This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Friday, December 5, 2014



The US may understand the consequences of imperial overreach sooner than anyone thought possible. Russia’s decision to drop the South Stream natural gas pipeline in favor of a deal with key NATO member Turkey may be the first of a series of events that could challenge and ultimately destroy the Anglo-American empire.  Turkey’s bold decision risks its standing with its western allies by undercutting the EU’s efforts to bully Russia, but promises enormous benefit to Turkey’s economic influence in Europe.

While President Erdogan hasn’t shown his full hand, it may play out such that the West’s quixotic quest to control the Mideast could end sooner than seemed possible. EU and US insults to Turkey have driven it into Russian arms. The anti-Putin coalition seems to have burned both bridges between Eastern fossil fuel sources and Western markets. Energy costs to citizens of EU nations will skyrocket. If they protest vigorously enough, their puppet governments may finally decide that their cozy relationships with the Anglo-American alliance are not worth the cost.

Turkey has been rebuffed repeatedly in its efforts to join the EU. That is an insult to a proud nation, a member of NATO with a stronger economy than many of the former Soviet satellites. These weaker nations joined this coalition of Western belligerents after the fall of the USSR, violating 1994 agreements by NATO not to expand toward Russian borders.  Unlike Turkey, many of them were also enticed to join the EU. None of these newer states have benefited much from inclusion in Europe’s economy. They are suffering from the same austerity measures as the rest of the EU. Like Ukraine, corruption has remained as endemic in many countries under its governance as it was under the old Soviet system.

A number of these Eastern European nations would have benefited from South Stream, getting access to cheap gas and profiting from transit fees.  Politicians in Bulgaria, which in 2013 witnessed some of the largest demonstrations in Europe since the crash, initially lobbied for the pipeline but ultimately sided with the EU against their own national interests. Now Bulgarians will pay the price along with the rest of the EU for its outrageous demand that Russia surrender ownership of the pipeline. This was a condition of the Third Energy Package, which Russia never ratified.  It was designed to punish Russia for refusing to privatize its fossil fuel industry during the looting of Russia that followed the Yeltsin coup. Some speculate that Bulgaria or Greece might make separate deals with Russia for gas via subsidiary pipelines, the price for which may be other economic and even military alliances.

According to some analysts, the last straw for Turkey was US arming of the Kurdish fighters in Syria, which Turkey considers allied with the PKK, Kurdish separatists who are listed by both Turkey and the US as a terrorist group. The US states that the change in policy was for the humanitarian purpose of protecting the residents of the Syrian border town of Kobani from ISIS siege. However, US bombing did little to effectively degrade ISIS forces before the mercenary army invaded Kobani and melted into the city. Now, air strikes that might hit the terrorist infiltrators would be as likely to kill remaining civilians.

Arming of the PYD (the Syrian Kurdish defense forces) led to the natural suspicion that Turkey was being pressured to invade Syria in self-defense. The US had been demanding that Turkey supply the ground troops to fight ISIS, which sprang from the NATO/GCC/Israeli attempt to use terrorists to topple Assad. Erdogan’s government has been deeply involved in providing routes for terrorists and weapons to enter Syria since the outbreak of the “civil war,” along with limited military assistance. He has insisted on a plan prioritizing the defeat of the Assad government rather than ISIS, over which Western intelligence agencies seem to still exercise some control. All of these conflicts have followed US finger pointing at Turkey’s complicity in the creation of ISIS, while ignoring its own role.

US foreign policy is driven by the ambitions of the psychopaths on Wall Street who virtually run the government. They are guided by the knowledge of the inevitable failure of the dollar. This is the reason that the US has been waging all-out war for global corporate domination. The manic military policies of the last two administrations are a last ditch effort to control fossil fuel supplies and transit routes not just for profit, but to continue to prop up the Petrodollar. It may be too late. Russia and China are taking the lead in weaning themselves from dependence on the dollar not only to sell or buy fossil fuels but for other goods. The two nations signed an agreement in October to settle international debts in their own currencies. That trade is projected to more than double by 2020 to $200 billion.  Meanwhile, the BRICS bank may ultimately free other nations from dollar domination by providing an alternative to the IMF, whose loan conditions include removing currency controls designed to prevent Western speculators from destabilize their national currencies.

The key event to watch out for is the response of Angela Merkel. With the largest economy in Europe, Germany has the biggest voice in the EU and weaker states are sure to follow its lead. Merkel has been largely cooperating with the sanctions on Russia, while at the same time speaking out against more draconian measures for the most part. As with Obama, her bombastic claims about “Russian imperialism” in the Ukraine are for domestic consumption. The German industrialists whose interests she represents understand this, but have been concerned about the effects of the sanctions on the national and EU economies, which have been teetering toward yet another recession. The loss of cheap gas from Russia may be the one consequence of slavish adherence to US foreign policy objectives they will not tolerate.

If ordinary Germans join influential business leaders in Germany in calling for an end to allowing the US to dictate its foreign policies, the question of the wisdom of EU support for NATO might arise with the general public. If so, the revolt could spread elsewhere. Eventually, the contagion of rebellion could even reach US shores. A lot depends on how willing normally staid German society is willing to demand an end to its government’s complicity in yet another attempt at establishing what amounts to global fascism. They are already angry at revelations of US spying on their government officials and of CIA manipulation of their corporate media. Having already experienced the consequences of allowing their government to engage in imperialist wars, they may rise to stop it this time around. We can only hope that generations of post-war prosperity have not made them as docile as their American counterparts.

The question has become one of how much Europeans are willing to bear to sustain a global system that is nearing its end. The cost of the collapse of the financialized, debt-based world economy is leaving them and the entire developed world with declining living standards and mounting debt. Meanwhile, the rich get richer. It is only a matter of time before Europe wakes up to what the developing nations have always known: Capitalism is based on exploitation and its aim is to monopolize resources for the benefit of the few. All that remains to be seen is whether the People unite to take down this system before the only way to fight the police state Europe and the US are becoming is violence.

As this global game of Monopoly winds down to its conclusion, at some point the people of the world must rise up and change the rules of the game. The alternative is economic chaos and suffering on a scale never before witnessed, followed by the consignment of our children and all future generations to debt slavery.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today's blog is by one of today's most insightful commentators on both American and international politics, Tony Carlucci. As usual, he takes an observation that many people have noted and examines it a bit deeper, resulting in some important conclusions.

Despite starting out unifying people around concern about a growing police state, Ferguson became a source of division as people fell into their self-selected roles as defenders of "conservatism" and "liberalism." In the end, the massive protests just reflect the divisions that were already there, and protesters asking for justice from a system built on injustice are opposed by half of America.

Carlucci makes a strong argument for an alternative to protest against the system, one that has the potential to unify citizens. Instead of focusing on tearing down the existing system, he argues that we need to devote our energy to building a parallel system that will displace it.
This article appeared in nsnbc news.

Ferguson and the False Promise of Revolution

Tony Cartalucci (LD) When faced on the battlefield with a numerically superior enemy, one must attempt to divide his enemy into smaller, more easily dispatched opponents, or even more ideally, divide them against one another, and have them defeat each other without ever drawing your sword. For Wall Street's 0.1%, divide and conquer is a way of life.
Divide and Conquer  - Never in human history has there been a more effective way for tyrants to rule over large groups of people who, should they ever learn to cooperate, would easily throw off such tyranny.
Image: Zululand lies in flaming ruins, its legendary army decimated, but the British were not about to take any chances of allowing them to unite and resit again. They divided the defeated nation into 14 chiefdoms each headed by leaders harboring dislike for the others ensuring perpetual infighting and a divided, weakened Zululand never again to rise and challenge British subjugation.
Image: Zululand lies in flaming ruins, its legendary army decimated, but the British were not about to take any chances of allowing them to unite and resit again. They divided the defeated nation into 14 chiefdoms each headed by leaders harboring dislike for the others ensuring perpetual infighting and a divided, weakened Zululand never again to rise and challenge British subjugation.
At the conclusion of the Anglo-Zulu War, the British despoiled Zululand, divided it into 14 separate cheifdoms, each led by a proxy obedient to the British Empire. The British ensured that these 14 cheifdoms harbored animosities toward one another and fostered petty infighting between them to ensure British interests would never again be challenged by a unified Zulu threat. Before the British, the Romans would employ similar tactics across Germania and Gual.
In this way, the British Empire and the Romans managed to not only decimate their enemies, but by keeping them perpetually infighting, divided, and at war with one another, manged to keep them subservient to imperial rule for generations.
But one would be mistaken to believe that imperialism is only waged abroad. Imperialism is as much about manipulating, controlling, and perpetuating subservience at home as it is projecting hegemony abroad. For the imperialist, all of humanity represents a sea of potential usurpers. The systematic division, weakening, and subjugation of various social groups along political, religious, class, or racial lines has proven an ageless solution for the elite.
One remembers the infamous use of Christians as a scapegoat for the corruption of Roman Emperor Nero, deflecting public anger away from the ruling elite and unto others among the plebeians.
This is a game that has continued throughout the centuries and continues on to this very day. While racial, religious, and political divisions are aspects of human nature, they are viciously exploited by the ruling elite to divide and destroy any capacity of the general public to organize, resist, or compete with established sociopolitical and economic monopolies.
Ferguson_USA_SP_OC_Nov 2014_Burned HouseFerguson - Playing America Like a Fiddle - Before protests began breaking out in Ferguson, Missouri, and even after the first of the protests in August, many across America's polarized "left/right" paradigm began to find a common ground, shocked at the level of militarization the police had undergone and the heavy-handed response they exercised amid protests. Even among the generally pro-police and military "right," there was concern over what was finally recognized as a growing and quite menacing "police state" in America.
Politicians, the corporate media, and security agencies set off to work, dividing America's public down very predictable lines. Convenient "revelations" that the police were connected with the ultra-racist Ku Klux Klan, coupled with growing choruses across the right to circle the wagons in support of the militarized police attempted to place those who converged on this common ground back into their assigned places on the "right" and "left" of America's ultimately Wall Street-controlled political order.
Regardless of its success, attempts to intentionally provoke violence, confusion, and division on both sides is an attempt by the establishment to keep people divided and weak while maintaining their position of primacy over the country and the expansive "international order" it imposes globally. It was this establishment, in fact, that intentionally militarized the police, intentionally cultivates both institutional racism as well as sociopolitical and economic rot in America's inner cities, creating breeding grounds of violence and crime. So busy is America managing the predictable conflict amongst themselves, they have neither the time nor the energy to recognize their true tormentors.
In reality, the police and protesters and those across America and around the world "picking sides" have more in common with one another than the government and corporate-financier interests that reign in Washington and on Wall Street.
Get Off the Hamster Wheel  - One cannot accomplish anything by burning down one's own community, killing one another, or complaining and protesting endlessly. Real revolution is not taking to the streets and destroying a political order, it is creating a new order that displaces the old.
The American Revolution, for instance, occurred after the colonies established their own economic system, as well as their own militias, political networks, and infrastructure. The violence broke out only after the British tried to reassert themselves amid the steady process of being displaced. By the time shots were being fired, the real revolution had already occurred - the subsequent war was to defend its success.
Today, the establishment constitutes unchecked, unwarranted power and influence held by the corporate-financier elite - an establishment we are in fact paying into daily every time we patronize their businesses, use their services, associate with their institutions, and pay in attention and time to their propaganda and political agenda we ourselves should be setting and executing. Ironically many of both the police and protesters clashing in Ferguson on opposite sides of the "conflict" have homes full of Wall Street's goods, and subscriptions to many of their services.
Indeed, Walmart ends up filling our homes with most of the consumer products we depend on in America. A handful of agricultural giants feed us. A handful of pharmaceutical giants medicate us. A handful of energy monopolies light our homes and fuel our vehicles. You could fill a single sheet of paper with the names of corporate-financier interests that rule over nearly every aspect of our lives.
Such monopolies exist because they have extinguished competitors. Ensuring that competition remains extinguished means creating a society that is incapable of producing individuals or paradigms capable of challenging their established order. This includes sabotaging the education system, creating a socioeconomic system that encourages unsustainable dependence rather than self-sufficiency and independence, and rigging rules, regulations, and laws against any potential upstarts.
The notion of Ferguson protesters demanding justice from a system created of injustice, upon injustice, is as absurd as trying to squeeze apple juice from a lemon. It is the definition of fantastical futility.
Revolution_vegetables_violence_USAInstead of demanding justice, jobs, education, healthcare, food, and other necessities and desires from a system with no intention of ever empowering the people - a system that in order to continue perpetuating itself must by necessity never truly empower the people - we must begin working together locally to empower ourselves.
Power stems from infrastructure and institutions - and locally this can be accomplished in innumerable ways. Already farmers' markets, organic cooperatives, makerspaces, churches, community centers, community gardens, and charities along with innovative small businesses leveraging technology to do locally what once required global spanning industry to accomplish, all constitute the seeds of this shifting paradigm. For communities unlucky enough not to have one of these above institutions, or a lack of them, instead of baying for blood in the streets, burning building down, or clashing with police, build them.
The alternative media itself is proof of what power people have when they stop depending on others, stop demanding others to do their jobs properly, and instead take up the responsibility themselves. Expanding this paradigm shift to other aspects of our daily lives, from agriculture to energy, to education, will be key to true and enduring change.
Ferguson teaches us that real change in the mind of many is still far off. America isn't on the edge of revolution. A hamster wheel endlessly spinning has no "edge." Those picking sides and bickering over the events in Ferguson are playing into an elementary strategy of divide and conquer. We are divided, Wall Street has conquered.
At the end of it all, Wall Street comes out even stronger. Because in the smoking remnants of our communities after all is said and done, we have even less with which to build an alternative to the system we live trapped within. Divided, we have half the people we should be joining together with, collaborating and building together with, to build the world we want to live in tomorrow.
Build, don't burn. Collaborate, don't complain. Don't simply "resist" the system, replace it altogether.
Tony Cartalucci, Land Destroyer Report

Wednesday, November 12, 2014



Explaining Democratic midterm losses by pointing to President Obama’s performance confuses cause and effect.   While many voters are tired of Obama and voted Republican to register their protest, what really matters is that people are also disgusted with members of Congress from both parties. There is a historical tendency for voters to blame the President and his party and to vote accordingly, hoping that a change in party leadership will fix the problem. There was a time when politicians responded to the will of voters. In the post-Citizens United era, campaign contributions by special interests carry more weight than the wishes of the electorate. That is why voters support Democratic policies yet vote Republican.

America has divided along ideological lines, yet neither party is really guided by the basic principles they espouse. Republicans are arguably more honest, since they claim corporate profit is the source of America’s prosperity despite all evidence this has not led to economic benefit for workers.  Democrats acknowledge the economic disparities resulting from unchecked corporate power, but fail to challenge the chief source of their campaign contributions. Both parties kowtow to a Wall Street oligarchy focused on short-term profits. This rewards corporate executives who put immediate gain over the long-term interests of their companies and the national economy. Since CEOs have a responsibility to produce maximum profits, only regulations designed to protect the public interest can reverse the disastrous economic trends of recent years.

The root problem of corruption of campaign finance is obscured not only by partisan rhetoric but by a corporate-controlled media earning billions selling commercials marketing candidates like toothpaste. Given this incentive, broadcasters and newspapers largely owned by the same corporations are unlikely to highlight the problem. The result is voters who want to go with a winner choose between the well-funded candidates of the two major parties. Third party candidates are assumed to be incapable of winning. As long as this remains accepted wisdom, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

With an electorate evenly divided between red and blue, elections are decided by the small minority of truly independent voters. Their votes swing control of Congress back and forth between the major parties in a vain attempt to change the outcome without addressing the real problem.  Presidents beholden to powerful individuals cannot stop Congress from putting business interests over those of the rest of us.  Only when a Presidential agenda aligns with that of the interests of powerful corporations does it succeed. There is rarely gridlock when corporate interests collide with those of the People.

Faced with a choice between candidates whose important policy positions are getting more difficult to tell apart in congressional races funded by the same business interests, more voters walk away in each election. Those who remain tend to be the hard core partisans who feel they have no choice but to go along with their corporate candidates, lest the country fall into ruin even faster. Despite the obvious truth that it’s the corrupt system that is responsible for our dysfunctional Congress, they continue to assign blame solely to politicians of the other party. This tendency is reinforced by a corporate media that does not question the false framing of major issues by candidates to justify their corporate-friendly positions. Treating election coverage like horse racing leads to confusion among voters about who might be willing to put their interests over those who control the strings of puppet politicians in Washington.

The only solution is to be found in making willingness to deal with corruption the litmus test for voters in 2016. Move to Amend’s Pledge to Amend campaign is an essential step in that direction, calling on candidates to take a position on a constitutional amendment to declare that money is not speech and corporations are not people. Over the next two years, statewide coalitions such as Oregon Democracy CoalitionWAmend in Washington State and Money Out-Voters In (MOVI) in California will be organizing locally around the country to raise the prominence of the issue among the electorate with a goal of making support for a strong amendment the deciding factor in determining who they send to Congress. When we educate enough people about why they need to make this the most important issue to consider when casting their votes, we will elect a Congress that will pass the amendment. The time it will take to succeed will depend on how many are willing to get involved in the campaign. With global climate change setting an upper limit on how long we have to accomplish the goal, we have to start building those coalitions now. 
For more information, contact the author at or (541) 217-8044

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Today's blog was originally published in  Foreign Policy Journal.
Rethinking Conspiracy

The World Trade Center towers smoking on 9/11
Photo: Michael Foran/Flickr
The terms “conspiracy theorist” and “conspiracy nut” are used frequently to discredit a perceived adversary using emotional rather than logical appeals. It’s important for the sake of true argument that we define the term “conspiracy” and use it appropriately, not as an ad hominem attack on someone whose point of view we don’t share.
According to my Webster’s Unabridged Dictionarythe word “conspiracy” derives from the Latin “conspirare,” which means literally “to breathe together” in the sense of agreeing to commit a crime. The primary definition is “planning and acting together secretly, especially for a harmful or unlawful purpose, such as murder or treason.”
It was in this sense that Mark Twain astutely observed, “A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.”
Conspiracies are common. If they weren’t, police stations would not need conspiracy units to investigate and prosecute crimes such as “conspiracy to import cocaine” or any other collusion on the part of two or more people to subvert the law.
Unfortunately, too many people smugly chide “conspiracy theories” as if they imagine that such a derisive characterization reflects superior intellect—whether or not they know anything about the issue in question. It’s a pitiful display of ego inflation and intellectual dishonesty, yet it appears to be a common approach preferred by those either short on information and critical thinking skills or harboring a hidden agenda.
Here are a few examples of past “conspiracy theories” that have been commonly derided but were later determined to be credible:
1933 Business Plot:  Smedley Butler, a decorated United States Marine Corps major general, who wrote a book calledWar is a Racket, testified before a congressional committee that a group of powerful industrialists, who had tried to recruit him, were planning to form a fascist veterans’ group that intended to assassinate Franklin Roosevelt and overthrow the government in a coup. While news media at the time belittled Butler and called the affair a hoax, the congressional committee determined that Butler’s allegations were credible, although no-one was prosecuted.
Project Paperclip:  After “winning” World War II, the US imported hundreds of Nazis and their families through “Project Paperclip,” so-named because ID photos were clipped to paper dossiers. It was set up by an agency within the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA. Along with creating false identities and political biographies, Paperclip operatives expunged or altered Nazi records and other criminal histories in order to illegally circumvent President Truman’s edict that prohibited Nazis from obtaining security clearances. Thus, high-level Nazis waltzed into sensitive positions of authority and secrecy in the US military-industrial establishment, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), major corporations, and universities. These Germans were conveniently referred to as “former Nazis,” but “former” was commonly just a euphemism for “active” and “ardent.”
Consider the irony of the United States’ moon mission. In order to successfully land men on the lunar surface and return them to Earth, the US depended almost exclusively on Nazis. A notable example was rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, a member of the Allgemeine SS, who would eventually lead the US space program. Von Braun had exploited concentration camp labor in Germany to build V-2 rockets at Peenemünde, and German aviation doctors’ gruesome and often fatal experiments at Dachau and other prisons afforded information that would help keep American astronauts alive in space.
While many Americans would prefer to call it a conspiracy theory, the United States defeated the Nazi organization in Germany only to transplant that ideology directly into the US after the war, and not just among members of the lay population but, more significantly, among members of the very “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower (a five-star general during WWII) had presciently warned the nation about in his 1961 message of leave-taking and farewell.
Operation Northwoods:  Declassified documents revealed that in 1962 the CIA was planning to execute false flag terrorist attacks, such as killing random American citizens and blowing up civilian targets, including a US airliner and ship, in order to blame Castro and justify invading Cuba.
Gulf of Tonkin:  President Lyndon Johnson used a contrived version of this 1964 event to justify escalation of the Vietnam War. It was claimed that Vietnamese gunboats had fired on the USS Maddox. It never happened—or at best was grossly distorted and overblown—yet the story served to prompt Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which provided the public justification Johnson needed to attack North Vietnam. This led to the deaths of about two million Vietnamese people and fifty thousand Americans.
MK-ULTRA:  As its code name suggests, MK-ULTRA was a mind control program run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence for the ostensible purpose of discovering ways to glean information from Communist spies although its applications were undoubtedly more far-reaching. It employed various methodologies including sensory deprivation and isolation, sexual abuse, and the administration of powerful psychotropic drugs such as LSD to unwitting subjects, including military personnel, prisoners, and college students. Many of them suffered serious consequences. One biochemist, Frank Olson, who was secretly slipped a strong dose of LSD at a CIA meeting, suffered a severe psychotic break and died when, for whatever reason, he plummeted from his apartment window to the pavement below. Such revelations came to light in 1975 during hearings by the congressional Church Committee (Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities) and the presidential Rockefeller Commission. These investigations were hindered by CIA Director Richard Helms who in 1973 had ordered the MK-ULTRA files destroyed.
Operation Mockingbird: This was a CIA media control program exposed by the Church Committee in 1975. It revealed the CIA’s efforts from the 1950s through the 1970s to pay well-known foreign and domestic journalists from “reputable” media agencies such as the Washington PostTime MagazineNewsweek, the Miami Herald, the New York Times, the New York Herald TribuneMiami News, and CBS, among others, to publish CIA propaganda, manipulating the news by planting stories in domestic and foreign news outlets. During the hearings, Senator Church asked an agency representative, “Do you have any people paid by the CIA who are working for television networks?” The speaker eyed his lawyer then replied, “This I think gets into the details, Mr. Chairman, that I’d like to get into in executive session.” In other words, he didn’t want to admit the truth publicly. He gave the same response when asked if the CIA planted stories with the major wire services United Press International (UPI) and the Associated Press (AP). In his 1997 book, Virtual Government — in the chapter “’And Now a Word from Our Sponsor – The CIA': The Birth of Operation Mockingbird, the Takeover of the Corporate Press & the Programming of Public Opinion” — Alex Constantine claims that during the 1950s “some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts.” I’m curious to know what the estimate would be today.
CIA Drug Smuggling: It’s no longer a secret that clandestine arms of US Intelligence have profited from running drugs for many years. I first became aware of the issue when a Vietnam veteran claimed he had helped load opium cultivated in Laos onto military transport planes. The opium was turned into heroin and shipped around the world, sometimes in the visceral cavities of dead soldiers. A Hollywood version of these events is portrayed in the film Air America, but the movie is based on historical truth. When the US military presence in Southeast Asia declined and the focus shifted to Central America, cocaine became the new revenue source. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb ran a well-documented three-part series in theSan Jose Mercury News called “Dark Alliance” alleging that traffickers with US intelligence ties had marketed the cocaine in Los Angeles and other cities where it was turned into the new and highly addictive form known as “crack,” inflicting a scourge that claimed the lives and freedom of thousands. One guy I met in Compton who had been arrested for crack possession described the drug this way: “It doesn’t really get you high,” he said. “You just want more.” Webb’s allegations were confirmed by an LAPD Narcotics Officer and whistleblower, Michael Ruppert, and the story received additional confirmation from CIA contract pilot Terry Reed, whose story is revealed in his 1994 book Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA. According to Reed, the sale of cocaine was used to finance the Contras in Central America when congressional funding was blocked by the Boland Amendment. He claimed the operation was run out of Mena, Arkansas when Bill Clinton was governor. Military cargo planes were flown to Central America with military hardware, he said, and then returned to Mena loaded with coke.
I could add to the list, and it would be a long one. The Iran-Contra scandal, Watergate, the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), the Tuskegee syphilis experiment—there is no shortage of crimes that were planned and committed by two or more people and thus constituted conspiracy. Conspiracies happen, and before any crime is solved it spawns theories. There are people who look at these theories rationally using logic and discernment, and there are others who are illogical, engaging in fallacious, emotion-based thinking and jumping to unjustified conclusions based on little or no evidence. The term “conspiracy theorist,” however, has been manipulated to suggest only those in the latter category.
The John F. Kennedy assassination provides a good example of how the term “conspiracy” has been misapplied to disparage people who find fault with official versions of major events. After Kennedy was murdered, very few people questioned the Warren Commission’s verdict that Lee Oswald had shot the president unassisted, and anyone who challenged that belief was branded a “conspiracy nut” (or buff) unworthy of respect or consideration. Forty years later, a 2003 Gallup poll revealed that 75% of the US population believed there had been a conspiracy to kill JFK.
Apparently some people have a psychological need to protect themselves from unpleasant realities, so it’s easier for them to label others as conspiracy nuts than to assimilate hard but discomforting facts. In the case of the John Kennedy assassination, even a congressional committee, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded in 1979 that there had been a conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. They tried to soften that reality by calling it a “limited conspiracy” as if Oswald’s drunken cousin had helped him and not elements of US Intelligence, but the fact remains that the US government has officially admitted there was a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. “Conspiracy theorists” were finally vindicated, but I’ve never heard anyone apologize for disparaging their names and questioning their sanity.
“9/11,” of course, is the current topic that yields the most accusations of conspiracy nuttiness. Anyone who challenges the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions are branded “conspiracy theorists” (or nuts, wackos or kooks) as were their predecessors when JFK was killed.
History repeats itself.
One of the strange truths about the 9/11 affair is that members of the 9/11 Commission also called the event a conspiracy. That alone shows the term is being intentionally manipulated. In the Commission’s view, the conspirators were exclusively fanatical Muslims, but somehow that investigative body has been exempt from accusations of conspiracy theorizing even though they called the event a conspiracy. Apparently one must challenge the official version of events to qualify as a “conspiracy theorist.”
I asked Jim Marrs, the popular author and critic of various official versions of history, what he considered to be the origin of “conspiracy” as a derogatory term and how it has been manipulated: “The term ‘conspiracy theory’ was consciously submitted to assets of the CIA back in a document from the 1960s to be used to counter factual information that was continually being made public regarding the Kennedy assassination. From there, these assets, including media personalities, pundits, academics and government officials, expanded the term to become a pejorative for any statements not complying with the Establishment line,” Marrs said. “However, its repetitive overuse, plus the fact that the 9/11 attacks obviously involved a conspiracy, today has lessened the impact of the term.”
Many critics of the 9/11 Commission report make some valid points, and it’s not fair to simply dismiss them as conspiracy theorists when the very people they’re countering also claim there was a conspiracy. The question is simply: whose conspiracy was it?
Even officials tasked with investigating 9/11 knew there was plenty of deception involved. Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission, John Farmer, said on page four of his book The Ground Truth, “At some level of government, at some point in time, there was an agreement not to tell the people the truth about what happened.” In their book Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, the two co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, outlined reasons they believe the government established the Commission in a manner that ensured its failure. These reasons included delay in initiating the proceedings, too short a deadline for the scope of the work, insufficient funding, and lack of cooperation by politicians and key government agencies including the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NORAD. “So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail,” the chairmen said.
How much clearer can they be?
Conspiracies exist. They have always existed, and not wanting them to be true does not invalidate their existence. I think it’s time we reject the intentional misappropriation of the term “conspiracy” by forces attempting to manipulate public opinion and restore the term to its original and proper meaning. As long as we observe logic and reason, there is no intellectual dishonor in contemplating and discussing conspiracies, and doing so is imperative if we wish to retain what’s left of our liberties.
A version of this article was originally published at
[Correction, Oct. 28, 2014: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that a chapter title of Alex Constantine's 1997 book Virtual Government is "Mockingbird: The Subversion of The Free Press by the CIA". The chapter is titled "'And Now a Word from Our Sponsor - The CIA': The Birth of Operation Mockingbird, the Takeover of the Corporate Press & the Programming of Public Opinion." The text has been revised to correct the error.]
Shawn Hamilton is a writing teacher and has taught in the United States and Taiwan. He is the author of Be All You Can Be. It is the story of his father, an Air Force major who in the latter part of his life rejected use of the military as an instrument of US imperialism. He has worked as a capitol reporter in Sacramento for KPFA Radio (Pacifica)and written for various print publications. He received a Project Censored award in 2011 and writes poetry for fun.

Hamilton was a guest on SFPI Radio on May 11, 2014. Listen to the interview here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


If you want to see a granfalloon, just peel the skin from a toy balloon. 

-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The claim is often made that Zionism is based on racist assumptions. The matter is rarely discussed in any detail, since those bringing different viewpoints to the question tend to be so defensive that neither listens to the other side. Given that the only prospect for peace in the Mideast depends on resolving the conflict, it is imperative that defenders of Israel and its critics learn to engage in reasoned debate on fundamental questions such as this. Whether one’s sympathies lie primarily with Israelis or with Palestinians, it is hard to argue that the continuing violence benefits either.

The problem is not only that the two sides are starting with different interpretations of facts. It is that one or both are ignoring essential truths for understanding the conflict. These universal truths are often hidden beneath layers of unconscious beliefs that are so ingrained that they are hard to recognize. Since few people want to think of themselves as racist, they are even harder to acknowledge. Any discussion that might lead to the conclusion that one side is racist therefore breaks down before it gets to the root of the problem.

A person who feels genuine compassion for Palestinians may blame all Jews for their plight, while those worried about the survival of Israel and perhaps the Jewish people themselves may demonize all Arabs as hostile and dangerous. Both are making the mistake of assuming that all members of one or the other group are essentially all good or all bad. Most people do not fall into the trap of accepting these racist beliefs, of course. The great majority of well-meaning people who disagree on the nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict want an outcome that is fair to both. The problem is that in order to visualize such an outcome, we have to come to an agreement on what is “fair.” This is where unconscious biases lead to impasse.

The only way to a solution is to recognize and overcome the tribal mentality underlying the “us” versus “them” assumption at the root of all racist beliefs, conscious or unconscious. A common argument of defenders of Israel is that any criticism of its right to exist constitutes “anti-Semitism,” a charge that infuriates those who hold that Zionism is inherently racist. Ignoring the fact that the term anti-Semitism is a misnomer because the original inhabitants of the area were all Semitic, there is some merit to both arguments. There are among those on one side people who hate all Jews and on the other, people who hate all Arabs. It is easy to point at such examples to make the case that either group is racist, but in either case the argument itself is racist. People are individuals. Claiming that attitudes and behaviors are universal among any group ignores the reality that we are all more alike than different and that our commonalities are what make us human. Regarding an entire group of people as so evil that they deserve to be attacked because of who they are dehumanizes both the victim and the aggressor.

This is not to say that a group might not be more violent because of cultural influences. It is only an acknowledgement of the fact that such differences are culturally determined, not inherent in one group. It is in identifying with one group or the other to the exclusion of recognizing the common humanity of both that is the essence of the tribal mentality that is at the root of all racism. Thus, both groups claim that racism is endemic in the other group while denying it in theirs. The question of this essay is whether such attitudes are inherent in those who support Zionism, however.

A recent book by American reporter Max Blumenthal extensively documents that racism is rampant in Israel today. Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel traces the origins of this racism and describes how it manifests in Israeli public opinion. Blumenthal, like most prominent Jewish critics of Israel, is often called a “self-hating Jew,” which is a label intended to mark him as an extremist who does not accept his Jewishness. The fact that he does not place his ethnic background over his humanity is thus assumed to represent some sort of psychopathology. This in itself reflects the racist beliefs of rabid defenders of Israel, but is it inherent in Zionist beliefs? Clearly, not all Zionists are racists. Many are humanitarians when it comes to injustice in other situations. The truth is that decent people sometimes hold some racist beliefs. It is only when they consciously acknowledge and cling to them that they deserve to be called racists.

To rationally discuss the Israel-Palestine problem, we have to admit that a Jewish state is by definition exclusionist. If Israel is “Jewish,” as it wants Hamas and the world to acknowledge, then what are its non-Jewish citizens? In a democracy, all citizens are equal. The increasing number of discriminatory laws in Israel and the Occupied Territories refutes this claim. Blumenthal makes the case that these laws, the racist attitudes they reflect and anti-Arab violence are the natural result of accepting the idea that a nation based on an ethnic identify can be a democracy. Unfortunately, those who cannot see that a “Jewish democracy” is a contradiction in terms cannot see the evidence of it.

The claim that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is the most clever lie of all. A growing number of Jews, including many thousands of Israelis, no longer believe the one-sided narrative of the Israeli government concerning Gaza, apartheid and occupation. To claim that the government of Israel represents all Jews is not just inaccurate, it is racist on its face. As former AIPAC member Rich Forer describes in Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion, A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, the ongoing pattern of violence cannot be understood until you confront the tendency to view your tribal identity as somehow distinct from your universal human identity.

The crimes of the past cannot be erased, but continuing to allow them will not lead to a solution. Trying to justify any aggression against civilian populations on the idea that use of terror by one side is acceptable because the other uses it will make neither Israel nor Palestine safer. It is wrong when Hamas does it and wrong when Israel responds with overwhelming force.  However, the overwhelming superiority of the Israeli military over Hamas should lead any objective observer to ask whether Israel has any moral justification for repeatedly slaughtering thousands of civilians in the name of “defense.” If you look at the facts you find that it is Israel who has almost always broken any truce that has lasted any length of time.

Kurt Vonnegut defined a granfalloon as an artificial grouping of people who identified with something smaller than humanity itself. A nation, a religion, a racial or cultural group are all based on distinctions that are less important than those characteristics that define us as human. A survivor of the Battle of the Bulge and the Dresden firebombing, he was often depressed to see how tenaciously people cling to these false identities. If he had one great message to share, it was that only when we begin to put our humanity above all other considerations and work for justice for all can peace become possible.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Today's blog by Jeff J. Brown is from the website of 44 Days. It is a great analysis of not only the "Umbrella Revolution" but the history of the role of NGOs in color revolutions around the world.

The Skinny on Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Movement


Occupy Central banner Oppose capitalism

Is it really democracy Hong Kongers want? Or is it a level playing field? This banner screams, “Down with Capitalism – Occupy Central”. (image by

I have been watching the Occupy Central Movement with some detachment (some are also calling it the Umbrella Movement, since protestors sport umbrellas against the tropical sun and afternoon showers). The rubber stamp, Ministry of Truth-Western mainstream media is kowtowing to the Washington-London-Paris consensus, declaring that Occupy Central is hungering for Western style “democracy”, that it is bigger than Hong Kong. It all sounds so predictably déjà vu. Knowing that free-wheeling Hong Kong is gladly letting CIA front NGO National Endowment for Democracyoperate on its soil, is all we need to know. The main “non” governmental organizations (NGOs) that do the CIA’s bidding around the world are:

• American Center for International Labor Solidarity
• Center for International Private Enterprise
• Ford Foundation
• Freedom House
• International Republican Institute (IRI)
• National Democratic Institute (NDI)
• National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
• National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
• U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

While some do decent work, like the American Center for International Labor Solidarity fighting human trafficking, the Ford Foundation and many of its excellent programs, or USAID doing helpful infrastructure projects, they have many other darker, deep state activities that answer to a higher, nefarious power. Often, what they will do is create a local NGO, with a lofty sounding, idealistic name, and then this NGO will work to destabilize the local political structure, with the goal of overturning the government in a coup d’état or “color” revolution. This revolution will try to install a pliant Western stooge leader to do Eurangloland’s bidding. All the color/named revolutions since 1990 – China, Georgia, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, the Arab Spring and currently in Ukraine, where it has not gone as planned, and Russia and Venezuela, where the same modus operandi is simply not working, are financed directly by the CIA or through their panoply of NGOs and local NGOs.

To understand just how pervasive and cancerous the CIA’s bogus NGOs can become in a country, here is a long list of CIA financed NGOs that were in Russia in 2009. Its length is shocking, but destroying Russia is a long sought after American goal. Since then, the Russian parliament has cracked down on them. Other countries are also starting to catch on and being more vigilant. But given the chance, the United States will flood a country with millions, and in at least the case of Ukraine, billions of dollars, to overthrow national governments, in order to put in puppet leaders who, now bought and sold, will greedily turn their country into a IMF/World Bank resource and asset prostitute.

One of the classic NGO case studies is Otpor in Yugoslavia. Its template has laid the foundation for many of the CIA ginned revolutions and rebellions for the last 25 years. Otpor is heavily CIA financed and infiltrated with local CIA agents, as are all the other CIA NGO assets around the world.

And in other cases, the United States, through its CIA front NGOs, just tries to buy overseas elections. As is the case right now in Brazil, where Uncle Sam is financing a yes-woman named Marina Silva, ironically, of the “Socialist Party”
. If elected, she’ll bark and do tricks for the CIA and the White House and let Wall Street, the IMF and the World Bank come in and plunder one of the world’s richest countries, as well as divorce Brazil from BRICS.

In 1949, when Mao Zedong and the Communists kicked out of China the fascist mafia KMT, the Japanese military machine as well as all the Western colonialists, including the USA, the US government, from the White House, the State Department, Congress to the CIA, all officially bemoaned the fact that the United States had “lost” China. You can’t lose something if you do not “own” it in the first place. Thus, the US and Europe believed, in all their colonial delusions, that they owned China and lost it. Even before 1949, the CIA was trying to destabilize and balkanize the People’s Republic in China via Tibet, sending spy planes, arms, rebels, and hundreds of agents from Taiwan.

Most recently, the CIA’s latest gambit is to finance the transportation and training of hundreds of Muslim Ouighers from Xinjiang to travel to the Middle East, ostensibly for religious studies. There, they are trained in the arts of terrorism, by America’s bought and paid for jihadist groups, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, ISIL/Islamic State and on and on, only to be sent back home to blow up bombs and go on public stabbing massacres, in hopes of destabilizing Baba Beijing’s rule in Northwest China. Again the goal is for the West to install a puppet leader and government to exploit Xinjiang’s trillion dollar natural resources and turn it into an IMF/World Bank debt slave. Ditto Tibet. All of this has been written about and referenced in previous articles.

And so the CIA sees a chink in China’s armor in Hong Kong. Like in the Ukraine’s conflated Maidan, Hong Kong’s citizens have legitimate grievances about their corrupt elected government. It is only natural to want a greater voice in one’s affairs, especially when one’s economic, educational and professional lives have degraded so much in the last generation. In Kiev, the CIA made sure the protesters stayed on Maidan Square for weeks on end, 24/7, while bringing in hard core local operatives, which in Ukraine’s case were and are Nazis and fascists, paying them a daily per diem of €20-30 to raise hell, commit destruction and eventually death and assassinations. This was part of America’s $5 billion dollar investment to install a stooge Ukrainian government, that the US Department of State’s Victoria Nudelman/Nuland bragged about publicly, and which I’ve also written about and referenced.

Hong Kong is no different. The middle class and poor are being decimated by the Princes of Power’s draconian, libertarian capitalist policies of pushing the Territory’s profits to the 1%, at the expense of the 99%. Students are graduating from college and finding it difficult to get good paying jobs or affordable places to live. This, in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Hong Kong only just passed a minimum wage law in 2010 and it is a paltry US$3.20/hour, less than half of America’s slave minimum wage. Standards of living for the 99% are cratering. Like in the US, Hong Kongers are having to work 2-3 jobs and much more than 40 hours a week, just to pay the bills, never mind prosper. As fully explained by Hong Konger Ming Chun Tang, his co-citizens have no collective bargaining rights, no unemployment benefits and no pensions, which even their fellow Chinese workers all have north of the border.

So, while the CIA is fully exploiting Hong Kongers’ discontent at their status quo, it has much less to do with pangs of democracy, as it does that they, like you, me and everybody else around the planet, are being economically sodomized by the one percent’s jungle, libertarian capitalism – now the world’s permanent reality, except maybe in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and among a few other Quixotic peoples, who battle for dignity and a more level playing field.

In truth, the ball is in Baba Beijing’s court. They have the power and the ability to read the riot act to Hong Kong’s elite billionaires and their corrupt, toady politicians. All Baba Beijing needs to do is say,

OK boys, it’s time for a haircut. Your current inverted pyramid of wealth accumulation doesn’t need to be re-inverted, but it sure needs to be flattened out enough to keep the peace. Make that apex angle more obtuse, much more obtuse.

I have always said that as soon as China’s 99% begin to agitate against their billionaire class, and it is inevitable that they will one day, Baba Beijing will not hesitate to very publicly, not only give their fat cats a full-fledged sheep shearing, but take a chunk out of their backsides too, in order to maintain the Heavenly Mandate and social stability.

It’s a little dicier though, in Hong Kong. China signed a UN witnessed treaty that after Hong Kong reverted to the Mainland in 1997, it would not change the Territory’s way of life for the next 50 years – until 2047. Thus, Baba Beijing has committed themselves to not overtly interfering in Hong Kong’s local affairs. Of course they do behind the scenes, vetting and selecting who will run the government, but always with a veneer of plausible deniability. While Baba would find it next to impossible to influence Hong Kong’s billionaire class’ investments in the Territory, all of them have billions in investments on the Mainland. If Occupy Central drags on, and it undoubtedly will, with the CIA’s NGOs putting money in the protesters’ pockets to maintain the vigil, a haircut north of border might be in order to get Hong Kong’s Princes of Power to share more of the Territory’s wealth, passing laws to funnel money to the working and poor classes.

Otherwise, the United States and its CIA, which would give anything to shatter the People’s Republic into a bunch of balkanized, subservient smaller countries, just might take this chink in Baba Beijing’s armor, and rend it into a full-fledged, hemorrhaging gash. At the very least, if the CIA can get Baba Beijing to overplay its hand, by say, sending in PLA troops or declaring martial law, it would be a massive propaganda coup for the West, just as the CIA’s support and financing of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and bogus “massacre” charges are continuing to wound China on an annual basis. This is of course what the US is hoping they can get Vladimir Putin to do in Novorossiya: overreact and give the West the propaganda coup of the century, in order to destroy Europe’s and Russia’s economic and political relationship, thus guaranteeing Europe continuation as one big collective of vassal states, totally dependent on Uncle Sam’s dictates.

Just as Russia has a huge, intricate and delicate juggling act to pull off, in order to try to prevent World War III in Ukraine, the US is using its dollar printing presses to pay for the same misery in China, now starting in Hong Kong.

OK, Baba Beijing, game on? It’s the Heavenly Mandate or CIA chaos.
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