Why the Kissinger Connection Matters

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”
Anthony Bourdain, A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

While Armchair Firebrand does not condone, endorse or encourage acts of violence, this publication certainly understands the sentiment Mr. Bourdain expressed in the quote above.

For me, the moment of truth on Hillary Clinton was when Sen. Bernie Sanders called her out for praising Henry Kissinger as her mentor during one of the primary debates.

At the time, my first thought was that Sen. Sanders overstepped because no Democrat Secretary of State would ever overtly state such a close relationship with a well-documented war criminal. Instead, Clinton replied by saying something to the effect of, “Yes, I take advice from him and I am proud to call him my friend.” My jaw hit the floor. It was like a spell had been broken.

For the first time, I actually started researching Clinton’s history, and was disgusted by what I found. Her record is disturbingly Nixonian, right down to the dirty tricks, militarism, and power-driven paranoia.

Given Ms. Clinton’s neoconservative foreign policy positions, it makes sense that G.W. Bush’s foreign policy team is lining up right behind her. That fact should give any responsible citizen pause.

Some Kissinger defenders seem to imply that the ends justified his destructive means. That argument makes me curious about what we actually gained from roughly 60,000 American deaths, over a million Vietnamese deaths, roughly a million Laotian deaths, and roughly 700,000 Cambodian deaths.

Did those deaths make the world any safer? Were our vital national interests ever really at stake in Indochina? In Iraq? In Afghanistan? In Libya? In Syria? Or do these disasters primarily serve the needs of well-connected energy conglomerates and defense contractors.

Kissinger’s illegal excursion into Cambodia led to the rise of Pol Pot, and the ensuing genocide that destabilized the region for decades. And then there’s Chile, East Timor, and Operation Condor to consider.

Kissinger’s well-documented actions go far beyond those of a usual Secretary of State. Christopher Hitchens, hardly a pacifist himself, makes a compelling case for Kissinger’s indictment as a war criminal.

It’s no wonder Mr. Bourdain feels the level of animosity towards Kissinger demonstrated in the quote above. The fact that Kissenger’s favorite disciple is already sounding the drums of war should alarm all Americans.

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Breaking The Wheel

Fans of HBO’s hit drama Game of Thrones are surely familiar with Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen: The Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, and rightful ruler of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men. Lately, however, the Dragon Queen may have taken on a larger historical significance. To me, she seems to represent the restless spirit of the emerging progressive movement sparked by Bernie Sanders’ candidacy.

Earlier this season, Danaerys engaged in a strategy session with one of her advisers, the diminutive but formidable Tyrion Lannister. As they discuss the possibility of ruling without the rich, the Dragon Queen describes the Great Houses of Westeros as “spokes on a wheel” crushing those on the ground beneath them. The Khaleesi ends the conversation by declaring defiantly, “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.”

For twenty of the last 35 years, we have been ruled by either a Bush or a Clinton.  To me, neither House performed  well enough to deserve another term. And the conventional wisdom was that the 2016 election would be another showdown between these two decrepit Houses, before a certain orange-hued billionaire buffoon bloviated his way to the Republican nomination.

Thus, our two major parties also seem like spokes on a wheel, crushing the American People beneath them. This is especially true given the grim economic realities their failed leadership has brought us.

All evidence indicates that most Americans hunger for an alternative to the stale, two party status quo. In a 5/18 Data Targeting poll, 55% of Americans said they favor an independent challenger to Clinton and Trump. And according to a June ABC News/Washington Post poll, 70% of Americans view Donald Trump unfavorably and 55% view Hillary Clinton unfavorably.

The Democrat Party has made it clear they have no interest in embracing the grassroots, progressive movement Bernie Sanders ignited. Thus, it seems essential to seize this historic moment by channeling the passion and energy the Sanders campaign generated into a viable progressive third party.

Put simply, we are not interested in stopping the wheel by electing an Establishment Democrat for the third consecutive time. We want to break the wheel by relegating the two-party paradigm to the dustbin of history.

This year, Game of Thrones’ season finale ended with the Dragon Queen sailing across the Narrow Sea with her army of freed slaves, bent on liberating her homeland from a corrupt, repressive monarchy that fails to meet the People’s basic needs. Perhaps, this image will prove to be a harbinger of things to come, a peaceful political revolution resulting in real reform.

Dear President Obama, Please Visit Baton Rouge

Dear President Obama,

I applaud your decision to speak at the July memorial service for the five officers tragically slain in Dallas. Your thoughtful words offered comfort to a city left reeling from a terrible tragedy. Those words also made me recall the rousing eulogy you gave at the Emmanuel A.M.E Church following another tragic mass shooting last year in Charleston. The way you described the concept of grace that day was thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring. To me, that was one of the finest moments of your Presidency, and a proud moment for our country.

Accordingly, I respect you a great deal as a man of character and conviction, even though I have not always agreed with your decisions. I campaigned and voted for you twice, and I am proud to have defended you countless times against myriad slights, often baseless and ignorant. To me, you seem like someone who sincerely appreciates the value of human life, and empathizes with the suffering of fellow human beings.

Therefore, it is with the utmost respect that I implore you to visit the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana before your presidency ends. To me, it seems like a community still very much in need of healing. All video evidence of Alton Sterling’s shooting seems to indicate that his killing by local police amounted to summary execution. Witnesses have been intimidated and harassed. An entire community appears to be under siege by a militarized police force, armed with combat vehicles and assault weapons.

To some, your decision to pass over the grieving communities of Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota where Philando Castile was also tragically killed by local police, may seem to imply that our government values blue lives more than black lives.

Clearly, that is not what you believe in your heart. I am merely suggesting how the situation may seem to our fellow Americans living in marginalized communities across the country who feel under siege by an aggressive, militarized police force that often seems to kill with impunity. You have the opportunity to do for those communities  what you did when you stood before that congregation in Charleston last year, and joined them in song.

To me, taking a stand for the inherent rights and dignity of all human beings by offering some quantum of solace to communities who suffered tragic losses at the hands of law enforcement will have a tremendously positive impact on your legacy. Doing so would also constitute a step forward for our country, as we come together to move forward as one nation and one people.

 

The Moral & Spiritual Case for Dr. Jill Stein

After enduring two major party conventions and weeks of campaigning, the choice seems clear: do we want a President who will persecute undocumented immigrants and people of color here at home, or a President who will drop bombs on civilians in the Middle East, and escalate tensions with a nuclear armed Russia abroad? In other words, do we want a disastrous domestic policy that destroys lives, or a disastrous foreign policy that destroys lives? This false choice presents quite a quandary for those of us seeking a candidate who represents our moral and spiritual values.

Armchair Firebrand draws a stark distinction between deeply held religious beliefs and deeply held spiritual beliefs. The former often implies an almost cult-like devotion to a dogmatic set of rules, while the latter generally applies to much broader principles regarding the nature of existence, the human condition, and the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. Additionally, religion is often associated with an opposition to science, while spirituality generally embraces science, and explores its boundaries.

Armchair Firebrand values human life as precious above all else. Therefore, Armchair Firebrand makes no distinction between American lives, Palestinian lives, or Russian lives. To this publication, killing civilians abroad in the name of an endless “war on terror” that serves only the interests of the military-industrial complex, is worse than promoting an insanely restrictive immigration policy, which would seem to have very little chance of being implemented for a host of constitutionalsocioeconomic, and political reasons.

That’s no kind of choice. Armchair Firebrand fundamentally rejects a system that attempts to box the American People into such an absurd choice. Thus, Armchair Firebrand proudly endorses Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein as the only candidate who represents this publication’s moral, political and spiritual values.

For instance, Dr. Stein is the only candidate in the Presidential race who stands for an aggressive response to climate change by getting us off fossil fuel by 2030. Dr. Stein also advocates strongly for a Green New Deal jobs program providing 20 million good jobs to replace and repair our crumbling infrastructure. Moreover, Dr. Stein believes in universal healthcare as a right, not a privilege, and in making public colleges and universities tuition free. These bold stances reflect the moral and spiritual values for which Armchair Firebrand stands.

Armchair Firebrand strongly believes that voting for a candidate who represents one’s values and interests is the very essence of democracy. Dr. Stein represents Armchair Firebrand’s values and interests. Therefore, she has earned this publication’s strong endorsement.