Search This Blog

Sunday, February 22, 2009

USA owns Pacific Ocean? By force?

Meet new DNI boss Dennis Blair
Sunday, February 22, 2009


Two admirals met in 1999 in Hawaii. One was from Washington, the other from Beijing. The Chinese officer rudely critiqued U.S. policy toward Taiwan. The American listened and then said, "Let me tell you a couple of things."

Gesturing toward the Pacific, he continued, "First, I own the water out there. Second, I own the sky over the water out there. Now, don't you think we should talk about something constructive?"

The American was Adm. Dennis Blair, 62, at the time commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, and he confirms the story. A sixth-generation naval officer, he now is director of National Intelligence and President Barack Obama's chief security adviser.

The admiral did not work on the presidential campaign and served only as a sporadic adviser to Mr. Obama in the Senate. An Annapolis graduate, as a Rhodes Scholar in the same class as Bill Clinton, he earned a master's degree in Russian studies at Oxford.

Back in the U.S. Navy he commanded destroyers and the Kitty Hawk Battle Group.

Known as an intense workaholic, he also tried to water ski in Japanese waters while being towed by his destroyer. As the ship stepped up its speed, Blair lost control and was dunked, to the delight of the ship's crew, which had been promised entertainment by the skipper.

It is said that the four-star admiral resigned from the Navy, ending his 34-year career, when he was passed over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld considered him too independent.

Meanwhile, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Blair, sounding like a university scholar rather than the fighting Navy commander he has been, detailed just how the threat of terrorism and the dangers of wars were now outweighed by the global economic crisis.

Recent fears were not ignored. Blair spoke about global struggles for energy, food and water resources, exploding populations and the threat to our information networks by hackers.

Of course, he spoke about the potential (but not inevitable) threats of Iran's missiles and development of a deliverable nuclear weapons program. In his report on Afghanistan, Blair was frank in his views as to the future of war against the Taliban, echoing many of our generals on the increasing problems of corruption, the thriving opium trade and a weak government, hardly reaching beyond the capital.

While he spoke about the growing availability of biological weapons and near-immediate threats to our interests in African countries, the admiral did not ignore China.

The view of the boss of our intelligence services, in his first-risk assessment, was that China's military and its defense-industrial complex are driven by Beijing's thoughts of a potential conflict with Taiwan. But he is concerned that the mission of the People's Liberation Army "goes well beyond China's territorial interests."

He continued by talking about China's refinement of ballistic and missile capabilities, while its nuclear weapons capabilities continue to increase. He outlined China's military priorities as including counter-command, control and sensor systems together with communications jamming and satellite jamming.

Senators were told that if the current economic crisis lasts more than two years, some national governments might collapse, including a number of our allies who might no longer be able to meet their defense and social obligations.

The admiral said that our financial meltdown has eroded confidence in both our economic leadership and belief in free markets. He reminded them of the historical warnings of the 1920s and 1930s, which forecast regime threatening instability and could be repeated if our economic problems are not resolved.

The senators were shocked to discover that Blair believed he was acting as their own intelligence officer, telling them about the areas in which they ought now to show concern.

Professional intelligence analysts and even some senators who heard Blair agreed that he demonstrated both the personality and charisma to lead them to storm many barricades.

An amusing exchange ensued another day at the Senate confirmation hearing of Leon Panetta, who for many years supported the Institute for Policy Studies, as our CIA director.

Asked by Democrat Sen. Carl Levin if he knew that he would fall under Blair's supervision, Panetta, obviously unhappy that the question had been asked, answered in the affirmative.

But foolishly, he added that the CIA was an "operational arm" and that the admiral's job was to "coordinate activities" with the National Security Agency, the still rarely mentioned National Reconnaissance Office and other agencies.

Panetta's unfortunate, unplanned response baffled Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who asked with Oklahoma bluntness, "Is the DNI your boss or not?"

Panetta replied quickly: "The DNI is my boss."

Now, let's wait for the interagency feuds to begin.

Dateline D.C. is written by a Washington-based British journalist and political observer.


and here is Students re-occupying public space ...
on a smaller scale.

Same issue... OWNERSHIP.

WE THE PEOPLE OWN OUR WORLD.... not some banking-corporation.

Take Back NYU! Taking Their Message Around the Globe
With their three-day occupation of the Kimmel Center now in hindsight and eighteen of their members possibly facing suspension, Take Back NYU! is attempting not to lose momentum and forge ahead. Today they posted the above picture sent in from a student group at Loyola University in Chicago. And yesterday it was the famous activist and scholar Noam Chomsky expressing solidarity with the group. Chomsky released a statement supporting their call for "universities to end their participation in the brutal oppression of Palestinians."

Of course the backlash against Take Back NYU!'s actions haven't exactly disappeared either. Washington Square News reports that a couple of NYU alums have created a site named Fake Back NYU mocking the group's demands. The paper also says that when they went out and spoke to thirty random NYU students, not one fully supported the Take Back's demands. One former member of TBNYU criticized the movement saying, "It was a stage, and they just wanted the publicity...[It was] a manifestation of the latest fad."

Statement from Noam Chomsky sent to TBNYU!

Feb 22nd, 2009 by Take Back NYU!

I would like to express my support for the actions of the students who are calling on their universities to end their participation in the brutal oppression of Palestinians by divesting from corporations that participate in and profit from these crimes, in violation of international and US law.

Noam Chomsky
Faculty, MIT Linguistics and Philosophy

Thursday, February 19, 2009



Today SABAH (turkish online newspaper) published this:

Gladio's funds come from the CIA


Former Italian President Cossiga: "Aldo Moro was the one who brought me to the head of Gladio."


Italy has also recovered numerous weapons that had been buried underground. The number one Italian Gladio, Cossiga says; "These are weapons provided to Special Forces by the gendarmerie." Cossiga also went on to state; "You can take money from the CIA but you can never openly announce so, the brains of this organization however, are the British."


How long until we wake up that 911 was an inside job?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sri Lanka Murder Mystery

Forewarning of the perils of overkill

Prof. Noam Chomsky has been one of the icons of the peace movement in the United States since the days of the Vietnam War. He was recently interviewed for his views on Sri Lanka, which is being put forward as a possible international model of military solution in cases of protracted conflict. The government.s victory last month at Kilinochchi, where it took over the LTTE.s administrative capital and followed this up with other crucial victories, such as Elephant Pass and Mullaitivu in early February, brought in many international journalists to report on the military battles. But now there is a noticeable shift in the international coverage of Sri Lanka, away from military lessons to a focus on the escalating humanitarian crisis.

Drawing on his long years of study and reflection on conflict processes in the world, including those in which the United States was involved, Prof. Chomsky said that .It is clear that there is a problem of Tamil rights. Now that the military aspect of the conflict seems to be coming to an end, what would be necessary, humane and best for everyone is to arrive at some kind of political solution that gives recognition to the valid claims to some form of autonomy or self-determination within the Sri Lankan state.. While the military battles continue in the north, the remaining territory under the control of the LTTE has shrunk still further, and attention will shift to the post-conflict plans that the government has.

Commenting on the fate of the tens of thousands of people who fought with or supported the LTTE over the past three decades, Prof. Chomsky also said, .The general presumption should be that there will be a form of amnesty. It is probably not a bad idea to establish some kind of Truth Commission, without punitive powers, but with investigative powers. This could bring to light atrocities and crimes committed on all sides, as a step towards reconciliation and living together.. This statement takes on importance in the context of the stories that are filtering through word of mouth and through the internet of horrific conditions in the battle zones of the Wanni, and even in the welfare camps set up by the government.

There appears to be growing international concern about the humanitarian situation in the country. The UN Secretary General has said that Sri Lanka.s humanitarian crisis is an under reported one. The British government recently appointed a special envoy to Sri Lanka to address this crisis, which was rejected by the Sri Lankan government on the grounds that it was a unilateral action. But it shows the degree of concern amongst countries that have long been supportive of Sri Lanka.s development. In view of these pressures the government needs to reconsider its apparent policy of eliminating the last Tiger by military means even as the humanitarian cost of this strategy mounts.

Two insights

The two insights of Prof. Chomsky highlighted above are central to a peaceful future in Sri Lanka and need to be on the top of the list of priorities of Sri Lankan political discourse, including the parliamentary debate between the government and opposition. On the positive side the pursuit of a political solution continues to be on the top of the agenda of a section of the government through the All Party Representatives Conference headed by government minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana. The APRC has a dedicated group of Parliamentarians drawn from several political parties which have met 105 times over the past two years, with most meetings lasting between 3 to 4 hours as reported by Prof. Vitarana himself.

On the negative side, however, the deliberations of the APRC are yet to yield a credible outcome despite interim reports that have had much that is positive in them. The problem appears to be that the real decision makers within the government have so far shown little if any interest in making the proceedings of the APRC acceptable to the ethnic minorities. In particular, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who established the APRC, needs to give the process his political backing. The government.s decisive victory at the two provincial council elections held over the weekend show that its political strength is very high, with President Rajapakse being its main focus. Perhaps when the time is deemed to be ripe, he will make the necessary effort to give his personal leadership to the APRC process.

There is also no indication that, at this time, the government is interested in any form of amnesty for the rebel fighters of the LTTE through a negotiated settlement with them in which they lay down arms. The government.s current position is to demand an unconditional surrender. As there is no indication that the LTTE is willing to concede defeat in such a manner, what has been transpiring on the ground is a ruthless battle in which no effort is being spared to win, not even if hapless civilians are caught up in the fighting. They have been fired on, even in hospitals, and families have been separated and made vulnerable to abuse. In its bid to weed out LTTE cadre, and who may be amongst the people, the government is engaged in a screening process under military control.

However, recent pronouncements by government spokespersons indicate that there could be rethinking on their part. Government spokespersons appear to be more responsive to international criticism of the lack of checks and balances in the screening and detention processes. Until recently the government has been reluctant to permit international agencies, even reputed humanitarian ones, from entering into the areas where civilians from the LTTE-controlled areas cross over into government controlled territory. Presumably the reason for this was concern that procedures for screening will be judged as not meeting international standards. It had also been reported that welfare centres which house the civilians have restricted entry for non-governmental humanitarian workers.

Positive change

Inevitably in the absence of independent monitors in the battle zones, both sides can find it easy to blame the other for the latest atrocity and try to get away with it. Partisan interpretations of what is happening on the ground are exacerbating tensions and hatreds between the ethnic communities. The clearest manifestations of ethnic polarisation are in internet communications being exchanged by those who live abroad, and who do not have to face the direct consequences of their opinions. On the other hand, within Sri Lanka, dissenting voices that seek to give priority to civilian concerns are intimidated in their public comments or totally silenced by the impunity that exists. The end result is that hapless civilians suffer and the voice of conscience is stilled.

Nonetheless, the latest statements by government spokespersons refer to a healthy relationship between government administrators, military, local NGOs, and international NGOs. This would be the ideal situation where sentiments about a good working relatonship are mutually shared. A mutually agreed working relationship based on international standards is the only positive foundation for post-war reconstruction and reconciliation.

A few days ago, I received a telephone call from a colleague in the peace movement, who is a Catholic nun. She told me that several of the nuns in her convent were Tamil, and they had lost family members in the Wanni region, where the last battles are now being fought. She asked me if there was anything I could do. When my silence spoke louder than words, she asked me to at least listen to what they had to say. Another nun came on the line, her voice virtually inaudible, saying between sobs, .They are all gone.. It had been just confirmed that most of her family had been killed, including her parents. This is the plight of a section of Sri Lanka.s people today.

In recent days the international media has been spotlighting the stories of civilians who have been able to leave the LTTE-controlled areas. One media report was of a Catholic nun shot and injured for attempting to leave along with civilians. The main reason that the LTTE was banned internationally as a terrorist organization was its disregard for human life and for human rights. At the present time the government is strong in its military victories over the LTTE. But these triumphs are coming at the cost of even the most basic of human rights of large numbers of innocent Tamil people. The perils of overkill that doomed the LTTE must forewarn the government which was mandated to look after the interests of all sections of the Sri Lankan people.

==== MUST READ ==============================

Summary: Sri Lanka is just one of MANY states that bombs its own citizens

BBC buries DEEP STATE TERROR... see GLADIO in Wikipedia and the many examples of State Terror in the USA, culminating in 911, a elaborate illusion with fake airplanes, lasers, hologrammes and ...

Chomsky Interview CUBA BLOCKADE - US Terrorism

«The terrorist war against Cuba, which was most extreme under Kennedy, was uncontroversially in violation of international law.»

Interview of Noam Chomsky

Liberté 62 : «In your book What We Say Goes you declare that «the USA are the outlaw land par excellence, free from the International Law».
You called the US blockade of Cuba - over 50 years and denounced by many UN resolutions - a «strangling strategy of Cuba»
How can the USA at the same time violate the International Law AND present itself, in Latin America or in Cuba, as the champion of Law and Democracy ?»

Noam Chomsky : « The terrorist war against Cuba, which was most extreme under Kennedy, was uncontroversially in violation of international law. The explicit goal of the embargo has been to punish Cubans: in Kennedy's words, it would cause "rising discomfort among hungry Cubans" who would then overthrow the government. That appears to be a clear violation of international humanitarian law, and has been repeatedly condemned in those terms, even by the normally submissive Organization of American States. But these are only minor illustrations of Washington's contempt for international law -- shared largely by other great powers, though few are able to violate international law as brazenly as the global superpower. How can Washington present itself as the champion of justice and democracy in the face of its consistent behavior? The basic answer was given by Hans Morgenthau, one of the founders of the realist school of international relations theory. He commented on "our conformist subservience to those in power," referring to the intellectual classes. including many of those who regard themselves as courageous and independent critics.»

Liberté 62 : «You are supporting the «5 of Miami», Cuban's agents accused to have conspired against the US security. Can you explain your approach ?»

Noam Chomsky : «The prosecution made no serious effort to show that they had conspired against US security. Rather, it was conceded that they sought to undermine US-based terrorist attacks against Cuba by infiltrating the terrorist organizations in the United States. They in fact provided the FBI with extensive information about these organizations and their plans and operations. Washington's reaction was to leave the terrorist organizations undisturbed, and to arrest and imprison those who sought to expose them.»

If anyone cares, there is a "Bush doctrine," which holds that "those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves," in the President's words, and therefore should be subject to bombardment and invasion. The Bush doctrine has .already become a de facto rule of international relations,. writes Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison: it revokes .the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists." Some states, that is.

It might be added that harboring terrorists is not at all concealed. Thus Bush I granted asylum to Cuban-American terrorist Orlando Bosch, over the objections of the FBI and Justice Department, who wanted him deported as a threat to US security because of the dozens of terrorist acts they attributed to him. And Bush II permitted Bosch's associate Luis Posada Carriles, another leading terrorist, to join him in Miami. These are only the most prominent examples.»

Liberté 62 : «In a chapter about Latin America of your book, you declare that «the one holding the cosh required historical amnesia ». For the 50' anniversary of the cuban's revolution and at the time where «it's the first time since the spanish conquest that the Latin America takes measures for independence and integration », how to fight against this amnesia and to support this proces ? »

Noam Chomsky : «Historical amnesia is crafted by those whom Morgenthau condemned. Overcoming it requires no magic key: just honesty and dedication to reveal the truth and to participate in popular movements to civilize the country. That has happened often in the past, including very recent years. And there is always more to do. To take a current example, in September 2008, UNASUR -- the newly formed Union of South American Republics -- met in Santiago to consider the violent acts of the US-backed movement of Bolivian elites in their efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government. The summit issued a strong statement of support for the elected Morales government. Morales thanked UNASUR for its support, observing that "For the first time in South America's history, the countries of the region are deciding how to resolve our problems, without the presence of the United States."

This is of considerable significance, and was not reported in the United States, presumably because the truth, once again, conflicts so dramatically with the doctrines of US benevolence and support for democracy that are upheld by the conformist intellectuals (including the media). But that "trahison des clercs" can be overcome, as it often has been in the past.»

By Jérôme Skalski

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fisk on suffering in War

Robert Fisk.s World:

A fair point: Everyone is equal in their suffering during wartime

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The third and very final part of the "normality" of war. I have just finished reading Lyn Smith's Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust. I admit to a personal interest. Lyn is a friend of mine for whom I have been recording my memories of Middle East wars for the Imperial War Museum. Nothing I have ever seen can equal this, however, and I can give only one example from the terrifying, outrageously brave and moving book this is.

It is the testimony of Leon Greenman, a British Jewish inmate of Auschwitz-Birkenau who arrived at the extermination camp with his wife and child. It speaks for itself. All other passages pale beside it:

"We were bullied out of the train and stood about waiting. It must have been about half past two in the morning. It was dark, a blue light was shining on the platform. We saw a few SS men walking up and down. They separated the men from the women. So I stood right in front of the men and I could see my wife there with the child in her arms. She threw me a kiss and she showed the baby ... Then one of the prisoners in a striped uniform commanded us to follow him. Well, we turned to the left and walked a little way for two or three minutes. A truck arrived, stopped near us and on the truck were all the women, children, babies and in the centre my wife and child standing up. They stood up to the light as if it was meant to be like that . so that I could recognise them. A picture I'll never forget. All these were supposed to have gone to the bathroom to have a bath, to eat and to live. Instead they had to undress and go into the gas chambers, and two hours later those people were ashes, including my wife and child."

I recalled this searing passage this week when I received a letter from a reader, taking me to task for my "constant downplaying of the suffering of the Palestinians on the grounds that their deaths and suffering are minimal when compared with that of the Second World War". Now, I should say at once that this is a bit unfair. I was especially taking exception to a Palestinian blog now going the rounds which shows a queue of Palestinian women at one of Israel's outrageous roadblocks and a (slightly) cropped picture of the Auschwitz selection ramp, the same platform upon which Leon Greenman was separated from his young wife and child more than 60 years ago. The picture of the Palestinian women is based on a lie; they are not queuing to be exterminated. Racist, inhumane and, sometimes deadly . Palestinian women have died at these infernal checkpoints . but they are not queuing to be murdered.

Yet our reader does have a point. The Second World War, she says, "does put it in a category apart ... but surely if one is caught up in any war and sees one's loved ones killed or maimed, one's home destroyed ... then that must be the greatest cataclysm in one's life. The fact that a hundred others, a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million are suffering likewise is immaterial to the individual's suffering. The Second World War lasted six years. The Palestinian suffering has lasted over sixty..."

And yes, I'll go along with this. If it's an individual being deliberately killed, then this is no less terrible than any other individual, albeit that this second person may be one of six million others. The point, of course, is the centrality of the Holocaust and . Israel's constant refrain . its exclusivity. Actually, the Armenian Holocaust . as I've said on umpteen occasions . is also central to all genocide studies. The same system of death marches, of camps, of primitive asphyxiation, even a few young German officers in Turkey watching the genocide in 1915 and then using the same methods on Jews in the occupied Soviet Union. Numbers matter.

But our reader has another point. "After all," she says, "in the Second World War, after the entry of the US and USSR on our side, people could feel pretty positive about the outcome. But where is such hope for the Palestinians? And now to cap the horror the BBC is refusing to even show an appeal to help Gaza..." I'm not at all sure that W Churchill Esq would have entirely placed such confidence in the outcome of the Second World War . he was initially worried that the Americans would use up their firepower on the Japanese rather than against Hitler's Germany.

I think, however, there is yet one more point. The rules of war . the Geneva Conventions and all the other post-Second World War laws . were meant to prevent another Holocaust. They were specifically designed to ensure that no one should ever again face the destruction of Mrs Greenman and her child. They were surely not made only for one race of people. And it is these rules which Israel so disgracefully flouted in Gaza. It's a bit like the refrain from Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara and a whole host of other apparatchiks when the torture at Abu Ghraib was revealed. Well, yes, they told us, it was bad . but not as bad as Saddam Hussein's regime.

And of course, this argument leads to perdition. True, we were bad . but not as bad as the Baath party. Or the Khmer Rouge. Or Hitler's Germany and the SS. Or the Ottoman Turks . though I noticed movingly that one of Lyn's Jewish Holocaust survivors mentions the Armenians. No, the numbers game works both ways. A thousand Palestinians die in Gaza. But what if the figure were 10,000? Or 100,000? No, no, of course that wouldn't happen. But the rules of war are made for all to obey. Yes, I know that the Jews of Europe had no Hamas to provide the Nazis with an excuse for their deaths. But a Palestinian woman and her child are as worthy of life as a Jewish woman and her child on the back of a lorry in Auschwitz.

Jews Gaza "campaign" Protest Petition

Petition seeks Jews critical of Gaza action

February 11, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A group of Jewish intellectuals and clergy is appealing to Jews who are "supportive of Israel but troubled by the Gaza campaign."

An advertisement soliciting signatures for a petition condemning Israel's recent action in the Gaza Strip as "unjust" and creating a "humanitarian disaster" is set to appear Thursday in The New York Jewish Week.

"We condemn Hamas and Israel for violating the human rights of civilians on both sides, although we do not necessarily declare these violations to be morally or legally equivalent," the petition reads. "We affirm the rights of both Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination and self-defense, as we affirm the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

The petition is organized by two bloggers, Richard Silverstein and Jerry Haber, who have been critical of Israel's policies on Palestinians.

Rabbis and cantors are among the 350 signatories to date, as well as leftist intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Murray Polner.

Organizers plan to run the ad in an Israeli newspaper as well.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chomsky is a trustworthy guide

Chomsky is a trustworthy guide

Saturday, 14 February 2009

On January 19 The Gisborne Herald was kind enough to print my views on the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

I took pains to base my opinions on facts, but in spite of this attempt to strike a balanced note, Mr Stein took exception to what he called my "left-wing liberal rantings".

I replied rather light-heartedly to his challenge, and decided at that point to take no further part in the debate. As is too often the case, however, intention was at the mercy of changed circumstances, so I wish to take a brief look at the controversy about Israel's right to exist.

It is true that rather recently the Hamas party has refused to acknowledge Israel's right to exist (which as I understand it, refers to the Israeli state itself and not necessarily individuals inhabiting that state). This intransigence was not always evident, and it is vital to find out why this particular formulation came about and to censure the Zionist actions that played a part in changing the mood of its neighbours.

Noam Chomsky (to whom we owe so much) is a trustworthy guide. In his splendid "Failed States", Chomsky refers to the mid-1970s, when "the major Arab states, with the backing of the PLO, had accepted Israel's right to exist within the recognised and secure boundaries".. laid down by the UN.

To discover how this promising situation was shattered just read Chomsky's book.

Hard to believe after all the spin we've suffered, but a fact nonetheless.

K.S.W. Hyde

"Professor Chomsky On Sri Lanka
And American Affairs"

By Eric Bailey

12 February, 2009
Sri Lanka Guardian

Sri Lanka Guardian's Washington correspondent Eric Bailey interviews Noam Chomsky

As the Sri Lankan Civil War's military aspect slowly but surely draws to a close, questions about Sri Lanka's future are becoming more and more pressing. What should happen to former rebels, especially those who may have committed war crimes? What will be the fate of the Tamils in Sri Lanka as a people and will their rights be protected? While no one can answer these questions before events occur, we can hope to expose Sri Lanka to the best minds available in the relevant political and social fields, and the most diverse advice available.

Appearing for the first time in Sri Lankan media, MIT's linguistics Professor Noam Chomsky has given the Sri Lanka Guardian an exclusive interview to discuss the events unfolding in Sri Lanka, as well as in his home country, the United States. Professor Chomsky has gained fame worldwide for his political activism and has been an outspoken critic of United States Foreign policy over the years. He is a self-described anarchist, but is probably most famous for his strong stances in support of suffering peoples, such as those in Palestine and Somalia. Now we hope to apply his years of experience and insight to Sri Lanka to help the nation make the transition from a house divided to a united and peaceful country.

Here is full text of Interview;

Eric: Can you still hear me alright?

Chomsky: Yes I can hear you.

Eric: Ok, great. I'd like to talk with you about several world events, but especially starting with Sri Lanka because that's where this newspaper is from.

Chomsky: Yeah.

Eric: You may have been hearing some news about their civil war that has picked up in the last year.

Chomsky: Yes, yes I've been following.

Eric: Yes, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, have been fighting for an independent country for over a quarter century now, but have been facing defeat after defeat for the past few years, especially in the last year when they lost their capital city of Kilinochchi and several other key bases. In fact just yesterday their last major naval base fell. Could you please tell me a little about your views of Sri Lanka and how it's handling the separatist problem?

Chomsky: Well, I don't feel that I have a profound enough knowledge of the details to offer a confident opinion, but it is clear that there is a problem of Tamil Rights and now that the military aspect of the conflict seems to be coming to an end what would be necessary, and humane, and best for everyone concerned, is to arrive at some kind of political solution that gives a recognition to the valid claims for some form of autonomy or self determination within the Sri Lankan state. To work that out you'd have to know more than I do.

Eric: Do you feel that an independent state for the Tamils is a viable option or do you feel that it is in the best interests of the island to remain as one independent nation, or one united nation, rather?

Chomsky: I think the idea of a single state is a bad option in much of the world and in fact parts of the world, like parts of Europe, for example, are moving towards more federal arrangements. So take, say, Spain. In Spain, Catalonia by now has a high degree of autonomy within the Spanish state. The Basque Country also has a high degree of autonomy and the same will increasingly be true of other regions. In England, Wales and Scotland in the United Kingdom are moving towards a form of autonomy and self determination and I think there are similar developments throughout Europe and they're mixed with a lot of pros and cons, but by and large I think it is a generally healthy development. I mean, the people have different interests, different cultural backgrounds, different concerns, and there should be special arrangements to allow them to pursue their special interests and concerns in harmony with others. Some form of federalism I suppose is a good outcome in multinational, multicultural, systems, especially where there is a fair amount of geographical separation. You know, it just depends on local circumstances, the kinds of accommodations that are possible. Without a really deep knowledge of these matters would be just too presumptuous for an outsider to offer opinions.

Eric: I understand that. I would like to talk a little bit about how Sri Lanka is going to be dealing with reconstruction, basically, after the LTTE is finally defeated, which most military analysts are saying should occur in the next month or two. What do you feel should be the fate of the tens of thousands of rebels who have fought over the decades-

Chomsky: I'm sorry, say it again. What do I think, in terms of what?

Eric: What do you think should be the fate of the tens of thousands of people who have fought with the LTTE over the decades, including lower level soldiers all the way up to leading officers?

Chomsky: I understand. Well the general approach, I think, should be, the general presumption should be that there will be a form of amnesty. It's probably not a bad idea to establish some kind of truce commission without punitive powers, but with investigatory powers, that would bring to light atrocities and crimes committed on all sides, as a step towards reconciliation and living together.

Eric: Yes, the war crimes and atrocities is actually going to be a hot issue in Sri Lanka, given that so many top rebel leaders are accused of (ordering) several massacres and that this is the group that actually invented the suicide bomber, or at least the suicide belt, as far as I understand it.

Chomsky: Yeah, well there are plenty of crimes on all sides, undoubtedly, and there should be- You know, it's not easy. A lot of people have suffered and it's hard for them to face that their side too is guilty of crimes, but it is quite important for that to take place. It has been moderately successful in other places; in South Africa, in El Salvador, in Guatemala. It doesn't overcome the problems, but it leads to a basis for a degree of reconciliation and a basis for living together in some constructive fashion.

Eric: Alright, I understand that. In regards to the very top leadership of the LTTE, do you think it might be more healthy or harmful for Sri Lanka to create its own Nuremburg trials to try these top Tiger leaders?

Chomsky: I frankly doubt it because the Nuremburg trials, if they were serious, would have to avoid the profound immorality of the actual Nuremburg trials. Remember, the actual Nuremburg trials were trials of the defeated, not of the victors. In fact, the principle of the Nuremburg trials was that if the Allies had committed some crime, it wasn't a crime. So, for example, the German war criminals were not accused of bombing urban, civilian targets because the Allies did more of it than the Nazis did, and Nazi war criminals like submarine commander Dönitz was able to bring as defense witnesses, American and British counterparts who testified that they had done the same things so these automatically became non-crimes. In other words, a war crime is defined as something you did and we didn't do and that turns the trial into a sham. It has been a sham since. The Chief Justice at Nuremburg, Chief Robert Jackson, the American Chief Prosecutor, he made very strong statements at Nuremburg, admonishing the judges there that, as he put it, "we are handing the defendants a poison chalice and if we sip from it (meaning if we carry out crimes like theirs) then we must be subject to the same punishment." Of course, nothing like that has happened or is even conceivable. Jackson said, "If we don't do this it means that the trial was a farce." Well we haven't done it so that means the trial was a farce, even though the guilty were maybe the most guilty criminals in modern history. So a Trial modeled on Nuremburg would not be a good thing at all. It would simply be a trial of the defeated and that only engenders further hatred, anger, and promises an ugly conflict. An honest trial, which tries everyone, might be conceivable, but my guess is that it's probably not a good idea, just as it wasn't carried out in the countries that I mentioned.

So in South Africa, Guatemala, and El Salvador there were plenty of people guilty of terrible crimes, mostly the government, but they weren't punished. There was a truth commission that allowed for coming to terms with the crimes or at least recognizing them and was kind of an apology for them, but there was no punishment, and that was probably a wise move. Since you have to have to find a way to live together and maybe there should be punishments, maybe not, you know that depends of the society and how it decides to address these matters, but I think it should be done with caution and in a way that looks forward to the future, looks forward to laying the basis for the future of reconciliation, recognition of mutual rights, and the development of a viable social system for everyone.

Eric: So it might be more beneficial to Sri Lanka to give general amnesty to leaders on both sides instead of bringing trials against some of their own leaders?

Chomsky: Well that's a delicate problem for the society itself to face. How do we proceed to deal with the crimes and at the same time recognize that we're going to have to live together, and there's no simple answer to that.

Eric: There is some thought about how Sri Lanka might have global implications in the lessons for future conflicts. Since World War Two there have been countless conflicts where the UN and the global community have called for cease-fires to occur as quickly as possible, peace talks to begin, and even peacekeepers to be deployed, but in so many cases, even if the war does stop momentarily, it will rise up again, such as in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in Sri Lanka several times, and in other cases. Might it be that more lives will be saved if conflicts are allowed to see themselves out and decisive military victories and defeats are allowed to be determined instead of stopping a war before it can be really resolved?

Chomsky: Well, I think every possible effort should be made for peaceful diplomatic resolution. There's a terrible burden of proof to bear for those who would advise violence as a solution, and I think the resort to violence has almost always been harmful, almost bitterly so, so I think the first assumption should be that international peacekeepers and diplomacy would be a far preferred outcome and only if it is simply impossible to execute should the situation be allowed to deteriorate into violence, which is usually very harmful for everyone. There are some places where peacekeeping has pretty well worked.

Eric: Could you maybe name an example of that, such as maybe Korea?

Chomsky: Well in Korea there hasn't been another war, but take Egypt and Israel. There are Peacekeeping forces in the Sinai and there hasn't been further violence. On the other hand, in Southern Lebanon there are UN peacekeeping forces, but it has not prevented Israel from continuing to invade. It may have limited the scope of the aggression and probably did, in fact, have some sort of deterrent effect, but not much. There is just a mixture of cases around the world. It is certainly preferred and should be pursued as much as possible. One would hope it could lead to a direct resolution, which has sometimes happened. Take Sudan, which is a horrible situation, but one of the more positive steps that the Bush Administration took was helping to bring about a reduction, not total resolution, but at least a reduction of the conflict between the North and South in their civil war, and that's the solution that should be preferred. The same in Indonesia. After the US and Britain supported, strongly supported, Indonesia's invasion and massacres in East Timor, one of the worst in the world and probably wiped out a quarter of the population, but when the US finally agreed, under a lot of pressure, (international and domestic) Clinton agreed to tell the Indonesians to pull out, which of course, they did, then there was a peacekeeping force that was sent in, a UN peacekeeping force, Australian led, which did reduce and largely eliminate the residual violent conflict. It was far from a complete success, but it was a partial success.

Eric: I understand. I'd like to move our conversation here to America, and some of the new developments that have been going on this year. Especially now that we have a new president, I would like to get your opinion of him on some issues, but as an introduction to that, can you tell me any initial thoughts you have for the now concluded Bush Administration?

Chomsky: Well, the Bush Administration certainly ranks as one of the worst in American history, maybe the worst. It has led to catastrophe in almost everything it touched. The domestic economy and social system is entering into its worst collapse since the Great Depression in substantial measure because of measures taken by the Bush Administration, though they go back deeper to the Clinton Administration and the Reagan Administration. Internationally, it has carried out two wars, both of them catastrophic for the victims and harmful to the US too. It's led to a decline in the prestige of the United States to a historic low. The US has never been so disliked and often hated throughout the world. In fact it tore apart the system of civil liberties. Fortunately it's pretty resilient so it will survive, but they certainly tried to undermine The Constitution severely. It's really not necessary to discuss it in detail. The point is that the Bush Administration was so disliked even internally that in the last election both parties ran against it. The Republican Party ran against the incumbent administration, which was considered a liability, so they tried to keep him out of it, which is a good measure of the harm it caused to the United States and even worse to the world. I mentioned one positive element and there are a few others, but by and large it was a disaster.

Eric: There are several Republicans that have stated that because there have been no attacks after September 11th, and because so many presidents that are unpopular in their day are remembered more positively in the future.what do you think his legacy will be 50 or 100 years from now?

Chomsky: You do hear that argument, which is quite amazing. There were no terrorist attacks between 1993 and 2001. In 1993 there was an attempt to blow up the world trade center which came very close to succeeding. With a little better planning it probably would have killed ten thousand people. But there were no terrorist attacks between 1993 and 2001 without the attacks on civil liberties and without the wars and aggression, so what does it tell us? The fact of the matter is that under the Bush administration, terrorism vastly increased. It was expected that the invasion of Iraq would lead to an increase in terrorism around the world and it did, but far more than was expected. Terrorism went up by about a factor of seven after the invasion of Iraq. Other actions of the Bush Administration which were alleged responses to terrorism had terrible effects elsewhere. Take Somalia. The Bush Administration started going after charities, Islamic charities and one of the charities they went in after and destroyed was a charity which they charged with terrorism and later conceded that there wasn't any basis for the charge. Meanwhile they destroyed the charity which was providing some of the main support for the economy of Somalia. The result was that Somalia descended into chaos, and that's even greater chaos than before. Then the Bush Administration supported an Ethiopian invasion, which made it much worse.

Now it's one of the major humanitarian crises in Africa. A substantial part of that was alleged action to protect the United States from terror that had an effect of zero, but the effect of Somalia was horrible and there are other cases like that. So that argument is awful. As for the legacy of the Administration, that depends very largely on the propaganda system. So take, say, Ronald Reagan. Reagan was not a particularly popular president. In fact, his popularity was roughly normal when he was in office or afterwards. His record was shocking. He was the most protectionist president in Post-War American history. He doubled protectionist barriers. He virtually brought The Pentagon in to teach backward American management Japanese modern production techniques. He bailed out banks. He left the country with an enormous deficit. The growth rate under Reagan was lower than in any other Post-War decade. He has a large share of the responsibility for the development of radical Islam in Afghanistan, and more crucially in Pakistan where it is an extremely dangerous phenomenon. Through the support of the Zia dictatorship h carried out massive terrorism. He's one of the leading terrorists in the modern world and has caused hundreds of thousands of people to be slaughtered in Central America. He supported the Apartheid regime, violating congressional sanctions.

On and on with an awful record, but a couple of years after his death the right wing of the Republican Party initiated a propaganda program called the Reagan Legacy which tried to construct an image of him as a great hero and the holy saint of free trade, which he opposed and on and on, and now you can't go into a town in the United States without seeing a Reagan library or Reagan airport or something. The memorial when he died was one of the most embarrassing period of American history with something you might expect in North Korea, but it did create a totally fabricated Reagan legacy which has now instituted itself into the historical consciousness. So it can be done with massive propaganda and maybe this will be done with Bush. I kind of doubt it, but it's conceivable. If the legacy is based on the actions, it will be viewed as a very dark part of America history.

Eric: We've been talking about the War on Terror led by the USA and her allies for several questions now, but I'd like to talk about it directly. I know that you are opposed to the Iraq war, as well as several other incursions, such as what we've done in Somalia, but what are your thoughts regarding Afghanistan? Was the US right in invading Afghanistan following 9/11?

Chomsky: I felt that was a major crime and still do. The United States invaded Afghanistan for a very explicit reason. It was made public, but there has been a lot of lying about it since, but it was very public. The reason was that the Taliban- the Bush Administration demanded that they hand over Osama Bin Laden to the United States and they asked for evidence of his crime. Well the Bush Administration wouldn't provide any evidence so they invaded. The reason they didn't provide any evidence, it later turned out, was because they didn't have any. Eight months later the FBI conceded that after the most major international investigation in history, they simply didn't have any evidence. They believed the plot for 9/11 was hatched in Afghanistan, but was probably implemented in the Arabian Peninsula and in Europe.

So they invaded, and they invaded with the knowledge that they were putting several million people at risk of starvation. They were right at the edge of starvation and an invasion might have driven them over the edge. Their estimate was 2.5 million people. In fact, the aid agencies and others were infuriated by this and they had to pull out their support and so on. Fortunately the worst didn't happen, but to carry out an invasion on that assumption, when your sole goal is to get the government to hand over somebody when you can't provide evidence is just a major crime and the invasion has had a horrible effect on Afghanistan. Some of the current studies of public opinion reveals that one of the most popular figures in Afghanistan right now seems to be Najibullah, the last Communist ruler of the country after the Russians had withdrawn. Since then the US has turned the country over to warlords who tore it to shreds, then invaded, and now the country is heading towards disaster.

As for current policies, I think Obama looks more aggressive and violent than Bush. The first acts to occur under his administration were attacks on Afghanistan and in Pakistan, both of which killed many civilians and are building up support for the Taliban and terror. He wants to extend the military side of the war. There is an Afghan peace movement, which is calling for a reduction or an end of terror. President Karzai has pleaded with the United States not to carry out attacks that will hit civilians and, in fact, has demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces, American forces, but that's just totally disregarded and the opportunities for a peaceful settlement are just ignored. There are reasons for that I won't go into, but I think it's a terrible policy. They're ruinous for the Afghans and maybe for the Americans as well. It's also spilling over into Pakistan, naturally, which is really dangerous. Pakistan, by now, is partially under the control of the radical Islamist elements that Reagan helped install there. It's an extreme danger for Pakistan and actually for the world, since Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

Eric: On that note, Obama has previously stated that he would send troops into Pakistan's tribal regions if the Pakistani military forces were unable to crush the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces there. Do you think this is a real possibility, and if so, does Obama risk a similar backlash at home and across the globe that maybe President Nixon got after the Cambodian Incursion and the American air support for the ARVN's efforts in Laos back during the Vietnam War?

Chomsky: It's possible, but the real issue will be what it does to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and there I think it would be ruinous.

*At this point we ran out of time so we said our goodbyes.

Eric Beilay can be reached at


Missile Shield - Grenada Disaster

Dear Friends,

With the expectation that President Obama may take a clear position, there is an air of uncertainty regarding the materialisation of the so-called Space Shield in Europe.
Nevertheless, our protest continues, and this has allowed that until today the Czech Government has been unable to definitively ratify the agreement with the USA. We thank everyone for the support received.

In Brussels, on the 18th of February 2009, there will be a meeting in the European Parliament among various MEPs and 20 Mayors of the Czech Republic, members of the League against the Radar, Giorgio Schultze (Europe for Peace), Jan Tamas (Czech Humanists against the bases) and delegations from various European countries.
Mayors of various Belgian cities will participate as well in the initiative in Brussels and messages of support will be handed in from many Italian Mayors expressing their solidarity with the protests in the Czech Republic.
At 2 pm, a demonstration will start in front of the Parliament and throughout the same day similar demonstrations will be carried out in numerous European cities.

The demonstration will be called .the invisibles., because the 70% of the Czech population that is against the US radar base are invisible for the media, as are the 95% of the world.s population that are against wars.

Video of the demonstration already held in Prague:

But above all, we would like to inform you about the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, the biggest march ever organised in human history.
It will start in New Zealand on the 2nd of October 2009, proclaimed by the United Nations as the International Day of Nonviolence. It will pass through a hundred countries on five continents and will end in the Argentinean Andes on the 2nd of January 2010.

Hundreds of organisations and personalities have already endorsed the March, like Michelle Bachelet, Chilean President, the Dalai Lama, the Italian football club Inter Milan, the actor Viggo Mortensen (from .the Lord of the Rings.) and many others.

Participate and join us in this March to say .no. decisively to wars and any form of violence!

International conference against Missile Defence in Seoul, South Korea, between the 16th and 18th of April 2009. Information:

Other information:

Video bulletin about the World March:

Brief presentation about the Space Shield, useful to inform institutions, friends and groups in a simple way:
Open letter to Mayors and organisations about the activity on the 18th of February:

Call of the Chilean President to participate in the World March and for a world without wars:

Video with Noam Chomsky about the Space Shield in Europe:

Video interview with Noam Chomsky about the possible role of Europe in order to avoid a nuclear catastrophe (in English):

Conference in the Czech Parliament with the MEP G. Chiesa: .The shield is dividing Europe.:

VIDEO: Interview of Russia Today with Jan Tamas - US Radar provokes wars:



Wesley L. McDonald, 84

Admiral Led Grenada Invasion

Adm. Wesley L. McDonald, then a Navy pilot, led the first U.S. bombing strike on North Vietnam in 1964. (Navy Photo)

By Patricia Sullivan

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, February 12, 2009; Page B07

Wesley L. McDonald, 84, a four-star Navy admiral who commanded the 1983 invasion of Grenada for the U.S. military and who as a pilot led the first air strike against North Vietnam in 1964 after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, died Feb. 8 at his home in Arlington.

He had normal pressure hydrocephalus, a neurological disorder.

Adm. McDonald was commander in chief of all NATO and U.S. forces in the Atlantic when he was placed in charge of Operation Urgent Fury, the planned invasion of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada.

Ostensibly, the mission was to evacuate hundreds of U.S. medical students studying there after an internal coup of the socialist government. The Reagan administration feared a Soviet-sponsored Cuban military buildup, and some of the region's other countries asked for U.S. intervention.

About 6,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines overwhelmed the 1,200 Grenadians and 780 Cubans in the waning days of October 1983. Adm. McDonald told the Senate Armed Services Committee several months later that despite inaccurate maps, problems with radio communications between different forces and the barring of press coverage during the invasion, Operation Urgent Fury was "a complete success."

In 1985, the Pentagon's inspector general was sharply critical of Adm. McDonald for failing to direct a full investigation of his subordinate, Vice Adm. Joseph Metcalf II, the task force commander of the invasion.

Metcalf took 24 captured Soviet-made rifles from Grenada, despite federal and military rules prohibiting such spoils. Lower-ranking soldiers had been disciplined for similar transgressions, but Adm. McDonald used bad judgment in allowing Metcalf to determine there was no need for an inquiry, the inspector general's report said.

Wesley Lee McDonald was born July 6, 1924, in Washington. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington and joined the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis as a member of the Class of 1947. That class, which matriculated a year early, included President Jimmy Carter, CIA Director Stansfield Turner, Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, who was a Medal of Honor recipient, and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman William J. Crowe.

As an ensign, Wesley McDonald served in a South Pole expedition headed by Adm. Richard E. Byrd. As a first lieutenant and naval aviator, he served aboard several aircraft carriers, including the Coral Sea, which he returned to command in 1970-71.

In 1964, he was commander of an attack squadron flying A-4 Skyhawks from the carrier Ticonderoga when the destroyer Turner Joy reported it was under attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Then-President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered retaliatory air strikes, dubbed Operation Pierce Arrow, for which future Adm. McDonald was the flight leader.

Whether the ships were under attack in the Tonkin Gulf has become a matter of serious historical dispute. Adm. McDonald later said he didn't see anything in the water that night except American ships.

He rose through the Navy's ranks, graduated from the National Defense University in 1969 and, after commanding the Coral Sea, became a rear admiral and carrier group commander during the final stages of the Vietnam War. His other posts included deputy chief of naval personnel, deputy chief of naval operations for air warfare and commander of the 2nd Fleet. In 1982, when he was promoted to admiral, he became Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, one of two senior commanders in NATO. At the same time, he assumed command of the U.S. Atlantic Command and the Atlantic Fleet. After Adm. McDonald retired from the Navy in 1985, he volunteered for the National Aeronautic Association, which later named its Elder Statesman of Aviation Award in his honor. Three naval aviation organizations jointly created a leadership award in his name, as well.

His military awards included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

His first wife and high school sweetheart, Norma Joy McDonald, died in 1989.

Survivors include his wife of 16 years, Helen McDonald of Arlington; four children from his first marriage, retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Thomas O. McDonald of San Antonio, Kathryn L. Overman of Lake Forest, Calif., Joy A. McDonald of Annandale and Toni M. McDonald of Santa Barbara, Calif.; a brother; a half brother; a half sister; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.


Kissinger, war criminal, honoured? OUTCH!

North America

Time to rethink realpolitik

Sholto Byrnes

Published 12 February 2009

Henry Kissinger, once accused of war crimes, is back and working for the Obama adminstration. Is this a sign of American desperation or another example of what Hillary Clinton calls smart power?

Archpragmatist: Henry Kissinger, pictured here in 1976, four years after Nixon.s historic first visit to China, pursued a foreign policy line that increased global stability

Henry Kissinger, in 1982, wrote: .Blessed are the people whose leaders can look destiny in the eye without flinching but also without attempting to play God.. The former US secretary of state is an unlikely . and unfashionable . source of reassurance, but his injunction is one that the west would do well to follow in the Obama era.

The US National Intelligence Council predicted a bleak future in its most recent Global Trends Review. America's dominance will disappear by 2025, it said, and the EU will become a "hobbled giant", unable despite its economic strength to exert significant global influence. With the last superpower reduced to a "first among equals" as new giants rise in the east, the "unipolar world" will be "over". The report warns of nuclear proliferation, mass migration, environmental catastrophe. "The next 20 years," it says (just to make sure we've all got the point), "are fraught with risks." Confronted with these dangers and uncertainties, however, some western leaders are still overly tempted to "play God".

At the Munich Security Conference on 7 February, Kissinger was awarded the first Ewald von Kleist prize for his "contributions to global peace and international co-operation". At the same time reports emerged that President Barack Obama had sent the good doctor to conduct secret talks on nuclear weapons reduction with Moscow in December.

.We cannot rule out arms races, territorial expansion and military rivalries.

But the world leaders gathered in Munich also heard the first major address on the new administration's foreign policy. Although Vice-President Joe Biden spoke softly - "We'll engage. We'll listen. We'll consult" - he still carried a big stick, delivering warnings to Russia and Iran, and urging US allies to be more willing "to use force when all else fails". His remarks were consistent with Secretary of State Clinton's statement at last month's Senate confirmation hearings, when she denied reports of her country's imminent relegation to equal rank status with other world powers: "Some have argued that we have reached the end of the 'American moment' in world history. I disagree."

Hillary Clinton advocated the use of "smart power", combining "hard" military and economic with "soft" cultural and diplomatic tools. That may sound eminently reasonable, but let's note how the Bill Clinton-era diplomat Suzanne Nossel concluded the essay in which she popularised the term in 2004: "Now is the time . . . to reassert an aggressive brand of liberal internationalism . . . and fortify it through the determined, smart use of power."

Such talk of aggression is dangerously misplaced. The chaotic, uncertain world of today requires something starkly different. It is time, instead, for a new realpolitik.

In one sense, realpolitik never went away. Its cardinal principle of non-interference - that no state has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another - is one to which over half of humankind is theoretically signed up, through the 118 countries that belong to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The developing-world titans who founded it in 1961 - Nasser, Nkrumah, Nehru, Tito and Sukarno - are long gone, and we in Britain may hear little of the NAM. But it goes far from unnoticed in the United States, not least because Cuba (under Raú Castro) holds the presidency of the organisation and Hugo Chávez emerged as the star of its last summit in 2006. It regularly votes as a bloc at the UN General Assembly, as do other caucuses of developing countries such as the Group of 77. In an interview late last year, Noam Chomsky dismissed suggestions that the NAM was a relic of the Cold War. "I think that it is a sign of the future," he said.

The more recently formed Shanghai Co-operation Organisation is another body of which we hear little. But perhaps we should pay more attention. Made up of Russia, China and four former Soviet central Asian republics, the SCO clearly states non-interference as a core principle in its charter - as does Asean, the ten-country Association of South-East Asian Nations, whose combined population is close to 600 million.

Admittedly, realpolitik has sometimes been used to symbolise the very opposite. In association with Kissinger, for instance, it has come to stand for all the excesses of US foreign policy during the period he served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

This is to cast the doctrine purely (and thus falsely) in terms of the cold pursuit of national interest (often masquerading under the cover of "spreading freedom") that led some to charge Kissinger with war crimes. It obscures the great successes of his realpolitik: détente with the Soviet Union, the opening of relations with China, and the shuttle diplomacy that ended the Yom Kippur War and ultimately laid the foundations for Jimmy Carter to host the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel.

It is this pragmatic aspect of Kissinger's foreign policy that should inform a new realpolitik. Yes, the human rights records of many of these states was lamentable and scruples were understandable. Yet the outcome was increased peace and stability. Was that not a greater prize than a salved conscience?

"What the realist fears is the consequences of idealism." The words belong to Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under the first President Bush and a disciple of Kissinger. Their conservative provenance should not stop us from recognising that if only they had been engraved in brass and placed on the desk of every foreign minister in the west we might have been spared much dangerous posturing over the past decade.

It was foolish idealism that led to Nato's eastward expansion into the new democracies of the old Soviet bloc. (One assumes so, since no Nato partner rests more easily in his bed knowing that the might of Latvia and Lithuania is now at his disposal.) The realist would have pointed out that this humiliation of Russia, in the process encircling its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, was perhaps not the best way to build friendlier relations with the possessor of the world's largest natural gas reserves. Nor that announcing plans to instal interceptor missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic would be taken in particularly good part.

Russia's reactions, both in Georgia and to the missile bases, should have been expected. Dmitry Medvedev will not be the last occupier of the Kremlin to defend his country's "privileged interests" in neighbouring states: the demise of the USSR did not excise centuries of Russian domination from the history books, nor from that nation's sense of self.

Idealism of a different hue bedevils the west's relations with China. Today, Hollywood film stars in thrall to a media-savvy old monk have encouraged many to regard the patient diplomacy that led to Richard Nixon's breakthrough as pusillanimous gradualism; public pressure and face-shaming demonstrations are seen as the way to persuade Beijing to act over Tibet. (Not having the benefit of such good-looking advocates, other regions with equally worthy claims to greater autonomy are apparently of little concern.) Barack Obama's voice was raised in the idealistic campaign to boycott the Beijing Olympics last year. Reality has since bitten, and he must hope the Chinese are willing to overlook his part in that shouty chorus, now he needs them to bail out the US economy.

Go to Riyadh, Singapore or St Petersburg, and you will find populations deeply convinced of differing value systems. Idealistic liberal internationalists, however, see superficial similarities . a Norman Foster building in Shanghai, a McDonald.s in Cairo . and assume that sharing consumer culture leads to a common political culture. We are entitled to hope that that will happen, though we would be wise to follow Scowcroft.s advice about how to help the process: .You encourage democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional way. Not how the neocons do it.. We have no reason, however, to shade our hope into certainty.

We should also acknowledge that in the past 30 years Wahhabist Islam has been far more successful at exporting itself, at the expense of pre-existing, liberal political cultures in Muslim countries, and often through the precise means Scowcroft suggests: funding hospitals, schools and the like.

If anything, our era is marked by the reassertion of older, less globally unifying impulses. "We cannot rule out a 19th-century-like scenario of arms races, territorial expansion and military rivalries," concludes the NIC report, which also suggests that several African countries may become completely ungovernable.

Such forecasts bode ill for the inevitable progress of liberal universalism. Yet so does the unacknowledged reality of the present. You do not have to share Chomsky's optimism about the Non-Aligned Movement as an organisation, for instance, to appreciate the long-term significance of its support for Iranian nuclear enrichment. "The fact of the matter is that the majority of the world supports Iran," he pointed out. "But they are not part of the world, from the US point of view." It is a view that can be sustained as long as the west has overwhelming superiority in wealth and weapons. What happens when it doesn't?

Sooner or later China, Russia and that "rest of the world" we ignore, except to luxuriate on its beaches or to shed a tear for its natural disasters, will demand that we meet them on their terms, and not just ours. This will be no surprise to Kissinger-era diplomats, who knew that history's arc was uncertain and quite possibly endless, and that there are many painful questions to which there are no satisfying answers, just a series of "least worst" options.

Realpolitik may not offer the comfort of doing the "right thing". However, until we can agree on what the "right thing" is, that is a moral discomfort we must learn to bear. If the alternative requires shackling, or bribing, or threatening our fellow man to concur, there is nothing "smart" about it.

3 comments from readers

Carl Jones
12 February 2009 at 21:29

Sholto, nice article and you must be pleased with it. :)

"The realist would have pointed out that this humiliation of Russia, in the process encircling its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, was perhaps not the best way to build friendlier relations with the possessor of the world's largest natural gas reserves. Nor that announcing plans to instal interceptor missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic would be taken in particularly good part".

Of course this was a mistake, but this was NWO hard power to remove Putin and establish an elite (NWO) corporatist government, similar to what we have in Britain and the US. London has been the focal point of a hidden war faught between the UK and Russia. Putin thwarted the "Mikhail Khodorkovsky" element of the coup and then we had the "Boris Berezovsky/MI6 murder of Alexander Litvinenko". This NWO war seems to have moved onto the back burner. However, I think the reason for this, was the FOOLISH NWO backed Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, which was backed on the ground by US and Isreali forces and the Brits were also likely involved. Putin unexpectedly flew to the Beijing Olympics where he had a "casual chat" with Bush...afterwards, Bush was caught on Chinese tv trembling.LOL

The Kissinger-Snowcroft axis isn`t really a change. Isreal will remain the NWO dog in the Middle East.

What has been outlined in this article and what is happening with the designed financial crisis is almost a mirror like refection of the 1930`s. Rising challanging powers, percieved weakness (UK 1930`s) and a "New Greater Depression". So who knows what the NWO has lined up for us, but one thing is for sure, it must eclipse the sham war on terror and the present financial crisis...note, I didn`t say they would go away, or get better. Just another NWO layer of crap, to convince us and the rest of the world that they need to be led by a bunch of PSYCHOPATHS.

13 February 2009 at 05:56

In a just world, Kissinger would have been on the dock to answer war crime charges.

And there are many more who, like Kissinger, will never be punished for abusing power while they were in office. Chile's Pinochet was an exception and, for that, we owe thanks to Judge Baltasar Garzon of Spain.

No surprise that the Obama administration is giving berths -- cushy ones at that -- to people whose past records are far from exemplary. As the song goes "You ain't seen nothing yet".

Talking about cushy berths, Tony Blair,too, landed on one. Middle East envoy! Gag me with a spoon.

max caulfield
15 February 2009 at 03:57

Behind that idealistic liberal internationalism is a paranoid mind at work. Post-cold war when U.S power assumed unipolarity, those mindful of history would logically turn to averting the inevitable decline of empire, or at least preempting the next challenges and threats undermining that unipolarity.

Only the difference is, unlike during cold war when for example a Warsaw Pact division deployment was only so much arithmetic, something they could wrap their quantitative minds around, they are dealing here with vast fluid uncertainties. In the absence of credible opposition they would need "seen" enemy to be effective, for the empire to be appear a going concern.

In this regard the neocons place their bets on the nuts and bolts of empire, they are concerned---rightly too considering the neglected Pentagon under Bill Clinton---with their fighting capabilities, and not just the sexiness of remote control technology or the Hollywoodesque phallus of a cruise missile.

Now the Clintonites staffing the new administration make up largely of lawyers in terms of their world view and they are no less agressive. Their user friendly linguistics serve to mask the fact that the international law-based framework they put in place are heavily loaded in their favours and would guarantee the perpetuality of their admittedly hard fought inheritance.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sri Lanka .. routinely to bomb its own citizens

"Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens."

Not quite true... many governments do that, notably the USA (WTC 1993, 9/11).

The USA/CIA supports the Sri Lanka government with intelligence, reconnaissance
and weapons .. to commit genocide against tamils.
USA CIA black operations!
Dear Ajith,

Lasantha seems to have been on Mahinda Rajapkasa’s hit list from 2006. Here is an excerpt:

Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge received a phone call on his mobile at 11:13 am on January 11, 2006. The man who ultimately came on-line at the other end was the elected Executive President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: His Excellency Don Mahendra Percy Rajapakse.
Rajapakse had a lot to say, and he chose his epithets carefully from the choicest available in the Sinhala lexicon. Here is a reminder of some of the things the President said:
“F**k your mother, you son of a bloody wh**e!”
“I will finish you!”
“I treated you well all this while. Now I will destroy you. You don’t know who Mahinda Rajapakse is. You watch what I will do to you!”
Not quite, perhaps, what his alma mater, Thurstan College, expected of its alumni

The full article can be found at:

Neomal Perera
Barrister & Solicitor (NZ)

Nims said
January 9, 2009 at 3:15 am

i agree with Ishara…The government is hiding behind the cloak of Killinochhi victory while killing our most valued journalists…the ONLY voice of the people…


Ajith Bandara said
January 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Lasantha Wickramatunga, the Chief Editor of the English weekly, the Sunday Leader, and one of the most senior and prominent journalists was fatally injured this morning, January 8, 2009, by two gunmen who followed him on his way to work. He noticed the two men following him on a motorbike and through his mobile telephone informed several of his friends. His death was reported this afternoon of head injuries despite of strenuous efforts by a medical team to save him. Mr. Wickramatunga was a primary target of the Rajapakse regime and particularly the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Gottabaya Rajapakse. An unsuccessful attempt was made to arrest Mr. Wickramatunga which was prevented by some senior police officers who refused to arrest him and also due to strong intervention on the part of journalists who gathered at his premises. Thereafter the printing press of the Sunday Leader, which was situated close to a security zone was attacked and burned by a group of unidentified persons who were never arrested. It is widely believed that the group was sent by the ruling party and was probably from some section of the armed forces.

Just two days earlier about 20 unidentified attackers raided the premises of Sirasa TV and caused damage amounting to Rs. 200 million to the communications equipment. The group assaulted the staff and left a Claymore mine said to weight eight and half kilograms. Sirasa TV is the most important centre for the independent media in Sri Lanka. The opposition leader said that the government is responsible for the attack and that members of a military unit carried it out.

In protest against these attacks the opposition United National Party walked out of parliament this afternoon. The earlier attack on Sirisa TV provoked protests from journalists and the opposition and also from foreign embassies including the United States. Following the attack the AHRC issued a statement entitled, SRI LANKA: The attack on Sirasa TV an early warning of worse things to come, which predicted:

The massive attack on the Sirasa TV station brings gloomy predictions of things to come in the very near future to a country which is already bedeviled by lawlessness, violence and corruption………. However, there is no rational basis to expect things to become any better but, in fact, reason to believe that worse things are yet to come. If there was to be political assassinations of opposition leaders, trade union leaders, journalists, human rights activists and others who stand for democracy, rule of law and human rights it would be the natural course of things arising out of a buildup which has already taken place.

In less than 48 hours this prediction has been unfortunately proved true. Both the attack on the senior editor Lasantha Wickramatunga and Sirasa TV appears to be part of a scheme to physically exterminate a number of persons that seem to have been listed as undesirables by this regime. In all likelihood many other unidentified gunmen must be lying in wait for opposition members of parliament, for independent journalists, for lawyers appearing against the government or against prominent leaders of government in courts and for judges making unfavourable decisions against the government. The Rajapakse regime is pursuing a murderous course which is likely to claim many more lives.

The political aim of such attacks is the establishment of a dictatorship with the help of some sections of the military. Military spokesmen now frequently speak in the state media and directly or indirectly attack the opposition, blaming that the criticism against the government creates divisions in the country at a time when unity is required to defeat terrorism. Many spokesmen for the opposition parties have blamed the government for using the ‘war’ against the LTTE as a propaganda ploy to suppress and eliminate the opposition.

Globally Sri Lanka has been declared as the second most dangerous place for journalists, the first being Iraq. Now it can be said without exaggeration that it is also the most dangerous place for anyone that the government suspects to be an opponent.

The Asian Human Rights Commission once again raises the alarm, locally and internationally, about the situation of tremendous repression that is being unleashed in Sri Lanka, particularly in the capital which may claim many lives and attack liberties. It is time to express active solidarity for all persons, opposition political parties, trade unions, journalists and all others who will now have to brave these terrible attacks. The army victories in Kilinochchi seem to be leading to a celebration of the shedding of the blood of the government’s opponents. If the local and the international community ignore this situation it may once more have to regret yet another situation of carnage.


shazamusa said
January 12, 2009 at 7:31 am

Hellow Everyone,
This is sad that we all talk from out of Sri Lanka, Educated people are out of sri lanka becouse thay know till this un-educated, money eating ministers and THE Rajapaksha family there that they cannont do anything????? basil and gotabe was working in petrol shed in USA and one is US CITIZEN and other is GREEN CARD HOLDER??? HOW CAN THAY RUN OUR COUNTRY THEY GAVE UP SRI LANKAN CITIZEN SHIP FOR US. AND BASIL DID NOT HAVE ANY MONEY WHILE HE WAS WORKING IN US, NOW HE JUST PURCHESED A HOUSE FOR 2MILLION DOLLARS. WHER DID HE GET THE MONEY??????? ONCE A TRADER IS ALLWAYS A TRADER, HE WILL STEEL ALL OUR MONEY AND LEAVE TO USA. W


Lasantha’s funeral: A defiant statement of solidarity.

Transparency International Sri Lanka joined the almost 10,000 people who marched alongside the cortege of slain journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga as it travelled from the Assembly of God Church in Narahenpita to the Borella Cemetery yesterday. The crowd who gathered to pay their last respects to Wickramatunga chanted slogans placing the responsibility of the assassination on the Government and the President.

Wickramatunga, the Editor of the Sunday Leader was a fearless journalist who bravely fought corruption till the very end. He was gunned down last Thursday by armed men on motorbikes as he travelled to work.

His work was supported by the many thousands of public service whistleblowers who believed that he was the man to go to if they wanted to expose corruption. They told him of their experiences with corruption and fraud in their offices. Through relentless and uncompromising investigations Wickramatunga was able to bring to light many incidents of corruption and fraud in the Government, even when his life was under threat.

It was for this courage and persistence that Wickramatunga was honored in 2000 by Transparency International when he was awarded the very first Integrity Award. The award honored courageous individuals from around the world who battled corruption. Many chapters of Transparency International have condemned the assassination of Lasantha Wickramatunga and have expressed their solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka in this dark hour.

The assassination of Lasantha Wickramatunga is an attack on the freedom of expression, a challenge to the people’s right to information and a lethal blow to democracy. Yesterday’s demonstration of massive public support should surely compel all those in positions of power to take immediate steps to put an end to the brutal suppression of the media, and establish a country where democracy is practiced, not just preached, and all citizens are informed, secure and free to speak their mind.



Sri Lanka Marxist party says CIA planning to establish troops in the East

Sri Lanka's Marxist party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) today alleged that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the U.S. is planning to station its troops in the Trincomalee harbour region… MP Dissanayake charged that the U.S. is planning to install missiles in or around Trincomalee under its 'Brahmaputhra Plan'. According to the MP the agreements have been signed for this process. Responding to JVP MP’s allegations, Foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama said the U.S. team including the Major General was in the island to lay the foundation stone for two new schools in Trincomalee. According to an announcement by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Pacific Command, is rehabilitating five schools in Trincomalee District and one hospital and two schools in Batticaloa District……(Colombo Page, 20 Jan 09)


Geiger Counter? Radioactivity bomb?

LAHORE - Lawyers have drawn parallels between the Marriott-attack and 9/11 blaming America for executing both of them.Chairman Save Judiciary Committee (SJC) Abdul Rashid Qureshi and secretary Mian Jamil Akhtar through a statement on Monday ruled out suicide bomb at Marriot and maintained that it was an attack which was operated automatically. Expressing their sympathies with the victim families, they said the eyewitnesses and the circumstances do not lead to believe that it was a suicide attack but the one operated automatically in which America is directly involved...

Assoc Press .. report truth? US military will RUIN (kill) YOU!!!

Tom Curley, president and chief executive of The Associated Press, speaks during the William Allen White Day program at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, Feb. 6, 2009. Curley came to the University of Kansas to receive this year's national citation for journalistic excellence from the William Allen White Foundation. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

AP CEO: Military emphasizes spin, new rules needed

1 day ago

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley says the Bush administration turned the U.S. military into a global propaganda machine.

In a speech to journalists at the University of Kansas on Friday, Curley said news organizations must demand that the Pentagon negotiate new rules for covering conflicts.

He said both civilian officials and military leaders have cracked down on independent reporting from the battlefield, with the goal of suppressing news that's unflattering. Curley said top commanders warned him that if AP stuck by its journalistic principles, "The AP and I would be ruined."
Curley came to the university to receive a national citation for journalistic excellence.

His remarks came a day after an AP investigation disclosed that the Pentagon is spending at least $4.7 billion this year on "influence operations" and has more than 27,000 employees devoted to such activities.

In other words.. the respectable AP -- whose writings are reprinted WITHOUT DOUBLE CHECKING -- cannot report because the US military threatened to kill them?

The CEO is intimidated (scared to death?) to not say "who said AP could be "ruined" for sticking to its principles"..

"But does America need to resort to al-Qaida tactics?" Curley said. "Should the U.S. government be running Web sites that appear to be independent news organizations?" Should the military be planting stories in foreign newspapers? Should the United States be trying to influence public opinion through subterfuge, both here and abroad?"

Answering questions from his audience of about 160 people, Curley said AP remains concerned about journalists' detentions. He said most appear to occur when someone else, often a competitor, "trashes" the journalist.

"There is a procedure that takes place which sounds an awful lot like torture to us," Curley said. "If people agree to trash other people, they are freed. If they don't immediately agree to trash other people, they are kept for some period of time _ two or three weeks _ and they are put through additional questioning."

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Bush administration turned the U.S. military into a global propaganda machine while imposing tough restrictions on journalists seeking to give the public truthful reports about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley said Friday.

Curley, speaking to journalists at the University of Kansas, said the news industry must immediately negotiate a new set of rules for covering war because "we are the only force out there to keep the government in check and to hold it accountable."

Much like in Vietnam, "civilian policymakers and soldiers alike have cracked down on independent reporting from the battlefield" when the news has been unflattering, Curley said. "Top commanders have told me that if I stood and the AP stood by its journalistic principles, the AP and I would be ruined."

Curley said in a brief interview that he didn't take the commanders' words as a threat but as "an expression of anger." Late in 2007, Curley wrote an editorial about the detention of AP photographer Bilal Hussein, held by the military for more than two years.

Eleven of AP's journalists have been detained in Iraq for more than 24 hours since 2003. Last year, according to cases AP is tracking, news organizations had eight employees detained for more than 48 hours.

AP, the world's largest newsgathering operation, is a not-for-profit cooperative that began in 1846 to communicate news from the Mexican War. Curley has been the company's president and CEO since 2003.

Before his speech, Curley met for about a half-hour with Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, a former spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq. Caldwell is commander at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where military doctrines are drafted and a staff college trains both American and foreign officers.

"It's important for us to be very transparent," Caldwell said during an interview after Curley's speech. "If we do those things, ultimately, we're both trying to do the same thing."

Curley came to the University of Kansas to receive this year's national citation for journalistic excellence from the William Allen White Foundation. Curley also won national awards in 2007 and 2008 for his work on First Amendment and open records issues.

Answering questions from his audience of about 160 people, Curley said AP remains concerned about journalists' detentions. He said most appear to occur when someone else, often a competitor, "trashes" the journalist.

"There is a procedure that takes place which sounds an awful lot like torture to us," Curley said. "If people agree to trash other people, they are freed. If they don't immediately agree to trash other people, they are kept for some period of time _ two or three weeks _ and they are put through additional questioning."

His remarks came a day after an AP investigation disclosed that the Pentagon is spending at least $4.7 billion this year on "influence operations" and has more than 27,000 employees devoted to such activities. At the same time, Curley said, the military has grown more aggressive in withholding information and hindering reporters.

Curley said a military program to embed reporters with battlefield units in Iraq was successful in 2003, the war's first year. But afterward, the military expanded its rules from one to four pages, and Curley said they're now so vague, a journalist can be expelled on a whim if a commander doesn't like what's being reported.

"Americans understand hardships and setbacks," he said. "They expect honest answers about what's happening to their sons and daughters."

Caldwell now requires officers who attend Fort Leavenworth's staff college to blog and "engage" the media. "Not only when it's good stuff, but when it's challenging," Caldwell said.

Curley acknowledged that upon taking office, President Barack Obama rolled back many of the policies instituted by George W. Bush. But he said when the Pentagon faces difficulties again _ perhaps in Afghanistan, with the new administration's focus on it _ experience has shown, "the military gets tough on the journalists."

"So now is the time to re-negotiate the rules of engagement between the military and the media," he said. "Now is the time to insist that the First Amendment does apply to the battlefield."

He added: "Now is the time to resist the propaganda the Pentagon produces and live up to our obligation to question authority and thereby help protect our democracy."

Curley said examining the Defense Department's spending on its public relations efforts and psychological operations is difficult because many of the budgets are classified.

He said the Pentagon has kept secret some information that used to be available to the public, and its public affairs officers at the Pentagon gather intelligence on reporters' work rather than serve as sources.,0.jpg

Curley traced the propaganda efforts to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. He cited a 2003 operations "road map" signed by Rumsfeld, declaring that psychological operations had been neglected for too long. Curley also noted that the current secretary, Robert Gates, has defended such efforts, including in a speech at Kansas State University in 2007.

"But does America need to resort to al-Qaida tactics?" Curley said. "Should the U.S. government be running Web sites that appear to be independent news organizations?" Should the military be planting stories in foreign newspapers? Should the United States be trying to influence public opinion through subterfuge, both here and abroad?"

He also said the Bush administration had stripped hundreds of people, including reporters, of their human rights. He noted that when an Iraqi judicial panel reviewed the evidence gathered by the military against Hussein, the AP photographer, it ordered his release. He declined in an interview to say who said AP could be "ruined" for sticking to its principles, but "I knew that they were angry."

"This is how you improve the standing of America around the world, by taking the universal human rights we enjoy as Americans and ensuring them for everyone," Curley said in his speech.

Both the award Curley received at the University of Kansas and its journalism school are named for White, who was publisher of the Emporia Gazette until 1944. A Pulitzer Prize winning editorial writer, White's commentary and friendships with prominent Americans made him a national figure.

"There's no doubt that White would have been angered by the last eight years," Curley said. "The right to access information and the ability to know the source of that information were diminished."


Associated Press writer John Milburn also contributed to this report.


On the Net:

The Associated Press:

U.S. Defense Department:

William Allen White Foundation:

AP Impact: Pentagon boosts spending on PR

As it fights two wars, the Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls "the human terrain" of world public opinion. In the process, it is raising concerns of spreading propaganda at home in violation of federal law.

An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006.

This year, the Pentagon will employ 27,000 people just for recruitment, advertising and public relations — almost as many as the total 30,000-person work force in the State Department.

"We have such a massive apparatus selling the military to us, it has become hard to ask questions about whether this is too much money or if it's bloated," says Sheldon Rampton, research director for the Committee on Media and Democracy, which tracks the military's media operations. "As the war has become less popular, they have felt they need to respond to that more."

Yet the money spent on media and outreach still comes to only 1 percent of the Pentagon budget, and the military argues it is well-spent on recruitment and the education of foreign and American audiences. Military leaders say that at a time when extremist groups run Web sites and distribute video, information is as important a weapon as tanks and guns.

"We have got to be involved in getting our case out there, telling our side of the story, because believe me, al-Qaida and all of those folks ... that's what they are doing on the Internet and everywhere else," says Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee. "Every time a bomb goes off, they have a story out almost before it explodes, saying that it killed 15 innocent civilians."


On an abandoned Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas, editors for the Joint Hometown News Service point proudly to a dozen clippings on a table as examples of success in getting stories into newspapers.

What readers are not told: Each of these glowing stories was written by Pentagon staff. Under the free service, stories go out with authors' names but not their titles, and do not mention Hometown News anywhere. In 2009, Hometown News plans to put out 5,400 press releases, 3,000 television releases and 1,600 radio interviews, among other work — 50 percent more than in 2007.

The service is just a tiny piece of the Pentagon's rapidly expanding media empire, which is now bigger in size, money and power than many media companies.

In a yearlong investigation, The Associated Press interviewed more than 100 people and scoured more than 100,000 pages of documents in several budgets to tally the money spent to inform, educate and influence the public in the U.S. and abroad. The AP included contracts found through the private FedSources database and requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. Actual spending figures are higher because of money in classified budgets.

The biggest chunk of funds — about $1.6 billion — goes into recruitment and advertising. Another $547 million goes into public affairs, which reaches American audiences. And about $489 million more goes into what is known as psychological operations, which targets foreign audiences.

Staffing across all these areas costs about $2.1 billion, as calculated by the number of full-time employees and the military's average cost per service member. That's double the staffing costs for 2003.

Recruitment and advertising are the only two areas where Congress has authorized the military to influence the American public. Far more controversial is public affairs, because of the prohibition on propaganda to the American public.

"It's not up to the Pentagon to sell policy to the American people," says Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., who sponsored legislation in Congress last year reinforcing the ban.

Spending on public affairs has more than doubled since 2003. Robert Hastings, acting director of Pentagon public affairs, says the growth reflects changes in the information market, along with the fact that the U.S. is now fighting two wars.

"The role of public affairs is to provide you the information so that you can make an informed decision yourself," Hastings says. "There is no place for spin at the Department of Defense."

But on Dec. 12, the Pentagon's inspector general released an audit finding that the public affairs office may have crossed the line into propaganda. The audit found the Department of Defense "may appear to merge inappropriately" its public affairs with operations that try to influence audiences abroad. It also found that while only 89 positions were authorized for public affairs, 126 government employees and 31 contractors worked there.

In a written response, Hastings concurred and, without acknowledging wrongdoing, ordered a reorganization of the department by early 2009.

Another audit, also in December, concluded that a public affairs program called "America Supports You" was conducted "in a questionable and unregulated manner" with funds meant for the military's Stars and Stripes newspaper.

The program was set up to keep U.S. troops informed about volunteer donations to the military. But the military awarded $11.8 million in contracts to a public relations firm to raise donations for the troops and then advertise those donations to the public. So the program became a way to drum up support for the military at a time when public opinion was turning against the Iraq war.

The audit also found that the offer to place corporate logos on the Pentagon Web site in return for donations was against regulations. A military spokesman said the program has been completely overhauled to meet Pentagon regulations.

"They very explicitly identify American public opinion as an important battlefield," says Marc Lynch, a professor at George Washington University. "In today's information environment, even if they were well-intentioned and didn't want to influence American public opinion, they couldn't help it."

In 2003, for example, initial accounts from the military about the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch from Iraqi forces were faked to rally public support. And in 2005, a Marine Corps spokesman during the siege of the Iraqi city of Fallujah told the U.S. news media that U.S. troops were attacking. In fact, the information was a ruse by U.S. commanders to fool insurgents into revealing their positions.


The fastest-growing part of the military media is "psychological operations," where spending has doubled since 2003.

Psychological operations aim at foreign audiences, and spin is welcome. The only caveats are that messages must be truthful and must never try to influence an American audience.

In Afghanistan, for example, a video of a soldier joining the national army shown on Afghan television is not attributed to the U.S. And in Iraq, American teams built and equipped media outlets and trained Iraqis to staff them without making public the connection to the military.

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of strategic communications for the U.S. Central Command, says psychological operations must be secret to be effective. He says that in the 21st century, it is probably not possible to win the information battle with insurgents without exposing American citizens to secret U.S. propaganda.

"We have to be pragmatic and realistic about the game that we play in terms of information, and that game is very complex," he says.

The danger of psychological operations reaching a U.S. audience became clear when an American TV anchor asked Gen. David Petraeus about the mood in Iraq. The general held up a glossy photo of the Iraqi national soccer team to show the country united in victory.

Behind the camera, his staff was cringing. It was U.S. psychological operations that had quietly distributed tens of thousands of the soccer posters in July 2007 to encourage Iraqi nationalism.

With a new administration in power, it is not clear what changes may be made. Obama administration officials have said they intend to go through the Department of Defense budget closely to trim bloated spending.
Pat Tillman Army Cover-up 2004

The emphasis on influence operations started with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In 2002, Rumsfeld established an Office of Strategic Influence that brought together public affairs and psychological operations. Critics accused him of setting up a propaganda arm, and Congress demanded that the office be shut down.

Rumsfeld has declined to speak to the press since leaving office, but while defense secretary he spoke bluntly about his desire to revamp the Pentagon's media operations.

"I went down that next day and said, 'Fine, if you want to savage this thing, fine, I'll give you the corpse,'" Rumsfeld said on Nov. 18, 2002, according to Defense Department transcripts of a speech he delivered. "'There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.'"

In 2003, Rumsfeld issued a secret Information Operations Roadmap setting out a plan for public affairs and psychological operations to work together. It noted that with a global media, the military should expect and accept that psychological operations will reach the U.S. public.

"I can tell you there wouldn't be a single American disappointed with anything that we've done that might be out there, that they don't know about," says Col. Curtis Boyd, commander of the 4th PSYOP Group, the largest unit of its kind. "Frankly, they probably wouldn't care because maybe they are safer as a result of it."
above the law? The Hague?
In January 2008, a new report by the Defense Science Board recommended resurrecting the Office of Strategic Influence as the Office of Strategic Communications. But Congress refused to fund the program.

In February, the Army released a new eight-chapter field manual that puts information warfare on par with traditional warfare.

The title of an entire chapter, Chapter 7: "Information Superiority."


Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Hometown News Service:


Although the William Allen White Foundation had been recognizing individuals for outstanding journalistic service since 1950, the first William Allen White medallions were not awarded until 1970. Before then, winners of the Award for Outstanding Journalistic Merit received certificates.

In 1969, however, the Foundation, under acting director Lee F. Young and Foundation president Dolph Simons, Jr., commissioned University of Kansas professor of design Elden C. Tefft to design a medallion worthy of representing the prestigious award. The result was a medallion design that carries a portrait of White on the front and this inscription on the back:

An American Journalist Who Exemplifies
William Allen White Ideals In Service
To His Profession And His Community

The name of the individual medal winner is inscribed directly above this standing inscription.

Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Conn., was contracted to manufacture the medallions and to deliver them by Feb. 10, White's birthday, 1970.

The bronze medallion is two-and-one-half inches, and is mounted in a black morocco/blue-lined easel case. A medallion has been presented to all surviving Journalistic Merit winners, including those cited before the creation of the medallion.

— Taken from The William Allen White Foundation, May 1980

William Allen White Recipients

2008 - Seymour Hersh
2007 - Richard Clarkson
2006 - Gordon Parks
2005 - Gerald F. Seib
2004 - Marlin Fitzwater
2003 - Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.

2002 - Cokie Roberts
2001 - Molly Ivins
2000 - Bob Woodward
1999 - Albert Hunt
1998 - Bill Kurtis
1997 - David Broder

1996 - Hedrick Smith
1995 - Ellen Goodman
1994 - Bernard Shaw
1993 - George F. Will
1992 - Louis Boccardi
1991 - Charlayne Hunter-Gault

1990 - James Batten
1989 - Charles Kuralt
1988 - Paul Greenberg