In the rational days of the 1950s red blooded Americans trusted their government and believed that their democratically elected representatives were doing what was right for the U. S. of A. The threats of the Cold War had galvanized America, already brimming with the patriotic self importance of a newly emerged Super Power, into the champion of freedom and democracy; the torch bearer of liberty in a dark world that was being enslaved by godless socialists. Of course this was all just an illusion and while the scales fell from our eyes as America lost its innocence in the second half of the 20th Century a growing discontent with the corruptions of government and the unrestrained corporate greed that has led to the destruction of our common prosperity has given rise to a growing culture that yearns to stand against our illuminati overlords; to expose their secret cabals and to overthrow their plans for world domination. As this innocence evaporated with the enlightenment of discovering the truth about what our leaders and the captains of industry had been up to a plethora of conspiracy theories were spawned in the fertile imaginations of the drug addled counter culture revolutionaries so that everything from the assassination of JFK to the moon landings became fodder for nutters who saw shadows in everything and mistrusted so thoroughly that they really didn’t know what to believe in the end.
Contingencies for a Spontaneous Outbreak of Peace
Probably the most quintessential of all government conspiracy theories revolves around a document called The Report from Iron Mountain in which a panel of experts presented their findings on the socio-economic impact of a ‘spontaneous and persistent outbreak of peace’. Dating to 1967 the anti-war protestors of the day seized on the document with fervor and it was soon relegated to the fringe territory of the conspiracy theorists. The Vietnam War was a tough lesson for America and the many parallels between the handling of that conflict and the management of the current wars against terror have given the short document a second life. In the forty-five years since the publication of the Report from Iron Mountain many of the things that it recommended have become legislated reality as successive governments climbed further into bed with the armaments manufacturers and their subsidiaries via the thinly veiled façade of monetized politics.
The main thrust of this controversial document was that the stability and perhaps even the survival of Western society depended upon running some sort of war economy. The report showed that due to modern production methods that everyone would very rapidly acquire the material goods that they needed and that the wastefulness of war was a way of creating the need to continue to manufacture. It was postulated that a state of persistent peace would be deleterious to the economy and if the government was intending to shift to a peace economy that it would need to find some substitute for war to generate an artificial need for mass manufacturing. Obviously the United States Government chose to stick to the time honored traditions of the war economy as Vietnam was replaced by the massive escalations of the late Cold War that destroyed the Soviet economy in the 1980s. With the end of Reagan’s ‘Evil Empire’ the United States was in need of a new adversary and we began the long and costly series of wars in the Middle East and Africa. Weapons manufacturers have never had it better. In this light whether the Report from Iron Mountain was a fraud or not (I tend to think not) it was right and so it has returned to relevance as American’s look more critically at their leadership and the decisions that have been made on our behalf.
Newt and the Warmongers in Washington
In his pitch to become the next President of the United States Newt Gingrich is promising to reveal the truth about America’s foreign policy but as an old war horse on Capitol Hill it hardly seems likely that he is suddenly going to become a beacon of light for world peace. The constant evasion of the Bush government, in which Gingrich was a major player, means that he probably really does know what motivated Bush to attack Iraq, especially in light of the discovery that there were no real WMD at all and the motives for a new war would have been driven from within the GOP ruling junta of the day.
The real result of the Iraq War hasn’t been to stabilize the region, in fact the war has, of course, made things worse. The conflict that Obama inherited was already a losing proposition and the best that he ever could have done with it was minimize US losses as he withdrew; another embarrassing and futile military engagement that the US didn’t and probably couldn’t ever win. Newt has been on board for the whole time and so he probably really does know what the real goals of Bush’s foreign policy actually were but what will he tell us that we don’t already know? Will he really tell us that the United States has been propping up totalitarian states in order to maintain a profitable marketplace for the armaments manufacturers? That Bush took America to war because it would generate trillions in US government spending and create thousands of jobs? That in exchange the weapons industry has funded the political aspirations of sympathetic candidates to make sure that the gravy train keeps rolling? While these naked facts about the way that our elected official have all jumped into bed with the wealthiest corporations in the world aren’t really surprising, the fact that these issues are actually included in the GOP candidate’s election platforms is.
Gingrich himself is adding fuel to the crazy fringe conspiracy theorists by saying that the Palestinians aren’t a real people anyway and that the good old U. S. of A is engaged in a struggle for its existence with radical Islamists who want to destroy the West and establish a world wide Caliphate. When Glenn Beck rolls out the war maps and makes sweeping generalizations about the Muslim world it is entertainment but when a potential President of the most powerful nation on the planet says it then it becomes just downright frightening.
While Muslims make up a meager 4.7% of the US population they are being portrayed by a small number of radical activists like Robert Spencer on his Jihad Watch website as being an ever present evil that should be stamped out of western society. Even Glenn Beck who quotes Jefferson with one breath and disseminates anti-Muslim religiously intolerant ranting about the Arab Spring with the next doesn’t seem to see that the religious freedoms that America has been admired for across centuries is being threatened by their drivel. It is only a small number of people that are proselytizing against the evils of Islam but they have a loud and compelling voice that has been heard by the middle classes and so has put religion firmly in the 2012 election spotlight.
Meanwhile Gingrich continues to change his position on most issues with an Orwellian regularity and as a well practiced master of the double-speak that goes with re-writing the present for mass consumption is never likely to tell the truth about anything anyway.
Mitt Romney’s Corporate Buddies and Christian Right Wing Fascism
While the Christian Right have been busily demonizing Islam with dire prophecies of the Arab Spring sweeping across the developed world and plunging us all into a new dark age the real action is in fighting the War on Terror. When Bush’s Republican caucus came up with an enemy that was incapable of being defined or even located they had invented an ultimate threat to America’s security and sovereignty that would last and last in a way that even George Orwell couldn’t have conceived. As America poured untold trillions into a largely secret war conducted furtively under the cover of national security we also slowly and incrementally had our constitutional rights stripped away until now the ones terrorizing the people are the Homeland Security mandarins and their lickspittles in the CIA and FBI. But out of all of this who really stands to gain the most?
Mitt Romney’s pals in corporate America will certainly continue to do alright out of a long and protracted war against an enemy that can’t quite be defined and may or may not be operating within the borders of the United States itself. And who better to lead America through the modern Crusade against radical Islam than a devoted fundamentalist Christian. After all, Obama might even be one of the Saracen hordes, he certainly isn’t a poster boy for real Christians who want the controlling voice in running the country even though the number of practicing Christians in America is rapidly dwindling to a minority status. Of course the religious beliefs of any American are no one’s business but their own but a President that sits in the Oval Office talking to God about the decisions that he is making while he is supposed to be rationally running the country for all Americans is a dangerous dichotomy. Romney has backed away from the fundamentalist Right over the course of his campaign but his supporters have not and the call for America to become a Christian state have continued to grow from those sectors of society that desire to control the beliefs of the masses with their creationist revisionism and fear driven bible thumping. Romney is so firmly associated with the fundamentalist Christians that recently Nobel Prize winning author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel publicly asked him to personally intervene in the practice by his Mormon church of baptizing deceased Jews by proxy in their services. Can a Mormon, whose religious doctrines have condoned 650,000 of these proxy baptisms and who has admitted to having participated in such intolerant and abusive practices be trusted to maintain the constitutional separation of church and state?
As popular as quoting the Founding Fathers has become with the GOP candidates in recent years they are selective in their quotations and elastic in their interpretations of the words of wisdom left to us by the brightest of minds that America has ever produced. In the land of the free the words of Thomas Jefferson now go unheeded-
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” Can we ever afford to bring that wall down?
In his bestselling book The Creature from Jekyll Island, Edward G. Griffin puts forward a (conspiracy) theory that the wealthiest elite, the banks of the world and the giant international corporations have colluded in the enslavement of the people of the world by destroying the value of their currency, imposing taxes and degenerating their standard of living. While the Fabian Society and its Keynesian strategies for concentrating the wealth of the world into the hands of the few may just really be the extreme imaginings of the eccentric fringe dwellers that see shadows in everything the pandering to the banks and corporations that has bankrupted what was once the wealthiest nation in the world runs very close to the picture that Griffin painted in 1994. While previous Presidential candidates’ relationships with corporate America were seen as potential assets to a sitting President, in the current race the press has hounded Romney about his connections so continuously that they have exasperated him, causing his most famous gaffe when he declared that ‘Corporations are people too.’ In the days after he said that there was a popular meme going around Facebook that said: ‘I will believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one’. The internet is perhaps the one place where the freedom of speech actually exists in practice and so it is fitting that Romney should get the people’s answer from their most democratic place.
Rick Santorum, Gay Rights and Muslim Socialism
Santorum’s campaign has had to deal with the former Senator’s long held and well known stance against same sex marriages which has made him especially unpopular with younger voters that may have been expected to support such a young candidate. Although he has tried in the past to hose down the bad press that his statements about gay rights on the campaign trail his views have continued to dominate many of his encounters with the voting public and as recently as January 5 while speaking at the College Convention in Concord New Hampshire he was booed off of the rostrum after comparing gay marriage to unrestrained polygamy. In answer to a question from the audience asking why he opposed gay unions he made the rhetorical reply,
“Are we saying that everyone should have the right to marry?” When members of the crowd answered in an emphatic voice for the affirmative he made a stellar leap in logical thinking and replied, “So anyone can marry can marry anybody else, so, if that’s the case, then everyone can marry several people.” How he had arrived at this conclusion from a simple question about whether any two people that wanted to should be allowed to marry is for anybody to guess but the wisdom of choosing to become the standard bearer of traditional American family values by extolling the virtues of marriage in the modern world is somewhat questionable with almost half of all marriages ending in divorce and first marriages lasting for a median of just eight years. He mustn’t have made himself familiar with the modern statistics on marriage in America that shows that the traditional institution upon which he places so much value is seriously in decline. If things continue in their current direction it may be that the only ones that want to get married into the future are gay couples.
If Santorum has been unable to fathom even these obvious facts about the society that he lives in how can he hope to understand the complexity of America’s foreign relations, especially in the culturally alien Arab world? On February 12 while addressing a rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa he said,
“… we have to re-brand the war, is because we need to be accurate as to who we’re fighting. Are we fighting all terrorists? And the answer to that is clearly no. There are terrorists in other parts of the world that we are not engaged in, and have no interest from national security point of view from engaging in. The other issue is, is this a war on terrorism? Well what is terrorism? Terrorism is a military tactic. Can you be at war against a military tactic? … You go to war against what we’ve always gone to war against. You go to war against a virulent ideology that seeks to harm and destroy America” When did America’s pursuit of the people that were responsible for the attacks of 9/11 turn into a Crusade against the age old Saracen foe? What happened to defending the traditional American value of the freedom of religious belief?
The really disturbing thing about all of this comes when you examine exactly who and what Santorum thinks that we are fighting. A larger part of his campaign in recent weeks has tried to paint Santorum as an expert on Iran and the man with the answers for our relationship with the Iranians. At the core of his ‘understanding’ of Iran is his fixation on the idea that the Iranians are committed to causing chaos across the Middle East in order to hasten the return of the 12th Imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi whose reappearance in the world will usher in a new era of peace with Shi’a Islam as the ruling power in the world. While it is well known that Iranian President Ahmadinijad is a believer in the Mahdi, mostly because of the incessant ranting of the court jester of the extreme right wing Christian lobby Glenn Beck, it is also well known that the belief isn’t embraced by Iran’s religious leaders nor is it widespread in the Islamic world as a whole. Just as Beck has beaten up the 12th Imam to fever pitch so too has he pushed the Islamic-socialist drive for world domination that is supposed to be behind the Arab Spring. When OWS protestors received messages of encouragement and support from Egypt’s Arab Spring democracy movement the right wing press made the same sort of intuitive illogical leap that Santorum made from gay marriages to polygamy when they drew the instant conclusion that the Islamic revolutionaries were now targeting America’s youth. All of this is made even more frightening when Santorum’s quoted stand on how he would handle Iran, and by proxy the rest of the Middle East is considered. When asked if he would declare war on Iran if they didn’t comply with US demands to dismantle their nuclear research facilities (which they are entitled to have under current International Law) Santorum said,
“Declare war? No. But take it out, with tactical strikes to take out this facility.” And his justification for such an unprecedented act of aggression? Iran has already declared war on the United States in 1979 when the embassy staff in Tehran were held for ransom and so there would be no need to consult with either the Congress of the American people before taking such a momentous decision. In fact his understanding of Iran is actually so poor that when the Obama administration failed to back anti-government protests in Tehran in 2009 he attacked the President for not supporting the ‘genuine Arab Spring’ that was starting there, apparently ignorant of the fact that Iran isn’t an Arab country. Even after his misapprehension of the reality of Iran’s non-involvement in any Arab Spring uprisings was pointed out he still persists with making the connection between Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood simply because they are both adherents of the Shi’a sect of Islam. His blanket policy for dealing with the Muslim world seems to be to demonize them in such a way as to make an unprovoked American attack on them more palatable to the voting public and statements like,
“The only difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida is that al-Qaida is more upfront about the violence they’ll use to conquer and accomplish their purpose. But the Muslim Brotherhood is a very dangerous organization, and no one we should be dealing with.” make it clear that if he makes it to the Oval Office that sending more US military to the Middle East to conduct more unwinnable wars is firmly on his ‘to do’ list.
Dr No, the Fed and Fiat Money
The biggest issue facing America in the coming years is the deficit which will be closing in on $16 trillion by the time that the polls open to elect the next President and yet the only GOP candidate that even examines the issue with anything even resembling a financial plan to turn it around is Ron Paul. His campaign webpage resembles an accounting textbook and most of it will be beyond most people’s patience to read through but the bottom line is that he promises to cut $1 trillion in spending in his first year and to only accept the median American salary of $39,336 which sets him apart from the other Republican candidates and, for the most part, from the rest of the Republican Party. Dr Paul has been taking a stand against excessive government spending and has voted against all such increases so often and for so long that he has come to be known as Dr. No by his colleagues in the Congress but what is most notable about Ron Paul’s stand on economics is what he considers to be the source of all of America’s financial woes- the Federal Reserve.
Once firmly in the realm of the most dedicated conspiracy theorists, the subject of fiat money has, in recent years, come to be a serious subject in the up coming elections largely due to Dr. Paul’s efforts to explain why debt based currency is a bad thing to the middle classes who are mostly ignorant of the mechanisms of money and the ways in which the banks manipulate it to maximize their wealth- led by the granddaddy of all banks, the Fed. According to Paul the source of all evil is the Federal Reserve and in his book End the Fed he explains in minute detail how the currency has been constantly inflated to raise the cost and lower the quality of living in the United States. In his Ayn Rand inspired political philosophy the world is divisible into two classes of being, Producers and Looters and in his opinion the government has been given over to the looters who have stripped Americans of the wealth that they had in the middle of the last century. The cure for this, according to Dr. Paul, is to let the too big to fail banks go under, stop propping up the American auto industry and let America’s entrepreneurial spirit have full reign and in time all will be right with the world again.
At a time when the nation needs clear leadership the Republicans are offering only more of the same with a side of weird. Some of the more frightening aspects of their skewed world view and of America’s place in it are genuinely disturbing. That someone who may one day be President would truly believe that we should go to war with a religion, however radical or fundamentalist it may be, is not only the height of ignorance and hypocrisy but also does irreparable damage to the way that the rest of the world views the United States.