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From Global Research

by Stephen Lendman

May 27, 2008

It’s called “Plan Mexico,” or more formally the “Merida Initiative,” and here’s the scheme. It’s to do for Mexicans what Plan Colombia has done to that nation since 1999, and, in fact, much earlier. Since then, billions have gone for the following:

— to establish a US military foothold in the country;

— mostly to fund US weapons, chemical and other corporate profiteers; it’s a long-standing practice; in fact, a 1997 Pentagon document affirms that America’s military will “protect US interests and investments;” in Colombia, it’s to control its valuable resources; most importantly oil and natural gas but also coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, silver, emeralds, copper and more; it’s also to crush worker resistance, eliminate unions, target human rights and peasant opposition groups, and make the country a “free market” paradise inhospitable to people;

— it funds a brutish military as well; already, over 10,000 of its soldiers have been trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) – aka the School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia; its graduates are infamous as human rights abusers, drugs traffickers, and death squad practitioners; they were well schooled in their “arts” by the nation most skilled in them;

— it lets Colombia arm and support paramilitary death squads; they’re known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC); for more than a decade, they’ve terrorized Colombians and are responsible for most killings and massacres in support of powerful western and local business interests;

— it funds drug eradication efforts, but only in FARC-EP and ELN areas; government-controlled ones are exempt; trafficking is big business; laundering drugs money reaps huge profits for major US and regional banks; the CIA has also been linked to the trade for decades, especially since the 1980s; after Afghanistan’s invasion and occupation, opium harvests set records – mostly from areas controlled by US-allied “warlords;” the Taliban’s drug eradication program was one reason it was targeted; Colombia’s drug eradication is horrific; it causes ecological devastation; crop and forest destruction; lives and livelihoods lost; large areas chemically contaminated; bottom line of the program – record amounts of Colombian cocaine reach US and world markets; trafficking is more profitable than ever; so is big business thanks to paramilitary terror;

— it’s to topple the FARC-EP and ELN resistance groups; Latin American expert James Petras calls the former the “longest standing (since 1964), largest peasant-based guerrilla (resistance) movement in the world;” it’s also to weaken Hugo Chavez, other regional populist leaders and groups, and destabilize their countries; and

— it supports the “Uribe doctrine;” it’s in lockstep with Washington; its policies are hard right, corporate-friendly and militarized for enforcement.

Plan Colombia turned the country into a dependable, profitable narco-state. Business is better than ever. Violence is out of control and human rights abuses are appalling.

It gets worse. Two-thirds of Columbians are impoverished. Over 2.5 million peasant and urban slum dwellers have been displaced. Thousands of trade unionists have been murdered (more than anywhere else in the world), and many more thousands of peasants, rural teachers, and peasant and indigenous leaders have as well. Paramilitary land seizures are commonplace. Colombian latifundistas profit hugely. Wealth concentration is extreme and growing. Corruption infests the government. Many thousands in desperation are leaving. Colombia’s “democracy” is a sham. So is Mexico’s. Plan Mexico will make it worse. That’s the whole idea, and it’s part of the secretive Security and Prosperity Partnership – aka the North American Union.

It’s planned behind closed doors – to militarize and annex the continent. Corporate giants are in charge, mostly US ones. The idea is for an unregulated open field for profit. The Bush administration, Canada and Mexico support it. Things are moving toward implementation. Three nations will become one. National sovereignty eliminated. Worker rights as well. Opposition is building, but moves are planned to quash it. That’s the militarization part.

Business intends to win this one. People are to be exploited, not helped. That’s why it’s kept secret. The idea is to agree on plans, inform legislatures minimally about them, get SPP passed, then implement it with as few of its disturbing details known in hopes once they are they’ll be too late to reverse.

SPP is ugly, ominous and hugely people destructive. Hundreds of millions in three countries will be affected. Others in the region as well. Plan Mexico is a contribution to the scheme. Below is what we know about it.

Plan Mexico – Exploitation Writ Large

The plan was first announced in October 2007 as a “regional security cooperation initiative.” It’s to provide $1.4 billion in aid (over three years) for Mexico and Central America on the pretext of fighting drugs trafficking and organized crime linked to it. FY 2008 calls for $550 million for starters with about 10% of it for Central America.

In fact, Plan Mexico is part of SPP’s grand scheme to militarize the continent, let corporate predators exploit it, and keep people from three countries none the wiser. Most aid will go to Mexico’s military and police forces with its major portion earmarked back to US defense contractors for equipment, training and maintenance. It’s how these schemes always work.

This one includes a menu of security allocations, administrative functions, and special needs like software, forensics equipment, database compilations, plus plenty more for friendly pockets to keep our Mexican cohorts on board.

After failing on May 15, House passage will likely follow the Senate’s approval on May 22 – below the radar. It’s one of many appropriations tucked into the latest Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental funding request, and its purpose is just as outlandish. It will militarize Mexico without deploying US troops. It will also open the country for plunder, privatize everything including state-owned oil company PEMEX, give Washington a greater foothold there, and get around the touchy military issue by allowing in Blackwater paramilitaries instead to work with Mexican security forces.

Only privatizing PEMEX is in doubt thanks to immense citizen opposition. Thousands of “brigadistas” were in the streets, protesting outside the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, as lawmakers considered ending PEMEX state-control. They paralyzed debate and brought it to a halt – temporarily putting off a final resolution of this very contentious issue. Big Oil wants it. Most Mexicans don’t. The battle continues. Mexico’s military may get involved.

The US State Department describes them as follows:

— ….”impunity and corruption (in Mexico’s security forces are) problems, particularly at the state and local levels. The following human rights problems were reported: unlawful killings; kidnappings; physical abuse; poor and overcrowded prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency in the judicial system; (coerced) confessions….permitted as evidence in trials; criminal intimidation of journalists leading to self-censorship; corruption at all levels of government; domestic violence against women (often with impunity); violence, including killings, against women; trafficking in persons; social and economic discrimination against indigenous people; and child labor.”

Mexico’s military fares little better with promises Plan Mexico will worsen it. President Calderon now deploys troops around the country. People fear them when they come. They’re purportedly against drugs traffickers, but that’s mostly cover. Their real purpose may be sinister – a possible dress rehearsal for martial law when SPP is implemented.

Mexican soldiers are hard line. Their reputation is unsavory. People justifiably fear them. They commit flagrant human rights abuses and get away with them. The major media even report them. The New York Times, CNN, BBC, USA Today and others cite evidence of rape, torture, killings, other human rights abuses, corruption, extortion, and ties to drugs traffickers. Little is done to stop it. Government and military spokespersons often aren’t available for comment. They’re part of the problem, not the solution. Plan Mexico promises more of the same and then some. Billions from Washington back it.

Social protests in the country already are criminalized. Hundreds are filling prisons. Many languish there for years. Labor and social activists are most vulnerable. Injustice and grinding poverty motivate them. Plan Mexico ups the ante. Things are about to get worse.

Militarizing society is toxic. Police state enforcement follows. Accountability disappears. The rule of law no longer applies. Plan Mexico assures it. So does SPP for the continent. In classic doublespeak, the White House claims it will “advance the productivity and competitiveness of our nations and help to protect our health, safety and environment.” Its real purpose is to annex a continent, destroy its democratic remnants, lock in hard line enforcement, and secure it for capital.

SPP Backdrop of Plan Mexico

A detailed SPP explanation can be found on the 2007 article link. It’s titled The Militarization and Annexation of North America – http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6359

Plan Mexico is part of SPP. It will militarize and annex the continent. It was formerly launched at a March 23, 2005 meeting in Waco, Texas attended by George Bush, Mexico’s President Vincente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. They forged a tripartite partnership for greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social and security integration. Secretive working groups were formed to accomplish it – to devise non-negotiable agreements to be binding on all three nations.

Details are hidden. No public input is permitted. Pro forma legislative voting is approaching. It will try to avoid a NAFTA-type battle. Legislatures aren’t being fully informed. The worst of SPP is secret. It’s not a treaty, and the idea is to pass it below the radar and avoid a protracted public debate.

What’s known so far is disturbing, and considerable opposition has arisen but thus far too inadequate to matter. SPP, Plan Mexico, and a final continent-wide plan amount to a corporate coup d’etat against three sovereign states and hundreds of millions of people. It’s to erase national borders, merge three nations into one under US control, and remove all barriers to trade and capital flows. It’s also to militarize the continent, create a fortress-North America security zone, and have in place police state laws for enforcement. Billions will fund it. All for corporate gain. Nothing for public welfare.

SPP takes NAFTA and the “war on terrorism” to the next level en route to extending it further for more corporate plunder. It’s based on outlandish notions – that doing business, protecting national security, and securing “public welfare” require tough new measures in a very threatening world.

SPP bolsters US control. It enhances corporate power, quashes civil liberties, erases public welfare, and creates an open field for plunder free from regulatory restraints. It’s being plotted behind closed doors. A series of summits and secret meetings continue with the latest one in New Orleans from April 22 to 24.

Three presidents attended and were met by vocal street protests. They convened a “People’s Summit” and also held workshops to:

— inform people how destructive SPP is;

— strengthen networking and organizational ties against it;

— maintain online information about their activities;

— promote their efforts and build added support; and

— affirm their determination to continue resisting a hugely repressive corporate-sponsored agenda. Opponents call it Nafta on steroids.

Business-friendly opposition also exists. Prominent is a “Coalition to Block the North American Union.” The Conservative Caucus backs it. It has a “NAU War Room.” It’s the “headquarters of THE national campaign to expose and halt America’s absorption into a ‘North American Union (NAU)’ with Canada and Mexico.” It opposes building “a massive, continental ‘NAFTA Superhighway.’ “

It has congressional allies, and on January 2007 Rep. Virgil Goode and six co-sponsors introduced House Concurrent Resolution 40. It expresses “the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in (building a NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada.”

The April summit reaffirmed SPP’s intentions – to create a borderless North America, dissolve national sovereignty, put corporate giants in control, and assure big US ones get most of it. Militarism is part of it. It’s the reason for fortress-North America under US command. The US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was established in October 2002 to do it. It has air, land and sea responsibility for the continent regardless of Posse Comitatus limitations that no longer apply or sovereign borders easily erased.

Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also have a large role. So does the FBI, CIA, all US spy agencies, militarized state and local police, National Guard forces, and paramilitary mercenaries like Blackwater USA. They’re headed anywhere on the continent with license to operate as freely here as in Iraq and New Orleans post-Katrina. They’ll be able to turn hemispheric streets into versions of Baghdad and make them unfit to live on if things come to that.

SPP maintains a web site. It’s “key accomplishments” since August 2007 are updated on it as of April 22, 2008. Its details can be accessed from the following link:

http://www.spp.gov/pdf/key_accomplishments_since_august_2007.pdf

It lists principles agreed to; bilateral deals struck; negotiations concluded; study assessments released; agreements on the “Free Flow of Information;” law enforcement activities; efforts related to intellectual property, border and long-haul trucking enforcement; import licensing procedures; food and product safety issues; energy (with special focus on oil); water as well; infrastructure development; emergency management; and much more. It’s all laid out in deceptively understated tones to hide its continental aim – enhanced corporate exploitation with as little public knowledge as possible.

Militarization will assure it, and consider one development up North. On February 14, 2008, the US and Canada agreed to allow American troops inside Canada. Canadians were told nothing or that the agreement was reached in 2002. Neither was it discussed in Congress or the Canadian House of Commons. It’s for “bilateral integration” of military command structures in areas of immigration, law enforcement, intelligence, or whatever else the Pentagon or Washington wishes. Overall, it’s part of the “war on terror” and militarizing the continent to make it “safer” for business and be prepared for any civilian opposition.

Congress may soon pass SPP, but with no knowledge of its worst provisions kept secret. It’s to assure enough congressional support makes it law. Nonetheless, federal, state and local opposition is building. It ranges from private activism to vocal lawmakers. In 2008, a dozen or more states passed resolutions against SPP. Around 20 others did it in 2007. Congress began debating it last year with opposition raised on various grounds – open borders, unchecked immigration, a NAFTA Superhighway System, and the idea of giving unregulated Mexican trucks free access to US roads and cities.

There’s also talk of replacing three national currencies with an “Amero.” Unfortunately, little is heard about trashing the Constitution or giving corporate bosses free reign. There’s even less talk about a militarized continent against dissent. SPP is a “new world order.” Companies are plotting to get it. People better hope they don’t. Disruptive opposition might derail them. It’s building but needs more resonance to matter. Time is short and slipping away. These schemers mean business. They want our future. We can’t afford to lose it.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening any time.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9059

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman

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By Greg Palast

Monday, April 21, 2008

Psst! George Bush has a secret

While you Democrats are pounding each other to a pulp in Pennsylvania, the President has snuck back down to New Orleans for a meeting of the NAFTA Three: the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico.

You’re not supposed to know that – for two reasons:

First, the summit planned for the N.O. two years back was meant to showcase the rebuilt Big Easy, a monument to can-do Bush-o-nomics. Well, it is a monument to Bush’s leadership: The city still looks like Dresden 1946, with over half the original residents living in toxic trailers or wandering lost and broke in America.

The second reason Bush has kept this major summit a virtual secret is its real agenda – and the real agenda-makers. The names and faces of the guys who called the meeting must remain as far out of camera range as possible: The North American Competitiveness Council.

Never heard of The Council? Well, maybe you’ve heard of the counsellors: the chief executives of Wal-Mart, Chevron Oil, Lockheed-Martin and 27 other multinational masters of the corporate universe.

And why did the landlords of our continent order our presidents to a three-nation pajama party? Their agenda is “harmonization.”

Harmonization has nothing to do with singing in fifths like Simon and Garfunkel.

Harmonization means making rules and regulations the same in all three countries. Or, more specifically, watering down rules – on health, safety, labor rights, oil drilling, polluting and so on – in other words, any regulations that get between The Council members and their profits.

Take for example, pesticides. Wal-Mart and agri-business don’t want to reduce the legal amount of poison allowed in what you eat. Solution: “harmonize” US and Canadian pesticide standards to Mexico’s.

Can they do that? Can Bush just say, “Eat your peas – even if they’re radioactive”? Under NAFTA, at least the way George Bush reads it (or has it read to him), he can.

When the three chiefs of state meet privately with the thirty corporate chiefs, they are also expected to erase a bit more of our borders. Technically, they will expand the “NAFTA Highway” – which is, in addition to lots of new blacktop, a set of regulations governing transcontinental shipment. Some fear NAFTA Highway expansion will allow a new flood of cheap Mexican products into the US and Canada. Not so. The Council’s hunger to widen the NAFTA highway is to bring in even cheaper Chinese goods.

Say what?

As trade expert Maude Barlow explained to me, the new NAFTA Highway will allow Chinese stuff dumped into Mexico to be hauled northward as duty-free “Mexican” products. That’s one of the quiet aims of this “Summit for Security and Prosperity,” the official Orwellian name for this meet. Think of the SPP “harmonization” as the Trojan Taco of trade with China.

Barlow is Chairwoman of the Council of Canadians. She is known as the “Ralph Nader of Canada” (not Nader version 2.0, The Spoiler Candidate, but Nader 1.0, the consumer advocate). Because Americans are too distracted by the Punch-and-Judy primaries to complain about this lobby-fest on the bayou, Canadian Barlow is leading street protests against the SPP greed-grab.

I caught up with this courageous Canadian (I’ve seen her face down corporate bullying we can’t imagine in the US) on her way down to New Orleans. Barlow is especially horrified that the SPP agreement promotes a five-fold increase in the mining of Canadian tar sands for import, as liquid crude oil, into the USA, an idea filthier than a re-make of Debbie Does Dallas. “This is an insane model of development,” she says, especially given Bush’s recent claim that he wants to slow global warming.

Bush himself is pushing his Canadian and Mexican counterparts to adopt US-style “Homeland Security” measures so that, says Barlow, “we’ll all be zip-locked together in one security bag.”

There will be other anti-SPP protesters in New Orleans as well, from America’s populist Right. They are concerned that the Summit is worse than the “NAFTA on steroids” that Barlow fears. The populists see in the SPP a nascent “North American Union,” and the elimination of the good old US of A.

They’re wrong, of course. The USA was eliminated years ago, at least economically. The globalizers, the Competitiveness Council members, are a multinational crew, with one shared set of country clubs, beach homes, art collections, union busters and lobbyists knowing no borders.

The populist radio hosts railing against the coming North American Union don’t realize that these CEOs won’t take away our flags or Fourth of July or Star-Spangled Banner. The rags and flags will always be kept around to con the schmucks along the Yahoo Belt into donating their children to the Iraq Occupation or other misadventures. Likewise for Mexico’s rulers: A billionaire like Carlos Slim, the richest man on the planet (sorry, Mr. Gates), didn’t buy the Mexican government to “protect” his nation from Gringos but to protect his media monopoly. The corporation that purchases Canada’s leaders, Barrick Gold of Toronto, has looted treasuries from Tanzania to Nevada to Chile – and shared the spoils on both sides of the border with their well-greased advisors Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada, and George Bush Sr., former head of the US CIA.

So there is no United States of America nor Canada nor Mexico – at least as we like to imagine ourselves in our national fairy tales: self-governing democracies run by we the people or nosotros el pueblo. There’s just the diktats of the North American Prosperity Council. Get used to it.

To underscore the fact that you aren’t invited, nor our elected representatives, Barlow related to me that the US Ambassador to Canada told her the legal changes wrought in New Orleans will not be put before the three national Congresses for a vote. “We don’t want to open up another NAFTA,” he told her. So, they’ll skip the voting stuff. Democracy is so, like, 20th Century.

Is Bush just a reluctant participant in this “harmonizing” of our economic fate? The meetings are secret, so I can’t say for sure. But I note that, at the opening ceremony, if you read his lips, you can see our president singing the national anthem as, “José, can you see?”

Read more of Greg Palast @ http://www.gregpalast.com/

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As Senators Clinton and Obama prepared to debate in their state, Texans were marching in protest over the NAFTA superhighway known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, or I-69, the primary purpose of which is to speed the delivery of goods coming in from Mexico to proposed inland ports.

The TTC is planned to span the state of Texas from Laredo, on the Mexican border, to Texarkana, on the border with Arkansas, to continue north to Canada. The projected cost is $183 billion over fifty years, with no American companies expressing interest in financing it.

With no public approval required to begin construction, repeated calls against the TTC at public meetings, with seldom a word of support, may easily go unheeded.

“This is about international–global companies that are coming in and having their way with our politicians,” says Terri Hall of TexasTURF. “It doesn’t matter what does to the people in the path,” she continues, “it doesn’t matter what it does to our way of life…”

“Citizens here,” says an unidentified man at a public hearing, “are not going to bear the burden so Wal-Mart can get their cargo into the U.S. cheaper and faster.”

Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is among opponents of the TTC, doubting the intentions of those planning its construction. He cites millions of acres subject to eminent domain, which the state promises to use against landowners who protest, and also notes that he has yet to encounter a person that supports the TTC.

“Frankly,” says Texas Department of Transportation’s Phil Russell, “we’re in a different day and age right now, and the way we built our roadways fifty years ago simply isn’t keeping up with the congestion that we’re seeing here in Texas now.”

“This is really messing with Texas,” quips an incredulous Lou Dobbs to anchor Bill Tucker. “You can’t tell me that Governor Rick Perry and the head of the Department of Transportation down there–that they’re dumb enough to say that, because all of this traffic’s coming out of Mexico, that Texas citizens should be funding the highway that is needed as a result of that traffic. That’s absolutely idiotic.”

“If people are putting up with this nonsense from their state government, and Governor Rick Perry, and their Department of Transportation,” Dobbs continues, “these aren’t the Texans that I know, and who I respect mightily.”

The report, broadcast on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight on February 19, 2008, is available to view below.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod

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Former Mexican President Urges U.S. to Embrace “Solidarity” Not “Selfishness” as North American Union Unfolds

Aaron Dykes from JonesReport.com

February 16, 2008

bush_selling_out_america_to_vicente_fox.jpgFormer Mexican President Vicente Fox indicated that he would favor the emergence of a world government and also reaffirmed his support for a North American Union during a conversation with WeAreChange.org.

Fox told cameras, “I would love to see the process [of World Government] adapted to the local situation.”

Fox played down concerns that sovereignty would be compromised under NAFTA and other agreements facilitating integration– asserting claims that Germany and Great Britain had lost no sovereignty under the EU.

He indicated that the ‘original agreement’ under the SPP (Security & Prosperity Partnership) had not moved forward at the pace that he had desired, but that progress was underway. Fox expressed hopes that the next U.S. administration could reassess and advance the agreement.

Rest of the story and videos here.

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The signs are all there for anyone to see, and time is getting short for action

By Michael Nenonen

Reading Naomi Wolf’s The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007), I realized the hour is later than I thought.

Many of us have watched the Bush regime’s actions with a growing feeling of horror intertwined with a sense that somehow we’ve seen all of this before, but we aren’t sure where. We’re confused because what we’re seeing conflicts with unexamined and deeply held assumptions we have about American freedom. Wolf’s short but meticulously documented book shows that what is happening in America has indeed happened many times before, not in the United States, but rather in places like Chile, Italy, Russia, and Germany. In each case, people couldn’t understand why they didn’t recognize where they were heading before they passed the point of no return.

It’s shifting fast

Wolf argues that the United States is undergoing a “fascist shift” from an authoritarian but still relatively open society to a totalitarian society. The techniques for forcing this shift have evolved over the last century and are now studied by aspiring tyrants the world over. These methods are even part of the formal curriculum in places like the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, previously known as the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia, where thousands of Latin Americans have been trained by the United States government in the most savage techniques of insurgency and counterinsurgency. Fascists use ten basic strategies to shut down open societies. They invoke an external and internal threat in order to convince the population to grant their rulers extraordinary powers. They establish secret prisons that practice torture, prisons that are initially few in number and only incarcerate social pariahs, but that quickly multiply and soon imprison “opposition leaders, outspoken clergy, union leaders, well-known performers, publishers, and journalists.” They develop a paramilitary force that operates without legal restraint. They set up a system of intense domestic surveillance that gathers information for the purposes of intimidating and blackmailing citizens. They infiltrate, monitor, and disorganize citizens’ groups. They arbitrarily detain and release citizens, especially at borders. They target key individuals like civil servants, academics, and artists in order to ensure their complicity or silence. They take control of the press. They publicly equate dissent with treason. Finally, they suspend the rule of law. All of these strategies are being employed in America today.

Consider the evidence

The Bush administration and its supporters have consistently portrayed the security threat posed by international terrorists as a threat to the very survival of Western civilization in order to justify permanent war and to keep the American public in a state of panic and paranoia.

The prisons at Guantanamo and God-knows how many CIA “Black Sites” torture their inmates, even though human rights organizations have demonstrated that the majority of at least Guantanamo’s inmates are innocent victims of mass arrests. The inmates are designated as “enemy combatants” who have no rights under international or American law. And there is nothing stopping American presidents from filling these prisons with American citizens. In an April 24 2007 article for the Huffington Post, Wolf writes that thanks to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, “the president has the power to call any US citizen an ‘enemy combatant’. He has the power to define what ‘enemy combatant’ means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define ‘enemy combatant’ any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly. Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial.” She points out that while currently Americans in such situations will be spared any torture except psychosis-inducing isolation and can look forward to eventual trials, these rights typically evaporate in the final stages of a fascist shift.

They’re called “mercenaries”

Military contractors are the regime’s paramilitary force. Blackwater’s mercenaries, many of whom were trained by Latin America’s most horrific police states, have operated in Iraq outside of Iraqi, American, and military law, and have murdered uncounted innocent Iraqis with impunity. Domestically, Blackwater was contracted to provide hundreds of armed security guards in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and there’s evidence that they fired on civilians. Blackwater’s business plan calls for their use in future disasters and emergencies throughout the United States, and it’s supported by some of the biggest powerbrokers in America.

American intelligence agencies are now bypassing court orders to wiretap citizens’ telephones, spy on their e-mails, and monitor their financial transactions, and the USA Patriot Act forces corporations, booksellers, librarians, and doctors to turn over previously confidential information about Americans to the state.

Thousands of human rights, environmental, anti-war, and other citizens’ groups have been infiltrated by government agents, many of whom have clearly acted as agent provocateurs in order to undermine the groups’ solidarity and to legitimize police actions against them.

Political opponents listed

America’s Transportation Security Administration maintains a terrorist watch list of tens of thousands of Americans who are now subjected to security searches and arbitrary detention at airports. The list includes people like Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy and respected constitutional scholar Walter F Murphy.

US Attorneys, CIA agents, military lawyers, and other civil servants who’ve disagreed with the Bush administration have been threatened and fired. David Horowitz and his colleagues have mounted a well-funded nation-wide intimidation campaign that has university students spying on their professors and that has successfully coerced regents at State Universities to discipline or fire left-leaning professors like Ward Churchill. The regime’s supporters have organized campaigns to damage the careers of artists like the Dixie Chicks for criticism of the president and his policies.

The administration has Fox News in its pocket, it has paid journalists for positive coverage, it has disseminated misinformation through the media, and it’s ferociously attacking critical journalists. Arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high. The Bush administration’s outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame was done in retaliation against her husband, Joseph Wilson, whose New York Times op-ed piece exposed lies that the Bush administration used to lead the nation to war. Worse than this, independent journalists appear to be marked for death by American forces in Iraq. In her Huffington Post article, Wolf writes, “The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. . . . In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN’s Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.” The goal of these tactics, as she writes in The End of America, is to create “a new reality in which the truth can no longer be ascertained and no longer counts.”

Dissent = treason

In recent years, prominent Republicans like Ann Coulter, Melanie Morgan, and William Kristol have accused liberal journalists of treason and espionage for publishing leaked material damaging to the administration, and in February 2007, Republican Congressman Don Young said “Congressmen who wilfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are sabateurs, and should be hanged.” This would be amusing, were it not for the Bush administration’s revival of the draconian 1917 Espionage Act after half a century’s slumber.

And finally, the Bush administration shows contempt for the law. In The End of America, Wolf writes that Bush has used more signing statements than any previous president, and by doing so has relegated “Congress to an advisory role. This abuse lets the President choose what laws he wishes to enforce or not, overruling Congress and the people. So Americans are living under laws their representatives never passed. Signing statements put the president above the law.” He has also gutted the Posse Comitatus Act, which was created to prevent the president from maintaining a standing army for use against American citizens. Wolf writes that the 2007 Defence Authorization Bill lets the president “expand his power to declare martial law and take charge of the National Guard troops without the permission of the governor when ‘public order’ has been lost; he can send these troops out into our streets at his direction—overriding local law enforcement authorities—during a national disaster, epidemic, serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or ‘other condition.’” On its own, this is an incredible expansion of presidential power, but when combined with the use of military contractors like Blackwater it gives the president almost dictatorial authority.

Wolf shows that fascist shifts don’t happen overnight, but rather over a course of years during which the fascists’ plans unfold at an accelerating pace. Germany in 1933 was further along this path than it was in 1931, and Germany in 1935 was farther along than it was in 1933. Similarly, America in 2007 is farther along the path than it was in 2005, or will be in 2009, provided that a massive pro-democracy movement, complete with impeachment proceedings, doesn’t reverse the shift while there’s still time. A simple Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election won’t do the job unless the institutional and legal environment created by the Bush administration is thoroughly dismantled. Regardless of whether the next president is a Republican or a Democrat, he or she will inherit a legacy of centralized power that a democracy simply can’t tolerate.

Left behind

Unfortunately, during the shift opposition politicians and activists still tend to perceive the world through a democratic frame of reference, and this prevents them from seeing that their opponents are no longer operating within this frame. As the opposition is tying its boxing gloves, the fascists are breaking out the machetes.

Wolf’s work has its problems. She doesn’t acknowledge that Black and Indigenous Americans have long lived under quasi-fascist rule, she doesn’t examine the role that previous administrations have played in setting the stage for the Bush regime, and she doesn’t acknowledge the roles played by corporatism, widespread social dislocation and the radical Christian right in the rise of a fascist American zeitgeist. Despite this, The End of America needs to be read by as many people as possible.

Wolf writes about America, but Canadians don’t have any cause for comfort. Canadian and American military forces are already deeply enmeshed. Thanks to NAFTA, we’re tied at the hip to the American economy, while the Security and Prosperity Partnership is integrating our countries’ security forces and harmonizing our no-fly lists. The Harper government is eager to kowtow to the Americans, even to the point of refusing to advocate for Canadian citizens on American death rows. The powerful think tanks and lobbying groups that influence our provincial and federal governments, such as the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, either can’t see the shift for what it is or they don’t care. More than all of this, however, is the simple reality that once the shift is complete, the American government will act even more irrationally and belligerently than before. Canada has resources like oil and water the United States is going to need, and the Canadian border is less defensible than the French border was in 1940.

Americans and Canadians have to fight back more fiercely than ever before, to organize and lobby and fill the streets with mass protests, to raise awareness and forge alliances with anyone opposed to totalitarianism regardless of whether they’re liberals, socialists, or conservatives. We have to take all the steps that have rescued dying democracies in the past, and to take them immediately, in the desperate hope that it isn’t already too late.

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