Recent Episodes of the Scott Horton Show
Pete Quinones interviews me about China, the accusations against Russia in Afghanistan, Middle East wars and race and power in America.
Scott interviews Matthew Hoh about the recent claim that the Russian government has been paying bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. soldiers. The headlines have made it sound as though this is a confirmed and well-sourced story, when in reality, Hoh explains,...
Scott talks to Hans Kristensen about the state of the world’s nuclear weapons arsenals. Immediately after the Cold War, says Kristensen, the U.S. and Russia drastically reduced their nuclear stockpiles, making the world significantly safer. Since then, however, this...
Jim Bovard exposes the false claim that Bill Clinton presided over a peaceful administration, pointing out the horrible atrocities of the “humanitarian” intervention in Kosovo. Clinton launched this intervention, says Bovard, as a distraction from his personal...
Scott talks to Antiwar.com News Editor Dave DeCamp about several of his latest articles. The two discuss the status of nuclear arms negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, the conflict between southern separatists and the Hadi government in Yemen, the Trump...
Jason Ditz talks about the Turkish attacks on Kurds in northern Iraq, which have taken the form of both land assaults and periodic airstrikes. These incursions began around the time the U.S. invaded Iraq, and have seen little resistance from the Iraqi government. Ditz...
Scott talks to Jonathan Hafetz about the troubling case of Adham Amin Hassoun, a man who was convicted in 2008 of providing material support to terrorist organizations. Hassoun was a legal resident of the United States, but is not a citizen, so upon completion of his...
Joe Lauria explains the latest superseding indictment against Julian Assange, who still faces extradition to the U.S. for his supposed violations of the Espionage Act. Lauria’s take is that the new indictment is simply “window dressing,” meant to make Assange look bad...
Mike Swanson discusses the continuing economic fallout from the coronavirus, focusing in particular on what are sometimes called “zombie companies.” These firms stay afloat largely because of easy money available at low interest rates, even though their business may...
Scott interviews journalist Vincent Bevins about his latest book, The Jakarta Method, in which he lays out some of the history of the U.S. government’s support for violent right-wing coups all over the world. During the Cold War, America backed brutal extremists in...
Pete Quinones talks about his new project, The Monopoly on Violence, a documentary featuring interviews with many prominent figures in the libertarian and anarchist movements. The film explores the history of both statism and anarchism, explaining the nature of...
Danny Sjursen talks about the Mexican-American War, a seldom-discussed conflict that he maintains holds lessons for America today. Sjursen describes a pattern that by now—with our long experience of the war on terrorism—should be all too familiar: a U.S. president...
Q & A Shows
The Stress Blog
I finally got around to getting my own custom join the LP link. Come on now! Let's do this!
Recent Episodes of the Scott Horton Show
Scott interviews Matthew Hoh about the recent claim that the Russian government has been paying bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. soldiers. The headlines have made it sound as though this is a confirmed and well-sourced story, when in reality, Hoh explains, it’s all coming from anonymous American intelligence sources without so much as an attempt at independent verification of, say, specific soldiers that this is supposed to have happened to. Moreover, says Hoh, Russia has very little to gain from such a policy, and a lot to lose. The people who would benefit from increased tensions with Russia are the war hawks in the U.S. government and the big players in the arms industry. Just like with the hundreds of other lies told by the U.S. government and sold by the media to benefit powerful military-industrial complex interests, we should be highly skeptical.
Discussed on the show:
- “Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?” (Institute for Public Accuracy)
- “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says” (The New York Times)
- “Spies and Commandos Warned Months Ago of Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops” (The New York Times)
- “Russian Spy Unit Paid Taliban to Attack Americans, U.S. Intelligence Says” (The Wall Street Journal)
- “Russian operation targeted coalition troops in Afghanistan, intelligence finds” (The Washington Post)
- Afghanistan Papers
- “This Russia-Afghanistan Story Is Western Propaganda At Its Most Vile” (Caitlin Johnstone)
Matthew Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and formerly worked for the U.S. State Department. Hoh received the Ridenhour Prize Recipient for Truth Telling in 2010. Hoh is a member of the Board of Directors for Council for a Livable World and is an Advisory Board Member for Expose Facts. He writes on issues of war, peace and post-traumatic stress disorder recovery at matthewhoh.com.
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.
Scott talks to Hans Kristensen about the state of the world’s nuclear weapons arsenals. Immediately after the Cold War, says Kristensen, the U.S. and Russia drastically reduced their nuclear stockpiles, making the world significantly safer. Since then, however, this trend toward disarmament has begun to slow and even to reverse. At the same time, more countries have developed their own nuclear weapons programs. Scott thinks this has more to do with the financial incentives of the military-industrial complex than it does with the possibility for real global hostilities—but that doesn’t make the situation any less dangerous.
Discussed on the show:
- “SIPRI Yearbook 2020” (SIPRI)
- “Nuclear weapon modernization continues but the outlook for arms control is bleak” (SIPRI)
Hans M. Kristensen is an Associate Senior Fellow with the SIPRI Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme and Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Follow him on Twitter @nukestrat.
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.
Jim Bovard exposes the false claim that Bill Clinton presided over a peaceful administration, pointing out the horrible atrocities of the “humanitarian” intervention in Kosovo. Clinton launched this intervention, says Bovard, as a distraction from his personal scandals, under the dubious guise of saving the ethnic minority Albanians from genocide at the hands of the Serbians. Of course, as with many of America’s wars, this one turned out to be based on lies; ultimately hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians were killed because of U.S. intervention. Scott and Bovard also discuss the U.S. military’s war crimes during the Korean War.
Discussed on the show:
- “Kosovo Indictment Proves Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities” (The Libertarian Institute)
- Hillary’s Choice
- “The Korean War Atrocities No One Wants to Talk About” (The American Conservative)
- Pentagon Papers
Jim Bovard is a columnist for USA Today and the author of Public Policy Hooligan: Rollicking and Wrangling from Helltown to Washington. Find all of his books and read his work on his website and follow him on Twitter @JimBovard.
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.
Scott talks to Antiwar.com News Editor Dave DeCamp about several of his latest articles. The two discuss the status of nuclear arms negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, the conflict between southern separatists and the Hadi government in Yemen, the Trump administration’s plans to allow the Israeli government to annex more of the West Bank, and a new round of sanctions on Syria. You can read all of DeCamp’s great work at news.antiwar.com and original.antiwar.com.
Discussed on the show:
- “At Least 54 Killed as South Yemen Ceasefire Collapses in Abyan” (Antiwar.com)
- “Annexation could extinguish Palestinian hope. That’s dangerous.” (The Washington Post)
- Oslo Accords
- “The Imperious Caesar Act Will Crush the Syrian People” (The American Conservative)
- The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir
Jason Ditz talks about the Turkish attacks on Kurds in northern Iraq, which have taken the form of both land assaults and periodic airstrikes. These incursions began around the time the U.S. invaded Iraq, and have seen little resistance from the Iraqi government. Ditz also discusses the border dispute between India and China, which has long been simmering and recently erupted into hand-to-hand violence that killed several dozen soldiers on both sides. Ditz thinks the killing is over for the time being, but is concerned about the future of the conflict, given both countries’ age-old animosity and their possession of nuclear weapons.
Discussed on the show:
- “Turkey Launches Ground Offensive Against Kurds in Northern Iraq” (Antiwar.com)
- “6/19/20 Eric Margolis on the World’s Most Dangerous Border Dispute” (The Libertarian Institute)
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. Okay, guys on the line, I’ve got Jason ditz. He’s the news editor at antiwar.com news.antiwar.com. And he’s got a whole series on this extremely important series of events. Man I said series twice in a row like that. That’s just terrible. A bunch of stuff happened. Turkey attack the PKK than Iraq. And then so did Iran. Huh. Welcome back to the show, Jason, how you doing?
Jason Ditz 1:04
I’m doing good. Scott. How are you?
Scott Horton 1:06
I’m doing great. So June 17. You wrote this thing. Turkey launches ground offensive against Kurds in northern Iraq. And so who’s who and what do they fight about?
Jason Ditz 1:17
Well, this has happened. Honestly, a lot. Turkey’s been at war with the PKK, who are Kurdish separatists since the 80s. They consider them terrorists like they consider most Kurdish groups. And a few years ago, there was a very brief ceasefire that was supposed to lead to peace talks in Turkey. And as part of that ceasefire deal, the PKK sent a lot of their forces into northern Iraq like the the really just barely still Iraq, Northern Part of the country of Iraqi Kurdistan officials really didn’t seem to mind at the time they thought they were helping out a regional ally. But ever since that a ceasefire collapsed, which was seems like a few weeks after it started, a turkey has been attacking the PKK in northern Iraq for fairly regularly at least once a year. And this time, what’s different is they’re doing the same, you know, send some ground troops in an attack. But Iran has actually gotten involved, to some extent firing some rockets and artillery at the PKK as well.
Scott Horton 2:57
As Do you know, is there a recent crackdown on PJAK inside Iran or something like that.
Jason Ditz 3:03
There were there were reports of it a few weeks before this started
Scott Horton 3:08
PJAK. I’m sorry, everybody. That’s sort of the uranium branch of the Turkish PKK. There.
Jason Ditz 3:14
Right? Every, I mean, Kurds live in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. I mean, obviously, they live elsewhere. But that’s the historic Kurdistan. And they’ve got little separatist groups in each of those countries. And as far as Turkey is concerned, they’re all PKK. They’re all basically run by the PKK. Even though that’s not really the case in some of those countries. I’m not so sure about PJ the the Iranian version. But there were reports of some clashes in Iran with them around denied that that was the case. Instead, everything was fine, but now we see them firing on the PKK in Iraq and it kinda, it raises some questions.
Scott Horton 4:08
Yeah, so now the I’m sorry man, I forgot now. I’m embarrassed. Which one died Do you remember Barzani or Taliban? He those are the two major Warlords of Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. They’re a think it was Taliban. He did dive right.
Jason Ditz 4:28
I think so. Yeah.
Scott Horton 4:30
I’m sorry, man. Anyway, but so this isn’t them. But this is the PKK. They’re quite separate from the PKK and their factions. And yet so I’m curious, is there do you know, any way to tell you know, how much permission that they have given the PKK to hide out in Iraqi Kurdistan? I mean, we’re talking about a very mountainous region. So I don’t know if they’re just sneaking around on their own or if they have permission to be there by the ruling factions. Do you know
Jason Ditz 5:00
Well, at the time when they got there during that brief ceasefire with Turkey, it seemed like the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq was more or less fine with it. There was no real objection to them coming in. And that part of that part of Iraq is so sparsely populated. It’s all mountains and tiny little villages. And it was like, they didn’t really seem to care. Even for them. It was like an insignificant region, they felt like wow, that’ll be fine. Which is interesting because that political bloc in Iraq is one of the few major Kurdish political bloc’s in the region that doesn’t generally get along with the PKK. They see the PKK and the YPG as kind of the Contrary to their interests, and sometimes there’s some. I mean, there’s a lot of political fighting. Sometimes it’s it’s escalated into actual violence, but it seemed like they were fine with them coming. I don’t think they imagined the PKK would still be there. This is a few years after the fact. I don’t think they imagined that Turkey would be attacking the northern provinces. So regularly, which the Iraqi central government has been complaining about, every time it happens. I mean, they say, well, no turkey can’t send troops in here. They’re not allowed. That’s a violation of our sovereignty, which it is. But turkey does it anyway. And it just sort of happens. So Far as Iraq is concerned so far, I haven’t really been able to do anything about it.
Scott Horton 7:08
And now, what’s this about the UAE? Who are they bankrolling there and what are they got to do with it all?
Jason Ditz 7:17
The UAE when this first happened, like the first day when the reports came out of attacks, issued a statement backing the Iraqi government at the Arab League saying Iraq is right. Turkey has no business doing this or violating the sovereignty of an Arab state. And they have to stop and Iran to although it was really more aimed at Turkey. Now the UAE is interested in this, I think is mostly just being mad at turkey over what happened in Libya.
Scott Horton 7:59
I know our Sounds like that is what it is right there.
Jason Ditz 8:03
Feel like you know, Turkey came in to Libya backing the opposite side from who the UAE was backing and that civil war and all of a sudden the tides turn just huge and quick were you know, General haftar that the UAE was backing and what’s basically been a coup attempt. He went from controlling you know, basically the whole east of Libya and a good chunk of the area around Tripoli to now he’s lost pretty much everything in the in the West and has been pushed back into just part of the East so I mean, he’s lost big time. Turkey made a deal with the Government of National Accord which is the rival force in Libya. For oil and gas exploration rights in the Mediterranean. Which is a really weird. You look at a map, it’s weird to think about, but the maritime rights of Libya and Turkey actually do kind of intersect, huh?
Scott Horton 9:22
Yeah, I see it. I actually got a big map here for exactly that reason. Yeah bisect the Mediterranean there. I like how it’s just business in the Syria war. The Turks and the UAE, they might have back competing malicious, but they were both working to overthrow Assad here. They’re outright on opposite sides and it’s all about the petroleum.
Jason Ditz 9:45
Right. And Wow, that’s really all Libya has. I mean, realistically, you’ve got oil fields in the interior of the country and Huge oil ports on the coast. That’s and that’s basically Libya. Everything else is kind of non consequential for any foreign powers. You got to control the oil fields enough to get them pumping, and you have to control the ports enough to get boats out of there. And that’s
Scott Horton 10:18
now Oh, as far as the attacks on the PKK there in northern Iraq, I mean, not to play down those debts. But again, because this isn’t the ruling faction, they’re attacking or anything like that, they’re basically guerrillas off in the mountains. So it doesn’t seem like the kind of situation where there’s a lot of collateral damage of neighborhoods being bombed or anything crazy like that, right.
Jason Ditz 10:44
No, although there have been reports of some Iraqi Kurdish civilians getting caught up in it. Yeah, there’s, you know, a if you look at that, Northern most Iraqi province There’s a lot of rural roads up in the mountains and they’ll get hit with air strikes. And it’s a, you know, you’re hitting anytime a car passes by, you’re just kind of hoping that’s your target, because that’s basically the US strategy of air strikes, which is hit anything that moves. turkeys have picked up on that. But yeah, I mean, obviously they have some ideas or the small caves or villages or whatnot, where they’re living and they get them directly there. But other than that, you just looking for targets of opportunity, and sometimes that’s gonna be civilians.
Scott Horton 11:45
Jason Ditz 13:28
Ah, it seems to have quieted down quite a bit. Although I don’t mean to
Scott Horton 13:33
say it’s been coming and going since the Bush years but yeah,
Jason Ditz 13:38
right. I mean, one of the first things that happened when the US invaded Iraq was the turkey invaded. on a smaller scale turkey invaded northern Iraq to go after Kurds and that still happens sometimes. But It’s it’s not really something that is probably going to stop anytime soon. Like you say, they’re not hitting tons of people with these airstrikes or these ground offensives. It’s not like that. A few day ground offensive is done and they’re like, well, all PKK are out of Iraq. Now. There’s doubtless more left and it’s gonna be a pretext for more offensives in the future.
Scott Horton 14:32
Yeah. All right. So move a few thousand miles over to the east here to the Himalayan mountains, where the Chinese and the Indians had their dispute. I talked with Eric Margulies about this a bit last week and can give us a little bit of outline of the status of that conflict right now.
Jason Ditz 14:52
Well, it’s really interesting because again, if you look at this on a map, and sort of get satellite images The Line of Control, because, you know, a lot of these countries in that part of South Asia don’t really have proper borders, they have lines of control. It’s like, Ah, this is China controls this side, India controls this side, Pakistan controls this side. And everybody’s disputing exactly where the border should be in the future. But if you look at it on the map, and in the satellites, he realized, especially the India China, Line of Control is a whole lot of nothing. I mean, to the world’s two largest population countries, and their border is this rocky sort of mountain side, near the side chain glacier. Almost nobody lives there. There’s two patrols go by and by sides and that’s the most activity either side really gets and the border region. So it’s not like they’re fighting over something valuable, it just becomes a matter of national pride that the other side can’t violate their borders.
Scott Horton 16:17
Right. Does that also mean though, that since there’s so little at stake, that it’s easy for them to back down? And so don’t worry,
Jason Ditz 16:26
you would think so. But when they make it about national pride, they tend to insist that they’re not gonna back down. Neither side wants to be seen as the one that backed away from the conflict and might lose some might lose some credibility that way. But at the same time, it is really puzzling. They had one war in this area, decades ago. And both sides kind of private themselves on the fact that nobody’s neither sides troops have fired on the other side’s troops in 40 some years.
Scott Horton 17:09
Yeah, I mean, these guys were killed with baseball bats with barbed wire wrapped around, like, boards with nails through it or something. That’s what I read.
Jason Ditz 17:18
All right, there’s a
Scott Horton 17:20
picture of Moses lack chasing the aliens on the Halloween episode of The Simpsons, you know,
Jason Ditz 17:28
there was a picture of some of India’s I guess, arms in this case. And it’s really kind of gruesome because it looked like just a bunch of rebar and
Scott Horton 17:43
sweet. I mean, hey, it’s better than the mall blowing each other away with a case I guess. It’s a shame that the government’s won’t allow them to carry guns or else they wouldn’t use their AKs’, Right?
Jason Ditz 17:57
It’s it’s really a puzzling situation I mean II think about see upwards of 60 people got killed between the two sides doing this with no guns these are both nuclear powers with major militaries and they’re fighting with sticks and boards with nails and barbed wire and the picture I saw of one India’s sort of sets of rebar and and other assorted equipment wrapped in barbed wire is kind of gruesome because it’s got blood on it and everything from hitting Chinese people at it. But yeah, I mean, yeah,
Scott Horton 18:43
within about that just between the daggers and the valley kids and thrashing sounds brutal.
Jason Ditz 18:52
It’s like, it would be really scary. If these two sides were trying to kill each other with the weapons They actually have available instead of just what they can get away with without losing there and no guns have been fired in this area. But yeah, I mean, it really is quite out of hand. And honestly, a lot more out of hand, then either side of that border is worth. I mean, India’s never going to both sides say the other started it but India is never going to get deep enough into China to take anything valuable. And China’s never going to get deep enough in de Indian Kashmir that take anything valuable. So there’s really, there’s no point to this fight. It’s just they’re mad. And there was enough sticks and bats and whatnot, that they figured out how to kill each other with them.
Scott Horton 19:55
So, but I mean, I had read one headline where it said that Chinese are kind of backing down And then I read, see you tell lazy I’m getting in my old data, really read the article Jason. I saw a headline said Chinese backing down some. And then I saw another headline said Chinese talking about the Indians, again, ratcheting up tensions there. So it doesn’t look like it’s over yet but at least the killings over now. Right?
Jason Ditz 20:20
Yeah, I mean that that particular flare up is over but after that happened what she had, you know 2030 troops on either side, which is about normal for that region, just kind of keeping an eye on each other since that’s happened. Both sides have sent a lot more troops. I don’t know if they’re armed yet. But they sent a lot more troops China’s built a couple of kind of observation posts at the top of hills looking down on the line of control. Most of China’s statements are that the India is fully to blame for everything. happened and that they’re not gonna stand for it. Andy, his statement is like, well, we don’t really want to see this escalate, but we’re not going to back down either. So nothing really got resolved that, but at least they kind of stopped for the time being.
Scott Horton 21:17
Yeah. All right. Well, man, we’re all out of time but you got 100 more important news stories here at news Don antiwar.com urge everybody to go over there and check it out and get caught up on all of well, not just America’s wars, but you know, some of these other conflicts too. Great stuff as always, Jason Thank you. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Scott talks to Jonathan Hafetz about the troubling case of Adham Amin Hassoun, a man who was convicted in 2008 of providing material support to terrorist organizations. Hassoun was a legal resident of the United States, but is not a citizen, so upon completion of his prison sentence in 2017, the government sought to deport him. But Hassoun, born in Lebanon to refugee parents, doesn’t hold citizenship in any country, and the U.S. couldn’t find a country to send him to. Instead, they invoked an obscure section of the Patriot Act that supposedly allows them to detain Hassoun indefinitely. Hafetz and the ACLU are challenging them on this claim, fighting for the freedom of a man who by all accounts has served his time and now deserves his liberty.
Discussed on the show:
- “Government Case Collapses Against Adham Amin Hassoun, First Man Jailed Indefinitely Under Patriot Act” (The Daily Beast)
- “Zadvydas v. Davis” (Oyez)
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow.
All right, so introducing Jonathan. Hey Fitz, senior staff attorney at the ACLU, welcome back to the show. How you doing?
Jonathan Hafetz 0:47
Very well in yourself.
Scott Horton 0:49
I’m doing great. appreciate you joining us here. And you know, I read this incredibly interesting story. I’m not sure if I ever heard about this specific case or not. Hum. mean, how soon and I hate to quote The Daily Beast, but I do somewhat respect Spencer Ackerman, so Okay. It’s a Spencer Ackerman article at The Daily Beast. And it says here that you guys have been representing this guy, and that he has been held since when and for what again?
Jonathan Hafetz 1:23
It’s a good question. He’s been held. Well, he was he was convicted in the 2000s for what’s called material support for terrorism. But as the judge in his case found he actually had nothing to do with a group like Al Qaeda and was not directed to us essentially, he was caught up in some kind of broader operation and he was, he was convicted of basically giving money to or supporting charities in places like Chechnya. That We’re intended to uh, you know, it’s just people there during conflict in Bosnia and Chechnya, nothing directed the United States and he was caught up in the overreaction and the sweeping kind of abuse of authority after 911. And he was anyway but anyway, that he was convicted and he was sentenced to a term imprisonment, the government sought to sentence him to a longer term, much longer term. But the the judge refused, said he was not a threat to national the US national security. And so the case was done. And then he was released from his prison term ended. And he’s a loser, longtime resident United States. He’s not at his family here, children born here, sister, he’s a he’s not a citizen. And so he was. He was ordered removed from the country he was going to be deported after his term of imprisonment ended. The problem is that he’s stateless Palestine. And he was born in Lebanon doesn’t have Lebanese citizenship and the government was not able to locate a country to deport him to. I’m thinking part because there, this administration’s ability to conduct diplomatic negotiations has been totally stymied by the Trump administration, which has got at the State Department. But in any event, they couldn’t find a place to transform to so rather than letting him go, after they weren’t able to deport him, they decided to keep him locked up on it. And one of the most sweeping versions of executive power that I’ve ever seen, they’ve they’ve they’ve they’ve invoked a patriot act, which was the legislation passed right after 911 overbroad legislation, and they’ve latched on to a provision that they actually haven’t used in 20 years since the back almost 20 years since the Act was passed. And and the provision says that if someone if a non citizen is ordered removed from the country or deported, and they can’t be removed, and it’s clear, there’s no country that they can be sent to, they can be detained indefinitely if they post Quote, threaten national security or public safety and quote, and so they have invoked that claiming that Mr. Soon is a threat to national security and can’t be released. We think this is an unconstitutional statute essentially allows for the government to imprison people without charge. But we’ve also fought said, Well, if you’re going to invoke it, you’ve at least got to give him a fair hearing in court. And we’ve been fighting for that for the last six months. The government’s view was initially that if they invoke the statute declared no review with the executive. The executive said you’re a national threat to national security. That’s the end of the story. There’s no judicial review of the facts. No one gets to examine them. It’s just trust us. We think this person’s a danger. We got we get to lock them up maybe for the rest of his life. And we’ve challenged that in court and our our, we’re ready to go for a hearing all set to where we’re ready to challenge and expose the government’s allegations as lies. We’re supposed to start this On Wednesday of this week, Wednesday, November 24, it was supposed to start and the government at the last minute said, guess what? We have no case we can’t prove our case. But it’s still trying to keep him locked up.
Scott Horton 5:14
So they’ve admitted they don’t have a case to present or they’re not hiding behind secrecy or anything like that.
Jonathan Hafetz 5:20
They’re not they’re not hiding behind secrecy. There’s no secrecy. There’s no classified information. They said we can’t meet the burden that the district court established in the case. And we you know, the if the under the district court’s ruling, we cannot prevail, and they that that means that they can’t they can’t prevail before court, where they have to show that Mr. As soon as a danger and the judge initially and
Scott Horton 5:43
then their argument is, but they shouldn’t have to show that he’s a danger because they can do this anyway.
Jonathan Hafetz 5:48
That’s exactly right. Their view is weak. The judge erred that the fundamental error was that the judge actually required that we have to put on proofs. So the only way they win the case is if if if the job they appeal If the appeals appeals court says, You’re correct government, you don’t need to put on any evidence. And the judge erred by actually holding a hearing you supply providing a fair process and making you provide some shred of credible evidence to back up your claims. But if not, if the if the, you know, as we maintain and I think as manifest if there’s the Constitution requires that you get a hearing before you’re locked up for the rest of your life, and you get a chance to, you know, to, to examine the evidence and to present your side to the judge, then the government loses, but their position is chilling.
Scott Horton 6:37
I mean, does it matter that he’s illegal immigrant and not an illegal immigrant or anything like that? I mean, clearly, he’s going to or less, but we’re talking about not deporting him but locking him up. So
Jonathan Hafetz 6:50
great question. It makes no difference. He’s in the United States. He’s, he’s protected by the due process clause as a as a longtime resident. I mean, the theory that Government invoking here is the same one invoked after, against us citizens after 911. On the in the military detention context where it said, we can lock you up indefinitely based on, you know, executive say so. And I think it’s another excellent point you make, which is he’s not challenging his removal I did. He’s eager to participate. He loves Americans. He’s had, you know, many wonderful experiences the United States, but he wants to just be free and he would be eager to go to another country just to live the room, his remaining years and freedom and peace. So he’s not he’s not challenging his right to remain in the US. He’s just challenging his right not to be locked up, that if they can’t deport him, and he can’t be removed, at least until he’s another country is found. He shouldn’t have to languish behind bars.
Scott Horton 7:45
How much of your case is well, first you’re just trying to get the hearing but then obviously you have a case that he’s that you would like to present that he’s not a threat but first you’re trying to argue that they can’t even do this. This is unconstitutional overreach or how resigned are you to Their power to buy as he said, He’s not contesting his his removal. But well, as you said, he’s a Palestinian refugee, he can’t go home. And so, since he has nowhere to go, do they have the right to lock them up indefinitely with a one good hearing?
Jonathan Hafetz 9:19
No, I think they absolutely do not. They this was this, this issue came up in a case called Zed vitesse, versus Davis, which decided in June of 2001. And it’s, you know, it’s not a, you know, it happens in a number of cases, in this case in vault where you have someone who’s, you know, been ordered removed based on a criminal conviction, including, you know, perhaps for violent, violent offenses of violence. The people in this case had been convicted of armed robbery and other violent offenses. they’ve they’ve served their time. And as in this advisors case, they serve their time and they then it’s time that you They get out the, you know, what used to be the ins the immigration, Naturalization Service. Now, it’s DHS or ice takes custody of them in order to remove them. But because of some, you know, vague for some reason, they may have some issue, they can’t, they’re stateless, or there’s a concern, they’ll be tortured in their home country, they can’t be removed. And so the court has ruled that if once if, if a non citizen is been ordered removed, but after some period of time, you know, around, say around six months or so could be longer, but not much longer. If they are, if they if they if the government is unable to find a country to send them to, and their removal is not foreseeable, like looks like they’re not going to be able to find a country. They have to be ordered, released, unless they’re going you know, that’s it. They can’t just you can’t keep people locked up. So that was the settled law. And after that the government passed a well, the Congress passed the statute, the Patriot Act, and there was a provision in there saying, that may be the law. But if we say it’s national security, that’s different. And then we can just keep you. And we think this is unconstitutional, like the government could not do this under any circumstances. But and we’ve made that argument to the court. But the other argument and the one that we’ve been focused on for the last, you know, since last year has been, if the government’s going to do that, it has to at least give the person a fair hearing before a court, right to put on evidence to examine government witnesses, you know, what anyone in their, you know, what he understands is as basic due process, right, and that the judge agreed with us back in December and a ruling and said, You know, I’m not going to decide whether they could do this administered, you know, to someone who, in fact does pose a threat to the security but I want to find out what the what the facts are here first, and so I’m going to order a hearing and she ordered a hearing in December and you January, she told the government that if you have to put on actual witnesses, you can’t lie behind jailhouse informants and unreliable hearsay. And so we’ve been proceeding towards trial. And we were scheduled to have the five day trial report. It’s a bench trial before the judge on starting on June 24. And then six days before the trial was was supposed to start, the government said, they filed a notice saying we’re moving to cancel the trial, cancel the hearing, because we can’t meet the burden. We can’t we can’t prove our case to a judge basically. And so we’re, we, you know, we’re saying give up, we’re giving up and enter judgment, or, you know, under judgment for Mr. Assume, but then they said, instead of saying, what allow him to go free, they said enter judgment, but then stay your judgment, freeze your judgment, so we can appeal your decision to a higher court and keep him locked up. While we fight over this question of whether we can imprison someone based solely on on executive say, so.
Scott Horton 13:00
Yeah. And now, so about this guy’s statelessness in the first place. He said he’s born in Lebanon. So his parents are refugees, I guess, parents or grandparents? Yeah, he’s old enough. His parents were refugees from Israel. So Palestine was Palestine. But so they can’t send him back to Lebanon? Or if they did, he’d have to go to a refugee camp in Lebanon. And is that that you can’t send someone back to a refugee camp in Lebanon or what’s the deal with that?
Jonathan Hafetz 13:29
Well, I mean, he can’t his rubles not possible. I mean, if I mean, I think that they would have to you have to give him citizenship or you know, he would but he’s not able to can’t send him back there. So they’re trying to find another
Scott Horton 13:40
because because Lebanon already said under no circumstances will they take him
Jonathan Hafetz 13:44
or I mean, the data I mean, we don’t know the full details but he’s not doesn’t have citizenship. So he’s not able to go back there doesn’t have residency there. She’s not a citizen there. So he’s essentially still you know, he’s stateless. Is he stateless? Maybe
Scott Horton 13:54
you can live in an airport somewhere.
Jonathan Hafetz 13:57
Yeah, well, that would be better than his his car. situation in the federal prison in Batavia, which which also has one of the highest COVID-19 outbreaks or poverty or you know, number of cases of institution. So is he I should say his hearing was supposed to be in April but got just compounding the unfairness got delayed for two months because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis. So, he’s a human, he’s just been, you know, kind of languishing, he’s done it. He has, you know, health issues. And he also, you know, to facilitate his release, prompt release. He also agreed to, I think what I would say are very stringent conditions, especially since, you know, he’s as he maintains his as is completely innocent. And the government hasn’t put on any evidence to the contrary, but he just, you know, in order to address any potential concerns the government or court might have, he said, I will remain, you know, essentially in a home confinement in Florida. We’re starting resides and the government can watch me they can surveil me, I don’t care. I just don’t want to be in jail anymore. I don’t want to die in jail.
Scott Horton 15:09
Man. All right. Well, and you know, it is important here too, as they say in the article about how they were trying to get him to become an informant. fact, this was we found out later, I guess I know you know this, but it took years for this to come out that in fact, they were trying to get Jose pedia to become an informant, which raised a lot of questions why he was so dangerous that they had to turn him over to the military and the CIA. When in fact he was so harmless that they were going to put them on the streets If only he would be a rat for them. And apparently it turns out all that they dished up for him was really punishment also for not going along. called the Randy Weaver treatment, you either become an informant for the government or else then we’re coming after you. And so no worries, this guy never really did anything. In the first place, oh, they accused him of sending some money, I guess. And he said that he was sending them to America’s allies in the Balkans and chechi in Afghanistan. Right. So what’s the problem?
Jonathan Hafetz 16:10
Right? It I mean, it’s it’s something that they’re like, it’s something that happened before 911 if there hadn’t been a 911, he never would have been prosecuted. It’s only it’s only because of that. I think that’s exactly right. I think that’s part of it, is it because, you know, they claim he didn’t do quote, unquote, cooperate or or do what they want there, they are still kind of seeking to punish him, and it’s very cruel.
Scott Horton 16:30
You know, what exactly was his association with video? Can you talk about that?
Jonathan Hafetz 16:35
I mean, the very minimal very minimum is in the case. And I mean, the Guardian, and the government never proved really anything and he didn’t have much association with him. So it was, and so that was, he was kind of lumped in. We’re really, I think, dia was lumped in one of the two were lumped into the same prosecution and that and that, I think was harmful to him, but at least he At least he avoided a long you know the sentence that the government was trying to give him the judge was it’s very strong things about him said look under the law what you did may be a crime but I don’t think you pose a danger I’m not going to give you this long sentence double the sentence the government wants and I think the judge would be appalled that Mr. That after serving his time is true as soon as still you know back in you know, he’s still in you know, facing like years more of us detention right.
Scott Horton 17:31
Of course, I mean, pedia was accused of plotting to set off dirty bombs and attack you know, American civilian apartment complexes with radioactive what have you and so this guy was associated with that I could are associated with him I’m not saying that was true at all, obviously was not to say that was the that was in fact the accusations that they had tortured out of poor Binya Mohammed into making against Jose Padilla. We know that but uh, if If this guy had been tarred with those same accusations at the same time as what I’m trying to say that could have certainly been detrimental to his case back then, right.
Jonathan Hafetz 18:08
Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, being tried with someone who was linked even unfairly to this plot that was never proven and based on torture was not helpful at all for him.
Scott Horton 18:20
All right. So, and I’m sorry, tell me where it stands again, as far as you have your hearing that has been ordered coming up again sometime soon.
Jonathan Hafetz 18:30
Yeah. So the judge, the government moved, as I said, they dropped the drop. They’re essentially dropped their case that we can’t prove our case. But they said issue a what’s called the stay of release, right. They know he’s going to be released that we’ve actually conditioned and agreed upon conditions in place if he’s ordered release, but they don’t order his release. We, we want you to stay it and then we and then if you don’t do that, we are considering going to a court of appeals to try to get them to to stay it and freezes releasing cases. been locked up. So the judge we’re now in the process of filing legal papers on whether the judge should stay his release, even after the government said they couldn’t put out any evidence against him at the hearing that she ordered
Scott Horton 19:14
once now, by the term stay, I mean, that has a ring of temporary ness to it, but it sounds like what you’re saying is they want to invoke national security and say that under this statute under this part of the Patriot Act, they can keep this guy for the rest of his life nothing temporary about it, that the government the court, they’re asking the court to butt out and let them continue to hold the guy right or not.
Jonathan Hafetz 19:37
Right well that’s their that’s their bottom line position is that they if Yeah, they’re not saying they will but they’re saying they have the power to keep them for the rest
Scott Horton 19:44
of us. Yeah, never mind making a case that Never mind that you’re right that Yeah, no, we don’t we can’t make a case against them. But we don’t feel like we have to. that’s beside the point.
Jonathan Hafetz 19:53
Correct. This and the stay is just to keep him imprisoned while the May while the people plays out. That is while the court the appeals courts decide whether the government whether the government in theory is has any validity, which totally it does not have any that they can keep him for life. But what that means is, as soon practically speaking, would be in jail for months, even years more while the appeals courts decide whether or not the government’s totally bogus theory, his bogus, right so it’s it’s just it’s just being it’s just another way to game for the government to try to gain the legal system and and manipulate it to try to keep him locked up, which after they didn’t put on any evidence they didn’t even try. And that’s what’s so appalling about this case.
Scott Horton 20:35
Well, and here’s the thing too, is that in all those indefinite detentions, including Jose pedia, and including all of the what thousands, couple thousand American Muslims who were rounded up and held as material witnesses and all these things, that this is the first time you said that they have invoked this part of the Patriot Act. It’s been hiding out there that Bush and Cheney never tried to invoke this provision. That set No. I mean, this is like Israeli administrative detention after your sentence we get to keep holding Yeah,
Jonathan Hafetz 21:06
that’s exactly what it is. And I thought yeah, we think it’s unconstitutional and even added a minimum you need to get you actually have to have a fair hearing.
Scott Horton 21:14
Maybe we can ask Joe Biden he wrote the patriot act right
Jonathan Hafetz 21:19
right. Well, I think I would hope he would be a that you know, a future administration another mission wouldn’t do this once they actually see at least even if they want to have the power for the you know, for for some future case, we don’t think it’s constitutional but even if they want it, they would think it’s a total abuse to do it here. And it’s just cool. Yeah, at least
Scott Horton 21:38
we have a choice we can count on the guy who wrote the thing to hopefully maybe not enforced that part of it. Coming up so big, big choice coming up in our election, everybody. Um, but yeah, no, all kidding aside, it well, as is obvious on the face of it, but it should Just go without saying all the time. If you guys weren’t fighting this fight, there might not be somebody fighting it. And at the bottom line, you know, if there’s nobody there to stick up for the Bill of Rights, we don’t have one. So, thanks.
Jonathan Hafetz 22:13
Well, thank you and thanks for your time. Appreciate that.
Scott Horton 22:15
Aren’t you guys that is Jonathan Heifetz. He is senior staff attorney at the ACLU. And you can read all about this case. Spencer Ackerman at The Daily Beast, government case collapses against man jailed indefinitely under Patriot Act. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Joe Lauria explains the latest superseding indictment against Julian Assange, who still faces extradition to the U.S. for his supposed violations of the Espionage Act. Lauria’s take is that the new indictment is simply “window dressing,” meant to make Assange look bad by smearing his reputation in the minds of those who follow the case only from afar—the indictment, it turns out, doesn’t even contain any new charges. All along, the name of the game has been trying to make Assange out to be not a publisher of information he received from others, but an actual accomplice in the hacking of those secrets in the first place. Anyone who has been following Assange’s story closely from the beginning knows that this claim is completely untrue; what Assange does is no different than what any other investigative journalist does, except that he’s much better at it. If the American government can successfully extradite and convict Assange on these Espionage Act charges, says Lauria, they must do the same for the editors of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and every other mainstream media outlet in the country.
Discussed on the show:
- “ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Assange Hit With New Superseding Indictment, Reflecting Possible FBI Sting Operation” (Consortium News)
- “25 YEARS OF CN: ‘Journalists Are All Julian Assange’—Robert Parry, December 16, 2010” (Consortium News)
- Collateral Murder
- “Military Fails to Link Leaks With Any Deaths” (Courthouse News)
- “State Department Cables” (WikiLeaks)
- “Iraq War Logs” (WikiLeaks)
- “Afghan War Diary” (WikiLeaks)
- “In letter to the Lancet, doctors condemn torture of Assange and demand his release” (World Socialist Web Site)
Joe Lauria is the editor-in-chief at Consortium News. He is a former UN correspondent and wrote at the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @unjoe.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. All right, you guys on the line, I’ve got the great Joe Lauria. He is the editor of consortium news.com. And he’s got such an important piece here. Assange hit with new superseding indictment spit, reflecting possible FBI sting operation Yeah, who would have thought that Welcome back to the show. Joe. How are you sir?
Joe Lauria 0:58
Thank you, Scott. I’m fine. Good to talk. Again,
Scott Horton 1:00
yeah, for those not familiar, the hero, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was published such great information over the years already has been indicted. He’s in custody in England. And but he’s been indicted in the United States over skipping bail on a fake charge. But he’s already indicted in the United States on Espionage Act charges. They’re saying he’s not a publisher like the New York Times, but he’s a co conspirator in getting the leak. With then Bradley now Chelsea Manning back in 2010, the Iraq War Logs, Guantanamo files, Afghan War Logs and State Department cables there, and all of which are still firstname.lastname@example.org. And so this is already a huge problem, obviously, but now a superseding indictment which has all kinds of new accusations, but primarily, I think, you helped me Tell me if I’m wrong Hear Joe. It sounds like it’s basically the same accusations again, that rather than being a publisher, he is a co conspirator. This time with labels sec. And anonymous in pilfering certain documents from certain places. Please Do tell.
Joe Lauria 2:16
Yeah, well, the most important thing to understand is there are no new charges in this superseding time. So there’s a lot of window dressing. There’s a lot of stuff that is in there that is accusing him of this, that and the other thing, none of which are against the law or that he’s not been charged for just a quick example. They just threw in there that Assange helped Edward Snowden escaped from Hong Kong. This is already well known, and that he used diversionary tactics such as booking Snowden on several flights that he wasn’t going on except the one that they had hoped to get them on. Or they did get on get him on from Hong Kong and then they were trying to get him on to Latin America. He was not to stay in Moscow. Why is that in this indictment? The Super ceiling and diamond because the purpose of this superseding indictment appears to be clearly to further smear Julian Assange, right in there with the false rape accusations. Three times Sweden dropped them. He was never charged with rape. Sweden would not come to London to interview him because of pressure from the British Crown Prosecution Service. Yet many people’s minds mostly Democrats, he’s a rapist. And they got he helped. He helped Trump defeat Clinton. So this is more piling on against Assange. It comes after. I don’t know if this is linked. I really don’t but they probably had this thing waiting. But there’s a movement growing in Australia, where I am. There was a 60 minutes program on here 60 minutes CBS 60 minutes. There’s a Australian version of that they interviewed Assange his partner Stella, Maurice, the mother of his two children. And it was an incredibly sympathetic and understanding and factual account of a Sunday situation. Very rare. See in the mainstream media and the next day, the Melbourne city council voted a resolution in favor of Assange asking for him to be brought back to Australia. So this is an attempt to make Assange look to look out look to be as though he were a hacker, not a journalist. This is key to the government, US government’s strategy, because if he’s a journalist, if he did, what the New York Times and The Spiegel and the Guardian did, which partnered with Assange on the very leaks and the various stories that are the subject of his first espionage, indictment, then they’d have to indict The New York Times as well. And the guardian and the Spiegel because Assange is not an American. He’s on foreign soil, because the Espionage Act allows us universality of prosecution.
Scott Horton 4:50
Well, isn’t that funny right there that the Justice Department’s idea is that well, you know, if Wikileaks gave stuff to the New York Times, The New York Times published it of course that’s protected. But well Wikileaks publishing it. No, of course not because they’re a co conspirator rather than a publisher.
Joe Lauria 5:07
Well, exactly, because if he’s not a journalist, and he’s something else, what is he that? Well, they’re trying to make him out to be a hacker. And this is what this superseding indictment tries to reinforce this idea that he worked with hackers. He didn’t pay them to work for him that he instructed them and directed him. It turns out, two of these hackers were FBI informants, which raises the possibility this was a sting operation all along, which led the interior minister of Iceland at the time to prevent a plane load. I don’t know many of FBI agents coming to Iceland to try to convince the Icelandic government to work with them on this thing against Julian Assange. And because he’d worked in Iceland at the time, and he kicked them out the the, the interior minister time that would not allow the FBI to enter the country because he suspected this was going on. Well, this of course, is not spelled out in this superseding a diamond would spell out is how Assange was speaking openly and various hacker conferences, saying this is what Wikileaks would like to have. And could you try to get it for us? Now, Robert Perry, who founded the website that I’m the editor in chief of right now, in December of 2010, wrote an incredibly prescient article, in which he said that every journalist is Julian Assange, because what exactly what Assange is doing is what he did not Bob, of course, was one of the best investigative reporters of this generation having broken the some of the major your unconscious stories such as the identity of Oliver North and his role in that scandal. So Bob was saying that he often worked with sources who he encouraged to give more information, but also even to break the law if necessary, to leak something that could prevent a larger crime from being committed. And that one could say is what happened with the Collateral Murder video Well,
Scott Horton 6:56
and especially by the way, I mean, to break the law in This case means to leak anything. I mean, every one of these employees is bound by, right.
Joe Lauria 7:06
Yeah, including the senior intelligence officials who leaked stuff to the new york times in the Washington. Right.
Scott Horton 7:11
But the point being he’s when you say, when you when you’re quoting Bob telling them to break the law, he’s not saying to hurt anyone or commit any crimes. He’s saying, to break the law, their secrecy agreement has the force of law because they’re government employees, and they could go to prison for leaking. And so that’s what you’re talking about there, just to be clear, right?
Joe Lauria 7:32
Absolutely, just to break their non disclosure agreement that they had signed. And also, in this case, maybe there are two crimes that are being committed because in Bob’s case, it was just speaking to government officials to leak something, which would have been the crime of giving on unauthorized disclosure. But in the Assange case, it’s also asking them to hack to get the material to then give to him. So two crimes, but Assange is never accused of directly being involved in hacking if you read the this proceeding, and Diamond, or the first in diamond, which was a computer intrusion carefully, he’s not accused of really being a hacker. But working with hackers. Okay. That’s journalism, as far as I’m concerned as far as Bob Perry was concerned. So this
Scott Horton 8:13
new superseding indictment for all this stuff, saying two points here, they’re saying that, essentially, what they’re accusing him of doing with lowsec and anonymous here in cajoling them or whatever the term is, working with them, assigning them certain things to get or whatever that level of cooperation, that they’re really not describing the level of cooperation that you would see as fundamentally different in any way, then is already described about him working with Manning and asking man, I sure would like to get this or to get that is that right? And then the second thing is, there’s no new charges here, the wall sec and the anonymous stuff, don’t it’s The same old charges, they’re just essentially adding this on, like the 12 page report on our T on the intelligence report here just to make it look thicker.
Joe Lauria 9:10
Yeah. It’s window dressing as john Kiriakou called it just pad the indictment, the Espionage Act indictment. It’s got huge amounts of paragraphs there about how he endangered the lives of informants. Now, it turns out that Mark Davis, an Australian journalist who was there at the time in the bunker at The Guardian in London, when they were working on this, he finally came out 10 years later, and that was only last year to say that, in fact, it was the other way around that the Guardian editors in New York Times didn’t give really didn’t give much of a damn about naming and formats, but it was Assange that worked overnight from Friday into Saturday to purge as many names as he could. before publication on Monday. Davis also pointed out that the New York Times tried to trick Assange they were supposed to publish first and then this week leaks was going to put Their material on their own website. But in fact, the times were held back and they were trying to get Wikileaks to publish first because they were worried, you see, then the times could make it look like they’re on scoop, but at the same time, weekly said published at first. So I don’t really know if this is true or not, but we suddenly had a technical problem and couldn’t get it up on time. So the times did publish first. But the issue is that I’m making here the point I’m making here is that it is, as far as I know, I’ve not found any statute that makes it illegal to unmask the name of an informant of the government. Certainly from the Valerie plam case, it’s illegal to to uncover the name of a undercover CIA agent. But as far as informants go, there’s no statute that is named in that indictment yesterday, that specifically applies to naming informants. It’s all from the Espionage Act. And I have studied that Espionage Act and there’s nothing in there about revealing names of informants. So let’s say he didn’t really actually name these forms or did something As much as he could to redact them, the whole good part of that first indictment is that he endangered lives. And then there was a study by Professor Robert Gerard General, Robert Carr, they looked into at the Pentagon, they spent a lot of money and time and they discovered zero people who had been killed because of the release of those documents
Scott Horton 11:19
emitted that Manning’s court martial.
Joe Lauria 11:22
They did. That’s exactly right. So that’s window dressing where you just pile stuff into there as a PR operation, which is what indictments often are when you don’t really have solid evidence, and they don’t have solid evidence, the only thing they’ve got they have him on a technicality that he did Yes, possess and disseminate classified information and he wasn’t authorized to do it. But if I if I were you or one of your listeners, retweets or emails a week of the document to someone and that’s still considered classified by the government, they’ve also broken the Espionage Act. That’s how absurdly broad it is. That’s all they really got him on. And that’s not really enough because that can be challenged as unconstitutional. It’s
Scott Horton 12:03
gotten away with processing that, even since the Wilson years ever,
Joe Lauria 12:07
never tried that in Woodrow Wilson’s time they did prosecute journals, but for trying to interfere with the draft, not about possession, dissemination, and FDR tried to do it. And then Nixon tried to do it within the Pentagon Papers case. He actually in power panel, the grand jury in Boston, to go against the New York Times report is written on the Pentagon Papers. But in the last minute, when it was discovered that that Ellsberg office had been bugged, and they had broken into a psychiatrist’s office, the two reporters who hadn’t recruited Schmidt and Neil Sheehan, ask the government have we been up to since you bought Ellsberg phone you probably heard us too. They dropped the case. So when Obama went right up to the line and decided we couldn’t do it, because we’d have to also indict The New York Times because they realized that this this part of the Espionage Act that I just referred to about possession and dissemination, so weak, it goes up against it first, remember that if challenged in a way Supreme Court it could be struck down as unconstitutional now
Scott Horton 13:03
slow down on that. So down on that last part there, Joe. I mean, that’s really important that Barack Obama, who prosecuted more sources for journalists than any other president, all the other presidents combined under the Espionage Act, wanted badly to indict Assange. And his lawyer said, we just can’t or then we’d have to indict James Ryan, who by now because of his Russia truth or ism belongs in prison.
Joe Lauria 13:29
Well, he certainly on the establishment side, in that regard, yes. But that’s exactly what the Obama administration wanted true, but could not the context in which Bob Perry wrote the piece I referred to earlier, that he saw exactly what the gun was trying to do. And so that’s what journalists do. And they tried to pretend that the other journalists that were mainstream journals are safe, but they really can’t get away with it. And that was before the Obama administration pullback and then they did, but here’s the Trump administration, and their famous war with the press and and I think it’s really Really not Trump at all. It’s this is Mike Pompeo, its fingerprints all over this first speech he gave CIA director was to call wiki leaks, a non state hostile intelligence agency. And that’s because vault seven, the largest leak of CIA material had just been released. And this is
Scott Horton 14:15
just absolutely, by the way, a completely made up ridiculous thing that does not exist. It’s not an intelligence agency if it’s not an intelligence agency.
Joe Lauria 14:25
Yeah. Well, what’s the difference between a reporter and an intelligence agent, both of them are seeking information, secret information. If the journalist gets it, he wants to make it public. If the agent if an intelligence agent gets it, he’s going to keep it secret for the state that he works for. That’s the main difference. And they of course, have much more means that journalists can employ to get information bribery, blackmail, threats, etc. And they could also the government could also subpoena people and reporters cannot. So that is exactly what why Assange as a journalist because he made it public.
Scott Horton 14:58
so let me try to nail something down here. For years, you were a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. And I think what Christian Science Monitor too, right?
Joe Lauria 16:31
No, but boston
Scott Horton 16:32
globe? Oh, Boston Globe. I’m sorry. It’s been a while. Um, but and I know you wrote for the times in London as well. And so I mean, can you tell us that specifically, you have told government employees sources in meetings or on the phone? Listen, yes, ob Give me that document. I want to see it. And therefore, you know, essentially in a way that makes you absolutely no different than what Assange is accused of doing here.
Joe Lauria 17:00
I cannot remember, I never worked. I worked as an investigative reporter for the insight team at the Sunday Times of London. And I remember on working on a big 911 piece just months after 911 I don’t remember specifically asking that. But I did speak to people who had classified stuff that may have given it to me. So I mean, I don’t remember saying to them, Look, commit this crime doesn’t matter. But I wasn’t really doing the kind of investigative report about Perry was I must cover the United Nations for 25 years. So I was, and there’s plenty of spooks over there. I could tell you that in New York, but I did not. I did not do it in that way. But Bob Perry was uniquely positioned to make this comment because he did do that and he was able to speak from his own experience having done it numerous times. And he was saying this is what Assange is doing whether you like the guy personally or not you know cares about his personality he he’s he’s doing what reporters have to do. And as Bob said at one point the the rules of the game were always traditional rule was the government. Hi things and the reporter tries to find them. That was the game. But we’re in a different era. Now. We’re in a really ugly time by this indictment amongst all the other horrible things that are going on. But we’ve seen the government of the United States and with collusion or the British government, framing really, and stitching up a reporter, who was not a traditional reporter, the journalism has changed. This is internet journalism. And he didn’t go to Columbia Journalism School, but believe me, you don’t have to go to Columbia Journalism School to be a real good journalist. And he published raw material, but there was analysis. And Assange gave many interviews and wrote articles. He understood what he was reporting. With these documents. He is not some clerk who just got material and then put it out on the internet. He understood the material and they vetted it all and it was all accurate. So he’s certainly a different kind of journalists, but in many ways, a better journalist and a lot of the mainstream people and as john pillages also often pointed out, there’s a bit of jealousy here, of reporters from entry papers would Didn’t get the scoops that Assange did. That’s also an element.
Scott Horton 19:03
Well, not just that they didn’t get the scoops, but that the information that he revealed showed them to be not journalists at all, but wasted their lives being meinem birds for the state, particularly on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Joe Lauria 19:19
Oh, yeah, without question, and Stooges for intelligence agencies to allow themselves to be used to launder disinformation, through the mainstream press, if public is more likely to believe something if it’s reported the New York Times and if the CIA says it directly. So it’s a disgusting role that the mainstream and national security reporters in general play and Assange couldn’t stand these people. And that was one of the reasons why there was such personal conflict between the reporters especially at The Guardian, and the editors at The Guardian and Assange because he didn’t have a lot of spectrum but he knew he needed the big media to amplify what he had found what he had gotten what people had given him. And don’t forget, Chelsea Manning was First the Washington Post and the New York Times with her leaks and they never returned to Kohl’s. So Politico, too. She went to WikiLeaks and political rights, right? Yeah,
Scott Horton 20:08
totally ignored. And imagine that you’re the New York Times. And you got an army. Somebody’s going, man, I got the mother lode of secret level documents for you about all the wars and you just say, no, that’s not the business. We’re in here at The New York Times.
Joe Lauria 20:22
And they wound up having to partner with Wikileaks to publish it. And I think they right ended that. And by the way, downplay it
Scott Horton 20:28
yet. Let me just say real quick if people are just notice if you search it, search for the phrase, as revealed by WikiLeaks documents, or as shown in the State Department cables or something like that, and especially if you add Iraq and Afghan War Logs to your searches, you’ll see there probably 10,000 news stories that have come out of those documents so far, or at least you know, one detail on a news story that well it is confirmed in the WikiLeaks set back in oh nine etc etc. And just this has been the absolute mother lode for Good journalism, truth that the American people and the people the world, as Manning said, then deserve to know. Simple as that. But now I got to give you the last word about Assange his situation locked in a cage like an animal in Great Britain.
Joe Lauria 21:13
Yeah. his extradition hearing as resumption of it isn’t put off till September 7 because of the virus. They don’t have a courtroom yet exactly won’t be in London. And it’s going to go on for three weeks. And that’s when it’s going to probably be determined whether Britain extradite seminar, there’s been a huge effort. 216 doctors have just sent a letter to the Secretary of State for justice in Britain and published a letter in The Lancet, premier British Medical Journal, saying that he needs to be released. He’s in danger of not only COVID but he’s other underlying problems physically that he’s had for years, including a lung ailment. So there’s pressure building, but when it comes down to it, you have to be very optimistic think that they won’t find a way to extradite join us Launched Alexandria, Virginia, in the end of the day, the the great argument that his defense team has is that the treaty between Britain and the United States says that no one could be extradited for a political offense. This clearly a political fence that could demonstrate that in numerous ways, but there was also an act that took place, the British extradition act that came out before that, that does not says nothing about political crime. So they prosecution is trying to rely on the act defense on the treaty. And let’s hope that they make the right decision. But the kind of pressure the United States is bringing to bear on Britain and the British intelligence services have their own interests and getting Assange as well. So this is revenge against the guy who did really good journalism to expose corruption and criminality of the state. But of course, it’s only the enemy states of the US that commit these things. We’re the good guys. I mean, this is what he’s challenging Assange, that we aren’t the good guys and I think people are waking up to a lot of stuff the public if they were given the story By the main media, the mainstream media would be on his side, but they aren’t. It’s distorted because the mainstream media is in the service of the establishment and of the state, as you pointed out. So hopefully, we’ll see something coming out in September. That might be good. It’ll be a great presentation, I think, by the defense, but we have to think that he probably will be extradited to the US, but one never knows. Yeah.
Scott Horton 23:24
Well, it’ll be a great test for whether there’s such a thing as the rule of law in England, or just the rule of men and their politics and their will, like usual, a great test case for that. And I’m certainly very pessimistic, but then again, I actually think there’s half a chance that if it was, well, if he is extradited, he’ll almost certainly be convicted in Virginia, but then I got half a mind that the Supreme Court would spring them loose anyway, at the end of the day, but you know, if he didn’t die in prison by then,
Joe Lauria 23:56
well, if they could get that part of the Espionage Act overturned is unconstant There’s a chance there’s also a chance if you got a jury trial, but he probably won’t get a jury trial, that they can nullify this realizing that this is not a this law is not constitutional itself.
Scott Horton 24:11
He gets a jury trial. It’ll be all government employees in Alexandria, allegedly. So
Joe Lauria 24:15
that’s the problem. Exactly. Exactly.
Scott Horton 24:18
All right. And now I’m sorry, give us one more word about Chelsea Manning, too, because she is sitting in jail for a year on contempt for refusing to testify against Assange, and was only just recently released a couple of months ago after attempting suicide again. So I was wondering, you know, the latest on how Manning is doing here?
Joe Lauria 24:37
No, I don’t, I don’t, but I do know that they didn’t rely on her testimony because she didn’t give any for this superseding indictment. It was a lot of speculation why they were holding it was there going to be another indictment coming out there is but there’s no new charges as we said. So she’s free. And I want to point out
Scott Horton 24:55
extra vengeance and punishment. There’s all at once. Hmm.
Joe Lauria 24:58
Oh, that was definitely part of that. I think Question cuz a lot of people republicans in particular upset with Obama for commuting or sentence but I was in the courtroom and the Willetts Crown Court, which is on the campus of the Belmarsh prison for one of the days of testimony and the lawyers for Assange pointed out something extraordinary that the indictment the first exam, which is repeated in this one, by the way, exactly word for word, it’s most of this is not just a repeat of the of the existing indictments said that Assange had helped her break a crack a password to get into a government computer. First of all, it does say in that indictment that she had legal access to that computer. So it was only to get her to get an administrative password to hide her identity, which is nothing Bob Paris said he did all the time because of course, you have to help hide the identity of your of your anonymous sources that I’ve had a lot of experiences with. But it turned out that the lawyers claim and I don’t think they would in open court if it weren’t if they didn’t have anything to back it up with that. Assange was helping a break this great Get into this computer under an administrative name. So she could download music videos and computer games. Why? Because they’re forbidden for us personnel serving to have you’re not allowed to download music videos and video games. So she that’s all she was doing. It’s absurd think a lot of attention. But that’s repeated again. This is what he was supposed to be doing breaking the law by helping her Yeah, get a password that good get into an administrative under IT administrators name. This a very weak indictment This doesn’t do anything but it does feed those people who are already predisposed against Assange to make them look like a dirty hacker, not a journalist and the undermine the security of the United States, you actually undermine the security of the careers of people in the Pentagon and in the intelligence services, and in the White House, and Congress supported these ugly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And that’s why they Gotta get him. Yep.
Scott Horton 27:01
All right. Well, listen, man, I’m sorry. Gotta let you go here because I got more questions, but we’ll do it again soon. And catch. Okay, maybe we’ll have some good news to report someday here. Hopefully. All right, thank you very much for your time Joe for shopping again. Aren’t you guys that is the great Joe Lauria. He is the editor in chief at consortiumnews.com. And go read this important piece, Assange extradition. Assange hit with new superseding indictment, reflecting possible FBI sting operation. We didn’t focus so much on that angle in this interview, but it’s in there. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Mike Swanson discusses the continuing economic fallout from the coronavirus, focusing in particular on what are sometimes called “zombie companies.” These firms stay afloat largely because of easy money available at low interest rates, even though their business may be fundamentally unsound. Crucially, the government response to the coronavirus has continued to enable this behavior by bailing out firms that would otherwise go bankrupt. Swanson argues that in a healthy environment such firms should be allowed to go bankrupt—a vital feature of any market economy—as would huge sectors of American business that have been kept alive by decades of artificially low interest rates. Scott and Swanson worry about the powder keg created by years of unwise policy by the U.S. government, and about the spark that could be provided in the form of the coronavirus shutdowns.
Discussed on the show:
- “Here’s one more economic problem the government’s response to the virus has unleashed: Zombie firms” (The Washington Post)
- “The Age of Magic Money” (Foreign Affairs)
- Big Debt Crises
- David Stockman’s Contra Corner
Mike Swanson provides investment advice at wallstreetwindow.com and is the author of The War State: The Cold War Origins Of The Military-Industrial Complex And The Power Elite. He also works with the Neopolis Media Group, a group of historians, educators, authors, researchers, and free speech advocates who endeavor to provide original and engaging content, including The Ochelli Effect, and The Lone Gunman Podcast.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. Alright guys on the line I’ve got the great Mike Swanson while he wrote the war state, all about the Truman Eisenhower and Kennedy years there and the rise of the military industrial complex after World War Two. Have you read that man? It’s great. Oh yeah. Also, he’s a former hedge fund manager. Very successful guy on Wall Street and now he gives investment advice at Wall Street window calm. Yes, of course is a sponsor of this show, and has great stuff to say about money issues all the time. Welcome back. How are you doing, Mike?
Mike Swanson 1:14
Oh, I’m doing great. Scott, how are you?
Scott Horton 1:16
I’m doing okay. I’m a little bit worried about the future of the country, to be perfectly honest with you. I think when the washington post is talking, like Mark Thornton, that I should be really worried. And they did. I sent you this piece. I’m sure you probably saw it anyway. The Washington Post says, here’s one more economic problem. The government’s response to the virus has unleashed zombie firms. troubling rise in number of US companies that can’t make enough profit to cover debt payments. So obviously the thesis of the story here is the lockdown, among other things, the virus itself and other economic pressures and whatever have resulted in these massive bankruptcies. But importantly for this issue here is should be bankruptcies would be bankruptcies, but instead these companies are being kept afloat by artificial bank credit expansion. What do you know about that Mike Swanson?
Mike Swanson 2:25
Well, quite a bit, actually.
Scott Horton 2:31
Right now I’m listening.
Mike Swanson 2:32
Well, that does debating what how much I should say. But, okay, the article, it’s a good article. And, you know, I know we’re in a strange moment in the economy and everything we all feel it. In article points out that there’s all these companies Let me see the exact number here because it’s a massive one in five publicly traded US companies they claim as a zombie company, meaning that they have massive debts. And if they weren’t being helped, which the government is now doing, you know, not simply through these stimulus programs, but the Federal Reserve is buying corporate bonds, individual bonds, something that no other central bank has ever done. And these moves keep these companies alive in which if they weren’t happening, they would simply go bankrupt. And the argument in this Post article you sent me is that this can have long term economic costs, because what it’s doing is Miss allocating capital, you know, we’re keeping these zombie companies alive, maybe if they vanished, more efficient companies would take their place, or the money going to them could go to something better and you know, Similar arguments have been made more articulately than I can do by other guests you’ve had such as Bob Murphy in the past or david stockman and so forth. But I think that this is actually almost what the entire economy is at the moment. I mean, this says one out of five but firms, however, I don’t think this is just something happening is the result of the lockdowns and the economic situation we’re in, but is a legacy of the past decade at least, of the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates so low, it creates a bubble in the corporate bond market, of course, the treasury bond market to and when everything went down in March this year, stock market fell over 33%. The most alarming thing is that the bond market froze in essentially locked up in the Federal Reserve announced, oh, endless quantitative easing to prevent that from continuing and they succeeded in preventing the treasury bond market in the corporate bond market from completely collapsing. But the end result is I would suggest is where we are now, which this article is indicative, but I just want to one quick story when I said I know a lot about this. I am very lucky, because in 2008 when the stock market crashed, I made some money as shorting the market, but I didn’t know what to do. That’s it. 2010 11 and I took a large portion of my money and invested it in a real life business. It was a chain of body shops that me and a couple people got started. And I only had an interest in a few of them. And they grew though to almost 20 body shops regionally and last last year they got bought out by a private equity company that paid let’s say, twice what we pay were these people are my partners are paying for these stores. They would run you know, to a city or wherever and buy a body shop that’s already in business from someone who wants to retire. Give them let’s say, three to four times earnings, will we the chain got bought, bought twice that and then within a few months got flipped to an Another company that bought it paid even more. And that company most likely use debt to do all these purchases, and they’re a giant, private equity company. Now, I’ve been told that every single one of their businesses that they now own is losing money, because of, you know, the economy. But the point of this story is that over the past 10 years, these sort of private equity things have been going on all over the country. And the regular stocks you see in the stock market, they have also borrow, you know, massive amounts of money to buy back their stocks and debt is on their balance sheet. So all these problems of huge debt is why the bond market locked up in March in why now we I would say we have a zombie economy sitting in front of us
Scott Horton 7:58
well, and mean this is the thing right? All you Austrians been saying that, boy, we got a big bubble and it’s been 12 years and we’re due for a poppin. And then here comes the virus in the lockdown. Talk about popping a bubble. Now, I don’t know how deep of a depression we’re in. I think the numbers are something like 50 million people unemployed. And that’s according to the way they count him, which must undercount them. I mean, if you’re like hanging and kudos in orbit, and you’re looking down at the United States and our economy, and it’s medium term future here, what are you looking at? How bad is it really?
Mike Swanson 8:39
Well, this is, you know, yeah, I think. So, the official unemployment rate is I believe it’s 14.7%. That was the May unemployment rate. Now. Then, unemployment rate has a little anomaly In it in, in which they’ve doing something strange. There’s a segment of millions of people that they’re claiming are unemployed because they lost their job, then they got it back then they lost it again. And that adds 3% to it. I’m about so just to say it’s around 17%. And I have told people over the years, just friends, that if we ever get to 20% employment, that is when we would start to see protests and social turmoil. And obviously, we’re seeing that or have and when that started happening, I wouldn’t look back and thought, well, baby, by 20% ideas wrong. And actually, during the 1800s, there are several times where unemployment was over 13% and that was considered a depression. And there were, there was social turmoil. For example, In 1877, there’s a giant railroad strike. So 13% unemployment is enough to cause social stress not, you know, you don’t need to be over 20 or up to 30 or something. As far as what’s going to happen with the economy or we’re at when the market stock market was rallying sharply in April in May, there are a lot of people out there, claiming we were going to have a V shaped recovery, meaning that when the economy opened back up, everything would just boom and be back to normal essentially, I didn’t believe that was going to happen. Because I thought, these debt problems were going to just prevent it, basically, and also that the virus itself probably would cause enough people to remain cautious, but more The debt problem is my main concern. However, that seems to now be happening that the boom that we saw for a couple weeks on this reopening, it appears to be running out of steam already. One proxy I’m using is what’s going on in Las Vegas. In the casinos there opened up about six weeks ago and saw a lot of people return the first weekend driving from California and locals, and now they’re reporting in these casinos is that’s all dropped off not just this week. When the news is the virus is now creating more headlines but starting two or three weeks ago just dropped off. And a lot of these high roller people have not returned to the casinos. They’re evidently staying at home and saving their money or whatever they’re doing. And I just think that’s a metaphor for the hill economy. However, I don’t think that means we’re about to see an economic crash, because we already did in March and April, I don’t think, you know, we’re gonna get to 30% or 40% employment in the Federal Reserve itself, they’re claiming that by the end of the year, the economy will shrink 6.5% and then grow 5% next year, that would suggest that the economy’s kind of just gonna be like it is now for the foreseeable future, and we’re just gonna muddle around. I think that’s the most likely scenario. And that also kind of fits into the metaphor of zombie companies, you know, uses economy that just kind of moving around in the dark and not really booming but not getting dramatically worse than it already He is I think that’s really what the story is gonna be for maybe the next year.
Scott Horton 13:06
Or the next year, man. I thought you’re gonna say, yeah, you know, the rest of the decade?
Mike Swanson 13:13
Well, the big question is what happens after that? So there’s an article, I sent you a link to it in, it’s behind a firewall, but it’s in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, the tie in the articles the title of the age of magic money. And it’s, it’s advocating for all these Federal Reserve programs, and more government spending and stimulus. Look, the government spent 1.3 trillion in 2008, or the Fed did as the QE bailout, and I think Obama spent about a trillion in 2009. And now we’re talking multiples of that already that just this year, and the article claims Well, you know, Yeah, the problem would be if this causes the dollar to crash and people to worry about government spending and a debt crisis with the government debt. But that didn’t happen in 2008. It’s not happening now. So therefore, we’re in the age of magic money, and we just got to keep spending the money in the article even says we needed to take advantage of the movement to do more public investments, do things to soften inequality and so forth. But the, I’m not advocating for that. I’m just saying what they’re saying. But the remarkable thing about it is they make an argument at the end that no one can predict when we’ll be able to stop doing this. They say the future I’m reading it when the future is uncertain. It can ditch in contingent, a different kind of prediction seems safe. If inflation does break out, the choice of a handful of individuals are determined whether finance goes over the precipice. And they claim that in the past the Federal Reserve was able to hike interest rates to prevent interest inflation running out of control of Paul Volcker did it in Chester Martin under Harry Truman did it. So there’s seem to be saying we just can keep doing this.
Scott Horton 15:31
And what was the national debt when Paul Volcker did that half a trillion dollars?
Mike Swanson 15:35
Scott Horton 15:38
And the national debt now is, what 28 or something?
Mike Swanson 15:42
Scott Horton 15:45
in other words, if they raise interest rates like that, the national government would be bankrupt immediately because they wouldn’t be able to pay interest on the debt at all. Or they could just abolish the entire military and even that wouldn’t do it. Probably
Mike Swanson 15:59
not it’s This moment. So, I mean, I knew when I talked with you when this all started and I think it was our interview is in April cited this Ray Dalio book big debt crises and that’s the roadmap I think this is heading to and he study it’s like a reference book going through 100 of these things. And basically we
Scott Horton 16:23
say the name and the author again.
Mike Swanson 16:25
Oh, Ray Dalio D-A-I-L-O big debt crises in the show, not everybody. Yeah, the to make a long story short, basically, we’re probably gonna see the economy continued DAC like be like it is. And then when it does truly bottom out, and go up into a once we’re in a growth phase, it’s going to last now Just a simple bounce. That’s when the inflation would start, the dollar will probably go down, and so forth. And that would probably continue for several years. Basically, it’s and we’ve seen that sort of thing happen in other countries, most recently in Turkey over the past couple years. It happened in Russia twice. Russia had a crisis like that. I think in 2016, was basically, the bottom line is you have a lot of inflation for a couple years. Along with economic growth, the currency goes down, and that process inflates away. All these big debt loads as it plays out. And then the Fed can raise rates in, in, go back to, you know, to put us on a more normal path, sort of like the 1970s. That’s kind of what happened then, but this would be a more extreme version of that. But so in my my feeling is we’re in this strange stasis moment, culturally, politically and economically in with the financial markets this year and it’s just something we’re living through and it’s you know, it’s in the economy’s weird. I mean, there’s so many people without jobs, but yet at the same time they’re getting they have gotten stimulus Jacks that help them.
Scott Horton 18:32
Whether it’s 1200 bucks. I mean, that’s in and out. That’s not even half. That’s not even a month’s rent for a lot of people. You know, you can’t get a one bedroom apartment for 1200 bucks in Austin. So Well, yeah. I mean, I guess the $600 for some people getting the unemployment but that’s hardly everybody.
Mike Swanson 18:53
No, it isn’t. So, and I don’t have you know, I wish I had the article you sent me I read stuff like this. I wish I had a solution or
Scott Horton 19:03
so let me play the reserves advocate here. Okay for a second. I think that my community college teachers would have said that a man a soft landing is better than the hardest crash, you know wily coyote at the bottom of the cliff and trying to scrape yourself up from way that held down there is a lot harder. And so yes, this causes these dislocations. It’s almost like flattening the curve of the the peak of the crash, right? So okay, recovery will take longer, but we’re not going to go to the absolute depths of the worst depression. That’s what they would say.
Mike Swanson 19:43
Well, maybe unfortunate, unfortunately. At this point, I think they might be right. You know, but by doing by by having that mentality for since 19, let’s say 91 when they start bailing out Mexico, ACO and these couple other third world countries and then they in 98, they build out a hedge fund. And ever since, you know, they’ve done this over and over again, I would say if they hadn’t been doing this over and over again, we wouldn’t be where we are in an ethic in 2008, that argument was exaggerated, you know, they didn’t have to bail out all these banks, they could have let some of them go under and then let small regional banks that didn’t have these problems, replace them in some way. But now I think the argument may be cracked. And the The reason why is because that 2008 crisis was a wall street bank crisis. But they put all those bad, they put all those bad debts onto the Treasury balance sheet. So now it’s not simply You know, company corporations or banks with the big debts, but the US government itself and when the bond market locked up in March, the treasury bond market locked up. And now, you know, the bond market is destroyed as a rational investment. And I say that because if I go buy a 10 year treasury bond, right now, the yield I get is 0.68. I don’t even make a percent. I don’t make anything Why would I buy that? It’s completely crazy. And that’s rate is there because of what the Federal Reserve is doing. And you know, if they stopped doing that, it’ll probably would crash overnight everything the stock market, the bond market, everything, but the result is we don’t have a real Economics, you know, a free market system of any degree at all, when the Federal Reserve is doing things, you know, is made it so interest rates, not only are too low, but absolutely have no rational investment sense at all. They just don’t. So how do you invest in that environment? You just it’s very difficult to do so. And how do you have a free market economy when the government is bailing out companies at will, without telling you who they’re bailing out? And so, the Federal Reserve is buying debt. Yeah.
Scott Horton 22:47
You know, in our kind of all other things being equal here, we’re not just talking about a regular old crash. We’re talking about this government enforced lockdown that has just decimated certain many sectors of the economy that we’re only I guess, beginning to take the temperature all but I’ll tell you what, though, if, if you speak line graph, then david stockman articles where he reproduces all these charts from the Federal Reserve and so forth, will give you a nightmare Smith
Mike Swanson 25:00
Well, the thing about the economy and one of the reasons I mentioned this personal thing of having you being involved some body shops that got bought the private equity company that owns the now they own they’re one of the largest in the country and they own things such as Planet Fitness. Pabst Blue Ribbon, and I’ve been told, you know, that almost every single one of the companies they own is losing money. So, just, you know, I don’t The thing about the lockdowns in April or early May, I was speaking with someone locally that’s on the board of directors of one of the Bank of a local regional bank. And at the time, I thought the lockdowns would end in July or June. That’s what some of the health officials were saying and articles we’re kind of making a case for that Donald Trump, actually, in some of his first press conferences about this, hinted at that that the lockdowns might end to July and things would return to normal in August. And this person A friend of mine was basically telling me a bunch of stories that implied that they would have to end very soon because of the economic pressures that they were creating.
Scott Horton 26:32
Yeah, I mean, that was why I thought they wouldn’t last even through April or I mean, I thought they’d last through the end of April, I guess was the original chart to for the downside of the curve. And I thought, you know, look big business rules this country and I could see them accepting four weeks mandatory vacation for everybody okay, fine, but they’re not going to tolerate any more than that. And then I was wrong. They put up with a whole extra month in that so and to all of our detriment to obviously.
Mike Swanson 27:02
So if you, if the person, the listener doesn’t like lock downs, I would suggest no matter what happens with the virus, they won’t return. Again the way they did, were here at the start of them.
Scott Horton 27:14
Yep. Now, I said that all along to once you relax them once, you’re not ever gonna be able to do that, again, that was your one shot at it to build more hospital beds or get more ventilators or whatever it was that you need, but you’re not gonna be able to do that, again. It’s a big country 300 million people and if you ever flown on a plane from one end of it to another, or even better yet driven from one side of it to another one coast to the other. It was an empire even before the Spanish American War. It’s humongous. So there’s just it’s unenforceable. It’s just crazy to try without, you know, Chinese level totalitarianism, which we won’t accept. So
Mike Swanson 27:58
So here we are. Yeah.
Scott Horton 28:00
And things are looking bad right now. I mean cases are up up here in Texas. And I think, you know, in my county in my neighborhood, hopefully nothing more specific than that. But uh, anyway, well,
Mike Swanson 28:16
what I’ve been keeping an eye on is not the number of cases because they are doing more testing. So obviously there will be more cases in the data hospitalizations and you know, where I live in Virginia and it’s, we’re doing fine, I would say but North Carolina the hospitals, hospitalizations are going straight up. They’re doing it the same in South Carolina and Florida. And so it’s, it is but you wonder, Is this something that will just move, you know, instead of these big waves up and down and there were three of them, right and the Spanish Flu if instead this will just be like a rolling situation where say it dies out? Where you live in a few weeks and then it appears in Montana or somewhere you know? Yeah Who knows?
Scott Horton 29:07
Yeah, I was hoping that Texas sun would come and murder that so be by now but hadn’t yet but the Texas sun a murder an sob so why not a virus you know?
Mike Swanson 29:19
Scott Horton 29:21
it’s a it’s a thing to behold it’s one of the wonders of the world the Texas sun if that can protect us from a virus what can and I’m so sorry I’m I’m late we got to go Mike but thank you so much for your time again on the show man always great to talk to you.
Mike Swanson 29:35
You too are totally
Scott Horton 29:36
okay guys, check out the great Mike Swanson. He’s at Wall Street window.com WallStreetwindow.com and check out his great book, The War state. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Scott interviews journalist Vincent Bevins about his latest book, The Jakarta Method, in which he lays out some of the history of the U.S. government’s support for violent right-wing coups all over the world. During the Cold War, America backed brutal extremists in Indonesia, Brazil, Chile, Iraq, and elsewhere, who were responsible all told for the deaths of millions of civilians—all in the name of defeating the threat of communism and socialism. Unlike the well-known and well-publicized crimes of left-wing dictators like Pol Pot in Cambodia, almost nobody in the United States today knows much about their government’s role in the coups in places like Indonesia and Brazil. These episodes pose a serious challenge to America’s view of itself as a force for good—in reality, many people the world over have good reason to resent American hegemony.
Discussed on the show:
- The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World
- “How ‘Jakarta’ Became the Codeword for US-backed Mass Killing” (The New York Review of Books)
- Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
- The Bandung Conference concludes
- “The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002)” (IMDb)
- 1964 Brazilian coup d’état
- 1973 Chilean coup d’état
- Operation Condor
- The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World
- Devil’s Game
- Native Son
- “Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon” (Abe Books)
- Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management
Vincent Bevins is an award-winning journalist and correspondent whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Economist, the Guardian, and many others. He is the author of The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World. Follow him on Twitter @Vinncent.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. All right, you guys introducing Vincent Bevins And he wrote about Brazil for the LA Times and Indonesia for The Washington Post. And he’s got this brand new book out the Jakarta method. Washington’s anti communist crusade and the mass murder program that you shaped our world. And unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to read the thing right now. I’m very busy. But I did read this great excerpt adapted from it. At the New York Review of Books, that’s ny books.com. It’s called how Jakarta became the code word for us back mass killing. Welcome back to the show. Vincent, how are you doing?
Vincent Bevins 1:27
Good. How are you?
Scott Horton 1:28
I’m doing great. And yeah, I’m really sorry. I don’t have time to get to the whole book right now. But that’s fine. I really do appreciate the work that you’ve done here. And what an important article, this is here at the New York Review of Books, it’s 5000 words or something definitely worth taking a look at here. And two dirty wars really against the Reds during the Cold War in the 1960s here in Indonesia and in Brazil, and so you kind of Tell the story through the eyes of people who lived through it. And in fact, had traveled from Indonesia and emigrated from Indonesia to Brazil. And so we’re kind of tied up in a way, in both. So if you want to take that angle, that’d be fine. Or if you want to just kind of zoom out and talk a little bit more about the the kind of larger overview of the Cold War and the purpose of it all or whichever angle you want to start with is fine.
Vincent Bevins 2:28
Sure, yeah. In this in this book, I tell the story of the US backed, intentional mass murder of approximately 1 million innocent civilians in Indonesia, and this is one of the most important turning points of the Cold War. Definitely, far more important in Vietnam, I think might have been the greatest quote unquote, victory for Washington, as it perceived its its goals in the Cold War. And this victory was so obvious to allies. of the United States, other right wing regimes potential allies of the United States that they learned from the tactics that were that were employed very horribly in Indonesia. And most famously, in Brazil and Chile, they had the deployment of the word Jakarta to signify mass murder as something that they were going to do to the left in order to make in order to solidify the right wing authoritarian regimes that took shape during the Cold War. And yeah, as you said, to write this book, I I traveled around the world and I met a lot of people that lived through this and I tried to find the people who, who, whose personal stories could really bring home what really happened and how it affected life in all these countries, and I found I found through the research and through meeting these people that in at least 20 countries, US allied regimes carried out intentional mass murderer programs to kill leftist or accused leftist and I think that this was such an important Part of the way that the West won the cold war that ended up shaping the type of globalization that we ended up getting in the early 21st century. And I’m in Sao Paulo now. And I could, I could certainly tell you that we here in Brazil feel the long consequences of the, of the violence of the Cold War. And I think this is true in a lot of countries, especially in the developing world, but also in, in the in the first world as well. The relationship between the rich world and the developing world is is one that has been profoundly shaped by this violence in a way that I think is really been overlooked in the last since the end of the Cold War, partially because these things took place so far from the sort of headline grabbing quagmires that actually involved American civilians like Vietnam, or the sort of embarrassing and explosive Direct confrontations with the Soviet Union like in, in in Cuba, or in Berlin. But for the vast majority of human beings on planet Earth, the Cold War was not about those those small little direct conflicts with between Moscow and Washington, it was between It was about the complex conflicts between the formerly colonized world what used to be called the third world. And at the time, that term was entirely optimistic, it was meant to signify that the peoples of the formerly colonized world would be able to take their place in the world stage. It was the conflict between the third world and the first world I think is the one that is was most important in the in the Cold War. And that is the one that I tried to tell. centering the massacre of Indonesia is one of the most important events because I think it it can be easily considered as important as anything else.
Scott Horton 5:51
Yeah. Well, and as you say, it’s pretty easy to go under the radar when compared to Vietnam, even though Third of the casualties is still a lot compared to, you know, Vietnam was a lot to compare to a million dead. But if it was all by proxy, and it was all by CIA payoffs and briefcases and this kind of thing, then that means that 60 minutes may have covered part of it once or something at most, but this was never, you know, a big deal. In fact, this is part of that documentary about Noam Chomsky, right of Manufacturing Consent, where they take the New York Times column inches that they spent on the auto genocide in Cambodia, and right column inches spent on the auto genocide in Indonesia going on right around the same time, or is already the same time and compare the agenda setting media in which one they want you to care about which one they rather sweep under the rug.
Vincent Bevins 6:53
Yeah, I mean, it’s, I think it’s just a function of the I mean, I’ve spent all of my adult life as a as a correspondent Working for mainstream corporate made in the United States and all of the skills I have as a journalist, for better or worse, come from that experience. But I mean, I know how it works. And I and I know why it would be that narratives which very violently, conflict with our data, our idea of who we are as a country and what the Cold War was just kind of ended up not really fitting. So in the, in the case of Indonesia 1965, there was a brief moment of coverage in the western press and the New York Times, there was a very celebratory column, a basically a euphoric recounting of the way that the largest Communist Party outside of the Soviet Union in China was eliminated in one of the biggest prizes in the Cold War flipped overnight, almost
Scott Horton 7:47
all important. Yeah, as you point out here that the leader in charge was part of the non aligned movement and was not a communist. And so it wasn’t a matter of overthrowing a communist governments as a matter of overthrowing a neutral grip. Government and then destroying a communist party that had not yet achieved power. Right?
Vincent Bevins 8:04
Yes, and this is something that’s very poorly understood I think in in the English language understanding of the Cold War, Sukarno was not only just a member of the non aligned movement, he was one of the founders. He was one of the founding and driving forces between behind this movement to create a path for countries that did not want to align directly with the United States. They were often very skeptical of what the United States is really up to after, you know, hundreds of years under white, white European colonialism watching the way that the United States was acting in other countries. They were very hesitant to join up completely, but they also didn’t want to join up with the Soviet Union. And what is too often excluded from our memory of the Cold War is that starting with the Eisenhower administration, and then basically for the rest of the Cold War, anyone that was neutral that tried to maintain some kind of independence that did not join an explicit alliance with the United States was viewed as potentially a threat and Who’s justified who’s whose violent overthrow could be justified. So the mass murder of the Communist Party, which by the way, should be stressed was an unarmed and very moderate party. I mean, they always believed that you had to develop capitalism in a broad alliance with the rest of Indonesia. And then the maybe you would transition to socialism in 40 or 50 years. The Communist Party was eliminated, not because they were in power, but because they were part of the support base for president Sukarno. And so they had to be killed so that that transition to the US backed dictator Suharto could be carried out right if they had not destroyed the supporters of the left leaning but independent government and terrified all of the family members and friends of those that had been killed. It would have been impossible to actually transition to this very pro Washington very violent and very dictatorial Suharto regime.
Scott Horton 10:00
Yeah, now. So well tell us a little bit about Sukarno and and how the coup took place against him.
Vincent Bevins 10:09
Yeah. So this is Sukarno came up in the anti colonial struggle against the Dutch. So we did Asia, maybe we should just you know, stress is the fourth largest country in the world by population. It consists of the Dutch colonies in Asia, it’s 13,015 thousand or 18,000 Islands depending on the tide, basically, a huge constellation of ethnicities and languages and cultures. And Sukarno came up in the early 20th century in this meal you in which opposition to European colonialism brought everyone together. And the main forces that were united against this colonialism were Marxism, Islam, and anti colonial nationalism. And he kind of brought all these brought all these disparate elements together and forged this kind of national identity which was explicitly anti Imperial. And explicitly about independence from the colonial world. And in the first years of the cold war after him and the independence forces succeeded and expelling the Dutch, the Dutch tried to reconquer from 1945 to 1949. We forget often that the Europeans came back in a lot of cases and tried to get back their colonies just you know, we, the US government helped France to in this attempt, which is why so many people in the region were so skeptical of us, intentions, the region. And in the beginning of the Cold War, Sukarno was seen as somebody that could be dealt with by the Washington, foreign policy establishment was seen as somebody that was sufficiently anti communist, he was at least keeping the communists in check. And he made it very clear that he wanted to have good relations with the United States, which he really did. Now, two things happen in the 1950s, which cause the people in Washington to change their mind. Number one, the Indonesian Communist Party keeps doing better, better, better and veteran elections. And we know now from declassified files and From CIA reports that it was understood in Washington that the reason they were doing better and better was because they were popular and they were doing effective outreach to the people in the countryside in the cities. It was it was not a trick. It was not coercion. They were just winning. And this really alarmed people in Washington. And number two, Sukarno brought together the countries of the Third World at something called the afro Asian conference, or the bond Doom conference in 1955. And this was this explicit attempt to forge an alliance between all the countries of the formerly colonized world to create a path that was independent of the United States and the Soviet Union. And even though they tried very hard at this conference, to make it clear that to the United States that they wanted to maintain a friendship they even invoked the legacy of Paul Revere at the conference to sort of tried to appeal to this revolutionary history in the United States to say like, Hey, we’re doing what you did. You know, we’re, we just want to be our own country, just like you wanted to be free of the British that Didn’t matter. The success of the Communist Party and Soekarno is very loud, anti colonial anti Imperial posture caused the CIA to unleash a number of attempts to destroy his government or to crush the left or to even break apart Indonesia. And it was only in 1965, that the third attempt finally succeeded the third, the third and final attempt to crush the left involved mass murder. But first they tried just paying just giving money to the right wing Muslim parties. They tried that in the middle of the 50s. That didn’t work. In 1958, the CIA started bombing the country in what was the CIA’s largest ever operated operation to that point. So again, this is very forgotten. But in 5758, the CIA backed rebels out on the outer islands quote, unquote, so in there were sort of regional, there are regions of Indonesia are trying to break off or stand up to the central government and the CIA just started bombing the country and killings. civilians. And an American pilot was caught in 1958, a man named Alan Pope. And so this was the second attempt which totally failed. And then the US reorganized recalibrated to instead of fight directly the Indonesian army to train them into cryo to create a sort of anti communist pro American ideological hegemony within the armed forces. And by 1965 as Sukarno has picked another fight with the West, which is seen as a the last straw and a clash erupts between the the unarmed Communist Party and the very well armed armed forces in 1965. The State Department and clandestine services CIA and in my sex although we still don’t know exactly what CIA and am I am I six did, they very enthusiastically back the army as they violently crush this on armed, very popular Communist Party, probably 25 30% of the country was somehow affiliated. And they were so easy to kill precisely because they were a non violent party. And in a matter of six to 12 months, they’re entirely eliminated. Not a single American is hurt. And the largest country in Southeast Asia is flipped from a vocal, anti imperialist nation that is trying to unite the brown of blind peoples of the world into a reliable ally of the United States. And as you say, for the rest of the Cold War, whatever Suharto is doing gets a pass from Washington in 1975. They invade East Timor on the pretense of anti communism and kill approximately a third of that country which is larger percentage of the population than Pol Pot killed in in in Cambodia. And as you rightly point out, we all know about Pol Pot but very few people know about Suharto or the fact that he was on our side.
Scott Horton 16:23
And so when you say the CIA was bombed in place, I mean, this is what the original version of air america kind of deniable airlines, or Yeah, so you’re using the Air Force planes in there. What kind of airstrikes we took.
Vincent Bevins 17:06
They were taken out from Singapore, they were American pilots. And they were they were dropping bombs on on Indonesian islands. I don’t know. I mean, that’s that’s a good question. I have it in my notes, but, like, whose planes they were? I’m not sure. But it was it was not. It was not like, it was not the kind of more sophisticated deniability that you got later in the Cold War, where you had, you know, you made sure that there was no American pilots getting caught, you know, there was a guy named Alan Pope who was caught, he crashed landed in the island of Cuba on bone with his identifying papers on him. And this was seen as proof to the forces within Indonesia, specially on the left that had been saying for from 1945 to 1958. We can’t trust the Americans, they want to destroy our country. These people were proved right. So that’s the This moment in Tunisia moves closer to the Soviet Union, but still never never allies with the communist bloc. Sukarno always insists on independence. But this was a actual aerial bombardment with several American pilots. You could read, you could read them sort of their their memoirs talking about this bragging about this saying, you know, I killed a lot of people, but they were communist, so that’s fine. And this was based on what they had done in Guatemala in 1954. They were trying to replicate the success they had had in Guatemala before and
Scott Horton 18:37
Vincent Bevins 18:38
Yeah, I mean, they were this was a huge, you know, the CIA when the CIA was first created. Right after world war two ended. They struggled for years to actually crack the Soviet bloc, right? They they sent people parachuting into Eastern Europe, all these people were captured. They were they were totally ineffective at actually taking on the communist world. But when they don’t turn to the quarter, Third World they had quote unquote, success. So in Iran and x 53, Guatemala 1954. This was seen as the Eisenhower administration as like, Oh, we cracked the code, we can flip countries to our side with no, with no cost. And in Indonesia, this failed, and it failed very obviously. So they ended up in entirely changing tactics, bringing thousands of Indonesian military officers to train in Kansas, and one of the main characters in my book, and I end up dedicating the book to him because he passed away. Last year, he was also brought to Kansas to study economics. So he, he recounts what it was like to sort of go out in Kansas in the 50s. Drinking with these Indonesian officers going to strip clubs and sort of recounting what he believes they were actually brought to America for. And he says that they were brought to America so that it can be kind of paid to be to become loyal anticommunist allies. When the mass murder program starts to have the people that are most responsible for really putting it into practice on the ground, both studied in Kansas in the 1950s.
Scott Horton 20:11
Now, in your article, you brought up the name David Rockefeller. And I was wondering if you could be more specific about Chase Manhattan Bank interests in Indonesia at the time. Is this all tied up with the Golden West Papa, or is there more to it than that?
Vincent Bevins 20:28
Yeah, so the so the Golden West Papa was found after immediately after us a corporate interest sort of stream into Indonesia. So I think what you might be referring to, are you so the Rockefellers are involved in in different ways and all in the major coups that take place in the book, so in Brazil, she lays certainly in an Indian age, I believe, will happens is, I mentioned that the Rockefellers stream in as part of this major business conference that takes place in Jakarta as 1 million innocent. Indonesians are still held in concentration camps. So they killed proxy 1 million people, another millionaire, are held in anti left concentration camps for over a decade. While this is happening, all of the big companies in the United from the United States streaming to have sort of business conferences celebrating that Indonesia is open for Western capitalism. Now, the gold issue is very interesting, but that’s discovered after what was very important to us officials and to US corporations in the during the moment of the actual mass murder, and it’s gonna sound like a cliche, but it’s the same thing with oil, right. So even while the killings were happening, the United States government was able to put effective pressure on general Suharto to make sure that Indonesian oil, the Indonesian oil industry would be would remain open to foreign investment and not be nationalized, as was the the initial plan.
Scott Horton 22:12
And now, I wanted to ask you about, really the first thing I ever learned about this was from Christopher Hitchens movie the trials of Henry Kissinger back in the 1990s, where he talked about during the Ford administration, this same exact kind of thing happened again and again, with a green light from the US to the Indonesian right to crack down. Maybe that was over East Timor –
Vincent Bevins 22:37
East Timor is tea is tea market. Exactly. So it’s like, if you the book, the book tries to tell in a very concise and accessible way the the history of the whole Cold War, but you know, sort of it says what what if you told the history of the Cold War, but with Indonesian massacre as the central event, and what if you told the story of the cold war with the people that live Through this violence in Brazil and Chile and Indonesia as the main characters of the Cold War. And doing that, it becomes very clear that there’s no there’s no president that is not involved in or responsible for some really horrible stuff. So the second half of the 70s when you have four Ford and Jimmy Carter, this is the period when Suharto carries out the invasion of and mass murder of approximately one third of these team or then then Vietnam, invades Cambodia to liberate that country from the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Jimmy Carter agrees with China that China should invade Vietnam to punish them for this invasion is forgotten because it was such a failure. But then after that, the United States takes the side of the Khmer Rouge and for the rest of the Cold War. So the United States at that points become at that point becomes a defender of the Khmer Rouge right to represent Cambodia.
Scott Horton 24:02
That’s right. For Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, for the first time you ever learned that it’s a lot of fun. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan both back to Pol Pot didn’t they?
Vincent Bevins 24:12
Yeah, yeah. I mean from it there was this brief moment when absolutely from 1975 to 1979. A quote unquote communist regime was carrying out terrible atrocities, although the actual communists in the in the countries nearby didn’t. Once they found out what was really happening, they, you know, stormed into Stop it. Of course, they have their own reasons, but it was this brief period when absolutely yes, we were not on the side of the the Cambodian Khmer Rouge regime from 75 to 79 when they carried out these horrible, horrible human rights abuses are much worse than that, that we all know about. But what we don’t people don’t realize is that things before that were very bad in Cambodia when, because in Cambodia 1970 the United States backed a coup of princey how nuke who had who was at Sukarno last figure in that he was trying to maintain independence and neutrality, but this was very, very difficult with the Vietnam War happening on his border. The South Vietnamese government tried to kill him, the CIA tried to overthrow him. He was loudly proclaiming that the CIA was trying to kill him and everybody called him while conspiracy theorists, but it turned out he was totally right. So in 1970, the US did back a coup in Cambodia and installed lawn Knoll. And the period in which he was running Cambodia and the United States was bombing the countryside was horrible. So 1970 to 75 was horrible. And then after Pol Pot actually leaves then we, you know, or the US government insists that the Khmer Rouge is the legitimate representative of Cambodia at the United Nations, and keeps sort of a small contingent of them active on the Thai border, kind of in a way trying to contest Vietnamese control over that country. So In this region, like it’s a it’s very hard to look at the United States and be like, Oh, well, that was the that was the point when they were good here. There’s not there’s no like little gap where things were where the US behaved in a in a way that was that would correspond to the ideals that we profess.
Scott Horton 26:20
Yeah, I mean, this was never about good versus evil. It was just about who had the dominance. There’s a great clip of Eisenhower saying, Now listen, if the Reds get control and Vietnam, we might have to pay the market price for tungsten. And that’s just intolerable. I mean, this kind of thing. cynical calculations about, you know, pennies on the dollar for minerals. I mean, what if we’d had to buy tungsten from the Reds all along? Think of all the money we would have saved instead of trying to steal it and killing 3 million people.
Vincent Bevins 26:55
You mean, there’s a quote from George Kennan, which might be interesting for me to read George Kennan, were the architects of the Cold War 1948. He says, and I quote, We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in this coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. So basically saying, like, we have weight we have we run the world’s economy, and obviously, this isn’t fair. So we have to figure a way to crush opposition to the situation. And, you know, I when I moved to Southeast Asian 2017, like, you know, these people understand this, you know, they understand the relationship between the white world in the and these parts of Asia, you know, they had hundreds of years of direct colonial domination and if you ask a lot of people now they’ll say no, you know, the United States took over and they occupied a position which was very similar. You want to call it Neo colonial, you want to call it you know, Violent hegemony, whatever, whatever is the vocabulary that you use. It’s very, they understood what was happening.
Scott Horton 28:08
Yeah, of course, it’s a demo belie that the American people’s standard of living depends on this imperialism. That’s not right. The American government’s position of dominance over other governments and their ability to pull the strings for Favorite corporations like say, Rockefeller interests in Indonesia, for example. No question about that. But, you know, it’s sort of like cops hiding behind racism for their brutality. You know what I mean? Oh, yeah. No, the American people, how would they ever feed their children? If we weren’t butchering Indonesians? You know, you might as well say that we’re dependent on the face of Saturn in the sky. There’s no correlation there whatsoever.
Vincent Bevins 28:52
Yeah, so like, I made that point at the very end of the book. Like I compare, I look, you know, how because I still you know, I spent a lot of time meeting these people in in from Indonesia, especially but South America and around the world and one of the most moving things. And one of the most tragic moments of this research was when when I would ask them about their political lives and their political beliefs in the 50s and 60s. And when they would explain to me what they believed then that the world would be like now, like, you could see their their eyes light up, and they were just kind of like this world that they believed that they were going to get once direct Imperial control ended. They, they thought that they were going to take their place alongside the rich Western world. And at the end of the book, I look at how in a very concrete and quantifiable way this did not happen at all. Almost no country, no large country in the quote unquote, third world that actually caught up with the rich world since 1945. And so what I make the point at the very end of the book that as, as an as a country, as a nation, Unit, the United States benefited from this dynamic. But that doesn’t mean that the average person did it means that certain sectors of the US did. And those are the sectors which have the most control over over the government. It’s not enough to be radical to recognize that powerful economic interests have more control over the US government then, you know, marginalized communities are in you know, or you know, just
Scott Horton 30:28
just the average Joe. Yeah,
Vincent Bevins 30:29
yeah, half of the country, right.
Scott Horton 31:07
So take us over to the Brazil side of this because I think you know what I’m going to tell you a story that I only just thought of I’m glad I did. I hadn’t thought of this in a while. But I know a guy. I knew a guy a long time ago on my first radio show Free Radio Austin 1998 1999. And I saw this guy again in 2001 or two or somewhere around there. And he told me the story of his September 11. And what it happened was he was down in Brazil. I don’t remember if it was in Rio, or in Sao Paulo, one of the other and it was like a scene out of one of those 1950s movies or something where people would gather on the sidewalk outside the department store window to watch the TV news of breaking news. You know what I mean? You see the scenes. It was just like that. September 11, the towers are burning. And all the people are gathered around on the sidewalk watching it burn. And he was there with them. And he said they were all not celebrating, you know, like whooping or clapping or anything like that. But they were doing that thing where it’s like that little fist pump where you kind of hold your fist close to your chest and go, yeah, yeah. And they were all gone. Yeah. And he was like, What the hell? What did America ever do to Brazil? How could these people sit there and say, now you know what it feels like? And they’re not Iraqi. So we’ve been bombing from bases in Saudi Arabia for 10 years, the Brazilians and of course, the answer is America done a hell of a lot to them. But nothing of the American people have any idea about Vinson?
Vincent Bevins 33:52
Yeah, it’s not. I mean, this is the really the big contradiction because you know, when people are well, how do we not know about this? What’s like, you know, if you’re going Have a government which is hegemonic or imperialist are somehow involved in almost the affairs of almost every country in the world. It’s very difficult to have that in democracy at the same time, right? Because the average American has a lot going on in their own lives. How are they supposed to keep track of what it is that the US government is doing in 180 countries? Right. I mean, there’s, there’s limited amounts of attention that we can give to US foreign policy, but it’s it’s basically happening everywhere. And it’s really interesting that you bring up September 11, because September 11, is the day that the CIA eventually succeeded in overthrowing Salvador Allende and installing Augusto Pinochet. Right. So September 11 1973, is the day in which the Jakarta method was implemented in Chile. So maybe I’ll just explain how Jakarta came to South America and what that actually meant in the early 70s. So the US us backed coup in 1964 in Brazil was probably as I as I claim that the Indonesian mass murder was the most quote on the Most important, quote unquote success in in Asia. I think that Brazil 1964 was the most important success in the Western Hemisphere, precisely because it was. It was more subtle there was there was no need for a obvious and catastrophic intervention. There was a long collaboration between the US government in the Brazilian military, the Brazilian military largely did it on their own, the US government made military equipment available to the Brazilian military ended up not needing it. They got the they got sufficient support, among them, the the officers here and among the elite to carry out the coup on their own. Then in 1970, Salvador Allende is elected President of Chile. And now what we know, again from declassified files for from this period is that what the Nixon administration was afraid of in Chile was not that he would take the country down some sort of a Stalinist path and Implement rampant authoritarianism that would starve the people. They were very specifically, then they were very clear about this. They were, they were afraid that salvadorian days, democratic socialism would succeed, and by succeeding serve as a inspiration to the other peoples of South America, they, they were terrified that if they if I end a prove that you could have socialism and democracy, then the game would be up, then everybody would want to do this, there’d be no way to maintain hegemony in, in Latin America. So in 1970, before he ended, even takes power, the US starts backing right wing terrorism. And the first major result of this terrorism is that the leader of the Canadian Armed Forces is kidnapped and murdered. And the reason he was kidnapped is because he was opposed to a Chilean coup. So he was seen as an obstacle to the in the eyes of the right in the United States a necessary step of stop Being ind from taking president even though he even had hadn’t even had the chance to make a single mistake. Renee Schneider, this military leader was killed. This is probably an accident. But the terrorism started before and even gets to gets gets into office. But he does get into office the first, the first attempts to stop them fail. And as I end is running Chile right wing terrorists begin to graffiti, the walls of Santiago, the Capitol, and they would write the message Jakarta is coming, or just Jakarta. And they would send postcards to members of the government or leftists or supporters of Salvador Allende that would say, Jakarta is coming or Jakarta. And what this meant, and it was clear if you were paying attention to the global Cold War at this point in history, was we’re going to kill you just like they killed them. In Indonesia. And this was terrifying and I met a lot of the people in Chile lived through this that were threatened by this It was terrorism, right? The idea was to send the message that you’re going to die if you don’t give us what we want. Even if we get what we want, we’re probably going to kill you anyways. And in September 11 1973, Pinochet eventually succeeds in overthrowing the end government with the act of support of the CIA, of course. And on September 11 1973, Jakarta does come the message that had been sent years before was true. They killed the people that were seen as a threat to the consolidation of right wing authoritarianism in Chile. Now, they didn’t kill nearly as many people because they didn’t have to, and they were proud of the the ways in which they were, say surgical about the killings. They thought that they could be efficient in in killing only a few thousand. And it works right. So just as the United States, let Indonesia totally get away with this To the US played defense for, for Chile. Now in Brazil, you also had something called Operation Jakarta that was discussed in the exact same period among the right wing Brazilian military. Now, we’re not sure if this was actually an official formal title for an operation if it was just sort of a thing that was thrown around in the barracks as a threat as a plan, but ended up not happening right. And there’s reasons in Brazil that the church and human rights movements react to the murder of a very famous journalist Vladimir Hertzog in ways which probably stopped them from carrying out operate operations record if it was ever a real operation, but still in 1975. These two us backed right wing authoritarian regimes come together to form Operation Condor, which is a international mass murder network. So just as Pinochet had taken out as internal enemies in 1973 and just as Brazil had killed the people that it needed to take care of in order to consolidate power in the late 60s and early 70s, they the countries of the Southern Southern Cone most of which by now were us backed right wing authoritarian regimes realized, Oh, well, what happens if one of our quote unquote enemies gets away they get across the border and so they formed Operation Condor, which is a collaboration to kill enemies of the regimes wherever they may be. And this is not like gorillas, right. So Pinochet killed his former boss, right in Britain, Sarris, he was the penis he killed Carlos krotz, who was the head of another head of the Chilean military that was morally and and and politically against the idea of a coup. And Operation Condor countries killed 10s of thousands of people and in the years that came and again, just as in Indonesia, they got away with this to the extent that the United States said anything about this, they came to their defense. And it works, right like the consolidation of crony capitalism, in the least in in, you know, in like, it’s the opposite of the free market. Right. It’s, it’s like it’s the kind of market that is imposed upon you by, you know, a violent dictatorship. Absolutely. Right. This is, is the type of capitalism that is still in place in the vast majority of the developing world, I think,
Scott Horton 41:31
right now. So I think people are probably more familiar with the coup in Chile and the CIA’s involvement there. But can you tell us the direct CIA involvement in the regime change in Brazil?
Vincent Bevins 41:45
Yeah, so drug Goulart takes over in the beginning of the 1960s. This was kind of a mistake. He was only elected as Vice President, but then the actual president resigns thinking that the people are going to like Sweep into the streets are so like take to the streets and sweep them back into power. This doesn’t happen. So it ends up with drug Goulart, a left wing president that does that is not seen as acceptable by the Brazilian elite. Now in 1962 john F. Kennedy has a meeting with his ambassador to Brazil. And you can listen to the recording of that meeting when john F. Kennedy tells him to prepare the ground for military coup, if it’s needed to basically tell the Brazilian military that you know, this is something you can look into. And if it turns out that you think it’s necessary if it turns out that fighting communism, quote unquote, is going to take this path. We’re going to have your back. This of course happens they step up covert operations in Brazil. We don’t know exactly what that meant. But the the explicit support for the Brazilian military and the explicit message which is if you need to find a way to get rid of this president, go for it. This happened from 1960 to 1960. Now JFK also sends in Vernon Walters as his military attache to Brazil. And in the beginning of 1964, we now have declassified files that Indic that indicate that the US foreign policy establishment is coalescing around a an option as a replacement for SRA Goulart and that is a military officer called general Umberto Castello Bronco. Now, General Humberto Castillo Bronco is probably known to Brazilians as the first dictatorship, or as the first dictator to take power in the coup of 1964. What is very often overlooked by history is this this Gen Umberto customer Bronco is the former roommate of Vernon Walters, that military attache that JFK sent in they had lived together in Italy back in the 40s. So although the actual coup happens in in and it’s important to recognize how Important this was for its long term success. The coup is carried out by Brazilian military. Something called Operation brother Sam, if you if you Google that you can see the the declassified authorization of the supply of naval force to the Brazilian military. But that’s not needed. The Brazilian military carries us out on its own. And part of the reason it’s so successful is because the actual president Goulart thinks that this is going to be temporary. He thinks it’s this dictatorships going to just last a couple years and he’s going to be able to run for president again or that because the democracy will be reconsolidated Of course this doesn’t happen. So it is. For this reason, I think the most successful and long lasting intervention in the Western Hemisphere in the 20th century and Brazil becomes one of a very, not only compliant but enthusiastic anti communists. partner in South America. So they ended up actively intervening and interfering in Bolivia, Uruguay, and then eventually Chile to make sure that other social democratic or left leaning or just basically mean the elites. Were just afraid of democracy. Right. I mean, one of the worst things that is well, Goulart was proposing was voting rights reform in a way that, you know, is very familiar to what’s happening in the United States at the exact same period, he was trying to extend the vote to black Brazilians who were excluded from democracy by literacy laws, right. And the elites recognize that this would have entirely changed the the the dynamic of politics in South American in Brazil’s us backed dictatorship from 1964 to 1973. Four or five is actively intervening in the smaller countries around here to make sure that they also become us back anti communist dictatorships.
Scott Horton 46:02
And in Brazil, how many people were rounded up and killed or lit up and or killed? I guess two different questions.
Vincent Bevins 46:07
They’re way less than in the neighboring countries. So if you can, if you if you count that disappeared, the actual people, the people that in Brazilian cities were identifiably taken prisoner and never got back out. It’s around 400. Now, if you want to expand that number to all of the indigenous people that my hip they have been killed very far from the media, the numbers a lot higher. But the number of actual murders carried out intentionally by the Brazilian military is very small compared to say Argentina, where there’s 10s of thousands, Chile where there’s 3000, all of Operation Condor. So this, all of the countries that form part of this this coalition in South America kill maybe 70 to 90,000 people in in the 70s and 80s. Then there is a direct line from this up into Central America. And because when Central America becomes the next, quote unquote problem area for us hegemony when left leaning reformist starts to take power and then they are killed. And then that leads to the left reforming into guerrilla groups in Central America. Operation contour Brazil are military officers come into Central America to train right wing death squads in Central America. And the worst violence in the Western Hemisphere in the Cold War happens in Guatemala where 200 to 250,000 innocent people were executed for being quote unquote communist often just for being indigenous because the indigenous depending on your tribe were seen as inherently in a in a very racist way. They were sort of that tribe was marked as communist right like, oh, that tribe is opposed to The type of market that we want to impose on them so they need to be eliminated. 220 50,000, Guatemala and B 70,000. In El Salvador, of course, the the Contra war is more famous and in
Scott Horton 48:14
Guatemala, I mean that the civil war there lasted for, what? 20 or 30 years or something.
Vincent Bevins 48:19
Now it lasted from Well, we, the United States overthrew hookah bargains in 1954. Things were a mess from then until 2000. The Cold War The the actual civil wars, the actual Civil War started in 1960s. And so went on for at least 30 years, and that the Civil War was, you know, in Guatemala, the long consequences of the 1954 CIA coup. Were catastrophic until until basically the beginning of the 21st century. And if anybody knows anybody who talks from Guatemala has some kind of a story of, of the way in which this affected their lives. And you know, we talked about earlier like You know, in the CIA saw this as opponents a good success and 54. And this is very tragic and awful. But by the end of the 50s, they realized, Oh, this didn’t actually work so well. We need to come up with more subtle and more lasting ways to exercise in Germany, but in the actual Civil War started in 1860. And this is often forgotten. The proximate cause, I mean, the real deep causes for the Civil War was that there was a dictatorship with absolutely no popular support. But the proximate cause for the beginning of the of the Civil War in 1960, was that the Cuban exiles that were training for the Bay of Pigs were being trained in Guatemala, and their presence on Guatemalan soil really upset the Guatemalan military because the actual dictator was taking all the money. And these Cubans were sort of throwing their weight around in a way which was insulting to the Guatemalans. And they didn’t they didn’t agree with the use of Guatemalan soil for the training of Bay of Pigs forces. And this was the beginning of the rebellion against the the Guatemalan dictator. This was the spark that set off the fire that raged for 30 years.
Scott Horton 50:12
I see. So in other words, that’s what really made it a civil war was a split inside the military, not just the government versus the Indians. But right the on the Indian side there were some with power too.
Vincent Bevins 50:25
So the first in Guatemala, the first rebel group was former military officers that were left compared to the the the leader of the country. So they split off in 1960 and formed a guerrilla group that was opposed to the dictatorship. And then you had successive waves of guerrilla groups in Guatemala that were trying to knock off the dictatorship that was controlling things in Guatemala City. Now, in the late 70s. You had the rise of a new dictator, sorry, a new guerrilla group that was inspired By the tactics of Mao and their and their job was to try to get the indigenous on their side. And although this didn’t quite work, the fact that they even tried to do so that that the fact that they even went into the indigenous areas and said, Hey, we’re fighting for you. We want you to support us that lead the indigenous to be marked for extermination by the central government.
Scott Horton 51:24
So in my book, so it shows that they weren’t already with the communists in the first place if the commies coming to them asking for support.
Vincent Bevins 51:32
Oh, no, they had very I mean, I in my book at the end of the, the, towards the end, I spent a lot of time in Guatemala in one of these communities that was totally desecrated and two things really pop out the first is that they do these guerrillas came and they were like, Oh, yeah, we’re gonna fight for you. Are you on our side? And they were kind of like, I don’t know like, Well, you know, they they treated them with like the basic politeness and hospitality that they would treat anybody that was not an enemy, right. But then that was that that was enough to mark them for extermination. And they but they didn’t really understand exactly what this guerrilla group was all about, except for the you know, they were against the government. And number two, these communities in Central America and the one that I visited in, in the highlands of Guatemala are still decimated to this day. And the only source of income, that the village that I visited has, is they send their kids to sneak into the United States and learn Spanish because they don’t even know they have to learn Spanish in the United States because they don’t speak Spanish in these parts of the Guatemalan Highlands to send back there, a little bit of money to rebuild these communities, which were devastated by the US back military in the 1980s.
Scott Horton 52:47
Yeah, man. All right now, I’m curious, do you have a chapter in your book about the Baathists in Iraq and the CIA helping them hunt down and murder all their leftists and academics to
Vincent Bevins 52:59
yes to do so. Great,
Scott Horton 53:00
that’s it, man, I gotta get this book.
Vincent Bevins 53:03
Oh, yeah, it’s, I hope you do, and I hope other people do as well. So the the Indonesian massacre ranks in 65 minutes and 66 is, we believe, to the best of our knowledge, the third time that the United States or the CIA hand over lists of communists so that local partners can have them executed. So the first is in 1954. In Guatemala, the ambassador to Guatemala orders the new Guatemalan government to kill very specific communists. And then in 1963, you have the bath coup, which is backed very likely. We don’t know to what extent it was planned or backed, but certainly had the support of the CIA by the by the time everything was done, and in 1963. We believe that the CIA did hand over lists of quote unquote communists for the basketball. Ready to execute. Now I interviewed an Iraqi who lived through this who was in the Iraqi Communist Party and I was in London he was forced out of the country by the the invasion in 2003. And, and he said that Saddam Hussein in 1963 had a reputation for being one of the most brutal and ruthless of the tortures and murders carrying out this anti communist purge. In the bath party so again, this is again it’s it’s it’s often very forgot it’s often forgotten but in the middle of the 20th century, the largest communist parties in the world outside of you know, in the in the in the quote unquote third world or in the in the bond, Doom nations. Were the number one the Indonesian Communist Party number two, the Iraqi Communist Party, and number three, the Sudanese Communist Party. All three of these communist parties were literally exterminated through mass murder. And, you know, this was a party that really had a lot of influence in in in Iraq. I mean, the the idea is often held in post 911 in the United States and after 911, that the Middle East is a sort of a rabidly religious and conservative place would have been completely on, recognizable to people who live through the 50s and 60s and 70s, where the where the the Muslim left was very powerful.
Scott Horton 55:22
And America and Britain back the Muslim Brotherhood and any kind of as long as they could as long as they would oppose socialism and nationalism.
Vincent Bevins 55:31
Yeah, this was a huge a huge part of the the US Yeah, us support for Muslim parties, if not Islamic states. You know, the most famous, of course, is in Afghanistan. But you had this throughout all of the Arab world. So Nasser was a sort of a left leaning leader of Egypt, which should I, you know, was part of this constellation of left leaning anti imperialist Not communist, but you know. And you know, opposed to conservative Islam. Sukarno is probably the most important and famous example of the example of this. Sukarno was a Muslim and you know, in one sense, but he was absolutely not a conservative. And and then this is also very important to understand the rise of us support for Saudi Arabia and for the influence of Wahhabi Islam as a strand of Islam in general. And DJ Pasha does a really good job in his book, The darker nations of showing how the all the money and resources that were pumped into Wahhabi ism we’re at we’re at kind of an anti bond Doom, a desperate attempt to counter the bond Doom idea of third worlds left leaning identity.
Scott Horton 56:55
Yeah, Robert drives his book devils game is also really great on the inside. Cold War history of us support for Islamic parties Shia and Sunni and Wahhabi and whatever you got as long as they’re not nationalists or leftists,
Vincent Bevins 57:10
yeah. And in in Indonesia, this was I said the first attempt that the US This was the first US attempt to stop the rise of left in in Asia. To keep Sukarno down and to stop the rise of the Communist Party was that they pumped all this money into this party called masumi, which was a right wing, conservative Muslim party. And at the bond Doom conference, an American named Richard Wright who wrote native son, he was a he’s an important black author in the middle of the 20th century. He talked to these conservative Muslims in Indonesia being like, Oh, so what do you you know, how do you understand your alliance with the United States and, and these are the guys that are getting CIA money and they’re saying, Look, they don’t understand who we are. They’re not really Really our friends, they tell him something like, if the only basis for a partnership is that we’re the the people that they can pick that are not communists. That’s not the that’s not the basis for a long term friendship and even us, even those even we who are receiving direct funding are not trustful of what Washington is really doing here. It’s it’s they all they’re doing is finding somebody to oppose their enemies rather than understanding the country well enough to develop it in a positive way.
Scott Horton 58:30
What are you worried about some stirred up Muslims, man, what what harm could they be?
Vincent Bevins 58:35
Yeah, exactly. You know, and, you know, arguably, you know, yeah, I mean, scholars of the Cold War, often step back and saying, you know, the Soviet Union failed a sort of structural role in US foreign policy, the second half of the 20th century. And, lo and behold, must, you know, radical Islam or terrorism’s falls right back into that exact same role and you know, States ends up treating, quote unquote terrorism the same way that it treated quote unquote, communism the second half of the 20th century or anything that kind of even smelled a little bit like communists had no human rights. And this is, you know, this led to the, you know, the the mass murder in 6566 and seven in in Asia and then after 911 anybody that could even be cut halfway considered somehow a terrorist or the kind of Muslim that could be a terrorist didn’t have human rights either.
Scott Horton 59:26
Right? Yeah. And, of course, the stirred up Muslims, quote, paraphrase there, that’s a big new Brzezinski who would help launch the project to support the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the Carter years talking about Yeah, but who cares about that compared to the fall of the Soviet Union? Yeah. 98 so it was before 911 but it was after Khobar Towers and the Africa embassies.
Vincent Bevins 59:49
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s, yeah, yeah.
Scott Horton 59:53
And he was still saying, Come on, truck bomb here, truck bomb there. How does that compare to what we were trying to do? You Yeah, I always thought when Gary Johnson had his Aleppo moment on morning, Joe, that instead of saying what’s Aleppo, he should have said, well see it all started when your father embarked on this project, Mika back in 1979, and just taken the argument from there, but
Vincent Bevins 1:00:17
yeah, yeah, it’s
Scott Horton 1:00:19
been one for the ages.
Vincent Bevins 1:00:21
Yeah, it’s just, you know, it’s just I mean, that’s it’s that’s the blowback thesis, right? Is it always you know, you can’t if you just throw support behind anybody, that’s not enemy number one. Once enemy number one is gone, there’s gonna be enemy number two and just it’s another it’s an unending cycle, right? You always you’re always going to be and you’re generating the countervailing forces that ended up being the next big enemy forever. No,
Scott Horton 1:00:45
hey, there was a big knife attack in Britain by a Libyan national who I hadn’t seen the details yet, but I bet you dollars to doughnuts he’s tied to the Libyan Islamic fighting group, just like the Manchester attacker used to the CIA. EMI six, you know, they try to use these guys. I’m sure you wrote about this. They tried to use Li fg against qaddafi back in the 90s and then call that off and make qaddafi an ally. And then they went ahead and sided with the terrorists against them again.
Vincent Bevins 1:01:15
Yeah. Yeah. You don’t hear about Libya too much. For some reason. These days.
Scott Horton 1:01:20
Yeah. Blow the opportunity that we gave them is what Hillary Clinton said.
Vincent Bevins 1:01:25
Oh, yeah, right. No, I was. I was I started in London in that little period where you said that qaddafi was a was an ally because I was studying at the London School of Economics and so was his son. His son was a like,
Scott Horton 1:01:41
which one say
Vincent Bevins 1:01:42
I don’t know. It’s a good question. Okay. I know that it was he was famous around campus for not he wouldn’t come he would send a note taker but it was like I think that ended up being that the mean don’t quote me will now look it up. But I believe that the head of the school and its world economics had to step down because of the Lynx took it off you when when could you switch back to being a bad guy. Anyone that had sort of been friendly with the family in that brief interlude, had to had to sort of take a hit for it.
Scott Horton 1:02:09
Amazing stuff. And then, yeah, I mean with the Manchester attack or it turned out that his family was directly tied to the Libyan Islamic fighting group and EMI six efforts and after their, you know, temporary Alliance, earlier on the first phase of it, they’d been resettled in Manchester. And then when 2011 broke out, they went ahead, EMI six rounded all these guys up and send them off to fight. And then it was actually Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, had given the Manchester bomber a ride back to England, from North Africa. I think he had stopped in Syria where he was a moderate rebel for a time brought him back to England for a bunch of little children at a rock concert.
Vincent Bevins 1:02:51
I remember the moderate rebels. That was a big thing to the quote unquote, moderate rebels in Syria. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, yeah, all you had to do to be to be Boehner was was to be a ray of on desktop editor he had to be to be an enemy of our enemy for now. And you know, if you were, I’m sure if they were to have succeeded and taken over then they would have had become the enemy again. And just
Scott Horton 1:03:11
now and again in favor of the Islamised against the secularists which say whatever you want about the Baathists, but they protect all the different religious minorities and ethnic minorities. And yeah, we don’t want to go back in time to some previous century unlike, you know, the leaders of on this right.
Vincent Bevins 1:03:30
Yeah, this is I mean, just just like this is a truism that somehow we forget over and over in US foreign policy, just because something’s bad doesn’t mean it can’t get worse. Right. So the leadership of Saddam was saying, however awful, it was like, you can always make it worse. There’s no reason to believe that just like throwing Western money and military power around is going to automatically lead from bad to good. It could lead from bad to very, very bad.
Scott Horton 1:03:57
Yeah. You know, I never could find this in the Google anymore, but I did see it on TV where a Republican Congressman, I don’t remember the name or the channel, but it was a cable TV news channel. And and he was being interviewed about and was taking the McCain position on the intervention in Syria. And they asked the smart question. Okay, so if we do overthrow the Baathist government there in Damascus, then what’s going to happen after that? Who’s going to take power after that? And what second look like? And he says, Well, we just have to hope that someone comes to the fore.
Vincent Bevins 1:04:32
Scott Horton 1:04:33
And then does it for like, What a weird old fashioned way to say, I have no idea. How dare you ask me that question.
Vincent Bevins 1:04:43
I think I think it’s kind of deeply embedded in our, in our sort of consciousness, this sort of not hanging over is the wrong word, because it’s the opposite of the hangover. But like, the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was just the idea that like, Oh, yeah, if you just like get rid of the bad thing, then the good thing happens in the case. If he’s Germany, that is actually what happened, right? Like, you just you had Western when you come in and say, okay, use Germany, you’re going to join our country and, and the fall of the Soviet Union is very specific and very well publicized chapter of the Cold War, something did come to the fore, right. But in the vast majority of the world, if you just destroy something that exists, there is not a magical process that generates a better thing. You know, if you have a car, that doesn’t work that well, but you shoot it with a bazooka, there’s not a magically generated better car that comes out of the process. And But somehow, I think we believe that all you know, in Venice, I mean, I lived in Venezuela at the beginning of my journalism career. And over the years, the government has been either, you know, a little bit bad or very bad. But again, that doesn’t mean that just sort of throwing stuff at it and destroying it will lead to something better could lead to a civil war, it could lead to a very horrible, you know, record could lead to just a decade of this kind of stalemate that we have until now. Yeah, it’s a strange It’s a strange pathology, we have to the anytime you want oppose an intervention, you said what do you mean you like that government? It’s like No, I just think that it’s not necessarily going to get better if you throw us power at it.
Scott Horton 1:06:14
Sure. Well, of course got no right whatsoever. In fact, even under the constitutional law, the national government is bound and it’s kind of vague, that they are bound to guarantee a republican form of government to every state in the Union, which I guess means that if the Reds took over New Mexico, then the federal government would claim the constitutional authority to go in there and make sure they have a bicameral legislature an independent judiciary or something. Okay, fine. But then, by stark relief, that proves that they don’t have anything like the right to do that to any state in the world. Just members of the Union who signed on to this constitution.
Vincent Bevins 1:06:52
Right, right. Right.
Scott Horton 1:06:54
So But anyway, never mind that like the Constitution has anything to do with anything but anyway,
Vincent Bevins 1:06:59
now Yeah. Foreign Policy tends to be an extra legal space. Right? I mean, international law to the extent that it exists, can be usually avoided when the powerful when the interests are powerful enough, but domestically, it’s a little different. But internationally, it’s you could usually find a way to do whatever you want.
Scott Horton 1:07:17
Yeah. All right. Well, listen. Again, this is such an important article alone here. Never mind even the book, NewYorkbooks.com No, sorry. NYBooks.com. How Jakarta became the code word for us back to mass killing. How do you like that? New York Review of Books. And then the brand new book out is the Jakarta method. Washington’s anti communist crusade and the mass murder program that shaped our world. Thanks very much for your time again, Vince, appreciate it.
Vincent Bevins 1:07:51
Thanks for having me.
Scott Horton 1:07:53
Vincent Bevins 1:07:54
Sure, what I was saying is that in in the Cold War, there were actual socialist movements like it And it was there were actual communist movements like you had an Indonesian. But in a lot of the cases, the communist brush was used to paint governments which were just trying to implement capitalism for the first time in in these nations. So for example, in Guatemala, Huckle barman’s, what he was trying to do was implement a land reform, which would end futile control of Guatemala and allow it to be developed, allow the for the forces of the market to develop capitalism for the first time. And this is what he said he wanted to do. And he wasn’t lying. This is what he wanted to do. The reason that this was a big problem for the United States is because the United Fruit Company controlled the vast majority of land in Guatemala, and they had been lying about how much the land was worth. So when he tried to compensate that company for their, for the land reform, it the amount they were going to get was nothing compared to what was actually worth because they were lying about it and Iran, what they wanted was to have Iranian control of oil and like yeah, in in a lot of cases. It was the transition from Imperial or colonial feudalism to capitalism.
Scott Horton 1:09:08
Right? It was, you know, it was they were just declaring independence. Right? They were not really a leftist regime. And by the way, you know, Murray rothbard and Sheldon Richmond and all the great libertarians are supportive of land reform when it’s, you know, ancient Imperial edicts from the king of Spain or whoever that granted these land titles to these feudal lords. When, you know, we’re john Lockeians it’s the people who work that land that own that land.
Vincent Bevins 1:09:37
And the really interesting thing is that if you look at the countries where the United States really wanted capitalism to take off, Japan and South Korea, land reform did take place under the aegis of the United States in the first years of, of the Cold War. So when countries that were seen as sort of outside or a threat to us hegemony tried to do But the South Koreans or the or the, or what we had done really in Japan and South Korea that was seen as quote unquote, communism. And all it was was really, as you say, transferring this feudal control of land in Latin America and Asia to a modern market economy. And in Brazil, this was this was, I mentioned, voting rights for black people. The other thing that really horrified the Brazilian elites was that john Goulart wanted to carry out land reform. And to this day, I mean, this is something I’ve, in other words,
Scott Horton 1:10:32
property rights for black people was the problem that the American government was right was intervening to help solve.
Vincent Bevins 1:10:41
Yeah, full citizenship, full, full liberal citizenship, the control, you know, like modern capitalist property rights, rather than feudal property rights and voting for everyone. And like I, you know, I’ve lived through this and very tragic ways like the Amazon is still under futile control. Like I had a contact that used to To work in Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency that took me on tours of the Amazon and showed me exactly who destroyed it. And for what reason. I mean, I stayed in contact with him afterwards after as I left the country, and then he was killed, they his his plane was blew up it was was exploded in the Amazon. So like you we still have futile control over much of South America. And this was what was stopped by the quote unquote, anti communist crusade as well.
Scott Horton 1:11:27
And you know, what, let me bring up the Rockefellers again, because, I mean, this is, especially in time at the 60s and 70s. This is the heyday of David Rockefeller and the Chase Manhattan Bank, and their global interest, and they really weren’t getting dirty work done everywhere. And I know that in and, you know, Nelson Rockefeller and other members of the family as well, but that they had these very strong alliances with the Catholic Church and with all these right wing governments, and for a variety of interests, not just oil, but agriculture and all kinds of different things. And I wonder if have sort of a comment on that particular, you know, line of argument here.
Vincent Bevins 1:12:05
I think it’s I mean, I just I just think it’s right. I mean, so. Rob. Yeah. So David Rockefeller was part of this first big business conference that I told you about that took place in Indonesia, as a million people were still in concentration camps purely for their political beliefs. And he gave the final speech at this sort of, you know, a thought or whatever it was the Hilton Jakarta or something, some sort of fancy dinner for American businessmen. And he, he surveys what’s happening in Indonesia, and he said, I’ve talked to a good many people over the course the last couple days, and I have found universal enthusiasm. And, you know, that’s enthusiasm for the creation for the system that was created by, you know, just, you know, months previously, rounding up a million people stabbing them, throwing them into the river, to the point where a third of the countries too terrified to ever talk about what happened and to this day, and he was Encouraged by by the opportunities that are provided to, to him and other US businessmen.
Scott Horton 1:13:07
Yeah. And then and you know, there’s this book that will be done by Colby and I think Bennett that’s about the alliance between the Chase Bank and other Rockefeller interest in The Catholic Church throughout Latin America. Although I gotta admit, it’s been about 20 years since I looked at the thing. But I wonder if you know much about that.
Vincent Bevins 1:13:31
I know I don’t I don’t go into this deeply in, in Brazil. But I know that the Rockefellers were quite active in the, in the run up to the 1964 coup, and then certainly, and she lays so
Scott Horton 1:13:43
right. And people can read about that in trilateralism by Holly Sklar, makes all the direct connections there to the chilla coup.
Vincent Bevins 1:13:52
And then in July, so I worked with a researcher in Santiago to really trace where this quote unquote Jakarta metaphor came from. And we found the first articles that ever spoke about the deployment of quote unquote, Jakarta during this terror campaign in 1972. And in one of the articles we found, they said that playing Jakarta, quote, unquote, had been handed to the in the Chilean military by David Rockefeller. So we don’t know if that’s true, but we know that that’s what the Chilean left was claiming at the time. So the people that were being terrorized by the Jakarta by the St. Paul Jakarta graffiti campaign, believed at the time that David Rockefeller had given that plan to the Pinochet thesis.
Scott Horton 1:14:38
Yeah, I’ll tell you what, man I sure am behind on my history of Latin American intervention. And I sure do need to catch up and this looks like a great place to start. So once again, really appreciate it Vincent. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Pete Quinones talks about his new project, The Monopoly on Violence, a documentary featuring interviews with many prominent figures in the libertarian and anarchist movements. The film explores the history of both statism and anarchism, explaining the nature of government as the only entity with a monopoly on the legal use of force, and advocates alternatives to this barbaric system. You can watch now on YouTube, and soon the documentary will be available on Amazon and Netflix.
Discussed on the show:
- “The Monopoly On Violence” (YouTube)
- Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States
- The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia
- The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism 2nd edition by David D. Friedman (1989) Paperback
Pete Quinones is managing editor of the Libertarian Institute and hosts the Free Man Beyond the Wall podcast. He is the author of Freedom Through Memedom: The 31-Day Guide to Waking Up to Liberty and is co-producing the documentary, The Monopoly On Violence.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, shall welcome and Scott Horton show. I am the director of the libertarian Institute editorial director of anti war calm, author of the book fool’s errand, time to end the war in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at scotthorton.org dot org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed full archive is also email@example.com slash Scott Horton show. Aren’t you guys on the line? I’ve got Pete Quinones. And he is the managing editor of the libertarian Institute. He also put out the books that kids are not all right. And freedom through mean dumb and he is one of the producers of this new documentary. I think you’ll really like It’s called the monopoly on violence. Welcome back to the show Pete How you doing?
Pete Quinones 1:07
Good to be with you, Scott and doing well.
Scott Horton 1:09
Pete I don’t think you’ve written any blog entries about the movie or articles kind of explaining debuting the movie for the institute since it came out.
Pete Quinones 1:19
What I’m waiting to do is the version of it that we put on YouTube has some has some flaws in it, audio level here and there. But it was just one of those things where everything that was happening in the world with the riots and everything we were just like, let’s get this out there and see what people think we’ve only had like 10 people, including yourself, say anything about you know what was in it, and you know, and or audio levels, or maybe a vocal gets clipped somewhere. So what out I was gonna wait until we’re prepping it. Now to upload to Amazon and when you upload it to Amazon, it has to be perfect. So that’s what we’re doing right now we’re re recording a couple of the narration parts. And then we’re going to send it to a guy who is going to professional audio guy who is going to level everything out the sound is going to be perfect. And then that’s what I was gonna start talking about it on the inside.
Scott Horton 2:21
Okay, so it’s, it’s open. The store is open now, but it’s the grand opening is coming up here, and that’s when we’re going to make a real big deal about it. Okay.
Pete Quinones 2:30
Yeah, that that. That’s actually a really good analogy.
Scott Horton 2:34
All right, good. Yeah. So let me read a little bit here from the description on YouTube. It says, This is our crowdfunded documentary about anarchism in the state, featuring interviews with James C. Scott, David Friedman, Michael humor. Scott Horton M. Stephan Kinsella, Max borders, Thaddeus Russell, Tom woods, Walter. Block ron paul Joseph Salerno How do you say is it made Tori mastery mastery? Judge Napolitano, Bob Murphy, Mark Thornton Ryan McMakin. Oh my goodness it’s all of my friends and people that I look up to and other people to a great group of libertarians and then it goes on to when you say many more you really mean it. It is quite a list of people who are featured in here. And so yeah, it’s great as almost an overview of who are the libertarians at this time in history and what’s their position on things he knows there’s a it’s a good sort of thermometer I guess of of our entire movement in one way. But there’s a point to it all. And so why don’t you take us through it a little bit. I mean, not step by step by step but just kind of overall dramatically. What Isn’t that you’re trying to do here? What is it that you succeeded in putting together here?
Pete Quinones 4:05
Well, I’ve been calling myself an anarchist for a long time, and especially in the current climate. When you say that you’re an anarchist, people think that you’re throwing bricks through Starbucks Windows, or, you know, you’re trying to set yourself up as a warlord in Seattle or something like that. And we just wanted to show people, the classical schools of anarchism And now, we have a section where we go back 3000 years and talk about thinkers who talked about anarchism talked about no rulers, we bring it up to the present day talk about some people in the colonies who had anarchist thoughts then when you start getting into the 1800s is when you really start you start getting into production and Bakun in and Benjamin Tucker people like that and then up into the 20th century with, obviously rothbard and yeah, everyone, when we talk about left anarchism, we talk about right anarchism, we talk about anarchism without adjectives, even max Turner who was, you know, like a individualist anarchists. We just wanted to present people with the alternative view the scholarly view of anarchism, where you’re watching a documentary, and the people who are being interviewed are professors, and lawyers, and people who wrote books on foreign policy to see that. Now these aren’t like lunatic looking, you know, Black Bloc wearing masks anarchists. Now, these are people who are deadly serious, who believe that the free market can not only cover toilet paper and food Backing cover security and even national security. That was our goal. It was to just give people an overview of what we believe. And I think as of an hour ago, we had, we’re almost at 54,000 views on YouTube in almost three weeks now. So people are watching it. A lot of people have said they’ve watched it two or three times and they send it to their parents, they send it to their family and say, you know, all that crazy stuff that I’m always talking about, well, these people can tell the story a whole lot better than I can. And, yeah, it’s working out pretty good so far.
Scott Horton 6:42
Yeah, that’s great. Man. You know, I always said that. Not that I practice what I preach here, but I always thought that the Lew Rockwell approach of saying, the most radical thing, the honest truth, but stating it in a very radical way, but with that, very Calm and professional, professorial economists type monotone voice that goes with the bow tie and everything that of course, Harry Truman was a terrible monster. And you know, and it’s just it’s just sounds so true when he says it, you just know it’s true when he says it that this guy that people revere, there’s nothing to revere there. And it starts with an Of course, which goes a long way. And it’s just the tone of voice and the mannerism and everything behind it. And also, it’s true about Truman, the butcher of Asia, as a sort of Neale Hurston call them. But that’s absolutely the right approach, you know, for getting this kind of thing of crosses. You know, Allen Bach, I think, was in my very first interview that I did on the weekend interview show in 2003, where I asked Alan box Are you anarchist or what? And he goes, Yeah, you know, kind of waver. I’m right on the line, sort of, but Jesus, pretty clear to me who it is that really causes the most violence in society. And it’s those who say that they’re here to protect us, you know, and you can’t get a more sober and professional individual than Alan Bach. You know, he’s no bomb thrower. He’s just a truth teller. And so, I don’t know if I fit in your documentary very well, in that sense. But surely, most of the people that you interview do and I think, you know, they do get that point across, in again, that Ron Paul he in way that here’s license for you to go ahead and take a radical position because it comes from someone who’s very moderate and serious in their tone.
Pete Quinones 8:53
Yeah, and it wasn’t only anarchism that we talked about. We talked about many anarchism and Dr. Pol talked about secession. And, you know, he even stated he said, Yeah, I lean more towards secession being the peaceful kind, which when you hear him say that it’s like, well, maybe he may believe in, in violence secession if it has to come to that everything and that’s not what an anarchist would talk about. But Dr. Pol, so it doesn’t call himself an anarchist. But we had sections where we were going to talk about the solutions that some people believe that there were solutions through the state, and just being able to really have those people up there who, you know, like Bob Murphy, I mean, you look at Bob Murphy, and you just, you don’t see Oh, that guy’s obviously an anarchist and everything. I mean, he just looks like a professor. And it’s
Scott Horton 10:00
No, and the substance is there, too. It’s not like we’re sitting here just trying with a gimmick, trying to pull a wool over somebody’s eyes or something. And these guys are talking some real substance about, you know, history and, you know, the kind of definitional sort of conceptual framework that everyone else just takes for granted and doesn’t even really consider about where do these government’s come from, and why do we put up with them anyway? And so, yeah, it ain’t just the tone. It’s the real science they’re dropping to throughout this thing.
Yeah. And we had jamesy Scott, who wrote the book against the grain in the book, The Art of not being governed, and he is a he teaches at Yale anthropology and we knew that we wanted to get him actually flew back across the country to get the interview with him because one of my producers moved to Oregon in the middle of all this. He had to come go across the Country twice. In order to get him on, we tried to get David graeber, who is an anthropologist, but sort of more of on the left side. But we had him nailed down and then some things happened and just communication stopped. But you know, having somebody like James Scott, who basically covers the first seven, eight minutes of the movie, I mean, this is a, this is an 80 year old man, and 80 year old professor who’s talking about the history of the states and is talking about how well how do we know? How do you know when a state starts becoming totalitarian and overbearing? Well, they start instituting, instituting taxes on a regular basis. And when you hear that coming from someone like someone like him, it’s just, it’s mind blowing, you know, to just to realize that, wait a minute, there are people out there who are serious people who teach at Yale who believe that society can function without a monopoly on force and violence. And that was really, that that’s the message of the whole movie is the fact that the state is a monopoly on force and violence, and that we can do better. Right? And the society can do better than me this way. Yeah. And I think it came out really well, because like I said, it’s pretty much we’ve had a couple people say, you know, they didn’t like it and everything like that, but I mean, it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna happen. I mean, it’s an hour and 45 minutes.
3000 likes 36 dislikes on YouTube right now. So that’s not so bad of a ratio. I don’t think
that’s a pretty good. That’s actually an excellent ratio for YouTube. But the I have
a major complaint here though. Where’s Sheldon Richmond?
Well, I mean, we’ll have to go get Sheldon Richmond. And you know, in our Saw and everything and we just ran out of money. We mean, there were people that we wanted to get in Southern California, and we just ran out of money. So, I mean, we have 30 people in the documentary right now. I think the only person that I would have taken money out of my pocket if he would have said yes to get Chris to go and fly and record would have been Chomsky. But Chomsky said, No,
or Bob Higgs, man. Well,
he I asked him to come on my podcast, and he says, Sorry, I’m retired. Yeah. Well, let’s ask him for a very
long time. He wouldn’t do interviews at all. And then for a very long time after that, my show was the only show that he would do. Because everybody else was so lousy at interviewing him, he thought, and then now he won’t even do my show anymore, either. So
Pete Quinones 13:49
yeah, he says, I miss the
Scott Horton 13:52
guy. I mean, he’s really the very best one of us, I think, but
Oh, yeah. He’s the maybe the greatest celebrity Living libertarian right now, but a lot of people will argue, who wants to start arguing over that?
Yeah. Well, you know, I’m right now I’m working on editing Shelton’s book, his new one. It’s a collection of essays that he’s written over the years. It’s called what social animals owe to each other. And, man, it’s great. It’s so great. You know,
it’s so underrated
libertarianism and human nature and economics and natural rights and it’s everything that you’d want it to be man, so good.
So underrated. Sheldon is such a great thinker.
Yeah. So chapter two will be an interview of Sheldon Richmond, a monopoly on violence part two, Sheldon and Bob Higgs.
Pete Quinones 14:47
Well, the way we’ve done it the way we’ve done it is this with this vast overview, so now we’re going to start breaking it down into subjects that are in the movie, so Sorry that
Scott Horton 15:00
my part sucks, man, I really wish I’d done a better job.
Pete Quinones 15:04
Scott Horton 15:05
I, I really know now what I would have said instead, you know what I mean, if I had had a better idea of where I fit in the movie and what I was supposed to what part I was supposed to play there, could I at least I wrapped it up well at the end with so therefore they suck and we don’t need him or something. So it was it ended along the theme of what you were saying, but it could have been constructed so much better. So yeah, sorry.
Well, you also have to remember, this is the first documentary we’ve done. So we’re putting together questions for different people. And we know that there are certain subjects that we have to hit. But really, we’re just rookies at this. So when you watch the whole thing, and you watch it in its totality, and you see how everything was framed, how it was set up from the beginning, and how it progress aggresses through, then, you know, that’s Chris, who is a rookie director and rookie editor. Just take, you know, taking the transcripts of the interviews and look into what questions we asked and saying, Okay, this is how we’re going to do it. I mean, that the original transcript that I got was three hours long. Now we had to, we had to chop that up and there was a whole, I mean, there was one whole section on one subject that just hit the floor, and it just, we took it right out of there.
So one whole subject of what I hit the floor
was the subject it was on argumentation ethics. So yeah, you have natural, you know, some people argue natural law and then hapa came up with this argumentation ethics, and then we just decided, we’re not going to really hit natural law or argumentation ethics, we’ll just concentrate on certain subjects. So we had that whole sub, and that’ll be on the bonus features for the blu ray and I think we’re gonna upload a whole bunch of bonus features to Amazon, too. So, yeah, the Um, but yeah, I mean, it’s, I mean, we’re rookies at this. So, you know, I read Chris looked at everything that you did your whole interview and he’s like, Okay, this this part works perfectly with
definitely should have cut the rest of that he did cut I agree with that much.
Well, the what? And that is available right now on YouTube. Your whole interview is actually up on YouTube.
Oh, the whole thing is, yeah, well, it must be severely edited. It was totally unusable and just raw form. I know you didn’t post that.
Well, yeah. Chris edited at all and everything.
Oh, I hope it’s severely edited. Even for the long version. Don’t tell me it’s just on edited.
Pete Quinones 17:41
Oh, no, no, I mean, he
Scott Horton 17:44
just one thing I remember too was it was a Friday. It was like the end of the day on a Friday. And I had done like 10 interviews and was completely wasted out of it by then. was terrible. I was terrible. And it was I know exactly what would have said, I don’t see it on here. Thank goodness, it’s not there yet. But I know what I would have said I would have set it up a lot better about how they just like with all government programs on national security, they have an incentive to fail and create crises, because they’re the only ones who can solve the crisis they created because of their monopoly and that kind of thing. And then, for example, look at the way they did this, this and that, and then what I what I did say about the war on terrorism, there would have fit, but it just would have been a lot better if I had introduced it as a case study in how government fails upwards. You know what I mean? I didn’t really introduce it that way, or frame it that way until I just at the very end, I said, and so that’s why we don’t need them, which was like, pulling my parachute at the very last second so that it wasn’t completely meaningless. Anyway, I hope everybody likes that part a lot.
Yeah, well, I mean, Daniel did a I think Daniel did a good lead in for you. Yeah, that that a lot. I think the whole section on foreign policy, starting with Salerno and then I think it went into Klein, then it’s a Daniel and then you finished it up. I think that whole section worked out very well.
So I will as soon as I’m done interviewing you here, I’ll watch this and cringe myself to death. How terrible I was. And
there was one section of me in the documentary that I had them take out because I was cringing so hard on myself. I was like, Alright, take this out, because I really can’t get rid of that. I can’t I can’t look at that. I
i embarrassed really easy for an extrovert, man. I just it is what it is. But so anyway, Hey, you know what? As bad as it was, and as kind of tangential and all over the places it was, at least I’m always right about everything. It’s not like I was screwing up myself. Details over which terrorists Obama was backing in Syria or whatever it was all right, it was just not constructed Well, for the purpose it was serving to my liking, but anyway, but I don’t want to sit here and talk bad about the movie other than my own self, because there’s so much great stuff in there and so many great libertarians with so much great stuff to say in there. So, back on the optimistic and positive note, why don’t you tell me about some more of your favorite interviews that you guys got for this thing?
Pete Quinones 20:31
Well, Judge Napolitano was we had no idea that we could actually interview him. Most of these interviews were done at Lisa’s University, because I knew that that was the one place that we could get because everybody’s going to be there that week. So we set up over there for like four days recording, and every Mrs. University judge nap is there. So one day I’m just like, man, we got to get a judge nap in this If we can, so he hasn’t, they give him an office when he’s there, went down to the office said, Hey, we’re doing a documentary and when asked me some questions about the founding, will you come down? And he’s like, I need a half hour and there’s this. There’s this just gonna conflict with Fox at all. It will compete with Fox. And I’m like, No, not at all. It’s like, Sure. So we got him in there. And it was awesome. There’s we didn’t use it, but there’s a great he does a great take on waco in there. And there’s a great part that he talks about the Articles of Confederation. And but which didn’t. These are things that didn’t make it into it. That’ll be in the bonus features and everything. So judge nap of course was amazing. I think Jeff diced is fantastic in every part. I mean, he’s, he may be in it more than anyone else as far as runtime goes and Everything he just nailed and his first appearance in it where he’s just talking about how absurd it is government is where they’re like the judges have their own criminality. So they not only have monopoly on force and violence, but then they get to judge themselves on it. And that was great. And our buddy Dave Smith, Dave, just so good. Present so well, just so smooth, and he just nailed everything. We released the full footage of our interview with him. And I watched the full interview footage and we used more than half, but we used almost all of it that he had. And so, you know, Dave talking about Minar schism is great. And then Dave also does this thing where he he quotes Tom woods where Tom Woods has this thing of talking about how absurd public schooling is and he’s like, so you go to school and there’s, you know, the schools are sponsored by Walmart and all and you go into the classroom and all the pictures of the CEOs of Walmart are on the wall. And there’s all these tales about it. Why? Oh, the first CEO of Walmart never told a lie and everything like that. And then he was like, then you have a whole he says, you have a whole society that favors Walmart. And it’s like, well, why? That’s because kids are being propagandize from the time they can talk. And it was just such in Dave just nails it, you know, I mean, I hate the fact that I just did like the whole thing. But you know, he presented so much better than I did. But yeah, Jeff diced and Dave Smith. I mean, they just really nailed it and Ryan McMakin, right having right, Ryan McMakin, we weren’t even scheduled to interview him. I just asked him to come up there, because he was at niece’s University and his son, can you sit and answer some questions and I just took questions. From the I was asking other people, and we ended up using his answers because it also when you’re doing a documentary, the way somebody talks that they talk in a really good cadence, and they talks, they talk fast, a little a little fast. It helps keeping the documentary going. Yeah. You know, somebody who talks slower, it’s gonna, you know, it’ll, it’ll drag and they’ll just be a little bit of bring it down a little bit and take the take the energy out of it a little bit. So, yeah, those guys. They did fantastic. I mean, they, they really just nailed their parts and couldn’t be happier and Peter Klein to Peter Klein talking about the importance of the entrepreneur in society that was just he just nailed that. So well. Peter Klein’s another guy who’s like, made for documentaries, where he just talks about Just fast enough, and he’s quick, and he doesn’t pause a lot. Yeah. And, and our buddy Mark Thornton, too. I mean, every I mean, really? I mean, I can’t say enough about just how well everybody did. And how they answered the questions and how just yeah, it’s just like I could really couldn’t be happier with it.
Scott Horton 25:28
Man, you’re gonna have to get some kind of post production special effects on my hairline here. This is just an atrocity. It’s like the war in Somalia or something. My my hair. Just Sorry, I know yours is way worse. But still, that doesn’t mean that. Hey, no, it’s just I’m watching this and I’m just thinking, My God. Everyone watching this must be thinking, what a terrible hairline this poor bastard has the whole time and not even hear a word. I’m saying. And then I know I do have it on mute. That’s probably why But no, still. They will. They’ll mute it. And then they’ll just look at my hairline and be like, God, that guy should just shave his head and give it up and stop trying to pretend.
Yeah, you’re, well, they definitely are now that they’re listening. That’s exactly what they’re gonna do, man.
Anyway, I don’t care about anything else. But that, that really gets me now I’m just gonna
anyway. Um, no, it is great other than the the me parts I hope you don’t publish the whole interview anywhere. But otherwise it is so great. And you know you have David Friedman in there too, which I really like the guy that wrote the machinery of freedom and machinery of freedom era, Milton Friedman’s son, and so what does he talk about? I forget now does he kind of give a structural case for how anarchist society could work.
He talks about just government and he reiterated a little bit of what dice was talking about how government is just has no accountability, that they can just pretty much do what they want. And then there’s another time where he that heats Talks where he talks about, about rights. And he uses this really wild scenario to say, we, we believe so much in property rights. But you know, just maybe just maybe there can be situations where we don’t, we can’t be completely strict on property rights. And he comes up with an outrageous scenario that I’ll I’ll let people let people watch it so that they can, they can get it. But I was just thinking of another person who just really nailed it. And especially in the beginning, when we start talking about education was Thaddeus Russell.
Oh, yeah, he’s great in this.
Yeah. I mean, he really kills it in this and his. There’s a whole section where he talks about government schooling, and I’m
channeling john Taylor Gatto for us there.
Yeah. By the time he gets if you get to the end of And you’re not questioning government being in charge of schools you’re just it’s not time yet you know, revisit it in six months and see what you think because he really really nails it and then towards the end when talking about just how people really how it’s inherent in people to be rebels and rebel you know he brings up like 80s movies where all the john Hughes movies were you know Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or it’s just we’re gonna go against the authority and all these movies that go against authority and everything and I just that is one of those guys I can I can just listen to him talk and every time I have my my show, I wait.
No. So what’s his point there about the movies?
Then we’re, we have a natural we have a natural rebellious streak. Oh, it’s authority. Yeah,
I was gonna say cuz that’s part of john Taylor Gatto. His thing is that they Really divide the smart kids by the teacher’s pet Hillary Clinton straight a first row kids, but then the other smart kids who aren’t so compliant, that they really emphasize being cool. So that we will all use bad words and sit at the back of the class and not dress respectable, not talk respectable, and therefore, we’ll make sure that we never have any power and influence. Because we and you know, we think we’re rebelling, but really, it’s a channel that’s made for us in inside that same Prussian style school system, to channel us away from power and influence. If we’re the Nair do well types, but the capable ones, you know, which makes sense. And I knew he was talking about me when he said that, but what is what is?
Well, I have one of my oldest closest friends is a teacher and he openly admits that every year there’s maybe three or four kids that he said He’s that he can actually reach, you know, and that are really actually interested in. Yeah, they will get more of his individual attention. And he’ll give to the, you know, the kids that don’t want to be there. And I mean, I think that that’s the problem when it comes to public schooling. Yeah, is that they have to be there when, you know, a lot of kids can be 14 or 15 years old, and they should be apprenticing on a job site somewhere, learn, you know, learning a skill or learning how to code or something like that.
So learning how to have the imagination to decide for themselves what they want to learn and what they want to do.
Yeah, that should be from the youngest age. Really? Yeah.
Well, man, I gotta tell you, you and your guys to you took on a major project here and sure looks like you got it done. Can’t wait to see the final draft of it. But the current version is great. It’s The monopoly on violence. It’s on YouTube right now. It’s stateless productions is the name of the channel. They’re on YouTube. And you can see the full interviews of Tom woods, and Dave Smith and match story there as well. And as well as the entire thing. And so please do everybody check that out. And thanks again. Pete got anything else I should have mentioned?
Pete Quinones 33:25
Yeah, um, if our website is themonopolyofviolence.com, Oh, God, there is a free download in 720 P of the movie there. And right right next to that there’s also a donation button so we’re not charging for the 720. But if you want to donate something, there’s a PayPal link. There’s crypto addresses, right?
Scott Horton 33:45
And like you were talking about earlier, you guys have this as an ongoing project to get it completely tightened up all the way to put out on Amazon and iTunes and all those things right?
Pete Quinones 33:56
Yeah, and and Netflix, but we’re gonna get it on Amazon. Get a buzz on Amazon before we send it to Netflix because Netflix will be out and that’s the monopoly on violence calm. And we also have a 4k version of what’s on YouTube for $10 but the link there’s a link to the YouTube video right there and the monopoly on violence calm so if you don’t want to go search in YouTube, just go to monopoly the monopoly on violence calm and it’ll link you to a link to YouTube right there.
Scott Horton 34:27
Killer man. All right, well, great work again and tell the other guys who worked on it that I said that too, if you want, okay. But I mean that to praise everybody’s work here. Great job, everybody. And, and thank you again for your time.
Pete Quinones 34:42
No problem, man. Thanks a lot, Scott.
Scott Horton 34:44
All right, you guys. That is Pete Jonas. He is my partner over there at the libertarian Institute, managing editor there and co producer of the monopoly on violence which you can find at themonopoliesOnviolence.com, The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Danny Sjursen talks about the Mexican-American War, a seldom-discussed conflict that he maintains holds lessons for America today. Sjursen describes a pattern that by now—with our long experience of the war on terrorism—should be all too familiar: a U.S. president deliberately setting up the conditions for war, forcing another country to react, lying about America’s involvement, and then eventually having to remain in the country as an occupying and rebuilding force for years afterward. At the time, several prominent politicians and generals inveighed against the war as unnecessary and unjust, but to little avail. Despite its relevance, this war has been all but forgotten by Americans today.
Discussed on the show:
- “The Tortured Legacy of the Mexican-American War, Part 1” (The Future of Freedom Foundation)
- A People’s History of the United States
- A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico
Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. army major and former history instructor at West Point. He writes regularly for TomDispatch.com and he’s the author of “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. Hey guys on the line, it’s Danny Sjursen. former Army major. He was in Iraq war to Afghanistan. He wrote the book, Ghost writers of Baghdad, and he’s written all over the place for everything important on the internet, including and especially antiwar.com Calm, and where he is a contributing writer, and whatever we call him, and also the future Freedom Foundation fff.org. And this one is called the tortured legacy of the Mexican American War part one, which means I’ve only read part one, part two and three, but I want to hear the whole thing. So go ahead, Mr. Former history professor at West Point, and tell us all about the Mexican American war.
Danny Sjursen 1:32
Well, you know, I
Scott Horton 1:34
welcome the show, Danny, how are you?
Danny Sjursen 1:37
Yeah, no, thanks for having me. And, you know, I’m always happy to geek out a little so Mexican wars. Great.
Scott Horton 1:43
Yeah. And you know what, this is one that I know a little bit about, cuz I did read Zen. But, and I know a little bit about it, other than that, too, but Well, I’m sure. happy to hear all about it all over again. So please go ahead.
Danny Sjursen 1:58
Yeah, you know, I got it. A very different take on the Mexican American War as I, you know, read past the sort of triumphalist histories, especially in grad school and then having the opportunity to teach it. And you know, I do a lot of historical analogy pieces, and anybody who specializes in anything or has an interest in anything wants to tell you that their war or their subject is the one that’s, you know, most relevant to today. So, you know, that can be exhausting. But I think that on a number of levels, while there aren’t, you know, perfect parallels in history and there aren’t perfect lessons to be learned. The Mexican American war is not only fascinating in its own right, but does have certain significant parallels to today. So what do I mean Well, we’re talking about an era of regime change wars right the first the first American regime change of a you know, large fellow Republic, which is you know, interesting, a flawed republic of course, and, you know, we kind of like pick the rulers of some Barbary pirates states a little bit during Jefferson, but for the most part, this is the big regime change war. There’s a race factor. There’s an internal sort of civil war factor in the United States, mainly political. There’s massive political dissent. There’s even a significant amount of military dissent up to an including, you know, mutinies and folks joining the other side, you know, from the American army. And, and it really does divide the nation. You know, Emerson said something to the effect of, you know, will win the Mexican War, but it’ll be you know, basically the poison, that victory that will divide the nation. You know, of course, the Civil War comes later and his prediction came true. It’s sort of the end of a two party system or the first or second two party system in America, the Whigs and the Democrats. And what it the reason it ends is not only because they became so tribal but because it became so regional. And so I’ll get to that but you know, there used to be northern democrats and Southern Democrats and northern wigs and southern wigs and you know, after the Mexican War There wasn’t much of that at all. And so to say, you know, I’ll start quick, but then kind of let you guide it. I mean, the thing to keep in mind as we think about Iraq and God, how many American wars, the Mexican American War, which was an invasion, which was ultimately an occupation that everyone forgets about that part for, you know, several months, like a military occupation, civil disorder, all this guerrilla war, but an regime change, quite literally. And it was all sold on false pretenses. The whole shebang. We made war inevitable, through, you know, the posturing of our military on the border and actually crossing the internationally recognized border, but also just political rhetoric and dealings with the Native Americans and then just you know, annexing Texas, annexing Texas, which you know, was still considered Mexican territory by most countries in the world and certainly by Mexico. So, you know, we set the wore out, we set the conditions we drive Mexico to the point of war. But then even when the you know, causes belly kind of happens, the president Polk, you know who’s a true believer, by the way, you know, he says, well, American blood was spilled on American soil, what he’s referring to is that some American Calvary man, about a dozen of them were were killed. But the problem is that he said American blood on American soil. Well, it’s true that American blood was shed. What’s not so clear is that that American blood was shed on American soil because, you know, this was, you know, south of the waste River, which was the recognized border and not the real ground at the time. So it was really iffy across the board. That center center was a lie.
Scott Horton 5:48
No, no, no, it was the new oasis.
Danny Sjursen 5:50
Yeah, it was the new Oasis was
Scott Horton 5:52
embarrasing the hell out of me, I’m from here.
Danny Sjursen 5:55
But But you know, but San Francisco is of course interesting because that goes back to the text and we’re so you know, For now, my point is that we set the conditions for war we just ended up and then we actually, at the moment of conflict, we lied about it right? The President lied about it. And you
Scott Horton 6:10
know something about that, too, just makes it easy to remember also is that Abraham Lincoln helped make himself famous by making a big deal about this on the floor of the US House, and they nicknamed him spotty Lincoln. Like, this is a nickname that he got making fun of him for saying, Wait a minute, which spot on the map? Did this skirmish take place again, on this side of the line or that side of the line? It’s kind of relevant?
Danny Sjursen 6:34
Yeah, I mean, look, one of the things I say in the first section is that like the Mexican American War, this largely forgotten war kind of defines or helps define the careers of five American presidents. And so the one is a former president john quincy adams, one of his finest hours is, you know, totally intransigent and unwilling to go along with this war, when the rest of the Whigs who remind me a lot of Democrats when the rest of the wigs folded over the Iraq, I mean, Mexican War, right? He wouldn’t. Right there was I think about a dozen of them and they call I forget what they called them. They were basically the intransigence, you know, they just they weren’t going to have it like the insufferable and he led that and I mean, I mean, john quincy adams dies on the basically on the floor of the house, okay. He’s, like, carried away after he has like an aneurysm. And what he was doing in that moment, was loudly yelling, no refusing to even pass like an end of war legislation. That was totally symbolic. All it was gonna do was like, basically thank the generals for their patriotic service in the war. And he wouldn’t even do that. He was like, this is a bad war. This is a lie. This is evil. You know, so that’s, that’s quincy adams kind of
Scott Horton 7:49
I didn’t know that story that that was how he died.
Danny Sjursen 7:52
Dude, it’s a wild story. It’s in my last segment, but yeah, you can look it up. There’s a lot of good books that cover it. But Amy Greenberg is one of the newer ones. So then the GOP Hulk, right so Polk is the Democratic president. He’s a, they called him young Hickory, because he was a protege and an admirer, almost a funding admirer of, you know, Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson. So he kind of is actually hand picked as a dark horse to become the Democratic president handpicked I mean by jackson and does get the nomination wins. He’s an odd guy. For a number of reasons. One of them is that he says and follows through that he’s only going to run for one term, you know, but he also is very political and wants the democrats to succeed him you know, he doesn’t want like the wigs to take charge but he’s a true believer from all intents and purposes he works hard. He’s got a wife who’s almost a little bit like a feminist and he like lets her help him with decisions which is weird given his background as you know he’s a southerner and a Tennessee guy but uh, you know, Polk a true believer, he’s a manifest destiny sea to shining sea, you know, points, political generals, all that. Then you got a three future generals President Zachary Taylor, who commands the northern army though the one that’s you know, along the Texas border, he becomes a wig president. Most of the generals in the army at the time were wigs, actually, the professional generals, even though Taylor commanded a lot of volunteers and militiamen, and then you got grant, and grants interesting because it’s his first war. And his quote is that it was a wicked war, and that he had a terrible time of the Mexican War. And he felt awful about it. And the quote, he said, is I but I had not the courage to resign. So grant was anti war in his first war. Now he didn’t, you know, become a conscientious objector. But through the rest of his life, it really bothered him. And he and he spoke about it just constantly, you know, especially later in life. And then finally, Lincoln, who you brought up right old, spotty, Lincoln. Lincoln, kind of makes his career initially during his opposition to the Mexican American war, but actually in the short term, it hurts them. So Lincoln’s from Illinois and he’s from it. Or he represents Illinois. He’s a freshman, a class of 1848 end of the war wig in a district and in a state that is highly pro war, for the most part, the South and the, what was called the the West. The time was really the Midwest today was highly pro war. He’s told by his friends, you know, go easy on this anti war thing, you’re going to lose your seat, and yet he does what you mentioned in his first floor speech, which was traditionally the freshmen kinda are like seen but not heard. And they, their first floor speech is kind of conservative and, you know, not very intense. Instead, he calls the president out, you know, and says that he, you know, the whole thing is a lie. Lincoln does lose his seat. He’s a one term, Congressman, and exactly what happened. What could we expect that to happen? But of course, he you know, builds that into a career that’s imperfect but often times built on a degree Principle. And it’s an interesting moment for him. And then the final guy worth mentioning, I promise is, the last one is clay, who’s probably, you know, in some ways, he’s like the Hillary Clinton or something of his day in the sense that he’s like the most qualified person not to be president. Right? Or whatever. You know, I mean, the, you know, I’m not a Hillary Clinton fan, but you know, that people say that and clay, you know, ran three or four times. And clay son, another difference from today, right. Clay son dies. He’s like a colonel. And, you know, he has favorites on volunteers and is killed in combat. And big deal. You know, it was it was it was big news at the time. And, you know, it’s probably his finest moment to where, you know, he sort of, especially after the death of his son, he’d been like, somewhat cautious early on, although he had like hinted again about his opposition to the war. But uh, but he challenges a very strongly in fact, one of the most famous anti war speeches by a prominent politician he gave in Lexington, Kentucky, which is where his wife was from, or knows where he’s promised where he’s from, as well. I’m sorry, I messed that up. It’s where he’s from. And it’s like a very famous speech. I mean, everybody’s there. It’s like a million hours. But it’s really good. If you read if you have the time to read it. Well on his way to Washington, to take his seat as a freshman, Congress person, stopping in town sort of happens to happen is a young Abraham Lincoln, whose wife Mary Todd is from the area is from the same place in Kentucky as clay, Lincoln hears the speech is blown away by it. He’s already a Henry Clay aficionado. He calls him like his idol early in life. And a lot of folks have speculated on the effect that it obviously had on Lincoln and Lincoln does write some of it down in his diary of how profound it was. So look, there’s just a lot of stuff happening in the Mexican War. And so I could make it a story on just how fascinating it is, but and we can go in whatever direction you want next, but what I would say is a lot of this fascination And coincidence is almost too good to be true and therefore well worth telling. But it’s actually pretty relevant to some of like, the forever wars and the lies and the regime change in the internal politics of anti war to the extent that it exists today.
Scott Horton 13:13
Yeah. Here’s where I want to go. Here’s what I want to know. What happened to the Mexicans?
Danny Sjursen 13:19
Yeah, that’s an important question. No one really ever talks about the Mexicans, right? We put their name in the war. We even put them first right? We even front loaded them in the name of the war. But they’re not reported on very often until more recent scholarship. I’ve gotten into a lot of arguments over social media about this article, because a lot of folks you know, want to say, Oh, you know, you’re saying America is bad and you’re not pointing out the flaws in Mexico. Of course, they haven’t read the next three parts. So they don’t know that I do. In fact, well, the point is Mexico is there a week in New Republic and they are very fractured at the outset. They have had strong men, but then they’ve also had more liberals. They’re very divided politically at home. and Mexico doesn’t even really have a firm grip on, you know, the northern provinces that we later on next right which become California, New Mexico and all this and Texas, they have very tenuous hold on that. In fact, they can barely fight off the Apaches and the comanches I mean that northern Mexican settlements are getting wiped out and there’s like a great migration South back towards Mexico City. The Indians are winning in many cases, which makes the job of the American army easier, which explains some of the early victories especially out west Mexico is the war in the north the original theater for the first year which is Zachary Taylor the fighting just south of Texas. It goes pretty well for the Americans although the Mexicans fight gallon Lee actually throughout the throughout this war, by the way, they fight gallantly, but you know, it’s slow and it’s a long march to Mexico City and tough terrain and desert and all this so the Winfield Scott, another famous you know, West Point or and general who runs but doesn’t win the presidency is a he leads the first ever major American army amphibious invasion. One of the great logistical feats, frankly, I mean, the Duke of Wellington said it was like the greatest logistical feat like of the time, right? So because he was still alive and so then he marches to Mexico City and like all the guys who become famous Civil War generals, you’ve heard of them, right Robert E. Lee, George picket, all these guys are there and some of them make big names for themselves. pickets, like this flamboyant guy who charges up to pull the peg which is like this fortress, but Mexico City falls. Now here’s where it gets interesting. No one ever talks about this part of the war. The story usually ends with the fall of Mexico City, but the Americans have nobody to surrender to them. Because the kind of temporary dictator back in power after his fault, the Alamo and San Jacinto, you know, Santa Ana, he’s gone. And there’s this like division between the conservative oligarchs in the Met and the liberals, so to speak in Mexico City. By the way, the Mexican people, a whole bunch of them don’t quit. And the guerrilla war continues and actually lots and lots of Americans are killed ambushed, right in addition, all the guys that died of disease, and Scott’s down there with the State Department rep, basically, this guy next slide out who was sent by pull up, but eventually abandoned spoke and they want to make peace as fast as possible and get the heck out of dodge. Because it’s not going so great for the Americans down there. And it turns out that running a messy, broken Republic on the verge of civil war, sound familiar is difficult. Eventually, they cobbled together against the wishes of Polk who wants a harder piece bargain wants to take even more of Mexico wants even more, you know, doesn’t you know, just want to pay them anything and all this. They basically make a deal on the ground largely because there’s no internet and good communications. So there’s a lot of distance and they cobbled together sort of like a liberal coalition and they they make peace with it, of course take the northern third plus of Mexico, but the story Even the more sophisticated scholarship ends there. But Mexico doesn’t ever really recover, you know, for quite a long time. I don’t remember the numbers, although I think it’s in one of my later segments. You know, they go through an enormous amount of governments, presidents and all this over the course of really the next 70 to 80 years. And of course, the the Americans are responsible for all of that. But we certainly played a really great role like we have in so many other countries, some of which that I’ve occupied myself in in creating fomenting the disorder that really made this young Republic remember, it was only 25 years old at the time of the war. So Americans have having to intervene and famously, you know, in the banana War era, several times around the turn of the century dealing with some of this disorder and like civil war that follows through and I’ll just say Finally, in the immediate aftermath, or relatively immediate aftermath around the time of our civil war, Mexico, which has gone through all these presidents and governments and goes massively into debt to the Europeans is invaded by France, right with some help from the British in the 1860s and occupied by the French army for quite some time and a Austrian, you know, kind of second son, Prince Maximilian is put in charge of the Mexican throne for several years until his government falls to Benito Juarez and he’s executed by firing squad. Point is, you know, Mexico becomes what we would now call like a failed state that requires quote, unquote, requires intervention from outside powers, all of which ends very poorly both for the outside powers and of course, especially for the Mexican so long answer, but I think that’s the most interesting part of the story. No one talks a damn thing about
Scott Horton 18:43
Yeah, call it blowback.
Hey, so you mentioned earlier offhand, but then when a different direction, but I wish you’d elaborate about these American army deserters who, as you say in the article, went AWOL in numbers that make the Vietnam War pale in comparison. And not only that, but they actually not all of them, but some of them didn’t just leave, but they switch sides in the war. How could that be?
Danny Sjursen 20:28
Yeah. I mean, just you know, starting with the smaller stuff, although it’s prominent, okay. So the highest per capita casualty rate of Americans of any American War, Mexican War. I mean, who knows that right, just in terms of between disease and combat death and how small the numbers involved because our army was relatively small even with the augmentation of the militias so massive, it’s a death factory next. I mean, guys just don’t come back. massive amounts of gr resistance eight percent desertion rate you know highest ever in American War Vietnam pales in comparison and then a few hundred more than a few less than several hundred mostly Irish Catholic immigrants who populated the regular army in huge numbers throughout the period and well into the Indian Wars of the late 19th century they join the enemy that part of it is the way they were treated in the American army and the way they were treated as immigrants you know, Irish were, you know, depicted as apes at this time largely in American political cartoons. And also just the Catholic heritage had some effect and Mexican propaganda which you know, there is sort of a latent and not so latent strain I can even speak to some extent up till today of like underdog, anti Imperial anti oppression and the Irish character which was probably even stronger than and so this like Mexican problem propaganda which had been calling and targeting especially the Irish and Catholic immigrants. Hey, you’re on the wrong side like you’re the invader It works on a huge number. I mean, I don’t think there’s another instance. Besides, you know, the revolution, which is more of a civil war. I don’t think there’s another instance of a large enough group, going AWOL from American army that they form their own Battalion, the San Patricio Battalion, the St. Patrick’s battalion. And they fight marvelously. For the Mexican army with incredible courage. Most of them die in combat. They bring special skills to the Mexican army because the thing that the American army was best at, right? The the Mexicans were equally brave and sometimes more. The thing that we’ve had over them was engineering skills, and even more so to artillery. And so the San Patricio guys were able to like help the Mexicans with that so they were considered very useful, but most die in combat, because they know what’s going to happen to them if they surrender. So in some cases, Mexican soldiers retreated in the St. Patrick’s guys fought to the end. Those who were captured I don’t have the stats. In front of me, but suffice it to say that many, many, many like scores were executed by the American army for treason, some had their sentences commuted to you know, life in prison. And the Mexicans To this day, have a lot of monuments and celebrate the St. Patrick’s battalion as heroes. So this was interesting. And you know, we talked today about military descent around whether it’s these protests or the COVID response or the wars. And you know, there’s a lot of generals who’ve come out and I’m skeptical of these faults even when I agree with what they say. But yeah, the generals were critical of the war. Scott and Taylor are the two major generals while active in service they didn’t like go public against the war but they were critical of folks policy. They leaked a lot of stuff. They fought him tooth and nail about strategy. They were even dubious about the, you know, efficacy, the war at the mid level. In the lower level, the lieutenants and captains in particular, you know, there’s even more rumblings most stay on and do their duty but grants the most famous guy who was given wildly just turned off by what he saw in Mexico, but it is important to note that, you know, I think of like the 40 odd major battles in the Civil War, I think 39 were commanded by like a West Point or on both sides. The exact numbers are easy to Google, but it’s staggering. Well, what they don’t mention is that, you know, 95 or more percent of those generals who we often list for their Western credentials, were also Mexican War veterans, most of whom were on that triumphant march from Veracruz to Mexico City with general Scott and General Lee, who is much in the news for all the Confederate naming. I was a lieutenant and then a captain and in probably the most important battle campaign to get around the major Mexican bought, you know, defensive position on the way to Mexico City personally scouted like a impossible path, like around the Mexican lines and is, you know, mentioned this dispatches, and so you know, he makes his name and I mean, you name you name a famous Civil War general and I can basically tell you that he was in Mexico and maybe even tell you a little something about it. And it’s, uh, it’s really important. It’s the major combat experience for the guys who become the generals in the war.
Scott Horton 25:27
Yep. Yeah, it’s, that’s the history of American history, right. There is wars and then generals moving to political prominence. Lots and lots of that. But now, so help me remember right, because I mentioned Howard Zinn earlier there. And there’s something very memorable about the Mexican American war there, although I’m not certain. Now, it’s been so many years since I read it, who it was, but I think maybe it was Taylor, who had written in his diaries or letters back home or something. During the war, that this is absolutely disgusting what we’re doing and the atrocities and the aggression and I just can’t stand it. I hate it so much. You remember what I’m talking about there?
Danny Sjursen 26:12
Yeah. So Taylor’s private correspondence is very skeptical of what we’re doing in Mexico a lot of guilt none of it public and completely anti pulk I mean, the the abhorrence that Taylor and Scott but a felt for pulk is really rivals the way a lot of these like retired generals seem to be so reflexively anti Trump, I mean, not to create perfect analogy, but the persona of Hulk was just bothersome in the extremes. A lot of these generals, of course, like in most cases, we found this out later and they didn’t really do anything about it. And you know, Taylor ride says war heroes status to become the Whig candidate. And then Victor in the, you know, 1848 election, so like right after the war, but like, let’s think about this for a second. You want to talk about like cynicism and irony. The Whigs who were dubious about the war from the start, but rolled over because they remembered what happened to the Federalists when they oppose the war of 1812, which is that they were destroyed as a party, they went away. I mean, they were totally discredited as traitors. So the Whigs that learned that lesson, so they go along with the war they don’t believe in until a grassroots anti war movement, the first in American history really at the grassroots forms that everyone knows about Thoreau and civil disobedience what that was about Mexico, and then only then just like our democrats today, and since Vietnam, then then they jump on the bandwagon and Co Op the anti war movement, but so then they become very anti war, and it’s probably the biggest, you know, political anti war effort in American history is a great parallel there
Scott Horton 27:55
with iraq war one, it didn’t quite destroy the Democratic Party, but Bill Clinton and john kerry and Joe Biden had all opposed iraq war one and then never lived it down. And we’re so embarrassed by that. And of course, when iraq war two came around, none of them were willing to make that same mistake again. So they made the opposite mistake by supporting it.
Danny Sjursen 28:14
It’s a great point. I mean, Bob Kerry of Nebraska, a Navy SEAL Medal of Honor winner, was groomed and expected to be president. In many ways. He was the perfect guy, right? He’s from the Midwest conservative state, but he’s a democrat. He’s a war hero, but his opposition to the Persian Gulf War was largely considered to have made him you know, untenable as a candidate. But, you know, my final point I guess, on the wigs is the irony. So the cynical wigs who suddenly become massively anti war many of them principal, most of its cynical, they then in order to beat the democrats right after the war, run, the heat one of the two hero generals from that war and Taylor wasn’t exactly like run on his anti war credentials, he runs on the triumphalism of the fact that he’s a national hero. And so the Whigs wanted power so bad, you know, that they they ran a general and there’s just like a degree of irony there, you know, I think and also just parallels the political calculus of the duopoly and it’s timeless,
Scott Horton 29:18
and they almost did run Wesley Clark in Oh, four. I mean, there’s pretty close parallel there.
Danny Sjursen 29:24
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s an interesting thing. And, you know, I don’t know, I don’t know how long we have. But you know, we’re
Scott Horton 29:31
working on at all um, yeah, that’s
Danny Sjursen 29:33
fine. I’ll tell you some other time. We’ll talk about the Alamo. I’m sure you’re interested in that down in Texas. I am and you
Scott Horton 29:38
have a great write up on it. And I already know that you’re absolutely right. Which sucks. Right? It is what it is. And so we’ll look forward to parts two and three. Of course, we might wait at antiwar.com and run them all together. Something that
Danny Sjursen 29:54
I wish they would do that. I wish that they would run them all together. But yeah, it’s good. Yeah.
Scott Horton 29:57
Yeah. FFF likes to do The tortured legacy of the Mexican American War Danny shirts firstname.lastname@example.org thanks again But
Danny Sjursen 30:09
hey, thanks God always glad to do it.
Scott Horton 30:11
The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Scott talks to Bas Spliet about the state of the ongoing war in Yemen, in which America continues to support Saudi Arabia in its victimization of the Yemeni people. Spliet describes the true situation that American media is loath to tell you: America is fighting on the side of al Qaeda, arguably America’s only real enemies, simply because the Houthi “rebels” have a possible connection with Iran. America could end the war tomorrow, but instead continues to let thousands of civilians die needlessly.
Discussed on the show:
- “In Yemen, Western Foreign Policy Is Empowering al-Qaeda” (Antiwar.com Original)
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
For Pacifica radio, June 21 2020. I’m Scott Horton. This is anti war radio.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. Introducing Bas Spliet. He has written quite a few articles for us now at antiwar.com dot com, including this extremely important one from last week in Yemen. Western foreign policy is empowering al Qaeda. Welcome back. The show Bas, how are you doing, sir?
Bas Spliet 1:02
Very good, sir. That’s
Scott Horton 1:06
great. Very happy to have you here. And it is such an important story. It’s sort of the Forgotten War in real time, America’s war in Yemen. We’re leading from behind as the Obama is put it, in the war in Libya. Same kind of thing here. The Obama government started it with the Saudis in 2015. Trump has continued it, of course, throughout his presidency. And even though if you just asked a man on the street, you know, who do you think were fighting in Yemen? They might guess well, Al Qaeda, right. Maybe the guys that bomb Nicole tried to blow up the plane over Detroit, and I think they would be shocked to find out that Actually, no, we’re fighting a war for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, against their local enemies. But how could that be that sounds crazy Bas, please take us through it here.
Bas Spliet 1:58
Yeah, definitely. Sounds crazy. And it’s probably results of the fact that they make the war seem very complex. And they give very little information about it, and they don’t really tell people about it. So people just go along with this. But let me just see where I started seeing investigation in late April, after reports came out on the American news sites. alternative media sites, means press news, concerning some very disturbing revelations that a Yemeni journalist had uncovered. That in the fights between the Hootie forces recharged Shiite insurgents that took over the government in 215, and have held the Capitol ever since they took over two desert villages on the front line in the war against the forces of doublemint. So heady, which is the deposed president, which saw you that coalition is trying to reinstall and which are our allies. Which as we’ve said, We are leading from behind. And from these reports, he was clear that there were video shares, spontaneous videos that we made. After the Moody’s took over these villages. And videos clearly showed that in the underground bunkers of these forces, they found documents with the official logo of al Qaeda with the face of I’m sorry, on its, as well as graffiti sprayed flags of the Islamic State on the wall, which clearly revealed seem to reveal the true allegiances of the forces, which are our allies, basically. And yeah, there is some information about this relationship and I read, we I read something like left and right about this relationship, but I wants to find out how is this more of a superficial thing? Is this an exception? Or is there a more deeper relationship from which we can say that’s the There is two, can we actually say like, as that title claims that Western foreign policy is directly aiding and abetting al Qaeda or suppose number one enemy, at least in the Middle East. So that’s what I set out to do. I looked at all the evidence I could find, also with the help of someone you’ve interviewed, it’s quite a few times. So yeah, internist, by the name of NASA IRB. And it’s probably impossible to go into all the details, but I think we can summarize findings in four layers, if you will, that peel the onion. So if you allow me I’ll do just that.
Scott Horton 4:37
Yes, do please go ahead.
Bas Spliet 4:38
First of all, on the most basic level, finding what’s revealed by a new investigation by the Associated Press in 2018, which found that the coalition claimed in 2018 that was advancing on Al Qaeda, which had some actual territory on the front But they claimed that they had made some real advances. And they took over certain villages and strategic points from Al Qaeda. But as the investigation of the Associated Press reveals, actually, there was no real fighting. But they were the result of secret deals made between al Qaeda and Saudi coalition and the heavy government’s in which actually the al Qaeda militants were were allowed to retrieve from the cities and areas they controlled with their stolen goods, which included stolen money, and weapons, and this kind of stuff. And the Associated Press also said that key participants in this deals, told them that’s the US was often part of this deal. And they agreed to stop their drone bombing while the deal was happening. So the US was involved in this in this deal. So that’s the first layer if you will But it still gives the ID that there is some clear distinction between to delineate its parties in the conflicts on the one hand, the head of government in exile, and its forces and on the one hand and other hands up kinda. But if we deeper, we actually found if you look at the weapons that are produced in the West in the United States in several European countries, which include my country, Belgium, where they end up in the conflicts, we find that actually, a lot of the Western produce weapons have ended up in the hands of al Qaeda and ISIS as well. And we know this from from from the research of Egyptian journalists, which was published on among other places on CNN, and it’s revealed that Yeah, you if you actually look at material The videos of this if this jihadists that are online, so in the in the open, open source, there was an open source investigation, you can see that Western produced weapons ended up all the time in in Al Qaeda hands. And this is part of the Bonanza, of course, in which us and its allies, they produce weapons and they sell them to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and they give them on to war Lords part of the Saudi led coalition and part of the head of governments and they appear to have relationship relationships with cozy relationships with with al Qaeda forces in the doing, just give through the weapons. So there is a clear chain of custody in which we are empowering our number one enemy there. A third layer is something that was also discovered by the Associated Press, but in the meantime, it has also been backed up by Emirati officials which is revealed that actually it even goes further. Sometimes, oftentimes, as also, as I said, in the beginning, it looked like in these desert villages, the Qaeda militants were fighting alongside the howdy governments. This is a pattern that is discovered in several cases in which Academy religions are recruited into the fight against the Houthis. And this, yeah, they do this because supposedly, the Houthis are the bigger evil, if you will, because Gulf propaganda depicts them as even worse than al Qaeda. They won’t say that, but they suggest that and thus, even though Iran is not really involved very deeply in this conflict and the Houthis are forced in their own rights, which are not puppets of Iran. They literally recruit all kinds of balances into the fights. And finally, it’s very clear. That’s it Some of the people that are literally on the United States official lists by the Treasury Department’s of global designated terrorists in Yemen. There are several people that are just very connected to the head of governments. I’ll just give two examples. Maybe the most illustrative one is Abdul Wahab McCarney, he’s kind of Salafi preacher turned politician. He looks pretty modern. I saw photos. So it might appeal to extremist Islamic elements. And after the previous president present, not the post heavy present, but the guy before that ruled him and for 33 years, saw that when he was the posting 2012 there were a lot of conferences, power transition conferences, sponsored by the Gulf monarchies, and he participated in that and through some in some reports, he’s They say these, these are very prominent participants in these conferences, but still at the United States in 2013, the end of 2013. They designated him as a terrorist, and they put him on their terrorist list. And because and this is almost literal quote, he does business for arcada. He travels throughout the Arabian Peninsula freely Saudi Arabia, mainly and, and Yemen, and he conducts business for Al Qaeda. I funnels weapons and all kinds of stuff and money. So pretty startling, you would think. But still, this was students routine. In 2015, he participated in a conference sponsored by the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, where he participates in the capacity of delegation of the head of government. So you can literally find that is actually part of the heavy government’s going to be stocks at the same time that he’s on. The US terrorists list. And you can even find photos of him shaking banky moon the Secretary General of the UN, the boss of the world’s if you will. Yeah, pretty startling. Yeah. Did you start? Maybe a last one that I can mention mention is up to mosquitoes in Danny, who was also preacher and was involved with, with the Muslim Brotherhood. I think he even set up, founded the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. And it’s also a leading member of the Islamic party which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and as far back as students for United States doesn’t need him as a global terrorist. They put him on his list they sanction him because according to the press statements, he is a loyalist of some bin Laden, and he even they even say that he is one of the spiritual leaders have some villain, but even then in 2011, and we’re alive Lucky which is a US citizen that when radicalized and went to Yemen and he ended up dying in a drone strike by the United States he was extra judicially kills, which should be mentioned he like according to an Egyptian newspaper he sheltered at the house have as in them. But still in 2018, this guy, this, Abdul Majeed as in Danny a terrorist, according to the United States, he met our president in Yemen heading and he talked and he appears to advise them on some on some issues. So in these are just two examples. There are at least six people and you can refer to that are on the United States terror terrorists list of Yemen and this is not a list of hundred people or something. It’s just maybe 20 people or something on this list and several one several of these people are directly to tied back to the heavy governance.
Scott Horton 13:02
Yeah. Well, it really is something else. And I don’t mind bragging a little bit that you heard that here first on this show years ago from Nasr. rb, that go and look at the terrorist list. These are the very same men that we’re talking about, that the State Department has designated as enemies of the American people are the very same people that are allies in this war against the Houthis, in Yemen, and for, you know, the general public in the audience who might not understand how that could possibly be right? You have to remember that the reason that al Qaeda hates us is because and always has, is because we’re too close of allies with their governments that they want to overthrow. And so they’re not from Iran, Iraq and Syria. They’re from Saudi and Egypt, mostly countries that are friendly with the United States. And so when it comes to our overall strategic position in the region, America’s on the Sunni side. And that means that the al Qaeda guys are our strategic allies if they blew up the coal and tried to blow up a plane over Detroit, and if they help coordinate the September 11 attack, and if they harbored Anwar Al aulaqi, who inspired the Fort Hood attack, and all of this stuff, well, oh, well, don’t you know that the Houthis are rumored to be backed by Iran to some slight degree. And so therefore, the enemy of the American people who are the enemy of America’s strategic rival in the region, are our friends.
Bas Spliet 14:37
Maybe that’s most clear, if you look at the records of the Yemeni governments, we have supported the Sunni one not even Sunni but like the the governments that were previously in power in Yemen, solid was overthrown in the Arab Spring, go look at his records in fighting al Qaeda like on the one hand, he’s allowing the United States to to once in a while While performing drone strike that kills some al Qaeda neither, but on the other hands, according to the Yemeni government, at some point, there were two masterminds of the cold bombing in of 2000s. And they were convicted and put on the death sentence. But before they were put to death, they miraculously escape order. They’re their deals. There’s one guy by the name of Oh, by the way, one of the two, he escaped two different maximum security facilities, one in Samoa and one in the island. And then he was captured a third time, but then he made a deal with the governments in which he agreed that he would help find other senior more senior al Qaeda members if but he was supposedly the mastermind of one of the most deadly terrorist attack in that country. So it’s just a total farce. And it’s true that like, and they’re also very recently there are drone bombings that killed senior kind of people, but I use the phrase I don’t think it’s just Very common phrase in the United States, mopping up the floor without turning off the faucets. So on the one hand, they’re doing their war on terror, which in their United States bombing bombing al Qaeda caters and when they do that will receive a lot of media attention, but on the other hands to a very greater degree. They are literally supporting a car in all kinds of way over there. So it’s important and it doesn’t make any sense and it’s one of the many reasons we should just get out.
Scott Horton 16:35
Now I want to talk about something that you highlight in this piece again called in Yemen Western foreign policy. Empowering al Qaeda at anti war calm by Bas Spliet. And you talk here about General Michael Vickers and his statement about America working with the Houthis when they first took over the capital city at the end of 2014, beginning of 2015, that CENTCOM said, Great, we can use these guys to hunt down and murder al Qaeda guys. And then it was just two months later, that Barack Obama turned around and took al Qaeda side against them. And that, to me, is really something else.
Bas Spliet 18:34
Yeah. They quite understandably, saw the cooties, whatever they thought of them. I don’t think there were Iranian puppets at the time, running through 915 after they had overthrown present that was clearly very unpopular. And as I just mentioned, like the records of the Yemeni government in fighting al Qaeda is dubious at best, very bad at the worst. And they looked at these routines come to power. And you have this is a pretty, pretty senior guy within the Defense Department who admitted that they had an ongoing intelligence relationship with the Hutus because they figured that these guys will probably be way better in finding out guy that because not only are they supposed to sue nice, but they might have better records because they fighting corruption already easily saving they would. But then that was I think, in January 2015. Just author had he had resides under the pressure of the hoodies, of course, he fled to the south, but the hoodies advanced on the south, and then he fled. Second time, but this this time to Riyadh to Saudi Arabia. He was he was still young, but then also young. Hamad bin Salman would just come onto the scene political scene in Saudi Arabia. He set up a coalition and said I will reinstate this guy. He, he got 10 Sunni countries together and he started waging the war on them. And Saudi Arabia is our allies. So the United States said, well, we’ll go along, and then also the Saudis and their allies start saying, Yeah, this Iranians to justify the war, these these royalties, rather, they are puppets of Iran. And this of course, if you say this, Washington, Warhawks will be like, oh, we’ll drill down for death because they hate Iran to the core, of course. And then they indeed just turned around and it should be noticed that it was this was under Obama Pepsi, and now, Trump is in office of coke. So it’s the same thing there. The President changes but the policy doesn’t. And that’s, that’s very sexy indeed.
Scott Horton 20:46
Yep. And now, you mentioned Michael Horton there, no relation to me. He’s a real expert on Yemen. And when this were started back in March of 2015, he talked to mark Perry, the great Pentagon reporter, Mark Perry, and he was at that time quoting john mccain and said, well, john mccain’s complaining. Well, this is during the Iraq War Three, right the war against the Islamic State. And john mccain’s complaining that we’re flying as Iran’s Air Force in Iraq, which is, of course all McCain’s fault. But anyway, but we’re flying as Al Qaeda is Air Force now in Yemen. That was how he put it right, then as soon as the war started. It’s not like this was hard for anyone to understand if they were taking a critical look at it, that we are fighting against al Qaeda, his worst enemies, at the very least, we are de facto siding with them by helping accomplish their same goals. That was just the very beginning. Of course, as you talked about, since then, we’d have almost direct aid and comfort in the sense of American supplies going to al Qaeda through the United Arab Emirates. and so forth.
Bas Spliet 22:01
Yeah, but it bears repeating. I talked about ways in which restaurant foreign policy is directly strengthen al Qaeda, but it’s also on the face of it. It’s also just very easy to see that by instigating the war, which could never happen without our sports, the Saudis have created a power vacuum, they’ve created instability. And in this instability in this power vacuum, are kind of seized on that and that’s why they took control in the first place in the first few years of the war, and then they were supposedly pushing them back, but they were making the deals that were recruiting them. So on a very prima facia level, but also on a very deep level. We’re involved in so many ways, and it’s, it’s I really had to dig deep for some of these things. You know, the Associated Press investigation and CNN reports. These ones are available online and people refer to them but the facts Like the very easy to verify fact that several people on the designated global terrorist list of terrorists in Yemen these same people are in bed with arella it’s just insane if you think about it, and I really had to go to I had to step up my Arabic and re to arabic news reports to verify these kind of things. It’s really not reported them and the moments this would be reported for and whites then people would really clearly see that they would they wouldn’t have to they will need a complicated explanation how we’re backing Okay, if you’re interesting from perspective of the US government, these are terrorists and at the same time, they are in bed with our allies, so we should switch allies maybe
Scott Horton 23:48
or just have none. And And listen, I’m sorry, cuz this is slightly off topic, but it’s the most important point for people to understand here is that this is absolutely the worst thing happens. anything in the world right now? Is America and Saudis war against the people of Yemen. It’s very deliberately designed to be a campaign against the civilian population there. And there’s no question at least the UN has admitted, it’s almost certain that the number is higher. That UN has finally admitted that a quarter of a million people have been killed in the last five years, they’re in this war. And then again, this is not the war against aq AP, but the war for them. And so this war is genocide and treason and goes again, as you’re talking about, they’re almost completely unremarked upon, it’s absolutely as bad as Iraq War Two, and yet goes without notice. It’s it’s almost unbelievable, but it is what it is. But um, I just wanted to throw that in. I know that’s not the focus of your piece here, but I wanted to Make sure that we mentioned that, that civilians are suffering. Of course, it’s children under five who are dropping dead of starvation in this thing. It’s just an absolute atrocity. But I wanted to ask you finally here as we wrap up about the overall strength of aq, AP, because, you know, if you talk about the USS Cole, or you know, their participation in helping to arrange the September 11 attack, back then you think of a pretty small group of guys, even in the days of the war against aq AP, Obama’s drone war from 2009 through 2015 still seem like we’re in and of course, that war only grew them, they only got more and more powerful in response to that drone war, but still, it seemed like we’re talking about what at most a few hundred guys or something like that tops. But so I wonder if there’s a real good study of just how much strength al Qaeda and or the Islamic State groups in Yemen have gained here. As the result of this war, are we talking about 10s of thousands of guys in their militias now or what? Exactly?
Bas Spliet 26:07
Fortunately, I there’s no way to answer that question just because the information is so low, and the lines are so blurred, that same Michael Horton that the Yemeni experts mentions, in response to dissociate the press piece, it’s very easy for a guy to insert itself into the mix. And there there are so many parts of the conflicts and people change sides all the time, militants will maybe fights for whoever pays the best, you know, so maybe the one point it’s the heavy government’s and another point is all Qaeda. So in fighting power, it’s not easy to see, but maybe ideologically. First of all, maybe you should just get out like if you draw away all the funds coming from Saudi Arabia and these very wealthy Gulf monarchies that clearly like they have a lot of people rich people that funds, these kind of groups return into what kind of ISIS? If they weren’t pumping the money in it’s the interest in joining these groups would want to be decreased, firstly, and secondarily, that just bombing country turns people against the country that is bombing them. So that’s probably another very satisfactory answer. But it’s difficult to say, but it’s easy to diminish their numbers, I think in a very simple policy, and that is wrong. Yeah. Well, and
Scott Horton 27:34
if you look at the examples from Syria and Iraq, you know, most of the guys who would fight and been last night groups are really just militia men, rather than international terrorist types. But at the core, they’re still the overall the watery eyed mission of the war against us, the far enemy. And so if the numbers grow from a core group of 20 to a quarter group of 100 that’s still a lot you know, when it only takes a few to carry out spectacular taxes we saw with Charlie Hebdo and so many others by these guys,
Bas Spliet 28:11
let me just mentioned that like back into runs and turn a CIA and other counter terrorist officials, they start to say that actually the al Qaeda branch in Yemen is now the biggest branch of archives after we destroyed one in Afghanistan. So, yeah, then the war starting to run 15 and like until 2015, you have some terrorist attacks, which are Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is involved and with with the Shan the mo tech, of course, Interim 15 January, and then they had to assume they had to turn their attention towards the conflict, but the what is the whatever the conflict ends with all their with the ideology, upon which the breeding grounds upon which they can foster the new weapons that come from our country. The battleground experience all these things I, it would be hard to imagine if they are not more strong than they were. They were before the war. That’s that’s what I can tell you. Yeah.
Scott Horton 29:10
Yeah. Aren’t you guys that is Bas Spliet. He is a master’s student at the University of Ghent, Belgium. And is has now been writing for us regularly at antiwar.com. This one is called in Yemen. Western foreign policy is empowering al Qaeda. Thank you again very much for your time, Bas.
Bas Spliet 29:34
You will, anytime.
Scott Horton 29:36
Aren’t you guys and that has been anti war radio for this morning. I’m your host, Scott Horton on the author of the book fool’s errand time to end the war in Afghanistan and editorial director of anti war calm. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Scott interviews Eric Margolis about the recent border skirmishes between Chinese and Indian troops, which have resulted in deaths on both sides. The border between these two countries has been in dispute practically since its creation, and neither Scott nor Margolis sees a simple resolution anytime soon. Luckily the latest clash seems to have been limited to spontaneous hand-to-hand brawling, rather than representing a coordinated strategic attack, and Margolis thinks it’s unlikely to escalate any further for the moment. Still, if the border dispute were to escalate, the entire world could be in danger, since both countries have nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, President Trump doesn’t appear to be helping the situation, as he tries to strengthen America’s relationship with India as an ally in the growing hostilities against China.
Scott Horton 0:10
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. All right, you guys on the line. I’ve got the great Eric Margolis, Eric margulies.com, split like Margolis. Eric Margulies calm and of course, he wrote the great books war at the top of the world and American Raj, liberation or domination and He well, more the top of the world. He really did spend a lot of time in previous years over there at the one of the major crossroads of the world at the highest elevations there between India, China, and the Afghan Pakistan, you know, region. They’re all around their Kashmir and all of that stuff. Great book, man. And I’m telling you, you know, if you’ve been reading Eric Margulies articles for years, and you know how great he is, you’ll still be blown away by how great the book or at the top of the world is an American rush to and they’re both so great. Anyway. So the reason I have you on Eric is because you’re a guy No. And you know about this extremely important issue that there are so very few experts on and that is the relationship between China and India, which has come very much to head in the last week as soldiers sides have been killed in skirmishes up there at the top of the world. So first of all, welcome back, my friend, how are you and glad to talk to you again.
Eric Margolis 2:10
I’m living under house arrest, but I’m okay with it. I need a little break from the rest of the world and fighting awful evil viruses and still fighting with the crazy people in the media.
Scott Horton 2:25
That’s right. So you got your priorities straight, making the best of a bad situation. Good to know. I’m glad to know that you’re doing well. And listen, so man, is it really right these guys I read a thing. They had clubs wrapped in barbed wire. The Chinese did and beat the Indians to death. They’re in some Borderlands skirmish over where the line really is.
Eric Margolis 2:52
They can be real nasty. Those guys the Chinese are brutal and Indians are no better. So In the past, most of the fighting was hand to hand or fisticuffs because they were denied like these weapons but in this latest clash that happened last week the apparently both sides used small arms and close the number of casualties
Scott Horton 3:19
Yeah, I read a thing these guys come out swinging a board with nails through the end of it I thought of Moses like from the Simpsons, you know, these guys, which at least are not machine gunning each other to death. But what a bra that must have been if these guys were actually beaten to death with boards with nail sticking out the end, my God, there must be a YouTuber that’s somewhere right?
Eric Margolis 3:43
Well, there have been –
Scott Horton 3:44
Eric Margolis 3:45
brawls over the last decades to the Indian and Chinese troops. And being up there at high altitude we’re talking 14,000 feet makes you weird and crazy. People are really bored. And we’ll do anything to change that.
Scott Horton 4:05
Yeah. Well, so, I mean, this gets right to the heart of it, right? Are we talking about, you know, quote unquote, like rogue kind of very low level authority troop groups going around, you know, stumbling around walking this side of the ridge instead of that one and crossing the line? Are we talking about a real change in policy between the Chinese and or Indian governments towards each other that has resulted in this?
Eric Margolis 4:31
Well, that’s the right question, Scott. I’ve been, there have been small time clashes over the years, and the troops were under orders to keep them calm, not not expand into heavy warfare. The last time the two sides really fought it out was in 1962. When the when Jawaharlal Nehru in India got too big for his britches or Donkey or whatever, and started pushing the Chinese in the Himalayas. And the Chinese struck back as Mao put it to teach him a lesson. And the lesson was taught the Indians got their behinds whipped by the Chinese and the Chinese were really could have swept down like to Calcutta until now calling everything all of it said, well, I’ve got the Indian. So lesson and the Indians did learn the lesson. They avoided conflict for decades.
Scott Horton 5:34
Yeah, so now, I guess I read a thing that said that this was an I mean, they’re both very new states, right, you know, created after World War Two. So it’s always kind of questionable about where this line was supposed to be. But I read a thing that said What the I guess the common international conception is that the Chinese actually move the line into Indian Territory if anybody’s in the wrong, it’s them. Is that right?
Eric Margolis 6:04
Well, both sides make those kind of claims. Absolutely. In fact, nobody knows where the hell the line is the
Scott Horton 6:12
line right? It’s on paper Anyway,
Eric Margolis 6:15
when the British Empire ruled India, famous Indian Raj, but which might be a book American Raj is about for the British. No, that used to be Tibet, and a huge ill defined place that nobody care about because it was too high and cold and hairless cetera. But that change. The British drew the lines with fitness pens, and these pens covered overall valleys and mountain ranges and things. The British feel lousy job of demarcation and as with many border disputes came to alive. You’re later after the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1951, I think and they came right up next to the Indians. And the Indians suddenly got scared because they had not taken any action. They did not ignore the area totally. And all of a sudden they found the red Chinese army next door and they panicked, and hence, clashes began that led to the 62. Wars.
Scott Horton 7:33
And now, so but good old, mutually assured destruction is kind of keep the overall peace here, right?
Eric Margolis 7:40
Well, maybe maybe these are both the countries with with lots of nuclear weapons, very powerful military forces. And I don’t think that there will be a large war there though. I predicted one in my book, one day India and China will fight to control the Himalayas and the Capricorns. The most important region is this area, obscure as it is has headwaters of all the major rivers in India, Pakistan and Burma. So it is the water source for Southeast Asia. And it’s a great importance to all concerned. Yeah,
Scott Horton 8:28
well, then, I mean, the question and answer are raised obviously and immediately right, that instead of warring over that, that they should create an international consortium that can negotiate and share those resources like
Eric Margolis 8:45
they like Scott, and look at the look at the gyptians and the Ethiopians, right, our threatening war with each other over the Nile waters. So and this is an dispute that goes back to the 1920s. I think. So. It’s it’s very contentious, and they’re also in conflict of Burma next door Burma, which is very strategic. And, you know, their powers each wants to be the big, big dog on the block.
Scott Horton 9:22
so now what about the Chinese role in Kashmir? Because they actually share one of those borders too, right?
Eric Margolis 10:27
Yeah, there’s, there’s a chunk of territory, right next to LA doc called Xi chin. And so I can as a population of 14,000 Yak herders something and nothing else but it’s way way up in the mountains is freezing cold. There’s no oxygen. It’s half the oxygen. It’s sea level. But it is very important as his love Doc, because that is the route that links to China with with Tibet and it is the greatest strategic importance. And it also is the center point for moving troops around in the area. So it’s very sensitive.
Scott Horton 11:19
And then this is an interest that they share in common with Pakistan. They kind of have a de facto alliance against India there even though India really controls Kashmir, right?
Eric Margolis 11:28
That’s right. Well, coming back to xi chin was part of Pakistan, Pakistan or cat Pakistani cage near Pakistan then gave Xi chin to China because to help it strategic situation in Tibet, and Indians went crazy. And the knees have never accepted it. And now the Kashmir issue is come back alive again. It’s been in disputes. It’s 92 48 is the oldest dispute in front of the UN. But the Indians the new nationalist extreme right wing governments in India, of the Bharatiya Janata Party, under Prime Minister Modi is become senator waiting Hindu nationalists, they want to cleanse India of all non Hindus. They want to bring in what they call hindutva, which is a Hindu this as a national theory they want to deny the religions, other religions in India, which are many. So, they’ve heated up the situation and they just clamped down divided casian into two parts formally, autonomous now and they are really pressing down on the heart and the Muslims of Kashmir and denying them what few rights they had.
Scott Horton 13:00
Man, you know, it sounds like the potential for catastrophe there is almost limitless. Right? You know, I don’t remember my footnote, so maybe I’m wrong, but also it makes sense when I think about it, too, so I’ll go ahead and say it out loud that I read a thing that said that the second largest Muslim population in the world is in India, majority Hindu India, but hey, it’s a big country. And the first is Indonesia. And then the second most the second largest group of Muslims in any nation in the world is in India and so if you’re going to cleanse India of Muslims, you’re talking about trailer tears of absolutely catastrophic proportions.
Eric Margolis 13:49
Absolutely. Scott, a memory of serious me it’s, it’s it’s 140 million Muslims. Don’t like Donald Trump Hear that? 140 million Muslims. Live in India and coexist very uneasily with the Hindu majority which discriminates against them the old problems and purchase and also constitutes the lowest income portion in India. So it’s a major social and political problem.
Scott Horton 14:23
And even if I think there must be, you know, and I’ve read a little bit about this, that there is somewhat geographical separation already, you know, obviously, there’s going to be a lot of mixing and overlap and everything, but we’re not talking about, you know, Modi in them saying, Okay, these provinces could go ahead and succeed because we’re better off without you anything like that. They want to keep all the land, just kick the 10s of billions of people off of it.
Eric Margolis 14:49
That’s right. And I know they’ve never expressed clearly how they’re going to do it. They want to do something similar in Kashmir. Live started because they divided too, and they made one state for Hindus and pundits as they call their and one for the Muslims, Kashmiri Muslims.
Scott Horton 15:13
And now, so that Jeez, I wish I knew enough to ask better questions about all this. I mean, I guess the I read a thing that said that the Chinese were being very conciliatory about this and we’re playing it down and saying, Hey, you know, I don’t know their exact language, but diplomatically speaking, let’s not fight let’s not escalate this. Nobody wants to fight about this right now. Anyway, so
Eric Margolis 15:38
I don’t think the Chinese want or I have to do with the COVID virus situation, but they they are, they want to send a message, as usual and the message is as follows. Go easy on Kashmir. Stop trying to crush the chasm, Kashmiri Muslims. Because they’re best friends with our buddies in Pakistan. great importance to China. Even more important, is the fact that the Trump administration has been playing footsie with India
Scott Horton 16:16
now, man, that was gonna be my next question.
Eric Margolis 16:19
I’m sorry. I take it back.
Scott Horton 16:21
Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead. You already ruined it.
Eric Margolis 16:28
The problem but who hates Muslims, and has been trying to build up India as an anti China force in the event of a war and the war is going to happen? We’re headed towards a war and we’re just planning for it. And they’re trying to mobilize and arm India. And the Chinese really don’t like this because they know perfectly well what’s going on. And this is the probably the major reason to the restaurant now.
Scott Horton 17:02
Yeah, wondering about that I saw that the Chinese were certainly blaming the Americans for intervening there. And now, what does America have to gain there other than just harassing the Chinese?
Eric Margolis 17:14
Well, in the event of a war, India would attack or they hope India would attack, China’s Western Region sinking. And Tibet, very, very sensitive to the Chinese who have militarize the Tibet Plaza like crazy. And it would tie up millions of Chinese troops. So plus the Indian Navy and Air Force have played a key role. India is a major military power, not a bunch of guys running around turbans, it’s a powerful, bigger force, lots of tanks and artillery. So this would be a big asset to the US us can’t fight China alone needs an Asian land ally.
Scott Horton 18:04
Yeah. But of course, you know, that just means that they are outsourcing the decision to go to war to somebody else. So, in other words, if we wanted to pick a fight with China, we want to count on India to help us. But that also means that if India gets in a fight with China, we obviously don’t have any official treaty with them or anything. But in the event of a crisis, it’s pretty easy to imagine, isn’t it that the American president would start leveling ultimatums against China that they better not do this or that or else? And then at that point, Daya cast
Eric Margolis 18:38
to my shock and dismay, I think was last week or two weeks ago, Trump announced he was ready to negotiate the whole Kashmir problem. God help us. And you know, since 1948, they haven’t been able to solve it.
Scott Horton 18:56
I don’t see that he had said that. I mean, you know what’s funny is Without all this ridiculous world Empire stuff, if America was a limited constitutional republic with a neutral foreign policy, that to me would be our highest priority would be to host a completely neutral summit to try to solve Kashmir. And you know what, they can fly back and forth between New York and Geneva and whatever other neutral countries and talk the thing to death until they figure out you know, some kind of arrangement where we can put an end to the violence there.
Eric Margolis 19:32
We are. So right is in my book I’ve said and I’ve been saying ever since that. This is the world’s most dangerous border, the Kashmir border and millions of troops on both sides nuclear weapons. The Indians have been screaming to invade Pakistan teach it a lesson and the backs of all their nuclear weapons to stop the Indians from doing that email the number of bugs on the day We need American diplomacy to defuse that issue, but we have we have no neutrality. The situation as you rightly pointed out, were too much bad within the hour too. It was a look at Trump just just reportedly according to Bolton is not a trustworthy source either claimed that it was okay told the Chinese leader Xi Jinping that the concentration camps that China is set up for sink young Muslims are okay with him. So this is not an honest market. honest broker.
Scott Horton 20:40
Yeah, I’m not sure if I believe that. I mean, I would believe it about Trump, but I don’t believe a word that john bolton says. You know,
Eric Margolis 20:47
he’s unreliable sources, a horrible little man, but who knows?
Scott Horton 20:52
Yeah, but I could see Trump saying I don’t care about that. I’ve never heard of shinjang Province anyway. So whatever. You know, what does he care? Same thing with the wheat. If you please buy wheat that’ll help me get reelected. I could see Trump doing that. But again, I’m not willing to take Bolton’s word for it. It sounds not true. Coming from Bolton, even though do I think Trump’s the kind of guy where he just would not recognize any line between his presidential campaign and Official US policy? You know, he’s the kind of guy to do that. Sure. But this isn’t evidence of it. This is just the thing a guy said.
Eric Margolis 21:35
It sounds believable to me. Yeah. I remember, of course, that the republicans and my beloved President Eisenhower will have great respect. They used to go through the secretary of agricultural Ezra Taft Benson. I don’t know if you remember that name from long ago, and they used to hand out millions and millions of dollars. subsidies and farm relief to these same republican farmers, then who bring that region into the Republicans.
Scott Horton 22:10
Yep, just like in Joseph Heller and catch 22, about his father got paid by the government to not grow alfalfa. And that was his career. But if the government paid anybody else anything to do anything why that was creeping socialism.
Eric Margolis 22:27
That’s exactly right. Yeah. Isn’t
Scott Horton 22:30
that what a great job not growing alpha? Anyways, we’re a little bit off topic, but I’m having fun. Yeah, no, just just a couple of tangents away from the real question, which, in fact, I don’t know if he saw this. Actually. I didn’t see it either. But Eric garris told me so it must be right. That Trump said yesterday we might just cut off all commercial and economic relationships and interdependence with China because we’re so sick and tired of them. Which, I mean, I guess there is a lot he could do to affect that change if he really implements that as a policy. But I’m not sure what that would look like, especially in the middle of a great depression. I mean, maybe it’s the best time to do something like that if you’re gonna do it, but it seems like it would make the problem a lot worse.
Eric Margolis 23:23
Well, given the Trump campaigns, beating the war drums over China, and making it the central theme of the Trump campaign, we’ve got to stop those red Chinese bastards. It’s possible. It’s reckless beyond belief. But God help us I don’t know how the US is gonna come through this big mess. Then you had COVID and Trump together, and I shudder
Scott Horton 23:53
You know, there’s all these academic type models about receding powers and rising power. and stuff. That wasn’t really the case with the Soviet Union, right? They were an established power, they weren’t really rising or expanding, certainly not into America’s core sphere of influence and all that, you know, containment and all that is pretty overblown, when so much of the world was not aligned and that kind of thing.
Eric Margolis 24:16
That’s really not a minor challenge to the US.
Scott Horton 24:20
But the problem with the rise of China is and, and I think they’d be nuts. And they might be, but they’d be nuts and stupid and they might be but I don’t bet on I don’t think that they are. They would be crazy to expand their empire and to follow the American model of mass murder suicide here that our government has embarked on over just the last 30 years nevermind during the Cold War days, but just since the Cold War, but the Americans clearly as they blown their whole war in the Middle East and discredited all of their own power in so many ways and the Empire and in the other country. We’re dependent on it and all those satellite relationships, client state relationships are all more tenuous now. And all these things, they want to blame Trump for that, but it’s because of the failures of the policies over the last 30 years, not just his that they are kind of projecting onto China, that these guys gonna make all the money. And they’re going to, and because of their very efficient and wonderful police state, they’ll be able to, you know, keep prices very low and end up they’ll they’ll end up affording to dominate all of Eurasia, which is supposed to be our job, and we can’t let them get away with it. And yet at the same time, they’re obviously pretty certain that there’s nothing that they can really do to stop it. And yet, both sides, of course, as goes without saying, are armed to the teeth with h bombs. And so it’s a different dynamic than any that we faced, right this is we’ve ever since we’ve had atomic weapons In America has been the world Empire. Now they’re sort of being forced to cede to this rising power. Again, I think they’re exaggerating it, but still, but they can’t stand it. And there, they won’t stand for it. So, you know, I don’t know, I could see why that would immediately, you know, calculate into a pivot to Asia under Obama, and even, you know, helping encourage the Indians to pick a fight. They’re in South Asia right now and anything that they can do to try to frustrate the Chinese, but not to coin a phrase but seems like a fool’s errand and possibly an extremely dangerous one.
Eric Margolis 26:42
Scott as a as a observer of military affairs, and commentator on the subject, I am amazed by how much we’re set on a course of military confrontation with China. All the new weapons that are coming out tactics doctrine has is called, are all designed to fight a war and offshore war off the coast of China and attack China everywhere that we can. So, you know, it’s ironic I mentioned even in my book The, the so called the training camps that the that were found in Afghanistan that were were Qaeda training camps. And these were actually for training Uighur Muslims from China, right by the CIA to attack China if the if the aluminum lineup. And this is becoming institutionalized. The whole American military is now repositioning its thinking, for war with China. So you think about it long enough. That may happen yeah.
Scott Horton 28:00
Well, I guess it’s just it’s a failure of imagination to see like, hey, for the next 10,000 years, the world’s got to be big enough for us and them forever.
Eric Margolis 28:11
I think what you know, well in in war at the top of the world, my book I wrote at the end of the book, the most important American foreign policy objective is going to be disengaging peacefully from Asia, from get off shore and go back into the Pacific, and to just leave politely without a conflict with China. This is not happening yet.
Scott Horton 28:41
Yeah. Sounds like wisdom to me. Although, you know, Andrew Bacevich. I put that to him and he thinks we ought to absolutely get out of Europe and Quit messing with the Russians. I’m pretty sure certainly that we should get out of the Middle East entirely. alone, but he says no, we got to stay in Korea in Japan because my If we let the Chinese and the Japanese and the Korean settle things among themselves, without, you know, standing in in between them all, then there’s gonna be trouble. And the current situation of American dominance there is less worse than the alternative. What do you think of that?
Eric Margolis 29:17
Well, that’s an argument that has some validity. I agree with it as a Korea watcher. I know that America’s footprint there is important maintaining the status quo. But that doesn’t mean that when the balloon goes up there that that will print prevent a bigger war. And there’s no doubt that America is losing is losing the ability to finance having 100,000 troops spread between Korea and Japan. It’s got to do some economies just the way Trump is talking about reducing troops in Europe, which is an excellent idea, right? I wish speed.
Scott Horton 29:55
Yeah, it’s too bad. We couldn’t figure out a great campaign to support that. When that came out that like Ray, you know, mysteriously, thousands of balloons went up in major cities across America in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protest. It was the anti war movement celebrating the removal of troops from Germany. But
Eric Margolis 30:15
yeah, exactly. Well, we we’ve overstretched our empire that happens to all empires. And we can’t afford to, we got to start trimming at the edges.
Scott Horton 30:30
I say call off the whole thing, and it’ll probably work itself out.
Unknown Speaker 30:35
Well, I think the Koreans and the Chinese are as good at managing the region and the Japanese as we are. Perhaps he did.
Scott Horton 30:44
And again, you know, what, whether without atomic weapons, everybody’s got so much to lose. And I know that that’s not a guarantee. There’s World War One in a lot of examples, but still, there’s a lot of incentive for these countries to get along. And who says That American dominance brings peace depends on who you ask. You know, speaking of the Japanese and the Koreans, you know,
Eric Margolis 31:07
brings a Pax Americana. What happens if Kim Jong Un dies? We’re worried about his health and crisis in Korea, any of these things blow up into a really dangerous situation and the Japanese are in a really awful situation because they completely naked to the Chinese power. And they will, I believe, eventually have to get nuclear weapons. I know. I was in the ministry of defense in Tokyo, and I saw a a design for nuclear weapon. So I know the Japanese are thinking about nuclear weapons.
Scott Horton 31:53
Yeah, well, and you know, as long as we’re on the subject here, we could point out that Trump really did you No break through, kick the door in on the chance to make peace with North Korea that his predecessors have. Well, Bill Clinton actually had a pretty good interim step there with the Agreed Framework of 94. But Bush and Obama, but just absolutely horrible on Korea. And Trump made major breakthroughs in terms of establishing a relationship with the dictator there, and beginning negotiations. And they had the path forward, that everyone could see that we have to start dropping sanctions and giving war guarantees and opening up the relationship as much as we can. And hopefully, we’ll get to nuclear weapons, but the most important thing is establishing a peaceful relationship. So that at the very least those nuclear weapons are less of a danger. And then instead and and they gave a speech, it was a Stephen vegan from the State Department gave a speech where he said, yeah, we recognize that we’re going to do the right thing. And then Nope, the policy was yet to give up all your nukes first and then we’ll think about beginning to treat you fairly after that. Yeah, right, which in other words, the George W. Bush Barack Obama policy of self inflicted destruction of the negotiations. And then now they say all those crazy old North Koreans, you just can’t negotiate with them when they have every opportunity in the world. And, you know, Trump appointed the swamp to run his foreign policy department and so even though he really wanted to do this, he let them sabotage it and sabotage it. They did. Oh, wait, I lost your audio there. Go ahead. Start again.
Eric Margolis 33:39
Oh, john bolton was a prime sag sabotager chords with Korea and he really was spear point of screwing them up and would try again. I think the greens and Not gonna get rid of the nuclear weapons, I’d be crazy to do that. So, but they’ll also be even more crazy to watch them in the United States. So they’re only useful as they’re as long as they’re sitting on the ground with electricity going through them, right?
Scott Horton 34:19
Yeah, that’s thing. We don’t sit around cowering about British or French, or even Chinese nuclear weapons because, yeah, we get along with them. They’re not threatening us with them,
Eric Margolis 34:28
or Indian or Israeli nuclear. Quite right. And in fact, you know, as I pointed out, periodically, we in the United States are in violation of the strategic nuclear arms weapons treaty was it 1952
Scott Horton 34:50
the non proliferation treaty or something else,
Eric Margolis 34:52
and then did the not exactly we were violation because the treaty records called for all nuclear powers to start getting rid of dismantling their nuclear arsenals? Yeah, we know that. We’re demanding that the Koreans do it.
Scott Horton 35:09
Yep. And meanwhile, we’re also pledged to respect the rights of other countries to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. And yet we don’t pretend the Iranians are building weapons when we are government pretends the Iranians are building weapons when they know good and well that they’re not and that they’re absolutely within the letter and the spirit of the law, and they go after him anyway.
Eric Margolis 35:32
That’s really well that’s a whole separate issue. But I think the Korean nuclear weapons technology missile and warhead technology oh boy come from China. And the Chinese are right in there. So if we plan to do some anything violent about North Korea, we better take into account dealing with the red Chinese and right next door how many Americans know that right next door to North Korea is Russia.
Scott Horton 36:00
Right, they do shorter. Huh?
Eric Margolis 36:03
Well, so that’s right, then the other is with the Russians.
Scott Horton 36:07
And listen, when you say that, you know, it would be crazy for them to give up their nuclear weapons, you know, implying because what America might do to them if they didn’t have them. That. I mean, because that might sound incredible to people are incredibly cynical to people who don’t know. But when you mention how john bolton had been such a detriment to the policy negotiation here, what he did was he said, we want to pursue the Libyan model. In fact, Trump has been trashing them on Twitter recently saying he blew up the whole negotiation with that, which is true. And what that meant was that bush W. Bush had brought Gaddafi in from the cold in 2003. After, as you say, qaddafi gave up all the junk that he bought from the Pakistanis just so he could give it up. Not that he had an actual nuclear program of any kind. But anyway, He gave all that up for a PR stunt for bush for Bush to let him back in from the cold. And just a mere eight years later, Barack Obama murdered him to death and overthrew and destroyed his country. And if that’s the Libyan model, then obviously the message to the North Koreans that john bolton was clearly deliberately trying to send was, you’d be a fool to trust us and negotiate away your nuclear capability, because he would prefer a confrontation. So it was a credible threat. In other words, he didn’t just say, yeah, we might screw you over. He cited a country that we did this to just a couple of years before.
Eric Margolis 37:45
It was a hell of a good warning.
Scott Horton 37:47
Yep. And they sure took it seriously.
Eric Margolis 37:50
Right. It made a lot of sense. Yep.
Scott Horton 37:54
All right. Well, anyway, so I’m glad to hear that it sounds like you think that this current set of conflicts in the Himalayas are going to probably peter out, scale back down, right?
Eric Margolis 38:10
Right. Don’t start restocking your bomb shelter yet. But it’s something that we should keep an eye on it. It’s a fascinating conflict. And it’s an area in the world that nobody knows anything about. So worth watching.
Scott Horton 38:25
Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time again on the show, Eric, great to talk to
Eric Margolis 38:30
you. Always enlightening. Talking to Scott. Cheers.
Scott Horton 38:35
Bye bye. All right, you guys. That is the great Eric Margulies. The books are war at the top of the world and American Raj liberation or domination and check out all his great articles at Eric margulies.com split like Margolis. Eric Margulies calm. The Scott Horton show anti war radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Mike Maharrey untangles the complex web of legal history that has given America the system known as qualified immunity, which in practice shields police officers from just about any civil lawsuit. The doctrine, which has emerged out of the precedents set by repeated federal court rulings, makes it almost impossible to sue state agents for constitutional violations or other damages suffered during the performance of their jobs. This is mainly because the courts have decided that unless there is specific precedent for the situation the officer finds himself in, discretion must be left up to the officer. In the prominent cases this has meant that if a cop shoots a civilian, as long as other cops say that the shooting was reasonable at the time, the officer will walk free. Maharrey calls for a system that doesn’t rely so much on strict interpretation of specific legal precedent, but instead can allow a judge and jury to use some common sense in adjudicating each situation, the way common law systems operated prior to the founding of the United States. However qualified immunity comes to an end, Scott and Maharrey agree that it is the most important first step in creating a more just police system.
Discussed on the show:
- “How Federal Courts Gave Us Qualified Immunity” (Tenth Amendment Center)
- Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics
- Cop Block
- “Rep. Justin Amash Wants To End Qualified Immunity. Where Are the Republicans?” (Reason)
- “Tamir Rice’s Basically Reasonable Murder” (Simple Justice)
Mike Maharrey is National Communications Coordinator for the Tenth Amendment Center. He is the author of three books on nullification and hosts the Thoughts from Maharrey Head podcast. Find him on Twitter @mmaharrey10th.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. Alright you guys introducing the great Mike Maharrey from the 10th amendment center and also from the libertarian Institute where he writes sometimes, but this one’s at the 10th amendment center. And I think we reprinted it too anyway. But yeah, it’s called how federal courts gave us qualified immunity. Welcome back to the show my carry you
Mike Maharrey 0:59
Hey, Scott, I’m doing great. Always happy to be on with you.
Scott Horton 1:03
Great. I hate this subject, but it’s so interesting. But it really is right where the rubber meets the road. So make everyone understand everything there is to know that you know about this subject. Go.
Mike Maharrey 1:19
I’m gonna try to make it as simple as I can because
Scott Horton 1:22
no man make it complicated. I want to know everything, everything.
Mike Maharrey 1:26
Well, I don’t want people to get lost in it.
Scott Horton 1:28
Okay, start with a summary and then tell me everything.
Mike Maharrey 1:32
All right. Well, let’s let’s first off just in case some people don’t know what qualified immunity is that we probably ought to start there. Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that basically shields cops from liabilities, when they take actions in the line of duty. So, you know, cop shoots your kid while he’s trying to kill your dog. You can’t sue the cop for shooting your kid because he was doing it in the line of duty and the crazy –
Scott Horton 1:57
criminal liability or just civil liability
Mike Maharrey 1:59
This is civil liability. So and really when you get down to violating the Constitution, and that’s really what you get down to, with these with these types of lawsuits, you know, it’s not criminal, it’s always civil. And that’s how you ended up with with this mess in the first place is that people had to sue in order to protect their quote unquote, constitutional rights. So let’s go back kind of to the, to the beginning, where all of this started really kind of started with the passage of the 14th Amendment, which ensured that every citizen is is protected based on their basic privileges and immunities, as they call them. And it was passed, in essence, to make sure that black people who had just been freed from slavery would have the ability to access all of the things in society that any other citizen could access. So, you know, things like being able to buy land or travel across state lines or access the court system. So that’s what the 14th The minimum was really intended to do in the 1870s, they passed this law was one of the Civil Rights acts. And it gave people the right to sue, or to sue a state agent under federal law in the federal courts. And so this was to really kind of put teeth into 14th amendment. So if some state agent somewhere, you know, denied your rights to transfer land or whatever, you could sue in federal court, and it makes sense when you think about it, you know, if it’s the, if it’s, you’re in a southern state, and there’s all these racist, black codes and all this stuff, they wanted to give people a remedy, a way out, in order to hold the government responsible, really no problem up to this point. There was always a presumption of immunity to some degree for a state agent doing their job. And think of it simply Imagine if you know you’re arrested on legitimate probable cause You eventually go to court, you’re proven innocent. You can’t sue the cop for arresting you falsely, you know, he’s trying to do his job. And there’s always there’s always nebulous situations and evidence, new evidence comes to light later. So it was always presumed. But in the early days, the way qualified immunity was handled is basically handled on a case by case basis, under what was known as common law. You know, so going way back to the 17 1800s back into the British court system, the judges would have some discretion in protecting state agents from doing their job. It wasn’t until the Supreme Court got involved in the 1970s that we really started to see this doctrine of qualified immunity grow up to what it is today where virtually every police officer in the entire United States is protected under this, this giant legal umbrella and essentially it allows them to Do whatever the hell they want to, without having to worry about any kind of recourse whatsoever. It started with this case called bivins. And you hear about people suing under bivins. And it was originally just applied to federal agents, it allowed people for the first time to sue federal agents for violating their rights. that’s it in a nutshell, that statute that I talked about under the Civil Rights Act passed in 1870, that only applied to state agents. So bivins was a court case, that kind of stablished this idea that you could sue a federal agent for violating your rights. Then there was this series of court cases that came after bivins that created this idea of qualified immunity. And as these court cases evolved, it got more and more difficult to actually hold a federal agent accountable. And what eventually happened the criteria today is that it has to be A willing violation of an established right that’s already established in law, which means it’s already established in the court system. Well, if it hasn’t happened yet, it can’t be established. So you have this vicious circle, it’s almost impossible to prove that they violated a, an established, right? Because there’s so many, you know, multiple situations that can happen. And a defense attorney can always say, well, that’s never happened before, how could he have known? And so that’s where we are today where we’re ultimately it’s almost impossible to to sue police officers to hold them accountable, to ensure that they are punished for doing things that are, you know, obvious violations of our rights. And all of this was created by the federal court system. Now, the incorporation doctrine which we talked about the last time I was on this show, kind of gets involved here too, because like I said, the ribbons case only apply applied to federal agents, but eventually the took that bivins criteria and through the incorporation doctrine, applied it to state and local agents as well. So you’ll very rarely if ever see a state agent sued a cop sued under that Civil Rights Act, that original statute, it’s always through the bivins cases, which are now just completely a product of the Supreme Court. So that’s that’s kind of the the nutshell of where we are today. The qualified immunity is not anything that’s written into law. It’s something that supreme court justices have created over time. And it’s a it’s a prime example of how government protects its own. You know, we always think, well, then the courts are going to protect our rights. So we’re going to sue in federal court and we’re gonna get our rights protect, it never works, because the federal courts are part of the federal government. They’re part of the government system. These are government employees. They may have, you know, law degrees, but they’re still just government employees. Their bread is buttered by the government. They’re not getting To protect your rights, they never protect your rights. And this is why we’re in a situation today, where you see cops getting away with these egregious horrible things. And nobody can do anything about it because they just plead qualified immunity. And since it has gone through this incorporation doctrine, you can’t sue in state court because it’s going to get bounced to the federal level, the any cop that sued is going to insist that it’s remanded to federal court where he has these protections. So you can’t even have a situation where, you know, maybe some states could do something and, and in qualified immunity, you can’t do it. It has to be done on the federal level, it ultimately is going to have to either be an overturning of the doctrine by the courts, or Congress is going to have to take action and actually pass a law to get rid of qualified immunity. So hold your breath through either one of those things happening but, you know, puts me in a weird situation. I almost always say don’t try to do things through the federal government, but really, Congress is the only the only people that can solve this because just last week, the Supreme Court rejected several cases where they could have actually gone back and rein this in a little bit. But they said, Now, we’re gonna let these stand in. The cases that they turned down are pretty egregious One of them was a police officer who shot a 10 year old kid in the back of the knee. The cop was trying to shoot the pet dog. I mean, this is this is like the this the, the mocking stereotype of cops, right, you know, shoot the dog. Well, you miss the dog and shot the kid. And the federal courts up through the appellate court have held that Yeah, the the COP is not liable for doing that because he has qualified immunity. He was doing it on the job and it doesn’t violate a quote unquote, established right. So the supreme court could have gone into that and, you know, maybe overturned that and reined in this qualified immunity but they said they didn’t want to do that. And then another one of the cases that was there was that a, a cop? Basically sicked his police dog on some poor soul who was already basically in custody live On the ground. And the The court said that the law did not, quote clearly establish that it was unlawful or unlawful for police to deploy a Khaimah canine against the suspect who has surrendered. So it’s not established in law, so therefore the cops can do it, and it can never be established in law because the courts will never hear it. And again, the Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom passed on reviewing this this case, and so, you know, qualified immunity stands. So that’s where we are we have a federal court system that’s supposed to be protecting our rights, and they’re allowing cops to walk all over our rights and and not doing anything about it. So that’s it in a nutshell. So
Scott Horton 10:45
well, you know, it’s interesting because on the dog issue, I mean, cops do have the authority under law to initiate confrontations with people and use force if they have probable cause to take someone into custody and all these kinds of things, but one that seem much more clear cut. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong on that. I’m just saying it is what it is. But the one that was more clear cut was the case where they just outright stole a quarter of a million dollars from these businessmen, and they just stole it. And the Court refused to hear that there’s not a law on the books that says, or there’s not a court precedent anywhere in America that they could cite where cops ever got in trouble for stealing. And so how could a cop know that it’s against the law to steal money?
Mike Maharrey 11:29
Right? Yeah, it’s absurd.
Scott Horton 11:32
And we’re not saying to buy themselves a fancy new police cruiser, but for their own personal they just put in their own accounts. Yeah. bought their wives gifts or whatever with it.
Mike Maharrey 11:42
I mean, even looking at some of the things like you know, like you said, yeah, of course police have the authority to utilize the canine to to, to subdue a suspect. We can grant that and we could debate you know, whether that’s that’s,
Scott Horton 11:57
hey, I was only conceding a kernel of truth to the Aside there just say, you know, at least they have some kind of argument. Whereas when it comes to just putting money in your pocket, there’s no argument for that.
Mike Maharrey 12:07
All right, let’s, let’s, let’s kind of flesh that out a little bit. Think about, you know, let’s think about this in this particular situation. You know, every situation has limits, right? I mean, you know, obviously, cops have the right to detain you, they don’t have the right to detain you under any circumstance. So you could say that the police have the right to utilize these dogs, but not under any circumstances. It seems to me that any person utilizing an ounce of common sense, is going to look at a situation where a police officer deploys a dog on a person who is already lying on the ground who has given up who is not running, not resisting who’s just laying there, that that’s not right, in in a sane judicial system, even in the system as it existed back, you know, say in 1870s, when they passed the Civil Rights Act, in this statute, that statutes number 1983 case anybody wants to look it up. But, you know, under that situation, the courts would have to look at that and make a determination of did he crossed the line? The world we live in now they don’t even look at it. They just say, Oh, well, he was doing his job qualified immunity. We’re not going to examine this. That’s the problem. There’s no discretion anymore. It’s just blanket Oh, the cop was just quote unquote, doing his job. Okay.
Scott Horton 13:23
Mike. So what do they call it, their criminal immunity that they have? Because it’s not just lawsuits. Don’t they cite the qualified immunity doctrine to say that they can’t be prosecuted unless in the most absolutely egregious circumstances?
Mike Maharrey 13:40
I don’t think that that that’s not so much like, like, qualified immunity civilly is a legal doctrine that is cemented into the the statutes. When you get into criminal liability, then it really comes down to the discretion of the prosecutors.
Scott Horton 13:58
So it’s just de facto qualified,
Mike Maharrey 14:00
I was getting ready to say it’s de facto because again, not only do the Supreme Court protect their own, but all government agents tend to protect the government. Think about the the prosecutors work with these cops on a daily basis. They’re not they don’t want to, they want to prosecute their buddies, you know, they hang out and have doughnuts together and stuff, you know, not to play on a stereotype but to play on a stereotype. And, and so yeah, you have a de facto situation. So what happens is you have prosecutors who are reluctant to bring a case. criminally, you have a population who by and large, still respects police officers, I think, you know, despite maybe that’s changing for the good, but, you know, generally in the population people defer to authority. So they think, Well, you know, what did the that’s the first question people ask when you talk about excessive force. Well, what did the guy do? Did he resist you know, so it’s hard to get a jury to prosecute a cop. So what happens is Prosecutors are reluctant to take the case to prosecute it unless there’s a lot of public pressure. I guarantee you that if it had not been videoed, the guy that stomped on George Floyd’s neck would never have been prosecuted, right? That’s just that’s just a given. Right? There’s video. So you know, that changes the equation. So what happens is the only reason not only that
Scott Horton 15:21
the video went viral, right, because there are a lot of times where there’s video and they still skate.
Mike Maharrey 15:27
Well, yeah, that’s true. And it’s interesting, because, you know, I’ve been telling people not to, not to side track with too much here, but I’ve been telling people for years I’ve been talking about police violence, I found an article that I wrote like in 2013, talking about excessive force. The case was actually in New York City, where this poor I think he was Chinese didn’t speak English very well. He’s 84 years old, got nabbed for jaywalking. So the cops are, you know, they’ve got them and they’re trying to write him a ticket for jaywalking. He doesn’t understand what they’re saying why they’re detaining him. He doesn’t speak English. He kind of decides he’s gonna walk away. So they throw them on the ground, they rough them up, they beat the hell out of them. And, you know, I’ve been talking about this for years and years. And people who follow police violence, you know, if you follow some of the the websites cop block different websites, you can find these examples almost every single day. So you right, you have to have this huge upswell of public pressure in order for prosecutors to to take action. So what happens is people think, Okay, well, one remedy I have, I can sue in federal court, and because he violated my rights, and then that’s now blocked, because we have this doctrine of qualified immunity. This has to change this is when you talk about police reforms. This is this should be the number one top of the list is to is to roll this back, because it makes it impossible to hold people accountable. And the basic premise of the justice system is that every individual should be accountable. And just because, you know, I work for Government agency doesn’t let me skate but in the world we live in working for a government agency every single time. Let’s escape. It’s pretty disgusting.
Scott Horton 17:09
Yeah, I was just reading thing this morning. It must have been a reason I guess about how a mosh has a bill to abolish qualified immunity, and the democrats in the house, are wrapping it up in a big bill with a bunch of things that will never pass, right as a poison pill essentially. And then they’re up against john Cornyn and the Republicans in the Senate who’ve already vowed to kill it. And corns excuse is that? Oh, yeah, right. Then From now on, everyone who’s ever arrested, gets to sue the cops who arrested them and put them through all this hell, which as you were explaining, was never the case. before the Supreme Court instituted this, judges love to throw out a lawsuit against a cop on a summary judgment without even glancing at it. It’s set in the most egregious cases anyway. Right.
Mike Maharrey 19:46
Right. And you know, as with a lot of things, the market kind of handles some of that stuff anyway, if you’re an attorney, you’re not going to take some frivolous case and in and try to prosecute, prosecute a cop. You’re not gonna do You’re not going to risk your reputation. You know? And, you know, yeah, you’re gonna get flipped frivolous lawsuits. What would you rather have a few frivolous lawsuits or a situation where, you know, a guy can shoot a kid because he’s trying to shoot the kids dog. And there’s no remedy for that. I mean, I’ll take I’ll take the frivolous lawsuit side of that thing every single time.
Scott Horton 20:22
All right now, here’s my problem. I tried and failed to get Scott H. Greenfield to be a guest on the show. He has a rule. I don’t do interviews, growth, growth growth, he said, and so that was it. But everyone should follow him on twitter at Scott Greenfield on Twitter, and he’s a civil rights lawyer guy. And his blog is called Simple justice, a criminal defense blog. And I tell everybody to read this thing. And I don’t know Mike, because I tell everybody I don’t remember if that includes you. In the past, I tell everyone to read this piece. Tamir Rice’s basically reasonable murder. And this is about of course, this story of the 12 year old boy Who was playing with a toy gun at the park and the cops pulled up and the guy in the passenger seat just jumped out and blew the kid away without a moment’s notice. And they had an independent investigation. And as Greenfield says here, the conclusion was foregone. The murder was reasonable. And then what’s great about this piece, and I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this, and and, you know, I should have gone to law school, but I never did. Okay, I don’t know about this stuff. But um, he kind of takes us through layers of different qualified immunity decisions here. So it’s not just that, well, there’s no explicit precedent for this exact crime. So how was he to know which is part of it? But it’s also that whatever they do, the only kind of question, well, I guess the way to put it would be, whatever the exactly as the wording, the law in your state is, if you kill me, then you have to prove essentially the burden is on You to show that you absolutely had to do it, you had no choice but to but to commit a justifiable homicide. But for them, the only question is whether it was reasonable. And then reasonable, as he writes, and this is, you know, four or five different decisions on down the line kind of anything. reasonable, it turns out can only be defined by other cops because only they know what cops know. And all other cops know is that whenever a cop kills somebody, of course he had to. And so they’re the only ones who can decide it’s not up to the jury to decide what’s reasonable. It’s only up to, you know, the cops, lawyers, experts to say, Oh, yeah, I would have taken the shot to and then you have to go with it like you’re bound by that if they have a witness who will say that, then you have to defer to that perspective of what was reasonable or not rather than your own and all of this kind of thing, and I’m not exactly Fisher, this is the exact same qualified immunity doctrine or this is all parallel, you know, decisions that go along to passing out and essentially licenses to kill to these cops.
Mike Maharrey 23:13
Yeah. Yeah, actually, ironically, I just read that article. Maybe when I was researching researching for the article that I wrote, thank goodness within the last so you
Scott Horton 23:24
can comment on what I just brought up out of the blue then. Thank goodness.
Mike Maharrey 23:29
Yeah, absolutely. So you know, there’s a couple of things that you can that you can pull out of that. And the first thing is that it is such a twisted web of court decisions and I didn’t go to law school either, like working for the 10th amendment center for the last 10 years. I’ve spent a lot of time reading bills I’ve written some model language for legislation so I’m, I’m pretty fluent in legalese, probably like somebody who who is not a native speaker, but lived in another country for a few years. So, you know, I kind of get it. But you have to be a lawyer to really untangle the entire web of things. And, you know, I went through about five or six Supreme Court cases in my article, but he goes through a bunch more. And there’s even more than that. I mean, you, you get into appellate court cases, and it’s this huge, tangled web. And, to me, I think one of the things that it shows a weakness in the legal system as it has evolved over the last hundred years or so. And, you know, it’s kind of evolved along with the whole idea of statute law, that we have to interpret law in the way that some legislator somewhere has written it. So we have statutes now, as opposed to what we used to have, you know, prior to the founding of the United States where law was primarily what was known as common law. And I think a common law system is a much better system than this kind statutory and judicial precedent law that we have today, in a common law case, a judge and jury is going to look at every individual case. And they’re going to rule based on the situation that’s in front of them. And they’ll apply past rulings and past, you know, precedents and whatnot, but they’re not necessarily bound to it. It’s more of a common sense system if that if that’s a good word to use, where you look at it, and it’s it’s the reasonableness in the mind of the juror, as opposed to what we have today where everything has to defer to the court case, we have to defer to Well, this judge said X, Y and Z at this point. So we have to go with what this judge said and the jury doesn’t have any discretion. It’s it’s a horrible system that first off it’s impossible to really untangle it and understand it unless you’re an attorney and second off it pulls common sense out of the equation, it all comes down to how do you interpret these words that are written on paper somewhere? And so you end up in a situation where like you said, the the cop has to decide what is reasonable, because that’s what the precedent says in the in the legal system, and there’s no room for the jury to look at it and go, Wait a minute, maybe gunning down a kid with a toy gun isn’t reasonable, which obviously it’s not. And I think I got it.
Scott Horton 26:30
So that’s where, see I just had the two and the two, but I wouldn’t equal in four here. It’s this is why the clearly established doctrine is there is because otherwise, it’s left up to the cop to decide. And in that case, anything he decides is reasonable. And so the only exception then, would be if there’s a specific ruling that said that the exact same scenario was illegal, which is He said, we’ll never be established because it’s never been established. So it can’t be established.
Mike Maharrey 27:04
Exactly. So you end up with this this weird legal I got Whirlpool that you can never got out yet get out of it’s perfect. And and then the second thing that I think is important to understand about the US legal system is that judges and lawyers put so much weight on precedent, that once something is established in jurisprudence, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it no matter how awful and bad that it is. So this is a prime example of what we’re talking about with the Supreme Court rejecting hearing these other cases because they don’t want to have to go back and say that the court was wrong. They don’t like to undo things that are already done. So when you see an awful court ruling come down from the Supreme Court, you’re almost always stuck with it forever. They might try to finagle out of it someday using a different road. But they’ll never go back and say, Oh, we were About that just doesn’t happen, because precedent is almost set to the level of, you know, Holy Writ handed down on stone tablets from on high. And, again, it’s a horrible system because in a sane world, a court would go back and say, you know, that ruling back there in 1967 was stupid. And Ill, Ill thought, and we shouldn’t have this. So we’re going to overturn it almost never happens. They’re going to defer to the wisdom of the prior courts. And I’ll give you a perfect example. Dred Scott awful decision, effectively said that, that black people, even if they weren’t, even if they were free, black people couldn’t be citizens of the United States because they weren’t part of the compact. Dred Scott stood for ever until the 14th amendment came along and actually changed the Constitution. There was no court that ever overturned Dred Scott. They had to actually amend the constitution to ensure that black people actually had citizenship. Yeah, courts don’t like to own Return precedent. That’s why even today, you know, the Supreme Court has said that it’s perfectly constitutional to locked up Japanese Americans in an internment camp. Because we think they’re a quote unquote security threat or, you know, a threat to national defense or national security. That’s still in effect, there’s no turn that they’re not going to because they don’t like to admit that they made a mistake.
Scott Horton 29:22
Yeah. I’m so sorry that we’re out of time, because I could talk with you for the rest of the afternoon. But I sure appreciate you coming on to address this important subject with us here, Mike.
Mike Maharrey 29:32
Yeah, I appreciate having me. I hope people check out the article because it lays out the court cases, and you can kind of get a better you know, how this came about.
Scott Horton 29:40
I’ll be another minute late for my next guy. Um, it’s important to read because this came up earlier in the show about how this is really a matter of keeping your eye on the ball. And we have this huge cultural shift toward police reform right now what’s it going to look like? And there are a lot of takes Some of them pretty wild. Meanwhile, there are some very clear and narrow things that could be changed that would make a world of difference such as overturning qualified immunity, legalizing cocaine and heroin and methamphetamine and getting rid of, you know, a few other things that really are like flipping switches and changing everything. abolishing the 1033 program and the Department of Homeland Security melts, you know, some of these things. So that’s really the point of me doing this great interview with you who wrote this great article is to show that this is where the rubber really meets the road here. This is the license to kill. Is this a fight immunity?
Mike Maharrey 30:42
I’ll say something here that you’ll very rarely hear me say. But, uh, Matias bill needs to be supported because this is something that has to be done at the congressional level. Normally, I’ve tried to find state solutions. You can’t fix this at the state level because everything gets bounced to federal court. So you know, if you’re inclined To call your congressman which I never had been, this would be a good reason to do it because this needs to go through this needs to be passed.
Scott Horton 31:07
Okay, great. Thank you again so much. My appreciate it. Thank you, buddy, everybody. That is the great Mike meharry. He is at the 10th amendment center. That’s 10thamendmentcenter.com. This one is called how federal courts and gave us qualified immunity a great one. The Scott Horton show anti war radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
Scott talks to Jacob Sullum about the many ways policing in America disproportionately targets black and hispanic communities, both by means of explicitly racist policies, and also those that have racially skewed impacts without necessarily having been conceived that way in the first place. Sullum cites many examples of the disparate treatment of black and brown people that are difficult to dismiss with explanations based on differential crime rates or heavier police presences in certain neighborhoods. He also reviews some of the history of the war on drugs, a policy that has, perhaps above all others, been responsible for the cruel victimization of American minority communities for decades.
Discussed on the show:
- “Racially skewed policing is not a statistical mirage” (Chicago Sun-Times)
- “The Wire (TV Series 2002–2008)” (IMDb)
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jacobsullum.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. Alright you guys introducing Jacob solem, senior editor at Reason magazine and writer of great stuff all the time, too much for us to fit. In today’s show. Unfortunately, I have a hard stop in quarter of an hour here. But I want to start at least with this really important racially skewed policing is not a statistical mirage. And this goes to a very important debate about systemic racism in America in American policing. And what that even means exactly and who may or may not actually be collectively guilty of it, and all kinds of stuff. So welcome the show. Thank you for joining us, Jacob. How are you?
Jacob Sullum 1:26
All right, how are you?
Scott Horton 1:27
I’m really good. appreciate you joining us here. So well, do like you do in the piece here. Take us through some of the statistics. Help us understand the landscape and then tell us what it all means you think.
Jacob Sullum 1:41
Okay. Well, I mean, there are very clear racial disparities in law enforcement. I think a lot of conservatives and republicans want to say that you have to look at crime rates. Perhaps you have to look at I don’t know how to say this without sounding racist. You have to look at how black people react when they have encounters with police versus how white and black. I’ve heard that as well. But I think that if you look at the data, these are not adequate explanations very clearly. And I’ll just give you a few examples. When people do have encounters with police, according to a national survey that’s sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Black people are much more likely about two and a half times as likely to report that the police officers use or threatened to use force. That’s hard to explain by reference to differential crime rates. When you look at drivers who are stopped by the police for routine traffic violations. One study after another all across the country has found that blacks Drivers are much more likely to be searched than white drivers. And when they’re search, the searches are much less likely or less likely, in any case, to turn up contraband. So that suggests that the amount of evidence that’s required to search black people is less than the amount of evidence that’s required to serve wipers. I don’t see any any good explanation of that other than racial bias either, you know, conscious bias bias or, or unconscious bias. It has to do with which drivers sample at least some police officers doesn’t have to be every police officer deemed suspicious, right? What makes you think this guy might be carrying drugs? And of course you have lots of anecdotal reports. This is less systematic but still very striking. If you talk to any black man in America, it’s likely that he has more than a few stories to tell about being pulled over by blue I’ll just give you a couple of examples that are striking because they come from sources. On the right. You’ve got Tim Scott, who’s the only republican senator who is black. And a few years ago, he gave a speech where he talked about his experience with police stops. And he said he’s been stopped seven times in a single year. Typically, for no clear reason, and he suspected it was because he was driving a nice car in the wrong neighborhood. He’s even been hassled by police on Capitol Hill, who challenged him, you know, asking what what was he doing there even though he has a pin that identifies him as a senator. Now, seven times I don’t know about your experience with cops and seven times in a single year. That’s a lot of traffic stops. You have a similar story from theater Johnson, who wrote a piece for National Review recently. Who said that between his 16th birthday when he retired from the military, which is a 20 year career in the military even stopped about 40 times by police. Now, in my entire life, I’ve been stopped fewer than 10 times I would say, certainly not more than 10 times. So that’s a lot of traffic stops. Now this is anecdotal, obviously. But but but the more people you talk to you more, the more you realize how common experiences. So that doesn’t mean every cop is a bigot. It doesn’t mean that American society is systematically racist. But it does mean that there is a problem here that goes beyond just a few bad apples, which is how the president puts it. It’s not just a matter of a few bad cops who are prone to abuse, but it looks like a substantial portion are driven by bias and some of the decisions they make. There’s also this issue of race neutral policies or policies that have nothing to do with race, but have striking disproportionate impacts on black people. So one example is enforcement of marijuana laws where black people are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as white people, even though they’re only slightly more likely to be marijuana users. Now, does that mean that they’re being systematically targeted because they’re black people probably not probably has to do with where police are putting the resources. If they’re focusing on high crime, low income neighborhoods, then you’re going to expect a disproportionate number of black people to be arrested for marijuana possession just on that basis. That might also be the case that people with smaller homes are more likely to smoke pot outside in which case they’re more likely to be caught by the police. Right? But that sort of thing is very troubling, I think, even if you don’t believe that it is actually motivated by racial bias. Now, I mean, marijuana prohibition in historically was very clearly motivated by racial bias, but we don’t have to believe that Police nowadays continue to act based on that bias. to note the fact that you have these great troubling disparities.
Scott Horton 7:07
So I think a lot of this goes to the definition of systemic and what exactly it all means here it sort of Well, I think it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It seems like one definition could be that if I Dream of Jeannie made every cop black, that the issues would still exist, because they’re built into the system itself rather than even necessarily the attitudes. Have any particular cops, although, obviously that does come into play.
Jacob Sullum 9:04
Yeah, I guess I’m leery of that term systemic racism. Okay. It’s not clear what it means it’s ambiguous. I think it is definitely true that we have a bunch of policies that lead to these outcomes. Those policies are not necessarily motivated by racial bias at all. But just to give you a few examples, police have vast discretion to stop drivers. The Supreme Court has said anytime a police officer thinks someone has committed a traffic offense, no matter how trivial, they have the authority to pull somebody over, even if their motivation is to investigate other matters. Right. So if I think this guy seems suspicious, I think he might be carrying drugs or maybe some seasonable cash. I just noticed that there’s something tail light or he didn’t properly signal a lane change or whatever, you know, basically complete Police can stop you at will, given how many different rules there are about maintenance and operation of cars. So that so the Supreme Court has said they can do that, even if their real intent is to see maybe this guy is carrying drugs or maybe he has some cash vacancies. So, if you create a situation like that, then even if not that many cops are racially biased, whatever cops are racially bias haven’t now have an opportunity to exercise that bias. And what that means is that black people are going to be searched more often on average, and they may may be victimized more often by not just please going through the cars but perhaps seizing whatever cash they have on hand because larger amounts of cash and considered inherently suspicious. And once the cash is seized, you know this has to do with civil asset forfeiture. Once the point for cash is seized a police it’s very complicated and expensive to try to get it. back. So especially if it’s a relatively modest amount of money, people are inclined to just give up, especially if they don’t have other savings that they can use to pay lawyers fees. Right. So that’s a real problem. And that’s not to say, oh, when they created civil civil asset forfeiture, they really wanted to stick it to black people. I don’t think that’s true. But it’s just a consequence of that policy. And you have similar issues when it comes to pedestrian stops. And the Supreme Court has said, police can stop a pedestrian if they have reasonable suspicion that he that he’s engaged in criminal activity, and then they can pack down that person if they if they have reasonable suspicion that he is armed, you know, to protect themselves. So those are the rules, but those rules are routinely flouted in stop and frisk programs across the country, especially if you look at New York City. You see that in nine out of 10 cases, people are being stopped, supposedly based on reasonable suspicion. There’s no arrest. There’s no citation. Even more striking when the people are searched extensively for weapons, right? They first of all, almost never find guns. And that’s that was the main justification for Neeraj Bergen was to get guns off the street, and then they rarely find any other kind of weapons. So that tells you that police very often are making stops and doing pat downs that are not consistent with the Fourth Amendment as the Supreme Court has interpreted it. That’s a very broad problem. And it is not a racial problem, per se, but it has racially disproportionate consequences.
Scott Horton 12:33
Right. You know, I’m thinking of, it’s a common touchstone for these sorts of issues is the TV show the wire, where the cops, one of the lessons from there is the cops refer to all these people who live in the government projects. They’re all shit birds, and everybody else is a taxpayer, where taxpayer is a human being actually worthy of, you know, possibly protection. You know, if they don’t get there had been in but everybody else who’s not a taxpayer they’re, you know, essentially dehumanized and and treated so much worse. And it’s obviously as you’re saying here, it’s not directly related to race, but boy, is it indirectly related to race, right? And that and then the only thing that counts only thing that can protect you is juice. That’s what they call it. If you know somebody who knows somebody with a little political power, and to me, I always thought that this was the most obvious thing that if cops go picking on a random white guy, there’s like a one in 20 chance that his uncle’s a judge or something like that, and it might cost them their ass, but if they go picking on a random black guy, there’s much less chance that he knows somebody who knows somebody or is going to have a lawyer who golf’s with the judge or is going to be able to get out of it in a way or or even. You know, it makes it much less likely that’s gonna blow Back on them, they’re actually gonna get in trouble for enforcing an unjust login somebody like could happen if they go to the nice side of town.
Jacob Sullum 14:08
Yeah, I mean, look, it’s impossible to imagine something like stop and frisk happening in a white affluent neighborhood. Now the police will say we’re going where the crime is right. And that tends to be a poor poorer neighborhoods, which tend to be disproportionately black and Hispanic. And that’s why we that’s why you see these numbers. It’s not because we’re racist, which is fair enough. But the reality of it is that that middle class white people do not have to be worried about being hassled by police for no good reason. Whereas black people do, so that he can say, Well, our motives are pure, which may be true, but the result is not equal treatment under law. for sure.
Scott Horton 14:51
Yeah, and the important point here, I think, well, there’s a lot of different ones, but one of them is that you know what, even if this is not all directly about Race. It sure is understandable why it sure does seem like it to black people. When when did it stop being about race, it was always about race going back all into history. And so now it maybe, obviously is less worse than it was. But it’s not like they were ever free and everything was fine. And now, things are slipping back for some different reason. You know, certainly from their point of view, it makes sense. Also, I think that they would imagine that the average white guy has any kind of political power, certainly, they would probably assume that we would have more power than they do. And so they feel like forsaken that it’s not just the cops. It’s the 65% white population of the country, because they’re not going through it. Don’t give a damn what happens to them if they’re stopped and frisked and thrown up against the wall or their son. You know, and so no wonder they are so upset. I would be too.
Jacob Sullum 16:07
And and if you look at the history of the war on drugs, it was explicitly racist when it started out openly and explicitly racist in terms of which drugs were targeted. They were the drugs used, not our drugs, the drugs, the those people use, right. So Mexicans, blacks, Chinese immigrants, those were the drugs that were targeted. Does that doesn’t mean that that sincere drug warriors nowadays are racist, but you still see these racially disproportionate impacts. And what one really telling example, I think, is the legal distinction under federal law between the smoked and snorted forms of cocaine where even today I mean this the disparity has been reduced, but it still exists. crack cocaine offenses are punished more severely powder cocaine defenses. Now that distinction was supported at the time was established by black politicians. They said, you know, the crack is devastating our neighbors, we need to do something about this. So they supported these heavy penalties. But it turned out what that meant is that federal crack defendants who were overwhelmingly black, we’re getting more severe sentences than powder cocaine offenders who are much more likely to be white or Hispanic. First, actually the same crime. In other words involving the same amount of the active ingredient, right? Same drug, just different forms of it.
Scott Horton 17:37
I’m sorry, we were so out of time here. I’m over. I gotta go. I just got to add to and I know, you know, to the SWAT rates. I mean, imagine the trauma of having a Delta Force type, you know, paramilitary night rate at 4am. How your children would feel if that happened at your house, and it does happen on the poor and the darker side of town in a way That local news doesn’t cover most of the time and even when they don’t shoot somebody kid or dog still going through that is just it’s far more than than this society should tolerate anyone having to put up with it’s just crazy but I’m sorry I gotta go but thank you so much and I’m so sorry I didn’t get to all these other great things that you wrote that I wanted to ask you about but everybody go read Jacobs solemn at reason. calm. Thank you again.
Jacob Sullum 18:25
Scott Horton 18:28
The Scott Horton show anti war radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org