Friday, August 07, 2015

Trumps Wild: The Donald Frames America's Electoral Process

Trump's Triumph: Billionaire Blowhard Exposes Fake Political System

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

Last night’s FOX News GOP Presidential Debate Extravaganza featured the most riveting two minute political exchange ever heard on national television. During a brief colloquy between Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Fox moderator Brett Baier, the pugnacious casino magnate revealed the appalling truth about the American political system, that the big money guys like Trump own the whole crooked contraption lock, stock, and barrel, and that, the nation’s fake political leaders do whatever they’re told to do. Without question, it was most illuminating commentary to ever cross the airwaves.

Trump piñatas big seller on
both sides of the border

Here’s the entire exchange direct from the transcript:

FOX News Brett Baier (talking to Trump): Now, 15 years ago, you called yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system. Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?

TRUMP: As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.

What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid.

You know why?

Because the insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians, of course, with the exception of the politicians on this stage. (uneasy laughter) But they have total control of the politicians. They’re making a fortune.

Get rid of the artificial lines and you will have…yourself great plans…

BAIER: Mr. Trump, it’s not just your past support for single-payer health care. You’ve also supported a host of other liberal policies….You’ve also donated to several Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton included, and Nancy Pelosi. You explained away those donations saying you did that to get business-related favors. And you said recently, quote, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”

TRUMP: You’d better believe it.

BAIER: — they do?

TRUMP: If I ask them, if I need them, you know, most of the people on this stage I’ve given to, just so you understand, a lot of money.

TRUMP: I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?

TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why?

She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. It was.

BAIER: Hold on…..We’re going to — we’re going to move on.” (Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Primetime Republican Debate, Time)

There it is, two glorious minutes of pure, unalloyed truth on national television. How often does that happen?

How often does a fatcat billionaire-insider appear on TV and announce that the whole system is a big-fat scam run by crooks and patsies?

Never, that’s when. But that’s what Trump did last night. And that’s why the clatter of ruthless miscreants who run the system behind the smokescreen of fake politicians are sharpening their knives right now before Manhattan’s rogue elephant does even more damage to their precious system.

Just think about what the man said. He not only explained that the whole system is rigged (Baier: “And when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”…TRUMP: “You’d better believe it.”), he also said that the politicians will do whatever they’re told to do. (TRUMP: Well, …with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn’t have a choice because I gave.”)

Doesn’t that confirm your darkest suspicions about the way the system really works, that money talks and that elections are just a way to get the sheeple to rubber-stamp a corrupt, fraudulent system?

Of course, it does.

So, let’s summarize: Moneybags capitalist loudmouth explains to 80 million dumbfounded Americans watching prime time TV, that the system is a total fraud, that the big money runs everything, and that even he thinks the system is broken.

How do you beat that? Seriously, my wife and I were laughing and high-fiving and like we just won the lottery.

Thanks for that, Don. We owe you one.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at

Thursday, August 06, 2015

After the Bomb: Life in Post-Nuclear Nagasaki

Entering the Nuclear Age, Body by Body: The Nagasaki Experience

by Susan Southard  - TomDispatch


Korean and Chinese workers, prisoners of war, and mobilized adults and students had returned to their work sites; some dug or repaired shelters, others piled sandbags against the windows of City Hall for protection against machine-gun fire. In the Mitsubishi sports field, bamboo spear drills in preparation for an invasion had just concluded. Classes had resumed at Nagasaki Medical College. Streetcars meandered through the city.

Hundreds of people injured in the air raids just over a week earlier continued to be treated in Nagasaki’s hospitals, and at the tuberculosis hospital in the northern Urakami Valley, staff members served a late breakfast to their patients. 

One doctor, trained in German, thought to himself, Im Westen nichts neues (All quiet on the western front). In the concrete-lined shelter near Suwa Shrine that served as the Nagasaki Prefecture Air Defense Headquarters, Governor Nagano had just begun his meeting with Nagasaki police leaders about an evacuation plan. The sun was hot, and the high-pitched, rhythmic song of cicadas vibrated throughout the city.

Six miles above, the two B-29s approached Nagasaki. 
Tomgram: Susan Southard, Under the Mushroom Cloud -- Nagasaki after Nuclear War

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: TD has a special offer for you on the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the atomic age. Susan Southard’s Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War is being published this week. It’s a hair-raising, breathtaking look at what the experience of nuclear war was really like through the eyes of five survivors of the Nagasaki bomb, all teenagers. Of it, Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian John Dower writes: “Susan Southard does for Nagasaki what John Hersey did for Hiroshima, and more. She takes us beneath the mushroom cloud with harrowing, damning, eloquent intimacy -- and then through ensuing decades of individual and civic recovery right up to the present day. Nagasaki is scrupulous, passionate, and compassionate history at its very best.” Today, TomDispatch offers a selection from the book. For a $100 contribution to this site, you can get a signed, personalized copy of it. Check out our donation page for the details. Tom

The nuclear age. Doesn’t that phrase seem like ancient history? With the twin anniversaries of the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki coming around again, this is its 70th birthday. Just a year younger than me, it was my age-mate, my companion all those years I was growing up. Those unshakeable fears, the “unthinkable,” turned out to be eminently translatable into the world of dreams. I still vividly recall my own world-ending nightmares from my teen years and I know I’m not alone. Thoughts of nuclear destruction were then part and parcel of our lives. Once, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it felt as if we might not even make it out of this lifetime.

The byproducts of that moment -- raging dinosaurs, world-ending death rays, giant ants, and destroyed planets -- ran rampant in pop culture, the classic stuff of B-movies. In those years, when the U.S. and the USSR were each building their arsenals to unimaginable heights and planning for something like world’s end, all of us were, in a sense, “on the beach.” Who didn’t read Neville Shute’s classic novel (or see the movie) and think about that vast cloud of fallout from the ultimate apocalyptic battle of the Cold War heading south or experience what curtains might mean, even in Australia? Who didn’t read the burgeoning post-apocalyptic mutant pulp fiction of that era even as, with A Canticle for Leibowitz, it became “literature”?

And doesn’t all of that, the fearful and the eerily fun-filled, seem the product of another time, long gone and half-forgotten? And yet here’s the eeriest thing of all: on this very day, nine countries with nuclear arsenals of varying sizes still possess, according to the latest estimates, a total of more than 15,000 such weapons, enough, that is, to obliterate countless Earths. And as it happens, 93% of those weapons are in the hands of either the United States or Russia, both of which are proudly and openlymodernizing” their nuclear stocks -- in the case of the U.S. at a planned cost of a trillion dollars over the next three decades. Consider that a reminder that, in August 2045 on the 100th anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the former Cold War rivals still have every intention of being nuclear powers.

Most unnerving of all, the planners in those countries simply refuse to acknowledge the most basic nuclear facts -- or at least they are utterly unmoved by them and by the thought of the eradication of humanity. It evidently matters little that if those “modest” nuclear powers, India (a mere 110 nuclear weapons) and Pakistan (a mere 120 of them), were to release just part of their arsenals in a South Asian nuclear exchange, the planet would enter “nuclear winter” and humanity would be decimated.

So, on a 70th anniversary in which the madness shows no sign of ending, it’s good to turn to Susan Southard’s monumental new book, Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, which offers a riveting, if chilling plunge into nuclear realities. Among other things, it reminds us that, unbelievably enough, humanity’s nuclear fate was never just prospective, never just a matter of thoughts, or plans, or dreams, or fantasies. Nuclear destruction of an almost unimaginable sort was the initial reality of the atomic age, with such weaponry actually used on two utterly defenseless cities. Thanks to the kindness of the editors of Viking, TomDispatch today takes you directly beneath the mushroom cloud in an excerpt from Southard’s book that follows five teenage nuclear survivors of the Nagasaki bomb through the very first moments of what has become an unending nuclear age. Tom   

 [This essay has been adapted from chapters 1 and 2 of Susan Southard’s new book,
 Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, with the kind permission of Viking.]

Entering the Nuclear Age, Body by Body: The Nagasaki Experience

by Susan Southard 

Major Sweeney and his crew could hardly believe what they saw: Nagasaki, too, was invisible beneath high clouds. This presented a serious problem. Sweeney’s orders were to drop the bomb only after visual sighting of the aiming point -- the center of the old city, east of Nagasaki Harbor. Now, however, a visual sighting would likely require numerous passes over the city, which was no longer possible due to fuel loss: Not only had a fuel transfer pump failed before takeoff, rendering six hundred gallons of fuel inaccessible, but more fuel than expected had been consumed waiting at the rendezvous point and while circling over Kokura.

Bockscar now had only enough fuel to pass over Nagasaki once and still make it back for an emergency landing at the American air base on Okinawa. Further, Sweeney and his weaponeer, Navy commander Fred Ashworth, knew that not using the bomb on Japan might require dumping it into the sea to prevent a nuclear explosion upon landing. Against orders, they made the split-second decision to drop the bomb by radar.

Air raid alarms did not sound in the city -- presumably because Nagasaki’s air raid defense personnel did not observe the planes in time or did not recognize the immediate threat of only two planes flying at such a high altitude. When antiaircraft soldiers on Mount Kompira finally spotted the planes, they jumped into trenches to aim their weapons but didn’t have time to fire; even if they had, their guns could not have reached the U.S. planes.

Several minutes earlier, some citizens had heard a brief radio announcement that two B-29s had been seen flying west over Shimabara Peninsula. When they heard the planes approaching, or saw them glistening high in the sky, they called out to warn others and threw themselves into air raid shelters, onto the ground, or beneath beds and desks inside houses, schools, and workplaces. A doctor just about to perform a pneumothorax procedure heard the distant sound of planes, pulled the needle out of his patient, and dived for cover. Most of Nagasaki’s residents, however, had no warning.

By this time, the crews on both planes were wearing protective welders’ glasses so dark that they could barely see their own hands. Captain Kermit Beahan, Bockscar’s bombardier, activated the tone signal that opened the bomb bay doors and indicated 30 seconds until release. Five seconds later, he noticed a hole in the clouds and made a visual identification of Nagasaki.

“I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” he yelled. He released the bomb. The instrument plane simultaneously discharged three parachutes, each attached to metal canisters containing cylindrical radiosondes to measure blast pressure and relay data back to the aircraft. Ten thousand pounds lighter, Bockscar lurched upward, the bomb bay doors closed, and Sweeney turned the plane an intense 155 degrees to the left to get away from the impending blast.

“Hey, Look! Something’s Falling!”

On the ground below, 18-year-old Wada had just arrived at Hotarujaya Terminal at the far eastern corner of the old city.

Nagano was at work in the temporary Mitsubishi factory in Katafuchimachi, on the other side of the mountains from her family’s home.

Taniguchi was delivering mail, riding his bicycle through the hills of a residential area in the northwestern corner of the city.

Sixteen-year-old Do-oh was back at her workstation inside the Mitsubishi weapons factory, inspecting torpedoes and eagerly awaiting her lunch break.

On the side of a road on the western side of the Urakami River, Yoshida was lowering a bucket into the well when he looked up and, like others across the city, noticed parachutes high in the sky, descending through a crack in the clouds.

“Rakka-san, they were called back then,” he remembered. Descending umbrellas. “I just thought that they were regular parachutes -- that maybe soldiers were coming down.”

“Hey, look! Something’s falling!” he called out to his friends. They all looked up, putting their hands to their foreheads to block the sun so they could see.

“The parachutes floated down, saaatto,” he said. Quietly, with no sound.

A Deafening Roar

The five-ton plutonium bomb plunged toward the city at 614 miles per hour. Forty-seven seconds later, a powerful implosion forced its plutonium core to compress from the size of a grapefruit to the size of a tennis ball, generating a nearly instantaneous chain reaction of nuclear fission. With colossal force and energy, the bomb detonated a third of a mile above the Urakami Valley and its 30,000 residents and workers, a mile and a half north of the intended target. At 11:02 a.m., a superbrilliant flash lit up the sky -- visible from as far away as Omura Naval Hospital more than 10 miles over the mountains -- followed by a thunderous explosion equal to the power of 21,000 tons of TNT. The entire city convulsed.

At its burst point, the center of the explosion reached temperatures higher than at the center of the sun, and the velocity of its shock wave exceeded the speed of sound. A tenth of a millisecond later, all of the materials that had made up the bomb converted into an ionized gas, and electromagnetic waves were released into the air. The thermal heat of the bomb ignited a fireball with an internal temperature of over 540,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Within one second, the blazing fireball expanded from 52 feet to its maximum size of 750 feet in diameter. Within three seconds, the ground below reached an estimated 5,400 to 7,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Directly beneath the bomb, infrared heat rays instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized internal organs.

As the atomic cloud billowed two miles overhead and eclipsed the sun, the bomb’s vertical blast pressure crushed much of the Urakami Valley. Horizontal blast winds tore through the region at two and a half times the speed of a category five hurricane, pulverizing buildings, trees, plants, animals, and thousands of men, women, and children. In every direction, people were blown out of their shelters, houses, factories, schools, and hospital beds; catapulted against walls; or flattened beneath collapsed buildings.

Those working in the fields, riding streetcars, and standing in line at city ration stations were blown off their feet or hit by plummeting debris and pressed to the scalding earth. An iron bridge moved 28 inches downstream. As their buildings began to implode, patients and staff jumped out of the windows of Nagasaki Medical College Hospital, and mobilized high school girls leaped from the third story of Shiroyama Elementary School, a half mile from the blast.

The blazing heat melted iron and other metals, scorched bricks and concrete buildings, ignited clothing, disintegrated vegetation, and caused severe and fatal flash burns on people’s exposed faces and bodies. A mile from the detonation, the blast force caused nine-inch brick walls to crack, and glass fragments bulleted into people’s arms, legs, backs, and faces, often puncturing their muscles and organs. Two miles away, thousands of people suffering flesh burns from the extreme heat lay trapped beneath partially demolished buildings.

At distances up to five miles, wood and glass splinters pierced through people’s clothing and ripped into their flesh. Windows shattered as far as eleven miles away. Larger doses of radiation than any human had ever received penetrated deeply into the bodies of people and animals. The ascending fireball suctioned massive amounts of thick dust and debris into its churning stem. A deafening roar erupted as buildings throughout the city shuddered and crashed to the ground.

“The Light Was Indescribable”

“It all happened in an instant,” Yoshida remembered. He had barely seen the blinding light half a mile away before a powerful force hit him on his right side and hurled him into the air. “The heat was so intense that I curled up like surume [dried grilled squid].” In what felt like dreamlike slow motion, Yoshida was blown backward 130 feet across a field, a road, and an irrigation channel, then plunged to the ground, landing on his back in a rice paddy flooded with shallow water.

Inside the Mitsubishi Ohashi weapons factory, Do-oh had been wiping perspiration from her face and concentrating on her work when PAAAAAHT TO! -- an enormous blue-white flash of light burst into the building, followed by an earsplitting explosion. Thinking a torpedo had detonated inside the Mitsubishi plant, Do-oh threw herself onto the ground and covered her head with her arms just as the factory came crashing down on top of her.

In his short-sleeved shirt, trousers, gaiters, and cap, Taniguchi had been riding his bicycle through the hills in the northwest corner of the valley when a sudden burning wind rushed toward him from behind, propelling him into the air and slamming him facedown on the road. “The earth was shaking so hard that I hung on as hard as I could so I wouldn’t get blown away again.”

Nagano was standing inside the school gymnasium-turned-airplane-parts factory, protected to some degree by distance and the wooded mountains that stood between her and the bomb. “A light flashed -- pi-KAAAAH!” she remembered. Nagano, too, thought a bomb had hit her building. She fell to the ground, covering her ears and eyes with her thumbs and fingers according to her training as windows crashed in all around her. She could hear pieces of tin and broken roof tiles swirling and colliding in the air outside.

Two miles southeast of the blast, Wada was sitting in the lounge of Hotarujaya Terminal with other drivers, discussing the earlier derailment. He saw the train cables flash. “The whole city of Nagasaki was -- the light was indescribable -- an unbelievably massive light lit up the whole city.” A violent explosion rocked the station. Wada and his friends dived for cover under tables and other furniture. In the next instant, he felt like he was floating in the air before being slapped down on the floor. Something heavy landed on his back, and he fell unconscious.

Beneath the still-rising mushroom cloud, a huge portion of Nagasaki had vanished. Tens of thousands throughout the city were dead or injured. On the floor of Hotarujaya Terminal, Wada lay beneath a fallen beam. Nagano was curled up on the floor of the airplane parts factory, her mouth filled with glass slivers and choking dust. Do-oh lay injured in the wreckage of the collapsed Mitsubishi factory, engulfed in smoke. Yoshida was lying in a muddy rice paddy, barely conscious, his body and face brutally scorched. Taniguchi clung to the searing pavement near his mangled bicycle, not yet realizing that his back was burned off. He lifted his eyes just long enough to see a young child “swept away like a fleck of dust.”

Sixty seconds had passed.

“A Huge, Boiling Caldron”

The enormous, undulating cloud ascended seven miles above the city. From the sky, Bockscar’s copilot Lieutenant Frederick Olivi described it as “a huge, boiling caldron.” William L. Laurence, the official journalist for the Manhattan Project who had witnessed the bombing from the instrument plane, likened the burgeoning cloud to “a living thing, a new species of being, born right before our incredulous eyes.” Captain Beahan remembered it “bubbling and flashing orange, red and green... like a picture of hell.”

Outside the city, many people who saw the flash of light and heard the deafening explosion rushed out of their homes and stared in wonder at the nuclear cloud heaving upward over Nagasaki. A worker on an island in Omura Bay, several miles north of the blast, described it as “lurid-colored... curling like long tongues of fire in the sky.” In Isahaya, five miles east of the city, a grandmother feared that “the sun would come falling down,” and a young boy grabbed at ash and paper falling from the sky, only to realize that they were scraps of ration books belonging to residents in the Urakami Valley.

From the top of Mount Tohakkei four miles southeast of Nagasaki, a man loading wood into his truck was “stunned speechless by the beauty of the spectacle” of the giant rising cloud exploding over and over again as it transformed from white to yellow to red. In neighborhoods at the edge of the city, people peered out of windows and stepped outside to see the atomic cloud rising above them, only to bolt back inside or to nearby shelters in anticipation of a second attack.

Inside the city, the bomb’s deadly gale quieted, leaving Nagasaki enveloped in a dark, dust-filled haze. Nearest the hypocenter (the point on the ground above which the bomb exploded), almost everyone was incinerated, and those still alive were burned so badly they could not move. In areas beyond the hypocenter, surviving men, women, and children began extricating themselves from the wreckage and tentatively stood, in utter terror, for their first sight of the missing city. Twenty minutes after the explosion, particles of carbon ash and radioactive residue descended from the atmosphere and condensed into an oily black rain that fell over Nishiyama-machi, a neighborhood about two miles east over the mountains.

Nagano pulled herself up from the floor of the airplane parts factory and stood, quivering, rubbing debris from her eyes and spitting dust and glass fragments from her throat and mouth. Around her, adult and student workers lay cowering on the ground or rose to their feet, stunned and bewildered. Opening her eyes just a bit, Nagano sensed it was too dangerous to stay where she was. She ran outside and squeezed herself into a crowded mountain air raid shelter, where she crouched down and waited for another bomb to drop.

“The whole Urakami district has been destroyed!” one of the male workers called out to her. “Your house may have burned as well!” Nagano fled from the bomb shelter and ran toward the Urakami Valley. Outside, the neighborhood around the factory was almost pitch-dark and hauntingly still. Large trees had snapped in half, tombstones had fallen in a cemetery nearby, and streets were filled with broken roof tiles and glass. Small birds lay on the ground, twitching. Compared to what she had imagined, however, the damages around her seemed minimal, and Nagano -- who could not see the Urakami Valley -- half believed that her family might be safe after all.

She hurried through the streets to the southern end of Nishiyamamachi toward Nagasaki Station, over a mile to the east, pressing past partially collapsed wooden houses and people fleeing the blast area. As the road curved west, Nagano rushed by the 277-step stone staircase leading up to the seventeenth-century Suwa Shrine, still intact, and Katsuyama Elementary School, just next to City Hall. Forty-five minutes later, Nagano finally passed the mountains that had stood between her and the expanse of atomic destruction.

In front of her, the main building of Nagasaki Station had collapsed. But it was the view to her right that shocked her into finally realizing that the rumors she had heard about the Urakami Valley were true. Where the northern half of Nagasaki had existed only an hour before, a low heavy cloud of smoke and dust hovered over a vast plain of rubble. Nothing remained of the dozens of neighborhoods except tangled electrical wires and an occasional lone chimney. The huge factories that had lined the river near Nagasaki Station were crumpled into masses of steel frames and wooden beams, and the streetcar rails were, in one survivor’s words, “curled up like strands of taffy.”

No trace of roads existed beneath miles of smoking wreckage. Blackened corpses covered the ground. Survivors were stumbling through the ruins moaning in pain, their skin hanging down like tattered cloth. Others raced away, shrieking, “Run! Escape!” A barefoot mother in shredded clothes ran through the wreckage screaming for her child. Most people, however, were silent. Many simply dropped dead where they stood.

Nagano’s house was just over a half mile to the north and west, a 10-minute walk on any other day. She faced in that direction to scan the area, but there was nothing -- no buildings, no trees, and no sign of life where she had last seen her mother and younger brother and sister. Her eyes searched frantically for a way home, but the flames spreading through the ruins prevented access from all directions. Paralyzed and confused, Nagano stood in front of Nagasaki Station, alone, with no idea what to do next.

Susan Southard’s first book, Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War (Viking Books), was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, sponsored by Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation and the Columbia School of Journalism. Southard lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she is the founder and artistic director of Essential Theatre. This essay is adapted from her book.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

From Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Susan Southard

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Keeping the Corpse Quiet: Dead Man Can Speak Truth to MH-17's Fate

The MH17 Pilot's Corpse: More on the Cover-Up - Even His Family Was Blocked from It. Here's Why

by Kevin Zuesse - Global Research

It might be the decisive piece of evidence proving who and what and how and why the MH17 Malaysian airliner over the conflict zone in Ukraine on 17 July 2014 was shot down, but the pilot’s corpse has been hidden even from the people who have the most right to see it.

The corpse of the pilot of the MH17 Malaysian airliner might contain in it bullets, or bullet-residues, that can prove a Ukrainian military jet intentionally fired into the pilot; or else it might contain only missile-shrapnel, which would be consistent only with the plane’s having been erroneously shot down by a ground-based missile such as the Ukrainian government says it was; but the Malaysian government has prohibited anyone to see it — not even his relatives, who are still trying to find out how and who murdered their loved-one and the 297 other people who were aboard that tragic plane on July 17th of 2014.

Until recently, the Malaysian government itself had had no access to the coroner’s report on the corpse: it was done by a Dutch coroner, in Holland.

The corpse has been hidden from everyone, and the Malaysian Government isn’t even being permitted, by the other four nations on the official investigatory commission, to say anything to anyone outside the commission — not even to the pilot’s family. The coroner’s report on the pilot’s body exists, but has been seen by no one outside of the now 5-nation investigatory commission. (The commission was originally just Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and Ukraine, but Malaysia was recently added. The Dutch government heads the commission. The Dutch government had helped to install the current Ukrainian government, whose Air Force is a suspect in having possibly shot down the MH17 airliner. Netherlands, along with the U.S., and also along with George Soros’s International Renaissance Foundation, had funded Hromadske TV, which propagandized heavily for forcing the democratically elected Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, to leave his Presidency before the next election would be held, and which then propagandized Ukrainians heavily for the ethnic cleansing operation to get rid of the residents in Ukraine’s Donbass, the only area of Ukraine that had voted 90%+ for Yanukovych. So: the Dutch government had actually helped to install the current Ukrainian government — which might have shot down the MH17, and yet which is a member of the official ‘investigation.’)

This cover-up of what might be the decisive evidence in the MH17 case was revealed when Russian Television sent reporters last month to interview the pilot’s family.

See the brief Russian documentary interviewing the pilot’s wife here:

The pilot’s wife says, at 5:42 on the video, “We were not allowed to open” the coffin. Q: “Not allowed by who?” A: “Not allowed by the [Malaysian] government.” The existing four-nation team had required the Malaysian government to sign onto their secret 8 August 2014 agreement, in order for Malaysia to be allowed to join. This agreement says that Ukraine will have a veto-power over any report that the commission produces — and this veto-power is the reason why the ‘investigation’ continues dragging on. The now-five nation commission can’t yet produce a report that the Ukrainian government will sign onto.

Then, the interviewer in the documentary says that she had taken her camera-crew to the crash site two months after the plane’s downing, and says that they saw there, still in the field of grass, the pilot’s chair. This video at 6:21 shows it — its bare frame, because the padding had blown off. Here is the pilot’s chair:

Those 30 mm round holes through it are bullet holes; they’re definitely not shrapnel holes, which are larger and very irregular (not at all round). Furthermore, the bullet-holes through the side-panel of the chair’s backrest are fairly head-on instead of at any steep angle; and, so, might have been from stray bullets among the gunner’s fusillade into the left cockpit-side that was focused around the pilot’s belly-area. This chair backrest is thus yet further evidence suggesting that the pilot’s corpse had bullets, or bullet-residues, in it.

For more background on the pilot’s corpse’s evidentiary importance to solving this crucial mass-murder case, see this. For my reconstruction of the evidence, and of where it points to regarding guilt and motive, see this.


On July 29th, Russia vetoed at the United Nations an attempt by the U.S. and its allies to transfer the MH17 investigation to a rigged UN commission that would be set up in order to enable the guilt for the cover-up to be transferred away from Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and Ukraine, the four nations that set up the existing official corrupt ‘investigation,’ whose ‘findings,’ at this late stage, would be believed only by outright suckers in the West — and that number of people might not be enough now to protect the actual guilty parties in the case. Russia wants the guilty parties to bear the blame not merely for the mass-murder itself, but for the subsequent and ongoing cover-ups. If the official ‘investigation’ finds Russia and/or the people of Donbass to have perpetrated it, then Russia will presumably make public, evidence, which it has thus far withheld just in case America and its allies turn out to be that brazen. So, Russia might even be eager for that to happen. The official ‘investigation’ has already announced that its conclusions will be made public in October. Until then, the commission is doing everything they can to forestall, if not prevent, a scandal-squared, from resulting. (For example: if anything, Richard Nixon’s Watergate cover-up doomed him even more than the Watergate-crime itself did.)

Here are some of the typical ways the Western press have reported on Russia’s veto:

Russia threatens UN veto on Julie Bishop’s MH17 tribunal

Why Russia Vetoed the MH17 Tribunal

Alternative solution needed for investigating loss of MH17: Russia’s Security Council veto means other means may be used to find those responsible

For some unexplained (though accepted-without-question by the Western press) reason, the Western powers aren’t satisfied for the official ‘investigating’ commission (though itself entirely Western until the recent addition of Malaysia to the commission) to be blamed for producing the official ‘findings.’ Western leaders had wanted the UN to be blamed instead. Russia voted no on the Western proposal (which was fronted by Malaysia, on behalf of the West); China abstained (perhaps in the hope that the West won’t go after them, too).

The result is heightened fear within the official ‘investigating’ commission. On 3 August 2015, Russian Television headlined “Dutch Safety Board asks for RT’s assistance in MH17 probe after documentary,”and reported that:

The Dutch agency heading the international probe into Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine has contacted RT over the footage used in our recent documentary on the tragedy. RT’s documentary discovered fragments of the plane still in Donetsk.

The RT Documentary film, titled “MH17: A year without truth,” showed fragments of the crashed Boeing and pieces of luggage still scattered in the area at the time of filming. The RTD crew collected the parts of the plane’s exterior they spotted, bringing them to the administration of the nearby town of Petropavlovsk.

“With great interest we watched your documentary, ‘MH17: A year without truth,’” Dutch Safety Board spokesperson Sara Vernooij wrote to RT. “In this film, RT shows parts of the cockpit roof which were found near Petropavlivka. We would like to gather those pieces and bring them over to the Netherlands so the Dutch Safety Board can use them for the investigation and the reconstruction.”

On 17 July 2015, Rupert Murdoch’s Australian Courier-Mail published behind a paywall, and his The Australian republished open on their website, the complete transcript, plus video excerpts, of 17 minutes of video footage that had been taken by the independence fighters in Donbass at the wreckage site while the fires were still aflame on the fateful day, 17 July 2014; and this remarkable footage, never before made public, and published by a lifelong anti-Russian, shows the rebels’ “Commander,” trying to understand what he was seeing, and saying that there are two planes destroyed in the area, one a Malaysian airliner, and the other a Sukhoi fighter-jet, the latter from which had parachuted out five (or else two) people. Someone off-camera in the background is saying, “They decided to do it this way, to look like we have brought down the plane.” In other words: these people speculated immediately that the presence of the downed fighter-jet indicated that the Ukrainian authorities were trying to pin onto the rebels the blame for shooting down the airliner. Here is that link, and the relevant passages in the transcript itself:

“Full transcript: Russian-backed rebels ransack the wreckage of MH17 in shocking 17-minute video”

• JULY 17, 2015 12:01AM

• Video [just an excerpt, but the transcript is complete, only excerpts from which are reproduced here:]

Cmdr: Yes, there’s 2 planes taken down. We need the second.

Background: The second one is a civilian too?

Background: The fighter jet brought down this one, and our people brought down the fighter.

Background: They decided to do it this way, to look like we have brought down the plane. …

Cmdr: Let the firefighters extinguish the flames.

(Phone ringing)

Yes Kalyian. I understood you, but we’re already at the crash site. A passenger plane was brought down. They brought down the passenger plane and we brought down the fighter. …

Cmdr: The parachute jumpers are there.

Background: But there are two planes, from my understanding.

Background: And what’s the other one? A Sukhoi?

Cmdr: A Sukhoi.

The Sukhoi brought down the plane and we brought down the Sukhoi. …

I mean … the two pilots landed on parachutes.

(Phone ringing)

Cmdr: Yes, speak. I’m here, I’m in Grabovo. Right at the place. I’m not at the bird site, I’m in the field. I didn’t get there yet.

Cmdr: Five parachutes jumped off this plane. Five people jumped off this plane. …

Of course, at that chaotic moment, everything was new, and so the assertions by those people (for example, as regards whether there were five parachutists, or only two) were uncertain. One early reader of this article, who looked at that video, made the following insightful observation: “Ironically, the Dutch wanted the piece of cockpit roof of the plane. That piece showed no bullet or shrapnel impacts – which in essence excludes a Buk missile. Buk missiles engage the target from above.” That’s entirely correct. So: Might the Dutch Safety Board actually have been trying to nail down a case so strong against Ukraine, as to now be negotiating with Ukraine Ukraine’s capitulation – the degree of guilt that Ukraine must sign onto in the final report? (Sort of like in a plea-bargain.) How could Obama (whose power stands above all of the nations on the commission) deal with such a situation?


It’s like the way the West handled the 2008 economic crash: extend-and-pretend. While Western leaders transferred their aristocracy’s investment losses onto future taxpayers and pretended that the enormous governmental debts that resulted from these ‘bailouts’ to the aristocracy won’t destroy the economic future for the public, no one can yet say with certainty that they were lying about that. As ridiculous as extend-and-pretend seems to be, no appropriate historical precedent exists to show with any near certainty that no way will be found for it to ‘succeed.’ Russia has apparently placed its bet that it won’t succeed, in regards to the MH17 case.

Russia’s game seems to be: In the short term, we’ll suffer contempt from the West’s suckers while Western leaders keep on doing this; but, the longer the West’s leaders do that, the worse the outcome will be for those leaders.

So: will that game on Russia’s part work? The precedents don’t look favorable:

After George W. Bush kept lying about “Saddam’s WMD,” and became exposed simply by none being found, did his extend-and-pretend on the truth there hurt his Republican Party? They extended the lie so far that even today most Republicans still think that WMD did exist there in 2002 and 2003, and they even think that WMD were subsequently found there — though none of that was at all true. Even in 2015, 51% of Republicans agree with the statement, “American Forces Found an Active Weapons of Mass Destruction Program In Iraq.” (32% of Democrats do. 46% of Independents do.) (40% of Republicans said it was “Definitely not true” or “Probably not true,” but yet even they continued to label themselves as “Republican,” even after their own Party had deceived them for so long on such a crucial matter, which had produced America’s invasion of Iraq.) Despite such brazen lying, the Republican Party still has as many suckers as before. (And, in the Democratic Party, Barack Obama is still overwhelmingly supported, despite being now exposed, to all open-minded people, to be the best asset the Republican Party has hadwithin recent decades.)

Extend-and-pretend can work for a very long time, indeed. Russia’s game could fail. But it might nonetheless be their best chance to win.

If the West’s game succeeds, then the entire world will fail as a result. If some power-group — here, the West’s aristocrats — can get away with lying, no matter how long they persist in it, they might as well own the entire world: the public are then just their slaves. The public might as well have no minds at all. Anyone who accepts a politician who has lied is either an aristocrat or an idiot. There are only a few thousand aristocrats in the world, but there are, it is clear, plenty of idiots — perhaps the majority of people — so that everyone else, the decent people, suffer constantly the many idiots who believe the few aristocrats. That combination is toxic to democracy.

The MH17 case started before the event itself, as Barack Obama’s desperate attempt to get the EU to agree to hiking the economic sanctions against Russia. It succeeded. Now the world is waiting to see what Obama’s long game is, and whether Putin’s long game (which is the only game he’s got) will beat it. Whatever the outcome, it’ll be interesting.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Iran Deal Abject Lesson on How Sanctions Can Bite Back

Iran Nuclear Deal: Why Empire Blinked First

by Sharmine Narwani - RT

We’ve now spent three weeks watching American politicians argue needlessly over the Iran nuclear deal. For or against, they all miss this one salient point: It is the US that needed to end this standoff with Iran – not the other way around.

For years we have been hearing that US sanctions “were biting” and had “teeth.” Sanctions, it was said, would “change Iranian behaviors,” whether in regards to the Islamic Republic’s “support of terrorism,” its “calculations” over its nuclear program, or by turning popular Iranian sentiment against its government.

Here is US President Obama spinning the fairytale at full volume:

“We put in place an unprecedented regime of sanctions that has crippled Iran’s economy…And it is precisely because of the international sanctions and the coalition that we were able to build internationally that the Iranian people responded by saying, we need a new direction in how we interact with the international community and how we deal with this sanctions regime. And that’s what brought President Rouhani to power.”

There is, of course, scant evidence that any of this is true.

If anything, on the economic front, the net effect of sanctions has been to rally Iranians behind domestic production and thrift – establishing both the discipline and policy focus necessary to sustain the country indefinitely. A 2013 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report explains this unintended consequence of sanctions:

“There is a growing body of opinion and Iranian assertions that indicates that Iran, through actions of the government and the private sector, is mitigating the economic effect of sanctions. Some argue that Iran might even benefit from sanctions over the long term by being compelled to diversify its economy and reduce dependence on oil revenues. Iran’s 2013-2014 budget relies far less on oil exports than have previous budgets, and its exports of minerals, cement, urea fertilizer, and other agricultural and basic industrial goods are increasing substantially.”

Sanctions didn’t succeed on the political front either. By in large, Iranians did not hold their leadership responsible for sanctions-related economic duress, nor did they seek rapprochement with the West as a way out. The US continues to flog the narrative that Iranians elected President Hassan Rouhani in a bid to “moderate” foreign policy stances, but a survey conducted by US pollster Zogby Research Services in the immediate aftermath of Rouhani’s election turns that premise on its head:

Ninety-six percent of Iranians surveyed agreed with the statement that “maintaining the right to advance a nuclear program is worth the price being paid in economic sanctions and international isolation.” Of those polled, a mere five percent of Iranians felt that improved relations with the US and the West were their top priority.

No, sanctions have not worked in any of the ways they were intended.

So if the Iranians were not ‘dragged’ to the negotiating table, then what was the sudden incentive behind a multilateral effort to forge a deal in 2015 - 36 years after the first US non-nuclear sanctions were levied against the Islamic Republic, and nine years after the UN Security Council first issued nuclear-related sanctions?

Keep in mind that both the Iranians and the permanent members of the UNSC have offered up proposals to end the nuclear deadlock since 2003. So why, this deal, now?

Could it be that the Americans had simply blinked first?

And the world turned

It must be understood that much of this nuclear brouhaha has nothing to do with Iran actually possessing or aspiring to possess nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic neither has nuclear weapons, nor does it profess to want them.

US intelligence agencies, over the years, have conceded that Iran has not even made the “decision” to pursue weaponization, and the IAEA has repeatedly stated in 52 periodic assessment reports that there has been “no diversion” of nuclear materials to a weapons program.

In short, all the fuss has really only ever been about containing, isolating and taming a developing nation with aspirations that challenge Empire’s hegemony.

Iran was never going to be able to change the rules of the game single-handedly. That is, until the game itself shifted hands and direction.

In 2012, cracks in the global economic and political power structures started to shift dramatically. We started to see the emergence of the BRICS, in particular Russia and China, as influential movers of global events. Whether it was a shift in trading currencies from the conventional dollar/euro to the rupee/yuan/ruble, or the emergence of new global economic/defense institutions initiated by BRICS member states, the world’s middle powers began to assert themselves and project power on the international stage.

But it was in the vast and complicated Middle East arena that old power and new power came to clash most ferociously.

In November 2011, the year of the Arab uprisings, the BRICS announced their first collective foreign policy statement, urging the rejection of foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs.

By 2012, it started becoming clear that the crisis in Syria was being heavily fomented by external players, including the three UNSC Western permanent members, the US, UK and France and their regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and NATO-member Turkey.

In 2012, it also became clear that Al-Qaeda and other militant Islamist fighters were dominating the opposition inside the Syrian military theater and that these elements were being backed by the United States and its allies.

The American calculus, at this point, was to allow and even encourage the proliferation of fighters prepared to unseat the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, anticipating that at some future date they could then reverse the gains of radicals.

Assad did not fall, but extremism – fueled by funding, arming and training from US allies – entrenched itself further in Syria.

This did not go unnoticed in Washington, which has always struggled to make a coherent case for its Syria strategies. The rise of ISIS (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and the flood of jihadists into the Syrian theater began to change the American calculations. The US began to work on hedging its bets…and that is when Iran began to factor significantly in America’s Plan B.

That Plan B began in mid-2012, just as Saudi Arabia’s incoming intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan was preparing for a violent escalation in Syria, one that would exacerbate the Islamist militancy in the Levant exponentially.

That July, secret backchannel talks between the United States and Iran were established in Oman, kicked off, according to the Wall Street Journal, by “a pattern of inducements offered by Washington to coax Tehran to the table.”

Take note that the Americans initiated this process, not the allegedly “sanctions-fatigued” Iranians, and that this outreach began when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was at the helm, not his successor Rouhani.

Iran – or bust

Iran’s elite Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani said a few months ago: "Today, there is nobody in confrontation with [IS] except the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as nations who are next to Iran or supported by Iran.”

If you look at the array of ground forces amassed against Islamist radicals from Lebanon to Iraq, they consist almost entirely of elements allied with the Islamic Republic, or are recipients of weapons and sometimes training provided by the Iranians.

There are no combat forces from Western states and none from their Arab or Turkish allies within the region.

‘Boots on the ground’ are essential in asymmetrical warfare, but the US military will continue to oppose inserting its troops into direct combat situations in Syria and Iraq.

In a Telegraph op-ed on the eve of the Vienna nuclear agreement, Britain’s influential former ambassador to Washington Christopher Meyer wrote:

“Whether we like it or not, we are in de facto alliance against ISIL with Assad of Syria and with Iran, the implacable foe of our long-standing ally, Sunni Saudi Arabia…. if ISIL is able to expand further in the Middle East, won’t this unavoidably lead to the conclusion that our strategic ally in the region for the 21st century must be Iran?”

This is the conundrum Washington began facing in 2012. And so it set in motion a face-saving strategy to enable itself to “deal” with Iran directly.
The Vienna Agreement

Here’s what the Iran nuclear deal does – besides the obvious: it takes the old American-Iranian “baggage” off the table for the US administration, allowing it the freedom to pursue more pressing shared political objectives with Iran.

The Iranians understood full well in Vienna that they were operating from a strong regional position and that the US needed this deal more urgently. The Americans tried several times to get Iran to expand discussions to address regional issues on a parallel track, but the Iranians refused point-blank. They were not prepared to allow the US to gain any leverage in various regional battlefields in order to weaken Iran’s position within broader talks.

Although the Iranians are careful to point out that the Vienna agreement is only as good as the “intentions” of their partners, this deal is essentially a satisfactory one for Tehran. It ensures rigorous verification that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program, which is great for a country that doesn’t seek one.

It also provides Iran with protections against ‘over-inspection’ and baseless accusations, dismisses all UNSC resolutions against the Islamic Republic, recognizes the country’s enrichment program, provides extensive international sanctions relief, binds all UN member-states to this agreement (yes, Israel too) and nails down an end-date for this whole nuclear saga.

The deal also frees up Iran to pursue its regional plans with less inhibitions.

“What the president (Obama) and his aides do not talk about these days — for fear of further antagonizing lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have cast Iran as the ultimate enemy of the United States — are their grander ambitions for a deal they hope could open up relations with Tehran and be part of a transformation in the Middle East,” reads a post-Vienna article in the New York Times.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, commenting after the deal, said: "I know that a Middle East that is on fire is going to be more manageable with this deal and opens more potential for us to be able to deal with those fires, whether it is Houthi in Yemen or ISIL in Syria and Iraq than no deal and the potential of another confrontation with Iran at the same time.”

“The Iran agreement is a disaster for ISIS,” blares the headline from a post-agreement op-ed by EU foreign affairs chief Frederica Mogherini. She explains:

“ISIS is spreading its vicious and apocalyptic ideology in the Middle East and beyond…An alliance of civilizations can be our most powerful weapon in the fight against terror…We need to restart political processes to end wars. We need to get all regional powers back to the negotiating table and stop the carnage. Cooperation between Iran, its neighbors and the whole international community could open unprecedented possibilities of peace for the region, starting from Syria, Yemen and Iraq.”

Clearly, for Western leaders Iran is an essential component in any fight against ISIS and other like-minded terror groups. Just as clearly, they have realized that excluding Iran from the resolution of various regional conflicts is a non-starter.

That is some significant back-tracking from earlier Western positions explicitly excluding Iran from a seat at the table on Mideast matters.

And stay tuned for further policy revisions - once this train gets underway, it will indeed be "transformative."

As for the Iran nuclear deal…except for some hotheads in Congress and the US media, most of the rest of the world has already moved on. As chief US negotiator and undersecretary for political affairs, Wendy Sherman said recently: "If we walk away, quite frankly we walk away alone."

The balance of power has shifted decisively in the Middle East. Washington wants out of the mess it helped create, and it can’t exit the region without Iran’s help. The agreement in Vienna was reached to facilitate this possibility. Iran is not inclined to reward the US for bad behavior, but will also likely not resist efforts to broker regional political settlements that make sense.

It was not a weak Iran that came to the final negotiations in Vienna and it was not a crippled Iran that left that table.

As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (for once) aptly observed:

“It is stunning to me how well the Iranians, sitting alone on their side of the table, have played a weak hand against the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain on their side of the table. When the time comes, I’m hiring (Iran’s Supreme Leader) Ali Khamenei to sell my house.”

Iran just exited UNSC Chapter 7 sanctions via diplomacy rather than war, and it's now focusing its skill-sets on unwinding conflict in the Middle East. If you're planning to challenge Empire anytime soon, make sure to get a copy of Iran's playbook. Nobody plays the long game better - and with more patience.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online,, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others. You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani 

Serving LAPD Impunity and Protecting Power from Journalistic Scrutiny: LA Times Firing of Ted Rall

Cops Gun Down un-Armed Journalist's Career: LA Times Fires Ted Rall - Evidence Blows Up in Newspaper's Face

 by Greg Palast - Reader Supported News

August 5, 2015

Ted Rall is a lying, fantasist scumbag.

Or maybe, just maybe, the LA Times,complicit with the Los Angeles police, have slandered and slimed America’s toughest critic of police violence.


The story: On July 27, the LA Times fired their long-time columnist and cartoonist Ted Rall for fabricating a story of police misconduct. The LA Times’ evidence? A tape recording provided by the LAPD. Problem was, the tape was muffled—possibly tampered with.

When audio experts cleaned the garbage interference on the tape—uh, oh!- the LAPD and LA Times accusations fell to pieces.

The details: On May 11, Ted Rall wrote his umpteenth column in the LA Times, LAPD's Crosswalk Crackdown: Don't Police Have Something Better to do? about gang violence: the gang is the LAPD. This was Rall’s lightest jab of all, a satirical remembrance of when, 14 years earlier, a cop put him in handcuffs for a simple jaywalking ticket.

Unbeknownst to Rall, the jaywalker-stalker cop had recorded this big bust. The LAPD dropped the tape on the Times.

Ted Rall’s new book-length comic, 
Snowden will be released August 25.

Pre-order it from Amazon, B&N & others and get him on the 
bestseller list – or make a tax-deductible donation 
and get a copy signed by Ted.
100% of the proceeds will go to Rall’s defense. 
Or lend you support by making a No Gift Donation.
(Rall is a Fellow of The Palast Investigative Fund)

The police source said the recording and other info proved Rall was lying. That the tape proved that Rall had never been handcuffed – nor, as Rall wrote in his column, was there a group of onlookers complaining about the cop’s over-kill.

In other words, ‘they’ said and the Times accepted, Rall just made up the whole handcuff-and-crowd thing to smear the LAPD. On that basis, LA Times editor Nick Goldberg printed and signed a big-splash editorial saying, in effect, Rall had committed the unpardonable sin of fabricating a story—and Rall was fired.

This, of course, would end Rall’s career as a syndicated newspaper columnist and cartoonist.

And I was going to have to fire Rall too. Rall is a journalism fellow of the Palast Investigative Fund, the not-for-profit foundation that backs our work. If the charges were true, I wouldn’t hesitate to fire Rall’s lying ass—but only after I break his pen and cut off his fingers.

I demanded a copy of the recording for our audio experts to review – and asked Rall to do the same.

Oh, mama! To my surprise – and Rall’s glee – the crowd that he had allegedly fantasized about suddenly came alive – with three women shouting, “Why’d you handcuff him?” and “Take off his handcuffs!”– the handcuffs that were supposedly fabricated by Rall. (One woman helpfully suggested to the officer, “Don’t forget to ride his ---hole!”)

Listen to it yourself, or read the true transcript. Check this against the LAPD’s incomplete transcript.

As an investigative reporter, I was astonished that the LA Times did not even bother to do an independent analysis of the tape. Rall told me that a Times reporter, Paul Pringle, told him the Times simply accepted the recording transcript as truthful because it came from the LAPD.

And the LAPD hates hates hates Rall.

I can’t blame them, given Rall’s reports and caustic drawings, the truth hurts. The LA police union wrote that it “applauds [the] LA Times firing of cartoonist Rall,” whose drawings drew blood from the police force infamous for its gang-style beating of the handcuffed Rodney King.

Rall said that reporter Pringle told him that, to bolster their case against Rall, the LAPD source said that the arresting cop, Will Durr, never used handcuffs in petty violation stops. However, by coincidence, a news report about that very same cop, Durr, handcuffing a driver on a routine traffic stop appeared in… The LA Times. Oops!

My calls to the Times’ “investigative reporter” Pringle went unanswered. LA Times opinion editor Nicolas Goldberg, whom I know and have long respected, said he was not authorized not go on record to defend his paper. The smell of panic in the Times’ executive suite is getting stronger.

So I called the LAPD. Did they drop the garbled tape and false transcript on their critic? Oddly, spokesman Officer Mike Lopez, who knew the story well, could not confirm the LAPD was the source. Then, was it stolen from official police files?

Would the LAPD conduct an internal affairs investigation of the theft or misuse of confidential police files?

Ironically, the LA Times is the biggest metropolitan daily in the USA with the guts to print Rall––and even pick up a Palast story or two. Clearly, the heat from The Heat is on. I really do hope that, in light of this new information, the paper will do the right thing and retract their statement.

Whatever the original justification for the Times’ printed attack, to let it stand uncorrected now, in light of the new uncontroverted evidence, would violate core standards of journalistic ethics.

As for the Palast Fund, with the evidence now in hand, we will fight this attack on our journalist.

And, if the Times won’t carry Rall’s reports, will. Sign up here and get his reports and ‘toons free of charge.

The issue: Killing, not Jaywalking

Why am I supporting Rall? Because this is not about jaywalking. This is about killing. Police killings. And the ability of journalists to report just the facts, ma’am, free of fear of retribution by the police or media executives.

Rall’s career was gunned down by a phony transcript of a recording of a bust.

This follows close on the shooting death of an unarmed 29-year-old homeless veteran by an LAPD officer on the Venice Beach boardwalk. Brendon Glenn was known as a sometimes surly, but ultimately harmless, alcoholic. Near midnight on May 6, after he appeared to accost a local resident, two cops wrestled Glenn to the ground.

The original statement by the LA chief of police, Charlie Beck, stated that, “an altercation occurred between the two officers and the suspect. During that physical altercation, an officer-involved shooting occurred.” But security camera tape would later reveal that just wasn’t true.

In fact, film from a local store camera revealed that, for reasons unknown, one cop stepped away from his partner who had Glenn on the ground, then turned and fired two mortal shots into the homeless man.

An associate of the Palast investigations team, investigative reporter and former CBS news anchor Bree Walker, has been reviewing the case.

What Walker and every other newsperson has to worry about now is, will reporting the full story of police violence result in a slander and smear campaign against the investigating reporter?

The police believe they have silenced Rall, that his public pillorying by the Times “serves as an example” – a warning to troublesome journalists. Rall, to their dismay, is proving more of an example of undeterred courage.

We can only hope that, given the new evidence, the Times restores not just Rall’s reputation, but its own.


Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller Billionaires & Ballot Bandits which includes a 48-page comic by Ted Rall, Palast's other bestsellers are The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic

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Syrian Charades: Brit SAS Dresses Up to Take Down Assad

British SAS Special Forces “Dressed Up as ISIS Rebels” Fighting Assad in Syria

by Stephen Lendman

On August 2, Britain’s Sunday Express newspaper headlined “SAS dress as ISIS fighters in undercover war on jihadis,” saying:

“More than 120 members belonging to the elite regiment are currently in the war-torn country” covertly “dressed in black and flying ISIS flags,” engaged in what’s called Operation Shader – attacking Syrian targets on the pretext of combatting ISIS.

Maybe covert US special forces and CIA elements are involved the same way. During Obama’s war on Libya, Britain deployed hundreds of Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) paratroopers – drawn from SAS (Special Air Service) and SBS (Special Boat Service) personnel.

Around 800 Royal Marines and 4,000 US counterparts were on standby to intervene on short notice if ordered.

The latest revelation comes two weeks after learning Prime Minister David Cameron last year approved British warplanes joining US ones in bombing Syria despite parliamentary rejection in August 2013.

At least part of its current covert ground operation is under US command – so-called “smash” units traveling in pickup trucks able to launch mini-UAVs to scan terrain for targets to attack.

Over 250 UK (and perhaps US) specialists are involved to provide communications support, the Sunday Express explained.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said “(o)ur actions and surveillance capabilities are freeing up other countries to strike in Syria.”

UK SAS forces are in Saudi Arabia training anti-Assad terrorists along with US operatives doing the same thing – including in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and perhaps Israel.

US and UK claims about training so-called “moderate” rebels reflect smoke-screen cover for working directly with ISIS terrorists – trained, armed and funded abroad, funneled cross-border into Syria to fight Assad, now with US/UK and Canadian air support along with covert commandos on the ground.

The Express cited former British Army General David Richards saying “tanks will roll” as part of UK operations in Syria.

A separate article discussed US airstrikes defending ISIS terrorists serving as US foot soldiers against Assad.

The Wall Street Journal reported what appears ominously like prelude to Libya 2.0 – falsely claiming Obama authorized airstrikes against Syrian forces if they attack (nonexistent) US-supported “moderate” rebels.

Separately, Turkish media reported President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Putin may have softened on Assad. (H)e may give up on” him. 

Obama said he was “encouraged by the fact that Mr. Putin called him (in late June) and initiated the call to talk about Syria.” 

I think they get a sense that the Assad regime is losing a grip over greater and greater swaths of territory inside of Syria and that the prospects for a (jihadist) takeover or rout of the Syrian regime is not imminent but becomes a greater and greater threat by the day. That offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said both leaders discussed combatting terrorism – especially the Islamic State.

“The Russian view is well-known,” he explained. “(I)t was reiterated by (Putin) during (his) conversation” with Obama. It hasn’t changed.

Putin opposes outside interference by any nations in the internal affairs of others. He supports the sovereign right of Syrians and other people to choose their own leaders and legislators.

Putin aide Yury Ushakov said “the current leadership of Syria is one of the real and effective forces confronting the Islamic State.”

Nothing indicates less Russian support for Assad.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” - Visit his blog site at Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Winning Means Never Saying You're Sorry: The Enduring Legacy of the Lies Justifying Hiroshima/Nagasaki

Our “Merciful” Ending to the “Good War” - Or How Patriotism Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

by Christian Appy  - TomDispatch

“Never, never waste a minute on regret. It's a waste of time.”  - President Harry Truman

Here we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I'm wondering if we've come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world's only country to use atomic weapons to slaughter human beings. Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero?

Will it finally come to grips with the “black rain” that spread radiation and killed even more people -- slowly and painfully -- leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?

Given the last seven decades of perpetual militarization and nuclear “modernization” in this country, the answer may seem like an obvious no. Still, as a historian, I've been trying to dig a little deeper into our lack of national contrition. As I have, an odd fragment of Americana kept coming to mind, a line from the popular 1970 tearjerker Love Story: “Love,” says the female lead when her boyfriend begins to apologize, “means never having to say you're sorry.” It has to be one of the dumbest definitions ever to lodge in American memory, since real love often requires the strength to apologize and make amends.

It does, however, apply remarkably well to the way many Americans think about that broader form of love we call patriotism.

 Tomgram: Christian Appy, America's Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 Years Later

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: When you read today’s piece, remember that you can get a signed, personalized copy of Christian Appy’s masterful new book, American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity, in return for a $100 donation to this site. I think I know a reasonable amount about the Vietnam War and yet I found myself surprised again and again by his highly original account of how its aftermath played out in American society. Check out our donation page for the details and know that, in the dog days of summer, we couldn’t be more appreciative of whatever you offer. It helps us keep chugging along! Tom]

So many decades later, it’s hard to remember the kind of nuclear thinking top American officials engaged in during the Cold War. In secret National Security Council documents of the early 1950s, for instance, the country’s top strategists descended willingly into the charnel house of futuristic history, imagining life on this planet as an eternal potential holocaust. They wrote in those documents of the possibility that 100 atomic bombs, landing on targets in the United States, might kill or injure 22 million Americans and of a "blow" that might result in the "complete destruction" of the Soviet Union.

And they weren’t just whistling Dixie. After all, in 1960, the top military brass found themselves arguing about the country’s first Single Integrated Operational Plan for nuclear war. In it, a scenario was laid out for delivering more than 3,200 nuclear weapons to 1,060 targets in the Communist world. Targets included at least 130 cities, which, if all went well, would cease to exist. Classified estimates of possible casualties from such an attack ran to 285 million dead and 40 million injured. That’s what “the complete destruction” of the Soviet Union and Communist China meant then and, until Dr. Strangelove hit the screens in 1964, those figures were simply part of the sort of “rational” war planning that led to perfectly serious debate about launching a “preemptive strike” -- what, if another country were considering it, would have been a “war of aggression” -- to eradicate that enemy. To give credit where it’s due, Army and Navy officials did worry "about the lethal impact of downwind fallout, with the Army explicitly concerned about limiting exposure of 'friendly forces and people' to radioactive fallout. By contrast, the Air Force saw no need for additional constraints [on surface nuclear blasts]."

It's this world that we “celebrate,” having now reached the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945). Today, we know that delivering so many nuclear weapons (or, in fact, many less) would have done a lot more than wipe out the “Communist world.” It would have plunged the planet into nuclear winter and undoubtedly eradicated humanity as definitively as the dinosaurs were wiped out by that asteroid 65 million years ago.

Apocalypse was -- and remains -- us. After all, despite the recent nuclear agreement that will stop a country without nuclear weapons from building them, this planet is still loaded with a world-ending arsenal that is constantly being expanded, updated, and modernized. Call us lucky, but don’t call us particularly thoughtful. Today, Christian Appy, author of American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity, considers the way in which -- except in rare moments when antinuclear movements gained brief strength here -- Americans managed to ignore how this country’s leaders ushered us into the nuclear age by annihilating not one but two cities and killing hundreds of thousands of defenseless civilians. Tom

Our “Merciful” Ending to the “Good War” - Or How Patriotism Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

by Christian Appy

With rare exceptions, like the 1988 congressional act that apologized to and compensated the Japanese-American victims of World War II internment, when it comes to the brute exercise of power, true patriotism has above all meant never having to say you're sorry. The very politicians who criticize other countries for not owning up to their wrong-doing regularly insist that we should never apologize for anything. In 1988, for example, after the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf killing all 290 passengers (including 66 children), Vice President George H.W. Bush, then running for president, proclaimed, “I will never apologize for the United States. Ever. I don't care what the facts are.”

It turns out, however, that Bush's version of American remorselessness isn’t quite enough. After all, Americans prefer to view their country as peace-loving, despite having been at war constantly since 1941. This means they need more than denials and non-apologies. They need persuasive stories and explanations (however full of distortions and omissions). The tale developed to justify the bombings that led to a world in which the threat of human extinction has been a daily reality may be the most successful legitimizing narrative in our history. Seventy years later, it’s still deeply embedded in public memory and school textbooks, despite an ever-growing pile of evidence that contradicts it. Perhaps it’s time, so many decades into the age of apocalyptic peril, to review the American apologia for nuclear weapons -- the argument in their defense -- that ensured we would never have to say we're sorry.

The Hiroshima Apologia

On August 9, 1945, President Harry Truman delivered a radio address from the White House. “The world will note,” he said, “that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.” He did not mention that a second atomic bomb had already been dropped on Nagasaki.

Truman understood, of course, that if Hiroshima was a “military base,” then so was Seattle; that the vast majority of its residents were civilians; and that perhaps 100,000 of them had already been killed. Indeed, he knew that Hiroshima was chosen not for its military significance but because it was one of only a handful of Japanese cities that had not already been firebombed and largely obliterated by American air power. U.S. officials, in fact, were intent on using the first atomic bombs to create maximum terror and destruction. They also wanted to measure their new weapon’s power and so selected the “virgin targets” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In July 1945, Secretary of War Henry Stimson informed Truman of his fear that, given all the firebombing of Japanese cities, there might not be a target left on which the atomic bomb could “show its strength” to the fullest. According to Stimson's diary, Truman “laughed and said he understood.”

The president soon dropped the “military base” justification. After all, despite Washington's effort to censor the most graphic images of atomic annihilation coming out of Hiroshima, the world quickly grasped that the U.S. had destroyed an entire city in a single blow with massive loss of life. So the president focused instead on an apologia that would work for at least the next seven decades. Its core arguments appeared in that same August 9th speech. “We have used [the atomic bomb] against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor,” he said, “against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.”

By 1945, most Americans didn't care that the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had not committed Japan's war crimes. American wartime culture had for years drawn on a long history of “yellow peril” racism to paint the Japanese not just as inhuman, but as subhuman. As Truman put it in his diary, it was a country full of “savages” -- “ruthless, merciless, and fanatic” people so loyal to the emperor that every man, woman, and child would fight to the bitter end. In these years, magazines routinely depicted Japanese as monkeys, apes, insects, and vermin. Given such a foe, so went the prevailing view, there were no true “civilians” and nothing short of near extermination, or at least a powerful demonstration of America's willingness to proceed down that path, could ever force their surrender. As Admiral William “Bull” Halsey said in a 1944 press conference, “The only good Jap is a Jap who's been dead six months.”

In the years after World War II, the most virulent expressions of race hatred diminished, but not the widespread idea that the atomic bombs had been required to end the war, eliminating the need to invade the Japanese home islands where, it was confidently claimed, tooth-and-nail combat would cause enormous losses on both sides. The deadliest weapon in history, the one that opened the path to future Armageddon, had therefore saved lives. That was the stripped down mantra that provided the broadest and most enduring support for the introduction of nuclear warfare. By the time Truman, in retirement, published his memoir in 1955, he was ready to claim with some specificity that an invasion of Japan would have killed half-a-million Americans and at least as many Japanese.

Over the years, the ever-increasing number of lives those two A-bombs “saved” became a kind of sacred numerology. By 1991, for instance, President George H.W. Bush, praising Truman for his “tough, calculating decision,” claimed that those bombs had “spared millions of American lives.” By then, an atomic massacre had long been transformed into a mercy killing that prevented far greater suffering and slaughter.

Truman went to his grave insisting that he never had a single regret or a moment's doubt about his decision. Certainly, in the key weeks leading up to August 6, 1945, the record offers no evidence that he gave serious consideration to any alternative.

“Revisionists” Were Present at the Creation

Twenty years ago, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum planned an ambitious exhibit to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. At its center was to be an extraordinary artifact -- the fuselage of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress used to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. But the curators and historical consultants wanted something more than yet another triumphal celebration of American military science and technology. Instead, they sought to assemble a thought-provoking portrayal of the bomb's development, the debates about its use, and its long-term consequences. The museum sought to include some evidence challenging the persistent claim that it was dropped simply to end the war and “save lives.”

For starters, visitors would have learned that some of America's best-known World War II military commanders opposed using atomic weaponry. In fact, six of the seven five-star generals and admirals of that time believed that there was no reason to use them, that the Japanese were already defeated, knew it, and were likely to surrender before any American invasion could be launched. Several, like Admiral William Leahy and General Dwight Eisenhower, also had moral objections to the weapon. Leahy considered the atomic bombing of Japan “barbarous” and a violation of “every Christian ethic I have ever heard of and all of the known laws of war.”

Truman did not seriously consult with military commanders who had objections to using the bomb. He did, however, ask a panel of military experts to offer an estimate of how many Americans might be killed if the United States launched the two major invasions of the Japanese home islands scheduled for November 1, 1945 and March 1, 1946. Their figure: 40,000 -- far below the half-million he would cite after the war. Even this estimate was based on the dubious assumption that Japan could continue to feed, fuel, and arm its troops with the U.S. in almost complete control of the seas and skies.

The Smithsonian also planned to inform its visitors that some key presidential advisers had urged Truman to drop his demand for “unconditional surrender” and allow Japan to keep the emperor on his throne, an alteration in peace terms that might have led to an almost immediate surrender. Truman rejected that advice, only to grant the same concession after the nuclear attacks.

Keep in mind, however, that part of Truman's motivation for dropping those bombs involved not the defeated Japanese, but the ascending Soviet Union. With the U.S.S.R. pledged to enter the war against Japan on August 8, 1945 (which it did), Truman worried that even briefly prolonging hostilities might allow the Soviets to claim a greater stake in East Asia. He and Secretary of State James Byrnes believed that a graphic demonstration of the power of the new bomb, then only in the possession of the United States, might also make that Communist power more “manageable” in Europe. The Smithsonian exhibit would have suggested that Cold War planning and posturing began in the concluding moments of World War II and that one legacy of Hiroshima would be the massive nuclear arms race of the decades to come.

In addition to displaying American artifacts like the Enola Gay, Smithsonian curators wanted to show some heartrending objects from the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima, including a schoolgirl's burnt lunchbox, a watch dial frozen at the instant of the bomb's explosion, a fused rosary, and photographs of the dead and dying. It would have been hard to look at these items beside that plane’s giant fuselage without feeling some sympathy for the victims of the blast.

None of this happened. The exhibit was canceled after a storm of protest. When the Air Force Association leaked a copy of the initial script to the media, critics denounced the Smithsonian for its “politically correct” and “anti-American” “revision” of history. The exhibit, they claimed, would be an insult to American veterans and fundamentally unpatriotic. Though conservatives led the charge, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Smithsonian for being “revisionist and offensive” that included a tidy rehearsal of the official apologia: “The role of the Enola Gay... was momentous in helping to bring World War II to a merciful end, which resulted in saving the lives of Americans and Japanese.”

Merciful? Consider just this: the number of civilians killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone was more than twice the number of American troops killed during the entire Pacific war.

In the end, the Smithsonian displayed little but the Enola Gay itself, a gleaming relic of American victory in the “Good War.”

Our Unbroken Faith in the Greatest Generation

In the two decades since, we haven't come closer to a genuine public examination of history's only nuclear attack or to finding any major fault with how we waged what Studs Terkel famously dubbed “the Good War.” He used that term as the title for his classic 1984 oral history of World War II and included those quotation marks quite purposely to highlight the irony of such thinking about a war in which an estimated 60 million people died. In the years since, the term has become an American cliché, but the quotation marks have disappeared along with any hint of skepticism about our motives and conduct in those years.

Admittedly, when it comes to the launching of nuclear war (if not the firebombings that destroyed 67 Japanese cities and continued for five days after “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki), there is some evidence of a more critical cast of mind in this country. Recent polls, for instance, show that “only” 56% of Americans now think we were right to use nuclear weapons against Japan, down a few points since the 1990s, while support among Americans under the age of 30 has finally fallen below 50%. You might also note that just after World War II, 85% of Americans supported the bombings.

Of course, such pro-bomb attitudes were hardly surprising in 1945, especially given the relief and joy at the war's victorious ending and the anti-Japanese sentiment of that moment. Far more surprising: by 1946, millions of Americans were immersed in John Hersey's best-selling book Hiroshima, a moving report from ground zero that explored the atomic bomb's impact through the experiences of six Japanese survivors. It began with these gripping lines:

“At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk.”

Hiroshima remains a remarkable document for its unflinching depictions of the bomb's destructiveness and for treating America's former enemy with such dignity and humanity. “The crux of the matter,” Hersey concluded, “is whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good might result?”

The ABC Radio Network thought Hersey's book so important that it hired four actors to read it in full on the air, reaching an even wider audience. Can you imagine a large American media company today devoting any significant air time to a work that engendered empathy for the victims of our twenty-first century wars? Or can you think of a recent popular book that prods us to consider the “material and spiritual evil” that came from our own participation in World War II? I can't.

In fact, in the first years after that war, as Paul Boyer showed in his superb book By the Bomb’s Early Light, some of America's triumphalism faded as fears grew that the very existence of nuclear weapons might leave the country newly vulnerable. After all, someday another power, possibly the Soviet Union, might use the new form of warfare against its creators, producing an American apocalypse that could never be seen as redemptive or merciful.

In the post-Cold War decades, however, those fears have again faded (unreasonably so since even a South Asian nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India could throw the whole planet into a version of nuclear winter). Instead, the “Good War” has once again been embraced as unambiguously righteous. Consider, for example, the most recent book about World War II to hit it big, Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Published in 2010, it remained on the New York Times best-seller list in hardcover for almost four years and has sold millions of copies. In its reach, it may even surpass Tom Brokaw's 1998 book, The Greatest Generation. A Hollywood adaptation of Unbroken appeared last Christmas.

Hillenbrand’s book does not pretend to be a comprehensive history of World War II or even of the war in the Pacific. It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a child delinquent turned Olympic runner turned B-24 bombardier. In 1943, his plane was shot down in the Pacific. He and the pilot survived 47 days in a life raft despite near starvation, shark attacks, and strafing by Japanese planes. Finally captured by the Japanese, he endured a series of brutal POW camps where he was the victim of relentless sadistic beatings.

The book is decidedly a page-turner, but its focus on a single American's punishing ordeal and amazing recovery inhibits almost any impulse to move beyond the platitudes of nationalistic triumphalism and self-absorption or consider (among other things) the racism that so dramatically shaped American combat in the Pacific. That, at least, is the impression you get combing through some of the astonishing 25,000 customer reviews Unbroken has received on Amazon. “My respect for WWII veterans has soared,” a typical reviewer writes. “Thank you Laura Hillenbrand for loving our men at war,” writes another. It is “difficult to read of the inhumanity of the treatment of the courageous men serving our country.” And so on.

Unbroken devotes a page and a half to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, all of it from the vantage point of the American crew of the Enola Gay. Hillenbrand raises concerns about the crew's safety: “No one knew for sure if... the bomber could get far enough away to survive what was coming.” She describes the impact of the shockwaves, not on the ground, but at 30,000 feet when they slammed into the Enola Gay, “pitching the men into the air.”

The film version of Unbroken evokes even less empathy for the Japanese experience of nuclear war, which brings to mind something a student told my graduate seminar last spring. He teaches high school social studies and when he talked with colleagues about the readings we were doing on Hiroshima, three of them responded with some version of the following: “You know, I used to think we were wrong to use nukes on Japan, but since I saw Unbroken I've started to think it was necessary.” We are, that is, still in the territory first plowed by Truman in that speech seven decades ago.

At the end of the film, this note appears on the screen: “Motivated by his faith, Louie came to see that the way forward was not revenge, but forgiveness. He returned to Japan, where he found and made peace with his former captors.”

That is indeed moving. Many of the prison camp guards apologized, as well they should have, and -- perhaps more surprisingly -- Zamperini forgave them. There is, however, no hint that there might be a need for apologies on the American side, too; no suggestion that our indiscriminate destruction of Japan, capped off by the atomic obliteration of two cities, might be, as Admiral Leahy put it, a violation of “all of the known laws of war.”

So here we are, 70 years later, and we seem, if anything, farther than ever from a rejection of the idea that launching atomic warfare on Japanese civilian populations was an act of mercy. Perhaps some future American president will finally apologize for our nuclear attacks, but one thing seems certain: no Japanese survivor of the bombs will be alive to hear it.

Christian Appy, TomDispatch regular and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, is the author of three books about the Vietnam War, including most recently American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity (Viking).

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Copyright 2015 Christian Appy