Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CNN's Better Late Than Never Reporting of Japan's 3 (not 1 but 3) Nuclear Reactor Meltdowns

Millions Fewer Girls Born Due to Nuclear Radiation?

"Unexpected" findings suggest bomb tests, plant accidents boosted male births.

 Ker Than
Published June 2, 2011

Nuclear radiation from bomb tests and power plant accidents causes slightly more boys than girls to be born, a new study suggests. While effects were seen to be regional for incidents on the ground, like Chernobyl, atmospheric blasts were found to affect birth rates on a global scale.

The result: Millions fewer females have been born worldwide than would otherwise be expected, researchers estimate. And given Japan's current nuclear troubles, another boy boomlet could be on the way, experts say.

(Related: Is this the world's most dangerous nuclear plant?)
For the new study, scientists analyzed population data from 1975 to 2007 for 39 European countries and the United States.

They found an increase in the number of male births relative to female births in all of the countries investigated from 1964 to 1975—and in many eastern European countries for several years after 1986.

In "normal" circumstances, male births outnumber female births by a ratio of 105 to 100, study co-author Hagen Scherb said. "It's not known what is the biological reason for this ratio," he added. "It's a natural constant, like the constant of gravity."

The statistical bumps observed in the study are in addition to that slight natural imbalance.

The 1960s and '70s increase is attributed in the study to the global dispersal of radioactive atoms from atmospheric atomic bomb tests. The tests lofted radioactive atoms high into the atmosphere, where air currents caught the atoms and then dispersed them around the planet.

Open-air nuclear tests were most common from the late 1940s until 1963, when the Limited Test Ban Treaty sent such testing underground, at least for signatories the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom.

Chernobyl's Hidden Fallout?

The scientists think the second spike in their data is due to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, in which a nuclear reactor exploded in Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union.

(Pictures: Animals Inherit Mixed Legacy at Chernobyl.)

In Chernobyl's case, the effect was more localized, since the radioactive release occurred on the ground.

"The closer the country was to Chernobyl, the stronger the effect," said Scherb, a biostatistician at the German Research Center for Environmental Health in Munich.

For example, more males were born relative to females in neighboring Belarus than in France, hundreds of miles away (regional map).

No post-Chernobyl effect was seen in the U.S., which was presumably too far away for the radioactive atoms to reach in sufficiently high amounts, Scherb added.

In both instances, the increase in the ratio of male to female births was meager—less than one percent.

But the effect lasted years before leveling off or reversing—not surprising, since radioactive atoms can remain harmful for several years, the study authors say.
And even with such a small increase in the percentage of male births, the global release of nuclear radiation has, over decades, led to several million fewer girls being born worldwide than would otherwise be expected, the authors estimate.

Female Chromosomes Especially Vulnerable?

The biological mechanism behind the skewed sex ratio wasn't investigated in the study. But previous radiation experiments on animals suggest the boost in males may be due to damage to X chromosomes in sperm, Scherb said.

In humans, a sperm cell contains either an X or Y chromosome, while an egg contains no Y chromosome. If an embryo has an XY combination, it will become a boy. An XX combination results in a girl. (Get a genetics overview.)

It's not known exactly why X chromosomes in sperm would be more likely to sustain radiation damage than Y chromosomes or in X chromosomes in eggs, Scherb said. Perhaps it's because X chromosomes are simply bigger targets or because eggs insulate their chromosomes better than sperm cells do, he speculated.

It could also be that, because X chromosomes—being larger than Y chromosomes—carry more genes, X chromosome damage is more likely to result in a fatally deformed embryo, he said.

Whatever the exact mechanism, the result of disproportionately damaged X chromosomes should be fewer daughters and more sons, the authors say—precisely the effect seen in the new study.

"Most Convincing Documentation"

The new study is "the most convincing documentation" to date that radiation can lead to sex bias in humans, according to geneticist Karl Sperling of the Institute of Medical Genetics and Human Genetics in Berlin.

The findings challenge the conventional belief that exposure to nuclear radiation has no, or negligible, genetic effects in humans, added Sperling, who wasn't involved in the study, published in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

“For the scientific community, Dr. Scherb’s findings are completely unexpected [but] statistically well proven,” Sperling wrote in an email.

U.S. West Coast to See Spike in Boy Births?

Though based largely on Cold War-era statistics, the findings are newly relevant, according to study co-author Scherb.

In the wake of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, radiation could once again lead to a gender bias in humans, he said. (Related:  

"We do not know how much radioactivity was emitted through Fukushima and how it will spread throughout the world," he said.

"Maybe it's confined to just Japan ... but if it gets in the water and the air, it's possible that we could see a similar effect, especially on the West Coast of America."

****This Article is taken from

No Changes and Zero Hope

Running on Empty

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hypocrisy, Ideology, and Imperialism

The myth of U.S. humanitarian intervention in Libya 

Article taken from: 
International Socialist Review Issue 77 May-June 2011
By Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher

THE MYTH of humanitarian intervention has once again surfaced as the key justification for Western imperial adventurism. This time, Libya has been targeted by the United States and France for a bombing campaign that is alleged to be primarily about “protecting” the people of Libya, who joined others in the “Arab Spring” in demanding freedom from a ruthless dictator.

As this so-called humanitarian intervention takes place, the United States continues its support for the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrations in states allied with the United States, such as Bahrain and Yemen. This clearly demonstrates the brazen level of hypocrisy of the U.S. position and illustrates just how concerned U.S. state managers are with human rights. Clear geopolitical motives for the intervention in Libya, as well as the suppression in Yemen and Bahrain, show the true purpose of the U.S. policy: to maximize its control of a vital, resource-rich region while hiding its true intentions, as always, behind the veil of benevolent intentions. This has been made possible, in part, because the media has worked to spread the party line of U.S. humanitarian intervention and benevolent intentions, serving as what the neo-Marxist writer Louis Althusser referred to as an “Ideological State Apparatus” (ISA).1

This article seeks to dismantle the arguments made by apologists for U.S. imperialism in Libya by examining the true nature of U.S. foreign policy and its concern (or lack thereof) for human rights, the illegality of the Libyan invasion through the lens of both domestic and international law, and by demonstrating how corporate media complicity has helped to sell this narrative, serving, as always, as an arm of official ideology.

Humanitarian intervention as imperial ideology
The ideological nature of much of the debate over the intervention is painfully clear, even among critics. “At the end of the day,” writes Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass, who sits at the dovish extreme of the permitted spectrum, “the Libyan intervention is more than anything about the role of the United States in the world,” and “the United States cannot and should not intervene in every internal dispute where bad or even evil is on display.”
2 On the surface, Haass is correct, of course; no one would suggest the United States intervene in every country in which it saw “bad or even evil.” Yet his statement is actually a manifestation of state ideology: the United States either acts in the name of good (to stop “bad or even evil”) or it does not act at all. The idea of the United States itself committing “evil” is not a possible category, it is outside the bounds of “thinkable thought” to borrow Noam Chomsky’s phrase.3 Haass’s evaluation reveals his uncritical acceptance of this principle, and thus his fitness to serve at the head of a respectable and important ideological institution. Yet the full support the United States has lent to the violent crackdown on protests in Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia—not to mention Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians—reveals that U.S. policy lacks the moral quality Haass and others inherently ascribe to it.

This is not the first time that a U.S. president has justified intervention on the basis of supposed humanitarian imperatives. The most noted example in U.S. history is President Clinton’s 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Though he claimed at the time—much like Obama—that such an intervention was necessary to prevent the massacre of civilians, “uncontroversially, the vast crimes took place after the bombing began: they were not a cause but—it is hard to deny—a consequence.”4 In a book strongly endorsed by Clinton’s deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott (who worked closely on the intervention), John Norris writes, “It was Yugoslavia’s resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform—not the plight of Kosovar Albanians—that best explains NATO’s war.”5 When one takes notice of simultaneous U.S. support for Indonesia’s genocidal occupation of East Timor,6 as well as its support for Turkey’s horrific ethnic cleansing of its Kurdish population,7 this conclusion becomes even harder to avoid.

Those who wish to understand the world around them must shrug off the yoke of ideology and examine matters for what they are. What is most striking about the demands of the recent revolutionary uprisings across the Middle East is that they are overwhelmingly secular, universal demands for freedom, human rights, and economic justice; not fanatical cries to impose a supreme leader, nor fundamentalist calls to holy warfare. Despite official rhetoric of humanitarian intervention and “promoting freedom,” the United States is struggling to repress the revolutionary awakening. 

Though the popular uprisings have largely been free of anti-imperialist slogans, the challenge they pose to U.S. client regimes through which imperial power is projected into the Middle East, the chief oil producing and most strategically important region of the world, is very real.

The independence that would result from the liberation from dictatorship and oppression demanded by the region’s people is the dialectical opposite of U.S. control: more power for the masses means less control for the United States. This explains the management of the region through a network of client dictatorships, overseen and stabilized by Israeli nuclear hegemony. It is a system enforced by an expansive disciplinary apparatus of interlocking state coercion, which relies on terror to maintain order; if it does not respond when tested, it loses all effectiveness. In recent months, we have seen masses of people across the Middle East challenging that coercive mechanism, which is none other than empire itself—and it has responded. It should go without saying that such a system of raw power and domination does not take account of “humanitarian concerns.”

In reality, this imperial system was constructed to ensure continued U.S. control of the Middle East’s energy resources, particularly the vast Saudi reserves, deemed “the greatest material prize in history” by the U.S. State Department.8 In pursuing this objective, the United States strengthens the regimes it controls—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, and so on—while threatening and attacking those that oppose its objectives—Iran, Syria, and Libya. Human beings only matter insofar as they get in the way. This poses a simple rejoinder to Mr. Haass: the easiest way for the United States to put an end to “bad or even evil” in the world (in Haass’s sense of “infringements on human rights”) is to stop carrying it out.

Expanding empire, repressing opposition
As the brutal repression of recent uprisings makes clear, the main purpose of growing U.S. military assistance programs to Yemen and Bahrain (Obama increased military assistance to Yemen from $67 million in 2009 to $150 million in 2010) is to repress “their people,” and maintain the U.S.-prescribed regional order.
9 The violent crackdown against protesters in Bahrain has included tactics such as a 3:00 a.m. attack by hundreds of riot police on unarmed sleeping protesters, “including families and children,” supported by tear gas and live ammunition fired from U.S.-manufactured Apache helicopters.10 Doctors trying to help the hundreds of wounded and dying were savagely beaten, one example of what Human Rights Watch has called “a troubling pattern of security forces preventing medical staff from providing urgent care to wounded protesters and assaulting doctors and paramedics dispatched to provide treatment to the injured.”11 Though the U.S. government has issued muted public statements deploring the violence, full American support for the repression has continued.12

Bahrain is an important and close U.S. ally, housing the Fifth Fleet of the U.S. Navy, and is located adjacent to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which contains the majority of Saudi oil reserves.13 Ominously for Washington, there are some signs of rebellion spreading to the Saudi Kingdom, including protests in the Eastern Province.14 Such a threat is not likely to be taken lightly.
While the United States intervenes directly in Libya on behalf of armed rebels, it authorized Saudi Arabia’s deployment of its U.S.-supplied military to Bahrain to support the brutal crackdown on nonviolent demonstrations there, which arrived just days after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had visited the island.15 Far from being faced with sanctions and bombardment for its repressive role not just within its own borders, but elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia has received substantial American support for its longstanding imperial service, including the largest arms sale in U.S. history—$60 billion—in October 2010.16

Massive protests in Yemen, another strategically located U.S. client, have likewise been suppressed with ferocious violence. U.S.-armed paramilitaries attacked students staging a sit-in at Sanaa University, and, backed by U.S.-made tanks, have gunned down unarmed demonstrators in the streets.17 One such attack recently killed fifty-two people and wounded hundreds, and was followed by the enactment of an emergency law that “effectively suspends the constitution.”18 The government crackdown reached such levels of brutality that several military leaders defected and joined the protesters, yet Obama has not announced his support for their cause nor called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, and “U.S. special forces continue to operate across the country in support of the government.”19 Hollow, tepid condemnations of the wave of violence Saleh has released on the demonstrators by the White House Press Secretary20 have been carefully balanced by Robert Gates’s reminders that the United States has vital interests in Yemen,21 and have so far not been followed by action. Despite support for such crimes by allied regimes, the Washington establishment is still able to push the narrative that it is acting primarily, and selflessly, in the interest of human rights in Libya.

U.S. backing of Israel’s barbaric, monthlong slaughter of half-starved, defenseless Palestinians in Gaza in 2009, including widespread use of U.S.-manufactured white phosphorous against civilians likewise reveals the true role played by “humanitarian concerns” in U.S. foreign policy.22 Rather than sanction Israel or intervene militarily to safeguard the rights of Palestinians, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution at the height of the massacre expressing its support for the attack, while the Bush administration blocked international efforts to reach a cease-fire. The Obama administration has worked tirelessly to discredit those documenting the crimes,23 and remains the chief supporter of Israeli strangulation of Gaza, causing a severe humanitarian crisis, including a “complete economic collapse” and “a substantial drop in the availability of necessities” such as food, clean water, and medicine.24

Through intervention in Libya, the United States reifies the illusion that it is siding with the popular rebellions throughout the region, even as it is the most powerful force working to crush them. While it arms the despots the masses seek to overthrow, it focuses attention on its supposedly noble humanitarian defense of Libyans from the brutal dictatorship of Muammar Qaddafi.25 No doubt the decision to intervene was helped by the Benghazi shadow government’s indication that if in power, it would adopt positions favorable to Western interests, which has already won it French recognition.26 

Further, many of the Benghazi opposition leaders are former prominent Qaddafi regime officials27 (in addition to a possible CIA operative),28 who it is difficult to believe have suddenly become pro-democracy activists. Apart from public statements, there is little reason to think that empowering the Benghazi regime will lead to any substantial change in Libya whatsoever—aside from the country’s geopolitical alignment, as it would then be under U.S. control. What is clear is that the U.S. establishment knows little about the opposition (it has even been suggested that it includes members of “al-Qaeda”),29 and probably does not care; it simply wants to empower those who support its interests and enhance its geopolitical dominance.

With the region in a state of unprecedented revolutionary upheaval, including ongoing uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt—both of which border Libya—intervention against Qaddafi was designed to capitalize on the circumstances and enhance U.S. dominance. As ongoing military catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan strengthen the perception of the United States as an overstretched empire in decline, by attacking Libya the United States also seeks to reestablish the “credibility” of its “military deterrent”—in other words, ensure that the world is still too terrified of the response to risk challenging U.S. dictates. Obama’s bellicose rhetoric is intended to send a clear message and reinforce the cardinal principle of U.S. foreign policy: as George H. W. Bush put it in 1991, “What we say goes.”30 Retribution is swift and total for those who refuse to comply.

There is also a dangerous message that will greatly weaken future international nonproliferation efforts: had Libya kept its nuclear and chemical arsenal instead of “voluntarily” renouncing all WMDs in 2003, the regime would have been able to deter the attack, as would have Iraq in the case of the 2003 U.S. invasion.31 North Korea, on the other hand, appears safe from such intervention.

Protecting civilians: “A non-negotiable ultimatum”
Whatever complex geopolitical motivations exist for yet another Western bombing campaign in the Middle East, what is perfectly clear is that by engaging in this undeclared war, President Barack Obama has violated domestic law and has engaged in a radical expansion of executive power.

While Obama did attempt to justify the war by using the 1973 War Powers Act, the action clearly goes beyond the scope of the law.32 The War Powers Act does indeed allow for the president to use military force for sixty days (with a possible thirty-day extension) in the case of a “national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” This was clearly not the case with the conflict in Libya, which posed no threat to the United States or its neighbors, and essentially constituted a civil war. While there is clearly no doubt that Qaddafi has lost the support of much of the population of Libya due to his many abuses, this in no way enables a U.S. president to start a war without approval from Congress.

“In taking the country into a war with Libya, Barack Obama’s administration is breaking new ground in its construction of an imperial presidency—an executive who increasingly acts independently of Congress at home and abroad,” wrote Bruce Ackerman in Foreign Policy magazine, a journal run by the Carnegie Institute. “He was elected in reaction to the unilateralist assertions of John Yoo and other apologists for George W. Bush-era illegalities. Yet he is now moving onto ground that even Bush did not occupy…putting Bush-era talk into action in Libya—without congressional authorization.”33

That an elite publication would voice such a view is telling (although in the mainstream media, only Representative Dennis Kucinich has been allowed to articulate this argument, calling Obama’s action without congressional authorization an “impeachable offense”)34 and illustrates how unambiguously illegal Obama’s war in Libya is. This did not stop Obama from laying out an incredibly flawed justification for the endeavor, perhaps most ludicrously declaring in a February 25 letter to House Speaker John Boehner that Libya constituted “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”35 With few exceptions, members of Congress seemed to uncritically accept that an imperial president had effectively usurped the war-making powers of the legislature. Even Speaker Boehner, one of Obama’s chief political opponents, would only encourage Obama to “do a better job of briefing members of Congress,” but made no mention of a vote of authorization.36

The intervention violates international law as well. The United Nations Security Council did authorize all necessary actions “to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.” But, as former head of the National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn noted, the attack “exceeds the bounds” of this authorization.” All necessary measures “should first have been peaceful measures to settle the conflict. But peaceful means were not exhausted before Obama began bombing Libya,” Cohn wrote.37

Indeed, Chapter I of the UN Charter forbids the “threat or use of force” in international relations.38 Though the resolution was passed under Chapter VII, which allows the Security Council to take action that “may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security,” provisions demanding a determination that all measures short of force are exhausted before resorting to intervention were clearly not satisfied.39 Moreover, even if we leave aside the language in the resolution calling for a peaceful settlement and assume the intervention is authorized by the Security Council, a UNSC resolution is not a blank check to violate these fundamental principles of the UN Charter: article 24 mandates that the Security Council “shall act in accordance with the Principles and Purposes of the United Nations.”40

Neither the Security Council resolution nor the UN Charter could be interpreted to authorize regime change, yet Obama boldly announced, “It is U.S. policy that Qaddafi needs to go.”41 Obama seemed to hedge a bit when he added that, “when it comes to our military action, we are doing so in support of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 that specifically talks about humanitarian efforts, and we are going to make sure that we stick to that mandate.”42 This argument also forms the basis for the White House legal strategy to work around the need for congressional authorization by claiming, as White House Middle East advisor Dennis Ross did, that the attack constitutes a “limited humanitarian intervention, not war.”43

But clearly, the United States is looking to oust Qaddafi through one lawless method or another. 

“When the mission was launched, it was largely seen as having a limited, humanitarian agenda: to 
keep Colonel Qaddafi from attacking his own people,” claimed a New York Times article from March 29. “But the White House, the Pentagon and their European allies have given it the most expansive possible interpretation, amounting to an all-out assault on Libya’s military.” The article notes that while the “Obama administration has been reluctant to call the operation an actual war,” American involvement “is far deeper than discussed in public and more instrumental to the fight than was previously known.”44 There are also new reports of CIA agents on the ground in Libya, despite Obama’s proclamations that there would be no ground troops in the country, and the UN resolution’s express prohibition on such a presence.45

Likewise, reasonable alternatives to intervention that fall short of regime change have been ignored, revealing the true motivation for the attack. A political “Roadmap” passed by the African Union on March 25 calling for an end to the bombing and immediate negotiations between the opposition and the government was agreed to by the Qaddafi regime, but has been ignored by Washington.46 And Congress, with limited exceptions, has expressed support for this policy. The always hawkish Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut also vigorously promoted illegal regime change, telling CNN that “Once the president of the United States says, as President [Barack] Obama did, that Qaddafi must go, if we don’t work with our allies to make sure Qaddafi does go, America’s credibility and prestige suffers all over the world.”47 Despite the fact that Al Jazeera and others reported before the bombing that the Libyan leader “was looking for an agreement allowing him to step down,” the bombing was initiated anyway, showing that the West was not even considering a peaceful resolution to the situation.48 The United States never even acknowledged such reports, and Obama defiantly declared that the dictator faced a “non-negotiable ultimatum.”49

Corporate media as “Ideological State Apparatus”
The U.S. mainstream media has predictably served to advance the U.S. narrative, accepting the war as a just act of benevolence by the United States, which is selflessly working to save the lives of Libyan civilians. This is predictable: the media in a capitalist country largely serves as what Louis Althusser called an “Ideological State Apparatus,” accepting and spreading the ideological doctrines of the state.

Perhaps The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, largely viewed to be the extreme left of the editorial shows on cable television, provided the most glaring example of the way state ideology pervades the media. Maddow observed that Obama, like Bush, was invading a Middle Eastern nation. But by initiating the attack without so much as a press conference to the American people, she argued, he was avoiding the “chest-thumping” of previous administrations in an effort to “change the narrative” of U.S. foreign policy.

Obama’s decision, she said in a March 21 broadcast, “to forego the chest-thumping commander-in-chief theater that goes with military intervention of any kind, that in itself is a fascinating and rather blunt demonstration of just how much this presidency is not like that of George W. Bush.”50

This pathetic display reveals precisely the way the media function as an ISA. As the media’s best known “liberals” celebrate U.S. imperialism because it is hidden from the public, and carried out in a way that makes state violence more palatable, we see the extremely narrow parameters of debate. Liberal journals, such as the Nation, followed suit. The magazine published a piece by Professor Juan Cole, titled “An open letter to the left on Libya,” in which he argued that “If we just don’t care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we aren’t people of the Left”—implying that the only reason one could oppose the intervention is “not caring” about the Libyan people.51 It is simply assumed by “serious” mainstream outlets that the war is noble. Debate is encouraged within these narrow boundaries, which gives official propaganda a system-reinforcing character.52

Obama’s role in starting a third U.S. war in the Middle East also seems to indicate the extent of his commitment to militarism, and shows a major similarity with President George W. Bush. Yet, the media has scrambled to portray this as a different kind of war, a “liberal war,” as Russ Douthat described it in a New York Times op-ed. “In its month-long crab walk toward a military confrontation with Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi, the Obama administration has delivered a clinic in the liberal way of war,” he wrote. The rebranding of imperialism and militarism under Obama has indeed proven to be effective.

Indeed, the Times op-ed page serves as an especially effective ideological tool for the state. In fourteen op-eds and two editorials written about Libya from March 14 to 28, only two could be described as offering anything resembling opposition to the war. One was a piece by Bob Herbert, who condemned “pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war…while simultaneously demolishing school budgets.”53 The other was by Thomas Friedman, who expressed his desire to support what he considers a noble mission in Libya, but admits, “Sadly, we cannot afford it.”54 Clearly, even these criticisms are within the “bounds of the expressible” laid out by the ideological system—assuming that our motives in Libya are virtuous, but arguing that our commitment to justice must be tempered by other pressing needs.55 The more typical op-eds run by the paper of record were similar to that of Nicholas Kristof, whose “Hugs from Libyans” told stories of Libyan “Thank you rallies” in honor of the U.S. war.56

Few corporate outlets dared mention the heights of U.S. hypocrisy or the excessive cost of the operation—estimated at $2 billion a day, according to Forbes—just as the government seeks to make cuts to vital programs like Medicare and Social Security.57 These costs may explain why, despite the near unanimity of the media in favor of the intervention, 63 percent of those polled by the Pew Research Center did not think the United States had a responsibility to act with violence in Libya.58
Business as usual for the American Empire
The Libyan war is yet another clear example of the imperial nature of U.S. foreign policy and the effectiveness of state ideology in blinding the public to the true nature of violence carried out abroad. Piercing the veneer of official propaganda, we discover that the United States is again engaged in a war of choice, using the military as a weapon, not as a last resort to defend itself, but rather to display and entrench Western power and shape the world in its interest during a time of massive change. The media—most shamelessly liberal apologists for Obama—perpetuate this lie in near-monolithic fashion, while allowing for “debates” merely over tactics, and ignoring geopolitics and the brute reality of U.S. Empire.

Michael Corcoran ( is a journalist and media critic from Boston who has written for the Boston Globe, the Nation, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, NACLA Report on the Americas, Extra!, and other publications. He is a master’s candidate at the John McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Stephen Maher ( is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., and a master’s candidate at American University School of International Service. His work, covering a wide range of issues, has appeared in the Guardian, on the Electronic Intifada, Truthout, Extra!, and elsewhere.

1 Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” La Pensée, 1970,
2 Richard Haass, “Too much, too late,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 21, 2011,
3 Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Boston: South End Press, 1999), 33.
4 Noam Chomsky, A New Generation Draws the Line: Kosovo, East Timor, and the Standards of the West (New York: Verso Books, 2000), 96.
5 John Norris, Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo (New York: Praeger, 2005), xxiii.
6 Chomsky, A New Generation Draws the Line, 76–78.
7 Ibid., 11.
8 The United States Department of State Foreign Relations of the United States: diplomatic papers, 1945. The Near East and Africa: vol. VIII, 45, University of Wisconsin digital collection,
9 Nir Rosen, “How it started in Yemen: From Tahrir to Taghyir,” New Statesman, March 21, 2011.
10 “Bahrain: End deadly attacks on peaceful protesters,” Human Rights Watch, February 17, 2011; See also: Scheherezade Faramarz, “Bahrain crackdown routs protesters; clashes kill 5,” ?McClatchy Newspapers, March 16, 2011,
11 Faramarz , “Bahrain crackdown routs protesters”; “Bahrain: End deadly attacks on peaceful protesters”; and “Bahrain: Injured people denied medical care,” Human Rights Watch, March 17, 2011.
12 Office of the Press Secretary, “Statement from the Press Secretary on violence in Yemen and Bahrain,” March 13, 2011,
13 Brad Knickerbocker, “U.S. faces difficult situation in Bahrain, home to US Fifth Fleet,” Christian Science Monitor, February 19, 2011.
14 Ulf Laessing and Cynthia Johnston, “Saudi police fire in air to disperse protest,” Reuters, March 10, 2011; See also Frank Langfitt and Renee Montagne, “Saudi forces out in force to stop ‘Day of Rage,’” Morning Edition, National Public Radio, March 11, 2011.
15 Though the Pentagon initially claimed it did not know of the Saudi moves in advance, reports later surfaced that the United States had in fact been informed. See “Saudi told US of Bahrain intervention: US official,” Agence France-Presse, March 14, 2011.
16 Anthony Cordesman, “The New Saudi arms deal: Serving vital U.S. security interests,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 24, 2010.
17 Rosen, “How it started in Yemen” ; See also Ahmed Al-Haj, “Yemeni soldiers attack students,” Associated Press, March 8, 2011.
18 “Yemen: Emergency law does not trump basic rights,” Human Rights Watch, March 23, 2011.
19 Seumas Milne, “There’s nothing moral about Nato’s intervention in Libya,” Guardian, March 23, 2011.
20 Andrew Malcolm “Yemen president gets stern warning from Obama press secretary.” Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2011.
21 “US says post-Saleh Yemen would pose ‘real problem,’” Agence-France Presse, March 27, 2011.
22 Jonathan Weber, “Goldstone report slams IDF warfare in Gaza,” YNet News, September 16, 2009.
23 Stephen Zunes, “The Gaza war, Congress, and International Humanitarian Law,” Middle East Policy Council,; Edith Lederer, “U.S. blocks UN Security Council action on Gaza,” Associated Press, January 3, 2009; Jack Khouri, “Goldstone tells Obama: Show me flaws in Gaza report,” Ha’aretz, October 22, 2009.
24 “The Gaza Strip—Background,” B’Tselem–The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories,
25 Eben Kaplan, “How Libya got off the list,” Council on Foreign Relations, October 16, 2007.
26 “France recognizes Libya rebels, to surprise of EU,” Associated Press, March 10, 2011.
27 David Wood, “Gaddafi’s army, Libyan rebels square off for showdown,” Huffington Post, March 29, 2011.
28 Chris Adams, “Libyan rebel leader spent much of past 20 years in suburban Virginia,” McClatchy Newspapers, March 26, 2011.
29 Greg Miller, “Libyan opposition includes a small number of al-Qaeda fighters, U.S. officials say,” Washington Post, March 29, 2011.
30 Mitchel Cohen, “What we say, goes! How Bush Sr. sold the bombing of Iraq,” CounterPunch, December 28, 2002.
31 Paul A. DeSutter, “Libya renounces weapons of mass destruction.” eJournal USA,
32 Lauren Rozen, “Averting ‘Srebrenica on steroids’: White House defends Libya operations,” Yahoo! News, March 23, 2011.
33 Bruce Ackerman, “Obama’s unconstitutional war,” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2011.
34 Quoted in Jennifer Epstein, “Kucinich: Libya action ‘impeachable,’” The Politico, March 21, 2011.
35 Quoted in Josh Rogin, “Obama Declares National State of Emergency over Libya,” Foreign Policy, February 25, 2011.
36 Stephanie Condon, “Boehner, GOP want Obama to consult with Congress on Libya,” CBS News, March 21, 2011.
37 Marjorie Cohn, “Stop bombing Libya,” Huffington Post, March 21, 2011.
38 Charter of the United Nations,
39 Ibid.
40 Ibid.
41 Aprille Muscara, “Obama leaves door open to regime change in Libya,” InterPress Service, March 21, 2011.
42 Ibid.
43 Rozen, “Averting ‘Srebrenica on steroids.’”
44 Eric Schmidt, “U.S. gives its air power expansive role in Libya,” New York Times, March 28, 2011.
45 National Public Radio, “CIA operatives gathering intelligence in Libya,” March 31, 2011,
46 Luc Van Kemenede, “Libya says it’s ready to implement a ‘road map,’” Yahoo! News, March 25, 2011.
47 As quoted in Josh Rogin, “Obama declares national state of emergency over Libya,” Foreign Policy, February 25, 2011.
48 “Libyan rebels reject potential Gaddafi offer to step down: Reports,” Reuters, March 7, 2011.
49 Quoted in “Q&A: The Libyan ceasefire, the UN resolution and military tactics,” Guardian, March 18, 2011.
50 For transcript, see The Rachel Maddow Show,, March 21, 2011,
51 Juan Cole, “An open letter to the left on Libya,” Nation, March 26, 2011.
52 Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions (Boston: South End Press, 1989), 48.
53 Bob Herbert, “Losing our way,” New York Times, March 25, 2011.
54 Thomas Friedman, “Tribes with flags,” New York Times, March 22, 2011.
55 Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, 45–73.

56 Nicholas Kristof, “Hugs from Libyans,” New York Times, March 23, 2011.
57 Linda Thompson, “The real cost of U.S. in Libya? 2 billion dollars per day,” Forbes, March 28, 2011,

58 For poll results, see: