Getting used to Life without Food

July 3rd, 2011 by F. William Engdahl

My late grandfather, a man of sturdy Norwegian-American farm stock, who later became a newspaper editor and political activist during the First World War, used to say, ‘A man can get used to pretty much anything with time, except dying…and even that with some practice.’ Well, as fate has it, it seems we, the vast majority of the human race, are about to test that adage in regard to the availability of our daily bread itself.

Food is one of those funny things it’s hard to live without. We all tend to take it for granted that our local supermarket will continue to offer whatever we wish, in abundance, at affordable prices or nearly so. Yet living without adequate food is the growing prospect facing hundreds of millions, if not billions, of us over the coming years.

In a sense it’s a genuine paradox. Our planet has everything we need to produce nutritious natural food to feed the entire world population many times over. This is the case, despite the ravages of industrialized agriculture over the past half century or more.

Then, how can it be that our world faces, according to some predictions, the prospect of a decade or more of famine on a global scale? The answer lies in the forces and interest groups that have decided to artificially create a scarcity of nutritious food. The problem has several important dimensions.

Eliminating emergency reserves

The ability to manipulate the price of essential foods worldwide at will — almost irrespective of today’s physical supply and demand for grains — is quite recent. It is also scarcely understood.

Up until the grain crisis of the mid-1970s there was no single “world price” for grain, the benchmark for the price of all foods and food products. Grain prices were determined locally in thousands of market places where buyer and seller met. The onset of economic globalization was to change that radically to the worse as the tiny percent of grains traded internationally were able to set the global price for the bulk of grains grown.

From the time of the earliest traces left by Sumerian civilization some two thousand years before Christ, in the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in today’s Iraq, almost every culture had the practice of storing a reserve stock of a grain harvest – right up to the most recent times. Wars, droughts and famines were the reason. When properly stored, grain can be safely stored over a period of about seven years, enabling reserve stocks in case of an emergency.

After the Second World War, Washington created a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to serve as a wedge to push free trade among major industrial nations, especially the European Community. During initial negotiations, agriculture was deliberately kept off the table at the insistence of the Europeans, especially the French, who regarded political defense of Europe’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and European agriculture protections as non-negotiable.

Beginning in the 1980s with the political crusades of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the extremist free market views of Chicago’s Milton Friedman became increasingly accepted by leading European power circles. Step-by-step the resistance to the Washington agriculture free trade agenda dissolved.

After more than seven years of intense horse-trading, lobbying and pressure, the European Union finally agreed in 1993 to the GATT Uruguay Round, requiring a major reduction of national agriculture protection. Central to the Uruguay Round deal was agreement on one major change: national grain reserves as a government responsibility were to be ended.

Under the new 1993 GATT agreement, formalized with the creation of a World Trade Organization to police the agreements with enforceable sanctions against violators, ‘free trade’ in agriculture products was for the first time an agreed priority of the world’s major trading nations, a fateful decision to put it mildly.

Henceforth, grain reserves were to be managed by the ‘free market,’ by private companies, greatest among them the US Grain Cartel giants, the behemoths of American agribusiness. The grain companies argued that they would be able to fill any emergency gaps more efficiently and save governments the cost. That ill-advised decision would open the floodgates to unprecedented grain market shenanigans and manipulations.

ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Continental Grain, Bunge and the primus inter pares, Cargill—the largest privately-held grain and agribusiness trading company in the world—emerged the great winners of the WTO process.

The outcome of the GATT agriculture talks was very much to the liking of the people at Cargill. That was no surprise to insiders. Former Cargill executive Dan Amstutz played the key role in drafting the agriculture trade section of the GATT Uruguay Round.[1] In 1985 D. Gale Johnson of the University of Chicago, a colleague of Milton Friedman, co-authored a seminal report for David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission that was the blueprint for what they called “market-oriented” agricultural reform. It provided the framework for the US position in the coming GATT Uruguay Round negotiations. The Rockefeller group and its think tanks were the architects of ‘agricultural reform,’ as with so much in our post-1945 world.

The process of eliminating government grain reserves in major producing countries took time, but with the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill, the US had virtually eliminated its grain reserves. The EU followed soon after. Today, among major agriculture producing countries, only China and India still hold to a strategic security policy of nationally held grain reserves. [2]

Wall Street smells blood

The elimination of national grain reserves in the USA and EU and other major OECD industrial countries set the stage for the next step in the process—elimination of agricultural commodity derivatives regulation, allowing unbridled unchecked speculative manipulations.

Under the Clinton Treasury (1999 – 2000) the deregulation of government controls over agriculture commodity speculation was formalized by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)—the government body charged with supervising derivatives trade in exchanges such as the Chicago Board of Trade or NYMEX— and in legislation drafted by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers at Treasury. As described below, it was no accident that Wall Street pushed Geithner, former President of the NY Federal Reserve, to become Obama’s Treasury Secretary in 2008, amid the worst financial debacle in history. Something to do with having foxes guard henhouses.

When Henry Kissinger was Secretary of State in 1972-1973, acting in league with the Department of Agriculture and major US grain trading companies, he orchestrated an unprecedented 200% jump in the price of grain. The price hike was triggered at that time by the US signing a three-year contract with the Soviet Union that had just gone through a disastrous harvest failure.

The US-Soviet deal hit amid global drought and severely reduced harvests worldwide, hardly a prudent time to sell the entire US grain cupboard to an ostensible Cold War opponent. The sale took place amid a major world grain harvest shortfall leading to the explosive price rise. Critical voices in US press at the time appropriately dubbed it the Great Grain Robbery. Kissinger had even arranged for much of the cost of shipping US grain to the Soviets to be paid by US taxpayers. Cargill and company laughed all the way to the bank. [3]

Around the same time, the big American grain companies—Cargill, Continental Grain, ADM, Bunge—began what would be a twenty-year process of transforming world grain markets into venues for controlling essential human and animal nutrition by manipulating grain prices regardless of supply.

The twenty-year process of the US’ gaining control of world grain markets and prices took a giant leap forward in the 1980s with the advent of financial commodity index trading and other derivatives.

The Summers-Geithner-Wall Street new version of the earlier grain robbery especially after 2006 would eventually pale anything Kissinger and friends had engineered in the 1970s.

In 1999, at the urging of major Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chase Manhattan and Citibank, the Clinton Administration drafted a statute that would fundamentally alter grain-trading history. It was called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and was made law in 2000.

The two key architects of Clinton’s new law were a former Goldman Sachs consultant and Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and his Assistant at Treasury Tim Geithner, friend of Wall Street and today Obama’s Treasury Secretary. Secretary Summers was also a key player in preventing efforts to regulate financial derivatives in commodities and financial products.[4]

The Summers-Geithner recommendations were contained in a November 1999 Report to Congress from the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, the infamous “Plunge Protection Team.” [5]

At the time, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) proposed also to deregulate trading in derivatives between major banks or financial institutions, including derivatives of grain and other agricultural commodities.[6]

The historic and unprecedented deregulation opened a massive hole in Government supervision of derivatives trading, a gaping hole that ultimately facilitated the derivatives games leading to the 2007 financial collapse. It also formed the deregulation free-for-all that is behind much of the recent explosion in grain prices.

Some years earlier in 1991 Goldman Sachs had rolled out its own commodity “index,” which was to go on to become the global benchmark for derivatives trading of all commodities, including food and oil. The Goldman Sachs Commodity Index or GSCI was a new derivative that tracked the prices of some 24 commodities — from corn to hogs to coffee to wheat to precious metals and energy. From the point of view of Wall Street, the idea was brilliant. It let speculators gamble on the future price of an entire range of raw materials in one step, a kind of Wall Street version of a “one-step” gambling mall…

With the CFTC deregulation of commodity trading in 1999 Goldman Sachs was positioned to reap sweet financial rewards with its GSCI. Now bankers and hedge funds and other high-profile speculators were able to take huge positions or bets on the future grain price with no need to take delivery of actual wheat or corn at the end.

The price of grain was now run by the new casino masters of grain supplies — from Wall Street to London and beyond — who traded grain futures and options in Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City. No longer was future price a form of hedging limited to knowledgeable active participants in the grain industry, whether farmers or millers or large grain end-users – the individual traders who had relied on futures contracts for more than a century to insulate themselves from risks of harvest failure or disasters.

Grain had become a new speculative field for anyone willing to risk investors’ capital, high stakes gamblers such as Goldman Sachs or Deutsche Bank or high-risk offshore hedge funds. Grain, like oil before it, had now been almost entirely decoupled from everyday supply and demand in the short term. The price could be manipulated for brief periods through rumor rather than fact. [7]

Unlike directly involved parties like millers or farmers or large restaurant chains, speculators neither produced nor took delivery of the corn or wheat they gambled with. They could hardly take delivery of 10 tons of hard red winter wheat and store it. Their game was a complex new form of arbitrage where the only rule was to buy low and sell high. Derivative instruments and US Government laissez faire regulatory negligence allowed the players’ potential profits from the game to be leveraged often many-fold.

But there was another perverse twist: Goldman Sachs’ GSCI was structured so that investors could only buy the contract. It was, as the industry calls it, “long only.” No one could bet on a fall in grain prices with it. You only stood to profit from an ever-rising grain price and that happened as ever more innocent investors were suckered into high-risk commodity speculation creating a kind-of self-fulfilling prophesy.[8]

That long-only feature was done to encourage bank clients to leave their money with the bank or fund for the long term and let the bankers play with other people’s money, with huge potential windfall profits to the bankers — while any losses fell to the clients.

The fatal flaw was that the GSCI structure did not allow “short selling” that would force prices down in times of grain surplus. Investors were lured into a system that required them to buy and keep buying once grain prices rose for whatever reason. Soon other banks, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Pimco, JP Morgan Chase, AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, floated their own commodity index funds.[9] For the first time, high-risk commodity investing — including into grain and other agriculture products — became a financial product for the “little man” who knew little if anything about what he was getting into, just that his banker or fund adviser was urging him to invest in it. The banks as usual played with “other people’s money” – at the expense of ‘other people.’

In a detailed analysis of the grain price bubble of 2007-2008, Olivier de Schutter, a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, recently concluded that “a significant portion of the increases in price and volatility of essential food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a speculative bubble.” [10] The timing of that bubble was notable as it conveniently offset huge losses of those same mega-banks that were under water with their excesses in securitized home mortgages and other Wall Street casino madness. Schutter added,

In particular, there is a reason to believe that a significant role was played by the entry into markets for derivatives based on food commodities of large, powerful institutional investors such as hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks, all of which are generally unconcerned with agricultural market fundamentals. Such entry was made possible because of deregulation in important commodity derivatives markets beginning in 2000. [11]

Following the collapse of the dot.com stock bubble in 2000, as Wall Street and other major financial players began seeking alternatives, commodities and high-risk derivatives based on baskets of commodities became a major speculative investment theme for the first time.

Since 2000 the totality of dollars invested in various commodity index funds –Goldman Sachs’ GSCI being the largest — has risen from some $13 billion in 2003 to a staggering $317 billion during the oil and grain speculation bubble in 2008. This was documented in a study by Lehman Brothers shortly before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made them a sacrificial lamb in order to bail out his Wall Street cronies.[12]

Since 2008 with some fluctuation, investor funds have continued to pour into various commodity funds, keeping food prices high and rising. From 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent — and has kept rising. In the period from May 2010 through May 2011 the price of wheat rose again some 85%. “It’s unprecedented how much investment capital we’ve seen in commodity markets,” said Kendell Keith, president of the National Grain and Feed Association, in a recent interview. [13]

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that since 2004, world food prices on average have soared by an unprecedented 240%. The offering of food commodities as a speculative alternative by the large banks and hedge funds exploded in 2007 when the US sub-prime financial tsunami first hit. Since then, speculation in food commodities has only gathered more momentum as other investments in stocks and bonds became highly dangerous. One result has been a predictably rapid rise in starvation, hunger and malnutrition in poorer populations around the world.

The FAO calculates that food-deficit countries will be forced to spend fully 30% more on importing food — with a world value of a staggering $1.3 trillion. Three decades ago, that international market was tiny; today it is overwhelmingly dominated by a small handful of US agribusiness giants. Agribusiness, like military exports, is a core US strategic sector, long supported to extraordinary lengths by Washington. It is part of a larger and rather private agenda shaped decades ago under the aegis of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and their eugenics advocates. [14]

Importing food is today the rule rather than the exception as cheap, globalized agribusiness products, often under IMF pressure, are being forced onto populations across the developing world, including formerly self-sufficient food-producing societies now rendered dependant on imported food. This is done in the name of ‘free trade’ or what is often called ‘market-oriented agriculture.’ Left unsaid is that the so-called ‘market’ is colossally inefficient and unhealthy, literally and financially. Imported food dependency is artificially created by huge multinational conglomerates such as Tyson Foods, Smithfield, Cargill or Nestle, corporate giants whose last concern seems to be the health and well-being of those of us who must consume their industrial food products.

The cheap agribusiness imports often undercut the prices of locally grown crops, driving millions from their land into overcrowded cities in desperate search of jobs.

Today the price of wheat derivatives, or ‘paper wheat,’ controls the price of real wheat as speculators like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Barclays or numerous offshore hedge funds — with little interest in grains other than as a profit source — now outnumber bona-fide agriculture industry hedgers four-to-one.

That is a complete reversal of the situation that dominated grain prices for the past hundred years or more. For some 75 years, the CFTC had imposed limits on how much of certain agricultural commodities — including wheat, cotton, soybeans, soybean meal, corn, and oats — can be traded by non-commercial players who are not part of the food industry. So-called ‘commercial hedgers,’ like farmers or food processors, previously could trade unlimited amounts in order to manage their risk. Not so with pure speculators.

Those limits were designed to prevent manipulation and distortion in what are relatively small markets. With the passage of the Summers-Geithner Commodity Modernization Act of 2000 and the infamous ‘Enron Loophole’ — allowing exemption from government regulation — the fast and loose trading in energy derivatives was rapidly expanded to include food commodities. The dam broke in 2006 when Deutsche Bank asked for and was granted CFTC permission to be exempt from all trading limits. The regulatory authorities assured them that there would be no penalties for exceeding the limits. Others followed, lemming like. [15]

For some two billion people in the world who spend more than half of their income on food, the effects have been horrifying. During the speculation-driven grain price explosion in 2008, more than a quarter billion people became what the UN terms “food insecure,” or a total of one billion human beings, a new record. [16]

That need never have occurred had it not been for the diabolical consequences of the US Government deregulating grain speculation, with support from the US Congress over the past decade or more. By early 2008, upwards of 35% of all US arable land was being planted with corn to be burned as biofuel under the new Bush Administration incentives. In 2011 the total is more than 40%. Thus, the stage was set for the slightest minor market shock to detonate a massive speculative bubble in grain markets, as was then being done by the use of the same GSCI index games as are played with oil.

Agribusiness as a long-term strategy

The record rise in grain and food prices in recent years is not a mere Wall Street profit gimmick, although obscene profits are being made. Rather, it is apparently an integral part of a long-term strategy whose roots go back to the years just after World War Two when Nelson Rockefeller and his brothers tried to organize the global food chain along the same monopoly model they had used for world oil. Food would henceforth become just another commodity like oil or tin or silver whose scarcity and price could ultimately be controlled by a small group of powerful trading insiders.

At the same time the Rockefeller brothers were expanding their global business reach from oil to agriculture in the developing world through their technology-driven Green Revolution scheme after the war, they were also financing a little-noticed project at Harvard University. The project would form the infrastructure for their plan to globalize world food production under the central control of a handful of private corporations.

Its creators gave it the name ‘agribusiness,’ in order to differentiate it from traditional farmer-based agriculture — the cultivation of crops for human sustenance and nutrition. The push to place world national governments’ emergency grain reserves into private hands was merely a logical expansion of the original Rockefeller agribusiness strategy, as was their highly mis-represented “Green Revolution” which at day’s end merely promoted a huge sale of US agriculture products from John Deere tractors (using large volumes of Standard Oil Rockefeller products) to US chemical fertilizers made by other companies in the Rockefeller orbit—forcing a trend to large scale farming and forcing millions off the land into cities where they former a cheap labor pool for large multinationals. The highly-touted harvest yields turned out to be actual losses after several harvests. [17]

Agribusiness and the Green Revolution went hand-in-glove. They were part of a grandiose strategy which included Rockefeller Foundation financing of research for development of genetic alteration of plants a few years later.

John H. Davis had been Assistant Agriculture Secretary under President Dwight Eisenhower in the early 1950s. He left Washington in 1955 and went to the Harvard Graduate School of Business, an unusual place for an agriculture expert in those days. Davis had a clear strategy. In 1956 he wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review in which he declared, “the only way to solve the so-called farm problem once and for all, and avoid cumbersome government programs, is to progress from agriculture to agribusiness.” He knew precisely what he had in mind, though few observers had a clue back then.[18]

Davis, together with another Harvard Business School professor, Ray Goldberg, formed a Harvard team with Russian-born economist Wassily Leontief, who was then mapping the entire US economy, in a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. During the war, the US Government had hired Leontief to develop a method of dynamic analysis of the total economy that he referred to as ‘input-output’ analysis. Leontief worked for the US Labor Department as well as for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA.[19]

In 1948 Leontief got a major four-year $100,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to set up the Harvard ‘Economic Research Project on the Structure of the American Economy.’ A year later the US Air Force joined the Harvard project, a curious engagement for one of the prime US military branches. The transistor and electronic computers had just been developed along with methods of linear programming that would allow the processing of vast amounts of statistical data on the economy. Soon the Ford Foundation joined in to fund the Harvard project.[20]

The Harvard project and its agribusiness component were part of a major attempt to revolutionize US and later, global food production. It was to take four decades before it dominated the food industry. Professor Goldberg later referred to the agribusiness revolution and the development of genetically-modified agribusiness as ‘changing our global economy and society more dramatically than any other single event in the history of mankind.’ [21] He just might have been right as we are now likely about to witness over the coming decade.

As Ray Goldberg boasted years later, the core idea driving their agribusiness project was the re-introduction of ‘vertical integration’ into US food production. By the 1970s most Americans had forgotten that bitter battles had been fought before World War I and during the 1920′s to pass laws in Congress to prohibit vertical integration by giant conglomerates, and to break up trusts such as Standard Oil, in order to prevent them from monopolizing whole sectors of vital industries.

It wasn’t until the David Rockefeller-backed Presidency of Jimmy Carter in the late 1970’s that US multinational business was able to begin the rollback of decades of carefully constructed US Government regulations of health, food safety and consumer protection laws, and open the doors to a new wave of vertical integration of agriculture. The vertical integration process was sold to unaware citizens under the banner of ‘economic efficiency’ and ‘economy of scale.’ [22]

A return to vertical integration and the accompanying agribusiness were introduced amid a publicity campaign in mainstream media and from industry claiming that government had encroached far too much into the daily lives of its citizens and had to be cut back to give ordinary Americans ‘freedom.’ The war cry of the campaigners was ‘deregulation.’ Of course, de-regulation by government merely opened the door to private control – another form of regulation — by the largest and most powerful corporate groups in any given industry. That was certainly the case for agriculture — the big four grain cartel companies dominated world grain markets from the 1970s to today. They worked hand-in-glove with big Wall Street derivative players such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup.

By the latter part of 2007, trading in food derivatives was fully deregulated by Washington, and US government grain reserves gone. The way was clear for dramatic food price rises.

The speculative machine that had been put into place by Wall Street and its banker friends was creating the potential for significant, long-term food inflation. But the inflation needed a major ‘venting’ to get the ball really rolling. That was to come from George W. Bush.

The Killer Punch—BP, Bioethanol and Genocide

In 2007, just as the US real estate crisis was causing the first tsunami shock waves through Wall Street, the Bush Administration made a major public relations push to convince the world that the US had turned into a “better steward of the environment.” Too many fell for the hype.

The center of the Bush program, announced in his January 2007 State of the Union Address, was something called ’20 in 10′—cutting US gasoline use 20% by 2010. The official reason given to the public was to “reduce dependency on imported oil,” as well as cutting unwanted “greenhouse gas” emissions. That wasn’t the case, of course, but it made good PR. Repeat it often enough and maybe most people will believe it. Maybe they won’t realize that their taxpayer subsidies are being used to grow ethanol corn instead of feed corn and are also driving the price of their daily bread through the roof.

The heart of the Bush plan was a huge taxpayer-subsidized expansion of the use of bio-ethanol for transport fuel. President Bush’s first plan required production of 35 billion gallons (about 133 billion liters) of ethanol a year by 2017. Congress had already mandated, via the Energy Policy Act of 2005, that corn ethanol for fuel must rise from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012.

To make certain it would happen, farmers and big agribusiness giants like ADM were given generous taxpayer subsidies to grow corn for fuel instead of for food. David Rockefeller’s corporate farms were one of the largest recipients of US Government agriculture subsidies. Currently ethanol producers in the US get a subsidy of 51 cents per gallon of ethanol. The subsidy is paid to the blender, usually an oil company, that blends it with gasoline for sale. In the 2011 harvest year, an estimated 40% of all corn acreage in the United States is expected to be grown for biofuel.

As a result of these generous US Government subsidies to produce bio-ethanol fuels, and the new legislative mandate, the US refinery industry has been investing big time in building special new ethanol distilleries, similar to oil refineries, except they produce ethanol fuel. The number currently under construction exceeds the total number of oil refineries built in the US over the past 25 years. When finished in the next 2-3 years, the demand for corn and other grain to make ethanol for car fuel will double from present levels.

Not wanting to be left behind, the EU bureaucrats in Brussels — no doubt generously encouraged by the likes of BP, Cargill, ADM and the major biofuel lobby — came up with its own scheme for “10 in 20″ or a mandate that 10% of all road fuel in the EU by 2020 be from biofuel. Shockingly, they did so despite the existence of a report by the same EU Commission on the damaging impact of such a massive turn to subsidized biofuels. The London Times reported,

A study by the Commission on the land use implications of sourcing only 5.6 per cent of Europe’s transport fuel from biofuels concluded that any significant rise beyond 5.6 per cent would ‘rapidly’ increase carbon emissions and ‘erode the environmental sustainability of biofuels’… Like most political diktats, the figure of 10 per cent was plucked out of the air and no one at the Commission had a clue, when the policy was adopted, how the fuel industry was to meet the one in ten mandate without a huge rise in biofuel planting in the tropics. [23]

In short, the use of farmland worldwide for bio-ethanol and other biofuels—burning the food product rather than using it for human or animal feed—is being treated in Washington, the EU, Brazil and other major centers as a major new growth industry. The impact on human beings, however, is quite the opposite. It is rapidly becoming a death industry, death of millions of innocent human beings unable to afford adequate nourishment for themselves or their families.

The United States today is far and away the world’s largest producer of ethanol biofuel for transportation fuel. In 2010 the US produced 13 billion gallons (US) or 50 billion liters of ethanol biofuel, amounting to near 60% of the world’s total. The EU added some 6% to the global total as number three behind Brazil in a macabre contest to see which country can destroy the most food by burning toxic biofuels. [24]

The most alarming aspect of the entire biofuel scam is the fact that three full years after the grain price explosion of 2008 was demonstrated to be directly tied to the biofuels removal of millions of acres of US farmland — from corn for feed to corn for fuel — no action has been taken either in the US Congress or in the EU or anywhere else to reverse that insane policy. The stunning inaction seems testimony to the political power of the biofuels lobby. Who are they? Not surprisingly, they are the same agri and oil giants behind US and EU food and energy policy. Major players include BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ADM, Cargill and the like. It is a powerful lobby and sees a goose that can literally lay multiple golden eggs in the form of mandated biofuels requirements of the EU and USA and elsewhere.

This January the Institute for European Environment Policy (IEEP), an independent body, issued a report on the role of bioenergy in EU governments’ “renewable energy action plans.” Recent proclamations by the German government that renewables will replace nuclear electric generation by 2020, and similar pledges by other EU governments, all rely on a fantastic delusion that the electriic power being generated by large nuclear plants can come from biodiesel. The January IEEP study notes that:

More than half of the renewable energy which EU Member States expect to consume annually by 2020 will consist of bioenergy, e.g. biomass, bioliquids and biofuels. This is revealed in a first evaluation of the proposed scale of deployment of bioenergy by the EU Member States in the period to 2020 as forecast in their National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs)…A significant increase in absolute consumption of bioenergy is anticipated. In the 23 plans examined, bioenergy will thus remain the main contributor to the renewable energy sector. Overall, the bioenergy contribution to final energy consumption is expected to more than double, from 5.4% in 2005 to almost 12% (124Mtoe) in 2020. Bioenergy will have a quasi-dominant role in the renewable portion of the EU heating and cooling sector, and is foreseen to contribute more than 80% to the sectoral target. In the electricity sector the bioenergy share will be relatively low but in the transport sector it is expected to reach nearly 90% of total renewable energy by the year 2020. [25]

The IEEP conducted an analysis of required land acreage needed for the cultivation of such a huge increase of biofuels by 2020. They estimated, after all factors are properly calculated, that an additional “4.1 to 6.9 million hectares” in the European Union will be needed for biofuel, acreage more than three times the entire state of Kansas.

Further, belying the EU myth that biofuels give a reduction of CO2 (even were CO2 a problem — which is highly contested among serious scientists), the IEEP calculates that the enormous rise in biofuel use will lead to more CO2 emissions from vehicles, equivalent to adding as many as 26 million additional vehicles on European roads. [26]

Biofuels are highly undesirable for countless reasons, as many serious environmental organizations have begun to realize. The corn ethanol industry has grown, largely due to powerful corn and oil lobbies. High demand will likely increase corn ethanol and gas prices as corn ethanol is mixed with gasoline.

Ethanol energy gets poor fuel-economy with standard engines. And most importantly, it simply is not possible to produce the amount of corn required to make the fuel a viable alternative to oil or a serious supplier of energy. [27]

New Global Dustbowls?

What biofuels and their pushers—from BP to agribusiness, combined with the mad decisions of governments from Washington to Berlin to Paris and beyond – have accomplished is the elimination of grain security reserves worldwide. This has been vigorously mixed with a cocktail of deregulated free commodity derivatives trading to create the ingredients for the worst potential food crisis in human history.

The testing of that hypothesis may unfortunately already be underway at the hands of forces far beyond the ability of man to control. At the recent annual meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society, scientists from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) presented results of studies of recent solar flare activity, by far the greatest factor influencing climate change on Earth. Flares occur in periodic cycles such as 11-year, 22-year and longer ones. The solar studies indicate that the Earth is now at the beginning of what might be a decade or longer period of greatly reduced solar activity.

Reduced solar sunspot activity means a less active sun. As Dutch physicist Gijs B. Graafland puts it, “It will affect severely the evaporation of ocean water and by that the amount of rain. This results in lower water for agriculture and therefore in less growth and more severe blowing away of dry fertile top soil layers which gives a decade of high food prices.” [28]

Translated to us, that could mean climate catastrophes, harvest failures, droughts and dust storms — such as those that swept the US Midwest during the Great Depression of the 1930s — in fertile regions across the planet, not just once but over a span of years. If the solar physicists as well as earlier Russian astrophysicist, Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia who predicted similar onset of a new “Little Ice Age” [29] beginning 2014, are right, we may soon face a food crisis on a scale our planet never in history has faced. [30]

F. William Engdahl, is the author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, published by Global Research. He is also the author of Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century; A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order and Full Spectrum Dominance : Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. He may be contacted via his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.  Reproduction of all or significant parts of this article, as well as foreign translations, require the author’s prior permission.

notes:

[1] F. William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, www.GlobalResearch.ca, Montreal, 2007, pp. 216-219.

[2] Sophia Murphy, Strategic Grain Reserves In an Era of Volatility, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, October 2009.

[3] Anon., Another Soviet Grain Sting, Time, November 28, 1977, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919164,00.html#ixzz1NMsb5yQY  

[4] PBS, The Warning, Public Broadcasting System, October 20, 2009, accessed in http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/#morelink.

[5] Lawrence Summers et al, Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets and the Commodity Exchange Act: Report of The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, Washington, D.C., November 1999.

[6] Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, CFTC Releases Plan for Market Deregulation, March 1, 2000, accessed in http://library.findlaw.com/2000/Mar/1/128962.html.

[7] Frederick Kaufman, How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis, Foreign Policy, April 27, 2011, accessed in http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/27/how_goldman_sachs_created_the_food_crisis.

[8] Amine Bouchentouf, et al, Investing in Commodities via the Futures Markets, accessed in http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/investing-in-commodities-via-the-futures-markets.html#ixzz1PdYxiCqD.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Olivier de Scheutter, Food Commodities Speculation and Food Price Crises, Briefing Note 02, September 2010, accessed in http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/otherdocuments/20102309_briefing_note_02_en_ok.pdf  

[11] Ibid.

[12] Frederick Kaufman, The Food Bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it, July 2010, Harper’s Magazine, pp. 32, 24.

[13] Frederick Kaufman, How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis, Foreign Policy, April 27, 2011, accessed in http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/27/how_goldman_sachs_created_the_food_crisis  

[14] Neena Rai, et al, High Food Prices Pose Threat to Poor Nations, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2011.

[15] Global Labour Institute, Food Crisis—Financializing Food: Deregulation, Commodity Markets and the Rising Cost of Food, Geneva, June 7, 2008, accessed in http://www.globallabour.info/en/2008/07/financializing_food_deregulati.html  

[16] Ibid.

[17] See F. William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, 2007, Montreal, Global Research Publishers, pp.123-151 for a more detailed analysis of the fraud of the Green Revolution and its so-called “wonder wheat“ from Norman Borlaug, himself a product of the Rockefeller research organization.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Current Biography, 1967, Wassily Leontief; and Ray Goldberg.

[21] Ray Goldberg, The Evolution of Agribusiness, Harvard Business School Executive Education Faculty Interviews: www.exed.hbs.edu/faculty/rgoldberg.html. W. Leontief, Studies in the Structure of the American Economy, 1953. International Science Press Inc., White Plains, New York. In its 1956 Annual Report, the Ford Foundation noted the following grant: ‘Harvard Economic Research Project:’ In addition to these over-all programs, a grant of $240,000 was made to support the activities of the Harvard Economic Research Project over a six-year period. This center, under the direction of Professor Wassily Leontief, was engaged in a series of quantitative studies of the structure of the American economy, focusing mainly on inter-industry relationships and the interconnections between industry and other sectors of the economy. Equal support was contributed by the Rockefeller Foundation. See also Ray Goldberg, The Genetic Revolution: Transforming our Industry, Its Institutions, and Its Functions, an address to The International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA). Chicago, June 26, 2000. Goldberg founded and headed the IAMA as well as holding seats on the boards of agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland, Smithfield Foods and DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred. He practiced what he preached.

[22] F. William Engdahl, op. cit.

[23] Carl Mortished, We’re on a green road to hell, The London Times, April 10, 2010.

[24] F.O. Lichts, Industry Statistics: 2010 World Fuel Ethanol Production, Renewable Fuels Association, accessed in http://www.ethanolrfa.org/pages/statistics#E.

[25] IEEP Study, The Role of Bioenergy in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans: A First Identification of Issues and Uncertainties, January 31, 2011, accessed in http://www.ieep.eu/topics/climate-change-and-energy/energy/bioenergy/.

[26] IEEP Press Release, New Report Concludes that Indirect Impacts of EU Biofuel Policy will Create Major Environmental Pressure, November 8, 2010.

[27] P. Gosselin, German Ethanol Requirement Turns Into A Debacle, March 4, 2011, accessed in www.notrickszone.com/2011/03/04/German-Ethanol-Requirement-Turns-Into-A-Debacle.

[28] Gijs B. Graafland, Effects of low sunspot levels on evaporation…, May 9, 2011, private email to the author.

[29] Jerome R. Corsi, New Ice Age to begin in 2014–Russian scientist to alarmists: ‘Sun heats Earth!’, May 17, 2010, WorldNetDaily.

[30] Solar Science Staff Writers, Major Drop In Solar Activity Predicted, June 15, 2011, Boulder Colorado, accessed in http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Major_Drop_In_Solar_Activity_Predicted_999.html  

Giornalismo come arma nella guerra di Libia

July 3rd, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

La verità è stata capovolta in Libia. La NATO e il governo libico stanno dicendo cose contraddittorie. La NATO afferma che il regime libico cadrà nel giro di pochi giorni, mentre il governo libico afferma che i combattimenti a Misurata si concluderanno in circa due settimane.

Durante la notte il rumore dei jet della NATO che sorvolano Tripoli può essere ascoltato nelle città costiere del Mediterraneo. Tripoli non è stata bombardata da alcuni giorni, ma i i sorvoli sono stati numerosi. L’Alleanza Atlantica sceglie deliberatamente la notte come mezzo per disturbare il sonno dei residenti, nel tentativo di diffondere la paura. I bambini piccoli in Libia hanno perso parecchio sonno durante questa guerra. Questa è parte della guerra psicologica. Ha lo scopo di spezzare lo spirito della Libia. Tutto ciò si aggiunge alle gravi ferite inflitte alla Libia, con falsità e sedizione.

Nello stesso contesto, la guerra mediatica contro la Libia è continuata. L’Hotel Rixos Al Nasr nella capitale libica di Tripoli, dove si trova la maggior parte della stampa internazionale, è un nido di menzogne e di deformazione, in cui i giornalisti stranieri distorcono la realtà, mistificano i fatti e pubblicano articoli inesatti per giustificare la guerra della NATO contro la Libia. Ogni relazione e dispaccio di agenzia viene inviato dalla Libia, dai reporter internazionali, deve essere attentamente controllo incrociato e analizzato. I giornalisti stranieri hanno messo parole in bocca ai libici e sono volontariamente ciechi. Hanno ignorato i civili morti in Libia, i crimini di guerra perpetrati chiaramente contro il popolo libico, ed i danni alle infrastrutture civili, dagli hotel agli ospedali e alle banchine.

Un gruppo di giovani libici ha spiegato, in una conversazione privata, che quando si parla con i giornalisti dovrebbero intervistare a due a due. Uno dovrebbe porre la domanda seguito immediatamente dall’altro. Nel processo, la risposta alla prima domanda, verrebbe utilizzata come risposta per la seconda. Negli ospedali libici i report esteri cercano di non riprendere le immagini dei feriti e dei moribondi. Vanno negli ospedali solo per dipingersi un’immagine di imparzialità, ma praticamente non rapportano sui nulla e ignorano quasi tutto ciò che faccia notizia. Si rifiutano di raccontare l’altro lato della storia. Sfacciatamente di fronte a civili gravemente feriti, il tipo di domande che molti giornalisti stranieri pongono a medici, infermieri e personale ospedaliero è se hanno curato personale militare e della sicurezza negli ospedali.

La CNN ha anche pubblicato un rapporto da Misurata di Sara Sidner, che mostra la sodomizzazione di una donna con un manico di scopa, che è stato compiuto dai militari libici (che attribuisce alle truppe di Gheddafi, come strumento di demonizzazione). In realtà il video è stato un caso nazionale e da prima del conflitto. In origine si è svolto a Tripoli e l’uomo ha anche un accento di Tripoli. Questo è il tipo di invenzioni che i media mainstream portano avanti per sostenere la guerra e l’intervento militare.

Ora ci sono indagini in corso per dimostrare che l’uranio impoverito è stato usato contro libici. L’uso di uranio impoverito è un crimine di guerra assoluto. Non è solo un attacco al presente, ma lascia anche una traccia radioattiva che attacca i bambini non ancora nati di domani. Le generazioni future saranno ferite da queste armi. Queste future generazioni sono innocenti. L’uso di uranio impoverito è come se gli Stati Uniti avessero lasciato delle armi nucleari in Germania o in Giappone, durante la seconda guerra mondiale, e lasciando che i timer le facessero esplodere nel 2011. Questo è un tema importante e degno di nota in Libia, e tutti i giornalisti stranieri ne hanno sentito parlare, ma quanti ne hanno effettivamente parlato?

La Ionis, una nave di Bengasi che è attraccato a Tripoli il 26 giugno 2011, trasportava oltre 100 persone che volevano lasciare Bengasi e ricongiungersi con le loro famiglie a Tripoli. I reporter stranieri erano lì in massa, giunti da tutto il mondo. CNN, RT e Reuters erano tra loro. Tra i giornalisti stranieri c’erano molti che non avevano alcun indizio circa la situazione in Libia, e stavano lavorando sulla base della disinformazione sostenuta dai loro rispettivi network e paesi. Ad una discussione informale, quando questi giornalisti sono sfidati sulla base delle loro valutazioni, non riuscono a rispondere e sembrano ridicoli. Un giornalista occidentale ha detto che le defezioni governative a Tripoli sono una valanga, ma quando viene sfidato da un collega a spiegare, ha potuto solo citare la cosiddetta defezione di un atleta libico.

L’arrivo della nave passeggeri è stato significativa, perché è un sintomo che la partizione politica della Libia è in corso. Quando le famiglie e gli individui sono trasportati in diverse parti della Libia, c’è l’indicazione che una sorta di linea di demarcazione sarà tracciata in modo temporaneo o permanente.

La Chiesa cattolica romana in Libia è stato distrutta e ferita. La posizione di padre Giovanni Martinelli, vescovo di Tripoli, è in contraddizione con quella degli Stati Uniti e della NATO. Il contatto con le chiese cattolica e le comunità a Bengasi e dintorni è stato perso. Mons. Martinelli ha anche perso dei cari amici nella guerra, che non avevano niente a che fare con qualsiasi sorta di combattimento o ostilità. Quali giornalisti e agenzie di stampa stranieri ha parlato di ciò?

I giornalisti hanno la responsabilità di dire la verità e segnalare tutte le notizie. Alcuni lo fanno, ma le loro storie o sono modificate o non vengono mai pubblicate o trasmesse. Altri non dicono nulla e invece inventano storie. E’ ora responsabilità del pubblico leggere i report che escono dalla Libia da tutti le parti cum grano salis. La diversità delle notizie è solo un inizio.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya è un ricercatore associato del Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). Attualmente è in Libia come osservatore internazionale e membro di un gruppo internazionale di giornalisti e scrittori provenienti da Europa, Nord America e il Medio Oriente.
Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio.

OTAN usa uranio empobrecido en ataques a Libia

July 3rd, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

El Centro de Investigación sobre Globalización (CIG), ha denunciado que las bombas y los misiles que la Organización del Atlántico Norte (OTAN) utiliza en los ataques en Libia, contienen uranio empobrecido. 

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, especialista en temas de Medio Oriente y Asia Central e investigador asociado en el centro del CIG, ha afirmado este martes a Press TV que se está llevando a cabo varias misiones internacionales en Libia para recoger pruebas sobre los crímenes de guerra de la OTAN, incluyendo el uso de uranio empobrecido. 

Sus declaraciones se han producido semanas después de que la organización británica “Stop the War Coalition”, en un informe publicado a finales del marzo, revelara que decenas de bombas y misiles de crucero lanzados, en las primeras 24 horas de la guerra en Libia, por EE.UU., Gran Bretaña y Francia contienen uranio empobrecido. 

El uso de municiones de uranio empobrecido causa problemas de salud a largo plazo, tales como daño renal, cáncer, trastornos de la piel y defectos genéticos. 

Nazemroaya, quien se encuentra en la capital libia de Trípoli, ha indicado que la OTAN también ha violado las leyes internacionales por realizar “ataques contra estructuras civiles, hospitales, casas de civiles y hoteles” en varias partes de Libia. 

Mientras tanto, las fuerzas occidentales alegan que la operación en Libia tiene el objetivo de proteger a los civiles. 

Sin embargo, decenas de civiles han muerto en Libia por las ofensivas de las tropas extranjeras en el país del norte de África. 

Las fuerzas libias también han matado a miles de civiles desde que comenzó a mediados de febrero, una revuelta popular contra el libio, Muamar Gadafi.

France has become the first country openly to admit it has supplied the Libyan rebels with weapons – a measure banned by the UN Security Council. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has labeled the move as a major violation of the UN resolution.

“We have asked our French colleagues if the statement about weapon supply from France to the Libyan rebels is true,” Lavrov said. “We are waiting for the answer. If that is proved to be true, that would be a major violation of the UN resolution 1970.”

The move was also condemned by the African Union, while China indirectly objected to it.

A French military spokesman, Colonel Thierry Burkhard, said the arms, including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, as well as munitions, were parachuted in to besieged rebels.

According to the official, the deliveries took place in early June in the western Nafusa Mountains… AP reported on Wednesday.

Chairman of the African Union Jean Ping has condemned the move in an interview with BBC, saying it threatens to put the entire region at risk.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei indirectly opposed France’s actions on Thursday, saying that countries should avoid actions that go beyond UN Security Council directives.

Spokesman for the rebels Mahmoud Jibrilm who is now in Austria, said more weapons are needed to fight against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He also said the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council needs large amounts of money from foreign sponsors to fund its programs for civilians.

Meanwhile the UK on Thursday said that it is supplying body armor to the rebels. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK was offering 5,000 sets of body armor, 6,650 police uniforms, 5,000 high-visibility vests and communication tools to Benghazi. The equipment is meant for the rebel police.

­“Armed rebels are not civilians, which the UN wants to protect”

France has been among the main powers behind the NATO-led air campaign, officially aimed at protecting civilians from assaults by Gaddafi’s forces. However, many view a change of regime in Libya as the main reason of the alliance’s involvement in the country.

The Libyan National Transitional Council last week also received its first tranche of financial help from the international community to the amount $100 million, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on Wednesday. The rebels are receiving funds from several nations including the US, the UK, Italy and France.

The UN Security Council resolution 1970, which was adopted on February 26, imposed an arms embargo on the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, preventing weapons from being supplied to anyone in Libya. The UN Security Council resolution 1973, which established a no-fly zone over Libya, allowed NATO countries “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”

As the unrest has been continuing in Libya since mid-February, the fighting between the forces of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the rebels, backed by the NATO forces, seems to have reached a stalemate.

France’s admission to arming rebels undermines the whole reasoning behind the bombing campaign, says John Laughland, the director for the Institute of Democracy and Co-operation in Paris.

“The argument, as we know, war predicated on the accusation that Libyan government was attacking civilians. The admission that France war arming the rebels is very obviously an admission that what’s going on in Libya is a fight between the government and armed rebels, and armed rebels are not civilians. So any attack on the armed rebels in Libya is therefore not necessarily a war crime. In other words this news is not only incompatible with the case that’s being made for the war in Libya, it completely contradicts it,” he told RT.

­George Kenney, a former US diplomat, said that France had also apparently shipped a couple of light tanks to the rebels, and that this would only lead to more problems later.

“That was very foolish on the part of France. We do not know who these rebels are. We do not know what they are going to do with these weapons. And I would suspect that some significant percentage of the weapons will find their way into the hands of terrorists and will just become another problem for us to have to deal with later on.”

Is Russia Today a sign of things to come in the world media order?

A global, digital media cuts both ways or as they say ‘what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander’. The arrival of The Real News Network, Democracy Now! and grtv for example demonstrates what can be done, even on a shoestring budget. But to get onto the global media circuit still requires big bucks in spite of all the talk about ‘convergence’ and ‘citizen journalism’.

Ironically, it’s been left to the Russians to offer to Western audiences a genuine if contradictory alternative to our state/corporate media’s take on events. But that’s as it should be, it is after all the Russian state’s view, views that just happen to coincide in some respects with progressives here in the West, even if for different reasons.

On the 29 June I watched an in-depth interview with Mark Serwotka general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) whose members took part in a strike against proposed government pension/job cuts but it wasn’t on British TV, it was on Russia Today.

It’s not often that we get to view stories on broadcast TV that present progressive viewpoints on events. To see such stories almost every day took some getting used to for someone raised on a diet of the Western media, notwithstanding all the propaganda about it being ‘free’ and ‘objective’. And I’m not alone as according to the following (out-of-date) figures:

In January 2008, the total number of views for RT videos on YouTube was over 3 million, and RT was sixth in YouTube’s Most Viewed Partners rating, behind CBS, BBC World, Al Jazeera English, France 24 and Press TV. — Wikipedia

Russia Today

Russia Today (RT) is the Russian state-sponsored digital TV news channel (it also has a Spanish channel). Financed by the Russian state Duma (parliament) to the tune of some $60 million a year and targeting a very specific sector of Western society, to a leftie RT reveals itself as somewhat schizophrenic (and maybe not just to lefties).

Thus on the one hand it can interview well-known left-wingers like Noam Chomsky, William Blum, F. William Engdahl, or Michel Chossudovsky and on the other, some rightwinger from the fringe UK Independence Party going on about immigration or the welcome demise of the EU. Or, it will be on fighting ‘international terrorism’ and Russia’s latest obsession, ‘the war on drugs’, focusing understandably so on the narco-state of Afghanistan from whence most of the heroin in Russia is coming.

The ‘schizophrenia’ that I mentioned earlier may only be apparent to a leftie but it makes sense when you view RT’s programming as a projection of the Russian state’s foreign policy concerns, especially its own security.

Where it is weakest is of course its reporting on Russia itself but I suspect that it’s a little more outspoken than any Russian domestic channel on ‘sensitive’ issues. Broadly, it takes a pro-capitalist economic and political position, but again RT has pro-socialist viewpoints represented in panel discussions, something unheard of on the BBC for example.

And increasingly, there seems to be an interesting trend in its domestic coverage that looks back to the achievements of the Soviet Union as well as the crimes of Stalin. I think this is a positive move as it means that a deeper and more complex analysis of the legacy of the Soviet Union is emerging. After all, you can’t just dismiss seventy-five years of the USSR as if it didn’t exist and that it didn’t make positive contributions.

Of course RT functions primarily as a PR channel for what Russia has to offer (some of which is actually interesting given how little we actually know about Russia and its peoples after decades of Cold War propaganda) as well as projecting Russian foreign policy.

RT denies this but it would be ludicrous to assume that the Russian parliament would spend $60 million a year and not have the programming reflect the interests of the Russian state. It’s why there is such a strong emphasis on the expansion of NATO and recalling the memories of the ‘Great Patriotic War’.

After being bankrupted and broken up by the Empire, the last thing the former Soviet Union needs is another war. And after all Russia, whatever else it is, it is not an imperialist state.

This is why RT features so many anti-war activists, writers and journalists in its programming and explains RT’s apparent programming schizophrenia.

Having borne the brunt of WWII and losing 27 million people, it’s no surprise that RT takes an anti-war stand. And with the Cold War still alive and well and living in Washington DC and London, Russia’s relationship with its old nemesis presents the same set of contradictions as those revealed on RT. This is especially true given the central role that NATO plays in the Empire’s game plan.

Back when the USSR folded and along with it the Warsaw Pact, it was agreed that NATO would follow suit. But in the chaos that resulted from the implosion of the Soviet Union, getting rid of NATO as agreed, conveniently got lost in the shuffle.

So, far from a peaceful world following the end of the Cold War, with no counter-balance to NATO, things have gone from bad to worse and in the process revealed the not unsurprising fact that NATO from its inception (the Warsaw Pact was created as a counter-balance to NATO) was and remains an instrument of Imperial power.

But Russia, once one of the world’s two superpowers, re-enters the fray at a distinct disadvantage, economically and militarily, a position borne out by its vacillation over the illegal NATO invasion of Libya: which side to back? Well the winning one of course. Had it a principled position, it would have vetoed the UNSEC vote. Instead, it took what I can only view as an opportunist position, though what it hoped to gain from it, is anybody’s guess (one source suggests that favours were promised to Russia in return for abstaining. If so, a serious miscalculation).

“No longer is NATO pushing eastward, threatening a now compliant Russia, concerned with maintaining its hegemony in its �near abroad�, but posing no threat to Western Europe.” — ‘Russia, Egypt, Libya: A kind-of-silver lining’, by Eric Walberg

Well maybe, but with Russia ringed on all sides by USNATO bases, things don’t look all that different than they were back in the days of the Cold War, so it’s still a bit of a mystery to me as to why both China and Russia abstained. But they’ve clearly both learned a lesson as they do not intend that the same fate befall Syria at least not via the UN Security Council.

Presstv
I confess I’m not really up to speed with Presstv as it’s not as easily available to me as RT but methinks it comes out of the same bag as al Jazeera/RT, targeting Western audiences but with the Iranian state’s position on events. Which is fine by me. Let the viewer be the judge.[2]

Conclusion
It’s apparent that as never before a global class war is being directed and merchandised by the Western media. The media is now an indispensable weapon in the Empire’s fearsome arsenal. Global in scope, it determines not only the nature of the ‘news’ but what it considers to be ‘news’ in the first place. All alternative views disappear under tsunami of Western suppositions and inventions.

But even as I try and finish off this essay, I’m pondering the ‘news’ story that surfaced yesterday (1/7/11) alleging that Col Gaddafi said

“[that] Libya would target European “homes, offices, families” unless Nato stopped its campaign.” — ‘Libya: Muammar Gaddafi threatens Europe‘, BBC 1 July 2011

This struck me as odd and not a little convenient, so I dug a little deeper and came up with the original Reuters story:

“TRIPOLI, July 1 (Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi delivered an address by telephone to thousands of supporters who gathered in Tripoli’s Green Square on Friday, vowing to stay on and warning the NATO-led alliance to stop its air war or face “catastrophe.”

“”We advise you to retreat before you face a catastrophe,” Gaddafi told the crowd of supporters who waved green flags and posters of the Libyan leader, whose soldiers are fighting a war against NATO-backed rebels seeking his overthrow.” — ‘Defiant Gaddafi warns NATO of “catastrophe“, Reuters, 1 July 2011

Then this story appeared on Information Clearing House titled ‘Qaddafi Did NOT Threaten Attacks on Europe‘. As we have seen many times before, it’s all down as to how it’s translated:

“Gaddafi is challenging Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama to switch on their TV and watch the crowd. He is saying that they will find out that they are delusional because they entered a war which they will never win, he also says if you continue targeting our houses we can do the same because Europe is not far away but he said lets not do this.” (ibid)

Predictably, the bent story now embraces the planet, justifying the rationale for ‘taking out mad dog Gaddafi’. A perfect example of how the state/corporate media stranglehold on reality functions. Even RT has fallen for the propaganda repeating verbatim the allegations made in the BBC piece. By the time (if ever) the misrepresentation is addressed, it will be too late. A replay of Saddam’s none existent WMD.

Note

1. See for example: ‘Russia Today Starts To Worry American Media‘, Disinfo.com

2. ‘Presenter Nick Ferrari quits Iran Press TV over �bias� after election‘, July 1, 2009, Times Online. The piece opens as follows:

“It is called Press TV, is funded by the Iranian regime, and opponents say that from its nondescript offices off Hanger Lane in northwest London the 24-hour news station is beaming pro-Tehran propaganda into homes across Britain.”

Of course the fact that the Empire funds dozens of both radio and video propaganda channels into countries around the planet doesn’t figure in the Times’ take on Presstv. This is especially true of the BBC’s World Service that until recently had been funded by the British Foreign Office and which orchestrates a massive and ongoing propaganda campaign against the Tehran government.

Western media, especially America’s, mostly ignore multiple Obama wars (including against Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia), focusing mainly on promoting terror bombing Libya, slaughtering civilians to save them.

Ongoing since March 19, killing and destruction continue daily. NATO’s second in command, US Admiral Samuel Locklear, told Congress that Washington wants Gaddafi assassinated. Earlier, one of his sons and three grandchildren were murdered, as well as around 40 Libyan imans, attending a peace conference to end the carnage. Ruthlessly, Obama, the peace candidate, wants it continued, claiming lawless executive privilege to do it.

On the Progressive Radio News Hour, live Tripoli reports discussed hospitals, schools, residential homes, and other non-military targets bombed, civilians killed, anti-NATO anger, and growing popular Gaddafi support, including a million Libyans rallying in Tripoli on his behalf.

On air, Cynthia McKinney said she saw it all, including fishermen killed at sea, food and medicine imports blocked, evidence that mercenary rebels murdered, tortured, harassed and raped dark-skinned residents like herself, and daily terror bombings – war crimes by any standard to conquer, colonize and plunder Libya for profit and greater regional control.

Like McKinney and other Progressive Radio guests, Tripoli-based Western journalists also witness NATO crimes. Nonetheless, their reports airbrush them, providing a sanitized version of war, detached from reality they conceal, no matter the daily horror enough to give anyone nightmares and second thoughts about who’s right and wrong in this conflict.

Is there any doubt? Does it take keen perceptiveness to know? Can human misery be blocked in turning out daily copy? Apparently so, ignoring professional standards, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics Preamble, stating:

“….public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.”

In addition, the Radio-Television News Directors Association Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct stresses public trust, credibility, accuracy, truth, “reporting anything known to be false,” avoiding bias, fairness, integrity, independence, accountability, and meeting their “responsibility to the profession of electronic journalism.”

Clearly major media reporting fails on all counts, serving power at the expense of principle and honor, performing like lapdogs, not providers of real news, information and analysis. Those trying it, in fact, are fired, media bosses intolerant of anything in print or on air contrary to mainstream consensus, supporting wealth and privilege, not truth, integrity and honor.

As a result, America’s media promote war, including bloodlust killing and destruction, prettifying it to seem just, no matter how much lying, distortion, and deceit it takes to do it. It comes with the territory.

For example, Kareem Fahim’s June 30 New York Times article headlined, “Tripoli Refugees Stream Into Libya’s Mountains,” saying:

Ignoring reality, he claims “people (are) fleeing Tripoli,” hundreds leaving to escape “the dreaded People’s Guard carr(ying) long lists of wanted men….Their numbers – more than a hundred families on a recent day alone – suggest a quickening exodus from the capital.” His source – mercenary rebels providing falsified information, not verified accounts from independent sources.

Instead, Fahim quoted a man named Ali Mohammed Rahaybi, saying “he saw signs of resistance to (Gaddafi’s) rule everywhere: in graffiti on schools, at occasional demonstrations, and in the flags drawn on neighborhood walls.”

Apparently he didn’t notice one million pro-Gaddafi Libyans, rallying in Tripoli for him. No Times report covered, or even mentioned, what was too obvious to miss. Instead, Fahim, other Times writers, and all major media ones provide managed news propaganda, violating their profession’s ethical code that’s required to keep their jobs.

A same day Times editorial headlined, “The Libya Campaign,” saying:

“Four months into the NATO air campaign, (Gaddafi’s still) protected by loyalists and mercenaries.” “Loyalists?:” yes, a growing majority of Libyans. “Mercenaries?:” in fact, those there are Western recruited cutthroats, armed, trained, funded and directed to ravage, not liberate, Libya for NATO.

Nonetheless, the editorial claims if Gaddafi “ha(s) his way, thousands more Libyans will die. The credibility of NATO would also be severely damaged. (Gaddafi), who has a long history of sponsoring international terrorism, is not one to let bygones be bygones.”

In fact, most Libyans support him, more than ever now against NATO terror bombings, Times hyperbole notwithstanding. Moreover, no humanitarian crisis or mass slaughter happened until America, Britain, France, and other co-conspirators showed up, what no Times editorial or report explains.

This one says “signs of revolt” are evident – against NATO, not Gaddafi. Nonetheless, Times editors say “Washington and NATO must stand firmly with the rebels and reject any solution that does not involve the swift ouster of (Gaddafi) and real freedom for Libyans.”

Omitted was saying only Libyans, (not Washington, NATO, or Times editors), may decide who rules their country. For sure, they abhor the secretive, Western controlled Interim Transitional National Council and their cutthroat mercenary killers, but don’t expect America’s “newspaper of record” to explain.

Nor does Al Jazeera (AJE), waging war on Gaddafi with falsified reports like a June 29 one headlined, “Libya: War and rape,” suggesting:

Gaddafi’s forces “used rape as a weapon.” Another on June 9 headlined, “Analysis: “Gaddafi’s ‘rape weapon,’ ” saying:

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo “said that he has evidence that (Gaddafi) ordered his soldiers to use rape as a weapon of war.” He lied, but AJE didn’t check and report accurately.

In March, AJE claimed Gaddafi supplied his forces with Viagra, saying it was found in their pockets in burned out tanks. The report surfaced in an interview with Suleiman Refadi, a Libyan doctor who claimed, “I have seen Viagra (and) condoms” as part of Gaddafi’s sexual violence campaign.

In fact, Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed him earlier, discounting his claims for lacking supportive evidence, including victims and/or witnesses. Moreover, HRW’s Liesel Gerntholtz confirmed that, “We have not been able to find evidence.”

In April, however, Washington’s UN ambassador Susan Rice told Security Council members in a closed door meeting the same thing, saying it’s to encourage mass rape with no corroborating evidence whatever to prove it. 

She lied, based on assessments from other human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (AI), saying its investigation found no evidence that Gaddafi forces committed rapes. 

Moreover, AI learned that rebel forces knowingly made bogus claims based on falsified evidence, showing Rice ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo, and Hillary Clinton lied, saying, “Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called ‘virginity tests’ have taken place in countries throughout the region,” including in Libya.

AI’s Donatella Rovera disputed allegations, saying, “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” In fact, the entire story was fabricated.

AI also found no evidence that Gaddafi is using African mercenaries against rebels, Rovera saying, “The politicians (keep) talking about mercenaries, which inflamed public opinion and the myth has continued” about sub-Saharan Africans in Libya to work, not fight.

Last March, however, Al Jazeera reported the mercenary hoax, citing rebel leader lies instead of investigating and presenting corroborated facts, what many of its accounts fail to do, supporting NATO’s imperial war.

Overall AJE stops short of being anti-imperialist, notably in its pro-Western Libya and Syria reporting, destroying its residual goodwill in the process. Moreover, it downplayed anti-government Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state demonstrations and/or uprisings, notably in Bahrain with suggestions they’re linked to Iran.

On March 20, Financial Times writers Roula Khalaf and Abeer Allam headlined, “Al-Jazeera’s backing is key for coalition,” saying:

AJE’s “owners, the Qatari royal family (hosting America’s CENTCOM Doha forward headquarters), are among those backing” NATO’s Libya war. So does the Saudi monarchy and its media mouthpiece Al-Arabiya, airing anti-Gaddafi propaganda like AJE, despite Arab street opposition, exposing both operations as pro-Western tools, not reliable news, information and analysis.

Professor As’ad AbuKhalil agrees, recently saying AJE’s “sinister” regional role got “worse, much worse. Yesterday, I was seething all day because it could not break from its annoying, obsessive non-stop (Libya) coverage to report the Israeli murder of Palestinian children.” Instead it focused on Western bombing “successes.”

“It seems that (AJE) now operates according to the Western standards by which Israeli victims are more precious than Palestinian” or Libyan ones, killed by IDF, Pentagon, and NATO terrorism.

As a result, AJE’s pro-Western stance destroys whatever past credibility it had, an awareness growing numbers regionally and elsewhere understand and tune out.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

No Solution to the Global Credit Crisis

July 3rd, 2011 by Bob Chapman

World markets and especially US markets are in a state of uneasiness and it is only a matter of time before they degenerate further. The real question is will everything break loose between now and the end of the year? The answer in part is yes, and it is currently in process.

“The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets,” along with elitist insiders normally have the ability to make the stock and bond markets do what they want them to. That is, at least on a short-term basis. We believe the market is being deliberately taken down by them in order to impress upon politicians that if they do not extend the short-term cash debt limit that the market will fall even further and that in turn will reduce their ability to get reelected. If you do not think that is possible then you have no idea what is going on. At the present time with about a month to the August 2nd deadline the two political parties are nowhere near an agreement. As we draw closer to the deadline investors will become more and more concerned and the market will trend lower.

These problems that we predicted for the second half of the year are all coming together like a bad dream. This could very well be a reply of 2008, but for a different set of reasons. Obviously Wall Street knows something others do not know as they resort to large layoffs.

For months oil prices have tended higher. The official CPI is 3.6% when in reality it is well over 10%. Unemployment officially under U3 is 9.1%, when in reality it is 22.6%.

No solution has been found for Greece’s problems, even though an agreement has been made with lenders, and as an extension of that, we see euro, euro zone and European Union problems that probably are unsolvable.

Debt ratings for sovereign nations are falling like ten-pins, which we look at very skeptically. Why were not these ratings reduced by rating agencies some time ago? We see the rating agencies, as controlled by Wall Street, and we see no coincidence that these ratings are all being lowered almost simultaneously. We think these events are being timed to force debtor European nations to heel to European bankers’ demands. By example, it is obviously the intention of Europe’s Black Nobility, which controls such banking, to rape Greece financially and enter it into financial bondage for years to come and they intend as well to render the other five hopeless EU members into the same position.

Little has been done to repair the damage done by the credit crisis, which began in 2008. The financial sector and government has temporarily been kept from failure, but little else has been done. The situations in Europe and the UK are no better. Failure of a debt extension and or default by Greece could lead to a collapse of the world financial system, as we know it. The long-term looting by the Fed, the Bank of England, and many others, day-by-day is being exposed to the public by talk radio and the Internet and the elitists are powerless to stop it. We’d say it won’t be long before the whole world knows what they have been up too for a long time. The exposure of these facts is affecting public confidence and many are saying, are we next? The entire financial sectors in the US, UK and Europe are now more vulnerable than ever and by the looks of recent economic reports things are looking worse. That is why Greece or debt extension is so important. Their failure could trigger panic. The Democrats in the US House are playing chicken and if a deal is not reached there will be no extension.  Further to this China is slowing down and has major inflation problems and a real estate bubble and Japan has been devastated.

As we predicted the Feds will spend $900 billion in their QE2 program. It has injected $2.3 trillion into the financial system September of 2008. The federal government has added $1.7 trillion for a total of $4 trillion and no recovery has appeared. Over the next year $112 billion of the Fed’s government bond holdings will mature and they will use those funds to roll Treasury paper.
            The Fed as well holds $914 billion in mortgage backed debt known as toxic waste, and $118 billion of debentures from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They will maintain these levels until September. In July and August plans will be put in place to again increase money and credit in order to assist in the Treasury and agency markets and replace funds, some $850 billion that will not be forthcoming from Congress.

Real unemployment is 22.6%. That should move up to 22.8% to 23% by the end of the year.

The two political parties have been meeting for two months and have accomplished very little regarding the cash debt extension. If no compromise is reached the US credit rating will probably be lowered and interest rates will rise. Zero interest rates are still currently in place. It is not a pretty picture. As we predicted in May 2010, the second half of 2011 is going to fraught with problems.

Wall Street sees what we see, but they are not going to tell you what we will tell you. Their direction and thought process is what you have to watch. Why would the securities and banking business be planning big layoffs and payroll cutbacks? They obviously believe markets are headed lower and they see plenty of problems ahead. Wall Street is pessimistic and they should be because they see what we see. Except for gold and silver shares get out of the market as fast as you possibly can.

Food prices will probably double again over the year and OPEC says they will not raise oil production. That means over the next year oil should trade between $85 and $120 a barrel, barring any unusual events. This means based on QE2 inflation should reach 25% to 30% next year.

In spite of financial problems in the UK and Europe the dollar is still unable to gain against other currencies in any meaningful way. That is understandable, considering a possible downgrade of US debt and a recent statement by Moody’s to downgrade the debt of Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America.  As of late bank stocks have been hit hard and that is not a good omen. Bank stocks led the downside in 2008.

The residential real estate market is off 5% year-on-year, as new home sales soften and existing sales go nowhere. We see another 10% to 20% price drop this and next year. Even when prices bottom, how long will it be before there is a recovery, perhaps ten or twenty years? If you didn’t notice consumer confidence is lower now than it was in late 2008.

Even though Greece made a deal their second bailout would probably only last another year. The case for this kind of rescue is very weak. In the final analysis Greece has to go bankrupt along with the other five problem nations. That in turn will kill the euro and the European, UK and US banking systems. Very few people realize how serious this is even professionals.

Complicating matters Moody’s just lowered the outlook for 13 Italian banks, and said 16 others could have downgrades as well. The German banking association said last week they would no longer accept the ratings of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch because their ratings are bogus and are used politically by Wall Street and US banking. Sometime ago China said the same thing. As a result of pressures in Spain and Italy, the ECB is flashing a red alert signal. More trouble is on the way. Needless to say, yields on bonds in problem countries are climbing, as are the costs for credit default swaps. Contagion is spreading and sooner or later it will affect the lender countries as well. These conditions will also lead to a tightening of liquidity.

Greece’s public debt as a percentage of GDP is 143% and Italy isn’t far behind with 119%. As contagion moves forward from Greece higher borrowing costs will prevail as countries like Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal have to rollover their debt, along with contagion comes a change in sentiment, which causes contraction, which could spread worldwide, as liquidity finds its way into gold, silver and commodities.

All nations have to have sustainable growth to produce rising tax revenues to service existing and new debt. That hasn’t and is not happening and with the policies being implemented it won’t happen in the future.  Governments and central banks are only interested in funding and saving corrupt and bankrupt governments, financial sectors and select transnational conglomerates. These selective rescues are accompanied by the drums and dark clouds of war, which are deliberately created to distract the world populace. Who worries about debt solvency when you may be dead tomorrow? Without such a distraction economic and financial problems move to the forefront and that is the last thing the elitists want to happen. The public has to be kept dumb and stupid, otherwise they cannot be bilked out of everything they have worked for in their lifetime. That era is coming to an end, because people are being told the truth about who is doing what to them and why via talk radio, that now spans the globe and via the Internet as well. We are seeing the results of that in Greece today and many more countries will follow, including the US. The people of the world will eventually end this reign of banker tyranny, because they will have been educated and will have discovered the truth. Too big to fail will be cast into the dustbin of history.

The antithesis of central banks and fiat currencies are gold and silver, which have acted in the capacity as the only real money for 6,000 years. This has become even more apparent over the past 11 years. After having exited the stock market in the second week of April 2000, we told subscribers in June 2000 to begin accumulating gold and silver coins, bullion and shares. Since then, vs. nine major currencies, every year gold and silver have appreciated more than 20% annually. During that period the stock market has fallen on average 20% annually. The concentrated central bank selling of gold since 1988 has been staggering, but there were many willing buyers and during that period gold rose from $260 to $1,550 and silver from $3.50 to $50.00. The elitists impeded the upward movement in these metals to keep them from reaching their true value, but they still performed admirably. Over that time period many sovereign nations have been accumulating gold and continue to do so. Inflation began its current rise 11 years ago as the Fed and other central banks were forced to offset the deflationary effects in the fall in the stock market and then the collapse in the real estate markets, bubbles that the fed deliberately created to keep the economy from collapsing. Money and credit creation are the antithesis of deflation. This is how we arrived at where we are today. The surge of QE1 and QE2 and stimulus 1 and 2 have been the latest manifestation of wild liquidity creation, which will soon turn into high gear as quantitative easing 3. The money war is well underway and fiat currencies are losing to gold and silver and that will continue. All the attempts to discredit gold and silver have not deterred some investors from buying these precious metals.

The result is that official above ground inventories have been reduced to the extent that very little is left to impede the upward movement of these metals, especially silver. At the same time demand continues unabated and new supplies of these metals from the earth falters, as large ore bodies become harder and harder to locate and more expensive to mine due to persistent inflation caused by central banks. All the increases in margin requirements in the long run will not deter the upward path of these metals, nor will the use of paper derivatives block the long-term assent of these metals. The recently discovered rules in the Dodd-Frank Bill to reduce leverage on margined transactions will do little to discourage speculators.

Libya: Unending American Hostility

July 3rd, 2011 by William Blum

The American media has done its best to dismiss or ignore Libyan charges that NATO/US missiles have been killing civilians (the people they’re supposedly protecting), at least up until the recent bombing “error” that was too blatant to be covered up. But who in the mainstream media has questioned the NATO/US charges that Libya was targeting and “massacring” Libyan civilians a few months ago, which, we’ve been told, is the reason for the Western powers attacks? Don’t look to Al Jazeera for such questioning. The government of Qatar, which owns the station, has a deep-seated animosity toward Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and was itself a leading purveyor of the Libyan “massacre” stories, as well as playing a military role in the war against Tripoli. Al Jazeera’s reporting on the subject has been so disgraceful I’ve stopped looking at the station.

Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister of France, which has been the leading force behind the attacks on Libya, spoke at the Brookings Institution in Washington on June 7. After his talk he was asked a question from the audience by local activist Ken Meyercord:

“An American observer of events in Libya has commented: ‘The evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.’ That comment was made by Richard Haass, President of our Council on Foreign Relations. If Mr. Haass is right, and he’s a fairly knowledgeable fellow, then what NATO has done in Libya is attack a country that wasn’t threatening anyone; in other words, aggression. Are you at all concerned that as NATO deals more and more death and destruction on the people of Libya that the International Criminal Court may decide that you and your friends in the Naked Aggression Treaty Organization should be prosecuted rather than Mr. Gaddafi?”

Monsieur Juppé then stated, without attribution, somebody’s estimate that 15,000 Libyan civilians had been killed by pro-Gaddafi forces. To which Mr. Meyercord replied: “So where are the 15,000 bodies?” M. Juppé failed to respond to this, although in the tumult caused by the first question, it was not certain that he had heard the second one. (For a counter-view of the Libyan “massacre” stories, see this video.)

It should be noted that, as of June 30, NATO had flown 13,184 air missions (sorties) over Libya, 4,963 of which are described as strike sorties. You can find the latest figures on the Allied Command Operations website.

If any foreign power fired missiles at the United States would Barack Obama regard that as an act of war? If the US firing hundreds of missiles at Libya is not an act of war, as Obama insists (to avoid having to declare war as required by US law), then the deaths resulting from the missile attacks are murder. That’s it. It’s either war or murder. To the extent there’s a difference between the two.

It should be further noted that since Gaddafi came to power in 1969 there has virtually never been a sustained period when the United States has been prepared to treat him and the many positive changes he’s instituted in Libya and Africa with any respect. For a history of this hostility, including the continual lies and scare campaigns, see my Libya chapter in Killing Hope.

America and its perpetual quest for love

Why can’t we “get some of the people in these downtrodden countries to like us instead of hating us.”
– President Dwight D.Eisenhower, in a March,1953 National Security Council Meeting 1

The United States is still wondering, and is no closer to an understanding than Good Ol’ Ike was almost 60 years ago. American leaders still believe what Frances Fitzgerald observed in her study of American history textbooks: “According to these books, the United States had been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history, it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. … the United States always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.” 2

In 2007 I wrote in this report about the US military in Iraq:

I almost feel sorry for them. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, accustomed to thinking of themselves as the best, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing psychologists and anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re totally ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, accustomed to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell.

Here now the Google Cavalry rides up on its silver horse. Through its think tank, Google Ideas (or “think/do tank”), the company paid for 80 former Muslim extremists, neo-Nazis, U.S. gang members and other former radicals to gather in Dublin June 26-28 (“Summit Against Violent Extremism”, or SAVE) to explore how technology can play a role in “de-radicalization” efforts around the globe. Now is that not Can-do ambitious?

The “formers,” as they have been dubbed by Google, will be surrounded by 120 thinkers, activists, philanthropists and business leaders. The goal is to dissect the question of what draws some people, particularly young people, to extremist movements and why some of them leave.

The person in charge of this project is Jared Cohen, who spent four years on the State Department’s Policy Planning staff, and is soon to be an adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), focusing on counter-radicalization, innovation, technology, and statecraft. 3

So … it’s “violent extremism” that’s the big mystery, the target for all these intellectuals to figure out. … Why does violent extremism attract so many young people all over the world? Or, of more importance probably to the State Department and CFR types: Why do violent extremists single out the United States as their target of choice?

Readers of this report do not need to be enlightened as to the latter question. There is simply an abundance of terrible things US foreign policy has done in every corner of the world. As to what attracts young people to violent extremism, consider this: What makes a million young Americans willing to travel to places like Afghanistan and Iraq to risk their life and limbs to kill other young people, who have never done them any harm, and to commit unspeakable atrocities and tortures?

Is this not extreme behavior? Can these young Americans not be called “extremists” or “radicals”? Are they not violent? Do the Google experts understand their behavior? If not, how will they ever understand the foreign Muslim extremists? Are the experts prepared to examine the underlying phenomenon — the deep-seated belief in “American exceptionalism” drilled into every cell and nerve ganglion of American consciousness from pre-kindergarten on? Do the esteemed experts then have to wonder about those who believe in “Muslim exceptionalism”?

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This just in! American leaders do have feelings!

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s criticism of US and NATO forces in his country grows more angry and confrontational with each passing week. Recently, US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry was moved to reply to him: “When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost — in terms of lives and treasure — hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest, and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people … they are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here. … We begin to lose our inspiration to carry on.”

That certainly may apply to many of the soldiers in the field. But oh, if only American military and political leaders could really be so offended and insulted by what’s said about them and their many wars.

Eikenberry — who has served in Afghanistan a total of five years as a senior US Army general and then as ambassador — warned that if Afghan leaders reach the point where they “believe that we are doing more harm than good,” then Americans may “reach a point that we feel our soldiers and civilians are being asked to sacrifice without a just cause,” and “the American people will ask for our forces to come home.”

Well, if Eikenberry is really interested, a June 8 BBC World News America/Harris Poll found that 52% of Americans believe that the United States should move to get its troops out of Afghanistan “now”, with only 35% believing that the troops should stay; while a Pew Research Center poll of mid-June showed 56% of Americans favor an “immediate” pullout.

“America has never sought to occupy any nation in the world,” the ambassador continued. “We are a good people.” 4

How nice. Reminds me of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, after the 1999 78-day bombing of the helpless people of the former Yugoslavia, a war crime largely instigated by herself, when she declared: “The United States is good. We try to do our best everywhere.” 5

Do these grownups really believe what comes out of their mouths? Does Mr. Eikenberry actually think that “America has never sought to occupy any nation in the world”?  Sixty-six years after World War II ended, the United States still has major bases in Germany and Japan; 58 years after the end of the Korean War, tens of thousands of American armed forces continue to be stationed in South Korea; for over a century, the United States has occupied Guantanamo Bay in Cuba against the fervent wishes of the Cuban people. And what other term shall we use to describe the American presence in Iraq for more than eight years? And Afghanistan for almost ten?

George W. Bush had no doubt: The Iraqis are “not happy they’re occupied,” he said. “I wouldn’t be happy if I were occupied either.” 6

However, the current Republican leader in the House, John Boehner appears to be a true believer. “The United States has never proposed establishing a permanent base in Iraq or anywhere else,” he affirmed a few years ago. 7

If 18th century Americans could resent occupation by the British, when many of the Americans were British themselves, then how much easier to understand the resentment of Iraqis and Afghans toward foreign occupiers.

An excerpt from William Blum’s memoir of the 1960s-1970s: West-Bloc Dissident

What our natural enemies didn’t do to us, we naturally did to ourselves, as did many of the other underground newspapers and movement groups in the ’60s: disagreements developed, factions formed, and, eventually, a split that rent the organization hopelessly in two — the left’s traditional circular firing squad.

Putting it in the broadest terms, there were two species of activists in these large dysfunctional families who kept bumping heads, here, there, and everywhere. We can call them the “politicos” and the “yippies” (subspecies: hippies, anarchists).

The politicos placed their faith in organization and in the intellect — a mass movement, “vanguard” political parties, hierarchies and leaders, heavy on meetings, ideology, and tracts, at times doctrinaire sounding, using words and ideas to convince the great middle class, if not the great unwashed. There were theories to justify these tactics, theories based on class analysis, presented with historical annotation to certify their viability; theories that Norman Mailer disparagingly referred to as “the sound-as-brickwork-logic-of-the-next-step in some hard new Left program.”

The yippies looked upon all this with unconcealed impatience, scorn, and unbelief. Said a yippie to a politico back then: your protest is so narrow, your rhetoric so boring, your ideological power plays so old fashioned …

Let’s listen to Jerry Rubin, certainly the yippies’ most articulate spokesperson:

The long-haired beast, smoking pot, evading the draft, and stopping traffic during demonstrations is a hell of a more a threat to the system than the so-called “politicos” with their leaflets of support for the Vietcong and the coming working class revolution. Politics is how you live your life, not whom you vote for or whom you support.

The most important political conflict in the United States for Rubin was not of classes, but “the generational conflict”. “The respectable middle-class debates LBJ while we try to pull down his pants.”

Is [American society] interested in reform, or is it just interested in eliminating nuisance? What’s needed is a new generation of nuisances. A new generation of people who are freaky, crazy, irrational, sexy, angry, irreligious, childish, and mad … people who burn draft cards, people who burn dollar bills, people who burn MA and doctoral degrees, people who say: “To hell with your goals”, people who proudly carry Vietcong flags, people who re-define reality, who re-define the norm, people who see property as theft, people who say “fuck” on television, people who break with the status-role-title-consumer game, people who have nothing material to lose but their bodies … What the socialists like the SWP and the Communist Party, with their conversions of Marxism into a natural science, fail to understand is that language does not radicalize people — what changes people is the emotional involvement of action.

Hardly anyone, of course, fit precisely and solely into either of these classifications, including Jerry Rubin. Much of the yippie “party line” was to be taken metaphorically, unless one’s alienation had reached the level of an alien, while most politicos were independent of any political party.

Ray Mungo

Ray Mungo, one of the founders of Liberation News Service, later wrote of LNS:

It is impossible for me to describe our “ideology,” for we simply didn’t have one; we never subscribed to a code of conduct or a clearly conceptualized Ideal Society … And it was the introduction of formal ideology into the group which eventually destroyed it, or more properly split it into bitterly warring camps.

When Mungo speaks of “formal ideology”, he’s referring to the “politicos” who joined LNS after its inception. These people, whom he refers to as “the Vulgar Marxists”, as opposed to his own “anarchist” camp …

believed fervently in “the revolution”, and were working toward it — a revolution based on Marx and Lenin and Cuba and SDS and “the struggle”; and people were supported only on the basis of what they were worth to the revolution; and most of the things in life which were purely enjoyable were bourgeois comforts irrelevant to the news service, although not absolutely barred. … Their method of running the news service was the Meeting and the Vote, ours was Magic. We lived on Magic, and still do, and I have to say it beats anything systematic.”

Mungo would have one believe that ideology is a “thing” introduced from the “outside”, like tuberculosis, that is best to avoid. I would argue, however, that “ideology” is nothing less than a system of ideas in one’s head, whether consciously organized or not, that attempts to answer the questions: Why is the world the way it is? Why is society the way it is? Why are people the way they are? And what can be done to change any of this? To say you have no ideology comes dangerously close to saying that you have no opinions on — and perhaps no interest in — such questions. Ray Mungo, I believe, was overreacting to people whom he saw as too systematic and who didn’t appreciate his “Magic”.

Just as I knew instinctively that I wasn’t a Quaker or a pacifist, I knew I wasn’t a yippie, hippie or anarchist, which didn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy and even take part in some of their antics. Jerry Rubin was mistaken in my case, as in many others — language, spoken and print, had played a major role in my radicalization; equally indispensable had been the sad state of the world, but it was language which had illuminated and brought home to me the sad state of the world and proffered explanations for why it was the way it was.

During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the first few months of 1776, used language suffused with both reason and emotion to argue powerfully the case for independence, to strike convincingly at one of the greatest obstacles to separation: American veneration of royalty; and to point out that beyond the politics and legalities of the conflict, the colonies were sources of profit the crown would never voluntarily relinquish. This message clarified the revolution for thousands of confused rebels who had been debating points of law with London. Imagine if Paine had been a yippie instead of a politico — his primary message might have been to pull down the king’s pants.

It was the movement’s politicos who stayed the course, continuing to be activists well past the ’60s, while Rubin’s long-haired beast and Mungo’s Magic people — lacking the convictions of their courage — could more likely be found in the ’70s sitting cross-legged at the feet of the newest-flavor guru, probing interpersonal relations instead of international relations, or seeking fulfillment through vegetarianism, “the land”, or Rolfing. By the ’80s they had evolved into yuppies.

Notes

  1. New York Times, August 10, 2003 

  2. Frances Fitzgerald, America Revised (1980), pp.129, 139 

  3. Foreign Policy, “State Department Innovator Goes to Google“, September 7 2010; Washington Post, June 24, 2011 

  4. Washington Post, June 19, 2011

  5. Washington Post, October 23, 1999 

  6. Washington Post, April 14, 2004 

  7. United Press International, July 26, 2007 

Senior Editor for Foreign Policy William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2

  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir

  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.

Contrary to Kleptocracy-scripted CNN newsbytes, the United States Debt Debate is NOT just the false choice between raising taxes on the few and rich versus lowering Medicare for the many and poor:  What always goes unmentioned is MILITARY PORK. 

Here’s what the Department of Defense (DoD) paid out in just one day on 30 June:

http://www.defense.gov/contracts/contract.aspx?contractid=4568

And here’s what they paid out in just the last month:

http://www.defense.gov/Contracts/default.aspx

And here’s what they paid out since 7 October 1994:

http://www.defense.gov/contracts/archive.aspx

$4 trillion for Iraq and AfPak alone:

http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2011/06/warcosts

Much of that going to multinational corporate giants that pay little if any taxes:

http://washingtontechnology.com/GIG/washingtontechnology/TopLists/Top-100-Lists/2010.aspx

Many of whom have a long history of defrauding the taxpayers:

http://www.contractormisconduct.org/index.cfm

Including Lockheed-Martin:  First in funding … First in fraud:

http://watchingfrogsboil.com/dod-daily-doles-to-lockheed-martin-first-in-f

And Boeing Corporation, who charges taxpayers 71 dollars for a 4-cent pin:

http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/alerts/national-security/ns-sp-20110623-2.html

Source: http://ironboltbruce.com

Canadian military bases on foreign soil

July 2nd, 2011 by Canadian Peace Congress

The Canadian Peace Congress condemns and calls for an immediate halt to the Canadian government’s negotiations for military basing rights as part of the Operational Support Hubs Network, and abrogating and renouncing rights already negotiated with Germany and Jamaica. As Defence Minister Peter MacKay has already admitted, Canada’s “military tempo” is at the highest levels since the Korean War. Instead of opening the way for more bombings and destruction with basing rights spread throughout the world, Canada should reverse its military aggression, which is only in the interests of an imperialist minority and against the interests of the peace-loving majority. The basing agreements allow the Canadian military to enter other countries at any time, violating the sovereignty of the host country, in order to rain death and destruction on a third country.

Because US imperialism is getting exhausted from the resistance to its occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as from the capitalist economic crisis, Canada has in MacKay’s words “become a go-to” country to meet the global demands of Canadian and US imperialism. In other words Canada’s military is no longer just a reserve or junior partner but a spearhead and pioneer of imperialism. In particular MacKay cited Haiti, where the Canadian military helped overthrow the elected government, as well as Libya, where NATO is intervening in a civil war and destroying the sovereignty of an African country and by its own admission killing civilians, perversely in the name of a “Responsibility to Protect” civilians.

The Canadian government will not tell us, its own citizens, the content of these agreements or exactly how many or which countries it is negotiating with. The only way the Canadian people learned of a recent secret military base, Camp Mirage in the United Arab Emirates, was when it was exposed as a consequence of the Canadian government excluding Arab airlines from Canadian destinations in favor of Canadian business. These secret and undemocratic basing arrangements go hand in hand with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s further subordination of Canada to Canadian corporate and US Imperialism’s interests, which mean even more wars and deaths the Canadian people are overwhelmingly opposed to as in Afghanistan.

A broad peace movement mobilizing all Canadians who oppose the never-ending agenda of wars and violations of sovereignty can stop and reverse these basing agreements and Canada’s accelerating imperialism.

Issued by Canadian Peace Congress Executive Council June 30, 2011

About the Canadian Peace Congress:

The Canadian Peace Congress was formed in 1949 as an organization of Canadian people that works for world peace and disarmament. We maintain that peace, not militarism and war, is the guarantor of democracy, human rights, and social and economic justice. The Congress is affiliated to the World Peace Council and is a founding member of the Canadian Peace Alliance.

For more information on the Canadian Peace Congress, or to join, please contact:

Dave McKee

President, Canadian Peace Congress

[email protected]   

Canadian Peace Congress

125 Brandon Avenue, Toronto, ON M6H 2E2

Canada considering international bases – Peter MacKay

http://freenewfoundlandlabrador.blogspot.com/2011/06/canada-considering-international-bases.html?  

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

According to recent comments from Defense Minister, Peter MacKay, Canada is reviewing possible sites for setting up bases around the world in an effort to better position the military to respond to international missions. The Canadian Forces does “prudent planning,” MacKay told reporters recently, taking into account its ability to participate in international missions.
 ”As we look out into the future what we obviously try to do is anticipate where and when we will be needed, but it’s difficult with any certainty, to make those plans, without talking to other countries, without doing internal examinations,” Mackay said.
 
I’m sure Mr. MacKay is correct when he says it’s difficult to say with certainty where the Canadian Forces will be needed but one place they are guaranteed to be needed going forward is right here at home. That’s not something that’s in question. According to the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir the Canadian Forces is in the process of negotiating to set up bases under a program known as the Operational Support Hubs Network. They’ve reportedly already completed negotiations with Germany and Jamaica, and are in talks with Kuwait, Senegal, Kenya or Tanzania, Singapore and South Korea. [ . . . ]

Torture Crimes Officially, Permanently Shielded

July 2nd, 2011 by Glenn Greenwald

In August, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder — under continuous, aggressive prodding by the Obama White House — announced that three categories of individuals responsible for Bush-era torture crimes would be fully immunized from any form of criminal investigation and prosecution: 

(1) Bush officials who ordered the torture (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld);

(2) Bush lawyers who legally approved it (Yoo, Bybee, Levin), and 

(3) those in the CIA and the military who tortured within the confines of the permission slips they were given by those officials and lawyers (i.e., “good-faith” torturers).  

The one exception to this sweeping immunity was that low-level CIA agents and servicemembers who went so far beyond the torture permission slips as to basically commit brutal, unauthorized murder would be subject to a “preliminary review” to determine if a full investigation was warranted — in other words, the Abu Ghraib model of justice was being applied, where only low-ranking scapegoats would be subject to possible punishment while high-level officials would be protected.

Yesterday, it was announced that this “preliminary review” by the prosecutor assigned to conduct it, U.S. Attorney John Durham, is now complete, and — exactly as one would expect — even this category of criminals has been almost entirely protected, meaning a total legal whitewash for the Bush torture regime:

The Justice Department has opened full criminal investigations of the deaths in CIA custody of two detainees, including one who perished at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The decision, announced by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., means continued legal jeopardy for several CIA operatives but at the same time closes the book on inquiries that potentially threatened many others. A federal prosecutor reviewed 101 cases in which agency officers and contractors interrogated suspected terrorists during years of military action after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but found cause to pursue criminal cases in only two. . . .

The two token cases to be investigated involve the most grotesque brutality imaginable: they apparently are (1) a detainee who froze to death in an American secret prison in Afghanistan in 2002 after being ordered stripped and chained to a concrete floor, and (2) the 2003 death of a detainee at Abu Ghraib whose body was infamously photographed by guards giving a thumbs-up sign.  All other crimes in the Bush torture era will be fully protected.  Lest there be any doubt about what a profound victory this is for those responsible for the torture regime, consider the reaction of the CIA:

“On this, my last day as director, I welcome the news that the broader inquiries are behind us,” said a statement from CIA Director Leon Panetta, who will take over as defense secretary on Friday. “We are now finally about to close this chapter of our agency’s history” . . . . At CIA headquarters on Thursday, Holder’s announcement was greeted with relief. . . .

Consider what’s being permanently shielded from legal accountability.  The Bush torture regime extended to numerous prisons around the world, in which tens of thousands of mostly Muslim men were indefinitely imprisoned without a whiff of due process, and included a network of secret prisons – ”black sites” — purposely placed beyond the monitoring reach of even international human rights groups, such as the International Red Cross. 

Over 100 detainees died during U.S. interrogations, dozens due directly to interrogation abuse.  Gen. Barry McCaffrey said: ”We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.”  Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the official investigation into detainee abuse, wrote:  ”there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Thanks to the Obama DOJ, that is no longer in question.  The answer is resoundingly clear: American war criminals, responsible for some of the most shameful and inexcusable crimes in the nation’s history — the systematic, deliberate legalization of a worldwide torture regime — will be fully immunized for those crimes.  And, of course, the Obama administration has spent years just as aggressively shielding those war criminals from all other forms of accountability beyond the criminal realm: invoking secrecy and immunity doctrines to prevent their victims from imposing civil liability, exploiting their party’s control of Congress to suppress formal inquiries, and pressuring and coercing other nations not to investigate their own citizens’ torture at American hands. 

All of those efforts, culminating in yesterday’s entirely unsurprising announcement, means that the U.S. Government has effectively shielded itself from even minimal accountability for its vast torture crimes of the last decade.  Without a doubt, that will be one of the most significant, enduring and consequential legacies of the Obama presidency.

The Foundations of Social Engineering

July 2nd, 2011 by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Economic Crisis and “Social Explosion”

July 2nd, 2011 by Global Research

The IMF recently warned that the United States must raise its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling or it would risk default on its debt. This type of news story was unimaginable just four years ago, but then, so was the idea that the United States Federal Reserve would be audited by the IMF, as the Fund does to poor Third World countries; but then, that happened back in 2008.

The sovereign debt crisis currently unfolding in Europe is the greatest current threat to global financial markets, according to the policy maker at the Bank of England. However, economists from the Bank of China have recently warned that, “the U.S. sovereign debt problem is more hazardous than the European debt crisis,” and that, “the U.S. sovereign debt risk will continue to intensify in the next few years.”

Josef Ackerman, CEO of Deutsche Bank and member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group recently stated that, “if the crisis in Greece spreads to the rest of the euro zone, it could be a bigger disaster than the fall of Lehman Brothers.” 

The debt contagion will further consume Ireland and Portugal, with Spain, Italy, and Belgium not far behind. Eventually, the Greek crisis would go all the way to America. In January of this year, the IMF warned Japan, Brazil, and America about the potential for a massive sovereign debt crisis to grip their nations.

As Greece recently passed further austerity measures – which effectively destroy the standard of living for the majority of people, in order to service and illegitimate debt to foreign banks – riots continued in Greece in protest to such measures. A large protest movement has recently erupted in Spain in the face of their economic crisis. Tens of thousands protested Spain’s austerity measures, and no surprise, considering youth unemployment is more than 43% and the government is instead deciding to save foreign banks. A youth protest movement has also been developing in Portugal in response to the deep social and economic crisis being experienced there.

Back in 2008, the IMF warned that the global economic crisis could result in massive social unrest. In 2009, the UN warned that the crisis could bring on “political instability and social unrest.” Moody’s, a major credit ratings agency, warned in 2009 that Britain and other highly indebted countries risk major social unrest and “public tension.” In 2010, Moody’s warned that the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Spain that in order for these countries to handle their debts, they also “will test social cohesion,” in the face of austerity measures. In 2010, the IMF warned America and Europe are in the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression and face “an explosion of social unrest.”

So, what happened to that notion of an “economic recovery”?

Of course, all this information is not surprising to those who have been following events and the economic crisis and its true origins with a more critical eye. Global Research has recently published a collection of essays from various researchers, academics, economists, social critics, and authors, all offering a more critical, nuanced, historically relevant and presently perceptive view of the global economic crisis. This book provides the reader with a more relevant and expansive understanding of the crisis we currently face, including the history of central banking, the shadow banking system, the relationship with war and ‘national security,’ empire and energy, speculation and ideology, think tanks and board rooms, Wall Street and Washington, poverty and social inequality.

Global Research is hoping you will take an interest in reading, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century,” (edited by Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall) to discover the true nature of the crisis we are in.

But don’t take our word for it, here’s what some reviewers had to say:

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.”

            – Michael Parenti, Political Scientist and social critic

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.”

            – Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.”

            – David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

“This meticulous, vital, timely and accessible work unravels the history of a hydra-headed monster: military, media and politics, culminating in “humanity at the crossroads”; the current unprecedented economic and social crisis… From the first page of the preface of The Global Economic Crisis, the reasons for all unravel with compelling clarity. For those asking “why?” this book has the answers.”

            – Felicity Arbuthnot, award-winning author and journalist based in London 

The Global Economic Crisis : The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

Montreal, Global Research Publishers, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9737147-3-9   (416 pages)

Special Offer $15.00 plus S&H (includes taxes where applicable) (List Price US$25.95 plus taxes)

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As Washington and its cohorts march towards the Eurasian Heartland, they have tried to manipulate Islam as a geo-political tool. They have created political and social chaos in the process. Along the way they have tried to redefine Islam and to subordinate it to the interests of global capital by ushering in a new generation of so-called Islamists, chiefly amongst the Arabs. 

The Project to Redefine Islam: Turkey as the New Model and “Calvinist Islam”

Turkey in its present form is now being presented as the democratic model for the rebelling Arab masses to follow. It is true that Ankara has progressed since the days it used to ban Kurdish from being spoken in public, but Turkey is not a functional democracy and is very much a kleptocracy with fascist tendencies.

The military still plays a huge role in the affairs of the state and government. The term “deep state,” which denotes a state run secretly from the top-down by unaccountable bodies and individuals, in fact originates from Turkey. Civil rights are still not respected in Turkey and candidates for public office have to be approved by the state apparatus and the groups controlling them, which try to filter out anyone that would go against the status quo in Turkey.

Turkey is not being presented as a model for the Arabs due to its so-called democratic qualifications. In reality the Turkish Republic is being presented as the political model for the Arabs to follow, because of a project of political and socio-economic “bida” (innovation) involving the manipulation of Islam.

Although very popular, the Turkish Justice and Development Party or JDP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or AKP) was allowed to come into power in 2002, without opposition by the Turkish military and the Turkish courts. Before this there was little tolerance for political Islam in Turkey. The JDP/AKP was founded in 2001 and the timing of this Turkish political parties founding and its electoral win in 2002 was also tied to the objective of redrawing Southwest Asia and North Africa.

This project to manipulate and redefine Islam seeks to subordinate Islam to global capitalist interests through a new wave of political Islamism, such as the JDP/AKP and the resurgent Muslim Brotherhood. A new strand of Islam is thereby being fashioned through what has come to be called “Calvinist Islam” or a “Muslim version of the Protestant work ethic.” It is this model that is been nurtured in Turkey and now being presented to Egypt and the Arabs by Washington and Brussels.

This “Calvinist Islam” also has no problem with the “reba” or interest system, which is prohibited under Islam. It is this system that is used to enslave individuals and societies with the chains of debt to global capitalism. It is in this context that the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is calling for so-called “democratic reforms” in the Arab World.

The ruling families of Sauda Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms are also partners in the enslavement of the Arab World through debt. In this regard Qatar and the Arab sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf are in the process of creating a Middle East Development Bank that is intended to give loans to Arab countries to support their so-called “transition towards democracy.” The democracy promotion mission of the Middle East Development Bank is ironic because the countries forming it are all staunch dictatorships.

It is also this subordination of Islam to global capitalism that is causing internal friction in Iran.

Opening the Door for a New Generation of Islamists

The hope in Washington is that this “Calvinist Islam” will take root with a new generation of so-called Islamists under the banner of new democratic states. These governments will effectively enslave their countries by placing them further into debt and selling national assets. They will help subvert the region extending from North Africa to Southwest and Central Asia as the area is being balkanized and restructured in the image of Israel under ethnocratic systems.

Tel Aviv will also wield wide influence amongst these new states. Hand-in-hand with this project, different forms of ethno-linguistic nationalism and religious intolerance are also being promoted to divide the region. Turkey also plays an important role, because it is one of the cradles for this new generation of Islamists. Saudi Arabia too plays a role in supporting the militant wing of these Islamists. 

Washington’s Restructuring of the Geo-Strategic Chessboard

Targeting Iran and Syria is part of the larger strategy of controlling Eurasia. Chinese interests have been attacked everywhere on the global map. Sudan has been balkanized and both North Sudan and South Sudan are headed towards conflict. Libya has been attacked and is in the process of being balkanized. Syria is being pressured to surrender and fall into line. The U.S. and Britain are now integrating their national security councils, which parallels Anglo-American bodies from the Second World War. 

Targeting Pakistan is also connected to neutralizing Iran and attacking Chinese interests and any future unity in Eurasia. In this regard, the U.S. and NATO have militarized the waters around Yemen. At the same time in Eastern Europe, the U.S. is building its fortifications in Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania to neutralize Russia and the former Soviet republics. Belarus and Ukraine are being put under increasing pressure too. All these steps are part of a military strategy to encircle Eurasia and to either control its energy supplies or the flow of energy towards China. Even Cuba and Venezuela are under increasing threat. The military noose is globally being tightened by Washington.

It appears that new Islamist parties are being formed and groomed by the Al-Sauds with the help of Turkey to take power in Arab capitals. Such governments will work to subordinate their respective states. The Pentagon, NATO, and Israel may even select some of these new governments to justify new wars.

It has to be mentioned that Norman Podhoretz, a original member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), in 2008 suggest an apocalyptic future scenario in which Israel launches a nuclear war against Iran, Syria, and Egypt amongst its other neighbouring countries. This would include Lebanon and Jordan. Podhoretz described an expansionist Israel and even suggested that the Israelis would militarily occupy the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.

What came across as odd in 2008 was the suggestion by Podhoretz, which was influenced by the strategic analysis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), that Tel Aviv would launch a nuclear attack on its staunch Egyptian allies ruling Cairo under President Mubarak. Despite the fact that the old regime still remains, Mubarak is no longer in power in Cairo. The Egyptian military still gives orders, but Islamists may come to power. This is occuring despite the fact that Islam continues to be demonized by the U.S. and most of its NATO allies. 


Unknown Future: What Next?

The U.S., the E.U., and Israel are trying to use the upheavals in the Turko-Arabo-Iranic World to further their own objectives including the war on Libya and the support of an insurrection in Syria involving the Muslim Brotherhood. Along with the Al-Sauds, they are attempting to spread “fitna” or division amongst the peoples of Southwest Asia and North Africa. The Israeli-Khaliji strategic alliance, formed by Tel Aviv and the ruling Arab families in the Persian Gulf, is crucial in this regard.   

In Egypt the social upheaval is far from over and the people are become more radical. This is resulting in concessions by the military junta in Cairo. The protest movement is now starting to address the role of Israel and its relationship to the military junta.  In Tunisia too, the popular stream is headed towards radicalization.

Washington and its cohorts are playing with fire. They may think that this period of chaos presents an excellent opportunity for confrontation with Iran and Syria. The upheaval that has taken root in the Turko-Arabo-Iranic World will have unpredictable results. The resilience of the peoples in Bahrain and Yemen under the threats of increased state-sponsored violence indicates the articulation of more cohesive anti-U.S. and anti-Zionist protest movement.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

The Greatest Depression Has Only Begun

July 2nd, 2011 by Global Research

The greatest depression in human history is still in its starting stages. What the media and many officials often refer to as the “hangover” from the global financial crisis is in fact the end of the beginning. Originating in 2008, the global economic crisis took the world by storm: banks collapsed, the “too big to fail” became bigger by consolidating the rest, governments bailed out their financial industries, masses of people lost their jobs, the ‘developing’ world was plunged into a deep systemic crisis, food prices rose, which in time spurred social unrest; and the Western nations that took on the bad debts of the big banks are on the precipice of a great global debt crisis, originating in Europe, hitting Greece and Spain, but destined to consume the industrialized world itself. Though many claim that we are in a “recovery,” things could not be further from the truth.

As the mainstream media is finally catching on to the reality of the mirage of the so-called “recovery”, reports are surfacing about a dire global economic situation:

“Evidence of a deterioration of global manufacturing growth and renewed weakness in job creation in the United States emerged Wednesday, two reversals that have markets bracing for an economic pause, or worse… Add to that a daunting list of aggravating factors: the continued implosion of the U.S. housing market, an outbreak of worldwide risk aversion, high crude-oil and gas prices pinching consumer demand, further tightening in China and other emerging-market economies, stock market losses, lack of credit growth, the looming end to the Fed’s monetary stimulus, weak business capital spending, and the still-unfolding sovereign debt crisis in Europe.”

And now top financial experts are warning of a new financial crisis altogether, since the monstrous derivatives market that played such a nefarious role in the preceding crisis has not been altered, nor have its systemic risks been addressed. The derivatives market – essentially a fictional electronic market of high-stakes gambling – has a value ten times that of the entire global gross national product of the world’s countries combined. This market is dominated by hedge funds and the “too big to fail” banks, who in fact created the derivatives trading schemes. As one leading hedge fund manager recently stated, “There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner… because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis.” The market for derivatives is somewhere in the realm of $600 trillion.

The most recent publication by Global Research, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century,” (Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavni Marshall, editors) examines the true nature of the crisis the world faces; not only its historical origins, but its depth and future repercussions. No other book on the subject takes such a nuanced and multi-faceted approach to examining the global economic crisis. Over a dozen different authors, researchers, economists, academics and former policy-makers contributed to this important book. Included within are: an examination of the history of the central banking system, the emergence and role of neoliberalism, the myth of the “free market”, the role of war and empire, the National Security State, the relationship between economic crisis and the militarization of domestic society, global poverty, the food crisis, the roles played by major think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group, the nature of the derivatives market, the uses of the crisis as an “opportunity” to forge ahead with long-held plans for a global central bank, a global currency, and a global government, and much much more.

This book is not merely a history, it is a warning, and its message should be heeded now more than ever. As the crisis continues and deepens, as the wars exapand and multiply, as the very institutions that created the crisis are given more power, and as governments become more repressive and people become more resistant, it is vital for all to know the true nature of the crisis we face, the reality of who caused it, and where it is taking the world.

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.” -Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.” -Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.” -David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

Help spread the word about this important new book by “liking” our Facebook page and sharing it with your friends.

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

Montreal, Global Research Publishers. Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), 2010.

ISBN 978-0-9737147-3-9   (416 pages)

Special Offer $15.00 plus S&H (includes taxes where applicable) (List Price US$25.95 plus taxes)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER ONLINE!

 
 
Purchases by Mail

Send your cheque or money order made out to ”CRG” to the following address:

Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)
PO Box 55019
11 Ouest Notre-Dame,
MONTREAL, QC, H2Y 4A7
CANADA

Single purchase of book is $15.00 plus 9.50 s&h = $24.50.


Purchases by Fax

For payment by fax, please print the credit card authorization form and fax your order and credit card details to Global Research at 1-514-656-5294

CLICK HERE TO ORDER ONLINE!

Thank you for supporting Global Research!

Greece Blocks Freedom Flotilla II Departure to Gaza

July 2nd, 2011 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Montreal, July 2, 2011 – On Friday July 1 the Greek government announced that it was prohibiting the departure from Greek ports of any ships, Greek or foreign, for Gaza. As of 5 p.m. EST July 1, the Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir – one of the 15 boats in Freedom Flotilla II – was being prevented from leaving the port of Agios Nicolaos, Crete. On Wednesday Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had asked his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, to stop the aid flotilla from departing Greece for Gaza. Greek port authorities boarded the Tahrir Friday and seized its licence. Canadian officials have not commented on the incident, although dozens of Canadians are aboard the Tahrir.

Freedom Flotilla II’s aim is to peacefully challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which violates international law and inflicts grave hardship on Palestinians. However, as noted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, over the last 18 months Netanyahu has dramatically strengthened ties with Papandreou. Netanyahu recently implored European leaders to provide financial aid to Greece.  Greece is currently rocked by a financial crisis and popular protests against Papandreou’s proposed austerity measures to deal with it. Greece’s decision to prevent ships from leaving Greek ports for Gaza may be an indication that the Greek PM is reciprocating Netanyahu’s gesture.

“We remind the Greek and Canadian leaders that it is the blockade that violates international law, and not Freedom Flotilla II’s peaceful attempt to challenge it,” says Thomas Woodley, President of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.  CJPME notes that Greece’s statement banning the departure of ships did not provide any explanation for the ban — and certainly no legal justification for it.  CJPME and its supporters expect the Canadian government to take all steps possible to protect the Canadians aboard the Tahrir, and to protect the rights of this Canadian boat.

In addition to immobilizing the Tahrir, Greek authorities forced theAudacity of Hope – the US boat in the flotilla — back to shore Friday shortly after it had left a Greek port. Earlier this week, flotilla activists reported that the Irish and Swedish ships participating in the flotilla had been sabotaged, in Turkish and Greek ports respectively. Israeli authorities have refused to comment on allegations that Israel was responsible for damage to the two vessels.

#####

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: 438-380-5410

CJPME Email  - CJPME Website

Media focus has centered on the story of  the alleged victim, the hotel housemaid, rather than on who was pulling the strings behind the scenes in what visibly appears to be a political frame-up. 

Why now and not earlier? 

Why was the substance of her false accusations not released at an earlier stage?

Who was protecting her?

Why did the media wait to reveal this information, which was known to prosecutors at an early stage of the investigation?  

The timing of the release was based on political considerations.  France’s Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was confirmed as Managing Director of the IMF on June 26th. The report from the prosecutor was released to the media three days later, on  June 29.  

If this informaiton had been revealed a few days earlier, Lagarde’s candidacy might have been questioned.

Regime change has been implemented at the IMF, not to mention preparations for the French presidential elections.

Sofar, the likely hypothesis of a frame-up directed against DSK is not being touched upon by the mainstream media.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, June 2, 2011

Jim Dwyer and Michael Wilson Jim Dwyer and Michael Wilson, NYT News Service | Jul 2, 2011, 11.04am IST

NEW YORK: Twenty-eight hours after a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York said she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, she spoke by phone to a boyfriend in an immigration jail in Arizona.

Investigators with the Manhattan district attorney’s office learned the call had been recorded and had it translated from a “unique dialect of Fulani,” a language from the woman’s native country, Guinea, according to a well-placed law enforcement official.

When the conversation was translated — a job completed only this Wednesday — investigators were alarmed: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,’ ” the official said.

It was another ground-shifting revelation in a continuing series of troubling statements, fabrications and associations that unraveled the case and upended prosecutors’ view of the woman. Once, in the hours after she said she was attacked on May 14, she’d been a “very pious, devout Muslim woman, shattered by this experience,” the official said — a seemingly ideal witness.

Little by little, her credibility as a witness crumbled — she had lied about her immigration, about being gang raped in Guinea, about her experiences in her homeland and about her finances, according to two law enforcement officials. She had been linked to people suspected of crimes. She changed her account of what she did immediately after the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. Sit-downs with prosecutors became tense, even angry. Initially composed, she later collapsed in tears and got down on the floor during questioning. She became unavailable to investigators from the district attorney’s office for days at a time.

Now the phone call raised yet another problem: it seemed as if she hoped to profit from whatever occurred in Suite 2806.

The story of the woman’s six-week journey from seemingly credible victim, in the eyes of prosecutors, to a deeply unreliable witness, is drawn from interviews with law enforcement officials, statements from the woman’s lawyer and a letter from prosecutors to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s defense team released in court on Friday. Some of the events were confirmed by both law enforcement officials and the women’s lawyer; others rely solely on law enforcement officials. In the end, it was the prosecutors’ assessment of the housekeeper’s credibility that led them to downgrade their confidence in the case and agree on Friday that Mr. Strauss-Kahn could be freed from house arrest.

In the beginning, her relationship with prosecutors was strong. Her account seemed solid. Over time, the well-placed official said, they discovered that she was capable of telling multiple, inconsistent versions of what appeared to be important episodes in her life. After the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn, she asked her supervisor at Sofitel, “Can any guest at the hotel do anything they want with us?” her lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, said during a sidewalk press conference on Friday defending her.

The supervisor called security, and officers, finding semen on the floor and wall, called the police, setting off the quick chain of events that led to police officers escorting Mr. Strauss-Kahn off an Air France plane set to depart Kennedy International Airport.

Suspicions of the woman’s associations arose relatively quickly: within a week of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, the authorities learned of a recorded conversation between the subject of a drug investigation and another man, who said his companion was the woman involved in the Strauss-Kahn matter, according to another law enforcement official.

Prosecutors and investigators interviewed the woman at length.

Her immigration history was a focus. At first, she told them what she told immigration officials seven years ago in her accounts of how she fled Guinea and her application for asylum on Dec. 30, 2004. She described soldiers destroying the home where she lived with her husband, and said they were both beaten because of their opposition to the regime. She said her husband died in jail.

But then, in a subsequent interview with Manhattan prosecutors, she said the story was false, one she had been urged to tell by a man who gave it to her on a cassette recording to memorize. She had listened to the recording repeatedly.

The housekeeper also told investigators that she had been gang raped in Guinea. She cried and became “markedly distraught when recounting the incident,” according to a letter to the defense from prosecutors released Friday. But she later admitted that that, too, was a lie, once again one she had told to help her application for asylum. She said she was indeed raped in Guinea, but not in the way she had described.

Her lawyer, Mr. Thompson, said she was desperate to leave Guinea, and had been encouraged to embellish her application for asylum.

The boyfriend in the Arizona detention center was another issue. He had been arrested while bartering counterfeit designer clothing from Manhattan’s Chinatown for marijuana in the Southwest, the well-placed law enforcement official said. Her lawyer said she did not know the man was “a drug dealer.”

Meanwhile, as the interviews continued, the relationship grew more strained. During a meeting at the district attorney’s office on June 9, the woman wept as she was questioned closely after Mr. Thompson had left for another engagement. Her 15-year-old daughter, who was waiting outside, noticed that her mother was upset and called a relative to alert Mr. Thompson. The lawyer called the prosecutors and demanded an end to the questioning. He said on Friday that the daughter heard them shout, “Get out! Get out! Get out of here!” at her mother. The authorities say there was no shouting.

At another meeting, the woman threw herself to the floor in response to questions, the well-placed official said.

Then, for some 10 days, prosecutors were unable to get Mr. Thompson to bring her in; the lawyer said she was being treated for a shoulder injury that she suffered in the attack, an injury she had not reported earlier.

The final meeting occurred on Tuesday in the seventh-floor offices of the district attorney at 1 Hogan Place. It began at 11 a.m. and lasted five or six hours, except for a short lunch break, around an oval table in a conference room in the offices of the Public Integrity Unit.

It was devastating. In recent weeks, investigators collected bank records showing deposits of thousands of dollars in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania to an account in her name.

The woman had repeatedly said that the Sofitel was her only source of income.

Now, investigators confronted her with the bank records.

The woman, silent, turned to Mr. Thompson, seemingly pleading for direction on how to respond. He seemed startled.

“He was speechless,” the well-placed official said.

The district attorney’s office said the woman had lied about her income to maintain her public housing, and had claimed a friend’s child as her own dependant to increase her tax refund.

At the same meeting, the woman gave a new version of what she had done immediately after the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. In testimony before the grand jury in May, she said she had fled Suite 2806 to an area in the main hallway and waited until she saw Mr. Strauss-Kahn leave in an elevator. She has said that her supervisor arrived a short time later, and that she told her supervisor what had happened.

On Tuesday, the well-placed official said, she told investigators new details, stating, “I forgot to tell you this.”

In fact, she said, she left Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s room and entered another room — her lawyer said it was Suite 2820 — and cleaned it, and then returned to Suite 2806 and cleaned it until her supervisor arrived.

“She did not know what to do,” her lawyer said. “She did not want to lose her job. She knew that her supervisor was going to be coming upstairs momentarily. So, she went into another room.”

And yet, even this version was not corroborated by card-key data obtained by investigators on Friday, which indicated that the housekeeper went to the other room only after she had finished Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s room.

Some within the district attorney’s office suggested that the rush to bring the case to a grand jury may have contributed to its current, weakened state.

Early on, there appeared to be disagreement in the office over how to proceed — whether to agree to a bail package for Mr. Strauss-Kahn and take more time to investigate before seeking his indictment, or whether to try to keep him locked up and quickly take the case to the grand jury for an indictment, according to three people involved in the case.

The office chose to seek a quick indictment, but a Manhattan judge let Mr. Strauss-Kahn out on bail anyway.

Mr. Thompson said that the housekeeper’s account of what took place in Suite 2806 is the only one that matters, and said that in the jail recording, she recounted a version of the encounter that matched what she had told the police.

“It’s a fact that the victim here has made some mistakes, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a rape victim,” Mr. Thompson said Friday.

The woman has been crushed that her inconsistent statements have been brought to light, Mr. Thompson said. “I will go to my grave knowing what this man did to me,” she told him on Friday, he said.

John Eligon and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

There’s a great deal of disappointment, even distress, in the air as news spreads that Dominique Strauss-Kahn might not be charged with rape (or attempted rape, or sexual assault). He’s guilty, the victim’s character is being attacked in order to protect him, and the Culture of Rape will emerge triumphant once again — or so I’m being told by various Emails, Tweets, etc.

On the other hand, the whole thing was a conspiracy to facilitate the pillaging of the Greek people and the replacement of DSK at the IMF by a robber baron more loyal to the Austerity Agenda. Or so I have been assured.

In addition, the entire episode illustrates the danger in recklessly charging people — especially famous and important people — with crimes, until they have first been proven guilty. Or so we are learning from Thoughtful pundits.

I actually think that some (or none) or even all of these stories could be true. What I object to is the assertion that each one is true, not because the facts demonstrate it (we haven’t been given the facts) but because that’s the way the world is.

Here’s a general depiction of the world that is true: Rape is common and traumatic and often goes unpunished; victims are put through further trauma when they press charges; honest victims are often viewed as liars; victims lacking legal status and union membership and other advantages can be even more reluctant to press charges; our culture does not sufficiently condemn rape; our mercenary firms fighting our wars can apparently rape their employees with legal immunity.

Here’s something that depiction of the world doesn’t tell us: DSK raped his accuser.

Here’s another general depiction of the world that is true: False accusations of rape are extremely common. Acquittals and exonerations through DNA suggest a large number of false convictions in cases lacking DNA evidence. Americans used to lynch large numbers of African American men on the basis of false rape accusations. Well-intentioned opponents of date-rape have preached that regret can transform sex into rape.

Here’s something that depiction of the world doesn’t tell us: DSK’s accuser lied about being raped.

Here’s another general depiction of the world that is true: Major financial interests have no shame or conscience and will engage in all variety of dirty tricks to get their way. General Motors tried to set Ralph Nader up with a phony rape charge. DSK’s downfall was perfectly timed to benefit the plutocrats and destroy the hopes of the Greek people.

Here’s something that does not tell us: DSK was set up by the global financial oligarchs.

Here’s yet another state of affairs that is true: DSK has both a suspicious history of numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault and a great deal of financial influence himself. If any dirt could be found to defame his accuser (since no means could be found to buy her off) and if the prosecutors didn’t find it on their own, DSK was far more likely to find and provide it than your average person accused, rightly or wrongly, of a crime.

Here’s something that doesn’t tell us: DSK is getting away with rape due to the unfairness of the U.S. legal system.

Of course, we might very well know one or more of these things to be indisputably true by the end of the day or the week or the month. Or we might never know. But a great many people are convinced that they already know; and that’s what worries me.

There are international conspiracies. But there isn’t always one everywhere. There are rapes. But there isn’t always one everywhere. There are false accusations. But some accusations are true.

I get the impression that for many people these facts are theoretically recognizable but practically irrelevant.

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David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” 

http://warisalie.org

http://davidswanson.org

http://warisacrime.org

http://facebook.com/pages/David-Swanson/297768373319

http://twitter.com/davidcnswanson

http://youtube.com/afterdowningstreet

 

Nelson Mandela’s New Book

July 2nd, 2011 by Danny Schechter

AS MANDELA TURNS 93, HE RELEASES A NEW BOOK OF QUOTATIONS

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: Nelson Mandela, icon-hero of the world, turns 93 this month. He is hanging on despite family tragedies that claimed another great-grandchild in June. The child was born premature and died after just four days,

The man known by his clan name, Madiba, still evokes wonder and admiration and almost god-like reverence, with airport stores selling We Love Mandela posters and T-shirts. He is the one South African that most of South Africans take pride in, including the older generation that first knew him as an apartheid government designated terrorist.

So feared was he that his picture could not be shown in the media and his words could not be quoted for 27 years.

Ironically, all these years later he has released a book of authorized quotations (‘By himself”) that cull his thoughts from a life time of public and private utterances in letters, private papers, audio recordings as well from generations of speechifying,

Mandela doesn’t really get out much anymore although a select few can still get in to see him especially if their name is Michelle Obama, whose comment on being given an advanced copy of the quotations was a not very quotable, “Wow!” (I have that on good authority from someone who was in the room.)

The last big book of political quotations that went to the top of the sales charts that I remember was Mao’s Little Red Book. China’s Communist party assured it would be a global bestseller given the size of the population, their control over the country and penchant for disseminating propaganda. Mao’s idea appealed to Moammar Gadaffy who then released his own Little “Green Book” to thunderous yawns.

Mao used his book to fight his ill-fated cultural revolution; Now, Mandela’s collection that could be called a little book of struggle and solidarity is out to promote the fight for democracy he led.

Its mission is spelled out in a letter he wrote from his prison cell to his daughter Zindzi back in 1980. That quotation explains: “A good pen can also remind us of the happiest moments in our lives, bring noble ideas in our dens, our blood and our souls, It can turn tragedy into hope and victory.”

It wasn’t just his words that brought his victory but they surely helped. This collection features more than 2,000 quotations over 60 years, organized into 300 categories including “character” “courage” and “reconciliation.” Many have never been published before and were archived by the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Memory Project. The editors, Sello Hatang and Sahm Venter “ say their aim is to offer an accurate and extensive resource.

“In editing the book,” they write, “ we were struck as much by the gravitas of his words…as by their simplicity.”

I was fortunate to be at the book’s launch in the offices of the Foundation in Johannesburg.

It was an appropriate place for me to spend my June 27th birthday reflecting on Mandela’s triumphs and my own small role in bringing some of them to public attention with six films documenting some of what happened after his release from prison—his election campaign in 1994 and two visits to America, among other memorable markers in his amazing life.

The event was typically low key with a few talks by people who knew him well, worked with him in the ANC and served alongside him in the cells on Robben Island. I knew some of the stalwarts who were there and they were very welcoming to have me back among them.

Doing what I could as a journalist and TV producer to help free South Africa is work that I am very proud of. In the end, I received far more than I gave. It was a great privilege.

In the formal program, his daughter from his first marriage told of visiting her father in prison and being asked if she had had a pap smear. Despite his reputation as a Victorian patrician, he was open about personal matters, and shocked her by talking about intimate subjects even urging her not to have unprotected sex.

Ahead of his time, that orientation led him years later to become a global leader in the fight against AIDS, a pandemic that also claimed one of his sons.

A former ANC leader described him as someone who was open to, and welcomed disagreement and debate to correct him when he was “wrong.” She read quotes that showed Mandela’s openness to criticism and self-criticism, qualities we don’t see in many world leaders better known for arrogance and elitism.

Two quotes in the book offer insight to his approach and humility. This comes from a speech he gave in September 1953:

“Long speeches, the shaking of fists, the banging of tables and strongly worded resolutions out of touch with the objective conditions do not bring about mass action and can do a great deal of harm to the organization and the struggle we serve.”

Although he often looks stern he also values a good sense of humor, explaining in 2005:

“You sharpen your ideas by reducing yourself to the level of the people you are with and a sense of humor and a complete relaxation, even when you are discussing serious things does help to mobilize friends around you. And I love that.”

Next was Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada, one of the eight convicted activists including Mandela assigned to a special section in the draconian Robben Island prison. The apartheid government practiced its racism there openly, giving Kathrada, an Indian, more privileges than his black comrades. He joined Mandela in protesting discriminatory practices.

Mandela always “led from the front,” he explained, taking principled stands and refusing any special treatment unless it was also given to his colleagues. Kathrada’s description of their life together on the inside for decades was vivid and matter of fact, even if his words brought tears to the eyes of people who have heard his stories before. These prisoners had nothing but contempt for the court’s verdict because they knew was made on a political basis, not a legal one.

Mandela himself embraces the notion of the role of people in the front. He puts it simply in this quotation: “Good Leaders Lead.” And leading he still is with several foundations, one for children, one focused on Aids, and the principal one encouraging community dialogues to fight xenophobia and violence,

Sitting in the front row and listening was one of the lawyers who represented Kathrada and Mandela in their famous treason trial. He is a legal legend by the name of George Bizos who came to South Africa from Greece, the cradle of democracy.

It was Bizos who convinced Mandela to add three small words to his most famous quotation, the one in which he told his Judges he was prepared to die for his ideals.

Bizos persuaded him not to be so categorical by, in effect, challenging the state to kill him. Before the phrase vowing he was ready to die, his lawyer interjected the words “If needs be” to the statement of defiance giving Mandela some political wriggle room. In the end, he was not sentenced to death and lived to outlast his warders and go from prison to the presidency.

Mandela is right: words and ideas matter, but he also insists they must lead to action. The movement he led was admired for its moral stance. Today, that movement is in power, known for the progress it brought but also for a pervasive corruption that threatens the legacy of his beloved African National Congress (ANC).

Cry the Beloved Country was one of South Africa’s greatest novels. Today, many of those who fought for its freedom are crying about its many self-inflicted crises. That’s an issue I will return to.

News Dissector Danny Schechter produced the globally broadcast TV series South Africa Now and was a director six documentary films about Nelson Mandela. Comments to [email protected]

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2011

GREEK OFFICIALS ATTEMPT TO BLOCK U.S. BOAT TO GAZA FROM LEAVING GREEK PORT

PASSENGERS SUSPECT ISRAEL/US ECONOMIC PRESSURE ON BELEAGUERED GREEK GOVERNMENT

Athens – Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, are asking Greek government officials to clarify whether the boat they are leasing is being blocked from leaving Greece because of an anonymous request of a private citizen concerning the seaworthiness of the ship or whether a political decision has been made by the Greek government in response to U.S. and Israeli government pressure. They specifically want to know if the U.S. is using its leverage at the International Monetary Fund over the implementation of an ongoing bailout of European banks with massive Greek debts to compel the Greek government to block the U.S. Boat to Gaza from leaving Greece.

On the morning of June 23, the American passengers learned that a “private complaint” had been filed against the U.S. Boat to Gaza, which is part of an international flotilla scheduled to sail to Gaza in the next few days. This complaint, its origin still unknown to the Americans, claimed that the boat is “not seaworthy” and therefore requires a detailed inspection. On June 25 a police order declared that until the complaint is resolved the boat will not be permitted to leave.

The passengers are wondering if Israel, which has extensive economic trade and investments in Greece, is using its clout to pressure the Greek government. “Israel has said openly that it is pressuring governments to try to stop the flotilla, and clearly Greece is a key government since several of the boats plan to leave from Greece,” says passenger Medea Benajmin. “It is unconscionable that Israel would take advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing to try to stop our boat or the flotilla.”

Given the very close relationship between Israel and the U.S., and the public efforts by Israel to denounce and try to stop the flotilla, the passengers on the U.S. boat want to know if the Obama Administration is using U.S. leverage at the IMF to compel the Greek authorities to stop the U.S. boat from leaving Greece. Greece’s economic and political crisis is a result of extreme austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the largely U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund. Past U.S. governments have used their influence at the IMF to impose political conditions on indebted countries that have nothing to do with restoring economic growth.

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, said: “Greece is not going to be able to meet the targets that it is pledging to the IMF and the European authorities. In this situation the IMF and therefore the U.S. government will have enormous leverage because the Fund and EU authorities will decide what will be acceptable benchmarks for Greece to receive future tranches of IMF/EU funding.”

“We are guests here,” said Robert Naiman, a passenger on the U.S. boat. “But we ask the Greek authorities to be honest with us. What is the origin of this complaint? Is the decision to stop our boat from leaving truly due to legitimate technical issues that can be resolved, or is it a sign that our boat will be stopped from leaving no matter what we do? What is the role of the Israeli and U.S. governments in the Greek decision to stop our boat from leaving?”

“We have a right to protest the blockade of Gaza,” said Ann Wright, an organizer and passenger on the U.S. boat. “To its credit, the Greek government, like the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Oxfam, agrees with us that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted. But for years, the only effective international action to challenge the illegal blockade has been freedom flotillas. We call upon the Greek government, which agrees that our cause is just, not to stand in the way of our peaceful protest in pursuit of our shared goal of lifting the blockade. The boat we are leasing for this journey, after its refitting for the voyage to Gaza, was surveyed by a professional surveyor and successfully completed its sea trials. There is no reason for any further delays on this matter, we are ready to sail.”

For regular updates follow the US Boat to Gaza on Twitter: http://twitter.com/usboattogaza and visit the US Boat to Gaza website.

America: An Empire in Decline

July 2nd, 2011 by Devon DB

Introduction

The American Empire came into full being after its main rival, the Soviet Union, collapsed. The US then found itself  as the world’s sole military and economic superpower. With this new found position in the world, America could have used its power to help those in need and aid in global security. However, the events of 9/11 changed all of this and the US went from a once proud, powerful, law-abiding nation, to what it is today: a declining empire that is virtually bankrupt and has moved from using diplomacy to a “might makes right” mindset (as can be shown from its current engagement in multiple wars across the world in order to maintain its global empire), as well as trying to make sure that new powers, such as China, do not threaten its dominance.

This series is an examination of how this downfall took place, how the US strayed from its original military, economic, and foreign policy plans to become an empire in decline, from the 1990s to the present day, ending with an analysis what may lay in the future for the Empire.

DAWN OF A NEW CENTURY

Military

During the Cold War, the US had had troops stationed all over the world, from Europe to Asia. Its military doctrine consisted of a policy of containing the Soviets and battling the “Communist threat” where ever it was. Battling the “Communist threat” meant (either directly or indirectly) overthrowing leftist governments in Latin America, Asia, and Europe or supporting right-wing death squads, as was seen in Latin America (some of these coups led to the massacre of innocent civilians). Despite this, it seemed that after the Soviet Union fell, the US was going to change its military doctrine.

Even though the US was now the world’s unrivaled superpower, it still planned to “devote the necessary resources to military, diplomatic, intelligence and other efforts” [1] to maintain its global leadership position and also wanted to “shape the international environment through a variety of means, including diplomacy, economic cooperation, international assistance, arms control and nonproliferation, and health initiatives”[2] to establish and keep the new status quo.

In shaping this new world, American planned for diplomacy to play a major role. The thinking was that diplomacy was “essential” to ensuring that US interests were met, sustaining alliances, averting global crises/solving regional conflicts, and ensuring global economic stability. “Preventive” diplomacy would play a major role in helping to solve potential conflicts before they blew up. The military would only be put into play as a last resort. Military force would only be used if it would “advance U.S. interests,” was “likely to accomplish [its] objectives”, “the costs and risks of their employment [were] commensurate with the interests at stake,” and “other non-military means are incapable of achieving [US] objectives.” [3]

Thus, with the collapse of the Soviets, the US plan was to shape a new world order in which they would lead, yet diplomacy would take the lead in shaping this new order instead of military might. The reason for this was two-fold. The US had already spent $13 trillion on defense spending during the entirety of the Cold War [4] and using diplomacy on a regional and international level would allow it to cut back on defense expenditures. Also by using diplomacy, it would give nations the illusion that they were on equal footing with the US, when in reality, if the diplomacy failed, the US may decide that the conditions had been met for them to use military force in order to “advance U.S. interests.” It was, in a way, following Theodore Roosevelt’s advice of speaking softly, but carrying a big stick.

America was also changing its nuclear defense policy. America had “reduced [its] nuclear stockpile, through both the START I cuts and reciprocal unilateral initiatives” [5] as well as did the following under the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiative:

  • Eliminate[d] [its] entire inventory of ground-launched non-strategic nuclear weapons (nuclear artillery and LANCE surface-to-surface missiles);
  • Remove[d] all non-strategic nuclear weapons on a day-to-day basis from surface ships, attack submarines, and land-based naval aircraft bases;
  • Remove[d] [its]strategic bombers from alert;  
  • S[tood] down the Minuteman II ICBMs scheduled for deactivation under START I;  
  • Terminate[d] the mobile Peacekeeper and mobile Small ICBM programs; and  
  • Terminate[d] the SRAM-II nuclear short-range attack missile. [6]

In addition to this, the US took further steps in 1992. Due to the second Presidential Nuclear Initiative (PNI II), the US was “limiting B-2 production to 20 bombers; canceling the entire Small ICBM program; ceasing production of W-88 Trident SLBM warheads; halting purchases of advanced cruise missiles; and stopping new production of Peacekeeper missiles.” [7] Due to decreasing the number of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon transporters, the US government saved a large amount of money and still ensured that it would have nuclear first-strike capability for quite some time.

Overall, the United States was lowering its guard not only due to the collapse of its main rival, but also due to financial concerns and its plans to reshape the world.

Economics

Near the turn of the century, new economic thought was being brought up, namely globalization. Globalization was only but another step in the transformation of capitalism that would allow corporations to move capital and people on a global scale and therefore cut costs and increase profits. By pushing this new economic thought, governments were able to push the thinking that a more inter-connected society was good not only for corporations, but for people as well, while ignoring the problems globalization would bring.

Globalization was defined as “the process of moving toward a world in which we produce, distribute, sell, finance, and invest without regard to national boundaries.” [8] By disregarding national boundaries, it would allow for corporations to “also gain access to new sources of raw materials and intermediate inputs, and to lower-cost locations for assembly operations that use unskilled labor.” [9] This would allow for US companies to move in and have their way in the third-world without the CIA or the US military having to engage in regime change (either covertly or overtly). US corporations would also more stability as a corporation that “operates in many countries will find that recessions and booms in the many markets in which it operates are likely to be out of sync,” [10] thus they will be able to move people and capital to the locations which are doing well.

However, while this shifting of people and capital across the world would create benefits for corporations, it would bring about problems for workers. “As with the relocation of manufacturing in the U.S., globalization generates some of its gains by allowing — or sometimes forcing — relocation of production. Not everyone benefits. Just as relocation of manufacturing from Pennsylvania to South Carolina generates losers as well as winners, so does globalization.” [11]

Even when globalization was first being discussed, it was acknowledged that it “contributed to the decline in real wages of those with few skills and little education.” [12] What this meant for the US was that it would experience the death of the working class as jobs would be shipped overseas. When this subject was bought up, proponents of globalization would argue that “In the process of shifting resources, some production facilities are abandoned and some workers suffer unemployment. They do not share the gains, at least not immediately.” [13] (emphasis added) As we now know, those who are unemployed due to offshoring/outsourcing rarely, if ever, “share in the gains” of globalization. It was not meant to benefit the working class, but rather corporate greed.

Another factor that was ignored by proponents of globalization is that foreign economic shocks have more of an effect on the US economy. As Edward G. Boehne, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said to the World Affairs Council of Greater Valley Forge: 

An economic slowdown in Europe or Asia, for example, has a bigger effect on the U.S. economy now than it did when exports and imports were smaller relative to GDP. And greater international financial linkages mean that the U.S. financial sector is more exposed to foreign financial shocks than used to be the case. [14]

The US economy and the global economy at large, would be put more at risk due to there being greater interconnectedness. However, despite these risks, globalization was endorsed by the US and the effects have been seen in the form of the decimation of the American economy [15] and also the global economy at large was put more at risk, all for the sake of corporate profits.

NATO Alliance

After the Cold War, it seemed that the NATO alliance had lost its reason for existing. Western Europe was no longer under the threat of Communist takeover, thus NATO’s mission had been a success. However, NATO, instead of disbanding or keeping a stable membership, decided to go on an era of expansion which continues to this day.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, there was some debate for a short while as to what NATO would do, now that it no longer had an enemy, yet in 1990 NATO “began its adaptation from a Cold War institution to a modern instrument of North Atlantic and European security, revising strategy and restructuring force posture to reflect the changed European security environment and the disappearance of the Soviet threat.” [16] This force restructure consisted of maintaining “an adequate military capability and clear preparedness to act collectively in the common defence remain central to the Alliance’s security objectives.” [17]

NATO also integrated even deeper into Europe. The alliance’s 1999 Strategic Concept stated:

The European Allies have taken decisions to enable them to assume greater responsibilities in the security and defence field in order to enhance the peace and stability of the Euro-Atlantic  area and thus the security of all Allies. On the basis of decisions taken by the Alliance, in Berlin in 1996 and subsequently, the European Security and Defence Identity will continue to be developed within NATO. This process will require close cooperation between NATO, the WEU and, if and when appropriate, the European Union. [18]

This further integration with Europe would greatly serve US interests in the future as it would aid the US in dominating all of Europe and the Mediterranean (currently a nation that wants to join the EU, must first join NATO). [19] Also, by having the European Security and Defence Identity continue its development within NATO, it would allow the US to make sure that European defense arrangements were subordinate to US interests.

When NATO expansion was bought up there was a battle between the White House and the Pentagon as then-President Bill Clinton was interested in expanding NATO yet the Pentagon was against it, and with good reason as there were several problems with NATO expansion. Clinton was quite interested in NATO serving US interests. In a letter to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, he stated that “Europe has changed dramatically over the past decade and NATO must also adapt if it is to continue to serve our interests in the future as well as it has done in the past.” [20] In an question and answer session with the Senate, Bill Clinton argued for NATO expansion by making Russia into a bogeyman, saying that expansion would “make NATO more effective in meeting its core mission: countering aggression against its member states,” “help guard against non-traditional security threats from outside Europe that threaten NATO members, such as the spread of weapons of mass destruction and long-range delivery systems,” and that NATO “must be prepared for other contingencies, including the possibility that Russia could abandon democracy and return to the threatening behavior of the Soviet period.” [21] All of the arguments are aimed at Russia, to keep alive the idea of Russian aggression. However, Russia being a threat was near impossible as they were going through was going through the IMF’s “shock therapy” and the entire nation was hurting.

By pushing for the expansion of NATO, the Clinton Administration was also pushing for US-NATO involvement in the religious, ethnic, and other conflicts of central Europe. When questioned on this, President Clinton responded that NATO “will make such disputes less likely and increase the chances that they will be peacefully resolved” [22] as states would have to resolve their disputes before they could join the alliance and that “There is nothing in the historical record to suggest that current Central and East European disputes are more deep-rooted or violent than, say, past disputes between France and Germany.” [23] However, there was a major difference as the conflicts in central Europe were based on “border, ethnic, nationalist, and religious disputes,” where the populace of states were fractured and stayed within their own groups. The disputes between France and Germany, on the other hand, were between two states whose people were homogeneous in the sense that they all saw themselves as being French or German.

There were also economic concerns that were bought up. The Administration reported to Congress in February 1997, that the “United States would pay only 15 percent of the direct enlargement costs, with the new members paying 35 percent of the bill, and the current (non-U.S.) members paying 50 percent.” [24] When the Senate asked if new or current members would pay that amount and would this cost-sharing plan be part of negotiations, Clinton responded that each country would pay the upkeep of its own military, yet enhancements would be 40% nationally-funded and 60% NATO-funded (or “common-funded”). Of the NATO-funded costs “the United States would pay its 24 percent share of the common-funded enhancements (about 15 percent of the total direct enlargement bill, or approximately $1.5-2.0 billion over the 2000-2009 timeframe), averaging between $150 and $200 million per year.” [25] However, these costs estimates were not accurate, as they varied quite widely. A 1996 RAND Corporation study predicted costs of $17-$82 billion, the US Congressional Budget Office predicted $21 to $125 billion, and the British Defense Ministry predicted $18-20 billion. With costs fluctuating all over the place, there was no way to get an accurate cost assessment for expansion.

The Senate also bought up the question of economic competition, stating that “By conferring NATO membership on a few nations now, those nations will have a distinct advantage over their neighbors in the competition to attract new business and foreign investment. This type of economic competition and imbalance could well breed friction and instability in Central Europe.” [26] In his response, Clinton said:

While the role of the EU is critical, there is no reason to insist on a choice between EU enlargement and NATO enlargement. Both are important. Both make independent contributions to European prosperity and security. EU enlargement alone, however, is not sufficient to secure our nation’s security interests in post-Cold War Europe. Unlike NATO, the EU lacks a military capability. Military capability remains the heart of NATO’s strength and continues to be needed to preserve European security. [27]

The fact that Clinton said that EU enlargement alone was “not sufficient” to ensure America’s security interests in Europe suggests that he may have thought that the EU and NATO were two sides of the same coin. The EU would provide the economic stability while NATO would provide the military protection.

A final problem with expansion of NATO is that many European countries did not want it, regarding it as a US initiative. They had “stated privately for months that they are not going to raise taxes or cut social programs to pay for Washington’s pet scheme. (Indeed, one leader, French president Jacques Chirac, stated publicly that France would not pay a single franc for NATO expansion.)” [28]

Besides the aforementioned problems, the Pentagon did not back the expansion as they no longer wanted to be a part of a larger, more costly NATO. They preferred to go the route of the “Partnership for Peace, which allowed East European nations to join in NATO military exercises but not be full members.” [29] However, the White House kept pressing the issue and in 1994 senior Defense officials ended up having a shouting match with Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke was stated to have yelled “The President has made the decision, and you’re being insubordinate!” [30]

Eventually the Pentagon fell in line.

Middle East Foreign Policy

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States found itself the region’s most powerful and influential outside player. America’s main goal was to keep the oil flowing by any means as could be seen by the establishment of the Carter Doctrine which stated the US intended to keep Mideast oil flowing, even if it meant military intervention and created Central Command, which covered the entire Middle East.

Due to the Middle East being of vital importance to the US, America sought to contain certain “governments or political forces that use violence as a matter of policy to advance a hostile agenda” and to “expand the depth and breadth of [US] partnerships with friendly governments in the region to promote peace, stability, and prosperity.” [31] In addition to this, the Americans also “sought to encourage states in the region that have developed the bad habit of acting outside of international norms to change [their] ways that would permit reintegration into the international community.” [32] This diplomatic language disguises the true nature of US Middle East policy.  What the US means to do is to make sure that pro-US regimes are propped up and to isolate any and every nation that threatens US interests.

The US had major plans for Iraq and Iran. Since US policy had failed in that the Iranian revolution took place and the US went to war with Iraq in 1991, the US decided to contain both nations since they “judged that both regional powers, while war–weary and economically weakened, were still militarily ambitious and clearly hostile to the United States and our interests in the region.” [33] The US wanted to keep tabs on Saddam Hussein and make sure that Iran acquiring or developing WMDs. With regards to Iran, however, just as today, the American government had no proof whatsoever that Iran was trying to acquire WMDs.

While the US aimed to contain both Iraq and Iran, there were different strategies for both nations. With Iraq, the US decided that Iraq could no longer “be rehabilitated or reintegrated into the community of nations” and would “work with forces inside and outside Iraq, as well as Iraq’s neighbors, to change the regime in Iraq and help its new government rejoin the community of nations.” [34] This last part may hints at US interest in regime change. The US kept UN sanctions on Iraq as to permanently damage its military and economically decimate the country. It should also be noted when it came to regime change, the US was willing to support anyone as long as they were anti-Saddam, as well as wanted to destabilize Iraq. The US saw the support of Iraqi exiles as “indispensable” and argued that the “internal Iraqi resistance need[ed] a voice, through the Iraqi Opposition living in freedom, to make clear to all Iraqis and to the world its aims.” [35] The US also gave $8 million in Economic Support Funds to Iraq and used the funds to “strengthen the political unity of the opposition, to support the Iraq war crimes initiative, to support humanitarian programs and the development of civil society, and for activities inside Iraq.” [36] By supporting internal dissidents, the US made sure that if there was an overthrow (successful or not) of the Saddam regime, that it would seem as if the entire struggle was internal and that it represented the will of the Iraqi people, when in reality, the overthrow would have been backed (and probably planned and financed) by the US and the new Iraqi regime would be nothing but a puppet government that followed its orders from Washington.

In regards to Iran, the US strategy was much different. Besides sanctions, there was a large amount of economic warfare against Iran. The US opposed “bilateral debt rescheduling, Paris Club debt treatment for Iran, and the extension of favorable credit terms by Iran’s principal foreign creditors” [37] as well as international monetary agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank loaning Iran money. Also the US government continued to argue that Iran was trying to create WMDs. “Clandestine efforts to procure nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons continue despite Iran’s adherence to relevant international nonproliferation conventions.” [38] In terms of nuclear weapons, the US had no proof that Iran was trying to gain nuclear weapons.

The issue of energy security was also bought up in the formulation of US Middle East policy. The US saw the Middle East as its new main source of energy since “at the end of 1997, U.S. crude reserves had declined to 29.8 billion barrels” and since the 1970s, the US had “become even more dependent on [oil] imports and thus theoretically [was] more vulnerable to crude oil supply distributions” [39] than ever before. Seeing the Middle East as unstable, America wanted to have most of its crude come from Western sources, however, there were still shortfalls even when the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was factored in. This, coupled with the fact that it was predicted by 2015 that US oil production would have declined to 5-7 million barrels daily and that “baring development of huge new reserves in the western hemisphere, the US [would] become increasingly dependent on the more unstable sources of crude oil, such as from the Middle East,” [40] it was in US interests to make sure that the regimes of Arab nations with large amounts of oil were under the control of Washington and that the status quo of American regional dominance was maintained in order to keep the oil flowing.

The Chinese Threat

In its plan to create a new global status quo where the US was in charge, the US government had to make sure that there would be no current threats to its dominance in the future. While it may seem that today the US is viewing China as a major threat, this manner of thinking goes back to the 1990s.

In terms of defense issues, the US thought China’s “defense modernization programs and foreign policy objectives could realistically pose a challenge to US interests and security,” [41] specifically noting China’s “nuclear weapons modernization program and her related arms control policies could pose some possibly severe implications to world peace”  and “China’s sale of nuclear technology.” [42] By acquiring modern weaponry China was ensuring that it would be better able to protect its nation, but from the American perspective it was a threat because it threatened US military technological dominance. By selling nuclear technology, China was threatening US nuclear dominance as more countries would have nuclear weapons and therefore were less likely to be intimidated by America and less likely to concede to US demands. In order to combat China’s nuclear program, the US planned to “make a concerted effort to involve China in any future talks concerning nuclear proliferation,” [43] however, these talks would involve China decreasing its amount of nuclear weapons while America’s nuclear weapons stockpile went untouched.

Economically, the US wanted to have a “stable and prosperous China,” but for its own reasons. Bill Clinton stated

A stable, open, prosperous, and strong China is important to the US and to our friends and allies in the region. A stable and open China is more likely to work cooperatively with others and to contribute positively to peace in the region and to respect the rights and interests of its people. A prosperous China will provide an expanding market for American goods and services. We have a profound stake in helping to ensure that China pursues its modernization in ways that contribute to the overall security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region. (emphasis added) [44]

While it may seem by Clinton’s statement that he wants to best for China, what he is actually doing is passively attacking the Chinese government and promoting US corporate interests. By saying that “A stable and open China is more likely to work cooperatively with others and to contribute positively to peace in the region and to respect the rights and interests of its people,” Clinton is implying that certain actions of China (such as modernizing its military and encouraging economic growth) weren’t in the interests of its people. How is modernizing one’s military and nuclear program not in the interests of the Chinese people? Also, by saying that “A prosperous China will provide an expanding market for American goods and services,” Clinton is backing economic globalization and shows his contempt for China as it is reminiscent of how in the 19th century, the US saw China nothing more than but a place to sell its excess goods to.

In order to get China to bend to its will, America planned on using “the positive applications of the instruments of power (political/diplomatic, economic, information, and military) rather than their coercive use.” [45] By using diplomacy, the US would give China the illusion that both nations were on par with one another, when in reality they weren’t.

Another reason engagement was chosen was due to speculation that the containment of China would not work as “it would be hard to obtain a domestic consensus to subordinate other policy goals (including trade and investment) to dealing with a Chinese threat that is as yet, to say the least, far from manifest” [46] and that containment “would require, to be effective, the whole-hearted cooperation of regional allies and most of the other advanced industrial countries of the world.” [47]

There was also speculation as to China’s defense situation by 2015. It was predicted that by 2015, China could emerge “as a formidable power, one that might be labeled a multidimensional regional competitor.” (emphasis is the author’s) [48] It was speculated that as such, China could potentially “exercise sea denial with respect to the seas contiguous to China,” “contest aerospace superiority in a sustained way in areas contiguous to China’s borders,” “threaten US operating locations in East Asia with a variety of long-range nuclear assets,” challenge US information dominance,” and “pose a strategic nuclear threat to the United States.” [49] In order to make sure that these predictions did not come true, as well as get markets for US corporations and attempt to curb China’s rise, the US may have decided to engage China.

Rise of the Neoconservatives

The group that played a major role in American defense and foreign policy in the 21st century were the neoconservatives. They were a new breed of conservatives that favored laissez faire economics and a strong, robust military. Several neoconservatives came together to form the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). This think tank was to become extremely influential in the Bush Administration.

PNAC and other neoconservatives shared a disdain for and criticized average Republicans, saying:

Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America’s role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century. [50]

It initially seemed that this new group was not that dangerous as the goal of neoconservatives was to promote and sustain American global leadership. They wanted “a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.” [51] They were extremely dedicated to the idea of America leading the world and were near-fanatical in pushing for the US to have global dominance, saying that America “cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise” and that “America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.” [52] This was not the language of people who want to just stick to the plans that were already outlined, it sounded more like the language of people who want to take the already laid-out plans to their extremes and in many cases change them entirely.

In PNAC’s document Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century, PNAC outlines its main goal which is to see the entire world dominated by American global military might. The document outline four main goals for the US military which were to “defend the American homeland; fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars; perform the ‘constabulary’ duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions; [and to] transform U.S. forces to exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs.’” [53] It can be seen here that PNAC was already planning for there to be a major shift in America’s foreign affairs and that they had a war-mongering agenda.

This militaristic agenda was going to be felt throughout the world. Besides the fact that they wanted the US military to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars,” PNAC also pushed for having America’s nuclear deterrent based “upon a global, nuclear net assessment that weighs the full range of current and emerging threats, not merely the U.S.-Russia balance” and for the US to “develop and deploy global missile defenses to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.” [54] The phrase “current and emerging threats” in reality means any nation that is currently or in the future will threaten US global dominance, such as China and Russia. This notion is further proven by the fact that PNAC wanted the US to reposition US “permanently-based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia” and to  change “naval deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia.” [55] Doing this would ensure that America would always be able to keep an eye on its rivals and quickly counter any military moves that they made.

In addition to wanting to assure American dominance on Earth, PNAC also wanted to move the American military into space. The group advocated for American “control [of] the new ‘international commons’ of space and ‘cyberspace’” and for America to “pave the way for the creation of a new military service – U.S. Space Forces – with the mission of space control.” [56] In advocating for US control of space, PNAC was also arguing for the destruction of the long-term tradition that space was meant to be used for peaceful purposes, as can be shown in the Resolution Preventing Arms Race in Outer Space which was passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007 which reaffirmed the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which in itself affirmed that space should remain demilitarized.

It was this group of militaristic, war-mongering Americans that would lead America to try and dominant the world in the 21st century by taking the original plans and twisting them to facilitate a foreign policy based on a “might makes right” mentality, which would lead America to becomes the world’s first truly global empire.

Notes

1: http://www.fas.org/man/docs/nssr-1299.pdf
2: Ibid
3: Ibid
4: http://www.cdi.org/issues/milspend.html
5: http://armed-services.senate.gov/statemnt/980331ew.htm
6: Ibid
7: Ibid
8: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/publications/speeches/boehne/1998/03-20-98_world-affairs-council.cfm
9: Ibid
10: Ibid
11: Ibid
12: Ibid
13: Ibid
14: Ibid
15: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25056
16: http://www.fas.org/man/nato/offdocs/us_97/dos970212.htm
17: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_27433.htm
18: Ibid
19: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23525
20: http://www.bits.de/NRANEU/docs/ClintonNATOEnlargement.htm
21: Ibid
22: Ibid
23: Ibid
24: Ibid
25: Ibid
26: Ibid
27: Ibid
28: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6034
29: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,986677,00.html
30: Ibid
31: http://www.disam.dsca.mil/pubs/v.21_4/Indyk_ME_Policy.pdf
32: Ibid
33: Ibid
34: Ibid
35: Ibid
36: Ibid
37: Ibid
38: Ibid
39: www.cepen.org/download/65/
40: Ibid
41: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/china/doctrine/97-0198.pdf
42: Ibid
43: Ibid
44: Ibid
45: Ibid
46: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/2007/MR1082.pdf
47: Ibid
48: Ibid
49: Ibid
50: http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm
51: Ibid
52: Ibid
53: http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf
54: Ibid
55: Ibid
56: Ibid

Devon DB is 19 years old and studies political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The New York prosecutor has had to tell the judge that the police and prosecutors have lost confidence in their sexual assault case against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The judge has released DSK from house arrest and returned his bail and bond money. 

The prosecutors say that the immigrant hotel maid lied to the police about the incident and about other things, and the police have revealed that the “victim” discussed with an imprisoned man the possibility of turning the case into extortion. According to the New York Times, the maid’s jailed confidant was among a number of people who had made multiple cash deposits totaling $100,000 to the maid’s bank account.  The police now suspect that the maid has connections to illegal drugs and money laundering.

The prosecutor says that he will continue to investigate the case.  What that means is that the prosecutor, a politically ambitious Cy Vance, is going for a misdemeanor plea from DSK to save the prosecutor’s face from injudiciously being drawn into an extortion/reputation-destroying plot against the man who French polls indicated was the public’s favorite in the upcoming French presidential election in which President Sarkozy, Washington’s puppet, is seeking reelection. The prosecutor is sending DSK’s legal team the message that the case is being kept open and could be reinstated unless DSK’s attorneys secure DSK’s permission to negotiate a deal on a minor charge, which essentially has no punishment, but saves the faces of the NY prosecutor and police.

We will probably never know whether the maid thought the scheme up on her own or whether it came from Sarkozy’s operatives and their US allies. One indication that DSK’s political enemies are implicated is the fact, made public by the French press, that Sarkozy’s political team in France knew about DSK’s arrest before the NY police announced it.  This fact did not stop the NY prosecutor and police from painting DSK as guilty in numerous public statements and in unethical if not illegal leaks to reporters. 

When police and prosecutors convict a suspect in the media before he is even charged, it typically means that there is no evidence against him and that demonization is serving as the substitute. Conviction is what is important to the system, not a determination of innocence or guilt.

On numerous Internet sites, I pointed out the problems with the case against DSK.  For informing people of the obvious, I was denounced by the right-wing and the left-wing.

The right-wing gave me the finger for doubting the word and integrity of police and prosecutor.  Didn’t I know that these are the honorable guardians who protect the public from crime?  How dare I question anything the police and prosecutor did or do. What was I, some kind of pinko-liberal-commie?

The left-wing also gave me the finger and said that I had revealed my real self as nothing but an apologist for the rich and powerful and for men who seduce women.  How much was I paid for my service to the rich and powerful and seducers of innocent women?

The feminist left denounced me as a misogynist. Only a woman-hater could take the side of a rapist against his victim.  

It is all so tiresome to endure the stupidity of people.  Little wonder they are losing their liberty, their jobs and incomes, and their country and self-respect.

With DSK’s reputation in tatters and DSK knocked out of the French presidential election and removed from the IMF, where he was beginning to raise questions about the establishment’s use of the IMF to bail out rich bankers on the backs of poor peasants, the “justice system” has done its work.  It is now safer for the authorities to release him than to risk a trial. The shrill bleating of the maid’s legal team signifies their agony at having lost their share of the hoped-to-be extorted millions now that a monetary settlement would clearly indicate obstruction of justice and prison for them all.

Those few who actually care about justice, not only for DSK and everyman, but also for the Greek, Spanish, Irish, and Portuguese people, can find comfort in the fact that apparently DSK had come to New York in order to speak with Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz about a more humane and democratic way to resolve the sovereign debt crisis in Europe than the one imposed by the private creditor banks.

Obviously, anyone who would consult with Stiglitz is perceived by the rich and powerful as a threat to their interest. 

However, this obvious fact has made no impression on the left-wing, which has issued its shrill cries that, once again, the money of the rich and powerful has prevailed over law and justice.  

 

VIDEO: The End of the American Dream?

July 1st, 2011 by Global Research

Greek Coastguard Intercepts Gaza Ship

July 1st, 2011 by Global Research

The Greek coastguard intercepted a boat carrying U.S. activists soon after they set sail from Greece on Friday to join a pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza, one of the activists said.

The boat, dubbed “The Audacity of Hope,” had just left Perama port, near Piraeus, for the open seas, a Reuters witness said.

A flotilla of boats planning to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is expected to sail next week, after repeated delays that activists blame on Israeli sabotage. Israel has denied the accusations.

“We are just here, two miles off Piraeus. We’ve been stopped by the coastguard, their ship maneuvered in front of us and they are now talking to the captain, they want us to turn around,” Ann Wright, one of the activists, told Reuters.

“We are non-violent, we pose no threat,” she added, saying that the group was informed of the sailing ban just as it was setting off.

Greek authorities said earlier on Friday that ships bound for Gaza were prohibited from leaving Greek ports.

It was not immediately clear how the boat’s departure would affect the overall flotilla plans.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Overwhelmed by the rising Missouri River, a 2000-foot stretch of a protective water balloon, surrounding the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska, collapsed at 1:25 AM on Sunday, June 26.

Two days earlier, Kansas State University reported an emergency when radiation leaked at 149 times the Derived Air Concentration (DAC) limit for Iodine during a trial run of its reactor.

Six and a half hours after the Ft Calhoun water berm collapsed, operators reported it to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, registering it as a “non-emergency.”

The NRC says there’s nothing to worry about. The flooding has “had no impact on the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling.”

Operating since 1973, Ft Calhoun filled its spent fuel cooling pool to capacity in 2006. The structure is 40 feet deep and 38 feet above ground.  Ft Calhoun then built a dry cask storage facility, circled below, which the NRC says does not need the AquaDam water berm:

On June 15, we first posted news about the threat to Nebraska’s nuclear plants, amid an apparent media blackout on the story. On June 23, the AP released its report of a year-long investigation into US nuclear plants indicating that 75% of them leak radiation.

Indeed, when Kansas State U ran its research reactor for 25 minutes on June 24, air quality monitors sounded the alarm that Iodine radiation had exceeded the DAC limit by 149 times above allowable levels, prompting KSU to declare an emergency.

Though four different systems caught the excessive radiation levels, operators reported their belief that this was due to the proximity of a radioactive sample near the monitors.  They did not disclose what kind of sample nor why it was near four different monitors, if that’s even possible. Plus, the sample they discuss showed Cesium, not Iodine.

On May 31, NRC Chief Gregory Jaczko defended the NRC against allegations it is too closely allied with plant operators.  He cited several examples where plants were ordered to hasten work on long overdue safety measures and applauded the NRC for its “transparency and openness.”

That transparency and openness didn’t apply to the events at both Nebraska’s nuclear power plants until after our June 15 article. It took a week for the NRC to mention it.

On June 21, Jaczko reported that the NRC ordered Ft Calhoun to beef up its flood response plan last year. He is confident that “the plant is very well positioned to ride out the current extreme Missouri River flooding while keeping the public safe.”

That same statement was reissued on June 26 after the collapse of the water berm, which is clearly part of Ft Calhoun’s flood response plan, along with sandbags and a mound of earth piled around the plant.

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen says that “sandbags and nuclear power plants should not be in the same sentence.”

Keep in mind as these events unfold that nuclear power plants provide about 40 years of electricity while producing radioactive waste that lasts thousands of years. Despite this reality, the NRC is currently developing plans for safe storage of nuclear waste up to only 300 years. (See SECY-11-0029)

Chief Jaczko joins with Senator Harry Reid and President Obama in refusing to bury the nation’s nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, which has long been deemed unsafe.  Funding for the project was cut in 2010, though the issue is still mired in litigation.

Off planet is the safest repository, given the danger posed to Earth by millennia of radioactivity. Professor Benjamin Sovacool calls nuclear energy the deadliest, costliest form of energy on record, showing that, on average, there has been one nuclear accident resulting in at least $330 million in damage every year for the past 30 years.

“The meltdown of a 500-megawatt reactor located 30 miles from a city would cause the immediate death of an estimated 45,000 people, injure roughly another 70,000, and cause $17 billion in property damage.”

That’s what we have at Ft Calhoun — a 500 MW reactor 20 miles north of Omaha.

Check back with us for updates.

Treatments for Radiation Poisoning

July 1st, 2011 by Washington's Blog

You’ve heard that potassium iodide helps protect against some types of radiation.

In fact, it only protects against iodine 131 poisoning (and, if not needed, may cause severe adverse reactions in some individuals).

But there are actually different treatments for different types of radiation.

The following chart provided by the Food and Drug Administration summarizes the treatments for exposure to various radioactive elements (click chart for better image):

Prussian blue is taken to minimize damage from cesium. As FDA notes:

The FDA has determined that the 500 mg Prussian blue capsules, when manufactured under the conditions of an approved New Drug Application (NDA), can be found safe and effective for the treatment of known or suspected internal contamination with radioactive cesium, radioactive thallium, or non-radioactive thallium. This decision is based on a careful review of published literature articles containing reports, data, and experiences of people who were exposed to high levels of thallium or cesium-137 and were treated effectively with Prussian blue.

***

Prussian blue works using a mechanism known as ion exchange. Cesium or thallium that have been absorbed into the body are removed by the liver and passed into the intestine and are then re-absorbed into the body (entero-hepatic circulation). Prussian blue works by trapping thallium and cesium in the intestine, so that they can be passed out of the body in the stool rather than be re-absorbed. If persons are exposed to radioactive cesium, radioactive thallium, or non-radioactive thallium, taking Prussian blue may reduce the risk of death and major illness from radiation or poisoning.

And see this.

DTPA is taken to reduce damage from plutonium, as well as americium and curium. FDA reports:

The FDA has determined that Ca-DTPA and Zn-DTPA are safe and effective for treating internal contamination with plutonium, americium, or curium. The drugs increase the rate of elimination of these radioactive materials from the body.

Sodium bicarbonate plus diuretics (things which increase urine output) may reduce damage from uranium. FDA notes:

Uranium contamination has been treated with oral sodium bicarbonate, regulated to maintain an alkaline urine pH, and accompanied by diuretics. Oral sodium bicarbonate has not been approved in the United States for this indication.

Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda. While I have no idea whether it is true or not, many alternative people advocate bathing in baking soda after being exposed to uranium.

And see this.

Note: I am not a medical professional and this does not constitute medical or health advice. This is for general informational purposes only. Some or all of the above-described substances may have severe side effects or – if used improperly – may cause more damage than they prevent. Don’t take any of these preventatively … only if exposed to high levels of radiation. Consult your doctor before taking any of the above medicines.

The US government has been increasing aggressive actions against the Chavez administration in an attempt to isolate the major petroleum producing nation and aid in ousting the Venezuelan President

During a hearing last Friday, June 24, in the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Representatives regarding “Sanctionable Activities in Venezuela”, democrats and republicans requested the Obama administration take more aggressive actions against the government of Hugo Chavez. The head of the Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs for the Western Hemisphere, Connie Mack, a Florida Republican, branded the Venezuelan government “terrorist”, saying “it’s time to act to contain the dangerous influence of Hugo Chavez and his relations with Iran”.

Mack is known for his rabid anti-Chavez stance. But however “obsessed” he may seem with the Venezuelan President, the republican congressman does have influence in the legislature due to his high ranking in the Foreign Relations Committee. His efforts, along with those of the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, Florida republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, convinced the White House to impose sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) last May 24. Mack has said that his only objective this year is “get Hugo Chavez”.

Last Friday’s hearing, devoted entirely to Venezuela, was attended by senior officials of the State Department, the Treasury Department and the Office of Foreign Assets Control. In testimony before the Committee, the Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Latin America, Kevin Whitaker, revealed the Obama administration is “seriously considering” labeling Venezuela a “terrorist state”. “No option is off the table and the Department will continue to study any further action as may be necessary in the future”, said Whitaker.

The unilateral sanctions imposed on PDVSA came under the US Iran Sanctions Act, and include the prohibition of entering into contracts with the US government, loans from the US Import-Export Bank and certain technological licenses and patents. Nonetheless, this hostile action towards Venezuela did not have any real economic impact against the South American country because it no longer has agreements with the US government or loans from US banks. Furthermore, the sanctions did not affect the important oil supply from Venezuela to the US or the operations of PDVSA’s subsidiary in US territory, CITGO.

However, the sanctions had an impact on diplomatic relations between Caracas and Washington, which were already in a period of deterioration. After the latter’s aggressive actions, the Venezuelan government declared relations with the United States “frozen”.

DANGEROUS TO DO BUSINESS WITH PDVSA

According to the State Department, sanctions against PDVSA, while not impacting the country economically, “give a message to the world that it is dangerous to do business with Venezuela and PDVSA”, indicating that in the near future, Washington could act against those who enter into contracts or agreements with Venezuelan companies.

SANCTIONS AGAINST CONVIASA

The lawmakers also demanded the State Department impose sanctions against the Venezuelan airline CONVIASA because of what they consider “support for terrorism”, based on flights between Caracas, Syria and Iran. Without a shred of evidence, the congressmembers claimed the flight, which is no longer operating, was “carrying radioactive material, weapons, drugs and known terrorists of Hezbollah and Iran”.

To support this dangerous “accusation”, they cited a German newspaper, Die Welt, which had falsely published days before that Venezuela and Iran were building a missile base in western Venezuelan to “attack the United States”. In response to this misinformation, President Hugo Chavez showed footage of a windmill farm in same the location where “sources” had indicated the fictional Iranian military base was located.

MORE SANCTIONS

Congress also implored the State Department to consider applying more sanctions against Venezuela, including “a ban on US imports” and “transactions in dollars”. Representatives of the White House said that although they are considering further action against the government of Hugo Chavez, which they consider to be “an adversarial government”, they must take into account the significant supply of Venezuelan oil, which comprises 15% of US imports. Just days ago, President Barack Obama authorized oil exploitation in an environmentally protected area in Alaska, indicating that Washington is seeking to secure its energy needs before breaking the relationship with Venezuela.

SANCTIONS TO DATE

In addition to the sanctions imposed against PDVSA in May, Washington already has taken aggressive actions against the Venezuelan government. In June 2006, the US classified Venezuela as a country that “does not cooperate sufficiently with the fight against terrorism” and imposed sanctions prohibiting US arms sales to Venezuela or those from any company in the world using US technology.

Since 2005, Washington also has classified Venezuela as a country that does not “cooperate in the fight against drug trafficking,” which should carry a financial penalty against the South American country. Yet, Washington clarified that since Venezuela has no loans in the US, the only support that could be cut would be those millions of dollars given annually to opposition groups who work to undermine the Chavez government. In order to avoid reducing those funds, the US included an exception to this penalty, stating it “would not affect US economic support to “pro-democracy civil society organizations”, thus ensuring continued support for the destabilization of Venezuela.

In 2007, the US Treasury Department sanctioned three senior Venezuelan officials, accusing them of ties to terrorism and drug trafficking, though the allegations were unsubstantiated. The officials included the Director of Military Intelligence, General Hugo Carvajal, ex Director of Bolivarian Intelligence (SEBIN), General Henry Rangel and ex Minister of Interior and Justice, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin.

The following year, the Treasury Department designated two Venezuelans of Syrian origin, Fawzi Kan’an and Ghazi Nasr al Din, as providing material support for terrorism based on alleged links to Hezbollah, considered a terrorist group by the United States.

All indications are that Washington will continue to increase aggression against Venezuela with future sanctions and attempts to demonize, isolate and discredit the Chavez administration.

(Image: Jose Bove)

On June 28, 2011, the court of Poitiers in central France acquitted eight defendant Volunteer Reapers (les Faucheurs Volontaires) for destroying a genetically modified field trial in 2008.

Among those acquitted were anti-globalist Jose Bove and Francois Dufour, recognized as “repeat offenders.”  

The court also dismissed Monsanto’s financial claims. Apart from their own legal expenses, the Reapers owe nothing for the 2008 mowing of a GM field trial of Monsanto’s GM corn, Mon810 x Nk603.

The trial marked the third court victory for Volunteer Reapers. Previously, the Chartres 58 and the Orleans 49 were also acquitted, notes the Inf’OGM press release.

The Poitiers decision relied on a technical issue which recognized that the wrong charges were brought against the group since they destroyed a GM field trial, not GM crops being commercially grown.

In 2008, the law was changed to differentiate destruction of a commercial field from a field trial, the latter being considered a “thought crime” rather than destruction of property.

“As the sprinkler waters, the prosecutor and Monsanto are tripped in the process they themselves have established,” notes Inf’OGM.

Though Monsanto said it will not appeal this case, prosecutors have the option of bringing new charges under the correct law, and Monsanto has the option of pursuing civil charges.

 

As I noted Tuesday, raging wildfires are threatening the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

As Reuters reported the same day:

The fire … surrounds the lab complex and adjacent town of Los Alamos on three sides.

Today, Associated Press provides details on the size of the fire:

A wildfire that is threatening the nation’s premier nuclear weapons laboratory … is poised to become the largest fire in state history.

The fire near Los Alamos has charred nearly 145 square miles, or 92,735 acres.

***

They’re bracing for winds that could gust up to 40 mph Thursday afternoon.

ABC quotes the lab’s former top security official to give some perspective on the danger:

“It contains approximately 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste,” former top [Los Alamos National Lab] security official Glen Walp said. “It’s not contained within a concrete, brick and mortar-type building, but rather in a sort of fabric-type building that a fire could easily consume.

“Potential is high for a major calamity if the fire would reach these areas,” he added.

Yahoo News notes that the fire is getting close to the drums of plutonium:

[ T]he plant is reportedly home to 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste. As of Thursday morning, the flames were reportedly two miles away from this waste. “The concern is that these drums will get so hot that they’ll burst,” says Joni Arends, executive director of the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. There is also concern that the fire could stir up nuclear-contaminated soil left over from years of testing, sending the nuclear waste into the plumes of smoke hovering over the area.

ABC reports today:

Along with what’s actually on lab property, there is concern about what’s in the canyons that surround the sprawling complex. Nuclear tests were performed in the canyons dating back to the 1940s; so-called “legacy contaminations.”

“The trees have grown up during that timeframe, and the soil can also be contaminated. If they get heated and that stuff goes air borne, then we are concerned,” Rita Bates of the New Mexico Environment Department said.

As Los Alamos lab expert Peter Stockton told Time:

[We just have to] hope to hell that the wind blows in the right direction.

To add insult to injury, lightning is forecast for the Los Alamos area.

How the Bailout Killed Local Lending

July 1st, 2011 by Ellen Brown

“Wall Street banks have cut back on small business lending… [by] more than double the cutback in overall lending.… [Small business] options just keep disappearing.” -Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel

The Wall Street bailout of 2008 has radically altered the banking business. The bailout was supposed to keep credit flowing to Main Street, but it has wound up having the opposite effect. Small and medium-sized businesses have traditionally been the main engines for increasing employment, and they need bank credit for their working capital; but today credit to local businesses has collapsed nearly everywhere.

That’s why so many states—the total is now fourteen—are considering turning to state-owned banks to get local credit flowing again.

The Bailout that Missed Main Street

The credit collapse of September 2008 was triggered by the speculative activities of giant Wall Street banks. These profligate banks, which would have gone bankrupt without federal support, have emerged from the crisis bigger and more powerful than before. The federal government has supported and subsidized bank consolidation, resulting in the elimination of more than a thousand community banks by takeover or failure.

The five largest banks now hold 40 percent of all deposits and 48 percent of all bank assets. These banks—Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and PNC—currently control more deposits than the next largest 45 banks combined.

They are big, they are powerful, and they have lost interest in local lending. In the past three years, the four largest banks have cut back on small business lending by a full 53 percent. The two banks that were the largest recipients of TARP funds, Bank of America and Citigroup, have cut back on local lending by 94 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

Why? In 2010, the six largest bank holding companies made a combined $75 billion; and of this, $56 billion was in trading revenues—income from speculating in derivatives, futures, commodities, and currencies. If the too-big-to-fail banks win on these bets, they win big and can pocket the proceeds. If they lose, the federal government can be relied on to bail them out. In those comfortable circumstances, why lend to risky local businesses that might go bankrupt, or to homeowners who might default?

Why Banks Aren’t Lending Locally

Another perk of the bailout that has put a tourniquet on local lending involve interest rates. The Federal Reserve dropped the Fed funds rate (the rate at which banks lend to each other) to an extremely low 0 to 0.25 percent. It was a very good deal for the big banks—too good to be wasted on local lending. As Dirk van Dijk, writing for the investor website Zacks.com, explained in April 2010:

Keeping short-term rates low should be good for the stock market, and is particularly helpful to the big banks like Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan (JPM). Their raw material is short-term money, which is effectively free right now. They can borrow at 0.25% or less, and then turn around and invest those funds in, say, a 5-year T-note at 2.50%, locking in an almost risk-free profit of 2.25%.

On big enough sums of money, this can be very profitable, and will help to recapitalize the banking system (provided they don’t drain capital by paying it out in dividends or frittering it away in outrageous bonuses to their top executives).

It can be very profitable indeed for the big Wall Street banks, but the purpose of the near-zero interest rates was supposed to be to get banks to lend again. Instead, they are, indeed, paying “outrageous bonuses to their top executives;” using the money to engage in the same sort of unregulated speculation that nearly brought down the economy in 2008; buying up smaller banks; or investing this virtually interest-free money in risk-free government bonds, on which taxpayers are paying 2.5 percent interest (more for longer-term securities).

Investing in Treasury bills is an attractive alternative for banks, not just because it provides 2.25% of risk-free profit but because it requires no capital investment. The amount of capital a bank must hold against its assets (mainly loans) depends on how risky the assets are. Treasuries are considered “risk-free,” so there is NO capital requirement for holding them. Naturally, banks prefer investing in Treasuries under these circumstances over making risky loans, against which they must maintain capital reserves of 7%. The banks can borrow virtually for free and make a nice return at taxpayer expense without tying up their capital, which can be used instead to speculate in the market.

And speculation is particularly lucrative at these very low interest rates. As blogger Philip George explains:

The entities who really benefit from low interest rates are hedge funds and traders of financial instruments. Typically, they take advantage of mispricings of securities amounting to a few cents. And how do they parlay such tiny mispricings into incomes amounting to tens and hundreds of millions of dollars? By leveraging their equity ten, fifty, or a hundred times. And of course they can do that only if money is dirt-cheap.

Equally important, this hurts the producers of real goods and services who are looking for loans. At present the prime rate is around 3.25%. What self-respecting bank would lend at 5% or even 10% and wait a whole year when they can earn more in just a few weeks by trading in financial instruments?

Even when banks do deign to use their nearly-interest-free funds to support loans, they typically do not pass these very low rates on to borrowers. For example, the Fed funds rate was lowered by 5 percentage points between August 2007 and December 2008, but during the same period the 30 year fixed mortgage rate dropped by less than 1 percent, from 6.75 percent to only about 6 percent; today it is still at 4.5 percent.

State-owned Banks to the Rescue?

With lending to Main Street still anemic, some states are taking matters into their own hands and considering legislation that would put local credit back into the local economy. Fourteen states have now initiated legislation for state-owned banks based on the model of the Bank of North Dakota (BND), which provides liquidity for local banks and credit lines for local government. North Dakota has not lost a single bank to insolvency over the last decade.

Other ways in which the BND supports local lending are detailed in a Demos report by Jason Judd and Heather McGhee titled “Banking on America: How Main Street Partnership Banks Can Improve Local Economies.” They write:

Alone among states, North Dakota had the wherewithal to keep credit moving to small businesses when they needed it most. BND’s business lending actually grew from 2007 to 2009 (the tightest months of the credit crisis) by 35 percent. BND accomplished this through participation loans, in which BND contributes to a community bank’s loan, in order to free up the bank’s capital for more lending. Other tools that boost bank lending power and lower interest rates include purchases of community bank stock and—together with the state’s targeted economic development programs—interest rate buy-downs. As a result, loan amounts per capita for small banks in North Dakota are fully 175% higher than the U.S. average in the last five years, and its banks have stronger loan-to-asset ratios than comparable states like Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana.

While we wait for the Fed to reform its monetary policy and for Congress to break up the banking monoliths, we can follow the lead of North Dakota and set up our own local credit engines. State-owned banks can not only nurture and protect local lending but can provide cash-strapped states with new revenues—without raising taxes, slashing services, or selling off public assets.

First posted by Yes! Magazine.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, author, and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how the power to create money has been usurped from the people, and how we can get it back. Her websites are http://webofdebt.com and http://ellenbrown.com. For information on specific state bank legislation, see here.

Strauss-Kahn Case Seen as in Jeopardy

by Jim Dwyer, William K. Rashbaum and John Eligon.

The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.

Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors now do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.

Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Senior prosecutors met with lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn on Thursday and provided details about their findings, and the parties are discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges. Among the discoveries, one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to people involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will return to State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday morning, when Justice Michael J. Obus is expected to consider easing the extraordinary bail conditions that he imposed on Mr. Strauss-Kahn in the days after he was charged.

Indeed, Mr. Strauss-Kahn could be released on his own recognizance, and freed from house arrest, reflecting the likelihood that the serious charges against him will not be sustained. The district attorney’s office may try to require Mr. Strauss-Kahn to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, but his lawyers are likely to contest such a move.

The revelations are a stunning change of fortune for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, who was considered a strong contender for the French presidency before being accused of sexually assaulting the woman who went to clean his luxury suite at the Sofitel New York.

Prosecutors from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who initially were emphatic about the strength of the case and the account of the victim, plan to tell the judge on Friday that they “have problems with the case” based on what their investigators have discovered, and will disclose more of their findings to the defense. The woman still maintains that she was attacked, the officials said.

“It is a mess, a mess on both sides,” one official said.

According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.

That man, the investigators learned, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana. He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.

The investigators also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five companies. The woman had insisted she had only one phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends.

In addition, one of the officials said, she told investigators that her application for asylum included mention of a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application. She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application.

A lawyer for the woman, Kenneth Thompson, could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday evening.

In recent weeks, Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Benjamin Brafman and William W. Taylor III, have made it clear that they would make the credibility of the woman a focus of their case. In a May 25 letter, they said they had uncovered information that would “gravely undermine the credibility” of the accuser.

Still, it was the prosecutor’s investigators who found the information about the woman.

The case involving Mr. Strauss-Kahn has made international headlines and renewed attention on accusations that he had behaved inappropriately toward women in the past, while, more broadly, prompting soul-searching among the French about the treatment of women.

The revelations about the investigators’ findings are likely to buttress the view of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s supporters, who complained that the American authorities had rushed to judgment in the case.

Some of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s allies even contended that he had been set up by his political rivals, an assertion that law enforcement authorities said there was no evidence to support.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn resigned from his post as managing director of the International Monetary Fund in the wake of the housekeeper’s accusations and was required to post $1 million bail and a $5 million bond.

He also agreed to remain under 24-hour home confinement while wearing an ankle monitor and providing a security team and an armed guard at the entrance and exit of the building where he was living. The conditions are costing Mr. Strauss-Kahn $250,000 a month.

Prosecutors had sought the restrictive conditions in part by arguing that the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn was a strong one, citing a number of factors, including the credibility of his accuser, with one prosecutor saying her story was “compelling and unwavering.”

In the weeks after making her accusations, the woman, who arrived in the United States from Guinea in 2002, was described by relatives and friends as an unassuming and hard-working immigrant with a teenage daughter. She had no criminal record, and had been a housekeeper at the Sofitel for a few years, they said.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn was such a pariah in the initial days after the arrest that neighbors of an Upper East Side apartment building objected when he and his wife tried to rent a unit there. He eventually rented a three-story town house on Franklin Street in TriBeCa.

Under the relaxed conditions of bail to be requested on Friday, the district attorney’s office would retain Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s passport but he would be permitted to travel within the United States.

The woman told the authorities that she had gone to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s suite to clean it and that he emerged naked from the bathroom and attacked her. The formal charges accused him of ripping her pantyhose, trying to rape her and forcing her to perform oral sex; his lawyers say there is no evidence of force and have suggested that any sex was consensual.

After the indictment was filed, Mr. Vance spoke briefly on the courthouse steps addressing hundreds of local and foreign reporters who had been camped out in front of the imposing stone edifice. He characterized the charges as “extremely serious” and said the “evidence supports the commission of nonconsensual forced sexual acts.”

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Mr. Brafman and Mr. Taylor, declined to comment on Thursday evening.

The case was not scheduled to return to court until July 18.

Pictures, video and audio of an encounter between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro evidence the South American President is recovering satisfactorily after surgery to remove a pelvic abscess and minor tumor

UPDATE JUNE 30, 9:30PM CARACAS:

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ JUST SPOKE BEFORE THE NATION AND INFORMED THAT SUBSEQUENT TO THE SURGERY TO REMOVE HIS PELVIC ABSCESS, WHICH WENT WELL, HE SHOWED SOME SIGNS OF FURTHER PROBLEMS DURING THE RECOVERY PERIOD AND THEN HAD FURTHER TESTS WHICH DISCOVERED A SMALL CANCEROUS TUMOR WHICH WAS REMOVED IMMEDIATELY AND SUCCESSFULLY IN ITS ENTIRETY. HE INFORMED THAT HE IS RECOVERING VERY WELL, AS EXPECTED AND SHOULD BE IN FULL FORM QUITE SOON.

Much hype has been made about the state of President Hugo Chavez’s health. International media have perpetuated numerous unfounded rumors claiming the Venezuelan head of state is in critical condition, has cancer, is in a coma or even passed away. These media outlets, which range from notoriously reactionary anti-Chavez press such as El Pais (Spain), Fox News and the Miami Herald (and its Spanish version, El Nuevo Herald) to the somewhat more respectable BBC, NPR, CNN, New York Times and Washington Post, have all circulated these wild myths and stories about President Chavez’s condition, without presenting any evidence to substantiate their allegations.

Apparently, making things up about a sitting president, who happens to have a very public, controversial image, is good for ratings. Social networks online have exacerbated the issue even more, engaging in what could only be considered a frenzied orgy of ficticious stories about the Venezuelan President’s health. Some tweeters have “killed” Chavez several times already, while others have invented every possible ailment known to humanity and claimed he has it.

Private Venezuelan media have been equally as disgraceful, circulating the same rumors promoted in international press and online, and creating others. Some have gone so far as to claim President Chavez is “inventing his ailment” to “gain political points and sympathies” from his followers. One columnist who writes for a major national daily, El Universal, has dedicated his notoriously rumor-based articles to Chavez’s health since the Venezuelan chief underwent surgery for a pelvic abscess on June 10. This alleged “journalist”, Nelson Bocaranda, has defamed and slandered President Chavez, and gravely misinformed the public by writing that Chavez has prostate cancer and has been undergoing radioactive treatment in a specialized clinic in Havana. Nothing could be further from the truth.

TWISTING THE FACTS

Much of the false information about President Chavez circulating in public opinion originated from an article published in El Nuevo Herald, claiming “US intelligence officials” informed the Miami publication the Venezuelan President was suffering from a “terminal illness”. Even State Department officials, during a Congressional hearing on Venezuela last week in the House Committee on Foreign Relations, alleged they had information about President Chavez they couldn’t “make public”.

CNN in Spanish has been doing sensational nightly programs on the Venezuelan leader’s health situation, bringing in “experts” on every possible ailment Chavez is claimed to be suffering from, and morbidly analyzing the “consequences” of his “tragic downfall”. CNN in English has also done segments ridiculously inquiring “Where in the world is Hugo Chavez?” when from the beginning of his surgery it was of public knowledge that the Venezuelan President was recovering in Cuba.

Most of these media, and those who own them, would be overjoyed to have the polemic leftist President out of the picture for good. These same media have “killed” Fidel Castro dozens of times over the years, only to bite their tongues every time the Cuban leader makes public appearances, energized and astute for an 84-year old revolutionary.

The overly-exaggerated reaction to Chavez’s health has in large part resulted from the habitual public appearances he’s made during the past 12 years, which everyone – literally everywhere – has grown accustomed to. His absence from the limelight has left a massive hole in media that report on Venezuela. Even those from opposition groups and political parties in Venezuela have been left at a loss without President Chavez. 

When he’s here, the opposition wants him gone, and has attempted everything from coup d’etats, economic sabotages, assassination attempts and even calling for foreign intervention, to get him out. When he’s temporarily absent, they want him back. When photographs and video images were shown of him from his recovery location in Havana, opposition spokespeople and media demanded he make a speech. When he’s in Venezuela making speeches and talking on television, they want him silenced. As they say in Venezuela, “Chavez has them all crazy” (Chavez los tiene locos).

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

The truth is, within hours of his surgery for a pelvic abscess on the verge of bursting – which could be very dangerous and requires immediate drainage – the Venezuelan government informed the public of his status. Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro read a statement that Friday, June 10 on live television from Cuba, where the President had made a final stop on a Latin American tour. The surgery was successful and the Venezuelan head of state just needed to recover. Two days later, Chavez himself called into a live television show on Telesur and spoke for about 20 minutes about the operation and his current status, as well as his road to recovery and full capacity to continue leading the government from his hospital bed. After all, he was not mentally incapacitated, just temporarily physically debilitated from the intervention. 

Chavez also explained that the incision to drain the abscess had been “deep”, and as a precaution, biopsies were taken to ensure he had no signs of anything malignant. “The tests all came back negative, nothing malignant”, the Venezuelan President assured the public on live television.

But during the days post-op, media coverage of Chavez’s health rapidly deteriorated into a vampiric binge of false information attempting to portray the Venezuelan leader as “critically ill”. Many claimed the myths they were spreading were due to a level of “secrecy” about the President’s condition. But everyday, high level officials from the government publicly informed about his progress and revealed they were in constant communication with him. Where was the secrecy?

Apparently, when media, yellow-journalists and politicians don’t hear what they want to hear, they make things up and blame the government for lack of information. He just had surgery on a very sensitive part of his body and is in recovery and rehab. Everything he had has been removed and he’s healing well. For someone who is generally extremely energetic and hasn’t rested or taken vacation in 12 years, one month of post-op recovery is a miminum of what he needs and deserves to get back to his usual self.

Despite his absence from the public eye, with the exception of the video footage shown this week on Cuban and Venezuelan television – which showed a thinner, but solid Chavez, talking with the same passion and fire as always – the President has been running the government at a normal pace, signing bills into laws, approving budgets and overseeing his cabinet member’s activities. Everything has been moving forward as usual. There is no lack of governance in Venezuela. 

And soon, Chavez will be back in the limelight running the show and the usual suspects will be complaining, once again, about his mighty presence.

The Labor Movement in Oregon Takes a Step Forward

July 1st, 2011 by Shamus Cooke

The Labor Movement in Oregon Takes a Step Forward
By Shamus Cooke

On only the second sunny weekend of the year in Portland, Oregon, 60 plus labor activists decided to spend their Saturday at the Electricians union hall (IBEW Local 48), at the United Labor Strategy Meeting — an event unlike any other happening in the country. What made the meeting unique was both its perspective and the diversity of unions that participated.  
 

The meeting was initiated by the Stewards Council of Laborers Union, Local 483 and was endorsed by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 49 and co-sponsored by the Southwest Washington Labor Council, Painters 10, and the Mt. Hood Community College Faculty Association. Jobs With Justice helped build the event while the 51,000-member SEIU 503 sent a speaker.  Many other unions were well represented also. Although the majority of attendees were rank-and-file union activists, there were several local union presidents and vice presidents, union staff organizers, regional organizers, and other union leaders present. 

Ed Henderson, Business Agent of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 in San Francisco, came to speak on the attack his union is facing by being sued by the Pacific Maritime Association. The employers group filed the suit because the rank-and-file members of Local 10 refused to work on April 4, 2011, as part of a national day of action in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.

The United Labor Strategy Meeting was based upon and was modeled after a resolution by the San Francisco Labor Council, calling on the AFL-CIO and Change to Win union federations to organize massive demonstrations to demand a federal public works/jobs program, no cuts to education and social services, no concessions by public workers, and no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, all to be paid for by taxing Wall Street and the wealthy.

The specific nature of the demands as well as their proposed solution is what separates the perspective of this meeting from others. In particular, the demands were carefully crafted to reflect the most pressing concerns of most Americans, as evidenced by poll after poll. Because of their overwhelming popularity, these are the issues that have the potential to activate millions of working people. And they have already been embraced by the AFL-CIO, which has the capacity to organize massive demonstrations. So in this respect, these demands can unite the entire labor movement and galvanize it into action.

The conference concluded with an action plan: those who attended agreed to propose resolutions in their union locals, central labor councils and state labor federations that would call on the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to organize massive demonstrations to demand that the government implement these basic, popular demands.

The focus of this conference was sharp: it avoided including a long list of demands on all types of issues that, while morally compelling to many people, are divisive within the labor movement and thus would serve as obstacles to inspiring working people to act.  The purpose of this conference was to spark action, not generate a list of subjective preferences that would simply reflect the moral standing of the attendees.

Once the united labor movement is activated and mobilized for these demands, the consciousness of working people will undergo a change. Just as soldiers on the battlefield develop lifelong friendships, working people putting up a fight for demands that are in everyone’s interests develop a deep camaraderie with one another.  And in this context they begin to develop a deeper sympathy for the different particular types of exploitation that various sectors of the labor movement are subjected to: for example, racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. This is because the united struggle of working people towards a common goal breaks down artificial and social barriers. When workers collectively fight for jobs, they’ll realize that their commonality is much deeper than their differences in relation to ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, race or gender. This dynamic is the basis for truly widening labor’s perspective, but it requires mobilizing to put up a fight first. For this reason, pushing unions to wage a real fight in their own defense was one of the central ideas of the Portland conference.  

The labor movement is also plagued by organizational divisions, whether it be the AFL-CIO/Change to Win split or the ongoing jurisdictional squabbling that infects public sector unions, the building trades, and private sector unions. All these divisions are despised by rank-and-file workers everywhere, since they are obvious failures of union policy that negatively affect all workers’ standards of living.  

To help overcome divisions at the Portland meeting, breakout groups were first set up according to union sector: building trades, public workers, and private sector. These groups each discussed how barriers could be overcome between unions, what issues all unions could agree on, and how to achieve these goals. Predictably, the report-backs from the breakout groups announced that money for jobs was the main uniting demand, since building trades workers have suffered from high unemployment during the recession, while public workers are being laid off or suffer from hiring freezes, resulting in higher work loads for the remaining workforce. The breakout groups commented favorably on the San Francisco Labor Council resolution, the main principles of which were made available to all attendees at the sign-in table.  

Another central focus of the breakout groups was how labor’s reliance on the Democrats was preventing progress for working people, since many union leaders still believe that making deals with Democrats can bring sufficient results. However, that notion is fading rapidly as Democratic governors and Democratic politicians across the country are going after public sector workers health care and pensions, as well as bargaining rights. But as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka explained at the National Press Club, “[w]e have a jobs crisis which after three years is still raging, squeezing families, devastating our poorest communities and stunting the futures of young adults. Yet politicians of both parties tell us that we can — and should — do nothing.” (January 19, 2011). The Democrats’ lack of response to the Great Recession has led Trumka to also call for a strong, independent labor movement.   

For an independent labor movement to be powerful enough to effect political change, labor unions must organize actions that can galvanize both labor and community groups. At the Portland meeting several strategies were discussed for unions to be more independently powerful. For example, Wisconsin-style mass demonstrations to protect public employees; labor-initiated state ballot measures that addressed the states’ deficit crises by taxing the rich; organizing public forums, door knocking, and phone banks to educate the public for the need for progressive taxation; and a protracted effort by unions for a massive public works campaign to create millions of jobs.  

Again, these demands are not radical departures from the stated goals of the labor movement. The AFL-CIO has gone on record demanding that the federal government create millions of jobs by taxing Wall Street and demanding that there be no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, while arguing that the best way to fight the deficit is to create jobs. The California Teachers Association is waging an aggressive campaign to tax the wealthy, which, if enacted, would bring $20 billion of revenue into California’s budget. National Nurses United (NNU) is demanding that Wall Street pay for the Great Recession, with slogans such as: “Heal America! Tax Wall Street!” It recently opened a campaign to push for this demand, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle: “’It’s not about Obama or the Republicans – it’s about the system,’ said [NNU President] DeMoro, who wants to narrow the power gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else. ‘You can’t accomplish that by going through the political parties.’” (June 24, 2011).

The purpose of the Portland meeting was for union activists in Oregon and Washington to encourage their unions to wage an aggressive fight for these demands. Oregon already has the experience of labor unions working together to pass a temporary “tax the rich and corporations” bill by means of a statewide ballot measure that helped close the gap of the deficit of the previous budget. Although the mainstream Oregon media said that the law would never pass, unions pursued a determined campaign to explain the growing inequalities in wealth and the declining tax rates of the wealthy and the corporations. Union activists were energized by the campaign and filled phone banks to the brim to educate others about it. But a new budget deficit in Oregon requires that a new, permanent tax be implemented, to protect both social services and the wages and benefits of public workers. 
 
At the end of the Portland meeting an action plan was adopted. The strategy of the conference was for attendees to agree to organize within their unions to pass resolutions modeled on the one passed by the San Francisco Labor Council. Using the resolution as an organizing tool, attendees were encouraged to talk with their co-workers, stewards, and leadership about working to put the ideas of the resolution into action. A continuations committee was announced and a majority of the attendees agreed to attend future meetings to encourage their unions to ignite a campaign to achieve these demands. At the end of the day all present were inspired by their experience and were excited about working with the committee to make future victories possible. The meeting in Portland was in many ways an example for other cities to follow. Similar strategy meetings could be held, organized over similar principles, with the overall goal to unite the labor movement over demands that will certainly spur their members into action. 

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)  He can be reached at [email protected] 

Food and The American Diet

July 1st, 2011 by Rady Ananda

Oh, gag me with a bowl of propaganda. The National Archives is hosting an historical exhibit on government say in what we eat and grow and how to cook it: “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam: The Government’s Effect on the American Diet.” From the opening lines of the website, you know our control freak “Uncle” has launched another major psyops campaign to convince us that Government Knows Best when it comes to food: 

“We demand that our Government ensure that it is safe, cheap, and abundant. In response, Government has been a factor in the production, regulation, research, innovation, and economics of our food supply.” 

Though painting Uncle Sam as Mrs. Doubtfire, when it comes to the results of government intrusion into the food supply, he’s more like Joseph Mengele. Over the last hundred years, we’ve seen climbing rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and neurological disorders, thanks to Uncle Sam’s “regulation” of food additives and environmental pollutants.  We’ve also seen the number of farms decline by 98%. 

Kerry Trueman of Eating Liberally is only too happy to regurgitate the promotion of government control of food, pointing out when Uncle Sam actually provides a social safety net, to wit: the SNAP program, otherwise known as food stamps. 

She fails to mention that 184 House Democrats (along with 217 Republicans) just voted to make deep cuts in US food assistance in the 2012 Agricultural Appropriations bill (HR 2112), which I summarized here, based on the analysis of several different experts, and my own stumbling thru the massive bill. 

One piece I relied on, by Congressmen Sam Farr and Norman Dicks, points out that though the Women, Infants and Children program got a slight boost, the $6 billion budget nowhere near meets the needs of the 50 million+ US citizens who live in poverty, most of them women and children. That’s less than $150 per year for each hungry person. 

But, hey, how about those foreign resource wars that Uncle Sam funds to the tune of $1.2 trillion

Two years ago, the estimate of those in poverty reached 47 million. Since then, unemployment has boomed while the number of jobs has declined. You do the math; I’m sure the number of those truly living in poverty is much higher than 50 million, though recent government figures assert that the number in poverty hovers at 40 million. 

Trueman hails a feature of SNAP that allows recipients to buy seeds and vegetable plants. Yes, that is a good feature. Too bad that HR 2112 made the following cuts, note Farr and Dicks: 

“Funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which serves predominantly low-income seniors, is $138.5 million. This is $38 million (22%) below the 2012 request and $37 million (21%) below 2011. 

“Funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which works with states to assist food banks, is $38 million. This is $12 million (24%) below the 2012 request, and about $11 million (23%) below 2011. The bill also cuts $51 million (20%) from the funding that TEFAP receives annually from the SNAP program. 

“The bill reduces the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program to $15 million, which is $5 million (25%) below the $20 million level that has been provided for many years. The program gives vouchers to WIC participants for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at state-approved farmers’ markets.” 

Trueman does acknowledge that Big Ag’s lobby has twisted Uncle Sam’s arm to the detriment of the public, but fails to acknowledge that the Obama Administration is well known for appointing those lobbyists to key positions. 

* He’s got Monsanto heading his newly created Food Safety czar in the person of Michael Taylor, whom Jeffrey Smith describes as the “person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history.” 

* Obama appointed biotech poster boy Tom Vilsack as head of the USDA, who’s been sued twice so far for violating law by approving genetically modified crops without proper environmental assessments. 

* He made Monsanto lobbyist and pesticide-pusher Islam Siddiqui the US Ag Trade Representative. 

*  Obama also put Elena Kagan on the US Supreme Court. In the No-GMO world, she is most notorious for her government-funded support of Monsanto when she served as Solicitor General. 

Speaking of the “economics of our food supply,” which the exhibit touts, the new ag appropriations bill also made deep cuts to local and regional food system development programs. Agribusiness giants dominate the market today. This is Uncle Sam setting US priorities. The Senate is now reviewing HR 2112. 

Without expressing any comprehension of the impact of food control legislation, Trueman blows the horn of the Food Safety Modernization Act: 

“Sure, Uncle Sam’s always been kind of a drag, with his stern face and wagging finger. But to ‘nanny-state’ haters, he’s a Beltway busybody in drag, democracy’s Mrs. Doubtfire, a Maryland Mary Poppins. If you believe that government is always the problem, never the solution, then you have no use for, say, more stringent food safety regulations…” 

Really?  Mrs. Doubtfire?  The FSMA promises to enforce irradiated foods, promote genetic engineering, and run out of business small and midsize operators on which we’ve thrived for hundreds of years. Burdensome hyper-regulation will force them to upgrade their facilities to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars or lose their license. A veritable Big Food dream, and an Oliver Twist nightmare. 

“Safety” has nothing to do with the FSMA – this is about forcing us to eat factory-produced foods adulterated with GMOs, chemicals, drugs and nanomaterials, where most of the nutrition has been removed. It’s really a nice racket – for the medical profession, pharmaceutical industry, and chemical manufacturers, as well as Big Ag. 

In fact, this kind of regulated contamination of US food (and the environment) prompted the making of The Idiot Cycle, an excellent film showing how Uncle Sam’s “nanny-statism” is making us all sick so that chemical companies and Big Pharma (sometimes one and the same) can earn obscene profits. (My review here.) 

Like all the “modernization” acts, the Food Safety Modernization Act is but another in a long line designed to enhance profits of Big Business at the expense and health of the rest of us, including the environment. 

Though this probably deserves its own essay, let’s take a brief look at some of those “modernization” acts and their impact on us: 

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 deregulated the financial services industry, leading to the collapse of global finance, from which we have still not recovered (except for those banksters and their bailouts, which both Bush and Obama signed despite 95% of the public opposing them.) 

Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 also deregulated Wall Street, allowing for credit default swaps, unlimited trading in food commodities futures, and the infamous “Enron loophole,” which benefited (among others) the wife of the congressman who authored it: Phil Gramm. 

Farr and Dicks also point out that the 2012 ag appropriations bill defunds the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that seeks to rein in food commodities trading. This would bring food prices down, but the House defunded it in HR 2112. 

Also see, e.g.: 

F. William Engdahl’s Getting Used to Life Without Food;

Ellen Brown’s How Banks and Investors Are Starving the Third World; and

Frederick Kaufman’s The Food Bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it. 

Help America Vote Act of 2002 (a modernization act) replaced hand-count and lever technologies with software, which can be hacked without detection. By 2004, 95% of the U.S. said goodbye to verifiable election results, no matter what election officials say.  (See my annotation of 21 scientific reports condemning computerized voting systems.) 

Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2009 didn’t pass, but don’t ignore it. This bill seeks to set up online voting, another ludicrous assault on democracy. There is no way to ensure these votes are valid.

Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 Already discussed here, but in more detail in several pieces listed here. Steve Green’s famous piece, S.510 Is Hissing in the Grass, woke up fans of food freedom and food sovereignty with Canada Health whistleblower Shiv Chopra’s quote: 

“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes.  It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.”

Oh, we’re seeing that. Not only has the FDA increased its raids on natural food producers and sellers, but (as many readers know), it also recently claimed authority under the FSMA to seize food without credible evidence it’s been contaminated.

When you think about what’s in 90% of US food, the risk of becoming ill from natural foods and supplements is far, far below what’s happening to the majority of Americans, with climbing rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and neurological disorders. Yet natural food producers are under attack by Uncle Sam given his commitment to global trade rules.

This isn’t Mrs. Doubtfire or Mary Poppins.  This is Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin all rolled up into one.  This isn’t a nanny state; this is food fascism – criminalizing our right to eat the foods of our choice, grown and prepared as we like, while destroying the ability of family and mid-size farms to earn a living.

I’m sure the “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam” exhibit will provide a fascinating study – not into enhanced food safety or increased health invoked by federal policy, because that clearly has not happened – but in the power of propaganda.

Bob Koehler says these types of efforts “abandon us in a state of feel-good pseudo-security.”  Despite that, and you can blame this on morbid curiosity, I hope to see it. 

What’s Cooking is on display thru January 3, 2012.

Rady Ananda specializes in Natural Resources and administers the sites Food Freedom and COTO Report.

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a series of stern and fiery statements recently, giving the impression that war is somehow upon us once again. Oddly, Clinton’s sudden reappearance into the Middle East diplomacy scene was triggered by the brave attempts of peace activists to break the siege on Gaza.

In recent months, as Arab nations settled old scores with their insufferable dictators, US foreign policy started taking a backseat. Attempts at swaying Arab revolts teetered between bashful diplomatic efforts to sustain US interests – as was the case with Yemen – and military intervention, as in Libya, which is still being marketed to the US public as a humanitarian intervention, as opposed to the war it actually is.

The indecisiveness and double-standards on display are hardly new.

The US’ stance during the Tunisian popular revolution ranged between complete lack of interest (when the protests began brewing in December 2010), to sudden enthusiasm for freedom and democracy (when the revolts led to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011).

The same foreign policy pendulum repeatedly swung both ways during the Egyptian Revolution. The US political definitions of Hosni Mubarak shifted from that of a friendly leader to that of a loathsome dictator who had to go for the sake of Egyptian democracy.

It took Tunisians 28 days to overthrow their leader, and Egyptians 18 days to outset Mubarak. During these periods, US foreign policy in the two countries – and the Middle East as a whole – seemed impossible to delineate in any concrete statements. Hillary Clinton was an emblematic figure in this diplomatic discrepancy.

Now Clinton is back, speaking in a lucid language which leaves no room for misinterpretation. When it comes to the security and interests of Israel – as opposed to those of the entire Middle East region and all its nations – Clinton, like other top American officials, leaves no room for error. Israel will always come first. 

Clinton’s forceful language was triggered by the decision of humanitarian activists from over 20 countries to travel to Gaza in a symbolic gesture to challenge the Israeli blockade of one of the poorest regions on earth. The 500 peace activists on board ten boats will include musicians, writers, Nobel Laureates, Holocaust survivors, and members of parliament.

“We think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves,” Clinton told reporters on June 23. Of course, the foreboding language offers another blank check to Israel, giving it permission to do as it pleases. If Israel repeated the same scenario it used to intercept and punish activists abroad the first flotilla on May 31, 2010 – killing nine activists in the Mavi Marmara – then it would constitute another act of ‘self-defense’, according to Clinton’s avant-garde rationale.

Responding to Clinton’s comments, Irish MEP Paul Murphy told the Irish Examiner on June 24: “It is not true that we will be entering Israeli waters. We will be sailing through Gaza waters.” He added, “Ms Clinton’s comments are disgraceful. She has essentially given the green light to Israeli Defence Forces to use violence against participants in the flotilla.” Indeed, Israeli diplomats will be utilizing Clinton’s advanced verbal and political support for the Israeli action in every platform available to them.

According to Clinton, the entire business with the flotillas is unnecessary. “We don’t think it’s useful or helpful or productive to the people of Gaza,” she told reporters in Washington, adding that, “a far better approach is to support the work that’s being done through the United Nations.”

The United Nations had already declared the Gaza siege illegal. Various top UN officials have stated this fact repeatedly, and the international body had called on Israel to end the siege. Notable among the many statements was a 34-page report by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay. Published on August 14, 2009, the report “accused Israel of violating the rules of warfare with its blockade stopping people and goods from moving in or out of the Gaza Strip,” according to the Associated Press. The Gaza blockade,” Pillay stated, “amounts to collective punishment of civilians, which is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of warfare and occupation.” Before the 34 pages could be thoroughly examined, both the US and Israel dismissed the findings. Now Clinton is suddenly urging all interested parties to work through the same institution that her department has repeatedly undermined.

Pillay’s report was issued nearly two years ago. Since then, little has been done to remedy the situation and to bring to an end the protracted Palestinian tragedy in Gaza. In fact, UNRWA has recently put Gaza’s unemployment at 45.2 percent, allegedly amongst the worst in the world. The UN report, released on June 14, claimed that unemployment in the first half of 2011 had increased by 3 percent. Monthly wages were also shown to have declined significantly. It seems the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is not only bad, it is progressively worsening. 

This time, Clinton is speaking from a power position. As diplomatic pressure from Israel finally dissuaded Turkey from allowing the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) from joining the flotilla, it seems the Mavi Marmara won’t be setting sail to Gaza anytime soon. As if to confirm that the IHH decision was motivated by political pressure, Clinton “spoke to her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu to express her happiness at the announcement” (according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News, June 21).

With political victory in mind, the State Department travel warning of June 22 read like a legal disclaimer issued by the Israeli foreign ministry. It warned US citizens to avoid any attempt to reach Gaza by sea. Those who participate in a flotilla risk arrest, prosecution, deportation and a possible 10-year travel ban by Israel.

In a region that is rife with opportunities for political stances – or at least a measureable shift in policy – the US State Department and its chief diplomat have offered nothing but inconsistency and contradiction. Now, thanks to a group of peaceful civil society activists, including many pacifists and elders, the State Department is getting its decisive voice back. And the voice is as atrocious and unprincipled as ever.       

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), available on Amazon.com.

Towards a World War III Scenario.

June 30th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

The following is a preview from the preface of a newly released E-book by Global Research Publishers

“Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” by Michel Chossudovsky

E-Book Series No. 1.0
Global Research Publishers
Montreal, 2011,
ISBN 978-0-9737147-5-3

76 pages (8.5×11)
Tables, color photographs, maps, text boxes.
Active hyperlinks to major references in the text, hyperlinked footnotes.

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The World is at a critical crossroads. The Fukushima disaster in Japan has brought to the forefront the dangers of Worldwide nuclear radiation.

Coinciding with the onset of the nuclear crisis in Japan, a new regional war theater has opened up in North Africa, under the disguise of a UN sponsored “humanitarian operation” with the mandate to “protect civilian lives”.

These two seemingly unrelated events are of crucial importance in understanding both the nuclear issue as well as the ongoing US-NATO sponsored war, which has now extended its grip into Libya. The crisis in Japan has been described as “a nuclear war without a war”. Its potential repercussions, which are yet to be fully assessed, are far more serious than the Chernobyl disaster, as acknowledged by several scientists.

The crisis in Japan has also brought into the open the unspoken relationship between nuclear energy and nuclear war. Nuclear energy is not a civilian economic activity. It is an appendage of the nuclear weapons industry which is controlled by the so-called defense contractors. The powerful corporate interests behind nuclear energy and nuclear weapons overlap. In Japan at the height of the disaster, “the nuclear industry and government agencies [were] scrambling to prevent the discovery of atomic-bomb research facilities hidden inside Japan’s civilian nuclear power plants”.[1] The media consensus is that the crisis at Fukushima’s five nuclear power plants has been contained. The realities are otherwise. The Japanese government has been obliged to acknowledge that “the severity rating of its nuclear crisis … matches that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster”. Moreover, the dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination. Radioactive elements have not only been detected in the food chain in Japan, radioactive rain water has been recorded in California:

“Hazardous radioactive elements being released in the sea and air around Fukushima accumulate at each step of various food chains (for example, into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). Entering the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, continuously irradiating small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years often induce cancer”.[2]

A New War Theater in North Africa

The War on Libya was launched within days of the Fukushima disaster. As we go to press, a dangerous process of military escalation is ongoing. NATO warplanes are hitting civilian targets in Libya including residential areas and government buildings in violation of international law.

The war on Libya is an integral part of the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which until recently consisted of three distinct areas of conflict : Afghanistan and Pakistan (the AfPak War), Iraq, Palestine. A fourth war theater has opened up in North Africa, which raises the issue of escalation over a vast geographical area. These four war theaters are interrelated. They are part of a broader region of conflict, which extends from North Africa and the Middle East, engulfing a large part of the Mediterranean basin, to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan, and Northern Pakistan.

How does the war on Libya relate to this broader US-NATO military agenda?

Is a World War III scenario unfolding?

Is the use of nuclear weapons contemplated in North Africa?

With regard to nuclear doctrine, the concept of a US sponsored pre-emptive nuclear attack applies to a number of countries or “rogue states” including Libya. An all out war against the Qadhafi regime has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than 20 years, Moreover, Libya was the first country to be tagged for a preemptive attack using tactical nuclear weapons.[3] The Clinton administration’s plan to nuke Libya had been announced in no uncertain terms in a 1996 Department of Defense press briefing:

“[The] Air Force would use the B61-11 [nuclear weapon] against Libya’s alleged underground chemical weapons plant at Tarhunah if the President decided that the plant had to be destroyed. ‘We could not take [Tarhunah] out of commission using strictly conventional weapons,’ Smith told the Associated Press. The B61-11 ‘would be the nuclear weapon of choice,’ he [Assistant Secretary of Defense Harold P. Smith] told Jane Defence Weekly.[4]

Clinton’s Defense Secretary William Perry had confirmed in a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “the U.S. retained the option of using nuclear weapons against countries [e.g. Libya] armed with chemical and biological weapons.”[5] The Department of Defense’s objective was to fast track the “testing” of the B61-11 nuclear bomb on an actual country and that country was Libya: “Even before the B61 came on line, Libya was identified as a potential target”.[6]

While the 1996 plan to bomb Libya using tactical nuclear weapons was subsequently shelved, Libya was not removed from the “black list”: “The Qadhafi regime” remains to this date a target country for a pre-emptive (“defensive”) nuclear attack. As revealed by William Arkin in early 2002, “The Bush administration, in a secret policy review… [had] ordered the Pentagon to draft contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against at least seven countries, naming not only Russia and the “axis of evil” Iraq, Iran, and North Korea but also China, Libya and Syria.[7]

Operation Odyssey Dawn. Nuclear Weapons against Libya? How Real is the Threat?

Has the project to nuke Libya been definitively shelved or is Libya still being contemplated as a potential target for a nuclear attack? (This preface serves as an update on the potential dangers of a nuclear war against a defenseless non-nuclear State). The air campaign directed against Libya commenced on March 19, 2011. America deployed its Bat-shaped B-2 Spirit Stealth bombers operating out of the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Described as “deadly and effective”, the B-2 was used as an instrument of “humanitarian warfare”.

Barely two weeks after the commencement of the war, the Pentagon announced the testing of the B61-11 nuclear bomb using the same B-2 Stealth bombers which had been deployed to Libya at the very outset of Operation Odyssey Dawn. The B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber is the US Air Force’s chosen “carrier” for the delivery of the B61-11 nuclear bomb. These timely tests pertained to the installed equipment, functionality and weapon’s components of the B61-11 nuclear bomb. The tests were conducted by the B-2 bombers operating out of the same Air Force base, from which the B-2 bombing raid on Libya were conducted.[8]

Is the timing of these tests in any way related to the chronology of the Libya bombing campaign?

The U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command was in charge of both the JTA tests of the B61-11 as well as the deployment of three B-2 Spirit Stealth bombers to Libya on March 19 under operation Odyssey Dawn. Both the deployment of the B-2s to the Libya war theater as well as the tests of the equipment of the B61-11 (using the B-2 bomber for delivery) were coordinated out of Whiteman Air Force base.

America’s Long War: The Global Military Agenda

The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity. The first two chapters of this E-book focus on the “Cult of Death and Destruction” underlying this global military agenda. US-NATO weapons of mass destruction are portrayed as instruments of peace. Mini-nukes are said to be “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”. Pre-emptive nuclear war is portrayed as a “humanitarian undertaking”. Nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.

US nuclear doctrine is intimately related to “America’s War on Terrorism” and the alleged threat of Al Qaeda, which in a bitter irony is considered as an upcoming nuclear power. Under the Obama administration, Islamic terrorists are said to be preparing to attack US cities. Proliferation is tacitly equated with “nuclear terrorism”. Obama’s nuclear doctrine puts particular emphasis on “nuclear terrorism” and on the alleged plans by Al Qaeda to develop and use nuclear weapons.

Chapter III focusses on America’s Holy Crusade and the Battle for Oil. The “Global War on Terrorism” requires going after the terrorists, using advanced weapons systems. US foreign policy upholds a pre-emptive religious-like crusade against evil, which serves to obscure the real objectives of military action. In the inner consciousness of Americans, the attacks of September 11, 2001 justify acts of war and conquest against evil-doers. The Global War on Terrorism is presented as a “clash of civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives. The lies behind 9/11 are known and documented. The American people’s acceptance of this crusade against evil is not based on any rational understanding or analysis of the facts. “The American inquisition” purports to extend Washington’s sphere of influence. Military intervention is justified as part of an international campaign against “Islamic terrorists”. Its ultimate intention, which is never mentioned in press reports, is territorial conquest and control over strategic resources. Ironically, under the Global War on Terrorism, these plans of conquest are instrumented by covertly supporting Islamic paramilitary armies, which are then used to destabilize non-compliant governments and impose Western standards of “governance” and “democracy”.

World War III Scenario

The contours of a World War III scenario are discussed in Chapter IV. The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the World simultaneously. Militarization at the global level is instrumented through the US military’s Unified Command structure: the entire planet is divided up into geographic Combatant Commands under the control of the Pentagon. According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consists of a sequence of war theaters: “[The] five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”

Chapter V focusses on war preparations pertaining to Iran, including the launching of a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the Islamic Republic. While Iran remains on the Pentagon’s drawing board, a fundamental shift in the sequencing of military operations has occurred. The US-NATO-Israel alliance realizes that Iran has significant capabilities to respond and retaliate. With the onset of the US-NATO led war in North Africa, Washington and its allies have chosen to wage war on countries with lesser military capabilities. This factor in itself has been crucial in the decision by the US and its allies to put “the Iran operation” on hold, while launching a “humanitarian war” on Libya.

How to Reverse the Tide of War

Chapter VI focusses on antiwar actions directed against this diabolical military agenda. Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.” Breaking the “big lie” which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda, the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged. This war can be prevented if people forcefully confront their governments, pressure their elected representatives, organize at the local level in towns, villages and municipalities, spread the word, inform their fellow citizens as to the implications of a nuclear war, initiate debate and discussion within the armed forces.

The object of this E-Book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.

Break the American Inquisition.

Undermine the US-NATO-Israel military crusade.

Close down the weapons factories and the military bases.

Members of the armed forces should disobey orders and refuse to participate in a criminal war.

Bring home the troops.

Notes

1. See Yoichi Shimatsu, Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant? Global Research, April 12, 2011
2. Helen Caldicott, Fukushima: Nuclear Apologists Play Shoot the Messenger on Radiation, The Age, April 26, 2011
3. See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s Planned Nuclear Attack on Libya, Global Research, March 25, 2011.
4. Federation of American Scientists, The Nuclear Information Project: the B61-11
5. Ibid, See also Greg Mello, The Birth Of a New Bomb; Shades of Dr. Strangelove! Will We Learn to Love the B61-11? The Washington Post, June 1, 1997
6. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – September/ October 1997, p. 27. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, America’s Planned Nuclear Attack on Libya, Global Research, March 25, 2001
7. See William Arkin, “Thinking the Unthinkable”, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2002.
8. In late March or early April (prior to April 4), the B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber from the 509th Bomber Wing operating out of Whiteman Air Force Base, was used in the so-called “Joint Test Assembly” (JTA) of the B61 Mod 11 nuclear bomb.
The announcement of these tests was made public on April 4; the precise date of the tests was not revealed, but one can reasonably assume that it was in the days prior to the April 4 press release by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA. Press Release, NNSA Conducts Successful B61-11 JTA Flight Test, April 4, 2011. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Dangerous Crossroads: Is America Considering the Use of Nuclear Weapons against Libya? Global Research, April 7, 2011

Montreal, May 2011

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Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

This E-Book is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alice C. Tang, who devoted her life to global peace, the pursuance of truth, military disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war. Alice Tang’s proposal was titled “Two Percent, No First Strike.” The pledge would be that no nation shall spend more than 2 percent of its GDP on military purposes, and no nation would be a “first strike” aggressor with nuclear weapons.

Acknowledgments

Research for this E-book was conducted over a period of almost ten years. Our sincere thanks to Global Research members and our readers, whose support has enabled us to develop our publishing and educational outreach activities.

I am much indebted to Maja Romano of the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG) for her support in the editing process as well for the creative design of the front page graphics. I extend my thanks and appreciation to Réjean Mc Kinnon, for the careful typesetting, layout and production of the E-Book and to Drew McKevitt for her assistance in the copyediting of the manuscript.

“Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” by Michel Chossudovsky 

E-Book Series No. 1.0
Global Research Publishers
Montreal, 2011

ISBN 978-0-9737147-5-3
76 pages (8.5×11)
Tables, color photographs, maps, text boxes.
Active hyperlinks to major references in the text, hyperlinked footnotes.

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DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE

A New War Theater in North Africa
Operation Odyssey Dawn
Nuclear Weapons against Libya? How Real is the Threat?
America’s Long War: The Global Military Agenda
How to Reverse the Tide of War
World War III Scenario
Acknowledgments

CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION

The Cult of Killing and Destruction
America’s Mini-nukes
War and the Economic Crisis
Real versus Fake Crises

CHAPTER II: THE DANGERS OF NUCLEAR WAR

Hiroshima Day 2003: Secret Meeting at Strategic Command Headquarters
The Privatization of Nuclear War: US Military Contractors Set the Stage
9/11 Military Doctrine: Nuclear Weapons and the “Global War on Terrorism”
Al Qaeda: “Upcoming Nuclear Power”
Obama’s Nuclear Doctrine: The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review
Post 9/11 Nuclear Doctrine
“Defensive” and “Offensive” Actions
“Integration” of Nuclear and Conventional Weapons Plans
Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO)
Planned Aerial Attacks on Iran
Global Warfare: The Role of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization
Israel’s Stockpiling of Conventional and Nuclear Weapons
The Role of Western Europe
Germany: De Facto Nuclear Power
Pre-emptive Nuclear War: NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept
The World is at a Critical Crossroads

CHAPTER III: AMERICA’S HOLY CRUSADE AND THE BATTLE FOR OIL

America’s Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East
“Homegrown Terrorists”
The American Inquisition
Washington’s Extrajudicial Assassination Program
The Battle for Oil
The Oil Lies in Muslim Lands
Globalization and the Conquest of the World’s Energy Resources

CHAPTER IV: PREPARING FOR WORLD WAR THREE

Media Disinformation
A “Pre-emptive” Aerial Attack Directed Against Iran would Lead to Escalation
Global Warfare
US “Military Aid”
The Timetable of Military Stockpiling and Deployment
World War III Scenario
The United Nations Security Council
The American Inquisition: Building a Political Consensus for War

CHAPTER V: TARGETING IRAN WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Building a Pretext for a Pre-emptive Nuclear Attack
“Theater Iran Near Term”
The Military Road Map: “First Iraq, then Iran”
Simulated Scenarios of a Global War: The Vigilant Shield 07 War Games
The Role of Israel
Cheney: “Israel Might Do it Without Being Asked”
US Israel Military Coordination
Tactical Nuclear Weapons directed against Iran
Radioactive Fallout
“The Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) Slated to be Used Against Iran
Extensive Destruction of Iran’s Infrastructure
State of the Art Weaponry: “War Made Possible Through New Technologies”
Electromagnetic Weapons
Iran’s Military Capabilities: Medium and Long Range Missiles
Iran’s Ground Forces
US Military and Allied Facilities Surrounding Iran

CHAPTER VI: REVERSING THE TIDE OF WAR

Revealing the Lie
The Existing Anti-War Movement
Manufacturing Dissent
Jus ad Bellum: 9/11 and the Invasions of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan
Fake Antiwar Activism: Heralding Iran as a Nuclear Threat
The Road Ahead
The Antiwar Movement within the State Structure and the Military
Abandon the Battlefield: Refuse to Fight
The Broader Peace Process
What has to be Achieved

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Punishing Pakistan and Challenging China

June 30th, 2011 by Andrew Gavin Marshall

This is Part 2 of “Pakistan in Pieces.”

Part 1: Imperial Eye on Pakistan

The AfPak War Theatre: Establishing the New Strategy

As Senator Obama became the President-elect Obama, his foreign policy strategy on Afghanistan was already being formed. In 2007, Obama took on veteran geostrategist and Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski as one of his top foreign policy advisers,[1] and he remained his foreign policy adviser throughout 2008.[2] On Obama’s campaign, he announced that as President, he would scale down the war in Iraq, and focus the “War on Terror” on Afghanistan, promising “to send in about 10,000 more troops and to strike next-door Pakistan, if top terrorists are spotted there.”[3]

In October of 2008, before the Presidential elections, “senior Bush administration officials gathered in secret with Afghanistan experts from NATO and the United Nations,” to deliver a message to advisers of McCain and Obama to tell them that, “the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse,” and “that the next president needed to have a plan for Afghanistan before he took office,” or else, “it could be too late.”[4] Both McCain and Obama had agreed to a troop increase for Afghanistan, essentially ensuring the “continuity of empire” from one administration to the next.

A week after winning the election, Obama invited one of Hillary Clinton’s top supporters and advisers to meet with him. Richard Holbrooke, who had worked in every Democratic administration since John F. Kennedy, “which extended from the Vietnam War, in the sixties, to the Balkan conflicts of the nineties,” was Clinton’s Ambassador to the United Nations for the last year and a half of the Clinton administration. Obama had decided “that Holbrooke should take on the hardest foreign-policy problem that the Administration faced: Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Holbrooke wrote in March of 2008, before Obama won the Presidency, that, “The conflict in Afghanistan will be far more costly and much, much longer than Americans realize,” and it “will eventually become the longest in American history.”[5]

The position Holbrooke was to receive in the Obama administration was one created specifically for him. He was to become a “special representative” to the region of Afghanistan and Pakistan:

[I]n addition to being an emissary to the region, Holbrooke would run operations on the civilian side of American policy. He would create a rump regional bureau within the State Department, carved out of the Bureau of South and Central Asia, whose Afghanistan and Pakistan desks would report directly to him. He would assemble outside experts and officials from various government agencies to work for him, and he would report to the President through Hillary Clinton. Clinton told Holbrooke that he would be the civilian counterpart to General David Petraeus, the military head of Central Command.[6]

Holbrooke was thus placed in charge of “Af-Pak”, a term of his own creation, “to make the point that the two countries could not be dealt with separately,” which was then adopted into official parlance.[7]

In November of 2008, the Washington Post reported that while Obama was considering giving the position of Secretary of State (which he then did), he was also discussing giving General James L. Jones the position of National Security Adviser, which he subsequently did. The article stated that, “Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger.” James Jones was a former NATO commander and Marine Corps commandant.[8]

Jones as NATO commander was pivotal in assembling troops for the war in Afghanistan, and at the time of his nomination as NSA (National Security Adviser), he headed “the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.”[9] The official statement of purpose for the Institute for 21st Century Energy is:

to unify energy policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense strategy that ensures affordable, reliable, and diverse energy supplies, improves environmental stewardship, promotes economic growth, and strengthens national security.[10]

Jones earned $900,000 in salary from the Chamber of Commerce, and got $330,000 from serving on the board of Boeing and $290,000 for serving on the board of Chevron upon his resignations of those positions to become National Security Adviser.[11] In October of 2010, Jones was replaced as National Security Advisor by Tom Donilon.

On February 8, 2009, within weeks of being installed as NSA, Jones gave a speech at the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy, in which he stated:

As the most recent National Security Advisor of the United States, I take my daily orders from Dr. [Henry] Kissinger, filtered down through Generaal Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, who is also here. We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today.[12]

He then elaborated on the purpose and restructuring of the National Security Council under the Obama administration. He stated that the NSC “must be strategic” in that, “we won’t effectively advance the priorities if we spend our time reacting to events, instead of shaping them. And that requires strategic thinking.” He further stated that:

the NSC today works very closely with President Obama’s National Economic Council, which is led by Mr. Larry Summers, so that our response to the economic crisis is coordinated with our global partners and our national security needs.[13]

Shortly after taking office, Obama set up a two-month White House strategic review of Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be headed by Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and scholar at the Brookings Institution, and “Riedel will report to Obama and to retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., the national security advisor,” and was to work very closely with Richard Holbrooke in drafting the policy review.[14]

In February of 2009, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for the Washington Post describing the strategy America should undertake in Afghanistan and Pakistan, emphasizing the role of “security” over the aim of “reform” of the Afghan government, stating that, “Reform will require decades; it should occur as a result of, and even side by side with, the attainment of security — but it cannot be the precondition for it.” Militarily, Kissinger recommended the “control of Kabul and the Pashtun area,” which stretches from Afghanistan to the North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan province in Pakistan. When it came to the issue of Pakistan, Kissinger wrote:

The conduct of Pakistan will be crucial. Pakistan’s leaders must face the fact that continued toleration of the sanctuaries — or continued impotence with respect to them — will draw their country ever deeper into an international maelstrom.[15]

Following the policy review, on March 27, Obama announced the administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, decidedly to make it a dual strategy: the AfPak strategy. Obama promised “to send lawyers and agricultural experts to Afghanistan to reform its government and economy, and to offer seven and a half billion dollars in new aid for schools, roads, and democracy in Pakistan.”[16]

Holbrooke had a staff of 30 in the State Department, and “nine government agencies, including the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Defense and Treasury Departments, and two foreign countries, Britain and Canada, [were] represented in the office.” General David Patraeus, then Commander of U.S. CENTCOM (the Pentagon’s Central Command with authority over the Middle East, Egypt and Central Asia), along with then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, and Richard Holbrooke worked together and “pressured General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani Army, to push back against the Taliban in Swat,” which had the effect of precipitating the internal displacement of more than 2 million people.[17]

Changing Strategy, Changing Command

In January of 2009, shortly after Obama took office, he announced that his administration “picked Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, a former top military commander in Afghanistan, to be the next United States ambassador to Kabul,” of which the New York Times said:

Tapping a career Army officer who will soon retire from the service to fill one of the country’s most sensitive diplomatic jobs is a highly unusual choice.[18]

Further, the General had “repeatedly warned that the United States could not prevail in Afghanistan and defeat global terrorism without addressing the havens that fighters with Al Qaeda had established in neighboring Pakistan,” which is parallel to the new strategy in Afghanistan. His appointment “has the backing of Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”[19]

On May 11, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired General David D. McKiernan, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which commands all NATO forces in Afghanistan. Gates stated that, “It’s time for new leadership and fresh eyes,” and that it was the Pentagon command which recommended the White House fire McKiernan, including Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen and McKiernan’s military boss, General Patraeus, Commander of CENTCOM.[20]

There has been much speculation as to the reasons for his firing, and it is a significant question to ask, as the firing of a General in the field is a rarity in the American experience. The general view pushed by the Pentagon was that it was due to a matter of “consistency,” as in changing strategies and changing ambassadors, it was also necessary to change Generals. While McKiernan was focused on military means and tactics, the strategy required counter-insurgency tactics. It was reported that, “McKiernan was overly cautious in creating U.S.-backed local militias, a tactic that Petraeus had employed when he was the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.”[21]

One Washington Post article made the claim that the push to fire McKiernan came initially and most forcefully from the Chairman of the JCS Mullen, and that Gates agreed and lobbied Obama to fire him. The reasoning was that McKiernan was “too deferential to NATO” in that he wasn’t able to properly manage the NATO forces in Afghanistan, and lacked the political fortitude to manage both military and political affairs.[22]

The official reason for the firing was mostly to facilitate alignment with the new strategy requiring a new military commander, which is likely true. However, it requires an understanding of the new strategy as well as a look at who was sent in to replace McKiernan where you realize the true nature of his being fired. [Note: McChrystal himself was later fired in 2010 after publicly speaking out against top administration officials].

McKiernan was replaced with Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, former Commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the highly secretive command of U.S. Special Forces operations. As the Washington Post pointed out, his appointment “marks the continued ascendancy of officers who have pressed for the use of counterinsurgency tactics, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that are markedly different from the Army’s traditional doctrine.”[23]

The new AfPak strategy, which McChrystal would oversee, “relies on the kind of special forces and counterinsurgency tactics McChrystal knows well, as well as nonmilitary approaches to confronting the Taliban. It would hinge success in the seven-year-old war to political and other conditions across the border in Pakistan.”[24]

In March of 2009, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that the U.S. military was running an “executive assassination ring” during the Bush years, and that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) was running it, and that, “It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently,” and that, “They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office… Congress has no oversight of it.” He elaborated:

Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.[25]

Hersh appeared on Amy Goodman’s program, Democracy Now, to further discuss the program, of which he stated:

There’s more—at least a dozen countries and perhaps more. The President has authorized these kinds of actions in the Middle East and also in Latin America, I will tell you, Central America, some countries. They’ve been—our boys have been told they can go and take the kind of executive action they need, and that’s simply—there’s no legal basis for it.[26]

At the time this news story broke, it was reported that the JSOC commander at the time, “ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower are jeopardizing broader goals there.” The halt lasted a total of two weeks, and “came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops in recent months killed women and children.”[27]

All of this is very concerning, considering that the new Commander of NATO operations in Afghanistan, was the former head of the “executive assassination ring.” Having run JSOC between 2003 and 2008, McChrystal “built a sophisticated network of soldiers and intelligence operatives,” which conducted operations and assassinations in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan.”[28]

In June it was reported that McChrystal was “given carte blanche to handpick a dream team of subordinates, including many Special Operations veterans, as he moves to carry out an ambitious new strategy.” He was reported to be assembling a corps of 400 officers and soldiers “who will rotate between the United States and Afghanistan for a minimum of three years.” The New York Times referred to this strategy as “unknown in the military today outside Special Operations.” The Times further reported that McChrystal:

picked the senior intelligence adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, to join him in Kabul as director of intelligence there. In Washington, Brig. Gen. Scott Miller, a longtime Special Operations officer now assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff but who had served previously under General McChrystal, is now organizing a new Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell.[29]

In June of 2006, Newsweek referred to McChrystal’s JSOC as being a “part of what Vice President Dick Cheney was referring to when he said America would have to ‘work the dark side’ after 9/11.” McChrystal also happened to be a Fellow at Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations.[30]

As it was later revealed, the CIA had been running – from 2002 onwards – a force of roughly 3,000 elite paramilitary Afghans, purportedly to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the CIA. Used for reconnaissance, surveillance, and actual operations, many in the force have been trained by the CIA in the United States, and their operations and numbers have expanded since the new strategy involving Pakistan was put in place. The paramilitary force – or terrorists, depending upon one’s perspective – are undertaking covert operations inside Pakistan, often working directly with U.S. Special Forces.[31] It must be remembered that during the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s when the CIA was funding, arming and training the Afghan Mujahideen to fight the Soviets – late to become known as ‘al-Qaeda’ – they were, at the time, referred to as “freedom fighters,” just as the terrorist death squads were referred to in Nicaragua. Thus, the nomenclature of “paramilitary force” must be viewed with suspicion as to what the group is actually doing: covert operations, surveillance, assassinations, etc., which by many definitions would make them a terrorist outfit.

In May of 2009, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was reported as saying that a US military offensive in southern Afghanistan could have the effect of pushing militants and Taliban into Pakistan, “whose troops are already struggling to combat militants.” Chairman Mike Mullen stated that this means that Pakistan “could face even greater turmoil in the months ahead.” This was based off of a US surge of troops in Afghanistan. Senator Russ Feingold said that, “We may end up further destabilizing Pakistan without providing substantial lasting improvements in Afghanistan,” and that, “Weak civilian governments, an increased number of militants and an expanded U.S. troop presence could be a recipe for disaster for those nations in the region as well as our own nation’s security.” Mullen responded to the Senator’s concerns by stating, “Can I… (be) 100 percent certain that won’t destabilize Pakistan? I don’t know the answer to that.”[32]

But of course, the answer is in fact, certain; and it’s an unequivocal “yes”. These remarks were made following the surge of an additional 21,000 US troops to Afghanistan in March. In the beginning of May, Pakistan launched a military offensive against the Taliban in Swat and other areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), after a peace deal broke down between them, “forcing more than two million people from their homes.”[33] It was further reported that:

Pakistani military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani has told U.S. officials he’s worried not only about Taliban moving across the border, but also the possibility that U.S. forces could prompt an exodus of refugees from southern Afghanistan.[34]

In May, Holbrooke and the American military establishment had pressured the Pakistani government to undertake the offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley, which led to the displacement of more than 2 million people. As the New Yorker put it, Holbrooke “was mapping out a new vision for American interests in a volatile region, as his old friend Henry Kissinger had done in Southeast Asia. And he was positioning himself to be a mediator in an international conflict, as he had done in the Balkans.”[35]

In September of 2009 a classified report written by General McChrystal was leaked, in which he had concluded, “that a successful counterinsurgency strategy will require 500,000 troops over five years.”[36] It was further reported in September that, “the CIA is deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ that will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history,” rivaling its stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. The initiative began “under pressure from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal,” and the extra personnel are being employed in a number of ways, including teaming up with Special Forces troops in “pursuing high-value targets.” Further:

The intelligence expansion goes beyond the CIA to involve every major spy service, officials said, including the National Security Agency, which intercepts calls and e-mails, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency, which tracks military threats.[37]

In October of 2009, it was reported by the Washington Post that although Obama announced a troop surge in Afghanistan of 21,000 additional troops, “in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number.” It was reported that these additional forces were primarily made up of “support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police.” Thus, it brings the total 2009 surge in Afghanistan to 34,000 US troops. Thus as of October 2009, there were 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan (more than double the amount of when Bush left office), and 124,000 US troops in Iraq.[38]

In early October, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for Newsweek in which he proposed a strategy for the US in Afghanistan, in which he initially made it clear that he supported General McChrystal’s proposal of sending an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan. Kissinger proclaimed that calls for an “exit strategy” were a “metaphor for withdrawal,” which is tantamount to “abandonment.” Clearly, Kissinger favours a long-term presence. He stated that even a victory “may not permit troop withdrawals,” citing the case of South Korea. Kissinger further wrote on the options for Afghan strategy, stating:

A negotiation with the [Taliban] might isolate Al Qaeda and lead to its defeat, in return for not challenging the Taliban in the governance of Afghanistan. After all, it was the Taliban which provided bases for Al Qaeda in the first place.

This theory seems to me to be too clever by half. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are unlikely to be able to be separated so neatly geographically. It would also imply the partition of Afghanistan along functional lines, for it is highly improbable that the civic actions on which our policies are based could be carried out in areas controlled by the Taliban. Even so-called realists—like me—would gag at a tacit U.S. cooperation with the Taliban in the governance of Afghanistan.[39]

Kissinger further claimed that a reduction of forces in Afghanistan would “fundamentally affect domestic stability in Pakistan by freeing the Qaeda forces along the Afghan border for even deeper incursions into Pakistan, threatening domestic chaos,” and that, “the prospects of world order will be greatly affected by whether our strategy comes to be perceived as a retreat from the region, or a more effective way to sustain it.”[40]

He further explained that any attempts to “endow the central government with overriding authority” could produce resistance, which would “be ironic if, by following the received counterinsurgency playbook too literally, we produced another motive for civil war.” Kissinger thus proposed a strategy not aimed at “control from Kabul,” but rather, “emphasis needs to be given to regional efforts and regional militia.” Kissinger explained the regional importance of Afghanistan, and thus, the “challenge” of American strategy:

The special aspect of Afghanistan is that it has powerful neighbors or near neighbors—Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Iran. Each is threatened in one way or another and, in many respects, more than we are by the emergence of a base for international terrorism: Pakistan by Al Qaeda; India by general jihadism and specific terror groups; China by fundamentalist Shiite jihadists in Xinjiang; Russia by unrest in the Muslim south; even Iran by the fundamentalist Sunni Taliban. Each has substantial capacities for defending its interests. Each has chosen, so far, to stand more or less aloof.[41]

In November of 2009, Malalai Joya, a former Afghan MP and one of the few female political leaders in Afghanistan, said that:

Eight years ago, the U.S. and NATO—under the banner of women’s rights, human rights, and democracy—occupied my country and pushed us from the frying pan into the fire . . . Eight years is enough to know better about the corrupt, mafia system of [President] Hamid Karzai . . . My people are crushed between two powerful enemies . . . From the sky, occupation forces bomb and kill civilians…and on the ground, the Taliban and warlords continue their crimes . . . It is better that they leave my country; my people are that fed up . . . Occupation will never bring liberation, and it is impossible to bring democracy by war.[42]

In late November, Pakistani Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani warned “that the US’s decision to send thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan may destabilize his country,” as it would likely lead to “a spill over of militants inside Pakistan.” In particular, it could force militants and Taliban to migrate into Pakistan’s southern province of Balochistan.[43]

On December 1, President Obama announced that the U.S. would send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan by summer 2010, and with a “plan” to purportedly withdraw by July 2011. As the Washington Post reported, “adding 30,000 U.S. troops to the roughly 70,000 that are in Afghanistan now amounts to most of what Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces there, requested at the end of August.” Obama stated that the chief objective was to “destroy al-Qaeda,” and a senior administration official said that, “the goal for the Afghan army, for example, is to increase its ranks from 90,000 to 134,000 by the end of 2010.”[44]

President Karzai said in early December that, “Afghanistan’s security forces will need U.S. support for another 15 to 20 years,” and that, “it would take five years for his forces to assume responsibility for security throughout the country.”[45] This statement supports the conclusions set out in McChrystal’s classified report, which stated that the US would need to remain for at least 5 years.

Seth Jones, a civilian adviser to the U.S. military and senior political scientist at RAND Corporation, one of America’s top defense think tanks, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in December titled, “Take the War to Pakistan.” He stated that the U.S. is repeating the same mistakes of the Soviets when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s by not attacking the Taliban “sanctuary” in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. He stated that, “This sanctuary is critical because the Afghan war is organized and run out of Baluchistan.” He then proclaimed that, “the United States and Pakistan must target Taliban leaders in Baluchistan,” which could include conducting raids into Pakistani territory or hit Taliban leaders with drone strikes.[46]

As Jeremy Scahill reported in June 2009, “more than 240,000 contractor employees, about 80 percent of them foreign nationals, are working in Iraq and Afghanistan to support operations and projects of the U.S. military, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.” Scahill reported on the findings of a Defense Department report on contracting work in the war zones, stating that, “there has been a 23% increase in the number of ‘Private Security Contractors’ working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which ‘correlates to the build up of forces’ in the country.” While contractors outnumbered forces in Afghanistan, in Iraq they were roughly equal to the US forces occupying the country, at 130,000.[47]

It was reported that as Obama ordered more troops to Afghanistan in December of 2009, a new surge of contractors would follow suit. As of June 2009, the number of contractors in Afghanistan outweighed the US military presence itself, with 73,968 contractors and 55,107 troops. According to different estimates, “Between 7% and 16% of the total are Blackwater-style private security contractors.” As of December 2009, the number of contractors in Afghanistan was reported to be 104,100.[48]

In January of 2010, as Obama’s announced 30,000 extra troops began to be deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistani officials became increasingly fearful that “a stepped-up war just over the border could worsen the increasingly bloody struggle with militancy” within Pakistan itself, ultimately further destabilizing Pakistan’s southwestern border and the “already volatile tribal areas in the northwest.” On top of sending militants into Pakistan, there were fears that it would exacerbate the flow of Afghan refugees into Pakistani territory.[49]

Blackwater and the “Secret War” in Pakistan

In November of 2009, investigative journalist and best-selling author Jeremy Scahill wrote an exclusive report on the secret war of the United States in Pakistan. The story sheds light on the American strategy in the region aimed at the destabilization and ultimately the implosion of Pakistan. The chief architects and administrators of this policy in Pakistan are none other than the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), previously run as an “executive assassination ring” by General McChrystal, and the infamous mercenary organization, Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. JSOC and Blackwater work together covertly in undertaking a covert war in yet another nation in the region, adding to the list of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Scahill described the covert operations as “targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives,” as well as “other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.” Further, “the Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes.” The sources for the report are drawn heavily from individuals within the US military intelligence apparatus. One source revealed that the program is so “compartmentalized” that “senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.” This program is also separate from the CIA’s own programs, including both drone attacks and assassinations, of which the CIA assassination program was said to be cancelled in June of 2009.

It was in 2006 that JSOC reached an agreement with the Pakistani government to run operations within the country, back when Stanley McChrystal was running it in close cooperation with Vice President Dick Cheney as an “executive assassination ring.” A former Blackwater executive confirmed that Blackwater was operating in Pakistan in cooperation with both the CIA and JSOC, as well as being on a subcontract for the Pakistani government itself, as well as “working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract with an Islamabad-based security firm that puts US Blackwater operatives on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions, in the North-West Frontier Province and elsewhere in Pakistan.”

JSOC’s covert program in liaison with Blackwater in Pakistan dates back to 2007, and the operations are coordinated out of the US Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and that Blackwater operates at “an ultra-exclusive level above top secret.” The contracts are all kept secret, and therefore “shielded from public oversight.” On top of carrying out operations for JSOC and the CIA inside Pakistan, Blackwater further conducts operations in Uzbekistan.

In regards to the drone strikes within Pakistan, while largely reported as being a part of the CIA drone program, many are, in fact, undertaken under a covert parallel JSOC program. One intelligence source told Jeremy Scahill that, “when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes.” Further, Blackwater is involved in the drone strike program with JSOC, “Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under a classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don’t care. If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality.” Blackwater further provides security for many secret US drone bases, as well as JSOC camps and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) camps within Pakistan.

With General McChrystal’s rise from JSOC Commander to Commander of the Afghan war theatre (which in military-strategic terms now includes Pakistan under the umbrella of “AfPak”), “there is a concomitant rise in JSOC’s power and influence within the military structure.” McChrystal had overseen JSOC during the majority of the Bush years, where he worked very closely and directly with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As Seymour Hersh had exposed, JSOC operated as an “executive assassination ring” and had caused many problematic diplomatic situations for the United States, as even the State Department wasn’t informed about their operations. One high-level State Department official was quoted as saying:

The only way we found out about it is our ambassadors started to call us and say, ‘Who the hell are these six-foot-four white males with eighteen-inch biceps walking around our capital cities?’ So we discovered this, we discovered one in South America, for example, because he actually murdered a taxi driver, and we had to get him out of there real quick. We rendered him–we rendered him home.[50]

Blackwater is also involved in providing “security for a US-backed aid project” in a region of Pakistan, which implies that even some aid projects are connected with military and intelligence operations, often using them as a cover for covert operations. Blackwater still operates in Afghanistan working for the US military, the State Department and the CIA. As one military-intelligence official stated:

Having learned its lessons after the private security contracting fiasco in Iraq, Blackwater has shifted its operational focus to two venues: protecting things that are in danger and anticipating other places we’re going to go as a nation that are dangerous.[51]

Mmuch of Scahill’s information has been supported by other mainstream news sources. In August of 2009, the New York Times reported that in 2004, the CIA “hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda.” The CIA had held high-level meetings with Blackwater founder and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince. The article also revealed that in 2002, Blackwater had been awarded the contract to handle security for the CIA station in Afghanistan, “and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A.” Blackwater has hired several former CIA officials, “including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.”[52]

On December 10, 2009, the New York Times reported that in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Blackwater “participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents.” These raids, referred to as “snatch and grab” operations, occurred almost nightly between 2004 and 2006, and that, “involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred.” One former CIA official was quoted as saying, “There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually became an extension of the agency.” Further, Blackwater was reported to have provided security not only for the CIA station in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq; and in both countries, Blackwater “personnel accompanied the [CIA] officers even on offensive operations sometimes begun in conjunction with Delta Force or Navy Seals teams.”[53]

In late August it was reported that Blackwater had a CIA contract to operate the remotely piloted drones, carried out at “hidden bases” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as provide security at the bases.[54] In December, the New York Times ran a story reporting that the CIA had terminated its contract with Blackwater “that allowed the company to load bombs on C.I.A. drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” However, while the CIA claimed that all Blackwater contracts were under review, a CIA spokesperson said that, “At this time, Blackwater is not involved in any C.I.A. operations other than in a security or support role,”[55] which is still a very wide role, considering how the roles have been blurred between providing “security” and actively taking part in missions.

As the Guardian reported in December of 2009, Blackwater had a contract in Pakistan “to manage the construction of a training facility for the paramilitary Frontier Corps, just outside Peshawar,” which is the Pakistani Army’s paramilitary force.[56] Despite a continual official denial of Blackwater involvement in Pakistan, in December, the CIA admitted Blackwater operates in Pakistan under CIA contracts,[57] and in January of 2010, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that both Blackwater (now known as Xe Services) and DynCorp have been operating in Pakistan.[58]

However, some reports indicate that Blackwater may be involved in even more nefarious activities inside Pakistan. A former head of Pakistani’s intelligence services, the ISI, stated in an interview that apart from simply taking part in drone attacks, Blackwater “may be involved in actions that destabilize the country.” Elaborating, he said, “My assessment is that they [Blackwater agents] — either themselves or most probably through others, through the locals — do carry out some of the explosions,” and that, “the idea is to carry out such actions, like carrying attacks in the civilian areas to make the others look bad in the eyes of the public.” In other words, according to the former head of the ISI, Blackwater may be involved in committing false flag terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.[59]

In November of 2009, Al-Jazeera reported that while many attacks occurring across Pakistan are blamed on the Tehreek e-Taliban, Pakistan’s Taliban, “the group has issued its first video statement denying involvement in targeting civilians and has blamed external forces for at least two recent blasts.” The denial stated that the attacks are being used as an excuse to prepare for military operations in various tribal regions of Pakistan, including South Waziristan. The denial also stated that the Pakistani Taliban “had no role in the bomb blast in a Peshawar market that killed at least 100 people as well as an attack in Charsada, a town located in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.” The spokesperson claimed that the Pakistani Taliban does not target civilians, and that the bombings were “linked to Blackwater activities in the country.” Even when the bombings initially occurred the Taliban denied involvement, and the local media was blaming “Blackwater and other American agencies.”[60]

The head of the Pakistani Taliban had previously stated that, “if Taliban can carry out attacks in Islamabad and target Pakistan army’s headquarters, then why should they target general public,” and proceeded to blame the bomb blast in Peshawar that killed 108 people on “Blackwater and Pakistani agencies [that] are involved in attacks in public places to blame the militants.” He was further quoted as saying, “Our war is against the government and the security forces and not against the people. We are not involved in blasts.”[61]

In January of 2010, it was reported that Blackwater “is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan’s troubled national police force,” as Blackwater already “trains the Afghan border police — an arm of the national police — and drug interdiction units in volatile southern Afghanistan.”[62]

As Jeremy Scahill reported in August of 2009 on a legal case against Blackwater, where a former Blackwater mercenary and an ex-US Marine “have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia.” Among the claims:

The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”[63]

Further, both men stated that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq, often on Erik Prince’s private planes. These allegations surfaced in a trial against Blackwater for committing human rights violations and war crimes in Iraq against civilians. One of those who testified further stated that, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.” The testimony continued in explaining that:

Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”[64]

In January of 2010, Erik Prince, the controversial founder and CEO of Blackwater gave an interview with Vanity Fair magazine which was intended to not simply discuss the company, but also the man behind the company. It begins by quoting Prince as saying, “I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions,” and continued, “But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus.” It is worth quoting the article at some length:

Publicly, [Erik Prince] has served as Blackwater’s C.E.O. and chairman. Privately, and secretly, he has been doing the C.I.A.’s bidding, helping to craft, fund, and execute operations ranging from inserting personnel into “denied areas”—places U.S. intelligence has trouble penetrating—to assembling hit teams targeting al-Qaeda members and their allies. Prince, according to sources with knowledge of his activities, has been working as a C.I.A. asset: in a word, as a spy. While his company was busy gleaning more than $1.5 billion in government contracts between 2001 and 2009—by acting, among other things, as an overseas Praetorian guard for C.I.A. and State Department officials—Prince became a Mr. Fix-It in the war on terror. His access to paramilitary forces, weapons, and aircraft, and his indefatigable ambition—the very attributes that have galvanized his critics—also made him extremely valuable, some say, to U.S. intelligence.[65]

Prince’s Afghan security team is the “special-projects” team of Blackwater, and “except for their language its men appear indistinguishable from Afghans. They have full beards, headscarves, and traditional knee-length shirts over baggy trousers.” In regards to Prince’s worth with the CIA, he:

wasn’t merely a contractor; he was, insiders say, a full-blown asset. Three sources with direct knowledge of the relationship say that the C.I.A.’s National Resources Division recruited Prince in 2004 to join a secret network of American citizens with special skills or unusual access to targets of interest.[66]

In Afghanistan, Blackwater “provides security for the US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and his staff, and trains narcotics and Afghan special police units.” There was also a revolving door of sorts between Blackwater and the CIA. Not only was Prince a CIA asset, but many higher-ups in the CIA would also move into Blackwater. A Blackwater-CIA team even hunted down an alleged Al-Qaeda financier in Hamburg, Germany, without even the German government’s awareness of it. Publicly, the Blackwater program with the CIA was canned. Although there was no mention of its covert program with JSOC in Pakistan, so one must assume its relationship is maintained in some capacity. Prince ultimately left his position at Blackwater in the face of bad press, but still controls the majority of the stock.[67]

In September of 2009, General Mirza Aslam Beg, Pakistan’s former Army Chief, said that, “Blackwater was directly involved in the assassinations of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.” He told a Saudi Arabian daily that, “former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green light to carry out terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Quetta.” It was in an interview with a Pakistani TV network when he stated that Blackwater and “the United States killed Benazir Bhutto.” Beg was chief of Army staff during Benazir Bhutto’s first administration. He claimed that she was killed “in an international conspiracy because she had decided to back out of the deal through which she had returned to the country after nine years in exile.”[68]

Is the West Punishing Pakistan to Challenge China?

China and Pakistan established diplomatic ties in 1951, and have enjoyed a close relationship since then, with Pakistan being one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1950. One of the primary reasons behind the close and ever-closer relationship between China and Pakistan is the role of India, as both an adversary and competitor to Pakistan and China. A Pakistani ambassador to the United States said that for Pakistan, “China is a high-value guarantor of security against India.” Further, within India, increased Chinese military support to Pakistan is perceived as “a key aspect of Beijing’s perceived policy of ‘encirclement’ or constraint of India as a means of preventing or delaying New Delhi’s ability to challenge Beijing’s region-wide influence.” These ties have increased since the 1990s, and especially as the United States became increasingly close to India. As a Council on Foreign Relations background report on China-Pakistan relations explained:

The two countries have cooperated on a variety of large-scale infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including highways, gold and copper mines, major electricity complexes and power plants, and numerous nuclear power projects. With roughly ten thousand Chinese workers engaged in 120 projects in Pakistan, total Chinese investment–which includes heavy engineering, power generation, mining, and telecommunications–was valued at $4 billion in 2007 and is expected to rise to $15 billion by 2010.[69]

As the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. further explained, “Pakistan thinks that both China and the United States are crucial for it,” however, he went on, “If push comes to shove, it would probably choose China–but for this moment, it doesn’t look like there has to be a choice.” The recent U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement has further entrenched a distrust of America within Pakistan and pushed the country closer to China. In 2010, China announced it would be building two nuclear power reactors in Pakistan.[70]

In 2007, China and Pakistan inaugurated Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province along the Arabian Sea, creating the first major point in an “energy corridor” which would eventually bring oil from the Gulf overland through Pakistan into China. China financed the building of the port city for $200 million, with plans to fund billions more worth of railroads, roads, and pipelines which would link Gwadar Port to China. Pakistan is strategically placed in the centre of the new ‘Great Game’, a nomenclature for the great imperial battles over Central Asia in the 19th century. Pakistan is neighbour to Iran, India, China, and Afghanistan, with a coastline on the Arabian Sea. Thus, Pakistan is situated between the oil-rich Middle East and the natural gas-rich Central Asian countries, with two of the fastest growing economies in the world – India and China – as energy-hungry neighbours; with the imperial presence of America in neighbouring Afghanistan, with its eye focused intensely on neighbouring Iran. A ‘Great Game’ ensues, drawing in Russia, China, India and America, and the main focus of the game is pipelines.[71]

China has a major pipeline project in the works to bring in natural gas from Central Asia, transporting the gas from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and into China, which is set to be completed by 2013.[72] Iran, OPEC’s second largest oil exporter (after Saudi Arabia), is among the top ten oil exporters to China, and in 2010 it was reported that the Chinese have invested roughly $40 billion in Iran’s oil and gas sectors, including financing for the construction of seven new oil refineries, as well as various oil and gas pipeline projects.[73] In June of 2011, it was reported that China’s oil imports from Iran have increased by 32%, signaling a growing importance in the relationship between the two countries. The largest three oil exporters to China are Saudi Arabia, Angola, and Iran, respectively.[74]

The Gwadar Port city built by Chinese investments is destined to be a central hub in the pipeline politics of the ‘Great Game,’ in particular between the competing pipeline projects of the Trans-Afghan Pipeline (TAP or TAPI), involving a pipeline bringing natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and into India; and the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (IPI). The major issue here is that the TAPI pipeline cannot be built so long as Afghanistan is plunged into war, thus the project has been incessantly stalled. On the other hand, India has been wavering and moving out of the picture in the IPI pipeline, in no small measure due to its increasingly close relations with the United States, which has sought to dissuade Pakistan from building a pipeline with Iran. However, in 2010, Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement, and are willing to either allow India or China to be the beneficiary of the pipeline. Whether going to India or China, Gwadar Port will be a central hub in this project.[75] Pakistan has now been seeking direct help from China on the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project.[76] The U.S., for its part, warned Pakistan against signing onto a pipeline project with Iran, yet Pakistan proceeded with the project regardless.[77]

The southern Pakistani province of Balochistan is home to oil, gas, copper, gold, and coal reserves, not to mention, it is the strategic corridor through which the pipeline projects would run, and is home to the strategically significant port city of Gwadar. For the past fifty years, however, Balochistan has been a major hub of Chinese investment and opportunity, with Chinese companies having poured $15 billion into projects in the province, including the construction of an oil refinery, copper and zinc mines, and of course, Gwadar Port.[78] India is increasingly concerned about China’s presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. China is building ports not only in Pakistan, but in Bangladesh and Burma, as well as railroad lines in Nepal.[79]

Following the supposed assassination of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. in Pakistani territory, tensions between Pakistan and America increased, and ties between China and Pakistan deepened. The Chinese were subsequently approached by the Pakistanis to take control of the port of Gwadar, and perhaps to even build a Pakistani naval base there, though the Chinese have denied Pakistani claims that any such deal had been reached. China, further, in response to the apparent U.S. assassination of Bin Laden, said that the ‘international community’ (referring to the United States) “must respect” Pakistani sovereignty. Indian news quoted diplomatic sources as saying that China “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China.”[80]

Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani visited China on a state visit shortly after the American raid into Pakistan. Following the meetings, China agreed to immediately provide 50 fighter jets to Pakistan, a clear signal that Pakistan is looking for alternatives to its American dependence, and China is all too happy to provide such an alternative.[81] As the Financial Times reported, “Pakistan has asked China to build a naval base at its south-western port of Gwadar and expects the Chinese navy to maintain a regular presence there.”[82] China has also signaled that it would be interested in setting up foreign military bases, just as the United States has, and specifically is interested in such a base inside Pakistan. The aim “would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”[83]

Conclusion

It would seem, then, that the true cause of chaos, destabilization, and war in Pakistan is not the Orientalist perspective of Pakistanis being the ‘Other’: barbaric, backwards, violent and self-destructive, in need to ‘intervention’ to right their own wrongs. Following along the same lines as the dismantling of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the destabilization of Pakistan is aimed at wider strategic objectives for the Western imperial powers: namely, the isolation of China. While Pakistan has long been a staunch U.S. puppet regime, in the wider geopolitical context of a global rivalry between the United States and China for control of the world’s resources and strategic positions, Pakistan may be sacrificed upon the altar of empire. The potential result of this strategy, in a country exceeding 180 million people, armed with nuclear weapons, and in the centre of one of the most tumultuous regions in the world, may be cataclysmic, perhaps even resulting in a war between the ‘great powers.’ The only way to help prevent such a potential scenario would be to analyze the strategy further, and expose it to a much wider audience, thus initiating a wider public discussion on the issue. As long as the public discourse on Pakistan is framed as an issue of “terrorism” and the “War on Terror” alone, this strategic nightmare will continue forward.

As the saying goes, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

But so too then, can war be the casualty of Truth.

 

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).  He is co-editor, with Michel Chossudovsky, of the recent book, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century,” available to order at Globalresearch.ca. He is currently working on a forthcoming book on ’Global Government’.

Notes

[1]        Russell Berman, Despite Criticism, Obama Stands By Adviser Brzezinski. The New York Sun: September 13, 2007:
http://www.nysun.com/national/despite-criticism-obama-stands-by-adviser/62534/

[2]        Eli Lake, Obama Adviser Leads Delegation to Damascus. The New York Sun: February 12, 2008:
http://www.nysun.com/foreign/obama-adviser-leads-delegation-to-damascus/71123/

[3]        Jonathan Tepperman, How Obama’s Star Could Fall. Newsweek: October 13, 2008:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/162316

[4]        Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, McCain and Obama advisers briefed on deteriorating Afghan war. The New York Times: October 31, 2008:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/31/world/americas/31iht-31policy.17405861.html

[5]        George Packer, The Last Mission. The New Yorker: September 28, 1009:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/28/090928fa_fact_packer

[6]        Ibid.

[7]        Ibid.

[8]        Michael Abramowitz, Shailagh Murray and Anne E. Kornblut, Obama Close to Choosing Clinton, Jones for Key Posts. The Washington Post: November 22, 2008:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/21/AR2008112103981.html

[9]        Ibid.

[10]      About Us, Our Mission. Chamber of Commerce: Institute for 21st Century Energy:
http://www.energyxxi.org/pages/about_us.aspx

[11]      JOHN D. MCKINNON and T.W. FARNAM, Hedge Fund Paid Summers $5.2 Million in Past Year. The Wall Street Journal: April 5, 2009:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123879462053487927.html

[12]      James L. Jones, Remarks by National Security Adviser Jones at 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy. The Council on Foreign Relations: February 8, 2009:
http://www.cfr.org/publication/18515/remarks_by_national_security_adviser_jones_at_45th_munich_conference_on_security_policy.html

[13]      Ibid.

[14]      Julian E. Barnes, Obama team works on overhaul of Afghanistan, Pakistan policy. Los Angeles Times: February 11, 2009:
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/11/world/fg-us-afghan11

[15]      Henry A. Kissinger, A Strategy for Afghanistan. The Washington Post: February 26, 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/25/AR2009022503124.html

[16]      George Packer, The Last Mission. The New Yorker: September 28, 1009:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/28/090928fa_fact_packer

[17]      Ibid.

[18]      Eric Schmitt, Obama Taps a General as the Envoy to Kabul. The New York Times: January 29, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/washington/30diplo.html

[19]      Ibid.

[20]      Agencies, US fires top general in Afghanistan as war worsens. China Daily: May 12, 2009:
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2009-05/12/content_7766306.htm

[21]      Ann Scott Tyson, Top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Is Fired. The Washington Post: May 12, 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/11/AR2009051101864.html

[22]      Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Pentagon Worries Led to Command Change. The Washington Post: August 17, 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/16/AR2009081602304_pf.html

[23]      Ann Scott Tyson, Top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Is Fired. The Washington Post: May 12, 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/11/AR2009051101864.html

[24]      Agencies, US fires top general in Afghanistan as war worsens. China Daily: May 12, 2009:
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2009-05/12/content_7766306.htm

[25]      Muriel Kane, Hersh: ‘Executive assassination ring’ reported directly to Cheney. The Raw Story: March 11, 2009:
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Hersh_US_has_been_running_executive_0311.html

[26]      Transcript, Seymour Hersh: Secret US Forces Carried Out Assassinations in a Dozen Countries, Including in Latin America. Democracy Now!: March 31, 2009:
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/31/seymour_hersh_secret_us_forces_carried

[27]      MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT, U.S. Halted Some Raids in Afghanistan. The New York Times: March 9, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/world/asia/10terror.html

[28]      Ann Scott Tyson, Manhunter To Take On a Wider Mission. The Washington Post: May 13, 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/12/AR2009051203679_pf.html

[29]      THOM SHANKER and ERIC SCHMITT, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Is Given More Leeway. The New York Times: June 10, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/world/asia/11command.html

[30]      Michael Hirsh and John Barry, The Hidden General. Newsweek: June 26, 2006:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/52445

[31]      KIMBERLY DOZIER and ADAM GOLDMAN, Counterterrorist Pursuit Team: 3,000 Man CIA Paramilitary Force Hunts Militants In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Huffington Post, 22 September 2010:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/22/counterterrorist-pursuit-_n_734961.html

[32]      Andrew Gray, US Afghan surge could push militants into Pakistan. Reuters: May 21, 2009:
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N21412211.htm

[33]      Isambard Wilkinson, Top US official warns that war in Afghanistan strengthens Taliban in Pakistan. The Telegraph: May 22, 2009:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/5369740/Top-US-official-warns-that-war-in-Afghanistan-strengthens-Taliban-in-Pakistan.html

[34]      AP, Afghanistan surge tied to Pakistan stability. MSNBC: May 21, 2009:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30871807/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

[35]      George Packer, The Last Mission. The New Yorker: September 28, 2009:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/28/090928fa_fact_packer

[36]      Tom Andrews, Classified McChrystal Report: 500,000 Troops Will Be Required Over Five Years in Afghanistan. Huffington Post: September 24, 2009:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-andrews/classified-mcchrystal-rep_b_298528.html

[37]      Greg Miller, CIA expanding presence in Afghanistan. The Los Angeles Times: September 20, 2009:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-intel20-2009sep20,0,1183243.story?page=1

[38]      Ann Scott Tyson, Support Troops Swelling U.S. Force in Afghanistan. The Washington Post: October 13, 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/12/AR2009101203142.html?hpid=topnews

[39]      Henry A. Kissinger, Deployments and Diplomacy. Newsweek: October 12, 2009:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/216704

[40]      Ibid.

[41]      Ibid.

[42]      Travis Lupick, Suspended Afghan MP Malalai Joya wants NATO’s mission to end. The Georgia Straight: November 12, 2009:
http://www.straight.com/article-270310/vancouver/afghan-activist-wants-natos-mission-end

[43]      US surge in Afghanistan ‘may destablize Pakistan’. Press TV: November 30, 2009:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=112484&sectionid=351020401

[44]      Scott Wilson, Obama: U.S. security is still at stake. The Washington Post: December 2, 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/01/AR2009120101231.html

[45]      Julian E. Barnes and Tony Perry, Afghanistan will need U.S. help for 15 to 20 years, Karzai says. The Los Angeles Times: December 9, 2009:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-afghan-mcchrystal9-2009dec09,0,224382.story

[46]      Seth G. Jones, Take the War to Pakistan. The New York Times: December 3, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/opinion/04jones.html

[47]      Jeremy Scahill, U.S. War Privatization Results in Billions Lost in Fraud, Waste and Abuse—Report. Rebel Reports: June 10, 2009:
http://rebelreports.com/post/121172812/u-s-war-privatization-results-in-billions-lost-in

[48]      Justin Elliott, As Obama Sends More Troops, Giant Shadow Army Of Contractors Set To Grow In Afghanistan. TPMMuckraker: December 1, 2009:
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/as_obama_sends_more_troops_giant_shadow_army_of_co.php?ref=fpb

[49]      Karin Brulliard, Pakistan worried U.S. buildup in Afghanistan will send militants across border. The Washington Post: January 5, 2010:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/04/AR2010010403335.html

[50]      Jeremy Scahill, The Secret US War in Pakistan. The Nation: November 23, 2009:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091207/scahill

[51]      Ibid.

[52]      Mark Mazzetti, C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists. The New York Times: August 19, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html

[53]      James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids. The New York Times: December 10, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/us/politics/11blackwater.html

[54]      James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, C.I.A. Said to Use Outsiders to Put Bombs on Drones. The New York Times: August 20, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/us/21intel.html

[55]      Mark Mazzetti, Blackwater Loses a Job for the C.I.A. The New York Times: December 11, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/12/us/politics/12blackwater.html

[56]      Declan Walsh and Ewen MacAskill, Blackwater operating at CIA Pakistan base, ex-official says. The Guardian: December 11, 2009:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/11/blackwater-in-cia-pakistan-base

[57]      CIA admits Blackwater presence in Pakistan. Press TV: December 12, 2009:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=113512&sectionid=351020401

[58]      Gates confirms Blackwater presence in Pakistan. Press TV: January 22, 2010:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116754&sectionid=351020401

[59]      Blackwater behind Pakistan bombings: Ex-intel chief. Press TV: December 12, 2009:
http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=113540&sectionid=351020401

[60]      Pakistan Taliban airs video denial. Al-Jazeera: November 16, 2009:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/11/20091116145058336650.html

[61]      Xihua, Taliban in Pakistan blame U.S. Blackwater for deadly blast. China View: October 29, 2009:
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-10/29/content_12358907.htm

[62]      Richard Lardner, Xe Services aiming for Afghan police training deal. The Guardian: January 9, 2010:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8891058

[63]      Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder. The Nation: August 4, 2009:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090817/scahill

[64]      Ibid.

[65]      Adam Ciralsky, Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy. Vanity Fair: January 2010:
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/01/blackwater-201001

[66]      Ibid.

[67]      Ibid.

[68]      Blackwater involved in Bhutto and Hariri hits: former Pakistani army chief. Tehran Times: September 14, 2009:
http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=203224

[69]      Jamal Afridi and Jayshree Bajoria, China-Pakistan Relations, Backgrounder: Council on Foreign Relations, 6 July 2010:
http://www.cfr.org/china/china-pakistan-relations/p10070

[70]      Jamal Afridi and Jayshree Bajoria, China-Pakistan Relations, Backgrounder: Council on Foreign Relations, 6 July 2010:
 http://www.cfr.org/china/china-pakistan-relations/p10070

[71]      David Montero, China, Pakistan team up on energy, Christian Science Monitor, 13 April 2007:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0413/p06s01-wosc.html

[72]      Li Woke, China to enhance natural gas imports via Central Asian pipeline, Global Times, 19 September 2010:
http://business.globaltimes.cn/industries/2010-09/574887.html

[73]      JPost Staff, China invests $40b. in Iran oil and gas, The Jerusalem Post, 31 July 2010:
http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=183200

[74]      China oil imports from Iran up 32 percent, Trend Energy News, 8 June 2011:
http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/1888392.html

[75]      Pepe Escobar, China wages “war” over Asian pipelines, Salon, 12 October 2010:
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/10/12/china_oil_gas_pipeline

[76]      Pakistan Seeks China’s Help for IP Gas Pipeline, Gulf Oil and Gas, 13 March 2011:
http://www.gulfoilandgas.com/webpro1/MAIN/Mainnews.asp?id=14611

[77]      AP, US opposes Pakistan-Iran pipeline deal, The Jerusalem Post, 21 June 2010:
http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?ID=179002

[78]      Maha Atal, China’s Pakistan Corridor, Forbes, 10 May 2010:
http://www.forbes.com/global/2010/0510/companies-pakistan-oil-gas-balochistan-china-pak-corridor.html

[79]      VIKAS BAJAJ, India Worries as China Builds Ports in South Asia, The New York Times, 15 February 2010:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/business/global/16port.html

[80]      China asks US to respect Pak’s sovereignty, independence, Economic Times, 20 May 2011:
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-05-20/news/29565072_1_pakistan-s-ambassador-pakistan-china-pakistan-media

[81]      JANE PERLEZ, China Gives Pakistan 50 Fighter Jets, The New York Times, 19 May 2011:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/world/asia/20pakistan.html?_r=3

[82]      Farhan Bokhari and Kathrin Hille, Pakistan turns to China for naval base, The Financial Times, 22 May 2011:
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/3914bd36-8467-11e0-afcb-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1Ol8EY8QF

[83]      Saibal Dasgupta, China mulls setting up military base in Pakistan, The Times of India, 28 January 2010:
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-01-28/china/28120878_1_karokoram-highway-military-bases-north-west-frontier-province

South Africa’ s Youth Face a Grim Future

June 30th, 2011 by Danny Schechter

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: I got into South Africa before I got there.

I did so through meeting a young woman whose given name wasPony in the tradition of South Africans who call their daughters, “Beautiful”or “Truth” or some other creative appellation.

She was on her way home to a small country town, after a year spent in Cuba where she is in a course teaching scientific sport. She was one of a number of scholarship students traveling on the plane with me from Madrid. Cuba had adopted the systematic training system or Sports institutes used in East Germany and put it to good advantage in its award winning State backed athletic program. Now they are sharing their knowledge with other Third World countries

Pony, in her late teens, was one of a large number of foreign students attracted to the idea, and was selected by the Cuban Embassy in Pretoria for the five year opportunity beginning with a immersive Spanish language course. She now speaks Spanish pretty well, and knows all the Cuban revolutionary songs and slogans like “Patria O’ Muerte, Veneceremos,”(“Fatherland or Death, We Will Win”) that tens of thousands of Cubans echo at huge rallies. She laughed when I chanted one at her as we unexpectedly sat next to each other on the large Iberia jet.

As it turned out, I knew more about Cuba’s role insupporting South Africa’s liberation struggle, a gesture of solidarity that ledto Fidel Castro being cheered the loudest of all foreign heads of State whoattended Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as the first President of a DemocraticSouth Africa. I covered the scene in a film, Countdown To Freedom that I madeabout the historic l994 election.

Cuba’s foreign policy has put a premium on backing revolutionary movements since 1960 and was the only country in the world to openly help South Africa militarily by sending its own troops—“internationalist volunteers” to Angola where they defeated the apartheid army in a crucial battle that accelerated the process of politicalchange in Southern Africa. Many Cubans died alongside Angolan soldiers and South African liberation fighters in a war that has been largely forgotten.

Cuba has, in the years since, mellowed in its revolutionary ardor and is in the process of reforming its top-down Socialist economy.

After 19 years of “freedom,” post apartheid South Africa has also cooled its commitment to “struggle politics” and has become more of a“normal” African state, albeit an advanced one economically. It is now battling corruption within the ranks of its government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) while coping with enormous challenges to create a new society sothat youngsters like Pony who are very ambitious and eager to learn will have afuture.

She admitted to me she doesn’t know as much about politics or her own history as she would like, and says that’s true of many in her generation. That’s in part because the real history is not taught in any detail the schools or shown with any regularity on South African TV stations that are more into selling than telling by endlessly pumping out sports and popular culture shows.

Kids know more about Mandela than the movement he led, an expression of the celebrity worship that dominates youth culture.  On TV here, Oprah is better known than such lionesses of the freedom fight as Albertina Sisulu, revered by many as the Mother of the Nation, who died a month ago.

When I asked a young white South African girl who the ANC leader and Mandela law partner Oliver Tambo was, she said, “you mean the airport guy?” Johannesburg’s principal airport was renamed for Tambo after years of honoring Afrikaner leaders. (This is all more anecdotal evidence for why South Africa needs its own History Channel of the kind being proposed by producer Anant Singh.)

In Durban, where streets are being renamed for other liberation heroes vandals have blacked out the new street names with paint to protest the change. I was told that people are pissed off  in part because it screws up the GPS’s in their cars. (I was thrilled to see a highway named after my old friend and London School of Economics colleague, the South African journalist and feminist heroine Ruth First.)

As it turns out, Pony was flying home on June 16th,the annual youth day holiday marking the anniversary of the Soweto uprising of l976 where kids Pony’s age and younger revolted against forced instruction in Afrikaans. (South Africans were scandalized when an iconic picture of a young man carrying a victim of that police massacre was mocked on Facebook. In the new one, the child who had been shot in the original was portrayed smiling and carrying a bottle of beer,)

 At least Youth Day is commemorated, as it was this year with concerts and hip-hop shows. In Soweto this time, there was riot when local kids felt excluded and fought their way into a stadium while private cops maced and beat them to the horror of many onlookers. The event turned into chaos when all many kids wanted to do was “krump.” the latest street dance craze.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma hardly made the ceremony a priority, showing up three hours late after most of the crowd left in the company of Julius Malema, the controversial head of the ANC’s Youth League. Malema claims to be a youth leader but he is more like a demagogic politician who has learned that the more outrageous his statements, the more “militant” his pose, the more publicity he gets. Sadly the media can’t get enough of his provocations.

He and his League are certainly not doing much of a practical sort to improve education or create jobs for tens of thousands of unemployed and perhaps unemployable young people who cheer his rhetoric while being stuck in lives of crime and desperation. They are not visible in the fight against pervasive child abuse, youth homelessness and even starvation in South Africa.

Here in Durban, one newspaper says “the youth today mistake nastiness, name-calling, crass materialism and the sale of political office to the highest bidder for revolutionary thought.” Some of those demanding more youth leadership are being dismissed as “Gucci revolutionaries.”

Their agenda to nationalize the mines without compensation,a demand rejected by the ANC, is seen as radical to some but analysts think itis a ploy to shake down patronage payments out of worried business leaders, some of whom have already made “donations.” 

Even if you agree with it ideologically, the government’strack record in poorly running industries-so called parastatals—does not inspire confidence.

A new book, “Zuma’s Own Goal,” (Africa World Press) picturing the president playing soccer on the cover, details the miserable failures of the ANC’s poverty reduction strategies arguing its continuing loyalty to neo-liberal policies are responsible for a still widening gap between rich and Poor.

Another less academic work, Alexander Parker’s “50 People Who Have Stuffed Up South Africa,” is merciless in denouncing the pathetic job done by the electricity monopoly ESKOM.

Does the government have the chops to run the mines?  Apparently not!

South Africa was rebranded globally though last year’s World Cup that brought the country so much world attention and its people so much good cheer.

But now, the people are left with enormous debts to pay off for the construction of fancy stadiums that are barely used. The global financial crisis has also now hit home with unemployment and poverty up and foreign investments down.

The “Rainbow Nation, the hope of so many with the fall of apartheid, faces enormous challenges from structural economic issues that are increasingly intractable, even as waves of  new protests mount against a lack of government services.

My new friend Pony seems oblivious to this swirl of contradictions but is bound to be affected by them. I did appreciated her gift of a Che Guevara key ring.

News Dissector Danny Schechter produced the South Africa NowTV series and directed several films about Nelson Mandela. Comments to [email protected]. “Don’tKnow Much About History,” is a line from an R&B hit sung by Sam Cooke.

The War Against Libya

June 30th, 2011 by Cynthia McKinney

A hearty group of protesters representing several community organizations showed up today to protest the vote of civil rights icon and Member of Congress from Atlanta, John Lewis, to continue funding for the bombing of Libya.  The Congressman interrupted his schedule and heard the frustrations of his constituents who are outraged at  the quiescence of Congress, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Progressive Caucus in light of President Obama’s policy to bomb Africa.  As we were meeting with the Congressman, President Obama was addressing the country on national television defending his actions in Libya.  The Congressman reiterated his antipathy to war by saying that “war is obsolete.”  The group asked the Congressman to be unequivocal in future votes and deny funding for President Obama’s current wars.

Meanwhile, while we were meeting with Congressman Lewis, President Obama was speaking to the nation.  Incredibly, the President demeaned national and Congressional concern for his war policy as “fuss” by saying, “A lot of this fuss is politics.”  I think those of us who want our country to work for peace should let this President know what “fuss” really looks like.


Below are my remarks at our event today and video will soon be on its way.  Below that, see what the President calls “fuss.”  Our concern is a matter of life and death for the people of Libya who deserve to be able to exercise their rights without the shock and awe of NATO bombs and missiles.

1. 

Cynthia McKinney
Remarks
Press Conference on War Against Libya
Atlanta, Georgia (in front of Congressman John Lewis’s District Office)
29 June 2011

At a time when the American people have been asked to tighten their belts, teachers are receiving pink slips, the vital statistics of the American people reveal a health care crisis in the making, and the U.S. government is in serious threat of default, our President and Congress have decided that a new war, this time against the people of Libya, is appropriate. This comes at a time when the U.S., by one estimate, spends approximately $3 billion per week for war against Iraq and Afghanistan.  The President and Congress continue to fund the war against Libya despite the fact that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the U.S. had no strategic interest in Libya; and despite the fact that the Senate Chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence admits that the U.S. really does not know who the “rebels” are; while the rebels themselves, according to a Telegraph report of 25 March 2011, admit that Al Qaeda elements are among their ranks.  So while the apparatus of our government has been used for over ten years to inform the American people and the global community that Al Qaeda is an enemy of freedom-loving people all over the world, our President chooses to ally our military with none other than Al Qaeda elements in Libya and other people whom U.S. intelligence say they do not know.

Additionally, U.S. Admiral Locklear admitted to a Member of Congress that one of NATO’s missions was to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi.  And, indeed, NATO bombs have killed Qaddafi’s son and three grandchildren, just as US bombs in 1986 killed his daughter.  NATO bombs just recently killed the grandchildren of one of Qaddafi’s associates in a targeted assassination attempt. Targeted assassination is not within the scope of the United Nations Security Council Resolution and targeted assassination is against U.S. law, international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.  Targeted assassination is also a crime.  We certainly cannot encourage others to abide by the law when we so openly break it.

While in Libya, I witnessed NATO’s targeting of civilians:  NATO bombs and missiles landed in residential neighborhoods, hit schools, exploded near hospitals, destroyed parts of the public broadcasting infrastructure, and narrowly missed killing students at Al Fateh University.  When civilians are targeted in war, or “low kinetic” activities, crimes are committed.

NATO practices in Libya are exactly like Israel’s practices in Gaza:  fishermen are killed as they go about their fishing business, a naval blockade allows arms to flow to NATO’s Libyan allies, but stops food, fuel, and medicine from entering non-NATO ally-held areas.  The entire population suffers as a result.  Collective punishment is illegal when Israel practices it against the people of Gaza and collective punishment is illegal when NATO practices it.

NATO and hyperbolic press accounts have introduced a kind of race hatred that the Libyan people have been trying hard to erase.  Approximately 50% of Libya looks like me.  Innocent darker skinned Libyans have been targeted, tortured, harassed, and killed.

The people of Libya have the right to self-determination.  They have a right to “resource nationalism.”  They have a right to live in peace.  They have a right to determine their future and they need not exercise their rights underneath the shock and awe of NATO bombs and missiles.

Making the World Safe for Hypocrisy

June 30th, 2011 by Michael Parenti

Why has the United States government supported counterinsurgency in Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and many other places around the world, at such a loss of human life to the populations of those nations? Why did it invade tiny Grenada and then Panama? Why did it support mercenary wars against progressive governments in Nicaragua, Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, East Timor, Western Sahara, South Yemen, and elsewhere?

Is it because our leaders want to save democracy? Are they concerned about the well-being of these defenseless peoples? Is our national security threatened? I shall try to show that the arguments given to justify U.S. policies are false ones.

But this does not mean the policies themselves are senseless. American intervention may seem “wrongheaded” but, in fact, it is fairly consistent and horribly successful.

The history of the United States has been one of territorial and economic expansionism, with the benefits going mostly to the U.S. business class in the form of growing investments and markets, access to rich natural resources and cheap labor, and the accumulation of enormous profits.

The American people have had to pay the costs of empire, supporting a huge military establishment with their taxes, while suffering the loss of jobs, the neglect of domestic services, and the loss of tens of thousands of American lives in overseas military ventures.

The greatest costs, of course, have been borne by the peoples of the Third World who have endured poverty, pillage, disease, dispossession, exploitation, illiteracy, and the widespread destruction of their lands, cultures, and lives.

As a relative latecomer to the practice of colonialism, the United States could not match the older European powers in the acquisition of overseas territories. But the United States was the earliest and most consummate practitioner of neoimperialism or neocolonialism, the process of dominating the politico-economic life of a nation without benefit of direct possession.

Almost half a century before the British thought to give a colonized land its nominal independence, as in India-while continuing to exploit its labor and resources, and dominate its markets and trade-the United States had perfected this practice in Cuba and elsewhere.

In places like the Philippines, Haiti, and Nicaragua, and when dealing with Native American nations, U.S. imperialism proved itself as brutal as the French in Indochina, the Belgians in the Congo, the Spaniards in South America, the Portuguese in Angola, the Italians in Libya, the Germans in Southwest Africa, and the British almost everywhere else. Not long ago, U.S. military forces delivered a destruction upon Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that surpassed anything perpetuated by the older colonizers. And today, the U.S. counterinsurgency apparatus and surrogate security forces in Latin America and elsewhere sustain a system of political assassination, torture, and repression unequaled in technological sophistication and ruthlessness.

All this is common knowledge to progressive critics of U.S policy, but most Americans would be astonished to hear of it. They have been taught that, unlike other nations, their country has escaped the sins of empire and has been a champion of peace and justice among nations. This enormous gap between what the United States does in the world and what Americans think their nation is doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.

It should be noted, though, that despite the endless propaganda barrage emanating from official sources and the corporate-owned major media, large sectors of the public have throughout U.S. history displayed an anti-interventionist sentiment, an unwillingness to commit U.S. troops to overseas actions-a sentiment facilely labeled “isolationism” by the interventionists.

The Rational Function of Policy Myths

Within U.S. ruling circles there are differences of opinion regarding interventionist policy. There are conservatives who complain that U.S. policy is plagued by weakness and lacks toughness and guts and all the other John Wayne virtues. And there are liberals who say U.S. policy is foolish and relies too heavily on military solutions and should be more flexible and co-optive when protecting and advancing the interests of the United States (with such interests usually left unspecified).

A closer look reveals that U.S. foreign policy is neither weak nor foolish, but on the contrary is rational and remarkably successful in reproducing the conditions for the continued international expropriation of wealth, and that while it has suffered occasional setbacks, the people who run the foreign policy establishment in Washington know what they are doing and why they are doing it.

If the mythology they offer as justification for their policies seems irrational, this does not mean that the policies themselves are irrational from the standpoint of the class interests of those who pursue such policies. This is true of domestic myths and policies as well as those pertaining to foreign policy.

Once we grasp this, we can see how notions and arrangements that are harmful, wasteful, indeed, destructive of human and social values-and irrational from a human and social viewpoint-are not irrational for global finance capital because the latter has no dedication to human and social values. Capitalism has no loyalty to anything but itself, to the accumulation of wealth. Once we understand that, we can see the cruel rationality of the seemingly irrational myths that Washington policy makers peddle. Some times what we see as irrational is really the discrepancy between what the myth wants us to believe and what is true.

But again this does not mean the interests served are stupid or irrational, as the liberals like to complain. There is a difference between confusion and deception, a difference between stupidity and subterfuge. Once we understand the underlying class interests of the ruling circles, we will be less mystified by their myths.

A myth is not an idle tale or a fanciful story but a powerful cultural force used to legitimate existing social relations. The interventionist mythology does just that, by emphasizing a community of interests between interventionists in Washington and the American people when in fact there is none, and by blurring over the question of who pays and who profits from U.S. global interventionism.

The mythology has been with us for so long and much of it sufficiently internalized by the public as to be considered part of the political culture. The interventionist mythology, like all other cultural beliefs, does not just float about in space. It must be mediated through a social structure. The national media play a crucial role in making sure that no fundamentally critical views of the rationales underlying and justifying U.S. policy gain national exposure. A similar role is played by the various institutes and policy centers linked to academia and, of course, by political lead ers themselves.

Saving Democracy with Tyranny

Our leaders would have us believe we intervened in Nicaragua, for instance, because the Sandinista government was opposed to democracy. The U.S.-supported invasion by right-wing Nicaraguan mercenaries was an “effort to bring them to elections.” Putting aside the fact that the Sandinistas had already conducted fair and open elections in 1984, we might wonder why U.S. leaders voiced no such urgent demand for free elections and Western-style parliamentarism during the fifty years that the Somoza dictatorship-installed and supported by the United States-plundered and brutalized the Nicaraguan nation.

Nor today does Washington show any great concern for democracy in any of the U.S.-backed dictatorships around the world (unless one believes that the electoral charade in a country like El Salvador qualifies as “democracy”).

If anything, successive U.S. administrations have worked hard to subvert constitutional and popularly accepted governments that pursued policies of social reform favorable to the downtrodden and working poor. Thus the U.S. national security state was instrumental in the overthrow of popular reformist leaders such as Arbenz in Guatemala, Jagan in Guyana, Mossadegh in Iran, Bosch in the Dominican Republic, Sukarno in Indonesia, Goulart in Brazil, and Allende in Chile.

And let us not forget how the United States assisted the militarists in overthrowing democratic governments in Greece, Uruguay, Bolivia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Turkey. Given this record, it is hard to believe that the CIA trained, armed, and financed an expeditionary force of Somocista thugs and mercenaries out of a newly acquired concern for Western-style electoral politics in Nicaragua.

In defense of the undemocratic way U.S. leaders go about “saving democracy,” our policy makers offer this kind of sophistry: “We cannot always pick and choose our allies. Sometimes we must support unsavory right-wing authoritarian regimes in order to prevent the spread of far more repressive totalitarian communist ones.”

But surely, the degree of repression cannot be the criterion guiding White House policy, for the United States has supported some of the worst butchers in the world: Batista in Cuba, Somoza in Nicaragua, the Shah in Iran, Salazar in Portugal, Marcos in the Philippines, Pinochet in Chile, Zia in Pakistan, Evren in Turkey, and even Pol Pot in Cambodia.

In the 1965 Indonesian coup, the military slaughtered 500,000 people, according to the Indonesian chief of security (New York Times, 12/21/77; some estimates run twice as high), but this did not deter U.S. leaders from assisting in that takeover or from maintaining cozy relations with the same Jakarta regime that subsequently perpetuated a campaign of repression and mass extermination in East Timor.

U.S. leaders and the business-owned mainstream press describe “Marxist rebels” in countries like El Salvador as motivated by a lust for conquest. Our leaders would have us believe that revolutionaries do not seek power in order to eliminate hunger; they simply hunger for power. But even if this were true, why would that be cause for opposing them?

Washington policy makers have never been bothered by the power appetites of the “moderate” right-wing authoritarian executionists, torturers, and militarists.

In any case, it is not true that leftist governments are more repressive than fascist ones. The political repression under the Sandinistas in Nicaragua was far less than what went on under Somoza. The political repression in Castro’s Cuba is mild compared to the butchery perpetrated by the free-market Batista regime. And the revolutionary government in Angola treats its people much more gently than did the Portuguese colonizers.

Furthermore, in a number of countries successful social revolutionary movements have brought a net increase in individual freedom and well-being by advancing the conditions for health and human life, by providing jobs and education for the unemployed and illiterate, by using economic resources for social development rather than for corporate profit, and by overthrowing brutal reactionary regimes, ending foreign exploitation, and involving large sectors of the populace in the task of rebuilding their countries. Revolutions can extend a number of real freedoms without destroying those freedoms that never existed under prior reactionary regimes.

Who Threatens Whom?

Our policy makers also argue that right-wing governments, for all their deficiencies, are friendly toward the United States, while communist ones are belligerent and therefore a threat to U.S. security. But, in truth, every Marxist or left-leaning country, from a great power like the Soviet Union to a small power like Vietnam or Nicaragua to a minipower like Grenada under the New Jewel Movement, sought friendly diplomatic and economic relations with the United States.

These governments did so not necessarily out of love and affection for the United States, but because of something firmer-their own self-interest. As they themselves admitted, their economic development and political security would have been much better served if they could have enjoyed good relations with Washington.

If U.S. Ieaders justify their hostility toward leftist governments on the grounds that such nations are hostile toward us, what becomes the justification when these countries try to be friendly? When a newly established revolutionary or otherwise dissident regime threatens U.S. hegemonic globalists with friendly relations, this does pose a problem.

The solution is to (1) launch a well-orchestrated campaign of disinformation that heaps criticism on the new government for imprisoning the butchers, assassins, and torturers of the old regime and for failing to institute Western electoral party politics; (2) denounce the new government as a threat to our peace and security; (3) harass and destabilize it and impose economic sanctions; and (4) attack it with counterrevolutionary surrogate forces or, if necessary, U.S. troops. Long before the invasion, the targeted country responds with angry denunciations of U.S. policy.

It moves closer to other “outlawed” nations and attempts to build up its military defenses in anticipation of a U.S.-sponsored attack. These moves are eagerly seized upon by U.S. officials and media as evidence of the other country’s antagonism toward the United States, and as justification for the policies that evoked such responses.

Yet it is difficult to demonstrate that small countries like Grenada and Nicaragua are a threat to U.S. security. We remember the cry of the hawk during the Vietnam war: “If we don’t fight the Vietcong in the jungles of Indochina, we will have to fight them on the beaches of California.”

The image of the Vietnamese getting into their PT boats and crossing the Pacific to invade California was, as Walter Lippmann noted at the time, a grievous insult to the U.S. Navy. The image of a tiny ill-equipped Nicaraguan army driving up through Mexico and across the Rio Grande in order to lay waste to our land is equally ludicrous.

The truth is, the Vietnamese, Cubans, Grenadians, and Nicaraguans have never invaded the United States; it is the United States that has invaded Vietnam, Cuba, Grenada, and Nicaragua, and it is our government that continues to try to isolate, destabilize, and in other ways threaten any country that tries to drop out of the global capitalist system or even assert an economic nationalism within it.

Remember the Red Menace

For many decades of cold war, when all other arguments failed, there was always the Russian bear. According to our cold warriors, small leftist countries and insurgencies threatened our security because they were extensions of Soviet power. Behind the little Reds there supposedly stood the Giant Red Menace.

Evidence to support this global menace thesis was sometimes farfetched. President Carter and National Security Advisor Brezinski suddenly discovered a “Soviet combat brigade” in Cuba in 1979- which turned out to be a noncombat unit that had been there since 1962. This did not stop President Reagan from announcing to a joint session of Congress several years later: “Cuba is host to a Soviet combat brigade….”

In 1983, in a nationally televised speech, Reagan pointed to satellite photos that revealed the menace of three Soviet helicopters in Nicaragua. Sandinista officials subsequently noted that the helicopters could be seen by anyone arriving at Managua airport and, in any case, posed no military threat to the United States. Equally ingenious was the way Reagan transformed a Grenadian airport, built to accommodate direct tourist flights, into a killer-attack Soviet forward base, and a twenty-foot-deep Grenadian inlet into a potential Soviet submarine base.

In 1967 Secretary of State Dean Rusk argued that U.S. national security was at stake in Vietnam because the Vietnamese were puppets of “Red China” and if China won in Vietnam, it would overrun all of Asia and this supposedly would be the beginning of the end for all of us. Later we were told that the Salvadoran rebels were puppets of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua who were puppets of the Cubans who were puppets of the Russians.

In truth, there was no evidence that Third World peoples took up arms and embarked upon costly revolutionary struggles because some sinister ringmaster in Moscow or Peking cracked the whip. Revolutions are not push-button affairs; rather, they evolve only if there exits a reservoir of hope and grievance that can be galvanized into popular action. Revolutions are made when large segments of the population take courage from each other and stand up to an insufferable social order.

People are inclined to endure great abuses before risking their lives in confrontations with vastly superior armed forces. There is no such thing as a frivolous revolution, or a revolution initiated and orchestrated by a manipulative cabal residing in a foreign capital.

Nor is there evidence that once the revolution succeeded, the new leaders placed the interests of their country at the disposal of Peking or Moscow. Instead of becoming the willing puppets of “Red China,” as our policy makers predicted, Vietnam found itself locked in combat with its neighbor to the north. And, as noted earlier, almost every Third World revolutionary country has tried to keep its options open and has sought friendly diplomatic and economic relations with the United States.

Why then do U.S. Ieaders intervene in every region and almost every nation in the world, either overtly with U.S. military force or covertly with surrogate mercenary forces, death squads, aid, bribes, manipulated media, and rigged elections? Is all this intervention just an outgrowth of a deeply conditioned anticommunist ideology? Are U.S. Ieaders responding to the public’s longstanding phobia about the Red Menace?

Certainly many Americans are anticommunist, but this sentiment does not translate into a demand for overseas interventionism. Quite the contrary. Opinion polls over the last half-century have shown repeatedly that the U.S. public is not usually supportive of com mitting U.S. forces in overseas engagements and prefers friendly relations with other nations, including communist ones. Far from galvanizing our leaders into interventionist actions, popular opinion has been one of the few restraining influences.

There is no denying, however, that opinion can sometimes be successfully manipulated by jingoist ventures. The invasion of Grenada and the slaughter perpetrated against Iraq are cases in point. The quick, easy, low-cost wins reaffirmed for some Americans the feeling that we were not weak and indecisive, not sitting ducks to some foreign prey.

But even in these cases, it took an intensive and sustained propaganda barrage of half-truths and lies by the national security state and its faithful lackeys in the national media to muster some public support for military actions against Grenada and Iraq.

In sum, various leftist states do not pose a military threat to U.S. security; instead, they want to trade and live in peace with us, and are much less abusive and more helpful toward their people than the reactionary regimes they replaced.

In addition, U.S. Ieaders have shown little concern for freedom in the Third World and have helped subvert democracy in a number of nations. And popular opinion generally opposes interventionism by lopsided majorities. What then motivates U.S. policy and how can we think it is not confused and contradictory?

The answer is that Marxist and other leftist or revolutionary states do pose a real threat, not to the United States as a national entity and not to the American people as such, but to the corporate and financial interests of our country, to Exxon and Mobil, Chase Manhattan and First National, Ford and General Motors, Anaconda and U.S. Steel, and to capitalism as a world system.

The problem is not that revolutionaries accumulate power but that they use power to pursue substantive policies that are unacceptable to U.S. ruling circles. What bothers our political leaders (and generals, investment bankers, and corporate heads) is not the supposed lack of political democracy in these countries but their attempts to construct economic democracy, to depart from the impoverishing rigors of the international free market, to use capital and labor in a way that is inimical to the interests of multinational corporatism.

A New York Times editorial (3/30183) referred to “the undesirable and offensive Managua regime” and the danger of seeing “Marxist power ensconced in Managua.” But what specifically is so dangerous about “Marxist power ?”

What was undesirable and offensive about the Sandinista government in Managua? What did it do to us? What did it do to its own people? Was it the literacy campaign?

The health care and housing programs? The land reform and development of farm cooperatives? The attempt at rebuilding Managua, at increasing production or achieving a more equitable distribution of taxes, services, and food?

In large part, yes. Such reforms, even if not openly denounced by our government, do make a country suspect because they are symptomatic of an effort to erect a new and competing economic order in which the prerogatives of wealth and corporate investment are no longer secure, and the land, labor, and resources are no longer used primarily for the accumulation of corporate profits.

U.S. Ieaders and the corporate-owned press would have us believe they opposed revolutionary governments because the latter do not have an opposition press or have not thrown their country open to Western style (and Western-financed) elections. U.S. Ieaders come closer to their true complaint when they condemn such governments for interfering with the prerogatives of the “free market.”

Similarly, Henry Kissinger came close to the truth when he defended the fascist overthrow of the democratic government in Chile by noting that when obliged to choose between saving the economy or saving democracy, we must save the economy. Had Kissinger said, we must save the capitalist economy, it would have been the whole truth. For under Allende, the danger was not that the economy was collapsing (although the U.S. was doing its utmost to destabilize it); the real threat was that the economy was moving away from free-market capitalism and toward a more equitable social democracy, albeit in limited ways.

U.S. officials say they are for change just as long as it is peaceful and not violently imposed. Indeed, economic elites may some times tolerate very limited reforms, learning to give a little in order to keep a lot. But judging from Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and a number of other places, they have a low tolerance for changes, even peaceful ones, that tamper with the existing class structure and threaten the prerogatives of corporate and landed wealth.

To the rich and powerful it makes little difference if their interests are undone by a peaceful transformation rather than a violent upheaval. The means concern them much less than the end results. It is not the “violent” in violent revolution they hate; it is the “revolution.” (Third World elites seldom perish in revolutions. The worst of them usually manage to make it to Miami, Madrid, Paris, or New York.)

They dread socialism the way the rest of us might dread poverty and hunger. So, when push comes to shove, the wealthy classes of Third World countries, with a great deal of help from the corporate-military-political elites in our country, will use fascism to preserve capitalism while claiming they are saving democracy from communism.

A socialist Cuba or a socialist North Korea, as such, are not a threat to the survival of world capitalism. The danger is not socialism in any one country but a socialism that might spread to many countries. Multinational corporations, as their name implies, need the entire world, or a very large part of it, to exploit and to invest and expand in. There can be no such thing as “capitalism in one country.”

The domino theory-the view that if one country falls to the revolutionaries, others will follow in quick succession-may not work as automatically as its more fearful proponents claim, but there usually is a contagion, a power of example and inspiration, and sometimes even direct encouragement and assistance from one revolution to another.

Support the Good Guys?

If revolutions arise from the sincere aspirations of the populace, then it is time the United States identify itself with these aspi rations, so liberal critics keep urging. They ask: “Why do we always find ourselves on the wrong side in the Third World? Why are we always on the side of the oppressor?”

Too bad the question is treated as a rhetorical one, for it is deserving of a response. The answer is that right-wing oppressors, however heinous they be, do not tamper with, and give full support to, private investment and profit, while the leftists pose a challenge to that system.

There are those who used to say that we had to learn from the communists, copy their techniques, and thus win the battle for the hearts and minds of the people. Can we imagine the ruling interests of the United States abiding by this? The goal is not to copy communist reforms but to prevent them.

How would U.S. interventionists try to learn from and outdo the revolutionaries? Drive out the latifundio owners and sweatshop bosses? Kick out the plundering corporations and nationalize their holdings? Imprison the militarists and torturers? Redistribute the land, use capital investment for home consumption or hard currency exchange instead of cash crop exports that profit a rich few?

Install a national health insurance program and construct hospitals and clinics at public expense? Mobilize the population for literacy campaigns and for work in publicly owned enterprises? If U.S. rulers did all this, they would have done more than defeat the communists and other revolutionaries, they would have carried out the communists’ programs. They would have prevented revolution only by bringing about its effects-thereby defeating their own goals.

U.S. policy makers say they cannot afford to pick and choose the governments they support, but that is exactly what they do. And the pattern of choice is consistent through each successive administration regardless of the party or personality in office. U.S. Ieaders support those governments, be they autocratic or democratic in form, that are friendly toward capitalism and oppose those governments, be they autocratic or democratic, that seek to develop a noncapitalist social order.

Occasionally friendly relations are cultivated with noncapitalist nations like China if these countries show themselves in useful opposition to other socialist nations and are sufficiently open to private capital exploitation. In the case of China, the economic opportunity is so huge as to be hard to resist, the labor supply is plentiful and cheap, and the profit opportunities are great.

In any one instance, interventionist policies may be less concerned with specific investments than with protecting the global investment system. The United States had relatively little direct investment in Cuba, Vietnam, and Grenada-to mention three countries that Washington has invaded in recent years.

What was at stake in Grenada, as Reagan said, was something more than nutmeg. It was whether we would let a country develop a competing economic order, a different way of utilizing its land, labor, capital, and natural resources. A social revolution in any part of the world may or may not hurt specific U.S. corporations, but it nevertheless becomes part of a cumulative threat to private finance capital in general.

The United States will support governments that seek to suppress guerrilla movements, as in El Salvador, and will support guerrilla movements that seek to overthrow governments, as in Nicaragua. But there is no confusion or stupidity about it. It is incorrect to say, “We have no foreign policy” or “We have a stupid and confused foreign policy.”

Again, it is necessary not to confuse subterfuge with stupidity. The policy is remarkably rational. Its central organizing principle is to make the world safe for the multinational corporations and the free-market capital-accumulation system. However, our rulers cannot ask the U.S. public to sacrifice their tax dollars and the lives of their sons for Exxon and Chase Manhattan, for the profit system as such, so they tell us that the interventions are for freedom and national security and the protection of unspecified “U.S. interests.”

Whether policy makers believe their own arguments is not the key question. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton were doing their hypocritical best when their voices quavered with staged compassion for this or that oppressed people who had to be rescued from the communists or terrorists with U.S. missiles and troops, and sometimes they were sincere, as when they spoke of their fear and loathing of communism and revolution and their desire to protect U.S. investments abroad.

We need not ponder the question of whether our leaders are motivated by their class interests or by a commitment to anti-communist ideology, as if these two things were in competition with each other instead of mutually reinforcing. The arguments our leaders proffer may be self-serving and fabricated, yet also sincerely embraced. It is a creed’s congruity with one’s material self-interest that often makes it so compelling.

In any case, so much of politics is the rational use of irrational symbols. The arguments in support of interventionism may sound and may actually be irrational and nonsensical, but they serve a rational purpose.

Once we grasp the central consistency of U.S. foreign policy, we can move from a liberal complaint to a radical analysis, from criticizing the “foolishness” of our government’s behavior to understanding why the “foolishness” is not random but persists over time against all contrary arguments and evidence, always moving in the same elitist, repressive direction.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European communist governments, U.S. Ieaders now have a freer hand in their interventions. A number of left reformist governments that had relied on the Soviets for economic assistance and political protection against U.S. interference now have nowhere to turn. The willingness of U.S. Ieaders to tolerate economic deviations does not grow with their sense of their growing power.

Quite the contrary. Now even the palest economic nationalism, as displayed in Iraq by Saddam Hussein over oil prices, invites the destructive might of the U.S. military. The goal now, as always, is to obliterate every trace of an alternative system, to make it clear that there is no road to take except that of the free market, in a world in which the many at home and abroad will work still harder for less so that the favored few will accumulate more and more wealth.

That is the vision of the future to which most U.S. Ieaders are implicitly dedicated. It is a vision taken from the past and never forgotten by them, a matter of putting the masses of people at home and abroad back in their place, divested of any aspirations for a better world because they are struggling too hard to survive in this one.

From the book Dirty Truths

Afghanistan: Victory in Defeat

June 30th, 2011 by Eric Walberg

There are many parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan. The recent American mayors’ resolution to “bring our war $$ home” and Obama’s announcement that troops are now being withdrawn are fresh reminders, but the story they tell is grim.

In Baltimore, the nation’s mayors debated and passed a War Dollars Home Resolution at their annual meeting, the first time they have taken a stand on war since they passed a similar resolution in 1971, during the Vietnam war. The anti-war resolution even made the TV news, which has downplayed the fact that the majority of Americans have wanted an end to their illegal wars for years.

It is a moment flooded with nostalgia for those who cut their political teeth 40 years ago during the Vietnam war, though it is hard to even recognise the State of the Union 40 years on. The “War on Poverty” of LBJ has been replaced by a “war on terror”. Today’s America has a black president, yet is mired in recession, and promises only falling living standards, collapsing infrastructure, and more and more violations of civil rights.  

Though Jewish Americans are still an essential part of today’s much less flamboyant and less powerful anti-war movement, the pro-war movement is now loudly pro-Israel, unlike the earlier pro-warriors. This reflects the new times, where Israel is no longer just a naughty, temporary occupier of Palestinian land, but America’s most devoted ally, a respected (or rather feared) imperialist in its own right, and a key player in orchestrating the US wars in the Middle East.

At the same time as the mayors called for an end to the endless wars, Congress censured Obama over his new undeclared war against Libya, now in its third month, though stopping short of denying him funds. Neither the mayoral nor congressional resolutions have any teeth. But, with his generals breathing down his neck, the astute Obama was able to use these two protests to protect his rear as he announced his plans to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by September 2012, including 10,000 by the end of this year: “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

Obama’s announcement brings to mind another parallel with Vietnam — Nixon’s announcement in 1972 during his re-election campaign that “peace is at hand”, that he too would wind down the war after negotiations with the enemy, provided that the people gave him his second term. He went on to win one of the largest majorities of any US president in 1972. After winning the election, he was able to convince Karzai (excuse me, Thieu-Ky) to agree to a deal with the Taliban (excuse me, the Communists), which culminated in a memorable evacuation of the US embassy in Saigon by helicopter in 1975, finally freeing Vietnam of its American occupiers. It was not a pretty “plan”, but it worked.

Just as the majority of Americans by the late 1960s had turned against the war in southeast Asia even at the risk of “losing” Vietnam to the Communists, so 56 per cent of Americans today want an immediate pull-out from Afghanistan, though 56 per cent also predict there will be no stable government there and that the Taliban could well return to power. But, like 40 years ago, Americans have lost interest. 

The parallel is not exact. Obama would have pulled out of Afghanistan in 2009 if the generals had let him. “Obama had to do this 18-month surge just to demonstrate, in effect, that it couldn’t be done,” Bob Woodward quotes an aide in Obama’s Wars. As expected, the surge was a spectacular failure, more like a surge of sitting ducks. Chief warrior Stanley McChrystal was fired in disgrace last year and his equally gung-ho replacement David Petraeus has been shunted off to the CIA, where he has already been told to continue the war by covert means. The remaining generals are furious but are putting on a brave face, with Hillary taking about “reaching out” to the Taliban, no doubt counting on winning their “hearts and minds”. 

Obama, while disappointing those who expected him to slay the dragon, drive the moneychangers out of the temple, and bring peace on earth, is nonetheless a wily politician worthy of his predecessor Nixon. Like Nixon, he knows perfectly well that it’s time to move on and he’s playing to the crowd: “We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength,” he told Americans solemnly. This pretense and the assassination of Bin Laden will almost certainly give him a second term. 

The drawdown is none too soon, as defections from the ranks of the coalition started last year with the Netherlands and are continuing, with Canada, German and Italy having deadlines (which, it’s true, shift depending on electoral strategies and US arm-twisting). Britain is already reducing its contingent and a delighted French President Nicolas Sarkozy immediately declared French troops would be home by next summer. 

“The war is lost. Reaching out to the Taliban is in no way a demonstration of a ‘position of strength’, but a clear sign of America’s weakness,” writes commentator Boris Volkhonsky, though he admits Obama has handled a difficult problem well, calling his speech “an astute recognition of the fact”. Indeed, the only public criticism of Obama is coming from crackpots such as Senator John McCain who said that Obama is denying military commanders in Afghanistan the ability to finally defeat “a battered and broken enemy”. President Hamid Karzai described the announcement that American troops would depart as “a moment of happiness for Afghanistan”.

A major difference between Vietnam and Afghanistan is the plan to maintain bases in Afghanistan after pulling out. Afghanistan’s neighbours Russia (almost-neighbour), China, Iran, Pakistan — even the puppet government in Kabul — vow that this will not happen. As if on cue, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad invited Karzai and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran this week to a conference on terrorism and for one-on-one talks. Apart from US plans for Afghanistan, Zardari’s talks dealt with completing the Iran-Pakistan gas “Peace Pipeline” project, which is strongly opposed by the US. But the US should hardly be surprised at this budding friendship: the downside of the surge and assassination Bin Laden is that Pakistan can finally extricate itself from its deadly American embrace without any apologies. 

As for Karzai, he sees the writing on the wall, and is eager to survive a few more years, which means courting his neighbours to take the place of the hated Americans. All of them have indicated they will support him. His trip to Tehran should also come as no surprise. The US will almost certainly have to abandon its freshly paved military bases in the north of Afghanistan, prepared as part of the Bush-era “Blackwill plan” to split Afghanistan in two. This neocon fantasy would cede the south to the Taliban with the understanding that they can play at creating a “greater Pashtunistan” if they let the US keep the predominantly Tajik north. Neither Karzai nor Zardari will go along with this. Neither will China, Russia nor Iran. It is very unlikely the Taliban will either.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmed Vahidi visited Kabul just last week and told Afghanistan’s Vice President Mohammed Fahim, “The great and brave nation of Afghanistan is capable of establishing its security in the best possible form without the interference of the trans-regional forces.” Signing a bilateral security cooperation agreement with his Iranian counterpart, Afghanistan’s Defence Minister Abdulrahim Wardak gushed, “We believe that joint defence and security cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan is very important for establishing peace and security in the region.” 

The most important — and very disturbing — parallel between these American wars is in the perception and the reality of who “won”. The popular perception is that the US lost Vietnam and that it has lost in Afghanistan. But this is misleading, as the US achieved “victory in defeat” in both cases. 

In the case of Vietnam, it destroyed any possibility of successful developing a strong socialist country as a catalyst in the non-imperial transformation of southeast Asia. Like Cuba’s Fidel, Ho Chi Minh was well-educated and highly respected by his people and — just as important — by both the Soviet and Chinese leaders. Without the US invasion of Vietnam, all of southeast Asia would most likely today be communist (in more than just name). The world would look very, very different.

Similarly, in the Middle East, the US, following Britain’s imperial lead in the Middle East, cultivated the passive and inward-looking Wahhabis and the anti-communist Saudi monarchy, who let the imperialists run roughshod over the region for over a century, all the time providing the West with precious oil. Together with Saudi Arabia, the empire undermined its secular challengers in Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (still a work-in-progress), and the Islamist challengers in Algeria and post-revolutionary Iran, ensuring that they do not become models for the region — and threats to the empire.

Like Vietnam in 1975, Iraq and Afghanistan now lie in ruins. Egypt is fatally compromised after four decades of neoliberalism and rampant corruption under US tutelage. Iran’s Islamists have miraculously survived a decade of war with Iraq under US sponsorship, and two more decades of sanctions and subversion by the US, Israel and the gang, but the harsh, austere regime there is not much of a model for, say, Egypt with its Westernised elite and many intimate ties with the decadent West. Without the wars and subversion by the US (not to mention Israel), all of the Middle East would most likely today be united as a latter-day Islamic caliphate, sharing the oil wealth as Islam requires and telling the empire to go to hell.

So even if the helicopters have to evacuate Karzai and the last US diplomats from Kabul in the near future, the flag-wavers and their neocon henchmen can still celebrate “victory”; in a sense, they are right.

Eric Walberg
writes for Al-Ahram Weekly 
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him athttp://ericwalberg.com His Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games is available athttp://www.claritypress.com/Walberg.htm

US Must End Wars Fought to Hike Corporate Profits

June 30th, 2011 by Sherwood Ross

Humanism has little place in U.S. global affairs these days when government acts as the enforcement arm of capitalism-run-amok.

Especially since WWII, Washington has habitually aligned itself with the goals of U.S. corporations to dominate. In Latin America and elsewhere, it has funded armies of goons that harass, batter, jail, and murder labor leaders and their allies. In Colombia, labor organizers that call a strike put their lives at risk. It’s a veritable shooting gallery where trade unionists are targets.

In Iraq, writes Noam Chomsky in “Interventions”(City Lights Books), the occupying forces broke into union offices, arrested leaders, and enforced Saddam Hussein’s antilabor laws. Union leaders were killed under mysterious circumstances. Concessions went to bitterly anti-union U.S. firms. New oil contracts went to firms whose executives were personal friends of President George W. Bush.

At home, U.S. corporations—which exhibit zero loyalty to their employees and to the cities that gave them all those tax breaks to locate—put profits first even if it means stripping those cities of their plants; even if it means throwing thousands of loyal staffers out of work; even if it means cheating taxpayers by relocating their headquarters’ offshore; even if it means hiring cheap foreign labor.

“We are seeing the Financial Elite of America waging class warfare against the ordinary working men and women of this country who have made it what it is today,” says University of Illinois international legal authority Francis Boyle.

And Noam Chomsky points in Imperial Ambitions (Metropolitan Books): “Corporations barely pay taxes. The corporate tax rate is already very low, but corporations have worked out an array of complicated techniques so they often don’t have to pay taxes at all.”

At the same time, he adds, “the general population has gone through 30 years(1975-2005) of either stagnation or decline in real wages, with people working longer hours with fewer benefits. I don’t think there’s been a period like this in American history.” Meanwhile, corporations harvest record profits.

As sociologist James Petras of Binghamton University points out in his “Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire,”(Clarity): “Today, over 50 percent of the top 500 US (multinational corporations) MNCs earn over half their profits from overseas operations…This tendency will accentuate as US MNCs relocate almost all their operations, including manufacturing, design and execution. They will employ low tech and high tech employees in their pursuit for competitive advantages and high rates of profits.” (This is not to say that some MNCs aren’t building schools, housing, highways, and public facilities near their overseas plants.)

Petras noted that Mexican President Carlos Salinas(1988-94) “privatized over 110 public enterprises, opened the borders to subsidized US agricultural exports—ruining over 1.5-million…farmers and peasants—and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. His policies facilitated the US takeover of Mexico’s retail trade, real estate, agriculture, industry, banking and communications sectors. Similar patterns of foreign takeovers were evident throughout the region, especially in Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia where lucrative gas, oil and mining firms were privatized and sold to foreign investors.”

“Oil and energy companies secured exploration rights via corruption by buying out entire ministries in Russia, Nigeria, Angola, Bolivia and Venezuela in the 1990s,” Petras writes. “Securing a toehold in any economic sector of China to exploit cheap labor requires the MNC to pay off a small army of government officials. This is more than compensated by the regime’s enforcement of a cheap labor regime, repression of labor discontent and the imposition of state-controlled pro-business ‘labor unions.’”

Everywhere one looks, Imperial America is training police departments of friendly dictators in brutal suppression techniques if and when the peasantry demands a bigger share of the pie which they baked. Journalist William Blum in “Rogue State”(Common Courage Press), U.S. armed forces “are being deployed in well over 100 countries in every part of the world,” countries Washington supplies “with sizable amounts of highly lethal military equipment, and training their armed forces and police in the brutal arts…”

It’s no coincidence that as arms become America’s No. 1 export, civilian jobs are going down the tubes. Columbia University economist Seymour Melman, interviewed in the Feb., 1992, issue of The Progressive, argued because of its vast expenditures for war the U.S. was “losing millions of productive jobs” in the civilian sector to foreign firms.

“The U.S. economy is in dramatic disrepair compared to Germany and Japan. By concentrating capital on civilian purposes for 45 years they’ve emerged as the true victors of the Cold War,” Melman said.

More recently, Chomsky wrote: “U.S. military expenditures approximate those of the rest of the world combined, while arms sales by 38 North American companies (one in Canada) account for over 60 percent of the world total.”

The record of history shows the White House has used CIA and Pentagon muscle to attack nations whose officials wouldn’t play ball in the capitalist league. President Eisenhower gave the green light for the 1953 CIA overthrow of Iran. President Kennedy attempted to overthrow Cuba, but failed, in 1961; President Nixon succeeded in overthrowing the legally elected president of Chile in 1973; and President Reagan funded the Contras to wage war against the leftist Sandinistas of Nicaragua.

“Because of Red Scare anxieties,” wrote James Carroll in “House of War”(Houghton Mifflin), “Americans would uncritically accept the maturing of an economic system (capitalism) that, in its effect if not its structure, condemned most of the world to crushing impoverishment. The humane aspects of Marx’s critique of capitalism would not be reckoned with in the United States, with dangerous consequences that define the ever more polarized twenty-first century.”

When Cold War presidents gazed upon the world, all they saw was Red. War hero Jimmy Doolittle, who led the first U.S. air strike against Japan in 1942, later as chairman of a special task force reported to President Dwight Eisenhower that the U.S. “must learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and more effective methods than those used against us. It may be necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand, and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.” That, of course, is precisely what happened. The end began to justify any means. The Pentagon even uses its listening devices to steal business information to give U.S. firms an edge over foreign ones.

Fear-mongering American politicians claimed that if just one country went Communist, all its neighbors would topple like dominoes. For decades, the U.S. subsidized anti-Communist Japanese politicians; the CIA secretly lined the pockets of mullahs and ayatollahs in Iran; and the Pentagon plunged recklessly into civil wars such as in Viet Nam using overwhelming force and violence. Ironically, at home the Justice Department, responding to the “Red Scare,” persecuted, tried, and jailed leaders of the U.S. Communist Party, for allegedly advocating the same strategies the Pentagon was actually employing on a massive scale the world over.

Yet all the Pentagon’s costly armaments designed to topple Red regimes proved less effective than the protests of the non-violent disciples of Gandhi, such as Solidarity labor union’s Lech Walesa in Poland, who led the break out of the Soviet orbit. In Russia, President Mikhail Gorbachev, the advocate of Glasnost, or openness, could see that Soviet-brand Communism was failing his people and began to make changes that permitted private ownership of business.

Similarly, strong-arm capitalism American-style today needs to be transformed. Starting wars to force other nations to privatize natural resources they would prefer to keep under public control is both reprehensible and criminal.

In his treatise “On Human Work” in 1981, Pope John Paul II called for “the primacy of the person over things and of human labour over capital as a whole.” Workers must be paid fairly, allowed to form unions and strike for self-improvement and treated with dignity and respect. Let it be. #

Sherwood Ross is director of the Anti-War News Service from Coral Gables, Fla. He was active in the civil rights movement and later as a wire service columnist covering workplace issues. To contribute to his news service or comment, reach him at [email protected].

Resolution 185 calls on Palestinians to halt bid for unilateral recognition at UN, calls on Obama to veto the vote in September.

The United States Senate has passed a resolution threatening to suspend financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority if its leaders “persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies,” and called on U.S. President Barack Obama to veto a UN vote on unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

“Palestinian efforts to gain recognition of a state outside direct negotiations demonstrates absence of a good faith commitment to peace negotiations, and will have implications for continued United States aid,” the resolution declares.

Senator Ben Cardin, who initiated the resolution along with Senator Susan Collins, said after the vote late Tuesday that “The Senate has delivered a clear message to the international community that United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state at this time does not further the peace process.”

Resolution 185, co-sponsored by 87 Senator, states the two-state solution as the official U.S. policy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also calls for a review of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

It also calls for the Palestinian unity government to “publicly and formally forswear terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with the Government of Israel.”

The Senate also called on Obama to announce that the U.S. will veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes before the UN Security Council which is not a result of a peace agreement – and asked him to “lead a diplomatic effort to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and to oppose recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations”.

AIPAC, which lobbied for the passage of the resolution, welcomed the vote’s result.

Critics of the measure stressed that by cutting financial aid, the U.S. might lose leverage over the Palestinians and might invite other, less constructive players, into the game, as they have already lost faith in the U.S. as an impartial mediator. 

The latest Wikileaks releases include cables sent from the US Embassy in Caracas to the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Council, and other US entities, indicating requests for additional US government funding for opposition groups in Venezuela. The cables corroborate documents previously obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that evidence ongoing US funding to support anti-Chavez groups and political parties in Venezuela actively working to destabilize and overthrow the South American government.

One document dated March 2009, authored by Charge D’Affaires John Caulfield, reveals $10 million in funding via the US Embassy in Caracas to state and municipal opposition governments, as well as several NGOs, youth groups and political campaigns to counter the Chavez government. Curiously, in the confidential cable, Caulfield requests an additional $3 million (on top of an already-approved $7 million) due to a “change” in Venezuela’s “political map”.

“Given that the November 2008 elections and February 2009 referendum created a new political map for Venezuela, post requests an additional USD 3 million to increase outreach efforts to newly elected state and municipal governments, as well as to continue programs to strengthen civil society and prepare for the next round of elections in 2010”.

Caulfield adds, “…redoubling our effort is necessary to counter the increasing authoritarianism of the Chavez government”, indicating clear political intent to justify the funding.

The US diplomat was referring to regional elections in 2008 during which opposition parties won in 6 out of 23 states and dozens of municipalities. Apparently, the Embassy was keen on providing immediate aid to those regions to reinforce their efforts.

ILLEGAL INTERVENTION

Embassies, consulates and diplomats are prohibited under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Affairs from intervening in the politics and internal affairs of a host nation. Funding from foreign governments for political groups and campaigns is also prohibited and illegal in Venezuela, as it is in the United States. Nonetheless, Caulfield doesn’t hide his intentions when he writes, “…our effort is necessary to counter…the Chavez government”.

Caulfield also admits that US government funding helped create many of the organizations in Venezuela receiving the aid and that those same groups would most likely not exist or survive without US support. “Without our continued assistance, it is possible that the organizations we helped create…could be forced to close…Our funding will provide those organizations a much-needed lifeline”.

The majority of Venezuelan groups receiving US funding were created after 2002, when the State Department set up its unauthorized Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), a political branch of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Caracas. That same year, a coup d’etat was executed against the Chavez government, briefly ousting the Venezuelan President. He was later rescued within 48 hours by loyal armed forces and millions of Venezuelans. Those involved in the coup were all receiving US government funding and support through both the Embassy and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an agency funded by the US Congress. The OTI, which has consistently funded and strategically supported dozens of Venezuelan political parties and NGOs with millions of US taxpayer dollars annually, abruptly closed at the beginning of 2011 after being exposed and denounced for its illegal meddling activities in Venezuela. 

Nonetheless, President Obama has already requested an additional $5 million to fund opposition groups in Venezuela in his 2012 budget. This amount is expected to increase with funds from other US agencies in preparation for Venezuela’s presidential and regional elections next year.

The $10 million dished out by the US Embassy to local opposition governments and “civil society” groups was slated to “support local NGOs in order to work as watchdogs on issues key for democratic development”, i.e. against the democratically-elected government. Five million dollars were directed towards supporting political parties and local governance to help newly elected opposition governments “show delivery on promises made to the people during the November 2008 political campaigns”. Is this really where US taxpayer dollars should be going?

Another $4 million went to “interested political parties, to develop young leaders and increase outreach to…the Venezuelan youth movement”. A particular target of US funding, anti-Chavez student and youth movements have popped up during the past 3 years receiving overrated media coverage and foreign attention.

Another one million of this funding went towards preparing the grounds for the 2010 legislative campaigns. During 2010, however, an additional $57 million was provided to the Venezuelan opposition from both US and European agencies.

MONEY AND INTERVENTION

Another US Embassy cable from September 2009, sent by then US Ambassador to Venezuela Patrick Duddy, recounted a meeting held between the US diplomat and three representatives from the small opposition party, Podemos. During the meeting, Ismael Garcia, legislator and leader of Podemos, specifically requested more US government funding and intervention to counteract President Chavez.

 “As he has repeatedly done in the past, Garcia pointedly asked what the United States, through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or other USG (US Government) channels, could do to help Podemos. Molina and Garcia suggested that US support could be used for Podemos to build an internet – or cable TV-based communications network…The Ambassador emphasized that the United States is not intervening (sic) in Venezuela, to which Garcia responded, “Yes, but now is the time to begin”.

What these documents evidence, besides illegal US government meddling and hypocrisy, is the ongoing relationship of dependence between the Venezuelan opposition and Washington. US efforts to undermine the Chavez administration have largely depended on the capacity of the opposition to destabilize the country and counter Chavez. After years of multimillion-dollar investments in these groups, which now depend on US government funding, few advances have been made. This scenario could explain the recent aggressive actions the Obama administration is taking against Venezuela, imposing sanctions and attempting to falsely and maliciously link the Chavez government to terrorism and portray it as a “failed state”.

Vietnam versus Afghanistan: Victory in Defeat

June 30th, 2011 by Eric Walberg

There are many parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan. The recent American mayors’ resolution to “bring our war $$ home” and Obama’s announcement that troops are now being withdrawn are fresh reminders, but the story they tell is grim,

In Baltimore, the nation’s mayors debated and passed a War Dollars Home Resolution at their annual meeting, the first time they have taken a stand on war since they passed a similar resolution in 1971, during the Vietnam war. The anti-war resolution even made the TV news, which has downplayed the fact that the majority of Americans have wanted an end to their illegal wars for years.

It is a moment flooded with nostalgia for those who cut their political teeth 40 years ago during the Vietnam war, though it is hard to even recognise the State of the Union 40 years on. The “War on Poverty” of LBJ has been replaced by a “war on terror”. Today’s America has a black president, yet is mired in recession, and promises only falling living standards, collapsing infrastructure, and more and more violations of civil rights.  

Though Jewish Americans are still an essential part of today’s much less flamboyant and less powerful anti-war movement, the pro-war movement is now loudly pro-Israel, unlike the earlier pro-warriors. This reflects the new times, where Israel is no longer just a naughty, temporary occupier of Palestinian land, but America’s most devoted ally, a respected (or rather feared) imperialist in its own right, and a key player in orchestrating the US wars in the Middle East.

At the same time as the mayors called for an end to the endless wars, Congress censured Obama over his new undeclared war against Libya, now in its third month, though stopping short of denying him funds. Neither the mayoral nor congressional resolutions have any teeth. But, with his generals breathing down his neck, the astute Obama was able to use these two protests to protect his rear as he announced his plans to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by September 2012, including 10,000 by the end of this year: “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

Obama’s announcement brings to mind another parallel with Vietnam — Nixon’s announcement in 1972 during his re-election campaign that “peace is at hand”, that he too would wind down the war after negotiations with the enemy, provided that the people gave him his second term. He went on to win one of the largest majorities of any US president in 1972. After winning the election, he was able to convince Karzai (excuse me, Thieu-Ky) to agree to a deal with the Taliban (excuse me, the Communists), which culminated in a memorable evacuation of the US embassy in Saigon by helicopter in 1975, finally freeing Vietnam of its American occupiers. It was not a pretty “plan”, but it worked.

Just as the majority of Americans by the late 1960s had turned against the war in southeast Asia even at the risk of “losing” Vietnam to the Communists, so 56 per cent of Americans today want an immediate pull-out from Afghanistan, though 56 per cent also predict there will be no stable government there and that the Taliban could well return to power. But, like 40 years ago, Americans have lost interest.

The parallel is not exact. Obama would have pulled out of Afghanistan in 2009 if the generals had let him. “Obama had to do this 18-month surge just to demonstrate, in effect, that it couldn’t be done,” Bob Woodward quotes an aide in Obama’s Wars. As expected, the surge was a spectacular failure, more like a surge of sitting ducks. Chief warrior Stanley McChrystal was fired in disgrace last year and his equally gung-ho replacement David Petraeus has been shunted off to the CIA, where he has already been told to continue the war by covert means. The remaining generals are furious but are putting on a brave face, with Hillary taking about “reaching out” to the Taliban, no doubt counting on winning their “hearts and minds”.

Obama, while disappointing those who expected him to slay the dragon, drive the moneychangers out of the temple, and bring peace on earth, is nonetheless a wily politician worthy of his predecessor Nixon. Like Nixon, he knows perfectly well that it’s time to move on and he’s playing to the crowd: “We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength,” he told Americans solemnly. This pretense and the assassination of Bin Laden will almost certainly give him a second term.

The drawdown is none too soon, as defections from the ranks of the coalition started last year with the Netherlands and are continuing, with Canada, German and Italy having deadlines (which, it’s true, shift depending on electoral strategies and US arm-twisting). Britain is already reducing its contingent and a delighted French President Nicolas Sarkozy immediately declared French troops would be home by next summer.

“The war is lost. Reaching out to the Taliban is in no way a demonstration of a ‘position of strength’, but a clear sign of America’s weakness,” writes commentator Boris Volkhonsky, though he admits Obama has handled a difficult problem well, calling his speech “an astute recognition of the fact”. Indeed, the only public criticism of Obama is coming from crackpots such as Senator John McCain who said that Obama is denying military commanders in Afghanistan the ability to finally defeat “a battered and broken enemy”. President Hamid Karzai described the announcement that American troops would depart as “a moment of happiness for Afghanistan”.

A major difference between Vietnam and Afghanistan is the plan to maintain bases in Afghanistan after pulling out. Afghanistan’s neighbours Russia (almost-neighbour), China, Iran, Pakistan — even the puppet government in Kabul — vow that this will not happen. As if on cue, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad invited Karzai and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran this week to a conference on terrorism and for one-on-one talks. Apart from US plans for Afghanistan, Zardari’s talks dealt with completing the Iran-Pakistan gas “Peace Pipeline” project, which is strongly opposed by the US. But the US should hardly be surprised at this budding friendship: the downside of the surge and assassination Bin Laden is that Pakistan can finally extricate itself from its deadly American embrace without any apologies.

As for Karzai, he sees the writing on the wall, and is eager to survive a few more years, which means courting his neighbours to take the place of the hated Americans. All of them have indicated they will support him. His trip to Tehran should also come as no surprise. The US will almost certainly have to abandon its freshly paved military bases in the north of Afghanistan, prepared as part of the Bush-era “Blackwill plan” to split Afghanistan in two. This neocon fantasy would cede the south to the Taliban with the understanding that they can play at creating a “greater Pashtunistan” if they let the US keep the predominantly Tajik north. Neither Karzai nor Zardari will go along with this. Neither will China, Russia nor Iran. It is very unlikely the Taliban will either.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmed Vahidi visited Kabul just last week and told Afghanistan’s Vice President Mohammed Fahim, “The great and brave nation of Afghanistan is capable of establishing its security in the best possible form without the interference of the trans-regional forces.” Signing a bilateral security cooperation agreement with his Iranian counterpart, Afghanistan’s Defence Minister Abdulrahim Wardak gushed, “We believe that joint defence and security cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan is very important for establishing peace and security in the region.”

The most important — and very disturbing — parallel between these American wars is in the perception and the reality of who “won”. The popular perception is that the US lost Vietnam and that it has lost in Afghanistan. But this is misleading, as the US achieved “victory in defeat” in both cases.

In the case of Vietnam, it destroyed any possibility of successful developing a strong socialist country as a catalyst in the non-imperial transformation of southeast Asia. Like Cuba’s Fidel, Ho Chi Minh was well-educated and highly respected by his people and — just as important — by both the Soviet and Chinese leaders. Without the US invasion of Vietnam, all of southeast Asia would most likely today be communist (in more than just name). The world would look very, very different.

Similarly, in the Middle East, the US, following Britain’s imperial lead in the Middle East, cultivated the passive and inward-looking Wahhabis and the anti-communist Saudi monarchy, who let the imperialists run roughshod over the region for over a century, all the time providing the West with precious oil. Together with Saudi Arabia, the empire undermined its secular challengers in Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (still a work-in-progress), and the Islamist challengers in Algeria and post-revolutionary Iran, ensuring that they do not become models for the region — and threats to the empire.

 

Like Vietnam in 1975, Iraq and Afghanistan now lie in ruins. Egypt is fatally compromised after four decades of neoliberalism and rampant corruption under US tutelage. Iran’s Islamists have miraculously survived a decade of war with Iraq under US sponsorship, and two more decades of sanctions and subversion by the US, Israel and the gang, but the harsh, austere regime there is not much of a model for, say, Egypt with its Westernised elite and many intimate ties with the decadent West. Without the wars and subversion by the US (not to mention Israel), all of the Middle East would most likely today be united as a latter-day Islamic caliphate, sharing the oil wealth as Islam requires and telling the empire to go to hell.

So even if the helicopters have to evacuate Karzai and the last US diplomats from Kabul in the near future, the flag-wavers and their neocon henchmen can still celebrate “victory”; in a sense, they are right.
***
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com His Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games is available at http://www.claritypress.com/Walberg.htm

Idiocy Reigns Supreme

June 30th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Americans are a doomed people for many reasons.  One reason is that they are disunited and at one another’s throats and, thus, cannot stand up the tyranny issuing from Washington.  

For example, the governments of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, states that share borders, have been fighting for more than two decades over the water in Georgia’s Lake Lanier, located a few miles northeast of Atlanta. In 2009 a federal district judge ruled that it is illegal for water to be drawn from the lake to meet the needs of Atlanta’s three million residents. The judge stipulated that the three states had until July 2011 to reach an agreement, failing which Atlanta would be restricted to the amount of water it received in the mid-1970s, when its population was less than one-third of its present size.

Obviously, the ruling was a major incentive to Alabama and Florida not to compromise. 

Either the judge gave no thought to this fact or he was unconcerned that three million Atlantans would find themselves in drought circumstances. 

At the last moment on June 28, with two days to go before Atlanta was cut off from its water supply,  a federal appeals court ruled that the district court judge’s decision was incorrect and gave the US Corps of Engineers one year to make a final decision concerning the allocation of Lake Lanier’s water to the three states. 

The state of Alabama, displaying total callousness to its 3 million fellow American citizens in Atlanta, has announced that it is appealing the ruling, and Florida is “studying the ruling,” no doubt looking for a way to get Atlanta’s share of the water. 

Quite clearly, this is not a United States.  Even the old Confederacy cannot stand together. For more than two decades the three states have not sat down to make a fair deal.  Instead, they have been suing in federal courts, each seeking advantage. 

In California, water is being attacked from a different direction. Rich corporate and financial interests realized that control over water was control over life–the ultimate power. These powerful few are moving to deregulate and privatize California’s water supply in order to exploit their control over the life-sustaining substance. California’s dry spell has been hyped into a cataclysmic crisis that pits small farmers against urban environmentalists. This is theater to distract a gullible public and media from the fact that privatized water can be turned into paper water, for which derivatives can be created and speculation can ensue.  “Privatized water” has nothing whatsoever to do with providing water to mere people. Its purpose is to provide billions of dollars to financial interests.

Speaking of paper profits, today the stock market was up on the news that the “democratic” Greek government, despite the overwhelming opposition of the Greek people, agreed to the imposed austerity measures in order to borrow from the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, both being illegal loans under the two organizations’ charters, the money to pay private foreign banks that bought Greek government  bonds. The private banks are being fully compensated for not doing due

diligence. 

The financial markets, in their utter stupidity, think, if that is an appropriate word, that it is good news that the Greek government has agreed to drive the Greek economy deeper into recession in order to acquire more loans with which to pay off loans that it cannot pay off.  

The financial press thinks that the austerity measures that the Greek government has to accept and the sell-off of the public domain–water companies, ports, a string of Greek Islands, the state telephone monopoly, the state lottery and the reduction in pay, employment, and social services–somehow makes the Greek economy more capable of producing the income needed to service the new IMF and ECB loans that pay off the private German, French and Dutch bankers.

If Wall Street and the financial sector had an IQ as high as 100, they would know, everyone of them, that the “bailout” is pushing Greece deeper into a hole, and that Greek’s ability to pay will decline.  

Why doesn’t the Greek government know what is completely obvious when the people in the streets protesting are fully aware of the fact? The only answer to this question is that the Greek politicians have been bought by the debtor banks. Greek “democracy” serves the debtor private banks, not the Greek people.

The vaunted financial markets are not rational. Indeed, they are the opposite. Financial markets turn obvious bad news into good news in order to drive up prices of financial assets.  Truth and facts mean nothing whatsoever to financial markets.  The financial markets are based on lies, illusions, and delusions that drive up asset prices. That is what you are investing in when you invest in Wall Street.

In the US today we have president obama challenging congress on the “default crisis.”

The american president (lower case is used to indicate the insubstantiality of american political institutions, including that of the country itself). The president, who refuses to obey the War Powers Act which requires that he communicate with congress before he takes america to war, told congress that the entire cost of deficit reduction cannot be put on the backs of america’s poor unless he has the cover of taking away a few special interest tax breaks.  obama is telling the nitwits, who, like himself, are bought-and-paid-for by the interests, that to continue the game the rich corporations have to give up something, like a few insignificant tax breaks. If the congressional idiots catch on, then obama can emphasize how he is making the rich pay, while he covertly shifts the burden to the poor and to the remnants of the american middle class, a destroyed entity.

The entire default “confrontation” between “america’s first black president” and congress is fraudulent. If attacking Libya is so much in the national interest that obama doesn’t need to inform congress, it is completely obvious that it is too much in the national interest that the US government not default.  

US default on its bonds would not only wreck the international financial system, it would destroy american power.  Nothing is more in “the national interest” than Washington not defaulting.  Therefore, it is completely obvious that if congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the Federal Reserve will continue to purchase the Treasury’s debt issues so that the government can pay its bills. The Bush regime, with its Federalist Society brownshirts, established for once and all that the american president becomes Caesar during war and that it is the president’s prerogative alone to declare what is in the national interest. Congress has become unnecessary, like the Roman senate under the Caesars.

There is no chance whatsoever of the US government defaulting.  Yet, the “default crisis” is the main story purveyed by the US Ministry of Propaganda.

On the environmental front, more devastation awaits america. This is not about the nuclear radiation dangers from the floods, no matter how real.  It is more simple. The US Bureau of Land Management has also been “privatized” and has become a government servant of private interests. 

The BLM has been “privatized” in the sense that those who actually cared about the purpose of the law and the preservation of public lands have been displaced by new appointees put in power by  the Clinton and the Bush regimes. Yes, you guessed correctly, the BLM’s management consists of corporate appointees, who are doing what they were put there to do, which is to steal the public domain for private profit. 

For equines or horse lovers, this is turning out to be a hard blow. According to Marilyn Wargo, who is knowledgeable on this issue, the BLM is about to exterminate two-thirds of the remaining wild horse herds that exist on the pubic’s lands in Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Colorado. 

Like everything else in our “freedom and democracy” country, this extermination is being done despite powerful public protests by citizens, citizens most likely characterized by Homeland Security as “animal rights terrorists.” 

Who stands to gain?  Obviously, cattle and sheep corporations that take over the grazing rights from wildlife. Americans have still not understood that one accomplishment of the Bush Regime was to put government agencies that were created to protect the public domain into the hands of corporate interests. The fusion of corporate and government interests in the US today is more complete than in Fascist Italy.

There is no freedom, no democracy, and no government accountability in Amerika, a fascist state.

Journalism as a Weapon of War in Libya

June 29th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

The truth has been turned on its head in Libya. NATO and the Libyan government are saying contradictory things. NATO says that the Libyan regime will fall in a matter of days, while the Libyan government says that the fighting in Misrata will end in about two weeks.

During the night the sound of NATO jets flying over Tripoli can be heard in the Mediterranean coastal city. Tripoli has not been bombed for a few days, but the sound of the flyovers have been numerous. The Atlantic Alliance deliberately picks the night as a means to disturb the sleep of residence in an attempt to spread fear. Small children in Libya have lost a lot of sleep during this war. This is part of the psychological war being waged. It is meant to break the spirit of Libya. This is all additional to the severing wound imposed on Libya through trickery and sedition.

In the same context, the media war against Libya has continued too. The Rixos Hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, where the majority of the international press is located, is a nest of lies and warped narratives where foreign reporters are twisting realities, spinning events, and misreporting to justify the NATO war against Libya. Every report and news wire being sent out of Libya by international reporters has to carefully be cross-checked and analyzed. Foreign journalists have put words in the mouth of Libyans and are willfully blind. They have ignored the civilian deaths in Libya, the clear war crimes being perpetrated against the Libyan people, and the damage to civilian infrastructure, from hotels to docks and hospitals.

One group of Libyan youth explained in a private conversation that when speaking to reporters they would interview by them in twos. One reporter would ask a question followed immediately by another one from the other journalist. In the process the answer to the first question would be used as the answer for the second question. In the Libyan hospitals the foreign reporters try not to take pictures of the wounded and dying. They just go into the hospitals to paint the image of impartiality, but virtually report about nothing and ignore almost everything newsworthy. They refuse to tell the other side of the story. Shamelessly in front of seriously injured civilians, the type of questions many foreign reporters ask doctors, nurses, and hospital staff is if they have been treating military and security personnel in the hospitals.

CNN has even released a report from Misrata by Sara Sidner showing the sodomization of a woman with a broomstick which it claims was conducted by Libyan soldiers. It refers to Libyan soldiers as Qaddafi troops, which is really a means of demonization. In reality the video was a domestic affair and created prior to the conflict in Libya. It originally took place in Tripoli and the man even has an accent from Tripoli. This is the type of fabrications that the mainstream media is pushing forward to push for war and military intervention.

There are now investigations underway to show that depleted uranium has been used against Libyans. The use of depleted uranium is an absolute war crime. It is not only an attack on the present, but it also leaves a radioactive trace that attacks the unborn children of tomorrow. Future generations will be hurt by these weapons too. These generations of the future are innocent. The use of depleted uranium is the equivalent of the U.S. planting nuclear weapons in Germany or Japan during the Second World War and leaving timers for them to detonate in 2011. This is an important and newsworthy issue in Libya and all the foreign journalists have heard about it, but how many have actually covered it?

Nothing is being said about the refugees coming to Tripoli from Benghazi either. The Ionis, a ship from Benghazi that docked in Tripoli on June 26, 2011, was carrying over 100 people who wanted to leave Benghazi to be unified with their families in Tripoli. Foreign reports were there en masse from all over the world. CNN, RT, and Reuters were amongst them. Amongst the foreign reports there were many who had no clue about the situation in Libya and were working on the basis of misinformation carried forward from their respective stations and countries. In informal discussion when these reporters were challenged about the basis of their assessments they failed to answer and sounded ridiculous. One reporter from Western Europe said that the defections at the governmental level in Tripoli where snowballing, but when challenged by a colleague she could only cite the so-called defection of a Libyan athlete.

The arrival of the passenger ship was significant, because it is a symptom that the political partition of Libya is underway.  When families and individuals are being shuttled to different sides of Libya, it is an indicator that some sort of dividing line will be drawn either temporarily or permanently.

The Roman Catholic Church in Libya has also been disrupted and hurt. The position of Father Giovanni Martinelli, the Bishop of Tripoli, is in contradiction to that of the U.S. and NATO. Contact has been lost with the Roman Catholic churches and communities in Benghazi and its environs. Bishop Martinelli has also lost dear friends in the war who have nothing to do whatsoever with any combat or hostility. What have foreign journalists and news agencies said about this?

Journalists have a responsibility to tell the truth and report all newsworthy issues. Some do, but their stories either get edited or never get published or aired. Others say nothing and instead concoct stories. It is now the responsibility of the public to look at the reports coming out of Libya from all sides with a grain of salt. Diversity of news is just one starter.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Research Associate for the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is currently in Libya as an international observer and member of an international group of journalists and writers from Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Canada Presses Smaller Countries to Oppose Palestinian Statehood

June 29th, 2011 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Montreal, June 29, 2011 – According to a June 24 New York Times article, Canada has been lobbying smaller countries to oppose a Palestinian bid for UN members’ support for Palestinian statehood. The US, Canada, Italy, Germany and several central European countries are poised to oppose the bid, while Spain, France and most Latin American countries intend to support it; the UK is wavering. Although the Security Council’s recommendation on membership carries considerable weight, the UN General Assembly is the ultimate arbiter of requests for UN membership.

As a member of the G8 and OECD, Canada may have considerable influence with smaller countries. Many of the latter, reeling from the international recession, are seeking debt relief and easier access to overseas markets, including Canada’s. The Harper government has not formally renounced long-standing Canadian policy supporting the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Nonetheless, at the recent G8 meeting, Prime Minister Harper opposed the inclusion of any reference to the importance of the 1967 borders in the G8′s statement on the Middle East. Since the G8, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister John Baird and other high ranking officials have been visiting Greece, Brazil, Paraguay and Guatemala, among other countries.

“Rather than urging other countries to deny Palestinians a state, Canada should be pressing Israel to stop violating international law,” says Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East President Thomas Woodley. CJPME notes that the Palestinians are resorting to a UN bid for support for a state because Israel’s multiple violations of international law have derailed direct peace talks. Israel has intensified the construction of illegal colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories and continued a sweeping blockade of Gaza, both of which violate international law.

International support for the Palestinian bid at the UN has grown steadily. In early 2011, the support of the majority of UN General Assembly members seemed likely. However, support is still far from certain. Palestinian officials will soon visit Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries that have yet to endorse the Palestinian bid. Palestinian ambassadors will be meeting in Madrid in July to strategize on their approach to the crucial European Union member states.
 
#####

For more information, please contact:
Patricia Jean

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: 438-380-5410

CJPME Email  - CJPME Website

It seems as if the world is in the process of a rapid global transition, with the continued descent into the global economic crisis, the rapid acceleration of foreign wars, the erosion of liberties and standards of living at home, the usurpation of governance by bankers, the absolute subservience to corporate interests by our supposed democratic nations, the Arab uprisings, and potentially going down the road to World War III.

As Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

While it certainly appears to be among the “worst of times,” there are many facets to our global human story that indicate it is also among “the best of times.” We are, after all, in the midst of a ‘Global Political Awakening,’ which is activating and educating the masses of the world to the oppressed conditions they and others live in. They are becoming radicalized and energized for change – not Obama Brand Change, Inc., but true – systemic change.

Both the good and the bad – the best and the worst – have been largely driven by a process that has taken place most rapidly in the past century and with exponential growth: the Technological Revolution. Surpassing the Industrial Revolution in its historical importance and transformative potential, the ‘Technological Revolution’ has made war more destructive with the advanced weaponry and bombs being constructed; more dehumanizing with the detachment of people to targets, such as with the flying robot ‘Predator’ drones bombing civilians in Pakistan and Yemen, remote controlled from a base in Florida; made the systems and structures of control more effective, with surveillance equipment George Orwell could not even imagine, and the applications of science to social control in ways Aldous Huxley feared inevitable; and the great kings of finance were able to more quickly accumulate and exploit vast amounts of wealth, moving money in and out of nations so quickly and at such quantities that they have the ability to bring entire nations to their knees.

On the other hand, the ‘Technological Revolution’ has also facilitated the greatest information and communication revolutions ever known, making more information more accessible than ever before, and allowing communication between people around the world to be far easier and more effective. This transformative force has largely been driven by the Internet as a democratic forum for discussion and dissemination.

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Five Lessons of the Balkan Conflict

June 29th, 2011 by Alexei Fenenko

On June 25, twenty years ago, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. This was followed by the Serbo-Croatian (1991 – 1995), Bosnian (1992 – 1995), Kosovo (1998 – 1999) and Macedonian (2001) wars, which became the official facts in textbooks on the history of international relations. Thus, the question arises: Do the Balkan wars of the 1990s offer something more than academic interest?

I think they do. The conflicts in the former Yugoslavia took on global significance almost immediately. They became the platform for the formation of the contemporary world order, while at the same time revealing its new contradictions. In this sense, the Balkan wars of the 1990s taught us five lessons that are still relevant today.

Lesson One: The “Atlantic Community” (the EU and NATO) can exist as a united actor only if it has an external enemy. Otherwise, it is prone to break into groups of interest, like any system. The internationalization of the Balkan conflict began in December 1991, when Germany, despite the protests of Britain and France, unilaterally recognized the sovereignty of Slovenia and Croatia and threatened to withdraw from the European Community over it. This move alarmed Britain and France, so they began to view NATO as a mechanism to keep Germany’s growing independence in check. Moreover, this situation posed a threat to European integration. Thus, it was not Warsaw and Vilnius but London and Paris that were primarily responsible for strengthening the alliance in the early 1990s. The Americans took advantage of these sentiments and again joined NATO in its operations in Bosnia (1995) and Kosovo (1999).

This conclusion gives rise to some ideas about the prospects of the alliance’s military policy. Since 2001, NATO’s main opponent has been international terrorism, so the main mission was the operation in Afghanistan. But at the Lisbon Summit on November 20, 2010, NATO leaders pledged to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 2014. On June 23, U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed that Americans are ready to implement the “Lisbon strategy.” Who will be the alliance’s new enemy after the Afghan war?

Lesson two: NATO remains the priority for the United States. It is how America makes its presence felt in Europe. The wars in Croatia and Bosnia frightened Americans, too. But the reason was not a serious human rights violation (if necessary, Washington can tolerate such things.) The key worry for the White House was the possibility of disagreement among the NATO allies. The growing rift between Britain and France, on the one hand, and Germany, on the other hand, threatened to undermine transatlantic unity. Thus, the alliance needed some joint military operation that could unite the allies in shared sacrifice.

Alongside this, the Clinton Administration managed to solve another problem. In 1992, in the early days of the European Union, the Petersburg Declaration was adopted, which announced the new challenges of the Western European Union: humanitarian missions and crisis management. Washington considered this as an attempt to create duplicate NATO defense structures. Thus, the Balkan wars allowed them to assign both of these missions to the alliance. In 1996 (just after the Bosnian conflict) the “Berlin formula” was applied: the EU created its own armed forces based on NATO infrastructure. So far, Brussels has not been able to go beyond its scope.

Lesson three: The military operations in Yugoslavia clearly demonstrated that the U.S. would not allow the resurgence of communist regimes in the former Soviet bloc (except Russia). The Croats, Albanians, and Bosnian Muslims were no less cruel than the Serbs. However, NATO carried out a peace keeping operation only against the latter. Why? A possible explanation may be that the leader of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, emphasized his continuity with Tito’s communist regime. Yugoslavia was used as an example to show the socialists of Eastern Europe that they could gain power only if they accepted the conditions of the “Washington Consensus” (1989).

Lesson four: During the Balkan wars there appeared a new type of “war punishment.” Until the late 20th century, war had been traditionally aimed at forcing the enemy to compromise or to bend to the winner’s will. The latter required ground operations: the arrival of the victorious army to establish the desired order. Along with nuclear weapons, the technical impossibility of such a war largely guaranteed the peaceful nature of the Soviet-American relations.

Now the situation has changed. Air operations against the Bosnian Serbs and Yugoslavia, by contrast, were staged only to create conditions for regime change and the subsequent dismemberment of the country. From an ideological perspective, war is not waged on a state but on its “pernicious regime.” The regime is depicted as a pariah well in advance, thus threatening international stability. Similarly, an opposition must be created in advance to carry out the necessary changes.

Lesson five: The Balkan wars of the 1990s developed and consolidated a system of separated legitimacy. Adopted by the Clinton Administration in 1993, the concept of “expansion of democracy” included: (1) strengthening transatlantic unity, (2) the inclusion of the former socialist countries (except Russia) in the common institutions and (3) carrying out “humanitarian actions”. The wars in Bosnia and Kosovo consolidated this.  A system was created within which certain regimes now can be given limited rights to conduct domestic policies on their own. Moreover, their leaders cannot be guaranteed personal safety under any circumstance (the “Arab Spring” of 2011 proved that such security is not guaranteed for the allies either, if the U.S. and the EU do not consider them fully legitimate).

These lessons show why the Balkan events caused such a nervous reaction in Russia. It was not because of the “Slavic unity” of 1914. Regarding the fate of Bosnia and Kosovo, Russian elite felt that both the U.S. and the EU countries considered Russia to be alien to them. Thus, it causes fears that under certain conditions the “Balkan scenario” may well be applied to Russia, too. Hence, the discussions over disarmament issues, human rights, criticism of domestic policy, etc. After the events in Yugoslavia, these issues have become not only a matter of morality (as it was during the Gorbachev period), but also an instrument for protecting or, conversely, weakening national security.

In the 1960s, the establishment of nuclear parity with the United States gave the Brezhnev elite a sense of external security that was unprecedented in Russian history. Without it, it would have been hardly possible to demolish or restructure the old system. However, in the 1990s, under the influence of the Balkan developments, this confidence began to recede. Another more vital, question arose: How would the world change if Russia’s military potential was diminished? This issue is still quite relevant today in the context of the Libyan war and the heated debate over missile defense.

Alexei Fenenko is Leading Research Fellow, Institute of International Security Studies of RAS, Russian Academy of Sciences.

‘NATO Drops Uranium Bombs on Libya’

June 29th, 2011 by Global Research

The Center for Research on Globalization says the bombs and missiles that the US-led military alliance has dropped on several Libyan cities contain depleted uranium (DU).

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, a research associate at the CRG center, told Press TV that there are several international missions in Libya to gather evidence on NATO war crimes, including the use of DU. 

His remarks come weeks after the Stop the War Coalition said in its late March report that dozens of bombs and cruise missiles were launched by the US, British, and French forces — all with DU warheads — in the first 24 hours of the war on Libya. 

DU munitions are controversial as their use is associated with long-term health concerns such as kidney damage, cancer, skin disorders and genetic defects. 

Nazemroaya, who is currently in Tripoli, said that NATO was also violating international laws by “bombing civilian structures, hospitals, civilian homes and hotels” in various parts of Libya. 

The developments come as the Western forces claim the operation in Libya is aimed at protecting civilians. 

NATO has deployed its full range of aircraft in the war on Libya. 

Scores of civilians have been killed in Libya since US-led forces launched aerial and sea attacks on the North African country. 

Libyan troops have also killed thousands of civilians since a revolution started against Gaddafi in mid-February. 

Experts say the main motive behind the Western attack on Libya is the vast oil reserves of the country. 

JR/PKH/AKM

A World Overwhelmed By Western Hypocrisy

June 29th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Western institutions have become caricatures of hypocrisy.  

The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are violating their charters in order to bail out French, German, and Dutch private banks. The IMF is only empowered to make balance of payments loans, but is lending to the Greek government for prohibited budgetary reasons in order that the Greek government can pay the banks. The ECB is prohibited from bailing out member country governments, but is doing so anyway in order that the banks can be paid.  The German parliament approved the bailout, which violates provisions of the European Treaty and Germany’s own Basic Law. The case is in the German Constitutional Court, a fact unreported in the US media.

US president George W. Bush appointed an immigrant, who is not impressed with the US Constitution and the separation of powers, to the Justice (sic) Department in order to get a ruling that the president has “unitary powers” that elevate him above statutory US law, treaties, and international law.  According to this immigrant’s legal decisions, the “unitary executive” can violate with impunity the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prevents spying on Americans without warrants obtained from the FISA Court. The immigrant also ruled that Bush could violate with impunity the statutory US laws against torture as well as the Geneva Conventions. In other words, the fictional “unitary powers” make the president into a Caesar.

Constitutional protections, such as habeas corpus, which prohibit government from holding people indefinitely without presenting charges and evidence to a court, and which prohibit government from denying detained people due process of law and access to an attorney, were thrown out the window by the US Department of Justice (sic), and the federal courts went along with most of it.

As did Congress, “the people’s representatives”.  Congress even enacted the Military Tribunals Commissions Act of 2006, signed by the White House Brownshirt on October 17.

This act allows anyone alleged to be an “unlawful enemy combatant” to be sentenced to death on the basis of secret and hearsay evidence not presented in the kangaroo military court placed out of reach of US federal courts.  The crazed nazis in Congress who supported this total destruction of Anglo-American law masqueraded as “patriots in the war against terrorism.”

The act designates anyone accused by the US, without evidence being presented,  as being part of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or “associated forces” to be an “unlawful enemy combatant,” which strips the person of the protection of law. Not even George Orwell could have conceived of such a formulation. 

The Taliban consists of indigenous Afghan peoples, who, prior to the US military  intervention, were fighting to unify the country.  The Taliban are Islamist, and the US government fears another Islamist government, like the one in Iran that was blowback from US intervention in Iran’s internal affairs. The “freedom and democracy” Americans overthrew an elected Iranian leader and imposed a tyrant. American-Iranian relations have never recovered from the tyranny that Washington imposed on Iranians. 

Washington is opposed to any government whose leaders cannot be purchased to perform as Washington’s puppets. This is why George W. Bush’s regime invaded Afghanistan, why Washington overthrew Saddam Hussein, and why Washington wants to overthrow Libya, Syria, and Iran.

America’s First Black (or half white) President inherited the Afghan war, which has lasted longer than World War II with no victory in sight.  Instead of keeping with his election promises and ending the fruitless war, Obama intensified it with a “surge,”

The war is now ten years old, and the Taliban control more of the country than does the US and its NATO puppets. Frustrated by their failure, the Americans and their NATO puppets increasingly murder women, children, village elders, Afghan police, and aid workers.

A video taken by a US helicopter gunship, leaked to Wikileaks and released, shows American forces, as if they were playing video games, slaughtering civilians, including camera men for a prominent news service, as they are walking down a peaceful street. A father with small children, who stopped to help the dying victims of American soldiers’ fun and games, was also blown away, as were his children. The American voices on the video blame the children’s demise on the father for bringing kids into a “war zone.” It was no war zone, just a quiet city street with civilians walking along.

The video documents American crimes against humanity as powerfully as any evidence used against the Nazis in the aftermath of World War II at the Nuremberg Trials. 

Perhaps the height of lawlessness was attained when the Obama regime announced that it had a list of American citizens who would be assassinated without due process of law.   

One would think that if law any longer had any meaning in Western civilization, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, indeed, the entire Bush/Cheney regime, as well as Tony Blair and Bush’s other co-conspirators, would be standing before the International Criminal Court.

Yet it is Gadaffi for whom the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants. Western powers are using the International Criminal Court, which is supposed to serve justice, for self-interested reasons that are unjust.

What is Gadaffi’s crime?  His crime is that he is attempting to prevent Libya from being overthrown by a US-supported, and perhaps organized, armed uprising in Eastern Libya that is being used to evict China from its oil investments in Eastern Libya.

Libya is the first armed revolt in the so-called “Arab Spring.” Reports have made it clear that there is nothing “democratic” about the revolt.  http://www.english.rfi.fr/print/95867?print=now 

The West managed to push a “no-fly” resolution through its puppet organization, the United Nations. The resolution was limited to neutralizing Gadaffi’s air force.  However, Washington, and its French puppet, Sarkozy,  quickly made an “expansive interpretation” of the UN resolution and turned it into authorization to become directly involved in the war. 

Gadaffi has resisted the armed rebellion against the state of Libya, which is the normal response of a government to rebellion. The US would respond the same as would the UK and France.  But by trying to prevent the overthrow of his country and his country from becoming another American puppet state, Gadaffi has been indicted. The International Criminal Court knows that it cannot indict the real perpetrators of crimes against humanity–Bush, Blair, Obama, and Sarkozy–but the court needs cases and accepts the victims that the West succeeds in demonizing.

In our post-Orwellian times, everyone who resists or even criticizes the US is a    criminal. For example, Washington considers Julian Assange and Bradley Manning to be criminals, because they made information available that exposed crimes committed by the US government. Anyone who even disagrees with Washington, is considered to be a “threat,” and Obama can have such “threats” assassinated or arrested as a “terrorist suspect” or as someone “providing aid and comfort to terrorists.”  American conservatives and liberals, who once supported the US Constitution, are all in favor of shredding the Constitution in the interest of being “safe from terrorists.” They even accept such intrusions as porno-scans and sexual groping in order to be “safe” on air flights.

The collapse of law is across the board. The Supreme Court decided that it is “free speech” for America to be ruled by corporations, not by law and certainly not by the people. On June 27, the US Supreme Court advanced the fascist state that the “conservative” court is creating with the ruling that Arizona cannot publicly fund election candidates in order to level the playing field currently unbalanced by corporate money. The “conservative” US Supreme Court considers public funding of candidates to be unconstitutional, but not the “free speech” funding by business interests who purchase the government in order to rule the country. The US Supreme Court has become a corporate functionary and legitimizes rule by corporations.  Mussolini called this rule, imposed on Americans by the US Supreme Court, fascism. 

The Supreme Court also ruled on June 27 that California violated the US Constitution by banning the sale of violent video games to kids, despite evidence that the violent games trained the young to violent behavior.  It is fine with the Supreme Court for soldiers, whose lives are on the line, to be prohibited under penalty of law from drinking beer before they are 21, but the idiot Court supports inculcating kids to be murderers, as long as it is in the interest of corporate profits, in the name of “free speech.”

Amazing, isn’t it, that a court so concerned with ‘free speech”  has not protected American war protesters from unconstitutional searches and arrests, or protected protesters from being attacked by police or herded into fenced-in areas distant from the object of protest. 

As the second decade of the 21st century opens, those who oppose US hegemony and the evil that emanates from Washington risk being declared to be  “terrorists.” If they are American citizens, they can be assassinated.  If they are foreign leaders, their country can be invaded.  When captured, they can be executed, like Saddam Hussein, or sent off to the ICC, like the hapless Serbs, who tried to defend their country from being dismantled by the Americans.

And the American sheeple think that they have “freedom and democracy.”

Washington relies on fear to coverup its crimes. A majority of Americans now fear and hate Muslims, peoples about whom Americans know nothing but the racist propaganda which encourages Americans to believe that Muslims are hiding under their beds in order to murder them in their sleep.

The neoconservatives, of course, are the purveyors of fear.  The more fearful the sheeple, the more they seek safety in the neocon police state and the more they overlook Washington’s crimes of aggression against Muslims. 

Safety uber alles. That has become the motto of a once free and independent American people, who once were admired but today are despised.

In America lawlessness is now complete.  Women can have abortions, but if they have stillbirths, they are arrested for murder. http://www.opednews.com/populum/linkframe.php?linkid=133808 

Americans are such a terrified and abused people that a 95-year old woman dying from leukemia traveling to a last reunion with family members was forced to remove her adult diaper in order to clear airport security.http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/mother-41324-search-adult.html  Only a population totally cowed would permit such abuses of human dignity. 

In a June 27 interview on National Public Radio, Ban Ki-moon, Washington’s South Korean puppet installed as the Secretary General of the United Nations, was unable to answer why the UN and the US tolerate the slaughter of unarmed civilians in Bahrain, but support the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Gadaffi for defending Libya against armed rebellion. Gadaffi has killed far fewer people than the US, UK, or the Saudis in Bahrain. Indeed, NATO and the Americans have killed more Libyans than has Gadaffi. The difference is that the US has a naval base in Bahrain, but not in Libya.

There is nothing left of the American character. Only a people who have lost their soul could tolerate the evil that emanates from Washington.

The Shadow Internet

June 29th, 2011 by Devon DB

It has recently been reported that the US government is currently attempting to create a “shadow” internet for political dissidents in certain countries as to aid in the spreading of democracy. While this may seem admirable, as usual with America, its actions always have a true, hidden agenda. In the case of creating a “shadow” internet, the true aim is to aid political dissidents in countries that don’t follow US orders

.

America is working to establish this “shadow” internet and cell phones “to help dissidents undermine authoritarian governments.” [1] However, what is truly going on is that the US is targeting nations that don’t obey it, as can be seen by how the US State Department has been “financing [the] creation of stealth wireless networks to enable activists to communicate beyond the reach of governments in countries likeIran, Syria and Libya.”  (emphasis added) [2] What do the three nations just mentioned all have in common? Their leadership does not subjugate itself to America and general Western interests. 

America has even gone so far as to create a suitcase containing “a laptop, a small wireless antenna, flash discs, and CDs” which can be used to “set up a shadow Internet anywhere.” [3] However, even this suit case isn’t even needed as the software can be downloaded for free and due to this, it is extremely versatile and could be on anything from a laptop to a flash drive to an iPhone. [4]

The US government has seen the rise of the internet and the important role it played in revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and the current uprising in Syria, Bahrain, and other areas of the Middle East, as well as how the internet can be used not only to counter governments, but also US interests as can be seen in the form of Wiki leaks and the group Anonymous. They are now acting quickly to use the internet to aid in the promotion of a pro-US agenda. By aiding dissidents and fomenting anger at anti-US regimes, America is working to give the impression that anything that occurs is due to the will of the people and their anger at the regime. If tensions were to go high enough, it could potentially provide the US with an excuse for “humanitarian intervention” as is currently going on in Libya.

This creation of a “shadow” internet only fuels the notion that the US is turning the internet into a new battlespace. (See this and this as well.) The Pentagon recently stated that if a cyber attack inflicts equivalent damage to an actual attack, “then the cyber-attacker can expect the U.S. to retaliate with a range of weaponry, not just anti-viral software or a cyberspace-only counterattack.”  [5]  (See here and here.)This “range of weaponry” is just a thinly veiled threat, which in actuality is saying that the US will take military action against any group or nation that attacks it in cyberspace.

By using the internet to aid in the toppling of governments and stating that any cyber attack would initiate a legitimate military response, the US is reshaping the internet from a place where ideas can be shared and information can be gathered, to a place of warfare and espionage. If this occurs, nothing good will come of it.

Notes

1: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/12/shadow-internet-secret-us_n_875577.html

2: Ibid

3:http://www.rferl.org/content/internet_in_a_suitcase_us_state_department/24248969.html

4: Ibid

5: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20110604/OPINION/106040313/U-S-builds-bulwark-against-cyberwarfare

Devon DB is 19 years old and studies political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

A raging wildfire is threatening to engulf the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Los Alamos has likely tested more nuclear weapons than any other facility in the world.

As if that weren’t bad enough, AP notes:

The anti-nuclear watchdog group Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, however, said the fire appeared to be about 3 1/2 miles from a dumpsite where as many as 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste were stored in fabric tents above ground. The group said the drums were awaiting transport to a low-level radiation dump site in southern New Mexico.

Lab spokesman Steve Sandoval declined to confirm that there were any such drums currently on the property.

Later, Los Alamos confirmed the allegation:

Lab officials at first declined to confirm that such drums were on the property, but in a statement early Tuesday, lab spokeswoman Lisa Rosendorf said such drums are stored in a section of the complex known as Area G. She said the drums contain cleanup from Cold War-era waste that the lab sends away in weekly shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

She said the drums were on a paved area with few trees nearby and would be safe even if a fire reached the storage area. Officials have said it is miles from the flames.

The Los Alamos Study Group alleges that the waste is not all from the Cold War, because the facility is cranking out more nuclear weapons than ever.

The lab has called in a special team to test plutonium and uranium levels in the air as a “precaution”.

One area within the Los Alamos complex already suffered a temporary fire, which was doused. As Reuters reports:

A small offshoot of the blaze jumped State Highway 4 onto the lab grounds on Monday, burning about an acre (0.4 hectare) of property before it was extinguished about two hours later.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the surrounding canyons also contain radioactivity from past bomb tests:

Authorities also are worried about potential radiation releases from nearby canyons. Radioactive material from nuclear tests was deposited in the canyons decades ago, and if trees in those canyons go up in flames, they could release radiation into the air, said Rita Bates, an air-quality official with the New Mexico Environment Department. That could raise the “potential for that smoke to affect people’s health,” she added.

TEPCO has decided to entomb Reactor 1, which is confirmed in a state of full meltdown,  in a sarcophagus shell to contain the high amounts of radiation that escape every day.  Simulations have led experts to believe that meltdown occurred after 3.5 hours after the cooling systems stopped.  While TEPCO finishes the designs for its containment structure in Japan, in the Ukraine, the Chernobyl sarcophagus is also being re-encased.   The installment of the cover is a temporary emergency measure, and its ability to withstand seismic activity is unknown.  

The full situation inside of Reactor 1 has not been released to the public yet, but monitoring of pressure readings inside of the RPV show that the pressure is equal to atmospheric pressure and dropping.  Both Reactor 2 and Reactor 3 RPV pressure levels currently register a lower than atomospheric pressure reading.

Video inside of the plant on June 3rd,  provided footage of steam forced out of the reactor that registered over 4 Sieverts.  While TEPCO continues to claim the pressure levels recorded in the Containment Vessel mean that the melted core has not yet escaped all containment measures, they do admit that contaminated water continues to leak from the Containment Vessel.  There is estimated to be at least one 7 centimeter hole in the CV.  TEPCO has announced that they do plan to install a new pressure gauge for the CV at some point in the future, and also must replace the broken radiation detection instrument in the drywell.

Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute is quoted by Mainichi Shinbun as saying that the melted core of the Reactor 1 is not just out of the Reactor Pressure Vessel but out of the Containment Vessel.

From Mainichi Shinbun, Koide’s comments only (5/16/2011):

小出裕章・京都大原子炉実験所助教は「電源喪失で原子炉が冷やせなくなれば、早い時期に炉心溶融に至ることは想定できていたはずだ。燃料の損傷が限定的だとしてきた東電の説明は完全に誤っていたことになる。データの公表も遅すぎる」と指摘する。

Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute points out that TEPCO could have foreseen the core melt at an early stage when the cooling of the reactor stopped due to the power failure. TEPCO’s assessment that the damage to the fuel was limited has turned out to be completely wrong. The disclosure of the data came too late.”

東電は今回の解析で「圧力容器の損傷は大規模ではない」と説明するが、小出助教は「圧力容器は完全に破損し、溶けた燃料が格納容器の底に穴を開け、原子炉建屋の地下に大量の汚染水が漏れ出す原因になっている」と推定する。

According to TEPCO, the data analysis shows that damage to the RPV is not extensive. However, Koide thinks “The RPV has been completely damaged, the melted core bore a hole at the bottom of the Containment Vessel, causing the large amount of contaminated water to leak into the ground beneath the reactor building.”

 

While the question of whether the Corium has escaped the building remains unanswered, the radiation levels inside and outside of the Reactor 1 building remain a constant enemy for workers.  Beside the 4,000 mSv steam, in May readings inside of the building registered 1,000 mSv on the 2nd floor, 2,000 mSv inside the southeast double door, and it is estimated at least 3,000 tons of contaminated water had leaked into the basement by mid-May.  By that point TEPCO had injected over 10,000 tons of water inside of the RPV, and the exact location of the other 7,000 tons was never produced.  These are just a few of the many obstacles that face TEPCO as they attempt to keep the situation under control to be able to complete the sarcophagus construction.

How much melted fuel is at Fukushima Daiichi?

These estimates are based off of public information regarding amounts of fuel stored in Reactor 1, Reactor 2, and Reactor 3.  All listed reactors are currently believed to be in a state of full-meltdown, but the actual amount of corium is likely greater than numbers used as other elements are incorporated during a meltdown.a

These estimates are based off of public information regarding amounts of fuel stored in Reactor 1, Reactor 2, and Reactor 3.  All listed reactors are currently believed to be in a state of full-meltdown, but the actual amount of corium is likely greater than numbers used as other elements are incorporated during a meltdown.

The covering structure was initially designed with a steel frame and a resin-coated polyester covering, but was redesigned with concrete walls.  TEPCO has not provided what information was used to determine the ability of the ground around the sarcophagus to hold the additional weight of the structure and original reactor building.  There is also no mention of what would happen if the melted corium, which thought to have escaped containment, were to cause an explosion inside of the structure.

A model of the structure and cranes used to assemble it.

Construction on the concrete and steel structure will begin on June 27th, according to the latest updated plans released by TEPCO.  High levels of radiation will severely limit the amount of work that can be done on-site, and will also accelerate the aging of materials used for the sarcophagus.  This is one of the lessons learned from the construction of the first sarcophagus at Chernobyl, and to combat the on-site radiation,  TEPCO will build many parts off-site.  The utility hopes to finish prefabrication of the frame and have it shipped to the site by late July.

The sarcophagus that encases Reactor 4 at Chernobyl was also constructed in haste, and is currently in an desperate need of repair.  The greatest problems with the Chernobyl sarcophagus is its lack of stability, which will be a even greater problem at Fukushima Daiichi.

The assembly process is to be primarily accomplished by remotely controlled cranes and other automated vehicles, in order to limit the amount of radiation workers are exposed to.  This is the plan at least, at Chernobyl initially robotic equipment was used to try and clear debris from the roof and around the damaged reactor, but the high levels of radiation caused all the equipment to fail.  This forced the Soviet Government to send in over 500,000 bio-robots from all around the Soviet Union.


The cranes to be used at Fukushima Daiichi are capable of transporting over 750 tons per load, but even the largest cranes in Japan can be rendered scrap if the wiring and electrical components are compromised by radiation.  To connect the frame, TEPCO developed a new connection part to try and create a functional fitting connection to keep the workers from entering the assembling area as little as possible.

A diagram of the newly designed connection parts for the structure

If the shroud is completed, it must also be able to prevent precipitation from entering the reactors, and limit the emission of radiation from the reactors and spent fuel pools.  Despite all of the best made plans, utility officials admit they are unsure of if construction can be completed, if it will perform as expected, and how long it may last.

Some of the many unanswered questions are, how much radioactive waste will need to be removed prior to construction, and how will TEPCO accomplish this.  If the remote-controlled equipment fails, what is the contingency plan?

Chernobyl Sarcophagus

Similar to Fukushima, the initial Chernobyl Structure was also constructed as an emergency measure to prevent radiation from being released into the atmosphere and further contaminating the northern hemisphere.  Only 200 tons of radioactive corium is locked within the structure, a fraction of the amounts estimated to be in the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.   The radioactivity inside of the sarcophagus prevented work from being completed at the time.  

1. The structure at Chernobyl was constructed out of more than 7,000 tons of steel and 410,000m3 of concrete
2. Due to harsh construction environment the structure was completed even though it had many defects and cracks that still allowed some radiation to be dispersed.

3. Has not lived up to design expectations

4. Current sarcophagus is not in good shape at all

5. Current sarcophagus would collapse in an earthquake measuring 6 or more

6. Europe is constructing a new dome over contaminated plant to prevent another nuclear disaster.

7. Construction on a new sarcophagus began in 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2012

8. Funding for the new containment shelter was paid for by many countries

9. The new structure completed in 2011 will require further upgrades in 100 years

Economic Contagion Gripping the World

June 28th, 2011 by Global Research


The Greatest Depression Has Only Begun
- by Global Research – 2011-07-02

Originating in 2008, the global economic crisis took the world by storm: banks collapsed, the “too big to fail” became bigger…


Can The Fed Stop Quantitative Easing?
- by Paul Craig Roberts – 2011-06-27


VIDEO: Debt Contagion and the Global Economic Collapse
New Sunday Report now on GRTV
- by James Corbett – 2011-06-27

The Democratic Party and the Assault on Public Workers
- by Barry Grey – 2011-06-27


Obama Joins Talks on Massive US Budget Cuts
- by Patrick Martin – 2011-06-27

Mayors Tell Congress: Bring War Dollars Home
- by Lisa Savage – 2011-06-26

America. The Working Class Versus the Middle Class
Solidarity or Competition in the Face of Crisis?
- by James Petras – 2011-06-26


Understand the Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order
Look Inside this Bestselling Book!
- by Prof Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-06-25


Is the Chinese Economy Sputtering for the Same Reasons as the American Economy?
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-06-25


Obama’s Trillion-Dollar “Sacrifice” Plan Targets Health Care and Social Security
- by Patrick Martin – 2011-06-25


Rising Sliver Prices
Silver headed to $200
- by Eric King, Peter Schiff – 2011-06-24


Economy Alone Fails to Explain Turkey’s Success
- by Ramzy Baroud – 2011-06-24


More Treachery at the Fed?
- by Mike Whitney – 2011-06-24


Farm Bankruptcies and Land Grabbing Worldwide
- 2011-06-23


Federal Reserve Shipped Billions to Iraq Which Were Then Stolen… Involved in Other Unsavory Activities
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-06-23


The Military as a Jobs Program: There are More Efficient Ways to Stimulate the Economy
- by Ellen Brown – 2011-06-22

Globalization And Its Consequences
- by Martin Hart-Landsberg – 2011-06-22


Europe and America: The Global Debt Crisis
- by GEAB – 2011-06-21


Free Money Creation to Bail Out Financial Speculators, but not Social Security or Medicare
Only the “Crazies” Get the Bank Giveaway Right
- by Michael Hudson – 2011-06-21


World Debt is Unpayable, The Only Solution is Monetary Collapse
- by Bob Chapman – 2011-06-20


Two Capitalisms
- by Joel S. Hirschhorn – 2011-06-20


Bilderberg 2011: The Rockefeller World Order and the “High Priests of Globalization”
- by Andrew Gavin Marshall – 2011-06-16

As indicated from leaks of the recent 2011 Bilderberg meeting, the euro-zone is in a major crisis, and Bilderberg members are struggling to keep the house of glass from shattering to pieces.

A water-filled berm protecting a nuclear power plant in Nebraska from rising floodwaters collapsed Sunday, according to a spokesman, who said the plant remains secure.

Some sort of machinery came in contact with the berm, puncturing it and causing the berm to deflate, said Mike Jones, a spokesman for the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), which owns the Fort Calhoun plant.

The plant, located about 20 miles north of Omaha, has been shut since April for refueling.

“The plant is still protected. This was an additional, a secondary, level of protection that we had put up,” Jones said. “The plant remains protected to the level it would have been if the aqua berm had not been added.”

Parts of the grounds are already under water as the swollen Missouri River overflows its banks, including areas around some auxiliary buildings, Jones said.

In addition to the berm, authorities have put in place floodgates and other barriers to help protect the facility, like sandbags.

The 8-foot-tall, water-filled berm, 16 feet wide at its base, surrounded the reactor containment structure and auxiliary buildings, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We built the plant up high enough based on history, based on the flooding in the past. If the flood would rise for some reason above that level we have taken precautions, again, per our procedures to sandbag the important equipment for the reactors,” said Dave Van Der Kamp, with the Nebraska Public Power District.

He said the chances of floodwater getting into the building where the core is kept are almost zero.

The plant is designed to withstand waters up to 1,014 feet above mean sea level, according to the OPPD. The river currently stands at 1,006.3 feet and is not expected to exceed 1,008 feet, the OPPD said.

Heavy rainfall in Montana and North Dakota, combined with melting snow from the Rocky Mountains, have sent the Missouri surging downstream this summer. The river washed over and punched through levees in nearby northwestern Missouri, spurring authorities to urge about 250 nearby residents to leave their homes.

The 6 to 12 inches of rainfall in the upper Missouri basin in the past few weeks is nearly a normal year’s worth, and runoff from the mountain snowpack is 140% of normal, according to forecasters.

It was catastrophic flooding from Japan’s March 11 tsunami that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, resulting in three reactors melting down and producing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. This year’s Midwestern flooding has also led to a spate of rumors about the Fort Calhoun plant that OPPD and the NRC have been trying to knock down.

The utility has set up a “flood rumor control” page to reassure the public that there has been no release of radioactivity from the plant. An electrical fire June 7 did knock out cooling to its spent fuel storage pool for about 90 minutes, but the coolant water did not reach a boiling point before backup pumps went into service, it has said.

 
CNN’s Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.