by Jim Fetzer
Something is wrong at Veterans Today. A former Marine, who has published many articles here, was slammed by Gordon Duff and by Jim Dean for perpetrating “a hoax” by raising concerns about this mysterious “training op” called JADE HELM. I admire VT and like Gordon personally, although from time to time we have a divergence in our point of view. I have never felt as positive about Jim Dean because, as an old-time reporter and editor, he has come across to me as having an anti-academic prejudice, which I as a former professor have sensed from our initial encounters. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. But let’s consider the case of this article and its author, Robert O’Dowd. Although I had not read any of his work at VT before, I thought it was raising a perfectly appropriate issue as to whether or not JADE HELM, which is an operation that covers at least seven states (and now seems to have expanded to five or six more) could possibly be the cover for imposing martial law under the pretext of conducting operations in urban settings, which are meant to train personnel “for foreign operations”, where nothing about this has struck me as right from the beginning. As a consequence, I was glad to see he had published about it: But I could hardly believe the response from Gordon and Jim. Not only did they “tag team” Robert and imply that he had been played for a sap but asserted that, “We have checked our sources who would be in a position to know if something like this were going on, and it categorically is not.” The problem with this approach is that we ordinary readers are not in the position to verify “their sources”. This is a classic appeal to authority, where we are supposed to take their word for it. And while I might be disposed to accept those assurances on routine matters, in this instance, the case of JADE HELM is anything but “routine”.
Jim Dean piles on
It further astonished me that Jim Dean would reiterate his and Gordon’s position in both the facebook and ordinary comments sections on O’Dowd’s article, which you can easily confirm for yourself. This left some readers, such as Bonny Amey, at a loss as to exactly what was going on. And, indeed, others expressed concern, even in the ordinary comments section, where O’Dowd (in my view, with complete justification) submitted his resignation as a journalist for VT on facebook, explaining that he did not appreciate being used as a whipping boy for having published “a bogus story”, especially when the facts are still in doubt:
So is this “a bogus story”?
The fellow who seems to be arranging this op and speaking about it in public is one Tony Mead, where his characterization of “JADE HELM” is reasonably elaborate, involving the use of Army Green Berets, Navy SEALS and representatives of the other branches of the US military, which suggests that those who have asserted that this only involves “the national guard” appear to be wrong. Indeed, if what he is telling us in this video presentation is correct, then the appeal to “the national guard” is a bogus story, which troubles me because I heard it from Gordon Duff. But perhaps he had not looked into the situation deeply enough.
If Gordon had not looked into the situation “deeply enough”, however, then it makes no sense for him to have attacked Robert’s article and assailed him as a dupe who was pushing “a bogus story”. I was troubled enough by all of this that I brought together a group of four guests, including Terri from Nebraska (who had sent me many links), Robert O’Dowd himself (as the one who had raised this issue on VT), Preston James (whom I regard as one of the most astute intellects I have ever known), and last but not least (as a late arrival), Dennis Cimino (with whom I have co-authored multiple articles here) to try to sort all this out:
While I think we made progress in sorting this out, none of our considerations supported the idea that this was “a bogus story” and that no one should be concerned. It came as news to me when my producer, Chance, observed that a parallel operation is taking place in Canada under the name of “Maple Resolve”, which includes closing some 133 Target Stores, not merely for the two months the operation is officially supposed to run but for nine months at the cost of some 17,000 jobs, where their former employees are even being encouraged to find other lines of work. In my opinion, this alters the equation and leaves no doubt:
What conclusion should we draw?
Several features of “the big picture” strike me as enormously important. Walmart and Target are stores with mass appeal for the middle and lower class of both Canadian and American society. That some 15 Walmarts should be taken over in the United States alone and now another 133 Targets in Canada is alarming! There is nothing “bogus” about this story. And other sources, such as David Hodges’ “Common Sense Show” have made equally telling observations about the redistribution of resources for a purported “training op” when it entails the dismissal of 17,000 employees, who no doubt are being left in desperate straits:
So what conclusions do I draw from my investigations to this date? Gordon Duff and Jim Dean were wrong to censor Robert O’Dowd, whose article was entirely appropriate for a journal devoted to “clandestine activities”. JADE HELM is not a “training op” but something far more serious. When you calculate the profits per store to Walmart and to Target, they are taking an enormous hit, which can only be for some transcendent purpose that override “the conduct of business as usual”. (We are talking about billions of dollars in lost profits, not to mention the loss of highly qualified, experienced personnel to stock products, to resupply those facilities and to process check outs and deliveries.) As an investigative journalist for Veterans Today, I am committed to doing my best to expose the truth, even when it conflicts with the views of Gordon Duff and Jim Dean, who are at liberty to deal with me as severely as they dealt with Robert O’Dowd. I am committed to serve my nation and its best interests, which I do, come what may.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Here are the key points about JADE HELM:
The Potential Outcome of this Maneuver?
The time is now to withdraw your consent and participation in such fear and obeisance mongering.
http://anonhq.com/ Real American heroes do not wear uniforms or carry weapons, they tell the truth and fight tyranny.
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The following text was presented to the Public Forum on:
America’s War on Terror and the Urgency of World Peace: Its Ramification in the Philippines.
Social Sciences, University of the Philippines (UP-Cebu), March 2, 2015
March 2, 2015
The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. U.S. and NATO forces are deployed in Eastern Europe including Ukraine. U.S. military intervention under a humanitarian mandate is proceeding in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. and its allies are threatening China under President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”.
America’s “war on terrorism” is a hegemonic project, under a fake counter-terrrorism agenda which consists in going after al Qaeda entities which “threaten Western civilization”.
Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.
Under a global military agenda, the actions undertaken by the Western military alliance (U.S.-NATO-Israel) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq are coordinated at the highest levels of the military hierarchy.
We are not dealing with piecemeal military and intelligence operations. The July-August 2014 attack on Gaza by Israeli forces was undertaken in close consultation with the United States and NATO. The actions in Ukraine and their timing coincided with the onslaught of the attack on Gaza, Syria and Iraq.
In turn, military undertakings are closely coordinated with a process of economic warfare which consists not only in imposing sanctions on sovereign countries but also in deliberate acts of destabilization of financial and currencies markets, with a view to undermining the enemies’ national economies.
Our analysis in this article will largely be geared towards refuting the myth that the United States is waging “a Global War on Terrorism”. The evidence amply confirms that the the United States of America is a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” and that the campaign against the Islamic State is a smokescreen used by the US and its allies to justify in the eyes of public opinion its global war of conquest.
The Global War on Terrorism has become a consensus. It is part of war propaganda. It is also used by Western governments to justify and implement “anti-terrorist” legislation. It is the cornerstone of the West’s demonization campaign directed against Muslims.
It should also be understood that the “Global War on Terrorism” supports a process of “economic conquest”, whereby countries forego their sovereignty.
Their national economies are “taken over by foreign investors”.
Their assets are confiscated, austerity measures are imposed and a process of macro-economic restructuring under the helm of Wall Street and the Bretton Woods institutions are implemented.
US sponsored terrorism creates factional divisions within national societies.
Countries are impoverished and destabilized. National institutions are undermined as part of a US led war of conquest.
The evidence presented in this article, including the historical review, is intended to fully reveal the “Big Lie”.
Beyond doubt, the “Global War on Terrorism” is a fabrication. The United States of America is the “Number One” State Sponsor of Terrorism.
Michel Chossudovsky, University of the Philippines, UP-Cebu, March 1st 2015
The Global War on Terrorism: Obama’s Crusade against the Islamic State (ISIS)
The U.S. airstrikes initiated in September 2014 directed against Iraq and Syria under the pretext of going after the Islamic State are part of a scenario of military escalation extending from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to Central and South Asia.
Since August 2014, the US Air Force with the support of a coalition of more than twenty countries has relentlessly waged an intensified air campaign against Syria and Iraq allegedly targeting the Islamic State brigades.
According to Defense News, over 16,000 airstrikes were carried out from August 2014 to mid January 2015. Sixty percent of the air strikes were conducted by the US Air Force using advanced jet fighter and bombing capabilities (Aaron Mehta, “A-10 Performing 11 Percent of Anti-ISIS Sorties”. Defense News, January 19, 2015.)
The airstrikes have been casually described by the media as part of a “soft” counter-terrorism operation, rather than an act of all out war directed against Syria and Iraq.
This large scale air campaign which has resulted in countless civilian casualties has been routinely misreported by the mainstream media. According to Max Boot, senior fellow in national security at the Council on Foreign Relations. ”Obama’s strategy in Syria and Iraq is not working… [ because] the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS has been remarkably restrained”. (Newsweek, February 17, 2015, emphasis added).
Americans are led to believe that the Islamic State constitutes a formidable force confronting the US military and threatening Western Civilization. The thrust of media reporting is that the US Air Force has failed and that “Obama should get his act together” in effectively confronting this ”Outside Enemy” of America.
According to CFR Max Boot, military escalation is the answer: what is required is for the president “to dispatch more aircraft, military advisers, and special operations forces, while loosening the restrictions under which they operate.” (Ibid)
What kind of aircraft are involved in the air campaign? The F-16 Fighting Falcon,(above right), The F-15E Strike Eagle (image below) , The A-10 Warthog, not to mention Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor stealth tactical fighter aircraft.
Why has the US Air Force not been able to wipe out the Islamic State which at the outset was largely equipped with conventional small arms not to mention state of the art Toyota pickup trucks?
From the very outset, this air campaign has NOT been directed against ISIS. The evidence confirms that the Islamic State is not the target. Quite the opposite.
The air raids are intended to destroy the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria.
The USAF-15E Strike Eagle
We call on our readers to carefully reflect on the following image, which describes the Islamic State convoy of pickup trucks entering Iraq and crossing a 200 km span of open desert which separates the two countries.
This convoy entered Iraq in June 2014.
What would have been required from a military standpoint to wipe out a ISIS convoy with no effective anti-aircraft capabilities?
Without an understanding of military issues, common sense prevails.
If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June.
The answer is pretty obvious, yet not a single mainstream media has acknowledged it.
The Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map right). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, F16) it would have been –from a military standpoint– ”a piece of cake”, a rapid and expedient surgical operation, which would have decimated the Islamic State convoys in a matter of hours.
Instead what we have witnessed is an ongoing drawn out six months of relentless air raids and bombings, and the terrorist enemy is apparently still intact.
(In comparison, the NATO bombing raids of Yugoslavia in 1999 lasted about three months (March 24-June 10, 1999).
And we are led to believe that the Islamic State cannot be defeated by a powerful US led military coalition of more than 20 countries.
The air campaign was not intended to decimate the Islamic State.
The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One “State Sponsor of Terrorism”.
The Islamic State is not only protected by the US and its allies, it is trained and financed by US-NATO, with the support of Israel and Washington’s Persian Gulf allies.
Al Qaeda Afiliated Entities are “Intelligence Assets. Instruments of US Intelligence
The Global War on Terrorism is a Fabrication used to justify a war of conquest. The Jihadist terrorists are “Made in America”. They are instruments of US intelligence, yet they are presented to public opinion as “enemies of America”.
The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of a US-NATO bombing campaign under a “counter-terrorism” mandate, continues to be supported covertly by the US. Washington and its allies continue to provide military aid to the Islamic State.
US and allied bombings are not targeting the ISIL, they are bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria including factories and oil refineries.
The IS caliphate project is part of a longstanding US foreign policy agenda to carve up Iraq and Syria into separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, a Republic of Kurdistan.
These various affiliated Al Qaeda entities in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are CIA sponsored “intelligence assets”. They are used by Washington to wreck havoc, create internal conflicts and destabilize sovereign countries.
Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (supported by NATO in 2011), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia, among other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence.
The US is also supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. The underlying objective is to trigger political instability in Western China.
Chinese jihadists are reported to have received “terrorist training” from the Islamic State “in order to conduct attacks in China”. The declared objective of these Chinese-based jihadist entities (which serves the interests of the US) is to establish a Islamic caliphate extending into Western China. (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, Chapter 2).
Flashback to 1979: The History of Al Qaeda
The US has supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations for more than thirty years: since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war.
CIA training camps were set up in Pakistan, in liaison with Pakistan’s Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI). In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan jihad.
“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad.”
Lest we forget, Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman and founder of Al Qaeda was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihadist war against Afghanistan . He was 22 years old and was indoctrinated in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp. Al Qaeda was a creation of US intelligence, which was put together with the support of Pakistani and Saudi intelligence:
“[I]t was the government of the United States which supported Pakistani dictator General Zia-ul Haq in creating thousands of religious schools from which the germs of Taliban emerged.” (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), RAWA Statement on the Terrorist Attacks In the US, Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), http://globalresearch.ca/articles/RAW109A.html , 16 September 2001)
Since the Carter Administration, Washington has supported the Islamic terror network
Ronald Reagan called the terrorists “freedom fighters”. The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades. It was all for “a good cause”: fighting the Soviet Union and regime change, leading to the demise of a secular government in Afghanistan.
Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)
Front row, from left: Major Gen. Hamid Gul, director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Willian Webster; Deputy Director for Operations Clair George; an ISI colonel; and senior CIA official, Milt Bearden at a Mujahideen training camp in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1987. (source RAWA)
“We Created Al Qaeda to Fight the Soviets in Afghanistan”
In 1979, President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski confirmed on CNN that the U.S. organized and supported Bin Laden and the other originators of “Al Qaeda” in the 1970s to fight the Soviets:
“We know of their deep belief in god – that they’re confident that their struggle will succeed. – That land over-there is yours – and you’ll go back to it some day, because your fight will prevail, and you’ll have your homes, your mosques, back again, because your cause is right, and god is on your side.”
“CIA director and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed in his memoir that the U.S. backed the Mujahideen in the 1970s.” (See Washington Blog, Sleeping With the Devil: How U.S. and Saudi Backing of Al Qaeda Led to 9/11, September 5, 2012).
Under Reagan’s NSDD 166, US assistance to the Islamic brigades channelled through Pakistan was not limited to bona fide military aid. Washington also contributed –through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)– to financing the process of religious indoctrination, largely to secure the demise of secular institutions. (Michel Chossudovsky, 9/11 ANALYSIS: From Ronald Reagan and the Soviet-Afghan War to George W Bush and September 11, 2001, Global Research, September 09, 2010)
Religious schools were generously funded by the US. Jihadist textbooks were published by the University of Nebraska. According to the The Washington Post (2002 reported):
… the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.
The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books…
The White House defends the religious content, saying that Islamic principles permeate Afghan culture and that the books “are fully in compliance with US law and policy.” Legal experts, however, question whether the books violate a constitutional ban on using tax dollars to promote religion.
… AID officials said in interviews that they left the Islamic materials intact because they feared Afghan educators would reject books lacking a strong dose of Muslim thought. The agency removed its logo and any mention of the U.S. government from the religious texts, AID spokeswoman Kathryn Stratos said.
“It’s not AID’s policy to support religious instruction,” Stratos said. “But we went ahead with this project because the primary purpose . . . is to educate children, which is predominantly a secular activity.”
… Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtun, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska -Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $ 51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994.” (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)
Picture above is translated as follows: “Jihad – Often many different wars and conflicts arise among people, which cause material damages and loss of human life. If these wars and disputes occur among people for the sake of community, nation, territory, or even because of verbal differences, and for the sake of progress…”
This page is from a third-grade language arts textbook dating from the mujahidin period. A copy of the book was purchased new in Kabul in May 2000.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations in the wake of the US 2001 invasion,”New madrassas sprouted, funded and supported by Saudi Arabia and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, where students were encouraged to join the Afghan resistance.
Washington’s Agenda: Destabilize Secular Institutions. Install an Islamic State in Afghanistan. The Role of the Wahhabi Missions
US military intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s was supported by the Wahhabi missionaries out of Saudi Arabia, which trained the Taliban (‘graduates”) in the US sponsored madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Wahhabi doctrine would not have spread in the way it did without the support of US intelligence.
Saudi Arabia worked closely with Washington in recruiting the Mujahideen (holy warriors) to fight against the Soviet Union. The Saudi monarchy enlisted the support of the religious authorities. Fatwas were issued;
”urging Saudi and non-Saudi youths to go to Afghanistan and carry out jihad there. And it praised those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of Islamic nation’s causes.” (Al-Quds al-Arabi, op cit)
Confirmed by the Afghan Project (http://nsarchive.chadwyck.com/afintro.htm ), which has collected hundreds of CIA and State Department documents, cables and memoranda, the CIA developed from the late 1970s, ties with a number of Islamic organizations. The objective was to use “Islamic fundamentalist” doctrine to unseat the secular pro-Soviet People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government as well as unleash a war with the Soviet Union. The same strategy of supporting Islamic political movements was used by Washington in the post-Cold War era in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union as well in Bosnia and Kosovo.
The CIA led war on Afghanistan largely contributed to destroying secular education. The number of CIA sponsored religious schools (madrassas) increased from 2,500 in 1980 to over 39,000 [in 2001]. (Michel Chossudovsky, 9/11 ANALYSIS: From Ronald Reagan and the Soviet-Afghan War to George W Bush and September 11, 2001, Global Research, September 09, 2010)
Women’s Rights in Afghanistan
The CIA-led war on Afghanistan was largely conducive to the derogation of Women’s Rights.
Before the Taliban came to power, Afghan women lived a life in many ways similar to that of Western women (see pictures below):
In the 1980s, Kabul was “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs.” There were female members of parliament, and women drove cars, and travelled and went on dates, without needing to ask a male guardian for permission. (Julie Levesque, Women Rights: From Afghanistan to Syria: Women’s Rights, War Propaganda and the CIA, Global Research, April 2014)
Kabul University 1980s
Women in Kabul today
Al Qaeda and The Islamic State
“The Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.
U.S. sponsored Al Qaeda terror brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence since the 1980s) have been deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen. Al Qaeda affiliated organizations have also been deployed in several Asian countries including China and Indonesia.
The Islamic State (ISIS) was originally an Al Qaeda affiliated entity created by US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-’Āmah ( رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة).
In relation to the Syrian insurgency, the Islamic State fighters together with the Al Qaeda affiliated jihadist forces of the Al Nusrah Front are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance. They are covertly supported by US-NATO-Israel. Their mandate is to wage a terrorist insurgency against the government of Bashar al-Assad. The atrocities committed by Islamic State fighters in Iraq are similar to those committed in Syria. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors.
The ISIS brigades were involved in the US-NATO supported insurgency in Syria directed against the government of Bashar al Assad. NATO and the Turkish High Command were responsible for the recruitment of ISIL and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011.
According to Israeli intelligence sources, this initiative consisted in:
“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)
There are Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives within the ranks of the ISIL. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria.
Western military specialists on contract to the Pentagon have trained the ISIS and Al Nusrah terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.
“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)
Recruited by America’s ally, a large number of ISIS mercenaries are convicted criminals released from Saudi prisons on condition they join the ISIL. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join the terror brigades.
The Islamic State is routinely funded by the US, invariably through indirect sources. According to a recent (January 28, 2015) report by Pakistan’s Express Tribune (affiliated to the international Herald Tribune)
Yousaf al Salafi – allegedly the Pakistan commander of Islamic State (IS) or Daish – has confessed during investigations that he has been receiving funds through the United States.
Law enforcing agencies on January 22 claimed that they arrested al Salafi, along with his two companions, during a joint raid in Lahore. However, sources revealed that al Salafi was actually arrested sometimes in December last year and it was only disclosed on January 22.
“During the investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organisation in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria,” a source privy to the investigations revealed to Daily Express on the condition of anonymity.
…[F]rom 2007 where the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel openly conspired to stand up, fund, and arm a terrorist army to fight a proxy war against Syria and Iran, to 2015 where this army has finally manifested itself as the “Islamic State” complete with funding, arms, and fighters streaming in from NATO members, the source cited by the Tribune claiming that “the US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests,” and thus must now feign to be interested in stopping the organization in Syria, is the most compelling and logical explanation available.
The State Sponsors of Terrorism: Who’s Who
George W. Bush and the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
The late Saudi King Abdullah was known to have supported and financed Al Qaeda in liaison with the Washington. Saudi intelligence played a key role in this regard.
The House of Saud provides financial aid to the terrorists. And so does the bin Laden family. According to The Washington based CATO Institute (November 2001) Saudi Arabia is a “prime sponsor of terrorism”
The U.S. government has warned that it will treat regimes that harbor or assist terrorist organizations the same way that it treats the organizations themselves. Yet if Washington is serious about that policy, it ought to regard Saudi Arabia as a State sponsor of international terrorism. Indeed, that country should have been included for years on the U.S. State Department’s annual list of governments guilty of sponsoring terrorism.
We recall that in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush stated in no uncertain terms that “State sponsors of terrorism” would be considered as “terrorists”.
“We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”.
But there is always an “Exception that the Proves the Rule” and that is George W. Bush himself.
When George W. Bush respectfully kisses King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, does this mean that Dubya could –by some stretch of the imagination– be considered a “suspected terrorist”, who should never have been elected president of the United States of America?
The answer is negative: Kissing “State sponsors of terrorism” on the mouth is not defined by the FBI as “suspicious behavior”.
The Insidious Relationship between the Bush and bin Laden Families
Now let us turn our attention to the relationship between the Bush and bin Laden families.
The Bushes and bin Ladens are long-time friends. This relationship goes back to George H. W. Bush, who served as head of the CIA in the Ford administration, before becoming Vice President under the Reagan administration and President of the United States (1989-1993).
George W. Bush Junior had business dealings in the oil industry dating back to the late 1970s, at the time when his father Bush Senior was head of the CIA:
The wider bin Laden clan [was] closely tied to the Saudi royal family. According to Seymour Hersh … it is far from clear that the royal family, … has forsaken Muslim extremists. Indeed, some members of the royal family itself are said to bankroll Osama bin Laden. … The Saudi monarchy, Hersh reports, has also quietly resisted U.S. efforts to conduct background checks of Saudi suspects in the wake of September 11. While much remains to be learned about these shadowy connections, it is clear that any investigation of the bin Laden’s family’s U.S. investments will lead to some well-placed Texans.
Like George W. Bush, the fortune of Osama bin Laden is rooted in oil and his family’s government connections. Before his death in a 1968 plane crash, Osama’s father, Mohammed bin Laden, made a fortune off construction contracts awarded by the Saudi royal family. The $5 billion per year construction conglomerate, known as the Binladin Group (the company uses another spelling of the name) remains closely tied to the Saudi royal family.
After the death of Mohammed bin Laden, control of the company passed to Salem bin Laden, Osama’s half brother. The roots of the first known Bush-bin Laden convergence date back to the mid-1970s, when the two clans were linked by a Houston businessman named James R. Bath. … By 1976, when Gerald Ford appointed the elder George Bush as CIA director, Bath was acting as a business agent for Salem bin Laden’s interests in Texas. …
After W. lost a bid for Congress, he decided to launch an oil company in Midland in 1979. For $50,000, Bath bought a 5 percent stake in W.’s Arbusto (Spanish for “Bush”) partnerships. At the time, Bath also served as business agent for several prominent Saudis, including Salem bin Laden. In exchange for a percentage of the deals, Bath made U.S. investments for these clients in his own name, according to Time. Although Bath has said that he invested his own money in Arbusto, not Saudi money, the fact that he was Salem’s agent at the time has fueled speculation that Osama bin Laden’s eldest brother was an early investor in W.’s first oil venture. It was around the time of this investment, incidentally, that Osama bin Laden made his first trip to the Khyber Pass, where he would soon join the Mujaheddin and the CIA in the holy war that expelled the Soviets from Afghanistan. (Salem, for his part, owned a house in Marble Falls, and died in a 1988 plane crash near San Antonio.) Andrew Wheat, The Bush-bin Laden Connection, Texas Observer, November 9, 2001)
The Bush-bin Laden Relationship: Flash Forward to September 10, 2001
Despite his family ties and links to the Royal Saudi household, Osama bin Laden was officially considered ”a disgrace” to members of the bin Laden family, who reluctantly provided him with “pocket money”, which was used to develop Al Qaeda (The Base). He was referred to as a “Black Sheep”.
Its all part of a “good guys project” of going after Osama, the “Black Sheep”, and waging the “Global War on Terrorism”.
There is nothing wrong, therefore, in socializing and doing business with family members of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, including the late Salem bin Laden and Shafiq bin Laden of the Carlyle Group.
Flash Forward to September 10, 2001. The Bush-bin Laden Relationship prevails. Confirmed by the Washington Post, “fellow investors” of the Carlyle Group Osama’s brother Shafiq bin Laden and former President H.G.W. Bush met at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on September 10, 2001, one day before 9/11, (see image below):
It didn’t help that as the World Trade Center burned on Sept. 11, 2001, the news interrupted a Carlyle business conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here attended by a brother of Osama bin Laden [Shafiq bin Laden]. Former president Bush [senior, see image below], a fellow investor, had been with him at the conference the previous day. (Greg Schneider, Pairing the Powerful With the Rich, Washington Post, March 16, 2003)
Shafiq bin Laden, Osama’s brother and member of the Carlyle Group meets George H. W. Bush at Ritz Carlton on September 10, 2001 (Source: Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 911)
Lest we forget, Osama bin Laden was the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks, yet his brother Shafiq bin Laden was meeting up with the presidents’s dad, former president George H. W. Bush on September 10, 2001.
A day later, on the evening of September 11, 2001, president George W. Bush pronounced a historic speech in which he defined the relationship between “terrorists’ and “state sponsors of terrorism”:
The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
Needless to say Osama’s brother Shafiq and members of the bin Laden family were flown out of Washington in government planes in the immediate wake of 9/11.
Where was Osama bin Laden on September 10, 2001
Ironically, on September 10th while brother Shafiq bin Laden and George Bush Senior were meeting at the Ritz Carleton, the alleged 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was undergoing treatment for his kidney condition at the Urology War of Pakistan’s military hospital in Rawalpindi. (according to Dan Rather, CBS News Report).
Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.
Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. On that night, says this medical worker who wanted her identity protected, they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them. She says it was treatment for a very special person. The special team was obviously up to no good.
“The military had him surrounded,” says this hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he says, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.” Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments, back and stomach problems. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, says the military was often there to help before 9/11.
AHMED RASHID, TALIBAN EXPERT: There were reports that Pakistani intelligence had helped the Taliban buy dialysis machines. And the rumor was that these were wanted for Osama bin Laden.
PETERSEN (on camera): Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they refused our request to see any records. Government officials tonight denied that bin Laden had any medical treatment on that night.
PETERSEN: The United States has no way of knowing who in Pakistan`s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Laden maybe up to the night before 9/11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the United States may not know if those same people might help him again perhaps to freedom.
Barry Petersen, CBS News, Islamabad. (CBS News quoted in Michel Chossudovsky, Where was bin Laden on 9/11, Global Research, November 16, 2003)
What this CBS report, which has largely been overlooked by analysts, suggests is that:
1) Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (ISI), which is in permanent liaison with the CIA, was complicit in protecting Osama bin Laden.
2) If the CBS report by Dan Rather is accurate and Osama had indeed been admitted to the Pakistani military hospital on September 10, 2001, courtesy of America’s ally, in all probability, his whereabouts were known to US officials.
3) The hospital was directly under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani Military, which has close links to the Pentagon. U.S. military advisers based in Rawalpindi. work closely with the Pakistani Armed Forces. Again, no attempt was made to arrest America’s best known fugitive, but then maybe bin Laden was serving another “better purpose”. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claimed at the time that Osama’s whereabout were unknown: “Its like looking for a needle in a stack of hay”.
Needless to say, the CBS report was a crucial piece of information in the 9/11 jigsaw. It refuted the administration’s claim that the whereabouts of bin Laden were unknown. It pointed to a Pakistan connection, it also suggested a cover-up at the highest levels of the Bush administration.
Bush and the “State Sponsors of Terrorism”
Ironically, in a subsequent address to the joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate on September 20, 2001, president George W. Bush stated unequivocally his administration’s intent to “pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism”, with no exceptions (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan)
Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make.
“We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make.
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.)
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime [state sponsor of terrorism]. President George W. Bush, 20 September 2001 (emphasis added)
What both presidents Bush and Obama have failed to acknowledge is that America’s staunched ally Saudi Arabia, not to mention Turkey and Israel are financing and supporting the terrorists, in liaison with Washington.
Both Bush and Obama seem to be caught up in the contradictions of their own political rhetoric, the “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” conundrum:
“I am with myself and I am also with the terrorists”
Flash Forward to March 2011: “New Normal” and the War on Syria: Supporting “Moderate Terrorists”
With the war on Syria (2011- ), establishing political ties with “State sponsors of terrorism” is considered to be part of a “New Normal”, a humanitarian endeavor intent upon unseating the secular government of Bashar al Assad and spreading American democracy throughout the Middle East.
John Kerry concurs: financial aid to Syria’s Al Nusrah, an affiliate of Al Qaeda is part of an R2P mandate.
There are now “‘good guy terrorists” and “bad guy terrorists”. Financial aid is channeled to Al Qaeda “good guy terrorists” to protect Syrians against the terrorists (New York Times, April 20, 2013)
Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain: Are They “Terror Suspects”?
Now let us examine in more detail the Al Nusrah Front, which constitutes the main rebel fighting force in Syria. Al Nusrah is affiliated to Al Qaeda. The leader of Al Nusrah, Abu Mohammad al-Golani, has pledged his allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced Osama bin Laden after his death.
According to the State Department Bureau of Counter-terrorism, Jabhat al Nusrah, the main rebel force in Syria is a terrorist organization, an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).
The State Department has issued a “prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with, al-Nusrah Front, and
the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organization that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the control of U.S. persons.” (emphasis added). It is understood that US State Department Counter-terrorism policy also applies to “state sponsors of terrorism”.
Al Nusrah is financed by Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel in close consultation with NATO and the Pentagon.
The Obama administration has openly confirmed its support for the Syrian rebels with most of this aid channeled to Al Nusrah.
US Senator John McCain is reported to have met up with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria. (see picture right)
The Role of Israel: State Sponsor of Al Nusrah and the Islamic State (ISIS)
While theoretically committed to the US-led war on terrorism, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu quite openly supports al Qaeda. The Al Nusrah and ISIS terror brigades operate out of the occupied Golan Heights.
Jihadist fighters have met Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. The IDF top brass acknowledges that “global jihad elements inside Syria” [ISIL and Al Nusrah] are supported by State of Israel. See image below:
image. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli
military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014″.
Xenophobia: The Demonization of Muslims
The US president and his NATO allies, not to mention Bejamin Netanyahu, “R the Terrorists”, they are the “state sponsors of terrorism.”.
Obama’s “counter-terrorism” campaign against the Islamic State has contributed to the demonization of Muslims, who in the eyes of Western public opinion are increasingly associated with the jihadists.
Anybody who dares to question the validity of the “Global War on Terrorism” is branded a terrorist and subjected to the anti-terrorist laws.
The ultimate objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the inquisitorial social order which rules America.
The Obama Administration has imposed a diabolical consensus with the support of its allies, not to mention the complicit role of the United Nations Security Council. The Western media has embraced the consensus; it has described the Islamic State as an independent entity, an outside enemy which threatens the Western World.
France has initiated a hate campaign against French Muslims, who represent approximately ten percent of France’s population.
While France mourns the victims of the Charlie Hebdo January 2015 attacks, the French government under the helm of president Francois Hollande is supporting as well as funding Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists in the Middle East and North Africa in liaison with the US, NATO and Israel:
France, as part of a NATO-led coalition, has been arming, funding, aiding, and otherwise perpetuating Al Qaeda terrorists for years, beginning, on record in Libya with the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and continuing until today with NATO’s arming, harboring, and backing of Al Qaeda terrorists including the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) within and along Syria’s borders.
With the recent attack in Paris likely the work of the very terrorists France has been arming and backing across North Africa and the Middle East, the French government itself stands responsible, guilty of the continued material support of a terrorist organization that has now killed French citizens, including two police officers, not only on French soil, but within the French capital itself. (Tony Cartalucci, Global Research, January 8, 2015)
Ironically, while the French media in chorus point to “Freedom of Expression” in journalism, not a single French media has had the courage of pointing to the issue of State sponsorship of terrorism by the French Republic.
The Urgency of World Peace
The antiwar movement in several Western countries is in crisis. Some of America’s wars are condemned outright, while others are heralded as “humanitarian interventions”. A significant segment of the US antiwar movement condemns the war but endorses the campaign against international terrorism, which constitutes the backbone of US military doctrine.
Historically, progressive social movements in Western countries (including the World Social Forum) have been infiltrated, their leaders co-opted and manipulated, through the corporate funding of non-governmental organizations, trade unions and political parties. The ultimate purpose of “funding dissent” is to prevent the protest movement from challenging the legitimacy of the capitalist elites.
The “Just War” theory (Jus Ad Bellum) has served to camouflage the nature of US foreign policy, while providing a human face to the invaders. The logic behind the “Global War on Terrorism” is that of a Just War. It is portrayed as a counter-terrorism initiative rather than outright military operation.
A large segment of “progressive” opinion in the US and Western Europe is supportive of NATO’s R2P “humanitarian” mandate (Responsibility to Protect) to the extent that these war plans are being carried out with the “rubber stamp” of civil society.
Prominent “progressive” authors as well independent media outlets have supported regime change and NATO sponsored humanitarian intervention in Libya. Similarly, many “progressive voices” rallied in support of the US-NATO sponsored opposition in Syria.
Let us be under no illusions: This pseudo-progressive discourse is an instrument of propaganda. Several prominent “left” intellectuals –who claim to be opposed to US imperialism– have supported the imposition of “no fly zones” and “humanitarian interventions” against sovereign countries.
“Progressives” are funded and co-opted by elite foundations including Ford, Rockefeller, et al. The corporate elites have sought to fragment the people’s movement into a vast “do it yourself” mosaic. War and globalization are no longer in the forefront of civil society activism. Activism tends to be piecemeal. There is no integrated anti-globalization anti-war movement. The economic crisis is not seen as having a relationship to the US led war.
Dissent has been compartmentalized. Separate “issue oriented” protest movements (e.g. environment, anti-globalization, peace, women’s rights, climate change) are encouraged and generously funded as opposed to a cohesive mass movement. This mosaic was already prevalent in the counter G7 summits and People’s Summits of the 1990s.
In numerous organizations including the trade union movement, the grassroots is betrayed by their leaders who are co-opted. The money trickles down from the corporate foundations, setting constraints on grassroots actions. Its called “manufacturing dissent”. Many of these NGO leaders are committed and well meaning individuals acting within a framework which sets the boundaries of dissent. The leaders of these movements are often co-opted, without even realizing that as a result of corporate funding their hands are tied.
In recent history, with the exception of Iraq, the so-called Western left namely “Progressives” have paid lip service to US-NATO military interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. “Progressives” also support the official 9/11 version of events. They deny 9/11 Truth.
“Progressives” acknowledge that the US was under attack on 9/11 and that the war on Afghanistan was a “Just War”. In the case of Afghanistan, the “self-defense” argument was accepted at face value as a legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks, without examining the fact that the US administration had not only supported the “Islamic terror network”, it was also instrumental in the installation of the Taliban government in 1995-96. It was tacitly implied that by supporting al Qaeda, Afghanistan had attacked America on September 11, 2001.
In 2001, when Afghanistan was bombed and later invaded, “progressive” organizations largely upheld the administration’s “just cause” military doctrine. In the wake of 9/11, the antiwar movement against the illegal invasion of Afghanistan was isolated. The trade unions and civil society organizations had swallowed the media lies and government propaganda. They had accepted a war of retribution against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Media disinformation prevailed. People were misled as to the nature and objectives underlying the invasion of Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were identified as the prime suspects of the 9/11 attacks, without a shred of evidence and without addressing the historical relationship between Al Qaeda and the US intelligence apparatus (as outlined above). In this regard, understanding 9/11 is crucial in formulating a consistent antiwar position. 9/11 is the pillar of US war propaganda; it sustains the illusion of an outside enemy, it justifies pre-emptive military intervention, it is the cornerstone of xenophobia and the hate campaign directed against Muslims.
With regard to Syria, from the outset in 2011, “progressives” and mainstream “antiwar” organizations have supported so-called opposition forces without acknowledging that the mainstay of these forces is composed of Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists, recruited, trained and financed by US-NATO and their allies including Israel, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
These antiwar groups, which previously supported NATO intervention in Libya, blame the Syrian government for the atrocities committed by the US sponsored Al Qaeda rebels.
Rebuilding the Antiwar Movement
What is required is to rebuild a mass movement. And this cannot be undertaken by organizations which are supported of corporate foundations and charities.
The social base as well as the organizational structure of the antiwar movement must be transformed. America’s “Long War” is an imperialist project which sustains the financial structures and institutional foundations of the capitalist World Order. Behind this military agenda are powerful corporate interests including an extensive propaganda apparatus.
War and the Economic Crisis are intimately related. The Worldwide imposition of neoliberal macro-economic policy measures is part of the broader imperial agenda. And consequently, the broader movement against neoliberalism must be integrated into the anti-war movement.
Breaking the BIG LIE, which presents war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.
The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well-organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority as well as the nature of the capitalist World order. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda – the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.
A meaningful anti-war movement requires breaking the “war on terrorism” consensus and upholding 9/11 Truth. To reverse the tide of war and globalization requires a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, schools, universities and municipalities, on the nature of the imperial project, its military and economic dimensions, not to mention the dangers of a US sponsored nuclear war. This movement must also occur within the Armed Forces (including NATO) with a view to challenging the legitimacy of the military agenda.
The message should be loud and clear:
The US and its allies are behind the Al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists who have committed countless atrocities against civilians on the specific instructions of the Western military alliance,
China and Russia are not a threat to Global Security. Neither are Syria, Iran or North Korea a threat to World Peace. Quite the opposite. The threat to Global Security emanates from the Pentagon and the US State Department.
What has to be achieved:
Reveal the criminal nature of this military project. War is a criminal undertaking under Nuremberg. It is the ultimate “Crime against the Peace”.
Undermine war propaganda, reveal the media lies, reverse the tide of disinformation, wage a consistent campaign against the corporate media. Bear in mind war propaganda is also considered a criminal act under the Nuremberg protocol
Break the legitimacy of the warmongers in high office. Indict political leaders for war crimes.
Dismantle the multibillion dollar national intelligence apparatus.
Dismantle the US-sponsored military adventure and its corporate sponsors. Bring home the troops.
Repeal the illusion that the state is committed to protecting its citizens.
Uphold 9/11 Truth. Reveal the falsehoods behind 9/11 which are used to justify the Middle East/Central Asian war under the banner of the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).
Expose how a profit-driven war serves the vested interests of the banks, the defense contractors, the oil giants, the media giants and the biotech conglomerates.
Challenge the corporate media which deliberately obfuscates the causes and consequences of this war.
Reveal and take cognizance of the unspoken and tragic outcome of a war waged with nuclear weapons.
Call for the Dismantling of NATO.
Reorganize the system of international justice which protects the war criminals. Implement the prosecution of war criminals in high office.
Close down the weapons assembly plants and implement the foreclosure of major weapons producers.
Close down all US military bases in the US and around the world.
Develop an antiwar movement within the armed forces and establish bridges between the armed forces and the civilian antiwar movement.
Forcefully pressure governments of both NATO and non-NATO countries to withdraw from the US-led global military agenda.
Develop a consistent antiwar movement in Israel. Inform the citizens of Israel of the likely consequences of a US-NATO-Israeli attack on Iran.
Target the pro-war lobby groups including the pro-Israeli groups in the US.
Dismantle the homeland security state. Repeal the legitimacy of Obama’s extrajudicial assassinations. Repeal the drone wars directed against civilians.
Undermine the “militarization of law enforcement”.
Reverse the gamut of anti-terrorist legislation in Western countries which is intended to repeal fundamental civil rights.
These are no easy tasks. They require an understanding of the power structure, of hegemonic relations between the military, intelligence, the state structures and corporate powers which are promoting this destructive agenda.
Ultimately these power relations must be undermined with a view to changing the course of World history.
Without war propaganda and media disinformation, war criminals in high office do not have leg to stand on. Without the mainstream media’s lies and fabrications, the legitimacy of the “Global War on Terrorism” would collapse like a deck of cards.
This text was presented to the Forum on America’s War on Terror and the Urgency of World Peace: Its Ramification in the Philippines.
Social Sciences, University of the Philippines (UP-Cebu), in cooperation with Cebu Educators Forum (CEF), National Union of Students of the Philippines, (NUSP), National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Visayas (NUSP), NUJP, Cebu Archdiocese, Peace Solidarity Movement, Cebu.
March 2, 2015
| By Gerald A. PerreiraThe Organization of North Atlantic Tribes (NATO) brought together the enemies of the Libyan revolution under one umbrella to achieve their desired outcome. This concoction of insignificant non-entities and murderous gangs parading as ‘jihadists’ are now fighting each other over the spoils of war. They have been handed a resource rich nation state and are now one of the major supporters of the Islamist death squads throughout the region.
Truth be told, Barak Obama is a political dunce. Soon after Obama became the first Black president of the United States, Hugo Chavez presented him with a copy of Eduardo Galeano’s excellent work, Open Veins of Latin America. Obama should have read it.
Hugo Chavez presenting Obama with a copy of Eduardo Galeano’s book, Open Veins of Latin America.
At that time, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Qaddafi and a number of other revolutionary and progressive leaders saw a…
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In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.
There is surprising – even shocking – good news: Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic, or PV, solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries. By 2020 – as the scale of deployments grows and the costs continue to decline – more than 80 percent of the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.
No matter what the large carbon polluters and their ideological allies say or do, in markets there is a huge difference between “more expensive than” and “cheaper than.” Not unlike the difference between 32 degrees and 33 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not just a difference of a degree, it’s the difference between a market that’s frozen up and one that’s liquid. As a result, all over the world, the executives of companies selling electricity generated from the burning of carbon-based fuels (primarily from coal) are openly discussing their growing fears of a “utility death spiral.”
Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse, where renewable subsidies have been especially high, now generates 37 percent of its daily electricity from wind and solar; and analysts predict that number will rise to 50 percent by 2020. (Indeed, one day this year, renewables created 74 percent of the nation’s electricity!)
What’s more, Germany’s two largest coal-burning utilities have lost 56 percent of their value over the past four years, and the losses have continued into the first half of 2014. And it’s not just Germany. Last year, the top 20 utilities throughout Europe reported losing half of their value since 2008. According to the Swiss bank UBS, nine out of 10 European coal and gas plants are now losing money.
In the United States, where up to 49 percent of the new generating capacity came from renewables in 2012, 166 coal-fired electricity-generating plants have either closed or have announced they are closing in the past four and a half years. An additional 183 proposed new coal plants have been canceled since 2005.
To be sure, some of these closings have been due to the substitution of gas for coal, but the transition under way in both the American and global energy markets is far more significant than one fossil fuel replacing another. We are witnessing the beginning of a massive shift to a new energy-distribution model – from the “central station” utility-grid model that goes back to the 1880s to a “widely distributed” model with rooftop solar cells, on-site and grid battery storage, and microgrids.
The principal trade group representing U.S. electric utilities, the Edison Electric Institute, has identified distributed generation as the “largest near-term threat to the utility model.” Last May, Barclays downgraded the entirety of the U.S. electric sector, warning that “a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar photovoltaic-power generation and residential scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo” and make utility investments less attractive.
This year, Citigroup reported that the widespread belief that natural gas – the supply of which has ballooned in the U.S. with the fracking of shale gas – will continue to be the chosen alternative to coal is mistaken, because it too will fall victim to the continuing decline in the cost of solar and wind electricity. Significantly, the cost of battery storage, long considered a barrier to the new electricity system, has also been declining steadily – even before the introduction of disruptive new battery technologies that are now in advanced development. Along with the impressive gains of clean-energy programs in the past decade, there have been similar improvements in our ability to do more with less. Since 1980, the U.S. has reduced total energy intensity by 49 percent.
It is worth remembering this key fact about the supply of the basic “fuel”: Enough raw energy reaches the Earth from the sun in one hour to equal all of the energy used by the entire world in a full year.
In poorer countries, where most of the world’s people live and most of the growth in energy use is occurring, photovoltaic electricity is not so much displacing carbon-based energy as leapfrogging it altogether. In his first days in office, the government of the newly elected prime minister of India, Narendra Modi (who has authored an e-book on global warming), announced a stunning plan to rely principally upon photovoltaic energy in providing electricity to 400 million Indians who currently do not have it. One of Modi’s supporters, S.L. Rao, the former utility regulator of India, added that the industry he once oversaw “has reached a stage where either we change the whole system quickly, or it will collapse.”
Nor is India an outlier. Neighboring Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute — making it the most rapidly growing market for PVs in the world. In West and East Africa, solar-electric cells are beginning what is widely predicted to be a period of explosive growth.
At the turn of the 21st century, some scoffed at projections that the world would be installing one gigawatt of new solar electricity per year by 2010. That goal was exceeded 17 times over; last year it was exceeded 39 times over; and this year the world is on pace to exceed that benchmark as much as 55 times over. In May, China announced that by 2017, it would have the capacity to generate 70 gigawatts of photovoltaic electricity. The state with by far the biggest amount of wind energy is Texas, not historically known for its progressive energy policies.
The cost of wind energy is also plummeting, having dropped 43 percent in the United States since 2009 – making it now cheaper than coal for new generating capacity. Though the downward cost curve is not quite as steep as that for solar, the projections in 2000 for annual worldwide wind deployments by the end of that decade were exceeded seven times over, and are now more than 10 times that figure. In the United States alone, nearly one-third of all new electricity-generating capacity in the past five years has come from wind, and installed wind capacity in the U.S. has increased more than fivefold since 2006.
For consumers, this good news may soon get even better. While the cost of carbon based energy continues to increase, the cost of solar electricity has dropped by an average of 20 percent per year since 2010. Some energy economists, including those who produced an authoritative report this past spring for Bernstein Research, are now predicting energy-price deflation as soon as the next decade.
For those (including me) who are surprised at the speed with which this impending transition has been accelerating, there are precedents that help explain it. Remember the first mobile-telephone handsets? I do; as an inveterate “early adopter” of new technologies, I thought those first huge, clunky cellphones were fun to use and looked cool (they look silly now, of course). In 1980, a few years before I bought one of the early models, AT&T conducted a global market study and came to the conclusion that by the year 2000 there would be a market for 900,000 subscribers. They were not only wrong, they were way wrong: 109 million contracts were active in 2000. Barely a decade and a half later, there are 6.8 billion globally. These parallels have certainly caught the attention of the fossil-fuel industry and its investors: Eighteen months ago, the Edison Electric Institute described the floundering state of the once-proud landline-telephone companies as a grim predictor of what may soon be their fate.
The utilities are fighting back, of course, by using their wealth and the entrenched political power they have built up over the past century. In the United States, brothers Charles and David Koch, who run Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned corporation in the U.S., have secretively donated at least $70 million to a number of opaque political organizations tasked with spreading disinformation about the climate crisis and intimidating political candidates who dare to support renewable energy or the pricing of carbon pollution.
They regularly repeat shopworn complaints about the inadequate, intermittent and inconsistent subsidies that some governments have used in an effort to speed up the deployment of renewables, while ignoring the fact that global subsidies for carbon-based energy are 25 times larger than global subsidies for renewables.
One of the most effective of the groups financed by the Koch brothers and other carbon polluters is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which grooms conservative state legislators throughout the country to act as their agents in introducing legislation written by utilities and carbon-fuel lobbyists in a desperate effort to slow, if not stop, the transition to renewable energy.
The Kochs claim to act on principles of low taxation and minimal regulation, but in their attempts to choke the development of alternative energy, they have induced the recipients of their generous campaign contributions to contradict these supposedly bedrock values, pushing legislative and regulatory measures in 34 states to discourage solar, or encourage carbon energy, or both. The most controversial of their initiatives is focused on persuading state legislatures and public-utility commissions to tax homeowners who install a PV solar cell on their roofs, and to manipulate the byzantine utility laws and regulations to penalize renewable energy in a variety of novel schemes.
The chief battleground in this war between the energy systems of the past and future is our electrical grid. For more than a century, the grid – along with the regulatory and legal framework governing it – has been dominated by electric utilities and their centralized, fossil-fuel-powered electricity-generation plants. But the rise of distributed alternate energy sources allows consumers to participate in the production of electricity through a policy called net metering. In 43 states, homeowners who install solar PV to systems on their rooftops are permitted to sell electricity back into the grid when they generate more than they need.
These policies have been crucial to the growth of solar power. But net metering represents an existential threat to the future of electric utilities, the so-called utility death spiral: As more consumers install solar panels on their roofs, utilities will have to raise prices on their remaining customers to recover the lost revenues. Those higher rates will, in turn, drive more consumers to leave the utility system, and so on.
But here is more good news: The Koch brothers are losing rather badly. In Kansas, their home state, a poll by North Star Opinion Research reported that 91 percent of registered voters support solar and wind. Three-quarters supported stronger policy encouragement of renewable energy, even if such policies raised their electricity bills.
In Georgia, the Atlanta Tea Party joined forces with the Sierra Club to form a new organization called – wait for it – the Green Tea Coalition, which promptly defeated a Koch-funded scheme to tax rooftop solar panels.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, after the state’s largest utility, an ALEC member, asked the public-utility commission for a tax of up to $150 per month for solar households, the opposition was fierce and well-organized. A compromise was worked out – those households would be charged just $5 per month – but Barry Goldwater Jr., the leader of a newly formed organization called TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed), is fighting a new attempt to discourage rooftop solar in Arizona. Characteristically, the Koch brothers and their allies have been using secretive and deceptive funding in Arizona to run television advertisements attacking “greedy” owners of rooftop solar panels – but their effort has thus far backfired, as local journalists have exposed the funding scam.
Even though the Koch-funded forces recently scored a partial (and almost certainly temporary) victory in Ohio, where the legislature voted to put a hold on the state’s renewable-portfolio standard and study the issue for two years, it’s clear that the attack on solar energy is too little, too late. Last year, the Edison Electric Institute warned the utility industry that it had waited too long to respond to the sharp cost declines and growing popularity of solar: “At the point when utility investors become focused on these new risks and start to witness significant customer- and earnings-erosion trends, they will respond to these challenges. But, by then, it may be too late to repair the utility business model.”
The most seductive argument deployed by the Koch brothers and their allies is that those who use rooftop solar electricity and benefit from the net-metering policies are “free riders” – that is, they are allegedly not paying their share of the maintenance costs for the infrastructure of the old utility model, including the grid itself. This deceptive message, especially when coupled with campaign contributions, has persuaded some legislators to support the proposed new taxes on solar panels.
But the argument ignores two important realities facing the electric utilities: First, most of the excess solar electricity is supplied by owners of solar cells during peak-load hours of the day, when the grid’s capacity is most stressed – thereby alleviating the pressure to add expensive new coal- or gas-fired generating capacity. But here’s the rub: What saves money for their customers cuts into the growth of their profits and depresses their stock prices. As is often the case, the real conflict is between the public interest and the special interest.
The second reality ignored by the Koch brothers is the one they least like to discuss, the one they spend so much money trying to obfuscate with their hired “merchants of doubt.” You want to talk about the uncompensated use of infrastructure? What about sewage infrastructure for 98 million tons per day of gaseous, heat-trapping waste that is daily released into our skies, threatening the future of human civilization? Is it acceptable to use the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet as an open sewer? Free of charge? Really?
This, after all, is the reason the climate crisis has become an existential threat to the future of human civilization. Last April, the average CO2 concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 parts-per-million on a sustained basis for the first time in at least 800,000 years and probably for the first time in at least 4.5 million years (a period that was considerably warmer than at present).
According to a cautious analysis by the influential climate scientist James Hansen, the accumulated man-made global-warming pollution already built up in the Earth’s atmosphere now traps as much extra heat energy every day as would be released by the explosion of 400,000 Hiroshima-class nuclear bombs. It’s a big planet, but that’s a lot of energy.
And it is that heat energy that is giving the Earth a fever. Denialists hate the “fever” metaphor, but as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) pointed out this year, “Just as a 1.4degree-fever change would be seen as significant in a child’s body, a similar change in our Earth’s temperature is also a concern for human society.”
Thirteen of the 14 hottest years ever measured with instruments have occurred in this century. This is the 37th year in a row that has been hotter than the 20th-century average. April was the 350th month in a row hotter than the average in the preceding century. The past decade was by far the warmest decade ever measured.
Many scientists expect the coming year could break all of these records by a fair margin because of the extra boost from the anticipated El Niño now gathering in the waters of the eastern Pacific. (The effects of periodic El Niño events are likely to become stronger because of global warming, and this one is projected by many scientists to be stronger than average, perhaps on the scale of the epic El Niño of 1997 to 1998.)
The fast-growing number of extreme-weather events, connected to the climate crisis, has already had a powerful impact on public attitudes toward global warming. A clear majority of Americans now acknowledge that man-made pollution is responsible. As the storms, floods, mudslides, droughts, fires and other catastrophes become ever more destructive, the arcane discussions over how much of their extra-destructive force should be attributed to global warming have become largely irrelevant. The public at large feels it viscerally now. As Bob Dylan sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
Besides, there is a simple difference between linear cause and effect and systemic cause and effect. As one of the world’s most-respected atmospheric scientists, Kevin Trenberth, has said, “The environment in which all storms form has changed owing to human activities.”
For example, when Supertyphoon Haiyan crossed the Pacific toward the Philippines last fall, the storm gained strength across seas that were 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they used to be because of greenhousegas pollution. As a result, Haiyan went from being merely strong to being the most powerful and destructive ocean-based storm on record to make landfall. Four million people were displaced (more than twice as many as by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 10 years ago), and there are still more than 2 million Haiyan refugees desperately trying to rebuild their lives.
When Superstorm Sandy traversed the areas of the Atlantic Ocean windward of New York and New Jersey in 2012, the water temperature was nine degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. The extra convection energy in those waters fed the storm and made the winds stronger than they would otherwise have been. Moreover, the sea level was higher than it used to be, elevated by the melting of ice in the frozen regions of the Earth and the expanded volume of warmer ocean waters.
Five years earlier, denialists accused me of demagogic exaggeration in an animated scene in my documentary An Inconvenient Truth that showed the waters of the Atlantic Ocean flooding into the 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial site. But in Sandy’s wake, the Atlantic did in fact flood Ground Zero – many years before scientists had expected that to occur.
Similarly, the inundation of Miami Beach by rising sea levels has now begun, and freshwater aquifers in low-lying areas from South Florida to the Nile Delta to Bangladesh to Indochina are being invaded by saltwater pushed upward by rising oceans. And of course, many low-lying islands – not least in the Bay of Bengal – are in danger of disappearing altogether. Where will the climate refugees go? Similarly, the continued melting of mountain glaciers and snowpacks is, according to the best scientists, already “affecting water supplies for as many as a billion people around the world.”
Just as the extreme-weather events we are now experiencing are exactly the kind that were predicted by scientists decades ago, the scientific community is now projecting far worse extreme-weather events in the years to come. Eighty percent of the warming in the past 150 years (since the burning of carbon-based fuels gained momentum) has occurred in the past few decades. And it is worth noting that the previous scientific projections consistently low-balled the extent of the global warming consequences that later took place – for a variety of reasons rooted in the culture of science that favor conservative estimates of future effects.
In an effort to avoid these cultural biases, the AAAS noted this year that not only are the impacts of the climate crisis “very likely to become worse over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond,” but “there is a possibility that temperatures will rise much higher and impacts will be much worse than expected. Moreover, as global temperature rises, the risk increases that one or more important parts of the Earth’s climate system will experience changes that may be abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible, causing large damages and high costs.”
Just weeks after that report, there was shock and, for some, a temptation to despair when the startling news was released in May by scientists at both NASA and the University of Washington that the long-feared “collapse” of a portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet is not only under way but is also now “irreversible.” Even as some labored to understand what the word “collapse” implied about the suddenness with which this catastrophe will ultimately unfold, it was the word “irreversible” that had a deeper impact on the collective psyche.
Just as scientists 200 years ago could not comprehend the idea that species had once lived on Earth and had subsequently become extinct, and just as some people still find it hard to accept the fact that human beings have become a sufficiently powerful force of nature to reshape the ecological system of our planet, many – including some who had long since accepted the truth about global warming – had difficulty coming to grips with the stark new reality that one of the long-feared “tipping points” had been crossed. And that, as a result, no matter what we do, sea levels will rise by at least an additional three feet.
The uncertainty about how long the process will take (some of the best ice scientists warn that a rise of 10 feet in this century cannot be ruled out) did not change the irreversibility of the forces that we have set in motion. But as Eric Rignot, the lead author of the NASA study, pointed out in The Guardian, it’s still imperative that we take action: “Controlling climate warming may ultimately make a difference not only about how fast West Antarctic ice will melt to sea, but also whether other parts of Antarctica will take their turn.”
The news about the irreversible collapse in West Antarctica caused some to almost forget that only two months earlier, a similar startling announcement had been made about the Greenland ice sheet. Scientists found that the northeastern part of Greenland – long thought to be resistant to melting – has in fact been losing more than 10 billion tons of ice per year for the past decade, making 100 percent of Greenland unstable and likely, as with West Antarctica, to contribute to significantly more sea-level rise than scientists had previously thought.
The heating of the oceans not only melts the ice and makes hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons more intense, it also evaporates around 2 trillion gallons of additional water vapor into the skies above the U.S. The warmer air holds more of this water vapor and carries it over the landmasses, where it is funneled into land-based storms that are releasing record downpours all over the world.
For example, an “April shower” came to Pensacola, Florida, this spring, but it was a freak – another rainstorm on steroids: two feet of rain in 26 hours. It broke all the records in the region, but as usual, virtually no media outlets made the connection to global warming. Similar “once in a thousand years” storms have been occurring regularly in recent years all over the world, including in my hometown of Nashville in May 2010.
All-time record flooding swamped large portions of England this winter, submerging thousands of homes for more than six weeks. Massive downpours hit Serbia and Bosnia this spring, causing flooding of “biblical proportions” (a phrase now used so frequently in the Western world that it has become almost a cliché) and thousands of landslides. Torrential rains in Afghanistan in April triggered mudslides that killed thousands of people – almost as many, according to relief organizations, as all of the Afghans killed in the war there the previous year.
In March, persistent rains triggered an unusually large mudslide in Oso, Washington, killing more than 40 people. There are literally hundreds of other examples of extreme rainfall occurring in recent years in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
In the planet’s drier regions, the same extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by man-made global-warming pollution has also been driving faster evaporation of soil moisture and causing record-breaking droughts. As of this writing, 100 percent of California is in “severe,” “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. Record fires are ravaging the desiccated landscape.
Experts now project that an increase of one degree Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures will lead to as much as a 600-percent increase in the median area burned by forest fires in some areas of the American West – including large portions of Colorado. The National Research Council has reported that fire season is two and a half months longer than it was 30 years ago, and in California, firefighters are saying that the season is now effectively year-round.
Drought has been intensifying in many other dry regions around the world this year: Brazil, Indonesia, central and northwest Africa and Madagascar, central and western Europe, the Middle East up to the Caspian Sea and north of the Black Sea, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, Western Australia and New Zealand.
Syria is one of the countries that has been in the bull’s-eye of climate change. From 2006 to 2010, a historic drought destroyed 60 percent of the country’s farms and 80 percent of its livestock – driving a million refugees from rural agricultural areas into cities already crowded with the million refugees who had taken shelter there from the Iraq War. As early as 2008, U.S. State Department cables quoted Syrian government officials warning that the social and economic impacts of the drought are “beyond our capacity as a country to deal with.” Though the hellish and ongoing civil war in Syria has multiple causes – including the perfidy of the Assad government and the brutality on all sides – their climate-related drought may have been the biggest underlying trigger for the horror.
The U.S. military has taken notice of the strategic dangers inherent in the climate crisis. Last March, a Pentagon advisory committee described the climate crisis as a “catalyst for conflict” that may well cause failures of governance and societal collapse. “In the past, the thinking was that climate change multiplied the significance of a situation,” said retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald. “Now we’re saying it’s going to be a direct cause of instability.”
Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told the press, “For DOD, this is a mission reality, not a political debate. The scientific forecast is for more Arctic ice melt, more sea-level rise, more intense storms, more flooding from storm surge and more drought.” And in yet another forecast difficult for congressional climate denialists to rebut, climate experts advising the military have also warned that the world’s largest naval base, in Norfolk, Virginia, is likely to be inundated by rising sea levels in the future.
And how did the Republican-dominated House of Representatives respond to these grim warnings? By passing legislation seeking to prohibit the Department of Defense from taking any action to prepare for the effects of climate disruption.
There are so many knock-on consequences of the climate crisis that listing them can be depressing – diseases spreading, crop yields declining, more heat waves affecting vulnerable and elderly populations, the disappearance of summer-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, the potential extinction of up to half of all the living species, and so much more. And that in itself is a growing problem too, because when you add it all up, it’s no wonder that many feel a new inclination to despair.
So, clearly, we will just have to gird ourselves for the difficult challenges ahead. There is indeed, literally, light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a tunnel, and we are well into it.
In November 1936, Winston Churchill stood before the United Kingdom’s House of Commons and placed a period at the end of the misguided debate over the nature of the “gathering storm” on the other side of the English Channel: “Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. . . . The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences. . . . We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now.”
Our civilization is confronting this existential challenge at a moment in our historical development when our dominant global ideology – democratic capitalism – has been failing us in important respects.
Democracy is accepted in theory by more people than ever before as the best form of political organization, but it has been “hacked” by large corporations (defined as “persons” by the Supreme Court) and special interests corrupting the political system with obscene amounts of money (defined as “speech” by the same court).
Capitalism, for its part, is accepted by more people than ever before as a superior form of economic organization, but is – in its current form – failing to measure and include the categories of “value” that are most relevant to the solutions we need in order to respond to this threatening crisis (clean air and water, safe food, a benign climate balance, public goods like education and a greener infrastructure, etc.)
Pressure for meaningful reform in democratic capitalism is beginning to build powerfully. The progressive introduction of Internet-based communication – social media, blogs, digital journalism – is laying the foundation for the renewal of individual participation in democracy, and the re-elevation of reason over wealth and power as the basis for collective decision making.
And the growing levels of inequality worldwide, combined with growing structural unemployment and more frequent market disruptions (like the Great Recession), are building support for reforms in capitalism.
Both waves of reform are still at an early stage, but once again, Churchill’s words inspire: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And that is why it is all the more important to fully appreciate the incredible opportunity for salvation that is now within our grasp. As the satirical newspaper The Onion recently noted in one of its trademark headlines: “Scientists Politely Remind World That Clean Energy Technology Ready to Go Whenever.”
We have the policy tools that can dramatically accelerate the transition to clean energy that market forces will eventually produce at a slower pace. The most important has long since been identified: We have to put a price on carbon in our markets, and we need to eliminate the massive subsidies that fuel the profligate emissions of global-warming pollution.
We need to establish “green banks” that provide access to capital investment necessary to develop renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and forestry, an electrified transportation fleet, the retrofitting of buildings to reduce wasteful energy consumption, and the full integration of sustainability in the design and architecture of cities and towns. While the burning of fossil fuels is the largest cause of the climate crisis, deforestation and “factory farming” also play an important role. Financial and technological approaches to addressing these challenges are emerging, but we must continue to make progress in converting to sustainable forestry and agriculture.
In order to accomplish these policy shifts, we must not only put a price on carbon in markets, but also find a way to put a price on climate denial in our politics. We already know the reforms that are needed – and the political will to enact them is a renewable resource. Yet the necessary renewal can only come from an awakened citizenry empowered by a sense of urgency and emboldened with the courage to reject despair and become active. Most importantly, now is the time to support candidates who accept the reality of the climate crisis and are genuinely working hard to solve it – and to bluntly tell candidates who are not on board how much this issue matters to you. If you are willing to summon the resolve to communicate that blunt message forcefully – with dignity and absolute sincerity – you will be amazed at the political power an individual can still wield in America’s diminished democracy.
Something else is also new this summer. Three years ago, in these pages, I criticized the seeming diffidence of President Obama toward the great task of solving the climate crisis; this summer, it is abundantly evident that he has taken hold of the challenge with determination and seriousness of purpose.
He has empowered his Environmental Protection Agency to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for both new and, as of this June, existing sources of CO2. He has enforced bold new standards for the fuel economy of the U.S. transportation fleet. He has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal for the transport of oil from carbonintensive tar sands to be taken to market through the United States on its way to China, thus effectively limiting their exploitation. And he is even now preparing to impose new limits on the release of methane pollution.
All of these welcome steps forward have to be seen, of course, in the context of Obama’s continued advocacy of a so-called all-of-the-above energy policy – which is the prevailing code for aggressively pushing more drilling and fracking for oil and gas. And to put the good news in perspective, it is important to remember that U.S. emissions – after declining for five years during the slow recovery from the Great Recession – actually increased by 2.4 percent in 2013.
Nevertheless, the president is clearly changing his overall policy emphasis to make CO2 reductions a much higher priority now and has made a series of inspiring speeches about the challenges posed by climate change and the exciting opportunities available as we solve it. As a result, Obama will go to the United Nations this fall and to Paris at the end of 2015 with the credibility and moral authority that he lacked during the disastrous meeting in Copenhagen four and a half years ago.
The international treaty process has been so fraught with seemingly intractable disagreements that some parties have all but given up on the possibility of ever reaching a meaningful treaty.
Ultimately, there must be one if we are to succeed. And there are signs that a way forward may be opening up. In May, I attended a preparatory session in Abu Dhabi, UAE, organized by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to bolster commitments from governments, businesses and nongovernmental organizations ahead of this September’s U.N. Climate Summit. The two-day meeting was different from many of the others I have attended. There were welcome changes in rhetoric, and it was clear that the reality of the climate crisis is now weighing on almost every nation. Moreover, there were encouraging reports from around the world that many of the policy changes necessary to solve the crisis are being adopted piecemeal by a growing number of regional, state and city governments.
For these and other reasons, I believe there is a realistic hope that momentum toward a global agreement will continue to build in September and carry through to the Paris negotiations in late 2015.
The American poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, “After the final ‘no’ there comes a ‘yes’/And on that ‘yes’ the future world depends.” There were many no’s before the emergence of a global consensus to abolish chattel slavery, before the consensus that women must have the right to vote, before the fever of the nucleararms race was broken, before the quickening global recognition of gay and lesbian equality, and indeed before every forward advance toward social progress. Though a great many obstacles remain in the path of this essential agreement, I am among the growing number of people who are allowing themselves to become more optimistic than ever that a bold and comprehensive pact may well emerge from the Paris negotiations late next year, which many regard as the last chance to avoid civilizational catastrophe while there is still time.
It will be essential for the United States and other major historical emitters to commit to strong action. The U.S. is, finally, now beginning to shift its stance. And the European Union has announced its commitment to achieve a 40-percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. Some individual European nations are acting even more aggressively, including Finland’s pledge to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.
It will also be crucial for the larger developing and emerging nations – particularly China and India – to play a strong leadership role. Fortunately, there are encouraging signs. China’s new president, Xi Jinping, has launched a pilot cap-and-trade system in two cities and five provinces as a model for a nationwide cap-and-trade program in the next few years. He has banned all new coal burning in several cities and required the reporting of CO2 emissions by all major industrial sources. China and the U.S. have jointly reached an important agreement to limit another potent source of global-warming pollution – the chemical compounds known as hydro-fluorocarbons, or HFCs. And the new prime minister of India, as noted earlier, has launched the world’s most ambitious plan to accelerate the transition to solar electricity.
Underlying this new breaking of logjams in international politics, there are momentous changes in the marketplace that are exercising enormous influence on the perceptions by political leaders of the new possibilities for historic breakthroughs. More and more, investors are diversifying their portfolios to include significant investments in renewables. In June, Warren Buffett announced he was ready to double Berkshire Hathaway’s existing $15 billion investment in wind and solar energy.
A growing number of large investors – including pension funds, university endowments (Stanford announced its decision in May), family offices and others – have announced decisions to divest themselves from carbon intensive assets. Activist and “impact” investors are pushing for divestment from carbon rich assets and new investments in renewable and sustainable assets.
Several large banks and asset managers around the world (full disclosure: Generation Investment Management, which I co-founded with David Blood and for which I serve as chairman, is in this group) have advised their clients of the danger that carbon assets will become “stranded.” A “stranded asset” is one whose price is vulnerable to a sudden decline when markets belatedly recognize the truth about their underlying value – just as the infamous “subprime mortgages” suddenly lost their value in 2007 to 2008 once investors came to grips with the fact that the borrowers had absolutely no ability to pay off their mortgages.
Shareholder activists and public campaigners have pressed carbon-dependent corporations to deal with these growing concerns. But the biggest ones are still behaving as if they are in denial. In May 2013, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson responded to those pointing out the need to stop using the Earth’s atmosphere as a sewer by asking, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”
I don’t even know where to start in responding to that statement, but here is a clue: Pope Francis said in May, “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us. Never forget this.”
Exxonmobil, Shell and many other holders of carbon-intensive assets have argued, in essence, that they simply do not believe that elected national leaders around the world will ever reach an agreement to put a price on carbon pollution.
But a prospective global treaty (however likely or unlikely you think that might be) is only one of several routes to overturning the fossil-fuel economy. Rapid technological advances in renewable energy are stranding carbon investments; grassroots movements are building opposition to the holding of such assets; and new legal restrictions on collateral flows of pollution – like particulate air pollution in China and mercury pollution in the U.S. – are further reducing the value of coal, tar sands, and oil and gas assets.
In its series of reports to energy investors this spring, Citigroup questioned the feasibility of new coal plants not only in Europe and North America, but in China as well. Although there is clearly a political struggle under way in China between regional governments closely linked to carbon-energy generators, suppliers and users and the central government in Beijing – which is under growing pressure from citizens angry about pollution – the nation’s new leadership appears to be determined to engineer a transition toward renewable energy. Only time will tell how successful they will be.
The stock exchanges in Johannesburg and São Paulo have decided to require the full integration of sustainability from all listed companies. Standard & Poor’s announced this spring that some nations vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis may soon have their bonds downgraded because of the enhanced risk to holders of those assets.
A growing number of businesses around the world are implementing sustainability plans, as more and more consumers demand a more responsible approach from businesses they patronize. Significantly, many have been pleasantly surprised to find that adopting efficient, low-carbon approaches can lead to major cost savings.
And all the while, the surprising and relentless ongoing decline in the cost of renewable energy and efficiency improvements are driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Is there enough time? Yes. Damage has been done, and the period of consequences will continue for some time to come, but there is still time to avoid the catastrophes that most threaten our future. Each of the trends described above – in technology, business, economics and politics – represents a break from the past. Taken together, they add up to genuine and realistic hope that we are finally putting ourselves on a path to solve the climate crisis.
How long will it take? When Martin Luther King Jr. was asked that question during some of the bleakest hours of the U.S. civil rights revolution, he responded, “How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever. . . . How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
And so it is today: How long? Not long.
This story is from the July 3rd-17th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.
Is TPP the post-democracy blue-print for the EU-US Free Trade Agreement? The implications are outlined.
Before Christmas, I was alarmed to hear Nick Clegg and then David Cameron ‘rather too casually’ mention their support for an EU-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It now seems that such negotiations have in fact, been going on in secret for over a year.. and secrecy is the name of the game. The posted video clip below, discusses the nature of the massive Trans Pacific Pact or Free Trade Agreement (TPP) which Obama has been pushing for, throughout his first administration (1) There is every reason to believe that these alarming negotiations will be the blue-print for an EU-US FTA, and therefore, could act as a pre-warning for the UK/EU populace.
Since the 10-year-old Doha round of global trade talks deadlocked, the EU and the United States have been trying to sign as many…
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Buying Up the Planet: Out-of-control Central Banks on a Corporate Buying Spree
“Finance is the new form of warfare – without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts. It is a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatized infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means?” — Dr. Michael Hudson, Counterpunch, October…
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