that the war might end first, at that point was pushing strenuously for its immediate use. When Leo Szilard, who had drafted Albert Einstein’s letter to President Roosevelt warning of a German bomb six years earlier, drew up a scientists’ petition opposing the use of the atom bomb against Japanese cities, Groves had the petition classified top secret, thus restricting its impact to a tiny circle…Szilard’s petition got as far as Groves’s office, where it stayed. …
What did the first atom bombs achieve? Well, it will be instantly answered, they ended the war, didn’t they, and so saved many lives – the estimates vary from 50,000 to several million – both American and Japanese, and considering that there was still fighting going on in Borneo and elsewhere, and ill-treated prisoners of war were still dying, probably many Australian lives as well. Anyone around at the time will remember the striking evidence for this conclusion. With the Japanese still full of fight, the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, another on Nagasaki on August 9, and the very next day the Japanese Government announced that it would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration – that is, unconditional surrender, subject to some guarantee for the future of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito.
At the time (as I remember well myself) this looked like obvious, iron-clad evidence that the bombs had ended the war, thus greatly simplifying the moral question about their use. Unfortunately, 50 years on this is still the only evidence that the bombs did in fact end the war and thus save all those valuable lives. And there is much better evidence, long obscured by the Cold War, that points to quite a different conclusion.
Well, if the atom bombs did not end the war, what did? It has long been known that by mid-1945 Japan was in much worse shape, both economically and militarily, than was generally realised at the time. American submarines had sunk almost the whole Japanese merchant fleet, cutting off food, raw materials, oil and reinforcements for the home islands; American B-29 fire raids had destroyed 40 per cent of Japanese housing, most of its industry, and had burnt out 68 major cities even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki were atom-bombed. As early as June 1946, the economists of the US Strategic Bombing Survey, after visiting the ruined Japanese cities and interviewing most of the surviving Japanese leaders, gave their opinion that:
“Certainly prior to December 31, 1945, and in all probability prior to November 1, 1945 (the planned date of the American invasion of Kyushu, the southernmost home island), Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”
However, Russia had indeed entered the war – at dawn on August 8, 1945, with 1.6 million men, fighter-bombers, parachute troops and a huge tank army – and although this was little-reported at the time compared with the enormous official publicity lavished on the atom bombs, modern scholarship increasingly sees the Soviet invasion of Manchuria as the real, immediate cause of Japan’s surrender. My own research, conducted over the 20 years I have been in Japan, fully endorses this conclusion.
It came about like this. While publicly declaring that Japan would fight to the end and “killing with silence” (an Oriental way of saying “no comment”) the Allies’ demand for unconditional surrender issued at Potsdam on July 26, 1945, Japan was secretly trying to arrange a negotiated peace, with the Soviet Union, still officially neutral, to act as mediator. This may seem an absurd idea until we recall that the US had mediated the end of the war between Russia and Japan in 1905. These half-hearted “secret” approaches (all the Soviets were asked to do was to receive Prince Fumimaro Konoe, a former prime minister and distant relative of Hirohito) were, however, no secret from the American leaders, who were reading the Japanese diplomatic messages passing between Tokyo and Moscow – the so-called MAGIC intercepts. Only declassified in full as recently as last year, the MAGIC summaries gave tantalising hints that there was a a pro-peace party in Tokyo, centred on the Foreign Ministry, to which Emperor Hirohito apparently belonged, but no indication of whether the peace party was strong enough to overcome the Army leaders who wanted to fight a “decisive battle for the Homeland” (after the expected American invasion) and then, having won it, to negotiate a peace that would guarantee, as a minimum, the continuation of the monarchy with Hirohito as monarch – something less than unconditional surrender.
Matters came to a head in Tokyo on the night of August 8, two days after the atom-bombing of Hiroshima. With all communications with the ruined city knocked out, very little information reached Tokyo, 1,000 km away, about what had happened. What there was came via the Japanese Army which downplayed the damage and insisted (correctly) that no military installations affecting Japan’s ability to continue the war had been damaged. Nevertheless, Hirohito, via his confidential adviser Lord Privy Seal Marquis Kido, summoned a meeting of the Supreme War Council, known as the “Big Six”, for 10am the following morning, August 9, to meet in the air-raid shelter under his burnt-out palace.
We will never know what they might have decided about Hiroshima because overnight news came through that the Soviets had invaded Japanese-occupied Manchuria, scattering the poorly equipped Japanese armies there. This meant that virtually the entire world was now fighting Japan but, more immediately, the plan to ask the Soviets to mediate peace negotiations with the Allies was now in ruins and there was now a real threat that Japan itself might be partitioned and partly communised, as had just happened to Germany.
News of the atom-bombing of Nagasaki came through while the meeting was in progress but had no effect on the deliberations. The “Big Six” were still unable to agree and the same thing happened when the full Cabinet met that afternoon. Finally, late that night, the still-divided Cabinet agreed to ask Hirohito, who had not said a word, what he thought. Asked for his opinion (against all Japanese constitutional practice), Hirohito said the time had come to “endure the unendurable” and accept the Potsdam terms. After a last appeal to continue the fight from the War Minister, General Korechika Anami (“We can still achieve something and get better terms than these,” he claimed), the Emperor helped draft the surrender declaration. It was Anami who, in Hirohito’s name, issued the orders to Japanese units in the field to lay down their arms. His duty to his Emperor done, as he saw it, Anami killed himself.
What part did the atom bomb play in all this? According to the Strategic Bombing Survey, “the atom bombs did not change a single vote on the Supreme War Council, although they did add to the general gloom”. The problem here is that Japan’s surrender was, as historians say, “over-determined”; there was quite enough gloom in Japan already, without the need to add more. The view that the Japanese military was intimidated by either the atom bombs or Truman’s threat of more and more powerful ones (a piece of bluff) into seeking peace is simply an exercise in ill-informed guesswork.
If World War II taught us one lesson, it is that military leaders safe in bunkers can accept enormous civilian casualties without flinching, and no-one asks the bombed civilians whether they are in favour of peace or not (but, even in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the survivors were ready to fight on). What really ended the war was a threat to something the Japanese leaders saw as more important than the deaths of mere civilians (more than half a million had already died in the fire raids) – the political destruction of the Japanese nation itself. A quick surrender before the Soviets arrived seemed the best way out, and history, and the Cold War, have proved that they guessed correctly.
What can be said for atom bombs on their one use in real war? Against an already beaten opponent, who was universally detested, facing starvation, without any allies or means of reprisal – and whose flimsy cities were made of inflammable wood, paper and straw – they might have added something to the imminent and inevitable outcome, but at the cost of resentment and guilt feelings which still fester today half a century on. These preconditions occur very seldom in the real world, not surprisingly, so no-one has found another situation in which the use of nuclear weapons seemed to outweigh their enormous downside of universal revulsion, plus the risk of uncontrolled escalation.
Against a non-nuclear opponent, their use discredits any cause they are supposed to be upholding, particularly if the cause is the democratic one of personal justice and individual, rather than group, racial or national responsibility. Against a nuclear opponent, they promise universal, mutually assured destruction, known by the appropriate acronym MAD. Atom bombs are not, in short, practicable weapons of war, except for the purposes of terror, or terrorists, their likeliest next users. Robert Oppenheimer once said that unless nuclear weapons were controlled, or better still eliminated, men would one day curse the name of Los Alamos. All too probably, he may yet be proved right.
For a thorough and excellent discussion of this subject, see Desultory Heroics:
John Pilger, ‘The British-American coup that ended Australian independence’, The Guardian, 23.10.14
In 1975 Prime Minister Gough Whitlam dared to try to assert his country’s autonomy. The CIA and MI6 made sure he paid the price.
Across the media and political establishment in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.
Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”. Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing.
Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor (mw: note the American spelling) party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to “buy back the farm”. In drafting the first Aboriginal lands rights legislation, his government raised the ghost of the greatest land grab in human history, Britain’s colonisation of Australia, and the question of who owned the island-continent’s vast natural wealth.
Latin Americans will recognise the audacity and danger of this “breaking free” in a country whose establishment was welded to great, external power. Australians had served every British imperial adventure since the Boxer rebellion was crushed in China. In the 1960s, Australia pleaded to join the US in its invasion of Vietnam, then provided “black teams” to be run by the CIA. US diplomatic cables published last year by WikiLeaks disclose the names of leading figures in both main parties, including a future prime minister and foreign minister, as Washington’s informants during the Whitlam years.
Whitlam knew the risk he was taking. The day after his election, he ordered that his staff should not be “vetted or harassed” by the Australian security organisation, Asio – then, as now, tied to Anglo-American intelligence. When his ministers publicly condemned the US bombing of Vietnam as “corrupt and barbaric”, a CIA station officer in Saigon said: “We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators.”
Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed recently, allows the US to spy on everyone. “Try to screw us or bounce us,” the prime minister warned the US ambassador, “[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention”.
Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, “This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.”
Pine Gap’s top-secret messages were decoded by a CIA contractor, TRW. One of the decoders was Christopher Boyce, a young man troubled by the “deception and betrayal of an ally”. Boyce revealed that the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and referred to the governor-general of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as “our man Kerr”.
Kerr was not only the Queen’s man, he had longstanding ties to Anglo-American intelligence. He was an enthusiastic member of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, described by Jonathan Kwitny of the Wall Street Journal in his book, The Crimes of Patriots, as “an elite, invitation-only group … exposed in Congress as being founded, funded and generally run by the CIA”. The CIA “paid for Kerr’s travel, built his prestige … Kerr continued to go to the CIA for money”.
When Whitlam was re-elected for a second term, in 1974, the White House sent Marshall Green to Canberra as ambassador. Green was an imperious, sinister figure who worked in the shadows of America’s “deep state”. Known as “the coupmaster”, he had played a central role in the 1965 coup against President Sukarno in Indonesia – which cost up to a million lives. One of his first speeches in Australia, to the Australian Institute of Directors, was described by an alarmed member of the audience as “an incitement to the country’s business leaders to rise against the government”.
The Americans and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain’s MI6 was operating against his government. “The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office,” he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, “We knew MI6 was bugging cabinet meetings for the Americans.” In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: “Kerr did what he was told to do.”
On 10 November 1975, Whitlam was shown a top-secret telex message sourced to Theodore Shackley, the notorious head of the CIA’s East Asia division, who had helped run the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile two years earlier.
Shackley’s message was read to Whitlam. It said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country. The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia’s NSA, where he was briefed on the “security crisis”.
On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The “Whitlam problem” was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.
•John Pilger’s investigation into the coup against Whitlam is described in full in his book, A Secret Country (Vintage), and in his documentary film, Other People’s Wars, which can be viewed on johnpilger.com.
Every American should watch Abby Martin’s New Afghanistan War Documentary “Afghanistan War Exposed: An Imperial Conspiracy.” It is a tour de force, a must watch for every American seeking a holistic understanding of American’s longest-running war. By MintPress News Desk. The perpetual occupation of Afghanistan has become so normalized that it mostly […]
Jarni Blakkarly, SBS, ’Melbourne refugee protesters fined $43,000 for breaching coronavirus rules’ 10.04.20
‘Victoria Police has arrested one refugee advocate and fined dozens of others a total of $43,000 for breaching coronavirus stay at home orders by conducting a protest outside a Melbourne hotel housing refugees and asylum seekers.
The protesters on Friday formed a car motorcade to protest the situation faced by the men inside the Mantra Hotel in the northern Melbourne suburb of Preston, where they say the men are in danger of contracting COVID-19.
The men inside the hotel have themselves been protesting their crowded conditions and what they say is a lack of personal hygiene supplies, such as hand sanitiser.
Protest organisers said the demonstration was done in cars so that all protesters maintained their required social distance at all times.
The Refugee Action Collective’s Lucy Honan was one of those issued a fine by Victoria Police for participating in the protest.
“We were told that we had breached the stay at home direction. We said we are there for compassionate reasons. Compassion and care is one of the reasons you can leave the house,” she said.
“It’s completely egregious and hypocritical. You have people inside the detention centre unable to physically distance, that’s why we were there, and instead of using those health powers to agitate for their freedom, the [Premier Daniel] Andrews government has used police to quash protests,” Ms Honan said.
Victoria Police told SBS News 26 demonstrators were fined for failing to comply with the chief health officer’s orders, while three were issued with traffic infringement notices.
“While Victoria Police respects the public’s right to protest, these are extraordinary times and the health and safety of every Victorian needs to be our number one priority at this time,” a police spokesperson said.
Protest organiser Chris Breen was also arrested at his home prior to the protest beginning. He was charged with incitement and is due to face court in August.
He told SBS News he was taken to the Preston police station where he spent nine hours in custody while police obtained a warrant to seize his phone and home computers.
“It’s absurd. People can drive to Bunnings, to get a haircut, to go to your holiday house in Victoria, but we aren’t allowed to drive around the block to highlight the deadly conditions for refugees,” Mr Breen said.
“Health rules around coronavirus can’t be used to shut down safe protests,” he added.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.