Serben im Kosovo: »Ständig politischer Gewalt ausgesetzt«

December 8th, 2011 by Benjamin Schett

Benjamin Schett studiert in Wien Osteuropäische Geschichte und beteiligt sich an Solidaritätsaktionen für die Serben im Kosovo

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel hat am vergangenen Freitag mit Blick auf die Auseinandersetzungen im Kosovo konstatiert, Serbien sei nicht reif für EU-Beitrittsverhandlungen. Das Land werde den Anforderungen des Prozesses »nicht gerecht«. Sie sehe bei Serbien keinen Kandidatenstatus. Wie ist die Nachricht bei der serbischen Bevölkerung angekommen?

Diejenigen, die ihr Vertrauen in die Heilsamkeit eines EU-Beitritts bereits verloren haben oder ein solches noch nie hatten, dürften dies vor allem als einen weiteren Beweis dafür ansehen, daß von den NATO-Staaten nichts anderes als Erpressung zu erwarten ist – und dies nicht erst seit heute. Das geht so seit 20 Jahren. Jene, die nach wie vor auf einen EU-Beitritt hoffen, werden ihren Ohren nicht getraut haben: Seit dem Sturz des jugoslawischen Präsidenten Slobodan Milosevic vor elf Jahren hat Serbien dem Westen so ziemlich jeden Wunsch von den Lippen abgelesen, unter völliger Preisgabe seiner nationalen Souveränität. Von ungehemmter Privatisierung bis hin zur Auslieferung seiner Staatsbürger an ein »Tribunal«, welches von den NATO-Staaten finanziert wird, um derem Version der Ereignisse in den jugoslawischen Bürgerkriegen quasi rechtskräftig werden zu lassen. Doch all das reicht nicht aus: Obwohl nicht einmal alle EU-Staaten die »Republik Kosovo« anerkannt haben, wird dies von Serbien verlangt, um »Europa-tauglich« zu werden.

Daß die Kritik aus Deutschland kommt, macht die Sache nicht gerade besser: Von einem Land, das Serbien im 20. Jahrhundert dreimal angegriffen hat und eine Tradition der Zusammenarbeit mit Rechtsaußenkräften in Kroatien pflegt, will man sich ganz sicher nicht belehren lassen.

Von Belgrad aus starten Busse mit Unterstützern zu den protestierenden Serben im Norden des Kosovo, die sich der von Pristina 2008 proklamierten Sezession verweigern. Was ist das Ziel dieser Solidaritätsfahrten?


Die Kosovo-Serben fühlen sich von der prowestlichen Regierung im Stich gelassen. Premier Boris Tadic hat unlängst sogar die Beseitigung der Straßensperren gefordert. Es geht also nicht zuletzt um moralische Unterstützung und darum, auf die Belange der Menschen, die dort für ein Leben in Würde kämpfen, aufmerksam zu machen, in Serbien und weltweit. Außerdem werden humanitäre Güter – warme Kleidung, Öl, Mehl etc. – in die Region transportiert. Eine Gruppe serbischer Schriftsteller hat unlängst 3000 Bücher für die Bibliothek in Kosovska Mitrovica beigesteuert.

Sind weitere Fahrten geplant?


Ja. Reisebusse werden kostenlos zur Verfügung gestellt. Die Fahrt beginnt in Belgrad und endet in Kosovska Mitrovica, von wo aus diverse Barrikaden besucht werden. Die Teilnahme von Personen aus dem Ausland ist ausdrücklich erwünscht und würde helfen, die Aufmerksamkeit für das Thema über die Grenzen Serbiens hinaus auszudehnen. Wer sich dafür interessiert, kann sich an John Bosnitch ([email protected]) wenden, der die Fahrten organisiert.

Wie sind die Lebensbedingungen der serbischen Bevölkerung im NATO-kontrollierten Kosovo?


Schlecht, so wie in den meisten Teilen Serbiens. Selbst in Belgrad hört man die Leute sagen, Tadics Regierung sei die unsozialste, die das Land je gehabt habe. In Kosovska Mitrovica gibt es nur unregelmäßig Strom. Verhungern muß keiner, aber viel mehr ist nicht drin. Hinzu kommt die permanente Anspannung. Man muß sich vor Augen halten, daß diese Menschen seit mehr als zwölf Jahren ständig, mal mehr mal weniger, politischer Gewalt ausgesetzt sind, und eine dramatische Verschlechterung der Lage jederzeit möglich ist.

In der vergangenen Woche wurde eine Delegation der kosovo-albanischen Regierung aus Pristina im Deutschen Bundestag empfangen, darunter Politiker, die Kriegsverbrechen begangen haben sollen bzw. Prozesse gegen Kriegsverbrecher blockieren, jW berichtete. Hat das in Serbien eine Rolle gespielt?


Die staatlichen und somit prowestlichen Medien halten sich natürlich zurück, den Unmut in der Bevölkerung noch zu vergrößern und berichten wenig über diese Vorgänge. Abgesehen davon glaube ich, daß solche Ereignisse die Menschen in Serbien zwar nach wie vor sehr aufregen, aber als überraschend kann man sie ja nicht mehr bezeichnen. Man denke nur daran, wie der mutmaßliche Organhändler und Terrorist ­Hashim Thaci von sämtlichen Politikern des Westens gehätschelt wurde und so vom Banditen zum Kosovo-»Premier« aufsteigen konnte.

Audio interview

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca

Rozoff worked against the Chicago political machine for 25 years, 1976-2000, including as a ward-wide voter registration coordinator, founder and leader of an independent ward organization, congressional district coordinator for Mayor Harold Washington’s 1987 reelection bid, campaign manager in two state representative and an alderman election, and third party candidate for state office.

What’s the reaction there to the Russian elections? We’ve heard a lot of statements that I think are a way out of line from the U.S. State Department, in particular Hillary Clinton. What’s your opinion of these statements?

They are outrageous. They are unwarranted. Regardless of what the actual details are about the recently concluded Duma elections, parliamentary elections, in Russia, the statements, emanating as you mentioned from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, are arrogant to a degree. If the situation were reversed and Russian and other major political figures in other nations commented similarly on U.S. elections, which are not without their flaws as we can talk about, I hope, there would be as strong as possible protests from the State Department and the White House.

The statements by Clinton, for example, include the fact that she has serious concerns about the elections on Sunday, presuming to speak on behalf of the Russian people, stating that Russian voters deserve, and I quote her, “a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation.”

This is somebody who is from the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. And like her commander-in-chief, Barack Obama, who is from Chicago and is a product of the Chicago political machine, she is hardly in a position to complain about electoral fraud and manipulation and ballot box stuffing. They are products of the political machine that all but invented the process.

I’ve spoken with fellow Chicagoans who had lived in the former Soviet Union and they talked about the fact that when elections were held election days were holidays so that people were off work and could not only vote but could participate in the political process, including in the polling place, which is not a luxury accorded to Americans, though we hold ourselves up, of course, as being the model for democratic processes, including elections…She made this statement about the recently concluded parliamentary elections in Russia, for the State Duma, and mentioned, again in her own words, “electoral fraud and manipulation.”

What are some of the other flaws in the US system? Can you tell us something about foreign observers? Why aren’t they allowed into the US?

The second question is particularly fascinating. As to the first, “Their name is legion”, to use the line from the Gospels. That is, there are so many flaws in the American electoral system, not the least of which is that next year several billion dollars are going to be spent by lobbyists and others to choose their candidates or buy their candidates into office, what is politely put an auction block. I’ll give you the best example I can think of. Today at work in Chicago most everyone was glued to television sets to learn which sentence was going to be passed on former governor Rod Blagojevich on 18 counts of corruption. He was sentenced to 14 years, as it turns out. We have to recall his major transgression was trying to sell the senate seat of at the time incoming U.S. president Barack Obama. During the course of the initial trial, Blagojevich mentioned that he had had several phone calls with Rahm Emanuel – he is now the mayor of Chicago; at the time he was Chief of Staff of the White House – about just that, about selling the Senate seat, selling the right to appoint the successor to the incoming president of the country that President Obama in December of 2009 referred to as “the world’s sole military superpower.”

But it’s tolerated in the United States simply because the United States is the United States, what’s referred to as “American exceptionalism,” so that we have an electoral system tainted by billions of dollars changing hands as though all offices go to the highest bidder. As to foreign observers, the U.S. will not tolerate any intrusion on its own sovereignty – but will interfere in the grossest fashion imaginable in other peoples’ internal political processes.

NATO?

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has recently presumed again to lecture Russia, just as Hillary Clinton does on how Russia should conduct its elections. Rasmussen is telling Russia, though he is in no formal position to do so, how to defend itself, saying for example that Russia should not follow up on the pledges and on some of the actual commitments made by President Medvedev to increase radar and other surveillance installations in Northeast Russia and to reposition tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave, in Northeast Russia, and so forth.

But the statement by Rasmussen was particularly condescending and patronizing, at one point basically telling the Russian government it had better take care of its own people first, or words to that effect. Again, just reeking of arrogance and contempt. The sort of talk one expects from a NATO chieftain and Rasmussen, though less abrasive than some of his predecessors, feels empowered evidently to tell nations – major nations – like Russia what they ought to or ought not to do in terms of defending the borders of their own country. I should add that the current U.S. permanent representative to NATO, Ivo Daalder, made a statement two days ago where he said the US and NATO are forging ahead with the interceptor missile system in Europe – and I believe I’m quoting him word for word – “whether Russia likes it or not.”

If anything, we are hearing more and more ambitious plans. For example, the upper house of the Romanian parliament, their Senate, yesterday ratified the agreement with the U.S. to station 24 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Romania, which as we know is immediately across the Black Sea from Russia. This is in conjunction with the comparable deployment of missiles in Poland in addition to the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles that are already present in Poland; the missile defense, so-called, radar facility that will be placed in Turkey. And there is discussion now about maybe in the dozens, perhaps in the scores, of NATO nations’ warships being converted to what’s called the Aegis Combat System so that they could be equipped with either radar or in most instances missiles, Standard Missiles-3s, for what’s called the European Phased Adaptive Approach, U.S.-NATO missile system. So they are forging ahead on all fronts, at the same time the secretary general of NATO is lecturing Russia on what it should or should not do in terms of self-defense. And the U.S. ambassador to NATO, who is a pretty influential person in his own right – he is a former senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, I’m talking about Daalder, of course – who could make such a curt and arrogant statement as the one I just cited, that the U.S. and NATO are going ahead with the missile shield “whether Russia likes it or not.”

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On November 27, Bloomberg News reported the results of its successful case to force the Federal Reserve to reveal the lending details of its 2008-09 bank bailout.  Bloomberg reported that by March 2009, the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion in below-market loans and guarantees to rescuing the financial system; and that these nearly interest-free loans came without strings attached. 

The Fed insisted that the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, but the Bloomberg report said the banks reaped a $13 billion windfall in profits; and “details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.”

The revelations provoked shock and outrage among commentators.  But in a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Committees focused on the financial services industry, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke responded on December 6th that the figures were greatly exaggerated.  He said the loans were being double-counted: short-term loans rolled over from day to day were counted as separate cumulative loans rather than as a single extended loan. 

Bloomberg was quick to rebut, denying any exaggerated claims.  But either way, the banks were clearly getting perks not available to the rest of us.  As Alan Grayson observed in a December 5th editorial:

The main, if not the sole, qualification for getting help from the Fed was to have lost huge amounts of money. The Fed bailouts rewarded failure, and penalized success. . . .

During all the time that the Fed was stuffing money into the pockets of failed banks, many Americans couldn’t borrow a dime for a home, a car, or anything else. If the Fed had extended $26 trillion in credit to the American people instead of Wall Street, would there be 24 million Americans today who can’t find a full-time job?

All in the Name of Liquidity

It was all explained, said Grayson, with “the Fed’s all-time favorite rationale for everything it does, ‘increasing liquidity.’” In 2008, bank liquidity dried up after Lehman Brothers collapsed, and the banks could not get the cheap, ready credit on which their lending scheme depends.  The Fed then stepped in as “lender of last resort,” doing what it had to do to keep the banking scheme going. 

Left unexplained is why the banks’ need for “liquidity” justifies such extraordinary measures.  Why do banks need cheap and ready access to funds?  Aren’t they the lenders rather than the borrowers of funds?  Don’t they simply take in deposits and lend them out?

The answer is no.  Today when banks make loans, they extend credit FIRST, then fund the loans by borrowing from the cheapest available source.  If deposits are not available, they borrow from another bank, the money market, or the Federal Reserve. 

Rather than loans being created from deposits, loans actually CREATE deposits.  They create deposits when checks are drawn on the borrower’s account and deposited in another bank.  The originating bank can then borrow these funds (or others created by the same process at another bank) at the Fed funds rate—currently a very low 0.25%.  In effect, a bank can create money in the form of “bank credit,” lend it to a customer at high interest, and borrow it back at very low interest, pocketing the difference as its profit. 

If all this looks like sleight of hand, it is.  The process has been compared to “check kiting,” defined in Barron’s Business Dictionary as:

[An] illegal scheme that establishes a false line of credit by the exchange of worthless checks between two banks. For instance, a check kiter might have empty checking accounts at two different banks, and B. The kiter writes a check for $50,000 on the bank account and deposits it in the bank account. If the kiter has good credit at bank B, he will be able to draw funds against the deposited check before it clears, that is, is forwarded to bank for payment and paid by bank A. Since the clearing process usually takes a few days, the kiter can use the $50,000 for a few days and then deposit it in the bank account before the $50,000 check drawn on that account clears.

Setting Things Right

As suspicious as all this appears, the economy actually needs an expandable credit system, and an expandable credit system needs a lender of last resort.  What is wrong with the current scheme is that it discriminates against Main Street in favor of Wall Street.  Banks can borrow very cheaply, while individuals, corporations and governments pay “whatever the market will bear.”  The banker middlemen take their cut in a scheme in which money is actually manufactured in the process of lending it.  The profits are siphoned off to the 1% at the expense of the 99%. 

To fix the system, the profits need to be returned to the 99%.  How that could be done was suggested by Thom Hartmann in a recent editorial:

Have the central bank owned by the US government and run by the Treasury Department, so all the profits . . . go directly into the Treasury and you and I pay less in taxes . . . .

For a model on the local level, he pointed to the Bank of North Dakota:

The good people of North Dakota . . . established something very much like this—the Bank of North Dakota—and it’s kept the state in the black, and kept its farmers, manufacturers and students protected from the predations of New York banksters for nearly a century. It’s time for every state to charter their own state bank, just like North Dakota did, and for the Treasury Department to either buy the Fed from the for-profit banks that own it, or simply nationalize it.

We have been distracted here and in Europe by a sudden panic over our “sovereign debt” crises, when the real crisis is that our debt is NOT sovereign.  We are indentured to a Wall Street money machine that creates our money and lends it back to us at interest, money our sovereign government could be creating itself, with full democratic oversight and accountability to the people.  We have forgotten our roots, when the American colonists thrived on a system of money created by the people themselves, debt-free and interest-free.  The continued dominance of the Wall Street money machine depends on that collective amnesia.  The fact that this memory is surfacing again may be the machine’s greatest threat—and our greatest hope as a nation.

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back.  Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com and http://EllenBrown.com.

Police Being Militarized Nationwide

Journalists from across the spectrum have documented the militarization of police forces in the United States, including, CNN, Huffington Post, the Cato Institute, Forbes, the New York Times, Daily Kos, Esquire, The Atlantic, Salon and many others.

Many police departments laugh at and harass Americans who exercise their right to free speech:

 

Indeed – especially since police brutality against protesters has been so blatant in recent months, while no top bank executives have been prosecuted – many Americans believe that the police are protecting the bankers whose fraud brought down the economy instead of the American people:

iVjUA The Militarization of American Police   and Shredding of Our Constitutional Rights   Started At Least 30 Years Ago

Some are comparing police brutality towards the Occupy protesters to that used by Israeli forces against Palestinian protesters. Indeed, numerous heads of U.S. police departments have traveled to Israel for “anti-terrorism training”, and received training from Israeli anti-terrorism experts visiting the U.S. See this, this, this, this, this.

Militarization of Police Started in 1981

Most assume that the militarization of police started after 9/11. Certainly, Dick Cheney initiated Continuity of Government Plans on September 11th that ended America’s constitutional form of government (at least for some undetermined period of time.) On that same day, a national state of emergency was declared … and that state of emergency has continuously been in effect up to today.

But the militarization of police actually started long before 9/11 … in the 1980s.

Radley Balko testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime in 2007:

Militarization [of police forces is] a troubling trend that’s been on the rise in America’s police departments over the last 25 years.

***

Since the late 1980s, Mr. Chairman, thanks to acts passed by the U.S. Congress, millions of pieces of surplus military equipment have been given to local police departments across the country.

We’re not talking just about computers and office equipment. Military-grade semi-automatic weapons, armored personnel vehicles, tanks, helicopters, airplanes, and all manner of other equipment designed for use on the battlefield is now being used on American streets, against American citizens.

Academic criminologists credit these transfers with the dramatic rise in paramilitary SWAT teams over the last quarter century.

SWAT teams were originally designed to be used in violent, emergency situations like hostage takings, acts of terrorism, or bank robberies. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, that’s primarily how they were used, and they performed marvelously.

But beginning in the early 1980s, they’ve been increasingly used for routine warrant service in drug cases and other nonviolent crimes. And thanks to the Pentagon transfer programs, there are now a lot more of them.

(And see this.)

Huffington Post notes:

Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper published an essay arguing that the current epidemic of police brutality is a reflection of the militarization (his word, not mine) of our urban police forces, the result of years of the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror. Stamper was chief of police during the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999, and is not a voice that can be easily dismissed.

And Jamie Douglas notes:

Ever since Ronald Reagan in 1981 helped draw up the Military Cooperation With Law Enforcement Act, quickly passed by a very cooperative congress, effectively circumventing the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by codifying military cooperation with law enforcement, the military has been encouraged to give any and all law enforcement agencies unfettered access to all military resources, training and hardware included. The military equipment was designed to be used by American fighting forces in combat with “the enemy,” but since a law was passed in 1994, the Pentagon has been able to donate all surplus war materiel to America’s police departments. The National Journal has compiled a number of statistics showing that in the first three years after the 1994 law came into effect, the “Department of Offense” stocked police departments with 3800 M-16 assault rifles, 2185 M-14’s, 73 grenade launchers, and 112 armored personnel carriers, as well as untold number of bayonets, tanks, helicopters, and even some airplanes.

Regardless who will be in power in the future, the militarization of the police will continue. After all, who wants to appear as being soft on crime? These days, a chief of police’s office is like a doctor’s office, but instead of getting swamped with drug salesmen, they have very congenial visits with the merchants of popular oppression, the salesmen of weapons, various chemical agents, Tasers, body armor, and all kinds of tracking software, surveillance gear, and anything else the department may need for crowd control and to infiltrate dissidents, which are no more than US citizens wanting to restore the republic to its rightful place.

Numerous Other Assaults on Liberty Started Prior to 9/11 As Well

Numerous other assaults on our liberty started before 9/11.

For example, the Patriot Act was planned before 9/11. Former Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke told Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig:

After 9/11 the government drew up the Patriot Act within 20 days and it was passed.

The Patriot Act is huge and I remember someone asking a Justice Department official how did they write such a large statute so quickly, and of course the answer was that it has been sitting in the drawers of the Justice Department for the last 20 years waiting for the event where they would pull it out.

(4:30 into this video).

The government’s spying on Americans also began before 9/11 (confirmed here and here. And see this). Indeed, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumseld and other government officials who held high positions in the George W. Bush administration pushed for wiretaps without approval by a judge … in the 1970s.

(And because the “temporary” crackdown on civil liberties within America is being justified by the “War on Terror”, the fact that that war was planned 20 years ago is arguably relevant. Especially since we are in a perpetual war – see this, this, this and this – and so our liberties will never be restored unless we demand it.   Take another look at the cartoon above.)

Government Targeting Grandmas … Instead of Actually Working to Reduce Terrorism

The militarization of police forces throughout the United States cannot be taken in a vacuum, but is part of the ongoing drift towards a police state. The government has said for years that American citizens on U.S. soil may be targets in the war on terror, and is using anti-terrorism laws to crush dissent.

Indeed, you can be labeled as or suspected of being a terrorist simply for questioning war, protesting anything, asking questions about pollution or about Wall Street shenanigans, supporting Ron Paul, being a libertarian, holding gold, or stocking up on more than 7 days of food. Government agencies such as FEMA are allegedly teaching that the Founding Fathers should be considered terrorists. So perhaps that means that any people who like American values are “terrorist sympathizers”.

Instead of doing the things which could actually make us safer, the Bush and Obama administrations have been harassing innocent grandmothers and other patriotic Americans (and doing things which increase the risk of terrorism).

 The Militarization of American Police   and Shredding of Our Constitutional Rights   Started At Least 30 Years AgoImage by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

Background concerning the image: Here and here

Sadly, this trend is not just limited to the U.S.

OWS: Reform or Revolution… and the Lessons from Egypt.

December 8th, 2011 by Ghada Chehade

The mass, momentum and potential of the Occupy Wall Street Movement are very exciting. As the “occupy” protests spread, we need to ask some very important questions about the movement. The main question is what is the long-term goal and aim of the movement with respect to the current politico-economic system. As this movement bravely confronts the many socio-economic and political ills of capitalism and the capitalist state, is its ultimate aim to reform and/or improve the capitalist system/capitalist state or is the goal one of all-out revolution and abolition of the system?

The debate over reform or revolution dates back to the early twentieth century. Though tactically in opposition these two positions share “a basic point of agreement: both approaches focus on the state as the vantage point from which society can be changed.” [1] Reform achieves a gradual transition to socialism through parliamentary means while revolution achieves a much more rapid transition through the taking of state power and the swift introduction of radical change by the new state. [Ibid.] It should be stressed that mine is an altogether different understanding of revolution, which sees the state as a central problem rather than the means through which populist change can occur. Thus when I speak of revolution I refer to a type of social change that seeks, among other things, to do away with the formal Sate and replace it perhaps with a type of “collective power” or shared (i.e. rotational) governance by citizens committees or collectives, to give just one possible example. [2] That said, and notwithstanding different definitions and understandings of revolution, it is important to ask whether the OWS movement is aimed at reformation/rehabilitation of the system or at overall transformation.

Because the OWS movement is so broad, spread out and ad hoc, this can be hard to discern. Those participating in the occupy protests in North America—“the other 99 %”—come from every walk of life and have myriad grievances. Participants include the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, the poor, indigenous peoples, impoverished racial and ethnic minorities, indebted university students, people opposed to imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan etc., and many other individuals. While they come from diverse backgrounds, collectively they/we can be said to represent a single class—the underclass; the “have nots.” It remains to be seen if “the other 99%” share a common long-term goal(s) and agenda and what that long-term goal(s) is. Do the majority want to completely transform the capitalist system and change it outright or do they want to reform capitalism, so that it is more humane, inclusive and generous? Are the majority of individuals participating in the “occupy” protests anti-systemic or are they upset and/or disappointed that the system failed them and let them down in a particular way (i.e. no jobs, not enough money to live, high tuition fees, etc)? If particular grievances are addressed (jobs created, tuition decreased, housing ensured), will they continue to have faith in and support the system? In other words, do they want to abolish neo-liberal capitalism (and the forms of politics and power that exist to support and perpetuate it,) or do they want greater inclusion and representation within it. These are questions worth asking and distinctions worth making.

Naming the System, Naming the Problem

One must stress that the OWS does have specific demands.  These include kicking Obama out of power and reinstating The Glass-Steagall Act (HR 1489), immediately. [3] These demands are a very good starting point, but also reflect a reformist or at the very least remedial position. While there are a plurality of issues and grievances, it is important that we never lose sight of the reality that all of these ills are symptoms of a common problem or cause— which is the current global system of economic and political power, exploitation and oppression, namely, militarized global capitalism.

Many OWS protestors are naming capitalism explicitly. Does the movement articulate the role that the US government, and all governments, plays in bolstering and facilitating this system (be it through taxes and austerity measures at home or the use of tax dollars and human resources to fund and wage imperialist wars and occupations abroad)?

In naming particular symptoms and problems, does the movement implicate the capitalist state as much as the financial sector and the banks? Any system that changes in name but retains the same structure of exploitation, oppression and impoverishment ought to be problematized and resisted in its totality. This entails resistance against more than just the symbols or symptoms of societal ills, but also naming and ousting their causes. This means that it is equally as important to “occupy” capital hill as it is to “occupy” the financial district, since the two (the economic and political power structures) act in concert and are increasingly made up of the same cabal of business and policy elites.  Indeed this has very recently begun to happen [4], with US protesters storming Congress, which is a positive sign about the direction of the movement.

With respect to the OWS movement it is my personal view that those participating in the massive numbers of street protests are performing a necessary and commendable act that is ultimately a potentially positive facilitator for much needed change.

Moreover, it is a way to open up dialogue on how to keep the momentum going, and how to channel this momentum into long-term transformation and deep systemic change. Some of the questions that arise are: can reformists and revolutionaries effectively co-exist in the same uprising? Can and/or will desires for reform evolve into a desire for revolution? Will and/or can reform eventually lead to anti-systemic revolution?

Lessons from Egypt

Inspired by the Egyptian revolution, the OWS movement(s) must be careful not to suffer the same fate as the Egyptian revolution. The populist Egyptian revolution appeared to be a success, so much so that several countries in the region followed suit. The dynamic of the ouster of Mubarak entailed a major victory and much deserved jubilation on the part of the Egyptian people. As the dust settled and the months passed, the people’s victory turned sour, as the deep rooted control structure refused to relinquish power.

With the foreign-backed military still very much in power in Egypt, and elections being carried out in the midst of resurgent popular insurrection and military violence, Egyptians have to contend with the bitter sweet possibility that while they succeeded in ousting Mubarak, his exit may have been as much a result of foreign and military coordination (i.e. placating the populace while maintaining indirect control through Tantawi and the military). With Mubarak hiding out in a fancy resort town while the military continues to brutally “rule” the people, one might reflectively and depressingly interpret his exist as being a type of forced retirement with ongoing benefits (i.e. he is still alive, is not in jail, and is not in exile).

One of the lessons the OWS must take from Egypt is that an uprising cannot be solely a reactionary mode, and cannot consist only of street movements. Behind the uprisings on the street there must be serious and on-going analysis, planning and long-term strategizing by movement members and/or revolutionaries in order to determine what comes after the popular revolt(s). In other words, there must be serious organization and planning for both the revolution as well as the post-revolutionary scenario, for as is well known, where there is revolution there is always the risk of counter-revolution. Moreover, Street-based movements alone cannot create an entirely new system and may be vulnerable to short-term success. As James Petras explains:

“It is the nature of mass street movements to fill the squares with relative ease, but also to be dispersed when the symbols of oppression are ousted.  Street-based movements lack the organization and leadership to project, let alone impose a new political or social order.  Their power is found in their ability to pressure existing elites and institutions, not to replace the state and economy.  Hence the surprising ease with which the US, Israeli and EU backed Egyptian military were able to seize power and protect the entire rentier state and economic structure while sustaining their ties with their imperial mentors” (i.e. US). [5]

It should be noted that the bulk of this article was formulated before the current Egyptian elections, which themselves are highly controversial and have been criticized internally and externally for being ill-timed and a potential means for maintaining the military/ systemic intransience.  As a result, some of the points raised here may not fully reflect the fluid situation in Egypt.

Looking Back to Go Forward

Overall, it is not enough to oust or replace the face of exploitation and oppression; we must go deeper. To do this, all popular uprisings ought to be bolstered and underpinned by some level of historically grounded socio-political, economic and geo-political analysis, and must be capable of long-term planning and “leadership” (in an informal and collaborative sense of the word). While we react and rise up against the current global crisis of exploitation and impoverishment, we need to look historically at the broader picture and ask—analytically—how did we get to this current state? What historical lessons can we drawn on to move beyond it? What are our goals and plans for an alternative? As Chomsky observed back in 1971,

“It is of critical importance that we know what impossible goals we’re trying to achieve, if we hope to achieve some of the possible goals. And that means that we have to be bold enough to speculate and create social theories on the basis of partial knowledge, while remaining very open to the strong possibility…that at least in some respects we’re very far off the mark.” [6] 

Resistance movements and uprisings require both practical, concrete resistance activities on the streets and intellectual work and planning behind the scenes. Otherwise, they may risk being stuck in a reactionary mode, and opening themselves up to possible manipulation, co-optation and/or post-revolutionary dissipation and stagnation. Revolutionary analysis (which can be guided and served by tools such as Marxist capitalist critique and political economy) helps us to historically ground our grievances and locate their source and cause.

“As Marx demonstrated, theory can have enormous power…to guide the practice of   movements, to provide people with the courage derived from seeing their struggles as historically meaningful, to offer a vision of a social alternative—an alternative made credible because it seems to flow out of the potentialities of the present.” [7]

Historically based analysis situates and connects current revolutionary struggles to what came before, and helps us “predict” and/or steer the likely outcome of our struggles. Without some level of historically grounded, theoretical (and perhaps even ideological) analysis and leadership, revolutionary movements may risk fighting the same battles over and over, with potential surface victories and cosmetic changes, which leave the historically entrenched system of power largely intact. Ultimately, long-term social transformation requires a broad and multi-faceted approach—which must include situated analysis and praxis in conjunction with historical and theoretical analysis—to understand the root of the problem and thus the optimal remedy. This approach can help us plan for the future–for the post-revolutionary scenario; and begin to formulate alternatives to the current system and develop plans and strategies for actually building these alternatives. In other words, it can lead us closer towards achieving social and systemic transformation rather than mere reformation of an inherently corrupt and unworkable system.

Ghada Chehade is an independent social and political analyst, PhD Candidate, poet, and activist living in Montreal. www.ghadachehade.com

 

Notes

[1] John Holloway. (2002). Change the World without Taking Power, p. 11.

[2] The State cannot be the vehicle of long-term change because, by its very nature, the State (regardless of whether it is capitalist or “communist” etc.) largely exists to protect (through its laws and regulations, or lack there of) the power structure—which it is a part of—and business and policy elites. While I do not have the exact answers and blueprint  for a better world, my limited impression is that it ought to be one without a formal, hierarchical, power-based State.

[3] http://www.larouchepac.com/node/19779

The Glass-Steagall Act, passed by Congress in 1933 and dismantled in 1999 during the Clinton administration, prohibited commercial banks from collaborating with full-service brokerage firms or participating in investment banking activities.

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/glass_steagall_act.asp#ixzz1fdbrdCtJ

[4] See http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/take-back-the-capitol-protesters-swarm-congressional-offices/2011/12/06/gIQAUf7maO_gallery.html

 http://www.nationofchange.org/occupy-dc-protesters-hold-mock-committee-hearing-1320942499

[5] http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/roots-of-the-arab-revolts-and-premature-celebrations/

[6] http://www.chomsky.info/debates/1971xxxx.htm

[7] Flacks, R. (2004). In R.F. Levine (Ed.), Enriching the sociological imagination: How radical sociology changed the discipline (pp. 19-36). Boston: Brill

 

 

Old bear does not dance to Western tunes

-Should a “revolution” take place, the primary target of shock will be Russia itself. The worst nightmare would be the disintegration of the Russian Federation. This is the result the West most desires to see most.

-Personal trust is the reason that facilitated the strategic relations between China and Russia. However, the foundation of these ties is built upon a mutual dream of national revival which outstripped the interests that connected the West and Russia. China wants a stable Russia. The West is on the opposite side.

Will a “Russian Spring” occur? Russian police have arrested hundreds of protestors recently. But the pro-liberal protestors claimed that they will not succumb to such moves and continue to hold protests every day. This scenario is similar to the initial phrase of the Arab Spring, where the revolutionary movement was triggered by small- scale protests. It is hard to predict the outcome of the current protest on Russia’s election scandal, but everything is possible.

Vladimir Putin’s rule will face increasing scrutiny and it will become much harder for him to withstand the challenges. However, this is not a victory for the West. Putin losing authority will not automatically gain the West influence in Russia.

The future of Russia will be shaped according to its own interests. This is the principle set by its democratic environment. Putin’s own authority came because he put the country back to track. He saved Russia from the confusion and chaos when the USSR disintegrated two decades ago.

The relation between election and a candidate’s authority is complicated. However the latest State Duma elections did not suggest that Russia’s understanding of its national interests has become obscure, as during the Yeltsin era.

Ballots lost by the United Russia are now in the pocket of the Communists and the Liberal Democrats, which does not reflect the expanding of the West’s ideology.

Russian interests are dominated by a combination of geopolitics, culture and ambition. The differences and even the hostility between the West and Russia will persist if these interests contradict each other, no matter who sits in the Kremlin.

Should a “revolution” take place, the primary target of shock will be Russia itself. The worst nightmare would be the disintegration of the Russian Federation. This is the result the West most desires to see most.

Russian society does not want to undergo this nightmare again. This concern has partly resulted from Putin’s lasting authority. The unity United Russia can bring to this country is limited, but unity under democracy is not that convincing either. The painful lessons of the past will make Russians more reluctant to give up their trust in strongman politics to its democratic peers.

Personal trust is the reason that facilitated the strategic relations between China and Russia. However, the foundation of these ties is built upon a mutual dream of national revival which outstripped the interests that connected the West and Russia. China wants a stable Russia. The West is on the opposite side.

Russia has undergone many tough challenges. The “revolutions” in the Middle-East is a cakewalk compared to the movements the former communist state experienced. The country has made several twists and turns in choosing its own path.

Russia is not similar to the countries swept by the Arab Spring. It is a unique state and will remain so.

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VIDEO: Russia Slams Clinton Over Election Criticism

December 7th, 2011 by Pepe Escobar

VIDEO: Occupation Nation: The Militarization of Police

December 7th, 2011 by Maria Portnaya

The United States and the Israeli regime have been engaged in a full-fledged undercover war against Iran, political analyst Mark Dankof has told Press TV.

“The war has actually started. It is just the question of when the wider shooting war begins,” Dankof said in an interview with Press TV.

Dankof cited the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists by Israeli-backed agents, the violation of Iranian airspace by US surveillance drones, and the new US-led economic sanctions imposed on Iran as examples of this undercover war.

He said the Mossad and the CIA have conducted these covert operations in collusion with terrorist groups such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), and Jundallah militants.

Citing essays written by M.J. Rosenberg and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Dankof said the hostile policy of Israel and the US toward Iran has little or nothing to do with Tehran’s alleged nuclear program but is meant to help the Tel Aviv regime maintain its military supremacy in the Middle East.

Describing the Israel regime as a political and economic “liability” on US taxpayers, he said the United States is being dragged into a war with Iran by the influential Zionist lobby.

On November 12, during a debate among a number of Republican presidential hopefuls, calls ranging from executing covert operations such as terrorism and assassinations to launching a military strike on Iran to subvert Tehran’s nuclear program were made.

The calls for assassinations and terrorist acts directed at Iran are not idle threats as a number of Iranian scientists have been assassinated over the past few years, including Professor Majid Shahriari and Professor Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, who were both killed in 2010.

On Nov. 4, 2011, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, announced that Tehran has irrefutable evidence that proves the US government has been involved in anti-Iran conspiracies and has dispatched elements to carry out acts of sabotage and terrorism in Iran and other regional countries.

The United States, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used the false charge as as pretext to push for the imposition of sanctions on the country and to call for an attack on the country.

Iran argues that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes.

Iranian officials have promised a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that such a measure could spark a war that would spread beyond the Middle East.

Romanian Senate Ratifies U.S. Interceptor Missile Deployment

December 7th, 2011 by Global Research

The Romanian senators, in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, approved a draft law on the ratification of the Agreement between Romania and the United States on placing the U.S. missile defence system in Romania signed on this Sept. 12 in Washington. Ninety senators cast their vote for the bill.

In the beginning of the upper Senate house plenary debates, Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi stressed the Agreement is ‘the first legal instrument fully negotiated and closed by the U.S. as part of the new concept of the ballistic missile defence’.

‘The value of the Agreement also consists in that it is for the first time the Romanian-U.S. strategic partnership is written in a legally binding bilateral document. Placing U.S. anti-missile system elements represents a very important contribution to the security of Romania, of the United States and of the entire Alliance. The Agreement text contains clear reference to the strategic partnership with the U.S., clear guarantees regarding the shield conformity to the international standards’, Baconschi said.

The minister underscored that the United States, in the Agreement Article No. 3, firmly pledges to defend Romania against a missile attack or against a threat.

‘The Agreement provisions also stipulate that Romania’s jurisdiction and sovereignty are not affected and they also stipulate the U.S. forces’ obligation to observe the Romanian laws. /…./ The legal responsibility regarding the shield rules out Romania’s responsibility for possible damages inflicted outside its territory’, he pointed out.

All the costs rest with the U.S., Baconschi added. The Senate is the decision-making house on this matter. The draft law on the ratification of the Agreement between Romania and the United States on placing the U.S. ballistic missile defence system in Romania was adopted by the Deputies’ Chamber in a 261 to 4 vote and an abstention on Nov. 15. 

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Russia’s Chief of General Staff says Moscow is being pushed into a new arms race, although it has repeatedly stressed that it does not want this.

In his speech at an annual meeting with foreign military representatives on Wednesday, General Nikolai Makarov noted that at last year’s NATO-Russia summit in Lisbon, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia could take part in Europe’s own missile defense system, but this suggestion was rejected.

Moscow then offered another option – if NATO countries wanted to build their own defense system, they could simply ensure that Russia falls outside its effective radius, and the effective radius of similar Russian weapons would then remain within the country’s borders. The second plan was also rejected, Russia’s military chief said at the Moscow meeting.

“We are ready for other options, but no one is suggesting anything. We hear nothing but empty statements that the missile defense systems in Europe are of no danger to Russia’s strategic nuclear forces,” Makarov stressed.

The general noted that a number of analysts in the US and Europe have proved that the existing components of European missile defense are already affecting Russia’s nuclear potential. He also stressed that European countries must be more active in discussing the problem. “Missile defense creation in Europe can complicate our relations. The Russian President, Defense Minister and myself, as Chief of General Staff have held talks with our colleagues in most European countries. Many of them said that we should decide this issue with the US, but we are talking about Europe. Why are they separating Europe and Russia? Who needs that? We are ready to cooperate, to build missile defense together. Why are they not answering our requests? Someone must be benefitting from this,” Makarov said.

The chief of staff also noted that his country has had to act in response to the foreign moves on missile defense. “The actions defined by the President’s statements are already being realized,” Makarov said.

“But we do not need this, and we are saying it again. Instead of trust, we are getting suspicion and mistrust in return. Europe will not benefit from this,” he added.

The Russian general also said that the assurances that the defense shield is just a remote prospect for 2018 – 2020 do not stand up to criticism. “We see at what rate the missile defense is being introduced in Europe and we see that the directions are different – not against the Southern threat, as it had been declared. It puts us on alert. Naturally, we must take measures now and not in 2018 in order not to find ourselves in a losing situation,” General Makarov said.

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Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?

December 7th, 2011 by Patrick J. Buchanan

On Dec. 8, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt took the rostrum before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war on Japan.

A day earlier, at dawn, carrier-based Japanese aircraft had launched a sneak attack devastating the U.S. battle fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Said ex-President Herbert Hoover, Republican statesman of the day, “We have only one job to do now, and that is to defeat Japan.”

But to friends, “the Chief” sent another message: “You and I know that this continuous putting pins in rattlesnakes finally got this country bit.”

Today, 70 years after Pearl Harbor, a remarkable secret history, written from 1943 to 1963, has come to light. It is Hoover’s explanation of what happened before, during and after the world war that may prove yet the death knell of the West.

Edited by historian George Nash, Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath is a searing indictment of FDR and the men around him as politicians who lied prodigiously about their desire to keep America out of war, even as they took one deliberate step after another to take us into war.

Yet the book is no polemic. The 50-page run-up to the war in the Pacific uses memoirs and documents from all sides to prove Hoover’s indictment. And perhaps the best way to show the power of this book is the way Hoover does it — chronologically, painstakingly, week by week.

Consider Japan’s situation in the summer of 1941. Bogged down in a four-year war in China she could neither win nor end, having moved into French Indochina, Japan saw herself as near the end of her tether.

Inside the government was a powerful faction led by Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye that desperately did not want a war with the United States.

The “pro-Anglo-Saxon” camp included the navy, whose officers had fought alongside the U.S. and Royal navies in World War I, while the war party was centered on the army, Gen. Hideki Tojo and Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, a bitter anti-American.

On July 18, 1941, Konoye ousted Matsuoka, replacing him with the “pro-Anglo-Saxon” Adm. Teijiro Toyoda.

The U.S. response: On July 25, we froze all Japanese assets in the United States, ending all exports and imports, and denying Japan the oil upon which the nation and empire depended.

Stunned, Konoye still pursued his peace policy by winning secret support from the navy and army to meet FDR on the U.S. side of the Pacific to hear and respond to U.S. demands.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph Grew implored Washington not to ignore Konoye’s offer, that the prince had convinced him an agreement could be reached on Japanese withdrawal from Indochina and South and Central China. Out of fear of Mao’s armies and Stalin’s Russia, Tokyo wanted to hold a buffer in North China.

On Aug. 28, Japan’s ambassador in Washington presented FDR a personal letter from Konoye imploring him to meet.

Tokyo begged us to keep Konoye’s offer secret, as the revelation of a Japanese prime minister’s offering to cross the Pacific to talk to an American president could imperil his government.

On Sept. 3, the Konoye letter was leaked to the Herald-Tribune.

On Sept. 6, Konoye met again at a three-hour dinner with Grew to tell him Japan now agreed with the four principles the Americans were demanding as the basis for peace. No response.

On Sept. 29, Grew sent what Hoover describes as a “prayer” to the president not to let this chance for peace pass by.

On Sept. 30, Grew wrote Washington, “Konoye’s warship is ready waiting to take him to Honolulu, Alaska, or anyplace designated by the president.”

No response. On Oct. 16, Konoye’s cabinet fell.

In November, the U.S. intercepted two new offers from Tokyo: a Plan A for an end to the China war and occupation of Indochina and, if that were rejected, a Plan B, a modus vivendi where neither side would make any new move. When presented, these, too, were rejected out of hand.

At a Nov. 25 meeting of FDR’s war council, Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s notes speak of the prevailing consensus: “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into … firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”

“We can wipe the Japanese off the map in three months,” wrote Navy Secretary Frank Knox.

As Grew had predicted, Japan, a “hara-kiri nation,” proved more likely to fling herself into national suicide for honor than to allow herself to be humiliated

Out of the war that arose from the refusal to meet Prince Konoye came scores of thousands of U.S. dead, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the fall of China to Mao Zedong, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the rise of a new arrogant China that shows little respect for the great superpower of yesterday.

If you would know the history that made our world, spend a week with Mr. Hoover’s book.  

President of Côte d’Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo who had been displaced  as a result of the French intervention appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague on December 5. With several other country leaders already facing ICC charges, the fresh case could fit into a steady trend apart from a significant circumstance – unprecedentedly, Gbagbo was taken into custody based on a secret indictment. In contrast, indictments were released prior to all previous ICC probes. It became known recently that an arrest warrant for Gbagbo had been issued already on November 23, but the ousted president of Côte d’Ivoire was extradited to the Hague only on November 30 despite having been held in his home country for over nine months. 

Gbagbo faced the ICC pre-trial chamber headed by Argentinian judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi. The panel also includes Elizabeth Odio Benito from Costa Rica, the country’s former vice president who also served as a judge with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and Adrian Fulford from Great Britain. Asked about his living conditions in custody, Gbagbo replied that the conditions were decent but stressed that the circumstances of his arrest had been abnormal. He said he was seized under fire from French tanks, with the shellings continuing for weeks, a death toll rising, and the presidential palace being left in ruins. Gbagbo also mentioned witnessing how his government’s minister of the interior was killed. Gbagbo’s account of his transfer to the Hague similarly highlighted the legal irregularities abundantly present in  the case.

According to the arrest warrant, Gbagbo is charged with  crimes against humanity – murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other inhuman acts – related to the conflict which erupted in Côte d’Ivoire in the wake of the disputed November, 2010 elections. The charges do not imply that the crimes were personally perpetrated by Gbagbo – the responsibility for them is supposed to lie with his defense and security forces along with pro-presidential youth militias and mercenaries who operated across Côte d’Ivoire1.

The arguments submitted by the ICC prosecutor to the pre-trial chamber as the motivation behind the inquiry actually show what level of objectivity can be expected in future. His description of the developments in Côte d’Ivoire reads: “On 2 December, the Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission announced the provisional results of the second round of the presidential elections, declaring that Alassane Ouattara had garnered 54.1 per cent of the votes, and Laurent Gbagbo 45.9 per cent. Later that day, the President of the Constitutional Council, overturned the decision of the Independent Electoral Commission and declared Gbagbo victorious. Soon after, the two candidates simultaneously declared themselves President of Côte d’Ivoire. Ouattara was quickly backed by the international community as the sole legitimate president…Despite the repeated and sustained mediation efforts of the international community, Laurent Gbagbo refused to relinquish power. On 11 April, following military operations conducted by forces loyal to President Alassane Ouattara, backed by UNOCI and French Licorne troops, Laurent Gbagbo was arrested and placed in the custody of President Ouattara’s Government”2. The prosecution thus deceives the Court into believing that Ouattara was the country’s legitimate president. The key point here is not even that, judging by the text, the international community’s backing appears to be among the criteria of legitimacy of a claim to presidency. The prosecutor obviously equates the verdict of the Independent Electoral Commission in favor of a presidential candidate to the legitimacy of his presidency, though in fact the constitution of Côte d’Ivoire gives the constitutional council, not the electoral commission, the authority to rule who won the race if the elections outcome is called into question. In other words, the prosecutor chose to conceal from the court the information that should cast a different light on the legal aspect of the events in Côte d’Ivoire and on the status of the accused. It has to be realized that Gbagbo, not Ouattara, is the legitimate president of Côte d’Ivoire according to the country’s constitution.

Interestingly, Côte d’Ivoire recognized the ICC jurisdiction under Gbagbo when, on April 18, 2003, the country’s foreign minister signed a declaration pledging full cooperation with the court. Gbagbo’s administration made a huge mistake in the process by allowing the jurisdiction to apply to unspecified crimes and without any kind of a time framework: the declaration simply said the country would cooperate in investigating crimes committed on the territory of Côte d’Ivoire after September 19, 20023. Côte d’Ivoire became dependent on the ICC as a result of the recognition granted on such loosely defined terms as it gave the Court unlimited freedom to decide whom and over what to to put on trial. For seven years – from 2003 till 2011 – the ICC stayed indifferent to the situation within its expanded jurisdiction to carry out a snap investigation in a matter of weeks when Côte d’Ivoire’s legitimate president was forcibly removed and an IMF protégé – installed. 

The countries recently enthusiastic about international justice – especially the African countries which naively expected justice from “the white people’s Court” and rushed to ratify  and enact the ICC statute – will likely draw a serious lesson from the Gbagbo case…

Notes

1. Warrant Of Arrest For Laurent Koudou Gbagbo //  www.icc-cpi.int.

2. Situation in the Republic of Cote-d’Ivoire. Request for Authorization of an Investigation Pursuant to Article 15, 23 June 2011,  //  www.icc-cpi.int.

3. Declaration de reconnaissance de la competence de la Cour Penale Internationale. Republique de Cote d’Ivoire, //  www.icc-cpi.int.

 

 

The Baltic states have discovered a new way to cut unemployment and cut budgets for social services: emigration. If enough people of working age are forced to leave to find work abroad, unemployment and social service budgets will both drop.

This simple mathematics explains what the algebra of austerity-plan advocates are applauding today as the “New Baltic Miracle” for Greece, Spain, and Italy to emulate.  The reality, however, is a model predicated on economic shrinkage as a result of wage cuts. In the case of Latvia, this was some 30 percent for Latvian public-sector employees (euphemized as “internal devaluation”). With a set of flat taxes on employment adding up to 59% in Latvia (while property taxes are only 1%), it would seem hard indeed to present this as a success story.

But one hears only celebratory praise from the neoliberal lobbyists whose policies have de-industrialized and stripped the Baltic economies of Lithuania and Latvia, leaving them debt-ridden and uncompetitive. It is as if their real estate collapse from bubble-level debt leveraging that left their basic infrastructure in the hands of kleptocrats, is a free market success story.

What then does a neoliberal “free market” mean?

After a half-century struggle for independence, the Balts emerged in a world where neoliberal policies were the global fashion, and where the dress code and face control were initially enforced by the world’s international financial institutions–and later even more aggressively internalized by Baltic policymakers themselves.  Twenty years of neoliberal policy after emerging from Soviet rule have left the Baltics a mess.  On the lead up to the 2008 global economic crisis and the world’s biggest collapses the financial press was praising the Baltic Tigers for dutifully imposing rule by bankers.

Now, after the storm has quieted in the Baltics, Anders Aslund and other apologists are at it again as they promote the Baltic model.  Aslund did so most recently with his Petersen Institute banking industry funded book on Latvia’s “remarkable” rebound.   The only thing he failed to mention was that Latvians were voting with their feet in record numbers.  Latvians were exiting at a rate of roughly 1% of the population per month in an exodus of Biblical proportions. Indeed, Latvian’s census makers were horrified when they discovered that that the country’s population had decreased from 2.3 to 1.9 million people from 2001-2011.

The situation was close or even worse in neighboring Lithuania where a massive outward migration triggered by the start of global economic recession and collapse of the housing bubble in 2008 now threatens the future viability of this nation state. As the economic crisis intensified, unemployment grew from a relatively low level of 4.1% in 2007 to 18.3% in the second quarter of 2010 with a concomitant increase in emigration from 26,600 in 2007 to 83,200 in 2010. This was the highest level of emigration since 1945 and comparable only with the extensive the depopulation of the country during World War II. Since the restoration of independence in 1990, out of a population of some 3.7 million 615,000 had left the country; three fourths were young persons (up to 35 years old), many of them educated and with jobs in Lithuania. By 2008, the emigration rate from Lithuania became the highest among the EU countries (2.3 per 1,000), and double that of the next highest country, Latvia (1.1 per 1,000).

Forecasts for the period 2008-35 suggest a demographic decline by a further 10.9%, one of the highest rates in the EU (following Bulgaria and Latvia). The 2011 population census seemed only to confirm these grim prognostications. Demographers previously proved to have been too optimistic in their forecasts (the latest issued in 2010) and had overestimated the size of the Lithuanian population by about 200,000. Instead of the forecasted 3.24 million, the census found that by 2011 Lithuania’s population was only just over 3 million (3.054 ml)

These grim numbers suggest a kind of euthanizing taking place of the small Baltic nations.  This, ironically, after having survived two World Wars, two occupations, and several economic collapses in the 20th century.  Indeed, at the end of the Soviet occupation, Latvians and Lithuanians were replacing themselves through natural reproduction.  By contrast, today, the twin forces of emigration and low births have conspired to create a demographic disaster.

Enter Anders Aslund again, desperately seeking to resuscitate his reputation after the disastrous failures ensuing from his policy advice in the 1990s in the former USSR.  Just this week on Monday, Aslund rhapsodized about the success of Lithuania’s harsh austerity regime in the EUObserver.  His article had both the upbeat tone of Joseph Stalin’s famous “dizzy with success” speech, while simultaneously reciting a droll set of statistics of a kind of “Five Year Plan achieved in Four” report proving that the economy and country are in better shape than ever.

Let’s look at his most important argument by his own word: that of Lithuania’s “impressive” economic rebound and its high World Bank ease of doing business index rating.  Aslund reports that through harsh medicine and free-markets this Baltic Tiger is back.  Whether by ignorance or intention, let’s assume the former, Aslund gets the facts wrong.  He rightly explains that this Baltic Tiger’s economy crashed by a whopping 14.7% in 2009 (although failing to mention further contractions in 2008 and 2010 on top of that).  But, he asserts that this year’s current annualized growth rate is some 6.6%, thus suggesting this neoliberal country is not on the road to economic perdition. This might sound impressive to some, but Aslund ignores that just last week the massive Lithuanian Snoras bank just presented Lithuania (and Latvia) with an exploding cigar that will wipe out most of Lithuania’s economic growth for this year. Furthermore, even if there was a resumption economic growth, IMF estimates that its rates will remain sluggish at best indicating that probably a decade or more will be needed to return to pre-recession levels of economic activity. Thus, according to IMF projections by 2015 Lithuanian GDP as measured in $US was projected to remain 12% less (as measured in current prices) than in 2008, with unemployment at 8.5%

Finally, we need to contrast anemic IMF economic growth forecast for the next 6-8 years with disastrous social consequences of internal devaluation policies. Consider that Lithuania almost tripled its level of unemployment in Lithuania from 5.8% in 2008 to 17.8% in 2010. Although by 2011 unemployment began to decline to 15.6%, this happened not as much because of creation of new jobs, but because of mass outmigration from Lithuania. Public sector wages were cut by 20-30% and pensions by 11 percent, which in combination with growing unemployment let to dramatic increasing in poverty. If in 2008 there were 420 thousand or 12.7% of population living in poverty, by 2009 poverty rate increased to 20.6%. Although by 2010 there was a .4% decrease in the number of poor to 670 thousand, the decrease was caused mostly by downward change in measuring the poverty. Various measures of quality of life and well-being deteriorated even further indicating prevalence of deep pessimism, loss of social solidarity, trust, and atomization of a society.

The extremely high social and demographic costs of such policies put the very future of sustainable economic growth in the region into question. Investments in education, infrastructure, and public services that are preconditions of the “high,” knowledge-based and higher productivity based economic development were slashed, while brain drain intensified. Although Prime Minister Kubilius was promoting his administration’s economic development strategy based on knowledge and innovations, the very austerity measures implemented by his government were relegating to Lithuania to the “low road” of economic development based on low standards in salaries and labor conditions.

The mood on the ground is sour as well.  Lithuanians have emigrated in massive numbers and like their Baltic brethren in Latvia, this has mostly been from people of talent, education, and of childbearing age.  Indeed, like Latvia, Lithuania’s latest census shows a hemorrhaging of people out of the country.  A kind of gallows humor prevails on the ground too.  Recently, a Lithuanian couple in Vilnius reported to the authors: Husband to wife, “we should go back to Norway to work in the canneries.  There, you could leave a thousand euros on the ground, return in a year, and it would be still there.”   Wife, “nah, no way, too many Lithuanians there.”  Their humor is intact, but their sense of desperation grows.

These people deserve better than to have another failed ideology imposed on them.  Let’s hope they and others liberate themselves from the experiments of ideologues and stop being pawns in their game.  To the rest of Europe, we counsel caution.  Joseph Stalin’s maxim, “no people, no problem” is no way to solve an economic crisis.  Euthanizing larger nations in southern Europe through large-scale emigration would be as undesirable as it is impossible to achieve.  Where would the people go?

 

Jeffrey Sommers is an associate professor of political economy in Africology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and visiting faculty at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.  He publishes regularly in outlets such as Counterpunch and the Guardian, and routinely appears as an expert guest in global news programs, most recently on Peter Lavelle’s CrossTalk.  He can be reached at: [email protected].

Dr. Arunas Juska is an Associate professor of sociology at East Carolina University, USA. He specializes and writes extensively on the Baltic region, with especial focus on rural development as well as policing in Lithuania.  He can be reached at: [email protected]

Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist. A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.  He can be reached via his website, [email protected]

The European Debt Crisis: Unstable Currency Markets.

December 7th, 2011 by Bob Chapman

Even the middle of the road journalists are beginning to question Europe’s elected and appointed leadership. This past Monday the plan for the euro zone was laid out for a final capitulation to world government. The financial crisis has been handled from behind the scenes by the Fed, so that Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and France’s President can concentrate on more important matters, namely the final federalization of the euro zone to be followed by the entrapment of the remainder of the European Union.

The calls for major changes to the current treaties have little to do with the debt crisis. What these two emissaries of the world elitists are up to is to tear down the legal strength of monetary and political union of this unnatural association, and replace it with a stricter budgetary discipline known as the ESM, the European Stabilization Mechanism, this ostensibly to support countries in difficulty. Within this major change is a complete shift away from the original Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties, which is being done without the consent of the public in these countries. There is one exception to that in the case of Germany that must approve the changes.

On the 9th the final proposals will be laid out and agreed upon by various heads of state, some elected and some appointed. This “leadership” could care less what the people of these countries think. There are no trappings of democracy here, just the iron fist of Illuminist world ambitions. Any thinking, sophisticated person has to look on in disbelief at what is about to take place.

The plan is to have a committee of 8, assisted by 17 immunized finance ministers control the budgeting and fiscal policies of these 17 nations, which strips them of their sovereignty.

We read writer after writer and they do not have a clue as to what is being done to the people of these nations. They don’t know these appointments are all members of the Trilateral Commission, Bilderbergers and former Goldman Sachs employees. If they do know they are ignoring its significance. This is where Messrs. Draghi, Monti and Papademos all came from appointed to take the euro zone and eventually the EU into world government.

We have studied these characters for more than 50 years and we know exactly what they are up too. It is the job of these 3 Sherpas to continue to advertise the increased risk to financial and economic conditions, if such treaty changes are not made. This is a charade to mislead and misdirect the people offering them the only way out. Unfortunately, as far as we know, our voice is the only one being heard in exposing the real intent of what is being pulled off. There is no question that there is an economic and financial debt crisis, but these treaty changes have little to do with that. Their key phrase is price stability when real EU inflation is running more than 7%.

Since July the ECB has refused to expand money and credit. A month ago control passed from the hands of Trichet to Draghi, who immediately lowered interest rates, which we predicted he would do – no one else made such a call. The ECB still hasn’t printed euros, but the Fed is going so in its stead. The ECB is buying Italian and Spanish bonds, but only about $20 billions worth. The ECB, known to few, has been sterilizing its sovereign debt buying by draining an equivalent amount of euros from the banking system. This is the antithesis what central banks do. The Trichet ECB wanted their actions not to create inflation. This is why inflation has held so well in Europe. That is all about to change as the FED takes over. The funds to purchase bonds and supply liquidity will be available to jump start Europe as inflation climbs.

All of the players knew austerity plans play well and eventually work to tear down an economy, but short term they are a loser. The only thing that works is more and more money and credit. Who wants to stop economic growth. Up until Draghi took over the euro has not been wantonly destroyed. Just be patient Draghi will end all that.

We know it’s hard to believe, but debt is not taken seriously. Many things today were similar to 19th century England, where government workers, attorneys, politicians and moneyed people made six times more that a skilled worker. That should sound familiar in today’s economy. In those days those who did not pay went to debtor’s prison, or worked off their debt. Today, few care about debt; it is usually just discharged. We mention this because since WWII the whole attitude regarding debt has changed. Accumulate it and simply walk away from it. This has become the attitude of nations, companies and individuals.

The call comes each day for the ECB to lend to sovereign states when in fact those who request these loans know under Article 101, that the ECB is prohibited from lending to any government.

We now have 5 and perhaps 6 nations that cannot service their debt and the ECB cannot legally lend to them. During the past two years, with the exception of bond purchases, which had been off set by the purchase of euros, Mr. Trichet had refused to break the rules. He is gone now and the Federal Reserve has filled the ECB’s place. It had to happen sooner or later. That is the Fed becoming banker officially to the world. The process really began more than three years ago, as we have been in the process of finding out just what the Fed was up too. They were responsible for the disbursement of trillions of dollars, which they withheld from the public. That is exactly what America needs, a privately owned central bank, that operates in secret and when asked what it is doing we are told it is a state secret.

These insolvent sovereigns are now paying yields over 7% on 10-year bonds and we know that kind of debt is unpayable, and it is a sure sign they’ll eventually default. In order to extend the time line the Fed has become the lender of last resort, and that bill will be paid for by dollar holders, as the value of their dollars depreciates in value.

The object, as we are seeing, is the repudiation of the EU treaty, for rules allowing the ECB to create money and credit out of thin air, and act like the Fed and other central banks. Illuminist Mario Draghi will do his best to see that this happens. Of course, thrown in for good measure will be the stripping of sovereignty from the 17-euro zone members.

These solutions will negatively affect both the euro and the US dollar, both for now the best of the worst. The migration, the flight to quality, will of course lead to gold and silver, as it has been over the past 12 years, as we predicted it would. Gold is the only viable alternative from a monetary viewpoint, and it will continue to be so. In spite of US government intervention, and manipulation of many markets, including silver and gold, they relentlessly increase in value, because they are the only real money. Every time they knock gold and silver down all they do is give buyers the opportunity to buy more at artificially reduced prices. We have news for the elitist what they are doing is not going to work, and they know that, but we also know it as well. We know that almost all costs to sovereign nations today are debt services, and Italy is a good example. Who wouldn’t want to dump currencies for real money – gold and silver.

Direct monetization does not solve the problem; it just extends the time line. You cannot solve debt by adding more debt. The problem is always liquidity, when in fact the problem is systemic insolvency. No matter how much money is thrown at the problem it is not going to work. The Fed is not cooperating with foreign central banks to undertake liquidity swaps. The other foreign banks are just a cover; the Fed is doing all the swaps. The other foreign banks are just a cover the Fed is doing all the swaps. Why do you think Treasury Secretary Geithner will be in Europe this week to explain to leaders how the Fed will run the show and all they will have to do is implement budget cuts and increase taxes, and to concentrate as well on relieving 17 countries of their sovereignty If anyone ever needed an execute to audit the Fed fully this is it. This is 2008 all over again; only this time it is foreign governments that are the focus of attention. The Fed will proceed to create trillions of dollars, which in turn will create higher inflation to go along with that, which is already in the pipeline. Any semblance of sound money is history. One thing is for sure today’s central banking and Keynesian corporate policies are failures.

As a gauge of currency strength the US dollar index, USDX, loses status each day. All it shows you on any given day, which major currency is the best of the worst. The only true measure can be the value of each currency vs. gold and silver.

The squeeze in lending is not as bad as in 20008, but banks are reluctant to lend to one another. This tells us that banks are very skeptical that the latest swap arrangements will work. Bankers understand higher taxes and austerity underlie recession and falling tax revenue, which translate into inability to service debt. What is almost never mentioned is political challenges to sitting heads of government, both elected and appointed. Thus far no congress has balked. If they should, say in Germany, that would throw all the elitist plans upside down. It should be noted that 65% of Germans are opposed to what has been taking place under their government.

The bottom line for Europe is they have not chosen selective default, allowing the weak members to phase out of the euro zone. They really cannot allow that because if they do the euro zone would begin to break apart. Unfortunately, for them it is going to happen anyway.  

The latest bailout by the Fed of European banking interests smacks of moral hazard, but do not be concerned the elitist could care less. Of course, the European elitist answer to the ESM, which has little to do with solving the insolvency crisis and lots to do about removing the sovereignty of euro zone countries and eventually that of all 27 EU members. Do not forget the original Maastricht Treaty had a maximum of public debt of 3% of GDP. If you exceeded that you were to be fined. No one was ever fined and these countries all went over the limit. Why are we to believe that it will be any better this time?

At least for the moment selective default is off the table since the Fed is now really running the show. Although we believe they know Greece’s exit from the euro is inevitable. That will make it easier for Portugal and Ireland to exit as well. That should begin in March. Now the Fed will again inflate Europe into an extended time line. The elitists believe they can balance the problem of imbalance by allowing the strong countries to subsidize the weak indefinitely via the European Stability Mechanism.

The revelation that a US unmanned drone aircraft downed in eastern Iran was on a CIA secret surveillance operation raises troubling questions about the immediacy of Washington’s war plans on the Islamic Republic.

Initial reports of the lost drone at the weekend quoted US military officials claiming that the aircraft had strayed into Iranian territory while on a routine manoeuvre over Afghanistan as part of NATO’s occupation in that country.

However, now it emerges that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is a sophisticated surveillance model operated by the CIA, according to the Washington Post. Iran claims that its forces shot down the drone, and is now in its possession.

The CIA has declined to comment on why the RQ-170 Sentinel was in Iranian airspace. But the aircraft is known to possess state of the art surveillance equipment and is designed to evade radar detection. It is understand that this model of spy drone is used for “highly sensitive operations”.

It appears that the drone was deliberately being flown over Iranian territory and was not the usual type of spy plane that is used by NATO in neighbouring Afghanistan, nor was it simply off course by accident.

As the Washington Post reports: “The disclosure that the drone apparently recovered by Iran was being flown by the CIA comes after previous signals from US officials that had created the impression that the plane was being flown by the US military on a more mundane mission over Afghanistan and had simply strayed into Iranian territory.”

The newspaper adds: “The RQ-170 has special coatings and a batwing shape designed to help it penetrate other nations’ air defences undetected. The existence of the aircraft, which is made by Lockheed Martin, has been known since 2009, when a model was photographed at the main US airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan.”

Clearly, the use of such advanced technology in Iranian airspace indicates a more than usual sinister purpose.

The disturbing implication is that such an infringement by US military of Iranian territory is tantamount to an act of war. It has to be placed in the context of months of ratcheting-up of war rhetoric from the Obama administration towards Iran, repeatedly asserting that all “options are on the table” in confronting the Islamic Republic over its alleged nuclear weapons programme. It is understood that this is a thinly veiled threat by the US and its Western allies to use pre-emptive military strikes against Iran. Israeli politicians have talked openly in recent months about pre-emptive air strikes against Iranian targets.

The belligerent rhetoric has accompanied equally aggressive moves by the US and Europe to choke Iran diplomatically, financially and economically – the latest move seeing Washington pressurising South Korea to cancel energy contracts with Iran. The stepping-up of sanctions by Britain against Iranian financial institutions and the subsequent diplomatic row over attacks by Iranian students on the British embassy in Tehran are also apiece with the building pretext for war.

Furthermore, the latest CIA drone infringement follows a spate of sabotage attacks on Iranian installations, including an explosion at a military base near Tehran on 12 November in which one of Iran’s top missile experts was killed. The involvement of Israel’s Mossad has been implicated in assassinations and kidnappings of other Iranian scientists. The US and Israel are also known to have carried out cyber attacks on Iranian military facilities over the past year.

The assiduous Western campaign to isolate and weaken Syria – Iran’s key ally in the region – can also be seen as an integral part of the long-held plans for an all-out military strike on Iran.

Despite the West’s best efforts to strangulate Iran, the country is believed to have developed formidable anti-aircraft and anti-missile defences. The CIA drone incursion into Iranian territory suggests that preparations are well underway to destroy such defences in advance of concerted air strikes against the Islamic Republic.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa correspondent

[email protected]

-[Major Gil, deputy commander of the 200th Squadron] declined to comment on the unconfirmed reports that Israel also deploys missile-launching drones and kamikaze craft that explode upon impact. But independent experts said Israel has used such hardware on numerous occasions, including for striking targets far beyond its borders.

Israel, a powerhouse of UAV technology, has already sold drones to some 30 militaries worldwide, many of whom dot the skies over Afghanistan, Iraq and other U.S.-led operational theaters.
-Three weeks ago, a huge explosion that destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran was attributed to a weapon possibly fired from a drone loitering overhead. Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials said the incident, in which the chief of Iran’s missile program was killed, was a major setback for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

PALMACHIM AIR BASE, Israel: In an unusual move, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Monday invited media for a briefing on its secret drone program, allowing a rare glimpse of one squadron that deploys some of the most sophisticated surveillance technology available.

The tour of the seaside air base, south of Tel Aviv, comes against the backdrop of local media reports in recent weeks that Israel is poised to strike Iran’s nuclear sites.

Major Gil, deputy commander of the 200th Squadron, flatly declined to discuss Iran specifically.

“All I can say is that we can get anywhere we want and need to, ” he told reporters who assembled at the squadron’s headquarters.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, officially entered service with the IAF in 1971, making Israel’s military the world’s first operator of pilotless aircraft for gathering real-time battlefield intelligence.

Since then, the IAF’s drones, all of them locally produced, have evolved into a refined fleet of long-range surveillance platforms that are ever-present in the skies over Israel’s borders.

Though outfitted with sophisticated hardware ranging from smart bombs to satellites, the Israeli military presently relies on no technology more heavily than the drones of the 200th Squadron.

Gil said that drones have been shouldering the bulk of the IAF’s reconnaissance missions over the past decade, logging more flight hours annually than all of its manned aircraft combined.

The 200th Squadron’s pilots, whose full names cannot be divulged due to censorship regulations, would only provide scarce details of the craft they guide from innocuous, windowless, metal sheds. The operators fly the Heron 1, a drone with a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet that can stay airborne for up to 45 hours. Another squadron based here operates the Hermes 450, a medium- altitude aircraft.

Last February, the IAF inaugurated its flagship drone, the Heron TP II. Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, the all- weather TP II can reach 45,000 feet high, carry a maximum payload of 1 ton, and remain aloft for 36 hours.

The number of IAF drone squadrons, the range of the aircraft and most other technical specifics are closely guarded secrets.

If Israel were to attack Iran’s suspected nuclear facilities, the drones at Palmachim, some of whom are said to be equipped with stealth technology, would be sent well ahead of bomber pilots, transmitting back images of the designated target areas, and would subsequently assess the damage caused by the strike.

While such plans are still confined to the drawing board, remotely controlled drone aircraft are heavily used by the Israeli army in daily operations.

Gil said that his drones’ main mission is to provide support to ground troops by relaying bird’s-eye views of a combat zone to field commanders.

Mission specialists said there is no ground encounter without a UAV flying overhead. Gil also briefly described how drones often “paint” targets for strikes by manned aircraft.

In the 2006 Lebanon war, for instance, UAVs flying from Palmachim scoured the ravines and villages in southern Lebanon, constituting a critical element in the IAF’s efforts to destroy Hezbollah’s rocket launchers and to evacuate injured troops.

Outfitted with cameras that can transmit high-resolution images in total darkness, drones have also proved indispensable in the Israeli military’s operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in recent years. They are regularly tasked with overflying the coastal territory to hunt for rocket and mortar launchers and lead helicopter gunships to the locations of hidden arms caches, and they are also reportedly involved in the periodic targeted killings of militants.

Like all the drone operators here, many of whom began their military service in the IAF’s prestigious flight academy, Gil wears flight overalls with sewed-on squadron patches.

He declined to comment on the unconfirmed reports that Israel also deploys missile-launching drones and kamikaze craft that explode upon impact. But independent experts said Israel has used such hardware on numerous occasions, including for striking targets far beyond its borders.

Israel, a powerhouse of UAV technology, has already sold drones to some 30 militaries worldwide, many of whom dot the skies over Afghanistan, Iraq and other U.S.-led operational theaters.

On Sunday, Iran claimed to have shot down an advanced American RQ-170 spy drone in an eastern province…

Three weeks ago, a huge explosion that destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran was attributed to a weapon possibly fired from a drone loitering overhead. Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials said the incident, in which the chief of Iran’s missile program was killed, was a major setback for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Iran’s state-run media dismissed the reports of suspected sabotage, declaring the explosion an accident.

While drone pilots are spared the dangers of a real battlefield, their workload remains among the heaviest in the IAF. Gil said the fact is unlikely to change in the near future.

“I can’t tell you how many drones we operate, but I can say that we don’t have enough of them,” he said.

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A New Cold War in Asia? Obama Threatens China

December 7th, 2011 by Michael Klare

When it comes to China policy, is the Obama administration leaping from the frying pan directly into the fire?  In an attempt to turn the page on two disastrous wars in the Greater Middle East, it may have just launched a new Cold War in Asia — once again, viewing oil as the key to global supremacy.

The new policy was signaled by President Obama himself on November 17th in an address to the Australian Parliament in which he laid out an audacious — and extremely dangerous — geopolitical vision.  Instead of focusing on the Greater Middle East, as has been the case for the last decade, the United States will now concentrate its power in Asia and the Pacific.  “My guidance is clear,” he declared in Canberra.  “As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.”  While administration officials insist that this new policy is not aimed specifically at China, the implication is clear enough: from now on, the primary focus of American military strategy will not be counterterrorism, but the containment of that economically booming land — at whatever risk or cost.

The Planet’s New Center of Gravity

The new emphasis on Asia and the containment of China is necessary, top officials insist, because the Asia-Pacific region now constitutes the “center of gravity” of world economic activity.  While the United States was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the argument goes, China had the leeway to expand its influence in the region.  For the first time since the end of World War II, Washington is no longer the dominant economic actor there.  If the United States is to retain its title as the world’s paramount power, it must, this thinking goes, restore its primacy in the region and roll back Chinese influence.  In the coming decades, no foreign policy task will, it is claimed, be more important than this.

In line with its new strategy, the administration has undertaken a number of moves intended to bolster American power in Asia, and so put China on the defensive.  These include a decision to deploy an initial 250 U.S. Marines — someday to be upped to 2,500 — to an Australian air base in Darwin on that country’s north coast, and the adoption on November 18th of “the Manila Declaration,” a pledge of closer U.S. military ties with the Philippines.

At the same time, the White House announced the sale of 24 F-16 fighter jets to Indonesia and a visit by Hillary Clinton to isolated Burma, long a Chinese ally — the first there by a secretary of state in 56 years.  Clinton has also spoken of increased diplomatic and military ties with Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam — all countries surrounding China or overlooking key trade routes that China relies on for importing raw materials and exporting manufactured goods.

As portrayed by administration officials, such moves are intended to maximize America’s advantages in the diplomatic and military realm at a time when China dominates the economic realm regionally.  In a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine, Clinton revealingly suggested that an economically weakened United States can no longer hope to prevail in multiple regions simultaneously.  It must choose its battlefields carefully and deploy its limited assets — most of them of a military nature — to maximum advantage.  Given Asia’s strategic centrality to global power, this means concentrating resources there.

“Over the last 10 years,” she writes, “we have allocated immense resources to [Iraq and Afghanistan].  In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership [and] secure our interests… One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Such thinking, with its distinctly military focus, appears dangerously provocative.  The steps announced entail an increased military presence in waters bordering China and enhanced military ties with that country’s neighbors — moves certain to arouse alarm in Beijing and strengthen the hand of those in the ruling circle (especially in the Chinese military leadership) who favor a more activist, militarized response to U.S. incursions.  Whatever forms that takes, one thing is certain: the leadership of the globe’s number two economic power is not going to let itself appear weak and indecisive in the face of an American buildup on the periphery of its country.  This, in turn, means that we may be sowing the seeds of a new Cold War in Asia in 2011.

The U.S. military buildup and the potential for a powerful Chinese counter-thrust have already been the subject of discussion in the American and Asian press.  But one crucial dimension of this incipient struggle has received no attention at all: the degree to which Washington’s sudden moves have been dictated by a fresh analysis of the global energy equation, revealing (as the Obama administration sees it) increased vulnerabilities for the Chinese side and new advantages for Washington.

The New Energy Equation

For decades, the United States has been heavily dependent on imported oil, much of it obtained from the Middle East and Africa, while China was largely self-sufficient in oil output.  In 2001, the United States consumed 19.6 million barrels of oil per day, while producing only nine million barrels itself.  The dependency on foreign suppliers for that 10.6 million-barrel shortfall proved a source of enormous concern for Washington policymakers.  They responded by forging ever closer, more militarized ties with Middle Eastern oil producers and going to war on occasion to ensure the safety of U.S. supply lines.

In 2001, China, on the other hand, consumed only five million barrels per day and so, with a domestic output of 3.3 million barrels, needed to import only 1.7 million barrels.  Those cold, hard numbers made its leadership far less concerned about the reliability of the country’s major overseas providers — and so it did not need to duplicate the same sort of foreign policy entanglements that Washington had long been involved in.

Now, so the Obama administration has concluded, the tables are beginning to turn.  As a result of China’s booming economy and the emergence of a sizeable and growing middle class (many of whom have already bought their first cars), the country’s oil consumption is exploding.  Running at about 7.8 million barrels per day in 2008, it will, according to recent projections by the U.S. Department of Energy, reach 13.6 million barrels in 2020, and 16.9 million in 2035.  Domestic oil production, on the other hand, is expected to grow from 4.0 million barrels per day in 2008 to 5.3 million in 2035.  Not surprisingly, then, Chinese imports are expected to skyrocket from 3.8 million barrels per day in 2008 to a projected 11.6 million in 2035 — at which time they will exceed those of the United States.

The U.S., meanwhile, can look forward to an improved energy situation.  Thanks to increased production in “tough oil” areas of the United States, including the Arctic seas off Alaska, the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and shale formations in Montana, North Dakota, and Texas, future imports are expected to decline, even as energy consumption rises.  In addition, more oil is likely to be available from the Western Hemisphere rather than the Middle East or Africa.  Again, this will be thanks to the exploitation of yet more “tough oil” areas, including the Athabasca tar sands of Canada, Brazilian oil fields in the deep Atlantic, and increasingly pacified energy-rich regions of previously war-torn Colombia.  According to the Department of Energy, combined production in the United States, Canada, and Brazil is expected to climb by 10.6 million barrels per day between 2009 and 2035 — an enormous jump, considering that most areas of the world are expecting declining output.

Whose Sea Lanes Are These Anyway?

From a geopolitical perspective, all this seems to confer a genuine advantage on the United States, even as China becomes ever more vulnerable to the vagaries of events in, or along, the sea lanes to distant lands.  It means Washington will be able to contemplate a gradual loosening of its military and political ties to the Middle Eastern oil states that have dominated its foreign policy for so long and have led to those costly, devastating wars.

Indeed, as President Obama said in Canberra, the U.S. is now in a position to begin to refocus its military capabilities elsewhere. “After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly,” he declared, “the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia-Pacific region.”

For China, all this spells potential strategic impairment.  Although some of China’s imported oil will travel overland through pipelines from Kazakhstan and Russia, the great majority of it will still come by tanker from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America over sea lanes policed by the U.S. Navy.  Indeed, almost every tanker bringing oil to China travels across the South China Sea, a body of water the Obama administration is now seeking to place under effective naval control.

By securing naval dominance of the South China Sea and adjacent waters, the Obama administration evidently aims to acquire the twenty-first century energy equivalent of twentieth-century nuclear blackmail.  Push us too far, the policy implies, and we’ll bring your economy to its knees by blocking your flow of vital energy supplies.  Of course, nothing like this will ever be said in public, but it is inconceivable that senior administration officials are not thinking along just these lines, and there is ample evidence that the Chinese are deeply worried about the risk — as indicated, for example, by their frantic efforts to build staggeringly expensive pipelines across the entire expanse of Asia to the Caspian Sea basin.

As the underlying nature of the new Obama strategic blueprint becomes clearer, there can be no question that the Chinese leadership will, in response, take steps to ensure the safety of China’s energy lifelines.  Some of these moves will undoubtedly be economic and diplomatic, including, for example, efforts to court regional players like Vietnam and Indonesia as well as major oil suppliers like Angola, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia.  Make no mistake, however: others will be of a military nature.  A significant buildup of the Chinese navy — still small and backward when compared to the fleets of the United States and its principal allies — would seem all but inevitable.  Likewise, closer military ties between China and Russia, as well as with the Central Asian member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan), are assured.

In addition, Washington could now be sparking the beginnings of a genuine Cold-War-style arms race in Asia, which neither country can, in the long run, afford.  All of this is likely to lead to greater tension and a heightened risk of inadvertent escalation arising out of future incidents involving U.S., Chinese, and allied vessels — like the one that occurred in March 2009 when a flotilla of Chinese naval vessels surrounded a U.S. anti-submarine warfare surveillance ship, the Impeccable, and almost precipitated a shooting incident.  As more warships circulate through these waters in an increasingly provocative fashion, the risk that such an incident will result in something far more explosive can only grow.

Nor will the potential risks and costs of such a military-first policy aimed at China be restricted to Asia.  In the drive to promote greater U.S. self-sufficiency in energy output, the Obama administration is giving its approval to production techniques — Arctic drilling, deep-offshore drilling, and hydraulic fracturing — that are guaranteed to lead to further Deepwater Horizon-style environmental catastrophe at home.  Greater reliance on Canadian tar sands, the “dirtiest” of energies, will result in increased greenhouse gas emissions and a multitude of other environmental hazards, while deep Atlantic oil production off the Brazilian coast and elsewhere has its own set of grim dangers.

All of this ensures that, environmentally, militarily, and economically, we will find ourselves in a more, not less, perilous world.  The desire to turn away from disastrous land wars in the Greater Middle East to deal with key issues now simmering in Asia is understandable, but choosing a strategy that puts such an emphasis on military dominance and provocation is bound to provoke a response in kind.  It is hardly a prudent path to head down, nor will it, in the long run, advance America’s interests at a time when global economic cooperation is crucial.  Sacrificing the environment to achieve greater energy independence makes no more sense.

A new Cold War in Asia and a hemispheric energy policy that could endanger the planet: it’s a fatal brew that should be reconsidered before the slide toward confrontation and environmental disaster becomes irreversible.  You don’t have to be a seer to know that this is not the definition of good statesmanship, but of the march of folly.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. A documentary movie version of his previous book, Blood and Oil, is available from the Media Education Foundation. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Klare discusses the American military build-up in the Pacific, click here or download it to your iPod here.

BOMBSHELL: US Caught Meddling in Russian Elections!

December 6th, 2011 by Tony Cartalucci

December 4, 2011 – What would Americans say if they found their polling stations and certain political parties entirely infiltrated by Chinese money, Chinese observers, and Chinese-backed candidates promoting China’s interests in an AMERICAN election? The answer ranges from incarceration, to trials featuring charges ranging from fraud, to sedition and even treason with sentences ranging from decades to life in prison, perhaps even death, as well as possible military action for what could easily be considered an act of war.

Indeed, the attempted subversion of a foreign nation and/or meddling in its elections are acts of war, an act of war the United States government through its various “Non-Governmental Organizations” (NGOs) have been committing on and off for decades around the globe. In fact, the very “Arab Spring” is a geopolitical conflagration tipped off by this vast network of Western backed NGOs.

The New York Times in its article, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” clearly stated as much when it reported, “a number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.”

The Times would continue by explaining, “the Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.”

These same NGOs have also just recently played a central role in Myanmar, blocking the construction of a mega-dam that would have begun the development of the nation’s rural areas, provided electricity for export and domestic use, and help irrigate surrounding agricultural land. These NGOs are currently creating a social divide in Thailand to subvert an 800 year old independent political institution that has for centuries weathered Western encroachment. There is also documented evidence of these NGOs attempting to destabilize the government of Malaysia and reinstall IMF minion Anwar Ibrahim back into power.

In Russia’s neighboring country and ally, Belarus, this network of US-funded NGOs have attempted to start a “Belarusian Spring” to overthrow leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has adamently opposed NATO’s creep toward its, and Russia’s borders. And now Russia itself has just rooted out a plot by these very same NGOs creeping in and around the nation’s political institutions, in an attempt to subvert and replace them.

Russia’s Long Fight Against US-funded Subversion.

This is not the first time Russia has faced this insidious creep from abroad. After the fall of the Soviet Union, there proceeded a lawless free-for-all where foreigners began rushing in in an attempt to create their own order out of the chaos. Leading this charge was billionaire oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky who fashioned an “Open Russian Foundation” and even had western corporate-financier elitists Jacob Rothschild and Henry Kissinger chair its board of directors. In a now all too familiar scenario, Khodorkovsky and his networks of foreign-funded NGOs attempted to consolidate and transfer Russia’s wealth, power, and the destiny of its people into the hands of Wall Street and London’s global “corporatatorship.”

Image: Khodorkovsky, safely behind bars. In Russia, Wall Street and London’s mafia banksters go to prison.

….

Russia, however, was not entirely defenseless. In a devastating backlash, Khodorkovsky was thrown into a Siberian prison where he remains to this day, while other oligarchs serving Western interests scattered like cockroaches back to London and New York. In a hollow attempt to portray Russia’s efforts to preserve its national sovereignty as “human rights abuses,” Wall Street and London assembled a legal defense led by globalist lawyer Robert Amsterdam, who while still representing Khodorkovsky, is also defending another loser in Wall Street’s game to place their puppets in positions of power around the globe, Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand.

Most recently, as Russia’s elections approach, AFP has claimed that NGOs such as US NED-funded Golos and New Times’ slon.ru, which regularly features columns by the now jailed and above mentioned Khodorkovsky, were attacked in order to prevent the exposure of “mass election fraud.” Why opposition groups and foreign-funded NGOs who have a direct vested interest in preventing Putin’s United Russia Party from obtaining a clean victory at the polls, should be trusted to reveal “mass election fraud” in the first place, is never quite explained by AFP.

NED’s official website lists an astounding number of meddlesome NGOs conducting activities across the Russian Federation that no American in their right mind would allow on US soil. Golos is just one of many NGOs funded by the United States government, overseen by the US Embassy in Russia, and used to meddle in the sovereign internal affairs of their nation.

AFP reported, “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose United Russia party has won Sunday’s polls but with a reduced majority, has denounced non-governmental organisations like Golos, comparing them to the disciple Judas who betrayed Jesus.” And indeed, Golos is certifiably betraying the Russian people by taking foreign money and pursing a foreign agenda, masquerading as “pro-democracy” crusaders.

Golos’ activities, mirroring those in the US-engineered Arab Spring, include an online “Map of Violations” site detailing “claims” of fraud across Russia, in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of upcoming elections Putin and is party are predicted to easily win. Golos’ Liliya Shibanova described their “Map of Violations” project as being a place where people could upload any information or evidence of election violations. This, being far from actual evidence, again mirrors the same tactics of manipulating public opinion in the midst of uprisings around the world, fueled by identical foreign-funded organizations where baseless claims of abuse, violence, and “human rights” violations made up the entirety of accusations then used by Western governments to diplomatically and militarily (in the case of Libya and now Syria) pressure targeted nations.

As in Belarus, where the the vice president of NED-funded FIDH, and ring leader of foreign-funded sedition within the Eastern European country, was imprisoned for over 4 years, in Russia, the government is openly exposing the enemy by name. This has also happened in Malaysia, where the ruling government has outed the “Bersih Clean and Fair Elections” movement as a conspiracy of foreign-corporate-financier interests aimed at destabilizing the country and installing a more favorable, proxy regime led by IMF minion Anwar Ibrahim.

Russian Subversion Coordinated by US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.

Russia would also wisely turn their attention to the US Embassy and recently confirmed Ambassador Michael McFaul, who serves on the board of directors of Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy, both now implicated in directly interfering in Russia’s sovereign affairs.

Photo: Michael McFaul, confirmed in November as US Ambassador to Russia, immediately set out to work, not to represent the interests, aspirations, and good will of the American people, but to execute the agenda of corporate-financier oligarchs, who in October sang praises regarding his accomplished background in foreign agitation and the possibilities his presence in Russia could yield. It also should be noted that McFaul is a Senior Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, fully funded by the Fortune 500, Soros’ Open Society, and other corporate-funded foundations.

….

It was warned during October 2011 in “Agitator Nominated for Next US “Ambassador” to Russia,” as corporate-financier interests voiced their recommendations for McFaul that:

“The Brookings Institution recently published a “letter of recommendation” of sorts for McFaul, titled, “Give the Next Russian Ambassador a Powerful Tool to Guard Human Rights.” Already out of the gates, the article is disingenuously using the concept of “human rights” to leverage US interests over Russia. Written by Brookings’ own arch-Neo-Conservative Robert Kagan and Freedom House President David Kramer, the piece begins by immediately calling on the US Senate to confirm McFaul.

Kagan and Kramer claim the US should then arm McFaul with a bill to “sanction” Russian officials accused of “human rights abuses.” Judging from previous US-Russian relations, and in particular, Robert Amsterdam’s transparent, almost cartoonish crusade for his jailed client, Mikhail Khodorovsky, it can be assumed these “abuses” are referring to the jailing of political operatives for grave criminal activities while in the process of serving US corporate-financier interests.

The Brookings piece goes on to enumerate McFaul’s “merits” which include, “democracy promotion” (read: extraterritorial meddling), meeting with “civil society” representatives both in Russia and in neighboring nations (read: conspiring with US-funded NGOs and political opposition leaders), as well as having a good rapport with Russian opposition activists operating in Washington. Brookings notes in particular how important it is to have McFaul in Russia, on the ground to give his “assessment” of up-coming Russian elections. Unspoken, but sure to trickle through the headlines in coming months will be McFaul’s “democracy promotion” on behalf of select opposition parties in Russia’s political landscape.

As if to alleviate any doubt regarding just what Brookings means by “human rights abuses,” Kagan and Kramer then cite the case of UK financier operative Sergei Magnitsky of Hermitage Captial Mangement, an enterprise that while operating primarily in Russian markets, maintained its headquarters in the Cayman Islands.

Magnitsky was arrested and imprisoned over tax evasion and tax fraud, and would die of illness while in prison. The US and UK would predictably trump up the circumstances surrounding the death of Magnitsky, with corporate foundation-funded Redress (page 28) of the UK submitting a “report” to the UN in yet another classic example of leveraging issues of “human rights” against a target nation to serve Western interests. This is but a taste of what is to come with McFaul presiding over the next leg of Anglo-American global destabilization.

Brookings’ Kagan and Freedom House’s Kramer have nominated McFaul with the intention of further meddling in Russia’s sovereign affairs, as well as destabilizing its neighbors in a bid to hedge Russia’s reemergence as a sovereign world power, or perhaps even in an attempt to play a grand strategy of global tension, forcing the besieged developing world to consolidate under the West’s more overt attacks, only for the “union” to be co-opted and integrated into the Wall Street-London “international order” at a later point in time. Either way, McFaul does not represent the ideals, principles, or laws of the American people or the US Constitution, nor does he represent universal values of respecting national sovereignty.

His confirmation by the US Senate will indicate duplicity amongst the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and a further divergence between their actions and the will and aspirations of the American people who put them in office. McFaul represents a corporate-financier elite and their agenda of building an “international order” (read: empire) at the cost of yet more American treasure and lives, leaving an immensely wealthy elite lording over a destitute American majority.

By exposing both McFaul’s true “credentials” and intentions, as well as who he really works for and why, and by systematically boycotting and replacing the consumerist troughs that fuel this corporate-financier oligarchy we can rectify this obvious and ever-expanding divergence between what is best for America and what is pursued by the oligarchs that presume dominion over us.”

Russia and a growing number of other nations are openly exposing and holding accountable agents of sedition operating in their country, sent and funded by US tax payers’ money. It is time for the other shoe to drop, and for the people of the West to hold their governments accountable. As targeted nations begin exposing and jailing members of this global conspiracy, likewise the West must begin exposing the disingenuous peddlers of this agenda – namely the board of directors and trustees organizing these ploys and dolling out the funds used in this global destabilization, and hold them duly accountable for using tax payers’ money to fund political chaos abroad while economic and social decay consume Americans and Europeans at home.

VIDEO: “Svi na barikade”

December 6th, 2011 by Global Research

Косовска Митровица – Документарни филм „Сви на барикаде“, говори о родољубима из Београда и других места у Србији, као и из дијаспоре, који су 26. и 27. новембра отишли да пруже подршку браниоцима Србије на барикадама на северу Косова и Метохије.

Филм, чији су аутори Џон Боснић и Бранислав Паић, садржи снимке стања на барикадама, као и изјаве многобројних учесника овог подухвата, који су пренели своје утиске са првих линија одбране Србије на Косову и Метохији.

Филм „Сви на барикаде“:

NATO To Open Centers In Kuwait, Other Gulf States

December 6th, 2011 by Habib Toumi

Brussels: Kuwait and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) are discussing plans to open a centre in Kuwait City, a Nato official has said.

The centre, the first of its kind in the Gulf, will help bolster relations and cooperation between the Gulf country and the international organization under the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI).

The initiative was launched at the Alliance’s Summit in the Turkish city in June 2004 to contribute to long-term global and regional security by offering Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries practical bilateral security cooperation with Nato.

Kuwait joined the ICI in December 2004, followed by Bahrain and Qatar in February 2005 and the UAE in June 2005.

The official who wished not be named told Gulf News that no date was set for the opening of the centre in Kuwait City, explaining that international agreements usually took time to materialise.

However, he said that the other ICI member states could also have their own centres.

“Should other GCC countries make the request to open a centre, it will be considered on its own merit,” he said.

North Atlantic Council

In 2006, Kuwait was the first ICI country to host North Atlantic Council (NAC) for a conference on cooperation with Gulf Countries. The NAC later took part in conferences in Bahrain in 2008 and the UAE in 2009.

Non-GCC Arab countries that have developed partnerships with Nato are Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan under the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative launched in 1994.

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Debt and Democracy: Has the Link been Broken?

December 6th, 2011 by Michael Hudson

*This article was first published in German in the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, December 2, 2011.

Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.

Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state.

Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have shifted their political support to democracies. This did not reflect egalitarian or liberal political convictions as such, but rather a desire for better security for their loans. As James Steuart explained in 1767, royal borrowings remained private affairs rather than truly public debts.[1] For a sovereign’s debts to become binding upon the entire nation, elected representatives had to enact the taxes to pay their interest charges.

By giving taxpayers this voice in government, the Dutch and British democracies provided creditors with much safer claims for payment than did kings and princes whose debts died with them. But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.

This is turning international finance into a new mode of warfare. Its objective is the same as military conquest in times past: to appropriate land and mineral resources, communal infrastructure and extract tribute. In response, democracies are demanding referendums over whether to pay creditors by selling off the public domain and raising taxes to impose unemployment, falling wages and economic depression. The alternative is to write down debts or even annul them, and to re-assert regulatory control over the financial sector.

Near Eastern rulers proclaimed Clean Slates to preserve economic balance

Charging interest on advances of goods or money was not originally intended to polarize economies. First administered early in the third millennium BC as a contractual arrangement by Sumer’s temples and palaces with merchants and entrepreneurs who typically worked in the royal bureaucracy, interest at 20% (doubling the principal in five years) was supposed to approximate a fair share of the returns from long-distance trade or leasing land and other public assets such as workshops, boats and ale houses.

As the practice was privatized by royal collectors of user fees and rents, “divine kingship” protected agrarian debtors. Hammurabi’s laws (c. 1750 BC) cancelled their debts in times of flood or drought. All the rulers of his Babylonian dynasty began their first full year on the throne by cancelling agrarian debts so as to clear out payment arrears by proclaiming a clean slate. Bondservants, land or crop rights and other pledges were returned to the debtors to “restore order” in an idealized “original” condition of balance. This practice survived in the Jubilee Year of Mosaic Law in Leviticus 25.

The logic was clear enough. Ancient societies needed to field armies to defend their land, and this required liberating indebted citizens from bondage. Hammurabi’s laws protected charioteers and other fighters from being reduced to debt bondage, and blocked creditors from taking the crops of tenants on royal and other public lands and on communal land that owed manpower and military service to the palace.

In Egypt, the pharaoh Bakenranef (c. 720-715 BC, “Bocchoris” in Greek) proclaimed a debt amnesty and abolished debt-servitude when faced with a military threat from Ethiopia. According to Diodorus of Sicily (I, 79, writing in 40-30 BC), he ruled that if a debtor contested the claim, the debt was nullified if the creditor could not back up his claim by producing a written contract. (It seems that creditors always have been prone to exaggerate the balances due.) The pharaoh reasoned that “the bodies of citizens should belong to the state, to the end that it might avail itself of the services which its citizens owed it, in times of both war and peace. For he felt that it would be absurd for a soldier … to be haled to prison by his creditor for an unpaid loan, and that the greed of private citizens should in this way endanger the safety of all.”

The fact that the main Near Eastern creditors were the palace, temples and their collectors made it politically easy to cancel the debts. It always is easy to annul debts owed to oneself. Even Roman emperors burned the tax records to prevent a crisis. But it was much harder to cancel debts owed to private creditors as the practice of charging interest spread westward to Mediterranean chiefdoms after about 750 BC. Instead of enabling families to bridge gaps between income and outgo, debt became the major lever of land expropriation, polarizing communities between creditor oligarchies and indebted clients. In Judah, the prophet Isaiah (5:8-9) decried foreclosing creditors who “add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.”

Creditor power and stable growth rarely have gone together. Most personal debts in this classical period were the product of small amounts of money lent to individuals living on the edge of subsistence and who could not make ends meet. Forfeiture of land and assets – and personal liberty – forced debtors into bondage that became irreversible. By the 7th century BC, “tyrants” (popular leaders) emerged to overthrow the aristocracies in Corinth and other wealthy Greek cities, gaining support by cancelling the debts. In a less tyrannical manner, Solon founded the Athenian democracy in 594 BC by banning debt bondage.

But oligarchies re-emerged and called in Rome when Sparta’s kings Agis, Cleomenes and their successor Nabis sought to cancel debts late in the third century BC. They were killed and their supporters driven out. It has been a political constant of history since antiquity that creditor interests opposed both popular democracy and royal power able to limit the financial conquest of society – a conquest aimed at attaching interest-bearing debt claims for payment on as much of the economic surplus as possible.

When the Gracchi brothers and their followers tried to reform the credit laws in 133 BC, the dominant Senatorial class acted with violence, killing them and inaugurating a century of Social War, resolved by the ascension of Augustus as emperor in 29 BC.

  

Rome’s creditor oligarchy wins the Social War, enserfs the population and brings on a Dark Age

Matters were more bloody abroad. Aristotle did not mention empire building as part of his political schema, but foreign conquest always has been a major factor in imposing debts, and war debts have been the major cause of public debt in modern times. Antiquity’s harshest debt levy was by Rome, whose creditors spread out to plague Asia Minor, its most prosperous province. The rule of law all but disappeared when the publican creditor “knights” arrived. Mithridates of Pontus led three popular revolts, and local populations in Ephesus and other cities rose up and killed a reported 80,000 Romans in 88 BC. The Roman army retaliated, and Sulla imposed war tribute of 20,000 talents in 84 BC. Charges for back interest multiplied this sum six-fold by 70 BC.

Among Rome’s leading historians, Livy, Plutarch and Diodorus blamed the fall of the Republic on creditor intransigence in waging the century-long Social War marked by political murder from 133 to 29 BC. Populist leaders sought to gain a following by advocating debt cancellations (e.g., the Catiline conspiracy in 63-62 BC). They were killed. By the second century AD about a quarter of the population was reduced to bondage. By the fifth century Rome’s economy collapsed, stripped of money. Subsistence life reverted to the countryside as a Dark Age descended.

Creditors find a legalistic reason to support parliamentary democracy

When banking recovered after the Crusades looted Byzantium and infused silver and gold to review Western European commerce, Christian opposition to charging interest was overcome by the combination of prestigious lenders (the Knights Templars and Hospitallers providing credit during the Crusades) and their major clients – kings, at first to pay the Church and increasingly to wage war. But royal debts went bad when kings died. The Bardi and Peruzzi went bankrupt in 1345 when Edward III repudiated his war debts. Banking families lost more on loans to the Habsburg and Bourbon despots on the thrones of Spain, Austria and France.

Matters changed with the Dutch democracy, seeking to win and secure its liberty from Habsburg Spain. The fact that their parliament was to contract permanent public debts on behalf of the state enabled the Low Countries to raise loans to employ mercenaries in an epoch when money and credit were the sinews of war. Access to credit “was accordingly their most powerful weapon in the struggle for their freedom,” notes Ehrenberg: “Anyone who gave credit to a prince knew that the repayment of the debt depended only on his debtor’s capacity and will to pay. The case was very different for the cities, which had power as overlords, but were also corporations, associations of individuals held in common bond. According to the generally accepted law each individual burgher was liable for the debts of the city both with his person and his property.”[2]

The financial achievement of parliamentary government was thus to establish debts that were not merely the personal obligations of princes, but were truly public and binding regardless of who occupied the throne. This is why the first two democratic nations, the Netherlands and Britain after its 1688 revolution, developed the most active capital markets and proceeded to become leading military powers. What is ironic is that it was the need for war financing that promoted democracy, forming a symbiotic trinity between war making, credit and parliamentary democracy in an epoch when money was still the sinews of war.

At this time “the legal position of the King qua borrower was obscure, and it was still doubtful whether his creditors had any remedy against him in case of default.”[3] The more despotic Spain, Austria and France became, the greater the difficulty they found in financing their military adventures. By the end of the eighteenth century Austria was left “without credit, and consequently without much debt” the least credit-worthy and worst armed country in Europe (as Steuart 1767:373 noted), fully dependent on British subsidies and loan guarantees by the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

  

Finance accommodates itself to democracy, but then pushes for oligarchy

While the nineteenth century’s democratic reforms reduced the power of landed aristocracies to control parliaments, bankers moved flexibly to achieve a symbiotic relationship with nearly every form of government. In France, followers of Saint-Simon promoted the idea of banks acting like mutual funds, extending credit against equity shares in profit. The German state made an alliance with large banking and heavy industry. Marx wrote optimistically about how socialism would make finance productive rather than parasitic. In the United States, regulation of public utilities went hand in hand with guaranteed returns. In China, Sun-Yat-Sen wrote in 1922: “I intend to make all the national industries of China into a Great Trust owned by the Chinese people, and financed with international capital for mutual benefit.”[4]

 World War I saw the United States replace Britain as the major creditor nation, and by the end of World War II it had cornered some 80 percent of the world’s monetary gold. Its diplomats shaped the IMF and World Bank along creditor-oriented lines that financed trade dependency, mainly on the United States. Loans to finance trade and payments deficits were subject to “conditionalities” that shifted economic planning to client oligarchies and military dictatorships. The democratic response to resulting austerity plans squeezing out debt service was unable to go much beyond “IMF riots,” until Argentina rejected its foreign debt.

A similar creditor-oriented austerity is now being imposed on Europe by the European Central Bank (ECB) and EU bureaucracy. Ostensibly social democratic governments have been directed to save the banks rather than reviving economic growth and employment. Losses on bad bank loans and speculations are taken onto the public balance sheet while scaling back public spending and even selling off infrastructure. The response of taxpayers stuck with the resulting debt has been to mount popular protests starting in Iceland and Latvia in January 2009, and more widespread demonstrations in Greece and Spain this autumn to protest their governments’ refusal to hold referendums on these fateful bailouts of foreign bondholders.

  

Shifting planning away from elected public representatives to bankers

Every economy is planned. This traditionally has been the function of government. Relinquishing this role under the slogan of “free markets” leaves it in the hands of banks. Yet the planning privilege of credit creation and allocation turns out to be even more centralized than that of elected public officials. And to make matters worse, the financial time frame is short-term hit-and-run, ending up as asset stripping. By seeking their own gains, the banks tend to destroy the economy. The surplus ends up being consumed by interest and other financial charges, leaving no revenue for new capital investment or basic social spending.

This is why relinquishing policy control to a creditor class rarely has gone together with economic growth and rising living standards. The tendency for debts to grow faster than the population’s ability to pay has been a basic constant throughout all recorded history. Debts mount up exponentially, absorbing the surplus and reducing much of the population to the equivalent of debt peonage. To restore economic balance, antiquity’s cry for debt cancellation sought what the Bronze Age Near East achieved by royal fiat: to cancel the overgrowth of debts.

In more modern times, democracies have urged a strong state to tax rentier income and wealth, and when called for, to write down debts. This is done most readily when the state itself creates money and credit. It is done least easily when banks translate their gains into political power. When banks are permitted to be self-regulating and given veto power over government regulators, the economy is distorted to permit creditors to indulge in the speculative gambles and outright fraud that have marked the past decade. The fall of the Roman Empire demonstrates what happens when creditor demands are unchecked. Under these conditions the alternative to government planning and regulation of the financial sector becomes a road to debt peonage.

Finance vs. government; oligarchy vs. democracy

Democracy involves subordinating financial dynamics to serve economic balance and growth – and taxing rentier income or keeping basic monopolies in the public domain. Untaxing or privatizing property income “frees” it to be pledged to the banks, to be capitalized into larger loans. Financed by debt leveraging, asset-price inflation increases rentier wealth while indebting the economy at large. The economy shrinks, falling into negative equity.

The financial sector has gained sufficient influence to use such emergencies as an opportunity to convince governments that that the economy will collapse they it do not “save the banks.” In practice this means consolidating their control over policy, which they use in ways that further polarize economies. The basic model is what occurred in ancient Rome, moving from democracy to oligarchy. In fact, giving priority to bankers and leaving economic planning to be dictated by the EU, ECB and IMF threatens to strip the nation-state of the power to coin or print money and levy taxes.

The resulting conflict is pitting financial interests against national self-determination. The idea of an independent central bank being “the hallmark of democracy” is a euphemism for relinquishing the most important policy decision – the ability to create money and credit – to the financial sector. Rather than leaving the policy choice to popular referendums, the rescue of banks organized by the EU and ECB now represents the largest category of rising national debt. The private bank debts taken onto government balance sheets in Ireland and Greece have been turned into taxpayer obligations. The same is true for America’s $13 trillion added since September 2008 (including $5.3 trillion in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bad mortgages taken onto the government’s balance sheet, and $2 trillion of Federal Reserve “cash-for-trash” swaps).

This is being dictated by financial proxies euphemized as technocrats. Designated by creditor lobbyists, their role is to calculate just how much unemployment and depression is needed to squeeze out a surplus to pay creditors for debts now on the books. What makes this calculation self-defeating is the fact that economic shrinkage – debt deflation – makes the debt burden even more unpayable.

Neither banks nor public authorities (or mainstream academics, for that matter) calculated the economy’s realistic ability to pay – that is, to pay without shrinking the economy. Through their media and think tanks, they have convinced populations that the way to get rich most rapidly is to borrow money to buy real estate, stocks and bonds rising in price – being inflated by bank credit – and to reverse the past century’s progressive taxation of wealth.

To put matters bluntly, the result has been junk economics. Its aim is to disable public checks and balances, shifting planning power into the hands of high finance on the claim that this is more efficient than public regulation. Government planning and taxation is accused of being “the road to serfdom,” as if “free markets” controlled by bankers given leeway to act recklessly is not planned by special interests in ways that are oligarchic, not democratic. Governments are told to pay bailout debts taken on not to defend countries in military warfare as in times past, but to benefit the wealthiest layer of the population by shifting its losses onto taxpayers.

The failure to take the wishes of voters into consideration leaves the resulting national debts on shaky ground politically and even legally. Debts imposed by fiat, by governments or foreign financial agencies in the face of strong popular opposition may be as tenuous as those of the Habsburgs and other despots in past epochs. Lacking popular validation, they may die with the regime that contracted them. New governments may act democratically to subordinate the banking and financial sector to serve the economy, not the other way around.

At the very least, they may seek to pay by re-introducing progressive taxation of wealth and income, shifting the fiscal burden onto rentier wealth and property. Re-regulation of banking and providing a public option for credit and banking services would renew the social democratic program that seemed well underway a century ago.

Iceland and Argentina are most recent examples, but one may look back to the moratorium on Inter-Ally arms debts and German reparations in 1931.A basic mathematical as well as political principle is at work: Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be.

  

Notes

[1] James Steuart, Principles of Political Oeconomy (1767), p. 353.

[2] Richard Ehrenberg, Capital and Finance in the Age of the Renaissance (1928):44f., 33.

[3] Charles Wilson, England’s Apprenticeship: 1603-1763 (London: 1965):89.

[4] Sun Yat-Sen, The International Development of China (1922):231ff.

US Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced on November 22 that the US stops supplying to Russia the data on conventional arms in Europe. Furthermore, Russian inspectors would not be admitted to US military bases in Europe. What could be the reasoning behind the radical US step which, it must be noted, fits with a wider trend in Washington’s decision-making?

First, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which was pompously penned in 1990 and imposed constraints on the deployment of non-nuclear arms on the continent, was supposed to be a deal between two blocs – NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Secondly, its underlying compromise was political rather than military in nature as naval weapons, cruise missiles, air defense, etc. remained outside of the CFE Treaty’s scope.

Thirdly, the world’s configuration changed since the time the CFE Treaty was formulated, with new independent states coming into being and some of the former Eastern bloc countries joining NATO. Automatically, the Treaty’s provisions did not account for their existence.

An amended version of the CFE Treaty signed in Istanbul in 1999 similarly reflected a compromise of a political character. It grew out of negotiations which, even though champaign was occasionally served in the process, dragged on with great difficulty. On top of that, the subsequent ratification took ages – the refreshed CFE treaty was ratified by Russia only in 2004, with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine following the lead shortly. NATO countries showed even less enthusiasm to ratify it. Russia eventually suspended the CFE Treaty in 2007.

As it follows from the above, this November Washington scrapped a de facto meaningless agreement. Back in 2007, Russia’s foreign ministry bluntly confirmed that the CFE Treaty was dead when it released a comment explaining that the agreement signed in the Cold War era was long out of sync with the realities of the transformed Europe and could not contribute to the international security. Gen. Yu. Baluyevsky who was the Russian army’s chief of general staff at the time even charged NATO with exceeding the ceilings set by the Treaty by thousands of units.

Mrs. Nuland of the US Department of State did say that the doors were open for further talks, but the remark read as a mere tribute to the norms of diplomatic politeness. If, as US officials assert, Washington is interested in reanimating the Treaty or attracting Moscow to new negotiations over its subject, the natural first step for the US would be to take the locks off the doors. For example, NATO could express readiness to keep sticking to the Treaty quotas, to account for the Baltic republics’ military potentials in the overall balance, etc. It is clear, though, that the US is not going to do anything of the kind, as otherwise it would have to pull some of its forces – tanks, armored vehicles, canons, and copters – out of Europe and thus weaken its grip on the continent.

Moscow responded to Washington’s move within hours: President Medvedev made a statement pertinent to the key element of the reset policy framework – namely, the recent New START Treaty. Upon mentioning that the treaty confirmed the linkage between the offensive and defensive strategic armaments and allowed Russia to withdraw from it under appropriate conditions, the Russian leader made it clear that Russia “reserves the right to discontinue further disarmament and arms control measures”. The statement could impress the media but not the Pentagon where, no doubt, the present-day modest capabilities of the Russian army and military-industrial complex are assessed with full realism.

Washington’s heavily advertised reset in the relations with Moscow ended with a fabulous failure, and no other outcome could be realistically expected from the outset. The reason is that over roughly the last 150 years the US was building a vision of the world such that Russia – Soviet, post-Soviet or sustaining any other social and political system – was a priori regarded as an enemy. From A. Mahan to Z. Brzezinski, US geostrategies were centered around crushing Russia as a prologue to the US global primacy. A couple of illustrative examples are given below.

A. Mahan wrote that the US should gain control over the entire part of South Asia stretching from the 30 to the 40 parallel and start pushing the Russian nation to the north. His plan was that – as, by the laws of nature, the termination of growth necessarily leads to decline – the Russians would be doomed if locked up in their northern territories. Z. Brzezinski, in his turn, coined the thesis that the new world order would be built on the wreckage of Russia, at the expense of Russia, and would be used against Russia.

It is not surprising, therefore, that US President W. Wilson suggested partitioning Russia in 1918 or that US President R. Reagan used to condemn the Soviet Union as the “evil empire”.

A credible reset in the US-Russian relations would take a reset in the minds of the US politicians and financial players who would have to embrace a completely new geopolitical vision and delete irreversibly their absurd dream of world dominance

A boy stands next to a hut on a palm plantation in the Aguan Valley in August. The slogan reads “Area recovered by the MUCA,” which stands for “United Peasant Movement of Aguan.” (Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)

AGUAN VALLEY, HONDURAS– At 3,000 square miles, the Aguan River Valley in northeastern Honduras is about the same size as California’s Death Valley. But despite being green and fertile, the Aguan basin is becoming famous as a “valley of death.” Since January 2010, at least 45 displaced peasants have been killed in clashes over land rights in Aguan, and “the actual number of killings is probably much higher,” according to Annie Bird, co-director of the human rights advocacy group Rights Action (RA), who visited Honduras in September.

Bird and other critics say that the violence in Aguan is driven by competition over resources between local farmers and large-scale, biofuel production facilities. The valley is home to more than a dozen African palm plantations that supply “green” energy to Europe and Asia, as well as a pair of biogas plants that operate as part of a United Nations carbon-credit initiative.

“The agribusinesses are after all the prime farmland in Aguan,” Bird says. “That’s what’s driving the conflict here.”

African palm plantations have also been linked to land-based violence in Indonesia, Africa, and elsewhere in Latin America, as worldwide demand for biofuels has soared in recent years. But using arable land for fuels, as opposed to food production, has caused a spike in global food prices. In October 2011, the U.N. Committee on Food Security issued a report citing biofuel production as one of the leading causes of food shortages worldwide.

Ignoring its own committee’s report, the U.N. continues to endorse the two biogas plants attached to African palm plantations in the Aguan Valley as part of its controversial Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) program. A product of the Kyoto Protocol, CDMs allow governments and companies from Western countries to trade carbon credits with businesses in developing nations that utilize renewable energy and other carbon-saving techniques. Critics of the CDM program point to the food-vs-fuel dilemma, as well as the issue of “additionality”–that is, whether or not a given CDM would exist without U.N.-sanctioned investments. But Bird says there is a moral component as well.

“By approving investment in these projects, the U.N. has made itself an accomplice to a human rights crisis,” Bird says. “It’s just shameful.”

Killings and forced evictions

Both the CDMs in Aguan use the bacteria-rich wastewater left over from palm-oil extraction to produce methane for biogas. But the methane capture process is only cost-effective on a large scale–and observers say that gives local companies a direct incentive to expand operations.

David Calix, spokesman for the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA), says, “Within the last two years more than 1,500 peasant families have lost their homes, schools and communities due to forceful evictions,” all of which have been linked to African Palm expansion efforts in the Aguan valley.

In July, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) released a report on Aguan alleging evictions and armed attacks against local communities by “plantation security guards and private militia groups” allowed to act with impunity. The FIDH paper forced a couple of powerful European investors to back out of the Aguan CDM project and caused the European Parliament to order a fact-finding mission. So far, however, these measures don’t seem to have had any impact on the escalating violence.

Over just two days in August, skirmishes between guards and peasants left 11 people dead. A few days later, two more campesino leaders were assassinated–one of them, Pedro Salgado, was shot down in his home along with his wife. An entire peasant village was burned to the ground. The international outcry became so severe that in early September, the Honduran government dispatched a force of about 1,000 special police officers and soldiers to occupy the valley.

But Bird says that instead of protecting peasants’ human rights, the occupation forces have aided in their persecution. Reports have emerged of police and soldiers cracking down on peasant communities, and even taking part in evictions. “Death squad” attacks on peasants have continued at about the same pace during the occupation, with four assassinations in the same week in early October. No arrests have been made in any of the killings, and no suspects have been named.

Hazardous occupation

“The troops say they have come to bring us security, but that is a lie,” says MCA President Rodolfo Cruz. “They are here to serve the interests of the rich land owners, the same ones who control the politicians back in [the Honduran capital of] Tegucigalpa.” Cruz is also acting mayor of a small peasant community called Rigores, which he claims has been threatened several times with eviction by both security guards and law enforcement.

Cruz also reports that citizens are being searched at random, and that there have been mass round-ups and arrests as the authorities hunt down leaders of the movement.

“They are accusing us of having weapons, of forming an insurgency,” says Cruz, whose 16-year-old son, Santos, was allegedly tortured for information while in police custody on September 19. Cruz maintains that the MCA and other organizations are pacifist movements dedicated to nonviolent resistance.

Bird, who has researched the case, believes there is no doubt that Cruz’ son was targeted by authorities because his father is a prominent spokesman for land reform. “It’s all part of their pattern of intimidation,” she says. “There is no functional justice system in Honduras.” As further evidence of legal dysfunction, Bird points out that the businessman with the most holdings in Aguan, Miguel Facusse Barjum, was recently revealed by WikiLeaks to have strong ties to Colombian cocaine traffickers. “The police are evicting peasants from the property of a known drug lord,” she says. “That just shows you how rotten the system is.”

Although in September there were hints in the Honduran press that the police have captured cell phones that prove the existence of a rebel army some 300 strong, Honduran Police Chief Julio Benitez is much more circumspect. “We really don’t know what is going on in Aguan,” Avila says. “We know there are armed groups. We know people are being shot up under mysterious circumstances. But it is very complicated.”

When asked about the charges of police brutality, Avila declined to respond, saying only, “[The Honduran police] are a professional organization. We behave in a professional manner. We are working hard to safeguard the peasants of Aguan and to protect them from violent criminals.”

Push for reform

“The situation in Honduras is, of course, of great concern to us,” CDM board Chair Martin Hession says. “We don’t want to be associated with this type of thing in any way.” Hession says that as a result of the violence in Aguan, the CDM Board has “increased surveillance” in regard to approving new projects.

But Eva Filzmoser, program director of the Brussels-based CDM Watch, believes that’s too little, too late. “We are deeply disappointed … that the [Aguan] project was registered despite the serious concerns about alleged human rights abuses,” Filzmoser wrote in an e-mail.

Filzmoser charges that Hession and the rest of the board chose to ignore early reports of violence coming out of Honduras when they approved the project in July of 2011. Part of the problem is systemic, she writes, stemming from a lack of stakeholder oversight by the CDM board itself. “The [Aguan] project would never have been registered if the proper rules were in place,” Filzmoser wrote.

Bird also sees an inherent flaw in the CDM program. “If you’re taking away land from poor people to generate biofuels, you’re effectively condemning them to death by starvation,” she says.

Hession says such things are beyond the purview of the CDM board. “We can’t be the arbiter of human rights across the world.” To which Bird responds: “That’s the single, fundamental mandate of the U.N. Human rights are what the U.N. was created to promote. And the CDM board is still part of the U.N.”

For Cruz, who is also a farmer, the issue at stake is less philosophical than practical: “All we want is a place to grow our corn, to grow our beans,” he says. “All we want is a right to work the land.”

Jeremy Kryt is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Journalism and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has been reporting from Honduras since August 2009, and his coverage of the crisis there has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Earth Island Journal, Huffington Post, Alternet and The Narco News Bulletin, among other publications.

Actualidad de Marx en un mundo caótico y a la orilla de la barbarie

December 6th, 2011 by Miguel Urbano Rodrigues

Ponencia presentada en el VI Foro de Filosofía, Maracaibo, diciembre 2011

Para apoderarse del petróleo y del gas libios los nuevos cruzados de Occidente fabricaron una rebelión en Benghasi y satanizaron a Gaddafi

Una campaña de ámbito mundial desencadenada por intelectuales de grandes universidades de los EEUU y de Europa, ampliamente divulgada por el sistema mediático controlado por el imperialismo, proclamó, después de la disgregación de la URSS, el fin del marxismo.

Para esos epígonos del capitalismo, el neoliberalismo señalaría el fin de la Historia como ideología definitiva. En el marxismo identificaban un arcaísmo obsoleto.

Esas profecías no tardaron en ser desmentidos por el caminar de la Historia. En lugar de la era de progreso, abundancia y democracia anunciada por George Bush (padre) después del fin de la URSS y la transformación de Rusia en un país capitalista, una crisis de civilización se dejo sentir sobre la humanidad. La concentración de riqueza fue acompañada de una ampliación de la pobreza.

Hambrunas cíclicas asolaron países de Asia y África. Al iniciar el milenio, el capitalismo se sumergió en una crisis estructural. Sin soluciones, porque la Ley de la acumulación no funciona más de acuerdo con la lógica del capital, los EEUU, presentándose como faro de la democracia y la libertad, desencadenaron agresiones monstruosas contra los pueblos del Tercer Mundo, alegando que defendían a la humanidad contra el terrorismo.

El Imperialismo colectivo

No obstante las contradicciones de intereses entre los EEUU y los otros países del G-7 hayan persistido, esas contradicciones no son más antagónicas por lo que es hoy mínima la probabilidad de que irrumpan guerras interimperialistas como aquellas que provocaron decenas de millones de muertos en la primera mitad del siglo XX. Al imperialismo clásico lo sucedió aquello que el economista argentino Claudio Katz define como el imperialismo colectivo.

Bajo la hegemonía de los EEUU cuya superioridad militar es aplastante, países como Reino Unido, Francia, Alemania y otros se tornaron cómplices de una estrategia de dominación mundial. Invocando pretextos falsos como la existencia de armas de extinción masiva y la lucha contra la fantasmagórica Al Qaeda, Washington invadió y ocupo Iraq y Afganistán y sus fuerzas armadas practicaron ahí crímenes contra la humanidad que solamente encuentran precedente en los cometidos por el Reich nazi.

Goebbels decía que una mentira a fuerza de ser repetida aparece como verdad. No podía imaginar que la perversa propaganda hitleriana aparece como un juego comparado con el siniestro engranaje de desinformación montado para servir a la estrategia imperial. En la época de la información instantánea, una gigantesca máquina mediática científicamente montada y controlada por laboratorios ideológicos del imperialismo bombardea los pueblos con un discurso e imágenes que deforman la realidad.

Promover la alienación de las masas, manipular la consciencia social es un objetivo permanente del imperialismo. Esa ofensiva mediática busca anular la combatividad de los pueblos mediante la robotización progresiva del hombre, meta facilitada por la contracultura alienante exportada por los EEUU. Es en ese contexto que las actuales guerras neocoloniales son precedidas de una masacre de las consciencias concebida para neutralizar eventuales reacciones a las agresiones militares, presentándolas como iniciativas inseparables de la defensa de la democracia y de la paz.

La satanización de líderes transformados en verdugos de sus pueblos se volvió rutina en esas campañas. Así paso con Gaddafi. El líder libio, que el año pasado era aún recibido con abrazos por Sarkozy, Cameron, Berlusconi y Obama, paso de repente a ser calificado de monstruo acusado de crímenes contra la humanidad. Para apoderarse del petróleo y del gas del país los nuevos cruzados de Occidente fabricaron una rebelión en Benghasi e hicieron aprobar por el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU una Resolución sobre la “exclusión aérea” –con la complicidad, después de vacilaciones, de Rusia y de China- luego además no respetada cuando comenzaron a estallar misiles y bombas en Trípoli.

Más de seis meses duro esta guerra repugnante, en la cual la OTAN funciono como instrumento de una agresión definida por la ONU como “intervención humanitaria”. Expulsar a China de África fue uno de los objetivos de esa agresión concluida con el asesinato de Muamar Gaddafi.

Más de 300.000 chinos, técnicos y trabajadores, fueron retirados del país donde trabajaban. China tenía ahí voluminosas inversiones como en otros países del Continente. Cabe señalar que Angola es actualmente el segundo proveedor africano de petróleo a China.

La creación de un ejército permanente de los EEUU en África fue preparado con años de anticipación. El Comando permanece por ahora instalado en Alemania, pero Washington pretende transferirlo para un país africano “amigo”. La reciente intervención militar en Uganda, anunciada por Obama para combatir una secta religiosa minúscula calificada de terrorista, es una etapa de ese proyecto. El presidente norteamericano ya informo además que los EEUU enviaran tropas para “combatir el terrorismo” para el Congo, Sudán del Sur y la República Centro Africana si los gobiernos de esos países piden “ayuda”. En el ámbito de esa escalada, aviones de la USAF bombardean periódicamente a Somalia para combatir movimientos tribales “aliados de Al Qaeda”.

Cabe preguntar ¿quién será la próxima víctima del imperialismo colectivo? El comportamiento de los EEUU trae a la memoria el de la Alemania de Hitler. Primero fue la anexión de Austria; después Múnich y la posterior destrucción de Checoslovaquia; finalmente la exigencia de entrega de Dánzig, la invasión de Polonia, la guerra mundial.

No pretendo establecer analogías. Pero el desprecio por los pueblos y por su derecho a la independencia es el mismo. Primero fue Afganistán, después Iraq, en seguida Libia, ahora es Uganda. Siria está en la mira. Pero Irán es el gran “enemigo de la democracia” a derrotar.

La Alternativa

El agravamiento de la crisis del capitalismo simultáneamente financiera, económica, social, energética, militar, ambiental –colocó en la orden del día el debate en torno del combate al sistema.

Hay consenso entre las fuerzas progresistas en lo tocante a condenar al neoliberalismo. Pero las divergencias surgen cuando la discusión incide sobre la temática de las alternativas y las estrategias antiimperialistas.

El Foro Social Mundial generó inicialmente una gran esperanza con su slogan romántico “Otro mundo es posible”. Pero las sucesivas reuniones del Foro y de los Foros Europeo, Africano, Asiático y otros hicieron evidente la existencia de posiciones incompatibles. El Foro proyecta hoy la imagen de una caja de resonancia de discursos humanistas inocuos que se agotan en la búsqueda de una alternativa teórica. Para muchos de sus dirigentes el objetivo principal sería una reforma humanizada del capitalismo, una imposibilidad por su esencia inhumana. Además, el imperialismo se infiltro entre los organizadores a través de ONGs de fachada antineoliberal. Es significativo que un político reaccionario como Mario Soares, el ex presidente de Portugal, haya aparecido como director del boletín diario de uno de los Foros, en Porto Alegre.

Michel Chossudovsky afirmó en un ensayo que los viajes de destacados dirigentes del Foro Social Mundial son financiados por fundaciones con vínculos sospechosos.

Me incluyo entre aquellos que niegan prioridad a la formulación consensual de una alternativa al capitalismo. Es inviable. La tarea inmediata de las fuerzas revolucionarias anticapitalistas debe ser, en mi opinión, el combate al imperialismo, lo que no excluye el indispensable debate teórico.

La Historia nos enseña que el imperialismo es más vulnerable en el corazón del sistema y en las áreas donde concentra su poder militar en acciones de terrorismo de Estado.

Las guerras perdidas de Iraq y de Afganistán no fueron solamente desgastantes, absorbiendo centenas de millares de millones de dólares –y provocando inclusive la separación de generales que criticaron al Presidente Obama- sino que contribuyeron para el despertar de la consciencia del propio pueblo de los EEUU.

El imperialismo no se siente amenazado por los críticos que pretenden reformar el capitalismo. Los tolera bien. Pero cuando Estados soberanos en países de Ásia, de África o de América Latina no se someten al sistema, u opta por la guerra (Libia), o fija como objetivo su destrucción, a corto o largo plazo, por implosión o violencia.

Es el caso de Venezuela Bolivariana, objeto de dos golpes de Estado frustrados. Washington recuerda el precedente de Cuba. No acepta que un país del Hemisferio decida su futuro libremente y opte por la construcción del socialismo.

El movimiento de los indignados, nacido en España, se expandió por Europa y llegó a los EEUU, polo del sistema. Ellos no saben definir lo que quieren, pero saben lo que rechazan. La consigna “Ocupen Wall Street” y el movimiento “99%” expresan bien el rechazo por el engranaje capitalista que frente a la crisis de su responsabilidad se esfuerza por salvar a los banqueros y a las grandes trasnacionales en tanto empobrece más a la clase media y a los pobres. La brutal represión desencadenada contra los ocupantes de la Liberty Place, en Manhattan y en el puente de Brooklyn confirma que el gran capital entró en pánico.

Compañeros:

El mundo está al borde del caos, enfrentando el peligro de una dictadura mundial del capital, de contornos neofascistas. Más soy optimista.

Grandes luchas sociales están en curso en Europa y otras se esbozan en el horizonte. Los trabajadores responden con gigantescas manifestaciones de protesta en Italia, España, Portugal, Francia contra las políticas de los gobiernos que pisotean la voluntad popular, promueven el desempleo, reducen salarios, suprimen derechos constitucionales, sobrecargan al pueblo de impuestos, en el cuadro de una estrategia concebida en beneficio del gran capital, y dirigida con arrogancia y sin pudor por la canciller Merkel y por el presidente Sarkozy.

Luchar contra esa política que amenaza con desembocar en la barbarie, paso a ser una tarea revolucionaria. El pueblo de Grecia está asumiéndola con coherencia y coraje ejemplares. En estos días combate por la humanidad entera. Veinte huelgas generales en un año y centenas de huelgas sectoriales son testimonio de ese espíritu de resistencia popular.

En América Latina, ¡Cuba resiste, Bolivia resiste, Venezuela Bolivariana resiste! La desesperación del capitalismo no tiene el poder de ocultar que está condenado a desaparecer, aunque su fin no tenga fecha en el calendario. La opción es entre civilización y barbarie.

En este contexto dramático, releer a Marx, estudiar su obra ayuda a comprender la irremediable decadencia del capitalismo. Nadie como él analizó y comprendió el sistema de explotación del hombre que entonces oprimía a la clase trabajadora y que hoy continúa oprimiéndola.

Es reconfortante registrar que las campañas de satanización del socialismo y destacadamente del pensamiento marxista no produjeron los efectos pretendidos. Estamos asistiendo al renacimiento de la palabra del marxismo.

Para esa realidad es especialmente valiosa la contribución de filósofos de Europa y de América Latina, cuya reflexión creativa tiene como complemento el trabajo militante de pensadores revolucionarios en el desmontaje de los engranajes del capitalismo y en la denuncia de los crímenes del imperialismo. Me permito citar entre muchos al italiano Doménico Losurdo, al húngaro Istvan Meszaros, a los franceses Georges Labica y Jean Salem, a los estadounidenses James Petras y Noam Chomsky, al canadiense Michel Chossudovsky, a los cubanos Martínez Heredia y Osvaldo Martínez, al argentino Claudio Katz.

Compañeros:

Mikis Theodorakis, el gran artista griego, afirmó hace días que si Grecia se sometiese a las exigencias de los llamados “socios europeos” sería su fin tanto como pueblo tanto como nación”

Enunció una evidencia válida para otros pueblos. ¿Qué hacer entonces? Lenin afirmó que no hay revolución victoriosa sin teoría revolucionaria.

Creo, compañeros, que para todos nosotros, reunidos en esta ciudad de Maracaibo, en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, vanguardia de la lucha antiimperialista en América Latina, la única alternativa válida a la barbarie capitalista es el socialismo.

Realista, me permito terminar con palabras del gran filosofo marxista español Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez:

“El socialismo del futuro solamente llegará a ser realidad si, a partir de la densa neblina de tergiversaciones y confusiones, permanece como objetivo estratégico para el cual hay que avanzar, sean cuales fueran los pasos intermedios, rodeos o recodos con los que haya que contar”.


Miguel Urbano
: Escritor portugués, ex diputado al Parlamento del Consejo de Europa.
www.odiario.info

The US and Russia intended to “reset” their relations under US President Barack Obama. Instead, however, the two countries continue to squabble over the planned missile shield, which Washington insists is to protect against attack from Iran. The debate shows signs of turning into a new arms race.
 
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, wanted to push his American negotiating partner into a corner. “If space aliens were to completely disarm Iran,” he asked, “would Washington continue with its plans to build a missile defense system in Poland?”

The defense shield is designed to intercept missiles from rogue states like Iran, the United States has repeatedly insisted. The conversation between the Russian ambassador and his US counterpart, which Rogozin told SPIEGEL about last week, took place in Washington behind closed doors on July 22.

And the answer, given by President Barack Obama’s undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Ellen Tauscher, was reportedly unambiguous: Yes, she said. The plan has been decided upon and will be carried out.

Rogozin sees the response as conclusive evidence that the defense shield is effectively bulwark against Russia. “America is shifting the strategic balance to its advantage in that it wants to neutralize Russia’s nuclear deterrence potential,” the top-level diplomat said. “The Kremlin is fed up with being taken for fools by the Americans.”

The battle over missile shields is an old one. But it has now rendered the planned “reset” of US-Russian relations, pursued by the young and weak leaders Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a failure. Instead, a new arms race is looming.

Increasing Firepower

Evidence of that new arms race came last Tuesday, with Medvedev’s appearance in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which borders the NATO and EU members Poland and Lithuania. The president pointedly activated a radar station. Medvedev had already announced that Russia would install modern Iskander short-range missiles near the NATO border if the US didn’t back down. The missiles can be fitted with nuclear warheads and would be directed at the planned US defense positions in Europe, which are scheduled to be ready by 2020. “If NATO improves its defense shield we must unfortunately sharpen our swords,” said Rogozin.

Meanwhile, Medvedev has threatened to pull out of an April 2010 disarmament agreement pertaining to strategic launcher systems. Under that deal, both nuclear powers have committed to further reduce their number of intercontinental nuclear missiles.

Staking out Positions

[O]n the issue of missile defense systems, there was no breakthrough, even though a missile shield operated jointly by the Americans and the Russians could turn the former rivals into permanent partners. But Washington – and here Obama resembles his predecessor George W. Bush – categorically refuses to let agreements with Moscow hamper its influence. The Kremlin, meanwhile, insisted on a written guarantee that the West’s firepower would not increase to the point that Russia wouldn’t have a chance against it, even with nuclear weapons. The Russians also wanted to limit the number of American defense systems and to prevent US missiles from reaching Russian territory.

In this dispute, Europe is little more than a political football between the two powers, but could also become the victim. As in the Cold War era, the Russian missiles would be directed at European targets.

“For America, it is all about making itself impregnable,” Rogozin complained. But fears over Iran would be more successfully quashed by cooperating with Russia, he said. “We are prepared to make our radar stations in Azerbaijan and southern Russia available, if we had a partnership on equal terms,” Rogozin said.

Such a plan makes more sense, because the defense system in Poland is too far away from Iran, according to Rogozin. “With missiles it is like with ducks,” he said. “You are best off shooting them at the start, when they are flying lower and more slowly.”

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The Nixon Administration and the Indian Nuclear Program, 1972-1974

December 6th, 2011 by The National Security Archive

U.S. Post-Mortem on 1974 Indian Test Criticized Intelligence Community Performance for “Waffling Judgments” and Not Following Up Leads

 

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 367

 

Posted – December 5, 2011

 

For more information contact:
William Burr - 202/994-7000 or 
[email protected]

Washington, D.C., December 5, 2011 – India’s “peaceful nuclear explosion” on 18 May 1974 caught the United States by surprise in part because the intelligence community had not been looking for signs that a test was in the works. According to a recently declassified Intelligence Community Staff post-mortem posted today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Nixon administration policymakers had given a relatively low priority to the Indian program and there was “no sense of urgency” to determine whether New Delhi was preparing to test a nuclear device. Intelligence “production” (analysis and reporting) on the topic “fell off” during the 20 months before the test, the analysis concluded.[i]

In early 1972, however—two years before the test—the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) had predicted that India could make preparations for an underground test without detection by U.S. intelligence. Published for the first time today, the INR report warned that the U.S. government had given a “relatively modest priority to … relevant intelligence collection activities” which meant that a “concerted effort by India to conceal such preparations … may well succeed.”

The post-mortem [see document 21], the INR report [see document 2] and other new materials illustrate how intelligence priorities generally reflect the interests and priorities of top policymakers. The Nixon White House was focused on the Vietnam War and grand strategy toward Beijing and Moscow; intelligence on nuclear proliferation was a low priority. Compare, for example, the India case with that of Iraq during 2002-2003, when White House concerns encouraged—some say even compelled—intelligence producers to cherry pick raw information to demonstrate the development of WMD by the Saddam Hussein regime.

INR prepared its India report at a time when secret sources were telling U.S. intelligence that New Delhi was about to test a nuclear device. The “small spate” of reports about a test had such “congruity, apparent reliability, and seeming credibility” that they prompted a review of India’s nuclear intentions by INR and other government offices. In the end, government officials could not decide whether India had made a decision to test although a subsequent lead suggested otherwise.

According to the intelligence community’s post-mortem, obtained through a mandatory review appeal to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), one of the problems was that intelligence producers were not communicating with each other, so the “other guy” assumed that someone else was “primarily responsible for producing hard evidence of Indian intentions.” The analysis was especially critical of an August 1972 Special National Intelligence Estimate for its “waffling judgments” on Indian nuclear intentions.

Other declassified documents reproduced here from 1972 through 1974 illustrate the range of thinking on this sensitive topic:

An INR report in February 1972 concluded that it could not “rule out a test” in the near future and it was “entirely possible that one or more nuclear devices have actually been fabricated and assembled.”  All the same, “it our judgment that a decision to authorize a test is unlikely in the next few months and may well be deferred for several years.”

During March and April 1972, Canadian and British intelligence concluded that they had no evidence that India had made a decision to test a nuclear device. Nevertheless, the Canadians believed that New Delhi could produce a device in less than a year.

In June 1972, Japanese diplomat Ryohei Murata argued that the “Indians have decided to go ahead with a nuclear test” and that the Thar Desert in Rajasthan would be the test site. While basically correct, Murata’s estimate was discounted because it did not represent an official Foreign Ministry view.

Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) 31-72 published in August 1972 also held that the Indians could produce a device “within a few days to a year of a decision to do so,” but concluded that the chances that India had made a decision to test were “roughly even.”

In 1973, the Atomic Energy Commission’s scientific representative in India  told the U.S. consul in Bombay (Mumbai) that several “indications” suggested that India “may well have decided” to test a nuclear device. 

Five months before the test, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi reported that the probability of an “early test” was at a “lower level than previous years.”

The rumors that India was going to test emerged in the wake of the South Asian crisis, when the Nixon White House tilted toward Pakistan, India’s archrival. Relations between New Delhi and Washington were already cool during the Nixon administration which treated India as a relatively low priority.  Henry Kissinger’s secret trip to China underlined India’s low priority by suggesting that if New Delhi ever faced a crisis with Beijing it could not count on Washington for help.  Relations became truly frosty during the balance of 1971 when New Delhi signed a friendship treaty with Moscow and India and Pakistan went to war. Later Nixon and Kissinger wanted to improve the relationship, but India’s nuclear intentions were not on their agenda. That India had refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was a non-issue for Nixon and Kissinger, who had little use for the NPT and treated nuclear proliferation as less than secondary. While the State Department cautioned India against nuclear tests in late 1970 [see document 6], concern did not rise to the top of policy hill.[2]

Whatever impact the events of 1971 may have had on India’s decision to test a nuclear device that decision was soon to be made. According to George Perkovich, an authority on the Indian nuclear program at theCarnegie Endowment for International Peace, “it may be conjectured that support in principle for developing a nuclear explosive device was solidified by late 1971, that concentrated work on building the vital components began in spring 1972, and that formal prime ministerial approval to make final preparations for a PNE occurred in September 1972.”[3] In this context, the reports collected by U.S. intelligence in late 1971 and early 1972 about a possible test may have been good examples of the old chestnut that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Yet, the analysts who wrote SNIE 31-72 decided that the smoke had no significance because they saw only a 50-50 chance that New Delhi had made a decision to test (even though New Delhi was closing in on a decision).

Trombay, the site of India’s first atomic reactor (Aspara), the CIRUS reactor provided by Canada, and a plutonium reprocessing facility, as photographed by a KH-7/GAMBIT satellite during February 1966. Provided under lax safeguards, the CIRUS reactor produced the spent fuel that India converted into plutonium for the May 1974 test (the heavy water needed to run the reactor was provided by the United States, also under weak safeguards).

 

Raja Rammana, director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center at Trombay, played a key role in the production, development, and testing of the May 1974 Indian “peaceful nuclear explosion.” In the Spring of 1973, John Pinajian, the Atomic Energy Commission’s representative in India, became suspicious that India was preparing for a nuclear test in part because Rammana rebuffed his requests for access to BARC so he could conduct an experiment which had been approved by the Indian Atomic Energy Commission (seedocument 17A)

The Elephant in the Room: The Soviet Union and the Indian Nuclear Program

For more information on India and the Cold War superpowers, see an extraordinary collection of Hungarian Foreign Ministry documents, edited and translated by Balazs Szalontai, with a substantive “Working Paper,” recently published by the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.

Drawing on archival material from the 1960s through the 1980s, “The Elephant in the Room” provides significant insight into the Soviet Union’s nuclear relations with India. While Moscow was carefully to sell only safeguarded nuclear technology to New Delhi, the priority of maintaining good relations with India sometimes put nonproliferation goals in the backseat.

For example, before the May 1974 “peaceful nuclear explosion” the Soviets had tried to discourage the Indians from testing–confirming what has been previously suspected–but once the latter had tested the Soviets did not criticize them. When Canada stopped providing reactor fuel and equipment as a penalty for the test (which Canadian technology had facilitated), the Soviets stepped in to fill the gap.

Moreover, when Soviet-Pakistan relations deteriorated after the invasion of Pakistan, Moscow’s anger was so intense that it gave the “green light” to Indian military planning for a strike against Pakistani nuclear facilities. The documents also suggest that it was not until the mid-1980s, when U.S.-Soviet and Sino-Soviet détente were on the upswing, that the Soviets became concerned about India as a nuclear proliferation problem.

 

Documents

Document 1: “Various recent intelligence reports”

State Department cable 3088 to Embassy New Delhi, 6 January 1972, Secret

Source: U.S. National Archives, Record Group 59, Subject-Numeric Files 1970-1973 [hereinafter RG 59, SN 70-73] Def 12-1 India

For years, the U.S. intelligence establishment had been monitoring India’s nuclear program for signs of a decision to produce nuclear weapons, but in late 1971 and early 1972 it had to consider the possibility that a nuclear test was impending.  Recently collected intelligence about an imminent test led the State Department to send a query to the U.S. Embassy in India for its assessment.

Document 2: “A Concerted Effort by India to Conceal Preparations May Well Succeed”

State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research Intelligence Note, “India to Go Nuclear?” 14 January 1972, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73, Def 18-8 India

Before the Embassy sent a full response, a team of analysts at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research produced their evaluation of varied report about India’s nuclear intentions: that it would test a device that month, sometime in 1972, or that the government was undertaking a program to test a “peaceful nuclear explosive.”  According to INR, India had the capability to produce some 20-30 weapons, and it could easily test a device in an underground site, such as an abandoned mine, that would be hard to discover.  Indeed, because the U.S. government had given a “relatively modest priority to … relevant intelligence collection activities” a “concerted effort by India to conceal such preparations … may well succeed.”  What would motivate India to test, the analysts opined, were domestic political pressures and concerns about China and Pakistan.  Nevertheless, the INR analysts saw a test as having more importance as a demonstration of “scientific and technological prowess”; the strategic significance would be “negligible” because India was “years away” from developing a “credible” deterrence against China “its only prospective enemy with a nuclear capability.”

Document 3: “Straws” Suggesting an Underground Test

U.S. Embassy Airgram A-20 to State Department, “India’s Nuclear Intentions,” 21 January 1972, Secret, Excised copy

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73, Def 18-8 India

In its response to the Department’s query, the Embassy identified a number of reasons that made it unlikely that India would a test a nuclear device in the coming weeks, but saw “straws” suggesting an underground test “sometime in future.” For example, the Government of India had publicly acknowledged ongoing work on the problem of safe underground testing .  Moreover, India might have an interest in making its nuclear capabilities known to “enemies.” Whatever the Indians decided, external pressure would have no impact on a highly nationalist state and society: “we see nothing US or international community can presently do to influence GOI policy directions in atomic field.”

One of the sources mentioned, apparently a CIA asset (the reference is excised), had a connection with the Prime Minister’s secretariat. This may be the same informant, future Prime Minister Moraji Desai, who provided information to the CIA about Prime Minister Gandhi’s intentions during the recent South Asian crisis and whose cover was subsequently blown through press leaks published by Jack Anderson.  He later told the CIA to “go to hell.”[4]

Document 4: “Increased Status of a Nuclear Power”

Memorandum from Ray Cline, Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, enclosing “Possibility of an Indian Nuclear Test,” 23 February 1972, Secret

Source: U.S. State Department, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976 Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 228

At the request of Undersecretary of State John Irwin, INR prepared an assessment which included a detailed review of Indian’s nuclear facilities and their capacity to produce weapons-grade plutonium as well as capabilities to deliver nuclear weapons to target. While India had signed agreements with Canada and the United States that nuclear reactors were to be used for peaceful purposes, the Indians were likely to claim that an explosive device for “peaceful” purposes was consistent with the agreements.  Whether the Indians were going to test in the near future was in doubt. INR could not “rule out” one in the near future.  Further, the “strongest incentive [to test] may well be the desire for the increased status of a nuclear power.”   All the same, “it our judgment that a decision to authorize a test is unlikely in the next few months and may well be deferred for several years.” Weighing against a test were the financial and diplomatic costs, for example, “India’s full awareness that assistance from the US and other countries (possibly including the USSR) would be jeopardized.”

Document 5: Trudeau’s Warning

U.S. Embassy Canada cable 391 to State Department, “India’s Nuclear Intentions,” 7 March 1972, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 1 India

With Canada’s role as the supplier of the CANDU reactor, senior Canadian officials had close working relationships with their Indian counterpart. Lauren Gray, the chairman of Canada’s Atomic Energy Board, had recently visited India and U.S. embassy officials interviewed him closely on his thinking about Indian nuclear developments.  Having spoken with Homi Nusserwanji Sethna, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and other officials, Gray believed that Sethna opposed a test and that as long as Sethna and Indira Gandhi were in office “there was no chance” that India would test a nuclear device, which would take three to four years to prepare.  Gray was mistaken, but was correct to declare that if a decision to test was made, Sethna would “undoubtedly” head the project.  The embassy’s science attaché, Miller N. Hudson, met with other officials with the AECB who had a different take on Indian capabilities; based on their assessment of Indian’s ability to produce weapons grade plutonium, they argued that it would take no more than a year to produce a device.

The Canadians pointed out that about 18 months earlier there had been a “blackout” of statistical information on plutonium production. That led Canadian Prime Minister Pierre-Eliot Trudeau followed by other officials to “directly” warn the “Indians that Canadian plutonium should not be used for any kind of nuclear device.”

Document 6: Unlikely to Test in the “Near Future”

State Department cable 40378 to U.S. Embassy Ottawa, “Indian Nuclear Intentions,” 9 March 1972, Secret

Source:  RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 1 India

State Department officers were also consulting with their counterparts at the Canadian embassy in Washington.  During a discussion with the embassy counselor, country desk director David Schneider opined that Indian was unlikely to test a device in the “near future” but he wanted Ottawa’s prognosis. Schneider was also interested in whether the Soviets, with their close relationship with India, might be able to use their influence to “deter” a test.  If India tested, the U.S. could respond with a “strong statement,” but whether “punitive” measures would be taken would depend on whether the test “violated existing agreements.” In October 1970, the State Department had cautioned the Indians that a “peaceful nuclear explosion” was indistinguishable from a weapons test and that the test of a nuclear device would be incompatible with U.S.-Indian nuclear assistance agreements.  That the State Department issued this warning provides a telling contrast with Canada, which treated its admonition as a head of state issue.

Document 7: No Technical or Fiscal Obstacle to a Test

U.S. Embassy Canada cable 430 to State Department, “India’s Nuclear Intentions on South Asia Situation,” 14 March 1972, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 1 India

Elaborating on his earlier cable and responding to the general issues raised by the Department’s 9 March message, science attaché Hudson questioned Gray’s evaluation of Sethna, suggesting that by combining “guile” and “technical proficiency,” the latter could easily have “easily misled” the Canadian.  Based on consultations with a variety of Canadian insiders with knowledge of and experience with the Indian nuclear program, the Embassy saw no technical or fiscal barriers to an Indian test. Moreover, any pressure on India not to test would increase the “likelihood” of that happening.

Document 8: “Leaving Their Options Open”

State Department cable 50634 to U.S. Embassy Canada, “Indian Nuclear Intentions,” 24 March 1972, Secret

Source:  RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 1 India

Further discussions with the Canadian embassy counselor disclosed Ottawa’s view that it had no evidence of Indian intentions to test a nuclear weapon or a PNE. The Indians were “leaving their options open.”  If they decided to test, however, it would be “impossible” for them to move forward “without revealing some indication of their intentions.”

Document 9: British See No Evidence of a Decision

State Department cable 59655 to U.S. Embassy United Kingdom, “Indian Nuclear Intentions, 7 April 1972, Secret

Source:  RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 1 India

The British Government was taking the same view as the Canadians, seeing no evidence that the Indians had made a decision to test, although they had the “capability.”

Document 10:  “Apparent Reliability and Seeming Credibility”

State Department cable 69551 to U.S. Embassy United Kingdom, “Indian Nuclear Intentions, 22 April 1972, Secret

Source:  RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 1 India

The Canadian embassy had asked the State Department for information on the intelligence reports from earlier in the year that an Indian nuclear test was “imminent.”  The State Department denied the request, but informed the Canadians that the reports were so numerous and their “congruity, apparent reliability, and seeming credibility” so striking that it had become necessary to update official thinking about Indian intentions.

Documents 11A-C: “The Indians Have Decided to Go Ahead”

A. State Department cable 113523 to U.S. Embassy India, “Japanese Views Regarding Indian Nuclear Plans,” 23 June 1972, Secret

B.  U.S. Mission Geneva cable 2755 to State Department, “Japanese-Pakistani Conversations Regarding Indian Nuclear Plans,” 26 June 1972, Secret

C. U.S. Embassy Tokyo cable 67912 to State Department, “Japanese View Regarding Indian Nuclear Plans,” 27 June 1972, Secret

Source:  RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 1 India

This group of telegrams discloses that one Japanese diplomat made a good guess about what was happening in India, but also illuminates the problem of verifying intelligence information. In response to a request from the State Department, Ryohei Murata[5], an official at the n officer from the Japanese embassy, reported that the Japanese government believed that for prestige reasons and as a “warning” to others, the “Indians have decided to go ahead with a nuclear test” which could occur at “any time;” The Thar Desert in Rajasthan would be the test site. Murata was correct on the latter point and close to correct on the decision: only weeks before the Indian AEC had begun work on building the components for a test device.[6] The cables that followed this report, however, raised doubts about Murata’s assessment.

Document 12: Request for a NSSM

Henry Kissinger to President Nixon, “Proposed NSSM on the Implications of an Indian Nuclear Test,” n.d., with cover memorandum from Richard T. Kennedy, 4 July 1972, Secret

Source: Nixon Presidential Library, National Security Council Institutional Files, box H-192, NSSM-156 [1 of 2]

Months after the initial flurry of intelligence reports, national security assistant Henry Kissinger asked President Nixon to approve a national security study memorandum [NSSM] on the implications of an Indian nuclear test for U.S. interests.  The next day, 5 July 1972, Kissinger sent the agencies a request for a study which became NSSM 156.

Document 13: No Evidence of a Decision

U.S. Embassy India cable 9293 to State Department, “Indian Nuclear Intentions,” 26 July 1972, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73 Def 1 India

In an update of its thinking about the possibility of a test, the Embassy acknowledged that India had the “technical know-how and possibly materials to develop [a] simple nuclear device within period of months after GOI decision to do so.”  Nevertheless, it saw no evidence that a decision had been made to test a device. Moreover, capabilities to deliver nuclear weapons were limited, with no plans in sight to “develop [a] missile launch system.”

Document 14: “Roughly Even”

Special National Intelligence Estimate 31-72, “Indian Nuclear Developments and their Likely Implications,”3 August 1972, Secret

Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976 Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 298

Prepared as part of the NSSM 156 policy review, the 1974 post-mortem criticized this SNIE as “marred by waffled judgments.”  The SNIE concluded that the chances of India making a decision to test were “roughly even,” but the post-mortem analysis [see document 21] argued that based on its own findings,  the conclusion ought to have been 60-40 in favor of a decision to test.  In its analysis of the pros and cons of testing, the SNIE found that the “strongest factors impelling India to set off a test are: the “belief that it would build up [its] international prestige; demonstrate India’s importance as an Asian power; overawe its immediate South Asian neighbors; and bring enhanced popularity and public support to the regime which achieved it.”  The drafters further noted that a test would be “extremely popular at home, where national pride is riding high” and that supporters of a test believed that it would make the world see India as “one of the world’s principal powers.” The arguments against a test included adverse reactions from foreign governments that provided economic assistance, but the estimate noted that foreign reactions were “becoming less important” to India.

Document 15: “No Firm Intelligence”

Memorandum of Conversation, “Indian Nuclear Developments,” 21 September 1972, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73, Def 12 India

A meeting between British Foreign Office and State Department officials on the Indian nuclear problem occurred the same month that Indian Prime Minister Gandhi approved the “final preparations for a PNE.”[7]  Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Christopher T. Van Hollen (the father of the future Maryland Congressman) and his colleagues followed the approach taken by the SNIE, which was close to that taken by the British Joint Intelligence Committee.   According to country director David Schneider, the “odds were about even” that India would make a decision, but once it was made, India could test very quickly.  There was “no firm intelligence” that a “go-ahead signal” to prepare for a test had been made.   Schneider reviewed bilateral and multilateral steps, proposed in the NSSM 156 study, that the U.S. and others could take to try to discourage an Indian test and the range of reactions that would be available if India went ahead.  A “weak” U.S. reaction, Schneider observed, would suggest that Washington would “acquiesce” if other countries followed India’s example.

Document 16: “A Set-Back to Nonproliferation Efforts”

H. Daniel Brewster to Herman Pollack, “Indian Nuclear Developments,” 16 January 1973, enclosing “Summary,” 1 September 1972, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73, AE 6 India

The interagency group prepared a response to NSSM 156 on 1 September 1972 and it was sent to Kissinger at whose desk it would languish, suggesting the low priority that the Nixon White House gave to nuclear proliferation issues.  The summary of the study reproduced here includes the conclusion that an Indian test would be “a set-back to nonproliferation efforts” and that Washington should “do what [it] can to avert or delay” one.   Thus, recommendations included a number of unilateral and multilateral actions that the United States government could take, noting that “given the poor state” of Indo-American relations, an “overly visible” U.S. effort would more likely speed up an Indian decision to test a device,  Even non-US efforts were likely not to “be per se effective.”

Documents 17A-B: India “May Well Have Decided”

A. Bombay consulate cable 705 to Department of State, “India’s Nuclear Position,” 4 April 1973, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 70-73, Def 1 India

B.  U.S. Embassy India cable 5797 to State Department forwarding Bombay consulate cable 983, “India’s Nuclear Position,” 17 May 1973, Confidential

Source: AAD 1973

The possibility that the GOI had made a decision to test surfaced in a message from the U.S. consulate in Bombay (Mumbai) signed off by Consul David M. Bane.  The latter reported that Oak Ridge Laboratory scientist John J. Pinajian, then serving as the Atomic Energy Commission’s scientific representative in India, had pointed out several “indications”—notably his lack of access to key individuals and facilities in India’s atomic establishment–suggesting that India “may well have decided” to test a nuclear device.  While stating that Pinajian’s evaluation was “subjective and impressionistic,” Consul Bane agreed that the atomic energy establishment did not want this American poking around because he might find out too much. Bane further observed that a nuclear test “in the not too distant future” could meet the GOI’s political goals and help attain “greater recognition major power status.”

Raja Rammana, the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center, one of the organizations that Pinajian was trying to contact, played a key role in directing the PNE project so his suspicions were on target.[8]  In any event, a month later, Pinajian got some access to BARC, but noticed the absence of personnel responsible for experimental work.  Moreover, he was getting cooperation from the Institute for Fundamental Research to conduct an experiment.  Whether Pinajian remained suspicious needs to be learned, but the authors of the 1974 post-mortem pointed to the Consulate report as evidence that should have been considered (although it is worth noting that Secretary of State William Rogers was aware of the report and asked for more information).

Document 18: “The Likelihood of an Early Test [at] a Lower Level than Previous Years”

U.S. Embassy India cable 0743 to State Department, “India’s Nuclear Intentions,” 18 January 1974, Confidential

Source: http://static.history.state.gov/frus/frus1969-76ve08/pdf/d156.pdf

The embassy concluded that “deeper economic problems,” among other considerations militated against a nuclear test in the near future, even though the Indian government had the capabilities to produce and test a device.  While there were no rumors about a test as there had been in 1972, “we know little about relevant internal government debate.” All in all, the embassy believed that economic conditions “tip the likelihood of an early test to a lower level than previous years.”  Russell Jack Smith, previously the deputy director for intelligence at the CIA, and then serving as special assistant to the ambassador (station chief), was one of the officials who signed off on this cable.[9]

Document 19: “Rebound to their Credit Domestically”

U.S. Embassy India cable 6598 to State Department, “India’s Nuclear Explosion: Why Now?” 18 May 1974, Secret

Source: AAD

Having written off an early test, the day that it took place the Embassy scrambled to come up with an explanation. Deputy Chief of Mission David Schneider signed off on the telegram because Moynihan was in London. While the Embassy had no insight on the decision-making, it saw domestic politics and “psychological” explanations for the test: the need to offset domestic “gloom” and the need for India to “be taken seriously.” According to the telegram, “the decision will appeal to nationalist feeling and will be widely welcomed by the Indian populace.”

Document 20: “Enough Plutonium for Some 50-70 Nuclear Weapons”

State Department cable 104613 to Consulate, Jerusalem, “India Nuclear Explosion,” 18 May 1974, Secret

Source: State Department MDR release

The day of the test, INR rushed to update Kissinger, then in the Middle East negotiating with Israel and Syria.  INR provided background on what had happened, how the United States and Canada had inadvertently helped India produce plutonium for the test device, earlier U.S. and Canadian demarches against “peaceful nuclear explosions,” and India’s capabilities to produce and deliver nuclear weapons.  The report did not state whether India had made a decision to produce weapons, but it forecast that two large unsafeguarded reactors under construction could eventually “produce enough plutonium for 50-70 nuclear weapons.”

Document 21: “No Sense of Urgency in the Intelligence Community”

Intelligence Community Staff, Post Mortem Report, An Examination of the Intelligence Community’s Performance Before the Indian Nuclear Test of May 1974, July 1974, Top Secret, Excised copy

Source: Mandatory review request; release by ISCAP

After the test, policymakers in and out of the intelligence establishment wanted to know why the CIA and its sister agencies had missed it. As Jeffrey Richelson has observed, this was not an “epic failure,” but it was serious enough to produce a post-mortem investigation to determine what had gone wrong.[10]  The partial release of the July 1974 post-mortem provides some answers, even if the full picture is denied because of massive excisions.  Readers already know from the previous release published on the Archive’s Web site that two problems were especially important: 1) the lack of priority given to the Indian nuclear program for intelligence collection (further confirmed by the January 1972 INR report), and 2) the lack of communication between intelligence producers (analysts and estimators) and intelligence collectors (spies, NRO, etc.).  The low priority meant that intelligence production “fell off” during the 20 months before the test (from October 1972 to May 1974).  Moreover, there may have been a lack of communication between producers, with the “other guy” assuming that someone else was “primarily responsible for producing hard evidence of Indian intentions.”

Trying to explain the lack of follow-up on relevant “raw intelligence,” e.g. Pinjanians’s surmises about the Indian nuclear program, the post-mortem saw no “sense of urgency” in the intelligence community, which may have “reflected the attitudes of the policymakers.” Another problem was that the intelligence community focused more on “capabilities” than on “intentions,” which implicitly raised the difficult issue of breaching the nuclear establishment or Indira Gandhi’s small circle of decision-making.

The substantive discussion of satellite photography has been excised, but the recommendations were left intact, including the point that “The failure of production elements to ask NPIC [National Photographic Intelligence Center] to exploit photography that had been specifically requested from the National Reconnaissance Office suggests a weakness in the imagery requirements system.”  The implication was that NRO satellites had imagery of the Thar Desert that could have been scrutinized for suspect activity, but no one asked NPIC to look into it.  In any event, this and other failures fed into a number of recommendations, including the broader point that nuclear proliferation intelligence receive “much higher priority.”

Document 22: “India may not yet have decided whether to proceed with …. [the] development of a weapons capability”

Special National Intelligence Estimate 4-1-74, “Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,”23 August 1974, Top Secret, Excised Copy

Source: MDR release by CIA

A few months after the Indian test, the intelligence community prepared an overall estimate of the global nuclear proliferation situation.  Such an estimate had not been prepared since the 1960s, no doubt because of the White House’s lack of interest. This estimate, SNIE 4-1-74, has been released before but this version includes more information, mainly a section on the Indian nuclear program, which had previously been withheld.  While finding it “likely” that India would launch a covert program to produce a few weapons, the analysts were not sure that such a decision had been made and suggested that Moscow or Washington might be able to persuade the Indians from moving in that direction.  The hypothesis about a covert program was mistaken because the Government of India did not make a basic decision to produce nuclear weapons until the 1980s.

Document 23: Whether the “Intelligence Community is Adequately Focused on Proliferation Matters”

Intelligence Community Staff, Director of Performance Evaluation and Improvement, to Deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence for the Intelligence Community, “Nuclear Proliferation and the Intelligence Community,” 12 October 1976, Top Secret, Excised copy

Source: CIA Research Tool [CREST], National Archives Library, College Park, MD

As this report indicates, the recommendations made in the 1974 post-mortem had little impact. The authors identified a basic disconnect between “national level users”—the top policymakers—and those who “set analytical and collection priorities in the intelligence community.” The latter were not sure how high a priority that the policymakers had given to nuclear proliferation intelligence.  Moreover, a study for the Defense Department produced by MIT chemistry professor (and future DCI) John Deutch questioned whether the intelligence community “is adequately focused and tasked on proliferation matters.” This would be a recurring problem for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Notes

[i] For background, see Jeffrey Richelson, Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006), 218-235.

[1] For background, see Jeffrey Richelson, Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006), 218-235.

[2] For U.S.-India relations during the Nixon administration, see Dennix Kux, India and the United States: Estranged Democracies, 1941-1991 (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1993), 279-314, and Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb, 162-166.  For the impact of Kissinger’s trip, see Andrew B. Kennedy, “India’s Nuclear Odyssey: Implicit Umbrellas, Diplomatic Disappointments, and the Bomb,” International Security 36 (2011): 136-139.

[3] Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb, 172.

[4] Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms & the CIA (New York: Knopf, 1979), 206-207; Mark Feldstein, Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), 171.

[5] Murata would later rise to vice foreign minister and in 2009 revealed significant details about secret U.S.-Japanese understandings on nuclear weapons issues during the Cold War.http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090630a2.html

[6] Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb, 171.

[7] Ibid. 172.

[8] Ibid, 172.

[9] Russell J. Smith, The Unknown CIA: My Three Decades with the Agency (Washington, D.C.: Pergamon-Brassey, 1989, 124.

[10] Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, 233.

Transitory friendships: US vulnerable over Afghan supply

-“There are processes which are critically important for Russia – which are about Russia’s national security. One of them is NATO expansion to Russian borders and the fact that Washington goes ahead with a robust missile shield program in Europe without taking into consideration Russia’s concerns, gives Moscow the right to use any leverage it has to be heard by its partner.”

NATO’s recent deadly air attack on Pakistan has put the US mission in Afghanistan in danger with supplies cut-off, meaning Washington will soon have to turn to other transit states to keep its military effort going.
Russia is among the alternatives and this could mean some well-timed diplomatic leverage for Moscow.

After the deadly friendly-fire attack last week that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and injured many more, Washington has attempted to smother the scandal.

“I would like to extend my most sincere condolences,” mumbled the US ambassador in Pakistan Cameron Munter.

But for Pakistan, Washington’s condolences were not enough.

Clearly, supplies are what keep a war running. So since Islamabad is fed up with the American war on the neighborly territory, it simply cut off one of the NATO’s major supply routes, thus putting all alliance’s operations in Afghanistan in danger.

“The repeated incursions by the US military in Pakistan really left no choice – and also the humiliation that the Pakistani military faced in front of its own soldiers and the Pakistani people – left no choice before the government this time cut off  the supply line,” argued Ahmed Quraishi, the president of PakNationalists Forum in Islamabad.

With relations between the US and Pakistan as unstable as ever, in order to keep the war in Afghanistan running, NATO relies more on its other major supply route coming from the north.

The northern supply network was started a few years ago, when Russia agreed to provide its territory and airspace for the transit of non-lethal supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan. It proved to be a very reliable route, more reliable than Pakistan, now it accounts for half of NATO’s non-lethal supplies. On trucks, by railroad and air, supplies travel through Russian territory from Europe and from Russia’s Far East all the way to Afghanistan.

And the reliance on this route is set to expand.

In the last three years, Russia’s co-operation on Afghanistan has been key to NATO operations there.

Speaking in a strictly personal capacity, Michael Vlahos, professor of strategy at the United States Naval War College, confessed to RT that “The US has a very tenuous kind of placement in Afghanistan and it is highly vulnerable – to the Pakistanis. But it is more vulnerable no to Russia. If Russia were to withdraw its permission for the US to use its rail lines we would be in a very difficult position in Afghanistan.”

The Northern supply network could now be in danger because of a failure in diplomacy.

Moscow says: because Washington turned down all of its proposals on the missile defense issue, Russia might have to resort to other arguments – including its co-operation with NATO on Afghanistan.

“There are processes which are critically important for Russia – which are about Russia’s national security,” outlined Yury Krupnov, Institute for Demography, Migration and Regulation Development. “One of them is NATO expansion to Russian borders and the fact that Washington goes ahead with a robust missile shield program in Europe without taking into consideration Russia’s concerns, gives Moscow the right to use any leverage it has to be heard by its partner.”

But even the mere possibility that Russia could cut off the northern supply route, threatens the viability of all Western operations in Afghanistan.

NATO risks leaving almost 140,000 of its troops in Afghanistan without vital supplies if diplomacy does not win the day. With Pakistan, it is about people there being fed up. With Russia it is about their national security. If Washington does not seriously address the concerns of its partners, even the best partnerships can fade.

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BEIJING: Creation of CELAC reflects the region’s growing influence in the trend toward multi-polarization of world governance.

The official creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) at the third Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Dec 2 is a landmark event for the region.

With a number of emerging economies and a growing influence in the global governance process, it is no longer a traditionally marginalized peripheral region and CELAC reflects the region’s efforts to push for deeper Latin American integration and its growing influence as an important force in the trend toward multi-polarization of the international political and economic landscape.

Thanks to the region’s rich resources, huge development potential and rising international status, major powers have been re-evaluating the strategic position of Latin America since the outbreak of the global financial crisis. Their main goal is to seize strategically scarce resources and markets, and to try and secure the support of Latin American countries on global challenges, such as climate change and reform of the international financial system.

The founding of CELAC is a major breakthrough in regional integration and will help members resolve misunderstandings, differences and tensions and will strengthen their ability to prevent external interference in the region.

CELAC will take on the role as “regional spokesman” at ministerial talks at key international forums, according to The Caracas Declaration, a key document signed at the new bloc’s founding summit.

By establishing their own communication and coordination mechanism, Latin American and Caribbean countries will be able to strengthen regional dialogue and cooperation and improve their voice and influence in global governance; and they will be able to explore new paths of development, resolve differences and frictions within the region, and respond to new challenges brought about by the rapid transformation of the international landscape.

As a regional body that excludes the United States, CELAC can become an alternative to the Organization of American States that is dominated by Washington. Most Latin American countries want to escape or at least weaken the overwhelming influence of the US.

Especially since the rise of Latin American leftists, a wave of “removing Americanization” is growing in all fields from ideology to economy, finance, trade, security and diplomacy. The US-advocated “Free Trade Area of the Americas”, after all, ended in failure and the Obama administration’s efforts to adjust its Latin American policy have achieved little progress.

Cooperation within the region can help the group cope with the international economic crisis collectively, and promote complementary cooperation in trade, energy, agriculture, social development, finance, infrastructure construction, climate change and other areas.

However, the operation and development of CELAC still faces many challenges.

The members have not yet reached a complete consensus over the positioning of function and the operating framework is also under discussion, including the direction of mechanization, the source of funding, and how to coordinate with other sub-regional organizations.

The interference of external forces, trade protectionism within Latin America and territorial disputes are also potential obstacles for the future development of CELAC.

In addition, the big regional countries have different priorities in regional integration. Brazil regards the Mercosur and the Union of South American Nations as important, while Mexico, which is under the framework of North American Free Trade Agreement, is highly dependent on its trade with the US.

Nevertheless, the creation of CELAC is in line with the overall interests of Latin America.

China has been actively developing its relationship with Latin America, and is willing to strengthen dialogue, consultation and cooperation with relevant organizations in various fields. China has established a ministerial-level dialogue mechanism with the Rio Group, and has become an observer of the Latin American Parliament, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, and Latin American Integration Association.

The relations between China and Latin America are constantly moving from the bilateral to global level, and mutual contact and cooperation is continually being enhanced.

China expects steady and sound development of CELAC, and hopes it can become a major platform for China-Latin American regional dialogue and cooperation in the future.

The author is an associate professor with the Institute of Latin American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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The historical circumstances created by the implosion of contemporary capitalism requires the radical left, in the North as well as the South, to be bold in formulating its political alternative to the existing system. The purpose of this paper is to show why audacity is required and what it means.

Why Audacity?

1. Contemporary capitalism is a capitalism of generalized monopolies. By this I mean that monopolies are now no longer islands (albeit important) in a sea of other still relatively autonomous companies, but are an integrated system. Therefore, these monopolies now tightly control all the systems of production. Small and medium enterprises, and even the large corporations that are not strictly speaking oligopolies are locked in a network of control put in place by the monopolies. Their degree of autonomy has shrunk to the point that they are nothing more than subcontractors of the monopolies.

This system of generalized monopolies is the product of a new phase of centralization of capital in the countries of the Triad (the United States, Western and Central Europe, and Japan) that took place during the 1980s and 1990s.

The generalized monopolies now dominate the world economy. ‘Globalization’ is the name they have given to the set of demands by which they exert their control over the productive systems of the periphery of global capitalism (the world beyond the partners of the triad). It is nothing other than a new stage of imperialism.

2. The capitalism of generalized and globalized monopolies is a system that guarantees these monopolies a monopoly rent levied on the mass of surplus value (transformed into profits) that capital extracts from the exploitation of labour. To the extent that these monopolies are operating in the peripheries of the global system, monopoly rent is imperialist rent. The process of capital accumulation – that defines capitalism in all its successive historical forms – is therefore driven by the maximization of monopoly/imperialist rent seeking.

This shift in the centre of gravity of the accumulation of capital is the source of the continuous concentration of income and wealth to the benefit of the monopolies, largely monopolized by the oligarchies (‘plutocracies’) that govern oligopolistic groups at the expense of the remuneration of labour and even the remuneration of non-monopolistic capital.

3. This imbalance in continued growth is itself, in turn, the source of the financialization of the economic system. By this I mean that a growing portion of the surplus cannot be invested in the expansion and deepening of systems of production and therefore the ‘financial investment’ of this excessive surplus becomes the only option for continued accumulation under the control of the monopolies.

The implementation of specific systems by capital permits the financialization to operate in different ways:

  1. the subjugation of the management of firms to the principle of ‘shareholder value’

  2. the substitution of pension systems funded by capitalization (Pension Funds) by systems of pension distribution

  3. the adoption of the principle of ‘flexible exchange rates’

  4. the abandonment of the principle of central banks determining the interest rate – the price of ‘liquidity’ – and the transfer of this responsibility to the ‘market.’

Financialization has transferred the major responsibility for control of the reproduction of the system of accumulation to some 30 giant banks of the triad. What are euphemistically called ‘markets’ are nothing other than the places where the strategies of these actors who dominate the economic scene are deployed.

In turn this financialization, which is responsible for the growth of inequality in income distribution (and fortunes), generates the growing surplus on which it feeds. The ‘financial investments’ (or rather the investments in financial speculation) continue to grow at dizzying speeds, not commensurate with growth in GDP (which is therefore becoming largely fictitious) or with investment in real production.

The explosive growth of financial investment requires – and fuels – among other things debt in all its forms, especially sovereign debt. When the governments in power claim to be pursuing the goal of ‘debt reduction,’ they are deliberately lying. For the strategy of financialized monopolies requires the growth in debt (which they seek, rather than combat) as a way to absorb the surplus profit of monopolies. The austerity policies imposed ‘to reduce debt’ have indeed resulted (as intended) in increasing its volume.

4. It is this system – commonly called ‘neoliberal,’ the system of generalized monopoly capitalism, ‘globalized’ (imperialist) and financialized (of necessity for its own reproduction) – that is imploding before our eyes. This system, apparently unable to overcome its growing internal contradictions, is doomed to continue its wild ride.

The ‘crisis’ of the system is due to its own ‘success.’ Indeed so far the strategy deployed by monopolies has always produced the desired results: ‘austerity’ plans and the so-called social (in fact anti-social) downsizing plans that are still being imposed, in spite of resistance and struggles. To this day the initiative remains in the hands of the monopolies (‘the markets’) and their political servants (the governments that submit to the demands of the so-called ‘market’).

5. Under these conditions monopoly capital has openly declared war on workers and peoples. This declaration is formulated in the sentence ‘liberalism is not negotiable.’ Monopoly capital will definitely continue its wild ride and not slow down. The criticism of ‘regulation’ that I make below is grounded in this fact.

We are not living in a historical moment in which the search for a ‘social compromise’ is a possible option. There have been such moments in the past, such as the post-war social compromise between capital and labour specific to the social democratic state in the West, the actually existing socialism in the East, and the popular national projects of the South. But our present historical moment is not the same. So the conflict is between monopoly capital and workers and people who are invited to an unconditional surrender. Defensive strategies of resistance under these conditions are ineffective and bound to be eventually defeated. In the face of war declared by monopoly capital, workers and peoples must develop strategies that allow them to take the offensive.

The period of social war is necessarily accompanied by the proliferation of international political conflicts and military interventions of the imperialist powers of the triad. The strategy of ‘military control of the planet’ by the armed forces of the United States and its subordinate NATO allies is ultimately the only means by which the imperialist monopolies of the triad can expect to continue their domination over the peoples, nations and the states of the South.

Monopolies Declare War

Faced with this challenge of the war declared by the monopolies, what alternatives are being proposed?

First response: ‘market regulation’ (financial and otherwise). These are initiatives that monopolies and governments claim they are pursuing. In fact it is only empty rhetoric, designed to mislead public opinion. These initiatives cannot stop the mad rush for financial return that is the result of the logic of accumulation controlled by monopolies. They are therefore a false alternative.

Second response: a return to the post-war models. These responses feed a triple nostalgia: (i) the rebuilding of a true ‘social democracy’ in the West, (ii) the resurrection of ‘socialisms’ founded on the principles that governed those of the 20th century, (iii) the return to formulas of popular nationalism in the peripheries of the South. These nostalgias imagine it is possible to ‘roll back’ monopoly capitalism, forcing it to regress to what it was in 1945. But history never allows such returns to the past. Capitalism must be confronted as it is today, not as what we would have wished it to be by imagining the blocking of its evolution. However, these longings continue to haunt large segments of the left throughout the world.

Third response: the search for a ‘humanist’ consensus. I define this pious wish in the following way: the illusion that a consensus among fundamentally conflicting interests would be possible. Naïve ecology movements, among others, share this illusion.

Fourth response: the illusions of the past. These illusions invoke ‘specificity’ and ‘right to difference’ without bothering to understand their scope and meaning. The past has already answered the questions for the future. These ‘culturalisms’ can take many para-religious or ethnic forms. Theocracies and ethnocracies become convenient substitutes for the democratic social struggles that have been evacuated from their agenda.

Fifth response: priority of ‘personal freedom.’ The range of responses based on this priority, considered the exclusive ‘supreme value,’ includes in its ranks the diehards of ‘representative electoral democracy,’ which they equate with democracy itself. The formula separates the democratization of societies from social progress, and even tolerates a de facto association with social regression in order not to risk discrediting democracy, now reduced to the status of a tragic farce.

But there are even more dangerous forms of this position. I am referring here to some common ‘post modernist’ currents (such as Toni Negri in particular) who imagine that the individual has already become the subject of history, as if communism, which will allow the individual to be emancipated from alienation and actually become the subject of history, were already here!

It is clear that all of the responses above, including those of the right (such as the ‘regulations’ that do not affect private property monopolies) still find powerful echoes among a majority of the people on the left.

6. The war declared by the generalized monopoly capitalism of contemporary imperialism has nothing to fear from the false alternatives that I have just outlined.

So what is to be done?

This moment offers us the historic opportunity to go much further; it demands as the only effective response a bold and audacious radicalization in the formulation of alternatives capable of moving workers and peoples to take the offensive to defeat their adversary’s strategy of war. These formulations, based on the analysis of actually existing contemporary capitalism, must directly confront the future that is to be built, and turn their back on the nostalgia for the past and illusions of identity or consensus.

Audacious Programs for the Radical Left

I will organize the following general proposals under three headings: (i) socialize the ownership of monopolies, (ii) de-financialize the management of the economy, (iii) de-globalize international relations.

Socialize the Ownership of Monopolies

The effectiveness of the alternative response necessarily requires the questioning of the very principle of private property of monopoly capital. Proposing to ‘regulate’ financial operations, to return markets to ‘transparency’ to allow ‘agent’s expectations’ to be ‘rational’ and to define the terms of a consensus on these reforms without abolishing the private property of monopolies, is nothing other than throwing dust in the eyes of the naive public. Monopolies are asked to ‘manage’ reforms against their own interests, ignoring the fact that they retain a thousand and one ways to circumvent the objectives of such reforms.

The alternative social project should be to reverse the direction of the current social order (social disorder) produced by the strategies of monopolies, in order to ensure maximum and stabilised employment, and to ensure decent wages growing in parallel with the productivity of social labour. This objective is simply impossible without the expropriation of the power of monopolies.

The ‘software of economic theorists’ must be reconstructed (in the words of François Morin). The absurd and impossible economic theory of ‘expectations’ expels democracy from the management of economic decision-making. Audacity in this instance requires radical reform of education for the training not only of economists, but also of all those called to occupy management positions.

Monopolies are institutional bodies that must be managed according to the principles of democracy, in direct conflict with those who sanctify private property. Although the term ‘commons,’ imported from the Anglo-Saxon world, is itself ambiguous because always disconnected from the debate on the meaning of social conflicts (Anglo-Saxon language deliberately ignores the reality of social classes), the term could be invoked here specifically to call monopolies part of the ‘commons.’

The abolition of the private ownership of monopolies takes place through their nationalization. This first legal action is unavoidable. But audacity here means going beyond that step to propose plans for the socialization of the management of nationalized monopolies and the promotion of the democratic social struggles that are engaged on this long road.

I will give here a concrete example of what could be involved in plans of socialization.

‘Capitalist’ farmers (those of developed countries) like ‘peasant’ farmers (mostly in the South) are all prisoners of both the upstream monopolies that provide inputs and credit, and the downstream ones on which they depend for processing, transportation and marketing of their products. Therefore they have no real autonomy in their ‘decisions.’ In addition the productivity gains they make are siphoned off by the monopolies that have reduced producers to the status of ‘subcontractors.’ What possible alternative?

Public institutions working within a legal framework that would set the mode of governance must replace the monopolies. These would be constituted of representatives of: (i) farmers (the principle interests), (ii) upstream units (manufacturers of inputs, banks) and downstream (food industry, retail chains) and (iii) consumers, (iv) local authorities (interested in natural and social environment – schools, hospitals, urban planning and housing, transportation), (v) the State (citizens). Representatives of the components listed above would be self-selected according to procedures consistent with their own mode of socialized management, such as units of production of inputs that are themselves managed by directorates of workers directly employed by the units concerned as well as those who are employed by sub-contracting units and so on. These structures should be designed by formulas that associate management personnel with each of these levels, such as research centres for scientific, independent and appropriate technology. We could even conceive of a representation of capital providers (the ‘small shareholders’) inherited from the nationalization, if deemed useful.

We are therefore talking about institutional approaches that are more complex than the forms of ‘self-directed’ or ‘cooperative’ that we have known. Ways of working need to be invented that allow the exercise of genuine democracy in the management of the economy, based on open negotiation among all interested parties. A formula is required that systematically links the democratization of society with social progress, in contrast with the reality of capitalism which dissociates democracy, which is reduced to the formal management of politics, from social conditions abandoned to the ‘market’ dominated by what monopoly capital produces. Then and only then can we talk about true transparency of markets, regulated in institutionalized forms of socialized management.

The example may seem marginal in the developed capitalist countries because farmers there are a very small proportion of workers (3-7 per cent). However, this issue is central to the South where the rural population will remain significant for some time. Here access to land, which must be guaranteed for all (with the least possible inequality of access) is fundamental to principles advancing peasant agriculture (I refer here to my previous work on this question). ‘Peasant agriculture’ should not be understood as synonymous with ‘stagnant agriculture’ (or ‘traditional and folklorique’). The necessary progress of peasant agriculture does require some ‘modernization’ (although this term is a misnomer because it immediately suggests to many modernization through capitalism). More effective inputs, credits, and production and supply chains are necessary to improve the productivity of peasant labour. The formulas proposed here pursue the objective of enabling this modernization in ways and in a spirit that is ‘non-capitalist,’ that is to say grounded in a socialist perspective.

Obviously the specific example chosen here is one that needs to be institutionalized. The nationalization / socialization of the management of monopolies in the sectors of industry and transport, banks and other financial institutions should be imagined in the same spirit, while taking into account the specificities of their economic and social functions in the constitution of their directorates. Again these directorates should involve the workers in the company as well as those of subcontractors, representatives of upstream industries, banks, research institutions, consumers, and citizens.

The nationalization/socialization of monopolies addresses a fundamental need at the central axis of the challenge confronting workers and peoples under contemporary capitalism of generalized monopolies. It is the only way to stop the accumulation by dispossession that is driving the management of the economy by the monopolies.

The accumulation dominated by monopolies can indeed only reproduce itself if the area subject to ‘market management’ is constantly expanding. This is achieved by excessive privatization of public services (dispossession of citizens), and access to natural resources (dispossession of peoples). The extraction of profit of ‘independent’ economic units by the monopolies is even a dispossession (of capitalists!) by the financial oligarchy.

De-Financialization: A World Without Wall Street

Nationalization/socialization of monopolies would in and of itself abolish the principle of ‘shareholder value’ imposed by the strategy of accumulation in the service of monopoly rents. This objective is essential for any bold agenda to escape the ruts in which the management of today’s economy is mired. Its implementation pulls the rug out from under the feet of the financialization of management of the economy. Are we returning to the famous ‘euthanasia of the rentier’ advocated by Keynes in his time? Not necessarily, and certainly not completely. Savings can be encouraged by financial reward, but on condition that their origin (household savings of workers, businesses, communities) and their conditions of earnings are precisely defined. The discourse on macroeconomic savings in conventional economic theory hides the organization of exclusive access to the capital market of the monopolies. The so-called ‘market driven remuneration’ is then nothing other than the means to guarantee the growth of monopoly rents.

Of course the nationalization/socialization of monopolies also applies to banks, at least the major ones. But the socialization of their intervention (‘credit policies’) has specific characteristics that require an appropriate design in the constitution of their directorates. Nationalization in the classical sense of the term implies only the substitution of the State for the boards of directors formed by private shareholders. This would permit, in principle, implementation of bank credit policies formulated by the State – which is no small thing. But it is certainly not sufficient when we consider that socialization requires the direct participation in the management of the bank by the relevant social partners. Here the ‘self-management’ of banks by their staff would not be appropriate. The staff concerned should certainly be involved in decisions about their working conditions, but little else, because it is not their place to determine the credit policies to be implemented.

If the directorates must deal with the conflicts of interest of those that provide loans (the banks) and those who receive them (the ‘enterprises’), the formula for the composition of directorates must be designed taking into account what the enterprises are and what they require. A restructuring of the banking system which has become overly centralized since the regulatory frameworks of the past two centuries were abandoned over the past four decades. There is a strong argument to justify the reconstruction of banking specialization according to the requirements of the recipients of their credit as well as their economic function (provision of short-term liquidity, contributing to the financing of investments in the medium and long term). We could then, for example, create an ‘agriculture bank’ (or a coordinated ensemble of agriculture banks) whose clientele is comprised not only of farmers and peasants but also those involved in the ‘upstream and downstream’ of agriculture described above. The bank’s directorate would involve on the one hand the ‘bankers’ (staff officers of the bank – who would have been recruited by the directorate) and other clients (farmers or peasants, and other upstream and downstream entities).

We can imagine other sets of articulated banking systems, appropriate to various industrial sectors, in which the directorates would involve the industrial clients, centers of research and technology and services to ensure control of the ecological impact of the industry, thus ensuring minimal risk (while recognizing that no human action is completely without risk), and subject to transparent democratic debate.

The de-financialization of economic management would also require two sets of legislation. The first concerns the authority of a sovereign state to ban speculative fund (hedge funds) operations in its territory. The second concerns pension funds, which are now major operators in the financialization of the economic system. These funds were designed – first in the U.S. of course – to transfer to employees the risks normally incurred by capital, and which are the reasons invoked to justify capital’s remuneration! So this is a scandalous arrangement, in clear contradiction even with the ideological defense of capitalism! But this ‘invention’ is an ideal instrument for the strategies of accumulation dominated by monopolies.

The abolition of pension funds is necessary for the benefit of distributive pension systems, which, by their very nature, require and allow democratic debate to determine the amounts and periods of assessment and the relationship between the amounts of pensions and remuneration paid. In a democracy that respects social rights, these pension systems are universally available to all workers. However, at a pinch, and so as not to prohibit what a group of individuals might desire to put in place, supplementary pension funds could be allowed.

All measures of de-financialization suggested here lead to an obvious conclusion: A world without Wall Street, to borrow the title of the book by François Morin, is possible and desirable.

In a world without Wall Street, the economy is still largely controlled by the ‘market.’ But these markets are for the first time truly transparent, regulated by democratic negotiation among genuine social partners (for the first time also they are no longer adversaries as they are necessarily under capitalism). It is the financial ‘market’ – opaque by nature and subjected to the requirements of management for the benefit of the monopolies – that is abolished. We could even explore whether it would be useful or not to shut down the stock exchanges, given that the rights to property, both in its private as well as social form, would be conducted ‘differently.’ We could even consider whether the stock exchange could be re-established to this new end. The symbol in any case – ‘a world without Wall Street’ – nevertheless retains its power.

De-financialization certainly does not mean the abolition of macroeconomic policy and in particular the macro management of credit. On the contrary it restores its efficiency by freeing it from its subjugation to the strategies of rent-seeking monopolies. The restoration of the powers of national central banks, no longer ‘independent’ but dependent on both the state and markets regulated by the democratic negotiation of social partners, gives the formulation of macro credit policy its effectiveness in the service of socialized management of the economy.

At the International Level: Delinking

I use here the term ‘delinking’ that I proposed half a century ago, a term that contemporary discourse appears to have substituted with the synonym ‘de-globalization.’ I have never conceptualized delinking as an autarkic retreat, but rather as a strategic reversal in the face of both internal and external forces in response to the unavoidable requirements of self-determined development. Delinking promotes the reconstruction of a globalization based on negotiation, rather than submission to the exclusive interests of the imperialist monopolies. It also makes possible the reduction of international inequalities.

Delinking is necessary because the measures advocated in the two previous sections can never really be implemented at the global scale, or even at a regional level (e.g. Europe). They can only be initiated in the context of states / nations with advanced radical social and political struggles, committed to a process of socialization of the management of their economy.

Imperialism, in the form that it took until just after the Second World War, had created the contrast between industrialised imperialist centers and dominated peripheries where industry was prohibited. The victories of national liberation movements began the process of the industrialization of the peripheries, through the implementation of delinking policies required for the option of self-reliant development. Associated with social reforms that were at times radical, these delinkings created the conditions for the eventual ‘emergence’ of those countries that had gone furthest in this direction – China leading the pack, of course.

But the imperialism of the current era, the imperialism of the Triad, forced to retreat and ‘adjust’ itself to the conditions of this new era, rebuilt itself on new foundations, based on ‘advantage’ by which it sought to hold on to the privilege of exclusivity that I have classified in five categories. The control of:

  • technology

  • access to natural resources of the planet

  • global integration of the monetary and financial system

  • systems of communication and information

  • weapons of mass destruction.

The main form of delinking today is thus defined precisely by the challenge to these five privileges of contemporary imperialism. Emerging countries are engaged in delinking from these five privileges, with varying degrees of control and self-determination, of course. While earlier success over the past two decades in delinking enabled them to accelerate their development, in particular through industrial development within the globalized ‘liberal’ system using ‘capitalist’ means, this success has fueled delusions about the possibility of continuing on this path, that is to say, emerging as new ‘equal capitalist partners.’ The attempt to ‘co-opt’ the most prestigious of these countries with the creation of the G20 has encouraged these illusions.

But with the current ongoing implosion of the imperialist system (called ‘globalization’), these illusions are likely to dissipate. The conflict between the imperialist powers of the triad and emerging countries is already visible, and is expected to worsen. If they want to move forward, the societies of emerging countries will be forced to turn more toward self-reliant modes of development through national plans and by strengthening South-South cooperation.

Audacity, under such circumstances, involves engaging vigorously and coherently toward this end, bringing together the required measures of delinking with the desired advances in social progress.

The goal of this radicalization is threefold: the democratization of society; the consequent social progress achieved; and the taking of anti-imperialist positions. A commitment to this direction is possible, not only for societies in emerging countries, but also in the ‘abandoned’ or the ‘written-off’ of the global South. These countries had been effectively recolonized through the structural adjustment programs of the 1980s. Their peoples are now in open revolt, whether they have already scored victories (South America) or not (in the Arab world).

Audacity here means that the radical left in these societies must have the courage to take measure of the challenges they face and to support the continuation and radicalization of the necessary struggles that are in progress.

The delinking of the South prepares the way for the deconstruction of the imperialist system itself. This is particularly apparent in areas affected by the management of the global monetary and financial system, since it is the result of the hegemony of the dollar.

But beware: it is an illusion to expect to substitute for this system ‘another world monetary and financial system’ that is better balanced and favorable to the development of the peripheries. As always, the search of a ‘consensus’ over international reconstruction from above is mere wishful thinking akin to waiting for a miracle. What is on the agenda now is the deconstruction of the existing system – its implosion – and reconstruction of national alternative systems (for countries or continents or regions), as some projects in South America have already begun. Audacity here is to have the courage to move forward with the strongest determination possible, without too much worry about the reaction of imperialism.

This same problematique of delinking / dismantling is also of relevance to Europe, which is a subset of globalization dominated by monopolies. The European project was designed from the outset and built systematically to dispossess its peoples of their ability to exercise their democratic power. The European Union was established as a protectorate of the monopolies. With the implosion of the euro zone, its submission to the will of the monopolies has resulted in the abolishment of democracy which has been reduced to the status of farce and takes on extreme forms, namely focused only on the question: how are the ‘market’ (that is to say monopolies) and the ‘Rating Agencies’ (that is to say, again, the monopolies) reacting? That’s the only question now posed. How the people might react is no longer given the slightest consideration.

It is thus obvious that here too there is no alternative to audacity: ‘disobeying’ the rules imposed by the “European Constitution” and the imaginary central bank of the euro. In other words, there is no alternative to deconstruct the institutions of Europe and the euro zone. This is the unavoidable prerequisite for the eventual reconstruction of ‘another Europe’ of peoples and nations.

In conclusion: Audacity, more audacity, always audacity.

What I mean by audacity is therefore:

  1. For the radical left in the societies of the imperialist triad, the need for an engagement in the building of an alternative anti-monopoly social bloc.

  2. For the radical left in the societies of the peripheries to engage in the building of an alternative anti-comprador social bloc.

It will take time to make progress in building these blocs, but it could well accelerate if the radical left takes on movement with determination and engages in making progress on the long road of socialism. It is therefore necessary to propose strategies not ‘out of the crisis of capitalism,’ but ‘out of capitalism in crisis’ to borrow from the title of one of my recent works.

We are in a crucial period in history. The only legitimacy of capitalism is to have created the conditions for passing on to socialism, understood as a higher stage of civilization. Capitalism is now an obsolete system, its continuation leading only to barbarism. No other capitalism is possible. The outcome of a clash of civilizations is, as always, uncertain. Either the radical left will succeed through the audacity of its initiatives to make revolutionary advances, or the counter-revolution will win. There is no effective compromise between these two responses to the challenge.

All the strategies of the non-radical left are in fact non-strategies, they are merely day-to-day adjustments to the vicissitudes of the imploding system. And if the powers that be want, like le Guépard, to ‘change everything so that nothing changes,’ the candidates of the left believe it is possible to ‘change life without touching the power of monopolies’! The non-radical left will not stop the triumph of capitalist barbarism. They have already lost the battle for lack of wanting to take it on.

Audacity is what is necessary to bring about the autumn of capitalism that will be announced by the implosion of its system and by the birth of an authentic spring of the people, a spring that is possible. •

Samir Amin is director of the Third World Forum. A selection of his books is available from Pambazuka Press.

Putevi koji vode u rat i ekonomski kolaps

December 5th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Novembar 23, 2011: Dan uoči Dana zahvalnosti doneo je tri vanredne vesti. Prva je izveštaj o debati u republikanskoj predsedničkoj kampanji. Druga je izjava ruskog predsednika o odgovoru njegove zemlje na raketne baze koje je Vašington postavio oko Rusije. A treća je neuspešna aukcija nemačkih državnih obveznica.

Pošto nas presstitutski[1] mediji neće obavestiti o značenju svega toga, dozvolite da ja pokušam.

Sa izuzetkom Rona Pola, jedinog kandidata na bilo kojoj od strana koji je kvalifikovan da bude predsednik SAD, ostali republikanski kandidati su još gori od Obame, predsednika koga je zemlja zdušno podržavala, a koji je prodao američki narod posebnim interesima.

Nijedan novoizabrani predsednik kog se sećamo, ni DŽon F. Kenedi, ni Ronald Regan, nije uživao tako izvanrednu reakciju na svoj izbor kao Barak Obama. Rekordan broj ljudi prkoseći hladnoći prisustvovao je njegovom svečanom polaganju zakletve. Prilaz Kapitolu bio je krcat kilometrima Amerikancima koji su ceremoniju mogli da vide samo na ogromnim ekranima.

Obama je uveravao biračko telo da će okončati ratove, zaustaviti kršenje zakona od strane američke vlade, dokrajčiti režim ilegalnih mučenja, zatvoriti zatvor za mučenje Gvantanamo, i voditi računa o stvarnim potrebama američkog naroda a ne o tome kako da novcem poreskih obveznika napuni džepove vojno-bezbednosnog kompleksa.

Avaj, čim je kročio u kancelariju, Obama je obnovio i proširio Buševe/Čejnijeve/neokonzervativne ratove.

Ozakonio je napad Bušovog režima na američki Ustav. Vol Stritu je prepustio da vodi ekonomsku politiku SAD. Time je abolirao Bušov režim za počinjene zločine, a na američki narod svalio troškove očuvanja ekonomskog blagostanja mega-bogatih.

Čovek bi pomislio da bi tako promašenog predsednika bilo lako pobediti. S obzirom na istorijsku priliku, Republikanska partija je pred biračko telo izvela najneverovatnije glupu i podlu zbirku kandidata, sa izuzetkom Rona Pola koji ni nema podršku stranke, ikada viđenu u Americi.

U predsedničkoj “debati” održanoj 22. novembra, kandidati – sa izuzetkom Rona Pola – predstavili su se kao skup neznalica i ratnih huškača koji podržavaju policijsku državu. Gingrič i Kejn su izjavili da muslimani “žele da nas sve pobiju” i da “ćemo svi biti u opasnosti do kraja naših života”.

Bakman je rekao da je američka marionetska država, Pakistan, “više nego egzistencijalna pretnja”. Bakman nema pojma šta je to “više od egzistencijalne pretnje”. Svejedno, zvuči dovoljno ozbiljno i intelektualno, nešto što može da izgovori samo kandidat koji je davnopočivši Sovjetski Savez nazvao prisutnom pretnjom za SAD.

Nažalost po Amerikance i svet, američko biračko telo nema inteligenciju niti svest o tome da živi u policijskoj državi i da treba da izabere Rona Pola, koji je poslednji branitelj Ustava SAD zajedno sa Demokratom Denisom Kučinićem. Pa ipak, postoji svetla strana u mogućnosti da neki republikanski moron bude izabran za predsednika “svetske supersile”. Čim ostatak sveta shvati da neki ratom-sluđeni idiot ili idiotkinja drži prst na nuklearnom dugmetu, organizovaće se i staviti katanac na vašingtonski užas pre nego što ovaj sravni sve živo na zemlji.

Svaki svestan Amerikanac koji je gledao ili čitao o republikanskoj predsedničkoj debati nužno se morao zapitati na čemu treba da budemo zahvalni uoči nacionalnog praznika.

Ruska vlada, koja više voli da svoje resurse koristi za ekonomiju nego za vojsku, odlučila je da je preuzela previše rizika u ime mira. Dan uoči Dana zahvalnosti, ruski predsednik Dmitrij Medvedev je u televizijskom obraćanju ruskom narodu izjavio da će, ukoliko Vašington nastavi sa svojim planom da Rusiju opkoli raketnim bazama, zemlja odgovoriti sopstvenim novim nuklearnim raketama, koje će ciljati američke baze i evropske prestonice.

Predsednik Rusije je rekao da je ruska vlada zatražila od Vašingtona pravno obavezujuću garanciju da svrha američkih raketnih baza nije da budu pretnja Rusiji, ali je Vašington odbio da pruži takve garancije.

Medvedevljeva izjava zbunjuje. Šta mu znači ono “ukoliko Vašington nastavi?” Američke raketne i radarske baze su već u funkciji. Rusija je već opkoljena. Je l’ to Medvedev tek sada shvatio šta se sprema?

Spori odgovor Rusije i Kine na agresiju Vašingtona može se razumeti samo u kontekstu komunističkog iskustva dve zemlje. Patnje Rusa i Kineza u komunizmu bile su ekstremne, a misleći deo tih naroda na Ameriku je gledao kao na ideal političkog života. Ova samoobmanjivanje i dalje vlada mentalitetom progresivnih mislilaca u Rusiji i Kini. Za Rusiju i Kinu se može ispostaviti katastrofalnim to što imaju građane koji se rukovode SAD.

Sudeći po Medvedevljevoj izjavi, to poverenje u pouzdanost Vašingtona prožima čak i rusku vladu, koja bi bila razuverena “pravno obavezujućom garancijom” Vašingtona. Posle svih krupnih vašingtonskih laži lansiranih u 21. veku – o “oružju za masovno uništenje”, “povezanosti sa Al Kaidom”, “iranskom nuklearnom oružju” – zašto bi neko imao ikakvo poverenje u “pravno obavezujuće garancije” Vašingtona? Takve garancija ne bi ništa značila. Kako bi bila sprovedena? Jednostavno, takva garancija bi bila još jedna prevara u žudnji Vašingtona za svetskom hegemonijom.

Dan pred Dan zahvalnosti doneo je još jedan izuzetan razvoj – neuspeh aukcije nemačkih državnih obveznica, što je događaj bez premca.

Zašto Nemačka, jedini finansijski ispravan član EU, nije mogla da proda 35% svoje ponude 10-godišnjih obveznica? Nemačka nema problem sa dugovima, a od njene ekonomije EU i američke vlasti očekuju da ponese lavovski deo spasavanja zemalja članica EU koje su finansijski ugrožene.

Naslućujem da je razlog neuspeha aukcije obveznica nemačke vlade to što je isti orkestriran od strane SAD, vlasti EU, a posebno Evropske centralne banke (ECB), kao i privatnih banaka, kako bi kaznili Nemačku što nije dozvolila da ECB otkupi suverene dugove zemalja članica Evropske unije.

Nemačka vlada pokušava da odbrani uslove pod kojima je Nemačka odustala od kontrole nad sopstvenom valutom i ​​pristupila EU. Insistiranjem na zakonitosti ugovora, Nemačka je onemogućila da ECB postupi po uzoru na američke Federalne rezerve i monetizuje dugove vlada članica.

Od svog samog početka Evropska unija je bila zavera protiv Nemačke. Ako ostane u EU, Nemačka će biti uništena. Izgubiće svoj politički i ekonomski suverenitet, a ekonomiju će joj iscediti fiskalno neodgovorne članice EU.

Ako Grci neće da podnose tiraniju, zašto bi Nemci?

Dr Pol Krejg Roberts je bio pomoćnik sekretara Trezora SAD u Reganovoj administraciji, saradnik urednik Volstrit žurnala, viši naučni saradnik u Huverovom institutu Univerziteta Stenford, predavao političku ekonomiju na Centru za strateške i međunarodne studije na DŽordžtaun univerzitetu. Autor je ili koautor devet knjiga, svedočio trideset puta pred kongresnim odborima.

[1] presstitute – autorova kovanica, od press i prostituisanje, prim.prev.

Prevod: NSPM

Originalni tekst možete naći na Globalresearch.ca

Jürgen Habermas: Demontaža demokratije u EU

December 5th, 2011 by Georg Diez

Jirgenu Habermasu je svega dosta. Čuveni filozof ovih dana čini sve da skrene pažnju na ono što smatra propašću evropskog ideala. Nada se da može da pomogne da taj ideal bude sačuvan od nesposobnih političara i mračnih sila svetskog tržišta.

Jirgen Habermas je besan. Zaista besan. Skoro razjaren – jer ono što se dešava doživljava vrlo lično.

Naginje se napred. Naginje se nazad. Svojim nemirnim rukama ilustruje bujicu reči, pre nego što dopusti da mu ponovo skliznu u krilo. Udara u sto i uzvikuje: “Dosta više!”. Jednostavno, ne želi da vidi Evropu otpremljenu u kantu za smeće svetske istorije.

“Govorim kao građanin”, kaže Habermas. “Radije bih sedeo kod kuće, za svojim stolom, verujte mi. Ali, ovo je isuviše važno. Svi moraju da shvate da su pred nama ključne odluke. Zbog toga sam toliko angažovan u ovoj debati. Evropski projekat ne može više da opstane kao elitni modus”.

Dosta više! Evropa je njegov projekat. Projekat njegove generacije.

Jirgen Habermas, 82-godišnjak, želi da se o tome proširi glas. Sedi na pozornici u Gete institutu u Parizu. Pored njega sedi dobronamerni profesor koji mu tokom dva sata postavlja svega šest ili sedam pitanja – odgovori koji traju kraće od 15 minuta jednostavno nisu Habermasov stil.

Obično izgovara pametne stvari kao što su: “U ovoj krizi, funkcionalni i sistemski imperativi se sudaraju” – aludirajući na državne dugove i pritisak tržišta.

Ponekad užasnuto odmahne glavom: “To je prosto neprihvatljivo, prosto neprihvatljivo” – kaže komentarišući diktate Evropske unije i gubitak suvereniteta Grčke.

Bez ubeđenja

A onda ponovo besni: “Osuđujem političke partije. Naši političari već dugo nisu u stanju da teže bilo čemu osim tome da budu ponovo izabrani. Nemaju nikakvu političku suštinu, nikakva ubeđenja!”

U prirodi ove krize je da filozofe i salonske političare ponekad stavlja u isti položaj.

U prirodi ove krize je i da previše ljudi govori previše, pa bi nam sasvim sigurno koristio neko ko problemu pristupa sistematično, kao što to čini Habermas u svoj novoj knjizi.

Ali, iznad svega, u prirodi ove krize je da što duže traje, postaje sve konfuznija. Postaje sve teže da pratimo obrte situacije i da shvatimo ko je i za šta kriv. I, sve vreme, alternative prosto nestaju, tu pred našim očima.

Zbog toga je Habermas toliko ljut: na političare, “funkcionalnu elitu” i medije. “Da li ste vi iz medija?” – upitao je čoveka u publici koji mu se obratio. “Niste? Baš šteta.”

Habermas želi da pošalje poruku. Zbog toga i sedi na ovoj tribini. Zbog toga je nedavno napisao članak za Frankfurter algemajne cajtung, u kojem je evropske političare optužio za cinizam i “okretanje leđa evropskim idealima”. Zbog toga je nedavno napisao i knjigu – “knjižicu”, kako je on sam naziva – koju je ugledni nemački nedeljnik Die Zeit odmah uporedio sa esejom Imanuela Kanta iz 1795. godine “Večiti mir: Filozofska skica”.

Ali, da li je odgovorio na pitanje kojim putem bi demokratija i kapitalizam dalje trebalo da se kreću?

Tihi državni udar

“O evropskom ustavu” (Zur Verfassung Europas) je naziv njegove nove knjige koja je, zapravo, dugačak esej u kojem Habermas opisuje kako se suština naše demokratije promenila pod pritiskom kriza i tržišnog ludila.

Habermas kaže da je moć iskliznula iz ruku ljudi i premestila se na tela sumnjivog demokratskog legitimiteta, kao što je Evropski savet. Suštinski, sugeriše Habermas, tehnokrate su odavno sprovele tihi državni udar.

“Angela Merkel i Nikola Sarkozi su, 22. jula 2011. godine, postigli nejasan kompromis – koji je podložan različitim tumačenjima – između nemačkog ekonomskog liberalizma i francuskog etatizma”, napisao je poznati filozof. “Svi znaci ukazuju na to da bi oboje želeli da federalizam izvršnih vlasti, na kojem počiva Lisabonski ugovor, pretvore u vrhovnu vlast Evropskog saveta, koji funkcioniše suprotno duhu tog sporazuma”.

Sistem koji su Merkelova i Sarkozi uspostavili tokom krize Habermas opisuje kao “postdemokratski”. Evropski parlament gotovo da nema nikakav uticaj. Evropska komisija kao da je “suspendovana”, bez stvarne odgovornosti za ono što čini. Najvažnije je, međutim, to što Evropski savet, kojem je Lisabonskim ugovorom data centralna uloga, Habermas naziva “anomalijom”. On Savet vidi kao “vladajuće telo koje se meša u politiku, iako za to nije ovlašćeno”.

On vidi Evropu u kojoj državama upravlja tržište, u kojoj EU ima snažan uticaj na formiranje novih vlada u Italiji i Grčkoj, i u kojoj je sve ono evropsko, što on tako strastveno brani i voli, jednostavno okrenuto naglavačke.

Redak fenomen

Na ovom mestu bi trebalo pomenuti da Habermas nije nezadovoljnik, nije pesimista niti prorok propasti – on je doslovno nepokolebljivi optimista, i to je ono što ga čini tako retkim fenomenom u Nemačkoj.

Problem njega kao filozofa uvek je bilo to što je delovao pomalo jednolično jer je, uprkos, svim velikim rečima, zapravo vrlo jasan i razumljiv. Kultivisani bes je preuzeo od Marksa, oštrouman pogled na modernizam od Frojda, a jasnoću od američkih pragmatista. Uvek je bio prijateljski nastrojeni pojašnjavač, racionalista i antiromantik.

Ipak, njegove ranije knjige, “Javno mnjenje” i “Između činjenica i normi” bile su, naravno, donekle drugačije nego vesela postmodernistička borba sa zamišljenim protivnikom, karakteristična za francuske filozofe poput Žaka Deride i Žana Bodrijara. Povrh toga, drugo Habermasovo delo, “Teorija komunikativnog delanja”, krilo je zamke u njegovoj teoriji “diskursa bez prinude” koja je, čak i pre otkrića Fejsbuka i Tvitera, bila veoma smela, ako ne i naivna.

Habermas nikad nije bio bacač noževa, kao slovenački mislilac Slavoj Žižek, niti žongler kao nemački filozof Peter Sloterdijk. Nikad nije pravio cirkus i uvek je bio levičar (iako sigurno ima onih koji se neće složiti sa ovom konstatacijom). Bio je na strani studentskog pokreta dok stvari nisu postale “previše vruće” za njega. Uživao je ustavnim i proceduralnim pitanjima. To je, u osnovi, do danas ostala njegova pozicija.

Habermas istinski veruje u racionalnost ljudi. On istinski veruje u starinsku, uređenu demokratiju. On istinski veruje u javnost koja služi opštem dobru.

To takođe objašnjava zbog čega je tako srećno gledao u publiku koja se te novembarske večeri okupila u Parizu.

Habermas je prilično visok, dugonog čovek. Kada je zakoračio na pozornicu, njegovo opušteno držanje učinilo je izgleda gotovo nehajno. Kada je protegao noge ispod stola, izgledalo je kao da je kod kuće. Bez obzira na to da li je za katedrom ili ne, ovo jeste njegova profesija: javna komunikacija i razmena ideja.

Uvek je bio tu kada je bilo potrebno vratiti Nemačku na pravi put, drugim rečima, na njegov put – ka Zapadu, na put razuma: 1986. godine, kada su se nemački istoričari žestoko sporili oko toga kako da se Nemačka postavi prema svojoj ulozi u Drugom svetskom ratu; posle ujedinjenja zemlje 1990. godine; tokom iračkog rata.

Isto je i sada, dok sedi za stolom, u zatvorenoj sobi u podrumu Gete instituta u Parizu i govori pred 200 do 250 zabrinutih, izuzetno obrazovanih građana. Kaže da on, teoretičar javnosti, nema pojma o Fejsbuku i Tviteru – što je izjava koja, naravno, zvuči zastarelo, gotovo apsurdno. Habermas veruje u moć reči i racionalnost diskursa. To je filozofija unplugged.

Dok aktivisti pokreta “Okupiraj…” odbijaju da makar jedan svoj zahtev jasno formulišu, Habermas sasvim jasno i glasno kaže zbog čega i dalje vidi Evropu kao civilizacijski projekat kojem se ne sme dozvoliti da propadne, i zbog čega je “globalno društvo” ne samo ostvarivo, nego i neophodno da bi se pomirili demokratija i kapitalizam.

U suprotnom, kako on to kaže, rizikujemo da upadnemo u neku vrstu neprekidnog vanrednog stanja – u suprotnom, državama će upravljati tržišta. “Italija žuri da ustoliči Montija” – to je bio jedan od naslova prošle nedelje u listu Financial Times Europe.

Sa druge strane, oni i nisu toliko različiti, live-stream revolucionari iz pokreta “Okupiraj…” i filozof koji i dalje piše knjige. Reč je, zapravo, o podeli posla – između analognog i digitalnog, između debate i akcije. To je igranje na terenu na kojem svako ima svoje mesto i nije uvek jasno ko su dobri, a ko loši momci. Pred našim očima se postojeća pravila prepravljaju, a uloge se redefinišu.

Demontiranje demokratije

“Negde posle 2008. godine”, priča Habermas uz čašu belog vina, po završetku debate, “shvatio sam da se proces širenja, integracije i demokratizacije ne kreće unapred automatski, sam od sebe, shvatio sam da je taj proces reverzibilan i da se, prvi put u istoriji EU, zapravo suočavamo sa demontažom demokratije. Nisam mislio da je to moguće. Stigli smo do raskršća.”

Treba takođe reći: za nekoga ko je najvažniji nemački živi filozof, on je neshvatljivo strpljiv čovek.

Isprva je bio ushićen što je konačno uspeo da pronađe novinara kojem će da saopšti koliko je zgađen načinom na koji se pojedini mediji dodvoravaju Merkelovoj – koliko se gnuša tog oportunističkog saveza sa moćnicima. Onda je, međutim, blagim tonom pohvalio medije što su se u proteklih godinu dana konačno probudili i počeli da se bave Evropom na način koji jasno ukazuje na razmere problema.

“Politička elita zapravo nema interes da ljudima objašnjava da se važne odluke donose u Strazburu, oni se samo plaše da ne izgube vlast”, izgovorio je Habermas, neposredno pre nego što ga je spopala izvesna gospođa koja, činilo se, nije u potpunosti vladala sobom. Ali tako je to u ovakvim prilikama – tako je to sa diskursom bez prinude. “Ne razumem sasvim normativne posledice Vašeg pitanja”, bio je Habermasov odgovor koji je gospođu zadržao na pristojnoj udaljenosti.

On je, na kraju krajeva, džentlmen iz vremena kada je elokvencija nešto značila i kada su muškarci nosili platnene maramice. On je dete rata i opstaje, čak i onda kada vam se čini da će, kao brod, da se prevrne i potone.

Važno je razumeti zbog čega sve što se tiče Evrope doživljava lično. Razlog za to je zla Nemačka iz prošlosti i dobra Evropa sutrašnjice, pretvaranje prošlosti u budućnost, razlog je kontinent koji je nekad bio razjedinjen zbog krivice, a sada zbog dugova.

Bez prigovora

U prošlosti, postojali su neprijatelji; danas, postoje tržišta – tako se može opisati ovaj trenutak u istoriji, onako kako ga vidi Habermas.

Dva dana pre debate u Gete institutu, stajao je prepunom, pregrejanom amfiteatru Univerziteta Pariz Dekart i obraćao se studentima koji su izgledali kao da bi radije uspostavljali kapitalizam u Briselu ili Pekingu, nego što bi proveli noć u šatoru pokreta “Okupiraj…”.

Čim je kročio u prostoriju, Habermas je promenio redosled sedenja na pozornici i premestio pločice sa imenima. Zatim su mikrofoni otkazali poslušnost – što je izgledalo kao element komunikativnog delanja u praksi. Potom je jedan od prisutnih profesora izgovorio bombastičan uvod, što je, izgleda, deo akademskog rituala u Francuskoj.

Habermas je sve to prihvatio bez prigovora. Stupio je za govornicu i objasnio koje su to greške napravljene prilikom konstruisanja Evropske unije. Govorio je o nedostatku političkog jedinstva i o “usađenom kapitalizmu”, što je termin koji koristi kada opisuje tržišnu ekonomiju koju kontrolišu političari. On amorfne briselske strukture čini opipljivim ukazujući na njihove protivrečnosti i ističe činjenicu da odluke Evropskog saveta, koje utiču na naš svakodnevni život, zapravo nemaju ni legalitet ni legitimitet.

On, doduše, govori i o mogućnosti koju pruža Lisabonski ugovor, a to je stvaranje unije koja je demokratičnija i politički efikasnija. Tako nešto bi moglo da se izrodi iz trenutne krize, kaže Habermas. On je, na kraju krajeva, optimista.

Onda ga je savladala iscrpljenost. Morao je da sedne. U prostoriji je zagušljivo i nakratko se činilo da neće biti u stanju da nastavi izlaganje. Posle ispijene čaše vode, ponovo je ustao.

Usprotivio se “političkom defetizmu” i počeo da, od delova svoje analize, gradi pozitivnu viziju Evrope. Nacionalnu državu je prikazao kao mesto gde su prava građana bolje zaštićena, a zatim objasnio da se taj princip može primeniti na nivou Evrope.

Građani svedeni na posmatrače

Habermas kaže da države nemaju prava, “samo ljudi imaju prava”. Zatim preduzima poslednji korak i narode i građane Evrope postavlja na mesto – u njegovim očima oni su istinski akteri istorije, a ne države ili vlade. To su isti oni građani koji su trenutno, zbog načina na koji se vodi politika, svedeni na puke posmatrače.

Njegova vizija izgleda ovako: “Građani svake države zasebno, koji su do sada morali da se pomire sa tim da su odgovornosti presraspodeljene i izvan državnih granica, mogu kao građani Evrope da usmere svoj demokratski uticaj prema vladama koje trenutno rade u okviru ustavne sive zone”.

Ovo je Habermasova glavna poenta i ono što je nedostajalo viziji Evrope: formula onoga što je pogrešno u postojećoj konstrukciji. On ne vidi EU kao komonvelt država ili kao federaciju nego, radije, kao nešto novo.

Vidi je kao zakonitu tvorevinu oko koje su se dogovorili narodi Evrope uz saglasnost građana Evrope (drugim rečima, mi sa samima sobom), u dvojnoj formi, ali bez vlada. To, naravno, Merkelovu i Sarkozija lišava osnove na kojoj počiva njihova moć, ali to je i bio Habermasov cilj.

Onda ga je savladao još jedan talas iscrpljenosti. Morao je da sedne i profesor mu je doneo čašu soka od pomorandže. Habermas iz džepa vadi maramicu. Zatim ustaje i nastavlja da priča o spasavanju “prirodnog staništa stare Evrope”.

Postoji alternativa, kaže, postoji drugi način osim ovog polaganog prenosa ovlašćenja koje se upravo odvija. Mediji moraju da pomognu građanima da shvate neverovatne razmere uticaja Evropske unije na njihove živote. Političari će sigurno shvatiti kakav bi teret pao na njihova leđa ukoliko bi Evropa propala. EU mora biti demokratizovana.

Njegovo izlaganje je kao njegova knjiga. To nije optužnica, iako povremeno poprima agresivan ton; to je analiza propasti evropske politike. Habermas ne nudi izlaz, ne nudi konkretan odgovor na pitanje koji bi put demokratija i kapitalizam trebalo da odaberu.

Neizvesna budućnost i upozorenja iz prošlosti

Sve što nudi je jedina vizija koju može da formuliše teoretičar ustava: “globalno društvo” će morati da se pobrine za sve. Usred krize on i dalje vidi “primer razrađenog koncepta ustavne saradnje između država i građana Evropske unije” kao najbolji način da se izgradi “globalno građansko društvo”.

Habermas je, na kraju krajeva, pragmatični optimista. On nam ne kaže koji su to koraci koji će nas odvesti od goreg ka boljem.

Konačno, ono što mu nedostaje jeste ubedljiva priča. To takođe povezuje Habermasa sa pokretom “Okupiraj…”. Ali, bez priče nema ni koncepta promena.

Na kraju izlaganja, ovacije.

“Ukoliko evropski projekat propadne”, kaže, “postavlja se pitanje koliko će nam vremena biti potrebno da ponovo uspostavimo neki status kvo. Setite se nemačke revolucije iz 1848. godine: kada je propala, bilo nam je potrebno sto godina da ponovo dostignemo kakav-takav nivo demokratije”.

Neizvesna budućnost i upozorenja iz prošlosti – to je ono što nam Habermas nudi. Sadašnjost je, bar za sada, nedokučiva.

Prevod: Nova Srpska Politička Misao

Obama Wants to Veto the Indefinite Detention Bill Because It Would Hold the U.S. to the Geneva Convention

I – like everyone else – am horrified by the Senate’s passage of legislation that would allow for indefinite detention of Americans.

And at first, I – like many others – assumed that Obama’s threat to veto the bill might be a good thing. But the truth is much more disturbing.

As former Wall Street Street editor and columnist Paul Craig Roberts correctly notes:

The Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens. The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it: Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”

Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights. These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas. [Yes, Obama is still apparently allowing "extraordinary renditions" to torture people abroad.] This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”

The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment.

By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.

A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion. (See http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saps1867s_20111117.pdf)

The November 17 letter to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”

In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to who it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.

Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.

Police State Started Years Ago

Even if Obama’s threatened veto was for more noble purposes, the fact is that it would not change anything, because the U.S. government claimed the power to indefinitely detain and assassinate American citizens years ago.

For example, law school professor and National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn pointed out in 2006:

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, “unlawful enemy combatants.”

***

Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush’s list of “terrorist” organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

Glenn Greenwald and Fire Dog Lake’s Emptywheel have also documented that the White House has believed for many years that it possessed the power to indefinitely detain Americans. See this, this, this, and this.

I noted Friday:

The police state started in 2001.

Specifically, on 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney initiated Continuity of Government Plans that ended America’s constitutional form of government (at least for some undetermined period of time.)

On that same day, a national state of emergency was declared … and that state of emergency has continuously been in effect up to today.

The Obama administration has also said for more than a year and a half it could target American citizens for assassination without any trial or due process.

In 2005, Chris Floyd pointed out that the ability of the government to assassinate U.S. citizens started the very week of 9/11:

On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of “lethal measures” against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an “enemy combatant.” This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate “enemies” on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.

The existence of this universal death squad – and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents – has not provoked so much as a crumb, an atom, a quantum particle of controversy in the American Establishment, although it’s no secret.  The executive order was first bruited in the Washington Post in October 2001 …. The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the dread edict also applied to American citizens, as the Associated Press reported.

The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner’s son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.

But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by the New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be “small and agile,” and “able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to…enter countries surreptitiously.”

The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on “extrajudicial killings” noted in December 2004: ” Empowering governments to identify and kill ‘known terrorists’ places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists… While it is portrayed as a limited ‘exception’ to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others.”

It’s hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an “enemy.” It’s hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done. Like the boyars of old, they not only countenance but celebrate their enslavement to the ruler.

[Note from Washington's Blog: 9/11 allowed those who glorify war to implement plans they had lusted after for many years (and see this), even though 9/11 happened because Dick Cheney was - at best - totally incompetent, and the government is now doing things which increase the risk of terrorism, instead of doing the things which could actually make us safer.]

***

This was vividly demonstrated in … Bush’s State of the Union address in January 2003, delivered to Congress and televised nationwide during the final frenzy of war-drum beating before the assault on Iraq. Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that “more than 3,000 suspected terrorists” had been arrested worldwide – “and many others have met a different fate.” His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: “Let’s put it this way. They are no longer a problem.”

In other words, the suspects – and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects – had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything to end his torment, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds – or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world.

Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called “the meaning of American justice.” And the assembled legislators…applauded. Oh, how they applauded!

VIDEO: Bush and Blair Guilty of War Crimes

December 5th, 2011 by Global Research

VIDEO: The Dangers of Nuclear War and Threats Against Iran

December 5th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Bringing the ‘War on Terror’ Home

December 5th, 2011 by Coleen Rowley

U.S. intelligence says the terror threat from al-Qaeda is receding, but Congress keeps on expanding the scope of this “war” so as not to look “weak on terror,” now adding new military powers that could be used against American citizens, writes ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley.

The political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our Constitutional Republic into a powerful, unaccountable Military Empire.

The U.S. Senate has just voted 93 to 7 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, which allows the military to operate domestically within the borders of the United States and to possibly (or most probably) detain U.S. citizens without trial.

U.S. Capitol Building

Forget that the ACLU called it “an historic threat to American citizens,” this bill is so dangerous not only to our rights but to our country’s security that it was criticized by the Directors of the FBI and the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Defense Secretary!

For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial. The government would be able to decide who gets an old-fashioned trial (along with right to attorney and right against self-incrimination) and who gets detained without due process and put into a modern legal limbo.

Does anyone remember that none of the first thousand people the FBI rounded up after 9/11, and who were imprisoned for several months (some brutalized) were ever charged with terrorism? Does anyone remember that hundreds of the Gitmo detainees who were handed over to their American military captors in exchange for monetary bounties were found, after years of imprisonment, to have no connection to terrorism?

When in doubt about a case, what do you think the government will again do? Does it prefer to submit its evidence to a jury’s scrutiny and its witnesses to the trouble of being cross-examined in court by a defense attorney or would it be easier to have no questions asked and dump the accused into detainee prison without rights? I think we already know that answer from the nearly ten years of experience at Guantanamo.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, declared that suspected citizens open themselves up “to imprisonment and death” He added: “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them: ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.’”

Of course, the politicians will say we are just talking about a few cases. But in fact the sky’s probably the limit given the current legal ambiguity in the Patriot Act expansion of “material support for terrorism” to now include humanitarian aid and even mere advocacy speech without any need to prove an accused person intended to support any kind of terrorist violence.

The Department of Justice has been currently using this ambiguity for over a year to investigate 23 American citizens who are anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Additionally, the “war on terror” will undoubtedly expand even more when it is de-linked from 9/11.

See “The War on Terrorism Congress Never Declared — But Soon Might” by Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor, expert on these issues and associate dean for scholarship at American University Washington College of Law, which states:

“An individual may be detained for providing ‘direct support’ (which, in the government’s view, may be nothing more than minor financial or logistical assistance) in aid of ‘associated forces’ that are ‘engaged in hostilities against … coalition partners.’

“Thus, the NDAA effectively authorizes the military detention of any individual who provides such assistance anywhere in the world to any group engaged in hostilities against any of our coalition partners, whether or not the United States is in any way involved in (or even affected by) that particular conflict.”

Given this expansion of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force contained in the 2012 NDAA to encompass undefined “associated forces,” we could witness the U.S. government targeting a large range of political dissidents, human rights activists, humanitarians, and maybe even “occupiers.”

The NDAA is deliberately confusing for political purposes but much is at stake. President Barack Obama’s determination as to whether or not he will veto the problematic 2012 war funding bill will determine how Benjamin Franklin’s glib response to the woman waiting outside the Constitutional Convention is ultimately answered. Franklin and other founding fathers had created “a Republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

But a lawless Military Empire could now await where U.S. “emergency war powers” trump the Constitution, where the Commander in Chief becomes king for a term(s), the military enters into domestic police-state actions in violation of 130 years of Posse Comitatus law, and the Constitution becomes as quaint as the Geneva Conventions were for Alberto Gonzalez and the Bush Administration.

Corrupted, compliant politicians have already allowed their fears to get the better of them by going along with pre-emptive war in violation of the Nuremberg Principles and international law and torturing in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture.

So why should they also not go for detaining American citizens without constitutional rights or trial?

You can tell President Obama he needs to live up to his threat to veto this legislation or you can sign Sen. Mark Udall’s petition.

Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, was legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. She wrote a “whistleblower” memo in May 2002 and testified to the Senate Judiciary on some of the FBI’s pre 9-11 failures. She retired at the end of 2004, and now writes and speaks on ethical decision-making and balancing civil liberties with the need for effective investigation.

Human Costs of War and Violence

December 5th, 2011 by Peter Phillips

For the second year (2010) in a row, more US soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat, reports Cord Jefferson January 27, 2011 on www.good.ir. Excluding accidents and illness, 462 soldiers died in combat, while 468 committed suicide. Veterans  who, after serving, suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are also at high risk. The study showed that 47 percent of veterans with PTSD had thoughts of suicide before they found help. The internal anguish a soldier experiences after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan can be far more severe than that experienced during live external combat.

More than 2 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Those who do return often suffer from physical, psychological, and cognitive trauma.  More than 40 per 100,000 men from the ages of 20 to 24 take their lives each year. Some deaths, which are not part of these statistics, are due to driving while under the influence of alcohol consumed due to depression. In 2008, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were 75 percent more likely to die in a car accident and 148 percent more likely to die in a motorcycle accident. By making the calculations of 40 per 100,000 per year the numbers of veteran suicides reaches into the tens of thousands nationwide since the beginning of the 9/11 wars.

In 2009, there were 381 military personnel suicides , a number that also exceeded the number of combat deaths. While the military has acknowledged an increase in suicides for some years, the corporate media tends to downplay the seriousness of these deaths by pointing to improvements and blaming the victims themselves. USA Today reporter Gregg Zoroya writes on 7/20/10, (1) “After nine years of war, the Army attracts recruits ready for combat but inclined toward risky personal behavior. It’s a volatile mix that led to more deaths from suicide, drug overdoses and drinking and driving than from warfare, an Army review concludes.”

“The Marine Corps reported a decline in suicides from 52 in 2009 to 37 confirmed or suspected cases in 2010. Among active-duty Army soldiers, there were 156 potential suicides in 2010, down slightly from 162 in 2009,” writes Zoroya in an earlier article January 20, 2011.

Chris Hedges quotes former mortuary unit marine Jess Goddell, “War is disgusting and horrific,” she said. “It never leaves the people who were involved in it. The damage is far greater than the lists of casualties or cost in dollars. It permeates lifestyles. It infects cultures and people and worldviews. The war is never over for us. The fighting stops. The troops get called back. But the war goes on for those damaged by war.”

Goodell goes on to describe how the Marines exploit young people, “Every single Marine I know goes to Iraq to help,” she said. “While I was there that is what I thought. That is why I volunteered. I thought I was going to help the Iraqis. I know better now. We did the dirty work. We were used by the government. The military knows that young, single men are dangerous. We breed it in Marines. We push the testosterone. We don’t want them to be educated….We cannot question anyone. We do what we are told.”

Absent from corporate media coverage of suicide rates among the troops, is a comprehensive analysis of the nature of the war and occupations itself. Corporate media acknowledges that “The Army and the Marine Corps, which have borne the heaviest burden in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been hit the hardest, reporting a record number of suicides in 2008. This year (2009), the toll is on pace to climb even higher. When combined, the figures paint a stark portrait of loss. More than 2,100 members of the armed forces have taken their own lives since 2001, nearly triple the number of troops who have died in Afghanistan and almost half of all U.S. fatalities in Iraq.”(2)

Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder is also widely covered in the corporate media with the focus on the soldiers themselves and not the US government’s position  in these wars and occupations.  Corporate media’s framing of impacts on solders never questions the US policy of maintaining a military empire of occupations and wars worldwide.

Instead a bipartisan group of senators is asking President Barack Obama to change the current “insensitive” policy of not sending condolence letters to families of service members who commit suicide. A letter signed by 11 senators — 10 Democrats and one Republican — and sent May 25 urged the president to “take immediate steps to reverse the long-standing policy of withholding presidential letters of condolence” to families of troops who killed themselves. (3)

 In the January 2011 issue of American Psychologist, the American Psychology Association (APA) dedicated 13 articles to detailing and celebrating a $117 million collaboration with the US Army, called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF).  It’s being marketed as a resilience training to reduce if not prevent adverse psychological consequences to soldiers who endure combat. Because of the CSF emphasis on “positive psychology,”advocates call it a holistic approach to warrior training.

Criticism arose shortly after the initiative was announced – including ethical questions about whether soldiers should be trained to be desensitized to traumatic events. Psychologist Bruce Levine loudly warned politicians, military brass, and the nation that if soldiers and veterans discover that they have been deceived about the meaningfulness and necessity of their mission, it is only human for them to become more prone to emotional turmoil, which can lead to destructive behaviors for themselves and others.

“This is the largest study – 1.1 million soldiers – psychology has ever been involved in” (a “study” is a common synonym for “research project”). But when asked during an NPR interview whether CSF would be “the largest-ever experiment,” Brigadier General Cornum, who oversees the program, responded, “Well, we’re not describing it as an experiment. We’re describing it as training.”

“It is highly unusual for the effectiveness of such a huge and consequential intervention program not to be convincingly demonstrated first in carefully conducted, randomized, controlled trials— before being rolled out under less controlled conditions,” writes Roy Eidelson, Marc Pilisuk and Stephen Soldz in Truthout.org.

The Obama administration has quietly put into practice an escalation of policy (practicing an ‘incomplete idea’ is an awkward concept, can this be reworded or should this be an attributed quote? left over from the Bush II presidency: creating a de facto ‘presidential international assassination program.’ Court documents, evidence offered by Human Rights Watch and a special United Nations report allege that US citizens suspected of encouraging “terror” had been put on “death lists.” Reports of these ‘death lists’ show that Obama’s Director of National Intelligence told a Congressional hearing that the program was within the rights of the Executive Branch of the government and did not need to be revealed. At least two people are known to have been murdered by Central Intelligence Agency operatives under this program. When the program was challenged in a New York City court, the judge refused to rule, saying, “there are circumstances in which the executive’s decision to kill U.S. citizens overseas is constitutionally committed to the political branches and judicially unreviewable.”
A moral, ethical, and legal analysis of assassinations seems to be significantly lacking inside corporate media.  The unquestioned announcement that the Obama administration has authorized assassinations of supposed terrorists, including US citizens, was on the front page of the Washington Post, January 27, 2010, by Dana Priest (4)

“After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests,” military and intelligence officials said. The evidence has to meet a certain, defined threshold. The person, for instance, has to pose  “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests,” said one former intelligence official. The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”  Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called “High Value Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added. (Priest 2010)

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the ALCU currently are challenging this notion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. This lawsuit stems from the killing of Nasser Al-Aulaqi’s son ( a U.S. citizen) who was targeted and killed by the United States Government.  It is interesting to note that according to CCR Staff Attorney Pardiss Kabriaei, “The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected the government’s claim to an unchecked system of global detention, and the district court should similarly reject the administration’s claim here to an unchecked system of global targeted killing.”  The ACLU and CCR hopes the court will rule that the U.S. Government can only kill a U.S. citizen if there is a proof of an imminent threat to life.

Focusing on American targets in a February 4 press release, Ben Wizner, a staff attorney for the ACLU National Security Project, emphasizes: “It is alarming to hear that the Obama administration is asserting that the president can authorize the assassination of Americans abroad, even if they are far from any battlefield and may have never taken up arms against the U.S., but have only been deemed to constitute an unspecified ‘threat.’” (5)

Francis A. Boyle at the University of Illinois College of Law writes that, ”This extrajudicial execution of human beings constitutes a grave violation of international human rights law and, under certain circumstances, can also constitute a war crime under the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949. In addition, the extrajudicial execution of U.S. citizens by the United States government also violates the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandating that no person “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

There is no corporate media-drawn correlation between the US policy of presidential assassinations and the on-ground troop engagement in outrageous human rights violations, which was made public when the German magazine Der Spiegel released images of smiling US soldiers kneeling next to naked children they had just massacred. The soldiers not only took the village children’s lives but also ripped out their teeth and fingertips to keep as keepsakes along with pictures of themselves holding the dead bodies up by their hair. Jeremy Morlock one of the soldiers in that group who participated in these incidents has agreed to negotiate his declaration against his colleagues and superiors, to reduce his sentence for the murders. This group of soldiers referred to themselves as “Team Death.”

Luke Mogelson  from the New York Times covered the trial of Jeremy Morlock May 1, 2011: (6)

In a military courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., 22-year-old Jeremy Morlock confessed to participating in the premeditated murder of Mullah Allah Dad, as well as the murders of two other Afghan civilians. In exchange for his agreement to testify against four other soldiers charged in the crimes, including the supposed ringleader, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the government reduced Morlock’s mandatory life sentence to 24 years, with the possibility of parole after approximately 8. The rest of the accused, who are still awaiting trial, contest the allegations against them.

The story that has been told so far — by Morlock in his confession and by various publications that relied heavily on the more sensational accusations from interviews hastily conducted by Army special agents in Afghanistan —is a fairly straightforward one: a sociopath joined the platoon and persuaded a handful of impressionable subordinates to join him in sport killing as opportunities arose. There may indeed be truth to this, though several soldiers in the platoon give a more complicated account. Certainly it’s a useful narrative, strategically and psychologically, for various parties trying to make sense of the murders —parents at a loss to explain their sons’ involvement and lawyers advocating their clients’ innocence and a military invested in a version of events that contains and cauterizes the problem. (Mogelson 2011)

While the tragic events of “Team Death” received widespread coverage in world news, Drug-crazed killers Rogue US army unit `hunted humans in Afghanistan’, The Daily Telegraph (Australia), March 23, 2011, most US coverage focused on the individuals as rogue deviants combined with  official apologies from the US military.

Additionally, Afghan Civilian deaths are usually reported in the US corporate media as isolated incidents, and/or mistakes. A comprehensive evaluation of the human and environmental costs of the war in Afghanistan is mostly ignored by the corporate media.

Afghani civilians are facing the deadliest period since the U.S. led invasion began more than nine years ago. According to the Afghanistan Rights Monitor at least 2,421 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, and more than 3,270 civilians were injured in conflict-related security incidents.  This means that every day 6-7 noncombatants were killed and 8-9 were wounded in the war.

In addition to the casualties, hundreds of thousands of people were affected in various ways by the intensified armed violence in 2010.  Tens of thousands were forced from their homes, or deprived of healthcare and education services and livelihood opportunities due to war.

Armed opposition groups were blamed for 63 percent of the total reported civilian deaths, US/NATO forces for 21 percent, pro-government Afghan forces 12 percent, and about 4 percent could not be attributed to an identifiable armed group and were labeled “unknown” in the report.  Improvised Explosive Devices were the most lethal tools, which killed over 690 civilians and wounded more than 1,800. At least 217 noncombatants died in air strikes and 192 killed in direct/indirect shooting by US/NATO forces in 2010.

The American military presence in Afghanistan consists of fleets of aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, weapons, equipment, troops and facilities. Since 2001, they have generated millions of kilograms of hazardous, toxic and radioactive wastes. The Kabul Press asks the simple question: “What have the Americans done with all that waste?” The answer is chilling in that virtually all of it appears to have been buried, burned or secretly disposed of into the air, soil, groundwater and surface waters of Afghanistan. While the Americans may begin to withdraw next year, the toxic chemicals they leave behind will continue to pollute for centuries. Any abandoned radioactive waste may stain the Afghan countryside for thousands of years. Afghanistan has been described in the past as the graveyard of foreign armies. Today, Afghanistan has a different title: “Afghanistan is the toxic dumping ground for foreign armies.”

Hundreds of tons of Depleted Uranium (DU) were used during the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The US forces forbid any kind of DU related exploration programs or research.  They have also covered up and denied DU’s damaging health effects, and refused to release information on the amounts, types and locations of these weapons. As a consequence, thousands of Iraqi and Afghan children and their families are suffering from various low level radiation (LLR) related diseases such as malignancies, congenital heart diseases, chromosomal aberration and multiple congenital malformations.  Women in the contaminated areas suffered high rates of miscarriages and sterility.

DU weapons are manufactured from radioactive waste generated during the enrichment process of natural uranium as part of the nuclear fuel cycle. American and British armed forces fired DU bullets and projectiles for the first time against a human population and environment in Iraq during the Gulf War, 1991. When DU munitions hit their target, they ignite prophetically and generate heat that reaches a temperature of 3000-6000 degrees F? or C?. This heat causes  the DU and other metals to form a gas or aerosol of nanoparticles. These nanoparticles cross the lung blood barrier, gain entrance to the cells and create free radicals. Some effects that the people are facing are immune and hormonal systems damage, disruption of thyroid function, and tetrogenic toxicity as soluble DU oxides cross the placenta to the fetus, resulting in damages that range from behavioral problems to mental retardation and congenital malformations.

President Obama’s undeclared and Congressionally unauthorized war against Libya may be compounded by the crime of spreading toxic uranium oxide in populated areas of that country.

Concern is being voiced by groups such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which monitor the military use of DU anti-tank and bunker-penetrating shells.

As of late March, 2011, the US has not introduced its A-10 Thunderbolts, known also as Warthogs, into the Libyan campaign, probably because these sub-sonic, straight-wing craft, while heavily armored, are vulnerable to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles which Libyan forces are known to possess in large numbers. Once the air-control situation is improved by continued bombardment, however, these specialized ground-attack aircraft will probably be added to the attacking forces. The A-10 has a particularly large automatic cannon, which fires an unusually large 30 mm shell. These shells are often fitted with solid uranium projectiles.

Sources:

Censored #1: More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat

Death and After in Iraq, Chris Hedges, Truthdig, March 21, 2011.  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_body_baggers_of_iraq_20110321

More US Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010, Cord Jefferson. Good, January 27, 2011. http://www.good.is/post/more-us-soldiers-killed-themselves-than-died-in-combat-in-2010/

Student Researcher: Bay Ewald, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University

Censored #3: Obama Authorizes International Assassination Campaign

William Fisher, Inter press Service, “Judge Declines to Rule on Targeted Killings of U.S. Citizens,” Dec. 8 2010
http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?idnews=3426

Human Rights Watch, Dec. 7, 2010, “Letter to President Obama – Targeted Killings
http://www.hrw.org//en/news/1210/12/07/letter-obama-targetedkillings

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, Apr. 7, 2010, “Confirmed: Obama Authorizes Assassination of U.S. Citizen,”
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/07/assassinations

Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Mar 30, 2010 www.extrajudicialexecutions.org/…/Handbook%20Chapter%201%20Use%20of%20Force%20During%2…

Prof. Francis A. Boyle. Global Research, February 10, 2010, “Extra Judicial Killings: U.S. Government ‘Death List’ for American Citizens,”
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17527
Student Researchers: John M. Curtin, Molliann Zahm, Maria Rose, Vincent Caruso & George Antzoulis (Niagara University)
Faculty Evaluator:Brian Martin Murphy (Niagara University)

US Government Claims Right to Kill Americans Anytime and Anywhere

Obama Administration Claims Unchecked Authority to Kill Americans Outside Combat Zones, CommonDreams.org, November 8th, 2010
URL: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/11/08-4
Student Researcher: Jason Corbett, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Cynthia Boaz, Sonoma State University
For more information on the case, including fact sheets and legal papers, visit: www.aclu.org/targetedkillings and www.ccrjustice.org/targetedkillings

Censored #7: U.S. Army and 
Psychology’s Largest Experiment–Ever

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness: A Holistic Approach to Warrior Training, Jeremy McCarthy. August 17, 2010.
http://psychologyofwellbeing.com/201008/comprehensive-soldier-fitness.html

The Dark Side of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, Roy Eidelson, Marc Pilisuk and Stephen Soldz. April 1, 2011.
http://www.truthout.org/dark-side-comprehensive-soldier-fitness/1301814000

Army’s Spiritual Fitness Test Comes Under Fire, Jason Leopold. January 5, 2011.
http://www.truth-out.org/armys-fitness-test-designed-psychologist-who-inspired-cias-torture-program-under-fire66577?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Student Researcher: Rene Arellano, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University


Censored # 25: Extension of DU to Libya

Toxic Intervention: Are NATO Forces Poisoning Libya with Depleted Uranium as They ‘Protect’ Civilians? By  Dave Lindorf,  http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/530
Student Researcher: Nathasha Terry-Ulett, Florida Atlantic University
Faculty Advisor: James Tracy, Florida Atlantic University

The Contamination of Iraq with Depleted Uranium (DU) Causes Health Concerns

Crime of the Century:  Contaminating Iraq with Depleted uranium, Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawi. B Russells Tribunal , September 19, 2010
http://www.brusselstribunal.org/pdf/DU-Azzawi.pdf
Faculty Evaluator: Elaine Wellin, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Rosa Caldera, Sonoma State University

Related Validated News Stories
Aftershock: The Ticking Time Bomb of Soldiers’ Traumatic Brain Injuries
Author: T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling

Source: alternet.org, 3/27/11
http://www.alternet.org/world/150391/aftershock%3A_the_ticking_time_bomb_of_soldiers%27_traumatic_brain_injuries/?page=1
Student Researcher: Karen Kniel, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University

Suicide Claims More US Military Lives than Afghan War

Author: James Cogan, World Socialist Web Site, January 2010
URL: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/suic-j06.shtml
Student Researcher: Josh Crockett
Faculty Evaluator: Heather Flynn, Sonoma State University

US Solders Murder Children and Dishonor their Bodies

Let the children come to me. Proyecto Censurado 2/1 by  Ernesto Carmonahttp://www.proyectocensurado.org/america-latina/dejad-que-los-ninos-vengan-a-mi/
Student Researcher: Ana Elliott

Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University

American Military Creating An Environmental Disaster In Afghan Countryside

American Military Creating an Environmental Disaster in Afghan Countryside (Part 1 of 3). America plans to withdraw its troops but leave behind a toxic mess. Mathew Nasuti, Kabul Press, 25 April 2010http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article7985

American Military Burn Pits Pollute Afghan Countryside (Part 2 of 3). American military incinerators may not be safe for Afghanistan. Mathew Nasuti, Kabul Press, 2 May, 2010
http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article9030
American Military Burn Pits Pose Risk to Future Generations of Afghans (Part 3 of 3). More than 350 toxic sites need to be studied. Mathew Nasuti, Kabul Press, 4 May 2010 http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article9421
Afghanistan And Iraq. DOD: Should Improve Adherence to Its Guidance on Open Pit Burning and Solid Waste Management. United States Government Accountability Office, October 2010, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1163.pdf

Promoting the Dialogue: Climate Change and U.S. Ground Forces. Christine Parthemore,
April 2010,
http://www.cnas.org/files/documents/publications/Promoting_Dialogue_ClimateChange&GroundForces_Parthemore_April2010_code408_workingpaper.pdf
Student Researchers: Joan Pedro, Luis Luján
Faculty Evaluator: Dra. Ana I. Segovia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Madrid (Spain)

Afghan Civilian Deaths at Record Level

Title: Afghan Civilian Killings at Record Level
Author/Source: Democracy Now! 2/28/2011
URL:  http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/28/headlines#8
Title: Afghan Civilian Deaths Hit Record Levels in 2010
By Amanda Terkel, The Huffington Post 2/1/2011
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/01/afghan-civilian-deaths-record-levels-2010_n_816813.html
ARM Annual Report Civilian Casualties of War January-December 2010
Author/Source: Afghanistan Rights Monitor 2/1/2011
URL:  http://www.arm.org.af/” http://www.arm.org.af/

Student Researcher: Amy Ortiz, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Professor Jim Preston, Sonoma State University
 Endnotes

1. Zoroya, Gregg, USA Today, 7/20/10, http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-07-29-army-suicides_N.htm.

2. Star-Ledger, November 22, 2009, Military suicides increase as U.S. soldiers struggle with torment of war

3. Levine, Andrew Obama urged to reverse policy on no condolence letters for suicides. http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-26/politics/president.suicides.letters_1_condolence-letters suicide-rate-policy?_s=PM:POLITICS

4. Priest, Dana, U.S. military teams, intelligence deeply involved in aiding Yemen on strikes, Washington Post, January 27, 2010, A-01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012604239_pf.html

5. ACLU, February 4, 2010, Intelligence Official Acknowledges Policy Allowing Targeted Killings Of Americans, http://www.aclu.org/national-security/intelligence-official-acknowledges-policy-allowing-targeted-killings-americans

6. Mogelson, Luke, A Beast in the Heart, New York Times, May 1, 2011 Section MM; Column 0; Magazine Desk; Pg. 34

A car bomb explosion near the British embassy in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, points more to a propaganda stunt by the Western-backed regime than to a “terrorist attack”.

Notably, the apparent attack in the capital’s Diplomatic Area in the early hours of Sunday came the same weekend it was announced that two former police chiefs from the US and Britain were appointed by the autocratic rulers to “reform” the Persian Gulf Kingdom’s security forces. 

Bahrain – which has been a key Western ally since nominal independence from Britain in 1971, serving as the Persian Gulf base for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet  – was the subject of discomfiting criticism last week when a high-level inquiry reported on widespread human rights violations committed by its security forces.

It seemed too good to be true when the royal-appointed human rights commission highlighted manifold violations by the regime.

Both Washington and London – the main patrons of the unelected Al Khalifa monarchy – issued statements expressing concern over the extent of crimes and abuses reported by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). But such reaction from the Western backers of the autocratic Sunni monarchy smacked of cloying cynicism. For it was Washington and London that gave the green light in the first place for the withering crackdown against pro-democracy protests in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom that erupted in February 2011. The crackdown escalated in March with the invasion of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and continued unabated for the past eight months.

The BICI headed up by US-educated legal expert Cherif Bassiouni was apparently initiated in June by Bahrain’s King Hamad Al Khalifa to “investigate allegations” of what to many observers were obvious and flagrant violations against unarmed civilians following the US/UK approved Saudi-led crackdown in Bahrain. Several international human rights groups, including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, had already catalogued the repression in Bahrain.

So, that the BICI found evidence of “systematic abuses” and “excessive force” is no grounds for congratulating the BICI. This is the very kind of “discovery” that the most cursory, independent probe would be expected to find. That the US and Britain responded with “dismay” at the “disturbing” findings is no grounds either to believe that such reaction reflects surprised concern. How could it when these powers approved the violations in the first place? Their admonitions to the Al Khalifa regime to “implement” recommendations by the Bassiouni inquiry for release of hundreds of detained protesters and to uphold human rights are equally hollow and cynical.

The real purpose of the BICI seems to have been to whitewash the Bahraini rulers and allow continued (hypocritical) Western support of the regime at a time when these powers are making such a “principled” stance against Syria over alleged human rights violations. Yes, the BICI did point up the (obvious) violations, but the implication from its finding are that these violations were committed by lowly ranks. Nowhere did the inquiry impugn the rulers or their Western sponsors, let alone call for prosecutions. Washington and London’s reaction, which commended King Hamad for his appointment of the inquiry, appear to dovetail neatly with this whitewash. Calling on the king to uphold its recommendations serves to legitimize the rulers as being willing, or capable of adhering to, international standards.

In the long view, what appears to be going on in Bahrain is a coordinated public relations exercise choreographed from Washington and London. The appointment of the Bassiouni inquiry at the end of June came a couple of weeks after Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman was feted in Downing Street and the White House, where the regime announced a “national dialogue” with oppositionists. The commission of inquiry seems to have been designed as a sweetener to engage the pro-democracy movement in a political dialogue that from the outset is carefully framed to advantage the rulers, that is a dialogue that does not, cannot, pose a serious challenge to the positions of power held by the Western-backed rulers.

The appointment of two former US and British police chiefs to “oversee reforms” of Bahrain’s security forces appears to be part of this choreographed whitewash. Former Miami police commander John Timoney has been criticized in the past for heavy-handed tactics against American citizens; while John Yates was forced to resign his position in London’s Metropolitan Police in July over the Murdoch press phone-tapping scandal. Both men are hardly qualified therefore to oversee genuine reforms in Bahrain. And, indeed, their appointments can be understood as not being aimed at achieving any substantive reform, but rather merely the appearance of reform. Furthermore, the Bahraini Ministry of Interior is a creature of British policing. Between 1968-98, the head of Bahrain’s police was British Colonel Ian Henderson who oversaw the formation of a notoriously vicious force, including systematic techniques of torture and repression.

From the whitewash point of view, one flaw in the BICI report was that it clearly stated that Iran has played no role in Bahrain’s recent uprising. This finding did not surprise many observers of the Bahrain pro-democracy movement because there never was any evidence of Iranian interference. However, the finding must have disappointed the Bahraini rulers and their Western backers, both of whom have regularly sought to invoke the Iranian bogeyman as a way of discrediting what is inherently and simply an uprising for basic democratic rights for the Shia majority in Bahrain who have been disenfranchised since the Al Khalifas were installed by their British patrons 40 years ago.

This is where the latest car bombing near the British embassy in Manama comes in. No-one has pointed the finger at Iran yet. But the bombing comes at a time of rising tensions in the region between Britain and Iran over an attack on the British embassy in Tehran by protesters there, which in turn followed provocative sanctions by London in the ongoing Western campaign to target Iran.

In Bahrain, following the car bomb, the British embassy made this statement:  “We are aware of an incident involving a vehicle near the British embassy in the early hours of Sunday 4 December. Police and Fire services attended. There were no casualties or injuries. We cannot confirm the cause of or responsibility for the incident. We are liaising with the [Bahraini] Ministry of Interior.”

Suspiciously, local sources say that the Diplomatic Area in Manama where the incident occurred was sealed off for several hours by the regime before the explosion.

British and American “liaison” with Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior may well result in “evidence” of Iranian involvement in the explosion. Or at the very least the incident will serve to heighten “national security” measures that will allow the Bahraini regime to suspend reforms recommended by the BICI and cynically echoed by Washington and London. In other words, another dissembling dollop of paint lashed on the choreographed whitewash of America and Britain’s key ally in the Gulf.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa correspondent

[email protected]

Global Research Editor’s Note

The decision of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal on November 22, 2011 has a bearing on other jurisdictions where Bush and Blair may be arrested on war crimes charges

Change of plan: George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Geneva for a charity gala over fears he could be arrested on torture charges

Former U.S. President George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Switzerland over fears he could have been arrested on torture charges.

Mr Bush was due to be the keynote speaker at a Jewish charity gala in Geneva on February 12.

But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the country.

Criminal complaints against Mr Bush alleging torture have been lodged in Geneva, court officials said.

Human rights groups said they had intended to submit a 2,500-page case against him in the Swiss city tomorrow for alleged mistreatment of suspected militants at Guantanamo Bay.

Left-wing groups have also called for a protest on the day of his visit, leading organisers at Keren Hayesod’s annual dinner to cancel Mr Bush’s participation on security grounds.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch and International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said the cancellation was linked to growing moves told him accountable for the use of torture, including waterboarding.

He had admitted in his memoirs and TV interviews to ordering the use of the interrogation technique which simulates drowning.

Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, said: ‘He’s avoiding the handcuffs.’

Protest: Mr Bush was due to be keynote speaker at Keren Hayesod's annual charity dinner, but organisers pulled out over security concerns

Protest: Mr Bush was due to be keynote speaker at Keren Hayesod’s annual charity dinner, but organisers pulled out over security concerns

The action in Switzerland showed Mr Bush had reason to fear legal complaints against him if he travelled to countries that have ratified an international treaty banning torture, he said.

Mr Brody is a U.S.-trained lawyer who specialises in pursuing war crimes, including Chile’s late dictator Augusto Pinochet and Chad’s ousted president Hissene Habre.

Admission: Mr Bush defended the use of waterboarding in his memoir 'Decision Points' as key at avoiding a repeat of the September 11 attacks

Admission: Mr Bush defended the use of waterboarding in his memoir ‘Decision Points’ as key at avoiding a repeat of the September 11 attacks

Habre has been charged by Belgium with crimes against humanity and torture and is currently exiled in Senegal.

He said: ‘President Bush has admitted ordering waterboarding which everyone considers to be a form of torture under international law.

‘Under the Convention on Torture, authorities would have been obliged to open an investigation and either prosecute or extradite George Bush.’

Swiss judicial officials have said that the former president would still enjoy a certain diplomatic immunity as a former head of state.

Dominique Baettig, a member of the Swiss parliament from the People’s Party, wrote to the Swiss federal government last week calling for his arrest if he came to the neutral country.

In his ‘Decision Points’ memoirs, Mr Bush strongly defended the use of waterboarding as key to preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks on the U.S.

Most human rights experts consider the practice a form of torture, banned by the Convention on Torture.

Switzerland and the U.S. are among 147 countries that have ratified the 1987 treaty.

US-NATO Aggression against Pakistan

December 5th, 2011 by Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg

On the night of 25/26th November, the American and NATO aircraft and gunships attacked the two Pakistani border posts in Salala area of Mohmand Agency and killed 28 Pakistani soldiers, including two officers – a blatant violation of Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty and the terms of cooperation, with the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF).

In fact, this incident is part of a conspiracy, against Pakistan, growing from frustration of the ISAF, who having lost the war, have begun to leave from Afghanistan without guarantee for a safe exit. The Salala incident explains their desperation and the sinister design.

The Pakistani troops operating in the Salala area, on the night of 25/26 Nov, had trapped the Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TPP) militants, about 50 strong, belonging to Waliur Rahman/Fazalullah group, engaged in anti-Pakistan activities.

The militants gave the SOS to ISAF and NATO and American aircraft and gunships rushed to rescue the trapped militants. The two Pakistani posts came under intense fire. The Pakistani officer commanding the posts, immediately contacted the ISAF and warned them that, it were the Pakistani posts, under attack, and fire must stop, but the message was ignored and the attack continued for over two hours, till the militants were rescued to the safety of Afghan territory. This brutal act of the ISAF was not the only incident, because earlier on our border posts had been attacked by the militants, supported by ISAF, killing many of our troops. This was the third time that ISAF violated Pakistan’s territory.

Last year in September 2010 a similar incident had occurred on our border, killing a number of our soldiers. The second time, they intruded deep inside Pakistan, to kill Osama near Abbottabad and got away with it.A few months back, in a meeting of senior officers in GHQ, I had warned that ISAF would ‘again test our nerves’ and we better be prepared to retaliate against such intrusions, and recommended that they should have a look at the “Selective Punishment Concept” of 10 Corps, implemented by Major General Safdar, SJ, GOC 12 Division in 1990, who silenced the Indian guns along the Line of Control, through bold and “prompt retaliatory actions”. But in this case, at Salala, such a ‘prompt retaliatory action’ could not be taken, therefore, we now have to consider choosing the next best option to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.A retaliatory action, ‘to draw blood for blood’, is the best option, but the enemy is on high alert now.

‘Retorsion’ would be the next best policy i.e., “to return upon the assailants with sharp punitive moves”. In this regard some of the actions have already been initiated by the government such as: rejection of the expression of regrets; the ISAF supplies through Pakistan have been stopped; no more drone attacks; Shamsi Air Base to be vacated; Pakistan not to participate in the Bonn Conference on 5th December; cancellation of all visits, tours, sports events etc involving the US and EU; diplomatic engagement with friendly countries to solicit support; no more business as usual and the need to re-evaluate ties with the US.

Since the occupation forces are operating under the UN mandate, therefore, Pakistan has taken-up the matter with the UN to investigate and punish the perpetrators of this crime.Despite 10 years long struggle by the occupation forces, they find themselves, trapped in a ‘nut-cracker situation’ of having lost the war, and unable to retain control over Afghanistan, with no guarantee for a safe exit. And yet ISAF want to have their way, forcing Pakistan to eliminate the support bases of the Taliban on Pakistan territory and force Mullah Umar to negotiate peace, “on the losers (ISAF) terms”.

This illogical demand is not achievable either, therefore, the ISAF may decide to leave Afghanistan in a state of panic. In 1990 the Americans induced a civil war, which led to the rise of the Taliban, who were attacked in 2001 and the country was occupied on the flimsy charge of sheltering Osama and his gang of al-Qaeda. Afghanistan, once again will be in a state of turmoil, with no peace in the region.The Salala incident has provided the opportunity to correct the course of Pak-US relations and indemnify the past losses.

Pakistan’s priority therefore could be:

”Re-evaluate ties with the US and establish relations based on equality and mutual respect. ”US must not be allowed to establish Indian hegemony over Pakistan and Afghanistan, because that would amount to changing the geo-historical reality, confirmed by Quaid-e-Azam, to guard Pakistan’s security interests.”Pakistan must bring to an end the running battle with its own tribals and establish peace on the borders and eliminate the ingress made in these areas, by foreign agencies.”

The ISAF is likely to leave Afghanistan in a state of disorder. It is therefore our bounded responsibility to help our brotherly neighbour, to eliminate the traces of deceit, intrigues and divisions created during the last 30 years of foreign occupation.”

In 2001, we joined ISAF, in their war against Afghanistan and committed the greatest sin. We must correct this mistake, by establishing our relations with the people of Afghanistan and engage with them whole-heartedly to rebuild the country and its traditional way of life.Pakistan is passing through very difficult times, which demand the best, from the nation. The nation will not be wanting in resilience and response, to face these challenges. Pakistani nation’s geo-historical heritage is drawn from the Indus Civilization, and also imbibes the élan and ethos of the great civilizations with whom it shares the borders. Let nobody take Pakistan lightly and let there be no doubt in any body’s mind that out of such depths of sorrow and sacrifice, Pakistan will rise into a vibrant and progressive country, to claim its rightful place in the comity of nations.

The writer is former Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan

[email protected]

A study published Friday by Rutgers University documents the desperate situation facing millions of American workers who lost their jobs in the recession that began four years ago. The survey of laid-off workers, conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, found that only 22 percent of those who lost their jobs between August 2008 and August 2009 were working full-time as of August 2011.

Just 7 percent of the unemployed initially contacted by the Heldrich Center in the summer of 2009 say they have regained their previous income level. Another 23 percent say they are on their way back, having experienced a minor downward change in their quality of life that they believe to be temporary.

But a full 36 percent speak of “cataclysmic effects” of the recession and prolonged unemployment, including 21 percent whom the report’s authors consider to have been “devastated” and another 15 percent “who appear to have been wrecked by the recession.” (Emphasis in the original). The former category includes those in poor financial shape who have suffered a major decline in their standard of living, even if they believe it to be temporary. The latter comprises workers who are in poor financial shape, have suffered a major decline in lifestyle and believe the new state of affairs to be permanent.

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed say their personal financial situation is in “poor shape,” 58 percent say the economic crisis has had a “major impact” on themselves and their families, and 41 percent believe that the impact on their standard of living will be permanent.

The study found that the crisis has taken its biggest toll on those with no college education, 46 percent of whom have been “devastated” or “wrecked.” However, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of college graduates in the survey have likewise been “devastated” by the jobs crisis.

The age group most severely impacted consists of workers between the ages of 45 and 59, 48 percent of whom have been devastated. Close behind are laid-off workers aged 30 to 44, 43 percent of whom have been devastated by the crisis.

An indication of the toll—economic, social and psychological—of the slump on the unemployed is given by the responses to questions concerning the experiences of workers in the different categories. Eighteen percent of “recovering” workers sold possessions to make ends meet; 41 percent of those in a middle category called “downsized” sold possessions, as did 66 percent of those “devastated” by the crisis. Large percentages in each of these categories borrowed money from family or friends, including half of those “recovering” and two-thirds of those “devastated.”

Those surveyed commonly cut back on medical visits and reduced spending on food “so much it affects daily life.” In all of the categories, excluding the 7 percent who had “made it back,” a majority of respondents reported “strain in family relations,” including 60 percent of the downsized workers and 79 percent of the devastated workers.

The authors of the study, entitled “Categorizing the Unemployed by the Impact of the Recession”, surveyed 1,202 people who had been laid off between August 2008 and 2009, then asked the group the same questions in March 2010, November 2010 and August 2011.

Cliff Zukin, a professor of public policy and political science at Rutgers and one of the authors of the report, said, “The news is strikingly bad.” He went on to say that the data from the survey provided “a tremendous impression of dislocation and pain and wasted talent.”

Neither President Obama nor any other member of his administration has even mentioned the Rutgers report. Instead, Obama on Friday hailed the Labor Department employment report for November released the same day. That report showed a tepid increase in US payrolls and a 0.4 percent decline in the official jobless rate, caused by a mass exodus of 315,000 discouraged workers from the labor force.

It also showed that the average duration of unemployment had hit a new record of 40.9 weeks in November and the portion of the unemployed out of work for more than six months had increased to 43 percent. Bloomberg, citing Labor Department statistics, reported that 12 million people in the US were out of work and receiving no benefits in November, an increase of nearly 700,000 from the previous year.

The mass media have barely reported the Rutgers report, reflecting the callous indifference of the entire political establishment to the social devastation resulting from the jobs crisis and the policies of the government and both big business parties.

The Rutgers study is only the latest in a series of reports documenting growing poverty and social inequality and widespread social misery in the United States. Last month, the Census Bureau released a new measurement of poverty that increased the estimate of the number of poor people in the US to 49 million. Earlier the same month, a study by the Brookings Institution found that Americans living in high-poverty neighborhoods increased by one third over the past 10 years.

In October, Gallup released a poll showing that the portion of Americans who did not have enough money to buy adequate food in the past 12 months grew from 9 percent to 19 percent between 2008 and 2011. This figure was three times higher than in China, where only 6 percent of people reported not having enough money for food in the same period.

Also in October, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the richest 1 percent of US households nearly tripled their income between 1979 and 2007 and doubled their share of the national income.

These conditions are not merely the result of impersonal forces. They are the product of definite policies pursued by successive US administrations, Democratic as well as Republican, in behalf of the narrow and selfish interests of the corporate-financial elite. The Obama administration has intensified the ruling class assault on the living standards of the working class carried out by previous administrations.

Obama has rejected any serious policies to provide jobs or real relief for the unemployed, while devoting his administration’s efforts to bailing out the financial aristocracy and ensuring its further enrichment. This has included a policy of wage cutting, initiated with the forced bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler, and support for brutal cuts in social services, jobs, wages, health benefits and pensions at the state and local levels.

The result has been a sharp fall in labor costs and a surge in corporate profits. Since 2008, labor costs have fallen by over 3 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. By comparison, in the postwar period unit labor costs on average increased 3 percent per year.

In the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, corporate profits have risen every year since 2008. In 2009 they were up by 12.6 percent and in 2010 by 19.0 percent. They are on course to hit a new record this year.

The next step is a frontal assault on the core social programs that remain—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps—as part of the drive to make the working class pay for the plundering of the state treasury in the multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street.

In 2009, the World Socialist Web Site wrote that “the current government-corporate offensive is aimed at fundamentally restructuring class relations in the US. There is to be no return to the conditions that existed prior to the current economic crisis. The aim is nothing less than the destruction of all that remains of the gains won by previous generations of workers and the impoverishment of the entire working class.”

This analysis has been completely vindicated by events. The Obama administration, acting in behalf of the capitalist class, is utilizing the crisis precipitated by the parasitic and criminal operations of the banks to carry out a social counterrevolution. The conscious aim is to destroy all of the past social gains of the working class.

The Occupy Wall Street protests, which are an initial expression of deep-rooted anger and mounting hostility toward capitalism among broad sections of the population, anticipate the emergence of mass working class struggles. They have been met with brutal repression by local governments headed by Democratic as well as Republican politicians all across the country, carried out with the tacit support of the Obama administration.

This demonstrates that the fight against social inequality, poverty and the domination of the banks is a political fight against the capitalist state and all of its parties and representatives. The only way forward is the building of a mass socialist movement of the working class to break the grip of the financial oligarchy and place the corporations and banks under the democratic control of the people, so that production can be carried out to meet social needs, not private profit.

EEUU: De carceleros e inmigrantes

December 5th, 2011 by Cristina Baccin

Rubén y Neida noviaron por unos 3 años y finalmente, decidieron casarse. Ambos vivían en New Jersey. Rubén Quinteros llegó a EEUU hace 10 años y trabajaba como mecánico. Cuando se preparaba con entusiasmo para su boda con Neida Lavayén, una semana antes de la ceremonia, fue detenido y apresado por los agentes del Servicio de Inmigración en el taller donde trabajaba. ¿Su delito?: permanecer en el país sin visa. Quinteros, de nacionalidad uruguaya y Lavayén -colombiana de origen, ciudadana americana, madre de dos niños-, iban a formalizar su vida en familia y también, de ese modo, regularizarían la residencia legal  de Rubén en EEUU. Y no pudo ser así: el sueño del matrimonio no se realizó porque Rubén fue encarcelado en Delaney Hall de Newark, un centro de detención privado, y luego deportado a Uruguay por no disponer de su visa en regla (New York Times, 12/11/2011).  

El caso de Rubén no es atípico ni fortuito: en la actualidad existen cerca de 300.000 casos de deportaciones pendientes en las cortes.  En agosto de 2009, la administración del presidente Obama, a través de su Secretaria Janet Napolitano, sostuvo que reformarían las leyes migratorias, una promesa de los tiempos electorales largamente esperada. Sin embargo, hasta ahora hubo una ostensible reafirmación de políticas que criminalizan a los inmigrantes quienes son tratados como delincuentes. La parte más interesada en que esta situación continúe es la “industria” privada carcelaria en cuyos establecimientos son predominantemente detenidos.  

La privatización de las cárceles en EEUU comenzó en los años ´80 cuando la Corrections Corporation of America (CCA, tal su sigla en inglés; www.cca.com)  obtuvo un contrato para gestionar una unidad carcelaria en Hamilton County (Tennesse). En la actualidad, las principales “industrias” carcelarias líderes son corporaciones internacionales, tales como: la mencionada CCA; G4s (www.G4s.us), una compañía anglo-danesa, y SERCO ( www.serco-na.com ).  En los Estados Unidos, las compañías privadas controlan casi la mitad de los centros de detención, como el caso del centro donde fuera encarcelado Rubén Quinteros (New York Times, 28/9/2011). Reiteradas denuncias de violación de derechos humanos abundan en el currículum de estos centros de detención (www.detentionwatchnetwork.org).  Y cabe mencionar que dichas corporaciones también operan en Latinoamérica, como es el caso de la agencia G4s que opera en Argentina, gerenciada por el Capitán (R) del Ejército Argentino, Jorge Aníbal Santiago Cadelago con contratos con la ciudad de Buenos Aires, entre otros.  

La  principal fuente de  beneficios de las cárceles privadas es mantenerlas siempre al máximo (o más) de su capacidad. La estadía por día (como en un hotel) tiene  un costo promedio por detenido de 78.88 dólares (1), unos 30.000 dólares por año. Los servicios de estas compañías carceleras al Departamento de Seguridad Interna incluyen no sólo la estadía sino también el viaje: ellos deportan a los inmigrantes a sus países de origen a un costo promedio estimado de 23.000 dólares por pasajero (New York Times, 27/10/2011). Se trata de un negocio millonario  para lo cual estas corporaciones realizan cuantiosas inversiones en el lobby hacia políticos, legisladores y funcionarios para sostener y acentuar políticas que los beneficien, tal  como lo evidencia un reciente informe de Justice Police Institute (2).  

¿Cómo se garantizan el mayor lucro posible estas cárceles privadas? Asegurándose una clientela “cautiva”: los inmigrantes, “garantidos” por  las políticas migratorias que el gobierno sostiene mediante leyes que los criminalizan. Ellos “los ofrecen” como negocio a las corporaciones carcelarias mediante diversos mecanismos, tales como: la seguridad fronteriza, la seguridad de aeropuertos, la detención, y la deportación.   

Según el último Censo poblacional (2010), 10.200.000 personas son adultos inmigrantes sin autorización para residir en el país y, por ende, potenciales “clientes” para los carceleros privados. Más de la mitad de estos adultos tienen hijos menores de edad. El 58% de dicha población inmigrante, o sea, 6 millones y medio de personas son mejicanos, según el Pew Hispanic Center (3). Si la acción del Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos sigue trabajando tan eficientemente, en unos años, habría deportado la población equivalente a todo el país de Bolivia, dejando en el país, más de 5 millones de niños sin uno (o ambos) padres.

La privatización de los servicios públicos alcanza en EEUU niveles inverosímiles y la búsqueda de beneficios como esencia del sistema que pregona, no se ahorra el espanto. En el sistema educativo, los niños y los jóvenes no son estudiantes y ciudadanos  con derecho a aprender sino, en primer lugar, clientes. En el sistema de salud, los enfermos no son pacientes a ser curados, sino clientes cuyos bolsillos deben ser extirpados. En el sistema de seguridad, el principal objetivo no es el bienestar de la comunidad sino la búsqueda de lucro apresando la mayor cantidad de “clientes” inmigrantes para satisfacer la necesidad de más y más beneficios de sus carceleros, llenando su capacidad hotelera -perdón-, carcelera al único costo de destrozar familias enteras (ajenas o “alien”, tal el término  usado en inglés).

(1)  “Correctional Yearbook”. American Correctional Association: Alexandria, VA, 2009

(2)  “Gaming the system: How the political strategies of private prison companies promote ineffective incarceration policies”. Justice Policy Institute: Washington D.C.,  June 2011 (www.justicepolicy.org)

(3)  Paul Taylor, Mark Hugo Lopez, Jeffrey Passel, and Seth Motel, “Unauthorized Immigrants: Length of Residency, Patterns of Parenthood”. Pew Research Center, 1 diciembre 2011. (www.pewhispanic.org )

Cristina Baccin : Escribe desde ESTADOS UNIDOS – Periodista – Fue Decana de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, UNICEN (Prov. Buenos Aires, Argentina), Profesora e Investigadora en Comunicación Social en Argentina (Univ. Nac.  de La Plata, Universidad Nacional del Centro de Bs. As., entre otras) y España (Univ. Pont. de Salamanca). E-mail: [email protected]

Amid conflicting reports that a huge explosion at Iran’s uranium conversion facility in Isfahan occurred last week, speculation was rife that Israel and the United States were stepping-up covert attacks against defense and nuclear installations.

The Isfahan complex transforms mined uranium into uranium fluoride gas which is then “spun” by centrifuges that enrich it into usable products for medical research and for Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program.

While Iranian officials sought to distance themselves from initial reporting by the semi-official Fars news agency that a “loud explosion” was heard across the city, but that “the sound of the explosion was from [a] military exercise,” has been contradicted by several sources.

Indeed, some Iranian officials have denied that an explosion even took place.

On Tuesday however, The Times reported that “satellite imagery … confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.”

“The images,” Times reporter Sheera Frenkel averred, “clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was ‘no doubt’ that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was ‘no accident’.”

Despite clear evidence that Israel and the United States have stepped-up their shadow war against the Islamic Republic, Defense Minister Ehud Barak “played down speculation on Saturday that Israel and U.S.-led allies were waging clandestine war on Iran, saying sanctions and the threat of military strikes were still the way to curb its nuclear program,” Reuters reported.

Proverbial “facts on the ground” however, tell a different tale.

The latest attack on Iran’s civilian nuclear program followed a blast two weeks ago at the sprawling Bid Ganeh missile base 25 miles west of Tehran.

That blast killed upwards of 30 members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including Major General Hassan Moqqadam, a senior leader of Iran’s missile program.

Satellite imagery shows much of the base in ruins. The attack was described by Time Magazine as the work “of Israel’s external intelligence service, Mossad.”

In a backhanded confirmation that Monday’s blast was the handiwork of Mossad and their terrorist proxies, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), Frenkel wrote that “Dan Meridor, the Israeli Intelligence Minister, said: ‘There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat’.”

Frenkel reported that “Major-General Giora Eiland, Israel’s former director of national security told Israel’s army radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. ‘There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God’,” Eiland said.

The Isfahan blast, as with other recent attacks, were allegedly in response to allegations made last month in a report filed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

However, while the “Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities,” the ginned-up report relied on information provided by “Member states,” presumably Israel and United States in the form of forged computer laptop documents and other “intelligence sources.”

The Agency claims they were “unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Black operations targeting the Islamic Republic aren’t solely the province of America’s “stationary aircraft carrier in the Middle East,” Israel. As Seymour Hersh reported last spring in The New Yorker: “In the past six years, soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Force, working with Iranian intelligence assets, put in place cutting-edge surveillance techniques, according to two former intelligence officers.”

In 2007, ABC News disclosed that “the CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert ‘black’ operation to destabilize the Iranian government.”

Unnamed sources told ABC News that President Bush signed a presidential finding “that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions.”

Congress has appropriated some $300 million for the CIA and the Pentagon’s covert war.

In the intervening years, those programs have turned lethal. Widely applauded by “liberal” Democrats and “conservative” Republicans alike, these programs have continued, indeed expanded under Barack Obama’s “progressive” Democratic administration.

Despite the fact that there “is also constant satellite coverage of major suspect areas in Iran,” The New Yorker reported “that nothing significantly new had been learned to suggest that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.”

‘Shadow War’ Heating Up

Iran’s intelligence services haven’t been sitting idly by watching American, British, and Israeli terror operations.

On Sunday, Al Jazeera reported that the Iranian armed forces “brought down an unmanned US spy plane.”

“Iran’s military has downed an intruding RQ-170 American drone in eastern Iran,” Iran’s Arabic-language Al Alam state television network quoted an unnamed source as saying on Sunday.”

“The semiofficial Fars news agency,” Al Jazeera averred, said “that the plane is now in the possession of Iran’s armed forces. The Fars news agency is close to the powerful Revolutionary Guard.”

“Fars reported that the drone had been brought down through a combined effort by Iran’s armed forces, air defence forces and its electronic warfare unit after the plane briefly violated the country’s airspace at its eastern border.”

An unnamed source, according to AFP, warned that Iran’s armed response would “not be limited to our country’s borders” for the “blatant territorial violation.”

AFP also reported that in June, “Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Guards’ aerospace unit, said Iran had shown Russian experts the US drones in its possession.

“‘Russian experts requested to see these drones and they looked at both the downed drones and the models made by the Guards through reverse engineering,’ he said.”

In a further sign that the “shadow war” is heating up, last week’s occupation of the British embassy in Tehran may have been a warning to the U.K. over sanctioned leaks by the British defense establishment to The Guardian which suggested that “Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran.”

“In anticipation of a potential attack,” The Guardian disclosed that “British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

The embassy occupation and subsequent downgrade of diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran mean these threats are being taken very seriously indeed.

Asia Times Online reported that Iran’s claim “to have arrested 12 spies working for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is potentially a major blow to American intelligence-gathering efforts in Iran and to American intelligence generally.”

Following closely on the heels of last month’s arrest in Lebanon of some 30 CIA operatives by Hezbollah “is suggestive of a major American intelligence defeat, if not a full-blown disaster,” Asia Times analyst Mahan Abedin wrote.

Far from being a high-quality intelligence operation, Abedin averred that the “CIA is operating a lower threshold of quality control in terms of agent recruitment and management” and that this reflects “a scatter-gun approach by the CIA inasmuch as the agency is targeting virtually any Iranian citizen it believes could potentially provide useful information on the CIA’s target set.”

According to Abedin’s Iranian sources, the CIA’s team of “operatives and analysts” appears to have been “embedded within numerous official and unofficial American organizations, including US embassies, multinational corporations, medium-sized commercial organizations, recruitment consultancies, immigration and wider legal services, academic and quasi-academic institutions and reputable (i.e. longstanding) as well as newly set up think tanks.”

In other words, as many researchers have amply documented, efforts by the U.S. secret state to subvert a target nation’s internal defenses prior to full-on “regime change” either through direct warfare (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, now Syria) or via an American-brokered “color revolution” (Yugoslavia, Venezuela, Ukraine, Georgia) are not about “freedom and democracy” but to achieve Washington’s geopolitical goals: total economic and political domination.

“But despite clear improvements in counter-espionage capabilities and protective security measures,” Abedin writes, “Iran is still some way away from making it prohibitively costly for Western agencies to operate inside the country. Indeed, all the major West European, North American and Israeli intelligence services are either active inside Iran or work closely with some elements of the Iranian diaspora.”

Describing the “psychological warfare” dimensions of a looming confrontation, Abedin wrote in a subsequent Asia Times Online piece that the covert war operates on two fronts, “one visible and rhetorical and conducted through official and unofficial media and the other secret and centered on sabotage.”

“In so far as the former is concerned Iran has risen to the challenge by superseding tough American and Israeli rhetoric with even tougher rhetoric.”

“However,” Abedin averred, “it is on the sabotage front–where Iran appears to be under attack from several directions–that the Islamic Republic is raising eyebrows even amongst its hardcore supporters by displaying remarkable tolerance in the face of intolerable provocations.”

“More broadly, the Iranians are not paying sufficient attention to the long-term consequences of military confrontation with the United States and her allies.”

That the “long-term consequences” of a Western-led attack will be an unmitigated disaster for the Iranian people, indeed for people across the entire region and for world peace and stability as a whole, doesn’t mean that Washington won’t gamble that a “limited war” could be “contained.”

As analyst William Blum wrote in his Anti-Empire Report: “The secret to understanding US foreign policy is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington’s policies fades away.”

“Examine a map,” Blum observed. “Iran sits directly between two of the United States’ great obsessions–Iraq and Afghanistan … directly between two of the world’s greatest oil regions–the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea areas … it’s part of the encirclement of the two leading potential threats to American world domination–Russia and China … Tehran will never be a client state or obedient poodle to Washington. How could any good, self-respecting Washington imperialist resist such a target? Bombs Away!”

Commenting on the Isfahan attack which described Israeli “black ops” as a “route to war,” left-wing analyst Richard Silverstein wrote on the Tikun Olam web site, that “the tragedy of this black ops program is that it will not rattle or deter Iran, as Israeli intelligence believes.”

“Contrary to what Israeli generals believe,” Silverstein wrote, “the Iranians are not pushovers, they can’t be intimidated. They’re willing to die for their country even more than Israelis. They’ve fought defensive wars going back decades and lost millions in conflict. A few explosions, assassinations, and computer viruses will not spook them.”

The drift towards war, which include moves to strangle Iran’s economy prior to a strike, has gained traction on multiple fronts.

On Friday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation as part of the $644. 3 billion 2012 Defense Authorization Act that “would give the president the power starting July 1 to bar foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank from having correspondent bank accounts in the U.S.,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported.

Coupled with reports that Germany and other EU member states will “considerably strengthen” sanctions against Iran, the leftist publication German Foreign Policy disclosed that “Berlin is participating in the intensification of western pressure on Teheran.”

Rejecting NATO rhetoric that new punitive economic measures are over “the so-called nuclear dispute,” GFP’s analyst correctly states that the “conflict is, in fact, over hegemony, with the West seeking to defend at all costs its predominance in the Middle Eastern resource-rich regions.”

While “Berlin’s politicians are still divided over Iran … Transatlantic oriented forces are preparing the public for possible military strikes.”

Regarding the strengthening of the West’s sanctions regime, the World Socialist Web Site reported that the EU has “agreed to sanction some 200 Iranian companies, individuals and organisations. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy met with Obama on Monday and issued a joint statement expressing ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s nuclear program, raising the possibility of ‘additional measures’ against the Iranian regime.”

“France,” left-wing critic Oliver Campbell noted, “which is not a major importer of Iranian oil, issued a statement calling for ‘new sanctions on an unprecedented scale,’ including freezing the assets of the Iranian central bank and putting an embargo on Iranian oil.”

“Russia, which has acquiesced in imposing previous sanctions on Iran, has bluntly opposed further punitive measures. Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich denounced the latest sanctions as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘contradictory to international law.’ China and Turkey have also opposed additional UN penalties.”

There are new signs that this sharply escalating crisis is fraught with peril.

Last week, Russia Today reported that “Moscow is deploying warships at its base in the Syrian port of Tartus. The long-planned mission comes, providentially, at the very moment when it could help prevent a potential conflict in the strategically important Middle Eastern country.

­”The Russian battle group will consist of three vessels led by the heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser, Admiral Kuznetsov.”

“Of course, the Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean will be incommensurate with those of the US 6th Fleet, which includes one or two aircraft carriers and several escort ships,” former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Viktor Kravchenko told Russia Today.

Pointedly, Kravchenko warned, “today, no one talks about possible military clashes, since an attack on any Russian ship would be regarded as a declaration of war with all the consequences.”

Richard Silverstein grimly observed “that Israel knows that black ops will turn Iran more intransigent. It welcomes such Iranian rigidity because it means the day is closer when it will be set loose on the Iranians. Israel’s policy toward Iran is scorched earth.”

The clock is ticking…

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

The Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War is serious about getting George W. Bush and Tony L. Blair arrested and prosecuted, after the milestone verdict of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, where they were found guilty of Crimes against Peace, Crimes against Humanity and War crimes on 22 November 2011.

Bush is currently visiting Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia. He launched his Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon project in Zambia. The project is aimed at expanding the availability of breast care education and cervical cancer screening and treatment.

On 03 December the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir  sent a letter to the presidents of these 3 African countries: Tanzania[1], Zambia[2] and Ethiopia[3], with a request to arrest and prosecute George Bush.  The letter was sent by Dr. Yaacob Merican, Secretary General of the Kuala Foundation to Criminalise War. Here’s the message that was sent to the president of Tanzania: 

The Secretary to

His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete,

President of United Republic of Tanzania

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would be most grateful if you could bring to the immediate attention of His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete the contents of the attached letter from His Excellency Tun. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and currently Chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War on the above-stated subject-matter.

DR. YAACOB MERICAN

Secretary General

Kuala Lumpur Foundation To Criminalise War

50480, Kuala Lumpur

www.criminalisewar.org 

The content of the letter reads: 

Your Excellency,

Please accept our personal compliments. 

I have the honour to draw to your attention the Judgment by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal dated 22 November 2011, a certified copy of which is attached.

 The Tribunal unanimously ruled that Mr. George W. Bush is guilty of committing a Crime against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity. We respectfully request that your government immediately arrest and prosecute Mr. Bush for these grievous crimes against international law and the domestic laws of every state in the world, including your own. Under principles of international law and comity this judgment constitutes prima facie evidence of Mr. Bush’s guilt warranting the initiation of domestic criminal proceedings against him by your government.

We look forward to hearing from you of the disposition of our request at your earliest convenience.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of our highest consideration.

Signature

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Chairman

Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.

It is the first time that a former head of state writes an official letter to presidents of countries where war criminal George W. Bush sets foot, with a request to arrest him. This is no doubt a novelty and a courageous stand by Tun Mahathir, totally in accordance with the recommendations as pointed out in the judgment of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal.

More political personalities should have the courage to follow Dr. Mahathir’s example. War Crimes should not go unpunished. Visits of Bush & Blair should be protested, wherever they go. War criminals should not feel themselves safe from punishment. Moreover, many countries have the right and the duty to arrest and prosecute War Criminals under the law of Universal Jurisdiction.

On 01 December, Amnesty International urged the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia to arrest former US President George W. Bush for crimes under international law, including torture, when he visits this week. (Amnesty International has made the same request of Switzerland and Canada during the former President’s trips to those countries.)

Zeke Johnson writes on Amnesty International’s website:[4]

No person, however high the office they may have held, should be above the law. We seek to hold former President Bush only to the same standard as any other person accused of similar crimes, from whatever country they may come. You do the crime, you do the time.

The former President’s stated aim is to raise awareness about health issues in Africa, but per Amnesty’s statement today, [5]

“this cannot lessen the damage to the fight against torture caused by allowing someone who has admitted to authorizing water-boarding to travel without facing the consequences prescribed by law.”

“If the US government won’t arrest former President Bush for torture—President Obama has said he wants to look forward, not backward—why would some other country stick its neck out? Well, there is precedent for such an arrest (read: Chilean General Augusto Pinochet); it’s up to regular people like us to demand it.”

On 20 October, Bush, along with former president Bill Clinton, appeared at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit. Amnesty International, the Canadian Centre for International Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Lawyers Against the War have all called on Canadian authorities to arrest and prosecute Bush for the use of torture by U.S. forces.[6]

The efforts of the World Tribunal on Iraq, International Legal Scholars, Peace movements worldwide and the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War are beginning to show results.

The message of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation and the Malaysian Foundation to Criminalise War is very simple but very clear: 

THE KUALA LUMPUR INITIATIVE TO CRIMINALISE WAR

The Kuala Lumpur Global Peace Forum of concerned peoples from all five continents are:

UNITED

in the belief that peace is the essential condition for the survival and well-being of the human race,

DETERMINED

 to promote peace and save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,

OUTRAGED

over the frequent resort to war in the settlement of disputes between nations,

DISTURBED

that militarists are preparing for more wars,

TROUBLED

that use of armed force increases insecurity for all, and

TERRIFIED

that the possession of nuclear weapons and the imminent risk of nuclear war will lead to the annihilation of life on earth.

 To achieve peace, we now declare that:

 Wars increasingly involve the killing of innocent people and are, therefore, abhorrent and criminal. Killings in war are as criminal as the killings within societies in times of peace.

 Since killings in peace time are subject to the domestic law of crime, killings in war must likewise be subject to the international law of crimes. This should be so irrespective of whether these killings in war are authorized or permitted by domestic law.

 All commercial, financial, industrial and scientific activities that aid and abet war should be criminalised.

 All national leaders who initiate aggression must be subjected to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

 All nations must strengthen the resolve to accept the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and institute methods to settle international disputes by peaceful means and to renounce war.

 Armed force shall not be used except when authorised by a Resolution passed by two-thirds majority of the total membership of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

 All legislators and all members of Government must affirm their belief in peace and pledge to strive for peace. (…)[7]

Zambia has dismissed Amnesty International’s call for the arrest on torture charges of former President George W. Bush.

“On what basis does Amnesty International want us to arrest President Bush?” state media quoted Foreign Affairs Minister Chishimba Kambwili as saying.

Kambwili said Zambia would have considered the request only if it had come from the International Criminal Court acting on behalf of international organizations like the United Nations.[8]

This answer is totally irrelevant. The ICC has proved to be an instrument of Victor’s Justice. Here’s ICC’s Special Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo’s biased and meaningless answer on 9 February 2006:[9]

“The Office of the Prosecutor has received over 240 communications concerning the situation in Iraq.(…) The available information provided no reasonable indicia that Coalition forces had “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such”, as required in the definition of genocide (Article 6). Similarly, the available information provided no reasonable indicia of the required elements for a crime against humanity, i.e. a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. (…) The available information did not indicate intentional attacks on a civilian population. (…) After analyzing all the available information, it was concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court had been committed, namely wilful killing and inhuman treatment. (…) The information available at this time supports a reasonable basis for an estimated 4 to 12 victims of wilful killing and a limited number of victims of inhuman treatment, totalling in all less than 20 persons. Even where there is a reasonable basis to believe that a crime has been committed, this is not sufficient for the initiation of an investigation by the International Criminal Court.”

This cynical answer was written after the Fallujah massacre, after hundreds of thousands Iraqis had died and after the total destruction of the Iraqi state.

In light of the unwillingness of the ICC to prosecute war criminals Bush & Blair, every country in the world has the duty to prosecute them.

“The ICC was established in order to punish war criminals who were not prosecuted by their own countries. So far, the ICC has only managed to prosecute Africans. The current cases presented for investigation involve Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast and Libya. In the past a few Serbs were thrown in for good measure, but otherwise Africa has been the ICC target”, writes Margaret Kimberley.[10]

The recommendations of the War Crimes Tribunal in Kuala Lumpur are very clear: 

RECOMMENDATIONS 

First, the Commission must invoke the Nuremberg law to report Bush, Blair and their accomplices for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity under Part VI of the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. 

Second, the Commission must file reports of genocide and crimes against humanity with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

(…)

Fourth, the findings of this Tribunal must be communicated to all countries that have acceded to the Rome Statute and are possessed of universal jurisdiction. 

Efforts to prosecute these war criminals are clearly increasing. But more needs to be done.  

Worldwide, the common slogan should be “War is a crime. War criminals belong behind bars. Watch out, Bush & Blair, this is only the beginning. You will never be safe wherever you go”. 

Dirk Adriaensens, member of the BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee. International observer of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal 19-21 November 2011.

Link: http://www.brussellstribunal.org/ArrestBush041211.htm

[1] http://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/LetterTanzania.pdf

[2] http://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/LetterZambia.pdf

[3] http://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/LetterEthiopia.pdf

[4] http://blog.amnestyusa.org/waronterror/ethiopia-tanzania-zambia-arrest-former-president-bush-for-torture/

[5] http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/amnesty-international-urges-ethiopia-tanzania-zambia-to-bring-george-w-bush-to-justice

[6] http://www.straight.com/article-491846/vancouver/amnesty-international-kick-george-w-bush-protest-occupy-vancouver

[7] http://www.perdana4peace.org/?page_id=9

[8] http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hBueYvwzbF5bKDTJSz8-LoCnWUBw?docId=c490032b8c964d589cd50913b9073db9

[9] http://www.iccnow.org/documents/OTP_letter_to_senders_re_Iraq_9_February_2006.pdf?PHPSESSID=fef512b2e4c1d042f9b8665f151e0f07

[10] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27991

After Fukushima: Enough Is Enough

December 5th, 2011 by Helen Caldicott

The nuclear power industry has been resurrected over the past decade by a lobbying campaign that has left many people believing it to be a clean, green, emission-free alternative to fossil fuels. These beliefs pose an extraordinary threat to global public health and encourage a major financial drain on national economies and taxpayers. The commitment to nuclear power as an environmentally safe energy source has also stifled the mass development of alternative technologies that are far cheaper, safer and almost emission free — the future for global energy.

When the Fukushima Daiichi reactors suffered meltdowns in March, literally in the backyard of an unsuspecting public, the stark reality that the risks of nuclear power far outweigh any benefits should have become clear to the world. As the old quip states, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”

Instead, the nuclear industry has used the disaster to increase its already extensive lobbying efforts. A few nations vowed to phase out nuclear energy after the disaster. But many others have remained steadfast in their commitment. That has left millions of innocent people unaware that they — all of us — may face a medical catastrophe beyond all proportions in the wake of Fukushima and through the continued widespread use of nuclear energy.

The world was warned of the dangers of nuclear accidents 25 years ago, when Chernobyl exploded and lofted radioactive poisons into the atmosphere. Those poisons “rained out,” creating hot spots over the Northern Hemisphere. Research by scientists in Eastern Europe, collected and published by the New York Academy of Sciences, estimates that 40 percent of the European land mass is now contaminated with cesium 137 and other radioactive poisons that will concentrate in food for hundreds to thousands of years. Wide areas of Asia — from Turkey to China — the United Arab Emirates, North Africa and North America are also contaminated. Nearly 200 million people remain exposed.

That research estimated that by now close to 1 million people have died of causes linked to the Chernobyl disaster. They perished from cancers, congenital deformities, immune deficiencies, infections, cardiovascular diseases, endocrine abnormalities and radiation-induced factors that increased infant mortality. Studies in Belarus found that in 2000, 14 years after the Chernobyl disaster, fewer than 20 percent of children were considered “practically healthy,” compared to 90 percent before Chernobyl. Now, Fukushima has been called the second-worst nuclear disaster after Chernobyl. Much is still uncertain about the long-term consequences. Fukushima may well be on par with or even far exceed Chernobyl in terms of the effects on public health, as new information becomes available. The crisis is ongoing; the plant remains unstable and radiation emissions continue into the air and water.

Recent monitoring by citizens groups, international organizations and the U.S. government have found dangerous hot spots in Tokyo and other areas. The Japanese government, meanwhile, in late September lifted evacuation advisories for some areas near the damaged plant — even though high levels of radiation remained. The government estimated that it will spend at least $13 billion to clean up contamination.

Many thousands of people continue to inhabit areas that are highly contaminated, particularly northwest of Fukushima. Radioactive elements have been deposited throughout northern Japan, found in tap water in Tokyo and concentrated in tea, beef, rice and other food. In one of the few studies on human contamination in the months following the accident, over half of the more than 1,000 children whose thyroids were monitored in Fukushima City were found to be contaminated with iodine 131 — condemning many to thyroid cancer years from now.

Children are innately sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation, fetuses even more so. Like Chernobyl, the accident at Fukushima is of global proportions. Unusual levels of radiation have been discovered in British Columbia, along the West Coast and East Coast of the United States and in Europe, and heavy contamination has been found in oceanic waters.

Fukushima is classified as a grade 7 accident on the International Atomic Energy Agency scale — denoting “widespread health and environmental effects.” That is the same severity as Chernobyl, the only other grade 7 accident in history, but there is no higher number on the agency’s scale.

After the accident, lobbying groups touted improved safety at nuclear installations globally. In Japan, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. — which operates the Fukushima Daiichi reactors — and the government have sought to control the reporting of negative stories via telecom companies and Internet service providers.

In Britain, The Guardian reported that days after the tsunami, companies with interests in nuclear power — Areva, EDF Energy and Westinghouse — worked with the government to downplay the accident, fearing setbacks on plans for new nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power has always been the nefarious Trojan horse for the weapons industry, and effective publicity campaigns are a hallmark of both industries. The concept of nuclear electricity was conceived in the early 1950s as a way to make the public more comfortable with the U.S. development of nuclear weapons. “The atomic bomb will be accepted far more readily if at the same time atomic energy is being used for constructive ends,” a consultant to the Defense Department Psychological Strategy Board, Stefan Possony, suggested. The phrase “Atoms for Peace” was popularized by President Dwight Eisenhower in the early 1950s.

Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are one and the same technology. A 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor generates 600 pounds or so of plutonium per year: An atomic bomb requires a fraction of that amount for fuel, and plutonium remains radioactive for 250,000 years. Therefore every country with a nuclear power plant also has a bomb factory with unlimited potential.The nuclear power industry sets an unforgivable precedent by exporting nuclear technology — bomb factories — to dozens of non-nuclear nations.

Why is nuclear power still viable, after we’ve witnessed catastrophic accidents, enormous financial outlays, weapons proliferation and nuclear-waste induced epidemics of cancers and genetic disease for generations to come? Simply put, many government and other officials believe the nuclear industry mantra: safe, clean and green. And the public is not educated on the issue.

There are some signs of change. Germany will phase out nuclear power by 2022. Italy and Switzerland have decided against it, and anti-nuclear advocates in Japan have gained traction. China remains cautious on nuclear power. Yet the nuclear enthusiasm of the U.S., Britain, Russia and Canada continues unabated. The industry, meanwhile, has promoted new modular and “advanced” reactors as better alternatives to traditional reactors. They are, however, subject to the very same risks — accidents, terrorist attacks, human error — as the traditional reactors. Many also create fissile material for bombs as well as the legacy of radioactive waste.

True green, clean, nearly emission-free solutions exist for providing energy. They lie in a combination of conservation and renewable energy sources, mainly wind, solar and geothermal, hydropower plants, and biomass from algae. A smart-grid could integrate consuming and producing devices, allowing flexible operation of household appliances. The problem of intermittent power can be solved by storing energy using available technologies.

Millions of jobs can be created by replacing nuclear power with nationally integrated, renewable energy systems. In the U.S. alone, the project could be paid for by the $180 billion currently allocated for nuclear weapons programs over the next decade. There would be no need for new weapons if the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals — 95 percent of the estimated 20,500 nuclear weapons globally — were abolished.

Nuclear advocates often paint those who oppose them as Luddites who are afraid of, or don’t understand, technology, or as hysterics who exaggerate the dangers of nuclear power.

One might recall the sustained attack over many decades by the tobacco industry upon the medical profession, a profession that revealed the grave health dangers induced by smoking.

Smoking, broadly speaking, only kills the smoker. Nuclear power bequeaths morbidity and mortality — epidemics of disease — to all future generations.

The millions of lives lost to smoking in the era before the health risks of cigarettes were widely exposed will be minuscule compared to the medical catastrophe we face through the continued use of nuclear power.

Let’s use this extraordinary moment to convince governments and others to move toward a nuclear-free world. Let’s prove that informed democracies will behave in a responsible fashion.

Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician, is founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. A native of Australia, she left her Harvard Medical School post in 1980 to work full-time on anti-nuclear education.


 

A summit of huge importance was held in Venezuela on December 2-3. Two hundred years after Latin America’s independence fighters first raised the battle cry for a united Latin America, 33 heads of states from across the region came together to form the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

For Latin America, the summit represented a further step away from its traditional role as the United States’ backyard and its emergence as a player in its own right in international politics.

Resources

The importance of this new institution in world politics cannot be overstated. The combined gross domestic product of the countries within CELAC make it the third-largest economic powerhouse in the world.

It is also home to the world’s largest oil reserves and the first and third largest global producers of food and energy, respectively.

CELAC also builds on existing inter-regional bodies and experiments.

These include the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), UNASUR’s Defense Council, the Bank of the South (which only awaits the approval of the Uruguayan parliament in order to bring to life a bank that will count on US$20 billion for development projects), and the establishment of trade mechanisms between some countries that replaces the US dollar with local and new regional currencies.

Another important integration initiative is the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), a nine-nation anti-imperialist bloc initially formed in 2004 by socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela.

CELAC explicitly excludes the US and Canada.

However, Cuba, which has been excluded from the Organisation of American States (OAS) for daring to challenge the US empire and carry out a revolution, was not only included but selected to host the 2013 CELAC Summit. Chile had already been selected to host next year’s.

Some are already arguing the consolidation of CELAC will represent the final nail in the coffin of the Organisation of American States (OAS), traditionally dominated by the powerful neighbors up north.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said on November 29: “We believe we need a profound change in the inter-American, basically Latin American, system because the US’s gravitational power [within the OAS] is clear.”

“We need another system … where we discuss our problems in the region, not in Washington [the headquarters of the OAS], where institutions that are removed from our vision, traditions, values and needs are not imposed on us.”

The same day, Bolivian vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera said the summit would represent “a meeting of the peoples, defending our destiny without tutelage, without patronage, so that together we can find a solution to our problems, without the presence of the US”.

Imperial weakening

The step comes at a time when US economic and political power is in decline and the European Union is on the verge of collapse.

“Latin America is a continent on the move faced with a world in crisis,” Garcia Linera said. “Latin America is the vanguard of the world in regard to ideas, in regard to transformations, in regard to proposals at the service of the people and humanity.”

Luis Bilbao, editor of the Latin America-wide magazine America XXI, said in a November 28 article that CELAC represents “an opportunity without precedent to position the region as the starting point in a new phase in the history of humanity”.

Latin America is in a unique position given the global context, marked by three key features: “It maintains a dynamic of regional convergence while all other [continents] are suffering from violent centrifugal forces; until now it has suffered less as a result of the recession in the imperialist centres; [and] within this heterogeneous convergent whole exists a vital nucleus that, faced with the collapse of capitalism … has raised the banner of 21st century socialism.”

The US had tried everything possible to stop CELAC. Former Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, a US puppet, made the most recent attempt.

A November 28 Venezuelanalysis.com article said that during a trip to meet with Venezuela’s right-wing opposition, Uribe urged them to issue a “public statement” denouncing the growing relationship between Colombia and Venezuela.

Under Uribe, relations between Venezuela and Colombia nearly degenerated into war. Uribe also worked to undermine the progress of UNASUR from within.

Despite continuing much of Uribe’s neoliberal and repressive politics at home, Venezuelanalysis.com said Colombian President Manuel Santos “has adopted a noticeably different stance with regard to foreign policy, aimed at integrating Colombia into regional organisations and re-establishing bilateral relations with other Latin American countries”.

This does not mean that the Colombian government, or many other Latin American countries, no longer follows US foreign policy dictates in the region, or that all agree that CELAC should automatically replace the OAS.

Nor does it mean there are not important differences on how to confront the global economic crisis and imperial wars, such as the recent NATO attack on Libya.

Bilbao noted a sole, unified response to these tremendous challenges by CELAC cannot be expected, “however what is possible is to find a common minimum denominator”.

The idea of the US’s backyard creating its own neighbourhood to collectively resolve problems, free of outside intervention, is an important starting point.

Venezuela leads the way

That the summit was held in Venezuela represented a double blow to US interests. Having waged a relentless campaign to destroy Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, the fact it was chosen to host the summit undermines the lies peddled by Washington and the corporate media that Venezuela is isolated in the region.

Furthermore, the presence of a fully recovered Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose bout with cancer early this year forced the summit to be postponed from July, has dashed hopes that health issues could succeed were US-backed coups and destabilisation plans against the Chavez government have failed.

Instead, Chavez has announced his readiness to stand for re-election in next year’s October 7 presidential elections.

In response to Chavez’s call to form a “Great Patriotic Pole” of parties and social movements to support his re-election on a platform of deepening the revolution, more than 32,000 organisations signed on to the campaign during the four-week registration period begun in early October.

Polls show support for Chavez at more than 50%. The US-backed opposition remains unable to muster any candidate to seriously challenge him.

In response, the US is gearing up for a big campaign to try and prevent a fresh mandate for Chavez’s anti-capitalist policies.

Investigative journalist Eva Golinger said in an August 11 Chavezcode.com article that the US has already budgeted $20 million to fund the opposition next year.

Another important ploy being used is capitalist hoarding and speculation with food prices to provoke shortages and worsen inflation, already hovering above 22% for the year.

Big business successfully used this tactic to help defeat the 2007 referendum on a raft of constitutional reforms proposed by Chavez, giving the capitalists their sole electoral victory in 12 years.

On November 27, Chavez said in the days prior, the Bolivarian National Guard seized 127,000 kilos of rice, 132,000 kilos of corn flour, 256,000 kilos of powered milk, 85,000 litres of vegetable oil, 246,000 kilos of sugar and 10,500 kilos of coffee — all of which were being illegally hoarded by private companies.

One company affected, Italian-owned Parmalat, published a declaration in several newspapers on November 26. It said it was “strange” the government seized 210,000 kilos of powdered milk from its warehouses as this milk was supposedly destined for the state food distribution company, CASA, as per a signed contract.

Chavez responded the next day: “We found Parmalat hoarding milk and this is typical of the bourgeoisie … they think we are fools or idiots … Gentlemen of Parmalat, we are not stupid!”

He ordered a large-scale investigation into the company and reminded Parmalat that his government has the power to expropriate the company if it continues carrying out such actions.

Nationalisations

An October 14 Reuters article cited figures provided by Conindustria, a Venezuelan business federation, to show that 459 companies had been nationalised this year. An estimated 1045 have been nationalised since Chavez came to power.

This has ensured the state plays a dominant role in strategic sectors such as oil, electricity, cement, steel, telecommunications and food production and distribution.

The day after Chavez’s response, Parmalat published another open letter offering its “most sincere apologies” for failing to “adequately communicate what had transpired” in regards to the powdered milk.

It pledged to support the government in ensuring that the needs of the people were met.

Parmalat is not the only company Chavez ordered be monitored. He named Colgate Palmolive, Pepsi Cola, Heinz, Nestle, Coca Cola, Unilever, Glaxo Smith Kline, and Polar, Venezuela’s largest food company.

These are among the companies affected by price controls on 18 food, hygiene and household products, in effect since November 22.

Since 2003, the government has placed price controls on various essential food items.

Under the new Law on Fair Costs and Prices, prices on the 18 goods are frozen until mid-December. The newly-created National Superintendency of Fair Costs and Prices audits the companies producing these goods to establish how much it costs to make the products to determine a reasonable price to sell them at.

As of December 15, this price will have to be printed on the product. Sanctions will apply for those who do not comply with the regulations.

A second phase will begin in January involving medicinal products.

On November 7, Chavez told state television channel VTV: “We cannot given the large business owners and large corporations the freedom to continue looting the pockets of Venezuelans.”

The new law, Chavez said, “was necessary and formed part of a strategy of state intervention into the economy, which is part of the transition from capitalism … towards socialism”.

No doubt this battle between socialist democracy and the dictatorship of the market will continue heating up as the presidential elections approach.

The outcome of this battle will have important ramifications not only for Venezuela’s future, but that of CELAC and the world.

Asia-Pacífico: EE.UU. intensifica su agenda bélica global

December 5th, 2011 by Finian Cunningham

Como un bravucón en el patio de una escuela, el presidente Barack Obama muestra el poderío militar de EE.UU. mientras visita rápidamente la región Asia-Pacífico. El ímpetu nominal del viaje fue la cumbre del Foro de Cooperación Económica Asia-Pacífico (APEC, por sus siglas en inglés), realizada en Hawái la semana pasada. Pero en lugar de discutir “economía” (la E en APEC), el enfoque destacado para Obama y su séquito parece hacer sido la “guerra” – y en particular el establecimiento de líneas de batalla frente a China.

Las relaciones irascibles con China no son nada nuevo para Washington en vista de las recientes arengas estadounidenses sobre comercio y finanzas, pero lo que señala la altisonancia de Obama es una siniestra intensificación de la agenda militarista hacia Beijing.

Como si incorporara a subalternos y lacayos en su pandilla, el presidente estadounidense ha procedido desde Honolulu con paradas en Australia, Indonesia y otros sitios. En vista de la primacía del poder económico de China en el hemisferio, se podría haber considerado apropiado que Obama hiciera una cordial visita a Beijing para discutir cooperaciones y políticas para reanimar la economía global. Pero no fue así. La omisión de China en ese importante viaje estadounidense parece ser un desaire deliberado hacia Beijing y un mensaje a la región: que hay que aislar y cercar a China. Es la esencia de un belicismo evidente.

Como era de esperar la flagrante agresión es suavizada y presentada de modo agradable por los medios dominantes occidentales. Al informar sobre la beligerancia unilateral de Obama en la APEC, el Washington Post se lamenta: “Por más que trate de concentrar a los dirigentes de Asia y el Pacífico en la forja de nuevas cooperaciones económicas durante una cumbre regional, el presidente Obama ha pasado gran parte de su tiempo en reuniones privadas con sus homólogos discutiendo otra preocupación urgente: la seguridad nacional [es decir, el poder militar de EE.UU.]”

El Financial Times informa fuera de aliento: “Barack Obama no pondrá un pié en China durante su gira por la región de Asia-Pacífico… pero el rápido ascenso económico y los progresos militares de ese país serán el trasfondo de casi todo lo que haga en el viaje”.

Nótese que es la aseveración de que son los “progresos militares” de China los que provocan las preocupaciones de China, no la observación más razonable y realista de que Washington es el que golpea los tambores de guerra.

El FT sigue diciendo: “El Pentágono trabaja silenciosamente en una nueva estrategia apodada concepto Batalla AireMar, diseñada para encontrar modos de contrarrestar los planes chinos de denegar acceso a las fuerzas de EE.UU. a los mares que rodean China”.

En cuanto a “mares que rodean China” hay quien podría pensar que es enteramente aceptable que Beijing “deniegue acceso a fuerzas de EE.UU.” Pero no, parece, para los amanuenses del FT y de otros medios dominantes occidentales, que transforman ofensa estadounidense/defensa china en ofensa china/defensa estadounidense. Se podría imaginar cómo informarían los mismos medios si China anunciara que se propone patrullar con barcos de guerra nucleares frente a California.

Como señalara previamente Michel Chossudovsky en Global Research, las reservas inexplotadas de petróleo y otros minerales del Mar del Sur de China constituyen un importante motivo de las maniobras de EE.UU. China puede tener derechos territoriales naturales a esos depósitos y tiene una reivindicación mucho más válida a esa riqueza que EE.UU., cuyas refutaciones al respecto parecen arrogantes en el mejor de los casos y provocadoras en el peor. De nuevo, uno podría imaginar la reacción de EE.UU. y de los medios dominantes si China le echara el ojo a los campos petrolíferos y de gas frente a Alaska.

Pero en esto existe una agenda geopolítica mayor, como ha analizado consistentemente

Global Research. El creciente militarismo de EE.UU. en Asia-Pacífico es uno con la globalización de la guerra por EE.UU./OTAN y sus aliados. El cambio de política es, como nos dice sin convicción el Washington Post: “que EE.UU. se reafirma como líder en Asia-Pacífico después de años de concentrarse en guerras [ilegales] en Medio Oriente”.

Sin embargo, no se trata de una dinámica que pueda ser vista como de alguna manera normal y aceptable. Es, como hemos señalado, una escalada de la agresión por potencias “adictas a la guerra” como norma.

Arriba en la lista negra está China. Las guerras criminales de Washington en Iraq y Libia han apuntado en particular a aislar a China de sus legítimas inversiones en energía en Medio Oriente y el Norte de África (y África en general). Esto en sí tiene que ser visto por Beijing como un flagrante ataque contra sus activos en el exterior. No satisfecho, al parecer, con el logro de ese desposeimiento de vitales intereses energéticos chinos, Washington lanza ahora su insaciable apetito directamente al dominio de China. Pero semejante agresión sin precedentes es presentada por el gobierno de EE.UU. y los obedientes medios dominantes como un derecho natural en el cual la negativa de la otra parte es presentada de modo perverso como “planes militares para denegar acceso”.

La visita de Obama a Australia en esta semana apunta indudablemente a darle un vuelto a la amenaza contra China. En Darwin, el presidente de EE.UU. está supervisando la apertura de una base que presenciará por primera vez a marines de EE.UU. capaces de realizar juegos de guerra en suelo australiano. A miles de kilómetros de China, este evento puede parecer trivial a primera vista. Pero luego se nos dice que la acción tiene el propósito de estacionar a militares estadounidenses “fuera del alcance de misiles balísticos chinos”. La insinuación es inequívoca y amenazante: China es una amenaza inminente. De alguna manera, sin lanzar ninguna acción agresiva, se hace que repentinamente China parezca como si estuviera dispuesta a lanzar misiles balísticos contra instalaciones de EE.UU.

Es tentador calificar de “inoperante” esta dinámica de la guerra global encabezada por EE.UU. Pero, de modo inquietante, no es solo inoperante. La dinámica de la guerra global es una función del colapso del capitalismo y de la democracia en EE.UU. y Europa (la brutal represión policial contra manifestantes de Ocupad en todo EE.UU. es una evidencia de esto último). La guerra contra el mundo es el resultado lógico de este sistema fracasado, como ya nos lo ha mostrado la historia con los horrores de la Primera y de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Karl Marx señaló una vez: “La historia se repite, primero como tragedia, después como farsa”. Para impedir otra “farsa” en la cual se repitan los horrores de la historia, tenemos que cuestionar de una vez por todas la raíz del problema: el capitalismo.

Texto original en inglés : http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27709

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

Finian Cunningham es colaborador de Global Research

Pakistan capable of defending motherland, says Mukhtar
 
ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said here on Sunday that Pakistan has the capability to defend and protect the sovereignty of the country.

Talking to a private television channel, he said that Pakistan as a nuclear state has full capability to defend and safeguard its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Replying to a question regarding Nato attacks, he said that Pakistan is a responsible state and its sovereignty must be respected at all costs.

He said that decisions were taken in consultation with all the stakeholders. Replying to another question regarding any misadventure, Mukhtar said that Pakistan has the right to safeguard its territorial borders and sovereignty.

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The Syrian army has carried out military maneuvers that included test-firing of missiles and operations by its ground and air forces “similar to a real battle,” state-run media reported Monday dpa reported

According to Syrian television the military exercises took place over the weekend.

“The military exercises were aimed at testing the capabilities and the readiness of missile systems to respond to any possible aggression,” the broadcaster reported.

The test in north-eastern Syria, included the firing of long-range Scud B missiles, media reports said.

The state-run news agency SANA quoted Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha as telling the troops that participated in the maneuvers “to be in full readiness to carry out any orders given to them.”

A Lebanese military expert who spoke to dpa on condition of anonymity, said that Syria wanted to send a message to “foreign countries like the United States and Israel” that it is ready to confront any future military intervention in the country.

He added that Damascus possesses “surface-to-surface missiles such as Scuds, which are capable of hitting deep inside Israel.”

The show of strength was not necessarily intended to intimidate Israel, but rather any Western powers contemplating military intervention in Syria, the Jerusalem Post daily quoted Israeli military officials as saying Monday.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has warned that the Middle East “will burn” in the event of a Libya-style military intervention in Syria.

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During an interview with RT on December 1, I said that the US Constitution had been shredded by the failure of the US Senate to protect American citizens from the detainee amendment sponsored by Republican John McCain and Democrat Carl Levin to the Defense Authorization Bill.

The amendment permits indefinite detention of US citizens by the US military.  I also gave my opinion that the fact that all but two Republican members of the Senate had voted to strip American citizens of their constitutional protections and of the protection of the Posse Comitatus Act indicated that the Republican Party had degenerated into a Gestapo Party.

These conclusions are self-evident, and I stand by them. 

However, I jumped to conclusions when I implied that the Obama regime opposes military detention on constitutional grounds. 
Ray McGovern  and Glenn Greenwald might have jumped to the same conclusions.

An article by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate reported that the entire Obama regime opposed the military detention provision in the McCain/Levin amendment. Lithwick wrote: “The secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, the director of the FBI, the CIA director, and the head of the Justice Department’s national security division have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the bill are a bad idea. And the White House continues to say that the president will veto the bill if the detainee provisions are not removed.”

I checked the URLs that Lithwick supplied.  It is clear that the Obama regime objects to military detention, and I mistook this objection for constitutional scruples.  

However, on further reflection I conclude that the Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens.  The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it:  Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”

Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights.  These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas.  This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”

The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment. 

By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.

A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion.
(See http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saps1867s_20111117.pdf

The November 17 letter to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”

In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to who it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.

Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.

NATO’s Role in the Murder of Muammar Gaddafi

December 5th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, who returned to Canada from Libya in September, was interviewed by Life Week, a major Chinese magazine based in Beijing, regarding the murder of Muammar Al-Gaddafi in Sirte.

The interview between Xu Jinjing and Nazemroaya discusses the broad implications of the murder of Muammar Gaddafi including the role played by the Transitional National Council and NATO in his murder.

What follows is the English transcript of the interview with the Chinese Magazine on October 22, 2011  

XU JINGJING: In your opinion, what does Gaddafi’s death mean to the NTC? Does it mean the forces of Gaddafi will be split and never be a major threat to the NTC?

NAZEMROAYA: Members of the US Senate have pointed out that NATO was involved in the capture of Colonel Gaddafi. The British, French, and Americans had roles to play. NATO had bombed Gaddafi’s convoy. I also read a private letter demanding for NATO to confirm if it knew who was in the convoy, which was leaving Sirte. NATO refused to answer if it knew who was in the convoy, but cited them as threats to civilians.

The murder of Colonel Gaddafi opens the door for internal rivalries to create splinter groups amongst the Libyan loyalists or resistance groups. With Qaddafi gone there will be a contest for leadership and it will result in negotiations between some elements in the Libyan resistance and the Transitional Council government.

The aim of murdering Colonel Gaddafi was not a mere act of revenge as is being portrayed by the media. It also is a means of hiding the crimes of NATO. The Obama Administration and NATO had him killed to also hide their own crimes before and during the NATO attacks on Libya. For example, the Libyans had a lot of evidence that proved President Nicolas Sarkozy was taking bribery money and was involved in election fraud.

XU JINGJING: Some of Gaddafi’s  family is still on the run. Will anyone of them remain a threat to the NTC? Will they be put on trial by the International Criminal Court?

NAZEMROAYA: First of all I want to say that the International Criminal Court is a political tool. It is only used against weak countries. The case that the ICC presented was based on media reports and lies. You can see the annexes to verify. One of its key pieces of evidence was from the Libyan League for Human Rights, which told a colleague of mine on the record that they had no evidence about 6000 people being massacred.

International legal experts made it very clear to me that Washington and NATO would never let Colonel Gaddafi and several of his family members live, because of the legal threat they imposed. Some even suggested that the message be passed to him to surrender so as to guarantee that Gaddafi would get into a court to expose the lies and systematic breaches of international law by Washington and NATO.

Be certain that the murders will not stop with Colonel Gaddafi. The Transional Council also murdered one of his sons, Moutasim, who was being held and tortured as a prisoner for a week. The Transitional Council also murdered the leader of the tribal council of Libya, Sheikh Ali. Sheikh Ali was working tirelessly for peace and some sort of a compromise between both sides. They went into his house and murdered him.

XU JINGJING: Some analysts said the fall of Sirte is more significant for the effect it will have on the future stability of Libya. What do you think?

NAZEMROAYA: The events in Sirte now guarantee the disintegration of Libyan society on the basis of tribalism, regionalism, and political orientation. Chaos will grip the country. In Darnah there is a so-called Islamic Emirate. In Misarata there is the Misarata Military Council. In Benghazi and parts of Tripoli there is the Transitional Council. There are even now figures that could emerge as warlords in Tripoli and Benghazi.

I was just informed that US troops have landed in Tripoli and Benghazi. They are getting ready for something. The country will eventually formally or informally balkanize. This will spill out into other parts of Africa. This is also one of the reasons that the Americans are sending combat troops into Uganda, which will also be posted and active in South Sudan and Kenya. The Kenyan invasion of Somalia is even linked to this project.

XU JINGJING: What are the priorities for the NTC now?

NAZEMROAYA: Speaking to people on the ground in Libya, I can tell you that the priorities of the Transitional Council are to take control of Libya and for each fraction to secure its own interests and secure its own power. They are more concentrated on weapons contracts and securing favor from Washington and NATO. They are not interested in even importing food and medical supplies to the degree that they really need to be. There own inner rivalries will also paralyze them to a degree.

XU JINGJING: What are the major power divisions in the NTC now? Do you see anyone capable of uniting and leading the country from the NTC?

NAZEMROAYA: We have more than one government in Libya now. We have the Transitional Council, the Misrata Military Council, the Emirate of Darnah, and also the remnants of the legitimate Jamahiriya government. I seriously see civil strife and chaos sweeping parts of the country. Lawlessness has now become a reality in large parts of Tripoli and the rest of Libya. Armed gangs are involved in robberies, torture, rape, and extortion.

This is all very negative, because it will equate to the involvement of foreign arbitrators. This is exactly what Washington and the European Union want, because they will be able to keep these groups in line and have checks and balances over them. Each time one group gets out of control or refuses to listen, the American government and its allies will funnel their support to a rival group.

XU JINGJING: How much will the United States, EU and Qatar be involved in state building in a post-Gaddafi Libya? Why?

NAZEMROAYA: They will be involved in the reconstruction contracts and management of the country. Members of the Transitional Council, even before they came into power, already negotiated with them in February and March for oil contracts. I do not know what type of guarantees the Russian Federation and China received, but they are likely to become marginalized in Libya on the basis of the edicts of the American government and its EU allies.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Sociologist and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. His articles have been translated into more than ten languages and he is also an award-winning writer. While on the ground in Libya during the NATO bombing campaign he was Special Correspondent for the syndicated investigative KPFA program Flashpoints, which is aired from Berkeley, California.

While promoting his book on October 3, 2007 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco California, former four star general, NATO Supreme commander, politician, hawk, and 2004 presidential candidate Wesley Clark stated in a surprisingly significant speech that the neocons had committed a “policy coup” and took over the direction of American policy but forgot to notify the rest of the country.

Clark went on to say that he met with Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon ten days after 9/11. He added that on that same day he also met with an officer from the joints staffs who discussed with him and attempted to show him a classified memo issued by the secretary of defense’s office that called for invasion and destruction of governments in seven countries (besides Afghanistan) in the near East and Africa in a five year period. According to Clark, these countries listed in the memo were Sudan , Syria , Libya , Lebanon , Iraq , Somalia , and Iran .[1].

In addition, Clark connected this classified memo to another meeting he had with Paul Wolfowitz in the Pentagon in 1991, when Mr. Wolfowitz was the undersecretary of defense for policy (number 3 position in pentagon) and after the first invasion of Iraq by the US in Desert Storm. Clark edified that Mr. Wolfowitz wasn’t satisfied with keeping Saddam in power at that time. However, he allegedly told General Clark that the US learned an important lesson during Desert Storm. The moral of the lesson was that the US can use their military power in the Middle East and the Russians won’t intervene or stop them. In addition, Wolfowitz allegedly pontificated to Clark that they had about 10 years to clean up those old soviet client regimes like in Syria , Iraq , Iran , etc, before another great super power emerges and challenges them. [1].

Clark’s 2007 speech was eerie in a sense that it clearly illustrated the plan to reshape the Middle East has been at work for many years. The vision of Oded Yinon is unraveling, and the Arab Spring is far from being a spring where life is rejuvenated, but instead it is a path to the underworld and to the total destruction of the entire region.

One of the nagging questions would be why has Russia never interfered or objected to the US military interventions in that region as claimed by Wolfowitz?

A possible answer would be is that post Soviet Russia became the ill and feeble patient of Eurasia who always was dependent on capitalist money, and has become satisfied with being a spectator who is rewarded with any bones or carcasses that the West will throw their way.

Ironically, The alleged Arab Spring widened beyond the seven countries mentioned in the Pentagon’s 2001 classified memo, and apparently became more comprehensive to ensure that new boundaries for every country in the region are remolded. President Obama, Nobel peace prize winner seems committed to complete his predecessor’s job, and to the cause of restructuring the Middle East and North Africa .

Subsequently, Mubarak of Egypt had to go just like the Shah of Iran did after years of loyalty to his Anglo-America bosses. The time is right for the old CIA allies “the Muslim Brothers” to be finally appointed as rulers of Egypt . I am certain that Mr. Obama’s administration and the intelligence agencies will eventually facilitate a bogus election in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood will win in a landslide making Egypt the new extremist Sunni state that will empower the Sunnis all over the region. Backed by American-Saudi money Egypt will take a stand against the extremist Shiite state of Iran . Meanwhile, the Saudis will applaud once again the destruction of another secular Arab State that was the cradle of Arab Nationalism during the reign of the late Gamal Abdel Nasser who was also opposed by the Saudis as their competitor to the leadership of the region.

Pan Arabism is a thing of the past while Islamism will be the future for the region. Fundamentalism is essential for globalization and balkanization of nations. That is clearly why the US and their allies have worked hard for years to finance fundamentalism in the US and abroad, while providing opposite rhetoric against it in the media.

Meanwhile, the Saudi hyenas will howl in celebration of the Muslim brothers’ victory, which will strongly renew their old pact with the US as their corrupt monarchs maintain their wealth and power. Ironically, on an official visit to Paris on May 18-20, 1998, the late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak declared the following in the Paris-Match: “You should be aware that, under the current conditions for international terrorism, the attack that took place at Luxor (referring to the November 17, 1997 Luxor attack in Upper Egypt ) could happen anywhere in the world. And we already know who fomented it: The residues of the war between the Afghans and the USSR , the alleged Mujaheddin that are financed by the CIA and the inexhaustible source of drug money.” It is the first time that the leader so specifically pointed a finger at the America “Big Brother,” who gives more than $2 billion in direct assistance to Egypt every year. [2].

Brief history:

The old pact between the US and the Saudis was sealed on board of the “Quincy” (Quincy was a 60 year-old pact 1945-2005, that granted the U.S. a monopoly on the exploitation of all the oil-bearing layered discovered in Saudi Arabia, and in return a protection of the kingdom’s integrity and a long term economic, financial, and commercial partnership, non-interference in Saudi domestic politics) between president Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud was already an exchange of oil for security and political protection. From that point forward, the Americans and Saudis would play Islamism and all other forms of religious fanaticism against secular and progressivist forms of Arab nationalism. The end result would be the establishment of a pax Americana that feeds on a “Lebanization” of the world. This order has produced a mafia-like links between organized crime and the great business networks of global capitalism, where the unifying thread of Islamic terror is not religion but money. [2].

Absurdly, Islamists and Zionists are complementary enemies, who work toward the same ends. Per example, with Hamas always upping the ante, the Likud is all the freer to pursue its broad scale policy of establishing colonies using immigrants from The Soviet Union and other nations, and completing the encirclement and Judeification of Eastern Jerusalem. [2].

Conclusion:

Finally, don’t be surprised and be ready to finance new and expensive sham wars that are actually military exercises due to the weakness and the insignificance of the alleged enemies. These new preplanned conflicts will only lead to their preplanned results. The current regime in Iran will definitely be changed in the near future, and British Petroleum with their global oil cohorts will be eagerly waiting to re-renter Iran and take over their oil resources, which will be privatized by a new puppet government possibly led by an American stooge like the oldest son of the late Shah of Iran Reza Pahlavi.

As a conclusion, the fulfillment of the Yinon’s covenant in the near east by the Obama administration will definitely guarantee Mr. Obama a second term as president of the United States .

Notes

1. www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/80552/Libya_D  

2. Richard Labeviere, (2000). Dollars for terror. Us and Islamism. Algora publishing, New York 

VIDEO: Condoning Torture: Republican Party is a Gestapo Party

December 4th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

World War III and the “Rumours of War” on Iran

December 4th, 2011 by William Bowles

It’s an (English) dog’s life

”I had to leave my dog in Iran’ – UK ambassador, BBC News, 2 December 2011

If I remember correctly, my mother told me that it was the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 that prompted her to join the British Communist Party. The parallels with Libya today are not lost on me. Spain was the place that Hitler used to perfect aerial bombardment with Guernica as our testament to that particular piece of barbarity, just as today the Empire uses entire countries as target practice and to try out new weapons systems on ‘them’.

The parallels with the destruction of Libya don’t end there. Franco’s insurrection could never have succeeded without the military support of Hitler’s Germany and the alleged ‘neutrality’ of the Western powers that effectively isolated the Republican government. Even the Soviet Union’s role, ostensibly supporting the Republican government, was motivated by a similar nationalist thinking to its vacillation over Libya and with the same, predictable and lamentable results.

People were so incensed by Franco’s attack on the democratically elected (and avowedly socialist) Republican government that from around the world people joined the International Brigade to fight Fascism.



Photo Source: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives

Frankly, I’m still trying to get my head around how our populations can stand by and watch the world go to hell and not lift a finger to stop our barbarian leaders start WWIII.

The parallels with 1936 obviously end here.

Yet in many other respects the Western imperialists are going down precisely the same road as they did in the 1930s and essentially for the same reasons: intra-capitalist rivalries being one of the main factors and not coincidentally it’s still their former socialist rivals, Russia and China that are once more the ‘enemy’, even if it’s presented to us in the West as Iran or Libya. Countries that are mere stepping stones to world conquest as far as the Empire is concerned. The maps tell it all, with both Russia and China once more encircled by the Empire.

To stop Iran, lean on ChinaTODAYonline

So it seems that even if you embrace market capitalism, it doesn’t protect you from the wrath of the Empire, something Russia at last seems to have grasped (relearned?) this particular fundamental of Imperialism. Is it too little, too late?

I’m torn over how to respond to the latest rumours that the Empire is about to bomb/invade Iran, after all we have witnessed the dogs of war howling pretty much every year for the past six years and each time I never believed (correctly) that attack was imminent and wrote as such.

Iran Continuing on Nuclear PathFox News

Yet these ‘rumours of war’ are crucial components in the softening up process, softening up our domestic populations that is, even if it takes years to carry out. Preparing us for yet another ‘humanitarian’ war. Do I believe the Empire will actually lose the will to live and bomb Iran and kick off WWIII as some pundits are averring? If history is to be the judge then yes, imperial hubris being what it is. We have to remember that the West is not dealing with real people, centuries of racist ideology have made sure of that. One might even argue that the ‘us’ and ‘them’ view of the world is so deeply embedded in our culture that it’s impossible to view the world in any other way.

The point about these ever-so predictable howls about ‘the other’ is that they are classic Goebellian diversionary propaganda pieces (the model being the Reichstag Fire), always occurring at ‘convenient’ times eg, economic meltdown, domestic embarrassments or whatever event is currently exposing the political elites and threatening to reveal the underlying relationship between crisis and capitalism. As regular as clockwork, whether it be terrorist bomb plots, or a flu virus, they serve to divert attention away from more pressing events.

Israel to attack Iran by Christmas � reportRT
The British media say Israel may launch an aerial strike on Iranian nuclear facilities in a matter of months. The offensive will receive support from the US, the speculation goes.

Of course as usual, the source of these rumours of impending war are unnamed:

The Daily Mail cites British government sources as saying that the cabinet expects Israel to attack Iran �sooner rather than later.’

/../

‘We’re expecting something as early as Christmas, or very early in the New Year, a Foreign Office source is cited as saying.’(ibid)

Is this for real? If it were so, do you really expect me to believe that they would announce it to the world? This is clearly also for Iranian consumption, all part of the psyops war being waged by the Empire.

This is why those of us who live in the so-called developed countries experience an almost complete disconnect from the vast majority of the planet’s peoples. Living within the Empire’s (no longer so seductive embrace), our view of the world is transformed into that of the oppressor’s. Morality, ethics, law, right, wrong, justice, you name it, are no more than words to be manipulated by a complicit media in the service of Empire. In our world they all mean one thing: they justify our centuries-long exploitation of the planet and its peoples.

How to overthrow Iran’s regime without war or sanctionsChristian Science Monitor

Two sets of ‘rules’, one for ‘them’ and one for us. Is it any wonder therefore that we stand idly by while the Empire trashes the planet, over and over again?

More to the point; as a writer and concerned citizen of the planet also living within this mirage, how to break through and communicate the sheer horror of what we, citizens of Empire are complicit in?

The Debate Over A Nuclear Iran – By Mike Brownfield, Heritage Foundation

It’s one thing to unpack the media’s role in the entire sordid affair or to analyse the political economy of capitalism: what’s wrong with it, why capitalism can offer no solution to the economic and environmental crisis that confronts us.

But as OWS and indeed the entire ‘anti-capitalist’ movement are revealing, we offer no concrete alternatives except slogans. It’s all against and nothing for. To be fair, OWS does call for economic justice, an end to wars and so forth (though this is by no means unique to OWS) but not how to achieve it.

But I’ll go as far as to say that the Occupy Movement and especially its implications are the number one reason why Iran became a burning issue once again. As always, timing is crucial. Effectively the Empire is conducting a propaganda war on several fronts simultaneously. And not just a propaganda war as the destruction of Libya demonstrates. But the Libya campaign was preceded by a years-long propaganda war that had prepared our domestic populations well for the eventuality of the ‘evil dictator’s’ downfall. And perhaps it was the infamous Lockerbie bombing, which more than any other fabrication that sealed Gaddafi’s fate (though at the time, Iran was the preferred culprit, accused by yet another defector.[1])

So too with Iran, even if the casualties seem light:

VIDEO: ‘I had to leave my dog in Iran’
Dominick Chilcott, Britain’s Ambassador to Iran, has told the BBC that his dog was left behind when the British embassy in Tehran was attacked. — BBC News 2 December 2011

But in another one the BBC’s sleight-of-hand titles we read:

Iran attack ‘had state support’
Tuesday’s attack on Britain’s embassy in Tehran had the “acquiescence and the support of the state”, says the UK’s former ambassador to Iran. — BBC News 2 December 2011

Though the opening para is somewhat more circumspect:

The ruling regime in Iran are likely to have supported an attack on the UK’s embassy in Tehran, the British ambassador to the country has said.[my emph. WB] (ibid)

In fact, the BBC News’ Website Iran stories (16 in all) since 30 November had, aside from the dog and and two more, two themes: the trashing of the UK embassy in Tehran and the eviction of the Iranian embassy in London.[2] No other explanation is offered to the reader, it’s more ‘received opinion’ presented as fact. The BBC’s treatment of the embassy trashing reeks of the Big Lie; the same headlines repeated over and over again. History is obliterated in the process. Iran is reduced to a convenient simplistic cipher. They are longer people and worse, they hate dogs, or so the BBC’s story implies (and you know how the English feel about dogs).

As with Libya’s ‘humanitarian crisis’, it’s now an a priori assumption by the BBC and the rest of the complicit media that Iran has a bomb or is in the process of making one. The (inconvenient) facts are dumped as being irrelevant as ‘those dog-hating Iranians are not to be trusted’ regardless of the facts.

By further tightening the screws on Iran the occupation of an embassy (or something similar) was pretty much a foregone conclusion. The groundwork has been laid for an attack, if not soon then at some time in the future, triggered perhaps by yet another provocative move by the Empire, maybe in the Persian Gulf. Job done.

The headlines that I’ve sprinkled through this text illustrate precisely what I mean about the filter through which the world is seen. The Christian Science Monitor for example sees nothing wrong with it’s head: “How to overthrow Iran’s regime without war or sanctions”, far from it, it actually thinks it’s being ‘liberal’ and ‘even-handed’ on the issue! Or the Todayonline‘s “To stop Iran, lean on China” head. It’s the presumption inherent in all these stories of our right to judge and to determine the fate of entire nations just as we have done for the past five centuries.

Notes

1. “A man claiming to be a senior Iranian intelligence service defector has said that Iran, not Libya, masterminded the Lockerbie bombing.” — ‘Iran blamed for Lockerbie bomb‘, BBC News, 5 June 2000

2. At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, it strikes me that the timing of the trashing of the UK embassy in Tehran is just a little bit too convenient. A provocation? It also came at the same time as a CIA/Mossad/MI5 spy ring was broken in Iran and Lebanon. Coincidence? And yet another bombing at an Iranian nuclear? site. Coincidence? All designed to lead toward creating a pretext for an attack should Iran put a foot wrong in its response to these provocations. Something the Iranians are all too familiar with as the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953 revealed:

“[In] 1953, the British and American governments initiated a joint Anglo-American plan for the covert overthrow of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the of Iran. The plan called Operation AJAX with Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA Mideast Agent in charge (a grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and a distant cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt). “So this is how we will get rid of the madman Mossadeq in Iran” announced John Foster Dulles to a group of top Washington policy makers in June 1953.”

Conspiracy? You bet! Done in secret, hidden from us and the Iranian people, Operation AJAX is your classic conspiracy, meeting all the legal requirements that the word represents.

World War III: The Launching of a Preemptive Nuclear War against Iran

December 4th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran has been on the active drawing board of the Pentagon since 2005.  

If such a war were to be launched, the entire Middle East Central Asia region would flare up.  Humanity would be precipitated into a World War III Scenario.

World War III is not front-page news. The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans.

The onslaught of World War III, were it to be carried out, would be casually described as a “no-fly zone”, an operation under NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) with minimal “collateral damage” or a “limited” punitive bombing against specific military targets, all of which purport to support “Global Security” as well as “democracy” and human rights in the targeted country.  

Public opinion is largely unaware of the grave implications of these war plans, which contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, ironically in retaliation to Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Moreover, 21st Century military technology is at an advanced stage of development combining an array of sophisticated weapons systems.  

We are at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in World history.

The future of humanity is at stake. 

The present situation is one of advanced war planning by a formidable military force using nuclear warheads.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest.

The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the World simultaneously.

Militarization at the global level is instrumented through the US military’s Unified Command structure: the entire planet is divided up into geographic Combatant Commands under the control of the Pentagon. According to (former) NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consists of a sequence of war theaters: “[The] five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”

Military action is waged in the name of the “Global War on Terrorism” and Global Security. It has a stated “humanitarian” “pro-democracy” mandate.

It is predicated on the notion that the West’s arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons are (in contrast to those [nonexistent] of the Islamic Republic), according to expert scientific opinion on contract to the Pentagon, “harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground.”

Irresponsible politicians are unaware of the implications of their actions. They believe their own war propaganda: nuclear weapons are heralded as an instrument of peace and democracy.

War is heralded as a peace-keeping making operation carried out with the support of the “international community”.

The victims of war are described as the perpetrators. Iran and Syria constitute a threat to Global Security thereby justifying pre-emptive military action.

Global Warfare

The concept of the “Long War” has characterised US military doctrine since the end of World War II.

The broader objective of global military dominance in support of an imperial project was first formulated under the Truman administration in the late 1940s at the outset of the Cold War.

We are dealing with a global military agenda, namely “Global Warfare”. The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which was the backbone of the NeoCon’s agenda was predicated on “waging a war without borders”.

The PNAC’s declared objectives were to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars” in different regions of the World as well perform the so-called military “constabulary” duties “associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions”. Global constabulary implies a Worldwide process of military policing and interventionism, including covert operations and “regime change”. (Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding Americas Defenses.pdf, September 2000)

This diabolical military project formulated by the NeoCons was adopted and implemented from the very outset of the Obama administration. With a new team of military and foreign policy advisers, Obama has been far more effective in fostering military escalation than his predecessor in the White House, who has recently been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for “Crimes against the Peace”. 

In the present context, US military and intelligence actions are been undertaken in different part of the the World.

Ongoing war plans within the broader Middle East Central Asian region would involve coordinated actions against Iran, Syria and Pakistan leading to an extended regional war theater. The three existing and distinct war theaters (Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine) would merge into a broad regional war extending from the Lebanese-Syrian East Mediterraean coastline to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with Western China (See map below). Israel, Lebanon and Turkey would be engulfed in the conflict.


It is important to address the history of this military agenda including the slated role of Israel.

The main coalition partners, including the US, UK, Israel and Turkey have been in “an advanced stage of readiness” since 2005.  The Combatant Command structure of a military operation against Iran is centralized and controlled by the Pentagon.

In 2005, USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.”   This Combatant Command integration also included coordination with America’s allies including NATO, Israel and a number of frontline Arab states, which are members of NATO’s Mediterranean dialogue.  

To implement USSTRATCOM’s mandate, a new command unit entitled  Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created. 

JFCCSGS was granted the mandate to oversee the launching of a nuclear attack against Iran in accordance with the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, approved by the US Congress in 2002. The NPR underscores the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons not only against “rogue states” (i.e. Iran) but also against China and Russia.  The operational implementation of the “Global Strike” was labelled CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’  CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’Rebuild the Antiwar Movement. SAY NO to World War III

The antiwar movement is in crisis: civil society organizations are misinformed, manipulated or co-opted.  A large segment of “progressive” opinion is supportive of NATO’s  R2P “humanitarian”  mandate to extent that these war plans are being carried out with the “rubber stamp” of civil society.   There is a definite need to rebuild the antiwar movement on entirely new premises.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda, the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

Breaking the “big lie” which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

It should be understood that whatever its justification, War is a “Crime against the Peace” under Nuremberg.

George W. Bush and Anthony L. Blair have been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for waging a criminal war of aggression against Iraq.

War crimes, however,  are not limited to the former US president and British Prime Minister. There are, so to speak, “New War Criminals on the Block” including the president of the United States of America Barack Hussein Obama, among others.  

The acting heads of state and heads of government which support US-NATO-Israel wars of aggression under an R2P pretext are war criminals under international law. This proposition, which consists in unseating the war criminals in high office, is central to the waging of an effective antiwar movement.

This war can be prevented if people forcefully confront their governments, address the issue of war crimes, pressure their elected representatives, organize at the local level in towns, villages and municipalities, spread the word, inform their fellow citizens as to the implications of a global war, initiate debate and discussion within the armed forces.


Michel Chossudovsky, Dercember 4, 2011

Nuclear War against Iran

Below are excerpts from my January 2006 article (emphasis added) which outlines the process of military deployment including the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.

To read the complete article click here: Nuclear War against Iran. A more detailed analysis is contained in my book entitled Towards a World War III Scenario (see ordering details below):  

“Various military exercises have been conducted, starting in early 2005. In turn, the Iranian Armed Forces have also conducted large scale military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf in December in anticipation of a US sponsored attack. 

Since early 2005, there has been intense shuttle diplomacy between Washington, Tel Aviv, Ankara and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

In recent developments [late 2005], CIA Director Porter Goss on a mission to Ankara, requested Turkish Prime Minister  Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to provide political and logistic support for air strikes against Iranian nuclear and military targets.”  Goss reportedly asked ” for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help prepare and monitor the operation.” (DDP, 30 December 2005).

In turn, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given the green light to the Israeli Armed Forces to launch the attacks by the end of March [2006]: 

All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March, 2006, as the deadline for launching a military assault on Iran…. The end of March date also coincides with the IAEA report to the UN on Iran’s nuclear energy program. Israeli policymakers believe that their threats may influence the report, or at least force the kind of ambiguities, which can be exploited by its overseas supporters to promote Security Council sanctions or justify Israeli military action.

(James Petras,  Israel’s War Deadline: Iran in the Crosshairs, Global Research, December 2005)

The US sponsored military plan has been endorsed by NATO, although it is unclear, at this stage [December 2005], as to the nature of NATO’s involvement in the planned aerial attacks. 

“Shock and Awe” 

The various components of the military operation are firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska

The actions announced by Israel would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon. The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately Washington will decide when to launch the military operation. 

US military sources have confirmed that an aerial attack on Iran would involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003: 

American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq. Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego Garcia or flying direct from the United States, possibly supplemented by F-117 stealth fighters staging from al Udeid in Qatar or some other location in theater, the two-dozen suspect nuclear sites would be targeted.

Military planners could tailor their target list to reflect the preferences of the Administration by having limited air strikes that would target only the most crucial facilities … or the United States could opt for a far more comprehensive set of strikes against a comprehensive range of WMD related targets, as well as conventional and unconventional forces that might be used to counterattack against US forces in Iraq 

(See Globalsecurity.org at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iran-strikes.htm

In November [2005], US Strategic Command conducted a major exercise of a “global strike plan” entitled “Global Lightening”. The latter involved a simulated attack using both conventional and nuclear weapons against a “fictitious enemy”.

Following the “Global Lightening” exercise, US Strategic Command declared an advanced state of readiness.

Consensus for Nuclear War

No dissenting political voices have emerged from within the European Union. 

There are ongoing consultations between Washington, Paris and Berlin. Contrary to the invasion of Iraq, which was opposed at the diplomatic level by France and Germany, Washington has been building “a consensus” both within the Atlantic Alliance and  the UN Security Council. This consensus pertains to the conduct of a nuclear war, which could potentially affect a large part of the Middle East Central Asian region.  

Moreover, a number of frontline Arab states [i.e. Arab League] are now tacit partners in the US/ Israeli military project.  A year ago in November 2004, Israel’s top military brass met at NATO headquarters in Brussels with their counterparts from six members of the Mediterranean basin nations, including Egypt,  Jordan,  Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. [Arabic league and Israel work hand in glove] A NATO-Israel protocol  was signed. Following these meetings, joint military exercises were held off the coast of Syria  involving the US, Israel and Turkey. and in February 2005, Israel participated in military exercises and “anti-terror maneuvers” together with several Arab countries. 

The media in chorus has unequivocally pointed to Iran as a “threat to World Peace”.  

The antiwar movement has swallowed the media lies. The fact that the US and Israel are planning a Middle East nuclear holocaust is not part of the antiwar/ anti- globalization agenda.  

The “surgical strikes” are presented to world public opinion as a means to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  

We are told that this is not a war but a military peace-keeping operation, in the form of aerial attacks directed against Iran’s nuclear facilities. 

Mini-nukes: “Safe for Civilians” 

The press reports, while revealing certain features of the military agenda, largely serve to distort the broader nature of the military operation, which contemplates the preemptive use of tactical nuclear weapons.  

The war agenda is based on the Bush administration’s doctrine of “preemptive” nuclear war under the 2002  Nuclear Posture Review. 

Media disinformation has been used extensively to conceal the devastating consequences of military action involving nuclear warheads against Iran. The fact that these surgical strikes would be carried out using both conventional and nuclear weapons is not an object of debate. 

According to a 2003 Senate decision, the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons or “low yield” “mini-nukes”, with an explosive capacity of up to 6 times a Hiroshima bomb, are now considered “safe for civilians” because the explosion is underground. 

 The following article published in January 2006 outlined the main features of this diabolical  military agenda. In recent developments, following the threats by Britain and Israel, we have reached a major turning point.  

….

Space and Earth Attack Command Unit 

A preemptive nuclear attack [against Iran] using tactical nuclear weapons would be coordinated out of US Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska, in liaison with US and coalition command units in the Persian Gulf, the Diego Garcia military base, Israel and Turkey. 

Under its new mandate, USSTRATCOM has a responsibility for “overseeing a global strike plan” consisting of both conventional and nuclear weapons. In military jargon, it is slated to play the role of  ”a global integrator charged with the missions of Space Operations; Information Operations; Integrated Missile Defense; Global Command & Control; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Global Strike; and Strategic Deterrence…. “  

In January 2005, at the outset of the military build-up directed against Iran, USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.” 

To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled  Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created. 

JFCCSGS has the mandate to oversee the launching of a nuclear attack in accordance with the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, approved by the US Congress in 2002. The NPR underscores the pre-emptive use of nuclear warheads not only against “rogue states” but also against China and Russia. 

CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022 

JFCCSGS is in an advanced state of readiness to trigger nuclear attacks directed against Iran or North Korea. 

The operational implementation of the Global Strike is called CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’ (Ibid). 

CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’

‘It’s specifically focused on these new types of threats — Iran, North Korea — proliferators and potentially terrorists too,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that says that they can’t use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.’(According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese economic News Wire, op cit) 

The mission of JFCCSGS is to implement CONPLAN 8022, in other words to trigger a nuclear war with Iran. 

The Commander in Chief, namely George W. Bush would instruct the Secretary of Defense, who would then instruct the Joint Chiefs of staff to activate CONPLAN 8022. 

CONPLAN is distinct from other  military operations. it does not contemplate the deployment of ground troops.  

CONPLAN 8022 is different from other war plans in that it posits a small-scale operation and no “boots on the ground.” The typical war plan encompasses an amalgam of forces — air, ground, sea — and takes into account the logistics and political dimensions needed to sustain those forces in protracted operations…. The global strike plan is offensive, triggered by the perception of an imminent threat and carried out by presidential order.) (William Arkin, Washington Post, May 2005

To Read the complete article, click below


Nuclear War against Iran
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-01-03

The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran is now in the final planning stages. Coalition partners, which include the US, Israel and Turkey are in “an advanced stage of readiness”.

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Pakistan: U.S. And NATO Have Licence To Kill

December 4th, 2011 by Andleeb Abbas

The more corrupt the government, the weaker the economy, and greater the US control. Thus, the present PPP rule was tailor-made for a US takeover

Talk about target killing, and you think of Karachi. However, the founding member of this horrible form of inhumanity is the US. If we consider drones and the so-called target hunts for terrorists, we understand the origins of this extrajudicial atrocity. The US has traditionally been a master of this ‘art’. It actually does strategic planning sessions on this art. The vision of the US as a superpower is based on exercising its might on smaller countries and making them powerless. Grenada, Panama and Vietnam in the past, and Iraq and Afghanistan more recently, have been experimental laboratories of its war games. The fact that the US has never succeeded in these countries is immaterial, as the country’s actual objective of this war is to boost sales of its mega industrial multinationals and to get access to resources to feed its economy. The CIA and its allied departments create profiles of target countries. The profiles have qualification criteria that include political and economic prerequisites for a country to be included in the hit-list. Politically, it needs to be unstable with a government whose credibility is marred by corruption and mismanagement. The leadership of such countries is obsessed with personal gains and is ready to negotiate anything for perpetuating its power, and therefore not endangered by its lack of performance. Economically, these countries are beset with huge deficits, are dependent on US-sponsored aid and are constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. An added attraction might be scarce natural resources that serve as fuel for American industries. 

Pakistan fits admirably this profile. For decades, governments, autocratic and democratic, were formed with the consent of the White House and then obediently sustained the target profile criterion as per the US’s requirements. From General Ziaul Haq to General Musharraf, and from Benazir Bhutto to Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s fate has been tied to the moods of Capitol Hill. The excuse given by our leaders for this subservience has ranged from benefit to the country in the long run to being forced by threats of not cooperating with the US. Whatever the reason, each successive government gives the impression that life without the US is impossible. The more corrupt the government, the weaker the economy, and greater the US control. Thus, the present PPP rule was tailor-made for a US takeover. Last year has seen an amazing deterioration in governance and the performance of the government. State enterprises have gone downhill, trade and business has been badly hit and law and order are non-existent. The US has been taking increasing liberties to increase its encroachment on Pakistan starting with Raymond Davis being whisked away under the nose of our legal system and Osama killed on our territory, to NATO killing 24 of our soldiers. Its incursions have been greatly encouraged by the government’s haplessness.

The Pak-US relationship has become extremely one sided. The US has demanded more and more from Pakistan. Musharraf gave Shamsi air base to the US and Google map pictures show a base that has a very well developed strip, one that is good enough to accommodate sophisticated bombers, etc. The mystery of the base being let to the UAE, and then sublet by the UAE to the US is an example of dubious deals that are bound to lead to unfair advantages to the exploiter. The government has now given a deadline to the US to vacate the base by December 11. However, as we know, such deadlines are not going to impress the US as it is used to empty threats from the government and treats the threats with scant regard. In contrast, the US makes sure that the threats it renders are taken very seriously. The recent souring of the relationship between the two countries over Pakistan not taking action against the Haqqani network resulted in a US warning of military action. Thus, the NATO attack on our forces is a result of not giving in to their warnings. The incident shows the complete confidence of the US in its ability to get away with murder, given the special licence to kill by the leaders of this country. The US mocked Pakistani outrage and retaliatory measures with further NATO skirmishes along the border. Another discovery was that aside from Shamsi, Shahbaz airstrip was also under US control. How many other bases are available to the US to bomb Afghanistan and Pakistan is a mystery nobody seems to have a clue about. When asked about Shahbaz, our defence minister said that Shahbaz would be dealt with later. Later? After hundreds more of our innocent men are gunned down?

This helplessness of our government is frightening. They have always jumped onto the US bandwagon with the expectation of being paid handsomely for services rendered, but the payment is peanuts compared with the amount being spent on fighting a completely futile war of terror. Pakistanis have seen innocent people become victims of the greed of the men in charge of public money. They are fearful now that this encroachment of the US might turn into random invasions to teach Pakistan a lesson for work underperformed. The philosophy of the government seems to be that if you cannot handle a crisis, create a bigger one. To pale something as horrific as Memogate into insignificance, you needed something on the scale of the NATO attack to divert attention and focus. However, people have an elephant’s memory. They may have got a new topic to ponder, but will never forget the anguish of being embarrassed globally by the (alleged) immaturity of our leaders’ rushed and reactive approach to crisis. For the US to take us seriously, we need to have a sincere leadership with a single point agenda of reviving the economy and educating the masses to become independent economically, mentally and spiritually. And such freedom of thought and soul will lead to the biggest cancellation of any licence that the US has to create political and economic havoc in Pakistan.

Andleeb Abbas is a consultant and can be reached at [email protected]

Thirty-three Latin American leaders have come together and formed a new regional bloc, pledging closer economic and political ties. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) pointedly excludes the US and Canada.

On the second day of a summit in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, all Latin American leaders, both right and left, officially signed into effect the formation of the CELAC bloc. The foundation of the bloc has been praised as the realization of the two-centuries-old idea of Latin American “independence” envisioned by Simon Bolivar.

Analysts view CELAC as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) and as an attempt by Latin American countries to reduce US influence in the region.

“As the years go by, CELAC is going to leave behind the old and worn-out OAS,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said at the inauguration of the bloc on Friday.

“It’s the death sentence for the Monroe Doctrine,” said Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said.

However Washington does not see CELAC as a replacement to OAS. US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said the US will continue “to work through the OAS as the pre-eminent multilateral organization, speaking for the hemisphere.”

Political analyst Omar Jose Hassan Farinas told RT’s Spanish channel the US views CELAC as a potential threat to its hegemony in the region.

Chavez also read out statement opposing the US trade embargo on Cuba. Havana, which is not a member of the OAS, has joined the new regional bloc.

“No more interference. Enough is enough! We have to take shape as a center of the world power and demand respect for all of us as community and for each one of our countries,” Venezuelan leader said.

The 33 leaders pledged to withstand the financial crisis that has struck Europe and other developed countries. 

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff stressed that the Latin American countries would need to rely more on their neighbors amid the global economic turmoil. 

“The economic, financial crisis should be at the center of our concerns,” Rousseff said Friday night. She said Latin America should “realize that to guarantee its current cycle of development despite the international economic turbulence, it means that every politician must be aware that each one needs the others.”  

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who assumed the initial rotating presidency at CELAC, expressed hopes that the bloc would help build regional cooperation despite the differences between some of the 33 member states.

The leaders also discussed cooperation in the field of drug trafficking and climate change.

CELAC should be a “political union to build a large power center of the 21st century,” the Venezuelan president said, stressing strong regional growth as many countries in the region develop closer ties with Asia or Europe and reduce their traditional reliance on the US.

The formation of CELAC was warmly welcomed by rising global power, China. Chavez read aloud a letter from Chinese President Hu Jintao congratulating the leaders on forming the new bloc. 

Hu pledged to deepen cooperation with the CELAC and underlined that in the 21st century the relations between China and Latin America have seen all-round and fast development with expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation, according to Xinhua news agency. 

The countries of CELAC have a combined population of nearly 600 million people, and a combined GDP of about US$6 trillion – about a third of the combined output of the US and Canada.

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Rusia ha amenazado con bloquearlas rutas de suministro de la OTAN hacia Afganistán, si la alianza militar occidental sigue haciendo caso omiso de las preocupaciones de Moscú al escudo de defensa en Europa, liderado por los Estados Unidos, según un informe reciente.

El embajador ruso ante la OTAN, Rogozin Dimitri, advirtió que Moscú podría revisar su cooperación con la Alianza Atlántica en Afganistán si la OTAN no cumpliese con las objeciones de Rusia en lo que concierne el escudo, informó el Wall Street Journal de este lunes.

El pasado jueves, el presidente ruso Dimitri Medvedev ya había advertido que acciones directas se tomarían al respecto si las preocupaciones de su país no se tuviesen en consideración.

Medvedev ha considerado la posibilidad de atacar con misiles a Polonia, Rumania, España y Turquía, como un medio para poner fuera de uso las baterías antimisiles en el caso en que los Estados Unidos no reconociesen las preocupaciones de los funcionarios de la defensa rusa.

También, advirtió que el país desplegaría armas nucleares en sus fronteras con Europa para responder a la situación.

La amenaza de Rusia de suspender las líneas de suministro de la OTAN en Afganistán coincidió con sanciones similares adoptadas el sábado por Pakistán, en represalia a la reciente incursión aérea de la Alianza, encabezada por los Estados Unidos contra las fuerzas militares paquistaníes y en la que murieron 24 soldados paquistaníes.

La OTAN empezó a utilizar rutas más seguras en Rusia para entregar suministros a sus fuerzas desde que Washington y Moscú restablecieron relaciones diplomáticas mejores en el 2009.

El gobierno ruso se opuso desde hace mucho tiempo al plan controvertido de la OTAN que consiste en el despliegue de un escudo antimisiles en Europa, con el argumento de que este supuesto sistema de “patio trasero” no tiene la intención de asegurar a Washington y sus aliados sino que está dirigido efectivamente hacia Rusia.  

A su vez, la OTAN proclamó que el escudo antimisiles estaba previsto para frustrar los ataques de “estados canallas” y que seguirían con el plan a pesar de las preocupaciones de Rusia.

 

Texto original en francés : La Russie menace de bloquer les routes de ravitaillement de l’OTAN  2011-11-29

Traduzido por Stéphanie Dehorter  

US, Israeli covert wars turn the screw on Iran and Syria

November 29, 2011, 7:24 pm

The hidden wars the United States, NATO, Arab League members and Israel are waging against Iran, Syria and Hizballah rose to a record pitch in the last two weeks. Aspects of these covert operations are revealed exclusively in the coming issue of DEBKA -Net-Weekly , out Friday.  In Syria, these operations teeter on the brink of overt combat. 

In Syria, these operations teeter on the brink of overt combat. In Iran, unseen hands are eroding regime stability.  

Read also about the Western-Arab plan to bisect Syria into pro-and anti-Assad entities.