Palestinians Disqualify U.S. as Peace Broker

February 22nd, 2013 by Nicola Nasser

The “unbreakable alliance,” which will be confirmed by the upcoming visit of President Barak Obama to Israel , will disqualify the United States as an honest broker of peace in the Arab – Israeli conflict in Palestine , a Palestinian veteran peace negotiator says.

This “unbreakable alliance” will doom whatever hopes remain during Obama’s visit for the revival of the U.S. – sponsored deadlocked “peace process,” on the resumption of which depends the very survival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership, and explains as well the Palestinian frustration, low expectations, unenthusiastic welcome and the absence of celebrations for their most cherished among world celebrities, in a stark contrast to the euphoria that is sweeping Israel in waiting for what the U.S. and Israeli officials are describing as an “historic” visit.

On February 19, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office released the official blue, red and white logo that will be on all documents and signs during Obama’s visit late in March. The logo shows the words “Unbreakable Alliance” written in English and Hebrew under a combined Israeli and U.S. flags.

During his visit, Obama will become the first ever serving U.S. president to receive Israel’s presidential medal to honor the fact that he has “established the closest working military and intelligence relationship with Israel in the country’s history: Joint exercises and training, increased security assistance every year, unprecedented advanced technology transfers, doubling of funding for Israel’s missile defense system, and assistance in funding for the Iron Dome system,” according to Steven L. Spiegel in Huffington Post late last year.

Speaking exclusively to RFI Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian veteran peace negotiator and member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Israel’s partner in signing the defunct Oslo peace accords, said the first – term Obama administration “have just managed to buy more time for Israel” to “create facts on the (Israeli – occupied Palestinian) ground.”

“Our experience has been really tragic with this American administration,” which “started with such high hopes and tremendous promises,” but “they backed down so quickly it was incredible,” she added, to conclude: “The U.S. has disqualified itself as a peace broker.”

Therefore, “there are no plans to celebrate” Obama’s visit to Ramallah, because “they haven’t forgotten the part he played” in aborting the PLO’s efforts in 2011 to win the United Nations’ recognition of Palestine statehood as a full member and in opposing its UN recognition as a non – member observer state the next year, according to Shlomi Eldar in Al-Monitor on February 14. Still, to make a bad situation worse, Obama will convey the same message to Abbas during his upcoming visit, because “our position has not changed” neither to Palestinian statehood nor to Palestinian national reconciliation according to U.S. State Department spokeswoman Olivia Nuland on February 19.

Obama will visit on the backdrop of a two –year old simmering Palestinian – U.S. political crisis, which potentially could explode in the aftermath of his visit.

The U.S. subscription to the UN recognition of Palestinian statehood would establish irrevocably the prerequisite to make or break the only viable “two – state solution” for the almost century – old conflict, because it would confirm the 1967 borders as the basis for such a solution and, consequently, will for sure defuse the time bomb of the Israeli illegal settlement enterprise in the Palestinian occupied territories and pave the way for the resumption of negotiations. However neither Obama nor the U.S. is forthcoming and they continue to “manage” the conflict instead of seriously seeking to solve it.

Earlier this month, Israel in an unprecedented move boycotted the UN Human Rights Council because a year – long investigation by the council produced a report urging that “Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions. It must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT (occupied Palestinian territories).” The report stated that about 250 settlements were established in the Israeli –occupied Palestinian West Bank where 520,000 settlers live now, which the report said could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.

Recently, Yacov Ben Efrat, the General Secretary of the Israeli DAAM Party, wrote in Challenge Magazine that when Obama arrives in the Israel – occupied Palestinian territories “he will see that his policy of appeasing the Israeli right has nearly killed the Palestinian (self- ruled) Authority” economically as well as politically, to conclude: “Having already experienced the Oslo accords, the Palestinians have already seen how the temporary becomes permanent, and there is no way they will accept this.”

“It’s plain and simple: Either the settlements or peace … even Obama won’t get us abandon this principle,” PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted as saying on February 14.

Should Obama decide to act accordingly, he may reinforce the “unbreakable alliance” with Israel to his convenience, from a Palestinian perspective. Otherwise, any initiative by Obama to resume the Palestinian – Israeli peace talks during his upcoming visit to the region will be doomed as a non – starter.

On this February 19, author Marvin Kalb wrote (http://www.brookings.edu/blogs): “Instead of opening his Mid-East diplomacy with a cutting critique of Israel’s cantankerous settlements policy, often considered the third rail of Israeli politics, … instead of allowing, even encouraging, a discomfiting coolness in Israeli-American relations, … the Israelis and the Palestinians might be engaging in serious, face-to-face negotiations on a peace treaty by this time.”

Releasing a $ 700 million of U.S. blocked Palestinian aid, using U.S. good offices to make Arab donors honor their pledges to them or convincing Israel to release the tax and customs revenue it collects on their behalf are not the kind of U.S. “carrots” that would open a breakthrough.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.* [email protected]

By Ulrike Putz

An Israeli agent commits suicide in his prison cell. Was he a traitor? The mysterious case of “Prisoner X,” reported to be Australian-born Benjamin Zygier, provides an insight into the workings of the Mossad.

The Milan office building exudes elegance with its stucco facade, brass name plate, concierge service and expensive wooden furniture inside. There’s nothing to suggest that the firm based here, which specializes in the sale of satellite communications technology, is a front for the Israel foreign intelligence service Mossad.

But the Milan company is reported to have hired Israeli agents who needed legends for their operations in enemy territory. One of them was Ben Zygier, an Australian Jew and a committed Zionist who emigrated to Israel as a young man. The company is reported to have vouched as Zygier’s employer when he applied for a work visa at the Italian consulate in Melbourne in 2005. That, at least, is what Australian intelligence agents claim.

Ben Zygier died aged 34, just four days after the birth of his second child, on December 15, 2010, in a solitary confinement cell in the Ayalon high-security prison near Tel Aviv. He was reported to have hanged himself, even though he was the country’s best-guarded prisoner, monitored by four cameras. His lawyer had met him one or two days beforehand and said Zygier had seemed normal.

Mossad spy Zygier: a new name every year.

His case made headlines last week after an Australian news program identified Zygier as Israel’s mysterious “Prisoner X.” What crime can the agent have committed to prevent even his guards from knowing his identity?

Israeli officials said he had been a danger to national security. His lawyer said the accusations against him were “serious.” When Zygier died, Israel issued a gag order preventing media from covering the case.

‘Access to Secret Installations’

The agent was arrested in February 2010, shortly after the Mossad had murdered the weapons dealer of Hamas in Dubai. Now there’s speculation that Zygier was involved in that killing, and that he may have divulged secrets. Or did he have something to do with the killings of Iranian scientists or software attacks against Iran’s nuclear program?

There are no answers, but Zygier and two other Australian Jews who also worked for the Milan firm were reported to have been successful agents. “The nature of their business gave them access to military and secret installations,” said an Austrialian intelligence source.

Zygier’s case provides insight into the methods of Mossad. It shows how the service recruits agents and masks operations.

As a young man, Zygier got involved with the “Community Security Group” in Melbourne, a kind of Jewish citizens’ defense league. These groups often have links to Mossad and are instructed by agents. Ben Zygier was probably recruited in this way. At around the same time, Paul Y. and David Z. were recruited.

Australian Jews are particularly attractive to the Mossad because of a quirk in the law: Australians are allowed to change their first and last names once a year. It’s a wonderful way to adopt a new identity.

After he completed his education, Zygier emigrated to Israel. Y. and Z. also moved there. The three of them — all holding Israeli and Australian citizenship — got jobs with the Milan-based firm. Back in Australia, they applied for new names. Ben Zygier got the names Benjamin Burrows and Benjamin Allen. Y. and Z. also changed their names at least twice.

Under Surveillance

But in 2009 their repeated name-changing aroused the interest of the Australian authorities — especially when Zygier handed in his old passports, filled with Iranian entry visas. Paul Y. spent a lot of time in Syria, Iran, Egypt and Dubai. David Z., too, travelled to Iran several times. That wasn’t just evident from his passport stamps. During one trip in 2004, he sought help from the Australian consulate in Tehran.

The three men were now put under surveillance whenever they went back to Australia. Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency also began to take an interest in David Z., who possessed a British passport as well.

Ben Zygier also attracted attention with his choice of friends. During a trip to Melbourne in 2009, his followers noticed that he was approaching Iranian and Saudi-Arabian students at Monash University.

Soon after that, a source told the Australian journalist Jason Koutsoukis that the three men were caught up in espionage. When he confronted Zygier with these accusations, he denied it. “I asked him why he changes his name so often,” said Koutsoukis. “He replied he had personal reasons for that.”

They spoke three more times before mid-February 2010. Zygier was getting increasingly annoyed, he said he just wanted to build a normal life for himself in Israel. During the last telephone call he shouted: “Fuck off!”

At this point the Australian authorities already planned to arrest Zygier for espionage. But the Israeli authorities were quicker. On Feb. 24, Israel informed a liaison officer from the Australian secret service in Tel Aviv that Zygier had been arrested.

Zygier died in December. Calls to the firm in Milan are only answered by voicemail. Paul Y. and David Z. are reported to be still living in Israel. Possibly under new names.

Thanks to “Information Clearing House” -

Carnage: 53 Killed In Syria Courtesy of US Allies

February 22nd, 2013 by Global Research News

By Daniel McAdams

While the US and its Western partners pretend to be engaged in a global war against terrorism, their terrorist allies in Syria have set off another car bomb, tellingly very close to the ruling Baath party offices and the Russian embassy. Initial reports are that more than 50 have been killed by the terrorists, including many children attending a nearby school.

The Syrian rebels despise the Russians for refusing to provide them weapons and resisting US demands for regime change in Syria. The rebels have long threatened to attack Russian interests in Syria.

No doubt this bombing against a government building will be blamed on the Syrian government in the Western media, adding to the phony UN body count. As Sharmine Narwani points out in the Guardian, the organization that is responsible for compiling the “body count” in Syria is…surprise…funded by the US State Department! Narwani quotes Megan Price, lead author of the UN’s casualty analysis project, admitting, “We were not asked to do verification of whether the casualties are real.” Well, that’s helpful. Narwani’s analysis of the results is highly suggestive: the vast majority of those “killed by the regime” are in fact fighting age men — only 7.5 percent are female. The numbers are cooked, however, to instigate for another “humanitarian intervention.”

It is a shameful day. A day to remember the carnage and the horrors of war. And to again redouble efforts against US interventionism.

Think of that, count it off . . . 1,000 days; that is how long Bradley Manning has been incarcerated without a trial.

Even though he has been incarcerated for nearly three years most Americans have no idea what he did, why he did it or how he has been mistreated coming from the commander-in-chief to the courtroom at Fort Meade.

The mass media has made sure to keep Americans ignorant about what is going on and why it is important.  But many do see through the misinformation and are standing with Brad.  We take action because like Brad, we want the truth to be told, the truth to be known and understood so we can improve the country.

In more than 55 cities this weekend and around the world, people will rally, hold forums, protest – take whatever action they can to lift the veil and expose the truth.  Join them or create your own.

What are some of the truths? There are so many. In this short newsletter, we want to focus on one – Hillary Clinton.  She is the most popular woman in the world, according to polls. If she wants the presidency, the media tells us, it is hers. Yet, what do the Wikileaks documents which whistleblower Bradley Manning released show us? They show us she is not fit to be president and rather than being admired, she should be prosecuted.  That will sound extreme to the ears of Americans who have had the truth hidden from them, but it is a factual statement.

199 The United States houses the United Nations.  This gives the US great opportunity to spy on UN diplomats when they come to New York for meetings.  It is against the law to spy on diplomats when they come to such meetings.  But, the Wikileaks documents show that in 2009 Hillary Clinton ordered that foreign diplomats be spied on. She even ordered US diplomats to obtain DNA data, biometric data, iris scans and fingerprints as well as credit card and frequent flier numbers and so much more. Her orders, sent to 30 embassies, were fulfilling the request of the CIA for all sorts of information.  The General Secretary, Ban Kai Moon (who was also spied on) called Clinton in for a meeting about this violation of law.  Did this get any media attention in the US? Were there calls for an investigation or a special prosecutor? No. Inside the US Empire there was silence from the mass media and political elite.

When the Arab Spring in Egypt was on the verge of success, what role did Clinton play? She urged support for Omar Suleiman. Then Manning’s Wikileaks documents exposed who Suleiman was.  Suleiman was the man who did the dirty work for the authoritarian dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak.  Not only did he do Mubarak’s dirty work, but he was the go-to guy for Israel in dealing with Egypt, making all sorts of dealsthat allowed the abuse of Palestinians. He was the one who did the dirty work for the US Empire. He was the CIA liaison for the source of the misinformation campaign on WMDs in Iraq and people targeted by the US were renditioned to the torturous abuse of Omar Suleiman.  But Clinton, who certainly knew all this, called on Suleiman to investigate Egypt’s violence and thought he’d be the perfect replacement for Mubarak. When this all came out in Egypt, not much was said about it in the US but Clinton’s pick, Suleiman, was no longer a viable candidate.

Clinton announced last week that she will be doing public speaking after she rests from her arduous job as Secretary of State.  No doubt she will reap the pay-off for her years of hard work for the transnational corporations for whom US foreign policy is designed. The Wikileaks documents again show the truth of that fact. Of course, the American people are told we go to war for democracy, protection of human rights and the rights of woman in Afghanistan.  Sadly, the mass media says these things over and over so Americans learn to believe them, even though the Wikileaks documents show US foreign policy is of, by and for big corporations.

Anyone who has followed the Manning case has seen his mistreatment by the government from his initial incarceration to his abusive prosecution.  Under military law, Manning was supposed to be arraigned within 120 days of his arrest but it took well over 600 days to do so.

During that 600 days Manning was driven to near suicide. First he was kept in abusive conditions in Kuwait: kept awake at night and only sleeping during the day, his cell searched regularly, torn apart by guards and he was kept away from other prisoners. Manning thought he was going to die in an 8 by 8 animal cage in Kuwait.

201

He rejoiced when he was being put on a plane, not knowing where he was going, but knowing it was better than where he was. When he landed at BWI airport, he was so happy to be in the United States – to be home.  But, he soon learned things would not get better as he was held in solitary confinement for nine more months at the abusive Quantico Marine Base, where every five minutes he was required to respond to the question, “Are you alright?”, and throughout the day not allowed to lie down or sit leaning against the wall in his cell. These are only two examples of many abuses he suffered.

No one else will ever suffer at the Quantico brig because it is now being closed, no doubt in part due to the notoriety Manning supporters heaped on the base with repeated protests until Manning was released and finally treated appropriately.

202 That’s right, activists made a difference. It was after our final protest where dozens were arrested and paramilitary units, helicopters and horses were turned against us that he was put in appropriate pre-trial confinement. Occupyveterans and other activists have consistentlysupported Manning. We are in solidarity because we all want transparent and peaceful government.

That is why what we do this weekend makes a difference. 1,000 days. It needs to be memorialized, forced into the consciousness of Americans misled by mass media propaganda that prefers to focus on Manning’s sexuality rather than the facts contained in the documents he released.

203

Really, that is the essence of it. Manning took on the heart of American corporatocracy – the Empire. The media cannot even let us know how big the national security state really is, always understating the real annual cost of our $1.3 trillion security state; never acknowledging that the US has more than 1200 bases and outposts around the world. In fact, no one in the media or political class ever even acknowledges that the US is an Empire.

It is almost amusing because it is so absurd.  We live in the largest Empire in world history but the media, political class and the plutocrats behind them never acknowledge the US is an Empire.

That is why Manning has been mistreated from the initial release of the “Collateral Murder Video” showing the US military killing journalists and others in Iraq, Manning became a target of the Empire. He has lifted the veil so the truth can be seen. And, no doubt it will. As the US Empire fades, as all empires do, people will examine the Wikileaks documents and be amazed at what they contain – a daily history of the Empire’s military and diplomatic corps. That treasure trove will show a very corrupt, abusive and violent empire. Manning will be on the right side of history and so will those of you who stand with Brad.

204 Let’s make his 1,000 days in prison something all Americans are aware of by joining on of the events this weekend and if there is no event in your area, create one. Go to your local paper and ask them to report on Manning, the Wikileaks documents and to start a discussion about US Empire.  Manning said in chat logs that he hoped to start a debate in the US so we could improve the countryLet’s use this weekend to help make that a reality.

The “Alternative Media” Challenges Officialdom’s Views

February 22nd, 2013 by Colin Todhunter

The mainstream media is under threat. And the threat is in the form of what is known as the ‘alternative media’. Decades ago, the ‘underground’ media took the form of pamphlets and booklets.

These days, it’s no longer ‘underground’ and you don’t need money to cover print and distribution costs. It’s very much alive and kicking above ground and is there for all to access on the net.

The mainstream media includes popular TV channels, newspapers and news websites, from Reuters and CNN to Fox News and NDTV in India. Critics of the mainstream media say that it tends to parrot officialdom’s views, bows to advertising concerns and upholds the prevailing social and economic system, not least because it tends to be privately owned and thus its owners have a vested interest in maintaining a system based on private ownership and thus in manufacturing consent for it. Moreover, media outlets are often part of major conglomerates, which may include armaments manufacturers, banking or industrial concerns. News outlets will not therefore adopt stances or report on stories that are harmful to the wider interests of the organisation.

The public is thus given access to a world view that is distorted in favour of state-corporate interests. And such interests have succeeded in getting across the message that, for example, the ‘free market’ is the best way to deliver goods and services to people, state provided welfare is bad and ‘individual responsibility’ is good, privatisation increases efficiency, a ‘war on terror’ must be waged on designated enemies and that gross inequalities and corporate power are necessary and legitimate.

Over the past decade, numerous websites have sprung up that question these assumptions. Montreal-based Global Research gets around 125,000 unique visitors a day. It forwards an anti-globalisation agenda. The site attracts a diverse readership, but all believe one thing: the mainstream media is failing to tell people the truth about how bankers, corporate oligarchs and governments are working hand in glove to deceive people and strip them of their rights.

It is the one stop site for people who are concerned about uncovering the truth over 9/11 and the reasons for the west’s endless imperialist wars. It sets out to expose the global elite’s agenda to create a ‘new world order’, which is partly being done by spraying poisons into the atmosphere (chemtrails), genetically modifying food, using vaccines or employing any other number of methods to subjugate us.

In the US, talk show host Alex Jones has a massive following on the net. Jones is concerned with how the US government is waging a war against its own population and is stripping away people’s constitutional rights. In the UK, former TV sports host David Icke spreads a similar message. As with Jones, Icke is concerned about a secretive ‘illuminati’ of bankers, rich families and various other elites who are actively conspiring to bring about a ‘new world order’.

From Prison Planet to the 4th Media, the ‘alternative media’ has gone from strength to strength. One reason for its popularity has been that, since the decline of the Soviet Union, the US has surged ahead with an agenda for world domination through perpetual wars. At the same time, increasing surveillance and an erosion of wage levels and democratic rights in western countries have compelled people to look for answers as to why everything seems to be going wrong. The economic crisis caused by bankers and the resultant austerity for the masses has added further fuel to the fire. To some extent, the boundaries between the traditional left and the radical right have become blurred as fingers are being pointed towards the machinations and motives of ‘the global elite’, however defined.

The European Union (EU) is now voicing concerns about the ‘damaging’ effects of this. Apparently, societal consensus is being eroded as people are being ‘led astray’. It’s not so much ‘reds under the bed’ that is causing the authorities concern these days, but conspiracy theories on the internet. In the report “A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy,” the EU feels there is a danger that people are being misguidedly radicalised and advocates EU funding for ‘responsible’ journalism and getting the EU’s viewpoint across regularly and prominently in the media, as well as placing controls on the net. The EU perceives this to be ‘pluralism’. As with the targeting of WikiLeaks, it amounts to nothing more than an attempt to reassert ideological control and a clamping down on the ‘alternative media’ and its ongoing exposure of state-corporate deceit.

In India, Kerala-based Countercurrents seems to be at the forefront of the ‘alternative media’. With around 25,000 unique visitors per day, its focus is similar to that of Global Research, although it carries more features on India. However, the ‘alternative media’ has not yet taken off in India. Indians have not yet been turned on to the messages of the ‘alternative media’ and have thus not ‘tuned in’. This is of concern to Binu Mathew from the Countercurrents website. He says the predicament is that we have too little time to tackle the challenges our ecosystem and humanity face.

For Mathew, good ideas not only catch fire, but in this digital day and age can spread like fire. And that encapsulates the power of the ‘alternative media’. Till now, the mainstream media has been a major tool of social control, serving to sanction capitalism’s inherent social and economic privileges and disadvantages. But it’s losing its impact and is being replaced by alternative outlets. Whether in the US or EU, officialdom is losing control. And that’s why it’s running scared.

This article originally appeared in India’s Deccan Herald newspaper on 18 Feb 2013.

The figures quoted for site visitors are approximate and based on statmyweb.com site statistics.

 

 

 

On Education, Barack Obama is the President of Privatization

February 22nd, 2013 by Bruce A. Dixon

By the time his term is over, President Obama and his Race To The Top program will have forced the closure and privatization of thousands of inner-city schools, a feat no white Republican or Democrat could have accomplished. But he’ll only be president 4 more years. If we can stop this now, his successors won’t be able to do this again. Can we? Will we?

Last year we asked why the announcement that the city of Philadelphia planned to close 40 more public schools over the next few months wasn’t national news. This year, we could ask the same about Chicago, where officials have announced plans to close more than a hundred schools, or about Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland, Atlanta and dozens of other cities.

The national wave of school closings not national news because our nation’s elite, from Wall Street and the hedge fund guys to the chambers of commerce and the business establishment, from corporate media and all the elite politicians of both parties from the president down to local mayors and state legislators are working diligently to privatize public education as quickly as possible. They’re not stupid. They’ve done the polling and the focus groups. They know with dead certainty that the p-word is massively unpopular, and that parents, teachers, students and communities aren’t clamoring to hand schools over to greedy profiteers.

On every level, the advocates of educational privatization strive to avoid using the p-word. They deliberately mislabel charter schools, just as unaccountable as every other private business in the land as “public charter schools,” because after all, they use public money. So do Boeing, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, but nobody calls these “public aerospace companies,” “public military contractors,” or “public banks.” For the same reason, corporate media refuse to cover the extent of the school closing epidemic, or local opposition to it, for fear of feeding the development of a popular movement against privatization, and Race To The Top, the Obama administration’s signature public education initiative, and the sharp edge of the privatizers, literally driving the wave of school closings, teacher firings, and the adoption of “run-the-school-like-a-business” methods everywhere.

The privatizers know the clock is ticking. They know that no white Republican or Democrat could have successfully closed thousands of schools, mainly in the inner city and low-income neighborhoods without a tidal wave of noisy opposition. No white Republican or Democrat could have fired or replaced tens of thousands of experienced, mostly black qualified, experienced classroom teachers with younger, whiter, cheaper “graduates” of 5 week “teacher training” programs like Teach For America.

President Obama’s black face, and the connivance of the black political class of which he is the reigning exemplar enables the implementation of right wing policies in the areas of war and peace, in growing the police and prison states, in shrinking the parts of the state that protect economic and civil rights, in guaranteeing Big Oil, Wall Street and other corporate malefactors continued immunity and impunity, in privatizing the Postal Service and of course public education. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Barack Obama will only be president less than four more years. If a noisy, contentious, civilly disobedient popular movement to protect public education can be brought into existence in the next year this president and our turncoat black political class can be stopped. The clock is ticking for us too.

The privatizers know that this is their chance to succeed. We must this is our best chance to stop them.

What can we do? What can you do?

If you live in one of the hundreds of jurisdictions that elect school board members in November 2013, now is the time to call your neighbors together and choose which one of you will be a candidate. School board elections are low impact, low budget, low attention and low turnout affairs, the most favorable electoral terrain for amateur and grassroots activists. In Georgia the Green Party will be calling together search and support committees to seek and support school board candidates who oppose privatization. So if you live in Georgia you can email me. My email is at the end of this article.

Join or start an organization of parents, teachers, students or all three in your neighborhood to halt the privatizations. Next week Black Agenda Report will have a resource page for school activists, from which you can read and download materials that will help you educate and inform your neighbors and co-workers on the issue of school privatization.

You can join the parents, students and teachers who are coming to DC the first week of April to Occupy the Department of Education. We’ll have more information here at Black Agenda Report on that too.

The clock is ticking. Once we lose the public schools we won’t get them back. And if we can stop the black President of Privatization from doing this to us, it should be easy to prevent the next white one from continuing this evil and destructive policy.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport

For those who missed President Obama’s latest giveaway to the Bank Mafia, we’ll repeat what he said here. This is an excerpt from his recent State of the Union Speech:

“Part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector. Today, our housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in six years, home purchases are up nearly 50 percent, and construction is expanding again.

But even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill. Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first home. What’s holding us back? Let’s streamline the process, and help our economy grow.”

First of all, whenever you hear a politician talk about “streamlining the process”, run for cover. The term is a right-wing formulation that means “remove all the rules which inhibit profitmaking”. Naturally, Wall Street’s favorite son, President Hopium, is more than comfortable with the expression and uses it to great effect. But what are the rules that Obama wants to eliminate, that’s the question?

Obama answers that himself when he says: “Too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected.”

This is pure baloney. Borrowers with good credit who can meet the standard down payment requirement (usually 10 percent) can secure financing without too much trouble. The problem is that the banks don’t want to be limited to creditworthy applicants alone, because there aren’t enough creditworthy applicants interested in buying a house. That’s why they want Obama to loosen regulations on “government insured” mortgages so they can lend money to anyone they want knowing that Uncle Sam will pay the bill when the loans go belly-up. That is what this is all about; Obama wants congress to slap their seal of approval on a new regime of crappy loans that will eventually be dumped on US taxpayers. Here’s the story from Bloomberg:

“U.S. Realtors and mortgage bankers say they’re hoping President Barack Obama’s call for streamlining mortgage rules will lend new momentum to efforts to prevent imposing a strict minimum down payment for home loans.

… bankers and real estate agents …are angling for changes to a proposed regulation requiring lenders to keep a stake in risky loans say they hope Obama’s comments will help their cause.

At issue is the so-called Qualified Residential Mortgage rule, which six banking regulators including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve are aiming to complete this year. The regulators drew protests in 2011 when they released a preliminary draft requiring lenders to keep a stake in mortgages with down payments of less than 20 percent and those issued to borrowers spending more than 36 percent of their income on debt…” (Housing Industry Pins Hopes on Obama to Soften Down-Payment Rule, Bloomberg)

Can you believe this hogwash? Regulators are asking the banks to retain a lousy 5% of the value on high-risk mortgages (so they can cover the losses in the event of another meltdown) and the stinking bankers are whining about it! Unbelievable. In other words, they’re being asked to put some “skin in the game” so they can pay off defaulting loans when they blow up the financial system again, and they don’t want to do it. The banks are fighting so-called “risk retention” tooth and nail, because they don’t want to tie up their capital. Imagine if your insurance company ran its business the same way? So, then your house burns down, and the claims agent tells you, “Sorry, Mr Jones, we can’t pay your claim because all our money is tied up in structured investment vehicles and dodgy debt instruments.” Are you okay with that? But that’s what the banks are doing, and they’re doing it because they want to be leveraged “N”th-degree to maximize profits. Besides, they know from experience, that when the system goes down again, the USG will ride to the rescue and pay off their debts. So why hold capital?

Keep in mind, that the banks can lend whatever amount they want to whomever they want. No one is stopping them. But if they want the government to guarantee the loan (or if they want government financing), they have to follow certain rules. And the rules have to be clear because the banks have shown that they can’t be trusted. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“Housing industry participants want the regulators writing QRM to drop the down payment requirement and raise borrowers’ allowable debt load to 43 percent, essentially setting the same requirements in both the QM and QRM rules.” (Bloomberg)

This is so stupid it boggles the mind. “No, Mr Bankster, Uncle Sam will not guarantee your putrid loan if the applicant can’t come up with a measly down payment or if his monthly payments exceed the standard 36 percent of income to debt.” This is so tiresome. There’s no point in putting people into loans that they can’t repay. We tried that. It doesn’t work.

Now ask yourself this: Why are the banks so adamantly opposed to what-they-call the “stringent down payment requirement”? Down payments have been SOP for decades. A 10 or 20 percent down is an indication that a borrower is responsible enough to set aside some of his income for the future, which reflects positively on his creditworthiness. It’s also an indication that the borrower is not going to cut-and-run at the first sign that prices are falling. Stakeholders typically stay with the ship even after it’s hit the iceberg, which helps to stabilize the market and prevent prices from falling off a cliff. The banks know this, which is why they typically demand a down payment on loans that are NOT guaranteed by the government. It’s only when the government’s on the hook for the loss that they don’t give a rip.

Bloomberg again: “Groups including the Mortgage Bankers Association have been warning about the impact of rulemaking in an already tight market.”

Now there’s a surprise. So bankers hate rules and regulations? Really? And they also think its terrible that borrowers need to have decent credit scores to qualify for “government backed” loans? Will wonders never cease. Well they won’t have to wait much longer, will they, because Obama has promised to loosen those “onerous” rules so they can get back to business and start fleecing people like the good old days.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the banks have figured out what many analysts have known all along; that low rates, mortgage modifications, and massive private investment (speculation) are not going to be enough to reflate prices and generate another housing bubble. No way. It’s going to take a total breakdown in lending standards so the banks can, once again, provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to anyone who can sit upright and scratch his John Hancock on a mortgage app. That’s what it’s going to take to erase the 30% loss in the value on the stockpile of garbage mortgages the banks still hold on their balance sheets.

Here’s Obama again:

“Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill.”

So Obama doesn’t just want to loosen regulations for new home buyers (No down payment, high debt-to-income ratio), he also wants to help refinance underwater homeowners who’ve been making their monthy payments regularly. But why? After all, the administration’s aggressive mortgage modification program (HAMP) is already providing low-interest refis for people who are as much as 125% LTV (underwater) What’s different about this program?

Ahh, that’s where it gets interesting. Here’s the scoop from Bloomberg:

“The U.S. Treasury Department and members of Congress are preparing to move forward with plans to expand government-backed refinancing programs to underwater homeowners whose loans are packaged in private-label securities.” (“U.S. Mortgage Refinancing Push Said to Advance in Congress”, Bloomberg)

“Private label”? So now the USG is going to guarantee the mortgages the banks concocted in their boilerrooms that didn’t even conform to standards that would allow them to be financed by Fannie and Freddie? That’s what Obama is pushing for? Yeegads! Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, is drafting a bill modeled on a proposal he outlined last year to set up a federal trust to purchase or guarantee refinanced mortgages….

The trust, as described in Merkley’s earlier proposal, would provide relief to borrowers with privately owned loans and probably would be set up under the oversight of an existing housing agency. If Congress doesn’t pass such a measure, the Treasury is drafting a plan to step in to pay for rate modifications for those homeowners.” (Bloomberg)

What? So if Congress doesn’t approve the bailout, then the Treasury will implement the plan anyway? Is that it? That doesn’t sound very democratic.

Bloomberg again:

“Under that option, the government would pay the difference between the new and original interest rates to the owners of the loans for five years. Investors in private-label securities have sometimes objected to mortgage modifications because of concerns their income could be reduced.” (Bloomberg)

Wait a minute. Shouldn’t the investors or the banks take the haircut instead of taxpayers? After all, whose fault is it that 5 million families have lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007 and 11 million homeowners are presently underwater? Not the taxpayer. Let the responsible parties bear the costs. That’s the way the system is supposed to work, right?

And Merkley’s proposal is just one two bills now awaiting congressional action. The other is the Boxer-Menendez bill which “promises lenders they won’t be forced to absorb the loss on refinanced loans that default.” (Bloomberg) Great. So, while the Boxer-Menendez bill will not refi loans that are not backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, (no “private label” loans) it will move (an estimated) one million high-risk mortgages off bank balance sheets and onto the public’s ledger. This is how the free market capitalism works in the US today; all the profits go to Wall Street and all the red ink goes to Main Street.

Obama doesn’t care if struggling homeowners get a break on their refis or not. It’s all a joke. He’s just helping his bank buddies cut their losses while they set the stage for their next big heist.

Why The Banking Elite Want Riots in America

February 22nd, 2013 by Paul Joseph Watson

Every indication clearly suggests that authorities in the United States are preparing for widespread civil unrest. This trend has not emerged by accident – it is part of a tried and tested method used by the banking elite to seize control of nations, strip them of their assets, and absorb them into the new world order.

There is a crucial economic imperative as to why the elite is seeking to engineer and exploit social unrest.

As respected investigative reporter Greg Palast exposed in 2001, the global banking elite, namely the World Bank and the IMF, have honed a technique that has allowed them to asset-strip numerous other countries in the past – that technique has come to be known at the “IMF riot.”

In April 2001, Palast obtained leaked World Bank documents that outlined a four step process on how to loot nations of their wealth and infrastructure, placing control of resources into the hands of the banking elite.

One of the final steps of the process, the “IMF riot,” detailed how the elite would plan for mass civil unrest ahead of time that would have the effect of scaring off investors and causing government bankruptcies.

“This economic arson has its bright side – for foreigners, who can then pick off remaining assets at fire sale prices,” writes Palast, adding, “A pattern emerges. There are lots of losers but the clear winners seem to be the western banks and US Treasury.”

In other words, the banking elite creates the very economic environment – soaring interest rates, spiraling food prices, poverty, lower standards of living – that precipitates civil unrest – and then like a vulture swoops down to devour what remains of the country’s assets on the cheap.

We have already seen this process unfold in places like Bolivia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Greece and Argentina. Next on the chopping block are Spain, Italy, Britain and France – all of which have seen widespread riots over the last two years.

As Ha-Joon Chang explains in the Guardian, the roots of Europe’s riots were sparked by “governments inflicting an old-IMF-style programme on their own populations,” namely the same programs of “austerity, privatisation and deregulation,” that caused the riots of the 80′s and 90′s in poorer countries.

Although the likes of the IMF and the World Bank have pillaged half of the globe with their economic terrorism, America remains the ultimate prize. The first step of the four step process for bankster seizure of a country – privatization of state-owned assets – is already well under way in America, with infrastructure being sold off to foreign corporations, with the aid of Goldman Sachs, at a frightening pace.

A key component of the banking elite’s insidious agenda to bring about an economic collapse in America by design also centers around the process of de-industrializing the country, eviscerating the nation’s platform for self-sufficiency and replacing it with dependence on banker bailouts. This has already been largely achieved in Europe – with just about every major economy on the continent run by Goldman Sachs-affiliated technocrats.

In the United States, 32 per cent of manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000, while 56,000 manufacturing facilities have been mothballed since 2001. The Obama administration has also declared war on the coal industry, with Obama himself promising to “bankrupt” anyone who tries to build a new coal plant. Meanwhile, China builds a new coal plant every two weeks.

Given the clear economic motive for stirring unrest in the United States, we’d expect to see preparations for domestic disorder in numerous different guises – and indeed the signs are everywhere.

National Defense Authorization Act

The Obama administration’s passage of NDAA legislation that authorizes kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial of American citizens on U.S. soil serves to create the framework for mass arrests of protesters and journalists in a time of declared national emergency.

Obama’s War on Whistleblowers

The Obama administration’s brazen and aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers for divulging government corruption in the public interest is clearly a device designed to intimidate whistleblowers from speaking out when the proverbial hits the fan.

Spying on Social Media for Signs of Unrest

The Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies are actively engaged in spying on social media as well as news websites to look for reports or comments that “reflect adversely on the U.S. government and the DHS.” The government is on the lookout for the ‘tipping point’ when heated online rhetoric spills onto the streets in the form of unrest.

Building Huge Spy Centers to Track Unrest

The NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center in the middle of the Utah desert. The purpose of the data facility is to intercept, “all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”

By creating a gigantic database of every communication imaginable, the NSA hopes to monitor and pre-empt the spread of mass civil unrest in America.

Preparing Drones for Domestic Oppression

Last week, the Justice Department re-affirmed its position that the Obama administration can use armed drones to assassinate Americans. Under the NDAA, the whole of the United States has been declared a “battlefield,” meaning that drones may soon be used to execute American citizens on U.S. soil.

A government that resorts to killing its own citizens without any legal process whatsoever is clearly a dictatorship engaged in domestic oppression. The only imaginable scenario under which this program would be justifiable was if the U.S. was under a state of martial law and the government was on the verge of collapse.

Preparing for Martial Law

The Department of Homeland Security has purchased over 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition in the last 10 months alone. At the height of combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. Army only used 5.5 million bullets a month. Why has the DHS stockpiled enough bullets for a 30 year war if it is not preparing for some form of domestic disorder?

Preparation for martial law can be seen in numerous different guises, but perhaps the most chilling is a nationwide FEMA program which is training pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for the implementation of martial law, property and firearm seizures, mass vaccination programs and forced relocation.

Characterizing the American People as the New Target of the War on Terror

The U.S. Army’s Operating Concept 2016-2028 dictates that the military’s “full spectrum operations” will include “operations within American borders.” Scenarios where Americans form into militia groups and become “insurrectionists” as a result of an economic collapse and have to be eliminated by the U.S. Army have already been mapped out by military planners.

A leaked U.S. Army manual also reveals plans for the military to carry out “Civil Disturbance Operations” during which troops will be used domestically to quell riots, confiscate firearms and even kill Americans on U.S. soil during mass civil unrest.

The Department of Homeland Security’s ‘See Something, Say Something’ program habitually portrays middle class Americans as terrorists. In addition, numerous DHS-funded reports have characterized “liberty lovers” and other constitutionalists as domestic terrorists.

Every indication presents us with the inescapable reality that the US government is preparing for mass civil unrest at some point over the next five to ten years. When we look at the recent history of nations that have suffered financial collapse, domestic disorder is clearly a key component of a deliberate agenda on behalf of the banking elite to undermine and loot economies – confiscating national sovereignty in the process.

In Part 2, we’ll explore why the elite, although keen on provoking mass social unrest and even civil war, are destined to lose the battle.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News

Here’s a proposal for Social Security that was on the New York Times‘ op-ed page yesterday (2/20/13):

“The top third of beneficiaries (by lifetime income) [would] receive no annual cost-of-living adjustment in retirement. The middle third would get half of today’s adjustment, and the bottom third would receive the same annual increase they do now. Such a reform…would reduce Social Security spending by more than a tenth over a decade and fix the program’s long-term financing.”

This is part of Paul Ryan adviser Yuval Levin‘s attempt to find “common ground” on the entitlement issue: “Both sides should agree at least to spend less money on the wealthy.” So who are these “wealthy” people who would be getting a benefit cut equal to the rate of inflation every year? According to the  SSA, about 34 percent of people over 65 have family incomes of $50,000.

Now, you can argue about what “wealthy” is, but I think you would find pretty widespread agreement on what wealthy isn’t: $50,000 a year. If you sent the New York Times an op-ed outlining your plan to balance the budget by raising taxes on “wealthy” people who make 50k a year or more, it would be put in the same pile that gets the submissions about Elvis’s UFO diet. But when you’re talking about cutting entitlements, if you want to call those people “wealthy,” that’s perfectly reasonable.

But wait! Those aren’t the only people who are getting too much from the government and need to have their benefits cut–the middle third of the elderly are also “wealthy” and need their benefits cut–but by only half the rate of inflation per year. The ones making more than $50,000 must be the super-wealthy, the regular wealthy make…between $25,000 and $50,000, roughly.

For comparison purposes, the poverty line for a family of four is $23,350. Talk about a shrinking middle class!

This idea of “means testing” as a painless way to solve the supposed entitlement crisis is very popular among wealthy pundits. It’s not hard to understand why. One of the principles Levin suggests we should all be able to agree on is “give less to the wealthy rather than take more from them.”

OK, so let’s say you’re wealthy–not Levin’s pretend wealthy, but truly super-rich, in the top 0.01 percent of income.  Average income in this group is about $24 million a year. So you can easily afford to give up their whole Social Security paycheck. If you’ve paid in the maximum possible amount and retire at 66, that’s $2,513 a month–or $30,582 a year. You have sacrificed for your country.

But let’s say that instead of taking away your Social Security check, we tax your income–which comes entirely in the form of investment income, since you’re a wealthy retiree–at the rate for regular income rather than at the special lower fat-cat rate. So instead of paying (very roughly) $4.8 million in federal income tax, you’ll be paying about $9.5 million.

Now, you can surely afford to live on $14.5 million a year rather than $19.2 million–just as you can afford to give up your Social Security check. Somehow, though, making the latter sacrifice is probably going to seem more appealing.

And the thing is, there aren’t that many really wealthy people who won’t miss their Social Security checks–so in order to save any appreciable amount of money, you have to take a substantial chunk away from people who actually aren’t very wealthy at all. That’s a principle we can all agree on. All of us making $24 million a year, anyway.

How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women

February 22nd, 2013 by Lindsey German

Why did the anti-war movement become such a vehicle for women’s political action, and what does that tell us about the position of women today?

This is the introduction to Lindsey German’s new book, How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women. Lindsey is convenor of Stop the War Coalition. Her previous books include A People’s History of London (2012) and Material Girls (2007).

The Stop the War movement, which began over a decade ago in response to the War on Terror, has become the biggest mass movement in British political history. One of its most remarkable features has been the involvement of women of all ages, races and backgrounds who have been at its centre.

Why did this movement become such a vehicle for women’s political action, and what does that tell us about the position of women today? To answer these questions we must look not just at the past few years, but at the changes that have taken place over the past century.

Women’s liberation and war have often been intertwined in modern history, with the atrocities of war making a dramatic impact on women’s role. The history of the two world wars is full of stories of women who broke through stereotypes, worked in unfamiliar jobs, acted with great courage, became feminists, rejected relationships with men and took up arms.

Successive wars have shown not just women involved in wars − although in this era of total war it is impossible to ignore the direct involvement of civilians in war and the effect on them − but women taking an increasing part in opposing them.

It is almost 100 years since the world descended into the horror of the first of two world wars. It began in sunshine and patriotic fervour, endured four years of mud, misery, injury and carnage on an unprecedented scale, and ended in revolutions and social upheaval. The First World War was a watershed: it deposed kings and emperors, ushered in universal suffrage and workers’ revolution, and changed people’s attitude to war forever.

Governments of the wealthiest countries have never again been able to preside over such carnage and the death of some ten million young men across Europe and further afield. But if the war changed the lives of young men and their families, it also had a profound effect on women.

By the end of the war they had experienced working in jobs previously reserved for men and been paid wages higher than they were able to earn in domestic service, the biggest single employer of women before 1914.

Although they were denied access to some of these jobs when the war ended, they continued to work in greater numbers and in some of the new fields of work that were opening up. They had the vote, or at least some of them did (full female suffrage would have to wait another decade). They started wearing much more comfortable and unrestricted styles of dress. And while marriage and motherhood were still considered women’s main roles, the number of children that women had began to decline quite sharply.

The life-changing impact of the Second World War, just a generation later, was even more dramatic. Women worked in essential industries, joined the armed forces and many jettisoned ideas about chastity and taboos on sex before marriage with great enthusiasm. Again, while they were encouraged to return to the home, marriage and family after 1945, women embarked on careers and education which challenged the traditional stereotypes.

Modern industrialised warfare is fundamentally different. We now have wars of total attrition. Industrial mass production creates and sustains vast armies and unprecedented firepower, and results in unparalleled killing and destruction. It is qualitatively different from previous eras. At Waterloo (1815) Britain had 156 guns; at the Somme (1916) the British army had 1,400 guns, and fired nearly two million shells in just a few days. The Prussian army at Waterloo had 60,000 men; by 1914 the German army had 1.5 million men on the Western Front alone. One outcome of modern firepower was often stalemate and wars of attrition. Industrial output was decisive, mobilising not just soldiers but workers in war industries too. Women were crucial on the home front.

This book is an attempt to understand the relationship between women and war in Britain in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Unlike most of Europe during the Second World War, Britain escaped Nazi occupation, but it was nonetheless subject to heavy bombardment and high levels of government intervention, as well as conscription to create a war economy.

The Second World War shaped the lives of my generation, born in the postwar era of optimism, when people expected improvements in health, education and housing provision as a reward for the terrible years of war, death and dislocation our parents and grandparents had endured. The second half of the twentieth century offered more opportunities for women than at any time in history, and the basis for many of those opportunities was created in the first half of a century which witnessed not only two world wars, but also the worst economic crisis to date.

War has a terrible impact on all people, but increasingly on women as victims of injury, rape, displacement and death. But in Britain and a number of other countries it has also promoted women’s emancipation by breaking down oppressive social structures. Many of the great social changes from which my generation benefited had their genesis in war; others were already in gestation but were advanced by the two world wars.

This was true of the vote for women, equal pay, first raised by trade unionists in the munitions industry and in public transport during the First World War but not granted even in a weakened form until the 1970s, more accessible divorce, education at higher levels, employment in ‘men’s’ jobs, and a falling birth rate.

Although I was born six years after the Second World War ended, the fact of the war was a major feature in my life. ‘The war’ was a constant reference point. My father, and the fathers of most of my friends, had been in the armed forces. The only time they had been abroad was as a result of the war: to Sicily, Burma, North Africa, Greece. One uncle lost a leg at Nijmegen, Holland in 1944. Another, a merchant seaman, was in the river police during the Blitz, then transported troops across the Channel on D-day. London was peppered with bomb sites. My primary school still had its air raid shelters, now stuffed with old desks and equipment.

However, it struck me from a young age that there was another side to the war and one that I understood especially from my mother. This was in stark contrast to the image of war projected from most sources. It was about going out to work and having enough money to go to the Streatham Locarno, the London Palladium and especially the Hammersmith Palais with Canadian and American soldiers and airmen, with money in their pockets and only a brief time to enjoy.

This lifestyle was not enjoyed by all women, but my mother was a teenager when war broke out and had no family responsibilities or children. However, her experience was typical of many young women and shows how the war gave them opportunities they would have thought impossible only a few years earlier. Most importantly, they paved the way for future generations to seize opportunities which they were only beginning to define and articulate.

This was in unoccupied Britain. Just a short distance across the Channel, women’s lives were much more dangerous and repressive. Women in the occupied countries and under the Axis powers faced rape, torture, imprisonment, death on a daily basis. Nevertheless many of them fought bravely in the resistance movements. Even in Britain, death and danger were ever-present, and many, including my mother, lost loved ones. The contradictions expressed in these lives are what this book is about.

The modern form of warfare which sucks civilian lives into its core is a product of an economic system based on industrial competition. Even in the age of globalisation these corporations are tied to nation states or alliances of nation states. Their fates are interlinked. They form part of an international matrix of competition which, periodically, descends into armed conflict. War is a means of safeguarding and extending their markets and geopolitical reach. In this way competition between, say, Ford and Volkswagen or Exxon and Gazprom can become the root of conflicts resolved on the fields of battle − a process that involves destruction and waste on a vast scale.

The beneficiaries of war are not the poor and working class, who fight, work, suffer and die, but those who control the system. Their property, their profits, are at stake. But if they succeed in vanquishing their competitors, they can enjoy the prospect of even greater profits and more lucrative markets. Theirs is an exploitative system, which relies on one class controlling the wealth another class produces. Women are not separate from this process but are themselves part of the class society, and how they respond tends to reflect their position in society.

War is one of the most terrifying aspects of modern capitalism, an all-pervasive war economy which threatens to catapult us back to barbarism. It is also a major force for change: it forces apart old ways of working and living in such a way that women and men are drawn along in its wake, obliged to take on new roles, confront challenges and dangers, revise their ideas and, if fortunate, come out at the other end in one piece.

However, progress for some comes at the cost of the mass annihilation of others. There is no greater mark of a barbarous and dehumanised social system than one that destroys lives, creates wastelands and leaves devastation on such a scale that most people conclude a different system has to be created. It took tens of millions of deaths, the Holocaust, the rise and fall of fascism and nuclear terror before people were ready to try to build a society based on more equal and just principles.

War has also created an odd dialectic for women: their lives have been changed by processes wrought by wars. This has helped them to develop a much deeper understanding of war and a strong commitment, now seen in many women across several generations, to campaign against it. So the consequence of total war has been to build opposition to it and to make women more politically aware and active.

The wars of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have played a pivotal role in British politics. Britain’s history as an imperial power, its continued interventions in the affairs of other countries (albeit since 1945 as a junior partner of the United States) and its warmongering under successive governments have all helped to create an opposition to war which is one of the touchstones of left-wing politics. Time and again, questions of war have been major political issues: in 1914; in 1938 with appeasement; in 1956 with Suez, the Cold War and nuclear weapons; and in recent years, especially 2002−3, the Middle East. War and domestic politics are interlaced.

In Britain my contemporaries and the men and women of later generations have less direct experience of war, but even so, war has become a permanent fact of life for us. The ‘balance of terror’, which until recently existed between the United States and Soviet Union, was sometimes justified as the means to ensure that a third world war could never happen. But many who had lived through the First and Second World Wars knew that wasn’t necessarily true, that deadly weapons could lead to war even if the consequences seemed too horrific to contemplate. The Cold War always contained within it the threat of a major ‘hot war’.

So, relatively soon after the Second World War a new opposition to the threat of war and nuclear weapons emerged internationally, as the implications of armed peace became clear. No one with any awareness could ignore the sometimes very real threat of nuclear annihilation, and this helped lead to the movement against nuclear weapons. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 was, it was feared, likely to lead to another war less than 20 years after bombs and rockets had devastated London and other major British cities.

Opposition to war has grown since then. This has been specially marked among women. The movement against the Vietnam war took place in a period of social change: women were moving into new jobs, entering higher education, discovering a freer sexuality and engaging in political action. It propelled women’s concerns to centre stage, exposing an American Left that was simply incapable of relating to these problems.

If women’s political issues took centre stage, they did so at least partly in relation to war; those of us who found the Vietnam war to be overwhelmingly a politicising issue had opposition to war engraved in our DNA. Those who created the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s consciously linked their struggle against oppression with the national liberation movements which were so effective in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in some of the former colonies of the Western empires.

The changes in women’s lives from the 1960s onwards led to women asserting their right to equality and organisation. One of the main concerns of many has been peace. The peace movement was revived in the early 1980s, this time in opposition to the siting of cruise missiles in Europe. In Britain a major expression of this movement was the Greenham Common peace camp organised by women as a feminist response to militarism, though I felt it was too narrow and too focused on feminism to fulfil its potential. It did however mobilise and galvanise very large numbers of people.

It was only a few years before the ‘balance of terror’ was overturned by the collapse of one side, leaving a much more unstable situation in which new wars became increasingly frequent and dangerous. Since 1989 there has been a rapid succession of wars involving the United States, Britain and other Western powers. The First Gulf War, the Balkans wars (which brought about the breakup of Yugoslavia) and then the War on Terror all indicated how the United States planned to deal with its declining economic power in the twenty-first century.

All were increasingly described not as wars of aggression − which would have been both illegal and politically unacceptable − but as wars of humanitarian intervention. One justification, especially for the War on Terror, became the need to rescue women from subjugation and oppression. Despite the urgency with which this case was pressed by First Ladies and Secretaries of State, the response from many women was to argue that this liberation was not being carried out in their name.

I was strongly opposed to the Vietnam war and to all the wars that followed. But it was from 11 September 2001 that I played a key organising role in building the movement, helping to form the Stop the War Coalition and being elected as its convenor. The high level of involvement and activism in the movement was obvious, with women of all ages, all nationalities and religions, and very widely differing class backgrounds. The legacy of opposition continues and will no doubt give rise to new movements in the future.

It has been remarkable to see how many women have been involved at every level, often with a sense of purpose not found in other spheres of politics, and I have been increasingly intrigued about how this should happen and what political significance it might have. The answer in part seems to do with the cumulative effect of war on women’s lives and consciousness. The twentieth century experienced total war, with civilians increasingly the majority of victims and women expected to play an active part in waging war.

War has infiltrated the home, work and social life in a way that would have been impossible throughout most of history. Women have played a role as combatants, as war workers, defence workers and health workers. They have been direct victims of war. They have also suffered bereavements. The social changes resulting from these developments in turn fed involvement in, and often opposition to, war.

I want to explain the hows and whys of women’s role in warfare, and why so many women in the twenty-first century now oppose war. Wars have been motors of change for women, altering the family and women’s role within it, transforming the sorts of work that women do and their ideas about themselves. The collective and individual decisions and actions of millions of women and men are how history is made.

This book is about some of their decisions, their implications and consequences and
– most importantly − how they can be used to shape the future.

I have interviewed women from different generations about the impact of war on their lives. They have varying backgrounds, beliefs and experiences which I have found extremely valuable in illuminating their motivations, decisions and the impact of war on their thinking. I hope that their views, however subjective, have helped to develop insights about wider changes. The Stop the War Coalition, which began in 2001, is looked at through the eyes of some of its participants. They cover a range of ages and backgrounds, and all are people who have experienced war or have some experience of opposing it.

I look at the questions which have arisen out of the War on Terror: the role of ‘humanitarian intervention’ in modern wars and the way in which arguments about women’s equality are used to justify wars. The attitudes to, and of, Muslim women are also considered. Finally, I use women’s experiences to understand how war has changed women and their ideas, and what the prospects are for peace and women’s liberation in the future.

The experiences are, needless to say, individual. They do not claim to represent all women in the movement or indeed the totality of the movement. There are many organisations and groups within what can be broadly called the peace movement or anti-war movement. These include religious groups, such as the Quakers, who have played a continuing and honourable role in the movement, and groups such as Women in Black which organises internationally for peace.

The various groups often focus on specific issues or take different approaches to organising. The book is not a history of women’s peace organisation or of peace and anti-war campaigning generally. What it does do is raise two major issues − women’s liberation and war − and make connections which I think are relevant and I hope will be useful to those fighting in order to change the world.

The wars that we have witnessed in recent years are not an aberration, but the result of a competitive and crisis-ridden system. Future wars are likely to be about resources, commodities and food and water shortages. They will be about the major powers fighting for market share and strategic control. We will need mass movements to oppose these wars, which endanger the future of humanity.

In Britain, governments are demanding austerity and sacrifice from working people while inequality grows and the spending of billions of pounds on waging war every year continues. As the postwar welfare state sees its greatest threat yet from the same people who support wars and the obscenely high levels of military spending which accompany them, a new generation of women activists are coming onto the field of battle. They have already made clear that they are unwilling to countenance war and militarism, and in the course of opposing those dangers, they are asserting their liberation.

Click here for more information on the book “How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women

Israel is heading towards a profound internal crisis: a Jew-on-Jew confrontation, which has major implications for its relations with the Palestinians, as well as its Arab neighbors.  The conflict is between the highly militarized Zionist state and the Haredi religious movement over a number of issues, including recent proposals by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to end the religious exemption of Haradi youth from serving in Israel ’s colonial armed forces.

Haredim and the Zionist Colonial State

Even before the forcible imposition (‘founding’) of the state of Israel , the Haredim were opposed to Zionism.  Today the vast majority of Haredim in Israel remain staunchly opposed to the Zionist state for religious, ethical and political reasons.  Haredi religious teaching claims that the Jewish people are bound by three oaths: (1) not to settle in Israel by using force or violence, (2) not to make war with other nations and (3) not to act as if the other nations of the world would persecute Israel .

Haredim opposed Israel ’s violent ethnic cleaning of over 850,000 Palestinians in the course of establishing the Israeli State and continues to oppose Israeli settlers’ violently land grabs against Palestinians.  Unlike other so-called ‘ultra-Orthodox’ sects, who support Zionist colonialism and bless the Israeli military, the Haredim maintain that militarism corrupts the spirit and that Zionists have transformed Jews from righteous followers of the Torah into rabid ethnocentric supporters of a militarist state.  For the Haredim, ‘state worship’, especially the waving of the Israeli flag in the temple, is a sacrilege comparable to the renegade Jews condemned by Moses for worshipping the Golden Calf.

The majority of Haredim boycott elections, organize their own schools (Yeshivas), encourage students to deepen their religious studies, emphasize community and family values (of a profoundly patriarchal sort) with numerous children and strongly reject the Zionist state’s efforts to conscript Haredi youth into their colonial occupation army, the so-called Israeli Defense (sic) Force (IDF).  All major Zionist political parties and the ruling colonial regime unite to demonize the Haredim, claiming they are shirking their patriotic military responsibilities. Via the mass media and public pronouncements Zionist politicians and the state incite Israeli hatred against the Haredim:  A study in 2006 claimed that over a third of Israeli Jews identified the Haredim as the most unpopular group in Israel .

The Haredim, on the other hand, have reason to fear and loath the secular militarist Zionist state and politicians:  They claim that after World War II in the Zionist-controlled relocation camps for refugee Jewish children in Teheran, the Jewish Agency imposed Zionist ideology and militarist anti-religious policies in order to cut Haredim children off from their spiritual roots.  According to one Haredim report many religious Jewish youth from Poland , mostly survivors of the Holocaust and Soviet Russia, were subjected to “unimaginable mental and physical cruelty with one goal in mind: (the) obliteration of Judaism”.  Given the Israeli drive today to harness a corrupted form of Judaism to serve colonial militarism, the Haredim have every reason to believe that the conscription of their sons and daughters will be accompanied by cruel, systematic Zionist brainwashing to ensure they make efficient (brutal) occupation soldiers.

Haredim versus Israeli State Values

The Haredim fervently believe in and practice the Biblical teaching: “Be fruitful and multiply”. They have large families and the median age among the Haredim is 16 years.  Their peaceful message to the militarist Zionists could be summed up as: “Make babies, not bombs”.

Some Haredim leaders have met with Palestinian and Iranian officials and, in line with their religious doctrine, have declared their support for peaceful resolution of conflicts and denounced Israel ’s aggressive military posture.

Haredim are intensely religious and dedicate their time to discuss and debate the readings of their great religious scholars:  Their message to the Zionists is to read Maimonides’ ethical treatises rather than listen to Netanyahu’s bellicose, blood curdling rants.

Haredim live and study largely within the confines of their close communities.  They insist on sending their sons to the yeshivas to study religious doctrine rather than to the West Bank to kill Palestinians. They call on their children to serve G-d – not the IDF.  They seek truth in the Torah – not in conquest via the Preventive War Doctrines espoused by prestigious Israeli and overseas Zionist academic militarists.

Haredim focus on building a better life within their community; they reject the efforts of the Zionist state to entice them into joining the violent self-styled ‘Jewish’ settlers engaged in brutal land grabs in the West Bank , in the name of “contributing to society (sic)”.  The ‘introverted Haredi way of life’ is seen as a righteous alternative to the crass militarism, money laundering, financial speculation, human body part trafficking and real estate swindles rife among the elite Israelis and among sectors of overseas Zionists engaged in procuring multi- billion dollar tribute from the US Treasury.

Haredim believe, with exemplary evidence, that conscripting their youth into the Israeli colonial army would destroy their moral values, as their sons would be forced to grope and search Arab women at checkpoints, break the legs of stone-throwing Palestinian children, defend lawless self-styled ‘Jewish’  settlers as they paint obscene graffiti in mosques and churches and attack Arab children on their way to school … not to speak of the ill effects of what secular Israeli Jews call a “modern education”, full of historical fabrications about the origins of Israel, scientific readings on high tech war-making and “advanced” economic doctrines proclaiming the sacred role of the free market, and  justifying the 60% poverty rate among Haredim as “self-induced”.

The Haredim demand that the Israeli Jewish elite stop trying to conscript their youth into the IDF and stop the job discrimination, which has trippled the unemployment rate among Haredim.

The Coming ‘Civil War’:  Zionist State versus the Haredim

The elected leader, Yair Lapid, of newly formed Yesh Atid Party, dubbed a “centrist” by the New York Times,  and a ‘moderate’ by the leading ideologues of the US Zionist “lobby”, ran on a platform of forcibly ending the Haredi exemption from conscription into the colonial military service.  Yair Lapid, in the run-up to joining a new Netanyahu coalition regime, has launched a vicious attack on the Haredim. Lapid premises his agreement to joining Netanyahu’s war machine on his plans to forcibly confront the Haredi leadership.  Yair Lapid taps the class and secular resentments of Israel’s upwardly mobile youth who bitterly complain of having to serve in the army, thus delaying their money-making opportunities, while the poor, semi-literate “blacks” (a derogatory term referring to the clothing of Haredim) engage in “worthless studies” of the Torah.  Lapid, using the same perverted logic as Netanyahu, claims that “Ten percent of the population cannot threaten 90 percent with civil war”, (Financial Times, 2/14/13, p. 6.).

Once again, the executioner (Lapid) accuses the victim (Haredim) of the violence he is about to commit.  Lapid’s Yesh Atid, the centrist (sic) party, has allied with Naftali Bennett’s neo-fascist ‘Jewish Home Party’ (pushing for the annexation of all of Palestine and expulsion of non-Jews) in smashing Haredi exemption to military conscription.  They hold veto power over the next cabinet.  This rabidly secular militarist assault has provoked great opposition and united the otherwise Zionist-religious parties:  The Shas Party (Sephardic Haredim) and United Torah Judaism have taken up the defense of the Haredim.

Lines are being drawn far beyond a Haredim-Zionist State confrontation.

The Larger Meaning of the Haredim-Zionist Conflict

The Haredim hostility to the secular Zionist state is in part based on its opposition to military conscription, thus calling into question Israeli militarism, in general, and specifically its policy of colonial occupation and regional aggression.  While some Haredim may oppose conscription for religious reasons and seek exemption solely for its own youth, objectively, the effect is to undermine Israel ’s violation of Palestinian rights and to call into question the entire apartheid system.  By speaking to spiritual values, they deny the legitimacy of the idea of a Jewish police state based on force, violence, torture and disappearance of political prisoners.  Their questioning of the institutional configuration upholding Jewish supremacy and Israel as the homeland of the Chosen People, they strike a powerful blow at the ideological underpinnings of the overseas activity of the Zionist power configuration.  Their animosity to the fusion of Jewish chauvinism and religious rituals and the tribal deification of the Israeli state is counterposed to their embrace of Moses Ten Commandments.

The Haredim study the teaching of the profound Judaic philosopher Maimonides and abhor Zionist militaristic strategists like Walzer, Dershowitz, Kagan, Feith, Netanyahu, etc. who preach colonial “just war” doctrines.  Representing 10% of the Israeli population and a far greater percentage of military age youth, the Haredim are in a position to sharply limit the scope of future Zionist wars. If they succeed in blocking conscription, they would provide a lasting contribution to making the world in general, and the Middle East in particular, a more secure and peaceful place to live.

Facing the prospect of a loss of future cannon fodder to sustain its colonial ventures, and in their frenzied attacks on the Haredim, the Israeli-Zionist elite have incited the majority of Israeli Jews to demonize them as ‘backward’, illiterate, freeloaders and to blame the religious curriculum for their growing and current 60% rate of poverty and high unemployment.  Israel ’s war machine needs fresh recruits to maintain its imperial quest for a Greater Israel.

Demographics – with families exceeding five children –indicate the Haredim are likely to double their percentage of the Israeli population over the next two decades.  Faced with the ‘facts on the ground and in the cradle’, the colonial expansionist imperative drives all the leading Zionist parties to end Haredi exemptions.  In response Haredi leaders threaten to engage in massive civil disobedience if the Zionists impose conscription, rightly seeing conscription of its youth as an assault on its most profoundly held spiritual and family values and as an opening wedge in destroying traditional community solidarity and reciprocal relations.

The Haredim share a common plight with Israel ’s Arab population:  Both communities face increasing police harassment, discrimination, religious persecution and rising levels of poverty.  A Haredim-Arab alliance would unite 30% of the population against a common secular militarist and plutocratic enemy.  Farfetched as it seems on the subjective level, there are objective historical and structural processes which are driving the two groups together.

It is one of the great ironies of history that the world’s modern secular anti-imperialist movements should find their most consequential allies among Israel ’s most traditional and deeply religious movement.

How Reagan Promoted Genocide

February 21st, 2013 by Robert Parry

Special Report: A newly discovered document reveals that President Reagan and his national security team in 1981 approved Guatemala’s extermination of both leftist guerrillas and their “civilian support mechanisms,” a green light that opened a path to genocide against hundreds of Mayan villages.

Soon after taking office in 1981, President Ronald Reagan’s national security team agreed to supply military aid to the brutal right-wing regime in Guatemala to pursue the goal of exterminating not only “Marxist guerrillas” but their “civilian support mechanisms,” according to a newly disclosed document from the National Archives.

Over the next several years, the military assistance from the Reagan administration assisted the Guatemalan army in doing just that, engaging in the slaughter of some 100,000 people, including what a truth commission deemed genocide against the Mayan Indians in the northern highlands.

The recently discovered documents at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, also reveal that Reagan’s White House was reaching out to Israel in a scheme to circumvent congressional restrictions on military equipment for the Guatemalan military.

In 1983, national security aide Oliver North (who later became a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal) reported in a memo that Reagan’s Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane (another key Iran-Contra figure) was approaching Israel over how to deliver 10 UH-1H helicopters to Guatemala to give the army greater mobility in its counterinsurgency war.

According to these documents that I found at the Reagan library – and other records declassified in the late 1990s – it’s also clear that Reagan and his administration were well aware of the butchery underway in Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America.

The relaxed attitude toward the Guatemalan regime’s brutality took shape in spring 1981 as Reagan’s State Department “advised our Central American embassies that it has been studying ways to restore a closer, cooperative relationship with Guatemala,” according to a White House “Situation Room Checklist” dated April 8, 1981.

The document added: “State believes a number of changes have occurred which could make Guatemalan leaders more receptive to a new U.S. initiative: the Guatemalans view the new administration as more sympathetic to their problems [and] they are less suspect of the U.S. role in El Salvador,” where the Reagan administration was expanding support for another right-wing regime infamous for slaughtering its political opponents, including Catholic clergy.

“State has concluded that any attempt to reestablish a dialogue would require some initial, condition-free demonstration of our goodwill. However, this could not include military sales which would provoke serious U.S. public and congressional criticism. State will undertake a series of confidence building measures, free of preconditions, which minimize potential conflict with existing legislation,” which then barred military assistance to Guatemala because of its long record of human rights crimes.

The “checklist” added that the State Department “has also decided that the administration should engage the Guatemalan government at the highest level in a dialogue on our bilateral relations and the initiatives we can take together to improve them. Secretary [of State Alexander] Haig has designated [retired] General Vernon Walters as his personal emissary to initiate this process with President [Fernando Romeo] Lucas [Garcia].

“If Lucas is prepared to give assurances that he will take steps to halt government involvement in the indiscriminate killing of political opponents and to foster a climate conducive to a viable electoral process, the U.S. will be prepared to approve some military sales immediately.”

But the operative word in that paragraph was “indiscriminate.” The Reagan administration expressed no problem with killing civilians if they were considered supporters of the guerrillas who had been fighting against the country’s ruling oligarchs and generals since the 1950s when the CIA organized the overthrow of Guatemala’s reformist President Jacobo Arbenz.

Vernon Walters, a former deputy director of the CIA who served as President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador-at-large in the early 1980s.

Sparing the ‘Non Politicized’

The distinction was spelled out in “Talking Points” for Walters to deliver in a face-to-face meeting with General Lucas and his senior advisers. As edited inside the White House in April 1981, the “Talking Points” read: “The President and Secretary Haig have designated me as [their] personal emissary to discuss bilateral relations on an urgent basis.

“Both the President and the Secretary recognize that your country is engaged in a war with Marxist guerrillas. We are deeply concerned about externally supported Marxist subversion in Guatemala and other countries in the region. As you are aware, we have already taken steps to assist Honduras and El Salvador resist this aggression.

“The Secretary has sent me here to see if we can work out a way to provide material assistance to your government. … We have minimized negative public statements by US officials on the situation in Guatemala. … We have arranged for the Commerce Department to take steps that will permit the sale of $3 million worth of military trucks and Jeeps to the Guatemalan army. …

“With your concurrence, we propose to provide you and any officers you might designate an intelligence briefing on regional developments from our perspective. Our desire, however, is to go substantially beyond the steps I have just outlined. We wish to reestablish our traditional military supply and training relationship as soon as possible.

“As we are both aware, this has not yet been feasible because of our internal political and legal constraints relating to the use by some elements of your security forces of deliberate and indiscriminate killing of persons not involved with the guerrilla forces or their civilian support mechanisms. I am not referring here to the regrettable but inevitable death of innocents though error in combat situations, but to what appears to us a calculated use of terror to immobilize non politicized people or potential opponents. …

“If you could give me your assurance that you will take steps to halt official involvement in the killing of persons not involved with the guerrilla forces or their civilian support mechanism … we would be in a much stronger position to defend successfully with the Congress a decision to begin to resume our military supply relationship with your government.”

In other words, though the “talking points” were framed as an appeal to reduce the “indiscriminate” slaughter of “non politicized people,” they amounted to an acceptance of scorched-earth tactics against people involved with the guerrillas and “their civilian support mechanism.” The way that played out in Guatemala – as in nearby El Salvador – was the massacring of peasants in regions considered sympathetic to leftist insurgents.

Cables on Killings

As reflected in the “Talking Points” and as confirmed by other U.S. government documents from that time period, the Reagan administration was well aware that the Guatemalan military was engaged in mass killings of Guatemalan civilians.

According to one “secret” cable also from April 1981 — and declassified in the 1990s — the CIA was confirming Guatemalan government massacres even as Reagan was moving to loosen the military aid ban. On April 17, 1981, a CIA cable described an army massacre at Cocob, near Nebaj in the Ixil Indian territory, because the population was believed to support leftist guerrillas.

A CIA source reported that “the social population appeared to fully support the guerrillas” and “the soldiers were forced to fire at anything that moved.” The CIA cable added that “the Guatemalan authorities admitted that ‘many civilians’ were killed in Cocob, many of whom undoubtedly were non-combatants.” [Many of the Guatemalan documents declassified in the 1990s can be found at the National Security Archive’s Web site.]

In May 1981, despite these ongoing atrocities, Reagan dispatched Walters to tell the Guatemalan leaders that the new U.S. administration wanted to lift the human rights embargoes on military equipment that former President Jimmy Carter and Congress had imposed.

In essence, Walters was giving a green light to Guatemala to continue the practice of slaughtering guerrillas and their civilian supporters, a counterinsurgency strategy that was practiced during some of the darkest days of the Vietnam War in such infamous incidents as the My Lai massacre.

The “Talking Points” also put the Reagan administration in line with the fiercely anti-communist regimes elsewhere in Latin America, where right-wing “death squads” operated with impunity liquidating not only armed guerrillas but civilians who were judged sympathetic to left-wing causes like demanding greater economic equality and social justice.

In the 1970s, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and other South American countries even banded together in a cross-border assassination program that hunted down leftist and other political opponents around the world, including inside the United States.

Called “Operation Condor,” the wave of assassinations reached Washington D.C. on Sept. 21, 1976, when Chilean intelligence assets exploded a car bomb killing former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and American co-worker Ronni Moffitt as they drove down Massachusetts Avenue through an area known as Embassy Row.

The original cover story for the assassination plot had been a meeting at the CIA with Vernon Walters, who was then deputy CIA director under CIA Director George H.W. Bush. Walters also had served as U.S. military attaché to Brazil at the time of a right-wing military coup in 1964.

Reagan again turned to Walters in 1981 to serve as the President’s ambassador-at-large. One of his key roles was coordinating with right-wing governments across Latin America in their escalating wars against leftist insurgencies.

Right-Wing Butchery

Despite his aw shucks style, Reagan found virtually every anticommunist action justified, no matter how brutal. From his eight years in the White House, there is no historical indication that he was morally troubled by the bloodbath and even genocide that occurred in Central America while he was shipping hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the implicated forces.

The death toll was staggering — an estimated 70,000 or more political killings in El Salvador, possibly 20,000 slain from the Contra war in Nicaragua, about 200 political “disappearances” in Honduras and some 100,000 people eliminated during a resurgence of political violence in Guatemala. The one consistent element in these slaughters was the overarching Cold War rationalization, emanating in large part from Ronald Reagan’s White House.

Despite their frequent claims to the contrary, the evidence is now overwhelming that Reagan and his advisers had a clear understanding of the extraordinary brutality going on in Guatemala and elsewhere, based on their own internal documents. As they prepared to ship military equipment to Guatemala, White House officials knew that the Guatemalan military was engaged in massacres of the Mayans and other perceived enemies.

According to a State Department cable on Oct. 5, 1981, when Guatemalan leaders met again with Walters, they left no doubt about their plans. The cable said Gen. Lucas “made clear that his government will continue as before — that the repression will continue. He reiterated his belief that the repression is working and that the guerrilla threat will be successfully routed.”

Human rights groups saw the same picture. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission released a report on Oct. 15, 1981, blaming the Guatemalan government for “thousands of illegal executions.” [Washington Post, Oct. 16, 1981]

But the Reagan administration was set on whitewashing the ugly scene. A State Department “white paper,” released in December 1981, blamed the violence on leftist “extremist groups” and their “terrorist methods” prompted and supported by Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

What the documents from the Reagan library now make clear is that the administration was not simply struggling ineffectively to rein in these massacres – as the U.S. press corps typically reported – but was fully onboard with the slaughter of people who were part of the guerrillas’ “civilian support mechanisms.”

More Massacres

U.S. intelligence agencies continued to pick up evidence of these government-sponsored massacres. One CIA report in February 1982 described an army sweep through the so-called Ixil Triangle in central El Quiche province.

“The commanding officers of the units involved have been instructed to destroy all towns and villages which are cooperating with the Guerrilla Army of the Poor [the EGP] and eliminate all sources of resistance,” the report said. “Since the operation began, several villages have been burned to the ground, and a large number of guerrillas and collaborators have been killed.”

The CIA report explained the army’s modus operandi: “When an army patrol meets resistance and takes fire from a town or village, it is assumed that the entire town is hostile and it is subsequently destroyed.” When the army encountered an empty village, it was “assumed to have been supporting the EGP, and it is destroyed. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of refugees in the hills with no homes to return to. …

“The army high command is highly pleased with the initial results of the sweep operation, and believes that it will be successful in destroying the major EGP support area and will be able to drive the EGP out of the Ixil Triangle. … The well documented belief by the army that the entire Ixil Indian population is pro-EGP has created a situation in which the army can be expected to give no quarter to combatants and non-combatants alike.”

On Feb. 2, 1982, Richard Childress, another of Reagan’s national security aides, wrote a “secret” memo to his colleagues summing up this reality on the ground:

“As we move ahead on our approach to Latin America, we need to consciously address the unique problems posed by Guatemala. Possessed of some of the worst human rights records in the region, … it presents a policy dilemma for us. The abysmal human rights record makes it, in its present form, unworthy of USG [U.S. government] support. …

“Beset by a continuous insurgency for at least 15 years, the current leadership is completely committed to a ruthless and unyielding program of suppression. Hardly a soldier could be found that has not killed a ‘guerrilla.’”

The Rise of Rios Montt

However, Reagan remained committed to supplying military hardware to Guatemala’s brutal regime. So, the administration welcomed Gen. Efrain Rios Montt’s March 1982 overthrow of the thoroughly bloodstained Gen. Lucas.

An avowed fundamentalist Christian, Rios Montt impressed Official Washington where the Reagan administration immediately revved up its propaganda machinery to hype the new dictator’s “born-again” status as proof of his deep respect for human life. Reagan hailed Rios Montt as “a man of great personal integrity.”

By July 1982, however, Rios Montt had begun a new scorched-earth campaign called his “rifles and beans” policy. The slogan meant that pacified Indians would get “beans,” while all others could expect to be the target of army “rifles.” In October, Rios Montt secretly gave carte blanche to the feared “Archivos” intelligence unit to expand “death squad” operations. Based at the Presidential Palace, the “Archivos” masterminded many of Guatemala’s most notorious assassinations.

The U.S. embassy was soon hearing more accounts of the army conducting Indian massacres. On Oct, 21, 1982, one cable described how three embassy officers tried to check out some of these reports but ran into bad weather and canceled the inspection. Still, the cable put the best possible spin on the situation. Though unable to check out the massacre reports, the embassy officials did “reach the conclusion that the army is completely up front about allowing us to check alleged massacre sites and to speak with whomever we wish.”

The next day, the embassy fired off its analysis that the Guatemalan government was the victim of a communist-inspired “disinformation campaign.” Dated Oct. 22, 1982, the analysis concluded “that a concerted disinformation campaign is being waged in the U.S. against the Guatemalan government by groups supporting the communist insurgency in Guatemala.”

The Reagan administration’s report claimed that “conscientious human rights and church organizations,” including Amnesty International, had been duped by the communists and “may not fully appreciate that they are being utilized. … The campaign’s object is simple: to deny the Guatemalan army the weapons and equipment needed from the U.S. to defeat the guerrillas. …

“If those promoting such disinformation can convince the Congress, through the usual opinion-makers — the media, church and human rights groups — that the present GOG [government of Guatemala] is guilty of gross human rights violations they know that the Congress will refuse Guatemala the military assistance it needs. Those backing the communist insurgency are betting on an application, or rather misapplication, of human rights policy so as to damage the GOG and assist themselves.”

Hailing the Dictator

Reagan personally joined this P.R. campaign seeking to discredit human rights investigators and others who were reporting accurately on human rights crimes that the administration knew, all to well, were true. On Dec. 4, 1982, after meeting with Rios Montt, Reagan hailed the general as “totally dedicated to democracy” and added that Rios Montt’s government had been “getting a bum rap” on human rights. Reagan discounted the mounting reports of hundreds of Maya villages being eradicated.

On Jan. 6, 1983, Rios Montt was informed that the United States would resume military sales to Guatemala. The dictator expressed his thanks, according to a cable from the U.S. Embassy, “saying that he had been convinced that the USG had never abandoned Guatemala. He commented that the guerrillas in country and its propaganda machine abroad would now launch concerted attacks on both governments.”

On Jan. 7, 1983, Reagan formally lifted the ban on military aid to Guatemala and authorized the sale of $6 million in military hardware. Approval covered spare parts for UH-1H helicopters and A-37 aircraft used in counterinsurgency operations. Radios, batteries and battery charges were also in the package.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government’s cover-up of the Guatemalan bloodshed continued. State Department spokesman John Hughes said political violence in Guatemalan cities had “declined dramatically” and that rural conditions had improved too.

In February 1983, however, a secret CIA cable noted a rise in “suspect right-wing violence” with kidnappings of students and teachers. Bodies of victims were appearing in ditches and gullies. CIA sources traced these political murders to Rios Montt’s order to the “Archivos” in October to “apprehend, hold, interrogate and dispose of suspected guerrillas as they saw fit.”

Despite these grisly facts on the ground, the annual State Department human rights survey praised the supposedly improved human rights situation in Guatemala. “The overall conduct of the armed forces had improved by late in the year” 1982, the report stated.

A different picture — far closer to the secret information held by the U.S. government — was coming from independent human rights investigators. On March 17, 1983, Americas Watch condemned the Guatemalan army for human rights atrocities against the Indian population.

New York attorney Stephen L. Kass said these findings included proof that the government carried out “virtually indiscriminate murder of men, women and children of any farm regarded by the army as possibly supportive of guerrilla insurgents.”

Rural women suspected of guerrilla sympathies were raped before execution, Kass said, adding that children were “thrown into burning homes. They are thrown in the air and speared with bayonets. We heard many, many stories of children being picked up by the ankles and swung against poles so their heads are destroyed.” [AP, March 17, 1983]

Involving Israel

Publicly, senior Reagan officials continued to put on a happy face. In June 1983, special envoy Richard B. Stone praised “positive changes” in Rios Montt’s government, and Rios Montt pressed the United States for 10 UH-1H helicopters and six naval patrol boats, all the better to hunt guerrillas and their sympathizers.

Since Guatemala lacked the U.S. Foreign Military Sales credits or the cash to buy the helicopters, Reagan’s national security team looked for unconventional ways to arrange the delivery of the equipment that would give the Guatemalan army greater access to mountainous areas where guerrillas and their civilian supporters were hiding.

On Aug. 1, 1983, National Security Council aides Oliver North and Alfonso Sapia-Bosch reported to National Security Advisor William P. Clark that his deputy Robert “Bud” McFarlane was planning to exploit his Israeli channels to secure the helicopters for Guatemala. [For more on McFarlanes's Israeli channels, see Consortiumnews.com's "How Neocons Messed Up the Mideast."]

“With regard to the loan of ten helicopters, it is [our] understanding that Bud will take this up with the Israelis,” wrote North and Sapia-Bosch. “There are expectations that they would be forthcoming. Another possibility is to have an exercise with the Guatemalans. We would then use US mechanics and Guatemalan parts to bring their helicopters up to snuff.”

However, more political changes were afoot in Guatemala. Rios Montt’s vengeful Christian fundamentalism had hurtled so out of control, even by Guatemalan standards, that Gen. Oscar Mejia Victores seized power in another coup on Aug. 8, 1983.

Despite the power shift, Guatemalan security forces continued to murder with impunity, finally going so far that even the U.S. Embassy objected. When three Guatemalans working for the U.S. Agency for International Development were slain in November 1983, U.S. Ambassador Frederic Chapin suspected that “Archivos” hit squads were sending a message to the United States to back off even mild pressure for human rights.

In late November, in a brief show of displeasure, the administration postponed the sale of $2 million in helicopter spare parts. The next month, however, Reagan sent the spare parts anyway. In 1984, Reagan succeeded, too, in pressuring Congress to approve $300,000 in military training for the Guatemalan army.

By mid-1984, Chapin, who had grown bitter about the army’s stubborn brutality, was gone, replaced by a far-right political appointee named Alberto Piedra, who was all for increased military assistance to Guatemala. In January 1985, Americas Watch issued a report observing that Reagan’s State Department “is apparently more concerned with improving Guatemala’s image than in improving its human rights.”

According to now declassified U.S. records, the Guatemalan reality included torture out of the Middle Ages. A Defense Intelligence Agency cable reported that the Guatemalan military used an air base in Retalhuleu during the mid-1980s as a center for coordinating the counterinsurgency campaign in southwest Guatemala.

At the base, pits were filled with water to hold captured suspects. “Reportedly there were cages over the pits and the water level was such that the individuals held within them were forced to hold on to the bars in order to keep their heads above water and avoid drowning,” the DIA report stated. Later, the pits were filled with concrete to eliminate the evidence.

The Guatemalan military used the Pacific Ocean as another dumping spot for political victims, according to the DIA report. Bodies of insurgents tortured to death and of live prisoners marked for “disappearance” were loaded on planes that flew out over the ocean where the soldiers would shove the victims into the water.

Regional Slaughter

Guatemala, of course, was not the only Central American country where Reagan and his administration supported brutal counterinsurgency operations — and then sought to cover up the bloody facts.

Reagan’s attempted falsification of the historical record was a hallmark of the conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua as well. In one case, Reagan personally lashed out at an individual human rights investigator named Reed Brody, a New York lawyer who had collected affidavits from more than 100 witnesses to atrocities carried out by the U.S.-supported Contra rebels in Nicaragua fighting to overthrow the country’s leftist Sandinista government.

Angered by the revelations about his pet “freedom-fighters,” Reagan denounced Brody in a speech on April 15, 1985. The President called Brody “one of dictator [Daniel] Ortega’s supporters, a sympathizer who has openly embraced Sandinismo.”

Privately, Reagan had a far more accurate understanding of the true nature of the Contras. At one point in the Contra war, Reagan turned to CIA official Duane Clarridge and demanded that the Contras be used to destroy some Soviet-supplied helicopters that had arrived in Nicaragua. In his memoir, Clarridge recalled that “President Reagan pulled me aside and asked, ‘Dewey, can’t you get those vandals of yours to do this job.’” [See Clarridge's A Spy for All Seasons.]

It was not until 1999, a decade after Ronald Reagan left office, that the shocking scope of the grisly reality about the atrocities in Guatemala was revealed by a truth commission that drew heavily on documents that President Bill Clinton had ordered declassified.

On Feb. 25, 1999, the Historical Clarification Commission estimated that the 34-year civil war had claimed the lives of some 200,000 people with the most savage bloodletting occurring in the 1980s. The panel estimated that the army was responsible for 93 percent of the killings and leftist guerrillas for three percent. Four percent were listed as unresolved.

The report documented that in the 1980s, the army committed 626 massacres against Mayan villages. “The massacres that eliminated entire Mayan villages … are neither perfidious allegations nor figments of the imagination, but an authentic chapter in Guatemala’s history,” the commission concluded.

The army “completely exterminated Mayan communities, destroyed their livestock and crops,” the report said. In the northern highlands, the report termed the slaughter “genocide.” [Washington Post, Feb. 26, 1999]

Besides carrying out murder and “disappearances,” the army routinely engaged in torture and rape. “The rape of women, during torture or before being murdered, was a common practice” by the military and paramilitary forces, the report found.

American Blame

The report added that the “government of the United States, through various agencies including the CIA, provided direct and indirect support for some [of these] state operations.” The report concluded that the U.S. government also gave money and training to a Guatemalan military that committed “acts of genocide” against the Mayans.

“Believing that the ends justified everything, the military and the state security forces blindly pursued the anticommunist struggle, without respect for any legal principles or the most elemental ethical and religious values, and in this way, completely lost any semblance of human morals,” said the commission chairman, Christian Tomuschat, a German jurist.

“Within the framework of the counterinsurgency operations carried out between 1981 and 1983, in certain regions of the country agents of the Guatemalan state committed acts of genocide against groups of the Mayan people,” Tomuschat added. [NYT, Feb. 26, 1999]

The report did not single out culpable individuals either in Guatemala or the United States. But the American official most directly responsible for renewing U.S. military aid to Guatemala and encouraging its government during the 1980s was Ronald Reagan.

The major U.S. newspapers covered the truth commission’s report though only fleetingly. The New York Times made it the lead story the next day. The Washington Post played it inside on page A19. Both cited the troubling role of the CIA and other U.S. government agencies in the Guatemalan tragedy. But, again, no U.S. official was held accountable by name.

On March 1, 1999, the Washington Post’s neoconservative editorial board addressed the findings but did not confront them, except to blame President Carter for having cut off military aid to Guatemala in the 1970s, thus supposedly preventing the United States from curbing Guatemala’s horrific human rights conduct.

The editorial argued that the arms embargo removed “what minimal restraint even a feeble American presence supplied.” The editorial made no reference to the substantial evidence that Reagan’s resumption of military aid in the 1980s made the Guatemalan army more efficient in its slaughter of its enemies, armed and unarmed. With no apparent sense of irony, thePost editorial ended by stating: “We need our own truth commission” – though there was no follow-up of that idea.

During a visit to Central America, on March 10, 1999, President Clinton apologized for the past U.S. support of right-wing regimes in Guatemala dating back to 1954. “For the United States, it is important that I state clearly that support for military forces and intelligence units which engaged in violence and widespread repression was wrong, and the United States must not repeat that mistake,” Clinton said. [Washington Post, March 11, 1999]

However, back in Washington, there was no interest, let alone determination, to hold anyone accountable for aiding and abetting the butchery. The story of the Guatemalan genocide and the Reagan administration’s complicity quickly disappeared into the great American memory hole.

For human rights crimes in the Balkans and in Africa, the United States has demanded international tribunals to arrest and to try violators and their political patrons for war crimes. In Iraq, President George W. Bush celebrated the trial and execution of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for politically motivated killings.

Even Rios Montt, now 86, after years of evading justice under various amnesties, was finally indicted in Guatemala in 2012 for genocide and crimes against humanity. He is awaiting trial.

Yet, even as Latin America’s struggling democracies have made tentative moves toward holding some of their worst human rights abusers accountable, no substantive discussion has occurred in the United States about facing up to the horrendous record of the 1980s and Reagan’s guilt.

Rather than a debate about Reagan as a war criminal who assisted genocide, the former president is honored as a conservative icon with his name attached to Washington National Airport and scores of other public sites. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews gushes over Reagan as “one of the all-time greats,” and Democrats regularly praise Reagan in comparison to modern right-wing Republicans.

When the U.S. news media does briefly acknowledge the barbarities of the 1980s in Central America, it is in the context of how the little countries are bravely facing up to their violent pasts. There is never any suggestion that the United States should follow suit.

To this day, Ronald Reagan – the U.S. president who signaled to the Guatemalan generals that it would be alright to exterminate “Marxist guerrillas” and their “civilian support mechanisms” – remains a beloved figure in Official Washington and in many parts of the United States.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

How could Barack Obama say, in his State of the Union speech, “Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour”?

Back in 2008, Obama campaigned to have a $9.50 per hour minimum wage by 2011. Now he’s settling for $9.00 by 2015! Going backward into the future is the price that poverty groups and labor unions are paying by giving Mr. Obama a free ride last year on this moral imperative. How can leaders of poverty groups and unions accept this back-of-the-hand response to the plight of thirty million workers who make less today than what workers made 45 years ago in 1968, inflation adjusted?

But, of course, the poverty groups and labor unions chose not to mobilize some of the thirty million workers who grow our food, serve, clean up and fix things for us to push for a meaningful increase in the minimum wage before Election Day.

It gets worse. The Obama White House demanded “message discipline” by all Democratic candidates. That meant if Obama wasn’t talking about raising the minimum wage to catch up with 1968, none of the other federal candidates for Congress should embarrass the President by speaking out, including Elizabeth Warren, of all people, who was running for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts.

It didn’t matter that the U.S. had the lowest minimum wage of any major western country (Australia is over $15, France over $11, and the province of Ontario in Canada is $10.25 – all of these countries also have health insurance for all).

It didn’t matter that several cities and 19 states plus the District of Columbia have higher minimums, though the highest – Washington state – reaches only to $9.19.

It didn’t matter that two-thirds of low-wage workers in our country work for large corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s, whose top CEOs make an average of $10 million a year plus benefits. Nor did it matter that these corporations that operate in Western Europe, like Walmart, are required to pay workers there much more than they are paying Americans in the United States where these companies got their start.

Haven’t you noticed how few workers there are in the “big box” chain stores compared to years ago? Well, one Walmart worker today does the work of two Walmart workers in 1968. That is called a doubling of worker productivity. Yet, many of today’s Walmart workers, earning less than $10.50 an hour, and are making significantly less than their counterparts made in 1968.

Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told me that minimum wage policy relates intimately to child poverty. Single moms with children on a shrinking real minimum wage “translates to child poverty” and is “creating another generation” of impoverished people.

The arguments for a higher minimum wage, at least to reach the level of 1968, are moral, political and economic. James Downie writing in The Washington Post provided five reasons to raise the minimum wage: “1) it will help the economy; 2) it reduces poverty and inequality; 3) it reduces the ‘wage gap’ for women and minorities; 4) indexing the minimum wage is, well, common sense; and 5) it’s consistent with American values.”

Downie gives historical perspective on just how far our economic expectations have slid when he quotes Theodore Roosevelt at the 1912 Progressive Party convention:

“We stand for a living wage… enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living – a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit a reasonable saving for our old age.”

In the ensuing 100 years, worker productivity has increased about twentyfold. Why then are not most workers sharing in the economic benefits of this productivity? With other worker advocates, we chose to demonstrate on Feb. 12, 2013 before the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce whose business coalition opposes increases in the minimum wage while its members report record profits and boss pay. And before the headquarters of the large labor federation – the AFL-CIO – we urged well-paid union leaders to devote more of their power and resources on Congress and the White House to lift up the minimum wage for those they like to call their “brothers and sisters,” from the ranks of the working poor.

The last time – 2007 – a higher minimum wage law was passed under the prodding of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, nearly 1,000 business owners and executives, including Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce CEO Margot Dorfman (two thirds of low-income workers are women), and small business owners from all 50 states signed a “Business for a Fair Minimum Wage” statement.

It read: “[H]igher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation.”

Listen to those words, Walmart! You badly need to improve your reputation, given your recent major missteps.

Catching up with a 1968 federal minimum wage of $10.50, inflation adjusted, should be a winnable goal this year. Once the media starts regularly reporting on the human consequences of unlivable wages, and once the entry of more and more of the thirty million workers to marches, rallies and town meetings grows, neither the Republicans nor the Blue Dog Democrats will be able to stop this drive. Congressional districts all have many such workers in their districts and polls show 70 percent popular support for raising the minimum wage. That includes millions of workers who call themselves conservatives.

The April Congressional recess – the first two weeks of the month – will be the first opportunity to show up where it counts – at the town meetings held by senators and representatives back home. Filling those seats usually requires two to three hundred local voters. If workers rally, by the time the lawmakers go back to Congress, they’ll have a strong wind to their back to face down the lobbies for greed and power, who have money, but don’t have votes.

Check out our website timeforaraise.org and join this long overdue initiative.

Iraq and the Betrayal of a People – Impunity Forever?

February 21st, 2013 by Hans Christof Von Sponeck

Ethnic tension and sectarianism have become a major element in Iraqi politics since the US/UK invasion of 2003, a polarization of inter-group relations Iraqis had not known before. This explains much of the existing hideous crime including murder, kidnapping, property destruction and, most noteworthy, the deteriorating relationships between Baghdad and the three northern Kurdish governorates.

Since the years of war, sanctions and occupation, Iraq’s once state-of-the-art medical system has all but collapsed. Malnutrition and diseases, almost forgotten in Iraq, such as respiratory infections; measles; typhoid fever and tuberculosis have re-emerged on a large scale. The planned destruction of water and sanitation facilities , especially in the 1991 war, and recurrent drug shortages, throughout the period of sanctions and after the 2003 invasion, promoted significantly ill-being, morbidity and mortality in the country (WHO).

Depleted uranium, the armour-piercing radio-active munition, and white phosphorus used by the US military in 1991 and 2003 have created serious health and environmental dangers in Iraq. In early 2000 the US Government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where DU had been used. It also rejected any causality with increases in lung cancer, leukaemia and congenital birth defects. Fortunately national and international efforts have not deterred the collection of more evidence to show the relevance of these war contaminants.

A 2009 Iraq Government mental health survey concluded that mass displacement, a climate of fear, torture, death and violence have contributed to the high ratio of mental illness in the country. It reflects what an old man in Mosul observed: “ First they destroyed our economy and now they are trying to kill our minds.”

Iraq is said to have the third largest oil reserves in the world. Its current oil exports nevertheless remain below the average export of 2.2 million barrels/day Iraq was able to market during the years of sanctions. Sabotage against pipelines, corruption, inability to rehabilitate oil installations in the post-invasion era and Iraqi resistance to handover oil exploration to foreign interests (PSAs) are among the causes.

An immensely oil-rich country but 22.9% out of the est. 33 million Iraqis have been living in poverty and many more have to survive under near-poverty living conditions. The GNI per capita/annum (2011) amounted to a mere $2.640 (WB). Transparency International classified Iraq’s public sector corruption among the highest in the world – ranking 169 out of 176 countries (2012).

Rahim Hassan al-Uqailee, as head of the Iraqi Commission of Integrity wrote in an open letter to the Iraqi parliament’s anti-graft committee (2011): “The fight over stealing the money of state and its property is the unspoken part of the struggle for power in Iraq today.”

Despite the despicable gap between the rich and the poor, the Iraqi authorities signed a deal (2011) with the US Government for the purchase of 18 F-16 fighter jets at a cost of $ 3 billion! At that time almost a quarter of the Iraqi population lived in poverty and the unemployment rate exceeded 28% (UN).

There is a saying in the Middle East: “Egyptians write, Lebanese print and Iraqis read”. Prior to Iraq’s invasion into Kuwait in August 1990, Iraq had among the highest literacy rates in the Middle East.

Sanctions changed that.

A World Bank/Government of Iraq survey (2007) showed that “almost 23 percent of Iraqis were illiterate”, 5 million school age children were not in school and gender disparity in education had become severe. There have been other serious developments in the education sector since 2003: a sectarian element has found its way into the school system affecting mostly Sunni and Shiite students and, most disturbingly, a 2011 Ghent University/Brussels Tribunal publication states: “Iraq’s intellectual and technical class has been subject to a systematic campaign of intimidation, abduction, extortion, random killings and targeted assassinations”. Conditions in Iraq were “reminiscent of ‘educide’ or genocide of the educated segments of Iraqi society”.

Other serious and life-threatening dangers have confronted Iraqis in recent years:

“…since the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq has become a transit point in the flow of hashish and heroin from Iran and Afghanistan”, according to the UN. The Iraqi Ministry of Health confirms that local “addiction rates are climbing steadily” while before drug use was not an Iraqi problem.

During the 13 years of sanctions and beyond, it was difficult to obtain building materials for the construction of additional housing. This resulted in a steep rise in overcrowded accommodation which in turn promoted domestic violence, often involving women as victims. A UN report estimates that “one in five women in Iraq suffer from domestic abuse”.

Wars and violence have fundamentally changed the demographic and social profile of Iraq.

Iraq’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs indicates (2011) there are an estimated 4.5 million Iraqi children who have lost their parents – a horrific 14% of Iraq’s population are orphans! 70% of these children became orphans since the 2003 invasion. Around 600,000 of these are living in the streets and a few in the 18 orphanages that exist in the country, we are told. In the Iraq tradition, it must be remembered, there was no need for orphanages. The extended family took care of those who had lost their parents.

Dictatorship, wars, sanctions and crime have changed this.

There are an estimated one million female-headed households in Iraq. Most of these women are widows, victims of armed conflict and sectarian violence (ICRC/2010)

Apart from extreme physical, mental, economic and social damages, Iraqis have also faced a grim reality of punitive financial limitations during the years of sanctions. From 1990 until 1996, the year when the Oil-for-Food Programme (OFFP) became operative, all of Iraq’s foreign accounts were frozen and oil was not allowed to be sold internationally. The Iraqi people were almost entirely dependent on meager help from abroad – a far cry from a dignified survival.

The OFFP (1996-2003), allegedly a “humanitarian” exemption but fully financed (!) with sanctions-limited Iraqi oil money, was little more than an underfunded supply programme. Out of a total oil income of $64 billion about $ 19 billion were transferred to the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) in Geneva. At that time Iraq’s child mortality of 130/1000 was among the highest in the world. This transfer to the UNCC was to compensate individuals, companies and governments, especially the Government of Kuwait, for claims resulting from Iraq’s invasion into Kuwait. Had there been any moral leadership in the UN Security Council, much of this compensation could have been postponed. It would have prevented many deaths among Iraqi children!

During 6 ½ years, only $ 43 billion were available to meet the needs of of 23 million Iraqis – a pittance! Out of this amount only $28 billion* were actually utilized for this purpose. Micro-management and extreme bureaucratization of the OFFP by the UN Security Council and also the deliberate blocking by the US & UK of much needed supplies for the people of Iraq were main causes.

* During the years of US occupation of Iraq, the monthly cost of maintaining troops in Iraq amounted to an est. US $ 12 billion. In other words, what Iraqis had from the OFFP for survival during the entire 6 ½ years corresponded to less than 3 months of the cost of maintaining US troops in Iraq!

The UN humanitarian programme was not meant to work!

The end result: the per capita value/ day of humanitarian goods actually benefitting Iraqis amounted to 51 US cents – a shameful reality for which the US & UK Governments were largely responsible.

As of October 2012 Iraq has paid $ 38.7 billion in compensation to the three parties identified above. The rightful demand by Iraqis to-day that time has come to obtain in turn their reparations from abroad for war devastation, air, water and soil pollution, destruction of farmland, physical infrastructure, water, sanitation and electricity facilities to date has been ignored by the international community.

This constitutes an intolerable and unacceptable double standard.

In March 2003, at the end of the Government of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s total debt burden was identified as between $ 50 to $ 80 billion. The 19 Paris Club members, mostly European,, identify an Iraq debt to them of $38.9 billion. Iraq’s other creditors are primarily Arab (GCCC) countries.

Detractors of the evidence of willful destruction of Iraq’s heritage, its culture, the artifact pilferage; the gross violation of national and international law; planted dis- and mis-information; crime; brutality; disregard for fundamental human concerns and ethical standards, will either reject these accusations as preposterous, ideological and stupid or remain mute. Pitiful as this is they have no more to offer! In the name of democracy they insist that the infamous “bigger picture”, their bigger picture, justified the means.

They do not understand what democracy and humanness really entails. It is not about potato chips and coke but about human security and the opportunity to shape one’s life in freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Iraq, a major owner of global oil and gas, should have no problem in giving its people such a life. Instead Iraq has become a failing state vying with other disadvantaged countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and, of course, the State of Palestine, for the crown of misery.

The overall impact of these elements on life in Iraq constitute an indescribable human drama. Perpetrators, however, will not be allowed to lean back for ever and assume that their crimes will simply disappear into the far horizon of nowhere. Accountability will prevail.

The efforts of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) founded in 2005 by Tun Dr. Mahathir, Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981-2003 are a step in that direction. The Commission has worked for many years to produce an impressive body of evidence from legal documents and victims testimonies. This material, carefully reviewed by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, allowed the Court to pronounce in November 2011 and in May 2012 that culpability exists at the highest levels of government in the United States and in the United Kingdom for war crimes and the crimes of torture. This can not possibly come as a surprise for George W. Bush and Anthony Blair!

The Tribunal’s verdict: the two leaders and their senior advisors had committed serious crimes against peace “in that they planned, prepared and invaded the sovereign state of Iraq in violation of international law and committed crimes of torture and war crimes, ignoring the Geneva Conventions and the UN torture law.” [1]

What one has seen can not be unseen! How much can a people take?

2013 must become the year during which these perpetrators will see an end to their impunity. especially those who were instrumental in creating decades of Iraqi suffering. Due process must be for everyone, Iraqi and non-Iraqi; facing justice, however, is not just for those who lost!

The international public, as the ‘power from below’, will intensify its efforts during this tenth year after an illegal invasion into Iraq, to reassure the Iraqi people that they are not alone in their search for redress.

Hans-C. Graf Sponeck is a former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq

[1] See: Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal – Case 1 and Case 2: Judgements of 22 November 2011 and 11 May 2012 (ISBN 978-937-10817-1-6 and ISBN 978-967-10817-2-3)

It shouldn’t surprise. The 2011 Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) never really went away. It ducked and covered for another day.

It’s more about destroying personal freedom than online security. It gives government and corporate supporters unlimited power to access personal/privileged information online.

Civil liberty protections are ignored. Security experts, academics, and other professionals expressed outrage. They called CISPA and John McCain’s SECURE IT Act measures that “allow entities who participate in relaying or receiving Internet traffic to freely monitor and redistribute those network communications” unjustifiably.

They encourage transferring private communications to government agencies. Accountability and transparency are lacking. Vague language describes network security attacks, threat indicators, and countermeasures.

Innocuous online activities can be called cybersecurity threats. Eroded privacy laws will be gutted. Web sites visited, personal emails, and other online contact may be freely accessed.

Obama’s State of the Union address stressed no-holds-barred cyberwar. Earlier he declared waging it globally.

In May 2009, he prioritized cybersecurity. He called cyber-threats “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”

“America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity,” he claimed.

He ordered a top-to-bottom assessment. A Cyberspace Policy Review followed. He supports draconian cybersecurity bills. Passage threatens constitutional freedoms.

His February 12 Executive Order (EO) called for “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.”

Threats continue to grow, it said. National security challenges must be met.

“It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties.”

“We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards.”

Following Obama’s EO, lawmakers revisited CISPA. On February 14, Rep. Mike Rogers (R. MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D. MD) reintroduced it.

Last April, it passed the House 248 – 168. Civil libertarian outrage gave senators second thoughts. The bill died in committee. It’s now back from the dead.

On February 13, the ACLU responded. It said CISPA “fails to protect privacy.”

Reintroducing it lets “companies share sensitive and personal American internet data with the government, including the National Security Agency and other military agencies.”

“CISPA does not require companies to make reasonable efforts to protect their customers’ privacy and then allows the government to use that data for undefined ‘national-security’ purposes and without any minimization procedures, which have been in effect in other security statutes for decades.”

On February 13, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined “CISPA, the Privacy-Invading Cybersecurity Spying Bill, is Back in Congress.”

It’s the same “contentious bill civil liberties advocates fought last year.” It poorly defines cybersecurity exemptions to privacy law.”

It offers “broad immunities to companies (wishing) to share data with government agencies (including the private communications of users) in the name of cybersecurity.”

It lets companies share data with federal agencies. They include military intelligence ones like NSA.

EFF categorically opposes CISPA. It’s deeply flawed. According to the Project on Freedom, Security & Technology at the Center for Democracy & Technology:

“Under a broad cybersecurity umbrella, it permits companies to share user communications directly with the super secret National Security Agency and permits the NSA to use that information for non-cybersecurity reasons.”

“This risks turning the cybersecurity program into a back door intelligence surveillance program run by a military entity with little transparency or public accountability.”

“Members should seriously consider whether CISPA – which inflamed grassroots activists last year and was under a veto threat for these and other flaws – is the right place to start.”

Last October, Obama signed a secret directive. It addressed cyberattack defense. It set guidelines for confronting cyberspace threats. It lets military personnel act more aggressively.

Called Presidential Policy Directive 20, it’s “the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an ‘offensive’ and a ‘defensive’ action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism, where an attack can be launched in milliseconds by unknown assailants utilizing a circuitous route.”

“For the first time, (it) explicitly makes a distinction between network defense and cyber operations to guide officials charged with making often rapid decisions when confronted with threats.”

The order updates Bush’s 2004 presidential directive. It vets operations outside government owned systems.

Fiber operations previously considered offensive (because they go outside defended networks) are now called defensive. They include “severing the link between an overseas server and a targeted domestic computer.”

Pentagon officials are expected to finalize new cyberwar rules of engagement. They set guidelines for military commanders. They’ll be able to act outside government networks.

They’ll be able to compromise personal privacy. Preventing cyberattacks will be claimed as pretext.

Last fall, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” It could “cause physical destruction and loss of life,” he said. It could “paralyze and shock the nation and create a new profound sense of vulnerability.”

US officials never lack for hyperbole. Fear-mongering is longstanding policy. Lies substitute for truth and full disclosure.

CISPA 2.0 reflects old wine in new bottles. Troublesome issues remain. EFF addressed them.

New legislation lets business use cybersecurity systems. Doing so permits accessing alleged cybersecurity threat information (CTI).

Personal communications are included. Perceived threats to networks or systems are pretexts.

Imposed limitations are weak. They only involve acting for vaguely defined cybersecurity purposes.

At the same time, broad immunity from legal liability for monitoring, acquiring, or sharing CTI is extended. It’s given as long as entities act “in good faith.”

EFF expressed grave concerns. Provisions this broad will “override existing privacy laws.” They include the Wiretap Act and Stored Communications Act.

The new law also provides immunity “for decisions made based on” CTI. Doing so makes bad legislation worse. “A rogue or misguided company could easily make bad ‘decisions.’ ” They’ll do lots more harm than good.

CISPA “raises major transparency and accountability issues.” Information given Washington will be exempt from FOIA requests and state laws requiring disclosure.

Users probably won’t know if their private data ends up compromised. They’ll have little recourse either way.

If companies send information about users claimed unrelated to cyberthreats, government agencies getting it won’t notify them. Companies alone may or not do it. Who monitors them to make sure?

“CISPA is a dangerous bill,” said EFF. So is CISPA 2.0. It “equates cybersecurity with greater surveillance and information sharing.”

It’s little changed from its original form. It lets government and companies bypass existing laws, access what they wish, filter content, and potentially shut down online access for cybersecurity or national security reasons.

It assures unrestricted Big Brother spying. Government and business will take full advantage.

Many cybersecurity problems arise from software vulnerabilities. Human failings compound them. CISPA leaves these and other important issues unaddressed.

Obama’s EO encourages government agencies to share cybersecurity information with companies. It leaves plenty of room for abusive practices. Business will take full advantage. So will government agencies.

Enacting CISPA 2.0 ensures abuse. Freedoms taken for granted will disappear. Any site, blog, or personal content can be called a cyber threat.

Online users will lose out. So will everyone. Police state harshness will be hardened. America’s already hugely repressive. It’s a hair’s breath from full-blown tyranny.

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

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/cispa-is-back/

The Return of German Imperialism

February 21st, 2013 by Johannes Stern

Germany is making intensive preparations to conduct new wars to secure resources. This was the unmistakable message of a lead article in Germany’s business newspaper Handelsblatt, “Expedition Resources: Germany’s new course.”

The article shows the real face of the German bourgeoisie. As in the first half of the twentieth century, when it twice played a central role in plunging humanity into world war, it is again moving to enforce its imperialist interests through war. “The previous political measures to secure raw materials are reaching their limits,” the Handelsblatt states. Dependence on raw materials is the German economy’s Achilles heel, the paper writes: “Industry is plagued by the fear that the high-tech sector in Germany could be cut off from essential supplies.”

The very same business circles that financed Hitler are again banging the war drums. The article cites an interview with Dierk Paskert, the manager of the Resource Alliance founded in 2011. Members of the alliance include Volkswagen, ThyssenKrupp, Bayer and BASF—firms that either directly supported Nazi war plans, or whose predecessors did. Now they work closely with the German government to plan how Berlin will secure access to critical raw materials across the globe, by force if necessary.

The hunger of Germany’s export-dependent industry for materials and markets is huge. According to Handelsblatt German raw material imports over the last decade have nearly tripled. “The battle for resources is about oil and gas, but also minerals.” Handelsblatt gives a detailed overview of such highly prized resources such as lithium, cobalt, chromium, indium and rare earth elements, and cites the growing conflict between the major powers over such resources.

Paskert makes clear that the German bourgeoisie is willing to use military force to secure such resources against its rivals. Asked by Handelsblatt whether there will once again be resource wars, he explains: “History shows that many conflicts are rooted in the fight for resources. Up to now it was mostly about oil or gas, but also increasingly minerals. The supply of raw materials is the basis for the value and wealth of a country and therefore has geopolitical significance. The presence of the US military in the Persian Gulf or the massive expansion of Chinese naval forces is also aimed at protecting such interests.” Handelsblatt assures its readers that this view finds support in political circles, and that for the federal government, “the control of raw materials” is a “strategic issue for foreign policy”. It is preparing for a situation where “the existing resource partnerships” are insufficient and “additional security and military instruments are required.”

The return of aggressive German imperialism initiates a new stage of inter-imperialist conflict, raising the threat of a Third World War.

It is increasingly clear that the period after the Second World War—during which the German bourgeoisie adopted a pacifist stance and relied on Washington to carry out the wars and other military operations on which world imperialism relied—was merely a historical interlude.

The austerity policies pursued by the European Union after the outbreak of the world economic crisis have undermined the European market, which provided the basis for the expansion of German trade and production in recent decades. The result is the return of apparently long-buried specters of the past, as all the imperialist powers prepare for war.

In the 19th century Germany arrived late on the scene to take its place in the scramble for the division of the world. Then it acted all the more aggressively to enforce its interests against its rivals and twice plunged the world into war. With the intensification of the financial and economic crisis of world capitalism, German imperialism feels once again compelled to enter the arena.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American ruling class saw an opportunity for unchallenged operations all over the world. For more than a decade, it has waged “preventive wars” throughout the Middle East. Now it is also turning increasingly toward Asia and has organized a global drone war in defense of its strategic and economic interests. US President Barack Obama claims the authority to assassinate even American citizens via drone attacks.

French imperialism is increasingly employing military means to defend its interests in Africa and the Middle East. After playing a key role in starting the war in Libya, as well as wars in two former French colonies, Ivory Coast and Syria, it is now invading a fourth country, Mali.

Like the German bourgeoisie, Japan, Germany’s strategic ally in World War II, is reacting to the crisis with attacks on the working class at home and growing militarism abroad. As in the 1930s, this militarism is particularly directed against China and is currently being inflamed in the conflict over the Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Under these conditions the German bourgeoisie is re-arming. The Handelsblatt bluntly states that the German army will be rebuilt “in order to be used all over the world.”

The vast majority of the German population is vehemently opposed to militarism. The fact that the Handelsblatt can so publicly formulate the goals of the German bourgeoisie is above all a devastating indictment of the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party. They have repeatedly justified German foreign policy and military operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, falsely claiming these wars were based on democratic and humanitarian considerations.

In the past 15 years, such forces have moved sharply to the right, aligning themselves increasingly openly on the interests of German big business and German militarism. Their silence on the Handelsblatt article speaks volumes. They agree with the war preparations.

Capitalism is once again dragging mankind toward catastrophe, under conditions when the destructive power of the ruling classes is vastly greater than during the two world wars of the last century. Though a new world war would place a question mark over the fate of the entire human race, it is precisely to this end that the ruling classes and their bankrupt social and economic system are leading mankind. To the policies of imperialist barbarism and national conflict, the working class—in Germany, Europe, and around the world—must advance the program of international solidarity and socialist revolution.

Somalia: the Real Causes of Famine

February 21st, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

For the last twenty years, Somalia has been entangled in a “civil war” amidst the destruction of both its rural and urban economies.

The country is now facing widespread famine.  According to reports, tens of thousands of people have died from malnutrition in the last few months. The lives of  several million people are threatened.

The mainstream media casually attributes the famine to a severe drought without examining the broader causes.

An atmosphere of  “lawlessness, gang warfare and anarchy” is also upheld as one of the major causes behind the famine.

But who is behind the lawlessness and armed gangs? 

Somalia is categorized as a “failed state”, a country without a government.

But how did it become a “failed state”? There is ample evidence of foreign intervention as well as covert support of armed militia groups. Triggering “failed states” is an integral part of US foreign policy. It is part of a military-intelligence agenda.

According to the UN, a situation of famine prevails in southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle, areas in part controlled by Al Shahab, a jihadist militia group affiliated to Al Qaeda.

Both the UN and the Obama administration had accused Al Shahab of imposing “a ban on foreign aid agencies in its territories in 2009″. What the reports do not mention, however, is that Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM) (“Movement of Striving Youth”) is funded by Saudi Arabia and supported covertly by Western intelligence agencies.

The backing of Islamic militia by Western intelligence agencies is part of a broader historical pattern of covert support to Al Qaeda affiliated and jihadist organizations in a number of countries, including, more recently, Libya and Syria.

The broader question is: What outside forces triggered the destruction of the Somali State in the early 1990s?

Somalia remained self-sufficient in food until the late 1970s despite recurrent droughts. As of the early 1980s, its national economy was destabilized and food agriculture was destroyed.

The process of economic dislocation preceded the onset of the civil war in 1991. Economic and social chaos resulting from IMF “economic medicine” had set the stage for the launching of a US sponsored “civil war”.  

An entire country with a rich history of commerce and economic development, was transformed into a territory.

In a bitter irony, this open territory encompasses significant oil wealth. Four US oil giants had already positioned themselves prior to the onset of the Somali civil war in 1991:

Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside.

According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia’s pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. …

Officially, the Administration and the State Department insist that the U.S. military mission in Somalia is strictly humanitarian. Oil industry spokesmen dismissed as “absurd” and “nonsense” allegations by aid experts, veteran East Africa analysts and several prominent Somalis that President Bush [Senior], a former Texas oilman, was moved to act in Somalia, at least in part, by the U.S. corporate oil stake.

But corporate and scientific documents disclosed that the American companies are well positioned to pursue Somalia’s most promising potential oil reserves the moment the nation is pacified. And the State Department and U.S. military officials acknowledge that one of those oil companies has done more than simply sit back and hope for peace.

Conoco Inc., the only major multinational corporation to maintain a functioning office in Mogadishu throughout the past two years of nationwide anarchy, has been directly involved in the U.S. government’s role in the U.N.-sponsored humanitarian military effort.( The Oil Factor in Somalia : Four American petroleum giants had agreements with the African nation before its civil war began. They could reap big rewards if peace is restored. – Los Angeles Times 1993)

Somalia had been a colony of Italy and Britain. In 1969, a post-colonial government was formed under president Mohamed Siad Barre; major social programs in health and education were implemented, rural and urban infrastructure was developed in the course of the 1970s, significant social progress including a mass literacy program was achieved.  

The early 1980s marks a major turning point.

The IMF-World Bank structural adjustment program (SAP) was imposed on sub-Saharan Africa. The recurrent famines of the 1980s and 1990s are in large part the consequence of IMF-World Bank “economic medicine”.

In Somalia, ten years of IMF economic medicine laid the foundations for the country’s transition towards economic dislocation and social chaos.

By the late 1980s, following recurrent “austerity measures” imposed by the Washington consensus, wages in the public sector had collapsed to three dollars a month.

The following article first published in 1993 in Le Monde diplomatique and Third World Resurgence centers on the historical causes of famine in Somalia.

This article was subsequently included as a Chapter in my book The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order,  first edition 1997, second edition, Global Research. Montreal,  2003.  


Somalia: the Real Causes of Famine

by Michel Chossudovsky

First published in 1993, Third World Resurgence and Le Monde diplomatique

The IMF Intervention in the Early 1980s

Somalia was a pastoral economy based on “exchange” between nomadic herdsmen and small agriculturalists. Nomadic pastoralists accounted for 50 percent of the population. In the 1970s, resettlement programs led to the development of a sizeable sector of commercial pastoralism. Livestock contributed to 80 percent of export earnings until 1983. Despite recurrent droughts, Somalia remained virtually self-sufficient in food until the 1970s.

The IMF-World Bank intervention in the early 1980s contributed to exacerbating the crisis of Somali agriculture. The economic reforms undermined the fragile exchange relationship between the “nomadic economy” and the “sedentary economy” – i.e. between pastoralists and small farmers characterized by money transactions as well as traditional barter. A very tight austerity program was imposed on the government largely to release the funds required to service Somalia’s debt with the Paris Club. In fact, a large share of the external debt was held by the Washington-based financial institutions.’ According to an ILO mission report:

[T]he Fund alone among Somalia’s major recipients of debt service payments, refuses to reschedule. (…) De facto it is helping to finance an adjustment program, one of whose major goals is to repay the IMF itself.

Towards the Destruction of Food Agriculture

The structural adjustment program reinforced Somalia’s dependency on imported grain. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, food aid increased fifteen-fold, at the rate of 31 percent per annum.’ Combined with increased commercial imports, this influx of cheap surplus wheat and rice sold in the domestic market led to the displacement of local producers, as well as to a major shift in food consumption patterns to the detriment of traditional crops (maize and sorghum). The devaluation of the Somali shilling, imposed by the IMF in June 1981, was followed by periodic devaluations, leading to hikes in the prices of fuel, fertilizer and farm inputs. The impact on agricultural producers was immediate particularly in rain-fed agriculture, as well as in the areas of irrigated farming. Urban purchasing power declined dramatically, government extension programs were curtailed, infrastructure collapsed, the deregulation of the grain market and the influx of “food aid” led to the impoverishment of farming communities.’

Also, during this period, much of the best agricultural land was appropriated by bureaucrats, army officers and merchants with connections to the government.’ Rather than promoting food production for the domestic market, the donors were encouraging the development of so-called “high value-added” fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and cotton for export on the best irrigated farmland.

Collapse of the Livestock Economy

As of the early 1980s, prices for imported livestock drugs increased as a result of the depreciation of the currency. The World Bank encouraged the exaction of user fees for veterinarian services to the nomadic herdsmen, including the vaccination of animals. A private market for veterinary drugs was promoted. The functions performed by the Ministry of Livestock were phased out, with the Veterinary Laboratory Services of the ministry to be fully financed on a cost-recovery basis. According to the World Bank:

Veterinarian services are essential for livestock development in all areas, and they can be provided mainly by the private sector. (… Since few private veterinarians will choose to practice in the remote pastoral areas, improved livestock care will also depend on “para vets” paid from drug sales.’

The privatization of animal health was combined with the absence of emergency animal feed during periods of drought, the commercialization of water and the neglect of water and rangeland conservation. The results were predictable: the herds were decimated and so were the pastoralists, who represent 50 percent of the country’s population. The “hidden objective” of this program was to eliminate the nomadic herdsmen involved in the traditional exchange economy. According to the World Bank, “adjustments” in the size of the herds are, in any event, beneficial because nomadic pastoralists in sub-Saharan Africa are narrowly viewed as a cause of environmental degradation.”

The collapse in veterinarian services also indirectly served the interests of the rich countries: in 1984, Somalian cattle exports to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries plummeted as Saudi beef imports were redirected to suppliers from Australia and the European Community. The ban on Somali livestock imposed by Saudi Arabia was not, however, removed once the rinderpest disease epidemic had been eliminated.

Destroying the State

The restructuring of government expenditure under the supervision of the Bretton Woods institutions also played a crucial role in destroying food agriculture. Agricultural infrastructure collapsed and recurrent expenditure in agriculture declined by about 85 percent in relation to the mid-1970s.”

The Somali government was prevented by the IMF from mobilizing domestic resources. Tight targets for the budget deficit were set. Moreover, the donors increasingly provided “aid”, not in the form of imports of capital and equipment, but in the form of “food aid”. The latter would in turn be sold by the government on the local market and the proceeds of these sales (i.e. the so-called “counterpart funds”) would be used to cover the domestic costs of development projects. As of the early 1980s, “the sale of food aid” became the principal source of revenue for the state, thereby enabling donors to take control of the entire budgetary process.”

The economic reforms were marked by the disintegration of health and educational programmes.’3 By 1989, expenditure on health had declined by 78 percent in relation to its 1975 level. According to World Bank figures, the level of recurrent expenditure on education in 1989 was about US$ 4 Per annum per primary school student down from about $ 82 in 1982. From 1981 to 1989, school enrolment declined by 41 percent (despite a sizeable increase in the population of school age), textbooks and school materials disappeared from the class-rooms, school buildings deteriorated and nearly a quarter of the primary schools closed down. Teachers’ salaries declined to abysmally low levels.

The IMF-World Bank program has led the Somali economy into a vicious circle: the decimation of the herds pushed the nomadic pastoralists into starvation which in turn backlashes on grain producers who sold or bartered their grain for cattle. The entire social fabric of the pastoralist economy was undone. The collapse in foreign exchange earnings from declining cattle exports and remittances (from Somali workers in the Gulf countries) backlashed on the balance of payments and the state’s public finances leading to the breakdown of the government’s economic and social programs.

Small farmers were displaced as a result of the dumping of subsidized US grain on the domestic market combined with the hike in the price of farm inputs. The impoverishment of the urban population also led to a contraction of food consumption. In turn, state support in the irrigated areas was frozen and production in the state farms declined. The latter were slated to be closed down or privatized under World Bank supervision.

According to World Bank estimates, real public-sector wages in 1989 had declined by 90 percent in relation to the mid-1970s. Average wages in the public sector had fallen to US$ 3 a month, leading to the inevitable disintegration of the civil administration.” A program to rehabilitate civil service wages was proposed by the World Bank (in the context of a reform of the civil service), but this objective was to be achieved within the same budgetary envelope by dismissing some 40 percent of public-sector employees and eliminating salary supplements.” Under this plan, the civil service would have been reduced to a mere 25,000 employees by 1995 (in a country of six million people). Several donors indicated keen interest in funding the cost associated with the retrenchment of civil servants.”

In the face of impending disaster, no attempt was made by the international donor community to rehabilitate the country’s economic and social infrastructure, to restore levels of purchasing power and to rebuild the civil service: the macro-economic adjustment measures proposed by the creditors in the year prior to the collapse of the government of General Siyad Barre in January 1991 (at the height of the civil war) called for a further tightening over public spending, the restructuring of the Central Bank, the liberalization of credit (which virtually thwarted the private sector) and the liquidation and divestiture of most of the state enterprises.

In 1989, debt-servicing obligations represented 194.6 percent of export earnings. The IMF’s loan was cancelled because of Somalia’s outstanding arrears. The World Bank had approved a structural adjustment loan for US$ 70 million in June 1989 which was frozen a few months later due to Somalia’s poor macro-economic performance. ’7 Arrears with creditors had to be settled before the granting of new loans and the negotiation of debt rescheduling. Somalia was tangled in the straightjacket of debt servicing and structural adjustment.

Famine Formation in sub-Saharan Africa:  The Lessons of Somalia

Somalia’s experience shows how a country can be devastated by the simultaneous application of food “aid” and macro-economic policy. There are many Somalias in the developing world and the economic reform package implemented in Somalia is similar to that applied in more than 100 developing countries. But there is another significant dimension: Somalia is a pastoralist economy, and throughout Africa both nomadic and commercial livestock are being destroyed by the IMF-World Bank program in much the same way as in Somalia. In this context, subsidized beef and dairy products imported (duty free) from the European Union have led to the demise of Africa’s pastoral economy. European beef imports to West Africa have increased seven-fold since 1984: “the low quality EC beef sells at half the price of locally produced meat. Sahelian farmers are finding that no-one is prepared to buy their herds”.”

The experience of Somalia shows that famine in the late 20th century is not a consequence of a shortage of food. On the contrary, famines are spurred on as a result of a global oversupply of grain staples. Since the 1980s, grain markets have been deregulated under the supervision of the World Bank and US grain surpluses are used systematically as in the case of Somalia to destroy the peasantry and destabilize national food agriculture. The latter becomes, under these circumstances, far more vulnerable to the vagaries of drought and environmental degradation.

Throughout the continent, the pattern of “sectoral adjustment” in agriculture under the custody of the Bretton Woods institutions has been unequivocally towards the destruction of food security. Dependency vis-à-vis the world market has been reinforced, “food aid” to sub-Saharan Africa increased by more than seven times since 1974 and commercial grain imports more than doubled. Grain imports for sub-Saharan Africa expanded from 3.72 million tons in 1974 to 8.47 million tons in 1993. Food aid increased from 910,000 tons in 1974 to 6.64 million tons in l993.

“Food aid”, however, was no longer earmarked for the drought-stricken countries of the Sahelian belt; it was also channeled into countries which were, until recently, more or less self-sufficient in food. Zimbabwe (once considered the bread basket of Southern Africa) was severely affected by the famine and drought which swept Southern Africa in 1992. The country experienced a drop of 90 percent in its maize crop, located largely in less productive lands.” Yet, ironically, at the height of the drought, tobacco for export (supported by modem irrigation, credit, research, etc.) registered a bumper harvest. While “the famine forces the population to eat termites”, much of the export earnings from Zimbabwe’s tobacco harvest were used to service the external debt.

Under the structural adjustment program, farmers have increasingly abandoned traditional food crops; in Malawi, which was once a net food exporter, maize production declined by 40 percent in 1992 while tobacco output doubled between 1986 and 1993. One hundred and fifty thousand hectares of the best land was allocated to tobacco .2′ Throughout the 1980s, severe austerity measures were imposed on African governments and expenditures on rural development drastically curtailed, leading to the collapse of agricultural infrastructure. Under the World Bank program, water was to become a commodity to be sold on a cost-recovery basis to impoverished farmers. Due to lack of funds, the state was obliged to withdraw from the management and conservation of water resources. Water points and boreholes dried up due to lack of maintenance, or were privatized by local merchants and rich farmers. In the semi-arid regions, this commercialization of water and irrigation leads to the collapse of food security and famine.

Concluding Remarks

While “external” climatic variables play a role in triggering off a famine and heightening the social impact of drought, famines in the age of globalization are man-made. They are not the consequence of a scarcity of food but of a structure of global oversupply which undermines food security and destroys national food agriculture. Tightly regulated and controlled by international agri-business, this oversupply is ultimately conducive to the stagnation of both production and consumption of essential food staples and the impoverishment of farmers throughout the world. Moreover, in the era of globalization, the IMF-World Bank structural adjustment program bears a direct relationship to the process of famine formation because it systematically undermines all categories of economic activity, whether urban or rural, which do not directly serve the interests of the global market system.

(for footnotes see Chapter in the Globalization of Poverty)


The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Order Online Here

In this new and expanded edition of Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skilful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this new enlarged edition –which includes ten new chapters and a new introduction– the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalisation.

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Published in 14 languages. More than 150,000 copies sold Worldwide.

In these unprecedented economic times, the world is experiencing as a whole what most of the non-Industrialized world has experienced over the past several decades. Michel Chossudovsky takes the reader through a nuanced examination of the intricacies of the global political-economic landscape and the power players within it; specifically, looking at how the World Bank and IMF have been the greatest purveyors of poverty around the world, despite their rhetorical claims to the opposite. These institutions, representing the powerful Western nations and the financial interests that dominate them, spread social apartheid around the world, exploiting both the people and the resources of the vast majority of the world’s population.

As Chossudovsky examines in this updated edition, often the programs of these International Financial Instittutions go hand-in-hand with covert military and intelligence operations undertaken by powerful Western nations with an objective to destabilize, control, destroy and dominate nations and people, such as in the cases of Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

To understand what role these international organizations play today, being pushed to the front lines and given unprecedented power and scope as ever before to manage the Global Economic Crisis, one must understand from whence they came. This book provides a detailed, exploratory, readable and multi-faceted examination of these institutions and actors as agents of the ‘New World Order,’ for which they advance the ‘Globalization of Poverty.’

Order Online Here

“In its entirety, the book can and should be read by all with an interest in world peace and the causes of poverty.” Frances Hutchinson, The Ecologist

“This concise, provocative book reveals the negative effects of imposed economic structural reform, privatization, deregulation and competition. It deserves to be read carefully and widely.” Choice, American Library Association (ALA)

“The current system, Chossudovsky argues, is one of capital creation through destruction. The author confronts head on the links between civil violence, social and environmental stress, with the modalities of market expansion.” Michele Stoddard, Covert Action Quarterly

“This detailed study by an economics insider shows the consequences of “reforms” in various parts of the world, reveals a clear pattern of callous neocolonialism. Definitely red-pill material.” Richard K. Moore, Whole Earth.

“As Michel Chossudovsky, author of The Globalisation of Poverty, has pointed out, an entirely undemocratic world body “has been casually installed in Geneva, empowered under international law with the mandate to ‘police’ country level economic and social policies”. This amounts to a “repeal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, providing “legitimacy to trade practices which border on criminality [including] the patenting of human life forms”. John Pilger, New Statesman.

“More than just an austerity program, Chossudovsky believes the conditions the IMF demands of countries – with little choice but to accept – are draconian…He also believes the IMF is getting its direction from the wealthy Wall Street investment banks which act as informal policy advisers and more formally, help structure and deliver bailout packages. “There are powerful financial actors behind this,” he says. While Chossudovsky, author of The Globalization Of Poverty, is careful not to suggest a conspiracy, he says large multinational corporations and investment houses benefit from the chaos in countries like South Korea and Indonesia once their currencies are devalued.” Laura Eggertson, The Toronto Star

“Michel Chossudovsky is one of the leading intellectuals of the antiwar movement, perhaps the best, as I find he works his tail off in documenting the material he presents and is rigorous in his analysis.” Jude Wanniski, Polyconomics.

“Chossudovsky gives us a clear analysis of how the International Monetary Fund has well served this corporate plan. He gives us case studies of the ”restructuring” and subsequent impoverishment of the people in countries like Somalia, Peru and Russia. He lays out the blueprint for the rest of the world.”  Briarpatch

“… I  recommend to all interested in our political and financial future, unemployed or in work, to buy or borrow, one of the most informative books on the consequences of global poverty, written by Michel Chossudovsky.” Stan Kent, Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph

“University of Ottawa economist Michel Chossudovsky  calls our era a global ”cheap labour economy”. The underlying problem is only made worse by IMF-sponsored reforms that impoverish millions of people. Economic Justice Report

“Michel Chossudovsky, offers in his book The Globalisation of Poverty an impressive presentation of the destructive effects macroeconomic restructuring has had on Yugoslavia and its 24 million people.”  Paul Surlis, National Catholic Reporter

 

America’s New Cold War against Russia and China

February 21st, 2013 by Global Research News

by Zhao Jinglun

If NATO further expands to Georgia and Ukraine, crossing the Kremlin’ s “Red Line,” hostility would be further heightened. The missile-defense installations are supposedly aimed at Iran, but do pose a direct threat to Russia in the event of a nuclear first strike.

Former president Bill Clinton started his illegal air war over Kosovo ostensibly to save Kosovo Albanians from being massacred by the Serbs. The real purpose, however, has been rumored to be Moscow’s deprivation of its last European ally, Serbia.

Moscow has steadfastly opposed Western efforts to block Iran’s nuclear program as those efforts could be designed to support a regime change that would pave the way for Western penetration into Central Asia.

Russia has just published its new foreign policy concept in which President Vladimir Putin indicates that the most important aspect of Moscow’s foreign strategy is to strengthen its ties with China. The two countries hold the same principle on core issues in international politics and that can constitute a basic element in maintaining regional and global stability. Russia will engage in full spectrum foreign policy cooperation with China when dealing with new challenges or menaces, as well as in solving regional and global problems.

This may not exactly be what the Obama administration wants to hear. It has succeeded in stirring up conflict between China and Japan; but has been unable to sow any dissension between China and Russia. Its efforts to “reset” the relations with the Kremlin ended in slight disappointment.

Indeed, U.S.-Russia relations are now seemingly at their nadir. The publication of Moscow’s new foreign policy concept was delayed as Putin wanted to emphasize the principle of non-intervention in Russia’s internal affairs. He especially resents the humiliating Magnitsky Act, which was overwhelmingly passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. Moscow retaliated by banning the American adoption of Russian orphans.

Stephen F. Cohen, Russian expert and professor emeritus at NYU and Princeton, is even talking about a potential new Cold War. As one Chinese saying goes, “It takes more than one cold day for the river to freeze three-feet-deep. ” Cohen points to four components of U.S. policy resented by Moscow:

* NATO expansion to Russia’s borders which now includes European missile-defense installations. This poses the most serious threat to Russian security. If NATO further expands to Georgia and Ukraine, crossing the Kremlin’ s “Red Line,” hostility would be further heightened. The missile-defense installations are supposedly aimed at Iran, but do pose a direct threat to Russia in the event of a nuclear first strike. Moscow has demanded participation in the European system, failing that, a written guarantee that it will never be directed against Russia. It was rebuffed on both counts.

* “Selective cooperation, ” or the obtaining of concessions from the Kremlin without any meaningful White House reciprocity. Putin has never forgotten his vital role in the 2001 U.S. war in Afghanistan and was later rewarded by George W. Bush’s further NATO expansion and tearing up of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

* “Democracy promotion” in Russia’s domestic politics, viewed by Russian leaders as an intolerable interference with their internal affairs. The National Endowment for Democracy openly funded Russian NGOs.

* Last but not least, high-level Moscow circles have repeatedly complained that “the Americans do not care about our national security.”

It is unlikely that Washington will make any meaningful concessions on these four issues. So the chill in relations will probably continue.

In fact, the clash of strategic interests has a long history. Former president Bill Clinton started his illegal air war over Kosovo ostensibly to save Kosovo Albanians from being massacred by the Serbs. The real purpose, however, has been rumored to be Moscow’s deprivation of its last European ally, Serbia.

Moscow has steadfastly opposed Western efforts to block Iran’s nuclear program as those efforts could be designed to support a regime change that would pave the way for Western penetration into Central Asia.

Russia has also blocked Western efforts to intervene in Syria, its ally in the Middle East, where it has a naval base at Tartus.

The Kremlin also pursues a hard line refusing to return the Northern Territories (four islands), which Moscow calls the Southern Kurils, to Japan. It is not just a conflict with Japan. It is also a response to the United States’ pivot towards Asia and the (Asia) Pacific region – Russia also considers itself a Pacific power. The latest incident occurred on February 12, the day President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address.

The U.S. military reported that two Russian “Bear” (TU-95) strategic bombers, capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles, visited the U.S. strategic island Guam (Moscow denied this). U.S. Air Force F-15 jets were scrambled from Andersen Air Force Base to intercept the intruders. Nevertheless, both sides “stayed professional. ”

U.S. military officials hold that ever since Putin reclaimed the Russian presidency, the number of such flights in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska has increased, but encounters with U.S. aircrafts have generally remained “very professional. ”

Neither side is looking for a fight; but they’re not on the best of terms either.

The author is a columnist with China.org.cn.

Global Systemic Economic Crisis: Bank Failures, Currency Wars

February 21st, 2013 by Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)

Just as the Euro crisis pushed Europe to modernize and adapt its economic and financial governance to the challenges of the 21st century, the terrible US dollar crisis will oblige the world to transform the whole of world governance structures, beginning of course with the international monetary system to calm the storm which is on the point of striking currencies.

According to our anticipations, this reorganization which will only start to become a reality with the September G20 unfortunately risks taking place in a hurry since our team envisages the first major fears over the Dollar during the March-June 2013 period.

A phrase by Antonio Gramsci (1) splendidly describes the long, dangerous transition period that we are currently living through: “The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters”. This period will finally come to an end but the monsters are still restless.

With no surprise, one of the powerful factors which will accelerate the United States’ loss of influence in the world relates to oil. In fact we are witnessing the last days of the petrodollar, the key element of US domination. This is why we have decided to deal with the world oil problem at length in this GEAB. We are also publishing the GEAB Dollar-Index and Euro-Index to follow currency developments more reliably in the current monetary storm. Finally, as usual, we finish with the GlobalEurometre.

In this public announcement for the GEAB N°72, our team has chosen to present a series of converging indices on the crisis which leads it to keep its “global systemic crisis” alert in force for the March-June 2013 period, as well as its anticipation of the risk of “Icelandisation” in the management of the banking crisis.

A flurry of signs of crisis, or why we are keeping the March-June 2013 alert

Since last month (GEAB n°71), the converging line of strong trends and indices announcing a catastrophe during the March-June 2013 period have strengthened further. First of all it’s the “currency wars” which takes on political dimensions and ruins the confidence that countries give each other. We will expand on our analysis below. But it’s also many of the domestic indices which should ring alarm bells about the United States.

In deciding to separate the debates on the budgetary cuts/increase in taxation and on the debt ceiling (2), the Americans have doubled the shock to come: there was only one at the end of February/beginning of March, there is now another in May. This separation reveals the Republicans’ strategy clearly. Of course they will exert a power struggle to the maximum over raising the debt ceiling to reduce spending further, but they will ultimately feel obliged to vote for a rise in order not to be held responsible for the cataclysm which would follow a payment default (3). On the other hand the consequences of the budgetary cuts envisaged for March 1st, though certainly not painless, are far from being as traumatising and the Republicans have really decided to negotiate a sizeable reduction in the public deficit under penalty of leaving the last resort of automatic cuts at work.

Gold price in Dollars (yellow, left scale) and the US debt ceiling (trillions $, right scale) – Source: wealthcycles.com.

In any event, with these budgetary cuts at the beginning of March, and after a so-called “surprising” and largely ignored drop in US GDP in the 4th quarter of 2012 (4), who could still think that GDP growth in the first quarter of 2013 will be positive (except by making up the numbers)? The fall is all the more inevitable as a few days of economic activity were lost in the North-East because of Nemo (the blizzard) and that there was a severe flu epidemic this year (5). They will be the excuses offered (6) when it’s necessary to justify a fall in GDP in an economy officially supposed to be picking up. Nevertheless an announcement at the end of April of a US relapse into recession (two consecutive quarters of a fall in GDP) will make its own modest impression on the world economy.

Fortunately a “dam” has been built to avoid the waves: Egan Jones, the credit rating agency, less biased than its three big brothers (the one which has already downgraded the US three times to AA-), has been banned from rating the country for 18 months (7); what a happy coincidence! And amongst the three major credit rating agencies, S&P is being prosecuted (8), the only one which dared to downgrade the United States; a second happy coincidence! The others have just to watch their step.

This “dam” although futile especially reveal the fears at the highest level in 2013 and is only one more sign of the shock’s imminence. It’s also from this perspective that the January 1st 2013 decision should be read on the unlimited current account guarantee by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (9) (FDIC): by guaranteeing them only up to $250,000, 1,400 billion dollars are no longer guaranteed (10), which could conveniently avoid a FDIC bankruptcy in the event of a problem…

And apparently the insiders of world finance are also preparing themselves: enormous short bets have been placed for expiries through the end of April (11); two Swiss banks are changing their status so that their partners are no longer personally liable for the bank’s losses (12); Eric Schmidt has sold 2.5 billion dollars worth of Google shares (13); etc.

But it’s not only the markets which are preparing for the worst. The US government itself seems to be expecting disorder and a great deal of violence: first of all it is arming its department of internal security (Department of Homeland Security) with 7000 assault rifles) (14), then Obama is signing a law allowing the pure and simple execution of Americans posing a vague “imminent threat” (15), to the great displeasure of a section of US public opinion…

Bank failures: Towards an « Icelandation » of the banking crisis’ management

In the face of this shock, our team estimates that most countries, including the United States, will approach management of the crisis in an “Icelandic style”, i.e. not to bail out the banks and to let them collapse (16). We have already had a glimpse with the liquidation of the Irish bank IBRC which has given many people ideas: “How Ireland liquidated its banking albatross in one night” headlined La Tribune (17) admiringly. This possibility seems to increasingly be the solution in the event of the banks backsliding, for the following reasons: first, it seems much more effective than the 2008-2009 bailout plans judging by Iceland’s recovery; second, countries don’t really have the means to pay for new bailouts anymore; finally, one can’t deny that it must be a big temptation for leaders to get rid in a popular fashion of part of the debts and “toxic assets” which encumber their economy.

These « too big to fail » banks are in fact gorged of public and private Western debt from which they gained their profits and power. In past GEABs our team had already established the link between a bank like Goldman Sachs for example and the Knights-Templar (18), a medieval military order which had grown excessively rich on States’ backs and which King Philip the Fair put an end to, taking their gold for his state coffers. One can see certain current trends following this thread: the efforts of certain States requiring banks to separate investment and deposit banking (19) would in fact ensure that the first’s difficulties don’t overly impact the second; along the same lines, all the lawsuits of which certain very large banks are deservedly currently the object (Barclays, etc… (20)) can also be seen as a means of recovering money from the banks to re-inject it into the states’ coffers or the real economy…

The major countries’ leaders will probably not decide to “blow up” a bank but one thing is certain, that the motivation and the means to save banks in difficulty will have no relationship from now on with those which had been implemented in 2009. If any leniency could be shown for the “too big to fail”, like Bank of America which seems to be ailing (21), at it is certain that those in charge will be accounted for the mistakes to the maximum.

But whatever this period’s management policy, as we had anticipated in the GEAB n°62 (“2013: end of the domination of the US Dollar in the settlement of the world trade”), this new shock will accelerate the loss of US influence and in particular of their ultimate weapon, the Dollar.

Notes

(1) See Wikipedia on this Italian thinker.

(2) Source: The New York Times, 23/01/2013

(3) Two examples of thinking on the consequences of a US payment default: American style, Preparing for the Unthinkable: Could Markets Handle a US Default? (CNBC, 17/01/2013), and Russian style: Could the Russian economy withstand a U.S. default? (RBTH.ru, 04/02/2013).

(4) The kind of reasoning that prevails in US markets, “if the economic news is good, so much better because the economy is improving; if it’s bad, so much better because the Fed will intervene”, shows the extent to which they are disconnected from reality. Which is characteristic of a dysfunctioning power on the edge of the cliff.

(5) Cf. CNBC, Major Flu Outbreak Threatens to Slow Economy Further, 10/01/2013.

(6) Source: ZeroHedge, 07/02/2013

(7) Source: US Securities and Exchange Comission (SEC), 22/01/2013

(8) Source: Wall Street Journal, 04/02/2013

(9) Source: FDIC.gov

(10) Source: BusinessFinance, 19/07/2012

(11) Source: Do Wall Street Insiders Expect Something Really BIG To Happen Very Soon? Activist Post, 07/02/2013

(12) Source: Après plus de 200 ans d’existence, deux banques suisses font leur révolution (After an existence of more than 200 years, two Swiss banks are having their own revolution), Le Monde, 06/02/2012

(13) Source: Forbes, 11/02/2013

(14) Source: The Blaze, 26/01/2013

(15) Source: Le Monde, 06/02/2013

(16) Like Icesave, the Icelandic bank that the authorities let drop; and particularly after a referendum they didn’t take on re-imbursement of the bank’s debts. Source : Wikipedia

(17) Source: La Tribune, 07/02/2013

(18) Source: Wikipedia

(19) Source: Reuters, 02/10/2012

(20) Just to realize the phenomenon’s extent, go « bank + sued » in Google.

(21) Source: The Frightening Truth Behind Bank Of America’s “Earnings”, ZeroHedge (17/01/2013)

The Obama administration is utilizing unsubstantiated charges of Chinese government cyber-attacks to escalate its threats against China. The past two days have seen allegations of hacking into US corporate and government web sites, hyped by the US media without any examination of their validity, employed to disorient the American public and justify an expansion of the Obama administration’s drive to isolate China and prepare for an eventual military attack.

The accusations of hacking against China will also be used to justify increased domestic surveillance of computer and Internet communications, as well as an expanded use of cyber warfare methods internationally.

The New York Times, functioning once again as a conduit for the Pentagon and the CIA, has taken the lead in the latest provocation against Beijing. On Tuesday it published a bellicose front-page article headlined “China’s Army Seen as Tied to Hacking Against US,” and carrying the ominous subhead “Power Grid is a Target.”

The article drips with cynicism and hypocrisy. It is well known that the United States is the world’s most ruthless practitioner of cyber warfare. The article itself acknowledged that the US worked with Israel to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program by introducing the Stuxnet virus into Iran’s computer systems. That bit of sabotage—itself an illegal act of aggression—was accompanied by a series of assassinations of Iranian scientists carried out by Israel with Washington’s support.

The sprawling front-page article, which continued on an entire inside page of the newspaper, was based on a 60-page report released that day by a private computer security firm with close ties to the Times, as well as to the US military and intelligence agencies. The report by Mandiant—founded by a retired Air Force officer and based in Alexandria, Virginia—provides no real evidence to substantiate its claim that a unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army based in Shanghai is directing hacking attacks on US corporations, organizations and government institutions.

In its report, Mandiant claims to have tracked 141 cyber attacks by the same Chinese hacker group since 2006, 115 of which targeted US corporations. On the basis of Internet footprints, including Internet provider addresses, Mandiant concludes that 90 percent of the hacking attacks come from the same neighborhood in Shanghai. It then notes that the headquarters of Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army is located in that neighborhood. From this coincidence, Mandiant draws the entirely unwarranted inference that the cyber-attacks are coming from the PLA building.

As the Times admits in its article, “The firm was not able to place the hackers inside the 12-story [PLA Unit 61398 headquarters] building…” The newspaper goes on to report that “Mandiant also discovered an internal China Telecom memo discussing the state-owned telecom company’s decision to install high-speed fiber-optic lines for Unit 61398’s headquarters.” One can only assume that Mandiant “discovered” this memo by carrying out its own hacking of Chinese computers.

Chinese spokesmen have denied any involvement by the government or the military in hacking attacks and dismissed the Mandiant report as lacking any proof of its charges. The Chinese Ministry of Defense released a statement Wednesday pointing out that Internet provider addresses do not provide a reliable indication of the origin of hacking attacks, since hackers routinely usurp IP addresses. A Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed out that China is constantly being targeted by hackers, most of which originate in the US.

The Chinese position was echoed by Dell Secureworks cyber-security expert Joe Stewart, who told the Christian Science Monitor: “We still don’t have any hard proof that [the hacker group] is coming out of that [PLA Unit 61398’s] building, other than a lot of weird coincidence pointing in that direction. To me, it’s not hard evidence.”

The Obama administration followed up the Times article, which sparked a wave of frenzied media reports of Chinese cyber-attacks, by announcing on Wednesday that it would step up diplomatic pressure and consider more punitive laws to counter what it described as a wave of trade secret theft by China and other countries. The Associated Press reported that the administration was discussing “fines, penalties and tougher trade restrictions” directed against China.

The latest propaganda attack points to an escalation of the US offensive against China that went by the name “pivot to Asia” in Obama’s first term. That policy included whipping up territorial disputes in the East China and South China seas between China and a series of countries in East Asia, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

It has also included the establishment of closer military ties and new US installations in a number of countries, including India and Australia, to militarily encircle China.

The Times concluded its article by reporting that “The mounting evidence of state sponsorship… and the growing threat to American infrastructure are leading officials to conclude that a far stronger response is necessary.” It cited Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as saying that Washington must “create a high price” to force the Chinese to back down.

In an editorial published Wednesday, the Times noted that the administration has decided to give US Internet providers and anti-virus vendors information on the signatures of Chinese hacker groups, leading to a denial of access to US networks for these groups. It also reported that President Obama last week signed an executive order authorizing increased sharing of information on cyber threats between the government and private companies that oversee critical infrastructure, such as the electrical grid.

The Wall Street Journal in its editorial called for “targeted sanctions” against Chinese individuals and institutions.

The background to this new salvo of anti-China propaganda underscores that it is part of an aggressive expansion of US military capabilities, both conventional and cyber-based. Obama raised the issue of cyber war in his February 12 State of the Union address, accusing US “enemies” of seeking to “sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air traffic control systems,” and insisting that action be taken against such attacks.

In the same speech, he defended his drone assassination program, which is based on the claim that the president has the unlimited and unilateral power to order the murder of anyone anywhere in the world, including US citizens.

Last October, Obama signed an executive order expanding military authority to carry out cyber-attacks and redefine as “defensive” actions that would previously have been considered acts of aggression—such as the cutting off of computer networks. Around the same time, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave a bellicose speech in which he warned of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” Panetta told Time magazine: “The three potential adversaries out there that are developing the greatest capabilities are Russia, China and Iran.”

At the end of January, the New York Times accused Chinese authorities of hacking into its news operations, a charge that was quickly seconded by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. That same week, the Washington Post reported that the US military had approved a five-fold increase of personnel in its Cyber Command. Days later, the Times reported on its front page that the Obama administration had concluded that the president had the power to authorize pre-emptive cyber war attacks.

This bellicose posture toward China and expansion of cyber warfare methods goes hand in hand with growing threats to democratic rights at home. The cyber war plans include options for military action within the US. The Times reported earlier this month that the military “would become involved in cases of a major cyber-attack within the United States” under certain vaguely defined conditions.

Efforts to increase government control of the Internet and surveillance of Internet communications are being stepped up. Just last week, Rep. Rogers of Michigan and Democratic Senator Dutch Ruppersberger of California reintroduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The bill died in the Senate last year in the midst of protests over provisions allowing the government to spy on emails and other Internet-based communications.

Leeches could also be used in bloodletting. The withdrawal of so much blood as to induce syncope (fainting) was considered beneficial, and many sessions would only end when the patient began to swoon.

As the economy shows signs of recession, the leeches return. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles have issued a new report calling for even deeper austerity. It is not what the economy needs as it stagnates and sputters toward a possible new collapse. Their report combined with President Obama’s State of the Union, the sequestration and Republican dogma are all combining to bring on another round of budget cuts, which will only make recession more likely.It is important to put the current economic debate in context. Dr. Jack Rasmus, an economist who gets it right more than any other we are aware of, provides the framework with his in-depth analysis of the US GDP over the last 15 months.  He summarizes the present dismal situation:

“Nearly the entire European Union, including its core economies of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are all now clearly mired in recession. The Euro southern periphery is in a bona fide depression. Japan has entered its third recession since 2008. China, India, and Brazilian growth rates have fallen by half. And the US in the fourth quarter 2012 has come to a virtual economic standstill, the second time in two years in which a quarterly GDP recorded virtually no growth.”

Rasmus predicts “The dual strategy of capitalist politicians across the globe—of QE and money injections into the banks and financial system combined with austerity for the rest—has clearly failed and will continue to fail even more visibly.” Rasmus foresees a double dip recession, with the shrinking US GDP of the last quarter as a harbinger of things to come.

Simpson and Bowles come into this situation recommending the wrong prescription – more cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social programs, as well as closing corporate tax loopholes.  They want to cut $2.4 trillion from the federal deficit over the next decade, $1.5 trillion more than President Obama has called for and this is on top of the $2.7 trillion in reductions that have already been implemented causing the most rapid fall in deficit to GDP ratio since World War II. All of this means an ‘Obama recession’ becomes more likely.

No doubt Republican dogma of shrinking federal government and low taxes deserve a lot of the blame, but President Obama does as well.  His State of the Union address kept the Grand Bargain of cuts to essential programs along with closing corporate tax loopholes on the table.

Dr. Richard Wolff cuts through the rhetoric of “fiscal cliff,” “austerity” and “market” to pinpoint who benefits from austerity, writing that those who own the “US public debt are easy to list: large banks, insurance companies, large corporations, wealthy individuals and central banks around the world. Austerity justified as satisfying ‘the market’ in fact serves those US creditors first and foremost.”

Multiple  commentators have noted President Obama’s sly language on Medicare cuts and his silence on protecting Social Security. Symptoms of a sick health care system continue to show.  Executive salaries at non-profit hospitals continued to rise despite a frail health care system. And though the US ranks dead last in male life expectancy and near the very bottom in prevention of premature deaths, infant mortality, total health care coverage, number of practicing doctors, and prevention of deaths due to heart disease among developed nations; we may begin to look better in the international rankings soon – not because health care is improving here but because bankers are now demanding privatization of European heath care systems which will bring their outcomes down too.

The more we learn about Obama’s Treasury Secretary appointment, Jacob Lew, the less hopeful we are of decent policies coming from his leadership.  Confirmation hearings have brought out his Romney-like economics: personal investment in the Cayman Islands,  creating foreign tax havens for customers when he was at Citi, and that prior to Citi, when he was an executive at NYU, he steered students to expensive Citigroup loans. Of course, we remember his $950,000 bonus when Citigroup was bailed out. It seems impossible for Americans to trust Lew’s economic ethics and plutocratic economic behavior.

All this talk about austerity comes as we learn that the Federal Reserve continues to bailout the big banks, not only by pumping $85 billion each month into banks through Quantitative Easing, but court documents revealed that the Fed also forgave $7 billion in mortgage security losses by Bank of America. Bailouts continue but outside of the public eye and should lead to more calls for Fed transparency, which is unlikely to come from the two Wall Street parties.

And, austerity comes at a time when new census analysis shows that during the Obama ‘recovery’ only the rich got richer; the poorer got poorer.  According to a new analysis by Emanuel Saez. perhaps the leading economist on incomes in the world, from 2007-2009 the “average  real income for the bottom 99% . . . fell sharply by 11.6%, . . . by far the largest two year decline since the Great Depression.” And new data covering 2009-2011 indicate that “Top 1% incomes grew by 11.2% while bottom 99% incomes shrunk by 0.4%. Hence, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery.” [Emphasis added.] We got a glimpse into the rigged system this week when it was reported that Facebook, which made $1 billion in profits, will be paying no income taxes, indeed will receive a $429 million refund. Why? Tax deductions allowed for executive pay in stock options.

And, don’t believe that the rich getting richer will create jobs. The claim that the wealthiest are job creators has been proven to be a myth. Another myth exploded in this week’s news was that it was important to pay CEO’s exorbitant pay to preventtheir unique talents from being lured away. Both myths are not consistent with the facts.

What will another economic collapse cost us?  The GAO issued a report this week that indicated the last collapse cost the US economy $22 trillion; that is about 1.5 years of total GDP.  And, most of that came on the back of homeowners suffering from the housing collapse.

What is the alternative? Countries that are breaking from the Washington Consensus are showing the way. This week an analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research of Ecuador found “government’s taking control of the Central Bank, implementation of capital controls, increased taxation of the financial sector, and other regulatory reforms. It concludes that these played a major role in bringing about Ecuador’s strong economic growth, increased government revenue, a substantial decline in poverty and unemployment, and other improvements in economic and social indicators.”  Unemployment has fallen to 4.1 percent, the lowest level in 25 years and poverty has been cut 27 percent below its 2006 level.

The report gives us hope finding: “Ecuador’s success shows that a government committed to reform of the financial system, can – with popular support – confront an alliance of powerful, entrenched financial, political, and media interests and win.” By the way, Raphael Correa won re-election on Sunday by a landslide with more than 60% of the vote in a race with 8 candidates.  Is there any US politician that wants to get on the side of the people?

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing The FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and were organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.


This article is based on a weekly newsletter from It’s Our Economy. You can sign-up here to receive this free newsletter.

Sharia Shushed: Majority of Egypt against Muslim Brotherhood

February 20th, 2013 by F. William Engdahl

Terrorismo legale se di stato

February 20th, 2013 by Manlio Dinucci

Mentre promette nel suo spot elettorale «riforme radicali contro gli sprechi e la corruzione», Mario Monti invia a Tripoli il ministro della difesa Di Paola con un pacco dono da circa 100 milioni di euro: 20 veicoli blindati da combattimento Puma, consegnati «a titolo gratuito» (ossia pagati con denaro pubblico dai contribuenti italiani) ai governanti libici, il cui impegno anti-corruzione è ben noto. Un gruppo di potere, al cui interno sono in corso feroci faide, chiamato in causa dallo stesso Consiglio di sicurezza dell’Onu per «le continue detenzioni illegali, torture ed esecuzioni extragiudiziarie». Tutto perfettamente legale, però. La legge sulle missioni internazionali delle Forze armate per «il consolidamento dei processi di pace e stabilizzazione», approvata tre settimane fa dal senato con voto bipartisan quasi unanime, autorizza la spesa per prorogare l’impiego di personale militare italiano in attività di «assistenza, supporto e formazione in Libia» allo scopo di «ripristinare la sicurezza pubblica». L’Italia si accoda così agli Stati uniti, che stanno formando una forza d’élite libica con il compito ufficiale di «contrastare e sconfiggere le organizzazioni terroriste ed estremiste violente». Le stesse usate nel 2011 dalle potenze occidentali per seminare il caos in Libia, mentre la Nato la attaccava con i suoi cacciabombardieri e forze speciali (comprese quelle qatariane) infiltrate. Le stesse organizzazioni terroriste che vengono oggi armate e addestrate dalla Nato, anche in campi militari in Libia, per seminare il caos in Siria. Il segretario alla difesa Leon Panetta ha dichiarato al Congresso che, sin dall’anno scorso, il Pentagono arma i «ribelli» in Siria. La maggior parte non è costituita da siriani, ma da gruppi e militanti di altre nazionalità, tra cui turchi e ceceni. Da fonti attendibili risulta che vi siano anche criminali sauditi, reclutati nelle carceri, cui viene promessa l’impunità se vanno a combattere in Siria. Compito di questa raccogliticcia armata  è quello di seminare il terrore all’interno del paese: con autobombe cariche di esplosivi ad alto potenziale, con rapimenti, violenze di ogni tipo soprattutto sulle donne,  assassini in massa di civili. Chi non è debole di stomaco può trovare su Internet video girati dagli stessi «ribelli»: come quello di un ragazzino che viene spinto a tagliare la testa, con una spada, a un civile con le mani legate dietro la schiena.  Sempre più, in Siria come altrove, la strategia Usa/Nato punta sulla «guerra segreta». Non a caso Obama ha scelto quale futuro capo della Cia John Brennan, consigliere «antiterrorismo» alla Casa bianca, specialista degli assassini a distanza con i droni armati, responsabile della «kill list» autorizzata dal presidente. Dove non è escluso che ci fosse anche il nome di Chokri Belaid, il dirigente tunisino ucciso da killer professionisti con tecnica tipicamente terrorista.

Manlio Dinucci

Imperialism, Unequal Development and Forced Migration

February 20th, 2013 by Raúl Delgado Wise

It is impossible to disentangle the migration and labor question today without a deep understanding of the nature of contemporary capitalism, namely, neoliberal globalization. One of the main features of the new global architecture, boosted by the emergence of one of the most distressing global crises since the Great Depression, is the assault on the labor and living conditions of the majority of the global working class, and in particular the migrant workforce, which is among the most vulnerable segments of this class. This essay will analyze some key aspects of the system that contemporary migration is embedded in, with emphasis on the process of segmentation and the growing precariousness (precarization) of labor markets worldwide.

The aim is to unravel:

a) the re-launching of imperialism (policies of global domination) in search of cheap and flexible labor, as well as natural resources from the South;

b) the growing asymmetries among and within countries and regions;

c) the increase and intensification of social inequalities;

d) the configuration of a gigantic global reserve army of labor associated with the emergence of severe forms of labor precarization and exploitation; and

e) the predominance of forced migration as the primary mode of human mobility under conditions of extreme vulnerability.

From this perspective, the migration and labor questions are two sides of the same coin, whose currency translates into unbearable conditions of systematic oppression of the working class. To combat this, there must be, among other things, a unity of social organizations and movements in alliance with progressive intellectuals in order to foster a process of social transformation.

Imperialism Today

In the neoliberal era, the capitalist world system revolves around the monopolization of finance, production, services, and trade—as well as labor exploitation and environmental degradation. In expanding their operations, monopoly capitalism’s agents have created a global network of production, finance, distribution, and investment that has allowed them to seize the strategic and profitable segments of peripheral economies and appropriate their economic surplus.

Monopoly capital has become, more than ever, the central player. Through mega-fusions and mega-strategic alliances, monopoly capital has reached unparalleled levels of concentration and centralization: the five hundred largest multinational corporations concentrate between 35–40 percent of world income.1 Closely associated with this trend is that the “top one hundred global corporations had shifted their production more decisively to their foreign affiliates [mainly in the South], which now account for close to 60 percent of their total assets and employment and more than 60 percent of their global sales.”2 This means that, “A ‘new nomadism’ has emerged within production, with locational decisions determined largely by where labor is cheapest.”3

In opposition to the myth of “free markets,” at least 40 percent of world trade is subject to such operations.4 Two key landmarks characterize the current capitalist restructuring process:

  1. The creation of global networks of monopoly capital as a reorganization strategy led by the large multinational corporations, who through outsourcing operations and subcontracting chains extend parts of their productive, commercial, and services processes to the South in search of abundant and cheap natural and human resources. This strategy entails the establishment of export platforms that operate as enclaves in peripheral countries, such as the maquiladora plants installed in the north-border states of Mexico. It is estimated that between 55 million and 66 million workers from the South work in such plants.5 Additionally, monopoly capital helps to avoid direct price competition among multinational corporations by searching for low-cost positions through taking advantage of low wages.6
  2. The restructuring of innovation systems. This aspect of neoliberal capitalism involves the implementation of mechanisms such as outsourcing (including offshore-outsourcing) in the sphere of scientific and technological innovation (for example, innovation-based firms in Silicon Valley and Route 128 in the United States and IT-export platforms in Bangalore, India), allowing multinational corporations to have southern scientists at their service, reduce labor costs, transfer risks and responsibilities, and capitalize on the benefits of purchasing and concentrating patents.

Closely related to the two aforementioned aspects, we also find:

  1. The unleashing of financialization as a major consequence of the new global architecture, aimed at increasing the power of financial capital by extending the supremacy of its institutions over a slowly but increasingly deregulated global economy. The end result has been a disconnection between the “real” economy and a ballooning economy of “fictitious capital” based on the operations of speculative funds.
  2. An intensification of environmental degradation, which, with the deterioration of ecosystems and the emergence and deepening of climate change due to the privatization of natural resources and irresponsible deregulation, is reaching or has reached crisis proportions.

Neoliberal capitalism is facing a profound multidimensional crisis that undermines the main sources of wealth creation—labor and nature—to the point that it can be characterized as a crisis of civilization, with a potentially catastrophic outcome. It is crucial to realize that this crisis demands both that we engage in a process of radical social transformation and in the construction of a social transformation agent capable of confronting the current dominant imperialist power.

These responses are all the more needed because the responses to the crisis by the governments of developed countries and by international agencies are greatly constrained by the fact that they are still promoting neoliberal globalization. As a result, their approach has been short-sighted, elitist, and exclusive. Instead of addressing the root causes of the crisis, they have implemented limited strategies that seek to rescue financial and manufacturing corporations facing bankruptcy. And since key elements in their response have been the promotion of labor flexibilization and regressive fiscal adjustments, the living and working conditions of most of the population have been negatively impacted. These measures are desperate attempts to maintain an ever-more predatory and unsustainable form of capitalism and prolong the privileges and power of the ruling elites.

The Labor Question Today

One of the main engines of the new imperialism at the heart of neoliberal capitalism is cheap labor. Corporate strategies, enhanced by government policies, aim to lower the cost of labor by any means, so that businesses can take advantage of the massive global oversupply of labor. With the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the ascent of China and India in the world economy, and the “freeing” of labor through the implementation of structural adjustment programs in the periphery of the system (the global South),7 the labor available for capital’s exploitation over the last two decades has more than doubled (from 1.5 to 3.3 billion). This has led to the disproportionate growth of a global reserve army of labor, which absorbs between 57 and 63 percent of the global labor force.8 The outrageous dimension of this reserve army of labor is dialectically interrelated to the abysmally low wages and chronic insufficiency of decent employment that characterizes contemporary capitalism. According to estimates of the International Labor Organization, the number of workers in conditions of labor insecurity rose to 1.53 billion in 2009—encompassing more than half of the world’s labor mass—with 630 million receiving a salary of less than $1.25 per day. These workers find themselves in situations of extreme poverty. Meanwhile, the global number of unemployed has risen to 205 million.9 This in turn has led to growing pressures to emigrate internally and/or internationally.

The quest for cheap labor, and the mechanisms employed to create it, has reconfigured the global working class:

  • There has been the creation of a dispersed and vulnerable proletariat attached to the global networks of monopoly capital.
  • A covert “proletarianization” of highly qualified scientific and technological workers has taken place.
  • There has been the real or disguised proletarianization of the peasantry.
  • The reserve army of labor has greatly expanded. With this has been an increase in new forms of poverty and an underclass of workers without hope or possibility of any (let alone decent) work, many of whom have been disabled or made ill through the process of capital accumulation and economic growth. There has been the semi- and sub-proletarianization of migrant workers forced to migrate by the capitalist development of production.10
  • Under these circumstances, when the labor conditions of so many workers are eroded and much of the working class is excluded from the social welfare system—such that the subordinate classes cannot fulfill the most basic of their social needs, and are unable even to secure basic subsistence—then we may say that capitalist development entails the superexploitation of labor. We have, in other words, a situation of systemic violence and human insecurity affecting the majority of the world’s population. In human terms, this is what the new imperialism has wrought.

The Mushrooming of Unequal Development

A major and inescapable feature of neoliberal globalization and the new imperialism that is such a major feature of it is unequal development. The global and national dynamics of capitalist development, the international division of labor, the imperialist system of international power relations, the conflicts that surround the capital-labor relation, and the dynamics of extractivist capital have all made economic, social, political, and cultural polarization more extreme between geographical spaces and social classes than ever before in human history. This inequality is reflected in many kinds of data. For example, a conspicuous outcome of this unequal development is the disproportionate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small elite within the capitalist class. Nowadays the richest 1 percent of the world’s population controls 40 percent of total global assets.11 Moreover, there is an enormous disparity in growth rates between core and peripheral countries. “From 1970 to 2009, the per capita GDP of developing countries (excluding China) averaged a mere 6.3 percent of the per capita GDP of the G8 countries.”12

Global labor arbitrage has become a key element of this new global architecture. This refers to the advantage of pursuing lower wages abroad. Capital in the rich nations “earns” enormous monopolistic returns (imperial rents) by taking advantage of the relative immobility of labor and the existence of subsistence (and below) wages in much of the South. Hourly wages in China are but 4 percent of hourly wages in the United States and 3 percent of those in the European Union. Wages in Mexico are a mere 16 percent of those in the United States. Through labor arbitrage, geographic asymmetries are reproduced on an ever broader scale.13

Social inequalities are one of the most distressing aspects of unequal development. The unprecedented concentration of power and wealth in a few hands forces a growing segment of the world’s population to suffer poverty, exploitation, and exclusion (from schooling, healthcare, housing, leisure, and the like). Increasing disparities are also expressed in forceful racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination; reduced access to production and employment; a sharp decline in living and working conditions; and the progressive dismantling of social security systems.

A fundamental mechanism in the promotion of the new global economic structures and the trend toward unequal development has been the implementation of structural adjustment programs. These have been the vehicle for breaking apart or disarticulating the productive apparatus in the periphery and, in effect, making it a part of (re-articulating it to) the core economies, under sharply asymmetric and subordinated conditions. The direct and indirect exportation of labor is a key element for conceptualizing this process. On the one hand, the indirect or disembodied exportation of labor is associated with the establishment of global networks of monopoly capital in the South through outsourcing operations, as previously mentioned.14 In this case, the main input of national origin in exported commodities is the labor used in the assembly (or service or commercial) process. On the other hand, the direct exportation of labor refers to international labor migration, mainly composed of South-North and South-South flows. In fact, 156 million migrants of the existing 214 million (72 percent), come from the periphery.15

The exportation of labor in its two forms shapes a new international division of labor that resembles a new edition of enclave economies in the periphery, and encompasses the emergence of new modalities of unequal exchange, much more severe than in the past: the net transfer of revenues to the North through outsourcing operations in the South, and the South-North transfer of the educational and social reproduction costs of the migrant labor. For example, estimates of the educational costs and social reproduction costs of the Mexican labor that emigrated to United States during the NAFTA era (considering only public education expenses and basic consumption goods), were twice the accumulated amount of remittances received by Mexico in the same period.16

Forced Migration Under the New International Division of Labor

Migration has acquired a new role in the labor division of neoliberal globalization. Mechanisms of unequal development produce structural conditions, such as unemployment and inequality, which catapult the massive migration of dispossessed and marginalized people. Compelled by the need to have access to means of subsistence or at least minimal opportunities for social mobility, large segments of the population are in practice expelled from their territories to relocate within their own country or abroad. Labor oversupply and worsening living conditions turn migration, particularly from peripheral countries, into a form of forced displacement.17

Forced migration flows have four characteristics: a) they take place on a national and international level, and move mainly from deprived peripheral regions toward relatively more advanced areas in peripheral or core economies; b) they primarily affect the vulnerable, poor, and marginalized, who are barred in their place of origin from satisfying basic material and subjective needs; c) they generate an oversupply of cheap and disorganized labor, exploited by employers and corporations interested in keeping costs down; and d) they fuel mechanisms of direct and indirect labor exportation, both among low- and high-skilled workers.

The number of migrants (most of whom come from peripheral regions) has increased over the last three-and-a-half decades, from 84 million in 1975 to 215 million in 2010. The main flows are in a South-North direction (82 million), followed by South-South (74 million). There is also a significant contingent (750 million) of domestic (within the same country) migrants. Taken together, these migrations have reshaped the labor map and turned migration into a keystone of the capitalist restructuring process.18Documented migration that flows in a South-South direction, including transit migration at an intranational level in peripheral countries, exposes migrants to conditions of utmost vulnerability. These migrants occupy the lowest echelons in the displacement dynamics generated by the processes of accumulation by dispossession, that is, where peasants are forced from their lands.

In line with the above considerations, it is possible to distinguish four types of forced migration:

  1. Migration due to violence, conflict, and catastrophe.
  2. Smuggling and trafficking of persons.
  3. Migration due to dispossession, exclusion, and unemployment.
  4. Migration due to over-qualification and lack of opportunities.

The first category involves 43 million refugees and internally displaced people; the second 2.45 million victims; the third, 72 million, not counting the bulk of internal migrants; and the fourth, 25.9 million.19

The conditions under which forced migrations develop involve multiple risks and dangers, particularly in the case of the most vulnerable groups. These involve permanent exposure to conditions of labor insecurity and instability, and social exclusion in host societies. Furthermore, as has been mentioned, international migration is increasingly subjected to criminalization policies and practices, racialization, and race- and gender-based discrimination, which not only increases vulnerabilities and risk, but also often endangers life itself.20

The safeguarding of human rights is still a pending issue for most governments in countries of origin, transit, and destination. Few nations are exempt from this responsibility. Either because of the stigma of illegality or due to racial prejudices—and, in fact, mainly because of economic interest—destination countries espouse tacit ignorance regarding the labor and human rights of migrants. They also put up obstacles that hinder or bar them from easily obtaining legal residence and citizenship. Countries of origin or transit function under a double-standard: while governments denounce violations of the rights of their citizens in destination countries, the rights of foreigners in their own land are systematically violated.

Even though international migrants have certain legal means of protection, such as the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families—still not ratified by any of the important migrant destination countries—there are still no effective mechanisms for their implementation. And, unfortunately (but expectedly), instead of adequately categorizing migrants in terms of the problems to which they are exposed, governments classify these groups as “economic migrants,” in a context that presupposes the existence of individual liberty, social mobility, and a truly free market.21

The Win-Win-Win Fiction

The relationship between migration, development, and human rights is a topic of growing interest among international organizations, academics, and civil society organizations. To varying degrees, international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration see remittances from migrants back to their families as an essential tool in the development of migrant-sending, underdeveloped countries. They also envisage international migration management as a core element in the design and implementation of migration policies that are apparently beneficial for all parties. This perspective, which has dominated both academic and policy agendas, has multiple flaws. It is essentially one-sided, decontextualized, and misleading. It overlooks the neoliberal globalization and unequal development in which contemporary migration is embedded. It also disregards human and labor rights as central and intrinsic elements of coherent migration and development policies, as well as the exploitation, social exclusion, human insecurity, and criminalization suffered by international migrants. In addition, it masks most of the fundamental contributions made by migrants to the destination countries and ignores the costs of migration for the countries of origin, costs that greatly outweigh the overemphasized “positive” impact of remittances. Despite the insistence of international bodies and governments regarding the alleged positive effects of migration and remittances as detonators of development in countries of origin, there is no empirical evidence to warrant this assumption.

Among the cardinal elements of the dominant discourse, we can mention remittances, microfinance, human capital (a term that reflects a narrow economistic view), and, perhaps more importantly, the pretention to govern or manage migration without changing or even mentioning its root causes.

It is worth adding that the practices and discourses under the label of migration management advocated by the International Organization for Migration and other multilateral agencies, have been promoted through new narratives that distort reality, depoliticize migration, negate the existence of divergent interests or asymmetries of power and conflicts, and promote an unsustainable and incoherent triple-win scenario in favor of the interests of the migrant-receiving countries, and more specifically, the large multinational corporations rooted in such countries. In this view a “good migrant,” regardless of his or her status and condition, is respectful of law, flexible to market needs, and eager to contribute to the development of his or her country of origin.22

Towards an Alternative Agenda

The development of social alternatives must address two fundamental aspects. The first one has to do with deconstructing the power of capital and the state—a constituent, structural power that acts as a hegemonic force that must be confronted. Not doing so will nullify any attempt to develop alternatives and justify illusory, naïve, and irrelevant positions. The second consideration involves detecting points of weakness or rupture, or spaces from which subordinate social segments may generate social development alternatives. This challenge is at the center of the debate between those who attempt to achieve social change without seizing power (for example, by limiting change to institutional reform or developing non-capitalist economic forms of organization within capitalism) and those who propose the need for a thorough change: another world, a different economy and society, and a development that is more equitable and socially inclusive, and sustainable in terms of both the environment and livelihoods. Without going into details, it must be stressed that, from a South-based perspective, the current social order (or disorder) is perceived as an unfair, inhumane, and predatory system: there is a need for alternatives that contemplate genuine development.

From a critical perspective (that is to say, one that questions the institutional structure of neoliberalism and, more fundamentally, the structural dynamics of capitalism in order to promote development alternatives that benefit the majority of the population), sustainable human development is understood as a process of social construction that starts by creating awareness: the need for change, organization, and social participation in order to generate a popular power that can then strive for social emancipation. This involves eschewing socially alienated relations that deprive people of their merits, destroy the environment, and damage social coexistence.

There are several essential characteristics of sustainable human development. First, it must be centered on human life and conceived in opposition to capital and its demand for the highest possible profits. The realization of this first element is necessary but not sufficient, since it can remain in the realm of abstract humanism. Real human development requires social conditions that can enable equity and social justice on all social and spatial levels. Sustainability requires, in turn, that the strategy of development be feasible, realistic, and long-lasting, with solid social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental foundations.

Second, human development cannot be defined ex ante as a globally applicable model; it is not a prefabricated, one-size-fits-all design. It requires proposing and specifying concrete strategies, having initially addressed structural barriers, institutional restraints, local peculiarities, regional cultures, and the practices of involved social actors.

Third, building a strategic platform for social transformation capable of fuelling a counter-hegemonic social power demands the confluence of collective knowledge and intelligentsia at the service of the working class in alliance with social organizations and social movements. This project has already seen important advances, as evidenced by initiatives from within civil society such as the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights, the Global Coalition on Migration, and the World Social Forum on Migrations, among others. We need academics that reject being imprisoned in an ivory tower and are willing to work, hand-in-hand, with civil society organizations. For this crucial task much more networking through the development of alternative research agendas is needed. This implies the education of new generations of working class intellectuals or organic intellectuals.

To round-up our argument, the following theses set forth a series of strategic elements for advancing towards sustainable human development:

The current model of world accumulation and its power system cannot be dismantled nor shifted without the development of an autonomous and independent social power. There is currently no collective agent that can confront the power of big business (that is, the major multinational corporations, imperialist governments and their armies, international financial organizations, and the associated actors that provide them with ideological, diplomatic, and political support). There have been, however, major local, domestic, and international efforts to organize social groups and movements that have defended their rights from the neoliberal onslaught and proposed some alternative ideas and projects. Strategies for real human development will result from social construction processes carried out by organized groups, civil society, and progressive academia on the local, national and, above all, international level. The project for a counter-hegemonic social power cannot be postponed; it requires free, autonomous, and independent civilian organization. This project has already seen important advances, as evidenced by initiatives such as the International Peasant Movement Vía Campesina, the World Social Forum, the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights, and the World Social Forum on Migrations, among others.

The neoliberal state, guarantor of corporate profitability, should be replaced by the social state, promoter of human development. The resources of territories, nations, and populations are offered as low-priced (“competitive” in neoliberal jargon) raw materials in order to guarantee high profit margins, while institutions and public policies act as guarantors of corporate demands. This is why the reconstruction of the state is a fundamental requirement for true human development. Democratizing access to power through legitimate, legal, and transparent means and promoting a parliamentary agenda and a legal framework related to popular interests must be the first steps toward responsible state-based social development (e.g., a network of social protection that can guarantee that social efforts meant to generate surplus can be channeled toward redistribution mechanisms that aim for equality). The social state must safeguard the peasant economy, as well as universal public education, social security, decent employment, and the satisfaction of social needs such as food, education, and health. The social state bears social responsibility for power, capital (now redefined socially and not as an agent of class oppression), and the protection of labor and nature.

Elite democracy must be transformed into a truly representative and participatory democracy. The formal democracy embedded in many countries that have embraced neoliberalism has been confined to elections. Citizens, reduced to their minimal expression, are ritually called to deposit a ballot for a member of the political class that has been previously selected to represent the economic and political elites in the areas of government or parliamentary power. Encouraging the larger population actively to participate in public issues is an unavoidable requirement of alternative development. In addition to access to reliable information, said participation requires spaces for public reflection and decision-making. The system must encourage social organization and participation, and promote instruments of participation inherent to direct democracy (for example, affirmative action, plebiscites, referendums, and citizen initiatives).

The neoliberal strategy of global expansion must be replaced by a social transformation strategy centered on social sustainability. In the dominant accumulation model, labor and nature have been blindly overexploited to the point of unsustainability, with a complete disregard of the social and environmental costs. In contrast, social sustainability must fully guarantee human reproduction. This is not possible without encouraging a symbiotic relationship between the human population and nature—one that goes beyond radical conservationism. A strategy for sustainable human development also requires shifting the state’s developmental management so that it can control foreign investment, establish equitable and complementary commercial treaties, produce its own infrastructure for scientific and technological development, and, in general, fight all forms of unequal exchange and surplus transfer. New modes of integration and regional cooperation must be undertaken to exercise sovereignty.

Against the dominant trend towards structural unemployment, job insecurity, and superexploitation, a decent work agenda should be promoted. Driven by the compulsive quest for profit, private capital resorts to flexibilization, subcontracting, and unemployment to lower labor costs. Additionally, technological innovation tends to make workers dispensable. Extremely precarious categories have emerged in the labor market. We must disassemble the strategies behind labor instability and insecurity by demanding labor rights that will include access to a decent job, restitution of the social security system, and the advancement of human development in both the peripheral and core nations. Labor sovereignty is essential; we need state policies that guarantee full and decent forms of employment and working conditions.

Given the climate of structural violence and human insecurity, the defense of human rights should involve civil society as well as the state. The rights of big business openly surpass those of the population and the environment. A radical change in the system of values is needed to grant precedence to human rights across economic, labor, social, political, and cultural realms. Furthermore, we should consider the right to human development as a way of guaranteeing the fulfillment of basic needs; access to a decent, safe and well-paid jobs; the nurturing of analytic, creative, and artistic abilities; and access to participatory decision-making spaces. The problem of forced migration demands that we address the rights of migrants and their families in places of origin, destination, transit, and return. The right not to emigrate should be in place in the countries of origin. This implies creating a material and subjective infrastructure that allows the population to settle in an environment of generalized human development and common welfare capable of transforming migration into an option rather than a necessity.

The conclusion that we draw from the analysis is that the capitalist system in the current conjuncture is in crisis and given that every crisis weakens the social and institutional structure of the system, generating forces of change, it is important that the global working class not take a purely defensive position against the current imperialist offensive, but go on mobilizing the forces of resistance. It is also important that in this counteroffensive the global labor movement be strategic and form alliances with other forces of resistance that share its vision of a world beyond neoliberalism, imperialism, and, ultimately, capitalism.

Raúl Delgado Wise is president of the International Network on Migration and Development; UNESCO Chair on Migration, Development and Human Rights; and Professor of the Doctoral Programme in Development Studies at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico.

Notes

  1. John Bellamy Foster, Robert W. McChesney, and R. Jamil Jonna, “The Internationalization of Monopoly Capital,Monthly Review 63, no. 2 (June 2011): 3–18.
  2. UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Liberalization), World Investment Report, 2010 (New York: United Nations, 2010), http://unctad.org.
  3. Foster, McChesney, and Jonna, “The Internationalization of Monopoly Capital,” 18.
  4. Wladimir Andreff, “Outsourcing in the New Strategy of Multinational Companies: Foreign Investment, International Subcontracting and Production Relocation,” Papeles de Europa (2009): 18.
  5. William I. Robinson, Latin America and Global Capitalism: A Critical Globalization Perspective (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008); J. P. Singa Boyenge, “ILO Database on Export Processing Zones (Revised),” Working Paper 25, April, Sectoral Activities Programme, International Labor Organization, Geneva, 2007.
  6. Foster, McChesney, and Jonna, “The Internationalization of Monopoly Capital,” 12.
  7. Through economic liberalization, privatization, and deregulation policies, much of the manufacturing sector created throughout industrial substitution programs in peripheral countries was dismantled. In addition, the abandonment of the agricultural sector by the state derived in the unleashing of depeasantization processes.
  8. John Bellamy Foster, Robert W. McChesney, and R. Jamil Jonna, “The Global Reserve Army of Labor and the New Imperialism,” Monthly Review 63, no. 6 (November 2011): 20-21.
  9. OIT (Organización Internacional del Trabajo), Tendencias mundiales del empleo 2011: el desafío de la recuperación del empleo (Geneva: OIT, 2011).
  10. Humberto Márquez, and R. Delgado Wise, “Signos vitales del capitalismo neoliberal: Imperialismo, crisis y transformación social,” Estudios Críticos del Desarrollo I, no.1 (June–December 2011): 11–50.
  11. James B. Davies, et. al., “The World Distribution of Household Wealth,” in James B. Davies, ed., Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  12. Foster, McChesney, and Jonna, “The Internationalization of Monopoly Capital,” 20.
  13. Foster, McChesney, and Jonna, “The Global Reserve Army of Labor and the New Imperialism.”
  14. Raúl Delgado Wise and Humberto Márquez, “The Reshaping of Mexican Labor Exports under NAFTA: Paradoxes and Ch allenges,” International Migration Review 41, no. 3 (2007); R. Delgado Wise and James Cypher, “The Strategic Role of Mexican Labor Under NAFTA: Critical Perspectives on Current Economic Integration,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, no. 615 (2007): 120–42.
  15. World Bank, Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2011), http://siteresources.worldbank.org.
  16. Raúl Delgado Wise, Humberto Márquez, and Héctor Rodríguez, “Seis tesis para desmitificar el nexo entre migración y desarrollo,” Migración y Desarrollo, no. 12 (Spring 2009): 27–52.
  17. Raúl Delgado Wise, Humberto Márquez, and Ruben Puentes, “Reframing the Debate on Migration, Development and Human Rights,” Population, Space and Place 19, no. 4 (July-August 2013), forthcoming; Humberto Márquez, “La gran crisis del capitalismo neoliberal,” Andamios 13 (2010): 57–84.
  18. United Nations, World Economic and Social Survey 2004, International Migration (New York: UN, 2004), http://un.org; United Nations, Informe sobre desarrollo humano 2009–Superando barreras: movilidad y desarrollo humanos (New York: UN, 2010); Raúl Delgado Wise and Humberto Márquez, “Understanding the Relationship between Migration and Development: Toward a New Theoretical Approach,” Social Analysis 53 (2009): 85–105.
  19. For category one, see UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency), Global Trends 2010(Geneva: UNHCR, 2011), http://unhcr.org; for category two, see OIM (Organización Internacional para las Migraciones), Informe sobre las migraciones en el mundo 2008La gestión de la movilidad laboral en una economía mundial en plena evolución (Geneva: OIM, 2008); for category three, see United Nations, Informe sobre desarrollo humano 2009; and for category four, see Fernando Lozano and Luciana Gandini, “Migración calificada y desarrollo humano en América Latina y el Caribe,” Revista Mexicana de Sociología 73, no. 4 (2011): 675-713.
  20. Delgado Wise and Márquez, “Understanding the Relationship between Migration and Development.”
  21. Delgado Wise, Márquez, and Puentes, “Reframing the Debate on Migration, Development and Human Rights.”
  22. Martin Geiger and Antoine Pécoud, eds., The Politics of International Migration Management (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

The Instagram photo posted by an Israeli soldier showing what appears to be a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of his rifle has sparked outrage, as it should. Ali Abunimah was the first to report on this at the Electronic Intifada and it has since gone viral with major news outlets picking up the story.

This photo is not only disgusting but it’s also symbolic of the callousness with which Israel views Palestinian lives. Still, I find it unsettling that this picture has elicited far more outrage than the routine killing of unarmed Palestinian civilians ever has.

Where was this outrage last month when Israeli soldiers shot dead four unarmed Palestinians, among them children, in under a week?

Where is this outrage when Israeli soldiers drop bombs on Palestinian babies, use Palestinian civilians as human shields and massacre entire families?

This picture is not, as some would like to believe, the product of one bad apple among many good soldiers. It’s the product of decades of dehumanization that is inherent in military occupation. Just ask Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers committed to shedding light of the routine abuse of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. “This is what occupation looks like. This is what military control over a civilian population looks like,” wrote one member of the organization in a Facebook comment about the Instagram photo.

Yes, this photo should certainly spark outrage but so should the war crimes that precipitated it. In fact, I would argue that anyone surprised by the photo is absolutely clueless about what occupation and dominance over another people means.

I recall a similar uproar in response to American soldiers keeping body parts of Afghans they murdered as trophies. The same type of controversy erupted when a video surfaced showing US soldiers urinating on Afghan corpses. Meanwhile, just last week a NATO airstrike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including five women and four children, and barely anyone noticed.

As David Swanson observed on Twitter, “It’s not the murder we’re supposed to oppose but the photography, urination, mutilation, and inappropriate flag use.”

Israel’s War Criminal of the Year Award

February 20th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Imagining honoring crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Imagine calling war on humanity honorable.

Imagine granting a nation’s highest civilian award for waging it. It shouldn’t surprise. Obama will receive Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction. More on him below.

On February 18, Shimon Peres announced the award. It’ll be given during Obama’s March visit. It’s his first as president. He’ll get it at Peres’ Jerusalem residence. An Israeli press release said:

“It will be the first time in history that a serving president of the United States of America will receive an award of this kind from the president of the State of Israel.”

Peres’ spokesperson added:

“Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life. As president of the United States, he has stood with Israel in times of crisis.”

“During his time as president, he has made a unique contribution to the security of the State of Israel, both through further strengthening of the strategic cooperation between the two countries and through the joint development of technology to defend Israel against rockets and terrorism.”

In 2012, Peres established the award. Henry Kissinger among others received it. Israelis and non-citizens are eligible.

It’s given to those “who have made an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity, through their talents, services, or in any other form.”

At the 2012 award ceremony, Peres said:

“I’m old enough to know that people are no less important than ideas.”

“The world has learned to say ‘thank you,’ and it’s time that we also thank people of stature, people who set an example for the younger generation, so as to send a message that any person can be as great as his greatest action or thought.”

In announcing Obama’s award, he said:

“As president of the United States of America, (Obama) stood with Israel in times of crisis.”

“During his time as president, he has made a unique contribution to the security of the State of Israel, both through further strengthening the strategic cooperation between the countries and through the joint development of technology to defend against rockets and terrorism.”

He’s a “symbol of democratic values.” He “exemplifies the spirit of equality of opportunity in American society.”

Saying so turns truth on its head. Neither leader would recognize it if it bit them on their rumps.

The award replicates France’s Legion of Honor, the Order of Canada, and America’s Medal of Freedom.

In July 1945, Harry Truman authorized awarding it “to any person….who, or on after December 7, 1941, has performed a meritorious act or service which has aided the United States in the prosecution of a war against an enemy or enemies and for which an award of another United States medal or decoration is considered inappropriate.”

In February 1963, Jack Kennedy ordered it replaced by the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It’s awarded “for especially meritorious contributions to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

It mocks what it claims to represent. It replicates Nobel hypocrisy. War criminals are honored with disturbing regularity.

In June 2012, one war criminal honored another. Obama awarded Shimon Peres America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“The United States is fortunate to have many allies and partners around the world. Of course, one of our strongest allies, and one of our closest friends, is the State of Israel,” he said.

“And no individual has done so much over so many years to build our alliance and bring our two nations closer as the leader we honor tonight – our friend, Shimon Peres.”

“In him we see the essence of Israel itself – an indomitable spirit that will not be denied.”

Twelve other recipients were honored at the same time. Madeleine Albright was one. As UN envoy and Secretary of State, she prioritized war and genocide. She believed NATO should intervene militarily regardless of international law restrictions.

She was criminally involved in America’s Balkan wars. She was complicit in genocide against Iraqi civilians. She was unapologetic. She called murdering over half a million Iraqi children a small price to pay.

Obama honored her and Peres for mass murder. He’s responsible for decades of crimes of war and against humanity.

He did so as Knesset member, Deputy Defense Minister, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, other ministerial positions, Vice Premier, Prime Minister, and Israeli President.

He’s responsible for colonialism, apartheid, militarized occupation, and regional wars of aggression. His rap sheet includes no-holds-barred state terror. He helped institutionalize Israeli belligerence.

He ordered innocent victims slaughtered on his watch. He’s a serial killer multiple times over. He bears direct responsibility for crimes too grave to be ignored. He never once said he’s sorry. He’s a shameless example of rogue leadership.

In four years in office, Obama exceeded his worst crimes. In 2009, Nobel Committee members rewarded him for doing so. Their Peace Prize went to a war criminal. It wasn’t the first time.

Obama did what supporters thought impossible. He surpassed the worst of George Bush. He spurns inviolable international, constitutional, and US statute laws. He does so with impunity. He’s unapologetic.

His rap sheet includes betrayal and failure, governing for the monied interests that own him, and waging war on humanity. He’s heading America for full-blown tyranny and ruin. He mocks democratic values.

He’s waging daily terror war on Afghanistan. He’s doing the same thing in parts of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, and elsewhere. In 2011, he ravaged Libya. He’s destroying Syria today.

He’s got other targets in mind. He wants pro-Western puppets replacing all independent leaders. He wants Iran’s government ousted. He’s willing to wage war to do it.

He’s complicit in Israel’s worst crimes. He prioritizes war over peace. He enforces permanent war as policy. He wants unchallenged global dominance. He’s willing to destroy humanity to achieve it.

He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He’s guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. He appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He wants anyone he wishes killed on his watch. He institutionalized lawless domestic spying. He’s waging global cyberwar.

He wants diktat authority replacing constitutional rights. He tramples on personal freedoms. He spurns fundamental civil and human rights.

He’s contemptuous of essential needs. He wrecked America’s economy. He presided over the greatest wealth transfer in world history. He impoverished millions. He let unemployment, hunger and homelessness increase on his watch.

He prioritizes destroying America’s social contract, ending hard won labor rights, exploiting ordinary people for profit, commodifying education as another business profit center, rationing healthcare, putting predatory providers in charge, and persecuting whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, and Latino immigrants.

He calls environmental and animal rights activists terrorists. He considers freedom a threat to national security.

He represents the worst of rogue leadership. Humanity may not survive on his watch. Israel’s award signifies rewarding him for what demands condemnation, prosecution and imprisonment. Who said crime doesn’t pay?

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

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

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

Oakland, California: FBI Foils Another Fake Terror Plot

February 20th, 2013 by Karl Eisner

On February 8, federal authorities arrested a San Jose man for attempting to set off a car bomb outside a bank in Oakland, California. The charges filed against Matthew Llaneza, 28, stem from a months-long operation staged by the FBI’s South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force. The event is the latest in a long series of bogus terror plots hatched or otherwise encouraged by the federal government.

According to the sparse criminal complaint submitted 10 days ago, the government’s involvement with the Arizona native—a recent Muslim convert—dates back to November of last year, when undercover FBI agent Christopher Monika met with and convinced Llaneza that he was “connected with the Taliban and the mujahedin in Afghanistan.”

How or why Llaneza first became a target of the FBI goes unmentioned in the official narrative, but over the next several months Monika and Llaneza allegedly met several times to organize the bombing of an Oakland Bank of America branch—supposedly chosen because “the name of the bank and Oakland’s location as a center of protests made it an appropriate target.” The operation came to an end on February 8, when Llaneza tried to detonate an inoperable car bomb and was promptly arrested.

At no point did the plot pose a “threat to the public,” notes a press release from the US attorney’s office. Like a number of high-profile, supposed terror operations foiled by the US government over the past decade, every stage of the sham conspiracy had been created and carefully managed by the FBI. Virtually all of the key elements in the plot were in fact supplied by the federal government: a rented storage unit in Hayward, an SUV to deliver the would-be car bomb, the fake explosives and the expertise needed to assemble them.

According to the affidavit, Llaneza’s greatest tangible contribution to the scheme was the purchase of two cellphones and a nine-volt battery (on an outing with his undercover FBI handler, no less) that were later assembled by the authorities into a phony trigger device. Until February 8, when Llaneza took the lead and tried to detonate the inert explosives in Oakland, most of his involvement seems to have consisted of tagging along with his government sponsor.

There have been no allegations that Llaneza, depicted by the government’s criminal complaint as a calculating and committed pro-Taliban terrorist, had any ties to Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Absent any co-conspirators, any evidence of involvement with a terrorist organization, or even any evidence of independently trying to establish that involvement, undercover agent Monika was Llaneza’s sole connection to, and undoubtedly the driving force behind, the entire operation.

By all accounts, Matthew Llaneza is a mentally ill individual. Santa Clara county court documents from 2011 describe the man as psychotic and suffering from bipolar disorder, a record that was almost certainly known to the FBI before it began its sting operation in November of last year. Llaneza was involuntarily hospitalized and placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold by authorities in April 2011, after acting strangely and becoming combative at his father’s San Jose home. Police records show Llaneza claimed to be suicidal, with a history of substance abuse and mental health problems.

When police later discovered Llaneza’s ownership of an AK-47 assault rifle, brought from Arizona and illegal under California’s gun laws, he was convicted on weapons charges and sentenced to a brief jail term. “You would not have to spend more than a few minutes with him without it being painfully obvious that there were some severe psychological issues,” said Cameron Bowman, Llaneza’s former defense attorney. Legal proceedings against the accused are currently on hold until March 8, pending a possible review of his mental state and legal competency.

In light of the circumstances surrounding past government-manufactured terror plots, the FBI—known for its mass surveillance of and fishing expeditions for “radicals” among the Muslim population—most likely found in Llaneza another easy mark: a mentally unstable, suggestible figure who could be counted on to play his assigned part in a terror farce first created, and then thwarted, by the state security services.

With the help of a servile corporate media, these staged terrorist conspiracies are designed to put flesh on the bones of the Obama administration’s “war on terror” propaganda. When a genuine Al Qaeda plot to blow up a California bank is nowhere to be found, the Obama Justice Department simply invents one—all to keep alive a supposedly ubiquitous terrorist threat, cited for more than a decade to justify a permanent state of war abroad and police-state measures at home.

Repealing Obama’s “Perpetual War”

February 20th, 2013 by Norman Solomon

Congress waited six years to repeal the Tonkin Gulf Resolution after it opened the bloody floodgates for the Vietnam War in August 1964.

If that seems slow, consider the continuing failure of Congress to repeal the “war on terror” resolution — the Authorization for Use of Military Force — that sailed through, with just one dissenting vote, three days after 9/11.

Prior to casting the only “no” vote, Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke on the House floor. “As we act,” she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

We have. That’s why, more than 11 years later, Lee’s prophetic one-minute speech is so painful to watch. The “war on terror” has inflicted carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere as a matter of routine. Targets change, but the assumed prerogative to kill with impunity remains.

Now, Rep. Lee has introduced H.R. 198, a measure to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force. (This week, several thousand people have already used a RootsAction.org special webpage to email their Senators and House members about repealing that “authorization” for endless war.) Opposed to repeal, the Obama administration is pleased to keep claiming that the 137-month-old resolution justifies everything from on-the-ground troops in combat to drone strikes and kill lists to flagrant abrogation of civil liberties.

A steep uphill incline faces efforts to repeal the resolution that issued a blank political check for war in the early fall of 2001. Struggling to revoke it is a valuable undertaking. Yet even repeal would be unlikely to end the “war on terror.”

At the start of 1971, President Nixon felt compelled to sign a bill that included repeal of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. By then, he had shifted his ostensible authority for continuing the war on Vietnam — asserting his prerogative as commander in chief. Leaders of the warfare state never lack for rationales when they want to keep making war.

In retrospect, the U.S. “war on terror” has turned out to be even more tenacious than the U.S. war that took several million lives in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Some key similarities resonate with current circumstances. Year after year, in Congress, support for the Vietnam War was bipartisan. Presidents Johnson and Nixon preached against unauthorized violence in America’s cities while inflicting massive violence in Southeast Asia. Both presidents were fond of proclaiming fervent wishes for peace.

But unlike the horrific war in Southeast Asia, the ongoing and open-ended “war on terror” is not confined by geography or, apparently, by calendar. The search for enemies to smite (and create) is availing itself of a bottomless pit, while bottom-feeding military contractors keep making a killing.

Beyond the worthy goal of repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force is a need for Congress to cut off appropriations for the “war on terror.” A prerequisite: repudiating the lethal mythology of righteous war unbounded by national borders or conceivable duration.

What may be even more difficult to rescind is the chronic disconnect between lofty oratory and policies digging the country deeper into endless war.

“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war,” President Obama said in his 2013 inaugural address, after four years of doing more than any other president in U.S. history to normalize perpetual war as a bipartisan enterprise.

Repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force will be very hard. Revoking the power to combine lovely rhetoric with pernicious militarism will be even more difficult.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

As “the peril of guerrilla war looms” for the French in Mali, the United States prepares to step-up its intervention across Africa.

Speaking in Bamako on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Christopher Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated that direct U.S. military support of the Malian government is likely to resume after the country’s July elections.

“After there is a full restoration of democracy,” Coons said, “I would think it is likely that we will renew our direct support for the Malian military.”

(The U.S. suspended direct military aid to Mali following a coup last year by a U.S.-trained Malian officer.)

Coons went on to deem al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) a “‘very real threat’ to Africa, the United States and the wider world.”

According to U.S. intelligence officials, however, AQIM “remains mainly a regional menace,” with “no capacity” to launch attacks within the U.S.  Even so, the Pentagon continues to move closer to directly targeting AQIM targets.

As was first reported by the New York Times, the U.S. is currently in the midst of establishing a drone base in Niger.  The base will reportedly host up to “300 United States military and contractor personnel.”

“U.S. officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base,” the Times reported, “though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.”

But according to the Wall Street Journal, “at some point” is a moment which fast approaches, as senior U.S. officials are pressing to expand the U.S. “kill list” to include targets from northern Mali.

Meanwhile, in a prepared statement given to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee last week, U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriquez, who is poised to become the next commander of the U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), argued that greater U.S. intervention into northwestern Africa is necessary for “stability.”

“With the increasing threat of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” Gen. Rodriquez wrote, “I see a greater risk of regional instability if we do not engage aggressively. Our long-term fight against al-Qaeda necessitates persistent engagement with our critical partners.”

Likewise, Sebastian Elischer in a recent Foreign Policy piece, titled “After Mali Comes Niger,” argues that “If the West wants  prevent the Sahel from falling hostage to Tuareg and Islamist militants, longer-term military and financial engagement is urgently required.”

Of course, Pentagon plans for Africa do indeed stretch well beyond northern Mali.  A military doctrine of global “power projection” and “full spectrum dominance” dictates nothing less.

As part of his prepared remarks given to the Armed Services Committee, Gen. Rodriquez called for a 15-fold increase in U.S. intelligence-gathering missions in Africa.  This comes despite the fact that the U.S. has already established “about a dozen airbases” across Africa dedicated to “intelligence-gathering” just since 2007.

Even more foreboding, though, Gen. Rodriquez went on to call for the U.S. to enhance its Special Operations presence in a total of ten African states (Libya, Niger, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Nigeria, Mali, Cameroon, South Sudan, and Kenya).

As an October report in the New York Times noted, the U.S. has already allocated $8 million to train a Libyan force of up to 500 special commandos.  Yet as Christopher Chivvis of the Pentagon-friendly RAND Corp. writes, the U.S. needs to “take the lead” and do more in Libya, lest one wishes to imperil NATO’s hard won “stability.”

In addition to Libya, late last year AFRICOM announced plans to send 4,000 U.S. troops to nearly three dozen African states over the course of 2013 for the purpose of training African militaries.  The training is reportedly aimed at helping “African troops beat back a growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida.”

The targeting of Islamic extremists and al-Qaeda, though, is but a pretext for the U.S. to contain Chinese interests in Africa.  As Secretary of State John Kerry warned in his confirmation hearing, “China is all over Africa — I mean, all over Africa…And we got to get in.”

Indeed, for when asked whether the U.S. “pivot” to Asia would hamper AFRICOM’s mission, Gen. Rodriquez noted that, “The impact on the operations and activities of AFRICOM will be minimal. In fact, based on the interconnectivity between Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, AFRICOM’s activities may become more important.”

Of course, the U.S. adamantly denies it is seeking any confrontation with China.  As outgoing AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham recently commented in a question and answer session at Howard University, “Militarily, we are absolutely not in an adversarial relationship at all with China in Africa.  Economic competitors, I think absolutely.”

But the contradictions of global capitalism – namely, the cleavage between a world economy and a nation state system – threaten far more than peaceful economic competition between the U.S. and China.  For imperialist economic competition begets military confrontation.  As Lenin warned in his pamphlet Imperialism, even “a general alliance embracing all the imperialist powers… [is] inevitably nothing more than a ‘truce’ in periods between wars.”

This reality has already come to be recognized as a rising menace in East Asia by even the staunchest apologists of global capitalism.

It’s clear, then, that a renewed global race to secure markets and resources has begun in earnest.  And as Lenin asked: “is there under capitalism any means of removing the disparity between the development of productive forces and the accumulation of capital on the one side, and the division of colonies and ‘spheres of influence’ for finance capital on the other side – other than by resorting to war?”

The deepening U.S. military intervention into Africa and “pivot” to Asia is evidence enough of the reply from the American elite.  It appears the bloody road of imperial barbarism is not yet at its end.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.  He may be reached at [email protected] or via his website.

Everyone Knew Iraq Had No WMD … and Was Not Behind Anthrax Attacks or 9/11

Everyone knew that Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff – Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson – just said that Powell knew that there were no WMDs:

I wonder what will happen when we put 500,000 troops into Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and find nothing

(starting at 6:43 into video).

Rums Newly Released Memo by Donald Rumsfeld Proves Iraq War Started On False Pretenses

But war is sold just like soda or toothpaste … and so a false justification also needs to be concocted.  George W. BushJohn McCain, Sarah Palin, a high-level National Security Council officer, Alan Greenspan and others all say that the Iraq war was reallyabout oil.

It has been extensively documented that the White House decided to invade Iraq before 9/11:

Indeed, neoconservatives planned regime change .

The government tried to falsely blame the anthrax attacks on Iraq as a justification for war:

When Congress was originally asked to pass the Patriot Act in late 2001, the anthrax attacks which occurred only weeks earlier were falsely blamed on spooky Arabs as a way to scare Congress members into approving the bill. Specifically:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush and VP Cheney all falsely linked Iraq with 9/11 … and the entire torture program was aimed at establishing such a false linkage.

A new book by NBC News and Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff adds details, including a memo written by Rumsfeld in November 2001 – a year and a quarter   before the start of the Iraq war – asking how to start a war against Iraq, and suggesting as one potential “justification” for war:

US discovers Saddam connection to Sept. 11 attack or to anthrax?

Rums Newly Released Memo by Donald Rumsfeld Proves Iraq War Started On False Pretenses

Here is the whole memo:

1 74bfa9d607 Newly Released Memo by Donald Rumsfeld Proves Iraq War Started On False Pretenses

2 7f74c41013 Newly Released Memo by Donald Rumsfeld Proves Iraq War Started On False Pretenses

3 226040efcf Newly Released Memo by Donald Rumsfeld Proves Iraq War Started On False Pretenses

The Bush administration launched the Iraq war under false pretenses … unfortunately, Obama is no better.

What’s Causing the Epidemic of Gun Violence?

February 20th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Might Makes Right Based Violence By the Military Promotes Violence At Home

Gun control advocates point to all of the recent shootings as evidence that we should ban guns … or at least assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

On the other hand, gun rights advocates point to the surge in anti-depressants – and the fact that they cause violent symptoms in some percentage of users.

Prominent institutions, economists and politicians have warned for years that bad economic policy would lead to unrest.  See this, this, this, this and this.

But other countries with high gun ownership are much less violent than the U.S. … so there must be something unique about modern America.

What is it?

Charles Derber, Professor of Sociology at Boston College and Yale Magrass, Chancellor Professor of Sociology at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth provide an explanation at liberal website Truth Out:

In the flood of commentary about the Newtown massacre and broader US gun violence, liberals tend to blame failures of gun control while conservatives blame the mentally ill and Hollywood. But they are both missing one important and overlooked explanation: the domestic consequences of a militarized superpower engaged in chronic wars around the world.

The US spends more money on the military than the next ten countries together. It also has the highest level of domestic gun violence in the developed world. Highly militarized societies cannot compartmentalize foreign from domestic violence. They cannot prevent wars – and guns – from coming home.

***

Europe provides a clear contrast to the United States. Since World War II, as the United States became the sole superpower, Europe largely renounced militarism and war. Demilitarization is one of the reasons why many European countries, such as Sweden, have high levels of gun ownership for hunting and sports, but have one-tenth the US level of gun violence. Demilitarization weakens the cultural foundation of violence in civil society – If violence is not acceptable abroad, it can hardly be seen as honorable at home.

***

Even without a draft … ideas, values and profits emerging from the war sector flood civilian society, a torrent that a draft would only increase.

A militarized society develops a culture and institutions which program civilians for violence at home as well as abroad.

***

Mass killers often obsess over the military, even if they are not soldiers or veterans. At several school rampages, the killers were fixated on military equipment, war stories and the military bases near their schools. This was demonstrated by Michael Moore in his film on Columbine. One of the Columbine shooters lived on an Air Force base, which displays a plane with a plaque, proclaiming that it killed people in Vietnamese villages on Christmas Eve. Moore asks, “Don’t you think the kids say to themselves, ‘Dad goes to work everyday. He builds weapons of mass destruction. What is the difference between that mass destruction and the mass destruction over at Columbine High School?’”

New war technologies and policies may inspire even more violence. Drone warfare, as carried out by the Obama administration, targets and kills “enemy combatants, whether or foreign or American,” without judicial oversight. Each week, John Brennan, Obama’s nominee for head of the CIA brings Obama a “kill list,” with the names of people to be “eliminated.” As President Nixon declared, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” If the president can kill Americans in the name of honor and security, with nobody empowered to question his judgment, other Americans may decide they too can shoot to kill based on their own morals and view of the threat.

The military has been directly involved in shaping cultural attitudes for centuries.

***

A militarist state must raise boys ready and able to commit violence enthusiastically, providing it is directed against peoples whom their rulers deem enemies.

***

In his Farewell Address, President Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the penetration of the values and economic interests of the military-industrial complex into the heart of civil society.

***

As Martin Luther King lamented at the height of the war in Vietnam, “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”

We’ve repeatedly noted that corruption at the top leads to lawlessness among the people.

America is so blatantly waging illegal wars of aggression (and see Update II) on a  perennial and global  basis – and so obviously and disgustingly using illegal techniques to fight them – that the message Americans receive is that the law of the jungle controls, might makes right and killing to get your way is a-okay.

Navi Pillay is up to her old tricks: she’s abusing her position as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide a pretext for imperial aggression against Syria. Today, February 18, 2013, she repeated her call for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to be referred for investigation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the actions of his forces in trying to repel the western-back mercenary war against his country, which the UN says has killed almost 70000 in 22 months of fighting. And she went even further in calling for immediate action by the international community to end the killing, up to and including military intervention1  

What Pillay is seeking is an indictment (arrest warrant) against Assad so as to demonize the Syrian president and delegimitize his government in the eyes of western public opinion and to turn Assad into an international pariah in anticipation of a possible, full-scale, western, military but “humanitarian” intervention for regime change in Syria.

Pillay’s remarks of today represent an escalation in her crusade against the Syrian president and the steadfast support his government has enjoyed in the UN Security Council (UNSC) from both Russia and China, which are permanent members of the UNSC and, therefore, have veto powers. Previously, Pillay had made an effort to temper her condemnation of the Syrian president by linking it to a condemnation of the crimes against humanity perpetrated (and even filmed!) by the foreign-backed mercenaries. 2

For example, on Friday, January 25, 2013, on CNN’s International News broadcast at noon 3, she was interviewed from Davos, Switzerland, (at the World Economic Forum, where high-level technocrats scheme about running the world’s economy for the next year on behalf of the 1%) by anchor, Hala Gorani, on the question of alleged and widespread human rights abuses in Syria.

While videos of the unfortunate families of refugees fleeing Syria were flashed upon the screen, Pillay  indicated that she was increasingly frustrated by the failure of Russia and China (“and several other states”) to allow the United Nations Security Council to refer the request by 58 member countries of the United Nations for an investigation into the alleged human rights abuses by both sides in Syria to the ICC.

The January 25th CNN interview was only the latest of similar interviews of Pillay by CNN 4 and other mainstream media outlets, following the issue of a proposed ICC investigation into human rights abuses in Syria. So, why is this crusade on Pillay’s part important to CNN? Why does she get so much air time in the West? The answer is that  governments and corporate media in the West are counting on Pillay to provide the same kind of pretext for regime change in Syria that she provide against the Gaddafi government of Libya.

THE LIBYAN PRECEDENTS

 Two very useful precedents for illegal, but so-called “humanitarian”, intervention by NATO were set by  the United Nations in regards to Libya. The first was that the doctrine of the responsibility to protect was successfully invoked, for the very first time, as a legal grounds for over-riding the fundamental principle of national sovereignty as the basis of international law.

R2P holds that, if a government cannot protect the human rights of its own citizens, the international community may step in to do so. In the case of Libya, R2P was used to justify United Nations Resolution 1973, the motion that authorized NATO to create a no-fly zone over Libya.  Resolution 1973  was perverted by NATO within hours into a full-blown military intervention for regime change in Libya that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Libyans, pogroms against black persons resident in Libya, the assassinations of Muammar Gaddafi and members of his family, massive infrastructure damage, the de facto partitioning of the country, and a failed state machine.

But the first precedent (above) could not have been realized without the fancy legal footwork executed  in advance by the nimble Navi  in demonizing  Mouammar Gaddafi and his son, Saif, at the UN. The second precedent, then, was the initiative taken by the UN Human Rights Council, chaired by Pillay, in calling for an international inquiry into violence against civilians in Libya.  This call for an inquiry led the International Criminal Court, acting in the interests of the US empire and other neo-colonial powers such as France, Italy, and Britain, to obtain an indictment against the late, former leader of Libya, Mouammar Gaddafi and his son, Saif, for alleged human rights abuses by the Libyan government against Libyan civilians. In fact, the entire bureaucracy of the United Nations was completely finessed by the Empire in using fabricated abuses of human rights of Libyan civilians as an excuse to delegitimize, unseat, and demonize the legitimate government of Libya so as to manoeuvre the National Transitional Council of Libya [NTC] (organized and supported by all of the western powers)  into the position of being recognized internationally as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. This manoeuvre, in turn, helped provide a further pretext for the NATO regime change operation in Libya.

The wholesale replacement of the official Libyan government representatives at the UN by those of the NTC was achieved in several rapid steps.  First, on February 25, 2011,  at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC),  representatives of more than 70 human rights NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) were assembled in Geneva, Switzerland, on a petition initiated by UN Watch (a pro-Israeli NGO) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to hear a litany of accusations of human rights violations on the part of the Gaddafi government by Dr. Soliman Bouchuiguir, who spoke for the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR).

The LLHR was closely tied to the NTC and had, in fact, some executive members in common with it. No evidence of the human rights abuses that the Libyan government was alleged to have committed against Libyan civilians was ever entered as evidence. Libya was a member of the UNHCR but its membership had been temporarily suspended prior to the emergency meeting.

Therefore, it was not allowed to answer the charges levelled by the LLHR, an organization directly connected to the western-backed opposition. Navi Pillay, as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, chaired the meeting. She is quoted as saying, “The Libyan leader must stop the violence now.” And she pointed out that Libya was a member of the Human Rights Council and pledged to respect human rights, and was also a State party to various international human rights treaties. 5  It was also at this meeting that “a statement (was) delivered on behalf of all of the Council’s independent human rights experts (who) endorsed the High Commissioner’s call for an international inquiry into the violence, stressing that the international community should “act without delay” to protect civilians from serious human rights violations.” 6  The UNHCR report was duly forwarded to the Security Council which formally suspended Libya from its seat on the UNHRC.

Shortly following the emergency meeting, Libya was prevented from appointing a new ambassador  to the United Nations, following the defection of its two representatives at the UN to the opposition. 7 Despite having gone over to the opposition, the two defectors were granted “courtesy passes” allowing them access to the Security Council chamber where they delivered anti-Gaddafi remarks. Libya responded by naming former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister  (under the revolutionary Sandinista government of the 1980′s) Rev. Miguel D’Escoto Brockman as its new Permanent Representative to the UN. D’Escoto Brockman had also served as a former Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly. However, his attendance at the UN was blocked by Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, because he was on a tourist visa to the USA and not a diplomatic visa. D’Escoto Brockman rightly criticized UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon of betraying the UN Charter and called the UN “a lethal weapon of the Empire.” 8

On March 28, 2011, Al Jazeera, the TV mouthpiece of the Qatari monarchy, an ally (with very deep pockets) of NATO in the Persian Gulf, first broadcast the Viagara libel. 9 In this narrative, which rivals the fantasies of the Kuwaiti incubator babies (a pretext for the First Gulf War) and of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (the pretext for the Second Gulf War), the Libyan government of Mouammar Gaddafi was accused of encouraging the mass rapes of Libyan civilian women by distributing the drug, Viagara, to its troops. There turned out to be no evidence whatsoever of this wild accusation.

But that did not prevent all the major mainstream media outlets of the West from repeating it. Nor did it deter Susan Rice and her boss, US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, from condemning Gaddafi. Finally, following the condemnation by Clinton,  Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor for the ICC at the time, issued an indictment (basically an arrest warrant) against Mouammar Gaddafi and his son, Saif, effectively turning them into pariahs and accused international war criminals.

There were three problems for the ICC and for Libyan civilians in indicting the Gaddafis, not the least of which was the lack of evidence. The other two were the ICC’s own record and the consequences of the Viagara libel. The ICC’s record was very sketchy to say the least. In his decade of tenure as chief prosecutor,  twenty-nine Africans were indicted by Ocampo but only one was convicted and not on the original charges contained in the indictment.10   11  In every instance when the ICC, under his leadership, became involved with political leaders, the leaders indicted were always African and at odds with the foreign policy goals of the USA.  It should be noted that the USA has not accepted the jurisdiction of the the court over its own citizens, who have immunity from ICC prosecution. In other words, the ICC is a one-way street along which the racist and neo-colonial goals of US foreign policy are driven in Africa, but the crimes of racism and neo-colonialism go unpunished. The ICC has never issued an indictment for war crimes or human rights abuses against the likes of George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Stephen Harper, Nikolas Sarkozy, and David Cameron, nor is it ever likely to do so.

Finally, the indictment issued for allegedly distributing Viagara to its troops was part of a racist campaign in the West suggesting falsely that the Gaddafi government had so little support among the people of Libya that the Libyan leader had to resort to hiring black mercenaries from Sub-Saharan Africa to retain his hold on power. The old shibboleth of black men raping light(er)-skinned women played very well, as would be expected, in the mainstream media of the USA, Britain, Canada, France, and other mainly white countries, where a latent pool of racism lays just below the surface of the consciousness of a certain part of the population and where an ersatz concern for the welfare of women is used as a rationale to wage war on foreign peoples, as in Afghanistan, and now in Mali. 12

The results for black Libyans (one-third of the total Libyan population) and the hundreds of thousands of black migrant workers resident in Libya were absolutely catastrophic, including mass arrests, beatings, thefts, kidnappings, torture, lynchings, and ethnic cleansing. For a thorough assessment of this chapter in NATO’s war of terror on Libya, please refer to Maximilian Forte’s excellent new book, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s war on Libya and Africa, published by Baraka Books of Montreal.

NAVI PILLAY, the ICTR, and ICC

Pillay was not just complicit in paving the way for a NATO military intervention in Libya. She previously established her international credentials as a servant of the US Empire in the aftermath of a US-sponsored proxy war of conquest in Rwanda. As President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, she exercised power on behalf of the US victors (and their ex-patriate Tutsi proxy warriors) by dispensing a sub-standard form of “justice” to the losers (officials and supporters of the former majority Hutu government) . For a comprehensive account of that war and the humanitarian tragedy it caused, please see  Robin Philpot’s, Rwanda 1994: Colonialism Dies Hard 13 and Michel Chussodovsky’s “The US was behind the Rwandan Genocide. Rwanda: Installing a US Protectorate in Central Africa.”  14

Similarly, she served as a justice of the International Criminal Court at the Hague (alongside prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, mentioned above) dealing with a number of  black leaders of countries who had run afoul of US foreign policy goals in Africa.

PILLAY AND WESTERN MILITARY INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

The Western-backed mercenary war for regime change in Syria began in early 2011. 15 It was formally funded at a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria” conference on April 1, 2012, in Istanbul, which was attended by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird as well as representatives of about 70 countries. 16

What is less known, however, was that Canada was deeply involved in setting up the Friends of Syria group at a pre-conference meeting in Tunisia in December, 2011. 17 At the Istanbul conference, the participants established a division of labour regarding the mercenary war on Syria. The US committed to provide “communications equipment”, the absolute monarchs of Qatar and Saudi Arabia pledged vast sums of money, while Canada undertook to provide $8.5 million in humanitarian aid (to Syrian refugees) and in “opposition assistance.” 18

Sending mercenaries to fight for regime change within a sovereign country is a war crime, according to the Nuremberg Principles and the London Charter of 1945. It is also a violation of the very first article of the UN Charter. 19 As well, it  amounts to interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, which sovereignty is the cornerstone of all international law. Even to threaten regime change in a sovereign country is a violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter. 20 Furthermore, all of the heinous crimes perpetrated by the western-backed mercenaries in Syria, some of which were videotaped by the mercenaries themselves for the entire world to see, and which include extralegal assassination of civilians, execution of military prisoners, destruction of civilian infrastructure, bombing public places (such as schools) and thereby killing and injuring civilians, and many more, are themselves violations of the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war, not to mention the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At the same time as various western and Gulf states were waging this mercenary war on Syria, virtually all of them, including Canada, 21 had signed onto the UN and Arab League Six-Point Peace Plan for Syria which called for a Syrian-led, negotiated settlement of the crisis, notably without calling for the removal of Syrian President Assad. 22 Similarly, they had adopted a communiqué on June 1, 2012 in Geneva, advocating a  political solution, involving the participation of the current government of Syria.  23   UN Special Envoys, Kofi Annan and Lakhtar Brahimi, were charged with facilitating the negotiated end of the crisis and engaged in shuttle diplomacy between Moscow, Iran, Egypt, Istanbul and many other capitals for many months. At the UN Security Council, Russia and China used their vetoes on at least three occasions to block further economic sanctions against Syria as well as resolutions authorizing a western military intervention in Syria.

As early as  August 2011, Navi Pillay was engaged with the issue of human rights abuses in this theatre of war. Not surprisingly (given her track record), she completely ignored the UN Charter and international law and sided firmly with the western and Gulf states who were underwriting and organizing the undeclared mercenary war against Syria, while at the same professing support for the UN’s Six-Point Peace Plan. In August of 2011, she urged the Security Council to refer the issue of widespread human rights abuses in Syria to the ICC. 24  She repeated this call at the UN and in the media in December of 2011, several times more in 2012, and most recently in January of 2013, when, for example, she was interviewed by Hala Gorani on CNN. She also complained about the Russian and Chinese governments’ use of their Security Council vetoes to oppose resolutions targetting Syria. In her briefing to the UN General Assembly on February 13, 2012, for example, she stated her one-sided view that “the failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian Government to launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force.” 25 And, in calling for the matter to be referred to the ICC for investigation, she unquestioningly  and consistently has quoted the dubious casualty figures supplied by the foreign-backed Syrian opposition.26

We can now see why CNN and other western mainstream media are so interested in following the Navi Pillay story: as in Libya and Rwanda, where Navi Pillay was a player, the present narrative justifying western military intervention in Syria invokes the responsibility to protect the human rights of civilians, which allegedly cannot be guaranteed by the target government. Against the backdrop of ordinary civilians fleeing Syria in their hundreds of thousands (which did not occur before the start of the western-backed mercenary war), Navi Pillay is portrayed as being on the side of the angels.

Humanitarian intervention is a powerful tool in the West, where even people on the “left”, who should know better, fall for it. Take, for instance, the most recent petition by 58 countries to UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon to approach the Security Council to refer to the ICC  an investigation into widespread human rights abuses in Syria. The petition was initiated behind closed doors by the USA and spearheaded at the United Nations by the UK, because of two issues. The first is the consternation (and surprise) of western states with the steadfast opposition of Russia and China at the Security Council to any such resolution, because those two veto-wielding powers learned the hard way, through their losses in Libya 27, that such an investigation would lead inexorably to an indictment by the ICC of President Assad and provide a pretext for a western military intervention in Syria. The second issue was that Syria never ratified the Treaty of Rome which established the International Criminal Court. Therefore, like the USA, its citizens cannot be prosecuted by it. These difficulties are formidable for the success of such a petition. Nonetheless, as in the case of Libya and Rwanda, creative sidestepping of the rule of international law is a specialty of legal counsellors of the empire such as Navi Pillay. The next few months will probably see her tirelessly working her tricks to achieve that end.

It should be noted, however, that the Syrian government responded directly to Pillay and the 58-country petition with a statement of its own on January 18, 2013, terming the initiative “the wrong approach.” 28  Instead, the Syrian government called, among other things, for an end to the foreign-backed mercenary war, the end of jihadist fatwas resulting in brutalities against civilians, and the lifting of sanctions.

The problems with the petition cited above did not faze the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME). In its statement of January 15, 2013, 29  CJPME stated that it applauded the decision of 58 countries to ask the UN Security Council to refer the Syrian situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation: ” ‘If the Security Council acts on the request, it will send a powerful signal to both the Syrian government and the opposition that war crimes and human rights violations cannot be committed with impunity,’ says CJPME President Thomas Woodley.” The statement also includes a reference to a report by Human Rights Watch that blames both the Syrian government and foreign-backed opposition with human rights abuses.

CJPME should know better. In fact, war crimes and human rights violations are committed continuously and with complete impunity by the western powers. The USA has invaded over sixty countries since the end of World War ll while the hands of the former colonial powers, stained in the blood of the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America, are once more reaching for the resources of Libya, Syria, and Mali.  The continuing oppression of the Palestinian people is a due to western governments’ carte blanche attitude to Israeli aggression. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the National Endowment for Democracy have all provided the human rights figleaf for western interventions in Iraq, Libya, Rwanda, and many other countries, by repeating and circulating allegations of abuses of human rights, which, after the fact, are proven to be false.

Another group that should know better is the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR). Two days before Muammar Gaddafi was taken prisoner, sodomized, and executed by Libyan “rebels” with the assistance of Western special forces on the ground,  30 Jillian Siskind, President of CLAIHR, was writing in The Mark and giving video interviews about the fact that Canadians should be proud of our country’s participation in military operations, such as in Libya, relating to the responsibility to protect. She wrote: “Canadians and our government should be proud of our contribution to international peace and security – not just our participation in the collective action of R2P, which attempts to bring greater security and a safer future to populations whose rights have been trampled upon, but also our leadership role in the great effort that resulted in the R2P doctrine. The principles that we set forth have now been established as an international norm. On this 10th anniversary of R2P, we should be celebrating our contribution to international law…” 31

It appears that there is a sort of collective amnesia amongst some circles in the West regarding military interventions. The military interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Libya, in every case, made things worse for the majority of civilians: massive infrastructure destruction, deaths in five to seven figures, homelessness, lawlessness (and lack of personal security), partition and/or failed state status, ethnic cleansing, birth defects (due to the use of depleted uranium shells), long-lasting psychological problems for children, and a worsening standard of living for the target country’s general population. No matter how much a failure the last intervention was in protecting the human rights of the civilians in the target country, those amnesiacs, such as the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights,  are always chomping at the bit to begin the next.

During a recent visit on the part of the executive committee of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War to the three sitting New Democratic members of parliament for Hamilton, one of the MP’s asked, “Can you not see any possible case in which the doctrine of the responsibility to protect would be justified?”

The head of the HCSW delegation replied that, given the unequal distribution of power in the contemporary world, military interventions can only be mounted with the backing of the great powers of the world, who, of necessity, will pick and choose where to intervene (or not to intervene) based on their own national interests.

As the current international struggle over Syria unfolds with greater rapidity and danger – Patriot missile batteries in Turkey (which enable NATO to create a back-door, no-fly-zone over Syria); an Israeli airstrike on a Syrian research facility; US and British special forces on the ground co-ordinating with the foreign-backed mercenaries; the presence of a large US naval fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean, including at least one Canadian frigate;  unsubtle NATO threats to seize Syrian chemical weapons; the Iranian government assertion that it regards an attack on Syria as an attack on Iran – Canadians need to be wary of crass appeals to their genuine humanitarian instincts posed by the Syrian refugee crisis and  widespread abuse of human rights in Syria.

Navi Pillay, pretext-maker for imperial aggression, is almost within reach of her presidential target in Syria. Don’t fall for her tricks.

 

Ken Stone is a veteran anti-war and anti-racist activist and Treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop The War. (www.hamiltoncoalitiontostopthewar.ca)

Notes

1 http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/02/18/probe-assad-for-war-crimes ;

2http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVWZDWlkq7g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djnv4DgqYzg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOsVHxKAiX8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvL9IuuFkac

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX4jzn1UgiA ;

3http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2013/01/25/idesk-intv-pillay-impact-of-syrian-civil-war.cnn ;

4http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/02/un-commissioner-60000-killed-in-syria-since-march-2011/ Pillay was previously interviewed on CNN on the subject of Syrian refugees on January 2, 2013;

5 UN News Centre, February 25, 2011,

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37626#.UQv7H2dA08A ;

6 ibid;

7Maximilian Forte, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s war on Libya and Africa, Baraka Books, Montreal, 2012, page 248;

8ibid, page 249;

9ibid, page 253;

10http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1206605—international-criminal-court-prosecutor-reaches-end-of-his-term-with-mixed-record;

11 http://www.globalresearch.ca/waging-an-illegal-us-nato-led-war-on-syria-with-the-endorsement-of-international-criminal-law/5311556 ;

12http://www.thespec.com/news/world/article/879242–women-of-timbuktu-remembering-their-dance-steps . Thanks to the French military intervention in Mali, we are led to believe that the status of women has been restored in Mali. In Afghanistan, we have been told by the Harper government of Canada, that the status of women there has been improved by NATO occupation. Actually, the standard of living of all Afghans has dramatically deteriorated during the eleven-year-old war which has seen an increasing number of self-immolations by desperate Afghan women unable to provide for their children ;

13  http://www.taylor-report.com/Rwanda_1994/ ;

14  http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO305A.html

15 The western military intervention in Syria was actually planned as early as 2007. Please see chapter 14, “NATO and the Levant: Lebanon and Syria”, of M. D. Nazemroaya’s new book, The Globalization of NATO, published by Global Research, 2012;

16  http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/04/01/world-syria-istanbul-conference.html ;

17   http://o.canada.com/2012/02/21/baird-to-attend-friends-of-syria-meeting-in-tunis/ ;

18 http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/photos/2012/04/01a.aspx?view=d ;

19  http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml ;

20  ibid;

21http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2012/06/30/canada_calls_for_solution_to_syrian_crisis_backs_un_plan_for_peace.html ;

22  http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/sc10583.doc.htm ;

23http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2012/07/01/full-text-action-group-for-syria-final-communique/ ;

24http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40596&Cr=Syria&Cr1=&Kw1=navi+pillay+&Kw2=syria&Kw3=#.UQyIy2dA08A ;

25http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41216&Cr=Syria&Cr1=#.UQyO5mdA08A  ;

26 According to journalist Robert Fisk, the casualty figures jumped 15,000 in one week. Public lecture, Hamilton, Ontario, January 28, 2013;

27 Both Russia and China suffered from the overthrow of the Libyan government led by Muammar Gaddafi, not only in terms of the loss of their prestige in being hoodwinked by NATO’s abuse of UN Resolution 1973 (the no-fly-zone), but also in terms of business contracts and loans that were nullifed by the new Libyan government. Public lecture, Dr. Atif Kubursi, September 13, 2012, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Audio record: http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/63312; video record: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6rvEpmRUkw&feature=youtu.be

28  http://www.sana-syria.com/eng/21/2013/01/18/462534.htm ;

29http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=7zk64gcab&v=001rxOp_4aBK0qVHcF41BMcDE_eC-CzMClmzKN_u4-De_6uHuwI-25Gw6RiHuIQgjRAVCaMMPaax2H_2qHgTdJ7wmmEa9rgH-CAnm6YMjVxf_aEKT4usOY0VknWLsEn-zsZO4a6LCR2uSpcQB-W0oeOc-g7RD-cZkX-nWlaIShzuWplMbwjwBbkASmdjERXRt7erlVwI9B6tXhzCYktzEfHKUMSA0RskGeInaHcnBsWmdybD7Fa26i8MES1GO9L1KJkT-IIAQvClpAkjLIIxX-2C2AwMPiJVWfFK3QcijGFxhubUBXhRgSa0doWMtMRMa2V-b5-En391dtMtoTRILeVuWHGUCp50XSwGjeoHuKVuvRoXnZz3t4DPTdrVw5dQZPipaXR29IuUcE%3D ;

30 Maximilian Forte, in a radio interview with Phil Taylor on the “Taylor Report”, CIUT 89.5 (University of Toronto Radio, January 28, 2013) http://www.radio4all.net/responder.php/download/65993/73295/86423/?url=http://www.radio4all.net/files/[email protected]/16-1-SyriaMaliLibya.mp3;

31Jillian Siskind, The Mark, October 19, 2011. http://www.themarknews.com/articles/7072-canada-and-the-responsibility-to-protect/#.URMzrWdA08A.

 

                                                                                                                                                           

 

 

For many years Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has been heavily criticised for its ideological management of aid funds. Known for its ties to right-wing religious groups and its unwavering pro-Israeli stance, the Harper government has cut the funding of organisations such as KAIROS working to promote, among other objectives,  Palestinian human rights.

The Conservatives recently decided to review the funding of projects in Haiti, arguing there was a “lack of progress”.

We will recall, however, that “progress” in Haiti was greatly hindered when the US with the support of  Canada and France orchestrated a coup d’état against Haiti’s very popular and democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Aristide was to implement measures to improve the living conditions of most Haitians, a move feared by the Haitian elite and their foreign partners making profits from the slavery-like conditions of most Haitians.

A Conservative government would have probably acted just like the Liberals did at the time.

Both the mainstream and alternative media suggest that the Harper government has scrapped the well-established and neutral institution of foreign aid, which was not prone to being influenced by the ruling party’s political and financial interests:

“The issue here is the reversal, by Stephen Harper, of a 60-year consensus shared by all previous governments about the central role of civil society in Canada. Every previous government has funded civil society groups and NGOs even when they espoused policies that contradicted the government’s own. Governments might have done so grudgingly and not as generously as some of us hoped. But it has been one of the quiet glories of Canadian democracy that our governments have often backed groups that criticized them or had competing priorities.

No more. With Stephen Harper, you either buy the party line or you get slapped down.” (Gerry Caplan, Kairos case is a reminder of the real Harper agenda, rabble.ca,February 20, 2011.)

To say that “every previous government has funded civil society groups and NGOs even when they espoused policies that contradicted the government’s own” is an incorrect statement. The  book Paved with Good Intentions – Canada’s Development NGOs from idealism to imperialism “uncovers the darker side of the role played by NGOs.”

Like most developed countries, Canadian development NGOs have in fact served Canada’s foreign and domestic interests, and it is not only since the present Conservative government took power that NGOs have served Canadian as well as US foreign policy objectives.

Global Research met with one of the authors of the book, Nik Barry Shaw, who explains the origins of development NGOs in Canada and how they are serving political interests.

Here is the first part of the interview.

How and when did you discover the influence of government funding on NGOs?

It started as a conjecture. We were involved in Haiti solidarity activism in the early 2000s and heard many sources criticising NGOs. We knew that their position in Haiti was a hundred per cent in line with the foreign policy interests inCanada. This influence obviously happens behind closed doors and it is hard to demonstrate.

In the late 60s and the 70s, with the antiwar movements and the influence of the liberation theory, a handful of NGOs tried to go in a radical direction doing things which activists nowadays should be doing: criticise Canadian foreign corporate interests in the Global South, in South Africa, Guatemala, the mining interests in Chile, Canada’s foreign policy alignment with the US empire, etc. That criticism became an important part of their work and lots of projects were influenced by what they called the ‘ideology of solidarity’, which was saying to Canadians: “We need to fight on the side of the oppressed in these countries.”

From the beginning, the funding of the NGOs was governmental; it started out as a creation from government and they were looser with the control. They probably did not expect anything to go off the rails, like CUSO – an NGO founded by Keith Spicer and other people who had ties to universities, and the Liberal Party of Canada. They went to Lester B. Pearson and appealed for funding, and a lot of NGOs did the same. CUSO was the first NGO funded by a government. The largess that it received from the government pushed others to ask for funding and that spurred the creation of a matching grant system.

It started as a governmental creation explicitly as a way of winning over ordinary Canadians to the idea that Canada has to be up on the world stage, and that our duty in the Cold War was to develop the Third World, and that NGOs would create that human connection with Canadians and the aid program because otherwise it wouldn’t exist and would have no real relevance for ordinary Canadians

But it’s funny that a handful of them, including CUSO, the biggest NGO at the time, ended up doing the opposite! They made a case against aid and Canada’s foreign policy and went at the root of the issue which was that the corporations dominated the world economy, and the foreign policy of Western governments played a role in that domination and furthered it and were impoverishing the Global South. That, of course, was unacceptable.

So this led to increasing tensions between NGOs and the government, which started increasing control into the funding, eventually cutting it all in the case of CUSO in 1979. They were told they were not getting money until they reorganised their whole structure. Up until this time, under the influence of the more radical elements, they had been pushing toward a more democratic direction, giving more influence to the people in the field, decentralising and allowing programs to be developed by people outside the head office.

The government said, “We are getting rid of the democratically elected board of directors, replacing them with a bunch of people flown from the outside and we’re going to recentralise decision making power back in the hand of the home office.” They wanted someone that was accountable to them not accountable to people in Tanzania they had been working with, for example. So we discovered that there were very clear and very public instances of where the government stepped in and really imposed its agenda on organisations that received government funding.

In the past few years, cuts from the Harper government, related for example to NGOs defending Palestinian human rights, have given the impression that agenda-driven NGO funding is a new trend initiated by the Harper government when in fact government funding has practically always been aligned with foreign policy.

Yes, the first example in the book is in 1970-1975 when CCIC (Canadian Council for International Cooperation) had their funding cut after they organised a delegation to a UN conference in Rome on the food crisis at the time. Look how things change! They criticised very strongly the Canadian government’s position and that echoed back home and led to a pretty big overhaul of the food aid program, which in some ways ameliorated it, but the main impact was that the Liberal government, run by Trudeau at the time cut their funding.

There is definitely a parallel between what was happening internationally with development NGOs and what was happening domestically with community organisations. Trudeau wanted to create a participatory society so a lot of money was given to those orgs but always with conditions and strings attached. In Marxist terms it’s building the hegemony, the idea that the ruling class will appropriate the initiatives and ideas of oppositional movements and turn them into something that is harmless and defends the existing order. So it may seem like the rulers are willing to reform when in fact they absorb the oppositional elements, neutralize them and use them to defend the status quo.

It is basically what we call manufacturing dissent?

Yes. And it’s been going on for a long time.

How did you get the idea of writing about the inner workings of NGO funding?

Through my involvement in Haiti solidarity and the conflicts we had with development NGOs throughout 2004-2005. We expected these organisations who are for democracy and human rights to obviously be opposed to what was happening [the US-French and Canadian coup d’état] in Haiti because it was so blatant, how could they not? [To read more about Haiti and the coup d’état against the first democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, see our file here.]

Do you think these NGOs defended the military intervention deliberately or that they got caught in the propaganda against Aristide?

It’s complex. At the time we were just a bunch of anglo kids with some connections to the Haitian community that was opposed to the coup and we lacked experience and credibility. So we got in touch with other people, tried to build allies in the struggle, and they would tell us, “Well, I know someone at Development and Peace or Alternatives and they’ve been working on this issue for years and they’re good people and they say you’re completely wrong, so – end of discussion.”

It was difficult because they would not look at the facts, but would decide on the basis of their contacts. And if you told them, “You took all this money from the government and have this position on Haiti because of Canada’s implication in the coup, you are sold out, you’re a tool,” they would reply, “No, we’re not a tool, we were faithfully reflecting the position of our partners in Haiti.” And it’s true, they were.

Alternatives worked with a group called The Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA), headed by Camille Chalmers, an economist at the state university in Haiti, and regroups a bunch of left leaning, anti-neoliberal NGOs and it’s true they reflected their position. But the next question is why were they getting funding? Who were the groups that were getting funding? How come you were working with them and not some pro Lavalas groups [President Aristide’s party]? How come there is not one NGO in Canada that was working with the government, that happened to support the government or at least was not vehemently opposed to Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas movement? And we’re talking about a movement that had 50-60 per cent support, and overwhelmingly amongst the poor.

So are these NGOs being dishonest? I think a lot of it is that you buy into your own thing, especially for the left NGOs. They’ll say, “We’re working with the grassroots, we’re working with the civil society, with the people who are really struggling to change things.” You need to believe that if you’re going to do the work. But it’s not true. Who is Camille Chalmers? Who’s PAPDA? Who’s SAKS and all the NGOs they’re working with? They’re middle class Haitians! University educated, very far from the base, living a comfortable life, they have air-conditioned offices, they are set apart on a class basis from the rest of the society and their positions reflected that.

In the second coup it was overwhelmingly the tiny middle class and the bourgeoisie with members of the former dictatorship against the rest of society, against the government and its supporters in the slums and the countryside.

But the NGOs don’t see that because these groups give up on class analysis and can’t acknowledge the fact that the groups they are working with are not actually that grassroots and are not that connected to ordinary people, because that destroys the whole lies of NGOs, because they’re supposed to work directly with the poor people, the grassroots and social movements or whatever the buzzword they use at the time. They see themselves as working directly with the people, whereas the big, official aid agencies are working with the governments; they are big, top-down institutions and we, the NGOs are bottom up. That’s the appeal, and fundamentally it’s false because they end up creating a lot of little top-down structures and hierarchical relationships throughout society within Haiti and between organizations in Haiti and their relationships with foreign NGOs.

A good example of the lack of interest of NGOs in grassroots organisations is the one you mention at the beginning of your book, where you explain that it is the Haitian grassroots NGOs which initiated the downfall of the Duvalier dictatorship and instead of associating themselves with these organisations, the international NGOs replaced them or linked themselves with NGOs run by the Haitian elite.

In some ways it’s an unconscious and inevitable process. A lot of international NGOs, after the first coup in 1994, went there to try to work with the popular organisations. But the way they are structured and the amount of bureaucracy there is and paperwork there is to fill out and the expectations of the donors who fund the Canadian NGOs have – all of this makes it impossible to work with someone who is genuinely poor working class. You need people who are university educated, who are from the relatively privileged elite, who can talk the talk to get the funding.

It doesn’t automatically mean that they are unrepresentative of the rest of the population but you tend to work with people who aren’t necessarily connected with the grassroots, and if there is no strong accountability between the middle class people at the top getting the funding and the people at the bottom, the grassroots that you claim to be supporting, then sometimes what happens is the organisation becomes a vehicle for the person at the top. And the funding has a tendency to erode the accountability to the bottom and I think that’s what happened to a few organisations in Haiti. They received large amounts of funding after 1994 and they were very militant and very pro-Lavalas for a time, and with more funding it centralised power in the hands of the people who were able to get that funding and made them dependent on continuing to please the donors.

Austerity Can’t Solve Crises of Capitalism

February 19th, 2013 by Gene Clancy

Millions of workers across the United States received a rude and unpleasant jolt this January when they discovered that their take-home pay had just shrunk by 2 percent. The Social Security payroll tax cut of 2009 was restored, costing workers an average amount of $850 a year, a significant wage decrease for workers on the edge of financial ruin.

This de facto pay cut is part of a march towards government austerity going on in the U.S. and around the world. What austerity really means is cutting government spending for social benefits and/or raising taxes to guarantee loan payments to banks. Austerity is an article of faith not only for the right wing, but for centrist politicians like the Obama administration and most European governments.

There was little to no discussion of the increase in the payroll tax, which will have a far greater negative economic impact than the small increases in taxes on the very rich that were ballyhooed in December.

More dangerous even than restoring the payroll tax are the proposed cuts in federal spending, including cuts to Social Security benefits. A preposterous lie, generated by the ruling class and its lackey media, is that Social Security and other benefits based on earlier contributions are somehow responsible for the large deficit, and that “reforms” must be made in order to “save” them.

In reality, Social Security has $2.6 trillion in its trust fund, enough to adequately fund it for at least the next 25 years, according to Jack Lew, President Barack Obama’s former budget director and new nominee for secretary of the Treasury. (Forbes.com, July 13, 2011)

Social Security should not even be included as part of the federal budget, and certainly not seen as a way to “reduce the deficit.” Its trust fund has been accumulated from the lifetime contributions of millions of workers through its own payroll taxes and should be used for that purpose only. To reduce the benefits of older workers in order to reduce the deficit is outright robbery of the working class.

Deficits, austerity and economic growth

There are many reasons why most capitalist governments worldwide have inadequate revenue to cover costs. For the U.S., they include outrageous military spending (over a trillion dollars on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars alone), tax cuts for big business and the very wealthy, and gigantic bailouts for the banks.

Most important though is the worldwide economic crisis, which has impoverished the working class by permanently removing tens of millions of jobs, thus reducing the tax base. There has been no capitalist upturn following the 2008 crash. Every attempt to start new production involves bringing in new technology that destroys more jobs than it creates. Thus, capitalism has reached a dead end.

The ruling classes, desperate to have governments guarantee loan and interest payments to banks, have ignored the advice of many of their own economists and agencies, and embarked on a policy of governmental austerity that only exacerbates the overall capitalist crisis.

For example, an International Monetary Fund study of 17 countries that implemented austerity plans in the last 30 years showed that alleged debt-reduction plans, aimed at reducing debt and leading to prosperity, on the whole failed to do so. (Allvoices.com, Jan 29)

Moreover, says the IMF, “Income and employment don’t fully recover even five years after the austerity program is enacted.” (Washington Post, May 7)

Since the IMF’s own study shows that its austerity policies reduce economic growth, why does it continue to dictate such measures to governments all around the globe, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and lately in southern Europe?

Policies please the banks, corporations

The answer is that these policies please the big capitalists and imperialists, especially the banks. They also please multinational corporations since they weaken unions and lower labor costs. The IMF’s real goal is not to grow any economy but to increase the power of capital over labor and the power of the imperialist countries and their allies over oppressed nations.

For example, five years of austerity in Greece has resulted in deep economic depression and increasing misery for Greek workers. The Greek gross domestic product, which is a measure of the value of the total goods and services produced in a country, stands at only 70 percent of what it was before the European Union and IMF imposed austerity measures on Greece.

The 17 eurozone governments, which have embarked on a policy of severe austerity, have not only produced a “double dip” recession throughout Europe. They have not even been able to significantly decrease their debt. (See “Eurozone Debt Burden Stuck Amid Low Growth,” AP, Jan 23)

The latest official estimate of U.S. economic growth, released Jan. 30 by the Department of Commerce, has provided further proof that budgetary austerity depresses the economy. According to this report, “the just-completed fiscal cliff deal … is expected to trim anywhere from 1 to 1.7 percent from economic growth this year. With economic growth averaging 1.8 to 2.4 percent over the past three years, the impact of the just passed budget package… may bring economic growth to a standstill.” (Beforeitsnews.com, Feb 1, 2013)

Capitalism is, in fact, at a dead end. Unable to solve the economic crisis which it caused, the ruling classes seek to squeeze a solution out of the world’s working and poor people through a combination of higher taxes and draconian cuts in needed health and social services. Progressives around the world must see to it that the rulers’ lies are exposed and that workers are not made to pay the price for the crises caused by capitalism.

In written responses to questions submitted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, John Brennan, the Obama administration’s nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), refused to rule out drone assassinations of American citizens on US soil. The committee on Friday released a declassified version of Brennan’s responses.

Brennan, currently President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, is the architect and director of the program of drone missile assassinations that is run out of the White House with the personal participation of Obama. Asked squarely, “Could the Administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?” Brennan replied, “This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”

This is what is known as a non-responsive answer. It is reasonable to assume that if the answer was “no,” Brennan would simply have written, “no.” Instead, in order to avoid a giving straightforward “yes,” he answered a different question than the one that was asked.

Brennan’s answers to the written questions make clear that there was nothing accidental about his refusal to rule out drone assassinations within the United States at his February 7 confirmation hearing before the Senate committee. It was, rather, an expression of a deliberate policy adopted by the Obama White House and the military/intelligence agencies.

When asked at the hearing whether he believed that the Obama administration could carry out drone assassinations on US soil, Brennan responded that he was determined to “optimize transparency on these issues, but at the same time, optimize secrecy and the protection of our national security.” He thus completely evaded the question, and no member of the committee, Democrat or Republican, pursued the matter further.

The very real threat of presidential assassinations of US citizens and others within the United States starkly raises the specter of police-military dictatorship. Behind the legalistic double-talk of the administration’s white paper on drone killings of Americans, made public two weeks ago, the US government is claiming unlimited powers to assassinate anyone, anywhere in the world.

By asserting the power to order the killing of alleged terrorists—secretly and without judicial or congressional oversight—and acting on this asserted power to kill thousands of people, including at least three American citizens—the Obama administration has effectively abrogated the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that no person shall be “deprived of life … without due process of law.”

The lack of significant protest from any section of the political or media establishment underscores the disintegration of American democracy and the absence of any constituency for the defense of democratic rights within the US ruling class. Just how rapidly the American bourgeoisie is breaking with its own previous legal norms is demonstrated by the absence of serious opposition to Brennan’s confirmation. Four years ago, Obama had to scuttle plans to name Brennan, then a top CIA official, to head the agency, due to protests over his role in and public defense of the Bush administration’s use of torture.

Now the Senate is poised to confirm Brennan’s nomination. The major newspapers either ignored the transcript of his written responses to the intelligence committee or carried perfunctory reports buried in their inside pages. The major organ of American liberalism, the New York Times, which has editorialized in support of Brennan’s confirmation, did not bother even to report his refusal to rule out drone assassinations within the US.

On the same day that the Senate committee released Brennan’s written responses, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued 1,428 domestic drone permits since 2007, a figure far higher than previous estimates. The newspaper wrote, “The FAA this week solicited proposals to create six sites across the country to test drones, a crucial step before widespread government and commercial use is approved.”

Under Department of Homeland Security grants, many local police departments have already acquired drones and implemented their own drone spying programs. The use of drones within the US for manhunts, such as the recent dragnet by Los Angeles police in pursuit of rogue officer Christopher Dorner, is by now a reality. The hundreds of drones already buzzing overhead “can carry high-resolution video cameras, infrared sensors, license plate readers, listening devices and other high-tech gear,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Since 9/11, the foundations of a police state in the US have been systematically laid. Under the cover of the so-called “war on terror,” the extrajudicial “wartime” powers of the president have been massively expanded. With Obama, this process has been intensified. The illegal drone assassination program has been expanded, along with renditions and domestic spying. Laws have been enacted sanctioning the military detention, without charges or trial, of US citizens.

As the World Socialist Web Site has warned from the outset, the police state measures enacted since September 11, 2001 have nothing to do with protecting American citizens from terrorism. They are, on the contrary, designed to be used against the growth of working class opposition to social inequality and ever worsening living and working conditions.

Especially since the financial crash of 2008 that set off the greatest crisis of American and world capitalism since the Great Depression, the ruling classes in all of the major imperialist countries have turned to brutal austerity policies to place the burden of the failure of their system on the working class. With no policies to offer for alleviating the suffering of the people, and facing growing popular resistance, they are all turning to state violence and the criminalization of working class struggle.

In the United States, the center of the world crisis, the ruling class has likewise responded to the economic decline of American capitalism with militarism abroad and austerity and increasing repression at home.

It would be politically naïve not to assume that the US military/intelligence apparatus is drawing up lists of political opponents to be eliminated, “disappeared” or imprisoned in the event of major social convulsions, just as Washington’s client dictatorships in Latin America, Indonesia and elsewhere have done in the past.

The American working class must make its own preparations for the mass struggles that lie ahead. At the center of these preparations, and the only basis for the defense of democratic rights, is the adoption of a socialist and revolutionary perspective whose aim is to break the grip of the corporate-financial ruling elite and replace its repressive state with a workers state.

Malaysia’s decision to detain and deport Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has become a hot topic of discussion across the nation’s blogosphere.

Xenophon came to Kuala Lumpur as part of a seven-member international team of election observers invited by de-facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Xenophon attended the Bersih 3.0 street rally during a previous visit to Malaysia and criticised the government for being “authoritarian” in handling the demonstrators. Xenophon was barred from entering Malaysia under the Immigration Act 8(3), and the state’s official statement claimed that Xenophon was deported as “a result of his participation in an illegal street protest in Kuala Lumpur last year,” referring to clauses in the Peaceful Assembly Act which prohibits non-citizens from participating in unauthorised public gatherings.

Local analysts have criticized Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s de-facto opposition leader, for his alleged history of appealing to foreigners to legitimize his positions. From the hardline Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated theologian, Yusuf ‘Abdullah al-Qaradawi, known for controversially inciting sectarian divisions throughout the Muslim world, to the likes of Al Gore and Paul Wolfowitz – Anwar is widely credited in the Malaysian press with harnessing foreign influence to bolster his own political talking points. Ibrahim previously called on the Australian government to monitor Malaysia’s upcoming general elections, although Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr declined to send observers, stating that Australia had no intention of influencing Malaysia’s elections.

Australian responses to Xenophon’s expulsion have varied; Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald scolded Malaysia for lacking a “mature democracy,” stating, “The reason [for Xenophon’s deportation] is that he is an international observer campaigning in favor of a free and fair election. This is not a threat to Malaysia’s national security, but it is a threat to the ruling party’s grip on power.” On the other end of the spectrum is senior commentator Greg Sheridan, who questioned Xenophon’s partiality, stating that he is “campaigning for just one side of Malaysian politics – the opposition. He might reflect on the fact that the side he supports contains, as perhaps its strongest element, the most extreme Islamist party in mainstream Southeast Asian politics [PAS].”

A vocal minority within Malaysia feels that Xenophon’s deportation was an abuse of power, but the fact is that had Xenophon intended to observe the elections, Malaysian law requires him to formerly submit an observer application to do so. The nation’s Electoral Commission has confirmed that they have not received any application from any international observer. Additionally, representatives of de-facto law minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz confirmed that Xenophon was in fact not included in the bipartisan delegation set to meet government officials, as Xenophon had claimed in his statements to the Australian press. Xenophon’s status as an independent observer in foreign media should not be reported as fact; local analysts have acknowledged his long-standing support and affiliations with members of Malaysia’s opposition – such affiliations would negate the legitimacy of an election observer anywhere in the world.

In the hot-tempered run-up to Malaysia’s upcoming general elections, figures from all sides of the political spectrum have questioned the opposition’s links to foreign-funders in Washington, reinforcing popular suspicion against foreign figures like Xenophon. Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat has bore strong criticism for accepting funds and training from US Government-linked foundations such as the International Republican Institute (IRI), chaired by US Senator John McCain. Bangkok-based analyst Tony Cartaucci writes, “Senator Xenophon’s visit to Malaysia was not one of ‘monitoring,’ but of checking up on a group of clearly compromised, openly foreign-funded, subversive elements operating behind the guise of disingenuous principles – making the Malaysian government’s claims that Xenophon constitutes a security risk absolutely justified.” Bersih coalition leader Ambiga Sreenevasan also conceded that her organization accepts funds from US Government-linked foundations. Malaysian authorities are rightfully concerned that these recipients of foreign capital have based their programs around casting doubt on the nation’s Electoral Commission, and thus, the very legitimacy of the ruling party and the democratic process.

The Electoral Commission has provided consistent and sound refutations to the allegations of electoral discrepancies made against them by several US-funded NGOs. Malaysia’s parliamentary select committee agreed upon implementing recommended electoral reforms addressed by civil society groups and has since passed 18 amendments to the electoral roll. One could deduct that Xenophon’s participation in the Bersih street rally, and his concerns regarding issues pertaining to electoral reforms translate into an attempt to falsely downplay the validity of the Electoral Commission. The United Nations has confirmed that Malaysia is completely in-line with international norms and electoral standards, and commentator Greg Sheridan is quite right to state that Malaysia is “one of the most democratic and freewheeling nations in Southeast Asia. Its elections are certainly not perfect, but they are better than in most parts of the world. Indeed, its very openness allows people such as Xenophon to grandstand there.”

Opposition backers appear to be quick to dismiss the ruling party via social media, and eager to welcome rhetorical support from ambiguous foreign political personalities without hesitation or distinction. A notable segment of Malaysian society believes that opposition politicians have aligned themselves with civil society figures to deliberately distort political discourse and the legitimacy of the Malaysian authorities. Mr. Xenophon’s expulsion was an unfortunate incident, but as someone with a background in law, he should have adhered to the stipulations required within Malaysian law by applying to be a recognized observer if he sought to be one. A notable excerpt from Peter Hartcher’s opinion piece cites a conversation he had with Ibrahim, where the opposition leader states, ‘‘in a fair and free election, I am absolutely sure we will win.” Such a statement duly notes the rationale of Malaysia’s fiery-tongued opposition leader and reinforces the opinions of those who accuse the politician of only claiming the game is fair when he himself is the victor.

Nile Bowie is an independent political commentator and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected]

Hagel: Israel’s Nukes More of a Threat than Iran’s

February 19th, 2013 by Voltaire Network

In a newly surfaced video recorded in 2008, during a promotion event for his then-recently published book [1], Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel expresses more concern over Israel’s nuclear weapons than Iran’s and advocates the U.S. engage with Iran and Syria:

In the video, an audience member asks “if Israel is attacked by Iran or an Iranian proxy like Hezbollah in a way that existentially threatens Israel, almost to the extent that Israel was attacked in ’73 and it was existentially threatened, would you support an American airstrike using U.S. forces, B2s, whatever on Iran?” Hagel responds with a three minute lecture. A full transcription is below,

    “I’ll answer your question as honestly as I can. That’s a hypothetical question that somehow frames up the simplicity of the hypothetical question. The complications in the Middle East, and I’m certainly not an expert there, I have a chapter on the Middle East, I do know [laughter], I know a little something about the Middle East. I spent a lot of time there. And I spent a lot of time in Israel with the prime ministers and others. You who are well informed on this issue know the complexities starting with go back to the Bible, go back to ancient times, thousands of years. I mean that, if you really want to start trying to understand the Middle East, Paul, or David Aaron Miller, who you may know, has a new book out on this, The Not So Promised Land [The Much Too Promised Land]. And if you want to read something that is very, very enlightening, this guy he’s getting tremendous reviews on it. He’s Jewish. He worked in the State Department, worked for Baker, worked for Albright, I think he’s worked for four secretaries of state, different Democrats, Republicans. But it’s a great, great book.”

“But your question, I mean the complication of what’s going on there, Hamas is already attacking Israel. Iran supports Hamas. Iran supports Hezbollah. What I would much rather see is this administration, or hopefully the next administration, engage Iran, engage Syria. When I hear the talk about – well you can’t talk with Iran, you can’t talk with Syria and we’re, we should stay where we are and support Israel, and so on, well you miss the point.”

“Our policy has been so successful I believe, hasn’t it [laughter], that the Middle East is far better off today than it has ever been, isn’t it? [Laughter.] I mean all those countries, Lebanon is in great shape, Gaza is in great shape, Israel is in great shape, Iran, Iraq, things have never looked better, because we won’t talk to anybody. We are not going to have peace, stability, security or even any hints of it in the Middle East until Iran and Syria and all the players are part of it.

“Now that doesn’t apologize for or doesn’t close our eyes to what Iran has been doing, what Iran does do, but unless they are engaged in some way , then I don’t see this getting any better, and then where this could go, where this could eventually go. Someone was asking me the other day about a nuclear exchange in the world, where that would come from. I said well I’ll give you a scenario that’s very real. If Israel gets backed up enough into a corner and Israel uses a tactical theater nuclear weapon, you want to talk about seeing some things unravel in the world. The United States shouldn’t even be thinking about options of bombing Iran or anybody else. I mean we got our hands full right now. And we’re in such a hell of a mess.”

In 1963, despite the tremendous campaigns aimed at breaking down legalized segregation and national oppression for eight years, the demand for federal civil rights legislation remained stalled due to southern segregationist influence, northern indifference and political avoidance by the John F. Kennedy administration. Nonetheless, by the spring of this momentous year, things would begin to rapidly shift in favor of the African American people and their movement allies.

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court declared that “separate but equal” public schools systems were unconstitutional. However, by 1963, compliance with this ruling was hardly felt among the majority of the African American population most of whom remained in the South.

Between 1955 and 1962, African Americans were in motion determined to end apartheid in the U.S. A Civil Rights Bill passed in 1957 which empowered the Justice Department to take action against county governments which refused to allow universal suffrage led in part to the outbreak of the movement in Fayette County, Tennessee in 1959-1960.

The Fayette County Civic and Welfare League was organized by local activists in 1959 under the direction of Viola and John McFerren. In 1960 they set out to register African Americans to vote in the upcoming presidential elections.

However, the white landowners in this southwest Tennessee County put hundreds of African American tenant farmers off their land for daring to register. The movement established a “Tent City”, the first of its kind during this period which drew national support.

1960 witnessed the beginning of the student sit-in movement where thousands protested Jim Crow segregation resulting in hundreds of arrests. In April of that year the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed becoming the most militant organization within the civil rights movement.

After the Freedom Rides of 1961, where scores were arrested and beaten, the abolition of segregation in interstate travel was overturned in practice. Nevertheless, key centers of intransigence such as Birmingham, Alabama were fiercely resistant to desegregation.

Birmingham Sparks Nationwide Resistance

It was the eruption of the movement in Birmingham in the spring of 1963 that captured the attention of the nation and the world. Both SNCC and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been organizing in the city, one of the most industrialized in the South.

Several thousand people, mainly children were arrested by the police and jailed. Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth were all arrested and beaten by the racist police.

The struggle would come to a head on May 5, when thousands of mostly youth marched through the African American community to the downtown area. Police chief Bull Connor ordered fire hoses turned on the people.

In response to the repression on May 5, the first significant urban rebellion of the 1960s occurred. James Forman, executive secretary of SNCC, described the events that day saying that “The police had cordoned off the intersections leading to downtown and started shooting water on people. Bricks and rocks started flying back at the police and the firemen. “(The Making of Black Revolutionaries, 1972, p. 315)

Forman went on to point out that “For over forty-five minutes, there was a chase in and out of alleys and streets. Other Black people joined in the fight against the police. The ‘riots’ that day in Birmingham received wide public attention—they were a prelude to Harlem ’64, Watts ’65, Newark and Detroit ’67.”

Large demonstrations took place throughout the South that spring and summer. In Danville, Virginia, African Americans marched against racism and police brutality meeting violent repression on June 10.

President Kennedy delivered a speech on civil rights on the evening of June 11 saying at its conclusion that he would introduce federal civil rights legislation. Just a few hours later in Jackson, Mississippi, Medgar Evers, state field secretary of the NAACP, was gunned down in his driveway by white racist Byron De la Beckwith who avoided conviction for this crime for over three decades.

In response to the assassination of Medgar Evers and other issues, the Detroit Council for Human Rights, headed by Rev. C.L. Franklin, organized the largest march to that date for civil rights on June 23. Hundreds of thousands marched down Woodward Avenue led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the support of the-then UAW President Walter Reuther.

King would deliver his first “I Have a Dream” speech at Cobo Hall in the aftermath of the Detroit march. It was the success of this demonstration which fueled the plans for the “March on Washington” that was held on August 28.

Repression Continues

Despite this outpouring of mass sentiment in favor of civil rights, the racists would strike back on September 15 when the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, a center of the movement, was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. Four African American girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair were killed.

It would take until 1977 for the first of the Klansmen associated with the crime to be convicted. Two other Klansmen, Thomas E. Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry, were later convicted in 2001 and 2002 respectively for the bombing and murders.

Two months after the church bombing, on November 22, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The murder was reflective of the atmosphere of violence and intolerance in the U.S. at the time.

On December 1, Malcolm X during the question and answer period after a speech at the Manhattan Center in New York City described the assassination of Kennedy as a case of the “chickens coming home to roost,” meaning that the violence inflicted upon African Americans and other oppressed people throughout the world was now impacting the leaders of the U.S.

His comments, which received wide press coverage, led to his suspension and subsequent departure from the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X would form the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) the following year and tour the Middle East and Africa.

These developments in 1963 would result in more militant actions in the following years of the decade. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were not enough to stave off the urban rebellions which occurred in hundreds of cities throughout the country.

Some five decades later the struggles of 1963 provide lessons on the role of mass mobilization and the need for militant direction against oppression and state repression.

is Editor, Pan-African News Wire

We bring to the consideration of our readers this incisive and carefully formulated analysis by Canada’s renowned philosopher Professor John McMurtry. 

The complete text published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies can be downloaded in pdf

*          *          *

I was sceptical of the 9-11 event from the first time I saw it on television. It was on every major network within minutes. All the guilty partieswere declared before any evidence was shown.The first questions of any criminal investigation were erased.  Who had the most compelling motives for the event? Who had the means to turn two central iconic buildings in New York into a pile of steel and a cloud of dust in seconds?[i]

Other questions soon arose in the aftermath. Why was all the evidence at the crime scenes removed or confiscated?

Who was behind the continuous false information and non-stop repetition of “foreign/Arab terrorists”when no proof of guilt existed? Who was blocking all independent inquiry?

Even 11 years on these questions are still not answered.

But those immediately named guilty without any forensic proof certainly fitted the need for a plausible Enemy now that the “threat of the Soviet Union” and “communist world rule” were dead.  How else could the billion-dollar-a-day military be justified with no peace dividend amidst a corporately hollowed-out U.S. economy entering its long-term slide? While all the media and most of the people asserted the official 9-11 conspiracy theory as given fact, not all did.

A Bay Street broker with whom I was improbably discussing the event in Cuba had no problem recognising the value meaning. When I asked what he thought about the official conspiracy theory, he was frank:

“You can call it what you want, but America needs a war to pull the people together and expand into new resource rich areas. That what it has always done from Mexico on. And that is what it needs now”.  When I wondered why none in the know said so, he smirked: “It would be impolite”, adding, “It affects the entire future prosperity of America and the West”. And all the deaths? “It had to be done –far less than it could have been”. The 19 Arabs with box-cutters reducing the World Trade Center buildings to powder in a few seconds?He shrugged.

Thus everyone since 9-11 is prohibited nail-clippers on planes to confirm the absurd – including 15 of the 19alleged hijackers being from Saudi Arabia and several apparently still alive after crashing the planes into the buildings.[ii]As for the diabolical mastermind Osama bin Laden, he is never linked by credible evidence to the crime and never claims responsibility for the strike since the videos of him are fakes. “Ground Zero” is a double entendre. All doubts are erased apriori.

Decoding the U.S. Theater of Wars and the Moral Driver Behind

One already knew that suspension of belief is the first act of fiction, and that instant culture rules the U.S. One already knew that monster technical events are America’s stock in trade. And one already knew the long history of false U.S. pretexts for war – so well established that a young strategic thinker a decade after 9-11 advises the right-wing Washington Policy Institute on how to create a crisis by deadly planned incident to make war on Iran – “it is the traditional way of getting into war for what is best in America’s interests”.[iii]

One further knew from past research that the U.S.’s strategic leadership since 1945 had been Nazi-based in information and connections and the dominant Central-European figures articulating it ever after across Democrat and Republican lineshave a common cause. For over 40 years, Henry Kissinger as Republican and Zbigniew Brzezinski as Democrat have been protégés of David Rockefeller, selected as Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group leaders, and capable of any mass-homicidal plan to advance “U.S. interests”. The banker-and-oil imperial line through David Rockefeller as paradigm case goes back to the Nazi period to John Foster Dulles (an in-law) and his brother Allen Dulles (OSS and then CIA Director), who Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg called “traitors” for their support of the Nazi regime.  The Rockefeller Foundation funded and developed German eugenics programs in the pre-war years, Standard Oil supplied oil in collaboration with I.G. Farben, and so on.[iv]

The supreme moral goal and strategic methods governing U.S. covert-state performance have not only have been very similar in moral principle, but have deeply connected Rockefeller protégés Kissinger and Brzezinski, and more deeply still the theoretical godfather of U.S. covert state policy, Leo Strauss, who was funded out of Germany by David Rockefeller from the start.

The inner logic of covert and not-so-covert U.S. corporate world rule since 1945unified under Wall Street financial management and transnational corporate treaties for unhindered control of commodities and money capital flows across all borders is undeniable if seldom tracked. This architecture of the grand plan for a New World Order is evident in both strategic policy and global political and armed action over decades that have seen the objectives increasingly fulfilled with constructed deadly crises as pretexts for war the standard technique.[v]Behind them as first post-Nazi historical turn lies the 1947 National Security Act (NSA) which created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)and explicitly licensesdestruction of life, truth and other societies as institutional methods.

The CIA is charged with designing, planning and executing “propaganda, economic war, direct preventive action, sabotage, anti-sabotage, destruction, subversion against hostile States, assistance to clandestine liberation movements, guerrilla murders, assistance to indigenous groups opposed to the enemy countries of the free world”. The linkage back to Nazi methods and world-rule goal as the highest moral objective is not just one of corresponding ultimate principles and strategic policy formation. It relied on Nazi SS intelligence sources and means from the beginning of the covert terror state.[vi]

There is no heinous means that is not assumed as the highest morality by this long-standing covert institutional formation linking to the presidential office.It is an explicitly secret system involving at least the Defense Department and the CIA, the former with many more operatives and offices.

The Special Activities Division (SAD) to carry out NSA criminal operations, for example, also confers the highest honors awarded in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence – as did the earlier SS prototype in Germany. What people find difficult to recognise is that these actions, whether by the SAD or other system operations,are conceived as the highest duty, however life-system destructive and mass murderous they are. All participants are super patriots in their own view, as were the Nazis. Contradiction between declared and actual values, however, is a central mode of the covert system. For example, what can be considered a high duty in the perpetual U.S.“war on drugs”, the most morally obligatory commitment of the U.S. state,is at the same time a war against and with other drug operations to transport illegal hard drugs into the U.S. itself.[vii]

We might see here a parallel between foreign mass murder and domestic mass murder in 9-11, with both regarded as high patriotism in this supreme morality. In the background of America’s Reichstag Fire and likewise disclosing the unlimited geo-strategic action that can be operationalized as necessary and good, the post-1945 U.S. control of international sea-lanes made the covert U.S. state the world’s dominant narcotics controller so as to fund secret criminal war actions from South-East Asia to Latin America, entailing the addiction of its own peoples.[viii]This woeful method has been long known by experts, but came to be public knowledge in the Reagan-state funding of the death-squad Contras of Nicaragua as “the moral equal of our Founding Fathers” (a tribute he is said to have given later to the drug-running warlords and jihadists of Afghanistan).

These moral contradictions seem insane, but this is so only if one does not comprehend the underlying supreme morality of which they are all expressions.

Even U.S.-sponsored death squads torturing and killing tens of thousands of poor people across Latin America before 2000 and their return as direct covert U.S.-state method from Iraq to Syria after 9-11 – called “the Salvador option”[ix] – is regarded as necessary and obligatory to “defend the Free World and our way of life”. They entail ever more total U.S. world rule and self-maximizing position by strategic deduction from the supreme morality’s first premises.

The covert nature of the mass-murderous operationalization is never from moral embarrassment. It is solely to ensure effectiveness of execution against “soft” and “uninformed” public opinion, to terrorize people in situ from continued resistance, and to annihilate its leadership and community agency all the way down. Throughout the deciding moments of execution of the underlying supreme value program, global corporate money demand multiplication is always the ultimate value driver -as may be tested by seeking any covert U.S. action or overt war which is not so regulated beneath saturating propaganda of lawful intentions of peace and freedom.

These lines of underlying moral institution, policy, strategic plan, and massive life destruction at every level are indisputable facts of the covert and official faces of the U.S. state, but are typically not connected to the September 11, 2001 attack. Since most people cannot believe their own government or the “leader of the free world” could execute such a sabotage action as “9-11” in which thousands of American themselves died, these behavioral reminders forge the unifying meaning.

Worse still occurred in the last “war”before 9-11. In the background providing graphic example of how the covert U.S. state apparatus is structured to attack and murder U.S. citizens themselves to strategically maximize implementation of its supreme value program of transnational corporate money sequences over all barriers, there is the now known Operation Northwoods. Very familiar to the 9-11 truth movement, but unpublicized since its release under freedom of information laws, this Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff plan proposed that the CIA and other operatives covert operatives “undertake a range of atrocities” to be blamed on Cuba to provide pretext for invasion.

“Innocent civilians were to be shot on American streets; boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba were to be sunk on the high seas; a wave of violent terrorism was to be launched in Washington DC, Miami and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did commit; planes would be hijacked”.[x]

All would be blamed on Castro the Communist in place of bin Laden the Islamicist, and invasion of desired resistant territory would be achieved as a triumph of American freedom and interests over its enemies.

 Operation Northwoods was not, however, okayed by President Kennedy – perhaps another reason for his assassination and replacement by more pliant presidents to represent “America’s interests” in accord with the supreme morality. Underneath the stolen election of George Bush Jr.in contrast – whose family made its money, in part, by serving the covert financial requirements of the Nazi regime before and during the 1939-45 War – was a domestic and foreign administration which would push further than any in the past to advance “U.S. interests”to full-spectrum world rule. Its project included reversing the Roosevelt New Deal and the social state within the U.S. itself – “an anomaly” as Bush Jr. expressed the historical perspective and ethic at work.

This plan was more explicit in the published Project for the New American Century formed from 1997 on. It even supplied the need for a 9-11 event in its 2000 version, the year that Bush Jr. was elected and the year before 9-11. To indicate the “non-partisan” nature of the planning, Democrat National security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski had already hinted at the usefulness of a 9-11-style domestic attack to move policy forward in his 1998 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.[xi]

The Moral Compass of 9-11

As a moral philosopher with social value systems as my primary object of analysis, my first thoughts in understanding “9-11” were of the system motives,known methods, and objective interests driving the event which could coherently explain it. Whatever the immediate hold of the official conspiracy theory on the public mind,a rational explanation is required which is consistent with the suppressed facts and the organising geo-strategic plan on both sides of the event.

For over a decade before 9-11, there were three U.S.-propelled global trends that almost never come into the understanding of 9-11 itself. 9-11 truth seekers themselves have focused on the foreground technics and the transparent motive for oil. But these are undergirded by deeper sea-shifts of geopolitical and economic wars of seizure and destruction by other name against which the world’s people were rising. To compel books of analysis into one unifying frame, transnational corporate-rights treaties from NAFTA to the Maastracht Treaty to the WTO overrode all other rights across borders;the private “financialization”stripping of social sectors and welfare states had advanced across the world; and the totalizing movement of the system across all former “cold war” and cultural borders was “the new world order” in formation. Together these vast shifts towards transnational money-sequence rule of all reversed centuries of democratic evolution. And every step of the supreme value program was life blind at every step of its global operationalization.[xii]

Yet states and cultures were so sweepingly re-set into unaccountable transnational corporate and bank rule that few recognised the absolutist value program being imposed on the world.  Fewer still recognised all was unfolding according to plan.

What has been least appreciated about the long-term strategic plan unfolding on both sides of what was immediately called “9-11” – CallEmergency!–is that supreme banker and global money director David Rockefeller had summarized “the plan” to fellow money-party elites across borders at the Bildersberg meeting in Baden Baden Germany in June 1991 -exactly at the same time that the Soviet Union and its resistant barriers fell.[xiii] Bear in mind that Rockefeller among other initiatives appointed both Kissinger and Brzezinski for the lead in both the supranational Bilderberg and Trilateral strategic bodies of which he was the lead patron, not to mention financed the unemployed academic Leo Strauss out of Germany to be the godfather  “philosopher” of the “new world order”. Rockefeller speaks very precisely to his fellow “elite of the elite” of the Western world where only Americans and Europe are invited and reportage excluded:

“A supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”, Rockefeller said.[xiv]

Observe the foundational new concepts in place of responsible government and democratic accountability. They are now consigned to “past centuries”. A “supranational sovereignty”has replaced them and is morally“preferable”. Rockefeller is not exaggerating. By 1991 a “supranational sovereignty” had already developed in the form of transnational treaties conferring override rights of “profit opportunity” on transnational corporations and private bank rule of government finances across borders – procedurally trumping any elected legislatures and their laws which are inconsistent with their thousands of treaty articles, even when the system eventually leads to world depression as now.[xv] The source of the legitimacy of governments, ultimate sovereignty, has now passed as preferable to “an intellectual elite and bankers”: more exactly, academic strategy servants and transnational money sequences overriding all human and planetary life requirements a-priori by the supreme moral goal.

Ask which function of the world’s people and means of life is not now in debt to Wall Street and the private global banking system it leads. Ask which means of life from food and water to autos and pension cheques is not thus ultimately controlled, or which commodity is not under oligopolist corporate sway. The “surely preferable” objective was already achieved by 1991 or in advanced global institutional motion. Now supreme over all else so that all else is now accountable to it, and it is not accountable to anything above it, “the plan”seemed all but accomplished by Rockefeller’s own considered words.

But what if people resist the new world rule with no life coordinate or constraint at any level of its execution? We may recall that during the death-squad rule of the Argentina generals at this time in which civilians were murdered and tortured in the thousands, National Security Adviser Kissinger congratulated the junta on their “very good results – - The quicker you succeed the better.”Kissinger also heartily approved of the earlier massacres and torture in Chile.

The resistance was in this way pre-empted long before the Soviet Union fell, and after 1990 had no block in the Middle East and Central Asia either. “The plan” has been very long term. Kissinger the geo-executer was originally appointed to high office by Rockefeller (to lead the Council on Foreign Relations back in 1954), and – to give a sense of the long-range trajectory of the plan design –was,incredibly,the U.S. administration’s first choice for an “independent 9-11 Commission”. The obviously not-independent Kissinger was still not a problem for “the free press” and official discourse. But when he was required to disclose his business connections, he withdrew to stay covert in his ongoing backroom capacities and enrichment.

The 9-11 sacrifice is better understood within the deep-structural context of the unfolding plan. Thus David Rockefeller gave special thanks to media like “the New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion” in co-operating with the plan. Rockefeller was again precise:

This plan for the world would have been impossible for us to develop if we had been subjected to the light of publicity during those years. [xvi]

The plan’s next decisive steps were in fact already in motion as Rockefeller expressed gratitude for the media black-out. A new strategic manifesto from the Pentagon was in preparation entitled “Defense Planning Guidance on Post-Cold- War Strategy,” completed on February 18, 1992.[xvii]Prepared under the supervision of Paul Wolfowitz, then the Pentagon’s Undersecretary for Policy, it was disclosed in March of 1992 by the New York Times.After the first invasion of Iraq, it became known as the Project for the New American Century, publicly released from 1997 to 2000 prior to 9-11.

Again we may note the long arc of planning control, crisis and war as required. Item 6 of the strategic plan defined the agenda in general terms: “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant power in the region and preserve U.S. and western access to the region’s oil.”

Oil-rich Iraq had in fact been invaded – not only to privatize its peerlessly high-quality surface oilfields but to destroy its region-leading socialist infrastructure.Iraq became accessible for invasion as the arms-bankrupted Soviet Union was in collapse. We may observe that the covertly genocidal destruction of Iraq bridged Republican and Democrat administrations over three changes of government – disclosing how the covert state operates as a moral constant across party fronts.

The actions confirm and express the one supreme moral goal identified above. They bridge from Saddam himself as CIA-payroll killer and war proxy against Iran to recapture lost Iran oilfields dating from 1980 to 1988 to the fall of the USSR in 1991 as the axis of the long-term strategic plan of global turnaround to “America’s century” still to come before and after 9-11.But between 1990 and 2003 Saddam was transmuted from former ally to aggressor against Kuwait in an invasion given an official green light from the U.S. government, to “mushroom cloud”threat with invented “weapons of mass destruction”.

In fact, National Security Adviser Wolfowitz explained after the invasion found nothing of the kind: “[We had] virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil.”

Observe how the invasion is conceived as obligatory for a reason that expresses the supreme value goal. Observe that it occurs less than two years after 9-11, which gave the open-cheque justification for the bombing and occupation which allowed the expropriation of Iraq’s society’s oil resources.

The problem was not the evil Saddam or the “weapons of mass destruction”, the standard reverse projection.[xviii]The problem was the Iraqi people themselves and their developed oil-funded social life infrastructure between the supreme oil-fields and their U.S. corporate control and privatization. 9-11 was,thus, first the justification for invading Afghanistan – to clear the way for pipelines into the former Soviet republics from the Caspian Sea region– pipelines that prompted the U.S. representative to predictively warn the Taliban:“Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”[xix]9-11 was then the necessary basis of justification for the bombing of Baghdad for the unifying supreme objective.

In fact,seldom published in the corporate media keeping the glare of publicity away from the supreme moral objective, the publicly owned and managed oil revenues of Iraq had been invested since the 1950’s in Iraq’s advanced social infrastructure, leading the Middle East with free higher education, high health standards, and near universal livelihood security. The world’s oldest civilisation was robust in organisational capacities long before the CIA-asset Saddam was installed.

Despite his murdering his way to the top in this function, even Saddam could not destroy the system because socialist government had been achieved decades earlier by a powerful oil-workers’ union base and a population glad to have all education free, an efficient low-cost foods delivery system, and the most advanced public healthcare system in the Middle East. So there was not only the “sea of oil” as a motive to assert U.S. control in the new “supranational sovereignty” of the world. Just as important in this ultimate moral cause, what the U.S. covert state always seeks to destroy by any means, isa successful social infrastructure without private big oil, bankers and transnational corporations free to control it towards higher profit opportunities.

Unravelling the Supreme Moral Doctrine behind the U.S. Covert State

JPEG - 23.1 kb  The genocide of Iraq, as the long-opposing “evil empire” was in free-fall, is the most important strategic anchoring prior to “9-11”. Covert strategic policy to forward the supreme goal is by now self-evident, but the inner moral logic is assumed not penetrated.  The most influential of Rockefeller’s protégés in this regard is the “philosopher king” of the U.S. covert state, Leo Strauss. While he never worked in a philosophy department or has any training in logic, his concept of “natural right” fits exactly to the “supranational sovereignty” of private money-sequence rule of the world – what “the intellectual elite” Rockefeller refers to invoke as “moral anchor”, “right” and “justice”.

The moral thought system is not unlike that of Mein Kampf without the racist rant, camouflaged everywhere in practice by the method of big lies – “noble lies” as Strauss exalts them.[xx] The innermost value driver is a perpetual war of dispossession of the weaker for the private transnational money-capital multiplication of the rich.

Nothing in this doctrine is too mendacious, greed-crazed and murderous if it fulfills the plan of this limitless private-capital rule as ultimate moral ground and compass. In Strauss’s canonical teaching of U.S. national security advisers and intellectual following, the ruling moral absolute is expressed by the core master idea behind the “supranational sovereignty” of an “intellectual elite and bankers”:

“limitless capital accumulation – — the highest right and moral duty”.[xxi]

This is the ethical absolute of the covert U.S. state and its strategic decision structure. And there is no internal limit within this moral universe to life means seizure from poorer societies and resource looting for the supreme goal.  It is the natural and absolute Good.

To justify its meaning, the Straussian canon adopts a potted reading of Western moral and political philosophy from Plato through Hobbes, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx and Weber. This impresses American political operatives of the faith, but Strauss is a failed philosopher turned down by Paul Tillich for his post-doctoral Habilitation and only saved from academic ruin in Germany by Rockefeller grant money. While not taken seriously as philosophy anywhere else, it is worth decoding its talmudic involution for the borrowed ideas that drive its covert state disciples and neo-fascist public “intellectuals” in America.

The ultimately organising idea is to commend all forms of conquering and limitlessly expanding private capital as “natural right and law” with genocidal subjugations justified in glowing moral terms. For example, “noble lies” is the moral category for limitless mendacity. One may wonder how educated people can be so bent out of moral shape. So I now concisely provide what cannot be found elsewhere: the inner logic of the supreme doctrine as perversions of great thinkers.

Its framework of meaning and value helps us to understand why the 9-11 event could easily follow for the managers of the covert U.S. state and its Straussian planners as not at all anomalous or evil within their moral logic. 9-11 follows as a maximally rational and unique tool to achieve the objectives in fact achieved by 9-11, and the geo-strategic cabal behind it is servilely linked from the beginning to the dominant private transnational corporate and banking interests exemplified by David Rockefeller.

To understand this brutal moral universe and its connection to 9-11, the 9-11 wars and a globalizing police state, we need to understand the deformations of its basic organising ideas. Plato’s idea of “the noble lie” means, in fact, a myth or parable to communicate an underlying truth about the triadic human soul of reason, spirit and appetite which, Plato argues, should be reflected in the construction of the ideal state (in which the rulers are communist in their common property to keep them uncorrupted and true).

But through the prism of U.S. global money-party rule a la Strauss this idea becomes the principle of lying to the public to keep the vulgar herd – the people themselves – ignorant and obedient. The philosophies of Hobbes and Hegel are also grist for this mill. Hobbes argues that “man is moved by a restless desire for power after power that ceaseth only in death”, but this brute desire in the “State of Nature” is tamed by “the covenant of peace” ordered by the internal sovereign as absolute.

Via Strauss and the U.S. covert state this becomes right is might and the ultimate “natural right” is limitless private capital power and empire with no end of totalization across the peoples and lands of the world. Hegel too suits a fascist-capitalist reading since he argues “the State is the march of God  through the world”, and war itself is history’s test of which State is a higher realisation of “the absolute Idea”. But Hegel still envisaged a “universal state”to supersede the competitive private-property division of capitalism in the “universalization of right and law on earth”.

Once again U.S. private money-capital power with no bound, the supreme moral goal in the Rockefeller-Strauss doctrine, is opposite to the classical philosophy it invokes. Once more dialectical development of reason to more coherently inclusive conception and life is reversed into one-way private money capital sequences maximized to rule the world with the U.S. military as its instrument of force and terror.

However it conceals its meaning, all positions come down to this underlying value code – as may be tested on whatever transnational money-sequence demand, right or war is launched next. 9-11 construction in such a moral world does not violate this value code. It expresses it in self-maximizing strategic turn to achieve the ultimate goal.

Friedrich Nietzsche may provide the best fodder for the doctrine when he advises that “life is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker, imposing of one’s own forms, and at its mildest exploitation” in his superman vision of “beyond good and evil”. For philosophical Nietzscheans, this is code for the inner meaning of the angst of artistic creation. But this meaning is predictably lost on the U.S. covert-state school seeking the “supranational sovereignty” of “limitless capital accumulation” as the supreme good with the “intellectual elite” as servants to it. Karl Marx’s link of capitalism’s success to productive force development is the ultimate equivocation upon which this ruling doctrine depends – making no distinction between productive capital providing life goods and unproductive money sequencing hollowing out the world by money-capital multiplication. Marx, it must be acknowledged, did not made the distinction himself since this mutation of capital came a century after his death.[xxii]

Finally Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism does not ground this doctrine of “limitless capital accumulation as the highest right and duty” with the state to serve it, as Strauss again torturously suggests. In fact, Weber deplores any such perversion of public authority. His capitalist model is a young Benjamin Franklin speaking of money saved and invested as like having “a breeding sow”, not a transnational money-sequence juggernaut of eco-genocidal expansion.  Revealingly, Benjamin Franklin and “the protestant ethic” in general were most concerned about non-waste, which Strauss explicitly excludes from the meaning of “limitless capital accumulation”. For Leo Strauss and his U.S. “national security” disciples, the capitalist may waste as much as he wants by “natural right”.

Further, in complete inversion of source, the greed worship of the U.S. state, its patrons and its academy disciples reverses the model of the “spirit of capitalism” exemplified by Benjamin Franklin in proprietary claim on knowledge and inventions. He,in fact,refused to patent his famous Franklin Stove because he believed that no innovation or new knowledge from which other people could benefit should be denied them – just as he himself had benefitted from the community of knowledge and science as the distinguishing feature of being a civilised human being.

In short, it is important to recognise how twisted the covertly ruling doctrine is. No element of it is life coherent or true to the classical thinkers in which it costumes itself. In the end, only the transnational U.S. money party has any place in its rights and obligations, and any sacrifice of other life to its supreme goal is legitimate – linking back to the Nazi-U.S. corporate axis that nearly destroyed the civilised world once before.[xxiii]

Money-Capital Power UeberAlles: How Economic Rationality Leads the Plan

The U.S. culture of money-sequence “rationality” is the underlying intellectual and moral disorder which leads to “limitless money capital accumulation” as the supreme moral goal. In formal terms, the equation of rationality to atomic self-maximization is assumed a-prioriacross domains. With globalizing Wall-Street-led “financialization”, this “rationality” becomes equated to private money-sequence multiplication across all borders as the ultimate Good. This is the innermost mutation of value logic and goal, the moral DNA, from which the cancerous world system develops on both sides of 9-11.[xxiv]

This first principle itself is,in fact,built into formal economics, decision and game theory, and strategic science, as I explain step by step in “Behind Global System Collapse: The Life-Blind Structure of Economic Rationality.”[xxv] It is axiomatic but unexamined, life-blindly absolutist but not recognised as morally problematic. To make a long story short, competitive self-maximization in the market is assumed to produce “the best of possible worlds” by mathematical proof. “Pareto efficiency” is believed to demonstrate this by private money exchanges between self-maximizing atoms apriori stripped of all life properties, relations, society, conditions of choice, and all natural and civil life support systems. Pareto himself recognised outside this formula what has since been covered up.

Not only is the formula consistent with most having remaining impoverished by the “optimum” of “no-one worse off”, what none who cite “Pareto efficiency” as a standard academic mantra ever acknowledge or even recognise. Pareto himself is in no doubt of the implication. As the fascist party he belongs to rules Italy and Rockefeller creates the Council of Foreign Relations, he asserts with approval: “Very moral civilized people have destroyed and continue to destroy, without the least scruple, savage or barbarian peoples”.[xxvi]We glimpse here at the roots the supreme morality built into “economic science” itself.

Yet, as demonstrated in “Behind Global System Collapse”, even the most liberal canons of America, including John Rawls’ classic A Theory of Justice, are grounded in the same meta principle.[xxvii] Rationality and value are equated to self-maximizing gain with no limit within game-theoretic interactions as the sole limiting framework of “limitless money capital acquisition”. The generic equation defines, indeed, the dominant intellectual and economic mind-set of America and the global system in action since 1980. The cabal internal to U.S. national security strategic planning follows the moral logic to its most radical conclusions with no constraints by life or law.

The one absolute moral meaning is the spread of U.S. economic, military and political power as good for all, or, more exactly in Straussian language, limitless private transnational money-capital expansion as the highest right and moral duty. Only what is consistent with or serves this supreme morality, it follows, deserves to exist. This is the alpha and omega of the covert doctrine and state, and careful reading can find no disconfirmation beneath the rhetoric of “noble lies”.

The Iraq Paradigm:  Genocide Strategy From 1990 On

The Iraq line of the geostrategic plan from 1990 to 2001 and after is a paradigmatic articulation of the covertly ruling moral logic. It launches into the theatre of war as direct war attack when U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, is instructed to green-light Saddam’s already known plan to invade Kuwait in 1990: “The US. has no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait”, she advises. To formalize the lie as official and traditional, she reports: “Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America”.[xxviii]

The dispute was, in fact, over Kuwait’s drawing out oil from reserves underlying Iraq as enabled by the colonial split of the oil-rich Kuwait province from Iraq – the classic divide-and-rule policy holding also in the division of oil-rich Kurdistan among four manufactured states. Saddam had good reason to trust the U.S., not only by the long-term official promise of neutrality but as blood-mix ally when he waged a U.S.-supported war of aggression against Iran – which still remains the target. Note the big lie to provoke the supreme crime of war has remained without any glare of publicity that might derail the plan.

When Saddam did exactly as planned by invading Kuwait, Bush Sr. raved about the Nazi-like aggression against a weaker country in the reverse projection that always defines the covert U.S. state before, through and after 9-11. So in the same name of “preventing aggression” U.S. “defense” forces invaded Iraq to destroy any life capacity it had to defend itself – always the strategy since the defeat in Vietnam. The genocide began by the massacre of many tens of thousands of fleeing soldiers. Recall the weeping young woman, the Kuwait ambassador’s daughter, planted next to baby incubators falsely claiming the monster Saddam had murdered the babies. This reverse projection was soon to be made real thousands of times over inside the victim society of Iraq.

Reverse projection of evil is the meta law of U.S. psy-ops propaganda in the deadly conflicts and wars it covertly starts. This is the supreme moral program in action as “noble lies”. In this case, the air-bombing after surrender continued from U.S. and “special ally” Britain as “sanctions of Iraq” to “prevent aggression” – again the reverse projection. In fact the bombs continually fell on the water and electricity infrastructures of the defenceless people and against all lines of repair to restore either – “the line in the sand against Iraq aggression”. We might bear in mind that Wolfowitz was Undersecretary of Defense under Secretary Cheney at this time, their positions not unlike those at the time of 9-11.

Air-bombing, as Bertrand Russell long ago pointed out, is inherently fascist in erasing the killed and maimed from sight while ensuring impunity for the bombers of defenceless people.  But all such mass murder is only collateral damage to the supreme moral goal as “natural right and law”.  The air bombing of Iraq’s water and electricity supplies dressed in one big lie after another continued in slow mass-murderous destruction of the people and their social life infrastructures years on end.

Denis Halliday, United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the mission finally called it “genocide” (Wikipedia calls it “the Persian Gulf War”) when he resigned in 1998 to protest against “the crimes against humanity”. But no-one knew until the U.S. Department of Defense Intelligence got out that the first sweep of Iraq was planned down to the mass killing of the infants and children. September 11 in 2001 is better understood in this wider context of strategic planning by the covert U.S. terror state. For years the non-stop bombing of the people’s central life-water support system deliberately engineered mass dying from diseases of children in the hundreds of thousands.

What was predicted by Harvard Medical School researchers from the continuous civilian infrastructure bombing by the U.S. military – the deaths of over 500,000 children- was verified by the counts scientifically taken at the risk of researchers as the bombing continued month after month with NATO support.[xxix]

Full-spectrum corporate money-sequencing through Iraq under the Comprehensive Privatization Program would only be enabled by “9-11”down the road. But first the bases of advanced social life organization needed to be destroyed. The later-leaked U.S. Defense Intelligence document entitled “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities” expresses the moral DNA at work. I cite the key lines of U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency reports because they reveal the character of the supreme moral goal and its strategic planning.“With no domestic sources of water treatment replacement or chemicals like chlorine”and “laden with biological pollutants and bacteria”, the leaked Defense Intelligence Agency report says (italics added), “epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid” will “probably take six months before the [drinking and sewage water] system is fully degraded”.

The document continues, Conditions are favorable for communicable disease outbreaks [by the one-way air bombing] with the “most likely diseases during next sixty-ninety days of diarrheal diseases (particularly children) acute respiratory diseases (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis (particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children); meningitis including meningococcal (particularly children), cholera”. “Medical Problems in Iraq”, dated March 15, 1991, reports that the “water is less than 5 percent of the original supply – - diarrhea is four times above normal levels – - Conditions in Baghdad remain favorable for disease outbreaks”. The fifth document in June reports “almost all medicines in critically short supply” and “Gastroenteritis killing children – - in the south, 80 percent of the deaths are children”.[xxx]

In short, no limit to covert U.S. planning of indiscriminate mass murder for the supreme goal exists. The number who died in 9-11 suddenly pales in comparison. In all cases, it lets “those inimical to U.S. interests” know that there is no limit to how far the covert terror state will go for the supreme moral code not yet decoded. Combined with wars of aggression before and after 9-11, raining fire and explosions on civilians from the air so that no defense or escape can be made, saturating the fields of public meaning with big lies civilly dangerous to unmask, and bringing vast enrichment and new powers to transnational corporate conglomerates and their past and present CEO’s of the acting U.S. state – all become clear in their ultimate meaning once decoded. As the Democrat U.S. Secretary of State responded to the question of the 500,000 killed children, “we think the price was worth it”. No price is too much to pay for fulfilment of the transcendent project of the global U.S. state and its private capital rule as “the Free World”. “Those inimical to our interests” are those who oppose or are in the way of it, and thus “hate our freedom”.

The  Strategic Logic of Value through 9-11

By 2000 it was very clear to the U.S. strategic planners that the opening up of the Middle East and Central Asia after the fall of the Soviet Union had to be further pursued before it was too late.The great regret for the planning personnel of the coming Bush Jr. administration such as Paul Wolfowitz was that Iraq had not been taken over on the first invasion. The need for “full spectrum dominance” across the Middle East and Central Asia was thus the essential argument of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), with the prescription that no other “regional power”was able to contest this dominance.

The PNAC more explicitly recognised the strategic necessity for what Zbigniew Brzezinski had already called for in 1998 in The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives – namely,“the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat” to ensure public support for “the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power”. The now once untouchable Central Asia, formerly of the USSR, was thus targeted as essential not only for its vast oil reserves, but to complete rule of the “first truly global power”.

The Project for the New American Century was more explicit than Brzezinski in 2000, the year before 9-11. As former Defence Minister of Canada, Paul Hellyer, lucidly puts it in a recent address (italics added):

“The authors of this American ‘Mein Kampf’ [the PNAC] for conquest recognized the difficulty of persuading sophisticated Americans to accept such a gigantic change in policy. So they wrote the following (subsequently removed from the record):  ‘Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary changes, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.’”[xxxi]

Excepting the Vietnam War ending in military defeat – but vastly enriched armaments and connected private bank and corporate interests – the hitherto favoured strategic-plan mode had been local death squads along with pervasive American media propaganda against the victims as “communists” and “sponsored by the USSR”. But once there was no remotely equal opponent in mass-kill capacities and transnational trade treaties now bound governments within corporate-rights law as overriding domestic laws and policies, anything became permissible. The plan for the “supranational sovereignty” of “limitless capital accumulation” in “full-spectrum power”required only 9-11 to derail world-wide peace, environmental and anti-corporate globalization movements growing into uncontrollable civilian capacity across borders and continents.

People were waking up to the one-way destruction of life systems at all levels. Iraq was not alone in the genocidal clearance of formersocialist infrastructures uniting peoples across ethnic lines. A far more democratic Yugoslavia was set up and destroyed by financial means in the same year by the 1991 U.S. Foreign Operations Appropriations Law after the 1980’s multiplication of public interest rates to over 20percent primedevoured social life support structures across the world.

This was the unseen financialization base of a global war against public and worker economic and political powers that was reaping a cumulative global civilian reaction of opposition to “the plan”. 9-11 ensured against the fightback of financially dispossessed peoples with the signature reverse operation – diversion to an external “terrorist threat” that stood in the way of more sweeping transnational corporate wars on more peoples being dispossessed. Civil war in Yugoslavia long targeted by Reagan’s secret National Security Directive 133 as early as 1984 was predicted and occurred after the underlying employment and welfare structure of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia collapsed under deliberate financial destabilization. (The villain of the piece, Slobodan Milosevic, was himself a major banker).

In oil-rich Somalia, two-thirds of its territory had been leased out to four transnational oil companies by 1993 – a condition of lost grounds of life for Somalians behind the primeval civil war ever since. These are merely expressions of the underlying logic of value and the plan for its supranational rule beneath the lights of publicity as “discretion”. The examples are myriad from Latin America to South-East Asia to sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East to Israel and Canada today. But a descriptive law of the supreme moral goal holds across all diverse instances of its expression.

Strategic planning for the destruction of social life infrastructures of peoples for private money capital gain without limit is the ultimate value program throughout from the U.S. to China.

The people of the U.S. are not exempt from their own system of covert state rule, although democratic heroism here joins with the larger world against it. This is the ultimate moral struggle on earth today. The moral politics of the disorder are the enforcement of the descriptive law.  This is the ruling meta program, and it is carcinogenic by its nature. The supreme motive force it multiplies by is privately self-maximizing money possession (individual and corporate)seeking to be limitlessly more.More = Better. Less = Militant Demand for More.

The “9-11” event is the epicentre of the supreme moral objective seated in Wall Street. Itis best understood as an ultimate strategic maximizer of the italicized formula. Exactly expressed, its ultimately regulating axiology is private money inputs through all life to maximally more private money outputs in ad infinitum progression: Money à Life as Means à More Money or, formally, $àLasMà$1,2,3,4— N.

At the highest level of anchoring moral meaning, this private money-demand rule seeks to be absolute and total across borders with no quarter. “Full spectrum dominance” is its military method. Yet what distinguishes it from the Nazi rule it connects with as prior transnational corporate partner in war making is that in the U.S. private money demand multiplication at the top is the only organising value meaning. 97% of its money command is produced by private bank notes of others’ debt to the private bank system centred in Wall Street. Yet despite this very narrow centre of control,almost no global territory or field of life is outside its rule and strategic plan.

The “Trans-Pacific Partnership” is but its latest expression – focusing on private knowledge-patent money sequencing to rule out generic pharmaceuticals and other life-and-death knowledge commons from which higher profits cannot be made. The one underlying common principle throughout all phases is transnational corporate and bank money sequencing to more. Its converse is to overrideall life requirements at all levels, and strategically planned crises and wars are the advancing lines of control and enforcement.

What is not recognized through all the genocidal wars,ecocidal results, collapsing social life support systems and falling wages, however,is that this ruling value sequence rationally leads to9-11” as maximal strategic payoff progression.“Absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event”, the Project for the New American Century declared before 9-11,

“ – - the U.S risks the loss of a global security order that is uniquely friendly to American principles and prosperity”.

Decoded, this meant in theory and practice more transnational private money sequence progression to ever more control over all still-uncontrolled assets for more and richer returns without limit of take or life destruction. But these are unspeakable lines of value meaning, and that is likely why, for example, Wikipedia keeps altering the entry of my name with conspiracy theory attributions and smears to ensure that such deep-structural diagnosis does not gain currency. That is how this system works, and analysis will provide more variations of this gagging method on 9-11 ahead.

The strategic necessity of the 9-11 event for “global security order”can even be asserted by the principal architects of the administration under which it happened, and those who observe this can be dismissed as “conspiracy theorists”. Reverse projection is, as always, the essential psychological operation. The documented but shouted-down logistics included V-P Cheney having control of the air-defence of NORAD six months before the event to manage the relocation of the stand-by fighter jets to Alaska and Canada on September 11, 2001, and more broadly, no jet intervention for almost two hours until the full operation was completed.

The tell-tale signs that it was not the “foreign act of war” which was trumpeted were that President Bush Jr. continued exposed in set-up photo ops with school children during the “attack on the U.S.” Not a wheel turned in U.S. jet intervention or homeland protection. No evident defensive action or response whatever occurred.Until strategic security from public uprising and awareness was established, the blame on foreign terrorists was repeated non-stop around the clock with no-one raising a question.

Weeks thus passed in inaction. As the future director of the 9-11 Commission said years before 9-11: “The effort and resources we devote to averting or containing this threat now, in the ‘before’ period, will seem woeful, even pathetic, when compared to what will happen ‘after’.”[xxxii]And so one war of invasion after another was made upon entirely unproven sources of the “attack” who were, in fact,states and peoples standing in the way of vast publicly owned oil-fields. These had to be taken for control by U.S. and allied state armies for the private transnational corporations employing their leaders in and out of office. Money-sequence oil to quadruple-plus more has been the story ever since.[xxxiii]If 80% of the 19 claimed suicide agents were from oil-ally Saudi Arabia, if none of their identity paperscould have survived the destroyed buildings, and if several of these “hijackers” were apparently still alive, why did none of the vaunted “free press” ever investigate 9-11?  The “noble lie” is built into every step.

The total demolition of the buildings on 9-11 was professionally executed – impossible to manage except by a technologically sophisticated state with intelligence support, as former State Secretary for Defense of Germany, Andreas von Bülow,has concisely observed at the first-order level: “To hijack four big airliners within a few minutes and fly them into targets within a single hour and doing so on complicated flight routes! That is unthinkable, without backing from the secret apparatuses of state and industry”.[xxxiv]Turning huge fireproofed steel-girded buildings in the centre of New York into fuming debris in a few seconds and melting car bodies nearby extends the problem of physical impossibility by jet fires. That is why the firemen were killed by being “falsely told it was a fire, not military ordnance”.The fire-squad commander who told me this asked me not to name him because of the harm that might come to him “from the media” – the 9-11 gag again. Yet the core and deciding issue is strangely avoided by all:

Whatever the technics, every step before and after 9-11 took place in accordance with the supreme moral objective and covert-state strategic methods to execute it.The smoking gun is incinerated buildings. Every step “before” and “after” goes back to the motive, the crime syndicate, the plan, the payoffs, the seizures and dispossessions.

Reducing the Auto-Determination of Nations Requires the Plan

To reduce the “auto-determination of nations practised in past centuries” for the “supranational sovereigntyof an intellectual and banker elite”could only be made possible through “full spectrum dominance” on the groundas the Project for the New American Century had independently explained, and“the catastrophic and catalyzing event” required was “9-11”, however it was accomplished.

Nicholas Rockefeller was already speaking of “the plan”eleven months before the “9-11” call for emergency help when he said to his close friend, Aaron Russo:

“There’s going to be an event Aaron…We are going to go into Afghanistan so we can put a gas pipeline to the Caspian Sea…We are going to go into Iraq to take the oil and to establish a base in the Middle East and we’re going to go into Venezuela and try and get rid of Chávez – - -Through it, you fight the War on Terror and then you go into Iraq – - the media can convince everybody that it’s real – -”[xxxv]

Lest the reader doubt this witness, it has nowhere been disavowed any more than the patriarch’s disclosure of “the plan” itself which is also available on the right-wingCato Institute website. All express the underlying but observable moral law of motion of this ruling value system -to acquire maximally more money demand for private use and control with no public or other barrier across internal and external borders by war, trade treaty or any other means whatever the sacrifice of others’ lives.They do not count in the calculus. All life is an “externality”. There is no step of the covert U.S. state that does not obey the formula.

The legality of international treaty was and remains the transnational legal method already established in the decade before 9-11 to provide the supranational framework of private transnational money-sequence rule as the moral absolute to which all conformed. Coded as “the global free market”, it is neither free nor a market, but oligopolist corporate control of supply, demand, and inert-state policy. In fact, the supreme morality as defined overrides all economic interests themselves by absolute protection of private transnational “profit opportunity” alone -with thousands of regulations across borders governed by this moral absolute. This too is testable by examination of the articles of any transnational trade treaty in the NATO control zone.

Policy structures follow in line. Tax, financial, natural resource and investment policies are structured by law and right to ignore all destruction of social and natural life and life capital bases to grow transnational private money sequences to limitlessly more.This is why the self-multiplying money sequencing with no committed life function has expanded in accordance with this moral absolute through and after “9-11”. Observe how the ultimately regulating principles of value prescription and description all conform to one axiological syntax across controllable theoretical, economic, political, and other levels of the global system.[xxxvi]

Thus whatever the world uprisings against it and however destructive of the planet’s social and ecological life bases, this law of motion remains the ruling constant. Not even the life impoverishment of the growing majority and the collapsing of the biosphere itself are allowed to modify its supranational ruling form. Even a tenth of one percent tax on its ruinous money-sequence tides or fraction of legal tender to back them is off-limits.

Not only 9-11 itself, but global policy locks of every kind are the expressions of this ruling moral absolute as inviolable and supreme, however much they destroy people’s lives without any committed life function – the normalization of private-bank compound-interest debts bleeding peoples dry, destabilizing speculations in sovereign currencies and bonds, asset-stripping buyouts and disemploying mergers, predatory repossessions of homes and loan-shark rates on poor debtors including college students with no limit, endless takeovers of productive firms by foreign multinationals with only banknotes, ecologically devastating mega-projects and loot-mining with no environmental or social criteria, lethal armaments manufacture led by bribery for sales to despots, Wall Street intermediations in every project with no life commitment, huge hauls of financial lifeblood from public privatizations to equity capital multiplying outside of securities regulations, stock-market derivatives exploiting fabricated money-sequence tides and futures at the cost of hundreds of millions more hungry people, and- in general – limitless corporate predation of societies’ domestic resources, home markets, worker pay and benefits, and public tax revenues. 

With all regulating life standards thus erased and repelled,a direct question arises: Why would the sacrifice of a few thousand mixed-nation people and two iconic buildings count against this covert value calculus if it reaped the world in payoff to the under one percent  and could always be blamed on the Enemy to achieve even more full-spectrum dominance of the ultimate objective over all life and life systems that limit its growth and universalization?

Conversely, and in particular at the geostrategic armed force level, if any society does not yet fit into the world system as function of it, armed invasion can now follow as “defense against the terrorists” who have “attacked America” in 9-11. As U.S. General Wesley Clark has also reported for the public record,this strategic line of war has been explicit in “U.S. defense” strategic planning for Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and Syria since 9-11.

The second part of this essay is forthcoming on Global Research.

The complete text published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies can be downloaded in pdf

Professor John McMurtry is a moral philosopher specializing in social value systems and life-value analysis. His many articles and books have been internationally published and translated, and include multi-volume work for UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). He is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Notes

[i]Understandably, the improbable physics of the official account of the destruction of the WTC buildings by jet-plane impact and office fires has drawn increasing interest. The ejection outwards of steel columns and assemblies, the severing of fireproofed steel columns, the evidence of molten metal in the building remains, the acceleration rates of the descending buildings, the presence of nanothermite in the dust and the statements of numerous eyewitnesses are some of the obvious signs of controlled demolition. Detailed discussion of these and other difficulties with the official account can be found in the Journal of 9/11 Studies and on the website of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

http://www.journalof911studies.com/

http://www.ae911truth.org/

My analysis of the official U.S.National Institute of Technology and Standards (NIST) accounts goes further: I argue that we have been given non-explanationby erasure.

[ii] One of the best sources of critical information about the 9/11 crimes is The 9/11 Toronto Report: International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001, edited by James Gourley (International Center for 9/11 Studies, 2012)

 [iii]http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-09-26/guest-post-globalist-think-tank-suggests-using-engineered-event-excuse-war-iran//

 [iv] See Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy: An Expose of the Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949 ( New York: Dell Publishing Co , 1983), the classic documentation and historical account. Transnational corporations involved after war was declared in 1942 included IBM (concentration camp identification system), Dupont (chemical gases), General Motors, Ford (armoured vehicles) and Union Banking (in which George Bush Jr.’s grandfather was a Director, making the family’s fortune). All ended up not only with their property intact or returned, but most with reparations for damages caused to it.

[v] An anonymous reviewer of this journal has kindly pointed out that the concept of “New World Order,” was known in Nazi-occupied Europe as “l’ordre nouveau,” (France and Belgium), “nieuweorde” (Dutch), and “nyordre” (Norwegian) in collaborationist discourses during the early 1940’s.

 [vi] After the massive defeat of the German armed forces in the Battle of Stalingrad in January 1943, Martin Bormann, the Deputy Fuhrer and the main linkage of the Nazi party with the industrial and financial cartels that ran the German economy, conceived a plan for post-War organization of German Nazis in Latin America, South Africa, Egypt and Indonesia called the “Organization of Veterans of the S.S.,” or Odessa by acronym. A main element of the Odessa was led by General ReinhardGehlen who was head of the Foreign Armies East in German Army Headquarters. He was responsible for all intelligence operations through East Europe and the Soviet Union, and in the remaining months of the war deposited the extensive files in a hiding place in the Bavarian Alps. After the war was over, he negotiated a secret treaty to work “jointly with the Americans” on the basis of the detailed files and the services of some 4000 agents. “By one estimate, some 70 per cent of the total intelligence flowing into NATO’s military committee and Allied headquarters (SHAPE) on the Soviet Union, the countries of East Europe, the rest of Europe and indeed the rest of the world was generated [from this source].” (Carl Oglesby, “The Secret Treaty of Fort Hunt”. Covert Action Bulletin, 35, Fall 1990, pp. 8–16.) Corroborating this heavily researched account, Lake Sagaris reports in her detailed study of Pinochet’s Chile (Sagaris, op. cit.) that Nazi activity and influence in Chile was particularly widespread during Pinochet’s military dictatorship from 1973–90 (cited in Graeme Mount, “The Long Shadow of Chile’s Fascism”, Literary Review of Canada, October 1996, pp. 8–10).  Pinochet’s coup occurred on September 11, 1973.

[vii]See note 8, and for ongoing exposure of the moving nexus of narco-terrorist-covert-U.S.-state operations across continents, see continual reports by globalresearch.ca.

[viii]McCoy, Alfred W.; Cathleen B. Read, Leonard P. Adams II.The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia.CIA complicity in the global drug trade. New York: Harper & Row. 1972 and Jonathan Quitny, The Crimes of PatriotsA True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA.New York: Simon and Shuster, 1986.

[ix] See Michel Chossudovsky, “Terrorism with a ‘Human Face’: The History of America’s Death Squads/Death Squads in Iraq and Syria. /The Historical Roots of US-NATO’s Covert War on Syria, http://www.globalresearch.ca/terrorism-with-a-human-face-the-history-of-americas-death-squads/5317564

[x]US Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba (Top Secret), US Department of Defense, 13 March 1962, published online in a more comprehensive form by the national Security Archive on 30 April 2001, months before 9-11. (I am indebted to James Bamford, Body of Secrets. New York: Doubleday from which the text quotation comes, and to Jeremy Keenan, “How the U.S. Has been sponsoring terrorism in the Sahara”, New Internationalist, December 12, 2013, p. 35). Lest one wonder why this mass-murderous plot to terrorize and kill American and other citizens was not kept secret by the covert U.S. state, and indeed released just before 9-11, one needs to bear in mind that Rockefeller and the Right do not object to elite knowledge of “the plan” to liquidate national sovereignty and self-determination for private banker world rule with the collaboration of the U.S. corporate media in not reporting it. Supreme arrogance and helplessness of opponents to do anything about it are part of the supreme morality, and freedom of information at the top long after the action of seems internal to the design of U.S. supreme power. It validates it as de facto reality.

[xi]Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. New York: Basic Books, 1998 :“Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” (p. 211). On the international front, Democrat national security adviser Brzezinski advised : “The defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union was the final step in the rapid ascendance of a Western Hemisphere power, the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power.” (p. xiii) and“To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”(p.40). The 9-11 event managed to fulfil all these objectives at once. 

[xii] I document and diagnose these world trends and their economic value doctrine and its bases in depth in Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System, Toronto: Garamond/ University of Toronto Press, 1998.

[xiii] While this analysis does track the David Rockefeller thread of “the plan”, it by no means restricts explanation to this dominant thread of moral meaning.  Many other dominant money-sequence interests are in interlocked involvement with the supreme value purpose and its system enactment. In this interlock, for example, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo own Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP and Chevron Texaco along with Deutsche Bank, BNP, and Barclays, these corporations in turn having heavy involvement in supranational armaments and media systems. We may observe the wider interlocking system of transnational money-sequence control of global industry across domains in the Rockefeller portfolio of Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, BP Amoco, Marathon Oil, Freeport McMoran, Quaker Oats, ASARCO, United, Delta, Northwest, ITT, International Harvester, Xerox, Boeing, Westinghouse, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, International Paper, Pfizer, Motorola, Monsanto, Union Carbide and General Foods. (See concise summary at http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-federal-reserve-cartel-the-eight-families/2508). Wherever the U.S. state goes in demand, crime and  war it is to enforce this private transnational money sequence system. 

 [xiv] Cited by <http://freedom Cited by <http://freedomlaw.com/coffee.html> which lists among its sponsors the Cato Institute, the Heritage, and the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy.

 [xv] This complex point is spelled out in the second edition of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism/ From Crisis to Cure. London: Pluto and Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013.

[xvi] The most developed account of this and the above citation and their context is by Daniel Estulin, The True Story of the Bilderberg Group. Walterville:Trine Day. 2007 (also translated in Spanish).  Estulin’s grandfather was a senior KGB agent and his father was expelled from the Soviet Union for his activities on behalf of free speech.

[xvii] I am indebted to Paul Hellyer, former Minister of Defence of Canada, for this fact and its disclosure.

[xviii] I define reverse projection as attributing to others what you are doing yourself as the reason for attacking them.  U.S. foreign policy is defined by this generic reversal operation.  The reversals have five standard operations: i. claiming humanitarian assistance to victims of a regime when in fact bombing or attacking them; ii. standing up to terrorism when by far the greater terrorism is perpetrated by doing so; iii. covertly supporting the very terrorist organisations as a justification for these dominant terrorist activities; iv. imposing the extremest form of terror, torture, to “stop the terrorists”; v. planning, organising and waging the supreme crime of humanity, a war of aggression, to compel the other society to “comply with the laws and norms  of the community of nations”.

[xix] Cited in archive.democrats.com/view.cfm?id=5166United States.

[xx] Social science report of the Leo Strauss school of thought and its national security disciples is provided by Shadia Drury, Leo Strauss and the American Right. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999.

 [xxi] Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953, p. 60.

[xxii]Cancer Stage, ibid, spells out this great aporia in Marx’s theory at both life capital and money capital ends.

[xxiii]Rich introductory overview of these connections is provided by physician Dr. Jim Macgregor, “Fascism in America” http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Fascism/Neo-fascism_America.html.  I originally spelled out the principles and behaviours in common in “Fascism and Neo-Conservatism: Is There a Difference?” (1983) Praxis International  (1983) 1, 86-102.

[xxiv] This historical pathogenesis is tracked in depth in McMurtry, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure. Ibid, in both first and second editions, 1999/2013.

[xxv] I spell this meaning out in formal depth in “Behind Global System Collapse: The Life-Blind Structure of Economic Rationality”, Journal of Business Ethics (2012), 108:1, 49-61.

[xxvi] Pareto, Vilfredo, (1971 [1906]), Manual of Political Economy, New York: A.M. Kelley, p. 12.

[xxvii] John Rawls assumes the self-maximizing principle as the ultimately regulating principle of rationality in A Theory of Justice when he says: “From the standpoint of the original position, it is rational for parties to suppose that they do want a larger share – - The concept of rationality invoked here – - is the standard one familiar in social theory” – -  (A Theory of Justice . Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971, p 143).  As to how this first premise shared by “social theory” as “standard” leads to entailments that are not tracked is spelled out step by step in John McMurtry, “Human Rights v. Corporate Rights: Understanding Life-Value, the Civil Commons, and Social Justice,” Studies in Social Justice, 5(1) (Summer, 2011), 11-61.

[xxviii]NYT, Sept 23 1990.

[xxix] The fuller description and documentation of the war crimes and crimes against humanity by the U.S. in Iraq from 1990 on can be found in Value Wars: The Global Market versus the Life Economy . London: Pluto, 2002, pp. 30-36.

[xxx] Originally available on <www.gulflink.osd.mil>, but the information has been since removed from this site since it was cited in Value Wars.   See also:

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/mcs/2004/00000020/00000002/art00002

[xxxi] “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.  A report of the Project for the New American Century, September 2000.”  The description of this “new Mein Kampf” is from Hon. Paul Hellyer, “The G20 Fiddles While The Planet Burns”, Global Breakthrough Energy Conference, Sunday, November 11, 2012.

 [xxxii] See note 47 and page context for the bright idea from the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission” long before 9-11.

 [xxxiii] The average price of oil was $24.08 per barrel in August 2001, $28.27 in 2000, and  $10.20 in 1998.

[xxxiv]Tagesspiegel, 13. Jan. 2002.  Andreas von Bulow is an especially relevant analyst on this score as almost uniquely a renowned scholar in covert-state activities and a former minister of defence.

[xxxv]<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGF6DDd8Uto>.  I am indebted to software engineer Kip Warner for this reference.

[xxxvi] This framework of diagnosis of the system 9-11 expresses is spelled out in systematic depth in The Cancer  Stage of Capitalism / From Crisis to Cure forthcoming April 2013, the second edition of the original 1999 study. 

 

At a recent Washington climate change rally, who is demanding action? Demanding action from whom? What action?In reality, the diminutive, corporate-media inflated rally in DC was organized by the very corporate-financier special interests that have been wreaking terrible havoc on both the human population and the environment of this planet for decades. They are demanding action from a government that already represents their interests. Their demands are policies, particularly financial tax schemes that they themselves createdand are are best positioned to benefit from while making no discernible impact on the very real environmental threats we collectively face.

Image: Rampant CO2, high global temperatures, rising sea levels. A look into the future? No, this is Mesozoic North America 250-65 million years ago. Climate change has happened long before humanity’s emergence, it will happen again, with or without us. The key to preserving what we as humans value, including not only our cities, towns, and countrysides, but also ecosystems and species – is to devise technical, pragmatic solutions to ensure no matter what the climate does, we can not only survive, but thrive.

….


It was an exercise in manufacturing consent for policies already long-ago devised and simply waiting for piecemeal implementation.

Yahoo! News’ report, “40,000 People Reported at Climate Change Rally,” mentions 350.org as one of the rally’s organizers and key representatives. Upon 350.org‘s “Friends & Allies” page, an extensive list of human rights and environmental racketeers can be found, all either linked, or directly connected to big-oil, big-finance, big-agri, and big-defense.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and its “Earth Hour” for instance, includes Fortune 500 corporations (page 24, .pdf) (and here) Walmart, Unilever, Coca-Cola, draconian intellectual property racketeer Christopher Dodd representing the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as a director, Bank of America, Google, and others.

While the WWF claims having big corporations as partners is “good news” for the environment, implying that they are shifting toward environmental responsibility – in reality it is exactly the other way around. Corporations are co-opting genuine concern for the environment to further enrich themselves and to create global frameworks that eliminate indigenous competition over resources they themselves are already exploiting and plan to continue exploiting.

The lack of real, pragmatic solutions, or even an honest scientific discussion on issues like climate change are particularly telling. This collection of organizations falling under the 350.org website have also been key in pushing other establishment agendas, most notably regime change and political subversion worldwide, couching a corporate-fascist warmongering agenda behind liberal concerns for “freedom,” “democracy,” and “human rights.”

Real Environmental Threats

The climate of Earth has always changed throughout its natural history, and many times before the existence of man, has changed so dramatically that it has caused mass extinction events. 65 million years ago, for example, Antarctica was a thriving ecosystem covered in temperate forests inhabited by dinosaurs. The global temperatures were higher, sea levels were higher, and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were many times higher than they are today. Higher temperatures, sea levels, and CO2 levels made the planet more habitable, not less. This changed however, and to the detriment of many species that are now extinct.

Before the Cretaceous period, there have been many points throughout Earth’s natural history, that were we as humans to travel back, would find uninhabitable. The atmosphere has been in a state of perpetual change, the biology driven by this change has likewise continuously evolved. There is no “norm” in terms of geology, biology, or climate. The only constant is the inevitability of its constant change.

The climate will change with or without us. To ensure the survival of what we value in terms of human society, history, and infrastructure, as well as ecosystems and individual species we desire to preserve, we must come up with something better than “carbon neutrality” implemented by giving bankers yet another derivative to trade, and energy companies a legal framework to maintain monopolies over powering human civilization.

Part of the solution is not only leveraging technology to protect our towns, cities, and countrysides from adverse weather, flooding, and changes in temperature through innovative infrastructure projects, but undermining, decentralizing, and eventually eliminating permanently these corporate monopolies that are demonstrably destroying the environment.

Strange that 350.org wasn’t marching against genetically modified organisms (GMO) and Monsanto’s pursuit of overwriting the planet genetically. Could a planet face a more dire threat than being overwritten genetically, its very essence mutilated by profiteering corporations? Strange that 350.org‘s “Friends & Allies” don’t demand an end to profiteering wars around the planet that see tons of depleted uranium, with a half-life of billions of years, being dumped in both human and natural habitats the world over. Strange that 350.org, and “Friends & Allies” like WWF have in fact partnered with Fortune 500 corporations that perpetuate global monopolies, centralized manufacturing and distribution (and profits) that encourage wasteful supply chains, unhealthy socioeconomic trends, incur large amounts of garbage, and require the very petroleum and CO2 producing processes they allegedly were in Washington to oppose.

Indeed, 350.org and partners like the WWF do not represent corporations joining environmentalists, but rather represent environmentalists being co-opted and manipulated by the very special interests committing real harm to this planet.

Don’t Demand Action – Be the Action 

Waving around placards as part of a big-business rally couched behind environmentalism, demanding action from a government big-business already fully owns, simply legitimizes and manufacturers public consent for more of the same. More schemes, more waste, more fraud, more abuse, while the environment continues to unravel and a host of problems both directly and indirectly related continue to grow.

Real solutions generally don’t involve corporations or governments, in fact, as a necessity must exclude them. The marriage between corporate interests and government regulations should be something all of us can agree on, regardless of where we sit on the political or environmental spectrum.

Real solutions involve a real education in science, technology, design, and manufacturing. This empowers people in all levels of society to accurately assess problems and apply local solutions. This, coupled with modern manufacturing technology enables more to be done on a local level, short-circuiting the petroleum intensive logistical chains WWF sponsors like Walmart couldn’t live without.

Organic farming on a local level coupled with local farmers’ markets eliminates entirely the need for Monsanto poison, fertilizers, and genetically modified franken-crops, along with the replacement of the petroleum intensive logistical networks that distribute big-agri’s products. 3D printing, computer-controlled manufacturing, and local hackerspaces that encourage local entrepreneurship accelerate technological development and solutions that allow us to live the lives we wish to lead while doing so more efficiently in terms of energy, waste, and environmental impact.

In fact, when you think about it, almost all of these real solutions involve real community and local action, not placard-waving trips to Washington. These are not solutions that involve policies, taxes, and regulations, but rather technology, education, constructive, pragmatic, technical solutions that not only would make our environment more livable, but make our local economies and communities more viable and self-sufficient. The catch is, and the reason why this isn’t being done, you will notice that none of these activities require WWF sponsors like Walmart, Nike, IBM, Toyota, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, HSBC, Citi, IKEA, Nokia, etc.

We all desire cleaner air, healthier food, safer water, and greener parks. Waiting for a corporate-financier establishment to give it to us, when they themselves are the ones that have denied us of these essentials is the height of both naivety and futility.

Does it make sense then, to see why real problems and their solutions have become the target of hijackers like the corporate conglomeration that is 350.org and the WWF? Does it make sense to see them offering “alternative” centralized, corporate dependent solutions that replace local activism and tangible, technological solutions?

Why travel to Washington D.C. and demand non-solutions to real problems when you can organize locally and begin making this planet livable in very real, tangible, pragmatic, and measurable ways?

Mali, Francia y los extremistas

February 19th, 2013 by Tariq Ramadan

Mientras el mundo observa parece haber unanimidad entre la clase política francesa acerca del principio de intervención militar en el norte de Mali contra los «islamistas», «yihadistas» y «extremistas». Es cierto que algunas personas reprochan al gobierno haberse comprometido en solitario, pero consideran que la decisión de llevar a cabo una acción militar es «justa». El presidente francés, François Hollande, que parecía perdido en el centro de un gobierno confuso, recupera el prestigio y se labra la imagen de hombre de Estado, de jefe de guerra, que quiere «destruir al enemigo», «impedir que le haga daño». Por consiguiente, en el norte de Mali es donde Francia ve reflejarse, por fin, la imagen de un presidente fuerte, decidido, instalado en París.

Hay que empezar por el principio y adoptar una postura clara. Hay que condenar firmemente la ideología y la prácticas de las redes y grupúsculos salafíes yihadistas y extremistas. Es inaceptable su manera de comprender el islam, su manera de instrumentalizar la religión y de aplicarla imponiendo penas físicas y castigos corporales de manera odiosa. Una vez más la conciencia musulmana contemporánea e internacional debe expresarse alto y claro, y decir y repetir que esta manera de comprender y de aplicar el islam son una traición, un horror, una vergüenza, y que los primeros que deberían oponerse a ello son los propios musulmanes y los Estados y sociedades mayoritariamente musulmanes. Políticamente, intelectualmente y con toda la fuerza de su conciencia y de su corazón. Esta postura no puede aceptar concesión alguna.

A esta firme postura de principio hay que añadir el análisis geoestratégico y evitar confundir la claridad de la postura moral con la ingenuidad de una postura política binaria simplista: por consiguiente, ¿estar contra los extremistas yihadistas equivaldría obligatoriamente a estar de acuerdo con la política francesa en la región? La expresión de George W. Bush «estar con nosotros o contra nosotros» es fundamentalmente falsa y peligrosa tanto en su esencia como en sus consecuencias. Detrás del «noble» compromiso de Francia al lado de los pueblos africanos en peligro existen algunas preguntas que hay que plantear explícitamente. Occidente en general y Francia en particular olvidó durante décadas a los pueblos bajo las dictaduras tunecina, egipcia y libia antes de entonar elogios a las «revoluciones», a la «primavera árabe» y a la libertad. En Libia la intervención humanitaria tuvo sus aspectos turbios, aromas a intereses petroleros y económicos mal disimilados e incluso asumidos.

Unos meses más tarde Francia intervenía en el norte de Mali por el bien del pueblo con la sola intención de proteger a este país «amigo» del peligro de los extremistas ahora aliados de los rebeldes tuareg. Está por ver. La ausencia de datos económicos y geoestratégicos en la presentación política y mediática de los hechos es inquietante. Además, no se dice nada de la larga historia ni de la más reciente de alianzas de Francia con los sucesivos gobiernos malienses. Todo sucede como si de pronto Francia expresara su solidaridad política de manera generosa y desinteresada. Ahora bien, a la sombra de las recientes convulsiones políticas Francia no ha dejado de interferir, de presionar, de apartar a los actores malienses molestos (políticos o militares) y de crear alianzas útiles tanto en los niveles más altos del Estado como en los terrenos tribal, civil y militar. Tras la caída del coronel Gadafi se había debilitado y aislado extremadamente a Amadou Toumani Touré, derrocado por un golpe de Estado el 22 marzo de 2012. Parece haber pagado el precio de su política con relación al Norte y de sus puntos de vista referentes a la atribución de los futuros mercados de explotación petrolera. Los (a veces difíciles) vínculos de Francia con la organización secesionista «Movimiento Nacional de Liberación de Azawad» (MNLA) no son un secreto para nadie y permitirían establecer una zona de fractura entre el Sur y el Norte de Mali muy útil con vistas a la explotación de riquezas mineras muy prometedoras. Desde hace tres años (y más aún en los hechos) la presencia de Al-Qaeda del Magreb Islámico (AQMI) y de su alianza con las tribus tuaregs en el Norte ha sido otro factor para justificar la presencia militar francesa en la región (y que se hizo oficial desde el lanzamiento de «la guerra» hace unos días).

El gobierno francés y los responsables de las multinacionales del gas y del petróleo siempre ha relativizado o minimizado oficialmente los descubrimientos de recursos mineros en la región saheliana comprendida entre Mauritania, Mali, Níger y Argelia (incluso se habló de «milagro maliense»). Sin embargo, los datos son mucho más conocidos y confirmados de lo que se deja entender y Jean François Arrighi de Casanova, director de Total África del Norte, no dudó en hablar «de un nuevo Eldorado» con unos descubrimientos de gas y petróleo inmensos. La región tiene al menos cinco cuencas. La de Touadenni, en la frontera mauritana, ya ha revelado la importancia de sus recursos. Hay que añadir las de Tamesna y Iullemeden (en la frontera con Níger), la de Nara (cerca de Mopti) y la fosa de Gao. La Autoridad para la Investigación Petrolera francesa (AUREP, por sus siglas en francés) confirma el potencial del subsuelo del norte de Mali en recursos mineros (esencialmente gas y petróleo). Los primeros concernidos son Mali, Mauritania, Argelia y Níger, y con la caída del coronel Gadafi se han abierto las perspectivas de explotación para las compañías francesas (con Total a la cabeza), italianas (ENI) y argelina (Sipex, filial de Sonatrach) que se calcula que ya han invertido más de 100 millones de dólares en estudios y perforaciones a pesar de las dificultades debidas a la aridez y a la inseguridad. El pueblo amigo maliense bien merece que se defienda su sangre, su libertad y su dignidad cuando se conoce, además, el petróleo y gas que puede albergar su desierto. Lo que es un espejismo no son los recursos mineros del norte de Mali sino la realidad de la descolonización.

Por lo demás, ¿acaso no es legítimo plantearse determinadas preguntas? Nadie puede negar la existencia de grupos violentos extremistas y radicalizados cuya forma de comprender el islam es fallida e inaceptable. Ya hemos dicho que hay que condenarlos. Hay que constatar que estos grupos tienen unas estrategias políticas contradictorias y una molesta tendencia a instalarse en los lugares exactos en los que los recursos mineros son una baza capital. Se sabía que estaban en Afganistán (en una región inmensamente rica en petróleo, gas, oro, litio, etc.) y he aquí que sin saber bien por qué los «locos» extremistas se instalan en el Sahel maliense para aplicar ahí su inhumana y tan poco islámica «sharia». ¡En el Sahel desértico! Que no se nos malinterprete: es indudable la existencia de estos grupúsculos extremistas, pero existen dudas legítimas sobre su posible infiltración (tanto los servicios de inteligencia estadounidenses como europeos han admitido haber utilizado la infiltración basándose en agentes instigadores). Tanto los lugares en los que se han instalado como sus métodos bien podrían haber sido alentados y orientados: se sabía con George W. Bush y en Mali se ve ahora que se puede utilizar de forma útil a «unos terroristas». Durante nuestra última visita a Mali un jefe militar maliense nos confiaba sus recelos: «La orden es exterminarlos, ‘destruirlos’ (sic), aunque estén desarmados. ¡Nada de prisioneros! Se hace lo imposible por volverlos locos y por radicalizarlos». Extraña estrategia de guerra, en efecto. De forma más extensa [la revista francesa] Le Canard Enchaîné revela que el aliado de Francia, Qatar, firmó un acuerdo con Total referente a las explotaciones del Sahel y que, paradójicamente, apoyaba finciera y logísticamente a grupos radicalizados como «los insurgentes del MNLA (independentistas y laicos), los movimientos Ansar Dine, Aqmi y Mujao (jihad en África Occidental)». Si estos hechos resultaran ser ciertos, ¿sería una contradicción? ¿O es acaso una forma de animar y de empujar a los pirómanos (extremistas) para hacer útil, necesaria e imperativa la acción de los bomberos (franceses)? Un reparto cómplice de papeles, particularmente eficaz y muy cínico.

Mientras el mundo observa la reciente toma de rehenes en Argelia va a movilizar aún más los sentimientos nacionales a favor de la operación militar. Rehenes estadounidenses, ingleses, noruegos, etc. y ello en territorio argelino: ahora lo que está en juego sobrepasa Francia. La mayoría del pueblo maliense se alegra pero muchos de ellos no son ingenuos: la Francia amiga es sobre todo amiga de sus intereses y no es nueva su manera de intervenir selectivamente (en Libia o en Mali, pero no en Siria o Palestina). Se nos decía que había terminado la política sesgada de Francia en África, que habían fracasado las colonizaciones política y/o económica, y que ¡ha sonado la hora de la libertad de los pueblos de la dignidad de las naciones y de la democracia! Por consiguiente, habría que apoyar ciegamente esta hipocresía general. Hay que denunciar a los extremistas, condenar sus acciones y la instrumentalización de la religión y de las culturas, pero también es el momento de hacer frente a las responsabilidades. Los Estados africanos y árabes que olvidan los principios elementales de la autonomía y de la responsabilidad políticas (y los del respeto a la dignidad de sus pueblos), las elites africanas y árabes, y todos nosotros, que somos tan poco capaces de proponer una visión clara de la independencia política, económica y cultural, los pueblos que se dejan llevar por las emociones populares y los espejismos de las «potencias amigas» … todos nosotros, intelectuales y ciudadanos preocupados por la dignidad y la justicia en los países del Sur, tenemos que asumir la responsabilidad última de cuanto ocurre bajo nuestros ojos. La «destrucción» de los extremistas yihadistas del Norte de Mali no es una promesa de libertad al pueblo maliense sino, a largo plazo, una forma sofisticada de nueva alineación. Sin embargo, las formas de resistencia de los países del «Sur Global» (con los movimientos políticos e intelectuales comprometidos en el Norte) nunca han tenido tantas oportunidades como hoy de abrir otros horizontes y nuevas vías hacia su libertad.

Hoy todo lo que se ve es esta euforia, esta celebración o este silencio ante la acción liberadora de Francia y de la «comunidad internacional» que le apoya unánimemente. Es como si Oriente Próximo y África hubieran aceptado seguir estando sometidos mientras lanza sus últimos cartuchos este Occidente herido y moribundo a causa de las crisis económicas, políticas e identitarias que padece. El mejor servició que África puede hacerse a sí misma y a Occidente es no doblegarse ante la nostalgia y los delirios de poder de este último, sino resistir con dignidad y coherencia en nombre de los mismos valores que defienden Francia y Occidente y que, sin embargo, traicionan cotidianamente a merced de sus políticas mentirosas e hipócritas en América del Sur, en África y en Asia. El Norte de Mali es un espeluznante hecho revelador: he aquí un pueblo que canta su liberación política, la cual está asociada a su nuevo encadenamiento y ahogamiento económicos; he aquí a los políticos e intelectuales africanos o árabes que sonríen y aplauden (conscientes o inconscientes, ingenuos, arribistas o comprometidos). La hipocresía y la cobardía de estos últimos no es sino el reflejo de la hipocresía y la manipulación de las grandes potencias occidentales. Nada nuevo bajo el sol de las colonias.

Tariq Ramadan

Le blog de Tariq Ramadan

Texto original en francés : http://www.mondialisation.ca/le-mali-la-france-et-les-extremistes/5320056

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

America Shamed Again: Are US Lawmakers “Owned” by the Israel Lobby?

February 19th, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Americans have been shamed many times by their elected representatives who cravenly bow to vested interests and betray the American people. But no previous disgraceful behavior can match the public shame brought to Americans by the behavior of the Senate Republicans in the confirmation hearing of Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

Forty Senate Republicans made it clear that not only do they refuse to put their service to America ahead of their service to Israel, but also that they will not even put their service to America on a par with their service to Israel. To every American’s shame, the Republicans demonstrated for all the world to see that they are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Israel Lobby. (The Israel Lobby is not their only master. They are also owned by other powerful interest groups, such as Wall Street and the Military/Security Complex.)

The most embarrassing behavior of all came from the craven Lindsay Graham, who, while in the act of demonstrating his complete subservience by crawling on his belly before the Israel Lobby, dared Hagel to name one single person in the US Congress who is afraid of the Israel Lobby.

If I had been Hagel, I would have written off the nomination and answered: “You, Senator Graham, and your 40 craven colleagues.”

Indeed, Hagel could have answered: The entire US Congress, including Rand Paul who pretends to be different but isn’t.

The real question is:  Who in the Congress is not afraid of the Israel Lobby?

The hatchet job on Hagel is driven by fear of the Israel Lobby.

Perhaps the worst affront Israel’s American representatives ever inflicted on the US military was the coverup of the Israeli air and torpedo boat attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. The Israeli attack failed to sink the Liberty but killed and wounded most of the crew. The survivors were ordered to silence, and it was 12 years before one of them spoke up and revealed what had happened (James Ennes, Assault On The Liberty). Not even Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could get Washington to own up to the facts.

The facts are now well known, but as far as Washington is concerned they are dead letter facts. The entire event has been moved to some parallel universe.

Why are the Senate Republicans out to destroy Hagel for Israel?

The answer is, first, back when Hagel was a US Senator he refused to be intimidated by the Israel Lobby and declared, “I am a US Senator, not an Israeli Senator.” In other words, Hagel did the impermissible. He said he represented US interests, not Israel’s interests.  Hagel’s position implies that the interests of the two countries are not identical, which is a heresy.

The second part of the answer is that Hagel doesn’t think that it is a good idea for the US to start a war with Iran or for the US to permit Israel to do so.

But a US war with Iran is what the Israeli government and its neoconservative agents have been trying to impose on the Obama regime. Israel wants to get rid of Iran, because Iran supports Hizbollah in Southern Lebanon, thus preventing Israel from annexing that territory and its water resources, and because Iran supports Hamas, the only Palestinian organization that tries to oppose Israel’s total theft of Palestine, although Iran has never supplied Hamas with effective weapons.

The two organizations that oppose Israel’s territorial expansion, Hizbollah and Hamas, represent large numbers of Arab peoples. Nevertheless, both are declared, on Israel’s orders, to be “terrorist organizations” by the servile US Department of State, which in all reality should be called the Israeli Department of State, as it never puts US interests before Israel’s.

In other words, Hagel did not grovel. He did not say how much he loved Israel and how it would be his great honor to sacrifice all other interests to Israel’s, how he has waited his entire life for the chance to serve Israel as the US Secretary of Defense.

Hagel is not an opponent of Israel.  He merely said, “First, I am an American.”  His lack of craven subservience is unacceptable to the Israel Lobby, which has branded him an “anti-semite.”

Lindsay Graham, in contrast, has what it takes to be Israel’s perfect choice for US Secretary of Defense.

Graham will go out of his way to please the Israel Lobby. He will pull out all stops and behave with maximum servility to a foreign power in his effort to embarrass the President of the United States and his nominee, a war veteran and former US Senator who simply thinks that the US Congress and the executive branch should put American interests first.

Senate Majority Leader Reid has used Senate rules to keep Hagel’s nomination alive.

If Lindsay Graham succeeds in doing the Israel Lobby’s dirty work, he will have handed a defeat of the US President to the Israeli Prime Minister, who has demeaned the President of the United States for not doing Israel’s bidding and attacking Iran.

Americans are a colonized people. Their government represents the colonizing powers: Wall Street, the Israel Lobby, the Military/Security Complex, Agribusiness, Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Mining, and Timber interests.

Two elected representatives who tried to represent the American people–Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich–found representative government to be an inhospitable place for those few who attempt to represent the interests of the American people.

Like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Gerald Celente, I stand with our Founding Fathers who opposed America’s entanglement in foreign wars. In an effort to prevent entanglements, the Founding Fathers gave the power to declare war to Congress.

Over the years Congress has gradually ceded this power to the President to the extent that it no longer exists as a power of Congress.  The President can start a war anywhere at any time simply by declaring that the war is not a war but a “time-limited, scope-limited, kinetic military action.” Or he can use some other nonsensical collection of words.

In the first few years of the 21st century, the executive branch has invaded two countries, violated the sovereignty of five others with military operations, and has established military bases in Africa in order to counteract China’s economic penetration of the continent and to secure the resources for US and European corporations, thus enlarging the prospects for future wars. If the Republicans succeed in blocking Hagel’s confirmation, the prospect of war with Iran will be boosted.

By abdicating its war power, Congress lost its control of the purse. As the executive branch withholds more and more information from Congressional oversight committees, Congress is becoming increasingly powerless.  As Washington’s war debts mount, Washington’s attack on the social safety net will become more intense. Governmental institutions that provide services to Americans will wither as more tax revenues are directed to the coffers of special interests and foreign entanglements.

The tenuous connection between the US government and the interests of citizens is on its way to being severed entirely.

When President Obama speaks, most Americans hear what he wants them to hear: lofty rhetoric and a “progressive” vision.   But just below the surface the president has a subtly-delivered message for the 1%, whose ears prick up when their buzzwords are mentioned. Obama’s state of the union address was such a speech – a pro-corporate agenda packaged with chocolate covered rhetoric for the masses; easy to swallow, but deadly poisonous. 

Much of Obama’s speech was pleasant to the ears, but there were key moments where he was speaking exclusively to the 1%. Exposing these hidden agenda points in the speech requires that we ignore the fluff and use English the way the 1% does. Every time Obama says the words “reform” or “savings,” insert the word “cuts.”

Here are some of the more nefarious moments of Obama’s state for the union speech:

“And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms [cuts]…”

“On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms [cuts] that will achieve the same amount of health care savings [cuts] by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms [cuts] proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.”

This ultra-vague sentence was meant exclusively for the 1%.   What are some of the recommendations from the right-wing Simpson-Bowles commission? Obama doesn’t say. Talking Points Memo explains: 

-Force more low-income individuals into Medicaid managed care.

-Increase Medicaid co-pays.
-Accelerate already-planned cuts to Medicare Advantage and home health care programs.
-Create a cap for Medicaid/Medicare growth that will force Congress and the president to increase premiums or co-pays or raise the Medicare eligibility age (among other options) if the system encounters cost overruns over the course of 5 years.

There were many other subtly-delivered attacks on Medicare in Obama’s speech, all ignored by most labor and progressive groups, who clung tightly to the “progressive” smoke Obama blew in their face.

Obama’s speech also included a frightening vision of a national privatization scheme to previously publicly owned resources. But it was phrased so inspirationally that only the 1% seemed to notice:

“I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital [wealthy investors] to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children…we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers [corporations]…”

Obama’s proposal plans to “rebuild America” in the image of the wealthy and corporations, who only put forth their “private capital” when it results in a profitable investment; resources that previously functioned for the public good will now be channeled into the pockets of the rich, to the detriment of everyone else.

Allowing the rich to privatize and profit from public education and publicly owned infrastructure (ports and pipelines, etc.) has been a right-wing dream for years. This will result in massive user fees for the rest of us, while further dismembering public education, which Obama’s ill-named Race to the Top education reform is already successfully accomplishing.

Obama’s speech also put forth two massive pro-corporate international free trade deals, which would further drive down wages in the United States:

“We intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership [a massive free trade deal focused mainly on Asian nations]. And tonight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [free trade deal] with the European Union – because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”

While praising free trade Obama disarmed labor and progressive groups by throwing in the meaningless word “fair.”

Lastly, Obama’s drone assassination policy was further enshrined in his speech. Drone assassinations are obvious war crimes — see the Geneva Convention — while also ignoring that pesky due process clause — innocent until proven guilty — of the constitution.

But Obama said that these programs will be “legal” and “transparent,” apparently good enough to keep most progressive groups quite on the issue.

There were plenty of other examples of sugar-coated poison in Obama’s speech. It outlined a thoroughly right-wing agenda with no plan to address the jobs crisis — sprinkled with pretty words and “inspiring” catchphrases.

Some labor leaders and “progressive” groups seem dazzled by the speech. President of the union federation, AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, praised Obama’s anti-worker speech:

“Tonight President Obama sent a clear message to the world that he will stand and fight for working America’s values and priorities. And with the foundation he laid, working families will fight by his side to build an economy that works for all.”

And here is the real problem; as President Obama follows in the footsteps of President Bush, labor and progressive groups have found their independent voice stifled. The close ties between these groups and the Democratic Party have become heavy chains for working people, who find themselves under assault with no leadership willing to educate them about the truth, let alone organize a national fightback to win a massive jobs-creation program, prevent cuts to social programs, and fully fund public education. Obama’s second term will teach millions these lessons via experience.

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

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/us/politics/obamas-2013-state-of-the-union-address.html?_r=0

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/deficit-commission-co-chairs-simpson-and-bowles-release-eye-popping-recommendations.php

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/Trumka-Reacts-to-the-2013-State-of-the-Union

Capitalism is based on managing its inherent crises. It is also based on the need to maximise profit, beat down competitors, cut overheads and depress wages. In the 1960s and 70s, in the face of increasing competition from abroad, the US began to outsource manufacturing production to bring down costs by using cheap foreign labour. Other countries followed suit. Even more jobs were lost through the impulse to automate. To provide a further edge, trade unions and welfare were attacked in order to suppress wages at home. Problem solved. Or was it?

Not really. As wages in the west stagnated or decreased and unemployment increased, the market for goods was under threat – if people have less money to buy things, then what to do? New problem, new ‘solution’ – lend people money and create a debt-ridden consumer society. Of course, it produced great opportunities for investors in finance, and all kinds of dubious financial derivatives and products were created, sold to the public and repackaged and shifted around the banking system. That market became saturated and the debt bubble burst. This time around the ‘solution’ is to print money and give bailouts to the banks to cover their gambling losses and to get them lending once again. With a huge hole appearing in state coffers due to the bailouts and national debt spiraling during the years of neo-liberalism, the current crisis has become an opportunity for the finance sector to exert long-term debt-related control over sovereign states, including public asset stripping via ‘austerity’.

On a global level, as local democracy is usurped by the influence of international finance and powerful corporate interests under the guise of ‘globalisation’, traditional agricultural practices and local economies have been ‘structurally adjusted’ (via single-crop export-oriented policies to earn foreign currency to pay off debt, dam building to cater for what became a highly water intensive chemical-based industry, more loans and indebtedness and the unnecessary shifting food around the planet) and farmers forced from their land. The fact that such people can then at least swarm to some sprawling, overburdened city and, if lucky, get a few dollars a day job in an outsourced sweatshop or call centre is somehow passed off as capitalism’s ‘economic miracle’.

It’s apparent that, as the academic David Harvey states, the problems created by capitalism don’t get solved, they just get shifted around. Nowhere is this epitomized more clearly than the role of US agribusiness in India.

According to Jeffrey M Smith from the Institute for Responsible Technology, Russia, China and  the  EU were not the pushovers for GMOs that US agribusiness hoped they would be. However, with the US having sanctioned the opening up of India’s nuclear energy sector and, in return, its agribusiness and retail giants having actively shaped the Knowledge Agreement on Agriculture, India might well be proving to be an easier option.

Before GMOs became news in India, it was already clear that US agribusiness could not provide real solutions to the agrarian problems it had created with its ‘Green Revolution’. According to Gautam Dheer’s recent piece in India’s Deccan Herald newspaper (1), agriculture in Punjab (the ‘Green Revolution’s’ original poster boy) is facing an inevitable crisis, in terms of pesticide use causing cancer, falling crop yields and groundwater depletion. The model it has adapted is unsustainable. Indeed, what is happening in Punjab could be the tip of the iceberg as far as chemical agriculture in India (and elsewhere) is concerned.

And now evidence is mounting that agribusiness can’t provide genuine solutions to the problems it has also created through its GMOs, seed patenting and monopolies either.

A recent report in Business Standard (2) stated that such Bt cotton (GMOs represent the ‘Green Revolution’s’ second coming) yields have dropped to a five-year low. India approved Bt cotton in 2002 and within a few years yields increased dramatically. However, Glenn Davis Stone, Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, has noted that most of the rise in productivity had nothing to do with Bt cotton. (3)

What’s more, since Bt has taken over, yields have been steadily worsening. According to the article in Business Standard (2), it seems bollworms are developing resistance. Contrary to what farmers were originally told, the Monsanto spokesperson quoted in the Business Standard piece says that such resistance is to be expected. Stone says when Bt cotton arrived in India, farmers were told that they wouldn’t have to spray any more. All that farmers had to do was plant the seeds and water them regularly. They were told that, as the genetically modified seeds are insect resistant, there was no need to use huge amounts of pesticides.

The premise adopted by the GM sector was that for years people had tried to change ‘backward’ tradition-bound practices of these farmers. But now all you have to do is give them the magic biotech seed.

Now that resistance has appeared, Stone notes that, according to Monsanto’s spokesperson, it’s all the Indian farmers’ fault! The spokesperson explains in Business Standard that ‘limited refuge planting’ is one of the factors that may have contributed to pink bollworm resistance. Using the ‘wrong’ biotech seed is another.

The answer from the biotech sector to combat falling yields is continuous R&D to develop new technologies to stay ahead of insect resistance. Innovation from the GM sector is going to guarantee higher yields. Isn’t that what we were hearing ten years ago? Of course it is. It’s a massive con-trick.

Stone says that yields started dropping after 2007/8. After 2006/7, the number of Bt hybrid seeds being offered to farmers jumped from 62 to 131 to 274; by 2009/10 there were 522. Despite this, farmers’ yields are steadily dropping. And the way forward – more of the same!

The failing technology can always be replaced with more destined-to-fail technology, but one that at least offers a short-term fix. In the meantime, the Indian government effectively subsidises US agribusiness via compensation given to farmers whose cotton crops have failed, as is the case in Maharashtra (4).

Now that the government and Western agribusiness have conspired to set the corporate controlled merry-go-round in motion, there may be little chance of getting off. Having had control stripped from them, farmers may well be forever beholden to US agribusiness which took their power.

Privately owned agribusiness, as is the way with capitalism in general, is based on short-termism. Its predator corporations in India are merely engaged in managing and thus profiting from the crises they themselves have conspired to produce with their destruction of traditional agriculture and local economies and their chemical inputs and genetic engineering. By its very nature, as part of the logic of capitalism,US agribusiness is designed to stumble from one crisis to the next. And it will do so by hiding behind the banners of ‘innovation’ or ‘research and development’.

And with each new ‘fix’, with each technology, with each new pesticide, herbicide, GM innovation, we become further removed from working in harmony with nature as we attempt to dominate it with some or other biotechnology that further damages both ourselves and the environment. But, it’s all good business. And that’s all that really matters. There’s always money to be made from blaming the victims (in this case, farmers) for the mess created and from a continuous state of crisis management (aka ‘innovation’ and bombarding farmers with a never-ending stream of new technologies); and, as we are well aware in India’s case, there’s money to be made from the suffering of others.

Ultimately, this is what capitalism is all about: planned obsolescence – planned obsolescence of its products, in order that profits can be made from a stream of new ‘wonder’ products and, as far as India is concerned, planned obsolescence of its farmers as agribusiness sets out to uproot tradition and shape farming in its own chemical and genetically engineered image.

Capitalism doesn’t solve its problems, it just shifts them around. And part of the great con-trick is that it attempts to pass off its endless crises and failures as brilliant successes.

Notes

1) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/309654/punjab-transformation-food-bowl-cancer.html

3) http://www.globalresearch.ca/harvest-of-hypocrisy-farmers-being-blamed-for-gmo-crop-failures/5322807

4) http://gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14479–maharashtra-reports-massive-bt-cotton-failure

 

The Children of Iraq: “Was the Price Worth It?”

February 19th, 2013 by Bie Kentane

The following is a presentation given in the Dialogue sessions of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, May 2012.

“…Line up the bodies of the children, the thousands of children — the infants, the toddlers, the schoolkids — whose bodies were torn to pieces, burned alive or riddled with bullets during the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Line them up in the desert sand, walk past them, mile after mile, all those twisted corpses, those scraps of torn flesh and seeping viscera, those blank faces, those staring eyes fixed forever on nothingness.

 This is the reality of what happened in Iraq; there is no other reality….”

Chris Floyd, December 17, 2011[1]

I am more an aid worker than a politician or an analyst. But by following and monitoring the situation of the Iraqi children I became  more and more  convinced of the fact that both must be linked.

Behind all these data, figures and numbers that I will present to you, are children with a name, a personality, they are sisters, brothers, daughters, a son, a grandchild, a friend. I regret to have to put them in tables and categories, each of them , so vulnerable and fragile,  they became the victim of the greed and lust for power and oil, they didn’t deserved this treatment.

For two decades, Iraqi children, along with the rest of the population, have been subjected to grave human rights violations, caused by decades of war, foreign occupation and international sanctions.

Iraq has turned into one of the worst places for children in the Middle East and North Africa with around 3.5 million living in poverty, 1.5 million under the age of five undernourished and 100 infants dying every day.

This report will focus on the violations by the occupying forces and the Iraqi government of theConvention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949[2], and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Since the invasion in 2003, the Anglo-American occupation forces and the Iraqi government grossly failed to fulfil their most basic duties towards the children of Iraq in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Resolution 25/ Session 44, November 1989.[3]

Principles of the CRC emphasizes the need to protect children’s rights’ to life and physical, mental, moral, and spiritual development in a safe environment.

The Occupying powers bear full responsibility for the violations of these provisions and Conventions related to children. They should be held fully accountable for the harm they have inflicted upon the Iraqi children. They have deliberately changed the social fabric of the country, used ethnic cleansing to break up the unity of the country, destroyed water purification systems, health and educational facilities and indiscriminately bombed dense populated areas, leaving the children extremely vulnerable on all levels. Living in a country at war also causes mental disturbance to virtually all children, and acute anxiety and depression if not psychosis in a considerable number.

The Iraqi institutions and mechanisms that should ensure physical, social and legal protection for women, children and youth are dysfunctional and unreliable. As a result, the most vulnerable are exposed to exploitation and abuse, such as killing and maiming, kidnapping, gender based violence, human trafficking, recruitment and use by armed groups, child labour and deprivation of liberty.[4]

The international community and  international Human Rights bodies also bear considerable responsibility for this alarming situation because they failed to adequately address the grave violations inflicted upon the young and vulnerable in the Iraqi society and failed to identify the real culprits.

Article 6 (Survival and development)[5]

Direct Killings

Official figures and media-based estimates in Iraq, such as Iraq Bodycount, have missed 70-95% of all deaths. The most realistic and scientific estimate of war-related deaths comes from justForeignPolicy.org,  claiming 1.455.590 victims in January 2011[6].

Analysis[7] carried out for the research group Iraq Body Count found that 39% of those killed in air raids by the US-led coalition were children. Fatalities caused by mortars, used by American and Iraqi government forces as well as insurgents, were 42% children.[8]

Of the 45,779 violent deaths for which IBC was able to obtain age data, 3,911 (8.54%) were children under age 18.  Of the civilian victims killed by the US-led coalition forces for whom age data was available, 29% were children. [9]

Indirect killings 

Many more children have been indirect victims, falling prey to disease, malnutrition or starvation.

Widespread poverty, economic stagnation, lack of opportunities, environmental degradation and an absence of basic services , constitute ‘silent’ human rights violations that affect large sectors of the population”. a UN report released on 08 August 2011 concludes.[10]

The WHO, the United Nations environment program, The British Royal Society, and the U.S. National Academy of sciences have published some general studies on the health effects of DU that suggested that the greatest health risks are found among children in post conflict zones (Harper 2007), such as Iraq[11].

*Toxic environment

The wartime destruction of military and industrial infrastructure has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and groundwater. Sites , where municipal and medical wastes have accumulated , carry the risk of disease epidemics. Contamination from Depleted Uranium (DU) and other military-related pollution is strongly suspected of causing a sharp rise in congenital birth defects and cancer cases in Iraq[12] and makes the country unliveable. Low water levels in lakes and rivers have spelt disaster for water sewage systems and simultaneous poisoning of water rendering it unfit for human and animal consumption. Water supply from Euphrates and Tigris has dramatically dwindled, affecting Iraq’s fertile agricultural lands and the underground water supplies that have depleted with no signs of recovery. Consequently, drought has become a national issue[13].  ”

Doctors in Fallujah are witnessing (2010) unprecedented numbers of birth defects, miscarriages and cancer cases. According to gynaecologists, paediatricians and neurologists in Fallujah the numbers of these cases have been increasing rapidly since 2005 – less than 1 year after the bombing campaign by the occupying forces in 2004.[14][15][16]

*Malformed new-borns

Preliminary Data based on cases documented in  2010 show the rate of heart defects in Fallujah to be 13 times the rate found in Europe. And for birth defects involving the Nervous System the rate was calculated to be 33 times that found in Europe for the same number of births.[17]

Japanese doctors believe birth defect rates are of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Birth defect incidence rates there are between 1-2 per cent. Cases of birth defects related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the affected areas of Japan.[18]

*Cancer

Increases in cancer, leukaemia and congenital birth anomalies in Iraq (2010) have been blamed on mutagenic and carcinogenic agents (like depleted uranium) employed in the wars of 1991 and 2003. Increases in childhood leukaemia in Basra have recently been investigated (Busby, Hamdam, Ariabi 2010) and the findings confirm that there has indeed been a significant increase since 1991[19].

The increases in cancer and infant mortality, are alarmingly high. The remarkable reduction in the sex ratio in the cohort born one year after the fighting in 2004 identifies that year as the time of the environmental contamination.”[20]

The enriched Uranium exposure is either a primary cause or related to the cause of the congenital anomaly and cancer increases. Questions are thus raised about the characteristics and composition of weapons now being deployed in modern battlefields.”[21]

A study published by the University of Washington and the University of Basra concluded that Basra’s childhood leukaemia rates more than doubled over a 15-year period. The study  noted that the incidence of cancer was significantly higher in Basra province than in other parts of Iraq[22].

*Clusters and landmines

Landmines and explosive remnants of war have a devastating impact on Iraq’s children with around 25 per cent of all victims being children under the age of 14 years (2011).[23]

Causalities from failed cluster sub munitions rose between 1991 and 2007 from 5,500 to 80,000, 45.7% between the age of 15 and 29 years of age, and 23.9% were children under the age of 14. Both UNICEF and UNDP believe these figures are an underestimation.[24]

This last decade the Al Munthanna and Basra provinces of Iraq have challenged Angola for the highest proportion to total population of children amputees.[25]

Doctors insist that it’s the responsibility of the US to try undoing part of the damage it has caused. “The US government has spent billions on this war but none to revert the problems caused by its dangerous weapons,” fumes Dr.Bashier Mazim, another doctor in Baghdad University. “I can say that those new-born are the result of the American disaster that befell our land.”[26]

Mounting evidence of the radiological and chemical toxic effect of the use of uranium weapons forces us to speak out and ask our national governments and the international organizations to protect their civilians and soldiers, and to apply the precautionary principle. This means that when the health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action.The principle applies to human health and the environment. The ethical assumption behind the precautionary principle is that humans are responsible to protect, preserve, and restore the global ecosystems on which all life, including our own, depends.[27]

Article 24 (Health and health services)

The breakdown of health and community infrastructures has led to the death of children from avoidable causes.

Intentional killing and forced migration of medical doctors and health care personnel[28]

Up to 75 per cent of Iraq’s doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Almost 70% of critically injured patients with violence-related wounds , die in emergency and intensive care units due to a shortage of competent staff and a lack of drugs and equipment.[29] Without healthcare, more people died including children, women and the elderly.

The Red Crescent Society warns that child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 per cent .  Only one in three Iraqi children under five has access to safe drinking water, and one in four is chronically malnourished.[30]

Pollution and lack of sanitation including drinking water  shortages for up to 70% of the population[31], caused the death of “one in eight Iraqi children” before their fifth birthday. Death of young children in Iraq has been attributed to water borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, etc.[32]The Government of Iraq, in cooperation with UNICEF and the European Union, findings show that 79% of the population has access to the drinking water distribution network, leaving one in every five Iraqis without access to safe drinking water. In rural areas, those without access to safe drinking water doubles to two in every five Iraqis.[33]

Half of Iraqi schools expose children to an unhealthy environment. Half of all schools in Iraq do not fulfil minimum standards to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students, and 63% do not have chlorine testing for drinking water, putting children at risk for waterborne diseases.[34]

Article 26 (Social security): Children have the right to help from the government if they are poor or in need

A report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) placed Iraq among the 22 countries that suffer from acute poverty and lack of food security because of war and the failure of government institutions to provide the necessary sustenance[35].

The impact of conflict is  reflected in the increased proportion of slum dwellers in Iraq. There, the proportion of urban residents living in slums has more than tripled—from 17 per cent in 2000 (2.9 million people) to an estimated 53 per cent in 2010 (10.7 million people).[36]

Poverty due to economic collapse and corruption caused acute malnutrition among Iraqi children. As was reported by Oxfam in July 2007, up to eight million Iraqis required immediate emergency aid, with nearly half the population living in “absolute poverty”.

Starving whole cities as collective punishment by blocking the delivery of food, aid, and sustenance before raiding them increased the suffering of the young children and added more casualties among them.[37]

Parents also often ask their children particularly boys- to help to financially support the family instead of going to school.  UNICEF estimates that 1 in 9 children aged 5 to 14 years old work. Children are polishing shoes; selling in streets, pushing carriages.[38]

The financial status of most of these families is much below the average standard of living, even though the majority of the children’s parents are university level degree holders (i.e. teachers, engineers, etc.).

We can also conclude that most of these families cannot afford the most basic of necessities like quality food, medical care, and a safe, healthy residence[39]

In December 2007 the Iraqi government announced to cut food rations and subsidies by almost 50 per cent as part of its overall 2008 budget because of insufficient funds and rising inflation. Nearly 10 million Iraqis living in poverty depend heavily on the rationing system. Children are the first and worst victims of the reduction of the food rationing system.

In 2010, lack of donor funding has forced the United Nations to cut back on its humanitarian efforts in Iraq, with its food aid agency halting distributions to hundreds of thousands of women and children. The halt in food aid will affect some 800,000 pregnant and nursing women and malnourished children, as well as up to 960,000 schoolchildren, according to Edward Kallon, the U.N. World Food Program’s representative for Iraq.[40]

Article 28: (Right to education), Article 29 (Goals of education): All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free.

The destruction or closing of schools and universities, the displacement of the population and the fact that teachers are members of the professional class who were killed or forced to leave Iraq, resulted in loss of schooling for children and young people, and therefore loss of life opportunities. Many children were displaced during the occupation due to sectarian policies imposed by the occupiers, with no adequate facilities for their schooling. Loss of schooling is very hard to make up. Not only did the children and young people have their opportunities in later life reduced, but the community and ultimately the state also loses from inadequate education.

Enrolment

Statistics released by the Ministry of Education in October 2006 indicated that only 30% of the 3.5 million students were actually attending schools. Prior to the US invasion, UNESCO indicated that school attendance was nearly 100%[41].

Information on pre-school indicates extremely low provision and an extremely low take-up rate, confirming the lack of Early Childhood Development programmes within the formal educational system. Only 3.7% of children aged from 36-to 59 months enlisted in nurseries or kindergartens (MICS 2000). 5% of children enrolled are between 48-59 months as compared to 2.6% of younger children . Pre-school enrolment is 5.2% urban against 0.9% in rural.[42]

Today (2011), at around 87 per cent, the primary school enrolment rate is far below Iraq’s 2015 national Millennium Development Goal target of 98 per cent, a difference of Around 700,000 new primary school-age children never attend primary school every year. In addition, over 600,000 pupils are repeating their primary school grade of study the following year, including many who drop out of school altogether. Less than 50 per cent of all children who originally enrol in primary school go on to enrol in intermediate and secondary school during their adolescent years.[43].

Primary & Secondary School Attendance. The UNESCO and UNICEF 2008 findings that 1 in 5 primary school-aged children were unable to go to school (Relief-Web/UCHO 2008) is consistent with the MICS 2006 attendance figures of 5 in 6 (or 83%) (MICS 2006). The urban/rural attendance ratio is 89% to 75% (MICS 2006).[44]

Facilities and quality

Poor school stock is having an increasingly negative impact on the quality of education and attendance rates. A 2004 Ministry of Health (MoH) report concluded that 80% of school buildings required significant reconstruction, over 1,000 required a total rebuild and a further 4,600 major repair (MoH 2004 ‘Health in Iraq’).

These figures were confirmed in 2007 by UNESCO and UNICEF found that 70% of school buildings were suffering from war damage or neglect (cf. Relief-Web/UCHO 2008).[45]

According to UNICEF (2011), more than one in six schools have been vandalized, damaged or destroyed during the past years of violence, and there are severe shortfalls in facilities.

Lack of infrastructure and overcrowded classrooms force one third of schools to deliver lessons in two or even three shifts, coupled with acute shortages of essential teaching/learning materials.

Most schools lack potable water, toilets or refuse bins – the lack of access to sanitary facilities places particular burdens on girls.[46]

Moreover,repetition rates have beenforcing  Students with as much as 6 years of age difference remain in the same classroom and  in some areas there are not enough schools that can provide adequate instruction in the language required by displaced children from other areas,(for instance: Arabic-speaking children in Northern Iraq).[47]

In addition school buildings are often used for military purposes, in violation of The Hague IV Conventionson Laws and Customs of War on Land[48]. “MNF-I, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police units occupied more than 70 school buildings for military purposes in the Diyala governorate alone”, according to a UNESCO report in 2010.[49]

Security and Sectarianism

The UNESCO National Education Support Strategy released in 2008 estimated that 2 million children of primary school age did not attend school largely due to the security situation. While the situation has improved during 2010, children’s access to education remains compromised by the security situation. “Many threats against schools continue to come from(the so called) “ insurgent groups”  demanding a change in the curriculum or attempting to deny students from certain targeted groups access to education.The punishment for failing to comply with these demands is often violence”, according to the UNAMI HR 2010 report.[50]Who are these “certain targeted groups”, and what does the report exactly mean by “insurgent groups”?

Sectarian policies of the Maliki government hamper the right to education of Iraqi children in predominantlysunni areas. Attacks on educational institutions by the Iraqi Army and government militias, to intimidate, frighten, kidnap, arrest and kill students occur on a regular basis. As a consequence school attendance has decreased dramatically.A few examples will make this clear.

On 3 February 2011 the Muthanna Brigade of the Iraqi army prevented students of the Isra school for boys and from the Ascension High School for Girls in Haswa area of the district of Abu Ghraib, from going to school to perform their mid-term exams.[51]

On Wednesday afternoon, Jan 25, 2012, in the sunni-area east of the city of Yathrib, Tikrit, Iraqi Government security forces belonging to the LEWA [17] of the Fourth Division in the Iraqi Army broke into the Medina Secondary mixed high school, raided and searched the pupils, then arrested during this raid seven school pupils – eight and Ninth grade students between the ages of 13 and14 years – in a brutal way. The school was raided during the performance of students for their mid- year exams. The government forces didn’t give any reason or motive for this raid.

Sectarianism also comes “through the back door”.It seems that the students in dominantly “Shia” provinces obtained much better results than those in provinces with a predominantly Sunni population. In 2009 protests broke out in three Sunni Muslim cities in which conspicuously low numbers of students passed their national exams, fuelling suspicions that Iraq’s Shiite Muslim-led government is discriminating against Sunnis and others.[52]

Curriculum

The occupying forces changed the existing curricula , now  The Ministry of education is incapable of reforming the educational curriculum in an appropriate way due to the sectarianism of the Iraqi government, lack of capacity and experience. The whole national education system needs to be considerably strengthened at national, governorate and district levels to ensure access to quality education.[53]

Skills

Evidence is increasing that it is likely that A large number of children in Iraq suffer from preventable learning difficulties related to lack of early stimulation and learning. This degree of language delay may result from widespread psychosocial consequences of war, including increased poverty and fearfulness. However, psychosocial difficulties and poverty, including, preoccupation with day-to- day survival, amongst adults prevent them from being able to talk to or stimulate their children in the normal way.

In addition to the difficulties caused by lack of stimulation, children’s cognitive development is also affected by poor nutrition.[54]

According to a 2007 Oxfam report, some 92 per cent of Iraq’s children suffer from learning impediments.[55]

Girls’ education

In primary education girls account for 44.74% of the pupils. Some 75% of girls who start school have dropped out during, or at the end of, primary school and so do not go on , to intermediate education. Many of them will have dropped out after grade 1.[56]

Although U.S. and Iraqi officials believed that the 2007-2008 school year would see a much larger number of new school enrolments, 76.2% of respondents to ‘A Women for Women’ survey of 1,513 Iraqi women said that girls in their families are not allowed to attend school, and 56.7% of respondents said that girls’ ability to attend school has become worse over the last four years. According to Women for Women International Iraq staff, the primary reasons for this are poverty and insecurity.[57]

In 2010, a UNICEF report described the learning environment in Iraq as influenced by poor safety, family poverty and a reluctance to allow adolescent girls to attend school. The report quoted female students referring to their schools as ‘unwelcoming, unpleasant, dirty, poorly maintained with filthy lavatories and no drinking water.[58]

The chronic lack of educational and training materials and reduced educational capacity resulted in increased economic vulnerability of families with disabled children who presented an additional financial burden.

Many children living with disabilities live in rural or remote areas that seriously impact on their ability to access available services due to cost, lack of public transport and lack of knowledge about available services. Families from remote and rural areas may never see healthcare professionals. Even if the services are available, the cost of medical care will be prohibitive to most families

Assassinations and brain drain

Assassinationsand death threats against educators drove many out of the country. According to the UN office for humanitarian affairs 180 teachers have been killed since 2006, up to 100 have been kidnapped and over 3,250 have fled the country, until April 2008.[59][60]

The International Medical Corps reported that populations of teachers in Baghdad have fallen by 80% and medical personnel seem to have left in disproportionate numbers[61]. Roughly 40 per cent of Iraq’s middle class is believed to have fled by the end of 2006.[62]The brain drain and the destruction of schools and educational system is part of the cultural cleansing of the Iraqi society and identity[63]. Iraq’s educated and professional class, including teachers, academics and health professionals in particular, fled in their thousands following the assassination of colleagues as part of a targeted campaign, with devastating effect.

467 university academics[64]have been killed and more than 2000 doctors, hundreds of lawyers and judges, 376 journalists/media workers[65] and thousands of professionals.[66] This, in addition to the outflow of professionals during the UN sanctions years has left Iraq with an enormous task to rebuild not just its educational and health infrastructure but its specialist human capital.[67]

Article 20 (Children deprived of family environment): Children who cannot be looked after by their own family have a right to special care.

There  was a drastic increase of the number of orphans in Iraq during the war and occupation. There are five million Iraqi orphans as reported by official government statistics, urging the government, parliament, and NGOs to be in constant contact with Iraq’s parentless children.[68] About 500,000 of these orphans live on the streets without family or specialized institutions to take care of them.[69]

According to the ‘Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation’, an NGO, approximately 1 in 6 Iraqi children under the age of 18 is an orphan. Many orphans beg on the streets or sell water to help poor widowed mothers or siblings. They are very vulnerable to arrest for begging as well as to recruitment or abuse by criminals, extremists and human traffickers.[70]

Article 22 (Refugee children): Children have the right to special protection and help if they are refugees

On average, 75 to 80 per cent of the displaced[71] persons in any crisis are women and children.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society estimates that more than 83 per cent of the displaced persons in Iraq are women and children, and the majority of the children are under the age of 12.[72]

According to figures released on January 22, 2008 by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Iraqi refugees in Syria extremely suffered from trauma, more intens than refugees from other recent conflicts elsewhere. Moreover is revealed that 89.5 percent suffered from depression, 81.6 percent from anxiety and 67.6 percent from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).[73]

The problems of children who were forced to migrate represent a real humanitarian issue because a large number of families had no shelter, no finances, no health care, no education, and no security of any kind.[74]

The study of Dr Souad Al Azzawi shows that in her study group 43.6% of the children’s families left Iraq, 12.8% were forced to leave their residential areas,  11.7% of the children in the studied group left the country. All this due to a lack of services, security, and law enforcement and because of the fear for their lives. So 75.5% of the children in the studied group were forced to migrate from their living areas in Iraq.[75]

Furthermore 22.4% of the children could not maintain their education due to extreme financial difficulties. Iraqi refugees in Syria were unable to offer their children the free education. Other children were forced into labour in order to help their families survive.

UNHCR surveys in 2009 stated that 20% of Internally displaced persons ( IDPs) and 5% of returned refugees  reported children to be missing.  The total internally displaced population as of November 2009 was estimated up to  2.76 million  persons or 467.517 families A simple calculation shows that more than 93,500 children of internally displaced families are missing.[76]

Article 23 (Children with Disability)[77]

The distance to school, the poor state of the buildings, the absence of basic facilities, unsympathetic teachers, and lack help in understanding lessons, family protectiveness and the attitudes of society are likely to be insurmountable blocks for girls with disabilities.[78]

Reliable data on services for children with disabilities in Iraqi is extremely limited. The UN sanction years led to a chronic lack of investment and by late 1991 all four specialised training institutions and national coordinating institutions[79] were closed.

The chronic lack of educational and training materials and reduced educational capacity resulted in increased economic vulnerability of families with disabled children who presented an additional financial burden.

Many children living with disabilities live in rural or remote areas that seriously impact on their ability to access available services due to cost, lack of public transportation and lack of knowledge about available services. Families from remote and rural areas may never see healthcare professionals. Even if the services are available, the cost of medical care will be prohibitive to most families (Cameron 2005).[80]

The ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) is responsible for institutional care and the provision of benefits. Although there is a Central Government allocated budget to cover food, transport and other Social Care Establishment facilities, staff lack training and the units require modern educational facilities. Over 200 social workers are available but their lack of experience makes them largely ineffective.[81]

Article 33 (Drug abuse): Governments should use all means possible to protect children from the use of harmful drugs and from being used in the drug trade.

Nowadays in Iraq, many children do not go to school and don’t play in the streets but hide in corners to take drugs or to sell them. Experts say that many children, especially orphans, have fallen prey to drug abuse over the past few years. Prior to the 2003 US-led invasion, drug addiction among children was practically non-existent , according to Ameer Mohammad Bayat, a psychologist working with child addicts. In many cases children turn to drugs to ease the pain and sufferings inflicted by the war.[82]

UNICEF reports have warned that drug addiction is becoming more than a phenomenon amongst Iraqi children. There has been a 30 per cent addiction increase among children since 2005 and a nearly 10% increase during the last year .

But the problem goes far beyond addiction. Many children are trapped in a thriving drugs trade in “new Iraq”, (a local NGO tackling the issue in Baghdad). Gangs usually target children who lost a beloved one or who are working in the streets. “The dealers offer job and relief, easily bringing drug dependence among those innocent kids.[83]

Experts complain that the children drug plight is ignored by the government.

“The problem is worsened as the government neglects the chaotic situation children are living in,” said Bayat, the psychologist. He notes that the only help children get , comes from independent aid agencies and volunteers, who usually face a tough, sometimes dangerous, mission. “Security issues make it harder for volunteers to reach dependent children and offer help, as armed drug dealers can anytime take revenge against aid agents who try take children off the streets.”[84]

Article 34 (Sexual exploitation): Governments should protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, an Iraqi NGO,  estimates that about 4,000 women, one fifth of them aged under 18, disappeared in the first seven years after the war.

Innocent girls who should still be enjoying childhood under the protection of their mothers were being incarcerated for the crime of prostitution, an ordeal in which they were modern-day slaves. At this point, we even do not know if the numbers of Iraqi teenaged trafficking victims of the recent years amount in the thousands, or tens of thousands.[85]

The OWW reports  that minors girls among the prostituted females are up to 65%.[86]

Violence used against prostituted women and girls is mainly targeted to the pregnant. Many reports state that they were aborted by kicks and beating. Women and girls who had an abortion were forced to work immediately. Some of the girls are victims of torture in case of gang- rape. Children of prostituted women are sold or raped by pedophile customers and are condemned to a vicious cycle of imprisonment because of  forced prostitution and thereafter driven back to prostitution. In a few cases some girls are even selling organs.[87]

The younger the girl, the more lucrative the profits—the highest demand is for girls under the age of 16. Traffickers reportedly sell girls as young as 11 and 12, for as much as $30,000, while older “used” girls and women can be bought for as little as $2,000. The traffickers are aided by sophisticated criminal networks that are able to forge documents and pay corrupt officials to remove impediments.[88] In some cases, women and girls request to remain in detention centers even after a sentence is complete, fearful that their families will kill them.[89]

A report[90] released by the London-based non-governmental group Social Change for Education in the Middle East (SCEME)[91] highlights the plight of Girls as young as 10 or 12 have been trafficked from post-war Iraq into countries including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for sexual exploitation. Other victims trafficked within Iraq end up in nightclubs or brothels, often in Baghdad.. Some of those brothels “have been established purely to meet the demand created by United States service personnel,” it adds.

While sexual exploitation existed in Iraq, as anywhere, long before the war began in 2003, “the invasion and instability that followed led to an environment where young women and girls became much more vulnerable to trafficking”.

Some young victims are tricked into thinking a marriage proposal is genuine, Abou-Atta said — and then after being sexually exploited are swiftly divorced and dumped in the streets, all honor gone in the eyes of conservative Arab society. They are then easy targets for further abuse.

Another cruel practice, particularly in in Shi’a ‘ holy cities Najaf and Karbala and in Syria, is the “mut’a” marriage, in which a girl is married off in the presence of a religious figure, for a price to a man for an agreed period of time ranging from one hour to couple of months.[92]

No responsibility of the government

When raising this issue with the ImanAbou-Atta, a clinical researcher also encountered resistance.[93]

The government  and the British and U.S. authorities ,whose forces’ presence in Iraq were a contributing factor to the problem , has done little to combat trafficking in girls and women: there have been no successful prosecutions of criminals engaged in human trafficking, no comprehensive program to tackle the problem, and negligible support for victims, as noted above.[94]

Women’s rights groups told Human Rights Watch that trafficked women (and victims of sexual violence) often find themselves in jail. The government provides no assistance to victims repatriated from abroad. Iraqi authorities prosecute and convict trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. Victims are also jailed for prostitution, while authorities ignore their abusers.[95]

Article 38 (War and armed conflicts): Governments must do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by war (Psychological problems)

Total collapse of Iraq’s economy, the sectarian violence, American troop raids on civilians, the killing of family members have  deprived the children in Iraq of an innocent, carefree childhood. They have to deal with family breakdowns, poverty, and a complete lack of security. Iraqi children are being forced to assume income-generating roles because their families are suffering from hunger and poverty. They are leaving school and have to deal with adult problems such as unemployment, manual labor, etc. This situation expose them to hardship and many forms of abuse. Exposure to violence on a daily basis has affected their psychological development and behavior[96]. 46.8% of the studied population of children face serious health issues such as psychological and mental disorders.[97]

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the fourth leading cause of morbidity among Iraqis older than five years is “mental disorders,” which ranked higher than infectious disease.[98]

A study by the Iraqi Society of Psychiatrists in collaboration with the World Health Organization found that 70% of children (sample 10,000) in the Sha’ab section of North Baghdad is  suffering from trauma-related symptoms.[99]

In 2006 some studies on the prevalence of mental disorders of children were completed in Baghdad, Mosul, and Dohuk. In the first study it is found that, 47% of  primary school children  reported exposure to a major traumatic event during the previous 2 years, 14% had post-traumatic stress disorder( PTSD): boys 9%, girls 17%.[100]

In the second study in Mosul, adolescents were screened for mental disorders. 30% had symptoms of PTSD: boys 26%, girls 32%. There was a higher rate of PTSD in the older adolescents.  (92%) of the ill adolescents had not received any treatment.[101]

A study conducted at the child psychiatric department of the general pediatric hospital in Baghdad in 2005 found :  anxiety disorders (22%), behavioral problems (hyperkinetic and conduct disorders) (18%), non-organic enuresis (15%), stuttering (14%), epilepsy (10%) and depression (1.3%) (Al-Obaidi et al.).

Children had been exposed to fighting in the streets, passing dead bodies on the way to school, seeing relatives and friends killed or severely injured, and other actions of war and occupation.They didn’t just see them once in a while – they saw these things a lot, for years and years.

Almost every child is growing up as a son or daughter to victims of severe human rights violations such as torture, rape or chemical attacks. Most of today’s parents have not had the possibility to mourn their losses and recover from their traumatic experiences due to a lack of rehabilitation services and social recognition. Children living in survivor families therefore frequently become victims of aggression, physical and emotional abuse and neglect-effects of intergenerational conflict and dysfunctional family structures produced by collective trauma.

They are exposed to violence outside and inside their house.

As a consequence, they suffer from a wide range of behavioral disturbances and trauma-related stress reactions such as sleep disorders, agitated and hyperactive behavior, social withdrawal, depression, anxiety, as well as developmental and eating disorders. As children often have to support their traumatized parents in various ways, their own development in becoming productive members of society is inhibited.

Horrible images of torn dead bodies scattered in streets and the scenes of their fathers or relatives being killed in front of their eyes will remain firm in the children’s minds for many years and will leave negative psychological stamps in their future behaviors.

The “relentless bloodshed and the lack of professional help will see Iraq’s children growing up either deeply scarred or so habituated to violence that they keep the pattern going as they enter adulthood”.

IbnRushd is the only psychiatric hospital in the capital of 6 million people.[102]. Iraqi psychiatrists, like most medical professionals here, are suffering from training and funding shortages. No psychotherapy or crisis centers exist.

Of all the statistics that describe the devastation wreaked upon Iraq by the illegal war, the figures describing the plight of Iraqi children are the most troubling and heart-wrenching.  These children will determine the future Iraq.  Their wellbeing, or lack of it, will  have impact on the lives of all Iraqis regardless their sect, religion, or ethnicity.[103]

The Anglo-American occupation forces and the Iraqi government grossly failed to fulfil their most basic duties towards the children of Iraq.

The Occupying powers bear full responsibility for the violations of the provisions and Conventions related to children. They should be held fully accountable for the harm they have inflicted upon the Iraqi children.

The Iraqi institutions and mechanisms that should ensure physical, social and legal protection for women, children and youth are dysfunctional and unreliable. As a result, the most vulnerable are exposed to exploitation and abuse, such as killing , kidnapping, gender based violence, human trafficking, recruitment and use by armed groups, child labour and deprivation of liberty.[104]

We ask The international community and  international Human Rights bodies to  discuss these  issues in the council and send a special rapporteur to Iraq. 

Notes

[1] Chris Floyd, December 17, 2011War Without End, Amen: The Reality of America’s Aggression Against Iraq 

http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2200-war-without-end-amen-the-reality-of-americas-aggression-against-iraq-.html 

Empire Burlesque

[2] Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/380

[3] The convention was ratified by 194 United Nations countries, except the USA and Somalia.

[4] Fallen off the agenda? More and better aid needed for Iraq recovery http://reliefweb.int/node/360643

[5] FACT SHEET: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

http://www.unicef.org/crc/index_30228.html

[6] Iraq Deaths  http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq

[7] The report, “The Weapons That Kill Civilians, Deaths of Children and Noncombatants in Iraq”, was compiled from a sample of 60,481 deaths in 14,196 events over a five-year period since the 2003 invasion. Civilian casualties from concentrated bouts of violence, such as the two sieges of Fallujah, were excluded.

[8] Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children , Kim Sengupta, 2009 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-air-raids-hit-mostly-women-and-children-1669282.html

[9] Iraqi deaths from violence 2003–2011 Analysis and overview from Iraq Body Count (IBC), 2012  http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/2011/

[10] UN Calls Rights Situation in Iraq ‘Fragile’   http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/08/08-3

[11] Merrill Singer, G. Derrick Hodge, The war machine and global health: a critical medical anthropological examination of the human costs of armed conflict and the international violence industry. Elaine A. Hills, Dahlia S. Wasfi, The causes and human costs of targeting Iraq, p119.

[12] http://www.iauiraq.org/documents/1375/images…unitionsHumanHealthinIraq.pdf

[13] http://waterwebster.org/IraqWater.htm

[14] Humanitarian Disaster In Fallujah: Unprecedented Numbers of Birth Defects, Miscarriages and Cancer Cases by MalakHamdan http://www.brussellstribunal.org/Fallujah120410.htm

[15] Genetic damage and health in Fallujah Iraq worse than Hiroshima  http://www.brussellstribunal.org/Fallujah020710.htm

[16] The cause of congenital anomaly and cancer in Fallujah Iraq is identified as Enriched Uranium from novel weapons systems deployed by the US by Chris Busby and MalakHamdanhttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/Fallujah171011.htm

[17] Four Polygamous Families with Congenital Birth Defects from Fallujah, Iraq,SamiraAlaani , MozhganSavabieasfahani , Mohammad Tafash , and Paola Manduca ,http://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/Fallujah040111.pdf

[18] Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq. Samira Alaani, MuhammedTafash, Christopher Busby, MalakHamdan and EleonoreBlaurock-Busch http://www.conflictandhealth.com/content/5/1/15

[19] Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009 Chris Busby , MalakHamdan and EntesarAriabi  Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7, 2828-2837

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/7/7/2828

[20] Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009 Chris Busby , MalakHamdan and EntesarAriabi   Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7, 2828-2837

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/7/7/2828

[21] Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq. Samira Alaani1, Muhammed Tafash1, Christopher Busby, MalakHamdan and EleonoreBlaurock-Busch http://www.conflictandhealth.com/content/5/1/15

[22] Occupation could link to high child cancer rates ,2011

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15615222,00.html

[23] Moving ahead to improve lives of Iraqis affected by landmines, 2011 http://www.uniraq.org/newsroom/getarticle.asp?ArticleID=1495

[24] Moving ahead to improve lives of Iraqis affected by landmines ,2011 http://www.uniraq.org/newsroom/getarticle.asp?ArticleID=1495

[25] IRAQ – landmines, bombs, depleted uranium – devastation – children amputees. http://www.indymedia.org.au/2011/12/04/iraq-%E2%80%93-landmines-bombs-depleted-uranium-%E2%80%93-devastation-%E2%80%93-children-amputees-how-you-can-hel

[26] Iraq’s War Disfigured Babies ,2009

http//www.heyetnet.org/eng/reports/3964-iraqs-war-disfigured-babies-.html

[27] The European political landscape regarding the ban on uranium weapons – with focus on Belgium, Ms. RiaVerjauw, ICBUW, Belgium

www.rauhanpuolustajat.fi/…/seminaariraportti.pdf

[28] DahrJamail, “Iraqi Hospitals Ailing under Occupation” World Tribunal on Iraq, Istanbul, Turkey , 2005. http://www.brusselstribunal.org/pdf/HealthcareUnderOccupationDahrJamail.pdf

[29] The Iraq health crisis  http://gorillasguides.com/2008/01/16/medact-wmd-conflict-the-iraq-health-crisis/

[30] Women, children and youth in the Iraq crisis: a fact sheet, 2008 http://www.rhrc.org/resources/Iraqi_women_girls_factsheet%20FINAL%20JAn08.pdf

[31] Michael Haas. “Children and Unlamented Victims of Bush’s War Crimes”. ICH. May 1, 2009.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article22529.htm

[32] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[33] Survey on the state of the environment in Iraq launched; BAGHDAD, 22 September 2011 -  http://www.unicef.org/media/media_59892.html

[34] The figures come from a survey conducted in 2007-2008 by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and their KRG counterparts, in cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO) Humanitarian Update Iraq No.6 April 2009  http://ochaonline.un.org/OchaLinkClick.aspx?link=ocha&docId=1111049

[35]http://iraqdailytimes.com/iraqi-trade-ministry-introduces-income-based-rationing-assessment/

[36] The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010 UN

[37] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[38] Fallen off the agenda? More and better aid needed for Iraq recovery

http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B

[39] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[40] http://www.aolnews.com/2010/07/19/un-forced-to-cut-food-aid-to-iraqi-women-children/

[41] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[42] Cara- A Study of Education Opportunities for Disabled Children and Youth and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Iraq 2010  https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:131680&datastreamId=SUPPLEMENTARY-2.PDF

[43] UNICEF, 2011, European Union and Government of Iraq start €17M programme to improve primary education in Iraq   http://www.unicef.org/media/media_57942.html

[44] Cara A Study of Education Opportunities for Disabled Children and Youth and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Iraq 2010  https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:131680&datastreamId=SUPPLEMENTARY-2.PDF

[45] Cara A Study of Education Opportunities for Disabled Children and Youth and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Iraq 2010  https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:131680&datastreamId=SUPPLEMENTARY-2.PDF

[46] UNAMI HR 2010  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/UNAMIHRReports.aspx

[47] FALLEN OFF THE AGENDA? MORE AND BETTER AID NEEDED FOR IRAQ RECOVERY july 2010

http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B

[48] Yale Law School http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/lawwar.asp

[49] “Education under Attack 2010 – Iraq”- UNESCO. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4b7aa9df5.html

[50] UNAMI HR rapport 2010  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/UNAMIHRReports.aspx

[51] Dirk Adriaensens , Dying education in the “blossoming” Iraqi democracy, 2011, http://www.brussellstribunal.org/education160211.htm

[52] Saharissa, Another legacy of war: Iraqis losing faith in public schools,2009

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/world/story/75196.html

[53] FALLEN OFF THE AGENDA? MORE AND BETTER AID NEEDED FOR IRAQ RECOVERY july 2010

http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B

[54] Girls Education in Iraq, 2010, Unicefhttp://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/A3F345FEB60FD713C12577AD00341F90-Full_report.pdf

[55] Hans von Sponeck in: IRAQ:A CASE OF EDUCIDE, March 2011, Ghent http://www.brussellstribunal.org/Seminar/texts/en/2.pdf

[56] Girls Education in Iraq, 2010, Unicefhttp://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/A3F345FEB60FD713C12577AD00341F90-Full_report.pdf

[57] Girls Education in Iraq, 2010, Unicef, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/A3F345FEB60FD713C12577AD00341F90-Full_report.pdf

[58] Hans von Sponeck in: IRAQ:A CASE OF EDUCIDE, March 2011, Ghent http://www.brussellstribunal.org/Seminar/texts/en/2.pdf

[59] Humanitarian implications of the wars in Iraq, ICRC,http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/review/review-868-p929.htm

[60] 196 professors killed, more than 100 kidnapped since U.S. invasion http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news\2007-03-15\kurd1.htm

[61] http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/AMMF-727BUF?OpenDocument&rc=3&emid=ACOS-635P5D

[62] Iraq: Brain Drain Poses Threat To Future  http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1072793.html

[63] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[64] List of killed, threatened or kidnapped Iraqi Academics    http://www.brussellstribunal.org/academicsList.htm

[65] ASSASSINATED IRAQI MEDIA PROFESSIONALS   http://www.brussellstribunal.org/JournalistKilled.htm

[66] Dirk Adriaensens, The destruction of Iraq’s education, 2008    http://www.brussellstribunal.org/IraqEducation0608.htm

[67] Cara A Study of Education Opportunities for Disabled Children and Youth and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Iraq 2010  https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:131680&datastreamId=SUPPLEMENTARY-2.PDF

[68] Occupation’s Toll: 5 Million Iraqi Children Orphanedhttp://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/70886/?page=entire.

[69] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[70] DC Area Foundation Reopens Baghdad Center for Street Children  http://www.sicfiraq.org/wp/news/

[71] The Government reported that there are an estimated 1,343,568 post-2006 Internally Displaced Persons  in Iraq as of January 2011, with Baghdad hosting the largest number of IDPs with some 358,457 persons (62,374 families). UNAMI HR  2010  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/UNAMIHRReports.aspx

[72] Women, children and youth in the Iraq crisis: a fact sheet January 2008

[73] SYRIA: UN research indicates high levels of trauma among Iraqi refugees http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=76360

[74] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[75] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[76] Always someone’s mother or father, always someone’s child. The missing persons of Iraq. Http://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/Disappearances_missing_persons_in_Iraq.pdf

[77] Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

[78] Girls education in Iraq, 2010 http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/A3F345FEB60FD713C12577AD00341F90-Full_report.pdf

[79] Referral Institutions and the National System for Disability Prevention and Early Detection)

[80] Cara  A Study of Education Opportunities for Disabled Children and Youth and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Iraq 2010Cara  A Study of Education Opportunities for Disabled Children and Youth and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Iraq 2010  https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:131680&datastreamId=SUPPLEMENTARY-2.PDF

[81] Cara  A Study of Education Opportunities for Disabled Children and Youth and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Iraq 2010  https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:131680&datastreamId=SUPPLEMENTARY-2.PDF

[82] Iraq’s Children Drug Addicts, Dealers  , 25 December 2008 10:01

http://forums.understanding-islam.com/showthread.php?7464-Iraq-s-Children-Drug-Addicts-Dealers

[83] Iraq’s Children Drug Addicts, Dealers, 25 December 2008 10:01

http://forums.understanding-islam.com/showthread.php?7464-Iraq-s-Children-Drug-Addicts-Dealers

[84] Iraq’s Children Drug Addicts, Dealers  , 25 December 2008 10:01

http://forums.understanding-islam.com/showthread.php?7464-Iraq-s-Children-Drug-Addicts-Dealers

[85] Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq  http://www.equalityiniraq.com/activities/117-prostitution-and-trafficking-of-women-and-girls-in-iraq

[86] In 2007 OWFI took on the challenge of investigating and documenting the extent of trafficking and prostitution within our outreach in Iraq . Listing of Prostitution and Trafficking houses Found in 2008 primarily addresses issues of prostitution and trafficking (P&T) in Baghdad and its suburbs.

[87] Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq  http://www.equalityiniraq.com/activities/117-prostitution-and-trafficking-of-women-and-girls-in-iraq

[88]At a Crossroads , Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years after the US-Led Invasionhttp://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/iraq0211W.pdf

[89]At a Crossroads, Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years after the US-Led Invasionhttp://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/iraq0211W.pdf

[90] Silent victims: Iraqi women trafficked for sex,  Laura Smith-Spark, CNN November 10, 2011 — Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT) http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/10/silent-victims-iraqi-women-trafficked-for-sex-report-says/

[91] EntitledKaramatuna, or Our Dignity

[92] Silent victims: Iraqi women trafficked for sex,  Laura Smith-Spark, CNN November 10, 2011 — Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT) http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/10/silent-victims-iraqi-women-trafficked-for-sex-report-says/

[93] Silent victims: Iraqi women trafficked for sex,  Laura Smith-Spark, CNN November 10, 2011  http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/10/silent-victims-iraqi-women-trafficked-for-sex-report-says/

[94] At a Crossroads – Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years after the US-Led Invasion, H u m a n   R ri g h t s  W a t c h http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/iraq0211W.pdf

[95] At a Crossroads – Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years after the US-Led Invasion, H u m a n   R ri g h t s  W a t c h  http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/iraq0211W.pdf

[96] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[97] Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawihttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/IraqiChildrenSuffering2010.pdf

[98] WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, Division of Health System and Services Development, Health Policy and Planning Unit, “Health Systems Profile: Iraq,” 2005

[99] The Plight of Iraqi Children  by Adnan Al-Daini / January 5th, 2012 http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/01/the-plight-of-iraqi-children/

[100] Mental health of Iraqi children  Ali H Razokhi a, Issam K Taha b, NezarIsmatTaib c, Sabah Sadik d, Naeema Al Gasseerhttp://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(06)69320-3/fulltext

[101] Mental health of Iraqi children  Ali H Razokhi a, Issam K Taha b, NezarIsmatTaib c, Sabah Sadik d, Naeema Al Gasseerhttp://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(06)69320-3/fulltext

[102] PROTESTERS PLEAD FOR PEACE Civilian toll: Iraqis exhibit more mental health problem, James Palmer, Chronicle Foreign Service Monday, March 19, 2007 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/19/MNG06ONMIB1.DTL#ixzz1jcDU8UiD

[103] The Plight of Iraqi Children  by Adnan Al-Daini / January 5th, 2012 http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/01/the-plight-of-iraqi-children/

[104] Fallen off the agenda? More and better aid needed for Iraq recovery http://reliefweb.int/node/360643

09

Profiting From Human Misery

February 18th, 2013 by Chris Hedges

Marela, an undocumented immigrant in her 40s, stood outside the Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, N.J., on a chilly afternoon last week. She was there with a group of protesters who appear at the facility’s gates every year on Ash Wednesday to decry the nation’s immigration policy and conditions inside the center. She was there, she said, because of her friend Evelyn Obey.

Obey, 40, a Guatemalan and the single mother of a 12-year-old and a 6-year-old, was picked up in an immigration raid as she and nine other undocumented workers walked out of an office building they cleaned in Newark, N.J. Her two children instantly lost their only parent. She languished in detention. Another family took in the children, who never saw their mother again. Obey died in jail in 2010 from, according to the sign Villar had hung on her neck, “pulmonary thromboembolism, chronic bronchiolitis and emphysema and remote cardiac Ischemic Damage.’ ”

“She called me two days after she was seized,” Marela told me in Spanish. “She was hysterical. She was crying. She was worried about her children. We could not visit her because we do not have legal documents. We helped her get a lawyer. Then we heard she was sick. Then we heard she died. She was buried in an unmarked grave. We did not go to her burial. We were too scared of being seized and detained.”

The rally—about four dozen people, most from immigrant rights groups and local churches—was a flicker of consciousness in a nation that has yet to fully confront the totalitarian corporate forces arrayed against it. Several protesters in orange jumpsuits like those worn by inmates held signs reading: “I Want My Family Together,” “No Human Being is Illegal,” and “Education not Deportation.”

“The people who run that prison make money off of human misery,” said Diana Mejia, 47, an immigrant from Colombia who now has legal status, gesturing toward the old warehouse that now serves as the detention facility. As she spoke, a Catholic Worker band called the Filthy Rotten System belted out a protest song. A low-flying passenger jet, its red, green and white underbelly lights blinking in the night sky, rumbled overhead. Clergy walking amid the crowd marked the foreheads of participants with ashes to commemorate Ash Wednesday.

“Repentance is more than merely being sorry,” the Rev. Joyce Antila Phipps, the executive director of Casa de Esperanza, a community organization working with immigrants, told the gathering. “It is an act of turning around and then moving forward to make change.”

The majority of those we incarcerate in this country—and we incarcerate a quarter of the world’s prison population—have never committed a violent crime. Eleven million undocumented immigrants face the possibility of imprisonment and deportation. President Barack Obama, outpacing George W. Bush, has deported more than 400,000 people since he took office. Families, once someone is seized, detained and deported, are thrown into crisis. Children come home from school and find they have lost their mothers or fathers. The small incomes that once sustained them are snuffed out. Those who remain behind often become destitute.

But human beings matter little in the corporate state. We myopically serve the rapacious appetites of those dedicated to exploitation and maximizing profit. And our corporate masters view prisons—as they do education, health care and war—as a business. The 320-bed Elizabeth Detention Center, which houses only men, is run by one of the largest operators and owners of for-profit prisons in the country, Corrections Corporation of America. CCA, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, has annual revenues in excess of $1.7 billion. An average of 81,384 inmates are in its facilities on any one day. This is a greater number, the American Civil Liberties Union points out in a 2011 report, “Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration,” than that held by the states of New York and New Jersey combined.

The for-profit prisons and their lobbyists in Washington and state capitals have successfully blocked immigration reform, have prevented a challenge to our draconian drug laws and are pushing through tougher detention policies. Locking up more and more human beings is the bedrock of the industry’s profits. These corporations are the engines behind the explosion of our prison system. They are the reason we have spent $300 billion on new prisons since 1980. They are also the reason serious reform is impossible.

The United States, from 1970 to 2005, increased its prison population by about 700 percent, according to statistics gathered by the ACLU. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, the ACLU report notes, says that for-profit companies presently control about 18 percent of federal prisoners and 6.7 percent of all state prisoners. Private prisons account for nearly all of the new prisons built between 2000 and 2005. And nearly half of all immigrants detained by the federal government are shipped to for-profit prisons, according to Detention Watch Network.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which imprisons about 400,000 undocumented people a year, has an annual budget of more than $5 billion. ICE is planning to expand its operations by establishing several mega-detention centers, most run by private corporations, in states such as New Jersey, Texas, Florida, California and Illinois. Many of these private contractors are, not surprisingly, large campaign donors to “law and order” politicians including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

In CCA’s annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission for 2011, cited by the ACLU, the prison company bluntly states its opposition to prison reform. “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws,” it declares. CCA goes on to warn that “any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration” could “potentially [reduce] demand for correctional facilities,” as would “mak[ing] more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior,” the adoption of “sentencing alternatives [that] … could put some offenders on probation” and “reductions in crime rates.”

CCA in 2011 gave $710,300 in political contributions to candidates for federal or state office, political parties and 527 groups (PACs and super PACs), the ACLU reported. The corporation also spent $1.07 million lobbying federal officials along with undisclosed funds to lobby state officials, according to the ACLU. CCA, through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), lobbies legislators to impose harsher detention laws at the state and federal levels. The ALEC helped draft Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law SB 1070.

A March 2012 CCA investor presentation prospectus, quoted by the ACLU, tells potential investors that incarceration “creates predictable revenue streams.” The document cites demographic trends that the company says will continue to expand profits. These positive investment trends include, the prospectus reads, “high recidivism”—“about 45 percent of individuals released from prison in 1999 and more than 43 percent released from prison in 2004 were returned to prison within three years.” The prospectus invites investments by noting that one in every 100 U.S. adults is currently in prison or jail. And because the U.S. population is projected to grow by approximately 18.6 million from 2012 to 2017, “prison populations would grow by about 80,400 between 2012 and 2017, or by more than 13,000 additional per year, on average,” the CCA document says.

The two largest private prison companies in 2010 received nearly $3 billion in revenue. The senior executives, according to the ACLU report, each received annual compensation packages worth well over $3 million. The for-profit prisons can charge the government up to $200 a day to house an inmate; they pay detention officers as little as $10 an hour.

“Within 30 miles of this place, there are at least four other facilities where immigrants are detained: Essex, Monmouth, Delaney Hall and Hudson, which has the distinction of being named one of the 10 worst detention facilities in the country,” Phipps, who is an immigration attorney as well as a minister, told the gathering in front of the Elizabeth Detention Center. “The terrible secret is that immigration detention has become a very profitable business for companies and county governments.”

“More than two-thirds of immigrants are detained in so-called contract facilities owned by private companies, such as this one and Delaney Hall,” she went on. “The rise of the prison industrial complex has gone hand in hand with the aggrandizing forces of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which, by the way, has filed suit against the very government it is supposed to be working for because they were told to exercise prosecutorial discretion in their detention practices.” [Click here to see more about the lawsuit, in which 10 ICE agents attack the administration’s easing of government policy on those who illegally entered the United States as children.]

There is an immigration court inside the Elizabeth facility, although the roar of the planes lifting off from the nearby Newark Airport forces those in the court to remain silent every three or four minutes until the sound subsides. Most of those brought before the court have no legal representation and are railroaded through the system and deported. Detainees, although most have no criminal record beyond illegal entry into the United States, wear orange jumpsuits and frequently are handcuffed. They do not have adequate health care. There are now some 5,000 children in foster care because their parents have been detained or deported, according to the Applied Research Center’s report “Shattered Families.” The report estimates that this number will rise to 15,000 within five years.

“I am in family court once every six to eight weeks representing some mother who is surrendering custody of her child to somebody else because she does not want to take that child back to the poverty of Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador,” Phipps said when we spoke after the rally. “She has no option. She does not want her child to live in the same poverty she grew up in. It is heartbreaking.”

We have abandoned the common good. We have been stripped of our rights and voice. Corporations write our laws and determine how we structure our society. We have all become victims. There are no politicians or institutions, no political parties or courts, that are independent enough or strong enough to resist the corporate onslaught. Greater and greater numbers of human beings will be consumed. The poor, the vulnerable, the undocumented, the weak, the elderly, the sick, the children will go first. And those of us watching helplessly outside the gates will go next.

El pasado 29 de diciembre, el Estado de Israel no se presentó a su segundo Examen (1) Periódico Universal en la decimoquinta (2) Sesión del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos (3). ¿Temía las recomendaciones del informe de Amnistía Internacional? (4).

Los 193 miembros de la comunidad internacional tienen la obligación de presentarse cada cuatro años al Examen Periódico Universal (EPU), «uno de los pilares en los que se apoya el Consejo de los Derechos Humanos para recordar a los Estados su responsabilidad (…) de respetar plenamente y aplicar todos los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales. El objetivo último del EPU es examinar y mejorar la situación de los derechos humanos en todos los países y procesar las violaciones de los derechos humanos dondequiera que se produzcan» (5). El EPU se concibió para (…) « promover la universalidad, la interdependencia, la indivisibilidad y la interrelación de todos los derechos humanos; un mecanismo de cooperación basado en una información objetiva y fiable y en el diálogo interactivo, así como para garantizar la cobertura general y el trato igualitario a todos los Estados (…)» (6).

La decisión del Estado de Israel, la primera en su género, ciertamente constituirá un precedente que acarrea el riesgo cuestionar el proceso del EPU, y más probablemente el de debilitar el papel del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos ya ampliamente discutido.

¿El Estado de Israel se permitió rechazar el Examen porque solo es miembro observador? Ningún Estado miembro observador puede ignorar que su estatus no permite eludir el Examen Periódico Universal.

Recordemos que el Consejo está compuesto por 47 Estados miembros elegidos por mayoría absoluta de la Asamblea General para tres años y reelegibles una sola vez. El Consejo de los Derechos Humanos, órgano intergubernamental y subsidiario de la Asamblea General, ha sustituido a la antigua Comisión de los Derechos Humanos que dependía del Consejo Económico y Social (ECOSOC).

En realidad la reacción del Estado de Israel era previsible, ya que el pasado 26 de marzo el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Avigdor Lieberman, informó por correo a la presidenta (7) del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos, Laura Dupuy-Lasserre de Uruguay, de que el gobierno suspendía sus relaciones con el Consejo de los Derechos Humanos porque dicho Consejo disponía de una «mayoría automática hostil a Israel (…); ese organismo hipócrita no tiene nada que ver con los derechos humanos. Su posicionamiento y su falta de objetividad son evidentes y no tenemos ninguna razón para cooperar con él». Incluso fue más lejos y afirmó que «no seremos actores en ese teatro del absurdo porque el 70% de las decisiones del Consejo son hostiles a Israel. Tenemos la intención de pedir a los países libres, como Estados Unidos, que se retiren» (8).

Esta brutal reacción fue la respuesta a la decisión (9) del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos de poner en marcha una misión (10) investigadora internacional e independiente (la primera en su género) sobre las consecuencias de la colonización israelí de los Territorios Palestinos Ocupados, incluido Jerusalén Oriental, respecto a los derechos civiles, políticos, socioeconómicos y culturales. Esta no es la primera vez, ni será la última, que el Estado israelí quiebra algunos procedimientos de la ONU, recordemos el Informe Goldstone, la conferencia de Durban de 2001 y su continuación en 2009 en Ginebra y numerosas resoluciones de la Asamblea General o del Consejo de Seguridad.

A eso hay que añadir que esa misión internacional independiente entregó su informe (11) antes de Examen Periódico Universal al cual debería responder el Estado israelí. ¿Quizá Israel considera que dicho informe es un elemento de cargo y por lo tanto, desde su punto de vista, parcial?

La cuestión que viene espontáneamente a la cabeza es por qué los informes coercitivos no se aplican al Estado de Israel, que solo acepta algunas reprimendas de su aliado favorito, Estados Unidos. Por qué ningún Estado consigue romper esa arrogante convicción del Estado de Israel de que está por encima de todas las leyes internacionales, incluidas las del derecho internacional humanitario, y que puede tomar la decisión de perpetrar asesinatos selectivos, seguir ocupando, cada vez con más violencia, los Territorios Palestinos, encarcelar sin proceso ni juicio a miles de palestinos por presuntas razones de seguridad que solo Israel conoce, mantener a 1,5 millones de personas bajo un embargo inhumano e ilegal, robar las tierras y los recursos acuáticos, por no hablar de las políticas de apartheid con respecto al conjunto de los palestinos ocupados, la aplicación de leyes xenófobas a las minorías israelíes y a los palestinos de 1948, sin olvidar la forma indigna e inhumana en que trata a los emigrantes… la lista de las violaciones es larga. Y conocida. ¡Los pueblos pagan un precio muy alto!

Numerosos reportajes han mostrado en directo los actos ilícitos, los artículos publicados tanto en Haaretz como en Jerusalem Post (12) describen dura y minuciosamente esas graves faltas. Se podría decir que todo se juega en directo.

¡Y no hay que olvidar las declaraciones de algunos militares (13) o de los colonos que se jactan de sus hazañas sin ninguna contención! Los informes de las instituciones internacionales, de las ONG o de las asociaciones tanto palestinas (14) como israelíes (15) e internacionales refuerzan los numerosos testimonios.

¿Tendremos que remontarnos a las condiciones de la creación del Estado de Israel para entender plenamente qué es lo que le autoriza a situarse fuera del derecho internacional y del derecho internacional humanitarios? Ciertamente.

No podemos olvidar el peso de la culpabilidad europea y de un país como Estados Unidos, que prefieren mirar a otro lado y hablar de faltas moderadas o del derecho del Estado a defenderse ante más de 1.500 muertos y 4.500 heridos en la «Operación Plomo Fundido» (16). Este estribillo lo repiten tanto Joe Biden (17) como Barak Obama (18), Hillary Clinton (19) y por supuesto los responsables del ejército israelí quienes en la web de Tsahal presentan una peligrosa justificación (20) de «legítima defensa».

El Estado de Israel no deja de aprovecharse de esa culpabilidad, ayudado por sus numerosas redes que ejercen un lobbiying en las instancias a las que tienen acceso.

Así, los «amigos de Israel» aportan su apoyo económico a todas las estructuras del país, lo apoyan en sus numerosos esfuerzos para introducir en ciertas instancias (21) económicas, existentes o previstas, en diferentes países y diferentes continentes, por ejemplo a las empresas (22) que distribuyen los productos de las colonias ilegales (23) o para conseguir contratos fantásticos con grandes empresas extranjeras, como fue el caso con Veolia y Alsthon en la construcción del tranvía (24) de Jerusalén, entre otras muchas violaciones.

Todo eso se lleva a cabo mientras los Estados y las empresas saben perfectamente que el Estado de Israel viola las leyes imperativas que deberían garantizar el respeto de los derechos humanos y los derechos fundamentales y comete crímenes de guerra e incluso crímenes contra la humanidad.

Los Estados-partes de la Cuarta Convención de Ginebra tienen la obligación, como recordó la Corte Internacional de Justicia en 2004, «en el respeto a la Carta y el derecho internacional, de hacer que el Estado de Israel respete el derecho internacional humanitario incluido en esta Convención (25)». Israel repite constantemente que esa Convención (26) no es aplicable a los palestinos. Así, en enero de 2002, cuando los palestinos (27) fueron expulsados por presuntas razones de seguridad de Cisjordania a la Franja de Gaza, la Corte Suprema de Israel afirmó que esas expulsiones «no eran contrarias al artículo 49 de la Cuarta Convención de Ginebra» (28).

En cuanto al Estado de Israel, en tanto que potencia militar ocupante, el Consejo de Seguridad, la Asamblea General, la antigua Comisión de los Derechos Humanos, el Consejo de los Derechos Humanos o el Tribunal Internacional de Justicia –por nombrar solo algunas instancias- no dejan de insistir en que Israel debe cumplir las obligaciones que conciernen a las leyes y usos de la guerra terrestre señaladas en las Regulaciones (29) de La Haya de 1907, que forman parte del derecho consuetudinario en la IV Convención de Ginebra, relativa a la protección de las personas civiles en tiempos de guerra de 1949, de la que el Estado de Israel es Alta Parte Contratante. Sin olvidar el conjunto de los tratados relativos a los derechos humanos y los derechos fundamentales que son aplicables tanto en tiempos de paz como en tiempos de guerra.

No hay nada que hacer. Con cinismo y violencia el Estado de Israel viola, burla y denigra todas las Convenciones, Resoluciones, Declaraciones y Recomendaciones apoyado por su aliado Estados Unidos.

Sin embargo Israel, al reivindicar su derecho legítimo a un Estado y aceptando convertirse en miembro de la comunidad internacional por la Resolución 191, aceptó respetar los objetivos y principios de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas. Por lo tanto no puede interpretar el artículo 51 de la Carta de la ONU como le plazca. No debe olvidar que su gobierno aceptó adherirse a esta Carta cuyo objetivo esencial es «mantener la paz y la seguridad internacionales» (30), sin olvidar que dicha Carta se hizo por iniciativa de los «Pueblos de las Naciones» que querían que los gobiernos actuasen en su nombre para «crear las condiciones necesarias para el mantenimiento de la justicia y el respeto de las obligaciones nacidas de los tratados y otras fuentes del derecho internacional» (31).

El artículo 51 permite, en efecto, el empleo de la fuerza como reacción a «una agresión armada única y exclusivamente si se informa al Consejo de Seguridad y eso no afecta de ninguna manera al poder y el deber del Consejo en virtud de la Carta». Está muy lejos de ser el caso. Según los comentarios del artículo 51 contenidos en la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, comentarios hechos artículo por artículo (32), los autores constatan con preocupación que la «legítima defensa que debería ser la excepción, una válvula de seguridad (…) se ha convertido en la norma (…) y ha llevado al fracaso del sistema de seguridad colectiva instituido en la Carta.

Añaden que algunos Estados también se sirven de la legítima defensa para garantizar la protección de los residentes en el extranjero o como una reacción a ataques armados que tomarían la forma de agresión infiltrada «injerencia militar del exterior (…)» contra eventuales y presuntas agresiones futuras –acción preventiva-.

Sobre este último punto es interesante comprobar, por una parte, que el Estado de Israel justificó su ataque a un centro de investigación militar, en el noroeste de Siria (33), presuntamente para evitar que las armas cayeran en manos de Hizbulá; y por otra parte los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad a quienes el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores sirio envió una carta no han reaccionado, aunque sí lo hicieron en otras ocasiones, por ejemplo cuando Siria atacó en octubre un pueblo turco (34).

En esa carta, el ministro sirio señala «el fracaso del Consejo de Seguridad al liberarse de su responsabilidad para impedir ese grave ataque israelí que cierne grandes riesgos sobre la estabilidad de Oriente Medio y la seguridad mundial» y carga «toda la responsabilidad de las consecuencias de esa agresión sobre Israel y los Estados que le protegen en el Consejo de Seguridad» (35). Más allá del deseo, varias veces expresado por medio de las agresiones que rebasan el marco fijado en el artículo 51 y violan las normas imperativas, el Estado de Israel intenta crear una nueva realidad que correspondería, según él, al choque de las civilizaciones definido por Huntington, pero viola claramente el artículo 264 de la Carta poniendo cada vez más en peligro la paz y la seguridad internacionales.

Asistimos cada vez más al regreso del concepto Ius ad bellum; estamos de acuerdo con Charles Chaumont en que «el Estado de derecho internacional está marcado por la primacía de las apariencias sobre las realidades, por la determinación de las reglas sin considerar las condiciones concretas de su aparición y su aplicación, así como por la estructura de los Estados y relaciones internacionales implicadas. Se trata de una mezcla de cinismo e ilusionismo» (36).

El Consejo de Seguridad cada vez es más incapaz de hacerse oír ya que al mismo tiempo es objeto de presiones de uno u otro de los cinco miembros permanentes y de los otros 10 Estados no permanentes elegidos por la Asamblea General y por la manifestación de un desequilibrio geográfico flagrante.

Sin hablar, por supuesto, de la forma en que se toman las «decisiones del Consejo de Seguridad con respecto al resto de las cuestiones que no implican procedimientos» (37). En la actualidad, el poder de intervención depende únicamente de los cinco miembros permanentes del Consejo, lo que es contrario a la propia esencia de la Carta, que se basa en la no discriminación con su corolario de «la igualdad entre naciones grandes y pequeñas» (38). Entonces, debemos admitir con Roland y Monique Weyl (39) que la utilización del derecho de veto establecida en el marco del Consejo de Seguridad es contrario a uno de los principios fundamentales de la Carta y es necesario revisarlo para respetar dicho principio.

En definitiva, la decisión del Estado de Israel de no asistir al EPU muestra el debilitamiento de las instancias de la ONU, sus dificultades de funcionamiento y su cuestionamiento con respecto a la instrumentalización del derecho internacional que legaliza la violencia, la colonización, la dominación y el sometimiento de los pueblos, además de legalizar, por medio del orden jurídico internacional elaborado científicamente y materializado como «doctrina», el racismo hacia los pueblos colonizados y el orden jurídico internacional de saqueo y robo de las riquezas naturales y los bienes culturales de los pueblos. Se trata de un derecho internacional que esconde, enmascara las contradicciones y las realidades de la dominación de los más fuertes sobre los más débiles.

También es el momento de constatar que las reglas de funcionamiento establecidas raramente se aplican, puesto que en teoría a un Estado que cometiera esas graves y sistemáticas violaciones de los derechos humanos se le podría suspender si lo demandasen dos tercios de los votantes de la Asamblea General… cierto número de Estados está, por desgracia para los pueblos, en esa situación.

El Consejo de los Derechos Humanos «después de agotar todos los esfuerzos para alentar a un Estado a cooperar en el procedimiento del Examen Periódico Universal, podrá actuar, si ha lugar, con respecto a los casos de no cooperación persistente» (40), pero, ¿servirán de algo las medidas que se impongan? Numerosos Estados miembros del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos denunciaron esta primera no cooperación y se consideran particularmente afectados por esta decisión que corre el riesgo de debilitar el mecanismo de la EPU y crear una precedente; sin olvidar, como señala Turquía, que el Consejo corre el riesgo de abrir una brecha en el sistema al conceder un plazo (41) a un país que no coopera. ¡Es necesario que el Consejo de los Derechos Humanos defina el concepto de «no-cooperación»! ¡El futuro del Consejo podría estar en juego!

Dos organismos de la ONU -El Consejo de Seguridad y el Consejo de los Derechos Humanos- dos disfunciones demostradas que se explican, en parte, por la naturaleza de las relaciones de fuerza y cuyos errores tienen consecuencias sobre los pueblos que cada vez resultan más despojados de todos sus derechos y deben enfrentarse a numerosas dificultades para conseguir que se reconozcan y se apliquen los citados derechos.

Dos propuestas que podrían reducir las disfunciones de esos organismos; por una parte eliminar el derecho de veto de los cinco miembros permanentes del Consejo de Seguridad que ya no son legítimos desde el final de la colonización y la caída del muro de Berlín; ¿acaso fueron legítimos alguna vez? Los pueblos deben conseguir medios de representatividad que tengan en cuenta al mismo tiempo el principio de soberanía de los pueblos y la eficacia de dicha soberanía.

Por otra parte es necesario incrementar el número de Estados del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos de forma que el Consejo no esté secuestrado por algunos Estados y que los que no forman parte aprovechen para deslegitimarlo.

Cada vez es más difícil para los Pueblos de las Naciones creer que sus gobernantes están para « preservar a las generaciones venideras del flagelo de la guerra que dos veces durante nuestra vida ha infligido a la Humanidad sufrimientos indecibles » (42).

Existe una ruptura dramática entre la comunidad internacional y el Pueblo de las Naciones; si este último siempre está dispuesto «(…) a volver a proclamar su fe en los derechos humanos fundamentales, en la dignidad y el valor de las personas, en la igualdad de derechos de los hombres y mujeres, así como de las naciones grandes y pequeñas», la comunidad internacional por su parte está lejos de « crear condiciones bajo las cuales puedan mantenerse la justicia y el respeto de las obligaciones emanadas de los tratados y otras fuentes del derecho internacional (…) con el fin de practicar la tolerancia, convivir en paz como buenos vecinos y unir nuestras fuerzas para mantener la paz y la seguridad internacionales » (43).

Los pueblos se tambalean bajo los golpes de la crisis económica orquestada por las numerosas desregulaciones del sistema financiero capitalista y comercial y son víctimas directas de ese liberalismo desenfrenado, inhumano y violento. Los derechos económicos, sociales, culturales y medioambientales, así como los derechos civiles y políticos, están desde hace muchos años cuestionados sistemáticamente por las decisiones de numerosos gobiernos que optan por privatizar la sanidad, la educación, la vivienda o los transportes públicos y vuelven a cuestionar, en nombre de una globalización unilateral, el derecho de los pueblos a disponer de sí mismos para privarlos mejor de su derecho a disponer de sus recursos naturales. El sistema capitalista, que empieza a mostrar sus límites, intenta imponerse por medio de la guerra infinita que instala en varias partes del mundo o entre las diferentes culturas en nombre de un modelo único de civilización.

Frente a ese sistema mortífero, los pueblos deben alzar sus voces diversas, su adhesión fundamental al derecho a disponer de sí mismos, su rechazo a ese orden que los explota y los excluye del reparto del poder y las riquezas y les niega el derecho a la paz y a la seguridad internacionales (43).

Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Caty R.

Notas

(1) Cada cuatro años, todos los Estados deben participar en ese Examen. Todos los años, 48 Estados son revisados según el principio de reparto geográfico equitativo y por orden alfabético.

(2) Del 21 de enero al 1 de febrero de 2012

(3) El Consejo de los derechos Humanos fue creado por la Asamblea General de la ONU el 5 de marzo de 2006, en sustitución de la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos, por 170 votos, 4 en contra (Estados Unidos, Islas Marshals, Israel y Palau) y 3 abstenciones (Bielorrusia, Irán y Venezuela), con el objetivo principal de promover el respeto universal y la defensa de todos los derechos humanos. También está encargado de examinar las violaciones de estos últimos y hacer las recomendaciones al respecto, siempre conservando la tarea de desarrollar el derecho internacional en materia de derechos humanos. Podemos preguntarnos por qué el número de Estados miembros ha disminuido con respecto al de la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos a pesar de que han llegado nuevos Estados independientes, http://www2.ohchr.org/spanish/bodies/hrcouncil/

(4) Examen Periódico Universal, decimoquinta sesión (1 de febrero de 2013) lista de recomendaciones para los Estados examinados.

(5) El Examen Periódico Universal (EPU) fue establecido por la Resolución 60/251. Este proceso, basado en la cooperación permite la presentación.http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/AboutUs/CivilSociety/Chapter_7_sp.pdf

(6) Principales y objetivos, 1. Principales 3ª, 3b, 3c; Resolución 5/1 Institution-Bulding of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

(7) Desde el 1 de enero de 2013 el presidente del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos es Remigiusz Henczel, de Polonia.

(8) Une résolution de l’ONU pour enquêter sur les colonies israéliennes (Una resolución de la ONU para investigar las colonias israelíes)

(9) Resolución 19/17.

(10) Presentada por Pakistán en nombre de la OCI y adoptada por 36 votos, 1 en contra –Estados Unidos- y 10 abstenciones.

(11) Report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (Informe de la misión investigadora internacional independiente para investigar las implicaciones de los asentamientos israelíes en los derechos civiles, políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales del pueblo palestino en los Territorios Palestinos Ocupados incluida Jerusalén Oriental).

(12) P eriódicos israelíes

(13) Véase la masacre de Yenín en abril de 2002.

(14) PCHR

(15) Betslem, Adalah, ACRI

(16) Gaza, diciembre de 2008-enero de 2009.

(17) Israël a le droit de se défendre (Biden). (Según Biden, Israel tiene derecho a defenderse

(18) Washington “soutient le droit d’Israël à se défendre” (Washington «apoya el derecho de Israel a defenderse»).

(19) Hillary Clinton: Israël a le droit de se défendre (Hillary Clinton: Israel tiene derecho a defenderse)

(20) «Ninguna disposición de la presente Carta afectará al derecho natural de legítima defensa, individual o colectiva, en el caso de que un miembro de las Naciones Unidas sea objeto de una agresión armada, Artículo 51 de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas. Los terroristas de Hamás han matado a cientos de hombres, mujeres y niños en Israel y han lanzado 12.000 cohetes en 12 años desde Gaza. Tsahal tiene el deber de proteger a su población y combatir a los terroristas de Gaza» .

(21) Desde el 10 de mayo de 2010, el Estado Israelí es miembro observador de la OCDE http://www.oecd.org/fr/israel/israeletlocde.htm

(22) http://www.bdsfrance.org/index.php

(23) Ver la web de BDS-France, http://www.bdsfrance.org/

(24) Leer, entre otros, El tranvía de Jerusalén frente al Derecho Internacional, Mireille Fanon Mendes France.

(25) Opinión consultiva del 9 de julio de 2004 -101, http://www.icj-cij.org/ tras la Resolución A/RES/ES-10/14 de 8 de diciembre de 2003 introducida por la Asamblea General

(26) Se firmaron en 1951 pero no adoptaron el Protocolo Adicional de 1977.

(28) Dos miembros de la familia Ajouri, un hermano y su hermana.

(29) http://www.abidemiracles.com/555701.htm

(30) Anexados a la IV Convención de La Haya

(31) Carta de las Naciones Unidas, capítulo I, Objetivos y Principios, artículo I-1

(32) Preámbulo de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, 1º.

(33) Páginas 1329-1366, Jean-Pierre Cot, Alain Pellet, Mathias Forteau, éditions Economica

(34) No fue la primera, hubo otra en noviembre de 2007.

(35) 3 de octubre de 2012, ataque al pueblo turco fronterizo de Akçacale con resultado de cinco muertos civiles.

(36) www.france24.com/…/20121005-conseil-securite-onu-

(37) Chaumont, Ch., «Cours général de Droit international Public», RCADI, 1970, p. 345.

(38) Artículo 27-3.

(39) Mencionado también claramente en el párrafo 1 del Preámbulo y en los artículos 1.2 y 2.1, capítulo I de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas.

(40) Sortir le droit international du placard, Monique Weil y Roland Weil, CETIM, Ginebra, 2008.

(41) A continuación del examen, artículo 38, Resolución 5/1. Institution-Building of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

(42) Borrador de decision sometido al president de The Human Rights Council, The non-cooperation of a State under Review with the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism, A/HRC/OM/7/L.1; http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/a_hrc_om_7_l.1_decision_non-cooperation_upr.pdf

(43) Primer Preámbulo de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas.

(44) Véase nota 42

 

Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France es la presidenta de la Fundación Franz Fanon, pertenece a la Asociación internacional de Juristas Demócratas y es miembro del Grupo de Expertos sobre las Personas de Ascendencia Africana del Consejo de los Derechos Humanos de la ONU.

 

Rebelión ha publicado este artículo con el permiso de la autora mediante una licencia de Creative Commons , respetando su libertad para publicarlo en otras fuentes.


 

 

 

Guerra y oportunidades en Mali

February 18th, 2013 by Ramzy Baroud

Se prevé que la empresa británica de seguridad G4S obtenga unos generosos beneficios gracias a las crisis en Mali, Libia y Argelia. Reconocida como una de las mayores empresas de seguridad del mundo, la marca del grupo se desvalorizó durante las Olimpiadas de Londres del año pasado al no lograr satisfacer las condiciones del contrato del gobierno. Pero se espera que G4S se recupere rápidamente con la creciente inestabilidad en el norte y oeste de África.

La crisis de los rehenes del pasado 1 6 de enero en la planta de gas de Ain Amenas en Argelia, donde murieron 38 rehenes, es el inicio de la vuelta de al-Qaeda no como unos extremistas a la fuga sino como militantes bien preparados y capaces de atacar en lo más profundo de territorio enemigo y de causar graves daños. Para G4S y otras empresas de seguridad esto supone una demanda cada vez mayor. “El grupo británico […] está asistiendo a un aumento de su trabajo que va desde la vigilancia electrónica a la protección de viajeros”, declaró a Reuters el presidente regional de la compañía. “Por toda África la demanda ha sido muy fuerte”, afirmó Andy Baker. “La naturaleza de nuestro negocio hace que la necesidad de nuestros servicios aumente en entornos de alto riesgo”.

Si el mortífero encuentro con al-Qaeda de Argelia fue suficiente para que el país del norte de África apelara a las compañías de seguridad que emergen en el mercado africano, Libia debe de ser un paraíso de las empresas de seguridad privada. Después de que la OTAN derrocara al régimen del dirigente libio Muammar Gaddafi y de su brutal asesinato en Sirte el 20 de octubre de 2011, por toda Liba surgieron muchas milicias algunas de ellas armadas con armamento pesado, cortesía de los países occidentales. Al principio se restó importancia a estas perturbadoras escenas de milicias armadas que establecían checkpoints en cada esquina considerándolas una inevitable realidad porstrevolucionaria. Sin embargo, cuando los propios occidentales se convirtieron en su objetivo por fin se concedió a la “seguridad” en Libia un lugar relevante en la agenda.

En Libia ya operaban muchas empresas de seguridad privada y algunas incluso estaban presentes en el país antes de que fuera derrocado oficialmente el anterior gobierno libio. Varias eran prácticamente desconocidas antes de la guerra, incluyendo una pequeña empresa privada británica, Blue Mountain Group. Esta empresa era la responsable de cuidar la misión diplomática estadounidense en Bengasi, quemada el pasado 11 de septiembre. Posteriormente se supo que el ataque a la embajada había sido planificado con anterioridad y que estaba bien coordinado. A consecuencia del ataque murieron cuatro estadounidenses, incluido el embajador J. Christopher Stevens. Sigue sin estar claro por qué el Departamento de Estado había optado por contratar a Blue Mountain Group en vez de a una empresa más grande de seguridad, como suele ser el caso en otras embajadas y grandes compañías occidentales que ahora rivalizan por reconstruir el mismo país sobre el que sus países conspiraron para destruir.

El lucrativo negocio de destruir, reconstruir y proteger ya se ha visto en otras guerras y conflictos alentados por intervenciones occidentales. Las empresas privadas de seguridad son los intermediarios que impiden que los habitantes locales molestos se interpongan en el camino de la “diplomacia” y de los gigantes de los negocios de la postguerra.

Cuando un país acaba por desmoronarse bajo la presión de las bombas antibúnquer y otras armas avanzadas, las empresas de seguridad acuden ahí para garantizar la seguridad del lugar mientras los diplomáticos occidentales emp iezan a negociar el futuro de la riqueza del país con las elites locales emergentes. En Libia quienes más contribuyeron con armas son quienes recibieron los mejores contratos. Por supuesto, mientras se saquea el país destruido la población local es quien sufre las consecuencias de tener a unos bestias extranjeros armados vigilando sus barrios en nombre de la seguridad.

Hay que decir que el gobierno libio ha rechazado específicamente a los contratistas armados estilo Blackwater (aunque ya están sobre el terreno) por temor a provocaciones similares a las ocurridas en la Plaza Nisour de Bagdad y a asesinatos similares en todo Afganistán. En Libia el objetivo es permitir transacciones comerciales tranquilas sin protestas ocasionales provocadas por extranjeros que disparan a la menor provocación. Pero teniendo en cuenta la deteriorada seguridad en Libia que creada por la destrucción sistemática del gobierno central y de todo su aparato militar, la solución del problema de seguridad sigue siendo un tema fundamental de discusión.

Las empresas privadas de seguridad consisten esencialmente en mercenarios que ofrecen sus servicios para ahorrar a los gobiernos occidentales el coste político de tener demasiadas víctimas. Aunque sus sedes suelen estar en ciudades occidentales, muchos de sus empleados provienen de países del llamado tercer mundo. Para todos los que están implicados en el negocio resulta mucho más seguro proceder de esta manera ya que cuando el personal de seguridad asiático, africano o árabe resulta herido o muerto en servicio, como mucho se registra el hecho como mera noticia con pocas consecuencias políticas y sin audiencias en el Senado ni investigaciones gubernamentales.

Mali, un país del África Occidental que está padeciendo múltiples crisis (golpes militares, guerra civil, hambre y, por último, una guerra total dirigida por Francia) es probablemente la próxima víctima u oportunidad del trío mortífero: gobiernos occidentales, grandes corporaciones y, por supuesto, empresas de seguridad privadas.

E n efecto, Mali es el terreno perfecto para estos oportunistas, que no ahorrarán esfuerzos para explotar su enorme potencial económico y su ubicación estratégica. Este país del África Occidental ha caído bajo las influencias tanto política como militar occidentales. El año 2012 supuso un escenario modélico que en última instancia y de manera predecible llevó a la intervención occidental que finalmente tuvo lugar el 11 de enero, cuando Francia emprendió una operación militar supuestamente con el objetivo de derrotar a extremistas islamistas armados. Haciéndose eco de la misma lógica del gobierno Bush cuando declaró por primera vez “la guerra contra el terrorismo”, el presidente francés Francois Hollande declaró que la operación militar va a durar “lo que sea necesario” .

Pero por muy atractivo que parezca el escenario maliense, es tan complicado como impredecible. Posiblemente ninguna cronología lineal puede desentrañar en términos simples la crisis que se avecina. Con todo, todas las señales apuntan a enormes alijos de armas que fueron desde Libia a Mali siguiendo la guerra de la OTAN. Se produjo un nuevo equilibrio de poder al empoderar a los siempre oprimidos tuareg e invadir el país de militantes endurecidos por el desierto pertenecientes a diferentes grupos islámicos. Tanto en el norte como en el sur del país se desarrollaron al mismo tiempo dos líneas simétricas de agitación. Por una parte, el Movimiento Nacional Tuareg para la Liberación de Azawad (MNLA, por sus siglas en inglés, como las que se citan a continuación) declaró la independencia en el norte y rápidamente se le unieron Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda en el Magreb Islámico (AQIM) y el Movimiento para la Unidad y la Yihad en África Occidental (MOJWA). Por otra parte, en el sur del país Amadou Haya Sanogo, un capitán del ejército formado por Estados Unidos, derrocó en marzo al presidente del país Amadou Toumani Touré.

El guión maliense se desarrolló tan rápido que daba la impresión de que no había otra opción que la inmediata confrontación entre el norte y e l sur. Francia, el antiguo amo colonial de Mali, esgrimió rápidamente la carta militar y se esmeró para que los países de África Occidental se unieran a su campaña. El plan era que la intervención pareciera una campaña exclusivamente africana en la que sus benefactores occidentales se limitaran a aportar apoyo logístico y político. De hecho, el 21 de diciembre el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU aprobó enviar una fuerza dirigida por africanos (de 3.000 soldados) procedente de la Comunidad Económica de los Estados de África Occidental (ECOWAS) para perseguir a los militantes del norte por el vasto desierto de Mali.

Sin embargo, la guerra estaba programada para septiembre de 2013 para permitir a Francia formar un frente occidental unido y tratar de fragmentar l as fuerzas malienses. Pero parece ser que la toma por parte de los militantes de la ciudad de Konna, cerca de la capital, Bamako, forzó a Francia a intervenir y sin autorización de la ONU. La guerra que se emprendió en nombre de los derechos humanos y de la integridad territorial ya ha provocado las protestas de las principales organizaciones de derechos humanos por los crímenes cometidos por las fuerzas extranjeras y sus socios del ejército maliense. No obstante, lo que por ahora parece una fácil conquista francesa ha provocado que las demás potencias occidentales se relaman ante la posibilidad de tener acceso a Mali, donde es poco probable que en un futuro inmediato haya un gobierno central fuerte.

El 25 de enero la página de la Agencia de Prensa Africana (APA) estaba repleta de artículos acerca de la entusiasta implicación occidental en solidaridad con la iniciativa de guerra francesa. Los artículos iban desde “Italia va a enviar un avión para ayudar a transportar tropas a Mali” a “Alemania promete ayuda para la intervención en Mali”. Todo el mundo pareció hacer oídos sordos al llamamiento al diálogo político, tanto más cuanto que es probable que el conflicto étnico devaste el país en los próximos años. Mientras tanto, según la APA Reino Unido ofrece ayudar a Mali a encontrar una “hoja de ruta política” cuyo objetivo sea garantizar el “futuro político del país africano”.

Mientras Francia, Estados Unidos y los países de la Unión Europea determinan el futuro de Mali por medio de campañas militares y hojas de ruta, el propio país está tan debilitado y desfigurado políticamente que le resulta imposible hacer frente a los planes extranjeros. Para la empresa G4S y otras empresas de seguridad Mali encabeza actualmente la lista del emergente mercado de seguridad en África. Nigeria y Kenia le siguen de cerca y por todas partes surgen posibilidades.

Desde Libia a Mali se está teniendo lugar una historia típica en la que se unen contratos lucrativos y enormes posibilidades de todo tipo. Cuando las empresas de segurida d hablan de un mercado emergente en África, se puede tener la certeza de que el continente va a volver a caer presa de las cada vez mayores ambiciones militares y de prácticas comerciales injustas. Mientras que probablemente G4S va a sacar brillo a su empañada marca, cientos de miles de refugiados africanos (800.000 únicamente en Mali) seguirán sus viajes interminables por fronteras desconocidas y desiertos implacables. Su seguridad no le importa a nadie puesto que en las empresas privadas de seguridad no hay lugar para refugiados sin dinero.

 Ramzy Baroud

Texto original en inglés : http://palestinechronicle.com/no-security-firms-for-african-refugees-opportunities-and-war-in-mali/

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) es un columnista de medios internacionales y editor de PalestineChronicle.com. Su último libro es My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

La gira mundial de la opositora cubana Yoani Sánchez

February 18th, 2013 by Salim Lamrani

Tras cinco años de espera, Yoani Sánchez consiguió por fin el permiso para viajar al exterior. Después de la reforma migratoria vigente desde el 14 de enero de 2013, que permite a todos los cubanos abandonar el país sin otra formalidad que la obtención de un pasaporte y una visa, la más famosa opositora del gobierno de La Habana inicia en Brasil una gira mundial que la llevará a varios continentes. El cineasta Dado Galvao la recibirá en Recife y participará en la presentación del documental Conexión Cuba Honduras[1].

Su gira se parece a la de un jefe de Estado o una estrella de la música y los recursos dedicados a ella son impresionantes. En efecto, “un programa muy intenso” espera a la joven opositora de 37 años[2]. Tiene previstas conferencias en México donde será la invitada de honor de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP) que tendrá su reunión semestral en Puebla, en Estados Unidos, con encuentros en Nueva York, donde será recibida en las oficinas del New York Times, Washington y Miami, Argentina, Canadá, Perú, España, Italia, Polonia, Alemania, República Checa, Países Bajos y Suiza.[3]

Viajar siendo un derecho universal reconocido en la Declaración de Naciones Unidas de 1948, uno sólo puede alegrarse del hecho de que la principal figura de la oposición cubana pueda expresar sus convicciones a través del mundo. No obstante, resulta inevitable subrayar ciertos aspectos oscuros de la personalidad y la vida de Yoani Sánchez que son objeto de controversia y que esta monumental gira parece confirmar.

En efecto, Yoani Sánchez no es una opositora ordinaria. Tras vivir dos años en Suiza, decidió regresar a Cuba e integrar el universo de la disidencia. En 2007, creó el blog Generación Y –¡traducido al menos a 18 idiomas!– en el cual fustiga de modo virulento el sistema y el gobierno cubanos. Su nueva actividad ha sido coronada de éxito. En el espacio de unos años, Sánchez recibió múltiples distinciones, todas financieramente remuneradas. En total, la bloguera ha recibido una retribución total de 250.000 euros, es decir un importe equivalente a más de 20 años de salario mínimo en un país como Francia, quinta potencia mundial, y a 1.488 años de salario mínimo en Cuba.[4]

A ello se agrega el salario mensual de 6.000 dólares que le otorga la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, que agrupa los grandes conglomerados mediáticos privados del continente, y que decidió nombrarla vicepresidenta regional por Cuba de su Comisión de Libertad de Prensa e Información.[5] El diario español El País también decidió nombrarla corresponsal en La Habana y le paga un buen salario.[6]

El gobierno de Estados Unidos, cuyo objetivo abiertamente expresado es un cambio de régimen en Cuba mediante el financiamiento de una oposición interna, ha hecho de Yoani Sánchez su prioridad. Considera, en documentos confidenciales publicados por Wikileaks, que “Yoani Sánchez puede desempeñar un papel a largo plazo en una Cuba post-Castro”. [7] De hecho, la opositora cubana está en estrecha relación con la diplomacia estadounidense en Cuba, como señala un cable clasificado “secreto” por su contenido sensible. La administración Obama valora mucha a la bloguera cubana, como lo demuestra la reunión secreta que tuvo lugar en el apartamento de la opositora con la subsecretaria de Estado estadounidense Bisa Williams durante su visita a Cuba entre el 16 y el 22 de septiembre de 2010.[8]

Michael Parmly, antiguo jefe de la diplomacia estadounidense en La Habana, que se reunía regularmente con Yoani Sánchez en su residencia personal como lo indican los documentos confidenciales de la SINA, hizo partícipe de su preocupación respecto a la publicación de los cables diplomáticos estadunidenses por Wikileaks: “Me molestaría mucho que las numerosas conversaciones que tuve con Yoani Sánchez se publicaran. Ella podría pagar las consecuencias toda la vida”. [9] La pregunta que viene inmediatamente a la mente es la siguiente: ¿cuáles son las razones por las que Yoani Sánchez estaría en peligro si su actuación, como ella afirma, respeta el marco de la legalidad?

Desde luego, Yoani Sánchez no es una simple disidente. Sería interesante que la principal figura de la oposición cubana aprovechara su gira mundial para esclarecer algunas zonas oscuras de su trayectoria personal y revelara cuáles son los poderosos intereses que se esconden detrás de su persona.

Salim Lamrani

Texto original :

http://operamundi.uol.com.br/conteudo/opiniao/27232/a+turne+mundial+de+yoani+sanchez.shtml

 

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de la Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula The Economic War Against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade.

Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected]

Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel



[1] Voz de América, «Yoani Sánchez viaja a Brasil el 17 de febrero», 6 de febrero de 2013.

[2] Yoani Sánchez, 17 de febrero, https://twitter.com/yoanisanchez

[3] EFE, «La bloguera cubana hablará en Brasil sobre libertad y derechos», 17 de febrero de 2013.

[4] Yoani Sánchez, «Premios», Generación Y.

[5] El Nuevo Herald, «Nombran a Yoani en Comisión de la SIP», 9 de noviembre de 2012.

[6] El País, «Artículos escritos por Yoani Sánchez», http://elpais.com/autor/yoani_sanchez/a/ (sitio consultado el 17 de febrero de 2013).

[7] Jonathan D. Farrar, «The U.S. and the Role of the Opposition in Cuba», United States Interests Section, 9 de abril de 2009, cable 09HAVANA221. http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/04/09HAVANA221.html (sitio consultado el 18 de diciembre de 2010).

[8] Joaquin F. Monserrate, «GOC Signals ‘Readiness to Move Forward’», United States Interests Section, 25 septembre 2009, cable 09HAVANA592, http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/09/09HAVANA592.html (sitio consultado el 18 de diciembre de 2010)

[9] Michael Parmly, «Consenso On Line : An Impartial Forum In Cuba», United States Interests Section, 28 juin 2007, cable 07HAVANA622, http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07HAVANA622.html (sitio consultado el 15 de septiembre de 2011) ; Stéphane Bussard, «Ma rencontre avec l’auteur des câbles sur Cuba», Le Temps, 30 de diciembre de 2010.

A turnê mundial da opositora cubana Yoani Sánchez

February 18th, 2013 by Salim Lamrani

Depois de cinco anos de espera, Yoani Sánchez conseguiu, por fim, a autorização para viajar ao exterior. Depois da reforma migratória vigente desde 14 de janeiro de 2013, que permite a todos os cubanos deixar o país sem outra formalidade além da obtenção de um passaporte e um visto, a mais famosa opositora do governo de Havana inicia no Brasil uma turnê mundial que a levará a vários continentes. O cineasta Dado Galvão a receberá em Recife, onde participará da apresentação do documentário Conexão Cuba Honduras 1.

Yoani Sánchez faz check-in em balcão de companhia aérea no aeroporto internacional de Havana antes de embarcar para o Brasil

Sua turnê se parece com a de um chefe de Estado ou a de uma estrela da música, e os recursos dedicados a ela são impressionantes. De fato, “uma programação muito intensa” espera a jovem opositora de 37 anos 2. Tem conferências previstas no México, onde será a convidada de honra da SIP (Sociedade Interamericana de Imprensa), que terá sua reunião semestral em Puebla; nos Estados Unidos, com encontros em Nova York, onde será recebida na redação do New York Times; Washington e Miami, Argentina, Canadá, Peru, Espanha, Itália, Alemanha, República Checa, Países Baixos e Suíça 3.

Como viajar é um direito universal reconhecido pela Declaração das Nações Unidas de 1948, só podemos nos alegrar pelo fato de a principal figura da oposição cubana poder expressar suas convicções pelo mundo. No entanto, é inevitável destacar certos aspectos obscuros da personalidade e da vida de Yoani Sánchez, que são objeto de controvérsia e que esta monumental turnê parece confirmar.

Yoani Sánchez não é uma opositora comum. Após viver dois anos na Suíça, decidiu voltar a Cuba e integrar o universo da dissidência. Em 1997, criou o blog Generación Y – traduzido para, pelo menos, 18 idiomas! –, no qual fustiga de modo virulento o sistema e o governo cubanos. Sua nova atividade tem sido coroada com êxito. No período de alguns anos, Sánchez recebeu diversas distinções, todas financeiramente remuneradas. No total, a blogueira recebeu uma remuneração de 250 mil euros, isto é, um montante equivalente a mais de 20 anos de salário mínimo em um país como a França, quinta potência mundial, e a 1.488 anos de salário mínimo em Cuba 4.

A isso se soma o salário mensal de seis mil dólares concedido pela Sociedade Interamericana de Imprensa, que agrupa os grandes conglomerados midiáticos privados do continente, e que decidiu nomeá-la vice-presidente regional por Cuba de sua Comissão de Liberdade de Imprensa e Informação 5. O jornal espanhol El País também decidiu nomeá-la correspondente em Havana, e lhe paga um bom salário 6.

O governo dos EUA, cujo objetivo abertamente expresso é uma mudança do regime em Cuba por meio do financiamento de uma oposição interna, fez de Yoani Sánchez sua prioridade. Considera, em documentos confidenciais publicados pelo Wikileaks, que “Yoani Sánchez pode desempenhar um papel a longo prazo em uma Cuba pós-Castro” 7. De fato, a opositora cubana está em estreita relação com a diplomacia norte-americana em Cuba, como é assinalado em um telegrama classificado como “secreto” por seu conteúdo sensível. A administração Obama valoriza muito a blogueira cubana, como demonstra a reunião secreta ocorrida no apartamento da opositora com a subsecretária de Estado norte-americana Bisa Williams durante sua visita a Cuba, entre 16 e 22 de setembro de 2010 8.

Michael Parmly, antigo chefe da diplomacia norte-americana em Havana, que se reunia regularmente com Yoani Sánchez em sua residência pessoal, como indicam documentos confidenciais da SINA, manifestou sua preocupação a respeito da publicação dos telegramas diplomáticos dos EUA pelo Wikileaks: “Me incomodaria muito se as inúmeras conversas que tive com Yoani Sánchez fossem publicadas. Ela poderia pagar pelas consequências por toda a vida” 9. A pergunta que imediatamente vem à mente é a seguinte: “Quais são as razões pelas quais Yoani Sánchez estaria em perigo se sua atuação, como ela afirma, respeita o marco da legalidade?”

Desde então, Yoani Sánchez não é uma simples dissidente. Seria interessante que a principal figura da oposição cubana aproveitasse sua turnê mundial para esclarecer algumas zonas obscuras de sua trajetória pessoal e revelasse quais são os poderosos interesses que se escondem por trás de sua pessoa.

Salim Lamrani

1. Voz de América, “Yoani Sánchez viaja ao Brasil em 17 de fevereiro”, 6 de fevereiro de 2013.
2. Yoani Sánchez, 17 de fevereiro, https://twitter.com/yoanisanchez
3. EFE, “A blogueira cubana falará no Brasil sobre liberdade e direitos”, 17 de febrero de 2013.
4. Yoani Sánchez, “Prêmios”, Generación Y.
5. El Nuevo Herald, “Yoani é nomeada para comissão da SIP”, 9 de novembro de 2012.
6. El País, “Artigos escritos por Yoani Sánchez”, http://elpais.com/autor/yoani_sanchez/a/ (site acessado em 17 de fevereiro de 2013).
7. Jonathan D. Farrar, “Os Estados Unidos e o papel da oposição em Cuba”, United States Interests Section, 9 de abril de 2009, telegrama 09HAVANA221. http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/04/09HAVANA221.html (site acessado em 18 de dezembro de 2010).
8. Joaquin F. Monserrate, “GOC sinaliza ‘prontidão para ir em frente”, United States Interests Section, 25 de setembro de 2009, telegrama 09HAVANA592, http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/09/09HAVANA592.html (site acessado em 18 de dezembro de 2010)
9. Michael Parmly, “Consenso On Line : Um fórum imparcial em Cuba”, United States Interests Section, 28 de junho de 2007, telegrama 07HAVANA622, http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07HAVANA622.html (site acessado em 15 de setembro de 2011); Stéphane Bussard, “Meu reencontro com o autor dos telegramas sobre Cuba”, Le Temps, 30 de dezembro de 2010.

Libya: The Second Anniversary of a Bloody Coup

February 18th, 2013 by Maximilian Forte

This weekend, marking the second anniversary of the start of protests that would usher in a bloody and prolonged NATO-led coup to overthrow the Libyan Jamahiriya and Muammar Gaddafi, offers many reasons to celebrate for those whose intention was the demolition of Libyan self-determination, African integration, and a domestic system of extensive social welfare and stability. In return, Libyans have won the right to live in fear, as they have won the freedom to be ruled by countless armed despots each engaged in torture, abductions, and persecution of minorities.

In spite of what seems like an unstoppable momentum towards greater strife and social disintegration, romantic imperialists in the West still insist on speaking in the most unwarranted terms of the “street revolution,” that has “brought freedom and hope to millions of people here” (Globe and Mail, 15/2/2013). In the warm glow of fires that consume others, some among us find reason for a warming self-congratulation. Symbolic of the depth of Western respect for Libya’s “new freedom” is this very statement, from the government of Canada itself, warning Canadian travelers: “Do not criticize the country, its leadership or religion. Harsh penalties may be imposed.”

The few remaining pro-”revolution” propagandists in the West are not only unwilling to simply state that what they support is globalized regime change and a new colonizing wave that would make non-Western self-determination and sovereignty principles something to be wrecked and thrown aside, they are equally immune to irony. After all, blessed Benghazi, which was to be “saved” at all costs, saved against all else, by Western military intervention is now the same city from which Western interests flee in order to save themselves (Reuters, 24/1/2013, 31/1/2013, 5/2/2013; The Star, 24/1/2013):

WESTERNERS SHUN BENGHAZI
Few Westerners live in Benghazi, which has borne the brunt of a wave of violence against diplomats and international bodies, including the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and a gun attack on the Italian consul’s car this month.
Britain’s recent call to its nationals to leave immediately due to a “specific and imminent” threat to Westerners highlights the insecurity plaguing Benghazi.
The assault on the U.S. mission, for which no arrests were made, grabbed world attention. But there had already been attacks on British, Red Cross and U.N. properties here….
Randy Robinson, principal of British School Benghazi, said: “One of our staff was carjacked. Our residence last spring was robbed with teachers in a room held at gunpoint as thieves cleaned out the apartments. We have to take care.”
Two years ago the anti-Gaddafi uprising had the strongest support in Benghazi but today a very different mood has emerged.
“Most people here would say they are very unhappy,” a local oil worker said. “Some say they are worse off than before.”

So let’s celebrate the “new Libya,” this “revolution for freedom,” in all of its glory. Let it be an example to others.

Now there is a call from Western media and the usual RAND voices urging NATO to establish a “mission” in Libya (CSM, 15/2/2013). And if foreign occupation, or foreign boots on the ground were allegedly anathema to the Libyan “revolutionaries,” that too changed well before Gaddafi was overthrown, and is being revived at present: military forces from Italy, and once again from Qatar, have landed in Libya, to help it celebrate its “revolution” (RT, 13/2/2013).

The thing about authentic, legitimate revolutions these days is that all of their legitimacy comes from external sources and is dropped from the air in explosive 2,000 pound bursts of authenticity. Real revolutions, it would seem, require foreign guardians and can only survive under the tutelage of colonial powers (Washington Times, 5/2/2013). Beautiful thing then, these revolutions. Sirte, in particular, was rapidly beautified as a result of this revolution:

Once independent, wealthy, and powerfully defiant, today Libyan resources are almost being given away to foreign powers that “mentored” Libya’s revolution. Foreign investors in Libya’s oil sector are being given years of tax exemption, as if they need it; specifically aimed at encouraging Gulf state investors, Libya grants the investor 65% from a project’s value;

“various large scale projects will be given Saudi companies in order to strengthen brotherly ties, remove previous disputes between the two countries, establish a new strategic partnership and benefit from the expertise of Saudi companies. Aarusi also said that all obstacles facing Gulf investors will be overcome…”

and, “last but not least Aarusi said he expected this Saudi company [whose name he refuses to reveal] to be totally in charge of starting up the sugar and cement factories in mid-2013,” whose aim is to export to Europe and Gulf states (Al Arabiya, 4/2/2013). Along with Gaddafi himself, what the “new Libya” buried in that unmarked grave was resource nationalism and a sense of integrity and dignity in the face of foreign vulture capitalists.

Then there is the IMF, in its newly acquired role of dictating to Libya, another reality permitted by the “street revolution” (Arabian Business, 6/2/2013). After all, as the IMF’s Christine Lagarde herself has recently said, the “Arab Spring” must be followed by a “Private Sector Spring” (IMF, 9/1/2013). Libya, formerly a significant actor in international investment, buying up properties and shares of lucrative enterprises across Europe, is now the target of investors (IMF, 9/1/2013).

The IMF knows when it can take advantage of a situation smelling of ripe disaster: “The budget deficit was 27.0 percent of GDP in 2011, compared to a budget surplus of 16.2 percent in 2010. Similarly, the current account surplus narrowed from 19.8 percent of GDP in 2010 to 1.3 percent in 2011″ (IMF, 4/5/2012). Thus the IMF can now instruct Libya to eliminate universal price subsidies, to reduce public sector wages, and to eliminate incentives for individuals to seek employment in the public sector: “the recent surge in the public sector payroll to 1.5 million (80 percent of the labor force) will need to be unwound” (IMF, 4/5/2012).

The IMF has had its sights on Libya from before Gaddafi was overthrown by NATO and NATO’s local neocolonial dependents: days before Gaddafi was murdered, the IMF had a mission on the ground in Libya (IMF, 20/10/2011) and had previously decreed its recognition of the rebel National Transitional Council as the government of Libya, thrashing international law as the Libyan government under Gaddafi still existed (IMF, 10/9/2011). But you won’t find Naomi Klein writing the Libyan chapter of the “shock doctrine” (Gulf News, 26/10/2011)–Naomi Klein was too busy throwing her support behind a Canadian politician, Nathan Cullen, who voted in support of NATO’s intervention in Libya, with little regret. The protection of civilians was paramount, of course, and here is another view of what that protection looked like:

Maximilian C. Forte is a professor of anthropology in Montreal, Canada. He teaches courses in the field of political anthropology dealing with “the new imperialism,” Indigenous resistance movements and philosophies, theories and histories of colonialism, and critiques of the mass media. Max is a founding member of Anthropologists for Justice and Peace. He is the author of “Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa” (Baraka Books, 2012).

SLOUCHING TOWARDS SIRTE:
NATO’S WAR ON LIBYA AND AFRICA

by Maximilian Forte

AVAILABLE TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

NATO’s war in Libya was proclaimed as a humanitarian intervention—bombing in the name of “saving lives.” Attempts at diplomacy were stifled. Peace talks were subverted. Libya was barred from representing itself at the UN, where shadowy NGOs and “human rights” groups held full sway in propagating exaggerations, outright falsehoods, and racial fear mongering that served to sanction atrocities and ethnic cleansing in the name of democracy. The rush to war was far speedier than Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Max Forte has scrutinized the documentary history from before, during, and after the war. He argues that the war on Libya was not about human rights, nor entirely about oil, but about a larger process of militarizing U.S. relations with Africa. The development of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, or AFRICOM, was in fierce competition with Pan-Africanist initiatives such as those spearheaded by Muammar Gaddafi.

Far from the success NATO boasts about or the “high watermark” proclaimed by proponents of the “Responsibility to Protect,” this war has left the once prosperous, independent and defiant Libya in ruin, dependency and prolonged civil strife.

Tradepaper | 352 pp | 27 BW photos, 3 maps | ISBN 978-1-926824-52-9 | Baraka Books (2012)

NOW AVAILABLE TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

$24.95 (+ S&H)

Upcoming Iranian Nuclear Talks

February 18th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Multiple previous P5+1 talks were held. America manipulated them to fail. So did Israel covertly. Western nations were pressured to go along.

On February 26, new talks will be held in Almaty, Kazahhstan. Expect no more this time than earlier.

It bears repeating. Tehran’s nuclear program isn’t at issue. It’s red herring cover for imperial aims. It’s the oil, stupid, and regional dominance.

Iran’s sovereignty stands in the way. Its program is peaceful. It complies with NPT provisions. World leaders know it. So do IAEA inspectors.

Washington targets all independent governments. It wants pro-Western puppet ones replacing them. It invents reasons to do so. It operates extrajudicially in defiance of rule of law principles.

It gets UN Secretary-Generals to go along. Ban Ki-moon’s one of the worst. He shames the office he holds. He spurns UN Charter principles. He’s complicit in war crimes.

He’s well rewarded for doing so. He lies for Washington. He’s a longstanding imperial tool.

On February 14, the Washington Post headlined “Iran could use UN talks as cover to build bomb, Ban K-moon says.”

He knows Iran has no such intention. He lies and claims otherwise. Decisive swift action should prevent what doesn’t exist, he urges.

Accelerated action should be prioritized. “We should not give much more time to the Iranians, and we should not waste time,” he says. “We have seen what happened with the DPRK.”

“It ended up that they (were) secretly, quietly, without any obligations, without any pressure, making progress.”

The Security Council must “show a firm, decisive and effective, quick response.”

Like America and Israel, he wants Iran to prove a negative. He told Imam Khamenei he’s not satisfied with peaceful reassurances. He did so on orders from Washington.

He’s “frustrated” about failed international talks. He points fingers the wrong way. He blames Iran for Western intransigency.

He speaks with forked tongue. He mimics John Kerry. America’s new Secretary of State said progress depends on if Iran’s ready to “make and discuss real offers and engage in a real dialogue.”

Doing so is impossible without legitimate negotiating partners. Iran hasn’t had them in decades. It doesn’t now.

On February 16, Press TV headlined “Iran censures Ban Ki-moon for remarks on nuclear energy program.”

Iranian UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaei called what he said “unfortunate.” He acted “in contradiction to his duties and against international principles.”

He called on Ban to observe justice and confidence-building measures. He urged him to use his position responsibly. It’s his job to do so. He never once tried. He’s complicit in imperial crimes.

He makes unjust accusations. Iran has every right to object. It’s entitled to use nuclear power peacefully. Ban knows but won’t say. He regurgitates what Washington tells him to say.

America and Israel claim Tehran is months away from producing a bomb. No evidence whatever suggests it. Saying so is malicious propaganda.

Kerry picked up where Hillary Clinton left off. He represents imperial lawlessness. He’s Israel’s man at State.

He said “(w)e are not going to get trapped into a delay-after-delay process here.”

“It is incumbent on the Iranians to prove that they are prepared to meet our willingness, President Obama’s willingness, again and again stated by the president, to be open to a diplomatic resolution here.”

Washington doesn’t negotiate. It demands. Other countries are pressured to comply. Multiple threats follow otherwise. Iran’s familiar with American double-dealing.

It’s hard imagining why they put up with it so long. Job’s patience would be taxed. Tehran prioritizes peace and good relations. It won’t stop trying to achieve them. Washington and Israel obstruct them. Rogue states operate that way.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran’s willing to negotiate directly with Washington. At issue only is “the other side (coming) with authentic intentions.”

It hasn’t happened in decades and won’t now. Salehi knows it. So do other Iranian leaders. On February 16, Fars News Agency headlined “Leader Blasts American Officials’ Paradoxical Policies.” He referred to their “spirit of bullying.”

“Americans expect others to give in to their illogical words and bullying as some have done, but the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic does not surrender because it has logic, ability and power,” Imam Khamenei said.

He stressed key points. They include illogical and contradictory US remarks, using nuclear negotiations to demand Iran surrender its legitimate rights, and lying about removing sanctions through talks.

He called America’s offer of direct talks disingenuous. It’s cover to bully Iran to surrender.

It’s because “they want to show to the revolting Muslim nations of the region that the Islamic Republic of Iran was eventually made to sit to the negotiating table despite all its resistance and toughness, and that they, thus, have no other option but to give up and surrender.”

Tehran keeps “its eyes wide open.” It understands Washington’s duplicity. It responds accordingly.

America previously offered direct talks. Iran’s “logical words” were spurned. It was blamed for doing so. Expect nothing different now.

At the same time, he said:

“If Americans show both in their words and actions that they are not illogical, then they would see that the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation are benevolent and favor interaction and logic.”

“This is the only way to interact with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in that case the US administration would receive a proper response.”

On February 16, Reuters headlined “Exclusive: Big powers to offer easing gold sanctions at Iran nuclear talks.”

“Big powers,” of course, means Washington. Its offer was duplicitous. It was made to be refused. It demands Iran shut down its newly expanded Fordow enrichment plant.

It operates legitimately. Tehran categorically refuses. Washington’s latest offer is contemptuous. It assures upcoming Almaty failure.

Reuters cited unnamed Western officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity. They’re embarrassed to attach their names to surrender demands. They should have kept silent and said nothing.

They said the new proposal largely replicates earlier ones. “We don’t think the Iranians (deserve) much more,” they added.

They claim Iran isn’t ready to deal ahead of its June 14 presidential elections.

Tehran’s ready for legitimate talks anytime. It needs legitimate partners to do so. Washington obstructionism prevents it. It’s no different now than earlier.

Pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment proves it. Claiming it’s for bomb development is false on its face. Knowing it’s true but saying otherwise shows what Iran is up against.

Saber rattling makes things worse. It repeats ad nauseam. It’s done so belligerently. False charges follow earlier ones.

Sanctions violate international law. They’re imposed to harm Iran’s economy, isolate it politically, and cause ordinary Iranians pain and suffering.

It’s done to turn them against their government. It’s been tried many times before. Every time it fails. Ordinary people blame responsible parties. Their governments are their last line of defense.

Iranians aren’t fools. They know Washington and Israel are Tehran’s main enemies. They’re enemies of peace, equity and justice.

They’re hegomonic partners. They violate international law. They spurn it with impunity. They commit crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide. So do complicit NATO partners and rogue regional allies.

At issue is advancing Washington’s imperium. It’s about regional dominance. It’s about controlling world energy supplies. It’s about turning Iran into a vassal state.

In 1979, Iran ended 2,500 years of monarchal rule. A generation of Pahlavi repression ended. It’s not about to roll over for Washington and return it.

Its sovereignty matters too much. It’ll do what’s necessary to protect it. Its leaders are responsible for doing it. They’ve done so for 34 years.

Castro’s Cuba alone remained independent longer. Both nations abhor imperial Washington’s aims. They do so for good reason. They prioritize peace and good relations, not conflicts and global dominance.

They’re targeted for doing the right things. Expect nothing ahead to get easier. Washington has longstanding war plans. It’s waging multiple ones already. It has others in mind.

They’ll be launched in the fullness of time. Today is the most perilous time in world history. Humanity may not survive America’s onslaught.

It’s shocking to imagine it’s come this far and perhaps no further. If it perishes, it’ll be the only species ever to do so.

It’ll prove higher intelligence was more liability than asset. Given Washington’s rage for dominance, things may turn out that way.

A Final Comment

In mid-February, FAIR’s (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) Peter Hart asked if Iranian magnets are the new aluminum tubes.

In months preceding the 2003 Iraq war, the mainstream media, TV talking heads, and Bush administration officials lied. They said Saddam Hussein attempted to buy “thousands of specially designed tubes” to advance his nuclear weapons program.

Their “diameter, thickness and other technical specifications (had) persuaded American intelligence experts that they were meant for Iraq’s nuclear program.”

None existed. Most people didn’t now. This and other false accusations became pretexts for war. Destroying the cradle of civilization followed.

Pre-2003 Iraq no longer exists. Millions died. Conflict continues. More die daily. Human misery is incalculable. No end in sight looks near.

Washington perhaps destroying Iran the same way. Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Tehran faces numerous false charges. New accusations follow earlier ones.

The mainstream media march in lock step with imperial plans. Sources relied on are serial liars.

Henry Kissinger may or may not have said “If you can’t hear the drums of war you must be deaf.” It’s true either way. Permanent war is official US policy.

Current ones rage. More are planned. One country after another is ravaged. It bears repeating. Humanity may not survive Obama’s second term. Rogue administration policies make it appear less likely.

 
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
 
 
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.
 
 

Inequality and American Democracy

February 18th, 2013 by Joseph Kishore

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama began by declaring that economic recovery was well underway. “Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis,” he said, “and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong.”

The latest data on social inequality in the United States, released late last month, provide greater clarity as to what precisely this statement signifies. For Obama and the political establishment as a whole, the main indices of “crisis” are the stock markets, and with them the wealth of the corporate and financial elite.

According to data brought together by University of California’s Emmanuel Saez, between 2009 and 2011—the first two years of the “recovery”—average real income per family grew by 1.7 percent. However, Saez notes, “Top 1 percent incomes grew by 11.2 percent while bottom 99 percent incomes shrunk by 0.4 percent. Hence, the top 1 percent captured 121 percent of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery.”

That is to say, the top one percent actually swallowed all of the total income growth during these two years, plus an additional 20 percent. What these figures demonstrate is a massive transfer of wealth, an infusion of funds into the financial markets at the expense of the majority of the population, the working class.

Saez adds, “In 2012, top 1 percent income will likely surge, due to booming stock-prices, as well as re-timing of income to avoid the higher 2013 top tax rates. Bottom 99 percent will likely grow much more modestly than top 1 percent incomes from 2011 to 2012. This suggests that the Great Recession has only depressed top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s.”

These trends in income share are not merely the product of abstract economic forces. They result from a definite and ruthless class policy pursued first by Bush and escalated under Obama. In response to the collapse of 2008, which was the outcome of financial speculation on an historically unprecedented scale, unlimited funds were made available to the banks by the government and Federal Reserve.

To finance the stock market boom, the Fed has purchased some $2 trillion worth of assets since 2008, essentially printing an equal amount of money to transfer into the financial system. Governments internationally have pursued a parallel policy. The results have been predictable: asset bubbles have been reflated, while the bad debts of the financial aristocracy have been transferred to central banks and government budgets.

The corollary to these measures has been a systematic and ongoing attack on the living standards of the vast majority of the population. In his State of the Union address, Obama trumpeted the supposed resurgence of manufacturing jobs—in fact, a tiny minority of those wiped out have been restored. He did not mention that whatever jobs have been created are on the basis of poverty level wages, spearheaded by the administration’s 2009 restructuring of the auto industry.

As a consequence, the number of “working poor” in the United States—those living in near poverty despite being employed—has increased sharply. In 2011, 47.5 million people lived in families earning less than 200 percent of the official poverty rate. This is nearly one third (33 percent) of all working families, up from 31 percent in 2010 and 28 percent in 2007.

These figures do not include the unemployed. Despite the official decline in the unemployment rate, due largely to millions of people leaving the labor force, the overall employment-population ratio remains near its post-crisis low.

Behind the thin rhetoric about reigniting a “thriving middle class,” Obama made clear that the administration’s policies in its second term will be subordinated entirely to the interests of big business, beginning with plans to slash hundreds of billions more from health care programs.

The inequality figures say much about the character of American society—a society dominated by a tiny aristocracy. The program of the political establishment as a whole is above all dedicated to ensuring the wealth of this social layer. It is the conflict between this aristocracy and the working class that forms the fundamental social division, not the various forms of identity politics that have become integral components of state ideology.

These social relations are central to understanding the crisis of American democracy. Without any significant opposition from the media or within the political establishment, the Obama administration has asserted the right to assassinate US citizens without any judicial review or due process.

Core democratic principles going back centuries are simply discarded. After initial media coverage of the administration white paper on the extra-judicial killing of US citizens, the issue has largely been dropped. Obama’s pick to head the CIA, John Brennan, the architect of the “kill lists,” is expected to be confirmed by the Senate later this month.

Under the banner of the “war on terror,” the past decade has seen a relentless expansion of executive power, from indefinite detention and military commissions, to domestic spying and the development of vast databases of communications.

Democratic forms of rule are not compatible with the enormous levels of inequality that pervade American society.

The defense of democracy and opposition to inequality are inextricably connected, and both depend on the development of an independent political movement of the working class in opposition to capitalism, the economic foundation upon which the modern aristocracy rests.

There have been secret talked to import natural gas from Israel’s Tamar field to Jordan according to recent reports.

The gas would be delivered through the Israeli gas pipeline that serves Israel Chemicals’ Dead Sea Works plant in Sodom. Extending the pipeline to reach Jordan would not require a large investment, Haaretz reported.

The negotiations are a sign of how desperate the kingdom is; it is considering a move as politically sensitive as sourcing gas from Israel.

An Israeli gas contract with Jordan would strengthen bilateral ties and help Jordan’s beleaguered King Abdullah, who has seen his support fall amid rising energy prices and other woes.

Jordan imports 97% of its fuel needs at a cost of nearly a quarter of its gross domestic product, and 88% of the energy it consumes comes in the form of natural gas.

Until the revolution in Egypt that brought down President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, Jordan received its natural gas from Egypt via a pipeline through Sinai under a contract for annual imports of about 3 billion cubic meters.

Like Israel, however, Jordan saw its gas supply cut off by sabotage starting in February 2011, which created long disruptions.

As a result, Jordan, like Israel, was forced to burn more expensive fuels at its power stations. The country was saddled with extra costs amounting to $5.6 bln for electricity production, forcing the government to increase subsidies by $1.6 bln to avoid doubling the price of electricity.

Unlike the contract with Israel, which was unilaterally canceled by the Egyptians last April, the supply to Jordan was recently renewed.

Jordan is also examining additional sources of natural gas, including from Qatar and Iraq, as well as the importing of liquefied natural gas by ship. Jordanian government sources recently said a restoration of Egyptian gas alone would not solve the kingdom’s energy crisis if it continues to depend on imported fuel for half its electricity production.

Jordan’s Arab Potash Company produces potash, fertilizer and other products from the raw material produced at the Dead Sea. The company is 32%-owned by the Jordanian government and 28%-owned by the Canadian giant Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. Other shareholders include the Arab Mining Company 20% and the Islamic Development Bank.

In addition to the political problems an Israeli gas deal would entail for Jordan, Tamar has limited capacity for delivering gas because it has a single pipeline running from the offshore field to the Israeli coast.

But by 2015 Tamar is expected to have installed additional compressors, which would increase the pipeline’s capacity by 25 and enable it to serve more customers.

Racism Embedded in Israeli School Textbooks

February 18th, 2013 by Nurit Peled-Elhanan

A new report on Palestinian and Israeli school books has elicited much debate (“Israel shoots back: ‘Look beyond the textbooks,’” The Times of Israel, 6 February).

The report — by academics in Tel AvivBethlehem and the American university Yale — is short. Yet it raises some poignant questions (“Victims of our own narratives? Portrayal of the other in Israeli and Palestinian school books,” Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, 4 February [PDF]).

Israeli educators who hastened to pronounce it biased were quite right. Such a study cannot be symmetrical, for it examines two education systems, one of which is entirely subjugated to the other. A reminder of this situation is found in the introduction of the report. It notes that the Wye River Memorandum — signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1998 — included an “explicit statement about incitement.”

The agreement states that “the Palestinian side would issue a decree prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence or terror, and establishing mechanisms for acting systematically against all expressions or threats of violence or terror. This decree would be comparable to the existing Israeli legislation which deals with the same subject.”

No such caution is mentioned with regard to the Israeli regime of occupation, even though Israel is regularly taken to task by the United Nations for its aggressive behavior.

As textbook researcher Samira Alayan from the Georg Eckert Institute for the Study of Textbooks has shown, Palestinian textbooks are severely controlled and censored not only by Israel but also by European and American bodies that finance their production (see an abstract of the book: “Images of identity: Self and other in school text books of the Palestinian Authority,” June 2011 [PDF]).

Objective?

Nevertheless, the new report prides itself for having engaged “objective” evaluators who come from the US and Europe, although the US denies tourist visas to most Palestinians — including the ambassador of the PA to the European UnionLeila Shahid, who was not allowed to attend the New York session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in October last year — and many European states and companies profit from the occupation of Palestine. Why not recruit evaluators from Pakistan or South Africa?

The report relies on content analysis but neglects the ways in which the content — both visual and written — is used to persuade readers of its ideological message. For instance, it praises Israeli textbooks for relating the details of massacres but does not discuss how these books try to legitimize the massacres as part of the “big picture” — to Israel’s benefit.

One Israeli textbook, we are told, acknowledges that most of the Palestinians killed by Zionist forces in the village of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem, in 1948 were women, children or elderly. Yet the book cites claims that the victims died because they refused to leave their homes and that the massacre “still serves as an excuse for Arab propaganda against Israel.”

This excuse bears a chilling similarity to the one used by Israel when it subjected Gaza to a three-week bombing campaign in late 2008 and early 2009. And this excuse is not confined to one work. The 2009 book Israeli Nationalism and Nation: Building a State in the Middle East — by Eyal Naveh, Naomi Vered and David Shahar — stated that the residents of Deir Yassin failed to evacuate their village because the loud-speaker from which they were supposed to receive a warning was not functioning properly.

Taboo of occupation

Two main categories are missing from the analysis: occupation and racist discourse. Perhaps that is why describing the dire facts of the occupation seemed to involve “negative characterization of Israelis” to the researchers.

Israeli school books do not address the occupation because their message is that there is no occupation. They inculcate what sociologist Stanley Cohen — in his 2002 book States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering — termed the “Zionist kitsch” about the eternal historical rights of the Jews on the whole land of Israel and Palestine. This explains why the researchers behind this study were offended by how Palestinians use the term “colonialism” to describe Zionist settlement on their land. In Israeli mainstream books,illegal settlements like Ariel or Alon Shvut are presented as no different to Tel Aviv.

The green line — the 1949 armistice line separating Israel from the territories captured in 1967 — is never shown or discussed. The only Israeli geography book I found that discusses the issue of the green line is Sfat Hamapa (The language of maps) by P. Dina (published in 1996).

In Israeli textbooks, the cruel practices of occupation such as administrative detention,military checkpoints and house demolitions are presented as necessities in our “defensive democracy.”

Since racist “teaching tools” of a visual or verbal nature are not part of the analysis presented in this study, racist Israeli representations of Palestinians are reported to be “neutral.” Since Palestinians are never presented in Israeli textbooks as persons like us — modern professionals — only as negative stereotypes of terrorists, nomads and primitive farmers, one must conclude that these racist representations seemed “neutral” to the researchers and to the “objective” western evaluators.

Better times?

The report concludes that the books on both sides fail to relate the “better times” when there were good relationships between Arabs and Israelis. This must refer either to the good relationships between Jews and Muslims in MoroccoTunisia and Iraq, prior to the “redemption” of Zionism — a reality Zionist education in Israel has always done its utmost to conceal — or to the years between 1967 and 1987 when oppression of Palestinians was considered by Israelis to involve an “enlightened occupation.” I found one reminder of that “idyllic” time in a geography book published a decade ago but still used — Israel: The Man and The Space by Zvia Fine, Meira Segev and Raheli Lavi: “Some of the foreign workers are Palestinians who come from the areas controlled by the Palestinian authorities. They are employed in unprofessional jobs and their wages are lower than that those of the Israeli citizens who work in the same jobs … This is characteristic of all developed countries.”

The conclusions of the new study reflect the Israeli bon ton that brought the success of Yair Lapid in the recent elections — to wrap up Arabs and Orthodox Jews together and slander them. But, as usual, there can be no comparison.

While Orthodox Jewish textbooks present Arabs — all of them — as evil forces, a sort of biblical Amalek we must eliminate with the help of God, Palestinian textbooks never resort to such discourse. They respect Judaism as one of the three monotheistic religions but relate — as accurately as they can under so much censorship — the true and horrid facts of life under Israeli military rule.

The new study — or at least the part that has been published — seems quite problematic and biased but not in the way Israel is trying to spin it. Let’s hope the full study, when published, will clear up some of this confusion.

Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan is a lecturer in language education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education ‏(I.B. Tauris, 2012).

Rafael Correa re-elected in Ecuador

February 18th, 2013 by Global Research News

According to the results obtained by three private media agencies of Ecuador (El Universo, Ecuavisa El Comercio newspaper), the exit poll confirms that the current president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa was re-elected in the first round with 58.8% total votes.

The exit poll data Cedatos polling, carried out to 18,000 people in 23 provinces of the country, ranks second to Guillemo Lasso (CREO) with 20% of the total votes and the third to Lucio Gutierrez, with 5,7% of the vote.

The results of the other candidates were: Alvaro Noboa, 3.3%, 3% Mauricio Rodas, Alberto Acosta, 2.8%, Nelson Zavala 1.1%; Norman Wray 1%. Between null and blank votes was reached 4.4% (3.2% and 1.2% White null).

The Arab Republic of Egypt is “on its way” to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, Egypt’s presidential aide said on Sunday as Kosovo Albanians celebrated the fifth anniversary of their declaration of independence from Serbia.

The statement was made by Pakinam Al -Sharkawy after talks with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. Sharqawy arrived in Kosovo to take part in the celebrations.

“Egypt supports Kosovo’s entry to international organizations such as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD),” Sharqawy said adding that Cairo is carrying out an ‘open doors’ policy towards Kosovo.

She said Egypt and Kosovo “are on the way to building positive relations and mutual understanding.”

Kosovo, a landlocked region with a population consisting mainly ethnic Albanians, declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008. Some 100 nations, including the United States, acknowledged Kosovo’s independence.

After the 2011 revolution, Egypt, which was opposed to Kosovo’s independence, became more supportive of it. Kosovo earlier voiced hopes that it would be recognized as an independent state by the Arab Spring countries.

Unemployment Rises in Egypt

February 17th, 2013 by Global Research News

Unemployment in Egypt rose by 0.5 percent in the last quarter of 2012, according to the official statistical agency, which set at 13 percent unemployment rate, in a report released on Sunday.

The figure includes only registered workers, regardless of people working in the informal economy, covering a range from nuts vendors, to street food processors and the legion of people who play the most unusual trades get daily livelihood.

The increase in unemployment is due to the slowdown in overall economic activity during that period, 78 percent of those without stable employment are high school or college graduates, the report of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

The Egyptian labor force is estimated at 27 million people, including the increase those who reached the legal age at the stage analyzed, about 18 000, ensures CAPMAS.

Currently there are 3 500 000 unemployed in Egypt, defined as people who have lost their jobs in the two years since the massive popular demonstrations forced former President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

We call on the AFN National Chief, Shaun Atleo to denounce the actions of the Conservative Government and the Department of Indians Affairs, now known as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). In light of the following disturbing circumstances, we also respectfully ask National Chief Shaun Atleo to decline the acceptance of his impending Indspire Award for Education which he is scheduled to accept on Friday February 15, 2013 in Saskatoon.

February 8th, 2013 (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan): A meeting was scheduled by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (“AANDC”) at the TCU Center in Saskatoon for ‘consultations’ on Education. These ‘consultations’ stem from a joint Canada-Assembly of First Nations Action Plan on Education. The development for federal legislation on First Nations Education originates in a report entitled “National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education” supported by the AFN. During the meeting, no one from the AFN objected to this process despite much opposition from the grassroots people. This meeting is one of several ‘consultations’ that will take place across the country for the development of proposed federal legislation on education.

The creation of a First Nations Education Act will directly impact the Treaty term and promise to education as understood during the time of Treaty making, made by our Forefathers.  The consultation process that was utilized is contrary to its own statement of “open and meaningful dialogue” and further, it contradicts the jurisprudence on the Duty to Consult.

The morning meeting was open to the public and was closed in the afternoon, which left many people confused. No reason for closed doors were given beyond, “it was a closed meeting for the afternoon”.  Many grassroots people felt excluded from a process that directly impacts them, their children and future generations.

Grassroots people who wanted to attend the afternoon session were met with hostility and were refused entry at the door, as they were pushed and shoved by security guards refusing to allow them into the meeting.

Idle No More declares the process illegal and contrary to the international standard of free and prior consent as set forth, which Canada is a signatory, in the “United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)”.
 
Furthermore, Idle No More declares the Treaties and Inherent Rights breached and/or infringed by the British Crown’s successor state, Canada as their was intentional physical exclusion of the grassroots people who are directly and detrimentally impacted by this proposed “consultation process”.

Contact:

Dion Tootoosis (306) 221-9844

Sylvia McAdam (306) 281-8158

Does North Korea Need Nuclear Weapons?

February 17th, 2013 by Stephen Gowans

Is North Korea’s recent nuclear test, its third, to be welcomed, lamented or condemned? It depends on your perspective. If you believe that a people should be able to organize their affairs free from foreign domination and interference; that the United States and its client government in Seoul have denied Koreans in the south that right and seek to deny Koreans in the north the same right; and that the best chance that Koreans in the north have for preserving their sovereignty is to build nuclear weapons to deter a US military conquest, then the test is to be welcomed.

If you’re a liberal, you might believe that the United States should offer the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name) security guarantees in return for Pyongyang completely, permanently and verifiably eliminating its nuclear weapons program. If so, your position invites three questions.

• Contrary to the febrile rhetoric of high US officials, the United States is not threatened by North Korea. North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability is a defensive threat alone. The DPRK’s leaders are not unaware that a first-strike nuclear attack would trigger an overwhelming US nuclear retaliatory strike, which, as then US president Bill Clinton once warned, “would mean the end of their country as we know it”. Since a North Korean first-strike would be suicidal (and this is not lost on the North Korean leadership), whether Pyongyang has or doesn’t have nuclear weapons makes little difference to US national security. What, then, would motivate Washington to offer genuine security guarantees? It can’t be argued that US national security considerations form the basis of the guarantees, since the threat to the United States of a nuclear-armed North Korea is about the same as a disarmed North Korea—approximately zero.

• How credible could any security guarantee be, in light of the reality that since 1945 Washington has invested significant blood and treasure in eliminating all expressions of communism and anti-imperialism on the Korean peninsula. The argument that the United States could issue genuine security guarantees would have to explain what had transpired to bring about a radical qualitative shift in US policy from attempting to eliminate communism in Korea to détente with it.

• Why is it incumbent on North Korea alone to disarm? Why not the United States too?

The conservative view, on which I shall not tarry, is simple. Anything North Korea does, except surrender, is blameworthy.

Finally, you might lament Pyongyang’s nuclear test for running counter to nuclear non-proliferation, invoking the fear that growth in the number of countries with nuclear weapons increases the risk of war. But this view crumbles under scrutiny. The elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq didn’t reduce the chances of US military intervention in that country—it increased them. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s voluntary elimination of his WMD didn’t prevent a NATO assault on Libya—it cleared the way for it. The disarming of countries that deny the US ruling class access to markets, natural resources, and investment opportunities, in order to use these for their own development, doesn’t reduce the risk of wars of conquest—it makes them all the more certain.

The radical view locates the cause of wars of conquest since the rise of capitalism in the drive for profits. This compulsion chases the goods, services and capital of corporate-dominated societies over the face of the globe to settle everywhere, nestle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere, irrespective of the wishes, interests, development needs and welfare of the natives. If territories aren’t voluntarily opened to capital penetration through trade and investment agreements, their doors are battered down by the Pentagon, the enforcer of last resort of a world economic order supporting, as its first commitment, the profit-making interests of the US ruling class.

Background

Because North Korea has long been vilified and condemned by the Western press as bellicose, provocative and unpredictable, it’s difficult to cut through the fog of vituperation that obscures any kind of dispassionate understanding of the country to grasp that the DPRK represents something praiseworthy: a tradition of struggle against oppression and foreign domination, rooted in the experience of a majority of Koreans dating back to the end of WWII and the period of Japanese colonial rule. This tradition found expression in the Korean People’s Republic, a national government, created by, for, and of Koreans, that was already in place when US troops landed at Inchon in September, 1945. The new government was comprised of leftists who had won the backing of the majority, partly because they had led the struggle against Japan’s colonial occupation, and partly because they promised relief from exploitation by landlords and capitalists. The USSR, which occupied the north of the country until 1948, worked with the KPR in its occupation zone, but the United States suppressed the NPR in the south, worked to exterminate leftist forces in its zone, and backed conservatives reviled by Koreans for their oppressions and collaboration with the Japanese. By 1948, the peninsula was divided between a northern government led by guerrillas and activists who fought to liberate Korea from Japanese rule, and a southern government led by a US-installed anti-communist backed by conservatives tainted by collaboration with colonial oppression. For the next 65 years, the essential character of the competing regimes has remained the same.

Park Geun-hye, the incoming South Korean president is the daughter of a former president, Park Chung-hee, who came to power in a military coup in 1961. The elder Park had served in the Japanese Imperial Army. Kim Il Sung, grandfather of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-eun, was an important guerrilla leader who, unlike the collaborator Park, fought, rather than served, the Japanese. The North represents the traditions of struggle against foreign domination, both political and economic, while the South represents the tradition of submission to and collaboration with a foreign hegemon.

Significantly, there are no foreign troops stationed in North Korea, but are in South Korea. North Korean troops have never fought abroad, but South Korea’s have, odiously in Vietnam, in return for infusions of mercenary lucre from the Americans, and later in Iraq. As regards repression, South Korea’s authoritarianism on behalf of rightist causes is long and enduring, typified in the virulently anti-communist National Security Law, which metes out harsh punishment to anyone who so much as publicly utters a kind word about North Korea. The South Korean police state also blocks access to pro-North Korean websites, bans books, including volumes by Noam Chomsky and heterodox (though pro-capitalist) economist Ha Joon-chang, and imprisons anyone who travels to the North.

Pressure

Since the Korean War the United States and South Korea have maintained unceasing pressure on North Korea through subversion, espionage, propaganda, economic warfare and threats of nuclear attack and military invasion. Low-intensity warfare sets as its ultimate objective the collapse of the North Korean government. Unremitting military pressure forces Pyongyang to maintain punishingly high expenditures on defense (formalized in the country’s Songun, or “army first” policy). Massive defense expenditures divert critical resources from the civilian economy, retarding economic growth. At the same time, trade and financial sanctions heap further harm on the economy. Economic dislocations disrupt food supplies, make life harsh for many North Koreans, and breed discontent. Discontent in turn engenders political opposition, which is beaten back and contained by measures of repression and restriction of civic and political liberties. In response, Washington disingenuously deplores Pyongyang’s military expenditures at a time North Koreans “are starving”; denounces Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program as a “provocation” (rather than a defense against US military threat); dishonestly attributes the country’s economic difficulties to allegedly inherent weaknesses in public ownership and central planning (rather than sanctions and financial strangulation); and chastises the DPRK for its repressive measures to check dissent (ultimately traceable to US pressures.) In other words, the regrettable features of North Korea that Washington highlights to demonize and discredit the DPRK are the consequences, not the causes, of US North Korea policy. To view US policy as a reaction to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program, economic difficulties, and repressions is to get the causal direction wrong.

US foreign policy

US foreign policy aims to secure and defend access to foreign markets, natural resources and investment opportunities and deny communists and nationalists control because access might be blocked, limited or freighted with social welfare and domestic development considerations.

As a general rule, the American government’s attitude to governments in the Third World …depends very largely on the degree to which these governments favour American free enterprise in their countries or are likely to favour it in the future…In this perspective, the supreme evil is obviously the assumption of power by governments whose main purpose is precisely to abolish private ownership and private enterprise…Such governments are profoundly objectionable not only because their actions profoundly affect foreign-owned interests and enterprises or because they render future capitalist implantation impossible [but also] because the withdrawal of any country from the world system of capitalist enterprise is seen as constituting a weakening of that system and as providing encouragement to further dissidence and withdrawal. [1]

North Korea is one of the few countries left that commits “the supreme evil.” Allowed to develop in peace, unimpeded by military pressure and economic warfare, it might become an inspiration for other countries to follow. From the perspective of the US ruling class, the United States’ North Korea policy must have one overarching objective: the DPRK’s demise. Asked by The New York Times to explain the aim of US policy on North Korea, then US under secretary of state for arms control John Bolton “strode over to a bookshelf, pulled off a volume and slapped it on the table. It was called ‘The End of North Korea.’” “‘That,’ he said, ‘is our policy.’” [2]

On top of profit-making goals, and crippling North Korea economically, politically and socially to prevent its emergence as an inspiring example to other countries, Washington seeks to maintain access to its strategic position on a peninsula whose proximity to China and Russia provides a forward operating base from which to pressure these two significant obstacles to the United States’ complete domination of the globe.

Threats of nuclear war

According to declassified and other US government documents, some released on the 60th-anniversary of the Korean War, from “the 1950s’ Pentagon to today’s Obama administration, the United States has repeatedly pondered, planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea.” [3] These documents, along with the public statements of senior US officials, point to an ongoing pattern of US nuclear intimidation of the DPRK.

• The United States introduced nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula as early as 1950. [4]

• During the Korean War, US president Harry Truman announced that the use of nuclear weapons was under active consideration; US Air Force bombers flew nuclear rehearsal runs over Pyongyang; and US commander General Douglas MacArthur planned to drop 30 to 50 atomic bombs across the northern neck of the Korean peninsula to block Chinese intervention. [5]

• In the late 1960s, nuclear-armed US warplanes were maintained on 15-minute alert to strike North Korea. [6]

• In 1975, US defense secretary James Schlesinger acknowledged for the first time that US nuclear weapons were deployed in South Korea. Addressing the North Koreans, he warned, “I do not think it would be wise to test (US) reactions.” [7]

• In February 1993, Lee Butler, head of the US Strategic Command, announced the United States was retargeting hydrogen bombs aimed at the old USSR on North Korea (and other targets.) One month later, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. [8]

• On July 22, 1993, US president Bill Clinton said if North Korea developed and used nuclear weapons “we would quickly and overwhelmingly retaliate. It would mean the end of their country as we know it.” [9]

• In 1995, Colin Powell, who had served as chairman of the US joints chiefs of staff and would later serve as US secretary of state, warned the North Koreans that the United States had the means to turn their country into “a charcoal briquette.” [10]

• Following North Korea’s first nuclear test on October 9, 2006, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice reminded North Korea that “the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range—and I underscore full range of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan [emphasis added].” [11]

• In April 2010, US defense secretary Leon Panetta refused to rule out a US nuclear attack on North Korea, saying, “all options are on the table.” [12]

• On February 13, 2013, Panetta described North Korea as “a threat to the United States, to regional stability, and to global security.” He added: “Make no mistake. The US military will take all necessary steps to meet our security commitments to the Republic of Korea and to our regional allies [emphasis added].” [13]

As the North Koreans put it, “no nation in the world has been exposed to the nuclear threat so directly and for so long as the Koreans.”[14]

“For over half a century since early in the 1950s, the US has turned South Korea into the biggest nuclear arsenal in the Far East, gravely threatening the DPRK through ceaseless manoeuvres for a nuclear war. It has worked hard to deprive the DPRK of its sovereignty and its right to exist and develop….thereby doing tremendous damage to its socialist economic construction and the improvement of the standard of people’s living.” [15]

Economic warfare

The breadth and depth of US economic warfare against North Korea can be summed up in two sentences:

• North Korea is “the most sanctioned nation in the world” — George W. Bush. [16]

• …”there are few sanctions left to apply.” – The New York Times [17]

From the moment it imposed a total embargo on exports to North Korea three days after the Korean War began in June 1950, the United States has maintained an uninterrupted regimen of economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea. These include:

o Limits on the export of goods and services.
o Prohibition of most foreign aid and agricultural sales.
o A ban on Export-Import Bank funding.
o Denial of favourable trade terms.
o Prohibition of imports from North Korea.
o Blocking of any loan or funding through international financial institutions.
o Limits on export licensing of food and medicine for export to North Korea.
o A ban on government financing of food and medicine exports to North Korea.
o Prohibition on import and export transactions related to transportation.
o A ban on dual-use exports (i.e., civilian goods that could be adapted to military purposes.)
o Prohibition on certain commercial banking transactions. [18]

In recent years, US sanctions have been complemented by “efforts to freeze assets and cut off financial flows” [19] by blocking banks that deal with North Korean companies from access to the US banking system. The intended effect is to make North Korea a banking pariah that no bank in the world will touch. Former US president George W. Bush was “determined to squeeze North Korea with every financial sanction possible” until its economy collapsed. [20] The Obama administration has not departed from the Bush policies.

Washington has also acted to sharpen the bite of sanctions, pressing other countries to join its campaign of economic warfare against a country it faults for maintaining a Marxist-Leninist system and non-market economy. [21] This has included the sponsoring of a United Nations Security Council resolution compelling all nations to refrain for exporting dual-use items to North Korea (a repeat of the sanctions regime that led to the crumbling of Iraq’s healthcare system in the 1990s.) Washington has even gone so far as to pressure China (unsuccessfully) to cut off North Korea’s supply of oil. [22]

Drawing the appropriate lesson

On the day Baghdad fell to invading US forces, John Bolton warned Iran, Syria and North Korea to “draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq.” [23] There can be no doubt that Pyongyang drew a lesson, though not the one Bolton intended. The North Koreans did not conclude, as Bolton hoped, that peace and security could be achieved by relinquishing WMDs. Instead, the North Koreans couldn’t fail to grasp the real lesson of the US assault on Iraq. The United States had invaded Iraq only after Saddam Hussein had cleared the way by complying with US demands to destroy his weapons of mass destruction. Had he actually retained the weapons he was falsely accused of hiding and holding in reserve, the Americans would likely have never attacked.

Subsequent events in Libya have only reinforced the lesson. Muammar Gaddafi had developed his own WMD program to protect Libya from Western military intervention. But Gaddafi also faced an internal threat—Islamists, including jihadists linked to Al Qaeda, who sought to overthrow him to create an Islamist society in Libya. After 9/11, with the United States setting out to crush Al Qaeda, Gaddafi sought a rapprochement with the West, becoming an ally in the international battle against Al Qaeda, to more effectively deal with his own Islamist enemies at home.

The price of being invited into the fold was to abandon his weapons of mass destruction. When Gaddafi agreed to this condition he made a fatal strategic blunder. An economic nationalist, Gaddafi irritated Western oil companies and investors by insisting on serving Libyan interests ahead of the oil companies’ profits and investors’ returns. Fed up with his nationalist obstructions, NATO teamed up with Gaddafi’s Islamist enemies to oust and kill the Libyan leader. Had he not surrendered his WMDs, Gaddafi would likely still be playing a lead role in Libya. “Who would have dared deal with Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein if they had a nuclear capability?” asks Major General Amir Eshel, chief of the Israeli army’s planning division. “No way.” [24]

Having unilaterally disarmed, Gaddafi was hailed in Western capitals, and world leaders hastened to Tripoli to sign commercial agreements with him. Among Gaddafi’s visitors was the South Korean minister of foreign affairs, and Ban Ki-moon, later to become the UN secretary general. Both men urged the “rehabilitated” Libyan leader to persuade the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons. [25] Whether Gaddafi acceded to the Koreans’ request is unclear, but if he did, his advice was wisely ignored. In the North Korean view, Gaddafi fell prey to a “bait and switch.” The lesson the DPRK drew from Libya was that the only guarantee of peace on the Korean peninsula is a powerful military, backed by nuclear weapons. [26]

This is neither an irrational view, nor one the West, for all its pieties about nuclear non-proliferation (for others), rejects for itself. Britain, for example, justifies its own nuclear weapons program with reference to the need “to deter and prevent nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression against our vital interests that cannot be countered by other means.” [27] If the UK requires nuclear weapons to deter and prevent nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression, then surely the North Koreans—long on the receiving end of these minatory pressures—do as well. Indeed, the case can be made that the North Koreans have a greater need for nuclear arms than the British do, for whom nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression are only hypotheticals.

General Kevin P. Chilton, head of the US Strategic Command from 2007 to 2011, told Washington Post columnist Walter Pincus in 2010 that, “Throughout the 65-year history of nuclear weapons, no nuclear power has been conquered or even put at risk of conquest.” [28] On the other hand, countries that comply with demands to abandon their WMDs soon find themselves conquered, by countries with nuclear weapons aplenty and no intention of giving them up. Pincus used Chilton’s words to advocate a pre-emptive strike on North Korea to prevent the country from developing a large enough nuclear arsenal to make itself invulnerable to conquest. That no nuclear power has been conquered or put at risk of conquest is “a thought others in government ought to ponder as they watch Iran and North Korea seek to develop nuclear capability,” Pincus wrote. [29]

Conclusion

Nuclear arms have political utility. For countries with formidable nuclear arsenals and the means of delivering warheads, nuclear weapons can be used to extort political concessions from non-nuclear-armed states through terror and intimidation. No country exploits the political utility of nuclear weapons as vigorously as the United States does.

In pursuing its foreign policy goals, Washington threatened other countries with nuclear attack on 25 separate occasions between 1970 and 2010, and 14 occasions between 1990 and 2010. On six of these occasions, the United States threatened the DPRK. [30] There have been more US threats against North Korea since. (The United States’ record of issuing threats of nuclear attack against other countries over this period is: Iraq, 7; China, 4; the USSR, 4; Libya, 2; Iran, 1; Syria, 1. Significantly, all these countries, like the DPRK, were under communist or economically nationalist governance when the threats were made.)

Nuclear weapons also have political utility for countries menaced by nuclear and other military threats. They raise the stakes for countries seeking to use their militaries for conquest, and therefore reduce the chances of military intervention. There is little doubt that the US military intervention in Iraq and NATO intervention in Libya would not have been carried out had the targets not disarmed and cleared the way for outside forces to intervene with impunity.

A North Korean nuclear arsenal does not increase the chances of war—it reduces the likelihood that the United States and its South Korean marionette will attempt to bring down the communist government in Pyongyang by force. This is to be welcomed by anyone who opposes imperialist military interventions; supports the right of a people to organize its affairs free from foreign domination; and has an interest in the survival of one of the few top-to-bottom, actually-existing, alternatives to the global capitalist system of oppression, exploitation, and foreign domination.

Notes

1. Ralph Miliband, The State in Capitalist Society, Merlin Press, 2009, p. 62.

2. “Absent from the Korea Talks: Bush’s Hard-Liner,” The New York Times, September 2, 2003.

3. Charles J. Hanley and Randy Hershaft, “U.S. often weighed N. Korea nuke option”, The Associated Press, October 11, 2010.

4. Hanley and Hershaft.

5. Hanley and Hershaft.

6. Hanley and Hershaft.

7. Hanley and Hershaft.

8. Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005. p. 488-489.

9. William E. Berry Jr., “North Korea’s nuclear program: The Clinton administration’s response,” INSS Occasional Paper 3, March 1995.

10. Bruce Cumings, “Latest North Korean provocations stem from missed US opportunities for demilitarization,” Democracy Now!, May 29, 2009.

11. Lou Dobbs Tonight, October 18, 2006.

12. Hanley and Hershaft.

13. Choe Sang-hun, “New leader in South criticizes North Korea,” The New York Times, February 13, 2013.

14. “Foreign ministry issues memorandum on N-issue,” Korean Central News Agency, April 21, 2010.

15. Korean Central News Agency, February 13, 2013.

16. U.S. News & World Report, June 26, 2008; The New York Times, July 6, 2008.

17. Neil MacFarquhar and Jane Perlez, “China looms over response to nuclear test by North Korea,” The New York Times, February 12, 2013.

18. Dianne E. Rennack, “North Korea: Economic sanctions”, Congressional Research Service, October 17, 2006. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/crs/rl31696.pdf

19. Mark Landler, “Envoy to coordinate North Korea sanctions”, The New York Times, June 27, 2009.

20. The New York Times, September 13, 2006.

21. According to Rennack, the following US sanctions have been imposed on North Korea for reasons listed as either “communism”, “non-market economy” or “communism and market disruption”: prohibition on foreign aid; prohibition on Export-Import Bank funding; limits on the exports or goods and services; denial of favorable trade terms.

22. The Washington Post, June 24, 2005.

23. “U.S. Tells Iran, Syria, N. Korea ‘Learn from Iraq,” Reuters, April 9, 2003.

24. Ethan Bronner, “Israel sense bluffing in Iran’s threats of retaliation”, The New York Times, January 26, 2012.

25. Chosun Ilbo, February 14, 2005.

26. Mark McDonald, “North Korea suggests Libya should have kept nuclear program”, The New York Times, March 24, 2011.

27. http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/AC00DD79-76D6-4FE3-91A1-6A56B03C092F/0/DefenceWhitePaper2006_Cm6994.pdf

28. Quoted in Walter Pincus, “As missions are added, Stratcom commander keeps focus on deterrence,” The Washington Post, March 30, 2010.

29. Pincus.

30. Samuel Black, “The changing political utility of nuclear weapons: Nuclear threats from 1970 to 2010,” The Stimson Center, August 2010, http://www.stimson.org/images/uploads/research-pdfs/Nuclear_Final.pdf