Friday, December 23, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
By Eric London
21 December 2016
The United States Army War College published a document this month outlining US plans for waging total war in major metropolitan cities around the world.
The 163-page report, “Military Contingencies In Megacities and Sub-Megacities,” is written by two military academics, Dr. Phil Williams and Werner Selle. Employing cold and calculating military jargon, the authors advance proposals that would likely result in nuclear war.
It is likely, the article begins, “that the United States will find itself at some point in the not-too-distant future engaged in military contingencies in large cities.” Elsewhere in the document, the authors call the invasion of major world metropolitan cities “as challenging as they are inescapable.”
The document pictures a future filled with historically unprecedented levels of death, destruction and human suffering. Urban warfare “ensures that the battlefield will be densely populated. Civilians will no longer be mere bystanders able to be circumvented or avoided, but an integral component of the battlefield.”
The authors recognize that such battles might result in massive civilian and soldier casualties. “Such cautions notwithstanding, an inhibition cannot be allowed to become a prohibition. If there is a highly compelling strategic rationale for action, the United States might not have the luxury of avoiding the dangers of an urban contingency.”
Preparing for “contemporary Stalingrads”
The authors explain that the closest comparisons for the urban battles of the “not-too-distant future” are the battles of Stalingrad and Berlin during the Second World War.
“[B]oth of these battles ultimately resulted in the utter destruction of the dense urban areas,” the authors note. “A more modern scenario, which although unlikely is by no means inconceivable, could involve a battle in Seoul, in the Republic of Korea. In some ways, such a scenario exemplifies the potential for a contemporary Battle of Stalingrad.”
Given the population of Seoul (23 million) and the exponentially more lethal military weaponry available today, such a battle would likely kill far more than the estimated 3 million who died in Stalingrad or the 700,000 who lost their lives in Berlin. The authors’ response is to propose better destructive armaments for the US occupation forces in South Korea: “The more US military forces are educated, trained, and equipped for a dense urban conflict, the more likely the numerical advantage of North Korea would not prove nearly as decisive as Pyongyang might anticipate.”
The authors explain that such “contemporary Stalingrads” would occur primarily in poor cities—what the military refers to as “fragile” or “feral” cities as opposed to more developed, “smart” cities. The destruction of the poorer neighborhoods will be a necessary component of “pacifying” the population.
“Given the trends in urbanization, especially in the global south and the concomitant problems of instability and fragility, it is more likely that the US Army will find itself in a fragile or feral megacity than in a smart city.”
US military strategy: “Bulldoze the slums” and target poor and working class districts
Large slums and shantytowns in impoverished cities present a unique challenge to American invasion:
“Megacities and dense urban areas also contain numerous slums or ‘sheet metal forests,’ which are very different from ‘concrete canyons’ [i.e., commercial centers]…These areas can provide significant concealment to the adversaries and even become strong operational bases. Apart from moving the population out and bulldozing the slum, there is very little that can be done .” (Emphasis added).
The military proposes to target young poor and working class men. Growing slum populations result in “a surplus of unemployed males with little to do but join gangs or engage in crime as a source of income. Joining extremist or terrorist organizations might also appear attractive as a way out. At the very least, in the event of some kind of conflict, these young men would provide a pool of potential recruits for those opposing the United States. In short, slums would be an inordinately difficult battlefield.”
The only alternative suggested by the US Army War College to razing the slums is for the US forces to ally with “forces of alternative governance,” including “criminal entities.” “A tacit or explicit agreement with the forces of alternative governance might make it possible to prevent adversaries from utilizing these ‘sheet metal forests.’ Of course, there would have to be something in return, even if only an implicit understanding that US military forces would not interfere with the illicit business of the criminal organizations.”
This admission reveals the fraudulent character of all the democratic, humanitarian pretenses given for US military intervention. To suppress opposition among the poor and working class, the military proposes to either bulldoze the slums or to give criminal gangs free rein to rape, kidnap, kill, extort, and sell into slavery the most impoverished and defenseless section of the population.
Crushing “civil unrest” and “anarchy”
The military is preoccupied by the likelihood of social opposition to a US invasion. The authors of the war college document list “civil unrest” as a main problem that will “plague the governance of such cities and play significant roles in the military operations conducted within them.”
There is a danger posed by “precipitating the collapse of a fragile city into a feral one. One only has to look at the experience of New Orleans under the impact of Katrina to see how a city can rapidly degenerate into anomie and anarchy, with the normal rules and norms of urban life abruptly jettisoned.”
The authors quote a leading industry strategist who writes: “The urban dilemma” involves “a risk of insecurity among the urban poor.” This applies beyond the global south: “Even cities like Amsterdam, London, New York, Paris, and Tokyo are not immune.”
The US Army War College article quotes an academic who explains that the problem stems in large part from “class conflict,” which “might greatly complicate the post-combat, pacification, and occupation periods.”
Where social opposition emerges, the authors note that “the restoration of order and stability would have to accompany if not precede major disaster relief operations. This effort could also create opposition.”
In its efforts to crush opposition, the military fears the “problem” posed by transparency:
“The other problem when dealing with cyberspace in relation to megacity contingencies is that adversaries can exploit the almost automatic transparency that it creates—both to show US forces in bad light and their own actions very positively.”
As a result, invasion plans must involve efforts to shut down the internet, cell phone service, and ensure the local media publishes only US military propaganda: “Part of IPB [intelligence preparation for the urban battlefield] prior to any action in a megacity or sub-megacity must be to identify the services providers for both telecommunications and the Internet. It is also important to identify online opinion-makers who could have a major impact in any controversy over US military intervention.”
The authors also note how “here in the United States, the release of videos showing killings by police has led to significant protests and political movements.”
Alongside Internet and telecommunications blackouts, the document places key importance on dominating the city’s infrastructure in order to “control the population.”
“There are certain areas you will always need to understand when entering an urban area—with the purpose of then controlling it and the population. These are the building layout and composition, transportation, electrical, sewage and water, and natural gas systems and the locations/status of key subcomponents—bridges, gas stations, power stations, high tension power lines, neighborhood substations/transformers, underground sewage canals, water purification plants, gas lines and their depth under roads…”
The war college authors praise an Israeli Defense Force commander who wrote that during its 2002 attack on the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank city of Nablus, the IDF “used none of the city’s streets, roads, alleys or courtyards, or any of the external doors, internal stairwells and windows, but moved horizontally through walls and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors. This form of movement, described by the military as ‘infestation,’ seeks to redefine inside as outside, and domestic interiors as thoroughfares. The IDF’s strategy of ‘walking through walls’ involves a conception of the city as not just the site but also the very medium of warfare—a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux.”
The US Army War College report includes plans to establish a real-time map of an entire metropolis’ inhabitants, including their movements, social networks, friends, family and political thoughts. Quoting a group of European researchers, the authors state:
“The basic notion is that citizens with smartphones have become mobile sensors, reporting on events in the city with tweets, photos, messages, and the like. ‘This transforms human beings into potential sensors that not only have the ability to process and interpret what they feel and think but also to geographically localize the information (sometimes involuntarily) and spread it globally through the Internet, thus drawing people-generated landscapes.’”
At the same time, “Human intelligence assets will be able to offer far greater insight on adversaries because of their ability to capture emotions and relationships—things that will long remain outside the purview of even the most sophisticated drones.”
In other words, the US military will spy on the entire population of the cities it plans on invading, using drones and cell phones as real-time “sensors” to monitor entire populations. “Human intelligence” refers to the use of informants and government agents to infiltrate political groups and communities in order to suppress opposition.
Censorship and “the battle of the story”
Key to the military’s efforts to pacify and occupy major cities is its ability to win what it calls “the battle of the story.” The authors explain:
“Presenting compelling narratives can enhance legitimacy and authority in the eyes of many stakeholders (such as the urban population). Understanding the utility and power of digital media, therefore, allows for enormous reach and breadth that can indirectly alter the battlefield. The user-friendliness of mass media and mobile technology allows adversaries to manipulate and garner favorable public opinion and recruit support. For these reasons and more, civilian and military leaders cannot afford to ignore the requirement for compelling narratives.”
This fight over narratives is especially important in cases where the military is occupying American cities:
“In the final analysis, the battle of narratives and the contradictions of security are likely to be at the forefront, especially as the most likely contingencies will be humanitarian or stabilization operations. Moreover, such operations could even take place within the continental United States, as demonstrated by the Los Angeles riots and the responses to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. Presenting a positive image of the military to the American public is indispensable for continued support.”
The American ruling class prepares for future war crimes
The US Army War College article could serve as “Exhibit A” in a prosecution of leading military figures for war crimes. The article shows that US plans for invading, occupying and “pacifying” cities with tens of millions of residents are in advanced stages. In fact, the authors of this article consider such invasions “inescapable.”
No corner of the world is free from the threat of US invasion. The document lists several cities—including many in the United States—as hypothetical targets for invasion. Among those cities mentioned in the document are Mumbai, Beijing, Rome, London, Los Angeles, Abuja, Baltimore, San Salvador, Paris, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Dhaka, Nairobi, Delhi, Aleppo, Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Frankfurt, Zurich, Hong Kong, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Seoul, Manila, San Francisco, Tehran, Istanbul, Guangzhou-Foshan, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Rangoon, Alexandria, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Kabul, Cairo, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius and Mogadishu.
The article flows from the US military’s analysis of its own activities over the last several years. The authors reference the National Guard’s occupation of Ferguson, Missouri during protests against a police killing in 2014, the occupation of parts of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as foreign city operations like Kabul, Mosul, Fallujah and Baghdad. The US military is aware that it is preparing both to attack cities abroad and to suppress social opposition by the working class domestically.
If the US military is allowed to carry out its plans to invade major world cities using the tactics mentioned in the US Army War College document, tens or hundreds of millions will die while the number of refugees will be orders of magnitude higher. Capitalism presents a future of unprecedented death and destruction. Only a social revolution based on the international unity of the working class can prevent American imperialism from carrying out its plans.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
He also said Obama’s race factored into why Republicans were so intent on blocking his agenda.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh (D) said Tuesday that he believes Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election is in part a backlash against America’s first black president and the progress African-Americans have made in the United States.
In an interview with The Boston Globe, Walsh said that he agreed with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who told Salon after the election that Trump’s victory was a backlash against black progress.
“I would hope as a country we have gone beyond that,’’ Walsh said. “But I’m afraid that is not the case. I’ll go a step further. President Obama, from the day he got into office, was not allowed to really push his agenda along, and a lot of the Republicans had an agenda to not let him be successful. And despite their efforts to make him not successful, he’s gonna go down in history in a lot of cases as a great president.”
Part of the Republican insistence on blocking Obama, Walsh said, “is based on race.”
The morning after Trump was elected, Gates told Salon that Trump’s election marked the end of America’s “second Reconstruction.”
“It was a longer Reconstruction. ... But that election clearly represented a backlash against the progress black people have made since 1965 — epitomized, symbolically, by the election and term of a black man in the White House,” he said. “I have absolutely no doubt that this election reflected both anxiety and resentment — and an enormous amount of fear and insecurity. And the two things are tied together: There’s an enormous amount of economic anxiety, that’s understandable, that working people feel.”
“But it got transformed figuratively into xenophobia — anxiety about immigrants, people of color and the ultimate symbol: a black man in the White House,” he continued.
Trump helped launch his political career by stoking the racist theory that Obama was not born in the United States. He earned the backing of white nationalists and appointed Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, whose website traffics in racist, homophobic and sexist content, to serve as a senior adviser in the White House.
Gates was at the center of a controversy early in Obama’s presidency when the Harvard professor was mistakenly arrested in his own home. Obama said that police had “acted stupidly” in arresting the professor, but later invited both Gates and the officer to the White House for a beer.
Friday, December 16, 2016
Vinegar Mother is a unique jazz-soul-pop quartet that creates all of its own music.
Editor's note: Press Play is a column exploring the underground musicians of Connecticut. If you have new music to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Vinegar Mother, a jazz-pop-soul quartet from southern Fairfield County, has a few things going for it. There's Julia Zivic's voice — rich, pitch-perfect,...
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
In this episode Spiro covers some of the stories available on Newsbud’s Daily Picks. Obama expanding US war powers allowing special forces to team up with the CIA and operate outside of conventional war zones. Boston Police Dept. Spending over one million in tax dollars to surveil the public. The FBI gains new authority to hack any suspect in the world. And the US and UK pass resolutions to target what is being called Russian propaganda. All this and more in today’s coverage of Newsbud’s Daily Picks.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Well – with that said – one woman by the name of Danielle Muscato ended up going off on Donald Trump in his twitter feed in response to this latest outburst of his.
It was such a glorious beat down – that we had to write about it and share with you.
Her message was instantly received by thousands and rose to the top of the Twitter feed for all to see. No doubt, by the time this article is received – hundreds of thousands of people will be receiving her message – and they should. It’s worth every bit of your time to read.
Danielle Muscato just said what half of America has been thinking for months now.
1. Do not obey in advance.
2. Defend an institution.
3. Recall professional ethics.
4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.
5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
6. Be kind to our language.
7. Stand out.
8. Believe in truth.
10. Practice corporeal politics.
11. Make eye contact and small talk.
12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
13. Hinder the one-party state.
14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.
15. Establish a private life.
16. Learn from others in other countries.
17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.
18. Be reflective if you must be armed.
19. Be as courageous as you can.
20. Be a patriot.
Saturday, December 3, 2016
It's been nearly a month since Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to an opponent that every knowledgeable political operative, strategist, and analyst considered the weakest major party candidate in modern American history. The time has come for Democrats to start taking responsibility for the loss.
I'm not talking about recriminations over the Big Picture direction of the party. We've had some of those, we're bound to see more, and they're welcome (no matter how much some would like to avoid them) — because political coalitions and policy platforms need regular self-examination to stay vital and competitive, and because the Democrats have suffered some dramatic losses over the past few years at all levels of government. Those losses need to be explained and responded to.
I'm talking about this year's presidential race specifically — and even more specifically, about the Clinton campaign's responsibility for flubbing an election that it should have won in a landslide. I don't care if the "fundamentals" favored the GOP. Trump was a fundamentals-defying opponent who should have landed flat on his face regardless of the baseline assumptions. I don't care if Clinton racks up a nearly 3 million vote lead in the popular tally by grabbing up gobs of electorally superfluous ballots in California. She lost the election because she failed to win where she needed to win and where Democrats had a long record of winning — the upper Midwest — as well as where they win when they're doing their jobs well (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina). That's a sign of a campaign screw-up of monumental proportions.
Most of all, I don't want to hear about how unfairly Clinton was treated by the media. In comparison to whom? All the other candidates who've run for president while under criminal investigation by the FBI? (Maybe that substantial handicap should have overridden the party's presumption that she was owed the nomination because it was "her turn.") Or do you mean, instead, that she was treated badly in comparison to her opponent? Really? You mean the one whose 24/7 media coverage was overwhelmingly, relentlessly negative in tone and content? Either way, a halfway competent campaign should have been able to take advantage of the great good fortune of running against Donald J. Trump and left him bleeding in the ditch.
Why didn't it happen?
Let's start with the truly inexplicable (and underreported) way Clinton spent the crucial month of August. She'd just come off a highly successful Democratic convention and acceptance speech that produced a significant bounce in the polls. Instead of building on that momentum, she … disappeared, taking an enormous amount of time off the campaign trail less than three months from Election Day. Oh sure, she held frequent fundraisers to small groups of wealthy Democrats, where she placed large numbers of voters in a "basket of deplorables" and ultimately raked in the enormous one-month sum of $143 million.
But large campaign rallies? Not so much. And this lost month was of course followed in mid-September by pneumoniagate, which added to her down time. The result? From the end of July up until the eve of the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, just six weeks from the election, the Democratic nominee was largely out of the public eye.
But at least Clinton had all that money! Surely she and her Democratic allies used it wisely for strategic, devastating ad buys against her opponent. Right?
Wrong. As Simon Dumenco argued in Ad Age on the day after Clinton's defeat, the Democrat's approach to advertising was all wrong — and predictably so. Ad after ad "was simply a variation on the theme that Donald Trump is a big jerk," very much including the spot I saw more than any other in the Philadelphia suburbs during the final two weeks of the campaign: innocent kids listening to outrageous Trump comments followed by the tag line, "Our children are watching. What example will we set for them?" That might have worked if voters weren't already well aware of Trump's behavior by that point — and if the message wasn't more than a little condescending, as if Clinton was telling voters that all Trump supporters are bad parents.
But even if Trump's vile statements and behavior had been less widely known and the condescension could have been dialed back, focusing so lopsidedly on Trump's character (while saying so little about policy and the future of the country) was both foolhardy and sharply divergent from past norms of campaigning. As an analysis by The Upshot's Lynn Vavreck has shown, "More than three-quarters of the appeals in Mrs. Clinton's advertisements … were about traits, characteristics, or dispositions…. Since the start of presidential campaign television advertising in 1952, no campaign has made 76 percent of its television ad appeals about any single topic. On average, traits typically garner about 22 percent of the appeals. The economy typically generates about 28 percent of the appeals. There's usually much more balance."
And not only in ads. Nearly the entire vice presidential debate was an awkward, repetitive exercise in Democrat Tim Kaine attempting to pin Trump's most offensive statements on his running mate Mike Pence. Do it once. Do it half a dozen times. But over and over again for 90 minutes straight? Clinton did much the same thing in her three debates with Trump, deflecting policy questions whenever possible, avoiding broad appeals to the country as a whole, and pivoting as often as she could to the myriad glaring defects of her opponent.
To those who scoff at the suggestion that Clinton would have benefited from talking at greater length about policy, I'd point out that the idea isn't that she needed to plunge into greater specifics. On the contrary, an over-abundance of specificity on small-ball proposals that micro-targeted the panoply of groups in the Democratic Party's identity-politics-basedelectoral coalition was precisely the problem.
Where was the overarching vision for the country and its future? The closest Clinton came to articulating one was in the leaked transcript of a speech to a private audience of bankers, in which she dreamed of a hemisphere-wide free-trade and open-border zone. That clashed with the populist mood of the moment, but a full-throated defense of that dream — or a passionate repudiation of it — would have been better than what Clinton did instead, which was attempt to coast to victory on an air of inevitability and an undertow of Trump hatred.
Clinton narrowly lost, but she should have massively won. It's in the interest of the Democrats to figure out precisely where things went so wrong — so they can make sure that it never happens again.