"Chase after truth like hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat-tails."
—Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)
(Swans - August 26, 2013) THE BIGGEST FRUSTRATION with reading, watching, or listening to the news is that you are not told the real story. You are served bromide with your food. Recall the Arab Spring over two years ago. It was presented to gullible Westerners through their politicians and their Establishment media as a struggle for democracy, freedom of expression, liberation from authoritarian shackles. It began in Tunisia and spread all the way to Egypt and beyond. The old guard was either killed or thrown away. Elections took place, new constitutions written. Mostly, those elections were won by what was politely defined as moderate Islamists. Do you recall Wael Ghonim, the Facebook genius of Tahrir Square in Cairo? Two years later, he is nowhere to be seen -- back to his comfortable Western job (he must have written a book, I suppose) -- as the army is crushing a young democracy. Why? Because, notwithstanding Ghonim and the cohort of do-gooders financed by Western interests, this entire chain of events from Tunisia to Yemen had little to do with democracy. It had to do with workers losing their jobs, farmers unable to irrigate their land, masses going hungry, energy shortages -- in other words, the impoverishment of entire societies for the benefit of the few.
TWO YEARS LATER, the socioeconomic conditions that created the mayhem have remained the same or become worse. It's not a matter of who is governing -- Muslim, secular, conservative, or liberal. It's a matter of material conditions. Of course, geopolitics, US control of the region (Egypt has a particular importance), oil and gas are very much a part of the game, but I do not need to expand on this. By now you all should know. What's dispiriting is that the Establishment gatekeepers do not utter a word about the dismal conditions of the people living in these countries. In many ways they are faceless, inexistent, except if there is good footage of the spilled blood for the Western audiences. Material conditions: sheer poverty, inequality, hopelessness... Not a peep -- same as two-plus years ago. Then again, if you do not want to know, you simply have to watch TV, listen to the radio, and read your local paper. But if you want to know, as I keep saying, it's all out there. You simply need to make some effort. Too much to ask?
TWO-PLUS YEARS AGO, I wrote a series of Blips covering the Arab Spring. Just go read them. Take your time. They are: Blips #102, Blips #103, Blips #104, and Blips #105. I do not feel like repeating myself. Nothing of what I wrote about could be found in Officialdom. As a friend keeps telling me: Why keep writing and be thoughtful? We reach a modest amount of loyal readers, the plutocracy controls most of the rest...and we are impoverishing ourselves. Yep, it's a tough sale, but we do it because we cannot not do it. It's that simple. For the readers who prefer to ignore my two-year-old blips yet get a sense of the current reality in Egypt, I'd recommend the following article by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, "At the root of Egyptian rage is a deepening resource crisis", published in the digital magazine Quartz on August 19, 2013. You'll learn about energy shortages and economic decline, food scarcity, water shortages, unemployment, social meltdown, heavy debts, and as it goes, much more (like an abysmal infrastructure). By the way, Quartz is not a radical magazine. Those folks are very much part of the mainstream, tech-savvy, new generation of journalists. Their Founding Partners are Chevron, Boeing, Credit Suisse, and Cadillac. The future of Web journalism? Makes me feel old, all of the sudden.
THE SITUATION is alike over most of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Syria is confronted with the same challenges: A rising (young) population, no oil and gas to speak of, water scarcity, lack of food, huge unemployment, etc. It is convenient and so simple to blame President Bashar al-Assad for the brutal mayhem. Assad was partly educated in England. He is fluent in English and can speak French. His wife Asma, though from Syrian background, was born and educated in England -- not particularly the kind of dictatorial couple you find in MENA. It's the deep socioeconomic crisis, which the Syrian regime has been unable to contain, that has brought the rage in part of the population. And it also happens that the Syrian regime has remained independent from the U.S. and kept friendly relations with Iran and Russia, a capital sin in the eyes of Washington and its European allies. Lebanon is facing a similar crisis. Now, just look at what's happening in Iraq. After the "accomplished" (scare quote intentional) American mission and the millions of dead, sick (DU anyone?), displaced, or expulsed (the Christian population is practically eradicated), the country remains worse off than before that pitiful and illegal invasion, before the time Saddam Hussein, the much vilipended leader killed in ignominy, was in power. And there are still pundits, intellectuals, and politicians in the West who keep asserting that it was all worth it, that "the world is better off without Saddam." Look at Afghanistan and see what Bush Jr.'s and Obama's choices have accomplished both for the Afghan and the American people. Go back almost 15 years and see what Clinton and his Western European allies did to achieve the destruction of the People of the South, Yugoslavia (do you remember?). See what war is bequeathing upon the world, who are the torturers and who end up tortured. The information is out there. Just open your eyes.
IT'S ALL about the greenback, natural resources, competition among nation-states, and the ego of very powerful people who control banking, industry, government, and even the Fourth Estate. When you hear these plutocrats talk and advocate democracy on the one hand and use their beautiful military, drones, and secret services to subjugate entire countries, and that it's justified day in and day out by the gatekeepers -- you cannot read any strong dissenting view in the Establishment media -- one is not surprised to learn that Bill Clinton made 17 million dollars in 2012, fetching up to $700,000 for a speaking engagement. These are the people who govern us. You can see the results on a daily basis all around the world as well as in the decrepitude of the U.S. Of course, it's more satisfying for Bush, Bono, Clinton, and Co. to have their own foundation and take an occasional trip to Africa or to Haiti. Maybe they will put the MENA on their busy calendar. What a joke.
BRADLEY MANNING received a 35-year sentence for breaking the law by letting people know what their government was doing behind their back. Certainly Mr. Clinton, Bush, Obama, et al. have done more damage to the country than this young sexually-troubled and naïve person could have ever done but true enough he did not plan and proceed carefully. He has now revealed that he has long felt he was a woman; he wants to be called Chelsea, and begin treatment to change his gender -- another twist to this sad story. More will certainly come out. This kid should never have been prosecuted in the first place. He did not hurt the Nation. He embarrassed the State. Granted, he broke the law but his action did not injure or kill anybody. He could have been put on probation for five or six years and told to work in a military hospital or a physical rehabilitation center for the same period, or longer. What an example of human rights...
. . . . .
C'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can.the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.
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