Saturday, August 29, 2015

 

Scharnhorst

Ignorance of French national character was for Scharnhorst the major reason for the Allied defeat [in the War of the First Coalition]. He found it inconceivable that the princes accepted without any verification the false reports of French opinion by the Émigrés ... "It seems at first sight incredible that such a great and important enterprise could be launched on the basis of such partisan witnesses as were the Émigrés."

Source: Charles E. White, The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the Militarische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801-1805 (New York: Praeger, 1989), p. 61.

One wonders if Scharnhorst ever considered the possibility that "the princes" knew the reports of the Émigrés were bogus, it seems so. The case of Ahmed Chalabi and his sham Iraqi National Congress come to mind. Chalabi has been characterized as "the powerful source who ... succeeded in persuading the Pentagon that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that the Shiites would welcome the American forces with flowers and rice, and that in a twinkling the Iraqis would manage their country without Saddam and would free the U.S. armed forces from their commitment." However, I think it would be far more accurate to characterize Chalabi as a willing partner in the deliberately trumped-up 2003 war for Israel. The neoconservatives leading the Pentagon in the Bush administration were not deceived by Chalabi and they needed no persuasion to invade Iraq, they needed plausible cover and that was what he provided.

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The belief that in war forces must be kept together, that it is a principle of the art of war not to disperse, is therefore false. On the contrary, it is a general rule—but only to the skillful—to disperse with caution and to force the enemy to do likewise, and then to fall concentrated on a single part.

Source: Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst, "Ueber die Schlacht bei Marnego," Proceedings, 1:54-55 as quoted in White, op. cit., p. 71.

See also: "Wrong Tzu"

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Friday, August 21, 2015

 

Quotable: Armstrong on Religion & Myth

... our modern Western conception of "religion" is idiosyncratic and eccentric. No other cultural tradition has anything like it, and even premodern European Christians would have found it reductive and alien ... In the West we see "religion" as a coherent system of obligatory beliefs, institutions, and rituals, centering on a supernatural God, whose practice is essentially private and hermetically sealed off from all "secular" activities. But words in other languages that we translate as "religion" almost invariably refer to something larger, vaguer, and more encompassing. The Arabic din signifies an entire way of life. The Sanskrit dharma is also "a 'total' concept, untranslatable, which covers law, justice, morals, and social life." The Oxford Classical Dictionary firmly states: "No word in either Greek or Latin corresponds to the English 'religion' or 'religious.' " The idea of religion as an essentially personal and systematic pursuit was entirely absent from classical Greece, Japan, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran, China, and India.

Source: Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (New York: Knopf, 2014) p. 4.

Every polity—even our secular nation-state—relies on a mythology that defines its special character and mission. The word myth has lost its force in modern times and tends to mean something that is not true, that never happened. But in the premodern world, mythology expressed a timeless rather than a historical reality and provided a blueprint for action in the present.

Source: Armstrong, p. 24.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

 

Quotable: Slaves to Debt

As confirmed in the DVD bonus features, The International (2009) is transparently inspired by the case of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). In its heyday, the BCCI was one of the world's largest banks.

BCCI was dissolved in 1991 amidst charges of fraud, arms trafficking, money laundering, and other crimes. The bank served as a CIA conduit and according to the film's screenwriter, Eric Warren Singer, the BCCI was also a Mossad tool (for more on this subject see The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America by Peter Dale Scott (Univ. of California Pr., 2007)).

In 1992, über-Zionist Clark Clifford and his law partner Robert A. Altman were indicted by a grand jury in connection with the scandal at the behest of Zionist Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. However, as with the fictional bank in The International, no one was ever held criminally responsible for BCCI's conduct. The charges against Clifford were dropped and Altman was acquitted.

Likewise, Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich. The 1992 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations BCCI report said of him:
Marc Rich remains the most important figure in the international commodities markets, and remains a fugitive from the United States following his indictment on securities fraud. BCCI lending to Rich in the 1980's amounted to tens of millions of dollars. Moreover, Rich's commodities firms were used by BCCI in connection with BCCI's involving in U.S. guarantee programs through the Department of Agriculture. The nature and extent of Rich's relationship with BCCI requires further investigation.
Three months after he was pardoned the New York Times reported: "Israeli officials disclosed in interviews that they rallied around the campaign out of gratitude for Mr. Rich's philanthropy in Israel and because of Mr. Rich's clandestine role as a 'sa-ayon,' a Hebrew word for an unpaid supporter of intelligence operations. Mr. Rich, they said, financed sensitive missions and allowed agents to use his offices around the world as cover, when Israel was isolated diplomatically." After Rich died in 2013, he was buried in Israel.

If BCCI was such a useful tool then why was it shut down? I can think of at least two possibilities: First, BCCI had become so exposed that it was a liability, a magnet for investigations; closing it was damage control. Second, at times even elites have disagreements, BCCI may have been shut down because its principals had simply made too many powerful enemies.


Below are two outtakes from the film.

Character of Italian arms manufacturer Umberto Calvini (Luca Barbareschi at 35:10): "the real value of a conflict, the true value, is in the debt that it creates. You control the debt, you control everything ... this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt."

###

Character of New York District Attorney "Arnie" (James Rebhorn at 59:30): "Do you have any idea of the shitstorm you've gotten me into?"

Character of Assistant District Attorney Eleanor "Ella" Whitman (Naomi Watts): "We're just trying to get to the truth."

Arnie: "I get it. But what you need to remember is that there's what people want to hear, there's what people want to believe, there's everything else and then there's the truth."

Ella: "Since when is that okay? I can't even believe you're saying this to me. The truth means responsibility, Arnie."

Arnie: "Exactly, which is why everyone dreads it."

See also: Puppets & Money

Post last revised: 12 September 2015 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

 

Quotable: On Guardians

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor.

Source: Immanuel Kant, "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" as quoted in The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the Militarische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801-1805 (New York: Praeger, 1989) by Charles E. White, p. 1.

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Saturday, August 01, 2015

 

Two Thoughts (and a Cartoon) on the Iran Nuclear Deal

... the agreement has a significant downside too, in that it reinforces American hegemony. It does so by the very fact that the U.S. government is regarded by the media and others as the legitimate prosecutor, judge, and probation officer of Iran's government. The U.S. government, of course, commands overwhelming military power, and in that respect alone it has the ability to impose demands on others. But that does not mean an American president has the moral authority to do so.
Source: "2 Reasons to Be Happy About the Iran Deal, and 1 Reason Not to Be" by Sheldon Richman on Reason.com, July 16, 2015.
From almost all points on the US political spectrum, the merits of the "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" turn on its impact and implications for Israel. If there ever could have been any doubt about that, there can be no more. Listen to any politician or look at any media coverage about the agreement. The issues are defined by Israeli interests. The "debate" is whether the deal is good or bad for Israel. For the "pro" deal faction, the agreement's removal of the "existential threat" to Israel is its marquee attraction. For the "anti" deal side, well, all we need to know is that the deal "will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven." The media attention, moreover, is dominated by the voices of Israelis and American Zionists and their apologists. Despite occasional lip service to "American interests," none of the participants in the "national discussion" explain how the agreement solves or does not solve specific US problems or implicates specific US interests. That's because it doesn't. That's because there aren't any! Indeed, the only specific "US interest" ever mentioned – repeatedly, by both sides of the argument – is protecting the Jewish state.
Source: "Where Did We the People Go?" by Peter Casey on Antiwar.com, July 31, 2015.



30 Aug 2015 Addendum: From a justice and peace perspective perhaps the best outcome of the September 17 a possible Congressional vote would be a veto-proof rejection of the Iran nuclear agreement, followed by a collapse of sanctions as European and other countries move to normalize economic relations with Iran in the face of extreme (as opposed normal, run-of-the mill) Zionist-driven American intransigence. I'm not saying this is the most likely outcome—though it is far from implausible—just, possibly, the most desirable. In this scenario, Iran would still be bound by the requirements of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel has never signed. They would also be bound by the reality that a nuclear weapons program—something Iranian authorities have repeatedly and credibly denied wanting—would be a strategic military liability for Iran.

05 Sep 2015 Addendum: Here's an interesting quote from Joseph Cirincione, Zionist tool and imperial nuclear policy expert: "The idea that the U.S. can impose sanctions on the rest of the world after we walk away from a deal that everyone else thinks solves the problem is the height of hubris. If the U.S. tried to sanction Chinese banks for trading with Iran, I think you would start to see a determined Chinese effort to move away from the dollar as central global currency. A view would take hold in the world that the U.S. could not be trusted anymore, and that you could not rely on the U.S. to provide stability and consistency in international relations." According to Cirincione, another selling point in favor of the US-Iran nuclear deal is: "At the end of that time, should Iran try to get a weapon, we will know with great precision where Iran’s critical nodes are located; we will have improved intelligence on their entire nuclear supply chain, and if we did have to go on a military strike, we'd be much more effective at conducting a strike after this deal than we are right now."

See also:

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Deutscher's Zionist Fable

According to Wikipedia, the passage appearing below is Isaac Deutscher's "most famous statement regarding Israel".
A man once jumped from the top floor of a burning house in which many members of his family had already perished. He managed to save his life; but as he was falling he hit a person standing down below and broke that person's legs and arms. The jumping man had no choice; yet to the man with the broken limbs he was the cause of his misfortune. If both behaved rationally, they would not become enemies. The man who escaped from the blazing house, having recovered, would have tried to help and console the other sufferer; and the latter might have realized that he was the victim of circumstances over which neither of them had control. But look what happens when these people behave irrationally. The injured man blames the other for his misery and swears to make him pay for it. The other, afraid of the crippled man’s revenge, insults him, kicks him, and beats him up whenever they meet. The kicked man again swears revenge and is again punched and punished. The bitter enmity, so fortuitous at first, hardens and comes to overshadow the whole existence of both men and to poison their minds.
Anyone involved for very long in the Palestinian solidarity/American liberation movement will most likely have encountered some form of this tale. It is an allusion to Jews fleeing the Holocaust and supposedly escaping to Palestine.

The tale is profoundly dishonest for at least three reasons. First, Zionist designs on Palestine long predate the rise of the Nazis in Germany—the man was planning to jump way before there was any fire. Second, the Zionists knew that Palestine was already occupied—the man knew he would land on and hurt someone else.Third, the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to save the German economy from an international boycott—the man started the fire himself or, at least, actively kept it from being extinguished.

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"Folk Singer's Blues (Young and White and Jewish)" by Shel Silverstein



See also: "Of Sabras & Rappers: Cultural Appropriation & Orientalism in Invincible's 'People Not Places' " on the Deir Yassin Remembered blog

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"How He Loves Us" by Jesus Culture feat. Kim Walker-Smith


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