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Foreign Policy Review review of "Postmodern Imperialism"

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 I. Let the Games Begin…Again…and Again

The great disaffected masses tell us that history is on the march and, as usual, guns and butter are the simpler issues. In America, support dwindles for a war that has lasted a decade. Drone missiles, each costing $100,000, kill “terrorists” in gutturally named, chicken-scratch places bewilderingly far from America’s hometowns, whose simple citizens ask where their taxes go. Costs of the Afghanistan war this year are the highest ever, $119.4 billion and counting.[1] Polls show historically deep disaffection with The System. The mask of America-First patriotism is falling, revealing an intoxicated self-grandiosity and will to power by renascent Bush-era neocons and cynical manipulations by the CEO caste and other one-percenters for more and more wealth, and whose sense of entitlement the victims of class warfare, lumpen proles and petit bourgeoisie alike, seem unable to stomach any longer.[2] Approval of the Republican led-by-gridlock Congress hovers around fifteen percent.[3] Ever-larger protests in other cities in America and internationally have extended those on Wall Street – protests even a year ago one would never have predicted – and “class warfare – rich against poor” appears on the protestors’ signs.

The disaffected might also ask why the US, as Eric Walberg notes in his extraordinary new book, has 730 American military bases in fifty countries around the globe, and why the US share of the world’s military expenditures is 42.8% while, by comparison, China’s is 7.3% and Russia’s 3.6%. The unavoidable irony is that the Pax Americana seems to be requiring endless war with no particular rationale behind it – and truly astonishing numbers of dollars are spent on behalf of war rather than at home. What may be fatally undermining credibility in America’s “transcendent values” has been the sense that as the facts filter down to the masses, the Empire’s new clothes appear to be the same as that of past empires. All empires have births and deaths – the US Empire will be no different. Internal contradictions of the US efforts to control the globe seem now to be sending things spiraling out of control.[4]

On one home front, think of the Gilded Age of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan. This is not the first time America-First ideology has been suspected to be cover for autocrats and plutocrats doing what they have always done. What makes the revelation different this time is the simultaneous sense that the US imperium apparently has seen and had its day. I say this anticipating the response: Yes, of course, that seems to be happening, but, no, it is too incredible to really happen.

Missing in the vague anomie is detailed fact, gathered and employed effectively to see the whole. Armed with such a guidebook, the Wall Street protestors and all the rest of America’s great discontented would truly understand why the 99-percenters, I suggest, may likely feel the need to join the hundreds of diehards in Zucotti Park, and then extend the protest, unbelievable as it truly sounds, by revolutionary action into an American Spring.[5]

Some years ago I overheard a blue-collar fellow – a retired Detroit fire fighter – explaining to his wife why the rich are rich: they are simply “smarter” than the rest of us. But the “exceptionalism” of America – where the smart people are free to get as rich as nanosecond insider trading, offshore deals, and tax lawyers let them – has collided with paradigm-destroying contradictions. The thesis appears to be running headlong into its antithesis. The new synthesis may well be coming at the world with the force of a huge, land-bound, Red Spot-sized storm. If sloganeering from Republicans still had any force to warn us about the imperiled “free market”, “free enterprise”, and – interchangeably – “‘freedom” – about how “the Greatest Nation on Earth/in History” is being destroyed by taxes, “socialism”, and “Big Government” – egged on by the shrieks and poison chatter of Fox News, some might still buy into the fear-mongering. A few tidy, frightened retirees sunning themselves in the Western states and devotees of NASCAR and the NRA from the old Confederate South might get apoplectic. Which, in some way, perhaps, is why the rest of us disbelieve any significant change is coming or can happen. But this may be because we don’t see the Big Picture.

Although, shunning advocacy, he is careful never to veer far from the neutral tones of reportage, the thesis of Walberg’s astonishing, fine-grained x-ray of the zeit is that the greatest source of problems in modern, and postmodern, times around the world is American imperialism. Such a thesis, of course, is not new among the radical left, nor among the political “Islamists”. Presented with a full account of the lies, clichés, and stereotyped credence of the US’s path to empire and how it maintains it with, by now, constant war, needle-sensitive rightwing Republicans and, take note, here, Jewish Americans, defensive, seething, and alarmed. It is likely they will then, unfortunately, too quickly look for reasons to label Walberg an anti-Semite with a hard-left agenda to cover up his supposed anti-Semitism. Lip-syncing (parentheticals added): (that infernally silly) Ayn Rand and (that feudalistic philosophical eminence) Leo Strauss – both had it right: there are Superior Ones (SOs) and there are Inferior Ones (IOs) and, for the sake of the continuing evolution of mankind, the SOs must inherit the earth. Get the money. And the girls. And the million dollar cryonic canopic jars. Richard Dawkins almost had it right; what he got wrong is that a few of the replicators – human beings as host for the genes – are taking charge, forcefully, violently, of who gets to pass them theirs on.

Not persuaded that Social Darwinism is necessary for the future of the species, a large majority of Americans – fed up or simply horrified with Bush, the fifty-three percent who voted for the African-American and “Socialist” Obama, as well as those who didn’t but are also the victims of the 2008 economic crash – now are beginning to realize that phantasmal, neocon realpolitik not only is entirely cynical but grandiose, also, its spokesmen misleading even themselves. Furthermore, the true-believers whom the Powers-That-Be have rallied reliably in the past have become suspicious that the single overriding purpose of calls to their patriotism always is to enrich the Big Boys, the Players: CEO’s at multinationals like Halliburton and General Electric, and at the mammoth, near-monopoly amalgam banking corporations, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Add Wall Street hedge fund renaissance men and finance capital wonderboys like Lloyd Blankfein.[6] Not only liberals and progressives but Tea Partiers view with helpless disgust the death-dances of the Neros on Wall Street, enriched to the point of requiring, one imagines, Roman-style emetics to clean the palate for more, more, more. The Detroit fireman might wonder how strange it is that such supposedly superior representatives of the species can be stupid about the terrible spectacle they make.

As events continue to move ever faster, Americans waking up to reality has the feel of desperate conviction. But the conviction has lacked both proof and necessary connect-the-dots fleshing out. Painstakingly researched, always on point, Walberg’s tightly packed historical analysis of world geopolitics since the Industrial Revolution, with its emphasis on the latter phases of US imperialism, reads like a ne plus ultra primer of real realpolitik. A Cambridge-educated Canadian who has spent many years in Russia and the Middle East and currently writes for the Egyptian weekly, Al Ahram, Walberg marshals dense but pertinent facts, building on a growing literature of reportage and analysis from journalists who want to cover this really big story and from historians and analysts[7] who see as their task a radical critique of both the pragmatics and the huge, fateful vainglory of US imperialism.

But Walberg goes much further than these other writers by telling the full story in 300 well-ordered pages – at times, the book reads like a high-end un-put-downable thriller. One even thinks of le Carré but with fascinating factual detail replacing writerly nuance. Resorting, at times, to chess terminology, he tracks the 150-year story of the intricate moves and countermoves on what Zbigniew Brzezinski has called the “‘Grand Chessboard”.[8] “Zbig”, the first chairman of the infamous Trilateral Commission we remember as Jimmy Carter’s Polish-accented national security advisor; he wrote with confidence about the assured future of America as the Power well into the 21st century. He and the neocons who followed him, even more forgetful of how history repeats itself,[9] not merely toe the line but up the ante of the Big Power geopolitical games that have been played for a century-and-a-half, and, because of capitalist/consumerist-impacted climate change, are sending the planet to catastrophe.[10] The current “Empire-and-a-Half” of the United States and its increasingly independently acting client and vassal, Israel – despite its tiny territory a regional hegemon bent on being a world player – is nearing collapse quicker than the rich can count their money. Only the final chapter of the American imperial story has yet to be written: how will it finally collapse, and who, and/or what, will replace the “Empire-and-a-Half”? China? A somehow more peaceful pact between China, Russia, India, and/or some other players?

II. Creative Great Game Theory and Practice

The “great game” referred to the geopolitical strategy of England versus Russia to control Afghanistan as the gateway to its colonial prize jewel, India. A significant length of the ancient Silk Road snakes through this notoriously shadowy but key geostrategic country which has been embroiled repeatedly since then in blood and intrigue. Today, it is the blackened griddle on which cooks America’s longest-lasting war. Described by earlier writers, Walberg abbreviates this “great game” to “GGI”, lingering on it only briefly as the early imperial period when, in addition to India and the Suez, England ran the puppet show in which Afghanistan, Iran, and the remains of the Ottoman Caliphate jerked on the strings as “nominally independent political formations”; Kipling’s “‘white man’s burden” lay over colonial lands “on which the sun never sets” – as far from the imperial isle as wealth extraction required.

Walberg has not invented the terminology of the “Great Game” but he has convincingly demonstrated the utility of distinguishing three phases of the Game. GGI refers to the 19th century-through World War I period during which “competing empires” jockeyed for geopolitical and economic power. GGI and GGII overlap – from 1917-45, which saw GGI through its end game, and when GGII was germinating. GGII lasted from the end of World War I through the disintegration of the Soviet Union by 1991. In GGII the US and Europe – by then the US’s “junior partner” – competed against communism. Other writers call this period “super-imperialist” because of “the unique role of the US dollar” as world reserve currency, and which, tied with Reagan’s greatly ramped up spending in the arms race, succeeded in bankrupting the Soviet Union. Throughout the games, beginning with the British Empire, then with its much bigger son and heir, the US, in charge, the West has made violent sorties for imperial power and plays for control of the world over and over again that have followed, more or less, the same script. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The current game, GGIII, which we are in, now, began with the Soviet Union’s house-of-cards collapse in 1991, and has swapped “Communism” with “Islamo-terror” as the opponent. Except for fitful bursts of violent objection, US imperialism has dominated the world completely.

Using Immanuel Wallerstein’s world systems theory, Walberg’s analysis of the functional structure of imperialism emphasizes “center” and “periphery”, the former extracting raw resources from the latter as key component in the ceaseless expansion that capitalism requires, always turning the distant assets into great pools of wealth liquidity. His distinction between “modern”, “failed”, and “postmodern” states enables him creatively to tease out his analysis. By providing close detail about the US’s post-World War II gamesmanship, he reveals a myriad of two- and -three-faced betrayals, “black ops”, sundry anagrammatic false treaties and front organizations, fifth column charters and charades, and collaborations with worldwide organized crime.

Early on exemplified by Victoria’s imperial visionary, Cecil Rhodes, colonialism and post-colonial liberalism hacked to pieces sub-Saharan Africa. Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and the Holy Lands followed. At times, pursued to folly by the likes of “Chinese” Gordon and T. E. Lawrence, in China and Islamic North Africa, the British Empire’s halcyon days are passed over quickly, presumably for the sake of brevity and to arrive at the major goals of the book, explicating US and Israeli imperialism. Cue, here, Dubya and the crusade against (“Islamo-)Terror”. It may be difficult today to think of England’s brutal suppression of major uprisings in India[11] and in China, the latter where the Boxer Rebellion flamed up against the forced production and trade in opium – but think also of the “War on Drugs” which is almost as much a part of America’s false-conscious imperial fuel as is George W. Bush and Al Qaeda’s use of each other.

Not the only or even the principal outpost of empires but pivotal geostrategically, Afghanistan continues to tantalize mining companies, war profiteers, soldiers-of-fortune, drug smugglers, and, of course, the generals and neocons of the never-ending War on Terror which justifies the Pax Americana and American super-imperialism just as the continuation of the dollar as the world’s main currency, as Walberg explains, keeps America’s banks and their managers so hugely rich and America, itself, so “indispensable”: not China, not Japan, parking their assets in the form of dollars, can afford to cash in the American debt.[12]

III. The Game is Fixed

GGII, as Walberg writes, found its successful ideological and military-industrial tension with anti-Communism;[13] GGIII, he asserts, has swapped this with anti-Islam foment.

Control and the mainly invisible instruments devised for the sake of control have come under many names, though often confusingly anagrammatized by diplomatic and journalistic language. For “readability” and in an interview explaining he did not want to ‘swamp the reader and leave him feeling disgusted and helpless’, Walberg lists only some of these abbreviations in the front matter. Reading through Chapter Three, where many not digested in the front of the book do appear, consolidates and confirms the sense of “dirty tricks” played over and over again in many different contexts, by both a “soft” and “hard” kind of politics. AIPAC, AJC, BCCI, CFR, JDL, JFNA, JINSA, PMAJO, PNAC, RIIA, ZOA. A few European and then several American entities composed of the most elite business and political figures oversaw the grand vision: The Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations. NATO, created to prevent the spread of Communism in Europe, in GGIII has been expanded to police US hegemony in Libya, and, now, presumably anywhere. Similar, smaller, more ad hoc advocacy front groups such as the Project for a New American Century (earlier, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs), the American Enterprise Institute, more recently, the Heritage Foundation, have the same general agenda. What strikes the reader is how thick a fetid tissue of lies and “dirty war” tactics the US and Israel have utilized on the way to, and the enforced maintenance of, the “Empire-and-a-Half”.

If middle-of-the-roaders, or anyone, had any doubt about the global fact of the American Empire, going back, to mention a few of the US uses of imperial force in GGII, mostly described as opposing Communism, have been in: Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama. Many wars-by-proxy, often with US soldiers on the ground, have been fought in Central America, largely to protect US business interests, though “communism” was blamed and eradication of it justified by the Monroe Doctrine. Partial list of coups arranged:[14] Syria, Greece, Iran (1953), British Guyana. Guatemala – which led to 40 years of caudillos, death squads, and genocide. South Vietnam (1955), Haiti, Laos (1958 and 1959), South Korea, Laos (1960), Dominican Republic, South Vietnam (1963), Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia (1964), Zaire, Ghana, Greece (1967), Cambodia, Bolivia (1970). Chile (the murder of democratically-elected Allende and the installation of Pinochet, who “disappeared” thousands), Argentina (followed by the “Dirty War”). South Korea (1979), Liberia, Chad, Venezuela (attempted), Honduras (2009). Attempted probably several times in Cuba, before and after the Bay of Pigs. Now and for many years, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan. What’s next? Pakistan? If the neocons have their way, the arch-enemy of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran?[15]

IV. Checkmate

One can see how Dick Cheney might think the Big Dog of the US Empire is wagging its tail. But is it the other way around? One of Walberg’s prime emphases and the subject of the book’s longest chapter is tiny Israel, England’s creation after it had carved up the Middle East into “artificial states”, as Walberg notes, convenient to its purposes. Relying on an extraordinary array of references he makes clear Israel is a racist, expansionist power acting for many years now often completely contrary to American interests and with ambitions not only for its own “manifest destiny” and regional hegemony over “Greater Israel” but for an end-Game III ascension onto the world-stage.

That Israel has long had its own, singular objective and will do whatever it takes not just to survive but expand (the two are the same for a “chosen people”) is made clear by an incident Walberg cites.

After 1967, France ended its cooperation to mollify its Arab allies but it was too late. Commenting on the creative political use of its nuclear weapons, head of the French Atomic Energy Agency Francis Perrin explains, “‘We thought the Israeli bomb was aimed against the Americans, not to launch against America, but to say, ‘if you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us, otherwise we will use our nuclear bomb”’. This became a particularly alarming issue during the 1973 war with Egypt. Martin van Creveld, an Israeli professor of military history warned: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that this will happen before Israel goes under.”

Walberg, incidentally, was raised a Presbyterian; now, he refers to himself as a “freelance monotheist”. He says he has learned the basic Muslim prayers and attends a mosque with Muslim friends, but he also goes to church with his family in Canada. Far from being an anti-Semite, he says he would be delighted to pray with “True Torah Jews” if the opportunity – and invitation – came. These facts do not appear in any way to compromise the case he sounds out at some length and as a major chord through the book.[16] I challenge readers to find reputably sourced contradictory facts to his assertions about an expansionist Israel, Jewish American neocons, and the “kosher nostra”, all in the service of Zionism, directly or indirectly – as this likely will be, misleadingly, the most publicly contentious part of his argument, at least in America.

As Lenin asserted, imperialism, like capitalism, requires expansion until world control is reached. Such expansion requires endless wars and/or aggressive maintenance – one assumes, also, as Orwell observed, creation of an/the Enemy for the purpose of homeland indoctrination and control, and, one might add, continued exploitation of the peripheries, as Walberg notes.

For all the Inferior Ones – the Third World’s wood cutters and water carriers,[17] the peasants, the peons, the proles, but also the progressives, the struggling middle-class intellectuals, the student activists, the eco-conscious and the moveon.org-ers…and the NASCAR- and the NRA-Joe and Jolene Sixpacks, as well as the small-government insisters and the family-values potato-heads (sorry, couldn’t stop myself) – for all of them, they still have no voice, and are passive as History is made for them, to their own often great misfortune. Povertization for the sake of enriching the already superrich is combining now with global climate change and possible planet-wide catastrophe. One suspects the Wall Street protests will fade, stymied by general feelings of impotence to force change and that, unless a spark happens to ignite the tensions caused by US insistence on its world hegemony, the wars on the peripheries will continue and the American people, with even slight and temporary improvement in the home economy, will fall back in line behind America’s “exceptionalism”.

But for the US, Israel is the fly in the ointment. “[T]he fundamentally anachronistic nature of Zionist plans [are those of] a settler colonial regime in a neocolonial era”, which is “a recipe for permanent war”. Defying Bush I, who tried to bring Israel into line and who had no Jews in his Cabinet, Jews worked for his defeat. Clinton knew better, appointing five to his Cabinet, and dozens to the Departments of State and Defense.[18] After 9/11, Bush launched the War on Terror “which, by definition, can’t be won”, says Walberg – “can’t be won” because the enemy is a will ‘o the wisp, and the designation can be adapted or expanded almost infinitely – to the ends of the earth, the limits of the imperium. Referring to Barack Obama as “Brzezinski’s protegé”, Walberg notes that Jewish Americans such as Paul Volcker, Lawrence Summers, and Timothy Geithner have wielded decisive clout over the failing economy in the Obama Administration – an economy that has continued to benefit only the richest few, and the largest multinationals, while Obama continues to rely on Wall Street for his campaign war chest.[19] Citing Hannah Arendt and Benjamin Ginsburg, Walberg explains how Jews throughout history, and now Zionism and Israel, have always made “fatal embraces” with powerful states, putting their money on those at the very top of the heap but whose position can get very shaky…and collapse when capitalist exploitation, in its never-ending, always increasing, hunt for profit extends lethally even to the home front.

Quoted in full, here, is Walberg’s summation of patterns of activities by Israel and its diverse agents connected in various degree with the Israeli state:

Israel is playing an increasingly independent role in GGIII around the world, with its government, corporations and Kosher Nostra working with whatever states and non-state actors are willing to condone its deadly games, selling arms (for example, to China, Russia, India, Sri Lanka), smuggling drugs (to Europe and the US)…buying blood diamonds (from Africa), conducting covert operations to subvert governments (for example, in Syria, Iraq, Iran), assassinating opponents, forging passports, spying and eavesdropping, harboring ‘Jewish’ fugitives, sometimes in support of the US in its game strategies and objectives, sometimes not, depending on its own interests. Its diaspora community and Chabad network, found in virtually every corner of the globe, facilitate its game plan, keeping ahead of US plans and technology through its American sayanim, operatives, spies and powerful lobby… In keeping with Jewish survival strategy throughout history, Israel’s plans are more subtle than those of the current ruling US Empire, as it cannot hope to subdue the world directly, but rather primarily by shaping or subverting its host empire’s aims and strategies, to achieve its geopolitical “place in the sun” both through its diaspora and through its own use of statecraft and subversion, untroubled by world reaction.

Is he saying there is a worldwide Jewish conspiracy? Fact-checkers and critics of how he has read the facts there will be. It must be pointed out that in the US and, to lesser degree, in Europe,[20] Israel is still given the benefit of the doubt on most matters because of the Holocaust,[21] despite its settler expansion into Palestinian lands and universally condemned subjugation of Palestinians. With linked after linked fact dug up and presented in context, Walberg persuasively depicts Israel as an actor on the world stage that has, more often than not, justified the means by the ends – no differently from other players for greater-and-greater hegemony, but, according to Walberg, much more virulently.

Increasingly, the US war against Islam and Islamic countries is the only synchronicity with Israel, apart from the Palestinian-Israeli stagmire. Walberg asserts that an increasing divide exists now between the US and Israel because of the stagmire, and, further, that the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is helping undermine the America’s worldwide imperium. Not concerned except for the fact that it will have to tread carefully in a post-US world order, opportunistically for some time Israel has been pursuing other alliances and protectors to exploit for its own needs and oversized ambitions. One might hope that America going over the cliff does not take the rest of the world with it. Walberg speculates about replacements for US imperialism that may be more peaceful cooperatives of Big and Growing Powers – China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Japan, Germany…Iran. But if the very ugly past is any guide, the transition stands to be much uglier – and perhaps, truly horrific.

V. Post-Game Analysis for those in the Home Bleachers

OK. Imagine a Marcel Proust thirty years from now. Assume a quiet retiring by America from its world control and a society exists in which contemplative writers, an episteme like Proust, might try to recall the zeitgeist. Pictured in his mind – and only other 19th and early 20th century analyses, a phenomenological epoché, followed by a dialectical understanding of materialist history, might just begin to illuminate matters: a great, GREAT, monolithic presence…shadowy, flickeringly visible but only like a mirage, a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t thing that, on reflection, you just cannot believe is real. It is so well disguised from the quotidian life of TV.…cell phone…internet…supermalls ever more super because urges for consumption drive the dulling of the citizen as well as eat up the world…[22] family vans, Hummers, and tank-like SUV’s with more and more room to cart home what was purchased (everything made in China)…all of this making up the late postmodern lebenswelt, the life-world…the there, as Heidegger says, though he would despise how American exploitation of the planet and its consumer capitalism not only is false consciousness but has noxious impact and influence on Nature everywhere it goes.

(Not a Proust, but, again, the simple citizen in the plains and gullies of the American Heartland is asking: What are we doing in all these chicken-ass places so far away from home? The slogans pasted on the back of his truck hollow of meaning, he asks: Why should he support, with his taxes, with the Stars and Stripes on his porch, “defense of American interests” everywhere on the globe?)

One draws closer to the structure. A huge dollar sign (not the Euro, not the yuan) is carved on it, in Times Roman font. Little antlike individuals we make out are walking or running on its top. Not many little men, as we look more closely…or else their numbers, though in the thousands,[23] are constantly diminishing. All of the little men as if by sumptuary law are attired in the finest but most conservative suits. The ties are silk. Everything is custom-made, but designed not to look so except to the well-trained eye. We realize they are of The Caste. Suddenly, crudely, some of the little men shove other little men off the monolith. Most float down under golden parachutes.

Jamie Dimon – who looks like a nice fella – is up there (see him ‘lashing out at global bank rules as “anti-American”); calculated for the last five years, his compensation from B of A was $107 million. Also Brian Moynihan – another square-chinned mensch (see him explaining that five dollar debit card fee). And John Stumpf (see him explaining how the “rogue trader” $2 billion loss at UBS is a windfall for him). Many others are there from the investment firms. The hedge funds. The CEO’s of the oil and energy companies. Boeing and other defense contractors. The paradigm for the successfully diversified gigantic multinational, General Electric – whose current Chief, Jeffrey R. Immelt, is the head of Obama’s “Job’s Council”. GE is particularly interesting because not only is it part of the military-industrial complex, with GE Capital it focuses on what many, not just Muslims but also Eastern Orthodox and old-school Catholic Christians, are against, usury. As was Marx. GE operates round the world. With its great cadre of tax lawyers focused on exploiting to the hilt corporate tax loopholes, Immelt’s GE reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion in 2010, but paid $0 in taxes.[24]

But men like Immelt and Blankfein and Dimon cause great things to happen. They are the real leaders of the world, the helmsmen – not presidents or prime ministers or other satraps. They are of consequence. Of substance. They make history. The work they do is for us. Well, not us. Humanity, in the abstract. Making sure the best genes are passed on – “best” determined by who swims in those rough green seas of money and eats the smaller fish. As Leo Strauss advised, channeling Hegel’s Master-and-Slave, life is a fight, might makes right. They don’t make huge amounts of money for their own sake, nor for our sake, but for the sake of the species, altruistically breeding the best that humankind can be. The determinant for who can pass on their genes is who piles up the most money. Is there any better type of human than the Patriotic Neocon or the Banker? A bit unfortunate for the IOs.

Congratulations to Walberg for a magnificent, and all-too-timely, work. Buy this book. Read it.


[1] http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html.

[2] For Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, on ‘doing God’s work’, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEMaFuOQZVo. What Blankfein does not mention is the source of the inspiration for his finance capitalism,: Leo Strauss, the University of Chicago economist and gray eminence behind the neocons. Strauss, believed capitalism was a contamination of the purer interpretation of the Hegel’s Master-and-Slave allegory – he preferred feudalism, instead, with a hereditary nobility and serfdom.

[3] Tallied in September. This is two points higher than the all-time low of 13%, reached in August of this year (http://www.gallup.com/poll/149399/Congressional-Job-Approval.aspx).

[4] The exhaustion of Britain after World War II, together with inspired and persistent rejection by its colonies, led to the collapse of the British Empire. However, how it collapsed – recognizing indigenous nationalist movements demanding self-determination, divesting itself of them in a peaceful manner, allowed what could have been great amounts of deaths and suffering to be avoided. With the power neocons continue to have in Washington, the American exceptionalism of the Republican Party, and the great investment in and stockpiling of soldiers and weaponry throughout the globe, the inevitable collapse of the US Empire collapse may be entirely different. Eisenhower’s ‘military-industrial complex’, in effect, requires endless war, and is more powerful than ever, with the corporation-friendly Reagan and Bush years shoring it up such that pulling the trigger of the cocked pistols is going to continue all over the world until the US government has no money left.

[5] Social scientists distinguish “states” from “less complex” entities such as “chiefdoms” by their ability to wield coercive force. The US possesses great coercive force with its military, police, FBI, CIA, NSA, Department of Homeland Security, and other resources. Any violent revolution, therefore, has no chance of success. Only people power can cause change to come about.

[6] Obama, too, has been awed: he thinks Blankfein is a “savvy businessman”. See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aKGZkktzkAlA.

[7] An excellent one is Eric Escobar.

[8] 1997.

[9] As Marx observed, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

[10] See Socialism or Barbarism, by Istvan Meszaros, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2001.

[11] One of the tactics was to tie rebelling Indian captives to the fronts of cannons and then fire off the big guns.

[12] According to http://vizwiz.blogspot.com/2011/02/who-owns-americas-debt.html, China and Japan own 23% and 22% respectively of the US debt, followed distantly by the UK, which owns 12%.

[13] Eisenhower’s Secretary of State under, John Foster Dulles, was one of Wall Street’s top lawyers, working for the law firm hired by United Fruit, which was the banana company that owned at one point half of all the arable land in Guatemala. Supposedly also because of his religious convictions, he was also a staunch anti-Communist – Communism was ‘atheistic’. Dulles regarded the Monroe Doctrine – asserting its right to hegemonic control the Americas, defendable by military force at US discretion – as the single most important pillar of American foreign policy (for this pages 9-10 of Richard Immerman’s dissection of the 1954 CIA-assisted coup in Guatemala, The CIA in Guatemala, University of Texas Press, Austin [ninth printing, 2004]).

[14] From http://www.krysstal.com/democracy_whyusa01.html.

[15] Interestingly, “human-rights” criticisms of Islam and Islamic regimes often have to do with the status and treatment of women. As admirable as this “transcendent value” might be,  cultural context is rarely taken into consideration before application of this as a reason for intervention by force. Conveniently, other regimes with far worse treatment of women are unmentioned and left untouched, while other, less mentioned, reasons for war, as in Iraq, Iraqi oil, are downplayed or conflated to make them appear unimportant. As much as the ordinary citizen of the West may have believed that Saddam Hussein was a demon, women had equality in his Iraq, women’s literacy rates were the highest in the Arab world, and health services and education were almost cost-free. One has to fight, mentally, not only the accepted version of Saddam Hussein provided via a constant tide of propaganda to see matters in better perspective. One way, of course, is to consider the main source of the demonizing before the Iraq Wars – Bush’s White House. Another way to accomplish this is by simple comparisons. For example, if we accept that capitalism as part of state expansion and vice versa played a large role in causing the two world wars of the last century, the 80 million military and civilian casualties and deaths greatly dwarf Nazism. One would think that rightwing believers in capitalism as representing freedom would have a hard time justifying its transcendent values as worth so many dead. Mao and Stalin may have been responsible for as many as 50 or 60 million, though accurate estimates are difficult to come by and depend on how one makes the count. Of course, with the Vietnam War – Americanized when French colonial hegemony ended at Dienbienphu  – the US fought against communism, extending the Monroe Doctrine to Southeast Asia; this war saw approximately 1,275,000 combatant deaths, and 2,000,000 civilian dead. Estimates of Iraqi citizen deaths have been extremely hard to come by – the obvious conclusion: the US government does not wish the number known.

[16] With the book’s small publisher located in Atlanta, Georgia, and given the immensely influential American Jewish lobby and American Jews in positions of great power in government, banking, Wall Street, and Hollywood, Walberg says his relatively small means and Spartan life-style, living in Cairo, can’t be targeted effectively.

[17] From Rudyard Kipling’s time, the dismissive phrase, ‘the wood cutters and the water carriers’, well conveyed the inconsequentiality of the native populations subjected to colonial control and exploitation.

[18] As Walberg documents, Israeli spying in the US has been sustained, large-scale, and continuous. Only one spy for Israel working in the US, Jonathan Pollard, is doing serious jail time. There have been many other Israeli spies but all seem to have been let off with the lightest of rebukes or their espionage has simply been passed on.

[19] Dick Cheney, of course, was CEO of war-profiteering Halliburton before he selected himself to be Bush’s vice presidential running mate – and before the Republican Five on the Supreme Court selected Bush to be president. Cheney’s role as de facto president has never been seriously questioned. How many readers of Spike remember Don Regan? He was Reagan’s chief-of-staff as well as the CEO of Merrill Lynch; in one now notorious appearance by Reagan in front of Wall Streeters and journalists, Regan is shown on video whispering to his supposed boss to shut up and leave the podium. Can anyone, nowadays, dispute that the chiefs of military-industrial corporations and finance capitalism are still largely running the show?

[20] Diplomatically more countries around the world have recognized the Palestinians state than have recognized Israel.

[21] No reasonable person can truck with “Holocaust deniers”. But other atrocities in history were far, far greater in scope and scale than the killing of Jews in World War II. Estimates are that within a hundred years of the Spanish Conquest ninety percent of the indigenous populations of the Americas were dead. While yellow fever caused a large number of these deaths, slavery, massacre, enforced work laws and, latterly, civil wars and genocide in Central America, killed native populations in numbers far greater than the Holocaust did.

[22] Tossed around so often it is like a water polo ball is the statistic that the US consumes 25% of the world’s resources. The result of humans eating up the planet is global warming, fished-out, acidified, dying oceans, and excretions of junk and false consciousness almost everywhere.

[23] In 2007, Forbes Magazine counted almost a thousand billionaires worldwide. Bank of America ‘wealth management chief’, Sally Krawcheck, counted ten million millionaires in 2010 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnPatMfEMRM). Sally actually was one of those pushed over the edge after she made her count. Uncounted were the exponentially increasing numbers of people living below the poverty lines.

[24] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=all.

reviewed by Jonathan Kaplan


Postmodern Imperialism available at http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html


Connect with Eric Walberg

Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

From Books

  • James Clear, Atomic Habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones, Penguin Random House, 2018.

    Rules: make obvious, fun, easy, satisfying. ie, hide 'bad' habit stimuli, see them as unpleasant, hard, unsatisfying, to break ‘bad’ habit.

    -the more tasks you can handle without thinking, the more your brain is free to focus on other areas.

    -little stresses compound into serious health issues.

    -knowledge builds up, like compound interest. (buffett)

    -if you see people as angry, unjust, selfish, you will see them everywhere.

    -the more you help others, the more others want to help you. Build up connections (~ knowledge)

    -not how successful you are right now. Your current trajectory rather than current results.

    -fall in love with the process rather than the product. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. Your commitment to the process will determine your progress.

    -true behaviour change is identity change. Start habit from motivation but stick with it because it becomes part of your identity. Must believe. Your habits are how you embody your identity. (when you write each day you embody identity of creative person.) Identity: proof in pudding. (what you do is what you are.) process of building habits is the process of becoming yourself.

  • Hamilton is a biker’s paradise. Even the inevitable ribbons of death (Hwys 403 and 407) slicing through it haven’t killed it. It is disparaged as Hammertown/ Steeltown for its attack of rust-beltitis in the era of ‘free trade’ (not). It’s kind of dreary, compared to Toronto or even its twin Burlington, which Maclean’s dubbed Canada’s shiniest new urban paradise (maybe true if you are a car addict), but that is in fact its cachet.

    Its heyday was a century ago (but then that’s true of all colonial Canada), and it is not a high tech hub, but it has the Niagara Escarpment and its stagnating economy means no massive high rise condomania. Its working class ethos is served by its NDP MPPs and MP, and the affordable Chedoke Civic Golf Course smack in the centre of the city.

    Incredibly, to reach the first of the fine bike trails I traversed, the Chedoke trail, you ride right into the course and walk up the hill to the clubhouse, where the trail begins. I watched some very working class guys tee off, the first beautifully (each your heart out Trump), the second hooking dangerously, evoking stentorious FOREs.

    The trail edges gently up along the escarpment and eventually arrives at the ominous 403 with a rickety wooden bridge over the incessant hurtling death machines. Down the steps and walking up a steep hill, I was sweating and paused as a jolly fellow climbed the hill proudly, though he was going so slowly, I was sure he would fall.

    I hadn’t (yet) got lost, and casually took Jeff’s directions to a waterfall, as Hamilton is also nicknamed ‘city of waterfalls’ (100+). Mistake. Ignoring my diligently prepared left-right-lefts, I ended up on a hill longer than any in my experience, fortunately with a bike lane. Even slowing down, I would soon reach a kind of terminal velocity, requiring total awareness, as manholes flashed by and would have bumped precariously.

    Finally, nearing the bottom, Tiffany falls (not the one Jeff had intended). As throughout the day, the other visitors were Indian in saris, with a dottering matriarch inching along over the rocks.

    A ‘ribbon falls’, a graceful ribbon falling gently (most of the time), named in honour of Dr Oliver Tiffany, who emigrated from the upstart United States in 1796 with his brother. Oliver was born in Massachusetts and studied medicine at Dartmouth.

    Ironically, it was the father who was a rebel. Both sons were not impressed with the coup or whatever, and like tens of thousands of Loyalists, they migrated to British North America, hopeful that their father’s sins would not condemn them. Canada welcomed these ‘draft dodgers’, especially doctors, so Oliver was ‘granted’ a hefty tract which included the falls. He practiced medicine 40 years and is a founding father of Dundas-Hamilton.

    Much as Oliver’s moral values appeal to me, refusing to be a part of what was already shaping up to be a cruel and racist society devoted to money and genocide, I wonder if he would join Canadians today in at least honouring the people whose land the Crown stole for him? His land was right outside the border of the ‘6 mile agreement' granted Joseph Brant, the head of the 6 Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Caygua, Seneca, Tuscarora) for resisting the Yanks during their revolution, sticking by the Crown.

    How generous, giving the natives some of their land back. On paper. Within a decade, the 6 miles on either side of the Grand River were being whittled away, leaving only a tiny reserve just south of Brantford (thanks for the name, Queen Victoria). Oliver was not part of that theft, just the general seizing of land where the natives were few and guns many.

    Conservationhamilton.ca thoughtfully provided a map which looked perfect for guiding me back on my pursuit of the Dundas Valley trail, which is smack in the middle between Dundas and Hamilton, with dozens of squiggly red, green orange, purple and blue ribbons. I followed Wilson Street looking for a BT (bike trail) marking. No luck. Suddenly i was being directed into McMaster University and headed for downtown Hamilton. Hmmm.

    I turned around and spied two cyclists going up Wilson and figured I better try to catch up. Maybe they were headed to these trails. Fortunately one was a plucky but not very fit woman, slowing down her partner, so I was able to catch up to them just as they were turning off the road into a huge, freshly asphalted parking lot,unattached to anything, built to use up some leftover asphalt? Whatever its real purpose, it served mine, and I hailed them. Mark looked at my map and refused to believe that I’d just come from Tiffany falls. ‘We’re going that way and you came from there,’ Mark pointed at the opposite end of Wilson.

    Peacemaker Lynn pulled out her phone and google-mapped where we were, As they were headed for Old Ancaster Road, my direction, they offered to show me the way.

    We proceeded on a pokey little road without cars, an old road with cracks, my kind of road. ‘I’ve lived here ten years and still get disoriented,’ admitted Mark. Like St Catherine’s, Hamilton-Dundas has the escarpment as a backdrop, so roads zigzag, abruptly change names, and then change back with ‘west’ or boulevard added. There were NO markings for the trails, but a very condensed map I photocopied from ontariobybike.ca was useful. In fact, if I’d just ignored friendly advice, I might have avoided the detours, but I’m on an adventure, right? And seeing things as a local.

    So - surprise, surprise - Mark’s left-rights led me in the wrong direction, but less wrong than the Dundas map. After ending up back on Wilson, I retraced my steps and somehow ended up on the Dundas Valley trail through a backdoor. The maze of trails are more for mountain bikes, but I had a bumpy bit of fun and finally got to Ground Zero and the Hamilton-Brantford rail trail. Though I despise these rail trails after 5 or so minutes, this was a welcome no-brainer, and I sailed along the wooded lane back to the Chedoke Civic Golf Course. Too far, the day is young, so I backtracked and found Cootes Paradise (Thomas Coote, a British Army officer during the American Revolutionary War), which was on the Ontariobybike route, so I figured -- paradise must be scenic.

    It was 4-lanes, but clearly a scenic drive, and not much traffic, even a bike lane. Biking along, I suddenly realized what was so restful -- Hamilton is devoid of bilboards! No Coke, McWhatever. Here there were only tasteful banners hugging the light poles, advertising ‘Engineering for your health’, 'Social studies searching for solutions for a Bright Future for us all'.

    Deja vu, Soviet Union redux. Ads strictly public service: ‘Study, study, study! V I Lenin’. Cool. There wasn’t much of a view, but a break was long overdue, so I pulled off at Hydro One, a dull but spacious and empty lot with some trees and a disintegrating picnic table. I found an abandoned portable cooler (no lid, removed the TIDE laundry soap and DRANO) and propped it up as something to lean back on as I munched some protein bar, had a toke, and vegged out.

    My chaise longue was facing something called Dundas FSB, which had since moved and the building, an anonymous red brick blob, was abandoned, but, what the heck, it was like installation art for late capitalism. (FSB is an insurance firm (fsbgroup.ca) though not even Wikipedia offers a suggestion of what FSB means (First Somali Bank?).) A cricket was inspired by the glorious sunshine to sing, a turkey vulture wheeled overhead. The collapsing picnic table gave the scene a Norman Rockwell touch. A perfect moment.

    I already knew York Road up ahead, and how it becomes Old York Road, another biking treat, winding, up and down, north of Hamilton, skirting downtown and leading me to Aldershot GO station. I was relying on Google map for the next leg, which hopefully would lead me to the station. Yes, Plains Road, a jag, a pass under the dreaded 403 to Waterdown Road and home.

    Just as I was approaching the crossing, a grim Grand Order of Israel cemetery. NO EXIT. What?! Are we in the West Bank? Clearly what Google suggested did not exist. A bit like Google whiting out the West Bank Wall on its maps. (It seems I took Snake Road by missnake.)

    What to do? Fortunately I always leave at least 2 hours for these snags. (I used up all two and then some, this time.) Along comes a super-cyclist, whizzing down the hill and disappearing. Follow the cyclist! I plodded after him in the opposite direction of the GO station, figuring there must be a crossing the other way.

    There was! And I was back in gear. Yes, Plains Road but this time West (?), over the 403 ribbon of death, and getting closer to home. But wait! What are those white things in what looks like a large pond? I suddenly realized I was going right through the RBG (Royal Botanical Gardens) on this 4-lane mini-expressway.

    The sun wasn’t that low. I should stop in. Then, a Timmy’s materialized! Much as I loathe these franchises, they are central to our car culture. And I’d run out of water. So I got a scone and a medium coffee, drank a bit, and risked propping it in my carrier, hoping to enjoy it in the RBG (though the Tim Horton’s patio actually looked across the busy road at some trees. Thank you, Tim.).

    The RBG was the highlight of the day. The whistful, late afternoon sun, recapping the approaching winter, though still warm, sunny, with gusts of wind. I walked my bike down into the sheltered valley, an ‘oak savannah’, a relatively open forest of oak, the natural formation before the colonists came (and cut down all the oaks). They are trying to reconstruct the original setting, which was rare in North America and now only preserved in conservation lands.

    It was full of families, leisurely strolling, walking through the swamp (excuse me, ‘wetlands’), reading the very readable soundbytes about urban sewerage captured and processed by Mother Nature, providing a home for waterfowl and indigenous plants, all monitored by a newly green city.

    I stopped to watch two young girls offering sunflower seeds and a stray cheerio to chickadees. We waited.(NEVER wait for a bird to do what you want!) As I lost patience, suddenly a tiny black-white vision darted in and dashed away with its prize. ‘It took the cheerio, not the sunflower!’ she enthused. ‘A junk food chickadee,’ I made the girls giggle, and carried on to see the swans.

    As I climbed a hill (please, the last one!), it was nice to see 4-5 people leisurely climbing the deserted road from the gardens. What a nice reversion of things to a human scale, I thought. Suddenly, HONK! A car-bot was affronted: how dare you hog MY road. I almost laughed, it was so stupid, silly, insulting. One women instinctively responded, sorry. I thought: NO! That a-hole should be sorry for being an a-hole.

    I was aiming for the 5:31pm train to Toronto, figuring it was maybe 5:15pm. I headed straight to platform 4, came out of the elevator to see a train. Toronto? Yes! It was already 5:35pm and it just happened to be late. What a fillip. The train announcer kept apologizing very loudly  for being late. Ha, ha.

    I sat and sighed. And overheard an old codger (not me, a really old codger!) loudly reminiscing about WWII and hearing the German planes over Norwich. ‘They came from Norway (no!) to bomb the west … no, I guess, the east coast.’ Ha! I’m not the only one who mixes up east and west, invariably goes the wrong way, has to learn from his own mistakes. A rather pathetic, ageless, obese fellow in the next seat shouted at the codger: I think China should invade the US and get rid of that moron Trump. Hmmm. Through the mouth of babes. Mr Codger asked, ‘Trump? Who’s that?’ Ahhh, the bliss of ignorance.

    What a relief. No flat tire, no accident. Lots of wrong turns, misdirections, misfollowing directions, but 50 kms in 7 1/2 hrs. Not bad. And all the misdirections, Jeff, Mark/ Lynn, Google, conservationhamilton.ca merely made it more unpredictable. Leibnitz said it all: God is good. Therefore, the universe that God chose to exist is the best of all possible worlds.*


    Gottfried Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays (1686).

  • Okay, a bit of Lake Ontario -- the fabulous Waterfront Trail from Oshawa to Toronto, 60km, almost all in sight of the lake. Hardly any private mansions, and the towns with their marinas in between are funky. Accessible (free for bikes) on GO commuter trains from as far as away as Hamilton (the waterfront trail going west from Toronto is much less enjoyable).

    I was afraid it might be too easy, and the lake boring after a while, but not so. It’s always an orienteering game, and the trail is never straight (except for bridges).

    I’ve done the Pickering-Toronto stretch (40km) twice now (Pickering just west of Ajax). The first time always a learning experience. My first trip was also the inauguration of my Presto card, the new gimmick to minimize user-worker contact, which I don’t like, but I’ve got the hang of it by now. Do NOT forget to tap your card when leaving the GO train. Which I did, as I flew out of the station and over two hills and found the path. A bike is a form of meditation. Ram Dass's 'Be Here Now.' You get in a rhythm as you process your thoughts and the trip so far and what's ahead. Oh no! Didn’t tap the card. So my first retracing of steps (not the first or last time).

    The panorama, the air. Such a relief from Toronto. And no ‘ribbons of death’ to contend with. The deadly hwy 401 a safe distance, buried behind lots of trees. Only the occasion rush of the electric train, the railway being the least deadly of our obsession with speed and distance. The two rail tracks just a tad wider than one car-truck lane. And when you make that 10--12 car-truck lanes and football-field size interchanges, the environmental impact is truly shocking.

    You reach the Port Union Waterfront Park over two wooden walkways, with marsh and river underneath. Too bad the stern warning ‘No swimming - high water’. The water looked fine, Google says it’s okay. Bureaucracy. I could have found a cove and done my own thing, but on both my first and second trips, I was saving energy for the final haul getting through Toronto home.

  • Our civilization is a top-down hierarchical one, as are most large-scale ones in the past, i.e., one-to-the-many, 'top-down', explains Kall in an interview with Tom Hartmann. Kall's book is the distillation of his experience founding and running the  website Opednews, which started as a personal blog, i.e., one-to-the-many, 'bottom-bottom', and morphed into a many-to-the-many, with the potential of bottom-top, as a volunteer-based collective.

    Kall calls this 'gayan', as contributors and management are directly interconnected in a symbiotic, transparent relationship. Writers can 'fan' their favorite writers at Opednews and both comment, generating discussions of controversial topics, and contact other members directly.

  • I finally took my plan of a bike trip along the Welland Canal seriously, preparing my map, checking google map for the route from the train station to the canal (quite a ways, requiring navigating one of the ribbons of death that cut through St Catharines, typical of most North American cities. I would have more than my share of negotiating/ avoiding them.

    The first obstacle was highway 406, a kind of 21st century Welland Canal, a midget at 23 km, begun in 1965 and only turned into a 4-lane beast in 2009. There are even a few seconds of beauty -- for motorists only.

  • The 9/11 dust is finally settling. Blumenthal takes us on a nightmare tour of the landscape, starting with two key moments in 2018 that dramatically expose the plot behind the passion play taking place even as we sip our morning coffee: Trump’s absence from the establishment’s lovefest-funeral for McCain, and a few days later, the New York Times editorial ‘I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration’, excoriating Trump’s ‘amoral leadership’.

    McCain has been latched onto as the anti-Trump icon (he’s safely dead so he can’t mess things up, a habit this very Trump-like loose cannon was prone to). At the virtual state funeral (absent the head of state), McCain’s  daytime talkshow host daughter Meghan repackaged McCain’s ‘finest hour’, the (illegal, horrible, criminal) Vietnam War as a fight for the ‘life and liberty of other peoples in other lands’, a celebration of American empire, rebuking Trump (America was always great)  as a threat to its survival.

    Blumenthal’s message is crystal clear: US-Israel policy from 1979 on has been to create and support Muslim terrorism, even as it claims to be fight terrorism. It used jihadi in Afghanistan to undermine the Soviet Union, and has used them against Iran and Syria. Create the problem, and provide the solution.

  • Jeremy Kuzmarov, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the foreign policy of the permanent warfare state, Clarity, 2019.

    In Obama’s Unending Wars, Kuzmarov has brought together many telling proofs, nuggets, of just how horrible the world is, and just how responsible the US and its henchmen around the world are. A kind of who-does-it. Kuzmarov is that rare analyst (Belen Fernandez is another) who respects footnotes, leaving fascinating bits there that would otherwise detract from his focus.

    Standing out in my mind after reading OUW is the power that China has matured into in the past three decades, the US more and more resentful and frightened by it. Russia also has reclaimed much of its international clout, abandoned by Yeltsin, retrieved and nurtured by Putin, again infuriating the US. Other developed countries play almost no part in OUW, as if passive spectators of the geopolitical battles now being fought, as if they don’t even exist.

    But as a Canadian, that makes perfect sense. Canada long ago lost any respect internationally, respect it once merited during and immediately after WWII, the only ‘good war’ the world has ever seen, fought courageously by ‘good guys’ against ‘bad guys’. We are living in a grey fog ever since.

  • Fernandez's second book could be called The imperial messenger: Thomas Friedman at work Part II, or This is Not a Travel Book. The subject of her first book delightfully keeps popping up at conferences, interviewing American puppets, his spirit haunting her from the New York Times opeds exhorting Africans to tend their gardens, saluting Colombian ex-president Uribe.*

    Her observations are often laced with strychnine, since, for all her revulsion at the empire, she can't avoid its footprint. It is everywhere, often ridiculous, all too often lethal, tragic,

    the global superpower that has specialized in making much of the planet an unfit abode for its inhabitants via a combination of perennial war, environmental despoliation, and punitive economic policies resulting in mass migration. Despite being founded on slavery and the genocide of Native Americans, it presents itself as the global model for greatness—a position that is unilaterally interpreted as a carte blanche to bomb, invade, and otherwise enlighten the rest of the world as it sees fit.

    Every few pages, a lightbulb moment.

  • Matt Farwell, Michael Ames, American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the US Tragedy in Afghanistan, Penguin, 2019.

    Bergdahl captured the American imagination in 2009 when he disappeared from what had become his living hell. His battalion commander, Lt Baker, was not only an obnoxious tyrant (handing out Field-Grade Article 15s, just short of a court martial, supposedly for being out of uniform, but in fact for complaining about the mission to a Guardian photo-journalist in a video broadcast), but he had ordered them to build the OB (observation post) Mest on a cemetery, defiling, even defecating on gravestones near the FOB (forward operating base) Sharana.

    He was as much a victim of the latest American COIN (counterinsurgency) strategy as a deserter. Taken captive by the enemy (Taliban) under the protection of an ally (Pakistan), embodying the self-enforcing illogic of the entire war.

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, my journey through a turbulent world, St Martin’s, 2016.

    The art of autobiography is a slippery one, “a review of a life from a particular moment in time.”* Whatever truths are revealed here by Khalilzad in 2016, they are by definition personal truths, confessions, with lots of caveats.

    The Afghan version of Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick, Zalmay Khalilzad (ZKh) began life in a remote village, riding a horse to school. He brags of winning a race by taking a short cut through a farmer’s melon field, crushing the precious fruit but bragging to mommy upon reaching home. No remorse for collateral damage. No punishment. He would go on to repeat his success as ambassador and hitman in first Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Afghanistan, then the UN.

    He is a staunch Republican, so he disappeared into private consultancyland under Obama, president of Khalilzad Associates. In September 2018 he was rehabilitated, hired by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to serve as a special envoy to Afghanistan. Good timing with the autobio, Zal.

  • Linh Dinh, Postcards from the End of America, Seven Stories, 2017.

    A masterly saga of a broken nation, Linh writes his Postcards from the End of America as he moves from town to town by rail and bus, with lots of walking, each one anchored by a theme, sort of, though what stands out are the deftly sketched portraits of mostly down-and-out survivors of the pressure cooker America, seething and occasionally exploding in violence and collapse.

    What is powerful is the intensely personal look inside the beast. Linh calls himself "a Unapoet",* a "PayPal-buttoned, reader-supported blogger". He writes with care and at the same time, abandon, occasionally losing it with angry Unabomber** diatribes.  But given the subject matter, it’s hard to fault him. In an interview with Diacritics, he calls it "a diary of America’s ongoing collapse, and I’ve learnt much from roaming around." A kind of Unatourism.

  • Review Ed. Cynthia McKinney, How the US Creates “Sh*thole” Countries, Clarity, 2018.

    Bravo to Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman and Green Party nominee for president, for taking this offhand remark by Trump and running with it.

    The Forward is by Senator Mike Gravel, an unsung hero of American democracy, whose life is colourful to say the least. McKinney’s book is worth it to rediscover some of the hopeful signs for change, with Gravel in first place.
  • The 17th century hangs heavy over the ‘heartland’ of Georgian Bay, the twin peninsula to ‘the Bruce’ to the west. Both, of course were the home of natives, who were forced to cede about 98% of their land to the white settlers in the 18-19th cc. Even much of whatever shoreline is in the remaining 2% was/ is leased to the present day colonists, who flock to the  sandy shores in the summers. Georgian Bay’s history is a dramatic example of how this happened.

    The 17th century was the killer, literally. Measles, influenza and smallpox killed 15,000 of the 25,000 Hurons. The Iroquois, head of the confederation of five nations—Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca, sealed their fate, ‘winning’ the Beaver Wars throughout the St. Lawrence River valley and the lower Great Lakes region, killing most of the rest.  But who ‘traded’ them guns for the (then) valuable furs to play the now lethal war games? The Dutch.

  • 7:20am Union Station. 12 hours door to door to door. Six hours of travel hassles, 6 hours of fine biking, visiting childhood haunts in Eden Mills and Guelph from 1951 to 1969.

    To get there, a 2 1/2 hr milk run Go bus from Union Station to Guelph University. First, parachuting down Gordon St to inaugurate the adventure, over the Speed river, through town, to the library for the weather report. Promises no rain. Chilly and overcast. Perfect biking weather.

  • The weekend before I left, every moment I was thinking about the trip, imagining the long haul on the bike, neck pain, sweating, muscles operating at full capacity hour after hour, adventures, getting lost and found, a challenge with many rewards. Southern Georgian Bay is (or at least was) idyllic. Good farmland but not on the way anywhere, so still relaxed. Worth three days of biking, and accessible by bus for cyclists.

    It wasn’t the same worry as 2 yrs ago from Kingston to Cornwall or the Orillia Gravenhurst jaunt, more just a delicious anticipation of the (reasonable) challenge. My search at couchsurfing: 5 requests, within an hour, an invite from Josh from Collingwood, my supposed destination. ‘I am teaching in Russia, but home for the summer.’ yes!

    Everything went like clockwork till the usual ‘getting lost’ clicked in north of Barrie. But looking back, I realized I’d actually found a good route, avoiding the dreaded highway #26, stumbling on Horseshoe Valley road and eventually Flos rd 4 through the Minesing wetlands, the only road through, (wonderfully) forgotten, with a narrow one-lane rusty old bridge. The perfect bike route.

  • 1) How do you asses Iran’s presence in the region? Could we say the major reason for American hostility against Iran is its strong position in the Middle East?

    Iran has played a vital role in the Middle East, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Palestinians lost their superpower support, which had meant that the UN had a balanced voice to counter, at least to some extent, the US imperial objectives of world dominance, and Israel's objective to dominance in the Middle East, serving as a proxy for US interests.

    In 1975, the Soviet Union and third world countries sponsored a UN resolution calling Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination”, outraging Israel. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was revoked under US pressure.

    The struggle to liberate Palestine suffered defeat after defeat since then,
  • I feared Kristen Ghodsee’s Red Hangover: Legacies of 20th century Communism (2017) would be yet another dumping on the sad ending to the world’s socialist experiment, or at best a boring collection of footnotes. I was wrong. It is full of ironies, twists, incisive exposes of the venality of the whole process of ‘liberation’. And some biting Bulgarian barbs.* Oh, and women have twice as many orgasms under socialism.

    Like Feffer in Aftershock, also published in 2017, Ghodsee uses her travels, studies, lectures to audiences east and west to test the waters of eastern Europe today. This fresh approach to documenting history through the eyes of both participants and sympathetic observers is more like reading a page-turner spy novel, full of often misunderstood heroes and villains, crafty confidence tricksters and lots and lots of victims. Who needs fiction? You enter the theatre of life, feel its pulse.

    Sleuthing in Sofya

    Ghodsee, always the researcher, saw a heap of documents in a garbage can on a trip to Bulgaria in 1997, and on an impulse started putting them in her bag. A pathetic homeless guy, clearly a drug addict, accosted her, always on the lookout for something to hawk. She told him she was CIA and he fled. Safely back at Duke University, she started perusing them.

    The  files were of agronomist Andreev, who rose in the 1950s to be Mr. Cucumber, responsible eventually for importing Dutch seeds and planting them in government greenhouses to feed the nation, with some for export to other socialist countries in COMECON. He had been awarded a golden badge of honour. It appeared his life was tranquil, successful, that he was a model citizen who didn’t worry about ‘profit’, though he no doubt was key to determining the production, distribution and pricing of cukes.
  • Toronto cyclists know how hard it is to get beyond the roller coaster nightmare of Toronto traffic to Elysium fields. Ok, dreary fields of GMO corn and soybeans, but it’s a step up from strip malls. Relying on The Canadian Cycling Association’s Complete Guide to Bicycle Touring in Canada (1994), I fashioned a trip to meet the litmus test:
    1/ no car headache to take you to some distant starting point,
    2/ some sites worthy of the name,
    3/ no mass of tourists, either biped or bipedal.

    Lake Simcoe is tantalizingly close, more friendly than big Lake Ontario, but featuring a tightly packed string of cottages possessing every bit of lake front available.

    Undaunted, I thought it was worth a try. The rapidly expanding Go bus/train system reaches as far as Barrie,
  • For a complex and critical examination of the relationship between Canada, Israel, Judaism, and Zionism, Eric Walberg’s new work The Canada-Israel Nexus provides a challenging perspective.

    It is challenging in several ways.  Primarily, the most important ideas are the critical lines of thought towards the impact of Zionism within Canada. This includes the influences on the media, academics and academia, and the political. The latter mostly affects Canada’s foreign affairs position as a sycophant of the U.S. empire, but in many ways as a leading vocal supporter of Israeli Zionism and its colonial-settler policies.
  • Feffer’s Aftershock: A journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams documents how the brown shirts moved into the vacuum left by the collapse of communism. (Part I is at Review Aftershock)

    East Europeans are making good use of their new proportional representative democracy, allowing protest movements to gain access to parliament. Poland’s Andrzej Lepper founded Samoobrona (Self defense) in 1990 to help indebted farmers, the unemployed and pensioners, and quickly had 15%  of the popular vote. In 2005 he became minister of agriculture and deputy prime minister in the Law and Justice government, which is similar to the other east European rightist parties -- a brown-red coalition, conservative culturally, vaguely socialist in economics.

    Recipe: Collapse, discredit socialism, discredit liberalism -> fascism. Again Hungary does the counter-reformation with flair. A leader of the 1989 overthrow of socialism, Viktor Orban soon regretted the mess that he helped throw Hungary into, and founded a "national conservative" party Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats), rising to  prime minister from 1998 to 2002 and 2010 to the present, now with a 'super majority' which he uses to amend the constitution in the face of EU protests over his policies.

    In 2003, Orban stated that liberalism has fulfilled its historic mission, that there is no need for further destruction. In 2014, Orban announced his plans to create “a new Hungarian state” that adopts political economic systems in Singapore, Russia, China, India and Turkey. He shocked both left and right by suggesting Russia was the more natural partner than the EU. He angered his 'alt-right' cousins in the rest of Europe by supporting the Turkish bid to join the EU, being a devotee of turanism linking Turks and Hungarians, though he has hounded Soros for “attempting to destroy the Hungarian nation and Europe's Christian identity by promoting the settlement of millions of Muslim migrants.

  • John Feffer’s Aftershock: A journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams (Zed, 2017) is an epic tour through the remains of the Warsaw Pact countries, history through the eyes of those both making and enduring it. It’s full of surprising twists, with chameleons changing colours, marauding western bullies, lots of nostalgia for ‘real existing socialism’, hints of new political seeds pushing through what is now a bleak wasteland with nodes of renewal.

    Feffer is one of the new breed of journalist-historians, postmodern in his goal of seeing history through the eyes of those living it. His inspiration is surely the Belarussian Svetlana Alexievich, awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time". Her equally epic Second-hand Time follows hundreds of Russian and other (ex)soviet interviewees from the 1980s to the 2010s.

  • Review of Jordan Peterson, 12 rules for Life: An antidote to chaos, Random House, 2018.

    Over the past year, Peterson shot into the public eye with his jihad against political correctness, using YouTube, the new medium for getting one’s beliefs broadcast without corporations, governments and media gatekeepers censuring and burying one’s new ideas.  And his ideas are radical, but more radically old than new. To him, cherished beliefs are mostly cherished because they’ve worked for millennia, some actually hardwired in us, and we abandon them at our peril.

    He asserts what he argues is his male, rational energy, taking no prisoners as he fights to save the English language from attempts to substitute gender neutral terms with orwellesque ‘they’s and ‘zhe’s and then forcing one and all (provincial premiers and profs included) to bow to the new golden calf. Language is important, as is marriage and respect for sex (not the amorphous ‘gender’). That is just part of his message, and he is now riding an angry, bucking herd of politically correct broncos. Peterson stares them down unapologetically.

    Prairie boy makes good

    Peterson grew up in a tiny village in northern Alberta, and gives a fascinating account of his youthful friendships, looking at his early life now through his psychiatrist lenses. His own maturing led from socialism till he turned 18 (he grew disenchanted with the NDP due to what he saw as a preponderance of "the intellectual, tweed-wearing middle-class socialist" who "didn't like the poor; they just hated the rich") to … well, some kind of conservatism, but not the neoliberalism which has poisoned both conservative and liberal politics. He also moved from a limp protestantism to a kind of spiritual agnosticism, though his conservative bent will please Catholics.

  • My life journey as a peacenik took me to Moscow in 1989 to see Gorbachev's 'socialism with a human face', his attempt to combine materialist communism with ... it wasn't clear exactly what Gorbachev had in mind, but it certainly wasn't a wholesale sell out of what had been built over the previous 70 years. However, the rickety structure that the Soviet Union had become, a tired society always under pressure from the capitalist West, final collapsed. Or rather was pushed over by a well-planned conspiracy―begun in 1979 under Carter but greatly expanded under Reagan―to destroy the last socialist revolution, in Afghanistan, next door to Uzbekistan. The tragedy of Afghanistan put Uzbekistan on my radar. A remote part of the world shrouded in mystery and now convulsed in war. Sounded interesting to the young adventurer devoted to world peace.

    I had come to Moscow at the invitation of Moscow News. From my editor's office on Pushkin Square, I watched on TV the last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan and arrive in Uzbekistan, retreating across the Amudarya River on the Friendship Bridge (built in 1982 to ferry Soviet troops into Afghanistan). Even as the troops retreated, mujahideen snipers continued to target them, with US arms still being poured into what was already a powder keg. I was intrigued by this little-known part of the world, and remembered a dream-like trip as a Russian language student in 1980 to Tashkent, with its elegant opera house and its bountiful fruits, soaring mountains and hospitable people.

    After five years in Moscow, working as an editor at Moscow News and then as a Greenpeace activist-administrator, I had had enough of a Moscow in upheaval, where food was scarce and expensive, and people were losing their laid-back Soviet ways and embracing the worst features of the West. I was robbed more than once (once by the train police waiting in a suburban station on the way to Uzbekistan), and remember gun shots in the Vikhino apartment building entrance one night, told the next day someone had been found murdered just a few feet away from me.

    Moscow had lost its charm. I yearned to try living in a Muslim society. Uzbekistan seemed to be the most developed, cultured of the Soviet 'stans' and a short hop away from
  • 9 minute interview with Phil Taylor on University of Toronto radio

  • 1/ Manial
    2/ My Arab godson
    3/ Al-Ahram
    4/ Bringing down the Brotherhood
    5/ Sisi – Muhammad Ali redux

    1/ Manial 

    I stumbled into Cairo after Tashkent, where I had stumbled across Islam, courtesy of dictator Islam Karimov, who – despite his name – persecuted brave Muslims mercilessly, and impelled me to recite the shuhada, at first, more as a sign of solidarity. I was now determined to learn Arabic, read the Quran, experience Muslim culture first-hand and test my enthusiasm for Islam.

    I found the Fajr Centre for the Arabic Language, founded in Cairo in 1995, online. The new session was beginning in January 2007. Fajr (dawn) is for new enthusiasts and prospective imams, affiliated to the Egyptian Ministry of Education and al-Azhar, and located in Medina Nasser (Nasser City), which I was to discover is a sprawling suburban near the airport. Transportation in Cairo is a nightmare, be it by taxi or public transit. Virtually all Fajr students share digs near the 'institute', which is modest to say the least, but I immediately liked it, despite the anonymous suburban clutter. The administrators and my teacher were clearly devout Muslims, and warm, friendly people. This was not for rich secular westerners, who studied at the AUC or one of many private institutes down town, at three times the cost.

    I heard of a Canadian-Egyptian artist who lived in Manial, the southern-most large island of Cairo, perched just upstream from more upscale Zamalek. Anna responded to my query,
  • Reading Rabkin's What is Modern Israel  (2016), you can only marvel that Israel continues to exist at all, given its unending criminal behaviour, from the 1920s, while it was still just a dream, until the present, the only change being in the details, the full scale wars of expansion giving way to smaller scale invasions of occupied territories and Gaza (there's no more land to conquer), and ever new bureaucratic torture techniques intended to drive the Palestinians either crazy or into voluntary exile. Even the latter, a soft version of the 1948 ethnic cleansing, is made difficult, as the Palestinians can only leave via Jordan, at the mercy of Israel. Why does the world, especially the US, which could bring Israel to heel overnight, let the horror continue?

    Rabkin delves deep into the Russian Yiddish roots of Israel and brings together many startling facts which suggest that there was a much better option for Palestine and the Jews, one which was scuttled by secular Jewish fanatics inspired by their experiences before and after the Russian revolution. What is Modern Israel is packed with fascinating quotes and historical tidbits. Some of Rabkin's insights from his book and a podcast interview :

    *He decries the use of 'holocaust' in depicting the tragedy of WWII, as it is a religious symbol, and the deaths were hardly a burnt offering to some god. Rabkin uses 'genocide'. He also insists that it is not the "Jewish lobby" and "Jewish state", but the Zionist lobby/ state, as most Jews are not Zionists, certainly not approving of Israel's bombings, invasions, and illegal settlements. The lesson of the genocide for Zionists was 'be strong and kill and hound suspected antisemites.' For Rabkin, it is the opposite: a rejection of Zionism and Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Review of Graeme Wood, The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State, Random House, 2016.

    Wood is the most prominent media star exposing ISIS today. A Yale professor, Council of Foreign Relations guru, his articles on ISIS have appeared in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and on and on. He has an ambitious agenda, instructing the lay reader in Islamic theology and jurisprudence as he travels from one leading ISIS supporter or fellow traveller to another around the world. While providing a wealth of detail, his American slant, almost entirely overlooking the US as the chief culprit in abetting terrorism, is evident. But his book is worth reading, giving the reader a window into the people behind ISIS. None of them are monsters, but all of them challenge Muslims to better understand Islam and Islamic history.

    Wood poses throughout his research as a possible convert to Islam and apparently fools one and all. This deception he would no doubt rationalize using a quote from the Quran about lying being okay in a time of war (taqiyya), but he used it in Egypt merely to string along a modest tailor, Hesham, who was sincerely trying to convert Wood, and believed Wood was genuine. This gave him otherwise forbidden access to Hesham's personal life, ridiculing him in the account. Others Wood interviewed were not so naive, but politely answered his questions, though his agenda was seen for what it is: a report for use by western academics, media and security forces to better 'fight the beast'.

    Some of his interviews are revealing and colourful. He met multiple times with larger-than-life Muslims based in the West, both pro-ISIS and anti-ISIS activists and theorists. His professionalism as a researcher and writer produced a good overview of the different movements and actors in western radical Islamic circles, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other al-Qaeda factions, and their visions of revolution and apocalypse. He interviews leading western Muslim scholars and activists, mostly American converts, including  the Sufi Yusuf Hamza, the Salafi Yasir Qadhi for their critical analysis of ISIS (they are both targeted as apostates by ISIS), and Yahya Michot, who lies somewhere in between.
  • Reviews of James Petras, The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire, Clarity, 2016

    Jeremy Hammond, Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Worldview, 2016

    It is time to assess the legacy that President Obama bequeaths us. These two timely books contribute to this, Hammond focusing on the “special relationship”, Petras, more broadly on US imperialism. Both are pessimistic about the possibility of any change without an active, articulate citizens' movement that has staying power, thereby creating the conditions for a political renewal.

    Hammond's work is detailed, documenting the period starting with Obama's 2008 victory and Israel's immediate response: its invasion of Gaza in December. Throwing down the gauntlet, which president-elect Obama refused to pick up.

    There were more such attacks to come, involving seizing aid flotillas headed for Gaza, culminating in a repeat of that full scale invasion of Gaza in 2014, both killing thousands of innocents. Hammond's main point is to separate Obama's weak, nice words -- "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines" -- with his inability to move towards fulfilling them.

  • Okay, by bicycle ‘express’. But that was how i saw myself, galloping along the St Lawrence, a watchful eye out for the enemy yonder across the mighty river. The dirt road is now a bicycle lane (sometimes more, sometimes less) that followed--by a stretch of the imagination--the 18th century trail that once bound Canada together.

    Forget the mindless 401 hurtling by, for the most part, out of sight and sound. Enjoy the exotic roadside wild flowers shouting “I’m alive and bigger and more beautiful than you!” Some otherwise grueling stretches of highway are transformed into zany public gardens, complete with giant monsters and noxious invaders.

    Life in the womb of Upper Canada

  • Azizi Ansari's runaway bestseller Modern Romance is the perfect self-help book. Lots of data, thoughtful interviews with psychologists and 'victims', funny. The celebrated stand-up comic confirms the truth in the oxymoron, "the wise fool". And surprisingly, finds that humans pretty well figured things romantic out long before computers.

    A few nuggets

    Experiments on rats show the "uncertainty principle" in rewards: reward the rat when it presses the knob till s/he figures out it must press the lever to get the treat, but after that, only reward it intermittently. Their reward dopamine levels increase beyond the level when they always get rewarded for knob-pushing, like they're "being coked up". We are rats: in the human version of the experiment, women are most attracted to those guys who are in the 'uncertain' group, those who rated them high are second rate. No doubt this works the same for men.
  • The Gaspé  is considered one of the top hiking spots in the world, after the Grand Canyon, the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Swiss Alps. There are 6,000 km of trails, and a range of vistas from mountains to cliffs facing the mouth of the St Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean. And best of all, it is hardly known outside Quebec—a spectacular, untouched place right in our own backyard.

    For the past decade, hundreds of cross-country skiers—nearly all of them Quebeckers—have come for a six-day, 100-mile-plus ski odyssey through the winter wonderland at the eastern edge of Canada’s largest province. After an article in the New York Times in 2013, 100 Yanks showed up, but as yet, very few Anglo-Canadians. Two years ago, hardy hikers started coming at the end of September to see the fall colours and the caribou, and I opted to join them this year.

    Saturday – The 8-hour 'trek' from Toronto to Montreal brought me to the bus to Gaspé at 5am, just in time. Our guide to Gaspé, Gilbert, was one of the many volunteers, a physiotherapist by profession, our residential doctor for sore feet. He is a joker, and over the microphone acted the voice of an airline pilot explaining to brace ourselves for the 2-hour climb that evening on arrival in Gaspé "to reach the hotel". Ìn line for coffee I met Robert, who is a Montreal-based fundraiser for nonprofit organizations and hospitals, a charmer, well in tune with his profession. We settled in for the 10-hour trip to Carleton-sur-Mer, on the south coast, before moving northeast to Gaspé and then east to Percé.
  • Eric Walberg has now written three books on the topic of Islamic culture in relation to Western geo-politics and world events. He is a prolific journalist and scholar who has lived in Central Asia and the Middle East (1).

    In Walberg's third book, “Islamic Resistance to Imperialism” (2015, Clarity Press, 304 pages), he presents a view of the world most people in the West, especially those exposed to a diet of mainstream media may not be familiar with or sympathetic to. Issues that deal with religion, culture and geo-politics are inherently complex. Even worse, disinformation is intentionally promulgated by Western governments and their lapdogs in the media to mislead the public into supporting the West's “war on terror.”

    The constant drumbeat in the media is that Muslims are “terrorists” and that America needs to police the world to rid this evil. Since communist-totalitarianism in its most overt form fell in the East, a new boogie man needed to to be invented in order to justify the military industrial complex. The gradual demonisation of Muslims in the Hollywood media (See the documentary: “Reel Bad Arabs”) culminated in what I believe was a false flag terror attack on 911. The myth of the Muslim Terrorist was born.

    For this reason, Walberg's book is a healthy antidote to our largely uninformed and biased views on the world's largest growing religious grouping.

  • Eric Walberg is a Canadian journalist who converted to Islam and has been covering the Middle East for a number of years. I do not know whether there are other books about Islam by converts, but this one is written by someone who is fiercely political and who sees Islam as a remedy to the world's ills.[tag]

    Although Walberg does not say so explicitly, the notion of resistance to imperialism has been basic to Islam since the beginning of the Palestinian struggle against Great Britain in the nineteenth century. After the creation of Israel, Iran, Lebanon and Syria became known as 'frontline states' in that resistance (see my review of http://click here).

    This is an ambitious book that may suffer from being at once an argument for Islam as the solution to the woes of the modern world and an analysis of the various aspects of Islamism as well as a history of Islamism's progress or lack thereof by country.

    The fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet - growing faster, according to Time magazine, than the population - notwithstanding Islamophobia - suggests that its appeal is fundamentally different from that of other religions, and Walberg makes that point eloquently, quoting Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member Essam el-Erian, on the Iranian revolution:

    "Young people believe Islam is the solution to the ills in society after the failure of western democracy, socialism and communism to address the political and socio-economic difficulties." It prompted Saudi rebels to occupy the Kaaba that same year in an attempt to spark revolution, Syrian Muslims to rise against their secular dictator Hafez al-Assad in 1980 and future Al-Qaeda leader Aymin Zawahiri to conspire to assassinate Egyptian president Sadat in 1981."

  • Kevin Barrett has become a legend in the US as a fearless journalist who cuts to the quick, his political and analytic skills leading to provocative, truthful explanations of our mostly inexplicable reality. He has written several books dealing with 9/11, and is currently an editor at Veterans Today, and pundit at Press TV, Russia Today, al-Etejah and other international channels. His website is TruthJihad.com. He builds on a well-established American journalistic tradition of brave exposers of government misdoings. Bill Blum and Seymour Hirsh are best known, but there are hundreds more.

    Great American tradition

    Blum is a legend from the 1960s, as the first to amass detailed proof of false flags by the US government. If you still have any trust in the US government's foreign policy, you haven't read Blum's Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since WWII (2004), which documents more than 50 blatant US overthrows of democratic government in the 3rd world, though溶ote溶one occurred in the US (Pearl Harbor is suspicious but no slam-dunk).

    There's no question that the false flag experts in the US government weren't aware of the greatest terrorist event in US history. There are a string of whistle-blowers that show how evidence was ignored or buried building up to the event, evidence which if properly shared by the intelligence agencies, with their special al-Qaeda and Taliban watch groups, could have prevented 9/11. David Shipler interviews several of these forgotten heroes in Freedom of Speech:Mightier Than the Sword (2015). 

  • In Islam, the first two adjectival "most beautiful names" of God are al-Rahman al-Rahim, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. (Or, in Michael Sells' translation, "the Compassionate, the Caring.") The Arabic root of both words derives from "womb" and connotes the kind of outrageously generous love and compassion a mother feels for her children.

    These days, the Western discourse on Islam “especially political Islam“ is not exactly overflowing with compassion and generosity. As the French-Algerian Jew Albert Memmi wrote in The Coloniser and the Colonized, colonizers typically take a very ungenerous view of the people they are attacking, occupying, brutalizing and exploiting. If they admitted the humanity of their victims, they would look in the mirror and see a brutish criminal. So to avoid facing the truth, they project their own criminal brutality on the colonized victim.

    Memmi notes that Western colonizers typically refuse to acknowledge the positive traits of colonized Muslims. Even an admirable virtue such as generosity “ a notable feature of Islamic cultures“ is made into a vice: "Those crazy Muslims don't know the value of money; accept their hospitality, and they'll feed you a meal that costs a month of their salary, and offer you a gift worth ten times that. They're just not frugal!"
  • Book review

    Ken Ballen, Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals, Free Press, 2011.

    This is a strange book—a racy title, documenting the way six jihadis turned to al-Qaeda and its spin-offs in desperation to find some kind of fulfilment in life. There are several Romeo and Juliette stories, though the author seems oblivious to the fact that the 'love' in the title is mostly about devotion to God, however mistaken.

    Ballen is president and founder of Terror Free Tomorrow, “a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that investigates the causes of extremism”. Ballen's CV suggests “nonpartisan” can be taken with a grain of salt, as he spent two decades in law enforcement and intelligence, and was given grudging accommodation by the Pakistani ISI intelligence, and free access to the Saudi Ministry of Intelligence (MOI) Care Center, where captured jihadis are sent for rehabilitation.

    As well as his extended interviews in Saudi Arabia, he gained access to several jihadis still on the run, and relates a truly remarkable story—if he is to be believed—of a Saudi royal son who discovers he is gay and has a passionate affair with his cousin before joining the jihad.

  • Canadian journalist Eric Walberg has produced two very impressive works that between them cover most of what is politically relevant today: Post-Modern Imperialism: Geopolitics and The Great Games, the games being those played on the world political chessboard, and From Post-Modernism to Post-Secularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization, both from Clarity Press.

    Walberg admits that the internet made his task easier, but without a very thorough grounding in political theory and history, they could not have been written. Walberg who has a degree in economic from Cambridge and has lived in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia, specializes in the Middle East. His Great Games are labelled GGI (pre-Russian revolution), GGII (the Cold War era) and today's on-going GG III, which he sees as a US-British-Israeli campaign for world dominance. Walberg shows globalization's brutality, and with theory to back him up, lays it squarely at imperialism's door.

    The scope of this work is vast, but I have chosen one quote that is particularly relevant to current events. Since 2008, the European Union, built up painstakingly after two world wars devastated the continent, has been teetering on collapse, and I have often affirmed that it is a deliberate American policy to destroy that elaborate welfare state. Walberg's confirmation is stunning:

  • Review of Morten Storm with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.
    ISBN 978-0-8021-2314-5

    Summary: As IS continues to confound the West with its consolidation of a Salafist-inspired resurrection of a ‘caliphate’, the Danish mole responsible for leading the CIA to Anwar Awlaki has caused a scandal by publishing his memoirs of life “inside al Qaeda and the CIA”.

    Recruiting Muslims has not been easy for western ‘intelligence’. The New York Police Department has tried for decades to recruit Muslim immigrants, and was finally embarrassed by a 2013 ACLU lawsuit to disband its most public recruiting unit, which essentially blackmailed anyone with a Muslim name arrested on any pretext, including parking tickets.

    The most successful double agent prior to Morten Storm was Omar Nasiri (b. 1960s), the pseudonym of a Moroccan spy who infiltrated al-Qaeda, attending training camps in Afghanistan and passing information to the UK and French intelligence services. He revealed all in his fascinating memoirs Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda A Spy’s Story in 2006.

  • Thoughts on From Postmodernism to Postsecularism

    Chandra Muzaffar in dialogue with Eric Walberg

    Muzaffar: Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergII.html is a stimulating and informative survey of both Islamic history and reformist thought, culminating in an analysis of the ongoing upheavals in WANA.

    The book is an extensive exposition on Islamic Civilization itself. It covers the whole spectrum of dynasties, major episodes and personalities which is why the book should be an important reference for students of the civilization.

    You are right, Eric, in arguing that for Islam the goal has always been “to nurture a morally sound community based on the Quran…” (p28). There have been endeavours in that direction in the past—some successes, many failures. In this regard, I am wondering why you did not mention specifically the moral indictment of Muawiyyah by Abu-Dharr Al-Giffari who some would view as the first major critic of the creeping injustices in early Muslim leadership?

  • In his introduction, Eric Walberg states, “The main purpose of this book is to help the reader to understand the alternative map which Islam offers.” This is both a literal and figural map, an alternative to the imperial and neocolonial boundaries that divide the Islamic world, and an alternative viewpoint to that of the imperial driver of capitalism. This offer includes “realigning ourselves with Nature, and rediscovering humanities’ spiritual evolutionary path…without abandoning the vital role of reason.”

    This path along this alternate view is created strongly, with an obvious sympathy for the parts of Islam that are little known to the capitalist imperial view. It is a fully comprehensive path, leading the reader through time and through not just the Middle East, but on into Northern Africa, the Sahel, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

    The path always interacts with the imperial capitalist landscape ranging from the original European nationalist empires of France, Britain, Spain, and Holland on through to the hegemonic empire of the United States that has subordinated the previous empires into its fold. This has been done through military backing of corporate enterprises and many financial maneuverings that have – up until now – managed to stretch this empire into a full global span.

    The first chapter, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, explains the nature of the Koran without the political prejudice brought on by imperial reaction (blowback) to occupation and creation of the ‘evil’ other. Following that, it presents a broad history of Islam up until the era of the First World War. While the interactions with Christianity were often violent, Islamic expansion eastward generally tended to be accomplished more peacefully through trade and missionaries – the latter of course being against the military corporate interests of the west.

  • Forging a Socialist-Islamist Alliance
    Review of Eric Walberg's From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization, Clarity Press, 2013

    By William T. Hathaway

    Most western Middle East experts see Islam as a problem for the West -- a source of terrorism, religious fanaticism, unwanted immigrants -- and they see their job as helping to change the Middle East so it's no longer a problem for us. Eric Walberg, however, recognizes that this is another instance of the Big Lie.

    The actual problem is the multifaceted aggression the West has been inflicting on the Middle East for decades and is determined to continue, no matter what the cost to them and us will be. His books and articles present the empirical evidence for this with scholarly precision and compassionate concern for the human damage done by our imperialism.

  • Brain research and social psychology have made astounding advances in understanding the mind. These two books will blow yours. The implications for western 'civilization' are profound. Here are some notes.

    Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Doubleday, 2011.
    -heuristic (system 1 rule of thumb) biases -overconfident (first impression), resemblance, ease of memory search, emotion (sympathy for psychopathic charm), halo effect (exaggerate emotional reaction), WYSIATI (what you see is all there is), treating problems in isolation (not integrate variables), framing effects (context, importance of first impression, including page layout etc), priming (thinking about x -> x), endowment effect (owning x appears to increase its value)
    -fallacies re human nature -rational, emotions such as fear, affection and hatred explain departures from rationality
    -rather systmatic errors in thinking due to design of machinery of cognition rather than the corruption of thought by emotion. luck plays large role in success. accurate intuitions of experts better explained by skill and practice incorporated into heuristics. (variant of reason/ faith dialectic)
    -system 1 (fast thinking) -automatic operations (associative memory, automatic mental activities (perception and memory), unconscious/ conscious skills incorporated from system 2 as automatic, -> heuristic
    -system 2 -controlled operations -both self-contol and cognitive effort (allocates attention to effortful mental activities when demanded requiring choice and concentration, can reprogram normally automatic funs of attention and memory)
    -also experiencing vs remembering self (a construct of system 2 but incorporating (fast) associative memories of system 1) -what makes experiencing self happy not same as what satisfies remembering self -need to balance using system 2 slow thinking. -memory both system 1&2 and system 2 can adjust system 1 experiencing/ associative memories (ie, counterintuitive steering out of icy skid)

  • Lawrence Wright, Twins: and What They Tell Us About Who We Are, John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

    These notes summarize the main findings of twinning studies during the past century which lead to some startling conclusions.

    -behaviorism (BFSkinner) argued all behavior genetically based (we are the product of natural selection) but can be programmed in the individual. he denied special genes for altruism/ criminality/ other character trait -what our genes give us is the capacity to adapt to our environment. we are not innately good/ bad, rather determined by our environment. there is no individual responsibility. to change behavior we must design a different environment.
    -but twin studies suggests genetic basis to behavior (approximately 50%, ie, 1/2 determined, 1/2 'free will' which we develop by creating our own environment as we mature and become more self-aware)

  • In August 2013, Marxism Leninism Today editor Zoltan Zigedy reviewed Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization

    Zoltan Zigedy summarized Walberg’s writing in the following terms

    1. The last great secular social justice project — socialism — has failed with the demise of the Soviet Union.
    2. Islam and its attendant political-social-economic doctrines are viable alternative routes to social justice.
    3. Islam is the only alternative that can deliver social justice. Therefore, Islam is the universal way to social justice.

    My -comments to Zoltan's >points:

    >the rise of Islamic civilization that Walberg foresaw was dashed on the rocks of divisiveness and foreign intervention

    -I see this 'Islamic awakening' as coming in waves. the 2013 coup in Egypt is a trough, but the process of evolution/ revolution continues. the openness and experience of the Islamists cannot be put back in the djin's bottle.
    I recall young Egyptian friends who were 'politicized' after the 2011 uprising. they didn't join secular groups, but the Muslim Brotherhood -- a huge move by millions of Egyptian youth. this has never been mentioned anywhere in the press. the ongoing demonstrations are courageous and principled, and deserve our respect and support.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.it/daniele-scalea/islam-vs-capitalismo_b_4095817.html

    summary: Islam has a complete social doctrine which opposes the exploitation of man by man and lending at interest. For this reason, Islam is, in the contemporary world after the end of communism, the great alternative to capitalism. Massimo Campanini, one of the leading Italian scholars of the field, in his History of the Middle East, confirms that Islam stands as challenge to the idea of "end of history". But this challenge is not extremist Islam and terrorism, which in his opinion is already defeated, but two other "Islamists".

  • Resisting The Modernist Nightmare: Islam As Road To Peace?  by Richard Wilcox

    Following the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, there was supposed to have been a “peace dividend” which would have allowed the world to stop wasting money on arms manufacturing and explore roads toward peace and commerce. However, the Cold War itself may have been a ruse to some extent in order to justify the growth of global totalitarian government and corporate power in both the West and East, and as a result a peaceful world was never achieved.

    Even the most naïve observer could see that something was very odd, given that at the same moment that the Russian enemy was tamed and the Berlin Wall had fallen, a new, even more nefarious enemy was born: the Muslim Terrorist. This seamless transition that benefited the military industrial complex and zionist warmongers was practically lifted out of a Hollywood script. In fact, Hollywood played an important role in creating the caricature and stereotype of the “evil Muslim” through innumerable anti-Muslim Hollywood propaganda films.

  • This book is a continuation of my earlier work, Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games (2011), though it stands on its own. My purpose in Postmodern Imperialism was to give a picture of the world from the viewpoint of those on the receiving end of imperialism. It traces the manipulation of Islamists by imperialism, and poses the question: What are the implications of the revival of Islamic thought and activism for the western imperial project?

    The subject of this work is the expansion of Islam since the seventh century, when revelations delivered to the Prophet Muhammad led to its consolidation as the renewal and culmination of Abrahamic monotheism. It looks at the parallels between the Muslim world today and past crises in Islamic civilization, which gave impetus to reforms and renewal from within, relying on the Quran and hadiths,1 and attempts to interpret recent history from the viewpoint of the Muslim world—how it sees the imposition on it of western systems and beliefs, and how it is dealing with this.

    The period up to and including the occupation of the Muslim world by the western imperialists corresponds to Postmodern Imperialism’s Great Game I (GGI). For Asians, the most important event heralding the possibility of a new post-GGI ‘game’ was the Japanese victory in 1905 over Russia. Japan had successfully reformed via the Meiji Restoration in 1868, inspiring all Asia, including China and the Muslim world, which saw Japan’s determination to develop independently of the imperial powers as a way out of the colonial trap that they were rapidly falling into.

  • European Journal of American Studies review of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

    (March 2012)

    Recent history for even the casual observer of international affairs has been plagued by wars and conflicts in specific regions of the world.  The wars in Central Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, seem to indicate the latest machinations in the imperial designs of the USA.  For many, using the term imperialism and connecting it to the USA is at best inappropriate.  For others, American interventions in particular countries or specific regions of the world represent the practices of a hegemonic power and the expansion of an American empire.  Some even argue that the nature of American imperialism is utterly novel, and deserving of a new label:  ‘postmodern imperialism.’  As the title of Eric Walberg’s book, his examination of the trajectories of contemporary imperialism includes scrutiny of the geopolitical interests of the USA and its “new developments in financial and military-political strategies to ensure control over the world’s resources” (27-28).  While Postmodern Imperialism primarily focuses on key aspects of imperialism, geopolitical analysis and commentary forms the foundation of Walberg’s narrative.

  • Robert Wright, Nonzero: the logic of human destiny (2000)

    -organic evolution tends to create more complex forms of life, raising overall entropy but concentrating order locally
    -Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, the thinking envelope of the Earth
    -throughout nature, main trend is the increase in capacity for information processing, storage and analysis. DNA not just data, but data processor.
    -the function of the energy marshaled by an organism or society not just to sustain and protect structure, but to guide the marshaling.
    -secret of life not DNA but zero sum (zs)/ nonzero sum (nzs) games (to better pass on one’s DNA - the ‘meaning of life’).
    ‘laws of nature’:

  • Review of Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World,

    Sadakat Kadri

    New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012

    There are 50 Muslim-majority states in the world; 11 of them, including Egypt, have constitutions that acknowledge Islam as a source of national law. In Heaven on Earth, Sadakat Kadri, an English barrister and New York attorney, provides a much-needed and highly readable overview of Islamic legal history and an entertaining survey of the state of Islamic law today, full of fascinating anecdotes.

    For instance, have you heard the one about the eleventh-century Sufi mystic whose prayers were interrupted by a familiar voice: "Oh, Abu Al-Hasan!" it boomed. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your sins, so that they stone you to death?" "Oh, Lord," Al-Hasan whispered back. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your mercy, so that none will ever feel obliged to bow down to you again?" "Keep your secret," came God's conspiratorial reply. "And I will keep mine."

    Such risqué offerings aside, Kadri looks at the development of Islamic law from the time of the Prophet, focussing on attitudes to war, criminal justice, religious tolerance, and movements of reform through history. He provides valuable background for all those concerned and/or excited about today's resurgence of Islam. As the fastest growing religion, second only to Christianity in numbers (and surely first in terms of sincere practitioners), Islam is an increasingly powerful force not only in the world of religion, but in the realms of culture, politics and even economics.
  • Guided missives

    Ard ard (Surface-to-surface): The story of a graffiti revolution
    Sherif Abdel-Megid
    Egyptian Association for Books 2011
    ISBN 978-977-207-102-9

    Graffiti -- the art of the masses, by the masses, for the masses -- has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and arguably to Pharaonic Egypt. Sherif Abdel-Megid, a writer who works for Egyptian television, boasts that Egypt's revolution and the explosion of popular art that followed it finds its roots in the decay of the Sixth dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom, following the reign of Pepi II (2278-2184 BC), credited with having the longest reign of any monarch in history at 94 years (Mubarak, eat your heart out). His own decline paralleled the disintegration of the kingdom and it is thanks to Pharaonic graffiti that we know about it.

  • I confess that I cringe when I see the word “post-modern.” This word has obscured more discussions, confused more gullible readers, and conned more writers than any word since “existential” and its “-ism.” For the most part, it has served as a kind of fashionable linguistic operator that signals something radical and profound will follow. Almost always, what follows disappoints.

    Eric Walberg’s book, Postmodern Imperialism (Clarity Press, 2011), doesn’t change my general opinion of the word, though what follows the title certainly doesn’t disappoint.

    Walberg has offered a welcome taxonomy of imperialism from its nineteenth century genesis until today; he has given a plausible explanation of imperialism’s contours since the exit of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialism from the world stage; and he has convincingly described Israel’s unique role in the continuing reshaping of imperialism’s grasp for world domination.

  •  I. Let the Games Begin…Again…and Again

    The great disaffected masses tell us that history is on the march and, as usual, guns and butter are the simpler issues. In America, support dwindles for a war that has lasted a decade. Drone missiles, each costing $100,000, kill “terrorists” in gutturally named, chicken-scratch places bewilderingly far from America’s hometowns, whose simple citizens ask where their taxes go. Costs of the Afghanistan war this year are the highest ever, $119.4 billion and counting.[1] Polls show historically deep disaffection with The System. The mask of America-First patriotism is falling, revealing an intoxicated self-grandiosity and will to power by renascent Bush-era neocons and cynical manipulations by the CEO caste and other one-percenters for more and more wealth, and whose sense of entitlement the victims of class warfare, lumpen proles and petit bourgeoisie alike, seem unable to stomach any longer.[2] Approval of the Republican led-by-gridlock Congress hovers around fifteen percent.[3] Ever-larger protests in other cities in America and internationally have extended those on Wall Street – protests even a year ago one would never have predicted – and “class warfare – rich against poor” appears on the protestors’ signs.

    The disaffected might also ask why the US, as Eric Walberg notes in his extraordinary new book, has 730 American military bases in fifty countries around the globe, and why the US share of the world’s military expenditures is 42.8% while, by comparison, China’s is 7.3% and Russia’s 3.6%. The unavoidable irony is that the Pax Americana seems to be requiring endless war with no particular rationale behind it – and truly astonishing numbers of dollars are spent on behalf of war rather than at home. What may be fatally undermining credibility in America’s “transcendent values” has been the sense that as the facts filter down to the masses, the Empire’s new clothes appear to be the same as that of past empires. All empires have births and deaths – the US Empire will be no different. Internal contradictions of the US efforts to control the globe seem now to be sending things spiraling out of control.[4]

  • Eric Walberg’s acute insights into the contemporary global order raise many questions about the continued viability of the American and Israeli focus on wealth and power. Perhaps understandably, his interests and insights inspired by the Islamic world make him a penetrating commentator on peoples who are a product of Christian and Jewish tradition.

    Walberg is a Canadian authority on the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia who writes for Al Ahram, the best known English language newspaper in the Middle East.

  • Though the number of critical voices concerning Israel, Zionism and Jewish power is growing steadily, a clear distinction can be made on the one hand between contributors who operate within the discourse and are politically oriented, and others who transcend themselves above and beyond any given political paradigm.

    The former category refers to writers and scholars who operate 'within the box,' accepting the restrictive measures of a given political and intellectual discourse. A thinker who operates within such a framework would initially identify the boundaries of the discourse, and then shape his or her ideas to fit in accordingly. The latter category refers to a far more challenging intellectual attempt: it includes those very few who operate within a post-political realm, those who defy the dictatorship of 'political-correctness', or any given 'party-line'. It relates to those minds that think 'out of the box'. And it is actually those who, like artists, plant the seeds of a possible conceptual and consciousness shift.

  • The Wandering Who? A study of Jewish identity politics, gives a unique insider’s view of the Israeli mind. Its author explains to Eric Walberg that you can take the girl out of Jezebel, but you can’t take Jezebel out of the girl

    Gilad Atzmon is a world citizen who calls London his home. He was born a sabra, and served as a paramedic in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1982 Lebanon War, when he realised that “I was part of a colonial state, the result of plundering and ethnic cleansing.” He has wandered far since then, become a novelist, philosopher, one of the world’s best jazz saxophonists, and at the same time, one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinian cause, supporting their right of return and the one-state solution. He now defines himself as a “proud self-hating Jew” and “a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian”. In 2009 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quoted Atzmon during a debate with Israeli president Shimon Peres, telling him at the World Economic Forum that “Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty.”

  • Three books recently published by the American radical publisher Clarity Press reflect different aspects of racism in the US, which even under a black president is unfortunately alive and well, promoted in US policy at home and abroad -- if not officially:

    Devon Mihesua, American Indians: Stereotypes and Realities

    Stephen Sheehi, Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims

    Francis Boyle, The Palestinian Right of Return Under International Law

  • -secular thinkers imagine they have left religion behind, but have only exchanged religion for a humanist faith in progress

    -Joseph Roth worried about spread of ideas of national self-determination. Monarchy was more tolerant. A society can be civilized without recognizing rights, while one based on rights may be tainted with barbarism (Austria-Hungary abolished torture in 1776)

    -torture is Enlightenment tradition, 'progress' a legacy of Christianity (salvation in battle between good and evil Zoroastra). 'God defeats evil' translated into secular terms. also meliorism of liberal humanists. Enlightenment hostile to Christianity but used Christian framework.

  • -US enriched rather than impoverished by the two world wars and by their outcome, nothing in common with Britain -> still glorifies military, sentiment familiar in Europe before 1945.

    -in Europe, dominant sentiment relief at "final closing of a long, unhappy chapter" vs in US - story recorded in a triumphalist key. war works. thus remains the first option, vs last resort

    -20th c rise and fall of the state. welfare state a cross-party 20th c consensus implemented by liberals or conservatives not as first stage of 20th c socialism but culmination of late-19th c reformist liberalism, prerequisites of a stable civil order. p10

    -citizens lost gnawing sentiment of insecurity and fear that had dominated political life between 1914 and 1945. forgot this fear -> neoliberalism. now fear reemerging [-> neofascism], fear that not only we but those 'in authority' have lost control of forces beyond their reach [implicitly acknowledging the cabal of international bankers/ military industrial complex (mic) that conspire above governments, tho Judt would be the first to dismiss this p20]

  • Clarity Press June 2011

    advanced purchase http://www.claritypress.com/Walberg.html


    To young people today, the world as a global village appears as a given, a ready-made order, as if human evolution all along was logically moving towards our high-tech, market-driven society, dominated by the wealthy United States. To bring the world to order, the US must bear the burden of oversize defense spending, capture terrorists, eliminate dictators, and warn ungrateful nations like China and Russia to adjust their policies so as not to hinder the US in its altruistic mission civilatrice.

    The reality is something else entirely, the only truth in the above characterization being the overwhelming military dominance of the US in the world today. The US itself is the source of much of the world’s terrorism, its 1.6 million troops in over a thousand bases around the world the most egregious terrorists, leaving the Osama bin Ladens in the shade, and other lesser critics of US policies worried about their job prospects.

    My own realization of the true nature of the world order began with my journey to England to study economics at Cambridge University in September 1973. I decided to take the luxury SS France ocean liner which offered a student rate of a few hundred dollars (and unlimited luggage), where I met American students on Marshall and Rhodes scholarships (I had the less prestigious Mackenzie King scholarship), and used my wiles to enjoy the perks of first class. The ship was a microcosm of society, a benign one. The world was my oyster and I wanted to share my joy with everyone.

    But I was in for a shock.

Purchase Eric Walberg's Books

Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html