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American Empire [Part 2]

As his presidency was drawing to a close, Dwight David Eisenhower gave the people of the United States a clear and unmistakable warning. He clearly spelled out the dangers involved in maintaining a defense industry that is constantly researching new weapons and a defense industry that employs millions of people, military and civilian. I believe that what he had to say then is more important now than it was when he delivered his speech. I believe it should be read by everyone in America that cares for its future.

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual --is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-indistrial-complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of  a scientific-technological elite.It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow. During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.”  (17 January 1961)

The United States has been involved in numerous coups, civil wars and “regime-changes” on every continent. The CIA has operatives throughout the world, yet we complain that other nations are interfering in the affairs of independent, sovereign states.

The people that voiced questions about the events leading up to, during and after the events of September 11, 2001 are referred to as “conspiracy theorists”. This is a politically correct way of voicing the opinion that they are “crazy”.

I have a few questions myself. I guess that now that I’m voicing them I can be added to that list. I don’t mind for the list contains names of architectural engineers, civil engineers, industrial engineers, former CIA employees, NSA employees, pilots, military people and others. If you were to put “elapsed time of WTC towers decent rate” into a search engine, for every claim of freefall due to controlled demolition, there would be another search find illustrating facts that the rate of fall was consistent with airliners striking the buildings.

My questions aren’t about the fall rate. I am more concerned with the investigation. I wonder why a criminal investigation wasn’t conducted. I also question the speed in which the hijackers were identified and the knowledge shown about them in the weeks leading up to 9/11. I also wonder why the jetliner that supposedly hit the pentagon wasn’t photographed by one of the many cameras that covered the route the plane was supposed to have taken. I wonder why so little of the plane was recovered. How a jetliner made the turns required to hit the Pentagon when so many seasoned pilots claim that the maneuvers were impossible? Why the lawn leading to the hole in the wall wasn’t dug up by the belly of the plane after measurements of the plane and the top of the hole clearly point to the plane’s height being too big NOT to have left a furrow in the ground.

As to the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, how did the passengers use cell phones at 30,000 feet, and why did the hijackers allow the passengers to have conversations while they carried out the hijacking? Why did the police chief of Shanksville and the mayor say they witnessed the plane being shot out of the sky by an f-16 and the government claimed it hit the ground because of a counter-attack by the passengers? Why did Bush state that he saw the first jet hit the towers on the school TV and it was learned later that this was impossible to see in the time frame he mentioned Why did he lie?

These are just some of my questions. I could go on but for brevity’s sake I won’t. I will say however, that the writing of the Patriot Act was accomplished in very short order. I suspect it was already written and the government was waiting for an opportunity to push it through Congress. After the Patriot Act we were hit by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the revamped Insurrection Act, and the enhanced FISA Act. It seems that all of these draconian laws that basically trashed the Bill of Rights were agreed to because of the fear of another terrorist act that was constantly beat into the heads of the American citizenry, just like Eisenhower warned us about in the speech above; “must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect”.

It appears that fear is the chief weapon that is being used by our government as they write and pass laws that basically curtail constitutional rights and empower the executive branch. PETA activists, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, union members and others that practice dissent are added to the no-fly list.

The Two-Party Duopoly and the Media

There are many people that believe America lost the war in Vietnam not because of decisions made on the battlefield, but because of public opinion on the home front. The Tet offensive in 1968 was the start of negative reporting about the war. Walter Cronkite reported from the imperial city in Hue that he thought the United States was losing the war. The facts were that the Tet offensive was the last time that the Viet Cong made a coordinated strike against U.S. Forces. After Tet, the North Vietnamese Army was at the forefront of the opposition, the Viet Cong never recovered from Tet.

The media still didn’t get the story straight. The majority of Americans believed that we were fighting insurgents in black pajamas. Even today this view still holds true for many Americans. The media also portrayed American forces as having their backs up against the wall. The truth is that the United States never lost a major engagement during the war. The media has also downplayed the fact that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was based on a false flag attack on U.S. ships in international waters.

The anti-war movement in the U.S. received detailed coverage. Although the media reported on Vietnam in a very poor light after the Tet offensive, it can hardly be blamed for losing the war. In my opinion we lost the war because we were fighting against an enemy that had popular support from the people we were trying to “defend” and that America had no clear cut goals other than to stop the South’s assimilation by North Vietnam.

Since the damage that resulted in such bad public opinion because of the Vietnam War coverage by the media, it appears that the media will continue to be heavily censored. It also appears that this doesn’t seem to be needed because the media is doing such a fine job of censoring itself.

The media’s role in our defeat in Vietnam is one of the main reasons journalists are so heavily censored in the war zones of today. In Operation Desert Storm and in the recent Iraqi invasion, journalists could only cover the fighting if they were “embedded” with certain elements of the Armed Forces. This allowed the Pentagon to select what journalists were allowed to see and report on. Therefore it is no surprise that reports of quick and easy victories by coalition forces were reported on while long drawn out fighting like with what took place in the city of Fallujah was hardly covered at all.

The mainstream media has also failed to report on the controversy over the use of depleted uranium used for munitions on the battlefield According to some scientists, radioactive particles less than a micron in size are being inhaled by people. It mixes with soil, breathed in during dust storms, and according to some is responsible for birth defects in Iraq and the U.S. In fact, the Iraqi Ministry for Human Rights is filing a lawsuit against the U.S. and Great Britain for allegedly dropping more than 2,000 tons of the stuff in Iraq, but I doubt you will see that story in the mainstream media.

“The media of today seems to keep clearly away from controversy. One reason that it does so is that it receives pressure from advertisers to do so .Another reason is that some of the networks themselves are owned by defense contractors like GE, Westinghouse. NBC is owned by General Electric, the third largest defense contractor with Pentagon contracts worth $5.8 billion for manufacture of radar and guidance systems F404 and F110 aircraft engines and other military hardware (source: Dollars and Sense, May 199 1). CBS is involved in joint ventures with Westinghouse (including a satellite news channel -- source: Forbes, Jan. 3, 1983) and has on its Board of Directors former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown (who is also on the board of directors of IBM, Rockefeller Foundation and a member of the infamous Trilateral Commission, an association of wealthy and powerful politicians, industrialists, and bankers -- see Trilateralism edited by Holly Sklar), former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (also a member of the Trilateral Commission), and other directors associated with AT&T, Honeywell and Dow-Corning.

ABC has been owned since 1985 by Capital Cities. One of the founders of Capital Cities was Ronald Reagan's director of the CIA, the infamous William Casey. Casey was on the board of Capital Cities until 1981, when he left to head the CIA, though he still l retained $7.5 million in Capital Cities stock as the largest stockholder. As director of the CIA, Casey asked the FCC to revoke the license of ABC when ABC reported unfavorably on some of the CIA's dirty dealings. The FCC declined to do so, and the next thing you know -- Voila! -- Capital Cities bought ABC! In addition, current members of ABC's board of directors also serve as directors of defense contractors ITT (which was involved in the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile in 1973), United Technologies (headed by former Secretary of State, General Alexander Haig), IBM, and Texaco.”  (Source: EXTRA! March/April 1990, a publication of FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).

The television networks are cutting back on their overseas bureaus. They report on celebrities and on subjects that entertain us instead of world events.  When they report on politics, they more often than not, use “sound bites” and then report on what it all means. It is not unusual to see a speech on television only to have it explained to you moments after the speech is delivered. The media also reports on the two party system as it were written into the Constitution. They often report on independents’ or on people or groups that disagree with the Republican or Democratic view as “fringe groups”.

The media (and our politicians) are always using terms that are meant to divide us such as left and right or conservatives and liberals. There are others, pro-life and women’s rights, reactionaries and neo-liberals and on and on. These labels bring with them a certain connotation, usually not flattering. We all have views that are sometimes both liberal and conservative.  Lumping people or groups together under a label tends to identify them in a narrow, bigoted way.

When I watch television news I wonder where the critics were when news content began to become so hollow. When the Supreme Court decided recently that corporations, unions and special interest groups could give as much as they wished to political campaigns. Where were the watchdogs? The reason I ask is because this decision will change the face of government while it effectively removes the people from our political system.

End of Part 2


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