I am unable to be in the studio this week. Rather than play an older show I am playing the last part of a documentary series made in 2004. The series “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear” is a BBC television series by Adam Curtis. It mainly consists of archive footage, with Curtis narrating. The series was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom in 2004. It has subsequently been aired in multiple countries and shown at various film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
The film compares the rise of the neoconservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, drawing comparisons between their origins, and remarking on similarities between the two groups. More controversially, it argues that radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organisation, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth, or noble lie, perpetuated by leaders of many countries—and particularly neoconservatives in the U.S.—in a renewed attempt to unite and inspire their people after the ultimate failure of utopian ideas. Part 3, played on the show this week is called “The Shadows in the Cave”. Short synopsis:
The neoconservatives use the September 11 attacks, with al-Fadl’s description of al-Qaeda, to launch the War on Terror. The final part addresses the actual rise of al-Qaeda. Curtis argues that, after their failed revolutions, bin Laden and Zawahiri had little or no popular support, let alone a serious complex organisation of terrorists, and were dependent on independent operatives to carry out their new call for jihad. However, the film argues that in order to prosecute bin Laden in absentia for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, U.S. prosecutors had to prove that he is the head of a criminal organisation responsible for the bombings. They find a former associate of bin Laden, Jamal al-Fadl, and pay him to testify that bin Laden is the head of a massive terrorist organisation called “al-Qaeda”. With the September 11 attacks, neoconservatives in the new Republican administration of George W. Bush use this invented concept of an organisation to justify another crusade against a new enemy, culminating in the launch of the War on Terror. After the American invasion of Afghanistan fails to uproot the alleged terrorist organisation, the Bush administration focuses inwards, searching unsuccessfully for terrorist sleeper cells in America. In 2003, they extend the War on Terror to a war on general perceived evils with the invasion of Iraq. The ideas and tactics also spread to the United Kingdom, where Tony Blair uses the threat of terrorism to give him a new moral authority. The repercussions of the neoconservative strategy are also explored, with an investigation of indefinitely-detained terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, many allegedly taken on the word of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance without actual investigation on the part of the United States military, and other forms of “preemption” against non-existent and unlikely threats made simply on the grounds that the parties involved had the potential to become a threat. Curtis specifically attempts to allay fears of a dirty bomb attack, and concludes by reassuring viewers that politicians will eventually have to concede that some threats are exaggerated and others have no foundation in reality. He says, “In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power.”
He has appeared on The Monitor with Mark Bebawi several times in the past, including live unembedded reports from Iraq at the height of the US invasion. Since his return he has written two books – “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,” (Haymarket Books, 2009), and “Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq,” (Haymarket Books, 2007).
More recently Dahr has been covering environmental topics. You can read his latest articles on his website. The interview will focus on the policies of the various parties on climate change.
YahNe Ndgodescribes herself as “Bernie Lover, Ubuntu Promoter, Singer, Writer, Activist, Traveler, Mother, Sister, Auntie, Daughter, Granddaughter, Cousin, Friend, Neighbor, Lover, Human Being” and gained significant attention when a CNN interview she gave went “viral”: YahNe Ndgo explains Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary
She was one of the keynote speakers at the Green Party’s convention in Houston and I interviewed her for Pacifica’s live coverage of that event. I asked her about the Sanders campaign, his supporters’ potential for voting Green, and what motivates her political activities.
Can a Single Injection Save Soldiers Suffering from PTSD? An interview with Matt Farwell
Educational effort to save whales, oceans, and people. An interview with Maris Sidenstecker II
More about this week’s guests:
Matt Farwell was a soldier in the United States Army from 2005 to 2010. After infantry and airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga., he was assigned to the Tenth Mountain Division’s Second Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan for 16 months. Before enlisting, he studied government and history at the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar and graduated from the United World College of the American West as a Davis Scholar. He recently wrote in Playboyof a revolutionary treatment for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The treatment is an anesthetic injection into nerves located in the side of the neck which, in lay terms, resets the veteran’s survival instinct, reducing the brain and body chemicals that lead to many of the emotional, mental and behavioral issues, including suicidality, that veterans endure upon returning home from war. The doctor performing this procedure reports a 70-80% success rate in the nearly 300 patients he has treated. What this treatment is helping to demonstrate, and as many of us with PTSD have seemed to understand for quite some time now, is that there is a biological, chemical or neurological element to PTSD that is resistant to standard psychological or psychiatric treatment.You can read a selection of Matt’s work in Vanity Fair, Maxim, The New York Times, Rolling Stone (w/ Michael Hastings) “America’s Last Prisoner of War”, Rolling Stone (w/ Michael Hastings) “The Spy Who Cracked up in the Cold”, PBS Media Shift. You can follow Matt on twitter here:@mattbfarwell
Maris Sidenstecker IIis co-founder of Save The Whales, founded in 1977. She designed a T-shirt at the age of 14 to save the whales after reading how they were slaughtered and has carried the passion of protecting marine life throughout her life. She developed and implemented hands-on interactive classroom programs for school children and has educated over 280,000 students about protecting the fragile oceans and the life within it. As a student, she assisted with field research on orca pods in Washington State and British Columbia. Maris is also an accomplished artist and followed up her original T-shirt with other designs. B.A. double major in Marine Biology/Zoology from Humboldt State University, California. Awards: Educator of the Year award in 2007 from The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), 2009 Member of The Year by Madison Who’s Who. The Save The Whales campaign is global in scope and dedicated to conservation. Based in Seaside CA, Save The Whales marine biologists’ travel throughout Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties to educate students to help protect the oceans. Each year they educate 6,000-7,000 students with hands-on, science based programs about whales, otters, sea turtles, and endangered species. Saving 10,000 marine animals from death from US Navy Ship Shock tests in 1994 was a ground breaking victory for Save The Whales. They reach an international audience through their website, E-newsletters and Facebook site. Since 1977, Save The Whales has educated over 305,000 school children with hands-on educational programs.
Toby C Jones on America’s Oil Wars and the military-energy complex in the Persian Gulf
Kani Xulam on Turkey’s “Dirty War” Against the Kurds
More about this week’s guests:
Toby C. Jonesis associate professor of history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick where he also directs the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the M.A. program in Global and Comparative History. He teaches courses on global environmental history, energy, and the modern Middle East. Jones has traveled and worked extensively in the Middle East, including in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. His more recent work examines the global history of oil, including the recent energy boom in the United States. During 2008-2009 he was a fellow at Princeton University’s Oil, Energy, and the Middle East project. From 2004 to early 2006 Jones worked as the Persian Gulf political analyst for the International Crisis Group.
Jones is the author of two books. The first, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. The second, Running Dry: Essays on Energy, Water and Environmental Crisis, published by Rutgers University Press, appeared in 2015. He is currently working on a third book, America’s Long War, which is under contract at Harvard University Press. He has written for both scholarly and general audiences, including at the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of American History, Middle East Report, Raritan Quarterly Review, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, the London Review of Books, the New York Times, and elsewhere. In 2015 Jones was recognized as a Rutgers Chancellor’s Scholar for distinguished scholarship.
Jones appears regularly on local and national media discussing political developments and challenges in the Middle East, including at NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now!, and others.
Kani Xulam is director of the American Kurdish Information Network and a native of Kurdistan.He studied International Relations at the University of Toronto, holds a BA in history from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in the International Service program at American University. At the University of Toronto, he represented Kurdistan at the Model United Nations, which passed a nonbinding resolution recognizing the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination.At the University of California Santa Barbara, he was part of a group of peace activists who protested the first Gulf War by taking part in a sit-in at Chancellor’s office in January 1991. Everyone was arrested. Mr. Xulam pled not guilty, defended himself, and was sentenced to 18 hours of community service to plant saplings in Santa Barbara. In 1993, at the urging of Kurdish community leaders in America, he left his family business in Santa Barbara, California to establish the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) in the nation’s capital. AKIN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering Kurdish-American understanding and friendship.
In 1997, he took part in a hunger strike on the steps of the Capitol urging members of Congress to use their good offices on behalf of their imprisoned Kurdish colleagues. 153 members signed a letter urging President Clinton to intervene on the matter. Mr. Xulam, on the advice of his physician, ended his fast on the 32nd day.
Kani Xulam recently wrote the piece “A Kurdish Girl’s Lonely Death,” for CounterPunch and is continuing a vigil outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. — now in its eleventh week — protesting Turkish attacks on Kurds.
This is the last show of 2015 and this week’s Monitor takes a look back at two of important stories from the year. The first is with William R Polk and is focused on the history of economic and political crisis in Greece. The second is with Dahr Jamail and examines climate change. Both of these interviews were conducted in July this year.
An interview with Dahr Jamail on the “Sixth Great Mass Extinction Event” that is already underway.
More about the two guests:
William R. Polk is a graduate of Harvard University (B,A. and Ph.D.) and Oxford University (B.A. and M.A.). He also studied at the Universidad Nacional de Mexico, the Universidad Nacional de Chile, the University of Baghdad and the American University of Beirut. Dr. Polk taught history and Arabic language and literature and helped to found the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University from 1955 to 1961 when President Kennedy appointed him the Member of the Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East, Central Asia and much of Africa. On the Council, he also dealt with a number of special issues including development, refugees and cultural exchange. And there he was the head of various interdepartmental tasks forces on foreign affairs including efforts to end the Algerian war, the revision of American relations with Turkey and the Palestine problem. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he served as one of three members of the Crisis Management Committee. During this period he was asked to become Deputy Commissioner General of UNRWA. In 1965, Dr. Polk resigned from government service to become Professor of History at the University of Chicago. There he established the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and was a founding director of the American Middle Eastern Studies Association. In 1967 he became the founding director (later President) of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs which, among other ventures, hosted the 20th Pugwash Conference on nuclear weapons and did much of the planning for the United Nations Environment Program. He was called back to the White House briefly during the 1967 Middle Eastern war to write a draft peace treaty and to act as assistant to the former Director of the National Security Council and then the President’s special assistant, McGeorge Bundy. In 1970, at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir he successfully negotiated with President Nasser of Egypt a ceasefire on the Suez Canal. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, he grew up there and on a nearby ranch. He attended public school in Fort World and, during the Second World War was trained for the cavalry at the New Mexico Military Institute. After the war ended, he worked on a newspaper in Rome before entering college. He was awarded four Rockefeller Foundation, one Ford and one Guggenheim fellowship and, during his time in government, he received a commendation from the Department of Defense and the Medal of Honor from the Kingdom of Afghanistan. Dr. Polk has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe and speaks several of he languages of those areas. He has written a number of books and has served on the boards of various foundations and businesses. In addition, he has acted as an advisor to the chief executives of a dozen major corporations. Dr. Polk has lectured in over a hundred universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Northwestern, SMU, Texas, UCLA, Berkeley, the University of Colorado, and research institutions including The Council on Foreign Relations, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), Brookings, and the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In addition he has appeared frequently on radio and television programs including CBS, ABC, PBS, BBC, Channel 24 (Paris) and a large number of local stations. He has also spoken to many public affairs groups, clubs and civic organizations.
…the most important development this month is clearly a recently published study in Science that states, unequivocally, that the planet has officially entered its sixth mass extinction event. The study showed that species are already being killed off at rates much faster than they were during the other five extinction events, and warned ominously that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species going extinct.
The lead author of the study, Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México, told reporters that if current rates of ACD, deforestation and pollution are allowed to continue, “Life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on.”
Another alarming feature of the study is that it is admittedly conservative. On page three it states: “We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis.”
On The Monitor this week we take an extended look at the background of the terror attacks in Paris. What are the historical connections are future implications? Our first interview is withJ.Michael Springman and our second is with Christian Parenti.
More about this week’s guests:
J. Michael Springmann wasa career official with both the Commerce and State departments. He was economic/commercial officer in Stuttgart (1977–1980), a commercial attaché in New Delhi (1980–1982), a visa officer in Jeddah (1987–1989), a political/economic officer in Stuttgart (1989–1991), and, finally, an economic analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1991). He recently published the book Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World.
Quote: “During the 1980s, the CIA recruited and trained Muslim operatives to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later, the CIA would move those operatives from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and then to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, traveling on illegal US visas. These US-backed and trained fighters would morph into an organization that is synonymous with jihadist terrorism: al-Qaeda.”
From the book description:
“Thousands of American soldiers and civil servants have lost their lives in the War on Terror. Innocent citizens of many nations, including Americans killed on 9/11, have also paid the ultimate price. While the US government claims to stand against terror, this same government refuses to acknowledge its role in creating what has become a deadly international quagmire. Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World sets the record straight by laying the blame on high-ranking US government officials.
During the 1980s, the CIA recruited and trained Muslim operatives to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later, the CIA would move those operatives from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and then to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, traveling on illegal US visas. These US-backed and trained fighters would morph into an organization that is synonymous with jihadist terrorism: al-Qaeda.
Christian Parenti is author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. He is a professor in the Global Liberal Studies Program at New York University
Quote: “The growing crisis of war and state breakdown in the Middle East is partially driven by climate change. We have to deal with climate change — that is, drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions — or face escalating chaos. Parenti is professor in the global liberal studies program at New York University. He has reported from conflict zones in the Middle East and studies the history of political violence. He said U.S. policies “have repeatedly created failed states” in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. “Trying to overthrow [Syrian leader Bashar] Assad is a very bad idea. Assad is admittedly a dictator who inherited a state from his father but he is doing more than anyone to fight ISIS. Seeking his violent overthrow, as has been U.S. policy, is to court further disaster and a wider swath of misery.”
In an interview published earlier this year, “Climate Change, Militarism, Neoliberalism and the State,” Parenti stated: “Syria is a prime example. There has been a terrible drought there, which coincided with austerity measures imposed by the Assad government cutting aid to Sunni farmers. Many of them were forced to leave the land, partly due to drought, partly due to the lack of support to properly deal with the drought. Then, they arrive in cities, and there’s more austerity taking place. This is experienced as oppression by the Alawite elite against an increasingly impoverished Sunni proletariat who’ve been thrown off their land.
“This situation then explodes as religious conflict, which is really the fusion of environmental crises with neoliberal economic policies. Of course, the violent spark to all of this is the fact that the entire region is flooded with weapons. Some of these weapons are from the Cold War, and some of those guns are from recent U.S. militarism in the region. There were a lot of vets of the anti-U.S. struggle in Iraq who are Syrian — Mujahideen veterans who went to Iraq and came back to Syria and started to fight. There were Syrians who were selling guns to Iraqi underground groups. These groups were buying their guns back, and re-importing them to Syria.”
Mae Ngai on Immigration Reform – how it happened before and how it can happen again
Paul PazyMiño on Chevron’s RICO Case – the star witness admits to lying and the case collapses
More about this week’s guests:
Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010). Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Boston Review. Before becoming a historian she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education. She is now working on Yellow and Gold: The Chinese Mining Diaspora, 1848-1908, a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in the nineteenth-century California, the Australian colony of Victoria, and the South African Transvaal.
“When Johnson signed the Hart-Celler Act, he hailed it as a milestone for civil rights — and, in many ways, it was. The signal achievement of the act was to abolish the noxious quota system, in effect since 1924, which numerically restricted immigration and allocated visas for permanent residents (green cards) according to national origin and race. The quota structure favored immigration from Northern and Western Europe, restricted it from Eastern and Southern Europe, and excluded Asians altogether. The 1965 immigration act got rid of this blatantly racist system and replaced it with one based on individual qualifications, giving preference to those with skills and those with family members in the United States. To further make the system fair, it set a uniform cap on all countries at 7 percent of the annual total.
Moreover, for all its liberal intentions, Hart-Celler was decidedly illiberal in crucial respects: It imposed numerical limits on the countries of the Western Hemisphere, which previously had no such quotas. At the same time, it subjected all countries to the same maximum limit of 20,000 new admissions a year (when Congress raised the overall ceiling by 40 percent in 1990, the country cap went up to just 26,500). Treating Mexico and India ‘equally’ with, say, New Zealand and Belgium reflected the civil-rights era’s emphasis on abstract, formal equality. However, it also guaranteed that a significant portion of Mexican immigration would be unauthorized, because ongoing labor-market demands far exceeded legal avenues for entry.”
Paul Paz y Miño is the Director of Outreach & Online Strategy at AmazonWatch. Paul joined Amazon Watch in 2007. He has an MA in International Affairs from George Washington University. Since 1995, he has volunteered as Colombia Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA and was the Guatemala/Chiapas Program Director at the Seva Foundation for seven years. Paul has lived in Chiapas, Mexico and Quito, Ecuador, promoting human rights and community development and working directly with indigenous communities. Paul is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and served on the board of Peace Brigades International USA. Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulpaz
“In March of last year, California-based oil giant Chevron hailed a sweeping victory in a two-decade long legal battle in the Ecuadorean Amazon. A New York federal judge, Lewis Kaplan, ruled that a $9.5 billion Lago Agrio judgment leveled against the company by the small Andean country’s highest court, was obtained by way of fraud and coercion.
In his decision, based on violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the judge found that the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Steven Donziger, committed mail fraud, engaged in coercion, and paid bribes in order to win judgment against Texaco, which Chevron brought in 2001.
The case largely hung on Chevron’s star witness, Alberto Guerra, a former Ecuadorean judge who has admitted to receiving substantial amounts of money and other benefits to cooperate with Chevron. In New York, Guerra testified that he had struck a deal between the plaintiffs and the presiding judge, Nicolas Zambrano: Guerra would ghostwrite the verdict, Zambrano would sign it, and the two would share an alleged $500,000 in kickbacks from the plaintiffs.”