US Empire at War

 

The US Empire at War: Some Thoughts About the Consequences

Eddie J. Girdner (Retired Professor)

(Published in Third Concept Journal, July 2019)

From all indications, the United States is preparing for a new war against Iran, using almost exactly the same script that was used to drum up a war against Iraq in 2002 and 2003. Perhaps the officials believe that people will not remember how the neo-conservatives in the George W. Bush Government lied the United States into that war. A new war is apparently being drummed up by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor, John Bolton. Thousands of additional US troops are being sent to the Middle East in June 2019.

It is said that President Donald Trump does not want a new war in the Middle East. But with Congressmen in Washington, such as Representative Tom Cotton and others, things may spin out of his control. It seems that nothing is easier for the USA than going to war. The country certainly has a lot of experience at it.

The United States of America has been continuously at war now for almost thirty years. Since the US invasion of Iraq in 1991 under George H.W. Bush, the father of George W. Bush the country has been at war. That is twenty-eight years.

So a person younger than thirty years old in the USA has never known their own country to be at peace. Of course, the USA was at war continuously from 1961 to 1975 in Vietnam. (Fourteen years)

Go back sixty years. Over that time period (1959 till 2019), the USA has been at war for at least forty-two years out of sixty. This does not count all the proxy wars that the USA carried out in Central America, as in Nicaragua and Grenada. Also Afghanistan, and other countries. Indeed, in many places all across the globe where the US Central Intelligence Agency destabilized governments.

This means that a person in the US who is sixty years old has only known eighteen years of peace in his or her lifetime.

There is no other country in the world that I can think of that has engaged in so much war over the last sixty years. If the US mission is to preserve the peace in the world, that is a hell of a way to do it.

Fighting for peace is like having sex for virginity, as we used to say in the sixties about the Vietnam war. It is still largely true.

But the USA will keep on keeping on waging war all over the world. I am confident of that. The officials in Washington will keep on drumming up needless wars as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are now doing with Iran and Venezuela. So far US efforts in Venezuela have failed, which is good.

It seemed, at one point, that US President Donald Trump might end some of the continuous wars and bring some troops home, like he promised to do. But if he was serious about that, he has been defeated by the deep state that insists on keeping the wars going. Trump said that he would get US troops out of Syria a few months ago in 2019, but that did not happen.

The military industrial corporate complex wants war profits. They don’t need them, but they do want them. The roads, bridges, and other infrastructure in the US are falling into a state of collapse. But the US Government prefers to print money for wars, rather than putting money into fixing the roads and airports.

There are many other things besides war that the USA could have done over the last sixty years.

It was trillions of US dollars down the drain in Vietnam. Like Marx said, war is like dumping a portion of the national wealth into the sea. The US lost the war there. After 1975, Vietnam unified, tried socialism for a few years, then began shifting to the successful East Asian Model of state-guided capitalism. This model was followed by Japan, Taiwan, and then China after Deng Xioping moved toward state-guided capitalism. The Vietnamese saw that this model was successful, far more than the American liberal model. Chalmers Johnson on Japan and all that. US economists claimed that the model did not work, but this was wrong as Johnson pointed out in his writings. The model successfully developed the countries of East Asia. China became the great work house of the world with massive exports to the USA.

So all of that destruction and chaos, the killing of three million Vietnamese and sixty thousand American soldiers in Vietnam, many more wounded, many more suicides of veterans and so on, was completely unnecessary. Except, that is, for the making of war profits.

The war did contribute to the development of South Korea, just as the war in Korea in the early 1950s contributed to the development of Japan.

When it comes to the war in Iraq, hardly anybody now claims that this war was a good idea. That is, except for a few people like Bolton, Pompeo, Dick Cheney (thr former US Vice President) and so on.

And then there is the war in Afghanistan. Don’t even mention it. The Taliban were still winning, the last time I checked. But the war goes on now, after about eighteen years. It keeps pumping out war profits for the ruling class in the USA. The US Generals know that they whole thing is a farce, but they have to wait till they retire to tell what is really going on. What a waste on an international scale.

So, I will put it bluntly. It would have been difficult to devise foreign policies more destructive than those followed by the USA over the last sixty years. Destructive of both life in the USA and around the world. That is, if one wanted to have a peaceful world. It takes real talent!

But the guys in Washington are not about to let the world down! They can provide new wars. And, of course, every US president has to have his own war. If not, then they are seen as a failure. Remember Jimmy Carter. Poor guy. He never started a war anywhere. So he was sent back to grow peanuts on his farm in Plains, Georgia.

But he probably saved a lot of people from dying in useless wars.

There are many things that the USA could have done if the country had been a democracy that served the people instead of only the One Percent and US corporations.

The USA could have had a wonderful world-standard health care system that was available to the whole population, like most of the developed world has. Even Turkey has guaranteed health care for citizens at a very small cost.

The USA could have had a university system that was free and available to all, like Germany, Slovenia and many other countries. Now university graduates are saddled with debt and cannot find jobs. Some end up leaving the USA to teach in China. Salaries are much smaller in China, but they find themselves a lot better off than they would be in the USA.

The US could get rid of the crippling student debt of over one and a half trillion dollars in the USA. This would be a great help to young people trying to start their careers. Not a chance of it ever happening, however.

Surely, providing some benefits for the people was not out of reach for the USA. After all, dollars for the wars have been created out of thin air by the US Federal Reserve and just added to the US debt tab. The USA has not even pretended to pay for any of these multi-trillion dollar wars. The debt just generates more profits for the bankers.

Why not print a little money for social welfare? Not a chance of it ever happening, unfortunately.

The US didn’t have to pay for the wars because it had the world’s reserve country. It just shift the debt off onto other countries in inflated dollars.

So money was not the problem.

The USA could have built one of the best high-speed rail systems in the world, as France, Japan, China and some other countries have done. It would not be difficult. Much of the USA landmass is relatively flat. The technology exists for building tunnels through mountains. It is old technology. The Chinese or Japanese could have shown them how to do it. Even Turkey has high-speed trains.

Now much of the infrastructure in the USA is old and falling into a state of decay. But the US is not doing much to repair the systems, while spending massively on new wars.

People who do not fly in the USA are travelling on the old slow Amtrak trains. Actually, I love them. Personally, I love old, slow trains. But they do not get people anywhere fast. The US needs an alternative to airports and personal cars. People have to drive or fly everywhere to travel. Such travel is difficult for the elderly. High speed rail is the answer, but it would threaten the auto and airline industries.

The USA could have had a capitalist economic model that provided good jobs and benefits, like the European model of stakeholder capitalism that allows workers to share the profits. Not a chance of it happening, unfortunately. Wall Street corporate interests are too strong for that under stockholder capitalism.

The USA could have been a great place to live and a model for the whole world. Instead, the politicians in the USA just warn people to be careful or they might end up being just like Europe. Actually most people would love to be just like Europe, if they only had a clue about the benefits people enjoy in Europe!

In the event, the USA missed the boat over the last sixty years. That was the price of being the oligarchy that it is.

Today, the USA is losing the war. Not only in hearts and minds, but in real democracy and social welfare for its people. Just look at the many thousands of homeless young people living in tents in Los Angeles and other places in California. Official figures are way over one-hundred thousand just in California alone. Surely, the scenes of degradation one sees on the streets of Los Angeles is shameful for a country as rich as the USA.

It would be a shame for any country.

The lack of a national health care system in the United States is a national disgrace. One wonders how the officials believe that one can run a country without taking care of the health care needs of the people. It boggles the minds of those in most developed countries, such as Europe.

Again, politicians in the US warn Americans to be careful. They could end up being just like those in Europe. This would be funny if it was not so absurd.

Some Americans have started leaving the USA for a better life elsewhere and find that they are better off.

Some go to universities free in Europe, such as in Slovenia, Germany or France. Some young Americans find it easier to live well and pay off their student loans by teaching English and other subjects in China. So much for the so-called evils of communism!

Americans have started to retire abroad because their small social security checks give them a higher standard of living in Mexico and many other countries than they would have in the USA.

Wall Street and the corporate oligarchs in the USA, on the other hand, are mostly happy. Today, that is obviously the top priority.

The US Empire is not yet over, but on the down-side of history. Perhaps that is the bright spot on the horizon.

How many more imperialist wars will it take to finally bring down the American Global Empire? That is the historical question.

Eddie J. Girdner

June 18, 2019

 

On the Streets of Calcutta (Kolkata)

 

A walk in Calcutta in December 2018. There is much clutter in streets in Indian cities. It is sometimes difficult to isolate subjects for good framing. But one perhaps gets the idea of what goes on in Indian streets.

Pictures taken with a Leica M6. Leica Summarit 35 mm f 2.5 lens. Kodak Tri-X film shot at ISO 1600. Developed with Kodak HC-110 developer.

Street food is everywhere on the streets in Calcutta. It provides cheap meals for the many who could not afford to go to a restaurant. Efficient, even if sometimes disorderly.

Shops near Nakhoda Masjid (a large mosque) in the Moslem district.

A busy street

A lot of transportation by human power.

Goats and dogs share the street.

Street markets. Colorful, but I do black and white.

Carrying goods by rickshaw is common.

Street food for goats too.

A meat shop.

More Street Food.

Street life

Tata Trucks

Long Road Ahead for a human draft animal.

Loading Up

Entrance to Nakhoda Masjid (Mosque)

Street Restaurant

The Red Rose

Local Street Toughs. They asked me for dollars.

The old Rickshaw, waiting for the human horse.

Trees grow out of an elegant old building on a main street.

Gateway to Paradise

Busy Street

Corner Shop

Street Life

Heavy Load. One way to carry it.

Moti Mahal Guest House

That’s a lot of street life on one roll of film. One section of a great and dynamic city. One can come to love it, the same way one loves any great city in the world.

 

Basmane: A Traditional Section of Izmir, Turkey With Pictures

Basmane (Izmir, Turkey): Historical Smyrna

by Eddie James Girdner

In the nineteenth century, Basmane was a factory area. Basmane Railway Station was built between 1864 and 1866 for the Smyrna Cassaba Railway, which ran from Izmir to Turgutlu. In 1934 it became part of the Turkish State Railway system.

Today, Basmane is a traditional area of small shops, restaurants and hotels along historical Anafartalar Street. In the last few years, the area has changed with the coming of Syrian refugees. Many shops have been taken over by these new immigrants. It is a colourful and interesting area of the city, which is shown in these images.

All pictures were taken with a Leica M6 TTL camera with black and white film.

Basmane Railway Station, the main railway station in Izmir for Turkish State Railways.

A kokorec Vender in Basmane

Selling Nuts

Selling Simits near a historical fountain (Cesme). It is across the street from the Mosque.

One finds the most interesting mix of people in Basmane, it seems.

A very rich shop.

Selling Sweets

Passengers Arrive

Mobile Shop, selling dried okra, tomatoes, egg plant and so on.

Roll Your Own Tobacco for Cigarettes. Giving the Ultranationalist Wolf Salute of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP)

Out For a Stroll. Might be the happiest time of their lives.

A Saturday Afternoon Walk

A Square Near the Mosque

The Street

Street Scene

Waiting for a bite to eat.

For most, its a scramble for a living. Off to make a sale. These are the kind of poor people that America bombs in the Middle East. They are just simple people.

Plenty in the market, if one has the do ray me.

Homeward Bound

Man ain’t nothin but just a hoping machine (Woody Guthrie).

Many residents have come to the city from villages in the east of the country.

Local Restaurant on the Street

Used Clothes market in the Square. There are many Syrian Refugees, thanks to the war caused by the USA in Iraq and later Syria. The hell with democracy. They are just trying to save their lives.

Nothing like a good ear of sweet corn, anywhere in the world.

The Fruit Man Cometh

Night Shot of the Grand Corner Hotel across from the Railway Station.

That’s a little piece of old Basmane (Izmir, Turkey) or Historical Smyrna.

Its a great city.

Its a hell of a city.

 

 

The Truth About the USS Liberty

American Legion Joins VFW in Calling for Congressional Investigation of Israel’s Attack on USS Liberty.

Updated on December 29, 2018
USS Liberty, body bags.
USS Liberty, body bags.

Due to the persistence of surviving crew members and the continual emergence of new revelations, the national veteran’s group American Legion has passed Resolution 40 calling for Congress to “publicly, impartially, and thoroughly” investigate the attack by Israel on an American ship in 1967, in which 34 American sailors were killed and hundreds of others were wounded. The resolution comes despite a veil of government secrecy which keeps key documents on the attack classified more than 50 years later. [NSA USS Liberty documents]

The attack, which surviving crew members to a man say was deliberate, as well as a stellar list of high-ranking officials, has never been officially investigated outside of a Navy Court of Inquiry and an NSA probe. Surviving crew members were not allowed to testify to key points which did not fit the official conclusion that it was an accident.

For example, according to James Ennes who was Officer of the Deck that day, crew members were never allowed to give testimony witnessing an Israeli patrol boat’s methodical machine-gunning of the life boats, which supports the contention that the Israelis wanted no survivors.

The surviving crew continues to hold a memorial service in Washington DC each year on the date of the attack, and issues invitations to members of Congress to attend. To date, not one congress member has attended a service.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the other major US veterans’ organization, passed a national resolution calling for a congressional investigation in 2003.

Although the American Legion leadership has fought hard over the years to prevent the Liberty survivors’ resolution from passing, the rank and file has overwhelmingly supported the veterans, and passed the resolution thunderously on a voice vote. The leadership had no choice but to introduce it into the record. Resolution 40 itself is a devastating document, reading in part:

WHEREAS, on June 8, 1967, while operating in support of the National Security Agency (NSA) in international waters, properly marked as to her identity and nationality, and in calm, clear weather in the eastern Mediterranean, the USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was the target of an unprovoked attack by Israeli military forces that killed 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounded 173; and,
….
WHEREAS, according to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) information reports from June and October, 1967, sources in Tel Aviv reported: “Israel’s forces knew exactly what flag the [L]IBERTY was flying” and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan “personally ordered the attack” on the Liberty over the objections of senior uniformed military personnel, one of whom characterized the attack as “pure murder”; and,

WHEREAS, Richard Helms (Director of Central Intelligence, 1966-1973), stated in a 1984 CIA interview: “…I don’t think there can be any doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing…”; and,

WHEREAS, Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter, USA (ret.) (Director of the NSA, 1965-1969), recalled in a 1988 NSA interview that he stated at a Congressional hearing in 1967 that the attack on the Liberty “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate…and,

WHEREAS…Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN (ret.) said: “there is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew” (Moorer was also the legal counsel for the official Navy investigation);

The American Legion Resolution 40 harnesses two of the most powerful non-corporate lobbies in America, US military veterans. The survivors are now asking military veterans to forward the resolution to their congressional representatives.

On the morning of June 8th, 1967, Israeli reconnaissance aircraft circled slowly around the Liberty, according to the sailors, for 9 hours, making 13 very close passes. The Liberty crew members recall the planes were close enough to wave at the pilots, who waved back. The ship was flying two American flags, including the Holiday Colors, a particularly large flag. The breeze was around 15 mph and the flags flew fully unfurled.

At around two in the afternoon, after the recon planes broke off, Israeli Mirage jets came roaring over the horizon and opened fire, for nearly two hours, with .30mm cannon, rockets, missiles, and napalm bombs. Then an Israeli Navy patrol boat arrived and launched torpedoes.

According to the timeline of If Americans Knew, a website run by survivors, at 12:15 and 12:45, Israeli recon aircraft again circled the ship. The timeline reads:

1215 & 1245: Israeli reconnaissance aircraft again circle Liberty.

1341: Israeli torpedo boats spot Liberty and call for an immediate air strike.

1358: Two unmarked delta-winged Mirage jets attack Liberty. After taking out gun mounts, they target ship’s antennae and bridge with heat-seeking missiles.

1405: Three unmarked Dassault Mystère IIIC jets attack with napalm and rockets. Ship tries to contact Sixth Fleet headquarters, but five of Liberty’s six shore circuits are jammed. Radio operator manages to send distress signal from Captain McGonagle: “Under attack by unidentified jet aircraft, require immediate assistance.” Attack lasts approximately 22 minutes, involving 30 to 35 sorties, killing nine men and wounding around 60. Israeli pilot reports to base: “Great, wonderful, she’s burning, she’s burning.”

1409: Captain Joe Tully of the USS Saratoga acknowledges call for help, dispatches four F-4 Phantom jets, and informs Liberty that help is on the way. Within minutes U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara orders rescue jets to return: “Tell Sixth Fleet to get those aircraft back immediately.” Rear Admiral Geis relays message and tells them to re-launch jets in 90 minutes.

1424: Three French-built 62-ton Israeli motor torpedo boats approach Liberty in attack formation. Because the Israeli fighters had destroyed the American flag, Captain McGonagle orders the signalman to hoist the “holiday ensign,” the largest flag the ship has.

1435: Torpedo boats launch five German-made 19-inch torpedoes at Liberty. One torpedo strikes starboard directly into NSA area, accounting for 25 of the 34 men who would be killed. Torpedo boats then circle, machine-gunning the ship with armor-piercing projectiles for another 40 minutes.

1450: Commander of Sixth Fleet orders carriers USS America and USS Saratoga to send aircraft to defend Liberty.

History has charged LBJ with failing to assist the ship and ordering a cover-up. As to the reason for the attack, Admiral Thomas Moorer once speculated it was an Israeli attempt to draw the US into war with Egypt, which Israel was fighting at the time in the Six Day War. The apparent attempt to kill all hands and leave no witnesses is cited as support for this thesis. Indeed, sources say LBJ had already launched nuclear-tipped jets toward Cairo when word came that the Liberty had not sunk.

If true, it has also been speculated, the Liberty crew, by saving the ship, may have prevented World War III. Survivor Phil Tourney, in his talks recounting the damages from over 800 cannon rounds, rockets, missiles, napalm bombs, and torpedoes, has said that the ship not sinking is to him a “miracle.”

In 2007, the Chicago Tribune published an explosive exclusive, in which US officers who had seen presently classified NSA transcripts of radio transmissions that day disputed the accuracy of leaked transcripts published by the Jerusalem Post.

The Tribune reported:

“The transcript published by the Jerusalem Post bore scant resemblance to the one that in 1967 rolled off the teletype machine behind the sealed vault door at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, where Steve Forslund worked as an intelligence analyst for the 544th Air Reconnaissance Technical Wing, then the highest-level strategic planning office in the Air Force.

“The ground control station stated that the target was American and for the aircraft to confirm it,” Forslund recalled. “The aircraft did confirm the identity of the target as American, by the American flag.

“The ground control station ordered the aircraft to attack and sink the target and ensure they left no survivors.”

The Tribune reported the words of James Gotcher, who was then serving with the Air Force Security Service’s 6924th Security Squadron, an adjunct of the NSA. Gocher said:

“There is simply no way that [the Post transcript is] the same as what I saw,”

Even more damning are the recollections to the Tribune of Air Force Capt. Richard Block, who was commanding an intelligence wing of more than 100 analysts and cryptologists monitoring Middle Eastern communications.

“Some of the pilots did not want to attack,” Block said. “The pilots said, ‘This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?’

“And ground control came back and said, ‘Yes, follow orders.'”

Forslund, Gotcher, and Block agree that the Jerusalem Post transcript was not at all like what they remember reading.

During the attack, some Liberty crew fought fire and damage even while wounded. Less wounded cared for more gravely wounded. With Israeli 30mm cannon being made for tank killing, the rounds punched through the thin steel hull and butchered men deep inside the ship.

For the incredible drama of that day, in which one Medal of Honor was won and a rafter of other heroism decorations, the bare facts of the USS Liberty attack are little-known, with barriers and stumbling blocks placed in the paths of survivors at every turn. Even though the American Legion passed Resolution 40, in 2018 it denied booth space to Liberty survivors at their annual convention. James Ennes, the Officer of the Deck that day, has written a book which, although well received and with many orders, seems to have problems finding its way into major bookstores.

It is clear that the surviving veterans are not fading into the sunset quietly.

As the Chicago Tribune reporter reached out to survivors for telephone interviews he relates:

…decades later, many of the more than two dozen Liberty survivors located and interviewed by the Tribune cannot talk about the attack without shouting or weeping.

The epic struggle to be heard and avenge their shipmates, almost all young in their twenties when killed, by forcing Israel and the US government to admit it was not an accident, might recall the Dylan Thomas lines:

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.