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Blue-washing the Colonization and Militarization of Our Ocean

How U.S. Marine National Monuments protect environmentally harmful U.S. military bases throughout the Pacific and the world.

The Hawaii Independent

June 26, 2014

by Craig Santos Perez

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B-1 bombers on Diego Garcia

President Obama recently announced plans to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles. Despite the media framing this move as a victory for ocean conservation, the truth is that these monuments will further colonize, militarize and privatize the Pacific.

Many mistakenly refer to marine “monuments” as “sanctuaries” because they are both “marine protected areas.” However, an official sanctuary is designated by the Secretary of Commerce under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, which requires “extensive public process, local community engagement, stakeholder involvement, and citizen participation, both prior to and following designation.”  On the other hand, the President unilaterally designates marine monuments through the Antiquities Act of 1906. No public process is required.

The first and largest Marine National Monument was established in 2006: The Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument (140,000 square miles). Three more marine monuments were established in 2009: The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (95,000 square miles); The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (87,000 square miles); and The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (13,000 square miles). The total “protected” area, with Obama’s expansion, would be more than a million square miles of “small islands, atolls, coral reefs, submerged lands, and deep blue waters.”

Why has this antiquited, unilateral process suddenly become so popular? Why are U.S. presidents from both sides of the political divide side-stepping Congressional approval and—more importantly—public participation and scrutiny?

It’s important to understand that establishing a marine national monument, reserve, or refuge places our coastal and open ocean waters under federal control. The marine monuments are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (under the Department of Commerce) or by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (under the Department of the Interior). This ocean and submerged land grab by the federal government severely limits public access and trust. Additionally, these monuments violate the rights of indigenous peoples by separating us from our sacred spaces. Traditional fishing grounds or ritual spaces may no longer be accessible. If there are exceptions for indigenous rites, we will need to apply for a permit and receive federal approval.

How Do Marine Reserves Militarize the Ocean?

As I wrote about in a previous editorial, the U.S. military removed the original landowners of Litekyan (Ritidian), an area in northern Guam, under eminent domain in 1963, and the Navy used the area as a communications station during the Cold War. Thirty years later, 1,000 acres of the land was deemed “excess.” Instead of that land being returned to the families, it was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and designated a “National Wildlife Refuge.” Today, four thousand acres of Litekyan is now being considered for a live firing range complex.

You see, designating land and water as a monument, refuge, reserve, or even sanctuary keeps the land under federal control as opposed to public (and indigenous) trust. So if the military ever wants to use the land in the future, it can simply be converted (or re-converted in the case of Litekyan) from the Department of the Interior or Commerce to the Department of Defense. This is the “logic of military conservation.”

Many marine monuments house strategic military bases. For example, the marine monuments of the Pacific are home to U.S. bases on Guam, Tinian, Saipan, Rota, Farallon de Medinilla, Wake Island and Johnston Island, to name a few. The reason why military bases can be within marine monuments is because “nothing in the proclamations impairs or otherwise affects the activities of the Department of Defense. Among other things, the DoD is ensured full freedom of navigation in accordance with the law of the sea, and the U.S. Navy can continue effective training to maintain its antisubmarine warfare and other capabilities.” In other words, the military is exempt from most environmental regulations and prohibitions.

Ironically, the public may no longer be allowed to fish in these “protected” areas because it might affect the fragile ocean ecosystem, yet the military can conduct weapons training and testing. Remember, marine monuments are not designed to protect the ocean from the U.S. military, one of the worst polluters in the world. In fact the opposite is true: they are designed to allow easier military access. As activists in Hawai’i know, these national monuments could become “watery graves” for endangered species when military training occurs.

Besides providing more federally controlled space for the U.S. military to train, marine monuments give military bases another layer of secrecy from the public. This buffer strategy is spreading to other nations. During the meeting of the U.S. State Department sponsored Our Ocean conference last week in Washington DC, other countries announced similar plans to federalize massive ocean areas, including Palau, Kiribati, the Cook Islands and the Bahamas. These new marine reserves will become military sanctuaries, buffer zones and watery bases for the U.S. military as it forcefully positions itself in the Asia-Pacific region (and uses “illegal fishing” as justification to militarize these marine reserves).

We need to be critical of these efforts. Read about what happened to the Cayos Cochinos, an island group in the Carribean off Honduras, during the twenty years after they were declared a “protected area.” The Afro-Indigenous Garifuna peoples have been displaced from their lands and fishing grounds. Tourism developers and other private industries have invested in and exploited the islands. And, you guessed it, the U.S. military is using the area for basing and training, providing millions of dollars of aid to the Honduras government. This is what will happen to countries that ally with the U.S. in this colonial conservation scheme.

In 2009, Britian designated a marine protected area around the Chagos islands. However, the waters around the island of Diego Garcia, which is the site of one of the most secretive overseas U.S. military bases, was exempted. How bizarre: a secretive U.S. military base in the Indian Ocean surrounded by a 200-mile marine preserve controlled by the British government. Peter Sand, in “The Chagos Archipelago: Footprint of Empire, or World Heritage?”, pointedly asks whether these new marine reserves are “an anachronistic example of ‘environmental imperialism’, or evidence of an equally outdated variant of ‘fortress conservation’ that disregards human rights under the noble guise of nature protection.” Either way, the Chagossians who were removed from their islands may never be able to return.

How do Private Corporations Benefit from Marine Monuments?

As I mentioned before, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is under the Department of Commerce (DOC). Does that seem strange to you? It certainly seems strange to Obama, when he joked during his 2011 State of the Union address: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater.” Obama wants to move NOAA to the Department of the Interior.

Joking aside, it actually makes perfect (or perverse) sense that NOAA remains in DOC, which promotes trade and economic development. A few years ago, then Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton dubbed the 21st century: “America’s Pacific Century.” This strategic turn aims to expand trade, investment, and militarization throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The cornerstone of America’s Pacific Century is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement that has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” As Clinton stated, the continued economic growth of the region depends on the “security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military.” It is not surprising that TPP negotiations, as well as militarization proposals in the Pacific, intensified around the same time that President Bush designated the first marine monument in 2006.

So what are these economic opportunities, and what does the TPP have to do with the surge of marine national monuments and reserves designated by the U.S. federal government and its allies?

First, the more military sanctuaries the U.S. has around the world, the more federal tax money will be spent to secure these areas for investment, which means more profit for the military industrial complex and private defense firms.

Second, does something smell fishy? The justification for many of these marine reserves is to prevent illegal fishing and fish fraud, especially from China. With a massive fleet of 2,000 distant-water, state-subsidized fishing vessels, China catches nearly five tons of fish a year, worth more than $10 billion—some legally and some illegally. In contrast, nearly 90 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. By establishing marine monuments, and encouraging its allies in the Pacific to do the same, the U.S. could effectively shut out China from Pacific tuna waters. In turn, private U.S. tuna corporations could negotiate contracts with Pacific allied nations to develop Pacific fisheries or to obtain exclusive fishing rights within the marine reserves (as well as access to cheap labor and canneries). This comes at a time when foreign-owned and American-owned canned-tuna companies are battling for control over our kids’ school lunches. Billions of dollars of tuna are on the plate.

Third, wherever you find a national monument, you will find a tourism industry. The Cayos Cochinos is a prime example. The government that controls the marine monument can permit private companies to operate tourism centers, hotels, eco-adventures—all in the name of development and jobs. The concessions throughout the U.S. National Park Service are owned and operated by private companies, which gross over $1 billion annually. There are more than 500 companies, from food to lodging to adventure sports to retail, that have contracts with the National Parks. Of course, the entire National Park system was one way of displacing Native American presence on these lands.

Fourth, the Pacific has long been a “laboratory” for Western science and technology. Since another justification for marine reserves is scientific research, then we will see many more unprecedented grants for oceanography research. This research can be transformed into profit by private industries, such as deep-sea mining, geo-thermal energy, open-ocean (genetically modified) aquaculture, and pharmaceutical drugs derived from ocean microbial bacteria.

New Zealand established a Marine Mammal Sanctuary in 2008 to protect engangered dolphins, yet it is now considering opening the area up for oil drilling. This is not a contradiction; this is exactly what these conservation schemes are designed for.

Lastly, do you want to see Avatar 2 with me when it comes out? In 2012, James Cameron dived in a submarine to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on earth, which is protected by the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. He lit up the trench with an eight-foot tower of LED lighting to film 3D footage. In another celebrity sighting, Leonardo DiCaprio made a cameo at the State Department’s Our Ocean conference, donating $7 milllion towards marine reserves. Apparently, he’s a diving enthusiast.

What is Blue-Washing?

In the 21st century, national marine momunents, marine parks, marine preserves, marine refuges, marine sanctuaries and their other iterations are instruments that empower the federal government to take land and water away from indigenous and public access, scrutiny, and trust. The “marine monuments” are especially dangerous because they do not require—nor are they accountable to—legislative or public comment, engagement, or approval.

As David Vine, in “Environmental Protection of Bases,” notes: “For all the benefits that marine protection areas might bring, governments are using environmentalism as a cover to protect the long-term life of environmentally harmful bases. The designation also helps governments hold onto strategic territories.” Furthermore, these designations give the governments of the U.S. and its neoliberal allies the power to create contracts with private corporations to exploit the resources of our ocean for profit and not for the public good. Let’s call this a form of “Blue-washing.”

The word “monument” comes from the Latin, monumentum, meaning “grave” or “memorial.” If our oceans continue to become national marine monuments, our blue ocean will indeed become a watery grave, a memorial to the beauty, richness, and biodiversity that once was.

 

Further reading:

Mauritian socialists’ open letter to Greenpeace — `Don’t help cover up colonialism’s crimes on Diego Garcia’

Salute to a Great Freedom Fighter: The Indomitable Spirit of Fidel Castro will Live Forever

Libya 360° Internationalist News Agency

By Gerald A. Perreira

On behalf of Organization for the Victory of the People, Guyana, South America

 

 

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Fidel with Salvador Allende in Chile, 1971 

“I am Fidel Castro and we have come to liberate Cuba.”

 

Fidel Castro can never die. Today he departed the physical plane but he will live on forever. His intellectual prowess and wisdom were extraordinary among mortals. His legacy and influence is global and monumental. This humble man, from a small Caribbean country, can truly be said to have changed the world. One of his greatest contributions to humanity is the example of his unwavering revolutionary determination and courage, in the face of enormous obstacles placed in his path. He became an inspiration to all who fight for true independence from the Empire and its trail of poverty, racism, death and destruction. Here in the Caribbean he stood, and will stand forever, as one who refused to believe that our fate is sealed by the absurd concept of ‘geographical and historical determinism’. So many Caribbean misleaders, cowards and satraps of the Empire, have accepted this fate, that our future and destiny is shaped by the fact that we reside in the US’s so-called backyard. However, in the words of the late revolutionary leader of Grenada, Maurice Bishop, “We are in nobody’s backyard”. The same Maurice Bishop, inspired and assisted by Fidel, aptly described him as “incomparable”. Every revolutionary initiative in the Americas and the Caribbean, and for that matter worldwide, since 1959, owes a debt of gratitude to Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution.

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Fidel Castro And Malcolm X At The Hotel Theresa, Harlem NY 1960

Fidel taught us that our destiny is determined by faith and an enduring belief in our principles and in our ability to empower ourselves and the masses of our people. He showed us true empowerment by virtue of the fact that one man and a nation of just over 11 million people could play such a decisive and significant role in the liberation of people all over the world. We will never forget Cuba’s military response to the forces of Apartheid at the historic and decisive battle of Cuito Cuanavale, when Cuban troops defeated the racist forces of South Africa’s regime, and in so doing, forced the Boers to the negotiating table. While others condemned apartheid with words, it was Fidel who sent troops across the world to do what had to be done. He would later admit that this battle exerted such a strain on Cuba’s military resources that it put Cuba’s own national security at risk. However, as Fidel explained, “We have a commitment to Africa, for African blood flows freely through the veins of every Cuban”. The airlifting of Cuban fighters to Angola was codenamed “Operation Carlota” after an African woman, enslaved in Cuba, who led an insurrection against her Spanish slave-masters. This is why the great African freedom fighter, Kwame Ture, could have called Fidel Castro “the blackest man in the Americas”, and why Nelson Mandela said, ”The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character.”
Fidel Castro turned Cuba into a powerhouse of health, education and solidarity. He sent doctors and teachers to every part of the globe to assist countries ravaged by decades of the neo-liberal capitalist project. Cuba is always the first on the ground when it comes to responding to natural disasters in the region and afar, from Haiti to Pakistan. Despite being a relatively poor nation with few natural resources, Cuba’s literacy rates, infant mortality rates, life expectancy rates and other indicators rival that of any nation on earth, including the wealthiest nations of the world. Surely, this is the true measure of democracy.

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Of course, the need for change and adjustments to any political and economic system put in place in 1959 is inevitable. What must be remembered, and something which may not be well understood by this generation, who are too young to have experienced the world as it existed in 1959, is that Cuba’s alignment with the then Soviet Union was inevitable in a world characterized by two superpowers engaged in a ‘Cold War’. The Cuban conceptualization of a socialism shaped by Soviet Marxism which saw private property and small, privately owned business as synonymous with capitalism was erroneous, and now needs rectification. Following the Cuban revolution, other nationalist revolutions with socialist objectives, have learnt from this mistake. Carlos Tablada and many other Cuban theoreticians and economists, with full support of the revolution, have themselves addressed these issues and proposed measures to resolve these problematics. All political and social systems must evolve and change or otherwise become stagnant and perish. However, this in no way deflects from the outstanding achievements of Fidel Castro and Cuba in their historic fight for human advancement and dignity. The changes and transformations that Cuba is currently pursuing are not about taking Cuba in the direction of capitalist restoration, but rather about finding ways to make the socialist project more viable and sustainable. This has been one of the Cuban revolution’s most enduring legacy; to teach us how to remain steadfast, courageous and relevant in an ever-changing world, ravaged by neo-liberal capitalism and the flawed liberal-democratic notion of what constitutes democracy, that is, where 1% own and control everything, and where the resources and wealth of a nation do not benefit all the people. The Cuban revolution’s ability to survive all these years in the face of the contradictions, double-standards, hypocrisy and the bullyism of global capitalism and the Empire is a testimony to the leadership of Fidel Castro.

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Celia Sanchez became the de-facto second in command after Fidel Castro in Cuba. Celia Sanchez was considered to be one of the fiercest guerrilla fighters as well as one of the most intelligent and level headed decision makers within the Cuban revolutionary forces. [Source]

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“A brigade of Cuba’s Territorial Troops Militia (MTT),  in a 1990 photo. The MTT is a volunteer military force which continues the fighting tradition of those who fought at Playa Giron and against banditry, the latest incarnation of the citizens’ active participation in the defence of the nation. In the MTT, as in all of Cuba’s armed forces, women play an important role.” [Source]

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Children from Chernobyl, Ukraine, visit Cuba  in 1989 (left). Since the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, some 13,600 children and 2,500 adults affected by the intense radiation have received treatment in Cuba. This major act of  international solidarity with the victims of Chernobyl began at the height of the Special Period in Cuba.” [Source]

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Former South African President Nelson Mandela and Cuban leader Fidel Castro embrace during a visit by Castro on Sept. 2, 2001 in Johannesburg, South Africa | Nelson Mandela, 1991: “From its earliest days, the Cuban revolution has been a source of inspiration for all those who value freedom. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist and orchestrated campaign to destroy the awesome force of the Cuban revolution. Long live the Cuban Revolution! Long live comrade Fidel Castro!”

After 57 years, despite the arduous struggle involved when a small nation stands up to the might and brutality of Empire, despite the sacrifices that had to be made by the Cuban people, there is an outpouring of grief and sadness on the streets of Cuba today. Cubans, both young and old, have expressed not only their grief at the loss of a man who is seen as the father of this nation, but also their determination to honour the life of their heroic leader by continuing the struggle for Cuba’s right to self-determination and true independence. This is surely the litmus test of any revolution. Thanks to Fidel Castro and this remarkable revolution, the people of Cuba are highly educated and politically conscientized. The revolution has given them the education and knowledge to advance their struggle and to avoid the pitfalls of what we refer to as conceptual and intellectual incarceration. Cuba’s revolution has truly removed not only the physical and material shackles that enslave us, but most importantly, the shackles on the minds of the people. In this sense, the Cuban people can be said to be truly free, unlike so many of their counterparts throughout the region, where the Empire still calls the shots, and so many people continue to be manipulated by the Empire’s propaganda machinery.

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13 August 2006: Hugo Chavez at Castro’s bedside in Havana. “Fidel, for me, is a grand master. A wise man should never die; a man like Fidel will never die because he will always be part of the people.” – Hugo Chavez, 2007

In the Caribbean, we lovingly call him Uncle Fidel. Regardless of the absurd and nonsensical rantings of the 1%, and their servants in academia, the corporate media and neo-colonial regimes, Uncle Fidel will forever live on in the hearts and minds of the millions of oppressed and dispossessed people worldwide. He will eternally remain an inspiration for all those who struggle for our inalienable right to self-determination, justice and human dignity. He will be loved and revered by those who know the truth: that he is a hero and undefeated freedom fighter. Farewell Commandante – in truth, words are indeed inadequate to express our gratitude to you. Like all great revolutionaries, you had no rest in this life, instead you made the ultimate sacrifice, dedicating your life to benefit humanity. May you now rest in peace and power. We know that the best way to live up to your legacy is to renew our pledge, on this day, to continue the struggle for all that you stood for.

 

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Fidel Castro with Che Guevara in 1959, the year Mr. Castro took power after leading a communist revolution in Cuba and toppling the American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

“On December 18, 1956, Fidel and I were in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra, in a place called Cinco Palmas. After our first hug his first question was: ‘How many rifles do you have?’ I answered five. And he said, ‘I have two. That makes seven. Now we can win the war.” Raul Castro (“This is Fidel” by Luis Baez)

WATCH: NGOs: Grassroots Empowerment or Tool of Information Warfare?

South Front

September 30, 2016

 

The Destructive Energy of Avaaz

Digital remix by: Luke Orsborne for Wrong Kind of Green

October 17, 2016

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This remix of artist James Jean’s poster for the Avaaz People’s Climate March retains Jean’s focus on a girl holding a pinwheel, which now bears a shattered peace symbol, cut by bolt of destructive energy from above. In this revision, the pinwheel alludes to the way in which the false promises of “green” energy touted by non profits like Avaaz, are overshadowed by the global system that they ultimately support, a system which continues to exploit people and the planet in the name of economic growth and warfare backed profit. The light behind the girl symbolizes the explosion of bombs falling on the people of Libya, Syria, and other sites of US aggression, and those that may yet fall with increasing intensity in the event of the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria, for which Avaaz is advocating. The precipice the girl is standing upon, a thin line between survival and total destruction, is the bombed out Libyan capital of Tripoli, which embodies the bitter reality of a world that is more interested in maintaining comfortable illusions than confronting difficult truths. Ironically, James Jean’s original poster design for the 2014 ad campaign was a winning entry in a contest initiated by Avaaz and co-produced by a group known as Art Not War.

 

 

“Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke

We Suspect Silence

November 14, 2016

By Michael Swifte

 

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“Clean Energy” is a rhetorical device of unprecedented scope. A poorly defined but effective shield for any pundit, mouthpiece or messaging agent to use when speaking of a seemingly uncertain energy future. “Clean Energy” has given its name to many formal processes, organisations, and campaigns. Our climate leaders use the term when they talk about targets, and renewables, and “low carbon” futures. And for whatever it may signify “clean energy” does have a Wiki page, but (at the time of writing Nov 14, 2016) it is unpopulated and redirects you to the Sustainable Energy Wiki page.

As someone who is hellbent on finding a way to destroy fossil fools there is one thing that is certain, this juggernaut will not rest till it’s all gone. That’s how fossil fools have always played their cronyistic, monopolistic, deeply networked game. That’s how I look at motive and likelihoods.

When I discovered that some of the very same people who were presenting the most popular arguments for why we should #keepitintheground were also paving the way for carbon capture and storage I began asking questions about the development of this particular form of energy generation. Questions like: Why would organisations that are telling us about carbon bubbles, carbon budgets, unburnable carbon, and stranded assets be supporting the continued burning of gas, coal, and trees, and the expansion of geological storage of CO2 under the North Sea in old oil and gas fields owned by Shell and Statoil? Surely they care about ending the destruction?

I quickly realised I was asking the wrong questions. I shouldn’t be asking why, I should be asking how? How do fundamentally economic concepts like unburnable carbon, stranded assets, and carbon budgets work for the inevitable continuation of fossil fuel extraction and the wholesale destruction of forests? How much political will for carbon capture and storage is out there and how is it expressed? How are pundits, mouthpieces or messaging agents able to use “clean energy” to mask their support for energy that is in no way clean?

It’s impossible to answer these questions without going on the journey to understanding how conflated logics and rhetorical devices appear, are transmitted, and express themselves in language. This is the very heart of psychological warfare, the understanding of the spread and power of particular logics, and how the management of information, it’s architecture and the imperatives behind it’s production facilitates mass deception and behaviour change.

My broad methodology for understanding the messaging sphere and comprehending the logical underpinnings of key pieces of language is this: follow the money, interrogate the messaging, and analyse the networks.

LEADERS – Politicians, corporate executives, high level public servants and UN chiefs

This is my messaging interrogation methodology for leaders: When I hear a leader use the term “clean energy” I compare that to the policy, technology, and investment objectives for which they speak, vote, develop networks, and maintain silence.

Here are some very stark examples:

US Department of Energy, Research and Development webpage has “CLEAN ENERGY R&D” emblazoned at the top, near the bottom of the page is carbon capture and storage, and nuclear energy. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has publicly thanked Senator Whitehouse for bringing forward a new bill aimed at providing tax credits for carbon capture utilisation and storage projects ( I’ll go into more detail later). Key projects funded by the US DoE involve CO2 scrubbed from coal-fired plants being used for enhanced oil recovery projects where CO2 is sequestered. Moniz has also publicly echoed James Hansen’s belief in nuclear energy as a key to “solving climate change”.

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Jeremy Corbyn talks a big “clean energy” game, but he also voted in support of the pro carbon capture and storage policies Labour took to last year’s election. He  once talked about reopening coal mines saying in an early interview

“The last deep mine coal mines in South Wales have gone but it’s quite possible that in future years coal prices will start to go up again around the world and maybe they’ll be a case for what is actually very high quality coal, particularly in South Wales, being mined again.”

In that same interview he responded in favour of CCS hinting at cost as a downside

“It’s complicated. At one level it looks very expensive but the advantages also look quite attractive”.

Of course he has since disingenuously distanced himself from his remarks about returning to coal mining saying “It was one question about one mine, I’m not in favour of reopening the mines.”

Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna stated in May this year that Canada’s carbon capture and storage projects were a

“real opportunity for Canada to export solutions” and made her support absolutely clear saying “So when you have carbon capture and storage, that’s certainly an innovative solution — a made-in-Canada solution,”

Compare those statements with her remarks at the Canada 2020 conference November 20, 2015, “And we’ll support progress in clean energy—because innovations in our energy sector can be commercialized, scaled up and exported. Done right, this will create good middle class jobs, grow our economy and reduce pollution, including greenhouse gases.”

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In my blog post of May, 2015 ‘The Climate Chief, the Summit, and the Silence’ I highlighted how then Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, in a Q & A session as part of the 2nd annual Australian Emissions Reduction Summit, derailed a question on “draw down” of CO2 (presumably through agricultural soil sequestration) to speak in favour of carbon capture and storage investment. I noted the absence of responses from the commentariat. One of the few organisations to take note of the climate chief’s words was called CO2-CRC a carbon capture and storage research project which is chaired by former Australian energy and mining minister Martin Ferguson. CO2-CRC are currently pumping sequestered CO2 under the Ottway Ranges in Victoria, Australia. Another organisation to take note (they actual used a meme I created without giving credit) was SaskPower CCS, the most advanced coal-fired CCS project on the planet.

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NON-LEADERS – Journalists, NGO and think tank spokespeople, celebrity spokespeople

Leaders represent institutions, corporations and political processes that impact on material change in the world. Non-leaders deal with ideas and supposed facts, and in essence seek to shape thinking for the better as they are paid to conceive it. As a representative of a media institution or a non-profit entity non-leaders are compelled to steer certain talking points, and observe relationships and platforms developed and defended by their particular institution or entity. Pointing out the contradictions between rhetoric and reality is simple, but if pointing out those contradictions helps to unpack or highlight an issue then non-leaders will largely ignore the contradictions, avoid unpacking the issue, and avoid engaging in meaningful discussion. Non-leaders with significant reach and networks are pivotal to the dissemination of talking points, conflated logics, and rhetorical devices.

My messaging interrogation methodology for non-leaders goes like this: When I read a piece from a key pundit/commentator/mouthpiece working with a media entity, think tank, or NGO I look for adherence to particular talking points and conflated logics. Most authors have sets of talking points suffused with conflated logics passed on to them through the media and through their networks of allies and affiliations.  My provisional assumption when reading a piece is that the author is not inclined to fully unpack an issue lest they stray into uncovering some inconvenient truths. Avoiding certain talking points signifies to me that the author would rather not give credence to those talking points. Silences are created by failing to speak to significant talking points. Silence is the hardest thing to identify and the most challenging component of messaging interrogation.

Non-leaders in the media employ what I call attending behaviour in avoiding certain talking points and triggers for unpacking inconvenient ideas and information. For the attending non-leader it’s all about speaking to an issue without really opening it up, not being utterly silent, erecting a defensible position which makes any real challenger seem petty.

Lets look at two non-leaders from the media, George Monbiot at The Guardian, and David Roberts at Grist and Vox.

Here’s a quote from a recent piece by Monbiot where he recognises the reality of increased demand for negative emissions and the role envisaged by many for CCS as a solution, then dismisses it – hyperlink to a story about last year’s cancelled 1 billion pound CCS competition in the UK.

“The only means of reconciling governments’ climate change commitments with the opening of new coal mines, oilfields and fracking sites is carbon capture and storage: extracting carbon dioxide from the exhaust gases of power stations and burying it in geological strata. But despite vast efforts to demonstrate the technology, it has not been proved at scale, and appears to be going nowhere. Our energy policies rely on vapourware.”

Reading this for the first time sent my head into a spin. Monbiot appears to be arguing that CCS would be alright if it worked. I tweeted Monbiot a bunch of memes with quotes which got the attention of the International Energy Agency, Green House Gas Research and Development Program Twitter account.

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Here’s a quote from a recent piece by Roberts called ‘No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously’.

“What is clear is that we are betting our collective future on being able to bury millions of tons of carbon. It’s a huge and existentially risky bet — and maybe one out of a million people even know it’s being made.”

In making his assertions on the state of political will for mitigation technologies like CCS, Roberts cites an obscure UNFCCC report from the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice titled: ‘Report on the structured expert dialogue on the 2013–2015 review’ It’s one hell of a document, I could sense that the delegates were drooling over the idea of pulping forests. Roberts is right in his conclusions about political will for bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and CCS, but – here’s where the attending behaviour kicks in – including a hyperlink to a document doesn’t constitute unpacking the political will. Not when the title of your article refers to inaction from countries, and countries have politicians who are on record giving their support for carbon capture and storage investment. There are any number of documents, links, and names he could have shared that would have revealed the punchline, but he didn’t. We can’t say he didn’t attend to the subject, but we can’t say he smashed that pinata.

Roberts’ article is ostensibly a response to a report released by Oil Change International (OCI) in September this year titled THE SKY’S LIMIT: WHY THE PARIS CLIMATE GOALS REQUIRE A MANAGED DECLINE OF FOSSIL FUEL PRODUCTION.Roberts  introduces the themes of “cognitive dissonance” and “psychological schism” at the state of the collective response to climate change. He then presents the OCI article stating “This cognitive dissonance is brought home yet again in a new report from Oil Change” Indeed the OCI report written with “collaborators” that you could only call “the usual suspects” (climate cartel) elicits cognitive dissonance for the sheer number of qualified statements on CCS in the context of carbon budgets. The phrase “in the absence of CCS” and other similar phrases appear on more than half a dozen occasions. The below quote summarizes the position of the world’s leading green groups on carbon capture and storage.

“If CCS is eventually proven and deployed, it might provide a welcome means of further lowering emissions.”

In the end the OCI authors cite prudence as the most important consideration.

“However, we take the view that it would not be prudent to be dependent on an uncertain technology to avoid dangerous climate change; a much safer approach is to ensure that emissions are reduced in the first place by reducing fossil fuel use and moving the economy to clean energy. Therefore, we apply that assumption throughout this report.”

My feeling about David Roberts who is a colleague of Bill McKibben at Grist.com is that his job is to postulate on the things Bill McKibben can’t (lest he be compelled to unpack). While I agree with the earlier quote and recognise that I am probably one of those “one out of a million people”, I find it concerning that David Roberts can comprehend that we are indeed “betting our collective future” on carbon capture utilization and storage, but not attend to who and what constitutes the political will. I’ve formed the opinion over time that David Roberts conforms to the same remit and talking points as Bill McKibben, and that he has permission to go as close as possible to the hard limits without triggering the unpacking of political will.

There is an endless array of non-leaders from think tanks and NGOs that we could explore, but lets look at someone who has piped up and finally given a clear message about investment in the lead up to COP22.

Nicholas Stern chairs the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. This is the research institute/think tank that I alluded to earlier when I explained what set me off on the journey of discovery into how fossil fools are manufacturing continued demand. While I have been watching Grantham and their allies closely for the last 3 years, it was only recently that I was able to find a quote from the horse’s mouth (Stern) that was succinct enough to share. The following quote is from a speech given at The Royal Society on October 31, 2016. It’s a very telling quote because it comes from an entity that promoted and repeatedly supported the divestment movement as well as hashtags/campaigns like #keepitintheground, and yet it clearly pushes for investment in CCS as a negative emissions technology.

“What can be done to achieve negative emissions? Carbon capture and storage technology is key.”

Here it is in meme form. Feel free to share it.

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GRUNT WORK

Here’s a quote from The Principles of Psywar by Jay Taber. I’ve worked to these two fundamental principles since I first read them.

“The first principle of psywar is never repeat the talking points of your enemy. The second principle is to deny them a platform to misinform.”

I’ve found these principles are great for maintaining the discipline of staying on-message during difficult discussions and developing a more succinct communication style.

Applying these two principles has given me stamina and strengthened my resolve. Grunt work requires hours of immersion in deflating, boring, and propaganda riddled content. My enemies are manufacturing hope, and funding every avenue that leads to new people, cultures, and markets to co-opt. But I can be realistic about the enormity, pervasiveness, and shape of the enemy because I have a strategy against their constant destabilising tactics.

Grunt work is the true revolutionary work.

FEEBLE RESISTANCE

Putting up feeble resistance is a way of manufacturing silence. This is precisely what is happening this year in the US with critical pieces of legislation introduced to congress seeking to facilitate the growth of the carbon capture and storage sector with a particular interest in CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Here I will discuss two pieces of complimentary legislation that have received bipartisan support, support from industry, support from the Natural Resource Defense Council, and support from one of the largest union organisations in the US, the AFL-CIO. Both bills seek to modify provisions in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (bail out). I will show that the resistance is barely even visible. NGOs who claim to represent workers and/or the environment, organisations like the Labor Network for Sustainability have barely even acknowledged the existence of these new bills.

When Republican congressman Mike Conaway presented his bill the Carbon Capture Act in February 25, 2016 Brad Markell, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Council had this to say as part of a “diverse coalition” which included Arch Coal, Peabody Coal, and Summit Power.

“CCS is absolutely critical to preserving good-paying jobs in manufacturing and industrial and energy production, while reducing the environmental footprint of these activities. The financial incentives in this legislation will also support much-needed construction jobs as we build projects and infrastructure for CCS. Representative Conaway has proposed a win-win for our economy and environment.”

Markell’s colleague D. Michael Langford, National President, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO had this to say on the same press release.

“There are few real examples of technology that are both good for the economy and good for the environment. Carbon capture technology is one true example. Incentives to develop and deploy carbon capture will have a positive effect on our economy while at the same time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A permanent extension of tax credits for Section 45Q of the Tax Code will be essential in building a twenty first century economy that provides large numbers good paying jobs while addressing environmental concerns.”

I challenged Joe Uehlein, Founding President of the Labor Network for Sustainability (LN4S) and former AFL-CIO strategist to put the position of LN4S forward in response to AFL-CIO support but his response was flat, defensive, and not worth posting. It wasn’t until Democrat Senators Whitehouse and Heitkamp introduced their bill, the Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Act, that the resistance went from virtually nothing to slightly more than nothing.

Senator Whitehouse’s press release announcing the introduction of his bill neglects to mention coal based carbon capture or CO2 based enhanced oil recovery. Instead the focus is put on non fossil fuel based processes like industrial water treatment and algae biomass projects. This is also the theme he lead with on social media as you can see from the below image.

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This is when Friends of the Earth US stepped in with a letter to congress calling the 45Q tax credit amendments for which both bills were created, a CO2-EOR subsidy. The closing sentence of the letter highlights that it’s not coal based carbon capture and storage or even the storage of CO2 in old oil reservoirs that FoE US and the long list of cosignatory NGOs (photo below) are taking issue with, but the purported increase in oil that can be recovered.

“Enhancing oil recovery is not a climate solution. Neither is further subsidizing the oil industry. In fact both are a step in the wrong direction. That is why we ask you to oppose any attempts to extend or expand the Section 45Q tax credit.”

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There are more than 30 co-signatory NGOs to the FoE US letter but when they went to social media it all fell flat. None of the usual cross promotional back patting and content sharing that allied NGOs are well known for happened.

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INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE AND NETWORKED STRUCTURES

There is a global group called the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) which holds forums, events and discussions for energy ministers and secretaries. Within this arrangement there is the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, this is where the real “clean energy” action happens. Below is a screen grab from the Carbon Capture Use and Storage page of the CEM website which you should have a look at. If you do you will see that details of their position on CCUS is buried away. Similar structuring-out exists in the US for the Clean Energy States Alliance which leaves the definition of “clean energy” to be determined by the vagaries of energy infrastructure development and regulation for each state.

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DEMAND FOR NEGATIVE EMISSIONS TECHNOLOGY

The propagandists have effectively manufactured demand for negative emissions. Power only ever makes win-win plays. Every failure to deliver real emissions reductions creates more demand and there are legions of mouthpieces looking for good metrics, ready to pump the hopium and spell out the technofixes. The propagandists know that the biggest risk to their agenda comes from free, open, and informed discussion. A thorough and relevant discourse has never occurred for carbon capture and storage. The CCS loving Bellona Foundation (Twitter admin) all but acknowledged this to me recently.
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COP22 will deliver “clean energy” finance and climate finance. The punchline to the dirty joke has been protected. Senior editors, NGO trustees, impact philanthropists, and senior bureaucrats all know how to guide inquiry away from the no go zones. They know that the worth of everyone who works under them is contingent on their ability to discern the dog whistles and self censor.

MITIGATION TRADING

While nations struggle to implement carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes new CCS projects have developed that when the time comes will be able to demonstrate that they have the capability to sequester carbon at scale. Australian economist Allan Kohler theorised that the Australian Emissions Reduction Fund, Safeguard Mechanism  could represent a “proxy ETS”. It could come to pass that the Gorgon Gas Project which began sequestering CO2 under Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia this year could retrospectively claim a subsidy for their efforts. Will Australia in the near future use this sequestered carbon to satisfy their climate commitments?

The city of Rotterdam has put itself forward as a future CO2 export hub and the Teesside Collective industrial decarbonisation project still claim they are “leading the way in low carbon technologies”. Remi Erikson, CEO of DNV GL clearly thinks that a North Sea CO2 storage hub is bankable.

Another meme to share.

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Storage capacity for CO2 has been successfully commodified before any kind of discussion about the international agreements that are meant to cover activities like undersea storage have even happened. The London Protocol and Convention which is administered by the International Maritime Organisation is not ready to manage the development of undersea storage, and the maritime area managed by OSPAR Commission north of the Atlantic has permitted under sea storage in the North Sea at Norway’s Sleipner field. OSPAR are very supportive of investment in carbon capture and storage. Here’s a quote from the Quality Status Report 2010.

 “Capturing carbon from combustion at source and transporting this to sub-seabed geological reservoirs could help mitigate climate change over century-long time scales and thus help with the transition to a lower carbon economy.”

THE SHOW WILL GO ON

I tried to find the source for the proliferation of “clean energy” as a pivotal propaganda term. Looking at the list of attendees at the 2009 Getting to 350 conference was very enlightening. Lewis Milford who heads up the Clean Energy States Alliance was there as was James Hansen who advocates nuclear over renewables. Members of Al Gore’s Climate Project were there along with ecological economist Bob Costanza and the nuclear and carbon capture spruiking Jesse Jenkins.

I found the likely source of “clean energy” by digging into the Podesta emails and following the trail back to 2006 and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting (link has already disappeared) where Podesta was championing the “Clean Energy Investment Boom”. The Clinton Global Initiative had a key role in bringing 350.org to global prominence. Podesta recently sat down with US Energy Secretary , Ernest Moniz  and I’ll let the meme tell you what they both agreed on.

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New US president? Makes little difference. There was no ‘war on coal’. The clean power plan was never clean. “Clean Energy” has paved the way for the financing of carbon capture utilization and storage as critical to the development of our energy systems, and fundamental to the decarbonisation of industry.

Let’s give Al Gore the last word $$$$$$$$$

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United Against Hate or Hate being United?

The Wall Will Fall

November 13, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

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If Americans are seriously “united against hate” – why haven’t they united across the country against the murder/occupation/destabilizations of Haitians, Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis, etc. etc. – all carried out/expanded under the democrats? Trump hates and it’s ugly. Obama and Clinton kill but it’s beautiful and heroic – glazed over and black-washed by the imperial liberal left and black bourgeoisie.

One can say without hesitation that MoveOn.org (co-founder of Avaaz) has absolutely seized the opportunity to drum up democratic support while gathering further aid and loyalty to their own brand. One can say the same for Change.org (a for-profit NGO that collects and sells data via online petitions). Where coloured revolutions financed by the U.S. have always occurred on foreign soil, the current uprising against Trump (sparked by NGOs) is not only unprecedented, but quite different. A coloured revolution is usually carried out to overthrow a leader that is not complying to the dictates of imperialist states to some or full extent. But in this case, both Trump and Clinton (if she had been elected) will fully serve the elites to the extent of their power. Both will serve imperialism as imperialism is the foundation of the “American dream” (in reality a nightmare). Neither will serve the people. Both will accelerate the ongoing destruction of the planet at breakneck speed.

Trump is no Chavez. Trump is appalling. Clinton is no Kirchner. Clinton is a monster. What is fascinating is that there was no public outrage directed at Obama, the likes of which we are now seeing directed at Trump. Nor, if Clinton were elected, would we see any such display of outrage directed toward her. Hatred toward Trump is easily understood. But where was/is the hatred and disdain toward Obama and Clinton? Why is the imperial liberal left blind to the blatant racism and murder carried out by the Democrats under the Obama administration? Is the imperial liberal left simply happy to turn a blind eye if charisma and political correctness can hide the ugly truth, realities and facts? Why do Americans still believe in elections when living under a fascist corporatocracy?

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Image: The Slow Burning Fuse

In summary: MoveOn et al created the spark for protests (MoveOn organizing 200 protests across the nation within a 2-hour time frame) – but it was easy to ignite because of the hatred (self-inflicted by the way) of Trump. The liberal masses were the powder keg. Trump was the fuse. The spark was lit during the election season. The lit fuse hit the powder keg on election night. Now, in unison, the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex reverberate the following messages in the echo-chamber (insert the name of any NGO where the name Avaaz appears.): “To win this fight, we need to be bigger and stronger, to deepen our connection and commitment. So today, we launch our first formal membership drive. Click below to become an Avaaz member, and let’s get serious about $aving the world.”

[“MoveOn.org Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on important national issues. MoveOn.org Political Action is a federal political committee which primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect our values through a variety of activities aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election. MoveOn.org Political Action and MoveOn.org Civic Action are separate organizations.”]

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[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

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This is an Uprising, a widely celebrated new book about how social movements change history, distorts their histories to celebrate non-violence

The black revolt of 2014 was a turning point in how Americans discussed the use of force in social movements. In the pages of the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates acknowledged that “violence works.” Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post echoed much the same sentiment. Laci Green–a YouTube star and one of the “30 most influential people on the Internet,” according to Time–posted a popular video drawing favorable comparisons between the Ferguson riots and the revolution depicted in The Hunger Games. This sea change was led by the movement itself as African American youth in Ferguson rejected Al Sharpton and other older leaders, partly due to disagreement on strict nonviolence.

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Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is an Uprising. Nation Books. 2016. 368 pages.
The notable exceptions to this trend were those who spoke for the state. These parties advocated for nonviolent action in a most conspicuous way. On the eve on the announcement of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of Mike Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder solemnly intoned that “history has shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.” In an ABC interview on the same day, President Obama urged that the “first and foremost” responsibility for Americans reacting to the verdict was to “keep protests peaceful.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people of major public discussions from two years ago, but America is a notoriously forgetful nation. And when it comes to matters of protest, politics, reform, and revolt, many people are invested in this kind of forgetting. The stated purpose of Mark and Paul Engler’s new book This Is an Uprising (2015) is to work against this historical amnesia. The Engler brothers profess to build “a healthy movement ecology [which] preserves the memory of how past transformations in society have been achieved.” This is a worthy goal, and the brothers appear well-placed to realize it: one is a professional community organizer while the other is a fixture of progressive publications including Dissent and Yes! Magazine. The book has been praised effusively by lefty celebrities, including Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, as the new authoritative text for mass civil disobedience. Yet rather than building on the nuanced understanding of street tactics that developed in the wake of Ferguson, the Englers selectively distort social movement history in a blind commitment to a particular kind of direct action.

The opening chapters are an introduction to the modern history of tactical pacifism as embodied in the practice of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign and, later in the 1960s, by the theories of political scientist Gene Sharp. The authors contend that both these figures abandoned religious nonviolence to develop a rational, realist praxis known as “civil resistance,” not “pacifism.” The principle reason for this name change is that Gene Sharp rejected the P-word, arguing that the term only applied to private individuals operating from spiritual inspiration. The Englers affirm that Sharp’s “politics of nonviolent action” are distinct from pacifism because the latter is essentially apolitical.

What the Englers fail to acknowledge, however, is that virtually all the 20th century activists whom Sharp and his school hold up as role models did call themselves pacifists. A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, and even Daniel Berrigan (who for a time defied strict Gandhism by fleeing imprisonment after an act of property destruction) all called themselves pacifists. When scrutinized, the switch from “pacifism” to “nonviolent action” appears to be a case of re-branding in response to the poor reputation pacifism had among young people by the end of the 1960s. This was hardly the first time pacifism was renamed rather than critically challenged: Leo Tolstoy referred to the use of civil disobedience without violence as “non-resistance.” Gandhi rejected that name, but employed essentially the same strategy; Tolstoy and Gandhi exchanged correspondence and agreed on practically all points.

In the 21st century, the term du jour is “civil resistance” and sometimes “people power,” yet the method’s founding father is still considered to be Gandhi. It also seems significant that in spite of “breaking from the earlier traditions of moral pacifism,” as the Englers put it, many of the major proponents of civil resistance, from Gene Sharp to George Lakey to Bill Moyer to Chris Hedges, come from highly religious backgrounds.

In addition to a re-branding, “civil resistance” is also a misbranding. The term is adopted from Thoreau’s 1849 essay “On Resistance to Civil Government,” but his use of “civil” referred to the type of domestic government being resisted, not to the method of civility deployed. Thoreau himself later said that John Brown’s violent lack of civility was the best thing that ever happened to the abolitionist movement.

These contradictions aside, the Englers trace how “civil resistance” has become increasingly accepted in mainstream political science. To demonstrate this, they introduce us to Erica Chenoweth, now one of the most celebrated social movement theorists working in the field. Chenoweth got her start producing the widely cited study Why Civil Resistance Works (2011) in collaboration with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department. According to the Englers, the study proved that “nonviolent movements worldwide were twice as likely to succeed as violent ones.” But the sample size of the study is far too narrow to prove such a sweeping claim. There are no civil rights or labor struggles included in the Chenoweth data set, which is focused exclusively on regime change. And, as Peter Gelderloos pointed out in his book The Failure of Nonviolence (2013), the outcomes of the nonviolent revolutions cited by Chenoweth have little to do with social justice or liberation. At best they replace one oligarchy with another, with no radical change in social relations or even net gains in quality of life.

At one point, the Englers note that the same political science prize that Chenoweth won–the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award–was previously bestowed on Henry Kissinger. This, for them, is the height of irony: Chenoweth is, after all, the opposite of the Kissingers of the world. But while they may represent different sides of the aisle in terms of American political divisions, Chenoweth’s work is, in many ways, just as useful to the U.S. empire.

At the height of the Cold War, the government used Kissinger’s work to justify the “hard power” of the arms race and violent intervention against communist regimes. Today Chenoweth’s work helps to justify–and in this case, mystify–Obama’s “soft power” agenda of “democracy promotion” exercised through seemingly benign agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)–the former organization was recently caught covertly organizing against the Castro government in Cuba. And while direct U.S. government involvement with pacifist academics is a relatively new development–emerging in the mid-2000s, around the same time that Gelderloos first observed that “nonviolence protects the state”–their financial relationship goes back at least to Gene Sharp’s first doctoral work in the late 1960s, which was funded by the Department of Defense.

But if the American empire promotes strictly nonviolent movement-building to overthrow its enemies, wouldn’t that demonstrate that it’s as powerful a method as its proponents say it is? The short answer is no. When civil resistance works–and when the U.S. government deploys it abroad–it’s almost always in combination with more violent forms of pressure. To illustrate this, one need look no further than the Yugoslav movement to unseat President Slobodan Miloševi?, which figures prominently in Chenoweth’s famous study and takes up more than thirty pages in This Is an Uprising. In the Englers’ version, this regime change is primarily attributable to Otpor, a “leaderless” student group from Serbia. Otpor promoted nonviolence in the Sharpian model, with an official policy to submit to arrest and abjure any kind of self-defense, even when the police physically abused them. In this way, they won the sympathy of the public and even the Serbian establishment.

But Otpor didn’t operate in a vacuum. Not only did they overthrow Miloševi? in the period when he had just lost a war with NATO, but also, in the midst of Otpor’s campaign, Miloševi? was being challenged by the armed insurgency of the UÇPMB (successor group to the Kosovo Liberation Army). On top of this, militant groups in Montenegro threatened to secede if he was re-elected. The Englers quote Otpor veterans’ claims that the NATO raids undermined the opposition and strengthened the regime, but the record shows that Otpor prospered in the aftermath of the bombing. One prominent civil resistance study acknowledges that “a number of middle and higher-ranking police and army officers made secret pacts with the democratic opposition and helped the movement forward.” Furthermore, Otpor’s victory was not strictly nonviolent: Anti-Miloševi? protesters rioted in October 2000 when the president refused to concede the election. The Englers admit, in passing, that things “got a little out of hand,” but they fail to describe the full extent of the insurrection: not only was there arson and other property destruction in Belgrade, but also the fact that an Otpor supporter killed a civilian by driving over him with a bulldozer.

This cherry-picked example of civil resistance winning its demands occurred in a context where both NATO and an armed guerilla group simultaneously made the same demand. And yet, under today’s political science taxonomy, this is what’s considered a nonviolent victory. Such dubious classification is common in the civil resistance world: Peter Ackerman, the venture capitalist who has funded much of Gene Sharp’s work, once claimed that Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement should be considered nonviolent because only a minority of the protesters threw firebombs and brandished guns.

A good faith argument for pacifist success in such cases would credit the intervening factors as a diversity of tactics supporting a nonviolent core, or attribute it to what is known in social movement theory as the “radical flank effect,” which argues that the presence of radical militants in a social movement helps make the less militant actors seem reasonable and worthy of having their demands met. Yet not only do the Englers undervalue such phenomena, they actively denounce them.

In spite of primarily advocating for nonviolent direct action, the Englers express support for electioneering, stating that while it is a separate tactic, it can complement civil resistance. If they are genuinely non-ideological strategists, they should take the same position towards guerilla activity. But, while the Englers repeatedly speak of the need for movements to “escalate,” they jerk back from any overlap with property destruction. This flinching is excused with a fable of the radical environmental advocacy movement Earth First! in the 1990s. The Englers paint the picture of a movement with a macho fetish for violence that was set right by the influence of the more moderate feminist Judi Bari, who enforced nonviolence and built the populist Redwood Summer campaign of 1990, winning political victories against logging in the Pacific Northwest. This success, the Englers claim, was in marked contrast with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the monkeywrenching eco-saboteurs who left defected from Earth First! after the rise of Bari.

The ELF is portrayed as a gang of clowns who accomplished nothing besides getting themselves imprisoned. Yet the Englers also tell us that “in the end, Redwood Summer did not produce immediate legislative gains.” The best they can claim for the nonviolent campaign is “a 78 percent drop in logging in national forests.” The ELF began carrying out its arson and sabotage attacks on the logging and tourism industries in the Pacific Northwest in 1996; these years of victory were among ELF’s peak years of activity, when it was clearly functioning as the radical flank of Earth First! But the Englers’ attitude towards militants is eliminationist, not just separatist: the ELF shouldn’t have just left Earth First!, they should have ceased to exist at all. Such absolutism is completely contrary to Bari’s actual policy: “Earth First!, the public group, has a nonviolence code,” she wrote in 1994, “monkeywrenching is done by [the] Earth Liberation Front […] Civil disobedience and sabotage are both powerful tactics in our movement.”

The double standards that the authors apply between violent and nonviolent actors undermine their claims of unbiased pragmatism. When pacifist organizers provoke violent repression, the Englers regard it as a necessary cost of the campaign–“leading proponents of civil resistance emphasize that strategic nonviolent action […] may result in serious injuries and even casualties”–but when black blocs draw repression, it’s completely unacceptable. ACT UP are praised as “desperate, aggressive, and often exceptional young men,” who had the courage to risk “potentially alienating the very people that advocates want to win over.” The ELF, on the other hand, are pictured as fanatics with no strategy. When the civil rights movement employed “often unpopular” tactics, generating “overwhelmingly negative” reaction in public opinion polls, this was admirable; when the Weather Underground and other Vietnam-era militants defied public opinion, they were simply out-of-touch adventurists (even though the latter’s action led to massive troop withdrawals and a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age).

The Englers, it must be noted, have attempted to apply their precepts, not merely theorize them. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, they helped organize the 99% Spring campaign, a coalition dominated by Moveon.org that aimed to put “hundreds of thousands” of people in the streets to change foreclosure policy. Coalition spokesman and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) executive Stephen Lerner promised to “engage the millions of people we need to do [sic] to build the kind of movement we need at this time in history.” According to him, this was a job that Occupy was not capable of doing without their guidance. In the end, the 99% Spring mobilized a few thousand people–far less than Occupy did nationwide–and had no impact on banking foreclosure policies, which remained abysmal. More recently, the brothers were involved with a nearly identical coalition–Democracy Spring/Democracy Awakening–based around campaign-finance reform. Initially, Democracy Spring seemed more tactically ambitious with a program of organizing mass civil disobedience at the Capitol Building. However, press coverage of the arrests turned out to be so meager that most of the campaign’s supporters were left distraught.

As historians and theorists of social movement, the Englers might have been able to see this failure coming, since they actually describe a precedent for their ineffectual campaigns in This Is an Uprising. In his 1962 project in Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) left a yearlong campaign with no tangible civil rights advances achieved. King had been thwarted by Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett, who capitalized on SCLC’s nonviolent strategy by avoiding any appearance of brutality and de-escalating conflict between police and protesters, thereby pre-empting any dramatic scenes that could draw national attention. King’s reputation within the movement declined until the spectacular victory of the following year’s Birmingham campaign. The Englers spend over twenty pages on Birmingham, promising to demonstrate just why it succeeded while Albany failed, but they never do.

In truth, the Birmingham campaign benefitted from having both a police force and a protest movement that was markedly less peaceful than in Albany. King wasn’t able to get consistent media coverage until after protests became, as Taylor Branch put it, “a duel of rocks and fire hoses.” One of King’s aides, Vincent Harding, later acknowledged that the black youth who came to dominate the campaign’s street action were “the children of Malcom X” and that their escalation to “a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response” marked Birmingham as “the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Historian Glenn Eskew wrote that “the aftermath of national protest, international pressure, and inner-city riot convinced a reluctant Kennedy administration to propose sweeping legislation that, once passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, marked a watershed in race relations.”

Yet these events of the Birmingham campaign are never mentioned in the Englers’ book in any form. It is here that the brothers step into outright dishonesty: they know very well that the scholarly consensus on Birmingham is that the violent protesters made an invaluable contribution (Eskew’s book is one of their sources). Yet in spite of spending a tenth of their book’s text on Birmingham, they refuse to even acknowledge the violent protesters’ existence.

Such historical censorship rationalizes the choreographed civil disobedience that the Englers help organize today, which quarantines “good protesters” from “bad protesters.” This, in turn, enables the same counter-strategy that Laurie Pritchett employed so effectively against King in Albany. What the Englers call “discipline” is actually de-escalation that facilitates police crowd control. Indeed, there is now a fully developed police doctrine known as “negotiated management” based on the avoidance of direct conflict with protesters. The National Lawyers’ Guild official, Traci Yoder, has written that negotiated management “is in many ways more effective […] in neutralizing social justice movements” than overt state repression.

But while the brothers focus on the SCLC at length, they fail to discuss the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who, the brothers passingly admit, pushed SCLC into its most productively confrontational actions. This is not only because the history of SNCC began with Gandhian practice, but also because it rapidly progressed beyond it. Although its militancy is sometimes attributed to Black Power-era missteps, SNCC’s commitment to a genuinely grassroots politics led it to work with openly armed African Americans as early as 1961 in Monroe, North Carolina, as well as with more discreetly armed black peoples all over the South. By spring 1964, SNCC associates in Cambridge, Maryland were having gunfights with the National Guard and one of the group’s advisers, Howard Zinn, noted that the movement had reached “the limits of nonviolence.” But it was crucial that those limits were reached, or there wouldn’t have been a Civil Rights Act.

In spite of its name, SNCC’s principles always had less to do with nonviolence than with organizing from the bottom-up. The group’s guiding light was Ella Baker, arguably the most important African American leader of the 20th century. As many have noted, Baker preached neither strategic nonviolence nor strategic violence. Drawing from her decades of experience, Baker counseled SNCC organizers to distance themselves from institutional power; they might maintain dialogue with the establishment left–trade unions and NGOs tied into what she called “the foundation complex”–but they should be wary of entering into partnerships with them. Instead they should follow the lead of working-class communities on the ground. This repeatedly led SNCC organizers away from nonviolence. Then as now, serious movements make serious enemies (think of the shootings last year in Charleston and Minneapolis) and self-defense quickly becomes paramount for frontline activists. Baker’s longtime friend and biographer Joanne Grant recounted that as pacifism faded away in SNCC, Baker “turned a blind eye to the prevalence of weapons. While she herself would rely on her fists […] she had no qualms about target practice.” At the same time, the failure of peaceful reform logically led oppressed communities towards insurrection.

It is often said that without the guidance of an anti-authoritarian and non-ideological figure like Ella Baker, the Black Power militants of SNCC began to lose perspective. Yet it can equally be said that the pacifists lost their way as well. The cause of social justice in America has been suffering from believing the former but not reckoning with the latter for the past forty years.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. Lorenzo blogs at Diversityoftactics.org]

 

Instruments of Power

Public Good Project

November 5, 2016

By jay Taber

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The purpose of Purpose (et al.) is the social engineering and deployment of the masses that will successfully conform whole societies to the policies and desires of the dominant classes.

 

In the introductory episode of Deconstructing the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, investigative journalists Vanessa Beeley and Cory Morningstar join social commentator Forrest Palmer in a 90-minute podcast about NGOs as “instruments of power.” On this thought-provoking program, these international thought leaders from France, Canada and the US discuss how the complex has become an “apparatus to escalate conflict” against challenges to US hegemony, while maintaining a humanitarian veneer.

Examining the Syria conflict–rooted in the competition between the Turkey-US pipeline and the Iran-Russia pipeline–these members of the communication avant-garde expose the void of alternative media coverage about the funding of PR campaigns by the “upper echelon of white power” at the World Bank, UN and Wall Street through such instruments as Avaaz, Purpose, and Democracy Now. With the Netflix propaganda film White Helmets on fast-track to an Oscar nomination, the cabal of oil mafia-funded NGOs is indeed “shifting the narrative.”

Combined with the post 9/11 brainwashing in academia, social indoctrination has made questioning authority unacceptable in both schools and social media. Meanwhile, the “controlled left,” i.e. Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein, exemplify ‘radical’ white privilege, while simultaneously covering up the corporate corruption they are an essential yet clandestine part of.

 

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

 

A Primer: USAID and US Hegemony

New Eastern Outlook

July 9, 2016

By Tony Cartalucci

 

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Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator L. Paul Bremer III

A nation is its institutions. If those institutions are overrun and no longer exist, so too does the nation itself cease to exist. Institutions range from the offices of government, to education, to agricultural and economic development, to the management of natural resources, national infrastructure including energy and transportation, and security. These are the things we think about when we think about the concept of a modern nation-state.

Contrary to popular belief, the invasion and occupation of any particular nation is not a mere exercise of military might. It also, by necessity, involves the destruction or overrunning and eventual replacement of all the above mentioned institutions.

The most extreme modern-day example of this was the US invasion of Iraq, where Iraqi institutions from top to bottom were either entirely destroyed and replaced, or taken over by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The CPA was literally headed by an American, Paul Bremer, who, far from being a military man, was instead drawn from the US State Department and a background of chairing corporate-financier boards of directors.

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“This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain in the United States.” [Source]

The CPA assumed responsibility for all aspects of life in Iraq, from the privatization of Iraq’s economy, to “reconstruction,” to reorganizing the nation socially, politically, and economically.

The average onlooker will remember US President George Bush’s “shock and awe,” and may remember several of the more notorious battles of the invasion and subsequent occupation. What they rarely recall is the all encompassing dominion the US assumed over the nation through the CPA which was merely underpinned by US military forces. Yet despite the relatively dull nature of the CPA’s work versus security operations carried out by American forces, the CPA is what essentially “occupied” and ultimately conquered Iraq.

USAID and Co. – Low Intensity Invasion and Occupation 

Iraq and Afghanistan are extreme examples of the US exercising global hegemony, which included spectacular, full-scale military invasions, lengthy occupations, and nationwide “nation-building” carried out by various organizations utilized by the US to project power abroad.

One of these organizations is USAID. It should be, but rarely is, troubling to the world’s nations that USAID played an integral part in the invasion, occupation, and conquest of  Iraq and Afghanistan, while it also maintains an extensive presence everywhere else US interests have directed their attention.

USAID and a virtual army of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and front-companies it supports worldwide, are engaged in activities in other nations ranging from education, energy, natural resources, economic development, transportation, and security – or in other words everything foreign nations should already be attending to themselves.

USAID does not seek to genuinely partner with foreign governments, but instead, create networks that operate independently of and parallel to existing, indigenous institutions and networks. USAID and its expanding network of facilitators extends into any given nation, slowly assuming responsibility over all areas a sovereign government should be managing, leaving existing governments irrelevant, empty shells. When parallel networks gain critical mass, they can then be used as a means of removing existing governments from power, and installing a client regime in its place – one that answers to the special interests that sponsored and directed USAID’s activities to begin with.

USAID actively seeks to co-opt local talent – both individually and small groups of talented individuals. They generally target start-ups and independent NGOs which is why USAID and other US government-funded NGOs are increasingly engaged in co-working spaces – even sponsoring the creation and management of new spaces across the developing world to create a convenient poaching ground for local talent.

A Global Game of Go 

USAID does not exist to “aid” anyone. It functions solely to overrun a targeted nation by building their networks over existing indigenous ones, turning a nation’s people against itself, and making preexisting networks irrelevant.

They are essentially filling up the sociopolitical, geostrategic, technological, and information space with their own influence, displacing all else.

Unlike the Western game of chess, where players seek to eliminate their opponent’s pieces from the board in a game of strategic attrition, USAID and other organizations like it and the strategy they are pursuing is more comparable to the Eastern game of go. In go, players seek to place as many pieces as possible onto the board, assuming control over the most territory.

In this context, any nation could represent a board, with its own pieces scattered across it in areas like energy, education, healthcare, and security. USAID seeks to place its own pieces on this board, generally under the guise of charity or foreign aid. It continues placing its pieces on the board, backed with inexhaustible resources and the benefit of its true intentions often being poorly understood by the governments and the people of the nations it is operating in.

The US through USAID is essentially playing a game of go against an unskilled player who doesn’t even know the game has begun. USAID is then able to quickly and easily overwhelm the board with its “pieces” – NGOs it funds, organizations and talent it has co-opted, and entirely parallel institutions running various aspects of a targeted nation right under the nose of that nation’s government.

In coordination with other US State Department-funded political fronts and NGOs, the business of then eliminating indigenous institutions and overthrowing established governments in favor of proxy institutions run by Western interests and client regimes bent to the will of the US, can begin in earnest.

Targeted nations often realize too late that the “space” on the board has been dominated by these foreign interests with whatever remains of indigenous institutions and networks so badly neglected and atrophied, they stand little chance of putting up any resistance.

Counterinsurgency Manuals are USAID’s “Rule Book”

USAID’s version of “go” has its own rule book of sorts, found easily online as free downloads from any number of US government websites in the form of counterinsurgency manuals. In these manuals, it is described how gaining control over any given population requires controlling the basic essentials that population depends on – everything from energy production to education, to garbage collection and job creation.

By controlling these aspects in any given population, one then controls that population itself. It is the key to not only defeating an “insurgency,” it is also the key to running a successful insurgency oneself. USAID projecting its influence into any given nation is in fact a sort of insurgency – a literal attempt to take control of a government – however incremental and patient the nature of that insurgency might be.

Areas included in US counterinsurgency manuals as essential to control include (but are not limited to):

  • police and fire services,
  • water,
  • electricity
  • education and training,
  • transportation,
  • medical,
  • sanitation,
  • banking,
  • agriculture,
  • labor relations,
  • manufacturing and,
  • construction

 

When inquiring into how many of these are regularly included in USAID programs, the answer is virtually all of them.

Beating USAID’s Game 

For any given nation, USAID should be listed as a foreign agency and its activities heavily restricted. Every penny they administer, if allowed to operate at all, should go straight into government programs. USAID programs should be made subordinate to government institutions, carried out by government institutions, and its role in such programs credited subordinately to government institutions. USAID should be strictly forbidden to operate independent networks, programs, workshops, contests, and meetings anywhere beyond America’s borders.

But more importantly, nations must understand the “go” board their territory and populations represent. They must create and place their own superior pieces upon this board in such numbers and of such quality that there is no room for USAID’s pieces to begin with. By doing so, a nation is not just countering USAID and the conspiracy it represents, it is defeating it at the most fundamental level this “game” is being played.

A nation creating strong institutions and networks within their own borders to manage and move forward those areas essential to the progress of modern civilization precludes the need for “foreign aid” in the first place. It is not just a matter of pride that a nation need not rely on “foreign aid,” but a matter of its survival, as “aid” is not given freely, and as in the case of USAID, serves as a vector for hegemony’s projection into the very heart of one’s nation.

 

[Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”. ]

PODCAST: Deconstructing the Non-profit Industrial Complex [Introduction Episode]

 

Wrong Kind of Green

category: News & Politics

NGOs as a Force for Good? Get the Fuck Outta Here [Introduction Episode]

11/2/2016

This introductory podcast introduces listeners to NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. Hand in hand with the Rockefellers, George Soros, Bill Gates and other powerful elites, NGOs are meticulously shaping global society by utilizing and building upon strategic psychological marketing, soft power, technology and social media – shaping public consensus, thus acceptance, for the illusory “green economy”, “humanitarian” wars, and a novel sonata of 21st century colonialism. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of carefully orchestrated depoliticization, domestication of populace, propaganda and misinformation that is being perpetrated and perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda. The non-profit industrial complex must be understood as a mainspring and the instrument of power, the very support and foundation of imperial domination.

Guests: Vanessa Beeley, independent researcher/ journalist and anti-war activist residing in France, Cory Morningstar independent researcher/ journalist focusing on ecology and the NPIC, residing in Canada and Forrest Palmer, electrical engineer, writer/editor for Wrong Kind of Green, residing in Texas, USA.

This is the first episode in a new weekly podcast that focuses exclusively on the non-profit industrial complex as a key instrument of empire in the 21st century.