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From Curtis LeMay to Benjamin Netanyahu, with love

Posted on July 30th, 2014 in War by Robert Miller
Guernica Spain after Luftwaffe destruction 1937

Guernica Spain after Luftwaffe destruction 1937

If you haven’t seen enough blood oozing from the mangled bodies of the children of Gaza, victims of “collateral damage” from Israel’s invasion, stick around and turn the page—this is how Israel goes to war—it is the policy of Israel, dictated by the government, though hotly denied by Benjamin Netanyahu, to kill civilians, borrowing from Curtis LeMay’s strategy developed during WW II, wherein he stated that “the more people you kill the more quickly you end the war:” LeMay made no distinction between civilians and military operations and neither does Netanyahu. Indeed LeMay’s bombing policies, honed to perfection in the WW II bombing of Japan, used combinations of incendiary devices to make bombs, including napalm, white phosphorus (Israel has used white phosphorus on Palestinians before) and magnesium. These bombs are designed to ignite and burn homes and villages, while burning people alive. On March 9-10, 1945, LeMay destroyed 16 square miles of a residential space in Tokyo, killing 100,000 civilians and the destroying 250,000 buildings. It was the single most destructive bombing of the second World War. During that bombing, planes flew low to maximize their firepower and those that made their bombing runs late in the day complained of the sickening stench of human flesh that caused many crew members to vomit.

A sobering message on the magnitude and risks for the very young in Gaza can be appreciated from a recent report on YouTube. Killing civilians, including women and children was part of the battle plan which Curtis LeMay, a WW II Army Air Force general, formulated as the new bombing policy for America, formulated from what he learned in England under Arthur “bomber” Harris. He was probably the American  singularly most responsible for implementing the policy and celebrating it as a way to quickly win wars. LeMay remarked towards the end of WW II that if the Axis allies won the war, he would be tried as a war criminal. Yet, no one argued with his logic: if you kill more of the enemy and they surrender even a day earlier than they would otherwise, you have saved American lives.

When did we start targeting civilians? It all began in WW I, when urban bombing was carried out by the Germans, British, French, Italians and Austrians who  bombed each other’s cities; escalation of this tactic took place when Hitler and Mussolini combined in support of Franco as he succeeded in establishing a Fascist state in Spain in 1939. It was during the Spanish Civil war (1936-1939), on April 26, 1937, when the German LuftwaffeCondor Legion” and the Italian Fascist Aviazione Legionaria began a bombing campaign named Operation Rügen in which they attacked the Basque Spanish city of Guernica. For Hitler’s Luftwaffe and Musolini’s Legionaria this was an experiment to see if they could flatten a city and effectively remove it from the map through air warfare techniques: it worked,  the destruction of Guernica proved to be the model by which the Luftwaffe attacked targeted cities once WW II got underway; the attack purposely targeted civilians. You may recall that Pablo Picasso painted his famous Guernica as a result of the destruction of the city. During WW II, the Germans made no distinction between military and civilian targets and, eventually, neither did we.

By the end of WW II city flattening was practiced by both sides. When I was visiting Frankfurt a few years ago, a German friend took me next door from where we were holding a scientific meeting. The church building we entered happened to be the only building left standing in the entire city of Frankfurt, as a result of the carpet bombing practices by the allies during WW II. The church was left purposely untouched because it was a church; but the rest of Frankfurt was completely flattened. After the meeting I acquired several photographs of the destruction the allies inflicted on Frankfurt: millions of Germans were killed as a result of our bombing during WW II and not all of them were Nazis. But by then the gates of Hell had been opened up and mercy was in short supply.

When the Japanese indiscriminately bombed cities in China at out outset of their invasion, in 1937, the United States voiced strong opposition on moral and ethical grounds to the indiscriminate bombing of civilians. When WW II began in Europe, FDR pleaded with the combatants to avoid “inhuman barbarism.” When the American Air Force began participating with the British Air Force in bombing Nazi-held territory, spreading eventually to Germany itself, the Americans were initially reluctant to indiscriminately bomb civilian targets; they wanted to confine their bombing to military installations or those essential for making the instruments of war.

In 1942, Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur “bomber” Harris was put in charge of Churchill’s new policy of bombing the urban centers of Germany. He studied the Fascist bombing of Guernica and adopted those strategies against targets in Germany. From then on the gloves were off and cities like Frankfurt and Berlin were eventually turned into rubble. Curtis LeMay participated in some of the early bombings in Germany, as he was transferred to England in 1942. He teamed up with “Bomber” Harris to devise the most destructive fire-bombing which reined down on cities like Dresden. The policies that Curtis LeMay helped formulate would guide the American wars in Korea, where pilots calibrated their guns by strafing and killing women working in the fields and later in Vietnam where killing civilians was part of the American policy dictated from the Generals on down. If you believe that Mi Lai was an aberration, I urge you to read Nick Turse’s excellent bookKill Anything That Moves: the Real American War in Vietnam.”

No attempt was ever made to modify Curtis LeMay’s bombing policies and because the United States and Israeli armed forces work hand in glove, you can rest assured that Israel is currently practicing LeMay’s policies, modified for the circumstances.  It helps to also have a growing radical right fringe element in your society to provide backing for these government policies. Today there is an emerging right wing radical element within Israel, going through the streets of Israel’s cities shouting “death to the Arabs” and “death to leftists.” The Israeli government is guilty of war crimes and genocide against the Palestinian people. Although there are voices of moderation within Israel itself, the government pays no attention, as they continue to heed the call to arms first issued by Curtis LeMay.


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Another Coup for CitiGroup

Posted on July 16th, 2014 in Economy by Robert Miller

CitiGroup was created in 1999 by the Financial Services Modernization act: eight years later the economy collapsed into the Great Recession, the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression in the 1930s

Robert Scheer, writing in Trudig explains how lightly CitiGroup got off, paying only a $7 billion fine, when in fact their outrageous practices led to a $ 16 trillion, or 24% loss of household wealth.  The legislation that allowed conventional banks to morph into investment firms was passed under Bill Clinton, who said, [from Scheer] “Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services of industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority,” a beaming Clinton boasted after signing the Financial Services Modernization Act into law in 1999.” It took only 7 or 8 years after that legislation was passed to send our economy into the Great Recession from which we have never recovered and from which any recovery will involve a reduction in worker wages, because most of the jobs coming back are in the restaurant and services sector where too many face minimum wage restrictions. The $7 billion fine prevented a public trial where the shameful nature of Wall Street Greed could have and should have been on trial.

From Scheer “The collapse of the derivative market that [Larry] Summers predicted was immune to “fraud and counterparty insolvencies” plunged U.S. household worth $16 trillion or 24 percent between the third quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2009, according to a study by the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank.

That’s trillions of dollars, not the $7 billion fine that Citigroup just got slapped with as a means of avoiding the harsher judgment in a court of law that the bank and its politician enablers so richly deserve.”

To this day, none of us know whether the public will once again be required to bail out Wall Street while Main Street gets the shaft. If anything should have been learned by the Democrats after the financial crash, it is that they must engage in class warfare to get worker’s wages back to middle class levels, something that cannot be achieved if half the Democrats side with Wall Street and continue to align themselves with what should be their natural enemies. Yes, this means higher taxes on the wealthy and less corporate subsidy. If anything, the middle class was wiped out by the Great Recession, to the extent that there was anything left of it. The growing power of the Democratic party won’t amount to a hill of beans if workers wages don’t become the new epicenter of Democratic ideology. We must begin by elevating the status of labor unions and insist on returning the National Labor Relations Board into a more powerful organization, such as that which existed under FDR.


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