You may never have heard of Stratfor. You certainly will not have read about it in The Moncton Times and Transcript. Stratfor is an intelligence service that examines security risks, and provides forecasts of strategic events. One of its major clients is the American government, with which it has enormous influence. Other clients are private corporations - like oil companies. (Well, no possible conflict of interest there.)
It is one, if probably the most influential one, of many such private spy outfits employed by the US government. Nobody knows (or perhaps nobody is telling) exactly how many such companies exist. They spy on foreign governments. They spy on American citizens. Indeed, Americans are probably the most spied on people in history. All sorts of Americans (and Canadians) - peace advocates, environmentalists, people who were seen having coffee with an environmentalist, people who spent a holiday week in Cuba are on thousands of lists as potential threats to the land of the free.
You don't have to do anything at all to get on a list. Teachers can end up on the list because they failed a vengeful student. A professor friend of mine, a conservative and orthodox Jew, was listed as a Palestinian terrorist. Nobody knows who submitted his name or why. The list is on the web, and it's influential in deciding which universities will get donations from corporations. I was furious about what had been done to this quite innocent man. So now I'm on the list as a Palestinian terrorist.
The late Senator Kennedy was once listed as a suspected terrorist, and so forbidden to fly in the US. It took him well over a month to get off the list.
It can be dangerous to be on one of those lists. As the US attorney general said just a few days ago, an American president now has the power to have anybody arrested and jailed indefinitely - with no charge, no lawyer, no trial, no reason. On those same grounds, or lack of them, he can order anybody assassinated.
Not long ago, hackers got into Stratfor's computers - and downloaded some 5,000,000 emails. Then they handed them over to Wikileaks. (They also got the credit card data for wealthy customers, and used it to donate money to charities.)
Of course, you wouldn't have seen any of that information in The Moncton Times and Transcript. So you might not know that American, British and French special ops troops are in Syria. They are training the rebels, supplying them, organizing them, carrying out assassinations, and terrorism operations. (They were also operating in Libya.)
In other words, our governments are not sitting around wringing their hands and feeling heartbroken about the killing in Syria. They're behind a good deal of it. Much the same was - and still is - going on in Libya, Yeman, Somalia, Nigeria and many other countries.
Special Ops troops are not humanitarian workers. They are not soldiers for democracy. They are thugs. They are highly trained thugs, but they are thugs - assassins, terrorists....
They are operating all over Africa and the middle east so that the western powers can nail down the region's resources and people before the Chinese get there. Will the people of the region be better off if our side succeeds? Well, we've been there for well over a century without doing them much good.
Will we bring democracy? Yes, so long as it's democracy that does what we tell it to do or, more accurately, what our oil and mining companies tell it to do. If not, there will be regime changes. And the west will create co-operative leaders - just as it created and supported the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, the king of Saudi Arabia, and Ghadaffi. (How soon we forget how those people got and held power).
In the longer run, we are headed for a cold war (I hope it's cold) with China. That's why the US is opening more military bases in the Pacific region. That's why Harper is reorganizing and equipping the Canadian forces.
But why worry? Hey! You have enough problem. Right? So just go to the op ed page Where Eric Lewis has a column on city planning that says nothing whatever. That's it. Relax. Close your eyes......
Perhaps I should soon do a blog on what city planning actually means......