¿Quién demoniza a Eritrea y por qué?

February 22nd, 2010 by Mohamed Hassan

Treinta y cuatro minutos es el tiempo que necesitó el Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas para decidir la suerte de Eritrea. En efecto, el Consejo votó la resolución 1907/2009 que impone sanciones a este pequeño país del Cuerno de África. Pero esta decisión descansa en unas informaciones inventadas y en una campaña de mentiras dirigida principalmente por Estados Unidos, Gran Bretaña y Uganda. Sólo China se abstuvo y Libia votó en contra.

A Eritrea se le reprocha proporcionar armas y munición a grupos armados en Somalia, y mantener relaciones conflictivas con sus vecinos de Etiopía y Djibuti. Es evidente que los miembros del Consejo que votaron a favor de la aplicación de sanciones no conocen ni la historia de Eritrea ni la situación de Somalia. Sin embargo, el gobierno de Asmara no ha dejado de repetir a Naciones Unidas que no proporciona armas a los grupos somalíes. No sólo no posee los medios de hacer sino que además propuso unas pistas de solución para resolver la crisis somalí: abrir a todos los actores del país el diálogo para la reconciliación, sin injerencia de, por ejemplo, potencias extranjeras.

Naciones Unidas no tuvo en cuenta estas propuestas y acusa a Eritrea. Sin embargo, este país no es quien ha creado el problema somalí, tampoco quien lo ha invadido ni quien ha violado el embargo de armas impuesto en 1992. Entonces, ¿quiénes son los verdaderos responsables (1)? Quienes dirigen hoy el barco del Consejo de Seguridad.

En efecto, el Cuerno de África es una región estratégica para Washington, que trata de instalar ahí una base militar. ¿Con que objetivo? Controlar Oriente Medio y el acceso africano al océano Índico. Se ha ganado a Etiopía y a Djibouti para la causa de Estados Unidos. En Somalia no hay gobierno desde hace veinte años y el país está sumido en el caos. Cuando el movimiento de los Tribunales Islámicos consiguió devolver la paz al país en 2006, el ejercito etíope apoyado por Washington invadió Mogadisco. Desde entonces la situación no ha dejado de deteriorarse. Queda Eritrea, que resiste a las políticas imperialistas llevando una política independiente.

Precisamente por eso se la ataca hoy. El gobierno de Asmara ha hecho cuanto ha podido con los pocos medios que tiene para proteger a su pueblo de los saqueos y continuos abusos de las potencias coloniales. La economía del país se basa esencialmente en una agricultura en pleno desarrollo, el gobierno apuesta mucho por elevar el nivel educativo y la red de infraestructuras está relativamente desarrollada. El país dispone además de importantes recursos en oro, cobre, gas y petróleo todavía sin explotar. Estas materias primas atraen el apetito de las potencias neocoloniales. Pero Eritrea elabora su propio modelo de desarrollo y desea disponer de sus riquezas a su manera.

También en el plano diplomático Asmara desea devolver la paz al Cuerno de África invitando a todos los actores de la zona a dialogar sin interferencia de las potencias extranjeras. Evidentemente, esta visión de la política no coincide con los intereses estadounidenses. En efecto, Washington teme perder totalmente el control del Cuerno de África. En primer lugar, porque no logra imponer el gobierno que desea en Somalia. A continuación, porque el actual régimen etíope, fiel a Estados Unidos, cada vez es más cuestionado dentro de sus fronteras y podría perder las próximas elecciones. Por último, porque el modelo eritreo, que se basa en una política independiente de las potencias extranjeras, podría tener imitadores en la zona.

Por consiguiente, Estados Unidos trata de marginar a Eritrea. Por ello ha hecho que se aprueben unas sanciones injustas contra este país. Pero los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad deben evaluar todos los hechos y las pruebas presentadas para encontrar una solución pacífica a los problemas del Cuerno de África. Se han previsto manifestaciones en Europa, Estados Unidos y Australia para pedir al Consejo de Seguridad que revise su decisión (2). Los países de África necesitan paz, no traficantes de armas, invasiones o sanciones. Notas:

1. Véase el capítulo de nuestra serie “Comprender el mundo musulmán”: “Cómo mantienen a Somalia en el caos las potencias coloniales”,

2. Para más información véase http://eritrean-smart.org/node/26

Texto en francés : http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17759

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Mohamed Hassan, Comité del Cuerno de África en Europa

Exactly 28 years later, the spectre of the Falklands War makes a comeback. This was one of Britain’s last colonial wars – a sordid episode in the annals of the British Empire. In 1982, UK Prime Minister Margaret sent a task force to “defend” the Falklands from long-held territorial claims by Argentina of Las Malvinas, which Britain had seized in 1833. The islands are approximately 300 kilometres off the coast of the South American mainland and 12,000km from Britain.

Some 900 servicemen – more than two-thirds of them Argentine – died in the 74-day Falklands War. The most notorious incident was the sinking of the Argentine navy cruiser, the General Belgrano, by a British submarine, HMS Conqueror, on 2 May, 1982. Two torpedoes dispatched 323 Argentinians to their watery graves. The attack was sanctioned by Thatcher and caused an international storm because it occurred outside British-declared territorial waters and the Belgrano was reported at the time to be sailing west, away from the disputed islands.

Infamously, the British tabloid Sun gloated over the Argentinian deaths with the front-page headline: ‘Gotcha’. The resulting jingoistic war mood that swept Britain was much to the benefit of Thatcher and her Tory government. After two years in office, the wage-cutting, public-service axing rightwing Iron Maiden was sagging in the polls and deeply resented. A war to defend doughty Britain’s national interests was just the ticket for her political revival and a crucial factor in her re-election in 1983.

Twenty-eight years later, the stakes are high again. Incumbent prime minister Gordon Brown is being assailed in the polls and media and his Labour government is staring at defeat in elections only months away. Britain is also languishing in economic depression, with a crippling trade deficit and national debt. But lying off its South Atlantic possession is an oilfield with a prize that is a jewel in the crown compared with Britain’s (now depleted) North Sea hydrocarbon reservoirs – even when the latter were at their peak production back in the 1980s.

Reports put the oil reserves off the Falklands at 60 billion barrels of crude. To put this in perspective, Saudi Arabia – the world’s top producer – has an estimated total reserve of 267 billion barrels.

Put another way, the oil find in the South Atlantic – if fully exploited – would put Britain in the world ranking of the top 17 oil-holding nations between Russia (8th) and Libya (9th).

This week, Britain started drilling 62 miles (100km) north of the Falklands, much to the chagrin of Buenos Aires, which continues to lay claim to the islands despite its humiliating defeat. Argentina has in response imposed naval restrictions around the islands and has received unanimous diplomatic backing from its South American neighbours. And Argentina is due to bring its claims to the United Nations. 

British foreign secretary David Miliband claims that his county’s oil exploration in the South Atlantic is “completely in accordance with international law (sic)”.

But the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) states that the outer maritime limit for territorial claim by any country is 22 nautical miles (22km) from its coast. This is well short of the location where Britain has started drilling for oil off its colony – 62 miles (100km) – never mind the absurd remove of 8,000 miles (12,000km) from dear old Blighty. The self-declared British territorial claim around the South Atlantic islands of 200 miles (370km) is simply that: a self-declared claim that has no basis in international law.

A Second Falklands War may seem far-fetched. But the danger of conflict can never be discounted when an imperialist power – especially one with pretensions of greatness – feels under duress. History shows that Britain’s lacklustre economy and discredited political establishment did not stop it from embarking on the Suez fiasco or the First and Second World Wars.

The latest diplomatic spat at the very least illustrates the friction when countries flaunt double standards. Argentina’s President, Cristina Kirchner, speaking at a summit of South American states this week in Cancun, Mexico, put it well when she said: “Britain can systematically violate UN resolutions because it sits on the security council – while other nations have to obey UN resolutions otherwise they are labelled enemies or worse.”

  

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From Ire to Pyre if US Attacks Iran or Imposes Sanctions

February 22nd, 2010 by Ameen Izzadeen

The United States appears to be in a hurry to bring about a regime change in Iran but its biggest problem is that it does not know how to go about it.

In recent weeks, the US has increased its Iran-bashing tempo and intensified diplomatic efforts aimed at forcing Tehran to give up its uranium enrichment programme.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top diplomats are in the West Asian region, meeting presidents and kings and telling them they should back US efforts aimed at neutralizing the threat Iran is posing to the countries in the region.

Clinton, in one of her controversial comments during the tour, described Iran as a budding military dictatorship and indicated that the United States was on the side of the oppressed majority silently suffering in Iran.

Obviously the Clinton remarks indicate a US move to take advantage of the political division within Iran — a division which was exacerbated after last year’s controversial presidential election, which the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, won. Washington wants to befriend Iran’s opposition parties and groups, including a section of the clergy, who have been sidelined. The US believes that such ties with the opposition will be useful not only in the event of a regime change that could come about if the US plans work but also in the event of a war with Iran.

But it is here that the US is making a big mistake. Iranians are diehard nationalists. In times of crisis, nationalism rises above political divisions and unites people. An external threat to Iran’s existence is just what the Ahmadinejad government needs to consolidate its hold on power.

In marketing the US’ perception on what is happening in Iran, Clinton said: “We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president and the parliament are being supplanted, and that Iran is moving towards a military dictatorship,” Clinton told a gathering in Qatar’s capital of Doha.

The Time magazine website in an article on Wednesday went one step further and insisted that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had already taken over the country in a silent coup.

President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, James Jones, was more blunt. In comments to the rightwing Fox television, he said Iran was facing a serious internal crisis with Revolutionary Guards taking over the government. He said the US was determined to aggravate this problem by imposing crippling tough sanctions. “Not mild sanctions. There are very tough sanctions. A combination of those things could well trigger a regime change — it’s possible.”

These comments by US officials drew fire from the relatively sedate Iranian spiritual leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday. He hit out at the US saying Iran would oppose not only US ambitions in the region but also the entire American-dominated global system.

“We make it clear here that we are opposed to several countries dominating the world and we will fight this system and will never let several governments play with the fate of the world,” he said.

Commenting on Clinton’s visit which is seen by some analysts as a mission to test the waters prior to a possible attack on Iran, Khamenei said: “The Americans have once more dispatched their agent to roam in the Persian Gulf and repeat the same lies against Iran. But nobody believes these lies because the United States never seeks to serve the interests of nations in the region and it has even trampled upon this region for its own illegitimate interests.”

Khamenei said Iran was not a threat to the region’s peace and stability but it was the US which had turned the “the Persian Gulf into an arms depot and launched invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and is now throwing its gauntlet at Pakistan.”

One of the aims of Clinton’s visit to the region, analysts say, is to win an assurance from Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing Gulf States that they would increase their oil supplies in the event the region is destabilized by an attack on Iran either by the US or by Israel. Top US diplomats and military officers are also touring the region and meeting Arab leaders to win their support or their silence for a possible military action on Iran.

Clinton made no effort to hide that one of the aims of her visit to the region was to ensure the stability of the oil market. Obviously, she was addressing the concerns of China, which had been opposing Western moves to bring tough sanctions on Iran — sanctions which could impose a total ban on Iran’s oil exports.

Clinton wants Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to meet the shortfall in oil supply when the proposed sanctions take effect. If this assurance is obtained, the US hopes to pressurize Beijing to back the sanctions.

But will this happen? China’s ties with Iran, which is Beijing’s third largest oil supplier, are not confined to oil deals alone. They also operate in the realms of intrigue-ridden global politics.

China, like Iran, is opposed to US hegemony though it does not state it openly. China is suspicious of the US presence in West Asia and Afghanistan, and feels it could be a threat to China’s interest in Central Asia and the Indian Ocean. Some analysts believe the instability in Pakistan’s tribal areas and Baluchistan is being deliberately engineered by anti-China forces to prevent China from extending a highway from its western borders to the Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Once this highway becomes operational, it will make China geographically close to West Asia and help it save billions of dollars in transport costs.

China and the US are also engaged in a “great game” to keep Central Asia within their sphere of influence. China, with Russia’s help, appears to have won this battle for Central Asia; but the US has not given up its ambitions in the oil-and-gas-rich region totally. In recent weeks, US-China relations have been strained by a series of US moves which Beijing saw as hostile. Among them were the sale of advanced weapons to Taiwan and US President Barack Obama’s meeting Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama yesterday despite Chinese protests.

Given these factors, it is unlikely China would back the sanction and lose the friendship of Iran, which Beijing regards as a natural ally in its growing cold war with the US.

Russia, meanwhile, said it may back the sanctions, though it is opposed to any military action against Iran. Unlike China, Russia stands to gain irrespective of whether sanctions are imposed on Iran or not. If there are no sanctions, Russia will continue to be Iran’s main supplier of weapons and machinery. If sanctions come into play and prevent Iran from selling oil, then Russia will benefit from the high oil prices, for it is one of the main oil producers and exporters.

On Tuesday, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad warned that Iran would not bow to pressure and would respond to sanctions in such a way that countries backing the sanctions would regret their decision. “If anybody seeks to create problems for Iran, our response will not be like before,” he warned.

Ahmadinejad in a recent address also said Iran would enrich uranium to 20 percent and manufacture its own rods for what he called medical research if the International Atomic Energy Agency did not cooperate.

Iran has so far gone up to 3.5 percent enrichment. Twenty percent will take many more centrifuges and efforts. In short it is no easy task. Even the Americans acknowledge this. Thus it was no surprise that Ahmadinejad’s 20 percent move was ridiculed by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

“He [Ahmadinejad] says many things, and many of them turn out to be untrue. We do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching.”

Antiwar analyst Patrick J. Buchanan seized on these remarks and said: “Wait a minute. If Iran does not have the capability to enrich to 20 percent for fuel rods, how can Iran enrich to 90 percent for a bomb?”

So why all this fuss about sanctions and military strikes on Iran? It appears that the US has an existential problem. It cannot live or survive without an enemy.

U.S. Patriot Missiles in Poland Early April: Report

February 22nd, 2010 by Global Research

WARSAW - Poland is set to host a battery of U.S. Patriot missiles and the American troops to man it from the start of April, PAP news agency said Sunday.

“The Defense Ministry expects the first stage of the stationing of a Patriot air-defense battery and a 100-man service team to get under way in the (northern) town of Morag at the turn of April,” the agency said.

The Patriots are part of a Polish-U.S. agreement signed last December to upgrade the NATO member’s air defenses, following Washington’s decision last September to scrap a Bush-era Missile Shield incorporating installations in Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic.

Russia has repeatedly warned against stationing NATO missiles in former Soviet-bloc countries and said it would beef up its naval base across the border from Poland in its Baltic enclave Kaliningrad.

Friday, however, the Russian defense minister said Iskander tactical missiles would be installed in Kaliningrad only if Moscow felt directly threatened.

A week ago, Poland’s lower house of parliament sent the Polish-U.S. agreement to President Lech Kaczynski for ratification, but his signature is expected to be a formality.

Reporting and writing by Rob Strybel; Editing by Jon Boyle

China Circled by Chain of US Anti-Missile Systems

February 22nd, 2010 by Qin Jize

Washington appears determined to surround China with US-built anti-missile systems, military scholars have observed.

According to US-based Defense News, Taiwan became the fifth global buyer of the Patriot missile defense system last year following Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Germany.

Quite a few military experts have noted that Washington’s latest proposed weapon deal with Taiwan is the key part of a US strategic encirclement of China in the East Asian region, and that the missiles could soon have a footprint that extends from Japan to the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.

Air force colonel Dai Xu, a renowned military strategist, wrote in an article released this month that “China is in a crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan. Washington’s deployment of anti-missile systems around China’s periphery forms a crescent-shaped encirclement”.

Ni Lexiong, an expert on military affairs with the Shanghai Institute of Political Science and Law, told the Guanghzou Daily yesterday, “The US anti-missile system in China’s neighborhood is a replica of its strategy in Eastern Europe against Russia. The Obama administration began to plan for such a system around China after its project in Eastern Europe got suspended”.

Tang Xiaosong, director of the Center of International Security and Strategy Studies with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies noted that the ring encircling China can also be expanded at any time in other directions. He said that Washington is hoping to sell India and other Southeast Asian countries the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 missile defense system.

Analysts say that China is closely monitoring US-India missile defense cooperation since any integration of India into the US global missile defense system, would profoundly affect China’s security.

However, according to former Chinese Ambassador to India Pei Yuanying, India is unlikely to be part of any such US scheme against China.

“New Delhi needs to develop relations with the US, but it wants to be an independent international power on the international arena,” he said.

Pei said it was necessary to take multiple aspects of China-US relations into consideration. “The US has followed the policy of engagement plus containment with China for a long time and that overall policy will not change during Obama’s term,” he said.

Defense News quoted John Holly, Lockheed’s vice president of Missile Defense Systems as saying the outlook for the missile defense market remains sound.

Pointing to missile programs in Pyongyang, Teheran, Moscow and Beijing, Holly said “the world is not a very safe world and it is incumbent upon us in the industry to provide (the Pentagon) with the best capabilities.”

Beijing has frequently criticized US missile-defense development and has been making efforts to restrict missile defenses through the United Nations forums.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told a UN disarmament conference in August in Geneva that “countries should neither seek for absolute strategic predominance nor develop missile-defense systems that undermine global strategic stability.”

VIDEO: Iraq for Sale

February 22nd, 2010 by Robert Greenwald

On May 10th, 2007, this video was banned in Congress. Robert Greenwald, the director of IRAQ FOR SALE, was invited to testify before Congress by Rep. Jim Moran. He prepared four minutes from the documentary to show. Republicans insisted this not be shown.

The Israeli government and its right-wing supporters have been waging a “McCarthyite” campaign against human-rights groups by blaming them for the barrage of international criticism that has followed Israel’s attack on Gaza a year ago, critics say.

In a sign of the growing backlash against the human-rights community, the cabinet backed a bill last week that, if passed, will jail senior officials from the country’s peace-related organisations should they fail to meet tough new registration conditions.

The measure is a response to claims by right-wing lobbyists that Israel’s human-rights advocates supplied much of the damaging evidence of war crimes cited by Judge Richard Goldstone in his UN-commissioned report into Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

Human-rights groups funded by foreign donors, such as the European Union, would be required to register as political bodies and meet other demands for “transparency”.

Popular support for the clampdown was revealed in a poll published last week showing that 57 per cent of Israeli Jews believed “national-security” issues should trump human rights.

In a related move, right-wing groups have launched a campaign of vilification against Naomi Chazan, the Israeli head of an American Jewish donor body called the New Israel Fund (NIF) that channels money to Israeli social justice groups. The NIF is accused of funding the Israeli organisations Mr Goldstone consulted for his report.

Billboard posters around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and a newspaper advertising campaign, show a caricature of Ms Chazan with a horn growing from her forehead under the title “Naomi-Goldstone-Chazan”.

“We are seeing the evaporation of the last freedoms of speech and organisation in Israel,” said Amal Jamal, head of politics at Tel Aviv University and the director of Ilam, a media-rights organisation that would be targeted by the new legislation. The Israeli political system, he added, was being transformed into a “totalitarian democracy”.

Leading the charge against human-rights groups — most of which are officially described as “non-governmental organisations” — has been a self-styled “watchdog group” known as NGO Monitor. Its activities have won support from the government following the international censure faced by Israel for its attack on Gaza.

The bill, approved by a ministerial committee last week, is the product of a conference staged in the parliament in December by Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor’s director, and a settler-backed organisation known as the Institute of Zionist Strategies.

A professor at Bar Ilan University, Prof Steinberg presented a report to MPs and ministers that referred to peace groups as “Trojan horses” and argued for imposing constraints on funding from European governments and the NIF.

In a statement at the time, Prof Steinberg said: “For over a decade European governments have been manipulating Israeli politics and promoting demonisation by funding a narrow group of favored non-governmental organisations.”

He has reserved special criticism for advocacy groups for the country’s Arab minority and for Jewish groups opposing the occupation, accusing both of promoting an image of Israel as an “apartheid” state that carries out “war crimes” and “ethnic cleansing”.

According to his report, 16 Israeli peace NGOs received $8 million in European funding in the previous three years.

Pressure has been building in the government for action. This month Yuli Edelstein, the diaspora affairs minister and a member of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, told reporters the cabinet had been “concerned for a time with a number of groups under the guise of NGOs that are funded by foreign agents”.

One of the MPs who participated in December’s conference, Zeev Elkin, also of Likud, initiated the legislation.

Although the bill will need to pass a vote of the parliament, backing from the government has dramatically increased its chances of success.

According to the legislation, human-rights groups will have to satisfy a long list of new conditions. They include: registering as political bodies; submitting ID numbers and addresses for all activists; providing detailed accounts of all donations from overseas and the purposes to which they will be put; and declaring the support of foreign countries every time an activist makes a speech or the organisation stages an event.

Senior officials in NGOs that fail to meet the requirements face up to a year in jail.

Hagai Elad, head of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the country’s largest human-rights law centre, said there was “a very hostile political climate” and that freedoms were being attacked “one step at a time”.

“These are classic McCarthy techniques, portraying our organisations as enemies of the state and suggesting that we are aiding Hamas and terror groups.”

He added that NGOs were heavily regulated under Israeli law. “Which leaves me with a troubling question: given that we are already transparent, what is the real motivation behind this legislation?”

Caught in the middle of the campaign against the NGOs has been Ms Chazan, a former dovish MP.

Maariv, a populist newspaper, published a report last month by a right-wing group called Im Tirtzu that blamed Ms Chazan and the NIF for funding human-rights groups responsible for 90 per cent of the criticisms of Israel contained in the Goldstone Report that were from non-official sources.

A counter-report last week suggested that in reality only about 4 per cent of the citations were from NIF-funded groups, and many were unrelated to the Gaza operation.

But the attack on Ms Chazan has rapidly gained traction, with commentators denouncing her in the media and the derogatory billboard posters springing up across the country.

The campaign against the NIF was backed this month by a petition signed by a long list of former generals, including Giora Eiland, the previous head of the National Security Council, and Doron Almog, a recent chief of the army’s southern command.

Ms Chazan has also been sacked by the right-wing Jerusalem Post newspaper after 14 years serving as one of its few liberal columnists, while an article accusing Ms Chazan of “serving the agenda of Iran and Hamas” was distributed to foreign journalists by the Government Press Office.

Ms Chazan said: “They’re using me to attack, in the most blatant way, the basic principles of democracy.”

NIF has pointed out that Im Tirtzu’s funders include Christians United for Israel, a group led by pastor John Hagee, who made the headlines in the US presidential race in 2008 when in a speech supporting contender John McCain he said “Hitler was fulfilling God’s will”.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

 

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

A politica da Administração Obama Ameaça a Humanidade

February 22nd, 2010 by Miguel Urbano Rodrigues

“Aquilo que parecia impossível há um ano está a acontecer: a política externa de Obama é mais agressiva e perigosa para a Ásia, África e América Latina do que a de George Bush. Mas essa realidade não se tornou ainda evidente para as grandes maiorias, influenciadas pela campanha de âmbito mundial que apresenta o presidente dos EUA como um político progressista e um defensor da paz.
Os actos desmentem-lhe, porém, as promessas e a oratória”.

Recentes iniciativas do Governo dos EUA confirmam que a actual Administração, longe de renunciar a uma estratégia de dominação mundial, se propõe a ampliá-la em múltiplas frentes.

Aquilo que parecia impossível há um ano está a acontecer: a política externa de Obama é mais agressiva e perigosa para a Ásia, África e América Latina do que a de George Bush. Mas essa realidade não se tornou ainda evidente para as grandes maiorias, influenciadas pela campanha de âmbito mundial que apresenta o presidente dos EUA como um político progressista e um defensor da paz.

Os actos desmentem-lhe, porém, as promessas e a oratória.

Os media ocidentais dedicam atenção mínima a iniciativas que se integram na expansão planetária do militarismo estado-unidense. Mas esse silêncio não impede que ela seja uma realidade.

O AFRICOM

A recente visita a países africanos do general William Garnett – é um exemplo – passou praticamente despercebida. Acontece que esse chefe militar foi dinamizar o AFRICOM, sigla que designa o comando do exército permanente dos EUA a ser instalado na África. A missão do general Garnett consistiu precisamente em contactos de alto nível com o objectivo de encontrar uma sede para esse exército, cuja criação foi aprovada há anos.

Sabe-se que até à data somente dois países, a Libéria e Marrocos mostraram disponibilidade para receber o AFRICOM. O general esbarrou, entretanto, com uma recusa frontal da Comunidade de Desenvolvimento da África do Sul, SADC, organização que reúne 15 países do Sul do Continente, incluindo Angola e Moçambique.

Dois são os objectivos do AFRICOM. Segundo a Casa Branca, o principal seria o combate ao terrorismo e o fortalecimento dos “regimes democráticos” da Região. O outro seria incentivar as relações económicas dos EUA com a África. Na realidade esse exército foi concebido como força de intervenção para apoiar governos aliados do Continente na sua luta contra movimentos progressistas. Paralelamente, a presença militar dos EUA criaria condições muito favoráveis ao controlo do petróleo e dos enormes recursos mineiros africanos.

Enquanto não se decide qual o país sede do AFRICOM, o Pentágono mantém forças nas Seychelles e em Djibuti (antiga Somália Francesa). Foi a partir daí que aviões não tripulados (os famosos drone) bombardearam a Somália. O general William Ward, do AFRICOM, afirmou recentemente que a Somália é hoje um “objectivo central do exército dos EUA no Continente”.

Simultaneamente a NATO amplia a sua presença no Índico.

IEMEN

A implementação da nova estratégia dos EUA para o Índico e o Corno de África foi acompanhada no início de Janeiro de uma intensa ofensiva mediática.

O fracassado atentado terrorista de um nigeriano contra o avião da Norwest Airlines que se dirigia a Detroit funcionou como alavanca de uma campanha que através de supostas ligações desse jovem catapultou o Iémen para as manchetes da comunicação social. De um dia para o outro aquele esquecido país do Sudeste da Península Arábica passou a ser apontado como o foco principal da Al Qaeda e uma ameaça à segurança dos EUA.

Uma massa torrencial de informações falsas foi difundida pelo planeta numa repetição do que acontecera em 2004 nas vésperas da agressão ao Iraque quando Washington forjou o mito das “armas de extinção maciça” como pretexto para a invasão.

O general Petraeus, comandante supremo dos EUA para o Médio Oriente e a Ásia Central, visitou Sana, onde foi prometer ao presidente do Iémen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, um aliado, um grande aumento da “ajuda” norte-americana que no ano passado já ascendera a 67 milhões de dólares.

O presidente Obama, em Washington, falou do “perigo iemenita” e o primeiro-ministro britânico, Gordon Brown, apressou-se a alinhar com a Casa Branca e a 3 de Janeiro afirmou em entrevista à BBC: “temos que fazer algo mais” no Iémen e na Somália.

Quase simultaneamente, o assessor de Obama para a segurança nacional e o antiterrorismo, John Brennan, foi mais longe: “convertemos o Iémen – informou – numa prioridade para este ano”.

A agressão militar precedeu, entretanto, essas declarações oficiais.

Nem Obama, nem Petraeus, nem Brennan esclareceram que a força aérea dos EUA bombardeou intensamente o território iemenita em Dezembro com mísseis Cruzeiro e aviões não tripulados em operações coordenadas com o exército da Arábia Saudita.

Num bem documentado artigo, divulgado por Global Research, Rick Rozoff revela pormenores dessas acções militares e das iniciativas politicas que acompanham a escalada imperialista no Iémen.

O encerramento, seguido da imediata reabertura, das embaixadas dos EUA, do Reino Unido e na França, foi uma farsa montada com o objectivo de impressionar norte-americanos e europeus e neutralizar eventuais reacções de protesto contra a abertura de uma nova frente de guerra no Iémen.

Os guerrilheiros das tribos houthis, chiitas, que combatem o Governo de Saleh no Norte, são apresentados por Washington como perigosos terroristas da Al Qaeda. O mesmo acontece com as forças do Partido Socialista do Iémen que, no Sul, lutam pela autonomia que lhes é negada.

Segundo porta vozes dos houthy, a Arábia Saudita disparou em Dezembro mais de mil mísseis contra os seus acampamentos numa guerra não declarada. O número de vítimas civis dos bombardeamentos norte-americanos na área seria muito elevado.

“A pretexto de proteger o território dos EUA desta vaga e ubíqua entidade (a Al Qaeda) – escreve Rick Rozoff – o Pentágono está envolvido em operações militares que vão do ocidente africano ao leste da Ásia contra grupos de esquerda e outros, não vinculados a Obama Ben Laden, na Colômbia, nas Filipinas, e no Iémen, milícias chiitas no Líbano e no Iémen, rebeldes étnicos no Mali e no Níger, e uma rebelião cristã extremista no Uganda.”

A instalação de sete bases militares norte-americanas na Colômbia insere-se nessa escalada militarista global. Também na América Latina a estratégia da actual Administração dos EUA é mais agressiva e desrespeitadora da soberania dos povos do que a dos governos anteriores (ver odiario.info, 7 de Janeiro de 2010).

A transformação de uma iniciativa de suposta “ajuda humanitária” ao Haiti, devastado por um terramoto apocalíptico, numa operação militar através do envio de uma força de mais de 15 mil soldados que ocuparam o país, impondo discricionariamente a vontade de Washington – é mais uma demonstração da perigosa estratégia imperial da Administração Obama.

O discurso farisaico do Presidente dos EUA funciona, porém, como um anestésico das consciências, dificultando muito a percepção da ameaça que representa para a humanidade a politica orientada para a dominação da humanidade pelo sistema de poder imperial.

O discurso de fachada progressista mantém-se, mas é negado a cada semana pelos actos. As medidas anunciadas na área financeira para punir abusos dos banqueiros de Wall Street e a corrupção dos senhores da finança são, concretamente, um exemplo da hipocrisia do discurso presidencial. Desde que tomou posse, a politica financeira de Obama tem sido orientada não para a solidariedade com as vítimas da crise – o povo dos EUA – mas para a salvação dos responsáveis, os banqueiros e as grandes empresas à beira da falência.

Tendo perdido a hegemonia económica exercida na segunda metade do século XX, o sistema de poder estado-unidense tenta, através da escalada militarista e do saque dos recursos dos povos do antigo Terceiro Mundo, prolongar a dominação do capitalismo à escala universal, superando pela violência a crise estrutural que o afecta e o empurra para o desaparecimento.

Nesse contexto, a politica externa da Administração Obama configura para a humanidade a mais perigosa ameaça por ela enfrentada desde o III Reich alemão.

Uma derrota inevitável será o desfecho do desafio imperialista. Mas vai tardar.

Para lutar vitoriosamente contra essa ameaça é imprescindível que dezenas de milhões de mulheres e homens progressistas tomem na Terra consciência dessa realidade.

Mossad’s Murderous Reach: The Larger Political Issues

February 22nd, 2010 by Prof. James Petras

On January 19 Israel’s international secret police, the Mossad, sent an eighteen member death squad to  Dubai using European passports, supposedly ‘stolen’ from Israeli dual citizens and altered with fake photos and signatures, in order to assassinate the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud al Mabhouh.

The evidence is overwhelming: The Dubai police presentation of detailed security videos of the assassins was corroborated by the testimony of Israeli security experts and applauded by Israel’s leading newspapers and columnists.  The Mossad openly stated that Mabhouh was a high priority target who had survived three previous assassination attempts.  Israel did not even bother to deny the murder.  Furthermore, the sophisticated communication system used by the killers, the logistics and planning surrounding their entry and exit from Dubai and the scope and scale of the operation have all the characteristics of a high-level state operation.  Furthermore, only Mossad would have access to the European passports of its dual citizens!  Only Mossad would have the capacity, motivation, stated intent and willingness to provoke a diplomatic row with its European allies, knowing full well that Western European governments’ anger would blow over because of their deep links to Israel.  After meticulous investigation and the interrogation of 2 captured Palestinian Mossad collaborators, the Dubai police chief has stated he is sure the Mossad was behind the killing.

The Larger Political Issues

Israel’s policy of overseas assassination raises profound issues that threaten the basis of the modern state:  sovereignty, rule of law and national and personal security.

Israel has a publicly-stated policy of violating the sovereignty of any and all countries in order to kill or abduct its opponents.  In both proclamation and actual practice, Israeli law, decrees and actions abroad supersede the laws and law enforcement agencies of any other nation.  If Israel’s policy becomes the common practice world-wide, we would enter a savage Hobbesian jungle in which individuals would be subject to the murderous intent of foreign assassination squads unrestrained by any law or accountable national authority.  Each and every state could impose its own laws and cross national borders in order to murder other nation’s citizens or residents with impunity.  Israel’s extra-territorial assassinations make a mockery of the very notion of national sovereignty.  Extra-territorial secret police elimination of opponents was a common practice of the Nazi Gestapo, Stalin’s GPU and Pinochet’s DINA and has now become the sanctioned practice of the US “Special Forces” and the CIA clandestine division.  Such policies are the hallmark of totalitarian, dictatorial and imperialist states, which systematically trample on the sovereign rights of peoples.

Israel’s practice of extra-judicial, extra-territorial assassinations, exemplified by the recent murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room, violates all the fundamental precepts of the rule of law.  Extra-judicial killings ordered by a state, mean its own secret police are judge, jury, prosecutor and executioner, unrestrained by sovereignty, law and the duty of nations to protect their citizens and visitors.  Evidence, legal procedures, defense and cross examinations are obliterated in the process.  State-sponsored, extra-judicial murder completely undermines due process.  Liquidation of opponents abroad is the logical next step after Israel’s domestic show trials, based on the application of its racial laws and administrative detention decrees, which have dispossessed the Palestinian people and violated international laws.

Mossad death squads operate directly under the Israeli Prime Minister (who personally approved the recent murder).The vast  majority of Israelis proudly support these assassinations, especially when the killers escape detection and capture.  The unfettered operation of foreign state-sponsored death squads, carrying out extra-judicial assassinations with impunity, is a serious threat to every critic, writer, political leader and civic activist who dares to criticize Israel.

Mossad Murders -  Zionist Fire

The precedent of Israel killing its adversaries abroad, establishes the outer boundaries of repression by its overseas supporters in the leading Zionist organizations, most of whom have now and in the past supported Israel’s violation of national sovereignty via extra-judicial killings.  If Israel physically eliminates its opponents and critics, the 51 major American Jewish organizations economically repress Israel’s critics in the US.  They actively pressure employers, university presidents and public officials to fire employees, academics and professionals who dare to speak or write against Israeli torture, killing and systematic dispossession of Palestinians.

So far, most critical comments, in Israel and elsewhere, of Mossad’s recent murder in Dubai focus on the agents’ “incompetence”, including allowing their faces to be captured on numerous security videos as they clumsily changed their wigs and costumes under the camera gaze .  Other critics complain that the bungling Mossad is “tarnishing Israel’s image” as a democratic state and providing ammunition for the anti-Semites.  None of these superficial criticisms have been repeated by the US Congress, White House or the Presidents of the Major Jewish American organizations, where the mafia rule of Omerga, or silence, reigns supreme and criminal complicity is the rule.

Conclusion

While the critics bemoan the clumsy Mossad job, making it harder for Western powers to provide Israel with diplomatic cover for its operations abroad, the fundamental issue is never addressed: The Mossad’s acquisition and alteration of official British, French, German and Irish passports of dual Israeli citizen’s underscores the cynical and sinister nature of Israel’s exploitation of its dual citizens in the pursuit of its own bloody foreign policy goals.  Mossad’s use of genuine passports issued by four sovereign European nations to its citizens in order to murder a Palestinian in a Dubai hotel room raises the question of to whom ‘dual’ Israeli citizens really owe their allegiance and just how far they are willing to go in defending or promoting Israel’s overseas assassinations.

Thanks to Israel’s use of British passports to enter Dubai and murder an adversary, every British businessperson or tourist traveling in the Middle East will be suspected of links to Israeli death squads.  With elections this year and the Labor and Conservative parties counting heavenly on Zionist millionaires for campaign funding, it remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Gordon Brown will do more than whimper and cringe!

In a move that took the financial markets by surprise, the US Federal Reserve Board on Thursday announced that, effective Friday, it was raising its discount rate by a quarter point, from 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent.

The action marked the first interest rate increase since December 2008, when, at the height of the financial crisis, the US central bank lowered its key federal funds rate to between zero and 0.25 percent and set its discount rate a quarter point higher, at 0.50 percent.

In a statement issued Thursday shortly after the close of trading in New York, the Fed insisted that the discount rate increase did not indicate a change in its policy of extremely cheap credit, but rather reflected a “continued improvement in financial market conditions.” To underscore this claim, the statement repeated the Fed’s mantra since December of 2008 that it foresaw “exceptionally low levels” of the federal funds rate for “an extended period.”

The discount rate is the interest the Fed charges for emergency loans to commercial banks. The federal funds rate is the interest charged for overnight loans between banks. The latter plays a far greater role in setting interest rates throughout the economy, affecting inter-bank loan rates, borrowing rates for businesses, mortgage rates and interest on consumer and small business loans.

But while the hike in the discount rate will not directly impact loan rates more generally, it is an unmistakable signal that the Federal Reserve is unwinding the extraordinary measures it took to pump cheap credit into the economy and bolster the housing market and consumer spending, and suggests that the central bank may begin to raise the federal funds rates sooner than had been anticipated.

The significance of the measure was underscored by its timing. Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had said the central bank would begin to raise the discount rate “soon,” but most analysts assumed such a major move would come, at the earliest, during the next meeting of the Fed’s policy-making panel, the Federal Open Market Committee (FMOC), set for March 16. By announcing the increase between meetings of the FOMC, the Fed, whether intentionally or not, seemed to impart greater significance to the change.

Whatever the near-term consequences of the discount rate hike, the action signals a turn by the Fed to disengaging from its previous policy of flooding the banks and financial markets with cash to tightening credit in order to rein in exploding federal deficits and a rapid growth in the US public debt. It parallels the moves by the Obama administration to impose austerity measures on the working class in order to pay for the multi-trillion-dollar bailout of the banks.

Significantly, the Fed’s announcement came on the same day as Obama’s appointment of a bipartisan panel to recommend severe cuts in spending and benefits under the nation’s core social programs—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The panel, headed by right-wing representatives of the two parties—Republican former senator Alan Simpson and Democratic former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles—will also propose regressive taxes on consumption to impose the full brunt of the economic crisis on the working population.

It also coincided with a report on producer prices showing a sharp rise of 1.4 percent in January. According to the Wall Street Journal, US wholesale prices are up 4.6 percent over a year ago and rising at an annual rate of 9.8 percent in the past six months.

In its Thursday statement, the Fed announced a number of additional measures to unwind programs that had been put in place to boost the financial markets. Effective March 18, the repayment period for banks taking out emergency loans from the Fed will be reduced to overnight from 28 days. The Fed also raised the minimum bid rate for loans from its Term Auction Facility—a program it instituted at the height of the credit crunch to provide cheap credit to banks—from 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. The Fed plans to end the program after its final auction on March 8.

The Fed also plans to end its purchases of mortgage-backed assets from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the end of March. This program, under which the central bank bought hundreds of billions dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities, played a major role in staving off a complete collapse in the housing market and consumer spending.

In its statement, the Fed also indicated that it might impose further hikes in the discount rate in the coming months.

The Fed went out of its way to reassure the banks that it would not end its policy of cheap credit, by raising its federal funds rate, any time soon. The major banks have reaped huge profits over the past year as a result of the Fed’s cheap credit policies, which have produced record spreads between short-term and long-term interest rates. The banks have cashed in by borrowing at extraordinarily low short-term rates and lending at far higher long-term rates, and by using their government bailouts to speculate on stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities.

When after-market trading on Thursday indicated a possible run on bank stocks when markets opened Friday, a number of top Fed officials issued statements portraying the rise in the discount rate as a technical measure that did not reflect a change in the Fed’s cheap credit policy. Largely as a result of this intervention, stocks in Europe and the US closed slightly higher on Friday.

The very fact that the Fed is portraying its discount rate hike as a response to improved economic conditions underscores the social and political priorities of the US central bank. Under conditions of near-Depression levels of unemployment, and growing poverty, hunger and homelessness, the Fed is, in effect, declaring that the time has come to impose fiscal discipline and stave off the threat of inflation by carrying out measures that will ensure a heightening of social distress.

That this is the agenda behind the Fed’s move is underlined by a series of recent statements by top Fed officials. On Tuesday, Thomas Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, gave a speech to the Pew-Peterson Commission on Budget Reform in Washington in which he called for the Fed to sell off its holdings in mortgage-backed securities—a move that would likely collapse housing prices—and demanded that the government impose draconian austerity measures.

Hoenig was the only member of the FMOC to vote against its decision last month to maintain the federal funds rate at near-zero, saying he objected to the committee’s statement reiterating a policy of “exceptionally low” interest rates for “an extended period.” According to the February 17 Financial Times, Hoenig said that “stunning” deficit projections were placing political pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates low and increasing the risk of inflation.

Instead, the newspaper reported, Hoenig said, “[T]he administration must find ways to cut spending and generate revenue. He called for a ‘reallocation of resources’ and noted that the process would be painful and politically inconvenient.”

On February 10, Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, told the World Affairs Council of Dallas-Fort Worth that interest rates on US Treasury securities had been kept artificially low by the willingness of China to buy US debt and the sovereign debt crisis of European countries such as Greece.

“We cannot count forever on the largess or the misfortune of others to mask out own imbalances here at home,” he said, “for fiscal profligacy in Washington today hinders our ability to address fiscal challenges tomorrow.”

James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, said in an interview last week that it was necessary for the Federal Reserve to consider withdrawing from its “unprecedented monetary policy” since 2008.

The demands for monetary tightening and fiscal austerity come in the midst of signs that the US debt crisis is intensifying. Foreign demand for US Treasury bonds fell by a record amount in December, with net purchases of long-term US securities declining to $63.3 billion from $126.4 billion in November. A major component of this fall was China’s selloff of $34.2 billion of its holdings in US government debt. The dumping of US bonds by China left Japan as the biggest holder of US government debt, with $768.8 billion.

US States Slash Medicaid

February 22nd, 2010 by Tom Eley

US states are imposing major cuts to Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income Americans jointly funded with the federal government. The cuts are being enacted in response to huge budget deficits in states throughout the country and a sharp increase in enrollment fuelled by the unemployment crisis.

Cuts in Medicaid services are a critical component of the attempts by the US corporate and financial elite, led by the Obama administration, to slash government health care costs and reduce care. On Thursday, Obama established a bipartisan panel whose central purpose will be to find ways to decrease spending on government health care and pension programs, including Medicaid (See, “Obama appoints panel to slash social programs”)

Some versions of the Democrats’ health care overhaul proposals include an expansion of Medicaid eligibility, but without full support for state governments. This will translate into further cuts to services and ensure that larger numbers of Americans have access only to the most limited and inadequate health care coverage, while the wealthy continue to enjoy the best care money can buy.

Enrollment in Medicaid increased by 3.3 million between June 2008 and June 2009 to nearly 47 million cases, according to a study released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Caseloads increased in every US state. In thirteen states, enrollment shot up by more than 10 percent. According to a new study by Families USA, for every 1 percentage point rise in the US unemployment rate, 1 million people become eligible for Medicaid and related programs.

With Medicaid already consuming about a fifth of most state budgets—the same as the average outlay for education—both Democrat and Republican governors and lawmakers throughout the country are insisting on deep cuts in the services provided to Medicaid recipients.

Medicaid typically provides insurance to those who fall below the official poverty level, but only within certain categories: children, pregnant women, parents of young children, the disabled, and the elderly who require nursing home care. The program’s reach varies among the states, but the majority of Americans living in poverty—three out of five according to one estimate—are not covered by Medicaid.

Because emergency federal stimulus funding for Medicaid bars states from narrowing eligibility requirements, states have instead targeted medical services and payments to doctors for cuts. In recent years the federal government paid between 50 percent and 75 percent of a state’s Medicaid costs—the poorer the state, the higher the federal proportion—but the stimulus package increased this share to between 61 percent and 85 percent, at a cost of $87 billion. These funds are set to expire at the end of December unless Congress approves a $25 billion extension.

The additional federal funds have been grossly inadequate, and every state faced Medicaid funding shortfalls in the current fiscal year, according to the Kaiser Foundation study. In response, a number of states are curtailing currently covered “non-essential” services.

Nevada’s Republican governor, Jim Gibbons, has proposed cutting all Medicaid funding for adult coverage of eyeglasses, dentures, and hearing aids. In order to save about $830,000, the state will also “reduce the number of diapers provided monthly to incontinent adults (to 186 from 300),” the New York Times reports.

Massachusetts will eliminate coverage for restorative dental service. Last year a similar revocation of dental coverage in Michigan led to the death of a 76-year-old woman, Blanche D. LaVire, who had been diagnosed with abscesses and advanced periodontitis that required surgery. She died while waiting for state bureaucracies to approve an exception due to a mental health condition. (See, “Michigan woman dies after Medicaid dental care is cut”).

Michigan, which eliminated not only dental but vision benefits for adult Medicaid recipients in fiscal year 2010, is considering a bevy of new cuts for 2011, including mental health services, prescription drug coverage, treatment for deformities, and artificial limbs.

Similarly, New Mexico’s Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, is proposing cuts to Medicaid that could include prescription drug coverage, vision and dental care, hospice care for near-death patients, and physical therapy.

Maine is moving to limit outpatient mental health visits for adult Medicaid recipients to 18 per year and to cap outpatient hospital visits at 15 per year.

Many more states have reduced the amount that they pay to doctors, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes who treat Medicaid recipients. Already Medicaid is rejected by many health care providers because it tends to pay at a level far below private insurance and Medicare. These reimbursement cuts ensure that fewer Medicaid patients will be able to find treatment, and those clinics and hospitals that do so will be further driven to reduce costs and quality.

Among the states likely to enact major cuts for Medicaid reimbursement are New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maine, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Virginia, and Vermont. Maine is contemplating a 10 percent across-the-board cut, and New York Governor David Paterson is proposing to slash $400 million from Medicaid reimbursement.

After Kansas’s Democratic governor, Mark Parkinson, imposed a 10 percent cut in provider payments beginning January 1, Dr. C. Joseph Beck, a Wichita ophthalmologist, ended treatment for his Medicaid patients. “I’m out, I’m done,” Dr. Beck told the New York Times. “I didn’t want to. I want to take care of people. But I also have three children and many employees to take care of.”

Some states are cutting essential services that, by triggering the removal of federal matching funds, will effectively double the funding cut. Tennessee’s Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen, is proposing cuts that would set up a $10,000 limit on inpatient hospital care, a sum easily surpassed by serious car accidents, heart attacks, and treatment for serious illnesses. Bredesen would also impose limits on specific hospital services, including X-rays, laboratory services and doctor’s office visits, the Times reports.

Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, has proposed kicking 310,000 adults without dependent children off Medicaid rolls and scrapping the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program that secures federal matching funds for states that subsidize health insurance for children from low-income households that earn more than the income cutoff for Medicaid. The state has already frozen enrollment in CHIP.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed reducing adult eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, from 133 percent to approximately 72 percent of the official poverty threshold, and to reduce eligibility for children and pregnant women from 200 percent to 133 percent of the poverty level. If enacted, these restrictions would cost an estimated 250,000 people their health insurance within six months.

Schwarzenegger has also threatened to end the state’s CHIP program, Healthy Families. The cut would affect nearly 900,000 children now enrolled in the program. California lawmakers are already moving to cut eligibility in CHIP from 250 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level and to impose increased premiums of $14 per child, even as private insurance costs in the state skyrocket. The legislature will also likely eliminate CHIP vision coverage.

The cuts enacted against Medicaid and CHIPS will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable sections of the population, especially children.

Yet America’s children are in desperate need of high-quality health care. According to a recent study whose results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, over half of all US children will suffer from a chronic illness during their childhoods, a two-thirds increase since the 1980s. Much of the increase is associated with obesity, asthma, and diabetes, conditions strongly linked to poverty and other environmental factors. (See, “Majority of US children suffer chronic health conditions, study says”)

The reductions to Medicaid services and providers, even as the program’s rolls swell, demonstrates the basic incompatibility of the right to decent health care with the profit drive of America’s financial aristocracy. Having enriched themselves before, during, and after the financial crisis of their own making, the financial elite—acting through their two parties—are now demanding “tough choices” and “discipline” by cutting what remains of the nation’s limited social safety net.

Washington – Seven in 10 Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons, according to a new national poll.

Friday’s release of the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey comes just hours after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Islamic republic isn’t seeking and doesn’t believe in pursuing nuclear weapons. Khamenei was responding to a draft United Nations report that said that Iran may be working to develop a nuclear weapon.

The poll indicates that 71 percent of the public says Iran has nuclear weapons, with just over one in four disagreeing. More than six in ten think the U.S. should take economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down their nuclear program, with only a quarter calling for immediate military action.

Full results (pdf)

“But if economic and diplomatic efforts fail, support for military action rises to 59 percent, with only 39 percent opposing military action under those circumstances,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey also indicates that support is dropping for how President Obama handled the attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, but the change seems unrelated to the controversy over reading the suspect his rights. In early January, 57 percent of the public approved of how Obama reacted to that incident, but that figure has dropped 12 points, with 47 percent now saying they disapprove of how Obama handled the situation.

“Critics have asserted that the FBI should not have read Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab his Miranda rights. But two-thirds think the FBI should have told AbdulMutallab that he had the right to remain silent, and 56 percent say that the FBI should do that with any terrorist suspect in custody,” adds Holland.

But according to the poll, nearly six in ten continue to believe that the suspect should be tried in a military court, not a civilian court.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

‘Netanyahu Authorized Dubai Assassination’

February 22nd, 2010 by Global Research

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly authorized the assassination of senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh early January in Tel Aviv. 

According to a report published by Times Online Netanyahu held a meeting with Mossad chief Meir Dagan in early January inside the briefing room of the headquarters of the spy agency where “some members of a hit squad” were also present. 

Citing Mossad sources, the report said “as the man who gives final authorization for such operations, Netanyahu was briefed on plans to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.” 

Sources said Mossad had received intelligence that the Hamas commander was planning a Dubai trip and they started preparing for an operation to assassinate him. 

“The team had already rehearsed, using a hotel in Tel Aviv as a training ground without alerting its owners,” according to the report. 

Thanks to Dubai’s extensive system of CCTV cameras, the work of the assassination team was revealed. 

Dubai police released the identities of 11 people carrying European passports, including six Britons, three Irish and two French and German, who allegedly were Mossad agents carrying fake European documents. 

Interpol has issued “red notices” for the 11 suspects to help find and arrest them anywhere in its 188 member countries. 

Dubai police also threatened earlier to arrest Netanyahu, if it determined that Mossad was behind the assassination. 

It appears that, the International Atomic Energy Agency is at least allowing for the possibility that documents allegedly found on a laptop some years ago –but discounted by the  CIA  and the DIA as of dubious provenance and incompatible with other intelligence gathered in Iran — point to a nuclear weapons program that no one has been able to locate. 

Some close observers have concluded that the laptop documents are forgeries. A new IAEA report that declines to dismiss the alleged documents will certainly cause the war lobby in the United States to redouble its efforts to get up an attack on Iran.

Forged documents on the supposed purchase of yellowcake uranium by Iraq from Niger were used by George W. Bush to promote a war on Iraq. It was at that time the Intelligence and Research division of the Department of State that attempted to throw cold water on these “documents,” but was ignored by the president. Then head of the IAEA, Mohammed Elbaradei, was able to show them false in one afternoon. 

The UN inspectors have a right to be frustrated with Iran, which has allowed inspections of its Natanz nuclear enrichment site, but which has not been completely transparent or adhered to the letter of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the sum of those frustrations does not point to a nuclear weapons program, unlike the disputed laptop documents. In statements to the press this fall, US intelligence officials have said that they stand behind the conclusions first reached in 2007, that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

The Obama administration wants stricter sanctions on Iran, and the Sarah Palin/ Daniel Pipes lunatic fringe wants a military attack on Iran.

But Russia’s General of the Army Nikolay Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, warned that an American attack on Iran now, when the US is bogged down in two wars, might well lead to the collapse of the United States. He said that such an attack would roil the region and have negative consequences for Russia (a neighbor of Iran via the Caspian Sea). And, he said, the Russian military is taking steps to forestall such an American strike on Iran. Makarov made the remarks in Vzglyad on Friday, February 19, 2010, and they were translated or paraphrased by the USG Open Source Center:

Makarov also commented on the recent rumors about the possibility of an attack upon Iran by the United States. In his opinion, this would be complete madness on the part of the American military. He said: “Admiral Michael McMullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said that, in the United States, there is a plan for carrying out strikes against Iran but the United States clearly understands that now, when it is conducting two military campaigns, one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan, a third campaign against Iran would simply lead to a collapse. It would not be able to withstand the strain.”

Nevertheless, in proportion to the winding down of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, (the plan for) a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the opinion of General Makarov, may again come out to the foreground.

General Makarov, Chief of the General Staff, said: “The consequences of such an attack will be terrible not only for the region but also for us. Iran is our neighbor and we are very carefully following this situation. The leadership of our country is undertaking all measures in order not to allow such a (military) development of events.” 

The less potentially catastrophic path, tougher United Nations Security Council sanctions, however, depend on Russia and China going along. Despite Washington’s optimism that Russia is softening toward the idea of stricter sanctions, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cast the severest doubts on that idea on Friday.

In a radio interview on Friday with Ekho Moskvy Radio, which was translated by the USG Open Source Center, Lavrov was asked, “What is the situation with Iran’s foreign policy today? And is it true that we now have as a whole a united position with the United States on Iran?”

The foreign minister replied, “I don’t think that we have a united position.” He said that both Washington and Moscow agree on the importance of not allowing “a violation of the regime of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.” He said the two countries have the same position on this issue, “although we do not coincide 100 per cent in methods of implementing it.”

So what Lavrov is saying is that the US and Russia do not actually have a common position or agree on really tough sanctions. They just both have a vague similar position that proliferation is bad.

Lavrov said that Moscow’s independent stance toward Iran is rooted in the two countries’ historical relationship as well as in Russian desire to get Iranian cooperation on such issues as the disposition of resources in the Caspian Sea. (For a quick overview of Russian-Iranian relations, see N.M. Mamedova, who also mentions Iran’s tacit support for Russia against Georgia in the Caucasus.) Lavrov said:

But Iran for us, unlike the US, is a close neighbour, a country with which we have had a very long, historically conditioned relationship, a country with which we cooperate in the economic, humanitarian and military-technology fields alike and, let me note this particularly, a country that is our partner in the Caspian along with three other Caspian littoral states. 

Therefore, we are not at all indifferent to what happens in Iran and around it. This applies to our economic interests and our security interests alike. This also applies . . . to the task of early settlement of the legal status of the Caspian Sea, which is not an easy task and in the approaches to which the Iranian position is close enough to ours.

Therefore, speaking of the proliferation threats, yes, we are concerned about Iran’s reaction. 

Lavrov is less convinced there is anything sinister about Iran’s civilian nuclear research, though he admits that questions remain:

in the process of work, questions arose both from the IAEA’s inspectors themselves and on the basis of the intelligence which the IAEA obtains from various countries. They were questions that aroused suspicion as to whether there might in reality be some military aspects to Iran’s nuclear programme.

These questions were presented to the Iranians, as required by the procedures applicable in such cases. And, some time ago, Iran answered most of them. In principle, its answers were satisfactory, in a way that was considered by the professionals in Vienna normal. However, some of the questions are still on the table. 

So Lavrov thinks Iran’s answers are largely ‘satisfactory,’ though there remain small areas of uncertainty.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Moscow earlier this week calling for ‘crippling sanctions on Iran.’ Lavrov’s remarks clearly indicated that Moscow disagreed that that situation was so perilous as to call for such a step.

But just to be sure there was no misunderstanding, Lavrov sent out his own deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, to denounce any such talk.

Ryabkov said, according to Xinhua, “The term ‘crippling sanctions’ on Iran is totally unacceptable to us. The sanctions should aim at strengthening the regime of non- proliferation . . . We certainly cannot talk about sanctions that could be interpreted as punishment on the whole country and its people for some actions or inaction . . . ” He said that Russia sought to settle differences with Iran through dialogue and engagement. He also pledged that Russia would honor its deal to provide Iran S-300 air defense systems. He said, “There is a contract to supply these systems to Iran and we will fulfil it. The delays are linked to technical problems with adjusting these systems . . . “

So on Friday, even as the hawks in Washington watered at the mouth at the prospect of being able to use the new IAEA report as a basis for belligerency against Iran, Russia’s foreign policy establishment was engaged in a whirlwind of activity aimed at challenging the notion that Moscow is in Washington’s back pocket on Iran sanctions. The chief of staff predicted American collapse in an Iran conflagration, and vowed in any case to try to block any such attack. The foreign minister pronounced himself largely but not completely satisfied with Iran’s answers concerning its nuclear activities, and underlined that Russia needs Iran because of Caspian issues (and he could have added, because of Caucasus and Central Asian ones). And then the deputy foreign minister was enlisted to slap Netanyahu around a little, presumably on the theory that it would sting less coming from someone with ‘deputy’ in his title.

Those who have argued that Russia’s increasing willingness to acquiesce in tougher UNSC sanctions might influence China to go along, too, should rethink. Russia doesn’t seem all that aboard with a brutal sanctions regime. China not only has its own reasons not to want its own deals with Iran to be declared illegal, but its leaders doubt Iran has the capacity to construct a nuclear warhead anytime soon.

Postscript: The head of Iran’s nuclear program, interviewed on Aljazeera, warns the US against pressuring Iran.

John Ricardo I. “Juan” Cole (born October 1952) is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia.  He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.

Is Iran a Threat to the Western World?

February 22nd, 2010 by Sherwood Ross

Well may Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warn students in Qatar that “Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship.” She is, after all, an authority on the subject, representing a country where the Pentagon has long been ascendant. Her comment was followed up by Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s press secretary, who, at a February 16th news conference refused to deny the possibility of the U.S. taking military action against Iran, stating, “I wouldn’t rule out anything.” As anti-war activist David Swanson ofAfterDowningStreet points out, this is “a public threat to engage in aggressive war…” The Charter of the United Nations forbids such threats, of course.

Writing for “Truthout,” Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, of Washington, D.C., believes Ms. Clinton’s intent “is to promote conflict and to convince Americans that Iran is an actual threat to their security.” This has long been Clinton’s policy. During her presidential bid in 2008 she said she would be willing to use nuclear weapons against Iran if that country launched a nuclear attack on Israel.

Ms. Clinton finds it convenient to ring the fire bell warning that Iran is developing its first nuclear device when the U.S. is sitting on a stockpile of 12,000 such bombs, and ally Israel—-which has rejected international monitoring and controls of its atomic arsenal—has an estimated 200 nukes.  Former President Jimmy Carter writes “the United States has become the prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation”—yet, incredibly, Ms. Clinton is threatening Iran on this very issue.

Does Ms. Clinton expect gullible Americans to believe Iran might commit national suicide if it actually did make a nuclear weapon (Iran claims the development is for peaceful purposes) and then launched it in a war against Israel? Not only does Israel’s military power dwarf Iran, which has a military budget is $18 billion, but USA with an annual warfare budget of $700 billion, arms, equips, and stands right behind Israel.

Instead of worrying that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship, Ms. Clinton might compare Iran’s “aggressive” policies with those of her own country.

First off, Iran’s army has not invaded Mexico on the lie that Mexico had WMD that threatened Iran, half way across the world. Nor has Iran invaded Canada on grounds Canada allowed terrorists there to train to attack Iran. However, the U.S. has invaded two of Iran’s neighbors, Afghanistan to the East and Iraq to the West on just such flimsy excuses. The Pentagon has also pressured a third Iranian neighbor, Pakistan, to allow it to operate in that country. Iranians might be pardoned for suspecting the U.S. deployment represents a geographic pincer operation.

Secondly, while Iran is not known to have infiltrated any Imperial Guards into the USA, the Pentagon’s Special Forces have been “on the ground” in Iran since at least the Summer of 2004, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker. Hersh said then President Bush’s Pentagon scouts were marking down the location of military installations and quoted one Pentagon consultant as telling him, “The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible.” It might also be recalled the CIA overthrew the elected government of Iran in 1953 and installed a dictatorship.

As if its roughly 1,000 military bases in the United States aren’t enough, the Pentagon has established 800 bases in 130 nations to project its power around the world. Very revealing is its refusal to return to their native populations the islands of Okinawa in the Pacific and Diego Garcia in Indian ocean.

The Pentagon operates 11 giant aircraft carriers and 11 amphibious assault ships as part of its nearly 300-ship fleet. These intimidating floating bases are armed with tactical nuclear weapons that can be delivered by some of its 3,700 warplanes to any point in the globe. It also operates 70 attack submarines to project its power globally. With its 500,000 personnel, the U.S. Navy is larger than that of the next 13 countries combined.

The Pentagon continues its risky, germ warfare research program. Since October, 2001, a compliant Congress has voted roughly $50 billion for this purpose in the absence of any threat from a foreign country. The only significant anthrax attack on the U.S.—against two liberal U.S. Senators and some media personnel—was found to originate from the Ft. Detrick, Md., a Pentagon installation. No trials ever resulted.

The Pentagon not only operates spy satellites to provide it with universal real-time information, it is also in violation of U.S. treaty obligations against militarizing space with a variety of schemes in the works, including deadly laser beams and the so-called “Rods From God” that can hurl non-nuclear devastation down upon any location on the planet. The Pentagon plays a prominent role among the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies, which employ an estimated 200,000 workers at a cost of $75 billion a year.

The Pentagon commonly has about $1 trillion in new death weapons’ research underway at any given time. Much of the best scientific talent in the country is being devoted to death science that is offensive, not defensive. Imagine how this money might be spent devoted to medical science!

The Pentagon is training security forces in scores of nations. Through its infamous School of the Americas it taught torture techniques to Latin military personnel. It has worked actively with numerous dictatorships that suppress the liberties of their people, such as the Kopassus Red Berets of Indonesia, the unit that ravaged East Timor.

The Pentagon is the world leading arms exporter. It authorizes tens of billions of dollars in weapons sales annually to India, Pakistan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Taiwan, and Poland, among others. By one estimate, the U.S. is responsible for 70 per cent of the world’s $55 billion in weapons’ sales.

In actions that reveal its dark side and disregard for human rights and life, the Pentagon has been jailing without due process tens of thousands of “terror” suspects around the globe, torturing and murdering many. To date, not one high-level Army officer has been tried and convicted for these crimes. Does it not appear to you that the Pentagon brass are above the law?

To crown it all, the total outlay for all Pentagon and spywar activities this year will be greater than all the funds spent by all 50 state governments for the health, education, and welfare of their 300 million citizens. The Pentagon alone is gobbling up 53 per cent of the nation’s discretionary income. Writes James Carroll in “House of War,”(Houghton Mifflin): “The Pentagon is now the dead center of an open-ended martial enterprise that no longer pretends to be defense…the Pentagon has, more than ever, become a place to fear.”

In short, the Pentagon is out to strengthen its commanding military domination over the entire planet, on land, air, sea, and in outer space. Given its history of aggressive warfare and growing influence in America, it is ludicrous for Ms. Clinton to point the finger at Iran! The Secretary of State—who is so divorced from reality she once falsely claimed she came under sniper fire at a peaceful welcome ceremony in Bosnia in 1996—wouldn’t know an incipient military dictatorship if it was breathing down her neck. It may not be Iran, either. It may be the one headquartered on the banks of the Potomac only a couple of miles from her office at Foggy Bottom.                      

Sherwood Ross, who formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News, is a Miami, Fla., public relations executive for good causes. Reach him at [email protected]

For Argentineans the long simmering territorial dispute between Britain and Argentina is coming to a head, as a British oil rig travels to what analysts say is a 60 billion barrel reserve of high-grade oil located in a 200 square mile zone surrounding the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands. This would make it one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Argentina had instituted a naval embargo of the islands but has recently permitted the oil rig to land in Port Stanley, capital of the island.

The delivery and installation of the oil rig will substantially alter the fundamental economic character of the disputed islands from fishing and sheep-raising to the exploitation of one of the world’s most sought after commodities: petroleum. The exploitative economic character Britain is unilaterally imposing exacerbates the national tensions between Argentina and Britain. This conflict has brought the relationship between the two countries to their sharpest point since the 1982 war over the Islands.

The Argentine government of President Christina Kirschner is set to bring the matter before the United Nations Security Council and is mustering its diplomatic resources to bring this matter to a negotiated end. In addition, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has correctly demanded that Britain cede the Malvinas: “The British are desperate for oil since their own fields in the North Sea are now being depleted,” Chavez said in a televised speech. “When will England stop breaking international law? Return the Malvinas to Argentina!” Argentina and Venezuela are both members of Mercosur, the common market covering much of South America.

The Anti-Imperialist Character of the Conflict

This conflict is not, however, a simple land dispute or even an oil resource dispute. The question of the return of the Malvinas Islands is an explosive national issue for most Argentines, who see the haughty imperial occupation and colonization of their islands as symbolic of their nation’s relationship to western imperialism. Argentina is a country whose national wealth is sapped by the wealthiest financiers of London, Madrid, and New York City. The vast majority of the Argentine people view the continued occupation of the Malvinas Islands by Britain as a fundamental injustice. Argentina attempted to seize the islands in 1982 but was defeated by the British after a short-lived, but bloody re-occupation of the colonial outpost. The conflict resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths with two-thirds of the dead from the Argentine military. The invasion was a military disaster for Argentina and a stunning loss in the fight against imperialism which bolstered the fanatical anticommunism of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Then, too, the conflict was bathed in the waters of the Nicaraguan Revolution, the Grenadian revolution, and the civil war in El Salvador, not to mention the U.S.’ sponsored swath of counter-revolutions in Chile and Argentina.

Despite the failure of the Argentine military in 1982, the question still must be answered: What right does Britain have to a colony in the South Atlantic 7,800 miles from London? Britain claims it has the right to defend “self determination” when this seems as a convenient cover for British interests in the expansion of its capital. In keeping with this, the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, the local governing body for the 3,000 plus residents of the Falklands, announced on February 5, that it would oppose any Argentine firm exploring for oil in the territory.

21st Century Colonialism or 21st Century Socialism

The British, French, Dutch, or U.S. governments have no business maintaining colonies in South America, or anywhere else on the globe. The Malvinas are properly Argentine territory, and workers in Britain have no interest in maintaining the old Empire territorial claims that Labor and Tory governments, including those of Thatcher, Blair and Brown, have vigorously defended.

In this sense the Falkland Islands are no different than returning Hong Kong to the Peoples Republic of China, India to the Indians, or Ireland to the Irish. What seemingly complicates the matter is that there are virtually no Argentine nationals on the Falklands. The local residents vigorously support continued British control, much like the reactionary Unionists of Northern Ireland.

Central America, South America, and the Caribbean are dotted with direct colonial possessions of the United States (Puerto Rico, American Virgin Islands), Britain (British Virgin Islands, etc.), the Netherlands (Curacao, Dutch West Indies), and France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana). With the century-long occupation of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as examples, it is clear that the United States has no genuine inclination toward the establishment of democracy or independence for the remaining subjugated nations of this region.

Administration after administration prattles on about democracy in countries with which it is interested in interfering. Yet the actions of the U.S. government, whether those run by Democrats or Republicans, while courting figures like the Dalai Lama, are intractable in their overlord status in Puerto Rico. The disgusting example of Vieques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, comes to mind. The U.S. has shelled the island for decades as a military training ground. The U.S. refuses to clean up the dangerous waste, which includes carcinogenic pollutants and unexploded ordinance. This has led to absurdly high levels of cancer on Vieques.

Meanwhile, against this backdrop of unresolved colonialism, a new social power is emerging, the resurgent continental resistance to imperialism by Central and South American working people in recent years. A prime example of this is the movement that has thrust the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela to move sharply to the left in the direction of socialism. The specter of social revolution is haunting the oligarchies of South America and the imperialists of the northern hemisphere. The crisis in the South Atlantic cannot be seen outside the context of one imperialist provocation against this process: the military buildup in Colombia against Venezuela, the U.S.-backed separatist movements in Bolivia, the U.S.-sponsored removal of President Zelaya in Honduras, and the influx of U.S. and other imperialist troops in Haiti.

The Anti-Imperialist Potential of the Crisis

The overwhelming anti-imperialist sentiments of the Argentine working class could be ignited into mass action by the British provocation. Given the historic militancy of the working class in Argentina, which propelled hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets to demand economic relief from the government in response to the economic crisis of 2000-2001, one president after another was forced to leave office. Consequently, the Kirschner government will have to act boldly if it is to stay in power.

However, the capitalist government of Argentina is tied hand and foot to the imperialists it is attempting to challenge. President Cristina Kirchner, whose political support includes the businesses and bankers who are in large part dominated by British financial interests, may find it difficult to be successful with her government’s diplomatic efforts or with an attempt at a semi-military blockade of the islands.

Argentina has long been dominated by British capitalism. The direct occupation of the Malvinas Islands by the British only serves to underscore the position of Argentina as a neo-colonial subject nation. A working class upsurge opposed to further British machinations would in all likelihood expose the country’s subjugation at the hands of British imperialism and lay the blame squarely in the Argentine government’s inability and or unwillingness to seize the islands.

Working Class Unity is Critical to Defeat Imperialism

Imperialism can be defeated and will be defeated only when workers politically unite and act independently of their own capitalist-controlled governments so as to lead their respective nations in taking successful actions in defense of the right of all countries to self-determination. One possible action that could be promoted would be to attempt to unite American, British, and Argentine dockworkers with other South American port workers in refusing to load or unload shipments of oil equipment or military related cargo to or from the Falklands. If the British and U.S. workers do not take a stand in support of their Argentine brothers and sisters, there is no reason Argentines should wait. South American workers could demand a halt to all these type of shipments.

It is unlikely that once pushed into independent political action the working class will resume their subservient political role in Argentine politics. The question of working class power was raised in recent Argentine history when workers in 2000 to 2002 took over many workplaces, the streets, the national plaza, highways and even towns.

What about the Falklanders?

As for the Falkland residents themselves, they, too, are unfortunate victims of British Imperialism. Although many families have lived for generations on the islands, the illegitimacy of Britain’s claim has been well known for over a century. Falkland laws against Argentine interests must be voided by the Falklanders themselves if they wish to be on the right side of history.

The Falklander’s parochial interests are secondary to the basic question of national self-determination and sovereignty of Argentina. The Falklanders are not a separate nation from Britain. They are its colonists. Their fear of domination by Argentina is a foil for British economic interests. Britain’s capitalist elite has little regard for its subjects when its economic interests are at stake. It did not grant the millions of residents of Hong Kong the right to elect its own leaders when it was in its interests to secede the Territory to the Peoples Republic of China. Nor ultimately will it consider the interests of the residents of the Falklands equal to their own economic interests.

A victory in the Malvinas for the Argentine working people would be like a beacon for South and Central America’s long and incomplete fight for territorial and political independence from imperialism.

About the Malvinas Islands (Falklands)

The Malvinas Islands lie approximately 300 miles from the coast of Argentina.

Its land mass is comparable to Connecticut.

Argentina has always claimed these islands and challenged British claims to colonial possession.

The non-military resident population is just over 3,100, 70% of whom are British descendents. The British Empire seized the islands from the Argentine government in 1833.

The Malvinas were captured by the British Empire in 1833, as South American was beginning to oust the Spanish and Portuguese Empires claims to South America. Britain eventually colonized the Malvinas with British subjects, and renamed them the “Falklands.”

The rugged islands were mainly devoted to raising sheep until oil exploration pointed to petroleum reserves in 1998.

Adam Richmond is a writer and webmaster for Workers Action. In 2000, he was the originator of the Argentina Solidarity Committee. He can be reached at [email protected].

Debt Dynamite Dominoes: The Coming Financial Catastrophe

February 22nd, 2010 by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Understanding the Nature of the Global Economic Crisis

The people have been lulled into a false sense of safety under the ruse of a perceived “economic recovery.” Unfortunately, what the majority of people think does not make it so, especially when the people making the key decisions think and act to the contrary. The sovereign debt crises that have been unfolding in the past couple years and more recently in Greece, are canaries in the coal mine for the rest of Western “civilization.” The crisis threatens to spread to Spain, Portugal and Ireland; like dominoes, one country after another will collapse into a debt and currency crisis, all the way to America.

In October 2008, the mainstream media and politicians of the Western world were warning of an impending depression if actions were not taken to quickly prevent this. The problem was that this crisis had been a long-time coming, and what’s worse, is that the actions governments took did not address any of the core, systemic issues and problems with the global economy; they merely set out to save the banking industry from collapse. To do this, governments around the world implemented massive “stimulus” and “bailout” packages, plunging their countries deeper into debt to save the banks from themselves, while charging it to people of the world.

Then an uproar of stock market speculation followed, as money was pumped into the stocks, but not the real economy. This recovery has been nothing but a complete and utter illusion, and within the next two years, the illusion will likely come to a complete collapse.

The governments gave the banks a blank check, charged it to the public, and now it’s time to pay; through drastic tax increases, social spending cuts, privatization of state industries and services, dismantling of any protective tariffs and trade regulations, and raising interest rates. The effect that this will have is to rapidly accelerate, both in the speed and volume, the unemployment rate, globally. The stock market would crash to record lows, where governments would be forced to freeze them altogether.

When the crisis is over, the middle classes of the western world will have been liquidated of their economic, political and social status. The global economy will have gone through the greatest consolidation of industry and banking in world history leading to a system in which only a few corporations and banks control the global economy and its resources; governments will have lost that right. The people of the western world will be treated by the financial oligarchs as they have treated the ‘global South’ and in particular, Africa; they will remove our social structures and foundations so that we become entirely subservient to their dominance over the economic and political structures of our society.

This is where we stand today, and is the road on which we travel.

The western world has been plundered into poverty, a process long underway, but with the unfolding of the crisis, will be rapidly accelerated. As our societies collapse in on themselves, the governments will protect the banks and multinationals. When the people go out into the streets, as they invariably do and will, the government will not come to their aid, but will come with police and military forces to crush the protests and oppress the people. The social foundations will collapse with the economy, and the state will clamp down to prevent the people from constructing a new one.

The road to recovery is far from here. When the crisis has come to an end, the world we know will have changed dramatically. No one ever grows up in the world they were born into; everything is always changing. Now is no exception. The only difference is, that we are about to go through the most rapid changes the world has seen thus far.

Assessing the Illusion of Recovery

In August of 2009, I wrote an article, Entering the Greatest Depression in History, in which I analyzed how there is a deep systemic crisis in the Capitalist system in which we have gone through merely one burst bubble thus far, the housing bubble, but there remains a great many others.

There remains as a significantly larger threat than the housing collapse, a commercial real estate bubble. As the Deutsche Bank CEO said in May of 2009, “It’s either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning.”

Of even greater significance is what has been termed the “bailout bubble” in which governments have superficially inflated the economies through massive debt-inducing bailout packages. As of July of 2009, the government watchdog and investigator of the US bailout program stated that the U.S. may have put itself at risk of up to $23.7 trillion dollars.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Entering the Greatest Depression in History. Global Research: August 7, 2009]

In October of 2009, approximately one year following the “great panic” of 2008, I wrote an article titled, The Economic Recovery is an Illusion, in which I analyzed what the most prestigious and powerful financial institution in the world, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), had to say about the crisis and “recovery.”

The BIS, as well as its former chief economist, who had both correctly predicted the crisis that unfolded in 2008, were warning of a future crisis in the global economy, citing the fact that none of the key issues and structural problems with the economy had been changed, and that government bailouts may do more harm than good in the long run.

William White, former Chief Economist of the BIS, warned:

The world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession. [He] warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Economic Recovery is an Illusion. Global Research: October 3, 2009]

Crying Wolf or Castigating Cassandra?

While people were being lulled into a false sense of security, prominent voices warning of the harsh bite of reality to come were, instead of being listened to, berated and pushed aside by the mainstream media. Gerald Celente, who accurately predicted the economic crisis of 2008 and who had been warning of a much larger crisis to come, had been accused by the mainstream media of pushing “pessimism porn.”[1] Celente’s response has been that he isn’t pushing “pessimism porn,” but that he refuses to push “optimism opium” of which the mainstream media does so outstandingly.

So, are these voices of criticism merely “crying wolf” or is it that the media is out to “castigate Cassandra”? Cassandra, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, who was granted by the God Apollo the gift of prophecy. She prophesied and warned the Trojans of the Trojan Horse, the death of Agamemnon and the destruction of Troy. When she warned the Trojans, they simply cast her aside as “mad” and did not heed her warnings.

While those who warn of a future economic crisis may not have been granted the gift of prophecy from Apollo, they certainly have the ability of comprehension.

So what do the Cassandras of the world have to say today? Should we listen?

Empire and Economics

To understand the global economic crisis, we must understand the global causes of the economic crisis. We must first determine how we got to the initial crisis, from there, we can critically assess how governments responded to the outbreak of the crisis, and thus, we can determine where we currently stand, and where we are likely headed.

Africa and much of the developing world was released from the socio-political-economic restraints of the European empires throughout the 1950s and into the 60s. Africans began to try to take their nations into their own hands. At the end of World War II, the United States was the greatest power in the world. It had command of the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF, as well as setting up the NATO military alliance. The US dollar reigned supreme, and its value was tied to gold.

In 1954, Western European elites worked together to form an international think tank called the Bilderberg Group, which would seek to link the political economies of Western Europe and North America. Every year, roughly 130 of the most powerful people in academia, media, military, industry, banking, and politics would meet to debate and discuss key issues related to the expansion of Western hegemony over the world and the re-shaping of world order. They undertook, as one of their key agendas, the formation of the European Union and the Euro currency unit.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve. Global Research: August 3, 2009]

In 1971, Nixon abandoned the dollar’s link to gold, which meant that the dollar no longer had a fixed exchange rate, but would change according to the whims and choices of the Federal Reserve (the central bank of the United States).  One key individual that was responsible for this choice was the third highest official in the U.S. Treasury Department at the time, Paul Volcker.[2]

Volcker got his start as a staff economist at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in the early 50s. After five years there, “David Rockefeller’s Chase Bank lured him away.”[3] So in 1957, Volcker went to work at Chase, where Rockefeller “recruited him as his special assistant on a congressional commission on money and credit in America and for help, later, on an advisory commission to the Treasury Department.”[4] In the early 60s, Volcker went to work in the Treasury Department, and returned to Chase in 1965 “as an aide to Rockefeller, this time as vice president dealing with international business.” With Nixon entering the White House, Volcker got the third highest job in the Treasury Department. This put him at the center of the decision making process behind the dissolution of the Bretton Woods agreement by abandoning the dollar’s link to gold in 1971.[5]

In 1973, David Rockefeller, the then-Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank and President of the Council on Foreign Relations, created the Trilateral Commission, which sought to expand upon the Bilderberg Group. It was an international think tank, which would include elites from Western Europe, North America, and Japan, and was to align a “trilateral” political economic partnership between these regions. It was to further the interests and hegemony of the Western controlled world order.

That same year, the Petri-dish experiment of neoliberalism was undertaken in Chile. While a leftist government was coming to power in Chile, threatening the economic interests of not only David Rockefeller’s bank, but a number of American corporations, David Rockefeller set up meetings between Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Adviser, and a number of leading corporate industrialists. Kissinger in turn, set up meetings between these individuals and the CIA chief and Nixon himself. Within a short while, the CIA had begun an operation to topple the government of Chile.

On September 11, 1973, a Chilean General, with the help of the CIA, overthrew the government of Chile and installed a military dictatorship that killed thousands. The day following the coup, a plan for an economic restructuring of Chile was on the president’s desk. The economic advisers from the University of Chicago, where the ideas of Milton Freidman poured out, designed the restructuring of Chile along neoliberal lines.

Neoliberalism was thus born in violence.

In 1973, a global oil crisis hit the world. This was the result of the Yom Kippur War, which took place in the Middle East in 1973. However, much more covertly, it was an American strategem. Right when the US dropped the dollar’s peg to gold, the State Department had quietly begun pressuring Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations to increase the price of oil. At the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, held six months before the oil price rises, a 400% increase in the price of oil was discussed. The discussion was over what to do with the large influx of what would come to be called “petrodollars,” the oil revenues of the OPEC nations.

Henry Kissinger worked behind the scenes in 1973 to ensure a war would take place in the Middle East, which happened in October. Then, the OPEC nations drastically increased the price of oil. Many newly industrializing nations of the developing world, free from the shackles of overt political and economic imperialism, suddenly faced a problem: oil is the lifeblood of an industrial society and it is imperative in the process of development and industrialization. If they were to continue to develop and industrialize, they would need the money to afford to do so.

Concurrently, the oil producing nations of the world were awash with petrodollars, bringing in record surpluses. However, to make a profit, the money would need to be invested. This is where the Western banking system came to the scene. With the loss of the dollar’s link to cold, the US currency could flow around the world at a much faster rate. The price of oil was tied to the price of the US dollar, and so oil was traded in US dollars. OPEC nations thus invested their oil money into Western banks, which in turn, would “recycle” that money by loaning it to the developing nations of the world in need of financing industrialization. It seemed like a win-win situation: the oil nations make money, invest it in the West, which loans it to the South, to be able to develop and build “western” societies.

However, all things do not end as fairy tales, especially when those in power are threatened. An industrialized and developed ‘Global South’ (Latin America, Africa, and parts of Asia) would not be a good thing for the established Western elites. If they wanted to maintain their hegemony over the world, they must prevent the rise of potential rivals, especially in regions so rich in natural resources and the global supplies of energy.

It was at this time that the United States initiated talks with China. The “opening” of China was to be a Western project of expanding Western capital into China. China will be allowed to rise only so much as the West allows it. The Chinese elite were happy to oblige with the prospect of their own growth in political and economic power. India and Brazil also followed suit, but to a smaller degree than that of China. China and India were to brought within the framework of the Trilateral partnership, and in time, both China and India would have officials attending meetings of the Trilateral Commission.

So money flowed around the world, primarily in the form of the US dollar. Foreign central banks would buy US Treasuries (debts) as an investment, which would also show faith in the strength of the US dollar and economy. The hegemony of the US dollar reached around the world.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve. Global Research: August 3, 2009]

The Hegemony of Neoliberalism

In 1977, however, a new US administration came to power under the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, who was himself a member of the Trilateral Commission. With his administration, came another roughly two-dozen members of the Trilateral Commission to fill key positions within his government. In 1973, Paul Volcker, the rising star through Chase Manhattan and the Treasury Department became a member of the Trilateral Commission. In 1975, he was made President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most powerful of the 12 regional Fed banks. In 1979, Jimmy Carter gave the job of Treasury Secretary to the former Governor of the Federal Reserve System, and in turn, David Rockefeller recommended Jimmy Carter appoint Paul Volcker as Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, which Carter quickly did.[6]

In 1979, the price of oil skyrocketed again. This time, Paul Volcker at the Fed was to take a different approach. His response was to drastically increase interest rates. Interest rates went from 2% in the late 70s to 18% in the early 1980s. The effect this had was that the US economy went into recession, and greatly reduced its imports from developing nations. A the same time, developing nations, who had taken on heavy debt burdens to finance industrialization, suddenly found themselves having to pay 18% interest payments on their loans. The idea that they could borrow heavily to build an industrial society, which would in turn pay off their loans, had suddenly come to a halt. As the US dollar had spread around the world in the forms of petrodollars and loans, the decisions that the Fed made would affect the entire world. In 1982, Mexico announced that it could no longer service its debt, and defaulted on its loans. This marked the spread of the 1980s debt crisis, which spread throughout Latin America and across the continent of Africa.

Suddenly, much of the developing world was plunged into crisis. Thus, the IMF and World Bank entered the scene with their newly developed “Structural Adjustment Programs” (SAPs), which would encompass a country in need signing an agreement, the SAP, which would provide the country with a loan from the IMF, as well as “development” projects by the World Bank. In turn, the country would have to undergo a neoliberal restructuring of its country.

Neoliberalism spread out of America and Britain in the 1980s; through their financial empires and instruments – including the World Bank and IMF – they spread the neoliberal ideology around the globe. Countries that resisted neoliberalism were subjected to “regime change”. This would occur through financial manipulation, via currency speculation or the hegemonic monetary policies of the Western nations, primarily the United States; economic sanctions, via the United Nations or simply done on a bilateral basis; covert regime change, through “colour revolutions” or coups, assassinations; and sometimes overt military campaigns and war.

The neoliberal ideology consisted in what has often been termed “free market fundamentalism.” This would entail a massive wave of privatization, in which state assets and industries are privatized in order to become economically “more productive and efficient.” This would have the social effect of leading to the firing of entire areas of the public sector, especially health and education as well as any specially protected national industries, which for many poor nations meant vital natural resources.

Then, the market would be “liberalized” which meant that restrictions and impediments to foreign investments in the nation would diminish by reducing or eliminating trade barriers and tariffs (taxes), and thus foreign capital (Western corporations and banks) would be able to invest in the country easily, while national industries that grow and “compete” would be able to more easily invest in other nations and industries around the world. The Central Bank of the nation would then keep interest rates artificially low, to allow for the easier movement of money in and out of the country. The effect of this would be that foreign multinational corporations and international banks would be able to easily buy up the privatized industries, and thus, buy up the national economy. Simultaneously major national industries may be allowed to grow and work with the global banks and corporations. This would essentially oligopolize the national economy, and bring it within the sphere of influence of the “global economy” controlled by and for the Western elites.

The European empires had imposed upon Africa and many other colonized peoples around the world a system of ‘indirect rule’, in which local governance structures were restructured and reorganized into a system where the local population is governed by locals, but for the western colonial powers. Thus, a local elite is created, and they enrich themselves through the colonial system, so they have no interest in challenging the colonial powers, but instead seek to protect their own interests, which happen to be the interests of the empire.

In the era of globalization, the leaders of the ‘Third World’ have been co-opted and their societies reorganized by and for the interests of the globalized elites. This is a system of indirect rule, and the local elites becoming ‘indirect globalists’; they have been brought within the global system and structures of empire.

Following a Structural Adjustment Program, masses of people would be left unemployed; the prices of essential commodities such as food and fuel would increase, sometimes by hundreds of percentiles, while the currency lost its value. Poverty would spread and entire sectors of the economy would be shut down. In the “developing” world of Asia, Latin America and Africa, these policies were especially damaging. With no social safety nets to fall into, the people would go hungry; the public state was dismantled.

When it came to Africa, the continent so rapidly de-industrialized throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s that poverty increased by incredible degrees. With that, conflict would spread. In the 1990s, as the harsh effects of neoliberal policies were easily and quickly seen on the African continent, the main notion pushed through academia, the media, and policy circles was that the state of Africa was due to the “mismanagement” by Africans. The blame was put solely on the national governments. While national political and economic elites did become complicit in the problems, the problems were imposed from beyond the continent, not from within.

Thus, in the 1990s, the notion of “good governance” became prominent. This was the idea that in return for loans and “help” from the IMF and World Bank, nations would need to undertake reforms not only of the economic sector, but also to create the conditions of what the west perceived as “good governance.” However, in neoliberal parlance, “good governance” implies “minimal governance”, and governments still had to dismantle their public sectors. They simply had to begin applying the illusion of democracy, through the holding of elections and allowing for the formation of a civil society. “Freedom” however, was still to maintain simply an economic concept, in that the nation would be “free” for Western capital to enter into.

While massive poverty and violence spread across the continent, people were given the “gift” of elections. They would elect one leader, who would then be locked into an already pre-determined economic and political structure. The political leaders would enrich themselves at the expense of others, and then be thrown out at the next election, or simply fix the elections. This would continue, back and forth, all the while no real change would be allowed to take place. Western imposed “democracy” had thus failed.

An article in a 2002 edition of International Affairs, the journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British counter-part to the Council on Foreign Relations), wrote that:

In 1960 the average income of the top 20 per cent of the world’s population was 30 times that of the bottom 20 per cent. By 1990 it was 60 times, ad by 1997, 74 times that of the lowest fifth. Today the assets of the top three billionaires are more than the combined GNP [Gross National Product] of all least developed countries and their 600 million people.

This has been the context in which there has been an explosive growth in the presence of Western as well as local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Africa. NGOs today form a prominent part of the ‘development machine’, a vast institutional and disciplinary nexus of official agencies, practitioners, consultants, scholars and other miscellaneous experts producing and consuming knowledge about the ‘developing world’.

[. . . ] Aid (in which NGOs have come to play a significant role) is frequently portrayed as a form of altruism, a charitable act that enables wealth to flow from rich to poor, poverty to be reduced and the poor to be empowered.[7]

The authors then explained that NGOs have a peculiar evolution in Africa:

[T[heir role in ‘development’ represents a continuity of the work of their precursors, the missionaries and voluntary organizations that cooperated in Europe’s colonization and control of Africa. Today their work contributes marginally to the relief of poverty, but significantly to undermining the struggle of African people to emancipate themselves from economic, social and political oppression.[8]

The authors examined how with the spread of neoliberalism, the notion of a “minimalist state” spread across the world and across Africa. Thus, they explain, the IMF and World Bank “became the new commanders of post-colonial economies.” However, these efforts were not imposed without resistance, as, “Between 1976 and 1992 there were 146 protests against IMF-supported austerity measures [SAPs] in 39 countries around the world.” Usually, however, governments responded with brute force, violently oppressing demonstrations. However, the widespread opposition to these “reforms” needed to be addressed by major organizations and “aid” agencies in re-evaluating their approach to ‘development’:[9]

The outcome of these deliberations was the ‘good governance’ agenda in the 1990s and the decision to co-opt NGOs and other civil society organizations to a repackaged programme of welfare provision, a social initiative that could be more accurately described as a programme of social control.

The result was to implement the notion of ‘pluralism’ in the form of ‘multipartyism’, which only ended up in bringing “into the public domain the seething divisions between sections of the ruling class competing for control of the state.” As for the ‘welfare initiatives’, the bilateral and multilateral aid agencies set aside significant funds for addressing the “social dimensions of adjustment,” which would “minimize the more glaring inequalities that their policies perpetuated.” This is where the growth of NGOs in Africa rapidly accelerated.[10]

Africa had again, become firmly enraptured in the cold grip of imperialism. Conflicts in Africa would be stirred up by imperial foreign powers, often using ethnic divides to turn the people against each other, using the political leaders of African nations as vassals submissive to Western hegemony. War and conflict would spread, and with it, so too would Western capital and the multinational corporation.

Building a ‘New’ Economy

While the developing world fell under the heavy sword of Western neoliberal hegemony, the Western industrialized societies experienced a rapid growth of their own economic strength. It was the Western banks and multinational corporations that spread into and took control of the economies of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Russia opened itself up to Western finance, and the IMF and World Bank swept in and imposed neoliberal restructuring, which led to a collapse of the Russian economy, and enrichment of a few billionaire oligarchs who own the Russian economy, and who are intricately connected with Western economic interests; again, ‘indirect globalists’.

As the Western financial and commercial sectors took control of the vast majority of the world’s resources and productive industries, amassing incredible profits, they needed new avenues in which to invest. Out of this need for a new road to capital accumulation (making money), the US Federal Reserve stepped in to help out.

The Federal Reserve in the 1990s began to ease interest rates lower and lower to again allow for the easier spread of money. This was the era of ‘globalization,’ where proclamations of a “New World Order” emerged. Regional trading blocs and “free trade” agreements spread rapidly, as world systems of political and economic structure increasingly grew out of the national structure and into a supra-national form. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented in an “economic constitution for North America” as Reagan referred to it.

Regionalism had emerged as the next major phase in the construction of the New World Order, with the European Union being at the forefront. The world economy was ‘globalized’ and so too, would the political structure follow, on both regional and global levels. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was formed to maintain and enshrine global neoliberal constitution for trade. All through this time, a truly global ruling class emerged, the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC), or global elite, which constituted a singular international class.

However, as the wealth and power of elites grew, everyone else suffered. The middle class had been subjected to a quiet dismantling. In the Western developed nations, industries and factories closed down, relocating to cheap Third World countries to exploit their labour, then sell the products in the Western world cheaply. Our living standards in the West began to fall, but because we could buy products for cheaper, no one seemed to complain. We continued to consume, and we used credit and debt to do so. The middle class existed only in theory, but was in fact, beholden to the shackles of debt.

The Clinton administration used ‘globalization’ as its grand strategy throughout the 1990s, facilitating the decline of productive capital (as in, money that flows into production of goods and services), and implemented the rise finance capital (money made on money). Thus, financial speculation became one of the key tools of economic expansion. This is what was termed the “financialization” of the economy. To allow this to occur, the Clinton administration actively worked to deregulate the banking sector. The Glass-Steagle Act, put in place by FDR in 1933 to prevent commercial banks from merging with investment banks and engaging in speculation, (which in large part caused the Great Depression), was slowly dismantled through the coordinated efforts of America’s largest banks, the Federal Reserve, and the US Treasury Department.

Thus, a massive wave of consolidation took place, as large banks ate smaller banks, corporations merged, where banks and corporations stopped being American or European and became truly global. Some of the key individuals that took part in the dismantling of Glass-Steagle and the expansion of ‘financialization’ were Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve and Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers at the Treasury Department, now key officials in Obama’s economic team.

This era saw the rise of ‘derivatives’ which are ‘complex financial instruments’ that essentially act as short-term insurance policies, betting and speculating that an asset price or commodity would go up or go down in value, allowing money to be made on whether stocks or prices go up or down. However, it wasn’t called ‘insurance’ because ‘insurance’ has to be regulated. Thus, it was referred to as derivatives trade, and organizations called Hedge Funds entered the picture in managing the global trade in derivatives.

The stock market would go up as speculation on future profits drove stocks higher and higher, inflating a massive bubble in what was termed a ‘virtual economy.’ The Federal Reserve facilitated this, as it had previously done in the lead-up to the Great Depression, by keeping interest rates artificially low, and allowing for easy-flowing money into the financial sector. The Federal Reserve thus inflated the ‘dot-com’ bubble of the technology sector. When this bubble burst, the Federal Reserve, with Allen Greenspan at the helm, created the “housing bubble.”

The Federal Reserve maintained low interest rates and actively encouraged and facilitated the flow of money into the housing sector. Banks were given free reign and actually encouraged to make loans to high-risk individuals who would never be able to pay back their debt. Again, the middle class existed only in the myth of the ‘free market’.

Concurrently, throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, the role of speculation as a financial instrument of war became apparent. Within the neoliberal global economy, money could flow easily into and out of countries. Thus, when confidence weakens in the prospect of one nation’s economy, there can be a case of ‘capital flight’ where foreign investors sell their assets in that nation’s currency and remove their capital from that country. This results in an inevitable collapse of the nations economy.

This happened to Mexico in 1994, in the midst of joining NAFTA, where international investors speculated against the Mexican peso, betting that it would collapse; they cashed in their pesos for dollars, which devalued the peso and collapsed the Mexican economy. This was followed by the East Asian financial crisis in 1997, where throughout the 1990s, Western capital had penetrated East Asian economies speculating in real estate and the stock markets. However, this resulted in over-investment, as the real economy, (production, manufacturing, etc.) could not keep up with speculative capital. Thus, Western capital feared a crisis, and began speculating against the national currencies of East Asian economies, which triggered devaluation and a financial panic as capital fled from East Asia into Western banking sectors. The economies collapsed and then the IMF came in to ‘restructure’ them accordingly. The same strategy was undertaken with Russia in 1998, and Argentina in 2001.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Forging a “New World Order” Under a One World Government. Global Research: August 13, 2009]

Throughout the 2000s, the housing bubble was inflated beyond measure, and around the middle of the decade, when the indicators emerged of a crisis in the housing market a commercial real estate bubble was formed. This bubble has yet to burst.

The 2007-2008 Financial Crisis

In 2007, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the most prestigious financial institution in the world and the central bank to the world’s central banks, issued a warning that the world is on the verge of another Great Depression, “citing mass issuance of new-fangled credit instruments, soaring levels of household debt, extreme appetite for risk shown by investors, and entrenched imbalances in the world currency system.”[11]

As the housing bubble began to collapse, the commodity bubble was inflated, where money went increasingly into speculation, the stock market, and the price of commodities soared, such as with the massive increases in the price of oil between 2007 and 2008. In September of 2007, a medium-sized British Bank called Northern Rock, a major partaker in the loans of bad mortgages which turned out to be worthless, sought help from the Bank of England, which led to a run on the bank and investor panic. In February of 2008, the British government bought and nationalized Northern Rock.

In March of 2008, Bear Stearns, an American bank that had been a heavy lender in the mortgage real estate market, went into crisis. On March 14, 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York worked with J.P. Morgan Chase (whose CEO is a board member of the NY Fed) to provide Bear Stearns with an emergency loan. However, they quickly changed their mind, and the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, working with the President of the New York Fed, Timothy Geithner, and the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (former CEO of Goldman Sachs), forced Bear Stearns to sell itself to JP Morgan Chase for $2 a share, which had previously traded at $172 a share in January of 2007. The merger was paid for by the Federal Reserve of New York, and charged to the US taxpayer.  

In June of 2008, the BIS again warned of an impending Great Depression.[12]

In September of 2008, the US government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two major home mortgage corporations. The same month, the global bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, giving the signal that no one is safe and that the entire economy was on the verge of collapse. Lehman was a major dealer in the US Treasury Securities market and was heavily invested in home mortgages. Lehman filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, marking the largest bankruptcy in US history. A wave of bank consolidation spread across the United States and internationally. The big banks became much bigger as Bank of America swallowed Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan ate Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo took over Wachovia.

In November of 2008, the US government bailed out the largest insurance company in the world, AIG. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with Timothy Geithner at the helm:

[Bought out], for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed to fail.

As Bloomberg reported, since the New York Fed is quasi-governmental, as in, it is given government authority, but not subject to government oversight, and is owned by the banks that make up its board (such as JP Morgan Chase), “It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.”[13]

The Bailout

In the fall of 2008, the Bush administration sought to implement a bailout package for the economy, designed to save the US banking system. The leaders of the nation went into rabid fear mongering. The President warned:

More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically.

The head of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, as well as Treasury Secretary Paulson, in late September warned of “recession, layoffs and lost homes if Congress doesn’t quickly approve the Bush administration’s emergency $700 billion financial bailout plan.”[14] Seven months prior, in February of 2008, prior to the collapse of Bear Stearns, both Bernanke and Paulson said “the nation will avoid falling into recession.”[15] In September of 2008, Paulson was saying that people “should be scared.”[16]

The bailout package was made into a massive financial scam, which would plunge the United States into unprecedented levels of debt, while pumping incredible amounts of money into major global banks.

The public was told, as was the Congress, that the bailout was worth $700 billion dollars. However, this was extremely misleading, and a closer reading of the fine print would reveal much more, in that $700 billion is the amount that could be spent “at any one time.” As Chris Martenson wrote:

This means that $700 billion is NOT the cost of this dangerous legislation, it is only the amount that can be outstanding at any one time.  After, say, $100 billion of bad mortgages are disposed of, another $100 billion can be bought.  In short, these four little words assure that there is NO LIMIT to the potential size of this bailout. This means that $700 billion is a rolling amount, not a ceiling.

So what happens when you have vague language and an unlimited budget?  Fraud and self-dealing.  Mark my words, this is the largest looting operation ever in the history of the US, and it’s all spelled out right in this delightfully brief document that is about to be rammed through a scared Congress and made into law.[17]

Further, the proposed bill would “raise the nation’s debt ceiling to $11.315 trillion from $10.615 trillion,” and that the actions taken as a result of the passage of the bill would not be subject to investigation by the nation’s court system, as it would “bar courts from reviewing actions taken under its authority”:

The Bush administration seeks “dictatorial power unreviewable by the third branch of government, the courts, to try to resolve the crisis,” said Frank Razzano, a former assistant chief trial attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission now at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Washington. “We are taking a huge leap of faith.”[18]

Larisa Alexandrovna, writing with the Huffington Post, warned that the passage of the bailout bill will be the final nails in the coffin of the fascist coup over America, in the form of financial fascists:

This manufactured crisis is now to be remedied, if the fiscal fascists get their way, with the total transfer of Congressional powers (the few that still remain) to the Executive Branch and the total transfer of public funds into corporate (via government as intermediary) hands.

[. . . ] The Treasury Secretary can buy broadly defined assets, on any terms he wants, he can hire anyone he wants to do it and can appoint private sector companies as financial deputies of the US government. And he can write whatever regulation he thinks [is] needed.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.[19]

At the same time, the US Federal Reserve was bailing out foreign banks of hundreds of billions of dollars, “that are desperate for dollars and can’t access America’s frozen credit markets – a move co-ordinated with central banks in Japan, the Eurozone, Switzerland, Canada and here in the UK.”[20] The moves would have been coordinated through the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basle, Switzerland. As Politico reported, “foreign-based banks with big U.S. operations could qualify for the Treasury Department’s mortgage bailout.” A Treasury Fact Sheet released by the US Department of Treasury stated that:

Participating financial institutions must have significant operations in the U.S., unless the Secretary makes a determination, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, that broader eligibility is necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets.[21]

So, the bailout package would not only allow for the rescue of American banks, but any banks internationally, whether public or private, if the Treasury Secretary deemed it “necessary”, and that none of the Secretary’s decisions could be reviewed or subjected to oversight of any kind. Further, it would mean that the Treasury Secretary would have a blank check, but simply wouldn’t be able to hand out more than $700 billion “at any one time.” In short, the bailout is in fact, a coup d’état by the banks over the government.

Many Congressmen were told that if they failed to pass the bailout package, they were threatened with martial law.[22] Sure enough, Congress passed the bill, and the financial coup had been a profound success.

No wonder then, in early 2009, one Congressman reported that the banks “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”[23] Another Congressman said that “The banks run the place,” and explained, “I will tell you what the problem is – they give three times more money than the next biggest group. It’s huge the amount of money they put into politics.”[24]

The Collapse of Iceland

On October 9th, 2008, the government of Iceland took control of the nation’s largest bank, nationalizing it, and halted trading on the Icelandic stock market. Within a single week, “the vast majority of Iceland’s once-proud banking sector has been nationalized.” In early October, it was reported that:

Iceland, which has transformed itself from one of Europe’s poorest countries to one of its wealthiest in the space of a generation, could face bankruptcy. In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Geir Haarde conceded: “There is a very real danger, fellow citizens, that the Icelandic economy in the worst case could be sucked into the whirlpool, and the result could be national bankruptcy.”

An article in BusinessWeek explained:

How did things get so bad so fast? Blame the Icelandic banking system’s heavy reliance on external financing. With the privatization of the banking sector, completed in 2000, Iceland’s banks used substantial wholesale funding to finance their entry into the local mortgage market and acquire foreign financial firms, mainly in Britain and Scandinavia. The banks, in large part, were simply following the international ambitions of a new generation of Icelandic entrepreneurs who forged global empires in industries from retailing to food production to pharmaceuticals. By the end of 2006, the total assets of the three main banks were $150 billion, eight times the country’s GDP.

In just five years, the banks went from being almost entirely domestic lenders to becoming major international financial intermediaries. In 2000, says Richard Portes, a professor of economics at London Business School, two-thirds of their financing came from domestic sources and one-third from abroad. More recently—until the crisis hit—that ratio was reversed. But as wholesale funding markets seized up, Iceland’s banks started to collapse under a mountain of foreign debt.[25]

This was the grueling situation that faced the government at the time of the global economic crisis. The causes, however, were not Icelandic; they were international. Iceland owed “more than $60 billion overseas, about six times the value of its annual economic output. As a professor at London School of Economics said, ‘No Western country in peacetime has crashed so quickly and so badly’.”[26]

What went wrong?

Iceland followed the path of neoliberalism, deregulated banking and financial sectors and aided in the spread and ease of flow for international capital. When times got tough, Iceland went into crisis, as the Observer reported in early October 2008:

Iceland is on the brink of collapse. Inflation and interest rates are raging upwards. The krona, Iceland’s currency, is in freefall and is rated just above those of Zimbabwe and Turkmenistan.

[. . . ] The discredited government and officials from the central bank have been huddled behind closed doors for three days with still no sign of a plan. International banks won’t send any more money and supplies of foreign currency are running out.[27]

In 2007, the UN had awarded Iceland the “best country to live in”:

The nation’s celebrated rags-to-riches story began in the Nineties when free market reforms, fish quota cash and a stock market based on stable pension funds allowed Icelandic entrepreneurs to go out and sweep up international credit. Britain and Denmark were favourite shopping haunts, and in 2004 alone Icelanders spent £894m on shares in British companies. In just five years, the average Icelandic family saw its wealth increase by 45 per cent.[28]

As the third of Iceland’s large banks was in trouble, following the government takeover of the previous two, the UK responded by freezing Icelandic assets in the UK. Kaupthing, the last of the three banks standing in early October, had many assets in the UK.

On October 7th, Iceland’s Central Bank governor told the media, “We will not pay for irresponsible debtors and…not for banks who have behaved irresponsibly.” The following day, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, claimed that, “The Icelandic government, believe it or not, have told me yesterday they have no intention of honoring their obligations here,” although, Arni Mathiesen, the Icelandic minister of finance, said, “nothing in this telephone conversation can support the conclusion that Iceland would not honor its obligation.”[29]

On October 10, 2008, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “We are freezing the assets of Icelandic companies in the United Kingdom where we can. We will take further action against the Icelandic authorities wherever that is necessary to recover money.” Thus:

Many Icelandic companies operating in the U.K., in totally unrelated industries, experienced their assets being frozen by the U.K. government–as well as other acts of seeming vengeance by U.K. businesses and media.

The immediate effect of the collapse of Kaupthing is that Iceland’s financial system is ruined and the foreign exchange market shut down. Retailers are scrambling to secure currency for food imports and medicine. The IMF is being called in for assistance.[30]

The UK had more than £840m invested in Icelandic banks, and they were moving in to save their investments,[31] which just so happened to help spur on the collapse of the Icelandic economy.

On October 24, 2008, an agreement between Iceland and the IMF was signed. In late November, the IMF approved a loan to Iceland of $2.1 billion, with an additional $3 billion in loans from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Poland.[32] Why the agreement to the loan took so long, was because the UK pressured the IMF to delay the loan “until a dispute over the compensation Iceland owes savers in Icesave, one of its collapsed banks, is resolved.”[33]

In January of 2009, the entire Icelandic government was “formally dissolved” as the government collapsed when the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet resigned. This put the opposition part in charge of an interim government.[34] In July of 2009, the new government formally applied for European Union membership, however, “Icelanders have traditionally been skeptical of the benefits of full EU membership, fearing that they would lose some of their independence as a small state within a larger political entity.”[35]

In August of 2009, Iceland’s parliament passed a bill “to repay Britain and the Netherlands more than $5 billion lost in Icelandic deposit accounts”:

Icelanders, already reeling from a crisis that has left many destitute, have objected to paying for mistakes made by private banks under the watch of other governments.

Their anger in particular is directed at Britain, which used an anti-terrorism law to seize Icelandic assets during the crisis last year, a move which residents said added insult to injury.

The government argued it had little choice but to make good on the debts if it wanted to ensure aid continued to flow. Rejection could have led to Britain or the Netherlands seeking to block aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[36]

Iceland is now in the service of the IMF and its international creditors. The small independent nation that for so long had prided itself on a strong economy and strong sense of independence had been brought to its knees.

In mid-January of 2010, the IMF and Sweden together delayed their loans to Iceland, due to Iceland’s “failure to reach a £2.3bn compensation deal with Britain and the Netherlands over its collapsed Icesave accounts.” Sweden, the UK and the IMF were blackmailing Iceland to save UK assets in return for loans.[37]

In February of 2010, it was reported that the EU would begin negotiations with Iceland to secure Icelandic membership in the EU by 2012. However, Iceland’s “aspirations are now tied partially to a dispute with the Netherlands and Britain over $5 billion in debts lost in the country’s banking collapse in late 2008.”[38]

Iceland stood as a sign of what was to come. The sovereign debt crisis that brought Iceland to its knees had new targets on the horizon.

Dubai Hit By Financial Storm

In February of 2009, the Guardian reported that, “A six-year boom that turned sand dunes into a glittering metropolis, creating the world’s tallest building, its biggest shopping mall and, some say, a shrine to unbridled capitalism, is grinding to a halt,” as Dubai, one of six states that form the United Arab Emirates (UAE), went into crisis. Further, “the real estate bubble that propelled the frenetic expansion of Dubai on the back of borrowed cash and speculative investment, has burst.”[39]

Months later, in November of 2009, Dubai was plunged into a debt crisis, prompting fears of sparking a double-dip recession and the next wave of the financial crisis. As the Guardian reported:

Governments have cut interest rates, created new electronic money and allowed budget deficits to reach record levels in an attempt to boost growth after the near-collapse of the global financial system. [. . . ] Despite having oil, it’s still the case that many of these countries had explosive credit growth. It’s very clear that in 2010, we’ve got plenty more problems in store.[40]

The neighboring oil-rich state of Abu Dhabi, however, came to the rescue of Dubai with a $10 billion bailout package, leading the Foreign Minister of the UAE to declare Dubai’s financial crisis as over.[41]

In mid-February of 2010, however, renewed fears of a debt crisis in Dubai resurfaced; Morgan Stanley reported that, “the cost to insure against a Dubai default [in mid-February] shot up to the level it was at during the peak of the city-state’s debt crisis in November.”[42] These fears resurfaced as:

Investors switched their attention to the Gulf [on February 15] as markets reacted to fears that a restructuring plan from the state-owned conglomerate Dubai World would pay creditors only 60 per cent of the money they are owed.[43]

Again, the aims that governments seek in the unfolding debt crisis is not to save their people from a collapsing economy and inflated currency, but to save the ‘interests’ of their major banks and corporations within each collapsing economy.

A Sovereign Debt Crisis Hits Greece

In October of 2009, a new Socialist government came to power in Greece on the promise of injecting 3 billion euros to reinvigorate the Greek economy.[44] Greece had suffered particularly hard during the economic crisis; it experienced riots and protests. In December of 2009, Greece said it would not default on its debt, but the government added, “Salaried workers will not pay for this situation: we will not proceed with wage freezes or cuts. We did not come to power to tear down the social state.” As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote for the Telegraph in December of 2009:

Greece is being told to adopt an IMF-style austerity package, without the devaluation so central to IMF plans. The prescription is ruinous and patently self-defeating. Public debt is already 113pc of GDP. The [European] Commission says it will reach 125pc by late 2010. It may top 140pc by 2012.

If Greece were to impose the draconian pay cuts under way in Ireland (5pc for lower state workers, rising to 20pc for bosses), it would deepen depression and cause tax revenues to collapse further. It is already too late for such crude policies. Greece is past the tipping point of a compound debt spiral. 

Evans-Pritchard wrote that the crisis in Greece had much to do with the European Monetary Union (EMU), which created the Euro, and made all member states subject to the decisions of the European Central Bank, as “Interest rates were too low for Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, causing them all to be engulfed in a destructive property and wage boom.” Further:

EU states may club together to keep Greece afloat with loans for a while. That solves nothing. It increases Greece’s debt, drawing out the agony. What Greece needs – unless it leaves EMU – is a permanent subsidy from the North. Spain and Portugal will need help too.[45]

Greece’s debt had soared, by early December 2009, to a spiraling 300-billion euros, as its “financial woes have also weighed on the euro currency, whose long-term value depends on member countries keeping their finances in order.” Further, Ireland, Spain and Portugal were all facing problems with their debt. As it turned out, the previous Greek government had been cooking the books, and when the new government came to power, it inherited twice the federal deficit it had anticipated.[46]

In February of 2010, the New York Times revealed that:

[W]ith Wall Street’s help, [Greece] engaged in a decade-long effort to skirt European debt limits. One deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels.

Even as the crisis was nearing the flashpoint, banks were searching for ways to help Greece forestall the day of reckoning. In early November — three months before Athens became the epicenter of global financial anxiety — a team from Goldman Sachs arrived in the ancient city with a very modern proposition for a government struggling to pay its bills, according to two people who were briefed on the meeting.

The bankers, led by Goldman’s president, Gary D. Cohn, held out a financing instrument that would have pushed debt from Greece’s health care system far into the future, much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards.[47]

Even back in 2001, when Greece joined the Euro-bloc, Goldman Sachs helped the country “quietly borrow billions” in a deal “hidden from public view because it was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, [and] helped Athens to meet Europe’s deficit rules while continuing to spend beyond its means.” Further, “Greece owes the world $300 billion, and major banks are on the hook for much of that debt. A default would reverberate around the globe.” Both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase had undertaken similar efforts in Italy and other countries in Europe as well.[48]

In early February, EU nations led by France and Germany met to discuss a rescue package for Greece, likely with the help of the European Central Bank and possibly the IMF. The issue had plunged the Eurozone into a crisis, as confidence in the Euro fell across the board, and “Germans have become so disillusioned with the euro, many will not accept notes produced outside their homeland.”[49]

Germany was expected to bail out the Greek economy, much to the dismay of the German people. As one German politician stated, “We cannot expect the citizens, whose taxes are already too high, to go along with supporting the erroneous financial and budget policy of other states of the eurozone.” One economist warned that the collapse of Greece could lead to a collapse of the Euro:

There are enough people ­speculating on the markets about the possible bankruptcy of Greece, and once Greece goes, they would then turn their attentions to Spain and Italy, and Germany and France would be forced to step in once again.[50]

However, the Lisbon Treaty had been passed over 2009, which put into effect a European Constitution, giving Brussels enormous powers over its member states. As the Telegraph reported on February 16, 2010, the EU stripped Greece of its right to vote at a crucial meeting to take place in March:

The council of EU finance ministers said Athens must comply with austerity demands by March 16 or lose control over its own tax and spend policies altogether. It if fails to do so, the EU will itself impose cuts under the draconian Article 126.9 of the Lisbon Treaty in what would amount to economic suzerainty [i.e., foreign economic control].

While the symbolic move to suspend Greece of its voting rights at one meeting makes no practical difference, it marks a constitutional watershed and represents a crushing loss of sovereignty.

“We certainly won’t let them off the hook,” said Austria’s finance minister, Josef Proll, echoing views shared by colleagues in Northern Europe. Some German officials have called for Greece to be denied a vote in all EU matter until it emerges from “receivership”.

The EU has still refused to reveal details of how it might help Greece raise €30bn (£26bn) from global debt markets by the end of June.[51]

It would appear that the EU is in a troubling position. If they allow the IMF to rescue Greece, it would be a blow to the faith in the Euro currency, whereas if they bailout Greece, it will encourage internal pressures within European countries to abandon the Euro.

In early February, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote in the Telegraph that, “The Greek debt crisis has spread to Spain and Portugal in a dangerous escalation as global markets test whether Europe is willing to shore up monetary union with muscle rather than mere words”:

Julian Callow from Barclays Capital said the EU may to need to invoke emergency treaty powers under Article 122 to halt the contagion, issuing an EU guarantee for Greek debt. “If not contained, this could result in a `Lehman-style’ tsunami spreading across much of the EU.”

[. . . ] EU leaders will come to the rescue in the end, but Germany has yet to blink in this game of “brinkmanship”. The core issue is that EMU’s credit bubble has left southern Europe with huge foreign liabilities: Spain at 91pc of GDP (€950bn); Portugal 108pc (€177bn). This compares with 87pc for Greece (€208bn). By this gauge, Iberian imbalances are worse than those of Greece, and the sums are far greater. The danger is that foreign creditors will cut off funding, setting off an internal EMU version of the Asian financial crisis in 1998.[52]

Fear began to spread in regards to a growing sovereign debt crisis, stretching across Greece, Spain and Portugal, and likely much wider and larger than that.

A Global Debt Crisis

In 2007, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), “the world’s most prestigious financial body,” warned of a coming great depression, and stated that while in a crisis, central banks may cut interest rates (which they subsequently did). However, as the BIS pointed out, while cutting interest rates may help, in the long run it has the effect of “sowing the seeds for more serious problems further ahead.”[53]

In the summer of 2008, prior to the apex of the 2008 financial crisis in September and October, the BIS again warned of the inherent dangers of a new Great Depression. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote, “the ultimate bank of central bankers” warned that central banks, such as the Federal Reserve, would not find it so easy to “clean up” the messes they had made in asset-price bubbles.

The BIS report stated that, “It is not impossible that the unwinding of the credit bubble could, after a temporary period of higher inflation, culminate in a deflation that might be hard to manage, all the more so given the high debt levels.” As Evans-Pritchard explained, “this amounts to a warning that monetary overkill by the Fed, the Bank of England, and above all the European Central Bank could prove dangerous at this juncture.” The BIS report warned that, “Global banks – with loans of $37 trillion in 2007, or 70pc of world GDP – are still in the eye of the storm.” Ultimately, the actions of central banks were designed “to put off the day of reckoning,” not to prevent it.[54]

Seeing how the BIS is not simply a casual observer, but is in fact the most important financial institution in the world, as it is where the world’s central bankers meet and, in secret, decide monetary policy for the world. As central banks have acted as the architects of the financial crisis, the BIS warning of a Great Depression is not simply a case of Cassandra prophesying the Trojan Horse, but is a case where she prophesied the horse, then opened the gates of Troy and pulled the horse in.

It was within this context that the governments of the world took on massive amounts of debt and bailed out the financial sectors from their accumulated risk by buying their bad debts.

In late June of 2009, several months following Western governments implementing bailouts and stimulus packages, the world was in the euphoria of “recovery.” At this time, however, the Bank for International Settlements released another report warning against such complacency in believing in the “recovery.” The BIS warned of only “limited progress” in fixing the financial system. The article is worth quoting at length:

Instead of implementing policies designed to clean up banks’ balance sheets, some rescue plans have pushed banks to maintain their lending practices of the past, or even increase domestic credit where it’s not warranted.

[. . . ] The lack of progress threatens to prolong the crisis and delay the recovery because a dysfunctional financial system reduces the ability of monetary and fiscal actions to stimulate the economy.

That’s because without a solid banking system underpinning financial markets, stimulus measures won’t be able to gain traction, and may only lead to a temporary pickup in growth.

A fleeting recovery could well make matters worse, the BIS warns, since further government support for banks is absolutely necessary, but will become unpopular if the public sees a recovery in hand. And authorities may get distracted with sustaining credit, asset prices and demand rather than focusing on fixing bank balance sheets.

[. . . ] It warned that despite the unprecedented measures in the form of fiscal stimulus, interest rate cuts, bank bailouts and quantitative easing, there is an “open question” whether the policies will be able to stabilize the global economy.

And as governments bulk up their deficits to spend their way out of the crisis, they need to be careful that their lack of restraint doesn’t come back to bite them, the central bankers said. If governments don’t communicate a credible exit strategy, they will find it harder to place debt, and could face rising funding costs – leading to spending cuts or significantly higher taxes.[55]

The BIS had thus endorsed the bailout and stimulus packages, which is no surprise, considering that the BIS is owned by the central banks of the world, which in turn are owned by the major global banks that were “bailed out” by the governments. However, the BIS warned that these rescue efforts, “while necessary” for the banks, will likely have deleterious effects for national governments.

The BIS warned that, “there’s a risk central banks will raise interest rates and withdraw emergency liquidity too late, triggering inflation”:

Central banks around the globe have lowered borrowing costs to record lows and injected billions of dollars [or, more accurately, trillions] into the financial system to counter the worst recession since World War II. While some policy makers have stressed the need to withdraw the emergency measures as soon as the economy improves, the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and European Central Bank are still in the process of implementing asset-purchase programs designed to unblock credit markets and revive growth.

“The big and justifiable worry is that, before it can be reversed, the dramatic easing in monetary policy will translate into growth in the broader monetary and credit aggregates,” the BIS said. That will “lead to inflation that feeds inflation expectations or it may fuel yet another asset-price bubble, sowing the seeds of the next financial boom-bust cycle.”[56]

Of enormous significance was the warning from the BIS that, “fiscal stimulus packages may provide no more than a temporary boost to growth, and be followed by an extended period of economic stagnation.” As the Australian reported in late June:

The only international body to correctly predict the financial crisis – the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) – has warned the biggest risk is that governments might be forced by world bond investors to abandon their stimulus packages, and instead slash spending while lifting taxes and interest rates.

Further, major western countries such as Australia “faced the possibility of a run on the currency, which would force interest rates to rise,” and “Particularly in smaller and more open economies, pressure on the currency could force central banks to follow a tighter policy than would be warranted by domestic economic conditions.” Not surprisingly, the BIS stated that, “government guarantees and asset insurance have exposed taxpayers to potentially large losses,” through the bailouts and stimulus packages, and “stimulus programs will drive up real interest rates and inflation expectations,” as inflation “would intensify as the downturn abated.”[57]

In May of 2009, Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned that Britain faces a major struggle in the next phase of the economic crisis:

[T]he mountain of debt that had poisoned the financial system had not disappeared overnight. Instead, it has been shifted from the private sector onto the public sector balance sheet. Britain has taken on hundreds of billions of pounds of bank debt and stands behind potentially trillions of dollars of contingent liabilities.

If the first stage of the crisis was the financial implosion and the second the economic crunch, the third stage – the one heralded by Johnson – is where governments start to topple under the weight of this debt. If 2008 was a year of private sector bankruptcies, 2009 and 2010, it goes, will be the years of government insolvency.

However, as dire as things look for Britain, “The UK is likely to be joined by other countries as the full scale of the downturn becomes apparent and more financial skeletons are pulled from the sub-prime closet.”[58]

In September of 2009, the former Chief Economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), William White, who had accurately predicted the previous crisis, warned that, “The world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession.” He “also warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.” An article in the Financial Times elaborated:

“Are we going into a W[-shaped recession]? Almost certainly. Are we going into an L? I would not be in the slightest bit surprised,” [White] said, referring to the risks of a so-called double-dip recession or a protracted stagnation like Japan suffered in the 1990s.

“The only thing that would really surprise me is a rapid and sustainable recovery from the position we’re in.”

The comments from Mr White, who ran the economic department at the central banks’ bank from 1995 to 2008, carry weight because he was one of the few senior figures to predict the financial crisis in the years before it struck.

Mr White repeatedly warned of dangerous imbalances in the global financial system as far back as 2003 and – breaking a great taboo in central banking circles at the time – he dared to challenge Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, over his policy of persistent cheap money [i.e., low interest rates].

[. . . ] Worldwide, central banks have pumped [trillions] of dollars of new money into the financial system over the past two years in an effort to prevent a depression. Meanwhile, governments have gone to similar extremes, taking on vast sums of debt to prop up industries from banking to car making.

These measures may already be inflating a bubble in asset prices, from equities to commodities, he said, and there was a small risk that inflation would get out of control over the medium term if central banks miss-time their “exit strategies”.

Meanwhile, the underlying problems in the global economy, such as unsustainable trade imbalances between the US, Europe and Asia, had not been resolved.[59]

In late September of 2009, the General Manager of the BIS warned governments against complacency, saying that, “the market rebound should not be misinterpreted,” and that, “The profile of the recovery is not clear.”[60]

In September, the Financial Times further reported that William White, former Chief Economist at the BIS, also “argued that after two years of government support for the financial system, we now have a set of banks that are even bigger – and more dangerous – than ever before,” which also, “has been argued by Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund,” who “says that the finance industry has in effect captured the US government,” and pointedly stated: “recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.”[61]

In mid-September, the BIS released a warning about the global financial system, as “The global market for derivatives rebounded to $426 trillion in the second quarter [of 2009] as risk appetite returned, but the system remains unstable and prone to crises.” The derivatives rose by 16% “mostly due to a surge in futures and options contracts on three-month interest rates.” In other words, speculation is back in full force as bailout money to banks in turn fed speculative practices that have not been subjected to reform or regulation. Thus, the problems that created the previous crisis are still present and growing:

Stephen Cecchetti, the [BIS] chief economist, said over-the-counter markets for derivatives are still opaque and pose “major systemic risks” for the financial system. The danger is that regulators will again fail to see that big institutions have taken far more exposure than they can handle in shock conditions, repeating the errors that allowed the giant US insurer AIG to write nearly “half a trillion dollars” of unhedged insurance through credit default swaps.[62]

In late November of 2009, Morgan Stanley warned that, “Britain risks becoming the first country in the G10 bloc of major economies to risk capital flight and a full-blown debt crisis over coming months.” The Bank of England may have to raise interest rates “before it is ready — risking a double-dip recession, and an incipient compound-debt spiral.” Further:

Morgan Stanley said [the] sterling may fall a further 10pc in trade-weighted terms. This would complete the steepest slide in the pound since the industrial revolution, exceeding the 30pc drop from peak to trough after Britain was driven off the Gold Standard in cataclysmic circumstances in 1931.[63]

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote for the Telegraph, this “is a reminder that countries merely bought time during the crisis by resorting to fiscal stimulus and shunting private losses onto public books,” and, while he endorsed the stimulus packages claiming it was “necessary,” he admitted that the stimulus packages “have not resolved the underlying debt problem. They have storied up a second set of difficulties by degrading sovereign debt across much of the world.”[64] Morgan Stanley said another surprise in 2010 could be a surge in the dollar. However, this would be due to capital flight out of Europe as its economies crumble under their debt burdens and capital seeks a “safe haven” in the US dollar.

In December of 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported on the warnings of some of the nation’s top economists, who feared that following a financial crisis such as the one experienced in the previous two years, “there’s typically a wave of sovereign default crises.” As economist Kenneth Rogoff explained, “If you want to know what’s next on the menu, that’s a good bet,” as “Spiraling government debts around the world, from Washington to Berlin to Tokyo, could set the scene for years of financial troubles.” Apart from the obvious example of Greece, other countries are at risk, as the author of the article wrote:

Also worrying are several other countries at the periphery of Europe—the Baltics, Eastern European countries like Hungary, and maybe Ireland and Spain. This is where public finances are worst. And the handcuffs of the European single currency, Prof. Rogoff said, mean individual countries can’t just print more money to get out of their debts. (For the record, the smartest investor I have ever known, a hedge fund manager in London, is also anticipating a sovereign debt crisis.)

[. . . ] The major sovereign debt crises, he said, are probably a couple of years away. The key issue is that this time, the mounting financial troubles of the U.S., Germany and Japan mean these countries, once the rich uncles of the world, will no longer have the money to step in and rescue the more feckless nieces and nephews.

Rogoff predicted that, “We’re going to be raising taxes sky high,” and that, “we’re probably going to see a lot of inflation, eventually. We will have to. It’s the easiest way to reduce the value of those liabilities in real terms.” Rogoff stated, “The way rich countries default is through inflation.” Further, “even U.S. municipal bonds won’t be safe from trouble. California could be among those facing a default crisis.” Rogoff elaborated, “It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Federal Reserve buying California debt at some point, or some form of bailout.”[65]

The bailouts, particularly that of the United States, handed a blank check to the world’s largest banks. As another favour, the US government put those same banks in charge of ‘reform’ and ‘regulation’ of the banking industry. Naturally, no reform or regulation took place. Thus, the money given to banks by the government can be used in financial speculation. As the sovereign debt crisis unfolds and spreads around the globe, the major international banks will be able to create enormous wealth in speculation, rapidly pulling their money out of one nation in debt crisis, precipitating a collapse, and moving to another, until all the dominoes have fallen, and the banks stand larger, wealthier, and more powerful than any nation or institution on earth (assuming they already aren’t). This is why the bankers were so eager to undertake a financial coup of the United States, to ensure that no actual reform took place, that they could loot the nation of all it has, and profit off of its eventual collapse and the collapse of the global economy. The banks have been saved! Now everyone else must pay.

Edmund Conway, the Economics Editor of the Telegraph, reported in early January of 2010, that throughout the year:

[S]overeign credit will buckle under the strain of [government] deficits; the economic recovery will falter as the Government withdraws its fiscal stimulus measures and more companies will continue to fail. In other words, 2010 is unlikely to be the year of a V-shaped recovery.[66]

In other words, the ‘recovery’ is an illusion. In mid-January of 2010, the World Economic Forum released a report in which it warned that, “There is now more than a one-in-five chance of another asset price bubble implosion costing the world more than £1 trillion, and similar odds of a full-scale sovereign fiscal crisis.” The report warned of a simultaneous second financial crisis coupled with a major fiscal crisis as countries default on their debts. The report “also warned of the possibility of China’s economy overheating and, instead of helping support global economic growth, preventing a fully-fledged recovery from developing.” Further:

The report, which in previous years had been among the first to cite the prospect of a financial crisis, the oil crisis that preceded it and the ongoing food crisis, included a list of growing risks threatening leading economies. Among the most likely, and potentially most costly, is a sovereign debt crisis, as some countries struggle to afford the unprecedented costs of the crisis clean-up, the report said, specifically naming the UK and the US.

[. . .] The report also highlights the risk of a further asset price collapse, which could derail the nascent economic recovery across the world, with particular concern surrounding China, which some fear may follow the footsteps Japan trod in the 1990s.[67]

Nouriel Roubini, one of America’s top economists who predicted the financial crisis, wrote an article in Forbes in January of 2010 explaining that, “the severe recession, combined with a financial crisis during 2008-09, worsened the fiscal positions of developed countries due to stimulus spending, lower tax revenues and support to the financial sector.” He warned that the debt burden of major economies, including the US, Japan and Britain, would likely increase. With this, investors will become wary of the sustainability of fiscal markets and will begin to withdraw from debt markets, long considered “safe havens.” Further:

Most central banks will withdraw liquidity starting in 2010, but government financing needs will remain high thereafter. Monetization and increased debt issuances by governments in the developed world will raise inflation expectations.

As interest rates rise, which they will have to in a tightening of monetary policy, (which up until now have been kept artificially low so as to encourage the spread of liquidity around the world), interest payments on the debt will increase dramatically. Roubini warned:

The U.S. and Japan might be among the last to face investor aversion—the dollar is the global reserve currency and the U.S. has the deepest and most liquid debt markets, while Japan is a net creditor and largely finances its debt domestically. But investors will turn increasingly cautious even about these countries if the necessary fiscal reforms are delayed.[68]

Governments will thus need to drastically increase taxes and cut spending. Essentially, this will amount to a global “Structural Adjustment Program” (SAP) in the developed, industrialized nations of the West.

Where SAPs imposed upon ‘Third World’ debtor nations would provide a loan in return for the dismantling of the public state, higher taxes, growing unemployment, total privatization of state industries and deregulation of trade and investment, the loans provided by the IMF and World Bank would ultimately benefit Western multinational corporations and banks. This is what the Western world now faces: we bailed out the banks, and now we must pay for it, through massive unemployment, increased taxes, and the dismantling of the public sphere.

In February of 2010, Niall Ferguson, a prominent British economic historian, wrote an article for the Financial Times entitled, “A Greek Crisis Coming to America.” He starts by explaining that, “It began in Athens. It is spreading to Lisbon and Madrid. But it would be a grave mistake to assume that the sovereign debt crisis that is unfolding will remain confined to the weaker eurozone economies.” He explained that this is not a crisis confined to one region, “It is a fiscal crisis of the western world,” and “Its ramifications are far more profound than most investors currently appreciate.” Ferguson writes that, “the problem is essentially the same from Iceland to Ireland to Britain to the US. It just comes in widely differing sizes,” and the US is no small risk:

For the world’s biggest economy, the US, the day of reckoning still seems reassuringly remote. The worse things get in the eurozone, the more the US dollar rallies as nervous investors park their cash in the “safe haven” of American government debt. This effect may persist for some months, just as the dollar and Treasuries rallied in the depths of the banking panic in late 2008.

Yet even a casual look at the fiscal position of the federal government (not to mention the states) makes a nonsense of the phrase “safe haven”. US government debt is a safe haven the way Pearl Harbor was a safe haven in 1941.

Ferguson points out that, “The long-run projections of the Congressional Budget Office suggest that the US will never again run a balanced budget. That’s right, never.” Ferguson explains that debt will hurt major economies:

By raising fears of default and/or currency depreciation ahead of actual inflation, they push up real interest rates. Higher real rates, in turn, act as drag on growth, especially when the private sector is also heavily indebted – as is the case in most western economies, not least the US.

Although the US household savings rate has risen since the Great Recession began, it has not risen enough to absorb a trillion dollars of net Treasury issuance a year. Only two things have thus far stood between the US and higher bond yields: purchases of Treasuries (and mortgage-backed securities, which many sellers essentially swapped for Treasuries) by the Federal Reserve and reserve accumulation by the Chinese monetary authorities.[69]

In late February of 2010, the warning signs were flashing red that interest rates were going to have to rise, taxes increase, and the burden of debt would need to be addressed.

China Begins to Dump US Treasuries

US Treasuries are US government debt that is issued by the US Treasury Department, which are bought by foreign governments as an investment. It is a show of faith in the US economy to buy their debt (i.e., Treasuries). In buying a US Treasury, you are lending money to the US government for a certain period of time.

However, as the United States has taken on excessive debt loads to save the banks from crisis, the prospect of buying US Treasuries has become less appealing, and the threat that they are an unsafe investment is ever-growing. In February of 2009, Hilary Clinton urged China to continue buying US Treasuries in order to finance Obama’s stimulus package. As an article in Bloomberg pointed out:

The U.S. is the single largest buyer of the exports that drive growth in China, the world’s third-largest economy. China in turn invests surplus earnings from shipments of goods such as toys, clothing and steel primarily in Treasury securities, making it the world’s largest holder of U.S. government debt at the end of last year with $696.2 billion.[70]

The following month, the Chinese central bank announced that they would continue buying US Treasuries.[71]

However, in February of 2009, Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest individuals, warned against buying US Treasuries:

Buffett said that with the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury Department going “all in” to jump-start an economy shrinking at the fastest pace since 1982, “once-unthinkable dosages” of stimulus will likely spur an “onslaught” of inflation, an enemy of fixed-income investors.

“The investment world has gone from underpricing risk to overpricing it,” Buffett wrote. “Cash is earning close to nothing and will surely find its purchasing power eroded over time.”

“When the financial history of this decade is written, it will surely speak of the Internet bubble of the late 1990s and the housing bubble of the early 2000s,” he went on. “But the U.S. Treasury bond bubble of late 2008 may be regarded as almost equally extraordinary.”[72]

In September of 2009, an article on CNN reported of the dangers if China were to start dumping US Treasuries, which “could cause longer-term interest rates to shoot up since bond prices and yields move in opposite directions,” as a weakening US currency could lead to inflation, which would in turn, reduce the value and worth of China’s holdings in US Treasuries.[73]

It has become a waiting game; an economic catch-22: China holds US debt (Treasuries) which allows the US to spend to “save the economy” (or more accurately, the banks), but all the spending has plunged the US into such abysmal debt from which it will never be able to emerge. The result is that inflation will likely occur, with a possibility of hyperinflation, thus reducing the value of the US currency. China’s economy is entirely dependent upon the US as a consumer economy, while the US is dependent upon China as a buyer and holder of US debt. Both countries are delaying the inevitable. If China doesn’t want to hold worthless investments (US debt) it must stop buying US Treasuries, and then international faith in the US currency would begin to fall, forcing interest rates to rise, which could even precipitate a speculative assault against the US dollar. At the same time, a collapsing US currency and economy would not help China’s economy, which would tumble with it. So, it has become a waiting game.

In February of 2010, the Financial Times reported that China had begun in December of 2009, the process of dumping US Treasuries, and thus falling behind Japan as the largest holder of US debt, selling approximately $38.8 billion of US Treasuries, as “Foreign demand for US Treasury bonds fell by a record amount”:

The fall in demand comes as countries retreat from the “flight to safety” strategy they embarked on at the peak of the global financial crisis and could mean the US will have to pay more in debt interest.

For China, the sale of US Treasuries marks a reversal that it signalled last year when it said it would begin to reduce some of its holdings. Any changes in its behaviour are politically sensitive because it is the biggest US trade partner and has helped to finance US deficits.

Alan Ruskin, a strategist at RBS Securities, said that China’s behaviour showed that it felt “saturated” with Treasury paper. The change of sentiment could hurt the dollar and the Treasury market as the US has to look to other countries for financing.[74]

So, China has given the US a vote of non-confidence. This is evident of the slippery-slide down the road to a collapse of the US economy, and possibly, the US dollar, itself.

Is a Debt Crisis Coming to America?

All the warning signs are there: America is in dire straights when it comes to its total debt, proper actions have not been taken to reform the monetary or financial systems, the same problems remain prevalent, and the bailout and stimulus packages have further exposed the United States to astronomical debt levels. While the dollar will likely continue to go up as confidence in the Eurozone economies tumbles, this is not because the dollar is a good investment, but because the dollar is simply a better investment (for now) than the Euro, which isn’t saying much.

The Chinese moves to begin dumping US Treasuries is a signal that the issue of American debt has already weighed in on the functions and movements of the global financial system. While the day of reckoning may be months if not years away, it is coming nonetheless.

On February 15, it was reported that the Federal Reserve, having pumped $2.2 trillion into the economy, “must start pulling that money back.” As the Fed reportedly bought roughly $2 trillion in bad assets, it is now debating “how and when to sell those assets.”[75] As the Korea Times reported, “The problem: Do it too quickly and the Fed might cut off or curtail the recovery. Wait too long and risk setting off a punishing round of inflation.”[76]

In mid-February, there were reports of dissent within the Federal Reserve System, as Thomas Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, warned that, “The US must fix its growing debt problems or risk a new financial crisis.” He explained, “that rising debt was infringing on the central bank’s ability to fulfill its goals of maintaining price stability and long-term economic growth.” In January, he was the lone voice at a Fed meeting that said interest rates should not remain near zero for an “extended period.” He said the worst case scenario would be for the US government to have to again ask the Fed to print more money, and instead suggested that, “the administration must find ways to cut spending and generate revenue,” admitting that it would be a “painful and politically inconvenient” process.[77]

However, these reports are largely disingenuous, as it has placed focus on a superficial debt level. The United States, even prior to the onset of the economic crisis in 2007 and 2008, had long been a reckless spender. The cost of maintaining an empire is astronomical and beyond the actual means of any nation. Historically, the collapse of empires has as much or more to do with a collapse in their currency and fiscal system than their military defeat or collapse in war. Also important to note is that these processes are not mutually exclusive, but are, in fact, intricately interconnected.

As empires decline, the world order is increasingly marred in economic crises and international conflict. As the crisis in the economy worsens, international conflict and wars spread. As I have amply documented elsewhere, the United States, since the end of World War II, has been the global hegemon: maintaining the largest military force in the world, and not shying away from using it, as well as running the global monetary system. Since the 1970s, the US dollar has acted as a world reserve currency. Following the collapse of the USSR, the grand imperial strategy of America was to dominate Eurasia and control the world militarily and economically.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, An Imperial Strategy for a New World Order: The Origins of World War III. Global Research: October 16, 2009]

Throughout the years of the Bush administration, the imperial strategy was given immense new life under the guise of the “war on terror.” Under this banner, the United States declared war on the world and all who oppose its hegemony. All the while, the administration colluded with the big banks and the Federal Reserve to artificially maintain the economic system. In the latter years of the Bush administration, this illusion began to come tumbling down. Never before in history has such a large nation wages multiple major theatre wars around the world without the public at home being fiscally restrained in some manner, either through higher taxes or interest rates. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The trillion dollar wars plunged the United States deeper into debt.

By 2007, the year that Northern Rock collapsed in the UK, signaling the start of the collapse of 2008, the total debt – domestic, commercial and consumer debt – of the United States stood at a shocking $51 trillion.[78]

As if this debt burden was not enough, considering it would be impossible to ever pay back, the past two years has seen the most expansive and rapid debt expansion ever seen in world history – in the form of stimulus and bailout packages around the world. In July of 2009, it was reported that, “U.S. taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as $23.7 trillion to bolster the economy and bail out financial companies, said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.”[79]

That is worth noting once again: the “bailout” bill implemented under Bush, and fully supported and sponsored by President-elect Obama, has possibly bailed out the financial sector of up to $23.7 trillion. How could this be? After all, the public was told that the “bailout” was $700 billion.

In fact, the fine print in the bailout bill revealed that $700 billion was not a ceiling, as in, $700 billion was not the maximum amount of money that could be injected into the banks; it was the maximum that could be injected into the financial system “at any one time.” Thus, it became a “rolling amount.” It essentially created a back-door loophole for the major global banks, both domestic and foreign, to plunder the nation and loot it entirely. There was no limit to the money banks could get from the Fed. And none of the actions would be subject to review or oversight by Congress or the Judiciary, i.e., the people.[80]

This is why, as Obama became President in late January of 2009, his administration fully implemented the financial coup over the United States. The man who had been responsible for orchestrating the bailout of AIG, the buyout of Bear Stearns as a gift for JP Morgan Chase, and had been elected to run the Federal Reserve Bank of New York by the major global banks in New York (chief among them, JP Morgan Chase), had suddenly become Treasury Secretary under Obama. The Fed, and thus, the banks were now put directly in charge of the looting.

Obama then took on a team of economic advisers that made any astute economic observer flinch in terror. The titans of economic crisis and catastrophe had become the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Those who were instrumental in creating and constructing the economic crises of the previous decades and building the instruments and infrastructure that led to the current crisis, were with Obama, brought in to “solve” the crisis they created. Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and architect of the 1980s debt crisis, was now a top economic adviser to Obama. As well as this, Lawrence Summers joined Obama’s economic team, who had previously been instrumental in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department in dismantling all banking regulations and creating the market for speculation and derivatives which directly led to the current crisis.

In short, the financial oligarchy is in absolute control of the United States government. Concurrently, the military structure of the American empire has firmly established its grip over foreign policy, as America’s wars are expanded into Pakistan, Yemen, and potentially Iran.

Make no mistake, a crisis is coming to America, it is only a question of when, and how severe.

Imperial Decline and the Rise of the New World Order

The decline of the American empire, an inevitable result of its half-century of exerting its political and economic hegemony around the world, is not an isolated event in the global political economy. The US declines concurrently with the rise of what is termed the “New World Order.”

America has been used by powerful western banking and corporate interests as an engine of empire, expanding their influence across the globe. Banks have no armies, so they must control nations; banks have no products, so they must control industries; banks have only money, and interest earned on it. Thus, they must ensure that industry and governments alike borrow money en masse to the point where they are so indebted, they can never emerge. As a result, governments and industries become subservient to the banking interests. Banks achieved this masterful feat through the construction of the global central banking system.

Bankers took control first of Great Britain through the Bank of England, building up the massive might of the British Empire, and spread into the rest of Europe, creating central banks in the major European empires. In the 20th Century, the central bankers took control of the United States through the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, prior to the outbreak of World War I.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Global Power and Global Government: Evolution and Revolution of the Central Banking System. Global Research: July 21, 2009]

Following World War I, a restructuring of the world order was undertaken. In part, these actions paved the way to the Great Depression, which struck in 1929. The Great Depression was created as a result of the major banks engaging in speculation, which was actively encouraged and financed by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks.

As a result of the Great Depression, a new institution was formed, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), based in Basle, Switzerland. As historian Carroll Quigley explained, the BIS was formed to “remedy the decline of London as the world’s financial center by providing a mechanism by which a world with three chief financial centers in London, New York, and Paris could still operate as one.” He explained:

[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able  to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.[81]

The new order that is being constructed is not one in which there is another single global power, as many commentators suggest China may become, but rather that a multi-polar world order is constructed, in which the global political economy is restructured into a global governance structure: in short, the new world order is to be marked by the construction of a world government.

This is the context in which the solutions to the global economic crisis are being implemented. In April of 2009, the G20 set into motion the plans to form a global currency, which would presumably replace the US dollar as the world reserve currency. This new currency would either be operated through the IMF or the BIS, and would be a reserve currency whose value is determined as a basket of currencies (such as the dollar, yen, euro, etc), which would play off of one another, and whose value would be fixed to the global currency.

This process is being implemented, through long-term planning, simultaneously as we see the further emergence of regional currencies, as not only the Euro, but plans and discussions for other regional currencies are underway in North America, South America, the Gulf states, Africa and East Asia.

A 1988 article in the Economist foretold of a coming global currency by 2018, in which the author wrote that countries would have to give up monetary and economic sovereignty, however:

Several more big exchange-rate upsets, a few more stockmarket crashes and probably a slump or two will be needed before politicians are willing to face squarely up to that choice. This points to a muddled sequence of emergency followed by patch-up followed by emergency, stretching out far beyond 2018-except for two things. As time passes, the damage caused by currency instability is gradually going to mount; and the very trends that will make it mount are making the utopia of monetary union feasible.[82]

To create a global currency, and thus a global system of economic governance, the world would have to be plunged into economic and currency crises to force governments to take the necessary actions in moving towards a global currency.

From 1998 onwards, there have been several calls for the formation of a global central bank, and in the midst of the global economic crisis of 2008, renewed calls and actual actions and efforts undertaken by the G20 have sped up the development of a “global Fed” and world currency. A global central bank is being offered as a solution to prevent a future global economic crisis from occurring.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Financial New World Order: Towards a Global Currency and World Government. Global Research: April 6, 2009]

In March of 2008, closely following the collapse of Bear Stearns, a major financial firm released a report stating that, “Financial firms face a ‘new world order’,” and that major banks would become much larger through mergers and acquisitions. There would be a new world order of banking consolidation.[83]

In November of 2008, The National, a prominent United Arab Emirate newspaper, reported on Baron David de Rothschild accompanying Prime Minister Gordon Brown on a visit to the Middle East, although not as a “part of the official party” accompanying Brown. Following an interview with the Baron, it was reported that, “Rothschild shares most people’s view that there is a new world order. In his opinion, banks will deleverage and there will be a new form of global governance.”[84]

In February of 2009, the Times Online reported that a “New world order in banking [is] necessary,” and that, “It is increasingly evident that the world needs a new banking system and that it should not bear much resemblance to the one that has failed so spectacularly.”[85] However, what the article fails to point out is that the ‘new world order in banking’ is to be constructed by the bankers.

This process is going hand-in-hand with the formation of a new world order in global political structures, following the economic trends. As regionalism was spurred by economic initiatives, such as regional trading blocs and currency groupings, the political structure of a regional government followed closely behind. Europe was the first to undertake this initiative, with the formation of a European trading bloc, which became an economic union and eventually a currency union, and which, as a result of the recently passed Lisbon Treaty, is being formally established into a political union.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Forging a “New World Order” Under a One World Government. Global Research: August 13, 2009]

The new world order consists of the formation of regional governance structures, which are themselves submissive to a global governance structure, both economically and politically.

‘New Capitalism’

In the construction of a ‘New World Order’, the capitalist system is under intense reform. Capitalism has, since its inception, altered its nature and forms. In the midst of the current global economic crisis, the construction of the ‘New Capitalism’ is based upon the ‘China model’; that is, ‘Totalitarian Capitalism’.

Governments will no longer stand behind the ‘public relations’ – propagandized illusion of ‘protecting the people’. When an economy collapses, the governments throw away their public obligations, and act for the interests of their private owners. Governments will come to the aid of the powerful banks and corporations, not the people, as “The bourgeoisie resorts to fascism less in response to disturbances in the street than in response to disturbances in their own economic system.”[86] During a large economic crisis:

[The state] rescues business enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing the masses to foot the bill. Such enterprises are kept alive with subsidies, tax exemptions, orders for public works and armaments. In short, the state thrusts itself into the breach left by the vanishing private customers. [. . . ] Such maneuvers are difficult under a democratic regime [because people still] have some means of defense [and are] still capable of setting some limit to the insatiable demands of the money power. [In] certain countries and under certain conditions, the bourgeoisie throws its traditional democracy overboard.[87]

Those who proclaim the actions of western governments ‘socialist’ are misled, as the ‘solutions’ are of a different nature. Daniel Guerin wrote in Fascism and Big Business about the nature of the fascist economies of Italy and Germany in the lead up to World War II. Guerin wrote of the actions of Italian and German governments to bail out big businesses and banks in an economic crisis:

It would be a mistake to interpret this state intervention as ‘socialist’ in character. It is brought about not in the interest of the community but in the exclusive interest of the capitalists.[88]

Fascist economic policy:

[I]ssues paper and ruins the national currency at the expense of all the people who live on fixed incomes from investments, savings, pensions, government salaries, etc., – and also the working class, whose wages remain stable or lag far behind the rise in the cost of living. [. . .] The enormous expenses of the fascist state do not appear in the official budget, [hiding the inflation].[89]

[. . . ] The hidden inflation produces the same effects as open inflation: the purchasing power of money is lessened.[90]

The bureaucracy of the fascist state becomes much more powerful in directing the economy, and is advised by the ‘capitalist magnates’, who “become the economic high command – no longer concealed, as previously, but official – of the state. Permanent contact is established between them and the bureaucratic apparatus. They dictate, and the bureaucracy executes.”[91] This is exactly the nature of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, most especially since the Obama administration took office.

In November of 2008, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) issued a report in collaboration between all sixteen US intelligence agencies and major international foundations and think tanks, in which they assessed and analyzed general trends in the world until 2025. When it reported on trends in ‘democratization’, discussing the spread and nature of democracy in the world, the report warned:

[A]dvances [in democracy] are likely to slow and globalization will subject many recently democratized countries to increasing social and economic pressures that could undermine liberal institutions. [. . . ] The better economic performance of many authoritarian governments could sow doubts among some about democracy as the best form of government.

[. . . ] Even in many well-established democracies [i.e., the West], surveys show growing frustration with the current workings of democratic government and questioning among elites over the ability of democratic governments to take the bold actions necessary to deal rapidly and effectively with the growing number of transnational challenges.[92]

The warning from Daniel Guerin is vital to understanding this trend: “The bourgeoisie resorts to fascism less in response to disturbances in the street than in response to disturbances in their own economic system.”[93] Totalitarianism is on the rise, as David Lyon wrote:

The ultimate feature of the totalitarian domination is the absence of exit, which can be achieved temporarily by closing borders, but permanently only by a truly global reach that would render the very notion of exit meaningless. This in itself justifies questions about the totalitarian potential of globalization. [. . . ] Is abolition of borders intrinsically (morally) good, because they symbolize barriers that needlessly separate and exclude people, or are they potential lines of resistance, refuge and difference that may save us from the totalitarian abyss? [I]f globalization undermines the tested, state-based models of democracy, the world may be vulnerable to a global totalitarian etatization, [i.e., centralization and control].[94]

In 2007, the British Defense Ministry released a report in which they analyzed future trends in the world. It stated in regards to social problems, “The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx.” Interestingly:

The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: ‘The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest’. Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the ‘sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism’.[95]

The general trend has thus become the reformation of the capitalist system into a system based upon the ‘China model’ of totalitarian capitalism. The capitalist class fear potential revolutionary sentiment among the middle and lower classes of the world. Obama was a well-packaged Wall Street product, sold to the American people and the people of the world on the promise of ‘Hope’ and ‘Change.’ Obama was put in place to pacify resistance.

Prior to Obama becoming President, the American people were becoming united in their opposition against not only the Bush administration, but Congress and the government in general. Both the president and Congress were equally hated; the people were uniting. Since Obama became President, the people have been turned against one another: ‘conservatives’ blame the ‘liberals’ and ‘socialists’ for all the problems, pointing fingers at Obama (who is nothing more than a figurehead), while those on the left point at the Republicans and ‘conservatives’ and Bush, placing all the blame on them. The right defends the Republicans; the left defends Obama. The people have been divided, arguably more so than at any time in recent history.

In dividing the people against each other, those in power have been able to quell resistance against them, and have continued to loot and plunder the nation and people, while using its military might to loot and plunder foreign nations and people. Obama is not to provide hope and change for the American people; his purpose was to provide the illusion of ‘change’ and provide ‘hope’ to the elites in preventing a purposeful and powerful opposition or rebellion among the people. Meanwhile, the government has been preparing for the potentiality of great social and civil unrest following a future collapse or crisis. Instead of coming to the aid of the people, the government is preparing to control and oppress the people.

Could Martial Law Come to America?

Processes undertaken in the American political establishment in previous decades, and rapidly accelerated under the Bush administration and carried on by the Obama administration, have set the course for the imposition of a military government in America. Readily armed with an oppressive state apparatus and backed by the heavy surveillance state apparatus, the ‘Homeland Security’ state is about controlling the population, not protecting them.

In January of 2006, KBR, a subsidiary of the then-Vice President Cheney’s former corporation, Halliburton, received a contract from the Department of Homeland Security:

[T]o support the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency. [The contract] has a maximum total value of $385 million over a five-year term, consisting of a one-year based period and four one-year options, the competitively awarded contract will be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 through 2005.

[It further] provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs. [. . . ] The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. [emphasis added][96]

Put simply, the contract is to develop a system of ‘internment camps’ inside the United States to be used in times of ‘emergency’. Further, as Peter Dale Scott revealed in his book, The Road to 9/11:

On February 6, 2007, homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the fiscal year 2007 federal budget would allocate more than $400 million to add sixty-seven hundred additional detention beds (an increase of 32 percent over 2006). [This was] in partial fulfillment of an ambitious ten-year Homeland Security strategic plan, code-named Endgame, authorized in 2003, [designed to] remove all removable aliens [and] potential terrorists.[97]

As Scott previously wrote, “the contract evoked ominous memories of Oliver North’s controversial Rex-84 ‘readiness exercise’ in 1984. This called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to round up and detain 400,000 imaginary ‘refugees,’ in the context of ‘uncontrolled population movements’ over the Mexican border into the United States.” However, it was to be a cover for the rounding up of ‘subversives’ and ‘dissenters’. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the ‘Pentagon papers’ in 1971, stated that, “Almost certainly this [new contract] is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters.”[98]

In February of 2008, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, co-authored by a former US Congressman, reported that, “Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.”[99]

Further, in February of 2008, the Vancouver Sun reported that:

Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other’s borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal. [. . .] Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas [but the] U.S. military’s Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation in a civil emergency.

[. . . ] If U.S. forces were to come into Canada they would be under tactical control of the Canadian Forces but still under the command of the U.S. military.[100]

Commenting on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Yale law and political science professor Bruce Ackerman wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the legislation “authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.” Further, it states that the legislation “grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.” Not only that, but, “ordinary Americans would be required to defend themselves before a military tribunal without the constitutional guarantees provided in criminal trials.” Startlingly, “Legal residents who aren’t citizens are treated even more harshly. The bill entirely cuts off their access to federal habeas corpus, leaving them at the mercy of the president’s suspicions.”[101]

Senator Patrick Leahey made a statement on February 2007 in which he discussed the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, saying:

Last year, Congress quietly made it easier for this President or any President to declare martial law. That’s right: In legislation added at the Administration’s request to last year’s massive Defense Authorization Bill, it has now become easier to bypass longtime posse comitatus restrictions that prevent the federal government’s use of the military, including a federalized National Guard, to perform domestic law enforcement duties.

He added that, “posse comitatus [is] the legal doctrine that bars the use of the military for law enforcement directed at the American people here at home.” The Bill is an amendment to the Insurrection Act, of which Leahey further commented:

When the Insurrection Act is invoked, the President can — without the consent of the respective governors — federalize the National Guard and use it, along with the entire military, to carry out law enforcement duties. [This] is a sweeping grant of authority to the President. [. . . ] In addition to the cases of insurrection, the Act can now be invoked to restore public order after a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, or — and this is extremely broad — ‘other condition’.[102]

On May 9, 2007, the White House issued a press release about the National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51, also known as the “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive.” This directive:

[P]rescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.

The document defines “catastrophic emergency” as, “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.” It explains “Continuity of Government” (COG), as “a coordinated effort within the Federal Government’s executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency.” [emphasis added]

The directive states that, “The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.”[103]

Essentially, in time of a “catastrophic emergency”, the President takes over total control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government in order to secure “continuity”. In essence, the Presidency would become an “Executive Dictatorship”.

In late September of 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis, the Army Times, an official media outlet of the Pentagon, reported that, “Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army,” as the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, having spent years patrolling Iraq, are now “training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.” Further:

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.[104]

None of the authorizations, bills, executive orders, or contracts related to the declaration of marital law and suspension of democracy in the event of an ‘emergency’ have been repealed by the Obama administration.

In fact, as the New York Times revealed in July 2009, the Obama administration has decidedly left in place the Bush administration decisions regarding the government response to a national emergency in ‘Continuity of Government’ (COG) plans in establishing a ‘shadow government’:

A shift in authority has given military officials at the White House a bigger operational role in creating a backup government if the nation’s capital were “decapitated” by a terrorist attack or other calamity, according to current and former officials involved in the decision.

The move, which was made in the closing weeks of the administration of President George W. Bush, came after months of heated internal debate about the balance of power and the role of the military in a time of crisis, participants said. Officials said the Obama administration had left the plan essentially intact.

Under the revamped structure, the White House Military Office, which reports to the office of the White House chief of staff, has assumed a more central role in setting up a temporary “shadow government” in a crisis.

The Obama administration announced that their continuity plans were ‘settled’ and they “drew no distance between their own policies and those left behind by the Bush administration.”[105] In July of 2009, it was also reported on moves by the Obama administration to implement a system of ‘preventive detention’. With this, any semblance of democratic accountability and freedom have been utterly gutted and disemboweled; the Republic is officially dead:

[‘Preventive detention’] is to be a permanent, institutionalized detention scheme with the power vested in the President going forward to imprison people with no charges.

[. . . ] Manifestly, this isn’t about anything other than institutionalizing what has clearly emerged as the central premise of the Obama Justice System:  picking and choosing what level of due process each individual accused Terrorist is accorded, to be determined exclusively by what process ensures that the state will always win.   If they know they’ll convict you in a real court proceeding, they’ll give you one; if they think they might lose there, they’ll put you in a military commission; if they’re still not sure they will win, they’ll just indefinitely imprison you without any charges.

[. . .] It’s Kafkaesque show trials in their most perverse form:  the outcome is pre-determined (guilty and imprisoned) and only the process changes.  That’s especially true since, even where a miscalculation causes someone to be tried but then acquitted, the power to detain them could still be asserted.[106]

Society, and with it, any remaining ‘democracy’ is being closed down. In this economic crisis, as Daniel Guerin warned decades ago, the financial oligarchy have chosen to ‘throw democracy overboard’, and have opted for the other option: totalitarian capitalism; fascism.

In Conclusion

The current crisis is not merely a failure of the US housing bubble, that is but a symptom of a much wider and far-reaching problem. The nations of the world are mired in exorbitant debt loads, as the sovereign debt crisis spreads across the globe, entire economies will crumble, and currencies will collapse while the banks consolidate and grow. The result will be to properly implement and construct the apparatus of a global government structure. A central facet of this is the formation of a global central bank and a global currency.

The people of the world have been lulled into a false sense of security and complacency, living under the illusion of an economic recovery. The fact remains: it is only an illusion, and eventually, it will come tumbling down. The people have been conned into handing their governments over to the banks, and the banks have been looting and pillaging the treasuries and wealth of nations, and all the while, and making the people pay for it.

There never was a story of more woe, than that of human kind, and their monied foe.

Truly, the people of the world do need a new world order, but not one determined and constructed by and for those who have created the past failed world orders. It must be a world order directed and determined by the people of the world, not the powerful. But to do this, the people must take back the power.

The way to achieving a stable economy is along the path of peace. War and economic crises play off of one another, and are systematically linked. Imperialism is the driver of this system, and behind it, the banking establishment as the financier.

Peace is the only way forward, in both political and economic realms. Peace is the pre-requisite for social sustainability and for a truly great civilization.

The people of the world must pursue and work for peace and justice on a global scale: economically, politically, socially, scientifically, artistically, and personally. It’s asking a lot, but it’s our only option. We need to have ‘hope’, a word often strewn around with little intent to the point where it has come to represent failed expectations. We need hope in ourselves, in our ability to throw off the shackles that bind us and in our diversity and creativity construct a new world that will benefit all.

No one knows what this world would look like, or how exactly to get there, least of all myself. What we do know is what it doesn’t look like, and what road to steer clear of. The time has come to retake our rightful place as the commanders of our own lives. It must be freedom for all, or freedom for none. This is our world, and we have been given the gift of the human mind and critical thought, which no other living being can rightfully boast; what a shame it would be to waste it.

 

Notes

[1]        Dan Harris, Pessimism Porn? Economic Forecasts Get Lurid. ABC News: April 9, 2009: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=7299825&page=1

Hugo Lindgren, Pessimism Porn. New York Magazine: February 1, 2009: http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/53858/

[2]        Joseph B. Treaster, Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend. John Wiley and Sons, 2004: page 38

[3]        Joseph B. Treaster, Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend. John Wiley and Sons, 2004: page 36

[4]        Joseph B. Treaster, Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend. John Wiley and Sons, 2004: page 37

[5]        Joseph B. Treaster, Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend. John Wiley and Sons, 2004: page 38

[6]        Joseph B. Treaster, Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend. John Wiley and Sons, 2004: pages 57-60

[7]        Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, The Missionary position: NGOs and development in Africa. International Affairs: Issue 78, Vol. 3, 2002: pages 567-568

[8]        Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, The Missionary position: NGOs and development in Africa. International Affairs: Issue 78, Vol. 3, 2002: page 568

[9]        Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, The Missionary position: NGOs and development in Africa. International Affairs: Issue 78, Vol. 3, 2002: page 578

[10]      Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, The Missionary position: NGOs and development in Africa. International Affairs: Issue 78, Vol. 3, 2002: page 579

[11]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, BIS warns of Great Depression dangers from credit spree. The Telegraph: June 27, 2009:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/2811081/BIS-warns-of-Great-Depression-dangers-from-credit-spree.html

[12]      Gill Montia, Central bank body warns of Great Depression. Banking Times: June 9, 2008:

 http://www.bankingtimes.co.uk/09062008-central-bank-body-warns-of-great-depression/

[13]      David Reilly, Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows: David Reilly. Bloomberg: January 29, 2010: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aaIuE.W8RAuU

[14]      AP, Bernanke, Paulson: Congress must act now. MSNBC: September 23, 2008: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26850571/

[15]      Chris Isidore, Paulson, Bernanke: Slow growth ahead. CNN Money: February 14, 2008: http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/14/news/economy/bernanke_paulson/index.htm

[16]      People should be more scared than mad, Paulson says. Politico: September 24, 2008: http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0908/People_should_be_more_scared_than_mad_Paulson_says.html

[17]      Chris Martenson, What the latest bailout plan means. ChrisMartenson.com: September 21, 2008: http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/what-latest-bailout-plan-means/5149

[18]      Alison Fitzgerald and John Brinsley, Treasury Seeks Authority to Buy $700 Billion Assets. Bloomberg: September 20, 2008: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aZ2aFDx8_idM&refer=home

[19]      Larisa Alexandrovna, Welcome to the final stages of the coup. Huffington Post: September 29, 2008: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larisa-alexandrovna/welcome-to-the-final-stag_b_127990.html

[20]      Liam Halligan, A default by the US government is no longer unthinkable. The Telegraph: September 20, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/liamhalligan/3023967/A-default-by-the-US-government-is-no-longer-unthinkable.html

[21]      Mike Allen, Exclusive: Foreign banks may get help. Politico: September 21, 2008: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13690.html

[22]      Steve Watson, Democratic Congressman: Representatives Were Threatened With Martial Law In America Over Bailout Bill. Infowars.com: October 3, 2008: http://www.infowars.net/articles/october2008/031008Sherman.htm

[23]      Ryan Grim, Dick Durbin: Banks “Frankly Own The Place”. Huffington Post: April 29, 2009: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/29/dick-durbin-banks-frankly_n_193010.html

[24]      GRETCHEN MORGENSON and DON VAN NATTA Jr., In Crisis, Banks Dig In for Fight Against Rules. The New York Times: May 31, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/business/01lobby.html

[25]      Kerry Capell, The Stunning Collapse of Iceland. BusinessWeek: October 9, 2008: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/oct2008/gb2008109_947306.htm?chan=globalbiz_europe+index+page_top+stories

[26]      Toby Sanger, Iceland’s Economic Meltdown Is a Big Flashing Warning Sign. AlterNet: October 21, 2008: http://www.alternet.org/economy/103525/iceland%27s_economic_meltdown_is_a_big_flashing_warning_sign/?comments=view&cID=1038826&pID=1038711

[27]      Tracy McVeigh, The party’s over for Iceland, the island that tried to buy the world. The Observer: October 5, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/05/iceland.creditcrunch

[28]      Ibid.

[29]      Arsaell Valfells, Gordon Brown Killed Iceland. Forbes: October 16, 2008: http://www.forbes.com/2008/10/16/brown-iceland-britain-oped-cx_av_valfells.html?referer=sphere_related_content&referer=sphere_related_content

[30]      Ibid.

[31]      Councils ‘not reckless with cash’. BBC: October 10, 2008: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7660438.stm

[32]      Economic programme in cooperation with IMF. The Icelandic Government Information Centre: October 24, 2008: http://www.iceland.org/info/iceland-imf-program/

[33]      David Ibison, Iceland’s rescue package flounders. The Financial Times: November 12, 2008

[34]      David Blair, Financial crisis causes Iceland’s government to collapse. The Telegraph: January 27, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/iceland/4348312/Financial-crisis-causes-Icelands-government-to-collapse.html

[35]      Iceland applies to join European Union. CNN: July 17, 2009: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/07/17/iceland.eu.application/index.html?iref=newssearch

[36]      Omar Valdimarsson, Iceland parliament approves debt bill. Reuters: August 28, 2009: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE57R3B920090828

[37]      Rowena Mason, IMF and Sweden to delay Iceland loans. The Telegraph: January 14, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/6990795/IMF-and-Sweden-to-delay-Iceland-loans.html

[38]      Justyna Pawlak, EU to recommend start of Iceland talks – EU official. Reuters: February 16, 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE61F25D20100216

[39]      Paul Lewis, Dubai’s six-year building boom grinds to halt as financial crisis takes hold. The Guardian: February 13, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/13/dubai-boom-halt

[40]      Larry Elliott and Heather Stewart, Fears of double-dip recession grow as Dubai crashes. The Guardian: November 26, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/nov/26/double-dip-recession-dubai-debt

[41]      Hugh Tomlinson, UAE minister claims Dubai crisis is over. The Times Online: December 17, 2009: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article6960523.ece

[42]      AP, Dubai debt fears resurface as questions linger. Forbes: February 16, 2010: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2010/02/16/business-financials-ml-dubai-financial-crisis_7359531.html

[43]      Alastair Marsh, Markets hit as fears over Dubai debt rekindled. The Independent: February 16, 2010: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/markets-hit-as-fears-over-dubai-debt-rekindled-1900730.html

[44]      Ed Harris, Greece turns to Socialists to fight economic crisis. London Evening Standard: October 5, 2009: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23752278-greece-turns-to-socialists-to-fight-economic-crisis.do

[45]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Greece defies Europe as EMU crisis turns deadly serious. The Telegraph: December 13, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/6804156/Greece-defies-Europe-as-EMU-crisis-turns-deadly-serious.html

[46]      Elena Becatoros, Greece prepares economic crisis plan. The Globe and Mail: December 14, 2009: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/greece-prepares-economic-crisis-plan/article1399496/

[47]      LOUISE STORY, LANDON THOMAS Jr. and NELSON D. SCHWARTZ, Wall St. Helped to Mask Debt Fueling Europe’s Crisis. The New York Times: February 13, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1266501631-XefUT62RSKhWj6xKSCX37Q

[48]      Ibid.

[49]      Sam Fleming and Kirsty Walker, The euro? It’s a great success, says Mandy as Greece turmoil sends single currency into worst ever crisis. The UK Daily Mail: February 12, 2010: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250094/Greece-debt-crisis-Britons-pay-3-5bn-bailout.html

[50]      Kate Connolly, Greek debt crisis: the view from Germany. The Guardian: February 11, 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/11/germany-greece-tax-debt-crisis

[51]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Greece loses EU voting power in blow to sovereignty. The Telegraph: February 16, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/7252288/Greece-loses-EU-voting-power-in-blow-to-sovereignty.html

[52]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Fears of ‘Lehman-style’ tsunami as crisis hits Spain and Portugal. The Telegraph: February 4, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/7159456/Fears-of-Lehman-style-tsunami-as-crisis-hits-Spain-and-Portugal.html

[53]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, BIS warns of Great Depression dangers from credit spree. The Telegraph: June 25, 2007: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/2811081/BIS-warns-of-Great-Depression-dangers-from-credit-spree.html

[54]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, BIS slams central banks, warns of worse crunch to come. The Telegraph: June 30, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/2792450/BIS-slams-central-banks-warns-of-worse-crunch-to-come.html

[55]      Heather Scoffield, Financial repairs must continue: central banks. The Globe and Mail: July 29, 2009: http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090629.wcentralbanks0629/BNStory/HEATHER+SCOFFIELD/

[56]      Simone Meier, BIS Sees Risk Central Banks Will Raise Interest Rates Too Late. Bloomberg: June 29, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601068&sid=aOnSy9jXFKaY

[57]      David Uren, Bank for International Settlements warning over stimulus benefits. The Australian: June 30, 2009: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/bank-for-international-settlements-warning-over-stimulus-benefits/story-0-1225743622643

[58]      Edmund Conway, S&P’s warning to Britain marks the next stage of this global crisis. The Telegraph: May 23, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/recession/5373334/SandPs-warning-to-Britain-marks-the-next-stage-of-this-global-crisis.html

[59]      Robert Cookson and Sundeep Tucker, Economist warns of double-dip recession. The Financial Times: September 14, 2009: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e6dd31f0-a133-11de-a88d-00144feabdc0.html

[60]      Patrick Jenkins, BIS head worried by complacency. The Financial Times: September 20, 2009: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a7a04972-a60c-11de-8c92-00144feabdc0.html?catid=4&SID=google

[61]      Robert Cookson and Victor Mallet, Societal soul-searching casts shadow over big banks. The Financial Times: September 18, 2009: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7721033c-a3ea-11de-9fed-00144feabdc0.html

[62]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Derivatives still pose huge risk, says BIS. The Telegraph: September 13, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/6184496/Derivatives-still-pose-huge-risk-says-BIS.html

[63]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Morgan Stanley fears UK sovereign debt crisis in 2010. The Telegraph: November 30, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/6693162/Morgan-Stanley-fears-UK-sovereign-debt-crisis-in-2010.html

[64]      Ibid.

[65]      Brett Arends, What a Sovereign-Debt Crisis Could Mean for You. The Wall Street Journal: December 18, 2009: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703323704574602030789251824.html

[66]      Edmund Conway, A 2010 sovereign debt crisis could still cause UK banking chaos. The Telegraph: January 4, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/6928164/A-2010-sovereign-debt-crisis-could-still-cause-UK-banking-chaos.html

[67]      Edmund Conway, ‘Significant chance’ of second financial crisis, warns World Economic Forum. The Telegraph: January 14, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/davos/6990433/Significant-chance-of-second-financial-crisis-warns-World-Economic-Forum.html

[68]      Nouriel Roubini and Arpitha Bykere, The Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis. Forbes: January 14, 2010: http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/13/sovereign-debt-crisis-opinions-colummnists-nouriel-roubini-arpitha-bykere.html

[69]      Niall Ferguson, A Greek crisis is coming to America. The Financial Times: February 10, 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f90bca10-1679-11df-bf44-00144feab49a.html

[70]      Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Clinton Urges China to Keep Buying U.S. Treasury Securities. Bloomberg: February 22, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=apSqGtcNsqSY

[71]      Agencies, China to keep buying US Treasuries: central banker. China Daily: March 23, 2009: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2009-03/23/content_7606971.htm

[72]      Jonathan Stempel, Buffett says U.S. Treasury bubble one for the ages. Reuters: February 28, 2009: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE51R1Q720090228

[73]      Paul R. La Monica, China still likes us … for now. CNN Money: September 16, 2009: http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/16/markets/thebuzz/index.htm

[74]      Alan Rappeport, Foreign demand falls for Treasuries. The Financial Times: February 17, 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f06667d2-1b63-11df-838f-00144feab49a.html

[75]      Barrie McKenna, Fed weighs sale of mortgage securities. CTV: February 17, 2010: http://www.ctv.ca/generic/generated/static/business/article1471824.html

[76]      Dale McFeatters, Fed Plans to Wind Down $2.2 Tril. Stake. Korea Times: February 15, 2010: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2010/02/160_60822.html

[77]      Alan Rappeport, Lone voice warns of debt threat to Fed. The Financial Times: February 16, 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c918b8dc-1b37-11df-953f-00144feab49a.html

[78]      FIABIC, US home prices the most vital indicator for turnaround. FIABIC Asia Pacific: January 19, 2009: http://www.fiabci-asiapacific.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=133&Itemid=41

Alexander Green, The National Debt: The Biggest Threat to Your Financial Future. Investment U: August 25, 2008: http://www.investmentu.com/IUEL/2008/August/the-national-debt.html

John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, Financial Implosion and Stagnation. Global Research: May 20, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13692

[79]      Dawn Kopecki and Catherine Dodge, U.S. Rescue May Reach $23.7 Trillion, Barofsky Says (Update3). Bloomberg: July 20, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aY0tX8UysIaM

[80]      Chris Martenson, What the latest bailout plan means. ChrisMartenson.com: September 21, 2008: http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/what-latest-bailout-plan-means/5149

[81]      Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (New York: Macmillan Company, 1966), 324-325

[82]      Get ready for the phoenix. The Economist: Vol. 306: January 9, 1988: pages 9-10

[83]      Walden Siew, Banks face “new world order,” consolidation: report. Reuters: March 17, 2008: http://www.reuters.com/article/innovationNews/idUSN1743541720080317

[84]      Rupert Wright, The first barons of banking. The National: November 6, 2008: http://www.thenational.ae/article/20081106/BUSINESS/167536298/1005

[85]      Michael Lafferty, New world order in banking necessary after abject failure of present model. The Times Online: February 24, 2009: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/management/article5792585.ece

[86]      Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 22

[87]      Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 23

[88]      Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 215

[89]      Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 224

[90]      Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 230

[91]      Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 239

[92]      NIC, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council’s 2025 Project: November, 2008: pages 87:
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[93]      Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 22

[94]      David Lyon, Theorizing surveillance: the panopticon and beyond. Willan Publishing, 2006: page 71

[95]      Richard Norton-Taylor, Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips. A grim vision of the future. The Guardian: April 9, 2007:
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[96]      KBR, KBR Awarded U.S. Department of Homeland Security Contingency Support Project for Emergency Support Services. Press Releases: 2006 Archive, January 24, 2006: http://www.kbr.com/news/2006/govnews_060124.aspx

[97]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007, page 240

[98]      Peter Dale Scott, Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps. Pacific News Service: February 8, 2006:
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[99]      Lewis Seiler and Dan Hamburg, Rule by Fear or Rule by Law? The San Francisco Chronicle: February 4, 2008:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/04/ED5OUPQJ7.DTL

[100]    David Pugliese, Canada-U.S. pact allows cross-border military activity. The  Vancouver Sun: February 23, 2008:

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[101]    Bruce Ackerman, The White House Warden. Los Angeles Times: September 28, 2006: 

http://www.law.yale.edu/news/3531.htm

[102]    Patrick Leahy, Statement Of Sen. Patrick Leahy On Legislation To Repeal Changes To  The Insurrection Act. February 7, 2007:  http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200702/020707.html

[103]    The White House, National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive.  Office of the Press Secretary: May 9, 2007:

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[104]    Gina Cavallaro, Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1. The Army Times: September 30, 2008: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/

[105]    ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN, Power Shifts in Plan for Capital Calamity. The New York Times: July 27, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/28/us/politics/28continuity.html

[106]    Glen Greenwald, First steps taken to implement preventive detention, military commissions. Salon: July 21, 2009: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/07/21/detention/index.html

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is currently studying Political Economy and History at Simon Fraser University.

‘IAEA report biased’

February 21st, 2010 by Global Research

Global Research Editor’s Note

Washington’s overture to Damascus is intended to create divisions between Iran and Syria, which would leave Tehran isolated in regards to US NATO sponsored sanctions and military threats.

DAMASCUS/TEHRAN: Syria is determined to help its ally Iran and the West engage in a “constructive” dialogue over Tehran’s contested nuclear programme, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Saturday.

“Sanctions are not a solution (to the problem) between Iran and the West,” Muallem said during a joint press conference with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger.

“We are trying to engage a constructive dialogue between the two parties in order to reach a peaceful solution,” Muallem said.

He also insisted that despite Western claims, “Iran does not have a nuclear military programme.”

Western governments suspect that Iran’s nuclear programme is cover for a drive for a bomb and are seeking to rein in its moves started earlier this month to enrich uranium to 20 percent level, seen as a milestone in that process.

Iran strongly denies it has any such ambition and maintains its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purpose.

Tehran has been slapped with three sets of UN sanctions and Western governments are pushing for a fourth round of sanctions after Iran’s failure to heed Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment and to agree to a UN-drafted deal for the supply of nuclear fuel.

Elsewhere Muallem said that a warming up of Syrian-US diplomatic ties is “extremely important to set up a launch pad which could one day help the resumption of direct negotiations between Syria and Israel.”

Earlier this week, US President Barack Obama named a new ambassador to Syria, filling a five-year void amid a dispute over Syria’s military and political involvement in neighbouring Lebanon.

Syria has been Iran’s major regional ally for the past three decades, ever since taking its side in its 1980-88 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iran’s former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani lashed out at the UN nuclear watchdog on Saturday for presenting what he said was a biased report against Tehran.

“It is clearly evident that a part of this report has been presented following recommendation and under the influence of foreign elements,” Rafsanjani said, referring to Thursday’s release of a report by the UN body expressing “concerns” that Tehran could be developing a nuclear warhead.

“It can not be said that this is the work of an independent international centre,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Rafsanjani as saying about the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Thursday, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, in a blunt first report to the watchdog’s board of governors, expressed concern Iran might be seeking to develop a nuclear warhead. “The information available to the agency… raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” Amano wrote. Iranian officials have dismissed the report and the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei again denied on Friday that Tehran was seeking atomic weapons.

Iran maintains its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purpose, but world powers suspect the Islamic republic is covertly aiming to develop a weapons capability.

Rafsanjani, who has been severely criticised by hardliners for backing groups inside Iran opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the report was a “psychological war by the United States and others” against the Islamic republic.

“The volume of threats and biased political suggestions which seek to generate a consensus against Iran have been unprecedented. But they will not prevail,” he said. Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast too criticised the IAEA report.

“We expect the IAEA to preserve its identity and reputation and not allow the political will of some countries to be imposed on the world community,” Mehmanparast said, according to IRNA.

Denouncing the report as a Western attempt at politically pressurising Iran, Mehmanparast also questioned the position of nations that are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and have acquired nuclear weapons without similar levels of criticism.

“These countries have nuclear weapons, but nobody questions them,” he said in a clear allusion to Israel, which has the Midde East’s sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal.

While bank bailouts fatten Wall Street, states continue to battle the credit crisis.  In the search for innovative solutions, some political candidates are proposing that states generate their own credit by setting up their own banks.

State budgets for 2010 face the largest shortfalls on record, totaling $194 billion or 28 percent of state budgets; and 2011 is expected to be worse.  Unemployment has already officially hit 10 percent, and many economists expect it to rise higher. Continued high unemployment will keep state income tax receipts at low levels and increase demand for Medicaid and other essential services states provide.  The existing alternatives are spending cuts or tax increases, but both will just serve to make the downturn deeper.  When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, eliminate or lower payments to businesses and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, and cut benefit payments to individuals. The result is a reduction in overall demand.  Tax increases also remove demand, by reducing the amount of money people have to spend.  

Amanda Paulson, writing in The Christian Science Monitor, quotes Arturo Pérez, fiscal analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, which released its survey of state budget situations in December:

“Unless you’re North Dakota, you’re probably a state that has had some degree of difficulty or crisis involving finances.  It’s the worst situation states have faced in decades, perhaps going as far back as the Great Depression in some states.”

“Unless you’re North Dakota” – a state with a sizeable budget surplus, and the only state that is adding jobs when other states are losing them.  A poll reported on February 13 ranked that weather-challenged state first in the country for citizen satisfaction with their standard of living.  North Dakota’s affluence has been attributed to oil, but other states with oil are in deep financial trouble.  The big drop in oil and natural gas prices propelled Oklahoma into a budget gap that is 18.5% of its general-fund budget.  California is also resource-rich, with a $2 trillion economy; yet it has a worse credit rating than Greece.  So what is so special about North Dakota?  The answer seems to be that it is the only state in the union that owns its own bank.  It doesn’t have to rely on a recalcitrant Wall Street for credit.  It makes its own. 

Candidates Across the Political Spectrum Pick Up on the Public Bank Model

In the quest to find ways to divorce the well-being of their states from the financial sector, a growing number of candidates are picking up on the public bank alternative.  Florida, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, Idaho and California all have candidates whose platforms contain this proposed solution to the credit crisis. 

A publicly-owned bank has also been proposed on the federal level.  Nationalizing the Federal Reserve (which is not actually federal but is owned by a consortium of private banks) was advocated by 2008 Presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat, and Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate.  In 2009, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz said the government would have been better off funding a federally-owned bank than doling out trillions of dollars to private investment banks and CEOs who speculated their way into bankruptcy. Speaking at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on March 6, 2009, he said:

“If we had used the $700 billion to create a new financial institution, allowed it to lever 10 to 1, which is very modest compared to the 30 to 1 that we were doing, 10 to 1 would have generated $7 trillion of new lending capacity, far in excess of what our country needs.  So the issue here is not about lending.  It’s really about saving the bankers. And what we confused was saving the banks versus saving the bankers and their shareholders.”

But nationalizing the Federal Reserve faces powerful opponents in Congress.  Meanwhile, on the state level the public bank concept is gaining ground, attracting proponents across the political spectrum, including Democrats, Republicans and Greens.  The issue transcends party lines.  In North Dakota, a Republican state, the state-owned bank was inaugurated by a political party appropriately called the “Non-Partisan League.” 

Oregon: The Bankers’ Bank Model

In Oregon, Bill Bradbury has included a state bank platform in his bid for governor.  Bradbury, a Democrat, was formerly secretary of state and has been endorsed by former Vice President Al Gore.  His website declares:

“It is time to put Oregonians back to work. It is also time to declare economic sovereignty from the multi-national banks that in large part are responsible for much of our current economic crisis. We can achieve these two goals by creating our own bank.”

The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, reported that Bradbury plans to deposit tax revenues in the public-interest bank, keeping Oregon’s money in Oregon.  The bank would then lend the money to get the economy going again, targeting small and medium-sized businesses.  Interest would be poured back into the state through more loans to start-up businesses, agriculture, and other key sectors. Currently, Oregon deposits hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues into large out-of-state banks, siphoning the money off from productive in-state uses. Many of these banks are the very banks needing federal bailouts to keep from failing in 2008, after years of handing out risky mortgage loans. These banks have now grown tight-fisted with Main Street borrowers, making Bradbury’s plan to get money flowing again especially appealing to Oregonian voters.

Bradbury uses the Bank of North Dakota (BND) as his model. Like the BND, the Bank of Oregon would return a dividend to the state based on its earnings, while creating jobs and stimulating the economy through lending. The state bank would not replace private banking institutions but would partner with them, particularly with community banks, providing them with new customers and helping them provide new services. To assure the state bank’s independence from existing financial powers, Bradbury proposes that a board of directors appointed by Oregon’s Senate should govern the bank, while taking advice from an advisory committee of experts.

Idaho: Keeping State Assets in the State

In Idaho, James Stivers, a Republican candidate for the State Senate, has also proposed a state bank to fill state coffers and protect the local economy. In the first indication of a political shift among grassroots Republicans, Stivers swept a closed-ballot preference poll at the GOP District 2 Central Committee meeting in Coeur d’Alene on February 13, winning the non-binding poll 10-0. Stivers declares:

“An important part of sovereignty is the monetary authority. Currently, banks are allowed to multiply many times over the tax receipts deposited in their institutions. This special privilege is partly responsible for the ‘sucking sound’ in our local economies, as regional banks send their assets to central banks that are playing the derivatives markets of the world.

“A state bank would restore this privilege to the people in a public trust and would give us the opportunity to back our deposits with the wealth from our public lands.”

Stivers sees the bank as a way to facilitate small business startups, end the ability of private banks to cream profits from the public treasury, protect key budget items, and stave off excessive influence from the federal government.  He suggests the novel approach of expanding the role of Idaho’s Bond Bank authority into a full-fledged state bank.  The current banking system, he says, causes inflation, one of the “greatest detriments to a living wage”:

 “Inflation is caused by the secret tax of the banking industry in which lenders use the multiplier effect to the benefit of their cronies.  This secret tax takes the form of a decline in the value of the dollar and results in higher prices. Wages never keep up with this process because its very purpose is to extract wealth from the wage earner to support the privileged classes who curry the favor of lenders. A state bank would restore this privilege to the people in a public trust and would give us the opportunity to back our deposits with the wealth from our public lands.”

Illinois: Using a State-owned Bank to Fund Infrastructure

In Illinois, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney has other ideas for a state-owned bank.  Illinois is listed by the Pew Center for the States as one of nine states confronting historic budget problems.  In a recent response to the governor’s State of the State Address, Whitney said:

“I am the only candidate in this race who proposes to fund public improvements, and promote economic health, without any further tax increases, through the establishment of a state bank, a progressive idea that North Dakota adopted years ago, and that has helped keep that state debt-free even in these troubled economic times. Instead of going into more and more debt, to further enrich private banks, we should be using our tax revenue to further invest in our own State and its people, for the enrichment of our own economy.”

The bank would use tax revenues and pension contributions as the financial base to expand credit where it is most needed. Illinois’ bank would borrow from the Federal Reserve at the same 1 percent rate as commercial banks.  Once the budget was balanced, Whitney’s top priorities would be to use the new money to modernize energy infrastructure and promote solar and wind power. To achieve this, property owners of land where wind and solar generators could be located would be lent money through the state bank at a minimal 1 percent interest rate. To secure repayment, Whitney would require utilities to buy power from the solar and wind-based producers at a premium rate. One option would then be to require part of this premium to be paid to the state bank until the loan is returned.  This arrangement, says Whitney, would create a win-win situation:

“The bank is paid back. The homeowner, farmer or business investing in solar or wind generation realizes immediate savings on energy costs and in many cases will go from being a net consumer to a net producer of energy. Their greater income will further stimulate the economy. The utilities will have to pay the cost of the premium rate but in the long run will realize the benefits of having a greater, stable, more diversified and decentralized energy grid, ultimately cheaper in the face of rising fossil fuel prices. As economies of scale are realized in wind and solar power generation, the costs will fall, as will the necessary premium rate. And we all benefit from the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Florida: The Commercial Bank Model

Economist and author Farid Khavari, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida, proposes a state-owned bank that would lend directly to borrowers. The Bank of North Dakota usually uses a “lead lender” such as a bank, savings and loan company, or credit union rather than doing commercial lending directly.  Dr. Khavari maintains that the Bank of the State of Florida could be launched at no cost to taxpayers by using the state’s assets as the reserves for making loans, employing the same fractional reserve lending rules used by private banks today.  In this way, he says, the bank could drive an “economic miracle” in Florida, instigating massive job creation, cutting costs in half or more, providing low interest financing to homeowners and businesses, and improving teacher salaries and care for veterans and the elderly, while at the same reducing taxes. He explains:

“The economy is collapsing due to lack of demand. The economy needs money, but the banks are cutting credit, and then sucking all the cash out of the economy by raising interest rates to make sure no one has any cash left at the end of the month. The cost of interest is built into the cost of everything. People already work ten years of their lives just to pay interest in one form or another. The Bank of the State of Florida will end that for Floridians. And this model will work for every state. . . .

“We can pay 6% interest on savings. Using the same fractional reserve rules as all banks, we can create $900 of new money through loans for every $100 in deposits. We can loan that $900 in the form of 2% fixed rate 15-year mortgages, for example, and the state can earn $12 every year for every $100 in deposits. That means Floridians can save tens of billions of dollars per year while the state earns billions making it possible for them.

 “State and local government budgets will balance without higher taxes when the BSF cuts interest costs.  6% BSF credit cards will save people billions per month, money that stays in Florida instead of going to the big banks—and the state will make huge profits on that, too.  Saving billions in interest costs will create millions of jobs without subsidies just by keeping those billions circulating in Florida. Eventually the state will earn enough to reduce and eliminate state and local taxes while every Floridian has economic security in a recession-proof Florida.”  

The Federal Reserve states on its website that the banking system as a whole leverages $100 in deposits into $900 in loans, but whether a single bank can do it alone has been challenged.  Critics say that while banks do create money as loans, they have to replace the deposits when the checks leave the bank in order for the checks to clear.  How this all works is a bit complicated and will be the subject of another article, but suffice it to say here in response that if a bank does not have the deposits to cover its outgoing checks, it borrows from the interbank lending market at very low rates, or issues commercial paper or CDs; and the state bank could do the same thing.  It would not be fighting with the other banks for old deposits.  Loans create new deposits, which can be borrowed back from the pool of “excess deposits” thereby created.  Ninety-seven percent of the money supply has been created by commercial banks by turning loans into deposits, but that credit machine has frozen up.  A state bank could get it flowing again.

California: Catching the Wave

California leads the nation in the sheer size of its budget gap.  It too now has a gubernatorial candidate proposing to alleviate the state’s credit woes with a state-owned bank.  Running on the Green Party ticket, Laura Wells is a former financial analyst who received 420,000 votes in her 2002 bid for State Controller, more than any other Green Party candidate has earned in a partisan statewide race.  According to her website:

“Rather than drowning in debt and begging Wall Street for loans, California can institute a State Bank that invests in California’s infrastructure, and future generations.”

She stated in a comment, “A state bank for California is part of my platform as a candidate for the Green Party nomination for Governor. I ran for State Controller to ‘Follow the Money.’ Now, we need to Fix the Money. A state bank would keep California’s wealth in the state. Rather than invest in Wall Street (we’ve hit the wall on that one) we can invest in our infrastructure and our future generations.”

Legislative Proposals

It is not just political hopefuls who are exploring the public bank option.  Therese Murray currently presides over the Massachusetts State Senate.  She has introduced legislation that would study the formation of a state-owned bank with the principal aim of boosting job creation in the state.  Massachusetts now faces a 9.4 percent unemployment rate.  “It wouldn’t be in competition with our small community banks,” she says.  “We’ve got to free up some credit, and mortgage companies and banks have got to do a better job of allowing people to redo their mortgages.” 

In Virginia, Congressman Bob Marshall, a Republican, introduced a bill in January to study whether to establish a bank that was owned, run, and controlled by the state.  However, the plan was tabled in committee. 

On February 16, the front page of the Huffington Post featured an article on the Bank of North Dakota and the precedent it sets for financially-strapped states.  Besides political candidates promoting this option, it noted that a Washington State legislator and a Vermont House committee were exploring it.

North Dakota hit the Wall Street wall in 1919, when the Bank of North Dakota was established by the state legislature specifically to free farmers and small businessmen from the clutches of out-of-state bankers.  For over 90 years, it has demonstrated the success of the public banking model.  Other credit-choked states are finally taking notice and devising their own variations on the theme.

Ellen Brown developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her eleven books include Forbidden Medicine, Nature’s Pharmacy (co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker), and The Key to Ultimate Health (co-authored with Dr. Richard Hansen). Her websites are www.webofdebt.com, www.ellenbrown.com, and www.public-banking.com.

VANCOUVER, Canada – Critics are concerned that private military contractors are positioning themselves at the centre of an emerging “shock doctrine” for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Next month, a prominent umbrella organisation for private military and logistic corporations, the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), is co-organising a “Haiti summit” which aims to bring together “leading officials” for “private consultations with attending contractors and investors” in Miami, Florida.

Dubbed the “mercenary trade association” by journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: the Rise of the World’ Most Powerful Mercenary Army”, the IPOA wasted no time setting up a “Haiti Earthquake Support” page on its website following the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country.

IPOA’s director Doug Brooks says, “The first contacts we got were journalists looking for security when they went in.” The website of IPOA member company, Hart Security, says they are currently in Haiti “supporting clients from the fields of media, consultancy and medical in their disaster recovery efforts.” Several other IPOA members have either bid on or received contracts for work in Haiti.

Likewise, the private military contractor, Raidon Tactics, has at least 30 former U.S. Special Operations soldiers on the ground, where they have been guarding aid convoys and providing security for “news agencies,” according to a Raidon employee who told IPS his company received over 1,000 phone calls in response to an ad posting “for open positions for Static Security Positions and Mobile Security Positions” in Haiti.

Just over a week following the earthquake, the IPOA teamed up with Global Investment Summits (GIS), a UK-based private company that specialises in bringing private contractors and government officials from “emerging post-conflict countries” together, to host an “Afghanistan Reconstruction Summit”, in Istanbul, Turkey. It was there, says IPOA’s director Doug Brooks, that the idea for the Haiti summit was hatched “over beers”.

GIS’s CEO, Kevin Lumb, told IPS that the key feature of the Haiti summit will be “what we call roundtables, [where] we put the ministers and their procurement people, and arrange appointments with contractors.” Lumb added that his company “specialise[s] in putting governments together [with private contractors].”

IPOA was “so pleased” with the Afghanistan summit, says Lumb, they asked GIS to do “all the organising, all the selling” for the Haiti summit. Lumb pointed out that all of the profits from the event will be donated to the Clinton-Bush Haiti relief fund.

While acknowledging that there will be a “a commercial angle” to the event and that “major companies, major players in the world” have committed to attend, Lumb declined to name most of the participants.

One of the companies Lumb did mention is DACC Associates, a private contractor that specialises in management and security consulting with contracts providing “advice and counsel” to governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

DACC President Douglas Melvin, a former Special Forces commander, State Department official and director of Security and Administrative Services for President George W. Bush, acknowledged that “from a revenue perspective, yes there’s wonderful opportunities at these events.”

Melvin added that he believes most attendees will be “coming together for the right reasons,” a genuine concern for Haiti, are “not coming to exploit” the dire situation there, and does not expect his company to profit off of their potential contracts there.

Naomi Klein, author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”, is concerned that the thesis of her best-selling book will once again be tested in Haiti. She told IPS in an e-mail, “Haiti doesn’t need cookie cutter one-size fits all reconstruction, designed by the same gang that made same such a hash of Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans – and indeed the same people responsible for the decimation of Haiti’s own economy in the name of ‘aid.’”

Unhappy with critics’ characterisation of the IPOA, Brooks said, “If Scahill and Klein have the resources, the capabilities, the equipment, to go in and do it themselves then more power to them.”

University of California at Los Angeles professor Nandini Gunewardena, co-editor of “Capitalizing on Catastrophe: Neoliberal Strategies in Disaster Reconstruction,” told IPS that “privatisation is not the way to go for disaster assistance.”

“Traditionally, corporations have positioned themselves in a way that they benefit at the expense of the people. We cannot afford for that to happen in Haiti,” she said, adding that “any kind of intermediate or long-term assistance strategy has to be framed within that framework of human security.”

This, according to the U.N-.based Commission on Human Security, means “creating political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural systems that together give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity.”

Denouncing the “standard recipe of neoliberal policies,” Gunewardena said, “If private corporations are going to contribute to Haiti’s restoration, they have to be held accountable, not to their own standards, but to those of the people.”

Reached by telephone, Haiti’s former Minister of Defence under the first presidency of Jean Bertand Aristide, Patrick Elie, agreed. He’s worried about the potential privatisation of his country’s rebuilding, “because these private companies [aren't] liable, you can’t take them to the United Nations, you can’t take them to The Hague, and they operate in kind of legal limbo. And they are the more dangerous for it.”

Elie, who accepted a position as advisor to President Rene Preval following the earthquake, added “These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster, and probably money that might have been injected into the Haitian economy is going to be just grabbed by these companies and I’m sure that they are not only these mercenary companies but also the other companies like Halliburton or these other ones that always [come] on the heels of the troops.”

In its 2008 report, “Private Security Contractors at War: Ending the Culture of Impunity,” the NGO Human Rights First decried the “failure of the U.S. government to effectively control their actions, and in particular the inability or unwillingness of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to hold them criminally responsible for their illegal actions.”

The IPOA’s Brooks told IPS that members of the Haitian diaspora and Haiti’s embassy have been invited and are “going to be a big part” of the summit.

While stressing that it’s impossible to know the exact details of an event that is planned outside of public scrutiny, Elie countered that if high-level Haitian officials were to participate, “It’s either out of ignorance or complicity.”

Worried that Haiti is already seeing armed contractors in addition to the presence of more than 20,000 U.S., Canadian, and U.N. soldiers, Elie says he has seen private contractors accompanying NGOs, “walking about carrying assault rifles.”

If the U.S. military pulls out and hands over the armed presence to private contractors, “It opens the door to all kinds of abuses. Let’s face it, the Haitian state is too weak to really deal efficiently with this kind of threat if it materialises,” he said.

The history of post-disaster political economy has shown that such a threat is all too likely, says Elie. “We’ve seen it happen so many times before that whenever there is a disaster, there are a bunch of vultures trying to profit from it, whether it’s a man-made disaster like Iraq, or a nature-made disaster like Haiti.”

Airport Security: Welcome to Scannergate

February 21st, 2010 by Tom Burghardt

Call them what you will: bottom feeders, corporate con-men, flim-flam artists, peddlers of crisis, you name it.

You can’t help but marvel how enterprising security firms have the uncanny ability to sniff-out new opportunities wherever they can find, or manufacture, them.

After all, nothing sells like fear and in “new normal” America fear is an industry with a limitless growth potential.

While Republicans and Democrats squabble over who’s “tougher” when it comes to invading and pillaging other nations (in the interest of “spreading democracy” mind you), a planetary grift dubbed the “War on Terror,” waiting in the wings are America’s new snake-oil salesmen.

Welcome to Scannergate!

With airport security all the rage, companies that manufacture whole body imaging technologies and body-scanners stand to make a bundle as a result of last December’s aborted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Like their kissin’ cousins at the Pentagon, poised to bag a $708 billion dollar windfall in the 2011 budget, securocrats over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stand to vacuum-up some $56.3 billion next year, a $6 billion increase.

According to the agency’s February 1 budget announcement, funding requirements will prioritize “efforts to enhance security measures that protect against terrorism and other threats … reflecting the Department’s commitment to fiscal discipline and efficiency.”

In keeping with America’s unstoppable slide to the right, President Obama created a commission on Thursday by executive order promising to “fix” the yawning budget deficit by establishing–what else!–a “bipartisan fiscal commission.”

Promising to “slash” the deficit, by shredding the already-tattered social safety net, disemboweling programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Obama named former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles to lead the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, BusinessWeek reported.

According to the World Socialist Web Site, Simpson, a troglodytic right-winger, told The Washington Post, “How did we get to a point in America where you get to a certain age in life, regardless of net worth or income, and you’re ‘entitled’?” he asked. “The word itself is killing us.”

Bowles, a major fundraiser for the Clinton’s, is “currently on the board of directors of Morgan Stanley, one of the big five Wall Street investment houses” as well as a director of General Motors, socialist critic Patrick Martin informs us. Tellingly, “Bowles served as chairman of the compensation committee at both companies, and still holds that position at Morgan Stanley, making him the point man for the awarding of eight-figure salaries and bonuses to the executives of both companies,” Martin averred.

“Off the table,” are any proposals that would slash the Pentagon’s bloated budget or any of the other fiscal goodies financing the “War on Terror.”

Reflecting Homeland Security’s “fiscal discipline and responsibility,” at the top of the wish-list are what officials describe as increased spending for Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).

In 2011, the Department says it is requesting $217.7M to “install 500 advanced imaging technology machines at airport checkpoints to detect dangerous materials, including non-metallic materials.”

“This request,” coupled “with planned deployments for 2010, will provide AIT coverage at 75 percent of Category X airports and 60 percent of the total lanes at Category X through II airports.”

Next up is a $218.9M demand for “Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to Staff AITs.” New funds are required for “additional TSOs, managers and associated support costs to operate AITs at airport checkpoints.”

You can’t have one without the other, so it’s a real job creator and win-win all around! Right? Well, not exactly…

Annals of Homeland Stupidity

As a secret state agency, TSA has proven itself so effective in protecting us from terrorists, especially the “homegrown” variety referred to in the literature as “clean skins,” that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit February 10 on behalf of Pomona College student Nicholas George.

According to the civil liberties’ watchdog group, George was “abusively interrogated, handcuffed and detained for nearly five hours at the Philadelphia International Airport,” by TSA, Philadelphia police and the FBI. His “crime”? George was kept prisoner because “of a set of English-Arabic flashcards he was carrying in connection with his college language studies.”

Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a press release: “Nick George was handcuffed, locked in a cell for hours and questioned about 9/11 simply because he has chosen to study Arabic, a language that is spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world. This sort of harassment of innocent travelers is a waste of time and a violation of the Constitution.”

Memo to the ACLU: as is well known to Fox News viewers and Glenn Beck fans, only “terrorists” speak Arabic; ipso facto, George is a terrorist. How else explain his dubious interest in learning a language spoken by none other than Osama bin Laden himself!

But wait, there’s more!

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported February 15 that the four-year-old disabled son of a Camden, NJ police officer “wasn’t allowed to pass through airport security” until he took his leg braces off!

Inquirer columnist Daniel Rubin writes, “Ryan was taking his first flight, to Walt Disney World, for his fourth birthday.” Developmentally delayed, the result of his premature birth, the child had just starting walking in March.

After breaking down the stroller, the family passed through the metal detector when, ding! ding! ding! the alarm sounded. That’s when the screener told the family: either take off the leg braces or no Disney World for you, suckers.

Understandably, the family was “dumbfounded” by TSA’s insensitive behavior. Ryan’s father, Bob Thomas said, “I told them he can’t walk without them on his own.”

“He [the screener] said, ‘He’ll need to take them off’.”

Reluctantly, they complied and the family passed through, in single file. Mercifully, the child made it without falling.

Quite naturally, the parents were “furious.”

Rubin reports that after demanding to see a supervisor, one of TSA’s “finest” asked the couple “what was wrong.”

“I told him, ‘This is overkill. He’s 4 years old. I don’t think he’s a terrorist.’”

The supervisor told Bob Thomas and his wife, Leona, “You know why we’re doing this.”

(Yes, we know all-too-well why you’re “doing this.”)

Keeping Us “Safe”

Why does TSA need nearly a half billion dollars in taxpayer-funded largesse? Because “passenger screening is critical to detecting and preventing individual carrying dangerous or deadly objects from boarding planes,” grammar-challenged DHS securocrats inform us.

Right, it keeps us safe!

Wait a minute, didn’t Heimat Secretary Janet Napolitano tell CNN reporter Candy Crowley on the Sunday chat show “State on the Union” December 27 that “the system worked,” after a real terrorist, not a college kid or four-year-old, nearly brought down an airliner with a bomb hidden in his underwear?

Perhaps what Ms. Napolitano meant to say is that the system would have worked if TSA’s “Intelligence Community” partners over at the NCTC and CIA hadn’t allowed Abdulmutallab, a watch listed individual, to board Flight 253 on Christmas Day.

After all, as NCTC’s Director Michael E. Leiter testified January 20 before the Senate Homeland Security Committee they wanted him “here in the country for some reason or another.”

Wouldn’t it be reasonable then, to conclude that handing out even more boodle to corporate grifters won’t keep us any safer.

Heavens no!

On New Year’s eve, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff penned a Washington Post op-ed that argued “whole-body imagers” should be deployed world-wide.

Countering critics who charge that said scanners are overly-intrusive and will do little or nothing to stop a determined individual from smuggling a liquid bomb onto a plane, Chertoff dismissed naysayers as uninformed Cassandras.

“From the outset” Chertoff declared, “deployment of the machines has been vigorously opposed by some groups.” Citing charges by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that body-scanners amount to a virtual strip-search, Chertoff said such claims are “calculated to alarm the public.”

According to the former Bushist official, “it’s either pat downs or imaging.”

Currently TSA has fielded 40 machines at 19 airports with more on the way. Indeed, the agency handed out a $25 million contract last October to Rapiscan Security Systems for 30 more peep-show devices with funds generously provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

What Chertoff failed to disclose however, is that since leaving the secret state’s employ his security consulting firm, The Chertoff Group, “includes a client that manufactures the machines” according to The Washington Post.

Nevertheless, in the wake of the Christmas Day provocation, TSA announced in January “it will order 300 more machines.”

While Rapiscan was the only company to qualify for the contract “because it had developed technology that performs the screening using a less-graphic body imaging system,” the Post reports that the giant defense and security firm, L-3 Communications, have jogged onto the field and are eager to grab as much as they can.

Not everyone however, is enthralled with Chertoff’s shameless strategem to feather his own nest.

Kate Hanni, the founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes scanner deployment told the Post, “Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive.”

Hanni wrote a blog post January 29, citing a 2005 study published by the Canadian Journal of Police & Security Services “that there is not one end-all, be-all way to prevent terrorists from smuggling explosives on board airliners.”

“The Rapiscan full-body scanner” is less than adequate when it comes to detecting liquid explosives, Hanni avers.

“In fact” she writes, “though it can depict a person’s unclothed body with shocking detail (a virtual strip search), it is capable of detecting only objects within one tenth of an inch of the outer skin on a human body. Translation: A terrorist who conceals explosives in a body cavity, crevice, adult diaper, feminine protection, etc., will walk through a full-body scanner completely undetected.”

But since “abusing the public trust” amounts to little more than business as usual in Washington, one can be reasonably certain that security grifters will make a killing exploiting America’s latest panic: the dreaded “body-scanner gap.”

Laughing All the Way to the Bank

To get the skinny on scanners however, one needs to refer to numerous investigative reports published in the press–the British press, that is.

The Independent on Sunday reported January 3, that the “explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports, an expert on the technology warned last night.”

Indeed, officials at the British Department of Transport and the Home Office “already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would work comprehensively against terrorist threats to aviation.”

Since December’s failed attack, TSA has touted the efficacy of deploying “millimeter-wave” whole body scanners that come with a hefty built-in price tag.

One security expert, Conservative MP Ben Wallace told IoS that scientists at the UK defense firm Qinetiq, a powerhouse in the “homeland security” market in Britain and the U.S., demonstrated that “the millimetre-wave scanners picked up shrapnel and heavy wax and metal, but plastic, chemicals and liquids were missed.”

“If a material is low density, such as powder, liquid or thin plastic–as well as the passenger’s clothing–the millimetre waves pass through and the object is not shown on screen,” journalist Jane Merrick informs us.

Wallace added, “X-ray scanners were also unlikely to have detected the Christmas Day bomb.”

Why then would TSA be so keen on such an enormous cash outlay for a technology with a less than sterling track record?

The Guardian reported January 18 that since the aborted attack, “investors have been quick to spot a rapid profit.”

Guardian correspondent Andrew Clark tells us that Michael Chertoff’s client, Rapiscan, “has seen its shares in its parent company, OSI Systems, leap by 27% since Christmas. American Science and Engineering, is up by 16% and has deployed its chief executive to have his own body scanned on live television.”

The Financial Times reported January 4, that Rapiscan’s “executive vice-president for global government affairs, said interest in the company’s full-body scanners, which are approved for use in the US, had been ‘extreme’.”

“We are spending a tremendous amount of time right now answering questions about production capacity, delivery capabilities and basically mapping out positioning in airports,” the executive told the Financial Times.

You bet they are!

Business analysts said that “installing scanners within the US could cost $300m–paid for, in part, by economic stimulus money.”

And, as American security officials strong-arm other nations into scanning passengers on U.S.-bound flights “the outlay could double internationally,” The Guardian averred.

Los Angeles-based Imperial Capital analyst Michael Kim told The Guardian, “We estimate that there are approximately 2,000 security lanes at US airports, each of which would require a body scanning machine if that’s the route the TSA chooses to take. Our information is that the cost of each scanner is around $150,000.”

But Rapiscan isn’t the only game in town and will soon be facing stiff competition from security giant L-3 Communications.

Clocking-in at No. 8 on Washington Technology’s “Top 100″ list of prime federal contractors with some $4,236,653,555 in revenues, L-3 has entered the heimat market in a big way.

Heavily-leveraged in defense and security, major customers include the Defense Department, with contracts from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. While the firm’s business lines include C3ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), L-3 provides extensive IT support to NSA on its illegal domestic surveillance and data mining programs.

L-3′s move has already proved to be a boon to shareholders. The Guardian reported that TSA has ordered “$165m-worth of scanners, using both millimetre and X-ray technology” from the firm.

While L-3 will reap a windfall from the American people, Government Accountability Office investigators reported in 2008 that the firm has 15 foreign subsidiaries in C3ISR powerhouses such as Barbados (1), Bermuda (1), Cayman Islands (1), Costa Rica (1), Hong Kong (1), Ireland (1), Singapore (5) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (3).

As Antifascist Calling revealed February 14, moving operations offshore helped defense contractors reduce taxes owed to federal and state governments by avoiding Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance payroll taxes for American workers hired by the foreign subsidiaries.

Another statistic the firm is probably not too keen on publicizing is their prominent place on the Project on Government Oversight’s (POGO) Federal Contractor Misconduct Database that tracks government contracts to firms “with histories of misconduct such as contract fraud and environmental, ethics, and labor violations.”

Listed at No. 7, POGO reports that L-3 has been fined some $43.2M for the “Misappropriation of Proprietary P-3 Aircraft Data; Fraudulent Overbilling on IT Support Services Contracts; False Claims (Iraq Reconstruction); Bribery (Baghdad, Iraq); Court Martial of a Civilian Contractor” and for the “Overbilling on Helicopter Maintenance Contracts in Iraq.”

Not that any of this matters to our corrupt representatives in Congress.

During the 2008 election cycle, L-3′s Political Action Committee handed-out some $603,839 to compliant officials in Washington, according to the Center for Responsive Politic’s OpenSecrets.org data base.

Democrats received the lion’s share of the boodle, bagging 64%, while Republicans nabbed only 34% of the firm’s congressional investments. Unsurprisingly, Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, scored $10,000 from the L-3 PAC.

In 2010, the campaign finance watchdogs report that the L-3 PAC is headed for a new record with $441,456 already on hand as of January 31, with 66% going to “change” Democrats and 33% to “conservative” Republicans.

All in all, L-3 is a perfect partner for DHS securocrats and congressional regulators, with House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), pulling down $10,000 from L-3 to “keep us safe,” according to OpenSecrets.

No matter; billions in federal dollars are at stake for our corporatist masters. As is readily observable every day–from the bank bailout to the ongoing home foreclosure crisis, and from endless wars of aggression to massive domestic spying–the business of government, first, last and always, is business and the American people be damned.

Preface: Please skip to the end of this essay (entitled “Why Should I Care?”) if you want to see why this issue is important to the economy, civil rights, and the political causes which are most important to you.

Governments from around the world admit they carry out false flag terror:

  • A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland. Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson
  • The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister
  • Israel admits that an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this)
  • As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960′s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Official State Department documents show that – only nine months before – the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country
  • An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author)
  • According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.
  • The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings
  • As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the “war on terror”.
  • Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”
  • United Press International reported in June 2005:

    U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

Why Should I Care?

You may ask yourself “why should I care?”

You should care because terrorism harms the economy. Specifically, a study by Harvard and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) points out:

From an economic standpoint, terrorism has been described to have four main effects (see, e.g., US Congress, Joint Economic Committee, 2002). First, the capital stock (human and physical) of a country is reduced as a result of terrorist attacks. Second, the terrorist threat induces higher levels of uncertainty. Third, terrorism promotes increases in counter-terrorism expenditures, drawing resources from productive sectors for use in security. Fourth, terrorism is known to affect negatively specific industries such as tourism.

The Harvard/NBER concludes:

In accordance with the predictions of the model, higher levels of terrorist risks are associated with lower levels of net foreign direct investment positions, even after controlling for other types of country risks. On average, a standard deviation increase in the terrorist risk is associated with a fall in the net foreign direct investment position of about 5 percent of GDP.

Moreover:

Terrorism has contributed to a decline in the global economy (for example, European Commission, 2001).

And see this.

In addition, you should care because terror causes governments to strip liberties and civil rights from the people:

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”
- Plato

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
- U.S. President James Madison

“Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”.
- Adolph Hitler

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
- Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.
- Josef Stalin

Indeed, the political causes you hold most dear will be derailed if false flag terror is carried out. To see that this is true, let’s take a step back ..

Imagine, if you would, that you were a citizen in Germany right after the example of false flag terror by the Nazis discussed above had occurred. Do you believe you could have stopped the government from invading Poland by reminding Germans that war is bad and peace is good? Do you imagine you could have stopped the brownshirts and loss of domestic rights by writing about the desirability of civil liberties? Do you think that you could have convinced people that protecting the environment, or addressing human or civil rights, or helping the poor, or education, or equality, or any other political crusade was more important than “protecting the Fatherland” when Germans were terrified for their safety?

Please think about it.

The German people were whipped up into a state of hysteria and fear, because they thought they were under attack by Poles and other “bad guys”. The German’s were in shock, and rallied around their “strong” leader (it wasn’t just the bad economy). Without first exposing the truth that the attacks were false flag attacks – which were largely the source and root cause of the German people’s fears, and which allowed the German parliament and other institutions to hand Hitler total power – the sweeping away of good political causes by the wave of fear could not be stopped.

Moreover, the Nazis might have been derailed and perhaps brought to justice well before the Nuremberg trials if the false flag hoaxes had been exposed at the time. The German people could have been spared from the horrors inflicted on their nation and the world by the Nazis. And sanity and positive political changes might have prevailed in 1940′s-era Germany.

Please think about it . . .

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Pakistanis Protest Conviction of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

February 20th, 2010 by Sara Flounders

Militant organized demonstrations of outrage and anger took place throughout Pakistan when news of a guilty verdict for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was announced on Feb. 3. A jury in a New York federal court found Siddiqui guilty of seven counts, including attempted murder and armed assault without premeditation.

Siddiqui’s trial had been front-page news for weeks in Pakistan. Civil rights, religious and women’s organizations marched, demanding the return of this “daughter of the nation” to Pakistan.

The U.S.-educated doctor of neuroscience has come to symbolize the many hundreds of Pakistanis who have been secretly disappeared, detained and tortured, as well as the national outrage at the continuing deadly U.S. drone attacks. In 2003, at the age of 30, Siddiqui disappeared along with her three children from a street in Karachi.

Many in Pakistan had hoped that the overwhelming lack of any evidence would result in a not-guilty verdict. The prosecution could produce no bullets, bullet holes, injuries, fingerprints or residue to tie Siddiqui to attempted murder of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Hollywood image of “fairness” and “innocence until proven guilty” in U.S. courts are powerful illusions. But the verdict was no surprise to anyone who has followed the frame-up trials of hundreds of U.S. political prisoners. Given that the U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, in addition to thousands in secret prisons, Siddiqui’s assertion that she was tortured for years in secret prisons is all too believable.

The government charges were preposterous. Siddiqui had supposedly been arrested in July 2008, five years after her disappearance. The U.S. claims that when U.S. military personnel came to interrogate her after the arrest, Siddiqui grabbed a U.S. soldier’s M4 gun, fired off two rounds and shot herself while being subdued.

Questions of how the bullets failed to hit a single one of the 20 to 30 people in the small, crowded room, or hit any wall or floor, or leave any residue were never answered. Witness testimonies often contradicted their earlier sworn testimonies and the testimony of others. The prosecution urged the jury to ignore science and irrefutable facts and believe the contradictory testimony of U.S. Special Forces soldiers and FBI agents.

Despite all claims of impartiality, U.S. Judge Richard M. Berman limited the entire case to what happened in the two-minute period of Siddiqui’s interrogation. Siddiqui’s disappearance, torture and missing children could not be addressed.

Although Siddiqui was never charged with terrorism, claims that she wanted to blow up sites in New York City were repeatedly raised. Fear and endless vague charges of terrorism were the most powerful weapons the government had. They were not restricted from using them.

The courtroom atmosphere was one of siege. Every attempt at intimidation and fear was used. There were double checkpoints for entry into the courtroom, and anyone attending the trial had his or her home address and driver’s license number recorded. Nevertheless, the courtroom was packed every day of the trial, and overflow rooms with video conferencing of the trial were required.

Siddiqui’s supporters in New York City admire her enormous intransigence and determination after a year and a half of solitary confinement, usually under terrible conditions and after suffering life-threatening wounds from the U.S. shooting, followed by brutal and humiliating strip searches before any visit or courtroom appearance. In the face of all this Siddiqui clearly rejected her trial and the whole image that what took place in the New York courtroom was about fairness, truth or justice.

Free Dr. Aafia Siddiqui!

Return her home to Pakistan!

Free all secretly detained and tortured prisoners!

Flounders attended parts of Siddiqui’s trial.

GLOBAL RESEARCH FUNDRAISING INITIATIVE FOR HAITI

February 20th, 2010 by Global Research

Dear Readers,  

Global Research, in collaboration with AKASAN (Haitians Helping Haitians) and the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN), is launching a Haiti fund raising campaign in support of Haitian grass-roots initiatives. 

The country’s institutions, including schools and hospitals, are in ruins. Income-generating activities have been shattered. People have lost their homes. Moreover, many poor neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince have not received adequate emergency assistance. Beyond the provision of short-term emergency relief, what is required is the empowerment of local-level civil society initiatives involved in both humanitarian and reconstruction activities.

The fundraising drive has two related objectives: 

1) to help strengthen, in the short-run, the capacity of Haitian emergency and first response services. 

2) to contribute to grass-roots efforts, which assist the survivors of the January 2010 earthquake recover under the best conditions possible. These would also include support to health and education as well as the rehabilitation of income generating activities.

A major fund raising Concert AYITI VIVAN : HAITI IS ALIVE! will be held in Ottawa on Saturday, February 20th, 2010.

To send your donation by mail:

Kindly send your cheque(s) or money order to the following address:

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

Please make your cheque or money order out to “AKASAN” in US or Can$ (US money orders should be “payable outside the US”)

To Donate Online in support of the Haiti AKASAN initiative, CLICK HERE.

All donations will be transferred by Global Research to AKASAN. Thank you for your support!

This is the second-part of a six-part report. Part one can be viewed here.

“The war against working people should be understood to be a real war…. Specifically in the U.S., which happens to have a highly class-conscious business class…. And they have long seen themselves as fighting a bitter class war, except they don’t want anybody else to know about it.” — Noam Chomsky

As a record number of US citizens are struggling to get by, many of the largest corporations are experiencing record-breaking profits, and CEOs are receiving record-breaking bonuses. How could this be happening; how did we get to this point?

The Economic Elite have escalated their attack on US workers over the past few years; however, this attack began to build intensity in the 1970s. In 1970, CEOs made $25 for every $1 the average worker made. Due to technological advancements, production and profit levels exploded from 1970 – 2000. With the lion’s share of increased profits going to the CEOs, this pay ratio dramatically rose to $90 for CEOs to $1 for the average worker.

As ridiculous as that seems, an in-depth study in 2004 on the explosion of CEO pay revealed that, including stock options and other benefits, CEO pay is more accurately $500 to $1.

Paul Buchheit, from DePaul University, revealed, “From 1980 to 2006 the richest 1% of America tripled their after-tax percentage of our nation’s total income, while the bottom 90% have seen their share drop over 20%.” Robert Freeman added, “Between 2002 and 2006, it was even worse: an astounding three quarters of all the economy’s growth was captured by the top 1%.”

Due to this, the United States already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the average worker much harder than CEOs, the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99% of the US population has grown to a record high. The economic top one percent of the population now owns over 70% of all financial assets, an all-time record.

As mentioned before, just look at the first full year of the crisis when workers lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans increased by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion, which is more than the combined net worth of 50% of the US population. Just to make this point clear, 400 people have more wealth than 155 million people combined.

Meanwhile, 2009 was a record-breaking year for Wall Street bonuses, as firms issued $150 billion to their executives. 100% of these bonuses are a direct result of our tax dollars, so if we used this money to create jobs, instead of giving it to a handful of top executives, we could have paid an annual salary of $30,000 to 5 million people.

So while US workers are now working more hours and have become dramatically more productive and profitable, our pay is actually declining and all the dramatic increases in wealth are going straight into the pockets of the Economic Elite.

If our income had kept pace with compensation distribution rates established in the early 1970s, we would all be making at least three times as much as we are currently making. How different would your life be if you were making $120,000 a year, instead of $40,000?

So it should come as no surprise to see that we now have the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world and the highest inequality of wealth in our nation’s history. The backbone of America, a hard-working middle class that has made our country a world leader, has been devastated.

Now that we have a better understanding of how our income has been suppressed over the past forty years, let’s take a look at how the economy has been designed to take the limited money we receive and put it into the hands of the Economic Elite as well.

Costs of Living

Outside of the workplace, in almost all our costs of living the system is now blatantly rigged against us. Let’s take a look at it, starting with our tax system.

In total, the average US citizen is forced to give up approximately 30% of our income in taxes. This tax system is now strategically designed to flow straight into the hands of the Economic Elite. A huge percentage of our tax dollars ultimately ends up in their pockets. The past decade proves that — whether it’s the Republicans or the Democrats running the government — our tax money is not going into our community; it is going into the pockets of the billionaires who have bought off both parties – it is obscene.

For an example of how this system flows to the Economic Elite, just look at the Wall Street “bailout.” The real size of the bailout is estimated to be $14 trillion - and could end up costing trillions more than that. By now you are probably also sick of hearing about the bailout, but stop and think about this for a moment… Do you comprehend how much $14 trillion is?

What could be accomplished with this money is almost beyond common comprehension.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg that has hit us. On top of the trillions given to the Wall Street elite, we already have a record $12.3 trillion in national debt – and we now have to pay $500 billion in interest to the Economic Elite on this debt every year, yet another way they are milking us dry. When you add in unfunded liabilities owed, like social security payments, we actually owe a stunning $74 trillion. That adds up to a debt of $242,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

Trillions more, 25% of taxpayer dollars allocated to military spending goes  unaccounted for every year, not to mention the billions spent on overcharging and outright fraud. During the War on Terror, the Economic Elite have used our tax money to build a private army that has more soldiers deployed than the US military – a congressional study revealed that 69% of the “US” fighting forces deployed throughout the world in our name are in fact private mercenaries, 80% of them are foreign nationals. Private contractors regularly get paid three to five times more than our soldiers, and have been repeatedly caught overcharging and committing fraud on a massive scale. A congressional investigation revealed this and strongly recommended that we seize wasting tax dollars on these private military contractors. However, under Obama, there has actually been a drastic increase in total tax dollars spent on them.

In 2009, just over $1 trillion tax dollars were spent on the military. It’s safe to say that at least $350 billion of that was needlessly wasted.

When you research our tax system you see an unprecedented level of waste and fraud rampant throughout most expenditures. Our tax system is a national disaster of epic proportions. It is literally an organized criminal operation that continues to rob us in broad daylight, with zero accountability.

Politicians and mainstream “news” outlets will not tell you this, but most every serious economist knows that due to so much theft and debt created in the tax system, the only way to fix things, other than stopping the theft and seizing the trillions that have been stolen, will be for the government to cut important social funding and drastically raise our taxes. Other than the record national debt, many states are running record deficits and “barreling toward economic disaster, raising the likelihood of higher taxes, more government layoffs and deep cuts in services.” Our nation’s biggest state economies, like California and New York, are the ones in most trouble.

To merely say that things will not be improving economically is to be a delusional optimist. The truth that you will not hear: we have been hit by an economic deathblow and the United States lays in ruins.

It’s not just this criminal tax system; the theft is now built into all our costs of living.

Trillions more in our spending on food and fuel have been stolen due to fraudulent stock transactions and overcharging. Just ten years ago, in 2000, American families paid 7% of our income on food and fuel. We now pay 20%. This drastic increase is primarily driven by fraudulent market manipulation that drives up stock prices. Congress uncovered this in 2006, as part of the Enron investigation. They found that companies manipulated the oil market to create major spikes in stock values, but then Congress didn’t do anything about it. Nothing to see here, just move on.

As mentioned before, we have the most expensive health care system in the world and we are forced to pay  twice as much as other countries, and the overall care we get in return ranks 37th in the world. On average, US citizens are now paying a record high 8% of their income on medical care.

One of the reasons why foreclosure rates are so high is because the percentage of income Americans pay on their housing has risen to 34%.

So for these basic necessities – taxes, food, fuel, shelter and medical bills – we have already lost 92% of our limited income. Then factor in ever-increasing interest rates on credit cards, student loans, rising prices for cable, internet, phone, bank fees, etc., etc., etc…. We are being robbed and gouged in all costs of living, in every aspect of our life. No wonder bankruptcies are skyrocketing and the number of people suffering from psychological depression has reached an epidemic level.

The American worker is screwed over every step of the way, and it all starts with the explosion in the cost of a college education. This is one of the Economic Elite’s most devastating weapons. To have any chance of succeeding in this economy, it is commonly believed that you must attend the best college possible. With the rising costs involved, today’s students are graduating with record levels of debt from student loans. At the same time, the unemployment rate among recent college graduates has risen higher than the national average, and those who do find work are making significantly less than they expected to make. This combination of extreme debt and reduced pay has crippled an entire generation right from the start and has put them in a vicious cycle of spiraling debt that they will struggle with for the rest of their lives. The most recent college graduates are now known as a “lost generation.”

The American dream has turned into a nightmare. The economic system is a sophisticated prison cell; the indentured servant is now an indebted wage slave; whips and chains have evolved into debts.

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword. The other is by debt.”
–  John Adams

Concealing National Wealth

“Liberty in the concrete signifies release from the impact of particular oppressive forces; emancipation from something once taken as a normal part of human life but now experienced as bondage…. Today, it signifies liberation from material insecurity and from the coercions and repressions that prevent multitudes from participation in the vast cultural resources that are at hand.” — John Dewey 

When you take the time to research and analyze the wealth that has gone to the economic top one percent, you begin to realize just how much we have been robbed. Trillions upon trillions of dollars that could make the lives of all hard-working Americans much easier have been strategically funneled into the coffers of the Economic Elite. The denial of wealth is the key to the Economic Elite’s power. An entire generation of massive wealth creation has been strategically withheld from 99% of the US population.

The US public doesn’t have any understanding of how much wealth has been generated and concentrated into the hands of the Economic Elite over the past 40 years; there is no historical frame of reference. This withholding of wealth is truly the greatest crime against humanity in the history of civilization.

What could be done with all the money that has been hoarded by the Economic Elite is extraordinary!

Let’s consider what we could do with the money that has been stolen from us. On top of what should be our average six-figure yearly income, we could have:

* Free health care for every American,
* A free 4 bedroom home for every American family,
* 5% tax rate for 99% of Americans,
* Drastically improved public education and free college for all,
* Significantly improved public transportation and infrastructure,

The list goes on…

This is not some far-fetched fantasy. These are all things that Franklin D. Roosevelt talked about doing in the 1940s, long before the explosion of wealth creation in our technologically advanced global economy. The money for all this is already there, stashed into the claws of the Economic Elite. The denial of wealth to the masses is the key to the Economic Elite’s power. Outside of outdated and obsolete economic models and theories — and incredibly short-sighted greed — there is no reason why all this money should be kept in the hands of a few, at the immense suffering and expense of the many.

If Americans could just understand how much wealth is being withheld from us, we would have a massive uprising and the Economic Elite would be swept away, into the history books alongside the evil despots of the past.

“For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.” — George Orwell

Now that we have a better understanding of how the Economic Elite dominate our lives, let’s take a look at exactly who theyare….

The SEC’s own Inspector General( OIG) has found that between 1992 and 2008 the SEC received six substantive complaints about fraudster Bernie Madoff’s hedge fund operations yet never conducted a thorough and competent examination of them. The SEC conducted two investigations and three examinations based on credible complaints about Madoff’s operations but never verified Madoff’s trading or conducted a Ponzi scheme probe.

One complaint submitted in 2005 was titled, “The World’s Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud” and, according to Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, “detailed approximately 30 red flags indicating that Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme, a scenario the complaint described as ‘highly likely.’” Velvel is one of Madoff’s defrauded investors and has made an extensive study of the gigantic swindle.

Another complaint charged Madoff had comingled $10 billion owned by his deceased investor client Norman F. Levy with funds controlled by his firm, and that Madoff kept two sets of records, the more interesting of which “is on his computer which is always on his person.” This apparent insider information also was ultimately disregarded.

“In investigating this complaint,” Velvel says, “the Enforcement staff simply asked Madoff’s counsel about it, and accepted the response that Madoff had never managed money for this investor. This turned out to be false.” When news of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme broke, it became evident that Levy was one of Madoff’s largest individual investors.

Yet another complaint in May, 2003, this one from a respected Hedge Fund Manager, questioned whether Madoff was actually trading options in the volume he claimed and noted that Madoff’s strategy and purported returns were not duplicable by anyone else. The complaint further stated Madoff’s strategy had no correlation to the overall equity markets in over 10 years and that in aggregate his actions were “indicia of a Ponzi scheme.”

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) conducted two lame examinations based on the above Hedge Fund Manager’s complaint, Velvel says. Both were characterized by (1) “significant delays” in getting started despite their urgency; (2) “the teams assembled were relatively inexperienced;” (3) there was insufficient planning; (4) the probes were “too narrowly focused on the possibility of front-running” and (5) “no significant attempts were made to analyze the numerous red flags about Madoff’s trading and returns.”

“The OIG’s expert concluded that based upon issues raised in the Hedge Fund Manager’s complaint, had the examination been staffed and conducted appropriately and basic steps taken to obtain third-party verifications, Madoff’s Ponzi scheme should and would have been uncovered,” Velvel said.

In the first OCIE probe, Velvel notes, the examiners drafted a letter to the National Association of Securities Dealers(NASD) seeking independent trade data “but they never sent the letter, claiming that it would have been too time-consuming to review the data they would have obtained.”

“The OIG’s expert opined that had the letter to the NASD been sent, the data would have provided the information necessary to reveal the Ponzi scheme,” Velvel noted.

In the second OCIE probe, its Assistant Director sent a document request to a financial institution Madoff claimed he used to clear his trades. Requested was trading done by or on behalf of particular Madoff feeder funds during a specific time period. Even though the response was that there was no transaction activity in Madoff’s account for that period, the Assistant Director decided it did not merit any follow-up.

During the course of both these examinations,” Velvel says, the examiners “discovered suspicious information and evidence and caught Madoff in contradictions and inconsistencies. However, they either disregarded these concerns or simply asked Madoff about them. Even when Madoff’s answers were seemingly implausible, the SEC examiners accepted them at face value.”

The SEC also missed an opportunity to expose Madoff when in 1992 it investigated New York accounting firm Avellino & Bienes, which had been raising money from clients and turning it over to Madoff to invest. When the SEC suspected the firm of operating a Ponzi scheme it ordered the funds invested returned to the clients and never inquired where Avellino & Bienes got the funds to do so.

The SEC Inspector General’s 457-page report on the SEC’s malfeasance concerning the  Madoff fraud will be the subject of Velvel’s Comcast show “Books of Our Time,” with guest Erin Arvelund, the Barron’s reporter who first wrote up the doubts about Madoff’s hedge fund operations in 2001.  Her book, “Too Good to be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff,” was published last August. Velvel’s interview program will air on Comcast at a time to be announced.

The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a non-profit law school purposefully dedicated to the education of students from minority, immigrant, and low-income households who would otherwise not have the opportunity to obtain a legal education. To arrange for interviews with Dean Velvel please contact Sherwood Ross at (305) 205-8281.

ROSS ASSOCIATES, 7921 S.W. 100th STREET, MIAMI, FLORIDA, 33156

Bases of Empire: Casting a Global Shadow

February 20th, 2010 by Joan Roelofs

Despite United States economic weakness, although not unrelated to it, our military casts a heavy shadow everywhere on earth, far beyond the major and minor wars it is now conducting. The geographical and functional scope of the US military is cosmic. Formal alliances are an important element, but even such bloated, increasingly un-Atlantic and shockingly un-pacific institutions as NATO are only the tip of the iceberg. Nations generally regarded as “neutral” are now junior partners in NATO: Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Malta, and Sweden. “In June 2009, war games ‘Loyal Arrow’ were conducted by 10 countries in Northern Sweden, as a preliminary move to extend US and NATO military presence into Arctic regions—and confronting Russia in that area,” as reported by Rick Rozoff .

Other affiliates are the NATO Mediterranean dialogue states: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, and guests invited to NATO events: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. Whether committed or just coffee dates, NATO nations are required to meet exacting standards. This means, in most cases, not only increased power for their military institutions, but also secret agreements that negate democracy. If our ally’s elected government  is military-skeptical, prime ministers and their parliamentary supporters may be kept uninformed of the NATO arrangements, as in the case of the nuclear weapons that were stationed in Greenland in violation of the Danish Constitution. The “normalization” of NATO, its penetration into the European Union, and its effect on civilian life (East and West Europe and Central Asia) are rarely examined.

Another wing of the US military is training, supplied to NATO partners and the military and civilian personnel of over 150 nations. The School of the Americas (now Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning, GA, is notorious. However, there are 200 institutions in the US that train foreign military, and many overseas. Any nation that buys US military equipment—there are about 150 such countries–gets trainers with the deal.

The joint exercises with our Special Operations Forces are also “trainings” that provide mentors for foreign troops, so that we can insure “interoperability.”

The scope of operations blurs the distinction between military and civilian functions. Among the problems that may call for a military response, according to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review are:

Rising demand for resources, rapid urbanization of littoral regions, the effects of climate change, the emergence of new strains of disease, and profound cultural and demographic tensions in several regions are just some of the trends whose complex interplay may spark or exacerbate future conflicts.

US military serves humanitarian missions everywhere, in disasters as well as routine social service needs. One of its functions, according to the QDR, is “preventing human suffering due to mass atrocities or large-scale natural disasters abroad.” It also tries to win the hearts and minds of the people by operating dental and pet care clinics. The modern missionaries discover the lay of the land, make friends with ambitious, intelligent locals, and rarely leave. All these interactions—alliances, partnerships, training, and humanitarian services– create “networking,” collegial relationships with current and future elites, both civilian and military. Then there are the bases.

The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts, edited by Catherine Lutz (N.Y.: NYU Press, 2009) is a fitting sequel to another excellent book, The Sun Never Sets: Confronting the Network of Foreign U.S. Military Bases, edited by Joseph Gerson and Bruce Birchard (Boston: AFSC/South End Press, 1991). Gerson and Cynthia Enloe are represented in both books.

Lutz is an anthropologist; many activists and anthropologists are contributors to this volume, which bodes well for information about what is really going on, in contrast to foreign policy experts who tell us mostly about elite opinion and their own ideological presuppositions. For information about the size, location, and real estate value of US military bases (domestic and foreign), one can look at the DOD Base Structure Report. This understates the number, omitting the bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the forthcoming one in Yemen. Also not listed are foreign bases that grant access rights to the US military. The 2009 BSR claimed 4,742 bases in the US, 121 in our territories, and 716 foreign. Some have estimated the foreign bases as nearer to 1,000, and the cost for those alone at around $250 billion annually.

The Lutz volume describes their effect on host countries and their people, and also reports the extensive activism protesting bases, some of which has been successful. For support and inspiration, there is an International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases . The current status of anti-base protests can be found on its web site. The anti-base movements have considerable leadership and participation by women, indigenous people, and racial minorities. Ironically, the US military has  promoted multicultural democracy in foreign lands.

Lutz tells us what people don’t like about the bases. First of all, there is the sovereignty issue. Status of Forces Agreements often provide that the host countries’ criminal and environmental laws will not be applied to US personnel and bases. Secret agreements, such as those allowing for the presence of nuclear weapons, bypass parliamentary institutions, laws, and constitutions. Aside from formal provisions, a foreign military occupation confers power over the politics and society of the host. Thus the 235 bases currently in Germany are not without function. They have helped to keep the population “in line” with the “American way.” In addition, as everywhere, there is an economic stimulus to the restaurant, entertainment, and real estate industries, filling in the gaps where war and the globalization of manufacturing and agriculture have hollowed out local economies.

Nevertheless, another reason for unhappiness is the purpose of the installations. They are used for making war, spying on other countries, torture, and other activities that violate the host countries’ laws and the will of their people. To moral and legal concerns must be added the potential for “blowback,” as bases may be targeted by nations resentful of being attacked.

Locals are angry at the taking of their land, which may be rendered unfit forever for agriculture or tourism. Vicenza, Italy is a UNESCO heritage city; a second massive military base is being constructed there despite a longstanding protest movement. In all cases, the environmental consequences of base construction and operation are grave for land, sea, and air. The constant noise of overflights, artillery fire, and bombing practice is also a cause for complaint.

A prostitution industry and violent crimes are common followers of base installations.

One of the best-known and vigorous protest movement, that of Okinawa, was catalyzed by the 1995 rape of a 12 year old girl and the US refusal to surrender the suspects to local authorities. However, all of the above reasons motivated the protests. In addition, many Okinawans consider themselves a colonized population of Japan, and resent the placement of 75% of the US Japanese bases on their territory.

The Bases of Empire contains detailed case studies of Latin America and the Caribbean, Iraq, and Diego Garcia; US nuclear weapons bases in Europe; and protest movements in the Philippines, Okinawa, and Turkey. Furthermore, it includes anti-base activism on US territory in Hawaii and Vieques, Puerto Rico, which has served as a worldwide inspiration. The afterword, by Julian Aguon, a Chamoru (indigenous person of Guam), protests that his people are becoming extinct. Filipino and Korean workers were brought to Guam to build the bases, which are now slated for massive enlargement. In addition, Chamorus serve and die in the US armed forces at a disproportionate rate.

The overall picture may be bleak, yet there are signs of hope. The anti-base movements have had some successes. The US military is creating a new basing system for strategic reasons;unpopularity is also a motivator.

As Rumsfeld announced in 2004:

Our first notion is that our troops should be located in places where they are wanted, welcomed, and needed. In some cases, the presence and activities of our forces grate on local populations and have become an irritant for host governments. The best example is our massive headquarters in some of the most valuable downtown real estate in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul – long a sore point for many South Koreans. Under our proposed changes, that headquarters will be dramatically reduced in size and moved to a location well south of the capital.

Now some of the “main operating bases” with permanent structures, family housing, etc., will be closed in favor of “forward operating sites” and “cooperative security locations,” often maintained by contractors to shield the principals from the gaze of the locals.

After many years of protest, spurred by prostitution and ensuing disease as well as the constitutional ban on nuclear weapons, the Philippines bases were closed. This success is somewhat countered by joint military exercises, ship visits, and Special Forces operations, but the activism has not ceased.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa refused to extend the contract for the base at Manta, and it is closing. A major movement demands the end to all US bases in Latin America and the Caribbean, and deplores the US quest for new bases in Colombia. Although the Honduran request for the closure of the US base at Palmerola was not a success, it was a serious enough threat to trigger the overthrow squad. In Vieques, Puerto Rico, which was bombed for 180 days in a year, the protest began with environmental and health concerns, and was reinforced in 1999 when a security guard was killed by a stray bomb. Worldwide solidarity activists aided in the base closure, and the international movement continues today.

The environmental and political consequences of bases within the US are also worthy of investigation, yet one rarely sees comprehensive studies by journalists, social scientists, or activists. Political science and environmental studies textbooks mostly ignore them. At the very least, they represent another system of local government. The Military Toxics Project, which expressed serious concerns of military families and civilian base workers, has ceased for lack of funds. We are indebted to Catherine Lutz for authoring an earlier book on the impact of a domestic base: Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), a study of Fayetteville, NC, home of Fort Bragg. Her introduction asserts: “In an important sense, though, we all inhabit an army camp, mobilized to lend support to the permanent state of war readiness that has been with us since World War II.”

Joan Roelofs is Professor Emerita of Political Science, Keene State College, New Hampshire. She is the translator of Victor Considerant’s Principles of Socialism (Maisonneuve Press, 2006), and author of Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (SUNY Press, 2003) and Greening Cities (Apex-Bootstrap Press, 1996). On her site is the outline of an adult education course on “The Military-Industrial Complex,” with images, citations, and links. Contact: [email protected]

News Coverage of Venezuela and World News

February 20th, 2010 by Global Research

February 19th edition (pdf, 1.1mb)

February 12th edition (pdf, 0.94mb)


February 4th edition
(pdf, 1.13mb)

 

January 29th edition (pdf, 1.54mb)


January 22nd edition
(pdf, 0.59mb)

The Dutch government has collapsed over a rift between coalition parties about extending Dutch military participation in Afghanistan. 

“Later today, I will will offer to her majesty the Queen the resignations of the ministers and deputy ministers of the PvdA (Labour Party),” Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told journalists.

News of the collapse came in the early hours of Saturday morning following 16 hours of crisis meetings and days of speculation that the differences between the coalition parties had simply become too great to bridge.

The stand-off began after Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos, leader of the Labour Party, drew a line in the sand over extending the Dutch mission in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan – coalition partners wanted to consider this option after a specific request from NATO to do so.

This was Mr Balkenende’s fourth cabinet. It was also the fourth time he failed to carry a coalition to the end of the full four-year term.

Video: Jan Peter Balkenende announces the government’s fall at a press conference

Uneasy coalition

Uneasy compromise typified the coalition from the beginning. The centre-right Christian Democrats (and its predecessors) had governed with the centre-left Labour Party before. But the two parties have trouble forming a stable coalition.

Balkenende IV was no exception. Difficulties were already apparent during the negotiations to form the government in the winter of 2007. All three coalition partners, the two larger parties plus the smaller Christian Union, had to compromise on major issues.

During three years of government, many decisions were made only after long disagreements inside the cabinet. These included plans to raise the government pension age, how long to try to keep government expenditures up in the wake of the economic downturn, and whether or not to keep investing in the development of a new fighter plane, the Joint Strike Fighter.

Uruzgan

The issue where a compromise could not be found – whether or not to extend the military mission in the unruly Afghan province of Uruzgan – was itself not new. The cabinet decided back in the autumn of 2007 to extend the mission to Uruzgan by two years.

But the Labour Party felt it could not compromise again on an extension of the military mission. The criticism of Dutch support for the invasion of Iraq, presented by the independent Davids Commission in early January, only reinforced the Labour Party’s resolve.

Save face abroad

The fall of the government may, paradoxically, help the Netherlands save face abroad. At NATO headquarters, as well as in the United States, there is little sympathy for the Labour Party’s veto of an extension of the Uruzgan mission. The Netherlands pulling out of Uruzgan is a source of irritation both in Brussels and Washington. The Netherlands even risks losing its hard-earned seat at the G20 meetings.

But a cabinet crisis is seen as a reasonable excuse, even if the end result – pulling out of Uruzgan – remains the same.

Unstable

Of perhaps greater consequence is what the fall of the cabinet means for Dutch politics. Nearly ten years ago, this country was shocked by the sudden rise of the populist politician, Pim Fortuyn, and even more shocked by his murder. More recently, the right-wing politician Geert Wilders underscores a long-term trend in Dutch politics: instability.

The Dutch electorate is famously fractured – no one party can ever hope to form a majority, and eight or more parties typically gain seats in parliament (there are currently eleven parties in the Dutch parliament). Plus, Dutch voters no longer identify very strongly with the traditional political parties.

This combination makes it possible for a Pim Fortuyn, or a Geert Wilders, to suddenly rise to prominence with the support of as little as ten percent of the population.

The Wilders factor

Geert Wilders has profited from the current political climate. And he will play a major role in the upcoming election, even if his Freedom Party does not become the largest party. Mr Wilders is a polarising figure, and the campaign is likely to feature a camp on the right that will consider governing in a coalition with Mr Wilders, and a camp on the left that rules it out.

But the major parties will not likely make up much of the ground they’ve been losing, and the next coalition could need four or more parties (in place of the usual two or three) to form a majority. During a time of economic recovery, the Netherlands is entering a period of political instability.

VIDEO: Will US-NATO Start World War III by Attacking Iran?

February 20th, 2010 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

A UN nuclear watchdog report suggests Iran could be developing a nuclear bomb, apparently confirming long-held suspicions in the West. But Tehran denies the claims, again insisting that its atomic intentions are peaceful.

Michel Chossudovsky, who’s from an independent Canadian policy research group, believes that what Iran says hardly matters, because the U.S. is planning for war.


Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) (Montreal), which hosts the award-winning website: www.globalresearch.ca. He is the author of the international best-seller The Globalisation of Poverty and The New World Order and contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He is member of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission and recipient of the Human Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, Germany. He has acted as an adviser to the governments of developing countries and has worked as a consultant for several inter-governmental organizations including the UNDP, the ILO, the UNFPA, the WHO and the African Development Bank. His writings have been published into more than twenty languages.

Michel Chossudovsky’s books can be ordered directly from Global Research

AMERICA’S “WAR ON TERRORISM”

by Michel Chossudovsky

CLICK TO ORDER

America’s “War on Terrorism”

In this new and expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”.  Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarisation of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.

Chossudovsky peels back layers of rhetoric to reveal a complex web of deceit aimed at luring the American people and the rest of the world into accepting a military solution which threatens the future of humanity.

The last chapter includes an analysis of the London  7/7 Bomb Attacks.

CLICK TO ORDER (mail order or online order)

America’s “War on Terrorism”

Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili and his supporters are ready to start a new war and plunge the country into chaos again. A statement to that effect came from the leader of the opposition “Democratic Movement – United Georgia” Party, ex-Speaker of parliament Nino Burdjanadze.

The party’s statements circulated on Saturday say the Georgian parliament is acting behind Russia’s back preparing an address to the people and legislatures of North Caucasian republics which may destabilize the situation in the North Caucasus given the current circumstances.

The opposition statements say Saakashvili is pushing the country into war because he is fully aware that his days as president are over but he prefers to be expelled by Russia rather than toppled by the people of Georgia.  

Yet Another Congressman Questions 9/11

February 20th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

Congressman Jason Chafetz just said that we need to be vigilant and continue to investigate 9/11.

A nutjob, right?

Maybe.

But he joins quite a few other Congressmen:

According to the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, an FBI informant had hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House(confirmed here)

Current Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said “The two questions that the congress will not ask . . . is why did 9/11 happen on George Bush’s watch when he had clear warnings that it was going to happen? Why did they allow it to happen?”

Current Republican Congressman Ron Paul calls for a new 9/11 investigationand states that “we see the [9/11] investigations that have been done so far as more or less cover-up and no real explanation of what went on”

Current Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich hints that we aren’t being told the truth about 9/11

Former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel states that he supports a new 9/11 investigation and that we don’t know the truth about 9/11

Former Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee endorses a new 9/11 investigation

Former U.S. Democratic Congressman Dan Hamburg says that the U.S. government “assisted” in the 9/11 attacks, stating that “I think there was a lot of help from the inside”

Former U.S. Republican Congressman and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, and who served six years as the Chairman of the Military Research and Development Subcommittee Curt Weldon has shown that the U.S. tracked hijackers before 9/11, is open to hearing information about explosives in the Twin Towers, and is open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job

And 9/11 Commissioners:

The Commission’s co-chairs said that the 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials misrepresented the facts to the Commission, and the Commission considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements (free subscription required)

9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, and that the 9/11 debate should continue

9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”

9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”“This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”

9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .”

And the Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) – who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry – recently said ”At some level of the government, at some point in time…there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened”. He also said ”I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.”

And senior intelligence officers:

A number of intelligence officials, including a CIA Operations Officer who co-chaired a CIA multi-agency task force coordinating intelligence efforts among many intelligence and law enforcement agencies (Lynne Larkin) sent a joint letter to Congress expressing their concerns about “serious shortcomings,” “omissions,” and “major flaws” in the 9/11 Commission Report and offering their services for a new investigation (they were ignored)

Former military analyst and famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg recentlysaid that the case of a certain 9/11 whistleblower is “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”. He also said that the government is ordering the media to cover up her allegations about 9/11. And he said that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of the current administration, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath.

A 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials (Raymond McGovern) said “I think at simplest terms, there’s a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke”, and is open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job.

A 29-year CIA veteran, former National Intelligence Officer (NIO) and former Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis (William Bill Christison) said “I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe. … All three [buildings that were destroyed in the World Trade Center] were most probably destroyed by controlled demolition charges placed in the buildings before 9/11.” (and seethis).

20-year Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer, the second-ranking civilian in U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence, and former CIA clandestine services case officer (David Steele) stated that “9/11 was at a minimum allowed to happen as a pretext for war”, and it was probably an inside job (scroll down to Customer Review dated October 7, 2006).

A decorated 20-year CIA veteran, who Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh called “perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East”, and whose astounding career formed the script for the Academy Award winning motion picture Syriana (Robert Baer) said that “the evidence points at” 9/11 having had aspects of being an inside job 

The Division Chief of the CIA’s Office of Soviet Affairs, who served as Senior Analyst from 1966 – 1990. He also served as Professor of International Security at the National War College from 1986 – 2004 (Melvin Goodman) said “The final [9/11 Commission] report is ultimately a coverup.”

Professor of History and International Relations, University of Maryland. Former Executive Assistant to the Director of the National Security Agency, former military attaché in China, with a 21-year career in U.S. Army Intelligence (Major John M. Newman, PhD, U.S. Army) questions the government’s version of the events of 9/11.

And other government officials:

U.S. General, Commanding General of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart (General Wesley Clark) said “We’ve never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. I’ve seen that for a long time.”

Former Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Warning under Nixon, Ford, and Carter (Morton Goulder), former Deputy Director to the White House Task Force on Terrorism (Edward L. Peck), and former US Department of State Foreign Service Officer (J. Michael Springmann), as well as a who’s who of liberals and independents) jointly call for a new investigation into 9/11

The Group Director on matters of national security in the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that President Bush did not respond to unprecedented warnings of the 9/11 disaster and conducted a massive cover-up instead of accepting responsibility

President of the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board, who also served as Pentagon Weapons Requirement Officer and as a member of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, and who was awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for Heroism, four Air Medals, four Meritorious Service Medals, and nine Aerial Achievement Medals (Lt. Col. Jeff Latas) is a member of a group which doubts the government’s version of 9/11

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan (Col. Ronald D. Ray) said that the official story of 9/11 is “the dog that doesn’t hunt”

The former director of the FBI (Louis Freeh) says there was a cover up by the 9/11 Commission

Director of the U.S. “Star Wars” space defense program in both Republican and Democratic administrations, who was a senior air force colonel who flew 101 combat missions (Col. Robert Bowman) stated: “If our government had merely [done] nothing, and I say that as an old interceptor pilot—I know the drill, I know what it takes, I know how long it takes, I know what the procedures are, I know what they were, and I know what they’ve changed them to—if our government had merely done nothing, and allowed normal procedures to happen on that morning of 9/11, the Twin Towers would still be standing and thousands of dead Americans would still be alive. [T]hat is treason!”

If he’s nuts, Congressman Chafetz is in good company. And see this and this

A bill to create single-payer healthcare in California has passed that state’s senate for the third time now. Californians just need to persuade a governor to sign it. Single-payer healthcare bills are advancing in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and a growing list of states, including New Mexico, where State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, a long-time supporter of single-payer healthcare, is running for Lieutenant Governor.

Now North Carolina house candidate Marcus Brandon has pledged to introduce a bill to create single-payer healthcare in that state. Brandon, whom I know and like and who worked for Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s 2008 presidential campaign, is a candidate in North Carolina House District 60. That’s near Greensboro, where I can just picture Marcus sitting at a lunch counter and refusing to be provoked.

Brandon has promised that if he is elected, the first piece of legislation he will introduce will be the “North Carolina Healthcare Act” which will provide universal single-payer healthcare to every citizen of the state.

Brandon says that he remains a supporter of national single-payer healthcare and will continue lobbying for passage of HR 676, Congressman John Conyers’ bill:

“The HR 676 fight is definitely not over, but we must now strategically shift the focus to the state level. When other states see that we can cut the cost of healthcare, streamline our medical industry, and still provide universal coverage to all North Carolinians, then all of the sudden, single-payer health care doesn’t look so bad.”

Brandon argues that a single-payer system could save over $1.5 billion per year in reduced bureaucracy in the state of North Carolina alone. And he speaks confidently about making this happen:

“North Carolina is poised to be the first state to adopt single-payer, once I am able to introduce it. North Carolinians are ready for real solutions to healthcare. North Carolina has the third highest healthcare cost of any state, while it sags at 37th in average income. This is a disparity that most North Carolinians feel when they have to think about healthcare. Every day, as I am knocking on doors to talk to voters, I hear stories of people who cannot afford insurance and become victims of this for-profit industry.”

Brandon says his bill is similar to other states’ initiatives such as the “Minnesota Health Act” or the “California Universal Healthcare Act.” Brandon points to these two bills as excellent examples of how a single payer healthcare system could be both fiscally sound and provide full coverage.

Brandon served in 2007 and 2008 as Dennis Kucinich’s National Finance Director and Deputy Campaign Manager. He says that Kucinich inspired him:

“Dennis urged me to run for office so we could build a state-by-state grassroots movement for single payer and other progressive issues. My campaign for the North Carolina House is an extension of the work I did with Dennis Kucinich.”

While Kucinich has struggled unsuccessfully thus far to pass federal legislation facilitating the state creation of single-payer healthcare systems, states are pressign ahead and will deal with lawsuits from “health” corporations when and if they arise.

Marcus Brandon’s website is at
http://www.marcusbrandon.com

He has a primary on May 4th. Those who want a real healthcare system in this country would be wise to pour money into his campaign and those of other state leaders across the country.

Alternatively we could keep putting all our eggs in the basket of fantasies about the United States Senate getting its act together.

War Propaganda: Western Media, Not Israeli Hasbara

February 19th, 2010 by Ramzy Baroud

With the dreadful threat of yet another Israeli war in the Middle East looming, Israeli propaganda machine is likely to go into full gear.

In fact, trial balloons have already been sent out bearing supposedly unrehearsed comments by former Israeli Army general and current Minister Yossi Peled, suggesting that another war is on its way. More recently, Israel’s ultra-right and unabashedly racist Foreign Minister Avigador Lieberman threatened to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in case of a war.

And so it begins.

Historically, Israel has, with one understandable exception, determined the time and place of all of its wars with the Arabs. The only time Israeli forces were attacked in 1973 involved an Arab attempt to regain territories that were captured by Israel in 1967.

When Lieberman uttered his “message that should go out to the ruler of Syria from Israel” to an audience at Bar Ilan University, he was effectively saying that Israel will topple the Syrian government when it decides the time was ripe for war. And considering Peled’s earlier statement that war was imminent, the only possible conclusion would be that a “regime change” in Syria is high on the Israeli agenda.  It also perhaps represents the last chance of fulfilling the US neoconservative vision – that of “A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”.

This inference should have been evident and thus sent shockwaves throughout the world, and especially through the US media which now know fully the price of the Israeli-neocon folly.

So why do Western mainstream media, especially in the US, continue to guard Israel’s image so protectively, at times even devotedly, when the country’s belligerence is so blatant? And if some in the media are indeed well intentioned in their coverage, why do they continually miss the many clear signs pointing to Israeli criminality and aggression?

A growing reference that is once again floating among political and media analysts is that Israel has greater mastery than the Arabs over fighting media wars. Often cited, for example, is the National Information Directorate, an Israeli propaganda center that was established a few months prior to the devastating war on Gaza last year. Ironically, the center was established after recommendations made by an Israeli inquiry into the equally bloody Israeli war against Lebanon in 2006 – ironically because independent war inquiries often chastise the army for violation of human rights, as opposed to recommending the establishment of a “hasbara” – more like propaganda – body to justify the crimes committed against civilians.

Still, even such “hasbara” should have had little impact on the Western media’s depiction of Israeli crimes and hostilities toward its neighbors.

One could possibly consider the claim that Israel’s media success story is the brainchild of Israel’s own media expertise under very specific circumstances: That Israeli spokespersons are icons of articulation and charm; that Palestinian retaliations to Israeli crimes in Gaza were vile and gruesome; that the Israeli media blackout was so successful that Western journalists had no other way of finding any credible, decipherable facts; that there are no Arab spokespersons who are well-informed and articulate enough to present even a semblance of a coherent narrative to challenge the one offered by Israel.

But none of these scenarios are convincing. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is as faltering in English as he is in his mother tongue. The Palestinian resistance merely killed 13 Israelis, 10 of whom were soldiers – and recently “regretted” the killing of the three civilians – while Israel killed over 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and remains unmoved. The Israeli media blackout of Gaza during the war – which continues even now – hardly prevented footage and reports from beaming to all corners of the earth, thanks to the valiant efforts of Arab media and independent reporters, photographers and cameramen from all over the world, supplemented by the United Nations and other independent groups’ findings. All of this made the scope of the tragedy known to all. And finally, the most eloquent and involved Palestinian and Arab academics, diplomats and activists can be found in every major Western city and reputable university or research institute.

Yet somehow it was Israel that “claim(ed) success in PR war”, according to Anshel Pfeffer in the Jewish Chronicle, days after the initial Israel attack on Gaza. Pfeffer quoted Avi Pazner, Israel’s former ambassador to Italy and France, and “one of the officials drafted in to present Israel’s case to the world media,” as claiming that “whenever Israel is bombing, it is hard to explain our position to the world … but at least this time everything was ready and in place.”

Utter nonsense. As someone who has been grilled and challenged in the media for making such outrageous statements as “Israel must learn to respect international human rights,” I cannot take seriously the media’s claims to “objectivity”. If this were the norm, no Israeli hasbara campaign would have even dented public perceptions of the criminal war. No unfeeling Israeli Army spokesperson could possibly explain the logic of the wanton destruction of Gaza, as hungry civilians were chased in an open-air prison with nowhere to escape and no one to come to their rescue.

Israeli officials continue to congratulate themselves on a job well done, and must be preparing yet another marvelous hasbara campaign to justify the killings that are yet to follow. However, there are some things that are becoming increasingly obvious, at least to the rest of us. First, the secret of Israeli “success”, if any, was not its own doing, but rather stemmed from the media’s decision, made years ago, to protect Israel’s image. Second, despite the fanfare and self-congratulating commentary, Israel has now largely lost the media war, and the tide since the Gaza war has been turning, thanks to the underfunded, but solid and increasingly determined efforts of independent media groups, intellectuals, citizen journalists, civil society activists, artists, poets, bloggers, ordinary people and those in the media who possess the courage to challenge Israeli hasbara and its devotees.

 

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.

Romania and Moldova have kicked off bilateral talks as unrecognized republic Transdniester proposes hosting Russian Iskander missiles on its territory. Meanwhile, Bulgaria has requested its own missiles.

Romanian President Traian Basescu announced earlier this month that his country could host US medium-range interceptor missiles. The surprise announcement comes on the heels of US President Barack Obama’s decision last year to shelve plans for a radar and interceptor missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland due to a “reassessment” of the threat of a missile strike against Europe.

In addition to attracting criticism from Moscow, which argues that any missile defense system near its borders could destroy the fragile military balance in Europe, the decision has triggered no small amount of apprehension in Romania’s neighbors, specifically Moldova and the de facto independent republic of Transdniester.

Moldova has been monitoring the situation carefully ever since the leader of the unrecognized republic of Transdniester, Igor Smirnov, commented on Monday that his republic would deploy Russian Iskander missiles to counterbalance a US missile shield in Romania.

Transdniester, a Russian-speaking province, has been independent from Moldova since a brief war in 1992 sparked by a dry tinderbox of tensions following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Russia has stationed peacekeepers in the region since July 1992.

Thus, Romania’s willingness to host the missile defense system puts landlocked Moldova between a rock and a hard place since its relations with Romania have been in doubt ever since Moldova declared its independence in 1991.

Yet Moldova is attempting to downplay the new realities.

“Every sovereign state has a right to decide for itself on the mechanisms of national security according to its national interests,” Valery Turya from the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration said before the bilateral talks in Moldova’s capital Chisinau.

At the same time, Turya added that Transdniester was “not authorized” to hold talks “of a military nature” with Russia.

“The government of Moldova has not authorized Smirnov to conduct negotiations of a military nature,” Turya commented before his talks with Romanian officials. “Moldova and Russia are engaged in a constructive dialogue in different areas. It will acquire new aspects after Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat’s upcoming visit to Moscow.”

Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov turned up the heat against Moldova on Wednesday when he said that Moscow had given him “firm assurances” that Russian troops will stay in the region until a final solution is reached in the 20-year-old territorial dispute with Moldova.

Smirnov added that Russian troops provide security against “provocations” from Moldovan authorities.

The territory of Transdniester, a tiny shoestring of territory that borders eastern Moldova, broke away in 1990. A war between Moldovan forces and separatists in 1992 left around 1,500 people dead.

On top of these regional concerns, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said last week that his country was also ready to host elements of US missile shield on its soil, something which Russia’s military chief said Moscow would view “negatively.”

But Bulgaria’s possible participation in a US missile defense system is not targeted against Russia, Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said on Wednesday.

“There is an ongoing discussion within the framework of NATO with regard to the general makeup of a missile defense system for all NATO countries. At this stage, Bulgaria is holding negotiations within the NATO framework about the conceptual outline of the system,” he said.

“This shield is not directed against a threat coming from Russia. The threats that exist for us also exist for our Russian friends,” Mladenov added, without explaining why Russia has not been invited to participate directly alongside US troops in the defensive system.

Why rile Russia?

In September, US President Barack Obama announced that he would “shelve” a Bush administration plan to develop an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe with components in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Washington’s change of plans, ostensibly part of the hugely hyped “reset” in US-Russian relations, was meant to mitigate anxiety in Moscow, which views US missile facilities near its border as nothing less than a national security threat. Unfortunately, however, Moscow’s apprehensions over Washington’s plans have not disappeared. Indeed, they seem to be intensifying.

The reason is that shortly after Obama announced his decision to shelve the Bush system, Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defense – who, it is important to note, also served under Obama’s very hawkish predecessor George W. Bush – speaking from the Pentagon immediately after the president’s announcement, denied that the United States was “scrapping” missile defense, but rather introducing a different system.

The defense secretary’s glowing assessment of the new system could best be described as odd, especially if Washington had any real intention of calming Russia’s fears.

“This new approach provides a better missile defense capability for our forces in Europe, for our European allies, and eventually for our homeland than the program I recommended almost three years ago,” said Gates.

Here is the US Secretary of Defense’s description of the new system, published on September 19, 2009, in The New York Times, which he calls a “far more effective defense” than the original concept:

“In the first phase, to be completed by 2011, we will deploy proven, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles – weapons that are growing in capability – in the areas where we see the greatest threat to Europe. The second phase, which will become operational around 2015, will involve putting upgraded SM-3s on the ground in Southern and Central Europe. All told, every phase of this plan will include scores of SM-3 missiles, as opposed to the old plan of just 10 ground-based interceptors. This will be a far more effective defense should an enemy fire many missiles simultaneously… At the same time, plans to defend virtually all of Europe and enhance the missile defense of the United States will continue on about the same schedule as the earlier plan as we build this system over time, creating an increasingly greater zone of protection.

Steady technological advances in our missile defense program – from kill vehicles to the abilities to network radars and sensors – give us confidence in this plan. The SM-3 has had eight successful tests since 2007, and we will continue to develop it to give it the capacity to intercept long-range missiles like ICBMs. It is now more than able to deal with the threat from multiple short- and medium-range missiles – a very real threat to our allies and some 80,000 American troops based in Europe that was not addressed by the previous plan.”

Moscow’s request for more precise information on the new system went practically ignored by Washington, until earlier this month when Romanian President Traian Basescu formally announced his country would host the missile defense system. Basescu then uttered the same reassurances that other countries have been pronouncing ever since these plans took flight.

“The new system is not against Russia. I want to categorically stress this, Romania [will] not host a system against Russia, but against other threats,” he said.

It is important to remember the context in which all of this is happening. First, NATO expansion seems to know no limits, and despite Georgia’s reckless attempt to annex the republic of South Ossetia, and Ukraine’s heavy opposition to membership in the Cold War-era institution both continue to receive assurances of future membership.

Moreover, the United States promised not to expand the military bloc at the end of the Cold War.

“Instead of embracing post-Soviet Russia as an equal partner in ending the Cold War and the arms race, both the Clinton and the George W. Bush administrations undertook a triumphalist winner-takes-all policy of extracting unilateral concessions,” wrote scholar Stephen F. Cohen (The Nation, February, 2005). “They have included the eastward expansion of NATO (thereby breaking a promise the first President Bush made to Gorbachev); the withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which had discouraged a new nuclear arms race… and the ongoing military encirclement of Russia with US and NATO bases in former Soviet territories.”

Meanwhile, one of the most important documents to be signed between the two nuclear superpowers, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), is presently being redrafted following its expiration on December 5, 2009.

Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged at their first meeting in April 2009 to replace the treaty.

Although diplomats have confirmed that about 95% of the new document is ready, the issue of an American anti-missile system so close to Russia’s borders could easily derail the historic document, which was made clear in comments by the Chief of Russia’s General Staff on Wednesday.

“Recent events in Eastern Europe have to some extent affected the negotiations. But this will be reflected in the new treaty,” General Nikolay Makarov said, while adding that the Russian Defense Ministry is “categorically opposed” to US missiles based in Eastern Europe, while mentioning the “demilitarization” of Kaliningrad, the tiny Russian exclave that borders Poland and Lithuania.

“Our position is negative, of course,” Makarov said. “Russia has undertaken a major demilitarization in the Kaliningrad region in light of Eastern European concerns,” he said, as quoted by Interfax.

“We have removed more than 600 tanks, 500 armored vehicles and armored personnel carriers, and about 600 weapons and mortars from the Kaliningrad region,” Makarov said.

The West is not taking this position into account, as it is deciding on the deployment of additional armaments in Romania and Bulgaria, he added.

Strange that the United States would rather risk its relationship with a bona-fide nuclear power that has a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons in the name of protecting itself from an avowed enemy that does not and may never will.

Thinking the Unthinkable: What if China Devalues the Renminbi?

February 19th, 2010 by Marshall Auerback

Conventional wisdom holds that the Chinese are due (as in overdue) for a revaluation of their currency, the renminbi. For instance, a recent report from Goldman argues that China will raise the value of the RMB against the dollar by 5% this year. The argument is that the move is needed to slow down an overheating economy.

But to a large degree, whether you agree with that as a remedy depends on what one’s reading is not just of China’s notoriously misleading statistics, but of the underlying growth dynamics, which are well out of bounds of any previous pattern, and not in a good way, either.

We question whether a revaluation is the right answer for them, and more important, whether the Chinese themselves see a revaluation as a plus. The government has engineered an enormous increase in money and credit in the past year. In fact, it seems to be as great as 5 years’ growth in credit in the previous Chinese bubble. The increase in money and credit is so great and so abrupt that you tend to get a high inflation quite quickly even if there are under utilised resources. Add to this the fact that China simultaneously is providing massive fiscal stimulus.

This combination is the making of a very messy situation. If China seeks to sustain demand via fiscal policy, the result is likely to be a big inflation problem. With many Chinese students steeped in Chicago School monetary theory coming home and assuming positions of authority, they could push for an aggressive, Paul Volcker-style effort to stop inflation.

But, what if the they don’t? Inflation can take off and thereby begin to ERODE the competitiveness of Chinese exports. Nouriel Roubini pointed out this issue in 2007: if China didn’t revalue, inflation would do the trick regardless. A continued high rate of inflation relative to its trade partners would push up the price of goods in home currency terms, which in turn translates into higher export prices. This might be the real reason why China is so reticent to revalue its currency. The Americans might go crazy if the Chinese devalued, but if the inflation is high enough, they might have to do it, as it will severely erode their terms of trade and cause their tradeables sector to collapse.

Or the hard-line monetarists triumphing by fighting inflation and the result is riots as unemployment increases.

It could get very ugly.

This could be happening now in China, although this is the opposite of prevailing views. The consensus is that inflation is a couple per cent and even that is largely due to higher pork prices thanks to a lousy corn harvest.

However, economists such as those at Lombard Street in the UK, Jim Walker, Simon Hunt and the like try to figure out the changes quarter to quarter in Chinese nominal GDP which is reported only year on year. And they come up with giant double digit growth rates for the second half of last year.

Now this is complicated by the fact that the Chinese have revised up their GDP numbers and they put all the revisions into the final quarter of the year. But when these analysts try to adjust for that statistical screw up they still come up with giant nominal GDP increases. Lombard Street thinks it was twenty five per cent or so in the second half of last year. They think it was twenty per cent real and five per cent inflation.

Economies of any size never grow at a twenty per cent real rate. And Simon Hunt says if you look at proxies like power output and rail traffic you don’t get those kinds of numbers for real growth, which suggests that inflation must be higher than four or five per cent. In general, if a real GDP figure looks sus, the first figure you examine critically is the GDP deflator.

So some evidence suggests that China’s inflation could already be at a double digit level. It is hard to say. But if it is that high, then the resultant inflation will cause a real revaluation of the trade weighted exchange rate.

And more so if the dollar rallies. That could well crush the volume of exports and the profitability of the industrial tradeables sector. Exports are the only area where China makes any kind of money because they can sell these products for about 10 times what they obtain for a comparable product in the domestic economy (where profits are virtually nil). The export sector is a big contributor to overall super excessive fixed investment in China. Dollar appreaciation means foreign direct investment will go to zero net.

There will be strong forces for a reduction in fixed investment in this large sector. Hence, there is a good chance that even without monetary tightening by the Chinese authorities, the overall fixed investment boom in China will turn down.

Nobody is thinking about this scenario but it is a real possibility. And with fixed investment now at fifty per cent of GDP (which is unprecedented in any economy) and exports at more than thirty, we’re looking at ratios that have never been reached before on a combined basis. Before readers argue that China can support that level of investment, consider the views of Professor Yu Yongding, who some analysts believe is China’s best macroeconomist. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Yu, the recently retired director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, did not explicitly say I was barking mad. But his email continued: “When a country has an investment rate over 50 per cent [of] GDP and rising, you say this country is not suffering from overcapacity! … are you serious? ”To judge whether there is overcapacity you cannot just do a head account. With a 1.3 billion population and human greed, China’s needs are unlimited, you can say that China will never suffer from overcapacity!”

The email noted that, on my logic, no developing country could ever suffer from overcapacity until it became rich and that the world should never have suffered a Great Depression in 1929.

Since that salutary critique, Yu has elaborated further on his views.

He believes China is trapped in a cycle where constantly rising growth in investment is constantly increasing China’s supply, but consumption has conspicuously failed to grow fast enough to absorb it. And so China is forced to increase investment in order to provide enough demand to absorb the previous round of increased supply, thus creating ever-widening cycles of oversupply.

In this manner, the investment share of gross domestic product has increased from a quarter of GDP in 2001 to at least half. “There is sort of a chase – demand chasing supply and then more demand is needed to chase more supply,” he says. “This is of course an unsustainable process.”

From 2005 China’s overcapacity problem had been “concealed” by ever-increasing net exports – but that strategy was interrupted by the financial crisis. Then came last year’s globally unprecedented stimulus-investment binge, which might not have been so worrying if it were delivering things that people needed. But the Government’s hand in resource allocation has grown heavier since the crisis without reforms to make officials more responsible for what they spend.

“As a result of the institutional arrangements in China, local governments have an insatiable appetite for grandiose investment projects and sub-optimal allocation of resources,” as Yu previously said, in his Richard Snape lecture for the Productivity Commission in November.

So there are now airports without towns, highways and high-speed railways running parallel, and towns where peasants are building houses for no reason other than to tear them down again because they know that will earn them more compensation when the local government inevitably appropriates their land.

Reducing investment and exports could create a severe recession in China. China has gone too far this time. They appear to be in a box that they and others don’t recognize. The “Black Swan” event this year, as far as China true believers are concerned, could well be a devaluation of the RMB. Were that to happen, the political consequences could be as significant as the economic.

Marshall Auerback is a fund manager and investment strategist who writes for New Deal 2.0 and Yves Smith

Globalization Batters Bangladesh

February 19th, 2010 by Sara Flounders

Are the global problems of grinding poverty, illiteracy and hunger faced by a majority of the world’s population a mere accident of history? Is the enormous inequality and underdevelopment of the formerly colonized countries of Africa and Asia due solely to the crimes of conquest by European colonial powers 100 and 200 years ago?

Or does U.S. imperialism and modern finance capital in the drive to maximize profits bear the greatest responsibility for continuing and actually intensifying this historic inequality?

These are the questions that were discussed again and again during a visit to Bangladesh to attend the convention of the Socialist Party of Bangladesh as 2009 ended.

Following the party’s dynamic convention in Dhaka, the Socialist Party of Bangladesh made every effort to introduce the international delegates to as much of the struggle around the country as possible.

The SPB-arranged trip was accompanied by party General Secretary Khalequzzaman and several other party leaders from the capital, Dhaka, a densely populated city of 14 million, to Chittagong, the industrial port — a city of 4 million. The U.S. military continues to pressure Bangladesh to grant port facilities and landing rights at this strategic seaport on the Bay of Bengal.

After attending a rally of about 1,000 people in Chittagong, the international group traveled to the southernmost tip of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal, then to the border of Myanmar, and to an island off the southern tip, where the U.S. is also pressing for a base. Then it proceeded to the east of Dhaka to the tea and rubber plantations of the hills in the Syhlet district. Delegates had the unique opportunity to attend organizing meetings of tea and rubber workers and to meet with activists working to organize garment workers and rickshaw drivers.

The trip was an opportunity to see how the imperialist countries enforce the serious underdevelopment of Bangladesh despite the enormous resources and potential of the country. Delegates were also able to observe the organizing efforts of the party in major cities and rural areas.

Roads were often single lanes of blacktop clogged with old trucks, dangerously overcrowded buses and countless rickshaws. Bicycle rickshaws propelled by human labor provide most transport for people and materials even in the capital, where there are more than 1 million rickshaw drivers in motion almost round the clock. It is a brutal job with no security.

Lowest pay in the world

Lining the roads of Dhaka are thousands of garment sweatshops, easily identified by the rows of fluorescent lights glowing inside. In the near dark of early morning, millions of garment workers, primarily young women, rush to arrive on time for 12-hour work shifts. It is dark again as they leave.

The pay in Bangladesh for garment workers is the lowest in the world. Garment workers in India, Vietnam and Thailand now earn an average of $60 a month, a desperately low wage. But in the capitalist race to maximize profits on a global scale Bangladesh now has the largest garment industry in Asia — workers are paid only $20 per month with no benefits and no job security.

Large retail trading companies in the U.S. and Western Europe give most of the orders for Bangladeshi garment products. A handful of Western banks control the capital funds. The garment industry has been a main source of foreign exchange in Bangladesh for the last 25 years. Women garment workers are now trying to organize for higher pay and improved working conditions.

Chittagong’s ship-breaking yards

The ship-breaking yards of Chittagong service another industry that reflects a globalized market’s ruthless exploitation of low wages in Bangladesh. The shipping industry is the backbone of international trade. It is also the source of major environmental toxins.

The SPB arranged to get a few delegates into the internationally notorious yards, along with video cameras. There had been a deadly explosion in one of the yards the day before the international delegates arrived in Bangladesh. Security in all the yards was tight.

At high tide a spent vessel is driven onto the beach. It is then pulled apart by thousands of workers laboring with bare hands or using acetylene torch cutters to break huge carriers down into small pieces. Workers wear no helmets, gloves, goggles, restraining harnesses or even shoes.

This inferno of fumes and toxic chemicals creates hellish working conditions. Asbestos, lead, chromates, mercury, metal shards, radiation, noise, intense vibration, and welding and cutting fumes all mix together.

The industry is subject to no environmental laws and no health or safety requirements. No statistics are kept of accidents.

This toxic industry could not exist without the active complicity of the largest shipping conglomerates. Hundreds of ships from cargo vessels, bulk carriers, fish factories to super tankers ride at anchor in the sea waiting to be scrapped at over 70 ship-breaking yards.

Previously ships could be scrapped in two weeks in a modern shipyard using union labor in Britain, Japan, Germany, the U.S. or other countries where ships used to be built. In the last 25 years of the globalized labor market, all this has changed. Breaking up one ship now takes over six months on a beach with unskilled labor. This is now a cheaper way to recycle parts of an aging ship. Thousands of small shops, each selling a few recycled electronic or metal pieces of salvage, line the roads to the ship-breaking yards.

Ever since International Monetary Fund bankers denied credits and forced Bangladesh to shutter its steel plants, Bangladesh depends on ship breaking to meet its domestic steel requirements.

China once had a major ship-breaking industry. But as soon as China began enforcing environmental and safety laws, this dangerous industry became unprofitable there. In international shipping there is a race to find countries where no occupational health and safety standards are enforced and where wages are the lowest — a race to the bottom.

Tea and rubber workers organize

A major cash crop in Bangladesh, tea is bought and sold on the world market by a handful of large corporations. The tea pickers are mainly women and children. Men do the pruning, cutting and road work.

A high moment of the trip was attending a night meeting of hundreds of workers on an isolated tea plantation in the Syhlet district. Their very moving meeting was a vibrant mix of music, chants and talks of labor conditions. Based on their organizing, the workers at several plantations had finally won a 50 percent pay increase from $10 a month to $15 a month. They were determined to win their demands for schools for their children and basic health care.

Ratan Rajequzzaman, a leader of the Socialist Workers Front, explained in depth about both working conditions and organizing efforts.

British colonial plantation owners had imported tea workers from southern India more than 150 years ago. These workers have lived in both cultural and linguistic isolation ever since. They work under conditions of modern-day indentured slaves and depend totally on management for food and all basic necessities. These workers, who are victims of the greatest abuse and discrimination, seldom leave these extensive plantations.

Tea and rubber plantations are often combined, with tea bushes on one side of the road and rubber trees on the other. Tea plantations are idyllically called “tea gardens.” Picnicking in a tea garden is a popular tourist attraction for middle-class and returning Bangladesh immigrants. But picturesque photos of women bending and stooping to pluck tea leaves can hardly convey this backbreaking work or show that there is no protection from dangerous fertilizers and pesticides.

Archaic equipment for drying, shredding and bagging tea leaves exposes an industry that has changed little in decades. But now the old relations are being challenged with new energy.

Challenging the theft of resources

Along with its focus on labor organizing, the SPB has helped in organizing broad coalitions to challenge the grossly unequal contracts presented by such multinational oil corporations as Chevron, Shell and Conoco for development of Bangladesh’s gas, oil and coal resources. The oil giants are demanding contracts of between 6 and 21 percent royalties after exploration costs are met.

On Jan. 12, the final day of the visit, Michael Kramer, representing the International Action Center, was able to participate in human-chain demonstrations challenging these outrageous leases that were organized across the country by the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Natural Resources. (The coalition has also opposed open-pit coal mining, which has resulted in destruction of wide areas of arable lands, water reservoirs and fish ponds.) The human chain was formed at 150 points along the cross-country line from Teknaf, the southernmost city, to Tentulia in the north.

Past challenges to unequal and secret leasing of national resources have led to important victories. A long march from Dhaka to Chittagong led to the cancellation of a 199-year lease of the country’s main seaport to a U.S. company.

In Bangladesh despite its enormous problems, made much worse by the global capitalist market, there are revolutionary forces who are confident that, with socialist planning and the creative involvement of the most oppressed and lowest paid workers in the world, the challenges to develop their rich resources are solvable in ways that will benefit the whole population.

Nachdem er sich selbst als “Oberbefehlshaber einer Nation inmitten zweier Kriege” und außerdem als Staatsoberhaupt “der einzigen militärische Supermacht der Welt” [1] be zeichnet hatte und dafür auch noch die Auszeichnung erhielt, die seltsamerweise immer noch “Friedensnobelpreis” genannt wird, behauptete US-Präsident Barack Obama in sei ner ersten Rede zur Lage der Nation am 27. Januar, “die internationale Gemeinschaft wer de sich immer einiger, und die Islamische Republik Iran isoliere sich immer mehr”, und drohte: “Wenn die iranische Führung fortfährt, ihre Verpflichtungen zu ignorieren, sollte niemand daran zweifeln, dass … sie mit Konsequenzen rechnen muss. Das verspreche ich.”

Zwei Tage später sagte seine Außenministerin Hillary Clinton in einer entlarvenden Rede in einer führenden französischen Militärakademie, in der sie Angriffe auf den Iran mit ei nem alles andere als diplomatischen Seitenhieb auf China verband: “China wird sehr unter Druck geraten, bis es die destabilisierende Wirkung anerkennt, die ein atomar bewaffneter Iran auf den Persischen Golf hätte.” [2]

Damit war natürlich Druck aus Washington gemeint. Am gleichen Tag, an dem Frau Clin ton ihre Rede in Paris hielt, bestätigte das Weiße Haus, Waffen für 6,4 Milliarden Dollar an Taiwan ausgeliefert zu haben.

Am 9. Februar teilte Geoff Morrell, der Sprecher des US-Verteidigungsministeriums, der Presse mit, Pentagon-Chef Robert Gates erwarte von den Vereinten Nationen, dass sie “innerhalb von Wochen und nicht von Monaten” Sanktionen gegen den Iran verhängten, weil es klar sei, dass “die Zeit ein wichtiger Faktor ist”. [3]

Während des Ersten Weltkriegs klagte der österreichische Journalist und Dramatiker Karl Kraus (s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/KarlKraus ): “Was ist das für eine mythologische Verwirrung? Seit wann ist Mars der Gott des Handels und Merkur der Gott des Krieges?” (s. dazu http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/RC3%B6mischeMythologie  )

Wenn er heute lebte, wäre er genau so verwundert darüber, dass die US-Spitzendiplomatin eine Rede in einer Militärakademie hält – und dabei auch noch von oben herab die be­völkerungsreichste Nation der Welt belehren will – während der US-Kriegsminister die Welt unter Druck zu setzen versucht, damit sie Straf-Sanktionen gegen einen Staat ver hängt, der seit Jahrhunderten kein anderes Land angegriffen hat.

Der Generalsekretär des US-geführten “einzigen globalen Militär-Blocks der Welt” – An ders Fogh Rasmussen – hielt am 7. Februrar auf der jährlichen Münchener Sicherheits konferenz eine Rede mit dem wichtigtuerischen, pompösen Titel “Die NATO im 21. Jahr hundert: Auf dem Weg zur globalen Vernetzung”, in der er die Zuständigkeit des Militär‑

Blocks für jeden vorstellbaren Konflikt betonte: für den sich ständig ausweitenden Krieg in Afghanistan, (den Kampf gegen) den Terrorismus, die Angriffe auf das Internet, die Be­schneidung der Energieversorgung – wobei sich die letzten beiden Verweise gegen Russ-land richteten, auch wenn es nicht genannt wurde – den Klimawandel, die Piraterie, die gescheiterten Staaten, den Drogenhandel, die “humanitären Katastrophen”, den Streit um urbares Land, die steigende Konkurrenz bei der Ausbeutung von Bodenschätzen und die Probleme mit Nordkorea und dem Iran. (Die Rasmussen-Rede ist aufzurufen unter http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/opinions61395.htm?selectedLocale=en ) [4]

Die Forderung führender Persönlichkeiten der NATO und des Westens, die NATO solle zum Forum für Konsultationen zu weltweiten Sicherheitsproblemen werden, wiederholend, stellte Rasmussen fest: “Um ihre Aufgabe in der heutigen Zeit wirksam ausführen zu kön nen, muss die NATO zum Mittelpunkt eines Netzes von Sicherheitspartnerschaften und zu einem Zentrum für die Beratung internationaler Sicherheitsprobleme werden. Und dabei müssen wir nicht von vorne beginnen. Bereits heute verfügt die Allianz über ein ausge dehntes Netz von Sicherheitspartnerschaften, das von Nordafrika, über den Persischen Golf und Zentralasien bis zum Pazifik reicht.” [5]

Tatsächlich hat die NATO weltweit ein breites, sich immer noch ausweitendes Netz von Mitgliedern und militärischen Partnern aufgebaut. Eins ihrer Mitglieder, die Türkei mit der zweitgrößten Armee des Blocks, hat eine gemeinsame Grenze mit dem Iran, ebenso Aser­baidschan, ein Partner der Allianz.

Rasmussens Anspielung auf den Persischen Golf bezieht sich auf die wachsenden Anzahl militärischer Kontakte, Besuche und Aktivitäten zwischen der NATO und den sechs Mit gliedern des Gulf Cooperation Council / GCC (des Golf-Kooperationsrates, s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golf-Kooperationsrat ), die parallel zur Verstärkung der US-Präsenz in der Golfregion verlaufen [6] und in das Netzwerk der Istanbul Cooperation Initiative / ICI (s. http://www.nato.int/issues/ici/  ) eingepasst sind, die 2004 gegründet wurde. [7]

Das Projekt erhielt diesen Namen, weil es auf dem NATO-Gipfel in Istanbul gestartet wur de; nachdem man fast ganz Osteuropa in die Allianz absorbiert hat, will man mit dem glei chen Prozess abgestufter Partnerschaften, mit dem nach und nach zehn neue europäi sche Mitglieder integriert wurden, auch sieben Staaten am Mittelmeer, im Nahen Osten und in Afrika – Algerien, Ägypten, Israel, Jordanien, Mauretanien, Marokko und Tunesien – und sechs Staaten am Persischen Golf – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi-Arabien und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate – einbeziehen. Alle dreizehn Staaten sind in der ICI erfasst, aber die erstmalige Vereinbarung militärischer Partnerschaften mit den sechs Golfstaaten war der ehrgeizigste und wichtigste Aspekt dieses NATO-Programms.

Es kennzeichnet den Beginn des Drangs der NATO zum Golf und dient der US-Strategie, die darauf abzielt, den Iran zu umzingeln, bevor es zur Konfrontation kommt.

Eines der festgelegten Ziele der ICI bestand darin, “interessierte Staaten … zur Teilnahme an der Operation Active Endeavour / OAE (Operation aktives Wagnis, s. http://de.wikipe­dia.org/wiki/OperationActiveEndeavour ) einzuladen” [8], einer NATO-Operation zur Überwachung und Abriegelung – einer De-Facto-Blockade – des Mittelmeers, die im Okto ber 2010 zehn Jahre alt wird. Die ICI weitet die Kontrolle des Mittelmeeres über das Rote Meer und den Golf von Aden, in dem zur Zeit die NATO-Seeoperation Ocean Shield (Mee resschild) läuft, bis in das Arabische Meer und in den Persischen Golf aus.

Ein früherer Artikel in dieser Reihe listet die Hauptziele der ICI auf:

die Verpflichtung für die GCC-Staaten, in ihrem Gebiet und im gesamten Mittleren Osten Truppen, Kampfflugzeuge und Nachschub zur Verfügung zu stellen und Kon trollaufgaben zu übernehmen;

die Einbeziehung der Golfstaaten in ein globales Raketenüberwachungs- und Ab wehrsystem;

die Einbeziehung der GCC-Staaten nicht nur unter den Schutz des US-Raketenab wehrschirms, sondern auch in die Verpflichtung zu gegenseitiger Verteidigung nach Artikel 5 des NATO-Vertrages; wenn ein oder mehrere GCC-Mitglieder sich durch ein Nichtmitglied – wie den Iran – bedroht fühlen, könnte das als Vorwand für einen Prä ventiv-Angriff (der NATO) benutzt werden;

Ausweitung der Operation Active Endeavour der NATO auf den Persischen Golf, mit der ein Verbot des Schiffsverkehrs in der Straße von Hormuz, also eine Blockade des Seewegs möglich wäre, auf dem etwa 40-50 Prozent des zwischenstaatlichen Öltransports der Welt abgewickelt werden. [9]

Im Jahr 2006 unterzeichnete die NATO sowohl eine Vereinbarung über den Austausch von Geheimdienstinformationen als auch auch ein Transitabkommen mit Kuwait und rich tete am NATO Defense College in Rom (s. http://www.ndc.nato.int/  ) eine neue Fakultät für den Mittleren Osten ein. Im Dezember 2006 veranstaltete die NATO in Kuwait eine Konfe renz der Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, an der alle sechs Golfstaaten teilnahmen. (s. dazu http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news22060.htm?selectedLocale=en)

Im Jahr 2007 schlossen sich vier der sechs GCC Mitglieder – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate – formell der ICI an.

Das Vordringen der NATO an den Golf setzte sich kontinuierlich fort; im Mai 2009 lobte Admiral Luciano Zappata von der italienischen Marine, der Stellvertretende Oberkomman dierende des Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia (s.http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlliedCommandTransformation ), in einer Rede zum neuen strategischen Konzept der NATO, das zur Zeit erarbeitet wird, die ICI als ein “erfolgreiches Beispiel” des neuen Modells der “Partnerschaft und Zusammenarbeit”, das die Allianz für viele Teile der Welt plant.

Was Zappata im Sinn hatte, wurde in der Diskussion als die “maritime Dimension der neu en Strategie” beschrieben. Die Einkreisung des Irans durch die militärische Expansion des Westen an den Persischen Golf hat er, um die wahren Absichten der NATO zu verbergen, ausnahmsweise nicht erwähnt.

Er sagte: “Das Netzwerk von Häfen, Infrastruktur-Einrichtungen, Rohrleitungen und Schif fen, die sich auf vereinbarten Seestraßen bewegen, ist sehr störanfällig.

Mit dem Beginn der Ausbeutung der Ressourcen auf dem Grund der Ozeane gibt es eine Verschiebung bezüglich der Sicherheit und der strategischen Ausrichtung.”

Der Admiral fügte hinzu, die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate seien “ein bedeutender Han­delspartner und Energielieferant in der Weltwirtschaft. Die neue französische Militärbasis, im Hafen Zayed sei eine wichtige Ergänzung der wachsenden internationalen Bemühun gen um die Sicherheit auf den Meeren”. [10]

Am gleichen Tag, an dem der Admiral seine Rede hielt, am 26. Mai 2009, weilte der fran­zösische Staatspräsident Nicolas Sarkozy in den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten, um eine neue Militärbasis zu eröffnen, die erste Basis Frankreichs am Persischen Golf und die erste große Militärbasis einer befreundeten ausländischen Armee in den Emiraten. Der französische Stützpunkt im Hafen Zayed an der Küste der Straße von Hormuz “enthält eine Marine- und Luftwaffenbasis und ein Trainingslager”. [11]

“Die Basis wird 500 Angehörige der Marine, der Armee und der Luftwaffe Frankreichs beherbergen. Sie kann gleichzeitig zwei Fregatten der französischen Flotte aufneh men, die in dieser Region operieren … Die französische Basis ist die erste ihrer Art im Persischen Golf.” 

Ein Golf-Experte wurde zu diesem Ereignis wie folgt zitiert: “Die USA haben mehrere Mili­tärbasen für ihre Luft- und Seestreitkräfte in Kuwait, Qatar und Bahrain. Der französische Seehafen in Abu Dhabi ist die erste ausländische Militärbasis einer befreundeten Armee in den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten.” [12]

“Diese Militärbasis verbessert ganz sicher den Status Frankreichs innerhalb der NATO und sein Verhältnis zu den USA, weil es neben diesen als einziges NATO-Mit glied im Golf präsent ist.” [13] 

Im Juni 2009 schloss Sarkozy mit den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten einen Vertrag über den Verkauf von 60 Rafale-Kampfjets (s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dassault_Rafale ) zum Preis von 8-11 Milliarden Dollar ab.

Im vergangenen Jahr führte Frankreich in den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten ein Manö ver – die 1 2-tägige Übung Golf Shield 01 – durch, gemeinsam mit dem Militär des Gastlan des und Qatars. 4.000 Soldaten nahmen an dem Manöver teil, bei dem “ein Krieg zweier Regionalstaaten und eines Verbündeten gegen einen benachbarten Staat, der eines der Länder überfallen hat, simuliert wurde”. [14]

Gegen Ende Oktober 2009 wurde in Abu Dhabi, der Hauptstadt der Vereinigten Arabi schen Emirate, eine zweitägige Konferenz durchgeführt, zu dem Thema “Die Beziehungen zwischen der NATO und den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten und der weitere Weg in die Istanbul Cooperation Initiative” (s. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/events58545.htm  ). Unter den 300 Teilnehmern waren der Generalsekretär der NATO, die ständigen NATO Vertreter im Nordatlantikrat (s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordatlantikrat  ), der Stellvertre tende Generalsekretär der NATO, der Vorsitzende des NATO-Militärausschusses (s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO-Milit%C3%A4rausschuss  ), weitere hochrangige NATO­Offizielle und Regierungsvertreter, Meinungsführer, Akademiker und führende Wissen schaftler aus den Golfstaaten, die in die ICI integriert werden sollen. [15]

NATO-Generalsekretär Anders Fogh Rasmussen äußerte gegenüber ei nem Korrespon denten von Al Arabiya (s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Arabiya ), dass “die NATO die Golfregion als eine Erweiterung des europäisch-atlantischen Sicherheitsraumes ansieht” und sagte unter Bezugnahme auf den Iran, der natürlich nicht zu der Konferenz eingela den war: “Wir sind alle sehr über atomare Ambitionen besorgt und über den Dominoeffekt, den diese in einer Region verursachen könnten, die von zentraler Bedeutung für die globa le Stabilität und Sicherheit ist.” [16]

In den letzten Wochen kündigten die USA den Verkauf von landgestützten Abwehrraketen an Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate an. Sie wollen sowohl Raketen des Typs Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM104_Patriot ) als auch Raketenabwehr-Systeme des Typs Terminal High Altitude Area De fense / THAAD (s. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/TerminalHighAltitudeAreaDefense) an die GCC-Staaten liefern und haben bereits das seegestützte Abwehrsystem Standard Missile-3 auf Aegis-Raketenkreuzern im Persischen Golf stationiert. (s. http://www.luftpostkl.de/luftpost-archiv/LP_10/LP03610_050210.pdf )

Anfang Februar war der Stellvertretende Generalsekretär der NATO, Claudio Bisognieros, in Qatar und sagte dort: “In Würdigung der Unterstützung, die Qatar seit der Gründung der ICI im Jahr 2004 der NATO gewährt, stelle ich fest, dass sich Qatar an den meisten der unter NATO-Ägide durchgeführten Unternehmungen aktiv beteiligt hat … .” [17]

GCC-Staaten, die in internationale NATO-Operationen integriert sind, stellen auch Trup pen für den Krieg in Afghanistan. In einer Publikation der US-Streitkräfte wurde Ende Ja nuar mitgeteilt, dass 125 Sicherheitskräfte aus Bahrain eingesetzt waren “zum Schutz des Hauptquartiers für US-Militäreinsätze in der aufrührerischen Provinz Helmand”, dem mehr als 10.000 Marineinfanteristen unterstellt sind, die noch verstärkt werden sollen”. [18] In der Provinz Helmand starten die USA und die NATO die größte und blutigste Schlacht des bereits über acht Jahre dauernden Afghanistan-Krieges.

Truppen aus der Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten dienen seit Jahren unter NATO-Befehl in Afghanistan.

Die KUWAIT NEWS AGENCY berichtete am 28. Januar, der Vorsitzende des NATO-Mili­tärausschusses, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, habe gesagt: “Die Allianz führt mit einem Golfstaat Gespräche über die Stationierung von AWACS-Flugzeugen (s. http://de.wikipe­dia.org/wiki/Airborne Warning and Control System ), die zur Unterstützung der ISAF Mission in Afghanistan und der Piratenbekämpfung vor Somalia Aufklärungsflüge durch führen sollen.”

Außerdem wurde Di Paola mit der Äußerung zitiert: “Die Allianz ist kurz vor dem Ab schluss einer Vereinbarung mit einem der Golfstaaten, die aus der vorübergehenden Stationierung (der AWACS-Maschinen) in Oman einen dauerhaften, langfristigen Aufenthalt machen soll.” [19] Von dem an der Straße von Hormuz gelegenen Oman aus ist der ganze Iran zu überwachen.

Saudi-Arabien, die größte Militärmacht in der Golfregion, die bis an die Zähne mit mo dernsten US-Waffen ausgerüstet ist, führt seit September letzten Jahres seinen ersten Krieg überhaupt. Riad unternimmt mit Infanterie, Panzern und Kampfflugzeugen im Nor-den des Nachbarstaates Jemen regelmäßige Offensiven gegen die Houthi-Rebellen. Hun derte von jemenitischen Bürgern sollen bei den Angriffen bereits getötet worden sein, an denen nach Angaben des Sprechers der Rebellen auch US-Kampfjets beteiligt gewesen sein sollen. [20] Seit 2004 wurden bei diesen Kämpfen 200.000 Menschen entwurzelt und vertrieben. (s. http://www.luftpost-kl.de/luftpost-archiv/LP09/LP28709231209.pdf)   

Die saudische Regierung gibt zu, dass bisher 500 ihrer Soldaten verwundet oder getötet wurden.

Die Menschen in Nord-Jemen sind Schiiten, deshalb könnten die saudischen Angriffe auch einen Krieg mit dem (überwiegend schiitischen) Iran provozieren; er könnte aber auch als Training für einen Überfall auf den Iran dienen, wenn der das eigentlich verfolgte Ziel ist.

Im Irak, der auch an den Iran grenzt, schloss der Stellvertretende Generalsekretär der NATO, Claudio Bisogniero, im Juli 2009 einen Vertrag mit dem irakischen Verteidigungs minister über die Ausbildung der Streitkräfte dieses Landes ab. Auf der NATO-Website war zu lesen: “Diese Vereinbarung ist ein Meilenstein in der Zusammenarbeit zwischen der Republik Irak und der NATO und kennzeichnet das starke Engagement der Allianz. … Die Vereinbarung wird die gesetzliche Grundlage dafür schaffen, dass die NATO ihre Mission fortsetzen und der Regierung der Republik Irak bei der Entwickelung der Fähig keiten der irakischen Sicherheitskräfte auch weiterhin helfen kann.” [21]

Im letzten Monat hat die NATO damit begonnen, Kurden, die im Norden des Iraks in der Nähe der iranischen Grenze leben, für die irakischen Streitkräfte zu rekrutieren.

Bei einer Konferenz der NATO-Verteidigungsminister in der westlich der Irans gelegenen Türkei, die Ende letzter Woche stattfand, hat sich Pentagon-Chef Robert Gates mit Gene ral Ilker Basbug, dem Chef des türkischen Generalstabs, getroffen, um, wie er sagte, “mit General Basbug die Rolle der Türkei im Raketenabwehr-System und die Beziehungen zwischen den Armeen beider Staaten zu besprechen”. [22]

Der ehemalige NATO-Generalsekretär George Robertson, der forderte, die US-Atom­sprengköpfe auch weiterhin in Deutschland zu belassen, hat kürzlich ausgeplaudert, dass nach einer NATO-Vereinbarung auf dem türkischen Luftwaffenstützpunkt Incirlik zwischen 40 und 90 US-Atomwaffen eingelagert sind.

Das im Nordwesten des Irans gelegene Aserbaidschan entwickelt sich zunehmend zum NATO-Vorposten im südlichen Kaukasus und im Kaspischen Becken. Anfang dieses Mo nats “traf eine Arbeitsgruppe des aserbaidschanischen Verteidigungsministeriums im eu ropäischen Hauptquartier der US-Streitkräfte / EUCOM in Stuttgart, Deutschland, ein. Das Treffen fand im Rahmen des Aktionsplans statt, auf den sich die USA und Aserbaidschan zur Förderung der militärischen Zusammenarbeit geeinigt haben, und dauerte fünf Tage. [23]

Mit diesem Staat hat man sich auf einen individuellen Aktionsplan zum Erwerb einer NATO-Partnerschaft geeinigt, wie er auch mit den anderen ehemaligen Sowjetrepubliken Georgien, der Ukraine und erst kürzlich mit Moldawien vereinbart wurde. Im Januar beher bergte Aserbaidschan eine Planungskonferenz für das NATO-Manöver Regional Respon se 2010. Im letzten Jahr fand das Manöver Regional Response 2009 im Rahmen des NATO-Programms Partnerschaft für den Frieden in (der aserbaidschanischen Hauptstadt) Baku statt.

“Carter Ham, der Oberkomnandierende der U.S. Army Europe (aus deren Haupt quartier in Heidelberg), nahm an der Übung teil.” [24]

Aserbaidschan hat sein Truppenkontingent in Afghanistan verdoppelt und wird Angehörige der afghanischen Armee an seinen Militärakademien ausbilden.. Das Außenministerium des Landes hat kürzlich mitgeteilt, Aserbaidschan sei wie die Ukraine daran interessiert, sich der NATO Response Force (der schnellen Eingreiftruppe der NATO, s. http://de.wiki­pedia.org/wiki/NATO_Response_Force) anzuschließen, deren Aufgabe die Allianz so be­schreibt:

“Die NATO Response Force / NRF ist eine in ständiger Bereitschaft stehende Truppe auf dem neusten technologischen Stand, die sich aus Land-, Luft-, See- und Spezial streitkräften zusammensetzt und schnell überall eingreifen kann.

Sie ist in der Lage, weltweit alle erforderlichen Operationen durchzuführen.” [25]

Gegen Ende Januar sagte Vafa Guluzade, ein ehemaliger Berater des Präsidenten Aser­baidschans, in einem Seminar mit dem Titel “Die Zusammenarbeit der NATO und Aserbai­dschans aus ziviler Sicht”: “Das Territorium und die Menschen Aserbaidschans sind ideal für eine militärische Zusammenarbeit mit der NATO. Das Land hat eine sehr vorteilhafte geostrategische Lage, … und seine Flughäfen eignen sich als NATO-Basen.” [26]

Im Osten des Irans werden die USA und die NATO bald mehr als 150.000 Soldaten zur Verfügung haben, die nach einer neuen Studie auf 400 Basen in Afghanistan verteilt sind, und die beiden westlichen Kriegspartner koordinieren ihre Militäraktionen über die Afgha nistan, Pakistan und die NATO verbindende trilaterale Militärkommission auch mit Pakis tan.

Die Ring um den Iran wird aus jeder Richtung immer enger zusammengezogen, und die NATO hat die wichtigsten Fäden in der Hand.

(Wir haben den Artikel komplett übersetzt und mit Ergänzungen und Links in Klammern versehen. Rick Rozo ffs fundierte Analyse lässt darauf schließen, dass der Überfall auf den Iran – vermutlich nach einer einleitenden Aktion Israels – nicht von den USA allein, son dern von der gesamten NATO durchgeführt wird.

Das erklärt auch, warum die Bundeswehr schon Befehle in persischer Sprache üben lässt. Wir können nur nochmals an die Hinweise in der LUFTPOST 037/10 (aufzurufen unter http://wwwiuftpost-kl.de/luftpost-archiv/LP_10/LP03710_050210.pdf) und an den Ram steiner Appell erinnern, den alle besorgten Menschen selbst unterschreiben und unter den sie möglichst viele Unterschriften sammeln sollten. Die Unterschriftenlisten können über www.ramsteiner-appell.de  ausgedruckt werden. Nach den Anmerkungen folgt der Origi­naltext.)

Übersetzung von: www.luftpost-kl.de

Anmerkungen (Sie wurden zur Vermeidung von Missverständnissen aus dem Originaltext übernommen.)

1) Obama Doctrine: Eternal War For Imperfect Mankind
Stop NATO, December 10, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/obama-doctrine-eternal-war-for-imperfect-man­kind

2) Hillary Clinton’s Prescription: Make The World A NATO Protectorate
Stop NATO, January 31, 2010 

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/hillary-clintons-prescription-make-the-world-a­nato-protectorate

3)Associated Press, February 9, 2010
4) NATO, February 7, 2010
http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/opinions61395.htm?selectedLocale=en      
5) Ibid
6) U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Stop NATO, February 3, 2010 

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/u-s-extends-missile-buildup-from-poland-and­taiwan-to-persian-gulf

7) NATO In Persian Gulf: From Third World War To Istanbul
Stop NATO, February 6, 2009 

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/nato-in-persian-gulf-from-third-world-war-to­istanbul

8) NATO, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative 

http://www.nato.int/docu/comm/2004/06-istanbul/docu-cooperation.htm

9) NATO In Persian Gulf: From Third World War To Istanbul
10) Khaleej Times, May 26, 2009
11) Radio Netherlands, May 26, 2009
12) Gulf News, May 23, 2009
13) Gulf News, January 27, 2008
14) Agence France-Presse, March 6, 2008
15) NATO, October 28, 2009
16) Al Arabiya, November 1, 2009
17) Gulf Times, February 8, 2010
18) Stars and Stripes, January 23, 2010
19) Kuwait News Agency, January 28, 2010
20) Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009 

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/yemen-pentagons-war-on-the-arabian-peninsula

21) NATO, July 26, 2009
22) World Bulletin, February 6, 2010
23) Azeri Press Agency, February 1, 2010
24) Azeri Press Agency, January 21, 2010
25) NATO, The NATO Response Force
http://www. nato. int/cps/en/natolive/topics 49755. htm
26) Novosti Azerbaijan, January 22, 2010

Economic Crisis: The Sovereign Debt Bubble

February 19th, 2010 by Bob Chapman

When the next census is over America will probably have 320 million people. The number of Americans 50 years ago was about 184 million. Our budget then was about $100 billion. Today it is supposed to be $3.8 trillion. We call that spending gone wild. Government control of the economy has become bigger and all consuming at what will prove to be an unsustainable pace. Markets are telling us the world has serious sovereign debt problems as witnessed recently with the financial debacles in Ireland and now Greece with others to follow. Arrogant government, Fed officials and Wall Street telling us the borrowings are necessary to save our economy, when in fact just the opposite will prove to be true. Chairman Bernanke tells us inflation expectations are stable and will be subdued for some time to come. Our big questions are what is he hiding at the Fed? Why doesn’t he want an audit? What has the Fed been doing that it doesn’t want us to know about? Could it be the funnel of insider information flowing to Wall Street and banking or the operations of the “Presidents Working Group on Financial Markets”? In their minutes it would be found that inflation is recognized as a friend not an enemy. The independence Mr. Bernanke speaks about is a subterfuge to keep what the Fed is doing away from prying eyes. We do not believe this is any way to run a monetary system.

As we forecast Fed Chairman Bernanke was reconfirmed as the Republican National Committee doled out campaign contributions (payoffs) so that Senators could see their way to confirming Ben. Treasury Secretary Geithner and former Secretary Paulson lied before the congressional committee and as usual nothing happened. Again three illuminists waltz free to again rape our financial system. Democrats in scumbag fashion didn’t seat the newly elected Scott Brown and was able to increase short-term government by $1.9 trillion, so they wouldn’t have to increase it before the November elections. What a wonderful government we have. If Americans do not dump the incumbents of both parties our country is doomed.

It should stand foremost in everyone’s mind that we have had zero interest rates for 14 months and there is no end in sight. The Fed in its secrecy, because you do not have a need to know, won’t admit that they paid banks, Wall Street firms, insurance companies, other corporations and foreign banks 100 cents on the dollar for virtually worthless bonds. The Fed saved the financial system and the US taxpayer will pay for it. Incidentally, these recipients are all back doing the same thing they did before, which brought the financial system down. The Fed created more than $2 trillion for this bailout, as well as via the purchase of Treasuries and Agencies.

In this process the Fed lost control of the Fed funds’ rate, a new rate process will probably be interest paid on excess bank reserves. This could lead to a drain in reserves of $1 to $2 trillion. Part of those reserves are toxic garbage that the Fed has to find a way to get rid of at $0.20 to $0.30 on the dollar and in process not let anyone know what the publics’ losses are. Keep in mind that if these securities had not been “purchased many banks, brokerage houses, insurance companies and transnational conglomerates would have been bankrupt by now.

China expanded bank loans in January by a phenomenal $200 billion plus. This is in addition to $1.3 trillion in previous expansions. As a result house prices rose 9.5% year-on-year. Their manufacturing fed giant oil and copper imports rose 33% to 25%, as consumption rose 40%.

As a result the People’s Bank raised reserve requirements by 50 bps, or 1/2%. Whether this becomes an isolated event or whether it is the beginning of real tightening, remains to be seen. If they are serious they will need higher rates than that. This tactic is used rather than raising interest rates, which will attract additional hot money flow. The bank says they are guiding the economy back to normality. They are expecting other countries to follow their lead in ending stimulus. The question now for China and the rest of the world is will world stock and bond markets, as well as asset values fall as the stimulus and quantitative easing ends? Our forecast is a fall in GDP, higher unemployment, an easing to a very small degree in inflation and a big fall in stock, bond and real estate prices. The temporary palliative will not carry their economy ahead on a permanent basis.

China can act aggressively because their enormous Forex position of some $2.4 trillion; a luxury not available to many countries. In addition we now have recognized sovereign debt problems mainly so that the dollar could rally and for other currencies to fall to make them more competitive. That is the price to be paid – recognition. Those conditions were well known long before the open exposure of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. The magical exposure was all prearranged. We could tell that was the plan by the long dollar positions of Goldman, Morgan and Citi, and in reverse their massive short positions in gold and silver bullion and shares that still as yet have only been partially covered.

China will tighten up but not in a big way, because others won’t and can’t without there economies coming unglued, especially in the category of unemployment. World monetary authorities are hoping the deflationary underflow will in total or at least in part ward-off the inflation caused by monetized stimulus. That is wishful thinking. What is in motion is very dangerous, especially for the US, where the federal deficit has gone ballistic, probably reaching $1.5 to $2.0 trillion by September 30, 2010, the end of the fiscal year. Then there is the matter of debt that last year saw the Fed service 80% via monetization. This cannot persist indefinitely. As you can see the US and other economies are very vulnerable.

As all attention has been drawn over the past few weeks to Greece, Europe and China, it went almost unnoticed that the US had the largest trade deficit in a year, and that Freddie Mac will purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of toxic waster better known as collateralized debt obligation, in behalf of the American taxpayer. There is no end to America’s financial problems.

This is the result of the market’s reluctance to purchase these securities. These publicly supported bankrupt entities will spend another $200 billion buying these securities. This is an add on to the Fed’s program of purchasing $1.25 trillion of these home loans, a program that is supposed to end next month.

If this is part of the Fed’s exit strategy we are in serious trouble. These purchases are not going to solve the problems. The Fed is just moving these wasteful assets from one place to another. Under these circumstances how can there be a recovery and how can the dollar maintain its current strength? Leverage is still the method of speculators and inflation is still with us.

It looks like global financial and economic problems are not going to disappear anytime soon. Over and over again nations paper over problems never attempting to solve them. The current dilemma in Greece and at the Fed are perfect examples.

Observers are going to be shocked when China’s stock market and real estate bubbles burst. The ramifications of these Chinese failures will resound worldwide. The biggest question is will China have to start selling off its $2 trillion dollar hoard to straighten out its problems? Only time will tell. What is important is that these problems exist. They are not being addressed and in time will resurface in a more virulent manner.

We see Greece as a reflection of where America is headed. Greece and America have many things in common, one of which is their governments consistently lie about everything. The EU and eurozone solution for Greece are budget cuts of 8.7% this year and down to 3% of GDP in three years. Can you imagine the US going through this? Well, get ready for it because this is where the US economy is headed. Instead of $780 billion stimulus plans we will have $780 billion in budget cuts. Not only would government start cutting staff, but also there would be major cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, wages, etc. Yes, taxes would rise, as tax cuts would not be renewed.

We hear all about the corruption in Greece, but we are not surprised. They just copy what they see in the US. It is a revelation when we are told 30% of Greece’s economy is underground. It has been a dark secret for many years that 30% of the US economy is underground as well. This began in the Vietnam era, and has gone on ever since. Today people say if illegal aliens do not have to pay taxes why should they. It is a government-sponsored program to do little or nothing about this problem, so what can government expect from the public?

Greece is a basket case, as are many other governments. The more we research the more we are convinced Greece is a setup and trial run to take other governments under, one at a time. This in part was done to boost the dollar’s value versus other currencies. This could be the second inflationary leg of the depression similar to 1933. Again the only safe haven is gold and silver related assets.

As we mentioned before, Greece could well be a distraction so players would lose sight of US problems. A strong dollar does not mean the America’s problems are over. Others’ problems are not worse than ours. By the looks of things the Illuminists are not as yet ready to pull the plug on Europe. If they were they would have already pulled it. The EU, but in particular the eurozone, has become a failed experiment. Greece may be bad but California is going to be much worse. It represents 13% of US GDP and is the 7th largest economy in the world. They owe the federal government $6 billion and have a budget deficit of more than $6 billion. Then there are the $500 billion in municipal bonds they have outstanding, that could go into default. Then there is New Jersey with an $11 billion deficit. Pennsylvania hs talked about bankruptcy. Then come many others. Yes, Greece could be a diversion. If it is it will be a long-term diversion that could last 20 years. For those who do not know Greece has been in default in 105 of the last 200 years.

The bottom line is there is a limit to the amount of debt a sovereign country can handle. The Illuminists are setting the world up for a long string of sovereign defaults. Now you can better understand why you need gold and silver related assets.

The latest G-7 meeting in N. Canada was another non-event. They reaffirmed that stimulus has to keep flowing or the seven major world economies won’t be able to make it. Little of what really went on got into the media, which is usually the case. Governments in recent years have become more and more secretive. Most nations generally want lower deficits, but in reality never practice what they preach. That gives us a bottom line as we are left with little more than blatant hypocrisy. It has simply become a pure political game and as a result there is no path back to economic and financial normality. No one wants to purge a system that no longer functions properly. The looting goes on unabated. They are all a disgrace, but we know exactly what they are up too. Thank goodness for newsletters, talk radio and the Internet, otherwise we’d still have darkness being only able to access the controlled media.

Last week the Dow gained 0.9%, S&P 0.9%, the Russell 2000 3% and the Nasdaq 1001.9%. Banks fell 0.2%, broker/dealers rose 1.3%, cyclicals 2.5%, transports 2.5%, consumers 1.6%, as utilities lost 1.3%. High tech rose 1.8%, semis 4%, Internets 1.8%, as biotechs fell 0.2%. Gold bullion rose $27.00, the HUI gained 3.2%, as the USDX dollar index fell 0.3% to 80.22.

Two-year Treasury bills rose 5 bps to 0.74%, 10-year notes rose 13 bps to 3.70 and 10-year German bunds gained 7 bps to 3.19%.

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates declined 4 bps to 4.97%. The 15’s fell 6 bps to 4.34% one-year ARM’s jumped 9 bps to 4.33% and 30-year jumbo’s rose 2 bps to 5.92%.

Fed credit increased $1.8 billion last week. It is up 22% yoy. The Fed foreign holdings of Treasury and Agency debt jumped $9.3 billion to $2.956 trillion. Custody holdings, for foreign central banks yoy are up $395 billion, or 15.4%.

M2 narrow money supply increased $7 billion to $8.471 trillion yoy; it has expanded 1.8%.

Total money market funds assets fell again $6.7 billion to $3.198 trillion. Year-on-year they have fallen $705 billion, or 18.1%.

China’s lending surged to 1.39 trillion yuan ($203 billion) in January and property prices climbed the most in 21 months as banks extended more credit in anticipation the government will tighten monetary policy.  Lending was more than in the previous three months combined. Property prices in 70 cities rose 9.5% from a year earlier… China’s 9.35 trillion yuan of loans in the past year has added to the risk that the world’s fastest-growing major economy may overheat.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s plan to step up purchases of delinquent loans may boost prepayments on their securities. Freddie Mac said yesterday that it would buy ‘substantially all’ loans with payments late by 120 days or more from its securities in the next month. Fannie Mae said later that it will ‘increase significantly’ its buyouts, setting a less aggressive timeline. The value of Freddie Mac’s delinquent loans is $70 billion, while Fannie Mae has $130 billion of the debt. ‘This is going to be a wad of cash coming into the fixed- income markets and it’s not immediately clear where it’s going to be reinvested,’ said Jim Vogel, head of agency-debt research at FTN Financial.

More than a fifth of U.S. homeowners owed more than their properties were worth in the fourth quarter according to Zillow.com.  In the fourth quarter, 21.4% of owners of mortgaged homes were underwater, up from 21% in the previous three months.

Like millions of American households, the Mortgage Bankers Association found itself stuck with real estate whose market value has plunged far below the amount it owed its lenders. On Friday, CoStar Inc., a provider of commercial real estate data, said it had agreed to buy the MBA’s 10-story headquarters building in Washington, D.C., for $41.3 million. That is well below the $79 million the trade group agreed to pay for the glass-walled building in 2007.

Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana announced yesterday that he will not seek a third term in November, a decision that, combined with other Democratic departures, could imperil the party’s prospects of retaining control of the Senate.

Bayh cited the lack of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill as his main reason for leaving, adding to skepticism that the fractiousness in Washington can be repaired and undermining President Obama’s efforts to build bridges. [The rats are leaving the sinking ship. As it says in the Bible the writing is on the wall.]

HERE has been no global warming for 15 years, a key scientist admitted yesterday in a major U-turn.

Professor Phil Jones, who is at the centre of the “Climategate” affair, conceded that there has been no “statistically significant” rise in temperatures since 1995.

The admission comes as new research casts serious doubt on temperature records collected around the world and used to support the global warming theory.

Researchers said yesterday that warming recorded by weather stations was often caused by local factors rather than global change.

The revelations will be seized upon by sceptics as fresh evidence that the science of global warming is flawed and climate change is not man-made.

The Daily Express has led the way in exposing flaws in the arguments supporting global warming.

Last month we revealed how the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change was forced to admit its key claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was “speculation” lifted from a 1999 magazine article. The influential IPCC then admitted it had got the key claim wrong and announced a review.

The Daily Express has also published a dossier listing 100 reasons why global warming was part of a natural cycle and not man-made.

Yesterday it emerged that Professor Jones, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, had admitted he has trouble “keeping track” of the information.

Colleagues have expressed concern that the reason he has refused Freedom of Information requests for the data is that he has lost some of the crucial papers.

Professor Jones also conceded for the first time that the world may have been warmer in medieval times than now. Sceptics have long argued the world was warmer between 800 and 1300AD because of high temperatures in northern countries.

Climate change advocates have always said these temperatures cannot be compared to present day global warming figures because they only apply to one specific zone.

But Professor Jones said: “There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia.

“For it to be global in extent, the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the southern hemisphere. There are very few climatic records for these latter two regions.

“Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today, then obviously the late 20th century warmth would not be unprecedented.” Professor Jones first came under scrutiny when he stepped down as director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in which leaked emails were said to show scientists were manipulating data.

Researchers were accused of deliberately removing a “blip” in findings between 1920 and 1940, which showed an increase in the Earth’s temperature.

John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama and a former lead author on the IPCC, said: “The apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”

Ross McKitrick, of the University of Guelph, Canada, who was invited to review the IPCC’s last report said: “We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialization and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias.”

International demand for long-term U.S. stocks, bonds and financial assets grew at a slower pace in December than a month earlier, as China sold U.S. government securities, a U.S. Treasury Department report showed.

Net buying of long-term equities, notes and bonds totaled $63.3 billion for the month, compared with net purchases of $126.4 billion in November, the Treasury said in Washington. Including short-term securities such as stock swaps, foreigners purchased a net $60.9 billion in December, compared with net buying of $30.7 the previous month.

China has questioned the dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency. In the U.S., spending to avert an economic collapse sent the federal budget deficit above $1 trillion for the first time ever in fiscal 2009, and economists said that may deter investment from abroad.

“The U.S. may not be able to get its government spending under control,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, before today’s report. “But it is still seen as an island of relative safety.”

China was a net seller of U.S. Treasuries for a second straight month, after sales of $34.2 billion, the report showed. Japan replaced China as the top foreign holder of U.S. government debt, after net purchases of $11.5 billion raised its total to $768.8 billion.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News ahead of today’s survey projected long-term U.S. financial assets would show a net increase of $35.4 billion in December. Estimates ranged from $15 billion to $68.2 billion, according to the seven forecasts compiled in the survey.

Manufacturing in the New York region expanded in February at the fastest pace in four months as companies boosted payrolls in anticipation of accelerating orders and sales.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index rose to 24.9 this month, higher than anticipated, from 15.9 in January. Readings above zero in the so-called Empire State Index signal growth in the area covering New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.

Manufacturers are increasing output to replenish depleted inventories as business and consumer spending pick up and exports surge. The factory expansion may persist for months, leading to gains in hiring and incomes that will probably also give the rest of world’s largest economy a lift.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second- biggest U.S. lender, agreed to buy the non-U.S. units of RBS Sempra Commodities LLP for $1.7 billion to expand its energy- and metals-trading units.

JPMorgan will acquire the firm’s European and Asian global metals and oil units, Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said in a statement today. RBS was forced to sell its stake in Sempra by the European Union after receiving a 45.5 billion-pound ($71 billion) taxpayer bailout.

The purchase, led by JPMorgan global commodities chief Blythe Masters, expands the bank’s commodities division just as U.S. President Barack Obama tries to curb banks’ trading of securities for their own account. JPMorgan held talks to buy RBS Sempra’s North American gas and power trading units as well, two people with knowledge of the talks said this month.

“This transaction maximizes the market value of our European and Asian businesses and represents a positive first step of an orderly exit by RBS from the joint venture,” Donald E. Felsinger, chairman and chief executive officer of Sempra Energy, said in a statement today.

Sempra will receive about $940 million from the sale, the San Diego-based company said. RBS will receive about $799 million from the deal and expects to make a “small gain” from the sale, the bank said.

The government already has made so many promises to so many expanding “mandatory” programs. Just keeping these commitments, without major changes in taxing and spending, will lead to deficits that cannot be sustained.

It’s time for some perspective.

Greece is in crisis because its budget deficit was thought to be 12.7% of its GDP.

Spain is perceived to be the next crisis because its budget deficit is 11.7% of its GDP.

A proposed bailout condition is Greece must reduce its deficit to the 3% of GDP level mandated by Maastricht.

The US will run a projected $1.6 trillion deficit.  Its GDP is $14.2 trillion.  This means the US budget deficit is projected, under the rosy economic assumptions of the Obama administration, to be 11.3% of its GDP.  To get a budget deficit of 3% of GDP, the US must cut $900B of spending or increase taxes. 

Dubai’s stock market fell 3.5% after a report said the government’s investment vehicle Dubai World may offer only 60 cents on the dollar to creditors.  The company denied the Dow Jones report but that did not stop Dubai’s index seeing its biggest drop in three weeks. 

Volcker says must let big financial firms fail   Large financial institutions that engage in speculative activities for profit should be allowed to fail if they get in trouble, White House advisor Paul Volcker said on Sunday.

“If a big non-bank institution gets in trouble and threatens the whole system, there ought to be some authority that can step in, take over that organization and liquidate it or merge it — not save it,” Volcker said on CNN. “It’s called euthanasia, not a rescue.”

“I don’t think there’s any question the Federal Reserve and other regulators were not on top of the housing picture,” Volcker said.

The next US bank or financial institution that becomes insolvent is likely to be nationalized or merged into another entity with possible covert guarantees.  That’s what current politics dictate.

We have been screaming for the past several years that food and energy inflation are boosting retail sales.  Also, the government has been reporting higher retail sales than industry sources or sales taxes indicate.

Texas collects $1.66 billion of January Sales, 14% below last year. 

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $355.8 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month and 4.7 percent (±0.5%) above January 2009. Gasoline stations sales were up 29.0 percent (±1.5%) from January 2009 [+0.4% m/m].

Seeking Alpha comments on the ugly 30-year US Treasury auction last week: To see such a MASSIVE drop off in Indirect Buyers (40% down to 28%) is a MAJOR warning sign that Foreign Governments are no longer willing to buy long-term US debt.

This auction was a very small step away from a failed auction. To see Primary Dealers buying so much (remember they HAVE to buy it) and Indirect Buyers so little, only confirms what I’ve been saying for months: that the US is entering a Debt Spiral; a situation in which it must issue more and more debt (while rolling over trillions of old debt) at the very time that fewer and fewer investors are willing to lend to the US for any lengthy period of time (more than ten years).

Gradually we are getting confirmation that Chinese “posturing” about offloading US debt is all too real. The most recent TIC data confirmed the Treasury’s greatest nightmare: China is now dumping US bonds. In December China sold $34.2 billion of debt ($38.8 billion in Bills sold offset by $4.6 billion in Bonds purchased), lowering its total holdings $755.4 billion, the lowest since February 2009, and for the first time in many years relinquishing the top US debt holder spot to Japan, which bought $11.5 billion (mostly in Bonds, selling $1.4 billion Bills) bringing its total to $768.8 billion. Also, very oddly, the surge in UK holding continues, providing yet another clue as to the identity if the “direct bidder” – as we first assumed, these are merely UK centers transacting primarily on behalf of China as well as hedge funds, which are accumulating US debt under the radar. UK holdings increased from $230.7 billion to $302.5 billion in December: a stunning $70 billion increase in a two month span. Yet, with the identity of the UK-based buyers a secret, it really could be anyone… Anyone with very deep pockets.

L.A. budget crisis threatens jobs, credit rating

The $212 million budget shortfall, projected to more than double next year, is attributed mainly to plunging tax revenue blamed on the region’s sagging economy, falling property values and a 15 percent jobless rate — one of the highest of any major U.S. city.

“The last time we saw this kind of drop in revenue was the Great Depression,” Miguel Santana, the city’s chief financial officer, told Reuters. “It speaks to how severe this budget crisis is.”

By Opposing Just A 5% Pay Cut, L.A.’s Union Hardliners Show Why California Is Doomed.

The Hill: The risk from the financial crisis was overblown and many of the TARP bailouts were unnecessary, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in an interview published today. Speaking to Esquire magazine, Pawlenty suggested the bailout was contrived by Goldman Sachs execs for their own self interest. He referred to an unnamed story he read on how the bailout was conceived.

“In this story, Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, was meeting with other Goldman Sachs executives, trying to figure out what to do, and surprise, surprise, they came up with the conclusion that the federal government should bail out Goldman Sachs,” Pawlenty said.

“So I don’t take as an article of faith that the financial world would have come to an end if we had let more of these institutions fail,” he added.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/80951-pawlenty-financial-crisis-risk-was-overblown

Police in the Greek capital say a bomb has exploded at the offices of American financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co., causing no injuries.

The blast occurred early evening Tuesday in an upscale area of central Athens, following a warning telephone call to an Athens newspaper.

The extent of the damage was not immediately clear.

America’s fragile high street banks are bracing themselves for a fresh financial crunch as a wave of commercial property mortgages go sour on offices, shops and factories, causing losses of up to $300bn (£192bn) hitting nearly 3,000 small- and medium-sized financial institutions.

A congressional oversight panel charged with scrutinising the Obama administration’s bailout efforts has warned that $1.4tn of loans covering commercial premises will reach maturity between 2011 and 2014. After a plunge in property prices, nearly half of these loans are underwater, with borrowers owing more than their underlying property is worth.

An analysis by the panel found that 2,988 of America’s 8,100 banks have potentially dangerous exposure to commercial property loans. The impact could damage hopes of a US economic recovery and could cause a further squeeze in the availability of credit to consumers and businesses.

“Are we arguing that this is a serious problem that we need to get in front of? The answer is yes,” said Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the oversight panel. “It’s like throwing a handful of sand into the economic recovery.”

She said that if banks see that their commercial property liabilities are mounting, they will hold back on lending elsewhere: “They’ll tend to husband their money so that it’s not available for small business loans.

A new report says hotels in Hawaii lost $741 million last year, $1.1 billion since the tourism slump began in 2008.

The report by the industry consulting firm Hospitality Advisors LLC says hotel occupancy throughout the state averaged 66.5 percent in 2009. That’s down from 70.5 percent in 2008.

Hospitality Advisors says last year’s rate was the lowest since it began reporting hotel data in 1987.

Company President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Toy says 2009 was a tough year for the visitor industry in Hawaii and across the nation.

He says the speed and depth of the downturn was unprecedented, and the hotel industry has never experienced the level of rate discounting that is continuing.

Hotels have been heavily discounting room rates to generate demand.

The sudden pullout of three corporate giants from a leading alliance of businesses and environmental groups could be the death knell for climate change legislation languishing on Capitol Hill.

ConocoPhillips, BP America and Caterpillar’s announced Tuesday they will pull out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, citing complaints that the bills now in Congress are unfair to American industry.

Net long-term TIC flows were $63.3 billion. The November total net figure was revised to $30.7 billion: net long-term TIC figures was revised to $126.4 billion from $126.8 billion

The February NAHB housing market index rose to 17, up from January’s 15. Another negative for builders is that lumber prices have increased 32% this year.

Dick Cheney is a sadist.

On Sunday, in an exclusive interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News’ “This Week,” Cheney proclaimed his love of torture, derided the Obama administration for outlawing the practice, and admitted that the Bush White House ordered Justice Department attorneys to fix the law around the administration’s policy interests.

“I was a big supporter of waterboarding,” Cheney told Karl, as if he were issuing a challenge to officials in the current administration, including President Barack Obama, who said flatly last year that waterboarding is torture, to take action against him. “I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques…”

The former vice president’s declaration closely follows admissions he made in December 2008, about a month before the Bush administration exited the White House, when he said he personally authorized the torture of 33 suspected terrorist detainees and approved the waterboarding of three so-called “high-value” prisoners.

“I signed off on it; others did, as well, too,” Cheney said in an interview with the right-wing Washington Times about the waterboarding, a drowning technique where a person is strapped to a board, his face covered with a cloth and then water is poured over it. It is a torture technique dating back at least to the Spanish Inquisition.

The US has long treated waterboarding as a war crime and has prosecuted Japanese soldiers for using it against US troops during World War II. And Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department prosecuted a Texas sheriff and three deputies for using the practice to get confessions.

But Cheney’s admissions back then, as well as those he made on Sunday, went unchallenged by Karl and others in the mainstream media. Indeed, the two major national newspapers–The New York Times and The Washington Post–characterized Cheney’s interview as a mere spat between the vice president and the Obama administration over the direction of the latter’s counterterrorism and national security policies.

The Times and Post did not report that Cheney’s comments about waterboarding and his enthusiastic support of torturing detainees amounted to an admission of war crimes given that the president has publicly stated that waterboarding is torture.

Ironically, in March 2003, after Iraqi troops captured several US soldiers and let them be interviewed on Iraqi TV, senior Bush administration officials expressed outrage over this violation of the Geneva Convention.

“If there is somebody captured,” President George W. Bush told reporters on March 23, 2003, “I expect those people to be treated humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”

Nor did the Times or Post report that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” Cheney backed was, in numerous cases, administered to prisoners detained at Guantanamo and in detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were innocent and simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The torture methods that Cheney helped implement as official policy was also directly responsible for the deaths of at least 100 detainees.

Renowned human rights attorney and Harper’s magazine contributor Scott Horton said, “Section 2340A of the federal criminal code makes it an offense to torture or to conspire to torture. Violators are subject to jail terms or to death in appropriate cases, as where death results from the application of torture techniques.”

In addition to Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder said during his confirmation hearing last year that waterboarding is torture.

“Dick Cheney wants to be prosecuted. And prosecutors should give him what he wants,” Horton wrote in a Harper’s dispatch Monday. 

Karl also made no mention of the fact that the CIA’s own watchdog concluded in a report declassified last year that the torture of detainees Cheney signed off on did not result in any actionable intelligence nor did it thwart any imminent attacks on the United States. To the contrary, torture led to bogus information, wrongful elevated threat warnings, andundermined the war-crimes charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani, the alleged “20th hijacker” in the 9/11 attacks because the evidence against him was obtained through torture.

Karl also failed to call out Cheney on a statement the former vice president made during his interview in which he suggested the policy of torture was carried out only after the Bush administration told Justice Department attorneys it wanted the legal justification to subject suspected al-Qaeda prisoners to brutal interrogation methods.

Cheney told Karl that he continues to be critical of the Obama administration “because there were some things being said, especially after we left office, about prosecuting CIA personnel that had carried out our counterterrorism policy or disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had — had helped us put those policies together, and I was deeply offended by that, and I thought it was important that some senior person in the administration stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do.”

In an interview with Karl on December 15, 2008, Cheney made a similar comment, which Karl also allowed to go unchallenged, stating that the Bush administration “had the Justice Department issue the requisite opinions in order to know where the bright lines were that you could not cross.”

Bush’s Key Line of Defense Destroyed

Those statements, both on Sunday and in his December 2008 interview with Karl, destroys a key line in the Bush administration’s defense against war crimes charges. For years, Cheney and other Bush administration officials pinned their defense on the fact that they had received legal advice from Justice Department lawyers that the brutal interrogations of “war on terror” detainees did not constitute torture or violate other laws of war.

Cheney’s statements, however, would suggest that the lawyers were colluding with administration officials in setting policy, rather than providing objective legal analysis.

In fact, as I reported last year, an investigation by the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) determined that DOJ attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee blurred the lines between attorneys charged with providing independent legal advice to the White House and policy advocates who were working to advance the administration’s goals, according to legal sources who were privy to an original draft of the OPR report.

That was a conclusion Dawn Johnsen reached. Johnsen was tapped a year ago by Obama to head the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), where Yoo and Bybee worked, but her confirmation has been stuck in limbo.

In a 2006 Indiana Law Journal article, she said the function of OLC should be to “provide an accurate and honest appraisal of applicable law, even if that advice will constrain the administration’s pursuit of desired policies.”

“The advocacy model of lawyering, in which lawyers craft merely plausible legal arguments to support their clients’ desired actions, inadequately promotes the President’s constitutional obligation to ensure the legality of executive action,” said Johnsen, who served in the OLC under President Bill Clinton. “In short, OLC must be prepared to say no to the President.

“For OLC instead to distort its legal analysis to support preferred policy outcomes undermines the rule of law and our democratic system of government. Perhaps most essential to avoiding a culture in which OLC becomes merely an advocate of the Administration’s policy preferences is transparency in the specific legal interpretations that inform executive action, as well as in the general governing processes and standards followed in formulating that legal advice.”

In a 2007 UCLA Law Review article, Johnsen said Yoo’s Aug. 1, 2002, torture memo is “unmistakably” an “advocacy piece.”

“OLC abandoned fundamental practices of principled and balanced legal interpretation,” Johnsen wrote. “The Torture Opinion relentlessly seeks to circumvent all legal limits on the CIA’s ability to engage in torture, and it simply ignores arguments to the contrary.

“The Opinion fails, for example, to cite highly relevant precedent, regulations, and even constitutional provisions, and it misuses sources upon which it does rely. Yoo remains almost alone in continuing to assert that the Torture Opinion was ‘entirely accurate’ and not outcome driven.”

The original draft of the OPR report concluded that Yoo and Bybee violated professional standards and recommended a referral to state bar associations where they could have faced disciplinary action and have had their law licenses revoked.

The report’s findings could have influenced whether George W. Bush, Cheney and other senior officials in that administration were held accountable for torture and other war crimes. But two weeks ago, it was revealed that officials in Obama’s Justice Department backed off the earlier recommendation and instead altered the misconduct findings against Yoo and Bybee to “poor judgment,” which means neither will face disciplinary action. The report has not yet been released.

For his part, Yoo had already admitted in no uncertain terms that Bush administration officials sought to legalize torture and that he and Bybee fixed the law around the Bush administration’s policy.

As I noted in a report last year, in his book, “War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account on the War On Terror,” Yoo described his participation in meetings that helped develop the controversial policies for the treatment of detainees.

For instance, Yoo wrote about a trip he took to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with other senior administration officials to observe interrogations and to join in discussions about specific interrogation methods. In other words, Yoo was not acting as an independent attorney providing the White House with unbiased legal advice but was more of an advocate for administration policy.

The meetings that Yoo described appear similar to those disclosed by ABC News in April 2008.

“The most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al-Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA,” ABC News reported at the time, citing unnamed sources.

“The high-level discussions about these ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed – down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

“These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al-Qaeda suspects – whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding,” according to unnamed sources quoted by ABC News.

Torture Preceded Legal Advice

If ABC’s Karl had a firmer grasp on the issues he queried Cheney about he would have known that as recently as last week, three UK high-court judges released seven paragraphs of a previously classified intelligence document that proved the CIA tortured Binyam Mohamed, a British resident captured in Pakistan in April 2002 who was falsely tied to a dirty bomb plot, months before the Bush administration obtained a memo from John Yoo and Jay Bybee at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) authorizing specific methods of torture to be used against high-value detainees, further undercutting Cheney’s line of defense.

The document stated bluntly that Mohamed’s treatment “could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.”

Obama Turns A Blind Eye to Crimes

Under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the treatment of Mohamed and the clear record that the Bush administration used waterboarding and other brutal techniques to extract information from detainees should have triggered the United States to conduct a full investigation and to prosecute the offenders. In the case of the US’s refusal to do so, other nations would be obligated to act under the principle of universality.

However, instead of living up to that treaty commitment, the Obama administration has time and again resisted calls for government investigations and has gone to court to block lawsuits that demand release of torture evidence or seek civil penalties against officials implicated in the torture.

Though it’s true, as Vice President Joe Biden stated Sunday on “Meet the Press,” that Cheney is rewriting history and making “factually, substantively wrong” statements about the Obama administration’s track record and approach to counterterrorism, it’s difficult, if not near impossible, to defend this president from the likes of Cheney because he has steadfastly refused to hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for the crime of torture.

Case in point: last week the Obama administration treated the disclosure by British judicial officials of Mohamed’s torture as a security breach and threatened to cut off an intelligence sharing arrangement with the UK government.

In what can only be described as a stunning response to the revelations contained in the intelligence document, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said “the [UK} court's judgment will complicate the confidentiality of our intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK, and it will have to factor into our decision-making going forward."

"We're deeply disappointed with the court's judgment today, because we shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations," LaBolt said, making no mention of Mohamed's treatment nor even offering him an apology for the torture he was subjected to by the CIA over the course of several years. Mohamed was released from Guantanamo last year and returned to the UK.

As an aside, as revelatory as the disclosures were, news reports of Mohamed's torture were buried by the mainstream print media and went unreported by the cable news outlets, underscoring how the media's interest in Bush's torture policies has waned.

The Obama administration's decision to ignore the past administration's crimes has alienated civil liberties groups, who he could once count on for support.

Last December, on the day Obama received a Nobel Peace prize, Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told reporters "on every front, the [Obama] administration is actively obstructing accountability. This administration is shielding Bush administration officials from civil liability, criminal investigation and even public scrutiny for their role in authorizing torture.”

Cheney’s Attacks Unfounded

That being the reality is what makes Cheney’s claim on Sunday that the Obama administration is attempting to prosecute “CIA personnel that had carried out our counterterrorism policy or disbarring lawyers” laughable.

Last year, Holder expanded the mandate of John Durham, a federal prosecutor from Connecticut appointed by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the destruction of CIA torture tapes, to include a “preliminary review” of less than a dozen torture cases previously closed by Justice Department attorneys for unknown reasons.  That hardly amounts to a prosecution. It’s not even an investigation.

And “disbarring lawyers, a clear reference to Yoo and Bybee, which is beyond the scope of the Justice Department watchdog’s authority to begin with, is no longer a possibility given that the OPR report reportedly does not recommend disciplinary action.

In a statement, the ACLU said, “to date, not a single torture victim has had his day in court.”

As Jane Mayer reported in a recent issue of the New Yorker, Holder’s limited scope authorization to Durham did not go over well with the White House and Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made sure Holder knew where the administration stood.

“Emanuel worried that such investigations would alienate the intelligence community…” Mayer wrote. “Emanuel couldn’t complain directly to Holder without violating strictures against political interference in prosecutorial decisions. But he conveyed his unhappiness to Holder indirectly, two sources said. Emanuel demanded, ‘Didn’t he get the memo that we’re not re-litigating the past?’

Mossad’s Licence to Kill

February 19th, 2010 by Gordon Thomas

The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh bears the hallmarks of the ruthless Israeli intelligence service. One of the leading chroniclers of the agency gives a unique insight into its methods.

The Mossad assassins could have felt only satisfaction when the news broke that they had succeeded in killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a top Hamas military commander, in Dubai last month.

The Israeli government’s refusal to comment on the death has once more gained worldwide publicity for Mossad, its feared intelligence service. Its ruthless assassinations were made famous by the film Munich, which detailed Mossad’s attacks on the terrorists who killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Long ago, the agency had established that silence is the most effective way to spread terror among its Arab enemies.

In the past year, al-Mabhouh had moved to the top of Mossad’s list of targets, each of which must be legally approved under guidelines laid down over half a century ago by Meir Amit, the most innovative and ruthless director-general of the service. Born in Tiberius, King Herod’s favourite city, Amit had established the rules for assassination.

“There will be no killing of political leaders, however extreme they are. They must be dealt with politically. There will be no killing of a terrorist’s family unless they are also directly implicated in terrorism. Each execution must be sanctioned by the incumbent prime minister. Any execution is therefore state-sponsored, the ultimate judicial sanction of the law. The executioner is no different from the state-appointed hangman or any other lawfully-appointed executioner.”

I first met Amit in 2001 and through him, I talked to the spies of Mossad, the katsas, and finally, to the assassins, the kidon, who take their name from the Hebrew word for bayonet. They helped me write the only book approved by Mossad, Gideon’s Spies. Amit said the book “tells like it was – and like it is”.

Amit showed me a copy of those rules at our first meeting. After two years of training in the Mossad academy at Herzlia near Tel Aviv, each recruit to the kidon is given a copy.

The killing in Dubai is a classic example of how Mossad goes about its work. Al-Mabhouh’s 11 assassins had been chosen from the 48 current kidon, six of whom are women.

It has yet to be established how al-Mabhouh was killed, but kidon‘s preference is strangling with wire, a well-placed car bomb, an electric shock or one of the poisons created by Mossad scientists at their headquarters in a Tel Aviv suburb.

The plan to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had been finalised in a small conference room next to the office of Meir Dagan, who has run Mossad for the past eight years. The 10th director-general, Dagan has a reputation as a man who would not hesitate to walk into a nameless Arab alley with no more than a handgun in his pocket.

Only he knows how many times he has asked a prime minister for legal permission to kill a terrorist who could not be brought to trial in an Israeli court, along with the kidon to whom he shows the legally stamped document, the licence to kill.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s name had been on such a document, which would have been signed by Benyamin Netanyahu. That, like every aspect of a kidon operation, would be firmly denied by a government spokesman, were he to be asked. This has not stopped Dubai’s police chief, Lt-General Tamin, from fulminating against the Israeli prime minister.

Two years ago this week, Dagan sent a team of kidon to Damascus to assassinate Imad Mughniyeh. His Mossad file included details of organising the kidnapping of Terry Waite and the bombing of the US Marine base near Beirut airport, killing 241 people. The United States had placed a £12.5 million bounty on his head. Dagan just wanted him dead.

Mossad psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioural scientists, psychoanalysts and profilers – collectively known as the “specialists” – were told to decide the best way to kill Mughniyeh.

They concluded that he would be among the guests of honour at the Iranian Cultural Centre celebrations in 2008 for the celebration of the Khomeini Revolution. The team rigged a car-bomb in the headrest of the Mitsubishi Pajero they discovered Mughniyeh had rented, to be detonated by a mobile phone. As Mughniyeh arrived outside the Culture Centre at precisely 7pm on February 12, the blast blew his head off.

At Mughniyeh’s funeral in Beirut, his mother, Um-Imad, sat among a sea of black chadors, a sombre old woman, who wailed that her son had planned to visit her on the day after he died. She cried out she had no photograph to remember him by. Two days later she received a packet. Inside was his photograph. It had been posted in Haifa.

The list of kidon assassinations is long and stretches far beyond the Arab world. In their base deep in the Negev Desert – the sand broken only by a distant view of Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona – the kidon practise with a variety of handguns, learn how to conceal bombs, administer a lethal injection in a crowd and make a killing look accidental.

They review famous assassinations – the shooting of John F Kennedy, for example – and study the faces and habits of potential targets whose details are stored on their highly restricted computers. There, too, are thousands of constantly updated street plans downloaded from Google Earth.

Mossad is one of the world’s smallest intelligence services. But it has a back-up system no other outfit can match. The system is known as sayanim, a derivative of the Hebrew word lesayeah, meaning to help.

There are tens of thousands of these “helpers”. Each has been carefully recruited, sometimes by katsas, Mossad’s field agents. Others have been asked to become helpers by other members of the secret group.

Created by Meir Amit, the role of the sayanim is a striking example of the cohesiveness of the world Jewish community. In practical terms, a sayan who runs a car rental agency will provide a kidon with a vehicle on a no-questions basis. An estate agent sayan will provide a building for surveillance. A bank manager sayan will provide funds at any time of day or night, and a sayan doctor provides medical assistance.

Any of these helpers could have been involved in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Mossad has recently expanded its network of sayanim into Arab countries.

A sayan doctor in the West Bank provided details of the homoeopathic concoction Yasser Arafat used to drink. When he died in 2004, his personal physician, Dr al-Kurdi, said “poisoning is a strong possibility in this case”.There have been reports that more than a dozen terrorists have died from poisoning in the past five years,.

Within the global intelligence community, respect for Mossad grew following the kidon assassination of Dr Gerald Bull, the Canadian scientist who was probably the world’s greatest expert on gun-barrel ballistics. Israel had made several attempts to buy his expertise. Each time, Bull had made clear his dislike for the Jewish state.

Instead he had offered his services to Saddam Hussein, to build a super-gun capable of launching shells containing nuclear, chemical or biological warheads directly from Iraq into Israel. Saddam had ordered three of the weapons at a cost of $20 million. Bull was retained as a consultant for a fee of $1 million.

On the afternoon of March 20, 1990, the sanction to kill Bull was given by the then prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Nahum Admoni, the head of Mossad, sent a three-man team to Brussels, where Bull lived in a luxury apartment block. Each kidon carried a handgun in a holster under his jacket.

When the 61-year-old Bull answered the doorbell of his home, he was shot five times in the head and the neck, each kidon firing their 7.65 pistol in turn, leaving Bull dead on his doorstep. An hour later they were out of the country on a flight to Tel Aviv.

Within hours, Mossad’s own department of psychological warfare had arranged with sayanim in the European media to leak stories that Bull had been shot by Saddam’s hit squad because he had planned to renege on their deal.

The same tactics had been placed on stand-by on October 24, 1995, for the assassination of Fathi Shkaki who, like Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, had reached the top of Mossad’s target list as a result of his terrorist attacks.

Two kidon – code-named Gil and Ran – had left Tel Aviv on separate flights. Ran flew to Athens, Gil to Rome. At each airport they collected new British passports from a local sayan. The two men arrived in Malta on a late-afternoon flight and checked into the Diplomat Hotel overlooking Valetta harbour.

That evening, a sayan delivered a motorcycle to Ran. He told hotel staff that he planned to use it to tour the island. At the same time, a freighter that had sailed the previous day from Haifa bound for Italy radioed to the Maltese harbour authorities that it had developed engine trouble. While it was fixed, it would drop anchor off the island. On board the boat was a small team of Mossad communications technicians. They established a link with a radio in Gil’s suitcase.

Shkaki had arrived by ferry from Tripoli, Libya, where he had been discussing with Colonel Gadaffi what Mossad was convinced was a terrorist attack. The two kidon waited for him to stroll along the waterfront. Ran and Gil drove up on the motorcycle and Gil shot Fathi Shkaki six times in the head. It had become a kidon signature.

When the police came to search Shkaki’s bedroom they found a “Do not disturb” sign on his door – a signature that was repeated in last month’s Dubai killing.

Gordon Thomas is the author of ‘Gideon’s Spies’.

Grounds for Hope and Despair

February 19th, 2010 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

My February 16 column, A Country of Serfs Ruled By Oligarchs, received confirmation from high places on the very day it appeared. Popular Indiana Democratic U.S. Senator Evan Bayh announced that he was quitting the Senate. Yahoo News gave this account:

“In an interview on MSNBC this morning, newly retiring Sen. Evan Bayh declared the American political system ‘dysfunctional,’ riddled with ‘brain-dead partisanship’ and permanent campaigning. Flatly denying any possibility that he’d seek the presidency or any other higher office, Bayh argued that the American people needed to deliver a ‘shock’ to Congress by voting incumbents out in mass and replacing them with people interested in reforming the process and governing for the good of the people, rather than deep-pocketed special-interest groups.”

In short, Senator Bayh got tired of being a whore for the corporate lobbyists who rule the U.S.

As Shamus Cooke noted   the same day,  in the last election voters gave the Democrats a super majority in the mistaken belief that Democrats would remove U.S. policy from the corporate/neocon grip only to find that the result was a surge in America’s wars of aggression.

There are grounds for hope in the fact that some of the Tea Party people understand that Americans have been betrayed and abandoned by both parties.

An unusual candidate has emerged for governor of Texas. Debra Medina is doing well with popular support without machine politics. She has an intriguing idea to abolish the property tax in Texas.

Medina makes the valid point that the property tax is a permanent government lien on a person’s home. A person never owns his home even after the mortgage is paid off, because he has to continue paying government for the right to live in his home.

Many elderly people have found that a lifetime of inflation and rising real estate assessments have pushed up the tax on their homes so much that it accounts for a large percentage of their retirement incomes. In Alexandria, Virginia, for example, the local government has a program by which the elderly can avoid property tax in exchange for letting the government inherit the property. It is the heirs who are dispossessed.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation studied Medina’s proposal and concluded that a rise in the Texas sales tax from 8.25 percent to 8.8 percent would allow the property tax to be abolished as long as some untaxed services, such as mining services, drilling services, legal services, and limousine services were brought into the tax base.

If Medina is a real representative of the people, she comprises a threat to the oligarchy. The oligarchy will go after her with every known dirty trick. Will Texans stand by her?

Grounds for hope are not easily come by, but plentiful are the grounds for despair.  My recent article, It Is Now Official: The U.S. Is A Police State, also received confirmation on February 16 with the appearance of Pulitzer prize-winning American journalist Chris Hedges interview with Russia Today on Information Clearing House. [Video]

Asked about the Fahad Hashmi case, Hedges pointed out that Hashmi is a U.S. citizen whose every constitutional right has been violated just as if he were an ”enemy combatant,” a designation used to justify holding non-Americans in indefinite detention. Moreover, Hedges reported that Hashmi is not being prosecuted for committing or planning an act of terror. He is being prosecuted ”for what he believes,” or to be more precise Hashmi is being prosecuted for expressing dissent. The government’s evidence against him is tape recordings of speeches he made at Brooklyn College as a student activist denouncing U.S. policies.

These tapes will be played to a patriotic jury likely to convict him for being a Muslim and an anti-American.

As Hedges emphasizes, Hashmi’s conviction would make expression of dissent an indictable offense. If expressing dissent is a crime, then thinking it will also be a crime. The government will produce manuals for its police on how to read body language and facial expressions as indicators of thought crimes.

The rapidity with which the U.S. is being transformed into a police state is astonishing. It has occurred under the guise of ”the war on terror,” itself a product of 9/11. Americans were told that the police state regime was only for terrorists, but like RICO’s asset freezes, which were only for the Mafia, and the war on drugs’ asset forfeitures, which were only for drug lords, the suspension of constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties now extends to all.

Americans regard such warnings as hyperbole. They think they are safe as long as they are not doing anything wrong. In other words, they think that anyone the government picks up must be guilty.

This view shows a remarkable ignorance of the 20th century. Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet Gulag were full of people who had done nothing wrong. Many were people demonized for being of the wrong race and class. Others were people reported by envious neighbors or by someone settling a score. The system didn’t care, because it existed independently of any concerns about justice or security.

In the 1990s I saw a Russian movie about the Stalin era. The main character was a Soviet war hero, personally praised by Stalin. In his home area he had enormous authority and could order off Soviet military maneuvers that impinged on the collective farm’s crops. One day a KGB agent shows up who wants the war hero’s beautiful wife. The war hero is amused that a mere KGB agent thinks he has power over him. ”Wait until Stalin hears about this,” he says as he comes out in his military uniform with his medals and confidently drives away with the agent to be beaten and disappeared into the gulag. Even if Stalin would have cared, he would never have known.

Police states remove accountability from those in authority. One result is to remove constraints on behavior. Even when there are constraints, some spouses abuse one another and some parents abuse children. Some people abuse animals. Even many Americans have abusive tendencies as Abu Ghraib makes completely clear.

It starts with little things and works its way up. Tens of thousands of people have experienced unsatisfactory encounters with the Transportation Safety Administration, otherwise known as the airport police. In a recent case a police officer and his wife were taking their 4-year-old son to Disney World for his birthday. The child has to wear leg braces due to problems associated with his premature birth. The TSA screener ordered the braces removed before the boy could walk through the detector. But, of course, the boy could not walk without the braces. The police officer and his wife were stunned to find that TSA cannot tell the difference between an American police officer and his disabled child and a terrorist threat.

A police state has no need to differentiate. Those Americans who don’t care what happens to Fahad Hashmi, Aafia Siddiqui, Omar Khadr, and countless others are opening themselves to similar treatment and the rest of us along with them.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington;  Alienation and the Soviet Economyand Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Clickhere for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct. His latest book, How The Economy Was Lost , has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press.

IAEA Letter Fuels CNN Alarmism Over Iran

February 19th, 2010 by Jason Ditz

Fueled by an unfortunately worded letter by the IAEA about a “technical violation” allegedly made by Iran last week in its civilian nuclear program, CNN’s Rick Sanchez is now speculating about the possibility of Iran “building some kind of nuclear weapon,” even though one of his guests from MIT made it clear this threat was totally illusory.

The IAEA statement, related to Iran’s refusal to indefinitely delay alterations to its civilian enrichment program, included claims that Iran’s attitude “raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

The letter seems to have been an effort to chastise Iran for a technical violation, but did not make any specific allegations that Iran was actually making such missiles, or even had the capability to do so. IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano, responsible for today’s letter, has previously confirmed that the IAEA has absolutely no evidence that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

But “technical violations” aren’t a sensational story, and the IAEA letter’s wording gave enough wiggle room for the television media to leap on the story and spin it into an alarmist “breaking story” about a non-existent nuclear payload being mounted into a non-existent warhead. Even after a guest made it clear that Iran did not have any weapons-grade uranium, Sanchez speculated about what we, “as Americans” should expect the government to “do” about it.

Not that the CNN was alone in its alarmism, as George Jahn at the Associated Press was at it again, who ran an article called “UN nuke agency worried Iran may be working on arms,” even though the content of his own article made it clear this was at best a speculative claim.

In reality, the vast majority of Iran’s uranium is enriched to only 3.5 percent, with a much smaller amount, described as “modest” by the IAEA, enriched to 20 percent for a medical reactor. A nuclear weapon would require uranium enriched above 90 percent, and as the IAEA continues to closely monitor the enrichment process, it is clear that the nation is simply not making weapons grade uranium, nor could it without immediately alerting the international community. The technical violation, one must remember was related to the changeover of some centrifuges from 3.5 percent to 20 percent, totally unrelated to anything theoretically weapons-related.

Not that any of this was made clear in CNN’s coverage of the story. Rather Mr. Sanchez lept dexterously between speculating about Iran’s missiles and discussing the “anti-government terrorist” attack in Austin, Texas, complete with footage of a burning IRS building. Pictures of burning US government buildings and speculation about a rival’s non-existent nuclear weapons combined nicely to fuel panic, but they did nothing to clarify the actual meaning behind the IAEA’s Iran statement.

Argentina Accuses Britain of “Aggression and Subduing”

February 19th, 2010 by Global Research

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina accused on Thursday Britain of doing “an unilateral act of aggression and subduing” by deciding the hydrocarbon exploration in the north of the disputed Malvinas (Forkland) Islands.

Argentina Foreign Vice Minister Victorio Tacceti made accusation in a report given to the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the Deputy Chamber about the Presidential decree issued on Tuesday concerning maritime transit to the Malvinas (Forkland) Islands.

On Tuesday, Argentine president Cristina Fernandez signed a decree limiting maritime transit between the continental territory and the island in the Argentine sea.

This decree was issued after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said his government had done all the necessary procedures to assure the people of the Falkland (Mavlinas) were protected of possible Argentine hostile actions.

According to Tacceti, the decree was signed in reply to “an unilateral act of aggression and subduing” by Britain.

Tacceti urged Britain to “sit down to negotiate at the international organization” about the territorial sovereignty of the archipelago.

“There is a big consensus at the international community” for both countries “to sit down and negotiate,” Tacceti said.

Argentina and Britain fought a war in 1982 for sovereignty over the Malvinas (Forkland) Islands that both countries claim. In the 1982 war, 649 Argentine soldiers and 254 British soldiers died.

Editor: Lin Zhi

“Look around,” the drill sergeant said. “In a few years, or even a few months, several of you will be dead. Some of you will be severely wounded or so badly mutilated that your own mother can’t stand the sight of you. And for the real unlucky ones, you will come home so emotionally disfigured that you wish you had died over there.”

“It was Week 7 of basic training … eighteen years old and I was preparing myself to die,” said Michael Anthony in “Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception and Dishonor in Iraq.” The book is more than a simple memoir about a difficult experience. It is an insider’s scathing testimony of an ongoing illegal and unethical military action in a distant, once-sovereign state, by the US. Perhaps, this fresh account will raise some outcry over an issue that has all but dropped out of the American public’s radar.

Following the family legacy of military service, Anthony enlisted in the military at 17. The image he had nurtured of the idealism of military life, however, ran aground upon his arrival in Iraq, where he served as a medic in an operating room (OR) at a US military base.

“Mass Casualties” is a collection of Anthony’s personal journal entries from his time in Iraq. It includes his introspections on and insights into the inherently irrational and meaningless nature of military life. The rawness of the narrative reveals how the occupation broke down the young soldier’s spirit and almost desensitized him into believing “my job isn’t to feel.”

The late historian and Author Howard Zinn held the book in high regard. “Michael Anthony’s memoir is not about the politics of Iraq. Instead it takes us deep inside the war, inside and outside the operation room, the barracks, the talk of the soldiers, the feeling of the situation … unique and powerful,” Zinn wrote.    

The young author makes no attempt to shield the reader from the reality of war. In one instance, he gives a graphic description of working on an Iraqi patient who had received shrapnel from proximity to a suicide bomber. The shrapnel embedded in the patient’s body happened to be bone fragments of the suicide bomber.

“I’ve got a belly full of bacon and eggs and I’m about to have my arms elbow deep in someone’s stomach,” he wrote of his first days there, “In the OR we only do three surgeries at a time because that’s the number of beds we have. Even worse is that in one of our rooms we have two OR beds placed only a few feet apart. This means we’ll often have two surgeries going on at the same time in the same room. Not the most sterile setup in the world, but we’re short on staff and short on space, just not short on patients.”

Here is an account that chronicles the impact of war on the individual psyche as well as the collective consciousness of those that participate in it. We are shown the swift process of dehumanization that all soldiers undergo on the ground, to the extent that the lines distinguishing “friend” from enemy get blurred.

After hearing about a woman in his unit being “gang-banged” by three Marines at his base the soldier writes: “I wish I could just forget everything and go back to thinking that everyone in the military is an American hero. I wish I still had someone to look up to, although I know it’s impossible. None of it seems to make sense, and I can’t understand how people can do what they do.”

The author’s morale, like that of his peers, plummets within weeks of his arrival in Iraq. Nothing had prepared him for the melting of backgrounds and personalities that the Army is. His associates in the battle field are not easy people: “What an outfit: people in their thirties, married with children, all of them having affairs. One was a heroine addict; the other has slept with eleven men in the past three months. One guy tired to kill himself and another kidnapped a drug dealer. Alcoholics, chain smokers, compulsive gamblers – who am I to judge?”

The reader is exposed to the factors leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious condition that has been affecting veterans and active duty soldiers alike, in epidemic proportions since the beginning of the occupation.

Anthony writes of a suicide prevention class he and his fellow-soldiers are required to attend:

… they also tell us that people who are suicidal usually become depressed from big changes happening in their lives. They say that depressed people become withdrawn and will not enjoy everyday activities. They’ll sleep a lot. I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard this … because I looked around the room and everyone fit the criteria. We’ve all had a huge change in our lives coming to Iraq. Everyone here is withdrawn and sleeps as much as possible, and our everyday activities consist of running for our lives and working on near-death patients. Who wouldn’t be depressed and want to spend time alone? We work long hours at unpredictable times, and we see the same people twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. What I never understood from these classes is how are we supposed to spot the real suicidal people when everyone has suicidal symptoms?

There is a suicide attempt in his unit, but the higher-ups opt not to write it up because nobody wants the hassle of doing the paperwork.

Matters inevitably worsen under abusive commanders. While he is resigned to the binding contract that “… says that all my decisions are to be made by somebody else who is my superior,” he does not feel particularly comfortable about it. “I’ve seen him yell at a female soldier while she sobbed uncontrollably. This is the guy who’s supposed to be, I mean is, our leader in Iraq.”

When Anthony’s unit is moved from Mosul to Al-Anbar province in central Iraq to set up a new hospital, the unit commander leads the men to believe that he would be working at another hospital for a month, but actually he was back in the US taking a class at a war college because he needed the course in order to be promoted. The medic finds it unconscionable: “I start to feel nauseous – we are in the middle of fighting a war and our leader has given himself a month-long VACATION.”

As the book progresses, the shift in Anthony’s stance from his original reverence of the military to a defined mistrust of it, becomes evident. So much so that he said, “All it took for me to respect someone in the military was for that person to refuse a direct order.”

The irony is not lost on the reader who sees the young soldier getting apprehensive about returning to civilian life and autonomous decision making, as his year of service draws to a close.

Grappling with his own guilt, he has difficulty reconciling himself to the sentiments behind the care packages that come from home. “These people are sending us everything they have, and most of us don’t deserve it. They aren’t sending provisions to the heroes they think we are. It is going to us doing shit jobs and others who are criminals; people doing drugs, committing crimes, molesters, adulterers, people doing anything they can to only help themselves. The worst part about these old people sending me this package is they think they’re helping.”

Mindful of his own boyhood spent idolizing the Army and playing with GI Joes in the backyard, Anthony is filled with remorse: “Soon the letters from the third and fourth graders will start to come. Those are the most depressing of them all. Kids writing letters supporting something they know nothing about, only that they’re told to support their country and the war.”

If for nothing else, “Mass Casualties” gains immense importance in its honest portrayal of a young soldier’s vulnerability as he struggles hard to cope with his shattered illusion about the Army. It is not difficult to share his angst as he reflects, “I think about why I’m fighting this war and my eyes tear up. I think of all the people we’ve killed. I think of all the people’s families – mothers, fathers, siblings – and how they’ll never see them again … I think about the war and I feel nothing. I think about life and death, mine and everyone else’s, and I feel nothing. I think about myself and I don’t care if I live or die. On these nights, mortars go off and I won’t get out of bed. I’ll lie in bed as the bombs go off. I tell myself it doesn’t matter if I live or die, nothing matters – I like it when I feel nothing.”

To “take the edge off” being in Iraq, he tries everything from heavy smoking to excessive pain medication and reported, “Here’s what my days are like, I wake up in the morning and smoke to get rid of my headache, then I walk to work, in a hundred and twenty degrees of heat, and then spend all day covered in blood. Then I go home, take some pills, and fall asleep.”

In a frank admission of his fears and lamenting the breaking of his spirit he said, “We’re warriors on the battlefield but cowards in our own minds and hearts.”

Anthony was back from Iraq and driving home from a lecture he had delivered on PTSD and suicidal veterans when he learned of the Fort Hood shootings [allegedly] by Nidal Hassan that left dozens dead and wounded.

He told Truthout that the incident came as no surprise to him and, “Stories like that reminded me that there’s absolutely nothing a soldier can do to not get deployed overseas. The Army has a policy that if a soldier says they’re suicidal or homicidal, they still get sent overseas. Why? Because if every soldier who said they’re suicidal or homicidal didn’t get sent overseas then anyone who doesn’t want to go would just say they’re suicidal or homicidal. So the Army in turn just sends everyone, no matter what.

“I had a friend who didn’t want to go to Iraq so he purposely failed five drug tests in a row (smoking pot and doing coke) he still got sent to Iraq. There was one guy in my unit who didn’t want to go to Iraq, he told our commanders he was suicidal, they said he still had to go. The soldier then went and got a swastika tattooed on his shoulder, he told the commanders that he was racist and hated everyone except white people; commanders said he still had to go to Iraq. The next day he takes a bottle of pills and tries to kill himself – and I’m sure if he were physically capable of it, he still would have had to go to Iraq. There was a guy in my unit who was on anti-depressant medication; our commanders said they couldn’t deploy him on that medication that he should stop taking it. The next day he tries to stab someone and is put in jail, he still went to Iraq with us. There are more and more of the same stories … There’s literally nothing you can do to not go to Iraq and I think that’s why suicidal and homicidal patients aren’t getting the care they need because before it’s time to go overseas, you’re going no matter what, and after you get back, the government doesn’t care.”

Rather than feeling happy or proud of his time deployed in Iraq, Anthony captures a feeling that must be all too common for returning troops who simply want out.

Recounting to Truthout one particular occasion when he realized that things had gone very wrong with him, Anthony said, “Everyone comes home changed. For me I noticed it my first week back. I went to visit my brother in San Diego and it was the end of October and for Halloween my brother and I went to this bar … My only concern was chain-smoking and chain-drinking … We go to this bar and I’ve just gotten back and I’m still in this mood like, “Nobody knows what it was like. Nobody knows where I just came from and went through.” My brother and I go to this empty table and we start drinking beers and I’m chain smoking cigarettes, then three biker guys come up to us, they look at me and say, ‘You guys are at our table’ and as the guy says ‘table’ I turn around and blow my cigarette smoke in his face while saying, “Table was empty when we sat down, go find another one.” It all went downhill from there. One of the guys put his hand on my hand (which was holding my beer) and pushes it away; another guy turns his back towards me and starts roughly leaning towards me as if to butt me out, and at this I get angry and in my head. I’m telling myself ‘These guys have no idea where I just came from; these dumb bikers think they’re so tough, I’d like to see them overseas’ etc. And I’m getting madder and madder and we’re saying things back and forth and finally I’m so angry, that I turn my empty beer bottle over and I lift it up to smash it over this guys head … From there I just started laughing; I stubbed my cigarette out, flicked it at the guy and walked away. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when I calmed down and grasped how crazy it was what I was about to do. Then I realized that maybe I didn’t return home the way I [I was when I] left.”

“Mass Casualties” is not the first and is not going to be the last indictment of the US occupation of Iraq. There have been films, reports, books, blogs and dozens of testimonies at Winter Soldier events that have exposed various ugly aspects of the occupation as witnessed and enforced by the “heroes” in uniform. Each tale comes with its share of guilt, despair and remorse at having been complicit in wanton destruction under an obviously false façade of patriotism.

Perhaps, this latest account in its unsophisticated and gut-level rejection of the lie that the US military has come to represent will make people sit up and take notice … and action.

Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this report.

Washington and its NATO allies launched two of the three major wars in the world over the past eleven years in March – against Yugoslavia in 1999 and against Iraq in 2003. The war drums are being pounded anew and the world may be headed for a catastrophe far worse than those in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States, separately and through the military bloc it controls, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is accelerating military deployments and provocations throughout Eurasia and the Middle East.

Embroiled with fellow NATO members in the largest-scale military offensive of the joint war in Afghanistan launched eight years ago last October and well on the way to both extending and replicating the Afghan aggression in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula [1], Washington and its allies are also taunting and threatening Russia as well as surrounding Iran with military forces and hardware preparatory to a potential attack on that nation.

The rapid pace of the escalation – almost daily reports of missile shield expansion in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf and Turkey; heightened and progressively more bellicose words and actions directed against Iran – is occurring at a breakneck and almost dizzying speed, drawing in larger and larger tracts of Europe and Asia.

On January 12 new U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick, speaking “at his first public event in the country,” announced that Washington is entering into negotiations with the Bulgarian government to station interceptor missile facilities, most likely at one of the three new military bases the Pentagon has acquired there in the past four years. “The US military already has bases in Romania and Bulgaria that were created some years ago for delivering troops and cargo to Iraq and Afghanistan….” [2]

“The United States is planning to expand its European missile shield to other parts of Europe” and “will consult closely with Bulgaria and other NATO allies on the specific options to deploy elements of the defense system in those regions,” according to the American envoy. [3]

During the same speech Warlick also “called on Bulgaria to find other alternatives to stop its dependence on Russian gas,” [4] a reference to sabotaging the Russian South Stream project to transport natural gas from the eastern end of the Black Sea to Bulgaria and from there to Austria and Italy.

An analyst at a pro-NATO think tank in Bulgaria said of the proposed missile shield components that “They can be deployed virtually anywhere. Naturally they will need special infrastructure that provides logistical processes, and technically everything should be enforced by NATO standards.” [5]

The news of including Bulgaria in U.S. and NATO missile shield plans came eight days after a comparable announcement was made by Romanian President Traian Basescu that his country, where the U.S. has four new military bases, will host land-based U.S. interceptor missiles. The news from Romania in turn came only two weeks after Poland disclosed that a U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missile battery will be stationed 35 miles from Russian territory as early as March. [6]

The head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, responded to the latest news by saying it is “not in line with the ‘reset’ of US-Russia relations,” [7] an almost unintentionally comic understatement, and other Russian officials have pointed out that the Bulgarian report, as with those relating to Poland and Romania, came to their attention by reading of it in the press. Moscow’s American friend doesn’t feel constrained to notify Russia of its intention to base missile shield installations near the latter’s borders or across the Black Sea from it.

Former Joint Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces retired general Leonid Ivashov was less restrained in his reaction. He recently told a major Russian radio station that U.S. missile strategy “remains unchanged” vis-a-vis that of the former George W. Bush administration and missiles in Romania are an integral component of Washington’s plan to “neutralize Russia as a geopolitical competitor” [8] in the Black Sea and in general. In fact Washington’s plans are to destroy the strategic balance in the European continent two and a half months after the expiration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Recent announcements concerning U.S. missile deployments near Russia have been interpreted by some observers as intentionally designed to bury START negotiations and any hope for a treaty for the limitation and reduction of strategic offensive arms.

A Russian military analyst, Alexander Pikayev, said of the above dynamic that “US/Russia relations were improving but these proposals really don’t help the situation. This situation is a time bomb. If these plans go ahead it could cause big problems in five to ten years time.” [9]

The White House and Pentagon explain the drive to deploy a solid wall of interceptor missile bases along Russia’s western borders as an alleged defense against Iranian, North Korean and even Syrian missile threats, the argument used by the last American administration in furtherance of plans to place ground-based midcourse missiles in Poland and an X-band missile radar site in the Czech Republic.

The rationale was false then and remains so now. How short-to-medium-range missiles in Poland can in any manner be a response to Iran is unexplained – because it is unexplainable.

Ivashov refuted this transparent lie by stating “Iran will never be first to deliver a military strike.” [10]

On January 12 the Polish parliament took the next step and approved the deployment of 100 U.S. troops, the first foreign forces to be based on its soil since the end of the Warsaw Pact almost twenty years ago, to staff the missile battery near Russia’s border.

Regarding the addition of Bulgaria to the expanding range of American missile shield sites – not the last as will be seen below – Konstantin Sivkov, First Vice President of the Russian Academy for Geopolitical Problems, said that the move “directly threatens Russia.” A news account of his comments added “that after Bulgaria, the next country to make a similar announcement may be Georgia, which has already expressed similar desires.” [11]

He also anticipated the statement of the former top Russian military commander cited above in asserting “the argument that the US missile defense in Europe will be directed against missiles from Iran and North Korea is ridiculous as neither of the two states has the capacity to carry out such strikes.”

In his owns words, Sivkov warned: “The US missile defense in Europe is being created in order to level down Russian operational and tactical missile weapons. The USA has started creating a military infrastructure for exerting military pressure on Russia.” [12]

Another geopolitical analyst, Maxim Minaev of the Russian Center for Political Affairs, said of the new and continent-wide European missile shield system planned by the U.S. and NATO that “In its scope it envisages a much stronger structure than the one that was supposed to be in located in the Czech Republic and Poland,” [13] one which logically will include Georgia and Azerbaijan on Russia’s southern border.

Poland became a full NATO member in 1999 and Bulgaria and Romania five years later. On the day U.S. ambassador Warlick first revealed plans to extend interceptor missile plans to Bulgaria, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov hastened to add “My opinion is that we have to show solidarity. When you are a member of NATO, you have to work towards the collective security.” [14]

To indicate the extent to which U.S. missile shield provocations in Eastern Europe are linked with NATO’s drive east into former Soviet space, fraught as that strategy is with heating up so-called frozen conflicts and the very real threat of hot wars, this year’s developments in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria immediately gave rise to dangerous military prospects east of the Black Sea.

The latest news from Romania was coupled with the announcement that “the Czech Republic is in discussions with the Obama administration to host a command center for the United States’ altered missile-defense plan,” [15] and on February 18 the Romanian government began bilateral discussions with neighboring Moldova “on U.S. missile defense plans in Europe….” [16]

The former Soviet republic of Moldova has been coveted by Romania since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the current, Western-supported post-”Twitter Revolution” government is more than willing to oblige its patrons in Bucharest and Washington.

Recently Vladimir Voronin, president of Moldova until last September 11th, spoke of the Romanian president’s disclosure that he would allow the stationing of U.S. missiles in his country and, drawing a parallel with Romania’s World War II fascist dictator, said “The steps taken by Basescu are similar to the agreements to form an anti-Soviet coalition reached by Antonescu and Hitler.”

Voronin added, “Moldovan society is against basing U.S. anti-missile defense systems in Romania. Strained Moldovan-Romanian relations will become worse. We do not accuse Romania for this decision as we are aware of its unionist policy. [Absorbing Moldova into Romania.] Romania cannot accept that Moldova exists as an independent state.” [17]

“Though the Americans said the rockets are designed to prevent dangers from Iran, the essence is different. These events remind one of Europe’s return to the Cold War of the last century.” [18]

On February 11 Moldovan political analyst Bogdan Tsirdia warned that the U.S. “is very consistently moving NATO infrastructure in Russia’s direction,” specifically mentioning American bases in Romania and Kyrgyzstan, and added “the US wants to create another base in Georgia.”

He added in relation to the Black Sea in particular that “in the near future the US will have a conventional arms advantage over Moscow in the region….[T]he United States is turning the Black Sea into an American lake to control transit in the region.” [19]

On February 15 Transdniester, formerly part of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic but independent since 1990 and a war with Moldova two years later – and which fears that Romanian incorporation of Moldova would be a prelude to armed attacks to subjugate it – offered to host a Russian missile defense system to counter the American one in Romania.

Transdniester’s president, Igor Smirnov, said “we could deploy what Russia needs” as the stationing of U.S. interceptor missiles “will not be a stabilizing factor.” [20]

His country is bordered by Ukraine to the east and has been blockaded by that nation after the U.S.-backed “orange revolution” in Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005. The recent presidential election has rid the nation and its people of the “orange” duo of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko, and incoming head of state Viktor Yanukovich pledged that “There is no question of Ukraine joining NATO,” [21], thereby renouncing one of the two major objectives of his pro-Washington opponents: Pulling Ukraine into the military bloc against the will of the overwhelming majority of its population and ousting the Russian Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol in Crimea.

The outgoing Yushchenko regime recently assigned Ukrainian troops to the global NATO Response Force and hosted NATO Military Committee Chairman Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola who presented a draft cooperation plan for 2010-2011.

A member of the new president’s Party of Regions, Vasil Hara, deputy chairman of the party’s parliamentary group, recently stated “that by offering to deploy U.S. anti-missile systems on its territory, Romania is turning Ukraine into a risk zone.”

He also affirmed that incoming President Yanukovich “will not leave Transdnestr without support.” [22]

NATO expansion not only allows nations increasingly closer to Russia and Iran to be used for global interceptor missile facilities. The eastward drive of the bloc is expressly intended to secure such bases and related sites for that purpose.

Recent developments, however, signal a new advance in U.S. and NATO strategy to neutralize potential adversaries’ ability to respond to military aggression from the West. The extension of missile shield deployments and technology to the Black Sea and from there further east and south marks the confluence of hostile intentions toward Russia and Iran simultaneously.

In the third public warning on NATO expansion since last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said “The West’s ultimate goal is not Iran, but India and China” and “named the recent concentration of NATO forces around India and unrest in Pakistan as an argument.” He added that NATO now “almost completely surrounded Russia” and advocated that “Russia should respond to the deployment of NATO forces along its borders.” [23]

Earlier this month former president Hashemi Rafsanjani issued a similar warning, saying “the deployment of NATO forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan will constitute a serious threat to Iran….” [24]

In discussing Western pressure not to provide Iran with S-300 surface-to-air missiles for defense against prospective U.S. and Israeli attacks, Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Vladimir Nazarov recently said, “This deal is not restricted by any international sanctions, because these are merely defensive weapons,” and recalled earlier Russian concerns about the U.S. and its NATO allies arming Georgia on the eve of the August 2008 war with Russia.

But, Nazarov rued, “Our calls were ignored. It should be recalled that the Georgian aggression resulted in deaths among Russian servicemen and Russian civilians.” [25]

Russian concerns have not abated in the face of recent news.

The website of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe divulged that American airmen from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany have arrived at the modernized, massively upgraded Krtsanisi National Training Center in Georgia, “a forward operating base of sorts,” to join American Marines there training the Georgian armed forces on a “mission that involves providing a top-notch service to fellow warfighters.” [26] The Marines have been in the nation and at the Krtsanisi base since last August, and in October conducted the latest Immediate Response war games. Immediate Response 2008, which also included U.S. Marines, ended the day before Georgia invaded South Ossetia and triggered a five-day war with Russia.

U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke will arrive in Georgia on February 22 on a visit “devoted to the Georgian military contingent’s participation in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.” (Holbrooke was in the Persian Gulf on February 15 and while speaking in Qatar said of Afghanistan “We cannot make the disastrous mistake of 1989. The international community must stay in Afghanistan to help it,” [27] meaning 1992 presumably, when the U.S.’s Mujahideen clients took over the nation, and “The U.S. has led and won similar wars in Kosovo and Bosnia….” [28])

Georgia is to send another 700 troops trained by U.S. Marines to Afghanistan to serve under American command shortly. Leading Georgian officials have unapologetically acknowledged that the training and combat experience provided them by the U.S. can be used for subjugating South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Any such attempt would guarantee another and far larger war with Russia which has expanded its military presence in both nations since the 2008 war. [29]

Georgia can also be used by the U.S. for military strikes against Iran by providing surveillance radar, air bases and its Black Sea waters for cruise missile launches.

The Russian Itar-Tass news agency revealed on February 12 that in addition to supplying Georgia with aerial drones, Israel is delivering a large consignment of arms and ammunition to the nation.

Citing sources in the Russian secret services, the report revealed: “Under an effective contract Israel’s Ropadia company, registered in Cyprus, plans to supply through Bulgaria’s Arsenal firm 50,000 AKS-74 automatic rifles, about 1,000 grenade launchers RPG-7 and nearly 20,000 40-millimeter shells for them, as well as about 15,000 5.56-millimeter assault rifles….The hardware and ammunition was ready for shipment back several days ago.” [30]

In line with recent announcements that Washington is building up both land-based and sea-based interceptor missile capabilities in the Persian Gulf, the same combination as will be deployed along Russia’s western frontier from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and from the latter into the South Caucasus, Georgia and neighboring Azerbaijan are key components in the strategy to prevent Iranian retaliation in the event of U.S. and Israeli attacks. American and NATO bases in Bulgaria and Romania were used for the 2003 war against Iraq and are for the war in Afghanistan to the current day.

Azerbaijan, which has consolidated military ties with the U.S., NATO and Israel, is on Iran’s northwest border. [31]

Recently an official with the Azerbaijan president’s Academy of Public Administration spoke at a conference titled Azerbaijan’s Integration into Europe: Problems and Prospects, organized by the NATO International School in Azerbaijan. He advocated NATO intervening in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict with Armenia as the military bloc had “in the early 1990s in the Balkans, Bosnia,” when NATO deployed 400 warplanes in a bombing campaign against Bosnian Serb positions.

According to the official, Elman Nasirov, “the main aim of Azerbaijan in integrating into NATO and European structures is to provide security and restore its territorial integrity,” [32] meaning the military conquest of Karabakh.

Azerbaijan can be a major base for operations against Iran, where ethnic Azeris comprise as much as a quarter of the population. The Bosnia model has been alluded to above on two occasions.

On February 16 NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen hosted Major General Yaylym Berdiyev, the defense minister of Turkmenistan, Iran’s northeastern neighbor, at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. As the French Voltaire Network wrote five days before, “NATO has encircled Iran almost entirely: it has a foothold in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It just needs one in Turkmenistan for the siege to be complete.” [33]

To Iran’s west, Turkey’s Zaman newspaper wrote on February 17 that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar and while identifying Iran as a “long-term threat” because of its “nuclear weapons,” said that the U.S. interceptor missile system being steadily expanded from Eastern Europe to locations east and south “would protect into the Caucasus and down to Turkey, would provide some additional guarantee against threatening behavior.” (NATO Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero was in Qatar on February 8 and 9 to consolidate military partnerships with members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the Mediterranean Dialogue: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. [34])

The same Turkish source quoted U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “The dialogue on what Turkey could do within NATO to counter the proliferation of ballistic missiles via a missile defense system continues. We have discussed the possibility of erecting two radar systems in Turkey.” [35]

The Pentagon is simultaneously deploying land-based and ship-based interceptor missiles throughout the Persian Gulf to render Iran incapable of retaliation against massive missile attacks and bombing runs from the U.S. and its allies. [36]

After a five-day tour to Afghanistan and Pakistan to oversee the escalation of the wars in both nations, U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones – former Marine Commandant and NATO Supreme Allied Commander – said that Washington was pursuing tighter sanctions against Iran and revealed what the true purpose of such economic warfare is: “We are about to add to that regime’s difficulties by engineering, participating in very tough sanctions,” which “could trigger regime change.” [37]

On February 14 Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen arrived in Israel to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and military Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, and stated that the option of war against Iran “is still on the table.” [38]

During his trip it was reported that “Mullen’s visit follows a visit last month by U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones and a leaked secret visit two weeks ago by Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta.” [39]

In a masterful analysis of the current crisis in Yemen, American professor Robert Prince examined that nation’s role in American plans for armed hostilities against Iran.

In addition to “countering Chinese access to Middle East and African oil and gas moves, in the long run Yemen offers the United States strategic access to the Horn of Africa – Somalia, Sudan, Kenya – all of which are in varying degrees of turmoil and opens the door for expanding the roles of either AFRICOM or NATO – not only in the Middle East, but in Africa.

“There is another possible strategic consequence to US bases in Yemen, hypothetical but not out of the range of possibility: a US air base in Yemen could be used as a launching pad for an air attack on Iran, not only for US planes but for the Israelis as well.” [40]

On February 15 the earlier-cited Vladimir Nazarov, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, warned that “Any military action against Iran will explode the situation, will have extremely negative consequences for the entire world, including for Russia, which is a neighbor of Iran.” [41]

On the 17th Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Nikolai Makarov was quoted by his nation’s Interfax news agency as stating, “The U.S. is currently conducting two military operations – in Afghanistan and in Iraq. A third one would be a disaster for them. So, as they’re tackling their tasks in Iraq and Afghanistan, they could deliver a strike against Iran.” [42]

Washington and its NATO allies launched two of the three major wars in the world over the past eleven years in March – against Yugoslavia in 1999 and against Iraq in 2003. The war drums are being pounded anew and the world may be headed for a catastrophe far worse than those in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Notes

1) U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean Stop NATO, January 8, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/u-s-nato-expand-afghan-war-to-horn-of-africa-and-indian-ocean-2
2) Russia Today, February 15, 2010
3) RTT News, February 12, 2010
4) Ibid
5) Focus News Agency, February 16, 2010
6) With Nuclear, Conventional Arms Pacts Stalled, U.S. Moves Missiles And Troops To Russian Border Stop NATO, January 22, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/with-nuclear-conventional-arms-pacts-stalled-u-s-moves-missiles-and-troops-to-russian-border
7) Voice of Russia, February 16, 2010
8) Russia Today, February 15, 2010
9) Sky News, February 17, 2010
10) Ibid
11) Sofia News Agency, February 13, 2010
12) Ibid
13) Ibid
14) Sofia Echo, February 12, 2010
15) Prague Post, February 10, 2010
16) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 18, 2010
17) Info-Prim Neo (Moldova), February 13, 2010
18) Ibid
19) The Messenger (Georgia), February 15, 2010
20) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 15, 2010
21) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 12, 2010
22) Nezavisimaya Gazeta/Gazeta.ru, February 15, 2010
23) Trend News Agency, February 16, 2010
24) Jomhouri-e Eslami, February 10, 2010
25) Interfax, February 14, 2010
26) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, February 16, 2010
27) Reuters, February 15, 2010
28) Tanjug News Agency, February 17, 2010
29) U.S. Marines In The Caucasus As West Widens Afghan War Stop NATO, September 3, 2009
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/u-s-marines-in-the-caucasus-as-west-widens-afghan-war
30) Itar-Tass, February 12, 2010
31) U.S. Marines In The Caucasus As West Widens Afghan War, Stop NATO, September 3, 2009
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/u-s-marines-in-the-caucasus-as-west-widens-afghan-war
Azerbaijan And The Caspian: NATO’s War For The World’s Heartland Stop NATO, June 10, 2009
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/azerbaijan-and-the-caspian-natos-war-for-the-worlds-heartland
32) News.AZ, February 16, 2010
33) Voltaire Network, February 11, 2010
http://www.voltairenet.org/article164004.html
34) NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran, Stop NATO, February 10, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/natos-role-in-the-military-encirclement-of-iran
35)Today’s Zaman, February 17, 2010
36) U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf, Stop NATO, February 3, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/u-s-extends-missile-buildup-from-poland-and-aiwan-to-persian-gulf
37) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 15, 2010
38) Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 14, 2010
39) Ibid
40) Robert Prince, Houthi Rebellion in Yemen has the Saudis Nervous
February 11, 2010
http://robertjprince.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/yemen-5-houthi-rebellion-in-yemen-has-the-saudis-nervous
41) PanArmenian.net, February 15, 2010
42) Interfax-Military, February 17, 2010

PRESS CONFERENCE: 1,000 Architects and Engineers Call for New 9/11 Investigation

February 19th, 2010 by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth

Across the United States, members of a group called “AE911truth” are holding press conferences listed in every major city.

The Main Conference will be held in San Francisco, to find out about 1 in your town, check:

http://www.ae911truth.org/

Colorado’s events are listed below San Francisco in this email

DATE: February 19, 2010
TIME: 11am – 6pm
PLACE: Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel,
               609 Sutter St.
               San Francisco, CA

PROGRAM:

11:00 am – Press Conference
Richard Gage, AIA, accompanied by other distinguished speakers and prominent petition signers, will announce this milestone event with a brief dynamic presentation of the evidence which has convinced over 1,000 architects and engineers to support the demand for a real investigation. The presentation will be followed by Q&A. Press kits will be distributed.

• Open to the Public – Free

12:00 pm – Keynote Luncheon
Join us for an exclusive luncheon in honor of the thousand petition signers and supporters who have contributed to the success of AE911Truth. To mark the occasion, distinguished members of the 9/11 Truth movement, including David Ray Griffin, PhD. and Steven Jones, PhD., will make important relevant presentations. We will also present an overview of the major accomplishments achieved in 2009 along with the ambitious goals we have set for 2010.

• Open to all AE911Truth petition signers, volunteers, and qualified members of the press
• Reservations required (RSVP below) Note: We must have your choice of Salmon or Beef by Monday Feb 15th please RSVP now to [email protected]
• Cost per person: $50 if paying by Feb. 16, $75 if after Feb. 16

2 – 6 pm – A/E Conference
This conference will give us the opportunity to strategize with and empower our architect and engineer petition signers. Our goal: to develop more AE911Truth speakers and otherwise actively disseminate our message to fellow A/E professionals. We will focus on several methods of structuring and delivering the message effectively. And hear your ideas about how to make AE911Truth have even more impact.

• Open to all petition signers & special guests
• Reservations required (RSVP below)
• Cost per person: $20 if registered by Feb. 16, $30 if registered after Feb. 16

REGISTRATION:
• AE911Truth online ticketing service: http://www.1000aes.eventbrite.com
• Phone: (510) 292-4710
• Email: 1000[at]AE911Truth.org 

Colorado Press:

PRESS CONFERENCE:

1,000 Architects and Engineers Call for New 9/11 Investigation

Cite Evidence of Explosive Demolition at WTC

When:  Friday, February 19th, 2010

Time & Where:   

8:30 am:  Office of the Honorable  Ed Perlmutter, 12600 West Colfax Avenue, Suite B-400, Lakewood, CO

9:30 am:  Office of the Honorable  Diana DeGette, 600 Grant St., Suite 202, Denver, CO

10.00 am:  Office of the Honorable  Jared Polis, 1200 East 78th Avenue, Thornton, CO

12:00 noon:  Office of Senator Michael F. Bennet, 2300 15th St., Suite 450, Denver, CO

2:00 pm:  Office of the Honorable  Mike Coffman, 9220 Kimmer Drive, Suite 220, Lone Tree, CO                       

Who:  Representatives of AE911Truth and Richard Gage, AIA, SF Bay Area architect and founder of the non-profit Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Inc. (AE911Truth) will announce that more than 1,000 architects and engineers in dozens of countries now support the call for a new independent investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Signers of the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth Petition will discuss the organization’s startling findings, based on examination of  the forensic evidence, videos and eye witness testimony omitted from official reports, such as the free-fall collapse of the 47 story WTC building 7 into its own footprint and the  discovery of advanced explosive nano-thermitic material found in the WTC dust samples.  The implications of these findings have the potential of profound impact on the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial.  The focus of this press conference will be to detail the scientific concerns of these building and technical professionals whose findings reveal that all three skyscrapers were destroyed by explosive controlled demolition – not by jet plane impacts and fires.  AE911Truth is also calling for a grand jury investigation of Shyam Sunder, NIST Lead Investigator and John Gross, NIST Co-Project Leader (National Institute for Standards and Technology).  The Petition will be provided to the offices of every congressional representative on the same date – February 19th.

This press conference will be hosted concurrently in cities throughout the country including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Dallas, Madison, Dover, NH, Tulsa, Tucson, Boston, Alexandria, VA (DC), Tampa,  Temple Terrace, FL, Denver, Newark; and internationally in Ontario, Vancouver, Brussels, Denmark, Sydney, and Wellington, NZ.  The SF press conference will be accessible to media (audio and video) via webinar at www.ae911truth.org. at 11:00am PST on Friday Feb 19, 2010.

For additional information on the five local events contact:__Frances Shure, [email protected],  303-778-7511 home/office,  303-909-2053 cell. To arrange print/broadcast interviews, with Richard Gage, AIA, founder of AE911Truth please contact Tania Torres at Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth: 510-292-4710, or by email  [email protected] .

1,000+ Architects & Engineers
demand a new 9/11 WTC investigation!

• Host an AE911Truth Press Conference in your city on Feb 19

• Luncheon price-hike delayed to Feb. 16 – last chance!

• A/E conference (2-6pm) now open to all petition signers

• David Ray Griffin and Steven Jones attendance confirmed

Submit the AE911Truth Petition to your congressional reps

• LIVE webcast via webinar at AE911Truth.org – watch in real time!

As of January 2010, over 1,000 architects and engineers have signed our petition demanding a truly independent investigation into the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers on 9/11. This petition, along with AE911Truth literature and DVDs, will be presented to every Member of Congress on the same day by the 14,000 active supporters of AE911Truth.

To underscore the importance of this milestone achievement, AE911Truth is launching a massive publicity campaign world-wide and holding a major Press Conference in San Francisco, California on February 19, 2010 followed by an informative Keynote Luncheon to include David Ray Griffin and Steven Jones. We will also host a strategy and team development conference featuring our Architect and Engineer petition signers – many of whom will be flying in to San Francisco to join us. All petition signers are now welcome and encouraged to attend this very important mini-conference.

DONATIONS & SPONSORSHIP:

Please also consider a sponsorship to help defray our costs of organizing this historic event:

a. Sponsor a Volunteer – honoring their hard work and dedication – enabling them to attend the Luncheon.
b. Sponsor a Speaker with a major donation that will enable us to bring esteemed 9/11 Truth figures David Ray Griffin, Steven Jones, and other special guests to our milestone event.
c. Sponsor the Publicity Effort with a generous donation to enable us to reach the broadest audiences possible locally, nationally and worldwide via PR Newswire, etc.

Actions you can take – for coordinated exposure and publicity:

1) Download and print the AE911Truth petition. Mail & fax it to your local congressional rep with a personalized message along with the letter of introduction to AE911Truth. (This letter can also be used for numerous other 9/11 awareness raising purposes!)

2)Hold the AE911Truth press conference in your local City on Feb 19. We will help you with this.

3)Volunteer now to contact the media in your area (or across the country) to distribute:
          • Radio Interview Request
          (Email it to every radio, TV and newspaper in your community starting now to propose on-air interviews with Mr. Gage and encourage them to cover this timely story)
          • SF Bay Area Media Alert
          (Issue now to advise media to cover the event when it happens on the 19th)
          • Press Release
          (To be issued only on the morning of Press Conference. Will not be available for download until midnight Feb 18)
          Please contact Abby Martin at [email protected] to help.

5) Download and print the press conference flyer for your use in raising awareness.

Finally, please join the family of monthly sustaining donors to ensure our success in 2010.
Thank you again for all of your efforts in the past and for being there for us at this crucial moment.

I hope to see you in San Francisco!

Richard Gage, AIA
and the dedicated volunteers at AE911Truth

The Internet has become one more tool hijacked by corporate interests to accelerate our cultural, political and economic decline. The great promise of the Internet, to open up dialogue, break down cultural barriers, promote democracy and unleash innovation and creativity, has been exposed as a scam. The Internet is dividing us into antagonistic clans, in which we chant the same slogans and hate the same enemies, while our creative work is handed for free to Web providers who use it as bait for advertising.

Ask journalists, photographers, musicians, cartoonists or artists what they think of the Web. Ask movie and film producers. Ask architects or engineers. The Web efficiently disseminates content, but it does not protect intellectual property rights. Writers and artists are increasingly unable to make a living. And technical professions are under heavy assault. Anything that can be digitized can and is being outsourced to countries such as India and China where wages are miserable and benefits nonexistent. Welcome to the new global serfdom where the only professions that pay a living wage are propaganda and corporate management. 

The Web, at the same time it is destroying creative work, is forming anonymous crowds that vent collective rage, intolerance and bigotry. These virtual slums do not expand communication or dialogue. They do not enrich our culture. They create a herd mentality in which those who express empathy for “the enemy”—and the liberal class is as guilty of this as the right wing—are denounced by their fellow travelers for their impurity. Racism toward Muslims may be as evil as anti-Semitism, but try to express this simple truth on a partisan Palestinian or Israeli website.

Jaron Lanier, the “father of virtual reality technology,” in his new book “You Are Not a Gadget,” warns us of this frightening new collectivism. He notes that the habits imposed by the Internet have reconfigured how we relate to each other. He writes that “Web 2.0,” “Open Culture,” “Free Software” and the “Long Tail” have become enablers of this new collectivism. He cites Wikipedia, which consciously erases individual voices, and Google Wave as examples of the rise of mass collective thought and mass emotions. Google Wave is a new communication platform that permits users to edit what someone else has said in a conversation when it is displayed as well as allow collaborators to watch each other as they type. Privacy, honesty and self-reflection are instantly obliterated.

Tastes and information on the Internet are determined by the crowd, what Lanier calls the hive mentality. Music, books, journalism, commercials and bits of television shows and movies, along with inane YouTube videos, are thrust onto our screens and into national consciousness because of the statistical analysis of Internet crowd preferences. Lanier says that one of the biggest mistakes he and other computer scientists made when the Internet was developed was allowing contributions to the Internet to go unpaid. He says decisions such as this have now robbed people, especially those who create, of their ability to make a living and ultimately the capacity for dignity. Digital collectivism, he warns, is destroying the dwindling vestiges of authentic creativity and innovation, including journalism, which takes time, investment and self-reflection. And while there are a few sites that do pay for content—Truthdig being one—the vast majority are parasites. The only income left for most of those who create is earned through self-promotion, but as Lanier points out this turns culture into nothing but advertising. It fosters a social ethic in which the capacity for crowd manipulation is more highly valued than truth, beauty or thought.

While the severing of intellectual property rights from their creators, whether journalists, photographers or musicians, means that those who create lose the capacity to make a living from their work, aggregators such as Google make money by collecting and distributing this work to lure advertisers. Original work on the Internet, as Lanier points out, is “copied, mashed up, anonymized, analyzed, and turned into bricks in someone else’s fortress to support an advertising scheme.” Lanier warns that if this trend is not halted it will create a “formula that leaves no way for our nation to earn a living in the long term.” 

“Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth,” Lanier says. “The body starts consuming itself. That is what we are doing online. As more and more human activity is aggregated, people huddle around the last remaining oases of revenue. Musicians today might still be able to get paid to make music for video games, for instance, because games are still played in closed consoles and haven’t been collectivized as yet.”

I called Lanier in San Francisco. He began by saying that he was not against the Internet, but against how it has evolved. He has sounded his warning, he said, because he fears that if we fall into an economic tailspin, the Internet, like other innovative systems of mass communication in human history, could be used to exacerbate social enmity and lead to an American totalitarianism.

“The scenario I can see is America in some economic decline, which we seem determined to enter into because we are unable to make any adjustments, and a lot of unhappy people,” Lanier said. “The preponderance of them are in rural areas and in the red states, the former slave states. And they are all connected and get angrier and angrier. What exactly happens? Do they start converging on abortion clinics? Probably. Do they start converging on legislatures and take them over? I don’t know, maybe. I shouldn’t speak it. It is almost a curse to imagine these things. But any intelligent person can see the scenario I am afraid to see. There is a potential here for very bad stuff to happen.”

And yet the utopian promoters of the Internet tell us that the hive mind, the vast virtual collective, will propel us toward a brave new world. Lanier dismisses such visions as childish fantasy, one that allows many well-intentioned people to be seduced by an evolving nightmare.

“The crowd phenomenon exists, but the hive does not exist,” Lanier told me. “All there is, is a crowd phenomenon, which can often be dangerous. To a true believer, which I certainly am not, the hive is like the baby at the end of ‘2001 Space Odyssey.’ It is a super creature that surpasses humanity. To me it is the misinterpretation of the old crowd phenomenon with a digital vibe. It has all the same dangers. A crowd can turn into a mean mob all too easily, as it has throughout human history.”

“There are some things crowds can do, such as count the jelly beans in the jar or guess the weight of the ox,” Lanier added. “I acknowledge this phenomenon is real. But I propose that the line between when crowds can think effectively as a crowd and when they can’t is a little different. If you read [James] Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds,” he, as well as other theorists, say that if you want a crowd to be wise the key is to reduce the communication flow between the members so they do not influence each other, so they are truly independent and have separate sample points. It brings up an interesting paradox. The starting point for online crowd enthusiasts is that connection is good and everyone should be connected. But when they talk about what makes a crowd smart they say people should not be talking to each other. They should be isolated. There is a contradiction there. What makes a crowd smart is the type of question you ask. If you ask a group of informed people to choose a single numeric value such as the weight of an ox and they all have some reason to have a theory that is not entirely crazy they will center on the answer. You can get something useful. This phenomenon is what accounts for price fitting in capitalism. This is how markets can function. If you ask them to create anything, if you ask them to do something constructive or synthetic or engage in compound reasoning then they will fail. Then you get something dull or an averaging out. One danger of the crowd is violence, which is when they turn into a mob. The other is dullness or mundaneness, when you design by committee.”

Humans, like many other species, Lanier says, have a cognitive switch that permits us to be individuals or members of a mob. Once we enter the confines of what Lanier calls a clan, even a virtual clan, it possesses dynamics that appeal to the basest instincts within us. Technology evolves but human nature remains constant. The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history because human beings married the newly minted tools of efficient state bureaucracies and industrial slaughter with the dark impulses that have existed since the dawn of the human species. 

“You become hypersensitive to the pecking order and to your sense of social status,” Lanier said of these virtual clans. “There is almost always the designated loser in your own group and the designated external enemy. There is the enemy below and the enemy afar. There become two classes of disenfranchised people. You enter into a constant obligation to defend your status which is always being contested. It is time-consuming to become a member of one of these things. I see a lot of designs on line that bring this out. There is a recognizable sequence, whether it is pianos, poodles or jihad; you see people forming into these clans. It is playing with fire. There are plenty of examples of evil in human history that did not involve this effect, such as Jack the Ripper, who worked alone. But most of the really bad examples of human behavior in history involve invoking this clan dynamic. No particular sort of person is immune to it. Geeks are no more immune to it than Germans or Russians or Japanese or Mongolians. It is part of our nature. It can be woken up without any leadership structure or politics. It happens. It is part of us. There is a switch inside of us waiting to be turned. And people can learn to manipulate the switch in others.”

“The Machine Stops,” a story published by E.M. Forster in 1909, paints a futuristic world where people are mesmerized by virtual reality. In Forster’s dystopia, human beings live in isolated, tiny subterranean rooms, like hives, where they are captivated by instant messages and cinematophoes—machines that project visual images. They cut themselves off from the external world and are absorbed by a bizarre pseudo-reality of voices, sounds, evanescent images and abstract sensations that can be evoked by pressing a few buttons. The access to the world of the Machine, which has replaced the real world with a virtual world, is provided by an omniscient impersonal voice.

We are, as Forster understood, seduced and then often enslaved by technology, from the combustion engine to computers to robotics. These marvels of humankind’s ingenuity are inevitably hijacked by modern slave masters who use the newest technologies to keep us impoverished, confused about our identity and passive. The Internet, designed by defense strategists to communicate after a nuclear attack, has become the latest technological instrument in the hands of those who are driving us into a state of neofeudalism. Technology is morally neutral. It serves the interests of those who control it. And those who control it today are ravishing journalism, culture and art while they herd the population into clans that fuel intolerance and hatred.

“A common rationalization in the fledgling world of digital cultures back then was that we were entering a transitional lull before a creative storm—or were already in the eye of the storm,” Lanier writes in his book. “But we were not passing through a momentary calm. We had, rather, entered a persistent somnolence, and I have come to believe that we will escape it only when we kill the hive.”

The Future of the Dollar

February 18th, 2010 by futureofdollar.com

The World is concerned that the dollar cannot play the role of the main reserve currency any longer after the financial crisis sparked by the collapse of the U.S. mortgage market led to the worst global recession since the 1930s. The Government’s stimulus packages, financial bailouts, the need to support liquidity in Treasuries, keeping interest rates at the lowest level under the circumstances of low economic growth, high unemployment and low tax collection make it print more dollars. This leads to a high risk of substantial inflation, or hyperinflation in a long-run.

With a $12.3 trillion national debt and $55 trillion in unfunded obligations for programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with total Federal Reserve and Treasury bailout commitments now at $11.8 trillion, of which $3.6 trillion has already been spent the U.S. need to take steps immediately to protect themselves from the potential loss of the purchasing power of their U.S. Dollars, inflation.us warns.

Although there is still no significant inflation data in the United States international stock and commodity markets grew abnormally within the last eleven months. Analysts called it the “flight from the dollar” or “diversifying risks.”

There are many factors evidencing against the future of the dollar as a global reserve currency. In the present article futureofdollar.com pays attention to the crucial points of analysis after conducting an extensive research on the topic. 

Part I

Weak Fundamentals of the U.S. Economy

Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman states that “a country whose fundamentals are persistently and predictably deteriorating will necessarily have a [currency] crisis at some point.” (1)

1. National Debt

In the middle of February 2010, President Obama signed into law the bill increasing the public debt ceiling from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion.  This is a second increase in the upper limit on the national debt in less than two months.

Last time, in December, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer commented that the Congress simply had no other choice: otherwise the United States would have to default on their debt obligations what would be another catastrophe for financial markets. (2)

The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform stated that “the United States would almost certainly experience a debt driven crisis,” that “could unfold gradually or it could happen suddenly, but with great costs either way.” “The excessive debt would. . . affect citizens in their everyday lives by harming the American standard of living through slower economic growth and dampening wages, and shrinking the government’s ability to reduce taxes, invest, or provide a safety net.” (3)

2. Unemployment

This past January, the economy lost 20,000 jobs after loosing 150,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent. (4)

The unemployment rate fell from 10.0 to 9.7 percent in January. According to Reuters “a sharp increase in the number of people giving up looking for work helped to depress the jobless rate. The number of ‘discouraged job seekers’ rose to 1.1 million in January from 734,000 a year ago.”

3. Budget deficit

IMF’s Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn noted at the 10th Annual Herzliya Conference in Tel Aviv that the global crisis had created a problem of fiscal sustainability for many countries that could take decades to fix because of the huge debts built up during the crisis, especially in developed countries. (5)

The United States reached a record budget deficit of $1.415 trillion in fiscal year 2009 that ended in September. (6)  The deficit will probably again exceed one trillion dollars in the current fiscal year as it is already over $400 billion.

The excess of spending over revenue in the United States rose to $91.9 billion in December 2009, as opposed to a deficit of $51.8 billion in December 2008, the Treasury Department announced in its monthly budget statement. The U.S. has posted a record 15 straight monthly deficits. (7)

In the beginning of February 2010 Obama transmitted a $3.8 trillion budget for 2011 to the Congress with a record $1.6 trillion deficit. (8)

During the debate on the national debt the Senate “rejected a proposed bipartisan commission to recommend ways to reduce the U.S. budget deficit,” Bloomberg reported. “The legislation would have required that the panel’s recommendations be voted on by Congress without being amended.” (9)

4. Financial sector

Recent Bank of America’s and Citigroup’s losses for the fourth quarter of 2009 and inability to repay the bailout funds without additional stock offering, Morgan Stanley’s low profits, and J.P. Morgan Chase’s retail division loss confirm a suspicion that the U.S. banks’ economic conditions are not very strong putting in doubt health of the financial sector as a whole.

“Loan demand continued to decline or remained weak in most Districts.” (10)

“A number of Districts reported that credit quality continued to deteriorate.” (11)

5. Home Sales

  Existing-home sales fell 16.7 percent in December 2009 “after first-time buyers rushed to complete sales before the original November deadline for the tax credit,” the National Association of Realtors reported. (12)

  According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census sales of new single-family houses declined 7.6 percent in December 2009, following a drop of 9.3 percent in November. Bloomberg noted that for all of 2009, sales declined 23 percent to 374,000, the lowest level since records began in 1963. (13)

6. Economic impact of U.S. international military operations

The cost of conducting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pushed the budget into the red during the presidency of George W. Bush. The situation deteriorated after the beginning of the financial crisis when the government adopted measures such as stimulus packages, financial bailouts, the need to support liquidity in Treasuries, etc. Moreover, early in December 2009 it has increased its nonproductive expenses by approving 30,000 troops to be sent to fight in Afghanistan.

All economists agree that one of the basic nonmonetary reasons of inflation is the existence of significant nonproductive government expenses such as military expenses.

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said Obama may have too much on his plate. “You can’t fight a war, a financial crisis, a recession, and add health-care coverage to the uninsured at the same time,” he said. “It is simply the recipe for disaster.” (14)

However important goals of the war could be, military operations are, undoubtedly, very costly for U.S. citizens especially at the time of the financial crisis and growing deficits. Moreover, the situation is not getting better considering that around 40 percent of the war financing has been borrowed from abroad, Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize Winner, shows in his research “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The Real Cost of the Iraq Conflict.”

Explaining why wars are expensive he points out that military expenditures are not only limited to direct operation costs but also include (the bigger part) human casualties, future disability costs, loss of income, increased oil prices, opportunity costs, veterans’ social welfare, nonproductive spending, loss of confidence in the future economic situation, increase in the national debt, and so on.

“If we try to stay the course, we are going to spend more and more money,” Stiglitz stresses. “The fact that we financed the war totally by deficits means that when 10 years from now we decide we want to repay that, which I don’t know if we will, the amount that we will have to raise our taxes will be that much larger because the debt will be that much larger.”

7. China’s peg to the dollar

So far China is enjoying low yuan rate giving its exports competitive advantage in relation to those countries with appreciating currencies against the U.S. dollar.

As the result China is actually “stealing” jobs from many countries since with appreciating currencies their companies are not able to compete with Chinese producers.

In relation to the United States this means that the country should not count on sooner recovery. China’s peg to the dollar makes imports into the U.S. cheaper. This supports high level of unemployment in America. Unemployment prevents the growth of GDP and reduces revenues. 

Part II

Lack of Coincidence

Defining major reasons of currency crises Paul Krugman states that the most important is a lack of confidence. The “investor lack of confidence – is a defining feature of a currency crisis,” he argues. (15)

Below are opinions of a number of people from different parts of the world whom many of us know quite well. Their opinions concern the U.S. dollar and the U.S. economy. 

Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted the financial crisis, said that the greenback may weaken for the next three years. (16)

Warren Buffett, a successful international investor: “There is the likelihood of significant inflation down the road.” (17)

Robert B. Zoellick, the World Bank President: “There is little the United States can do about the sinking value of the dollar except restore growth in its economy.” (18)

George Soros, a successful international investor: “Irrespective of the situation in the stock markets or condition of the economy we shall see further shift from the dollar into real assets in a long run.” (19)

Jim Rogers, a successful international investor: “Printing money to help the U.S. economy will weaken the greenback and Treasuries in a long run.” (20)

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics: The greenback will continue to head downward for the time being, given the huge U.S. trade deficit and global trade imbalance. (21)

Fan Gang, a prominent economist and adviser to China’s central bank: “This crisis is a U.S. dollar crisis, which takes a relatively long time to clear up. The problem involves the U.S. currency and U.S. debt; eventually it has to be solved through U.S. dollar depreciation.” (22)

Yuri Luzhkov, City of Moscow Mayor, Russia: The world is on the brink of a radical devaluation of the American currency. Therefore, Russia has to abandon its dependency on the dollar as soon as possible. American currency reserves are supported by nothing and industrial production in this country is very low. (23)

The list of well-known people with similar thinking is endless. In its research futureofdollar.com faced a difficulty of finding successful investors, economists or foreign politicians with the opposite thinking. There are just a few of them. Most of them are the U.S. government officials whose job is to restore the confidence in the U.S. economy with a part of this job being speaking in ‘positive’ terms.

People in this group either believe that:

*the recession is over and the U.S. economy will have a sharp rebound, or
*that the dollar will remain the primary reserve currency for a long time because during this last financial crisis investors found the dollar a safe haven, or
*that there is no inflation threat relying on the U.S. government data, or
*simply stating that “we will sink or swim with the dollar.”

For instance, Barack Obama is confident that the dollar is “extraordinarily strong” because investors are confident in the ability of the U.S. to lead a worldwide recovery. (24)

The Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke believes that U.S. asset prices aren’t out of line with underlying values, and central bank policy will ensure that the “dollar is strong.” (25)

The U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner forecasts that the dollar will remain the world’s “dominant reserve currency.” (26)

Therefore, we came to a conclusion that, unfortunately, the U.S. economy and the dollar are losing confidence. The U.S. government must work even harder now to restore it.

Part III

Diversification Out of the Dollar

It is hard to argue that the future of the dollar nowadays significantly depends on such developing countries as China, India, Brazil, Russia, and others. These countries accumulate very large dollar reserves and the U.S. debt. 

Let’s explore their recent positions regarding the U.S. dollar with an attempt to predict its future.

1.  China

Already for an extended period of time China was quite aggressive in diversifying its reserves and protecting from weakening dollar, recommending its private sector to do the same.

The Chinese Ministry of Finance said in the beginning of September 2009 that it would issue 6 billion yuan worth of government bonds in Hong Kong, a major step to internationalize its currency at a time of concern about the dollar. (27)

Same month China bought the equivalent of $50 billion of the first bond sale by the International Monetary Fund, a purchase that might raise Beijing’s standing in the fund and help the government’s quiet campaign to expand the reach of its currency. China took the unusual step of paying for the IMF bonds with 341.2 billion yuan — which is not traded on global markets — rather than dollars. (28)

The country signed currency agreement with Argentina and agreed to credit South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Belarus with its own currency. (29)

In the mid-September 2009, the International Monetary Fund announced that it was going to sell 403 tons of gold. Chinese central bank showed its willingness to buy the whole offer. (30)

The People’s Bank of China showed its intention to decrease its dollar reserves. Chinese authorities will increase their euro and yen reserves. (31)

China and Brazil established international payments in national currency of the Republic of China. Zhuhai Geli corporation received a transfer of several million yuan from San Paolo in the fall of 2009. (32) 

Foreign investments of Chinese companies rose in the 3d quarter of 2009 reaching $20,5 billion. The number is almost three times higher as opposed to the last year statistics for the same period of time, as data of the Chinese Ministry of Trade showed. (33)

The country was seeking to expand its African oil reserves by bidding for up to a sixth of Nigeria’s crude reserves constituting approximately 6 billon barrels. Valuing near $30-50 billion Chinese offer is higher than that of the current owners. China has been buying oil resources around the World for the second year already. (34)

Chinese companies may invest about $ 4,4 billion into Peru’s mining sector within the next three years, said Bloomberg referring to the statement made by the Prime Minister of Peru Javier Velasquez. (35)

Nearly 44% ($14,3 billion) of the total volume of China’s investments within the first nine months of 2009 were coming into mining and production sector. Representative of the Asian Development Bank noted that investing in the mining sector by purchasing stocks corresponded to a long-term strategy of the country to achieve resource security. (36)

China Investment Corporation (CIC), a sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing part of Chinese foreign exchange reserves, “has been quietly accumulating stakes in resource firms including Canada’s Kinross Gold Corp. and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan according to a filing with securities regulators.” (37)

CIC chairman Lou Jiwei “recently said that CIC would focus on investing in emerging markets in 2010. In October, the CIC chairman said the fund had allocated $110-billion for foreign investments and had already deployed about half of that.” (38)

“In addition to its $3.5-billion interest in Teck, CIC has a $652-million stake in Brazilian iron ore and nickel giant Vale SA, a $4.7-million interest in copper miner Freeport-McMoRan, and a $9.1-million holding in steel producer ArcelorMittal.” CIC has also acquired stakes in a number of high-profile brand name companies in North America such as Research In Motion Ltd., Apple Inc., News Corp., and AIG Inc. (39)

2. India

IMF sold 200 metric tons of gold to India in the beginning of November 2009. The $6.7 billion sale is “the biggest single central-bank purchase that we know about for at least 30 years in such a short period,” said Timothy Green, author of “The Ages of Gold.” “The only comparable event was the U.S.’s steady purchases in the 1930s and 1940s.” (40)

3. Brazil

Brazilian Central Bank president Henrique Meirelles said the country is considering the gradual elimination of the U.S .dollar in trade with China, Russia and India. (41)

In October 2009, the Brazilian Central bank announced that an agreement was reached with Uruguayan economic authorities to apply the so called SML system in bilateral trade operations. (42)

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that Brazil would spend 10 billion US dollars on buying International Monetary Fund bonds to boost the fund’s resources. This “radical change” will help Brazil to diversify its resources, he added. (43)

4. Russia

The Central Bank of Russia increased the share of Japanese yen and Swiss franc in reserves in the middle of 2008. Japanese yen currently accounts for around 2 percent of Russia’s reserves. The franc’s share is smaller because of the limited liquidity.

Russian reserves consist now mainly of the U.S. dollar and the euro. However, it is quite possible that Russia will add Chinese yuan in there, said Alexei Kudrin, Russian Finance Minister. The lack of convertibility of the China’s currency and of the free movement of capital was the main current obstacle. (44)

Brazil and India are interested in settling bilateral trade with Russia in national currencies, said Alexander Potemkin, an advisor to the Russian central bank chairman, echoing Moscow’s drive for more use of national currencies and less of the U.S. dollar.  “There was an initiative within the framework of the BRIC. These countries intend to create the conditions for direct payment for trade in national currencies,” he said. He also said that Russia had a reach experience of reciprocal payments in national currencies with China. He estimated that settlements in yuan and rouble already account for around 2 percent of Russia’s trade with China. (45)

Moscow also discusses trade in national currencies with other countries including Turkey and Vietnam. (46)

Russian central bank first deputy chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said in November 2009 that Russia was going to add the Canadian dollar to its gold and forex reserves in the next few months, but its share would be insignificant. (47)

5. Other countries

In April 2009 the Latin American leaders signed into effect a new South American currency, to be called the ‘sucre’. ALBA leaders (representing Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Dominica) say the sucre is necessary to help defray the regional effects of the world economic crisis by substituting their trade in dollars with a new alternative currency. The ALBA countries and their allies plan to use the virtual sucre by early 2010. (48)

In the second quarter ending in June 2009, central banks around the world invested 63 percent of their new cash reserves into euro and yen, and put only 37 percent into dollars. (49)

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain signed in June 2009 an accord to create a joint monetary union council, a prelude to establishing a Gulf central bank and launching a monetary union and single currency. The remaining two members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE and Oman, did not sign after deciding to withdraw from the project. The GCC states have set 2010 as the target to launch the monetary union and single currency, but many experts believe that target is too ambitious and unrealistic. (50)

The International Monetary Fund sold 10 metric tons of gold to the central bank of Sri Lanka for about $375 million. The purchase is part of Sri Lanka’s plan to diversify its reserves and it has been gradually accumulating the metal in the past nine months. “Gold is a good anchor and hedge to have in these volatile circumstances,” said Nivard Cabraal, the bank’s governor. “We think it’s a good time to buy.” (51)

In the beginning of January 2010 Canada announced that it might sell about 1 billion euros of 10-year bonds, its first issue of debt in the European currency in more than a decade. This strategy will help attracting new investors, while debt denominated in U.S. dollars is becoming less popular among the creditors given the declining value of the U.S. currency. (52)

It is obvious that the trend of the diversification out of the dollar persisted through the whole year of 2009.

Part IV

Way Out

Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform suggests that “the United States must show its creditors that it is serious about stabilizing the federal debt over a reasonable timeframe. Both spending cuts and tax increases will be necessary.”

Most of the economists would suggest that the anti-inflation strategy of the United States should include:

* suppression of inflation expectations and stimulation of savings;
* reaching balance between budget receipts and expenditures;
* increasing the mass of commodities; and
* strengthening national currency by establishing an unconditional priority of inflation targeting over other government programs (such as military expenses, unemployment rate regulation, influencing the national currency market, etc.).

Will the U.S. assume such a pain by reducing spending and fighting the deficits? Probably not, taking into consideration the words of Sir John Templeton, the John Templeton Foundation, who said in 2005: “The psychology all over the world is that people will not re-elect leaders who want them to be thrifty. The voters will elect the government that spends more money.” (53)

Many analysts are pretty sure that the weak dollar policy is beneficial to the U.S. Therefore, whatever the authorities say, there will be no resistance to dollar depreciation on their part.

Most experts already doubt that the solution of the problem depends much on the U.S. and call for global measures. “We must reform the international monetary system,” Yu Yongding, a former Chinese central bank adviser, stated in mid-November 2009. “A good monetary system should make us confident. But we don’t have confidence in the U.S. dollar now,” he added. (54)

George Soros, a global financier, is convinced that we “need a new currency system and actually the Special Drawing Rights do give you the makings of a system,” he told the Financial Times.

The Future of the Dollar

The future of the dollar is in jeopardy now as it is evident from the article.

This subject is the primary focus of futureofdollar.com. We follow latest developments in this area and provide our readers information from reliable sources.

This analysis is prepared by http://www.futureofdollar.com 

Notes

(1)     Paul Krugman, Currency Crises, 1997;
(2)     Reuters, December 17, 2009;
(3)     budgetreform.org, December 14, 2009;
(4)     U.S. Department of Labor, February 5, 2010;
(5)     IMF, January 31, 2010;
(6)     The Department of the Treasury;
(7)     Merco Press, January 13, 2010;
(8)     Bloomberg, February 1, 2010;
(9)     Bloomberg, January 26, 2010;
(10)    Jan 2010 Beige Book;
(11)    Ibid.;
(12)    NAR, January 25, 2010;
(13)    Bloomberg, January 27, 2010;
(14)    Bloomberg, January 8, 2010;
(15)    Paul Krugman, Currency Crises, 1997;
(16)    Bloomberg, February 4, 2010;
(17)    FOX Business Network, June 24, 2009;
(18)    The Economic Times, November 13, 2009;
(19)    Reuters, October 26, 2009;
(20)    Bloomberg, October 28, 2009;
(21)    The Korea Times, October 28, 2009;
(22)    Reuters, December, 2009;
(23)    RB.ru Russian Business, September 1, 2009;
(24)    Bloomberg, March 24, 2009;
(25)    Bloomberg, November 17, 2009;
(26)    USA Today, March 25, 2009;
(27)    DealBook, September 7, 2009;
(28)    The Associated Press, September 3, 2009;
(29)    The New York Times, September 4, 2009;
(30)    CommodityOnline.com, September 21, 2009;
(31)    RosBusinessConsulting, November 6, 2009;
(32)    NEWSru.com, October 28, 2009;
(33)    Bloomberg, 26 October 2009;
(34)    Vedomosti, 28 September, 2009;
(35)    Bloomberg, 25 November, 2009;
(36)    ChinaPro.ru / Vedomosti, 25 November 2009;
(37)    The Globe and Mail, February 8, 2010;
(38)    Ibid.;
(39)    Ibid.;
(40)    Bloomberg, November 3, 2009;
(41)    Merco Press, October 29, 2009;
(42)    Ibid.;
(43)    Bloomberg, October 4, 2009;
(44)    Bloomberg, October 24, 2009;
(45)    Reuters, November 25, 2009;
(46)    Ibid.;
(47)    Reuters, November 2009;
(48)    Venezuelanalysis.com, April 17, 2009;
(49)    CNBC, October 14, 2009;
(50)    ArabianBusiness.com, October 11, 2009;
(51)    Bloomberg, November 25, 2009;
(52)    Bloomberg, January 5, 2010;
(53)    NewsMas;
(54)    Bloomberg, November 17, 2009.

US-NATO Missile Deployments Directed against Russia

February 18th, 2010 by Stop NATO

Istorijska demisija svetskog sistema i srpska kriza

February 18th, 2010 by Ljubomir Kljakić

1.

1.1. Kao što je poznato, pojam kriza ima široko, ali ne i sasvim precizno značenje. Svaka granična situacija, svako “stanje” nestabilnosti, rizika i opasnosti za neki, bilo koji, biološki, socijalni ili istorijski sistem, svaki sukob ili napetost od vitalnog značaja za pojedica, grupu, zajednicu ili čovečanstvo uopše, konvencionalno se označava kao “stanje” krize. Kriza je, dakle, “stanje” sistemske uzbune koje bezpogovorno zahteva odgovor sistema, odnosno donošenje odluke o aktivnostima koje treba da spreče negativni ishod toka događaja i da njegove vektore preusmere u poželjnom pravcu. Zato je svaka kriza istovremeno “trenutak” iskušenja, “trenutak” promene i “trenutak” koji oslobađa moć imaginacije. Kriza je granična situacija i raskrsnica, tačka preokreta i vreme odluke.

1.2. U savremenim jezicima, pojam kriza razvijen je iz starogrčkog medicinskog pojma krizis, κρίσις – izbor, odluka, sud, prosuđivanje, sposobnost da se donese sud, pravda, naročito božanska pravda. Reč je o derivatu starogrčkog krinien, κρίνω – razdvojiti, razlikovati, stanje u kome nastaje mišljenje. Ovo krinien, κρίνω, ima svoj koren u protoindoevropskom *krei-.

1.3. Postepeni transfer ovoga krizis, κρίσις, kriza, iz područja medicine u područje humanističkih disciplina može se pratiti od 17. veka. Kao pojam koji adekvatno imenuje turbulentne socijalne prilike, a naročito one situacije kada su ljudi prinuđeni na izbor između jedne od dve ili više radikalno suprotstavljenih mogućnosti, pojam krizis, κρίσις, kriza, prvi put je upotrebljen na samom početku svetske revolucije u drugoj polovini 18. veka. “Ovo su vremena koja iskušavaju ljudsku dušu”, prva je rečenica prvog od 13 borbenih moralno-političkih eseja koji su pod zajedničkim naslovom The Crisis, Kriza, objavljivani u Pensilvaniji tokom revolucije i rata za nezavisnost 13 američkih kolonija, između decembra 1776. i decembra 1783. Autor ove zbirke eseja koja je danas poznata pod naslovom The American Crisis, Američka kriza, bio je Tomas Pejn.

1.4. Ciklus ekonomskih poremećaja na evro-američkom tržištu 1815, 1825, 1836 i 1847, uticao je posle Pejna na to da se značenje poma krizis, κρίσις, kriza, proširi prvo na ekonomiju – ekonomska kriza, kriza ekonomije, kriza poslovne konjunkture – a zatim i na celinu društva – društvena kriza, politička kriza, kriza morala, kriza vrednosti… Sa ovim novim značenjem pojam krizis, κρίσις, kriza, koristili su DŽ. B. Sej, Ž. Š. L. de Sismondi, T. Maltus, DŽ. S. Mil, K. Žigler. Niko od ovi autora, međutim, nije razvio i celovitu teoriju krize.

1.5. Osnovne obrise prve teorije krize i to teorije krize kapitalizma kao istorijskog načina proizvodnje, postavio je Karl Marks (Manifest komunističke partije, 1, 1848; Kapital I, 3, 1867; Kapital III, 3, 1894). Zbog važenja zakona tendencijskog pada profitne stope, za Marksa je kriza imanetna samom kapitalizmu, ona je njegovo unutrašnje sistemsko svojstvo, konstantno prisutna unutrašnja mogućnost i “stanje” koje se ritmički manifestuje u prostoru događajne istorije. Kriza je, dakle, zakonomerna. Javlja se u obliku cikličnog rasta i opadanja ponude i tražnje, ili kao periodična kriza poslovanja, ali se takođe javlja i kumulativno, sa punim kapacitetom, u onim retkim slučajevima radikalnog strukturalnog preokreta. Marks je identifikovao tri oblika krize. To su:

konjunkturalna kriza;

periodična kriza poslovanja ili ciklična kriza;

istorijska kriza ili kriza istorijske demisije svetskog sistema.

Zbog svojih različitih potencijala i različitih dimenzija koje zauzimaju na vremenskoj skali, ova tri oblika krize nalaze u odnosu međusobne interakcije kao tri blisko “pakovane” sfere. Približno u isto vreme kada i Marks, neki drugi autori takođe su u svojim radovima koristili pojam krizis, κρίσις, kriza (Meternik, De Tokvil, Kjerkegor, Niče, Adams, Burhard). Ovde je od posebne važnosti rad Jakoba Burharda, koji je u seriji predavanja održanih 1868. na univerzitetu u Bazelu, isto tako zastupao koncept istorijske krize kao krize kulture. Ipak, upravo je Marksova interpretacija krize presudno uticala na činjenicu što danas raspolažemo sa gotovo nepreglednom bibliotekom radova o tom fenomenu.

1.6. Za današnje rasprave o krizi od naročitog značaja jeste teorija istorijske krize koju su, tokom druge polovine 20. veka, razvili Fernan Brodel i Imanuel Volerstin. Iz perspektive svojih posebnih istraživačkih strategija, Brodel iz perspektive istorije kao integralne nauke o društvu, Volerstin iz perspektive teorije svetskog sistema, ova dvojica su razvili teoriju istorijske krize oslonjeni na tradiciju Vikoove i Mišleove nove nauke, na kritičku socijalnu teoriju koju je utemeljio Marks, na teoriju dugih talasa Nikolaja Kondratjeva iz dvadesetih godina, teoriju kompleksnih sistema Ilje Prigožina, kao i na glavne rezultate velike epistemolološke revolucije iz šezdesetih i sedamdesetih godina 20. veka.

2.

2.1. Ukoliko našu savremenu istoriju razmotrimo sa stanovišta ovih istraživačkih strategija (Brodel, Volerstin) i teorije istorijske krize koja je unutar njih razvijena, videćemo da se Srbija, uostalom kao i druge tzv.”nezavisne” države sukcesivno proglašavane na razvalinama druge Jugoslavije između 1991. i 2008, nalazi u “stanju” istorijske krize već 35 godina. Primarni razlog za ovu pojavu jeste činjenica što se u “stanju” istorijske krize već 35 godina nalazi čitav svet. Reč je o dubokoj, strukturalnoj, tranzicionoj krizi. Ona je oblik u kome se odvija aktuelna istorijska demisija svetskog sistema. Kako sada stvari stoje, osnovana je pretpostavka da će istorijska demisija svetskog sistema biti okončana oko 2050. godine.

2.2. Na peni talasa događajne istorije i unutar lokalnog horizonta, ova svetska kriza u Srbiji se manifestuje i odvija kao lokalna, specifično srpska kriza, kao decenijama dug lanac naizgled nepovezanih grupa događaja konzerviranja, refeudalizacije, dekadencije i urušavanja sistema socijalizma i federalizma, rata, “kreativne destrukcije” i “fleksibilne reciklaže”, evroatlantskih “reformi” i diskretnog uspostavljanja korporativnog poretka. Prostornovremenski kontinuum sa njegovim ritmičkim pretapanjem različitih istorijskih sekvenci i njihovih različitih ritmova istorijskog vremena sve ove grupe događaja organizuje u kompleksnu i jedinstvenu, razume se, “višespratnu” strukturu istorijske krize.

2.3. Posmatrano iz ambijenta naše lokalne događajne istorije, posebne sekvence ovog sklopa događaja izgledaju ovako:

a) Konzerviranje, fragmentacija, refeudalizacija i dekadencija jugoslovenskog socijalizma i jugoslovenske federacije, od 1968 – 1974. do 1980. Posle 35 godina (1945 – 1980), jedan istorijski period društvenog napretka i relativne stabilnosti definitivno je završen smrću J. B. Tita u maju 1980. U ovom periodu akumulirani su svi faktori neophodni za ubrzanje i dalju radikalizaciju krize. Ostalo je da se oni pokrenu punom snagom.

b) Unutrašnja i međunarodna borba za političko nasleđe J. B. Tita, od maja 1981. do 1990. Neobično kreativna decenija, koja je istovremeno i decenija urušavanja, truljenja i raspadanja jugoslovenskog socijalizma i jugoslovenske federacije. Lanac događaja koji će punom snagom pokrenuti sve akumulirane faktore neophodne za ubrzanje i radikalizaciju krize, a zatim dovesti do potpunog raspada dotadašnjeg poretka, pokrenut je krajem marta 1981. Tada je na masovnim, dobro organizovanim, antisistemskim (što znači antijugoslovenskim i antisrpskim) demonstracijama Albanaca u Prištini i širom Kosova i Metohije, istaknut zahtev da ova autonomna pokrajine postane “republika Kosovo”.

v) Svetski rat kao desetogodišnji, spolja inspirisani i spolja kontrolisani unutrašnji rata za jugoslovensko nasleđe, “nezavisne” države i rekonfiguraciju moći na tom prostoru, od 1991. do 2000 – 2001. Zanimljivo je, nikako i neočekivano, što je već u novembru 1991, na samom početku ovog skupa događaja, tradicionalno veoma dobro obavešteni Vatikan objavio da će se kriza i rat na jugoslovenskom prostoru završiti, a prostor početi da se stabilizuje tek onda kada Srbija bude “vraćena” u tzv. predkumanovske granice, odnosno u one granice koje su velike sile priznale kao granice Srbije na Berlinskom kongresu 1878. Docniji događaji odvijali su se u skladu sa ovom vatikanskom najavom. Za deset godina “putovanja” prema Srbiji iz 1878, ostvareni su svi strateški ciljevi rata: radikalna revizija poslednja dva veka istorije, naročito revizija rezultata Drugog svetskog rata, drugo razbijanje i subjugacija Jugoslavije u 20. veku, “definitivno” brisanje imena ove države sa geografske i političke karte sveta, razbijanje jugoslovenskog i srpskog etničkog, kulturnog, političkog i ekonomskog prostora, “recikliranje” tog prostora i njegovo preoblikovanje u ravnu i praznu ploču spremnu da bude ispunjena novim sadržajem, vraćanje Srbije u 1878, “izgradnja novih nacija – država” i nova konfiguracija moći na ovom “recikliranom” području. Za ostvarenje ovih ciljeva svetskog rata korišćena su sva raspoloživih sredstva, uključujući i prvu borbenu upotrebu NATO saveza u njegovoj dotadašnjoj istoriji, kao i upotrebu nuklearnog oružja (municija sa nisko obogađenim uranijumom) protiv civilnog stanovništva i vojske Republike Srpske 1995. Bila je to prva upotreba tog oružja u Evropi. Tako se sam rat transformisao u prvi evropski “nuklearni rat niskog intenziteta”. Vrhunac desetogodišnjeg svetskog rata za jugoslovensko nasleđe jeste još jedan “nuklearni rat niskog intenziteta” koji su kao “humanitarnu intervenciju” i “pravedni rat” SAD i NATO vodili 1999. protiv civilnog stanovništva i vojske SR Jugoslavije, odnosno Srbije, sa ciljem da slome njene moralne, odbrambene, ekonomske, ifrastrukturne, razvojne i sve druge potencijale, da razbiju njenu teritorijalnu celovitost i da nad Kosovom i Metohijom uspostave svoju vlast.

g) Spolja kontrolisani i upravljani proces preoblikovanja Srbije kao države i srpskog naroda uopšte u “podoban” korporativni entiteta prihvatnjiv za “međunarodnu zajednicu” od 2000 – 2001. do oko 2020. Ciljevi su “izgradnja” Srbije i srpskog naroda u “podoban” i “prihvatnjiv” entitet upotrebom bogatog kataloga “mekih” metoda pritiska (”dvostruki standardi”, “štap i šargarepa”, drugo), nastavak revizije istorije, “definitivno” vraćanje Srbije u 1878. godinu i njeno sledstveno “proglašenje” za “prihvatljivu” liberalno korporativnu državu – region veoma ograničenog suvereniteta na pragu Evropske Unije. Pod sadašnjim međunarodnim i lokalnim pretpostavkama, ovi ciljevi možda mogu biti ostvareni oko 2020. godine.

3.

3.1. Događaj koji sa naročito visokim stepenom uverljivosti govori u prilog razmera i stvarnog karaktera naše lokalne krize i njene periodizacije, odigrao se 17. februara 2008. Kao što je poznato, upravo toga dana, uz operativno sadejstvo lojalnih albanskih institucija privremene lokalne samouprave u Prištini, SAD su, sa svojim najvažnijim saveznicima, proglasile da je nelegalna i nasilna secesija Kosova i Metohije, južne srpske pokrajine, zapravo legitiman i legalan čin. U skladu sa tom polaznom premisom, dana 17. februara 2008, uz podršku svojih glavnih saveznika, SAD su proglasile ovu teritoriju za “nezavisnu republiku Kosovo”. Snagom očiglednog primera, taj akt agresije protiv teritorijalne celovitosti i vitalnih interesa Republike Srbije, pokazuje da su ciljevi desetogodišnjeg svetskog rata za jugoslovensko nasleđe o kojima je svet obavešten u novembru 1991, gotovo u celini ostvareni.

3.2. Naravno, do krajnjeg cilja, a to je korporativna Srbija u granicama iz 1878, potrebno je da se u doglednoj budućnosti uradi još po nešto na daljoj unutrašnjoj i međunarodnoj razgradnji te zemlje. To je osnovni razlog što je događaj od 17. februara 2008. na tako kristalno jasan način stavio do znanja svim zainteresovanim stranama da je danas Srbija među onim članicama Ujedinjenih nacija za koje međunarodno pravo praktično ne važi budući da se primenjuje ograničeno i samo uslovno, kao i da je ograničeno važenje međunarodnog prava u slučaju Srbije podređeno sili i arbitrarno iskazanoj volji SAD i njenih saveznika iz EU.

3.3. Slamanja Srbije 17. februara 2008, pokazuje da stvarni tok naše krize u najvećoj mogućoj meri zadovoljava kratkoročne i strateške interese SAD. Cilj jeste da se od Srbije, i to “zauvek”, što znači za nekoliko narednih decenija, oduzme Kosovo i Metohija – onih 15% ukupne teritorije Srbije koji je simbolički i istorijski temelj same države, ali i temelj na kome se zasniva srpski nacionalni, moralni i kulturni identitet uopšte. Međutim, Kosovo i Metohija nije samo to. Naime, južna srpska pokrajina isto tako je i područje sa značajnim prirodnim resursima – rude, minerali, voda, specifična biosfera – i privrednim kapacitetima – naročito proizvodnja električne energije. Privredni i razvojni potencijal ovih resursa procenjen je u trenutku proglašenja secesionističke “republike Kosovo” na oko 500 milijardi američkih dolara.

3.4. Ipak, to je samo deo onoga što predstavlja stvarni kumulativni materijalni i finansijski ekvivalent događaja od 17. februara 2008. Naime, imamo li u vidu da se neposredna i posredna šteta naneta Srbiji, tokom rata koji su 1999. protiv nje vodile SAD i NATO, procenjuje na više od 100 milijardi američkih dolara, imamo li u vidu neposrednu i posrednu štetu nanetu Srbiji tokom dvadesetogodišnje “tvrde” i “meke” međunarodne blokade i izolacije koju možemo proceniti na oko 500 milijardi američkih dolara (u proseku 25 milijardi dolara godišnje), onda sledi da stvarni kumulativni materijalni i finansijski ekvivalent za neposrednu i posrednu štetu nanetu Srbiji u vezi događaja od 17. februara 2008, iznosi aproksimativno 1.100 milijardi američkih dolara. Približno toliko platile su do sada SAD za ratove koje vode u Avganistanu od 2001. i Iraku od 2003. Naime, polovinom decembra 2009, dosadašnji troškovi SAD u ovim ratovima iznosili su oko 950 milijardi američkih dolara: rat u Avganistanu (odnedavno “preliven” u Pakistan, otuda se ova ratna zona naziva Avpak) oko 240 milijardi, rat u Iraku oko 710 milijardi.

3.5. Sledstveno, vojno-obaveštajni kompleks SAD koji se duž ose od oko 50 kilometara proteže od Uroševca i vojne baze Bondstil na Kosovu i Metohiji do aerodroma Petrovac, vojnog poligona Krivolak i samog Skoplja u Makedoniji, pored svoje primarne strateške uloge unutar imperijalnog sistema SAD od preko 1.000 vojnih baza i postrojenja širom sveta, ima takođe strateški zadatak da osigura i punu kontrolu nad ekonomskim potencijalom tog okupiranog područja. Finansijski ekvivalent ovog potencijala jeste onih 1.100 milijardi američkih dolara neposredne i posredne štete nanete Srbiji u vezi događaja od 17. februara 2008. Razume se, uvećan za nepoznati iznos posredne i neposredne štete nanete Makedoniji u ratu 2001. Ova izvanredno velika sredstva dovoljna su ne samo da se pokriju svi dosadašnji troškovi ratova koje SAD vode u Avganistanu, Pakistanu i Iraku, nego su dovoljna i za još najmanje dve naredne godine američkog ratovanja u Centralnoj Aziji.

3.6. Akt agresije i demonstracija grube sile od 17. februara 2008, rezultat je veoma dugo i dobro planirane, organizovane i pažljivo vođene operacije SAD i njenih saveznika iz NATO i EU. Reč je o operaciji čija “predistorija” seže u 1972. Njen kontinuitet može se veoma dobro rekonstruisati od marta 1981. do danas. Sâm savez SAD – NATO – EU počiva na strateškoj saglasnosti i zajedničkim korporativnim interesima unutar samoproglašene i neformalne tzv. “koalicije voljnih”: SAD, Ujedinjeno kraljevstvo, SR Nemačka, Francuska, Italija.

3.7. Brutalna vojna sila, uključujući i nuklearno oružje, svi raspoloživi kapaciteti obaveštajnih agencija i tajne diplomatije, psiholoških operacija, ratne propagande i subverzije, svi instrumenti političkih, ekonomskih, psiholoških i moralnih pritisaka i ucena, bili su sredstva koja je tzv. “koalicija voljnih” i njen vojni, politički i korporativni savez, formalno i neformalno predvođen i upravljan iz Vašingtona, upotrebio i upotrebljava – dosledno u skladu sa proklamovanim ratnim ciljevima iz novembra 1991 – u ovoj operaciji razbijanja i slamanja Srbije. Istovremeno, ova operacija jeste najpogodniji instrument koji tzv. “koalicija voljnih” i njen vojni, politički i korporativni savez koristi u poslu suspendovanja i rušenja svih instituta na kojima od 1945. počiva sistem Ujedinjenih nacija i poredak savremenog međunarodnog prava uopšte.

3.8. Godine 1999. cinično klasifikovana kao “humanitarna vojna intervencija”, operacija razbijanja i slamanja Srbije i danas se propagira kao idealni slučaj “dobrog rata”. Primajući Nobelovu nagradu za mir, u govoru koji održao u Oslu na dan 11. decembra 2009, ovu propagandnu legendu o vrlinama “dobrog rata”, naveo je kao argumenat u prilog svoje politike tekućih “humanitarnih vojnih intervencija” (Irak, Avganistan, Pakistan, drugo) i Barak Husein Obama, aktuelni predsednik SAD.

4.

4.1. Imamo li sve ovo u vidu, imamo li posebno na umu javno deklarisani ratni cilj iz 1991, kao i sve ono što je postignuto u ostvarivanju tog cilja, onda je logično što 35 godina od kada je dugi talas krize nedvosmisleno i nepovratno demonstrirao svoj potencijal, dakle od 1974, ni jedan od indikatora na osnovu kojih se ocenjuje stanje nekog društva i njegovi izgledi za budućnost, u slučaju Srbije nije, niti može biti drugačiji nego negativan. Dovoljno plastično, ovo dramatično stanje činjenica ilustruje bruto domaći proizod Srbije (BDP) koji je (i) u 2009. iznosio 65% BDP Srbije iz 1989. Drugim rečima, BDN Srbije u 2009. otprilike je isti kao što je bio 1971- 1974, dakle na samom početku krize. Prema projekcijama, Srbija može dostići BNP iz 1989, odnosno iz 1971- 1974, za 20 godina, dakle oko 2030, i to pod pretpostavkom idealnih uslova koji bi tokom ovog dvadesetogodišnjeg perioda omogućavali stopu rasta BDP od najmanje 5% na godišnjem nivou. Takvi idealni uslovi malo su verovatni. Srbija je, dakle, suočena sa činjenicom da je njen bezmalo šezdesetogodišnji razvojni potencijal (od 1971 -1974. do 2030) praktično poništen.

4.2. Logično je, stoga i razumljivo, što se pod ovim opštim uslovima rata i ratne politike koja se vodi protiv Srbije, svi posebni strateški sektori srpske države i društva i 2009. takođe nalaze u dubokoj krizi, a neki od njih i u potpunom rasulu. Tokom decenija krize, sistematski su uništavani, a najzad i uništeni, svi oni kapaciteti (moralni, industrijski, razvojni, tehnološki, infrastrukturni, naučni, obrazovni, univerzitetski, odbrambeni, finansijski, poljoprivredni…), mukotrpno građeni tokom 20. veka, na kojima je Srbija zasnivala svoju komparativnu prednost. Istovremeno, ni jedna od one četiri generacije moći koja je u ovom periodu bila ili je danas na vlasti (generacija 1968 – 1974 – 1984; generacija 1984 – 1987; generacija 1987 – 2000; generacija 2000 – ), nije Srbiji i srpskom društvu ponudila istinski novu, inovativnu i produktivnu strategiju društvenog razvoja primerenu izmenjenim istorijskim okolnostima, niti je takva strategija uopšte definisana.

4.3. Otuda je ono što se danas naziva ekonomskim sistemom Republike Srbije samo jedan groteskni “postmodernistički” konstrukt sklepan od ruiniranih ostataka ekonomije iz sedamdesetih godina 20 veka, tog poslednjeg velikog investicionog ciklusa koji pamtimo, od tzv. neoliberalne “doktrine šoka”, “deregulacije” i “privatizacije”, od opsena službene propagande o svetloj budućnosti “evro-atlantski integrisane” Srbije koja će doći onda kada Srbija “ispuni sve uslove” i, najzad, od vulgarnih laži. Svaki srpski grad, svaka varošica i svako selo pretvoreni su danas u tužne “izložbene” prostore za ovu grotesknu “postmodernističku” konstrukciju i njene brojne “spomenike” velikih uspeha deindustrijalizacije, deurbanizacije, deagrarizacije, demodernizacije, depopulacije, devastacije i demoralizacije Srbije. Jedina stvarna funkcija ovog grotesknog “postmodernističkog” konstrukta jeste da u Srbiji osigura optimalne uslove za najveći u istoriji prenos društvenog bogatstva, moći i vlasti u privatno vlasništvo malog broja privatnih osoba iz zemlje i inostranstva.

4.4. Ovaj najveći istorijski transfer društvenog bogatstva, moći i vlasti u privatno vlasništvo lokalnih kandidata za članstvo u ekskluzivnom klubu svetskog saveza moći (srpski političari i propagandisti, trgovaci, bankari i finansijski špekulanati, zabavljači i vlasnici medija, rentijeri, zemljoposednici i drugi novopečeni bogataši nedefinisanih profesija, kao lokalni “agenti” svetskog saveza moći na samoj njegovoj margini), izvodi se (i) u Srbiji po veoma jednostavnom obrascu. Naime, od početka devedesetih stidljivo, a od 2000 – 2001. sistemski i metodično, sa mnogo poleta i pod čvrstim međunarodnim nadzorom SAD, EU, Svetske banke i Međunarodnog monetarnog fonda, državna administracija (i) u Srbiji igra ulogu onog veselog Super Hika iz strip – serijala Alan Ford – nemilice oduzima od siromašnih da budu još siromapšniji i velikodušno poklanja bogatima da budu još bogatiji. Tako se uspostavlja idealni poredak namenjen (i) Srbiji. O tom idealnom poretku u Srbiji se istina javno ne govori, ali su zato na njegovoj igradnji angažovani sva sredstva. Idelni poredak koji je namenjen (i) Srbiji jeste korporativni poredak.

5.

5.1. Iz optike aktuelnog administriranja tekućom krizom bankarskog i finansijskog sektora širom sveta, a naročito u SAD i EU, taj poredak se danas kritikuje kao kapitalistički socijalizam – socijalizam za bogate i kapitalizam za siromašne, privatizacija profita i socijalizacija gubitaka. Isto tako, ima i onih koji smatraju da smo mnogo bliži istini o stvarnim svojstvima jednog takvog sistema ukoliko ga imenujemo kao liberalni fašizam (Johan Goldberg). Kako bilo da bilo, dva istorijska oblika ovog poretka već su viđena na velikoj sceni svetskih poslova – srednjovnjekovni korporativizam od 12. do 15. veka, italijanski korporativizam, poznatiji kao fašizam, u prvoj polovini 20. veka.

5.2. Da je korporativni poredak jedan od mogućih ishoda svetske istorijske krize bilo je jasno na samom njenom početku, tokom prve polovine sedamdesetih godina 20. veka. Tada su, naime, pokrenuta dva paralelna toka. Sa jedne strane bio je pokrenut proces erodiranja, urušavanja i fragmentacije autoriteta tradicionalne države, njenog suvereniteta i političke moći uopšte. Istovremeno, sa druge strane, pokrenut je proces horizontalne i vertikalne redistribucije i transfera ove fragmentisane moći na druge nosioce unutar pojedinačnih država, kao i proces konstituisanja novih struktura nad-državne moći na svetskom nivou – transnacionalne korporacije, regionalne političke organizacije, privatne vojne i bezbednosne korporacije, regionalni paradržavni entiteti sa njihovim vladama, svetski verski pokreti, megapolisi kao gradovi-države, najzad, na sceni istorije ponovo rehabilitovana imperija i imperijalna moć.

5.3. Nije trebalo čekati dugo pa da se povuče paralela između ovog savremenog fenomena i njemu analogne pojave koja je već viđena tokom istorije. Analogna, u istoriji već viđena pojava istovremenog fragmentisanja političke moći na jednom, a njene centralizacije na nekom drugom, horizontalnom ili vertikalnom nivou, otkrivena je u hijerarhijskoj strukturi političke moći evropskog srednjeg veka. Reč je o bogatstvu nestabilnih oblika fragmentisanog feudalnog suvereniteta koje unutar vlastitih granica kao granica samog sveta, u jedan uređeni svetski poredak integrišu, a zatim i garantuju njihove međusobne relacije, prava i obaveze, ona dva istovremeno konkurentska i partnerska imperijalna autoriteta, carstvo i papstvo.

5.4. Paralela između savremenog i feudalnog oblika istovremenog fragmentisanja političke moći na jednom i njene centralizacije na nekom drugom, horizontalno i vertikalno izmeštenom nivou, pojavila se već 1974. godine. Bio je to pojam refeudalizacija društva koji se artikulisao u gotovo idealnim laboratorijskim uslovima za posmatranje i analizu glavnih tendencija svetske istorije u tom času. Kao integrisani svet u malom, ove uslove obezbedila je tadašnja Jugoslavija u proleće 1974, kada je u toj zemlji na snagu stupio novi Ustav, a ona sledstveno bila transformisana u prvu federaciju novog medievalizma – kako će ova pojava povratka u već viđenu istorijsku prošlost biti nazvan tri godine kasnije. Pojam refeudalizacija društva bio je od 1974. pa do kraja osamdesetih godina 20. veka, u tadašnjoj jugoslovenskoj i srpskoj društvenoj nauci, čak i u praktičnoj politici, korišćen za imenovanje procesa fragmentacije političke moći, sistemski indukovanog konflikta između različitih nivoa suvereniteta i konsekventnog urušavanja jednog takvog poretka. Upozorenja o opasnim implikacijama ovog konstitucionalnog modela i toka događaja koji je on pokrenuo, ostala su bez ikakvog praktičnog odjeka sve do 1981 – 1990. i njegovog logičnog kraja. Taj proces istovremene fragmentacije i nove centralizacije političke moći pod drugačijim pretpostavkama i na drugom nivou, Hedli Bul je 1977, u knjizi Anarhično društvo – Anarchical Society nazvao new medievalism, novi medievalizam, novo srednjovekovlje.

5.5. U godini kada se jugoslovenska federacija kao prva, a do danas i jedina, federacija novog medievalizma faktički raspala – i možda upravo zbog toga – pojavio se i prvi svetski socijalni i politički manifest novog medievalizma. To je enciklika Centesimus Annus – Godina stota koju je pape Jovana Pavla II obnarodovao 1. maja 1991, na stogodišnjicu enciklike Rerum Novarum – O novim stvarima. Prava i dužnosti kapitala i rada, pape Lava XIII iz 1891. Umesto kapitalizma i socijalizma koje je svet upoznao tokom 19. i 20. veka, papa Jovana Pavla II u Centesimus Annus poziva na izgradnju korporativizama i sledstveno uspostavljanje svetskog korporativnog poretka za narednih stotinu godina. Kao što je već rečeno, u novembru 1991, Vatikan je objavio i svoju projekciju o Srbiji koja treba da bude vraćena u 1878. Visoki ideali novog medievalizma i novog korporativizma iz manifesta Centesimus Annus jasno se reflektuju u toj projekciji.

5.6. Da se međunarodni poredak razvija u pravcu neomedievalnog sistema, “neo-medieval” system, odnosno neosrednjovekovnog sistema, koji je, takođe, i više nego dobro došla mogućnost za rekonfiguraciju svetske moći i rehabilitaciju koncepta imperije, dokazuje i Entoni Klark Arent u Legal Rules and International Society – Pravila legalnosti i međunarodno društvo iz 1999. Drugi današnji ideolozi i zastupnici sistema novog srednjovekovlja, odnosno refeudalizacije sveta, ovaj proces istorijskog toka unazad zagovaraju kao doktrinu korporativizma novog srednjovekovlja, kao doktrinu novog medievalizma, a naročito kao doktrinu novog evropskog medievalizma, new european medievalism. Unutar ove doktrine ulogu imperije na sebe preuzima Evropska unija. Rehabilitacija uloge imperije kao nosioca i garanta idealno uređenog svetskog poretka ovde ima centralnu ulogu. Premda se pozivaju i na Hedlija Bula i njegovo Anarhično društvo, ipak, kada se malo bolje pogleda, svi ovi ideolozi primarno su zainteresovani za dalju operativnu “razradu”, propagiranje i širenje socijalne i političke doktrine manifesta novog korporativizma, enciklike Centesimus Annus – Godina stota pape Jovana Pavla II iz 1991.

5.7. Razume se, ne misle svi da korporativizam novog srednjovekovlja, odnosno svetski korporativni poredak, predstavlja produktivno rešenje za svetsku istorijsku krizu. Naprotiv. Na osnovu analize brojnih činilaca koji su 1973 – 1974. pokrenuli istorijsku demisiju svetskog sistema, Fernan Brodel je u jednom od svojih klasičnih dela (Civilisation matérielle, Economie et Capitalisme XVe – XVIIIe Siècle – Materijalna civilizacija: Ekonomija i kapitalizam 15 – 18. veka, I – III, 1979) zaključio sledeće: “Dvostruk ili jednostran, preokret iz 1973 – 1974. otvorio je put dugog nazadovanja. Onima koji su preživeli krizu iz 1929 – 1930. ostao je u sećanju jedan neočekivani uragan, bez prethodnog nagoveštaja, i relativno kratak. Sadašnja kriza, koja nas ne napušta, zloslutnija je, kao da nije uspela da pokaže svoje pravo lice, da pronađe svoje ime i model koji bi je objasnio i nas razuverio; to nije uragan, to više liči na poplavu s laganim i beznadežnim porastom vode, ili na nebo neprekidno prekriveno olovnim oblacima. Svi temelji privrednog života, sve sadašnje i prošle pouke iskustva, dovedeni su u pitanje.” (podvl. LJ.K.) Slično stanovište zastupa i Volerstin kada razmatra “opadanje moći državnih struktura svugde u svetu… rastuću nesigurnost i porast ad hok odbrambenih struktura”, i zaključuje da taj proces, ako se na njega gleda “analitički”, znači “povratak u feudalizam”.

5.8. U slučaju Srbije, Brodelov “put dugog nazadovanja” i Volerstinov “povratak u feudalizam”, naročito se dobro mogu dokumentovati ukoliko pobliže osvetlimo najveći u istoriji transfer ovdašnjeg društvenog bogatstva u privatno vlasništvo malog broja privatnih osoba. Već je rečeno da ova privatizacija društvenog bogatstva predstavlja glavni instrument za uspostavljanje korporativnog poretka kao idealnog poretka koji je namenjen Srbiji. To praktično znači da se najveća u istoriji privatizacija društvenog bogatstva, moći i vlasti, i ovde u Srbiji, odvija u prilog ne više od 1% i na štetu preostalih 99% njenih građana.

5.9. Jer, da bi se ostvario visoki ideal Srbiji namenjenog korporativnog poretka, a to je socijalizma za bogate i kapitalizma za siromašne, neophodno je da se obezbedi glavni prethodni uslov za konstituisanje i održivost onog ekskluzivnog kluba na čije se malobrojne članove prenosi društveno bogatstvo, moć i vlast. Ovaj glavni prethodni uslov jeste održavanje i podsticanje rasta visoke stope siromaštva i opšte ekonomske ugroženosti. Ne treba da nas čudi što se srpska država pokazala kao veoma uspešna u ovom poslu socijalnog inženjeringa. Uostalom, ona je svoje stvarne kapacitete i zavidnu efikasnost uverljivo i demonstrirala samo u ovom doslednom sprovođenju strategije državne proizvodnje korporativne moći. Ovo stoga, što je (i) srpska država danas u rukama onih koji operativno sprovode najveću u istoriji privatizaciju društvenog bogatstva, moći i vlasti. Taj delikatni posao na izgradnji korporativnog društva, daleko je odmakao.

6.

6.1. Tokom 2009, broj zaposlenih opao je u odnosu na 2001. za preko 173.000. Prema službenoj statistici, u 2009. bez posla je bilo oko 730.000 ljudi. Drugim rečima, stopa nezaposlenosti u Srbiji dostigla je 2009. oko 38%. Ovde je zanimljivo to što stopa nezaposlenosti od oko 38% sugeriše da je u 2009. gotovo dostignut jedan od strateških ciljeva Srbije iz 2005. Naime, dostizanje zaposlenost od 67% ukupnog radno sposobnog stanovništva u 2010, srpska Vlada i njeno nadležno Ministarstvo rada, zapošljavanja i socijalne politike proglasili su kao svoj glavni cilj u Nacionalnoj strategiji zapošljavanja 2005 – 2010 (sic!). Međutim, strateški cilj od 67% zapoposlenih, odnosno 33% nezaposlenih, koji su srpska Vlada i njeno nadležno ministarstvo projektovali za 2010, daleko je od toga da bude ostvaren u toj, ali i narednim godinama. Razlog je broj stvarno nezaposlenih u 2009. On je, naime, znatno veći ukoliko onima kojima službena statistika priznaje taj status priključimo i one statistički zaposlene koji mesecima, u nekim slučajevima čak i godinama, za svoj rad ne primaju nikakvu nadoknadu. Dodamo li svemu poluzaposlene, kao i zaposlene u tzv. “sivoj ekonomiji”, onda osnovano možemo pretpostaviti da ukupan broj stvarno nezaposlenih u Srbiji 2009. nije manji od 50% ukupnog radno aktivnog stanovništva.

6.2. Naravno, svi posebni podsistemi društvene reprodukcije – odbrana i bezbednost uopšte, energetika i energetska bezbednost, nauka, naročito istraživanja i razvoj, univerzitet, osnovno, srednjoškolsko i drugo obrazovanje, poljoprivreda, kultura i umetnost, sve grane idustrije, pravosuđe, finansijski sektor i bankarstvo, transport i komunikacije, prostorno planiranje, socijalna politika, zdravstvena zaštita, populaciona politika i drugo – takođe su zahvaćeni dubokom krizom. Neki od ovih posebnih podsistema sasvim su disfunkcionalni i nalaze se u potpunom rasulu.

6.3. Zato i nije iznenađenje činjenica da je prema službenim, ali ne i sasvim preciznim podacima, u Srbiji 2009. godine 9,2% stanovništva živelo ispod granice siromaštva (sa manje od 8.360 dinara po domaćinstvu mesečno), dakle u krajnjoj bedi, dok je ukupan broj siromašnih službeno procenjen – što znači veoma uzdržano i konzervativno – na oko 700.000 ljudi (od toga 300.000 dece). To je oko 20% ukupne populacije.
6.4. Razume se, na putu izgradnje korporativnog poretka kao kapitalističkog socijalizma, najveći u istoriji transfer društvenog bogatstva u privatne ruke odvija se kao jedna veoma diskretna operacija, sasvim daleko od očiju javnosti. Sledstveno, javnosti nije poznat statistički procenat i unutrašnja struktura, uključujući ovde i biografije, onih kojima je država Srbija kao veseli Super Hik, dakle pod više nego izvaredno povoljnim uslovima, omogućila da ovo bogatstvo prisvoje kao privatno vlasništvo. Međutim, ova nepovoljnost ne sprečava nas da vidimo kako se i ova državna proizvodnja korporativne moći, bez obzira na ekscentričnost jedne takve operacije, nalazi u interaktivnom, veoma “uravnoteženom” odnosu sa masovnom nezaposlenošću, krajnjom bedom i raširenim siromaštvom.

6.5. Obrazac državne proizvodnje korporativne moći prilično je jednostavan. Koncentracija pretežnog dela društvenog bogatstva, što takođe znači moći i vlasti, u statistički malom i sve manjem delu populacije, moguća je samo pod pretpostavkom da je u stalnom porastu broju onih koji žive u bedi, siromaštvu, ili su bez posla. Zato na osnovu poznatih parametara o bedi, siromaštvu i nezaposlenosti, kao i na osnovu uvida u komparativne pokazatelje, možemo izneti osnovanu pretpostavku, prilično umerenu uostalom, da procenat onih koji su privatizovali pretežan deo društvenog bogatstva, moći i vlasti ne prelazi 1% od ukupnog broja stanovnika.

6.6. Ima li se u vidu da je prema poslednjem popisu stanovništva iz 2002, u Srbiji (sa izuzetkom Kosova i Metohije, gde nije bilo moguće sprovesti popis) živelo 7,893.125 stanovnika po staroj metodologiji, odnosno 7.498.125 stanovnika po novoj metodologiji, onda to znači da u prvom slučaju 78.931, a u drugom 74.980 stanovnika sačinjavaju 1% onih koji su privatizovali pretežan deo društvenog bogatstva, moći i vlasti. U toj grupi, broj vlasnika bogatstava koja se mere stotinama miliona evra numerički je potpuno zanemarljiv, i verovatno nije veći od 100.

6.7. Između ova dva “čista” slučaja socijalne stratifikacije, između 20% najsiromašnijih i 1% najbogatijih (među kojima je i ne više od 100 zaista najbogatijih), “smešteno” je sve ostalo, preostalih 79% građana Srbije od kojih pretežan broj – ne manje od 80% tog broja – takođe živi u uslovima višegodišnje socijalne i ekonomske nestabilnosti, nesigurnosti, neizvesnosti i oskudice.

7.

7.1. Unutar takvog socijalnog ambijenta sasvim je prirodno što danas umesto javnost uopšte, i političke javnosti posebno, imamo tabloidnu javnost i korporativnu politiku, jednu banalnu, zaglupljujuću, primitivno agresivnu i apsolutno kontrolisanu scenu vulgarne političke propagande kojom kao manipulisani manipulatori manipulišu partijske oligarhije u savezu sa korporativnim kapitalom i svojim međunarodnim nadzornicima. Isto tako, sasvim je logično i stoga razumljivo i to da se pod ovim pretpostavkama Srbija oblikuje u papirnatu propagandnu simulaciju, u razuzdani zabavni park i džinovski tržni centar pod vedrim nebom za beslovesno, divlje, razume se siromašno, ali zato veselo i dobroćudno domorodačko stanovništvo i dokone namernike iz belog sveta željne jeftine egzotične zabave za jednu noć.

7.2. Planetarni poredak “uspona beznačajnosti” o kome je pisao Kornelijus Kastorijadis (”… raspad se vidi posvuda, poglavito u nestajanju značenja, u gotovo potpunom iščeznuću vrijednosti…”), jeste i u slučaju Srbije jedini stvarni socijalni, moralni, kulturni i antropološki učinak naše tridesetpetogodišnje krize. Kao i svugde u svetu, tako i ovde u Srbiji, glavni lokalni nosioci i garanti ovdašnjeg poretka “uspona beznačajnosti” jesu oni veseli, bezbrižni, nekompetentni i na različite načine korumpirani i ucenjeni pripadnici četiri generacije moći (generacija 1968 – 1974 – 1984; generacija 1984 – 1987; generacija 1987 – 2000; generacija 2000 – ) sa vrha ovdašnje socijalne piramide. Reč je o onima koji su tokom proteklih 35 godina krize prvo samo upravljali ukupnim društvenim bogatstvom, a od 2000 – 2001. uveliko i rade na sistemskom sprovođenju i obezbeđivanju u istoriji najvećeg prenosa ukupnog društvenog bogatstva, moći i vlasti u ruke malog broja privatnih osoba iz zemlje i inostranstva.

7.3. Sledstveno, nije poznato da je bilo ko od pripadnika ove četiri generacije moći, bez obzira na njihove međusobne ideološke, interesne ili samo generacijske sporove i sukobe, tokom čitavog perioda od 35 godina, uopšte koristio pojam kriza za imenovanje stvarnog stanja socijalnih činjenica. Poznato je, međutim, to da su bez obzira na krupne međusobne razlike, pripadnici sve ove četiri generacije moći, kad god su bili u prilici, a to znači tokom čitavog perioda tridesetpetogodišnje krize, preduzimali sve čime su raspolagali ili da onemoguće, ili da na različite načine diskredituju i neutrališu, ili da u skladu sa svojim trenutnim interesima preusmere svaku javnu kritičku raspravu o krizi, njenim korenima i mogućnostima da se iz nje izađe. Sistematsko propagiranje iluzije o najboljem od svih svetova i širenje optimizma bez ikakvog pokrića u stvarnom životu, takođe je nešto što su kao instrumente vladanja podjednako uspešno koristili i koriste pripadnici sve ove četiri generacije moći.

7.4. Postoji uverenje, veoma rasprostranjeno uostalom, da je naša istorijska kriza takođe i naš ekskluzivni, lokalni “proizvod”, da smo za sve što nam se u istoriji dogodilo, pa tako i za krizu odgovorni sami, kao narod i kao građani, dakle kolektivno. Koreni ove kolektivne odgovornosti otkriveni su u srpskom “nacionalnom mentlitetu”, odnosno antropološkim svojstvima Srba kao naroda i kao nacije – kolektivna zaostalost, nesposobnost, lenjost, glupost, korumpiranost, lakovernost, moralni pad, pogrešne odluke koje su donošene u svim prelomnim trenutcima istorije… Isto tako, postoji i mišljenje da su za krizu i njene razmere jedino odgovorni ovdašnji pripadnici one četiri generacije moći tokom proteklih 35 godina. Iako oba ova parcijalna uvida sadrže izvesne delove istine, jasno je da nikako ne predstavljaju punu istinu o problemu sa kojim smo suočeni.

7.5. Ukoliko, naime, ove parcijalne uvide proglasimo za celu istinu, a onda ih ponudimo i kao jedine odgovore na pitanje o primarnim uzrocima krize, onda se ne postiže ništa drugo nego se demonstriraju kompleksne psihološke, moralne i socijalne posledice poodmaklog procesa identifikacije sa agresorom. Reč je o pristajanju na parcijalnu, redukovanu, najzad i pervertiranu recepciju stvarnosti i svesno ignorisanje dostupnih, a naročito neprijatnih činjenica. Tada za agresiju nije odgovoran agresor, nego onaj ko je žrtva agresije. Ovaj oblik individualne i socijalne dezorijentacije u novije vreme naziva se punktualna dezorijentacija.

7.6. Dostupne činjenice, međutim, veoma uverljivo pokazuju da su primarni uzroci krize sa kojom imamo posla mnogo složeniji nego što se to vidi na prvi pogled, na površini i unutar horizonta lokalnih događaja. Pogledamo li malo bolje oko sebe, uz uslov da smo stekli imunitet na proces identifikacije sa agresorom, da smo izbegli zavodljive zamke “punktualne dezorijentacije” i da nas nije korumpirao vladajući poredak “uspona beznačajnosti”, onda jasno vidimo da naše tridesetpetogodišnje “stanje” permanentne krize nije nikakvo ekskluzivno svojstvo ni Srbije kao države, ni Srba kao naroda i kao građana. Vidimo, naime, da je naše “stanje” permanentne krize jedan poseban oblik, istorijski svakako specifičan oblik, u kome se u našim lokalnim uslovima, kao što je to već rečeno, manifestuje tekuća istorijska demisija svetskog sistema. Zato je (i) naša kriza, kao lokalni oblik tranzicione krize sveta, posledica kumulativnog delovanja ekstremno kompleksnog skupa istorijskih činilaca. I zato kriza ima totalni karakter i bezbrojno mnogo oblika koji se punom snagom manifestuju u slučaju svakog pojedica, svake socijalne grupe i na svim nivoima društvene organizacije i reprodukcije.

8.

8.1. Aktuelnu krizu sveta, pa sledstveno i svaku lokalnu krizu, razume se i srpsku, pokrenuo je, presudno utiče na njenu dinamiku, tok i ishod, onaj tako redak preokret u istoriji kao što je to “trenutak” u kome je nepovratno pokrenuta istorijska demisija svetskog sistema. Činjenice, naime, nedvosmisleno potvrđuju da se od 1971 – 1974, svetsko i svako pojedinačno lokalno društvo nalazi u “stanju” istorijske demisije svetskog (kapitalističkog) sistema, odnosno u onom “stanju” u kome je izvesno jedino to da je razlaganje i urušavanje samog svetskog sistema proces koji se ne može zaustaviti. To znači da se pred očima savremenika nepovratno urušava poredak reprodukcije moći, vlasti i bogatstva, koji je bio osnov i okvir sveta i svetskih poslova za proteklih 500 godina.

8.2. Reč je o poslednjoj sekvenci “životnog” ciklusa svakog, pa tako i ovog samoorganizujućeg istorijskog sistema – sistem se rađa, raste, postiže svoju idealnu ravnotežu, svoj ekvilibrijum, potom se ravnoteža narušava, sistem nepovratno zapada u “stanje” bifurkacije i krize, najzad i nestaje, a na sceni se konfiguriše neki novi sistem. Permanetna tridesetpetogodišnja kriza svih manifestovanih oblika, svih ustanova i svih bazičnih struktura sveta u kome živimo, uključujući ovde i antropološku krizu samog čoveka, ovo nepovratno razlaganje i urušavanje sistema, jeste osnovno svojstvo našeg “trenutka” svetske istorije.

8.3. U dosadašnjoj istoriji čovečanstva postoje svega nekoliko događaja koji se po svojim posledicama mogu meriti sa događajem čiji smo akteri i savremenici:

kriza 12. milenijuma pre našeg vremena koja je omogućila neolitsku revoluciju i njenu agrarnu civilizaciju;

kriza 14 – 16 veka koja je omogućila savremeni svet u kome smo živeli i još uvek živimo tokom proteklih 500 godina.

8.4. Ravnoteža svetskog istorijskog sistema kakav smo poznavali proteklih 500 godina nepovratno je narušena u “trenutku” omeđenom 1968. i 1974. godinom. Savremeni svet koji se na sceni istorije strukturirao tokom “dugog 16. veka” (1440 – 1630), zakoračio je tada, u “trenutku” omeđenom 1968. i 1974, prema “dugom 21. veku” (po analogiji sa “dugim 16. vekom”, “dugi 21. vek” jeste period sistemske tranzicije od oko 1974. do oko 2050) u kome će sâm nestati, dok će neki novi svet, ne nužno i bolji svet, “zauzeti” njegovo mesto. “Svetska revolucija” 1968, “Niksonov šok” od 15. avgusta 1971, koji je srušio međunarodni finansijski sistem Breton Vuds uspostavljen posle 1945, kao i “veliki naftni šok” iz 1973 – 1974, tri su događaja koja su neposredno inicirala i trajno obeležila ovaj neponovljivi “trenutak” istorijskog preokreta.

8.5. Drugim rečima, između 1968. i 1974, strukturalna nestabilnost i nepredvidljivost haosa zahvatila je svetski sistem i postala njegovo glavno svojstvo. Jedino što je još izvesno i predvidljivo u tom stanju haosa jeste to da je svetski sistem ušao u prostor svoje istorijske demisije, u poslednji ciklus svoje poslednje krize. Sve ono što je urušeni sistem sačinjavalo sada se “slobodno” transformiše, nastoji da se organizuje i da se u doglednoj budućnosti stabilizuje kao neki novi sistem.

8.6. Epohalna, i sledstveno univerzalna tranziciona i transformaciona kriza zahvatila je ne samo sve pojavne i svakom vidljive oblike svetskog sistema na globalnom i svakom lokalnom nivou, nego i njegov dobro skriveni i nevidljivi unutrašnji sklop. Kolaps svih sistemskih ideologija na kojima se od 1945. temeljio poslednji ciklus relativne ravnoteže svetskog sistema odigrao se simultano, za manje od dvadeset godina.
Između 1973 – 1974. i 1989 – 1990. dogodio se:

kolaps kenzijanskog kapitalizma,

kolaps nacionalno-oslobodilačkih pokreta,

kolaps socijalizma.

Istovremeno, ideološki i konceptualni prostor koji je ostao izpražnjen postepeno je ispunjavao, a od 1989 – 1990. i potpuno ispunio:
korporativni poredak.

9.

9.1. Period u kome je otpočela ova zamena ideoloških i konceptualnih matrica svetskog sistema manifestovao se u našim uslovima kao početna sekvenca naše lokalne krize čija je periodizacija predstavljena ranije. Za svetski sistem, ovaj period od 1968 – 1974. do 1980, takođe je početna sekvenca njegove vlastite, u ovom slučaju svetske krize. U oba slučaja, i na svetskom i na lokalnom nivou, kao odgovor na izazov “svetske revolucije” 1968, sistem je tada delovao unutar identičnog polaznog koncepta – nastojao je da primenom svih instrumenata koji su mu na raspolaganju povrati poremećenu ravnotežu, da se ponovo stabilizuje i da pređašnje stanje konzervira. U oba slučaja, konzervacija sistema vodila je u njegovu dekadenciju i urušavanje.

9.2. U takvom ambijentu, širom globusa otpočelo je traganje za modelom koji bi omogućio najoptimalnije okvire i instrumente za upravljanje svetskom krizom. Svi i danas aktuelni odgovori na izazove pred kojima se tada našlo i pred kojima se i danas nalazi svako lokalno društvo i čitav svet, bili su ponuđeni čovečanstvu ili su počeli da se kristališu u ovim događajima na samom početku svetske tranzicione krize. Vašington – glavni grad SAD, Moskva – glavni grad tadašnjeg SSSR-a i Beograd – glavni grad tadašnje SFRJ, bili su takođe i centri u kojima su profilisana tri glavne, razume se oštro suprotstavljene strategije upravljanja krizom.

9.3. Od 1971 – 1974 pa sve do 1989 -1990, protagonisti ove tri strategije intenzivno su odmeravali svoje snage kao u pravom ratu. Razume se, oni koji su i tada kontrolisali i posedovali pretežan deo svetskog bogatstva i moći, bili su u ogromnoj prednosti. Veoma upečatljivo, u polju događajne istorije, ovo stanje činjenica naročito trajno obeležili su: “svetska revolucija” 1968; “Niksonov šok” od 15. avgusta 1971; “veliki naftni šok” iz 1973 – 1974, vojni puč protiv legalne i legitimne vlade Čilea koji su obaveštajne agencije i korporacije SAD, uz operativnu asistenciju vrha čileanske armije, izvršile 11. septembra 1973; godina 1978. kao “godina tri pape” (Pavle VI umro je 6. avgusta; 26. avgusta nasledio ga je Jovan Pavle I, koji je umro već 28. septembra, iznenada i pod prilično nejasnim okolnostima na koje senku baca naročito skandal sa vatikanskom Ambrozijanskom bankom; njega je 16. oktobra nasledio poljski kardinal Karol Jozef Vojtila koji je kao papa Jovan Pavle II, na stolici sv. Petra osto sve do 2. aprila 2005); Margaret Tačer koja je 4. maj 1979. postala premijer UK, da bi sa svojom neoliberalnom politikom “tačerizma” na dužnosti ostala sve do 28. novembra 1990; smrt i sahrana Josipa Broza Tita, predsednika SFRJ, kao poslednji događaj svetskog poretka uspostavljenog posle Drugog svetskog rata, 4 – 9. maja 1980; Ronald Regan koji je preuzeo dužnost 33. predsednika SAD na dan 20. januara 1981, i sa svojom neoliberalnom politikom “reganomike” ostao na dužnosti sve do 20. januara 1989; inoviranje tradicionalnog strateškog saveza SAD – UK, koji će dominirati svetskim poslovima od 1980 – 1981, pa sve do kraja prve decenije 21. veka; smrt Leonida Brežnjeva, generalnog sekretara KP SSSR i prvog čoveka te zemlje, 10. novembra 1981; Jurij Andropov, koji je na položaju generalnog sekretara KP SSSR nasledio L. Brežnjeva, umro je 9. februara 1984; Konstantin Černjenko, koji je na položaju generalnog sekretara KP SSSR nasledio Andropova, umro je 10. marta 1985; položaj generalnog sekretara KP SSSR preuzeo je 11. marta 1985. Mihail Gorbačov, koji će podneti ostavku na dužnost prvog i poslednjeg predsednika SSSR 25. decembra 1991, u trenutku kada je SSSR prestao da postoji.

9.4. Za razumevanje unutrašnje logike takvog razvoja događaja, treba imati u vidu da je centralni interes inoviranog angloameričkog saveza “tačerizma” i “reganomike” bio i ostao da u vremenu turbulentnih promena svetskog društva, po svaku cenu, sačuva svoje mesto na samom vrhu planetarne piramide moći i da ovo stanje konzerviranja predstave čovečanstvu kao novi svetski poredak. To lepo ilustruje (i) onaj projekat o krizi demokratije koji je od aprila 1974. do maja 1975, u Trilateralnoj komisiji koodinirao njen tadašnji direktor Zbignjev Bžežinski. Izveštaje trojice na tom projektu angažovanih eksperata – Mišel Krozije, Semjuel P. Hantington, Johi Vatanuki – Trilateralna komisija objavila je u maju 1975. pod naslovom The Crisis of Democracy. Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission – Kriza demokratije. Izveštaj o sposobnosti upravljanja demokratijama za Trilateralnu komisiju. Bio je to pogled na krizu sa stanovišta interesa liberalno-demokratske frakcije američke “elite moći” (kako je Rajt Mils još 1956. nazvao vladajući savez moći korporativne, političke, medijske i vojne “aristokratije ” u SAD), ili američkog “saveza elita” (ako se oslonimo na model saveza moći koji je na primeru Nemačke razvio Fric Fišer), odnosno pogled na krizu iz samog središta “angloameričkog establištmena” (kako je Kerol Kvigli definisao savez moći vladajućih klasâ UK i SAD, kao i tradiciju tog saveza u 19. i 20. veku).

9.5. Kako bilo da bilo, prvo je strategija novog međunarodnog ekonomskog poretka (čiji se centar nalazio u Beogradu) bila je neutralisana i predata istorijskom zaboravu 1980, a strategija novog svetskog poretka, sa Tačer – Reganovom konzervativnom revolucijom, neoliberalnom ekonomijom i korpotativnim društvom mogla je da se razmahne u “svetom ratu” protiv SSSR-a kao “imperije zla” i za apsolutnu dominaciju svetom. Pokušaj Mihaila Sergejeviča Gorbačova da ovaj tok događaja preusmeri 1989. godine, na samom istorijskom kraju SSSR-a, pokazao se kao sasvim neuverljiv, nedelotvoran i neuspešan. Najzad, posle samoraspuštanja komunističkih režima u Istočnoj Evropi i SSSR i preoklamacije o kraju tzv. hladnog rata 1989 – 1990, čitav svet biće za samo nekoliko godina integrisan pod pretpostavkama konzervativne revolucije, njene neoliberalne ekonomije i njihovog novog svetskog poretka.

Na veliku scenu istorije stupio je korporativni poredak sa svojim imperijalizam.

9.6. Sa neoliberalnom ekonomijom koju je proglasio za supstitut milenarističke ideje spasa i neoliberalnom proklamacijom kraja istorije, ovaj korporativni imperijalizam preuzeo je na sebe da sagradi jedan “novi svet” na čitavom prostoru koji je, zaposeo posle kolapsa tradicionalnih sistemskih ideologija. Međutim, ova izgradnja jednog “novog sveta”, bez obzira na visoke ideale u ime kojih se odvijala i još uvek se odvija (demokratija, ljudska prava, slobodno svetsko tržište), uostalom kao i sve druge “operacije lažnih zastava” – “false flag operations” u istoriji, nije mogla sakriti očiglednu činjenicu da alternativa koju je korporativni imperijalizam ponudio čovečanstvu jeste sve drugo, ali ne i alternativa za duboku strukturalnu krizu svetskog sistema.

9.7. Kao program imperijalnog spasa, taj “novi svet” samo je dodatno ubrzao auto-destruktivnu dinamiku svetskog sistema na izmaku. Ovo stoga, što je jedini stvarni cilj programa imperijalnog spasa i “novog sveta” izgrađenog na tim pretpostavkama bio i ostao beznadežno banalan – da za spasi, zaštiti, učvrsti i globalizuje samog sebe, sâm program imperijalnog spasa i njegove protagoniste.
Militarizacija svetskih i unutrašnjih poslova kao “meki” svetskig rat pod ideološkom zastavom neoliberalizma – koncept R2P (engl. resposability to protect, odgovornost da se zaštiti), “humenitarne vojne intervencije”, beskrajni “rat protiv terorizma”, tajne operacije”lažnih zastava” i “strategija tenzije” – glavni je instrument za za upravljanje istorijskom krizom sveta u intresu ove samoproklamovane imperijalne moći i to bez obzira na cenu koju u toj stvari ima da plati pretežan deo čovečanstva.

9.8. Zato u “novom svetu” koji se gradi na takvim pretpostavkama i nema ničega što u istoriji nije već viđeno. “Novi svet” korporativnog imperijalizma, jeste reciklirani oblik istorijski poznatog i već viđenog sistema za upravljanje svetskim poslovima u cilju zadovoljavanja interesa oligarhije koja nastoji da se uspostavi kao neprikosnoveni imperijalni autoritet za čitav svet. U ovom slučaju, to je savez moći koji je posle 1945. uspostavio i učvrstio svoju dominaciju nad SAD i najbližim saveznicima te zemlje, a već 35 godina intenzivno čini sve da osvoji čitav svet i učvrsti svoju globalnu dominaciju. Taj savez moći već je pomenut – “elita moći”(kako je vladajuću oligarhiju u SAD nazvao Rajt Mils), “angloamerički establištment”(kako je Kerol Kvigli definisao savez moći vladajućih oligarhijâ UK i SAD tokom 19. i 20. veka), “savez elita”(ako se oslonimo na model saveza moći koji je na primeru Nemačke razvio Fric Fišer).

9.9. Međutim, ispostavilo se da su rezultati programa imperijalnog spasa porazni ne samo za pretežan deo čovečanstva, nego i za same nosioce tog programa. Planetarne razmere neuspeha ovog angloameričkog pokušaja jasno se vide tokom proteklih 10 godina, od 1999. do 2009. Svaki od pojedinačnih slučajeva militarizacije svetskih i unutrašnjih poslova u obliku “mekog” svetskog rata pod ideološkom zastavom neoliberalizma to potvrđuje: Jugoslavija, Srbija i jugoslovenski Balkan uopšte, Bliski Istok, zemlje Latinske Amerike, Irak, Avganistan, Pakistan, Iran, Rusija, Kina, Azija uopšte, Afrika, ali i same SAD, i samo Ujedinjeno kraljevstvo, i sama EU. Militaristička strategija korporativnog neoliberalizma i njegove ekspanzije urušila se sama u sebe takođe za deset godina, od 1999. do 2009.

9.10. Veoma dokumentovano, ovo je pokazao kolaps svetskog bankarskog i finansijskog korporativnog sistema 2008 – 2009, indukovan i iniciran iz samog centra američkog i svetskog bankarstva (sistem centralnog bankarstva SAD, The Federal Reserve System, takođe poznat kao Federal Reserve, neformalno Fed, zatim i najveće među bankama u toj zemlji, Bank of America Corp., J. P. Morgan Chase & Company, Citigroup, Wachovia Corp, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Wells Fargo & Company i druge), a sva je prilika da će se to još jasnije videti tokom narednih godina. Jer, kolaps svetskog finansijskog i bankarskog korporativnog sistema 2008 – 2009, predstavlja zapravo slučaj najvećeg i najbržeg pojedinačnog prelivanja bogatstva, moći i vlasti iz javnog u privatni sektor koje je ikada viđeno u ljudskoj istoriji.

10.

10.1. Razume se, najveća privatizacija bogatstva u istoriji bila je, takođe, sprovedena po onom već pominjanom jednostavnom obrascu – izvršna, zakonodavna i sudska vlast u službi korporacija, odlučno i bez kompromisa, kao Super Hik, oduzima od siromašnih da budu još siromašniji i sa beskrajno mnogo dobre volje poklanja bogatima da budu još bogatiji. Sasvim u skladu sa osnovnim postulatom korporativnog poretka i njegovog režima kapitalističkog socijalizma – privatizacija profita, socijalizacija gubitaka – gubici bankarskog i finansijskog sektora od čak 6.000 milijardi, odnosno 6 bilijardi američkih dolara (6, 000.000.000.000 USD) u “kontaminiranim” hartijama od vrednosti (tzv. derivati, krediti, drugo) u 2008, socijalizovani su 2009. tako što je proglašeno da je taj gigantski novčani balon jednostavno “nestao” (!?). Istovremeno, američka država omogućila je bankarskim i drugim finansijskim alhemičarima koji su izveli ovaj spektakularni eksperiment da profitiraju poklonivši im na ime subvencija u uslovima krize čitavih 787 milijardi američkih dolara (787,000.000.000 USD) zdravog novca.

10.2. U ovom našem, najboljem od svih “novih svetova”, glavni uslovi za uspeh tog transfera jeste da se siromaštvo globalizuje, a da se globalno bogatstvo privatizuje od strane sve manjeg i manjeg broja privatnih osoba. Oba ova uslova su zadovoljena. Na osnovu pojedinačne dnevne potrošnje izražene u američkim dolarima (po kursu iz 2005), od 6,707.000.000 ljudi koji su nastanjivali Zemlju 2008. godine, čitavih 80% ili ukupno 5,140.000.000 ljudi, živelo je u uslovima endemskog siromaštva i kranje bede. Prema pokazateljima Svetske banke, skala globalizovanog siromaštva za 2008. izgledala je ovako:

0,88 milijardi ljudi (880,000.000), ili 13% svetske populacije, 1 USD dnevno, ispod linije siromaštva;

1,40 milijardi ljudi (1,400.000.000), ili 22% svetske populacije, 1,25 USD dnevno;

1,72 milijardi ljudi (1,720.000.000), ili 26% svetske populacije, 1,45 USD dnevno;

2,60 milijardi ljudi (2,600.000.000), ili 40% svetske populacije, 2,00 USD dnevno;

3,14 milijarde ljudi (3,140.000.000) ili 48% svetske populacije2,50 USD dnevno;

5,14 milijardi ljudi (5,140.000.000) ili 80% svetske populacije, 10 USD$ dnevno.

10.3. Zadražavanje 80% svetske populacije u uslovima endemskog siromaštva i krajnje bede, ali i podsticanje dalje, ubrzane globalizacije siromaštva, uslov je za udoban život 20% svetske populacije, odnosno 1,567.000.000 ljudi. To je onaj deo svetske populacije koji se u novije vreme naziva “zlatna milijarda”.

10.4. U stvarnosti, i “zlatna milijarda” je stratifikovana po istom obrazcu piramidalne strukture kao i čitavo svetsko ili svako lokalno društvo. Prema izveštaju Programa za razvoj UN, UN Development Program, ukupna pojedinačna bogatstva 225 najbogatijih pojedinaca na svetu, iznosila su 1999, čitavih 1.000 milijardi, odnosno 1 bilion američkih dolara (1,000.000.000.000 USD) godišnje, što odgovara ukupnom bruto nacionalnom dohotku 2,5 milijarde najsiromašnijih stanovnika planete. Ova proporcionalna nejednakost nije smanjena tokom proteklih deset godina. Naprotiv, mogla je samo da poraste. U studiji Uspon korporativne globalne moći – The Rise of Corporate Global Power iz decembra 2000, analiza 200 najvećih transnacionalnih korporacija pokazala je da su od 100 najsnažnijih svetskih ekonomija, čak 53 korporacije, a tek 47 države.

10.5. Istraživanje The World Distribution of Household Wealth, Svetska distribucija bogatstva po domaćinstvima, iz 2006 – za koje se kaže da je najobimnije istraživanje ličnog bogatstva koje je ikada preduzeto – navodi da je u svetu, prema podacima za 2000, bilo ukupno 13,568.229 dolarskih milionera, ali svega 499 dolarskih milijardera. Ovde se takođe kaže i to da je 2000, od punoletnog dela svetske populacije (oko 3,5 milijarde) svega 1% (oko 35,000.000) posedovao 40% svetske imovine, dok je čitavih 85% ukupne svetske imovine bio u vlasništvu svega 10% (oko 350,000.000) od ukupnog broja punoletnih. Donja granica vrednosti imovine koja nekoga kvalifikuje za članstvo u grupi od 1% najbogatijih, iznosi 500.000 američkih dolara neto, što je za 13.000 puta više od imovine prosečnog pripadnika grupe od 10% onih koji se nalaze na dnu ove lestvice svetskog bogatstva po domaćinstvu. Da bi neko bio član znatno brojnije grupe od 10% najbogatijih, neophodno je da poseduje imovinu od najmanje 61.000 američkih dolara neto, što je za 3.000 puta više od od imovine prosečnog pripadnika grupe od 10% onih sa dna ove svetske lestvice bogatstva. “Zlatna milijarda” nije samo puka metafora.

10.6. Naravno, niko nije niti može biti pošteđen u procesu globalizacije siromaštva. Čak ni oni delovi sveta iz kojih je ovaj sled događaja i pokrenut. Novembra 2009, vlasti SAD saopštile su da je 13,2 % stanovništva, odnosno oko 40 miliona građana te zemlje, klasifikovano među one koji žive ispod linije siromaštva. Navodi se, istovremeno, da čak 60% stanovnika SAD, živi u uslovima trajne ekonomske nestabilnosti, zbog čega se svako od ovih 60% stanovnika SAD u nekom trenutku svog života između 25 i 75 godine, najmanje godinu dana nalazi ispod linije siromaštva. Na kraju 2009, New York Times je saopštio da 1 od svakih 8 stanovnika SAD, što znači 12,5% ukupne populacije, svakodnevno koristi bonove za hranu u javnim kuhinjama za siromašne. Prema istraživanju Eurobarometra, u oktobru 2009, u EU se ispod linije siromaštva nalazilo 16% ukupne populacije Unije, odnosno 80 miliona ljudi. Projekcije kažu da će do 2014. broj onih koji u EU žive ispod linije siromaštva porasti za novih 50 miliona ljudi.

10.7. Kriza, a naročiti kriza istorijske demisije svetskog sistema, ne može se kontrolisati i usmeravati tako što se dodatno i svesno produbljuje. Zaista, u pravu je bio Dvajt Ajzenhauer, kada je 17. januara 1961, obraćajući se domaćoj i međunarodnoj javnosti poslednji put u funkciji predsednika SAD, kao najveću opasnost koja preti toj zemlji – konsekventno i čitavom svetu – označio tamošnji vojno-industrijski kompleks. Ajzenhauer je svojim sugrađanima i svom nasledniku savetovao da taj gigantski oktopod osamostaljenog saveza moći neodložno rasformiraju, reformišu i stave pod čvrstu demokratsku kontrolu. Ovaj savet stigao je prekasno.

10.8. Moć osamostaljenog vojno-industrijskog kompleksa SAD iz 1961. transformisana je u današnje strukture moći i dominacije korporativnog imperijalizma koje sprovode strategiju militarizacije svetskih i unutrašnjih poslova, vode “meki” rat za svetsku dominaciju pod ideološkom zastavom neoliberalizma, uspostavljaju “novi svet” kao globalni korporativni poredak i sprovode najveću pljačku svetskog bogatstva u istoriji.

“Novi svet” koji je korporativni imperijalizam nametnuo čovečanstvu jeste tempirana bomba.

11.

11.1. Nepovratno pokrenuta punom snagom 1971 – 1974, kriza sveta koja prati istorijsku demisiju svetskog sistema još nije završena. Koliko danas znamo, sa visokim stepenom varovatnoće možemo pretpostaviti da će ukupni potencijal krize sveta biti iscrpljen oko 2050. godine, naime tek onda kada se okonča ovaj proces istorijske demisije svetskog sistema, kada stari sistem prestane da postoji i kada se na njegovom mestu uspostavi i počne da stabilizuje jedan novi istorijski sistem. Razume se, ukoliko neka kontingentna odluka, neki kontingentni događaj ili neki skup kontingentnih odluka i događaja sa globalnim posledicama ne onemoguće jedan takav ishod. Osnovanu pretpostavku da će se sa visokim stepenom verovatnoće svet stabilizovati pod pretpostavkama jednog istorijski novog, ne nužno i boljeg, svetskog sistema oko 2050, već tokom sedamdesetih godina 20. veka izneli su Fernan Brodel i Imanuel Volerstin.

11.2. Docnija istraživanja, uključujući ovde i najnovija istraživanja fenomena svetskog sistema, potvrdila su Brodelovu i Volerstinovu pretpostavku iz sedamdesetih godina. U novije vreme, čak su i neki od “graditelja korporativne imperije”, kao što su to Henri Kisindžer i Zbignjev Bžežinski, stavili do znanja da u izvesnom smislu dele ovo mišljenje o epohalnim razmerama svetske krize i perspektivama čovečanstva. Sledstveno, sa visokim stepenom verovatnoće može se pretpostaviti da će i Srbija izaći iz “stanja” vlastite istorijske krize i da će se pod pretpostavkama jednog istorijski novog, ne nužno i biljeg, svetskog sistema takođe stabilizovati oko 2050. godine. Razume se, ukoliko i Srbiju, zajedno sa čitavim čovečanstvom, u tome ne onemogući neka kontingetna odluka, neki kontingentni događaj, neki skup kontingentnih odluka ili događaja sa globalnim posledicama.

11.2. Zaista, naša aktuelna kriza nije obična kriza. Na sceni je kriza istorijske demisije svetskog sistema. Istovremeno živimo na kraju jednog, starog i na početku drugog, istorijski novog sveta. Naše vreme je (još jedna) nulta tačka istorije. Da bismo shvatili naš individualni i kolektivni položaj u ambijentu ove nulte tačke istorije, i što je još važnije, da bismo prepoznali naše ljudske izglede za budućnost, potrebna nam je velika slika sveta. Na raspolaganju su nam svi instrumenti neophodni da se ova velika slika sveta postavi.

11.3. Zato naš ambijent nulte tačke istorije nalaže preispitivanje celokupnog kataloga operativnih pojmova i teorija na kojima počiva korporatovni poredak “novog sveta “. Od istinske egzistencijale važnosti jeste radikalno kritičko preispitivanje svih struktura moći i dominacije koje nemilice reprodukuju procese propadanja i devastacije čovečanstva i svake od lokalnih zajednica koje ga sačinjavaju – korporativni imperijalizam, “novi svet” kao svetski korporativni poredak, militarizacija svetskih i unutrašnjih poslova, “meki” svetski rat za svetsko dominaciju pod ideološkom zastavom neoliberalizma, najveća pljačka svetskog bogatstva u istoriji…

11.4. U ovom preduzeću velikog preispitivanja, celokupno znanje sveta nalazi se na dohvat ruke. Slobodni smo da taj beskrajno bogati korpus upotrebimo, slobodni smo da artikulišemo strategiju za budućnost i slobodni smo da u skladu sa tim delujemo. Ovo preispitivanje uveliko je u toku širom sveta. Razume se, u okvirima srpskog kontrolisanog i manipulativnog prostora tabloidne javnosti i korporativne politike ovo planetarno preispitivanje celokupnog kataloga operativnih pojmova i teorija na kojima počiva korporativni poredak “novog sveta” ne nailazi ni na kakav odjek. Još više, unutar kontrolisanog i manipulativnog prostora srpske tabloidne javnosti i korporativne politike kritika korporativnog poretka “novog sveta” uopšte i ne postoji. Pojava je očekivana i za samu stvar nije od značaja. Sasvim u skladu sa izvornim značenjem pojma krinien, κρίνω – razdvojiti, razlikovati, stanje u kome nastaje mišljenje i njegovim derivatom krizis, κρίσις – izbor, odluka, sud, prosuđivanje, sposobnost da se donese sud, pravda, a naročito božanska pravda, slobodni smo da se kao slobodni ljudi i sami uključimo u to preduzeće velikog preispitivanja. Ovo su ponovo “vremena koja iskušavaju ljudsku dušu”. Možda još nije kasno da se isključi onaj satni mehanizam tempirane bombe u koju je korporativni poredak pretvorio čitav svet i svako lokalno društvo, uključujući i Srbiju. Među svim mestima na svetu, možda je u ovom času upravo Srbija idealno mesto da se tako nešto pokuša.

LEAP/E2020 is of the view that the effect of States’ spending trillions to « counteract the crisis » will have fizzled out. These vast sums had the effect of slowing down the development of the systemic global crisis for several months but, as anticipated in previous GEAB reports, this strategy will only have ultimately served to clearly drag States into the crisis caused by the financial institutions.

Therefore our team anticipates, in this 42nd issue of the GEAB, a sudden intensification of the crisis in the second half of 2010, caused by a double effect of a catching up of events which were temporarily « frozen » in the second half of 2009 and the impossibility of maintaining the palliative remedies of past years.

As a matter of fact, in February 2010, a year after us stating that the end of 2009 would mark the beginning of the phase of global geopolitical dislocation, anyone can see that this process is well established: states on the edge of bankruptcy, remorseless rise in unemployment, millions of people coming to the end of their social security benefits, falling wages and salaries, limiting of public services and disintegration of the global governance system (failure of the Copenhagen summit, growing Chinese/US confrontation, return of the risk of an Iran/Israel/USA conflict, wars worldwide… (1)). However, we are only at the start of this phase for which LEAP/E2020 will supply a likely timeframe in the next GEAB issue.

The sudden intensification of the global systemic crisis will be characterised by the acceleration and/or strengthening of five fundamental negative trends:

. the explosion of the bubble in public deficits and a corresponding increase in state defaults
. the fatal impact of the Western banking system with mounting debt defaults and the wall of debt coming to maturity
. the inescapable rise in interest rates
. the increase in issues causing international tension
. a growing social insecurity.

In this GEAB issue our team expands on the first three trends of these developments including an anticipation on Russia’s position in the face of the crisis, as well as, of course, our monthly suggestions.

In this public announcement, we have chosen to analyse the « Greek case », on the one hand because it seems indicative of what 2010 has in store for us, and on the other because it is a perfect illustration of the way in which news and information on the world crisis is moving towards « make-believe news » between blocs and interests which are increasingly in conflict. Clearly it is a « must » to learn how to decipher worldwide news and information in the months and years to come which will be a growing means of manipulatory activity.

Progression of the percentage of net new U.S. debt bought by China, net new U.S. government borrowing, percentage of outstanding U.S. Treasuries owned by China (2002-2009) – Sources: US Treasury, Haver Analytics, New York Times


The five characteristics which make up the « Greek case » into the tree with which one tries to hide the forest

Let’s take a look at the « Greek case » which has concerned the media and experts for several weeks now. Before entering into the detail of what is happening, there are five key points to our anticipation on the subject:

1. As we stated in our anticipations for 2010, which appeared in the last GEAB issue (GEAB N°41, the Greek problem will have disappeared from the international media’s radar several weeks from now. It is the tree used to hide both a forest of much more dangerous sovereign debt (to be precise that of Washington and London) and the beginning of a further fall in the world economy, led by the United States (2).

2. The Greek problem is an internal issue for the Eurozone and the EU, and the current situation provides, at last, a unique occasion for the Eurozone leaders to require Greece (a case of « failed enlargement » since 1982) to leave its feudal political and economic system behind. The other Eurozone countries, led by Germany, will do the necessary to make Greek leaders bring their country into the XXIst century in exchange for their help, at the same time making use of the fact that Greece only represents 2.5% of Eurozone GDP (3) to test the stabilisation mechanisms that the Eurozone needs in times of crisis (4).

3. Ango-Saxon leaders and media are using the current situation (just like last year with the so-called banking tsunami coming from Eastern Europe which was going to carry the Eurozone away with it (5)) to hide the catastrophic progression of their economies and public debt and attempt to weaken the attractiveness of the Eurozone at a time when the USA and the United Kingdom have increasing difficulty in attracting the capital which they so desperately need. At the same time Washington and London (which, since the coming into effect of the Lisbon Treaty is completely excluded from any management of the Euro) would be overjoyed to see the IMF, which they control completely (6), brought into Eurozone management.

4. Eurozone leaders are very happy to see the Euro fall to 1.35 against the Dollar. They well know that it won’t last because the current problem is the fall in the value of the Dollar (and the Pound Sterling), but they appreciate this « whiff of oxygen » for their exporters.

5. The speculators (hedge funds and others) and banks heavily involved with Greece (7), have a common interest in trying to bring about rapid Eurozone financial support for Greece, since otherwise the rating agencies will, unintentionally, pull a fast one on them if the Europeans refuse to dig into their pockets (like the scandalous actions of Paulson and Geithner over AIG and Wall Street in 2008/2009): indeed a lowering of Greece’s rating will plunge this small world into the throes of serious financial losses if, for the banks, their Greek loans are similarly devalued, or if their bets against the Euro don’t work out in due course (8).

2008 comparison of the deficits and Eurozone GDP of Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France and Germany – Source: Der Spiegel / European Commission, 02/2010

Goldman Sachs’ role in this Greek tragedy… and the next sovereign defaults

In the « Greek case », just like in every suspense story, a « bad guy » is needed (or, following the logic of an old-style tragedy, a « deus ex machina »). In this phase of the global systemic crisis, the role of the « bad guy » is usually played by one of Wall Street’s big investment banks, in particular by the leader of the gang, Goldman Sachs. The « Greek case » is no different as indeed this New York investment bank is directly implicated in the budgetary conjuring tricks which allowed Greece to qualify for Euro entry, whilst its actual budget deficits would have disqualified it. In reality it was Goldman Sachs who, in 2002, created one of its cunning financial models of which it holds the secret (9) and which, almost systematically resurfaces several years later, to blow up the client. But what does it matter, since GS (Goldman Sachs) profits were the beneficiary!

In the Greek case what the investment bank proposed was very simple: raise a loan which didn’t appear in the budget (a swap agreement which enabled a ficticious reduction in the size of the Greek public deficit (10). The Greek leaders at the time were, of course, 100% liable and should, in LEAP/E2020’s opinion, be subjected to Greek and European political and legal process for having cheated the EU and their own citizens within the framework of a major historic event, the creation of the single European currency.

But, let’s be clear, the liability of the New York investment bank (as an accomplice) is just as great, especially when one is aware of the fact that Goldman Sachs’ vice-president for Europe was, at the time, a certain Mario Draghi (11), currently President of the Italian Central Bank and a candidate (12) to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet at the head of the European Central Bank (13).

Without wishing to pre-judge Mr. Draghi’s role in the affair of the loan manipulating Greece’s statistics (14), one should ask oneself if it wouldn’t be worthwhile to question his involvement in the affair (15). In a democracy, the press (16), like parliaments (in this case Greek and European), are expected to take on this task themselves. Considering the importance of GS in world financial affairs these last few years, nothing that this bank does should leave governments and legislators indifferent. It is Paul Volcker, current head of Barack Obama’s financial advisors, who has become one of the strongest critics of Goldman Sachs’ activities (17). We already had the occasion to write, at the time of the election of the current US President, that he is the only person in his entourage having the experience and skills to push through tough measures (18) and who, at this moment, knows what, or rather whom, he is talking about.

With this same logic, on the issue of transparency in financial activities and state budgets and using the ill-fated role of Goldman Sachs and of the large investment banks in general as an illustration, LEAP/E2020 takes the view that it would be beneficial for the European Union and its five hundred million citizens, to exclude former managers of these investment banks (19) from any post of financial, budgetary and economic control (ECB, European Commission, National Central Banks). The mixing of these relationships can only lead to even greater confusion between public and private interests, which can only be to the detriment of European public interests. To begin with, the Eurozone should immediately require the Greek government to stop calling on the services of Goldman Sachs which, according to the Financial Times of 01/28/2010, it still uses.

If the head of Goldman Sachs believes he is « God » as he described himself in a recent interview (20), it would be prudent to consider that his bank, and its lookalikes, can seriously behave like devils, and it is therefore wise to draw all the consequences. This piece of advice, according to our team, is valid for the whole of Europe, as well as every other continent. There are « private services » which clash with « public interests »: just ask Greek citizens and American real estate owners whose houses have been repossessed by the banks!

To conclude, our team suggests a game to convince those who seek where the next sovereign debt crisis will surface: simply look for those states which have called upon Goldman Sachs’ services in the last few years and you will have a serious lead (21)!

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Notes

(1) The recent statements of G. W. Bush’s Secretary to the Treasury, Hank Paulson, about the fact that Russia and China plotted to bring down Wall Street in the autumn of 2008 show the extent of the big global players’ paranoia. Source: Daily Mail, 01/29/2010

(2) During the last four years our team has regularly exposed the anomalies in calculating US GDP. We will make no further comment here on this very « Greek » aspect of American statistics. As to the development of the American economy over the next few months, it is sufficient to note that the Truck Tonnage Index went into freefall in January 2010, just as it did at the end of the first half of 2008. Source: USAToday, 02/11/2010

(3) See the chart below which puts the « Greek problem » into proportion against Eurozone GNP.

(4) For which GEAB has emphasized the necessity for four years, as well as the wide public support (an average of more than 90% according to GlobalEurometre monthly polls) a Eurozone economic governance could count on.

(5) As a reminder here, GEAB N°33 was one of the rare media sources which, in Spring 2008, revealed the dishonest and manipulative aspects of the big fear of a « banking tsunami » coming from Eastern Europe which was supposed to carry away the Eurozone banking system. At the time, the Euro had fallen to much lower levels than those seen today…only to rise again several weeks later. For those who wish to understand the current media position, we suggest a re-read of the GEAB N°33 public communiqué.

(6) The fact that a Frenchman is its head changes nothing.

(7) Source: Le Figaro, 02/12/2010

(8) That said, media manipulation in this area is remarkable. These last few days one has seen/read/heard almost everywhere that huge sums have been bet on a fall in the Euro, some eight billion US Dollars. In fact this « huge sum » is only a drop in the ocean of the world currency markets which turn over several hundred billion USD a day. Source: Financial Times, 02/08/2010

(9) With the same highly constructive regard for the countries where it operates as that which led it, in the United States in 2006/2007, to provoke a fall, for its own benefit, in the value real estate based financial products which it had sold to its own clients.

(10) Sources: Spiegel, 08/02/2010; Le Temps, 13/02/2010; Reuters, 09/02/2010

(11) During Italy’s preparation for Euro entry, he was Director General of the Italian Treasury. Sources: Bank of Italy; Wikipedia; Goldman Sachs.

(12) Very strongly supported by the London and American financial milieux, to which we have already alluded several months ago in one of our reports… and, of course, by Silvio Berlusconi. Source: Sharenet/Reuters, 02/10/2010

(13) His strongest adversary is Axel Weber, current head of the Bundesbank.

(14) What would be surprising is that the European head of the bank making a loan intended to hide a portion of a country’s public deficit, and himself the former Treasury head of a neighbouring country, should not be aware of such an undertaking.

(15) And, considering his past positions, one can only appreciate his sense of humour when he calls for a reinforcement of Eurozone economic management. Source: Les Echos, 02/13/2010.

(16) Which, for the present, satisfies itself by copying articles from the Anglo-Saxon press casting the Greek case in the role of « wrecker of world markets » repeating at length that the Euro will fall… whilst it trades at a level which the same media thought it impossible to achieve only four years ago.

(17) Source: Reuters, 02/12/2010

(18) He belongs to that generation of Americans who built the « post-war US empire », who know its weak points and exactly how it works, contrary to Summers, Geithner and others like Rubin. Our team rarely compliments Barack Obama, but if he continues to listen to the likes of Paul Volcker, he is definitely moving in the right direction.

(19) Our team knows, from first-hand knowledge, that there once was a time, thirty years or so ago, when investment bankers would take action having the long term interests of their clients at heart. This period is long gone and now they only act in their own short-term interests. From this, we should draw the inevitable conclusions and exclude them access to key posts in the public service, rather than try and reform their behavior. If there were child investment bankers (as there are child soldiers) one could, perhaps, hope to save a number of them from their addiction to short-term profits, but for adult investment bankers, it’s far too late.

(20) Source: Times, 11/08/2009

(21) For the private sector, ask Lehman Brothers, AIG…they will confirm its accuracy.

Western Governments admit Carrying out “False Flag” Terror

February 18th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

Forget the claims and allegations that false flag terror – governments attacking people and then blaming others in order to create animosity towards those blamed – has been used throughout history.

This essay will solely discuss government admissions to the use of false flag terror.

For example:

  • The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected president
  • Israel admits that an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this)
  • The well-respected former Indonesian president admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings
  • As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960′s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings*

There are many other instances of false flag attacks used throughout history proven by the historical evidence. See this, this and this. The above are only some examples of governments admitting to using false flag terror.

You can’t call it a conspiracy theory when the government itself admits it.

And this is not just ancient history:

  • Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser – Zbigniew Brzezinski – told the Senate that a terrorist act might be carried out in the U.S. and falsely blamed on Iran to justify war against that nation

* Note: While the Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed for Operation Northwoods to be carried out, cooler heads prevailed; President Kennedy or his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara apparently vetoed the plan.

Africa’s Land and Family Farms – Up for Grabs?

February 18th, 2010 by Joan Baxter

Over the years many Big Ideas have been imposed on Africa from outside. The latest is that the region should sell or lease millions of hectares of land to foreign investors, who will bring resources and up-to-date technology. None of the blueprints has worked, and African farmers have become increasingly impoverished. It is time for Africans to turn to their own histories, knowledge and resources.

In the early 1990s, when I was living in northern Ghana, an elderly woman farmer decided that I needed some education. In a rather long lecture, she detailed the devastating effects that the Green Revolution – the first one, which outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 70s – had had on farmers’ crops, soils, trees and lives. She said that the imported seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and tractors, the instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people – even the invaluable shea nut trees – had ruined the diverse, productive farming systems that had always sustained her people. When she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin, “Why do you bring your mistakes here?” By “you” I think she meant the people – foreigners and Africans in their employ – who tramp all over the continent implementing big development ideas. These great schemes are generally concocted even higher up the decision-making chain in distant world financial capitals, often by free-market economists, bankers and billionaire philanthropists who wouldn’t know a shea nut from a peanut. 

At the time, I had no answer to her question. But now, two decades later, I think I do. It’s taken years of patient teaching by African farmers from Zambia to Uganda, from Kenya to Cameroon and Mali. And, most recently, it was all summed up clearly for me by members of COPAGEN, a coalition of African farmer associations, scientists, civil society groups and activists who work to protect Africa’s genetic heritage, farmers’ rights, and their sovereignty over their land, seeds and food. These knowledgeable people have shown me that the answer is quite straightforward: many of those imported mistakes, disguised as solutions for Africa, are very, very profitable, at least for those who design and make them. 

Not, however, for the average African farming family or even the average African whose interests, they would have us believe, are being served by the big plans for progress and development. There have been many such schemes over the years, nearly all of them promoting the unfettered free market and the re-regulation of the private sector; that is, the regulations that curtailed their cowboy capitalism had to be lassoed and put down so that new ones to protect their profitable stampede over the public sector could be put in place. 

Hence all those years of structural adjustment programmes in Africa, poverty reduction or alleviation schemes, the first Green Revolution and liberalised trade that cranked open Africa’s doors to the dumping on the continent of cheap imports and subsidised foodstuffs, which stifled African industries and undermined African farmers who, the same free-market gurus paradoxically said, should not be subsidised. 

Triple whammy

These monetarist schemes have helped to make Africa poorer and ever more dependent on foreign donor and investor capital, and thus more vulnerable to still more of the Big Ideas and never-ending plans to profit from Africa while pretending to develop it. So that now, even as Africans struggle to confront the triple whammy of the global food crisis, the financial crisis and climate change – all offspring of the unfettered free-market financial system – the same big planners are at it again with more of the same mistakes disguised as solutions for Africa. 

These days, they’re blowing a perfectly awful storm all the way across Africa, this one designed to strike right at the heart of the continent – its farms and the families and communities that work them, who account for 70 per cent of Africa’s population. If left to blow itself out, African farmers may find themselves, one day in the not-so-distant future, without land to cultivate, their social structures and communities destroyed. They may find themselves without seed to call their own to share with each other. The crop varieties their forefathers had developed will have been “improved” and then privatised by foreigners who claim exclusive rights over their use. Crucial water catchment areas and vast tracts of woodland needed to combat climate change will have been converted to vast water- and fossil-fuel-guzzling industrial plantations for food and agrofuels, all run by giant agribusinesses and foreign investors, absent landlords and bosses who may never in their lavish lives have soiled their soft hands in a farm field. 

The latest Big Idea is for massive “foreign direct investment” (FDI) in Africa, and especially African agriculture, by countries, donors, financial institutions, corporations, everyone who’s anyone in the upper echelons of the world’s financial architecture, anyone awash with capital on the look-out for high returns. The spin on FDI is that it offers Africa wondrous “opportunities”, a “win-win” situation, the only way to eradicate hunger and poverty. And just to make sure there’s absolutely nothing impeding the onslaught of investment, so-called donor nations, working in cahoots with their corporate partners, international financial institutions and development banks, are busy helping African governments to “harmonise” laws across the continent to “improve the legal framework for business”, to set up “one-stop shops” for investors, to “secure” landholdings by privatising them, and to open the doors for genetically modified (GM) crops and for the patenting of crop and tree varieties. 

Across the continent, presidents are toeing the line, going along with the spin, pleading for still more foreign investment, literally putting their countries up for auction. The Tony Blair Foundation, and indeed the former British prime minister himself, invited rich and powerful investors to a meeting of the special Consultative Group on Sierra Leone in November 2009, at which the impoverished West African nation was, in essence, offering up its resources on a silver platter to foreign investors interested in land, diamonds, bauxite … whatever the war-ravaged country still has left to sell. Apparently, however, the investors didn’t need to come to Sierra Leone to stake out their claims; rather than hold the Great Sierra Leone Sale in Freetown, the Tony Blair Foundation decided to host it in London.

School of neoliberal dogma

As if there were no tomorrow, African leaders, well schooled in the neoliberal dogma of the World Bank and Wall Street, are welcoming the land-grabbing “investors” who are flocking to Africa to acquire vast tracts of land to produce food crops or agrofuels, depending on which would be most profitable at any given moment in the market. Some are just speculators, plain and simple, grabbing chunks of Africa as an investment, the new favourite hedge fund. 

It is almost impossible to know just how much of Africa has been sold or leased out in the past two years because the deals are shrouded in secrecy and happening at such a pace that GRAIN works daily to try to keep up with the deals on its farmlandgrab website.1 More than US$100 billion has been mobilised in the past two years for investing in land, the trick being, according to one analyst “not to harvest food but to harvest money”.2 There are estimates that in this period, 30 million hectares (an area the size of Senegal and Benin together) have been grabbed, in at least 28 countries in Africa.3 Ethiopia is offering more than a million hectares of what it calls “virgin” land to foreign investors. Almost a third of Mozambique is, quite literally, up for grabs. It was just such a land investment deal between the South Korean company, Daewoo, and the former president of Madagascar, which would have accorded Daewoo about half of the country’s arable land for industrial monoculture – production of food and agrofuels for export to Korea – that contributed to the political turbulence and the overthrow of President Ravalomanana, and the apparent cancellation of that particular deal. There is sure to be more political turbulence and conflict, neither of which Africa needs, as Africans realise what is happening to their land and farms.

Along with the African governments and chiefs who are happily and quietly selling or leasing the land out from under their own people, those running the show at the global level include the World Bank, its International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and many other powerful nations and institutions. The US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is busy reforming landownership laws in its member countries and proud to be doing so, as I found out in their Benin office. Such privatisation threatens to destroy traditional communal approaches to land ownership in Africa, but it will make it easier to sell or lease land to foreign investors. 

Jacques Diouf, Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), originally called the land-grabbing a system of “neo-colonialism”,4 but since then the FAO appears to have joined the ranks of the World Bank et al., who support the land-grabbing and are working towards a “framework” that will promote “responsible” investment to make it a “win-win” situation.5 Which means, of course, that there will be lots of fancy rhetoric, lofty promises, high-level meetings and conferences, and business will continue as usual. Africans lose-lose, investors win-win.

Investors never have been, are not, and never will be in the business of helping hungry Africans to feed themselves and to solve the problem of food insecurity, which has been so aggravated by earlier Big Ideas to liberalise trade and revolutionise agriculture. The offshore farming of food or of agrofuels for export, or just as investment, is big business. For profit. 

The greenwash factor

GRAIN and COPAGEN say that those grabbing Africa’s farmland are as diverse as they are numerous. They note the complicity of African governments and say that some African “barons” are also snapping up land. Some grabbers are countries anxious to secure their own future food supplies, such as China, India, Japan and other Asian countries, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States and Libya. Other land-grabbers are buying and leasing vast tracts of land in Africa as a lucrative investment, or, as one analyst puts it, “an asset like gold, only better”.6 Among them are multinational agribusinesses, and investment houses, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, that cater to the super-rich. Others getting in on the new land rush are energy and mining companies, who greenwash their fuel-guzzling industrial plantation schemes in an attempt to cash in on public goodwill to try to tackle climate change with large-scale production of agrofuels from food crops such as palm oil, sugarcane and maize, or non-food crops such as jatropha. All of these require enormous amounts of water – and fossil fuels that cause climate change – to produce. And this on land that should be in the hands of farming families.

Ah yes, Africa’s farm families. Those are the people for whom there is another Very Big Idea going on. It’s the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which claims to be working in smallholder farmers’ interests by “catalysing” a green revolution in Africa. Yes, another one. AGRA’s Green Revolution Number Two is being bankrolled primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the Rockefeller Foundation, which bankrolled Green Revolution Number One. But it has roped in many major development banks, UN agencies and the CGIAR (among others) for the massive undertaking of revolutionising African agriculture. AGRA is run by several people with close ties to the biotech monster Monsanto, and, just like Green Revolution Number One, it recommends “modern” technological solutions such as imported fertilisers and purchased seeds. While it denies that GM crops are necessarily involved, the Gates Foundation has also offered US$5.4 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, a US institute funded heavily by Monsanto, to expedite the acceptance by African governments of GM crops for field testing.7 One does want to ask the worshippers of modern technology and proponents of industrial models of commercial agriculture and agribusiness why, when these are supposedly so productive, they are so heavily subsidised in Europe and the US. To render African agriculture commercially profitable, as AGRA aims to do, the Gates Foundation admits (not publicly, but in a leaked document) that it may eventually be necessary to promote “land mobility”, doublespeak for smallholder farmers being removed from their land.8

AGRA closes the gates

Before it set out to re-invent the African farm, did AGRA revisit liberalised trade policies that have suppressed prices for African produce and hurt Africa’s farmers? Did it examine the economic dogma imposed on Africa that destroyed agricultural extension programmes and reduced government spending on agricultural investment, research and infrastructure? Did it do its homework and take stock of the countless studies of the myriad advantages of resilient, holistic, small-scale farms that rely on the sharing of local seed varieties and traditional knowledge and crop/tree diversity and that reduce risks? Did it examine ways to promote and improve these environmentally sustainable systems? Did it pay more than lip service to the landmark study, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), carried out by dozens of scientists over many years and initiated by the World Bank itself, which in April 2009 concluded that agro-ecological agriculture by smallholder farmers was the best solution of all? The answer to all of these questions is: No.

More importantly, did AGRA even engage with Africa’s farmers and involve them in its big plans? Not according to Simon Mwamba of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers’ Forum. Speaking at a dialogue on AGRA organised by Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mwamba quipped, “You come. You buy the land. You make a plan. You build a house. Now you ask me, what colour do I want to paint the kitchen? This is not participation!”9

The experts and billionaires with Big Ideas that are bound to profit multinational agribusinesses, foreign investors, hunger-profiteers and greenwashers – all of whom masquerade as Africa’s saviours and mentors – have already drawn budget lines and battle lines in Africa’s soils, without bothering to inform Africa’s farmers of the intended fate of their land and their livelihoods. By any stretch of the imagination, it’s hardly a fair fight. On one side, many of the richest and most powerful people, institutions and nations on earth, working in alliance with African governments that toe the line. On the other, some of the poorest people on earth, African farmers’ associations and coalitions such as COPAGEN, and NGOs such as GRAIN,   Friends of the Earth in Africa and the African Biosafety Network, who are struggling to inform African governments about the high stakes of these schemes that threaten not just their food and seed sovereignty, but the sovereignty of their land and even African nations themselves. These groups would like African leaders to stop believing that wads of foreign cash and Big Ideas are the solution for the continent, and look instead to their own histories, knowledge and resources to promote family farming systems that offer a range of social, economic and environmental advantages over all those imported notions and plans spawned by free-market dogma and riding tsunamis of foreign capital. Put forward as solutions even though – as I learned all those years ago – they are often just very big and very dangerous mistakes for Africa.

Joan Baxter is a Canadian journalist and writer who has been reporting on Africa for over two decades.

Notes

1 http://www.farmlandgrab.org  

2 http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=212  

3 Patrick Piro, “La course aux terres ne faiblit pas”, Politis, No. 1029, 17 September 2009.

4 Javier Blas, “UN warns of food neo-colonialism”,  Financial Times, 19 August 2008.

5 Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Promoting responsible international investment in agriculture”, 29 September 2009: http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/economy/fishery/agriculture/investment.html  

6 Chris Mayer, “This asset is like gold, only better”, DailyWealth, 4 October 2009: http://www.stockhouse.com/Columnists/2009/Oct/4/This-asset-is-like-gold,-only-better  

7 Friends of the Earth (FOE) Ghana; Togo; Nigeria; Cameroon; Sierra Leone; Tunisia; Swaziland; South Africa; Mauritius, AGRA & Monsanto & Gates, Green Washing and Poor Washing, 6 April 2009: http://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/agra-monsanto-gates-green-washing-poor-washing/  

8 Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Gimenez & Annie Shattuck, “Ending Africa’s Hunger”, The Nation, 21 September 2009: http://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/agra-monsanto-gates-green-washing-poor-washing/  

9 Ibid.

U.S. – Iran Power Struggle over Iraq

February 18th, 2010 by Nicola Nasser

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill’s warning on February 18 that it could take months to form a new government in Baghdad after the Iraqi elections, scheduled for March 7, and that in turn could mean considerable political turmoil in Iraq, and the warnings of observers and experts as well as officials against the looming specter of a renewed sectarian war in the country, indicate that security, stability, let alone democracy, and a successful “victorious” withdrawal of American troops from Iraq have all yet a long way to go. A secure, stable and democratic Iraq will have first to wait for an end to the raging power struggle over Iraq between the United States and Iran inside and outside the occupied Arab country.

The Associated Press quoted Hill as predicting “some tough days, violent days as well, some intemperate days” ahead of the March 7 vote. The warnings raise serious questions about U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s statement a few days ago calling Iraq the “great achievement” for the Obama Administration. Neither Biden nor President Barak Obama are able yet to declare that the United States has won victory in Iraq. In 2007, both men advised the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, but former President George W. Bush opted instead for the military “surge,” which the Obama Administration is now “responsibly” drawing down. However, neither the surge nor the drawdown have produced their declared aim, a secure democracy; instead a pro-Iran sectarian regime is evolving.

The upcoming Iraqi elections, scheduled for March 7, have already embroiled the two major American and Iranian beneficiaries of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 in an open power struggle that neither party cares any more to contain within the limits of the bilateral tacit understanding on security coordination that was formalized through dozens of public and behind-the-scenes ‘dialogue” meetings in Baghdad between U.S. ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Zalmay Khalilzad and their Iranian counterparts, until the term of the Bush administration was over. This open power struggle indicates as well that the honey moon of their bilateral security coordination in Iraq is either over, or about to, a very bad omen for the Iraqi people.

Despite trumpeting the drums of war, the Barak Obama administration is still on record committed to what the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, described in the Saudi capital Riyadh on February 15 as the “dual track approach” of simultaneously massing for war and diplomacy given teeth by building an international consensus on anti-Iran sanctions under the umbrella of the United Nations. Adding to this the fact that Washington is restraining a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran and postponing its positive response to Israeli insistent demand for war as the only option, and the fact that the U.S. military in Iraq are capable of confronting the Iranian militias and intelligence networks inside Iraq, but choosing not to do so yet, are all indicators that Washington is still eyeing a power sharing arrangement with Iran in Iraq.

However, Tehran could not be forthcoming to forgo its anti-U.S. leverage in Iraq as long as Washington continues its current strategy to settle the scores of the U.S.-Iran power struggle inside Iraq by moving the struggle to the Iranian homeland itself. Moreover Tehran is desperately reciprocating this U.S. strategy by trying to disrupt the Arab launching pad of the anti-Iran front, which Clinton said in Riyadh that her administration is “working actively with our regional and international partners” to build, wherever Iran could do so, from the Palestinian Gaza and Lebanon to Yemen. Washington is exploiting “Iran’s increasingly disturbing and destabilizing actions,” according to Clinton on the same occasion, as an additional casus belli for convincing Arab partners  to join that front. U.S. and Iran are turning the entire Middle East with its Arab heartland into an arena of a bloody tit-for-tat game, with Iraq as the end game prize.

The wider U.S. – Iranian conflict in the Middle East is one over Iraq, and not over Iran itself. The Israeli and the Palestinian factors are merely a distracting side show and a propaganda ploy for both protagonists in their psychological warfare to win the hearts and minds of the helpless Arabs, Palestinians in particular, who are crushed unmercifully under their war machines, left with the religious heritage as the only outlet to seek refuge and salvage, while the 22 member states of the Arab League are cornered into a choice between the worse and the worst.

Expectantly therefore, Clinton had almost nothing of substance to say about Iraq during her joint press conference with her Saudi counterpart Prince Saud Al Faisal on Monday, who however, for explicit geopolitical reasons, could not ignore the Iraqi issue: “We hope that the forthcoming elections will realize the aspirations of the Iraqi people to achieve security, stability, and territorial integrity and to consolidate its national unity on the basis of equality among all Iraqis irrespective of their beliefs and sectarian differences and to protect their country against any foreign intervention in their affairs,” he told reporters.

But “foreign intervention,” or more to the point foreign U.S. military and Iranian paramilitary occupation, is exactly what would doom the prince’s hopes to wishful thinking.

The editorial of The Washington Post on January 20, headlined “Obama administration must intervene in Iraqi election crisis,” was in fact misleading because the U.S. intervention has never stopped for a moment in “sovereign” Iraq.

Militarily, U.S. Lt. Col. Robert Fruehwald and Iraqi Staff Major General Shakir, for example, have been working together the past nine months to prepare for the upcoming elections in the Kadhimiya district of Baghdad; the same applies to every Iraqi district in every Iraqi governorate. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), American troops are supposed to remain outside urban centres and all military operations are to be conducted with Iraqi government approval. On the ground, the U.S. military “advisors” are embedded throughout the Iraqi security forces, selecting targets and directing operations that are supported as required by massive air bombing.

Politically, all “secretaries” and senior administration officials that have whatever to do with Iraq are on record as to who and whom the elections “should’ and “must” include or exclude. For example, “No Baathist” should ever stand for elections, U.S ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hills had said. Contradicting Hills, Clinton had said “the United States would oppose” any exclusion. On February 10, Vice President Joe Biden, appearing on CNN’s Larry King Live, voiced pride in his record intervention: “I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months, three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society.” On February 4, The New York Times, in an editorial, said Biden was in Baghdad “to press the government” on who to run in the elections; Iraqi President Jalal Talabani confirmed that Biden had proposed “that the disqualifications (of candidates) be deferred until after the election.”

President Obama, who said recently that “we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people,” should watch out for his credibility against the contradictory and contradicting statements of his aides.

Similarly, Iran has self-imposed itself as the arbiter of Iraqi politics. The official Tehran Times, in an editorial written by a “staff writer,” defended the disqualification of candidates because they are “mostly the remnants of the Baathist regime” who are supported by “certain Arab countries.” Iranian “contested” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution accused the U.S. — which is still paying “a horrible price,” according to Biden, for uprooting the Baath party from power — of trying to impose the Baath party back into power. Nejad’s mouthpiece in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi — who was the darling of the U.S neoconservatives of the Bush administration, whose reports were cited by them as the casus belli for the invasion of Iraq, who turned out a double agent for Iran, and who is trying to ban those Iraqi politicians most opposed to Iran’s growing influence in Iraq with an eye on the next premiership — in a press conference on February 14, “condemned the U.S. intervention in Iraqi affairs,” citing Biden and Hills as examples.

The “horrible price” of the Iraqi invasion, which Biden referred to in his NBC’s “Meet the Press” on February 15, is yet to come. Chalabi was not a lone pro-Iran voice in Iraq to brave a challenge to U.S. strategy. Prime Minister Noori Al Maliki was on record as saying that, “We will not allow American Ambassador Christopher Hill to go beyond his diplomatic mission;” his aides called for the expulsion of Hill. These are professional politicians. What are their resources to brave challenge the U.S., whose soldiers are protecting them and whose taxpayers’ money has financed them, had not been for their Iranian credentials?

“Despite the presence of more than 100,000 US troops, America’s influence in Iraq is fading fast — and Iran’s is growing,” Robert Dreyfuss wrote in a column titled “Bad to Worse in Iraq” in The Nation on February 8, adding: “As soon as George W. Bush made the fateful decision to sweep away the Iraqi government and install pro-Iranian exiles in Baghdad, the die was cast. President Obama has no choice but to pack up and leave.”

Self-proclaimed nationalist seculars, who have been and are still an integral part of the U.S. – engineered so-called Iraqi “political process,” are now loosing their battle in this process. De-Baathification, which was originally a U.S. trade mark of Paul Premer, the first civil governor of Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, is merely a pretext to disqualify whoever opposes Iran or its sectarian agenda in Iraq. A pro-Iran sectarian regime is evolving to exclude not only secularism and democracy but to cement an Iranian power base in Iraq that will sooner or later spread sectarianism all over the region, instead of turning the country into a launching pad for democracy in the Middle east, as promised by the U.S. neoconservatives to justify their invasion of the country seven years ago.

Thomas Ricks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning military correspondent and former Washington Post Pentagon correspondent, has suggested recently that ““at the end of the surge, the fundamental political problems facing Iraq were the same ones as when it began. The theory of the surge was that improved security would lead to a political breakthrough. It didn’t. The improved security opened a window, but didn’t lead to a political breakthrough. In that sense, the surge failed.”

Ricks however fails to note that the imminent drawdown of American troops in Iraq is about to take place on the backdrop of that “failure,” and that the drawdown like the surge before it is doomed to failure for the same reason, namely the sectarian regime which both did their best to sustain as their agent in Iraq.

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

Moscow is concerned about NATO’s new strategy which allows the alliance to use force all around the world, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“It does not fully comply with the UN Charter, and, of course, raises our concerns,” the top diplomat said Thursday during a meeting with Russian NGOs. “NATO keeps expanding,” he noted, as cited by Itar-Tass.

Meanwhile, NATO hasn’t welcomed the latest actions of Russia, as President Dmitry Medvedev and Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapshsigned a deal on building a joint military base on Abkhazian territory on Wednesday. NATO has not recognized the legality of this deal.

At the same time, the alliance is working on a new military strategy which will allow the alliance use force globally.

The idea of a new strategic concept was voiced at the NATO summit in Strasbourg and Kehl in April 2009. A team of 12 – the so-called Group of Experts – was appointed by the organization’s Secretary General to work out the document which is supposed to set the alliance’s tasks for the next decade and outline ways of solving them.

The drafting and final negotiation phases are scheduled for summer and autumn this year. Before that, the Group of Experts has been holding seminars and discussions on the issue.

Earlier in February, the group – led by the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – arrived in Moscow to gauge Russia’s stance on the alliance’s new strategy. The twelve met with Lavrov and the leadership of the Russian Security Council.

Large NATO exercise starts in Northern Norway

February 18th, 2010 by Global Research

Near 9.000 soldiers from 14 countries participates when the exercise Cold Response 2010 started in Northern Norway this week. This year is the first time such NATO exercise also includes Swedish territory.

The exercise involves land forces, air forces and naval forces. The portal of the Norwegian Armed Forces reports that some 1.000 Special Forces soldiers will participate. Largest part of the activity will be in the northern part of Nordland County and the southern part of Troms County. The exercise Cold Response 2010 is said to be the highest priority for the Norwegian military this year.

Cold Response 2010 has some 1.500 more soldiers than the exercise Cold Response 2009.

The soldiers are not only from NATO member countries. Swedish soldiers participate and for the first time NATO’s Cold Response exercise includes military activity within Swedish territory. The territory in question is the area from Riksgrensen to Abisko in the municipality of Kiruna.

Swedish Sami Radio reports that the Sami reindeer herders in the area are opposing the exercise claiming the military activity happens without first consulting the reindeer herders. 

Some 1.000 Swedish soldiers participate in Cold Response 2010. Sweden is cooperating with NATO through the Partnership for Peace  (PfP) programme, but the background for Sweden’s participation in the exercise is the framework agreement for the Nordic Defence Cooperation, according to the portal of the Swedish Armed Forces.

United Kingdom participates in the exercise with their largest warship, HMS Ocean. The vessel with its crew of 1.000 persons is operating in the region as part of the UK’s Amphibious Task Group, according to the portal of the Royal Navy.

Other forces include U.S. Marines, soldiers that see such exercise in Norway’s harsh Arctic winter environment as a realistic combat training opportunity, reports the portal of the US Marines. The last time U.S. Marines participated in such NATO exercise in Northern Norway was in 2005.

All soldiers from the 14 participating countries will during the exercise focus on cold weather maritime/amphibious operations, interoperability of expeditionary forces, and special and conventional ground operations. 

Cold Response 2010 will go on until March 4th. Till now, the such NATO exercise in Northern Norway has been annually, but according to the portal of the Norwegian Armed Forces the larger NATO exercises will from now on be held each second year.

Pentagon Bracing for a Snap Offensive Against Venezuela

February 18th, 2010 by Nil Nikandrov

The US SOUTHCOM electronic surveillance base has been functioning in Aruba for several years. One day, an individual looking like a typical American, wearing shorts, a Hawaii shirt, and sunglasses, walked into it effortlessly and started roaming around. The US marines must have been too tired of the heat and assumed he actually was one of their countrymen – the base has been hosting numbers of visitors from the US recently amid the preparations for serious operations against Venezuela.

The visitor moved across the site with its standard blocks, glanced at the impressively proportioned radar and froze by the door to a large room with four giant screens in it. The screens were showing the contours of Venezuela’s Tachira and Zulia states and the locations of military installations, tank parks, aerodromes, and army bases as well as Venezuela’s industrial infrastructure including oil fields, refineries, pipelines, and plants. Even a brief look made it clear that the Caribbean coast and the west of Venezuela were under permanent surveillance from the base.

The Western media say nothing about the buildup of the US surveillance activity at Aruba and Curacao bases and generally filter away any information concerning the US espionage targeting Venezuela. The US intelligence services are spying on the country from Columbia, Puerto-Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Washington wants to know everything about Venezuela’s military capabilities and mobilization plans, to assess the level of loyalty to the government in the ranks of the country’s officer corps and the combat readiness of its armed forces, and to find out to what extent those are prepared to engage in long-term “asymmetric” guerrilla warfare.

The US was alarmed by H. Chavez’s statement that the seizure of Venezuela’s oil fields and refineries would be prevented at any cost in the case of US aggression. Did he mean blowing up the infrastructures?

Pentagon planners are no less worried over the potential strengthening of leftist guerrilla fronts in Columbia and their mushrooming in the Latin American countries currently hosting US military bases. The CIA and NSA regarded it as a cause for concern that leftist groups emerged in Mexico, the traditional backyard of the US. Mexican guerrillas have already claimed responsibility for several acts of sabotage at oil pipeline networks. In fact, Mexico’s Chiapas state has been de facto controlled for years by the guerrilla groups led by the legendary Subcommandante Marcos who clearly would not opt for neutrality in case the US attacks Venezuela, the country which contributed a lot to the Indian cause in Latin America.

No doubt, any aggressive steps taken by the US would trigger overall radicalization across the continent. It is already obvious that the comeback of the right in several Latin American countries and the reversion to the ruthless liberal economic course that ensued are meeting with widespread opposition and that the rise of new populist regimes in the region is only a matter of time. Mexico and Peru, the countries where F. Calderon and A. Garcia were propelled to power by the US financial and propaganda support regardless of how the poorest strata of the populations felt about the developments, are the prime candidates.

There will be no chance to contain the spread of populism reflecting mass discontent with poverty and with the prosperity being limited to a small cohort of “efficient asset-holders” in the settings of the ongoing economic crisis. As in the epoch when Latin America was – with the US democratic blessing – run by cruel dictators, it is going to take bloodshed to impede the onslaught of populism in the region. Will the greedy operators of the XXI century world order with its permanent predatory privatizations and asset seizures dare to order shooting at the furious crowds of disillusioned people? After the very first shot, nations will have the moral right to respond to force with force.

This is the reason why Obama’s Administration needs to get rid of Chavez already in 2010 – it regards Venezuela as the epicenter of Anti-Americanism in the western hemisphere. Washington hopes that the demise of Chavez’s regime would set in motion a cascade of likewise falls of the regimes it believes he has helped to come into being. At the moment, the global propaganda campaign backing the preparations for an aggression against Venezuela is at full swing.

Venezuela’s leading analyst Diaz Rangel said the media grands have unleashed a new round of a carefully coordinated propaganda war against Chavez and his socioeconomic alternative known as the XXI century socialism. The liberal media keep holding that no alternative to capitalism deserves to exist and unabashedly denies Chavez the right to social innovation.

Rangel criticized Newsweek, Associated Press, and BBC for bias and downright lies in covering Venezuela. Their projection is that Chavez would be displaced already this year by the military (that is, the Venezuelan military, but assisted by their US and Columbian “peers”), that his socialist experiment will collapse, and that thus the county will overcome “disorder and chaos”. Evidence of bias in Western media abounds: they never report pro-Chavez rallies attended by thousands of people, pretend not to know about his stable 59-60% support rating (which the West claims to reach only 45-48%), and avoid mentioning the implementation of a range of social missions in Venezuela including social residence construction.

Instead, the West never stops airing its list of grievances concerning Venezuela. Allegations are made that Chavez uses petrodollars to support terrorists and supplies weaponry to Mexican and Columbian guerrilla groups, where Russian-made Kalashnikov assault rifles have recently been confiscated. Western media maintain that Chavez is the key figure behind all Latin American drug cartels, though it is an open secret that the US Drug Enforcement Administration is the actual number one player in the business in the region.

Until 2000, the US propaganda used to portray Cuba as the worst evil in Latin America and called for its isolation and eventual elimination. The strengthening of Venezuela’s positions, its endeavors in the framework of the ALBA integration project and calls for upgrading it to include a military alliance, as well as other Venezuelan initiatives unacceptable to Washington led the US to declare Venezuela the center of evil.

Since the very inauguration of Chavez the Western media have kept talking about chaos in Venezuela, the divisions in the Venezuelan army, etc. Statements concerning the army could contain an element of truth till the 2002 attempted coup during which a bunch of US-trained officers managed to displace Chavez for 72 hours and intended to kill him on the CIA order. Since then, the Venezuelan army has been reorganized and at present the majority of its officers uphold revolutionary-nationalist views. To ensure control over the country’s armed forces, the Venezuelan government pays the officers relatively high salaries and provides housing and medical care for them and their families. The army appreciates the government’s efforts to modernize the country’s defense potential, which is done largely with the help of Russia. Nevertheless, the illusion that Venezuela is weak in the military sense is so widespread that Obama’s Administration expects to rout Chavez’s defiant regime in a snap offensive. The corresponding plan is akin to those Germany had at the early phase of World War II – the US will rely on Venezuelan fifth column, Columbian ultra-right paramilitary groups, and its own special forces which are already launching raids in Venezuela’s border regions.

The infrastructure for the aggression is ready. The Pentagon seized every opportunity to set up military bases along the Venezuelan borders. Washington sent a heavily armed expedition corps, an aircraft carrier, and several warships to Haiti using the recent earthquake as a pretext, thus effectively securing another military base in the Caribbean. Experts suppose that the military group now based in Haiti can be used by the Pentagon to prevent Cuba from helping Venezuela in case it comes under the US attack. Chavez and the Castro brothers spoke a number of times about their common military obligations.

Venezuela will hold parliamentary elections in September, 2010 during which the opposition is going to compete with desperation. Chavez already addressed the nation with the statement indicating that loss of control over parliament would be a catastrophe for the Bolivarian regime. In the run-up to the elections, its foreign and domestic foes are resorting to the standard set of instruments including the scenarios of color revolutions and the Honduran coup as well as to calls for military intervention against Venezuela.

The coup in Honduras is by no means bloodless – simply the killing of supporters of the overthrown M. Zelaya are disguised as ordinary street crimes. As for the scale of repressions awaiting Venezuela in the case of a successful coup – they evade imagination.

Iran May be Next Target of Misguided Military Adventurism

February 18th, 2010 by Chris Gelken

In early 2008 a mobile air-defense unit set up camp in a wooded area just across the road from my Tehran apartment. Suddenly, we began to take the recent speculation of a possible air attack on Iran very seriously. My wife and I even considered putting sticky tape on the windows to prevent glass fragmentation in the event of an explosion. 

The war of words with the US and its allies over Iran’s nuclear program had been ratcheted up with then-President George W. Bush threatening to “finish the job” with Iran before he left office. Some evenings my wife and I would stare out of our living room window at the dark silhouette of the Alborz Mountains to the north, at any moment expecting to see bright arcs of antiaircraft fire probing the night sky for attacking bombers. 

Former Chinese ambassador to Tehran Hua Liming isn’t convinced by the threats of war. “In Chinese we have a saying: A barking dog never bites.” On my show, the ambassador said there have been a lot of threats from the Israeli side, “But if you review history, when the Israelis really plan to do something, they usually do it quietly and quickly, they don’t signal their intentions.” 

He cited the 1981 Israeli strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. “There had been no threats, no advance warnings,” he said. 

Consequently, the ambassador is convinced the Israeli rhetoric is nothing more than a bluff. But to what end? 

Picking up on the theme, Iranian-American foreign policy analyst and writer Soraya Ulrich says the bluff isn’t aimed at the Iranians. 

“Whenever Israel wants the US to do something,” Soraya Ulrich argues, “they first threaten to do it themselves. 

“They are very clever at this. By repeatedly threatening Iran they are forcing the US to impose crippling sanctions on Tehran. America is doing everything that is contrary to its own national interests.” 

The sanctions, Ulrich says, are costing the US thousands of jobs and billions of dollars, which is entirely aimed at preventing a preemptive strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities. 

US President Barack Obama is on record as saying that if by the end of his first year in office there has been no substantial progress in diplomatic initiatives to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue he would have no choice but to reassess Washington’s options. We are at that point, and according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, diplomacy has essentially achieved nothing. 

There are only so many deadlines that Obama can impose – and subsequently extend – without losing credibility both domestically and overseas. There is no reason to doubt that time for a diplomatic solution is running out. 

To date there has been no irrefutable evidence that Iran is engaged in activities to weaponize its domestic nuclear program, or even has any plans to do so. That fact notwithstanding, the oft-repeated “threat” of a nuclear-armed Iran is the cornerstone of Western arguments to support sanctions, and even the possibility of war. 

Some speculate that ulterior motives lie behind the push to action. Hua said it was more about maintaining regional military superiority than any alleged threat from Tehran. 

“Even the Israelis themselves do not believe that one day Iran will launch a nuclear attack against them. The fact is, Israel is currently the sole nuclear power in the Middle East and they do not want to see any changes to that. That is the core of the problem.” 

After Iraq and the continuing struggle in Afghanistan, the Western public is tired of war. Despite the unwavering support for Israel among Washington’s neo-conservative power elite, even they would be unable to sell the idea of another protracted and expensive conflict based only on Israel’s inability to deal with Hamas militants in Gaza and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. That simply won’t happen. 

So to support Israel’s desire to send the strongest possible message to Tehran to stop supporting Palestinian resistance movements, it became necessary to create a monster, one scary enough to galvanize a war-weary American (and European) public. Iran’s nuclear program was an absolute gift. 

Is Iran next? Well, if you still believe in Iraqi WMDs, the 45-minute threat, and Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda, then there is a very real possibility that it could be. 

Chris Gelken is the host and co-producer of ‘Today’ – two hours of news, current affairs and opinion broadcast live Monday to Friday by China Radio International.[email protected] 

The End of Obama’s Vision of a Nuke-Free World

February 18th, 2010 by Scott Ritter

As any student of foreign and national security policy well knows, the devil is in the details. Back in April 2009, in a speech delivered in Prague, the Czech Republic, President Barack Obama articulated his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Since that time, however, the Obama administration has offered very little of substance to push this vision forward. When one looks past the grand statements of the president for policy implementation that supports the rhetoric, one is left empty-handed. No movement on ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). No extension of a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia (START). No freeze on the development of a new generation of American nuclear weapons. Without progress in these areas, any prospects of a new approach to global nuclear nonproliferation emerging from the May 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference are virtually zero.

Perhaps the most telling indicator of failed nonproliferation policy on the part of the Obama administration is the fact that there has been no progress on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, and in particular the ongoing controversy surrounding a proposed uranium exchange. The deal would have Iran swap a significant portion of its existing stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium (the level needed to fuel Iran’s planned nuclear power reactors, as opposed to uranium enriched to 90 percent, which is needed for nuclear weapons) in exchange for nuclear fuel rods containing uranium enriched to 19.5 percent (the level needed to operate a U.S.-built research reactor in Tehran that produced nuclear isotopes for medical purposes). Iran is running out of fuel for this reactor, and needs a new source of fuel or else it will be forced to shut it down. As a signatory member of the NPT, Iran should have the right to acquire this fuel on the open market, subject of course to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, but the United States and Europe have held any such sale hostage to Iran’s agreeing to suspend its indigenous uranium enrichment program, which is the source of the 3.5 percent enriched uranium currently in Iran.

The crux of the U.S. and European concerns rests not with Iran’s possession of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, but rather that the enrichment technique employed by Iran to produce this low-enriched uranium could be used, with some significant modifications, to manufacture high-enriched uranium (90 percent) usable in a nuclear weapon. This reality, and the fears of a nuclear-armed Iran it produces, trumps the fact that the IAEA today is in a position to certify that it can account for the totality of Iran’s inventory of nuclear material, and that any diversion of nuclear material would be detected by the IAEA almost immediately. Furthermore, beyond its capacity to enrich uranium, there is no real evidence that Iran has engaged in a nuclear weapons program.

But the fear and hype that emanate from American and European policymakers, strongly influenced by the zero-tolerance policy of Israel when it comes to Iran and anything nuclear, peaceful or otherwise, have created an environment where common sense goes out the window and anything becomes possible. Take, for instance, Iran’s current stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium. The IAEA certifies that Iran is in possession of approximately 1,800 kilograms of this material. Policy wonks and those in the intelligence community given to hypotheticals have postulated scenarios that have Iran using this stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium as the feedstock for a breakout enrichment effort that, if left to its own devices, could produce enough high-enriched uranium (90 percent) for a single nuclear bomb. This breakout capability would require Iran to reconfigure thousands of the centrifuges it uses for low-level enrichment for use in the stepped-up process of follow-on enrichment. Ironically, one of the next steps required in such a scenario would be for Iran to reconfigure its centrifuges to enrich uranium up to 20 percent—roughly the level Iran needs for the nuclear fuel required to operate the Tehran research reactor.

Fears about a potential covert Iranian enrichment breakout capability reached feverish proportions when, in September 2009, Iran revealed the existence of (and U.S. intelligence proclaimed the discovery of) a prospective small underground centrifuge enrichment facility near the city of Qom. The fact that this facility was under construction, and consisted as of September 2009 of little more than a reinforced hole in the ground without any equipment installed, did nothing to allay the fears of those who saw an Iranian nuclear bomb behind every bush, or under every rock. Suddenly Iran was on the verge of having a nuclear bomb, and something had to be done to prevent this from happening.

The focus of attention shifted away from Iran’s ongoing enrichment capability, which the U.S. and Europe demanded be permanently suspended, to Iran’s 1,800 kilograms of 3.5 percent enriched uranium. This material represented Iran’s theoretical atomic bomb. If the material could be placed under international control, then Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, at least for the immediate future, could be thwarted. Iran was not going to freely hand over this material. However, a deal was negotiated between the U.S. and Iran that would have Iran ship 1,600 kilograms of its 3.5 percent enriched uranium to Russia, which would then further enrich it to 19.5 percent before sending it to France, which would process the uranium into fuel rods unusable for nuclear weapons. This fuel swap appeared to provide an elegant solution to a vexing problem. Indeed, President Obama embraced it as his own initiative when it was announced in October 2009.

  

For Iran, the swap was always about acquiring the needed nuclear fuel rods, manufactured from 19.5 percent enriched uranium, in order to continue operation of its research reactor in Tehran, which produces much-needed nuclear isotopes for medical purposes. The main attraction for the Iranians for such a deal, beyond acquiring the fuel rods, was that they would not need to produce any 19.5 percent enriched uranium itself, and thus not have to reconfigure their current centrifuge-based enrichment infrastructure to operate beyond its 3.5 percent enrichment threshold. Iran has consistently maintained that it neither requires, nor desires, any capability to enrich uranium beyond the 3.5 percent level needed to manufacture nuclear fuel rods for its own nuclear power reactors. Having its uranium enrichment infrastructure locked in at 3.5 percent simplified not only Iran’s own operations, but also the safeguard monitoring and inspection requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency, charged with verifying Iran’s compliance with the terms of the NPT. Iran viewed the fuel swap as a means of facilitating international acceptance of its uranium enrichment program, a point of view that was in fundamental opposition to that of the United States and Europe.

No amount of finessing the specifics of a fuel swap, whether it be done in stages, managed by a neutral third party, or carried out over the course of several months or several years, could reconcile the Iranian position with that of the U.S. and Europe. At the center of this problem is the Iranian uranium enrichment program itself. Any fuel swap deal is little more than window dressing to the larger issue of whether or not Iran will be permitted by the international community to enrich uranium. To the U.S. and Europe, finer points such as whether such enrichment would be capped at 3.5 percent, or diversified to include 19.5 percent, remain irrelevant, since their unified policy approach is to suspend all uranium enrichment activities inside Iran.

The fatal flaw in the Obama fuel swap proposal, when it was broached in October 2009, was that it failed to explicitly state that any fuel swap had to be linked to Iran’s suspension of its uranium enrichment program. While policy wonks in and out of the Obama administration can argue that such a position was more than implied, given the existence of U.N. Security Council resolutions that explicitly call for suspension, any deal that introduces Iran’s stocks of low-enriched uranium as a legitimate commodity provides de facto legitimization of the processes that produced that commodity. Since Iran has consistently refused to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, it had every reason to treat the proposed fuel swap as a stand-alone deal that focused on a short-term problem, and not as part of the larger U.S.-driven demands for enrichment suspension.

The U.S. policy objective was never to provide Iran with 19.5 percent enriched uranium fuel rods, or to lock Iran in at a 3.5 percent enrichment threshold, but rather to get the majority of Iran’s existing stocks of 3.5 percent enriched uranium out of the country, thereby eliminating any scenario that had Iran using this low-enriched uranium as feedstock for any breakout nuclear weapons production capability, no matter how farfetched such a scenario might be. This is why the Obama administration never paid much attention to the details of such a swap, since these details simply didn’t matter. The U.S. approach was never about facilitating a swap so much as it was about facilitating a kidnapping. The policy objective was to get the majority of Iran’s enriched uranium stocks under international control. Once Iran no longer had access to 1,600 kilograms of its 1,800-kilogram stockpile of low-enriched uranium, the Obama administration could blunt the fear-driven concerns over the immediacy of any Iranian nuclear capability. It would take Iran several months to reconstitute its low-enriched uranium stocks to the level needed to produce its hypothetical nuclear bomb. During this period, the U.S. would redouble its demands for suspension of uranium enrichment and develop a comprehensive package of stringent economic sanctions that would be imposed on Iran should it fail to cooperate.

The fatal flaw in the U.S. approach was that it failed to recognize that such policy formulations may work on paper but in the real world things are far more complicated. The Obama administration had hoped for immediate Iranian agreement to the fuel swap. Once Iran’s enriched uranium was safely out of Iran, the U.S. would then redouble its diplomatic pressure to suspend enrichment activities while simultaneously pressing for international consensus on sanctions. U.S. policy formulators envisioned a seamless transition between these various stages of policy implementation. But Iran, by agreeing in principle to a fuel swap, but demanding closer scrutiny of the details inherent in any such deal, complicated implementation of the U.S. plan.

By December 2009, a point at which the U.S. had hoped to have the Iranian uranium under its control and a sanctions campaign under way, Iran had yet to agree to the specifics of any fuel swap but at the same time publically remained committed to the concept. That approach paralyzed the U.S.-led effort to rally support behind sanctions since most nations did not want to do anything that would threaten the fuel swap negotiations. As 2010 rolled around, the Iranian delay tactics forced the U.S. to shed all pretenses around the fuel swap. While Iranian negotiators spoke of a potential swap formula that could unfold over the course of several months, the U.S. spoke of a swap timetable stretching out several years, making such a swap useless for the purpose it was ostensibly being instituted for—the Iranian nuclear research reactor and the manufacture of medical isotopes.

With the true U.S. policy objective thus exposed, Iran last week announced that it would carry out its own indigenous enrichment of uranium to the 19.5 percent needed to fuel the research reactor. Whether Iran has the technical or practical capabilities necessary to bring such a plan to fruition is debatable. While reconfiguring its existing centrifuge cascades to produce 19.5 percent enriched uranium is not impossible, Iran has never before attempted to process enriched uranium into nuclear fuel rods. Likewise, there is a question about the viability of Iran’s feedstock of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the gaseous material that is fed into the centrifuges for the purpose of enriching uranium.

Iran’s stores of foreign-procured UF6 are nearly exhausted. So is the stock of UF6 that Iran produced using foreign supplies of natural uranium. What is left for Iran is UF6 produced from indigenous sources of natural uranium. However, these stocks are believed to be contaminated with molybdenum, a metallic substance the presence of which creates destructive mass-distribution problems when Iran’s centrifuges are spun up to the more than 60,000 revolutions per minute needed to extract enriched uranium from the UF6 feedstock. If Iran cannot come up with the means to extract the molybdenum from its indigenous UF6, then short of finding an outside supplier of natural uranium or clean UF6 (activities that would have to be declared to the IAEA), the Iranian enrichment program will halt.

This would not prevent Iran from using its existing stocks of 3.5 percent enriched uranium as the feedstock for any effort to produce 19.5 percent uranium. Reconfiguration of its centrifuges to conduct this higher level of enrichment is likewise well within the technical capability of Iran. The ultimate testament to the failure of U.S. nonproliferation policy when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program is the reality that, in an effort to retard any Iranian nuclear breakout scenario that saw Iran rapidly converting its low-enriched stocks to high-enriched fissile material, the United States has actually facilitated such a scheme. Had the U.S. sought to lock Iran’s enrichment infrastructure in at a 3.5 percent capacity, any deviation from that level would have been viewed with suspicion. However, by creating the conditions that have Iran now seeking to build enrichment facilities capable of 20 percent enrichment, the Obama administration has significantly reduced the threshold of detection and prevention which was in place when all Iran produced was 3.5 percent enriched uranium.

The number of centrifuges required to step up enrichment of 20 percent uranium to higher levels is significantly smaller than the number needed to step up from 3.5 percent to 20 percent. Furthermore, any Iranian breakout scenario that starts at 20 percent enriched feedstock will reach its end objective of 90 percent enrichment far quicker than a similar program that starts at 3.5 percent. The Obama administration has not only made it easier for Iran to hide a covert nuclear weapons enrichment capability, but also made it far more efficient. That there is no evidence of any such program in existence does not matter in the minds of those who had given Iran such a capability to begin with. When dealing in a universe driven by the theoretical, the U.S. fumbling of the nuclear fuel swap with Iran has simply made the breakout theory more viable. And since U.S. nonproliferation policy toward Iran is more driven by faith-based analysis than it is by fact-based analysis, one can all but guarantee that the U.S. response to this new fiction will be real, and measurable, and have nothing but negative results for the Middle East and the World. 

The unfolding crisis concerning Iran’s nuclear program represents but one of several nonproliferation failures perpetrated by the United States that, in combination, bode poorly for the upcoming NPT Review Conference scheduled for May. In May of 2009, at the conclusion of the preparatory committee for the NPT Review Conference, there were high hopes for the possibility of progress in reaching international consensus on nonproliferation issues, and reshaping the NPT to capture this consensus. Much of these hopes were derived from the statements and rhetoric of the Obama administration about nuclear disarmament and arms control. Unfortunately, rhetoric never caught up with reality.

Not only has U.S. policy toward Iran been exposed as operating in total disregard to the provisions of the NPT (Iran, after all, is permitted to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under Article IV of that treaty), but the cornerstone commitments made by the Obama administration as a prerequisite for a successful NPT Review Conference in May 2010—movement toward ratification of the CTBT, agreement with the Russians to extend the verification mechanisms inherent in START while achieving even deeper cuts in their respective nuclear arsenals—have failed to materialize. There is almost no chance of the CTBT being submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification, let alone being actually ratified. The failure of the administration to extend START past its December 2009 expiration date has not only left the U.S. and Russia with no arms control verification vehicle, but has reignited dormant Cold War-era tendencies in both nations, with the Russians deploying a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missile and the U.S. talking about nuclear warhead modernization.

President Obama had hoped that the 2010 NPT Review Conference would pave the way to a global consensus on multilateral approaches toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Instead, its looming demise only accelerates the existing trend in the United States to reject international agreements and instead embrace a unilateralism sustained by the false premise that security can be achieved through nuclear supremacy. One only needs to examine the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ongoing fiasco that is America’s global war on terrorism to understand the fallacy of that argument.

The policy of the U.S. toward Iran’s nuclear program is to blame for much, if not all, of this failure. Had the administration used the fuel swap agreement as an opportunity to bring Iran back into the fold of the international community—not by excluding its uranium enrichment efforts, but rather legitimizing them through enhanced IAEA inspections and Iran’s agreement to participate in closely controlled regional fuel bank programs that kept its enriched uranium stocks under stringent international controls—there would not have been the policy floundering which occurred in the fall of 2009.

Fears about a phantom Iranian nuclear weapon would have dissipated, and with it the illogical U.S. insistence on ballistic missile defense initiatives that have fatally undermined the current round of U.S.-Russian arms control negotiations. Had the Obama administration remained consistent with its September 2009 decision to terminate the controversial Bush-era missile defense plan involving the stationing of interceptor missiles and radar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, there would be a START treaty today. But the sleight-of-hand approach, in which one program was terminated only to be replaced by another, triggered concerns among Russian military leaders about the real policy objectives of the Obama administration.

The administration has demonstrated that, for all the noble intent and objectives in the arena of arms control and nonproliferation exhibited at its inception, it too is susceptible to the addiction to nuclear weapons that has plagued America since 1945. This addiction, which feeds the notion of the United States’ self-appointed status of global savior and policeman, prevents any policy formulation that is perceived to weaken or undermine America’s nuclear supremacy. At a time when the world needed American leadership in the field of disarmament and nonproliferation, it instead got nothing but a replay of past policy, wrapped in the paranoid delusions of a nation that is unable or unwilling to come to grips with reality. Genuine international security is derived not from any nation, even the United States, seeking to impose deterrence-based policies through nuclear supremacy. True security comes from a world free of nuclear weapons.

To secure America, a president must have the courage to dismantle what, in the past, has been proclaimed as the foundation of our survival, but in reality presents us with the seeds of our destruction—nuclear weapons. President Obama had articulated such a vision in his groundbreaking speech in Prague back in April 2009. Since that time the United States has embarked on arms control and nonproliferation policies that have not only failed to move America and the world further down the path of peace and security, but actually made matters worse.

Policies must be judged not by their intent but their results. In this, the Obama administration’s policies represent an abysmal failure. The administration seeks to place the blame for these failures elsewhere, on Iran, China, Russia and North Korea. But the root cause of such failure lies with the utter lack of courage and conviction on the part of Barack Obama. He claimed to possess a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, only to succumb to the same hubris and avarice that afflicted past U.S. presidents when tempted by the world supremacy that nuclear weapons promise. 

Scott Ritter was U.S. weapons inspector in the Soviet Union (1988-1990) and chief inspector for the United Nations in Iraq (1991-1998) and is author of “Iraq Confidential” (2006), “Target Iran” (2007) and “Dangerous Ground: The Failure of U.S. Arms Control Policy From FDR to Obama,” to be published by Nation Books this year.