Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from an African American point of view.

Insane U.S. Oil Glut Wars

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“The destruction of energy exporting economies will only intensify the global recession that has already begun.”

The people that rule the United States have determined that, the only way for the U.S. to maintain its hegemony in the world is to engineer the economic collapse of its rivals. The likelihood that such economic warfare will wind up dragging the entire planet into chaos and catastrophe does not seems to phase the Lords of Capital, who are so rich they can only be made poor at the point of a firing squad. Having surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas, the Americans are now flooding the planet with fuel that no one needs in order to keep prices so low that Russia, Iran and Venezuela will suffer regime change. Washington is also eager to deploy its military and dirty tricks of all kinds to break its rivals’ will to resist U.S. empire.

The problem is, it’s very difficult to aim an oil and gas weapon. The effects tend to be general, rather than targeted. It’s kind of like poison gas; the wind blows death into everybody’s face, including the guy who popped the canister. The Americans have soaked the entire world with gasoline, and now they’re running around with matches between their fingers, laughing like maniacs, thinking they have the ultimate power because they can burn the whole place down. Yes, it is conceivable that the regimes in Russia, Iran and Venezuela could be brought low, broken, through years of depressed prices – but oil and gas prices can only be kept low if the world economy is also depressed, locked in stagnation. The destruction of energy exporting economies will only intensify the global recession that has already begun. Chaos, instability, unintended – and even unimaginable – consequences will surely characterize the next, purposely created crisis: a deliberate economic crime against humanity.

“Oil and gas prices can only be kept low if the world economy is also depressed, locked in stagnation.”

It has already become clear to the nations of the Caribbean and Central America that the disruptions imposed by the oil glut go beyond the drilling platforms of Venezuela. The 17 members of Petrocaribe have for years enjoyed access to Venezuelan fuel at cut-rate prices, with the best of credit terms, as part of the socialist country’s policy of solidarity with its neighbors. Venezuela even accepted payment in commodities, a kind of barter system. The Petrocaribe program was losing Venezuela about $2.3 billion a year, and with the collapse in world prices, Venezuela may have to scale back its generosity. Meanwhile, the U.S. is licking its chops, hoping to make the whole region dependent on American liquefied natural gas. But, we all know what dependence on the United States means in the Caribbean and Central America. It means the end of sovereignty, the end of dignity, and the certainty of continued misery for the masses of the people.

The artificial oil glut, on top of global economic stagnation, will also cause insane things to happen to a U.S. economy whose only bright spot – besides the Wall Street casinos – is an energy industry that keeps on churning out oil and gas that a stagnant world can’t use, just to spite other countries that have oil. How crazy is that? And how long can that go on?

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150128_gf_OilGlutWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:15 PM

Not Charlie Hebdo: Why Anti Muslim “Jokes” Are Often War Propaganda

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

When you want to understand how the big wide world works you don't look back at yourself and try to make it rhyme with what you already think you know.

That means you don't ask smug, Eurocentric, self-congratulatory Bill Maher questions like “Why are they so touchy? How come those backward Muslims separate their religion from politics?” If you actually want to understand why some fraction of Muslims saw gratuitous insult instead of satire when the French magazine Charlie Hebdo depicted the prophet Muhammad doing things you wouldn't want your own small children to see, or pregnant Muslims as “Boko Haram sex slaves” howling for welfare checks, all you've got to do is look at is two bits of history. Philospher Karen Armstrong, in her latest book Religion and the History of Political Violence, goes a long way to break it down.

The first bit of history Armstrong explains, is that the notion of religion as a set of practices and beliefs about the diety you can perform on Sundays separate from how you put together political and economic life is an exclusively Western concept that nobody on earth before 17th and 18th century Europeans would recognize at all. The Sanskrit, Jewish, Arabic and other old terms for “religion” all mean something that recognizes no separation between politics, economics and morality and moral life.

It took more than a century of warfare in the 1600s and 1700s at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives to establish a kind of religion in Europe which could be separated from politics and economics. That way Europeans could have slavery and capitalism. European ruling elites could exterminate tens of millions in history's greatest genocide colonizing the New World and still call themselves Christians. Non-European Muslims are being allowed only a generation or two and fortunately a lot less bloodshed to make that kind of transition, which brings us to Armstrong's second bit of relevant history.

She reminds us that the 20th century's so-called modernizers in the Muslim world mostly didn't do it with friendly and democratic persuasion. Under the approving eyes of the West, they did it forcibly, with secret police, torture, discriminatory laws, kangaroo courts and especially in Iran sponsored by Britain and the US, with bullets fired into crowds of often nonviolent protestors. In addition to needed reforms like curtailing shariah law, Turkey's Mufasta Kemal Atatürk, the Pahlevis in Iran and Egypt's Gamel Adbul Nasser each locked up thousands of religious opponents, and purged them from the civil service and political life.

This ain't exactly how you train people to engage in a friendly, respectful and civil discussion of religious and political differences. It IS how you make lasting enemies, every suspicious and vengeful, alert for the next slight or insult. But this is the real and relevant history Americans have trained themselves not to know.

Add to this the wave of armed US and European interventions in Muslim lands, our puppet governments, our occupations, torture campaigns and drone strikes, and factor in that even while cruise missile liberals like Bill Maher and US presidents say we just don't DO religious war, US military personnel “at the tip of the spear” call their enemies “hajis” and police departments in the US and Europe surveil Muslim communities wholesale and incarcerate Muslims disproportionately.

In this context, unlike jokes exposing the foibles of the powerful, which are real satire, Charlie Hebdo, which is now subsidized by the French government is engaged in something much like war propaganda. And Bill Maher is just another cruise missile liberal, a bully.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web each week at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20150121_bd_on_provoking_muslims.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12 PM

Selma: Black History According to Oprah

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Oprah insults Black SNCC civil rights heroes, but she protects the white, rich Kennedys.”

Like all historical dramatic films, Selma is a political work, reflecting the political views of the producers. Oprah Winfrey is one of those producers, in addition to playing one of the characters in this version of the Selma story. Her handwriting – that is, her conservative Black political worldview – is all over the film, which demands and deserves a political response.

For the purposes of this brief radio commentary, I’m only going to register three complaints.

Number One: the film is a crude insult to SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee workers who, along with a small minority of Black preachers like Dr. Martin Luther King, comprised the infrastructure of the civil rights movement in the Deep South. These hundreds of heroic young people, who had been organizing communities in Mississippi and Georgia and, yes, Lowndes County, Alabama for years, and who invited Dr. King to come to Selma, are personified in the film by one confused sounding, infantile behaving youth who we are supposed to believe is James Forman, the SNCC executive secretary who was, in real life, a Korean War veteran and former teacher and ground-breaking organizer about the same age as Dr. King. In the film, the James Forman character comes across as petty-minded, while Dr. King is made to seem like the only adult in town. Veterans of SNCC have a right to be hurt at being consigned to the dustbin of history by the likes of Oprah Winfrey. The rest of us should also be angry at having our history treated like a Saturday morning cartoon.

“King was seeking social transformation, a new system of living.”

Some people are missing from the film that absolutely should be in there. No, I’m not talking about Stokely Carmichael, although yes, he is quite relevant to the story. I mean the Kennedy brothers, John and Bobby, who were the ones who authorized the bugging of Dr. King’s phones and office and hotel rooms. But Oprah loves the Kennedys, and so the movie leads the audience to believe that J. Edgar Hoover and President Lyndon Johnson set out to surveil and destroy King because of his push for voting rights. But Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed the order, while his brother, who was then president, was still alive. Oprah insults Black SNCC civil rights heroes, but she protects the white, rich Kennedys.

Finally, near the end of the film, Dr. King is depicted as yearning for an end to mass protests, so that Black people could achieve real political power – quite clearly meaning the election of more Black people to office. As if that’s what the mass movement was all about, in King’s mind. We know that’s not true, because Dr. King said the opposite in countless sermons, speeches, books and essays; that he was seeking social transformation, a new system of living. Three years after Selma, King died, still seeking to revive the mass movement.

For Oprah Winfrey, Dr. King was just an opening act for a future President Obama, and for an age of billionaire Black TV celebrities.

As Prof. Abdul Alkalimat, of the University of Illinois, has written about the film Selma: “If the most militant person in the movie is played by Oprah, you know something is very, very wrong.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150121_gf_OprahSelma.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:51 PM

The Big Reality Show, the 1% and the Myth of the Thin Blue Line

 

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

 

There's a potent and powerful racist and classist myth that tough cops, jailers, judges and prosecutors are all that stand between us and rampant crime, anarchy and ruin. For American politics its an increasingly necessary fantasy, a myth that generations of public officials from jailing judges and hang 'em high prosecutors, to lock 'em up legislators, sheriffs, governors and even presidents have based their careers upon.

 

The myths are necessary because no modern society can openly abandon its duty to provide its people quality educations, decent housing, living wage jobs and economic security, unless it is willing to brand large numbers of those it won't provide education or housing or jobs and a dignified retirement unworthy, undeserving and irredeemable. The American political class of both parties, including black politicians stopped even talking about any rights to full employment, decent housing, economic security and the like decades ago, preferring to pretend that There Is No Alternative.

 

Thus the myths of the triflin' lazy, drug-addled crime-ridden, mostly black and brown poor are essential to the stability of America as we know it. These myths are the ethical and moral justification of the neoliberal economic order and its prison state. Overpolicing and mass incarceration don't just happen because the cops are racist, the prosecutors corrupt, and the legislators and media vicious and cowardly, nor are they driven by the profits of private prisons or captive labor.

 

America's savage police and prison states provide us with a long running reality show that justifies our profoundly unequal and unjust social order. It gives us a morality play that casts the criminalized and mostly nonwhite poor as villains kept at bay by the heroism of that thin blue line, while schools, roads, parks public works, nature and even water are privatized, while private and public pensions are looted, while student loan debt, black unemployment and underemployment continue to rise and wages continue to fall, while child homelessness is at an all time high and there are more vacant homes than homeless people, and while the rich and famous are celebrated and lionized for being famously rich.

 

This is something that politicians from the president down to local mayors and aldermen know, and top cops, from Homeland Security and the FBI to state and local departments know as well. It's something those in motion in the streets today over the last dozen and the next dozen police atrocities need to better understand and articulate. The burgeoning movement against police immunity and impunity really IS a threat to so-called “national security”, a menace to the privileges of banksters and employers, of privatizers and gentrifiers, the prerogatives of the 1%.

 

When more of them openly question these prerogatives in the same breaths as they do the privilege of cops to murder and maim with immunity and impunity, we'll be a long step closer to a better world.

 

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

Direct download: 20140107_bd_thin_blue_line.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59 PM

Once Again, the Empire Rolls the Dice of War

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

 

If the war against Iraq was dumb, the oil price war is the Mother of Dementia.”

 

Twelve years ago, the people who rule the United States wagered the fate of its decaying empire on a lightning military strike into the Middle East, beginning with the rapid conquest of Iraq. From there, the Americans planned to project imperial power deep into energy-rich central Asia, allowing Washington to isolate and strangle China, which was then only a few years away from becoming the world’s largest economy. America’s pivotal ally in the region was Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary regime on the face of the earth and a client state of the U.S. since the end of World War Two.

 

Instead of containing China, the Americans “accelerated the processes of their own ruin,”as I predicted on the very day they invaded Iraq. George Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, called it a “dumb war.” But, in fact, the Iraq War was a calculated act of desperate men, based on the inescapable facts of imperial decline and the logic of class survival. It was a war in which the potential damage to U.S. power and prestige in the world was weighed and measured against the consequences of allowing China to continue its rise, possibly in a future partnership with Russia, creating a new nexus of economic and political collaboration that would draw in Brazil, India, Latin America – and, eventually, even Europe. In other words, U.S. imperialism looked into the near future, and saw its own death. It chose not to die, but to preemptively re-set the global chessboard, knowing full well that failure in Iraq would hasten the pace of imperial decline. George Bush rolled the dice – and lost. But, that’s what any ruling class would do when staring death in the face.

 

Forestalling the Inevitable

 

Barack Obama, who answers to the same masters as Bush, entered office confronting the same scenario as his predecessor – only from an even weaker position. Obama chose to spread chaos through proxy jihadist wars in North Africa and the Middle East – in partnership with Saudi Arabia. But the pace of imperial decline had quickened decisively with the financial meltdown. Chaos is an unreliable weapon, and jihadists are no friends of Wall Street bankers or Saudi royalty. China is the acknowledged economic top dog, with Russia as a partner and the rest of the world reconfiguring itself. Death is still breathing down U.S. imperialism’s neck.

 

And so, Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, rolls the dice of war.

 

His partner, once again, is Saudi Arabia, without which the breathtaking plunge in oil prices could not have occurred. This time around, Washington aims to cripple Russia, before moving against China, by destabilizing the whole world’s energy sector – including U.S. energy production. But, that’s like setting your apartment on fire to get rid of an unwanted roommate. There is no way to calibrate and control such an assault on energy pricing, no possible means of avoiding a cascade of unintended consequences to the world economy. If the war against Iraq was dumb, the oil price war is the Mother of Dementia, and cannot help but further unravel all manner of capitalist structures – including deadly derivatives – throughout the planet.

 

But, doomed systems and declining classes will do anything to forestall the inevitable.

 

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20150107_gf_OilPriceWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:45 PM

Rev. Edward Pinkney Sentenced: Whirlpool and White Racism Imprison Another Black Leader

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

In Benton Harbor, the Whirlpool Corporation was always ‘Massa’ – Rev. Pinkney’s nemesis.”

In sentencing Rev. Edward Pinkney to between two and a half and ten years in prison, the State of Michigan has shown that the Old Jim Crow and the New Jim Crow are the same damn thing – bitter fruit of the white supremacist tree. An all-white jury, presided over by a white judge, under the malevolent guidance of a white prosecutor, based on evidence gathered by a white sheriff, found the Benton Harbor, Michigan, activist guilty of five elections-related felonies. It was the same white power structure that, back in 2007, convinced another all white jury to convict Rev. Pinkney of five counts of elections fraud, resulting in five years probation. A year later, when Pinkney, in a newspaper interview, quoted the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy to the effect that those who had persecuted him would be judged by the hand of God, he was sent to prison – the first American known to have been incarcerated for quoting the Bible.

This may seem like an Old Jim Crow story, about a preacher from a small, mostly Black town who wanted only to help his people through the voting process, but is set upon by backward whites determined to maintain their monopoly on political power. And, it is true; Old Man Jim Crow is alive and well on the banks of Lake Michigan. But it is the New Jim Crow, the Mass Black Incarceration State, that has snatched 66 year-old Rev. Pinkney away to what could become life in prison. The judge and prosecutor said that Pinkney’s 12 past and present felony convictions make him a career criminal, even though each count stems from an elections process. The Old Jim Crow would have unapologetically sent Pinkney to the chain gang for being an uppity Black man, but the New Jim Crow simply piled on a bunch of felonies to put him away as a serial criminal, allowing the system to claim that race had nothing to do with it.

The corporate rulers have Black allies.”

Rev. Pinkney’s life stretches between the old and new structures of Black oppression, one layered on top of the other. But, in Benton Harbor, the Whirlpool Corporation was always ‘Massa’ – Rev. Pinkney’s nemesis. His convictions in 2007 and this year were both rooted in election petitions Pinkney circulated to recall officials considered stooges of Whirlpool, whose world headquarters is located in Benton Harbor, and which has tried to turn the desperately poor, 94 percent Black town into an enclave of luxury and recreation for the rich.

The citizens of Benton Harbor and every other Black city and town in Michigan were effectively disenfranchised, so that appointed emergency financial managers could protect the interests of Whirlpool and the rest of the corporate class. But still, Rev. Pinkney kept circulating those recall petitions that ultimately led to his imprisonment.

Pinkney was once president of the local NAACP chapter, but was ousted when Whirlpool bought off the organization’s state leadership. In the New Jim Crow configuration, the corporate rulers have Black allies – the same ones that collaborate with the police and the mass Black incarceration regime. Their hold on Black America must also be broken, as part of the struggle to destroy white corporate rule – root and branch – and to free all political prisoners, including Rev. Edward Pinkney.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and be sure to sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20141217_gf_PinkneySentenced.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:03 PM

When the System Provides No Remedies to Torture, You Must Overthrow It

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Remedies are precisely what the United States refuses to offer to Black people.”

Over the past four months, the world has come to know the name of Ferguson and rendered its own verdict on the U.S. criminal justice system. In addition to protests in nearly two hundred American cities since the non-indictment of the cop that killed Michael Brown, demonstrations were staged in solidarity with U.S. Blacks in at least eight cities in Canada as well as Japan, England, Scotland and Norway. Last week, a United Nations committee registered its objections to U.S. treatment of Blacks. The UN Committee Against Torture’s latest report largely focused on the Obama administration’s failure to punish the torture of detainees in places like Guantanamo Bay and CIA interrogation sites around the world, but it also warned Washington that its policing policies in Black America are not in compliance with international treaties against torture.

The committee’s findings are a great embarrassment to the planet’s sole superpower, which justifies its military adventures around the world by virtue of its claims to moral exceptionalism. Based on two days of testimony by U.S. human rights activists, last month, in Geneva, Switzerland, the committee concluded that solitary confinement, as practiced in the United States, constitutes torture, that some conditions in U.S. prisons also fit the definition of torture, and that when police target African Americans on the street for abuse, beatings, tasering and death by gunfire, they are guilty of torture.

Moreover, if the United States does not provide remedies and compensation for the victims of torture at the hands of its cops and prison guards, then the nation is in violation of its international treaty obligations – which is legally the same thing as violating U.S. law. Not only does the U.S. fail to provide either remedies or compensation for those it tortures, U.S. law does not even define what torture is, or set any standard to measure it. Which shows conclusively that no American government has ever seriously considered doing away with torture – certainly, not torture of Black people.

“Root and Branch”

The UN Committee was clearly quite impressed with the delegation of young activists from Chicago who testified under the banner, We Charge Genocide. The Committee included much of the group’s requests in its report, including investigation of police torture by outside institutions, prosecution of police who torture, and reparations for those who survive police torture in Chicago.

The UN Committee is most concerned that countries establish remedies to torture, in all its deadly forms. But remedies are precisely what the United States refuses to offer to Black people. No punishment for the cops, no compensation for their millions of victims, and no fundamental change in a system born in slavery and genocide. Under those circumstances, there is only one remedy: the overthrow of the system, itself, and the destruction – root and branch – of the Mass Black Incarceration State, which must be the goal of this new movement-in-the-making that still has no name, other than “Ferguson.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20142103_gf_TortureUN.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48 PM

Bottomless Cynicism and Contempt For Immigrant Communities: Obama's Long-Awaited “Executive Action” on Immigration

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Back when President Obama was candidate Obama, he promised the immigrant community, in his own words “a road to citizenship”. But although he swept into office with majorities in both houses of the 111th Congress, the new president and his party ignored this and many more of their promises to what the Democratic party likes to call its “base voters,” the poor and working poor, the black, the brown, the young, the old, promises on the minimum wage, promises to make it easier for workers to unionize, promises to end the war on drugs, to rein in banksters and oil companies, promises to relieve underwater homeowners, to curtailing nuclear weapons and much more.

Instead of delivering his promised “road to citizenship” the president immediately began using his executive powers to do the precise opposite of what he promised, deporting 2 million immigrants, on the flimsiest of pretexts, shattering hundreds of thousands of families.

After two years of not delivering, the president and his party lost their majority in the House. That time, not this one, was the moment for executive action on immigration, preceded by a profound presidential apology for not doing what the president is asking Republicans to do now, namely passing an immigration bill.

It's a measure of the abject subservience of Latino Democrats that they dare not call the president on his current “executive action” on immigration.

But the fact is, President Obama's announced action is a naked attempt to disarm the immigrant movement by arbitrarily dividing communities into legitimate and illegitimate immigrants. It will defer deportation of up to roughly a third of the undocumented, the parents of US citizens, provided they pass background checks and have lived here 5 years already. And being an executive action instead of the legislation the president and his party could have passed in 2009-2010 when they had the majority, it's open to interference by the Congress and totally contingent on the election of another Democrat to the White House in 2016, because after all with only the two capitalist parties, where can immigrants go?

The president's so-called “bold executive action” does nothing to address the US 40 Years War war on drugs, which continues to sprout anonymous mass graves throughout Mexico and Central America. It even contains provisions which will make it easier for employers to recruit hi-tech temps from overseas and deport them when their jobs are over, forcing US hi-tech workers to compete with them in a race for the bottom.

The president's lauded executive action on immigration then, is not a victory for immigrant communities, it's not a concession which their movement has wrung from the powers that be. It's old bone with rotten meat flung to immigrant communities, an expression of the bottomless cynicism and contempt the Democratic president and his party, have for Democratic voters and their communities.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or directly via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20141126_bd_immigration_exec_action.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12 PM

War on the Down-Low: Obama’s Afghan Lies

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“President Obama never had any intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan.”

It should come as no surprise that President Obama has secretly extended the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan. Empires do not retreat unless they are defeated. This is especially true of U.S. imperialism, which, like no other empire in history, seeks to bring the entire planet under its control. That’s why the United States maintains 900 military bases in 130 countries. It’s why Washington is methodically subverting international law, which it views as an impediment to its goal of global domination. And, that’s why President Obama never had any intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan, the longest war in American history.

Barack Obama is no different than any other U.S. imperial leader – except that he is a more accomplished liar than most. He spoke with forked tongue back in May, when he promised that, after the end of this year, U.S. troops would have no combat role in Afghanistan, aside from hunting down the all but nonexistent forces of Al Qaida in that country and training Afghan government forces. Actually, all Obama really planned to do was a paper-change, reclassifying the 10,000 U.S. troops as “non-combatants” on paper, while continuing to deploy them against the Taliban. He tried to play the same trick in Iraq, but the Iraqis insisted that he pack up all his soldiers and go home, in 2011, as President George Bush had previously agreed.

Obama was determined to stay in Afghanistan, by hook or crook, until at least the year 2024. It was, after all, very much his personal war. In his presidential campaign, Obama characterized Afghanistan as the “right” war – as opposed to the “dumb” war in Iraq. He dramatically increased drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and “surged” 30,000 new troops into battle. He never planned an exit, but was compelled to pretend otherwise in the face of mounting public opposition to the war. If Obama had remained true to his word, at the end of this year U.S. troops would find themselves on the sidelines of the war against the Taliban, and watching America’s NATO allies booking flights back to Europe.

The Would-Be Eternal Empire

Rather than accept a phasing out of the U.S. role in the war, which is a kind of defeat, Obama turned the actual defeat of Iraqi forces at the hands of the Islamic State into an excuse to re-enter Iraq and to renege on the phase-out of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Islamic jihadists’ victories in Iraq and Syria, hundreds of miles away, provided the excuse for Obama to reboot the U.S. air and land war in Afghanistan. However, it was still necessary to keep the news from the American public until after the November elections.

Obama can now probably coast to the end of his term with a full combat role in Afghanistan, with confidence that his successor will also fight tooth and nail to keep that hopeless war going. Obama is also determined to continue waging a shadow war against Syria, despite the fact that his proxy Free Syrian Army is all but non-existent. Retreat is tantamount to defeat and, since war is all that U.S. imperialism is good at, defeat – even in a far-off place – can mean the end of the empire.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com. And, while you’re there, sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20141126_gf_AfghanWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27 PM

If “The Economy is Recovering” Why Is There a Surge in Homeless Children?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

For the last three elections now, 2010, 2012 and 2015, corporate media and corporate politicians have ceaselessly assured us that “the economy” whatever that is, is “back on track”, wherever that is.

Despite what corporate media and politicians tell us, the positive indicators of soaring stock market valuations, rising real estate prices and the rigged unemployment figures that don't count the jailed, the recently released from jails and prisons, and those who've given up on finding work or those working part time who desperately want full time hours real life for most real people hasn't got any better since 2008 or 2009.

Last week an extraordinary and shameful study emerged from the National Center on Family Homelessness confirmed it by demonstrating that almost 2.5 million children in the US were homeless at some point during 2013. That's one child in every thirty, in what we're accustomed to thinking of as the richest nation on earth. In the most recent months for which statistics exist, the rate of homelessness among children is spiking, increased 8% nationally from 2012 to 2013, and by 10% or more in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In 2006 one in 50 children were homeless. In 2010 it was one in 45. Now, in the age of Obama, the 2013 number is 1 in 30.

The causes of homelessness among children are not your comforting stereotypes of drug use and mental illness. These are “comforting” because they encourage us to blame the drug-addicted, and pity the mentally ill, and our comfort keeps us from questioning the capitalist system which declares that we must have poverty in the midst of plenty, or wondering why we ourselves are no more than a month or two from homelessness.

America's shameful surge in homeless children is caused by the fact that wages are NOT rising, low income housing is NOT being built, and the stock of available housing is being demolished or cannibalized by gentrifying speculators. Speculators can't make money off stable neighborhoods, so the poorest have to leave wherever they are to make room for something else.

In California, the nation's most populous state 34% of households are paying more than half their annual income for rent, and while the state's minimum wage is $8 an hour, a 2 bedroom apartment at a third of annual income would require tripling the minimum wage to $25.78 an hour. The issue then, is poverty.

Millions of children are not suffering because their parents have suddenly become addicted, or neglectful or lazy or stupid. Their parents, many of whom are working as hard as they can, are simply not able to afford a roof over their heads. This is just capitalism. It may be a scandal, but it's no surprise.

This happens to be just the way that “the economy” works when it's “back on track.” It's time to tear up those tracks.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20141119_bd_homelessness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43 PM