Chilcot Inquiry equals “don’t mention Dr David Kelly” … an inquest into Dr Kelly’s death is required by the laws of this land, and indeed those of Europe … the evidence would have to be heard under oath at an inquest … so far, there have been no fewer than five inquiries into the Iraq War (Foreign Affairs Committee, Intelligence and Security Committee, Hutton Inquiry, Butler inquiry, Chilcot Inquiry) but not a single word of evidence at any of these inquiries has been heard under oath … if evidence were heard under oath there WOULD be a breaking of ranks (perjury is a very serious crime) … the only chance of hearing evidence under oath would be at an inquest into Dr David Kelly’s death … that is why the call for that inquest is so important … please read this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/07_01_11davidkelly1.pdf


and, for background, please read this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12085257


Everyone who cares about this shameful episode in British history, and who wants to arrive at the truth of the matter, should support the increasingly loud calls for this required (in law) inquest into a death which was inextricably linked to the United Kingdom’s waging of illegal (according to both the Geneva Conventions … “the supreme international war crime” … and the United Nations Charter) aggressive war on the sovereign state of Iraq.

Dangerous Crossroads: Russia also has a Star Wars Program

January 23rd, 2011 by Global Research

Russian missiles must penetrate any defenses — parliament

Moscow: Russia must quickly modernize its nuclear deterrent focusing on the deployment of ballistic missiles capable of penetrating the most sophisticated missile defenses, a draft supplementary statement to the new START treaty ratification document says.

The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, posted on its official website on Friday the texts of two draft statements that would accompany the resolution on ratification of the treaty.

“The State Duma believes that maintaining Russia’s nuclear deterrent in an adequate state of readiness is a key venue of the country’s military doctrine, with the focus on the deployment of strategic offensive weapons that possess the most combat effectiveness and the highest potential to penetrate missile defenses,” says the statement dedicated to the upkeep of Russia’s nuclear deterrent and the development of new missile defenses.

“The combat effectiveness of Russia’s nuclear deterrent must be maintained at the level that guarantees the protection of the country from attacks carried out by any foreign state or a group of states in any military-strategic situation,” the 3.5-page document says.

The second supplementary statement outlines the State Duma’s position on the reduction and limitations of strategic offensive armaments. It is addressed to the United States, but also calls on other nuclear powers “to join the process of the reduction and limitation of nuclear weapons through a ban on their further development. “

The new arms reduction treaty, replacing START 1, which expired in December 2009, was signed in Prague last April by President Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama. The document slashes the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.

The U.S. Senate ratified the new arms deal with Russia on December 22, 2010, but added several amendments to the resolution on ratification, including a demand to build up U.S. global missile defenses.

The new agreement will come into force after ratification by both houses of the Russian parliament, the State Duma and the Federation Council.

The State Duma is expected to adopt the draft law in the third and final reading on January 25. The upper house could hold its ratification vote in its first session on January 26.

NATO’s Arctic Military Alliance

January 23rd, 2011 by Rick Rozoff

On January 19 and 20 British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted his counterparts from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the first Nordic Baltic Summit to consolidate an “alliance of common interests.”

Cameron’s initiative followed by two months a two-day meeting of Nordic-Baltic defense ministers in Norway with the defense chiefs of the same nine nations that participated in the London gathering along with defense representatives from Germany and Poland.

A Russian commentary on the day of the opening of the Nordic Baltic Summit in the United Kingdom stated:

“Europeans have decided to watch the Russians in the Arctic and how they behave there closely. The idea of creating an Arctic ‘mini-NATO’ was discussed at the [Nordic Baltic] Summit in London on Wednesday. According to analysts, the heightened activity of North Europe is explained by an increased interest in the Arctic and its natural resources.”

In addition to economic and energy issues, “experts insist that British Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss with his counterparts a draft agreement on the foundation of a new military alliance.”

The author of the piece argued that as part of a Nordic-Baltic military structure stretching from the Barents to the Norwegian to the North to the Baltic Seas “a Scandinavian mini-NATO alliance has long been hovering in the air.” [1]

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization subdivision is to include Alliance members Denmark and Norway, partners Finland and Sweden, and non-contiguous outposts Greenland (Denmark), the Faroe Islands (Denmark) and the Aland Islands (Finland).

The project for a Nordic military pact, modeled after and in the long run subordinated to NATO, was taken up in earnest by former Norwegian defense and foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg in 2009 and “provides for the creation of a mini-NATO for Scandinavia and the Arctic.” [2] Stoltenberg’ s son Jens is currently Norway’s prime minister.

The Stoltenberg report of 2009, whose formal name is “Nordic Co-operation on foreign and security policy,” focused on “13 areas of potential closer co-operation in the Nordic region, such as peace-building, air-policing and maritime monitoring, security in the High North, cyber-security, co-operation between foreign services and defence.” [3] More specifically, it called for “creating a military and civilian taskforce for unstable regions; a joint amphibious unit; a disaster-response unit; a coastguard-level maritime response force; joint cyber-defence systems; joint air, maritime and satellite surveillance; co-operation on Arctic governance; and a war crimes investigation unit.” [4]

According to the EUobserver: “A Nato-style ‘musketeer’ clause and closer consular co-operation could form part of a new Nordic alliance, foreshadowing future developments inside the EU.” [5]

The Stoltenberg report’s recommendations served as the foundation for discussions between the foreign ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in Copenhagen last March which concentrated on “joint monitoring of the Nordic marine areas, the Nordic air space and the Arctic, as well as issues relating to search and rescue services.

“In addition, possible joint efforts against cyber attacks and a possible further development of the co-operation already established in the military area” were topics taken up. [6]

The five above-mentioned nations are to “sign a joint statement on security policy in April next year aimed at strengthening Nordic co-operation and joint actions in cases of peace-time catastrophes as well as military threats,” [7] following discussion of the subject at a meeting of the Nordic Council in Iceland last November. At the latter event Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Store stated: “Increased cooperation in Nordic and Baltic defense is an important step in the right direction. It’s now time to formalize this cooperation further and confirm Nordic unity in defense.” [8]

A week later the meeting of the defense ministers of Britain, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania met in Oslo. British Defence Minister Liam Fox said at the event: “The deepening of our bilateral and multilateral relationships with partners in the Nordic region is well worth exploring. We would like to create a broader framework that makes it easier for both NATO and non-NATO members to have a closer relationship in the region.” [9] Eleven months before Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden formalized a mechanism for collective military collaboration, the Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO) agreement.

At the same defense chiefs gathering where the nine nations “discussed how they could cooperate more closely regarding security challenges in the High North” and “closer cooperation between the Nordic countries’ forces in Afghanistan, ” Norwegian Defense Minister Grete Faremo stated:

“I think we should work together more closely in areas such as operational capabilities, education and training/exercising . Norway would welcome more allied units to take part in exercises set in our demanding natural environment.

“We have already achieved good results through such measures as common transport and logistics solutions for our forces in Afghanistan. In addition we have a series of projects in the fields of education, training and defence equipment collaboration.”

“We must continue to cooperate within UN, NATO and EU operations,” she added in conclusion. [10]

The Russian analysis cited earlier concluded by stating: “The organizers make no secret that the idea of a Scandinavian mini-NATO alliance is a response to Russia’s efforts to survey and develop the Arctic shelf. According to experts, about 25 percent of the world’s oil and gas resources are in the Arctic shelf, besides other natural resources.” [11]

On the day after the London Nordic-Baltic Summit ended, another article in the Russian press stated:

“The United Kingdom is no doubt one of NATO’s strongest members and would be the largest power in any Nordic NATO. It has long been interested in these northern areas and, because of its traditionally rocky relations with Russia, would be likely to back the initiative.

“Nor is the Baltic republics’ involvement surprising: their political elites tend to be keen to support any anti-Russian initiative. In this particular case, there was no attempt to hide it – Thorvald Stoltenberg said outright that the idea was a direct response to Russian efforts.

“The political picture might…change if Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries, were to join the alliance.” [12]

Speaking before the House of Commons the day before the Nordic-Baltic defense ministers meeting in Norway last November, British Defence Minister Fox said:

“I shall point out our commitment to the submarine programme and to the aircraft carrier programme, and explain how we intend to ensure that across the range of capabilities the United Kingdom is a sound and secure NATO partner. The purpose of the meeting in Norway is to ensure that we deepen our bilateral relationship with Norway, that we create a NATO entity that Finland and Sweden feel a little more comfortable with, that we give further security to article 5 in the Baltic states by being a nuclear power as part of that grouping, and that as a NATO grouping we are better able to deal with regional disputes with Russia.” [13]

On August 1 2009 Norway shifted its Operational Command Headquarters from Stavanger to Reitan in the north, becoming the first nation to locate its military leadership structure in the Arctic.

The Russian writers quoted above expressed scepticism regarding the prospects for a NATO regional command in the Arctic and Baltic regions, but that project is not solely a British-Norwegian enterprise.

It is part of a broader strategy for the Arctic Ocean and the seas south of it.

Two years ago Washington released the National Security Presidential Directive 66 which stated in part:

“The United States has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests. These interests include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.”

Later in January of 2009 NATO conducted what it called a Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North in the capital of Iceland which was attended by among others the military bloc’s secretary general, the chairman of its Military Committee and its Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. [14]

Last August the U.S. and Denmark participated for the first time in Canada’s annual Operation Nanook military exercise in the Arctic, although both fellow NATO members are involved in territorial disputes with Canada in the region. [15]

NATO has intensified its campaign to recruit Finland and Sweden into its ranks in recent years. Both nations supply troops for the Alliance’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, where Finland has suffered its first combat deaths since World War Two and Sweden in two centuries. [16]

Two years ago NATO held ten-day military exercises in Sweden, codenamed Loyal Arrow 2009, with the involvement of ten countries, 2,000 troops, an aircraft carrier and 50 jet fighters. [17]

Last year’s BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) exercise conducted with U.S., NATO and NATO partnership nations was held in Estonia and Latvia with over 3,000 troops and military hardware – including 36 ships and two submarines – from ten nations, among them Finland and Sweden.

Finland and Sweden are the only non-NATO nations (they are Partnership for Peace members) to have joined Alliance states Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the U.S. in running the first multinational strategic airlift operation, the Heavy Airlift Wing at the Papa Air Base in Hungary used for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last September 50 warships and 4,000 navy personnel from the U.S., Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Britain, France and Germany participated in the two-week Northern Coasts military exercise in and off Finland’s coast, the largest war games ever staged in Finnish territorial waters.

Three months earlier the Finnish government presented a proposal to parliament to participate in the 25,000-troop, globally deployable NATO Response Force.

In the same month, June, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb advocated a multinational deployment to the former Soviet Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

“The Nordic and Baltic countries are proposing a civilian rapid-reaction force be sent to southern Kyrgyzstan, where ethnic violence has left well over 100 people dead. Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb proposed the mission at [the June 14th] meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.” Stubb “compared the situation to that in Georgia in August 2008, when an international police mission was sent.” [18]

The first target of a NATO-EU Nordic-Baltic (inclusive of Poland) military intervention is likely to be Belarus.

In November Finnish President Tarja Halonen, Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies and Foreign Minister Stubb attended the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal for strategy talks on the Afghan war.

Much the same situation obtains in Sweden [19], whose parliament last month extended the nation’s military deployment in Afghanistan and raised the troop ceiling from 500 to 855.

In fact what Al Burke at his Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO website [20] has assiduously argued and struggled against for years, the surreptitious accession of Sweden to NATO, has been proceeding steadily. A recent survey showed support for NATO membership more than doubling from 17 percent in 2005 to 35 percent in 2009. [21]

Last month Swedish Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors stated that “capital investments in defense will prioritize weapon procurement and infrastructure improvements to strengthen the military’s air and naval capability in the High North.”

He added that “Sweden intends to maintain 100 Gripen C/D combat and reconnaissance aircraft, a capability that is at least twice as large as its Nordic neighbors Finland, Norway and Denmark….Investme nts also are planned to strengthen Sweden’s conventional submarine fleet in 2011-2014 to ensure security in the High North.” [22] The ongoing program to modernize the country’s submarine fleet alone will cost $1.6 billion.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt stated at the Nordic Council meeting last November that “better Nordic-Baltic cooperation will strengthen the region’s position within the European Union and globally, and facilitate joint participation in peacekeeping. “

In his own words: “This region of Europe has everything to gain from a closer cooperation in defense between the Nordic countries and its Baltic neighbors. There are real issues, such as Arctic security, where such a cooperation will be advantageous. ” [23]

The meeting also endorsed all its eight members (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Aland Islands) joining the European Union Nordic Battle Group this year. The Nordic Battle Group currently consists of 1,600 troops from Sweden, 250 from Finland, 150 from Ireland and 100 from both Estonia and Norway. The last-named is not a member of the EU but is a NATO member state.

The Nordic contingent is one of 18 EU battlegroups which achieved full operational capacity on January 1, 2007 and are linked to NATO through the 1999 Berlin Plus agreement, “a comprehensive package of agreements between NATO and EU” which includes the provision of “NATO assets and capabilities” for EU missions. [24]

The Nordic Battle Group, which is “on stand-by for six months for deployment at five days’ notice to trouble spots around the world,” [25] has its headquarters in Sweden.

Last month the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania met to “discuss defence cooperation among the Baltic States and relevant issues of NATO and regional cooperation with the Nordic countries.” They also deliberated over “developing joint air forces, special operations forces and energy security projects” and “the need to continue to develop and strengthen cooperation with the Nordic countries.”

“The ministers discussed the possibilities of improving conditions for the NATO contingents in the Baltic air space to ensure that this mission would involve more and more NATO countries.” [26] The reference is to the seven-year-old NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, subsumed under NATO Quick Reaction Alert and until the first of the year composed of U.S. F-15C Eagle fighters.

This month several high-level NATO officials travelled to Lithuania for the opening of a new Energy Security Centre in the capital. The facility, which “will contribute to international initiatives with a special emphasis on cooperation with NATO,” is to graduate to the level of a NATO Centre of Excellence like the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence established in nearby Estonia in 2008. [27]

The Baltic-Scandinavian region, especially the Arctic at its northernmost extreme, is the last spot on Earth where alleged threats from Iran, North Korea, al-Qaeda and pirates can be invoked to justify unprecedented military expansion and integration. That the latter is occurring at a breakneck pace belies NATO’s and the EU’s claims concerning the rationale for collaborating with the world’s sole military superpower both at home and throughout the world.

Notes

1) Ananyan Artyom, “Mini-NATO” – Dream in Polar fog
Voice of Russia, January 19, 2011
http://english. ruvr.ru/2011/ 01/19/40383377. html
2) Ibid
3) Analys Norden, December 15, 2010
4) EUobserver, December 6, 2010
5) Ibid
6) Analys Norden, March 11, 2010
7) Analys Norden, December 12, 2010
8) Defense News, November 15, 2010
9) Ibid
10) Norwegian Ministry of Defence, November 12, 2010
11) Voice of Russia, January 19, 2011
http://english. ruvr.ru/2011/ 01/19/40383377. html
12) Ilya Kramnik, Northern NATO: Tracking polar bears and Russians?
Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 21, 2011
http://en.rian. ru/analysis/ 20110121/ 162238403. html
13) House of Commons, November 8, 2010
http://www.publicat ions.parliament. uk/pa/cm201011/ cmhansrd/ cm101108/ debtext/101108- 0001.htm
14) NATO’s, Pentagon’s New Strategic Battleground: The Arctic
Stop NATO, February 2, 2009
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com/2009/ 08/26/natos- pentagons- new-strategic- battleground- the-arctic
15) Canada Opens Arctic To NATO, Plans Massive Weapons Buildup
Stop NATO, August 29, 2010
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com/2010/ 08/29/canada- opens-arctic- to-nato-plans- massive-weapons- buildup
16) Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
Stop NATO, July 26, 2009
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com/2009/ 09/01/afghan- war-nato- trains-finland- sweden-for- conflict- with-russia
17) Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO’s War Plans For The High North
Stop NATO, June 14, 2009
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com/2009/ 08/31/scandinavi a-and-the- baltic-sea- natos-war- plans-for- the-high- north
18) Finnish Broadcasting Company, June 14, 2010
19) Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden
Stop NATO, August 25, 2010
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com/2010/ 08/25/2380
20) Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO
http://www.stoppana to.se/english/ guides.htm
….
End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe
Stop NATO, April 10, 2009
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com/2009/ 08/28/end- of-scandinavian- neutrality- natos-militariza tion-of-europe
21) NATO’S ‘Open Door’
Next Round of Enlargement May Turn North
Defense News, November 8, 2010
22) Sweden To Boost High North Air, Naval Defenses
Defense News, December 2, 2010
23) Defense News, November 15, 2011
24) Berlin Plus agreement
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Command Europe
http://www.nato. int/shape/ news/2003/ shape_eu/ se030822a. htm
25) RTE News, September 14, 2010
26) Baltic Course, December 17, 2010
27) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, January 14, 2011

As of Wednesday we have seen the euro rise 7 straight days, which caused the USDX to fall to 78.14, this in spite of having 10-year rates in Spain, Portugal and Ireland rising 3 bps.

Both food and energy prices have risen at double-digit rates. This is an inflation reflection of 1979-80, 1996 and 2008. In the 1979 and 1980 and in the 2008 period our inflation gauge measured real inflation of 14-1/4%. Both occurred in recessions similar to today’s inflationary depression.

Today’s energy prices will reflect a loss in buying power of more than $60 billion in the US alone. Higher grain and meat prices will add $40 billion to total, a loss in buying power of $100 billion. By the looks of it costs and inflation will rise further causing further cuts in GDP consumption. These costs will affect 70% of the stimulus and QE2. That means very little consumption gains and stagnant unemployment.

The Consumer Sentiment Index fell from 74.5 in December to 72.7 in January, which does not instill confidence in the economy. Current conditions fell from 85.3 to 79.8, a 3-month low. Large household goods purchases fell to 129 from 140. The auto purchase outlook was fair to poor as well.

Real wages based on a phony 1.2% CPI, fell 0.4% when in reality the loss in buying power was much higher. Every indicator is in the minus column. This is reflected in income expectations for the year that fell from 125 to 116. Real expectations dropped from 64 to 55, the lowest level in almost 60 years. There is no recovery and there will be no recovery. The numbers are staring you right in your face. 2011 will be lucky to see 2% to 2-1/4% growth, as government spends $862 billion on pork and the Fed buys $1.6 trillion in Treasuries, Agencies and toxic waste.

We have two economic and financial Americas, one of poverty and advancing poverty and one of sumptuous wealth. The top 20% own 93% of financial assets, which could be the seeds of upheaval. The average family is one or two weeks away from starvation and debt collapse. How do you make up the difference working 34.3 hours a week as gasoline rises from $2.50 to $3.50 a gallon and the price of food advances 50%? If you do not own gold and silver related assets to offset these increases you are just plain screwed. If QE2 isn’t translating into recovery then QE3 is fast on the way. It will be kicked off later this year or in 2012. It won’t work either. Throwing money at a problem never has a positive desired result. Even though other nations have problems the dollar will remain under pressure. The gauge should not be the USDX. It should be every currency versus gold and silver, which are the only meaningful yardsticks. For two years gold and silver have been propelled by a flight to quality. A primary fight between gold and the dollar, which obviously gold has won hands down and will continue to do so. Inflation hasn’t even entered the equation yet, but it will this year and next. That will cause gold and silver to roar to the upside along with gold and silver shares. The elitists who control government are about to lose another battle and in the end the war against gold and silver.

Since 2000, when we began recommending gold and silver related assets after having exited the stock market in early April, the market is down about 80% versus gold. That means the only reliable guide to value is gold, not the dollar. The dollar has dropped from 13.80 Mexican pesos to 12.00 in a year. Mexico is considered a second world nation and its currency is appreciating versus the dollar. That is becoming typical and will continue to be so. The Mexican economy will grow 4% in 2011, and will have 4% inflation, far better results than in the US, and Mexico has not stimulated its economy. Not only do we have the dollar falling 20% versus gold annually, but also we have the dollar falling versus inferior currencies. That means creditors of US Treasuries are receiving a negative return of over 6%. What can they be thinking of? This is a form of default. Even with these conditions the stock market reflected by the Dow will probably trade between 10,000 and 13,500, while gold and silver again gain a real 20% plus, year after year, as long as budget deficits climb.

It is almost as though the Fed, the White House and the House and Senate had planned to do just about everything wrong. All we hear from the illegal alien who is President is that we must have shared sacrifice. That is why we have no win wars to keep the economy going and government loots social Security and Medicare. Have no fear the double dip is on the way even though it spends 60% more than incoming revenues. Neither party has any intention of changing this situation. This year we will experience a decline in all personal purchase categories contrary to what the Fed and the Treasury would like. That means revenues will fall again and debt will increase.

Investors are not only bypassing municipals, but Treasuries and agency securities as well. In funds there has been nine straight weeks of redemptions of $16.5 billion of municipals that should have been liquidated three years ago at much higher prices. That is when we recommended selling.

Inflation is rising in spite of the government’s bogus statistics. How do you reconcile CPI at 1.2% and PPI at 13-1/2%? Price increases are coming from all sectors. That means profit margins are going to be reduced and sales are going to fall. The bedrock of the economy consumption will fall, which is the exact opposite of what the Fed and the administration want. Major inflation is underway. In 2012 we will slip into QE3 and the chance for hyperinflation is excellent. We all know what happens after that – deflationary depression.

The financial and economic situation continues to deteriorate in the euro zone. Both Greece and Ireland stand at the edge of the abyss. Unbeknownst to most the Federal Reserve started pouring funds into Irish banks in 2008 to stabilize the system. AIB, Anglo Irish Bank, borrowed $3.3 billion in the summer of 2009, which was the largest loan. The ECB has provided $175 billion in direct support, which forced the ECB to recapitalize.

Just last month the Irish government via the Irish Central Bank arbitrarily injected billions of euros into its economy without collateralization.

In parallel in part the Irish bailout is being funded via retirement savings, which has not been approved by the Irish parliament. A spring election is looming and a vote may not come until then and there is a possibility that Fianna Fail, the party in power since 1987, will not succeed. The No Confidence votes will prevail as the current PM refuses to step down. That means ratification of current policy will fail.

In this process the central bank has printed up about 25% of GDP in euros and deposited them in the banks. This is uncollateralized by bonds and will prove to be very inflationary, if not hyperinflationary. This euro increase has not gone unnoticed, particularly in Germany. If you remember for years Germans have refused to accept euros printed in other euro zone countries. It is not going to take long for Germany to react. They won’t and can’t accept Irish euros and that should lead to a crisis in the euro zone as well as in the EU. We are about to discover that all euros are not equal and that Germany will not be held hostage by a group of euro-elitists. What is to stop Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Italy from doing the same thing?  This has to put downward pressure on the euro. This may be why the euro has been allowed to appreciate recently to offset the coming weakness in the euro caused by Ireland’s euro printing.

It should also be noted that Greece has asked for extended loan maturities. That could lead to interest only loans and eventually default.

Both Ireland and Greece and the others are fraught with pitfalls for mainly Germany and the other solvent euro zone members. This is why Germany is discussing, behind closed doors, leaving the euro zone and reintroducing the D-Mark. We believe that will happen and in the process they will leave the EU as well.

The Irish story is huge yet it is virtually out of the news. Great damage is being done to the euro, but for that matter no currency is safe. The only safe havens are gold and silver related assets.

In Ireland the situation worsens as PM Brian Cowen, who sold Ireland out to the elitist bankers, announces an earlier-than-expected general election on Friday, March 11, 2011. Cowen has been bombed in the polls since the $114 billion bank bailout, which will bring about his political demise. It will also spell the end of the reign of Fianna Fail, and the reemergence of Fine Gael. It’s another fine mess the compromisers have gotten Ireland into. Like in so many countries politicians have been bought from all parties and that has created a total disconnect between the leadership of the parties and their constituents.

            The nation’s top credit card issuers said the number of accounts that slipped into default fell to the lowest point of 2010 in December, and signs point to continued improvement.       Five of the six biggest card issuers posted their lowest rates for charge-offs, or accounts written off as uncollectible.

            While the rates of balances that companies wrote off remained high by historical standards, they fell consistently throughout the year.

            Importantly, rates for payments late by 30 days or more also reached lows. That figure, known as the delinquency rate, is considered an indicator of what’s to come, which means charge-offs can be expected to keep falling through the first few months 2011.

            The November TIC data shows China’s Treasury holdings decline $11.2B.  UK buying surged a surreal $34.2B.  The mysterious UK buying continues.  Is it the Fed or China?

Dictadura y Neo-liberalismo: El levantamiento popular tunecino

January 22nd, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Diciembre del 2010 vio el principio de un hito en el Mundo árabe. Las protestas en Túnez empezaron debido a una falta de libertad, inflación, desempleo, y una caída en los sueldos. Ello podría llevar a un nuevo modelo en el Mundo árabe.

Los líderes impuestos del Mundo árabe han tomado aviso del levantamiento popular de Túnez que esta no es una revolución plena.

El levantamiento popular en Túnez ha enviado escalofríos fríos a las espinas de los gobernantes árabes y les ha hecho temer por la continuación de sus propios reinos impopulares. Los remanentes del viejo régimen también están trabajando para incorporarse en la formación de un nuevo gobierno.

 

Un Levantamiento árabe Contra la Pareja de la mano-con-mano de Dictadura y Neo-liberalismo

El levantamiento popular tunecino es en parte una respuesta contra el vicioso estado policíal en Túnez dirigido por el dictador Zine Al-Abidine Bin Ali.

En parte, el levantamiento tunecino también es una respuesta al modelo neo-liberal horroroso de desarrollo económico que fue impuesto por Bin Ali en Túnez.

En esto vista, EEUU y la EU eran los bienhechores primarios de las ásperas medidas económicas impuestas en Túnez por Bin Ali.

Hasta el 2011, Túnez ha desfilado de forma consistente y ha sido aclamado como un estado ideal y como modelo de éxito y desarrollo por EEUU, la EU, el Banco Mundial, y el Fondo Monetario Internacional, entre otros.

Nunca alguna vez han sido criticados las violaciones de derechos humanos, los asesinatos, y la represión en Túnez por cualquiera de estos cuerpos o sus oficiales. Hasta después que huyó Bin Ali (14 de enero de 2010), los medios de comunicación principales en América del Norte, Europa Occidental, Australia, y el Mundo árabe no han mencionado nada sobre la represión brutal en Túnez. Inversamente, los medios de comunicación principales han lavados la mayoría de los crímenes del régimen de Bin Ali y en cambio han hablado sobre Túnez como una historia de éxito.

El Guardian, después que Bin Ali huyó a Arabia Saudita desde Túnez, dio una apreciación global del tipo de represión que Bin Ali dirigió contra los tunecinos:

La confusión reinó. Por primera vez en el mundo árabe, un pueblo había echado un líder tomando espontánea y apaciblemente la calle.

Pero aunque Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali ha huido, los duros de matar de su brutal fuerza policial no. Durante el día los taxi amarillos cargados al azar de milicia fieles al líder echado tenían cuidado a través de la capital y algunos suburbios y disparando en el aire al azar. Las bandas armadas irrumpieron en casas y los saquearon, o dispararon tiros en la calle.En la mañana temprana, después del queda que cierra a Tunes por la noche, algunos residentes se aventuraron fuera por café a los pocos cafés que estaban abiertos, a menudo a la sombra de tanques posicionados en intersecciones,. Después, la tensión corrió alta.

Para la hora de comer, un depósito de cadáveres del hospital en Túnez había registrado 13 muertos y había incluido a cinco policías.

“Esto se esta haciendo por los viejos verdugos de Ben Ali, ellos tienen armas, ellos quieren crear caos,” dijo un activista de un partido de oposición.

En áreas residenciales a través del país, los localas formaron grupos vigilantes para defenderse contra las bandas que ellos temieron fueran lideradas por la policía de Ben Ali. En La Marsa, un suburbio clase medio al norte, las calles fueron obstruidas por viejos pedazos de puertas rotas, ollas de plantas, latas de agua, ladrillos y tablas pavimentando, para detener automóviles que aceleran a través para manejarse por tiroteos o casas que se saquean.

Omar, 18, un bien-vestido ex sexto quién quiso ir a la universidad de arte, había estado resistiendo a la guardia hasta las 3am como parte de un grupo apresuradamente-formado.

“Había 30 de nosotros, incluyendo chicos de escuela y mi papá. Nosotros nos armamos con garrotes y cualquier cosa que nosotros podríamos encontrar, y llevábamos brazaletes blancos para que el ejército supiera quiénes éramos nosotros.”

Como él estaba caminando y hablando fuera de un centro de tiendas inteligente protegido por un tanque, un soldado lo advirtió de moverse, como allí se informaba de un taxi que merodeaba a través del área conteniendo pistoleros que disparaban dese sus ventanas.

“Nosotros nunca perdonaremos Ben Ali por desatar su milicia en el país,” dijo una señora mayor. “Más que la corrupción de su régimen, esto es lo que nosotros nunca quisimos, en la vida lo perdonaremos.”

Entretanto, el pleno horror de la represión de más de cuatro semanas de demostraciones está empezando a surgir. Los grupos de derechos humanos estiman por lo menos 150-200 muertes desde el 17 diciembre. En rondas al azar en áreas rurales pobres, se disparó a los jóvenes en la cabeza y se los descargó lejos de la casa para que no pudieran identificarse los cuerpos. La policía también violó a las mujeres en sus casas en vecindarios pobres y alrededor de Kasserine en el interior rural.

Sihem Bensedrine, la cabeza del Consejo Nacional para Libertades Civiles, dijo:

“Éstas eran al azar, una clase de represalia contra las personas. En áreas pobres, mujeres que no tenían nada que ver con nada, fueron violadas delante de sus familias. Las armas detuvieron a los hombres; las mujeres se violaron delante de ellos.”

Se informó un puñado de casos en Kasserine y Thala lunes pasado. La violación se usó a menudo como una técnica de tortura bajo el régimen; las mujeres de la oposición informan ellas fueron violadas en el sótano del ministerio del interior, como también lo eran los hombres.

Los abogados de derechos también estaban recogiendo información sobre aquéllos asesinados y descargados lejos de sus pueblos, tirados en tierras de cementerio, o descargados al lado del camino o fuera de los hospitales. Se creía que estos tiroteos habían tenido lugar en los últimos diez días.

“Muchos estos cuerpos serán identificados todavía; ellos se descargaron intencionalmente lejos de sus casas. Las familias piensan que sus jóvenes han sido arrestados. Ellos no saben que ellos nunca están regresarán,” dijo Bensedrine, que había estado golpeada y forzada al destierro antes de volver en los recientes días. Usted tiene que entender que bajo Ben Ali, era un régimen de tortura, con palizas, acoso e intimidación pero no necesariamente matanza en masa. Las últimas cuatro semanas han sido diferentes; es una matanza, es algo más.”

Ahlem Belhadj, psiquiatra y el activista de los derechos de mujeres, dijo que las personas se sintieron robadas de alegría de la salida de Ben Ali por el caos que había sucedido. Ella dijo el movimiento de protesta espontáneo – y el estudiante desempleado que empezó incendiándose – mostró la desesperación de una población que se sintió reprimida, humillada, sin oportunidad de trabajo o perspectivas después de 23 años de despotismo.

“Nosotros nos habíamos vuelto una nación de huelguistas de hambre; no había ningún otro medios político o social de disenso. “Entonces, para la gente incendiarse, era el extremo: mostró había tal miedo del ‘otro’, el régimen, que las personas pudieran volver sólo la agresión sobre ellos. Era la autodestrucción como una manera de luchar.”

Khelil Ezzaouia, cirujano ortopédico y figura del sindicato fue por un puesto en el gobierno interino, esperó que el caos se pondría bajo control, y eso comisiona los abusos de derechos, reforma política y corrupción. Él dijo:

“Habrá un gobierno de transición temporal para mostrar que la página de Ben Ali ha sido cerrada, y mandar una señal fuerte para tranquilizar la población.”

En radio estatal nacional, una herramienta de poder del régimen hasta hace días, DJs habló libremente por primera vez, pero tenía que sentir que la alegría de la salida de un dictador había sido templada por un miedo de los ataques de la milicia.

“La nuestra es una felicidad difícil,” dijo suspirando a un presentador, antes de poner otra  canción de resistencia de 1960. [1]

¿Por qué el silencio de EEUU, Francia, la EU, y los dictadores árabes?

Mientras EEUU y sus aliados también eran rápidos para etiquetar y aclamar la Revolución del Cedro en Líbano, la Revolución Naranja en Ucrania, la Revolución Rosa en Georgia, la Revolución del Tulipán en Kirguizstán, la Revolución Twitter en Moldova, y la Revolución Verde en Irán, ellos no hicieron lo mismo respecto a las protestas populares tunecinas.

Cuando había tumulto de elecciones en Venezuela y en Irán, EEUU y la EU eran rápidos en hacer declaraciones sobre democracia y criticar a Caracas y Teherán. Todavía, las mismas normas no se aplicaron respecto a las elecciones tunecinas 2009  y las protestas que empezaron en diciembre de 2010 en Túnez.

Los franceses, EEUU, la Casa de Saud, e Israel todos han sidos instrumentales sosteniendo la la dictadura de Bin Ali. Bin Ali en realidad sirvió los intereses de EEUU y sus aliados.

Los “consejeros” americanos y franceses llamarían los tiros para Túnez, sobre todo en los campos financieros, de inteligencia, seguridad, y militares.

EEUU, Francia, y EU tampoco tenían problema con el profundamente arraigado nivel de corrupción y nepotismo en Túnez bajo Bin Ali. Los gobiernos americanos y franceses, así como Israel, ha sido cómplices en la represión del pueblo tunecino y la represión de la demanda tunecina por su libertad. Esto es por qué hay un pozo de enojo tunecino hacia EEUU, Francia, e Israel.

Protestas frente a las embajadas americanas y francesas son una demostración del conocimiento de las personas tunecinas sobre el rol americano y francés oprimiendo su libertad. La Casa Blanca y el Departamento de Estado americano sólo hicieron declaraciones en beneficio de Bin Ali.

La Secretaria americana de Estado Hillary Clinton, dijo el Canal de Noticias Al-Arabiya que el gobierno americano estaba “no tomando partido” respecto a Bin Ali y su represión brutal de los manifestantes civiles desarmados exigiendo libertad. EEUU esperó meramente hasta que Bin Ali huyó para igualar para reconocer los derechos del pueblo tunecino. Haciendo realmente lo opuesto durante los años, el gobierno americano y sus funcionarios han hecho continuamente declaraciones de apoyo para Bin Ali, como es de costumbre su apoyo a cualquier dictador que se somete a intereses económicos americanos.

La Casa de Saud que controla una cantidad sustancial de medios de comunicación árabes por propiedad personal o lazos de familia usaría toda su influencia para desacreditar las protestas populares tunecinas en un esfuerzo para manipular la opinión pública árabe en favor del régimen dictatorial de Bin Ali. Después, cuando estaba claro que no había esperanza por la continuación del gobierno de Bin Ali, la Casa de Saud invitaría al dictador tunecino a Arabia Saudita.

 

El viejo amo Colonial: París ofrece ayudar a Bin Ali a aplastar al pueblo tunecino

Antes que se volviera obvio que el régimen de Bin Ali iba a derrumbarse, Francia quiso ayudar a aplastar las demandas populares tunecinas por la libertad. El Ministro de Defensa francés, Michéle Alliot-Marie, mintió después a través de sus dientes a la oferta de días antes. El Guardian escribe crónicas esto:

El ministro extranjero francés, Michéle Alliot-Marie, hoy la defendió la polémica oferta de ayudar al presidente depuesto de Túnez a restaurar el orden días antes de que él fuera echado. Alliot-Marie había sido convocado para explicar sus comentarios, hechos la semana pasada, al la comisión de los asuntos extranjera de Assemblée Nationale.

El ministro de gabinete había ofrecido compartir el entrenamiento de la fuerza seguridad francesa “reconocida a lo largo del mundo” para ayudar al control el levantamiento. Desde que Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali huyó Túnez el viernes, Francia ha intentado distanciarse del líder anterior, se le niega al destierro y ordena un bloqueo sobre la propiedad de su familia y el dinero que tiene en Francia.

Hoy, Alliot-Marie se defendió de las llamadas de oposición para su renuncia y dijo a los parlamentarios que Francia, junto con otros países, no había “no visto los eventos por venir.”

“Enfrentémoslo, nosotros fuimos todos – políticos, diplomáticos, investigadores, periodistas – tomado por sorpresa por la revolución del jazmín,” dijo Alliot-Marie.

Ella dijo que su oferta había sido “falseada” y se había apuntado a ayudar a las personas tunecinas y no se había sostenido la represión.

“Yo había pasado la noche en un aeroplano, y es posible que yo no me expresé bien,” ella dijo. “Yo empecé a dudar, pero después que yo re-leí mi propuesta para ver que era eso que realmente lo que yo pensé y no lo que era sido interpretando por ciertas personas.”

Ella agregó que ella estaba “escandalizada” por cómo sus comentarios habían sido torcidos. Antes, había aparecido que Alliot-Marie estaba siendo aislada por el Palacio de Elisée después que un consejero del presidente, Nicolas Sarkozy, sugerió que ella estaba expresando “su propio análisis de la situación.” [2]

En realidad, París envió ayuda en secreto a Bin Ali. EEUU e Israel también enviaron equipo vestido y armas anti alboroto.

 

El Mossad e Israel en Túnez

Respecto a los intereses de Tel Aviv, Túnez ha sido una zona abierta para el trabajo de inteligencia israelí, matanzas, y recolección de datos contra los activistas palestinos y árabes.

Israel ha ayudado en la represión del disenso democrático en Túnez para mantener a Bin Ali en el poder. Ha sido una parte de la iniciativa estratégica de Israel impedir surgir a cualquier estado democrático en el Mundo árabe. Lo mismo puede decirse sobre EEUU y la EU respecto a prevenir la emergencia de una real democracia árabe.

El levantamiento de tunecino realmente le obligaría al gobierno israelita a que hiciera un “rescate de la emergencia” a los llamados “visitantes” israelíes en Túnez:

Un grupo de 20 israelíes fue rescatado el sábado por la tarde en Túnez, donde un levantamiento violento ha tenido éxito derrocando al gobierno.

La misión complicada fue orquestada por varios autoridades israelitas, incluso el Ministerio Extranjero. Los turistas se transfirieron primero a un tercer país, de donde estaban para continuar a Israel en avión. [3]

Estos llamados “visitantes” israelíes que el gobierno israelí evacuaría de Túnez eran agentes de Mossad.

Túnez todavía en la encrucijada

El modelo neo-liberal ha traído pobreza y desesperación a Túnez. Estos hechos han sido ignorados por EEUU, Francia, y aquéllos que encomendaron y loaron las medidas económicas tunecinas. Una vez más, los gobiernos americanos y franceses también han expuesto su desprecio por la democracia genuina. Cualquier charla por París y EEUU sobre respetar y querer al pueblo tunecino es meramente valentía de dos-caras.

Las llamadas por la democracia y las elecciones justas sólo fueron hechas por el EEUU y Francia después que Bin Ali huyó de Túnez. Si había alguna sinceridad en las llamadas americanas y francesas requiendo libre determinación árabe entonces ellos extenderían estas llamadas a Arabia Saudita, los Emiratos árabes Unidos, Bahrain, Marruecos, Egipto, Libia, Jordania, y Yemen. Más allá del Mundo árabe, ellos extenderían estas llamadas a los países como Afganistán guarnecido por OTAN.

Los medios de comunicación principales también están empezando simplemente a meterse con los eventos en Túnez, pero con un enfoque estrecho que ignora el trabajo de Bin Ali y sus camaradas como hombres de golpe económico para EU y América.

A pesar del hecho que no tiene ninguna conexión a WikiLeaks y el hecho que no es a esto una revolución lleno-golpe, la revuelta en Túnez también ha empezado a ser llamada como una “Revolución de WikiLeaks.”

Túnez no es todavía libre. El gobierno tunecino de unidad nacional es dominado e incluye muchos de los mismos personajes del régimen de Bin Ali.

El levantamiento todavía no se ha convertido en una revolución.

EEUU, Francia, la EU, la Casa de Saud, los dictadores árabes, e Israel están todos conspirando para asegurar que un nuevo gobierno tunecino que servirá sus intereses tomará el control del viejo régimen de tunecino. La estructura que mantuvo a Bin Ali en su lugar todavía existe y los intereses extranjeros que apoyaron su gobierno todavía tienen influencia en Túnez. Ellos pueden manejarse para retener el poder.

América y Francia no han comisado sus intereses económicos en Túnez. Ni el modelo neo-liberal se ha declarado nulo y vacío en Túnez. Para mantener la continuación de contratos franceses en Túnez, el gobierno francés no ofreció a Bin Ali el santuario en Francia, a pesar del hecho que él era un aliado fiel de París hasta el fin de su reino.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya es Investigador Asociado al Centro de Investigación sobre la Globalización/Centre for Research on Globalization (CGR, por sus siglas en inglés). 
Artículo original, publicado el 19 de enero de 2011.
Texto original: Dictatorship and Neo-Liberalism: The Tunisian People’s Uprising

NOTAS

[1] Angelique Chrisafis, “Confusion, fear and horror in Tunisia as old regime’s militia carries on the fight,” The Guardian (Bretaña), 16 enero 2011.
[2] Kim Willsher, “French minister defends offer of security forces to Tunisia,” The Guardian (Bretaña), 18 enero 2011.
[3] Ronen Medzini, “20 Israelisrescued from Tunisia, ” Yedioth Ahronoth, 15 enero 2011.

Barack Obama: As Bad as Bush

January 22nd, 2011 by Mike Whitney

His enemies call him a tyrant and a dictator, but he is neither. Hugo Chavez is a tireless champion of the poor and a committed Christian socialist. The only difference between Chavez’s type of Christianity and Barack Obama’s, is that Chavez walks the walk.

For example, on Tuesday, Chavez used his powers under the new “enabling laws” to enact the “Law for Dignified Refuge” a presidential decree that mandates “dignified and humane” housing for all Venezuelans. The Venezuelan parliament approved the controversial (and temporary) enabling laws because the country faced an unprecedented housing crisis due to the massive floods in December.

More than 125,000 people lost their homes in the disaster requiring a speedy response from the government. Chavez swung into action immediately turning the presidential palace into a homeless shelter and initiating a campaign to construct permanent housing for the victims. Now he has pushed through landmark legislation that will legally require the government to help the homeless.

Contrast Chavez’s response to Obama’s during the BP oil spill, where BP was allowed to wreak havoc on the environment and destroy people’s livelihood without any consequences. In fact, Obama even provided cover for the oil giant by appearing in public relations “I feel your pain” photo-ops on a beach in Louisiana that were intended to divert public rage away from BP. So, now the fishing and shrimping industries are devastated, sensitive estuaries and ecosystems have been destroyed, the level of toxins in the bloodstreams of people living in the region have skyrocketed and–worst of all–BP has gotten off Scot-free. Thanks, Barack.

Now imagine what would have happened if Chavez had been in charge. BP’s stateside operations would have been shut down, their assets would have been seized, and Tony Hayward and his buddies would have been thrown in the hoosegow. Got a problem with that?

Last week, while Obama was singing the praises of “deregulation” on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal (“.. the rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”) and first lady, Michelle Obama was hawking “healthy foods” for food behemoth Walmart in the national media, Chavez was busy transforming shelters into “institutions of the state” to make sure that people had a place to stay while they get back on their feet again.

The new law stipulates that these people be provided with food and medical assistance (Venezuela has universal health care) as well as “scholarships, pensions and special allotments of resources” depending on their needs.

The new state facilities that are being set up by Chavez will focus primarily on “the most vulnerable population; the children, adolescents, seniors, people with disabilities, and pregnant women.”

“It’s not a question of the government wanting to do this or not,” said Chavez. “It is now a legal obligation.” (venezuelanalysis.com)

Right on. And how has Washington reacted to Chavez’s emergency programs and new laws? Here’s an excerpt from a recent article by ex-pat Eva Golinger that sums it up pretty well:

“This week, (Venezuelan) opposition leaders will meet with their counterparts in Washington. They have already said their mission is to seek more aid to help remove President Chavez from power. Unfortunately, their undemocratic actions have already been welcomed in the US Capitol. Representative Connie Mack (R-FL), now head of the House Sub-Committte on Foreign Relations for the Western Hemisphere, announced on the first day of Congress that his one goal this year is to place Venezuela on the list of “state sponsors of terrorism”. And Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), now head of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has backed that objective, even going as far as to publicly state she would welcome the “assassination of Fidel Castro or any other repressive leader” such as Hugo Chavez.” (“Setting the Record Straight on Venezuela and Hugo Chavez”, Eva Golinger, Global Research)

Surprised? Don’t be. Any foreign leader who attempts to control his country’s resources, improve human rights, or distribute the nation’s wealth more equally among its people, is the de facto enemy of the United States. People thought that things might change under Obama, but they were wrong. He’s as bad as Bush.

2011: la crisi del capitalismo egemonico

January 22nd, 2011 by Jules Dufour

2010. Un anno in cui l’economia mondiale reale è stata gravemente colpita dalla crisi finanziaria. Le economie dei paesi ricchi sono state profondamente indebolite da elevati deficit di bilancio e pesanti debiti nazionali. Molti di essi si sono quindi trovati in una situazione che li ha obbligati a tagliare la spesa pubblica, mettendo in pericolo i programmi sociali. Nel febbraio 2010, un anno dopo l’analisi prospettica del Laboratorio europeo d’anticipazione politica (LEAP) sull’avvenire dell’economia mondiale, si è potuto costatare che “un tale processo è effettivamente in corso: Stati sul bordo della bancarotta, aumento inesorabile della disoccupazione, milioni di persone escluse dalla rete di protezione sociale, riduzione dei salari, soppressione di servizi pubblici, indebolimento del sistema di governance globale (fallimento del vertice di Copenaghen, crescenti contrasti Cina/Usa, ritorno del rischio di conflitto Iran/Israele/Usa, guerra monetaria globale, ecc.)” (LEAP, 2010). Secondo lo stesso rapporto, siamo tuttavia solo all’inizio di questa fase. L’aggravarsi della crisi sistemica globale sarà caratterizzata da un’accelerazione e/o un inasprimento delle cinque fondamentali tendenze negative seguenti:

“- L’esplosione dei deficit pubblici e la conseguente insolvenza del debito degli Stati;

- La collisione fatale del sistema bancario occidentale con l’aumento delle insolvenze e il muro dei debiti arrivati a scadenza;

- L’ineluttabile aumento dei tassi d’interesse;

- Il moltiplicarsi delle situazioni di tensione internazionale;

- La crescente insicurezza sociale”.

Nel Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin N°42, il LEAP ha scelto d’analizzare il “caso greco” perché è emblematico di ciò che ci ha riservato il 2010 e perché illustra perfettamente l’evoluzione dell’informazione sulla crisi mondiale, e cioè una “comunicazione di guerra” tra blocchi d’interesse sempre più conflittuali. Si tratta, infatti, di un “must” per riuscire a decifrare l’informazione mondiale dei mesi e degli anni che verranno, la quale sarà un vettore crescente d’operazioni manipolative. (LEAP, 2010)

I. Impoverimento generalizzato e aumento della fame

Questa situazione esercita ed eserciterà un impatto notevole sulle economie dei paesi poveri rendendoli ancora più vulnerabili ai flussi dei prezzi delle materie prime e alle manovre speculative del mercato mondiale. Secondo gli organismi delle Nazioni Uniti aumenterà l’impoverimento di milioni di persone e quindi il numero degli affamati e dei senza-tetto. Secondo la FAO, nel 2010 925 milioni di persone sono vittime di fame cronica, di cui 15 milioni nei paesi ricchi. Secondo la Croce Rossa, più di 827,6 milioni sono costretti a vivere in bidonville senza le minime condizioni sanitarie. (AFP- Ginevra, 2010) Secondo la Conferenza delle Nazioni Unite per il Commercio e lo Sviluppo (CNUCED) “negli ultimi quarant’anni il numero dei paesi molto poveri è raddoppiato passando da 25 nel 1971 a 49 nel 2010, e la stessa cosa è avvenuta per il numero delle persone al di sotto della soglia di povertà a partire dagli anni 80′”. (AFP- Ginevra, 2010) Nel rapporto 2010 sui 49 paesi meno sviluppati del (PMS), la CNUCED afferma che “il modello di sviluppo prevalso fino ad oggi per questi paesi è fallito e deve essere rivisto”. (AFP- Ginevra, 2010)

II. Catastrofi d’origine naturale e umana di grande ampiezza

A questa situazione inquietante, sia al Nord che al Sud, si sono aggiunte una serie di catastrofi d’origine naturale e umana di grande ampiezza. Secondo il gruppo assicurativo Swiss RE, le catastrofi hanno inciso pesantemente sull’economia mondiale nel 2010, per un ammontare di 222 miliardi di dollari, cioè il triplo rispetto al 2009. (AFP-Ginevra, 2010) Queste catastrofi sono state devastatrici per l’ambiente e per gli insediamenti umani: il terremoto ad Haiti in gennaio ha causato la morte di 225.000 persone e danneggiato una grande zona del territorio nazionale; il passaggio della tempesta Cinzia in febbraio ha devastato l’Europa dell’Est; nello stesso periodo un violento terremoto di magnitudo 8,8 ha colpito il Cile; l’esplosione della piattaforma Deepwater Horizon nel golfo del Messico nel mese di aprile ha causato la più grande marea nera nella storia degli Stati Uniti; in luglio delle inondazioni senza precedenti hanno sommerso territori immensi in Pakistan e in Cina. (AFP-Ginevra, 2010).

III. Spese militari in continuo aumento

Mentre il grido d’allarme delle organizzazioni internazionali denuncia senza sosta la povertà, la fame e la miseria, i paesi ricchi consacrano somme enormi per l’acquisto d’armamenti e per la preparazione della guerra. E’ possibile affermare che la crisi economica non ha toccato il settore della difesa. Le spese militari, infatti, non hanno smesso d’aumentare e le cifre mostrano che alle voci difesa e sicurezza sono previste somme aggiuntive per il 2011 rispetto al 2010. Nel bilancio americano la voce difesa mostra degli aumenti sostanziali. Nel bilancio nazionale americano la somma stanziata per la difesa era di 661 miliardi di dollari nel 2009 e quella prevista per il 2011 dovrebbe raggiungere i 749, 5 miliardi. Nel 2010, le spese americane per le operazioni militari sono state di 719,2 miliardi di dollari, di 125,9 miliardi per l’assistenza ai Veterani, di 9,9 miliardi per l’aiuto militare all’estero e di 41,2 miliardi per l’aiuto economico.

(http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/defense_budget_2010_3.html)

I contratti d’acquisto di nuovi equipaggiamenti da combattimento sono saliti alle stelle. Degli accordi d’acquisto d’aerei da caccia sono stati firmati con le principali industrie militari e, in particolare, con la compagnia Lockeed Martin per la costruzione dell’aereo da caccia F-35. Secondo la banca dati del SIPRI, nel 2009 le spese militari mondiali hanno raggiunto i 1531 miliardi di dollari, di cui più della metà effettuate dagli Stati Uniti (figure 1, 2 e 3). Secondo i dati di un rapporto SIPRI, ripreso da I. Gedilaghine, nel 2009 le spese militari mondiali hanno raggiunto dei nuovi record senza subire l’effetto della crisi, grazie soprattutto agli Stati Uniti, il cui cambio d’amministrazione non ha comunque modificato la tendenza. Nell’anno passato, il mondo ha stanziato 1531 miliardi di dollari (1244 miliardi d’euro) per il settore militare, cioè un aumento del 5,9% rispetto al 2008 e del 49% rispetto al 2000, scrive l’Istituto internazionale di ricerca per la pace di Stoccolma (SIPRI). E’ possibile costatare che nulla viene trascurato per l’organizzazione della guerra, la sicurezza e la sorveglianza delle riserve di risorse strategiche e delle infrastrutture produttive: da ciò dipende la prosperità dei potenti del pianeta.


[Spese militari mondiali 1988-2009. Fonte]

 


[Spese militari degli USA e del resto del mondo. Fonte]

 


[Spese militari nel 2009. Fonte]

 

IV. La visione del Laboratorio Europeo d’Anticipazione Politica. Europa 2020 LEAP 2011

Secondo il LEAP ci si sta muovendo verso una rottura del sistema economico e finanziario mondiale.

Qui di seguito riproduciamo per intero l’analisi del LEAP per il 2011. L’analisi rivela che nel corso dei prossimi mesi assisteremo a un progressivo deterioramento dell’economia americana con effetti devastanti inizialmente per più di 60 milioni d’americani e poi per tutti gli strati della società occidentale.

“Come anticipato dal LEAP/E2020 nel febbraio scorso nel GEAB n. 42, il secondo semestre 2010 è caratterizzato da un peggioramento brutale della crisi, accompagnato dalla fine dell’illusione d’una ripresa in cui credevano i dirigenti occidentali, i quali hanno ormai costatato le migliaia di miliardi inghiottiti dalle banche e i piani di “stimolo” economico senza efficacia.

I prossimi mesi sveleranno una realtà semplice, ma particolarmente dolorosa: l’economia occidentale, e quella americana in particolare, non è mai realmente uscita dalla recessione. I sobbalzi statistici registrati dall’estate 2009 sono stati solo una conseguenza passeggera della massiccia iniezione di liquidità in un sistema che è diventato fondamentalmente insolvibile agli occhi del consumatore americano.

Al centro della crisi sistemica globale fin dall’inizio, gli Stati Uniti dimostreranno nei prossimi mesi di trascinare nuovamente l’economia e la finanza mondiale nel “cuore delle tenebre”, poiché non riescono a uscire da questa “grande depressione USA”.

Considerando i tassi di crescita ridivenuti negativi e in previsione dei sobbalzi politici delle elezioni americane del novembre prossimo, il mondo dovrà affrontare “la grande rottura” del sistema economico e finanziario mondiale, il quale dagli anni 60′ è fondato sulla necessità che l’economia americana non si trovi mai in una recessione prolungata.

Ebbene, la prima metà del 2011 imporrà all’economia americana una cura d’austerità senza precedenti che provocherà nel pianeta un nuovo caos finanziario, monetario, economico e sociale.

I trimestri a venire saranno particolarmente pericolosi per il sistema economico e finanziario mondiale.

Nella recente riunione delle banche centrali mondiali a Jackson Hole nel Wyoming, il Direttore della Fed, Ben Bernanke, in modo assai diplomatico, ha fatto comunque passare un messaggio chiaro: nonostante la politica di rilancio dell’economia americana sia fallita, il resto del mondo deve continuare a finanziare il suo deficit, sperando che questo serva per evitare il collasso del sistema globale, oppure gli Stati Uniti monetizzeranno il loro debito trasformando in carta straccia l’insieme dei Dollari e dei Buoni del Tesoro americani sparsi nelle banche del mondo intero.

Come ogni potenza in crisi, gli Stati Uniti sono ormai costretti a usare le minacce, oltre che la pressione, per ottenere ciò che vogliono. Fino all’anno scorso, i dirigenti e i responsabili finanziari del mondo erano ben disposti a sostenere l’economia americana. Oggi le cose sono cambiate perché la rassicurazione di Washington si è dimostrata un’arroganza, fondata sulla pretesa d’aver capito la natura della crisi e di avere gli strumenti per dominarla. Al contrario, la crescita americana evapora trimestre dopo trimestre e tornerà negativa dalla fine del 2010; la disoccupazione non smette d’aumentare: nonostante la stabilità delle cifre ufficiali, in sei mesi più di due milioni d’americani sono usciti dal mercato del lavoro; il mercato immobiliare continua a mantenersi ad un livello molto basso e ricomincerà a scendere l’ultimo trimestre del 2010; partendo da queste condizioni, com’è facile immaginare, il consumatore USA resta e resterà un debitore inadempiente poiché la sua insolvibilità è aggravata da ogni americano su cinque che si trova senza lavoro.

Dietro queste considerazioni statistiche si nascondono due realtà che trasformeranno radicalmente il paesaggio politico, economico e sociale americano e mondiale nei prossimi mesi, quando emergeranno nella coscienza collettiva.

La collera popolare paralizzerà Washington da novembre 2010.

C’è un disagio popolare molto grave, quello di decine di milioni d’americani (più di sessanta milioni dipendono ormai da buoni alimentari) che non hanno più lavoro, più casa, più risparmi e che si chiedono come potranno sopravvivere negli anni a venire.” (Crise systémique globale)

Conclusioni

La popolazione mondiale raggiungerà, nel 2011, i sette miliardi d’abitanti. Poiché l’essenziale degli effettivi (più d’ottanta milioni di persone) si aggiunge ogni anno nei paesi in via di sviluppo, è lecito pensare che il tasso di vulnerabilità di quelle regioni continuerà a crescere causando più vittime e danni più importanti agli insediamenti umani. Secondo Hervé Domenach, Demografo, Direttore di Ricerca all’Istituto di Ricerca per lo Sviluppo, “circa il 95% dell’accrescimento demografico attuale del mondo riguarda i paesi non occidentali, e la proporzione dei loro effettivi nella popolazione mondiale, che era del 68% nel 1950, raggiungerebbe l’87% nel 2050. Se queste previsioni dovessero realizzarsi, assisteremmo a una formidabile redistribuzione della popolazione mondiale” (http://www.x-environnement.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51%3Asept-2007&catid=36%3Ajaune-rouge&Itemid=41&limitstart=3)

Questa situazione attirerà sempre più le forze del governo mondiale verso i paesi emergenti e i paesi dotati di risorse strategiche importanti. Il panorama geopolitico mondiale è destinato a cambiare e lo scenario che ci sembra prevedibile per il 2011, è quello segnato da un aumento delle tensioni fra stati, poiché più le economie occidentali scivoleranno nel baratro dei deficit di bilancio, più gli altri fattori di destabilizzazione agiranno sulla governance mondiale. La dottrina dell’intervento armato preventivo, promosso dagli Stati Uniti con la guerra mondiale contro il terrore, potrebbe essere applicata da potenze regionali, ma le prerogative delle grandi potenze trionferanno ancora a lungo, attizzando i luoghi caldi come la Corea del Nord, il Medio Oriente o il consenso creato dalla resistenza dei membri dell’ALBA.

Tra i fattori decisivi ci saranno la volontà di potenza della Russia e le strategie di conquista della Cina per le nuove fonti di materie prime e per i mercati finanziari ed economici emergenti.

E’ innegabile che le guerre d’invasione dell’Iraq e dell’Afghanistan siano giunte alla fine, essendo divenute ormai sempre più ingiustificabili dall’imperialismo. In Afghanistan, l’esercito nazionale rifondato e meglio equipaggiato per i combattimenti sostituirà le forze della coalizione. Si costituirà quindi un modus operandi “normale” con il sostegno militare ed economico delle potenze occidentali. L’Afghanistan si trasformerà in un grande alleato continentale per gli Stati Uniti e la Nato, assumendo un ruolo simile a quello giocato da Israele in Medio Oriente e dalla Colombia in America Latina.

All’orizzonte, è tuttavia possibile intravedere un lento ma inesorabile tramonto dell’Occidente, il quale sarà logicamente determinato dal progressivo indebolimento del suo peso demografico su scala mondiale. Per riuscire a mobilitare l’economia mondiale dietro i loro interessi egemonici, le grandi potenze dovranno creare situazioni in la posta in gioco è altissima. L’esplosione d’una guerra nucleare contro l?Iran e la Corea del Nord? Un altro 11 settembre? Un’invasione armata del Venezuela? Gli strateghi del Pentagono e della Casa Bianca non escluderanno nessuna opzione per salvaguardare gli interessi della prima potenza mondiale.

Jules Dufour, Ph.D., è presidente de l’Association canadienne pour les Nations Unies (ACNU) /Section Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, professore emerito all’Università del Québec a Chicoutimi, membro del circolo universale degli Ambasciatori della Pace, membro cavaliere de l’Ordre national del Québec. E’ ricercatore associato al CRM (Centre de recherche sur la Mondialisation).

Titolo originale: “2011. Crise du capitalisme hégémonique. Appauvrissement, faim et plus grande vulnérabilité des zones de vie”

Fonte: http://www.mondialisation.ca/
Link
28.12.2010

Traduzione per www.comedonchisciotte.org  a cura di MARIO SEI

Bibliografia

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AFP-GENÈVE. 2010. Un rapporto della Croce-Rossa Internazionale. Un miliardo di persone vivono in bidonvilles. Queste popolazioni sono le più vulnerabili alle catastrofi. Journal Le Devoir, le 22 septembre 2010, p. B7.

AFP-GENÈVE. 2010. Grido d’allarme della CNUCED. Il numero dei paesi molto poveri è raddoppiato in quarant’anni. Journal le Devoir, le 26 septembre 2010, p. A7.

AFP-GENÈVE. 2010. Le catastrofi sono costate 222 miliardi all’economia mondiale. Journal Le Devoir, le 1er décembre 2010, p. B5.

ARTHUS-BERTRAND, Yann. 2009. HOME. Déchiffrer. S’informer. Débattre. Comprendre. Agir. Paris, Mame. 2009. 190 pages.

DUFOUR, Jules. 2009. Una guerra mondiale in aiuto all’Impero americano. Montréal, Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation (CRM). Le 3 mars 2009. En ligne: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12533

DUFOUR, Jules. 2009. Il grande riarmo planetario. Montréal, Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation (CRM). Le 5 mai 2009. En ligne: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13162

ENGDAHL, J.F., 2010. La geopolitica dietro la guerra bidone degli Stati Uniti in Afghanistan. Montréal, Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation (CRM). Le 2 novembre 2009. En ligne: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15909

FAO. 2010. 925 milioni di persone vittime della fame cronica nel mondo. Malgrado un miglioramento, questo livello resta “inaccettabile”. Espace Presse. Le 14 octobre 2010. En ligne: http://www.fao.org/news/story/fr/item/45232/icode/

GEDILAGHINE, Igor. 2010. Le spese militari mondiali non conoscono né crisi né effetto Obama. AFP. France-Amérique. Journal français des Amériques. Le 1er juin 2010. En ligne: http://www.france-amerique.com/articles/2010/06/01/les_depenses_militaires_mondiales_ne_connaissent_ni_crise_ni_effet_obama.html

INTERNATIONAL LABOR OFFICE. 2010. Global Environmental Trends.January 2010. 82 pages.
En ligne: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/—emp_elm/—trends/documents/publication/wcms_120471.pdf

SHAH, Anup. 2010. World Military Spending. Global Issues.org. Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All. Le 7 juillet 2010. En ligne: http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending#WorldMilitarySpending

WIKEPÉDIA. 2010. Deepwater Horizon. En ligne: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon

Siti Internet

Crise systémique globale-Printemps 2011. 5 mai 2010: http://www.i-services.net/newsbox/151229-97380-1643-47311/crise-systemique-globale-printemps-2011.php

Laboratoire Européen d’Anticipation Politique/Europe2020 (Leap/E2020): http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap/Europe2020

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II

List of countries by military Expenditures. En ligne: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

US Defense Budget: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/defense_budget_2010_3.html

Worldometers – statistiques mondiales en temps réel: http://www.worldometers.info/fr/
Tante altre notizie su www.ariannaeditrice.it

Fact and Propaganda: Yugoslavia and The “Politics of Genocide”

January 22nd, 2011 by Stanko Stojiljkovic

Is it possible that the prevailing current usage of the word genocide is “an insult to the memory of the Nazi regime victims”? 

This incisive thought of Noam Chomsky was taken from the preface he wrote to an astonishing book titled “The Politics of Genocide” by Edward Herman and David Peterson, published in Belgrade in 2010 by “Vesna info”. 

Edward Herman is a professor emeritus teaching finance at the University of Pennsylvania and David Peterson is a free-lance journalist. What an unusual match, you might think at first. However, if you check the exhaustive list of references you will find out that they have worked on at least two more published books, both dedicated to the former Yugoslavia nad its disintegration. David Peterson is author of another dozen of published books, either alone or in cooperation with other authors.  

According to Noam Chomsky, the end of the Cold War “opened an era of the Holocaust denial”, in which the humanitarian bombing of Yugoslavia (read: Serbia) is far from being the last piece of the puzzle.  

According to “Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact and Propaganda”, written by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, in the period between 1945 and 2009 the USA organized “major” military interventions in as many as 29 countries. “Thanks to its dominant position and its global counter-revolutionary efforts, the US has been the key single instigator, organizer and provider of moral and material support for some of the heaviest bloodsheds that took place after the World War Two.  

The US officials, supported by the media and intellectuals close to the administration (“genocide intellectuals”), have mastered the skills of “crime management” used to draw attention of the public away from the violence instigated and endorsed by the leading global super-power and direct the public eye towards the violence perpetrated by the US enemies. In line with this the authors have come up with an unusual classification of the bloodbaths into four categories: constructive, benign, criminal and mythical. 

“The largest genocidal act undertaken in the last thirty years was the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, both in respect of the number of victims and in respect of full awareness of the impact of this policy among its creators”, reads the introductory section of the book. 

The New York Times revealed that “in the long run, Iraq has been pushed back into pre-industrial times, though it still suffers from post-industrial dependence on energy and technology”.  And Washington Post, quoting a reliable source, stated that “the bombs… were targeted at everything that was vital for survival of the country”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? 

Dennis Halliday, the leading UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, resigned issuing a statement that overall effects of the sanctions were comparable to that of a genocide. And Eleanor Robinson, lecturer at the Old Soul College in Oxford (England), added: ”You will have to go back in time as far as the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258 to find an example of pillage of comparable magnitude”. You can guess who was doing the pillage! 

Edward Herman and David Peterson have exposed the ill doings of politicians, intellectuals and reporters who used the word genocide in their reports on the most deadly world crisis since the end of the World War Two (5.4 million dead between 1998 and 2007 in DR Congo) only 17 times, while killing of 4,000 Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija was qualified as genocide as many as 323 times! 

George Robertson, British Defense Minister, admitted during the hearing before the Parliament: “Before Račak this year (24 March 1999), the KLA was responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the authorities of Yugoslavia”. The number of killings since 1998 was estimated at 2000, and 500 of these killings were attributed to Serbian forces.  

“During the civil wars in the wake of disintegration of the former SFR Yugoslavia in the nineties, the USA, Germany, NATO and EU supported national minorities which insisted on breaking away from the federal state and acted against the national group of Serbs who persisted in their efforts to save the former Yugoslavia. That is why the Western powers strongly supported first Croats and Slovenes, later Bosnian Muslims, and finally Kosovo Albanians,” explained Edward Herman and David Peterson, quoting a number of critically intoned works. 

We are also informed that the NATO forces supported, “even coordinated war operations, and as there were numerous cases of ethnic cleansing and ethnically motivated killings, it was only natural that expressions such as ethnic cleansing, massacre and genocide were applied primarily to the war acts of the Serbs”. Regarding the “Srebrenica massacre”, they say that there is no proof that Serbian forces killed anyone but “the Muslim men capable of army service”, taking care to evacuate all children, women and the elderly by buses.  

“If Račak was a contrived crime, and we believe that it was, than the war sold to the world on the strength of this crime was based on a lie, and therefore any claims that the war was waged on humanitarian grounds must be disputed, if for no other reason then on account of this fact alone,” said Edward Herman and David Peterson, referring to their own article “CNN: Sale of a NATO War on a Global Scale” from 2009.  

“The massacre of Račak” perfectly suited the needs of Bill Clinton’s administration and NATO and provided them with an excuse to launch the air attacks against Yugoslavia (Serbia), which had been prepared for a long time, soon after the failure of the negotiations in Rambouillet, “one of the greatest staged deceptions in recent history”. 

When Madeleine Albright was first informed that the attacks had been launched, she commented with delight: “The spring has come early to Kosovo this year”. 

This valuable book meticulously reveals the double standards applied to war acts in Darfur (Sudan), Rwanda, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Guatemala, Salvador, and so on.                 

I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”– Senator Frank Church (1975)

In recent years I have become more and more concerned with the interactions between three important and alarming trends in recent American history. The first is America’s increasing militarization, and above all its inclination, even obsession, to involve itself in needless and pernicious wars. The second, closely related, is the progressive shrinking of public politics and the rule of law as they are subordinated, even domestically, to the requirements of covert U.S. operations abroad.

The third, also closely related, is the important and increasingly deleterious impact on American history and the global extension of American power, of what I have called deep events. These events, like the JFK assassination, the Watergate break-in, or 9/11, which repeatedly involve law-breaking or violence, are mysterious to begin with, are embedded in ongoing covert processes, have consequences that enlarge covert government, and are subsequently covered up by systematic falsifications in media and internal government records.

One factor linking Dallas, Watergate, and 9/11, has been the involvement in all three deep events of personnel involved in America’s highest-level emergency planning, known since the 1980s as Continuity of Government (COG) planning, or more colloquially as “the Doomsday Project.” The implementation of COG plans on 9/11, or what I call Doomsday Power, was the culmination of three decades of such planning, and has resulted in the permanent militarization of the domestic United States, and the imposition at home of institutions and processes designed for domination abroad.

Writing about these deep events as they occurred over the decades, I have been interested in the interrelations among them. It is now possible to show how each was related both to those preceding it, and those which followed.

I would like in this essay to go further and propose a framework to analyze the on-going forces underlying all of the most important deep events, and how they have contributed to the political ascendance of what used to be called the military-industrial complex.  I hope to describe certain impersonal governing laws that determine the socio-dynamics of all large-scale societies (often called empires) that deploy their surplus of power to expand beyond their own borders and force their will on other peoples. This process of expansion generates predictable trends of behavior in the institutions of all such societies, and also in the individuals competing for advancement in those institutions. In America it has converted the military-industrial complex from a threat at the margins of the established civil order, to a pervasive force dominating that order.

  

President Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961 warned that “We must guard against the unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex.”

With this framework I hope to persuade readers that in some respects our recent history is simpler than it appears on the surface and in the media. Our society, by its very economic successes and consequent expansion, has been breeding impersonal forces both outside and within itself that are changing it from a bottom-up elective democracy into a top-down empire. And among these forces are those that produce deep events.

I am far from alone in seeing this degradation of America’s policies and political processes. A similar pattern, reflecting the degradation of earlier empires, was described at length by the late Chalmers Johnson:

The evidence is building up that in the decade following the end of the Cold War, the United States largely abandoned a reliance on diplomacy, economic aid, international law, and multilateral institutions in carrying out its foreign policies and resorted much of the time to bluster, military force, and financial manipulation.

But my analysis goes beyond that of Johnson, Kevin Phillips, Andrew Bacevich, and other analysts, in proposing that three major deep events – Dallas, Watergate, and 9/11 – were not just part of this degradation of American democracy, but played a significant role in shaping it.

As author Michael Lind has observed, there have for a long time been two prevailing and different political cultures in America, underlying political differences in the American public, and even dividing different sectors of the American government.  One culture is predominantly egalitarian and democratic, working for the legal consolidation of human rights both at home and abroad. The other, less recognized but with deep historical roots, prioritizes and teaches the use of repressive violence against both domestic and Third World populations to maintain “order.”

To some extent these two mindsets are found in all societies. They correspond to two opposing modes of power and governance that were defined by Hannah Arendt as “persuasion through arguments” versus “coercion by force.” Arendt, following Thucydides, traced these to the common Greek way of handling domestic affairs, which was persuasion (πείθειν) as well as the common way of handling foreign affairs, which was force and violence (βία).” 

  

Hannah Arendt

Writing amid the protests and riots of the 1960s, Arendt feared that traditional authority was at risk, threatened (in her eyes) by the contemporary “loss of tradition and of religion.” A half century later, I would argue that a far greater danger to social equilibrium comes now from those on the right who invoke authority in the name of tradition and religion. With America’s huge expansion into the enterprise of covertly dominating and exploiting the rest of the world, the open processes of persuasion, which have been America’s traditional ideal for handling domestic affairs, have increasingly tilted towards top-down violence.

This tilt towards violent or repressive power is defended rhetorically as a means to preserve social stability, but in fact it threatens it. As Kevin Phillips and others have demonstrated, empires built on violent or repressive power tend to rise and then fall, often with surprising rapidity.  Underlying the discussion in this essay is the thesis that repressive power is unstable, creating dialectical forces both within and outside its system. Externally, repressive power helps create its own enemies, as happened with Britain (in India), France (in Indochina) and the Netherlands (in Indonesia).

The Socio-dynamics of Repressive Power in Large-scale Societies

But more dangerous and destabilizing has been the conversion of those empires themselves, into hubristic mechanisms of war. The fall of Periclean Athens, which inspired Thucydides’ reflections, is a case in point. Thucydides described how Athens was undone by the overreaching greed (pleonexia) of its unnecessary Sicilian expedition, a folly presaging America’s follies in Vietnam and Iraq. Thucydides attributed the rise of this folly in the rapid change in Athens after the death of Pericles, and in particular to the rise of a rapacious oligarchy.  Paul Kennedy, Kevin Phillips, and Chalmers Johnson have described the recreation of this process in the Roman, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and British empires.  Its recurrence again in recent American history corroborates that there is a self-propelling dynamic of power that becomes repressive.

It is useful to be reminded of the historical division between two cultures in America, which both underlay and predated the Civil War. But these two cultures have evolved and been reinforced by many factors. For example urbanization in America’s South and West worked for most of the 20th century to meld the two cultures, but after about 1980 the increasing disparity of wealth in America tended to separate them to an extent recalling the Gilded Age of the 19th century.

More importantly, postwar U.S. history has seen the institutions of domestic self-government steadily displaced by an array of new institutions, like the CIA and Pentagon, adapted first to the repressive dominance and control of foreign populations abroad, and now increasingly dominant domestically. The manipulative ethos of this repressive bureaucracy promotes and corrupts those who, in order to be promoted, internalize the culture of repressive dominance into a mindset.

The egalitarian mindset is widely shared among Americans. But Washington today is securely in the hands of the global repressive dominance mindset, and a deepening of the military-industrial complex into what in my most recent book I call the American war machine. This transformation of America represents a major change in our society. When Eisenhower warned against the military-industrial complex in 1961 it was still a minority element in our political economy. Today it finances and dominates both parties, and indeed is now also financing threats to both parties from the right, as well as dominating our international policy. As a result, liberal Republicans are as scarce in the Republican Party today as Goldwater Republicans were scarce in that party back in 1960.

That change has been achieved partly by money, but partly as a result of deep events like the JFK assassination, the Watergate break-in, and 9/11. As a rule, each of these deep events is attributed by our government and media to marginal outsiders, like Lee Harvey Oswald, or the nineteen alleged plane hijackers.

I have long been skeptical of these “lone nut” explanations, but recently my skepticism has advanced to another level. My research over four decades points to the conclusion that each of these deep events

1) was carried out, at least in part, by individuals in and out of government who shared and sought to promote this repressive mindset;

2) enhanced the power of the repressive mindset within the U.S. government;

3) formed another stage in a continuous narrative whose result has been a transformation of America, into a social system dominated from above, rather than governed from below.

Please note that I am talking about the result of this continuous narrative, not about its purpose. In saying that these deep events have contributed collectively to a major change in American society, I am not attributing them all to a single manipulative “secret team.” Rather I see them as flowing from the workings of repressive power itself, which (as history has shown many times) transforms both societies with surplus power and also the individuals exercising that surplus power.

We are conditioned to think that the open institutions of American governance could not possibly provide a milieu for plots like 9/11 against public order. But since World War Two covert U.S. agencies like the CIA have helped create an alternative world where power is exercised with minimal oversight, often at odds with public agencies’ proclaimed policy objectives of law and order, and often in conjunction with lawless and even criminal foreign and domestic elements.

The expansion of this covert world has occurred principally in Asia. There covert U.S. decisions were made to build up drug-financed armies in Burma, Thailand, and Laos, in a series of aggressive actions that by the 1960s involved America in a hot Indochina War. This war, like the related wars that ensued later in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, was initiated by America for a mix of geostrategic and economic reasons, above all the desire to establish a dominant U.S. presence an important region of petroleum reserves.

  

Air America at Sam Thong, Laos, 1961

The country most deeply affected by the succession of Asian Wars has been America itself. Its expansive forces, backed by powerful interest groups, are now out of control, as our managers, like other empire managers before them, have “come to believe that there is nowhere within their domain – in our case, nowhere on earth – in which their presence is not crucial.”7

To illustrate this, loss of control, let us look for a moment at a milieu which I believe to have been an important factor in all of America’s major domestic deep events: the CIA’s ongoing interactions with the global drug connection.

Unaccountable Power: The CIA and the Return of the Global Drug Connection

Since World War Two the CIA has made systematic use of drug trafficking forces to increase its covert influence — first in Thailand and Burma, then in Laos and Vietnam, and most recently in Afghanistan.8 With America’s expansion overseas, we have seen more and more covert programs and agencies, all using drug traffickers to different and opposing ends.

In 2004 Time and USA Today ran major stories about two of the chief Afghan drug traffickers, Haji Juma Khan and Haji Bashir Noorzai, alleging that each was supporting al-Qaeda, and that Khan in particular “has helped al-Qaeda establish a smuggling network that is peddling Afghan heroin to buyers across the Middle East, Asia and Europe.”9 Later it was revealed that both traffickers were simultaneously CIA assets, and that Khan in particular was “paid a large amount of cash by the United States,” even while he was reportedly helping al-Qaeda to establish smuggling networks.10

There is no longer anything surprising in the news that large U.S. payments were made to a drug trafficker who was himself funding the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The arrangement is no more bizarre than the CIA’s performance during the U.S. “war on drugs” in Venezuela in the 1990s, when the CIA first set up an anti-drug unit in Venezuela, and then helped its chief, Gen. Ramon Guillén Davila, smuggle at least one ton of pure cocaine into Miami International Airport.11

It would be easy to conclude from these reports that the CIA and Pentagon intentionally use drugs to help finance the enemy networks that justify their overseas operations. Yet I doubt that such a cynical Machiavellian objective is ever consciously voiced by those responsible in Washington.

More likely, it is an inevitable consequence of the U.S. repressive style of conducting covert operations. Great emphasis is put on recruiting covert assets; and in unstable areas with weak governance, drug traffickers with their own ample funds and repressive networks are the most obvious candidates for recruitment by the CIA. The traffickers in turn are happy to become U.S. assets, because this status affords them at least a temporary immunity from U.S. prosecution.12

In a nutshell: I am describing a development that is not so much intentional, as a consequence of repressive dynamics. A related example would be the CIA’s recurring use of double agents, again for the reason just suggested. In the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, the chief planner was a double agent, Ali Mohammed, who surveyed the Embassy and reported to Osama bin Laden in 1993, just months after the FBI had ordered the Canadian RCMP to release him from detention.13 In the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008, the scene was initially surveyed for the attackers by a DEA double agent, David Headley (alias Daood Sayed Gilani) whom “U.S. authorities sent … to work for them in Pakistan…despite a warning that he sympathized with radical Islamic groups.”14

  

David Headley in court

The central point is that expansion beyond a nation’s borders engenders a pattern of repressive power with predictable results — results that transcend the conscious intentions of anyone within that repressive power system. Newly formed and ill-supervised agencies spawn contradictory policies abroad, the net effect of which is usually both expansive and deleterious – not just to the targeted nation but also to America.

This is especially true of covert agencies, whose practice of secrecy means that controversial policies proliferate without either coordination or review. Asia in particular has been since 1945 the chief area where the CIA has ignored or overridden the policy directives of the State Department. As I document in American War Machine, CIA interventions in Asia, especially those that escalated into the Laotian, Vietnam, and Afghan wars, fostered an ongoing global CIA drug connection, or what I have called elsewhere a dark quadrant of unaccountable power.

This drug connection, richly endowed with huge resources and its own resources of illegal violence, has a major stake in both American interventions and above all unwinnable wars to aggravate the conditions of regional lawlessness that are needed for drug trafficking. Thus it makes perfect sense that the global drug connection has, as I believe, been an ongoing factor in the creation of an overseas American empire that most U.S. citizens never asked for. More specifically, the dark quadrant has contributed to all the major deep events – including Dallas, Watergate, and 9/11, that have helped militarize America and overshadow its public institutions.

Doomsday Power and the Military Occupation of America

I have said that, underlying the surface of America’s major deep events, there has been a pattern of conflict between two mindsets – that of openness and that of repressive dominance – dating back to the Civil War and the Indian wars of the mid-nineteenth century (and before that to the American Revolution).15 But it would be wrong to conclude from this on-going pattern of conflict that there is nothing new in our current situation. On the contrary, America is in the midst of a new crisis arising from this very old antagonism. 

Since World War Two, secrecy has been used to accumulate new covert bureaucratic powers under the guise of emergency planning for disasters, planning known inside and outside the government as the “Doomsday Project.” Known more recently (and misleadingly) as “Continuity of Government” (COG) planning, the Doomsday Project, under the guiding hands in the 1980s of Oliver North, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and others, became the vehicle on 9/11 for a significant change of government. This package of extreme repressive power accumulated under the guise of the Doomsday Project can be referred to as Doomsday Power. In concrete terms, the repressive power developed to control the rest of the world is now, to an unprecedented extent, treating America itself as an occupied territory. 

What I mean by “doomsday power” is the package of repressive mechanisms (which I have discussed elsewhere under their official name of “continuity of government” or COG plans), that was prepared over two decades by the elite COG planning group, and then implemented beginning on 9/11. The package includes 1) warrantless surveillance, 2) warrantless detention, (including unprecedented abridgments of the right to habeas corpus), and 3) unprecedented steps towards the militarization of domestic security enforcement and shrinking of the posse comitatus acts.

One recent development of Doomsday power, for example, has been the deployment since 2008 of a U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team to be stationed permanently in the United States. A major part of its dedicated assignment is to be “called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control.”16 Many people seem to be unaware that Americans, together with this Brigade, have lived since 2002 under a U.S. Army Command called NORTHCOM.17 Yet if nothing is done to change the present course of events, historians may come some day to compare the stationing of this brigade in 2008 CE to the date, in 49 BCE, when Caesar, along with his legion, crossed the Rubicon.

And I believe that the forces that have worked for decades to create Doomsday power have, like the global drug connection, been involved in every one of the deep events, from Dallas to 9/11, that have helped bring us here.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. Peter Dale Scott is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.

Notes

1 Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), 217. Cf. Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan/Henry Holt, 2004).  

2 Michael Lind, Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 143.

3 Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought (New York: Penguin Books, 1993), 93. Adapting Arendt’s distinction, Jonathan Schell made a Gandhian case in support of nonviolent persuasive or community power as a means of challenging top-down violent power and thus reforming the world. I developed this case myself in The Road to 9/11 (Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People [New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2003], 227-31; Peter Dale Scott, Road to 9/11, 249-66, 269).

4 Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002), 171-200.

5 Carl A. Huffman, Archytas of Tarentum: Pythagorean, philosopher, and mathematician king (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 207: “In Diodotus’ speech in the Mytilenian debate, wealth is particularly identified as producing arrogant “overreaching” (pleonexia –iii.45.4). Thus pleonexia seems to be associated with the abuse of power by either a tyrant or a wealthy oligarchy.”  

6 Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York: Random House, 1987); Phillips, Wealth and Democracy; Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire.

7 Johnson, Blowback, 221.

8 Scott, American War Machine, 63-142, 239-53. The Karzai regime in Afghanistan is only the latest of CIA client governments to struggle to maintain itself with support from drug traffickers. Cf. Peter Dale Scott, “Can the US Pacify the Drug-Addicted War in Afghanistan? Opium, the CIA and the Karzai Administration”, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, April 5, 2010; Ryan Grim, “Karzai Releasing Scores Of Drug Traffickers In Afghanistan, WikiLeaks Cables Show,” Huffington Post, December 31, 2010.

9 Tim McGurk, Time, August 2, 2004; cf. USA Today, October 26, 2004.

10 James Risen, New York Times, December 11, 2010. Both traffickers were ultimately arrested by DEA officials: Noorzai in 2005, and Khan in 2008. The U.S. probably came to prefer Khan over Noorzai, because he was more closely allied to Abdul Wali Karzai, another drug trafficker and CIA asset, as well as a central figure in the power apparatus of his brother Hamid Karzai, the U.S. client president of Afghanistan.

11 Time, November 29, 1993; Scott, American War Machine, 14-15; Tim Weiner, New York Times, November 23, 1996.

12 It is too early to report the ultimate fate of Noorzai and Khan after their arrest and indictment by the United States. But it is clear that Guillén Davila’s arrest and indictment never led to conviction or imprisonment. On the contrary, he appears to have continued to enjoy CIA favor in Venezuela.  (Scott, American War Conspiracy, 14-15).

13 Scott, Road to 9/11, 152-58. 

14 “D.E.A. Deployed Mumbai Plotter Despite Warning,” New York Times, November 8, 2009; cf. Scott, American War Machine, 246-47. In another essay I will develop the thesis that what I call surplus repressive power – power developed exclusively by one society for the repressive dominance of others — is doomed, in this and other ways, to encourage the proliferation of its enemies. My point here is a more modest and general one. Maybe save the sentence for the later work?

15 Cf. Peter Dale Scott, “Atrocity and its Discontents: U.S. Double-Mindedness About Massacre,” in Adam Jones, ed. Genocide, War Crimes and the West: Ending the Culture of Impunity (London: Zed Press, 2004). 

16 “Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1,” Army Times, September 30, 2008.

17 Scott, Road to 9/11, 241-42.

Quantitative Easing Is Causing Food Prices to Skyrocket

January 22nd, 2011 by Washington's Blog

As I’ve previously noted, interest rates have risen both times after the Fed implemented quantitative easing.

Graham Summers points out that food prices have also skyrocketed both times:

In case you’ve missed it, food riots are spreading throughout the developing world Already Tunisia, Algeria, Oman, and even Laos are experiencing riots and protests due to soaring food prices.

As Abdolreza Abbassian, chief economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), put it, “We are entering a danger territory.”

Indeed, these situations left people literally starving… AND dead from the riots.

And why is this happening?

A perfect storm of increased demand, bad harvests from key exporters (Argentina, Russia, Australia and Canada, but most of all, the Fed’s money pumping. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the below chart:

[Summers shows the share price of Elements Rogers International Commodity Agriculture ETN as a proxy for food prices generally.]

As you can see, it wasn’t until the Fed announced its QE lite program that agricultural commodities exploded above long-term resistance. And in case there was any doubt, QE 2 sent them absolutely stratospheric.

This isn’t really unexpected.

Last November, David Einhorn warned:

It is quite likely that QE2 will slow the economy by raising food and energy prices [because it is easier to generate these price increases]. [These price hikes] would act as a tax on consumers and businesses.

Also in November, Karl Denninger wrote:

We have a Federal Reserve that, in the last two years, has printed and debased the currency of this nation by more than 100%, taking their balance sheet from $800 billion to more than $2 trillion. They now threaten, today, to do even more of that. This has resulted in insane price ramps in soft commodities ….

(“soft commodities” means food crops).

As the Wall Street Journal, Tyler Durden, the Economic Policy Journal and others note, inflation in food prices isn’t limited to developing nations, but is coming to the U.S.

A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens

January 22nd, 2011 by Mary William Walsh

Policymakers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.

Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides.

Bankruptcy could permit a state to alter its contractual promises to retirees, which are often protected by state constitutions, and it could provide an alternative to a no-strings bailout. Along with retirees, however, investors in a state’s bonds could suffer, possibly ending up at the back of the line as unsecured creditors.

“All of a sudden, there’s a whole new risk factor,” said Paul S. Maco, a partner at the firm Vinson & Elkins who was head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Municipal Securities during the Clinton administration.

For now, the fear of destabilizing the municipal bond market with the words “state bankruptcy” has proponents in Congress going about their work on tiptoe. No draft bill is in circulation yet, and no member of Congress has come forward as a sponsor, although Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, asked the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, about the possiblity in a hearing this month.

House Republicans, and Senators from both parties, have taken an interest in the issue, with nudging from bankruptcy lawyers and a former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, who could be a Republican presidential candidate. It would be difficult to get a bill through Congress, not only because of the constitutional questions and the complexities of bankruptcy law, but also because of fears that even talk of such a law could make the states’ problems worse.

Lawmakers might decide to stop short of a full-blown bankruptcy proposal and establish instead some sort of oversight panel for distressed states, akin to the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which helped New York City during its fiscal crisis of 1975.

Still, discussions about something as far-reaching as bankruptcy could give governors and others more leverage in bargaining with unionized public workers.

“They are readying a massive assault on us,” said Charles M. Loveless, legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We’re taking this very seriously.”

Mr. Loveless said he was meeting with potential allies on Capitol Hill, making the point that certain states might indeed have financial problems, but public employees and their benefits were not the cause. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report on Thursday warning against a tendency to confuse the states’ immediate budget gaps with their long-term structural deficits.

“States have adequate tools and means to meet their obligations,” the report stated.

No state is known to want to declare bankruptcy, and some question the wisdom of offering them the ability to do so now, given the jitters in the normally staid municipal bond market.

Slightly more than $25 billion has flowed out of mutual funds that invest in muni bonds in the last two months, according to the Investment Company Institute. Many analysts say they consider a bond default by any state extremely unlikely, but they also say that when politicians take an interest in the bond market, surprises are apt to follow.

Mr. Maco said the mere introduction of a state bankruptcy bill could lead to “some kind of market penalty,” even if it never passed. That “penalty” might be higher borrowing costs for a state and downward pressure on the value of its bonds. Individual bondholders would not realize any losses unless they sold.

But institutional investors in municipal bonds, like insurance companies, are required to keep certain levels of capital. And they might retreat from additional investments. A deeply troubled state could eventually be priced out of the capital markets.

“The precipitating event at G.M. was they were out of cash and had no ability to raise the capital they needed,” said Harry J. Wilson, the lone Republican on President Obama’s special auto task force, which led G.M. and Chrysler through an unusual restructuring in bankruptcy, financed by the federal government.

Mr. Wilson, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for New York State comptroller last year, has said he believes that New York and some other states need some type of a financial restructuring.

He noted that G.M. was salvaged only through an administration-led effort that Congress initially resisted, with legislators voting against financial assistance to G.M. in late 2008.

“Now Congress is much more conservative,” he said. “A state shows up and wants cash, Congress says no, and it will probably be at the last minute and it’s a real problem. That’s what I’m concerned about.”

Discussion of a new bankruptcy option for the states appears to have taken off in November, after Mr. Gingrich gave a speech about the country’s big challenges, including government debt and an uncompetitive labor market.

“We just have to be honest and clear about this, and I also hope the House Republicans are going to move a bill in the first month or so of their tenure to create a venue for state bankruptcy,” he said.

A few weeks later, David A. Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published an article, “Give States a Way to Go Bankrupt,” in The Weekly Standard. It said thorny constitutional questions were “easily addressed” by making sure states could not be forced into bankruptcy or that federal judges could usurp states’ lawmaking powers.

“I have never had anything I’ve written get as much attention as that piece,” said Mr. Skeel, who said he had since been contacted by Republicans and Democrats whom he declined to name.

Mr. Skeel said it was possible to envision how bankruptcy for states might work by looking at the existing law for local governments. Called Chapter 9, it gives distressed municipalities a period of debt-collection relief, which they can use to restructure their obligations with the help of a bankruptcy judge.

Unfunded pensions become unsecured debts in municipal bankruptcy and may be reduced. And the law makes it easier for a bankrupt city to tear up its labor contracts than for a bankrupt company, said James E. Spiotto, head of the bankruptcy practice at Chapman & Cutler in Chicago.

The biggest surprise may await the holders of a state’s general obligation bonds. Though widely considered the strongest credit of any government, they can be treated as unsecured credits, subject to reduction, under Chapter 9.

Mr. Spiotto said he thought bankruptcy court was not a good avenue for troubled states, and he has designed an alternative called the Public Pension Funding Authority. It would have mandatory jurisdiction over states that failed to provide sufficient funding to their workers’ pensions or that were diverting money from essential public services.

“I’ve talked to some people from Congress, and I’m going to talk to some more,” he said. “This effort to talk about Chapter 9, I’m worried about it. I don’t want the states to have to pay higher borrowing costs because of a panic that they might go bankrupt. I don’t think it’s the right thing at all. But it’s the beginning of a dialog.”

 

Punishing Bradley Manning for the Crimes of Others

January 22nd, 2011 by David Swanson

Bradley Manning, alleged U.S. Army whistleblower, is in two ways — one likely, the other certain — being punished for the crimes of others.

On Monday a crowd that I was part of staged a protest at Quantico, where Manning has been imprisoned for several months with no trial. At the last minute, the military denied us permission to hold a rally on the base, so we held it in the street blocking the entrance to the base. This visibly enraged at least one of the guards who attempted unsuccessfully to arrest a couple of us.

On Tuesday, for no stated reason whatsoever, Manning’s jailers put him on suicide watch. This meant that he was isolated for 24 hours a day instead of 23, the glasses he needs to see were taken away, and other harsh conditions imposed. Two days later, for no stated reason whatsoever, Manning was taken off suicide watch again. It appears likely that he was punished in response to our protest. As a result, we’re all going to crawl under our beds and hide, promising never to use the First Amendment again in our lives.

Just kidding! Instead, we’re planning larger protests. And Manning’s lawyer has, for his part, filed a complaint and threatened to sue over Manning’s mistreatment. These colors don’t run, as someone might say.

Perhaps it was a coincidence that the Marine Corpse (sic) momentarily believed Manning to be suicidal the day after a protest. And yet we know for certain that Manning is being punished for the crimes of others. When you witness a crime, you are obliged to report it. This is exactly what Manning has allegedly done, for a great many crimes. And it is all Manning has allegedly done.

Material released by Wikileaks and alleged to have originated with Manning has revealed, among many other crimes, secret and illegal wars and missile strikes, support for a military coup, obstruction of justice, numerous war atrocities, complicity in torture, illegal spying, lawless imprisonment (now experienced by Manning himself as well), the granting of retroactive immunity to criminals, and bribery.

When the U.S. government screams that this information has endangered the innocent and then admits that it hasn’t done any such thing and is really no big deal at all, don’t be fooled. It is, in another sense, a very big deal. The reason the government says that informing the public is far more dangerous than informing foreign nations is the same reason that Manning allegedly chose to give the information to the public rather than enriching himself by selling it to another nation: majority rule is threatening to oligarchs. The reason Congressman Peter King says he’d rather see the United States bombed than U.S. citizens learn this information about their government’s behavior is because the behavior is serious indeed, deadly so.

Bradley Manning has, if the allegations are true, risked his life to shine a light on a government that has come to operate in almost complete secrecy. Manning has shown the courage and wisdom of some of the revolutionaries who got this country started. That he is being punished for it tells us something about what our government has become.

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

http://warisalie.org

http://davidswanson.org

http://warisacrime.org

“The Globocrats”: Davos and the Bilderberg

January 22nd, 2011 by Global Research

Not everyone loves Davos.“YOU can do nothing against a conspiracy theory,” sighs Etienne Davignon. He sits in a lofty office with a stupendous view over Brussels, puffing his pipe. He is an aristocrat, a former vice-president of the European Commission and a man who has sat on several corporate boards, but that is not why some people consider him too powerful. He presides over the Bilderberg group, an evil conspiracy bent on world domination. At least, that is what numerous websites allege; also that it has ties to al-Qaeda, is hiding the cure for cancer and wishes to merge the United States with Mexico.

In reality, Bilderberg is an annual conference for a few dozen of the world’s most influential people. Last year Bill Gates and Larry Summers hobnobbed with the chairman of Deutsche Bank, the boss of Shell, the head of the World Food Programme and the prime minister of Spain. One or two journalists are invited each year, on condition that they abstain from writing about it. (Full disclosure: the editor of The Economist sometimes attends.)

Because the meetings are off the record, they are catnip to conspiracy theorists. But the attraction for participants is obvious. They can speak candidly, says Mr Davignon, without worrying how their words might play in tomorrow’s headlines. So they find out what other influential people really think. Big ideas are debated frankly. Mr Davignon credits the meetings for helping to lay the groundwork for creating the euro. He recalls strong disagreement over Iraq: some participants favoured the invasion in 2003, some opposed it and some wanted it done differently. Last year the debate was about Europe’s fiscal problems, and whether the euro would survive.

The world is a complicated place, with oceans of new information sloshing around. To run a multinational organisation, it helps if you have a rough idea of what is going on. It also helps to be on first-name terms with other globocrats. So the cosmopolitan elite—international financiers, bureaucrats, charity bosses and thinkers—constantly meet and talk. They flock to elite gatherings such as the World Economic Forum at Davos, the Trilateral Commission and the Boao meeting in China. They form clubs. Ethnic Indian entrepreneurs around the world join TiE (The Indus Enterprise). Movers and shakers in New York and Washington join the Council on Foreign Relations, where they can listen to the president of Turkey one week and the chief executive of Intel the next. The world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, a Mexican telecoms tycoon, hosts an annual gathering of Latin American billionaires who cultivate each other while ostensibly discussing regional poverty.

Davos is perhaps the glitziest of these globocratic gatherings. Hundreds of big wheels descend on the Swiss ski resort each year. The lectures are interesting, but the big draw is the chance to talk to other powerful people in the corridors. Such chats sometimes yield results. In 1988 the prime ministers of Turkey and Greece met at Davos and signed a declaration that may have averted a war. In 1994 Shimon Peres, then Israel’s foreign minister, and Yasser Arafat struck a deal over Gaza and Jericho. In 2003 Jack Straw, Britain’s foreign secretary, had an informal meeting in his hotel suite with the president of Iran, a country with which Britain had no diplomatic ties. But Davos is hardly a secretive institution: it is crawling with journalists. The other globocratic shindigs are opening up, too. Even Bilderberg has recently started publishing lists of participants on its website.

Some American organisations, such as foreign-policy think-tanks, are also well placed to exert global influence. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, for example, has established itself as one of the most globally trusted talking-shops, with offices in Beijing, Beirut, Brussels and Moscow, as well as Washington—though it has yet to fulfil the vision of its founder, Andrew Carnegie, who wanted it to abolish war. The key to wielding influence, says Jessica Mathews, Carnegie’s president, is “very simple. You hire the best people.”

In countries where think-tanks are subservient to the state, such as China and Russia, foreign outfits such as Carnegie enjoy a reputation for independence. If they can back this up with useful knowledge, they can sway policy. For example, Carnegie scholars advised the authors of Russia’s post-Soviet constitution. And when relations between American and Russia grew frosty under President George W. Bush, Carnegie’s Moscow office helped keep a line of communication open between the two governments.

Such meetings are “an important part of the story of the superclass”, says Mr Rothkopf, the author of the eponymous book. What they offer is access to “some of the world’s most sequestered and elusive leaders”. As such, they are one of “the informal mechanisms of [global] power”.

Some globocrats think the importance of forums like Davos is overstated. Howard Stringer, the boss of Sony, is the kind of person you would expect to relish such gatherings. Welsh by birth, American by citizenship, he took over Japan’s most admired company in 2005, when it was in serious trouble, and turned it around in the face of immense cultural obstacles. He says he has enjoyed trips to Davos in the past but will not attend this year. He can learn more, he says, by listening to his 167,000 employees.

On the face of it there seems much to be said for the world’s shakers and movers meeting and talking frequently. Yet for all their tireless information-swapping, globocrats were caught napping by the financial crisis. Their networks of contacts did throw up a few warnings, but not enough to prompt timely action.

The limits of jaw-jaw

Jim Chanos, a hedge-fund manager who made his first fortune betting that Enron was overvalued, warned the G8 finance ministers in April 2007 that banks and insurance firms were heading for trouble. He made another fortune when bank shares crashed, but is still furious that his warnings were politely ignored. He thinks it an outrage that several senior regulators from that period are still in positions of power. And he accuses some bankers of “a wholesale looting of the system” by paying themselves bonuses based on what they must have known were phantom profits. He thinks they should be prosecuted.

Globocrats failed to avert the crisis, but they rallied once it struck. Rich-country governments acted in concert to prop up banks with taxpayers’ money. In America the response was led by a well-connected trio: Hank Paulson, George Bush junior’s treasury secretary and a former boss of Goldman Sachs; Tim Geithner, Barack Obama’s treasury secretary and a former boss of the New York Federal Reserve, as well as a veteran of the IMF, the Council on Foreign Relations and Kissinger Associates; and Ben Bernanke, of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton and the Bush White House, who is now chairman of the Federal Reserve. The bail-outs were unpopular everywhere, but may have prevented the world’s banking system from imploding.

Governments are now trying to craft rules to prevent a recurrence. Lots of people have offered advice. Among the weightier contributions was a report from the Group of Thirty (G30), an informal collection of past and present central-bank governors. The Volcker Report, advocating a central clearing mechanism for derivatives trading and curbs on proprietary trading by banks, helped shape America’s Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill. The G30 is influential because it consists of people with experience of putting policies into practice, says Stuart Mackintosh, its director. So when it makes recommendations, they can be turned into action, he adds.

Global Research Editor’s Note

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange is also a protégé of The Economist

We have referred many times to the push for a centralized world government control system as the “open conspiracy”. Groups such as Bilderberg, The Trilateral Commission and The Council on Foreign Relations are kingpins of this agenda, shaping the policies of the politicians and power brokers that they have effectively bought.

A rather bizarre article in The Economist today addresses this power structure and far from dismissing it as a conspiracy theory, simply reaffirms the fact that “the cosmopolitan elite” do indeed “flock together” at such gatherings and elusive clubs to shape the world that the “superclass” wishes to inhabit.

Of course, The Economist is a perfect avenue for the open conspiracy to be flaunted, given that its editor is a regular attendee at the annual Bilderberg conference, an admission the piece proudly discloses in its opening paragraphs.

Tongue firmly in cheek, the piece describes Bilderberg as “an evil conspiracy bent on world domination”, and then goes on to affirm that actually yes, the group really does dominate world events.

It was responsible for the single European currency, it plays host to the world’s most influential aristocrats and business people, as well as a small cadre of journalists, representing the biggest global media corporations, who are sworn to comply with Chatham House rules, meaning they cannot disclose any of the “big ideas” that are hatched at Bilderberg.

“The world is a complicated place, with oceans of new information sloshing around.” the piece continues, “To run a multinational organisation, it helps if you have a rough idea of what is going on. It also helps to be on first-name terms with other globocrats. So the cosmopolitan elite—international financiers, bureaucrats, charity bosses and thinkers—constantly meet and talk. They flock to elite gatherings… They form clubs.”

The most influential of those clubs, according to the article, are Bilderberg, The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and The Group of Thirty. They are now shedding their secretive natures and revealing themselves to the world. The “globocratic shindigs are opening up”, the piece acknowledges.

The article goes on to give some examples of major international events that have been shaped over the years at elite gatherings, including diplomatic agreements and even decisions on major wars.

“Such meetings are ‘an important part of the story of the superclass’, The Economist quotes former Kissinger luminary and international elitist David Rothkopf, the author of the book The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making.

“What they offer is access to ‘some of the world’s most sequestered and elusive leaders’. As such, they are one of ‘the informal mechanisms of [global] power’, Rothkopf adds.

Don’t blame the international “globocrat” elite for the financial crisis though, the piece urges, claiming that the superclass were “caught napping”. And while the piece admits that some international bankers are responsible for looting the system wholesale, it attempts to convince readers that ultimately the presence of an inter-connected international elite actually saved the world from complete financial meltdown – so you can sleep easy at night.

Of course, anyone who closely follows the activity of such elite groups will tell you that they absolutely were not caught off guard and were fully aware that the crisis was being carefully massaged back in 2006. Reports from the Bilderberg meetings in Canada in ’06 and in Turkey in ’07 predicted a global housing crash and forecast a prolonged financial meltdown as a result. The group has since been debating exactly how it should move to shape the economic situation in order to further its own global influence and that of the (honestly, we’re not evil at all) “superclass”.

A decade ago anyone who even spoke of the existence of Bilderberg, let alone suggested it was a major manipulator of world events, was roundly categorized as a crazy tin foil hat wearing kook. Today the very same assertions make up the stuff of editorials in the world’s global press.

Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

 http://www.prisonplanet.com/bilderberg-owned-publication-the-economist-yes-powerful-globocrat-elites-are-running-things-its-not-a-conspiracy.html

NATO’s Global Military Deployment. Selected Articles

January 22nd, 2011 by Rick Rozoff

Lithuania Appointed NATO Contact Country In Georgia
http://en.trend.az/news/politics/1815390.html Trend News Agency January 21, 2011 Lithuania to fulfill NATO contact functions in relations with Georgia N.
Posted – Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:23 am

Three U.S. Warships In First Interceptor Missile Test On East Coast
http://hamptonroads.com/2011/01/navy-conducts-missile-defense-exercise-eastern-shore Virginian-Pilot January 22, 2011 Navy conducts missile defense exercise
Posted – Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:23 am

Asia-Pacific NATO: NZ Boosts Ties With Singapore, UK, Australia
http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/ministers-visit-artillery-exercise-waioru/5/79234 Voxy January 22, 2011 Ministers Visit Artillery Exercise At Waioru -Both
Posted – Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:23 am

German MPs Discuss Extending Afghan War Deployment
http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5508653&c=EUR&s=TOP Agence France-Presse January 21, 2011 German MPs Debate Afghan Mission Extension BERLIN: Germany’s
Posted – Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:14 pm

S. Korean Commandos Prove “Toughness” By Killing Eight In Horn Of Af
http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5507888&c=ASI&s=SEA Agence France-Presse January 21, 2011 S. Korea Navy Kills Somali Pirates, Saves Crew By PARK
Posted – Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:14 pm

VIDEO: Will China’s Yuan Overtake US Dollar?

January 21st, 2011 by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Blackwater Founder Is Said to Back African Mercenaries

January 21st, 2011 by Mark Mazzetti

WASHINGTON — Erik Prince, the founder of international security giant Blackwater Worldwide, is secretly backing an effort by a controversial South African mercenary firm to insert itself into Somalia’s bloody civil war by protecting government leaders, training Somali militias, and battling pirates and Islamic militants there, according to Western and African officials.

The disclosure comes as Mr. Prince sells off his interest in the company he built into a behemoth with billions of dollars in American government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, work that mired him in controversy and lawsuits amid reports of reckless behavior by his operatives, including the deaths of civilians in Iraq. His efforts to wade into the chaos of Somalia appears to be Mr. Prince’s latest endeavor to remain at the center of a campaign against Islamic radicalism in some of the world’s most war ravaged corners. Mr. Prince moved to the United Arab Emirates late last year.

According to a report by the African Union, an organization of African states, Mr. Prince provided initial funding for a project by Saracen International to win contracts with Somalia’s embattled government. The Somali government has been cornered into a small patch of Mogadishu by the Shabab, a Somali militant group with ties to Al Qaeda.

Saracen International is a private security company based in South Africa, with corporate offshoots in Uganda and other countries. The company was formed with the remnants of Executive Outcomes, a private mercenary firm composed largely of former South African special operations troops that operated throughout Africa in the 1990s.

The company makes little public about its operations and personnel, but it appears to be run by Lafras Luitingh, a former officer in South Africa’s Civil Cooperation Bureau, an apartheid-era internal security force notorious for killings of opponents of the government.

With its barely functional government and a fierce hostility to foreign armies since the hasty American withdrawal from Mogadishu in the early 1990s, Somalia is a country where Western militaries have long feared to tread. This has created an opportunity for private security companies like Saracen to fill the security vacuum created by years of civil war.

Saracen International has yet to formally announce its plans in Somalia, and there appear to be bitter disagreements within Somalia’s fractious government about whether to hire the South African firm. Somali officials have said that Saracen’s operations — which would also include training a anti-piracy army in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland — are being financed by an anonymous Middle Eastern country.

Several people with knowledge of Saracen’s operations confirmed that the country is the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Prince could not be reached for comment.

According to a Jan. 12 confidential report by the African Union, Mr. Prince “is at the top of the management chain of Saracen and provided seed money for the Saracen contract.” A Western official working in Somalia says he believes that it was Mr. Prince who first raised the idea of the Saracen contract with members of the Emirates’ ruling families, with whom he has a close relationship.

American officials have said little about Saracen since news reports about the company’s planned operations in Somalia emerged last month. Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in December that the American government is “concerned about the lack of transparency” of Saracen’s funding and plans.

Mr. Prince for years has tried to spot new business opportunities in the security world. In 2008, he sought to capitalize on the growing piracy endemic off the Horn of Africa to win Blackwater contracts from companies that that frequent the shipping lanes there. He even reconfigured a 183-foot oceanographic research vessel into a pirate hunting ship for hire, complete with drone aircraft and .50-caliber machine guns.

In an interview in the November Men’s Journal, Mr. Prince expressed frustration with the wave of lawsuits filed against Blackwater, which developed a reputation in Iraq and Afghanistan for reckless behavior.

Mr. Prince, who said that moving to Abu Dhabi would “make it harder for the jackals to get my money,” said he intended to find business opportunities in “the energy field.”

Despite all of Blackwater’s legal troubles, Mr. Prince has never been directly accused of criminal activity.

Jeffrey Gettleman contributed reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia.

Two years ago, on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama, the U.S.A.’s first African American president, invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo, the heart of Africa, on his Inauguration Day.

Most Americans, including those who campaigned hardest for Obama, would have a hard time making sense of this, or of the military forces involved. Most would not recognize the acronyms of the Rwandan Defense Force (RDF), the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF), or the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). 

So, what sense does it make, to say that Barack Obama invaded Congo, the heart of Africa, on his Inauguration Day?  It makes sense because:

1)  On his Inauguration Day, Obama became the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.

2)   The Rwandan and Ugandan armies serve as the U.S. military’s proxies in Africa.

The only media outlet willing and able to produce something akin to a news report about this was the Assassinated Press, in “Obama Invades the Congo on Inauguration Day.”

I had been a guest on the KPFA Radio Morning Show the day before Obama’s Inauguration, where I had tried to explain that Reverend Rick Warren, a world class homophobe, and Obama’s controversial pick to say his inaugural invocation, was not a benevolent presence in Africa, as reported by Team Obama in their attempts at damage control.  I later turned what I’d tried to explain into a video, “Imperial Evangelism.”

But, I was so staggered by what happened the next day, during the Obama Inauguration, that I was unable to write about it for over a year and a half, not until October 1, 2010, when I wrote “Obama’s Congo moment: genocide, the U.N. report and Senate Bill 2125,” an essay published first in the SF Bay View, then Global Research, the Black Star News, and The Newsline EA (East Africa).

Ugandan American Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi, gave that report a more straightforward title:  ”Congo Genocide: Obama Knows the Real Story.”  

Today, two years after Obama’s Inauguration Day, many of Obama’s near fanatical 2008 supporters have turned away, calling him a disaster and searching for another candidate to step up and challenge him in the 2011 primary.   What more can we expect from presidential elections that now cost well over half a billion dollars?   The London Guardian reported, on October 23, that the Obama and McCain campaign costs were approaching $1 billion. 

Though I myself felt psychologically battered by Obama fanatics by the end of the 2008 election, I can now hardly imagine a bigger waste of time than trying to knock Obama out of the Democratic primary in 2011.

Instead I would urge all those who campaigned for Obama, then turned away in disgust, to take some responsibility by reading Senate Bill 2125, the only Senate Bill that will ever bear Barack Obama’s name alone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006. I explained why in my essay, “Obama’s Congo moment: Genocide, the U.N. report and Senate Bill 2125.”

Obama did not have to invade Congo, the heart of Africa, on his Inauguration Day.   He does not have to continue, now, to ignore the UN Mapping Report, released October 1st, which documents our proxy armies’ war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal civilian massacres in Congo.  Obama knows the truth about Congo; he knows that, as he wrote in his 2006 legislation, “the real and perceived presence of armed groups hostile to the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi continue to serve as a major source of regional instability and an apparent pretext for continued interference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by its neighbors [Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi].”

But, the full force of the national security state now surrounding Obama could not be more invested in Congo, the most lethal conflict since World War II, which might well be understood as the back end of “the war.”

Big bombs drop out of jet fighter bombers and U.S. soldier die in the front end of the war in Afghanistan, and U.S. soldiers continue to die in Iraq, but in Congo, where our African proxies serve U.S. security state interests, rape and HIV seem to be the most lethal weapons.

Southern Africa’s resources, and most of all Congo’s, are essential to our military industries’ ability to manufacture for war.   The war in Congo is, as I wrote, on March 11, 2009, in the San Francisco Bay View, war for the sake of war itself.

Eisenhower’s Worst Fears Have Been Realized…

January 21st, 2011 by Washington's Blog

President Eisenhower’s warned us about the growing threat from the powerful military-industrial complex – and it’s threat to our prosperity – 50 years ago.

As NPR notes:

On Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces.

Eisenhower, a retired five-star Army general, the man who led the allies on D-Day, made the remarks in his farewell speech from the White House.

***

Eisenhower used the speech to warn about “the immense military establishment” that had joined with “a large arms industry.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

***

Eisenhower was worried about the costs of an arms race with the Soviet Union, and the resources it would take from other areas — such as building hospitals and schools.

***

Another concern … was the possibility that as the military and the arms industry gained power, they would be a threat to democracy, with civilians losing control of the military-industrial complex.

Eisenhower also said:

Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

As James Ledbetter wrote in the New York Times last month:

It is not a stretch to believe that this armaments industry — which profits not only from domestic sales but also from tens of billions of dollars in annual exports — manipulates public policy to perpetuate itself. But Eisenhower was concerned about more than just the military’s size; he also worried about its relationship to the American economy and society, and that the economy risked becoming a subsidiary of the military.

***

Eisenhower warned that the influence of the military-industrial complex was “economic, political, even spiritual” and that it was “felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government.” He exhorted Americans to break away from our reliance on military might as a guarantor of liberty and “use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.”

On this score, Eisenhower may well have seen today’s America as losing the battle against the darker aspects of the military-industrial complex. He was no pacifist, but he was a lifelong opponent of what he called a “garrison state,” in which policy and rights are defined by the shadowy needs of an all-powerful military elite.

The United States isn’t quite a garrison state today. But Eisenhower would likely have been deeply troubled, in the past decade, by the torture at Abu Ghraib, the use of martial authority to wiretap Americans without warrants and the multiyear detention of suspects at Guantánamo Bay without due process.

Finally, even if the economy can bear the immediate costs of the military, Eisenhower would be shocked at its mounting long-term costs. Most of the Iraq war expenses were paid for by borrowing, and Americans will shoulder those costs, plus interest, for many years to come.

A strong believer in a balanced budget, Eisenhower in his farewell address also told Americans to “avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow.” Too many of today’s so-called fiscal conservatives conveniently overlook the budgetary consequences of military spending.

The Independent pointed out Monday:

If you doubt, half a century on, that Dwight Eisenhower had it right, then consider the advertisements on WTOP, the Washington region’s all-news radio station. Every big metro area in the US has one, where car dealerships tout their bargains, and fast food chains promote a new special offer.

WTOP has all that. But it boasts other advertisers too, with names such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

***

These almost otherworldly ads, with patriotic music playing softly in the background, are aimed at a very restricted audience: the government that is their only customer for such wares. For the rest of us, they are proof that in the capital of the world’s richest democracy, the defence industry is a very big player indeed.

***

Adjusted for inflation, US national security spending has more than doubled since Eisenhower left office. Year after year, the defence budget seems to rise – irrespective of whether the country is actually fighting major wars, regardless of the fact that the Soviet Union, the country’s former global adversary, has ceased to be, and no matter which party controls the White House and Congress.

One common thread however exists: the military-industrial complex, or perhaps (as Eisenhower himself described it in a draft of his speech that was later amended) the military-industrial-congressional complex. Others have referred to the beast as the “Iron Triangle”.

In one corner of the triangle stands the arms industry. The second is constituted by the government, or more precisely the Pentagon, the end-consumer of the industry’s output. In a totalitarian state, such as the Soviet Union, that combination would be sufficient. The US however is a democracy, and a third corner is required – an elected legislature to vote funds to pay for the arms. This is Congress, made up of members who rely on the defence industry for many jobs in their states and districts, and for money to help finance their every more expensive re-election campaigns.

***

A treasure trove of old documents, covered with dirt and pine needles and discovered last year at a cabin in Minnesota once owned by Eisenhower’s chief speechwriter Malcolm Moos, reveals that the 34th president had been working on the speech since mid-1959. It went through at least 21 drafts; in a later one, the “congressional” reference was struck out because, it is supposed, Ike did not want to upset old friends on Capitol Hill. But the “military” part was there from the outset.

***

In reality, the dangers of Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” are not new; from the earliest days of the Republic, political leaders have warned of them. “Overgrown military establishments,” George Washington said in his own farewell address of 1796, “are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty.” 

***

Once again, one might note, Eisenhower hit the mark in January 1961. Back then, budgets were more or less balanced, and the possibilities of the future seemingly boundless. Even so he urged his countrymen to “avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow“. That of course is what has happened with the “credit card” wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose costs will burden American taxpayers for years to come.

As the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundationtold Democracy Now today, the big defense contractors “recycle our money into the political system”. He pointed to one example:

[The Lockheed companies] spend about $12 million per election cycle, either on lobbying or on candidates. And they have people like Buck McKeon, who runs the Armed Services Committee now. They’re the biggest donor to him. They’re the biggest donor to Daniel Inouye, who runs the Appropriations Committee in the Senate.

And investment legend Jeremy Grantham’s most recent newsletter argues that President Eisenhower’s worst fear have come true, and makes some hard-hitting points about finance and government as well:

Historians may well look back on this period, say, from 1960 on, as the “Selfish Era” – a time when individualism and materialism steadily took precedence over social responsibility. (To be fair, in the period from 1960 to 1980, the deterioration was slow, and the social contract dating back to the mid-1930s was more or less intact.) Personal debt grew slowly at first but steadily accelerated, even though it can be easily demonstrated that consumers collectively are better off saving to buy and that the only beneficiary of a heavy debt society is the financial industry, whose growth throughout this period was massive, multiplying its share of a growing pie by a remarkable 2.2 times…

The financial industry, with its incestuous relationships with government agencies, runs a close second to the energy industry. In the last 10 years or so, their machine, led by the famously failed economic consultant Alan Greenspan – one of the few businessmen ever to be laughed out of business – seemed perhaps the most effective. It lacks, though, the multi-decadal attitude-changing propaganda of the oil industry. Still, in finance they had the “regulators,” deregulating up a storm, to the enormous profit of their industry. Even with the biggest-ever financial fiasco, entirely brought on by the collective incompetence they produced (“they” being the financial regulators and the financial industry leaders working together in some strange, would-be symbiotic relationship), reform is still difficult. Even with everyone hating them, the financial industry comes out smelling like a rose with less competition, profits higher than ever, and not just too big to fail, but bigger still.

Other industries, to be sure, are in there swinging: insurance and health care come to mind, but they seem like pikers in comparison. No, it’s energy and finance in coequal first place, military-related companies an honorable third, and the rest of the field not even in contention. And now, adding the icing to the corporate cake, we have the Supreme Court. Formerly the jewel in the American Crown, they have managed to find five Justices capable of making Eisenhower’s worst nightmare come true. They have put the seal of approval on corporate domination of politics, and done so in a way that can be kept secret. The swing-vote Senator can now be sand-bagged by a vicious advertising program on television, financed by unknown parties, and approved by no stockholders at all!

All in all it appears that Eisenhower’s worst fears have been realized and his remarkable and unique warnings given for naught. From now on, we should tread more carefully. Honoring President Eisenhower’s unique warnings, we should perhaps not take this 50-year slide lying down. Squawking loudly seems preferable.

Thousands of Israelis Demonstrate for Human Rights

January 21st, 2011 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Montreal, January 18, 2011 - On Jan. 15, an estimated 20,000 Israelis protested in Tel Aviv against various recent government measures. The proposed inquiry into Israel’s peace and human rights groups and their funding was key among them, but protesters were also angered by the draconian “loyalty oath” and the government’s disinterest in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. These developments and the protest helped spark the Labour Party’s public fracturing on Jan. 17. Party leader Ehud Barak and four other MKs left Labour to form a faction that will remain in the Netanyahu government coalition while three Labour Party cabinet ministers withdrew from cabinet.
 

On Jan. 5 the Israeli Knesset had voted 41:17 to set up an inquiry into the activities and financing of Israeli human rights organizations monitoring the Israeli army’s conduct in the occupied Palestinian territories. The inquiry is viewed by many as an attempt to intimidate and harass Israeli organizations doing human rights work in the occupied Palestinian territories.  The Coalition whip, a Likud MK, said the bill aimed “to prevent a recurrence of the Goldstone report, which is mostly based on material provided by Israeli organizations …”  The bill was opposed by three Labour MKs – including Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog, who said it smelled of McCarthyism.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) welcomes the resurgence of an energetic and vocal Israeli peace camp, and urges the Canadian government to heed the camp’s concerns and be more balanced in its Middle East policy. “Since the targeted NGOs already file reports on their financing and activities, the proposed  inquiry is clearly intended to attack and intimidate them for monitoring violations of human rights and international law by the Israeli state and its institutions,” says CJPME President Thomas Woodley. CJPME notes the lop-sided nature of the inquiry proposed. Neither violent Israeli colonist groups dependent on donations from Americans, nor the far-right parties allegedly closely tied to the Russian mafia are to be investigated.
 

The Jan. 15 demonstration was the largest in Israel in many years.  Yisrael Beiteinu, the party that sponsored the new bill, said the proposed inquiry is targetting B’Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, the women’s group Machsom Watch(Checkpoint Watch), and Breaking the Silence, a group of former soldiers collecting testimonies from soldiers. Shalom Achschav (Peace Now) and other groups are also threatened with investigation.
 

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For more information, please contact: 
 Patricia Jean

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: 450-812-7781 or 438-380-5410

CJPME Email - CJPME Website

String of Bomb Attacks Continues in Iraq

January 21st, 2011 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Montreal, January 20, 2011 - On Jan. 17, 18 19, and again today, a series of bomb attacks in different parts of Iraq have killed hundreds and wounded hundreds more. The bloodiest of the attacks took place on Tuesday Jan. 18 in Tikrit, north of Baghdad.  In that incident, a suicide bomber mingled among hundreds of young men lined up in the town square to apply for police jobs and detonated his explosive-packed vest. An estimated 49 to 65 people were killed on the spot, and another 130 to 150 injured, many of whom are not expected to survive. The bombing was the most lethal attack to take place in Iraq in six months.  Today’s bombing in Karbala killed at least 50, and injured at least 150.
 

On Jan. 19 in Baquba – the capital of Diyala province, alleged to be an al-Qaeda stronghold as recently as 2008-a car bomb killed at least 12 people and wounded an estimated 64 to 135 people. The attack took place at the headquarters of the Facilities Protection Service, a special force responsible for guarding public buildings and smaller state offices. In a separate incident near Baquba, three people were killed and a Shiite politician and 26 others wounded by a suicide car bomb.  These incidents were preceded by the Jan. 17 bombing attack on the convoy of the Sunni governor of Anbar province; the governor survived. Attacks have targeted both Shia and Sunni communities.
 

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) unequivocally condemns these attacks. “Violence is a cowardly and destructive way of addressing political differences.  CJPME condemns these attacks, and mourns the tragic loss of civilian lives,” says CJPME President Thomas Woodley.  CJPME notes that such attacks – especially those for whom nobody takes responsibility – are intended to divide peoples.  “The best response to such attacks is to collectively condemn them,” continued Woodley, “and to refuse to allow the perpetrators of such acts to divide their societies through this violence.” 
 

Police recruiting centres and security buildings are often the targets of such attacks, as are religious festivals. According to The Guardian, no group has claimed responsibility for the Jan. 18 attack on the recruiting centre, but it was in the style of al-Qaida-linked groups that want to discourage Sunni Iraqis from joining the security forces. A statement posted on a militant website by the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group, praised the bombing as a “suicide martyrdom” operation. In response, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – who recently took office after a nine-month stalemate following the 2010 elections – has vowed to strengthen the security forces.
 

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For more information, please contact: 
 Patricia Jean

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: 450-812-7781 or 438-380-5410

CJPME Email - CJPME Website

Blair is back: time for his “journey” to end in jail

Tony Blair at Iraq Inquiry
Friday 21 January
Protest: 8am-2pm
QEII Conference Centre
London SW1P 3EE

(Tube Westminster or St James’s)

Stop the Stop is organising protests outside the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January when Tony Blair gives evidence for the second time.

Anti-war activists will re-enact scenes from the build-up to war, including the secret deals between Bush and Blair and the taming of the Attorney General. They will be joined by Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani, actor Roger Lloyd Pack, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Bruce Kent from CND, broadcaster Michael Rosen, Peter Brierley and Rose Gentle who lost their sons in Iraq and many others.

Chilcot has the evidence. He knows Blair conspired with George Bush to take Britain into an illegal war. It’s time for Blair’s “journey” to end with him held to account for war crimes. Join the protest if you can.

Download leaflet for printing…
Reasons to join the protest when Blair is recalled to the Iraq Inquiry…
Lord Goldsmith tells Iraq Inquiry Blair misled MPs on legality of war…

Father of soldier killed in Iraq says Tony Blair is a war criminal

Reg Keys famously stood against Tony Blair in the 2005 general election, in his campaign to get justice for his son Tom, who was killed in Iraq.

In this BBC interview, he says the Iraq war was an act of international terrorism and Blair is a war criminal, responsible for the death of his son, 178 other British soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Protest at the Iraq Inquiry on Friday 21 January
8am-2pm QEII Conference Centre London SW1P 3EE

Tony Blair at Iraq Inquiry Friday 21 January Protest: 8am-2pm QEII Conference Centre London SW1P 3EE (Tube Westminster or St James’s) Stop the Stop is organising protests outside the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January when Tony Blair gives evidence for the second time.

Anti-war activists will re-enact scenes from the build-up to war, including the secret deals between Bush and Blair and the taming of the Attorney General. They will be joined by Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani, actor Roger Lloyd Pack, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Bruce Kent from CND, broadcaster Michael Rosen, Peter Brierley and Rose Gentle who lost their sons in Iraq and many others.

Chilcot has the evidence. He knows Blair conspired with George Bush to take Britain into an illegal war. It’s time for Blair’s “journey” to end with him held to account for war crimes. Join the protest if you can.

Reasons to join the protest when Blair is recalled to the Iraq Inquiry…

Lord Goldsmith tells Iraq Inquiry Blair misled MPs on legality of war…

Father of soldier killed in Iraq says Tony Blair is a war criminal

Reg Keys famously stood against Tony Blair in the 2005 general election, in his campaign to get justice for his son Tom, who was killed in Iraq.

In this BBC interview, he says the Iraq war was an act of international terrorism and Blair is a war criminal, responsible for the death of his son, 178 other British soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Protest at the Iraq Inquiry on Friday 21 January 8am-2pm QEII Conference Centre London SW1P 3EE

Fed Traders Buy Billions in U.S. Debt

January 21st, 2011 by Jerome Corsi

The Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing 2 traders are fast at work, ensconced in the operations room of the New York Fed’s fortress-like headquarters on Wall Street, buying billions of dollars of U.S. bonds, the New York Times reported.

The goal is to fully implement by June the Fed’s purchase of $600 billion in Treasury debt to complete the Fed’s policy of intervening into the economy in a policy known as Quantitative Easing 2.

At the same time, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s warned the triple-A sovereign debt rating of the United States is in jeopardy of being downgraded if there continues to be a deterioration in the negative fundamentals of the United States, including the trillion-dollar federal-budget deficits President Obama has run in the last two years.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time since the current economic downturn began that the Fed has bought U.S. debt, and it may not be the last time.

Fed bought $1.7 trillion in U.S. mortgage, Treasury debt in 2009-2010

In March 2009, the Federal Reserve had announced terminating an earlier plan under which the Fed had purchased $1.25 trillion in federal government mortgage-backed securities issued by Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac.

Then, in October 2009, the Fed terminated an earlier program that had purchased an additional $300 billion in U.S. Treasury debt, making the total Fed purchase of U.S. debt in 2009 total an excess of $1.5 trillion.

All total, the Wall Street Journal estimated the Fed ended up buying $1.7 trillion in mortgage and Treasury debt in 2009 before the program was discontinued.

That was considering the first round of Quantitative Easing Round, now commonly known as QE1.

The strategy of the federal government buying its own debt involves an effort to keep interest rates low to keep the costs low in borrowing to pay interest on the debt and borrowing even more to pay for each year’s trillion-dollar federal-budget deficit under Obama.

In the process of buying federal debt, the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve has gone from under $1trillion in 2008 to approximately $2.3 trillion today, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Having the Fed buy federal debt involves a process economists typically call “monetizing the debt,” in that the Federal Reserve essentially is printing money to purchase U.S. debt in a process most Americans would understand as using the MasterCard to pay the Visa bill.

“Out of nearly $2.1 trillion of net issuance across the Treasury, Agencies and MBS [Mortgage-Backed Securities] markets from June 2008-9, the Federal Reserve has accounted for nearly 40 percent of the total demand, buying more than every foreign government combined,” Jon Harooni, a senior analyst at Glenhill Capital, a hedge fund in New York City, and Ravi Tanuku, a research analyst at Fred Alger Management, an investment firm in New York City, wrote in October 2009, criticizing the policy being implemented by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

“It is not much of a stretch to say the Fed has become the entire mortgage market; it has purchased nearly $500 billion of MBS securities during a period where there was only $350 billion issued,” they continued.

“Looking at the first seven calendar months of 2009 yields similarly startling results: Of the total $1.1 trillion of net issuance across these markets, the Fed has purchased $861 billion or almost 80 percent.”

China irate

International Business Editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing in the Telegraph in London, reported that China was irate because the Fed’s QE2 policy “risks accelerating the demise of the dollar-based currency system, perhaps leading to an unstable tripod with the euro and yuan, or a hybrid gold standard, or a multi-metal ‘bancor’ along the lines proposed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s.”

“The continued and drastic U.S. dollar depreciation recently has led countries including Japan, South Korea and Thailand to intervene in the currency market, intensifying a ‘currency war,’” China’s commerce ministry said Monday. “In the mid-term, the U.S. dollar will continue to weaken and gaming between major currencies will escalate.”

The G20 summit meeting in London in April 2009 took an important step to create a new one-world currency through the International Monetary Fund that is designed to replace the dollar as the world’s foreign-exchange reserve currency of choice.

Point 19 of the final communique from the G20 summit in London on April 2, 2009, specified that, “We have agreed to support a general SDR which will inject $250 billion into the world economy and increase global liquidity,” taking the first steps forward to implement China’s proposal that Special Drawing Rights at the International Monetary Fund should be created as a foreign-exchange currency to replace the dollar.

SDRs are international reserve assets that are calculated by the IMF in a basket of major currencies that are allocated to the IMF 185 member nation-states in relation to the capital, largely in gold or widely accepted foreign currencies that the IMF member nation-states have on deposit with the IMF.

In the short-run, the Fed’s QE2 policy has boosted the Dow to a two-year high, trading last week over 11,500.

Unfortunately, any stimulus to the stock market will be temporary as QE2 merely creates a new bubble, much as the Fed helped create the mortgage bubble by keeping interest rates at 1 percent during 2003-2004.

Inevitably, the Fed will follow QE2 with QE3. Still, at some point the ability of the Fed to purchase U.S. debt will have to come to an end. So far, neither QE2 nor QE3 has done much to improve either employment prospects or the housing market.

Jerome R. Corsi received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling books THE OBAMA NATION: LEFTIST POLITICS AND THE CULT OF PERSONALITY and the co-author of UNFIT FOR COMMAND: SWIFT BOAT VETERANS SPEAK OUT AGAINST JOHN KERRY. He is also the author of AMERICA FOR SALE, THE LATE GREAT U.S.A., and WHY ISRAEL CAN’T WAIT. Currently, Dr. Corsi is a Senior Managing Director in the Financial Services Group at Gilford Securities as well as a senior staff writer for WorldNetDaily.com.

The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect Gilford Securities Incorporated’s views, opinions, positions or strategies. Gilford Securities Incorporated makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information expressed herein  and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.

The ongoing Tunisian Intifada (uprising) cannot yet quite be termed a revolution; Tunisians are still revolting, aspiring for bread and freedom. This Intifada will go in history as a revolution if it gets either bread or freedom and as a great revolution if it gets both. Internally, “the one constant in revolutions is the primordial role played by the army,” Jean Tulard, a French historian of revolutions, told Le Monde in an interview, and the Tunisian military seems so far forthcoming. Externally, the United States stands to be a critical contributor to either outcome in Tunisia, both because of its historical close relations with the Tunisian military and because of its regional hegemony and international standing as a world power, but the U.S. seems so far shortcoming.

While the Tunisian military has made a decision to side with its people, the United States has yet to decide what and whom to support among the revolting masses led by influential components like communists, Pan-Arabists, Islamists, left wingers, nationalists and trade unionists. The natural social allies of U.S. capitalist globalization, privatization and free market have been sidelined politically as partners and pillars of the deposed pro – U.S. Zein al-Abideen Ben Ali’s regime. The remaining pro – U.S. liberalism among Tunisians are overwhelmed by the vast majority of the unemployed, marginalized or underpaid who yearn for jobs, bread, balanced distribution of the national wealth and development projects more than they are interested in upper class western – oriented liberalism. Taken by surprise by the evolving political drama in Tunisia, the U.S. cannot by default contribute to a revolution for bread at a time its economic system is unable to provide for Americans themselves. However, it can play a detrimental role in contributing to a real Tunisian revolution for freedom by making an historic U-turn in its foreign policy. 

In June 2005, the then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told an Arab audience at the American University in Cairo that, “For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region — and we achieved neither.” But Rice did not elaborate to add that this same policy was and is still the main source of instability and the main reason for the absent democracy. Her successor incumbent Hillary Clinton has on January 13 in Qatar postured as the Barak Obama Administration’s mouthpiece on Arab human rights to lecture Arab governments on the urgent need for democratic reforms, warning that otherwise they will see their countries “sinking into the sand.” But Clinton missed to point out that her administration is still in pursuit of its predecessor’s advocacy of democracy through changing regimes in Arab and Muslim nations by means of military intervention, invasion and occupation, an endeavor that has proved a failure in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Israeli – occupied Palestinian territories, as well a policy that was and is still another source of regional instability and absence of democracy. 

The Tunisian Intifada has proved that democracy and regime change can be homemade, without any U.S. intervention. Ironically any such U.S. intervention now is viewed in the region as a threat of a counterrevolution that would preempt turning the Intifada into a revolution. U.S. hands-off policy could be the only way to democracy in Tunisia. But a hands-off policy is absolutely not a trade mark of U.S. regional foreign policy. However, the United States has a choice now in Tunisia, but it is a choice that pre-requisites a U – turn both in the U.S. approach to Arab democracy and in its traditional foreign policy. 

The U.S. risks to loose strategically in Tunisia unless it decides on an historic U – turn, because politically the Tunisian Intifada targeted a U.S. – supported regime and economically targeted a failed U.S. model of development. On November 13, 2007, Georgetown University Human Rights Institute and Law Center hosted a conference to answer the question, “Tunisia: A Model of Middle East Stability or an Incubator of Extremism?” But Tunisia now has given the answer: Tunisia is neither; it is an indigenous Arab way to democracy and moderation. 

Indeed the U.S. has now a choice in Tunisia. The Arab country which is leading the first Arab revolution for democracy is now a U.S. test case. Non – U.S. intervention would establish a model for other Arabs to follow; it would also establish a model U.S. policy that would over time make Arabs believe in any future U.S. rhetoric on democracy and forget all the tragic consequences of American interventions in the name of democracy. But this sounds more a wishful thinking than a realpolitik expectation. 

A U.S. long standing traditional policy seems to weigh heavily on its decision makers, who are obsessed with their own creation of the “Islamist threat” as their justification for their international war on terror, which dictates their foreign policy, especially vis – a vis Arab and Muslim states, to dictate a fait accompli to their rulers to choose between either being recruited to this war or being condemned themselves as terrorists or terrorism sponsors, and in this process exclusion policies should be pursued against wide spread representative Islamic movements. The U.S. perspective has always been that Arab Democracy could be sacrificed to serve U.S. vital interests and Arab democracy can wait! But the Tunisian Intifada has proved that Arab democracy cannot wait anymore. 

Exclusion of popular Islamic movements while at the same excluding democratic reforms until the war on terror is won has proved a looser U.S. policy. The U.S. exploitation of the “Islamist threat” now is not convincing for Arab aspirants for democracy, who still remember that during the Cold War with the former Soviet Union the U.S. exploited the “communist threat,” then “Pan-Arabism threat,” to shore up autocratic and authoritarian Arab regimes. In Tunisia, the prisons of the pro – U.S. regime were always full long before there was an Islamic political movement: “In the 1950s prisons were filled with Youssefites (loyal to Salah Ben Youssef, who broke away from Bourguiba’s ruling Constitutional Party); in the 60s it was the Leftists; in the 70s it was the trade unions; and in the 80s it was our turn,” leader in-exile of the outlawed Islamic Nahda movement, Rachid Ghannouchi, told the Financial Times on January 18.

 “When Nahda was in Tunisia … there was no al-Qaeda,” Ghannouchi said, reminding one that in the neighboring Algeria there was no al-Qaeda too before The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was outlawed. In the Israeli – occupied territories, outlawing and imposing siege on the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,” which won a landslide electoral victory in 2006, should be a warning that the only alternative to such moderate Islamic movements is for sure the extremist al-Qaeda like undergrounds. Jordan proved wiser than the U.S. decision makers by allowing the Islamic Action Front to compete politics lawfully. Recruiting fake Islamic parties to serve U.S. policies as the case is in Iraq has not proved feasible impunity against al-Qaeda. The United States has to reconsider. Exclusion of independent, moderate and non – violent Islamic representative movements, unless they succumb to U.S. dictates, has proved U.S. policy a failure. U.S. parameters for underground violent unrepresentative Islamists should not apply to these movements. 

The U.S. decision makers however still seem deaf to what Ghannouchi told the Financial Times: “Democracy should not exclude communists … it is not ethical for us to call on a secular government to accept us, while once we get to power we will eradicate them.” This is the voice of Arab homemade democracy; it has nothing to do with the U.S. – exported democracy. 

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

The Justice Department on Thursday charged a former CIA clandestine officer with leaking classified information about a secret U.S. effort to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, who served in the CIA between 1993 and 2002, was arrested by the FBI in St. Louis Thursday and charged in a 10-count indictment with disclosing national defense information and obstruction of justice. At his arraignment later in the day, U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry I. Adelman told him he would be detained through the weekend because the government had declared him a danger to the community. Another detention hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday.

The case involves the disclosure in Risen’s 2006 book, “State of War,” of a CIA program called “Operation Merlin.” Risen described it as a botched attempt under the Clinton administration to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program by giving flawed blueprints for key components to a Russian nuclear scientist who had defected. The idea was that the Russian scientist, who was covertly working for the CIA, would feed the flawed designs to the Iranians. But according to the book, the CIA’s efforts went awry when the scientist got nervous and instead tipped off the Iranians to the flaws in the designs. According to Risen, this ended up helping Iran “accelerate its weapon development.” The CIA has always insisted that Risen’s reporting was “inaccurate.”

The indictment essentially charges Sterling with leaking to Risen information about the Iranian program in retaliation for the handling of an employment discrimination case he filed against the CIA. It states that Sterling, who worked in the CIA between May 1993 and January 2002, had served for part of that time as the chief operations officer handling a “human asset” in a program related to the weapons capabilities of a foreign country.

Then in April 2003, according to the indictment, Risen contacted the CIA’s public affairs director to say that he planned to write a story about the classified program. That prompted U.S. government officials to meet with Risen and representatives of the Times about the “national security implications” of publishing such information. The Times never published Risen’s story. A senior government official familiar with the case told NBC that Condoleezza Rice, then national security advisor under President George W. Bush, was among those who urged the Times not to publish Risen’s information.

When faced with problems, most authoritarian regimes maintain a policy of rigidity when the appropriate response would be flexibility, political wisdom and concessions. This policy gives authoritarian leaders their ability to control their populations to serve the interests of a few individuals and political and military elites. It can also, however, usher their downfall, for populations can only be oppressed, controlled and punished to a point.

President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, who controlled his population with an iron fist since his arrival to the presidential palace in 1987, must have crossed that point. He was forced to flee the country amid the angry chants of thousands of Tunisians, fed up with growing unemployment, soaring inflation, government corruption, violent crackdowns and lack of political freedom. These mounting frustrations led to relentless protests throughout the country.  The government’s subsequent crackdowns only stirred emotions beyond any crowd control strategy, and eventually Ben Ali’s plane left to seek refuge outside his own country.

The upheaval in Tunisia is certainly worthy of all the headlines, media commentary and official statements it has generated. But many of these reactions contain generalizations that hype expectations, worsen an already terrible situation and provoke misguided policies. Indeed, the current political storm, dubbed both the “Youth Intifada” and the “Jasmine Revolution”, has inspired many interpretations. Some commentators wished to see the popular uprising as a prelude to an essentially anti-Arab regimes phenomenon that will strike elsewhere as well, while others placed it within a non-Arab context, noting that popular uprisings are growing in countries that struggle with rising food prices. Even al-Qaeda had a take on the situation, trying to score points to find a place in the looming political void.

Many commentators have focused on the Arab identity of Tunisia to find correlations elsewhere.  Hadeel al-Shalchi’s Associated Press article “Arab activists hope Tunisia uprising brings change,” presented the uprising within an Arab context. Reporting from Cairo, she wrote of the growing optimism among those whom she dubbed “Arab activists” that other Arab leaders will share the fate of Ben Ali if they don’t ease their grip on power. Hossam Bahgat is one such activist. He told AP, “I feel like we are a giant step closer to our own liberation… What’s significant about Tunisia is that literally days ago the regime seemed unshakeable, and then eventually democracy prevailed without a single Western state lifting a finger.”

True, both Tunisia and Egypt are Arab countries with many similarities, but expecting a repeat of a scenario that was uniquely Tunisian and implicitly suggesting that Western states serve as harbingers of democracy is illusory, to stay the least.

Now that Ben Ali is out of the picture, Western governments are cautiously lining up behind the Tunisian uprising, but hardly with the same enthusiasm of their support of the Iranian riots of June 2009. British Foreign Secretary William Hague merely denounced the unrest, calling for “restraint from all sides.” He stated, “I condemn the violence and call on the Tunisian authorities to do all they can to resolve the situation peacefully.” US President Barack Obama added, “I urge all parties to maintain calm and avoid violence, and call on the Tunisian government to respect human rights, and to hold free and fair elections in the near future.”

Clichéd statements aside, both the US and the UK must fear the repercussions of a popular uprising in an area so close to the heart of American-British interests in the Middle East. Both countries are careful not to appear to oppose democratic reforms, even if they are forced to disown their friends in the region. Their response is largely representative of official responses from many Western capitals – the very capitals that lauded Tunisia as a model for how Arab countries can help win the war on terror.

One must not let confusing media headlines sideline the fact that neither the US nor the UK had Tunisia on their radar for circumventing democracy or violating human rights. Ben Ali was celebrated as an icon of moderation, notwithstanding his atypical Arab stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ben Ali’s authoritarian regime was not the type that required much chastising. It was the benign kind that allowed a tiny space for secular opposition while cracking down on any Islamic opposition group. For 23 years, such practice was barely problematic, for it served the interests of both Ben Ali and various Western powers. The countless calls for respect of human rights from international and local organizations were mostly unheeded. Washington and London rarely found that irksome.

Now that the Tunisian people’s fight for rights has taken a sharp turn, many of us find it difficult to examine the specific context of this case without delving into dangerous generalizations. Western governments now speak of democracy in the region – as if there were ever a genuine concern; commentators speak of the next regime to fall – as if every Arab country is a duplication of another; and technology bloggers are celebrating another ‘twitter revolution.’

Perhaps generalizations make things more interesting. Tunisia, after all, is a small country, and most people know little about it aside from the fact that it’s a cheap tourist destination – thus the need to place it within a more gripping context. Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is using the opportunity to read the Tunisian uprising in a unique way. The AQIM leader, Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, has called for the overthrowing of the “corrupt, criminal and tyrannical” regimes in both Tunisia and Algeria and the instatement of al-Sharia law. This call has promoted American commentators to warn of the future Islamization of Tunisia and will likely result in Western intervention to ensure that another “moderate” regime succeeds the one that just fled.

There is no harm in expanding a popular experience to understand the world at large and its conflicts. But in the case of Tunisia, it seems that the country is largely understood within a multilayer of contexts, thus becoming devoid of any political, cultural or socio-economic uniqueness. Understanding Tunisia as just another “Arab regime”, another possible podium for al-Qaeda’s violence, is convenient but also unhelpful to any cohesive understanding of the situation there and the events that are likely to follow.

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

‘The Army of Crime’: Immigration and Identity

January 21st, 2011 by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

Because the truth is, today’s immigrants, as they have for generation after generation, work the longest hours at the hardest jobs for the lowest pay, jobs that are just about impossible to fill. Luis Gutierrez

All over the world the question of immigration is a vexing one as is it brings into sharp relief questions of nationhood and identity for the people of the countries experiencing immigration.

The Geneva-based intergovernmental body, the International Organization for Migration stated in its 4th World Migration Report that there are more than 200 million migrants around the world today. The report said that in 2005 Europe hosted the largest number of immigrants, with 70.6 million people and North American, with over 45.1 million immigrants, is second, followed by Asia, which hosts nearly 25.3 million. The report also stated that most of today’s migrant workers come from Asia, and demographic data suggests that by 2030, China and India will provide 40 percent of the global work force. [1] 

According to the United Nations International Migration Report 2006: A Global Assessment:

In 2004, official migrant remittances amounted to US$ 226 billion, US$ 145 billion of which went to developing countries. Remittances sent back to the home country by migrants are a major source of foreign exchange earnings for some countries and are an important addition to the gross domestic product. [2] 

Immigration has often been described in terms of push and pull factors. Push factors can be to escape from poverty and the availability of jobs is a pull factor. Other push factors can be to escape oppression, persecution, dictatorship and war.

Immigrants make huge contributions to cultural, economic and political life despite the recent negative associations with terrorism, national security and unemployment. Immigrants bring variety to cultures that have been closed through tradition or narrow nationalism. The presence of immigrants also stirs up questions of national identity in the peoples of their new homeland and this in turn is reflected in culture.

In cinema, the effects of globalisation have become so strong that a developing concept of Transnational cinema has sought a redefinition or even a refutation of the concept of national cinema as production, funding and distribution increasingly supersede national borders. As communities become increasingly fragmented in terms of ethnicity, social class, gender and political belief, the influence and role of immigrants becomes more salient. In cinema, immigrant groups often initially serve as a social or political foil but which is then soon turned on its head as other aspects of immigrant culture come into play. 

Immigration and cinema

In recent years three films Gangs of New York (2002), Gran Torino (2008), and The Army of Crime (French: L’Armée du crime) (2009) have looked at the issue of immigration from different perspectives that show the trials, sufferings and ultimately sacrifice of immigrants in their new homeland. In Gangs of New York many of the newly arriving Irish rapidly become canon fodder for the American Civil War or else fight it out with other immigrants for survival. In Gran Torino a conservative widower gradually comes to understand and empathise with the culture of his Hmong neighbours.  In The Army of Crime a group of immigrants take up the fight against Nazi occupation in France and pay the ultimate price for their adopted country.

Gangs of New York 

My whole family has been having trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country. Edgar Y. Harburg

Gangs of New York is a 2002 American historical crime film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. It was directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan. The film begins in 1846 and quickly jumps to the early 1860s. The two principal issues of the era in New York were Irish immigration to the city and the Federal government’s execution of the Civil War. The story follows Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) in his roles as crime boss and political kingmaker under the helm of Boss Tweed (Jim Broadbent). The film culminates in a confrontation between Cutting and his mob with the protagonist Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his immigrant allies, which coincides with the New York Draft Riots of 1863. [3]

An extraordinary mise-en-scène shot that almost serves as a mini film within the film tells the story of the fate of many new arrivals into New York in a time of civil war in America.  In one long shot the story of many Irish men was told, from their arrival in America to their tragic end in the land that they had hoped would fulfil all their hopes and dreams.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio in Miramax's Gangs of New York - 2002

Bill (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Gangs of New York (2002) [4]

The scene starts with Bill and Amsterdam turning their backs as Bill responds, “Not our future” to the Boss Tweed who has just claimed that they were turning their backs on the future i.e. the political and economic potential of the new immigrants. The camera then pans to the left as the new Irish immigrants who have just got off one ship from Ireland are queuing up at the recruiter’s harbour table where they are sworn in to the army.

Army Recruiter: That document makes you a citizen, and this one makes you a private in the Union army. Now go fight for your country.

A song is overlaid on the scene sung by a woman with the following lyrics:

Irish Singer: [singing] Well, meself and a hundred more, to America sailed o’er, with our fortunes to be made, so we were thinkin’ / When we got to Yankee land, they shoved a gun into our hands / Saying “Paddy, you must go and fight for Lincoln.”/ There is nothing here but war, where the murderin’ cannons roar, and I wish I was back home in dear old Dublin.

The camera pans following the new recruits as they move on up to one who is changing his Irish cap for a soldier’s cap. Others are getting into the uniform in assembly line fashion as another recruiter puts a gun into their hands. They then get into another line fully kitted out moving slowly towards another gangway for the ship that will take them to the war. Two soldiers can be heard conversing:

Irish Immigrant: Where we goin’?

Another Immigrant: I heard Tennessee.

Irish Immigrant: Where’s that?

The camera then slowly pans along the new recruits as family members, possibly his wife and daughter, run up to one new soldier. A girl with red hair talks to another worried- looking soldier. As they start up the gangway another soldier asks:

Irish Soldier: Do they feed us now do you think?

[Earlier in the film new recruits were promised three square meals a day if they joined up].

As they move slowly up the gangway the camera cranes up higher and we can see soldiers sitting around on the ship waiting. Just then a coffin comes into view [with the number 61 stuck to it] as it is lifted with ropes by a crane in the direction of the quays. The coffin flies over the heads of the line of recruits and more coffins come into view for the first time. Soon we see two rows of 10 coffins each neatly laid out and being inspected by soldiers. Two workers carry one of the coffins past the line of new recruits [who don’t seem to notice it] and up the quay presumably to a graveyard. At this point there is a cut to a presentation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

This whole mise-en-scène shot lasts one minute and eight seconds.

Quay scene: Life and death. The new recruits line up on the left in Gangs of New York (2002) [5]

Historical and political ironies

Of the many ironies in this scene two stand out. In a slightly earlier scene the politician says:

Boss Tweed: That’s the building of our country right there, Mr. Cutting. Americans aborning.

They may be new American citizens but the scene on the docks starts with the idea of birth and ends with death symbolised by the rows of coffins revealing the way many immigrants were seen as cannon fodder for a war they knew nothing about. Their basic desires for acceptance and food led them to a fate they were scarcely aware of.

Continuing the above dialogue, Bill, a Protestant, states his view of the Irish bluntly:

Bill: I don’t see no Americans. I see trespassers, Irish harps. Do a job for a nickel what a nigger does for a dime and a white man used to get a quarter for. What have they done? Name one thing they’ve contributed.

Boss Tweed: Votes.

Bill: Votes, you say? They vote how the archbishop tells them, and who tells the archbishop? Their king in the pointy hat what sits on his throne in Rome.

The second irony here is that Bill sees them in religious terms and feels no solidarity or empathy for their plight as victims of British colonial policy back in Ireland despite the fact that Bill’s own father also suffered at the hands of the British:

Bill: My father gave his life, making this country what it is. Murdered by the British with all of his men on the twenty fifth of July, Anno Domini, 1814. Do you think I’m going to help you befoul his legacy, by giving this country over to them, what’s had no hand in the fighting for it? Why, because they come off a boat crawling with lice and begging you for soup?

Another irony here is that the Irish immigrants were queuing up to fight and die for their new home despite not knowing very much about the issues involved and had just come off a boat ‘crawling with lice’ and begging for soup. Their lack of awareness is emphasised by the fact that they don’t seem to notice or question the array of coffins on the quay that they are walking past. They seem blissfully unaware that they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire in their relief and excitement of having finally arrived in America.

Of course, Bill was right when he said that the immigrants were not part of his future as the reign of the gangs in New York was eventually overtaken by a unified state and built up on the backs of the many immigrants who would pour in for many years to come.

Gran Torino

The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.Noam Chomsky

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed, produced and starring Clint Eastwood. The story follows a Polish American, Walt Kowalski, a retired Ford automobile assembly line worker and recently widowed Korean War veteran who is alienated from his family and angry at the world. [6]

A Hmong family moves in next door and Walt refuses to have any dealings with them. Then Walt’s young Hmong neighbor, Thao, tries to steal Walt’s prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino on a dare by his cousin for initiation into a gang. Walt develops a relationship with the boy and his family. Their strong sense of community values and openness towards him has a profound affect on Walt. They insist that Thao makes reparations for his misdeed and at the same time invite Walt into their Hmong family gatherings where he is treated as one of the family. Initially embarrassed by their kindness and food offerings he begins to reflect on the values of his own family. Although he is not an easy person to get on with Walt is disappointed that his sons are far too busy to see him, his grandchildren are selfish and spoilt and, in general, they seem more interested in getting him into a retirement community.

Sue (Ahney Her) and Walt (Clint Eastwood) in Gran Torino (2008) [7]

Gradually Walt’s attitude shifts from resentment towards his poor Asian immigrant neighbours to one of empathy and support for the underdog. The gang beat up Thao for failing to rob the car and Walt steps in threatening to kill the gang if they didn’t leave Thao alone. However, the gang’s response is to attack Thao’s house in a drive-by shooting and rape his sister.

Walt realises that Thao’s family would never be safe with the gang around and devises a plan to get the gang to commit another serious crime. This time there would be plenty of witnesses and they would be put in prison for a long time but Walt sacrifices his own life in the process.

 Photo for 'Gran Torino: Eastwood's Film About Hmong Immigrants'

The Hmong Vang Lor family and Walt (Clint Eastwood) in Gran Torino (2008) [8]

While there are many conservative aspects to Gran Torino, the film uses an elderly protagonist and a minority community to great effect showing how racial stereotypes and negative attitudes can be overcome. It also shows how human values can transcend national identity particularly as Walt’s own family were once immigrants from Poland.

The Army of Crime (French: L’Armée du crime)

The most superficial student of Roman history must be struck by the extraordinary degree in which the fortunes of the republic were affected by the presence of foreigners, under different names, on her soil. Henry James Sumner Maine

The Army of Crime (French: L’Armée du crime) is a 2009 French drama-war film directed by Robert Guédiguian and based on a story by Serge Le Péron, one of three credited for the screenplay. It received a wide release in France on September 16, 2009 and opened in the United States in 2010.

The film deals with the events of the Affiche Rouge (“red poster”) affair. The title was taken from the caption on a propaganda poster, in which the Nazis sought to present prominent resistance fighters as foreign criminals. The caption read “Liberators? Liberation by the army of crime”.

Affiche Rouge (“red poster”) [9]

In Paris during the German occupation, an ill-assorted group of resistance fighters commits disorganized attacks. Its membership included 22 men: eight Poles, five Italians, three Hungarians, two Armenians, a Spaniard, and three French; and one woman, who was Romanian. Eleven were also Jewish.

The film traces the story of this group, from its shaping to the execution of its members in 1944. Missak Manouchian, an Armenian exile, was ready to help but reluctant to kill; for him, being ready to die but not to kill was an ethical matter. However, circumstances led him to abandon his reluctance and under his leadership, the group structured and planned its guerrilla actions. [10]

 

Missak Manouchian (Simon Abkarian ) [centre] in The Army of Crime (2009) [11]

At a gathering for the group, Manouchian’s toast reminds us of his old and new identities:

Today is the anniversary of the Soviet Armenia. I remember my father killed by Turkish soldiers, my mother who died of grief and the brother I loved so much. I’m an orphan like all the other Armenian victims but I’m lucky because you’re all here, because you have become my family. A family of fighters to confront the occupier! Long live France! Long live Armenia! Long live the ILO!

However, the French police follow the group and eventually through torture find and capture the members. The film ends with the group being brought off to their execution by the Nazis.

The Manouchian group in The Army of Crime (2009) [12]

The attempt by the Nazis to portray the Manouchian group as terrorists backfired when ‘Morts pour la France’ (They died for France) was written beneath some of the Affiche Rouge posters. The complexity of national identity is revealed in the ironies of a group of foreign immigrants fighting for the freedom of France from its Nazi occupiers being captured and tortured by French police. The importance of this lesson is not lost on Arsène Tchakarian, who, at ninety-three years of age is the last living member of the Manouchian group (along with Henri Karahian). When asked, in an interview by Gérard Devienne, if the story contained in the film is important today, he replied:

One should know history so that the memory of what happened is not lost. That’s why I have already visited nearly 220 schools and given dozens of lectures, so that people might know the historical truth and can make it their own. An educational film, in the making of which I was involved, concerning the part played by emigrants in the resistance, is ready for release and will be shown in schools and colleges. [13]

 Memorial to the Manouchian Group [14]

 Role and influence of immigrants

As the world becomes more globalised and boundaries of national identity become more and more confused and diffused the role and influence of immigrants will also become more complex. As the above three films have shown immigrants can play many different roles, both conscious and unconscious, in the future of all our societies.

Notes:

[1] http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2008Dec02/0,4670,EUWorldMigrationReport,00.html

[2] http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2006_MigrationRep/exec_sum.pdf

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangs_of_New_York

[4] http://www.fanpix.net/0646236/012027172/gangs-of-new-york-2002-picture.html

[5] http://www.dvdactive.com/reviews/dvd/gangs-of-new-york4.html

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gran_Torino

[7] http://betterangelsnow.com/post/135/8/gran-torino.html

[8] http://www.asiapacificforum.org/show-detail.php?show_id=139

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Affiche_rouge.jpg

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Army_of_Crime

[11] http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/movies/20army.html

[12] http://www.culch.ie/2009/10/02/army-of-crime-review/

[13] http://www.humaniteinenglish.com/spip.php?article1332

[14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiche_Rouge

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is a prominent Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of drawings and paintings and features cityscapes of Dublin, images based on Irish history and other work with social/political themes (http://gaelart.net/). He is also developing a blog database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world. These paintings can be viewed country by country on his blog at http://gaelart.blogspot.com/.

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”  - Frantz Fanon

“Killing One Person Is MURDER–Killing 100,000 Is FOREIGN POLICY.”  – Anonymous

The United States of America is, in reality, a one-party corporatist state whose very existence is, more than ever, perpetuated by a conscious deliberate denial of reality, even in the face of the obvious.

This nation’s internal and external political, economic, and military policies have nothing whatever to do with “democracy,” “justice,” or “human rights;” and everything to do with exploitation, hegemony, deceit, and control of the many–by the fewNo amount of rationalization can change or ameliorate this fact.

Everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this actual one-party U.S. corporatist state are the de facto cannon fodder of the corporate / military Democratic and Republican Party foxes and wolves respectively. Moreover, it is utterly absurd and delusionary to expect “hope” to bring about much-needed systemicchange.” The time is here for the people of this nation to dispense with myths, face reality, and change it.

Corporations are in constant covert (and often unabashed overt) control of the White House, the congress, and the judiciary, even as this nation’s infrastructure deteriorates and living standards plummet–along with decent living wages and opportunities for everyday people. The two Rs–Rhetoric and Repression–are what the masses of everyday people are the daily recipients. Meanwhile, the corporate elite of corporations including Honeywell, General Electic, Lockheed, Boeing, and so very many more– rake in billions upon billions of dollars in blood money as they develop and perfect ever more sinister and devastatingly hideous devices and killing machines–to the scourge of humankind and the entire planet.  There is no war (declared or undeclared) that the corporate / military elite do not support–for whether any war itself is won or lost–this avaricious corporate / military  elite wins. They smugly and arrogantly wrap themselves in apparent political expediency under the cover of grotesquely distorted patriotism–sanctimoniously financially enriching themselves–while bathing in the precious irreplaceable blood of everyday people of this nation and that of people around the globe. This is the corporate trough from which the politicians of this nation drink and to which they are beholden.

With over 800 U.S. military bases / installations throughout this planet–the amoral symbiotic relationship between corporations and politicains in this nation (including the judiciary and ever-compliant corporate-stream “news” media) reeks with the stench of hypocrisy, injustice, subterfuge, and death. As the present robotic, black-faced, corporate / military, nominal head of the U.S. empire shamelessly wages military wars abroad while facilitating repression against political dissenters and against any possibility of having informed, honest, and real dialouge at home; the hypocrisy of ‘America’s’ so called democracy is self evident whether or not people choose to see the obvious.

Then of course there are the blatant right-wingers who cling to their own form of blind insanity and denial in search of yesterday; followed closely by the “liberals” who stand for absolutely nothing other than lofty rhetoric and the ultimate continuation of this hypocrisy which they call democracy. For example, over two years ago, the rhetoric of “liberals” loudly questioned the correctness of George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.–but quickly turned a blind, complicitous eye to the widening of these very same bloody wars by Barack Obama.  Once more, the hypocrisy is self evident.  Both the blatant right-wing and the so-called “liberals” have one very important thing in common: They both support the maintenance and perpetuation of the U.S. corporate / military empire,  only differing with one another in how this is to be done.  Neither camp seriously questions or opposes, the validity of or right to, world world hegemony by the U.S. corporate / military elite. Indeed, this nation continues to have a 21st century form of the ‘Manifest Destiny,’ which led to the brutal genocide of the Indigenous Red peoples on this continent–all in the distorted name of God, patriotism, and “civilization.” Very little of substance has changed today. In fact the U.S. corporate / military elite has actively pushed the people of this nation and world backwards–once again, in the name of “progress.”

There can be no viable appeal to reason when the obvious is so studiously ignored. Thus, the need to intensify in our efforts to educate, agitate, and organize with and among everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people.

This ‘American’ democracy is a terrible hypocrisy and a bloody sham. Only by consciously breaking away from the imagined comfort zone of mental stupor that many people find themselves in can we collectively and uncompromisingly bring about real systemic change. This struggle for human rights and economic and political justice is a local, national, and international in scope. It is linked to the struggle of everyday peoples around the world. And comfortable people don’t make change. The mental-stupor comfort zone must be shattered in order to step into reality and collectively change it.

Justice for the people of Haiti! Justice for the people of Tunisia!  Justice for the people of      South Africa! Justice for the people of France, Germany, Greece, Iceland and Spain! Justice for the everyday people of the United States of America! Justice for students and workers!       Justice for the peoples of the world! Visualize a world free of corporate / military domination!   Visualize it and struggle to make it real.

We must end this hypocrisy in ‘America,’ and in the words of Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again!” Let it be the ‘America’ of and for everyday people in harmony with everyday people of the world–of our Mother Earth, for she calls to us and we must answer!

Onward my sisters and brothers! Onward!

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book). Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.

Invasion Of Ivory Coast Imminent?

January 21st, 2011 by John Momoh

Is Attack On Ivorian Gbagbo Imminent?

Freetown: The majority of the heads of the various armed forces of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have, in an extraordinary meeting in Bamako – the Malian capital – adopted a resolution to depose incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo from power by force.

The objective of the meeting was to make a follow-up to previous ECOWAS military chiefs meetings in December last year during which they unanimously decided to remove the intransigent Ivorian leader from power by force if mediation efforts to convince him to willingly step down fail to achieve fruitful results.

In this regards the current rotating chairman of the ECOWAS Authority, Nigerian President Goodluck E. Jonathan, dispatched a high level ECOWAS leaders delegation comprised of the presidents of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone on the 27th of December, 2010 with an ultimatum to Gbagbo in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital where he resides in the presidential palace, to step down in exchange for certain incentives such as the guarantee of his security, financial guarantees and a safe exit to a country of his choice.

Discussions were also held with his rival Dr. Alassane Ouattara, whose parallel government is recognized by the international community… ..

Up to yesterday the ECOWAS military heads enumerated a number of challenges that may seem to thwart the planned invasion. Ghana, a neighbouring country to the Ivory Coast, has issued a communiqué dissociating itself from any ECOWAS attempt to topple Gbagbo from power by force in view of the cultural and historical ties between the two countries and fears of reprisals and witch-hunting against the large number of Ghanaians residing in that country.

Nigeria, which played a principal role in peacekeeping efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone, has not been very enthusiastic about any planned military intervention. In the words of President Goodluck Jonathan, he views the use of force as only necessary after exploring every dialogue and peaceful avenue. Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Mali and Togo are expected to participate, while Niger is still to confirm. A line up of about 20,000 troops are the estimate to guarantee the success of the mission although contributing countries have indicated that they can only afford about 3,000 troops.

Given the experience gained from the military operations of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping force headed by Nigeria against the interests of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front (NPFL) rebel forces in Liberia….

It takes not only the political will needed from ECOWAS leaders but also billions of dollars annually to keep combat forces in the field. In assembling troops for the invasion of Liberia, it took the personal interest of President Ibrahim Babangida to dispatch Nigerian combat troops, ships, cargo-planes and military helicopters which were initially stationed in Freetown where the participating troops went through initial training for the invasion.

The Ivory Coast is one of the largest countries in West Africa with a population of about 16 million and…well-equipped military forces, comprising ground forces, air forces and the navy. In fact several West African French-speaking states have been using the Ivorian military’s training facilities. This is why there is a need to draw up a clear plan and an overview of the military situation in the country before venturing to invade and establish to power…Alassane Ouattara.
….
The reason why some ECOWAS member states are dragging feet on the issue of military intervention is because if a United Nations air and naval embargo is placed on the Ivory Coast thereby hampering that country’s export capability and an eventual military victory to achieve the objective of deposing Gbagbo…the democratically elected government of President Ouattara, the consequences can be serious in financial and material terms as well as in the loss of human lives.
….
Gbagbo has clearly stated his position that the country’s Constitutional Council, which has the mandate to approve the results released by the National Electoral Commission certified and approved him as the winner at the polls after releasing parallel results….

http://www.afriquej et.com/news/ africa-news/ burkina-faso- will-take- part-in-possible -use-of-force- against-gbagbo- 2011012068104. html

Die Balkanisierung der Sudan und Nord Afrika

January 21st, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Die Balkanisierung des Sudan – Das Neuzeichnen des Nahen Osten und Nordafrika

Ursprünglich im 16. Januar 2011 veröffentlicht.

Der Yinon Plan oder eine israelische Strategie

Die Ergebnis war vorausgesagt, das Referendum über die Unabhängigkeit der Ölreichen Sudsudan ist ein Teil eine tieferen politische Programm, daß nicht mit Menschenrechte zu tun hat. Die wirkliche Frage, ist nicht ob, aber wer schürt die Flamme der Konflikt und der Gewalt in Sudan. Der Experte seht einen Zusammenhang zwischen der sudanesischen Referendum und andere sich entwickelnde Prozessen in der Region, welche verdeutlichen die sich überdeckenden Interessen der USA und Israel politische Programm, die sich auf der Kontrolle der Energie Ressourcen der Region und die darauffolgende Balkanisierung von Ost-Afrika und der arabische Welt. Die Sezession des Süd-Sudan bringt sie einen Schritt naher an ihr Ziel.
 
Die Balkanisierung des Sudan

Laut einigen Analysen, konnte Sudan entlang diese Linien in ein paar Monate aufgeteilt werden. Sudan ist ein vielfältiges Land, daß durch ihre Pluralität von Stämme. Clans, Ethnien und religiösen Gruppen, Afrika am besten repräsentiert. Doch die Einheit der Sudan wird in Frage gestellt, während man spricht von Zusammenführung von Nationen um eines Tages die Vereinigte Staate von Afrika durch die Afrikanische Union zu erreichen.

Am Rampenlicht ist auf Januar 2011 Referendum im Sudsudan. Die Obama-Administration hat offiziell angekündigt, daß die Trennung das Sudsudan von Rest des Sudans unterstützt.

Der Balkanisierung des Sudans ist das, was wirklich auf dem Spiel steht. Seit Jahren, die Führer und Persönlichkeiten von Sudsudan wurden von Amerika und der europäischen Union hofiert und unterstützt.

Die Politisch Motivierte Dämonisierung des Sudans

Ein großer Dämonisierung Kampagne wurde gegen der Sudan und seine Regierung im Gange gesetzt.

Wahr ist, daß der sudanesische Regierung in Khartoum einer schlechte Ruf in Bezug auf Menschenrechte und Staat-Korruption hat und man kann es nicht rechtfertigen. Man muß sich Fragen , warum die USA/EU so gezielt Sudan-Menschenrechtsituation von US-Allierten, gesponsert- oder protegierten Staat wie z.B. Saudi-Arabien, Ägypten und die U.A.E. – Vereinigte Arabische Emirate und Äthiopien beiläufig ignoriert werden.

Khartoum wurde als autokratische Oligarchie wurde der gezielte Völkermord in Darfour und Südsudan angeklagt. Die gezielte fokussieren auf Blutvergießen und Instabilität in Darfur ist politisch und motiviert durch die Beziehungen von Sudan mit der chinesischen Öl-Interessen. Sudan liefert China eine erhebliche Menge an Öl. Die geopolitischen Rivalität zwischen China und den USA für die Kontrolle der afrikanischen und weltweiten Energieversorgung ist der eigentlicher Grund für die Strafe des Sudans und die starke Unterstützung durch die USA, der EU und Israel für die Sezession des Süd-Sudans.

Es ist in diesem Kontext, daß die chinesischen Interessen angegriffen wurden. Dies beinhaltet der Angriff, daß in Oktober 2006 an der Greater Nile Petroleum Company in Defra, Kordofan durchgeführt wurde, seiten der Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Miliz.

Die Entesllung bzw Verfälschung der Gewalt in Sudan

Zwar gibt es eine humanitäre Krise in Darfour und einen Anstieg der regionalen Nationalismus und Südsudan haben die Ursachen, daß diesen Konflikt zu Grunde stehen, verzerrt und manipuliert. Die Ursache für die humanitäre Krise in Darfur und einen Anstieg der regionalen Nationalismus in Südsudan sind eng mit wirtschaftlichen und strategischen Interessen verbunden. Die Gesetzlosigkeit und wirtschaftliche Problemen, wurden durch Interventionen von Fremde Kräften angeheizt.

USA, der EU und Israel sind direkt oder durch Proxys in Afrika, die Hauptschuldige oder der Architekten hinter die Kämpfe und Instabilität in beiden Darfour und die Südsudan. Diese fremde Mächte haben assistiert und mitgespielt in der Ausbildung, Finanzierung, Bewaffnung der Milizen und Streitkräften gegen die Sudanesische Regierung in Sudan. Sie haben der sudanesische Regierung die Schuld zugeschrieben für aller Gewalt in der Region, während sie selbst Konflikten anheizen um die Kontrollen über die Energieressourcen der Sudan zu übernehmen. Die Teilung der Sudan in mehreren Staaten ist Teil dieses Ziels.

Die Anstrengungen der USA, der EU und Israel mit der Unterstützung der JEM, der Südsudan Liberation Army (SSLA) und anderen Milizen gegen der Sudanesische Regierung sind an dem Ziel der Sudan zu teilen gerichtet.

Es ist kein Zufall, daß seit Jahren die USA, UK, Frankreich und die gesamte EU mit dem Vorwand humanitäre Gründen, haben sie zu der Stationierung von Truppen in Sudan gedrängt. Sie haben sich aktiv für der Einsatz von NATO-Truppen in Sudan unter der Deckmantel ein UN-Friedentruppen bemüht.

Das ist eine Re-Inszenierung der gleichen Verfahren von der USA und der EU in anderen Regionen eingesetzt in deren Länder entweder formell oder informell aufgeteilt wurden und ihre Wirtschaftsstrukturen durch Proxy- Regierungen oder Truppenstationierung nach der Wünsche der Meister umstrukturiert wurden. Das ist mit der Teilung Jugoslawien, durch die Schaffung mehrerer neuer Republiken und in anglo-amerikanisch besetzte Irak, (durch weiche Balkanisierung über eine berechnete Form des Föderalismus auf die Schaffung eines schwach und dezentralisierten Staat gerichtet). Ausländische Truppen und ausländische Präsenz haben die Verschleierung der staatliche Abbau und die ausländische Übernahme der staatlichen Infrastruktur Ressourcen und Wirtschaft zu Verfügung gestellt.

Die Frage der Identität in Sudan

Während der sudanesische Staat als repressiv gegenüber dargestellt wurde, sollen man sich anmerken, daß sowohl das Referendum und die Teilung der Macht der sudanesische Regierung ganz andere aussieht als dargestellt wird. Machtteilung zwischen Omar Al-Bashir der President des Sudans und der Anführer der SPLM, Salv Kir Mayardit ist der Erste Vizepräsident des Sudans und President von Süd-Sudan.

Die Frage der ethnischen Zugehörigkeit ist auch an der Spitze der regionalen oder ethno-regionalen Nationalismus, wurde in Süd-Sudan gepflegt und die Spaltung in Sudan zwischen sogenannten arabische Sudanesen und sogenannten afrikanische Sudanesen wurde in der Außenwelt als wichtige Kraft für die regionale Nationalismus verkauft und als treibende Kraft für die Regional Souveränität von Süd-Sudan vorgestellt.

Im Laufe der Jahre wurde diese Differenzierung, von der Kollektive Psyche übernommen und sozialisiert. Dennoch sind die Unterschiede zwischen die afrikanische und die sogenannten arabische Sudanesen nicht groß. Die arabische Identität der sogenannten sudanesische Araber beruht hauptsächlich in der Benutzung der arabischer Sprache. Lassen sie uns auch davon ausgehen, daß bei sudanesischen Identität völlig getrennt sind. Trotz alledem ist aber bekannt, daß in Sudan die beide Gruppen gemischt sind.

Der andere Unterschied zwischen Süd-Sudan und der Rest der Sudan ist, daß der Islam in übrigen Sudan herrscht, aber nicht in Süd-Sudan. Beide Gruppen sind noch immer tief miteinander verbunden, außer für ein Gefühl von Selbst-Identifikation, die ihr gutes Recht ist zu besitzen. Doch ist auf diese verschiedenen Identitäten, daß die lokale Führer und die fremden Mächten spielen um die Menschen gegenseitig zu Fremde zu machen.

Vernachlässigung der regionalen Bevölkerung von verschiedenen Regionen durch die Eliten des Sudan ist der Grund von Angst und Feindseligkeiten zwischen der Menschen in Süd-Sudan mit der Regierung in Khartoum und nicht die Unterschiede zwischen sogenannten arabischen und afrikanischen Sudan.

Regionale Günstlingwirtschaft trieb sein wesen in Süd-Sudan

Die Frage wird auch nach Sozial Klasse verstärkt. Die Menschen in Süd-Sudan glauben, daß wenn eine neue Republik entsteht auch ihre wirtschaftlichen Status und den Lebensstandard verbessern wurden. Die Regierung in Khartoum und nicht die Süd-Sudanesen Verantwortlichen, wird als Sündenbock für dem wirtschaftliche Elend der Region gemacht. Die lokale Führer werden die Situation für die Bevölkerung Süd-Sudan nicht ändern, sondern einen Wirtschaft pflegen, die nur die Wirtschaftinteressen der regierenden und ihre Proxys zugunsten kommen wird und damit ein Status Quo instituiert.

Die Langjährige Projekt zu Balkanisierung Sudan und die Verbindung zu Arabische Welt

In Wirklichkeit hat die Balkanisierung-Projekt im Sudan seit dem Ende der britischen Kolonialherrschaft schon angefangen. Sudan und Ägypten waren eins in verschiedenen geschichtliche Perioden. Beide, Ägypten und Sudan waren ein Land bis 1956.

Bis zur Unabhängigkeiten des Sudan,  gab eine Bewegung die beide Länder zusammenhalten wollte als ein einiges arabische Staat, die aber gegen britischen Interessen waren.

London aber anheizte der sudanesische Regionalismus gegen Ägypten in der gleiche Weise, daß jetzt benutzt worden sind die angebliche Differenzen zwischen Sudan und Süd-Sudan. Die ägyptische Regierung, wurde seinerzeit wie der Ausbeuter von Sudan wie zu heutigen Tagen der Sudanesische Regierung dargestellt worden ist gegenüber Süd-Sudan.

Nach der Invasion Ägypten und Sudan, die Briten haben geschafft ihre Truppen in Sudan beizubehalten. Die Briten, wenn schon intrigierten Ägypten und Sudan zu trennen, arbeiten auch schon durch Interne Differenzen,  Sudan und Süd-Sudan zu spalten. Das wurde durch die anglo-ägyptische Condominium (Gemeinsame-Herrschaft) erreicht. Von 1899 bis 1956 Ägypten wurde, aufgrund der Mahdi Aufstand, gezwungen die Herrschaft über Sudan zu teilen. Letzen Ende, Ägypten weigert sich die Abkommen anzuerkennen bzw. die Condominium Abkommen zwischen Ägypten und Sudan als juristische Legal anzuerkennen.

Kairo fragte ständig die Briten, ihre illegale Besetzung Sudan zu beenden und aufhören die Re-Integration von Ägypten und Sudan zu verhindern, aber die Briten weigerten sich, das Land zu verlassen. Er war unter der Britische Anwesenheit, daß der Sudan erklärte sich unabhängig. Da sind die Grunde, die zu Entstehung eine Separate arabische und afrikanische Staat aus Ägypten. So begann die Balkanisierung Prozess mit der Teilung der Sudan aus Ägypten.

 

Der Yinon Plan an der Arbeit im Sudan und im Nahen Osten

Im Jahr 1982, veröffentliche der israelische Außenministerium Senior Advisor ODED YINON, ein aufschlussreiches Dokument für die regionale Eroberung und Dominanz der Sudan und Nahen Osten, heute noch aktuell und unter der Titel “Eine Strategie für Israel in dem 1980er Jahren” bekannt. Der Balkanisierung der Sudan ist auch mit der Yinon Plan verbunden und eine Weiterführung der britischen Strategie.

Die strategische Ziel des Yinon Aktionsplans besteht darin, die israelische Überlegenheit durch die Balkanisierung des Nahen Osten und die arabischen Staaten in kleineren und schwächeren Staaten zu gewährleisten. Es ist in diesem Kontext, daß Israel hat sich in Sudans Politik verstärkt beteiligt.

Die israelische Strategen, betrachteten Irak als ihre größte “Strategische Herausforderung”  innerhalb der arabischen Staaten. Deshalb wurde Irak als Zentrum der Balkanisierung des Nahen Osten und der arabische Welt betrachtet worden.

The Atlantic (Der Atlantik)  publiziert im Jahr 2008 ein Artikel von Jeffrey Goldberg genannt: “Nach Irak: ein Bericht aus den neuen Nahen Ostens und einem Blick auf seinen möglich Zukunft.” In der Goldberg Artikel, wurde eine Karte des Nahen Osten präsentiert, die eng die Umrisse des Yinon Plan und die Karte eines künftigen Nahost vorgestellt, von Oberst-Lieutenant im Ruhestand Ralph Peters, die in der US-Militärs Armed Forces Journal im Jahr 2006 publiziert wurde.

Es ist auch kein Zufall, daß abgesehen von einer geteilten Irak auf ein geteiltes Sudan auf die Karte angezeigt war. Libanon, Iran, Türkei, Syrien, Ägypten, Somalien, Pakistan und Afghanistan auch als geteilte Nationen präsentiert wurden. Von Bedeutung für Ostafrika in der Karte, illustriert bei Holly Lindem für Goldberg Artikel, Eritrea ist von Äthiopien besetzt, welche ein US/Israel Allierte ist und Somalien wird durch Somaliland, Puntland und Klein-Somalia geteilt.

Der Irak, auf der Grundlage der Yinon Plan haben israelische Strategen das Land in einen kurdischen Staat und zwei arabischen Staaten, eine für schiitischen und eine für sunnitischen Muslime geteilt. Dies wurde durch den weichen Balkanisierung des Föderalismus in Irak, die erlaubt die kurdische Regionalregierung mit ausländischen Ölkonzernen selbst zu verhandeln. Der erste Schritt zur Gründung war ein Krieg zwischen Irak und Iran, die in der Yinon Plan diskutiert wurde (und geschah).

Im Libanon Israel hat hart gearbeitet um konfessionelle Spannungen zwischen den verschiedenen Christlichen und muslimischen Gruppierungen sowie die Drusen zu intensivieren. Der Aufteilung des Libanons in mehreren Staaten wird auch als ein Mittel zu Balkanisierung Syrien in mehrere kleiner sektiererischen arabischen Staaten gesehen.

Die Ziele des Yinon Plan ist Libanon und Syrien in mehrere Staaten zu teilen, auf der Grundlage von religiösen und sektiererischen Identitäten für sunnitische, schiitische Muslime, Christen und Drusen. In dieser Zusammenhang haben die Ermordung Hariris und das Sondertribunal für den Libanon (STL) haben eine Rolle zu Gunsten von Israel gespielt bei der Schaffung von internen Spaltungen und anheizen von politisch motivierten Sektierertum. Deshalb ist Tel Aviv sehr penetrant über STL geworden und hat es unterstützt. Ein klares Zeichen für die politische Gründe des Tribunals und ihre Geopolitische Verbindungen ist die Tatsache, daß USA/UK viele Millionen US$ dieses Tribunal spendiert haben.

Die Verbindungen Zwischen den Anschägen auf die Ägyptischen Kopten und der Süd-Sudan Rederendum

Ägyptische Muslimen und Christen in einem Protest gegen den Terroranschlag in Alexandria vereinigt. Von Irak nach Ägypten, die Christen in Mittlerer Osten standen unter Angriff während die Spannungen zwischen Schiiten und Sunniten angeheizt wurden. Der Angriff auf eine koptische Kirche in Alexandria am 1 Januar, sowie die nachfolgende koptische Protesten und Aufstände sollen nicht isoliert betrachten werden. Auch der Wut der Kopten gegenüber die Muslimen und der ägyptische Regierung soll nicht isoliert betrachtet werden. Diese Angriffe auf die Christen gehören zu der Geopolitische Zielen, der USA/UK Israel und NATO in Nahen Osten und in der arabische Welt.

Der Yinon Plan sieht vor, daß nachdem Ägypten geteilt wird, auch Sudan und Ägypten balkanisiert und geschwächt werden sollen.

Für der Yinon Plan sind die Kopten oder Christen in Ägypten eine große Minderheit (10%), und die Schlüssel zum Balkanisierung der arabischen Staaten in Nord Afrika. So die Yinon Plan sieht vor die Schaffung ein koptische Staat in Oberägypten (Süden Ägypten) und die christliche-muslimische Spannungen in Ägypten sind wichtige Schritte für der Balkanisierung von Sudan und Nordafrika.

Die Attacken auf Christen in Nahen Osten sind Teil ein Geheimplan, die dazu bestimmt ist nahen Osten und Nordafrika zu teilen. Der Zeitpunkt der Angriffe auf koptische Christen und der Referendum in Süd-Sudan sind kein Zufall. Die Ereignisse in Sudan und in Ägypten sind miteinander Verbunden und sind ein Teil eines Projektes, eben die Balkanisierung.

Sie müßen auch in Verbindung mit dem Yinon Plan und mit die Ereignisse im Libanon und im Irak untersucht werden, sowie die Bemühungen Schiiten und Sunniten zu trennen.

Die Ausländische Verbindungen von SPLM, SSLA und Militzen in Darfur

Wie im Fall des Sudans, Einmischung von außen wurden benutzt die innere Opposition zu unterdrücken. Trotz seine Korruption, Khartoum war unter Belagerung weil sich geweigert hat ein Lakaien/Vasallen der USA und seine Proxys zu sein. Sudan hat recht ,  fremde Truppen nicht zu vertrauen und USA/UK/Israel zu beschuldigen die Nationalen Solidarität in Sudan untergraben zu wollen.

Zum Beispiel, Israel hat Waffen an der Opposition Gruppen und separatistische Bewegungen in Sudan geschickt. Dies wurde über Äthiopien über Eritrea Jahren lang erledigt, bis Eritrea sich von Äthiopien löste. Dadurch verlor Äthiopien ihre Rotes Meer Küste und das brach mit sich schlechte Beziehung zwischen beide Länder. Danach wurden die israelische Waffen über Kenya nach Süd-Sudangebracht. Aus Süd-Sudan, der Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), die den politischen Arm der SSLA ist, hat die Waffen an die Milizen in Darfur geschafft. Die äthiopische und kenyanische Regierungen und der Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), haben eng mit USA, UK, Israel in Ostafrika gearbeitet.

Die Ausmaß der israelische Einfluß mit der sudanesische Exposition und separatistische Gruppen ist signifikant. Die SPLM hat starke Bindung mit Israel und seinen Mitgliedern und Unterstützern Besuchen Israel regelmäßig. Aufgrund der Druck hat Karthum die Pass-Restriktionen aufgegeben und so konnten Mitglieder der SPLM, 2009 Israel besuchen. SILVA KIR MAYARDIT hat auch gesagt, daß Süd-Sudan wie unabhängig, Israel anerkennen wird.

Die Sudan Tribune, berichtete am 5 März 2008, daß die separatistische Gruppen in Darfur und Süd-Sudan, Büros in Israel geöffnet hatten:

“Sudan People’s Liberation Anhänger in Israel kundigen ein SPLM-Büro in Israel an” sagte eine Pressemitteilung.

“Nach Rücksprache mit der Führung des SPLM in Juba, haben die Anhänger von SPLM in Israel beschlossen das Büro von SPLM in Israel.” Eine Erklärung per E-Mail von Tel Aviv, unterzeichnet von der SLMP Sekrätariat in Israel.

Frankreichs Außenminister Kouchner, umarmte Darfur Rebellenführer Al-Nur in einer Sitzung für Darfur durch Rechte Aktivisten in Paris, organisiert 2007 im April .  Die Aussage, daß SPLM Büro wurde die Politik und Vision der SPLM in der Region zu fordern. Er fügte hinzu, daß in Übereinstimmung mit den umfassenderen Friedensabkommens die SPLM hat das Recht, in jedem Land, einschließlich Israel Büros zu öffnen. Er hat auch hervorgehoben, daß 400 SPLM Unterstützern in Israel gibt. Darfur Rebell Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, hat die Eröffnung ein Büro in Israel bekanntgegeben.

 

Die “Entführung” der 2011 Referendum in Süd-Sudan

Was geschah mit dem Träumen von einem geeinten Afrika oder eines geeinten arabische Welt? Panarabismus, eine Bewegung, um allen arabische sprechenden Völker, hat schwere Verluste, wie die afrikanische Einheit erlitten. Die arabische Welt und Afrika wurden konsequent balkanisiert.

Auf der NATO/ISRAEL/USA Reißbrett, steht Sezession und Balkanisierung für Ost Afrika und die arabische Welt. Die SSLA Aufstand wurde heimlich von USA, UK, und Israel seit der 80er Jahren unterstützt. Die Bildung ein neuer Staat im Sudan ist nicht gegründet worden die Interessen der Menschen in Süd-Sudan zu dienen, sondern es ist ein Teil einer umfassenden geostrategische Politik um der Kontrolle Nord-Afrika und den Nahen Osten zu gewährleisten.

Die daraus resultierende Prozess der “Demokratisierung” in Vorfeld der Volksabstimmung in Januar 2011, dient der Interessen der anglo-amerikanischen Öl-Gesellschaften und die Rivalität gegen China. Dies geht auf Kosten der Nachteil der wahren nationalen Souveränität in Süd-Sudan.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Soziologe und Sozialwissenschaftler der Zentrums für Forschung zur Globalisierung (CRG), spezialisiert auf Geopolitik und strategischen Fragen.

Dieser Artikel erschien unter dem Titel: The Balkanization of Sudan: The Redrawing of the Middle East and North Africa.
 
Quelle: Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG)/Zentrums für Forschung zur Globalisierung.

 

Introduction

 

The deliberate injury of the limbs of 23 boys by high velocity weapons has been logged and described by Defence for Children International – Palestine Branch (DCI-P) since March 2010. (1)  Some of the facts have been published in national newspapers.  These barbarous acts contravene international and national law but there are no judicial responses.  The caring professions see the physical and mental pain of those who suffer and they should be in the vanguard in calling for this great cruelty to cease forthwith.  Political leaders have failed to act. 

The Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which is of central importance in holding war criminals to account in the jurisdiction of the UK, is being emasculated.

Context

 
Most of the 1.5 million population of the Gaza strip is impoverished.  Half are refugees from Mandate Palestine or  their stock.  About 50% of the male population is without work.  It has been isolated and occupied for decades.  A commercial port was being built in 2000 but that was bombed by Israel.  The isolation and the hobbling of its commerce was increased by a siege which was started in March 2006 in response to the election of a majority of Hamas members to the legislature.  It was further tightened in June 2007 after the Hamas government pre-empted a coup by the Fatah faction that was led in Gaza by Mohammad Dahlan.

The misery was further deepened with ‘Operation Cast Lead’ that was unleashed 27/12/08.  This was promised 29/02/08 (2).  “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” – Matan Vilnai  Deputy Defence Minister to Israeli Army Radio.  There was a massive bombardment which killed 220 adults and children in the first 15 minutes.  This was followed by a full scale invasion.  1400 humans were killed and approximately 5000 injured physically.  The minds of very many more were injured too.  4000 homes were totally destroyed, almost all the factories and 40 mosques.  The two gleaming science blocks of the Islamic University  of Gaza were flattened by very powerful thermobaric bombs, the blasts being heard throughout the 360 square kilometres of the Gaza ‘Strip’.  The siege has been even more draconian since.  Cement, ballast and steel rods are only let in at about 5% of the rate needed for rebuilding, the pretext being that ‘bunkers’ could be constructed.  At the present rate it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza. (3)  Chocolate, writing paper and all manner of things have been blocked.  The 1000 tunnels at Rafah have provided a way in for goods but in the face of bombing and roof falls.

  The lack of any work and the extreme poverty of the large extended families has drawn the boys and men to scavenge for broken concrete (‘gravel’) in the evacuated Eli Sinai ‘settlement’ and in the industrial zone by the Erez border control post at the northern limit of the ‘Strip’.  The factories of the industrial zone have been progressively demolished by Israeli shelling etc.  They are seen to the west as one enters Gaza through Erez.  A donkey and cart, shovel, pick, sieve, muscles and courage are the tools.  The rubble is used to make cement blocks and poured concrete with the cement that is imported  largely through the tunnels.  Many dozens of men and boys do this work for precious shekels in the shadow of manned watch towers and under ‘drones’ above.

The 23 boys who have been shot between 26/03/10 (Said H) and 23/12/10 (Hatem S) are listed in the table below with skeletal facts.  These points are made:-

·         In 18 there were single shots and not automatic fire

·         The reported range in most cases confirms that the weapon was a sniper’s rifle in the hands of a sniper

·         Almost always there were many dozens of other men and boys at work; these victims were picked off

·         A leg was the target in most cases.  Where the leg was not the target it is likely the sniper was ‘aiming up’ so the flank, elbow etc was hit instead.

·         No weapons were being borne by the gravel workers so they posed no threat to the Israeli Occupation Force personnel.  Instead they were bending their backs to their menial work within their internment camp

·          The histories refer often to the recovery of the injured boy by friends and relatives under fire. This was a feature during ‘Cast Lead’ or instead the paramedics were barred from getting to the victims so they died without care.

The history of the injury and sequel for each boy are linked to in (1).  It has been done meticulously and the translation into English is perfect.  The pain, and often the terror, felt by the boy as the bullet struck home are vividly recorded.  No bullets have been recovered yet so the calibre/type is unknown.

·         How many boys will regain full, or nearly full function is difficult to judge without the radiographs being present.  Cases 3,4, 5,7,13 and 15 are likely to have joint involvement and thus some lifelong disability.

·         In cases 1 and 3 there is nerve injury.  If that proves to be an axonotmesis in either, it is possible that a first class repair will not be available in Gaza.

·         The fractures are open by definition and no doubt comminuted.  Delayed or non-union is possible.  Deep infection is a real risk, antibiotic therapy not withstanding.  The risk of deep infection relates to  a.  the possible inclusion of fabric  b.  the high energy injury causing irregular and wide devitalisation of the tissues  c.  the probability that these difficult bullet wounds were not laid open and a complete wound toilet performed.  One or two of these boys might end with an amputation.   

·         Almost all the boys have been frightened off or forbidden from gravel work.  There are few, if any, other means of earning shekels.   

The shooting to wound and kill Palestinians is relentless.  DCI-P notes that according to a UN study, between January 2009 and August 2010, at least 22 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed and 146 injured in the arbitrary live fire zone adjacent to the border with Israel and imposed at sea. At least 27 of these civilians were children.  It also notes that the targeting of civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law, regardless of circumstances.

These quotations from the available stories convey a little of the poverty, the suffering and the courage:-

·         ‘The three of us would wake up every day at around 5:30am and leave to collect gravel. We were not the only ones doing this type of work.  Hundreds of youngsters aged between 13 and 22 used to work with us, despite the danger we faced because we were close to the Israeli border.’  Awad W- 3

·         The work was exhausting and dangerous. ‘Israeli soldiers would sometimes shoot at us, and sometimes shoot in the air to intimidate us,’ recalls Ibrahim .  ‘Sometimes they would shoot at the carts, horses and donkeys we used to move the gravel. But we had to do the work despite the dangers, because we didn’t have any other job to do.’  Ibrahim K- 4

·          Mohammad was taught by his neighbours to watch for birds flying away from the watch towers, as this was a sign to start running, as it meant soldiers were climbing into

            the towers and the shooting would soon begin.  Mohammad M – 6

·         ‘They killed our three horses and one donkey in four months, and we had to spend the money we earned on replacing them.’ ….. ‘They were down on their stomachs pointing their rifles towards us, but they didn’t shoot. We got used to such things.’  Mohammad S – 11

Silence is complicity

References

1.    http://www.dci-pal.org/english/doc/press/UA_4_10_Children_of_the_Gravel_UPDATE_29_DEC_%202010(b).pdf

2.    http://www.haaretz.com/news/barak-hamas-will-pay-for-its-escalation-in-the-south-1.240417

3.    http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_21083.pdf

I thank Gerard Horton and DCI-P for the availability and excellence of this information, and for supporting publication in a medical forum.  I also thank Dr Khamis Elessi in Gaza for information.

Conflict of interest:  I founded the Dove and Dolphin Charity 110119

<http://www.doveanddolphin.co.uk/> with a voyage to Palestine 8 years ago and chair its trustees.  It attends to the welfare of children in Gaza in the main.  No pecuniary benefit is derived from this charity.

David S Halpin FRCS is an author, human rights activist and a former, orthopaedic and trauma surgeon at

the Torbay and Exeter Hospitals Devon UK

 

David Halpin can be contacted via  <[email protected]>  

His web site is <http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/> )

FOOTNOTES

 

This paper was submitted to the Lancet and the British Medical Journal 4 January 2011 under the title ‘Ethical’.  The refusal from the latter is here:- 

BMJ/2011/850099

The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force

by David Sydney Halpin

Dear Mr. Halpin

Thank you for sending us your paper. We read it with interest but I regret to say that we have decided not to publish it in the BMJ.

Clearly soldiers shooting at children is awful, but we didn’t think your article gave a clear reason why we should be publishing it now. The information comes from the Defence for Children International (Palestine section) website, there isn’t much context, there’s no description of the Israeli soldiers’ explanation for these events, and the article just sort of ends.

We receive over 8000 submissions a year and accept less than 10%. We do therefore have to make hard decisions on just how interesting an article will be to our general clinical readers, how much it adds, and how much practical value it will be.

I am sorry to disappoint you on this occasion.

An editor at the British Medical Journal

  

The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force

Number

Name

Age

Date of injury

 

Distance

from

border

metres

Injury

Activity

Single shot heard?

Hospital

 Rx

Outcome

?Work again near Erez

or other

Date report made – Arabic to English

1   Said H

15 yrs

26/03/10

100

Deep and tranverse, lower L thigh

Searching for brother

   Y

3 days

‘Toe will not work’ Persisting pain

Nerve injury

Lost 2 months training as plumber and car sprayer

27/10/10

2  Hasan W

17 yrs

22/05/10

300

Below R knee. ‘Shattered’

2 months in plaster

Gravel

(G)

Y then

repeated

shooting

Home same day

(HSD)

Cannot walk. Pain on movement.

‘.. not be able to collect gravel though family needs money’

01/09/10

3  Awad W

17 yrs

07/06/10

350

Shot in R knee

G

Y

HSD

Numbness  Cannot walk as he used to.

Therapy from Doctors without Borders.  Cannot work.

06/09/10

4  Ibrahim K  16 yrs

16/06/10

400

Shot in R knee

G

Y after

shooting

2 days

Pain in R leg

Forbidden by father to return to same work

16/09/10

5  Abdullah

16 yrs

22/06/10

60

Shot in R ankle

G

Y

HSD

Painful.  ?Will be able to walk normally again

‘I will never collect gravel again.’ 

08/09/10

6  Mohammad

M   16 yrs

23/06/10

500

Shot in R flank

G

3 days

Very tired when he runs

Cannot work or play

30/09/10

7  Arafat S

16 yrs

10/07/10

50

Shot in R ankle

G

Y

HSD

Still some pain and a little limp

18/09/10

8  N’uman A

14 yrs

10/07/10

300

Shot R lower leg – not deep

G

Y

HSD

Forbidden by grandfather to return

20/09/10

9  Hameed O

13 yrs

14/07/10

50

L arm – not deep

G

Y

HSD

Occasional pain

No work.  Forbidden by father to return

26/09/10

10  Khaled I

16 yrs

31/07/10

600

L thigh.  ‘Cut artery and vein

G

Y

?Heavy machine gun

15 days

‘Considering what happened, not going to collect gravel again

27/09/10

11 Mohammad S

17 yrs

25/08/10

800

L thigh

G

HSD

Pain   ‘I have nightmares about being shot by Israeli soldiers’

‘I don’t think of going to the dangerous places anymore’

30/09/10

12  Mahmoud J

16 yrs

07/10/10

450

R thigh.  Bled profusely.  Exit wound diameter 5 cms.

G

Y

?From tank or jeep

‘I wanted to buy two pigeons and raise them on the rooftop of my house. I will never go back to that place.’

27/10/10

13  Ahmad H

17 yrs

13/10/10

600 -

700

R foot/sankle  ‘Big hole in my foot – 4 cms with small hole other side

G

     Y

16/10/10

14  Yahia Z

16 yrs

14/10/10

450

R lower leg

G

     Y

HSD

‘I will never go back to the industrial zone even if I starve to death.’

16/10/10

15  Shamekh D

15 yrs

27/11/10

150

L foot

G

     Y

Operated

BK cast

Awaited

02/12/10

16  Mokhles M

15 yrs

28/11/10

500

L lower leg

G

     Y

?Op

BK cast

‘I’ll wait for my wound to heal before I go back to collect gravel.’

02/12/10

17  Belal L

16 yrs

04/12/10

600

L leg

G

     Y

plus a second shot into the L leg of his 22 yr old cousin

Fractured in two places.  External fixation above and below knee

 ‘I still feel pain in my leg,’ says Belal, ‘and I don’t know whether I will walk again or

not.’

 ‘I have come under fire several times from Israeli soldiers guarding the border. Once they shot and killed our horse.’’ Belal’s older brother Nedal (24) has been shot four times whilst collecting gravel,

‘three times in the left leg and once in the right leg,’ says Belal.

08/12/10

18  Suhaib M

16 yrs

10/12/10

250

Through and through,

just below L knee.  Exit wound 5 cms diameter

Wood

    Y

‘Bullet exploded in leg.’

Long cast.

 ’I don’t know if I

will be able to walk again,’ says Suhaib, ‘but certainly I will never go back to collecting gravel.’

18/12/10

19  Rasmi G

15 yrs

10/12/10

200

R lower leg. Fractured tibia

G

    Y

External fixation

In Kamal Udwan hospital

‘I still feel great pain in my leg and don’t know whether I will walk again or not.’

15/12/10

20  Fadi H

17 yrs

13/12/10

500

Below L knee

Goatherd

4 shots

HSD

Moving about at 2 days

28/12/10

21  Rami

17 yrs

21/12/10

400

R lower leg

G

    Y

HSD

Will collect G again. ‘What can I do?’  Disabled

father.  Large family

28/12/10

22  Mahmoud S

17 yrs

23/12/10

400

R elbow

G

Gun-shots

HSD

‘For the record, I will never go back to collecting gravel for it’s a death profession.’

29/12/10

23  Hatem S

17 yrs

23/12/10

800

Head – back of.

Embedded ‘shrapnel’ from bullet

Collect

‘straws’

Gun-shots

HSD

Headache plus nausea

29/12/10

Bank Giant Goldman Sachs Rewards Staff with €11.4bn

January 20th, 2011 by Global Research

Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs revealed today that staff earned a total of $15.4bn (€11.4bn) in pay and bonuses last year.

The total figure represents a 5pc decline on the previous year’s pot, but the share of revenues paid out in salary and benefits for 2010 was up from 35.8pc at 39.3pc.

The firm posted a 38pc drop in net earnings to $8.35bn (€6.2bn) for the year to December 31. This followed a 13pc decline in revenues to $39.16bn (€29bn).

Goldman Sachs took $10bn (€7.4bn) from the US Treasury at the height of the financial crisis but has since paid the money back, with taxpayers earning $1.4bn (€1.03bn) on the investment.

In the UK, the bank is trying to rebuild its reputation after it was fined £17.5m by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for failing to tell the regulator that Goldman trader Fabrice Tourre was under investigation when he took a job at the bank’s London office in 2008.

Goldman has recently been in the spotlight for its dealings with Facebook – the bank invested $500m (€371m) in the social networking giant.

The New York-based group said the drop in revenues compared with 2009 was driven by declines in the firm’s underwriting business.

Chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said: “Market and economic conditions for much of 2010 were difficult, but the firm’s performance benefited from the strength of our global client franchise and the focus and commitment of our people.

“Looking ahead, we are seeing signs of growth and more economic activity and we are well-positioned to help our clients expand their businesses, manage their risks and invest in the future.”

In the UK, Goldman forked out $465m (€345m) in UK bank payroll tax – a one-off 50pc tax on bonuses above £25,000.

But the large tax windfall was not enough to appease the unions, with TUC general secretary Brendan Barber calling for the UK Government to do more to tackle bonuses at the next G20 meeting.

He said: “Goldman Sachs has stuck two fingers up to austerity Britain by shelling out mega bonuses again. These earnings would make Gordon Gekko blush.

“Bankers are toasting their telephone digit bonuses while the rest of the country reels from more than a fifth of young people being out of work. This Government is overseeing a fast return to the worst excesses of the 1980s.”

Since its very inception in 1946, the United Nations Security Council demonstrated that it cannot be trusted as a podium of justice for the world countries, specially the oppressed and defenseless nations which eye the assistance and patronage of the powerful and economically influential nations for tackling their political predicaments and crises, and showed that it merely pursues the interests of its small bloc of five permanent members and undemocratically discriminates against a multitude of countries who don’t have a say in the policies which directly affects them.

The United Nations Security Council is said to be one of the principal organs within the operative system of the United Nations and is “allegedly” charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. The authorities possessed by UNSC are the establishment of peacekeeping missions, imposition of international sanctions and authorization of military actions whenever necessary.

UNSC has five permanent members: China, Russia, Britain, France and the United States. What’s the reason? Why should the UNSC have permanent members which cannot be removed from power and must wield an unyielding and resolute authority to make decision over the international affairs?
 
The answer is simple: these five countries are the victorious powers of the Second World War. Their victory in a war which took place and was concluded more than half a century ago minimally accounts for the eternality and endlessness of the power which they possess.

UNSC has also 10 non-permanent members which are elected on a rotating basis and through the vote of the members of United Nations General Assembly.

According to the Article 27 of the UN Charter, a draft resolution on non-procedural matters is adopted if nine or more of the fifteen members of the UNSC vote for the resolution, provided that none of the permanent members veto it.

What is the veto power? The answer is simple. It’s a discriminatory and biased privilege given to five countries to dictate their own will to some 200 countries as they wish. If a draft resolution, put forward by one of the fifteen members of the UNSC, is vetoed by any of the five permanent members, its adoption will be precluded. Veto power, seen by many as the most unfair and inequitable law of the world which enables a powerful and authoritative minority to determine the fate of an indispensable and subjugated majority, is unquestionably an insult to the insight and perception of the international community.

The permanent members of the UNSC are free to exercise their right of veto whenever they wish to, and nobody can question the legitimacy or justifiability of this approach. Several international organizations, lawyers and lawmakers, journalists, politicians and even statesmen have put forward alternatives to the right of veto wielded by the Big 5, but all of their efforts have been in vain, as the United Nations Security Council has showed the least flexibility with regards to the reformation of its autocratic and undemocratic structure.

Interestingly, all of the permanent members of the UNSC are the countries which we’ve long got used to hearing their claims of being the pioneers of democracy and freedom; nevertheless, in the very approach which they’ve implemented over the past fifty years and the manner of their interaction with the other countries of the world, one can hardly trace the footsteps of democratic and civilized behavior.

Unfortunately, the United Nations Security Council has become an instrument for the five superpowers to further their political will in the arena of international politics and alter the political equations according to their interests. They put forward a draft resolution whenever their interests are jeopardized and pressure the rest of members to vote for it, and veto the resolutions in which the interests of their allies are endangered.

Since its establishment up to now, the UNSC has adopted 1966 resolutions. Now the question lies: how many of these resolutions have become operative and come into effect? How many of these resolutions have been fair, lawful and defendable? Whose interests are met through these resolutions? Is the will of five nations more valuable or worthy than the will of 200 countries who don’t have access to UNSC?

Let’s bring up some examples. UNSC’s treatment with Iran is a notable and clear example of discrimination and prejudice exercised by the Security Council against an independent nation which wants to stride on its own path towards self-sufficiency and progress, free from the pressure of bullying powers. Since 2006 UNSC has adopted seven resolutions against Iran’s civilian nuclear activity and imposed four rounds of sanctions against the country for what it claims to be “Iran’s failure to halt its uranium enrichment program”.

The imposition of four rounds of sanctions against an independent country which tries to achieve a scientific breakthrough is an ironic drama. All of the reports published by the International Atomic Energy Agency attest to the legality and rightfulness of Iran’s nuclear program. There has been not a single paper of evidence signifying that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. All the international community knows about Iran’s nuclear program is that Iran enriches uranium, and enriched uranium, to some certain extents, might be used to fuel a nuclear bomb! At the same time, the international community is well aware of the fact that the regime of Israel possesses 170 to 200 nuclear warheads, and this is a figure which is confirmed by the Federation of American Scientists, an organization within the country which is the staunchest ally of Israel. So why did the UNSC, being headed by the Big 5, impose four rounds of crippling sanctions and pass seven resolutions against Iran instead of condemning Israel and imposing sanctions on it?

Ironically, 118 members of the Non-Aligned Movement and 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Conference unconditionally backed Iran’s peaceful nuclear program; however, the country should face financial sanctions because 5 countries like this way. Is it fair, not? Five is bigger than 118!

World superpowers don’t tolerate the emergence of a new political and scientific power. Iran is an inspiring example for the developing world and should be obstructed at any rate, so the UNSC can effectively function as an impediment on the way of Iran and any country such as Iran which looks for improvement and progress.

However, UNSC’s treatment with Iran was a simple example of the discriminatory approach of this unfair and unjust organization with the world nations. Hundreds of unfair and unjust resolutions have been passed against the oppressed nations of the world, from the Latin America to Africa, adding to the pains and problems of these impoverished nations.

UNSC needs a drastic reformation. The veto power should be dissolved as soon as possible. There should be a permanent seat for the representative of the Islamic world with more than 1.5 billion population.

The power to authorize sanctions or military expeditions should be handed over to the UN General Assembly rather than the Security Council. The members of UNSC should be held accountable for the decisions which they make. Their responsiveness to the international community should be built up. The impunity of UNSC members should be abolished. They should not be able to make any decision which they want and get away with it. It’s only with the implementation of such reforms that we can be hopeful for a successful future for the UNSC; otherwise, this organization will forever remain an organization of injustice and bias.

Lebanon and Tunisia: Two Ousted Leaders.

January 20th, 2011 by Rannie Amiri

Some dubbed it the “Jasmine Revolution” out of an apparent need to romanticize all popular uprisings by tagging a color or symbol to it, as they did with Tunisia ’s national flower. Yet it felt decidedly out of place. This was no Western-backed revolt, where an American president issues lively calls for the people’s will to be respected. On the contrary, if the U.S., France or any of the Arab client states could have intervened to preserve the 23-year rule of Tunisian dictator Zain al-Abidine Ben Ali, they would have done so.

Simmering anger at skyrocketing food prices, inflation, unemployment, cronyism and corruption had boiled over and erupted into mass protests. But the Tunisian intifada started with one young man’s despair.

Muhammad Bouazizi was a 26-year old ex-student who resorted to street vending in order to support his family. Ben Ali’s thugs showed him no mercy even in that. Police confiscated his fruit and vegetable cart on the pretext he had no license, and beat and humiliated him when he had no money for a bribe.

He pled his case to authorities, to be allowed to push his wheelbarrow and eek out a meager existence, but to no avail. On Dec. 17, Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of municipal government headquarters where his case had been heard and dismissed. It was the literal and figurative speak that mobilized Tunisians into waves of demonstrations that swept Ben Ali all the way to Saudi Arabia .

Acts of self-immolation followed in Algeria and Egypt . Protests in Jordan over soaring prices and unemployment mirrored Tunisian grievances and led to calls for the entire government to resign. 

Indeed, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the unrest will spread and threaten other Mideast autocracies and oligarchies, specifically Egypt and Algeria .

                                                        

This is unlikely in the short-term. Tunisia ’s uprising was unique in the way it had mobilized the middle class to join forces with trade unions and the poor to uproot the nepotism and corruption Ben Ali’s reign embodied. While this particular set of social conditions may not be generalizable to other Arab countries, his ouster did reaffirm—as the 1979 Iranian Revolution proved—the security-state’s fragility in comparison to the people’s wrath. It dispelled the myth, however, that all such rebellions are Islamist-inspired.

Just two days prior to Ben Ali’s hasty exit to Saudi Arabia , another Mideast leader lost power.

Although “toppled” tends to connate violent overthrow, it was nonetheless used to describe the peaceful resignation of 11 opposition ministers from the cabinet of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, causing his government to deservedly collapse. Their resignations ostensibly came after Hariri refused to hold an urgent cabinet meeting to address the country’s response to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is expected to indict high-ranking Hezbollah officials in the February 2005 assassination of late premier Rafiq Hariri. The indictments were delivered sealed to the pre-trial judge Monday.

Hopes to resolve the impasse on how to deal with their fallout were placed in the long-touted “Saudi-Syrian initiative.” Before the initiative was allowed to bear fruit, it was torpedoed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after she met with Hariri in New York . When he acquiesced and it became clear the deal was dead, the opposition ministers’ resignation was a forgone conclusion. 

President Michel Suleiman has temporarily delayed parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister to give Turkish and Qatari mediation efforts a chance to forestall yet another crisis. Hezbollah and Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc have already said they will not support Hariri’s reappointment.

Further undermining the caretaker prime minister’s credibility, Lebanon’s New TV aired leaked audio tapes of a 2007 meeting between Hariri, pre-STL U.N. Deputy Chief investigator Gerhard Lehmann, Internal Security Forces head Col. Wissam al-Hassan (whose conspicuous absence the day Hariri was assassinated and his flimsy alibi raises troubling questions) and Muhammad Zuhair al-Siddiq.

Al-Siddiq is a known criminal and one of the “false witnesses” who implicated Syria in Hariri’s murder with fabricated, now discredited testimony. The embarrassing tape shoots holes through Hariri’s claim he never had personal knowledge of al-Siddiq or anything to do with the false witnesses.

In a remarkable week, two Arab leaders were deposed.

One was a staunchly secular dictator who fled in disgrace to an ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia . He may loathe the religious atmosphere but once envied its security relations with the West. Ben Ali is now relegated to an apolitical life in Jeddah, the same city in which Idi Amin once took refuge.

The other, though not a dictator, sold out a formula for domestic and regional stability at his country’s expense. His political and sectarian agenda, at justice’s expense, will allow the STL’s politicized indictments to foment strife, conflict and enmity between Lebanese.

For making himself a party to that in his capacity as prime minister, the Lebanese should encourage Hariri, who holds Saudi citizenship, to take extended leave in the Kingdom as well.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.

 

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“And he smiled a kind of sickly smile, and curled up on the floor, And the subsequent proceedings, interested him no more.” (Francis Brett Harte, 1836-1902.)

Charles Anthony Lynton Blair, QC., is set to reappear before the Chilcot Inquiry into the assault on Iraq, on Friday 21st January, with an inside source reported commenting: “There is a feeling … he wilfully misrepresented the facts.” Goodness, surely not.

Personally, one scene encapsulates the invasion – before it even began. I checked in to a small family hotel, on the corniche, in Mosul, northern Iraq. Mosul is in hauntingly beautiful, ancient, Nineveh province, of which Masefield wrote: “Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir, rowing home to haven, in sunny Palestine, with a cargo of ivory, and apes and peacocks, sandalwood, cedarwood and sweet white wine.” The wine came from Mosul grapes. The romance is undimmed, from the spine tinglingly beautiful remains left by the Assyrian Kings (721 BC-626 BC) to the great flocks of birds, who blacken the sky at dawn and dusk, their song rising and falling, filling the senses. I climbed the steep steps to the entrance and anticipated the beams and the “Welcome, welcome, welcome home …” The lobby was deserted.

It took a moment, then I looked through to the lounge, the entire staff from the owner/Manager to the kitchen boy, were huddled round the television, aware of nothing but Colin Powell’s address to the U.N., making it clear that an attack on Iraq was imminent. He cited cited Downing Street’s shameful work of fiction (“Iraq – its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation”) saying: “I would call my colleagues’ attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed… which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.” It was 5th February 2003.

I stood behind the group, un-noticed watching in astonishment at purported translated conversations between Iraqi scientists, discussing how to hide their WMDs – a conversation straight out of a Hollywood gangster movie, using expressions utterly alien to the Arab world. Further, there were camps teaching people how to make ricin poisons, numerous munitions bunkers, ballistic missile sites, UAVs (unarmed aerial vehicles) biological weapons, chemical weapons, anthrax. Iraq was a threat to life on earth: “We must not shrink from what is ahead of us”, Powell concluded.

The staff switched off the television, clearly stunned, then noticed me. No greeting, just drawn, desperate faces and: “Madam Felicity, are they really going to bomb us again?” My face must have been the answer. The region had anyway been being (illegally) being bombed for thirteen years, by US and UK planes. Evocative ancient homes, standing a few months before, about an eighth of a mile behind the hotel were no more, the hotel had somehow survived. Bombing had increased dramatically over the previous months. I had driven up from Baghdad along the main highway which had many army bases and an air force academy. Iraq had no planes since 1991 and the tanks were all circa 1950′s. All were reduced to rubble. I thought of bombings I had visited over the years, the shoes – it is always the shoes that are left. I remembered the child shepherd (10) who had stepped on munition from 1991, which still littered the country. He silently pleaded through his remaining eye. He had also lost his foot. I pondered the years of recording words from broken hearts.

Three days later the Guardian pointed out that the dossier not only plagiarised an old thesis from an American PhD student, but it : “.. appeared to be a journalistic cut and paste job, rather then high grade intelligence analysis.”

Yet Blair, whose Faith Foundation : “aims to promote understanding about the world’s religions …” authorised lies of near unprecedented enormity and enjoined Bush’s “Crusade”, against a crippled country, whose children were dying at an average of seven thousand a month of “embargo related causes”, the UN flagged siege driven by the US and the UK. For anyone who has a doubt about the term “Crusade” being a slip of the tongue, “New Yorker” journalist Seymour Hersh cites research for his upcoming book, “The Bush-Cheney Years.” After the fall of the regime in 2003: “In the Cheney shop, the attitude was … ‘We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. And when we get all the oil, nobody’s gonna give a damn.’ ”

However, if Chilcot has no legal authority to prosecute for what former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally said was an “illegal” invasion, arguably a war of aggression (Nuremberg’s ” … supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”) enough politically weighty rats have plopped over the side of HMS Blair and swum for the shore, to give some hope that they may yet, as in their remit, refer evidence to “the appropriate authorities.” The latest to at least damp his fur, is the former Attorney General, The Rt. Hon. the Lord Goldsmith.

On the 30th January 2003 he wrote to Blair that the latest UN Resolution (SCR 1441) “..does not authorise the use of military force … having considered the arguments … my view remains that a further decision is required.” Suggesting he hear the views of his US counterparts, he wrote: “I am not convinced that this will make any difference to my view ..” Blair wrote in the margin: “I just don’t understand this.” On the 17th March, however, Goldsmith produced a short statement opining the invasion legal. However, documents released to the Inquiry show a vein of deep unease over the legality throughout. On the 20th March., the bombing began.

Iraq, had, of course, on 7th December 2002, delivered to the UN., 12,800 pages, accounting for the weapons it did not have, which was, in a word, stolen by the US delegation to the UN. Under 4,000 pages were returned, so heavily redacted as to be “indecipherable”, according to UN Ambassadors contacted at the time. Removed entirely was the index of companies who had sold weapons to Iraq over the years, including those of US., UK., France, Germany and Russia.

In another arguably underhand act, the Cabinet Office has refused the Chilcot Inquiry access to communications between Bush and Blair during the run up to the invasion. Sir John has said: “The Inquiry regards (these) essential to fulfill its terms of reference …” Indeed. He has written saying that Mr Blair’s cross examination would be damaged by witholding the memos.

Blair is appearing in the week that marks exactly twenty years since the forty two day carpet bombing of Iraq in 1991. However, missing evidence or not, there are reports that, like Henry Kissinger, Blair concults his lawyers before he travels, for reassurance that he will not be arrested on arrival.

A little difficulty may arise nearer home soon. On 18th January, Dr Bill Wilson, MSP., convened and chaired a meeting in the Scottish Parliament of: ” .. lawyers, academics, MSPs and concerned citizens .. to discuss the incorporation of the International Criminal Court’s definition of the crime of aggression into Scots Law. Consensus was reached that the Scottish Parliament is competent in this respect, and that this can and should be done soon.

Robert Manson, founding member of the UK-based Institute for Law, Accountability & Peace and Don Ferencz, an American lawyer and convenor of the recently-organised Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression, presented detailed historical and legal arguments before answering questions from the audience, which included MSPs and academics from across Scotland. Among these arguments was that the International Criminal Court (Scotland) Act 2001 incorporated the offences in the 1998 Rome Statute for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court into Scots domestic law, with unanimous support, and that this was done the year before the Rome Statute came into force. Consequently there is no impediment to Scotland adopting the June 2010 Kampala definition of the crime of aggression immediately.”

Dr Wilson commented: “As an outcome of the meeting, we have sent an open letter to the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, asking him to amend the ICC (Scotland) Act 2001, adding the ‘crime of aggression’.

“If we did so it would be an excellent example to the rest of the world. It would send the clear message that we respect international law. It would prevent Scotland being dragged into murky and counterproductive military ventures in the future. I call on all MSPs to support such a move. Scotland could lead the fight against illegal war.”

When I left Mosul, days before the invasion, Western rhetoric trumpeting Saddam Hussein’s ability to launch WMDs in Blair’s “forty five minutes”, I drove again past the ruined bases, the road near empty, no troop movements, military vehicles. In the circumstances, it was surreal. Suddenly, nearing Baghdad, a convoy of army lorries appeared. We neared and overtook. There were eleven of them, early 1950′s Mercedes. The tyres were down to the canvas, they were covered in rust – and the one in front was towing the other ten. Dr Wilson’s initiative is a vital step towards ensuring that never again are facts “wilfully disregarded”, and that those who try, pay the price.

Sudán es una nación diversa y un país que representa la pluralidad de África a través de sus tribus, clanes, etnias y grupos religiosos. Pero la unidad de Sudán se está ahora cuestionando a la vez que se habla de unificar naciones y de crear un día los Estados Unidos de África a través de la Unión Africana.

El punto candente allí gira alrededor del referéndum que se celebrará este mes enero de 2011 en el Sur de Sudán. La Administración Obama ha anunciado formalmente que apoya la separación del Sur de Sudán del resto del Sudán.

Lo que está realmente en juego es la balcanización de Sudán. Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea lleva años apoyando a los dirigentes y milicias del Sur de Sudán.

La demonización de Sudán,  un móvil político

Se ha venido auspiciando una importante campaña de demonización contra Sudán y su gobierno. Sí, es cierto que el gobierno sudanés de Jartum tiene un mal historial respecto a los derechos humanos y la corrupción estatal y que nada puede justificar este hecho. Pero se ha venido orquestando contra ese país una condena muy parcial o específica. Sin embargo, uno debería preguntarse por qué EEUU y la UE tienen en su punto de mira precisamente a Sudán mientras ignoran casualmente todo el historial de los derechos humanos de varios estados clientelistas de EEUU, entre otros, Arabia Saudí, Egipto, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos y Etiopía.

Se ha vilipendiado a Jartum como oligarquía autocrática culpable de un genocidio selectivo tanto en Darfur como en el Sur de Sudán. Esta atención deliberada al baño de sangre e inestabilidad en Darfur y el Sur de Sudán tiene motivaciones políticas, en concreto, en los vínculos de Jartum con los intereses petrolíferos de China.

Sudán suministra a China una importante cantidad de petróleo. La rivalidad geopolítica entre China y EEUU por el control de los suministros globales energéticos africanos es la verdadera razón del castigo a Sudán y del fuerte apoyo mostrado por las autoridades estadounidenses, de la UE y de Israel ante la secesión del Sur de Sudán.

Es en ese contexto donde se ha arremetido contra los intereses de China. Esto incluye el ataque de octubre de 2006 de la milicia del Movimiento por la Igualdad y la Justicia (JEM, por sus siglas en inglés) contra la Greater Nile Petroleum Company en Defra, Kordofan.

Distorsionando la violencia en Sudán

Aunque hay una crisis humanitaria en Darfur y un brote de nacionalismo regional en el Sur de Sudán, se han manipulado y distorsionado las causas subyacentes del conflicto.

Las causas subyacentes de la crisis humanitaria en Darfur y del regionalismo en el Sur de Sudán están íntimamente relacionadas con intereses económicos y estratégicos. En todo caso, los verdaderos problemas son el caos y las tribulaciones económicas auspiciadas por fuerzas externas.

Bien directamente o a través de sus apoderados en África, EEUU, la UE e Israel son los principales arquitectos de los enfrentamientos e inestabilidad existentes tanto en Darfur como en el Sur de Sudán. Estas potencias exteriores han ayudado en el entrenamiento, financiación y armamento de las milicias y fuerzas que se oponen al gobierno sudanés dentro de Sudán. En cuanto surge cualquier violencia, echan la culpa de la misma a Jartum mientras alimentan el conflicto a fin de instalarse y controlar los recursos energéticos de Sudán. La división de Sudán en varios estados es parte de ese objetivo. El apoyo al JEM, al Ejército de Liberación del Sur de Sudán (SSLA, por sus siglas en inglés) y a otras milicias que se oponen al gobierno sudanés, por parte de EEUU, la UE e Israel está orientado a conseguir el objetivo de dividir Sudán.

No es tampoco coincidencia que durante años EEUU, Gran Bretaña, Francia y toda la UE, con el pretexto del humanitarismo, hayan estado apremiando para que se desplieguen tropas extranjeras en Sudán. Así es, han presionado activamente para el desembarco de tropas de la OTAN en Sudán bajo la cobertura de un mandato de mantenimiento de la paz de las Naciones Unidas.

Se trata de una recreación de los mismos procedimientos utilizados por EEUU y la UE en otras regiones, donde se han dedicado a dividir, formal o informalmente, a una serie de países reestructurando sus economías e instalando gobiernos-títere bajo la presencia de tropas extranjeras. Eso fue lo que sucedió en la antigua Yugoslavia (mediante la creación de varias nuevas repúblicas) y en Iraq, el país ocupado por EEUU y Gran Bretaña (a través de una balcanización suave mediante una forma calculada de federalismo que persigue establecer un estado débil y descentralizado). Las tropas y la presencia extranjeras han sido el instrumento para el desmantelamiento del estado y la apropiación extranjera de la infraestructura, recursos y capitales.

La cuestión de la identidad en Sudán

Aunque al estado sudanés se le ha retratado como un estado opresor con su pueblo en el Sur de Sudán, debería señalarse que tanto el referéndum  como la estructura de reparto del poder del gobierno sudanés reflejan algo más. El acuerdo para el reparto del poder realizado en Jartum con Omar Al-Basher, el presidente de Sudán, incluye al Movimiento por la Liberación del Sur de Sudán (SPLM, por sus siglas en inglés). El líder del SPLM, Salva Kiir Mayardit, es el Primer Vicepresidente de Sudán y el Presidente del Sur de Sudán.

La cuestión de la etnia se ha puesto también al frente del nacionalismo regional o etno-regional que se ha auspiciado en el Sur de Sudán. Se ha presentado ante el mundo exterior, la división en Sudán entre los denominados sudaneses árabes y los denominados sudaneses africanos como la fuerza más importante del llamamiento del nacionalismo regional a la estatalidad en el Sur de Sudán. Con el paso de los años, se ha ido difundiendo y socializando esta auto-diferenciación en la psique colectiva del pueblo del Sur de Sudán.

Sin embargo, las diferencias entre los denominados sudaneses árabes y los denominados sudaneses africanos no son muy grandes. La identidad árabe de los denominados sudaneses árabes se basa fundamentalmente en su uso de la lengua árabe. Aunque asumamos incluso que ambas identidades étnicas sudanesas están totalmente separadas, es bien conocido en Sudán que ambos grupos están muy mezclados. La otra diferencia entre el Sur de Sudán y el resto de Sudán es que el Islam predomina en el resto de Sudán y no en el Sur de Sudán. No obstante, ambos grupos están profundamente ligados entre sí excepto en un sentido de autoidentificación en cuanto a sus derechos. Pero es de esas identidades diferentes de las que se han aprovechado los dirigentes locales y las potencias extrajeras.

El abandono de la población local de las diferentes regiones por parte de las elites de Sudán es la raíz que causa la ansiedad o animosidad entre la gente del Sur de Sudán y el gobierno de Jartum y no las diferencias entre los denominados sudaneses árabes y africanos.

El favoritismo regional es algo que ha venido funcionando en el Sur de Sudán.

El problema se agrava por la cuestión de las clases sociales. El pueblo del Sur de Sudán cree que su estatus económico y su nivel de vida mejorarán si forman una nueva república. Los dirigentes locales del Sur de Sudán, no los sudaneses sureños, han utilizado al gobierno en Jartum como chivo expiatorio de las miserias económicas y las percepciones de pobreza relativa del pueblo del Sur de Sudán. En realidad, las autoridades locales del Sur de Sudán no van a mejorar los niveles de vida del pueblo del Sur de Sudán sino a mantener su propio statu quo cleptocrático [1].

El viejo proyecto para balcanizar Sudán y sus vínculos con el Mundo Árabe

En realidad, el proyecto para la balcanización de Sudán data de finales del dominio colonial británico anglo-egipcio. Sudán y Egipto fueron un solo país durante muchos períodos distintos. En la práctica fueron un solo país hasta 1956.

Hasta la independencia de Sudán, hubo un movimiento fuerte para mantener unidos a Egipto y Sudán como un único país árabe que luchaba contra los intereses británicos. Sin embargo, Londres alimentó el regionalismo sudanés contra Egipto de la misma manera que se alimentó ese regionalismo en el Sur de Sudán contra el resto de Sudán. Al gobierno egipcio se le describió de la misma forma en que actualmente se describe al Jartum. Los egipcios aparecían explotando a los sudaneses al igual que los que no eran del sur de Sudán aparecían como explotadores de los sudaneses del sur.

Tras la invasión británica de Egipto y Sudán, los británicos también consiguieron mantener a sus tropas estacionadas en Sudán. Incluso mientras trabajaban para separar Sudán de Egipto, los británicos se esforzaban en crear diferenciaciones internas entre el Sur de Sudán y el resto de Sudán. Eso se hizo a través del Condominio Anglo-Egipcio, desde 1899 a 1956, que obligó a Egipto a compartir Sudán con Gran Bretaña tras las Revueltas Mahdist. Finalmente, el gobierno egipcio se negaría a reconocer la legalidad del Condominio Anglo-Egipcio. El Cairo pediría sin cesar a los británicos que pusieran fin a su ilegal ocupación militar del Sudán y dejaran de impedir la reintegración entre Egipto y Sudán, pero los británicos se negaron.

Se pone en marcha el Plan Yinon para Sudán y el Oriente Medio

La balcanización de Sudán está también vinculada al Plan Yinon, que es continuación de una estratagema británica. El objetivo estratégico del Plan Yinon es asegurar la superioridad israelí a través de la balcanización del Oriente Medio y los Estados Árabes, convirtiéndolos en estados cada vez más pequeños y más débiles. Es en este contexto en el que Israel está profundamente implicado en Sudán.

Los estrategas israelíes consideraron Iraq como el mayor desafío estratégico proveniente de un estado árabe. Por eso es por lo que se bosquejó Iraq como la pieza central de la balcanización del Oriente Medio y el Mundo Árabe. The Atlantic, por los motivos apuntados, publicó un artículo en 2008 de Jeffrey Goldberg titulado “After Iraq: What Will the Middle East Look Like?” (“Después de Iraq, ¿cómo quedará Oriente Medio”) [2]. En el artículo de Goldberg se presentaba un mapa de Oriente Medio que seguía estrechamente el trazado del Plan Yinon y el mapa de un futuro Oriente Medio presentado por el Teniente Coronel (retirado) Ralph Peters en el Armed Forces Journal del ejército estadounidense en 2006.

No es tampoco una coincidencia que, además de un Iraq dividido, se mostrara también un Sudán dividido en el mapa. Líbano, Irán, Turquía, Siria, Egipto, Somalia, Pakistán y Afganistán aparecían también presentados como naciones divididas. En cuanto a la representación de África Oriental que se reflejaba en el mapa, ilustrado por Holly Lindem en el artículo de Goldberg, es importante señalar que aparecían Eritrea, ocupada por Etiopía, que es un aliado de Israel y EEUU, y Somalia, dividida en Somaliland, Puntland y una Somalia más pequeña.


Mapa trazado por Holly Lindem para el artículo de Jeffrey Goldberg. Publicado en The Atlantic en el número de enero/febrero de 2008

En cuanto a Iraq, sobre la base de los conceptos del Plan Yinon, los estrategas israelíes pedían la escisión de Iraq en un estado kurdo y dos estados árabes, uno para los musulmanes chiíes y otro para los musulmanes sunníes. Esto se ha logrado mediante una balcanización suave federalista en Iraq, que ha permitido que el Gobierno Regional del Kurdistán negocie en nombre propio con las corporaciones petroleras extranjeras. El primer paso para establecer este estado de cosas fue la guerra entre Irán e Iraq, incluida y discutida también en el Plan Yinon.

En el Líbano, Israel no ha dejado de trabajar para exacerbar las tensiones entre las diversas facciones cristianas y musulmanas, así como drusas. La partición del Líbano en varios estados es también considerado como un medio para balcanizar Siria en varios estados árabes sectarios más pequeños. El objetivo del Plan Yinon se dirige también a dividir el Líbano y Siria en varios estados sobre la base de las identidades sectarias y religiosas de musulmanes sunníes, musulmanes chiíes, cristianos y drusos.

A este respecto, el asesinato de Hariri y el Tribunal Especial para el Líbano (STL, por sus siglas en inglés) han estado jugando a favor de Israel creando divisiones internas dentro del Líbano y alimentando el sectarismo políticamente motivado. Es por esta razón por la que Tel Aviv se ha mostrado tan partidaria del STL y le ha prestado tantos apoyos. Como clara muestra de la naturaleza politizada del STL y de sus conexiones con la geopolítica, EEUU y Gran Bretaña le han dado también millones de dólares al STL.

Las conexiones entre los ataques contra los egipcios coptos y el referéndum en el Sur de Sudán

Desde Iraq a Egipto, los cristianos del Oriente Medio están siendo atacados a la vez que se alimentan las tensiones entre musulmanes chiíes y sunníes. El ataque contra la iglesia copta en Alejandría del 1 de enero de 2011, o las consiguientes protestas y disturbios coptos no deben considerarse como hechos aislados [3]. Ni tampoco la consiguiente furia de los cristianos coptos manifestada contra los musulmanes y el gobierno egipcio. Estos ataques contra los cristianos están vinculados con los objetivos más amplios geopolíticos de EEUU, Gran Bretaña, Israel y la OTAN en Oriente Medio y en el Mundo Árabe.

El Plan Yinon estipula que si se dividiera Egipto sería también más fácil balcanizar y debilitar a Sudán y Libia. En este contexto, hay un vínculo entre Sudán y Egipto. Según el Plan Yinon, los coptos o cristianos de Egipto, que son una gran minoría en este país, son la clave para la balcanización de los estados árabes en el Norte de África. Así, el Plan Yinon afirma que la creación de un estado copto en el Alto Egipto (Sur de Egipto) y las tensiones entre cristianos y musulmanes dentro de Egipto son pasos vitales para balcanizar Sudán y el Norte de África.

Los ataques contra los cristianos del Medio Oriente son parte de las operaciones de inteligencia que tratan de dividir Oriente Medio y el Magreb. El momento en el que se producen los crecientes ataques contra los cristianos coptos en Egipto y el lanzamiento del referéndum en el Sur de Sudán no son una mera coincidencia. Los acontecimientos en Sudán y Egipto están vinculados unos con otros y son parte del proyecto para balcanizar el Mundo Árabe y el Oriente medio. Deben también estudiarse en relación con el Plan Yinon y con los acontecimientos en el Líbano y en Iraq, así como respecto a los esfuerzos para crear una escisión entre chiíes y sunníes.

Las conexiones exteriores del SPLM, del SSLA y de las milicias en Darfur

Como en el caso de Sudán, se han utilizado las interferencias o intervenciones exteriores para justificar la opresión a la oposición interna. A pesar de su corrupción, Jartum se ha visto acosado por negarse sencillamente a convertirse en un régimen títere.

Sudán tiene toda la razón al sospechar de las tropas extranjeras y acusar a EEUU, Gran Bretaña e Israel de erosionar la solidaridad nacional de Sudán. Por ejemplo, Israel ha enviado armas a los grupos de oposición y a los movimientos separatistas de Sudán. Eso se estuvo haciendo durante años a través de Eritrea hasta que Eritrea se independizó de Etiopía, lo que hizo que ésta perdiera su costa en el Mar Rojo y que las relaciones entre eritreos y etíopes hayan sido malas. Después, las armas israelíes entraron en el Sur de Sudán desde Kenia. Desde el Sur de Sudán, el Movimiento Popular para la Liberación de Suán (SPLM, por sus siglas en inglés), que es el brazo político del SSLA, transfiere armas a las milicias en Darfur. Los gobiernos de Etiopía y Kenia, así como la Fuerza Popular de Defensa de Uganda (UPDF, por sus siglas en inglés) han estado trabajando estrechamente con EEUU, Gran Bretaña e Israel en África Oriental.

El alcance de la influencia israelí en la oposición sudanesa y grupos separatistas es importante. El SPLM tiene fuerte vínculos con Israel y sus miembros y seguidores visitan regularmente Israel. A esto se debe que Jartum capitulara y eliminara a finales de 2009 las restricciones del pasaporte sudanés para visitar Israel a fin de satisfacer al SPLM [4]. Salva Kiir Mayardit ha dicho también que el Sur de Sudán reconocerá a Israel cuando se escinda de Sudán.

The Sudan Tribune informó el 5 de marzo de 2008 de que los grupos separatistas en Darfur y el Sur de Sudán tenían oficinas en Israel: “Los partidarios del SPLM en Israel anunciaron el establecimiento de una oficina en Israel, según publicaron en un comunicado de prensa. Tras consultas celebradas con los dirigentes del SPLM en Juba, los seguidores de este Movimiento en Israel han decidido establecer la oficina del SPLM en Israel”, se decía [sic] en un comunicado recibido por email desde Tel Aviv y firmado por el secretariado del SPLM en Israel.

El comunicado decía también que la oficina del SPLM promovería las políticas y la posición del grupo en la región. Añadía además que, de acuerdo con el Acuerdo Global de Paz, el SPLM tenía derecho a abrir oficina en cualquier país, incluido Israel. También indicaba que tenían alrededor de 400 partidarios en ese país. El líder rebelde de Darfur Abdel Wahid al-Nur dijo la pasada semana que había abierto una oficina en Tel Aviv [5].

El secuestro del Referéndum de 2011 en el Sur de Sudán

¿Qué ha sucedido con los sueños de un África unida o un Mundo Árabe Unido? El panarabismo, un movimiento para unir a todos los pueblos de lengua árabe, ha sufrido graves pérdidas, al igual que la unidad africana. El Mundo Árabe y África se han visto constantemente balcanizados.

La secesión y balcanización del África Oriental y del Mundo Árabe ocupan un lugar preeminente en los planes de EEUU, Israel y la OTAN.

EEUU, Gran Bretaña e Israel  han estado financiando la insurgencia del SSLA desde los años de la década de 1980. La formación de un nuevo estado en Sudán no intenta servir a los intereses del pueblo del Sur de Sudán. Ha sido y es parte de una agenda geoestratégica global que persigue controlar el Magreb y el Oriente Medio.

El proceso de “democratización” resultante antesala del referéndum de 2011 sirve a los intereses de las compañías petroleras anglo-estadounidenses en su rivalidad con China. Esto se produce en detrimento de la verdadera soberanía nacional del Sur de Sudán.

Texto original : http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22736

Traducido para Rebelión por Sinfo Fernández

NOTAS:

[1] Una cleptocracia es un gobierno o/y estado que trabaja para proteger, extender, profundizar, continuar y fortalecer la riqueza de las clases dominantes.

[2] Jeffrey Goldberg: “After Iraq: What Will The Middle East Look Like?” The Atlantic, enero/febrero 2008.

[3] William Maclean: “Copts on global Christmas alert after Egypt bombing”, Reuters, 5 enero 2011.

[4] “Sudan removes Israel travel ban from new passport”, Sudan Tribune, 3 octubre 2009: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?iframe&page=imprimable&id_article=32776 .

[5] “Sudan’s SPLM reportedly opens an office in Israel – statement”, Sudan Tribune, 5 marzo 2008:

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?page=imprimable&id_article=26251 .

 

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya es un escritor independiente establecido en Ottawa. Es especialista en temas estratégicos y geopolíticos del Oriente Medio y un frecuente colaborador  de Global Research.

General Zine el Abidine Ben Ali , the defunct and deposed president of Tunisia is heralded by the Western media, in chorus, as a dictator.

The Tunisian protest movement is casually described as the consequence of an undemocratic and authoritarian regime, which defies the norms of the “international community”.

But Ben Ali was not a “dictator”. Dictators decide and dictate. Ben Ali was a servant of Western economic interests, a faithful political puppet who obeyed orders, with the active support of the international community.

Foreign interference in Tunisia’s domestic affairs is not mentioned in the media reports. The food price hikes were not “dictated” by the Ben Ali government. They were imposed by Wall Street and the IMF. 

The role of Ben Ali’s government was to enforce the IMF’s deadly economic medicine, which over a period of more than twenty years has served to destabilize the national economy and impoverish the Tunisian population.

Ben Ali as head of state did not decide on anything of substance. National sovereignty was foregone. In 1987, at the height of the debt crisis, the left nationalist government of Habib Bourguiba was replaced by a new regime, firmly committed to “free market” reforms.

Macroeconomic management under the helm of the IMF was in the hands of Tunisia’s external creditors. Over the last 23 years, economic and social policy in Tunisia has been dictated by the Washington Consensus.

Ben Ali stayed in power because his government obeyed and effectively enforced the diktats of the IMF, while serving the interests of both the US and the European Union.

This pattern has occurred in numerous countries.

Continuity of the IMF’s deadly reforms requires “regime replacement”. The installation of a political puppet ensures the enforcement of the neoliberal agenda while also creating conditions for the eventual demise of a corrupt and unpopular government which has been draw upon to impoverish an entire population.

The Protest Movement

It is not Wall Street and the Washington based international financial institutions which are the direct target of the protest movement. The social implosion was directed against a government rather than against the interference of foreign powers in the conduct of government policy.

At the outset, the protests were not the result of an organized political movement directed against the imposition of the neoliberal reforms.

Moreover, there are indications that the protest movement was manipulated with a view to creating social chaos as well as ensuring political continuity. There are unconfirmed reports of armed militias conducting acts of repression and intimidation in major urban areas.

The important question is how will the crisis evolve? How will the broader issue of foreign interference be addressed by the Tunisian people?

From the standpoint of both Washington and Brussels, an unpopular authoritarian regime is slated to be replaced  by a new puppet government. Elections are envisaged under the supervision of the so-called international community, in which case candidates would be pre-selected and approved.

Were this process of regime change to be carried out on behalf of foreign interests, the new proxy government would no doubt ensure the continuity of the neoliberal policy agenda which has served to impoverish the Tunisian population.

The interim government led by acting president Fouad Mebazza is currently in an impasse, with fierce opposition emanating from the trade union movement (UGTT). Mebazza has promised to “break with past”, without however specifying whether this signifies a repeal of the neoliberal economic reforms.

Historical Background

The media in chorus have  presented the crisis in Tunisia as an issue of domestic politics, without a historical insight. The presumption is that with the removal of “the dictator” and the instatement of a duly elected government, the social crisis will eventually be resolved. 

The first “bread riots” in Tunisia date back to 1984. The January 1984 protest movement was motivated by a 100 percent hike in the price of bread. This hike had been demanded by the IMF under Tunisia’s structural adjustment program (SAP). The elimination of food subsidies was a de facto condition of the loan agreement with the IMF.

President Habib Bourguiba, who played a historical role in liberating his country from French colonialism, declared a state of emergency in response to the riots:

While gunfire sounded, police and army troops in Jeeps and armored personnel carriers fanned out through the city to quell the “bread riot.” The show of force finally brought an uneasy calm, but only after more than 50 demonstrators and bystanders were killed. Then, in a dramatic five-minute radio and television broadcast, Bourguiba announced that he was reversing the price hike. (Tunisia: Bourguiba Lets Them Eat Bread – TIME, January 1984)

Following president Bourguiba’s retraction, the hike in the price of bread was reversed. Bourguiba fired his Minister of the Interior and refused to abide by the demands of the Washington Consensus.

The neoliberal agenda had nonetheless been instated, leading to rampant inflation and mass unemployment. Three years later, Bourguiba and his government were removed in a bloodless coup d’Etat, “on the grounds of incompetence”, leading to the instatement of General Zine el Abidine Ben Ali as president in November 1987. This coup was not directed against Bourguiba, it was largely intended to permanently dismantle the nationalist political structure initially established in the mid-1950s, while also privatizing State assets.

The military coup not only marked the demise of post-colonial nationalism which had been led by Bourguiba, it also contributed to weakening the role of France.  The Ben Ali government became firmly aligned with Washington rather than Paris.

Barely a few months following Ben Ali’s November 1987 instatement as the country’s president, a major agreement was signed with the IMF. An agreement had also been reached with Brussels pertaining to the establishment of a free trade regime with the EU. A massive privatization program under the supervision of the IMF-World Bank was also launched. With hourly wages of the order of Euro 0.75 an hour, Tunisia had also become a cheap labor haven for the European Union.

Who is the dictator?

A review of IMF documents suggests that from Ben Ali’s inauguration in 1987  to the present, his government had faithfully abided by IMF-World Bank conditionalities, including the firing of public sector workers, the elimination of price controls over essential consumer goods and the implementation of a sweeping privatization program.  The lifting of trade barriers ordered by the World Bank was conducive to triggering  a wave of bankruptcies.

Following these dislocations of the national economy, cash remittances from Tunisian workers in the European Union became an increasingly important source of the foreign exchange earnings.

There are some 650,000 Tunisians living overseas. Total workers’ remittances in 2010 were of the order of  US$1.960 billion, an increase of  57 percent in relation to 2003. A large share of these remittances in foreign exchange will be used to service the country’s external debt.

The Speculative Hike in World Food Prices

In September 2010, an understanding was reached between Tunis and the IMF, which recommended the removal of remaining subsidies as a means to achieving fiscal balance:

Fiscal prudence remains an overarching priority for the [Tunisian] authorities, who also see the need for maintaining a supportive fiscal policy in 2010 in the current international environment. Efforts in the last decade to bring down the public debt ratio significantly should not be jeopardized by a too lax fiscal policy. The authorities are committed to firmly control current expenditure, including subsidies,…  IMF  Tunisia: 2010 Article IV Consultation – Staff Report; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director for Tunisia http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2010/cr10282.pdf

It is worth noting that the IMF’s insistence on fiscal austerity and the removal of subsidies coincided chronologically with a renewed upsurge in staple food prices on the London, New York and Chicago commodity exchanges. These price hikes are in large part the result of speculative trade by major financial and corporate agribusiness interests.

These hikes in food prices, which are the result of outright manipulation (rather than scarcity) have served to impoverish people Worldwide. The surge in food prices constitutes a new phase of the process of global impoverishment.

“The media has casually misled public opinion on the causes of these price hikes, focusing almost exclusively on issues of costs of production, climate and other factors which result in reduced supply and which might contribute to boosting the price of food staples. While these factors may come into play, they are of limited relevance in explaining the impressive and dramatic surge in commodity prices.

Spiralling food prices are in large part the result of market manipulation. They are largely attributable to speculative trade on the commodity markets. Grain prices are boosted artificially by large scale speculative operations on the New York and Chicago mercantile exchanges. …

Speculative trade in wheat, rice or corn, can occur without the occurrence of real commodity transactions. The institutions speculating in the grain market are not necessarily involved in the actual selling or delivery of grain.

The transactions may use commodity index funds which are bets on the general upward or downward movement of commodity prices. A “put option” is a bet that the price will go down, a “call option” is a bet that the price will go up. Through concerted manipulation, institutional traders and financial institutions make the price go up and then place their bets on an upward movement in the price of a particular commodity. 

Speculation generates market volatility. In turn, the resulting instability encourages further speculative activity.

Profits are made when the price goes up. Conversely, if the speculator is short-selling the market, money will be made when the price collapses.

This recent speculative surge in food prices has been conducive to a Worldwide process of famine formation on an unprecedented scale.” (Michel Chossudovsky, Global Famine, Global Research, May 2, 2008, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8877)

From 2006 to 2008, there was a dramatic surge in the prices of all major food staples including rice, wheat and corn. The price of rice tripled over a five year period, from approximately 600$ a ton in 2003 to more than 1800$ a ton in May 2008.

(Michel Chossudovsky, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9191, For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, Chapter 7 Global Poverty and the Economic Crisis in Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, editors, The Global Economic Crisis, The Great Depression of the XXI Century, Global Research, Montreal 2010, http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20425 )

The recent surge in the price of grain staples is characterized by a 32 percent jump in the FAO’s composite food price index recorded in the second half of 2010.

“Soaring prices of sugar, grain and oilseed drove world food prices to a record in December, surpassing the levels of 2008 when the cost of food sparked riots around the World, and prompting warnings of prices being in “danger territory”.

An index compiled monthly by the United Nations surpassed its previous monthly high – June 2008 – in December to reach the highest level since records began in 1990. Published by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the index tracks the prices of a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, and has risen for six consecutive months.” (Jill Treanor, World food prices enter ‘danger territory’ to reach record high, The Guardian, January 5, 2011)

Bitter irony: Against a background of rising food prices, the IMF recommends the removal of the subsidies with a view to reaching the goal of fiscal austerity. 

Manipulating the Data on Poverty and Unemployment

An atmosphere of social despair prevails, people’s lives are destroyed.

While, the protest movement in Tunisia is visibly the direct result of a process mass impoverishment, the World Bank contends that the levels of poverty have been reduced as a result of the free market reforms adopted by the Ben Ali government.

According to the World Bank’s country report, the Tunisian government (with the support of the Bretton Woods institutions) was instrumental in reducing the levels of poverty to 7 percent (substantially lower than that recorded in the US and the EU). 

Tunisia has made remarkable progress on equitable growth, fighting poverty and achieving good social indicators. It has sustained an average 5 percent growth rate over the past 20 years with a steady increase in per capita income and a corresponding increase in the welfare of its population that is underscored by a poverty level of 7% that is amongst the lowest in the region.

The steady increase in per capita income has been the main engine for poverty reduction. … Rural roads have been particularly important in helping the rural poor connect to urban markets and services. Housing programs improved the living conditions of the poor and also freed up income and savings to spend on food and non-food items with resulting positive impacts on poverty alleviation. Food subsidies, which have been targeted to the poor, albeit not optimally, have also helped the urban poor. (World Bank Tunisia – Country Brief)

These poverty figures, not to mention the underlying economic and social “analysis”, are outright fabrications. They present the free market as the engine of poverty alleviation. The World Bank’s analytical framework is used to justify a process of “economic repression”, which has been applied Worldwide in more than 150 developing countries.

With a mere 7 percent of the population living in poverty (as suggested by the World Bank “estimate”) and 93 percent of the population meeting basic needs in terms of food, housing, health and education, there would be no social crisis in Tunisia.  

The World Bank is actively involved in cooking the data and distorting the social plight of the Tunisian population. The official rate of unemployment is 14 percent, the actual level of unemployment is much higher. Recorded youth unemployment is of the order of 30 percent. Social services, including health and education have collapsed under the brunt of the IMF-World Bank economic austerity measures.

Tunisia and the World

What is happening in Tunisia is part of a global economic process which destroys people’s lives through the deliberate manipulation of market forces. 

More generally, “the harsh economic and social realities underlying IMF intervention are soaring food prices, local-level famines, massive lay-offs of urban workers and civil servants and the destruction of social programs. Internal purchasing power has collapsed, health clinics and schools have been closed down, hundreds of millions of children have been denied the right to primary education.” (Michel Chossudovsky, Global Famine, op cit.) 


What is required is to direct the protest movement not solely against the government but against the US Embassy, the Delegation of the European Union, the IMF and the World Bank Tunisia country missions. [M. C. added on January 22, 2010]

The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order 

by Michel Chossudovsky

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

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

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

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

Published in 13 languages. More than 120,000 copies sold Worldwide.

TO ORDER ONLINE DIRECTLY FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

Financial Chaos and Debt Default in the European Union

January 19th, 2011 by Bob Chapman

Between now and the end of the year, most likely in the fall, we’ll see major financial and economic problems in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Italy. Those events will sorely test Germany, France, Holland and Austria.

Over and over we hear announcements from Brazil of trade wars. Brazil is deliberately reining in their currency, the real, due to its strength. They have imposed reserve requirements on domestic banks’ foreign exchange positions. These are taxes on investments and de facto currency controls. Such actions are very good moves that cause indirect higher gold prices.

In Ireland harsh measures are being taken. Public spending will be cut 12%. Added to that is a tax increase that would be a reduction of $7.8 billion. Public services and the minimum wage will be cut as well. The wealthy will pay more and child support payments will fall.

While the above troubles manifest themselves the US goes merrily on its way like nothing was wrong. Americans have been pre-propagandized, as they were under stimulus – one into believing a recovery is in progress.  We don’t share that prediction. The Irish and others understand their problems, but Americans cannot come to grips with them.

Like other members of the euro zone, Ireland discovered they could borrow cheaply under one interest rate fits all. This policy, which we predicted 14 years ago, would be disastrous, was disastrous for Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, and Belgium. Needless to say, the leverage provided by cheap money brought on speculation, particularly in real estate, that brought on today’s problems. Yes, speculation by individuals was a problem, but as in other countries, the problems really lie with the banks, which are really responsible for these tragedies. They should have never made the loans in the first place. Stupidly, the Irish government bailed out the banks just like Greece did. They should have defaulted and allowed the banks to fail. The banks were more than complicient. Just as we see now in the US the banks have at least temporarily been bailed out and depositors guaranteed that their savings are safe. There are also the stimulus programs everyone else has tried as well, that we have seen ultimately don’t work. That is because they are geared to bail out the financial sector and not the economy.

Ireland’s budget will be followed by equally harsh budgets guided by the IMF, which will lead to decades of poverty, as bad as the 800 year reign of Britain over the Emerald Isle. PM Brian Cowen and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan sold out the Irish people to British bankers. The vultures are circling the Republic to prepare for years of future enslavement. Many have called it economic treason.

Allied Irish Bank and Anglo Irish Bank caused all the problems and now the Irish people have to bail them out. A then secret meeting was held at which AG Paul Gallagher sat in as adviser to the government and Dermot Gleeson, AIB Chairman and former AG representing the banks. Both are Illuminists and members of the Bilderberg Group. These two and the PM and FM sold out Ireland to save the banks owned and controlled by the British. They have put the Irish people on the hook for $600 billion. In addition, government bought $70 billion in toxic bonds containing real estate from these banks. These banks are owned by British, French, German banks that are controlled by the Black Nobility and among them the Rothschilds and Queen Beatrix of Holland, an ardent Bilderberg. Her father, Prince Bernard, was a former Colonel in Hitler’s SS.

The only thing left for Ireland to do is to default and leave the euro returning to the Irish punt. They should also leave the EU. They should also end fractional reserve banking, which would allow government to issue debt free, interest free money with gold backing. They should kick Royal Dutch Shell out of the Irish offshore gas fields and much more.  This in part was what we told the Greeks to do.

We see a rocky year in Europe that could end in bankruptcies. The efforts to bailout Greece and Ireland and now Portugal and Spain, will increase debt throughout Europe and lead to all nations having problems. The deal struck with Ireland to cover bank insolvency will only increase the debt in the long run and not solve the problem. There is no effort of debt restructuring because the banks refuse to take losses. This attitude and policy is carried forward in all governments via fellow Bilderberg connections. The system has to be changed and purged, but they won’t hear of that. Again, we remind everyone it was the banks that were and are responsible for the condition that the Western world is in today and now they want the public to bail them out. The banks are an extension of the Fed in the US and the Fed was the moving party. They lowered interest rates eventually to zero and it was they who increased money and credit by 17% to 18% for an extended period of time. The Fed created the debt bubble and all the damage you see is a result of that. They are now using tactics, which they know will not work, but they do not know what else to do. It is all about buying time and covering up what they have done. As a result not only did banks over leverage, but so did corporations and individuals, not to mention speculators. Now that bank leverage is down from 70 to 1 to 40 to 1, when 9 to 1 is normal. They are getting a high enough return from the Fed that they have cut lending by 25% or more to small and medium sized businesses. Such antics can only impede recovery. We have been told since last June that lending would increase. By the Fed’s own admission it has increased by a very small amount. Thus, our conclusion is that the Fed is deliberately restricting lending in order to keep banks away from risky loans.

These Fed policies and those of the ECB are designed to extend problems rather than solve them, which tells us there is no solution. Look at what has been done in Greece. No solution, just patchwork and austerity in order to delay the problems. Ireland’s bailout is a carbon copy. Such programs can only bring on default, which we expect to occur later this year. In March or April  the Irish election result could turn everything upside down. That could cause a run on other sick economies. This grand design for nations to be interconnected could eventually cause all of them to collapse like dominoes. If the US, the UK and Europe are in trouble the entire world is in trouble.

QE1 and QE2, as well as TARP and other programs were only designed to bail out the financial sector in Europe as well as the US. As we predicted last May there would be QE2 and then QE3. The aggregate spending $2.5 trillion each time, as we saw in QE1. In QE2 the pork laden extension of the Bush tax cuts supplied the $868 billion to assist the fed in keeping the economy and the financial sector afloat. After expenses the Fed returns its profits back to the Treasury. That then isn’t a major problem. What is the problem is that the owners of the Fed control all aspects of financial and economic life. They do not get inside information; they create it. What these banks and brokerage houses do is make mega-money because they really control the system. That is what the Fed is all about – control. Can you imagine trading departments at major brokerage firms and banks for months never have a losing day trading? We were professional traders for 25 years – that is simply impossible unless it involves illegal activity. The owners of the Fed have a license to steal. They created the credit crisis and the taxpayer now is subsidizing them so they can make even more wealth. All this happens because people do not understand fractional banking and the true role of the Fed, which is to loot America.

The pork laden tax bill may temporarily help the economy, but QE2 will only flow to the Treasury and the financial sector. As we have said before the Fed could end up owning all of the Treasury debt. These desperate actions cannot help but force foreign buyers to vacate the market. These activities of the Fed and the fiscal irresponsibility of government in time can only create more inflation.

The spent and borrow policy is totally profligate and will have to be paid for by future generations, if not defaulted upon.

Then there is the horrible concept of free trade, globalization and terrorism. Today anything you have to say that government disagrees with labels you a terrorist. Government tells us danger lurks everywhere. These fears in part are neutralized by the good deeds being done by transnational conglomerates. If they provide jobs and opportunities in the second and third world’s there supposedly will be less chance of conflict with terrorists and others who disagree with US policy. Everything is supposed to have a global solution. The cost for this over the past 11 years has been the loss of 8.5 million good paying jobs and 42,400 businesses that will never return unless we institute tariffs on goods and services. Of course, in this process these transnationals get filthy rich and avoid some $750 billion in taxes. That is if they are able to pull off their latest tax-free caper. This in part is what the new world order is all about. Destroy the economies of Europe and the US and force them to accept world government. These are part of the group of people who want to dictate how you will live – every facet of your life. This process destroys the sovereignty of the nation state. Their functions are taken over by the World Bank, IMF, BIS and the WTO.

We are then beset with the privately owned Federal Reserve whose power stretches worldwide. Recent legislation makes the Fed a financial and monetary all encompassing monopoly. The Fed from its inception usurped the power of the Constitution and the US Treasury. The IOU’s, Treasury bonds, are sold to the Fed for a digital entry, the value of which is created out of thin air. For this the Fed receives interest paid by US taxpayers. Funds are used by the Fed on a fractional basis multiplying profits. That means interest is paid indefinitely unless the bonds are redeemed.

Today as a solution to poor bank lending we see austerity programs whose creation go back centuries. The enforcer today is the IMF, which in its processes becomes a dictatorial power of its own. In the austerity process comes privatization or the looting of assets owned by a sovereign state in the name of repatriation of debt. Of course, the buyers at $0.30 on the dollar are transnational conglomerates, part of the worldwide Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission. This cartel of bankers controls all these institutions and has for hundreds of years in one form or another. The idea is to bring on perpetual economic and financial crisis, so that the IMF’s work is never completed. A form of debt bondage, which is supposed to be stability. The IMF may be the new world order’s Gestapo, which sets up formerly sovereign states as supplicant members of world government. The goal ultimately is a world bank to control all nations monetarily and financially. The stepping-stone to this condition is the BIS, the Bank for International Settlements.

This GEAB issue marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin. In January 2006, on the occasion of the first issue, the LEAP/E2020 team indicated that a period of four to seven years was opening up which would be characterized by the “Fall of the Dollar Wall”, an event similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall which resulted, in the following years, in the collapse of the communist bloc then that of the USSR. Today, in this GEAB issue, which presents our thirty-two anticipations for 2011, we believe that the coming year will be a pivotal year in the roll out of this process between 2010 and 2013. It will be, in any case, a ruthless year because it will mark the entry into the terminal phase of the world before the crisis (1).

Since September 2008, when the evidence of the global and systemic nature of the crisis became clear to all, the United States, and behind it the Western countries, were content with palliative measures that have merely hidden the undermining effects of the crisis on the foundations of the present-day international system. 2011 will, according to our team, mark the crucial moment when, on the one hand, these palliative measures see their anesthetic effect fade away whilst, in contrast, the consequences of systemic dislocation in recent years will dramatically surge to the forefront (2).

In summary, 2011 will be marked by a series of violent shocks that will explode the faulty safety devices put in place since 2008 (3) and will carry off, one by one, the “pillars” on which the “Dollar Wall” has rested for decades. Only the countries, communities, organizations and individuals which, over the last three years, have actually undertaken to learn the lessons from the current crisis to distance themselves as quickly as possible from the pre-crisis patterns, values and behavior will get through this year unscathed; the others will be carried away in the procession of monetary, financial, economic, social and political difficulties that 2011 holds.

Thus, as we believe that 2011 will, globally, be the most chaotic year since 2006, the date of the beginning of our work on the crisis, in this GEAB issue our team has focused on 32 anticipations for 2011, which also include a number of recommendations to deal with future shocks. Thus, this GEAB issue offers a kind of map forecasting financial, monetary, political, economic and social shocks for the next twelve months.

If our team believes that 2011 will be the worst year since 2006, the beginning of our anticipation work on the systemic crisis, it’s because it’s at the crossroads of three paths to global chaos. Absent fundamental treatment of the causes of the crisis, since 2008 the world has only gone back to take a better jump forward.

A bloodless international system

The first path that the crisis can take to cause world chaos is simply a violent and unpredictable shock. The dilapidated state of the international system is now so advanced that its cohesion is at the mercy of any large-scale disaster (4). Just look at the inability of the international community to effectively help Haiti over the past year (5), the United States to rebuild New Orleans for six years, the United Nations to resolve the problems in Darfur, Côte d’Ivoire for a decade, the United States to progress peace in the Middle East, NATO to beat the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Security Council to control the Korean and Iranian issues, the West to stabilize Lebanon, the G20 to end the global crisis be it financial, food, economic, social, monetary, … to see that over the whole range of climatic and humanitarian disasters, like economic and social crises, the international system is now powerless.

In fact, since the mid-2000s at least, all the major global players, at their head of course the United States and its cortege of Western countries, do no more than give out information, or gesticulate. In reality, all bets are off: The crisis ball rolls and everyone holds their breath so it doesn’t fall on their square. But gradually the increasing risks and issues of the crisis have changed the casino’s roulette wheel into Russian roulette. For LEAP/E2020, the whole world has begun to play Russian roulette (6), or rather its 2011 version, “American Roulette” with five bullets in the barrel.

Monthly progression of the FAO food index (2010) and the price of principal foodstuffs (2009/2010) (base 100: averaged over 2002-2004) - Source: FAO/Crikey, 01/2011
Monthly progression of the FAO food index (2010) and the price of principal foodstuffs (2009/2010) (base 100: averaged over 2002-2004) – Source: FAO/Crikey, 01/2011

Soaring commodity prices (food, energy (7),…) should remind us of 2008 (8). It was indeed in the six months preceding Lehman Brothers and Wall Street’s collapse that the previous episode of sharp increases in commodity prices was set. And the actual causes are the same as before: a flight from financial and monetary assets in favour of “concrete” investments. Last time the big players fled the mortgage market and everything that depended on it, as well as the U.S. Dollar; today they are fleeing all financial stocks, Treasury bonds (9) and other public debts. Therefore, we have to wait for a time between Spring and Autumn 2011 for the explosion of the quadruple bubble of Treasury bonds, public debt (10), bank balance sheets (11) and real estate (American, Chinese, British, Spanish,… and commercial (12)), all taking place against a backdrop of a heightened currency war (13).

The inflation induced by US, British and Japanese Quantitative Easing and similar stimulus measures of the Europeans and Chinese will be one of the destabilizing factors in 2011 (14). We will come back to this in more detail in this issue. But what is now clear with respect to what is happening in Tunisia (15), is that this global context, especially the rise in food and energy prices, now leads on to radical social and political shocks (16). The other reality that the Tunisian case reveals is the impotence of the French, Italian or American “godfathers” to prevent the collapse of a “friendly regime” (17).

Impotence of the major global geopolitical players

And this impotence of the major global geopolitical players is the other path that the crisis can use to produce world chaos in 2011. In effect, one can place the major G20 powers in two groups whose only point in common is that they are unable to influence events decisively.

On one side we haves a moribund West with, on the one hand, the United States, for whom 2011 will show that its leadership is no more than fiction (see this issue) and which is trying to freeze the entire international system in its configuration of the early 2000s (18), and on the other hand we have Euroland, “sovereign” in the pipeline, which is currently mainly focused on adapting to its new environment (19) and new status as an emerging geopolitical entity (20), and which, therefore, has neither the energy nor the vision necessary to influence world events (21).

And on the other side are the BRIC countries (with China and Russia in particular) who are, at the moment, proving to be incapable of taking control of all or part of the international system and whose only action is therefore limited to quietly undermine what remains of the foundations of the pre-crisis order (22).

Ultimately, impotence is widespread (23) at the international community level, increasing not only the risk of major shocks, but also the significance of the consequences of these shocks. The world of 2008 was taken by surprise by the violent impact of the crisis, but paradoxically the international system was better equipped to respond being organized around an undisputed leader (24). In 2011, this is no longer the case: not only is there no undisputed leader, but the system is bloodless as we have seen above. And the situation is aggravated further by the fact that the societies of many countries in the world are on the verge of socio-economic break-up.

US petrol prices (2009-2011) - Source: GasBuddy, 01/2011
US petrol prices (2009-2011) – Source: GasBuddy, 01/2011

Societies on the edge of socio-economic break-up

This is particularly the case in the United States and Europe where three years of crisis are beginning to weigh very heavily on the socio-economic and therefore political balance. US households, now insolvent in their tens of millions, oscillate between sustained poverty (25) and rage against the system. European citizens, trapped between unemployment and the dismantling of the welfare state (26), are starting to refuse to pay the bills for financial and budget crises and are beginning to look for culprits (banks, the Euro, government political parties…).

But amongst the emerging powers too, the violent transition which constitutes the crisis is leading societies towards situations of break-up: in China, the need to control expanding financial bubbles is hampered by the desire to improve the lot of whole sectors of society such as the need for employment for tens of millions of casual workers; in Russia, the weakness of the social security system fits badly with the enrichment of the elite, just as in Algeria shaken by riots. In Turkey, Brazil and India, everywhere the rapid change these countries are seeing is triggering riots, protests and terrorist attacks. For reasons that are sometimes contradictory, growth for some, penury for others, across the globe our diverse societies tackle 2011 in a context of strong tensions and socio-economic break-up, which have the making of political time bombs.

It’s its position at the crossroads of three paths which thus makes 2011 a ruthless year. And ruthless it will be for the States (and local authorities) which have chosen not to draw hard conclusions from the three years of crisis which have gone before and / or who have contented themselves with cosmetic changes not altering their fundamental imbalances at all. It will also be so for businesses (and States (27)) who believed that the improvement in 2010 was a sign of a return to “normal” of the global economy. And finally it will be so for investors who have not understood that yesterday’s investments (securities, currencies,…) couldn’t be those of tomorrow (in any case for several years). History is usually a “good girl”. She often gives a warning shot before sweeping away the past. This time, it gave the warning shot in 2008. We estimate that in 2011, it will do the sweeping. Only players who have undertaken, even painstakingly, even partially, to adapt to the new conditions generated by the crisis will be able to hang on; for the others, chaos is at the end of the road.

Notes:

(1) Or of the world that we have known since 1945 to repeat our 2006 description.

(2) The recent decision by the US Department of Labor to extend the inclusion of the measure of long-term unemployment in the US employment statistics to five years instead of the maximum of two years until now, is a good indicator of the entry into a new stage of the crisis, a step that has seen the disappearance of the “practices” of the world before. As a matter of fact, the US government cites “the unprecedented rise” of long-term unemployment to justify this decision. Source: The Hill, 12/28/2010

(3) These measures (monetary, financial, economic, budgetary, strategic) are now closely linked. That’s why they will be carried away in a series of successive shocks.

(4) Source: The Independent, 01/13/2011

(5) It’s even worse because it was international aid that brought cholera to the island, causing thousands of deaths.

(6) Moreover Timothy Geithner, US Treasury Secretary, little known for his overactive imagination, has just indicated that “the US government could once again have to do exceptional things”, referring to the bank bailout in 2008. Source: MarketWatch, 01/13/2011

(7) Moreover, India and Iran are in the course of establishing a system of exchange “gold for oil” to try and avoid supply disruptions. Source: Times of India, 01/08/2011

(8) In January 2011 the FAO food price index (at 215) has just exceeded its previous record set in May 2008 (at 214).

(9) Wall Street banks are currently unloading their US Treasury bonds as fast as possible (unseen since 2004). Their official explanation is “the remarkable improvement in the US economy which no longer requires us to seek refuge in Treasury Bonds”. Of course, you are free to believe it, like Bloomberg ’s journalist on 01/10/2011.

(10) Thus Euroland is already taking big steps forward along the path described in the GEAB N°50 with a discount in the case of refinancing the debts of a member state, whilst Japanese and US debt are now about to enter the storm. Sources: Bloomberg, 01/07/2011; Telegraph, 01/05/2011

(11) We believe that, in general, global banks’ balance sheets contain at least 50% ghost assets which in the coming year will require to be discounted by between 20% to 40% due to the return of the global recession combined with austerity, the rise in defaults on household, business, community and state loans, currency wars and a pickup in the fall of real estate prices. The American, European, Chinese, Japanese and others “stress-tests” can still continue to try and reassure markets with “Care Bears” scenarios except that this year it’s “Alien against Predator ” which is on the banks’ agenda. Source: Forbes, 01/12/2011

(12) Each of these real estate markets will fall sharply again in 2011 in the case of those which have already started falling in recent years, or in the case of China, which will begin its sharp deflation amid economic slowdown and monetary tightening.

(13) The Japanese economy is, moreover, one of the first victims of this currency war, with 76% of the CEOs of 110 major Japanese companies surveyed by Kyodo News now reported being pessimistic about Japanese growth in 2011 following the rise in the yen. Source: JapanTimes, 01/04/2011

(14) Here are several instructive examples put together by the excellent John Rubino. Source: DollarCollapse, 01/08/2011

(15) By way of reminder, in the GEAB N°48 we had classified Tunisia in the category of countries “with significant risks” in 2011.

(16) No doubt, moreover, that the Tunisian example is generating a round of reassessment amongst the rating agencies and the “experts in geopolitics”, who, as usual, didn’t see anything coming. The Tunisian case also illustrates the fact that it’s now the satellite countries of the West in general and the US in particular, who are on the way to shocks in 2011 and in the years to come. And it confirms what we regularly repeat: a crisis accelerates all the historical processes. The Ben Ali regime, twenty-three years old, collapsed in a few weeks. When political obsolescence is involved everything changes quickly. Now it’s all the pro-Western Arab regimes which are obsolete in the light of events in Tunisia.

(17) No doubt this « Western godfather » paralysis will be carefully analyzed in Rabat, Cairo, Jeddah and Amman, for example.

(18) A configuration that was all the more favorable because it was without a counterweight to their influence.

(19) We will return in more detail in this GEAB issue, but seen from China we are not mistaken. Source: Xinhua, 01/02/2011

(20) Little by little Europeans are discovering that they are dependent on centres of power other than Washington. Beijing, Moscow, Brazilia, New Dehli,… Source: La Tribune, 01/05/2011; Libération, 12/24/2010; El Pais, 01/05/2011

(21) All Japan’s energy is focused on its desperate attempt to resist the attraction of China. As for other Western countries, they are not able to significantly influence global trends.

(22) The US Dollar’s place in the global system is a part of these last foundations that the BRIC countries are actively eroding day after day.

(23) As regards deficit, the US case is textbook. Beyond the speeches, everything continues as before the crisis with a deficit swelling exponentially. However, even the IMF is now ringing the alarm. Source: Reuters, 01/08/2011

(24) Moreover, even the Wall Street Journal on 01/12/2011, echoing the Davos Forum, is concerned over the lack of international coordination, which is in itself a major risk to the global economy.

(25) Millions of Americans are discovering food banks for the first time in their lives, whilst in California, as in many other states, the education system is disintegrating fast. In Illinois, studies on the state deficit are now comparing it to the Titanic. 2010 broke the record for real estate foreclosures. Sources: Alternet, 12/27/2010; CNN, 01/08/2011; IGPA-Illinois, 01/2011; LADailyNews, 01/13/2011

(26) Ireland, which is facing, purely and simply, a reconstruction of its economy, is a good example of situations to come. But even Germany, with remarkable current economic results however can’t escape this development as shown by the funding crisis for cultural activities. Whilst in the United Kingdom, millions of retirees are seeing their incomes cut for the third year running. Sources : Irish Times, 12/31/2010; Deutsche Welle, 01/03/2011; Telegraph, 01/13/2011

(27) In this regard, US leaders confirm that they are rushing straight into the wall of public debt, failing to anticipate the problems. Indeed, the recent statement by Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, that the Fed will not help the States (30% fall in 2009 tax revenues according to the Washington Post on 01/05/2011) and the cities collapsing under their debts, just as Congress decides to stop issuing “Build America Bonds” which enabled States to avoid bankruptcy these last few years, shows a Washington blindness only equal to that which Washington demonstrated in 2007/2008 in the face of the mounting consequences of the “subprime” crisis. Sources: Bloomberg, 01/07/2011; WashingtonBlog, 01/13/2011

 

 

Night in Tunisia: Riots, Strikes and a Spreading Insurgency

January 19th, 2011 by Prof David McNally

Popular upheavals always carry a distinct sonic resonance. The cascading chants that reverberate through the streets, the roar of the crowd as it drives back the riot police and seizes the city square – all this and more produces an unmistakable acoustic effect. The rhythm of revolt pulsates through society, freedom music fills the air.

Ruminating about this as I watched rebellion flow from Tunisia to Algeria, Jordan and beyond, I was brought back to Dizzy Gillespie’s jazz anthem, Night in Tunisia. Gillespie’s tune emerged as part of a musical upheaval known as the bebop revolution. And its unique blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms and bebop idioms makes it an early experiment in “world music,” a border-crossing mixing of genres. And so it has been with the freedom music emanating from Tunisia. It too is hopping boundaries and echoing far and wide.

“The street has spoken,” is how one Tunisian protestor puts it. Indeed it has. And it shows no sign that it is about to stop its raucous agitation.

Riding a noisy wave of mobilizations, riots and strikes, on January 14 the people of Tunisia toppled the 23-year-long dictatorship of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, sending their former head of state into exile and recording the first great popular victory of the new year.

What’s more, the voices of the street are growing louder, echoing across Algeria, Jordan and beyond in a wave of popular protest directly linked to the world economic crisis.

It is vital to insist on this last aspect of events – their connection to the global slump. Not only is this link especially ominous for the powerful and privileged of the world, foreshadowing revolts to come; it is also critical to countering the narrative running through the western press that Tunisia’s revolt is a product of corruption unique to politics in the Arab world. The claim is a convenient mystification. For the Tunisian revolt grows out of the dialectic of the local and the global.

In many respects, the point is obvious. Tunisia’s riots and demonstrations began as a direct outburst of anger over unemployment and rising food prices. The spark was a police attack on a university-educated street vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, on December 17 in the central town of Sidi Bouzid. Claiming Bouazizi did not have a permit, police confiscated his goods and assaulted him. In and of itself, it was an ordinary event in the life of a poor man. But what came next was anything but ordinary. Using his remaining funds, the street vendor bought gasoline, marched to city hall, doused his clothing and set himself ablaze. He died in hospital less than three weeks later.

“We Will Avenge You”

In a country where the official jobless rate is 14 per cent and the real rate, especially for the young, is considerably higher, this dramatic episode became a lightning rod for popular discontent. Daily protests erupted immediately after Bouazizi’s desperate act, spreading to cities and towns across the country. Unemployed teachers, bus drivers, high school students and street vendors joined the mobilizations. As the movement gained momentum, demonstrators became increasingly confident, torching police cars and trashing businesses linked to President Ben Ali and his family. Then, following Bouazizi’s death, marchers at his funeral filled the air with chants of “Farewell, Mohammed, we will avenge you. We weep for you today; we will make those who caused your death weep.” They more than made good on the pledge.

By this point, the protests had taken on an explicitly political character. Unemployment and food prices remained key issues, but the movement was now directly attacking the president and his government.

Ben Ali reacted with the tools that had worked for 23 years: a ban on demonstrations; arrests of leftists and trade union leaders; tear gas, truncheons and guns; police repression, including the killing of at least 66 protestors. But none of this was able to break the protests. Not only was the movement growing in size and militancy, but working class organizations were coming to life.

Trade unions, quiescent for years and their leaders initially hesitant to join the struggle, became key hubs of resistance thanks to pressure by rank and file members. Spurred into action and radicalized by events, the General Union of Tunisian Workers Days began organizing rallies and launched a general strike. It is difficult to overstate the potential significance of these developments. A revitalized trade unionism is critical to the development of the movement in the months ahead. If union activism surges forward and makes common cause with students, street vendors and the unemployed, the insurgency could acquire a vital organizational forum and an increasingly working class character. Moreover, an emboldened and dynamic workers’ movement might undercut the demobilizing effects of backroom deals between the old regime and moderate opposition parties.

Who’s Next?

Equally important will be the degree to which the insurgent wave continues to flow across borders.

In the early days of January, riots broke out in Algeria in response to announced increases in prices for food and other staples. Railway workers struck, as did students at five universities. Clearly emboldened by events in neighbouring Tunisia, demonstrators attacked banks, police stations and government offices. Police violence and mass arrests – at least 1,000 people were detained – failed to dent the movement. As in Tunisia, the struggle moved to a higher level as unions and student groups came together demanding democratization and an end to police violence. In a desperate effort to stave off a Tunisian scenario, Algeria’s government back-tracked, declaring a 41 per cent cut to taxes on food.

Yet the spirit of rebellion did not rest. One day after Tunisia’s president was toppled, mass demonstrations erupted in Jordan on January 15, as thousands of people poured through the streets of Amman, the capital, and other cities to protest rising food prices and to demand the government’s resignation. Dubbed “Jordan’s Days of Rage,” the protests included a sit-in outside parliament by the country’s 14 trade unions.

Two days after the start of the Jordanian demonstrations, a new round of food riots broke out in northern Sudan, where the government is pushing up prices by lifting subsidies on food and petroleum.

This escalating insurgency has clearly shaken the region’s rulers. The Arab News warned for instance that:

“Those who see these disturbances as a local North African difficulty should think again. The hopelessness that drove this young Tunisian to his death, that has prompted several thousand of his compatriots to do the rare thing for Tunisia – take to the streets and riot – and that has seen young Algerians looting and rioting this week against price rises are a breakdown in law and order that was waiting to happen. It can happen elsewhere in the Arab world. It is not just in North Africa that the specter of unemployment looms.”

This is all true. There are indeed reasons specific to the region and the regimes involved that make these states particularly susceptible to rapid outbreaks of mass opposition. But in the West, this has given rise to a colonialist discourse that attributes all ills to the demonstrable brutality of corrupt regimes. This conveniently ignores the direct role of states like the U.S. and France in propping up and supporting Ben Ali’s dictatorship for more than two decades. It also ignores the way in which these are local expressions of revolt linked to global economic issues.

Food and the Global Slump

For the massive spike in food prices is directly connected to the turmoil in the world economy that has been raging since the outbreak of the financial crisis of 2008.

The first effect of the global economic slump was to dampen rising food prices. As layoffs and unemployment soared, demand slumped and food prices came down. But now, as the crisis changes form, they are on the rise once again and reaching unprecedented heights. Indeed, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index has reached an all-time high, having risen a staggering 32 per cent in the last half of 2010. Food is now more expensive than ever, aggravating economic hardship across the Global South and throwing fuel on the fire of popular resentment.

One part of the story here has to do with new flows of “hot money” generated by the world-wide bank bailouts and economic stimulus programs. As banks melted down and the world financial system teetered in 2008-09, governments in the dominant capitalist nations poured something in the range of $20-trillion into propping up the system and pushed down interest rates. In the U.S. a further $600-billion is being injected into the system by the Federal Reserve.

With a growing money supply and record low interest rates, there is a huge incentive for investors and speculators to borrow on the cheap in order to buy commodities (and currencies) that look likely to appreciate. So, currencies like the Brazilian real have been soaring, as have prices for basic commodities like food and oil.

All of this is driving forward a wave of land grabs, particularly in Africa and Latin America, as global corporations and governments, like China’s, buy and lease millions of hectares of arable, drillable and water and mineral rich land. The result is yet further waves of accumulation by dispossession, to use David Harvey’s term, that displace indigenous peoples, peasants and farmers and deprive them of means of feeding themselves, thus exacerbating problems of displacement, hunger and poverty.

Add into the equation two further factors – the increasing use of arable land for the production of biofuels rather than food, and speculation by investors gambling that a poor Russian harvest or floods in Australia will damage food supplies and further drive up prices – and we have all the ingredients for huge price spikes and a new world food crisis. These are yet further ingredients for popular revolt.

This is why protests (some of them being manipulated by opportunists of the Right) are also building in India, where prices are soaring at a rate of more than 18 per cent – this in a country where the World Bank says 828 million live on less than $2 a day. In short, we are not dealing with a problem specific to the Arab world, even if movements there more readily become a direct challenge to authoritarian regimes. No, the problem has deep roots in the global economic system and the particular forms of its current crisis.

In my last blog I wrote that I would soon take up the question of resistance to the politics of austerity that characterize this period of global slump – “Like we said, it’s a global slump.” But the insurgents of Tunisia and beyond have beaten me to it. They are showing far better than any blogger what can be accomplished by spirited mass insurgency and revived working class activism.

David McNally teaches political science at York University, Toronto and is the author of the recently published book, Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance.

Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields

January 19th, 2011 by David Swanson

Note to Truthout Readers From David Swanson

Truthout is publishing chapter eight of my new book “War Is A Lie.” I should explain where it fits in the overall argument I’ve made. The book strives to make a comprehensive case against the very idea that there can ever be a good or just war, any more than there can be a good slavery or a just rape. While Americans often turn against particular wars after cheering for them, many people maintain the fantasy that there could be a really good or necessary war next month. This delusion helps to keep around what President Eisenhower 50 years ago this week called the military-industrial complex, which is itself a large source of pressure for more wars.

The book argues against the various common types of lies used to justify wars: lies about the evil of opponents, lies about the defensive nature of aggressive wars, lies about the humanitarian benefits of wars, and so forth. But the very term “war” can be a lie if it brings to mind the wrong images. The United States has not suffered modern warfare on its soil, making it easier for us to image that terms like “surgical strike” carry real useful meaning. Given the glorious motivations suggested for wars, most of us would be inclined to think a surgical strike was merited. But most of us would not be inclined to think that anything at all could justify actual warfare if we pictured it as it is. Chapter eight is part of that argument, addressing specifically what we think is meant when we hear reports from “the battlefield.” Even as the legal “battlefield” is expanded without limit as a means of eliminating civil liberties, the actual battlefield has ceased to exist in recognizable form.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to this book, the number of schools and colleges that are already using it, the peace and counterrecruitment groups that are distributing it. This may be the most satisfying project I’ve attempted, but it has a long way to go. Libraries and GI cafes need more books, which I can’t afford to supply. If you can help, or if you’d just like to learn more about the book, visit http://warisalie.org.

We talk of sending soldiers off to fight on battlefields. The word ‘battlefield’ appears in millions, possibly billions, of news stories about our wars. And the term conveys to many of us a location in which soldiers fight other soldiers. We don’t think of certain things being found in a battlefield. We don’t imagine whole families, or picnics, or wedding parties, for example, as being found on a battlefield — or grocery stores or churches. We don’t picture schools or playgrounds or grandparents in the middle of an active battlefield. We visualize something similar to Gettysburg or World War I France: a field with a battle on it. Maybe it’s in the jungle or the mountains or the desert of some distant land we’re “defending,” but it’s some sort of a field with a battle on it. What else could a battlefield be?

At first glance, our battlefields do not appear to be where we live and work and play as civilians, as long as “we” is understood to mean Americans. Wars don’t happen in the United States. But for the people living in the countries where our wars have been fought since, and including, World War II, the so- called “battlefield” has quite clearly included and continues to include their home towns and neighborhoods. In many cases, that is all the battlefield has consisted of. There hasn’t been any other, non-residential area constituting part of the battlefield. While the Battles of Bull Run or Manassas were fought in a field near Manassas, Virginia, the Battles of Fallujah were fought in the city of Fallujah, Iraq. When Vietnam was a battlefield, all of it was a battlefield, or what the U.S. Army now calls “the battlespace.” When our drones shoot missiles into Pakistan, the suspected terror plotters we’re murdering are not positioned in a designated field; they’re in houses, along with all of the other people we “accidentally” kill as part of the bargain. (And at least some of those people’s friends will indeed begin plotting terrorism, which is great news for the manufacturers of drones.)

It’s Everywhere

At second glance, the battlefield or battlespace does include the United States. In fact, it includes your bedroom, your living room, your bathroom, and every other spot on the planet or off it, and possibly even the thoughts that are in your head. The notion of a battlefield has been expanded, to put it mildly. It now encompasses anywhere soldiers are when they’re actively employed. Pilots speak of being on the battlefield when they have been great distances above anything resembling a field or even an apartment building. Sailors speak of being on the battlefield when they haven’t set foot on dry land. But the new battlefield also encompasses anywhere U.S. forces might conceivably be employed, which is where your house comes in. If the president declares you an “enemy combatant,” you will not only live on the battlefield — you will be the enemy, whether you want to be or not. Why should a desk with a joystick in Las Vegas count as a battlefield on which a troop is flying a drone, but your hotel room be off limits?

When U.S. forces kidnap people on the street in Milano or in an airport in New York and send them off to be tortured in secret prisons, or when our military pays a reward to someone in Afghanistan for handing over their rival and falsely accusing them of terrorism, and we ship the victims off to be imprisoned indefinitely in Guantanamo or right there in Bagram, all of those activities are said to take place on a battlefield. Anywhere someone might be accused of terrorism and kidnapped or murdered is the battlefield. No discussion of releasing innocent people from Guantanamo would be complete without expression of the fear that they might “return to the battlefield,” meaning that they might engage in anti-U.S. violence, whether they had ever done so before or not, and regardless of where they might do it.

When an Italian court convicts CIA agents in absentia of kidnapping a man in Italy in order to torture him, the court is staking the claim that Italian streets are not located in a U.S. battlefield. When the United States fails to hand over the convicts, it is restoring the battlefield to where it now exists: in each and every corner of the galaxy. We will see in chapter twelve that this conception of the battlefield raises legal questions. Traditionally killing people has been deemed legal in war but illegal outside of it. Apart from the fact that our wars are themselves illegal, should it be permissible to expand them to include an isolated assassination in Yemen? What about a massive bombing campaign with unmanned drones in Pakistan? Why should the smaller expansion of an isolated murder be less acceptable than the larger expansion that kills more people?

And if the battlefield is everywhere, it is in the United States as well. The Obama administration in 2010 announced its right to assassinate Americans, presuming to already possess by common understanding the right to assassinate non-Americans. But it claimed the power to kill Americans only outside the United States. Yet, active military troops are stationed within the United States and assigned to fight here if so ordered. The military is used to clean up, or at least guard, oil spills, to assist in domestic police operations, and to spy on U.S. residents. We live in the area of the globe policed by Northern Command. What’s to stop a battlefield over yonder in Central Command from spreading to our towns?

In March 2010, John Yoo, one of the former lawyers in the Justice Department who had helped George W. Bush “legally” authorize aggressive war, torture, warrantless spying, and other crimes, spoke in my town. War criminals today usually go on book tours before the blood is dry, and sometimes they take questions from the audience. I asked Yoo if a president could shoot missiles into the United States. Or could a president drop nuclear bombs within the United States? Yoo refused to concede any limits to presidential power, except perhaps in time rather than place. A president could do anything he chose, even within the United States, as long as it was “wartime.” Yet, if the “war on terror” makes it wartime, and if the “war on terror” lasts for generations, as some of its proponents desire, then there really are no limits.

On June 29, 2010, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) questioned then Solicitor General and successful Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. “The problem with this war,” Graham said, “is that there will never be a definable end to hostilities, will there?” Kagan nodded and simply agreed: “That is exactly the problem, Senator.” That takes care of the time constraints. What about place constraints? A bit later, Graham asked:

The battlefield, you told me during our previous discussions, that the battlefield in this war is the entire world. That is, if someone were caught in the Philippines, who was a financier of al Qaeda, and they were captured in the Philippines, they would be subject to enemy combatant determination. Um, because the whole world’s the battlefield. Do you still agree with that?

Kagan ducked and dodged, while Graham asked her this three times, before she made clear that, yes, she still agreed.

So a battlefield turns out to be more a state of mind than a physical location. If we are always in the battlefield, if marches for peace are in the battlefield too, then we had best be careful what we say. We wouldn’t want to assist the enemy somehow, while living in the battlefield. Wars, even when the battlefield was not, like a god, present everywhere, have always had a tendency to eliminate hard-won rights. This tradition in the United States includes President John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Abraham Lincoln’s suspensions of habeas corpus, Woodrow Wilson’s Espionage Act and Sedition Act, Franklin Roosevelt’s rounding up of Japanese-Americans, the madness of McCarthyism, and the many developments of the Bush- Obama era that really took off with the first passage of the PATRIOT Act. On July 25, 2008, the pressure for accountability for abuses of power had grown too great for silence to continue. The House Judiciary Committee finally agreed to hold a hearing on the impeachment of George W. Bush.

Chairman John Conyers had held similar hearings in 2005 as the ranking minority member, advertising his aim to pursue accountability for the War on Iraq if he were ever given the power. He held that power from January 2007 forward, and in July 2008 — having obtained the approval of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — he held this hearing. To make the similarity to the unofficial hearings he’d held three years earlier complete, Conyers announced before the hearing that, while the evidence would be heard, no impeachment proceedings would go forward. The hearing was just a stunt. But the testimony was deadly serious and included a statement from former Justice Department official Bruce Fein from which this is excerpted:

After 9/11, the executive branch declared — with the endorsement or acquiescence of Congress and the American people — a state of permanent warfare with international terrorism, i.e., the war would not conclude until every actual or potential terrorist in the Milky Way were either killed or captured and the risk of an international terrorist incident had been reduced to zero. The executive branch further maintained without quarrel from Congress or the American people that since Osama bin Laden threatens to kill Americans at any time and in any location, the entire world, including all of the United States, is an active battlefield where military force and military law may be employed at the discretion of the executive branch.

For instance, the executive branch claims authority to employ the military for aerial bombardment of cities in the United States if it believes that Al Qaeda sleeper cells are nesting there and are hidden among civilians with the same certitude that the executive branch knew Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.…

The executive branch has directed United States forces to kill or kidnap persons it suspects have allegiance to Al Qaeda in foreign lands, for instance Italy, Macedonia, or Yemen, but it has plucked only one United States resident, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, from his home for indefinite detention as a suspected enemy combatant. But if the executive branch’s constitutional justification for its modest actions is not rebuked through impeachment or otherwise, a precedent of executive power will have been established that will lie around like a loaded weapon ready for use by any incumbent who claims an urgent need. Moreover, the Founding Fathers understood that mere claims to unchecked power warranted stern responses.”

No stern responses were forthcoming, and President Obama maintained and expanded upon the powers established for presidents by George W. Bush.208 War was now officially everywhere and eternal, thereby allowing presidents even greater powers, which they could use in the waging of even more wars, from which yet more powers could derive, and so forth to Armageddon, unless something breaks the cycle.

It’s Nowhere

The battlefield may be all around us, but the wars are still concentrated in particular places. Even in those particular locations — such as Iraq and Afghanistan — the wars lack the two basic features of a traditional battlefield — the field itself and a recognizable enemy. In a foreign occupation, the enemy looks just like the supposed beneficiaries of the humanitarian war. The only people recognizable for who they are in the war are the foreign occupiers. The Soviet Union discovered this weakness of foreign occupations when it tried to occupy Afghanistan during the 1980s. Oleg Vasilevich Kustov, a 37-year veteran of the Soviet and Russian military, described the situation for Soviet troops:

Even in the capital, Kabul, in most districts it was dangerous to go more than 200 or 300 meters from installations guarded by our troops or detachments of the Afghan army, internal forces, and secret services — to do so was to put one’s life at risk. To be completely honest, we were waging war against a people.

That sums it up perfectly. Wars are not waged against armies. Nor are they waged against demonized dictators. They are waged against peoples. Remember the U.S. soldier in chapter five who shot a woman who had apparently been bringing a bag of food to the U.S. troops? She would have looked just the same if she had been bringing a bomb. How was the soldier supposed to tell the difference? What was he supposed to do?

The answer, of course, is that he was supposed to not be there. The occupation battlefield is full of enemies who look exactly like, but sometimes are not, women bringing groceries. It is a lie to call such a place a “battlefield.” One way to make this clear, and which oft en shocks people, is to note that a majority of those killed in wars are civilians. A better term is probably ‘non-participants.’ Some civilians participate in wars. And those who resist a foreign occupation violently are not necessarily military. Nor is there any clear moral or legal justification for killing those fighting a truly defensive war any more than there is for killing the non-participants.

Estimates of war deaths vary for any given war. No two wars are the same, and the numbers change if those who die later from injury or disease are included with those immediately killed. But by most estimates, even counting only those immediately killed, the vast majority of those killed in war in recent decades have been non-participants. And in wars involving the United States, the vast majority of those killed have been non-Americans. Both of these facts, and the numbers involved, will seem crazy to anyone getting their war news from American media outlets, which routinely report the “war dead” and list only Americans.

The “good war,” World War II, is still the deadliest of all time, with military deaths estimated at 20 to 25 million (including 5 million deaths of prisoners in captivity), and civilian deaths estimated at 40 to 52 million (including 13 to 20 million from war-related disease and famine).210 The United States suffered a relatively small portion of these deaths — an estimated 417,000 military and 1,700 civilian. That is a horrendous statistic, but it is small in relation to the suffering of some of the other countries.

The War on Korea saw the deaths of an estimated 500,000 North Korean troops; 400,000 Chinese troops; 245,000 – 415,000 South Korean troops; 37,000 U.S. troops; and an estimated 2 million Korean civilians.

The War on Vietnam may have killed 4 million civilians or more, plus 1.1 million North Vietnamese troops, 40,000 South Vietnamese troops, and 58,000 U.S. forces.

In the decades following the destruction of Vietnam, the United States killed a lot of people in a lot of wars, but relatively few U.S. soldiers died. The Gulf War saw 382 U.S. deaths, the highest number of U.S. casualties between Vietnam and the “war on terror.” The 1965-1966 invasion of the Dominican Republic didn’t cost a single U.S. life. Grenada in 1983 cost 19. Panama in 1989 saw 40 Americans die. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo saw a total of 32 U.S. war deaths. Wars had become exercises that killed very few Americans in comparison to the large numbers of non-U.S. non- participants dying.

The wars on Iraq and Afghanistan similarly saw the other sides do almost all of the dying. The numbers were so high that even the proportionately tiny U.S. death counts climbed into the thousands. Americans hear through their media that over 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, but rarely do they encounter any report on the deaths of Iraqis. When news of Iraqi deaths is reported, the U.S. media usually cites totals collected from news reports by organizations that openly and prominently stress the likelihood that a large proportion of deaths are not reported. Fortunately, two serious studies have been done of Iraqi deaths caused by the invasion and occupation that began in March 2003. These studies measure the deaths that exceed the high death rate that existed under international sanctions before March 2003.

The Lancet published the results of household surveys of deaths through the end of June 2006. In 92 percent of households asked to produce a death certificate to verify a reported death, they did so. The study concluded that there had been 654,965 excess violent and nonviolent deaths. This included deaths resulting from increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, and poorer healthcare. Most of the deaths (601,027) were estimated to be due to violence. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56 percent), car bomb (13 percent), other explosion/ordnance (14 percent), air strike (13 percent), accident (2 percent), and unknown (2 percent).212 Just Foreign Policy, a Washington-based organization, has calculated the estimated deaths through the time of this writing, extrapolated from the Lancet report based on the relative level of deaths reported in the media in the intervening years. The current estimate is 1,366,350.

The second serious study of deaths caused by the War on Iraq was a poll of 2,000 Iraqi adults conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) in August 2007. ORB estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the War on Iraq: “48 percent died from a gunshot wound, 20 percent from the impact of a car bomb, 9 percent from aerial bombardment, 6 percent as a result of an accident, and 6 percent from another blast/ordnance.”

Death estimates from the War on Afghanistan were much lower but rising swiftly at the time of this writing.

For all of these wars, one can add a much larger casualty figure for the wounded than those I’ve cited for the dead. It is also safe to assume in each case a much larger number for those traumatized, orphaned, made homeless, or exiled. The Iraqi refugee crisis involves millions. Beyond that, these statistics do not capture the degraded quality of life in war zones, the usual reduced life expectancy, the increased birth defects, the rapid spread of cancers, the horror of unexploded bombs left lying around, or even the U.S. soldiers poisoned and experimented upon and denied compensation. Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, an assistant professor at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province who recently completed five years as a Fulbright scholar in the U.S., reports that the ongoing and illegal U.S. drone strikes into Pakistan have killed 29 suspected terrorists and 1,150 civilians, wounding 379 more.

If the numbers above are correct, World War II killed 67 percent civilians, the War on Korea 61 percent civilians, the War on Vietnam 77 percent civilians, the War on Iraq 99.7 percent Iraqis (whether or not civilians), and the Drone War on Pakistan 98 percent civilians.

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On March 16, 2003, a young American woman named Rachel Corrie stood in front of a Palestinian home in the Gaza strip, hoping to protect it from demolition by the Israeli military which claimed to be destroying guerrilla hideouts. She faced a Caterpillar D9-R bulldozer, and it crushed her to death. Defending against her family’s civil suit in court in September 2010, an Israeli military training unit leader explained: “During war there are no civilians.”

Women and Children First

One thing to remember about civilians is that they are not all military-age men. Some of them are senior citizens. In fact those in the weakest condition are most likely to be killed. Some are women. Some are children, infants, or pregnant women. Women and children combined probably make up a majority of war victims, even as we think of war as an activity primarily for men. If we thought of war as a means of killing large numbers of women and children and grandparents would we be less willing to allow it? The primary thing war does to women is the very worst thing possible: it kills them. But there is something else war does to women that sells a lot more newspapers. So, sometimes we hear about it. War rapes women. Soldiers rape women in isolated, but usually numerous, incidents. And soldiers in some wars systematically rape all women as a form of planned terrorism.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of women and girls have been and continue to be the victims of widespread and, at times, systematic rape and sexual assault committed by a range of fighting forces,” said Véronique Aubert, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Program, in 2007, speaking about a war in Cote d’Ivoire.

Taken by Force: Rape and American GIs in Europe during WWII by American sociologist Robert Lilly was finally published in 2007 in the United States. Back in 2001 Lilly’s publisher had refused to publish the book because of the crimes of September 11, 2001. Richard Drayton summarized and commented on Lilly’s findings in the Guardian:

Lilly suggests a minimum of 10,000 American rapes [in World War II]. Contemporaries described a much wider scale of unpunished sex crime. Time Magazine reported in September 1945: ‘Our own army and the British army along with ours have done their share of looting and raping…we too are considered an army of rapists.’

In that war, as in many others, rape victims were not always provided assistance by their families, if their families were alive. They were oft en denied medical care, shunned, and even murdered.

Those who commit rape during war are oft en so confident of their immunity from the law (aft er all, they receive immunity and even praise for mass murder, so surely rape must be sanctioned too) that they brag about their crimes and, where possible, display photographs of them. In May 2009, we learned that photos of U.S. troops abusing prisoners in Iraq showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner, a male translator raping a male prisoner, and sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire, and a phosphorescent tube.

Numerous reports have surfaced of U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women outside of prison as well. While not all accusations are true, such incidents are not always reported, and those reported to the military are not always made public or prosecuted. Crimes by U.S. mercenaries, including crimes against their own employees, have gone unpunished, since they have operated outside any rule of law. Sometimes we learn aft er-the-fact that the military has investigated rape allegations and dropped the case. In March 2005, the Guardian reported:

Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade…were under investigation last year for raping Iraqi women, U.S. Army documents reveal. Four soldiers were alleged to have raped two women while on guard duty in a Baghdad shopping precinct. A U.S. Army investigator interviewed several soldiers from the military unit, the 1-15th battalion of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, but did not locate or interview the Iraqi women involved before shutting down the inquiry for lack of evidence.

Then there was the gang rape participated in by Paul Cortez, mentioned in chapter five. The victim’s name was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, age 14. According to a sworn statement by one of the accused,

The soldiers noticed her at a checkpoint. They stalked her aft er one or more of them expressed his intention to rape her. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky mixed with a high-energy drink and practicing their golf swings, they changed into black civvies and burst into Abeer’s home in Mahmoudiya, a town 50 miles south of Baghdad. They killed her mother Fikhriya, father Qassim, and five- year-old sister Hadeel with bullets to the forehead, and ‘took turns’ raping Abeer. Finally, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and lit them on fire to destroy the evidence. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings.

Female U.S. soldiers are even in serious danger of rape by their male comrades, and of retribution by their “superiors” if they report assaults. While rape is more common during a hot war, it’s a regular occurrence during cold occupations as well. If the U.S. soldiers never leave Iraq, their rapes never will either. U.S. soldiers rape, on average, two Japanese women per month as part of our ongoing occupation of Japan, begun at the end of “the good war.”

Children make up a large percentage of the fatalities in war, possibly as many as half, thanks to their presence on the “battlefield.” Children are also conscripted to fight in wars.223 In such a situation, the child is legally a victim, although that doesn’t stop the United States from throwing such children into prisons like Guantanamo without charge or trial. Primarily, however, children are non-participants killed by bullets and bombs, injured, orphaned, and traumatized. Children are also common victims of land mines, cluster bombs, and other explosives left behind aft er warfare. During the 1990s, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, two million children died and over six million were permanently disabled or seriously injured in armed conflict, while wars uprooted over 20 million children from their homes.

These aspects of war — the bulk, in fact, of what war is — make it sound rather less noble than an agreed upon duel between daring adversaries risking their lives in an effort to kill each other. Killing a brave adversary who is armed and attempting to kill you can absolve guilt in a sort of sportsmanship. A World War I British officer praised German machine gunners: “Topping fellows. Fight until they are killed. They gave us hell.”

If their dying was noble then so was the killing of them.

This helpful mental trick is not so easily done when one is killing the enemy with long-range sniper fire or in ambushes or surprise attacks, actions that were once considered dishonorable. It’s even harder to find nobility in killing people who very well may not be participating in your war at all, people who may be trying to bring you a bag of groceries. We still like to romanticize war, as discussed in chapter five, but the old ways of war are gone and were truly indecent while they lasted. The new ways involve very little jousting on horseback, even if groups of soldiers are still called “cavalries.” There’s also very little trench warfare. Instead, fighting on the ground includes street battles, house raids, and vehicle check points, all in combination with the hurricane of death from above that we call aerial warfare.

Street Fights, Raids, and Checkpoints

In April 2010, a website called Wikileaks posted online a video of an incident that had occurred in 2007 in Baghdad. U.S. helicopters are seen shooting a group of men on a street corner, killing civilians including journalists, and wounding children. The voices of the U.S. troops in the helicopters are heard.

They are not fighting on a battlefield but in a city in which both those trying to kill them and those they are supposedly defending are all around them, indistinguishable from each other. The soldiers clearly believe that if there’s the slightest chance a group of men might be combatants, they should be killed. Upon discovering that they’ve hit children as well as adults, one U.S. troop comments “Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.” Remember, this was an urban neighborhood. It’s your fault for being on the battlefield, just as it’s your fault Adam ate that forbidden apple: you’re born at fault if you’re born on this planet.

U.S. forces were also on the ground that day. Former Army Specialist Ethan McCord is seen in the video helping two wounded children aft er the attack. He talked in 2010 about what had happened. He said he was one of about six soldiers to first arrive at the scene:

It was pretty much absolute carnage. I had never seen anybody shot by a 30-millimeter round before, and frankly don’t ever want to see that again. It almost seemed unreal, like something out of a bad B-horror movie. When these rounds hit you they kind of explode — people with their heads half-off, their insides hanging out of their bodies, limbs missing. I did see two RPGs on the scene as well as a few AK-47s.

But then I heard the cries of a child. They weren’t necessarily cries of agony, but more like the cries of a small child who was scared out of her mind. So I ran up to the van where the cries were coming from. You can actually see in the scenes from the video where another soldier and I come up to the driver and the passenger sides of the van. “The soldier I was with, as soon as he saw the children, turned around, started vomiting and ran. He didn’t want any part of that scene with the children anymore.

What I saw when I looked inside the van was a small girl, about three or four years old. She had a belly wound and glass in her hair and eyes. Next to her was a boy about seven or eight years old who had a wound to the right side of the head. He was laying half on the floorboard and half on the bench. I presumed he was dead; he wasn’t moving.

Next to him was who I presumed was the father. He was hunched over sideways, almost in a protective way, trying to protect his children. And you could tell that he had taken a 30-millimeter round to the chest. I pretty much knew that he was deceased.

McCord grabbed the girl and found a medic, then went back to the van and noticed the boy moving. McCord carried him to the same vehicle to be evacuated as well. McCord went on to describe the rules he and his fellow troops were operating under in this urban war:

Our rules of engagement were changing on an almost daily basis. But we had a pretty gung-ho commander, who decided that because we were getting hit by IEDs [improvised explosive devices] a lot, there would be a new battalion SOP [standard operating procedure].

He goes, ‘If someone in your line gets hit with an IED, 360 rotational fire. You kill every motherfucker on the street.’ Myself and Josh [Stieber] and a lot of other soldiers were just sitting there looking at each other like, ‘Are you kidding me? You want us to kill women and children on the street?’

And you couldn’t just disobey orders to shoot, because they could just make your life hell in Iraq. So like with myself, I would shoot up into the roof of a building instead of down on the ground toward civilians. But I’ve seen it many times, where people are just walking down the street and an IED goes off and the troops open fire and kill them.

Former Army Specialist Josh Stieber, who was in the same unit with McCord, said that newly arrived soldiers in Baghdad were asked if they would fire back at an attacker if they knew unarmed civilians might get hurt in the process. Those who did not respond affirmatively, or who hesitated, were “knocked around” until they realized what was expected of them, added former Army Specialist Ray Corcoles, who deployed with McCord and Stieber.

Although it is extremely difficult, when occupying a city, to distinguish violent resisters from civilians, the laws of war still distinguish between civilians and combatants. “What these soldiers are describing, tit-for-tat retaliation against civilians, is a clear war crime which has been successfully prosecuted aft er WWII in the case of German SS Obersturmbannführer Herbert Kappler,” writes Ralph Lopez.

“In 1944 Kappler ordered the mass execution of civilians in the ratio of 10 to 1 for every German soldier killed in a March 1944 hidden bomb attack by Italian partisans. The executions took place in the caves of Ardeatine in Italy. You may have seen a movie about it starring Richard Burton.”

One quick way to turn non-participants in a war into active combatants is to kick in their doors, smash their possessions, and insult and terrify their loved ones. Those who have resisted such frequent incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan have been shot or imprisoned — later, in many cases, to be released, oft en filled with a desire for vengeance against the occupiers. One such raid in Afghanistan is described by Zaitullah Ghiasi Wardak in chapter three. No accounts of any raids depict anything resembling a glorious battlefield.

In January 2010, the occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations both concluded that on December 26, 2009, in Kunar, U.S.-led troops had dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead.230 On Feb. 24, 2010, the U.S. military admitted that the dead were innocent students, contradicting its initial lies about the incident. The killings led to student demonstrations across Afghanistan, a formal protest by the President of Afghanistan, and investigations by the Afghan government and the United Nations. The Afghan government called for the prosecution and execution of American soldiers who kill Afghan civilians. Dave Lindorff commented on March 3, 2010:

Under the Geneva Conventions, it is a war crime to execute a captive. Yet in Kunar on December 26, US-led forces, or perhaps US soldiers or contract mercenaries, cold-bloodedly executed eight hand- cuffed prisoners. It is a war crime to kill children under the age of 15, yet in this incident a boy of 11 and a boy of 12 were handcuffed as captured combatants and executed. Two others of the dead were 12 and a third was 15.

The Pentagon did not investigate, passing the buck to the U.S.-dominated NATO force in Afghanistan. Congress has no authority to compel testimony from NATO, as it does — at least in theory — with the Pentagon. When Lindorff contacted the House Armed Services Committee, the press officer was not familiar with the incident.

Another night raid, on February 12, 2010, targeted the home of a popular policeman, Commander Dawood, who was killed while standing in his doorway protesting the innocence of his family. Also killed were his pregnant wife, another pregnant woman, and an 18-year-old girl. The U.S. and NATO claimed their soldiers had discovered the women tied up and already dead, and also claimed the soldiers had faced a firefight from several “insurgents.”232 In lying, sometimes less is more. Either lie would have worked, but both together smelled fishy. NATO later backed off the insurgents story and concisely stated the approach our military takes to occupied nations, an approach that cannot possibly succeed:

If you have got an individual stepping out of a compound, and if your assault force is there, that is oft en the trigger to neutralise (sic) the individual. You don’t have to be fired upon to fire back.[emphasis added]

It took until April 2010 before NATO admitted to killing the women, revealing that U.S. special forces, in an attempt to cover up their crimes, had dug bullets out of the women’s bodies with knives.

In addition to raids, the new battlefield involves countless vehicle checkpoints. In 2007, the U.S. military admitted to having killed 429 civilians in a year at Iraqi checkpoints. In an occupied country, the occupier’s vehicles must keep moving, or those inside might be killed. The vehicles belonging to the occupied, however, must stop to prevent their being killed. War on Iraq veteran Matt Howard remembers:

An American life is always worth more than an Iraqi life. Right now, if you’re in a convoy in Iraq, you do not stop that convoy. If a little kid runs in front of your truck, you are under orders to run him over instead of stopping your convoy. This is the policy that’s set in how to deal with people in Iraq.

I had this Marine friend who had set up a checkpoint. Car loaded with six people, family going on a picnic. It didn’t stop immediately at the checkpoint. It was kind of coming to a rolling stop. And rules of engagement state, in a situation like that, you are required to fire on that vehicle. And they did. And they killed everyone in that car. And they proceeded to search the car, and just found basically a picnic basket. No weapons.

And, yes, absolutely tragic, and his officer comes by and [my friend] is like, ‘You know, sir, we just killed a whole family of Iraqis for nothing.’ And all he said was, ‘If these hajis could just learn how to drive, this shit wouldn’t happen.’

One frequent problem has been miscommunication. Soldiers were taught that a raised fist meant “stop,” but nobody told the Iraqis, who had no idea and in some cases paid for that ignorance with their lives.

Checkpoints are also a frequent location for killing civilians in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said in March 2010: “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.”

Bombs and Drones

One of the most significant legacies of World War II has been the bombing of civilians. This new approach to war brought the front lines much closer to home while allowing those doing the killing to be located too far away to see their victims.

For the residents of German cities, survival ‘beneath the bombs’ was a defining characteristic of the war. The war in the skies had erased the distinction between home and front, adding ‘air terror psychosis’ and ‘bunker panic’ to the German vocabulary. Urban dwellers could also claim ‘moments of a life at the front,’ in a war that had transformed Germany’s cities into a ‘battlefield.’

A U.S. pilot in the War on Korea had a different perspective:

The first couple of times I went in on a napalm strike, I had kind of an empty feeling. I thought afterward, Well, maybe I shouldn’t have done it. Maybe those people I set afire were innocent civilians. But you get conditioned, especially aft er you’ve hit what looks like a civilian and the A-frame on his back lights up like a Roman candle — a sure enough sign that he’s been carrying ammunition. Normally speaking, I have no qualms about my job. Besides, we don’t generally use napalm on people we can see. We use it on hill positions or buildings. And one thing about napalm is that when you’ve hit a village and have seen it go up in flames, you know that you’ve accomplished something. Nothing makes a pilot feel worse than to work over an area and not see that he’s accomplished anything.

Both of the above quotes are from a collection of essays called Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History, edited by Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn B. Young, which I recommend.

While the Germans had bombed Guernica, Spain, in 1937, the bombing of cities took on something closer to its current form and current motivation when the Japanese bombed Chongqing, China, from 1938 to 1941. This siege continued, with less intense bombing through 1943, and included the use of fragmentation and incendiary bombs, chemical weapons, and bombs with delayed fuses that caused long-term physical and psychological damage similar to the cluster bombs used 60 years later in Iraq. Just the first two days of this systematic bombing killed almost three times the number of people killed in Guernica. Unlike later bombing campaigns against Germany, England, and Japan, the bombing of China was a completely one- sided slaughter of people who had no real means to fight back, similar in this way to many later campaigns, including the bombing of Baghdad.

Proponents of aerial bombing have argued from the start that it could bring a faster peace, discourage a populace from continuing a war, or shock and awe them. This has always proved false, including in Germany, England, and Japan. The idea that the nuclear destruction of two Japanese cities would change the Japanese government’s position was implausible from the start, given that the United States had already destroyed several dozen Japanese cities with firebombs and napalm. In March 1945, Tokyo consisted of

… rivers of fire…flaming pieces of furniture exploding in the heat, while the people themselves blazed like ‘matchsticks’ as their wood and paper homes exploded in flames. Under the wind and the gigantic breath of the fire, immense incandescent vortices rose in a number of places, swirling, flattening, sucking whole blocks of houses into their maelstrom of fire.

Mark Selden explains the importance of this horror to the decades of U.S. war making that would follow:

[E]very president from Roosevelt to George W. Bush has endorsed in practice an approach to warfare that targets entire populations for annihilation, one that eliminates all distinction between combatant and noncombatant with deadly consequences. The awesome power of the atomic bomb has obscured the fact that this strategy came of age in the firebombing of Tokyo and became the centerpiece of U.S. war making from that time forward.

A spokesman for the Fifth Air Force put the U.S. military’s view succinctly: “For us, there are no civilians in Japan.”

Unmanned drones are becoming the new centerpiece of war, distancing soldiers more than ever from those they kill, increasing the one-sidedness of casualties, and terrorizing everyone who must listen to the drones buzzing overhead as they threaten to explode one’s house and end one’s life at any moment. The drones are part of an array of deadly technologies imposed on the countries where we take our wars.

My thoughts drift to the Emergency Surgical Center for Victims of War, in Kabul,” Kathy Kelly wrote in September 2010.

A little over two months ago, Josh [Brollier] and I met Nur Said, age 11, in the hospital’s ward for young boys injured by various explosions. Most of the boys welcomed a diversion from the ward’s tedium, and they were especially eager to sit outside, in the hospital garden, where they’d form a circle and talk together for hours. Nur Said stayed indoors. Too miserable to talk, he’d merely nod at us, his hazel eyes welling up with tears. Weeks earlier, he had been part of a hardy band of youngsters that helped bolster their family incomes by searching for scrap metal and unearthing land mines on a mountainside in Afghanistan. Finding an unexploded land mine was a eureka for the children because, once opened, the valuable brass parts could be extracted and sold. Nur had a land mine in hand when it suddenly exploded, ripping four fingers off his right hand and blinding him in his left eye.

On a sad continuum of misfortune, Nur and his companions fared better than another group of youngsters scavenging for scrap metal in the Kunar Province on August 26th.

Following an alleged Taliban attack on a nearby police station, NATO forces flew overhead to ‘engage’ the militants. If the engagement includes bombing the area under scrutiny, it would be more apt to say that NATO aimed to puree the militants. But in this case, the bombers mistook the children for militants and killed six of them, aged 6 to 12. Local police said there were no Taliban at the site during the attack, only children.

… In Afghanistan, thirty high schools have shut down because the parents say that their children are distracted by the drones flying overhead and that it’s unsafe for them to gather in the schools.

The damage of our wars in the global battlefield outlasts the memories of elderly survivors. We leave landscapes pock-marked with bomb craters, oil fields ablaze, seas poisoned, ground water ruined. We leave behind, and in the bodies of our own veterans, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, and all the other substances designed to kill people quickly but carrying the side-effect of killing people slowly. Since the United States’ secret bombing of Laos that ended in 1975, some 20,000 people have been killed by unexploded ordnance.240 Even the war on drugs begins to look like the war on terror when the spraying of fields renders regions of Colombia uninhabitable. When will we ever learn? John Quigley visited Vietnam after the war and saw in downtown Hanoi,

… a neighborhood we had bombed in December 1972, because President Nixon said that bombing would convince North Vietnam to negotiate. Here thousands had been killed in a short time.…An elderly man, a survivor of the bombing, was caretaker for the exhibit. As he showed it to me, I could see he was straining to avoid putting awkward questions to a guest whose country was responsible for the bombing. Finally, he asked me, as politely as he could, how America could do this to his neighborhood. I had no answer.

David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” from which this is excerpted: http://warisalie.org

For several years now, one organization in the US government has persistently undermined attempts to have a grown-up debate about the perceived dangerousness of prisoners at Guantánamo, and the need to bear security concerns in mind whilst also trying to empty the prison and to bring to an end this particularly malign icon of the Bush administration’s ill-conceived response to the 9/11 attacks.

That organization is the Pentagon, and its habit of issuing announcements regarding the alleged recidivism of prisoners released from Guantánamo — without documentation to back up its claims — has also exposed a startling lack of journalistic integrity in the mainstream media. Although the Pentagon had regularly drip-fed alarmist reports about recidivism into the media during the Bush administration, which were picked up and reported despite their lack of sources and their often contradictory nature — as explained in a detailed report by researchers at the Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey (PDF) — the propaganda war has become noticeably more bold under President Obama.

The first report under Obama, issued on May 21, 2009, gained high-profile approval when, to its shame, the New York Times uncritically published a front-page story entitled, “1 In 7 Detainees Rejoined Jihad, Pentagon Finds,” in which Elisabeth Bumiller, relying on an advance copy of a Pentagon report, stated that “74 prisoners released from Guantánamo have returned to terrorism, making for a recidivism rate of nearly 14 percent.”

In fact, the Pentagon had only provided names and “confirmation” for 27 of the 74 prisoners cited in the report, and there were doubts about the recidivism of some of the 27 prisoners named in the report, as was revealed a week later, when the Times allowed Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann of the New America Foundation to write an op-ed criticizing Bumiller’s article, in which they concluded, from an examination of the report (PDF), that a more probable figure for recidivism — based on the fact that there were “12 former detainees who can be independently confirmed to have taken part in terrorist acts directed at American targets, and eight others suspected of such acts” — was “about 4 percent of the 534 men who have been released.”

The Times later apologized by publishing an Editor’s Note, noting that its original article should have stated that “about one in 20 of former Guantánamo prisoners described in the Pentagon report were now said to be engaging in terrorism,” but as I explained at the time, the damage had already been done, as it led directly to the following assertion by former Vice President Dick Cheney, discussing the prisoners still held at Guantánamo:

Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East.

More importantly, the Times story conveniently appeared on the front page on the day that President Obama delivered a major national security speech at the National Archives, reviving the much-criticized Military Commissions at Guantánamo (which he had suspended on his first day in office), and also alerting the world to his depressing plans to hold some prisoners at Guantánamo indefinitely without charge or trial. These developments were profoundly dispiriting to those who hoped that Obama would thoroughly reverse and repudiate the Bush administration’s innovations regarding detention policies and trials for prisoners seized in the “War on Terror.”

In January 2010, the Pentagon again issued a warning about recidivism, this time the day after President Obama announced a moratorium on releasing any Yemenis cleared for release from Guantánamo by his own interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force. The impetus for this unprincipled moratorium was the hysterical response to the news that the failed Christmas Day plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had been recruited in Yemen, and while it may have suited Obama to have the Pentagon release a new recidivism claim to bolster his moratorium (as it may have suited him in May 2009 to have a report released when he was laying down tough new policies that enraged progressive supporters), it also remains possible that the Pentagon was conducting its own game.

Certainly, the claims issued in January last year showed every sign of having been whipped up in a hurry. Instead of a report, the Pentagon briefed reporters that the recidivism rate was now 1 in 5 of the released prisoners, without providing any back-up information whatsoever, and then watched contentedly as one media outlet after another parroted their comments. Reuters uncritically ran an article entitled, “One in 5 ex-Guantánamo detainees joining militants,” (which it later changed to “US believes 1 in 5 ex-detainees joining militants”), and other media outlets soon joined in, including the New York Times (in an article that is no longer available online), in which the discredited claims of May 2009 were again repeated in the following line: “The rate of those returning to militancy was first reported early last year to be 11 percent. In April it was 14 percent.”

In early December, another “report” — actually a two-page statement issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “consistent with direction in the Fiscal Year 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act” — claimed that the number of recidivists was now 1 in 4 of the prisoners released. As I explained at the time:

[O]f the 598 detainees released from Guantánamo, “The Intelligence Community assesses that 81 (13.5 percent) are confirmed and 69 (11.5 percent) are suspected of reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer.” The assessment also noted, “Of the 150 former GTMO detainees assessed as confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities, the Intelligence Community assesses that 13 are dead, 54 are in custody, and 83 remain at large.” It was also noted that, of the “66 individuals transferred since January 2009″ — under President Obama, in other words — “2 are confirmed and 3 are suspected of reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities.”

As I also explained:

The assessment’s own claims were amplified in subsequent headlines, which failed to distinguish between “confirmed” and “suspected” terrrorists or insurgents. Fox News ran with “25 Percent Recidivism at Gitmo” … [and] although the [New York] Times‘ headline was the modest, “Some Ex-Detainees Still Tied to Terror,” the article itself stated that the report “offered the most detailed public accounting yet of what the government says has happened to former Guantánamo detainees, a matter that has been the subject of heated political debate.”

This, again, was nonsense, as there was no “detailed public accounting,” and it was not until last week, on the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, that Peter Bergen, Katherine Tiedemann and Andrew Lebovitch of the New America Foundation issued their own report challenging this latest propaganda, accompanied by an article in Foreign Policy, in which they concluded, based on a sober assessment of available public documentation, that:

[O]ur analysis of Pentagon reports, news stories, and other publicly available documents concerning the 600 or so released detainees suggests that when threats to the United States are considered, the true rate for those who have taken up arms or are suspected of doing so is more like 6 percent, or one in 17. This figure represents an increase of 2 percentage points from our previous analysis from July 2009, which indicated that barely 4 percent of those released from the prison in Cuba were confirmed or suspected of engaging in terrorist or insurgent activities against the United States or its interests.

This latest report by the New America Foundation was made available to reporters prior to its publication in Foreign Policy at a panel discussion, “Nine Years of Guantánamo: What Now?” that I had organized at the New America Foundation on the afternoon of January 11, and it prompted questions from the audience, and responses that were noted by Dan Froomkin of the Huffington Post. Froomkin explained that I was “concerned at how the recidivism figures were ‘conjured up out of nowhere’ but treated as fact by many mainstream media outlets,” and that I described it as “bad journalism,” and that is certainly the position I have always maintained.

He also picked up on comments made by Tom Wilner, the former attorney for the Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantánamo, who represented the Guantánamo prisoners during their habeas corpus claims in the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008. Wilner directly addressed another problem with the recidivism claims — the US authorities’ failure to consider whether some of the relased men confirmed to have engaged in terrorist activity had not “returned” to a battlefield, but had actually been radicalized by their experience in US custody, and his conclusions were stark.

Speaking of Abdullah al-Ajmi, a former client of his who died as a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2008, two and a half years after his release, Wilner explained, “I was absolutely convinced that he did not do anything wrong, but I was concerned about his release, because he had become furious. He had turned, at Guantánamo, into this sort of madman.”

This chimes with comments made in June last year by Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq, the director of the Saudi rehabilitation center responsible for re-educating prisoners released from Guantánamo, along with suspected or confirmed militants seized within the country and in other locations. Al-Hadlaq actually claimed that “about 20 per cent of the 120 repatriated former prisoners [from Guantánamo] have returned to radical activity” (whereas the New America Foundation mentioned only 15 confirmed or suspected Saudis in its report), but, crucially, in explaining why this rate was double that of the other men who passed through the program, he told reporters, “Those guys from other groups didn’t suffer torture,” unlike the men held at Guantánamo, adding, “Torturing is the most dangerous thing in radicalisation. You have more extremist people if you have more torture.”

As the gulf between the 1 in 4 recidivists claimed by the government clashes with the figure of 1 in 17 reported by the New America Foundation, it may be, as the authors of last week’s report conceded, that “there might be some additional former detainees who are suspected or confirmed of engaging in terrorism or insurgent activities who we could not identify in the publicly available sources.”

Those, however, cannot reasonably be expected to turn a figure of 48 “recidivists” into 150, and in addition, as I highlighted above, all of these assessments fail to consider whether the men in question are indeed recidivists, or whether it was their treatment at the hands of their US captors that prompted what Tom Wilner described, in Abdullah al-Ajmi’s case, as fury and madness.

While supporters of Guantánamo still follow Dick Cheney’s line, critics of the prison’s ongoing existence will be paying close attention to the circumstances of the men’s radicalization, and will not be at all surprised to discover that the United States cannot, in all honesty, claim that, in some instances, what happened to the men after their release from Guantánamo was not determined by what happened to them while they were held — and brutalized — in US custody.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation, as “Pentagon Propaganda on Gitmo Prisoners Releases.”

China and America: The Hu-Obama Washington Summit

January 19th, 2011 by Danny Schechter

On the eve of the Chinese President’s visit to the United States, and the intense speculation about his intentions—and ours—I found myself a dark room at the Anthology Film Archive in the East Village watching a spectacular documentary by Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang called Petition.

It’s about the tens of thousands of people with grievances who seek redress in China at offices ostensibly set up to resolve their problems.

The right to petition is guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution—yes China has a Constitution, but it is unevenly enforced like our own. Falun Gong first tried, but failed, to bring its human rights claims to a Petition office like the bureaucratic centers shown in the film as do a small army of individuals who every day, bravely—sometimes fanatically— insist it is their human right to be heard.  (In Falun Gong’s case, they were outlawed and systematically repressed for more than a decade with a large cost of lives.)

Listen to the description of Petition: “Since 1996, Zhao has documented the ‘petitioners’ who come from all over China to make complaints in Beijing about abuses committed by their local authorities. Gathered near the complaint offices, living in most cases in makeshift shelters, the complainants wait for months or years to obtain justice. Peasants thrown off their land, workers from factories which have gone into liquidation, small homeowners who have seen their houses demolished but received no compensation, they pursue justice with unceasing stubbornness, facing the most brutal intimidation and most often finding that their hopes are in vain.”

Before you put this down just to the authoritarianism and insensitivity in China, remember the song “before you ‘cuse me, take a look at yourself.”

Think of all the Americans who get nowhere fighting their City Halls or battling denials of claims by health insurance companies or foreclosures by banks.  Think of the vast growth in poverty and the persistence of high unemployment. Think of the millions of Americans behind bars.  We have no petitition office which  I am sure must resolve some issues even if the film didn’t show that!

Our systems may be different but some of the top down ways our rulers operate are the same. Now, our two governments are about to sit down with each other to discuss common problems and stubborn differences.

“The U.S.-China summit this week could rank among the most pivotal in history,” writes Leslie Gelb who went from the New York Times to the Council on Foreign Relations to the appropriately named Daily Beast. “Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao can either find fresh ways to work out increasing differences, or they can settle for friendly gasbag rhetoric that will bow to their mutual and mounting hawkish pressures. But failure to compromise on tough economic and security issues will have dangerous consequences for both leaders.”

Elite journalists tend to worry more about the tenure of elites then the well being the people. Yet, when you think about US-China relations, its not just governments that are wrestling over policy.

For example, whenever Washington summons up the courage to criticize China’s dismal and repressive human rights record, Beijing fires back with the scorecard of US police abuses and mass incarceration. They report regularly on Obama’s backpedaling on human rights here.

(And know well that the summit is being carefully stage managed by lower level officials on both sides who have already come up with some compromises that each side can use to show how flexible and responsive they are. Each side must save face after all.

In case you haven’t noticed, the world has changed with China’s economy growing faster and doing better—at least for now—than ours.

Money represents real power in this world, and ours seems to be declining while theirs is in the ascendancy.

China’s President Hu Jintao is sending contradictory signals. In one conciliatory statement, he called for the US and China to work out their mutual problems. He sounded reasonable and friendly.

“There is no denying that there are some differences and sensitive issues between us,” Hu told American newspapers, “We both stand to gain from a sound China-U.S. relationship, and lose from confrontation.”

At the same time, the Chinese are freaking out Wall Street and its cadre of henchmen in Washington by questioning the future of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Even as China’s investments in America’s bonds and other financial instruments has become essential for our well being and perhaps China’s as well, there are many in Beijing who don’t like the dependence on an American system that has lost them money and independence of action.

All countries have their own interests although the United States likes to pretend that everything we want is in the world’s interest. Our PR may be better but our global image is severely tarnished by our wars and the Wikileaks disclosures.

The US has been pressing the Chinese to revalue its currency for years. The Chinese often sound as if they will—but, in the end, they haven’t because to do so would hurt their economy and spark more unemployment.

Now Congress is getting into the act to add pressure on Beijing.  AP reports, “Three US senators announced plans Monday to renew their effort  to penalize China for what they term currency “manipulation,” on the eve of  a state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. 
 

“Our message to President Hu is, ‘Welcome to America, but we want to make sure we have a fair trading system,’” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, who joined fellow Democrats Charles Schumer and Bob Casey in the announcement. 
 

The bill to be introduced in the new Congress would “vigorously address currency misalignments that unfairly and negatively impact US trade,” the three said in a joint statement.”

China will not be moved by this pressure move. They don’t like being bullied and have their own grievances with our economic polices including US cases filed against China at the World Trade Organization that they view as invalid and protectionist, as sops used for domestic political considerations.

The fact is that all of these get China maneuvers will not achieve what most Americans want more jobs. Writes Harvard Law Professor Mark Wu, it  “is unlikely that a stronger renminbi would bring many jobs back home. Instead, companies would most likely shift labor-intensive production to Vietnam, Indonesia and other low-wage countries. And in any case many high-skilled jobs will continue to flow overseas, as long as cheaper talent can be found in India and elsewhere. Only in a few industries, like biomedical devices, would a stronger Chinese currency combined with quality issues tempt American companies to keep more manufacturing at home.”

Meanwhile, China is well aware of how to “win friends” in the US, as Reuters reports. Deals do it.

“The Chinese government kicked off a four-day U.S. trade  mission on Monday by signing six deals in Houston with undisclosed U.S. companies worth $600 million, according to Chinese state media reports.

The deals came a day before Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives in the  United States for a visit being billed as the most important U.S.-China  summit since Deng Xiaoping’s visit to Washington 30 years ago.”

The future of our relations is not just dependent on what the leaders say or agree on at Summits.  China is wary of US military power encircling them. They are being forced to spend more money than they want to on naval ships and stealth planes.  This is a country that grew up with Mao’s dictum that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

As the Telegraph noted recently, “on virtually all the main issues that separate the two nations, (China) seems intransigent and uncompromising. The sense of threat is heightened by the fact that, while America is gripped by economic, social and political self-doubt, the Chinese have never been more certain of their ascendancy.”

It may be that both countries are shakier than we think. There may be no economic recovery in the United States for five years while some Hedge Funds fear, “China is a bubble close to bursting.”  Reports another article in the Telegraph, “The world is looking to China as a springboard out of recession – but some hedge funds are betting the country’s credit and growth levels cannot be sustained.”

So far, neither Washington nor Beijing have realized the apocalyptic projections of their many critics. Both states still pay lip service to their ideal, but both can be unraveling.

A fancy State Dinner will not bridge the gaps that separate our two countries and “paths of development,” as the Chinese say.

The US says it wants more democracy in China but officials like Tim Geithner are upset by the debates taking place there, and pine for the days when they could deal with a dictator like Mao or Deng who, as the New York Times explained, “commanded basically unquestioned authority.”

Our leaders prefer dealing with that type of authority and wish they had it here.”

Back in Beijing, in the shabby Petition Villages where Chinese citizens soldier on in their fight for justice, or in this country where our citizens are frustrated and angry with an economic crisis appears to have no end,  no one will expect much from this summit in faraway Washington where diplomatic dances produce kabuki plays filled with smiles but no real changes.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs for Mediachannel.org He directed the film Plunder The Crime Of Our Time (plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to [email protected]

Thinking is not the intellectual reproduction of what already exists anyway. As long as it doesn’t break off, thinking has a secure hold on possibility. Its insatiable aspect, its aversion to being quickly and easily satisfied, refuses the foolish wisdom of resignation. The utopian moment in thinking is stronger the less it … objectifies itself into a utopia and hence sabotages its realization. Open thinking points beyond itself.  -Theodor W. Adorno

In spite of being discredited by the economic recession of 2008, neoliberalism, or market fundamentalism as it is called in some quarters, has once again returned with a vengeance. The Gilded Age has come back with big profits for the rich and increasing impoverishment and misery for the middle and working class. Political illiteracy has cornered the market on populist rage, providing a political bonus for those who are responsible for massive levels of inequality, poverty, and sundry other hardships. As social protections are dismantled, public servants are denigrated and public goods such as schools, bridges, health care services and public transportation deteriorate, the Obama administration unapologetically embraces the values of economic Darwinism and rewards its chief beneficiaries: mega banks and big business. Neoliberalism – reinvigorated by the passing of tax cuts for the ultra rich, the right-wing Republican Party taking over of the House of Representatives and an ongoing successful attack on the welfare state – proceeds, once again, in zombie-like fashion to impose its values, social relations and forms of social death upon all aspects of civic life.(1)

With its relentless attempts to normalize the irrational belief in the ability of markets to solve all social problems, neoliberal market fundamentalism puts in place policies designed to dismantle the few remaining vestiges of the social state and vital public services. More profoundly, it has weakened if not nearly destroyed those institutions that enable the production of a formative culture in which individuals learn to think critically, imagine other ways of being and doing and connect their personal troubles with public concerns. Matters of justice, ethics and equality have once again been exiled to the margins of politics. Never has this assault on the democratic polity been more obvious, if not more dangerous, than at the current moment when a battle is being waged under the rubric of neoliberal austerity measures on the autonomy of academic labor, the classroom as a site of critical pedagogy, the rights of students to high quality education, the democratic vitality of the university as a public sphere and the role played by the liberal arts and humanities in fostering an educational culture that is about the practice of freedom and mutual empowerment.(2)

Memories of the university as a citadel of democratic learning have been replaced by a university eager to define itself largely in economic terms. As the center of gravity shifts away from the humanities and the notion of the university as a public good, university presidents ignore public values while refusing to address major social issues and problems.(3) Instead, such administrators now display corporate affiliations like a badge of honor, sit on corporate boards and pull in huge salaries. A survey conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that “19 out of 40 presidents from the top 40 research universities sat on at least one company board.”(4) Rather than treated as a social investment in the future, students are now viewed by university administrators as a major source of revenue for banks and other financial institutions that provide funds for them to meet escalating tuition payments. For older generations, higher education opened up opportunities for self-definition as well as pursuing a career in the field of one’s choosing. It was relatively cheap, rigorous and accessible, even to many working-class youth. But as recent events in both the United States and Britain make clear, this is no longer the case. Instead of embodying the hope of a better life and future, higher education has become prohibitively expensive and exclusionary, now offering primarily a credential and, for most students, a lifetime of debt payments. Preparing the best and the brightest has given way to preparing what might be called Generation Debt.(5)

What is new about the current threat to higher education and the humanities in particular is the increasing pace of the corporatization and militarization of the university, the squelching of academic freedom, the rise of an ever increasing contingent of part-time faculty and the view that students are basically consumers and faculty providers of a salable commodity such as a credential or a set of workplace skills. More strikingly still is the slow death of the university as a center of critique, vital source of civic education and crucial public good. Or, to put it more specifically, the consequence of such dramatic transformations has resulted in the near death of the university as a democratic public sphere. Many faculty are now demoralized as they increasingly lose their rights and power. Moreover, a weak faculty translates into one governed by fear rather than by shared responsibilities, and one that is susceptible to labor-bashing tactics such as increased workloads, the casualization of labor and the growing suppression of dissent. Demoralization often translates less into moral outrage than into cynicism, accommodation and a retreat into a sterile form of professionalism. What is also new is that faculty now find themselves staring into an abyss, either unwilling to address the current attacks on the university or befuddled over how the language of specialization and professionalization has cut them off from not only connecting their work to larger civic issues and social problems, but also developing any meaningful relationships to a larger democratic polity.

As faculty no longer feel compelled to address important political issues and social problems, they are less inclined to communicate with a larger public, uphold public values, or engage in a type of scholarship that is available to a broader audience.(6) Beholden to corporate interests, career building and the insular discourses that accompany specialized scholarship, too many academics have become overly comfortable with the corporatization of the university and the new regimes of neoliberal governance. Chasing after grants, promotions and conventional research outlets, many academics have retreated from larger public debates and refused to address urgent social problems. Assuming the role of the disinterested academic or the clever faculty star on the make, these so-called academic entrepreneurs simply reinforce the public’s perception that they have become largely irrelevant. Incapable, if not unwilling, to defend the university as a democratic public sphere and a crucial site for learning how to think critically and act with civic courage, many academics have disappeared into a disciplinary apparatus that views the university not as a place to think, but as a place to prepare students to be competitive in the global marketplace.

This is particularly disturbing given the unapologetic turn that higher education has taken in its willingness to mimic corporate culture and ingratiate itself to the national security state.(7) Universities now face a growing set of challenges arising from budget cuts, diminishing quality, the downsizing of faculty, the militarization of research and the revamping of the curriculum to fit the interests of the market. In the United States, many of the problems in higher education can be linked to low funding, the domination of universities by market mechanisms, the rise of for-profit colleges, the intrusion of the national security state and the lack of faculty self-governance, all of which not only contradict the culture and democratic value of higher education, but also makes a mockery of the very meaning and mission of the university as a place both to think and to provide the formative culture and agents that make a democracy possible. Universities and colleges have been largely abandoned as democratic public spheres dedicated to providing a public service, expanding upon humankind’s great intellectual and cultural achievements and educating future generations to be able to confront the challenges of a global democracy. As the humanities and liberal arts are downsized, privatized and commodified, higher education finds itself caught in the paradox of claiming to invest in the future of young people, while offering them few intellectual, civic and moral supports.

If the commercialization, commodification and militarization of the university continues unabated, higher education will become yet another one of a number of institutions incapable of fostering critical inquiry, public debate, human acts of justice and common deliberation. Such democratic public spheres are especially important to defend at a time when any space that produces “critical thinkers capable of putting existing institutions into question” is under siege by powerful economic and political interests.(8)

Higher education has a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable. Though questions regarding whether the university should serve strictly public rather than private interests no longer carry the weight of forceful criticism as they did in the past, such questions are still crucial in addressing the purpose of higher education and what it might mean to imagine the university’s full participation in public life as the protector and promoter of democratic values.

What needs to be understood is that higher education may be one of the few public spheres left where knowledge, values and learning offer a glimpse of the promise of education for nurturing public values, critical hope and a substantive democracy. It may be the case that everyday life is increasingly organized around market principles; but confusing a market-determined society with democracy hollows out the legacy of higher education, whose deepest roots are moral, not commercial. This is a particularly important insight in a society where not only the free circulation of ideas is being replaced by ideas managed by the dominant media, but critical ideas are increasingly viewed or dismissed as banal, if not reactionary. As Frank Rich has pointed out, the war against literacy and informed judgment is made abundantly clear in the populist rage sweeping across the country, a massive collective anger that “is aimed at the educated, not the wealthy.”(9) Democracy places civic demands upon its citizens and such demands point to the necessity of an education that is broad-based, critical and supportive of meaningful civic values, participation in self-governance and democratic leadership. Only through such a formative and critical educational culture can students learn how to become individual and social agents, rather than merely disengaged spectators, able both to think otherwise and to act upon civic commitments that demand a rethinking and reconstituting of basic power arrangements fundamental to promoting the common good and producing a meaningful democracy. It is important to insist that as educators we ask, again and again, how is it that higher education can survive as a democratic public sphere in a society in which its civic culture and modes of critical literacy collapse as it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish opinion and emotive outbursts from a sustained argument and logical reasoning. Equally important is the need for educators and young people to take on the challenge of defending the university as a democratic public sphere. Tony Morrison gets it right in arguing:

If the university does not take seriously and rigorously its role as a guardian of wider civic freedoms, as interrogator of more and more complex ethical problems, as servant and preserver of deeper democratic practices, then some other regime or ménage of regimes will do it for us, in spite of us and without us.(10)

Defending the humanities, as Terry Eagleton has recently argued, means more than offering an academic enclave for students to learn history, philosophy, art and literature. It also means stressing how indispensable these fields of study are for all students if they are to be able to make any claim whatsoever on being critical and engaged individual and social agents. But the humanities do more. They also provide the knowledge, skills, social relations and modes of pedagogy that constitute a formative culture in which the historical lessons of democratization can be learned, the demands of social responsibility can be thoughtfully engaged, the imagination can be expanded and critical thought can be affirmed. As an adjunct of the academic-military-industrial complex, higher education has nothing to say about teaching students how to think for themselves in a democracy, how to think critically and engage with others and how to address through the prism of democratic values the relationship between themselves and the larger world. We need a permanent revolution around the meaning and purpose of higher education, one in which academics are more than willing to move beyond the language of critique and a discourse of both moral and political outrage, however necessary to a sustained individual and collective defense of the university as a vital public sphere central to democracy itself.

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Such a debate is important for both defending higher education as a public good and funding it as a social right. Most importantly, such a debate represents a crucial political intervention regarding an entire generation’s sense of the future and their role within it. Students are not consumers; they are first and foremost citizens of a potentially global democracy and, as such, should be provided with “the full range of human knowledge, understanding and creativity – and so ensure that [they] have the opportunity to develop their full intellectual and creative potential, regardless of family wealth.”(11) As neoliberal ideology is enlisted to narrow the parameters of the purpose of higher education, it increasingly limits – through high tuition rates, technocratic modes of learning, the reduction of faculty to temporary workers and authoritarian modes of governance – the ability of many young people to attend college, while at the same time refusing to provide a critical education to those who do. Not enough faculty, students, parents, and others concerned about the fate of young people and democracy are mobilizing both in and outside of the university, willing and able to defend higher education as a public good and critical pedagogy as a moral and political practice that builds the capacity of young people to become engaged social agents.

Central to any viable, democratic view of higher education is the necessity to challenge the notion that the only value of education is to drive economic progress and transformation in the interest of national prosperity. We must also reconsider how the university in a post-9/11 era is being militarized and increasingly reduced to an adjunct of the growing national security state. The public has given up on the idea of either funding higher education or valuing it as a public good indispensable to the life of any viable democracy. This is all the more reason for academics to be in the forefront of a coalition of activists, public servants, activists, and others in both rejecting the growing corporate management of higher education and developing a new discourse in which the university and particularly the humanities, can be defended as a vital social and public institution in a democratic society.

If academics cannot defend the university as a public good and democratic public sphere, then who will? If we cannot or refuse to take the lead in joining with students, labor unions, public school teachers, artists, and other cultural workers in defending higher education as the most crucial institution in establishing the formative culture necessary for a thriving democracy, then we will turn the humanities, liberal arts and the larger university over to a host of dangerously anti-democratic economic, political, cultural and social forces. If liberal learning and the humanities collapse under the current assaults on higher education, we will witness the emergence of a neoliberal state, and the civic and democratic role of higher education, however tarnished, will disappear. Under such circumstances, higher education and especially the humanities, will enter a death spiral unlike anything we have seen in the past. Not even a shadow of its former self, the university will become simply another institution and vocational program entirely at odds with imperatives of critical thought, dissent, social responsibility and civic courage.

Defending the university means more than exhibiting a combination of critique and moral outrage. It means developing a critical and oppositional culture and collective movement within the university and joining with social movements outside of its now largely segregated walls. Reaching a broader public about the social and democratic character of higher education is crucial, especially since a large part of the public has given “up on the idea of educating people for democratic citizenship”(12) and viewing higher education as a public good. There is more at stake here than the deep responsibilities of academics to defend academic freedom, the tenure system and faculty autonomy, however important. The real issues lie elsewhere and speak to preserving the public character of higher education and recognizing that defending it as a democratic public sphere is largely about creating the crucial pedagogical conditions for developing a generation of young people willing to fight for democracy as both a promise and a possibility. Walter Benjamin once wrote, “He who cannot take sides should keep silent.” If academics want to prevent the further colonization of higher education by a phalange of anti-democratic forces extending from corporate power brokers and mega-millionaires to right-wing ideologues and the vested interest of the military-industrial-academic complex, they cannot afford to be either silent or distant observers. The stakes are too high and the struggle too important. Time is running out for reclaiming higher education as a democratic public sphere and a place for teachers and students to think critically and act responsibly. The militarized culture of neoliberalism is completely at odds with the pedagogical conditions necessary for imaginative risk taking, dissent, dialogue, engaged scholarship, faculty autonomy and democratic modes of governance. Higher education is one of the few spaces left where democratic identities, values and desires can be created. If the future of young people matters as much as democracy itself, this is a struggle that needs to begin today.

Footnotes:

1. Some useful sources on neoliberalism include: Lisa Duggan, “The Twilight of Equality.” (Boston: Beacon Press, 2003); David Harvey, “A Brief History of Neoliberalism,” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Wendy Brown, “Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics,” (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Alfredo Saad-Filho and Deborah Johnston, eds., “Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader,” (London: Pluto Press, 2005); Neil Smith, “The Endgame of Globalization,” (New York: Routledge, 2005); Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006); Randy Martin, “An Empire of Indifference: American War and the Financial Logic of Risk Management,” (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007); Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” (New York: Knopf, 2007); Henry A. Giroux, “Against the Terror of Neoliberalism,” (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008); David Harvey, “The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis of Capitalism,” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); and Gerard Dumenil and Dominique Levy, “The Crisis of Neoliberalism,” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011).

2. See, for example, Stanley Aronowitz, “Against Schooling: For an Education That Matters,” (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008); Christopher Newfield, “Unmaking the Public University,” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008); and Ellen Schrecker, “The Lost Soul of Higher Education,” (New York: New Press, 2010). One of the most extensive compilations analyzing this assault can be found in Edward J. Carvalho and David B. Downing, eds., “Academic Freedom in the Post-9-11 Era,” (New York: Palgrave, 2010); and my forthcoming, Henry A. Giroux, “Education and the Crisis of Public Values,” (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2011).

3. See Isabelle Bruno and Christopher Newfield, “Can the Cognitariat Speak?” E-Flux No. 14 (March 2010). Online at: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/118/. See also Christopher Newfield, “Unmaking the Public University,” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008).

4. Ibid.

5. For an interesting critique of this issue, see the special issue of The Nation called “Out of Reach: Is College Only for the Rich?” (June 29, 2009).

6. This argument has been made against academics for quite some time, though it has either been forgotten or conveniently ignored by many faculty. See, for example, various essays in C. Wright Mills, “The Powerless People: The Role of the Intellectual in Society” in C. Wright Mills, “The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills,” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 13-24; Edward Said, “Humanism and Democratic Criticism,” (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004); and Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux, “Take Back Higher Education,” (New York: Palgrave, 2004).

7. On the university’s relationship with the national security state, see David Price, “How the CIA Is Welcoming Itself Back Onto American University Campuses: Silent Coup,” CounterPunch (April 9-11, 2010). Online at: http://www.counterpunch.org/price04092010.html. See also Nick Turse, “How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives,” (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008); and Henry A. Giroux, “The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex,” (Boulder: Paradigm, 2007).

8. Cornelius Castoriadis, “Democracy as Procedure and Democracy as Regime,” Constellations 4:1 (1997), p. 5.

9. Frank Rich, “Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha,” New York Times (November 20, 2010), p. WK8.

10. Toni Morrison, “How Can Values Be Taught in This University,” Michigan Quarterly Review (Spring 2001), p. 278.

11. Stefan Collini, “Browne’s Gamble,” London Review of Books, Vol. 32, No. 21 (November 4, 2010). Online at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n21/stefan-collini/brownes-gamble.

12. David Glenn, “Public Higher Education Is ‘Eroding From All Sides,’ Warn Political Scientists,” Chronicle of Higher Education (September 2, 2010). Online at: http://chronicle.com/article/Public-Higher-Education-Is/124292/.

Dictatorship and Neo-Liberalism: The Tunisian People’s Uprising

January 19th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

December 2010 saw the beginning of a milestone in the Arab World. Protests in Tunisia started because of a lack of freedom, inflation, unemployment, and a decline in wages. They could lead to a new model in the Arab World.

The imposed leaders of the Arab World have taken notice of the Tunisian people’s uprising, which hereto is not a full revolution. 

The popular uprising in Tunisia has sent cold shivers up the spines of Arab rulers and made them fear for the continuation of their own unpopular reigns. Remnants of the old regime are also working to incorporate themselves into the formation of a new government.

 

An Arab Uprising Against the Hand-in-Hand Couple of Dictatorship and Neo-Liberalism

The Tunisian people’s uprising is in part an answer against the vicious  police state in Tunisia run by the dictator Zine Al-Abidine Bin Ali. In part, the Tunisian uprising is also an answer to the hideous neo-liberal model of economic development that was imposed by Bin Ali in Tunisia. In this regard, the U.S. and the E.U. were the primary benefactors of the harsh economic measures imposed in Tunisia by Bin Ali.

Up until 2011, Tunisia has consistently been paraded and touted as an ideal state and as a model of success and development by the U.S., the E.U., the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, amongst others. Never once have the human right violations, the murders, and the repression in Tunisia been criticized by any of these bodies or their officials.

Up until after Bin Ali fled (January 14, 2010), the mainstream media in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and the Arab World have mentioned nothing about the brutal repression in Tunisia. Inversely, the mainstream media has white-washed most of the Bin Ali  regime’s crimes and instead talked about Tunisia as a success story. The Guardian, after Bin Ali ran away to Saudi Arabia from Tunisia, gave a overview of the type of repression Bin Ali directed against Tunisians:

Confusion reigned. For the first time in the Arab world, a people had forced out a leader by spontaneously and peacefully taking to the street. But although Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali has fled, the diehards of his brutal police force have not. During the day random yellow taxi-loads of militia loyal to the ousted leader had careered through the capital and some suburbs, firing randomly into the air. Armed gangs broke into homes and ransacked them, or fired shots in the street.

In the early morning, after the curfew that shuts down Tunis at night, some residents ventured out for coffee at the few cafes that were open, often in the shadow of tanks positioned on intersections. Later, tension ran high. By lunchtime, one hospital morgue in Tunis had registered 13 dead, including five police officers. “This is being done by Ben Ali’s old torturers, they have arms, they want to create chaos,” said an activist from one opposition party.

In residential areas across the country, locals formed vigilante groups to defend themselves against the gangs they feared were led by Ben Ali’s police. In La Marsa, a middle-class suburb to the north, streets were blockaded by old bits of broken doors, plant pots, water cans, bricks and paving slabs, to stop cars speeding through for drive-by shootings or houses being ransacked. Omar, 18, a well-dressed sixth-former who wanted to go to art college, had been standing guard until 3am as part of a hastily-formed group. “There were 30 of us, including my schoolfriends and my dad. We armed ourselves with sticks and whatever we could find, and wore white armbands so the army knew who we were.” As he stood talking outside a smart shopping centre protected by a tank, a soldier warned him to move, as there had been reports of a taxi marauding through the area containing gunmen firing from its windows.

“We’ll never forgive Ben Ali for unleashing his militia on the country,” said one elderly lady. “More than the corruption of his regime, this is what we will never, ever forgive him for.”

Meanwhile, the full horror of repression over four weeks of demonstrations is beginning to emerge. Human rights groups estimate at least 150-200 deaths since 17 December. In random roundups in poor, rural areas youths were shot in the head and dumped far from home so bodies could not be identified. Police also raped women in their houses in poor neighbourhoods in and around Kasserine in the rural interior.

Sihem Bensedrine, head of the National Council for Civil Liberties, said: “These were random, a sort of reprisal against the people. In poor areas, women who had nothing to do with anything, were raped in front of their families. Guns held back the men; the women were raped in front of them.” A handful of cases were reported in Kasserine and Thala last Monday. Rape was often used as a torture technique under the regime; opposition women report they were raped in the basement of the interior ministry, as were men, too.

Rights lawyers were also gathering information on those murdered and dumped far from their villages, thrown into cemetery grounds, or offloaded at the side of the road or outside hospitals. These shootings were believed to have taken place in the past ten days. “Lots of these bodies are yet to be identified; they were purposely dumped far from their homes. Families think their young ones have been arrested. They don’t know they are never coming back,” said Bensedrine, who herself had been beaten and forced into exile before returning in recent days. You have to understand that under Ben Ali, it was a regime of torture, with beating, harassment and intimidation but not necessarily mass killing. The past four weeks has been different; it’s a massacre, it’s something else.”

Ahlem Belhadj, a psychiatrist and women’s rights activist, said people felt robbed of the joy of Ben Ali’s departure by the chaos that had ensued. She said the spontaneous protest movement – and the unemployed undergraduate who started it by setting himself alight – had showed the desperation of a population who felt repressed, humiliated, with no chance of jobs or prospects after 23 years of despotism.

“We had become a nation of hunger strikers; there was no other political or social means of dissent.

“Then, for people to set themselves alight, was extreme: it showed there was such a fear of the ‘other’, the regime, that people could only turn the aggression on themselves. It was self-destruction as a way of fighting.”

Khelil Ezzaouia, an orthopaedic surgeon and trade union figure tipped for a post in the interim government, hoped the chaos would be brought under control, and that commissions set up into rights abuses, political reform and corruption. He said: “There will be a temporary transition government to show the page of Ben Ali has been closed, and to send out a strong signal to reassure the population.”

On national state radio, a tool of regime power until days ago, DJs spoke freely for the first time, but had to regret that the joy of a dictator’s departure had been tempered by a fear of the militia attacks.

“Ours is a difficult happiness,” sighed one music show presenter, before putting on another 1960s resistance song. [1]

Why the Silence from the U.S., France, the E.U., and the Arab Dictators?

While the U.S. and its allies were also quick to label and tout the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Twitter Revolution in Moldova, and the Green Revolution in Iran, they did not do the same in regards to the protests of the Tunisian people. 

When there was election turmoil in Venezuela and in Iran, the U.S. and the E.U. were quick to make declarations about democracy and to criticize Caracas and Tehran. Yet, the same standards were not applied in regards to the 2009 Tunisian elections and the protests that started in December 2010 in Tunisia.

The French, the U.S., the House of Saud, and Israel have all been instrumental in sustaining the Bin Ali dictatorship. Bin Ali in reality served the interests of the U.S. and its allies. American and French “advisors” would call the shots for Tunis, especially in its financial, intelligence, security, and military fields. The U.S., France, and the E.U. also had no problems with the deeply rooted levels of corruption and nepotism in Tunis under Bin Ali.

The American and French governments, as well as Israel, have been complicit in the repression of the Tunisian people and the repression of the Tunisian demands for freedom. This is why there is a groundswell of  Tunisian anger towards the U.S., France, and Israel. Protests outside of the American and French embassies are a demonstration of the awareness of the Tunisian people about the U.S. and French role in oppressing their freedom.

The White House and the U.S. State Department only made statements to the benefit of Bin Ali. Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, told Al-Arabiya News Channel that the U.S. government was “not taking sides” in regards to Bin Ali and his brutal repression of unarmed civilian protesters demanding freedom. The U.S. merely waited until Bin Ali fled to even acknowledge the Tunisian people’s rights. Doing quite the opposite over the years, the U.S. government and its officials have continuously made statements of support for Bin Ali, as is customary of their support of any dictators who submit to U.S. economic interests.

The House of Saud, which controls a substantial amount of Arabic media through personal ownership or family ties, would use all its influence to discredit the Tunisian people’s protests in an effort to manipulate Arab public opinion in favour of the dictatorial regime of Bin Ali. Later, when it was clear that there was no hope for the continuation of Bin Ali’s rule, the House of Saud would invite the Tunisian dictator to Saudi Arabia.

 

The Old Colonial Master: Paris offers to help Bin Ali Crush the Tunisian People

Before it became obvious that the Bin Ali regime was going to collapse, France wanted to help crush the Tunisian people’s demands for freedom. The French Defence Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, lied through her teeth about the offer days later.

The Guardian chronicles this:

The French foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, today defended her controversial offer to help Tunisia’s deposed president restore order days before he was ousted.

Alliot-Marie had been summoned to explain her remarks, made last week, to the Assemblée Nationale’s foreign affairs commission.

The cabinet minister had offered to share the expertise of French security forces “recognised throughout the world” to help control the uprising.

Since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia on Friday, France has attempted to distance itself from the former leader, refusing him exile and ordering a block on his family’s property and money held in France.

Today, Alliot-Marie fended off opposition calls for her resignation and told parliamentarians that France, along with other countries, had “not seen events coming”.

“Let’s face it, we were all of us – politicians, diplomats, researchers, journalists – taken by surprise by the jasmine revolution,” Alliot-Marie said.

She said her offer had been “misrepresented” and had been aimed at helping the Tunisian people, not propping up repression.

“I’d spent the night in an aeroplane, and it’s possible I did not express myself well,” she said. “I began to doubt myself, but afterwards I re-read my proposal to see that it was what actually what I thought and not what was being interpreted by certain people.”

She added that she was “scandalised” by how her comments had been distorted.

Earlier, it had appeared that Alliot-Marie was being isolated by the Élysée Palace after an adviser of the president, Nicolas Sarkozy, suggested she was expressing “her own analysis of the situation”. [2]

In reality, Paris did secretly send aid to Bin Ali. The U.S. and Israel also sent riot gear and arms.

 

The Mossad and Israel in Tunisia

In regards to the interests of Tel Aviv, Tunisia has been an open zone for Israeli intelligence work, killings, and data collection against Palestinian and Arab activists. Israel has helped in the repression of democratic dissent in Tunisia to keep Bin Ali in power. It has been a part of Israel’s strategic initiative to prevent any democratic states from emerging in the Arab World. The same can be said about the U.S. and the E.U. in regards to preventing the emergence of real Arab democracy. The Tunisian uprising would actually force the Israeli government to make an “emergency rescue” of so-called Israeli “visitors” in Tunisia:

A group of 20 Israelis was rescued Saturday evening from Tunisia, where a violent uprising has succeeded in overturning the government.

The complicated mission was orchestrated by a number of Israeli authorities, including the Foreign Ministry. The tourists were first transferred to a third country, from where are to continue to Israel by plane. [3]

These so-called Israeli “visitors” that the Israeli government would evacuate from Tunisia were Mossad agents.

Tunisia still in the Cross-Hairs

The neo-liberal model has brought poverty and despair to Tunisia. These facts have been ignored by the U.S., France, and those that commended and lauded Tunisian economic measures. Once again, the U.S. and French governments have also exposed their contempt’s for genuine democracy. Any talk by Paris and the U.S. about respecting and caring for the Tunisian people is merely two-face bravado.

Calls for democracy and fair elections were only made by the U.S. and France after Bin Ali fled Tunisia. If there were any sincerity in the U.S. and French calls for Arab self-determination then they would extend these calls to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Libya, Jordon, and Yemen. Beyond the Arab World, they would extend these calls to countries like NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

The mainstream media is also just starting to pick up on the events in Tunisia, but with a narrow focus that ignores the work of Bin Ali and his cronies as economic hitmen for the E.U. and America. Despite the fact that it has no connection to WikiLeaks and the fact that it is not hereto a full-blown revolution, the revolt in Tunisia has also begun to be dubbed as a “WikiLeaks Revolution.”

Tunisia is not free yet. The Tunisian national unity government is dominated and includes many of the same characters from Bin Ali’s regime. The uprising has not turned into a revolution yet.

The U.S., France, the E.U., the House of Saud, the Arab dictators, and Israel are all conspiring to ensure that a new Tunisian government that will serve their interests will take the mantle of the old Tunisian regime. The structure that kept Bin Ali in place still exists and the foreign interests that supported his rule still hold influence in Tunis. They may manage to retain power.

America and France have not forfeited their economic interests in Tunisia. Nor has the neo-liberal model been declared null and void in Tunis. In a bid to maintain the continuation of French contracts in Tunisia, the French government did not offer to Bin Ali sanctuary in France, despite the fact that he was a loyal ally of Paris until the end of his reign. 

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

NOTES
[1] Angelique Chrisafis, “Confusion, fear and horror in Tunisia as old regime’s militia carries on the fight,” The Guardian (U.K.), January 16, 2011.
[2] Kim Willsher, “French minister defends offer of security forces to Tunisia,” The Guardian (U.K.), January 18, 2011.
[3] Ronen Medzini, “20 Israelisrescued from Tunisia, ” Yedioth Ahronoth, January 15, 2011.

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Social Security may be on the White House chopping block, a US Senator recently told Raw Story, expressing deep uneasiness about President Barack Obama’s noncommittal attitude toward staving off cuts to the cherished program.

“I have to tell you, I have been on the phone to the very, very, very highest levels of the Obama administration, and the responses that I am getting are not assuring,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in an exclusive interview. “What I’m told is that no definitive decisions have been made on the issue of Social Security – I expect that is probably true.”

Progressive activists, fearing that the holy grail of American liberalism could fall prey to a bipartisan deal on Capitol Hill, have launched a campaign to pressure the White House and Congress to oppose cuts. And Sanders has stepped up as their champion in the Senate, confirming their concerns based on knowledge drawn from his relative proximity to the president.

“What I’m hearing does not reassure me – that we have a president who is not prepared to defend the heart and soul of what the Democratic Party has been about since Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” said Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.

The independent from Vermont on Friday wrote to President Obama urging him stick by his campaign promise and oppose cuts in Social Security benefits, as Washington debates ways to cut the national debt.

Sanders cited as one cause for concern the president’s decision to appoint two longtime “foes” of Social Security, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, to co-chair his deficit commission, which proposed trimming the program’s payouts by increasing the retirement age.

Obama “could have said that’s not on the table,” Sanders said. “He didn’t say that.”

But much more disconcerting, the senator added, was the tax deal the president struck with Senate Republicans last month, which included a one-year cut in the payroll tax – the source of Social Security’s funding – from 6.2 to 4.2 percent. Obama previously argued the compromise was necessary to prevent a tax hike on middle class Americans.

“I believe very strongly that it will be very, very difficult to undo this one-year program,” Sanders said. “Republicans will say it is a tax increase on workers, and they control the House.” Indeed, GOP lawmakers have since admitted they have no intention of letting the payroll tax return to its original, higher level in a year:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/11/public-opposes-cutting-so_n_678374.html

“So what the president has done is walked us in an unprecedented direction in terms of diverting huge amounts of money from Social Security,” Sanders said. “A very, very, very dangerous precedent. And when aides of his such as [Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers] Austan Goolsbee were asked to reflect on this, he chose not to do so.”

Polls have shown strong public opposition to proposals that would reduce the scope of Social Security:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/11/public-opposes-cutting-so_n_678374.html

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/social-security-and-younger-americans/

While the program’s payouts did exceed revenues for the first time last year, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus of $2.6 trillion and is expected to remain solvent in its current form until 2037, according to its trustees report:

http://www.ncpssm.org/news/archive/2010_ss_trustees_report/

“It’s inexplicable to me that anybody in the White House would give two seconds of thought to cutting Social Security,” Sanders concluded.

The White House did not return requests for comment.

A spectre is haunting Europe: the illusion that Latvia’s financial and fiscal austerity is a model for other countries to emulate. Bankers and the financial press are asking governments from Greece to Ireland and now Spain as well: “Why can’t you be like Latvia and sacrifice your economy to pay the debts that you ran up during the financial bubble?” The answer is, they can’t – without an economic, demographic and political collapse that will only make matters worse.

Only a year ago it was recognized that decades of neoliberalism had crashed the U.S. and several European economies. Years of deregulation,  speculation and lack of investment in the real economy had left them with rising inequality and little consumer demand, except for what was financed by running up debt. But the financial press and neoliberal policymakers counterattacked, using the “Baltic Tigers” as an exemplary battering ram to counter Keynesian spending policies and the Social Europe model envisioned by Jacques Delors.

Analysts have viewed Latvia’s October election results as vindication of the efficacy of austerity for solving the economic crisis. The standard narrative is that Latvia’s Prime Minister won re-election even after imposing the harshest tax and austerity policies ever imposed during peacetime, because voters realized that this was necessary. On politics, the standard narrative (as recently rolled out in The Economist) is that Latvia’s taciturn and honest prime minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, won re-election in October even after imposing the harshest tax and austerity policies ever adopted during peacetime, because the “mature” electorate realized this was necessary, “defying conventional wisdom” by voting in an austerity government.

The Wall Street Journal has published several articles promoting this view. Most recently, Charles Doxbury advocated Latvia’s internal devaluation and austerity strategy as the model for Europe’s crisis nations to follow. The view commonly argued is that Latvia’s economic freefall (the deepest of any nation from the 2008 crisis) has finally stopped and that recovery (albeit very fragile and modest) is under way.

This view appeals to bankers looking to prevent defaults on private and public debt, hoping that austerity can lead to economic recovery. But Latvia’s model is not replicable. Latvia has no labor movement to speak of, and little tradition of activism based on anything other than ethnicity. Contrary to most press coverage, its austerity policies are not popular. The election turned on ethnic issues, not a referendum on economic policy. Ethnic Latvians (the majority) voted for the ethnic Latvian parties (mostly neoliberal), while the sizeable 30% minority of Russian speakers voted with similar discipline for their party (loosely Keynesian).

Twenty years from independence, the consequences of Russian emigration to Latvia under Soviet occupation still shape voting patterns. Unless other economies can draw upon similar ethnic division as a distractive cover, political leaders pursuing Latvian-style austerity policies are doomed to electoral defeat.

While the economic crisis was deep enough to drive even Latvia’s depoliticized population into the streets in the winter of 2009, most Latvians soon after found the path of least resistance to be simply to emigrate. Neoliberal austerity has created demographic losses exceeding Stalin’s deportations back in the 1940s (although without the latter’s loss of life). As government cutbacks in education, health care and other basic social infrastructure threaten to undercut long-term development, young people are emigrating to better their life rather than to suffer in an economy without jobs. Over 12% of the overall population (and a much larger percentage of its labor force) now works abroad.

Moreover, children (what few of them there are as marriage and birth rates drop) have been left orphaned behind, prompting demographers to wonder how this small country can survive. So unless other debt-strapped European economies with populations far exceeding Latvia’s 2.3 million people can find foreign labor markets to accept their workers unemployed under the new financial austerity, this exit option will not be available.

Latvia’s projected 3.3% growth rate for 2011 is cited as further evidence of success that its austerity model has stabilized its bad-debt crisis and chronic trade deficit that was financed by foreign-currency mortgage loans. Given a 25% fall in GDP over during the crisis, this growth rate would take a decade to just restore the size of Latvia’s 2007 economy. Is this “dead cat” bounce sufficiently compelling for other EU states to follow it over the fiscal cliff?

Despite its disastrous economic and social results, Latvia’s neoliberal trauma regardless is idealized by the financial press and neoliberal politicians seeking to impose austerity on their own economies. Before the global crisis of 2008, the “Baltic Tigers” were celebrated as the vanguard of New Europe’s free market economies. Critics of this economic “miracle,” built on foreign currency loans financing property speculation and privatization buyouts, were dismissed as naysayers. Without missing a beat, these commentators have branded the present Latvian option of austerity as policies for other nations to adopt.

The Latvian option serves several masters. The financial press pines for the fairytale that markets self-correct and austerity brings prosperity. Latvia’s Central Bank (about which even the IMF has expressed concern over its neoliberal stridency) wishes to run a victory lap, absolving itself for policies that imposed massive suffering on Latvia’s people. And Washington and EU neoliberals want other countries to adopt Latvia’s version of China’s colonial “Open Door” matched with a Dickensian welfare system. Openness to economic penetration is the standard on measure, and the Balts have this in spades, ergo, they are “successes,” regardless of how well or bad their economy serves its people’s needs.

Given the geographic proximity of Latvia and Belarus, it is illuminating to compare how neoliberals have assessed their respective economies. Latvia suffered Europe’s largest economic collapse in 2008 and 2009, with continuing double-digit unemployment. Its economy will show no growth until this year (2011), and its modest growth likely will remain accompanied by double-digit unemployment. Much of its population has evacuated the country, leaving many children with relatives or to fend for themselves. Neighboring Belarus, with few of Latvia’s geographic advantages (ports and beaches) or high-tech background, has a per capital GDP not too far behind Latvia’s. Belarus had a boom with double-digit growth before the crisis, and kept its economy at full employment during the crisis rather than collapsing by the 25 percent rate that plagued Latvia. Belarus also has a GINI coefficient (inequality) roughly on par with Sweden, while Latvia’s is closer to the widening inequality levels that now characterize the United States.

Yet neoliberal Latvia is declared an economic success model and Belarus a failure. The CIA’s World Factbook reminds its readers that Belarus’s performance occurred “despite the roadblocks of a tough, centrally directed economy.” This is the standard characterization of Belarus. But one needs to ask to what degree its success may reflect its central planning. Latvia has produced greater political freedom for dissidents, but Belarus has less economic inequality and foreign debt.

Every economy in history has been a mixed economy. We are not defending Comrade Lukashenko’s media and political repression in Belarus. We simply are not going to the opposite extreme of applauding Latvia’s neoliberal model. One can reject Belarus’ political system without endorsing the electoral oligarchy that characterizes much of Latvia’s political life. Yet win or lose on economic outcomes, Latvia and the Starving Baltic Tigers will be declared the winners, while Belarus always will be declared the loser on economic performance, regardless of achievement. You will not see a measured look at both nations’ economies to examine objectively where they are succeeding and failing (including by sector) with an eye for what lessons might be derived from such an investigation. Economic comparisons are entirely political.

Our intention is not to blame the Latvian nation for the cruel neoliberal policy experiment to which it has been subjected, to question the global community of policymakers, intellectuals and some of Latvia’s own elites that persist in pursuing this failed policy and even recommend it to other countries as a path of growth rather than economic and demographic suicide. Latvia’s people have suffered from the ravages of two World Wars and two occupations, capped by neoliberalism dismantling its industry and driving it deeper and deeper into debt – indeed, foreign-currency debt – since it achieved independence in 1991. Neoliberalism has delivered poverty so deep as to cause in an exodus of Biblical proportions out of the country. To call this a forward economic step and a victory of economic reason reminds one of Tacitus’ characterization of Rome’s imperial military victories, put in the mouth of the Celtic chieftain Calgacus before the battle of Mons Graupius: “They make a desert and they call it peace.”

In the several years that we both have been visiting Latvia we have seen an industrious and talented people, with many displaying integrity despite being immersed in a corrupt environment. Our aim here is to explain why the failed “Latvian model” should be seen as a warning for what other countries should avoid, not a policy to be imposed on hapless Ireland, Greece and other European debtor countries. In fact, we both have worked to encourage a policy reversal in Latvia itself. What now is at stake, after all, is the future of European social democracy and the continuation of peace in a region plagued by war for a millennium prior to the 1950s.

The problem is that Europe’s economic difficulties are rooted not merely in profligacy, as the press and many politicians typically claim. Debt is a consequence of structural financial, economic and fiscal faults built into the design of post-Soviet Europe. In a nutshell, the European Union never developed sustainable mechanisms to transfer capital from its richest economies to poorer countries, especially on the periphery.

The Bretton Woods order after World War II was part of a more workable system for reconstruction lending and capital transfers between war-torn Europe and the United States. Marshall Plan aid, accompanied by capital controls and government investment to encourage economic development and monetary independence, enabled Western Europe’s national economies to buy imports from the United States while building up their own export capacity and raising their living standards. The system was not without fault, but the desire to avoid the previous half-century cycle of economic depression and war (and mounting Cold War concerns) led Western Europe’s economies to develop and pave the way for subsequent continental integration.

The post-Cold War period since 1991 reflects similar patterns of underdevelopment in the relationship between rich Western Europe and its poorer East and Southern European counterparts. In contrast what was done after World War II, sustainable structures were not put in place to make the latter economies self-sustaining. Just the opposite outcome was structured in: foreign currency debt, especially for domestic mortgage loans, without putting in place the means to pay it off.

Today, the wealthiest EU states are high-value added manufacturers. EU expansion twenty years ago was marked by rising exports and bank loans from these nations to what have become today’s crisis economies – and by rising debt levels in the context of privatization sell-offs without progressive income taxation and with little property tax (a major factor in promoting local real estate bubbles). The Baltics and East European countries have financed their trade deficits over the past decade mainly by Swedish, Austrian and other banks lending against real estate and infrastructure being sold and resold with increasing debt leverage. This has not put in place the means to pay off these debts, except by a continued inflation of a real estate bubble to sustain enough foreign-currency borrowing to cover chronic trade deficits and capital flight.

The Baltic States have since brought their current account into line, not by producing more goods and services, but by impoverishing their people. Their neoliberal planners have slashed consumption – not to create capital for investment, but to pay down debts to bankers. This is how they are adjusting to the cessation of capital inflows from foreign banks now that real estate Bubble Lending has dried up (the Bubble Lending that was applauded for making their property markets “Baltic Tigers” to the banks getting rich off the process). Bankers and the financial press depict this austerity program to pay back banks as the way forward, not as sinking into the mire of debts owed to creditors that have not cared much about how the Baltic economies are to pay – except by shrinking, emigrating and squeezing labor yet more tightly.

The fiscal burden falls much more heavily on employment than it did in Western Europe sixty years ago during its period of reconstruction. Insider dealing and financial fraud was widespread. To cap matters, euro-denominated debt for associate members was secured by income in their own local currencies. Worst of all, banks simply lent against real estate and public infrastructure already in place instead of to increase production and tangible capital formation. In contrast to the Marshall Plan’s government-to-government grants, the ECB’s focus on commercial bank lending simply produced a real estate bubble. Bank lending inflated their real estate bubbles and financed a transfer of property, but not much new tangible capital formation to enable debtor economies to pay for their imports. Just the opposite: Their debts rose without increasing foreign-exchange earning power. So it was inevitable that this house of cards would collapse.

In setting up the EU’s economic relations, free-market trade theory assumed that direct investment and bank lending would provide the capital needed to help Europe’s poorer regions catch up. This assumption turned out to be unwarranted. Banks lent against real estate and other assets already in place, inflating their prices on credit. It is the debt overhang and related aftermath of this narrow-minded economic philosophy that now needs to be cleaned up.
These arrangements served the major EU exporters but did not develop European-wide stability based on more extensive economic growth. Without the looming threat of war or political threat from Russia, Europe’s richest nations pushed for trade liberalization and privatizations that accelerated de-industrialization in the former Soviet bloc. Southern European members were brought into the Eurozone with its strong currency and strict limits on government spending that failed to enable these countries to develop their manufactures in the way that Western Europe (and the United States) had done.

This state of affairs could only be temporary, because the East was reconstructed in a way that made it import-dependent and financially subordinate to the West, treated more as a colony than as a partner. And as in colonial regions, the West became a destiny for capital flight as property was sold on credit and the proceeds moved out of the post-Soviet and southern European kleptocracies and oligarchies. The foreign currency to pay banks on the loans that were bidding up real estate prices was obtained by borrowing yet more to inflate property prices yet more – the classic definition of a Ponzi scheme. In this case, European banks played the role of new entrants into the scheme, organizing the post-Soviet economies like a vast chain letter, providing the money to keep the upward-spiraling flow moving.

The problem was that credit only was extended to fuel real estate and to finance the exportation of goods from the industrial export dependent Western Europe (with its Common Agricultural Policy crop surpluses) a deindustrialized and agriculturally unmodernized East. The expanding debt pyramid had to collapse, as no means of paying it off were put in place.

There was a vague hope that levels of economic development eventually would equalize across the EU, as if bank lending and foreign buy-outs would lead to greater homogeneity rather than financial polarization. The problem was that the EU viewed its new members as markets for existing banks and exporters (including as dumping ground for its agricultural surpluses), not to help these new members become economically self-sustaining or set up viable national financial systems of their own.
Given the restrictions the euro places on its member countries, the path of least resistance EU’s creditor nations and banks understandably would like to resolve this crisis is “internal devaluation”: lower wages, public spending and living standards to make the debtors pay. This is the old IMF austerity doctrine that failed in the Third World. It looks like it is about to be reprised. The EU policy seems to be for wage earners and pension savers to bail out banks for their legacy of bad mortgages and other loans that cannot be paid – except by going into poverty.

So do Greece and Ireland, and now perhaps Spain and Portugal as well, understand just what they are being asked to emulate? The EU policy seems to be for wage earners and pension savers to bail out banks for their legacy of bad mortgages and other loans that cannot be paid – except by plunging their economies into poverty. How much “Latvian medicine” can these countries take? If their economies shrink and employment plunges, where will their labor emigrate?

Without public investment, how can they become competitive? The traditional path is for mixed economies to provide public infrastructure at cost or at subsidized prices. But if governments “work their way out of debt” by selling off this infrastructure to buyers (on credit whose interest charges are tax-deductible) who erect rent-extracting tollbooths, these economies will fall further behind and be even less able to pay their debts. Arrears will mount up in an exponential compound interest curve.

The EU’s creditor nations and banks are seeking to resolve the crisis in way that will not cost them much money. The best hope, it is argued, given the inability of the crisis countries to depreciate their currencies, is “internal devaluation” (wage austerity) on the Latvian model. Bankers and bondholders are to be paid out of EU/IMF bailout loans.

The problem is the austerity imposed by existing debt levels. If wages (and hence, prices) decline, the debt burden (already high by historical standards) will become even heavier. This is what the United States suffered in the late 19th century, when the price level was driven down to “restore” gold to its pre-Civil War (and hence, pre-greenback) price. Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan decried crucifying labor on a cross of gold in 1896. It was the problem that England earlier experienced after the Treaty of Ghent ended the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Aside from the misery and human tragedies that will multiply in its wake, fiscal and wage austerity is economically self-destructive. It will create a downward demand spiral pulling the EU as a whole into recession.

The basic problem is whether it is desirable for economies to sacrifice their growth and impose depression – and lower living standards – to benefit creditors. Rarely in history has this been the case – except in a context of intensifying class warfare. So what will Latvians, Greeks, Irish, Spaniards and other Europeans do as their labor is crucified by “internal devaluation” to shift purchasing power to pay foreign creditors?

What is needed is a reset button on the EU’s economic and fiscal philosophy. How Europe handles this crisis may determine whether its history follows the peaceful path of mutual gain and prosperity that economics textbooks envision, or the downward spiral of austerity that has made IMF planners so unpopular in debtor economies.
Is this the path that Europe will embark on? Is it the fate of the Jacques Delors’ project of a Social Europe? Was it what Europe’s citizens expected when they adopted the euro?

There is an alternative, of course. It is for creditors at the top of the economic pyramid to take a loss. That would restore the intensifying GINI income and wealth coefficients back to their lower levels of a decade or two ago. Failure to do this would lock in a new kind of international financial class extracting tribute much like Europe’s Viking invaders did a thousand years ago in seizing its land and imposing tribute in the form of land. Today, they impose financial charges as a post-modern neoserfdom that threatens to return Europe to its pre-modern state.
3,350 words

Prof. Hudson at UMKC and Prof. Sommers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are advisors to the Renew Latvia Task Force.

“The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong. . . that we have been detrimental to . . .life . . . . The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when speaking of the Vietnam War.

The documents that Bradley Manning has been accused of leaking sharpen the demands of the world upon America and upon ourselves.  The classified documents describe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as diplomatic cables that show how United States conducts foreign policy.  They show a nation that bullies, threatens, blackmails, spies, wantonly kills civilians and commits wars of aggression – if the U.S. were not the world’s lone superpower it would be considered a rogue state.

Even in the era of Martin Luther King he described the United States as “a society gone mad on war”  and “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”  As then, the responsibility is that of the American people to correct.  As King said of Vietnam “The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.” 

So, on Martin Luther King Day I joined 200 people at the Quantico Marine Base where Bradley Manning, an American citizen not convicted of anything, is being held in solitary confinement, not allowed to exercise in his 6 by 12 foot cell, not given a real pillow or blanket, with no contact with others except guards who make sure he does not sleep during the day after they wake him up at 5 in the morning.  

Manning is a patriot.  He is not accused of giving documents demonstrating criminal and unethical actions by the U.S. to Iran, China or Russia, instead, if the allegations against him are true, he gave them to the media so the American people could learn what its government was doing.  He could have sold the documents to the highest bidder, but instead, he allegedly gave them for free to the media.  He could have published them verbatim and put Americans at risk, but instead by allegedly gave them to the media he ensured professional journalists would review them, verify them and weigh their release with national security concerns.   

Some argue that Manning should have gone through the chain of command.  In fact, he tried.  When he first saw 15 Iraqis being tortured by the Iraqi government the U.S. put in power and protects he examined the case and discovered they were being tortured for publishing a scholarly article asking where the money in Iraq went.  He brought this to his commander who told him to shut up and round up more Iraqis.  Then he saw on the computer screen widespread war crimes.  He saw that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned the State Department into a nest of spies that violated the law by spying on UN diplomats.  If the criminality goes to the Secretary of State, what is the use of going up the chain of command? 

And, look what the Obama administration has done in response to war crimes.  When it came to torture, President Obama and his Justice Department said they did not want to look back, but only wanted to look forward, and decided not to prosecute those who committed torture.  When the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended recommending disbarring lawyers who produced legal memoranda to provide false cover for torture, they decided to ignore that recommendation and take no action against the torture lawyers.  When a judge held that CIA officers who destroyed evidence, video tapes of torture, we in contempt of court the administration decided not to prosecute

Now, just as in the time of Dr. King, we must conclude as he did, “my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.”  Americans of today bear the responsibility for the actions of our government.  In a representative democracy the people are responsible for the actions of the government.  Now that WikiLeaks has published official reports documenting war crimes, other crimes, unethical behavior and deception of Americans and others, we now know what our government is doing and bear the responsibility to end it. 

It is not going to be easy to end a foreign policy that has been off track for many years, indeed many decades.  Dr. King accurately described abuses going back to the 1950s.  As a result the current wars, as Dr. King said of the Vietnam War are “a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”  These are deep issues requiring “a true revolution of values” which will “cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.”  While this seems like an insurmountable task, in fact there is no reason it cannot be achieved.  Indeed, our country has overcome slavery, segregation, women not being allowed to vote, children forced into labor and widespread unfair treatment of workers and farmers.  More work is needed in all of these areas but obvious progress is being made. 

The war economy can also be ended.  As Dr. King said: “There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.”  Since President Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex, military spending has doubled in real dollars. Under President Obama, the U.S. has produced record military budgets, record intelligence budgets and record arms sales. Now more than half of discretionary spending is for the military.  More and more people are seeing the war economy is not working for them and are organizing to cut war spending. 

President Obama, when he decided to run for office quoted Dr. King’s speech against the Vietnam War where King said “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”  What would true leadership look like in response to the WikiLeaks documents?  Rather than putting Bradley Manning in pre-trial solitary confinement, a leader would stand with Bradley Manning.  A leader would demand the Secretary of State to resign for directing American diplomats to spy. Real leadership would publish the leaked documents and say – ‘This is a country of, by and for the people. It is time for us to look in the mirror and see ourselves for what we are. The people now know what American foreign policy does. The people need to discuss and debate this policy. Should America act within the law or should it ignore the law?  Should we threaten and bribe other countries or work with countries to develop policies that make sense for the world?  It is time for a great debate.  It is time for real change.” 

Bradley Manning, a young man from Oklahoma, believed as many Americans do, that the U.S. is a force for good in the world.  It was not until he was in Iraq and when he saw documents and videos crossing his computer screen that he realized America does not play the role he had been told.  Dr. King quoted Langston Hughes in his speech: 

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be! 

Yes, “America will be” but only if we make it so.  Americans need to support a true American patriot, Bradley Manning, if he did what he is accused, has put his life on the line to show us the truth about American foreign policy and to make us a better nation.  Visit www.BradleyManing.org to join in his defense.  And, then read the WikiLeaks documents and engage in discussion and debate with your fellow Americans.  Join our efforts to change U.S. foreign policy 

To stand with Bradley visit: Stand With Brad

To prevent prosecution of WikiLeaks vist: WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org

To get involved with efforts to end war and reduce military spending visit www.VotersForPeace.US.

  1. The Hariri Assassination: All Eyes on Lebanon

     
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Wall Street Celebrates Record Profits

January 18th, 2011 by Tom Eley

JPMorgan Chase’s profit report for 2010, released Friday, has become the occasion for a celebration by the American plutocracy of the return of the good old days before the Wall Street crash of 2008. Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s CEO, summed up the general mood of the financial elite when he declared the bank’s record profits to be evidence of a “broad-based economic recovery,” adding, “I think the future is extremely bright.”

The very fact that Dimon can speak this way in the midst of the worst social crisis since the Great Depression without any repercussions from the government or the media is an expression of the immensity of the chasm separating the modern-day aristocrats from the people.

Such remarks—under conditions where the official unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent, hunger and poverty are soaring, record numbers of homes are being seized by the banks, household wealth is being devastated by the collapse in home values, wages are declining, and school closures and cuts in social services are spreading across the country—could come only from someone secure in knowledge that the Obama administration, both political parties, Congress and all of the other official institutions are securely in his pocket.

JPMorgan’s announcement kicked off a week of earnings reports that is expected to show that 2010 was a record-setting year for America’s banks and corporations.

The banking giant reported a 48 percent increase in profits over 2009 and a 47 percent increase for the fourth quarter of 2010 over the same period the previous year. JPMorgan netted a profit for the year of $17.4 billion, a figure equivalent to the gross domestic product of Bolivia. Its fourth quarter performance lifted the stocks of the other major banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, which are slated to release their 2010 results this week.

The New York Times reported, “Across the company, bankers expect to reap the benefits” of “the most profitable year in the history of JPMorgan.” Out of more than $102 billion in revenue, some $28.1 billion has been set aside to compensate employees, “much of which will be paid out as bonuses.” Employees in JPMorgan’s investment banking wing are taking home an average of nearly $370,000 for 2010, while top executives “can still expect to collect multi-million-dollar bonus checks.”

The profit windfall in the financial sector is part of a broader surge in US corporate profits, which analysts estimate rose 27.1 percent in the fourth quarter, nearly triple the median profit growth since 1988. This comes on the heels of record-setting year-over-year profit increases (37 percent, 51 percent and 92 percent) reported for the first three quarters of 2010.

For the broad mass of the population, there are records of a different sort. The official unemployment rate has been higher than 9 percent for 20 straight months, the longest such span since the Great Depression. Home prices have fallen by 26 percent since June of 2006, breaking the record 25.9 percent decline that took place in the Depression between 1928 and 1933. Household wealth has fallen precipitously and the official poverty rate is as high as it was in the mid-1960s.

From day one, the policy of the Obama administration has been to utilize the economic crisis to effect a vast restructuring of class relations in favor of the financial elite. While ruling out any serious measures to put the unemployed to work, Obama has overseen the funneling of trillions of dollars to the banks, intervened to block legislation limiting bonuses at banks bailed out with taxpayer funds, and given the signal for a campaign of wage cutting across the country by imposing a 50 percent wage reduction on newly hired auto workers as part of the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.

The administration has refused to provide significant aid to states and localities facing gaping budget deficits as a result of the recession, tacitly supporting cuts in jobs, wages and pensions for teachers and other public employees and crippling cuts in social services.

The Federal Reserve Board has kept interest rates at near-zero and electronically printed hundreds of billions of dollars in order to provide the corporations with virtually free credit and boost corporate profits and the stock market. Since March of 2009, US stock indexes have climbed by nearly 80 percent. Corporate America has amassed a multi-trillion-dollar cash hoard as a result of government subsidies and its own cost-cutting drive, while refusing—without encountering any opposition from the government—to use its mountain of cash to hire workers and expand basic production.

The policies of the government have enabled the major banks to tighten their stranglehold over the economy. According to data from the Federal Reserve, just five banks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs—now control $8.6 trillion in assets, or 13.3 percent of all financial firms’ holdings. The three largest commercial banks by themselves control 33 percent of all US deposits and over half of all home mortgage originations.

In his book Overhaul, Steven Rattner, the Wall Street insider selected by Obama to head his Auto Task Force, bluntly acknowledges the manipulation of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. “More than once, I would think of [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel saying, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste,’ as we used the growing economic catastrophe to achieve changes and sacrifices that would have been impossible in another environment,” he writes.

The attack on the working class is about to be intensified. Obama’s right-wing policies resulted in an electoral debacle for the Democratic Party in the November elections, with tens of millions of youth and working class voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2008 staying away from the polls. The response of the administration has been to shift further to the right and, in the name of bipartisanship, pursue its pro-corporate policy even more brazenly.

Hardly had the votes been counted when Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, layoffs and pay cuts for government workers, and new taxes on consumer goods and employee health insurance—coupled with a drastic cut in corporate taxes and income taxes for the rich.

Obama then shepherded through the Democratic-controlled 111th Congress a tax package that extended Bush-era income tax cuts for the richest Americans and drastically reduced the tax rate on the estates of multimillionaires. The White House has further signaled its readiness to carry through the corporate agenda by installing former Clinton administration commerce secretary and JPMorgan Chase executive William Daley as his new chief of staff.

The breakdown of the capitalist system is bringing to the surface ever more clearly the fundamental class divisions within society. Nowhere is the gulf between the ruling elite and the masses of working people more stark than in the US. There is barely a pretense of concern by the Obama administration, Congress, the corporate establishment or the media over the suffering of the unemployed and the destruction of future prospects for an entire generation of working class and many middle-class youth.

The Obama administration testifies to the bankruptcy of all claims that reforms can be extracted by putting pressure on the Democratic Party. As for the unions, throughout the crisis they have functioned more openly than ever as adjuncts of the corporations and government, redoubling their efforts to suppress the resistance of working people to the attacks on their living standards. The undisguised insolence and indifference of the financial aristocracy is itself a harbinger of the immense social struggles that are coming. The critical question is the development of the revolutionary leadership and perspective necessary to unite the working class and mobilize it for the overthrow of the profit system and establishment of socialism.

The Socialist Equality Party is holding a series of public conferences in April to discuss the fight for socialism today. We urge all those who see the need for this struggle to register for the conferences and make plans to attend.

Tunisia Forms Unity Government Dominated by Ruling Party

January 18th, 2011 by Chris Marsden

The National Unity Government announced by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi is a coming together of all factions of Tunisia’s ruling elite against the working class, students and small farmers.

The government has been hastily assembled by Ghannouchi, a key ally of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, under a supposed mandate given him by another Ben Ali loyalist, interim President Fouad Mebazaa, the former parliamentary speaker.

The government is dominated by the top leadership of Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RDC). The former defence, foreign, interior and finance ministers all keep their posts. Ghannouchi stays on as prime minister—a post he has held since 1999.

These are only the most prominent faces. A Guardian editorial noted: “Other familiar faces were still around, too. One of them stood to the left of the prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, as he announced he was taking over as temporary ruler (only to be overruled later by the constitutional court). He was Abdallah Kallel, a former interior minister wanted by a Swiss court on charges of torture and human rights violations. He is currently president of the chamber of councillors.”

Ghanouchi made a few reform pledges to distance his unity government from Ben Ali, promising that all political parties would be allowed to operate freely, political prisoners would be released, and media censorship would be ended with the abolition of Tunisia’s information ministry.

He is relying above all on the bourgeois opposition parties to paint the RDC-dominated executive in democratic hues.

Three prominent opposition figures were named as low-ranking ministers. Najib Chebbie, founder of the Progressive Democratic Party, was named development minister. Ahmed Ibrahim of the former Stalinist Ettajdid party is to become minister of higher education. Mustafa Ben Jaafar of the Union of Freedom and Labour was chosen as the new health minister.

Immediately after the announcement, Ahmed Bouazzi of the Progressive Democratic Party insisted to the BBC, “It’s not realistic to dissolve the ruling party… We can go forward with this government, and can even go again into the streets if it is not working.”

As a further demonstration of loyalty to the old order, the Maoist Workers Communist Party of Tunisia and the Islamist al-Nahdhar were both excluded from the new government.

Al-Nadhar’s leader, Sheik Rashid al-Ghannouchi, nevertheless commented, “If we were invited in the future to take part in the government, we would consider the offer.”

The shape of the government is an insult to all those who took to the streets to see Ben Ali deposed. Even as the haggling and horse-trading was taking place behind closed doors, protesters demanding an end to the RDC’s dictatorship were being attacked.

In Tunis, demonstrators gathered around the RDC headquarters to protest the formation of an interim government including RDC ministers. “With our blood and our soul we are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the martyrs,” they chanted. “Out with the RCD! Out with the party of the dictatorship!”

When they moved on the Interior Ministry building, riot police fired shots into the air and used water cannon and tear gas against the crowd. Rallies were also staged in Sidi Bouzid, central Tunisia, and the nearby town of Regueb.

The police and security forces are under the direct control of the RDC leadership. The military reportedly stood by while the attack in Tunis was mounted. The previous night, the police were involved in gun battles with the military, which had already sworn its loyalty to the new government.

Time magazine reported that the army was “attempting to root out thousands of well-armed militia loyal to the ousted dictator.” The magazine cited reports that “3,000 of the 6,200 of Ben Ali’s well-armed Presidential Guard [were] still not arrested.”

Tensions were high Sunday night, particularly after the arrest of the former head of the presidential security force, Ali Seriati. But on Monday, following the announcement of the new government, the military gave the security forces carte blanche to deal with opposition protests. This was in line with Ghannouchi’s declaration that for the new government, “Our priority is security.”

Al Ahram, a newspaper funded by the Egyptian government, commented that the inclusion of the opposition was a necessary rectification of a political error by Ben Ali. It wrote that Ali’s “biggest mistake” was “neutralising the opposition in Tunisia to the extent that when riots began… there was no head to talk to or with whom to make a deal to end the demonstrations.”

Ending the demonstrations is the task to which the Progressive Democratic Party, Ettajdid and the Union of Freedom and Labour have been assigned. The Tunisian ruling elite can count upon the support of all the imperialist powers, whose words of support for democratic protest are worthless.

The above-cited Guardian editorial noted of Tunisia’s former colonial rulers: “The prize for brazen hypocrisy goes to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who declared, through clenched teeth, that France stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tunisian people. Do, please, forget the speech his foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, made in the National Assembly, shortly after the authorities in Tunis announced the deaths of 21 civilians killed by police bullets. The one in which she offered Tunisia the help of the French riot police.”

The rest of the European Union and the US are just as culpable. A significant factor in catalyzing simmering anger against the Ben Ali regime was the exposure by WikiLeaks of US cables supporting the rule of the “First Family” despite acknowledgments of the extent of its corruption.

Faced with the fall of Washington’s former ally, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday urged the new government to quickly re-establish order and praised its “willingness to work with Tunisians across the political spectrum.” The US would “stand with Tunisia,” she pledged.

There is little chance that the democratic platitudes of Ghannouchi and Mebazaa will placate anyone and even less that the dominant position of the RDC will go unopposed.

The Independent cited Habib Jerjir of the Regional Workers’ Union of Tunis, who indicated how the new government will be viewed on the street. “It [the RCD] left by the back door and is coming back through the window,” he said. “We can’t have militias in the streets and in the government.”

Tunisia remains as politically unstable and socially polarized as before. The same is true of the rest of the Maghreb and the broader Middle East.

The potential fallout from the Tunisian events continues to exercise the Arab regimes, which preside over countries where poverty and unemployment are equally endemic. A man set himself on fire outside the Egyptian parliament building in Cairo on Monday, in an echo of the action by 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi that became the focus of popular anger in Tunisia. There have been at last four such incidents in Algeria and one in Mauritania.

The central issue posed before workers and youth is the need to adopt the revolutionary strategy of permanent revolution, first elaborated by Leon Trotsky. The bourgeois regimes in Africa, the Middle East and throughout the so-called “developing” world are inextricably tied to the major imperialist powers. They function as both direct exploiters and local gendarme for the major global corporations and investors, whose predatory demands mean the impoverishment of the workers and poor peasants. There can be no “democratic renewal” under any faction of the national bourgeoisie.

Only an independent political struggle by the working class for socialism, rallying all of the oppressed sections of society, offers a way forward.

With their constant invocation of the danger of revolutionary “contagion,” the ruling elites themselves acknowledge that the popular movement in Tunisia is part of the broader struggle of the working class in the Middle East and around the world. The working class cannot confine itself to a national perspective. The struggle in Tunisia must be consciously linked to the struggles of workers and oppressed people in the advanced capitalist countries as well as the former colonial countries. The critical question in forging an international revolutionary movement against globally organised capital is the construction of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

The Defense Department’s general counsel said that he believed Martin Luther King, Jr., might have supported the current wars:

I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation’s military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack.

That is easily disproven.

As King said in 1967:

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government… We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.

King also proclaimed in 1967:

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

King lamented that the United States had become the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, said the world “is sick with war”, and said that “war is not the answer.” King said:

I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating method of physical violence.

And he warned that the deep malady of the American spirit is our perverse devotion to what he called the “giant triplets” of “racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.”

Indeed, if one understands King’s core philosophies, the Pentagon’s statement becomes even sillier.

Initially, as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges points out:

Anger at injustice, as Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love.

In other words, King believed that his Christian faith required him to fight injustice. That is why King said that we have to fight against “systems of exploitation and oppression.”

Moreover, King was an adherent of two philosophical concepts which Gandhi also followed:

1. “Ahimsa” – non-violence towards all

and

2. “Satyagraha” – truth is the only weapon needed

Adherents of the philosophy of ahimsa don’t believe that some wars are jusitifed … they believe that we shouldn’t harm any person or even any critter if we can help it (the most extreme followers of ahimsa are the Jain sect of India. They are so extreme that they sweep the path ahead of them when they walk so that they will not accidentally squish any bugs. Neither Gandhi or King were Jainists, however, this extreme example helps to explain the basic idea.)

Indeed, the following statements by King only make sense when one understands King’s ahimsa philosophy:

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.”

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

In addition, adherents of the philosophy of satyagraha believe that truth is the most powerful force in the universe. That is why both Gandhi and King believed that non-violent resistance is the most effective form of dissent: they believed that the “force of truth” would eventually win out over the “force of violence”.

King Was Against Economic Injustice

Additionally, King fought against economic injustice as well. For example, he said:

I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic inequalities of an economic system which takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.

As Roger Bybee writes today:

As Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen noted,

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights” — includingeconomic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.”

Thus, at the time of his death on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was deeply immersed in the struggle of 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis who had organized themselves into an AFSCME local.. At the same time, he was also building a coalition for a “Poor People’s Campaign” that would assemble in Washington, D.C., to demand “economic rights” for people of all colors. It was aimed at building a mighty coalition that would span autoworkers in Detroit, discarded coalminers in Appalachia, Latino farmworkers, and oppressed blacks in both the South and North.

In his new book All Work Has Dignity, Honey pulls together 11 of King’s speeches on labor and explains the lasting significance of King’s emphasis on the need for “economic rights” for all.

People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. As we struggle with massive unemployment, a staggering racial wealth gap and near collapse of our financial system, King’s prophetic writings and speeches underscore his relevance for today.

And so – if King were alive today – it is certain that he would be demanding an end to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, and an end up to the mugging of the middle and lower classes by the wealthy.

Of course, to the extent that the war in the Middle East is largely a crusade against brown-skinned Muslims, King would also have opposed it as being based on racism and religious intolerance.

Big Brother Obama: White House Plans Internet ID System

January 18th, 2011 by Tom Burghardt

by Antifascist Calling…

Urged by one and all to “tone down” what media pundits and political elites describe as “strident,” even “violent” rhetoric that has “poisoned” our “national conversation” and “sharply polarized” the population, the shooting rampage in Tucson which claimed six lives, including that of a nine-year-old girl is, in fact, emblematic of the moral bankruptcy and utter hypocrisy of those selfsame capitalist elites.

Faced with an unprecedented economic crisis that has destroyed the lives of tens of millions our fellow citizens, not to mention aggressive wars which have cratered entire societies and murdered hundreds of thousands of people who have done us no harm, when, pray tell, will the “conversation” turn to the unprecedented annihilation of democratic institutions and the rule of law which exonerates, even celebrates, those who murder, maim and torture on an industrial scale?

Just last week, the Obama administration announced plans to roll-out an “identity ecosystem” for the internet. Although passed over in silence by major media, at the risk of being accused of “incivility,” particularly when it comes to the “hope” fraudster and war criminal in the Oval Office, Americans need to focus–sharply–on the militarists, political bag men and corporate gangsters working to bring George Orwell’s dystopian world one step closer to reality.

Earlier this month, CNET disclosed that the administration “is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans.”

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said that the secret state’s latest move to lower the boom on privacy and free speech will embed the surveillance op at the Commerce Department. Schmidt, speaking at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research said Commerce is “the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government” to centralize these efforts.

According to CNET, the move “effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.”

Really? I don’t think so.

NSA Clearly in the Frame

Last week, Government Computer News reported that the secretive Pentagon spy shop broke ground on a “massive new National Security Agency cyber intelligence center in Utah.”

The multibillion dollar facility (cost overruns not included) “will have 100,000 square feet of raised-floor data center space and more than 900,000 square feet of technical support and administrative space” that “will support the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.”

In September, NextGov reported that then Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection, Glenn Gaffney, said the new data center “would support the intelligence community in providing foreign intelligence about cybersecurity threats and protect Defense Department networks.”

Back in 2009, investigative journalist James Bamford wrote in The New York Review of Books that “the mammoth $2 billion structure will be one-third larger than the US Capitol and will use the same amount of energy as every house in Salt Lake City combined.”

While corporate media tell us that the center will “enhance” the nation’s capacity to thwart “cyber threats” the fact is, Bamford wrote, the complex will “house trillions of phone calls, e-mail messages, and data trails: Web searches, parking receipts, bookstore visits, and other digital ‘pocket litter’.” In other words, the vast data repository will serve as “spy central” for our digital minders.

“Just how much information will be stored in these windowless cybertemples?” Bamford wondered. According to a report prepared for the Pentagon by the ultra-spooky MITRE Corporation, “as the sensors associated with the various surveillance missions improve, the data volumes are increasing with a projection that sensor data volume could potentially increase to the level of Yottabytes (10 to the 24 Bytes) by 2015.”

This is “roughly equal to about a septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text, numbers beyond Yottabytes haven’t yet been named,” Bamford avers.

Leaving aside disinformational pyrotechnics by media cheerleaders that the NSA’s data equivalent of a Wal-Mart supercenter will primarily exist for “cybersecurity,” “foreign intelligence” and protecting “Defense Department networks,” Bamford counters that “once vacuumed up and and stored in these near-infinite ‘libraries,’ the data are then analyzed by powerful infoweapons, supercomputers running complex algorithmic programs, to determine who among us may be–or may one day become–a terrorist.”

“In the NSA’s world of automated surveillance on steroids” Bamford avers, “every bit has a history and every keystroke tells a story.”

Or as Cryptohippie puts it far less delicately, every keystroke or cellphone ping is “criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial.”

Just what are they up to? Even Congress, always willing to give the Executive Branch a free pass when it comes to blanket surveillance, doesn’t know. Last week the Associated Press reported that “the Pentagon failed to disclose clandestine cyber activities in a classified report on secret military actions that goes to Congress.”

Citing “gaps” in reporting requirements on clandestine operations, “emerging high-tech operations are not specifically listed in the law,” AP averred. After all, “cyber oversight is still a murky work in progress for the Obama administration.”

Perhaps AP and other media outlets should look more closely at what’s hidden inside that “murky work” and where its authority comes from. “Oversight” is certainly not part of the equation.

Cybersecurity’s Brave New World

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, the operational nuts-and-bolts of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) is a closely-held state secret that derives authority from classified annexes of the National Security Presidential Directive 54, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54/HSPD 23) issued by our former “decider.”

Those 2008 orders are so contentious that both the Bush and Obama administrations have refused to release details to Congress, prompting a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) demanding the full text of the underlying legal authority governing “cybersecurity” be made public.

Details on the “trusted identity” scheme are scarce, but back in July Antifascist Calling reported that the secret state had deployed New York Times reporter John Markoff as a conduit for administration scaremongering.

Schmidt told the “Gray Lady” that administration plans involved “a ‘voluntary trusted identity’ system that would be the high-tech equivalent of a physical key, a fingerprint and a photo ID card, all rolled into one.”

According to the Times, “the system might use a smart identity card, or a digital credential linked to a specific computer, and would authenticate users at a range of online services.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was quick to downplay the more sinister implications of the hustle saying, “We are not talking about a national ID card.”

CNET reported Locke’s claim that “we are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

Why bother with privacy when surrendering your rights is so convenient!

Touted as a warm and fuzzy “identity ecosystem,” Government Computer News reported that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has even launched a dedicated website hawking the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).

According to NIST, “NSTIC envisions a cyber world–the Identity Ecosystem–that improves upon the passwords currently used to login online.”

We’re informed that the “Identity Ecosystem will provide people with a variety of more secure and privacy-enhancing ways to access online services. The Identity Ecosystem enables people to validate their identities securely when they’re doing sensitive transactions (like banking) and lets them stay anonymous when they’re not (like blogging). The Identity Ecosystem will enhance individuals’ privacy by minimizing the information they must disclose to authenticate themselves.”

Government Computer News tells us that the “identity ecosystem” isn’t envisaged as a “national Internet ID to track online activities.” The devil’s in the details and what little we do know should set alarm bells ringing.

The program office will “support and coordinate interagency collaboration” and “promote pilot projects and other implementations.” Which agencies are we talking about here? What pilot projects and “other implementations” are being alluding to? We don’t know.

We do know however, that the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have forged a Memorandum of Agreement which will increase Pentagon control over America’s telecommunications and electronic infrastructure

In fact, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation disclosed in October, DHS has been tracking people online and that the agency even established a “Social Networking Monitoring Center” to explicitly do so.

Documents obtained by the civil liberties watchdog group revealed that the agency has been vacuuming-up “items of interest,” systematically monitoring “citizenship petitioners” and analyzing “online public communication.”

Wouldn’t an “identity ecosystem” greatly facilitate online spying, despite administration claims to the contrary?

While the system is “voluntary” and individuals will not be compelled to sign up, the secret state is lusting after a sure fire means to identify the billions of computers, smart phones and other digital devices that plague us.

And even if you choose not to “opt in,” well, plans are already afoot by advertising pimps and their partners in the national security state “to collect the digital equivalent of fingerprints from every computer, cellphone and TV set-top box in the world,” The Wall Street Journal recently disclosed.

As with all other aspects of the “War on Terror” threatscape, the closer one looks at the Obama regime’s “identity ecosystem” the less warm and fuzzy it becomes.

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,, 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.

Why Tunisia Changed the World

January 18th, 2011 by Shamus Cooke

Tunisia woke up the Middle East with a thundering yawn. After years of domination by western-backed tyrants, the working people of the Arab world are rising from slumber. Once fully awake and aware of their surroundings, they’ll shake off the influence of the western nations with a collective flick of the wrist. 

The elites of the Middle East and their western benefactors are petrified. The revolution in Tunisia deposed of two Presidents in 48 hours, and the vast energy of the people has already spilled over its borders, immediately affecting the politics of Algeria, Jordan, and Egypt. The Guardian reports:

“Tunisia’s “jasmine revolution” sent new shock waves across north Africa today, with a copycat suicide protest reported in Algeria and official dismay in Libya…Egypt, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco are seen as the other countries most likely to face serious popular unrest over unemployment, corruption and hopelessness, though social, political and economic conditions vary considerably between them.” (January 16, 2011).

The political implications are enormous. The Middle East and North African states are viewed as the most strategic colonies in the world, thanks to their enormous energy reserves that has spawned two recent major U.S. invasions. 

Since World War I the United States, England, and France have worked together to subdue this region, financing an endless string of brutal dictatorships to ensure a seamless flow of billions to western corporations. 

Obama had nothing negative to say about Tunisia’s recently deposed dictator until he was fleeing the country. The U.S. was happy with the status-quo of brutality, much like Obama remains uncritical of the U.S.-backed dictators of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, etc. 

But when the Tunisian status quo became upset, so did Obama. Suddenly, Obama disowns his dictator friend and tells the Tunisians that he applauds their “courage and dignity.”  Hypocrisy run amok. 

The damage control has already begun, as the U.S. and France are furiously working behind the scenes to prevent any significant progressive change.  They are attempting to cobble together a “national unity” government in Tunisia: the same rotten politicians with a few opposition candidates sprinkled in, pursuing the same foul agenda.

But the situation is not so easily controlled in Tunisia and beyond. The New York Times recently commented on the extremely fragile situation in the Middle East, predicting doom for western-backed Arab nations:

“…Arab states looked exhausted, ossified and ideologically bankrupt, surviving merely to perpetuate themselves. Never has the divide between ruler and ruled seemed so yawning, and perhaps never has it been so dangerous.”

The article also exposed the role of the U.S. in the region: 

“The United States is also blamed here…by failing to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, rejecting engagement with Islamist movements and helping prop up governments like Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s that seem incapable of reforming themselves. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton scolded some of those allies last week for that lack of reform, though forgoing mention that some of the most dictatorial are some of America’s closest allies.” (January 16, 2011).

To summarize: the western-backed Arab states must reform themselves to survive, but the U.S. does not want any reform.  This is because any real reform movement would demand that the dozens of U.S. military bases in the region be shut down, while U.S. economic policies be reversed, so that social needs could trump corporate profits from oil, wars, and U.S.-dominated markets. 

An op-ed piece in Al-Jazeera was more blunt, entitled: To the Tyrants of the Arab World:

“The Tunisian uprising…has brought down the walls of fear, erected by repression and marginalization, thus restoring the Arab peoples’ faith in their ability to demand social justice and end tyranny… It is a warning to all leaders, whether supported by international or regional powers, that they are no longer immune to popular outcries of fury.” (January 16, 2011).

A different reason why the Arab world is especially open to revolution now is the world economy. The two main demands of the Tunisian people revolve around unemployment and food prices, which are both spiraling out of control throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  

Prices are rising in part due to corporate speculation: food and raw materials like oil are the safe bets of the world economy, where rich investors flock in times of economic uncertainty.  Their greed makes matters worse, increasing the odds of revolution worldwide.

But predicting the next uprising isn’t so easy. Revolution is a cocktail that no scientist can formulate; it’s an aggregate of innumerable sufferings, stirred together in a giant cauldron that has no precise boiling temperature. But boil it does. Especially when unemployment and food prices push up the heat worldwide. 

The awakening of the Arab revolution should be fully supported by the working people in America, who have no interest in spending their tax dollars to fight wars and build military bases on the other side of the globe. 

While Arab workers are struggling to push out the U.S.-backed tyrants in the region, U.S. workers must be demanding that tax dollars be diverted from war funding to social spending, since food and energy prices, along with unemployment, are too high in the U.S. as well.   

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

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/16/tunisia-protests-suicide-algeria-arab
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/weekinreview/16shadid.html?_r=1
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/2011115135046129936.html

Failure of the Globalization Model: The Arab Spring of Democracy

January 17th, 2011 by Abdul Ilah Albayaty

The Tunisian phenomenon is not about the ousting of a president; it is about the collapse of the Western-colonial model of globalisation, write Abdul Ilah Albayaty, Hana Al Bayaty and Ian Douglas

The Tunisian uprising is nothing but the natural result of the failure of the globalisation model and the impasse affecting the entire world. Indeed, as soon as an economy opens up to foreign capital and one gives the local economy and services over to market forces, the state’s role is automatically undermined and remains only to protect the model itself. By consequence, whether in Tunisia or elsewhere in the developing world, it resulted in a contradiction between the people’s interests and the class created to protect foreign capital.

In the Arab countries, the model of globalisation consisted of abandoning the Arab-Muslim character of the state, responsible for providing wellbeing to its society. It entailed the cancellation of the notion of the national state that emerged following World War II and the independence movement, and whose legitimacy is based on the notion of progress and of the wellbeing of its citizens. It also entailed the cancellation of the socialist aspirations of the people based on their desire for a welfare state and the provision of public services.

The model of globalisation implemented in the Third World, at times by force, like in Iraq, or by economic pressure, like in Egypt or Indonesia, or by its adoption in rich countries, like the oil producing states, led everywhere to the emergence of a comprador class, submitting to or wilfully participating in the integration of national economies into the global economy, leading to a state whose sole role is policing and protecting comprador regimes and the status quo for the sole interests of foreign and local capitalism. In parallel, everywhere, including in developed economies, this model serves to enrich the rich, impoverish the middle class and marginalise and alienate the poor.

In Tunisia itself, the illusion that this model seemed to be working very well was based on the authoritarian character of the regimes ruling the country since its independence. However, the result, like elsewhere, was an impoverished and marginalised people, both economically and politically, and a governing police state class getting richer, careless of the wellbeing of the local population and severely repressing any dissent in the name of market forces. But in our modern era, society is not an organisation that one can indefinitely repress nor an ideology that one can ban, but rather a living creature. No one can control it but itself.

If in the past the educated classes had the choice to migrate to other countries and participate in their development, the global economic crisis and the stagnation of Western economies and their allies have limited this possibility. The result of this situation is an army of educated and technically skilled unemployed youth in developing countries. Normally, they are the builders of the national economy, the guardians of the wellbeing of their communities, and aspire to their own fulfilment. The current political and economic situation in all Arab countries pushes this youth, which thinks profoundly that it has the right to live like anyone in a similar situation in the world, to revolt and at times despair.

After 1973, building on their victory, Arab governments thought they could open up to the West and that this process would bring peace and prosperity. Sadat’s economic liberalisation and the welcoming of US and Western corporations for investment signalled the end of the welfare state in the Arab world. Since then, the dream of self-development was abandoned and replaced by opening all Arab countries’ markets to foreign interests, although to varying degrees. This policy of liberalisation became a condition for receiving American blessings, first with Reaganism and Thatcherism, followed by world trade negotiations, and World Bank structural adjustment policies.

As Iraq refused, to some extent, to be integrated into this global neoliberal economy, it was obliged by conquest and force, and through the Bremer Laws, to privatise its oil industry and hand Iraq’s future over to foreign corporations. In order to open Iraq’s economy and free it of any obstacle to outside forces, whether economic, political, cultural or military, the occupation resorted to the physical destruction of Iraq’s capacity of self-development, both of its infrastructure and human resources. As proven by the Iraqi experience, foreign capital does not aim at real development of the economy but rather to destroy all existing capacities for self-determined development processes. Under the phase of imperialism’s finance capitalism led by the United States, the Third World is the last to profit from world progress and the first to pay for capitalist crises. Even Dubai’s financial institutions, which were portrayed as an example of what these policies could achieve, faced with the financial crisis were threatened with bankruptcy if other Emiratis didn’t come to their rescue.

All the illusions of progress that animated older generations since 1973 — like socialism, Arab unity and renaissance, Pax Americana in Palestine and integration of Western models, or Islam as the solution — have now proven unfruitful and unachievable, in spite of the determined struggle of Arab political currents for these ideals. The socialist model collapsed and was put on the shelf; Arab unity is no more on the agenda of governments; Islam as the solution brought only division and sectarianism, as in Iraq; the Pax Americana in Palestine did not stop Israel, while the integration and opening of local markets to the capitalist economy didn’t bring investment or solutions for the unemployed and the poor. It didn’t make the people, as they have the legitimate right to, participate freely in the public affairs of their country, nor benefit from the richness of their land and national economy.

Although the Arab youth might not be opposed to the grand dreams of older generations, still defended by various local political currents, and although these currents continue to have their influence, the Arab youth wants immediate change. The new generation is disillusioned. In Tunisia, it took its destiny in its hands and wants change now, and real change. As an Arab country, and living in a state in permanent exchange with its Mediterranean environment, the people of Tunisia realised that the model of globalisation is simple usurpation. No promise of wellbeing and development, liberty or democracy was fulfilled, and the system can be resumed to a generalised oppression, corruption and theft: a comprador governing class, a police state, and submission of the country to imperialist policies and interests.

The collapse of Ben Ali and his government is not only the collapse of an authoritarian regime, but rather of the globalisation model of finance capitalism and imperialism for Third World countries. The situation in other Arab countries, including oil-producing states, does not differ in last analysis. Maybe the situation is influenced by local economic, geographic and demographic composition of this or that country, but all know that integration into neoliberal globalisation did not and will not result in progress and development, but rather the enriching of some and the impoverishment of the majority, and the abandoning of the national interest to the interest of global capitalism.

We are certain that all Arab regimes, which share the same situation although with different ingredients, are now shaking because the same situation will produce the same results. We are also certain that all Arab regimes, all imperialists, all revolutionaries are now studying the causes of the success of the Tunisian experience. They all ask themselves, why did the Tunisians succeed in evicting their government while other similar uprisings failed? It is our point of view that everywhere in the Arab world there is the same situation and the same desire to change and to get rid of this model; the only difference is that the Tunisian revolt was spontaneous and non-ideological. It was not a conflict between one political organisation and another, but rather inspired by the consciousness and spontaneity of its youth realising that the conflict is between a dominant class against the people and the people against this dominant class. It is a revolt for dignity, freedom, democracy and wellbeing against a failed model of development. By experience other countries will arrive to the same situation.

Indeed, the success of the Tunisian phenomenon lies in its unity. Similar revolts, like the uprising for electricity in Iraq in the summer of 2010, did not succeed because of ideological divisions at the political level, mostly encouraged by foreign powers to divert Arabs from their real common interests. Everywhere, the Arab youth aspires to a life in dignity, freedom, democracy and development. The ideological conflicts, like in Iraq, mask the real interests of the people. These ideological and confessional conflicts are used by the governing classes to justify their policies and to hide their real practices. But sooner or later, the reality of the conflicts between the impoverished masses and the enriched governing classes will prevail.

While all Arab governments are shaking, and think tanks are giving advice to their governments on how to suffocate similar movements in their own societies, the Arab people has already declared that the Tunisian revolt represents hope, and saluted it as an example for them. Considering the shared model and influence European countries exercise on one another, it is no wonder that there were successive uprisings throughout Europe in 1848, or in 1968. Likewise, what can one expect in the Arab world when all think they belong to the same nation and live in the same conditions? How can Tunisia not influence other Arab countries, while all these countries belong to one Arab nation, which was originally divided by colonial forces into separated states?

We know that the West tells the Arabs that they are separated and independent countries when this suits its policies best, but it treats the Arabs as a bloc when this accommodates its own interests. Maybe the adverse forces of the Tunisian people, so as to save their interests, will try to contain the movement by changing faces, but the situation will continue to be explosive until there is a reconciliation between the interest of the people and the state in which they live. This is called democracy and independence, where the people and the state are masters of their present and future.

Is this a new era of renewal for the Arab world? Will this uprising succeed in bringing real change? Will, at last, Arabs exercise real democracy and sovereignty? Will other regimes, which share the same reality, foresee their fate and opt to change their structure peacefully, or will they unite to strangle the Tunisian phenomenon and deviate it from its goals? The future will tell us, but changing persons will not change the roots of the revolt. The Arab renewal may have begun in Tunisia.

Abdul Ilah Albayaty is an Iraqi political analyst. Hana Al Bayaty is an author and political activist. Ian Douglas is a lecturer in politics. All are members of the BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee.

The Rafik Hariri Assassination: Was Israel Involved?

January 17th, 2011 by Thierry Meyssan

first published by Voltaire.net in December 2010

Translated from French

While western media have announced that indictments against Hezbollah will be issued shortly by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Russian magazine Odnako challenges the entire UN investigation. Thierry Meyssan posits that the weapon used to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafik Hairiri was supplied by Germany. Former German prosecutor and first commissioner in charge of the UN probe, Detlev Mehlis, seemingly doctored evidence to cover up his country’s involvement. These revelations embarrass the Tribunal and reverse the tide in Lebanon.

All the conflicts rocking the Middle East today crystallize around the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). Peace hinges on it, and so does war. For some, the STL should bring about the dissolution of the Hezbollah, quell the Resistance and establish a Pax Americana. Others consider that the STL is flouting the law and subverting the truth to ensure the takeover of a new colonial order in the region.

The Tribunal was created on 30 May 2007, pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1757, to prosecute the alleged sponsors of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination. In the political context at that time, this implied nothing more and nothing less than bringing to trial serving Presidents Bashar el-Assad of Syria and Emile Lahoud of Lebanon, not exactly favourites of the neo-conservatives. However, the charges were not pursued since they were based on flimsy evidence planted by false witnesses. With no accused left, the Tribunal could easily have disappeared in the meanders of bureaucracy were it not for a turn of events that catapulted it back into the epicenter of the turbulent Middle East political scene.

On 23 May 2009, Atlanticist journalist Erick Follath disclosed on Der Spiegel Online that the prosecutor was poised to indict new suspects: certain Hezbollah military leaders. For the past 18 months, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general, has been proclaiming his party’s innocence. He maintains that the real aim of the proceedings is to decapitate the Resistance and clear the region for the Israeli army. For its part, the U.S. administration in a sudden surge of righteousness pledged that no one would be allowed to shun international Justice.

In any event, the indictment – which all believe to be imminent – against Shia leaders for the assassination of a Sunni leader is of such a nature as to spark off a fitna, namely a Muslim civil war, plummeting the region into new depths of bloodshed and violence.

During his 15 and 16 November official visit to Moscow, Saad Hariri – current Lebanese Prime Minister and son of the deceased – reiterated that the political exploitation of the Tribunal exposes his country to the risk of a new conflagration. President Medvedev retorted that Russia wants Justice to be served and reproves any attempt to discredit, weaken or delay the Tribunal’s proceedings. This position of principle arises from the confidence that the Kremlin decided to place in the STL. But it risks being severely eroded by Odnako’s revelations.

Indeed, we deemed it desirable to delve into the circumstances of Rafik Hariri’s assassination. The data we unearthed has opened a new avenue, making one wonder why it had never been explored until now. In the course of our lengthy investigation, we encountered a great number of actors, too many no doubt, so that the news of our work spread quickly, alarming those for whom the assassination trail implicating the armed Lebanese Resistance represents a real godsent. Aiming to intimidate us, the Jerusalem Post on 18 October launched a preventive attack through a piece referring to our work. In a purely libelous vein, it accuses the author of this article of having received 1 million dollars from Iran to exonerate Hezbollah.

Getting down to facts, Rafik Hariri’s convoy was attacked in Beirut on 14 February 2005. Twenty-three people were killed and one hundred injured. A preliminary report commissioned by the Security Council calls attention to the unprofessional conduct of the Lebanese magistrates and police. To redress the situation, the SC assigned its own investigators, providing them with the important means that Lebanon was unable to offer. From the outset of the investigation, it was generally accepted that the attack had been perpetrated by a suicide bomber driving a van packed with explosives.

Having been established to compensate for the Lebanese lack of professionalism, one would have expected the United Nations mission to scrupulously observe the classical criminal procedures. Not so! The crime scene – on the basis of the topography still intact as well as the photos and video footage shot on that day – was not examined in detail. The victims were not exhumed and no autopsies were performed. For a long time, no attempt was made to ascertain the modus operandi. After discarding the hypothesis of a bomb buried in the ground, the investigators espoused the one involving the van withough bothering to verify it.

And yet, this version is implausible: looking at the crime scene, anyone can easily observe the very large and deep crater that a surface explosion could not have dug out. Faced with the adamancy of the Swiss experts who refused to endorse the official version, on 19 October the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) recreated the crime scene behind closed doors. It didn’t take place in Lebanon, nor in the Netherlands which is the seat of the STL, but in France, one of the countries funding the Tribunal. The buildings surrounding the crime scene were reconstructed and earth was brought in from Beirut. The convoy was reconstituted, including the armoured vehicle. The aim was to demonstrate that the height of the concrete buildings had confined the explosion, making it possible for the blast to produce the crater. The results of this costly experiment have never been divulged.

When looking at the photos and videos taken immediately after the attack, the first most striking feature is the blaze. Car parts and various types of objects are burning all around. Then, the bodies of the victims: they are charred on one side and intact on the other. An astonishing phenomenon which bears no resemblance to what is normally caused by conventional explosives. The theory that the van was transporting a mix of RDX, PETN and TNT does not account for the damages occurred.

What is more, from the photos showing Rafik Hariri’s corpse one can observe that his solid gold wristwatch has melted, whereas the collar of his luxury shirt still hugs his neck in pristine condition.

So, what really happened?

The explosion generated a blast of an exceptionally intense heat and exceptionally brief duration. Thus, the flesh exposed to the blast was instantly carbonized, while the body underneath was not burnt.

High-density objects (such as the gold watch) absorbed the heat and were destroyed. Conversely, low-density objects (like the delicate fabric of Hariri’s shirtcollar) didn’t have enough time to absorb the heat and were unaffected.

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Rafik Hariri’s remains.

Moreover, the videos show that a number of limbs were severed by the explosion. Oddly, the cuts are clean, as if made on clay statues. There is no sign of shattered or jutting bones, nor of any torn flesh. The reason is that the explosion sucked up all the oxygen and dehydrated the bodies, rendering them friable. In the hours that followed, several on-the-spot witnesses complained of breathing ailments. Wrongfully, the authorities interpreted them as a psychosomatic reaction following their psychological trauma.

Such observations constitute the abc of any criminal inquiry. They should have been the starting point, yet they do not figure in any of the reports submitted by the “professional experts” to the Security Council.

When we asked a number of military experts what kind of explosives would be capable of generating such damage, they mentioned a new type of weapon which has been developed over several decades and is featured in reports appearing in scientific journals. The combination of nuclear and nonotechnology science can trigger an explosion the exact strength of which can be regulated and controlled. The weapon is set up to destroy everything within a given perimeter, down to the nearest centimeter.

Always according to the same military specialists, this weapon can also produce other types of effects: it exerts a very strong pressure on the area of the explosion. The minute it stops, the heaviest objects are propelled upwards. Accordingly, cars were sent flying through the air.

There is one unequivocal fact: this weapon is equipped with a nano-quantity of enriched uranium, emanating radiations which are quantifiable. Now, it just so happens that one of the passengers in Rafik Hariri’s armoured car survived the explosion. Former Minister Bassel Fleyhan was taken to a topnotch French military hospital for treatment. The doctors were astounded to discover that he had been in contact with enriched uranium. But no one linked this to the attack.

Technically speaking, the weapon is shaped like a small missile, a few tens of centimeters long. It must be fired from a drone. Actually, several witnesses assured they had heard an aircraft flying over the scene of the crime. The investigators asked the United States and Israel, whose surveillance satellites are permanently switched on, to provide them with the pertinent images. On the day of the attack, the United States had deployed AWACS aircraft over Lebanon. The live feeds could help to establish the presence of a drone and even to determine its flight path. But Washington and Tel Aviv – which indefatigably urge all parties to cooperate with the STL – turned down the request.

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Hezbollah intercepted and released videos from Israeli drones surveying Rafik Hariri’s movements and the scene of the crime.

At a press conference held on 10 August 2010, Hassan Nasrallah showed a video which, according to him, was shot by Israeli military drones and intercepted by his organisation. All of Rafik Hariri’s movements had been registered for months, until the final day when all the surveillance converged on the bend in the road where the attack was staged. Thus, Tel-Aviv had been surveying the area prior to the assassination. Which is not to say, as Mr Nasrallah himself points out, that they were the authors of the crime.

So, who fired the missile?

This is where things get complicated. According to the military experts, in 2005, Germany was the only country which had a handle on this new technology. It is, therefore, Berlin which supplied and set up the crime weapon.

Hence, it is easy to understand why former Berlin Attorney General Detlev Mehlis – a very controversial figure within his own profession – was eager to preside the UN Investigation Commission. He is, in fact, notoriously linked to the German and U.S. secret services. Assigned in 1986 to shed light on the attack against the La Belle disco in Berlin, he diligently covered up all Israeli and U.S. fingerprints to falsely accuse Libya and justify the bombing of Mouammar Khadafi’s palace by the U.S. Air Force. In the early 2000s, Mr Mehlis was lavishly paid for his stint as researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (think-tank linked to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby) and at the Rand Corporation (think-tank attached to the U.S. military industrial complex). All elements which cast a shadow over his impartiality in the Rafik Hariri affair and should have sufficed to have him taken off the case.

Mehlis was seconded by Commissioner Gerhard Lehmann, who is also a well-known German and U.S. secret services agent. He was formally identified by a witness as having taken part in the programme run by the Bush Administration in Europe, involving the abduction, detention and torture of prisoners in “black holes”. His name is mentioned in the ad hoc Report by the Council of Europe. Notwithstanding, he managed to dodge all judicial proceedings on the strength of a strong though unlikely alibi provided by his colleagues in the German police.

Mehlis and Lehmann propagated the theory of the explosives-laden suicide van to deflect the investigation from the German weapon that was used to commit the crime.

Various earth samples were taken from the scene of the crime. They were first mixed, then divided into three jars that were sent to three different laboratories. In the first two no trace of explosives was found. The third jar was kept by Mehlis and Lehmann, who personally sent it to the third laboratory. Here, remnants of explosives were detected. In principle, if the decision is made to resort to three judiciary experts, in case of disagreement it is the majority opinion that prevails. No way! Mehlis and Lehmann violated the protocols. They deemed that theirs was the only reliable sample and embarked the Security Council on a false trail.

The profoundly flawed character of the Mehlis-Lehmann investigations has amply been proven. Their successors acknowledged as much sotto voce and declared entire sections of proceedings nul and void.

Amidst their manipulations, the most famous one relates to the false witnesses. Five individuals purported to have seen the preparations for the attack and incriminated Presidents Bashar el-Assad and Emile Lahoud. While these allegations were fueling the drums of war, their lawyers exposed the lies and the prosecution backed down.

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Detlev Mehlis, President of the UN Investigation Commission violated all the rules of the criminal procedure, fabricated evidence and used false witnesses to exonerate Germany and accuse Syria.

Based on these false testimonies, Detlev Mehlis arrested – in the name of the international community – four Lebanese generals and had them incarcerated for four years. Pushing his way with his cow-boys into private homes, without a warrant from the Lebanese authorities, he also detained for questioning members of their entourage. With his assistants – who spoke Hebrew to each other – he manipulated the families. Thus, on behalf of the international community, he showed the wife of one of the generals a doctored picture to prove that her husband had not only obscured his implication in the murder, but was also two-timing her.

Concurrently, he tried the same maneuver on the son of the “suspect”’, but in this case to convince him that his mother was a woman of loose morals, a situation which had plunged his desperate father into a murderous folly. The aim was to induce a family crime of honour, thereby tarnishing the image of respected and respectable people.

Even more incredible is Lehmann’s proposition to libertate one of the four imprisoned generals in exchange for his false testimony against a Syrian leader.

Moreover, German journalist Jürgen Cain Külbel highlighted a disturbing detail: it would have been impossible to trigger the explosion by remote control or by marking the target without first disactivating the powerful interference system built into Rafik Hariri’s convoy. A system among the most sophisticated in the world, manufactured in … Israel.

Külbel was approached by a well-known pro-Palestinian advocate, Professor Said Dudin, to promote his book. However, the outrageous declarations frequently made by Dudin served to torpedo it instead. Külbel, a former East German criminal police officer, was quick to find out that Dudin had a long-standing reputation for being a CIA mole within the German left-wing. The journalist published a number of old East-German reports attesting to this fact and was sentenced and briefly imprisoned for illicit dissemination of documents; meantime, Dudin was settling into the German Embassy in Beirut for the purpose of infiltrating the families of the four generals.

Overlooked in the Middle East, Germany’s role in this region is worth spotlighting. After Israel’s war of aggression against Lebanon in the Summer of 2006, Chancellor Angela Merkel deployed a very large contingent to join the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The 2 400 soldiers from Germany control the maritime infrastructure to prevent arms supplies from reaching the Resistance via the Mediterranean. On that occasion, Ms Merkel declared that the mission of the German army was to protect Israel. A wind of rebellion arose among the officers. By the hundreds, they sent letters to remind her that they had enlisted to defend their homeland not a foreign country, be it an ally.

An unprecedented development took place on 17 March 2008 and 18 January 2010, when the German and Israeli governments held a joint Council of Ministers meeting where various programmes were adopted, especially in the defense sector. At this stage, there shouldn’t be too many secrets left between the Tsahal and the Bundeswehr.

The investigation conducted by Detlev Mehlis is both steeped in ridicule as regards the false witnesses, and tainted with the illegal detention of the four generals. To the extent that the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention formally and firmly condemned this excess of power.

This being said, the opprobrium that befalls Mr Mehlis’ work should not reflect on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon which is in no way responsible for his manipulations. But here, again, things get complicated. The credibility of the STL rests on its ability to curb, in the first place, all those who attempted to mask the truth and falsely accused Presidents Bachar el-Assad and Emile Lahoud, with the intention of provoking a war.

Now, it transpires that the Tribunal refuses to try the false witnesses, giving the impression that it is covering up the manipulations under Mehlis’ watch and is in fact pursuing the similar political objectifs (this time against the Hezbollah, and perhaps against others in future). Even worse, the Tribunal will not hand over to Jamil Sayyed (one of the four generals illegally detained) the minutes of his accusers’ hearings, thereby barring him from requesting compensation and making it look as if it condones four years of arbitrary detention.

In more prosaic terms, the Tribunal is shirking its responsabilities. On the one hand, it must judge the false witnesses to thwart further manipulations and to make plain its impartiality; on the other hand it refuses to undertake a “clean-up” operation which might force it to arrest Prosecutor Mehlis. However, Odnako’s revelations on the German lead render this posture untenable. All the more since it’s already too late: General Jamil Sayyed filed a complaint in Syria and a Syrian examining magistrate has already indicted Detlev Mehlis, Commissioner Gerahrd Lehmann plus the five false witnesses. One can imagine the commotion at the STL should Syria decide to call on Interpol to have them arrested.

Just as the Mehlis commission was supposed to compensate for the lack of professionalism on the part of the Lebanese forces of law and order, the STL should equally have ensured the impartiality that the Lebanese courts may have been short of. But things are far off target, which raises the question of the Tribunal’s legitimacy.

Kofi Annan didn’t want the Lebanon Tribunal to exert international jurisdiction, but to function as a national Lebanese tribunal with an international character. It would have been subjected to Lebanese law while half of its members would have been nationals of other countries. The plan did not materialize because the negotiations came to a sudden end. More precisely, an agreement was reached with the Lebanese government presided at the time by Fouad Siniora, the former authorised representative of the Hariri estate, but it was never ratified either by Parliament or by the president of the Republic. Hence, the agreement was endorsed unilaterally by the UN Security Council (Resolution 1757 of 30 May 2007). The end result is a hybrid and fragile entity.

As pointed out by Kofi Annan, this Tribunal is not analogous to any other so far created within the purview of the United Nations. “It is neither a subsidiary organ of the UN, nor a component of the Lebanese judiciary system”; it is simply “a conventional organ” sitting between the executive authority of the Lebanese government and the UN. Judging by the international rule of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary, the STL cannot be regarded as a genuine tribunal, but rather as a joint disciplinary commission within the executive frameworks of the UN and the Lebanese Government. Whatever decision it may make will inevitably be coated with suspicion.

Worse still, any Lebanese government can terminate it since, not having been ratified, the related agreement was binding only on the previous government. As a result, the present Lebanese coalition government has become a battlefield between partisans and foes of the Tribunal. In an attempt to maintain governmental stability, week after week Lebanese President Michel Sleimane has been dissuading the Council of Ministers from taking a vote on any issue linked with the STL. This embargo cannot hold out forever.

Bad news coming in pairs, suspicions have now extended to the President of the STL, Antonio Cassese. This reputable international jurist was President of the International Criminal Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He happens to be a ardent supporter of the Jewish colonialisation of Palestine. A personal friend of Elie Wiesel, Cassese received and accepted an honorary award, presented by Wiesel himself. He should normally have withdrawn and resigned when Hassan Nasrallah disclosed that Israeli drones had been reconnoitering the crime scene as well as the victim’s movements for months.

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According to the President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Antonio Cassese, the armed resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan should be tried for “terrorism”.

Worst of all, Judge Cassesse personifies an interpretation of international law that causes division in the Middle East. Although his official curriculum vitae obscures it, he took part in the 2005 negotiations between member states of the European Union and those bordering the Mediterranean Sea (“Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean”). His definition of terrorism blocked the discussions. According to him, terrorism is exclusively the act of individuals or private groups, never states. It follows that a struggle against an occupying army would not be considered as “resistance” but as “terrorism”. In the local context, this juridical view is consistent with a colonial framework and disqualifies the STL.

The methods of the Special Tribunal do not differ from those applied by the Mehlis Commission. STL investigators collected mass files on Lebanese students, social security recipients and subscribers of public utility services. On 27 October, in the absence of the Lebanese judges, they even tried to snatch medical records from a gynecological clinic frequented by the wives of Hezbollah members. It is obvious that these probes have no link whatsoever with the Rafik Hariri assassination. Everything leads the Lebanese to believe that the information is actually earmarked for Israel, of which, in their eyes, the TSL is merely an offshoot.

All these problems had clearly been foreseen by President Putin when, in 2007, he had vainly made a pitch for a different wording of the STL founding resolution. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin had denounced the “juridical loopholes” of the system. He deplored that the Security Council should threaten to resort to force (Chapter VII) to achieve unilaterally the creation of this “conventional organ”. He had emphasised that while the Tribunal should be working towards the reconciliation of the Lebanese people, it was devised in such a way as to divide them even more. Finally, Russia – as China – refused to endorse Resolution 1757.

The truth ultimately seeps through. The Israeli drone videos released by the Hezbollah expose Israel’s involvement in the crime preparations. The facts revealed by Odnako point to the use of a sophisticated German weapon. The puzzle is nearly complete.

The Hariri Assassination: The Role Of Israel?

January 17th, 2011 by Rannie Amiri

The following article was first pblished by Global Research in July 2010

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20233

In the Middle East , the link between political machinations, espionage and assassination is either clear as day, or clear as mud.

 

As for the yet unsolved case of the February 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the underpinnings of this covert operation including the role of Israel have now surfaced.

A crackdown on Israeli spy rings operating in Lebanon has resulted in more than 70 arrests over the past 18 months. Included among them are four high-ranking Lebanese Army and General Security officers—one having spied for the Mossad since 1984.

A significant breakthrough in the ongoing investigation occurred in late June and culminated in the arrest of Charbel Qazzi, head of transmission and broadcasting at Alfa, one of Lebanon ’s two state-owned mobile service providers.

According to the Lebanese daily As-Safir, Qazzi confessed to installing computer programs and planting electronic chips in Alfa transmitters. These could then be used by Israeli intelligence to monitor communications, locate and target individuals for assassination, and potentially deploy viruses capable of erasing recorded information in the contact lines. Qazzi’s collaboration with Israel reportedly dates back 14 years.

On July 12, a second arrest at Alfa was made. Tarek al-Raba’a, an engineer and partner of Qazzi, was apprehended on charges of spying for Israel and compromising national security. A few days later, a third Alfa employee was similarly detained.

Israel has refused to comment on the arrests. Nevertheless, their apparent ability to have penetrated Lebanon ’s military and telecommunication sectors has rattled the country and urgently raised security concerns.

What does any of this have to do with the Hariri assassination?

Outside the obvious deleterious ramifications of high-ranking Lebanese military officers working for Israel , the very legitimacy of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is now in question. The STL is the U.N.-sanctioned body tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the assassination of the late prime minister. On Feb. 14, 2005, 1,000 kg of explosives detonated near Hariri’s passing motorcade, killing him and 21 others.

It is believed the STL will issue indictments in the matter as early as September—relying heavily on phone recordings and mobile transmissions to do so.

According to the AFP, “A preliminary report by the U.N. investigating team said it had collected data from mobile phone calls made the day of Hariri’s murder as evidence.”

The National likewise reported, “The international inquiry, which could present indictments or findings as soon as September, according to unverified media reports, used extensive phone records to draw conclusions into a conspiracy to kill Hariri, widely blamed on Syria and its Lebanese allies …”

In a July 16 televised speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah speculated the STL would use information gleaned from Israeli-compromised communications to falsely implicate the group in the prime minister’s murder:

“Some are counting in their analysis of the (STL) indictment on witnesses, some of whom turned out to be fake, and on the telecommunications networks which were infiltrated by spies who can change and manipulate data.  

“Before the (2006) war, these spies gave important information to the Israeli enemy and based on this information, Israel bombed buildings, homes, factories and institutions. Many martyrs died and many others were wounded. These spies are partners in the killings, the crimes, the threats and the displacement.”

Nasrallah called the STL’s manipulation an “Israeli project” meant to “create an uproar in Lebanon .”

Indeed, in May 2008 Lebanon experienced a taste of this. At the height of an 18-month stalemate over the formation of a national unity government under then Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, his cabinet’s decision to unilaterally declare Hezbollah’s fixed-line communication system illegal pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

Recognizing the value their secure lines of communication had in combating the July 2006 Israeli invasion and suspecting that state-owned telecoms might be compromised, Hezbollah resisted Siniora’s plans to have its network dismantled. Their men swept through West Beirut and put a quick end to the government’s plan. Two years later, their suspicions appear to have been vindicated.

Opposition MP and Free Patriotic Movement head Michel Aoun has already warned Nasrallah that the STL will likely indict “uncontrolled” Hezbollah members to be followed by “… Lebanese-Lebanese and Lebanese-Palestinian tension, and by an Israeli war on Lebanon .”

Giving credence to Nasrallah and Aoun’s assertions, Commander in Chief of the Israel Defense Forces Gabi Ashkenazi, predicted “with lots of wishes” that the situation in Lebanon would deteriorate in September after the STL indicts Hezbollah for Hariri’s assassination.

Ashkenazi’s gleeful, prescient testimony to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs Committee betrays what Israel hopes the fallout from the STL’s report will be: fomentation of civil strife and discord among Lebanon ’s sectarian groups, generally divided into pro- and anti-Syria factions. Ashkenazi anticipates this to happen, of course, because he knows Israel ’s unfettered access to critical phone records will have framed Hezbollah for the crime.

Israel’s agents and operatives in Lebanon and its infiltration of a telecom network have been exposed. At the very least, the STL must recognize that evidence of alleged Hezbollah involvement in Hariri’s death (a group that historically enjoyed good ties with the late premier) is wholly tainted and likely doctored.

The arrest of Qazzi and al-Raba’a in the breakup of Israeli spy rings should prompt the STL to shift its focus to the only regional player that has benefited from Hariri’s murder; one that will continue to do so if and when their designs to implicate Hezbollah are realized.

It is time to look at Tel Aviv.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator

This January 17th in the United States and everywhere we should all honor Martin Luther King Jr for not just his words, but they were great, but for his actions, including his stand against the Vietnam War and so much else of US Government policy in those crucial days in 1967 and later as well as his leadership of US blacks in their struggle for justice in their country and justice for all in this country on a whole range of issues.

As he put it so well “all life is interrelated. What affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Either we will “all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together like fools.” As we move to honor this great US citizen and most of all great human being, let us heed his sage words that “we must” internationalize the struggle for justice with movements for non violent, civil disobedience to meet the challenges we all face in this world which as he said it in his time “is sick with war” by moving together as we must with “loyalties which transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation. . .” to “develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world.” We in the USA must move to get on ‘the right side of world revolution” as Dr King put it if we are going to survive and do well and better with the rest of the human race. Everyone “is somebody” as Dr King said and if we truly believe in that and in the sanctity of human life, we “won’t exploit people, we won’t trample over them with the iron feet of oppression, and we won’t kill anybody.” The “Christmas hope of peace on earth and goodwill to all” “can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopian” as Dr King explained. We can honor Dr King best by living out the truth of his sage advice that we struggle to end injustice everywhere as “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” just as Dr King told us. To do this we will need to continue with “an international coalition of socially aware forces operating outside governmental frameworks.” to bring justice, peace, and dignity to every corner of this planet.

As we do this we will be moving toward provided this country with a peace dividend which absolutely would be a good idea toward reordering the USA’s priorities to cutting Pentagon spending going for killing and maiming people abroad and dominating them and instead putting much more into health care, education, the environment, and so much that this country and other countries need. In providing help to under developed countries made poor by the West we will tend to be part of movements and efforts otherwise often outside “governmental frameworks” putting pressure on Western governments to do this. This won’t be easy but so many of such efforts before history haven’t in the least been. But if we aren’t to go the way of the dinosaurs, then this is the way to go for us in the West. and we will have collaboration from those in the third world such as ALBA (The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) which Venezuela is currently leading and which Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador are currently members of. Some in the European Union often outside of governmental frameworks will also be collaborating in such efforts. likewise in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand folks will often be operating outside such “governmental frameworks” as Dr King advocated. Some governments especially those in ALBA will be supportive, but regardless all can make a contribution to the struggle for a better world.

Let us then brace ourselves to these tasks for making for ourselves a better world by this international struggle by “socially aware forces” pressing governments, regional organizations and yes the United Nations to act for all for the good of all.

For too long and surely since the Second World War as Dr King pointed out in his speech opposing the Vietnam War and other morally bankrupt US Government policies the USA and the rest of the West have been on “wrong side of” the events of upheaval of the downtrodden rising up against cruel “systems of exploitation and oppression.” as we economically and sometime politically as well as militarily exploited the Third World and in the US case specifically aligning ourselves with the “landed gentry of Latin America.” and against those seeking only justice and decency for themselves. But as Dr King said at the time “Vietnam” and he would surely say today that “Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and wherever else the US war machine is killing people in huge numbers for the over pampered and all too wealthy power elites in the USA and the rest of the West are just “symptoms” of the problem. The crux of the matter is our being on the wrong side of this “world revolution” now going on as it was then. To get beyond this we “must move to a radical revolution of values” which provide us with the vision to see what we are doing with policies in the Third World isn’t “just.” We will have to recognize this to come to grips with and move toward alleviating the overwhelming suffering and misery we are causing in the Third World. The responsibility for stopping this “military madness” and all that goes along with it is ours in the West.

If we can move to such a transformation and toward Dr King’s vision of all “beating swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks,” and the “lion lying down with the lamb,” we can have a better world where we all see each person as “somebody” due respect, dignity, compassion, and a level playing field for all and all power going to all the people. We will then see and live the truth of Dr King’s words that “we are all caught up in a network of mutuality tied into a single garment of destiny.”

The struggle will be long, but the “arc of moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice” as Dr King put it so well. For as Dr King quoted Carlyle “No lie can live forever,” and not even the one that so many of Western power elites and their puppets in the Third World are living today.

Of the USA and those aligned with it and their “war on terror,” I’m convinced Dr King would say as he did in his day of the Vietnam War “Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.” Then he would tell us how we must move to reorder our priorities to get on the right side of today’s “world revolution” and on the side of the people internationally which we have been on “the wrong side” of since the Second World War and would point out that the US Government is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

A H Goldberg* is a pseudonym the writer uses on a regular basis.