2018

Spies

In many books that I have read, as I am sure you have too, whether they are novels or historical accounts, they confirmed how Spies were always an integral part of any government be it the Greek, Roman, Persian, Arab, Ottoman or all the other Empires, and that they were mainly used for infiltrating the “enemy,” whomever that happened to be. Twenty-one centuries into our existence on this planet and it is still the same. This should not be surprising since we humans have not altered neither our basic behavior, nor the way we conduct our affairs. Simply put, we have replaced etching on cave walls with typing on keyboards; and we replaced sending out smoke signals and drumbeats to warn of enemy activity with Spies of all kinds: drones, satellites, bots, cameras, humans and what have you. Yes, indeed, we are using modern gizmos instead of stone-age tools to achieve a similar objective. Clichéd: The more things change, the more they are the same, aren’t they?

Estelle Getty, Sophia, on the funny television series: Golden Girls, used to say: “Let me tell you a story. Sicily 1912. Picture this.” So, I’m going to adopt her words today and say: Let me tell you a story. Beirut in the fifties and sixties. Picture this . . . American CIA operatives (almost always known in little Beirut where there was nothing really covert) languishing at the St. George Beach Club (and many of Beirut’s bars), living “la vida loca,” drinking and frolicking around, talking to their “informants” who were mostly unscrupulous journalists, petty businessmen and corrupt politicians . . . and at the end of the day typing their reports to their bosses in Washington, DC who formulated some of their policies, assassinations, revolutions and wars based on these flimsy, superficial interpretations of regional politics. Do we wonder why then the Middle East (other than Communism, Oil and Israel) is in a shambles?! And, after the Civil War devastated that comfortable oasis in Lebanon, the Spies just packed up and moved to another sanctuary in Dubai!

The CIA has always solicited informants to learn things and to counter their eternal nemesis: “Soviet sponsored messaging and propaganda.” This Soviet messaging doesn’t seem to have been very successful, though, since we’re not all Communists, right?? Perhaps we merely get off on creating a threat, whatever that is, in order to be in a state of perpetual war? Anyway, Writers and Activists were a very good source for “The Company.” Gloria Steinem, one of the icons of the Women’s Liberation Movement, was once one of their informants who, after she quit, said that the CIA during her time was “liberal, non-violent and honorable.” I do not doubt that many, if not most, of the CIA (FBI, police, security etc. etc.) agents and employees are honest, patriotic people with integrity and honor. However, there are also some – mainly in the upper echelons – who have been overtaken by hubris and lust for power, and who are besmirching “The Company” and causing many of the American people, as well as the international community, to believe that they have become just another corrupt tool of the US Government. Hubris is dangerous! Always has been!

Some of the well-known Spies that we are aware of: Ian Fleming, who caused us to fall in love with that suave Spy, James Bond; Roald Dahl, who it is said, slept his way to gathering information from numerous women; Ernest Hemingway, who, it is said, also spied for the Russians; Frederick Forsyth; Graham Greene; John le Carre; Noel Coward and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. These guys, like their counterparts on Beirut’s beaches, seem to have lived – in retrospect, of course – those dashing, romantic, café-dwelling, bar-hopping, womanizing days of Spydom!

Should we be so naïve as to think that our CIA and our FBI do not solicit Writers and Activists anymore? That they don’t have agents working in all venues of our media? That they have not infiltrated organizations and activist associations? That human beings remain one of their most important “assets?” No, for not much has changed since the fifties and sixties!

All sorts of espionage and counter-espionage are going on in our world, and all the major world players are playing this creepy game and following the same basic script. The US is not the only country to have ever done this. However, the US believes that It, and only It, is allowed to do this. So we get mortified when we find out that we do not hold any exclusive rights to this enterprise of suspicion, intrigue and secrets. How naïve and arrogant is that?

In today’s world, when we go on social media, in any of its forms, we are being spied upon by numerous sources, whether they are advertisers, our surveillance industry, or foreign spy agencies et al. Here, in the US, government spying is being executed in collaboration with the head honchos of the social media corporations. However, when we agree to the “Terms and Conditions” of all these companies, we have automatically agreed to be spied upon, because somewhere unobtrusive and written in slick legalese language, is our permission for them to do so.

Moreover, nowadays, Spydom, as well as other organizations, also use/subsidize Hollywood and television movie creations. These productions generally demonstrate how efficiently and conscientiously these organizations operate; how heroic, ethical and moral they are. And there is no doubt in my mind that they largely execute their work ethically, while their successes and achievements mostly go unnoticed, and the corrupt individuals and behaviors in their ranks get the most notoriety. This is, of course, very unfair. However, it also proves that because all such enterprises are made up of ordinary members from our society there are bound to be those amongst them who are rotten, racist, corrupt and driven by their ideology, greed and/or personal gratification just the same as it is amongst the regular population.

There are also those amongst us, the ordinary population, who take great pleasure in undermining law enforcement across the board. This is hysteria, for I do not even want to imagine a world where there is no law enforcement, and believe me, you wouldn’t want to either if you have ever been in a Civil War! However, I do not want a law enforcement that shoots unarmed black kids and men because of racism; or a law enforcement that silences protests and protesters; nor one that hauls people off to jail for no reason and just because they are in cahoots with the corporate for-profit jails that we have. The recent Cop Corruption case in Baltimore is just one example of how our police can become abusers and law-breakers. The same is said about the cops in Chicago, as well as in San Francisco. That is truly unacceptable, because what we want, and need, is a law enforcement that is based on democratic law, whether it is our cops, the CIA, FBI, or any other governmental agency. So how do we stop law enforcement from becoming a corrupt and oppressive tool?

The primary cure for eradicating corruption on all levels rests, mainly, on our shoulders and behaviors as human beings, and one way to express our discontent is to voice it out loudly, to participate in our communities in whatever capacity, to be really aware, and to vote for honest people to represent us in government. In order to do that, we have to remove our blinders and stop being “sheeple” who can be swayed this way, or that, or the other. This is not as easy as it sounds because we are all emotional beings, and I am as guilty as the next person of sometimes making bad judgments.

Meanwhile: Picture this. A World waking up and deciding that all Wars, Terror and the Promotion of Violence have to come to an end, and that Justice, Transparency, Negotiations and Compromises must become what shapes our existence and destiny. Judging from the view across this sorry planet, it does not seem as if we are all calming down, lowering the heat and letting the steam out off the pressure cooker that is our stressed world! Ah, Maturity, Wisdom and Reason! You have sadly been replaced by more war-mongering, hate, scandals, suspicion, tribalism and more Spies! To what sordid end? Only for more malfeasance and unnecessary tragedy.

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2018

Shitholes Galore!

It seems to me that almost every other day, the President of these United States blurts out some words that send the world into a tizzy! I listen to all the gazillion hours spent repeating his words and commenting on them and I sigh with exasperation!

My question to our inane and corrupt mainstream media, as well as to every commentator puffing himself/herself up in front of the cameras and spouting off their superfluous opinions is: What’s New? We have been hearing Trump’s words for over two years now, and, meanwhile, the sky has not fallen . . . yet! Moreover, you don’t have to be an agent at the FBI’s BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) to draw his profile: he is Impetuous, Rash, Brash, Crass, Vulgar and Incendiary. Consistently! So, again, what’s new?

The answer is: Nothing! Merely that his every utterance and tweet becomes instantaneous fodder for the inane multitudes; advertising income for the non-news, gossiping, superficial, artificial mainstream media; and, another moment for one corrupt politician or another to stand in front of the cameras and show how indignant he/she is before getting on the phone to solicit donations (bribes) for his/her campaign! Hypocrisy galore!

Yes, outside the majority “White” inhabited world, most of our Planet is made up of Shithole countries. Trump is exactly right! Briefly, our President is not the first White man to believe this. Not at all! He just blurts it out tactlessly – as he does everything else –  while others are more sinister and underhanded about it, such as our allies the Brits and the Israelis with whom I have had firsthand experience.

The prevalent perceptions of the non-white world agree with our President, however, they also wonder, and I concur, whether anyone links (a very important and underused word in the English language) that Imperialist mindset – which is inherently racist and arrogant – with the consistent and systematic conviction that all of us black, brown and colored people are Shitty and that we come from Shitholes? We question the President whether he is aware that the hundreds of years of relentless Supremacy and Colonialism by White overlords, which have ravaged, sickened, impoverished and drained all those Shitholes that were occupied through the barrels of lethal guns, could have had anything to do with these conditions? And, that, moreover, we believe that our Occupiers were convinced that they had the God-given right to take over our lands while advocating, and often imposing, their version of Christianity? (I myself wonder what malicious god gave them this right, because I don’t want anything to do with that Evil, Wicked Being?!!) Nevertheless, our perception, as proven by on the ground facts that have been demonstrated for hundreds of years, is that Trump suffers from that same Colonist Syndrome, as do many, many others of the White political leadership – many of whom are still in our Senate and Congress, in the British Parliament and in the Israeli Knesset. Therefore, infuriating as Trump’s Shithole designation is, its basic Imperialist sentiment is nothing new, and it has been written and talked about by honest journalists and writers for decades. Besides, his latest adjective du jour has given me yet another opportunity to spout off my anger at those who have destroyed the Middle East; an anger that no one who has not experienced the generational evils of Colonization firsthand can fully understand.

Still, deriding people by voicing those insensitive words, sounds pretty offensive. We all love wherever it is that we came from. Most of us are here because we are Exiles from our countries. We would Not have chosen to be here had our nations not been in dire situations, mainly due to the belligerent and very wicked efforts of White Imperialism.

The huge farce that de-Colonization occurred in the mid twentieth century is exactly that: a farce. An illusion. While the foreign armies might have withdrawn, they were quickly and methodically replaced by corrupt local generals and politicians; by the CIA, the FBI, the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, Evangelical Missionaries, many of the NGOs and all those other nefarious organizations that are sucking the very life out of all the Shitholes. Yes, European Colonialism ended only to be replaced by American neo-Colonialism that has been rampaging unabated all over the non-white world.

What Trump said isn’t Shameful. It is not Shocking either. We cannot concentrate on the vile words and forget the entire history of Colonialism; the Superior, White, English-speaking, Christian (the White man’s extremely distorted version of it) doctrine that engendered it and that continues its unrelenting looting of the world’s resources with every bullet fired on the Shitholes of the world under the guise of killing its many self-created “enemies” who want to deprive it of “our way of life” and prevent it from spreading “freedom and democracy” while thriving on blood money garnered through the world’s impoverishment and anguish.

The real and imminent danger to our American way of life is our insatiable appetite for Greed, Power and World Dominance; for protecting our “plantations;” and for enslaving the millions of black, brown and colored people of the world while denigrating their cultures, languages, religions, traditions and humanity.

Indeed, America, your hypocrisy, misdeeds and screwed up foreign policies have left the billions dwelling in the Shitholes you created with nothing but hatred, frustration, anger, and helplessness. All those inhabitants of the Shitholes – except for the puppets who are your allies – hate you from the bottom of their shattered hearts. And, their abhorrence is increased exponentially because they know that they cannot stand up to the power of your lethal weaponry. How will all that translate itself? Will the ideological, patriotic, proud elements within the Shitholes of the world evolve themselves into a force that could, one of those days, stand up for their rights and reclaim back their nations? Or, is it more plausible that the salvation for this anguished world will come, primarily, from within the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel? Will your own citizens become all the more disgusted with your criminal clandestine behavior and demand that you conduct yourself better? After all, haven’t we all learned that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? Karma? Who knows, for the arc of history is a long and patient one.

What saddens me above all is that most of the citizens of these Shithole countries, as well as us Exiles, like and admire the United States. However, we are all being daily turned off by abhorrent designations and barbaric behavior. Why do this? Willful blindness, or a stubborn denial of culpability? Why continue on this warpath of killings, criminal behavior and disgusting attitudes that are only enflaming our Planet even more? It is totally senseless, especially when we all know that there are more peaceful and just alternatives for all of us, within or without, the Shitholes!

Must Reading:

Chalmers Johnson: The Sorrows of Empire
Eduardo Galeano: Open Veins of Latin America
Ofra Yeshua-Lyth: Politically Incorrect
Suzy Hansen: Notes on a Foreign Country