“That Was Me, People”

MUST READING (unless you’re already terminally ill)

Aug 10, 2021 David Sirota 

The new U.N. report confirms that a repeat of Obama’s climate denialism will doom humanity — and at least a few Democrats may finally recognize that. 

If after yesterday’s news cycle you didn’t feel a pang of doom, you’re either a zen master, a recluse living in a news vacuum, or a nihilist. The new United Nations report on climate change predicts an actual bona fide apocalypse unless our civilization discards our fetish for incrementalism, rejects nothing-will-fundamentally-change fatalism and instead finally takes the crisis seriously.

The bad news is that we’ve been here before during the last era of Democratic supremacy, and if the Obama Era we sleepwalked through now repeats itself, we’re done. It’s that simple.

The glimmer of good news is that we still have a bit of time left to defuse the worst parts of the climate bomb, and at least one part of the political dynamic may finally be changing.

But if we allow corporate media and the political class to erase our memory of how we arrived here, then history will probably recur and we will all burn.

The Bad News: We’ve Been Here Before

At its core, the climate crisis is a product of bipartisan corruption and greed. Politicians bankrolled by oil and gas interests ignored scientists’ warnings and financed a fossil fuel economy knowing full well that it would destroy the ecosystem that supports all life on the planet.

Republicans were more explicit about their corruption, actively denying the scientific facts and resurrecting their own version of a Flat Earth Society that reassured voters that nothing has to change and everything will be fine. Democrats settled on a different, but similarly pernicious, form of climate denialism: They acknowledged the science and issued progressive sounding press releases about the environment, and then they continued supporting fossil fuel development.

This strategy worked for many MSNBC-addled liberals, who seem to most value rhetorical flourish. Focused on the red-versus-blue war, they want politicians who deliver inspiring speeches that make them feel smart, smug, and superior to the troglodyte Republicans – but they seem to care far less about whether the words eventually become legislation, policy and law.

The cynical formula crescendoed in the presidency of Barack Obama, who campaigned in climate poetry and then governed in fossil fuel prose.

When Obama won the 2008 election, liberals lauded him for declaring: “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

Little noticed was the concurrent Obama-Biden pledge to “promote the responsible domestic production of oil and natural gas,” “prioritize the construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline,” and extract “up to 85 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil remains stranded in existing fields.”

And so four years after that campaign, Obama delivered a speech in Cushing, Okla., which perfectly summarized his actual legacy — and which future post-apocalypse historians (if any survive) will likely see as one of the pivotal moments in the cataclysm:

“Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years,” he said in a speech promising to boost pipeline capacity to flood the world with even more fossil fuels. “Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline[s] to encircle the Earth and then some. So we are drilling all over the place — right now.”

You can try to tout Obama’s support for stuff like the Paris Accords and electric vehicles, but his own boasts illustrate a record of climate denialism, as did Obama’s 2018 declaration one month after an IPCC report warned that the world only had a dozen years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change..

“American energy production, you wouldn’t always know it, but it went up every year I was president,” Obama told a Texas audience then. “Suddenly America is like, the biggest oil producer — That was me, people,” he said, adding: “Just say, ‘Thank you,’ please.”

The self-congratulation came only two years after Obama tweeted: “Climate change is happening now. Denial is dangerous.” And in that contrast, we see the fundamental formula at work.

Obama, like so many politicians, seems to believe that regardless of what’s happening in the physical world, he and his fellow elites can just tweet, Instagram influence, and speechify their way through it, and nobody will care. And that calculation has not been wrong. Indeed, Obama’s continued popularity shows how in the age of climate denial, liberal politics has anchored itself in its own form of reality denialism whereby good enough rhetoric with a self-serious tone from telegenic, well-educated politicians deters culpability for policies that jeopardize millions of lives. Just start making streaming content, put out a cool summer reading list, throw an oceanside gala with celebrities, deploy a shock-and-awe social media presence, and it’s all good.

But this isn’t merely a sleight of hand. There’s also an ideology here — or, more accurately, a sociopathy. Obama’s presidency was an eight-year quest to secure the vaunted “pragmatic” label from corporate media’s bipartisanship fetishists, no matter the human cost of that pursuit.

From the all-too-small stimulus, to the watered-down Wall Street reform bill, to the Heritage Foundation-originated health care legislation to the push for Social Security cuts to the approval of toxic chemicals to the Oklahoma speech’s embrace of drill-baby-drill, most major Obama initiatives represented an attempt to appease the right and punch a left that the Democratic president’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called “fucking retarded.”

The Obama administration’s topline goal was to prove to Washington pundits and corporate donors that the Democratic Party will always prioritize compromise — even when it means compromising the lifespans of millions of people.

All of this was enabled and fortified by Democrats who enjoyed giant majorities in Congress — and yet did nothing to change the dynamic. On climate in particular, that was most obvious: The Democratic House did pass a cap-and-trade bill, but Obama abandoned it in yet another effort to reach out to Republicans, and therefore it went nowhere in the Democratic Senate.

Obama and congressional Democrats then helped the GOP lift the crude oil export ban, and Democrats’ support for natural gas was so aggressive, one oil and gas law firm said it was a “case of policy continuity from Obama to Trump.”

The Good News: A Line In The Sand (Maybe)

Joe Biden, congressional Democrats, and Democratic primary voters were not innocent bystanders in all this. Biden was the vice president and had his name on the original initiatives to flood the world market with American fossil fuels during the climate crisis. Primary voters rewarded him with the presidential nomination as he was lauded by the fossil fuel industry for campaigning against a fracking ban — just as those same voters continue rejecting progressive climate candidates in favor of corporate-friendly incrementalists.

Colorado’s 2020 Senate primary was the iconic example of that trend: A reliably blue state’s Democratic electorate obediently followed orders from party leaders in Washington and gave its U.S. Senate nomination to one of America’s most ardently pro-fossil-fuel politicians — all while the local media and political class scoffed at his progressive primary opponent for airing an ad rightly predicting that climate change would prevent Coloradans from safely going outside.

That past was a prelude to the last few months, which have seen Biden begin to pull an Obama.

On the public stage, he’s offered climate poetry, telling America that climate is the “number-one issue facing humanity,” insisting that “we can’t wait to tackle the climate crisis” and doing photo-ops driving an electric truck. But like Obama, he’s breaking all sorts of campaign promises and governing in fossil fuel prose, increasing drilling permits on federal lands to George W. Bush levels, backing Trump-era fossil fuel projects, touting auto-emission rules weaker than Obama’s, and deploying his Energy Secretary to promise that fossil fuels still have a future.

Now, Biden is championing a bipartisan infrastructure bill that omits major climate initiatives — and that legislation is moving through a Congress whose most powerful Senate Democrat profits off the coal business, and whose most powerful House Democrat laughed at the “green dream or whatever.” It doesn’t help that the Democratic Party is run by a gerontocracy that can laugh off the emergency, knowing they won’t be around to suffer through the worst consequences of its climate compromises and capitulations.

Clearly, if nothing fundamentally changes in our politics and for the donor class that is disproportionately driving the climate crisis, then everything in our natural world is going to change for the worse, with ecocidal consequences on a scale that our species has never experienced, and might not survive.

Thankfully, that reality seems to finally be seeping into the consciousness of at least a handful of lawmakers — and even more thankfully, the narrowly divided congressional chambers mean only a small group of legislators are needed to actually alter the legislative dynamics.

In recent weeks, progressive lawmakers from Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., to Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., have promoted a simple mantra: “No Climate, No Deal.” The idea is that they will vote down any bipartisan infrastructure bill until it is coupled with legislation that could be the last chance to mobilize the country for the epic battle against climate change, before Republicans win back Congress.

This ultimatum is required in order to prevent Biden, Republicans, and corporate Democrats from doing what they clearly want to do: Simply pass an infrastructure bill that props up the fossil fuel industry with subsidies and road infrastructure, and then leave for vacation without any new climate initiatives as the world incinerates.

Up until now, progressive lawmakers have made a lot of noise and a lot of sententious declarations about the need for bold action and fearlessness — and then they’ve refused to follow up that sound with the fury of withheld votes. Most notably, they did not withhold their votes on the COVID relief bill in order to force the inclusion of a $15 minimum wage — and now that much-promised initiative has been surgically erased from the discourse, like the memory of an old flame in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

So yeah, it’s fair to remain circumspect that these Democratic lawmakers would actually follow through on their new ultimatum, for fear of being labeled seditious traitors to the party — which is now considered the highest form of treason in American politics. Such skepticism is especially warranted since these legislators have not made clear what they consider “climate” and exactly what they are demanding for a deal.

Then again, what ultimately constitutes “climate” in any agreement may be somewhat vague, but it’s kinda like the obscenity standard — you know it when you see it. Plus, Democratic lawmakers even threatening to act as a climate voting bloc is already providing far more pressure on Biden than Obama ever faced from his own party when he was bragging about his unrelenting support for the fossil fuel industry. And that pressure has at least produced an initial reconciliation proposal that is somewhat serious. So that’s something.

As the IPCC report suggests, whether or not these Democrats follow through and force a climate confrontation in Congress — and whether or not their own constituents demand they hold out for legislation that genuinely meets this moment of crisis — could be the difference between a livable planet and a hellscape. 

It’s the difference between Democrats in ten years bragging “That was me, people!” about rescuing the world from disaster, or them hunkering down at their Martha’s Vineyard compounds after they’ve laid waste to the planet.


Ladies and Lords Throw Ambassador Craig Murray in Prison; Why?

Randy Credico interviews Mohamed Elmaazi & Ray McGovern

Credico’s video includes poignant footage of Craig saying good-bye to his wife and two small boys at the prison entrance, as lawyer Mohamed Elmaazi brings us up to date on the legal status of this new travesty of “British justice”.

Then, from minute 13:20 to 25:20, Ray comments on why the British Establishment hates Craig Murray and his “odd” views against torture and prosecuting journalists like Julian Assange and himself — views embodied in the now defunct Magna Carta wrested from King John 800 years ago (when there were still English nobles.)

In 2005, Murray was among the first honored with the annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. SAAII is now about to name its  20th recipient. (See: samadamsaward.ch) 

Craig was preceded by other profiles in courage — British GCHQ analyst Katharine Gun and FBI special agent/Division Counsel Coleen Rowley, for example — and followed by the likes of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and William Binney.

For moviegoers, truly excellent films (NOT coming to a theater near you, sadly, but available on line) have been produced about awardees/whistleblowers Katharine Gun, Edward Snowden, and William Binney. Each of them has emphasized the degree to which they were edified by the example of earlier awardees to heed their own conscience and summon the courage to expose key crimes of officialdom.

US Abroad: Color It Racist

By Ray McGovern and Matthew Hoh, August 4, 2021

As promised in our most recent posting ( https://raymcgovern.com/2021/08/04/afghanistan-what-kind-of-future-is-possible/ ), here is the discrete link to my (Ray’s) indiscreet presentation at last Saturday’s conference on the future for Afghanistan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSfNy1bRqmw (24 minutes)

I chose to focus on the racism that underpins much of U.S. superiority-complex behavior abroad. And to illustrate, I put some indiscreet quotes on discrete slides — as Exhibits, so to speak. Here they are:

The thrust of my talk turned out to be a bit jarring, amid the wider (and commendable) attempt to look toward the possibilities for a positive future for Afghanistan, with economic development and lasting peace — and what achieving that kind of result might require. For balance, it seemed appropriate to note the obstacles to change in U.S. policy and to be candid about the deep-seated racism underpinning it.

I cautioned against unrealistic hopes that a change in attitude, a metanoia, would come any time soon to U.S. policy makers deeply tinged with white supremacy and the benighted notion of U.S. “indispensability”. Reflecting my (admittedly jaundiced) view, I suggested that Afghanistan’s neighbors would be well advised to expect U.S. resistance rather than cooperation, if/when they undertake a serious effort to seize this liminal opportunity for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s neighbors with immediate concerns (like fear of infiltration by highly trained/experienced/armed terrorists from Afghanistan) should anticipate that it may be necessary to proceed without U.S. involvement. The countries should, of course, welcome U.S. participation, but not count on it — and not wait for it.  Still more: Afghanistan’s neighbors need to meet the challenge of doing what they can to keep not only U.S. troops, but also U.S. warplanes “over the horizon”; that is, out of Afghan airspace.

For my talk on July 31, I reached back a couple of years to borrow something from a short presentation, The White Man’s Burden: White Supremacy and Military Bases, which I gave, dealing with NATO at a Conference on U.S. Foreign Bases (Jan. 2018). ( See: https://raymcgovern.com/2018/01/18/white-supremacy-and-military-bases-a-short-talk-by-ray-on-the-white-mans-burden-the-bloody-burden-on-people-of-color-and-other-others-like-the-young-palestin/ )

While preparing that earlier talk, it dawned on me (duh!) that NATO happens to be all white — in attitude as well as geography. Dr. King’s warning — “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide” — began to ring loudly in my ears. A new consciousness. Then, something James Baldwin wrote a half-century ago helped.

In a Nov. 19, 1970 letter to Angela Davis, who had just appeared on the cover of Newsweek — in chains — James Baldwin wrote:

As long as white Americans take refuge in their whiteness… they will allow millions of other people to be slaughtered… So long as their whiteness puts so sinister a distance between their own experience and the experience of others, they will never feel … responsible for themselves. As we once put it in our black church, they will perish in their sins—that is, in their delusions. ( For full text of Baldwin’s letter, see: https://raymcgovern.com/2019/01/18/james-baldwins-letter-to-angela-davis/ )

Racism: From Strategic to Operational Level

I asked my good friend Matthew Hoh, a Marine officer in Iraq (2004-07) and later a senior Pentagon and State Department advisor on Afghanistan, to share from his own on-the-battleground-and-within-the-Pentagon-and-State-Department involvement in these issues. Hoh’s non-Ivory-Tower response comes from his experience — both macro and micro — a highly unusual combination. (It reminds me, actually, of that of Daniel Ellsberg on Vietnam.) The following five paragraphs are from Matthew Hoh:

Racism affects America’s overall desire for dominance today just as much as did with Manifest Destiny and the doctrine of Discovery. “Civilizing The Other” remains a major component in American exceptionalism. This, simply, is what the US is supposedly ordained to do! Bring the rest of the world up to US standards. The white man’s burden, so to speak.

Former foolishly revered “savants” like Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama had a tremendous impact. Even though today many will scoff at their works in the 90s, those works reflected — and still reflect — predominant thinking within the American foreign policy community and the overall “Washington Blob”.

The Establishment sees an American empire that must be maintained and expanded. Many within the military, diplomatic, and intelligence communities view the world in not only a Manichaean way but in a way that resembles a game of Risk. The Middle East is one large region of borderlands that if not subjugated must be controlled so as not to imperil the rest of the empire, including, of course, Israel.

That thinking and world view at the strategic level makes its way down to the operational level, i.e. the three and four-star generals and admirals. While it would never be stated out loud and certainly not written down, the attitude is a racist one — embracing the belief that Iraqis and Afghans, Africans or Central Americans, or Vietnamese or Koreans, et al. not only have little right to their own land and self determination, but are inferior and so cannot be worthy adversaries. (Are today’s general officers too young — or too star-hungry — to remember Vietnam?)

With respect to Afghanistan, I often experienced this kind of white supremacy in 2009 and 2010 when I told very senior officials that escalating the war in Afghanistan would not work. The responses I would get would often be along  the lines of “Why do you think these kind of people can beat us?”


Afghanistan: What Kind of Future is Possible?

By Ray McGovern

I was asked to be one of the speakers Saturday at an unusually interesting conference on Afghanistan; I learned a lot listening to some genuine experts on the country and from the Q & A periods.

International Conference on Afghanistan (Virtual) – July 31, 2021

Afghanistan: A Turning Point in History After the Failed Regime-Change Era

Organized by the Schiller Institute

The video is at: https://schillerinstitute.com/blog/2021/07/29/afghanistan-a-turning-point-in-history-after-the-failed-regime-change-era/

Introduction:  We face an extraordinary moment: a choice between further descent into chaos, or the potential of Afghanistan becoming the seed-crystal of a new era of international cooperation so desperately needed to contend with disease, famine and violence worldwide.

The failure of the 20-year misadventure of the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan, and in the other failed wars in Southwest Asia, poses the question: Can the great nations of the world cooperate in the transformation of Afghanistan, and the other war-torn nations, into modern economies, participating in the kind of co-operative development exemplified by China’s Belt and Road Initiative?

Conference Speakers

Moderator: Dennis Speed

— Keynote: “Afghanistan: The Bright Future for the Coming Cooperation of the Great Powers” by Helga Zepp-LaRouche

— Pino Arlacchi (Italy), former Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, and former European Parliament Rapporteur on Afghanistan
“Eradicate Opium in Afghanistan, Develop Modern Agriculture, Build the Nation, Now”

— Ambassador Hassan Shoroosh (Afghanistan), Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Canada
“The Way Forward for Afghanistan”

— Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva (Russia), Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN “Russia’s Outlook for Afghanistan and Eurasia”

— Dr. Wang Jin (China), Fellow with The Charhar Institute
“Afghanistan and the Belt and Road Initiative”

— Ray McGovern (U.S.), former analyst, CIA and co-founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
“How ‘Exceptionalism’, White Supremacy and Racism Still Color U.S. Policymaking”

(Ray’s segment runs from 2:17:10 to 2:41:00. A discrete link to his indiscreet talk will be posted here separately tomorrow.)

— Hassan Daud (Pakistan), CEO, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Board of Investment

“The Perspective from Pakistan: The Role of the Belt and Road Initiative for Afghanistan Reconstruction.”

— Hussein Askary (Sweden/Iraq), Southwest Asia Coordinator for the Schiller Institute
“Put Afghanistan on the Belt and Road to Peace!”

Discussing Government Lies with Scott Ritter

Scott Ritter and I Discuss Daniel Hale, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Israel, “moderate rebels”, and the ruling MICIMATT
By Ray McGovern

I was delighted to spend a half hour being interviewed earlier today with my friend and colleague Scott Ritter on The Critical Hour.

30 minutes

It was a lively discussion. As most folks are aware, Scott knows one hell of a lot. He does not like it that our government lies — does not like it, not one bit.

Government lies are still getting a lot of folks killed.  To his credit, Scott does not hide his revulsion. I also chipped in — notably on Hale and on Syria/Israel.