The American character

Glenn Greenwald

Fareed Zakaria warns the war on terror will never end. Obama and Romney still won't debate our surveillance state.

Fareed Zakaria, normally a reliable and pleasant purveyor of conventional “centrist” wisdom, has a genuinely good and surprisingly confrontational CNN column today, in which he disputes the widespread belief that America is ending its War on Terror and explains what this reflects about the American character:

While we will leave the battlefields of the greater Middle East, we are firmly committed to the war on terror at home. What do I mean by that? Well, look at the expansion of federal bureaucracies to tackle this war.

Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has created or reconfigured at least 263 organizations to tackle some aspect of the war on terror. Thirty-three new building complexes have been built for the intelligence bureaucracies alone, occupying 17 million square feet – the equivalent of 22 U.S. Capitols or three Pentagons. The largest bureaucracy after the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs is now the Department of Homeland Security, which has a workforce of 230,000 people.

The rise of this national security state has entailed a vast expansion in the government’s powers that now touch every aspect of American life, even when seemingly unrelated to terrorism. Some 30,000 people, for example, are now employed exclusively to listen in on phone conversations and other communications within the United States. . . .

In the past, the U.S. government has built up for wars, assumed emergency authority and sometimes abused that power, yet always demobilized after the war. But this is, of course, a war without end. . . . We don’t look like people who have won a war. We look like scared, fearful, losers.

What Zakaria is describing here, of course, is a permanent, sprawling Surveillance State, one that has been inexorably built over the course of six decades but which has massively accelerated under two different administrations in the post-9/11 era and which has no end in sight. Quite the opposite.

European Electoral Postmortems

Stephen Lendman

French, Greek voters say no to austerity (P. Le Segretain/Getty)

The morning after election Sunday, French and Greek voters have major issues unresolved. Austerity harmed people in both countries. Technocrats remain in charge. Odds remain long for change.

Europe's recession is deepening. Every stimulus attempt failed. Budget cutting during crisis conditions makes hard times worse. Throwing out bums for new ones assures similar ones.

European governments fell like dominos. Since crisis conditions began, over a dozen regime changes followed. Thirteen Eurozone ones collapsed, were voted out of power, or were ordered out by banker diktats. Left or right made no difference.

The Dutch government resigned. No confidence votes toppled Romania and Czech Republic leaders. Minority governments lead Sweden and Bulgaria.

An unnamed European diplomat said we'll "have to get used to new faces and ideas all the time." Unity, leadership and vision are absent.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso wants EU sovereignty replaced by Commission leaders controlling economic decision-making to harden austerity harshness. Voters reject the idea. Throw the bums out followed before and will again.

Spain replaced socialists for conservatives. Both parties follow similar policies. Italy dumped pro-business elected prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for unelected Mario Monte. Greece followed suit. Unelected Lucas Papademos replaced elected George Papandreou.

Conservative David Cameron succeeded Labour's Gordon Brown. Portugal's Jose Socrates fell from grace. So did governments in Denmark and Finland. Germany's Angela Merkel faces reelection next year. Will she go next?

US bombings kills dozens of Afghan civilians

Bill Van Auken

(Image is from an earlier US/NATO atrocity)

US bombardments claimed the lives of dozens of Afghan civilians over the weekend, including women and children, prompting a formal protest from Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai Monday, warning that such actions would render the pact he signed last week with US President Barack Obama “meaningless”.

US and NATO spokesmen acknowledged Monday the accuracy of a report from Afghan officials in southern Helmand province that a US helicopter had dropped bombs on a house in the Fatih Mohammad Pech area of Sangin district, killing a mother and her five children, three girls and two boys.

Helmand’s Governor Gulab Mangel denounced the Friday night attack, which was ostensibly aimed at a suspected “hideout” for forces resisting the US-led occupation, and demanded an investigation, the Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) agency reported.

The Way of the Drone: Emblem for an Empire of Cowards

Chris Floyd

A few months back, I reposted here an article that I wrote 10 years ago, before the invasion of Iraq: a fictional scenario of how the Terror War would play out on the ground of the target nations -- and in the minds of those sent to wage these campaigns. I was reminded of that piece by a story in the latest Rolling Stone.

The RS story, by Michael Hastings, depicts the drone mentality now consuming the US military-security apparatus, a process which makes the endless slaughter of the endless Terror War cheaper, easier, quieter. I didn't anticipate the development in my proleptic piece; the first reported "kill" by American drones, in Yemen, had taken place just a few weeks before my article appeared in the Moscow Times.

(One of the victims of this historic first drawing of blood was an American citizen, by the way. Thus from the very beginning, the drone war -- presented as noble shield to defend American citizens from harm -- has been killing American citizens, along with the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of innocent men and women around the world being murdered without warning -- and without any chance to defend themselves or take shelter -- by cowards sitting in padded seats behind computer consoles thousands of miles away, following orders from the even greater cowards who strut around the Pentagon, CIA headquarters and the White House.)

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