Mahanth Joishy is usindiamonitor
- Obama has More Blood on his Hands than Bush? The video starts out with a provocative clip that will come later. Great, but… the claim is based on the Obama administration dropping more individual bombs than the Bush administration (this part appears to be factual from my research). But bombs, however horrible, are not the same as combining them with boots, tanks, helicopters, ships, jets, etc. on the scene in active war zones where uniformed soldiers are killing each other en masse, like Ukraine today. Bush launched the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and also started the more clandestine drone wars further afield in places like Pakistan, Africa, and Yemen. Much of this fatality data is classified and some of it is public knowledge. From what we know there is no argument on the following: Obama turbocharged the drone strikes, which was basically war on the cheap without boots or tanks on the ground or as much Congressional scrutiny. It was mostly cloak and dagger stuff, in small batches. Think of that what you will. I had problems with it, especially the scrutiny part. The claim that all this would outweigh the death toll of active, ongoing Bush wars in years 2001-2009 doesn’t hold, unless I see evidence of the numbers of deaths, not bombs. Obama drew down the Iraq War early on, then- I’d criticize this decision all day- surged in Afghanistan before he left; while starting in 2014 the ISIS fight in Syria and Iraq, all of which were results of the mess W created. I’m not defending either president or party- just defending the truth of the data. The data shows that Iraq deaths under Bush are the overwhelming factor tipping the scale in the death toll discussion.
- We are an Aggressive War-like species. Yes! Agree with Abhijit here and how the interview starts. Humans seem to love conflict and this is something we need to reckon with as a species in order to get to lasting peace. We spoke of this in my own last podcast.
- The First Gulf War, aka Desert Storm of 1991… Agree with this war or not, let’s chop it up here. I lived in Saudi Arabia at the time and studied it closely then and ever since. But we should talk details. Abhijit repeats several times that the United States at the time “could not take out Saddam Hussein.” This is false. The George H.W. Bush administration pointedly decided not to, once the objective of removing Hussein from Kuwait was achieved, though it would have been pretty easy at the time. The cabinet debated this and decided not to occupy Iraq despite over half a million US soldiers plus the backing international coalition being right there and ready to do just that. Although taking out Saddam would have been easy, running the country would not be as we found out 12 years later. Bush Sr., Powell, Cheney, and others who would crop up in US government later brought American soldiers home instead in 1991, which I’d argue was the right thing. Did the US welcome Saddam into invading Kuwait as Abhijit casually claims several times? While not entirely wrong, the truth is more nuanced and he is being extremely misleading. This was more about individual diplomats like the US Ambassador mis-communicating US policy and misreading Iraqi intentions, rather than a welcome to overtake Kuwait that I just cannot imagine George H.W. Bush would have wanted. Also sharply missing from this conversation about Desert Storm just being a ruse for America to “consolidate power” after welcoming Saddam’s aggression, was that the US-led intervention first and foremost prevented Saddam Hussein from over-running Saudi Arabia next- a clearly signaled objective and a power play by Iraq wholly unacceptable to the West that the US coalition successfully thwarted. The Saudi royals and other Mideast players directly ASKED the US to get involved in their defense which is why Saudi hosted 500,000 US military personnel for Desert Storm. Agree with this or not, the wholly evil designs assigned to the United States are not exactly what went down. However- the interview is correct, Saddam Hussein was a US ally during the 1980s and left the ranch afterwards and America certainly has partly itself to blame for creating that monster (along with Bin Laden) and not keeping close track of their guys later on. And the US coalition definitely killed retreating Iraqi soldiers and there was civilian collateral damage- which are features of all wars throughout history sadly. But Saddam played that Kuwaiti invasion and that war REALLY dirty himself, and was given plenty of chances by America to withdraw from Kuwait that were ignored. I just want to discuss both sides of this complicated story, which BeerBiceps does not. Make no mistake, Saddam was a monster, not running a happy country as Abhijit seems to intimate. Just ask those randomly murdered and tortured for no reason at all by Saddam’s sadist sons on a constant basis, a feature of dictatorships used to stay in power.
- Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War. The US-backed Shah getting overthrown and the subsequent revolution and government takeover is well-known, so no secret here how it went down. Definitely one of many stains on US history but not earth-shattering for a podcast to discuss. For the record I don’t think the US should be in the business of installing dictators but that was the Cold War for you.
- US media and education system do not properly educate or inform Americans on what US government does at home and around the world. Sure, many Americans are ignorant of many things especially when it comes to foreign countries, and it’s something I’d lament. And our education system is deeply flawed- in fact in my opinion education is America’s #1 problem, and that problem from which many others stem including our broken politics and our foreign policy that lacks empathy. BUT here I part ways and would say Abhijit and Ranveer are both right and wrong. On education, dramatically wrong. I can speak for myself: in largely American public schools in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri and private American schools in England and Saudi Arabia, I was taught from a young age extensively about European and post-colonial American submission of native peoples, the horrors of slavery, the failures of the Vietnam War and other foreign wars. We went deep into the atrocities of the US Civil War and what both sides did wrong morally as well as strategically. During my mostly US education I read many great books on all of these topics, plenty of these assigned by outstanding teachers who were openly critical of aspects of United States history and geopolitics, and there was certainly no effort to hide negative episodes of US history from me or classmates, while simultaneously being taught about US victories at war, which are also facts. For example, I learned more about US atrocities against Native Americans than I wanted to really know by reading an assigned reading book about the Trail of Tears, and my elementary school social studies teacher showed the entirety of the TV series ROOTS in class, which is super honest and probably the best primer on slavery a kid could ever get. We even had interesting debates in social studies classes about topics such as Desert Storm, where we could discuss any aspect we felt like, at all. I know I am not alone. When it comes to modern Western media I have myself pointed out many problems in the third estate. But let’s give credit where it’s due: modern technology such as air travel and the Internet itself make learning about and reporting on the world easier than ever, with more sources to find at your phone or desktop than at any point in history, and the US government deserves credit for accelerating the adoption of these gifts for the entire world. Freedom of the press is also a sacred foundation of America, and an amazing export to the rest of the world to places where they didn’t exist. It is more often corporations than government at fault when US media reporting is incomplete and one-sided. I would also remind Abhijit and Ranveer that the Indian education system, which I have spent a lot of time in, provides far fewer opportunities for debate and questioning especially with the always-feared teachers. In fact, we knew we would score the highest marks for repeating the teachers’ notes most closely- without questioning the points.
- Bill Clinton Breakdown. Abhijit says that his major contributions to history are the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Balkans War, and NATO expansion in Eastern Europe led by the US. He and I agree that the Monica scandal is not interesting (and so he shouldn’t have brought it up!). The Balkans and NATO expansion were led by Europeans and the prevention of genocide. The United States wasn’t perfect morally for entering the war, but it was debated and agreed upon. This is by no means Clinton’s only legacy, but we spend no time on anything else except war in the 90’s.
- Secret Group(s) Running America? And the President, of course, has no power? There is discussion of “who is really running America.” Which includes “the deep state or the Pentagon or whatever” as per Abhijit. In the same interview we are told all the blood of the Middle East is on Bush’s hands and Obama’s hands personally, over and over. YOU CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS, SIRS. This is overall mostly conspiracy theory nonsense sprinkled with a few facts, which isn’t worth getting into too far. I’ve noticed a lot of foreigners (and Americans) love saying America is run by the Illuminati, Masons, or some other secret group without data, and this seems to explain the way things are and it makes all of it so neat and easy. But I call this thinking lazy. We need to remember that government bureaucracies around the world at all levels, federal, state and local are made up of permanent civil servants, and rightly so: after elections the trains need to keep running on time and police forces and militaries need to stay intact 24/7/365 without a new Mayor / Governor /President /Prime Minister firing all the government bureaucrats (of which I am one on the local level). We don’t make up any sort of organized “deep state.” And here Abhijit goes deeper into conspiracies, including the JFK assassination being a US government plot (which, whatever you or I or these dudes believe about that, is more interesting to discuss if proof is presented beyond the direction of JFK’s brain moving in the film (this podcast episode needs to provide more original and new thinking). Then they question if Joe Biden even has any faculties left, that he does nothing all day except listen to those controlling him, and has no agency. I mean they criticize him for falling off a bicycle (which people of all ages do all the time!) and saying without explanation, Kamala Harris “doesn’t appear to have any leadership qualities at all.” These are tired, right wing talking points and barely worth addressing. If there were such a secret power structure in place, tied to some sort of “deep state” in the Pentagon do we really think Donald Trump would have been allowed to come to power? No way. Neither party wanted him in the White House, nor did the federal bureaucracy as a whole. They couldn’t even manage to remove him through impeachment, which he richly deserved. This is the best evidence I can present. It was the people of America at ground level who put him there, and then kicked him out too. Nobody else.
- Ancient wealth in massive amounts from India and elsewhere was stolen by the West. Totally agree- and Anup and I went into this topic ourselves in depth in our podcast. It sucks how colonial powers like Britain, Portugal, and France exploited India for centuries, stealing by force, extortion and bribery the equivalent of many trillions of US dollars. But we need to move on, it was a very long time ago and I don’t see solutions for these historical travesties that anger me too to no end as an Indian-American. But here Abhijit veers off into how a secret group of ultra-wealthy American families have possibly hoarded this stolen wealth that keeps them powerful to this day, and nobody knows who these people are because they (Illuminati) are hiding their wealth. Interesting stuff- which would be more interesting with evidence- names, amounts of money, locations, example properties, banks, or companies involved. A troubling trend emerging here is that Abhijit chooses not to ever provide evidence of conspiracy theories he brings up, instead averring that “people are saying…”
- George W. Bush. First there is some more conspiracy theory talk about 9/11 (I was in NYC that day with many family and friends and we were all affected profoundly) without evidence, which I would have been very interested to hear about, for I have seen plenty of evidence that makes official accounts of 9/11 seem somehow off or inaccurate at best. Instead 9/11 conspiracy is brought up without any original ideas, or a stance whether this was an inside job or not; we get no endorsement of either side of the story. I’ll say what I think here: it mostly went down with 19 hijackers led by Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, not US government officials, crashing planes. I grew up in a Saudi region where 5 of those hijackers were from. 15 of the 19 hijackers were of Saudi descent, and were deeply angered by Desert Storm and the Saudi Kingdom’s royals’ open invitation of 500,000 American troops to park on top of their country (the custodians of the holiest Islamic sites Mecca and Medinah themselves!) and please defend them while Bin Laden with a large Mujahid army and time on his hands offered that same protection first and was rejected; it’s really not too hard to figure out how this happened. They were all real people and were part of an elaborate plot emanating from the Middle East. 9/11 was not needed for America to go to war; America could do it anyway. Did W invade Iraq as “unfinished business” from the first Gulf War and the psychology of his relationship to his father? “Looks like a family thing,” is the confident statement that both guys repeat in the podcast. Sure, that’s certainly one plausible reason, a theory put forward by some without much proof, but at best it’s only one of many reasons. However, before the Iraq invasion of 2003 America engaged in a vigorous debate on the topic, including cabinet members, Congresspersons, the media and many external players including the UN and European countries, and I would argue those chicken-hawks Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld were the specific ones leading this charge, not W trying to get out from under Daddy’s shadow. W according to the record was largely undecided about the invasion for over a year. These neocon idiots thought (sincerely) making Iraq a democracy down the barrel of a gun would change the world order for the better. On the positive side we (US taxpayers) finally took out Saddam but this war was obviously to me a huge mistake that we are still paying for. What long-term benefits is the US getting for it? And what headaches (ie, ISIS, unstable governments and continued tribal, chauvinist violence in Iraq, a failed occupation, American blood and treasure) are the result to this day? With Afghanistan and Iraq we took out some really bad hombres like Bin Laden and Saddam and their deputies, but the region isn’t as improved from where we started as we would have liked. Washington DC isn’t masterminding the state of the Middle East as this podcast keeps insinuating. In fact, Washington DC just spent the last 20 years bumbling around that region, bleeding money and troops.
- Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc. I am always against America going to war unless it is absolutely vital to defending US national security and America’s back is up hard against the wall. On that front the US has made mistakes through history- as have all nations in the world at one time or the other. I’d agree with these dudes on this count. However, Abhijit in particular seems to believe the War on Terror was awesome for America strategically, and the supposed secret cabal running it deployed calculated uses of power mainly to benefit American oil interests or others. I don’t think the aftermath of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya have been overall positive for anyone including us. And the US has been working towards energy independence and diversity of sources very rapidly in this period. YES- I agree nobody is completely evil or completely good. But we need to admit some actors in the world are more evil than others. Yes, Syria, Libya, and Yemen are a mess, so are other places like North Korea; this we can argue fairly is partly but not entirely America’s fault, and the current Syrian leader is Bashar Al-Assad not Hafez Assad (an excused correction on what I believe is a silly mistake on the podcast, not intentional).
- A note on Yemen War. There is this claim that American citizens don’t know about the Yemen War because our media never covers it. This is partly true. Yes, many Americans aren’t aware of what’s going on around the world generally, as they’ve turned the news off and are busy with raising kids, work, or baseball games or whatever. But is there proof of censorship by the government on Yemen? I’ve learned a ton about Yemen from MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, etc. and so can you, and on top of that much of the content is free especially on YouTube. And if you’re like me you can freely consume foreign media outlets if you want. There is no censorship at high level. It’s not talked about every day on the street by everyone but there’s plenty of good Western journalism on Yemen and those reporters, some of them downright courageous, deserve more credit than this “media doesn’t want to cover it or isn’t allowed to cover it” narrative. In fact, Yemen has been discussed thoroughly in the US government bureaucracy and bills have even been brought to the floor of the House and Senate about ending the war and providing aid- foreign aid being another of the great things the US government provides around the world that this podcast makes zero mention of. Presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders himself and Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna have been involved in Yemen debates. True, we haven’t completely ended the war but the US is not the one that caused or is continuing that war. It’s a bit unfair to put ALL the world’s problems at Uncle Sam’s doorstep, and again, many of us do know about the Yemen War. I used to live close to the Yemeni border and learned about some of the terrible history. It is indeed a tragic affair. I wish we could make the countries involved stop but that’s not so easy even for a superpower. Final note on this: when Ranveer states the US government actions are “no different than terrorism” and Abhijit agrees, I would beg to differ. The United States in the main when it goes to war does not target civilians and has safeguards to protect them. Terrorists on the other hand kill civilians on purpose to make a point- they aim to destroy rather than build or offer ideas. Big difference! I’m not being defensive here, just stating facts. Sure, the US revolutionaries and others we think of as heroes were called terrorists at the time. But if one uses false equivalency here I will call that out all day, every day.
- Is the world running low on resources? Abhijit accurately nailed this answer to Ranveer’s question- no we are not, there is new technology to be found to extract and process raw materials, in addition to many resources remaining undiscovered. Editor’s note: as long as we manage to keep this planet alive.
- Barack Obama’s Tenure. Here is where the clip on Obama having “more blood on his hands” than George W. Bush comes in. Contradicting their own claim that “US Presidents have no power!” Even worse- there is the statement with a straight face that Obama achieved nothing in his 8 years except killing innocent civilians! His “blackness” and “breaking the glass ceiling,” being “sauve” in person and on social media were his only claims to fame apparently, which I strongly reject. Putting aside my own politics, here are major facts that Abhijit and Ranveer simply skip over, either out of ignorance or deceit. Remember the Affordable Care Act which helped millions of Americans? Successfully saving an (inherited) economy in deep and terminal free fall, pumping life into the Detroit auto industry and shoring up Wall Street and real estate markets on the brink of devastating collapse? This helped bring back the entire global economy, folks. Putting America on the path of a green revolution which has helped turbocharge the EV industry, wind power, and solar power? Ending the Iraq War? Finally, of great relevance to me, Ranveer, Abhijit, and all Indians alike: Obama did a great deal for US-India relations, much of which I documented on this site thoroughly at the time from a neutral point of view. I could go on. It’s easier to say a leader did absolutely nothing than to actually look up what he did.
- Discussing African-Americans, Indians, and Racism from White People. In this segment a number of opinions about historical and modern American racism are discussed, and I of all people would not have a problem with these statements. Decide for yourself what you think about what Ranveer and Abhijit are discussing. I would argue that racism is worse elsewhere in the world that I’ve been to, but this doesn’t excuse what is going on here. We need to work on this as a society. And I think the problem is very serious these days.
- The U.S. Constitution. Sure, it’s not perfect. Sure, it was only white male landowners involved in creating it. But I would argue all day with confidence that it’s a DAMN good, even BRILLIANT document that has inspired nations around the world including India to create their own version- because of what it has done for American society for centuries standing now. Most documents don’t stand the test of time like this. Ranveer and Abhijit don’t pick apart specifics in the document they disagree with- a common theme here is a glaring lack of specifics in favor of generalizations, like “it says men are all born equal BLAH BLAH BLAH…do you think this is a legitimate constitution?…it’s an illegitimate constitution!” says Chavla powerfully. We have to remember context- in almost all the rest of the world including India in 1776, Kings, Queens, Chieftains, Princes, Princesses, etc were ruling their people by the sword, religious alliances, and family inheritance. The US Constitution helped turn the tide against that in many parts of the world. It’s a force for good. Let’s give credit where it’s due.
- Problems in the U.S. I am largely in agreement that the country has serious issues with gun proliferation, mental health, underlying racial tensions, etc. No argument here. I am deeply concerned about the state of modern America, and we all should be.
- Vir Das There is some commentary about an Indian comic who made a standup special making fun of India. I honestly have not seen this guy yet, including the special being referenced, and cannot respond one way or the other. You could watch it for yourself. I would tend to not enjoy such content if the description is accurate. But when Abhijit says US media like the New York Times consistently makes fun of India and Hinduism, I just don’t see that happening, and voraciously consume varied Western media about India including the NYT almost daily. Specifics here would be helpful to debate over. Another false equivalency I can’t agree with.
- Positives of the United States. I was gratified to hear these dudes discuss the other, positive, more glorious side of the United States and its effect on the world for a bit. I especially hope people in India hear this. Great points brought up by Ranveer and Abhijit, which I would largely agree with. I got a laugh as did Abhijit when Ranveer quipped, “The truth is, between you and China, we would always pick you!” No-brainer, but still it’s good to hear from foreigners.
- Cyberwarfare is the Future. Yes! I’ve written about this here in depth and in fact am trying to publish my first novel, as we speak, about a joint US-India cyberwar operation called EaglePeacock, set in 2029. I hope you can read it in book form soon.
- Trump Beating Hillary had Nothing to do with Russia. Patently false! Although Abhijit confidently presents many theories in this episode without evidence, the evidence is damning about #TrumpRussia and easy to find. Russia’s fingerprints were ALL OVER the 2016 election and 100% helped sway the election for Trump. This is controversial and unfortunately, widely so for partisan reasons- until you choose to read the overwhelming proof. My own thoughts on this are out in the open. Meanwhile discussion of Donald Trump as a high-achiever, successful businessman? Laughable! And a popular theory in India I have noticed. Sorry, he got all his money from his father to the tune of over a BILLION dollars decades ago, and still managed to piss most of it away on stupid failed ventures and grift… which is why he owed Russia favors. Again if there were a secret cabal tied to the “deep state” running things how could they have let this happen? Once again, tired talking points and not original ones either. We DO agree that “Trump was a failure though…he did not build the wall…he was able to achieve nothing.” And Trump is still a clear and present danger to American democracy and unity.
- Hillary Clinton is Part of the Illuminati if there is One. Deep state, blah blah blah. I just have nothing more to add to this idle chatter. The American people vote presidents in and out, not a secret society, people. Never forget that! This might be the most important part of this rebuttal by far. Voting and elections are imperfect here but they largely work at federal, state, and local levels nationwide. Democracy is flawed, but it is still very much alive. And that is all thanks to the voters.
- China’s Demographic and Economic Troubles. While this is a good discussion, and is largely accurate, the information isn’t anything I haven’t heard before from numerous sources, including Peter Zeihan, especially in relation to China’s aging population and its nexus with a potential war that could be started by China.
- In Conclusion. First of all, I love the fact that this podcast, and guys like Ranveer, and Abhijit are out there doing what they are doing. They are both smart guys and I am also pleased to see the number of hits and subscribers BeerBiceps has (I’m even jealous of those numbers from my standpoint). On the other hand, I wanted the audience of theirs and mine in India, the United States, and elsewhere to get a more holistic picture about America where warranted. It is easy to blame everything on Uncle Sam or a US President that is wrong in the world. But let’s give credit where it’s due. YouTube is an American company, though flawed, that gives a platform at zero cost for content creators to produce, for viewers anywhere, to see that content at no cost, built on top of an Internet infrastructure which was fostered by the US government including its big, bad military machine. People on these platforms can speak pretty freely, including trashing people in power, as I do all the time and as Abhijit and Ranveer do too. This is a great thing about America that some of the world does not enjoy. Like the US Constitution, Internet, social media, Velcro, airplanes, automobiles, electricity, and many other things I would call gifts from America to the rest of the world, they are also a huge part of the mixed legacy of US history, just like slavery and racism, nuclear weapons and other terrible stains. Indians living in India I have known over many years tend to gravitate towards American left wing or right wing conspiracy theories, and that makes sense for those with less exposure to the United States than we Americans have. And that’s fair. They know more about the power structures in India than I do perhaps. I do not have problems at all with the factual criticisms in this BeerBiceps episode, but I have pointed out some (not all) of the responses I felt the strong need to provide against points I felt were not fully supported by facts. I too may have misunderstood a quote, made some errors or lack knowledge about some point or another in this piece. But overall I have taken care to be accurate in all my statements and also opinions. I welcome further sincere, respectful dialogue with Abhijit and/or Ranveer, and would greatly welcome a rebuttal to this rebuttal in writing or even better, by video using Zoom or some such American company’s technology. We can call it, “Dear BeerBiceps. Love, America.” 😉
[…] this nonsense, although there may be threads of partial truth they sprung from. We have discussed these conspiracies, and debunked some of them, in detail on these […]