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Demystifying US and Israeli Power

Susan Cain and Mark Mason

By Susan Cain and Mark Mason

Government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex. ~ Frank Zappa


If paying attention to the mass media, one would think that politicians have power, that the President of the USA has power, or even that AIPAC has power -- They don't. He doesn't. AIPAC doesn't. Few people understand American imperial power because it's difficult to comprehend the unprecedented concentration of vast wealth in the hands of a few dozen individuals, and the ramifications for the rest of the world. Never before have so few people possessed so much wealth, and thus so much power over everything, including the US government, Israel, AIPAC, and --- everything within the imperial American sphere of corporate influence. The Earth is under the control of a few hundred corporations, and a few thousand capitalists. The apparent power of AIPAC to influence US policy is based upon the intense media presence AIPAC does have while real power remains present but pushed into the media background. In this paper, we examine the power relationship between the USA and Israel. We present evidence supporting the claim that state power is subordinate to corporate power, and corporate power is driven by the rewards of expanding profits through manipulating state policies. US transnational corporations, particularly those assigned to the military-industrial complex (MIC: arms manufacturers and others engaged in military and police-state support) join banks and other corporations at the top of USA political power. We remind ourselves that in the USA and Israel, money is political power, not religion or the people.

The US corporate-state is an imperial system comprised of and dependent upon multiple public-relations illusions, hardly none more accepted than the frequent claim that Israel controls US foreign policy. Proponents of this claim include, among others, Grant F. Smith of the Institute for Middle Eastern Policy and more generally the BDS movement (boycott, divest, and sanction), two which apply attention to AIPAC ascribing to AIPAC the power to control the USA Congress. [1]

The Israel-controls-the-US argument asserts that manipulation of the US Congress is achieved by the force of rhetoric, controlling US media, and through lobbying monies funneled through AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington who work to strengthen ties between the two countries in support of Israel). We entertain the question, does Israel control US Middle East policy? The illusion of Israeli political power ------- that it is believed by most of the actors who present this stage show to us such as members of Congress, the White House and its cabinet members, department heads, and the Israeli government itself from the top down -- the Prime Minister, President, and members of the Knesset. Not only do mainstream media journalists pander to and spread this myth, but also many of our best investigative journalists in alternative media never question this claim. All states serve the interests of a privileged class. When we examine the service Israel and AIPAC provide to US corporate imperialist goals, the value of creating a mythical robust independent Israeli state is revealed.

As pointed clarification, it is useful to present an overt disclaimer, that Jews and Judaism are religious doctrines which demand the respect and protection of free speech and freedom of religious belief. Our concerns are directed toward the policies and actions of the state of Israel, a political institution fully open to examination and criticism, as is a universal truth. All states are subject to policy evaluation. Debate regarding state policies are the core of Western democratic politics. Zionism attracted the US wealthy ruling class to the “Israel Project.” Zionism is a combination of Euro-American classic military settler-colonialism and modern corporate neocolonialism. It goes like this: kill and kick out the native peoples, blame the victims, label them savages or barbarians or terrorists, steal the land and the natural resources, claim religious justification, truth, justice, and democracy, use as a base for boundless imperial expansion and interference into neighboring countries in the name of national security. Zionism compliments Western European and American capitalist imperialism, and poses as a useful ideological cover for corporate invasion. Understanding US power dynamics is instructive. If Israel were not such a profitable enterprise and excellent cover for US actions, US support for the client state would end. This illusion has nothing to do with religion or anti-Semitism. US foreign policy toward Israel is not substantially different from that of US policy towards Saudi Arabia or Egypt. The US government is looking for power and profits, through the force of a corporate invasion, following on the heels of military invasion. Invasion by force can be direct, as in the Iraq invasion of 2003, or by proxy army, such as is the case for Israel, Egypt, and far-flung South Korea. One can assemble the power pieces first, with the recognition that US government foreign policy is crafted, not by the US State Department, but by Wall Street banks, military arms manufacturers, high tech firms, pharmaceuticals, oil conglomerates, and other ancillary players in the US domestic corporate power system.

Israel is operating in many ways at the expense of Israeli taxpayers. Wages, building expenses and maintenance, and all the usual overhead costs associated with business/military operations are paid by Israeli taxpayers. US aid, grants, and gifts are used for equipment, munitions, and technologies, not operating expenses. Funds provided by the US are primarily for US corporate sales and net profits. Israeli taxpayers foot the bill for the overhead costs of their military.

Israel is a subsidiary, a brand-name logo to disguise US corporate imperialism. Israel is a neo-colonial outpost of the American Empire, operating as the US did when first establishing itself as a country on the North American continent -- killing and kicking out the indigenous peoples, stealing their land and resources, and profiting from the takeover. Israel is an outpost of US banking and other corporations, and it serves as a land-based aircraft carrier for thinly-disguised US imperial expansion.


$trategic Benefits of a 51st State

When Israel bombs Palestinians and maintains a police state in both the West Bank and Gaza, the US reaps two benefits: 1) US elites and their corporations reap huge profits, and 2) the violence of the Israeli state acts as the local Mafia boss for the Middle East, maintaining obedience to Israeli power, and thus indirectly (because the USA is funding the Israeli violence) by association, what Israel says is what the USA says, without the US having to take direct responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Israel.

International power dynamics sets the US as near-global imperial power, funding client states such as Israel for the purpose of colonial expansion. It’s useful to conceive of Israel as the 51st state, united with the other 50 states comprising the USA. The Sun never sets on the American Empire. Israel is a covert branch of the US government, functioning as a massive military outpost but operating as a sovereign state in the Middle East, committing acts that would not be possible if they were “officially” committed by the US government. Per a July 2014 article in Haaretz, the “U.S. stores munitions in a classified location in Israel to which the Israeli army can request access - if Obama (or any current president)  approves…”
“The War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel program (WRSA-I, sometimes referred to as the War Reserve Stock Ammunition-Israel program), which is capped at $1.2 billion, has a stockpile of missiles, armored vehicles and artillery ammunition...”
These are US owned and managed weapons and equipment stockpiles not only for use by the US army if a need for them arises in the region, but also by the Israeli army in cases of emergency. [2]

In September 2014, a bipartisan bill passed Congress which upgraded Israel’s status to a “major strategic partner” and allowed for a $200 million increase in the weapons stored in Israel. They must either reimburse the US for the cost of weapons used or replace them by buying new supplies. Whether the US is reimbursed or the weapons replaced, it is the US arms manufacturers who benefit from the requirements. [3] A brief but more detailed summary about the origins and uses of this program can be found in an August 2014 article of Politico. [4] Although this program initially required Israel to obtain US presidential approval before accessing this “Fort Knox of Weaponry,” the Politico article explains how a mid-level Pentagon bureaucrat, Keith Rowe, repurposed the WRSA-I, fashioning it more for the benefit of the Israelis and circumventing presidential approval. It is more accurate to say that the WRSA-I was tweaked so that it better-served US MIC interests. Israel more regularly depletes the supplies which equates to higher sales and profits for US missile manufacturers like Raytheon and other corporations that supply a wide variety of military and technical equipment which makes up the stockpiles of the WRSA-I. One should also note that Israel is not alone in having a WRSA-I program. A similar arrangement exists between the US and South Korea.


Iron Dome Dollars

Another cash cow for the MIC is our client state’s Iron Dome project, a missile defense system allegedly capable of destroying incoming missiles targeting Israel. Whether or not it is truly effective is not important. It’s an opportunity for US arms manufacturers and technology corporations to make billions of dollars in profit. According to a Times of Israel article in May, 2015,
“Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee approved $474 million for Israel’s anti-missile systems. Included in the US-Israel cooperative missile defense funds is $41.4 million for the short-range Iron Dome rocket defense system, $165 million for David’s Sling, another short-range system, and the longer-range Arrow-3 missile defense programs, as well as $267.6 million in research and development funds.” That same article also states that the US State Department is set to approve a $1.9 billion arms sale package to Israel. It is important to note that “Israel receives $3 billion per year in US military aid, most of which must be spent on American-made arms.” [5] An earlier article appearing in Bloomberg’s business section confirms “The Israeli government has agreed to spend more than half the funds the Pentagon provides for its Iron Dome system in the U.S., bolstering the political appeal of the missile-defense system in America.” US corporation Raytheon, the world’s biggest missile manufacturer, is “under contract with Iron Dome’s Israeli maker, government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to find suitable U.S. suppliers.” [6]

It is obvious that the primary purpose of our 51st state is to provide a huge market for the various industries of the MIC. The message to the public from mainstream media and Congress is that the US “gives” Israel billions of dollars of aid to benefit the Israeli state; their security and safety depend upon it. The truth is that the US gives taxpayer dollars to Israel which immediately return to the US in the form of corporate sales and profit, and the primary beneficiaries of this “aid” are US corporations of the MIC.


Making the 51st State Tow the Line

As more proof that it is US corporate interests controlling US foreign policy in Israel, eleven years ago Israel agreed to sell the Chinese technology to upgrade their drone aircraft. Page 21 of a Congressional Research Service study of US foreign aid to Israel tells what became of those sales, “As previously mentioned, Israel has become a global leader in arms exports and, over the last two decades, the United States and Israel have periodically disagreed over Israeli sales of sensitive U.S. and Israeli technologies to third party countries, most notably China. In 2005, the United States suspended Israel from participating in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and imposed other restrictions in defense ties because of Israeli plans to upgrade Chinese Harpy Killer drone aircraft. Israel ultimately canceled the sale.” [7]

The following cannot be stated too often because it is not a message that is found in any media: the message of US corporate media to the public is that we must help Israel to defend itself, that US and Israeli interests are connected, that we must defend the real (only?) democracy in the MIddle East. However after examining who benefits from this relationship, one must conclude that what we “must” do is to support sales and profits for the US MIC at all costs. One must also conclude that it is not the Israelis who are in charge of the US/Israel relationship.


Follow the Money

Israel and AIPAC haven’t any real power although no one thinks to question how it could be possible for a country of 8.3 million to control 312+ million in the world’s dominant military and economic powerhouse, the US. Believers in this illusion of control cite money as the means by which the Israelis exert their “power” over the US. Per the Open Secrets Organization, AIPAC spent $3.1 million on lobbying Congress in 2014. [8] Very few candidates directly receive campaign contributions from AIPAC, less than $5,500 in 2014. However, the US defense industry contributed over $144 million to candidates in 2014 per Follow the Money Organization. [9] Lockheed Martin (manufacturer of the problem-plagued F-35 fighter jet) alone gave over $4 million directly to congressional candidates in 2014. [10] That is one million more than AIPAC spent lobbying Congress in the whole of 2014, and Lockheed Martin is only one of dozens of US military contractors lining the campaign coffers of our congressional “representatives.” General Electric coughed up $3.9 million for various candidates. [11] Honeywell International is known for its heating products but has a huge business in the aerospace and military industries, spreading out $5.2 million among various candidates. [12] Northrop Grumman, a military contractor specializing in “unmanned defense and surveillance systems” (drones), gave congressional candidates over $4 million in 2014. [13] AIPAC serves in deflecting attention away from the real centers of power. No one notices the vast amounts of money pouring into campaign coffers from US military corporate partners because AIPAC and its stage shows are guaranteed top billing in media.

Yes, it is indeed money that controls the US Congress, but not the paltry low millions of AIPAC. The US corporate sector, specifically US military contractors, gives 50 times more to Congress members than the campaign contributions and lobbying expenses combined of AIPAC.

However, it is true that AIPAC exerts a limited degree of control over the US Congress functioning as a cheap means to establish members’ obedience. They serve as a corporate sargeant-at-arms for the ruling class, ensuring that Congress keeps the MIC well-funded and highly profitable. AIPAC has been known to slander politicians during political campaigns, revealing inappropriate sexual liaisons and habits of candidates not fully supportive of the Zionist cause or branding them as either anti-American or anti-Semitic when possible. AIPAC campaigns against political candidates can be effective in securing their losses at the polls. The money that AIPAC spends in these endeavors is money that the corporate ruling class does not have to fork over to every individual candidate. It’s a cheap method to ensure a strong backing in Congress for US expenditures benefitting the client state and US military contractors.

The Primary Profiteers
It is the various corporations of the US Military-Industrial Complex that profit most from the client state. In Israel, the MIC has one of the most effective corporate trade shows in existence. Their latest arms, munitions, and technologies are dramatically demonstrated in very real combat expositions as Israel intermittently attacks Palestine in the Gaza Strip. After every Israeli military assault on Gaza, orders to US weapons manufacturers soar from dozens of interested buyers in governments worldwide. What better means of advertising than real-life demonstrations of the latest bombs or mortar rounds and launchers, the latest communications and surveillance technologies, the latest on-ground robots capable of searching around the corners of buildings for the “enemy?”

What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is not different substantively from how the US related to native Americans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, and too many other victims of US imperial aggression for profits. State power. Corporate profits.

It’s not only US corporations who profit from these arms sales, but also the arms manufacturers and military industries of many US allies in Europe and around the world. Even tiny Poland has military corporate interests along with the Netherlands. War and conflict is one of the biggest businesses in the world, and Israel supplies many of the profits for this enterprise.

Lockheed Martin  is one of the biggest, but only one of dozens of such major US corporations benefitting from the client state. Others include Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, IBM, Caterpillar. For example, high tech Hewlett-Packard supplies computer software to the Israeli security forces, providing the development, maintenance, and installation of biometric technology used at dozens of Israeli checkpoints in the Gaza Strip and West Bank . [14]

Internationally, Accenture Ltd. of Ireland is a US military contractor servicing the US Defense Department’s needs for Electronic Health Records as a configuration specialist. [15] Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal (French for: National Factory of Herstal) in Belgium is a leading firearms manufacturer. They produce an array of hand guns, rifles, machine guns, and helicopter and aircraft weapon systems. Fabrique Nationale is a subsidiary of the Belgian Herstal Group, which also owns US Repeating Arms Company (Winchester) and Browning Arms Company. [16] There are plenty of “war bucks” to be made nationally as well as internationally. That fact probably accounts for the weak international response regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


Bankers Will Be Bankers

The banking industry also profits from Israel, supplying countless loans to various US military contractors for expansion, research and development, and product materials. Investment bankers compile investment portfolios for their wealthy clients consisting of shares in businesses that service the US military. The banking industry in Israel made huge sums of money servicing American clients who wished to evade income taxes, hide property, and launder money back to the US for their clients’ use. Israel, the unknown offshore banking facility for many wealthy Americans. Israel’s second largest bank, Bank Leumi, was a preferred facility for many of them. Sam Antar was the CFO of an electronics corporation in the US called Crazy Eddie. He was prosecuted for and convicted of securities fraud during 1991 - 1992. In exchange for a cushy sentence, he testified against family members. He also informed both the SEC and FBI about the offshore banking business flourishing in Israel. He gave those agencies this information in 1989, but they did not act upon it until late 2014, allowing this criminality to continue another twenty-five years.
Bank Leumi paid $400 million in fines, a mere slap on the wrist from a corporate standpoint, and has agreed to assist in investigating other Israeli banks. It will be interesting to see how or even if this investigation will be reported in US corporate media. [17, 18]


Israel, Corporate Money-Launderer

Israel is not only an investment bonanza for the wealthy ruling class, but also serves as a money-launderer for US taxpayer funds into corporate hands. The US government “gives” the client state X amount of foreign aid for military purposes. That aid is then immediately passed back to the US into corporate hands to purchase military equipment. US taxpayer dollars “indirectly” become sales and profit figures for US corporations using this method of laundering taxpayer money. The same is true when the US simply supplies such equipment to the client state. Taxpayer dollars are used to purchase the arms and munitions “given” by the US government to Israel. The billions that the US “gives” to Israel return to the US as corporate profit at the taxpayers’ expense. Corporations do not “give away” their merchandise. Someone pays for it, and in this case, it is the US government using taxpayer dollars to purchase military hardware and boosting corporate profits to unimaginable amounts.

Discipline For the Israelis

The Israeli government believes in its power over the US government and sometimes acts contrary to US dictates. It is said that no US president has ever defied the Israeli lobby, but that is not true. When the arrogance and “bad behavior” of the Israeli government become unacceptable to the real powers that be, the US government gives the Israelis a public spanking to remind them who is really in control of whom. George H.W. Bush withheld loan guarantees for three months from the Israeli government in 1991 due to their expansion of settlements in Palestinian territories, successfully forcing Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to attend the Madrid Peace Conference. George W. Bush, in 2003, threatened to withhold loan guarantees from the Israelis due to the expansion of their “security fence” into Palestinian territory. [19]

Prior to both Bush’s actions, Ronald Reagan punished the Israeli government several times. He withheld a few US vetoes at the UN Security Council, allowing resolutions against Israel to be passed condemning it, placing their nuclear facilities under international supervision, and demanding that they pay reparations for the damage they had wrought. He also placed an embargo against US sales of F-16 fighter jets to Israel because they had used them for something other than self-defense. Later, the embargo was lifted, but the message that the Israelis had stepped beyond the boundaries allowed to the client state had been delivered and gruffly received. Reagan also sold a large amount of military hardware to Saudi Arabia to which the Israelis strongly objected at the time. [20]


Policy Must Benefit Corporate Over Israeli Interests

There are times that US policy goes against Israeli interests, times which are not related to a US need to chastise the client state, but instead are based on US corporate interests. During the Reagan administration from 1985 - 1987, Dov Zakheim served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Planning and Resources in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy). For those believing the “Israel Controls the US myth,” it is important to reveal that Zakheim is an Orthodox Jew and an ordained rabbi. In early 1980, the Israeli government approved plans for an Israeli designed and manufactured fighter jet called the IAI Lavi (IAI being the corporation behind the fighter jet, Israel Aerospace Industries). IAI had decided to use engines made by the US corporation, Pratt and Whitney, because they had a working relationship with Bet Shemesh engine plant in Israel. Pratt and Whitney had agreed to co-produce the engines enabling much of the production to be done domestically in Israel. The first prototype of the plane was successfully tested in December 1986. Three months later, an improved second prototype was also successfully tested. However, soon after these test flights, Dov Zakheim began pushing for Israel to cancel plans for the Lavi and arguing that they should not produce an aircraft that would compete with the US F-16 fighter jet. He also claimed that buying jets from the US would be more efficient and less costly for the Israeli government. He was so convincing that many of the top command in the Israeli Defense Forces agreed, leading to a vote in the Israeli cabinet to decide whether or not to cancel the project. It was cancelled in favor of buying F-16s. Part of the problem with the Lavi project was a lack of financing. Unlike US military aid, the Israeli government was footing the bill for the cost of the jets instead of getting a free ride at US taxpayers’ expense. But worse, from the US corporate point of view, was the fact that General Dynamics (later bought by Lockheed in 1993 which merged with Martin in 1995, thus the current Lockheed Martin Corporation) would be excluded from profiting off of its F-16 were the Israelis to manufacture their own fighter planes in large quantities. The Israeli Air Force was due for an upgrade in 1987, and US corporations wanted to service their needs. Pratt and Whitney certainly wasn’t upset by the cancellation of the Lavi even though they were set to profit by co-producing the engines with Bet Shemesh. Pratt and Whitney made and still makes the engines for the F-16. Not having to co-produce them with another business meant all the profit remained in their hands. Shortly after the Lavi project was cancelled, the Israeli government ordered ninety F-16Cs. Today, the only country with more F-16s than Israel is the US.

Dov Zakheim was reviled by the Israeli press and government and much of the public in Israel. Israeli media had been touting the IAI Lavi as an icon of national pride. Yitzhak Shamir, much of the Knesset, and the IDF command who supported the Lavi felt humiliated when the Israeli cabinet voted (12-11) to discontinue the project. The vote to cancel the Lavi is evidence that US corporate interests control the Israelis: they can get enough support in the Israeli government to cancel an icon of national pride. But instead of placing the blame on the real corporate culprits, the Israelis used Dov Zakheim as their scapegoat and allowed the real source of US corporate power to remain concealed. By blaming one man instead of the US corporate government, the Israelis could cling to the illusion that they controlled the US government. They had simply been betrayed by own of their own; they were victims of Dov Zakheim.

Zakheim is a glaring example of the revolving door between government and industry. He began his career in the Defense Department in 1981 serving in various positions before being tapped as Reagan’s Deputy Under Secretary of Defense. He left government in late 1987 (unknown if it was related to his being declared an enemy by the Israelis) and promptly became CEO of SPC International, a subsidiary of Systems Planning Corporation, a high-tech analytical business. While being their CEO, he also served as a consultant to the Secretary of Defense’s office, sat on many Department of Defense panels, was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the US Naval Institute. He was also an adjunct scholar for the Heritage Foundation. Zakheim has also been a consultant for McDonnell Douglas Corporation, on the advisory board of Northrop Grumman, and a former vice-president at Booz Allen Hamilton, all major US military contractors. One might think the US government is controlled by group of corporations serving the MIC rather than the Israelis when examining the evidence. [21]

The public US presidential spankings of Israel make headlines for a day or two, then quietly fade from view and the collective memory of media and the general public. To remember such incidents would create cracks in the Israeli Illusion that the plutocrats will not allow. Instances such as the cancellation of the Lavi fighter jet are rare. Although the story was reported in US media, it was not a headline and did not linger in the news. That, too, was instrumental in keeping corporate power concealed from the public. The subject briefly appeared in US media on the 25th anniversary of the cancellation, but gained no notice by the public.


The Distraction of Scripted Stage Shows

The incidents the public is encouraged to remember are the endless stage shows titillatingly presented to us by the media outlets of the wealthy US ruling class. Uniform plots and performances are easy to achieve because six corporations control 90% of US media. [22, 23] The same illusions are repeated in all sources. The assumption of the public is that if all sources are reporting the same stories or more appropriately, broadcasting the same show, then what is being viewed is real. The performances of the various politician-actors are highly convincing and realistic because so many of them believe the roles they play. Netanyahu believes he, acting as Prime Minister of Israel, controls the US government because this is the message presented by US corporate media as well as alternative and international media.

The US-Iran nuclear agreement has provided the basic plot for the current TV-like dramas unfolding weekly before our eyes. One of the strangest performances was recently given by John Kerry, US Secretary of State. If one watched his two opposing performances, on one day, 2 March 2015, he appeared to be afflicted by either a split personality or bipolar disorder. He was the quintessential American Good Cop/Bad Cop - a police interrogation/intimidation tactic normally carried out by two policemen, one playing the role of the “good cop” who feigns empathy with the suspect being questioned and presents himself as a friend, and the other playing the role of the “bad cop” who threatens and sometimes physically attacks the suspect. John Kerry played both roles in the drama presented to us in March. He first held a news conference in which he uttered thinly-veiled threats against Netanyahu if he dared to leak details concerning the specifics of the US/Iran nuclear negotiations. Later the same day, he appeared before the UN where he ardently defended Israel against what he called biased attacks against them in UN reports critical of Netanyahu’s military excursions against Palestine. [24, 25]
These shows made for excellent drama, but the good cop/bad cop performance was ignored by media. There were no political analyses of the verbal attacks against Israel versus the praise heaped upon them by John Kerry.

President Obama has also been center stage for many recent performances. Numerous articles in US and Israeli press have lamented the “tension” between Obama and Netanyahu, many speculating that Netanyahu’s blatant interference in US politics could be cause for many US congressmen to be labeled as treasonous, supporting the needs of a foreign government over the needs and safety of the USA. Some sources warned that this tension would result in the Democratic Party abandoning the Israeli cause. All of this political posturing is obvious fakery if one understands the real US/Israel relationship. There is no possibility of a weakening of support for Israel in the US Congress because such real tension would negatively affect the profit margins of too many US corporations doing business with the MIC. It’s also important to note the real reason behind AIPAC’s media show against a US/Iranian nuclear agreement. The highly hyped script was centered on Israel’s safety, what a danger an agreement would present to the people of Israel. AIPAC’s real concern was about losing their biggest lobbying and fundraising tool - fear of “the bomb” from Iran. [26]


The Israelis Made Us Do It
Israel, the client state, is not solely a financial pot of gold for the wealthy and their corporations. Israel is cover for the US government. Israel is a Euro-American colonial project existing only because it is a front for US imperialism. It is an effective imperial tool using the Israeli government as a proxy agent for US imperialism. This strategic ploy gives political cover for US imperial expansion, allowing the US to deny responsibility for Israeli war crimes. “The Israelis made us do it” is an illusion bought by all media and spread throughout the world and accepted as fact. However, when one dares to follow the money -- the vast sums of at play in this illusion, that “fact” becomes an intentionally manufactured fiction by the wealthy plutocrats who really control the US government and desire to keep Israel’s client state status hidden. The whole facade allows the rich and their influence to hide behind the Israeli Illusion.

The US benefits from the illusion by presenting Israel as an independent state. The US avoids taking responsibility for Israeli war crimes and illegal territorial expansion, and the US benefits by the cover provided by Israel as US corporations rush in to expand operations inside illegally occupied territories.


Israel and Syria: Policy & Power Playgrounds

In examining a portion of Israeli/Syrian history, one can see how Israel is used by the US to accomplish small feats that could not be done openly under the banner of the US government. The high plateau region of the Golan Heights offered much better protection for our client state than the UN designated border with Syria. The Six Day War launched by Israel in 1967 saw the Israelis capturing the Golan Heights from Syria. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. To date, this territory is not internationally recognized as being part of Israel although it is occupied by them, and Israeli law is administered there. Tens of thousands of Syrian Druze have been displaced by Israeli “settlers.” [27]

In 1982, Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria from 1971 - 2000 and father of the current president Bashar al-Assad, “assisted” the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and the Phalange (a predominantly Lebanese Christian right-wing party in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Palestinian Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon) by blocking the Syrian border so that the refugees under attack could not escape. Estimates vary between 750 - 3500 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shiites were massacred during this attack. Prior to this tragedy, Hafez al-Assad had also “assisted” in Palestinian deaths during Jordan’s “Black September.” [28]

More recently, in September 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed a suspected Syrian nuclear facility, suffering no consequences. Bashar al-Assad even helped the Israelis cover up the attack, claiming it never happened. Most Syrians believed al-Assad’s denials broadcast by state media. [29]

Seizure of foreign territory by force and its eventual annexation, the massacre of thousands of Palestinian refugees and Shiites, destruction of a foreign nuclear facility - these are all things that could never have been accomplished under the banner of the US government, but easily carried out by the client state.


The Golan Heights Oil and Water Bonanza

Currently, the Golan Heights is set to bring big rewards to both Israeli and US corporate energy interests. In April 2013, Afek Oil obtained a drilling license in the Golan Heights. To date, they have three drilling sites (Ness-3, Ness-5, Ness-6). The three-year drilling program allows Afek Oil to explore and drill for oil at up to ten sites in the Golan. Due to delays by protests from environmental groups, the actual drilling did not begin until February 2015. The presence of a huge supply of oil was just confirmed October 7, 2015. [30]

Afek Oil and Gas (as well as a second Israeli energy company IEI, Israeli Energy Initiatives) both have as their parent company Genie Israel. Per The Times of Israel, “Genie Energy, which is chaired by Howard Jonas, has some heavyweight investors. Former US vice president Dick Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild, and Rupert Murdoch are all reportedly connected to the company. It also has connections within the Israeli political establishment: The chairman of Genie Israel is Effie Eitam, a former member of the Knesset who also served as the minister of national infrastructures in 2002-2003.” [31]

Not only does the discovery of billions of barrels of oil in the Golan Heights probably guarantee the Israelis a source for their oil needs (they consume 270,000 barrels a day per the above referenced Globes article), but also the Golan Heights is a major natural resource for fresh water that feeds the Jordan River, providing a third of Israel’s water needs. Fresh water sources are scarce in this arid region. It would be difficult for the Israelis to survive without control of this freshwater source in this occupied territory. Water is the new oil, a rapidly diminishing resource as it becomes a source of privatized, corporate profit. The near future will bring further human conflicts over water. [32, 33, 34]

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement
Until such time that the Us-Israeli relationship no longer benefits the wealthy elite of the US, it will remain unchanged. The BDS Movement began in Palestine in 2005. The movement seeks to encourage boycotts of corporations that benefit from the illegal occupation of Palestine, divestment from investments in such companies, and sanctions against the state of Israel. The BDS movement has succeeded at various colleges, resulting in some of these institutions removing prominent companies from their investment portfolios. Soda Stream closed its factory in the West Bank, and Veolia, a multinational infrastructure company, has pulled out of Israel completely. [35, 36]

Foreign investments in Israel dropped 15% in 2014 as compared to 2013. The BDS Movement and Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, are credited as the main reasons for this drop. [37] Decreasing investment in Israel plus boycotts of many corporations seen as aiding the illegal occupation hold out the possibility that ties with Israel will hurt corporate profits of many US and international businesses. Hewlett-Packard, Volvo, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Ahava Cosmetics, and Eden Springs bottled water are only a few corporations being targeted by BDS supporters. Academic and cultural boycotts have also been called for, resulting in several popular bands and musicians cancelling shows in Israel.[38] As Israel steadily becomes an international pariah, association with our client state will become a negative instead of a positive for the wealthy elite who profit from Israel today.



The material presented in this paper is offered as partial evidence for the following claims:

●     Money is power. Religion, human rights, law, ethics, state sovereignty, and the will of the people are all subordinate to the power of the gun. The rich own and control most of the guns. The state, and the corporations the state protects, exist only by violence and the constant threat of violence.

●     Money rents parliamentary government offices for politicians who represent the interests of the people  providing the rent money. This process is called a democratic election, but the electoral system is normalized, legalized bribery.

●     Money rents government policies through legalized lobbying and election campaign funding, otherwise known as unethical influence peddling by elected officials.

●     Money buys ownership of the mass media, and thus the rich implement social controls, controlling public opinion by controlling the messages emanating from the mass media. The mass media function under a business model, dependent upon advertising for existence. Media do not publish facts or opinions which offend the people and corporations paying the media bills. [39] The state is a neutral agent bent toward obedience to the narrow interests of the rich because of the money-political power of the rich. Parliamentary governments are open to power struggles among factions of the ruling class as they engage in pitched battles over state policy. The people have minimal power to influence state policy.

●     All this is well known, but too often, the corporate media intentionally get lost in petty personality conflicts and celebrity cults, with emphasis on speculating upon what elected officials might be thinking. What elected officials are thinking doesn’t matter although media create the illusion that it does matter so that we don’t ask about what is important. What the managers of Lockheed-Martin and Hewlett-Packard are thinking does matter, but rarely reported. The individual politician has only tangential power to influence government policies. The wealthy individual has only tangential influence on how the money-chasing social system works. All substantive state and corporate policies and actions serve the interests of the money system, as wealthy individuals choose to opportunistically participate in the money system, or choose not to do so. Neither the political class, the ruling-class rich, nor does the educated class of professional servants of power, act as individuals. The socio-economic system shapes the men and women to meet the constraints of the institutions and their power hierarchies based upon the illusion of money. -- The rules of the game reward the winners of the money-chasing game. Others are either passive losers, or actively choose to not participate, relegated to the margins of formal society.  Increased power and profits are the tokens of cultural success distributed by the rules of the socio-economic game.

The money-power system operates globally. For example,

what happens to Syria will not likely be decided by Syrians, but more likely decided by the complex power struggle for profits and control of natural resources by a few capitalists.

Then it follows that the state of Israel has little or no power because they have little or no independent money. We show the money-power relationships between the USA and Israel in the following chart at the end of this essay. All the personal drama we witness in the mass media are empty theatrics.

To grasp the value of the drama is to observe that the arm-waving, flailing about on camera, and the boasting is mere scripted bluff and bluster. The actual actions of the Israeli government serve the US imperial neocolonial control. The Israeli government, as is often claimed, does not harm US interests. US interests are the expansion of state power for the purpose of expanding the profits of US transnational corporations, as we have documented here.

With respect to the claim that AIPAC tells the US government what to do, the evidence presented above indicates that AIPAC serves the interests of the state of Israel, and that furthermore, the state of Israel serves the colonial interests of the USA Empire. As the Israeli state kills Palestinians and steals their land, all of this violence is consistent with USA government interests, often mislabeled, US national interests. USA government interests are dictated by USA corporate interests; not representing the interests of the people. AIPAC is a cheerleader for Team USA as the USA explicitly intends to act as an agent of US-based transnational oil companies in their quest to control Middle East oil. The state of Israel functions as a heavily-armed colonial outpost of the US corporate empire. AIPAC is put there to function as a magnet deflecting attention away from the centers of real power which set US foreign policy: transnational corporations.

The US government tolerates much verbal abuse from the agents of the Israeli government because the drama provides a convenient public cover presented in the mass media, presenting the Israeli government as if it were controlling the US Congress and President. Allowing the Israeli government to act, in the mass media, as if it were controlling US foreign policy creates a clever cover for the brutality of US corporate theft of natural resources and labor from within neocolonial states which possess some local autonomy. Murder and theft are the tools of imperial expansion. When all eyes are on the Prime Minister of Israel, a convenient distraction is employed to divert attention away from the flow of huge fortunes traversing the circuitous path from American taxpayer’s pocket, through the US government treasury, through US military-industrial contracting corporations, to the pockets of the rich investors. USA foreign policy and foreign aid are labels for taxpayer subsidies for the rich, combined with imperial expansions of US economic domination of, and theft from, distant peoples. The so-called “US national interest” is state domination of the planet for the purpose of US corporate domination of labor and natural resources, for the purpose of winning the game of accumulation of wealth: astounding profits for the few; unspeakable human suffering for the many.

Behind the dramatic scripted TV acting of elected officials are deadly armaments, including nuclear weapons, but the US government doesn’t care. If we hold on to any single truth about contemporary international affairs is that the talking heads on TV have little connection to the realities of either the potential for global nuclear war, or global ecosystem collapse. Corporations are driven by quarterly profits. States are driven by the melding of the command from the corporations to increase quarterly profits, and the interest of the state itself in imperial powers, which are means to increase quarterly profits. What happens to the working class or the planet is given much rhetorical attention, but no substance. All states are failed states. The global chase for dollars is a social fiction we could discard by consensus, but the global chase for oil is an existential crisis resulting in the tragedy of the deaths of individuals fighting over pipelines, and the planet dying from the deadly atmospheric poisoning, the product of the capitalist economic engines of industrial production for profit, not need.

Politicians, and the mass media direct our attention towards the personalities of heads-of-states and the diplomatic corps. Yet, a cursory examination of history indicates that people come and go--- presidents, prime ministers, priests, and potentates are here today, gone tomorrow-- while the power system remains stable for centuries. USA foreign policy today is no different than it was 200 years ago, with the notation that the names and localities of imperial aggression have changed. These verifiable conditions lead us to examine the dynamics of hierarchical power and the money system.  Replacing the sociopaths occupying the slots at the top of the corporate-state system will achieve nothing. Hoping for more humane heads-of-state and corporate management will get us nowhere. We humans are functional units of cultural systems; few of us challenging the system of dollar-rewards. If we are to have any chance of surviving this century, it will be because we address the reward system inherent in the money-chasing game which utilizes a mystifying fiction called money. The mystification of US and Israeli relations is a product of the tangle of mutually-convenient myths of corporate, state, client state, and colonial power.

Power is displayed variably. The center of power in a monarchy is prominently on public display as manifested in the highly-visible king [40]. The center of power in a parliamentary democracy is hidden, made invisible by the dutiful servants of power. School teachers, journalists, academics, writers, pundits, entertainers, and religious authorities are unified in their functional commonality. They tacitly agree to a unified silence. David Graeber offers an accurate condensation: “Indeed, the most powerful way to represent power has always been to refuse to represent it. […] the way to show that something is truly powerful is to hide it, to render it invisible, ineffable, unknowable, utterly featureless and abstract.”


We thank Dominique Ford for skillful graphic assistance with the single figure accompanying this article.


References Cited







































[39] Herman, Edward S., and Noam Chomsky. 1988. “Manufacturing consent: the political economy of the mass media.” New York: Pantheon Books.

[40] David Graeber, and Foucault quoted therein. David Graeber. 2015. “Dickheads: The paradox of the necktie resolved.” The Baffler number 27.


(See diagram below)

1. The USA military-industrial complex profit machine, international version

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Alberta Climate Announcement Puts End to Infinite Growth of Oilsands

James Wilt

By James Wilt. This article was first published on Desmoblog.

Alberta Climate Change Announcment

The days of infinite growth in Alberta’s oilsands are over with the Alberta government’s blockbuster climate change announcement on Sunday, which attracted broad support from industry and civil society.

This is the day that we start to mobilize capital and resources to create green jobs, green energy, green infrastructure and a strong, environmentally responsible, sustainable and visionary Alberta energy industry with a great future,” Premier Rachel Notley said. “This is the day we stop denying there is an issue, and this is the day we do our part.”

Notley and Environment & Parks Minister Shannon Phillips released a 97-page climate change policy plan, which includes five key pillars.

1) Carbon will be priced economy-wide at $30/tonne by 2018.

2) Coal-fired power plants will be phased out by 2030.

3) Oilsands emissions will be capped at 100 megatonnes (Mt) per year (recent Environment Canada figures predicted a 2020 output of 103 Mt from the sector), which amounts to allowing current construction go go ahead, but that’s it. That means to expand production beyond current projects, per barrel emissions will need to be reduced.

4) Methane emissions from oil and gas operations will be cut by 45 per cent in 2025.

5) 30 per cent of all electricity will be generated by renewables by 2030.

It is a staggeringly significant proposal, one that far surpasses anything the former Progressive Conservative government imagined in the course of its 43-year reign. The announcement — delivered at Edmonton’s Telus World of Science — was benefitted by appearances from CEOs of Suncor, Canadian Natural Resource Ltd. (CNRL), Shell and Cenovus, something far-right activist Ezra Levant dismissed by alleging the massive energy companies “don't represent the industry.”

Environmental groups such as the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada were also on stage. Getting all of those players in support of one climate strategy is a huge testament to the leadership of University of Alberta energy economist Andrew Leach, who chaired the climate change panel.

Climate Change Policy Plan Garners Broad Support

With the exception of the rabidly conservative Wildrose Party and former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk, it seemed every serious player in politics and industry celebrated the announcement. The NDP-affiliated Broadbent Institute, headquartered in Toronto, concluded: “On a public policy Richter scale, Alberta’s new Climate Leadership Plan is an 11.”

Shell Canada announced that “these measures provide predictability and certainty and will help ensure that producers can responsibly develop and grow this significant Canadian resource while also addressing global concerns about climate change.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Notley in a tweet now favourited over 1,300 times as “a very positive step in the fight against climate change.”  Political blogger Dave Cournoyer accurately dubbed it a “pigs fly” situation.

All of this means a whole lot given the impending Paris Climate Change Conference (COP 21).

Canada ranks 15th out of 17th countries for greenhouse gas emissions according to the Conference Board of Canada, with Alberta contributing 36 per cent of national emissions in 2013 despite only accounting for 11 per cent of the country’s population.

The expected spike in oilsands expansion was widely expected to nullify all other sources of emissions reductions in the Canada. The fact that Alberta, and by extension Canada, is now going into COP 21 with a detailed plan to address the province’s largest source of emissions – oilsands development and coal-fired power plants – speaks volumes about the desire to be taken seriously on the world stage.

Climate Plan May Increase Social Licence for Oilsands Operations

Another component that ostensibly drove oil execs to hop on the green bandwagon was the need to accrue “social licence,” or the support required to build pipelines to export its products. The veto of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline represents what happens when such social licence isn’t secured.

By addressing runaway emissions, Alberta-based companies might actually stand a chance to build infrastructure like the Energy East pipeline, which would transport 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen from Alberta to Quebec and New Brunswick every day.

The province’s climate strategy may allow our sector to invest more aggressively in technologies to further reduce per barrel emissions in our sector and do our part to tackle climate change,” said Tim McMillan, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

We encourage the province to follow a balanced approach, recognizing that our sector can only become a global supplier of responsibly produced oil and natural gas if we are competitive on the world stage.”

The fight over pipelines is unlikely to dissipate. While Sunday’s announcement was a giant step in the right direction, it’s still not enough to avoid catastrophic global warming, according to a statement from Greenpeace.

These policies are important first steps, but much bigger emission reductions will be needed for Alberta to do its part to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius,” Alberta climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema said.

Hudema also noted that the province still has no short or long-term emission reduction targets.

Targets give an important signal to business, let the world know where Alberta is headed, and help ensure that direction leads to the reductions that science and equity demand,” he said.

The Pembina Institute has historically supported a higher carbon tax than what was proposed on Sunday – with $40/tonne in 2016, $50/tonne in 2017 and $60/tonne in 2018 — but the plan is an indisputably major upgrade from the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER), which taxed Alberta’s largest emitters (103 at last count) at the equivalent of $1.80/tonne.

George Hoberg, professor in the forest department at the University of British Columbia, notes there’s still plenty of work to be done but that: “Today is a day for celebration. Alberta has bent its carbon emissions curve, and provided a lever to Canada to show real climate leadership.”

Ultimately, the future of Canada’s environmental reputation may rely on the work that Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna complete during and after the Paris conference. But Sunday’s announcement out of Alberta sets quite the standard.

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The West’s Asymmetric Terrorism

David William Pear

By David William Pear. November 17, 2015

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.—Joseph Stalin

The terrorist attacks in Paris were a tragedy, as were the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States.  The response to those attacks is even less than Stalin’s statistic, since the victims are brown, Arabs, South Asians and Muslims.  The numbers of people killed by U.S. “Shock and Awe” (watch) are seldom reported by the main stream media, except when it serves U.S. propaganda purposes, such as the headline that “Assad has killed 250,000 of his own people with barrel bombs”.

The public has become obsessed with the fear of Muslim terrorists and has surrendered their own Constitutional rights for a false promise of safety.  It is no leap at all for the public to give up the right to life of “Arab” strangers, who have been dehumanized by propaganda.  The brutality of ISIL is well publicized for its barbarity, while the murder of innocent people by the West is just thought of as unfortunate, and seldom reported by the main stream media.

Occasionally the Empire drops its mask and acknowledges the mass murder of innocent civilians.  Then we get to see the real face of the monster, such as when Madeleine Albright said that 500,000 dead Iraqi babies were “worth it” if it achieved U.S. foreign policy objectives (watch).  Or when Hillary Clinton celebrated the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi in a U.S. inspired coup (watch).  Or when a video of Collateral Murder is leaked (watch), supposedly by Chelsea Manning who was then tortured and sentenced to 35 years in prison for revealing the truth.  Or when the only hospital serving the civilian population of an entire province of Afghanistan is purposed destroyed for some reason, only known by those that ordered the attack (watch).  Murdering civilians is the way in which the “Global War on Terrorism” is fought.   Only when there are mass murders of Americans and Europeans is it called terrorism.

When 3,000 Americans were killed in the attacks of 9-11, the U.S. responded by destroying two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, using Asymmetric Terrorism.  Millions of Afghans and Iraqis were murdered, maimed, widowed and orphaned in retaliation, even though they had nothing to do with 9-11.  The world did not mourn their deaths and the destruction of their way of life.  No one painted their Facebook page picture with the colors of the Afghan or Iraqi flags.  Instead Americans sat back in their easy chairs and watched the shock-n-awe of Bagdad as if it were a 4th of July celebration.  They marveled at the power of their tax dollars to destroy an entire country.  The military is held in high esteem, and it is a sacred duty of every citizen to “thank them for their service”.

When 129 people were killed in Paris by unknown terrorists, the French did not wait to investigate before launching airstrikes on Raqqa, Syria.  It is not known nor does the main stream media report how many innocent Syrians the French killed in their Asymmetric Terrorism of revenge.  French president, François Hollande said that the retribution would be “pitiless” and it was.  The French wrote “with love from Paris” on the bombs that killed somebody, because somebody had to die in retribution, even if it was the wrong people.

The U.S. Secretary of War Aston Carter helped the French coordinate the attack on Raqqa with his “intelligence” that ISIL was there.  President Obama and his co-conspirators have been fighting ISIL for over a year, yet said that they are too “elusive” to find and destroy.  Now Aston Carter says he knows where they are from his intelligence.  It is not credible that the U.S. and its Gulf State allies have been supplying thousands of tons of weapons to Syrian “moderate rebels” without knowing that they would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda and its offshoot the Islamic State.  Russia’s Vladimir Putin had no trouble finding ISIL and pushing them back in six weeks.

What is credible is that the U.S. and its allies Sadia Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Israel created and have been supporting Islamic terrorist groups for decades.  Six American presidents (Carter, Reagan, Bush-1, Clinton, Bush-2 and Obama), Congress and the main stream media have supported the policies of overthrowing secular governments by backing Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, while at the same time saying that the U.S. is fighting terrorism.  The “Global War on Terror” is a fraud; it has been a global war of U.S. terrorism.

The U.S. exploited Islamic fundamentalists and their war on women when the U.S. backed the Mujahideen and recruited legions of “Arab-Afghans” from all over the Middle East to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980’s.  The U.S. backed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 1996, and supported them until the Taliban reneged on a pipeline deal with  ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell, Halliburton and Enron in 1999 (History CommonsComplete 911 Timeline, Pipeline Politics).  The U.S. has been on both sides of the fence with Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad, as long as they served U.S. foreign policy objectives, mostly to do with oil and pipelines.

The U.S. says it is on the side of women in Afghanistan now.  Instead the War in Afghanistan has done harm to women, as well as children and innocent men.  It has killed, maimed and ruined Afghan women, and left many widows to beg in the streets (watch documentary Afghanistan Unveiled).  According to Jonathan Steele (Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground) Afghanistan was progressing and modernizing, women were becoming liberated, educated and in the workforce until the U.S. got involved in 1981.  After a generation of U.S. led wars, Afghanistan and its women are in ruins, chaos, and refugees, some of whom are “flooding” Europe.  The U.S. inflicted the same fate on Iraq, Libya and Syria; Egypt is a U.S. backed military dictatorship and the U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is the most repressive regime in the world for women.

The U.S. claims that it does not keep a body count of its victims.  Don’t believe it (Reuters).  What it really means is that the victims of U.S. wars do not count.  The numbers are in the millions killed, wounded, widowed, orphaned and left homeless.  Any male of military age in Afghanistan is considered an enemy combatant worth killing.  Predator drones purposely target weddings and funerals because there may be enemy combatants among them.  Drones use algorithms to identify targets that vaporize entire families—as Obama once joked “Predator Drones, you will never see it coming” (watch You Tube).  But those in conflict zones are constantly listening for the terrorism of drones overhead.

Stalin was wrong:  the statistics of the victims of terrorism and those that live with it daily in the Middle East—including Gaza, Palestine and Yemen—in South Asia, Africa and Ukraine is a tragedy too.  They do not hate us because of our religion, freedom, culture, and our way of life as Bush-2 said.  If they hate us at all it is because we have destroyed their countries, their vital infrastructures, invaded them, killed their loved ones, and left them homeless.


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Non-French War Deaths Matter

David Swanson

By David Swanson

We are all France. Apparently. Though we are never all Lebanon or Syria or Iraq for some reason. Or a long, long list of additional places.

We are led to believe that U.S. wars are not tolerated and cheered because of the color or culture of the people being bombed and occupied. But let a relatively tiny number of people be murdered in a white, Christian, Western-European land, with a pro-war government, and suddenly sympathy is the order of the day.

"This is not just an attack on the French people, it is an attack on human decency and all things that we hold dear," says U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. I'm not sure I hold ALL the same things dear as the senator, but for the most part I think he's exactly right and that sympathy damn well ought to be the order of the day following a horrific mass killing in France.

I just think the same should apply to everywhere else on earth as well. The majority of deaths in all recent wars are civilian. The majority of civilians are not hard to sympathize with once superficial barriers are overcome. Yet, the U.S. media never seems to declare deaths in Yemen or Pakistan or Palestine to be attacks on our common humanity.

I included "pro-war government" as a qualification above, because I can recall a time, way back in 2003, when I was the one shouting "We are all France," and pro-war advocates in the United States were demonizing France for its refusal to support a looming and guaranteed to be catastrophic and counterproductive U.S. war. France sympathized with U.S. deaths on 911, but counseled sanity, decency, and honesty in response. The U.S. told France to go to hell and renamed french fries in Congressional office buildings.

Now, 14 years into a global war on terror that reliably produces more terror, France is an enthusiastic invader, plunderer, bomber, and propagator of hateful bigotry. France also sells billions of dollars of weaponry to lovely little bastions of equality and liberty like Saudi Arabia, carefully ignoring Saudis' funding of anti-Western terrorist groups.

When U.S. militarism failed to prevent 911, I actually thought that would mean reduced militarism. When a Russian plane was recently blown up, I think I imagined for a split second that Russia would learn its lesson and stop repeating U.S. mistakes. When people were just killed in France, I didn't have any time to fantasize about France coming to its senses, because a "socialist" president was already doing his Dubya-on-the-rubble imitation:

"To all those who have seen these awful things," said François Hollande, "I want to say we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow."

The video doesn't look like Bush, and the French word combat does not necessarily mean war just because the Washington Post says it does. It can mean fight in some other sense. But what other sense exactly, I'm not sure. Prosecuting anyone responsible would of course make perfect sense, but a criminal justice system ought not to be pitiless. It's a war that ought to be pitiless. And it's a war that will guarantee more attacks. And it's a war that France has begun.

"It is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners," said Albert Camus.

Please go back to thinking, France.

We do love you and wish you well and are deeply sorry for U.S. influence against your better tendencies.


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

War Is A Lie: Second Edition, published by Just World Books on April 5, 2016. Please buy it online that day. I'll come anywhere in the world to speak about it. Invite me!

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Snowden Reveals Obama Ordered NSA and CIA to Spy on Venezuela

Charles Davis and Andrew Fishman

By Charles Davis and Andrew Fishman. This article was first published on teleSUR

The U.S. National Security Agency accessed the internal communications of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela and acquired sensitive data it planned to exploit in order to spy on the company’s top officials, according to a highly classified NSA document that reveals the operation was carried out in concert with the U.S. embassy in Caracas.

The March 2011 document, labeled, “top secret,” and provided by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, is being reported on in an exclusive partnership between teleSUR and The Intercept.

Drafted by an NSA signals development analyst, the document explains that PDVSA’s network, already compromised by U.S. intelligence, was further infiltrated after an NSA review in late 2010 – during President Barack Obama’s first term, which would suggest he ordered or at least authorized the operation – “showed telltale signs that things were getting stagnant on the Venezuelan Energy target set.” Most intelligence “was coming from warranted collection,” which likely refers to communications that were intercepted as they passed across U.S. soil. According to the analyst, “what little was coming from other collectors,” or warrantless surveillance, “was pretty sparse.”

Beyond efforts to infiltrate Venezuela’s most important company, the leaked NSA document highlights the existence of a secretive joint operation between the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency operating out of the U.S. embassy in Caracas. A fortress-like building just a few kilometers from PDVSA headquarters, the embassy sits on the top of a hill that gives those inside a commanding view of the Venezuelan capital.

Last year, Der Spiegel published top-secret documents detailing the state-of-the-art surveillance equipment that the NSA and CIA deploy to embassies around the world. That intelligence on PDVSA had grown “stagnant” was concerning to the U.S. intelligence community for a number of reasons, which its powerful surveillance capabilities could help address.

“Venezuela has some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world,” the NSA document states, with revenue from oil and gas accounting “for roughly one third of GDP” and “more than half of all government revenues.”

“To understand PDVSA,” the NSA analyst explains, “is to understand the economic heart of Venezuela.”

“Fully sovereign oil company!” | Photo: Reuters

Increasing surveillance on the leadership of PDVSA, the most important company in a South American nation seen as hostile to U.S. corporate interests, was a priority for the undisclosed NSA division to which the analyst reported. “Plainly speaking,” the analyst writes, they “wanted PDVSA information at the highest possible levels of the corporation – namely, the president and members of the Board of Directors.”

Given a task, the analyst got to work and, with the help of “sheer luck,” found his task easier than expected.

It began simply enough: with a visit to PDVSA’s website, “where I clicked on 'Leadership' and wrote down the names of the principals who would become my target list.” From there, the analyst “dumped the names” into PINWALE, the NSA’s primary database of previously intercepted digital communications, automatically culled using a dictionary of search terms called “selectors.” It was an almost immediate success.

In addition to email traffic, the analyst came across over 10,000 employee contact profiles full of email addresses, phone numbers, and other useful targeting information, including the usernames and passwords for over 900 PDVSA employees. One profile the analyst found was for Rafael Ramirez, PDVSA's president from 2004 to 2014 and Venezuela's current envoy to the United Nations. A similar entry turned up for Luis Vierma, the company’s former vice president of exploration and production.

“Now, even my old eyes could see that these things were a goldmine,” the analyst wrote. The entries were full of “work, home, and cell phones, email addresses, LOTS!” This type of information, referred to internally as “selectors,” can then be “tasked” across the NSA’s wide array of surveillance tools so that any relevant communications will be saved.

According to the analyst, the man to whom he reported “was thrilled!” But “it is what happened next that really made our day.”

“As I was analyzing the metadata,” the analyst explains, “I clicked on the 'From IP' and noticed something peculiar,” all of the employee profile, “over 10,000 of them, came from the same IP!!!” That, the analyst determined, meant “I had been looking at internal PDVSA comms all this time!!! I fired off a few emails to F6 here and in Caracas, and they confirmed it!”

“Metadata” is a broad term that can include the phone numbers a target has dialed, the duration of the call and from where it was placed, as well as the Wi-Fi networks used to access the Internet, the websites visited and the times accessed. That information can then be used to identify the user.

F6 is the NSA code name for a joint operation with the CIA known as the Special Collection Service, based in Beltsville, Maryland – and with agents posing as diplomats in dozens of U.S. embassies around the world, including Caracas, Bogota and Brasilia.

A joint NSA-CIA team operates out of the U.S. embassy in Caracas. | Photo: AFP

In 2013, Der Spiegel reported that it was this unit of the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy that had installed, within the U.S. embassy in Berlin, “sophisticated listening devices with which they can intercept virtually every popular method of communication: cellular signals, wireless networks and satellite communication.” The article suggested this is likely how the U.S. tapped into German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone.

SCS at the U.S. embassy in Caracas played an active role throughout the espionage activities described in the NSA document. “I have been coordinating with Caracas,” the NSA analyst states, “who have been surveying their environment and sticking the results into XKEYSCORE.”

XKEYSCORE, as reported by The Intercept, processes a continuous “flow of Internet traffic from fiber optic cables that make up the backbone of the world's communication network,” storing the data for 72 hours on a “rolling buffer” and “sweep[ing] up countless people's Internet searches, emails, documents, usernames and passwords.”

The NSA’s combined databases are, essentially, “a very ugly version of Google with half the world’s information in it,” explained Matthew Green, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, in an email. “They’re capturing so much information from their cable taps, that even the NSA analysts don’t know what they’ve got,” he added, “an analyst has to occasionally step in and manually dig through the data” to see if the information they want has already been collected.

That is exactly what the NSA analyst did in the case of PDVSA, which turned up even more leads to expand their collection efforts.

“I have been lucky enough to find several juicy pdf documents in there,” the NSA analyst wrote, “one of which has just been made a report.”

That report, dated January 2011, suggests a familiarity with the finances of PDVSA beyond that which was public knowledge, noting a decline in the theft and loss of oil.

“In addition, I have discovered a string that carries user ID's and their passwords, and have recovered over 900 unique user/password combinations” the analyst wrote, which he forwarded to the NSA’s elite hacking team, Targeted Access Operations, along with other useful information and a “targeting request to see if we can pwn this network and especially, the boxes of PDVSA's leadership.”

“Pwn,” in this context, means to successfully hack and gain full access to a computer or network. “Pwning” a computer, or “box,” would allow the hacker to monitor a user’s every keystroke.

Photo: Reuters

A History of US Interest in Venezuelan Affairs

PDVSA has long been a target of U.S. intelligence agencies and the subject of intense scrutiny from U.S. diplomats. A February 17, 2009, cable, sent from the U.S. ambassador in Caracas to Washington and obtained by WikiLeaks, shows that PDVSA employees, were probed during visa interviews about their company's internal operations. The embassy was particularly interested in the PDVSA’s strategy concerning litigation over Venezuela's 2007 nationalization of the Cerro Negro oil project – and billions of dollars in assets owned by U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil.

“According to a PDVSA employee interviewed following his visa renewal, PDVSA is aggressively preparing its international arbitration case against ExxonMobil,” the cable notes.

A year before, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that the U.S. government “fully support the efforts of ExxonMobil to get a just and fair compensation package for their assets.” But, he added, “We are not involved in that dispute.”

ExxonMobil is also at the center of a border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela. In May 2015, the company announced it had made a “significant oil discovery” in an offshore location claimed by both countries. The U.S. ambassador to Guyana has offered support for that country’s claim.

RELATED: The Long War: Venezuela and ExxonMobil

More recently, the U.S. government has begun leaking information to media about allegations against top Venezuelan officials.

In October, The Wall Street Journal reported in a piece, “U.S. Investigates Venezuelan Oil Giant,” that “agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies” had recently met to discuss “various PDVSA-related probes.” The “wide-ranging investigations” reportedly have to do with whether former PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez and other executives accepted bribes.

Leaked news of the investigations came less than two months before Dec. 9 parliamentary elections in Venezuela. Ramirez, for his part, has rejected the accusations, which he claims are part of a “new campaign that wants to claim from us the recovery and revolutionary transformation of PDVSA.” Thanks to Chavez, he added, Venezuela’s oil belongs to “the people.”

In its piece on the accusations against him, The Wall Street Journal notes that during Ramirez’s time in office PDVSA became “an arm of the late President Hugo Chavez’s socialist revolution,” with money made from the sale of petroleum used “to pay for housing, appliances and food for the poor.”

IN DEPTH: The War on Venezuela’s Democracy

The former PDVSA president is not the only Venezuelan official to be accused of corruption by the U.S. government. In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice accused Diosdado Cabello, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, of being involved in cocaine trafficking and money laundering. Former Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami, the former director of military intelligence, Hugo Carvajal, and Nestor Reverol, head of the National Guard, have also faced similar accusations from the U.S. government.

None of these accusations against high-ranking Venezuelan officials has led to any indictments.

The timing of the charges, made in the court of public opinion rather than a courthouse, has led some to believe there’s another motive.

“These people despise us,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in October. He and his supporters argue the goal of the U.S. government’s selective leaks is to undermine his party ahead of the upcoming elections, helping install a right-wing opposition seen as friendlier to U.S. interests. “They believe that we belong to them.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses PDVSA workers. | Photo: AVN

Loose Standards for NSA Intelligence Sharing

Ulterior motives or not, by the NSA’s own admission the intelligence it gathers on foreign targets may be disseminated widely among U.S. officials who may have more than justice on their minds.

According to a guide issued by the NSA on January 12, 2015, the communications of non-U.S. persons may be captured in bulk and retained if they are said to contain information concerning a plot against the United States or evidence of, “Transnational criminal threats, including illicit finance and sanctions evasion.” Any intelligence that is gathered may then be passed on to other agencies, such as the DEA, if it “is related to a crime that has been, is being, or is about to be committed.”

Spying for the sole purpose of protecting the interests of a corporation is ostensibly not allowed, though there are exceptions that do allow for what might be termed economic espionage.

“The collection of foreign private commercial information or trade secrets is authorized only to protect nation the national security of the United States or its partners and allies,” the agency states. It is not supposed to collect such information “to afford a competitive advantage to U.S. companies and U.S. business sectors commercially.” However, “Certain economic purposes, such as identifying trade or sanctions violations or government influence or direction, shall not constitute competitive advantage.”

In May 2011, two months after the leaked document was published in NSA’s internal newsletter, the U.S. State Department announced it was imposing sanctions on PDVSA – a state-owned enterprise, or one that could be said to be subject to “government influence or direction” – for business it conducted with the Islamic Republic of Iran between December 2010 and March 2011. The department did not say how it obtained information about the transactions, allegedly worth US$50 million.

Intelligence gathered with one stated purpose can also serve another, and the NSA’s already liberal rules on the sharing of what it gathers can also be bent in times of perceived emergency.

“If, due to unanticipated or extraordinary circumstances, NSA determines that it must take action in apparent departure from these procedures to protect the national security of the United States, such action may be taken” – after either consulting other branches of the intelligence bureaucracy. “If there is insufficient time for approval,” however, it may unilaterally take action.

Beyond the obvious importance of oil, leaked diplomatic cables show PDVSA was also on the U.S. radar because of its importance to Venezuela’s left-wing government. In 2009, another diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks shows the U.S. embassy in Caracas viewed PDVSA as crucial to the political operations of long-time foe and former President Hugo Chavez. In April 2002, Chavez was briefly overthrown in a coup that, according to The New York Times, as many as 200 officials in the George W. Bush administration – briefed by the CIA – knew about days before it was carried out.

The Venezuelan government was not informed of the plot.

Hugo Chavez has “a vision that is almost the mirror image” of what we seek, said the U.S. ambassador. | Photo: President’s Office

ANALYSIS: The U.S. Role in the 2002 Venezuelan Coup

“Since the December 2002-February 2003 oil sector strike, PDVSA has put itself at the service of President Chavez's Bolivarian revolution, funding everything from domestic programs to Chavez's geopolitical endeavors,” the 2009 cable states.

Why might that be a problem, from the U.S. government's perspective? Another missive from the U.S. embassy in Caracas, this one sent in 2010, sheds some light: Chavez “appears determined to shape the hemisphere according to his vision of 'socialism in the 21st century,'” it states, “a vision that is almost the mirror image of what the United States seeks.”

There was a time when not so long ago when the U.S. had an ally in Venezuela, one that shared its vision for the hemisphere – and invited a U.S. firm run by former U.S. intelligence officials to directly administer its information technology operations.

Amid a push for privatization under former Venezuelan President Rafael Caldera, in January 1997 PDVSA decided to outsource its IT system to a joint a company called Information, Business and Technology, or INTESA – the product of a joint venture between the oil company, which owned a 40 percent share of the new corporation, and the major U.S.-based defense contractor Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, which controlled 60 percent.

SAIC has close, long-standing ties to the U.S. intelligence community. At the time of its dealings with Venezuela, the company’s director was retired Admiral Bobby Inman. Before coming to SAIC, Inman served as the U.S. Director of Naval Intelligence and Vice Director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. Inman also served as deputy director of the CIA and, from 1977 to 1981, as director of the NSA.

In his book, “Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government,” author Gregory Wilpert notes that Inman was far from the only former intelligence official working for SAIC in a leadership role. Joining him were two former U.S. Secretaries of Defense, William Perry and Melvin Laird, a former director of the CIA, John Deutsch, and a former head of both the CIA and the Defense Department, Robert Gates. The company that those men controlled, INTESA, was given the job of managing “all of PDVSA’s data processing needs.”

In 2002, Venezuela, now led by a government seeking to roll back the privatizations of its predecessor, chose not to renew SAIC’s contract for another five years, a decision the company protested to the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which insures the overseas investments of U.S. corporations. In 2004, the U.S. agency ruled that by canceling its contract with SAIC the Venezuelan government had “expropriated” the company’s investment.

However, before that ruling, and before its operations were reincorporated by PDVSA, the company that SAIC controlled, INTESA, played a key role in an opposition-led strike aimed at shutting down the Venezuelan oil industry. In December 2002, eight months after the failed coup attempt and the same month its contract was set to expire, INTESA, the Venezuelan Ministry of Communication and Information alleges, “exercised its ability to control our computers by paralyzing the charge, discharge, and storage of crude at different terminals within the national grid.” The government alleges INTESA, which possessed the codes needed to access those terminals, refused to allow non-striking PDVSA employees access to the company’s control systems.

“The result,” Wilpert noted, “was that PDVSA could not transfer its data processing to new systems, nor could it process its orders for invoices for oil shipments. PDVSA ended up having to process such things manually because passwords and the general computing infrastructure were unavailable, causing the strike to be much more damaging to the company than it would have been if the data processing had been in PDVSA’s hands.”

PDVSA’s IT operations would become a strictly internal affair soon thereafter, though one never truly free from the prying eyes of hostile outsiders.

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