Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CLIMATE CHANGE

FOR STARTERS:

WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE?

The issues:
1.Are humans responsible for most of the global temperature rise of the past century or so, or is the increase just a typical fluctuation in global temperature?
2. If most of the temperature rise can be attributed to increases in anthropogenic CO2 emissions, what are the likely consequences if no action is taken to curb these emissions?

What is the evidence?  Is it compelling?
§What is the scientific consensus?
§Climate models and their predictions
§Consequences of the predictions
§Strategies for change

Chemistry we need to learn

§The Earth’s energy balance - the greenhouse effect
§The shapes of molecules - valence shell electron pair repulsion (VSEPR) theory
§Molecular vibrations – how they absorb IR radiation
§Masses and moles - weighing to count molecules
Earth’s atmospher
    a) The Earth is about 33OC warmer than 
expected if we consider only the amount of solar energy received and reflected.
b) Trace atmospheric gases, H2O and CO2, trap 
infrared radiation that would otherwise be re-
emitted into space.
c) This effect is known as the Greenhouse Effect the mechanism that keeps greenhouses hotter than we might expect.




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meet Bibi Netanyahu's Refusenik Nephew Who Says That Israel Is an Apartheid State

"JH: You’ve written a piece in the Christian Science Monitor.You wrote, “If Americans truly are our friends, they would shake us up and take away the keys. Because right now we are driving drunk. And without this wakeup call we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.”
Can you unpack that for us? What do you think the American government should be doing in terms of trying to advance a real peace in this region?
JBA: There’s a hidden assumption in your question. When you say, "What should the American government be doing to promote peace?" you’re assuming the American government wants peace.
Among liberals who give a lot of thought to American and Middle East issues there are two competing views. There are some, like Chomsky, who would say that the US is the dominant power, and within that there are various interests, like corporations. Any other player around the world basically does what the US bids them to do.
There’s this competing view which is at least primarily raised by two professors from Chicago and Harvard [Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer]. It’s about the Israel lobby, and it holds that Israel has a lot of control over US politics. I lean more towards the Chomsky point of view. In that sense I’m taking back some of the things I actually wrote, because I think that a lot of what Israel does is with the consent and pushing of the US.
The US is fully complicit in everything. What I still think holds is that the American population has a lot of influence, but they don’t know many things. The American population has it in their interests to have good health insurance, or to have a controlled Wall Street. That is not happening, because that’s the way the political system is designed."
SOURCE: http://www.alternet.org/world/meet-bibi-netanyahus-refusenik-nephew-who-says-israel-apartheid-state

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saving Palestine’s Children Under The Arms Trade Treaty By Vacy Vlazna 24 April, 2015 Countercurrents.org

"Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) released this month a comprehensive and heartbreaking report,OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE: A WAR WAGED ON GAZA’S CHILDREN. detailing,
that places that should have provided children with shelter and safety were not immune from attacks by Israeli forces. Missiles fired from Israeli drones and warplanes, artillery shelling, and shrapnel scattered by explosions killed children in their homes, on the street as they fled from attacks with their families, and as they sought shelter from the bombardment in schools. (DCIP)
The lives of Palestine’s children should be better protected since 24 December 2014, when he Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) became binding in international law requiring states to end the transfer of arms that would be used in war crimes and genocide:
Article 6: 3. A State Party shall not authorize any transfer of conventional arms covered under Article 2 (1) or of items covered under Article 3 or Article 4, if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party.
The ATT has been ratified by 66 states and 64 have signed but not ratified including the USA and Israel. Notwithstanding, Israel is a prime target for ATT sanctions. Silencing Israel’s jibber-jabber of ‘self defense, the documentary, The Lab by Israeli Yotam Feldman, reveals that 1.6 million Gazans are locked in an Israeli military laboratory where weaponry is battle-tested. Billions of international dollars from western defense departments, fuel the demand and validate Israeli atrocities;
“A key player in the military industries told me that the operational testing in Gaza of Elbit’s BMS (Battle Management System – a special internet-like system for ground forces), a huge project worth $1 billion, has allowed Elbit to raise its price in a deal signed a year later with Australia. The same goes for Rafael. The company stated openly that it would capitalize on the escalation that preceded operation Pillar of Defense..A salesman for the IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) told me that assassinations and operations in Gaza bring about an increase of tens of percentage points in company sales”. Yotam Feldman
As a military economy, Israel has a pragmatic interest in maintaining the siege on Gaza and its occupation of Palestine,
…the Israeli economy is so much dependent on these operations. It's 20 percent of the exports. It's 150,000 families--not people--in Israel actually dependent on this industry. Feldman
To boost Israeli arms sales, Palestinian families have suffered three onslaughts of ‘systematic genocide’ wars in 6 years and are condemned to a life that is unnatural and traumatic waiting for the next Israeli weapons testing. Gaza is a cemetery for over a thousand war-slaughtered children, a sealed death camp for 800,000 maimed and traumatised surviving children waiting for the next inevitable Israeli bombardment and stark terror.
Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity must be considered in human suffering such as the tragedy of little Hamza Mus'ab Almadani, 3, of Khan Younis, Gaza.
Photo by Hassan Rabie
On 25th July 2014, Israel’s soldiers loaded and fired artillery shells that discharged hundreds of phosphorous-impregnated felt wedges that struck and burrowed through his soft three year old skin. Phosphorous continues burning until the oxygen is cut off and even then, the extreme pain and the horrific tissue damage endures.
The agonising pain and trauma turned a once happy and boisterous child, mute. Hamza can no longer speak, a common symptom of trauma among Gaza’s children terrified by Israel’s relentless and tumultuous bombardments watched on TV and distant hillsides by cheering Israelis in front-row seats.
Decent people can neither comprehend nor tolerate Israel’s war mongering against Palestinian children and their families whom Israel has hemmed in with no escape. The ’most moral army in the world’ is a vile coward - ultimately shooting innocent Palestinians like fish in a barrel - for profit.
Corporate Watch states, “85% of drones used by the Israeli military are manufactured by Elbit’ and sets out the Use of Elbit's equipment in Gaza, Elbit is Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer and is complicit in the direct targeting of children:
Israel, the world’s largest exporter of aerial drones, killed at least 164 children in drone attacks during its assault on Gaza.5 In a number of incidents, evidence suggests that Israeli forces directly targeted children. In one such case, Rawya Joudeh, 40, and four of her five children were killed by an Israeli drone-fired missile as they played together in the family’s yard in Tal al-Zatar, Jabalia refugee camp, North Gaza, on the afternoon of August 24. The children were aged between 6 and 14. (DCIP)
Elbit Systems, during Israel’s 51 day war on Gaza was occupied in protest by UK and Australian activists to bring attention to Elbit’s complicity in the monstrous destruction of Gaza.
Elbit is owned by the Federman Group. Chairman Michael Federman is also chairman of the Hebrew University which has R & D links, as do most Israeli universities, to Israel’s major arms companies, Rafael, Elbit, IMI, IAI.
For this reason alone, academic boycotts are justified.
Other Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) actions against Elbit are divestments by Aegon, a Dutch financial services organisation, by the Norwegian Pension Fund, Danksk Bank and PKA Ltd, Denmark’s largest pension fund managers, and by Första AP-Fonden, the largest of Sweden's pension funds.
Conversely, the EU deplorably bestows Elbit with,
generous, taxpayer funded, EU grants under the EU's Horizon 2020 research programme. The company benefited from involvement in 5 European projects under the Seventh Framework Programme for research and tecnological development. (Corporate Watch)
Global arms sanctions will end Israel’s profit from the death of children. Western governments have multiple import and export defence contracts with Israeli private and government arms manufacturers worth billions of dollars: Can these governments guarantee their exports have not contributed to Israel’s war crimes? No.
The Arms Trade Treaty was the centrepiece of Australia’s presidency of the Security Council. Australia’s, FM Julie Bishop, and her fellow Israelophiles, i.e. the majority of western leaders, will be challenged, by unrelenting grass roots pressure, to honour their legal obligations under the ATT..
“The Arms Trade Treaty,” Bishop told the UN, “will help stop destabilising arms flows to conflict regions and to illicit users. It will prevent human rights abusers and those who violate the laws of war from being supplied with arms.”
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001."
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

INTERVIEW OF NOAM CHOMSKY ABOUT HIS BOOK MANUFACTURING CONSENT AND ROLE OF MEDIA

In "Manufacturing Consent," Noam Chomsky posits that Western corporate media is structurally bound to "manufacture consent" in the interests of dominant, elite groups in society. With "filters" which determine what gets to become "news" -- including media ownership, advertising, and "flak," he shows how propaganda can pervade the "free" media in an ostensibly democratic Western society through self-censorship. However, lot has changed since then. We now have the Internet. The so-called legacy media organizations which have been "manufacturing consent" according to Chomsky are in massive financial trouble. Has any of his analysis changed? I recently interviewed Noam Chomsky at his MIT office, to find out his views on the current media landscape.
Seung-yoon Lee: Twenty-seven years ago, you wrote in "Manufacturing Consent" that the primary role of the mass media in Western democratic societies is to mobilize public support for the elite interests that lead the government and the private sector. However, a lot has happened since then. Most notably, one could argue that the Internet has radically decentralized power and eroded the power of traditional media, and has also given rise to citizen journalism. News from Ferguson, for instance, emerged on Twitter before it was picked up by media organizations. Has the Internet made your "Propaganda Model" irrelevant?

Noam Chomsky: Actually, we have an updated version of the book which appeared about 10 years ago with a preface in which we discuss this question. And I think I can speak for my co-author, you can read the introduction, but we felt that if there have been changes, then this is one of them. There are other [changes], such as the decline in the number of independent print media, which is quite striking.

As far as we can see, the basic analysis is essentially unchanged. It's true that the Internet does provide opportunities that were not easily available before, so instead of having to go to the library to do research, you can just open up your computer. You can certainly release information more easily and also distribute different information from many sources, and that offers opportunities and deficiencies. But fundamentally, the system hasn't changed very much.

Seung-yoon Lee: Emily Bell, director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, said the following in her recent speech at Oxford: "News spaces are no longer owned by newsmakers. The press is no longer in charge of the free press and has lost control of the main conduits through which stories reach audiences. The public sphere is now operated by a small number of private companies, based in Silicon Valley." Nearly all content now is published on social platforms, and it's not Rupert Murdoch but Google's Larry Page and Sergei Brin and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg who have much more say in how news is created and disseminated. Are they "manufacturing consent" like their counterparts in so-called 'legacy' media?
"I use Google all the time, I'm happy it's there. But just as when I read the New York Timesor the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal knowing that they have ways of selecting and shaping the material that reaches you, you have to compensate for it."
Noam Chomsky: Well, first of all, I don't agree with the general statement. Say, right now, if I want to find out what's going on in Ukraine or Syria or Washington, I read the New York Times, other national newspapers, I look at the Associated Press wires, I read the British press, and so on. I don't look at Twitter because it doesn't tell me anything. It tells me people's opinions about lots of things, but very briefly and necessarily superficially, and it doesn't have the core news. And I think it's the opposite of what you quoted -- the sources of news have become narrower.

So, for example, take where we are now, Boston. Boston used to have a very good newspaper, The Boston Globe. It still exists but it's a pale shadow of what it was 20 or 30 years ago. It used to have bureaus around the world, fine correspondents and some of the best journalism on Central America during the Central American wars, and good critical journalism on domestic events and on many other topics. Go to a newsstand and have a look now. What you see is local news, pieces from the wire services, some pieces from The New York Times, and very little else.

Now that's happened around the country, and in fact, around the world. And it's a narrowing of these sources of journalism about what's happening on the ground. That doesn't mean that reports in the NYT have to be read uncritically, or those inThe Guardian or The Independent or anywhere else. Sure, they have to be read critically, but at least they're there. There are journalists there on the scene where major events are taking place and, now there are fewer of them than before, so that's a narrowing of the sources of news. On the other hand, there is a compensating factor. It's easier now to read the press from other countries than it was 20 years ago because of instead having to go to the library or the Harvard Square International Newsstand, I can look it up on the Internet. So you have multiple effects. As far as Silicon Valley is concerned, say Google, I'm sure they're trying to manufacture consent. If you want to buy something, let's say, you look it up on Google. We know how it works. The first things on the list are the ones that advertise. That doesn't mean that they're the most important ones. But it's a reflection of their business model, which is of course based on advertising, which is one of the filters [in our model], in fact.

I use Google all the time, I'm happy it's there. But just as when I read the New York Times or the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal knowing that they have ways of selecting and shaping the material that reaches you, you have to compensate for it. With Google, and others of course, there is an immense amount of surveillance to try to obtain personal data about individuals and their habits and interactions and so on, to shape the way information is presented to them. They do more [surveillance] than the NSA.

Seung-yoon Lee: In his essay "Bad News about News," Robert G. Kaiser, former editor of the Washington Post says, "News as we know it is at risk. So is democratic governance, which depends on an effective watchdog news media. Both have been undermined by changes in society wrought by digital technologies -- among the most powerful forces ever unleashed by mankind." Not only are the biggest news organizations like the New York Times, and the Washington Post (which was sold to the founder of Amazon for U.S. $250 million, a small fraction of its worth just a few years before), and others are financially suffering and lack a clear roadmap for survival, but also numerous local newspapers across the United States and United Kingdom are shutting down every week. I know you see some of these organizations as "manufacturers of consent," but how can we fund quality journalism in this new digital age?

Noam Chomsky: 
How is the BBC funded?
Seung-yoon Lee: By the public.
Noam Chomsky: And take the United States. When the United States was founded, there was an understanding of the first amendment that it has a double function: it frees the producer of information from state control, but it also offers people the right to information. As a result, if you look at postwar laws, they were designed to yield an effective public subsidy to journals in an effort to try to provide the widest range of opinion, information and so on. And that's a pretty sensible model. And it goes back to the conception of negative and positive liberty. You have only negative liberty, that is, freedom from external control, or you have positive liberty to fulfill your legitimate goals in life -- in this case, gaining information. And that's a battle that's been fought for centuries. Right after the Second World War, in the United States, there was major debate and controversy about whether the media should serve this double function of giving both freedom from x amount of control -- that was accepted across the board -- and additionally, the function of providing the population with fulfilling its right to access a wide range of information or opinion. The first model, which is sometimes called corporate libertarianism, won out. The second model was abandoned. It's one of the reasons why the U.S. only has extremely marginal national radio businesses compared to other countries. It relates to what you're asking -- an alternative model is public support for the widest possible range of information and analysis and that should, I think, be a core part of a functioning democracy.
Seung-yoon Lee: In the absence of a good business model, new media organizations from Buzzfeed to Vice have pioneered so-called "native advertising," a form of online advertising that seeks to fool the consumer into believing that they are reading "editorial" content rather than paid advertisements. Basically, they are advertorials. Ironically, even a progressive newspaper like The Guardian publishes sponsored content from Goldman Sachs. What's your view on native advertising?

Noam Chomsky: This [native advertising] is exaggerating and intensifying a problem that is serious and shouldn't even exist in the first place. The reliance of a journal on advertisers shapes and controls and substantially determines what is presented to the public. Again, if you go back to our book, it's one of the filters. And if you look back, the very idea of advertiser reliance radically distorts the concept of free media. If you think about what the commercial media are, no matter what, they are businesses. And a business produces something for a market. The producers in this case, almost without exception, are major corporations. The market is other businesses -- advertisers. The product that is presented to the market is readers (or viewers), so these are basically major corporations providing audiences to other businesses, and that significantly shapes the nature of the institution. You can determine by common sense that it would, but if you investigate it up front as well, it does [bear out], so what you're now talking about is an intensification of something which shouldn't exist in the first place.

Seung-yoon Lee: I was shocked to see that the global PR firm Edelman did some research on whether readers can actually tell whether what they are reading is an advertisement or an article... and 60 percent of readers didn't notice that they were reading adverts.

Noam Chomsky: And that's always been true. The effect of advertiser reliance and public relations firms is noticeable in the nature of what the media produce, both in their news and commentary. And how could it be otherwise, that's the market.
"I'm in favor of freedom of speech, but if somebody decided to put up a big advertisement in Times Square, New York, glorifying the sending of Jews to gas chambers, I don't think it should be stopped by the state, but I'm not in favor of it."
Seung-yoon Lee: Recently, The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency through Edward Snowden. Such reporting surely undermines the idea of what you would call the "elite interest" that dominates the government and private sector. Does this case undermine your propaganda model or is it an exception to the rule?

Noam Chomsky: For the propaganda model, notice what we explain there very explicitly is that this is a first approximation -- and a good first approximation -- for the way the media functions. We also mention that there are many other factors. In fact, if you take a look at the book "Manufacturing Consent," about practically a third of the book, which nobody seems to have read, is a defense of the media from criticism by what are called civil rights organizations -- Freedom House in this case. It's a defense of the professionalism and accuracy of the media in their reporting, from a harsh critique which claimed that they were virtually traitors undermining government policy. We should have known, on the other hand, that they were quite professional.

The media didn't like that defense because what we said is -- and this was about the Tet Offensive -- that the reporters were very honest, courageous, accurate, and professional, but their work was done within a framework of tacit acquiescence to a propaganda system that was simply unconscious. The propaganda system was "what we're doing in Vietnam is obviously right and just." And that passively supports the doctrinal system. But on the other hand, it was also undermining the government. It was showing that government claims are false. And take, say, the exposure of Watergate, or the exposure of business corruption. One of the best sources of information on business corruption is the businessperson. The media do quite a lot of very good exposes on this, but the business world is quite willing to tolerate the exposure of corruption. The business world is also quite willing to tolerate exposure of governments intervening in personal life and business life in a way that they don't like, as they don't want a powerful and intrusive state. That's not to criticize The Guardian and The Post for providing an outlet for the Snowden/Greenwald material - of course they should have, they're professional journalists. There are a lot of factors, but we picked out factors we think are very significant but not all-inclusive, and as a matter of fact, we gave counter-examples.

Seung-yoon Lee: And do you think this is a counter-example, in some sense

Noam Chomksy: It's not a counter example, it's a demonstration that there are other things. That in addition to the major factors, there are also minor factors which we discussed, like professionalism and professional integrity, which is also a factor.

Seung-yoon Lee: Do you think that crowdfunding can help make journalism more independent?

Noam Chomsky: I think it's a good general principle that almost anything that increases the variety and range of available media is beneficial. Of course, this particular approach will have its own problems. Every approach does. There's no ideal type with no problems connected with it, but in general the wider the range of variety of what's available, the better off you are.

Seung-yoon Lee: Can I ask your opinion on Charlie Hebdo? What do you think of this 'freedom of speech no matter what' principle?

Noam Chomsky: Well, I think we should strongly support freedom of speech. I think one of the good things about the United States, incidentally, as distinct from England, is that there is much higher protection of freedom of speech. But freedom of speech does not mean a lack of responsibility. So, for example, I'm in favor of freedom of speech, but if somebody decided to put up a big advertisement in Times Square, New York, glorifying the sending of Jews to gas chambers, I don't think it should be stopped by the state, but I'm not in favor of it.

Seung-yoon Lee: Also, regarding the specific incident of Charlie Hebdo, do you think the cartoonists lacked responsibility?


Noam Chomsky: Yes, I think they were kind of acting in this case like spoiled adolescents, but that doesn't justify killing them. I mean, I could say the same about a great deal that appears in the press. I think it's quite irresponsible often. For example, when the press in the United States and England supported the worst crime of this century, the invasion of Iraq, that was way more irresponsible than whatCharlie Hebdo did. It led to the destruction of Iraq and the spread of the sectarian conflict that's tearing the region to shreds. It was a really major crime. Aggression is the supreme international crime under international law. Insofar as the press supported that, that was deeply irresponsible, but I don't think the press should be shut down.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seungyoon-lee/noam-chomsky-twitter-interview_b_7064462.html

Noam Chomsky on How the Iraq War Birthed ISIS & Why U.S. Policy Undermines the Fight Against It

"As Iraq launches a new military operation to retake the city of Tikrit from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, thousands of Iraqi forces and militia fighters have converged in the city Samarra to strike nearby ISIS strongholds. The United States is expected to provide air support as part of its continued bombing campaign. The offensive comes as the Iraqi military prepares for a major U.S.-backed operation to retake Mosul from ISIS in the coming weeks. ISIS "is one of the results of the United States hitting a very vulnerable society with a sledgehammer, which elicited sectarian conflicts that had not existed," says Noam Chomsky. "It is hard to see how Iraq can even be held together at this point. It has been devastated by U.S. sanctions, the war, the atrocities that followed from it. The current policy, whatever it is, is not very likely to even patch up or even put band-aids on a cancer."

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Aaron Maté. Noam Chomsky is our guest for the hour, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author of over a hundred books, MIT professor emeritus. Aaron?
AARON MATÉ: Yes. Noam, I wanted to ask you about ISIS. The big news is that Iraq is planning a major offensive to retake Mosul. It’s currently launching strikes to recapture Tikrit with U.S. support. My question is about the effectiveness of the U.S. strategy. To what extent is the U.S. constrained by its own policies in terms of the effectiveness of defeating ISIS, constrains in terms of its ties to Saudi Arabia and its refusal to engage with Iran and groups like Hezbollah, which have been effective in fighting ISIS?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Patrick Cockburn, who has done by far the best reporting on this, describes it as an Alice in Wonderland strategy. The U.S. wants to destroy ISIS, but it’s opposing every force that’s fighting ISIS. So, the main state that’s opposed to ISIS is Iran. They support the Iraqi government, the Shiite government. But Iran is, you know, on our enemies list. Probably the main ground forces fighting ISIS are the PKK and its allies, which are on the U.S. terrorist list. That’s both in Iraq and in Syria. Saudi Arabia, our major ally, along with Israel, is both traditionally, for a long time, the main funder of ISIS and similar groups—not necessarily the government; rich Saudis, other people in the emirates—not only the funder, but they’re the ideological source. Saudi Arabia is committed, is dominated by an extremist fundamentalist version of Islam: Wahhabi doctrine. And ISIS is an extremist offshoot of the Wahhabi doctrine. Saudi Arabia is a missionary state. It establishes schools, mosques, spreading its radical Islamic version. So, they’re our ally. Our enemies are those who are fighting ISIS. And it’s more complex.
ISIS is a monstrosity. There’s not much doubt about that. It didn’t come from nowhere. It’s one of the results of the U.S. hitting a very vulnerable society—Iraq—with a sledgehammer, which elicited sectarian conflicts that had not existed. They became very violent. The U.S. violence made it worse. We’re all familiar with the crimes. Out of this came lots of violent, murderous forces. ISIS is one. But the Shiite militias are not that different. They’re carrying out—they’re the kind of the—when they say the Iraqi army is attacking, it’s probably mostly the Shiite militias with the Iraqi army in the background. I mean, the way the Iraqi army collapsed is an astonishing military fact. This is an army of, I think, 350,000 people, heavily armed by the United States and trained by the United States for 10 years. A couple of thousand guerrillas showed up, and they all ran away. The generals ran away first. And the soldiers didn’t know to do. They ran away after them.
AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Hmm?
AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah. Well, now, it’s basically—the effect, it’s hard to see how Iraq can even be held together at this point. It’s been devastated by U.S. sanctions, the war, the atrocities that followed from it. The current policy, whatever it is, is not very likely to even patch up, put band-aids on the cancer.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we’ll continue this discussion tomorrow on Democracy Now! Our guest, Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."
SOURCE: http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/2/noam_chomsky_on_how_the_iraq

Friday, April 17, 2015

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: THE RISE OF DISASTER CAPITALISM BY NAOMI KLEIN

This is a very disturbing book about the exploitation of disaster shocked people and countries. It is how governments of the world use corporations and organizations do their dirty work. It is about how the CIA funded Dr. Ewan Cameron of the McGill University in the 1950’s to produce a manual on torture that is still used today by the US Military in Guantanamo prison, Cuba. The “manual” has been exported and sold around the world as the torture of choice training manual. Google>>Kubark torture manual. Naomi Klein presents very much a leftist point of view. However, she does provide enough balance for the reader to come to their own conclusion. After reading this book, you will never read a national or international publication in the same way as you have in past. You will have a deeper understanding on how our “free world” really works. If you are interested in investing in the world markets, this is essential reading.

How does shock doctrine work? 

 The original disaster – the coup, the terrorist attack, the market meltdown, the war, the tsunami, the hurricane – puts the entire population into a state of collective shock. The falling bombs, the bursts of terror, the pounding winds serve to soften up whole societies much as the blaring music and blows in the torture cells soften up prisoners. Like the terrorized prisoner who gives up the names of comrades and renounces his faith, shocked societies often give up things they would otherwise fiercely protect. 2  Joseph Stiglitz the chief economist of the World Bank described the shock doctrine this way>> ”Only a blitzkrieg approach during the window of opportunity provided by the fog of transition would get the changes made before the population had a chance to organize to protect its previous vested interests.”  Chapter 12 makes a case that the political and economic power brokers of the world are more than willing to orchestrate a “crisis” to achieve their economic and political goals. Startling facts are provided to support this claim. As a financial planner, I often paint a picture of a crisis if my client does not have a proper will. This in my opinion is an acceptable strategy to move my client to action……..prepare a will. On the other hand, if I paint a picture of a crisis that is not only fictional but has no basis of truth, this is gross manipulation. This is an unacceptable sales practice. Farther up the economic food chain, this is gross manipulation of national and international facts. However, these “players” do not have to live by the same rules as you and I do!!  The 2005 Katrina New Orleans hurricane is an example of the shock doctrine>> US Republican Congressman Richard Baker for this city was quoted as saying “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it but God did”. Klein provides many more examples of “disaster capitalism” from the Katrina disaster.  Milton Friedman the University of Chicago professor and grand guru of the movement for unfettered capitalism is referred to throughout the book on examples of disaster capitalism in various parts of the world. For more than 30 years, Friedman and his powerful followers have been perfecting this very strategy>>waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the “reforms” permanent.  Freidman’s laissez-faire style of capitalism is the purest form of capitalism and not always with intended consequences.  Freidman observed that “only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.  Freidman was convinced that once a crisis struck it was crucial to act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisisracked society slipped back into normal life. He felt that “injuries” should be inflicted “all at once.” He estimated that a new 3 administration has some six to nine months in which to achieve major changes; if it does not seize the opportunity to act decisively during that period, it will not have another such opportunity.  Freidman coined a phrase for this painful tactic: economic shock treatment or shock therapy.  Page 161>>radical and highly profitable policies of the Chicago School can’t survive in a democratic system. However, in Margaret Thatcher’s second term in Great Britain, she was able to pull it off. The Falkland’s War, created the crisis to achieve her goals.  Countries and events that have experienced Freidman’s economic shock treatment: 1. Chile, starting with Pinochet’s coup on 11 September 1973 2. Argentina in the 1970’s suffered under the Chicago School policies 3. Bolivia 1985>>US aid was assured if the Bolivian government followed the shock doctrine. Bolivia achieved their goals without the blood shed of the Pinochet plan in Chile. The plan was implemented in 100 days. Leaders that resisted the plan temporarily “disappeared” and were only allowed to return if they agreed to support the plan. 4. The Volcker Shock (debt crisis) of the early 1980’s 5. The Falklands War in 1982 allowed Margaret Thatcher to rebound in the poles and win another election and launch the first privatization frenzy in Western democracy 6. China 20 May 1989>>Tiananmen Square massacre>>the protestors wanted democracy without the shock treatment and the government wanted Friedman style capitalism and still keep its own grip on power. 7. Russian in 1993>>Boris Yeltson’s decision to send in tanks to set fire to the parliament buildings 8. The Mexican Tequila Crisis in 1994 9. The Asia financial crisis of 1997/98 cracked open the Asian markets for the “world’s biggest going-out-of-business sale”. 10. The Russian Collapse in 1998 11.The NATO attack on Belgrade in 1999 created the conditions for rapid privatizations in the former Yugoslavia – a goal that predated the war. 12.11 September 2001 “War on Terror” an almost completely forprofit venture. The global “homeland security industry” is now a $200 billion sector 4 13.The 2003 Iraq invasion 14.The 2004 Tsunami>>seaside fishing villages were quickly converted to seaside resorts in Sri Lanka before the people could protest 15.Katrina>>2005 16. Disaster capitalism is taking shape

Chapter one>>the torture lab: 

 In the mid 1950’s Dr. Ewan Cameron from the McGill University did some interesting work on torture. 80 institutions were involved including 48 universities and 12 hospitals.  The CIA chose Canada for these experiments because they could not do this kind of work in the USA. (A product that I am not exactly proud to say is “made in Canada”)  It is now codified in the Kubark manual and disseminated through extensive CIA training programs. Google>> Kubark for the rest of the story.  Sadly, as a means of extracting information during interrogations, torture is notoriously unreliable, but as a means of terrorizing and controlling population, nothing is quite as effective.  I found this chapter so distressing; I did not feel good about summarizing it. I will leave it up to you to read. Friedman’s style of capitalism: 1. Governments must remove all rules and regulations standing in the way of the accumulation of profits 2. They should sell off any assets they own that corporations could be running at a profit 3. They should dramatically cut back funding of social programs. 5 Wayne Taylor’s observation on this style of capitalism:  The stock market crash of 2000 and the subprime mortgage & ABCP crisis are just two reasons why we should not trust corporations to do it “their way”.  A moving force in the world is the investment focus on BRIC countries: 1. Brazil 2. Russia 3. India 4. China The question begs to be asked, will there be any Shock Doctrine tactics employed to achieve these economic goals? If so, who will win? Who will lose? Profits are great, but at what cost? The consensus I have arrived at in this book is that once you get past the hype and spin of disaster capitalism, such portrayed in Moscow, Warsaw, Buenos Aires and Seoul, you get a very different picture. Page 135 of the book makes an interesting observation>>the Khmer Rouge used the following language to justify their slaughter in Cambodia. “What is infected must be cut out”. All though this is an extreme example to use, what other tactics or strategies can our corporations and governments use to achieve their goals? Klein dedicated chapter ten to South Africa’s dilemma>>deep in debt the government could accept the shock doctrine strategy and pay their debt or default:  Honouring the debt meant that social programs could not be provided as “promised” with the ANC’s Freedom Charter. South Africa would be forced to sell off many of their national assets just to meet their debt obligations.  Defaulting on the debt meant that the world markets would punish them and the financial and social consequences could have been worse.  An interesting dilemma>>similar challenges face an individual in managing their own finances and that of a country. If an individual goes bankrupt, they pay a financial price for future credit because there are perceived as a higher risk. 6 Two schools that promoted the Friedman style of economics worldwide: 1. The University of Chicago known as the “Chicago Boys” 2. The University of California at Berkley know as the “Berkley Mafia” Corporations and organizations that are named in this book and participated in the many of the misdeeds mentioned and many times acted at the bequest of their home governments:
 The Ford Foundation
 Mercedes-Benz
 Ford
 General Motors
 Fiat Concord

Economic crisis: 

 If an economic crisis hits is severe enough, it blows everything else out of the water and leaders are liberated to do whatever is necessary (or said to be necessary) in the name of responding to a national emergency.  Chicago School economists argued that just as market crashes could precipitate left-wing revolutions, so too could they be used to spark right-wing counter-revolutions, a theory that became knows as “the crisis hypothesis”  Shock and awe>>economic policy changes that use the shock doctrine strategies are likened to military tactics such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. If dozens of policy changes come from all directions at once, a feeling of futility sets in, and the populations go limp.  Economic programs that would normally not be supported in normal times are readily accepted by the traumatized citizens in times of crisis. Ie. financial meltdowns or as the Bush administration after 9/11  The IMF and World Bank have many of the Chicago Boys on their staff ready to offer “help” to countries in crisis, only if they accept their economic policies. Often the policies are obfuscated ( This refers to the concept of concealing the meaning of communication by making it more confusing and harder to interpret) 7 Chapter nine provides an interesting review of history in Poland and the Lech Walesa Solidarity movement in 1980. The Solidarity leaders were sold on using the “shock therapy” as a way to renew Poland. IMF funding for the Polish economy was conditional on Solidarity’s submitting to shock therapy. This was a painful time for Poland. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book and a lesson for other countries that choose to go down this path.  A strategy of the shock therapy movement is to handcuff governments with rules and regulations from international and local trade agreements, the IMF, the World Bank and GATT etc all designed to constrain and confine the power of elected leaders at the local or regional level. This strategy should not be ignored. It can impact the ability of elected leaders to act for the people at the national, provincial and local levels of government. At the county or community level, a request of the citizens could be overpowered by a national or international agreement made without the input from the citizen.  Chapter ten focuses on South Africa. The ANC under the leadership of Nelson Mandela in the 1990’s realized that they may have the state to make tangible the dream of the Freedom Charter, but it discovered that the power was elsewhere. The devil lies in the details of the agreements.  Don’t lose focus on the issue>> is it political or economic? Those in power can manipulate the message. What is the real issue? Stay focused.  Countries that sign on to these international agreements face the following consequences if they “change their mind”>>any change in these agreements will be regarded as evidence of dangerous national untrustworthiness, a lack of commitment to “reform”, an absence of a “rules based system.” All of which will lead to currency crashes, aid cuts and capital flight. The bottom line is you can be free as a national internationally but simultaneously be captured by international agreements.  A country or a county could actually be given the keys to the house but not the combination to the safe. Page 245 Chapter eleven focuses on the Russian experience in using the shock doctrine strategy under Yeltsin. It is too complex and intriguing to summarize effectively. As you read this chapter you will have flash backs of 8 TV news stories of the early 1990’s watching Russia change from a communist state to a market economy. According to Klein the author, in the long term, the Chicago Boys methods did not work and Putin had to restore order in his own way.  The entire 30 year history of the Freidman Chicago School experiment has been one of mass corruption and corporatist collusion between security states and large corporations.  Only when countries are truly suffering do they agree to swallow the bitter market medicine; only when they are in shock do they lie down for shock therapy.  One will have to ask whether it could conceivably make sense to think of deliberately provoking a crisis so as to remove the political logjam to reform. History has shown that during normal times, this type of disaster capitalism does not sit well with the electorate. It takes a crisis for the “reforms” to be rammed through while the citizens are still in shock. Ie. Katrina and the 2004 Tsunami tragedies

Canada is not immune to these events: 

 February 1993 was in the midst of a “financial catastrophe”.  The print and electronic media reported that a “debt crisis looms”.  Canada’s credit may run out?  Canada was spending beyond its means  The threat was that foreign investors would pull their money out of Canada  The only solution we were told was to radically cut spending on such programs such as unemployment insurance and health care.  Two years after the deficit hysteria peaked, investigative reporter Linda McQuaig exposed that a sense of crisis had been carefully stoked and manipulated by a handful of think tanks funded by Canada’s largest banks and corporations. Wayne E. Taylor, P.R.P. Your Autodidactic retirement planner

REDEPLOYMENT BY PHIL KLAY

Redeployment

"We shot dogs. Not by accident. We did it on purpose, and we called it Operation Scooby. I’m a dog person, so I thought about that a lot.
First time was instinct. I hear O’Leary go, “Jesus,” and there’s a skinny brown dog lapping up blood the same way he’d lap up water from a bowl. It wasn’t American blood, but still, there’s that dog, lapping it up. And that’s the last straw, I guess, and then it’s open season on dogs.
At the time, you don’t think about it. You’re thinking about who’s in that house, what’s he armed with, how’s he gonna kill you, your buddies. You’re going block by block, fighting with rifles good to 550 meters, and you’re killing people at five in a concrete box.
The thinking comes later, when they give you the time. See, it’s not a straight shot back, from war to the Jacksonville mall. When our deployment was up, they put us on TQ, this logistics
base out in the desert, let us decompress a bit. I’m not sure what they meant by that. Decompress. We took it to mean jerk off a lot in the showers. Smoke a lot of cigarettes and play a lot of cards. And then they took us to Kuwait and put us on a commercial airliner to go home.
So there you are. You’ve been in a no‑shit war zone and then you’re sitting in a plush chair, looking up at a little nozzle shooting air-​conditioning, thinking, What the fuck? You’ve got a rifle between your knees, and so does everyone else. Some Marines got M9 pistols, but they take away your bayonets because you aren’t allowed to have knives on an airplane. Even though you’ve showered, you all look grimy and lean. Everybody’s hollow-​­eyed, and their cammies are beat to shit. And you sit there, and close your eyes, and think.
The problem is, your thoughts don’t come out in any kind of straight order. You don’t think, Oh, I did A, then B, then C, then D. You try to think about home, then you’re in the torture house. You see the body parts in the locker and the retarded guy in the cage. He squawked like a chicken. His head was shrunk down to a coconut. It takes you a while to remember Doc saying they’d shot mercury into his skull, and then it still doesn’t make any sense.
You see the things you saw the times you nearly died. The broken television and the hajji corpse. Eicholtz covered in blood. The lieutenant on the radio.
You see the little girl, the photographs Curtis found in a desk. First had a beautiful Iraqi kid, maybe seven or eight years old, in bare feet and a pretty white dress like it’s First Communion. Next she’s in a red dress, high heels, heavy makeup. Next photo, same dress, but her face is smudged and she’s holding a gun to her head.
I tried to think of other things, like my wife, Cheryl. She’s got pale skin and fine dark hairs on her arms. She’s ashamed of them, but they’re soft. Delicate.
But thinking of Cheryl made me feel guilty, and I’d think about Lance Corporal Hernandez, Corporal Smith, and Eicholtz. We were like brothers, Eicholtz and me. The two of us
So I’m thinking about that. And I’m seeing the retard, and the girl, and the wall Eicholtz died on. But here’s the thing. I’m thinking a lot, and I mean a lot, about those fucking dogs. And I’m thinking about my dog. Vicar. About the shelter we’d got him from, where Cheryl said we had to get an older dog because nobody takes older dogs. How we could never teach him anything. How he’d throw up shit he shouldn’t have eaten in the first place. How he’d slink away all guilty, tail down and head low and back legs crouched. How his fur started turning gray two years after we got him, and he had so many white hairs on his face that it looked like a mustache.
So there it was. Vicar and Operation Scooby, all the way home.
Maybe, I don’t know, you’re prepared to kill people. You practice on man-​­shaped targets so you’re ready. Of course, we got targets they call “dog targets.” Target shape Delta. But they don’t look like fucking dogs.
And it’s not easy to kill people, either. Out of boot camp, Marines act like they’re gonna play Rambo, but it’s fucking serious, it’s professional. Usually. We found this one insurgent doing the death rattle, foaming and shaking, fucked up, you know? He’s hit with a 7.62 in the chest and pelvic girdle; he’ll be gone in a second, but the company XO walks up, pulls out his KA‑BAR, and slits his throat. Says, “It’s good to kill a man with a knife.” All the Marines look at each other like, “What the fuck?” Didn’t expect that from the XO. That’s some PFC bullshit.
On the flight, I thought about that, too.
It’s so funny. You’re sitting there with your rifle in your hands but no ammo in sight. And then you touch down in Ireland to refuel. And it’s so foggy you can’t see shit, but, you know, this is Ireland, there’s got to be beer. And the plane’s captain, a fucking civilian, reads off some message about how general orders stay in effect until you reach the States, and you’re still considered on duty. So no alcohol.
Well, our CO jumped up and said, “That makes about as much sense as a goddamn football bat. All right, Marines, you’ve got three hours. I hear they serve Guinness.” Oo-​­fucking-​­rah. Corporal Weissert ordered five beers at once and had them laid out in front of him. He didn’t even drink for a while, just sat there looking at ’em all, happy. O’Leary said, “Look at you, smiling like a faggot in a dick tree,” which is a DI expression Curtis loves.
So Curtis laughs and says, “What a horrible fucking tree,” and we all start cracking up, happy just knowing we can get fucked up, let our guard down.
We got crazy quick. Most of us had lost about twenty pounds and it’d been seven months since we’d had a drop of alcohol. MacManigan, second award PFC, was rolling around the bar with his nuts hanging out of his cammies, telling Marines, “Stop looking at my balls, faggot.” Lance Corporal Slaughter was there all of a half hour before he puked in the bathroom, with Corporal Craig, the sober Mormon, helping him out, and Lance Corporal Greeley, the drunk Mormon, puking in the stall next to him. Even the Company Guns got wrecked. It was good. We got back on the plane and passed the fuck out. Woke up in America.
Except when we touched down in Cherry Point, there was nobody there. It was zero dark and cold, and half of us were rocking the first hangover we’d had in months, which at that point was a kind of shitty that felt pretty fucking good. And we got off the plane and there’s a big empty landing strip, maybe a half dozen red patchers and a bunch of seven tons lined up. No families.
The Company Guns said that they were waiting for us at Lejeune. The sooner we get the gear loaded on the trucks, the sooner we see ’em.
Roger that. We set up working parties, tossed our rucks and seabags into the seven tons. Heavy work, and it got the blood flowing in the cold. Sweat a little of the alcohol out, too. Then they pulled up a bunch of buses and we all got on, packed in, M16s sticking everywhere, muzzle awareness gone to shit, but it didn’t matter.
Cherry Point to Lejeune’s an hour. First bit’s through trees. You don’t see much in the dark. Not much when you get on 24, either. Stores that haven’t opened yet. Neon lights off at the gas stations and bars. Looking out, I sort of knew where I was, but I didn’t feel home. I figured I’d be home when I kissed my wife and pet my dog.
We went in through Lejeune’s side gate, which is about ten minutes away from our battalion area. Fifteen, I told myself, way this fucker is driving. When we got to McHugh, everybody got a little excited. And then the driver turned on A Street. Battalion area’s on A, and I saw the barracks and I thought, There it is. And then they stopped about four hundred meters short. Right in front of the armory. I could’ve jogged down to where the families were. I could see there was an area behind one of the barracks where they’d set up lights. And there were cars parked everywhere. I could hear the crowd down the way. The families were there. But we all got in line, thinking about them just down the way. Me thinking about Cheryl and Vicar. And we waited.
When I got to the window and handed in my rifle, though, it brought me up short. That was the first time I’d been separated from it in months. I didn’t know where to rest my hands. First I put them in my pockets, then I took them out and crossed my arms, and then I just let them hang, useless, at my sides.
After all the rifles were turned in, First Sergeant had us get into a no‑shit parade formation. We had a fucking guidon waving out front, and we marched down A Street. When we got to the edge of the first barracks, people started cheering. I couldn’t see them until we turned the corner, and then there they were, a big wall of people holding signs under a bunch of outdoor lights, and the lights were bright and pointed straight at us, so it was hard to look into the crowd and tell who was who. Off to the side there were picnic tables and a Marine in woodlands grilling hot dogs. And there was a bouncy castle. A fucking bouncy castle.
We kept marching. A couple more Marines in woodlands were holding the crowd back in a line, and we marched until we were straight alongside the crowd, and then First Sergeant called us to a halt.
I saw some TV cameras. There were a lot of U.S. flags. The whole MacManigan clan was up front, right in the middle, holding a banner that read: OO‑RAH PRIVATE FIRST CLASS BRADLEY MACMANIGAN. WE ARE SO PROUD.
I scanned the crowd back and forth. I’d talked to Cheryl on the phone in Kuwait, not for very long, just, “Hey, I’m good,” and, “Yeah, within forty-​­eight hours. Talk to the FRO, he’ll tell you when to be there.” And she said she’d be 301852Brian Adam Jones/U.S. Marine Corps Photo
there, but it was strange, on the phone. I hadn’t heard her voice in a while.
Then I saw Eicholtz’s dad. He had a sign, too. It said: WELCOME BACK HEROES OF BRAVO COMPANY. I looked right at him and remembered him from when we left, and I thought, That’s Eicholtz’s dad. And that’s when they released us. And they released the crowd, too.
I was standing still, and the Marines around me, Curtis and O’Leary and MacManigan and Craig and Weissert, they were rushing out to the crowd. And the crowd was coming forward.
Eicholtz’s dad was coming forward.
He was shaking the hand of every Marine he passed. I don’t think a lot of guys recognized him, and I knew I should say something, but I didn’t. I backed off. I looked around for my wife. And I saw my name on a sign: SGT PRICE, it said. But the rest was blocked by the crowd, and I couldn’t see who was holding it. And then I was moving toward it, away from Eicholtz’s dad, who was hugging Curtis, and I saw the rest of the sign. It said: SGT PRICE, NOW THAT YOU’RE HOME YOU CAN DO SOME CHORES. HERE’S YOUR TO‑DO LIST. 1) ME. 2) REPEAT NUMBER 1. And there, holding the sign, was Cheryl.
She was wearing cammie shorts and a tank top, even though it was cold. She must have worn them for me. She was skinnier than I remembered. More makeup, too. I was nervous and tired and she looked a bit different. But it was her.
All around us were families and big smiles and worn-​­out Marines. I walked up to her and she saw me and her face lit. No woman had smiled at me like that in a long time. I moved in and kissed her. I figured that was what I was supposed to do. But it’d been too long and we were both too nervous and it felt like just lip on lip pushed together, I don’t know. She pulled back and looked at me and put her hands on my shoulders and started to cry. She reached up and rubbed her eyes, and then she put her arms around me and pulled me into her.
Her body was soft and it fit into mine. All deployment, I’d slept on the ground or on canvas cots. I’d worn body armor and kept a rifle slung across my body. I hadn’t felt anything like her in seven months. It was almost like I’d forgotten how she felt, or never really known it, and now here was this new feeling that
made everything else black and white fading before color. Then she let me go and I took her by the hand and we got my gear and got out of there.
She asked me if I wanted to drive and hell yeah I did, so I got behind the wheel. A long time since I’d done that, too. I put the car in reverse, pulled out, and started driving home. I was thinking I wanted to park somewhere dark and curl up with her in the backseat like high school. But I got the car out of the lot and down McHugh. And driving down McHugh it felt different from the bus. Like, This is Lejeune. This is the way I used to get to work. And it was so dark. And quiet.
Cheryl said, “How are you?” which meant, How was it? Are you crazy now?
I said, “Good. I’m fine.”
And then it was quiet again and we turned down Holcomb. I was glad I was driving. It gave me something to focus on. Go down this street, turn the wheel, go down another. One step at a time. You can get through anything one step at a time.
She said, “I’m so happy you’re home.”
Then she said, “I love you so much.”
Then she said, “I’m proud of you.”
I said, “I love you, too.”
When we got home, she opened the door for me. I didn’t even know where my house keys were. Vicar wasn’t at the door to greet me. I stepped in and scanned around, and there he was on the couch. When he saw me, he got up slow.
His fur was grayer than before, and there were weird clumps of fat on his legs, these little tumors that Labs get but that Vicar’s got a lot of now. He wagged his tail. He stepped down off the couch real careful, like he was hurting. And Cheryl said, “He remembers you.”
“Why’s he so skinny?” I said, and I bent down and scratched him behind the ears.
“The vet said we had to keep him on weight control. And he doesn’t keep a lot of food down these days.”
Cheryl was pulling on my arm. Pulling me away from Vicar. And I let her.
She said, “Isn’t it good to be home?”
Her voice was shaky, like she wasn’t sure of the answer. And I said,marinesafghan.JPGU.S. Marine Corps Photo
“Yeah, yeah, it is.” And she kissed me hard. I grabbed her in my arms and lifted her up and carried her to the bedroom. I put a big grin on my face, but it didn’t help. She looked a bit scared of me, then. I guess all the wives were probably a little bit scared.
And that was my homecoming. It was fine, I guess. Getting back feels like your first breath after nearly drowning. Even if it hurts, it’s good.
I can’t complain. Cheryl handled it well.
I saw Lance Corporal Curtis’s wife back in Jacksonville. She spent all his combat pay before he got back, and she was five months pregnant, which, for a Marine coming back from a seven-​­month deployment, is not pregnant enough.
Corporal Weissert’s wife wasn’t there at all when we got back. He laughed, said she probably got the time wrong, and O’Leary gave him a ride to his house. They get there and it’s empty. Not just of people, of everything: furniture, wall hangings, everything. Weissert looks at this shit and shakes his head, starts laughing. They went out, bought some whiskey, and got fucked up right there in his empty house.
Weissert drank himself to sleep, and when he woke up, MacManigan was right next to him, sitting on the floor. And MacManigan, of all people, was the one who cleaned him up and got him into base on time for the classes they make you take about, Don’t kill yourself. Don’t beat your wife. And Weissert was like, “I can’t beat my wife. I don’t know where the fuck she is.”
That weekend they gave us a ninety-​­six, and I took on Weissert duty for Friday. He was in the middle of a three-​­day drunk, and hanging with him was a carnival freak show filled with whiskey and lap dances. Didn’t get home until four, after I dropped him off at Slaughter’s barracks room, and I woke Cheryl coming in. She didn’t say a word. I figured she’d be mad, and she looked it, but when I got in bed she rolled over to me and gave me a little hug, even though I was stinking of booze.
Slaughter passed Weissert to Addis, Addis passed him to Greeley, and so on. We had somebody with him the whole weekend until we were sure he was good. With him was a carnival freak show filled with whiskey and lap dances. Didn’t get home until four, after I dropped him off at Slaughter’s barracks room, and I woke Cheryl coming in. She didn’t say a word. I figured she’d be mad, and she looked it, but when I got in bed she rolled over to me and gave me a little hug, even though I was stinking of booze.
When I wasn’t with Weissert and the rest of the squad, I sat on the couch with Vicar, watching the baseball games Cheryl’d taped for me. Sometimes Cheryl and I talked about her seven months, about the wives left behind, about her family, her job, her boss. Sometimes she’d ask little questions. Sometimes I’d answer. And glad as I was to be in the States, and even though I hated the past seven months and the only thing that kept me going was the Marines I served with and the thought of coming home, I started feeling like I wanted to go back. Because fuck all this.
The next week at work was all half days and bullshit. Medical appointments to deal with injuries guys had been hiding or sucking up. Dental appointments. Admin. And every evening, me and Vicar watching TV on the couch, waiting for Cheryl to get back from her shift at Texas Roadhouse.
Vicar’d sleep with his head in my lap, waking up whenever I’d reach down to feed him bits of salami. The vet told Cheryl that’s bad for him, but he deserved something good. Half the time when I pet him, I’d rub up against one of his tumors, and that had to hurt. It looked like it hurt him to do everything, wag his tail, eat his chow. Walk. Sit. And when he’d vomit, which was every other day, he’d hack like he was choking, revving up for a good twenty seconds before anything came out. It was the noise that bothered me. I didn’t mind cleaning the carpet. And then Cheryl’d come home and look at us and shake her head and smile and say, “Well, you’re a sorry bunch.” I wanted Vicar around, but I couldn’t bear to look at him. I guess that’s why I let Cheryl drag me out of the house that weekend. We took my combat pay and did a lot of shopping. Which is how America fights back against the terrorists.
So here’s an experience. Your wife takes you shopping in Wilmington. Last time you walked down a city street, your Marine on point went down the side of the road, checking ahead and scanning the roofs across from him. The Marine behind him checks the windows on the top levels of the buildings, the Marine behind him gets the windows a little lower, and so on down until your guys have the street level covered, and the Marine in back has the rear. In a city there’s a million places they  can kill you from. It freaks you out at first. But you go through like you were trained, and it works.
In Wilmington, you don’t have a squad, you don’t have a battle buddy, you don’t even have a weapon. You startle ten times checking for it and it’s not there. You’re safe, so your alertness should be at white, but it’s not.
Instead, you’re stuck in an American Eagle Outfitters. Your wife gives you some clothes to try on and you walk into the tiny dressing room. You close the door, and you don’t want to open it again.
Outside, there’re people walking around by the windows like it’s no big deal. People who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died. People who’ve spent their whole lives at white.
They’ll never get even close to orange. You can’t, until the first time you’re in a firefight, or the first time an IED goes off that you missed, and you realize that everybody’s life, everybody’s, depends on you not fucking up. And you depend on them.
Some guys go straight to red. They stay like that for a while and then they crash, go down past white, down to whatever is lower than “I don’t fucking care if I die.” Most everybody else stays orange, all the time.
marine carries mascot for goodluckAnja Niedringhaus/AP
Here’s what orange is. You don’t see or hear like you used to. Your brain chemistry changes. You take in every piece of the environment, everything. I could spot a dime in the street twenty yards away. I had antennae out that stretched down the block. It’s hard to even remember exactly what that felt like. I think you take in too much information to store so you just forget, free up brain space to take in everything about the next moment that might keep you alive. And then you forget that moment, too, and focus on the next. And the next. And the next. For seven months.
So that’s orange. And then you go shopping in Wilmington, unarmed, and you think you can get back down to white? It’ll be a long fucking time before you get down to white.
By the end of it I was amped up. Cheryl didn’t let me drive home. I would have gone a hundred miles per hour. And when we got back, we saw Vicar had thrown up again, right by the door. I looked for him and he was there on the couch, trying to stand on shaky legs. And I said, “Goddamn it, Cheryl. It’s fucking time.”
She said, “You think I don’t know?”
I looked at Vicar.
She said, “I’ll take him to the vet tomorrow.”
I said, “No.”
She shook her head. She said, “I’ll take care of it.”
I said, “You mean you’ll pay some asshole a hundred bucks to kill my dog.”
She didn’t say anything.
I said, “That’s not how you do it. It’s on me.”
She was looking at me in this way I couldn’t deal with. Soft.
I looked out the window at nothing.
She said, “You want me to go with you?”
I said, “No. No.”
“Okay,” she said. “But it’d be better.”
She walked over to Vicar, leaned down, and hugged him.
Her hair fell over her face and I couldn’t see if she was crying. Then she stood up, walked to the bedroom, and gently closed the door.
I sat down on the couch and scratched Vicar behind the ears, and I came up with a plan. Not a good plan, but a plan. Sometimes that’s enough.
There’s a dirt road near where I live and a stream off the road where the light filters in around sunset. It’s pretty. I used to go running there sometimes. I figured it’d be a good spot for it.
It’s not a far drive. We got there right at sunset. I parked just off the road, got out, pulled my rifle out of the trunk, slung it over my shoulders, and moved to the passenger side. I opened the door and lifted Vicar up in my arms and carried him down to the stream. He was heavy and warm, and he licked my face as I carried him, slow, lazy licks from a dog that’s been happy all his life. When I put him down and stepped back, he looked up at me. He wagged his tail. And I froze.
Only one other time I hesitated like that. Midway through Fallujah, an insurgent snuck through our perimeter. When we raised the alarm, he disappeared. We freaked, scanning everywhere, until Curtis looked down in this water cistern that’d been used as a cesspit, basically a big round container filled a quarter way with liquid shit.
The insurgent was floating in it, hiding beneath the liquid and only coming up for air. It was like a fish rising up to grab a fly sitting on the top of the water. His mouth would break the surface, open for a breath, and then snap shut, and he’d submerge. I couldn’t imagine it. Just smelling it was bad enough. About four or five Marines aimed straight down, fired into the shit. Except me.
Staring at Vicar, it was the same thing. This feeling, like, something in me is going to break if I do this. And I thought of Cheryl bringing Vicar to the vet, of some stranger putting his hands on my dog, and I thought, I have to do this.
I didn’t have a shotgun, I had an AR‑15. Same, basically, as an M16, what I’d been trained on, and I’d been trained to do it right. Sight alignment, trigger control, breath control. Focus on the iron sights, not the target. The target should be blurry.
I focused on Vicar, then on the sights. Vicar disappeared into a gray blur. I switched off the safety. There had to be three shots. It’s not just pull the trigger and you’re done. Got to do it right. Hammer pair to the body. A final well-​­aimed shot to the head.
The first two have to be fired quick, that’s important. Your body is mostly water, so a bullet striking through is like a stone thrown in a pond. It creates ripples. Throw in a second stone
soon after the first, and in between where they hit, the water gets choppy. That happens in your body, especially when it’s two 5.56 rounds traveling at supersonic speeds. Those ripples can tear organs apart.
If I were to shoot you on either side of your heart, one shot . . . and then another, you’d have two punctured lungs, two sucking chest wounds. Now you’re good and fucked. But you’ll still be alive long enough to feel your lungs fill up with blood.
If I shoot you there with the shots coming fast, it’s no problem. The ripples tear up your heart and lungs and you don’t do the death rattle, you just die. There’s shock, but no pain.I pulled the trigger, felt the recoil, and focused on the sights, not on Vicar, three times. Two bullets tore through his chest, one through his skull, and the bullets came fast, too fast to feel. That’s how it should be done, each shot coming quick after the last so you can’t even try to recover, which is when it hurts.
I stayed there staring at the sights for a while. Vicar was a blur of gray and black. The light was dimming. I couldn’t remember what I was going to do with the body.
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