Monday, December 5, 2016
Getting Away with Murder: America’s War Criminals and Their Accessories
Kill one person and it’s called murder.
Kill tens of thousands and it’s called foreign policy.
War is an act of murder.
Politicians who authorize, promote or condone war are surrogate murderers.
And so, too, must be included their accessories.
The Crimes of War
I share the late Albert Einstein’s opinion and have myself written what I think is an airtight argument that war is neither necessary nor just.1 Since murder is universally regarded as a crime it follows that all wars, covert or overt, are crimes and thus unlawful.
According to the Crimes of War Education Project, a collaboration of journalists, lawyers and scholars, “the most comprehensive and accepted list of international humanitarian law offenses is set out in the Rome Statute governing the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.”2 The ICC recognizes three basic categories of crimes; genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Whatever the three are called by the cognoscenti they are all crimes against humanity. Within the third category there are nearly 50 variations of how to kill in war. It is a legalese splitting of dead hairs as far as I am concerned.
Lineup of America’s War Criminals and Their Accessories
Let’s limit the line up to the ones still living. Otherwise, the line would stretch back 240 years.
According to Professor Frances Boyle, an authority on international law, “more than 30 top U.S. officials, including presidents G.W. Bush and Obama, are guilty of war crimes or crimes against peace and humanity, legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany.”
“In the Middle East and Africa U.S. officials involved in an "ongoing criminal conspiracy" either participated in the commission of the crimes under their jurisdiction or failed to take action against them included, Boyles said, “both presidents since 2001 and their vice-presidents, the secretaries of State and Defense, the directors of the CIA and National Intelligence and the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff and heads of the Central Command, among others.”
“Besides the presidents, Boyle identified as war criminals Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joseph Biden; Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta; Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and Hillary Clinton; National Security Advisors Stephen Hadley, James Jones, and Thomas Donilon; Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and James Clapper and Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) Directors George Tenet, Leon Panetta, and David Petraeus.”
“In the Pentagon, war criminals include the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and some Regional Commanders-in-Chiefs, especially for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and more recently, AFRICOM. Besides Chairman General Martin Dempsey, U.S. Army, JCS members include Admiral James Winnefeld Jr.; General Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army; General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps; Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations; and General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.”
“Those who have headed the Central Command since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan include Lt. General Martin Dempsey; Admiral William Fallon; General John Abizaid; General Tommy Franks; Lt. General John Allen; and current commander General James Mattis. General Carter Ham of AFRICOM bears like responsibility.”3
I would lengthen considerably Professor Boyle’s list. War criminals could not be surrogate murderers without the help of their accessories, people who contribute to or aid in the commission of the murders. Accessories are legion. They include key members of the “shadow” government (i.e., CIA, NSA), Congressional leaders, leaders in the military, leaders in the war industry and on Wall St., including investors in the war industry, and who knows the rest?” I would not add combat personnel. While they volunteered for duty they risk their lives solely for the self interests of America’s corpocracy.
A line up facing America’s entire law enforcement and criminal justice system ought to keep prosecutors and courts busy and prisons full for years. But that is not how America’s inverted justice system works. America’s war criminals and their accessories get away with surrogate murders while America imprisons children for life and puts away for life petty, recidivist thieves.4The powerful of America make the laws, interpret the laws, and then break them with impunity. The powerless, the vast majority of ordinary Americans, had better watch their step or else.
As far as I know not one of America’s living war criminals or their accessories have ever been prosecuted in an American court. Symbolic courts such as tribunals have found some of the war criminals guilty in absentia but such tribunals amount to pretend justice.5 Two towns in Vermont, Brattleboro and Marlboro, voted to arrest Bush and Cheney but these two war criminals simply avoid justice by avoiding those towns.6
Neither has the International Criminal Court (ICC) ever hauled America’s war criminals and their accessories into its court. The reason is not because the U.S. has refused to be a signatory to the ICC since any signatory nation harmed by U.S. militarism can file a suit against the U.S. The reason is because this court also practices inverted justice by prosecuting war criminals in weak nations and not also war criminals in powerful nations.7
Total absence of justice domestically and internationally in the course of human affairs would turn those affairs into barbarism. The power elite of America’s corpocracy are slowly heading the U.S. and the world in that direction. It is imperative, therefore, especially in matters of war and peace, that justice is served, and that is why the search for ways to bring America’s war criminals and their accessories to justice must continue. If never held accountable for their crimes the crimes will continue by some of the same and some new faces.
In Search of Justice
A Roadmap to Prosecution
A former Los Angeles county prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, has argued that “no Federal, state or local statute says there is any person who can't be prosecuted for murder.”8 Such a legal opinion opens the door to the use of citizen arrests of America’s war criminals and their accessories. At least two peace and antiwar organizations, War is a Crime, and Code Pink, promote this approach and provide tips on how to proceed.9 A Code Pink member attempted a citizen’s arrest of Karl Rove, who helped mastermind the propagandized build up to the Iraq War in the Bush administration.10 In another failed attempt to arrest Mr. Rove the citizen attempting it was taken to court for trespassing. When asked by the judge what the charge was, the defendant’s answer was that she was attempting to arrest Mr. Rove, to which the judge replied, “It’s about time.”11 If only a real case against the war criminals could be brought before him!
At first blush Citizens’ arrests may seem like cul de sacs to avoid since they are unlikely to lead to any arrests, let alone prosecution and conviction, and that was my initial thinking. On second thought, though, the approach does offer a modicum of “stage one” accountability in that targeted persons probably experience some embarrassment, carefully choose when and where to appear in public, learn to look over their shoulders, and hire body guards.
Search for Bold District Attorneys
Mr. Bugliosi said that, of the 2,700 district and county attorneys having the power to prosecute, "There should be one prosecutor bold enough to say 'No man is above the law'. I am looking for that courageous prosecutor and I am not going to be satisfied until I see George W. Bush in an American courtroom prosecuted for murder."12 He was quoted in 2008. I see no record of his having found any and learned at the same time that his search had ended. He died in 2015.
Our roadmap needs to pick up where he left off by continuing the search in communities like Brattleboro and Marlboro to find prosecutors willing to locate and represent some war inflicted cases (e.g., PTS cases, suicide cases) that would give them standing in court, and then file a barrage of lawsuits to convince judges to have the charged war criminals hauled into court.
Beseech the President-Elect
I mailed to Barack Obama a speech I proposed that he deliver for his first inaugural address promising a peaceful America. I never got a response.13 I will try again with President-elect Donald Trump since some knowledgeable observers think his foreign policy will be less militaristic and imperialistic.14 A legion of Americans doing the same might eventually give the world a more peaceful president.
Seek International Justice
It may be fanciful to expect the power elite of America’s corpocracy to ever allow members of their own kind, the war criminals and their accessories, to be brought to justice. The Court of Last Resort may have to be the ICC. Despite its history of fecklessness in the face of transgressions by powerful nations there is cause for some optimism. The ICC’s prosecutor has said recently that she had a “reasonable basis to believe” that American soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan, including torture and that a full investigation was likely.15
I have signed a petition asking the ICC to prosecute U.S. war crimes. I encourage readers to do the same.16 Thousands if not millions of signatures would probably be needed to persuade the undecided prosecutor.
On the Road
We know who America’s war criminals and their accessories are. We know what crimes they have committed. We know what must be done to prosecute them. What we do not know is whether there will be enough Americans on the cyberspace road to the ICC to convince it to carry out its responsibility to serve justice for all aggrieved people of the world regardless of how powerful or powerless their nations are.
1. See, e.g., Brumback, GB. America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015, 253-259.
2. See http://www.crimesofwar.org/about/crimes-of-war/
3. Ross, S. More than 30 Top U.S. Officials Guilty of War Crimes, Boyle Says. Opednews.com, December 11, 2012.
4. See Giroux, HA. The United States’ War on Youth: From Schools to Debtors’ Prisons. Truthout, October 21, 2016; and also, Marks, A. The Impact of '3 Strikes' Laws a Decade Later. The Christian Science Monitor March 10, 2004.
5. See Duffett, J. Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the Russell International War Crimes Tribunal. O'hare Books, 1968; also, Ridley, Y. Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia. Foreign Policy Journal, May 12, 2012.
6. Sullivan, A. Vermont Towns Vote to Arrest Bush and Cheney. Reuters, March 5, 2008.
7. Roberts, PC. Little War Criminals Get Punished, Big Ones Don't. Opednews.com, July 16, 2008.
8. Ross, S. Conference on War Crimes Yields 20 Recommendations, Including Impeachment.
Daily Impeachment News, September 18, 2008.
9. See http://www.codepink.org/, and http://warisacrime.org/
10. Mail Foreign Service. Code Pink Protester Attempts a Citizen's Arrest on Karl Rove at Book Signing. Daily Mail, May 12, 2010.
11. Armbruster, B. Judge on Rove’s Citizen Arrest: ‘It’s About Time.’ Think Progress, August 1, 2008.
12. Ross. Op. Cit. 2008.
13. Brumback. Op. Cit. 188-189.
14. See, e.g., William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report #147, What Can Go Wrong? November 30, 2016.
15. Sengupia, S. & Simonsnov, M. U.S. Forces May Have Committed War Crimes in Afghanistan, Prosecutor Says. New York Times, November 14, 2016.
16. See http://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/people-of-the-u-s-and-world-ask-icc-to-prosecute-u-s-war-crimes
Saturday, November 19, 2016
AMERICA'S RAW STORY
America’s Corpocracy and its Finite Power
By Gary Brumback
Before examining America's corpocracy, or the collusion between corporate America and subservient government America, I will briefly examine the concept of power because the corpocracy cannot exist without its power.1 While I have written about the concept before, what follows is a considerably expanded conceptualization in the form of 16 tenets. They are intended to make sense of the meaning and use of human and artifactual (human made as in, for example, institutions and weapons) power, one of the most dominating and consequential phenomena in the course of human affairs. I hope readers find this introductory segment interesting and useful.
The Nature of Power
Power is the capacity to control resources of whatever kind and for whatever purpose. The greater that capacity up to and including super power the greater is the potential to control more resources for broader purposes. Maximum capacity, or super power, could lead to the control of all finite resources and thus eventually to their complete depletion. There are two corollaries to this first tenet. More power allows more choices. And more power allows more prosperity.
This capacity must be acquired. It is not innate. It can be shared. It can be handed down as in dynasties and elections of the twin party’s politicians.
All human and artifactual power is finite even if some of it is replaceable (e.g., US presidents). Nothing but death and taxes lasts forever. What will outlast malevolent, destructive and deadly super power and how and when is the pivotal question facing humanity.
What turns the capacity for power into its actual exercise is the behavior, in the form of decisions and subsequent actions and inactions, of the power holders. The origin of human power, therefore, is human, not supernatural, but this power can be amplified by artifacts such as laws and weapons and by institutions such as government agencies, all created as I said by humans.
To understand human power, therefore, requires understanding what causes human behavior. In my non-mathematical equation for human behavior, there are always two causes of behavior interacting with each other, the person and the situations and circumstances the person faces and may help create.2 The classic axiom of Lord Acton (1834-1902), “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is mostly bunkum. Power per se does not corrupt. Power is only the situational part of the behavioral equation. The person is the other. A morally upright person, moreover, no matter how much power he or she holds whether absolute or something less, is not necessarily corruptible and thus corrupting.
The axioms that “knowledge is truth” and “truth will set you free” are of limited usefulness to the general public in America’s corpocracy. It tells the general public what the “truth” is.
The notion of freedom, or our liberty quotient (i.e. the ratio of personal freedom to the lack of it), is tied inexorably to power and control over our lives, absolutely every sphere of it, whether the personal/social/cultural sphere, the economic sphere, the political sphere, or the environmental sphere.
The exercise of power is always consequential, ranging from small to large and from beneficial to harmful.
The exercise of power should always be judged by its behavior and its consequences. The judgment should always consider whether the two were morally right, the higher standard, and by the lower standard, the law of the land.
Whenever the exercise of power falls below either of those two standards wrongdoing in some kind and degree has occurred, and all wrongdoing is harmful in some kind and degree.
Power holders who exercise their power in ways that fall below either one of those two standards but especially the lower one should be held accountable for their wrongdoing. Failure to do so virtually guarantees repetitive wrongdoing with escalating consequences.
Power is never held equally throughout a heterogeneous population. Even within a small group, the power elite, some members hold more, some less power.
How much power an individual, group, government agency or corporation has can be approximately determined by the locus of the power (e.g., the CIA director versus a congressional committee member) and by the effort and effects of the power exercised. Minimal effort and maximum effects, or consequences, suggests maximum possible power at that time. Power can probably never be absolute but will come close to being so if the consequences apply to the entirety of the intended object, such as, for example, power over employees in a corporation or over prisoners.
A nation state that is an empire probably represents the maximum power that can be politically, economically, militarily and geographically held. The defining characteristics of an empire are "the permanent rule and exploitation of a defeated people by a conquering power."3
How long power is held before it loses some or all of its potency is difficult to predict, but easier to recognize. Who could have predicted in ancient times, for example, that the Egyptian empire would last over 3000 years or, for that matter that it would ever end?
The way power is exercised can vary in at least two categorical ways, soft power and hard power.4 Soft power is the use of non coercive means such as the use of diplomacy to control resources, while hard power is the use of coercive means up to and including, for example, mass murder from drone attacks.
Know the Enemy
America’s Corpocracy and its Accomplices
That famous piece of advice from Sun Tzu, the 6th century BCE Chinese general and military strategist, is simple enough that even school children understand it from experience. There is no chance of avoiding or overcoming the enemy without knowing exactly who it is and how it operates whether on the battlefield or playground.
I am on record as stating that America's corpocracy is the "world's public enemy number one." 5 I am not boasting about it, but instead am absolutely distressed and depressed because America is my native home land; yet facts are facts, truth is truth, and denial or ignorance of them reinforces the corpocracy and its power.
The corpocracy's power is always used to control resources of almost any kind (including truth through secrecy and the dissemination of falsehoods); is done through the behavior of human beings interacting with their situations and augmented by astronomically expensive artifacts; is morally repugnant wrongdoing that is never beneficial to anyone other than the corpocracy and is always harmful to everyone else; and is invariably immune to accountability.
Since its beginning over 240 years ago America's corpocracy has been directly responsible for countless millions of deaths and massive destruction in numerous foreign lands and for deplorable and intolerable domestic conditions for countless Americans not benefitting from the corpocracy. The corpocracy has institutionalized terror, or fear that strikes at the hearts of humanity, at home as a police state and away as a regime changer, destroyer and death dealer (according to world opinion the US is the greatest threat to world peace).
Readers undoubtedly know there is abundant evidence to substantiate such generalities since more specific evidence saturates the alternative media and elsewhere (but, not, obviously mainstream media).6
The corpocracy and its accomplices (sources of support for the corpocracy) are a polyglot of power holders and subordinate agents possessing varying levels of power buttressed by their artifacts such as the world's largest military and intelligence budget and implements. Within the corpocracy are first and foremost the power elite, followed by the courtiers and ideologues and the functionaries. Behind the corpocracy are the active accomplices. Next to the corpocracy are the inactive accomplices. All told those groups of people probably constitute roughly three fourths of the US population.
The Power Elite
When I was an undergraduate in the 1950s I read the sociologist C. Wright Mills’ book, The Power Elite about the small group of leaders in the military, political and economic arenas who dominate America.7 Although he didn’t use the term corpocracy, his power elite have always controlled the corpocracy, the rest of America, and through militaristic imperialism seek to control the world’s resources.
At America’s birth the founding plutocrats were the initial power elite. It has since grown over time to include the key people of most industries, especially war and related industries, and of major financial institutions (behind every war are banksters); influential politicians (e.g., the President and chairs of relevant Congressional committees); key people in the shadow government (e.g. the CIA); the US Supreme Court (never ruling a war unconstitutional); and influential advisors and ideologues such as The Defense Policy Board, the Brookings Institute, and the National Endowment for Democracy that recently called for the US to oust Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.8
The population of the power elite is infinitesimally small, numbering a few thousand compared to the total US population of approximately 325 million. So what we have in reverse biblical terms is a small but mighty goliath subduing a very large but very powerless David. Even so, America has not reached the status of being an empire by definition, notwithstanding the myriad, published references to it as such.9 America’s corpocracy, to be sure is nearly a super power but not an empire. At best I would call it an aspiring empire by proxy wars.
The functionaries, or careerists, are the millions of people in government and industry who carry out the daily dirty business of the corpocracy, including its continuous overt and covert war activities.
Active accomplices give intentional (but rarely acknowledged publicly) assistance in some form or another to the corpocracy. They include influential lobbyists, such as the US Chamber of Commerce; investors (particularly in the war industry); the “behavior shapers” such as war hawkish think tank ideologues who spin manifest destiny and the “cult of growth” belief that “bigger is better” (e.g. merger of large corporations into mega corporations); religious leaders (especially of the religious right); biased educators; PR firms; journalists); certain professions, especially the legal profession; and many physical and social sciences (e.g., the recent active support by the leadership of the American Psychological Association in the torturing of Guantanamo prisoners).
The “silent bystanders” of America represent the inactive accomplices who never in any meaningful way speak out against or actively protest war, yet the corpocracy draws immeasurable support from massive silence as opposed to massive resistance. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."10
There are undeniable reasons for why there are millions of silent bystanders. Years ago I listed about a dozen reasons.11I have now added another, fear. The corpocracy has ramped up considerably its draconian handling of outspoken dissidents seen as potential threats to its power. Witness the dragnets by NASA and FBI and the brutality of militarized police.
Confronting the Corpocracy
The Past and Present: A History of Failures and Lessons Learned
America has never been ruled by popular sovereignty. From its very beginning, the corpocracy has never ceased to exist and has gradually acquired more power until it has become the most powerful, lawless, and evil monstrosity the world has ever seen and experienced. It seems invincible. Nothing has stopped it. Every initiative throughout America’s history to dismantle the corpocracy has failed. Any successes have been partial or localized and short lived, and the corpocracy always knows exactly how to placate enough of the discontented public to keep the initiatives from growing to bigger successes. For example, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted The New Deal to defuse public unrest and to prevent the rise of socialism from threatening the power elite’s capitalism.
The American Revolution and the Civil War
Contrary to popular belief, the American Revolution was a failure. It enabled the “founding plutocrats” to substitute a new home grown corpocracy for that of King George instead of collaborating with the Native Americans to craft a new and democratic nation.
Later, dishonest Abe, wanting to preserve the union so as to ward off foreign invasions and to continue the corpocracy’s rapacious appetite for more control including more land pitted Americans against Americans, causing the unnecessary deaths of some 750,000 people. The Civil War was a disaster and an abject failure. Injustice to people of color subsequently turned even worse (e.g., the lynching of thousands of African Americans following the Civil War and the current brutality of police actions against people of color).
Coupled with the eventual growth of a fascist and militarized police state, the lesson to be learned from those two wars not on foreign soil is that the corpocracy will not hesitate to quash a rebellion or revolution against it. When he said it Thomas Jefferson surely was jesting that there should be a revolution every ten years.
Anti Corpocracy Movements
The Civil Rights movement against the corpocracy’s injustices to people of color led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that in turn, however, led to an outbreak of violence in the South, and certainly did not end the need for the movement.12 The act did lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and to affirmative action programs but the former has been weakened by passive state and local law enforcement and the latter’s effectiveness in removing racial barriers to school admissions and jobs is debatable at best.
Endless warring is a perpetual habit of America’s corpocracy.13 Its goal is not to end wars because that would end the need for the profitable war machine so there will always be war in some form or another and anti war protests and movements ebbing and flowing.
The penultimate antiwar movement was that protesting the Vietnam War. The movement was basically a failure in that it was not directly responsible for ending that war. The Nixon administration finally realized the war was a lost cause.14 Afterwards, Congress defused the potential of all future antiwar movements by ending the draft. What replaced it as a source for war recruits was the corpocracy’s shrinkage of job opportunities for young Americans. “Go to war for us and you will have a job.”
In the late 1990s there was a huge international, anti globalization movement of “tens of thousands of well-organized militant protesters” of two of the prime drivers of globalization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.15 Nothing much ever came of it.
The climate change movement has gone nowhere overall. The climate continues to degrade from all sorts of assaults on it by the corpocracy.
The anti homophobic movement seems to have been successful, but for a small proportion of the overall US population.
The “occupy” movement was mostly sound and little fury. Leaderless, poorly organized, underfunded, and internally contentious the movement fizzled as I predicted it would. It did get the attention of the corpocracy, which responded by strengthening the police state.
An exceptional movement that deserves mention is the one mobilized to stop and apparently has stopped Congressional ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP.16 It sounds benign but it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing as it would enhance corporate globalization and control over nominally sovereign governments. The victory needs to be qualified, however. Corporate America has fared very well without the TPP because of lax government regulations, NAFTA and the like. Stopping TPP, therefore, does not stop America’s corpocracy.
Anti corpocracy movements are likely to fail in general because of the corpocracy’s super power to rebound an retaliate, and particularly if movements are poorly organized, poorly mobilized and are issue specific, as was the albeit successful TPP movement, and thus do not form a coalition of coordinated movements targeting all parts of America’s corpocracy, the overarching, umbrella issue. It needs to be the unifying target if there is to be any chance for an anti corpocracy movement to succeed in changing America’s corpocracy into a full-fledged democracy, the ultimate goal of any serious and comprehensive challenge to America’s corpocracy.
The apparent certainty of the corpocracy’s supremacy is why I proposed several years ago and tried to implement what I named "two-fisted democracy power," with one fist being a coalition of numerous segments of our society (e.g., existing grass-roots movements) to provide the political pressure behind a coordinated plan of strategic reforms to be carried out by the other fist, a US Chamber of Democracy, an on-line network of numerous NGOs that claim to be seeking to change the status quo but are not united in their efforts and clearly are not changing the status quo. I contacted 176 NGOs, most of them twice or more with follow-up reminders. Only five endorsed the idea. I belatedly realized that America’s NGOs had been co-opted by the corpocracy.17
Petitions, Internet Activism, and Protests
Petitions, Internet activism, and protests are a dime a dozen and basically worthless, including my own petitions and Internet activism.
In early 2013 the White House announced it would consider a petition if it had garnered at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days. In that same announcement statistics were cited indicating that up to then over 141 petitions had been received averaging 65 signatures on each!18 I seriously doubt that 200 million signatures on a petition to stop the corpocracy’s endless warring and spying would actually stop it. A 240 year old habit won’t be stopped by an avalanche of petitions. And outgoing President Obama agrees, having been quoted saying shortly before this last general election that “future presidents may wage perpetual, secret drone war.19
Worth watching though are the “Standing Rock” protests of Native Americans against the proposed oil pipeline straddling the North and South Dakota borderline that would traverse their sacred burial grounds and endanger their water supply. Protestors have been brutalized by the militarized police, are gaining sympathy among the populace, and have attracted the attention of UN observers who have begun an investigation into the protesters' claims of human rights abuses, including "excessive force, unlawful arrests, and mistreatment in jail,".20
Boycotting the Corpocracy from Outside and Within
Boycotts have minimal to little effect. Corporations can afford them. Ethical Consumer earlier this year listed corporations alphabetically from Adidas to West County Dairy Products that were boycotted by various groups for one reason or another.21 As far as I can tell the corporations on the list are still thriving. As for the war industry, the government, not the consumer public is the buyer and is not about to ban for long any wayward contractors of any significance. At most the government assesses picayune fines.22 War, after all, is the “hardest” power the corpocracy has to wield, and to wield it broadly an ample supply of war and intelligence contractors are needed.
A few local ordinances have been passed that curtail a tiny piece of the corpocracy’s reach. For example, the city of Turlock, California passed an ordinance barring Wal-Mart from building a store there; and, during the Bush-Cheney reign of terror, there were reportedly around 40 town councils in Vermont that had voted to have this pair impeached or arrested if not impeached.23 Bush and Cheney may be unwelcome in parts of Vermont but have yet been brought to trial.
Local ordinances are just that, local, of little to no value beyond the jurisdiction passing the ordinance.
Since the legislative branch of government is indebted to corporate America, opponents of the corpocracy can hardly expect any significant help from legislators to start dismantling it, although there have been a few legislative initiatives with limited implementation and impact.
Given public outcries over the US Supreme Court ruling in the Citizen’s United case purportedly giving Constitutional rights to corporations, a proposal was introduced a few years ago in Congress to overturn that ruling. It was soundly defeated. But it was irrelevant anyway. Corporations already had Constitutional rights before the ruling (e.g., corporations’ rights to due process and to be free from unreasonable searches), and a Constitutional Amendment in any case is not needed “to restore the traditional limits on court jurisdiction over the political question of private money in elections.”24
As the obvious has already been noted, US presidents are members of the corpocracy’s power elite. Congress, with some of its members being members in good standing of the same power elite, has the authority to impeach US presidents for unconstitutional acts. Two U.S. Presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives—Andrew Johnson in 1868 for conspiring to assist Britain in capturing Spanish territory, and Bill Clinton in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice over his sexual misconduct but both presidents were later acquitted at trials held by the Senate. Jackson was the only case where Congress decided his militaristic imperialism violated the Constitution. US presidents have always been free to be surrogate murderers at will (Einstein said all war is an act of murder, and one wag said killing one is an act of murder and killing hundreds of thousands is foreign policy).
Taking the Corpocracy to Court
In times of an American Corpocracy, the law falls silent.
--- Cicero 100BC-43BC paraphrased
Here are some of those laws:
First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendments
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Geneva Convention’s Article 3
Rome Statute (Article 7) of the International Criminal Court
UN Charter’s Articles 2, 5, 33, and 51
U.S. Constitution Articles 1 and 3
Whistleblower protection laws
Consumer Protection Laws
Employee protection laws
Environmental protection laws
And any and all laws against murder
Well, the corpocracy literally does not get sued, of course, but its people and their artifacts (e.g., corporations) do get sued. Cicero could have predicted what would happen to lawsuits throughout the 240 year history of America’s corpocracy---not much for the plaintiffs.
By far the most grievous and the most abusive practice of power by America’s corpocracy are its international war criminals yet they are mostly insulated from being prosecuted. Tribunals held to try them are purely symbolic with no legal authority or with unenforced legal authority. An example was the “Russell Tribunal” whose verdict was that the US had acted criminally in its war against Vietnam.25Another was the Kuala Lumpurrt War Crimes Commission that found George W. Bush and seven key members of his administration guilty of war crimes in absentia for the illegal invasion of Iraq.26
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is reportedly going to investigate US war crimes in Afghanistan, but “hold the cheers” writes Stephen Lendman, a prolific writer and knowledgeable pundit on international affairs.27 The ICC has never held the US accountable and is unlikely to do so now. The US government refuses to join the ICC as a signatory, but that would not matter if the court were not scared of the US.
Our corpocracy’s international war criminals, in other words, go scot free, escaping legal accountability up to and including their natural death.
Lawsuits against corporations are relatively common but affordable, simply the price of “anything goes” business. In the case of RJ Reynolds, for example, a widow won a $26.3 billion lawsuit against it.28 The tobacco giant will stay in business with a dependable supply of addicted customers. Walmart is a lightning rod for lawsuits against it yet I doubt they will ever bankrupt the company.
Lawsuits against deep-pocketed Corporate America are unlikely, therefore, to bring it to its knees. Furthermore, Government America has built a number of shields against accountability such as limited liability, corporate personhood, anemic tort law, non prosecution, deferred prosecution, etc., etc. for its Corporate America masters.29 Additionally, corporations have learned the unethical maneuver of requiring customers of big ticket items to sign waivers prohibiting them from filing class action suits.30 As for the war industry, it seems totally unaccountable for its role in overt and covert war engaged in by its war addicted customer.
If most politicians were morally upstanding citizens there would be no corporacy ipso facto presto.
A day before the general election I tweeted this cynical tweet, “No surprise tomorrow. Two sides of same coin. Take your pick or flip it.” The silent minority (losing the popular vote), angered over the establishment, took their pick. More of the same Oval Office behavior to follow I expect unless President-elect Trump means what he says. If he establishes a cordial relationship with Russia and begins reining in the military/industrial/political triumvirate I will tip my hat to the pickers.
In my Devil’s Marriage book I discussed the following initiatives that conceivably could “close the corpocracy’s political/judicial circus:” dump the party twins; revive progressivism; try deliberative democracy and also its derivative, direct decrees; create or revitalize an independent party; end politics as a career by instituting term limits for members of Congress; end campaign financing; out the touts (i.e., lobbyists); plug the burrowers’ holes (i.e., giving outgoing political appointees civil service positions; lock the revolving doors and archways to prevent moving back and forth between political appointments and industry and lobbyist positions; knock down voting hurdles; shrink the big beast; restore justice to the corporatized courts; and pursue miscellaneous legislative reforms.31
A spot check of the literature shows that some of these initiatives have been tried, but none has really succeeded as intended. Dumping the party twins, for example, is a fanciful initiative. They never have been dumped by the electorate.
One initiative I have wavered on is that of secession. As I have already mentioned, President Lincoln squashed the first attempt at secession for the sake of preserving unified imperialism. Allowing the secession would have avoided a unified corpocracy and its ruination of everything in its path.32 Since then several states have sought to secede and failed to do so. Currently, an acquaintance of mine, Marcus Ruis Evans is marshalling support in California to have it secede.33 I told him that while I supported his initiative California is so saturated with war industry contractors doing business with the US government that I could not imagine the initiative would succeed. The corpocracy, after all, is what the founding plutocrats wanted in order to grow their “empire.” As an alternative to secession I advocate dissolving central, nationalized government and replacing it with separate and independent regionalized governments.
I mentioned in my book the “ridiculous” Electoral College only as an aside because eliminating it a constitutional scholar had told me would require an amendment to the Constitution. Daily Kos people disagree. Distraught over Ms Clinton having won the popular vote but not the College vote they are circulating a petition to support an “end run” around the Constitution.34 Had their end run actually existed before the Trump/Clinton travesty without including an alternative to plurality voting such as ranked choice voting simply the other side of the twin party coin would be the president-elect.
Another initiative I did not discuss but support is ranked choice voting. So do the majority of voters in Maine who, ironically, bound by popular vote voted to implement ranked choice in choosing Maine’s next governor and seats in the U.S. House and Senate, State House and State Senate.35 Maine is the first state to break away from popular voting. Whether any other states follow suit in the future remains to be seen.
The Status Quo in Corpocracy America
· Corrupt corporate control of corrupt politicians
· Vulgar wealth of the power elite
· Militaristic imperialism plus endless covert/overt wars
· Devastation and death for countless and mounting millions of war victims
· War industry’s draining of the peoples’ national budget
· Soaring poverty and unemployment and pittance wages
· Glaring social injustice
· Militarized, discriminatory and abusive police
· Fearful, misinformed and uninformed general public
· Polluted environment, drinking water and food
· Inadequate health care for millions of needy
· Etc, etc, -------etc.
So the Quest Must Continue for a New and Better America
No Matter How Hopeless
No Matter How Far
---Cervantes/Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha paraphrased
If America and her global neighbors are to avoid the dismal scenarios of the future such as the ones I have depicted elsewhere (e.g., armed revolution; escalating blowbacks from groups in nations droned by the corpocracy and ruled by implanted dictators; ecocide; genocide; manufactured plague; and Armageddon ), the quest must continue for viable ways to dismantle her corpocracy and replace it with a governance of bona fide self rule by the citizenry.36
Some pundits see signs that the corpocracy’s “empire” is in decline.37 If so, it is proceeding at a snail’s pace (most of history’s putative empires lasted far longer than 240 years). What might be done to quicken it before one or more of my scenarios become reality?
Some pundits in print call for a revolution.38The typical revolution is a ghastly, bloody sight, neither civil nor peaceful. That leaves little room for peaceful revolutions like the “Velvet Revolution” that overthrew the communist regime of the former Czechoslovakia. Peaceful demonstrations by small groups of students, artists, and scientists were followed by massive demonstrations, a general strike, the major media’s decision to join the general strike, and negotiations with the Communist-controlled government that subsequently acceded to a new government led by Mr. Vaclav Havel.39 I definitely do not recommend a revolution of any kind. The communist-controlled government was not a corporate controlled government that would unleash a deadly backlash in reaction to any form of revolution. Furthermore, the only path to peace in my opinion is peace itself, which eschews the very idea of any form of violence.
Resurrect the USCD?
My proposal to establish “two fisted democracy power” was a comprehensive strategy to tackle all elements of America’s corpocracy. One “fist” would be a US Chamber of Democracy, an Internet connected organization of alliances (e.g., one for legal and regulatory reform; one for outreach; and one for oversight and “strike force”) coupled with the other “fist,” or a unified movement, 40 The proposal failed for lack of funding and my naïve reliance on NGOs that were dependent on the status quo. I would resurrect the proposal if I were not an octogenarian and could rely on the munificence of the “super wealthy” who Ralph Nader claims, are “the only ones who can save us,” to bankroll my proposed initiative.41 But I have my doubts about his claim based on the many wealthy foundations that declined to fund the USCD. One in particular stands out, the Peace and Security Funders Group, a large network of extremely wealthy public, private and family foundations, and individual philanthropists, that is “committed to promoting international peace and security.42 Balderdash!! What the “ultra rich” generally seem to be doing instead one study of them concludes “---is undermining global democracy.”43
So my answer to my question is “No, unless prominent, wealthy citizens who reject the power elite can lead the USCD and it can be adequately funded and sustained until its goal of overturning and replacing America’s corpocracy is realized.
Twitter”sod,” or twitter “save our democracy,” was one of my ambitious forays into Internet activism that left me empty handed.44 The idea, probably exemplifying my naivete/ was to have millions of twitters in twitter land tweet POTUS and Congressional leaders on the same day demanding an end to war. I still think Internet Activism has untapped potential for mobilizing reformers but I am not the one to un-tap it. Google “Internet activism” and you will disgorge roughly one and a half million sites. Separating the chaff from the wheat, though, is not a task for me anymore.
Build an Umbrella Anti Corpocracy Movement
I failed several years ago to do just that in trying to implement a peoples’ “reign”bow coalition.45 Is it worth trying again? I think it is but not by me. It must be done by influential people championing it and possessing or garnering the means to build it and to make it successful in replacing America’s corpocracy with a “new America,” one that truly accomplishes the promise in the preamble to the Constitution to “promote the general welfare,” a promise the authoring plutocrats never intended to keep nor have any of their long line of heirs.
Mobilize and Unify Peace and Anti-War Groups into a Peace Coalition
George Bernard Shaw once said poverty is the greatest crime. I disagree. The greatest crime is the endless warring by America’s corpocracy that bankrupts all national revenues but those reserved for the corpocracy, leaving crumbs for society’s legitimate needs and that destroys and kills in far-away lands. A nation always at war by any name and by any means cannot possibly be a hospitable nation for all of her people. If there is one single-issue movement desperately worth trying to mobilize again, therefore, it is this issue. That is why a few years ago I proposed 24 initiatives to “wage war on war” figuratively speaking.46 They basically remain stuck on paper.
There are scores of allegedly peace and antiwar groups in America. They failed me once in my overture to them to create a Peace Coalition.47 The same resources I mentioned that would be needed to launch an umbrella movement are the same needed to launch a campaign to tackle the single but overriding issue of war and peace.
Prosecute U.S. International War Criminals
While America’s entire corpocracy, not just its industrial/military/political triumvirate, is responsible for the conditions of the status quo, the war business is the underlying cause of it all. The war business is also the one that if not stopped will eventually lead to doomsday. A pressing question, of course, is how can the corpocracy’s international war criminals be prosecuted before they do more surrogate murdering or die of old age and escape accountability altogether as it is said will likely be the case with nonagenarian Henry Kissinger.48
There is no shortage of proposals to prosecute US international war criminals but there appears to be a total shortage of prosecutions. In 2008, for example, more than 120 public officials, lawyers, academics, and authorities on the U.S. Constitution and international law attended a two day Conference on War Crimes that resulted in 20 recommendations “ranging from asking the next U.S. Attorney General to prosecute Bush, to having any of some 2,700 county district attorney’s launch proceedings against him for murder, to having Bush prosecuted for war crimes in other countries.49 I learned of the conference report six years later in 2014. I see nothing on the Internet to indicate that there have been any substantive actions emanating from the conference report. When years later there is still nothing more than paper to show for the deliberations of 120 distinguished citizens what does that say about the likelihood of U.S. war criminals ever being brought to trial, let alone convicted and sentenced?
Rather than be defeatist about it, though, I want to float two ideas. One is that truly genuine peace and anti war organizations (i.e. the ones that do not exist simply for the sake of existence) ought to collaborate to corral out of those 2700 county district attorneys the more courageous and less cowed ones and cajole them into finding and representing some war inflicted cases (e.g., PTS cases, suicide cases) that would give them standing in court and then file a barrage of lawsuits to convince judges to place the charged internal war criminals in court.
The second involves the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). Its members represented Vietnam War draft resisters, antiwar activists, and the Chicago 7 after the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention.50 A cursory review of recent NLG involvements shows none mounting legal challenges against the corpocracy’s war machine. The NLG thus needs to be emboldened to file law suits against the U.S. international war criminals. But who will do the emboldening? Perhaps some of those county district attorneys?
Turn the Tables?
Scaring the masses is a tried and true tactic of despotic regimes that America’s corpocracy adopted. It is past due time to scare the masses from a different angle, that of convincing them that their station in life and that of their descendents will continue to deteriorate until it is too late to live. The devil is in the details naturally for who will do the convincing and how? Who has enough resources and ingenuity to outwit the corporate media and governments’ tactics?
There is no lack of facts available about how the corpocracy is turning America into a ruination. But who will compile, digest and disseminate them to the general public? Certainly not the National Museum of American History in the nation’s capital. Its exhibit on "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War" says David Swanson, activist, author, and Nobel peace laureate nominee a few years ago and leader of the Beyond War organization, “---is an extravaganza of lies and deceptions,” but then adds that “---overwhelmingly the lying is done in this exhibit by omission. Bad past excuses for wars are ignored, the death and destruction is ignored or falsely reduced.”51 Certainly not the National Library of Congress or the Presidential Libraries! America needs instead a mobile “Peoples’ Library” navigating throughout the nation dispensing eye appealing and readable exhibits and facts. The Corporate Crime Watch group would be one good source for that library.52 I cannot imagine that any large PR firms would volunteer to help. They are too busy promoting and whitewashing the corpocracy.
Seize the Moments
America is a large diverse nation with countless happenings around the clock. Among them are opportunities to be magnified in confronting the corpocracy. To take just one example, investors are telling the auto industry “to move to low carbon—or else.”53 What is needed is an organization like the proposed USCD, whether an online or bricks and mortar one, to track such opportunities and then magnify them to a “tipping point” and beyond.
A Final Word, Finally
My analogy of Don Quixote was deliberate. And I have used it before. Throughout my entire career I tilted at the windmills of various government agencies. Near the end of my career I coauthored an article, “Tilting at the Bureaucracy,” with a gentleman, since deceased, who was then the Federal government’s highest ranking civil servant.54 Even he was no match for the Fed’s windmill. But as big as it is it is miniscule compared to that of the entire corpocracy.
If we are to have any chance of being good ancestors of the future we must not give up, not be fatalistic, not be pessimistic. We must continue the quest! We must continue tilting at the corpocracy’s windmill until it stops turning.
1. Brumback, GB. The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch. Author House, 2011.
2. Brumback, GB. I conceived and first published this nonmathematical equation in my book, Tall Performance From Short Organizations Through We/MePower. Author House, 2004.
3. Parsons, T. The Rule of Empires. Oxford University Press, 2010
4. Nye, JS., Jr. Soft Power: The Means To Success In World Politics. Public Affairs, 2009
5. Brumback, GB. American Herald Tribune, October 26; Dissident Voice, October 26; Uncommon Thought Journal, November 1; Op Ed News, November 6.
6. As a start see the list of “sadtistics” in Chapter 8 of my book, America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.
7. Mills, CW. The Power Elite, Oxford University Press, 1959.
8. Parry, R. Key Neocon Calls On US To Oust Putin. October 11, 2016, www.consortiumnews.com
9. The alternative news outlets are awash with articles about America’s “empire.” Here is a small sampling: Bill Blum regularly publishes his informative “Anti-Empire Report at https://williamblum.org. See also, e.g., Stryker, D. The US Empire Versus Russia's. OpEdNews, November 3, 2016; Thacker, J. Has America Always Been a Greedy Empire? Consortium News AlterNet, May 22, 2012; Baroud, R. A New American Reality: An Empire beyond Salvation. Cyrano’s Journal, April 10, 2014; and Marshall, AG. Engineering Empire: An Introduction to the Intellectuals and Institutions of American Imperialism. Dissident Voice, June 1, 2013.
10. I am indebted to Rob Kall for reminding me of this quote as it is printed at the end of his OEN e-mail messages.
11. Brumback. Op. cit. pp. 11-13.
12. Vox, L. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Did Not End the Movement For Equality. About Education, February 28, 2016.
13. Brumback, GB. America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform. 2015.
14. Allison, RJ. Antiwar Movement: Was the Vietnam Era Antiwar Movement Successful?" History in Dispute. Vol. 2: American Social and Political Movements, 1945-2000: Pursuit of Liberty. 2000. 3-10. U.S. History in Context. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.
15. Danahar, K. Insurrection: Citizen Challenges to Corporate Rule. Routledge, 2003, p. 306.
16. Zeese, K.& Flowers, M. The TPP is Dead: The People Defeat Transnational Corporate Power. OpEdNews, November 11, 2016.
17. Brumback, GB. Tyranny's Hush Money. OpEdNews, September 28, 2013.
18. Phillips, M. Why We’re Raising the Signature Threshold for We the People. The White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog, January 15, 2013.
19. Kelly, A.R. Obama Acknowledges Future Presidents May Wage Perpetual, Secret Drone War. Truthdig, Oct 5, 2016.
20. Leupp, G. Standing Rock and Imperialism Itself. Counterunch, November 8, 2016; see also, McCauley, L. UN Observers Monitoring Abuses Against Standing Rock Water Protectors. Common Dreams, November 1, 2016.
21. Ethical Consumer. List of Consumer Boycotts, May 2016
22. Brumback. Op. cit. 2015, Chapter 5.
23. Staff. Court Upholds Blocking of Wal-Mart Store. Los Angeles Times, July 05, 2006; and Sullivan, A. Vermont Towns Vote to Arrest Bush and Cheney. Reuters, March 5, 2008.
24. Leas, M. and Hager, R. The Problem With Citizens United Is Not Corporate Personhood. Truthout, January 17, 2012.
25. Duffett, J. Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the Russell International War Crimes Tribunal. O'hare Books, 1968.
26. Ridley, Y. Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia. Foreign Policy Journal, May 12, 2012.
27. Lendman, S. ICC to Investigate US War Crimes in Afghanistan? Hold the Cheers. Greanville Post, November 1, 2016.
28. Sifferlin, A. $23.6 Billion Lawsuit Winner to Big Tobacco: “Are You Awake Now?” Time.com, July 22, 2014.
29. Brumback. Op. cit. 2011, Chapter 8.
30. See e.g., Haleck, T. X Box Users Must Waive Right to Class Action Suits: Experts Weigh In. International Business Times, August 8, 2013.
31. Brumback. Op. cit. 2011. Chapter 6.
32. Brumback. Op. cit. p. 38.
33. Hawes, W. Secede to Succeed An Interview with YesCalifornia's Marcus Ruiz Evans. Dissident Voice, October 28th, 2016.
34. E-mail from Daily Kos on November 10, 2016.
35. Associated Press. Maine Question 5 — Allow Ranked-Choice Voting — Results: Approved
New York Times, November 11, 2016.
36. See, e.g., Brumback. Op. cit. 2015, pp. 220-231.
37. See, e.g., Fitzgerald, P. & Gould, E. America, an Empire in Twilight. OpEdNews, November 1, 2016.
38. See, e.g., Hedges, C. Revolution Is in the Air. Truthdig, April 16, 2016.
39. Brumback. Op. cit. 2011, p. 40.
40. Brumback. Op. cit. 2011, pp. 44-49.
41. Nader, R. Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! Seven Stories Press, 2011.
42. Peace and Security Funders Group. http://peaceandsecurity.org/
43. Lazare, S. Ultra-Rich ‘Philanthrocapitalist’ Class Undermining Global Democracy, Study Says. Common Dreams, January 17, 2016.
44. Brumback, GB. Twittersod, America’s Corpocracy and Endless Warring. Dissident Voice, August 12, 2015; OpEdNews, August 13, 2015.
45. Brumback.Op. cit. 2011, pp. 49-61.
46. Brumback. Ibid. pp. 135-143.
47. See, e.g., Brumback, GB. What are Antiwar Organizations Accomplishing? The Greanville Post, August 22, 2012; also, Brumback, GB. Do Antiwar Organizations Depend on War? Dissident Voice, October 22, 2012; and A Deadly Monster. Part 3: How the War Making Triumvirate Might be "Pacified." OpEdNews, January 18, 2013.
48. Lendman. Op. cit.
49. Ross, S. Conference on War Crimes Yields 20 Recommendations, Including Impeachment.
Daily Impeachment News, September 18, 2008.
50. See https://www.nlg.org/about/history/
51. Swanson, D. Teach the Children War. OpEdNews, March 20, 2013.
53. Macalister, T. Investors Tell Auto Industry to Move to Low Carbon—or Else. Truthdig, October 13, 2016.
54. Brumbacck, GB. & McFee, TS. 2006. Tilting at the Bureaucracy. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 45, (5), 2006, pp. 72-75.