Wednesday, September 26, 2007



By Kevin Stoda

In one of the more fascinating discussions of recent times (and while the world was ‎distracted by the President of Iran's visit to New York City that same day) took place ‎on Monday morning with the help of Democracy Now and the presence of Naomi ‎Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, and Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal ‎Reserve Bank in the USA. ‎

Greenspan actually looked quite weak for much of the interview even as he stood his ‎ground in promoting a Milton-Friedman-style of economic policy in the USA for the ‎last two decades. ‎

Naomi Klein took him to task for promoting a series of policies in America that he ‎admitted worked well in Chile under Pinochet's dictatorship. At the same time, ‎Greenspan refused to take off the table his inclination to claim as permissible the right ‎of one state, such as the USA, to take over the reserves of oil and mineral wealth of ‎sovereign states in order to keep stable worldwide market mechanisms. Unlike Klein, ‎Greenspan feels that in this day and age a pre-emptive strike as discussed in the Cold-‎War era is a permissible doctrine. (However, he did seem to believe this topic should ‎be debated more robustly and democratically in America and elsewhere.)‎

Moreover, Greenspan never once called into question the spending and misspending ‎of the U.S. government on the Iraq invasion, the Allied Occupation with mostly USA ‎funding, and the continuing defense buildup in Iraq (possibly in order to invade Iran ‎later this year or the next).‎


On the other hand, at the end of the interview and discussion with Amy Goodman ‎‎(moderator) and Naomi Klein, Greenspan seemed to encourage Americans—if they ‎really feel that their government is being wrongly and improperly led (and against ‎basic universal principles) to take back the power that has been so badly abused by ‎recent leadership.‎

Specifically, Greenspan stated,"[O]bviously, I’m not going to deny that there’s all ‎sorts of corruption…which goes on in every country. The problem, essentially, for a ‎democratic society is to maintain the civil liberties of the society and suppress that. ‎Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. ‎It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What ‎successful economies do is keep it to a minimum."‎

In short, as the evidence continues to unfold in America and in Iraq that the a bunch ‎of cronies supporting the U.S. administration of Bush and Cheney are bleeding ‎American taxpayers dry through foibles and corruption, a real democrats job would ‎be certainly to "suppress" those in charge. The corollary of what Greenspan stated is ‎that it is the responsibility of every democrat to oversee that an economy remains ‎successful by keeping the worst of human malfunctions, corruption, tendencies ‎towards abuse, and criminal acts in that economic system to a minimum.‎

Klein and Goodman cited several famous and award winning articles (e.g. by Pulitzer ‎Prize winners) of findings and research indicating that the federal reserve and U.S. ‎government has overseen losses of tens of billions of dollars in Iraq since 2003. ‎

Klein and Goodman also noted many instances of contractual abuses and examples of ‎what Greenspan would likely agree are examples of the worst sort of "crony ‎capitalism", including those contracts dealing with the private mercenary firms, like ‎Blackwater, and construction and management firms to the war devastated region.‎


Nonetheless, despite the fact that he himself was hoodwinked into supporting the ‎invasion of Iraq in 2003, i.e. Greenspan had believed the many innuendos that Iraq ‎had a weapon of mass destruction, Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan ‎Greenspan refused to admit that the whole (or even part of the) invasion of Iraq was ‎an error or that the war was bad for the U.S. economy—and needed to be brought ‎under control.‎

Greenspan simply tried to dance around calling a spade a spade on several occasions ‎when he had opportunity during this interview. This was not unlike the many press ‎conferences and hearings he provided back in 2001 and 2002 before the house and ‎senate—when he should have been clearly warning the administration that their facts ‎and assumptions were wrong. ‎

Similarly, Greenspan did not apologize to viewers for supporting the boondoggle of ‎spending cuts and tax cuts in 2001 for which he had been very complicit. These cuts ‎and spending disasters under Greenspan's watch and carried with his overt support ‎started early in 2001 have since decimated the prior 8 years of fiscal responsibility ‎‎(seen between 1992 and 2000). The misdirection of the federal reserve at the ‎beginning of the W. Bush Administration set the tone of Cheney or Reagan-type ‎economics that has also left many aspects of the American economy open to ‎takeovers from abroad as the value of the dollar has fallen considerably. (This was ‎not unlike what occurred between 1984 and 1992, the last time the Reagan-style ‎economic mismanagement led to recession.) ‎

Moreover, the housing market is now in its worst state since the Great Depression. ‎

All these denials of bad policy and practices (within reach of the so-called "maestro's" ‎sphere of influence over the U.S. and global economics) made Greenspan look at ‎times particularly weak during that lengthy interview. ‎

As a matter of fact,. Greenspan appeared so much under attack at times--by the facts ‎and allegations brought to him by Klein and Goodman--that I was amazed that ‎Greenspan didn't walk away from the telephone in embarrassment and say good-bye-- ‎as many of the right-wing pro-Milton Friedman-economic shock therapy types (and ‎are given too much air-time on Fox News) have done in similar embarrassing ‎situations.‎

As mentioned above, Greenspan partially redeemed his weak presentation of his ‎economic policies (in recent years) by indicating that reform is needed when cronyism ‎is too high in America or elsewhere in the political economic scheme of things. ‎

Greenspan, interestingly, also noted that he wanted to see a lot more immigration to ‎the United States of skilled personnel from around the world. As a libertarian, ‎Greenspan feels that a good market economy to be successful should not close off its ‎borders to be successful. (He is not happy with educational standards at the ‎secondary level in the USA and doesn't feel, as a whole, that the performance of ‎children at these levels helps the American sufficiently at this junction in history.)‎

However, when properly challenged by Naomi Klein that (a) the underdevelopment of ‎education etc. in America and (b) the increasing difference between the wealthiest ‎and poorest in American society are the results of 20 years of misguided libertarian ‎shock therapy on the American economy, Mr. Greenspan failed time-and-again to give ‎a robust response—pretending that Ms. Klein's view was not the growing opinion of ‎many peoples in North and South America these days.‎

Amy Goodman indicated that she hope that this debate could be continued in the near ‎future. I hope it is continued, too. ‎

We need such a debate in America—in every single corner of society--to move on ‎past the early Reagan-era 1980s myths and views of economics which have strangely ‎continued to dominate American media all the way up to 2007.‎


‎"Alan Greenspan vs. Naomi Klein on the Iraq War, Bush's Tax Cuts, ‎Economic Populism, Crony Capitalism and More", ‎‎


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Project on Government Oversight (POGO). Browse there web site and see what they offer

POGO—The Project on Government Oversight Needs More Support and Awareness—as do federal whistle-blowers

By Kevin Stoda in Kuwait

Recently, I was happy to see during my visit to the United States Embassy here in Kuwait a sign encouraging employees there (and people visiting the public services section) to whistle-blow if and when they need to.

The poster indicated that there were certain rights one had to blow the whistle on corruption and other bureaucratic malfeasance on-site. This is very appropriate because annually the U.S. Embassy tries to promote a decrease in corrupt practices here in the Middle East by shining its light on a variety of shenanigans and illegal mistreatment of companies and individuals by employers, local government officials, and various businesses in the region.

As a concerned American, one great organization to look into and support is the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). Browse their web site and see what they offer:

For example, in recent days, the website has noted that a great U.S. Senate bill has been introduced. This bill calls for a WWII-era Truman-type oversight of businesses in war-time be carried out by Congress and Senate.


Recall that during WWII a little-known politician named “Harry S. Truman, then a U.S. Senator, launched a special committee to investigate fraud and waste in WWII contracts. While today's lawmakers have held only a handful of hearings on Iraq war contracts, the Truman Committee held 432 hearings with 1,798 witnesses and issued 51 reports between 1941 and 1948. The Truman Committee saved taxpayers some $15 billion (in 1940s dollars) and prevented hundreds, if not thousands of deaths by uncovering faulty military equipment. For example, the Committee revealed that the military helped aerospace firm Curtiss-Wright cover up defects in airplane motors it sold to the Air Force.”

Finally, on September 21, 2007 a pair of young senators from Missouri and Virginia have presented a bill with over 25 supporters calling for far greater oversight investigating war-time contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

See Senators Webb and McCaskill’s bill at:

I don’t know why it has taken so many years for such an oversight to begin, but we Americans need to ensure that some two hundred hearings are held annually and get back every last penny of the billions boondoggled out of U.S. taxpayers over the past decade or so.

The wonderful Project on Government Oversight (POGO) website has also, for example, been investigating a variety of questionable companies and their practices. On POGO’s website we see listed contractgors involved in scams and scandalous behavior on government contracts—all documented since 1995. POGO calls it the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database of , and there is more than Halliburton on the list.

There are some 50 companies listed on that data, including top leaders in government military- and oil contracts. All 50 had shown misconducts dealing with government contracts during the first 10 years of research.

At the top of the list so far are 5 companies (ahead of Halliburton) in overall federal contracting with instances of misconduct :

(1) Lockheed Martin
(2) Boeing Company
(3) Northrup Grumman
(4) General Dynamics
(5) Raytheon

Between 1995 and 2005, these particular five leaders in government contracting had already demonstrated misconduct costing the U.S. government nearly 2.7 billion dollars.

Worse still, oil giant Exxon-Mobile (by itself) had over 4 billion worth of misconduct related to federal contracts in the same period. Misconduct includes improper book keeping, non-deliveries charged, etc.

Several non-oil companies, such as McKesson and Boeing as individual firms, also had almost a billion dollars in misconduct instances in the 1995-2005 period.


Sadly, currently it is very dangerous to whistle blow, especially if one is a government bureaucrat.

POGO warns:

“Whistleblowing is often not easy. Exposed whistleblowers are almost always reprimanded, fired, and/or harassed, even if they have not "gone public" and even if their allegations are proven to be true. It takes a lot of courage and forethought to take on a powerful government agency or a private contractor. The mental, emotional, and fiscal hardships that a whistleblower may encounter should be fully understood before any steps are taken to disseminate information - publicly or not. In recent years, protections for federal employees have been unraveled by hostile judicial rulings. As a result, federal employees have little protections against retaliation.”

POGO recommends a variety of procedures to protect whistle blowers. I think the news media needs to shine the light more on these scandals and persecution of past whistle-blowers.

Note: Too bad, most of cannot even get jobs in the federal government because of the fear that we will whistle blow.


“Cracking Down on War Profiteering”

Saturday, September 22, 2007



By Kevin A. Stoda

Since 10,000 Burmese monks made the Voice of America Radio news, I thought I would enquire how many readers know of Burma and the people’s suffering and struggle there.???

Too few Americans can find Burma on the world map. This is partially because a military regime, called SLORC, changed the name of this ancient land a few years ago.

Burma is still located between India and Thailand and has been economically and socially stagnant under the extended elite regime’s leadership of the past 5 decades. Most “people in the know” and “lovers of Burma” refuse to call the country Myanmar in support of the many indigenous peoples and monks who have bravely fought SLORC and its supporter, but they have been put down many times. All around the border of the country of Burma are dozens of refugee camps—some 4 or more decades old.

I visited one of the camps on the border near Mae Sot, Thailand a decade ago. I met very wonderful Burmese—Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Chin, Shan, Mon and others—many more have been forced to live in jails, enslavement, or live abroad in exile over a very long period of time. They are fantastic people. I was even blessed to donate money and medicines to the humble yet famous Dr. Cynthia’s Clinic.

It was an honor to meet Dr. Cynthia for a few minutes in 1994. Read her tale in a review of Journey of the Heart:

In the early and mid-1990s, there were regular reports that whole Burmese villages or--in some cases—only healthy youths—were being forced at gunpoint to carry out lengthy duties and build roads for the SLORC soldiers. U.S. companies, like Unical and Chevron Oil , have continued to be allied with the SLORC regime as have several European and Asian firms.

These companies are still there despite the fact that an executive order was issued in 1997 banning U.S. firm involvement in Burma/Myanmar.


One of the more famous individuals from Burma is Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been imprisoned by the SLORC government in Burma for most of the past two decades. Suu Kyi led a successful & peaceful election campaign to oust the military dictators in 1990, but the elections were thrown out by the military junta.

As is occurring in Burma today in 2007, many Burmese Buddhist monks in 1990 had begun to protest the government’s behavior by refusing to accept alms from the military personnel of the land. The government repressed even the monks at that point.

Meanwhile in 1991, the world community called on the Noble Prize Committee to select Aung San Suu Kyi as Peace Prize winner. This, in fact, did occur.

[Get to know Suu Kyi by checking out one of the websites on her below in the NOTES section of this writing.]


For the fifth day in a row monks in the capital of Rangoon, thousands of orange-dressed monks have been marching and demanding respect from the national government and military in Myanmar/Burma.

Why is this marching happening now in Burma?

In short, “[T]he protest movement began Aug. 19 after the government raised fuel prices, but has its basis in long pent-up dissatisfaction with the repressive military regime. Using arrests and intimidation, the government had managed to keep demonstrations limited in size and impact, but they gained new life when the monks joined.”

This week, Aung San Suu Kyi was able to wave at the 10,000 monks who marched by her home, where she has been under house arrest for far too long.
According to an Australian reporter, “The monks also strike a strong chord of public sympathy by gathering at the Shwedagon [pagoda], which is not only a religious centre but also a historical focal point for social and political protests. Student strikers against British colonial rule gathered there in the 1920s and 30s, and the country's independence hero, Gen. Aung San, took up the same cause there in a famous 1946 speech.”
General Aung San is Aung San Suu Kyi’s own parent. Suu Kyi had grown up in a semi-exile abroad and had been married in the UK, but she had returned to her homeland just prior to the 1988 uprising in order to take care of her aged mother.
The Australian press adds that “to many people, the pagoda [Shwedagon] is best remembered as the site of a vast Aug. 26, 1988, rally where Aung San's daughter Aung San Suu Kyi, took up leadership of a pro-democracy movement. The 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations were crushed by the military, and Suu Kyi has spent 11 of the past 18 years in detention.”
This is a sobering moment for the Burmese. Many are happy and supportive of the Monks current stand on their behalf. However, in 1988 and again in 1990 similar protests were put down by the SLORC regime and its predecessors.
Besides prayer, what can one do?
I’d suggest that interested parties go first to Burma support organizations, like at the Burma Guide address: See what various groups things can be or should be done.
Second, contact the more-than-a-dozen senators on the Senate Relations Committees, like Sen. Biden or Sen. Lugar. Let them know that you want freedom and justice to be what the U.S. is seen as as supporting abroad in 2007 . Try this link for help in contacting these senators:
Third, continue to push for the U.S. to back up prior executive orders and prior congressional demands that U.S. firms stay out of Burma.
Chevron bought Unical some time ago and has become the largest foreign investor in Burma. Surely, Chevron should be expected to do what justice and freedom demand, too. Let Bush and Congress know that Americans are concerned and watching whether Chevron will continue to be blatantly ignore the executive branch to thwarting the laws of the land.
For example, the following is what has been reported by Marco Simons in Thomas Paine reported on the horrors that Unical/Chevron have been up to with their SLORC buddies over the past days and years:
“When refugees who had suffered rape, torture, enslavement, and murder at the hands of soldiers protecting the Yadana pipeline sued Unocal in U.S. court, the Bush administration intervened to try to convince the courts that the lawsuit should not proceed. The administration essentially argued that, even if the case would not actually interfere with U.S. relations with Burma, holding Unocal liable would create a precedent that could conflict with U.S. foreign policy in other parts of the world. (The lawsuit, Doe v. Unocal Corp., was ultimately resolved before the courts considered the administration's position, with Unocal compensating the victims in a historic settlement—see If the Bush administration opposes accountability for human rights violations committed by the oil and gas industry in a pariah state such as Burma, the situation is even worse when oil companies commit abuses in countries friendly to the United States. In the troubled Indonesian region of Aceh, security forces hired by ExxonMobil have committed rape, murder and torture against local villagers. When the victims filed suit in federal court against the oil giant for compensation, the Bush administration sent a letter to the court stating that the case could cause a ‘serious adverse impact’ on ‘the ongoing struggle against international terrorism.’ The judge subsequently dismissed parts of the case.”
In short, the struggle for the Burmese people is related to the struggle for- and with Big Oil dependence.
We are all part of this struggle. Find time to do something.
Finally, get your peace- and other community organizations supportive and provide teach-ins on the multi-ethnic and long suffering peoples of Burma.
P.S. SLORC leadership, by the way, have recently signed a contract with Russia to build a Nuclear power plant—a la Iran? Or North Korea?


1991 Nobel Piece prize Winner, Aung San Suu Kyi”

“10,000 Monks Protest in Burma”,

“A Land of War: A Journey of the Heart”,

Burma Guide to Rights and Democracy”,

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”,

“Over 1500 Monks Protest in Burma”,

Russia to Build Nuclear Reactor in Burma,,,12215_cid_2516959,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

Simons, Marco, “Big Oil Trumps Freedom”,


Thursday, September 20, 2007

“NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT”—A Useful Website to See How Taxes are Misspent and Priorities are Lost in America—but some Underestimates of Total Costs

“NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT”—A Useful Website to See How Taxes are Misspent and Priorities are Lost in America—but some Underestimates of Total Costs of War in Iraq are Evident

By Kevin Stoda


I have spent these past few day reviewing the talking-point pages and fact sheets on the NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT (NPP). It is a very informative site for anyone concerned with the political-economic mess our leaders have landed Americans in.

NPP effectively provides data and evidence for citizens and youth concerned about the unfair burdens placed on many peoples and regions of this great land. The recent NPP data, combined with the Naomi Klein narration in the The Shock Doctrine, show that in too many ways the development of the U.S. economy in recent years parallels that used by fascist states, such as Pinochet’s Chile and Nazi Germany, to develop their political economies.

Hopefully, every nation on earth will one day have similar access to their own government’s misspending, so they can rightfully call for an end to the wars breaking out in too many corners of the globe currently.

Each fact sheet (dated August 2007) from NPP in this section
is aimed at congressional districts throughout the United States and notes:

--how much each individual state and each individual congressional district has been losing out from the federal budget since 2003 due to the Iraq War alone.

--how, in the lead up to the Iraq War, it was claimed by the executive branch and its accounting divisions that the total cost would only be at most $50 to 60 billion.

“Even the [2007 budget for the Iraq War’s current] half a trillion dollar price tag does not begin to cover future costs…. Since the war is deficit-financed, interest payments alone could rise to one hundred billion dollars. Spending on veteran’s health care and disability payments for the many severely wounded soldiers could also mount to hundreds of billions of dollars.”

According to the national report by NPP, by August 2007 at least $456 billion has been taken away at the national level from local communities and states. With current government discretionary spending on defense and the Iraq War reaching (officially) 60% of all such spending annually (regardless as to whether congress does to try and stop the war or not this September), costs to American regions and individual American citizens will continue to double or triple in a few short years.

One reason this will be the case is explained by NPP and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who note, “Apart from the tens of thousands of reported U.S. casualties, nearly one in five returning veterans suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.”

While over 4,000 American and Allied force soldiers have already died since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the predominant perception in the Iraq and the Middle East (and in most arenas in the USA) continues to be that “the U.S. military presence is provoking more conflict than preventing” it.

Nonetheless, after I reviewed the NPP figures in various well-document reports, I have the impression that the overall impression, NPP figures and costs are too conservative and make little cognizance of multiplier effects on the local and national economy.

This is why economic leaders and decision makers, like Alan Greenspan, should have bravely spoken out long ago against the hemorrhage facing Americans (and the economy) in this decade and have warned daily against the future American political economy due to the horrible fiscal behavior of the past 7 years and due to the war-making addiction of the current and past administrations in Washington, D.C..

Before delving into the shortfalls in NPP’s model of accounting, I will look at the 5 U.S. states where I have lived over the past 4 decades and use these close-ups of the political economy to show a peek at how NPP’s talking points and common arguments are developed and presented to legislature and concerned citizens.

The objective of my looking specifically at one region of U.S. states making up 1/6 of the American economy (i.e. looking at these states—Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas) is two-fold:

(1) to further personalize the narration represented by NPP’s research and talking points, and

(2) to look at the Iraq (and partially the Afghan) War in terms of its effect on regionalized political economies.

America is after all a federal nation with different regions holding different perspectives and experiences. Regional economic linkages are too often ignored by focusing only at state level politics.


I, like most Americans, have lived in more than one U.S. state.

In fact, I was born in northern Illinois in Dekalb County, which gave its name to the corn industry long ago. Later, while still a child, my dad moved from his native state, Illinois, to that of my mother’s birthplace: Missouri.

By the time, I had graduated from high school & had completed my undergraduate degree and first M.A., I had lived, studied, and worked in both Oklahoma and Kansas.

Finally, a decade later, I moved to Texas where I taught and also earned a second master’s degrees.

Unlike eastern U.S. states these five states--Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas—are not connected nor typically divided historically simply by bodies of water or by clear geographic distinctions.

For several centuries, these 5 states have been connected simply by a corridor of roadways and trade routes—moving from Mexico towards Canada and Michigan. Specifically, more goods follow the transport network of roads on and around the Interstate 35 and 70 Highways (including Old Highway 66 and modern I-44 in this region) than any other roadway corridor in the North America.

These two roads, I-35 and I-70, serve for the North America politically, economically and socially what the spice route in Asia once did.

Likewise, this corridor on the plains and prairies serve of the Midwest what the Nile River delta did for ancient Egypt or what the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers did for Mesopotamia.

As far as the defense of the USA is concerned , communities along these two roadway systems have served the USA for generations. From Ft. Riley in Kansas to Ft. Hood in Texas (or from Ft. Sills in Oklahoma to the Great Lakes’ Naval Base), my uncles, my aunts, my cousins, my brother, brother-in-law, and various other friends or relatives from this 5-state region have served in the U.S. armed forces in forts or bases in these same states.

Moreover, I have also taught in several towns in these states where many parents and some students were serving in the National Guard when called up for war over the years.

These towns include Wichita Falls, Texas (Fr. Sheppard Air Force Base) and Great Bend, Kansas (National Guard) . In College Station, Texas I even taught Korean students who had come to join the renowned Texas A & M ROTC as cadets. (Only West Point has seen more generals pass through its university gates and training program than Texas A & M has.) In short, when one works in these 5 states, one observes a linkage between civilian and military life everywhere.

According to the NPP reports from August 2007, the Iraq War has directly cost these five states the following billions of dollars in terms of federal funding--funding which could have been used in other ways:

Tax Payer Cost State

$24.7 Billion Illinois
$3.6 Billion Kansas
$6.9 Billion Oklahoma
$7 Billion Missouri
$37.3 Billion Texas
$79 .5 Billion Total for these 5 states

In short, if one looks at this total of nearly 80 billion dollars in federal funding for budget items--other than funding the Iraq-War--, these 5 states took upon themselves over 1/7th of burden of the $456 billion total losses in discretionary and other budget non-discretionary spending related to the ongoing war and occupation of Iraq as reported by NPP.

This may seem fair at first because these states as a group represent a great portion of U.S. citizen residents: 1/6th of the total U.S. census. However, here is where NPP’s talking points are especially helpful. NPP shows which U.S. Congressional Districts in which states are bigger losers. For example, in Kansas’ Congressional District #3, under U.S. Representative Moore, $1.12 billion has been lost. Meanwhile, in Kansas’ Congressional District #1 has lost only $761.4 million—almost 25% less.


With each state losing billions of dollars, there should be little wonder that the infrastructure on I-35 and other roadways and bridges around the region are in such horrid state!

On top of the under-funding for U.S. infrastructure since the 1980s, the Iraq War has served as a shock-factor weakening significantly further our local government’s ability to oversee maintenance of basic needs that our societies have been depending on historically—like public libraries or public transportation.

Using Naomi Klein’s analysis, called the “Shock Doctrine”, in looking at the apparent federal government’s turning its back towards the ever-growing man-made disaster in New Orleans since 2005, the Iraq War is continuing actively as a “shock policy” in most all regions of the U.S.

Politically and economically speaking, this economic shock is simply called run of the mill capitalism by the U.S. press today. However, it is actually a new form of capitalism done-to-regions by the federal government in support the Chicago School of Economics’ vision of transforming once-upon-a-time Keynesian political economies—as were once present throughout the U.S. after WWII—into fascist inspired forms of capitalism, which have become too-dominant on the U.S. political landscape.

Moreover, using the talking points of NPP’s website in state of Kansas, the $3.6 billion shortfall due to the Iraq War could have provided any of the following:

(1) the insuring of full health care coverage for over 500,000 children,
(2) the building of well over 400 new elementary schools, or
(3) the creation of nearly 45,000 affordable housing units.

Using the moneys in almost any combination of these 3 ways [above] could have had greater positive impact and a better multiplier effect throughout the region than has the war-bound defense spending of this Iraq War, the war on Afghanistan, or the unending-war-on terror.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma, with a very similar population to Kansas, has lost 1.8 times as much funding per capita from the federal pouch s Kansas: (1) about 1 million children could have been fully insured, (2) nearly 700 elementary schools could have been constructed, or (3) 100,000 affordable housing units could have been built.

Missouri, while less hard hit than Oklahoma by redirected or misdirected federal funding, still might have done the following with its moneys: (1) insured upwards of 630,000 children, (2) built over 800 new elementary schools, or (3) constructed over 72,000 affordable housing units.

Meanwhile, if we look at the two most populated states on this section of the I-35 and I-70 corridor, Illinois and Texas, we see the following. (1) Texas and Illinois together could have insured 5 to 6 million children, (2) from 5 to 6 thousand new elementary schools could have been constructed, or (3) 600,000 affordable housing units could have been built.

Instead, the U.S. has a horrible housing economy largely due to (a) bad government priorities in congress and the executive branch—and (b) the fact that investment banks and lending houses have been looking for ways to make money for the energy boomers, mutual-funders, and others (who have money to put away or invest) by manipulating the market and ignoring protection measures for over a decade.

Instead, the American housing market is in its worst state since the great Depression.

Instead, tens of millions of Americans go around with out insurance.

Instead, America’s schools and roadway infrastructure are crumbling. (Klein points out that charter schools were part of the Chicago school’s approach to developing Chile’s economy under Pinochet. It is the approach used under W. Bush in the U.S. and especially in New Orleans after the Katrina Disaster.)

Certainly, some cynics will note that various tax moneys were returned at the local level to these states by

(1) the expensive and ill-planned endless-war-on-terror industrial contractors contractors and

(2) the energy boom that accompanied the Iraq War.

However, that sort of analysis is a crude (and inhuman or at least undemocratic) way to promote positive and proper priorities in funding America now, in the past, or in the future!

Moreover, since peoples lives are at stake in war and weapons, it won’t do anyone any good to be cynical.

We don’t have the time to slow down as cynics call us to do, and we need to confront the status quo. We need to use analysis like NPP provides to swing thinking investors and bankers to shift their local and national levels of priorities.

In summation, if one takes this point of view of simply saying that war, weapons, and high fuel prices are part- and parcel of America’s future in capitalism, I invite them to read Naomi Klein’s recent book, The Shock Doctrine.

Klein responsibly de-links capitalism and democracy.

Her theory and analysis is light-years more accurate and salient than cynics or Bush’s advisers have to offer in terms of how democracies and economies function or don’t function together.


NPP notes that the human costs of the Iraq War have been enormous, and the costs on the home-front in the USA will continue for decades—leading to simultaneous deflation (and marked by spurts of inflation) and recession that America knew so well in the 1970s, i.e. after the Vietnam War-era spending spree.

Recall that following the horrible economy dislocations of the 1970s, America was brought Reaganomics—the first strong sign that Keynesians were kicked out and a quasi-fascist Chicago School ideology had taken over America. It is this ideology which Naomi Klein calls “The Shock Doctrine”.

Meanwhile, since 2003, there are 100s of thousands of Iraqis dead .

There are also currently 2 million internal refugees in Iraq.

As well, there are 2 million refugees—including those injured and maimed—from the Iraq War in other (primarily) neighboring countries.

In the USA, 100s of thousands of family’s (primarily those with family members serving in Iraq or in the military) have lost jobs, incomes, and even homes due to dislocations caused by the militarized economy since 2001.

The mobilizations of National Guard forces are just one facet of this large displacement. Moreover, the entire defense establishment is still short on qualified personnel in many locations—just as the federal government’s foreign affairs offices are short manpower—largely due to the lack good foreign policy, defense, labor, and economic policy leadership in the Land.

Likewise towns, local economies, and regions around military bases—from in Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri to Lackland AF Base in Texas (or from Ft. Riley in Kansas to other bases at the ends of the I-70 & I-35 corridor states) have been damaged, hampered or severely deformed by the extended absence of local peoples and base personnel.

All of this is done in the name of either the War on Terror or supposedly in the name of winning a wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, or Palestine/Levant.

Besides carrying 1/7th of the budgetary load deficit for the Iraq War these five states--Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas--being focused on in this paper have carried very specific human cost burdens:

Human Cost (deaths) State Human Cost (wounded)

130+ Illinois 1,011+
40+ Kansas 344+
58+ Oklahoma 448+
64+ Missouri 634+
331+ Texas 2,582+
___________ __________
623+ Total for these 5 states 4,519+

These 5 states have been suffering 1/6th of the nation’s total official military deaths in Iraq. They also suffer 1/6th of the total official military wounded.

On the one hand, this all may come as no surprise because 1/6th of the U.S. official population lives in these states (or are official American residents of these states).

However, there are 45 other states in the U.S.A., so geographically these 5 states are carrying a “war burden” density, along the I-35 & I-70 roadway corridor, per square mile not experienced by most of the other U.S. states or regions.

Texas is particularly hard-hit along the I-35 corridor, with bases in or near Dallas, Ft. Worth, Killeen and San Antonio taking a brunt of Iraq War deaths and war wounds—i.e. experiencing nearly 40 to 50 % above the national average of wounded or war deaths than for most U.S. communities.


About 7 years ago, I was in a doctoral level political science class at Texas A&M University (home to the Bush Library, Cold War Secret Archives, and the think tank of neo-cons who brought you the Iraq War). One professor of American politics, policy & research whom I took two courses under there did not question the status-quo in terms of politics as usual in the USA.

During one discussion with this professor, I indicated that it was well-known that the rise of Sunbelt States after WWII was propelled by the fact that a large economic- and brain-drain transfer had started around 1940 in the U.S.A. related to the arms industry, military training, base construction, etc.

That particular professor challenged my line of thinking, claiming that no research had been carried out conclusively demonstrating that a great percentage of that post-WWII defense spending (from Virginia, Georgia & Alabama to Texas and Kansas to California & Washington state) had negatively distorted the U.S. economy.

I responded in surprise, “Sure there was such research, and the research had been carried out both through qualitatively and quantitatively!!”

I subsequently showed that professor the book, The Rise of the Gunbelt: The Military Remapping of America (1991), by Ann Markusen, Peter Hall, Scott Campbell and Sabina Deitrick. Not only had I read the book, I told him, but I had since noted that the book was used around the U.S.A. in several upper level and graduate classes on political science, policy, and public management.

A short on-line description of this classic book, The Rise of the Gunbelt, is as follows: “Since World War II, America's economic landscape has undergone a profound transformation. The effects of this change can be seen in the decline of the traditional industrial heartland and the emergence of new high tech industrial complexes in California, Texas, Boston, and Florida.”

Moreover, “The Rise of the Gunbelt demonstrates that this economic restructuring is a direct result of the rise of the military industrial complex (MIC) and a wholly new industry based on defense spending and Pentagon contacts. Chronicling the dramatic growth of this vast complex, the authors analyze the roles played by the shift from land and sea warfare to aerial combat in World War II, the Cold War, the birth of aerospace and the consequent radical transformation of the airplane industry, and labor and major defense corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed, and McDonnell Douglas. Exploring the reasons for the shifts in defense spending--including the role of lobbyists and the Department of Defense in awarding contracts--and the effects on regional and national economic development, this comprehensive study reveals the complexities of the MIC.”

As a history and social science instructor from the USA, I believe firmly that these sorts of books, The Rise of the Gunbelt or Namoi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, and their contents should not be relegated to upper level courses in universities.

They (and their content) need to be shared with incoming university students in order to better form and inform future generations of students taking U.S. history of politics and economics what has been going on in America over the past 4 to 7 decades. Further, more and more research demonstrating the shifts in American political economic history must be produced and published at the universities in the USA. The whitewashing of cultural memory must end!

As well, in the immediate future this truer political-economic understanding of history and economics of post-WWII America should be fully integrated into public and private high school curricula. (I believe many European states, such as Germany and France have educated students in the area of the political-economic developments of their own societies than is the case in U.S. public school curricula. Maybe if math, history, and political economics were better linked no one would fall for the neo-con and pro-Milton Friedmen rhetoric than misinformed the previous generations in the USA.)

For too many generations in the USA, these simple facts which the NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT are spelling out very clearly have been ignored on the ground by teachers and professors—i.e. those educators who should have known better as to how their own country had been transformed and has in part had its spiritual growth and economic promise stunted by almost continuous war economies since 1940.

This is also why I find partial fault with the shallowness of some of the talking points in the 51+ sections of the NPP website related to “Cost of the Iraq War” , e.g. for not digging deeper into how school education and the raising of a misinformed America have been a result of the “War Shock” economies America has faced or intentionally placed itself in almost-continuously for over 7 full decades now.

Further, NPP needs to (1) use and show the economic and monetary multiplier effects of misspending and (2) explain more thoroughly how misspent monies now have double-, triple- the negative effect on the U.S. economy in a few short years time.

In this area of taking both a long term historical- and futurist- view economic development is where both Naomi Klein’s recent book, The Shock Doctrine, and the Rise of the Gunbelt have succeeded, i.e. by the authors’ combining thoroughly the quantitative and qualitative effects on each and every generation--and how the economy of each and every generation gets further and further distorted over time.

The U.S. ended World War II (1945) with the majority of money, gold, and immediate productive capacity on the entire planet Earth.

Americans of each and every generation since that time need to understand political economy and their own history in order to stubbornly ask anew: What happened with all that capital?

How has America misspent or misused that position of power since then? (What have we as a nation and individuals done with all the money, power, and know-how that brought the U.S. to such dominance in 1945?)

How will we answer God if he asks us: “What did you do with all that I have given you?”

Will we simply, as a people called Americans, answer in the End Time as follows?

“We simply blew everything up!”

“We dropped some big bombs. They went ka-boom. We shock and awed everyone!”

“We flew jet fighters really fast. Way cool!”

“We outspent our enemy in the Cold War—Wooooaahhhh, that was close! (Our economy would have likely collapsed 5 years after the Soviets if Gorbachev hadn’t come along and thrown in the towel on the Soviet side back aound 1986.)”

“We fired some big guns, we killed some people, we destroyed ways of life, etc.!”

What do you want history to remember the American Democratic experiment for/?

The main point is whether we will we take hold of our American destiny and do much better with the economic benefits we possess and finally build an America to be really proud of? i.e. a society that looks after the poor? Or provides great homes, housing and opportunity to everyone? One that is more democratic and just than any other nation by far?

Or, are we going to simply settle for the mediocre and destructive path we have been on with this Chicago School of Economics the past 4 decades?

I vote “NO” to the continuation of the permanent war and “Shock Doctrine”.

It is your choice, America?

Grab your chance now!

Get wise and take back the country, people, and get on a much more positive course (or destiny) than the path we currently trod upon!

Use the tools on the web, like NPP, but go out and develop other weapons to stop the War on the better development of America and the American economy. Now!


“A Vote For More War: States and Congressional Districts”,

Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,

Markusen, Ann; Hall, Peter; Campbell, Scott; and Deitrick, Sabina.
The Rise of the Gunbelt: The Military Remapping of America (1991), Oxford: University Press.

Markusen, Ann; Hall, Peter; Campbell, Scott; and Deitrick, Sabina.
The Rise of the Gunbelt: The Military Remapping of America (1991)


“The Shock Doctrine , Klein, Naomi and The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”,


Monday, September 17, 2007

Swanson’s Article--Is Peace or Impeachment Possible?--Makes Clear that Pelosi’ Appeasement with Bush and Cheney is a NO-GO Zone for AmericansDemocrats

Swanson’s Article--Is Peace or Impeachment Possible?--Makes Clear that Pelosi’ Appeasement with Bush and Cheney is a NO-GO Zone for Americans and True Democrats

By Kevin Stoda

I was impressed as I read through David Swanson’s article entitled: “Is Peace or Impeachment Possible?”

First and foremost, Swanson attacks the Big Lies of Madison Avenue and Washington, D.C. in 2007:

Lie #1: The U.S. cannot pull out of Iraq now or very soon.

Swanson explains: “Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can announce tomorrow and could have announced nine months, several hundred troops, and tens of thousands of Iraqis ago, that they will not bring up any more bills to fund the occupation. A Republican proposal to fund the occupation could be blocked by 41, not 67, Senators. The Democrats could also pass bills ending the occupation or funding only the withdrawal and have them vetoed and pass them again and again. This is no secret and there is no dispute that Congress has this power. Senator Feingold held hearings at the start of the year at which experts overwhelmingly agreed that Congress can simply stop providing funding. Bush has plenty of money to bring the troops home, and Congress can provide new money for that purpose.”

I could kick myself—as should many of my fellow Americans—for failing to do this simple math required for measuring the support in the House and Senate for non-funding the war. In short, 80% of Americans want troops home now or soon. If more than 40% of Congressmen and Senators can’t support the WILL OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, they should be impeached, too.

Lie #2: Congress hasn’t got time, opportunity, or reason to impeach (first) Vice-President Dick Cheney and (second) President George W. Bush.

There are nearly two dozen cogent arguments which Swanson successfully makes concerning how and why Congress can and really must impeach the vice-president and then the president.

Some of these arguments are political. Others are based on the constitution. Others are based on doing what is simply right and supporting the dignity of the American people’s—i.e. Allowing Americans to becoming more fully proud of their country than has been the result of any act carried out by congress in Washington over the past many years.
Finally, there are arguments that are both humorous and true.

One of the early arguments in this article/speech comes from a historical perspective as Swanson reminds his audience, “You won’t hear much about it on the news, but a bill had been introduced in July to impeach Gonzales, and it was gaining support during the August recess. In fact a bunch of Congress Members added their names to the list of cosponsors this month even though Gonzales had already announced his resignation. This was not the first time that an effort to impeach helped force out an unjust attorney general. An effort to impeach Richard Nixon forced him out as well. An effort to impeach Harry Truman led to the Supreme Court checking his abuses of power. In fact the threat of impeachment is usually enough to restore a level of justice and democracy in Washington, D.C. A promise not to impeach, on the other hand, tends to encourage abuses of power and is itself an unconstitutional abuse of power.”
This is a basic fact.
The American response to the impeachment of Bill Clinton was the exception to the rule in terms of the public’s response to a congress threatening impeachment in over 200-years of American history. To a great degree, American’s certainly have supported their leaders when they are calling a spade a spade—or calling a criminal a criminal or calling a felon a felon (or a war-crime a war crime).

A key point of Swanson’s article, “Is Peace or Impeachment Possible?”, is that:

Lie #3: Impeachment can be handled separately from ending the U.S.’s participation in the war in Iraq.

Swanson makes it clear that without impeachment (The Big Hammer) and willingness by Congress to stand up to a Republican minority’s attempt to keep this horrible war funded indefinitely, war will not end—moreover, nothing much else will get accomplished in 2007-2008 by congress in many other areas.
Worse still--especially for the Democratic Party--without impeachment and a drastic pullout of American participation in Iraq in 2008, Democrats will not do as well as they need to be doing in November 2008 elections. Moreover, the American movement to redeploy our own Bills of Rights in the Territory of the USA will be stalled.
Swanson states, “The purpose of impeachment is not just to take back control of our government, not just to end an occupation, not just to prevent an attack on Iran. The purpose of impeachment is to inform future presidents that they must obey laws. But this is not something that concerns many Congress members. Their chief concern tends to be whether the next president will belong to their party.”
Swanson, who used to work with Kucinich, adds, “Twenty Congress members have signed onto H Res 333, Dennis Kucinich's bill to impeach Cheney. Many more signed onto the Gonzales bill or signed on during the last Congress to the Conyers bill for a preliminary impeachment investigation. And others have said publicly or privately that they favor impeachment. But these members have not signed onto Kucinich's bill on Cheney and have not introduced their own on Cheney or Bush. I've spoken to a lot of them and their staff and to constituents who've spoken to them. They have about 15 excuses, most of which are very easily rejected, a few of which it is going to be very hard but not impossible for us to get around.”
Swanson currently works with a website which has a good pulse on what American’s wants and needs from Congress. Look at it at:
The site at shows today the following results. Only 2% of Americans feel that Bush should get $200 billion more dollars to continue to fund the war—without conditions.
Meanwhile 83%, of those participating in the poll, feel that Bush should be required to use existing funds to bring U.S. Troops home within 6 months. An additional 13% said that perhaps Congress should give Bush $50 Billion to bring troops home within six months.
Swanson also emphasizes the fact that “[s]eventy-nine Congress members, including only two Floridians, Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings, have signed a letter saying they won't vote for more money unless it "redeploys" the troops by January 2009. This effort is led by Progressive Caucus chairs Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey. Woolsey is getting a lot of heat in DC right now because someone published the transcript of a private conference call on which she advocated pushing primary challenges to pro-war Democrats. But Lynn is not only right morally. Hers is a pro-Democratic Party position. Primaries are good for a party as well as a country.”

Swanson ends his article by indicating how Americans, who are really serious about taking back our nation’s great traditions in human-, constitutional-, and civil rights, needing to be responding to the status-quo in Washington and in the USA media forums.
Swanson lists 15 excuses by adversaries give for not supporting IMPEACHMENT NOW. Supporters of just politics in America should learn to respond as quickly and refreshingly as Swanson does in this article:

Excuse #1: You can't judge articles of impeachment prior to a committee investigation. That gets the process out of order:
A bill calling for impeachment, explains Swanson, “would not have to be wholly devoid of content. It could suggest the area or areas of inquiry.”

Excuse #2: We don't have all the facts we need in order to impeach.
Swanson: “Well, of course that's what an impeachment investigation is for. But in fact we do have the facts. The Judiciary Committee passed an article of impeachment against Nixon for refusing to comply with subpoenas. Bush and Cheney and Rice have indisputably refused to comply with subpoenas.” Swanson adds, “He [Bush] and Cheney are on videotape lying about the reasons for war, and the evidence that they knew they were lying is overwhelming. That is the impeachable offense our founding fathers most worried about. James Madison and George Mason both argued as well at the Constitutional Convention that impeachment would be needed if a president ever pardoned a crime that he himself was involved in.”
Excuse #3: Impeachment would take too long.
Swanson: “Nixon took 3 months. Clinton took 2. They've spent 9 thus far avoiding it, and with very little to show for it. Impeachment for refusal to comply with subpoenas would take one day.”
Excuse #4: Impeachment would distract from other things.
Swanson: “Yeah? Like what? Since when is restoring the Bill of Rights a distraction? A distraction from funding wars and legalizing spying is fine with me. A distraction from passing bills that will be vetoed does not worry me.”
Excuse #5: We need to focus on ending the war.
Swanson: “OK, but if you focus on ending the war for two full years and don't actually end it, I wish you luck getting people to turn out next November. When Congress moved toward impeachment of Nixon, it found the nerve to end a war, and he backed off on his veto threats. Congress passed a menu of progressive legislation in part because of, not despite, the impeachment threat hanging over Nixon. And ultimately of course impeachment is going to be needed to end the current occupation of Iraq.”
Excuse #6: Impeachment would be divisive.
Swanson: “Actually that's not true among Democrats. Eighty percent favor impeachment. But as far as bipartisan harmony on Capitol Hill goes, the dangers of creating divisiveness is sort of like the danger of violence breaking out if we leave Iraq. It's too late already! And it's too late because the Republicans never give a damn for bipartisan harmony.” Swanson also remarks, “John Nichols says: impeachment is not a constitutional crisis. It's the cure for the one we're in. Aspirin is not a headache crisis. Impeachment is not a constitutional crisis.”
Excuse #7: We don't have the votes in the House to impeach.
Swanson: Well, you would if Pelosi whipped on it. And Congress members back bills all the time that are not predicted to pass. If their colleagues fail to join them, that's between their colleagues and their colleagues' constituents. And again, impeachment usually does its work without getting all the way to impeachment. A move to impeach for refusal to comply with subpoenas, for example, might result in compliance with subpoenas. And it is the only thing that might.”
Excuse #8: We don't have the votes in the Senate to convict.
Swanson: “Well, you might if you put the crimes on television and if the house impeached. But you would do good for the nation and Democrats would do good for their party even with a Senate acquittal. Nothing would better identify for the public the Senators who need to be thrown out of office. And impeachment even without conviction would reverse the public perception of Democrats as having no spine. They may hold even in the next election without impeaching anyone or getting us out of Iraq, but if they want to win new seats, and if they want to win the White House with a large enough margin to not have the election stolen, they will reverse their current position and act!”
Excuse #9: I won't sign onto Kucinich's bill because he hasn't asked me to, and he's a liberal, and he's running for president.
Swanson: “We expect you to sign onto a bill based on the merits of it, or to introduce your own.”

Excuse #10: You can't impeach over policy differences because you don't like war. You have to impeach for a crime.
Swanson: “Well, Kucinich's bill charges Cheney with the felony that involves misleading Congress and with the crime of threatening war on Iran. Cheney is on videotape doing so. Conyers' book lists lots of felonies. But in fact, not every crime is an impeachable offense and not every impeachable offense is a crime. When Nixon cheated on his taxes or Clinton cheated on his wife and lied about it under oath, no impeachable offenses were committed. When Nixon lied to the public or when Bush ignored warnings prior to 9/11, no crimes were committed, but the offenses were impeachable.”
Excuse #11: If I backed impeachment, the media would be mean to me.
Swanson: “Yes, Congressman; Yes, Congresswoman. And if you don't people will die. Which is worse? A majority backs impeachment now for Cheney and a majority or close to it for Bush. Those numbers will go up, not down, if you act, regardless of what the media says. You know those 18 percent of Americans who approve of the job you're doing? Even they don't like the media. No campaign email raises more money than one that begins, ‘Fox News just attacked me.’”
Excuse #12: Impeachment would make Bush and Cheney sympathetic and rally people around them.
Swanson: “I think Congress should start with Cheney and watch as Republicans are forced to abandon him. The Republicans would have done this to the Democrats years ago. The idea that impeachment would help Bush and Cheney originated in Republican National Committee talking points published in May 2006. Pelosi immediately adopted the idea as her own. It flies in the face of the historical record. When the Republicans have moved impeachment, as against Truman for example, they've benefited at the polls. When the Democrats tried to impeach Nixon, who was popular compared to Cheney or Bush, they won huge victories. When they promised not to impeach Reagan, they lost in the next elections. The exceptional case is the Clinton impeachment which was uniquely unpopular. Nonetheless, the Republicans hung onto both houses of Congress and the White House.”
Excuse #13: Impeachment would remind people of Bill Clinton.
Swanson: “[C]ompared to Bush and Cheney he looks like a saint.”
Excuse #14: Nancy Pelosi opposes impeachment.
Excuse #15: Hillary Clinton opposes impeachment.
Swanson: “We cannot afford the luxury of pessimism. While there are things Congress refuses to even consider, like ending the occupation or impeaching Cheney or Bush, there are also things that we as citizens have a responsibility to consider but rarely do. We can shut down our Congress members' offices with endless repeated sit-ins. We can make it impossible for them to work. That changes the whole calculation. We can shut down the city of Washington. The next big march is on the 29th, following a camp in front of the Capitol from the 22nd to the 29th. If we bring a million people and on the 29th refuse to leave, if we block the streets and fill the jails, all bets and probably all wars are off.”

In this writing, I have both summarized and extrapolated on parts of Swanson’s speech, called “Is Peace or Impeachment Possible?”, originally published as an article in this week’s Op-Ed.

That article is a great tool for Americans who are crying out for justice and a just government restoration in the USA.

Swanson ends his speech in an optimistic tone that encourages us all to continue contacting our congressmen.

Swanson, for example, writes: “Whether we can manage such feats [Impeaching and Peace] or not, if we keep building and pushing an impeachment movement, not only do we communicate to the world our good intentions, but we are prepared should some new event help trigger a pulse in the corpse of Congress. And let us hope that event is not an attack on Iran.”
On the Op-Ed website, there is a link to US ALONE website , , sponsored by P.E.N. and Op-Ed, which enables residents in the USA to write directly to their local newspapers and encourage IMPEACHMENT NOW!
I encourage you readers to do so now! (I sent out my letters this afternoon already using that helpful link.)
Finally, Swanson notes:
“We can also organize in and do polling in swing districts to try to show the electoral advantage to be gained from doing the right thing. We can also keep pressuring key Congress members like Congressman Wexler and Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz. We can do this through local media activism, PR, letters to editors, calls to shows, through visits, phone calls, emails, faxes, letters, post cards, posters, billboards, through honk-to-impeach events where you hold posters saying ‘Honk to Impeach’ at the side of the street outside their offices, and through events where we sit in and read the Constitution aloud, refusing to leave.”
“We can also take our demands directly to the people Congress listens to: the media. The fact is that if we had had Fox News and if the other outlets had been in 1974 what they are now, Nixon would never have resigned. Today, the media do not cover the crimes, the evidence, or the public outrage, and do not poll the public's opinions on impeachment. We forced the Downing Street minutes into the news two-and-a-half years ago by flooding the media with phone calls, emails, and protests in their lobbies. That needs to continue.”
I would end by saying, consider running against your own Congressman and Senators, at the very least, if they continue to support injustice and war by their inaction.

“The Aggressive Progressives: Poll”,

Swanson, David, “Is Peace or Impeachment Possible?”,

US ALONE: “Write Your Congressmen and Local Paper” ,


Saturday, September 15, 2007

SETTING UP A BASE FOR ALLIED TROOPS ON THE IRAN-IRAQ BORDER!!!!! Why We shouldn’t trust the spin of Patraeus and Neo-Con Supporters in Washington

SETTING UP A BASE FOR ALLIED TROOPS ON THE IRAN-IRAQ BORDER!!!!! Why We shouldn’t trust the spin of Patraeus and Neo-Con Supporters in Washington

By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait

Last week, the BBC and local Kuwaiti news network (KUNA), reported that the U.S. under General Patraeus, had asked Britain to send 350 troops to the border of Iraq and Iran in the first of several steps to broaden the chances for direct conflict with Iraq.

The British newspaper Independent noted: “British forces have been sent from Basra to the volatile border with Iran amid warnings from the senior US commander in Iraq that Tehran is fomenting a ‘proxy war’.”

The high-risk maneuver is described as follows in reports from Baghdad and on the border with Iran. “In signs of a fast-developing confrontation, the Iranians have threatened military action in response to attacks launched from Iraqi territory while the Pentagon has announced the building of a US base and fortified checkpoints at the frontier.The UK operation, in which up to 350 troops are involved, has come at the request of the Americans, who say that elements close to the Iranian regime have stepped up supplies of weapons to Shia militias in recent weeks in preparation for attacks inside Iraq.”

From the European and Middle Eastern perspective these questions are being pondered:

-Why is the U.S. media reporting that Iran is such a big threat?
-Why is the Senate and House not calling bush’s recent bluffs?
-Who has the biggest proxy war going in Iraq currently?
-“Who” is really fomenting “what kind of war”?

The claim seems to be that Tehran is causing more trouble in Iraq than the United States or Britain have been up to.

How can that be when we have the U.S. military on the ground in some Sunni corners of Iraq supporting displacement of Shia populations by handing out weapons to Sunni militias and visa versa?

Recent independent reports from Iraq show that it is the U.S. is involved in arming militias which is leading or has already led to ethnic- and religious- cleansing of certain peoples from certain regions.

Here is what Arun Gupta, an editor of "The Indypendent", has stated: “Now, one of the key things that Petraeus did was they decided -- him and his command decided -- that they were going to create this paramilitary force, the Special Police Commandos. They armed them. They funded them. They trained them. And they also issued the usual denials: ‘Oh, we're not giving them any weapons. This is an Iraqi initiative.’ And so, now he’s saying the same thing with the Sunni militias.”

Gupta reported on Democracy Now last week: “Also during his [Gen. Petraeus’] tenure, 190,000 weapons went missing. These were Pentagon weapons that were supposed to go to Iraqi Security Forces. A report came out last month stating that there was no proper bookkeeping done. There were more weapons, but what it found was that 190,000 assault rifles and handguns, along with all sorts of body armor and other military equipment, had just completely gone off track. There were no records of it kept. Such simple things as recording the serial numbers were not done.”

With this kind of surge in weaponry getting “lost” into militia hands, there is little wonder that each of the neighboring countries—Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey—are nervous and may desire to intervene in what is happening in Iraq.

However, from anyone’s perspective in the Middle East, creating a war with (Iran just at U.S. Neo-Cons did illegally in 2001-2003) is NOT WANTED, NOR DESIRED in the short-, mid- or long-term.

In short, the pressure for the U.S. to leave will likely increase the more the U.S. picks a fight with Iran—in any case, Iran is one of the worst economically run countries in the region and the one particular state regime most likely to fall under the weight of its own mismanagement without the U.S. lifting a finger over the next decade or two.

The U.S. generals and neo-con promoters (of this misguided approach of America’s) are trying to persuade its last few allies in the region to get involved in supporting a permanent U.S. presence on the Iran-Iraq border.

The BBC reports:

“The US military is planning to build its first base near Iraq's border with Iran in order to curb the alleged flow of weapons to Shia militants in Iraq. Maj Gen Rick Lynch told the Wall Street Journal that the base would be located 6.4km (four miles) from the border and house at least 200 US soldiers. US forces also plan to build fortified checkpoints on major roads leading to Baghdad from Iran, Gen Lynch said. . . . Last month, US officials said they might designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards a ‘terrorist’ organisation for helping to destabilise Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has denied the allegations.”

In a way, sending only 200 U.S. forces to man a U.S. base on the Iran-Iraq border appears to be a step towards simply:

(a) setting up a target for enemies in a desert to take a pot shot at as they travel by,

(b) creating a point to incite a war for just about any reason imaginable, and/or

(c) setting up a beachhead for a future war or invasion of the oil fields of Iran.

In any of these scenarios, the intention is 180 degrees from what Americans and Congress are asking this administration to undertake at this junction in history.

Iran has already responded with venomous replies. Ali Larijani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, stated: "If they approach our borders, they will be within reach of our fire, which is not for their good.”

Larijani added, “Neither the Iraqi people nor the government will allow the US troops to remain in their country, Larijani said noting that what really counted was the Iraqi government which said it would not permit such a base to be set up near the Iranian borders.” Larijani also called parts of the Crocker-Petreaus full of “contradictions and lies”.

Larijani said “[Americans] should be accountable to the Iraqi people… asking
‘Iran supplies Iraq with drinking water and electricity but what have you brought for the Iraqi people?’ . . . [but ]. . .You play a key role in causing sectarian rifts among the Iraqi people.’”

Rick Rowley’s new documentary footage from Iraq, shown on Al-Jazeera English TV, takes viewers to refugees camps around Baghdad where no other American or Western journalists have gone before. His interviews with the refugees in the slums protected by the Mahdi Army. The footage demonstrates that the Al-Anbar province, which has been declared a success by the Neo-Con spin-doctors & General Petreaus , was calmed at a great price of ethnic cleansing. That is the remaining Shia peoples in Al-Anbar regions are now in refugee camps in Iraq or abroad.

Is this the kind of progress Americans want to continue to support?

I think—NOT!

Demagogues are creating daily by the U.S. administration and the American media seems to lap it up. Evidence that the Bush steps toward provoking a war of sorts with Iran is serving to keep a rather incompetent government under President Ahmadinejad in Iran in office. At Friday prayers on the first weekend of Ramadan, Ahmadinejad received a boost from a high cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei said: “President Bush would be tried in an international court for what had happened in Iraq.”

While many people around the world and in Iraq have similar sentiments, the big byproduct of Khamenei’s speech is that President Ahmadinejad in Iran has now received a major level of support from religious leaders to continue goading the U.S. with its nuclear weapons program for years to come.

Let’s not do the same thing in America, don’t support Petreaus nor Bush’s narrations of the Middle East!

Don’t let this U.S. War in Iraq become longer than the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, SPEED UP the PULL OUT, NOW!!!!

Also, impeach Bush and Cheney—not because an Iranian leader says to do it, but because it is THE RIGHT THING TO DO AS AN AMERICAN.


Gupta, Arun in “A Look At How Petraeus Helped Arm Warring Sunni and Shia Militias in Iraq”,

Leyne, Jon, “Irani Supreme Leader Slams Bush”,

“People Power—Al Anbar Province 09 September 2007: Part 1”,

“People Power—Al Anbar Province 09 September 2007: Part 2”,

Rowly, Rick in “EXCLUSIVE Report From Iraq: U.S. Fueling Sectarian Civil War in Anbar by Funding Former Insurgents to Fight Al Qaeda”,

Sengupta, Kim “The 'proxy war': UK troops are sent to Iranian border”,

“U.S. Plans Base on Iraq-Iran Border” ,

Tehran Warns the U.S. off of Setting Up U.S. Military Base near Iranian Border,


Saturday, September 08, 2007

A CLEAR CONCISE PLAN FOR U.S. WITHDRAWAL is NOW AVAILABLE, please get your congressmen to follow up on it starting TODAY

A CLEAR CONCISE PLAN FOR U.S. WITHDRAWAL is NOW AVAILABLE, please get your congressmen to follow up on it starting TODAY

By Kevin A. Stoda in Kuwait

On September 4, 2007, “The Declaration for Peace” presented to the world, and especially to U.S. citizens and congressmen a 9-Point plan[1] for getting out of Iraq and finally leaving the world and a region with a more peaceful and progressive future than the country Iraq or the region around it has experienced in a long time.

The 9-Point plan [2] focuses on stopping the funding for the war and creating a permanent peace plan for Iraq peoples, its regions and its neighbors.

The 9-Points are as follows:

(1) An end to all funding for U.S. military operations in Iraq.
(2) Safe and rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops and coalition forces from Iraq, with no future deployments.
(3) No permanent U.S. military bases or installations in Iraq.
(4) Support for an Iraqi-led Peace process, including a Peace conference to shape a post-occupation transition.
(5) Return control of Iraqi oil to the people of Iraq, as well as complete sovereignty in their economic and political affairs.
(6) Support for reparations and reconstruction to address the destruction caused by the U.S. invasion, military occupation, and 13 years of economic sanctions.
(7) Establish a U.S. “peace dividend” for job creation, health care, education, housing, and other vital social needs at home.
(8) Increased support for U.S. veterans of the Iraq war.
(9) No war against Iran or any other nation.

The only controversial part of the plan may be in finding out how to implement points #1, #2, and #3 above.


As currently, certain regions and peoples appear to need U.S military presence, the procedures involving the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd points of the plan need to be clarified. However, withdrawing troops from particular regions should start, immediately, even before each of the final application of the planned withdrawal are clearly identified.

(1) Which regions should be cleared of U.S. occupying forces and military bases first?

(2)Which areas or bases should be the last ones that the U.S. leaves?

I would advocate that two paths be followed simultaneously. The areas which will be the most controversial areas to be cleared of U.S. forces should be identified immediately. In these areas, it might be necessary to conduct local plebiscites or referenda to identify when the Iraqi citizens desire the U.S. troops to pull out—or how fast that pullout is to be

At another level, it could be acknowledged that certain areas will indeed become unoccupied by the U.S forces by the end of this year, 2007. For example, territory near the Iraq, Saudi, and Kuwaiti [3] borders and the Iraq &Turkish borders could be cleared of U.S. forces first, i.e. starting in 2007.

On the other hand, I would say that in the wake of the long-term mutual assurances and blossoming positive relationships between the U.S. and the Kurdish military forces in the Northern region of Iraq, it is important that permanent military forces leave what is now known as central and southern Kuridistan at a slower pace than those U.S. troops leaving the northern border with Turkey.

Similarly, the dismantling of parts of the U.S. Green Zone and military facility in Baghdad [4] begin to be undertaken immediately. I would suggest that some of these forces from Baghdad be dispatched to either the Shia East or Sunni West or both—on a march of sorts to being rotated out of the country.

The objective of this two-directional leaving of the capital will assure Iraqis that the U.S. is as concerned as they are about last minute power plays from either pro-Syrian or pro-Iraqi militias or parties.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has to take control over its own borders with Iraq in a much more adequate manner than it has shown as of late. That is, far too many potential terrorists and terrorist-support personnel and funds are arriving from Saudi Arabia on an annual basis. The U.S. cannot finance a delay in Saudi establishing control any longer! The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations noted this last summer that Saudi needs to do more. [5]

Now the U.S. needs to put its money where its mouth is and follow thourhg on pressure to get the KSA to pick up the slack. If Saudi Arabia cannot get its own citizens in line by January 2008, all sales of military weapons to Saudi Arabia should immediately be frozen.

Finally, a tenth point is essential. This point is that the U.S.A. and the rest of the planet must shed their dependence on petroleum, especially petroleum leading to war. [6]

This means that in the short term , the U.S. should support Venezuela and other countries who are willing to sell petroleum to us at discounted rates—especially to our poorest citizens.

On the other handed, the wealthiest companies must make up for years of neglect by replacing our overall dependence on petroleum fuels—otherwise, all businesses and high income wage earners will need to be required to pay a luxury tax related to any goods involving the transport or usage of petroleum products—including cars and about anything else one can think of.

Further, the U.S. should charge an exit tax to companies, like Halliburton [8], which leave the U.S. to make further profit on petroleum and war.


[1] The Goal of the Declaration of Peace:

[2] A more complete document is available linked to that page.

[3] In prior years, I had taught students here in Kuwait who were National Guardsmen. They indicated that they had expected the U.S.A. to pull out by 2006. So, in Kuwait’s case they seem to have been ready for a U.S. pull-out for some time.

[4] The writers for Declaration for peace say that the only apparent reason to have such a large base in Baghdad is to cause a backlash in neighboring countries and around Iraq at the U.S.’s audacity to build such a behemoth in one of the great historical cities of Islamic and Arab history.

[5] “US Ambassador to U.N. Criticizes Saudi Arabia for Undermining Iraq Effort”,

[6] One of many examples is California Strategy to Reduce Dependence on Petroleum,

[7] “Beyond Transition”,

[8] “Halliburton Watch”,


MUMIA ABU-JAMAL--Get to Know Him!


By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait

I’m not certain that Kuwaitis as a whole know who Mumia Abu-Jamal is, however, approximately 5-years ago while I was traveling in Havana, Cuba, I was wearing my yellow “Free Mumia” t-shirt, many different Cubans struck up conversation with me about this elegant prisoner, who has quite unfairly been on Death Row in the USA for well over two full decades.

Manipulated testimony, mishandled and lost evidence and fictional police reports that were way-out-of-line to the facts on the ground have haunted Mumia Abu Jamal since December 9, 1981 when he was first was charged with murdering a police officer.

Since then writers from Germany and all over the planet have written exposes about the apparent framing of Mumia. This is why even poor people in Cuba, who hardly ever read a newspaper, still know who Mumia is. [I just did a search on YAHOO for “Mumia Abu Jamal” and there were 3.5 million links.]

In the United State, one can access the spoken words of Mumia on private-, public-, national-, and local radio broadcasts from Kansas City to Texas & from Miami to L.A. Programs, like Democracy Now, present his speeches and interview Mumia on world issues occasionally.

One can, of course, also, access his writings and speeches on-line, for example, at:

South End Press or
Mumia Jamal’s Freedom Journal

On one of my favorite website’s, Op-Ed News
, recently had a good example of Mumia’s writings about W. Bush’s attempt to delink American collective Vietnam War-era memory by obfuscation in his speech for a Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City held in late August 2007.

Mumia’s article and well written response was called “A ‘Lesson’ from Vietnam”.

I really felt Mumia’s short article was concise and reflected the insight people all over the world have received by meeting Mumia, reading Mumia’s writings, listening to Mumia’s speeches or interviews, and in following his case. [See the link below to Mumia’s article Vietnam memory.]


Mumia Abu Jamal’s case needs to be looked into by all Americans in the wake of the public recognition made last month that the Texan, Kenneth Foster, had had his sentence for a similar fraudulently prosecuted case commuted last month in Austin, Texas—i.e. the state most of the planet knows as the Land of Death Row & Executions.

How do I know that Texas is known so-well around the planet for executing peoples when countries like China and North Korea do executions so discretely by the hundreds and thousands each year?

First of all, I have traveled to about 100 countries on the planet earth over the past two decades.

Second, I like wearing t-shirts. That is, in the Middle East—from Qatar to Kuwait, from the UAE to Egypt—people have spoken to me in support of my TEXANS AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT (TACP) t-shirt on numerous occasions over the past foru or five years.

[Naturally, one of these observant Arabs was a young executive working for Al-Jazeera TV, who spoke me to about it and shook my hand on seeing it one day as my flight onto to Kuwait landed for an hour in Qatar.]

In short, what I have written previously is absolutely true: Americans are Living Life Out-Loud around the world each and everyday.

We wear our culture and its crimes on our sleeves—and on our t-shirts—as well as in the TV programs & cultural artifacts we export each and every day.

Don’t take my word for it! Talk to others! See the world from their eyes!

At the very least, do your own research on Mumia, Mumia’s writings, and his claim to innocence on the web—before you leave the borders of the USA.

Someone abroad (even from Saudi Arabia or Iran) may want to speak to you about Mumia and capital punishment in the USA—so be prepared! [Do your research and know where you stand before you go!]


Abu Jamal. Mumia,

“Exclusive: Mumia Abu Jamal Speaks to DN”,

“How the Philedelphia Cops Framed Mumia Abu-Jamal”,

International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal,

Justice for Mumia Abu Jamal,


Thursday, September 06, 2007

GOOGLE WATCH: IMPEACH BUSH & CHENEY rises by 110,000 in less than six weeks—September 5, 2007

GOOGLE WATCH: IMPEACH BUSH & CHENEY rises by 110,000 in less than six weeks—September 5, 2007

By Kevin Stoda

As some readers have noted recently, I have been using GOOGLE search as an indirect barometer to measure the buzz by which Americans and others around the globe are discussing the topic of impeachment for our infamous President George W. Bush (select) and his mentor, Vice-President (select) Richard Cheney.

Discussion on the web can take a variety of forms. They can be educational.

They can be pro, con, neutral, or just for the sake of curiosity by a variety of writers on the web, i.e. those who are just in general interested in the topic of “impeachment”.

On Monday July 23, 2007, I had reported rise of interest in the key words “Bush”, “Cheney” and “Impeachment” of 300 more results in less than ¾ of day.


Today, I would like to report the total increase since that time has risen by almost 110,000 since July 22 or so when I began to keep track

At noon today (September 5, 2007), there were 2,110,000 results for these three items:


That is a continued rise of about 5.5% in less than 55 days. At that rate, results will be over 3 million some time after Christmas.


I would like to encourage readers to discuss the meaning and meaningfulness of this barometer.

In my opinion, the barometer is far from scientific, but it implies that not enough Americans and peoples around the world are taking impeachment serious enough.

For example, since the majority of the Democratic-led Congresses are ignoring the voices of so many already calling for impeachment, I would like to recommend that in the run up to these key dates--like between September 11 and September 15--that America’s newspapers and talk shows get calls from our listeners and taken to task for not doing what is right!

Action and Voices are needed to bring the Wall of Silence down in the Halls of Government!

EXERCISE our American Rights to take law breaking presidents and vice-presidents to task for malfeasance or whatever crime-against-humanity applies!

Get the Daily Show to run at least one series of jokes about the topic , etc. !

Call your friends!

Hold a Die-In!

Write a story about how the world would be a better place if suddenly Cheney and Bush would resign!

Dream dreams!

Move forward Impeach NOW!

Get the World’s respect back by showing the world that American Democracy can, does, and will work!


“At 8a.m. Monday …”,

“Impeach Cheney…”

“Need Now …”,



Wednesday, September 05, 2007



By Kevin A. Stoda in Kuwait

In late August, I attended my first Civil War Muster in Jackson, Michigan. It was the 23rd such event held at Jackson’s Cascades. Civil War musters are considered among the largest full-family participatory events in the United States, so I figured it was about time that I experienced one myself.

At Civil War musters individuals and families dress up in costumes and uniforms from the mid-19th Bellum period in U.S. history. In this case, over 1000 participants (including whole families) camped out in canvas tents for two nights and two days as battles were carried out in the afternoons between the Union and Confederate forces, reenacting to a great degree events that occurred over 160 years ago.

However, this sort of American weekend celebration is not necessarily focused on who wins the battles—battles which might only last a few minutes in time. Civil War Muster culture is more importantly understood as an educational and uniting experience for all participants and visitors.

Before and after the main battles at Jackson that day, one could wander the camps between North and South. Along the way, one could discuss the activities and ways of life of the participants along with learning about the lifestyles & practices of life of bygone eras. One could even find “Southerners” and “Northerners” sharing coffee and civil conversations together.


The first thing I noticed about the many women at this particular muster was that their outfits were fairly reminiscent of what I see on a daily basis living in Kuwait. The ladies wore long dresses and were quite proud to do so. They also wore hats, head coverings, and even occasionally a veil.

The next similarity in dress to Arab cultures came in the form of the uniforms of some of the Northern and Southern troops. For example, the men representing one Pennsylvania militia unit from the 1850s wore a military uniform reminiscent of what was certainly worn in both the North African and in Ottoman regions throughout both the entire 19th and part of the early 20th century. Several of these soldiers even wore fez hats. The red decorative design on these uniforms also looked positively Islamic, i.e. imitating the art forms of Arab and Islamic designers or artisans

I enquired about the history of this particularly Arab-looking uniform of a 19th century American militia The muster participants were glad to educate me. “Yes, the uniforms were modeled on a French and North African design used in the 19th Century.” I was informed that a variety of local militias in the USA (both North and South) in the 1840s and 1850s had adopted such uniforms, i.e. uniforms based on the French & North African design. When these various militias took sides in the Civil War, these soldiers and units continued to wear their own locally designed uniforms and head gear.

A third similarity to the Middle East (this time to the Middle East of 2007) then dawned on me as I observed these different militias uniforms worn around me that weekend at the Jackson Cascades Muster. This similarity was namely that there were certainly different tribes and militias who had come together to make up the Civil War in the USA in 1861 through 1865. This was, in a way, reminiscent to how wars in the Middle East are still carried out today.


Wars are historically very messy affairs!

For thousands of years, different troops in most wars were not made up of a single unified army facing off against another single unified army. Armies were made up of locally recruited and regional militias. Therefore, any military historian would have anticipated the multi-tribal and multi-militia facets of the current civil wars that the US has been waltzing into and among (with great bombing and destructive fanfare) in both Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003.

My home state, Kansas, was embroiled in civil war in the 1850s and 1860s. The Kansas territory at that time was known as “Bloody Kansas” from 1854 to 1865. This was an era of tribal, ideological, religious, and militia wars. This period was a nightmare where both local and neighboring tribes lined up against one another. Moreover, funds and “foreign” support (from across the Kansas border and often from Missouri) on behalf of the various sides supporting militias, jayhawkers and bald-knobbers kept the battle raging for over a decade.

Eventually, only the national territorial Civil War came to overshadow the battlegrounds of Kansas—marginalizing the Kansas bloodbath as a sideshow in a greater regional conflict.

Will such a sideshow position in a regional conflict be the future of Iraq? This is what the Bush Administration and neighboring states of Iraq fear today—whether they are Saudis, Syrians, Kuwaitis, Turks, Persians.

The U.S. leadership should have seen this all coming. Any civil war historian could see that neither the Northern nor Southern forces were monolithic forces. I observed it in the uniforms and traditions shared by the various actors at the Michigan Muster I witnessed first-hand this past month There were diverse groups of militia-men (black or white or Native American) who took sides in the Great Civil War in the U.S. from 1861 to 1865—and in Kansas, even during the years before that vicious war..

I muttered to myself as I continued my tour of this particular Civil War muster, “What kind of American history had young George W. Bush learnt when he was studying back in Yale or in Texas so many years ago?”


I continued to enjoy the ambience of Civil War-era camaraderie while walking among the variety of tents sent up on that weekend at the Jackson Cascade’s 23rd Annual Civil War Muster. Even after a very rainy night before, these hardy campers and warriors were radiating in the communal living involved in such a muster.

There were muffins and stews on the fire. There were rifles set up in teepee fashion. There were cups of water being served in tin cups to warriors. There were drummers and flutists playing music together. Meanwhile, cavalry horses were being fed.

Further, here-and-there were male and female fighters taking target- or shooting practice. There were also other militias practicing marching in step. There were also large cannons being polished. In short, there were photo-ops galore.

Moreover, there were displays, presentations and debates being carried out under a variety of other much larger tents than the individual troops were using to camp out in. Immediately, I was reminded by the sight of such large tents of the preferred type of tents used for weekend camping in Kuwait by the local Arab populations, i.e. modern peoples who were also trying on weekends to reenact a way of life their own ancestors had once known so intimately.

That is right! Half-way around the globe, Kuwaitis in the thousands also spend weekends moving into tents and living out in the open under the desert sky and stars. They and their families see it as an important bonding facet of their lives in the 21st Century.

More importantly, many Kuwaiti families and tribes still meet under actual large tents on an even more regular basis to discuss among themselves the latest issues or to hear political and educational speeches today. This tradition of Kuwaitis holding such meetings either at homes or under tents is known in Kuwait as the practice of holding a “diwaniya”. It is usually an all-male affair, but even this ancient tradition has been opened to some women today—just as in the U.S.A females have joined militia units meeting and camping out in Civil War muster tents these recent generations.

In other words, as I walked around Jackson Cascades Park on the weekend of August 25 & 26, 2007, I continued to be amazed at the similarities to the Middle East today and what was being lived out before me in the USA that very day.

As I wandered among the tents taking photos and listening to discussions, a kernel of an idea within my thoughts took form. I began to dream of a day when a Civil War-era Muster and its tents might be used in some future period as an educational or cross-culturally bonding event for both Americans and Arabs.

Some of the displays that weekend in Jackson, Michigan among the larger tents included a history of blacks in the Civil War. This tent was promoted by some members representing Detroit’s 102nd, under which one of the original all black units from Detroit had served in that civil war.

An elderly black women was giving a presentation in the corner of that tent on how secret signals were sewn into traditional quilts during the days of the Abolition Movement in the USA. Those symbols indicated how and where the escapee needed to proceed on their route northwards on the Underground Railway.

Another poster board in the same tent explained that blacks fought on both sides of the Civil War. There had even been an all-black cavalry unit in the South. However, most black troops were rounded up in that war to primarily do the grunt work, including doing back breaking work of building fortifications and digging trenches.

One dark-skinned muster participant stated proudly that in his unit there were at least 3 members of his present unit who could trace their family tree back to one of these original black units in the Civil War.

At another tent further up-the-hill, I heard a speech given by a muster participant dressed as a funeral undertaker of that era. The man introduced himself as “an entrepreneur”. The entrepreneur noted that in the late 1850s and early 1860s he had seen the potential of investing in and promoting new embalming technologies in America. Proper embalming techniques would enabled bodies to be moved long distance for burial during and after the Civil War.

I thought to myself, “This particular “entrepreneur” could have called himself a ‘Civil War entrepreneur.’”

This thought, in turn, led me to recall that half-a-world away many war- and civil war- entrepreneurs were now in the Gulf region today, including Halliburton in Iraq and the local out-sourcer known as First Kuwaiti. (Many of these war-entrepreneurial firms have been famously exploiting, endangering and misleading foreign laborers in the neighboring war zones for years.) In short, there is certainly money to be made in war and entrepreneurs aren’t far behind—if they aren’t actually leading the charge.


At another tent, a speaker on weapons was giving a presentation on the history of another new technology developed for the American Civil War—namely the Gatling Gun. The speaker narrated a history of this Civil War-era machine gun. As he talked, he took the listener from the 1860s through to the present day as to how the design of this weapon has been useful. The narration proceeded roughly as follows.

By 1910, the usefulness of the Gatling gun to national armed forces in America was considered “null”. At that time, most of the remaining Gatling guns in the U.S. defense arsenal were melted down for their copper.

However, after WWII the creation of faster aircraft, especially jetfighter planes, led to the return of the Gatling gun design—as the firing pattern served many crafts better than had guns which had been serving American forces well on regular WWII-era planes. Soon, during the Vietnam War, the Gatling gun design was added for use in helicopters.

Finally, the speaker glowed, “The third or fourth generation Gatling gun is much larger than that used in the civil war-era and later.” In short, the current generation-descendents of the Gatling Gun have been used to fire extremely large uranium-tipped weapons by U.S. forces in the Gulf region starting in 1991--and elsewhere throughout the world today.

I couldn’t imagine that many other listeners--other than myself-- looked at this speaker’s comments at that moment with the horror I perceived at that moment.

I had slowly comprehended that the recently created model of Richard J. Gatling’s weapon on the table in front of me had grown up to become a modern-day leviathan—leaving a uranium tipped Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan in its wake.

Feeling a bit dismayed at the pride with which the speaker raved on-and-on about this pre-runner of modern mass-murder technology, I turned away from this speaker’s tent.


In other words, with an awkward sadness in my heart at this technological wonder of American ingenuity, I turned on my heels and proceeded to another tent where an important debate was taking place.

It was a fascinating debate under a large tent where two famous-looking speakers were standing as I walked by. One speaker was dressed as Abraham Lincoln, leader of the United States of America. The other was dressed as Jefferson Davis, leader of the Confederate States of America. They were well-prepared and able speakers taking part in a debate that should have taken place over 160 years ago--but which never did.

Both speakers talked of the U.S. constitution as though it was much more than simply a piece of paper. Recall that Bismarck of this same era of the 1860s had questioned whether any constitution was more than a piece of paper.
As I looked around the room at the audience—many dressed in ante-bellum finery—I saw that everyone took the U.S. constitution to be the key agreement bonding a nation together.

I recalled, as I listened to the speakers, that one of the key differences between the participants in today’s Iraq and the speakers and listeners at that tent far-across the Atlantic ocean in Michigan is this very fact: American’s have historically hardly ever seen their constitution as SIMPLY a piece of paper, i.e. which someone could just walk away from, toss in a trash bin, and do as whatever one wanted with . (The historical exception is occurring during the W. Bush Administration in this 3rd Millennium whereby the document could be simply be tossed away from the public scene and ignored.)

“Abraham Lincoln” reminded the listeners that a constitution is a contract and asked, “What would be the point of two parties signing a document if one party could simply walk away from the document and forget that the document was ever legally binding on him or his community?”

Naturally, a rebuttal from “Jeff Davis”, included the charge, “It is historically accurate to say isn’t it, that you argued the opposite point of view when speaking on Texas a few decades ago.” Over two decades earlier, Lincoln had advocated Texas leaving its union with Mexico.

“Jeff Davis” represented, of course, the southern view, and he was of the mind that the South had bent over backwards trying not to leave the union for over seven decade prior to succession. The speaker argued that the founding fathers, or declarers of independence in 1776 would have approved of the South’s determination as a group of states to form a new and more perfect union.

This was a fairly refreshing fictitious and civil debate between “Lincoln” and “”Jefferson” on federalism and what it means to support one’s country, one’s region, one’s tribe or family.

At that moment, I certainly wished that representatives from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria, and Iran were present to listen to and comment on the underlying federalist struggle being carried out before me that 25th of August 2007 in the green and tent-filled Cascade Park in Jackson, Michigan.

Perhaps, if the U.S. in April or May 2003 had sat down with all neighboring tribes and local militias under one tent and really discussed what federalism entailed based on prior historical mistakes, wars, and civil war, all parties could have reached a more civil union prior to 2007.

Instead, everyone is remaining in a state of stress and alert that could have been avoided, i.e. fingers are pointing from one Iraqi state to another and from one neighboring state to another—as well as back to occupying U.S.A and Britian.


I, myself, have spent the past two decades studying and experiencing federalism in a variety of its forms. I have enjoyed, therefore, not only the opportunity to study federalism in the United States, but I have observed it federatins intimately lived out in the years of working in the United Arab Emirates, Germany and Mexico. Federalism, like democracy itself, is a dirty and messy affair but it may be the best that a mixed group of peoples can ever create.

Besides, as a religious individual, I know that the Middle Eastern tribes invented federalism a long time ago, i.e. in Biblical times. The original twelve tribes of Israel were example of such a federal structure. Therefore, as federalism is a native concept to the Middle East, it can potentially be a quite practical unifying force and form for states and regions. Whether the federal union is made up of states, tribes or emirates is irrelevant. A federal design can be worked out.

Interestingly, one of the most profound modern students of federal theory, Daniel Elazar, noted over two decades ago that almost from the beginning of American Constitutional history, the dichotomy between individual states and federal foreign relations began to break down in the U.S.

Elazar’s research and other’s governmental analyses or findings over the centuries imply that individual states in a federal system will and do carry out carry out cross border relations. This is part and parcel of a federal system.

So, it should not come as a surprise that states and regions in present day Iraq favor relations with one foreign power over another. Even the Governor George W. Bush in Texas in the 1990s, led his state to promote stronger relations between border states and Mexico.

Elazar also notes that even in the original 18th Century U.S. Constitution, individual states were given specific rights to carry out relations with individual Indian tribes. That is, states or tribes embracing or adjacent (to) individual states have been enabled from conception by the U.S. Constitution to carry out relationships with these neighboring tribes (or intra-regional nations).

Why does it then come as a surprise to Americans and American statesmen in the 21st Century that in the case of Iraq’s newly formed federation, cross-border tribes (and relationships among these tribes) and bordering states do, in fact, effect Iraq daily and these same parties will continue to be playing active cross border roles and carrying out cross-border relations with Iraqi states and regions now and in the future?

In short, once any state or becomes federal (or confederal), it’s international relations will not be driven simply according to “unitary state theory”—which has dominated American foreign policy for centuries.

At this junction in history, federative solutions are ever-more necessary as the “unitary state actor paradigm” of international relations continues to (a) crumble or (b) evolve into multi-lateral paradigms in this 3rd millennium. [Regional political historians and experts of the Middle East have to admit that even in officially centrist Saudi Arabia, the emirate system—a federative approach to governance-- is alive and strong within its borders and among the tribes and families dictating governance there Similar structures exist or have been developing in other regional states, too.)


Now, ongoing U.S. and Middle Eastern speculations are irrelevant as to whether Iraq (1) will collapse into multiple countries, (2) will remain unified and federal, or (3) will be taken over eventually by a new regional strong man.

The fact is, by choosing to build (and in the U.S.’ case—strongly support a federal solution in Iraq--) the Iraqi peoples and their representative have opened their nation to federal solutions. It is time to seize the day by educating one another in the region about all of the workable alternatives to civil war that a federal structure can imply.

Federal states and nations can be quite robust in the long term—whether or not neighboring unitary and autocratic states like Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Iran recognize federative potential for future security or not. The U.S. in Iraq has already a strong positive link with the Kurdish region. It is up to the U.S. to throw all of its effort into building a positive relationship with the other regional actors and regional tribes and governments.

The most important fact for U.S. federal and foreign policy to recognize is that federal states almost never go to war with each other.

Second, federal states—either autocratic or democratic ones—(as long as they remain federal) will tend to become more democratic over the long term or they will simply become de-facto centralized states as were the Soviet Union and Pakistan when they were federative nations.

The only negative caveat is that some weaker federal states tend to fall into civil war.

On the other hand, stronger federal states, like Switzerland and Canada never fall into civil war.

Further, the history of the United States has included consistent positive impulses to renewing federalism--often in the wake of centrist government-led imperialistic misadventures abroad. Recall how the debacle of the Vietnam War helped lead to calls for greater federal balance and stronger balance between the branches of governance in the U.S.A. starting in the early to mid-1970s.

Similarly, Germany re-embraced federalism in the late 1940s after the Nazi-centrists under Hitler step-by-step totally ridded both German and Austrian governments of federalism throughout the 1930s.

Finally, having federations fall apart is not always a bad thing. Two recent examples of this include the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1991-1992 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in that same period.

In conclusion, both Gulf Arabs and Americans need to discuss the positive aspects of building federal states, just as members of the European have been doing for nearly 60 years. Perhaps, they could even invite their Persian and Turkish neighbors to such a table eventually.

Meanwhile, not only do I look forward to us all getting under a big tent and agreeing as to how both democracy and the promotion of positive aspects of federalism can solve not only problems in Iraq or the Middle East. I am also looking forward to the day when Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans can demand a federal approach to cross border relations and NAFTA—in contrast to the current centrist or top-down approach we have had to date.


Cascades’ Civil War Muster,

Covenant Theology,

Elazar, Daniel J., Publius, Vol. 14, No. 4, Federated States and International Relations (Autumn, 1984), pp. 1-4.



Gatling Gun,

Gatling Gun History,

Michigan in the Civil War Message Board,

Stoda, Kevin, A Federalist Peace Theory 1946-1992,

The 7th Michigan Infantry,