Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bruce Springsteen's Report to America

In his latest editorial, Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts highlights a new Bruce Springsteen album, "Wrecking Ball" that proves once again why his music has connected with so many progressive-minded and just plain practical people for nearly four decades.  From "Born to Run" and "Badlands" to his haunting album "Nebraska"  and "Ghost of Tom Joad" albums, and so many other great hits with The E Street Band", he has been on the side of the angels as far as I'm concerned.   And as for the music itself, well they don't call him "The Boss" for nothing. 


From Mr. Pitts' column:     


"...for all the manicured eloquence of the constitutionally mandated report President Obama delivered in January, the new Bruce Springsteen album, "Wrecking Ball," captures more raw emotional truth about the state of the American Dream than any politician ever could.

"These first years of the millennium have been extraordinarily trying, especially for a nation that had passed a quarter century in relative peace. Then came terror. Then came wars. Then came economic meltdown. And in the last, we were galled to find that what had brought us to the brink of ruin was the greed, corruption, mendacity and predatory practices of giant money houses and that we were now required to save them from the consequences of their misdeeds because they were too big to fail.

"Meantime, we failed right, left and sideways, as jobs went away and money grew tight, as horizons receded and hope shriveled down to a wrinkled shell of itself and people who'd never asked for all that much to begin with -- a fair chance to earn their own bread, care for themselves, house themselves -- found their aspirations padlocked behind them, their dreams set out at the curb. In a nation where corporations are people and fetuses are people, actual people could not catch a break, nor even much in the way of empathy.

"It is from the heart of this disconnection, this chasm between America that is and America that ought to be, that Springsteen issues his report."

The rest of the column is here:


http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/20/2704404/bruce-springsteen-and-the-state.html


 




50 comments:

  1. I'm not really a follower of Springsteen, so haven't caught up with this album. I shall make a point of listening to it.

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  2. Thanks Iri Ani. I just had a chance to hear it today and I think it's one of his best.

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  3. A Celtic-music-inspired bonus trac, "American Land" from the same album:

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  4. not very familiar with Springsteen Doug but the title of the album "Wrecking Ball" reminded me of the book "Wrecking Crew" and the book as you probably know expressed a somewhat progressive although very honest assessment of the previous administration.

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  5. That's right Mike. I've read a couple reviews on that one, but I haven't read it yet.

    "The Wrecking Crew" is also the title of a bad Dean Martin/Matt Helm movie from 1969, but let's not go there. ;-)

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  6. hahaha I believe there was a band with the same name as well Doug

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  7. It's really a great band name Mike

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  8. We've all had it so good for so long that we forgot that life can get hard for whole communities and not just for the odd unlucky individual.

    Clearly the journalist and the singer both have a way with words.

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  9. Gosh, I look a bit like a Muppet version of you, Doug! Hehe!

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  10. I just listened to "we take care of our own" a very powerful song Doug...too bad its not the way it is in this country anymore at least by the Right. They want to strip everything from the old and poor and give it all to the rich and powerful.

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  11. lol.... That's okay!

    Those two old guys in the balcony are my two favorite Muppets.

    They call things the way they see it. ;-)

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  12. That's never been more true than today, Marty, I'm sad to say.

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  13. Hehe! Yes, I hope Bert and Ernie show the same spirit at their age!

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  14. I think Mr Springsteen owes something to both the Pogues and the Dropkick Murphys here Doug, good song though so thanks for posting it.

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  15. But I thought it was fundamental to the American Dream that Americans look after themselves and only themselves as a matter of principle Doug?

    Who 'our own' actually is therefore often stops at the front door, or certainly at some point before it reaches the man/woman/child on the street.

    The fact that American exceptionalism, the City On The Hill Puritan concept of manifest destiny has again been recently articulated by Newt Gingrich, who argues the claim to "exceptionalism" is:-

    "built on the unique belief that our rights do not come from the government, but from God, giving honor and responsibility to the individual -- not the state."

    That understanding of the American Dream has meant the term 'we take care of our own' can be interpreted in a infinite number of ways with infinite room for inclusions and exclusions until it actually means very little at all. It seems to me that America has never taken care of its own or anyone else's own either. Becoming "our own" in terms of corporate America means giving up oneself to acquiesce as an uncomplaining patriot and non-vexatious consumer, it's not so much about being your own person as being a person who is owned by those financial and commercial corporations they are interminably indebted to.

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  16. I thought the very same thing, AA. I haven't read any recent Springsteen interviews but I'm pretty sure he would acknowledge the debt to these fantastic musical groups.

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  17. You're quite right that the lyrics could be interpreted in an inclusive and self-centered manner, AA. But I think Springsteen's message is closer to that of John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath"--the notion that people in distress must take care of one another, the America of Woody Guthrie and the Social Gospel.

    But you're right I think in pointing out that people will often hear what they want to hear in a popular ballad. This was true especially of Springsteen's "Born on the USA", a tune with an upbeat sound about a young man who can't find a job and who's brother was killed in the Vietnam War.

    I can't think of two Americans in the spotlight less suited to offer a similar interpretation. Gingrich is essentially a right-radical who knows no bounderies in his quest for easy money and high office. Bruce Springsteen may not be Billy Bragg but he's no "ah shucks" American country-western artists like Lee Greenwood andToby Keith, who look for a easy appeal to the path of least patriotic resistance.

    Here's a bit of analysis I found on the matter of some merit.
    http://www.philipvickersfithian.com/2012/01/meaning-of-we-take-care-of-our-own.html


    "Anyone who listens to the song will hear a Springsteen-like call for an inclusive American community that will only prosper if citizens care for one another. This is Springsteen's civic humanism at its best. There are echoes here of our recent economic hardships, Katrina, and a search for meaning ("home") in it all. Springsteen, as he so often does, calls us to fulfill the promise of America by loving others.


    Here is Chris Philips at Backstreets:

    "The ultra-anthemic "We Take Care of Our Own" marches in with one of Springsteen's most martial rhythms — a kickdrum on every downbeat — since "Badlands." And you better believe it has some of the same "trouble in the heartland" concerns, too. But then there's that chorus: rousing, uplifting, and positioning "We Take Care of Our Own" to not only be Springsteen's most misinterpreted song since "Born in the U.S.A.," but misinterpreted in precisely the same way. With its imagery of flying flags, it's practically begging for it.

    "And there are takers. The L.A. Times' Randall Roberts describes the song as "an affirmation of national glory," with a chorus that reveals the song to be "about the country and hardship, but also about community and pride." The Atlantic Wire cheerily reports, "it's really, really good. This is to be expected, because it's Springsteen, and also because the song involves flags, loyalty oaths, and going through life with a heart-as-big-as-all-outdoors."

    "Of course, perhaps even more than with "Born in the U.S.A.," even half-listening to the verses brings the awareness that the chorus is not as rah-rah as it sounds. This is a song of searching, and not finding — searching for mercy, for love, for work, for spirit, for the American promise, and, recalling "Long Walk Home" from 2007's Magic, for "the map that leads me home...."

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  18. One of the main reasons why the United States has been so successful is because of it's ability to interpret language in inconsistent ways that suit it's entire purpose at any given time.

    But I don't think that the USA is always "about itself". No oil in Yugoslavia, no mileage in getting involved in that country's break-up and the atrocities that went on there. It's not like the US did it because they owed anyone any favours after helping out financially and militarily in the early part of C20th and playing a big part in the establishment of the League of Nations.
    They got involved on principal. On the principal that what was going on was unacceptable.

    Any hegemonic power will have it's cruelties to it's own and the rest. Why is Caesar considered great and Ghenghis Khan not? They were both ruthless and racist. Every bit as much as Hitler. More so even. It is the nature of the Top Beast. The Alpha Bastard. Power is the goal. Power is the Glory. And power is the slaughter of innocents.

    I don't think that the American Dream is anything to berrate the USA with. It comes from a time when dreaming was an act of rebellion against opressors. Now the opressed have become the opressors to some degree and the Dream no longer exists because it and it's Capitalist confederate have collapsed into a nightmare of the darkest mortality.

    All empires ail and die. Even the Eternal ones.

    How do the people cease to be bound by their own consumerist slavery? How does a fish learn to walk and breath air?
    It doesn't, because it is the nature of all beasts to flow down river, not up. (I'll ignore salmon at this point).

    The people who "own" the power give a little titbit of that power to the rest, and that is more power than most would get in a more controlled society. Ask any German. United Germany is a worse place than West Germany. But is a heaven compared to the Eastern version as Josep Public will gushingly testify.

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  19. I think that's good point Oakie. Actually I believe the United States got involved in Bosnia because Europe's leaders were standing flat-footed, doing nothing. This is not an indictment of Europeans who urged action let me say.

    But I submit it was the leaders of severla nation who could have done something about these wars in the Balkans. But they waited for President Clinton and Congress to lead NATO to do something of a strong military nature about the genocide triggered by Serbian militias.

    Not the guys and gals running Canada.


    Not the guys and gals running France.

    Not the jolly Germans, who God knows had no compunction about sending troops to the Balkans back in 1941 and were capable of repeating the feat with better intentions this time.

    (Though getting across the English Channel has always been a bit of a stretch for them.)

    The point is the USA was supposed "to do something" about Bosnia first and foremost because of the idealism that America stands for something more than it's territory. (And that we must rightfully atone for all the occasions when this nation didn't live up to those ideals.) Perhaps there is more than a measure of fairness to that.

    But other nations, like China, seem to have leaders with ideals that depend always on what is simply best for their power elite. And I never hear "why don't the Chinese stop the regime of _______ from doing bad things to the people of _________."

    But of course matters of principal is lacking at times in all empires and allies organizations . Americans stood back and let the genocide take place in Rwanda in 1994. How could the worst case of mass murder since WWII take place and the USA do nothing?


    It was manly because there was a feeling in American leadership that the humanitarian mission in Somalia in 1993 ended in a mission-creep disaster to bring down warlord Muhammad Adid, whose "soldiers" fired on a group of Pakistani soldiers trying to organize a famine-relief project. Then came the "Blackhawk Down" disaster.

    Nations will indeed act on principal from time to time. Both public opinion--here and abroad--plays a big part in part. We were the only major nation that somehow survived the tragic wars of the 20th Century without being bombed or devastated. And--with Britain--leaving our politcal systems untouched.

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  20. Have to look further into this as Bruce has always represented that middle class and he is one which came out with the album Born in the USA and in many ways the one whom started humbly within New Jersey. He always seemed to have a rooted style of rock which was that that predominantly seemed to represent America Doug.

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  21. Having grown up in New Jersey I am extremely familiar with Bruce. He is one of my favorites. Every time I hear Glory Days I have to crank up the volume. it hits a chord with me. Really enjoy American Land. I will have to listen to more of the album so I can reply more.

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  22. I agree Jack. I'd rather have him representing America in song than almost any major performer and composer.

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  23. I like "American Land" as well. It really is a gem!


    I guess the album 'Wrecking Ball" was inspired by the demolition of Giants Stadium in The Meadowlands. I believe Bruce Springsteen had the last concert there.

    "Glory Days" is also a great tune. Thanks Fred.

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  24. I find this statement absolutely incredible, but one clearly resonant with the 'special relationship' which has always compensated for any ahistorial bias i my opinion.

    Yugoslavia was the start of the NATO enforced CIA choreographed "Colour Revolutions" and a proxy war with Russia (and China).

    It was the first outing for Washington's al-Qaeda PSYOP and the matinee performance of that now well established Pentagon strategy of Humanitarian Bombing. Yugoslavia was a war of aggression waged by the US and its NATO surrogates for which there is no room for pride or any of the other lip quivering upstanding notion of honour. Washington's Islamic surrogates on this occasion the KLA were raping and murdering with impunity supplied and directed by the CIA.

    Yugoslavia was the start of World War Three, it was of course avoidable at the time but the US/NATO Axis was not going to miss this opportunity to end the moratorium on nuclear weapons and sink the START treaty once and for all.

    The 'principle' was and still is' full spectrum dominance' the doctrine of US military crimes against peace and humanity.

    For a contemporaneous account that takes a contrary position to the corporate media propaganda at the time can be found here - http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23914.

    NATO was transformed from a defensive cold war alliance into an offensive war-making Axis in the late 1990s

    The first step in the US strategy of changing the nature of NATO was the attack on Yugoslavia on the pretext of preventing ethnic cleansing.

    Clearly Yugoslavia had not attacked a NATO member state thus excluding a response from NATO.

    Whatever one can say about Kosovo, it was internationally recognised as an integral part of Yugoslavia (and is still internationally recognised as part of Serbia) and Yugoslavia did not attack or even threaten a NATO member state.

    The bombing of Serbia sanctioned NATO out of area operations and was a prelude to NATO involvement in Afghanistan as the handmaiden of the USA.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9257

    I think we have to differentiate history from comforting propaganda here, or at least back our assertions with some evidence rather than simply regurgitate the BBC version of events.

    Kosovo today is the biggest arms and drugs dumping ground in Europe thanks to NATO and Afghan opiate connection of which it is a crucial element.

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  25. I beg to differ here Doug, there is plenty of evidence that Germany was deeply implicated in the Yugoslavia adventure .

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7806

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22476

    Heralded by the global media as a humanitarian peace-keeping mission, NATO's ruthless bombing of Belgrade and Pristina goes far beyond the breach of international law. While Slobodan Milosevic is demonised, portrayed as a remorseless dictator, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is upheld as a self-respecting nationalist movement struggling for the rights of ethnic Albanians. The truth of the matter is that the KLA is sustained by organised crime with the tacit approval of the United States and its allies.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23912

    The creation of Kosovo as an “independent” state would be a precedent for other schemes U.S. imperialism could take advantage of to break away areas of other sovereign nations, including China and Russia, applying the old “divide and conquer” strategy perfected by British imperialism.


    It seems the global media has had a degree of success in promoting disinformation within the NATO axis countries, credit where credit is due I suppose.

    Subsequent NATO bases in the Balkans are clearly a sign of the West's good intentions and selfless sacrifices etc,etc,etc..........

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  26. I would be much more critical of the Euro states re Yugoslavia. They knew what was going on long before they did anything. Concentration camps, ethnic-cleansing, systematic rape and torture (Predominently by the forces of law and order). I was one of many Europeans who wanted US invovlement because of its superior military and intelligence capabilities. But also because many people in Eastern Europe see the US as standing for a level of freedom and opportunity that absolutely did not exist in almost all of Eastern Europe. And this would be a potentially beneficial propaganda factor. (Or good, psychologically to put it another way).

    I do wonder why propaganda has such a bad name sometimes. It is only the use of psychological warfare which has been a standard on a military basis since time began. There are clear examples of The Roman, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Egyptians, Ghenghis Khan etc using it succesfully. You cannot fight a war by telling the total truth. Because no side that goes into war is entirely blame-free. There are always skeletons in the closet. For instance, the Treaty of Versialles was so incredibly unfair on Germany that it provoked a huge rise in German resentment and nationalism. So it could be said that Hitler didn't start WWII after all.

    I don't disagree with most of what Aaron says, but I do think that he is selective in what he sees as the truth and when you say:

    "USA was supposed "to do something" about Bosnia first and foremost because of the idealism that America stands for "

    I genuinely believe that that really was an influential factor. The people who wield power in the US wield it over a national psyche that is unique. Americans want to be liked wheras the Brits aren't that bothered and the French seem to want to be overtly hated. (Hehe!). Why else would they set themselves up as the cultural capital of Europe?
    Obviously no nation has a populace where everyone thinks the same. But sports teams are moulded in the psychology of their coaches and the USA has, at least partially, been moulded in the psychology of some pretty good presidents, social movements, international involvements, and the creativity of great inventors, film-makers etc. The fact that I as a Brit recognise that says nothing about the "special relationship", and it doesn't mean that I automatically back Washington at the drop of a hat.

    I also agree about the power elite. The power elite in the USA is hampered by some accountability, some relatively liberal laws, an inquisitive film industry and the recognition of many "special relationships". It is however aided by a media that seems to want to create that Cretinocracy.
    If you verbally oppose the Power in the USA you will be called an idiot. Like Michael Moore, for instance. Or you might be called mentally ill. You won't be executed.
    Africa, much the Middle-East and parts of the Far East has a consistently inferior level of public accountability. So your point is clearly valid.

    Regarding Rwanda and Burundi. Europe did nothing as well. But I agree that Somalia must have influenced things. Instead of sending in large numbers of troops (unpopular at home) they used the same kind of rocket fire in civilian areas that Israel tends to, with the same catastrophic results. Rwanda and Burundi would have required that same troop investment. And, those that wield power were too accountable to send off so many American sons and daugters to their doom on principal alone.

    Whilst nations always act in their own interests in the end, there has still been room for principal as you say. It is less evident in war situations, but the massive amounts of aid sent out to nations that are in peril shows that there is a will to at least do the good thing sometimes. Especially in incidents where huge natural disasters have occured.

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  27. We definately have a lot of low-information voters and citizens here, Oakie. Most of what is best about America came from the rule of law, a rule that always seems to be subverted in times of real or imagined national crisis like 9/11.

    I would agree with Aaran that the United States should take a much smaller role in international affairs. But I also think principle has played a part of some decisions of using the Armed Forces, as in Bosnia, in consort with other nations.

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  28. Would the world be a better place had the USA held itself in since its independance?
    It's likely that Hitler would have won WWII and that Europe would have suffered major economic meltdown without being able to borrow Yankee dollars.
    On the other hand, she has been mischief-making for a long while too.

    Would the Middle-East be a safer place if USA cut Israel's apron strings? I'm not sure that it would.

    It is likely that Arab oil prices would rise roughly in proportion to the amount of political autonomy that an American-free Middle-East might enjoy. This would cost the Western citizen their hefty standard of living and there is no guarentee that Iranians, for instance, would enjoy a rise in their own quality of life despite the greater flow of income to their nation's coffers when there is a militarily ambitious regime in charge there.

    Whilst the US undoubtably lacks moral credibility (along with it's puppy-dog Europe) in many ways, it must also be acknowledged that it has given a great deal to the world in its short lifetime. And its constitutional values are still seen as the written-word of freedom all over the planet. It is a crying shame that some US leaders and citizens don't get what being a true American should be about. And it's similar in Europe.
    The British were reknowned by most of its Commonwealth Nations as the epitome of civilisation (As Empires always suggest that they are). Though most of the reason for that appears to be that we built railroads and drank tea at 3 pm on the dot. It conveniantly ignores the fact that we invented internment/concentration camps in Africa and massacred people all over the place to boost our coffers by nicking their land and their stuff. The USA is much more accountable than the British Empire was because of global intercommunications.

    I actually think that the decline of the American Empire and the American Dream will be all about the economic rise of the East and the limits of Old Capitalism. The military side of things will probably just end up as a footnote and our modern-day set up will be seen as an unspectacular drifting off of half a millenium of European omnipotence.

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  29. No, nor would the United States likely have survived a world dominated by Nazi and Japanese imperialism. Not to mention the Marshall Plan and other programs to rebuild western and central Europe after WWII. To survive in a global society you need markets for trade. Had Hitler and Tojo's pack won the war it would have been a reversion to a terrible type of hyper-colonialism.

    As bad as the FBI and the CIA have been at times , I'll take those birds over the Gestapo and the SS. And boy is that damning with faint praise!

    I still think the OPEC states in the Middle East would be gouging the West on oil prices without without Israel. That's' not a defense of Israel's government as far as Gaza or the West Bank.

    The fact is no one can get elected in high office in America without supporting Israel. It is just a matter of how much those in question will allow themselves to be co-opted by Jewish and right- Evangelical Christian forces.

    I was disgusted to see the Israeli Prime Minister "Bibi" Netanyahu lecture the American President in full view of the cameras last year. I hope that little warrior got an earful right back from Obama at the recent meetings, as has been reported.


    Some historians have thought it was Kaiser Wilhelm II jealousy of the British Empire that was the key to the lead-up to the first World War. In the 18th and 19th and early 20th Centuries Britain did pretty much the same thing all European, American and Japanese powers did, they just exploited the power they got from being the first modern industrialized nation-state.

    We are definitely entering a new post-USA hegemonic phase and it will not be an uni-polar society, but one where China and India will have to be reckoned with as major economic players.

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  30. Whilst I couldn't possibly respond to everything you have thrown into the pot here oakie, what I want is a discourse on history, clearly you have your view and I have mine.

    But.... to characterise the US/NATO aggression against Yugoslavia as in any way honorable or just ....I think misses the geopolitical point entirely.

    You argue with passion oakie, but I have just thrown up some inconvenient data that questions the universality of this uncritical NATO perspective, that's life, that's history and that's all I want. This is my hobby you understand :-)

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  31. In the absence of anything resembling a meaningful democracy here or in America it is not easy to judge when this has actually happened. Perhaps we should have a global poll across every country, region and ethnic group in the world, then we could clam to know how the percentages really stack up/

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  32. Ahem -ethnic cleansing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_removal
    On September 8, 2000, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) formally apologized for the agency's participation in the "ethnic cleansing" of Western tribes.

    Massacre - On December 29, the U.S. Army's 7th cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it's unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it's estimated almost 150 Indians were killed (some historians put this number at twice as high), nearly half of them women and children.

    Genocide - Authors such as the Holocaust expert David Cesarani have argued that the government and policies of the United States of America against certain indigenous peoples in furtherance of Manifest destiny constituted genocide. Cesarani states that "in terms of the sheer numbers killed, the Native American Genocide exceeds that of the Holocaust"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history#United_States_of_America


    So what's the difference then?.....I don't think we can ever say NEVER oakie

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  33. Well that is certainly a view Doug. The murderous tit-for-tat of war particularly inter-ethnic civil war is infamously brutal I would agree and Srebrenica is a particularly appalling example. No dispute there Doug.

    However, the picture is actually more complex than that I think. It makes little sense without reference to the The Kosovo Liberation Army a Kosovar Albanian nationalist terrorist organization which sought the separation of Kosovo from Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The KLA was regarded by the US as a terrorist group until 1998 when it was de-listed for classified reasons and then the UK and the US lobbied France to do the same. The US then cultivated diplomatic relationships with the KLA leaders who had been responsible for a terror campaign against Serbia from at least 1996.

    This isn't all in the past though it continues today.

    Balkans political expert Marko Gasic told RT that the real puppet-masters are further afield, and Pristina's Albanian leaders could not have done anything without authorization from the US.

    "We know that the US has got a massive investment in Kosovo.
    It's got the biggest military base in the world in Camp Bondsteel smack-bang in the heart of Kosovo," he said.

    "And so everything that the Pristina cabal gets up to is authorized by Washington in the first place. So we know who can stop it. And it is time that the US administration stopped its extremist puppets in Pristina from even further expanding into Serbian union recognized territorial area."


    http://tv.globalresearch.ca/2011/07/kosovo-launches-border-offensive-against-serbia

    This is the real reason for the US/NATO aggression, America couldn't give a toss about massacres in Africa that go unreported in the corporate media every day.

    Germany was a major player in arming and training the KLA signalling its post-war, post reunification rehabilitation as a US puppet (although that is what it was under national socialism too so far as the private sector was concerned).

    Not only NATO aggression against Russia is involved here, but a major distribution base for the CIA/Afghan government opiate trade that continues to generate handsome profits for various agencies and privateers attached to them.

    As Wikipedia points out

    KLA has been connected also to drugs and arms trafficking. Agim Gashi was prosecuted in Italy for drug trafficking. Interpol's report in the US Congress of 2000:

    “Albanian drug lords established elsewhere in Europe began contributing funds to the “national cause” in the 80s. From 1993 on, these funds were to a large extent invested in arms and military equipment for the KLA (UÇK) which made its first appearance in 1993… Of the almost 900 million DM which reached Kosovo between 1996 and 1999, half was thought to be illegal drug money.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo_Liberation_Army#First_attacks

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  34. It certainly makes the case for intervention in Kosovo less of an clear issue, because, as one of the the Wikipedia link you provided shows, there was a definate tit-for-tat guerilla war going on in that region long before there were headlines about Serbian Army invasion and potential "ethnic cleansings".

    This part stuck out to me:

    "According to a 2001 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW):
    The KLA was responsible for serious abuses… including abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators with the state. Elements of the KLA are also responsible for post-conflict attacks on Serbs, Roma, and other non-Albanians, as well as ethnic Albanian political rivals... widespread and systematic burning and looting of homes belonging to Serbs, Roma, and other minorities and the destruction of Orthodox churches and monasteries...
    The KLA engaged in tit-for-tat attacks against Serbian nationalists in Kosovo, reprisals against ethnic Albanians who "collaborated" with the Serbian government, and bombed police stations and cafes known to be frequented by Serb officials, killing innocent civilians in the process. Most of its activities were funded by drug running, though its ties to community groups and Albanian exiles gave it local popularity.[37]
    The Yugoslav authorities regarded the KLA as a terrorist group,[38] though many European governments did not. The Serbian government also reported that the KLA had killed and kidnapped no fewer than 3,276 civilians of various ethnic descriptions including some Albanians.[39] President Bill Clinton's special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described the KLA as, "without any questions, a terrorist group."[21]"

    So that settles that I suppose.

    I had heard nothing about Camp Broadsheet. It certainly sounds like a colonial outpost. Evemn the local mountain has been renamed "Mt. Duke" after the old cowboy star John Wayne I suspect.


    I don't know if it is the largest military base the US has in the world as the RT expert claims--I would suspect Ramstein Air Base in a western section of Germany , for one, is larger, but the number of ground troops in Broadsheet is quite sizable. My grand-daughter was born there in 1994--her dad was in the Army--and I know Ramstein has the largest military hospital in the American Armed Forces. (Landsthul Hospital)

    Anecdotal Note: While my step-daughter was at Landshul, having her child, there were many civilian war refugees from the Balkans there who had been evacuated from combat areas. Some were very ill-dressed, Angela reports, wearing army-dispensed clothing, and some ladies were wearing their fur coats!


    Russia seems to have its own base near the Kosovo/Serbian border but there is some disagreement about it's military use. Oil pipelines do play a part in all this mess and the "great game" goes on and on, long after it makes any sense.

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  35. It certainly makes the case for intervention in Kosovo less of an clear issue, because, as one of the the Wikipedia link you provided shows, there was a definite tit-for-tat guerrilla war going on in that region long before there were headlines about Serbian Army invasion and potential "ethnic clean-sings".

    I am glad we are on common ground regarding Sebernicha.

    This part stuck out to me:

    "According to a 2001 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW):
    The KLA was responsible for serious abuses… including abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators with the state. Elements of the KLA are also responsible for post-conflict attacks on Serbs, Roma, and other non-Albanians, as well as ethnic Albanian political rivals... widespread and systematic burning and looting of homes belonging to Serbs, Roma, and other minorities and the destruction of Orthodox churches and monasteries...
    The KLA engaged in tit-for-tat attacks against Serbian nationalists in Kosovo, reprisals against ethnic Albanians who "collaborated" with the Serbian government, and bombed police stations and cafes known to be frequented by Serb officials, killing innocent civilians in the process. Most of its activities were funded by drug running, though its ties to community groups and Albanian exiles gave it local popularity.[37]
    The Yugoslav authorities regarded the KLA as a terrorist group,[38] though many European governments did not. The Serbian government also reported that the KLA had killed and kidnapped no fewer than 3,276 civilians of various ethnic descriptions including some Albanians.[39] President Bill Clinton's special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described the KLA as, "without any questions, a terrorist group."[21]"

    So that settles that I suppose.

    I had heard nothing about Camp Broadsheet. It certainly sounds like a colonial outpost. Even the local mountain has been renamed "Mt. Duke" after the old cowboy star John Wayne I suspect.


    I don't know if it is the largest military base the US has in the world as the RT expert claims--I would suspect Ramstein Air Base in a western section of Germany , for one, is larger, but the number of ground troops in Broadsheet is quite sizable. My grand-daughter was born there in 1994--her dad was in the Army--and I know Ramstein has the largest military hospital in the American Armed Forces. (Landsthul Hospital)

    Anecdotal Note: While my step-daughter was at Landshul, having her child, there were many civilian war refugees from the Balkans there who had been evacuated from combat areas. Some were very ill-dressed, Angela reports, wearing army-dispensed clothing, and some ladies were wearing their fur coats!


    Russia seems to have its own base near the Kosovo/Serbian border but there is some disagreement about it's military use. Oil pipelines do play a part in all this mess and the "great game" goes on and on, long after it makes any sense and long after the Warsaw Pact has been disposed of as well. It;'s no wonder we can't have a public health care system in the USA when we spend 45 percent of the total military budget for the whole world for such projects.

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  36. It certainly makes the case for intervention in Kosovo more of an murky issue than Bosnia, AA, because, as one of the the Wikipedia link you provided shows, there was a definate tit-for-tat guerilla war going on in that region long before there were headlines about Serbian Army invasion and potential "ethnic cleansings".

    This part stuck out to me:

    "According to a 2001 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW):
    The KLA was responsible for serious abuses… including abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators with the state. Elements of the KLA are also responsible for post-conflict attacks on Serbs, Roma, and other non-Albanians, as well as ethnic Albanian political rivals... widespread and systematic burning and looting of homes belonging to Serbs, Roma, and other minorities and the destruction of Orthodox churches and monasteries...
    The KLA engaged in tit-for-tat attacks against Serbian nationalists in Kosovo, reprisals against ethnic Albanians who "collaborated" with the Serbian government, and bombed police stations and cafes known to be frequented by Serb officials, killing innocent civilians in the process. Most of its activities were funded by drug running, though its ties to community groups and Albanian exiles gave it local popularity.[37]
    The Yugoslav authorities regarded the KLA as a terrorist group,[38] though many European governments did not. The Serbian government also reported that the KLA had killed and kidnapped no fewer than 3,276 civilians of various ethnic descriptions including some Albanians.[39] President Bill Clinton's special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described the KLA as, "without any questions, a terrorist group."[21]"

    So that settles that I suppose.

    I had heard nothing about Camp Broadsheet. It certainly sounds like a colonial outpost, one that George Orwell would have found sadly similar to The Raj I suspect. Even the local mountain has been renamed by the Yanks "Big Duke" after the old cowboy star John Wayne. Good grief!


    I don't know if it is the largest military base the US has in the world as the RT expert claims--I would suspect Ramstein Air Base in a western section of Germany , for one, is larger, but the number of ground troops in Broadsheet is quite sizable. My grand-daughter was born at Ramstein in 1994--her dad was in the Army--and I know Ramstein has Landsthul Hospital, the largest military hospital outside the USA in the Armed Forces.

    Anecdotal Note: While my step-daughter was at Landsthul, having the pre-mature delivery of her daughter, there were many civilian war refugees from the Balkans there who had been evacuated from combat areas. Some refugees were very ill-dressed, Angela reports, wearing army-dispensed clothing, and some ladies were wearing their fur coats! I gather they had escaped Bosnia or some other relatively safe area and been airlifted out. This was three years before the US intervened militarily.


    Russia seems to have its own base near the Kosovo/Serbian border but there is some disagreement about its military use. Nothing unusual there given the rapport of the old time Serbian-Russian alliance that seems to be its own "special relationship".

    http://www.economist.com/node/15464941

    Oil pipelines do play a part in all this mess and the "great game" goes on and on, long after it makes any sense.

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  37. I'm glad we have common ground on that, AA.

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  38. Thanks to both Oakie and Aaran for continually providing so much extra material for these blogs. I've learned a lot more info than I put into this blog that's for certain.

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  39. Sorry, I should have stipulated the USA as a single entity rather than the sporadic collection of white communities that were in many ways a nation in name alone so early in the country's history. Of course there were several examples of "official" genocide by Custer and co. back in those days.

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  40. Nice one, Doug!

    Hopefully The Boss will be pleased too when he reads your blog.

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  41. Yes, that's a fair point. We don't know for sure, but consumerist behaviour at least in the West is some kind of an idication of how for/against the status quo ordinary citizens are.

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  42. I know, I do rabbit on a bit.

    I don't think that NATO is uncriticisable at all. I consider the invasion of Iraq a war-crime entirely.

    But the appallingly cowardly siege of Sarajevo by the Serbs absolutely justified outside interference, especially when it was sanctioned by the UN. I believe that the bombing of Belgrade was a (late) response to that and that public opinion in the West largely advocated it. I don't disagree with your assertion that it was made for other reasons as well, but I'm sure that you'd also say that the Gulf War was just a big arms sale, yet the sovereign state of Kuwait had been invaded and the UN had a right to respond. I do think that it is possible to be popularist and sneaky at the same time.
    On that basis the more humanistic benefits deserve a positive response, even if they are brought about by an hypocritical set of Great Powers.
    Of course, there is an absolute need for interantional law to be upheld at all time by all nations. And the latest invasion of Iraq was literally terrorism because it was illegal.

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  43. I always think that personal experience is so useful to draw upon regarding situations of conflict. Three years is a long time and your step-daughters account reminds me of some of those Jewish people who got out of Europe early in the late 1930s.

    I knew a UK based Serbian girl when the war became regular news and she was understandably heart-broken by the whole affair. Terrble things were being talked of on the news and she stopped coming out to the pub, I think because she felt in personal danger as such conflicts always seem to engender instant racism. Even from people unconnected like ordinary Brits.

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  44. I agree about Israel. It is almost convenient for the US to have its two major international conflicts in the same zone.
    Netanyahu always struck me as a true Israeli nationalist, rather than a responsible politician. Right-wing by any standards other than Israel's itself. Glad that Obie bit his head off.
    Just after 9.11 the Israeli government criticised the US government, the UK government and the UN. Yet without the UN's incredible flexibility towards Israel and the USA's funding of its economy, the country wouldn't exist. Talk about biting the hand that feeds.
    I remember a senior Israel religious leader responding to 9.11 with "It's time for the strong to crush the weak!"
    I think Hitler would have liked the guy.

    Yes, Germany was just another nation that wanted to progress , very like the British indeed. We just got in there first.
    There was nothing fundamentally immoral about Germany at all in WWI. To punish it so cruely was a mistake. To then allow Hitler to break the rules of Versailles later on, was an even bigger mistake.

    Certainly the Far East seems set to thrive. But who knows what is around the corner. South America or The Middle-East could be top of the tree by the end of the century. Though world's environment especially looks likely to play a major role in what happens. As for India, it does have some of the proceedures that are necessary for the rapid growth. But I think it also has an Achilles heel. Indians are an inconsistant people. Capable of great things, but also capable of not caring enough about other things that are also important. It's great having so much employment created by Western outsourcing, but the average well-educated Indian's version of English is distinctly different from English-English and American-English. That creates an invitablely costly problem. Indians ought to be learning Chinese right now.
    I know of so many Indian people in the UK who buy a nice house in a nice area then leave a rusty car on the front lawn. (There's a road where I used to live which looks like a Bombay car dump, hehe!). Inconsistent.
    Arpu on the Simpsons is just right. He has tremendous integrity when it comes to many of the Kwikimart rules, but thinks nothing of selling stuff that's way past it's sell by date. I just think that the Indian psyche is one of impressive effort topped-off by poor decision making. But the Chinese psyche is fundamentally changing, and adapting to present and future realities is a wise philosophy.

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  45. No surely not oakie, late because the Trilateral Commission were busy stitching up Clinton with Mionica Lewinsky's frozen laundry (these things take time) and preventing the Russian peace initiative from ever getting off the ground causing Russian prime minister to abandon visit to Washington, turn around over the Atlantic and fly back to Moscow.

    Because of the near certainty of air strikes, the Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeny M. Primakov, ordered his aircraft turned around over the Atlantic Ocean as it was heading for Washington and postponed a planned three-day visit to the United States.

    Russia, which adamantly opposes NATO air strikes, had made clear that Primakov would take it as a slap in the face if Serbia, a traditional (if frayed) ally of Russia, was attacked during the Prime Minister's visit. Russia also said it would ask for a Security Council meeting if NATO attacks.
    http://partners.nytimes.com/library/world/europe/032499kosovo-rdp.html

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  46. Yes, sometimes the only things worse than crimes against people are the knee-jerk responses of people who stereo-type foreign-born people as being somehjow carriers of the disorder and violence they are only trying to flee from or to bring their loved ones to safety from.

    It does have a ring of Jewish refugees trying to flee Naziism. Britian was the only nation I'm aware of after 1939 that had a program designed to accept Jewish refugees, and mostly this was aimed at allowing children and young teenagers to enter the country. By 1940, the end of the "phony War" made this program impossible to maintain.

    Anti-semitism was a major force in American politics for years. Striking a balance in US relations with Israel has been made more difficult by the lack of response by America to the refugee crisis of Jewish Europeans in the 1930s and early 40's. Some efforts were made by the Roosevelt Administration (with the main catalyst being the President's more liiberal wife, Eleanor.) But it was a contentious politcal issue.

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  47. All nations, not just Israelis, face an existential threat from nuclear war. The solution is for Jerusalem and Tehran to come together and reduce tensions and threats as the USA did with the cooperation of the USSR. If those two nations could, so can they.


    I don't know much about people from India, other than films and a few books. I gather from a journalist friend of mine who travelled all over the Sub-Continent that many parts of India are quite rudimentary, but the people are friendlier than he thought they would be.

    India was part of an English-speaking elite for a relatively short span of years in addition to the thousands of years where they were building layers of of religious and societal norms without any input from Britain or earlier with Portugal and France in a smaller way .

    India's state-sponsored "IT" universities get a lot of publicity here for their technological training. More Indian students who go to American universities for medical school and high-tech degrees now return to their nation of origin than was the case years back--a good sign that there are more opportunities back home I suppose.

    The Chinese descendents in America have been more reluctant for whatever reason to enter political life. But East Asian-Americans are recognized as the most culturally dedicated to higher education than most other ethnic cultures. Of course, individuals very a lot and thank God for that. :-)

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  48. Thanks for posting the link Doug, an interesting account from the Economist. You are of course completely right about the "special relationship" between the Pan-Slavic (especially Christian ones) nations, which like the Balkan wars generally are the result of notions of historic blood ties and cultural homogeneity. It is therefore a very different form of "special relationship" to one allegedly enjoyed by the rulers of America and Britain. So however many troops are actually stationed at Camp Broadsheet, the fact of the matter is that they are a long way from 'home' geographically, culturally and ideologically...They are guardians over the sort of organised crime gangs that are condemned as the 'enemy' in places like Mexico and Columbia.
    The problem with "special relationships" is that they can be too special as in this case or not special enough as in the transatlantic relationship, wouldn't it be nice if the vast majority of people had a 'special relationship' with the Earth and all its other peoples, with the result that the poor and unemployed will not be perpetually used as the hired killers of other poor people on behalf of the ruling elite.....wouldn't that be wonderful, cue song........

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  49. I agree, AA. Of course all ideas that move humanity forward start off being more musical imagination than reality.

    If people like the Wilberforces and the abolishionists in 19th Century America didn't believe in the words to "Amazing Grace" there would still be slavery debates in our respective national legislatures, for instance .
    Of course world and regional leaders of all stripes playing favorites based on blood, sectarian or cultural ties only widens the potential for war. Especially when such appeals support groups that use the methods of criminal cabals to sponsor dirty deeds.

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