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This Issue: Lurching to War
There was a moment, after the long nightmare of the Cold War ended a
quarter of a century ago, when it seemed as if the danger of war had
finally diminished. To be sure, there has never been a moment in all
those years when wars weren’t raging somewhere, but at least the
possibility of nuclear war, we hoped, was less.
Foolish optimism. The risk of nuclear war is as great now as it was at
the height of the Cold War. From the time the Warsaw Pact dissolved
itself and the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States has
single-mindedly pursued a hyper-aggressive strategy of surrounding
Russia with hostile military forces and missiles aimed at the Russian
heartland. The long-term goal is to bring about the collapse and
dismemberment of the Russian federation, with the pieces that emerge
subsequently turned into U.S. client states that provide raw materials
but don’t compete with American corporations or America’s military. In a
parallel strategy (the “pivot to Asia”) the U.S. is making increasingly
threatening military moves off the coast of China.
Those who thought that the collapse of the nominally socialist Soviet
Union, and the transformation of China into a capitalist powerhouse,
would mean an end of American hostility to those two ‘communist’
countries, failed to recognize that what the U.S. seeks is world
dominance. It doesn’t want capitalist competitors; it wants capitalist
client states. Russia and China stand in the way of the U.S. agenda
because, even though they can’t match U.S. military or economic power,
they are strong enough to assert their independence. They are therefore
seen as increasing threats as they pursue projects, such as major
railway and pipeline projects, which would be outside U.S. control.
Capitalism hates competition, and the U.S., the world’s dominant
capitalist power, has never tolerated competitors, rivals, or leaders
who dare to put their own country ahead of U.S. interests. If small
countries like Grenada, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have to be crushed if
they act independently, then, from the point of view of the U.S.
elites, Russia and China are much greater threats to American hegemony
which cannot be tolerated.
One of the driving forces underlying U.S. aggression and militarism
has always been the military-industrial complex, arguably the most
important sector of the U.S. economy. There are enormous profits to be
made in supplying weapons and military systems, and therefore in
inventing threats and stoking conflicts. The economies of many of the
NATO states are highly integrated into this militarized economic system,
making their elites willing accomplices in U.S. militarism.
Perhaps the most dangerous element in this picture is the fact that
the American ruling elite is so used to getting its own way,
domestically and internationally, that they have become increasingly
oblivious to the dangers of what they are doing. Voices of sanity within
the elite are increasingly marginalized by those are prepared to risk,
and even plan for, all-out war. The ominous parallels to the outbreak of
World War I a century ago are all to apparent.
In a long list of irresponsible actions, perhaps the most appalling
are the actions the U.S. has been taking in relation to nuclear weapons.
They have officially announced that they no longer adhere to the “no
first strike” pledge that both Russia and the U.S. made during the Cold
War. Now the U.S. says that it might (again) use nuclear weapons first
in a conflict. The Russians and the Chinese, who well remember Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, are undoubtedly taking this aggressive posture into
account in their own contingency planning.
As if this weren’t enough, the U.S. is also looking a developing
“mini” nuclear weapons, an act of madness that makes “sense” only if you
intend to use them. And now the U.S. is starting to deploy anti-missile
systems right on the Russian border. The sole use of such system would
be to prevent retaliation after an American first strike. It is
equivalent to declaring an intent to attack Russia when it judges the
time is ripe. Inevitably this will force the Russians to be on higher
alert, increasing the risk that a provocation will turn into an all-out
In this issue, we take a close look at the risks we face as we lurch
ever closer to war. We especially look at the role of the mainstream
media in manufacturing justifications for war.
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The United States and its NATO allies have increasingly come to
see war, not as a disaster to be avoided, but as a normal tool of
foreign policy. Getting the public to acquiesce in regarding war as
inevitable and justifiable requires a polished propaganda machine. The
mainstream media are exactly that. Always reliable propagandists for any
war, today they provide unquestioning support for militarism and
aggression, up to and including all-out war. For critical analyses of
war propaganda, check out the Connexions Subject Index here.
This Week on Connexions.org
Containing the United States
With Hillary Clinton about to be elected and some advanced
cadres of the war party preparing to take charge, who is going to
contain the United States? The U.S. political system has failed its
populace and the world and has imposed no brakes on the war machine. The
UN and EU are still too much under the U.S. thumb. Russia and China are
too weak and with too flimsy an alliance system to threaten U.S.
hegemony and do more than make direct U.S. aggression against themselves
very costly. Read more
Keywords: Propaganda - U.S. Imperialism
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
The United States, says John Pilger, is pursuing a long-term
strategy of destroying Russia. The strategy includes encircling Russia
with hostile regimes and with missiles stationed on Russia’s borders.
The U.S. ruling elite, aided and abetted by the mainstream media, is
willing to run the risk of nuclear war to achieve its goals. Hilary
Clinton, who publicly rejoiced at her executioner's role during the
destruction of Libya, has repeatedly indicated that, as president, she
will "go further" than Obama. Read more
Keywords: U.S. Foreign Policy - War Propaganda
Beating the drums for war with Russia
The US ruling establishment is considering an escalation of US
intervention. Such an escalation carries the very real threat of
provoking a wider war. Read more
Keywords: U.S. Imperialism - War Propaganda
Western Propaganda: So Simple But So Effective
Western propaganda is actually a perfect apparatus! It is
effective and it is almost fully ‘bulletproof’. It ‘works’! European
empires have been refining it for many long centuries, and the European
offspring – the United States – has elevated it to almost total
perfection. One precondition for its success is, of course, that the
Western political and economic regime owns almost all the major media
channels and distribution outlets of the world. Diversity can never be
tolerated. It could smash the idiocy! Once this prerequisite is
completed, things get relatively relaxed and cozy for the demagogues in
Washington, London and Paris. Read more
Keywords: Media Propaganda - Propaganda
Propaganda Techniques of Empire
Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by
systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has
been preceded, accompanied and followed by unremitting government
propaganda designed to secure public approval, exploit victims, slander
critics, dehumanize targeted adversaries and justify its allies’
collaboration. James Petras discusses the most common recent techniques
used to support ongoing imperial wars. Read more
Keywords: Propaganda - War Propaganda
Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem
The sad state of the antiwar movement in the United States,
says Victor Emanuele, “breaks my heart.” “Peoples’ lives around the
world depend on those of us in the U.S. to create movements capable of
stopping Uncle Sam’s imperial madness. So far, we’re losing. And in many
ways, we have no one to blame but ourselves.” Why, Emanuele asks, don’t
more working-class and poor people join antiwar organizations or attend
leftist political events? Because, he says, “the Left is a fucking
weird place.” Read more
Keywords: Antiwar Movement - Liberal Left
Website of the Week
A website site devoted to the cause
of non-interventionism. Initially founded to fight against intervention
in the Balkans under Bill Clinton's presidency, it now campaigns against
militarism and imperialism generally. Antiwar.com's readers include
libertarians, pacifists, leftists, greens, and independents, as well
those on the Right who agree with its opposition to imperialism.
Antiwar.com's "politics are libertarian: our opposition to war is rooted
in Randolph Bourne's concept that 'War is the health of the State.'"
Find them here
Keywords: Antiwar Movement - Militarism
Book of the Week
Why are we the good guys?
By David Cromwell
One of the unspoken assumptions of
the Western world is that we are great defenders of human rights, a free
press and the benefits of market economics. Mistakes might be made
along the way, perhaps even tragic errors of judgement. But the
prevailing view is that the West is essentially a force for good in the
wider world. Why Are We The Good Guys? is a provocative challenge of
this false ideology. Read more
Keywords: Ideology - Media Propaganda
The Importance of Making Trouble
In this interview, Frances Fox Piven suggest that “people make
gains when they become defiant, disorderly, and unruly. And the gains
are crafted to make them orderly again. That’s okay, provided that there
is a price, that there are concessions, that there are reforms. That’s
how we made some steps forward... We’ve also made a lot of steps
backwards, but I think that’s because people haven’t risen up frequently
enough, consistently enough. Read more
Keywords: Movement Building - Organizing for Social Change
Deep in the Swamps, Archaeologists Are Finding How Fugitive Slaves Kept Their Freedom
The Great Dismal Swamp was once a thriving refuge for runaways.
Archaeologists are learning more about their free communities. Read more
Keywords: Anti-Slavery - Slavery
Exhuming history: censored Jewish text brought to light by Library and Archives Canada
Words that were once lost to history have been brought into the
light by book conservationists at Library and Archives Canada. The
16th-century collection of sermons were by a rabbi and philosopher who
sought to keep the faith alive during a dark era of persecution and
censorship, when Jews were facing possible expulsion from their homes if
they did not convert to Christianity. Read more
Keywords: Jewish History - Religious Persecution
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October 15, 2016
International Day of Rural Women
Rural women, the majority of whom
depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods, make
up over a quarter of the total world population. In developing
countries, rural women represent approximately 43 per cent of the
agricultural labour force, and produce, process and prepare much of the
food available, thereby giving them primary responsibility for food
October 18, 2016
Pricing the Planet - Film
Economists, bankers, investment
funds and financiers are taking a huge interest in the environmental
crisis. They say they can protect the planet their way - with money.
This two-part documentary investigates the declining state of our planet
and whether a commercial approach can in fact save it. We see how since
the Industrial Revolution we have heavily depleted our natural
resources, polluted the planet, and how we are now losing endangered
species at an alarming rate.
October 21, 2016
A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation
The Toronto launch of Yves Engler’s
book, which traces the long history of government information control
during war, including formal censorship, as well as extreme media bias
on topics ranging from Haiti to Palestine, investment agreements to the
October 27, 2016
World Day for Audiovisual Heritage
The World Day for Audiovisual
Heritage takes place every 27 October. This commemorative day was chosen
by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization) to raise awareness of the significance of and preservation
risks recorded sound and audiovisual documents (films, sound and video
recordings, radio and television programs). Events are held in many
countries, organised by national and regional sound and film archives,
broadcasters, museums and libraries, and major audiovisual associations.
The Connexions Calendar is an
online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social
justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite
you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions
Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use
to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password. Read more →
October 16, 1859
The Raid on Harper’s Ferry
John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry begins. Brown and his group,
all deeply committed to the anti-slavery cause, have planned the raid in
the hope of obtaining guns, freeing slaves, and triggering an armed
revolt against slavery.
October 18, 1803
Triumph of the Haitian Revolution
Haitian forces defeat the French army at Vertières in the last
major battle of the Haitian war of independence. The battle ends French
attempts to put down the Haitian Revolution and re-institute slavery.
October 23, 1956
Outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution
Demonstrations of students and workers march through Budapest. In
the evening, police fire on unarmed demonstrators; demonstrators start
seizing weapons, and fighting breaks out. The result is a revolution
which overthrows the Hungarian government but is eventually crushed by
the Soviet Union.
October 27, 1864
Founding of the First International
The founding convention of the International Workingmen’s
Association (the First International) adopts its “General Rules” which
will express the basic orientation of the International and guide its
actions. Written by Karl Marx, they begin with the unequivocal statement
“the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the
working classes themselves” – an insistence that liberation can only be
self-liberation, that it cannot be imposed or bestowed by an outside
organization or leader.
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This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
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Toronto ON M6G 1L9 Canada
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