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The Invisible Government in America

The Invisible Government Book Cover

The Invisible Government Book Cover

The Invisible Government is a startling and disturbing book. It is the first full, authentic account of America’s intelligence and espionage apparatus, an invisible government. With the CIA at its center that conducts the clandestine polices. The book was a best seller from the authors of “The U-2 Affair”.

The Invisible Government by David Wise and Thomas B. Ross.(New York: Random. 1964. 375 pp. $5.95.) Book review by Charles E. Valpey, from CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM. (Released in full: 18 SEPT 95; Posted: May 08, 2007; Last Updated: Aug 04, 2011; Last Reviewed: May 08, 2007.)

CONFIDENTIAL

The journalist-authors of this best-seller admit that Communist subversion and espionage pose a unique threat to the American people and their government, and they accept the necessity under certain circumstances for secret American efforts to prevent Moscow and Peking from gaining new allegiances. But they profess to believe that our secret attempts to meet the Communist challenge constitute so real a threat to our own freedoms that they must be exposed in as detailed and dramatic a way as possible. If the Soviets are profiting from these revelations, as they are, -Vise and Ross apparently think that such self-inflicted wounds must be endured in the battle against excessive secrecy.

Broadly stated, their thesis is that the U.S. intelligence community, with the CIA at its heart, has grown so big and powerful that it threatens the democracy it was designed to defend. The CIA, they say, conducts its own clandestine foreign policy, and even the President – has been unable to control it. The State Department is powerless to exert policy direction because its ambassadors are kept uninformed and are habitually by-passed by CIA operatives. The Congress has abdicated its legislative role and votes huge secret funds without adequate knowledge of how the money is spent.

If all this were true, American democracy would certainly be in serious trouble, and the alarm professed about the “invisible government” would be justified. But is it true? Strangely enough, the authors themselves provide, ambiguously, a negative answer to this question which is so central to their major thesis. They concede the existence of institutional arrangements designed to give the President and his principal foreign policy advisors the very kind of close policy control over secret operations that they ought to have. Early in the book, they mention the existence of a “Special Group” which :makes the major decisions regarding clandestine operations, though they say it is so secret that it is “unknown outside the innermost circle of the Invisible Government.” The reader must wait through 255 pages to learn that the members of this policy group are no sinister shadows but McGeorge Bundy in the White House, Secretary of Defense McNamara, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and the Director of Central Intelligence. These are just the officials that one would expect the President to have chosen to advise him on matters of high clandestine policy, and they are far from invisible.

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American Militarism and Hegemony of Military Establishment

US Military Expenditure 2001-2012

US Military Expenditure 2001-2012

U.S. Military bases and installations around the world

U.S. Military bases and installations around the world

US Military Spending as proportion of total federal budget in FY 2009

US Military Spending as proportion of total federal budget in FY 2009

US Military Spending versus the world in 2008

US Military Spending versus the world in 2008

Allocation of US 2010 Taxes

Allocation of US 2010 Taxes

Global Distribution of Military Expenditure in 2010

Global Distribution of Military Expenditure in 2010

Top Military Spender Countries in 2009

Top Military Spender Countries in 2009

Partial List of U.S. Military Interventions 1947-2009

Partial List of U.S. Military Interventions 1947-2009

 

The following paragraphs are from a forthcoming book: American Society how it actually works, Chapter 20: Militarism and Empire, written By Erik Olin Wright & Joel Rogers.

Most Americans think of the military power of the United States in roughly the following way:
[The world is a dangerous place. There are war-making aggressive, hostile forces in the world, countries which oppress their own people and threaten others, as well political movements that are prepared to use violence to get their way. We must oppose these threats to our national security. But we are not aggressors. We have a Department of Defense, not a Department of War. We use our military power to defend freedom, to defend democracy, to protect America, but not to dominate other countries and people. If sometimes serious problems arise from our use of military power, as in the Vietnam War or in the Iraq war, mostly these reflect bad judgment, poor information or inadequate understanding of the context rather than bad motives or malevolent goals. Even though we are not perfect, we are a moral force in the world and use our military power for moral purposes. ]  That is the dominant view of the American military. Three stark facts about the reality of American military power stand in tension with this idealized view.
1. The United States spends orders of magnitude more on the military than any other country. As indicated in Figures 20.1 and 20.2, in 2008 military spending in the United States accounted for nearly half of the world’s total military spending.  This is more than the next 46 highest spending countries in the world combined. It is 5.8 times larger than the spending on the military in China, 10.2 times larger than in Russia and almost 100 times larger than in Iran. If you add to the American figures the spending by the strongest allies of the United States – the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia – the total comes to 72% of the world’s total. The United States is not simply the world’s only superpower; our military dwarfs that of all potential adversaries combined.

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Racial Inequality in Modern United States of America

Racial Inequality in Modern United States of America

Racial Inequality in Modern United States of America

Race and racial inequality have powerfully shaped American history from its beginnings. Americans like to think of the founding of the American colonies and, later, the United States, as driven by the quest for freedom – initially, religious liberty and later political and economic liberty. Yet, from the start, American society was equally founded on brutal forms of domination, inequality and oppression which involved the absolute denial of freedom for slaves.

This is one of the great paradoxes of American history – how could the ideals of equality and freedom coexist with slavery? We live with the ramifications of that paradox even today.
In this chapter we will explore the nature of racial inequality in America, both in terms of its historical variations and contemporary realities. We will begin by clarifying precisely what we mean by race, racial inequality and racism.  We will then briefly examine the ways in which racism harms many people within racially dominant groups, not just racially oppressed groups. It might seem a little odd to raise this issue at the beginning of a discussion of racial inequality, for it is surely the case that racial inequality is more damaging to the lives of people within the oppressed group. We do this because we feel it is one of the critical complexities of racial inequality and needs to be part of our understanding even as we focus on the more direct effects of racism. This will be followed by a more extended discussion of the historical variations in the forms of racial inequality and oppression in the United States. The chapter will conclude with a discussion of the empirical realities today and prospects for the future.

This chapter will focus primarily on the experience of racial inequality of African-Americans, although in the more historical section we will briefly discuss specific forms of racial oppression of Native-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Chinese-Americans. This focus on African-Americans does not imply that the forms of racism to which other racial minorities have been subjected are any less real. And certainly the nature of racial domination of these other groups has also stamped the character of contemporary American society.

Source: CHAPTER 14, RACIAL INEQUALITY, Final Draft, August 2009
American Society: how it actually works (forthcoming, 2010, W.W. Norton) By Erik Olin Wright & Joel Rogers. Erik Olin Wright Professor of Sociology at University of Wisconsin – Madison

Note: This book is a joint project with Joel Rogers based on an undergraduate  sociology course, “Contemporary American Sociology”, which we have taught since the early 1990s. The draft posted below is the final draft, August 2009, before being copy-edited by the publisher.
Contemporary American Society, University of Wisconsin – Madison

American Society: how it actually works

.        Table of Contents
1 Prologue: Values and Perspectives
2 What kind of a country is this?
.        Part I. Efficiency & Freedom
3 The market: how it is supposed to work
4 The market: How it actually works
5 The environment
6 Transportation
7 Consumerism
8 Health Care
9 High Road Capitalism
.         Part II. Fairness
10 Thinking about Equality, Inequality and Fairness
11 Class
12 Persistent Poverty and Rising Inequality
13 Solutions to Poverty
14 Racial Inequality
15 Gender inequality
.          Part III. Democracy
16 Capitalist Democracy: how it works
17 Voting
18 Taxation and the Affirmative State
19 Democracy and Corporate Media
20 Militarism & Empire
21 Unions and Democracy
22 Democracy from below
.        Conclusion
23 Alternative Futures

Nigeria Rejects Dancing On The Brink to American Rhythm

Professor Iyorwuese Hagher Nigeria High Commissioner to Canada

Professor Iyorwuese Hagher Nigeria High Commissioner to Canada

Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada, has written a critical  review on 06 June 2011 about a book by John Campbell, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, The book title is: “Nigeria Dancing On The Brink”. Campbell appears to think the West would be better able to pick a government for Nigeria than Nigerians, and is an excellent example of the arrogance of US foreign policy.

The book review is posted at Education Matters Nigeria and at Nigerians Abroad Live:

[After dancing on the brink for several months with provocative articles, lectures and talks, Ambassador John Campbell has hurled himself into the abyss, by publishing his magnum Opus, Nigeria dancing on the brink. This all important book will be read and re-read by US and western diplomats, politicians, policy makers, NGOs, academia, development agents, and even presidents.

It is a faithful memoir of events, a stupendous collection of facts – and non facts, anecdotes, and beer parlour gossip.  The writer’s style is lucid, lacy, absorbing, beguiling and clever.   Yet the book’s promise is never realised and at the end of the book the reader feels cheated if not betrayed.  The credentials of the writer as former US Ambassador to Nigeria, visiting Professor and essayist, Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the immensity of the subject-matter, do not yield to the reader a rigorous analytical basis through which conclusions are made and thematic order established.

The book’s preface prepares us for the worst when Campbell tells us that much of his book is based on conversations and personal experiences during his short sojourn as political counsellor based in Lagos  from 1988-1990  and as President Bush’s Ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 – 2007.  According to Campbell, Nigerians “like to talk to diplomats”  He claims that he “travelled all over the country”.  Even though he claimed to have visited thirty-six state headquarters,  it is not just possible to travel all over Nigeria within a diplomatic tour or two, with Nigeria’s challenging topography and infrastructure and yet be able to do any other thing else. Besides the challenge of topography and infrastructure, why did His Excellency, the US Ambassador not avail himself of the advisory given by the US to his countrymen, not to travel to Nigeria since “violent-crime, religious and civil crisis in Nigeria is bordering an active war zone?”

The facts about Nigeria’s post-colonial history are well presented and documented.  In fact as Campbell himself boasts, “The department of State, other Federal agencies and the Embassy have access to the US Federal government’s repository of experts and factual information about virtually all aspects of Nigeria and its richness is probably unequalled anywhere else in the world.” (p. 8)   Aha, here is the real temptation.  John Campbell, like Ikato in Tiv folktale coming across the rich storehouse of facts consumed more than he could analytically chew.
The end result is a rehash of expressions like Nigeria is a mere geographical expression;  Nigeria Is bifurcated between the North  which is Muslim and  South which is Christian, and that colonial rule lasted only fifty years so don’t blame the British for your problems.  He goes on to inflame passions: Nigerians hate Igbo and hate Yorubas especially a Yoruba businessman to be President. These are constipated facts, all too often told to the world about Nigeria, and exaggerations that bear no relevance to any present reality.

Ambassador Campbell jumps to wrong conclusions after feeding  fat on his treasure trove of facts collected over the years by the US like other authors before him: Karl Maier “This house has fallen”, Robert Calderis’s “ The Trouble with Africa”, Robert Kaplan’s “The Coming Anarchy” and Roy Cullen’s “Poverty of Nations”. These perhaps well meaning authors like others of their ilk, constantly make the mistake of comparing, relating and interpreting Nigeria and other African countries with American democracy.  With the advent of globalization, the western liberal democracy becomes a veritable but dubious template to condemn some countries like Nigeria, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are applauded.

Nigeria Dancing On The Brink

Nigeria Dancing On The Brink

Ambassador Campbell’s grand thesis is that whereas Nigeria had been resilient in surviving a civil war, poverty, ethnic and religious violence and even failed elections, this time Nigeria will bifurcate after the 2011 election which he claims  “there is little evidence that the elections of 2011 will be anymore credible than 2007”  Nigeria will become a failed state because it is already there; an obscene presence that is dangerous, and hard to define, but  palpable to sight.  He claims that confluence of intensified ethnic and religious violence in the Middle Belt, the insurrection in the Delta, and the paralysis of the Presidency at the time of the election will be the defining moments of Nigeria’s state failure! (See page 131).

This conclusion is hardly surprising.  Twice in the history of Nigeria’s transition to civil rule in 2000 and 2011, American institutions have sponsored books that prophecy doom and collapse.  In both Karl Maier and Campbell’s books, the words of critical Nigerians are taken out of contexts and remodelled to justify a universal recognition of the approaching Armageddon. In “This  house has fallen’, it is Chinua Achebe’s while dancing on the brink, is Ojo Maduekwe’s words, so the writers can wipe their hands and feel clinically detached from malice and  malignance.

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The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times

The Age of Deception by Mohamed ElBaradei

The author of this book is the Nobel Prize laureate, Egyptian law scholar and diplomat, and the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for three successive terms from 1997 to 2009, Mohamed ElBaradei. He declined to avail his services  for a further fourth term in the IAEA; and the IAEA Board of Governors was split in its decision regarding the next director general. After several rounds of voting, on July 3, 2009, Mr. Yukiya Amano, Japanese ambassador to the IAEA, was elected as the next IAEA director general.

The following book review was written by George Perkovich, Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and co-editor of “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate.” The book review was posted on The Washington Post on 21 April 2011.

This book was published by Metropolitan Books (in 352 pages),
(April 26, 2011).

George Perkovich said in his review:
[Mohamed ElBaradei fought the Bush administration over the war in Iraq, blocked it from attacking Iran, and for his efforts received harassment from American hardliners and, eventually, the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, having retired from the International Atomic Energy Agency, he plans to run for president of Egypt. He has interesting stories to tell, and he tells them with verve.

Like other presidential aspirants, ElBaradei places himself in a flattering light and takes the popular side of issues voters care about. But “The Age of Deception” is more than a campaign biography: Written before the recent Egyptian upheaval, it reaches far beyond the politics of Cairo. The struggles ElBaradei waged in Iraq, North Korea, Iran and Libya to shape the international management of nuclear technology represent a central dynamic of the 21st century.

Will rule of law trump unilateralism? Can a progressive international order be built when states differ over which rules should be strengthened and how they should be enforced, and when rulers in North Korea, Burma, Syria and Iran reject norms that others respect? ElBaradei’s vivid narrative brings these and other big questions to life.

“I am totally against wars,” a 12-year-old Spanish girl named Alicia wrote to ElBaradei after he received the Nobel Prize in 2005. “I thank you very much for your efforts to try to avoid the war in Iraq. Despite the fact that your strategy, based on dialogue, was absolutely not to the liking of the USA, you knew how to stay firm and you showed that there were not nuclear weapons in Iraq, even while gaining the hate of the most powerful country.”

Alicia sums up“The Age of Deception” in many ways. ElBaradei repeatedly describes the nuclear infractions of North Korea, Iran, Libya and other nations and then insinuates that the United States should be blamed for scaring them into misbehaving or impeding him from working out fair-minded solutions with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. For example: The Iranians “were busily undermining the very solution they had worked so hard to achieve,” he writes after learning in 2006 that officials of former president Mohammad Khatami’s administration planned to attack the new president Ahmadinejad politically if he agreed to a deal with Washington. “I sighed. Tehran had been spending way too much time watching D.C. politics, I thought.” And: North Korea is “isolated, impoverished, feeling deeply threatened by the United States but nonetheless defiant.”

Libya had in the 1990s secretly bought uranium enrichment equipment and a blueprint for a nuclear weapon from the infamous network of Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan. This had not been detected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but by British and American intelligence. ElBaradei was briefed before the story broke in December 2003. “I was told,” he writes, “that the genesis of the Libyan nuclear weapon program — and Gaddafi’s other WMD programs — was in retaliation for the April 1986 U.S. bombing raids during which Gaddafi’s adopted daughter, Hannah, was killed.” One is left to wonder whether he thought the Libyan terrorist attacks weeks earlier that killed Americans on TWA flight 840 and in the La Belle disco in Berlin were irrelevant, for he does not mention them. He does describe meeting Gaddafi who “spoke earnestly of his desire to develop Libya.”

Young Alicia tapped into ElBaradei’s wishful credo in another portion of her letter. “I hope that in the conflict with Iran you are luckier and that things get solved by using dialogue and not through arms,” she wrote. “And that the politicians of the USA accept the opinion of the UN.” But the world is not as nice as 12-year-old girls wish. Some states are ruled through violent repression, and even if their leaders are willing to compromise on some things, they may not accept peaceably the enforcement of international rules they violate, including resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.

Iran’s leadership is portrayed as fearful of the United States and very difficult to deal with. Still, ElBaradei insisted that Tehran would significantly constrain nuclear activities that could be used for military purposes if only Washington would take “yes” for an answer. ElBaradei makes no mention of the Iranian strategy revealed by the Khatami government’s chief negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, in a July 2005 interview. Rowhani, an urbane cleric since displaced by President Ahmadinejad, declared, “wherever we accepted suspension” of a nuclear activity, “we thought about another activity.” When Tehran suspended work on uranium enrichment at Natanz, it “put all of [its] efforts” into uranium conversion at Esfahan. This stall-and-advance, bait-and-switch approach continues today.

ElBaradei offers no insight into what can and should be done when unaccountable leaders refuse to accede to the requirements of the IAEA or the U.N. Nor does he address the possibility that despotic regimes cling to nuclear-weapons capability to protect their rule against domestic and foreign pressures for change.

The high-minded dialogue ElBaradei repeatedly calls for is not always sufficient, leaving the reader to wonder what then? Certainly, the United States should be more committed and supple in its diplomacy. Washington needs to realize that the states it fears are even more fearful of its power and judgment. But that is far from sufficient to solve the tough nuclear cases. President Obama, despite his Nobel credentials, has been unable to resolve the nuclear impasse in North Korea and Iran, or to persuade France, Russia, China, Pakistan and others to join him in moving towards a world without nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei displays an enmity toward Western nuclear-armed states that is sometimes overt and sometimes subtle, sometimes deserved and sometimes unfair. A fascinating mix of emotions and calculations seems to animate his analysis. Anyone wishing to glimpse some of the central tensions in 21st-century international diplomacy should read “The Age of Deception.”]