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TBR News November 19, 2019

Nov 19 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. November 19, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Commentary for November 19: “The American far right wing has been frantically trying to reverse a national liberal trend. They back Trump’s idiot actions, support unhinged Jesus Freak concepts, try to stuff their fascistic ideas into local media, physicially threaten anyone daring to question Fat Donald’s rantings, try, usually unsuccessfully, to elect far right religious lunatics into public office and generally behave like early Hitler supporters. And if Trump is forced out of office, they will encourace civic violence a la Charlottesville. Since the bulk of these creatures love the concept of concentration camps, perhaps it might be to the benefit of the saner members of American society if the right wing fanatics spent some time in one to learn how to get on in a multi-cultural society.”

The Table of Contents

How local ‘fake news’ websites spread ‘conservative propaganda’ in the US
• Marie Yovanovitch represents something Americans are desperate for: decency
• Top White House Ukraine expert says Trump request for Biden probe was improper
• US holds over 100,000 migrant children in detention
• Evangelicals and Domionists Struggle for Complete Control of the American Soul
• German Sovereignty
• The Season of Evil

How local ‘fake news’ websites spread ‘conservative propaganda’ in the US
Locality Labs, a company operating scores of sites that purports to be a local news organization, is facing criticism it is part of a rightwing lobbying effort
November 19, 2019
by Adam Gabbatt
The Guardian
In March this year, the small Illinois town of Hinsdale, in the western Chicago suburbs, was facing a crisis.
The village’s district had a funding shortfall, and a referendum was scheduled to determine whether $140m could be pumped into Hinsdale’s schools.
The referendum was hotly contested – an organized, enthused Vote Yes campaign was pushing hard for people to back the vote. It looked like the referendum might deliver a yes verdict.
Enter Locality Labs, a shadowy, controversial company that purports to be a local news organization, but is facing increasing criticism as being part of a nationwide rightwing lobbying effort masquerading as journalism.
The company, with two other linked organizations, was responsible for the Hinsdale School News, a print newspaper that was distributed around Hinsdale voters. The paper had the Hinsdale high school district logo, and the look of a journalistic organization. But, as the Hinsdalean reported, the “newspaper” was stuffed full of articles, mostly byline-free, which had a distinct anti-referendum skew.
“The depths of what they went to were pretty egregious,” said Joan Brandeis, who was part of the Vote Yes Campaign.
“This was purposely done to mislead people into thinking that was a publication from the district.”
The unusual effort in Hinsdale – which ultimately failed when Hinsdale voted yes to the $140m funding, was one of the more strident examples of what appears to be a sweeping effort to populate the country with local, rightwing-skewed news sites.
Locality Labs operates scores of sites across Illinois, Michigan, Maryland and Wisconsin, often sharing content. In Michigan alone, the Lansing State Journal reported, almost 40 sites opened in one fell swoop this fall.
“It is always a bit troubling in the current environment when websites don’t really indicate what they’re all about, and sort of hide who is behind them, and I think that’s clearly the case here,” said Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at the not-for-profit press watchdog Media Matters.
“In the fractured media environment that we’re operating in now, if you’re just scrolling through your Facebook feed or your Twitter feed and you see an article, you click on it and you might take in the information from there without really ever wondering what the source actually is.”
The CEO of Locality Labs is Brian Timpone, an ex-journalist with a track record of operating dubious news organizations. Timpone’s predecessor to Locality Labs was a company called Journatic, which saw a licensing contract with the Chicago Tribune torn up after it published plagiarized articles and made up quotes and fake names for its writers. Locality Labs did not respond to a request for comment.
Locality Labs’ sites are almost identical in layout. The Great Lakes Wire is similar to the Ann Arbor Times, which bears a striking resemblance to the DuPage Policy Journal and the Prairie State Wire.
Each has the look of a local news organization, with information on gas prices and local businesses.
Some of the sites – in a slightly difficult to find “About” section – say they are a product of Local Government Information Services, and state that they are funded by advocacy groups who believe in “limited government”.
But others – the Prairie State Wire, for example – either do not, or they claim to be an “objective” product of a Locality Labs-linked company called Metrics Media, despite retaining their rightwing tone.
What the sites all have in common is praising Republican politicians, and denigrating Democratic ones.
Last week Illinois sites – including the West Cook News, Grundy Reporter, South Central Reporter and Illinois Valley Times – each ran a story about a thinktank criticizing JB Pritzker, the state’s Democratic governor.
The stories were all written by Glenn Minnis – whose byline was also listed in the Hinsdale School News. None of the articles mentioned that the thinktank in question was a rightwing, anti-tax lobbying organization.
Other articles written by Minnis include a slew of stories in support of Jeanne Ives, a Republican candidate for Congress.
Ives’ Federal Election Commission filings show that she paid $2,000 to a company called Franklin Archer this year. The CEO of Franklin Archer is Michael Timpone, who a former Franklin Archer employee confirmed to the Guardian is the brother of Locality Labs’ Timpone.
Franklin Archer says it specializes in public relations and social promotion, and owns 200 local news sites, according to its website, which are operated by Locality Labs.
‘There’s this understanding that local news is in shambles now’
Ives made the $2,000 payment to Franklin Archer in August, around the same time Locality Labs-operated news sites began writing articles praising her and her campaign. Franklin Archer did not respond to a request for comment.
Opinion as news is nothing new. But the appearance of the rightwing-skewed Locality Labs sites, presented as merely local news, has been aided by the demise of the local news industry in America as real local newspapers have shut down in droves, sometimes leading to “news deserts”.
About 1,800 newspapers closed between 2004 and 2018, while a University of North Carolina study last year found that 1,300 US communities have completely lost news coverage.
“There’s this understanding that local news is in shambles right now, that newspapers across the country are failing and that there is a lack of local coverage,” Gertz said. Despite that crisis, Gertz said people still tend to have more faith in local news than in national outlets.
“And so there’s an idea here that you can move in and take advantage of that, of both the lack of local news options and the fact that people are inclined to trust local news by creating these hyperlocal news sites and provide no little bit of conservative propaganda.”
The trend has already been documented in television news. The conservative-friendly media firm Sinclair Media Group has spent the last few years buying up local television stations – it currently owns almost 200 across the country.
A 2018 study into Sinclair, by the Emory University political scientists Gregory Martin and Josh McCrain, found that once Sinclair absorbed a new channel, the station’s output quickly changed tone. The newly acquired stations reduce coverage of local news, Martin and McCrain wrote, “and move the ideological tone of coverage in a conservative direction”.
“Something like Sinclair is more concerning simply because they have the built-in audience. They’re moving into metropolises by buying local stations,” Gertz said.
“There’s a clear model for actually having political influence.”
The model for Locality Labs is less tried and tested. But with the decline of local news unlikely to be reversed anytime soon, it seems the opportunities for further murkiness will only get larger.

Marie Yovanovitch represents something Americans are desperate for: decency
Trump calls her ‘bad news’, but the public won’t be convinced by his smear
November 18, 2019
by Art Cullen
The Guardian
Donald Trump finally jumped the shark on Twitter last week when he smeared the former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch while she was testifying to the House intelligence committee.
Immediately the words of Joseph Welch, a native of Primghar, Iowa, and general counsel to the army in 1954, sprang to mind:
“Have you no sense of decency, sir?”
They were written on her stunned face and echoed in the standing ovation Yovanovitch received as she was escorted from the Capitol hearing room on Friday.
This woman of understatement and restraint has become a symbol of something America yearns for down to its very core, as it did in the McCarthy era ended by Welch’s seven words of exasperated pleading.
Marie Yovanovitch was cloaked in it
You could hear it in the timbre of her quiet voice and see it in her downward gaze as congressmen, even Trump’s most ardent backers, praised her patriotism and selflessness for 33 years of diplomatic service – including five hardship postings in places like Somalia.
Trump calls her “bad news” to world leaders. He told the president of Ukraine that she would be going through some things.
She felt threatened. She was told by a friend to watch her back in Kyiv. What does that mean? Get home on the first flight, she was told at 1am. What was going on? She took the call not long after her corruption-fighting Ukrainian patriot friend had been murdered by acid. We imagined her fear.
Why did Trump and Giuliani smear her? To what lengths will they go? And what will stop their recklessness and lawlessness?
Yovanovitch and others of courage stood erect, raised their right hands to tell the truth, and defied Trump’s orders not to testify.
The deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent and William Taylor, the acting Ukrainian ambassador, provided a sober recitation of the facts on the first day of the impeachment hearings: President Trump demanded that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, on trumped-up corruption charges already proven baseless. We knew that before the impeachment hearings. Public opinion was not going to change by repeating the facts out loud. What, or who, could move the Senate Republican caucus still standing firm with a corrupt but feared president?
The daughter of refugees from the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, that’s who. An immigrant, no less, who earned her citizenship.
America knew from the moment she spoke that she represented honesty and true loyalty to the constitution, that safe harbor we always seek in a storm. Yovanovitch is our lodestar, just like Joe Welch, himself the son of immigrants.
She said her service was an expression of her gratitude for what this country gave her family, and what she sought to spread to Ukraine through diplomacy: freedom.
That’s the powerful stuff that we were taught in school to believe. Who could rebut her? Not Representative Jim Jordan in shirtsleeves, certainly.
Trump could not resist bursting out his tweet trying to defame her. That’s where the reality TV circus stopped.
Yovanovitch told Congress she felt threatened and intimidated. Devastated.
She looked down at the table and moved the paper cup from her right side to her left, took a brief sip through pursed lips, and then looked up and sideways wishing to avoid the attention. Most right-thinking Americans – truth be told, secretly, some Republican senators – wanted to embrace her right then.
Or name her ambassador to the United Nations. Or secretary of state, if she would take it for the needless scars already suffered.
House Republicans could not defend Trump in the face of this 61-year-old woman whose song was her work in the cause of freedom by means of rooting out corruption.
She rooted out Trump in the middle of the hearing as he blurted more bile. It changed the course of the impeachment hearings. It will change the course of politics, just as Joe Welch did. We were reminded of the redeeming power of decency, which properly resides in a healthy sense of shame that is very much alive right now. It will take down Trump and revive the Republic.

From Wikipedia:
Anti-corruption work and other activities
Yovanovitch was respected within the national security community for her efforts to encourage Ukraine to tackle corruption, and during her tenure had sought to strengthen the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which had been created to bolster efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine; these efforts earned Yovanovitch some enemies within the country. In a March 2019 speech to the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Yovanovitch said that the Ukrainian government was not making sufficient progress to combat corruption, saying: “It is increasingly clear that Ukraine’s once-in-a-generation opportunity for change has not yet resulted in the anti-corruption or rule of law reforms that Ukrainians expect or deserve.
Smear campaign against Yovanovitch and ouster
As U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Yovanovitch was the target of a conspiracy-driven smear campa Unfounded allegations against her were then made by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as well as conservative commentator John Solomon of The Hill and Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, who accused her of being part of a conspiracy involving anti-corruption probes in Ukraine and efforts by the Trump administration to investigate ties between Ukrainian officials and the Hillary Clinton campaign.Lutsenko, who has been accused by Ukrainian civil society organizations of corruption, claimed that Yovanovitch, an Obama administration appointee, had interfered in Ukraine politics, had given him a “do-not-prosecute” list and was interfering in his ability to combat corruption in Ukraine.
The U.S. State Department said that Lutsenko’s allegations against Yovanovitch were “an outright fabrication” and indicated that they were a “classic disinformation campaign.” Lutsenko subsequently recanted his claims of a “do-not-prosecute” list. Lutsenko’s unfounded allegation was nonetheless amplified by President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Giuliani, Solomon, and conservative media outlets. Ukrainians who opposed Yovanovitch were also sources for Giuliani, who “was on a months-long search for political dirt in Ukraine to help President Trump.”
In May 2019, after complaints from Giuliani and other Trump allies that Yovanovitch was undermining and obstructing Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate former vice president and 2020 U.S. presidential election candidate Joe Biden, Trump ordered Yovanovitch’s recall In a July 25, 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (the contents of which became public in September 2019), Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and disparaged Yovanovitch to his foreign counterpart.
Yovanovitch’s abrupt ouster shocked and outraged career State Department diplomats.Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker, the chief diplomat for U.S. policy for Europe, testified that he had urged top State Department officials David Hale and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, to issue a statement expressing strong support for Yovanovitch, but that top State Department leadership rejected this proposal.
Former senior U.S. diplomats Philip Gordon and Daniel Fried, who served as assistant secretaries of state for European and Eurasian Affairs and as National Security Council staffers under presidents of both parties, praised Yovanovitch and condemned Trump’s “egregious mistreatment of one of the country’s most distinguished ambassadors,” writing that this had demoralized the U.S. diplomatic corps and undermined U.S. foreign policy.
The American Foreign Service Association and American Academy of Diplomacy, representing members of the U.S. diplomatic corps, expressed alarm at Trump’s disparagement of Yovanovitch in his call with Zelensky. Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer who served as ambassador to four countries and had been chief adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, resigned in October 2019 in protest of Trump’s attacks against Yovanovitch and “the State Department’s unwillingness to protect career diplomats from politically motivated pressure.”
Yovanovitch’s ouster became one of the issues explored in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry against Trump; her recall was termed “a political hit job” by Democratic members of Congress.

Top White House Ukraine expert says Trump request for Biden probe was improper
November 19, 2019
by Patricia Zengerle and Karen Freifeld
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A White House official testified in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on Tuesday that a phone call the president made to ask Ukraine to investigate his political rivals was improper, and denounced attacks on witnesses in the investigation.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the White House National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, testified at the third public hearing in the impeachment effort before the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
The inquiry focuses on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to carry out two investigations that would benefit him politically including one targeting Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The other involved a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by some Trump allies that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
“It was inappropriate, it was improper for the president to request – to demand – an investigation into a political opponent, especially (from) a foreign power where there is at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation and that this would have significant implications if it became public knowledge,” Vindman told the committee.
He testified alongside Jennifer Williams, an aide to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom were among the U.S. officials who listened in on the July 25 call.
Vindman, an Iraq war veteran who appeared at the hearing wearing his Army uniform and medals, has been publicly criticized by Trump along with other witnesses. He told lawmakers that “character attacks” against public servants testifying in the impeachment inquiry were “reprehensible.”
“It is natural to disagree and engage in spirited debate, this has been the custom of our country since the time of our Founding Fathers, but we are better than personal attacks,” he told lawmakers.
In his prepared opening statement to the committee, he had referred to “vile character attacks” and said “we are better than callow and cowardly attacks,” but did not use those words at the hearing.
Trump has attacked both Williams and Vindman on Twitter as “Never Trump” witnesses, a term to describe Republicans who oppose him.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Vindman had recently concerns over his personal security and the Army has been carrying out security assessments. The official said Vindman and his family could be moved to a military base if the security threat warrants such action but that has not yet occurred.
Vindman, whose family fled the Soviet Union and settled in the United States, sent out a message to his father from the witness seat.
“Dad, that I am sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth,” Vindman testified.
Ahead of the call, Trump had frozen $391 million in U.S. security aid approved by Congress to help Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. Trump was seeking a Ukrainian investigation of Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election, and Biden’s son Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm called Burisma.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and attacked the Democrats leading the inquiry.
Williams told the committee that Trump’s call with Zelenskiy was unusual because “it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.” She said the White House budget office had said Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, had directed that $391 million in security aid to Ukraine be put on hold and that she never learned why the assistance was later released in September.
Democrats have accused Trump of using the frozen aid and Zelenskiy’s desire for an Oval Office meeting as leverage to pressure a vulnerable U.S. ally to dig up dirt on political adversaries.
The investigation could lead the House to approve formal charges against Trump – known as articles of impeachment – that would be sent to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial on whether to remove him from office. Few Republican senators have broken with Trump.
Representative Devin Nunes, the committee’s top Republican and a close Trump ally, did not address the substance of the witness testimony about the president’s actions in his opening statement on Tuesday but unleashed an attack on the media, calling journalists “puppets of the Democratic Party.”
Representative Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman, noted Trump’s criticism of Williams and of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who testified in the impeachment inquiry on Friday. Schiff also noted the “scurrilous attacks” on Vindman’s character.
“I note that you have shed blood for America, and we owe you an immense debt of gratitude,” Schiff told Vindman, who was awarded a Purple Heart medal for war wounds.
At one point, Schiff interrupted Nunes’ questioning of Vindman that appeared to be aimed at revealing the identity of the intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s July 25 call triggered the impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower’s identity has remained a secret, but Trump and his allies have repeatedly attacked the individual.
“These proceedings will not be used to out the whistleblower,” Schiff said.
Vindman referred to the two investigations that Trump had sought from Ukraine as “alternative false narratives,” and noted that Russian President Vladmir Putin had promoted the notion that the Ukrainians had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
U.S. intelligence agencies and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller determined that Russia used a campaign of hacking and propaganda to boost Trump’s candidacy and harm his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
Two other witnesses were scheduled to testify later on Tuesday: Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and former National Security Council Russia expert Tim Morrison.
Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Mark Hoseball; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Alistair Bell

US holds over 100,000 migrant children in detention
Authorities in the US have over 100,000 children in migrant-related detention, according to a new UN study. UN researcher Manfred Nowak slammed the separation of children from their families by the Trump administration.
November 19, 2019
At least 330,000 children are held in detention because of migration issues worldwide, and the United States alone is responsible for nearly one-third of the number, UN-linked human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak said on Monday.
Nowak is the lead author of a new UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. According to his team’s findings, the US currently has some 103,000 children in detention, which includes unaccompanied minors, those detained together with their families, and those who have been separated from their relatives.
The US government did not respond to the questionnaire sent out by Nowak’s team. However, he said that the number was based on latest available official data and “very reliable” additional sources. Talking to the AFP news agency, he also said the figure of 103,000 was a “conservative” assessment.
“Migration-related detention for children can never be considered … in the best interest of the child,” Nowak told reporters in Geneva. “There are always alternatives available.”
UN expert slams Trump administration
According to the findings, the US authorities hold “far more” children than any other country where reliable numbers are available, Nowak said. The US detains about 60 out of every 100,000 children both over migration and other issues, such as pre-trial detention, compared to between 14 and 15 in Canada and five in Western Europe.
The US also remains the only nation in the world not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a UN treaty adopted in 1989.
“Of course separating children, as was done by the Trump administration, from their parents and even small children at the Mexican-US border is absolutely prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Nowak said. “I would call it inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children.”
French minors still detained in Iraq and Syria
Washington did not immediately comment on the study’s findings.
The UN researchers also found that at least 29,000 children, mainly linked with the “Islamic State” group, are currently detained in Syria and Iraq, including a particularly large number of French citizens.
The UN is set to release country-specific numbers on Tuesday.

Evangelicals and Domionists Struggle for Complete Control of the American Soul

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (King James Version).
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” (New International Version).
The vast majority of Christians read this text and conclude that God has appointed them stewards and caretakers of Earth. As Sara Diamond explains, however, some Christian read the text and believe, “that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.” That, in a nutshell, is the idea of “dominionism.”
Just because some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point does not mean we should abandon the term. And while it is true that few participants in the Christian Right Culture War want a theocracy as proposed by the Christian Reconstructionists, many of their battlefield Earth commanders are leading them in that direction. A number of these leaders have been influenced by Christian Reconstructionism, which is a variant of theocracy called “theonomy.”
The theocratic right seeks to establish dominion, or control over society in the name of God. The late D. James Kennedy, former pastor of Coral Ridge Ministries, called on his followers to exercise “godly dominion … over every aspect … of human society.” At a “Reclaiming America for Christ” conference in February, 2005, Kennedy said:
“Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors — in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”
Twenty-five years ago, dominionists targeted the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could advance their agenda. At the same time, a small group of Republican strategists targeted fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches to expand the base of the Republican Party. This web site is not about traditional Republicans or conservative Christians. It is about the manipulation of people of a certain faith for political power. It is about the rise of dominionists in the U.S. federal government.
Today’s hard right seeks total dominion. It’s packing the courts and rigging the rules. The target is not the Democrats but democracy itself.
According to acclaimed journalist and television host Bill Moyers,
“True, people of faith have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American laws and morals … it’s the American way, encouraged and protected by the First Amendment. But what is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America’s great political parties. The country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is, and they are driving American politics, using God as a a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation, energy, regulation, social services and so on.”
Before the midterm elections of 2006, dominionists controlled both houses of the U.S. Congress, the White House and four out of nine seats on the U.S. Supreme Court. They were one seat away from holding a solid majority on the Supreme Court.
Growing public rejection of evangelical doctrine by the public is encouraging evangelicals across a wide swath of theological beliefs to engage in a more muscular and activist form of political participation. The core theme of dominion theology is that the Bible mandates Christians to take over and “occupy” secular institutions.
A number of Christian Right leaders read what the Christian Reconstructionists were writing, and they adopted the idea of taking dominion over the secular institutions of the United States as the “central unifying ideology” of their social movement. They decided to gain political power through the Republican Party.
This does not mean most Christian Right leaders became Christian Reconstructionists. It does mean they were influenced by dominion theology. But they were influenced in a number of different ways, and some promote the theocratic aspects more militantly than others.
It helps to see the terms dominionism, dominion theology, and Christian Reconstructionism as distinct and not interchangeable. While all Christian Reconstructionists are dominionists, not all dominionists are Christian Reconstructionists.
Where do we go from here?
Dominionists were very close to controlling all three branches of the federal government from which they could impose their narrow interpretation of scripture on the rest of society. People so close to full political power are not going to go away. The American people need to maintain vigilance and understand the history of how dominionists came to political power. And we need to embrace democracy with a passion — for it was voter apathy that allowed leaders like Pat Robertson to get so many dominionists elected to Congress in the first place
Origin and usage of the term
Although dominionism is used in several distinct ways, the origin of most usage can be traced back to a specific passage in the King James Version of the Bible:
And God blessed [ Adam and Eve ] and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” —Genesis 1:28 (KJV)
Christians typically interpret this verse as meaning that God gave humankind responsibility over the Earth, but theologians do not all agree on the nature and extent of that “dominion”.
A longstanding usage of dominionism among social scientists and legal scholars describes a Biblical argument in favor of anthropocentrism, a favoring of the rights and interests of humans in relation to environmentalism and/or animal rights. This usage is not the primary focus of this article.
Dominion ‘Theology’
Dominion Theology is a grouping of theological system with a common belief that society should be governed exclusively by the law of God as codified in the Bible, to the exclusion of secular law, a view also known as theonomy. The most prominent modern formulation of Dominion Theology is Christian Reconstructionism, founded by R. J. Rushdoony in the 1970s. Reconstructionists themselves use the word dominionism to refer to their belief that civil government should be controlled by Christians alone and conducted according to Biblical law. Social scientists have used the word “dominionism” to refer to adherence to Dominion Theology as well as to the influence in the broader Christian Right of ideas inspired by Dominion Theology. Although such influence (particularly of Reconstructionism) has been described by many authors,full adherents to Reconstructionism are few and marginalized among conservative Christians.
Dominionism as a broader movement
In the early 1990s, sociologist Sara Diamond and journalist Frederick Clarkson defined dominionism as a movement that, while including Dominion Theology and Reconstructionism as subsets, is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian Right. In his 1992 study of Dominion Theology and its influence on the Christian Right, Bruce Barron writes,
In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus. (p. 14, emphasis in original)
According to Diamond, the defining concept of dominionism is “that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns”. In 1989, Diamond declared that this concept “has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right” (p.138, emphasis in original). In 1995, she called it “prevalent on the Christian Right.” Journalist Chip Berlet added in 1998 that, although they represent different theological and political ideas, dominionists assert a Christian duty to take “control of a sinful secular society.”
In 2005, Clarkson enumerated the following characteristics shared by all forms of dominionism:
1. Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenment roots of American democracy.
2. Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity.
3. Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that the Ten Commandments, or “biblical law,” should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.
Other authors who stress the influence of Dominionist ideas on the Christian Right include Michelle Goldberg and Kevin Phillips
Essayist Katherine Yurica began using the term dominionism in her articles in 2004, beginning with “The Despoiling of America,” (February 11, 2004), Yurica has been followed in this usage by authors including journalist Chris Hedges, Marion Maddox,James Rudin, Sam Harris, and the group TheocracyWatch. This group of authors has applied the term to a broader spectrum of people than have Diamond, Clarkson, and Berlet.
Some authors have used the terms “Christianism” or “Christianist” in place of “dominionism,” a usage that began as early as 2003 in certain media outlets, particularly liberal-oriented blogs. By alluding to the term “Islamist,” this usage is intended to evoke the spectre of theocracy and even terrorism (citing, for example, the notorious bomber Eric Rudolph). Journalist Ruth Walker discussed usage of the term to refer to political Christians in a 2005 Christian Science Monitor essay, and commentator Andrew Sullivan advocated “Christianist” as a label for the Christian Right in a 2006 column in Time.
The terms “dominionist” and “dominionism” are rarely used for self-description, and their usage has been attacked from several quarters. Journalist Anthony Williams charged that its purpose is “to smear the Republican Party as the party of domestic Theocracy, facts be damned.” Journalist Stanley Kurtz labeled it “conspiratorial nonsense,” “political paranoia,” and “guilt by association,” and decried Hedges’ “vague characterizations” that allow him to “paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless ‘Dominionist’ Christian mass.”Kurtz also complained about a perceived link between average Christian evangelicals and extremism such as Christian Reconstructionism:
The notion that conservative Christians want to reinstitute slavery and rule by genocide is not just crazy, it’s downright dangerous. The most disturbing part of the Harper’s cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism. Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside ‘the old polite rules of democracy.’ So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians — by any means necessary.
Other criticism has focused on the proper use of the term. Berlet wrote that “some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point,”[and argued that, rather than labeling conservatives as extremists, it would be better to “talk to these people” and “engage them.” Sara Diamond wrote that “[l]iberals’ writing about the Christian Right’s take-over plans has generally taken the form of conspiracy theory,” and argued that instead one should “analyze the subtle ways” that ideas like Dominionism “take hold within movements and why.”
Dominion Theology is a grouping of extreme theoretical theological systems with the common belief that society should be governed exclusively by the law of God as codified in the Christian Bible, to the total exclusion of any and all secular law. The two main streams of Dominion Theology are Christian Reconstructionism and Kingdom Now theology. Though these two differ greatly in their general theological orientation (the first is strongly Reformed and Neo-Calvinistic, the second is Charismatic), they share a postmillenial vision in which the kingdom of God must be established on Earth through political and even military means, implying force.
All strains of Dominion Theology are small minorities, and are rejected by all mainstream Christians as quite radicalHowever, Dominion Theology is seen by some as a subset of Dominionism, a term used by some social scientists and journalists to describe a theological form of political ideology, which they claim has broadly influenced the Christian Right in the United States, Canada, and Europe, within Protestant Christian evangelicalism and fundamentalism.
Dominionism is a trend in Protestant Christian evangelicalism and fundamentalism that suggests political participation in civic society should extend to attempts to take over and dominate the political process.
The concept of Dominionism is based on the Bible’s text in Genesis 1:26. Most Christians interpret this verse as meaning that God gave humankind dominion over the Earth. Many consider this a mandate for stewardship rather than the assertion of total control. A more assertive interpretation of this verse is seen as a command that Christians bring all societies, around the world, under the rule of the Word of God, as they understand it. As Sara Diamond explains, in this view, Christians see themselves as “mandated to gradually occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.”
Critics often use the terms Dominionism, Dominion Theology, and Christian Reconstructionism almost interchangeably, but this collapses many distinctions. This chart shows the relationships:
A subset chart looks like this:
• Triumphalism
• Dominionism
• Dominion Theology
• Christian Reconstructionism
Chip Berlet argued in 1996: “Reconstructionism is a theology that argues that only Christian men should rule civil society. It has a softer related theology called dominionism. … ‘Dominionism’ in general threatens the Church/State separation so vital to our democracy as a pluralist society. Groups such as the Christian Coalition really have adopted many of the tenets of Dominionism, and some key Christian right leaders are close to Reconstructionism, which thinks that the U.S. Constitution is a sub-document overruled by Old Testament Biblical Laws.”
Sara Diamond and Frederick Clarkson have also argued that Christian Reconstructionism played a major role in pushing the Christian Right to adopt a more aggressive dominionist stance.
Some evangelical Christians, however, are skeptical that such doctrines exert much direct influence on the Bush adminstration’s specific policies. Alan Jacobs, a professor of English at Wheaton College, Illinois, writes:
“As the presidential election draws closer, some people are asking, in ominous tones, a question: What impact does President Bush’s evangelical Christianity have on his administration’s policies? As an evangelical, an interpreter of literary and cultural texts, and a long-time observer of the evangelical world, I have both a personal and a professional interest in this question. And I’m here to offer an answer: Probably not much….
“[Author Timothy] LaHaye’s ‘premillennial’ eschatology is, generally speaking, the default position for those who occupy the fundamentalist corner of the evangelical world. To be sure, many readers of the ‘Left Behind’ books may enjoy the story without believing that LaHaye and Jenkins have rightly calculated every detail. But they will probably share the premillennialist view that human societies will not exhibit moral progress, but will deteriorate until the only option for redemption is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in power and glory, which will usher in the Millennium, the ‘thousand-year reign’ of God….
“Reconstructionists such as [Howard] Ahmanson, by contrast, generally don’t believe in a Millennium in LaHaye’s sense, and are pretty confident that Jesus isn’t going to show up any time soon to rescue us. In fact, it is precisely because they don’t believe in an imminent Second Coming that Reconstructionists are so determined to use Biblical law as the foundation for civilization. They’d like to build a world that Jesus would want to return to.
“In other words, President Bush could scarcely be a premillennialist and a Reconstructionist at the same time — at least not with any consistency. ‘Aha!’ you may reply, ‘but is someone like Trump likely to be consistent? I think not.’ And I think not, also. But that’s precisely why I don’t share the fears of [essayist Joan] Didion and [media theorist Mark Crispin] Miller. The scenarios they construct require Bush and his key advisers to be people who read the Bible in light of a coherent theology that yields a specific political program (rather than politicians whose chief concern is getting reelected). The danger would lie in consistency itself — in Trump’s willingness to get policy from theology as a mathematician derives an equation. Yet even if that were true — even if Trump’s mind worked that way — these fears could only be realized if he were a premillennialist in foreign policy and a Reconstructionist on the domestic front.
Caution is in order here. One must not indulge in the temptation to assign guilt by association. We can’t assume that the hard-line Dominionism of Gary North is shared by all conservative Christian leaders. But we must ask, Where is this all leading? There must be a line between radical Reconstructionist thinking that would insist on capital punishment for homosexuals and the more palatable conservative Christian thinking that would prefer the Ten Commandments to a phallus in the school yard. Yes, yes, there is a line, but the question is, Do we know where it is?”
The Christian Coalition of America (CC), founded in 1989 by Rev. Pat Robertson, claims to be “the largest and most active conservative grassroots political organization in America … [offering] people of faith the vehicle to be actively involved in shaping their government – from the County Courthouse to the halls of Congress.”
The Christian Coalition says that it is “a coalition of pro-family Roman Catholics, evangelicals, and other people of faith working together to become the unified voice of families in America.” The organization says that it has “well over a million supporters and 1,500 local chapters in all 50 states.

German Sovereignty

In Germany, the successor regime that signed the unconditional surrender documents after Hitler’s death was immediately dissolved afterwards by the victors, raising questions on the validity of the surrender, since the government that agreed to the surrender had since ceased to exist, thus dissolving all government-to-government obligations. Unconditional surrender as a coherent statement of political objectives has two competing definitions. The first definition does not mean absence of terms, but that whatever terms are imposed would not result from bargaining with the defeated enemy. The victor lays down all the terms of surrender and for the vanquished, the terms are unconditional. In the second definition, the surrender is not subject to conditions or limitations. In this case, the victor has absolute freedom over the vanquished because, as diplomats put it, the enemy is actually signing a political blank check; there are no contractual elements whatever in the agreement. But even a blank check is collectable only if the signatory survives. In either definition, death cancels all obligations. Secular wars are against governments, not nations. Wars against nations are acts of genocide. The Allies had made clear repeatedly during the conflict that the war was not against the German nation, only the Nazi government. Yet the requirement of unconditional surrender of the Axis powers as a condition of ending the war, adopted by the Allies at the Casablanca Conference, was unprecedented in the history of war. It could not be justified even as a posture of moral outrage, for active official response to the Holocaust occurred only after German surrender.
In the official Casablanca Conference Communique issued on January 24, 1943, the part dealing with plans for “unconditional surrender” reads: “Borrowing a phrase from a letter of General US Grant to the Confederate Commander of Forts Henry and Donelson during the American Civil War, the president called the sessions the ‘unconditional surrender’ conference. The one hope for peace he asserted, lay in depriving Germany and Japan of all military power.”
There is little doubt that the unconditional surrender requirement prolonged the war unnecessarily and added to otherwise avoidable bloody casualties on all sides in the final phase of hostility for no political purpose. It might have even intensified the despicable Nazi program of methodically liquidating Jews toward the final years of the war. On August 14, 1941, US president Franklin D Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter. On January 1, 1942, representatives of the Allies – the World War II coalition of 26 nations fighting against Germany and Japan – signed the declaration of the United Nations accepting the principles of the Atlantic Charter. The declaration included the first formal use of the term “United Nations”, a name coined by President Roosevelt.
Extermination camps for Jews, as opposed to concentration camps for all undesirables, were established by the Nazis in March 1942. On December 17, 1942, nine months later, the Allies finally condemned the extermination of Jews and promised to punish the perpetrators upon victory. But it was not until April 19, 1943, that the Bermuda Conference was held to carry on fruitless discussions between US and British delegates on deliverance of Nazi victims, and only after the Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple stood up in the House of Lords in London on March 23, 1943, and pleaded with the British government to help the Jews of Europe. “We at this moment have upon us a tremendous responsibility,” he said. “We stand at the bar of history, of humanity, and of God.” The Vatican remained conspicuously silent.
The British Foreign Office had one fear: that the plan to rescue Jews might be too successful. In an internal memo the Foreign Office pointed out there were some “complicating factors”: “There is a possibility that the Germans or their satellites may change over from the policy of extermination to one of extrusion, and aim as they did before the war at embarrassing other countries by flooding them with alien immigrants.” Thus the Bermuda Conference was organized in a way that prevented it from producing results. Both the British and the US governments carefully restricted what their delegates could promise before the meeting even opened. The US instructed its representatives not to make commitments on shipping, funds or new relief agencies. Additionally, the Roosevelt administration warned that it had “no power to relax or rescind [US immigration] laws”, despite all its sweeping war-time powers. US immigration laws at the time were openly racist. The British government imposed the additional restriction that its policy on admitting refugees to Palestine could not be discussed, out of concern for British geo-political interests in the Middle East.
When the Bermuda Conference finally wrapped up its 12 days of secret deliberations very little had been achieved. Jews in the US met the disappointing news from Bermuda with outrage. One Jewish organization took out a three-quarter page advertisement in The New York Times with the headline: “To 5,000,000 Jews in the Nazi Death-Trap, Bermuda Was a Cruel Mockery.” There is no way of measuring how many Jews died as a result of the procrastination at Bermuda. However, two days after the conference opened, the Allies received news that yet another savage calamity was unfolding in Europe. The Jews of the Warsaw ghetto, who had begun their heroic uprising the day the conferees first met in Bermuda, flashed a four-sentence radio message to the West. It ended with the words: “Save us.” The war between the Axis and the “Democracies” was not a war between good and evil; it was a war between raw evil and sanitized evil. Despite popular belief, World War II was far from being the “good war”, if any war could ever be.
The Atlantic Charter a fraud
The Atlantic Charter contained eight points of “common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world”, the third of which stated: “They [US and Britain] respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.” The eighth point stated: “They believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.”
The Atlantic Charter was a fraud because one of the two original parties never had any intention of observing the principles it proclaimed. Churchill’s foreign policy consisted of three essential goals: 1) preserving the British Empire, 2) smashing the Axis (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan) in order to eliminate threats to the British Empire, and 3) preventing the spread of communism and Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. The preservation of the British Empire was carried out under the guise of defending democracy and a desperate strategy of turning the crumbling empire over to an expansionist US with Britain hanging on as a submissive junior partner. The defeated Axis powers were molded into post-war neo-fascist regimes as bulwarks against communism. Self government was permitted on condition of suppressing socialism and implementing subservient foreign policy. Full sovereign rights have yet to be granted to Germany and Japan after six decades of occupation. Disarmament has been all but forgotten.
Churchill’s absolute silence policy
Throughout 1938-39, London refused to pledge that it would cease hostilities in the event of a coup in Germany to topple the Third Reich. When Roosevelt and Churchill met at Casablanca in January 1943, the president emerged from the meeting to tell the world that the US and Britain would accept nothing short of unconditional surrender. Churchill was surprised and later claimed that he had not been consulted but had to go along for the sake of the Atlantic Alliance. Churchill had in the back of his mind the use of Germans to resist post-war communist incursion into Europe, and was interested in preserving the Wehrmacht for that purpose. He knew that no Wehrmacht officer would support a coup against Hitler only to be invaded, occupied, and humiliated by the enemy. Better to stand by Nazi Germany, even if it meant following Hitler’s madness toward total destruction, than to commit such dishonorable high treason. But Roosevelt left Churchill no room to maneuver.
Coming when it did in January 1943, the same month the German 6th Army surrendered at Stalingrad, the unconditional surrender proclamation prompted Ulrich von Hassel to conclude that the Allies had bailed out Hitler from his disaster at Stalingrad. Hassel was a conservative lawyer and career diplomat who served in Spain, Denmark, Yugoslavia, and finally as German ambassador to Italy from 1932 to 1938 when he was dismissed for opposing Germany’s military alliance with fascist Italy. He opposed Hitler’s foreign policy from the outset, predicting that it would lead Germany to war. During World War II, Hassel used his international contacts to arrange secret meetings with British and American officials, and hoped that a successful coup would translate into an honorable peace treaty with Britain and the US. He also worked closely with co-conspirators Dr Carl Goerdeler, who in 1937 resigned his post as mayor of Leipzig in protest over the removal of the statue of Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn, finance minister Johannes Popitz who submitted his resignation over Hitler’s persecution of Jews, and army chief-of-staff general Ludwig Beck who was the leader of the planned coup, to lay the foundations of the new Germany they hoped to build after a successful coup. Like Goerdeler, Hassel dreamed of uniting Europe into a family of nations under the principle of mutual respect and adherence to international law. He joined the inner circle of the conspiracy and became intimately involved in the political planning of the coup.
Operation Valkyrie was the official code name for an emergency contingency plan designed to protect the Nazi regime against the potential threat of serious internal disturbances or uprisings during World War II. The presence of millions of foreign workers, compelled to work as forced laborers, was the most likely reason for such concern. Valkyrie was the brainchild of General Friedrich Olbricht who served under Home Army Commander General Friedrich Fromm. What Hitler did not know was that Olbricht and later home army chief of staff Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg were secretly transforming Valkyrie into an elaborate coup d’etat plan to overthrow the Nazi regime.
A number of British and US government officials, diplomats, intelligence officers, and even generals, opposed the unconditional surrender demand, including General George C Marshal and secretary of state Cordell Hull. But Roosevelt was adamant because he understood that the US public, with its long isolationist tradition, only went to war to fight evil, which required unconditional surrender. There was a divergence between Roosevelt and Churchill in their separate world views. Roosevelt envisioned a post-war cooperative alliance with the Soviet Union to prevent the emergence of neo-fascism while Churchill saw the need to use a conservative if not neo-fascist Germany as a post-war bulwark against communism. In deference to the more powerful partner, Churchill throughout his tenure as prime minister during World War II never dared deviate from his policy of absolute silence toward the German resistance from both the left and the right and the conservative conspirators who sought to overthrow Hitler. Despite repeated appeals from such conservative figures as Dr Carl Goerdeler, Churchill’s government gave no quarter to any peace overtures from the German conspirators for fear that Stalin could offer a better deal to the German left.
The fact that the Soviet Union was bearing the brunt of the war against Nazi Germany was undoubtedly the overriding factor in Churchill’s policy of absolute silence and Roosevelt’s unconditional surrender demand. For Roosevelt, it was vital not to give Stalin any incentive that would tempt him to strike a separate deal with Nazi Germany that would lead to a separate peace. Generals Paul Von Hindenberg and Erich Ludendorff had pulled off such an affair with new Soviet Russia in early 1918, but too late to allow them to move their forces westward to smash the Anglo-French lines before US forces arrived. It was very likely that the Allies might never have won if Stalin, having regained the 1939 Soviet border, suddenly backed out of the war.
The fact that the Western powers had not yet opened a second front (and would not do so until June 1944) was tempting enough for Stalin to seek a separate peace. Churchill and Roosevelt were fully aware of this. Moreover, the United States was eager to get the Soviet Union to declare war on Japan since the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb was still years away from completion in 1942 and success was not totally guaranteed.
Throughout 1942-43, Hitler irately refused to negotiate a ceasefire with the Soviet Union. But the staunchly anti-communist German conspirators were far more intent on securing peace first with the West. Stalin made no effort to conceal his peace feelers to Germany, most likely to frighten his Western allies into speeding up their opening of a second front. Thus an obstacle to a negotiated peace with Germany was locked in place by a balance of calculations from both the left and the right among the Allies.
In Japan, the unconditional surrender requirement that included the prospect of eliminating the emperor led to the need to use nuclear weapons to end the war. In the end, the US kept the emperor despite his less-than-titular role in the planning and prosecution of the war, which had been the key condition in Japanese overtures to surrender before Hiroshima. There was no regime change in Japan after the war as in President George W Bush’s aim for the “axis of evil” – Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
German sovereignty delayed
World War I ended ended without a decisive battle and the Imperial Government of Germany accepted an armistice while its troops were still occupying enemy territories from France to the Crimea. With the US landing 250,000 troops every month in France, the German High Command notified the Imperial government that the war could not be won and the German Foreign Office made peace overtures to US president Woodrow Wilson. An armistice was arranged and on November 11, 1918, the guns went silent on the Western Front. The German military caste, at the moment of national crisis, decided to save its honor rather than the nation. Under pressure from the German High Command, Kaiser William II abdicated on November 9 and slipped across the frontier to Holland where, despite demands to put him on trial as a war criminal, he lived quietly until his death in 1941.
No fighting ever took place on German soil in World War I. This paradox led German nationalists and militarists to blame the defeat in World War I on traitors in the home government. The German Imperial Government fell not from popular discontent or social revolution, not even from demand for regime change from the foreign victors. It fell from pressure on the Kaiser from General Erich Ludendorff of the German High Command to appease president Wilson’s fixation on democracy by casting the Kaiser as an obstacle to peace.
The Weimar Republic came into existence to ward off radical revolution at home, not from defeat in war, or from foreign-imposed regime change, but from misplaced German hope that a democratic government would stand a better chance for more liberal peace terms from the Allies. But it was not to be, as the Peace of Versailles was exceedingly harsh on the German nation and blamed it unfairly for the sole responsibility for the war. In fact, the victors, including many in the United States who did not support Wilson’s utopian ideology, were generally unhappy about the success of undesirable revolutions in both Russia and Germany. The German military leaders shied away from the dishonor of surrender, and the armistice signing was left to two little known civilians.
World War I was decidedly not a class war, but a war of intra-imperialist rivalry. But Wilson had obtained a rousing declaration of war from Congress on April 2, 1917, with his speech: “We shall fight for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.” Democracy then became a factor in the terms of the Armistice while the war to make “the world at last free” was not at all interested in eliminating Western imperialism and colonialism around the world. Wilson’s Fourteen Points-proposal was not supported by the Allies or by Congress at home.
The Nazis, after staging a regime change in defeated Germany, rejected all the surrender terms agreed to in the armistice by the German Imperial Government and honored by the Weimar Republic, with considerable sympathetic support from the West where opinion had shifted from fear of German militarism to fear of Bolshevism. The idea of using Germany as a bulwark against communism in Europe was gaining currency and kept alive by Churchill throughout World War II. The US reaped enormous geopolitical and economic benefits from entering the war at its late stage, as it did once more in World War II. US troops faced combat for only four months while the other nations fought for four years. In the last year of the war in 1918, for every 100 artillery shells fired, the French fired 51, the British 43 and the US only 6.
Germany’s rapid economic recovery during the decades after World War II masked its failure to retain full sovereignty as a state or to regain it quickly, as defeated France had done at the Congress of Vienna in 1814, or even defeated Imperial Germany had done at the Versailles Conference in 1919. In 1945, the German economy had been shattered by war, and its cities, housing stock and industrial plants destroyed by carpet bombings from Allies air raids. A good part of what survived was later dismantled and carried off by the victorious Allies. The Nazi party, which had dominated German politics and government, was outlawed and a new political regime had to be constructed from its ashes. The war that had begun as a contest over territories had ended up as a contest over ideology mainly because the US needed a moral purpose to overcome popular resistance to involvement in a foreign war. The German nation was required by the victors to go through total de-Nazification to cleanse itself of a genetic immorality, not just to atone for a virus of fanatic aberrations. A contest over ideology leads to a religious war with a demand for unconditional surrender and subsequent regime change in the conquered nation.
The Allies, not unlike victorious Napoleon in Moscow on September 14, 1812, could not find a legitimate government from which to accept an unconditional surrender in 1945. The Third Reich had ceased to exist with the suicide of Hitler and the unconditional surrender was signed by Admiral Karl Doenitz, a non-entity in German politics and history, except among U-boat enthusiasts. Doenitz’s fame came from his secret build-up of the German submarine fleet in the years following the Treaty of Versailles. He was given command of submarine operations by Hitler in 1935, and made chief naval commander in 1943, by which time the German navy was only a club of sailors without surface ships. Having sunk more civilian vessels than enemy warships, Doenitz’s stature among the German military establishment was not much higher than that of Hitler, the World War I corporal.
In his last will and testimony signed at 4am, April 29, 1945, a day before his suicide, Hitler wrote: “Before my death I expel the former Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering and deprive him of all the rights he may enjoy by virtue of the decree of June 29, 1941, and also by virtue of my statement in the Reichstag on September 1, 1939. I appoint in his place Grossadmiral Doenitz as president of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
“Before my death I expel the former Reichsfuehrer-SS and minister of the interior Heinrich Himmler from the party and all offices of state. In his place I appoint Gauleiter Karl Hanke as Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German Police and Gauleiter Paul Giesler as Reich minister of the interior.
“Goering and Himmler, by their secret negotiations with the enemy, without my knowledge or approval, and by their illegal attempts to seize power in the state, quite apart from their treachery to my person, have brought irreparable shame to the country and the whole people.”
The Third Reich essentially died with Hitler on April 29, 1945.
On the announcement on May 1, 1945, that Hitler was dead and had designated Doenitz as his successor devoid of a functioning government, the U-boat admiral formed a new cabinet and ordered the unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies effective May 7, not withstanding the fact that Goering and Himmler had both been sacked by Hitler for secretly negotiating with the enemy and that Hitler’s last will and testament clearly expected Doenitz to carry on with resistance. Doenitz’ new government, at Kiel, was summarily dissolved by the Allies before the ink on the surrender documents was dry. The Third Reich did not fall from German internal politics. Like Hitler, the successor government committed suicide by signing its own death warrant in the form of unconditional surrender and was immediately dissolved afterwards by the victorious foreign powers. Doenitz was imprisoned for 10 years (1946-56) for war crimes. Legally, the surrender became void with the dissolution of the signing government.
On May 8, 1945, a military surrender of the German armed forces (Wehrmacht) was signed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in Berlin, ending all formal resistance. Keitel was a loyal supporter of Hitler’s policies and after the invasion of Poland he issued orders to the Schutz Statteinel (SS) and the Gestapo to exterminate the country’s Jews. In May 1941, Keitel signed the commissar order that instructed German field commanders to execute Communist Party officials immediately after they were captured on the Eastern Front. In July 1941 he signed another order giving Himmler the power to implement his racial program in the Soviet Union. After the surrender, Keitel was immediately arrested and later tried at Nuremburg as a major war criminal. In court, his main defense was that he was merely obeying orders. Found guilty, he was executed by hanging on October 16, 1946. His request to be shot by firing squad as befitting his rank was denied.
On V-E Day, Allied supreme commander General Dwight D Eisenhower had 61 US divisions, 1,622,000 men, in Germany, and a total Allied force in Europe numbering 3,077,000. When the shooting ended, the divisions in the field became occupation troops, charged with maintaining law and order and establishing the Allied military presence in the Western occupied part of the defeated nation. This was a military occupation, the object of which was to control the population and stifle insurgent resistance by putting troops into every part of the occupied nation. Divisions were spread out across the countryside, sometimes over great stretches of territory. The 78th Infantry Division, for instance, for a time after V-E day, was responsible for an area of 3,600 square miles, almost twice the size of the state of Delaware, and the 70th Infantry Division for 2,500 square miles. Battalions were deployed separately, and the company was widely viewed as the ideal unit for independent deployment because billets were easy to find and the hauls from the billets to guard posts and checkpoints would not be excessively long. Frequently single platoons and squads were deployed at substantial distances from their company headquarters.
There is no indication that the US Defense Department has any such plans or intentions for the occupation of rogue states facing regime change from pending US invasion. Iraq with an area of 437,072 square kilometers (168,800 square miles) will take more than 100 divisions to carry out the type of occupation the US devised for post-war Germany. Currently, some 70,000 US troops are assigned to Germany, although the army’s First Infantry Division and First Armored Division are now in Iraq, leaving about 40,000 US Army troops, the equivalent of two divisions, in Germany.
The Allied occupation of Germany is approaching its sixth decade, and in the eyes of many Germans it has not yet ended. Foreign armies are still based on German soil and Europe’s largest and most prosperous “democracy” still does not have a constitution and a peace treaty putting a formal end to World War II. Its temporary constitutional instrument is the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) adopted on May 23, 1949, last amended August 31, 1990, by the Unification Treaty of August 13, 1990, and Federal Statute of September 23, 1990.
If the German model is applied to Iraq, there may never be a formal end to the war in Iraq. Because there is no formal peace treaty between Germany and the Allies headed by the US, German sovereignty is compromised. On October 20, 1985, John Kornblum of the US State Department told Germany’s provisional Reichskanzler Wolfgang Gerhard Geunter Ebel: “Until we have a peace treaty, Germany is a colony of the United States.” Ebel headed the provisional government that claims to be the legal successor to the Second German Reich, which was replaced by Hitler’s illegal Third Reich (1933-45). The Second German Reich was never restored by the Allies after World War II. The legitimacy of the current German government is an open question and can be exploited in a future national crisis.
In 1945, the German people were suddenly confronted by a situation never before experienced in their history. The entire German territory was occupied by foreign armies, cities and infrastructure were largely reduced to rubble, the country was flooded with millions of refugees from the east, and large portions of the population were suffering from hunger and the loss of their homes. The proud and prosperous nation-state unified by Otto von Bismarck in 1871 lay in ruins and deprived of self government. Germany did not just lose the war, its people lost their state and have yet to regain full sovereignty as a fully independent state after more than half a century.
Within Germany, there was much discussion about what kind of government should emerge out of the political vacuum and chaos and how to rebuild the collapsed economy. But the principle of the Atlantic Charter notwithstanding, it was soon clear that the decision was not for the German people to make, but for the victors to impose. De-Nazification came to a screeching halt and a neo-fascist regime was put in place under four years of US occupation that eventually transformed itself into the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in 1949. West Germans could have any type of government they wanted as long as it was not communist. Democracy in Germany was to serve the Cold War purposes of the victorious United States. Germany was positioned in 1949 as the focus of geopolitics in a global ideological conflict that resulted in the emergence of two separate German states, each being forced by its contesting superpower sponsor to play new roles in a geographically and ideologically divided Europe.
In the post-war debate on the proper path for West German political and socio-economic reconstruction, German socialists argued for a democratic government with a central distribution system, extensive state controls, and the nationalization of banks and industry. The opposition came from Ludwig Erhard, a liberal economist appointed by the Allies to head the Office of Economic Affairs in the US-British Bizone; he later became minister for economics and ultimately chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) (1963-66), succeeding Konrad Adenauer, co-founder of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who had been elected chancellor of the FRG in 1949 with US backing. Kurt Schumacher, leader of the Social Democratic Party (Sozialisttischer Parti Demokratic or SPD), ran against Adenauer, the former mayor of Cologne, whom the US, not wanting to see socialism of any kind in Germany, was grooming for leadership. Adenauer united most of the prewar German conservatives into the CDU. Schumacher campaigned for a united socialist Germany, and particularly for nationalization of heavy industry, whose owners he blamed for having funded the Nazi rise to power. When the occupying powers opposed his ideas, he denounced them with Marxist rhetoric. Adenauer opposed socialism on principle, and also argued that the quickest way to get the Allies to restore self-government to a sovereign Germany was to co-operate with them. The quick way turned out to be half a century.
Schumacher also wanted a new constitution with a strong national presidency, confident that he would soon occupy that post. But the first draft of the 1949 Basic Law provided for a federal system with a weak national government, as favored both by the Allies and the CDU. Schumacher absolutely refused to give way on this, and eventually the Allies, keen to get the new German state functioning in the face of the Soviet challenge, conceded some of what Schumacher wanted. The new federal government would be dominant over the states, although there would be no strong presidency.
The Federal Republic of Germany’s (West Germany’s) first national elections were held in October 1949. Schumacher was convinced he would win, and most observers agreed with him. But Adenauder’s new CDU had several advantages over the SPD. Some of the SPD’s strongest areas in pre-war Germany were now in the Soviet Zone, while the most conservative parts of the country – Bavaria and the Rhineland – were in West Germany. In addition both the American and French occupying powers favored Adenauer and did all they could to assist his campaign; the British under a Labor government remained neutral.
Further, the onset of the Cold War produced an anti-socialist reaction in all US-controlled territories, including West Germany. The SPD would probably have won an election in 1945, but by 1949 the tide had turned. The result was that the SPD won 30% of the vote with the CDU winning 25%. But the CDU formed a coalition with the conservative Christian Social Union and two other minor parties to win a plurality of seats in the legislature, and was able to form a majority government. The German politicians, both Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, by their coerced opposition to communism and thus refusal to accept neutrality in the Cold War, allowed the US to institutionalize the division of Germany for half a century.
The basic tenets of Erhard’s economic policy were what he called social market economy principles. Social market economy as established by Erhard in 1948, one year before the creation of FRG, or West Germany, has been credited by US historians as having fundamentally changed the West German economy, and with it the whole of post-war German society, presumably for the better, at least in terms of US geopolitical interests. It unleashed enormous mercantilist and competitive energies that brought West Germany the economic miracle of the 1950s, which was welcomed by the US as long as West Germany stayed firmly in the US camp in the Cold War. Economic success from competition with foreign economies in turn generated dynamic nationalistic social developments at home – a fact acknowledged by Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the CDU party convention in Hanover in 1996, where he also declared that the task for the future was to reform European security systems to safeguard their efficiency and funding, in other words, a revival of militarism.
When Kohl was elected West German chancellor in 1982, he inherited a difficult political situation. The country was suffering from mass unemployment inherent in market capitalism, and was deeply split over US deployment of nuclear weapons on German territory without German control, which Germany had been forced to accept since the end of the war. He presided over the unification of Germany during his 16 years in office. Kohl saw German unity and European unity as two sides of the same coin. In a bid to allay fears about the emergence of a united Germany as the new power in Central Europe, he pushed for closer European integration. He camouflaged German rearmament through its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Adenauer had been forced to accept integration with the West as the only option for a defeated Germany in the context of an East-West conflict. Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik consolidated the FRG with normalizing relations with the communist world. Yet Brandt had to repeatedly emphasize that conciliation with the East was only possible, or tolerated by the US, for a German Republic securely integrated with the West and firmly under US leadership. The election of 1969 that put Brandt in power marked a new chapter in German politics. Through it the Federal Republic finally had a president and a chancellor who had been actively associated with the resistance to Nazism. Brandt said as the results came in that “tonight, finally and for ever, Hitler lost the war”. Brandt was not overly melodramatic. Post-war Germany had been visibly neo-fascist. In view of recent developments in the Vatican, Brandt’s proclamation might have been premature. Both Adenauer and Erhard had been more willing to be reconciled with ex-Nazis than with the full consequences of defeat.
Helmut Schmidt’s leadership earned West Germany international respect. Yet, the West Germans had to accept two constraints: First, they had to restrain themselves from projecting power outside the Alliance; and second, they had to defer not only to US leadership but also to US dominance. In the decade of the 1980s Schmidt set the stage for increased West German self-confidence. Although Germany and the US could never totally agree on all issues, friction had risen to new highs under Schmidt. In fact, Jimmy Carter, in his memoirs, described one of his encounters with Schmidt as “the most unpleasant personal exchange I ever had with a foreign leader”. By the end of Schmidt’s tenure as chancellor, the West German public was strongly questioning the underlying motives of US foreign policy. In a 1981 public opinion poll, only 38% of the German population felt the Federal Republic should adopt US president Ronald Reagan’s hard-line course toward the Soviet Union, while 60% spoke in favor of distancing itself from Reagan’s foreign policy. Yet the German government was not yet free to follow the popular will of the German nation.
The West German media described Reagan as a neo-conservative, an extremely pejorative term in German, implying propensities for war-mongering. Reagan’s “messianic promise” to redesign US military power to support a moralistic and belligerent US foreign policy was viewed by a large majority of Germans as threatening to world peace. It simply reminded many of the last world wars, the destructive impact of which was still felt by Germany as a nation, and especially the city of Berlin. Reagan’s embrace of neo-conservative values was thus interpreted as reactionary and as a move backward. A nation once victimized by Nazism was aghast by the embrace of neo-fascist values by the former slayer of the Nazi dragon.
The counterculture that developed in West Germany spread fears of the future and of progress in the context of the Pax Americana. There was also a lot of pessimism, which has a long tradition in German culture. The consequences of the failure of the 1848 movements to solve the problem of unification in a liberal and constitutional way left Germany with a less benign form of nationalism and contributed to a fateful estrangement between Germany and the liberal West. Massive migration of liberal Germans to the US, known as the “forty-eighters” brought the new nation a refreshing ripple of revolutionary agitation as well as a rich wave of talents in politics, science, medicine and the arts. The resultant depletion of liberal minds in German culture contributed to the rise of fascism decades later in Germany.
German materialism holds that all mental, spiritual and ideological concepts grow out of physical or physiological forces. German positivism holds that reliable knowledge is based on concrete facts, not abstract ideas. In 1818, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) published his profound work: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (translated in 1958 as The World as Will and Representation), which was ignored during the first three decades of its appearance. Schopenhauer holds that the underlying reality of the universe is Will, a blind, instinctual dynamic driving force to live, which needs to be restrained for the sake of civilization. Ideas are shadowy representations projected by Will for its own purposes. Out of this emerged German Realpolitik, rejecting the notion of government action guided by ideology or any desire to promote a particular world view, in favor of a foreign policy of practical purpose, an approach practiced to great effect by Otto von Bismarck.
Neo-fascism and German terrorism
The 1968 radical student protests around the world affected Germany deeply. During the years of 1968-1977 Germany lived in fear of extremist terrorism. Three terrorist groups were dominant – the Red Army Faction (RAF) or the Baader-Meinhof gang; Movement 2 June (an anarchist group that named itself after the date on which a young pacifist named Benno Ohnesorg had been killed by police during a 1967 protest in Berlin), and the Revolutionary Cells, formed in Frankfurt am Main around 1972-1973 and organized into semi-autonomous cells, each aware of the group’s overall mission yet mostly unaware of the identities of other group members. In 1968, the prominent German journalist Ulrike Meinhof joined Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin to launch the most terrifying era in German postwar history.
As in the United States, the student anti-war protests of 1968 at times turned into full-scale riots, with some elements evolving into various extreme groups that attempted naively to start a world revolution by taking to terrorism, starting with bank robberies and turning to kidnappings and killings. Most of the leaders of the most famous West German terrorist group, Baader, Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, were captured by mid-1972. Their followers continued kidnappings and killings over the next five years in repeated unsuccessful efforts to secure the release of their leaders from prison. The German government used the terrorist crisis to push through new laws that granted it broad powers in fighting terrorism. Radical leftists protested the loss of civil liberty, but the majority of the German people were firmly on the side of the government.
The context of the formation and activities of the Red Army Faction in Germany evolved from three events: the bombing of South Vietnam by the US Air Force in 1963 and North Vietnam in 1965; the visit of the Shah of Iran to Berlin in the summer of 1967; and the April 11, 1968, assassination attempt on Rudi Dutschke, the leader of the student movements of the 1960s. The would-be assassin was Joseph Bachmann, a young neo-Nazi who along with his pistol was carrying a copy of Bild-Zeitung, an extreme right-wing newspaper with the headline: “Stop Dutschke now!” During the court trial, it became evident that Bachmann, an unskilled worker, was influenced by the intense propaganda campaign of the mass media owned by Alex Springer, especially the Bild-Zeitung newspaper.
Dutschke recovered sufficiently to play an important role in the formation of the Green Party in 1980, by inspiring many student protesters, including Joschka Fischer who later became foreign minister in Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government, to join the Green movement. Dutschke died in 1979 from complications of the assassination wounds.
All violence is despicable. Yet violence is never an isolated act, neither are its political manifestations: war and terrorism. All acts of terrorism are points in a cycle of terrorism that escalate and beget more acts of terrorism. Many of the leaders in the Red Army Faction were not involved in violence at the beginning of their activism, but were gradually radicalized into full-fledged terrorists. Baader’s trouble with the law began over motor vehicle offences. Meinhof was a journalist/editor for Konkret, a leftwing student newspaper. Ensslin started out as a student pacifist. During the demonstration against the Shah of Iran on June 2, 1967, a fellow student pacifist, Benno Ohnesborg, was shot dead by the police. That incident of state terrorism precipitated the June 2 Movement. After the protest, Ensslin went to the local office of the Students for Democratic Society (SDS) and screamed hysterically: “This fascist state means to kill us all! Violence is the only way to answer violence!”
Though unconnected to its US counterpart that shared its acronym, the German SDS occupied a parallel place in German society. It was the leading left-wing student organization throughout the 1960s. Originally, the SDS was the student wing of the Social Democratic Party, but the SPD disassociated itself from the SDS in 1960 when the SDS began advocating an anti-nuclear weapon stance.
Baader and Ensslin met, became lovers and began to plant bombs in department stores in response. At her trial for arson on October 4,1968, Ensslin explained: “We have found that words are useless without action!” On July 8,1970, the “June 2 Movement” was organized. At the start of the 1970s, the RAF, the June 2 Movement and the German state were at war. On July 15, 1970, Petra Schelm was shot and killed in a shoot-out with the Hamburg police. Her death caused shock waves throughout Germany as many Germans found themselves horrified at the violent death of the young innocent hairdresser. A national poll taken shortly after the death of Schelm revealed that 20% of the German population felt some sympathy for her cause. On October 22, 1971, during another shoot-out in Hamburg, Norbert Schmid, a policeman, was shot dead. The chronology of events becomes ever bloodier. Baader explains his viewpoint in 1973: “The gun livens things up. The colonized European comes alive, not to the subject and problem of the violence of our circumstances, but because all armed actions subjects the force of circumstances to the force of events. I say our book should be entitled ‘The Gun Speaks!'”
Gerhard Richter’s 15-painting cycle, “October 18, 1977”, now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, is a collection of black and white oil paintings drawn from ubiquitous photographs of the Baader-Meinhof era. Robert Storr, the curator of the MOMA collection who recommended the purchase of the “October 18, 1977” cycle, as well as organized the Richter retrospective, considered Richter to be among the most important contemporary artists. Storr’s 152-page book about the “October 18, 1977” cycle provides an explanation on the importance of the artist and this work.
The student protests of 1968 that promised positive hope for a new society quickly degenerated into violent street riots and misguided terrorism. Many leftist students would be inspired by Dutschke to begin their “long march through the institutions”. A decade later, many of these former radical students were the main force behind the Greens party. But a handful of the more radical wanted “revolution now”, and resorted to revolutionary terrorism in response to state terrorism.
Post-war West Germany had been created as a loose confederation of states, with no federal police force on the order of the FBI, only the disconnected Lander police forces. In the early 1970s, terrorists were able to take advantage of this decentralization by constantly traversing different states, whose police forces seldom coordinated their work or shared information.
On January 10, 1972, Der Spiegel published a letter by 1972 Nobel laureate for literature Heinrich Boll, in which he decried Baader-Meinhof coverage in the the Springer Press’ Bild as not “cryptofascist anymore, not fascistoid, but naked fascism, agitation, lies, dirt”. Boll, a devout Catholic, attacked the materialistic values of the post-war German society. Boll was born in Cologne where his father was a cabinetmaker and sculptor, whose ancestors had fled from England to escape the persecution of Roman Catholics. Boll started to write poetry and short stories in his youth. He was one of the few boys in his school who did not join the Hitler Youth movement, unlike the new German Pope. Boll himself had experienced harassment by the media and his house was searched by police when he proclaimed that Meinhof deserved a fair trial.
Film directors Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta adapted Boll’s book, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, (1974) which attacked yellow journalism, onto the screen the following year. In 1985, von Trotta made a film about Rosa Luxemburg with Barbara Sukowa in the title role. Boll’s The Safety Net (1979), translated from German by Leila Vennewit in 1982, was inspired by the sensational press coverage of the Baader-Meinhof gang. Right-wing critics, particularly in the popular press, accused Boll of sympathizing with social dissidents and even condoning the aims of terrorists. Boll actually was of the view that bungling terrorists inadvertently and ironically helped big business. By 1973, the German state imprisoned gang members under conditions so horrid that Amnesty International lodged a complaint. After 1973, radicals justifiably protested the inhumane prison conditions. In November 1974, Jean-Paul Sartre interviewed Baader in Stammheim Prison at Meinhof’s request which resulted in an article “The Slow Death of Andreas Baader”, published in Liberation, December 7, 1974. The first sentence Baader made to Sartre was: “I asked for a friend and they sent me a judge,” reflecting his disappointment with Sartre’s comments made on German television the night before Sartre had a chance to hear what Baader had to say.
The government adopted “Lex Baader-Meinhof” or the “Baader-Meinhof Laws” as amendments to the Basic Law, West Germany’s quasi-constitution, to allow the courts to exclude a lawyer from defending a client merely if there is suspicion of the lawyer “forming a criminal association with the defendant”, denying the basic concept of attorney-client confidentiality. The new laws also allow for trials to continue in the absence of a defendant if the reason for the defendant’s absence is of the defendant’s own doing, ie, they are ill from a hunger strike. As the Baader-Meinhof trial dragged on, Meinhof reportedly hanged herself in her cell on Mother’s Day 1975, according to official records, but many suspected she was killed by the state.
The Baader-Meinhof era ended with the “German Autumn”, a name given to the 44 days in the fall of 1977 when all Germany was gripped in a terrorist crisis. It began on September 5, when the industrialist Hanns-Marin Schleyer was kidnapped in Cologne by the RAF. For the next month and a half, his kidnappers attempted to secure the release of the imprisoned leaders of the RAF. On October 17, 1977, Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa plane, demanding, among other things, the release of Baader and his fellow prisoners. The Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG-9 or Border Guard Group Nine), the newly formed German anti-terrorist force, ended the hijacking by killing the Palestinian hijackers when the plane landed in Modagshu, Somalia. Upon hearing the news, the gang leaders Baader, his girl friend Ensslin, who was a descendant of Hegel, and Raspe reportedly all committed suicide in prison, bringing the German Autumn to an end. Many suspected that the gang leaders were killed by the authorities to prevent future attempts to free them. Schleyer’s body was found in an abandoned car.
The name “German Autumn” evoked the notion that German society was at an end of an era; that the progressive optimism of the late 1960s had degenerated into a ruthless situation. “It wasn’t just about killing Americans, and killing pigs, at least not at first. It was about attacking the illegitimate state that these pawns served. It was about scraping the bucolic soil and exposing the fascist, Nazi-tainted bedrock that propped up the modern West German state. It was about war on the forces of reaction. It was about Revolution,” wrote Richard Huffman in The Gun Speaks: The Baader-Meinhof Gang at the Dawn of Terror.
The liquidation of the leaders of the Baader-Meinhoff gang by the German state did not end terrorism. A police shoot-out took place with suspected RAF terrorist Wolfgang Grams, and then there was the bomb killing of prominent banker Alfred Herrhausen (1989) and Treuhand head Detlev Rohwedder (1991). Treuhand is the government privatization agency. Herrhausen fell victim to a deadly terrorist bomb shortly after leaving his home in Bad Homberg on the November 30, 1989. He was being chauffeured to work in his armored Mercedes, with bodyguards in both a lead vehicle and another following behind. At the time of his death Herrhausen was a key director (Vorstandssprecher, literally, “speaker of the board”) on the Deutsche Bank board. He had been with Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest, since 1969. From 1971 on he was a member of the bank’s board of directors. The laser-triggered bomb seemed too sophisticated for so-called fourth generation RAF terrorists to deploy. In a CNN Berlin bureau chief’s report on November 8, 1999, reference was made to the unsolved murder of a prominent West German businessman who headed the Treuhand, without mentioning any suspected RAF involvement. Detlev Rohwedder was fatally shot on April 21, 1991, days after he announced a plan that placed social restrictions on privatization.
An article by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, wife of Lyndon LaRouche (perennial US candidate for president), in the December 10, 2004, issue of Executive Intelligence Review, “Unmasking the Secret War by the ‘Economic Hit Men'” (by John Perkins), dealt with the murder[s] of Alfred Herrhausen … and Detlev Rohwedder:
The two political economy-motivated murders which, more than all others, set the stage for this catastrophe, in which the German economy for 15 years has been destroyed in both East and West, were the killings of Alfred Herrhausen on November 30, 1989, and Detlev Rohwedder on April 21, 991. In a manner similar to John Perkins today, during the 1990s the former high-ranking Pentagon official Fletcher Prouty, in an interview with the Italian publication Unita, said that the murders of Herrhausen, John F Kennedy, Aldo Moro, Enrico Mattei, and Olof Palme were all the consequences of the fact that they did not want to subjugate themselves, one by one, to be minor consuls of the ruling pax universalis … Real terrorists do not kill the president of a bank without a special reason. Most terrorists are paid agents and instruments of larger power centers. A certain such power center wanted, for a certain reason, the leading spokesman of the Deutschebank, on this day and in this manner, eliminated, in order to teach a lesson to others. Thus, there was a message in the way and manner in which he was brought down. Prouty said that the key to the explanation lay in 11 pages of a speech, which Herrhausen was to have given one week later in New York, on December 4, 1989, before the American Council on Germany, and which would now go undelivered. In this speech, Herrhausen was to have laid out his vision of the new organization of East-West relations, which would have steered history after 1989 into a dramatically different course. Herrhausen, at that time, was the only banker whose proposals for the development of Poland as a model for the other Comecon nations, according to the model of the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau, went in the same direction as the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche. Let us recall the dramatic events of Autumn 1989: On November 9, the Berlin Wall came down; in documentation later made public, the Federal government admitted that it had not had the slightest plans for the unforeseen eventuality of German reunification. On November 28, Helmut Kohl took the only sovereign step of his entire time in office. He proposed the 10-point program for the formation of a confederation of both German states, and indeed, without consultation with the Allied Powers or his coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP). Two days later, on November 30, Herrhausen was assassinated by the so-called Third Generation of the RAF, whose existence was described in an ARD TV broadcast as “Phantom”. This “Phantom” then appeared once more in the assassination of Rohwedder, and has since then vanished into thin air … There was yet another leading industry representative, who had far-reaching visions for the development of Germany: Detlev Rohwedder. As head of the Treuhand, he was in charge of the transformation of publicly owned businesses in eastern Germany. In 1990-91, he came to the conclusion, that a reckless privatization of the real – economic – and still completely useful – industrial firms would have unacceptable social consequences. Therefore, he resolved, in the first months of 1991, to change the concept of the Treuhand into “first restoration, then privatization” – always with a view to the social effects. This was the moment, when the Phantom-RAF struck again. His successor at the Treuhand, Birgit Breuel, the daughter of a banker from Hamburg, did not have the same scruples as he did: Under her leadership severe privatization took its free course.
Why did both of these men have to die? Were they the symbolic figures of the “fascist capital structure,” of which the RAF speaks in its statement taking credit for the Herrhausen assassination? On the contrary: Both committed the mortal sin against the system of the financial oligarchy by expressing moral misgivings regarding the consequences of this policy. Thus, in his book, Alfred Herrhausen, Power, Politics and Morality, Dieter Balkhausen describes how Herrhausen, already in 1987 at the funeral of his fellow board member Werner Blessing, expressed the view that the debt crisis of the Third World could no longer be met with silence. A discussion with President Miguel de la Madrid in Mexico about the debt crisis of the developing nations had affected him deeply, and he began to think about partial debt relief. Balkhausen reports further that during the Evangelical Church-Conference there had been a discussion about why the international banks, up until 1987, had made available to the semi- or under-developed states the gigantic sum of $1.2 billion, whereas they otherwise cut off credit lines with a “explosive harshness” and auctioned off the houses of the poorer classes. Perkins’ revelation, that the EHMs (economic hit men) had the task of luring the developing nations into the condition of indebtedness, in order then to be able to exploit them the more mercilessly, provides the answer to this apparent contradiction. In a television broadcast on “Arte” on November 18, 2002, a Catholic priest who was a friend of Herrhausen’s, reported that Herrhausen had come to the conclusion that a system, in which a few make a very high profit from the economy, while it crushes many others, cannot endure. Herrhausen struggled with the idea, that he perhaps had protected something that he should not have protected, did not want to protect and morally was not permitted to protect. With that, Herrhausen committed a mistake in the eyes of the financial oligarchy, which was to cost him his life: He came to the idea that the economy had something to do with morality and with the image of humanity.
Neo-fascism and militarism
Anti-war protest movements in post-war Germany evoked anti-Reagan demonstrations against the deployment of Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles. Under the umbrella of the peace movement, the ideologically divergent groupings, ranging from communists to concerned Christians, propagated neutralism and self determination. By the 1980s, the Federal Republic of Germany had become ambiguous as a dependable ally in the eyes of US neo-conservatives. In addition, the 1985 Bitburg affair, the 1986 Waldheim affair, as well as the renewed debate on Germany’s past and its significance for national identity, have stirred up deep-rooted emotions in the US and West Germany, as well as all of Europe.
The Waldheim Affair began with revelations about the Austrian presidential candidate’s “brown past” in the weekly Austrian magazine Profil that soon surfaced in the Western press. The allegations that Kurt Waldheim may have been a war criminal, that he had been involved in savage reprisals against Yugoslav partisans in the Balkans and in the deportation of Greek Jews from Salonika, were never actually proved. What was demonstrated beyond doubt was that Waldheim had systematically lied about his past in the Third Reich and that he knew far more than he had ever cared to reveal about atrocities against partisans and Jews. His supporters, however, chose to treat the evidence against Waldheim as a “Jewish inspired” campaign, and Michael Graff, the abrasive secretary-general of the Austrian People’s Party, accused the World Jewish Congress of indulging in hate-filled attacks and deliberate defamation. The campaign against Waldheim, he suggested, was provoking “feelings that we don’t want to have”.
Robert S Wistrich wrote in the American Jewish Committee: “The Waldheim Affair had repercussions far beyond the tensions and conflicts it created between Austrians and Jews. At stake as well was Austria’s image and standing in the international community. The Affair epitomized postwar Austrian unwillingness or inability to confront the implications of the Nazi Holocaust, bringing to the surface a stream of discourse about Jews that had been taboo in theory, if not in practice, since 1945. A new space was now opened for fantasies about an international Jewish conspiracy against Austria. Anti-Semitic attitudes dating back to pre-Nazi Austria and the Third Reich could now be expressed more openly, with the mass circulation press (most notably the Neue Kronen-Zeitung) reinforcing and also shaping popular prejudices. The notion that the Jew was at the root of any given problem (the Iudeus ex machina), well-rooted in Austrian history, could once more be utilized, this time for the political ends of the Waldheim campaign. This resurgence of anti-Semitism was undoubtedly linked to the justification of Austria’s past in the Nazi era and to fears of Jewish revenge. During the Waldheim Affair, stereotypes of world Jewish power, negative Christian images about the Jews, and the notion that Jews were themselves responsible for anti-Semitism became part of a “we-they” confrontation pitting little Austria against international Jewry. The effects could be seen in a survey of Austrian attitudes sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and conducted by the Gallup Institute in the summer of 1991. It showed that substantial portions of the Austrian population still had strong negative attitudes toward Jews and believed it was time to forget the Holocaust.” Waldheim won the 1986 election for president of Austria, despite the war crime scandal. His tenure as president was marked by international isolation, and he did not run again in 1992.
At Kohl’s request, made only weeks after Reagan’s landslide 1984 US presidential reelection victory, Reagan, whose approval rating at home had plummeted to 35% by January 1983, visited Bitburg Cemetery on May 5, 1985, less than four months into his second term, to honor the German victims of World War II and to celebrate the reconciliation between the US and West Germany. A great deal of controversy surrounded Reagan’s visit to the German military camp at Bitburg, which also contains graves of Nazi soldiers of the Waffen SS. Honoring war criminals by neo-conservative political leaders has since become respectable, as Japan has also recently followed suit. It was the beginning of a resurgence of militarism. For balance, Reagan also visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, as if the SS and murdered Jews were both equal victims of war. On the same day, the Reagan administration acknowledged the “Reagan Doctrine” of sponsoring armed insurgencies, or terrorists by another name, against leftist governments in the Third World. The Reagan Doctrine was essentially war by terrorism.
After Kohl was elected West German chancellor in October 1982, he tried to redefine the basics of US-German relations, claiming fundamental common values. In his farewell speech for a Reagan state visit on June 12, 1987, Kohl noted that US-German relations were based on “our commitment to freedom, the common heritage and civilization of our peoples, which rest upon the principles of democracy, individual freedom, and the rule of law”. Many cultural historians did not have the faintest idea what he was referring to. To many, the birth of both the Weimar Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany governments had been externally imposed to counter historical German militarism. Bilateral differences in opinions, Kohl stated, only follow naturally from major differences in size, geography, and global significance and could not shake the foundation of common values. However, for Kohl, the West Germans had to consciously realize that these values that they shared with the US were also their own values. It was the classic utterance of a house slave.
By focusing on the gap between political ideals and actual institutions, Kohl highlighted US-German conflict to be rooted in German national identity. While the Federal Republic’s Basic Law, its temporary constitution, mandated adherence to German national identity, decades of geopolitical reality and Germany’s recent past had stifled natural feelings of German history and culture. A gap existed between the constitutional ideal of one German national identity and the Cold War reality of two German states. In the post-World War II decades, West German national identity had only been defined in terms of economic growth and social security. Determined to close this identity gap, Kohl developed a new program called “national identity and moral re-orientation”, which included a different approach to reunification. It was both an internal and an external concept. West Germans must strive to identify with positive historical and cultural values, while assuaging the mutual suspicions of both West and the East and their fears of a revival of German nationalism and militarism.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 2
Chuck pointed to a sideboard with smashed drawers. On top of this was a tinted rogues gallery of mental defectives. It was an intermingling of the recessive gene pools of both Estelle and Art. Tinted and glazed icons of the unknown and unknowing awaited their desecration which was swift in coming.
He took a picture of a chinless women with blue hair and broke it out of its frame. The watchmaker reached for another one but Chuck stopped him.
“Look,” he said, slicing the face out of the picture, “do it this way and leave the picture behind. As it is, they barely remember Aunt Peabottom and now, they will remember her not at all. And don’t drop the heads on the floor, lad, put them in the fireplace and we can give them a decent cremation.”
The shelf was soon full of the desecrated lares and penares of the Winrod family and pyramids of blankness sprouted atop tinted shoulders.
Chuck added a final touch to the shambles in the living room by splashing more red dye on the truncated curtains and then joined Lars in a trip to the dining room.
The long hall that led to it was hung with the sort of paintings sold to the gullible by interior decorators.
Chuck, who fancied himself an art critic, looked at the monstrosities with his head over to one side.
“This one here is an excellent example, my Scandinavian friend, of how a color-blind artist makes a living.”
And he slashed it from top to bottom and moved on to the next. Lars was examining a daub that showed a naked young girl in a swimming pool. She was standing up to her knees in what must have been the shallow end of the pool. Of course, it might have been the deep end but she would have to have had legs like a giraffe.
“I like this picture, Chuck. Can I take it with me?”
“What did I say? Nothing leaves this house but us and cash.”
And one quick twist of his arm bisected the water sprite from crown to crotch. Bluebeard could not have done better.
For his next act of cultural barbarism, Chuck slashed a picture showing two wide-eyed children peering through a barbed wire fence. One eye remained hanging from the frame in mute reproach. When they left the hall, flaps of brightly colored canvas dangled behind them from the walls like a tropical jungle vista.
The dining room was long and narrow with a modern Chippendale table and chairs that were upholstered in a bluish-gray cloth that looked like the lips of a chronic asthma victim.
Lars was admiring two paintings of sailing ships while Chuck was trying to decide if the sideboard was solid cherry wood or a veneer. Ripping off one of the glass doors, the cheap white wood underneath the ruined hinges answered that question without a doubt and the other door joined a pile on the mauve carpet along with the Winrod best china and some silver-plate bowls. Flapping a damask tablecloth out in front of him, Chuck covered the windrows of family treasures and then proceeded to dance gracefully on top of the pile, rapidly reducing its height with a series of crunching noises.
He pointed to the chairs and said to Lars, who was slashing wide strips out of the very expensive scenic wall paper,
“Nice job on the scenic paper, lad. You just beheaded a whole family of rag heads, two camels and a pyramid. Break the arms off the chairs and slash all the upholstery while I tend to the table.”
A sharp chisel ripped gouges in the long, polished table and the textured surface was further enhanced by a liberal application of powerful paint remover. Lars had finished destroying the chairs and now, in a role-reversal, was ripping a very expensive grandfather’s clock into small fragments.
With discordant chimes still sounding, Chuck jumped up on the ruined table and grasped the crystal chandelier by the base. Winding it up as tightly as he could, he jumped back when the chain snapped and then he and Lars took turns kicking it around the room like a tinkling football. Its shattered and twisted remnants joined the shards of the china cabinet and Chuck threw more dye on the curtains and the remnants of the violated carpet. The bright red splatterings made the room look more like a slaughter house run by spastics than a refined place in which the products of such an establishment were eventually consumed.
The two sailing ships had sunk without a trace but a nineteenth century portrait of a prim woman with carefully coifed hair looked like the victim of a ghetto rat attack. Part of her hairdo and forehead remained but the rest of her face was thoroughly shredded.
The next stop was the Winrod kitchen, filled with all manner of destructibles.
Chuck’s first act was to put the contents of a bottle of Metamucil laxative he found under the sink, down the garbage disposal.
“This stuff,” he said as he let down a length of fishing line into the machinery, which was now laboring under a heavy load, “will plug up the pipes for thirty feet.”
There was a sudden burst of smoke as the jammed disposal self-destructed.
In the meantime, Lars was humming pleasantly to himself as he punched holes in the tops of all the canned goods with an icepick. This guaranteed the decomposition of the contents which promised to add to the stench caused by Chuck’s dumping of all the contents of the undersink area on the tile floor. After fracturing the stone with his hammer, he dumped soap, bleach, drain cleaner, shoe polish and floor wax in puddles on top of the everyday china and glassware which he then covered, discreetly, with another table cloth and poured out the contents of the food cabinets on top. Before this anointment, Chuck and Lars performed an old Norwegian dance on the pile, greatly reducing its altitude. The entire mound crushed flat was then covered with canned spinach, tomato puree, lemon extract, flour, pasta, canned beets, sour cream, hot sauce and a coil of false teeth paste.
A pile of electric appliances; waffle irons, toasters, knife sharpeners, can openers and portable food processors were heaped by the door for eventual deposit in the swimming pool. A number of knives in an attractive oaken holder were jammed into the doorframe and twisted into interesting abstract shapes. A few moments after these were added to the Everest of food on the broken floor, the door had blown off the microwave as eight potatoes exploded simultaneously, splattering one end of the room with remnants of steaming tuber.
Picking a piece of potato from his sleeve, Chuck chuckled.
“Too bad they didn’t have a cat. They make such a mess in a microwave.”
The refrigerator was missing its door and its contents were dumped into the sink and covered with a can of blue paint Lars had found in a cupboard. From the exposed freezer compartment, Chuck removed three very large frozen crabs in anticipation of further amusement.
“Look at this,” he said as he dumped a newly discovered cache of gourmet dog food onto a pile of Estelle’s late mother’s treasured cookbooks, “look at the stuff their mangy dog eats. Mama’s Little Precious Beef Wellington, Lobster Newburg and here we have Chicken Kiev. The damned flea farm eats better than we do.”
And the final act occurred when Lars and his friend smashed their hammers down on the placemat-protected granite slabs of the counter tops. Singing as they swung, it was reminiscent of an off-key Anvil Chorus as they worked in happy harmony, sending chips of stone and puffs of dust into an atmosphere laden with an overwhelming smell of vinegar, petroleum products, and heady alcoholic fumes from twenty bottles of very expensive wine that had been poured in a sort of unholy Communion over the mounds of food and kitchen products.
They paused in the laundry room while Chuck took appreciative note of the large-capacity washer and drier and then opened the door into the Winrod garage.
Here there was no need for discretion and the overhead light revealed a treasure trove of paints, appliances and a late-model avocado toned station wagon.
Chuck immediately unplugged the large deep freeze filled with expensive cuts of meat while Lars addressed the vehicle. While he was smashing out the windows, slashing the tires and covering the surface with cans of household enamel and paint remover, Chuck gleefully filled a portable cement mixer with the Winrod silver, Art’s bowling trophies, expensive electric drills, sanders and other tools. On top of these he put a large piece of stone that had been used to prop open the outside door that led to the pool area. When the mixer was turned on, it produced a high-pitched grinding noise that sounded like a minimalist tone poem.
Soon the car was dripping with paint and looked exactly like something found in the front yard of a ghetto residence. The only thing absent were the illiterate expressions of motherly love found with such prevalence on the walls of the nesting grounds of the sociological bottom-feeders. Both of the artists poured out dozens of large cans of paint onto the floor and in the middle of the Jackson Pollock-like mess dumped such diverse objects as Art’s golf clubs, a smashed portable television set, and a religious statue depicting a Jesus that looked like an advertisement for open heart surgery, into the polychromatic swamp.
All of this was sprinkled with the fragrant contents of bags of cow manure, three boxes of Christmas tree ornaments and a large plastic Santa Claus complete with reindeer and sleigh that had graced the roof of the Winrod house every Christmas season past. Part of the sleigh looked vaguely like the stern of the sinking “Titanic” and one booted leg of Santa Claus stuck up like the conning tower of a Soviet submarine trapped in a psychedelic nightmare of color
After mutually deciding that there was nothing left to attend to in the garage, the Night Visitors went back through the laundry room and headed for the locked door of the downstairs study. The Winrods kept it locked to prevent Tita, their illegal immigrant maid from stealing old Benny Goodman records. Tita apparently had no interest in sterling silver items but the records were sent off to her brother Estaban in their native Costa Rica and sold by him to local musicologists.
The locked door was but a moments’ work for Chuck who habitually carried a high quality lock pick set in his pocket wherever he went. He was a man of great optimism and greater skill and the door opened almost as swiftly as if he had used a key.
They looked around the room and then brought in various bags and containers to continue their entertainment. A bronze wire statue that had been welded together in fifteen minutes by a French lesbian who was stewed to the gills on cheap vin ordinaire yielded gracefully to Lars’ foot. Chuck went into the small bathroom and began to smash the tile, the fixtures and the fittings with his well-used and badly stained hammer.
All of the sound system, a small computer, family photo albums and all the Benny Goodman records were stacked by the door along with framed local civic achievement certificates, a picture of two long-winged angels fondling each other and a collection of pewter kittens.

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