Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saint Adolf Hitler

The creation of saints has been one of the Vatican's best propaganda tools. Saints encourage national or ethnic affiliation with the Roman Catholic faith, and they may also represent vocations or other attributes people can identify with.

It takes a while for a dead person to achieve sainthood. partly this is because Rome requires three "miracles" to be attributed to a person. In ancient times the miracles usually occurred before death. In our times the miracles are almost always cures that sick people achieve after praying to the potential saint. The Vatican has rules for what is a medical miracle and what is not, and they seem to follow the rules, so it may take quite a few decades of pretty many sick people praying to someone to build up the case for sainthood.

Right now Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day is being promoted as a potential saint. She would have been appalled at such nonsense. She would have had a thing or two to say about Spanish-Civil War era Catholic fascists priests who are in line for sainthood, too.

A rather large number of miracles have been unofficially attributed to Adolf Hitler, the former Chancellor of Germany. The Vatican is keeping them under wraps for purely political reasons. Hitler was the boy wonder of the Catholic Church in the 1920's and 1930's. When the Catholics lost World War II they had to do an abrupt about-face on Hitler. Most Americans think Adolf was a pagan, so effective has the re-write of history been effected.

You have to understand the Hitler, the American political establishment, and the Pope all had a common enemy back then: atheistic communism. Their epitome of evil was Joseph Stalin, leader of the openly communist Soviet Union (USSR, essentially Russia). But people were falling away from Catholicism in droves in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The system of simply killing Protestants, agnostics and atheists had broken down even in Spain and Italy. Fascism, Pope Pius XI realized, could be made into the ideal tool to insure that only one religion was allowed in the world.

Benito Mussolini only converted to the Roman Catholic faith after he had achieved power in Italy, but most of his supporters were Catholic and the Pope was willing to work with anyone who could crush the secularist and socialist movements after World War II. Mussolini and the Pope were willing partners.

Adolf Hitler was raised Catholic and first rose to prominence after World War I in Bavaria, which had (and still has) a Catholic majority. His first miracle might be said to be surviving World War I unscathed, despite constantly being on the frontline, except for a leg wound and later temporary blindness from poison gas used by the British near the end of the war. His party, the National Socialist (Nazi) Party was just one of many tiny parties created in the chaos after World War I, and it used Socialist in a sense opposite to its common meaning..

The Nazi Party was not officially Catholic: its membership also admitted Lutherans, a few pagans who wanted to restore the worship of pre-christian German gods, and even modern, non-religious members. The Catholic Center Party was the main Catholic party, but the Pope did not feel it was aggressive enough and in the end pushed to have Hitler as German Chancellor. So perhaps it was not a miracle that Hitler, the leader of the largest party legally elected to the German Reichstag, was given the position of Chancellor on January 30, 1933. The Pope did not feel that his friend Franz von Papen was sufficiently iron-willed enough to destroy socialism and atheism, but as second in command von Papen was supposed to watch out for the Pope's interest.

Hitler's next miracle was a pretty impressive one: helping General Franco establish a purely Roman Catholic, fascist regime in Spain by killing everyone who believed in religious freedom and democracy, even including a large number of Catholics. The Pope was very happy with Hitler and Mussolini about that. Priests killed in the fighting on Hitler's side of Spain's Civil War have been nominated for sainthood. Priests killed on the pro-democracy side have been ignored, but then maybe no one prays to them, and hence they are unable to show their miraculous healing powers.

Hitler and the Pope did quarrel quite a bit from time to time. Each wanted to be top dog. But the Pope was more than happy that Hitler forced German Lutherans into a "unity church" with Catholics. He was thrilled when Hitler's armies defeated the French Republic and replaced it with the Roman Catholic, Fascist, Vichy Government. Most of all, the Pope was thrilled when Hitler's bombers and tanks went for the heart of the Russia.

What was president-for-life Franklin Delano Roosevelt doing about Saint Hitler? At first not much, because he needed American Catholic votes to stay in power. While Catholics were, and still are, a religious minority in the United States, they had power beyond their numbers because of their political and geographic concentration. They were almost all in the Democratic Party, and they were almost all in the northeastern states. The Democrats needed them as badly as they needed white segregationists in the southern states. Thus President Roosevelt refused to allow the Republican (democratically elected) side in the Spanish Civil war to buy arms from the United States.

Roosevelt may have shed a tear for France, but he actually did nothing because he knew the French empire would be up for grabs. He planned for the British Empire, Soviet Union, and Germany to chew up each other in Europe, and for Japan and China to chew up each other in Asia, so that in the end he could conquer the world. Roosevelt was smarter and more patient than your average dictator.

American Catholics would probably have kept this nation out of World War II if it had not been for the war between the Japanese and China, which had much to do with colonialism but nothing to do with religion. When Japan and Germany declared war on the U.S.A., suddenly Catholics here put aside their religion in favor of American nationalism.

The atheists in Russia, while losing about 20 million dead (see Atheist Holocaust), defeated Hitler, and apparently would have even if the U.S. had stayed out of the war. When Stalin's soldiers started marching towards Berlin, the Pope began to hedge his bets. He flipped when U.S. troops invaded Italy. Suddenly he could only remember the fights he had had with Hitler, not their love affair. When Hitler was no longer producing miracles, the Pope needed a more practical basis for the long-term survival of his church in Europe. America made a natural ally because at its core it was anti-communist and pro-capitalist. While the Pope preferred the fascist economic system (with God's blessing, as enshrined in Papal encyclicals that they don't want you reading anymore), given the choice between communism and capitalism, the Pope went with the U.S. and Britain. The Cold War started before Hitler had even died.

Hitler died on April 30, 1945. On his death certificate his religion was marked Roman Catholic. He had run out of miracles.

But he fought the good fight, doubtless went to Catholic heaven, and is due for a revival. Now may not be the time. But be assured, the Vatican is keeping a list, and when the time is ready, the miracles of Saint Hitler will be revealed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Barbaric California Keeps Capital Punishment

Proposition 34, which would have abolished the death penalty in California if it had passed, received 5,550,896 Yes votes, or 47.8% of those who voted on the issue. No voters prevailed: 6,061,701, amounting to 52.2% of the vote.

Compare those results to the Barack Obama win in California: he received 7,262,836 votes to Mitt Romney's 4,580,933, or 59.8% to 37.7%. While neither Obama nor Romney made an issue of the death penalty, presumably most anti-death penalty voters were Obama voters, excepting the 78,123 who voted for Jill Stein, and the 49,981 who voted for Roseanne Barr, who both belong to parties (Green and Peace & Freedom, respectively) that oppose the death penalty. I point this out because it shows there must be a substantial portion of Democratic Party voters who are for the death penalty.

While the death penalty is the legal practice of barbarians (primitive, violent, uncivilized people), it is an ancient and comprehensible practice. None of us are too far removed from barbarism. I am tempted to approve of the death penalty if defined to my liking. I might impose it on war criminals, including the present and most past Presidents of the United States.

I see no reason to impose the death penalty on common murderers. War is the greatest crime of all. No American war criminal has ever suffered the death penalty (although U.S. soldiers many have been executed for refusing to obey orders), and only a few have ever been reprimanded.

In war, it is a war crime to kill a soldier who has surrendered or been captured. After World War II the U.S. executed hundreds of Japanese soldiers for this war crime, among others. It is a strange contradiction that the penalty for killing a prisoner of war (POW) involves the victors killing POWs. More notable is that the preponderance of evidence is that far more captured Japanese soldiers were killed by American soldiers during World War II than the other way around. At least partly this can be explained by the fact of U.S. victory; a lot more Japanese soldiers were captured than the reverse. No American soldier was prosecuted for war crimes resulting from World War II actions.

If a captured soldier, who may have already killed hundreds of his opponents in war, is sacrosanct, why is an ordinary California murderer subject to the death penalty? It is ass-backward thinking. It is barbarian thinking.

If you voted to retain the death penalty, you are a barbarian. I am not sure what would civilize you. Maybe you have some deep-seated anger, and need to work on replacing it with a greater understanding of humanity.

I thought California was a progressive state. We are not even qualified to join the European Union, which prohibits the death penalty. Even Turkey is considering abolishing the death penalty as part of the process of joining the European Union. But then Turkey has been civilized a few thousand years longer than California.

We think of radical Islamists who interpret Sharia as requiring the cutting off of thieve's hands as being barbarians (most interpretations of Islam do not subscribe to this). We think of England, or Great Britain, as civilized, but just two centuries ago petty thieves were sentenced to hanging there. Civilization is a process. It is also a balance, because there may be barbarians outside the gates. In California, the barbarians are already inside the gates. We need to civilize them, to help them understand that their primitive gods and culture are no good here.

Hopefully some day soon California will catch up and join the ranks of civilized governments. Canada abolished the capital punishment in 1976. They seem to be doing well without it. Perhaps some day the United States of America will become as civilized as Canada, Europe, Mexico and other nations that have abolished the death penalty. Meanwhile we are in bed with Saudi Arabia and China, as well as Pakistan and North Korea.

This article originally appeared as Barbarians Inside the Gates: California Keeps the Death Penalty at

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Poisonwood Congo, Imperialism, and Diamonds

"Two hundred different languages," he said, "spoken inside the borders of a so-called country invented by Belgians in a parlor." — The Poisonwood Bible

A few days ago the United Nations announced it was attacking rebels in the Congo with modern attack helicopters. Imagine thousands of bullets per minute flying at you. You would think that would stop a rebel.

Instead the army of the Congo disintegrated and U.N. peacekeepers stood down while the rebels, known as M23, triumphantly entered Goma. The government of the Congo, and the U.N., claim that M23 is being aided by the army of Rwanda. The U.S. is being careful about criticizing Rwanda, at least for the moment.

The prize? Minerals, potential land for international corporate farming, and geopolitical positioning.

To the extent that Americans are interested in the Congo, they don't have the factual background to understand the situation. Consider this a primer on what your governing corporate security state does not want you to know about the Congo and Africa in general.

First, a bit of illuminating fiction, and I don't mean what will be coming out of the mouths of Hillary Clinton and other professional story tellers. If you have not read it already, you might want to read Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Poisonwood Bible. In it an American preacher takes his family to a remote village in the Congo and tries to convert the natives to his version of Christianity.

The preacher, and his suffering wife and daughters, cannot translate their American beliefs into Congolese. The preacher's barking translates poorly into the native tongue. Among other mistakes, he pushes the villagers to baptize their children in a river that is dangerous because of crocodiles. "'Tata Jesus is bangala!' declares the Reverend every Sunday at the end of his sermon ... Bangala means something precious and dear. But the way he pronounces it, it means the poisonwood tree." While the family is there Congo gains independence and its first elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, is murdered in a CIA and Belgian plot.

It is important to recall that the United Nations was formed as a military organization during World War II and has always been controlled by three imperialist powers: the United States of America, the British Empire (now just Great Britain), and France. The Congo was a Belgian colony, but the French had major interests there and of course after World War II the American jackals moved in for the feast. Oh, wait, that's US. After independence honest U.S. business men helped the Congo by introducing more efficient methods for extracting minerals and other forms of wealth and shipping them back to America. It must be the lack of Christian go-getter culture that has kept the natives impoverished these last five decades. [Sarcasm alert]

But you can't just look at the biggest parts of the picture, the U.S. global business and governance system, of which the U.N. is a cog. You need to see the role played by Rwanda and Somalia, or rather U.S. strategic interests in those nations, at the very least.

U.S. equipped armies from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Ethiopia are currently operating in Somalia, trying to bring that nation back into the U.S. fold, and aiding a government of warlords also backed by the U.S. They are fighting Shabaab, who may have degenerated into a nasty lot, but at least they are a nasty Somali lot. Shabaab would not have amounted to anything if the U.S., its local bribe-taking warlords, and the Ethiopians had not ousted the prior, grassroots-built, moderate Islamic government known as the Islamic Union or Islamic Justice Courts.

Rwanda, of course, is mostly known for the genocide that happened there. It is a small, overpopulated nations of 12 million, or over 1000 per square mile, despite being mostly rural. It is bordered by both Uganda and Burundi, both also important to U.S. plans to dominate Africa, as shown by their willingness to send their soldiers to die for U.S. pay in Somalia. Rwanda was colonized late by the Germans, who because of its remoteness were mainly content to be puppet masters. After World War I the Belgians grabbed it. Gaining independence in 1962 coincided with the splitting off of Burundi.

It is a delicate set of dominoes the U.S. seeks to keep in line. U.S. objectives in Africa are to minimize Chinese inroads, stamp out Islam and native pagan beliefs in favor of Christianity, and covert small freeholders into agricultural slaves on giant corporate farms. In addition to controlling the mineral wealth. But Africans have their own issues, including ethnic, religious, and economic rivalries.

Note that all these nations are members of the African Union, which was formed in 2002. While ostensibly a goal of the AU is "To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States," the problem is its governments are easily bribed and corrupted, including by military and "humanitarian" aid from the United States.

Back in the Congo, the U.S. is particularly interested in the supply of cobalt, an element with many uses and critical to making jet engine parts. The Congo contains 80% of the world's cobalt ores. It produces large amounts of copper, industrial diamonds, tin, and tantalum, which is particularly important to the electronics industry. Its agricultural potential is enormous. Hence the U.S. is training an elite Congolese military force, and the U.N. has a major military presence.

Why was a small group of rebels able to defeat the Army of the Congo backed by U.N. forces with advanced helicopter gunships in the fore? Because the government of led by Joseph Kabila is corrupt and incompetent, but also because the Congo is not really a nation, but is really just lines on a map. Kabila is corrupt partly because he has to be to survive.

Best historical parallel? The "government of China" under Chiang Kai-shek. No matter how much money the U.S. poured into the "Nationalist" Chiang regime in China between 1932 and the communist takeover, it went into luxuries for warlords, not bullets to fight the Japanese or communists. What the U.S. called the "democratic" regime of China was so hated in the end that entire armies simply turned on Chiang Kai-shek and joined the communists.

It seems likely now that the Shabaab will be defeated in Somalia and the pro-U.S. regime will survive as long as the U.S. keeps providing money. The problem with this form of imperialism is that it does not build up the strength of the fatherland. It gradually sucks the home nation dry, as the British Empire learned.

U.S. imperialism is in an advanced stage of collapse. Let's just hope the collapse does not take down our economy with it. The Phony Fiscal Cliff negotiations. should be about the cost of imperialism, but instead will be worked to the benefit of investment bankers and the military industrial complex.

The Poisonwood Congo is difficult for people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to understand. Do they even remember that Joseph Kabila himself was backed by Rwanda and Uganda when he overthrew Mobutu? The problem with the U.S. trying to buy clients is that such people may not stay bought. China will soon be able to outbid the U.S. What then?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Barack Obama's Darkest Africa

"Two hundred different languages," he said, "spoken inside the borders of a so-called country invented by Belgians in a parlor." — Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

What can we expect following another ruling class victory in the U.S. elections? Just enough relief for the (upper) middle class to keep it aligned with the capitalist corporate security state.

Deception is at the heart of American governance. Want to fight a war that is none of your business? Elect a peace candidate for President, like Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, or Barack Obama.

The ignorance of the American electorate is so vast that the databases that keep track of it are a major contributor to global warming. Among the darkest of dark areas is U.S. policy in Africa. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama seemed to talk about African policy when they debated about the successful assassination of U.S. embassy officials in Libya. The candidates agreed that while it is a fine thing for the U.S. to kill anyone who disagrees with us in Africa, it is a horrible crime for anyone in Africa who disagrees with the U.S. to fight back. That is the level of sophistication that the typical undecided voter can comprehend.

Your average African citizen, of course, is no better informed than your average American. By all accounts many if not most Africans love Barack Obama, or at least love the concept of an ethnically part-African man running the most powerful nation in the world.

Africa, of course is a big place. It has many nations, and most of those nations were carved up by European colonial powers with no regard to ethnic lines or even natural geographic boundaries. Africa includes the ancient city of Alexandria and numerous new cities that have arisen in the past hundred years, as well as vast rural areas, some of them densely populated, while others are nearly deserted.

What is U.S. policy in Africa? Aside from killing anyone who disagrees with U.S. policy in any way (which is only a means to an end) our policy is to maximize corporate profits while gaining as much political control as possible. Right now there are three concrete objectives being pursued.

The most visible objective is the destruction of Anti-American forms of Islam. Islam is the new communism. It is important to realize that President Obama and friends do not care about the degree of radicalness. Radical Islamists who support the American agenda, like the dictator of Saudi Arabia, are fine. Moderate Islamists, or even secular cultural Islamists, are not fine if they support a local nationalist or anti-corporate business agenda. Nor is brutality, in itself, considered to be anti-American. Brutal pro-U.S. regimes, like the U.S. puppet government of warlords in Somalia, are promoted. The former, moderate, peaceful Islamic Courts Union of Somalia was considered insufficiently pro-America, and so was destroyed.

One item of this week's African news is a threat by Uganda to pull out of Somalia. As if Somalia did not have enough problems, the U.S. has paid the brutal governments of Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Kenya to invade Somalia. Uganda has, nevertheless, been accused of aiding a rebellion in the Congo. The brutal warlords who rule the Congo are considered pro-U.S., so aiding a rebellion against them is not allowed.

Extracting wealth from the Congo is an age-old game, with a history well worth studying, though I can't take the time to recount it here. Today Americans think we are a generous people who send our excess food to starving people in Africa, to nations like the Congo. But the U.S. no longer has food surpluses. Our over 330 million citizens slurp up more food than the U.S. can produce, even in the eco-damaging manner used here.

We need our diamonds and our minerals, which traditionally have been dug out of Africa with little benefit to the natives. Controlling mining and oil extraction remains the second U.S. objective. The third, and newest, objective is to create giant American-style farms where ever possible in Africa. These farms will not feed hungry Africans. They will employee a few native workers, while throwing many more off their land. The food will be sold to the highest bidder in international markets, which means to the United States, Japan, China or Europe.

Let any African stand in the way of U.S. businessmen, be they a local war lord, national dictator, or democratically elected Prime Minister, and the United States Department of State and its adjuncts, the CIA and Marine Corps, will treat them like a pothole in the road that needs to be paved over. Bribes are always tried before bullets. We can even show dictators how to have elections they can be guaranteed to win, with opposition parties that seem to offer a choice but really don't. We borrowed those skills from the British Empire in 1776 and have honed them for over two centuries now.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Four Troop Surges: Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan

Today some U.S. troops are coming home from Afghanistan, following the troop surge the Obama administration started there. This followed the successful troop surge in Iraq initiated by the Bush administration. Before that we had the spectacularly unsuccessful troop surges in Vietnam during the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.

Apparently it all goes back, in American history, to the troop surge during the U.S. conquest of the Philippines (usually called either the Philippines War or hidden under the rubric of the Spanish-American War). Following the ratification of the Treaty of Paris with Spain on February 6, 1899, in which Spain sold a nation they did not possess, the Philippines, to the United States of America for $20 million, the government and people of the Philippines launched a war upon occupying American troops. The Filipinos were poorly armed (most had only bolos, a sort of machete) and had little military training, else the Americans would have been wiped out. Despite their ability to defeat the natives in any set battle, the U.S. troops (Army and Marines) were not able to hold any territory outside of Manila.

As told in Honor in the Dust by Gregg Jones [p. 165], the engineer of the original U.S. attack on the Philippines, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, was already angling for the Republican Party presidential nomination late in 1899. After talking to officers who had seen fighting in the Philippines, Roosevelt decided that a troop surge was necessary. He wrote to Secretary of State John Hay urging the surge and predicting political catastrophe in the 1900 elections if his advice was not followed.

At first President McKinley ignored Roosevelt's advice, but the "rebellion," or national liberation struggle, continued. Roosevelt became McKinley's Vice-presidential running mate. Many Americans opposed the U.S. becoming an imperial nation, so McKinley and company had to mischaracterize the Philippines independence movement and lie about U.S. aims in the Philippines. [Jones ignores two issues: the needs of the sugar trust and the desire of the Roosevelts & friends to use the Philippines as a domino on the way to conquest of China, Japan, Indochina and the East Asian island]

Roosevelt got his troop surge in the Philippines. Uncounted numbers of Filipinos, including non-combatants, were killed by U.S. troops, who burned whole villages and crops. Torture was used during interrogations, notably water-torture. Enemy combatants — Philippines freedom fighters — were often executed as criminals instead of being treated as prisoners of war. McKinley and Roosevelt defeated William Jennings Bryan in the 1900 election. McKinley died at the hands of an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, in September 1901. Theodore Roosevelt became President.

However, the troop surge had worked. The same parasites in Manila who had sucked up to the Spanish were quick to suck up to their American conquerors. While the insurgency never went away, morphing and splitting to this day, by 1902 it was possible to drawn down most of the surge troops.

So far we have only one good instance of a troop surge not working: the Vietnam War. The two of the main differences between Vietnam and the Philippines were that Vietnam had a long tradition of nationalism long before the attempted U.S. takeover, and the Vietnamese independence soldiers were able to procure large quantities of decent-quality arms from the Chinese and Russians.

If looks, however, like the troop surge in Afghanistan will ultimately be a failure. The Taliban have not been defeated, and almost everyone in Afghanistan now hates the American occupation. There remains to be seen who will come out on top after American troops complete their exit, scheduled for 2014. It may be that the nation goes into another war-lord era, with no central government that is truly in control of the entire country.

President Obama likes to speak of how well things have gone in Iraq, how he brought peace to that nation, and always leaves out that it was George W. Bush who made the unpopular decision to use a surge of troops to give the new, democratic-style government time to get on its feet.

In 2006 the Democratic Party won Congress with a promise of bringing our troops home. In 2008 candidate Obama indicated that those of us who hoped for peace should vote for him. He has managed to make himself both the war candidate and the peace candidate. Expect the war to expand, in the name of peace, in his second term. He will find excuses to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan and continue to use your taxpayer dollars to buy foreign mercenaries to fight U.S. wars against many of the world's peoples.