Just as we pointed out after the Tunisian episode, this was the beginning of CIA, MI6 and Mossad planned activities in the Middle East. As usual there were several objectives. The first was a distraction to cover up the financial troubles in the US, UK and Europe. The second was to remove Mubarak from his dictatorial position, because of his refusal to participate and agree to an invasion of Iran and to cause chaos in the region, so that those who were pro-Iran would not give it assistance in the event of war. There was also the matter of controlling Libya’s oil and toppling its dictator Gadhaffi. The US and the Brits want Libya’s oil among other things.

The result of this western intervention has been and will continue to be a collective general collapse of current regimes. The replacement will supposedly be populist governments, when in fact that will not be the case. From behind the scenes will emerge leadership tied to the CIA, MI6 and the Mossad. These new governments will look like they are anti-west and anti-capitalist, but that will not be the case. Their overthrows have been in the works for years and all the new players are in place. Unrest will probably continue over several months perhaps for a year. A solution will be found for Libya and the west hopes their puppet regime in Saudi Arabia stays in place.

Nigeria has its own problems and seems calm except for the ongoing civil war between Christians and Muslims. That has been progress for 50 years between the Ibo and the Hunza tribes. The Christians have learned to live with the majority Muslim government.

Iraq has its own set of problems politically, but the country is still guarded by 50,000 or more US troops, as western oil interests pump their oil as fast as possible.

We believe any major disruption in Saudi Arabia would not only be met by local troops, but by US forces as well. Saudi pumps more than 8 million barrels of oil a day and the west cannot stand such a disruption. The region produces almost 17 million barrels a day, or almost 23% of total world production or 56% of OPEC production. Political upheaval should not last more than 3 to 6 months. The result will be turmoil for some time to come; a social and political situation that neutralizes any opposition to the regional aims of the US and Israel. It won’t take long for Mr. Gaddafi to be deposed and sent on his way and it could be with the help of US troops. Western oil interests would like that very much.

Many experts believe the surviving regimes will be anti-west and anti-capitalist, but we think that will not be necessarily so. These countries will want to pump oil and pump it as fast as possible, because generally speaking they have no other source of income. There will be lost oil production, but if Saudi Arabia is not involved in upheaval they can make up most of the lost production. Presently the only obvious problem is with Libya. The Saudi’s have said they will make up the lost Libyan production knowing full well they will have to pump three times Libyan production due to high sulphur content in Saudi production. Overall it can be expected that regional production overall will fall perhaps as much as 30% to 50% under new governments. That is only a guess. We won’t know the result for some time to come and such developments will prompt other non-regional producers to increase production and that includes the US as well. One might say the key is Saudi Arabia. If its government were overthrown then the world would be in serious trouble. From a practical viewpoint looking at world production 10% to 12% could be lost, but it could be augmented elsewhere, perhaps over a few years.

During such a period oil demand could slow by partial elimination of growth and less consumption due to higher pries and slowing economies. Overall that could bring about a reduction in consumption of about 5%. That would only make up 50% of the shortfall. Such a calamity could take oil prices to $200 a barrel or more and gasoline prices could rise 150% that is from $6.00 to $9.00 a gallon. Such higher prices would cause major changes in society. In places where petrol products are subsidized there would be great shock. Mind you these assumptions include Saudi Arabia being sacrosanct. If Saudi falls the result would be a nightmare.

All in all the average American would see petroleum based costs increase $2,500 a year, which would reek havoc on consumption and GDP growth. This kind of factor is what deflationary depressions are made of. $300 oil would increase the balance of payments deficit by $800 billion annually and erase 4% of GDP. Inflation would rage, especially when assisted by higher food prices. Wall Street doesn’t as yet understand this, but when it does the stock market will certainly fall. If you pencil in the increase in monetary aggregates by the Fed and the rising fiscal deficit you end up with hyperinflation and stagnation simultaneously. We could be looking at budget deficits of $2.5 trillion annually and a balance of payments deficit of $800 billion. This means 14% inflation this year and perhaps 30% in 2012. These events would produce a dollar collapse. It would also collapse the economies, China and India, their currencies, and many others as well in non-oil producing countries.

The Abusive Detention of Bradley Manning

March 11th, 2011 by Kevin Zeese

Bradley Manning’s appeal of the refusal to relax his conditions of confinement makes a strong case that he has been a model prisoner who is being unjustly abused.  His inhumane treatment violates his due process rights and is cruel and unusual punishment. 

After providing detailed descriptions of his excellent behavior and the positive reports he has received while detained at Quantico since July 29, 2010, he contradicts the military’s claim that he is being treated just like any other prisoner.

I am being treated differently from any other detainee at the Quantico Brig. While the PCF Commander follows the recommendation of the Brig Psychiatrist in dealing with other detainees, this does not happen in my case. Other detainees usually remain on MAX custody or in POI Status for about two weeks before they are downgraded. I, however, have been left to languish under the unduly harsh conditions of MAX Custody and POI Status since my arrival on 29 July 2010. In fact, I am currently the only detainee being held under MAX Custody and the only detainee being held in POI status by the Brig. Any objective person looking at the above facts would have to conclude that this treatment is unjustified. The determination to retain me in MAX Custody and under POI Status after 27 August 2010 was improper and constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment.

There are two incidents that stand out above the daily abuse Manning has received while being held in virtual solitary confinement for ten months in pre-trial detention: being put on suicide watch and having his clothes taken away from him.

On January 18, 2010 the Brig commander, James Averhart, who has since been replaced, put Manning on suicide watch.  As Manning describes it: “Suicide Risk assignment resulted in me being required to remain in my cell for 24 hours a day. I was stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses were taken away from me and I was forced to sit in essential blindness.”  Here is what occurred that led to him being placed in this even more abusive condition.

(2) The basis for the above treatment was due to my alleged erratic behavior on 18 January 2011. On that date, I was pulled out of my cell for my one hour of recreation call. When the guards came to my cell, I noticed a change in their usual demeanor. Instead of being calm and respectful, they seemed agitated and confrontational. Also, instead of the usual two to three guards, there were four guards. Almost immediately, the guards started harassing me. The first guard told me to “turn left.” When I complied, the second guard yelled “don’t turn left.” When I attempted to comply with the demands of the second guard, I was told by the first, “I said turn left.” I responded “yes, Corporal” to the first guard. At this point, the third guard chimed in by telling me that “in the Marines we reply with ‘aye’ and not ‘yes.’” He then asked me if I understood. I made the mistake of replying “yes, Sergeant.” At this point the forth guard yelled, “you mean ‘aye,’ Sergeant.”

(3) The harassment by the guards continued as I was escorted to my one hour of recreation. When I arrived at the recreation room, I was told to stand still so they could remove my leg restraints. As I stood still, one of the guards yelled “I told you to stand still.” I replied “yes Corporal, I am standing still.” Another guard then said, “you mean ‘aye’ Corporal.” Next, the same guard said “I thought we covered this, you say ‘aye’ and not ‘yes,’ do you understand?” I responded ‘aye Sergeant.’ Right after I replied, I was once again yelled at to “stand still.” Due to being yelled at and the intensity of the guards, I mistakenly replied, “yes Corporal, I am standing still.” As soon as I said this, I attempted to correct myself by saying ‘aye’ instead of ‘yes,’ but it was too late. One of the guards starting yelling at me again, “what don’t you understand” and “are we going to have a problem?”

(4) Once the leg restraints were taken off of me, I took a step back from the guards. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I could feel myself getting dizzy. I sat down to avoid falling. When I did this, the guards took a step towards me. I instinctively backed away from them. As soon as I backed away, I could tell by their faces that they were getting ready to restrain me. I immediately put my hands up in the air, and said “I am not doing anything, I am just trying to follow your orders.” The guards then told me to start walking. I complied with their order by saying “aye” instead of “yes.”

(5) I was allowed to complete my hour of recreation. During the hour, the guards did not harass me further. The guards also did not harass me when I was escorted back to my cell. Only later did I learn that there had been a protest outside the gates of Quantico the previous day. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4eNzokgRIw). The rally was intended to bring attention to the conditions of my confinement. It is my belief that my treatment on 18 January 2010 by the guards and later by the PCF Commander was related to this protest and my earlier complaints.

(6) After being returned to my cell, I started to read a book. About 30 minutes later, the PCF Commander, CWO4 James Averhart, came to my cell. He asked me what had happened during my recreation call. As I tried to explain to him what had occurred, CWO4 Averhart stopped me and said “I am the commander” and that “no one could tell him what to do.” He also said that he was, for all practical purposes, “God.” I responded by saying “you still have to follow Brig procedures.” I also said “everyone has a boss that they have to answer to.” As soon as I said this, CWO4 Averhart ordered that I be placed in Suicide Risk Status.

(7) Admittedly, once I heard that I would be placed under Suicide Risk, I became upset. Out of frustration, I placed my hands to my head and clenched my hair with my fingers. I did yell “why are you doing this to me?” I also yelled “why am I being punished?” and “I have done nothing wrong.” I then asked CWO4 Averhart “what have I done to deserve this type of treatment?”

(8) CWO4 Averhart did not answer any of my questions. He instructed the guards to enter my cell and take all my clothing. At first I tried to reason with CWO4 Averhart by telling him that I had been a model detainee and by asking him to just tell me what he wanted me to do and that I would do it. However, I gave up trying to reason with him once the guards entered my cell and ordered me to strip. Instead, I lowered my head and starting taking off my clothes.

(9) CWO4 Averhart placed me on Suicide Risk, over the recommendation of Capt. Hocter and the defense forensic psychiatrist, Capt. Moore. His decision was also in violation of Secretary of Navy Instruction (“SECNAVINST”) 1649.9C Paragraph 4205.5d. As a result of being placed on Suicide Risk, I was confined to my cell for 24 hours a day. I was also stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. Additionally, my prescription eyeglasses were taken away from me. Due to not having my glasses, I was forced to sit in essential blindness during the day. I remained on Suicide Risk until 21 January 2010. The determination to place me on Suicide Risk was without justification and therefore constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment.

The second abuse, beyond Manning’s normally abusive 10 months of virtual solitary confinement, is an ongoing one.  On March 2nd the Brig commander ordered that Manning’s clothes be taken away from him every night. Each morning Manning is required to stand naked, hands at his side in order to get his clothes back.  Manning describes the incident as follows:

(1)     On March 2, I was informed of your decision regarding my Article 138 complaint. Understandably frustrated by this decision after enduring over seven months of unduly harsh confinement conditions, I asked the Brig Operations Officer, MSG Papakie, what I needed to do in order to be downgraded from Maximum Custody and POI Status. MSG Papakie responded by telling me that there was nothing I could do to downgrade my detainee status and that the Brig simply considered me a risk of self-harm. Out of frustration, I responded that the POI restrictions were absurd and sarcastically told him if I really wanted to harm myself, that I could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of my underwear or with my flip-flops.

(2)     Later that same day, I was approached by GYSGT Blenis. He asked me what I had done wrong. I told him that I did not know what he was talking about. He said that I would be stripped naked at night due to something that I had said to MSG Papakie. Shocked, I told him that I hadn’t said anything. I told GYSGT Blenis that I just pointed out the absurdity of my current confinement conditions.

(3)     Without consulting any Brig mental health provider, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used my sarcastic comment as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon me under the guise of being concerned that I was a suicide risk. I was not, however, placed under the designation of Suicide Risk. This is because Suicide Risk would have required a Brig mental health provider’s recommendation in order for the added restrictions to continue. While the PCF Commander needed the Brig Psychiatrist’s recommendation to keep me under Suicide Risk, no such recommendation was needed in order to increase my restrictions under POI Status. The conditions of POI Status require only psychiatric input, but ultimately remain the decision of the PCF Commander.

(4)     In response to this specific incident, the Brig Psychiatrist met with me. After speaking to me, he assessed me as a “low risk and requiring only routine outpatient follow-up [with] no need for … closer clinical observation.” In particular, he indicated that my statement about the waist band of my underwear was in no way prompted by “a psychiatric condition.”

(5)      Since 2 March 2011, I have been stripped of all my clothing at night. I have been told that the PCF Commander intends on continuing this practice indefinitely. Initially, after surrendering my clothing to the Brig guards, I had no choice but to lay naked in my cold jail cell until the following morning. The next morning I was told to get out of my bed for the morning Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) inspection. I was not given any of my clothing back. I got out of the bed and immediately started to shiver because of how cold it was in my cell. I walked towards the front of my cell with my hands covering my genitals. The guard told me to stand at parade rest, which required me to stand with my hands behind my back and my legs spaced shoulder width apart. I stood at “parade rest” for about three minutes until the DBS arrived. Once the DBS arrived, everyone was called to attention. The DBS and the other guards walked past my cell. The DBS looked at me, paused for a moment, and then continued to the next detainee’s cell. I was incredibly embarrassed at having all these people stare at me naked. After the DBS completed his inspection, I was told to go sit on my bed. About ten minutes later I was given my clothes and allowed to get dressed.

(6)      After apparent outside pressure on the Brig due to my mistreatment, I was given a suicide prevention article of clothing called a “smock” by the guards. Although I am still required to strip naked in my cell at night, I am now given the “smock” to wear. At first, I did not want to wear this item of clothing due to how coarse it was and how uncomfortable it felt. However, the Brig now orders me to wear the “smock” at night.

(7)     Given the above circumstances, the decision to strip me of my clothing every night for an indefinite period of time is clearly punitive in nature. There is no mental health justification for the decision. I am under 24 hour surveillance, with guards never being more than a few feet away from my cell. I am permitted to have my underwear and clothing during the day, with no apparent concern that I will harm myself during this time period. The determination to strip me of all my clothing every night since 2 March 2011 is without justification and therefore constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment.

The denial of Manning’s request to be removed from Prevention of Injury Watch and to have his custody classification reduced from Maximum to Medium Detention-In treatment has been appealed is now on its way to Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, for his final review.  If Secretary Mabus denies PFC Manning’s requested relief, Manning’s attorney David Coombs will file a Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley recently speaking to a small audience at MIT on “The Benefits of New Media as it Relates to Foreign Policy” put it mildly when he said what’s being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”  Let’s hope Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has more humanity and sense of justice then the Marines at the Quantico Brig.

 
Take Action:

Visit the Bradley Manning Support Network to support Manning and get involved.

If you are in the Washington, DC area, please join us for a fundraiser this Sunday at Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, DC, 4p.m

There will rally to support Bradley Manning in the Quantico/Triangle area at 2p.m., Sunday the 20th. Among the speakers at the rally are Daniel Ellsberg, Col. Ann Wright, Jeff Patterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network, and David House who will join us immediately after visiting his friend Bradley at the brig. Invite your friends and family.

NOTA DE EDITOR

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya fue entrevistado por Xu Jingjing por un artículo sobre la amenaza construir contra Libia por Semana de la Vida, una revista china mayor basada en Beijing, el 10 de marzo de 2011. La entrevista por Semana de la Vida discute las divergencias dentro de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN) y qué implica las zonas de no-vuelo.

También se dirige los roles que juegan las inmensas reservas energía de Libia y la influencia china en África la obra. Termina discutiendo el efecto que los destabilización de Libia podrían tener para África.

Para la consulta, el artículo citado por Xu Jinjing es el artículo de Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya de Global Research: ¿Está Washington empujando para la Guerra Civil para justificar una Intervención Militar de EEUU-OTAN?

Lo que sigue es la trascripción inglesa de la entrevista:

 

XU JINGJING: Ahora los miembros de OTAN y EEUU tienen divergencias si ellos deben intervenir militarmente en Libia. El PM británico es muy activo para llamar por las zonas de no-vuelo, pero Francia e Italia rechazan este tipo de propuesta. ¿Refleja la divergencia los intereses diferentes de esos países? ¿Cómo? ¿Por qué favorecen PM Cameron lo militar para intervenir?

NAZEMROAYA: Tiene que ser hecho claro que EEUU y la Unión Europea son socios. Como poderes capitalista, EEUU y la Unión Europea compiten entre si; la competencia es una parte de su naturaleza. Pero esta competencia está limitada y Washington y Bruselas han estado trabajando para reducir la rivalidad a través de la política y armonización del mercado.

Las políticas extranjeras de EEUU y Unión Europea a muchos niveles, sobre todo en campañas militares, casi se alinea perfectamente. A veces la Unión Europea es encubierta sobre esto. Lo que Washington y sus aliados europeos están haciendo es un acto para el público donde se usa una estrategia de policía bueno, policía malo. Un partido actúa pendenciero como el policía malo y el otro partido actúa suave como el policía bueno, pero ambos lados realmente están trabajando para el mismo objetivo.

Las divergencias en OTAN son una muestra para el público por estos gobiernos. En la Unión Europea las personas están predominantemente contra la guerra y las personas no quieren que su gobierno los arrastre a otra guerra de agresión de EEUU.

La Administración Obama no quiere ser vista como el agresor principal, porque la reputación internacional del EEUU ha sido herida por las largas guerras en Afganistán e Irak. Londres está jugando ahora la primacía como el policía malo, mientras Washington intentará ser el policía bueno. Esto es por qué el primero ministro Cameron de Gran Bretaña ha sido halcón sobre atacar Libia y tomar la primacía empujando internacionalmente por la intervención militar contra Libia.

París y Roma han estado haciendo deliberadamente signos mixtos sobre la intervención militar contra Trípoli. El Presidente francés, Nicolás Sarkozy, y el primer ministro italiano, Silvio Berlusconi, los dos están sufriendo respecto a las opiniones públicas en casa. Sus casos son diferentes del caso del primer ministro Cameron que relativamente hablando es una nueva cara fresca como líder europeo. Las acciones hablan más ruidosamente que las palabras.

Todo que los gobiernos franceses e italianos han hecho es en preparación para la confrontación con los libios. Francia ha enviado ayuda y consejeros militares a la oposición de Libia y los oficiales franceses también han hecho declaraciones poco-importantes sobre apoyo por las operaciones militares contra Libia.

Deliberadamente están re-definiéndose el humanitarismo y la guerra. El 7 de marzo de 2010 el Secretario de Prensa de la Casa Blanca, James Carney, incluso declaró que la “ayuda humanitaria” será categorizada como una acción militar. Respecto a Roma, Italia ha suspendido o ha repudiado su Tratado de Amistad con Libia.

Hay una cláusula de la no-agresión en este tratado entre Trípoli y Roma. Con la suspensión de este tratado, Italia ha permitido eficazmente a EEUU y la OTAN usar las bases italianas en operaciones contra Libia.

XU JINGJING: Parece que EEUU está dudando en el asunto. ¿Cuáles son los pros y contras americanos en la propuesta? ¿Cómo tasa usted la posibilidad de interferencia americana? ¿Cuál serán los factores decisivos para las decisiones políticas americanas?

NAZEMROAYA: De nuevo, EEUU está permitiendo a Gran Bretaña y sus socios europeos en OTAN jugar la primacía en la plataforma pública en un acto de policía-bueno, policía-malo. La meta del gobierno americano es impedirse parecer el agresor. Para ser franco, el gobierno americano no tiene ningún problema ético sobre ir la guerrea con Libia. De hecho, según el general Wesley Clark, el ex comandante de OTAN, un ataque sobre Libia ha sido planeado desde 2001.

La lista de blancos del Pentágono también incluyó Irak, Líbano, Sudán, Somalia, Siria, e Irán. En cuanto a la interferencia, el EEUU ha empezado ya sus operaciones en Libia, pero está haciendo esto en secreto. Estas operaciones americanas incluyen mapeo y marca de blancos en Libia. Actualmente, el gran problema de la Casa Blanca es que tiene miedo de la reacción del pueblo americano y tiene miedo de las ramificaciones de la opinión negativa del público internacional. La situación doméstica en América es muy tensa y otra guerra podría encender las protestas masivas y actos de desobediencia civil que reflejarían las protestas en EEUU contra la invasión de Vietnam. EEUU quiere actuar de tres maneras. El primer objetivo americano es retratarse como el “tipo bueno” que es renuente a intervenir en Libia o usar la fuerza militar.

Esto es que por qué hay que una campaña de desinformación de los grandes medios de comunicación diseñada para crear la imagen de una crisis humanitaria en Libia. La reacción inmediata del Presidente Obama a los eventos en Libia es de dos caras, porque cuando el ejército bahreiní atacó a los manifestantes pacíficos EEUU no tomó ninguna acción real y ninguna sanción se impuso.

Segundo, la imagen de crisis humanitaria que yo mencioné simplemente es un pretexto fabricado para empezar una guerra. Los informes que jets libios militares atacaron a civiles y manifestantes al inicio del levantamiento en Libia es falsa.

El ejército ruso también ha verificado estas demandas como siendo falsa. Los informes que el ejército de Libia también ejecutó grandes números de sus propios soldados también son falsos. Hay video de evidencia que las ejecuciones de tropas libias fueron dirigidas por elementos dentro de las fuerzas de oposición.

La segunda cosa que EEUU quiere hacer se vuelve ahora mismo es conseguir que los libios hagan la mayoría de la luchando en tierra. Como en Yugoslavia EEUU tiene un interés en alimentar la guerra civil entre múltiples lados. Una guerra civil libia también ellos da una excusa a EEUU y a sus aliados para atacar Libia o aislar Libia internacionalmente como ellos hicieron a Saddam Hussein e Irak después de la  Guerra del Golfo Pérsico 1991. Ellos harán esto diciendo que ellos están “impidiéndole a Qaddafi matar a su propia gente.”

EEUU también quiere una guerra civil libia para generar libia apoyo interior para EEUU y la intervención de OTAN. Hay ya informes que EEUU está canalizando armas desde Egipto y Arabia Saudita en Libia para las fuerzas de oposición. La tercera cosa que los americanos necesitan también se atan al segundo punto de conseguir que los libios hicieran toda la lucha en la tierra. EEUU preferiría estar involucrado en una guerra aérea con combate de tierra limitado.

El Pentágono probablemente enviaría tropas para asegurar locaciones estratégicas, como las instalaciones de petróleo y puertos costeros, y pequeñas unidades de comando en operaciones contra la infraestructura y el aparato de comando y control de Libia. Simplemente como el ejército británico, el EEUU ya ha enviado pequeñas unidades de comando y fuerzas especiales en Libia. Estas fuerzas extranjeras están trabajando para desestabilizar Libia y también están estableciendo la base para cualquier futuro ataque aéreo. El punto principal, sin embargo, es que el Pentágono quiere usar tan pocos soldados como sea posible.

El Ejército americano y los Marinos americanos son ambos desgastados en Irak y Afganistán.

EEUU también quiere tener tan pocos soldados como sea posible en tierra para mantener los soldados americanos fuera de los ojos de tantos ciudadanos de Libia como sea posible, porque las personas de Libia podrían reaccionar muy negativamente y percibir las tropas americanas como fuerzas de ocupación.

Finalmente, el EEUU también quiere desplegar un número más pequeño de soldados para reducir el número de posibles bajas americanas para prevenir el enojo doméstico entre los ciudadanos americanos. Esto es por qué la Casa Blanca y el Pentágono prefieren usar fuerzas apoderadas de Libia para hacer su lucha contra Trípoli.

Así un despliegue masivo de tropas americanas por el Pentágono parece estar específicamente fuera de la cuestión. Nosotros podemos esperar que EEUU use mercenarios o “contratistas de seguridad” como los llama, como en Irak y Afganistán. Si la guerra empieza y Libia es invadida, nosotros posiblemente podemos ver una presencia más pronunciada de tropas de los miembros europeos de OTAN que las fuerzas militares americanas puedan sombrear. El mundo sabe ahora que George W. Bush y Tony Blair tomaron una determinación sobre invadir Irak antes de que ellos hayan presentado sus engañosos argumentos al mundo.

Obama y sus aliados de la Unión Europea no son diferentes. Como ellos confrontan con Libia precisamente todavía será visto.

Hay un inter-juego entre los recursos militares, presión pública, los medios de comunicación haciendo campaña, y el estado de la lucha en Libia que demostrará ser decisivo. La posición de otros países independientes, sobre todo Rusia y China, también será muy importante a cómo EEUU y OTAN se conducen en África del Norte.

XU JINGJING: ¿Cómo se llevarán a cabo las zonas de no-vuelo? ¿Los países de la Unión Europea, sobre todo Gran Bretaña, tienen la capacidad para llevar a cabo las zonas de no-vuelo por si mismos su propio o tienen ellos que confiar en América?

NAZEMROAYA: En el más franco de los términos, una Zona de no-vuelo es equivalente a un acto de guerra. Para imponer una zona de no vuelo sobre Libia significa que allí tendrán que ser operaciones militares en tierra y en el aire. Los blancos en tierra de Libia tienen que ser sistemáticamente localizados, expuestos, y entonces atacados. Las defensas e infraestructura de Libia tienen que ser destruidas. Esto involucrará varias operaciones. Así las operaciones del combate o una campaña militar tendrán que ser lanzadas contra la fuerza aérea de libia y unidades de tierra de Libia que tienen capacidades de defensa aérea.

En tercer lugar, las pistas de aterrizaje de libia, hangares, y aviones tienen que ser destruidas. Mientras esto se hace, EEUU y sus aliados también aprovecharán definitivamente la oportunidad de debilitar al régimen atacando blancos no-relacionados. Naturalmente, el coronel Qaddafi y el ejército de Libia apenas no estarán y mirarán.

Ellos lucharán y se defenderán. La campaña se lanzará desde la armada naval de buques de guerra fuera de la costa de Libia y desde Italia y las islas de Chipre, Creta, y Malta. Yo haré dos puntos importantes respecto a la aplicación de la división en zonas de no-vuelo en África del Norte. Permítame estar claro, EEUU y sus socios de la Unión Europea están en acuerdo detrás de la escena. Lo que ellos están todos analizando ahora mismo son los medios más eficaces para perseguir sus objetivos en Libia.

Ellos se están alistando para imponer zonas de no-vuelo en Libia como ellos hicieron en Irak y en los Balcanes contra la ex Yugoslavia. El Senado americano ya aprobó una resolución que le insta al Presidente Obama que impusiera una Zona de no-vuelo en Libia. Con respecto a las capacidades de los estados de la Unión Europea para imponer zonas de no-vuelo, ellos no lo harán solos. EEUU es el jugador dominante en OTAN.

Pero me gustaría también dar énfasis que OTAN no es la poderosa máquina de guerra como la que se retrata. Hoy, OTAN está perdiendo la guerra en Afganistán ante luchadores de guerrilla ligeramente armados que no tienen armas o tecnología sofisticada. Incluso en Yugoslavia la única razón por que Belgrado se rindió era porque OTAN estaba castigando la población civil en su campaña. El ejército yugoslavo no perdió ante OTAN, se rindió debido a estos ataques sobre civiles que incluyeron lugares como hospitales, fábricas, y escuelas.

Ni puede OTAN reunir bastantes tropas para el combate prolongado en Libia. Esto es por qué EEUU y OTAN quieren primero alimentar la guerra civil en Libia y fracturar el país en los múltiples lados.

XU JINGJING: La lucha por el petróleo es la clave en la política de Libia. Después del 2000, Libia reformó su sector de petróleo y permitió las inversiones de compañías de petróleo extranjeras en Libia. Él relevó mucho la tensión entre Libia y el Oeste. Bajo ésta circunstancia ¿cómo eran las inversiones de compañías de petróleo extranjeras en Libia antes del levantamiento? ¿Por qué quieren los países Occidentales todavía que Qadaffi salga?

NAZEMROAYA: Es verdad que EEUU y la Unión Europea han establecido una posición en las reservas de energía de Libia. Pero es importante pensar en los eventos en Libia y África del Norte en un sentido estratégico. El llamado Oeste está deseoso tomar pérdidas a corto plazo por ganancias a largo plazo. En este sentido nosotros podemos comparar Libia a Irak.

En 1958 Irak tuvo una revolución y seguidamente nacionalizó que las reservas de petróleo. El llamado Oeste era infeliz, pero jugó frío y esperó por la oportunidad correcta. La Revolución Iraní 1979 fue esta oportunidad. En este momento EEUU e Irak reasumieron las relaciones diplomáticas y los gobiernos Occidentales instigaron la Guerra de Irak-Irán. Ellos acostumbraron esto a debilitar a iraquíes e iraníes. Parafraseando a Henry Kissinger, la idea era hacer a los iraquíes e iraníes matarse y neutralizarse entre si.

Una vez que la Guerra de Irak-Irán acabó el precio del petróleo fue manipulado deliberadamente para debilitar económicamente a Irak e Irán. Saddam Hussein necesitaba dinero para pagar por las deudas iraquíes de la Guerra Irak-Irán y como resultado fue entrampado en atacar Kuwait. Abril Glaspie, la embajadora americana en Bagdad, según los iraquíes, le dio la luz verde a Saddam Hussein para invadir Kuwait en agosto de 1990. Cuando el ejército iraquí estaba en la frontera de Kuwait, el Departamento de Estado americano está en el registro por decir que era  un “problema árabe-árabe” y no involucraba al gobierno americano.

Cuando Irak invadió Kuwait empezó una gran campaña de la propaganda. EEUU puso en orden a Nayirah Al-Sabah, la hija del enviado Kuwaití a Washington, para pretender que ella era una enfermera en un hospital Kuwaití. Al-Sabah dijo falsamente exigió que como enfermera ella vio tropas iraquíes tirando a los bebés kuwaitíes de las incubadoras para morirse.

Después de la Guerra del Golfo Pérsico, EEUU y Gran Bretaña debilitaron despacio a Irak y también estaban envueltas en operaciones de propaganda mayores en el 2003 incluidas las fotografías doctoradas para hacer parecer que los iraquíes apoyaron la invasión angloamericana.

¿Cuál es el resultado final de todo esto? Para contestar su pregunta, el Oeste recobró los campos “perdidos” de petróleo en Irak.

British Petroleum, Shell, Total, y Chevron poseen ahora todo el petróleo iraquí. El Oeste regresa en los campos de petróleo iraquíes. Aparte de la brutal guerra angloamericana y la ocupación de Irak, ésta es uno de las razones por que los niveles de vida iraquíes se han caído. Ésta también es una de las razones que hay grandes protestas por ciudadanos iraquíes por Irak que se oponen a que su petróleo sea robado.

En el caso de Libia el petróleo fue nacionalizado en 1969 cuando Qaddafi y un grupo de oficiales de Libia echaron la monarquía que sirvió los intereses angloamericanos. Ahora el Oeste quiere tomar todo el petróleo en Libia.

Lo que también es muy importante notar es el rol que China juega en todo esto. Hoy todos los caminos llevan a Beijing. La República Popular de China está para volverse una superpotencia global.

China está en la suba. En África, EEUU y la Unión Europea no pueden competir justamente con China y su creciente poder económico. Ellos usan la manipulación política a su favor, porque ellos no pueden competir con Beijing. EEUU también quiere controlar el flujo de energía a China como un medios para tener de rehén de China e impedirle volverse una superpotencia. Parte de EEUU y OTAN, el movimiento geo-político están atados a esto.

Washington busca crear problemas en todos los lugares donde Beijing está ganando una posición en África. No habría movimiento separatista en Sudán del Sur si estuviera el petróleo aceite en Sudán a  Europa Occidental, EEUU y no a China. Como en el resto de África, en Libia la influencia china también estaba creciendo. Esto incluye el sector de energía de Libia.

Qaddafi no es alguien que Washington y sus aliados controlan como un cliente. Él tiene sus propios objetivos. Estos objetivos son afianzar su régimen sin tener amos extranjeros, liderar a África y los  rabes, y ser parte de una contra-alianza global que EEUU y OTAN no puedan amenazar. Antes hoy, yo habría dicho que Beijing habría terminado comprando gas  y en el futuro la mayoría del petróleo en Libia. Si Qaddafi se queda en el poder, yo estoy seguro que esto pasará.

Si Washington y la Unión Europea no controlan Libia, nosotros también podríamos ver un cambio geo-político mayor en Libia.

Trípoli se re-orientará  agresivamente hacia China y Rusia. Aun ahora yo me anoticio de Libia que el gobierno de Qaddafi constantemente está  encontrándose con diplomáticos chinos y rusos. Si las demandas incorrectas de los medios de comunicación corriente principales son expuestas como falsas al público general, también pueden desarmarse los pretextos para la guerra contra Libia.

XU JINGJING: En uno de sus artículos, usted mencionó:

“Todos los Estados vecinos en África del Norte serían desestabilizados por los eventos en Libia. El caos en el Mundo  árabe se ha visto como beneficioso en muchos círculos estratégicos en Washington, Tel Aviv, Londres, y el cuartel general de OTAN. Si Libia entra en un estado de guerra civil o se balcaniza esto beneficiará a EEUU y la Unión Europea en el largo plazo y tendrá  implicancias geo-políticas serias.”

¿Podría usted explicarme por favor a mí por qué todos los estados vecinos en África del Norte serían desestabilizados por los eventos en Libia? ¿Cómo se beneficiarán EEUU y sus aliados de la inestabilidad?

NAZEMROAYA: Ésta es una pregunta excelente. Libia puede llamarse un eje geo-político. Los países lindantes a Libia son Egipto, Sudán, Chad, Túnez, Argelia, y Níger.

Todos estos países tienen lazos con Libia que van bien más allá de sus fronteras. Esto es  en la forma de fuertes lazos etno-culturales, tribales, o etno-culturales y tribales a Libia. En considera a las tribus, las que en Libia son tribus en Sudán, Argelia, Chad, y Níger. Estos eslabones tribales van más allá  de las fronteras modernas y se extienden en una red todo el camino desde Libia en Mauritania, Malí, y Nigeria en África Oriental.

Si Libia es dividida y las tribus son galvanizadas entre estas divisiones, esto llevará  a conflictos que afectarán todos los países vecinos. Si las cosas se mueven en espiral fuera de control, esta clase de conflictos cruzan la frontera y la inestabilidad que han existido en Ruanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, y la República Democrática del Congo es lo que podría ocurrir respecto a Libia y sus vecinos.

Nosotros también vimos este tipo de relación respecto a Darfour en Sudán y Chad y respecto a Chad y la República Central Africana.

La inestabilidad deja un vacío. También crea una atmósfera anómica en un país y su sociedad.

Anomia es lo que los sociólogos llaman una condición de inestabilidad social que resulta por una corrosión o falta de normas sociales. Esto también puede aplicarse a la economía. Las sociedades que están experimentando anomia se vuelven más maleables para condicionar y reestructurar. Esto es lo qué hacen los conflictos y crisis.

Esto también es cómo los recursos nacionales de la ex Yugoslavia e Irak fueron privatizados por Washington y sus aliados. Washington y sus aliados en la Unión Europea ven tal Estado de levantamiento como una oportunidad para instalarse y ejercer el control.

Éste ha sido su modus operandi a lo largo de África desde el fin del colonialismo. ¿Por qué más los belgas desestabilizaron el Congo? El llamado Oeste mantiene su control sobre África a través de la desestabilización.

Ésta también es su meta en Asia. Estas son parcialmente las razones por qué EEUU apoyan Taipei china y previene un arreglo pacíficos entre Pyongyang y Seúl en la Península coreana.

Esto también es por qué EEUU está animando que los japoneses confronten a los ruso por las Islas Kuriles y apoyando cualquier forma de antagonismo entre China y sus vecinos.

Texto original en inglés: Libya in the Cross-Hairs of a “Humanitarian War” 

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
se especializa en el Oriente Medio y Asia Central. Es un investigador asociado en el Centro de Investigación sobre Globalización.

Lobbying for War “To Save the US Economy”

March 10th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

Former Goldman Sachs Analyst Charles Nenner Joins Marc Faber and Gerald Celente in Predicting Major War

I noted in 2009:

The claim that America would launch more wars to the help the economy is outrageous, right?

Certainly.

But leading economist Marc Faber has repeatedly said that the American government will start new wars in response to the economic crisis:

Is Faber crazy?

Maybe. But top trend forecaster Gerald Calente agrees.

As Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo writes:

As Gerald Celente, one of the few economic forecasters who predicted the ‘08 crash, put it the other day, “Governments seem to be emboldened by their failures.” What the late Gen. William E. Odom trenchantly described as “the worst strategic disaster in American military history” – the invasion of Iraq – is being followed up by a far larger military operation, one that will burden us for many years to come. This certainly seems like evidence in support of the Celente thesis, and the man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash, the fall of the Soviet Union, the dot-com bust, the gold bull market, the 2001 recession, the real estate bubble, the “Panic of ‘08,” and now is talking about the inevitable popping of the “bailout bubble,” has more bad news:

“Given the pattern of governments to parlay egregious failures into mega-failures, the classic trend they follow, when all else fails, is to take their nation to war.”

As the economic crisis escalates and the debt-based central banking system shows it can no longer re-inflate the bubble by creating assets out of thin air, an economic and political rationale for war is easy to come by; for if the Keynesian doctrine that government spending is the only way to lift us out of an economic depression is true, then surely military expenditures are the quickest way to inject “life” into a failing system. This doesn’t work, economically, since the crisis is only maksed by the wartime atmosphere of emergency and “temporary” privation. Politically, however, it is a lifesaver for our ruling elite, which is at pains to deflect blame away from itself and on to some “foreign” target.

It’s the oldest trick in the book, and it’s being played out right before our eyes, as the U.S. prepares to send even more troops to the Afghan front and is threatening Iran with draconian economic sanctions, a step or two away from outright war.

A looming economic depression and the horrific prospect of another major war – the worst-case scenario seems to be unfolding, like a recurring nightmare …

Forecaster Celente has identified several bubbles, the latest being the “bailout bubble,” slated to pop at any time, yet there may be another bubble to follow what Celente calls “the mother of all bubbles,” one that will implode with a resounding crash heard ’round the world – the bubble of empire.

Our current foreign policy of global hegemonism and unbridled aggression is simply not sustainable, not when we are on the verge of becoming what we used to call a Third World country, one that is bankrupt and faces the prospect of a radical lowering of living standards. Unless, of course, the “crisis” atmosphere can be sustained almost indefinitely.

George W. Bush had 9/11 to fall back on, but that song is getting older every time they play it. Our new president needs to come up with an equivalent, one that will divert our attention away from Goldman Sachs and toward some overseas enemy who is somehow to be held responsible for our present predicament.

It is said that FDR’s New Deal didn’t get us out of the Great Depression, but World War II did. The truth is that, in wartime, when people are expected to sacrifice for the duration of the “emergency,” economic problems are anesthetized out of existence by liberal doses of nationalist chest-beating and moral righteousness. Shortages and plunging living standards were masked by a wartime rationing system and greatly lowered expectations. And just as World War II inured us to the economic ravages wrought by our thieving elites, so World War III will provide plenty of cover for a virtual takeover of all industry by the government and the demonization of all political opposition as “terrorist”.

An impossible science-fictional scenario? Or a reasonable projection of present trends? Celente, whose record of predictions is impressive, to say the least, sees war with Iran as the equivalent of World War III, with economic, social, and political consequences that will send what is left of our empire into a tailspin. This is the popping of the “hyperpower” bubble, the conceit that we – the last superpower left standing – will somehow defy history and common sense and avoid the fate of all empires: decline and fall.

I certainly hope Faber and Calente are wrong. But they are both very smart guys who have been right on many of their forecasts for decades. Even when their predictions have been viewed as extremely controversial at the time, many of them have turned out to be right.

Yesterday, former Goldman Sachs technical analyst Charles Nenner – who has made some big accurate calls, and counts major hedge funds, banks, brokerage houses, and high net worth individuals as clients. – told Fox News that there will be “a major war starting at the end of 2012 to 2013”, which will drive the Dow to 5,000.

Therefore, says Nenner:

I told my clients and pension funds and big firms and hedge funds to almost go out of the market, almost totally out of the market.

As I have repeatedly documented, influential Americans are lobbying for war in order to save the American economy – what is often called “military Keynesianism”. But as many economists have shown, war is – contrary to commonly-accepted myth – actually bad for the economy.

Of course, someone other than the U.S. might start a war.

Given that bad economic policies are leading to unrest globally, it is impossible to predict where a spark might land which leads to a wider conflagration.

Moscow is concerned that the turmoil in the Arab world aggravated by western interference may destabilise Russia’s restive North Caucasus and former Soviet Central Asia

-Although Russian leaders have not named any country, experts and politicians have pointed a finger at the United States.

“The Arab revolt may have begun as spontaneous protests, but the West has now moved to take the endgame under its control,” says Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma. Analysts say the U.S. is using the same techniques in the Arab East it earlier used in staging “coloured revolutions” in the former Soviet Union — in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. They noted the role of CIA-linked foundations such as the Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in supporting and training civil activists and Twitter and Facebook organisers of the protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

“The events [in the Arab world] bear all the traits of a total ‘network war’ (netwar) as formulated by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt of the RAND Corporation back in 1996,” says Alexander Knyazev of the Moscow-based Institute of Oriental Studies.

-Some Russian analysts are convinced that the U.S. is attempting to exploit the wave of popular rebellions in the Arab east to recast the world order and achieve global domination.
-Russian experts have warned that the U.S. could now push ahead with its plan of creating a Greater Central Asia, which is part of the larger project, the Greater Middle East.

Russia believes that the ongoing revolt in West Asia and North Africa, while having internal roots, also betrays a foreign hand. Warnings against foreign interference have dominated Moscow’s reaction to the crisis since the first demonstrations in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak.

“We do not think that foisting any recipes or giving ultimatums will serve any useful purpose,” said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the first official comment in Moscow on the unfolding popular revolt in Egypt on February 2. The Foreign Ministry followed up this statement with repeated warnings against foreign meddling. In a phone call to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on February 23, Mr. Lavrov “rejected attempts to bring outside pressure on the events in the region.”

Russia has also opposed western military interference in the civil strife in Libya. “Attempts to undertake military-political intervention can only aggravate problems the Libyan people face,” the Foreign Ministry said in a communiqué on a meeting between Russian and Saudi diplomats in Moscow last week.

President Dmitry Medvedev suggested that the revolts in the Arab world were instigated by outside forces that had also been scheming to subvert Russia. “I won’t call any names but a whole range of countries, even those we have friendly relations with, have nevertheless been involved in terrorism in the [Russian] Caucasus,” he said at a recent meeting with Russia’s security chiefs. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also urged western nations to refrain from interfering in the rebellions in the Arab world. “People should have the chance to choose their own fates and their own futures without any kind of outside interference,” the Kremlin supremo said on a recent visit to Brussels.

Although Russian leaders have not named any country, experts and politicians have pointed a finger at the United States. “The Arab revolt may have begun as spontaneous protests, but the West has now moved to take the endgame under its control,” says Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma. Analysts say the U.S. is using the same techniques in the Arab East it earlier used in staging “coloured revolutions” in the former Soviet Union — in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. They noted the role of CIA-linked foundations such as the Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in supporting and training civil activists and Twitter and Facebook organisers of the protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

“The events [in the Arab world] bear all the traits of a total ‘network war’ (netwar) as formulated by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt of the RAND Corporation back in 1996,” says Alexander Knyazev of the Moscow-based Institute of Oriental Studies.

At the height of the Arab crisis, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared a netwar on all “repressive governments.” In a speech at George Washington University on February 15, she vowed to promote “internet freedom” around the world by matching “our diplomacy with technology, secure distribution networks for tools, and direct support for those on the front lines.”

Ms Clinton announced that in addition to launching Twitter feeds in Arabic and Farsi, the U.S. was planning to “start similar ones in Chinese, Russian, and Hindi.”

Some Russian analysts are convinced that the U.S. is attempting to exploit the wave of popular rebellions in the Arab east to recast the world order and achieve global domination. “We are witnessing attempts to reformat the Greater Middle East according to a plan devised by the U.S. neoconservatives who are now creeping back to power,” says the former diplomat and scholar Vyacheslav Matuzov, who heads the Russia-Arab friendship society.

Whatever its aims in the current crisis, Washington’s interventionism may have unintended results, as Mr. Putin reminded the West recently citing its previous attempts to “impose democracy” in Iran and Palestine.

Speaking in Brussels last month, he recalled that the Iranian revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had enjoyed the support of the West while living in France before he returned to the country in 1979 to lead the Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah. “And now the West is grappling with the Iranian nuclear programme,” Mr. Putin said.

“I remember our partners calling for fair democratic elections in the Palestinian territories,” he went on. “Excellent! Those elections were won by Hamas. They declared it a terrorist organisation and confronted it shortly thereafter.”

Moscow is concerned that the turmoil in the Arab world, aggravated by western interference, may destabilise Russia’s restive North Caucasus and former Soviet Central Asia.

Mr. Medvedev said the Arab rebellion would have a “direct impact” on Russia, which has fought two wars against Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the past 15 years and is still battling terrorism in the neighbouring territories. “They [extremists] prepared a similar scenario for us in the past, and will try and realise it again — now with renewed force,” the Russian leader said, adding: “Come what may, they won’t succeed.”

Islamist militants in the North Caucasus have indeed declared that their insurgency and the Arab revolt shared the same goal of spreading Islamic rule across the globe. “We pray that your struggle will help put the laws of Allah in place in the entire world,” Doku Umarov, self-proclaimed “Emir of Caucasian Mujahidin,” who claimed responsibility for the bloody suicide bombings on the Moscow metro in 2010 and the Domodedovo airport last month, said in a video address to Arab Muslims, posted on a militant website last week.

Russia is also bracing itself for a possible fallout of the Arab turmoil in Central Asia. “In the last 20 years, Moscow has had to deal with a bloody civil war in Tajikistan, two ‘tulip revolutions’ in Kyrgyzstan, and an abrupt change of a despot in Turkmenistan, but those were all local developments with limited implications for the wider region or for Russia.

What is looming on the horizon could be much bigger and more important,” writes political scientist Dmitry Trenin. He points out that the authoritarian leaders of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Islam Karimov and Nursultan Nazarbayev, both in their 70s, have been in power for two decades but “are neither able nor willing to arrange an orderly transfer of power” and their departure could “open the floodgates for serious trouble.”

Russian experts have warned that the U.S. could now push ahead with its plan of creating a Greater Central Asia, which is part of the larger project, the Greater Middle East.

“The concept of Greater Central Asia calls for the dilution of borders between the five post-Soviet states [Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan], and their merger with Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Dr. Knyazev explained in a recent interview. “Four years ago, I called the project ‘geopolitical marasmus’. However today it is shaping up as a hands-on plan for sowing chaos across entire Central Eurasia.”

Moscow has signalled its resolve to tighten its grip on Central Asia to forestall any possible spillover of instability from the Arab crisis. An unnamed official in the Russian “military-diplomatic quarters” told the government news agency Itar-Tass last week that the Moscow-led defence bloc of former Soviet states, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), was planning to hold consultations on the situation in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, considered the likely focal points of turmoil in Central Asia. The CSTO unites Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Armenia.

“The CSTO is concerned about renewed attempts of extremist groups to set up bases for expanding their subversive activities in Central Asian states,” the Russian official said. He pointed to last summer’s ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan and more recent fighting between security forces and Islamists in Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, as evidence of a “credible extremist threat” in the region.

Even before the unrest broke out in West Asia, Russia took steps to bolster security arrangements in Central Asia. A raft of documents signed in the framework of the CSTO security pact at the end of last year called for creating a concrete mechanism for deploying peacekeeping forces on a request from a member-state. Moscow cited the absence of such a mechanism for failing to send troops to Kyrgyzstan during last year’s violence in the Fergana Valley. Next time it will be different. On March 4, the CSTO announced plans to hold the first drills of its peacekeeping forces later this year.

Robber Barons, Revolution, and Social Control

March 10th, 2011 by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Introduction

In Part 1 of this series, “The Century of Social Engineering,” I briefly document the economic, political and social background to the 20th century in America, by taking a brief look at the major social upheavals of the 19th century. For an excellent and detailed examination of this history, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States  (which provided much of the research for this article) is perhaps the most expansive and detailed examination. I am not attempting to serve it justice here, as there is much left out of this historically examination than there is included. The purpose of this essay is to examine first of all the rise of class and labour struggle throughout the United States in the 19th century, the rise and dominance of the ‘Robber Baron’ industrialists like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, their convergence of interests with the state, and finally to examine the radical new philosophies and theories that arose within the radicalized and activated populations, such as Marxism and Anarchism. I do not attempt to provide exhaustive or comprehensive analyses of these theoretical and philosophical movements, but rather provide a brief glimpse to some of the ideas (particularly those of anarchism), and place them in the historical context of the mass struggles of the 19th century.

America’s Class Struggle

Unbeknownst to most Americans – and for that matter, most people in general – the United States in the 19th century was in enormous upheaval, following on the footsteps of the American Revolution, a revolution which was directed by the landed elite in the American colonies, a new revolutionary spirit arose in the working class populace. The 19th century, from roughly the 1830s onwards, was one great long labour struggle in America.

In the early decades of the 19th century, Eastern capitalists in America began to expand to the West, “and it became important to keep that new West, tumultuous and unpredictable, under control.”[1] The new capitalists favoured monopolization over competition as a method of achieving ‘stability’ and “security to your own property.” The state played its traditional role in securing business interests, as state legislatures gave charters to corporations, granting them legal charters, and “between 1790 and 1860, 2,300 corporations were chartered.”[2] However, as Howard Zinn wrote in A People’s History of the United States:

The attempts at political stability, at economic control, did not quite work. The new industrialism, the crowded cities, the long hours in the factories, the sudden economic crises leading to high prices and lost jobs, the lack of food and water, the freezing winters, the hot tenements in the summer, the epidemics of disease, the deaths of children – these led to sporadic reactions from the poor. Sometimes there were spontaneous, unorganized uprisings against the rich. Sometimes the anger was deflected into racial hatred for blacks, religious warfare against Catholics, nativist fury against immigrants. Sometimes it was organized into demonstrations and strikes.[3]

In the 1830s, “episodes of insurrection” were taking place amid the emergence of unions. Throughout the century, it was with each economic crisis that labour movements and rebellious sentiments would develop and accelerate. Such was the case with the 1837 economic crisis, caused by the banks and leading to rising prices. Rallies and meetings started taking place in several cities, with one rally numbering 20,000 people in Philadelphia. That same year, New York experienced the Flour Riot. With a third of the working class – 50,000 people – out of work in New York alone, and nearly half of New York’s 500,000 people living “in utter and hopeless distress,” thousands of protesters rioted, ultimately leading to police and troops being sent in to crush the protesters.[4]

In 1835 there had been a successful general strike in Philadelphia, where fifty trade unions had organized in favour of a ten-hour work day. In this context, political parties began creating divides between workers and lower class people, as antagonisms developed between many Protestants and Catholics. Thus, middle class politicians “led each group into a different political party (the nativists into the American Republican party, the Irish into the Democratic party), party politics and religion now substituting for class conflict.”[5]

Another economic crisis took place in 1857, and in 1860, a Mechanics Association was formed, demanding higher wages, and called for a strike. Within a week, strikes spread from Lynn, Massachusetts, to towns across the state and into New Hampshire and Maine, “with Mechanics Associations in twenty-five towns and twenty thousand shoe-workers on strike,” marking the largest strike prior to the Civil War.[6] Yet, “electoral politics drained the energies of the resisters into the channels of the system.” While European workers were struggling for economic justice and political democracy, American workers had already achieved political democracy, thus, “their economic battles could be taken over by political parties that blurred class lines.”[7]

The Civil War (1861-1865) served several purposes. First of all, the immediate economic considerations: the Civil War sought to create a single economic system for America, driven by the Eastern capitalists in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, uniting with the West against the slave-labour South. The aim was not freedom for black slaves, but rather to end a system which had become antiquated and unprofitable. With the Industrial Revolution driving people into cities and mechanizing production, the notion of slavery lost its appeal: it was simply too expensive and time consuming to raise, feed, house, clothe and maintain slaves; it was thought more logical and profitable (in an era obsessed with efficiency) to simply pay people for the time they engage in labour. The Industrial Revolution brought with it the clock, and thus time itself became a commodity. As slavery was indicative of human beings being treated as commodities to be bought and sold, owned and used, the Industrial Revolution did not liberate people from servitude and slavery, it simply updated the notions and made more efficient the system of slavery: instead of purchasing people, they would lease them for the time they can be ‘productive’.

Living conditions for the workers and the vast majority, however, were not very different from the conditions of slavery itself. Thus, as the Civil War was sold to the public on the notion of liberating the slaves in the South, the workers of the North felt betrayed and hateful that they must be drafted and killed for a war to liberate others when they themselves were struggling for liberation. Here, we see the social control methods and reorganizing of society that can take place through war, a fact that has always existed and remains today, made to be even more prescient with the advances in technology. During the Civil War, the class conflict among the working people of the United States transformed into a system where they were divided against each other, as religious and racial divisions increasingly erupted in violence. With the Conscription Act of 1863, draft riots erupted in several Northern U.S. cities, the most infamous of which was the New York draft riots, when for three days mobs of rioters attacked recruiting stations, wealthy homes, destroying buildings and killing blacks. Roughly four hundred people were killed after Union troops were called into the city to repress the riots.[8] In the South, where the vast majority of people were not slave owners, but in fact poor white farmers “living in shacks or abandoned outhouses, cultivating land so bad the plantation owners had abandoned it,” making little more than blacks for the same work (30 cents a day for whites as opposed to 20 cents a day for blacks). When the Southern Confederate Conscription Law was implemented in 1863, anti-draft riots erupted in several Southern cities as well.[9]

When the Civil War ended in 1865, hundreds of thousands of soldiers returned to squalor conditions in the major cities of America. In New York alone, 100,000 people lived in slums. These conditions brought a surge in labour unrest and struggle, as 100,000 went on strike in New York, unions were formed, with blacks forming their own unions. However, the National Labour Union itself suppressed the struggle for rights as it focused on ‘reforming’ economic conditions (such as promoting the issuance of paper money), “it became less an organizer of labor struggles and more a lobbyist with Congress, concerned with voting, it lost its vitality.”[10]

The Robber Barons Against Americans

In 1873, another major economic crisis took place, setting off a great depression. Yet, economic crises, while being harmful to the vast majority of people, increasing prices and decreasing jobs and wages, had the effect of being very beneficial to the new industrialists and financiers, who use crisis as an opportunity to wipe out competition and consolidate their power. Howard Zinn elaborated:

The crisis was built into a system which was chaotic in its nature, in which only the very rich were secure. It was a system of periodic crisis – 1837, 1857, 1873 (and later: 1893, 1907, 1919, 1929) – that wiped out small businesses and brought cold, hunger, and death to working people while the fortunes of the Astors, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans, kept growing through war and peace, crisis and recovery. During the 1873 crisis, Carnegie was capturing the steel market, Rockefeller was wiping out his competitors in oil.[11]

In 1877, a nation-wide railroad strike took place, infuriating the major railroad barons, particularly J.P. Morgan, offered to lend money to pay army officers to go in and crush the strikes and get the trains moving, which they managed to accomplish fairly well. Strikes took place and soldiers were sent in to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Indiana, with the whole city of Philadelphia in uproar, with a general strike emerging in Pittsburgh, leading to the deployment of the National Guard, who often shot and killed strikers. When all was said and done, a hundred people were dead, a thousand people had gone to jail, 100,000 workers had gone on strike, and the strikes had roused into action countless unemployed in the cities.[12] Following this period, America underwent its greatest spur of economic growth in its history, with elites from both North and South working together against workers and blacks and the majority of people:

They would do it with the aid of, and at the expense of, black labor, white labor, Chinese labor, European immigrant labor, female labor, rewarding them differently by race, sex, national origin, and social class, in such a way as to create separate levels of oppression – a skillful terracing to stabilize the pyramid of wealth.[13]

The bankers and industrialists, particularly Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon and Harriman, saw enormous increases in wealth and power. At the turn of the century, as Rockefeller moved from exclusively interested in oil, and into iron, copper, coal, shipping, and banking (with Chase Manhattan Bank, now J.P. Morgan Chase), his fortune would equal $2 billion. The Morgan Group also had billions in assets.[14] In 1900, Andrew Carnegie agreed to sell his steel company to J.P. Morgan for $492 million.[15]

Public sentiment at this time, however, had never been so anti-Capitalist and spiteful of the great wealth amassed at the expense of all others. The major industrialists and bankers firmly established their control over the political system, firmly entrenching the two party system through which they would control both parties. Thus, “whether Democrats or Republicans won, national policy would not change in any important way.”[16] Labour struggles had continued and exacerbated throughout the decades following the Civil War. In 1893, another economic depression took place, and the country was again plunged into social upheaval.

The Supreme Court itself was firmly overtaken by the interests of the new elite. Shortly after the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution to protect newly freed blacks, the Supreme Court began “to develop it as a protection for corporations,” as corporate lawyers argued that corporations were defined as legal ‘persons’, and therefore they could not have their rights infringed upon as stipulated in the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court went along with this reasoning, and even intervened in state legislative decisions which instead promoted the rights of workers and farmers. Ultimately, “of the Fourteenth Amendment cases brought before thee Supreme Court between 1890 and 1910, nineteen dealt with the Negro, 288 dealt with corporations.”[17]

It was in this context that increasing social unrest was taking place, and thus that new methods of social control were becoming increasingly necessary. Among the restless and disgruntled masses, were radical new social theories that had emerged to fill a void – a void which was created by the inherent injustice of living in a human social system in which there is a dehumanizing power structure.

Philosophies of Liberation and Social Dislocation

It was in this context that new theories and philosophies emerged to fill the void created by the hegemonic ideologies and the institutions which propagate them. While these various critical philosophies expanded human kind’s understanding of the world around them, they did not emerge in a vacuum – that is, separate from various hegemonic ideas, but rather, they were themselves products of and to varying degrees espoused certain biases inherent in the hegemonic ideologies. This arose in the context of increasing class conflict in both the United States and Europe, brought about as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Two of the pre-eminent ideologies and philosophies that emerged were Marxism and Anarchism.

Marxist theory, originating with German philosopher Karl Marx, expanded human kind’s understanding of the nature of capitalism and human society as a constant class struggle, in which the dominant class (the bourgeoisie), who own the means of production (industry) exploit the lower labour class (proletariat) for their own gain. Within Marxist theory, the state itself was seen as a conduit through which economic powers would protect their own interests. Marxist theory espoused the idea of a “proletarian revolution” in which the “workers of the world unite” and overthrow the bourgeoisie, creating a Communist system in which class is eliminated. However, Karl Marx articulated a concept of a “dictatorship of the proletariat” in which upon seizing power, the proletariat would become the new ruling class, and serve its own interests through the state to effect a transition to a Communist society and simultaneously prevent a counterrevolution from the bourgeoisie. Karl Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto (1848) also on the need for a central bank to manage the monetary system. These concepts led to significant conflict between Marxist and Anarchist theorists.

Anarchism is one of the most misunderstood philosophies in modern historical thought, and with good reason: it’s revolutionary potential was boundless, as it was an area of thought that was not as rigid, doctrinaire or divisive as other theories, both hegemonic and critical. No other philosophy or political theory had the potential to unite both socialists and libertarians, two seemingly opposed concepts that found a home within the wide spectrum of anarchist thought, leading to a situation in which many anarchists refer to themselves as ‘libertarian socialists.’ As Nathan Jun has pointed out:

[A]narchism has never been and has never aspired to be a fixed, comprehensive, self-contained, and internally consistent system of ideas, set of doctrines, or body of theory. On the contrary, anarchism from its earliest days has been an evolving set of attitudes and ideas that can apply to a wide range of social, economic, and political theories, practices, movements, and traditions.[18]

Susan Brown noted that within Anarchist philosophy, “there are mutualists, collectivists, communists, federalists, individualists, socialists, syndicalists, [and] feminists,” and thus, “Anarchist political philosophy is by no means a unified movement.”[19] The word “anarchy” is derived from the Greek word anarkhos, which means “without authority.” Thus, anarchy “is committed first and foremost to the universal rejection of coercive authority,” and that:

[C]oercive authority includes all centralized and hierarchical forms of government (e.g., monarchy, representative democracy, state socialism, etc.), economic class systems (e.g., capitalism, Bolshevism, feudalism, slavery, etc.), autocratic religions (e.g., fundamentalist Islam, Roman Catholicism, etc.), patriarchy, heterosexism, white supremacy, and imperialism.[20]

The first theorist to describe himself as anarchist was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French philosopher and socialist who understood “equality not just as an abstract feature of human nature but as an ideal state of affairs that is both desirable and realizable.”[21] While this was a common concept among socialists, anarchist conceptions of equality emphasized that, “true anarchist equality implies freedom, not quantity. It does not mean that every one must eat, drink, or wear the same things, do the same work, or live in the same manner. Far from it: the very reverse in fact,” as “individual needs and tastes differ, as appetites differ. It is equal opportunity to satisfy them that constitutes true equality.”[22]

Mikhail Bakunin, one of the most prominent anarchist theorists in history, who was also Karl Marx’s greatest intellectual challenger and opposition, explained that individual freedom depends upon not only recognizing, but “cooperating in [the] realization of others’ freedom,” as, he wrote:

My freedom… is the freedom of all since I am not truly free in thought and in fact, except when my freedom and my rights are confirmed and approved in the freedom and rights of all men and women who are my equals.[23]

Anarchists view representative forms of government, such as Parliamentary democracies, with the same disdain as they view overtly totalitarian structures of government. The reasoning is that:

In the political realm, representation involves divesting individuals and groups of their vitality—their power to create, transform, and change themselves. To be sure, domination often involves the literal destruction of vitality through violence and other forms of physical coercion. As a social-physical phenomenon, however, domination is not reducible to aggression of this sort. On the contrary, domination operates chiefly by “speaking for others” or “representing others to themselves”—that is, by manufacturing images of, or constructing identities for, individuals and groups.[24]

Mikhail Bakunin wrote that, “Only individuals, united through mutual aid and voluntary association, are entitled to decide who they are, what they shall be, how they shall live.” Thus, with any hierarchical or coercive institutions, the natural result is oppression and domination, or in other words, spiritual death.[25]

Anarchism emerged indigenously and organically in America, separate from its European counterparts. The first anarchists in America could be said to be “the Antinomians, Quakers, and other left-wing religious groups who found the authority, dogma, and formalism of the conventional churches intolerable.” These various religious groups came to develop “a political outlook which emphasized the anti-libertarian nature of the state and government.” One of the leaders of these religious groups, Adin Ballou, declared that “the essence of Christian morality is the rejection of force, compromise, and the very institution of government itself.” Thus, a Christian “is not merely to refrain from committing personal acts of violence but is to take positive steps to prevent the state from carrying out its warlike ambitions.”[26] This development occurred within the first decades of the 19th century in America.

In the next phase of American philosophical anarchism, inspiration was drawn from the idea of individualism. Josiah Warren, known as the “first American anarchist,” had published the first anarchist periodical in 1833, the Peaceful Revolutionist. Many others joined Warren in identifying the state as “the enemy” and “maintaining that the only legitimate form of social control is self-discipline which the individual must impose upon himself without the aid of government.” Philosophical anarchism grew in popularity, and in the 1860s, two loose federations of anarchists were formed in the New England Labor Reform League and the American Labor Reform League, which “were the source of radical vitality in America for several decades.” American anarchists were simultaneously developing similar outlooks and ideas as Proudhon was developing in Europe. One of the most prominent American anarchists, Benjamin Tucker, translated Proudhon’s work in 1875, and started his own anarchist journals and publications, becoming “the chief political theorist of philosophical anarchism in America.”[27]

Tucker viewed anarchism as “a rejection of all formalism, authority, and force in the interest of liberating the creative capacities of the individual,” and that, “the anarchist must remove himself from the arena of politics, refusing to implicate himself in groups or associations which have as their end the control or manipulation of political power.” Thus, Tucker, like other anarchists, “ruled out the concepts of parliamentary and constitutional government and in general placed himself and the anarchist movement outside the tradition of democracy as it had developed in America.” Anarchism has widely been viewed as a violent philosophy, and while that may be the case for some theorists and adherents, many anarchist theorists and philosophies rejected the notion of violence altogether. After all, its first adherents in America were driven to anarchist theory simply as a result of their uncompromising pacifism. For the likes of Tucker and other influential anarchist theorists, “the state, rather than being a real structure or entity, is nothing more than a conception. To destroy the state then, is to remove this conception from the mind of the individual.” Thus, the act of revolution “has nothing whatever to do with the actual overthrow of the existing governmental machinery,” and Proudhon opined that, “a true revolution can only take place as mankind becomes enlightened.” Revolution, to anarchists, was not an imminent reality, even though it may be an inevitable outcome:

The one thing that is certain is that revolution takes place not by a concerted uprising of the masses but through a process of individual social reformation or awakening. Proudhon, like Tucker and the native American anarchists, believed that the function of anarchism is essentially educational… The state will be abolished at the point at which people in general have become convinced of its un-social nature… When enough people resist it to the point of ignoring it altogether, the state will have been destroyed as completely as a scrap of paper is when it is tossed into a roaring fire.[28]

In the 1880s, anarchism was taken up by many of the radical immigrants coming into America from Europe, such as Johann Most and Emma Goldman, a Jewish Russian feminist anarchist. The press portrayed Goldman “as a vile and unsavory devotee of revolutionary violence.” Goldman partook in an attempted assassination of Henry C. Frick, an American industrialist and financier, historically known as one of the most ruthless businessmen and referred to as “the most hated man in America.” This was saying something in the era of J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Emma Goldman later regretted the attempted assassination and denounced violence as an anarchist methodology. However, she came to acknowledge a view similar to Kropotkin’s (another principle anarchist philosopher), “that violence is the natural consequence of repression and force”:

The state, in her opinion, sows the seeds of violence when it lends it authority and force to the retardation of social change, thereby creating deep-seated feelings of injustice and desperation in the collective unconscious. “I do not advocate violence, government does this, and force begets force.”[29]

The general belief was that “social violence is never arbitrary and meaningless. There is always a deep-seated cause standing behind every deed.” Thus:

Social violence, she argued, will naturally disappear at the point at which men have learned to understand and accommodate themselves to one another within a dynamic society which truly values human freedom. Until then we can expect to see pent up hostility and frustration of certain individuals and groups explode from time to time with the spontaneity and violence of a volcano.[30]

Thus we have come to take a brief glimpse of the social upheaval and philosophies gripping and spreading across the American (and indeed the European) landscape in the 19th century. As a radical reaction to the revolutionizing changed brought by the Industrial Revolution, class struggle, labor unrest, Marxism and Anarchism arose within a populace deeply unsatisfied, horrifically exploited, living in desperation and squalor, and lighting within them a spark – a desire – for freedom and equality. They were not ideologically or methodologically unified, specifically in terms of the objectives and ends; yet, their enemies were the same. It as a struggle among the people against the prevailing and growing sources of power: the state and Capitalist industrialization. The emergence of corporations in America after the Civil War (themselves a creation of the state), created new manifestations of exploitation, greed and power. The Robber Barons were the personification of ‘evil’ and in fact were quite openly and brazenly ruthless. The notion of ‘public relations’ had not yet been invented, and so the industrialists would openly and violently repress and crush struggles, strikes and protests. The state was, after all, firmly within their grip.

It was this revolutionary fervour that permeated the conniving minds of the rich and powerful within America, that stimulated the concepts of social control, and laid the foundations for the emergence of the 20th century as the ‘century of social engineering.’

In Part 2 of “The Century of Social Engineering,” I will identify new ideas of domination, oppression and social control that arose in response to the rise of new ideas of liberation and resistance in the 19th century. This process will take us through the emergence of the major universities and a new educational system, structure and curriculum, the rise of the major philanthropic foundations, and the emergence of public relations. The combination of these three major areas: education, philanthropy, and public relations (all of which interact and are heavily interdependent), merged and implemented powerful systems of social control, repressing the revolutionary upheaval of the 19th century and creating the conditions to transform American, and in fact, global society in the 20th century.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).  He is co-editor, with Michel Chossudovsky, of the recent book, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century,” available to order at Globalresearch.ca. He is currently working on a forthcoming book on ’Global Government’.

Notes

[1]        Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (Harper Perennial: New York, 2003), page 219

[2]        Ibid, pages 219-220.

[3]        Ibid, page 221.

[4]        Ibid, pages 224-225.

[5]        Ibid, pages 225-226.

[6]        Ibid, page 231.

[7]        Ibid, page 232.

[8]        Ibid, pages 235-236.

[9]        Ibid, pages 236-237.

[10]      Ibid, pages 241-242.

[11]      Ibid, page 242.

[12]      Ibid, pages 245-251.

[13]      Ibid, page 253.

[14]      Ibid, pages 256-257.

[15]      Ibid, page 257.

[16]      Ibid, page 258.

[17]      Ibid, pages 260-261.

[18]      Nathan Jun, “Anarchist Philosophy and Working Class Struggle: A Brief History and Commentary,” WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society (Vol. 12, September 2009), page 505

[19]      Ibid, page 506.

[20]      Ibid, pages 507-508.

[21]      Ibid, page 509.

[22]      Ibid, page 510.

[23]      Ibid, pages 510-511.

[24]      Ibid, page 512.

[25]      Ibid, page 512.

[26]      William O. Reichert, “Toward a New Understanding of Anarchism,” The Western Political Quarterly (Vol. 20, No. 4, December 1967), page 857.

[27]      Ibid, page 858.

[28]      Ibid, pages 858-860.

[29]      Ibid, pages 860-861.

[30]      Ibid, page 862.

The Dynamics of Right Wing Politics in America

March 10th, 2011 by Jack A. Smith

Republican politicians in Washington and the nation’s state houses are virtually wilding in the streets. It’s as though they are drunk with power, even though the Democrats actually are stronger by virtue of controlling the White House and Senate.

The actions by Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker to crush the public unions in the name of closing the budget deficit — after first gifting state businesses with tax breaks and programs amounting to $117 million — are just the leading edge of a broad national assault on worker rights, union rights, women’s rights, abortion rights, minority rights, and civil liberties.

The ultra-conservatives enthusiastically attack all government programs that benefit working people, oppose environmental protection, fight against measures to halt climate change, and cater exclusively to the forces that actually guide America’s destiny — big money, big business, big finance and big military, all the while whining about big government.

Why are they acting like feudal Crusaders besieging a Muslim fortress? They won the House and account for 29 governorships, but that’s hardly a mandate to implement their most extreme proposals — and they know it.

But they also know something else: the Obama Administration, which sets the pace for the Democrats,  would always rather compromise than fight. The Wisconsin public unions were encouraged by Democratic supporters to agree to substantial pay and benefit cuts to ward off stiffer punishments, but the Republican Senate voted last night to  strip them of most collective bargaining rights, and the Assembly is set to do more damage today.

Having miniaturized their moderate wing and neutered the neoconservatives, the Republican high command evidently believes the time has finally come to overturn some of the social advances gained through the struggles of the Sixties and the Great Depression. They are taking a page out of Naomi Klein’s book — “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” — by cynically exploiting the economic disaster to implement regressive economic and social policies.

Right wing politicians are now fallaciously claiming that the federal government is “going broke,” or “facing bankruptcy” due to the high federal deficit, and therefore “deep cuts are required” in spending programs intended to benefit working people and the poor. This is an old GOP canard, which the New York Times defined March 2 as “obfuscating nonsense.”

The sky-high deficit is largely the product of three things: the Bush Administration’s huge tax reductions, especially for the rich ($1 trillion extra to the richest 2% in the last 10 years), the economic recession (caused by the banks, Wall St. greed and government deregulation) and vast increases in military and national security spending during the last decade.

The unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for instance, are paid for by borrowing money. The amount spent just on these two wars this year alone could easily wipe out all the state budget deficits in America. (We remind our Hudson Valley readers of  the March 15 public meeting on the wars and the Middle East uprisings organized by the Activist Newsletter at SUNY New Paltz. See item below, and join us.)

President Bush knew exactly what he was doing by increasing the deficit because President Reagan before him did the same thing: they railed against taxes while boosting spending, the outcome of which inevitably leads to demands to cut programs for the people. One difference between the Reagan era and today is that many Congressional Republicans in the 1980s were not willing to trash the social safety net. This time that’s the target, along with the unions.

Now the emboldened conservatives preposterously blame public service workers and their unions for state deficits. For example, private sector workers in Wisconsin earn 4.8% more per hour than comparable public employees.

The real point is that Big Business has been trying to destroy the union movement for well over 100 years, and now their minions in government are trying to finish the job in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Florida and Tennessee by adopting or planning anti-union legislation.

The GOP governors and members of Congress claim they are “doing what the voters want,” but that’s nonsense.

The March 1 New York Times/CBS Poll, among others, shows that the public opposes weakening public service union bargaining rights by a margin of 60%-33%. Polls show that majorities favor hiking taxes on the rich to lower the deficit. For instance, in New Jersey, which has a budget-cutting Republican governor, a March 1 Rutgers-Eagleton poll showed that voters supported a tax surcharge on “very high income residents” by 72%-26%.

It has reached the point where Tea Party-backed Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) declared that “collective bargaining has no place in representative democracy.” This is an attack timed to coincide with high unemployment and the effects of recession upon the relatively weakened American union movement of 15.3 million workers, and scores of millions more non-union workers whose wages are higher because of comparative union standards and organizing efforts. 

The right wing is out to win the class war in America. Its every move is intended to deprive the working class and middle class while privileging wealth and power. However, the attack isn’t so much because of the Republican Party’s strength but of the Democratic Party’s political weakness, despite its great power and financing. This is an important factor impelling the conservative politicians to go for broke. It adds to their strength.

Right wing populist Tea Party nationalists, reactionary take-no-prisoners freshmen Republicans in Congress, and ultra-conservative icons such as Palin, Beck and Limbaugh intimidate the old line GOP establishment, which both embraces and fears the upstarts. They and their followers — including the far right and loony fringe — are infuriated by the presence of a “foreigner” (i.e., African American) and a “socialist” (i.e., Democrat) in the White House — an incentive to keep propelling the Republican Party ever further to the political right.

And sure enough, the Democratic Party — acting the part of a helpless giant — is dutifully trudging 10 steps behind and one small step to the left, just enough to retain the dubious honorific of The Lesser Evil.

This two-party shift toward the right has been taking place for decades, but it’s been accelerating since the Obama Administration made it clear that it would govern from the center-right and compromise with the opposition. The White House conciliated on everything even when it had large majorities in both Congressional chambers. For instance, the Democrats had the power to overturn Bush’s shameful millionaire tax cuts two years earlier during President Obama’s first few “honeymoon” months in office, but he allowed them to expire as intended in two years, then compromised to extend them an additional two years.

The GOP knows it can gain political ground by aggressively attempting to obstruct legislation and fighting dirty. But the right wing’s unstinting combativeness is only partially based on its own limited power. The other part is lodged in awareness of the Democratic Party’s spineless passivity and vacillation combined with a political perspective resembling what was once termed moderate Republicanism, not the liberalism of yesteryear.

Here’s a current example: In the midst of the most assertive right wing assault in modern history, the New York Times reported that President Obama was “road-testing his new message of bipartisan cooperation” in Miami March 4 “with Jeb Bush, the former Republican governor, and then used his first stump speech of the 2012 season to call on Democrats to ‘find common ground’” with the GOP.

At the “risk” of sounding partisan, we must ask: When the center-right searches for common ground with the right-far right, isn’t it likely to be discovered equidistant between the two polarities, that is, clearly closer to the right than the center, much less to the left?

There are, however, two hopeful signs in this bleak political picture.

One is that the Republicans and their Tea Party vanguard are foolishly overreaching. If this continues much longer, public revulsion toward right wing fanaticism probably will punish the conservatives in the 2012 elections. But there’s a downside. The conservative Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision now permits corporations to invest limitless funds in election campaigns, and that kind of money not only talks but it screams, perhaps loudly enough to buy the election for the conservatives despite the shenanigans of the rabid right.

Another sign, the most hopeful of all, is that the Wisconsin public workers and the union movement — supported by tens of millions of Americans throughout the country — are shouting their opposition to those who degrade democracy by attacking working families. They recognize the impending devastation implicit in this assault by corporate wealth being carried out by the politicians.

The big question is will this combative spirit take hold and spread? The more there are mass struggles and strikes for people’s rights — in the workplaces and at the seats of power, in the streets and at public meetings — the more the rights of working Americans will be upheld and extended.

The best response to this sharp turn to the political right in America is a sharp turn to the left. It’s time to unite, get organized behind a determined leadership willing to wage a true struggle, and fight back.

On Monday, the Federal Reserve released its Consumer Credit Report which showed that consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 2.5% in January. That might sound good, but there’s more here than meets the eye. Non-revolving credit increased at a rate of 7% per anum, while revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 6.5%. So, people are taking out more loans, but using their credit cards less.

What’s disturbing about the report is that the two main areas of improvement are auto loans and student loans. Both sectors are built on foundations of sand. After all, the reason that auto sales are booming this year is because the big car dealers are giving away the farm to people with poor credit. As Autonation’s President Michael Maroone said last week on the Nightly Business Report:

“The big driver of the recovery in 2010 was the restoration of credit. The change in 2011 is we`re now seeing an improving environment for sub-prime. So last year prime and near prime were more normal and this year we`re starting to see the sub- prime segment come along and that`s very important for our industry.” (The Nightly Business Report)

So, we’re back to “Square 1″, right? GM is offering “72 months zero percent financing” to people with dodgy credit. And then the dodgy loans are being chopped up, glued together, and sold to as bonds to “yield seeking” institutional investors around the world. That’s the way the new financial system works, and that’s why the system broke down when investors tried to ditch these crappy bonds in the autumn of ’08. It triggered a run on the shadow banking system that led to worst financial crisis in 70 years. Now car dealers are back for a double-dip reviving subprime loans to inflate another bubble.

Mike Whitney’s Chapter in The Global Economic Crisis

The uptick in auto sales has nothing to do with “organic demand” for autos. That’s baloney. It’s about getting anyone who can fog a mirror to sign on the dotted line so the contract can be sold to gullible investors looking for higher yield.

Even so, sales did increase on the month, so, technically speaking, there was a boost in credit. The question is whether subprime auto lending is a sign of recovery or not? The answer is “No”.

The other area of nonrevolving credit that improved was student loans, which basically represented all of the increase in non-revolving credit aside from auto sales. Think about that for a minute. In other words, the commercial banks, finance companies, credit unions, savings institutions, nonfinancial business and pools of securitized debts all barely squeaked-by or lost ground in January. That’s amazing. Virtually every area of non-revolving credit is still flat on its back a full 30 months after Lehman Bros collapsed except for student loans. And the media tries to spin this as good news?

The credit issued via student loans soared from $317 billion to $342 billion from December to January, a $25 billion windfall in just one month. But, as we pointed out in an interview with Professor Alan Nasser, the student loan business is the biggest swindle of all. Bigger than subprime by many orders of magnitude. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

MW–Is it fair to say that the student loan industry is a scam that targets borrowers who will never be able to repay their debts?

Professor Alan Nasser—”It’s as fair as fair can be….How many of these students are subprime borrowers? That is, how closely do student loans resemble junk mortgages? The answer hinges on three factors: how these loans are rated, how likely the borrower is to repay, and the default rate on student loans.

The ratings of student loans are supposed to reflect the “health” of those loans, defined as the likelihood that the borrowers will default…..In September 2008, then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced in a news release that default rates on federal loans were “historically low”: only 5.2 percent of recent grads were in trouble. Spellings used the cohort-default rate to arrive at this figure. But the Department’s Inspector General Office employed a more realistic method in its 2003 audit, which calculated lifetime risk. It estimated that over their lifetime between 19 and 31 percent of college freshmen and sophomores would default on their loans (depending on the type of loan and when it was taken on). For community college students, the prospects were grimmer still: between 30 and 42 percent were expected to default. And the future was most discouraging for students at for-profits: between 38 and 51 percent were anticipated to default.”

You can see that the default rate among student borrowers is expected to be higher than that for subprime home mortgages.”

Repeat: A default rate of 51%. This is predatory lending writ large.

So, when we talk about student loans, we’re not talking about something that strengthens economic recovery. We’re talking about a scam that targets vulnerable young people who want to play by the rules so they can make a positive contribution to society. These kids are getting fleeced by banksters and loan sharks whose only interest is lining their own pockets. Most of these students will be in debt until the day they die. (Students are not afforded any of the consumer protections of other borrowers. They cannot shed their debts through bankruptcy.)

So, apart from these dubious “improvements” in non-revolving credit, the Fed’s credit report is really pretty grim, much as one would expect when households are still deleveraging from a gigantic financial meltdown that cost them $11.4 trillion in personal wealth and home equity.

So, why does it matter? What difference does it make if people are borrowing or not?

It matters a lot. Economists watch credit expansion very closely to see how the economy is doing. You see, when wages stagnate–as they have for the last 30 years—the only way that working people can increase their spending is by borrowing. And since consumer spending is roughly 70% of GDP, if consumers don’t borrow, then the economy doesn’t grow.

So, the credit report is bad news on many levels. First, it shows that the only thing that has kept the economy on life-support has been the government deficits which have made up for the loss in private spending. Second, it shows that consumers are only slightly better off than they were in 2008. (and less inclined to take on more debt) And, finally, it shows that the Fed’s QE2 (bond buying program) has had no measurable effect of consumer spending/credit at all. While it’s been a god-send for the equities markets, it’s been a total bust for consumers.

Don’t believe the “Happy Day’s Are Here Again” blabber. Two and a half years into the so-called recovery and the country is still in the throes of a severe multi-year depression. The Fed’s Credit Report proves it.

Wikileaks continues to rock the political world by shedding light on conspiracies, corruption and cover-ups. The latest batch of diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveals what can only be characterized as a U.S.-led conspiracy to force GMOs onto European countries by making those countries pay a steep price if they resist.

The cable reveals the words of Craig Stapleton, the US ambassador to France, who was pushing the commercial interests of the biotech industry by attempting to force GMOs into France. In his own words (below), he expresses his frustration with the idea that France might pass environmental laws that would hamper the expansion of GMOs:

“Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [European] Commission… Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voice.”

Got that so far? His own words: “Retaliation” as a way to “make [it] clear” that resisting GMOs will have a price.

Stapleton goes on to say something rather incredible:

“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory…”

As you read these words again, remember that these are the words of the U.S. ambassador to France who is suggesting the US “calibrate a target retaliation list” in order to “cause some pain across the EU” that must be “sustainable over the long term.”

The global GMO conspiracy is no longer a theory

Need we say anything more? This cable proves, once and for all, that there is a global GMO conspiracy where government operatives work in secret to push Monsanto’s GMO agenda while punishing opponents of GMOs and adding them to a “target retaliation list.”

This cable also proves that NaturalNews has been right all along about the GMO conspiracy, and that GMO opponents such as Jeffrey Smith are battling what can only be called an evil conspiracy to control the world’s food supply. It also proves that when Alex Jones talks about the global conspiracy to control the world food supply, he’s not just ranting. He’s warning about the reality of the world in which we now live.

As Jeffery Smith said today in a Democracy Now interview:

“We’ve been saying for years that the United States government is joined at the hip with Monsanto and pushing GMOs as part of Monsanto’s agenda on the rest of the world. This lays bare the mechanics of that effort. We have Craig Stapleton, the former ambassador to France, specifically asking the U.S. government to retaliate and cause some harm throughout the European Union.” (Source: Democracy Now)

Military terms

Do you notice something about these words used by the US ambassador to France? “Calibrate a target retaliation list” sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the kind of language you might find tossed around in a military bombing war exercise.

That’s no coincidence: These government operatives quite literally consider themselves to be at war with the world, and they intend to conquer the world with their genetically modified poisons. They will do anything, it seems, to force-feed their deadly crops to the public.

Eight important realizations from these leaks

This Wikileaks cable brings up all sorts of issues that each might deserve a separate article, but here are the highlights of what comes to my mind on this issue:

Realization #1) Wikileaks is valuable for exposing the government lies in our world. Without Wikileaks, we never would have known about these cables which prove the existence of this GMO conspiracy.

Realization #2) US government diplomatic officials are working for the corporations! It’s just as we’ve described here on NaturalNews numerous times — Big Government is really just an extension of the most evil and most powerful corporations that now dominate our planet: The drug companies, the weapons manufacturers, the agricultural giants and so on. Here’s what Jeffrey Smith had to say about governments conspiring with Monsanto:

“In 2009, we have a cable from the ambassador to Spain from the United States asking for intervention there, asking the government to help formulate a biotech strategy and support the government — members of the government in Spain that want to promote GMOs, as well. And here, they specifically indicate that they sat with the director of Monsanto for the region and got briefed by him about the politics of the region and created strategies with him to promote the GMO agenda.”

Realization #3) The US is willing to retaliate against European countries if they try to block GMOs. This brings up the question: Why is the US so desperate to push GMOs on Europe? Clearly there is another agenda behind all this (maybe we’ll learn more in future Wikileaks releases).

Realization #4) No wonder the US government has declared war on Wikileaks because these dark secrets and “conspiracy notes” are never made public through any normal means. It takes a whistleblower to expose the true government corruption taking place in our world today.

Realization #5) The GMO conspiracy reaches to the highest levels of global control. This US ambassador Stapleton wasn’t just a nobody. He was, in fact, the co-owner of the Texas Rangers with former President George W. Bush! His wife, by the way, is George Bush’s cousin. This is a conspiracy involving the highest-ranking officials across multiple countries who are pushing a GMO agenda that’s poisoning people across the planet.

Realization #6) Governments are literally trying to kill their own people. It is widely known in the inner circles of power that GMOs are deadly, but governments keep pushing them anyway. As Jeffrey Smith explains in his interview with Democracy Now:

“…the person who was in charge of FDA policy in 1992, Monsanto’s former attorney, Michael Taylor, he allowed GMOs on the market without any safety studies and without labeling, and the policy claimed that the agency was not aware of any information showing that GMOs were significantly different. Seven years later, because of a lawsuit, 44,000 secret internal FDA memos revealed that that policy was a lie. Not only were the scientists at the FDA aware that GMOs were different, they had warned repeatedly that they might create allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. But they were ignored, and their warnings were even denied, and the policy went forth allowing the deployment GMOs into the food supply with virtually no safety studies.”

Realization #7) The GMO conspiracy is always reframed as “science”. At one point in the leaked cables, Stapleton warns that in opposing GMOs, France would “roll back established science-based decision making.” The GMO conspiracy, you have to remember, is always hidden behind the term “science” so that anyone who opposes GMOs can be characterized as being somehow against “scientific thinking.”

All this gives science a bad name, of course, but I suppose that since the history of science is filled with arrogant scientists poisoning people in the name of science (mercury, vaccines, radiation, plastics, medications, etc.), we shouldn’t be all that surprised to observe this.

Realization #8) Spain has been a key co-conspirator to push the U.S. GMO agenda. Much of the conspiring taking place in the EU has been spearheaded by Spain, whose officials met personally with the head of Monsanto to plot their push of GMOs into Europe.

All of a sudden the Blackwater story adds up

This all reminds me of a story published a few months back by The Nation in which Jeremy Scahill exposed a link between Monsanto and the military contractor known as Blackwater. His article claimed that Monsanto had hired Blackwater spies to “infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.” (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/16/disney-monsanto-discovered-blackwaters-hidden-clients/)

Monsanto vehemently denied the allegation. I looked hard at covering that story at the time but could not substantiate the accusations to my satisfaction. However, given the new information gleaned from these leaked diplomatic cables — which blatantly state that the GMO conspirators plan to “calibrate a target retaliation list” — all of a sudden the Blackwater story adds up.

This is the verbage of a military-style retaliation campaign, and that’s exactly the business of Blackwater. Remember how Stapleton said the US needed to “cause some pain?” That’s Blackwater’s calling card!

Although these cables don’t prove any connection between Monsanto and Blackwater, they do lend credence to the idea that such a link is not only possibly, but perhaps even probable. It clearly deserves additional investigation.

Regardless of whether the Blackwater / Monsanto link is ever proven, what’s crystal clear from all this is that the global GMO conspiracy is very real and that GMO conspirators plot retaliatory actions against any nation that refuses to allow GMOs into their country.

The whole thing is then disguised as “science” so that anyone who opposes it can be branded as “non-scientific.” This is the same sick way in which vaccines are pushed, too: They’re called “scientific” even when they’re based entirely on scientific fraud (as are GMOs).

How governments really operate

Above all, what these Wikileaks cables really reveal is that government conspiracies are, of course, not only real but that they are taking place right now. Diplomats and ambassadors are, in effect, government thugs who engage in the most unethical actions, full of threats and retaliation, in order to serve the financial interests of their corporate masters.

That’s how the world really works, despite the Disney-like image portrayed by the mainstream media. Behind the scenes, the U.S. government is literally plotting with Monsanto to take over the world’s food supply. That is not an exaggeration. It’s not conjecture. It is a statement of fact based on the words of the government’s own operatives (who obviously didn’t know their words would ever be made public).

Through Wikileaks, we have been given a glimpse into the truth behind the Great Wall of government lies. And that truth, it turns out, is a lot uglier than most people could have imagined. (It’s no surprise to me, because I’ve seen things that most regular people have never witnessed. But to a regular Joe Blow working his J.O.B. and watching the evening news, the hard-core truth about the world is a bit too much to handle…)

Personally, I can’t wait to see what other dark secrets are buried in these Wikileaks cables. And it all makes me wish we had a Wikileaks for the FDA, too. Can you imagine all the dirty secrets that would come out of the FDA’s offices if we could read their emails? We need an FDA leaker.

The other thought that comes to mind is how much I wouldn’t want to be Julian Assange right now. His head is now the world’s most powerful bullet magnet… especially when government rifles are anywhere nearby. If the U.S. government would conspire to create a “retaliation target list” of nations that are merely resisting GMOs, can you imagine what they will do if they ever get their hands on Assange?

Read the leaked cables right here:

http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/02/08MADRID98.html

and

http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/05/09MADRID482.html

(Note: These links may not be active for very long because the governments of the world are obviously trying to shut down all the websites that post this information. The truth, it seems, is just too dangerous to allow it to be openly published.)

How to turn all this around

Don’t let all this get you down. You can take action to help turn this around!

Action Item #1) Don’t buy GMO foods! Look for the non-GMO “Project Verified” label on foods.

Action Item #2) Urge lawmakers to oppose GMOs or require honest GMO labeling of foods.

Action Item #3) Help support the Institute for Responsible Technology and other non-profits working to oppose GMOs.

Action Item #4) Stay informed! Read NaturalNews and our Facebook GMO Dangers page (www.facebook.com/GMO.dangers) to stay up on this issue. The IRT (above) will keep you even more deeply informed on GMOs.

Action Item #5) Share what you know! Share videos, cartoons, articles and websites with your friends and family members who also care about protecting their health from GMOs.

Action Item #6) Don’t trust the government! They are pushing a GMO conspiracy. They don’t want you to have natural food, and the FDA is now being unleashed under the new food safety bill to destroy small farmers who tend to use non-GMO crops. Fight against government encroachment of our natural right to grow honest food. Support food freedom!

Who Are the Tea Party Patriots?

March 10th, 2011 by William John Cox

Most people only see the public faces of the Tea Party Patriots: those doing televison interviews, appearing on the covers of magazines, waving from the steps of private jets at political rallies, and who spend the millions of dollars in tax-free donations they have raised; but who are the 15 million “patriots” who actually attend the thousands of local tea parties across the heartland of America?  Answers were sought at the TPP’s American Policy Summit held during the last week of February in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Faces of Fear

Although organizers had planned for 7,000 attendees, about 2,000 showed up and several thousand more attended, virtually, via the Internet.

There weren’t many body piercings or tattoos visible among the activists at the summit; no horns or forked tails were detected; nor were there very many colonial costumes or tri-cornered hats in evidence.  There was, however, an abundance of serious faces and crossed arms.

There were as many women as men in attendance, but the most striking thing was the absolute absence of faces of color.  None.  Not a single Black, Hispanic or Asian face could be seen in the crowd.  This is not to say that the “Patriots” are racist; they cheered former CEO Herman Cain, the conservative African-American Republican presidential candidate who claims that liberals are destroying the American Dream.

When Tea Party leader Mark Meckler was asked about the absence of faces of color, he said he doesn’t “pay attention to color” and he doesn’t know why there aren’t more.  He didn’t answer when asked if the Tea Party intended to do anything to attract minority members.

Many women wore crosses on neck chains, but Stars of David and “peaceful coexistence” pendants were not displayed. There were numerous references by speakers to America as a Christian nation, including a prayer by Congressman David Swickart that called on all members to become “soldiers for the message.”  Another speaker said a “Christian Nation doesn’t need health care reform,” only Good Samaritans to help others.  The prayer service on Sunday morning was held by Al Larson, who seeks to establish a “network of dangerous men in and through our churches who so treasure Christ as Leader in their hearts that they are willing to risk anything to follow Him.”

If nothing else, the Patriots are very patriotic.  Sessions were opened with the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance to the flag, and all veterans were encouraged to stand and offer a military salute.

The Patriots want a government that does nothing more than what it is authorized to do by the Constitution.  The conference tote bags contained three copies of the Constitution, and the overriding theme of the Summit was a reduction of the federal government to conform to the powers set forth in Article I of the document.

Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition called upon the audience to restore the nation to the principles on which it was founded, and said, if the government fails to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, “there is a moral obligation to overthrow the government, by force if necessary.”  He stated America was settled with “three tools: the axe, the plow and the Bible.”  Then he added a fourth – the gun.

Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce told the crowd it was time for a “rag tag army” led by the “congregations” to step up and fight against illegal immigration and the failure of government to do its job.

More than half of the audience appeared to be of retirement age and more than a few carried oxygen bottles; however, most cheered when Yaaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute stated “social security was the most immoral scheme ever devised by politicians” because it forces the responsible to care for the irresponsible.

Howard Sprague, a retired financial advisor who collects social security, believes it would be unfair to take social security away from those who were already receiving it, but that future generations should have a choice to opt in or out of social security and Medicare.  Retiree Ralph Westburg wants to replace social security for the next generation with individual payments into private insurance company annuities; however, he also wasn’t willing to give up his own social security and Medicare benefits.

The only crack in the solid wall of conservatism was exposed by the few young people who were in attendance. Unlike older participants who declined to talk about “social issues,” Alexander Falkenstein and Carlos Alfaro of Students for Liberty, a libertarian youth organization, favor gay human rights and freedom of choice for women.  They oppose the War on Terror and the War on Drugs.  They believe in free market ideals; however, they fear the political power of big corporations.  They stated the U.S. should be placing goods rather than troops in other countries.

More than anything else that can be said, the Patriots are fearful.  They fear the loss of the quality of life they and their parents enjoyed following World War II; however, they also believe that the unions who led the battle for the wages and benefits they received are becoming too powerful.  They fear the influx of immigrants and the loss of “American” jobs; however, they overlook that every single one of them is either an immigrant or the descendant of immigrants.  They fear the loss of the moral values they were raised with; however, they are quick to deny others the choices they have had the freedom to make.

Those who join the Tea Party Patriots could be your parents, the veteran next door, the Little League coach, or the guy at the hardware store.  They are hard-working, conservative, self-sufficient people who are afraid for the future of their families and their way of life.  Having been empowered by the rewards of their efforts, they now feel helpless to confront the forces that threaten them.  They feel compelled to do something, anything, to defend their beliefs.  They are drawn to the Tea Party to meet like-minded patriotic people and to “make a difference.”

The fears of the Patriots are not unreasonable.  However, it is not reasonable for their leaders to encourage and to take advantage of their fears; nor is it right that the leaders sell out the membership to those who finance their efforts to influence Patriots to act against their own self interest.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist.  His efforts to promote a peaceful political evolution can be found at VotersEvolt.com, his writings are collected at WilliamJohnCox.com and he can be contacted at [email protected].

Why So Many Americans Hate Obama

March 10th, 2011 by Joel S. Hirschhorn

I can explain why so many Americans are angry about President Obama and dislike or hate him with passion, and why it has little to do with his actions and policies. But first I must examine the confluence of two historical inflection points that explains so much resentment and opposition to Obama.

The first is the increasingly recognized but painful reality that in almost all respects that matter to citizens the USA is no longer the great nation it once was. As a recent Time magazine issue proclaimed, especially a great essay by Fareed Zakaria, the US is in decline, similar to what happened to other once dominant nations. The Great Recession and the huge numbers of unemployed, underemployed, foreclosed, homeless, hungry and other pained citizens have drilled into the public consciousness that America is like a terminally ill cancer victim. There is little realistic hope for truly better times. For example, new research data show that upward mobility in the US is now worse than in a number of other industrialized countries, such as France . The American Dream, in other words, is dead. The game is lost.

Consider the incessant use of Obama’s new phrase “winning the future.” This time it is for his campaign to stay in office. In one rational sense it seems to recognize that current times are bad, but Obama has totally refused to acknowledge that the country he leads has already “lost the present.” He is in a dangerous state of denial or, alternatively, cannot find the courage to be brutally honest to his citizens. To openly confront the truth about the present would provide the motivation and a needed sense of urgency to adopt policies and programs to turn the curve around. It would make the notion of winning the future against so much domestic corporate corruption and foreign competition a whole lot more challenging.

The thing to notice about President Obama when you look at him when he talks about national conditions and what needs to be done, or when he has to speak about national tragedies, is the lack of visible, genuine and strong human emotions. He seems always to be talking about things in an intellectual, professorial style. Analysis, rather than principles seem to shape his thinking.

Great leaders connect to their audiences by openly expressing deeply felt passionate emotions. They feel our pain through much more than mere words. You relate to them because they really seem to relate to you. Obama has what psychiatrists speak of as flat affect. When he campaigned for the presidency a New York Times writer referred to “his soft diction, flat affect and refusal to project anger.” Sure he can give great speeches now and then, but ordinarily his style shows an existential dissociation from the painful realities he is talking about and addressing through presidential actions. While Obama personally won the future through timely smiles and clever words, he hardly ever connects to most people in a visceral way when it comes to the most painful situations.

The result of his personality and style is that there is little reason for Americans to feel confident that Obama can or will turn the nation around for the better.

Now consider the second inflection point. In the history of American presidents Obama defines a historic inflection point, namely when white Americans have lost their majority status to minorities, notably blacks and Hispanics. The first African-American president with a foreign name represents a remarkable departure from history, not just our line of presidents but something much larger for American society. He won the presidency because non-whites, not whites, voted so strongly for him.

Put the two historic inflection points together. The US has lost its greatness and at the same time American society has shifted from a white to a darker skin character.

Those Americans, who harbor so many strong negative feelings towards Obama in their own minds, either explicitly or implicitly, create causality between the two inflection points. In other words, the loss of national greatness is blamed on the loss of a white, Caucasian society. This is far different than ordinary racism. It runs deeper. This explanation also helps explain why so many of the people who reject Obama do not see themselves as racists. No, with my explanation it is better to see all the anger and hatred about Obama as connected to a patriotic, nationalistic frame of mind. Of course, Obama-hating people have put the blame on the wrong people. The single most powerful reason why the US has declined is its capture by a white-dominated corporate dictatorship and wealthy upper class.

Obama himself shoulders considerable responsibility for wrongly blaming non-white people. His intellectual detachment or existential dissociation from conditions that are greatly impacting so many Americans, especially whites who have lost a good middle class life or economic security, makes him seem alien, not a genuine part of American culture. This sustains all the nonsense about him not being an American citizen.

Obama does not connect in all the right and necessary ways to be a true and effective national leader, not like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton did. The inevitable consequence of his shortcomings is that he pursues public policies that are wrongheaded and ineffective in delivering what the public wants, including deep reforms of the political and government system. He has not delivered the changes so many Americans were waiting for and that he once promised. How can he? He does not really connect to most suffering Americans that see their country already a loser in the new global reality at exactly the same time it has become a nation overrun by people of color. He does not openly and strongly attack the corporate dictatorship that hijacked the US economy and political system. So many Americans, not just those on the conservative right but also progressives on the left, see Obama as the president of elites, the wealthy, the powerful, not their own. Also, like Republicans, he can be seen as someone sacrificing the middle class and the American economy to globalization, foreign competitors, and the corporate powers benefiting from foreign activities.

When Obama speaks of winning the future he reminds Americans seeing themselves as victims that we have lost the present, something he refuses to acknowledge. His existential dissociation keeps him from being one of us. For being a great leader and president, being smart is not enough.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through delusionaldemocracy.com.]

The Great Recession brought on by the financial crisis of 2007-09 entered a new phase in 2010 with a turn to public sector austerity. The focus has initially been on Greece, Ireland and Britain, as the key countries where financial excesses were shoved into the public sector, and a sovereign debt crisis precipitated. These struggles are now shifting to North America, where the economic crisis and the long-term deterioration in public sector revenues from tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy have ruptured public finances, especially at the local and state/provincial level. Public sector workers are especially being singled out as central obstacles to economic recovery and restored public finances.

The public university system in North America has, in particular, been a battleground. The long-term effort to build the ‘neoliberal university’ is now gaining further momentum by a turn to austerity. With the most underfunded university system in Canada, Ontario’s universities have been flashpoints for conflicts over public sector cuts from students, faculty and low-paid service workers on campuses.

McMaster University (located in Hamilton, Ontario) food service workers, represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2, recently made their voices heard in this hostile labour environment. Representatives for the 173 unionized workers walked away from the bargaining table on January 7th. It was their only way to display their opposition to the university’s efforts to force wage and benefit concessions on the local. A week-long strike ensued. In the final settlement, service workers were able to claim some successes, but also at the cost of concessions in other areas of their contract.

Management attempts to insert a wedge between current and future employees was successful, specifically in extracting concessions in vacation and benefit entitlements. These concessions were accepted by members of the local in an effort to blunt the university’s attempt to expand part-time and casual employment and get a commitment from the university to increase full-time positions. It remains to be seen whether these promises to increase full-time positions pan-out.

The strike proved to have a great impact on the university, and the picket lines were strong with a good turnout of solidarity picketers. This show of force likely curtailed a more aggressive strategy being adopted by management. In this article we will explore the history of labour relations at McMaster and highlight the bargaining positions of the university and SEIU Local 2.

Neoliberalism and Turning the Screws at McMaster University

The labour conflict at McMaster is just the most recent example of a Canada-wide attempt to off-load the effects of the crisis onto ordinary workers. Neoliberal austerity measures enacted by the Ontario government have imposed a two-year freeze in transfers to universities for wage compensation.[1] The reduction in overall provincial and federal funding of university operating budgets, falling from 1987 to 2007 from 81 per cent to 57 per cent, has been the driver of tuition increases and the search for ancillary services that might provide profit-making opportunities by university administrators.

For example, McMaster University’s failed attempt in 2009 to partner with Navitas Limited[2] (a private provider of university prep courses aimed at international students) scuttled one money-making opportunity for the university. McMaster Vice-President (Academic) Peter Smith expressed McMaster’s regret at this missed stream of alternate funding: “We are very disappointed that we are unable to proceed with Navitas to set up McMaster University College at this time. We were impressed with Navitas and its commitment to quality and student success.”[3] McMaster thus needed to look elsewhere for extra profit; food service operations were high on its priority list.

Students, however, remain at the top of the extra-revenue generation list in the university system. In Ontario, tuition fees have increased from 20 per cent of operating budgets in 1990 to over 50 per cent today. McMaster’s plan for extra revenue is clearly visible in their budget planning that shows government operating grants of $226-million virtually flat-lining after 2010:

McMaster University Operating Revenue Projections
2010-2015

(In Millions $)
2010 (actual)
2015 (projected)
5 year increase

Operating Grants
226
246
8.8 %

Tuition Fees
154
207
34.5%

Ancillary Services
69
79
14.5%

Figures calculated from: “Multi Year Financial Projections,” December 6, 2010. Contained in Appendix 1 of “Opening Statement and Proposal of the University Administration’s Representatives on the Joint Committee”, December 15, 2010, p.15.[4]

McMaster financial plans are to increase student tuition by 6 per cent every year from 2011-15 to make up for stagnant operating grants (in effect, frozen after inflation is taken into account). Ancillary services (which include Food Services) are also looked to contribute more to pick up the slack in government funding.

The attempt to gut the contract of food service workers at McMaster needs to be seen in the larger context of the economic crisis brought on by the finance crisis, but it is being paid for by students and the most vulnerable workers, and not by bankers and the rest of the capitalist class. University administrators are looking for ways to increase their revenue stream. The strike of food service workers is therefore another example of how cuts to post-secondary funding has resulted in a more privatized and corporatized university. The University’s goal was to extract the greatest concessions from workers to add to its bottom line. McMaster’s actions are now indistinguishable from any large profit-seeking corporation.

Labour Relations at McMaster University

In previous labour disputes (for example, with CUPE 3906 and CAW 555), McMaster’s efforts to bargain could at best be described as minimal. In last year’s labour dispute between the university and CUPE 3906 (teaching and research assistants), the university’s strategy for weakening organized labour at the campus was on display. By dragging its heels at the bargaining table, the university was successful in appealing to a campus of passive students (and often quiescent CUPE 3906 members) to pressure the divided union to return to work. Weak organization in some academic departments and reinforced by an anti-union culture amongst professors and administrators in those departments limited the disruptive impact of the teaching assistant strike. Teaching assistants were encouraged to cross picket lines and continue working throughout the dispute. By appealing and informally encouraging this divide, McMaster was strategically looking to undermine and wait-out the union at the bargaining table through a divide and conquer tactic.

McMaster’s approach to the food service workers’ strike appeared to follow a similar pattern of stalling and waiting for the union bargaining position to collapse. Human Resources put out biased accounts of what was reality at the bargaining table. Daily updates were vague; many on campus criticized them for their lack of meaningful information. There were also conflicting reports, stating that the union was unwilling to bargain. Much of this is par for the course in the way that management operates during a strike. In reality, the union was ready to bargain arguing that they wanted to minimize disruption for students. Attempting to harvest many students hostility toward unions and the long waits at the picket lines, some students bought into the university position. But, as the dispute went on many other McMaster students became aware of the bullying tactics used by McMaster, leaving many questioning the ethics of the institution that they attend.

Basis of the Conflict

At McMaster, Food Services employs predominately immigrant women. Of these workers, a large majority of them are single mothers making job security an especially important goal in their battle. SEIU member Izabella Felinczak explained it best by saying that McMaster’s human resource department didn’t expect “women, single-mothers, and little old ladies were going to stand-up to the university. They thought the university would have power over us!” Food service workers are approximately 40 per cent full-time and 20 per cent part-time staff. Another 40 per cent are ‘casual’ or what at McMaster are described as ‘satellite employees.’ These ‘satellite’ workers are the lowest paid within the bargaining unit, with no benefits or pensions. Efforts by the union to increase the wage for these workers have had some success, allowing workers with enough hours to live in conditions that are slightly above poverty.

The key to the dispute was, therefore, job security. The previous contract contained a clause that set out a minimum number of jobs in the workplace which would be deemed as full-time (40 per cent). Under this provision, higher wages and benefits (including vacation) were included as remuneration for full-time for food service workers. With the stated aim of increasing ‘efficiency’ with all facets of McMaster employment, management set out in bargaining to remove this clause from the contract. McMaster wanted to bring the conditions and pay into line with the private sector. If this clause was eliminated, full-time workers would lose hours, pay and benefits as they were reduced to part-time and causal status.

Due to the aggressive concessionary approach to bargaining by the university, food service workers held a strike vote in early January which displayed their resolve to sustain full-time, fair-wage employment. After the ballots were counted, a 91 per cent strike mandate by nearly three-quarters of the membership sent a strong message that workers were committed to fight off concessions.

The food services industry at McMaster brings huge profits for the university. McMaster exists within a ‘food desert’ where food options are limited. A captive audience of thousands of first year students eat on campus every day, along with off-campus students. A goal of increasing the profitability of this university service was behind the attempt to eliminate full-time employment in favour of lower-paid part-time and causal positions. The university would supply students with the same food for less operating costs. This profit-seeking mania is reflective of a shift at McMaster from what was once a more equitable public institution to a neoliberal university that regularly attacks the living-standards of its employees with regularity. McMaster was also attempting to use the depressed economic conditions in Hamilton to their advantage to further increase the profitability of an already lucrative food service.

The SEIU was also fighting the pervasive effects of neoliberalism on workers. With its stress on downsized, flexible and casual employment relationships, McMaster was following many employers’ attacks on job security. McMaster wanted to implement an employer-employee relationship dominated by the employer’s ability to hire minimum-wage, casual employees. The battle for the food service workers was also to break the string of labour defeats at the university after the CUPE 3906 contract that worsened wages and conditions shortly more than a year ago.

McMaster’s Proposal: A Recipe for Poverty

The McMaster proposal included severe wage concessions, decreasing some workers’ incomes twenty-five to fifty per cent. As an example, those making $17 an hour would take a pay-hatchet to $10.50 as a casual employee. Not only would these workers get less an hour, but significantly less per paycheque as the number of hours would be cut per week. The size of workers’ paycheques and job security in terms of hours worked was therefore a key issue as food service workers are often the sole wage-earners in their family. Issues surrounding benefits were secondary, and the union attempted to hold onto the employer-paid benefit package. The union bargaining position identified vacation entitlements and sick leave as areas which concessions could be made to make gains in job security and hours worked.

Once the strike began, communication of their positions become a key strategy of both sides. Media releases, Facebook groups and blogs were vital to SEIU’s success. Students could read a concise summary of the issues that the food service workers were attempting to win. Students were a key part to the SEIU’s educational efforts, as they could enter onto campus for the purpose of leafleting and informing fellow students on these workers’ battles without fear of trespass charges. The union also organized solidarity rallies where students could join the picket line to display their sympathy with the workers’ stance. Student support was useful to help pressure the university back to the bargaining table and, in turn, to bargain in good faith.

Worker-Student Relations

Countless McMaster students walked through the picket lines, but the work stoppage was also of concern for many students. Many undergraduate students see these workers as their parents away from home; carrying on a running conversation everyday when they pick out their pizza or pasta selection. For students, these workers are like family, an older generation of workers who lend a listening ear in times of stress. And importantly for students, unlike other labour disputes at McMaster, these workers were never in a position of authority over them.

Some food workers continued their conversations with students as they crossed the picket line, apologizing for the inconvenience and showing genuine sympathy that was helpful in gaining student’s support. Joan Joans, a hospitality worker who walked the line, said:

“I could not believe the support we got from the community plus the staff from other departments and the students. Students were walking on the picket lines with us, honking their horns when they were coming in; people dropping off coffees and doughnuts; professors inviting us to speak in their classes. All the unions were great. They came to ask us what they could do to help and came out to join us on their breaks. A woman from Divinity College arranged for volunteers to make soup and they brought it to us in the lines. The Phoenix [the graduate student pub] kept coffee going for us all day, so we had a warm place and fresh coffees.”

When we talked about the strike with food services workers, they were happy with the discussions in their union during the strike. They explained that because of the process of open discussion that took place to debate union positions and tactics, each member felt like they were part of the labour dispute. Because of open communication, many workers were energized to be active members on the picket lines to display their support for their bargaining committee.

A key element in good communications can be attributed to a strong and active blog. Workers who were not on the picket lines could feel part of this open dialogue of updates and issues of the dispute. Local 2 did not fall into the problem that other unions have had with a lack of communication, where workers either do not understand the issues or cannot be constantly updated on the progress of the union’s efforts. Due to a small membership, it was much easier to convey information and updates to workers. The union executive was also very active and constant e-mails and updates were sent out to the membership. An open union environment appeared to be the key to this fight, ensuring that all workers were not only informed on the issues, but willing to fight to sustain dignity in the workplace. Students were also important in this fight, publishing articles in the weekly student newspaper to express their opinions and through encouraging words to the food service workers. A successful communication strategy rallied the support of the membership and the student population around issues of dignity and respect for workers.

The SEIU-McMaster Contract: The Proof in the Pudding?

Following the nine day dispute, the food service workers were successful in protecting their jobs and the future of good-paid jobs at McMaster. Despite an employer attempt to gut their contract, workers made modest gains toward job security at McMaster. They were successful in maximizing full-time positions by protecting the clause within the contract that would not allow for their jobs to be replaced by flexible, part-time employment. Local 2 was also able to guard clauses that guaranteed a third of the workforce as full-time. Part-time workers would also be guaranteed an increase in scheduled hours, increasing from 18 to 24 per week. On the whole, the workers were able to make significant gains in the area most important to them: protecting and maximizing their working hours at McMaster.

Yet, efforts to sustain full-time employment and increase part-time hours came at a high cost. Wages were frozen for the first four years of their five year agreement. One-time lump sum payments were agreed to off-set the wage freeze, with payments in the first, third and fifth year totalling $3,750. A wage increase by three per cent within the fifth year of the agreement would be the only gain for these workers. As a result of this bargaining concession, the overall base wage rate of these workers will be declining, due to rises in inflation throughout the contract duration. It also sets up a future battle to convert the one-time lump sum payments into base salary or lose a significant chunk of their hourly wage to inflation. The university took advantage of the economic depression in Hamilton; many workers are simply grateful to have a job even if pay is frozen. The university is able to recoup some of the costs of gains of increased full- and part-time employment from the workers’ own wages.

In this public sector austerity context, concessions were also made to workers’ benefits (as part of the trade-off to hold onto full-time positions and increase hours for part-timers). Benefits will no longer be entirely employer paid and will be replaced by a co-pay system. Under the co-pay system, workers will have to pay 25 per cent of the monthly drug and medical benefits premium. And because workers’ wages will be eroded over the length of the contract due to rises in inflation, this premium will be increasingly difficult to afford.

Universal vacation entitlements which apply to all full-time workers equally were also sacrificed. New members will not receive full vacation benefits and instead will be governed by a two-tier set of vacation entitlements because they were not workers at McMaster at the time of the contract’s ratification. This strategy has been pursued by McMaster with other unions on campus. For example, long-time service cleaners have maintained their pay and benefits at the expense of new hires. This has resulted in an acrimonious split in the union along the fault-line of length of service. Many unions are fighting against this trend, seeing it as a factor that undermines union solidarity. As a result, it may be that in five years time (a long contract length) that the next time the food service workers bargain they will find their cohesiveness and solidarity weakened, as workers with longer service are pitted against those of less service and vice versa.

As students and workers return to their regular routine, the workers at McMaster’s main food cafeteria said they are, despite some of the concessions, delighted with the gains. They explained that this battle was not just for their families, but for future families that are employed at McMaster. These workers are quick to thank students for their support throughout the strike. Widespread part-time and flexible employment has been beaten back at McMaster at great cost. Let’s hope that the next group of workers who become the victim of McMaster’s intimidating bargaining tactics do even better.

This brings us back to the wider public sector struggle, particularly in the university sector. McMaster University is one of any number of examples of how Canada’s post-secondary education is being slowly strangled of funding and privatized. The neoliberalization of universities is being given further impetus by the turn to public sector austerity to bail out the banking system, after the biggest economic disaster in history. The lowest paid workers, typically in food services on campuses, are one group of workers being especially impacted. So are, in different ways, students and faculty. All are going to have to find ways to strike new sectoral coalitions to defend public universities. This is something that activists and unions in the university sector in Canada have been extremely poor at over the last two decades. This is the challenge that is posed in the militancy and particularities of the food services strike at McMaster, and in the larger struggle to overthrow the neoliberal vision of the university. •

Chris Dewar and Alex Ramirez are 4th year students in McMaster University’s Labour Studies Programme.

Blindfolding, electrocution, physical and sexual assault are just a few of the maltreatments that recently released political prisoners have claimed they were subjected to during detention by the Bahraini state. And they say that the British government bears a heavy responsibility for the repressive policies of the Bahraini regime.

Over 300 political prisoners were set free by the state as a concession to appease the growing popular uprising in the Persian Gulf island state that started on February 14. Despite the releases, the anti-government protests have grown increasingly strident in their demand for the overthrow of the unelected Bahraini government headed by King Hamad al-Khalifa and his uncle and Prime Minister Prince Khalifa al-Khalifa. The latter has been in office for 40 years, since the country gained nominal independence from Britain in 1971.

Amnesty International said it is due to publish a report into what it calls “the increasing trend towards egregious abuses by the state security forces” in Bahrain towards those held in custody.
Several of the released detainees, who include academics, human rights activists, bloggers and clerics, spoke about the conditions during their incarceration. All of them claimed they were subjected to extreme torture and they showed physical symptoms of abuse. Their claims of “systematic torture” have been verified by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, which claims that up to 100 political prisoners remain in custody. Many of the political prisoners are held without trial at Al Qala, the headquarters of the Interior Ministry in central Manama, the capital of the Persian Gulf island state.

One of the released detainees, Abduljalil al-Singace, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Bahrain, said: “The British government bears a heavy responsibility for the repression in Bahrain. What we have here is an apparatus of torture that was formed and instructed by British security personnel.”

Many detainees and opposition spokesmen believe that British personnel continue to be involved in the policies and practices of Bahrain’s secret police, the Security and Intelligence Service. They point out that the methods of interrogation are “identical” to those used during the 1970s, 80s and 90s when the SIS was headed by Ian Henderson, a British police officer, who is believed to still reside in Bahrain and acts as a personal advisor to the king.

Henderson, now in his late eighties, is notorious among Bahraini opposition groups, who label him “torturer-in-chief”. He has been the subject of torture allegations in the past by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. British parliamentarians, including Lord Avebury, George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn have previously called on the British government for his prosecution over alleged personal involvement in gross maltreatment of Bahraini prisoners, some of whom died while in custody.

Professor al-Singace was among those rounded up last August prior to national elections in Bahrain. As with the other detainees he was accused of, but not formally charged with, plotting acts of terrorism. Al-Singace denies this and said the only thing he is “guilty of” is making public criticisms of the regime.

During his detention, he says he was kept in solitary confinement, beaten on the head and body, and blindfolded for long periods of time. Suffering from childhood polio, 38-year-old al-Singace uses crutches at all times. He was forced to stand continuously for several days by his captors and when he collapsed, he was beaten and forced to resume standing. At one point, his interrogators threatened that they would bring his wife, daughter and sister to the jail and rape them in front of him.

Professor al-Singace said: “We are calling on the European Court of Human Rights to hold the British government to account for the inhumane repression in Bahrain. British citizens have been involved in the most barbaric treatment of innocent civilians with the knowledge and consent of the British government.”

Most the conditions claimed by al-Singace during his seventh months of  incarceration were reiterated independently by the other former detainees. In addition, some spoke of how they were electrocuted on the genitals and one man said that he was raped by the guards with a glass bottle. Others said they were hung by the hands and feet “like animals” and beaten with hard rubber hoses.
Over and over, the detainees invoked the name of the former head of state security, Henderson, as the ultimate author of their torturous conditions. Their claims of maltreatment were said by older former detainees to be identical to what they had suffered during previous periods of repression.

One Shia political activist, aged 58, who gave his name only as Mohammed, said he had personally encountered Henderson. Mohammed, who was detained without trial for nearly five years during the 1970s, said: “The repression and torture used by the Bahraini regime is largely the work of Ian Henderson. But it wasn’t just Henderson. The entire security apparatus of this country was commanded by Henderson and British officers. The Bahraini regime inherited the torture apparatus from the British who continued to run it after independence. The people who are doing the torture now were instructed and trained by British officers and their system of torture is very much in practice today.”

Henderson, who was awarded the George Cross for quashing the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya during the 1950s, was installed by the UK government as head of security in Bahrain in 1968 when the country was a British protectorate and being challenged by a mainly Shia independence movement. Older Bahraini activists recalled that there was a sharp spike in repression and maltreatment of prisoners in the years following Henderson’s appointment – a role he held for 30 years. In 1986 – after tens of thousands of Bahrainis had been through the prison system, many claiming horrific maltreatment – Henderson was awarded the CBE in the UK’s honours list.
Mohammed said: “Britain imposed the al-Khalifa regime on the people of Bahrain and schooled these rulers in how to suppress our people trying to achieve democracy and freedom. The British and the monarchy here enjoyed the oil wealth of this country, while we have been treated like slaves – and to keep us like slaves, our rulers have relied on British repressive know-how. They have used British divide-and-rule sectarian policies between Shia and Sunni and they have criminalised Shia people who have simply been demanding their democratic rights for many decades.”

Mohammed added that Bahrain, which is also described by Washington as “an important ally”, said the Gulf state was just another example of how “Western governments have employed dictators throughout the Middle East to crush people”. These Western governments are now being exposed for their “criminal use of dictators”.

“Everywhere the British and American governments have been involved, we see the same torture methods. Northern Ireland, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan,” he said. “This is the reality behind their claims of supporting democracy and human rights.”

Finian Cunningham is a journalist and musician www.myspace.com/finiancunninghammusic

Egypt: Peering into the revolution’s crystal ball

March 10th, 2011 by Eric Walberg

Comparisons between Egypt’s revolution and others during the past abound and are instructive. They suggest two scenarios for the post-revolutionary period

Egypt’s revolution is considered to be a startling new development, the result of the Internet age. But it is actually more like the traditional revolutionary scenario predicted by Karl Marx in the mid-19th century, a desperate protest against mass poverty resulting from rampant capitalism. Its association with the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe and Russia in the 1990s, as epitomised by the adoption of the Serbian Otpor’s clenched fist masthead, is thus superficial. A more apt comparison in economic terms is with the Philippines, also a poor country with a large peasant population.

The Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1965-86), like Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, was a close ally of the US, and the Philippines hosted a large US base vital to its control of the south Pacific. Marcos justified his authoritarian rule and martial law to his US patrons as vital to keeping the Muslim and communist opposition at bay.

But grinding poverty, corruption and a restless elite created the conditions for his overthrow, and one last rigged election and the murder of the leading liberal opposition leader Benigno Aquino finally led the US to shift its support to the opposition. This prompted the army to switch sides, and Aquino’s widow Corazon became the new president in 1986. Popular anger with the US military presence forced Aquino to close the US base in 1992 in a symbolic gesture to the people. But Aquino was well schooled in Reaganomics, the new neo-liberal policy of unbridled capitalism, and she carried out the US economic agenda of unbridled capitalism.

This was perfectly logical, given her (and the military elite’s) credentials, all trained in the US and pro-American. Less than a year into her presidency, 15,000 peasants held a peaceful protest calling on Aquino to grant them land reform. Riot police opened fired on the crowd killing 17. Writes Alfred McCoy in Policing America’s Empire “When communist negotiators walked out of ongoing peace talks to protest what they called the ‘Mendiola massacre,’ the president ‘unsheathed the sword of war’”, leaving the communist and Muslim insurgencies intact and further impoverishing the people.

The chance of a genuinely popular leader emerging after the overthrow of Marcos was still there: the populist Joseph Estrada, a movie star with little education, won a landslide victory in 1998 promising to help the poor, but was pushed aside, impeached over his personal finances, and his US-educated vice president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took over, to the relief of the business elite and the US. Since then the political spectrum has narrowed to allow at best a choice between representatives of the elite, the current president being ex-president Aquino’s son Benigno III.

Acquiescence to the US “war on terror” has made real change an impossibility, and the US military presence is once again strong. The revolution was compromised and the Philippines continues on its path of hopeless, violence-ridden poverty, though with electoral democracy acting as a legimitising factor. This is one scenario that could play out in Egypt if the US has its way.

During this period, Egypt under Hosni Mubarak was also carrying out the neoliberal agenda, much like the democratic Corazon Aquino was. In policy terms, it seems that democrat or authoritarian makes little difference given the powerful role the US plays in such countries as the Philippines and Egypt. As the Philippines experience shows, it is preferable to have an electoral democracy where the US effectively controls both the ruling party and the opposition. That appears to be the explanation for the US increasing its “democracy promotion” funding of Egyptian dissidents in recent years and then finally abandoning Mubarak with no qualms.

What are the prospects of another scenario unfolding, involving a radical rejection of the underlying economic system?

The first political party to be recognised since the revolution was Al-Wasat (Centre), a reformist Islamist party, but the second looks to be the Egyptian Peasants’ Party, and independent trade unions are springing up everywhere with their own Labour Democratic Party in the works. The immediate aftermath of the revolution witnessed angry protests by workers in the public sector demanding tenure in their jobs. Under Mubarak, this socialistic policy of secure work was largely abandoned, applied only for those with contacts within the ruling National Democratic Party, leaving millions worrying if they would have a job the next day.

Workers continue to demand a tripling of the minimum wage to bring it into line with galloping inflation that has pushed millions under the poverty line. The military regime slashed elite government salaries, putting a cap on public servants’ pay. There is even talk of a minimum/ maximum income and demands for progressive taxation to tackle the extremes of wealth that developed under Mubarak (Egypt has a flat 20 per cent tax on income). But there is no visible socialist movement with the stature of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood, which endorsed president Anwar El-Sadat’s infitah and Mubarak’s 1997 reforms allowing unlimited landholding and returning land confiscated under Gamal Abdel-Nasser.

Ultimately, writes Abu Atris at aljazeera.net, “the intense speculation about how much money the Mubarak regime stole… is a red herring” so long as Egypt remains a neoliberal state recycling privatised assets among the wealthy elite. There must be a clear rejection of the neoliberal philosophy that everything is up for grabs, that the market is the sole economic regulator. Education, health, the environment — these are social facts of life and must be protected by a strong independent government which is not subservient to the market (or to US diktat). “Mubarak’s Egypt degraded schools and hospitals, and guaranteed grossly inadequate wages, particularly in the ever-expanding private sector. This was what turned hundreds of dedicated activists into millions of determined protesters.”

With the resignation of Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafik and his cabinet last Friday and the appointment of former transport minister and Mubarak critique Essam Sharaf as the new prime minister, the burning question today is: will the US-imposed neoliberal order survive in Egypt? The military is now struggling to bring about some political order by appointing the usual crisis government of supposedly neutral “technocrats”. But there is nothing neutral about “trickle down economics” and there are no Egyptian “technocrats” experienced in dismantling a neoliberal order intimately tied to the US imperial.

Could Egyptians look to countries which have clearly rejected such a path in recent years, Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador or Brazil, which have instituted radical reforms and successfully resisted US hegemony? This is the other scenario for Egypt’s revolutionaries, though Egypt’s more sensitive geopolitical location makes any attempt to defy the US fraught with peril. Leading contender for the presidency, Arab League Chairman Amr Moussa insists loudly that relations with America must be “excellent and strong”.

The attitude of the military, while it controls about 10 per cent of the economy and was the prime beneficiary of US aid under Mubarak, is key to which scenario will prevail. It is seen by US officials as a regressive force opposed to privatisation. Georgetown University’s Paul Sullivan says, “There is a witch hunt for corruption, and there is a risk that the economy might go back to the days of Nasser.” Sounds good to me.

Nostalgia for the (dictatorial) regime of Nasser remains strong in Egypt, even among those born decades after Nasser died. Sometimes, dictators are necessary — to confront entrenched elites who refuse to share their wealth. There is little likelihood of another Nasser, however. Whatever scenario unfolds in Egypt will involve messy political squabbles and unstable coalitions as Egyptians taste the forbidden fruits of electoral democracy.

Perhaps the supporters of socialism will coalesce around some version of the Nasser legacy, one that can form a working coalition with the Brotherhood (MB). Though the MB is capitalist in orientation, its main planks are to end corruption and improve social services. MB support of the revolution was key to its success and it is now preparing to launch a party modelled on the Turkish Justice and Development Party — the Justice and Freedom Party.

There is no question that, as in the Philippines, the only answer to Egypt’s economic woes — high unemployment, extreme poverty, crumbling social services and a gaping chasm between rich and poor — is a strong dose of socialism.

Egypt and Tunisia are the first nations to successfully overthrow their neoliberal regimes. Ironically, their lack of democracy proved to be an advantage, forcing the impoverished masses to unite against their oppressors. Misguided US commentators ask: “Will Venezuela be the next Egypt?” The answer is: “Will Egypt be the next Venezuela?”

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/

Os EUA-NATO tentaram golpe de Estado na Líbia?

March 9th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Os EUA e a NATO estão a apoiar uma insurreição armada na Líbia Oriental, tendo em vista justificar uma “intervenção humanitária”.

Isto não é um movimento de protesto não violento como no Egipto e na Tunísia. As condições na Líbia são fundamentalmente diferentes. A insurreição armada na Líbia Oriental é apoiada directamente por potências estrangeiras. A insurreição em Benghazi imediatamente arvorou a bandeira vermelha, negra e verde com o crescente e a estrela: a bandeira da monarquia do rei Idris, a qual simbolizava o domínio das antigas potências coloniais. (Ver Manlio Dinucci, Libya-When historical memory is erased , Global Research, Febraury 28, 2011)

Conselheiros militares e forças especiais dos EUA e NATO já estão no terreno. A operação foi planeada para coincidir com o movimento de protesto em países árabes vizinhos. A opinião pública foi levada a acreditar que o movimento de protesto havia-se espalhado espontaneamente da Tunísia e do Egipto para a Líbia.

A administração Obama em consulta com os seus aliados está a ajudar uma rebelião armada, nomeadamente uma tentativa de golpe de Estado.

“A administração Obama está pronta a oferecer “qualquer tipo de assistência” a líbios que procurem derrubar Moammar Kadafi, secretária de Estado Hillary Clinton [27 Fevereiro]. “Temos estado a estender a mão a muito diferentes líbios que estão a tentar organizar-se no Leste e para que a revolução mova-se também em direcção Oeste”, disse Clinton. “Penso que é demasiado cedo para dizer como isto vai terminar, mas temos de estar prontos e preparados para oferecer qualquer espécie de assistência que alguém pretenda ter dos Estados Unidos”. Há esforços encaminhados para formar um governo provisório na parte Leste do país onde a rebelião começou em meados do mês.

Os EUA, disse Clinton, estão a ameaçar mais medidas contra o governo de Kadafi, mas não disse o que eram ou quando poderiam ser anunciadas.

Os EUA deveriam “reconhecer algum governo provisório que eles estejam a tentar por de pé…” [McCain}

Lieberman falou em termos semelhantes, urgindo "apoio tangível, uma zona de interdição de voo, reconhecimento do governo revolucionário, o governo de cidadãos e apoiá-los com assistência humanitária e eu lhes forneceria armas".
( Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition - Associated, Press , February 27, 2011, sublinhados do autor)

A INVASÃO PLANEADA

Uma intervenção militar é agora contemplada pelas forças dos EUA e NATO sob um "mandato humanitário".

"Os Estados Unidos estão a mover forças navais e aéreas na região" para "preparar o conjunto completo de opções" na confrontação com a Líbia: o porta-voz do Pentágono, Cor. Dave Lapan, dos Fuzileiros Navais, fez este anúncio [1 Março]. Ele disse que “foi o presidente Obama que pediu aos militares para prepararem-se para estas opções”, porque a situação na Líbia está a ficar pior”. (Manlio Dinucci, Preparing for “Operation Libya”: The Pentagon is “Repositioning” its Naval and Air Forces… , Global Research, March 3, 2011, sublinhado do autor)

O objectivo real da “Operação Líbia” não é estabelecer democracia mas sim tomar posse das reservas de petróleo líbias, desestabilizar a National Oil Corporation (NOC) e finalmente privatizar a indústria petrolífera do país, nomeadamente transferir o controle e a propriedade da riqueza petrolífera da Líbia para mãos estrangeiras. A National Oil Corporation (NOC) está classificada entre as 100 principais companhias de petróleo ( A Energy Intelligence classifica a NOC no 25º lugar entre as 100 principais companhias do mundo. –Libyaonline.com )

A Líbia está entre as maiores economias petrolíferas do mundo com aproximadamente 3,5% das reservas de petróleo globais, mais do que o dobro daquelas dos EUA. (para mais pormenores ver a Parte II deste artigo, “Operação Líbia” e a batalha pelo petróleo)

A planeada invasão da Líbia, que já está em curso, faz parte do conjunto mais vasto da “Batalha pelo petróleo”. Cerca de 80 por cento das reservas petrolíferas da Líbia estão localizadas na bacia do Golfo de Sirte da Líbia Oriental. (Ver mapa abaixo)

As concepções estratégicas por trás da “Operação Líbia” recordam empreendimentos militares anteriores dos EUA-NATO na Jugoslávia e no Iraque.

Na Jugoslávia, forças dos EUA-NATO desencadearam uma guerra civil. O objectivo era criar divisões políticas e étnicas, as quais finalmente levaram à fragmentação de todo um país. Este objectivo foi alcançado através do financiamento encoberto e do treino de forças paramilitares armadas, primeiro na Bósnia (Bosnian Muslim Army, 1991-95) e a seguir no Kosovo (Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), 1998-1999). Tanto no Kosovo como na Bósnia, a desinformação dos media (incluindo mentiras rematadas e falsificações) foram utilizadas para apoiar afirmações dos EUA-UE de que o governo de Belgrado havia cometido atrocidades, justificando dessa forma uma intervenção militar com razões humanitárias.

Ironicamente, a “Operação Jugoslávia” agora está nos lábios dos feitores da política externa estado-unidense: o senador Lieberman “comparou a situação na Líbia aos acontecimentos nos Balcãs na década de 1990 quando, disse ele, os EUA “intervieram para travar um genocídio contra os bósnios. E a primeira coisa que fizemos foi proporcionar-lhes as armas para defenderem-se. Isso é o que penso que podemos fazer na Líbia”. ( Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition – Associated , Press, February 27, 2011, emphasis added

O cenário estratégico seria pressionar rumo à formação e reconhecimento de um governo interino da província secessionista, tendo em vista finalmente fragmentar o país.

Esta opção já está a caminho. A invasão da Líbia já começou.

“Centenas de conselheiros militares estado-unidenses, britânicos e franceses chegaram à Cirenáica, a província separatista do Leste,… Os conselheiros, incluindo oficiais de inteligência, foram lançados de navios de guerra e navios de mísseis nas cidades costeiras de Benghazi e Tobruk” ( DEBKAfile, US military advisers in Cyrenaica , February 25, 2011)

Forças especiais dos EUA e aliados estão no terreno na Líbia Oriental, proporcionando apoio encoberto aos rebeldes. Isto foi reconhecido quando comandos britânicos das Forças Especiais SAS foram presos na região de Benghazi. Estavam a actuar como conselheiros militares para forças de oposição:

“Oito comandos de forças especiais britânicas, numa missão secreta para colocar diplomatas britânicas em contacto com oponentes destacados do Cro. Muammar Kadafi na Líbia, acabaram humilhados depois de terem apoiado forças rebeldes na Líbia Oriental”, informa o Sunday Times de hoje.
Os homens, armados mas à paisana, afirmaram que foram verificar as necessidades da oposição e oferecer ajuda “. ( Top UK commandos captured by rebel forces in Libya: Report, Indian Express , March 6, 2011, sublinhado do autor)

As forças SAS foram presas quando escoltavam uma “missão diplomática” britânica a qual entrou ilegalmente no país (sem dúvida de um navio de guerra britânico) para discussões com líderes da rebelião. O Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros britânico reconheceu que “uma pequena equipe diplomática britânica foi enviada à Líbia Oriental para iniciar contactos com a oposição rebelde”. U.K. diplomatic team leaves Libya – World – CBC News , March 6, 2011).

Ironicamente, as reportagens não só confirmam a intervenção militar ocidental (incluindo várias centenas de forças especiais), como também reconhecem que a rebelião se opunha firmemente à presença ilegal de tropas estrangeiras sobre o solo líbio:

“A intervenção da SAS enraiveceu figuras líbias da oposição as quais ordenram que os soldados fossem trancados numa base militar. Oponentes de Kadafi temem que ele possa utilizar qualquer evidência de interferência militar ocidental para congregr apoio patriótico para o seu regime”. ( Reuters , March 6, 2011)

O “diplomata” britânico capturado com soldados das forças especiais era membro da inteligência britânica, um agente do MI6 numa “missão secreta”. ( The Sun , March 7, 2011)

Declarações dos EUA e NATO confiram que estão a ser fornecidas armas às forças de oposição. Há indicações, embora não prova clara até agora, de que foram entregues armas aos insurgentes antes do desencadeamento da rebelião. Com toda probabilidade, conselheiros militares e de inteligência dos EUA e NATO também estavam no terreno antes da insurreição. Este foi o padrão aplicado no Kosovo: forças especiais apoiando e treinando o Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) nos meses que antecederam a campanha de bombardeamento de 1999 e a invasão da Jugoslávia.

Tal como os acontecimentos se desdobram, contudo, forças do governo líbio recuperaram controle sobre posições rebeldes:

“A grande ofensiva das forças pró-Kadafi lançadas [4 Março] para arrebatar das mãos dos rebeldes o controle das cidades e centros petrolíferos mais importantes da Líbia resultou [5 Março] na recaptura da cidade chave de Zawiya e da maior parte das cidades petrolíferas em torno do Golfo de Sirte. Em Washington e Londres, a conversa da intervenção militar ao lado da oposição líbia foi emudecida pela percepção de que a inteligência de campo de ambos os lados do conflito líbio era demasiado incompleta para servir de base à tomada de decisões “. (Debkafile, Qaddafi pushes rebels back. Obama names Libya intel panel , March 5, 2011, sublinhado do autor)

O movimento da oposição está fortemente dividido quanto à questão da intervenção estrangeira.

A divisão é entre o movimento das bases por um lado e os “líderes” apoiados pelos EUA da insurreição armada que são a favor da intervenção militar estrangeira por “razões humanitárias”.

A maioria da população líbia, tanto os apoiantes como os oponentes do regime, é fortemente oposta a qualquer forma de intervenção externa.

DESINFORMAÇÃO DOS MEDIA

Os vastos objectivos estratégicos subjacentes à invasão proposta não são mencionados pelos media. A seguir a uma campanha enganosa dos media, em que notícias eram literalmente falsificadas sem relação com o que realmente estava a acontecer no terreno, um amplo sector da opinião pública internacional concedeu o seu firme apoio à intervenção estrangeira, por razões humanitárias.

A invasão está na prancheta do Pentágono. Está destinada a ser executada independentemente dos desejos do povo da Líbia incluindo o dos oponentes do regime, os quais têm exprimido a sua aversão à intervenção militar estrangeira em desrespeito da soberania da nação.

POSICIONAMENTO DA FORÇA NAVAL E AÉREA

Caso esta intervenção militar fosse executada resultaria numa guerra geral, uma blitzkrieg, implicando o bombardeamento tanto de alvos militares como civis.

A este respeito, o general James Mattis, comandante do U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), declarou que o estabelicimento de uma “zona de interdição de voo” envolveria de facto uma campanha de bombardeamento geral, que alvejasse entre outras coisas o sistema de defesa aérea da Líbia.

“Seria uma operação militar – não seria suficiente dizer às pessoas para não voarem com aviões. Teria de ser removida a capacidade de defesa aérea a fim de estabelecer uma zona de interdição de voo, que não haja ilusões quanto a isto “. ( U.S. general warns no-fly zone could lead to all-out war in Libya , Mail Online, March 5, 2011, sublinhado do autor).

USS Enterprise. Uma força naval dos EUA e de aliados foi posicionada ao longo da costa líbia.

O Pentágono está a mover os seus vasos de guerra para o Mediterrâneo. O porta-aviões USS Enterprise transitou através do Canal de Suez poucos dias após a insurreição. ( http://www.enterprise.navy.mil )

Os navios anfíbios dos EUA, USS Ponce e USS Kearsarge, também foram posicionados no Mediterrâneo.

Foram despachados 400 fuzileiros navais dos EUA para a ilha grega de Creta “antes do seu posicionamento em navios de guerra ao largo da Líbia” ( Operation Libya”: US Marines on Crete for Libyan deployment , Times of Malta, March 3, 2011).

Enquanto isso, a Alemanha, França, Grã-Bretanha, Canadá e Itália estão no processo de posicionar vasos de guerra ao longo da costa líbia.

A Alemanha posicionou três navios de guerra utilizando o pretexto da assistência na evacuação de refugiados sobre a fronteira Líbia-Tunísia. “A França decidiu enviar o Mistral, o seu porta-helicópteros, os quais, segundo o Ministério da Defesa, contribuirão para a evacuação de milhares de egípcios”. ( Towards the Coasts of Libya: US, French and British Warships Enter the Mediterranean , Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, March 3, 2011). O Canadá despachou (2 Março) a fragata HMCS Charlettetown.

Entretanto, a US 17th Air Force, chamada US Air Force Africa, baseada na Ramstein Air Force Base, na Alemanha, está a assistir na evacuação de refugiados. As instalações da força aérea EUA-NATO na Grã-Bretanha, Itália, França e Médio Oriente estão em prontidão.

Parte II: A “Operação Líbia” e a batalha pelo petróleo

O original encontra-se em http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23548

Este artigo foi traduzido em português porResistir.info ( http://resistir.info/ )

Insurrección e intervención militar en Libia

March 9th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Estados Unidos y la OTAN están apoyando una insurrección armada en el Este de Libia, tratando de justificar su intervención como “intervención humanitaria”.

Este no es un movimiento de protesta no violento como en Egipto y en Túnez. Las condiciones en Libia son completamente diferentes. La insurgencia armada en el Este de Libia está directamente apoyada por potencias extranjeras. La insurrección en Bengasi enarboló inmediatamente la bandera roja, negra y verde con la media luna y la estrella: la bandera de la monarquía del Rey Idris, que simbolizaba el dominio de los antiguos poderes coloniales. (Véase Manlio Dinucci: Libya-When historial memory is erased”, Global Research, 28 febrero 2011).

Las fuerzas especiales y los asesores de la OTAN están ya sobre el terreno. La operación se planeó para hacerla coincidir con el movimiento de protesta en los países árabes vecinos, haciéndosele creer a la opinión pública que el movimiento de protesta se había extendido de forma espontánea a Libia desde Túnez y Egipto. 

La administración de Obama, en consultas con sus aliados, está propiciando una rebelión armada, es decir, un intento de golpe de estado:

    “La administración Obama está preparada para ofrecer “cualquier tipo de ayuda” a los libios que tratan de derrocar a Moammar Gadafi. Estamos tendiendo la mano a muchos libios que están intentando organizarse en el este, y cuando la revolución se extienda hacia el oeste, también allí”, dijo la Secretaria de Estado Hillary Clinton el 27 de febrero. “Creo que es demasiado pronto para poder decir cómo se va a desarrollar la situación, pero vamos a estar preparados para ofrecer cualquier tipo de ayuda que cualquiera pueda necesitar de Estados Unidos”. Se están llevando a cabo esfuerzos para formar un gobierno provisional en la parte oriental del país, donde empezó la rebelión a mediados del pasado mes.

    EEUU amenaza con adoptar más medidas contra el gobierno de Gadafi, pero no dijo cuáles eran ni cuándo iban a anunciarse, según Clinton.

    “EEUU debería reconocer al gobierno provisional que se está ya tratando de instaurar” [McCain].

    Lieberman se despachó en términos similares, instando a proporcionar “apoyo tangible, una zona de exclusión aérea, reconocimiento del gobierno revolucionario y prestar apoyo a los ciudadanos con ayuda humanitaria, aunque yo les proporcionaría armas”.

La planeada invasion

EEUU y la OTAN están ahora considerando una invasión militar de sus fuerzas bajo un “mandato humanitario”.

    “EEUU está enviando fuerzas navales y aéreas a la región en preparación de todas las opciones posibles en el enfrentamiento con Libia”, anunció el 1 de marzo el portavoz del Pentágono, Coronel Dave Lapan del cuerpo de marines. Dijo después que “fue el Presidente Obama el que pidió al ejército que se preparase para esas opciones ‘porque la situación en Libia iba a peor’” (Manlio Dinucci, “Operation Libya: The Pentagon is “Repositioning” its Naval and Air Forces…”, Global Research, 3 marzo de 2011, énfasis añadido)

El objeto real de la “Operación Libia” no es establecer la democracia sino tomar posesión de las reservas de petróleo de Libia, desestabilizar la National Oil Corporation (NOC) y, finalmente, privatizar la industria petrolera del país, es decir, transferir el control y propiedad de la riqueza petrolera de Libia a manos extranjeras. La National Oil Corporation se sitúa en el puesto 25 entre las 100 compañías petroleras más importantes del mundo. (The Energy Intelligence ranks NOC 25 among the world’s Top 100 companies”, Libyaonline.com.)

Libia está entre las mayores economías petroleras del mundo, con aproximadamente el 3,5% de las reservas globales de petróleo, más de dos veces las de EEUU (para más detalles, véase en breve la parte II de este artículo, que se llamará: “Operación Libia” y la batalla por el petróleo).

La planificada invasión de Libia, que está ya en marcha, forma parte de la más amplia “Batalla por el Petróleo”. Cerca del 80% de las reservas de petróleo de Libia se localizan en la meseta del Golfo de Sirte, al este de Libia. (Véase mapa al final)

Los supuestos estratégicos tras la “Operación Libia” son reminiscencia de las anteriores empresas militares de EEUU y la OTAN en Yugoslavia e Iraq.

En Yugoslavia, las fuerzas de EEUU y la OTAN desencadenaron una guerra civil. El objetivo era crear divisiones étnicas y políticas que finalmente llevaron al desmembramiento de todo un país. Ese objetivo se consiguió mediante la financiación y entrenamiento secretos de ejércitos paramilitares armados, primero en Bosnia (Ejército Musulmán Bosnio, 1991-95) y seguidamente en Kosovo (Ejército de Liberación de Kosovo -KLA, por sus siglas en inglés-, 1998-99). Tanto en Kosovo como en Bosnia, la desinformación llevada a cabo por los medios (incluyendo mentiras e invenciones) se utilizaron para apoyar las proclamas de EEUU y la UE de que el gobierno de Belgrado había cometido atrocidades, justificando así una intervención militar en función de razones humanitarias.

Irónicamente, la “Operación Yugoslavia” está ahora en labios de los políticos estadounidenses: el Senador Lieberman ha “comparado la situación en Libia con los acontecimientos en los Balcanes en la década de 1990, cuando dijo que EEUU ‘había intervenido para detener un genocidio contra los bosnios’. Y lo primero que hicimos fue proporcionarles armas para que se defendieran. Esto es lo que creo que deberíamos hacer en Libia”. (“Clinton: US Ready to aid to Libyan opposition”, Associated Press, 27 febrero 2011, énfasis añadido).

Esta opción está en marcha ya. La invasión de Libia ha dado comienzo.

    “Cientos de asesores militares estadounidenses, británicos y franceses están ya en Cirenaica, la provincia separatista oriental de Libia… Los asesores, incluyendo oficiales de inteligencia, llegaron desde barcos de guerra y buques con misiles hasta las ciudades costeras de Bengasi y Tobruk” (DEBKAfile, “US military advisers in Cyrenaica”, 25 febrero 2011).

Las fuerzas especiales de EEUU y los aliados están sobre el terreno en el este de Libia, proporcionando apoyo secreto a los rebeldes. Esto se reconoció tras arrestarse a comandos de Fuerzas Especiales SAS británicas en la región de Bengasi. Estaban actuando como asesores militares de las fuerzas de oposición:

    “Ocho comandos de las fuerzas especiales británicas, en misión secreta e intentando poner en contacto a diplomáticos británicos con los principales opositores al Coronel Gadafi en Libia, acabaron humillados tras ser detenidos por fuerzas rebeldes al este de Libia”, informaba hoy el Sunday Times.

Las fuerzas de los SAS fueron arrestadas cuando escoltan a una “misión diplomática” británica que había entrado ilegalmente en el país (sin duda alguna desde un buque de guerra británico) para mantener conversaciones con los dirigentes de la rebelión. El Foreign Office británico admitió “haber enviado al este de Libia a un pequeño equipo para iniciar contactos con la oposición que apoya a los rebeldes”. (“UK diplomatic team leaves Libya”, World – CBC News, 6 marzo 2011).

Para colmo de ironías, las informaciones no sólo confirman la intervención militar occidental (incluyendo varios cientos de fuerzas especiales), sino que reconocen que la rebelión se opone firmemente a la presencia ilegal de tropas extranjeras sobre suelo libio:

    “La intervención de las SAS indignó a los dirigentes de la oposición libia que ordenaron que se encerrara a los soldados en una base militar. Los opositores a Gadafi temen que éste pueda utilizar cualquier prueba de interferencias militares occidentales para reunir apoyos patrióticos hacia su régimen.” (Reuters, 6 marzo 2011).

El “diplomático” británico capturado con siete soldados de las fuerzas especiales era un miembro de la inteligencia británica, un agente del MI6 en “misión secreta” (The Sun, 7 marzo 2011).

Los comunicados de la OTAN han confirmado que estaban suministrando armas a las fuerzas de la oposición. Hay indicios, aunque no pruebas claras hasta ahora, de que se entregaron armas a los insurgentes antes de la embestida de los rebeldes. Es más que probable que también hubiera sobre el terreno asesores de inteligencia y del ejército de EEUU y la OTAN previamente a que los insurgentes dieran comienzo a su ofensiva. Esa fue la pauta aplicada en Kosovo: fuerzas especiales apoyando y entrenando al Ejército de Liberación de Kosovo en los meses anteriores a la campaña de bombardeos de 1999 y la invasión de Yugoslavia.

    “La gran ofensiva lanzada por las fuerzas favorables de Gadafi [4 marzo] para arrancar el control de las ciudades y centros petroleros más importantes de Libia de manos rebeldes tuvo como consecuencia la recuperación de la ciudad clave de Zawiya y la mayoría de las ciudades petroleras por todo el Golfo de Sirte. En Washington y Londres, todo el parloteo acerca de una intervención militar al lado de la oposición libia se acalló al comprender que la inteligencia de campo a ambos lados del conflicto libio era demasiado superficial como para que pudiera servir de base para tomar decisiones.” (Debkafile, “Qaddafi pushes rebels back. Obama names Libya intel panel”, 5 marzo 2011, énfasis añadido).

El movimiento de oposición está firmemente dividido en cuanto a la cuestión de una intervención extranjera.

La división se da entre los movimientos de base, por un lado, y los “dirigentes” de la insurrección armada apoyados por EEUU, por otro, que están a favor de la intervención militar extranjera alegando “razones humanitarias”.

La mayor parte de la población libia, tanto los seguidores como los opositores al régimen, se opone firmemente a cualquier forma de intervención exterior.

Desinformación mediática

Los medios no están mencionando los amplios objetivos estratégicos que subyacen en la propuesta invasión. Tras una campaña mediática engañosa, donde se han estado fabricando literalmente las noticias sin informar sobre lo que realmente sucedía sobre el terreno, un gran sector de la opinión pública mundial ha otorgado su firme apoyo a la intervención extranjera por razones humanitarias.

La invasión está sobre la mesa de planes del Pentágono. Se está elaborando para llevarla a cabo sin tener en cuenta las demandas del pueblo de Libia, incluidos los opositores al régimen, que han expresado claramente su aversión ante una intervención militar extranjera en derogación de la soberanía de la nación.

Despliegue de fuerzas navales y aéreas

Si esta intervención militar se perpetrara, acarrearía una guerra a gran escala, un ataque relámpago, que implicaría bombardear objetivos militares y también civiles.

A este respecto, el General James Mattis, Comandante del Mando Central de EEUU (USCENTCOM), ha dado a entender que el establecimiento de una “zona de exclusión aérea” implicaría de facto una campaña de bombardeo a gran escala contra, entre otros objetivos, el sistema defensivo aéreo libio:

    “Sería una operación militar, no bastaría con decirle a la gente que no volasen aviones. ‘Habría que anular toda la capacidad de defensa aérea para establecer esa zona de exclusión aérea, pensar otra cosa es hacerse falsas ilusiones’.  (U.S. general warns no-fly zone could lead to all-out war in Libya, Mail Online, 5 marzo 2011, énfasis agregado).

A lo largo de la línea costera libia se ha desplegado un potencial naval masivo estadounidense y aliado.

El Pentágono está trasladando sus buques de guerra hacia el Mediterráneo. El portaaviones USS Enterprise pasó por el Canal de Suez pocos días después de la insurrección (http://www.enterprise.navy.mil)

También están desplegados por el Mediterráneo buques de guerra anfibios estadounidenses: el USS Ponce y el USS Kearsarge.

Es posible que tu navegador no permita visualizar esta imagen.

 

Se ha enviado a 400 marines estadounidenses a la isla griega de Creta “antes de su despliegue en buques de guerra hacia Libia” (“Operation Libya”: US Marines on Crete for Lybian deployment, Times of Malta, 3 marzo 2011).

Mientras tanto, Alemania, Francia, Gran Bretaña, Canadá e Italia se preparan para desplegar navíos de guerra a lo largo de la costa libia.

Alemania ha desplegado tres buques de guerra pretextando que van a ayudar en la evacuación de los refugiados que se encuentran en la frontera entre Túnez y Libia. “Francia ha decidido enviar el Mistral, su buque-transporte de helicópteros, que, según su Ministerio de Defensa, contribuirá a evacuar a miles de egipcios”(Towards the Coasts of Libya: US, French and British Warships Enter the Mediterranean”, Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, 3 marzo 2011). Canadá ha enviado (2 de marzo) la Fragata Naval HMCS Charlottetown.

Mientras tanto, la 17ª Fuerza Aérea estadounidense, denominada Fuerza Aérea EEUU para África, con sede en la Base de la Fuerza Aérea de Ramstein, Alemania, está ayudando en la evacuación de refugiados. Las instalaciones aéreas de EEUU y la OTAN en Gran Bretaña, Italia, Francia y Oriente Medio están a la espera.Es posible que tu navegador no permita visualizar esta imagen.

 

Texto original en inglés :
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23548

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Sinfo Fernández

(Continuará en Parte II: La “Operación Libia” y la Batalla por el Petróleo)

Značenje Srebrenice

March 9th, 2011 by Stefan Karganović

Увек је згодна прилика да покушамо да превазиђемо уобичајене баналности дебате о Сребреници, која се у главном окреће око бројева. Када  користимо реч „дебата“ свесни смо, наравно, да је у вези са Сребреницом тај појам веома непопуларан и то, нажалост, управо у круговима оних који би ту дебату са нама требали да воде. Они поричу у начелу да постоји било шта о  чему би требало расправљати. Толико и толико заробљеника било је погубљено и један угледан међународни суд неупитног ауторитета пресудио је да то представља геноцид. (То су те „уобичајене баналности“ које уоквирују Сребреницу као предмет ако не као дебатну тему.) По мишљењу наших хипотетичких дебатних партнера ту нема ничега што оправдава расправу зато што је све утврђено и јасно.

Када би се сложили са овим становиштем ми би такође били дужни да признамо и да подаци које смо прикупили, а који стандардни наратив у вези са Сребреницом озбиљно доводе у питање, представљају – халуцинацију.

Али то је далеко од истине. Остављајући „уобичајене баналности“ по страни желимо да се усмеримо на теме које се – када се бавимо искључиво  тим баналностима – лако превиђају, али које су по нашем мишљењу чак значајније.

[1] Прва и веома важна ствар преко које се олако прелази је чињеница да је, у формалном смислу, простор који дели два супротстављена гледишта о томе шта се догодило у Сребреници, имајући у виду догађаје од јула 1995, релативно мали. Максималистичко становиште (не морамо набрајати његове  присталице зато што је очигледно ко су они) инсистира на магичном броју од 8,000 жртава погубљења који се мора прихватити безусловно  и у пркос непостојању физичких доказа, и на правној квалификацији дела као геноцида за шта се од нас захтева да то уважимо без обзира на крхкост јуристичке аргументације на којој почива. Становиште реалиста (опет без потребе да их именујемо, из истих разлога као горе) јесте да се Сребреница има третирати као свака друга кривична истрага и да се морају примењивати истоветна мерила. То значи да је могло бити само онолико жртава колико форензички докази указују да их је било, не онај број који политичке потребе налажу. Правну квалификацију злочина одређује редовна, неполитичка, процена релевантних околности, не пропагандни императив да се произведе злочин довољно шокантних размера да би он затим могао бити пропагандно приписан једној од страна у босанском сукобу.

Јасно је да се овде не ради о неслагању о томе да ли се или не злочин догодио. Узрок неслагања лежи у одбацивању неразумног инсистирања једне стране на измишљеној цифри и на безразложно тенденциозној квалификацији тог злочина.

У рационалном свету, становиште реалиста по овом питању сматрало би се очигледним и не би уопште било спорно. Чињеница да то још увек није случај не улива нам за сада поверење у могућност плодног дијалога.

[2] Али управо такав дијалог (ако некоме реч „дебата“смета можемо је заменити овом другом) неопходан је ако желимо да остваримо конструктиван, за разлику од деструктивног, потенцијала Сребренице. Тај конструктиван потенцијал садржан је у истинитом читању наратива Сребренице као места заједничког страдања две блиске и испреплетане људске заједнице. Али да би ово значење Сребренице било признато наш хоризонт се мора у великој мери проширити.  Свођење Сребренице на три дана у јулу 1995. године представља кривотворење моралне стварности и историјски фалсификат; да би били поштени и аутентични, ми морамо увећати платно тако да ће обухватити и три претходне године. У јулу 1995. страдала је једна од сребреничких заједница; током претходне три године улоге су биле обрнуте и страдала је првенствено она друга. На крају, дошло је до поравнања рачуна за раније догађаје. То није било племенито нити оправдано, али психолошки, барем на Балкану одакле сви актери и њихове присталице и хушкачи у сваком случају потичу, било је разумљиво.

Мана – ако постоји – оваквог концепта заједничког страдања јесте у томе што и другој страни налаже обавезу да се постави поштено и да се суочи са истином. То имплицира спремност на сучељавање са грешкама и злочинима властите заједнице и да се престане са изигравањем невине жртве док су сопствене руке крваве. Само поштено самоиспитивање такве врсте моћиће да обезбеди мир и јединство; претворство невиности уз неискрено понављање измишљених жалби и притужби може одвести само појачаној мржњи и дубљем неповерењу. На Балкану процес такве врсте има само једно значење и само једну неизбежну последицу: то је синоним за репризу покоља.

[3] Сребреница има још једно значење: она представља намерно нанесену клевету. Њена сврха је да се оцрни и деморализује цели један народ приписивањем гнусног злочина који ни он ни његове институције нису починили и то не зато што су окривљивачи са друге стране искрено убеђени у оправданост оптужбе него зато што опортунистички сматрају да ће из тога на туђу штету моћи да извуку разне врсте стратегијске користи. Они не примећују да без подршке међународних фактора, чији се интереси тренутно и привремено поклапају са њиховима, они не би могли да постигну ништа. Међутим, у својој провинцијској ограничености они такође не схватају да ће их њихови инострани партнери одбацити без оклевања истога тренутка када престану да буду корисни, као што су то већ учинили са мноштвом других „савезника.“ Када се то неизбежно буде догодило, остаће једино  суседи Срби да им пруже  подршку.

Време да се односи нормализују, да се корумпирани и неспособни шарлатани у Сарајеву најуре и да се формулише одрживи план Б је – сада.

[4] Постоји барем још једно опасно значење или, да се подсетимо на увек актуелни увид Дајане Џонстон, политичка употреба, Сребренице. То је да корумпираној сарајевској елити послужи као средство за мобилисање  слуђених маса и као негативан одређивач националног идентитета њених следбеника. У недостатку позитивних елемената који би се могли користити да би у националном смислу свој идентитет дефинисали тако да би се од суседа упадљиво разликовали, они  свој нови идентитет сада граде искључиво  на темељу тврдње да  са суседима који су покушали да их истребе немају никакве везе. Ми смо већ на другом месту изложили три врсте опасних  лажи које је породила Сребреница и њихове кобне последице[1]: лажне норме међународног права, лажни историјски запис и лажни међународни морал. Овоме сада можемо додати и контуре лажног националног идентитета, што је можда најжалоснији и за наводне „кориснике“ највише понижавајући облик политичке злоупотребе Сребренице.

Постоји врло једноставан начин да се сребреничка загонетка реши на начин који би користио свима. То је да се проведе истрага и да се без унапред донетих закључака утврди  шта се стварно тамо догодило, са искључивим циљем да се открије и документује – истина.  

Ко ће нам се на том задатку придружити?  

 Стефан Каргановић је Председник холандске НВО Историјски пројекат Сребреница

[1] http://www.srebrenica-project.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85:proceedings-of-the-moscow-symposium-are-off-the-press&catid=29:moscow-2009&Itemid=25, с. 22 и 23

Stealing from Social Security to Pay for Wars and Bailouts

March 9th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The American Empire is failing. A number of its puppet rulers are being overthrown by popular protests, and the almighty dollar will not even buy one Swiss franc, one Canadian dollar, or one Australian dollar. Despite the sovereign debt problem that threatens EU members Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal, it requires $1.38 dollars to buy one euro, a new currency that was issued at parity with the US dollar.

The US dollar’s value is likely to fall further in terms of other currencies, because nothing is being done about the US budget and trade deficits. Obama’s budget, if passed, doesn’t reduce the deficit over the next ten years by enough to cover the projected deficit in the FY 2012 budget.

Indeed, the deficits are likely to be substantially larger than forecast.  The military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned Americans a half century ago, is more powerful than ever and shows no inclination to halt the wars for US hegemony.  

The cost of these wars is enormous.  The US media, being good servants for the government, only reports the out-of-pocket or current cost of the wars, which is only about one-third of the real cost. The current cost leaves out the cost of life-long care for the wounded and maimed, the cost of life-long military pensions of those who fought in the wars, the replacement costs of the destroyed equipment, the opportunity cost of the resources wasted in war, and other costs. The true cost of America’s illegal Iraq invasion, which was based entirely on lies, fabrications and deceptions, is at least $3,000 billion according to economist Joseph Stiglitz and budget expert Linda Bilmes.

The same for the Afghan war, which is ongoing.  If the Afghan war lasts as long as the Pentagon says it needs to, the cost will be a multiple of the cost of the Iraq war.

There is not enough non-military discretionary spending in the budget to cover the cost of the wars even if every dollar is cut. As long as the $1,200 billion ($1.2 trillion) annual budget for the military/security complex http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175361/  is off limits, nothing can be done about the U.S. budget deficit except to renege on obligations to the elderly, confiscate private assets, or print enough money to inflate away all debts.

The other great contribution to the US deficit is the offshoring of production for US markets.  This practice has enriched corporate management, large shareholders, and Wall Street, but it has eroded the tax base, and thereby tax collections, of local, state, and federal government, halted the growth of real income for everyone but the rich, and disrupted the lives of those Americans whose jobs were sent abroad.  When short-term and long-term discouraged workers are added to the U.3 measure of unemployment, the U.S. has an unemployment rate of 22%.  A country with more than one-fourth of its work force unemployed has a shrunken tax base and feeble consumer purchasing power.

To put it bluntly, the $3 trillion cost of the Iraq war, as computed by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, is 20% of the size of the U.S. economy in 2010. In other words, the Iraq war alone cost Americans one-fifth of the year’s gross domestic product.  Instead of investing the resources, which would have produced income and jobs growth and solvency for state and local governments, the US government wasted the equivalent of 20% of the production of the economy in 2010 in blowing up infrastructure and people in foreign lands.  The US government spent a huge sum of money committing war crimes, while millions of Americans were thrown out of their jobs and foreclosed out of their homes.

The bought-and-paid-for Congress had no qualms about unlimited funding for war, but used the resulting “debt crisis” to refuse help to American citizens who were out of work and out of their homes.

The obvious conclusion is that “our” government does not represent us.

The US government remains a champion of offshoring, which it calls “globalism.”  According to the US government and its shills among “free market” economists, destroying American manufacturing and the tax bases of cities, states, and the federal government by moving US jobs and GDP offshore is “good for the economy.” It is “free trade.” 

It is the same sort of “good” that the US government brings to Iraq and Afghanistan by invading those countries and destroying lives, homes and infrastructures.  Destruction is good.  That’s the way our government and its shills see things. In America destruction is done with jobs offshoring, financial deregulation, and fraudulent financial instruments. In Iraq and Afghanistan (and now Pakistan) is it done with bombs and drones.

Where is all this leading?

It is leading to the destruction of Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans have convinced a large percentage of voters that America is in trouble, not because it wastes 20% of the annual budget on wars of aggression and Homeland Security porn-scanners, but  because of the poor and retirees.

Pundits scapegoat the middle class and blame the struggling middle along with the poor and retirees. Fareed Zakaria, for example, sees no extravagance in a trillion dollar military budget. The real money, he says, is in programs for the middle class, and the middle class “will immediately punish any [politician] who proposes spending cuts in any middle class program.”  What does Zakaria think the military/security complex will do to any politician who cuts the military budget? As a well-paid shill he had rather not say.

Andrew Sullivan also has no concept of reductions in military/security subsidies: “they’re big babies I mean, people keep saying they don’t want any tax increases, but they don’t want to have their Medicare cut, they don’t want to have their Medicaid [cut] or they don’t want to have their Social Security touched one inch. Well, it’s about time someone tells them,you can’t have it, baby.” 

Niall Ferguson thinks that Americans are so addicted to wars that the U.S. government will default on Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans tell us that our grandchildren are being saddled with impossible debt burdens because of handouts to retirees and the poor. $3 trillion wars are necessary and have nothing to do with the growth of the public debt. The public debt is due to unnecessary “welfare” that workers paid for with a 15% payroll tax.

When you hear a Republican sneer “entitlement,” he or she is referring to Social Security and Medicare, for which people have paid 15% of their wages for their working lifetime.  But when a Republican sneers, he or she is saying “welfare.”  To the distorted mind of a Republican, Social Security and Medicare are undeserved welfare payments to people who over-consumed for a lifetime and did not save for their old age needs. 

America can be strong again once we get rid of these welfare leeches.  

Once we are rid of these leeches, we can really fight wars. And show people who is boss.

Republicans regard Social Security as an “unfunded liability,” that is, a giveaway that is
interfering with our war-making ability.  

Alas, Social Security is an unfunded liability, because all the money working people put into it was stolen by Republicans and Democrats in order to pay for wars and bailouts for mega-rich bankers like Goldman Sachs.

What I am about to tell you might come as a shock, but it is the absolute truth, which you can verify for yourself by going online to the government’s annual OASDI and HI reports.  According to the official 2010 Social Security reports, between 1984 and 2009 the American people contributed $2 trillion, that is $2,000 billion, more to Social Security and Medicare in payroll taxes than was paid out in benefits.  

What happened to the surplus $2,000 billion, or $2,000,000,000,000.

The government spent it.

Over the past quarter century, $2 trillion in Social Security and Medicare revenues have been used to finance wars and pork-barrel projects of the US government.  

Depending on assumptions about population growth, income growth and other factors, Social Security continues to be in the black until after 2025 or 2035 under the “high cost” and “intermediate” assumptions and the current payroll tax rate of 15.3% based on the revenues paid in and the interest on those surplus revenues. Under the low cost scenario, Social Security (OASDI) will have produced surplus revenues of $31.6 trillion by 2085.

When I was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, Deputy Assistant Secretary Steve Entin worked out a way to put Social Security on a sound basis with the current rate of payroll tax without requiring one cent of general revenues.  You can read about it in chapter 9 of my book, The Supply-Side Revolution, which Harvard University Press has kept in print for more than a quarter century.  Entin’s solution, or a variation of it, would still work, so Social Security can easily be saved within the current payroll tax rate. Instead of acknowledging this incontrovertible fact, the right-wing wants to terminate the program.

Treasury was blocked from putting Entin’s plan into effect by the fact that other parts of the government and the Greenspan Social Security Commission had agendas different from ensuring a sound Social Security system. 

Wall Street insisted that the Reagan tax rate reductions would explode consumer spending, cause inflation and destroy the values of stock and bond portfolios.  When inflation collapsed instead of exploding, Wall Street said that the deficits, which resulted from inflation’s collapse, would cause inflation and destroy the values of stock and bond portfolios. This didn’t happen either.

Nevertheless, the Greenspan commission played to these mistaken fears.  The “Reagan deficits” could not cause inflation, because they were the result of the unanticipated collapse of inflation (anticipated only by supply-side economists). As I demonstrated in a paper published in the 1980s in the US, UK, Japan, Germany, Italy, and other countries, tax revenues were below the forecast amounts because inflation, and thus nominal GNP, were below forecast. The collapse of inflation also made real government spending higher than intended as the spending figures in the five-year budget were based on higher inflation than was realized.

The subsidy to the US government from the payroll tax is larger than the $2 trillion in excess revenue collections over payouts.  The subsidy of the Social Security payroll tax to the government also includes the fact that $2.8 trillion of US government debt obligations are not in the market.  If the national debt held by the public were $2.8 trillion larger, so would be the debt service costs and most likely also the interest rate.
The money left over for war would be even smaller. More would have to be borrowed or printed.

The difference between the $2 trillion in excess Social Security revenues and the $2.8 trillion figure is the $0.8 trillion that is the accumulated interest over the years on the mounting $2 trillion in debt, if the Treasury had had to issue bonds, instead of non-marketable IOUs, to the Social Security Trust Fund. When the budget is in deficit, the Treasury pays interest by issuing new bonds in the amount of the interest due. In other words, the interest on the debt adds to the debt outstanding.

The robbed Social Security Trust Fund can only be made good by the US Treasury issuing another $2.8 trillion in US government debt to pay off its IOUs to the fund.

When a government is faced with a $14 trillion public debt growing by trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, how does it add another $2.8 trillion to the mix?

Only with great difficulty.

Therefore, to avoid repaying the $2.8 trillion that the government has stolen for its wars and bailouts for mega-rich bankers, the right-wing has selected entitlements as the sacrificial lamb. 

A government that runs a deficit too large to finance by borrowing will print money as long as it can.  When the printing press begins to push up inflation and push down the exchange value of the dollar, the government will be tempted to reduce its debt by reneging on entitlements or by confiscating private assets such as pension funds. When it has confiscated private assets and reneged on public obligations, nothing is left but the printing press.

We owe the end-time situation that we face to open-ended wars and to an unregulated financial system concentrated in a few hands that produces financial crises by leveraging debt to irresponsible levels. 

The government of the United States does not represent the American people.  It represents the oligarchs.  The way campaign finance and elections are structured, the American people cannot take back their government by voting. A once proud and free people have been reduced to serfdom.

The Middle East’s Feminist Revolution

March 9th, 2011 by Naomi Wolf

OXFORD – Among the most prevalent Western stereotypes about Muslim countries are those concerning Muslim women: doe-eyed, veiled, and submissive, exotically silent, gauzy inhabitants of imagined harems, closeted behind rigid gender roles. So where were these women in Tunisia and Egypt?

In both countries, women protesters were nothing like the Western stereotype: they were front and center, in news clips and on Facebook forums, and even in the leadership. In Egypt’s Tahrir Square, women volunteers, some accompanied by children, worked steadily to support the protests – helping with security, communications, and shelter. Many commentators credited the great numbers of women and children with the remarkable overall peacefulness of the protesters in the face of grave provocations.

Other citizen reporters in Tahrir Square – and virtually anyone with a cell phone could become one – noted that the masses of women involved in the protests were demographically inclusive. Many wore headscarves and other signs of religious conservatism, while others reveled in the freedom to kiss a friend or smoke a cigarette in public.

But women were not serving only as support workers, the habitual role to which they are relegated in protest movements, from those of the 1960’s to the recent student riots in the United Kingdom. Egyptian women also organized, strategized, and reported the events. Bloggers such as Leil Zahra Mortada took grave risks to keep the world informed daily of the scene in Tahrir Square and elsewhere.

The role of women in the great upheaval in the Middle East has been woefully under-analyzed. Women in Egypt did not just “join” the protests – they were a leading force behind the cultural evolution that made the protests inevitable. And what is true for Egypt is true, to a greater and lesser extent, throughout the Arab world. When women change, everything changes, and women in the Muslim world are changing radically.

The greatest shift is educational. Two generations ago, only a small minority of the daughters of the elite received a university education. Today, women account for more than half of the students at Egyptian universities. They are being trained to use power in ways that their grandmothers could scarcely have imagined: publishing newspapers (as Sanaa el Seif did, in defiance of a government order to cease operating); campaigning for student leadership posts; fundraising for student organizations; and running meetings.

Indeed, a substantial minority of young women in Egypt and other Arab countries have now spent their formative years thinking critically in mixed-gender environments, and even publicly challenging male professors in the classroom. It is far easier to tyrannize a population when half are poorly educated and trained to be submissive. But, as Westerners should know from their own historical experience, once you educate women, democratic agitation is likely to accompany the massive cultural shift that follows.

The nature of social media, too, has helped turn women into protest leaders. Having taught leadership skills to women for more than a decade, I know how difficult it is to get them to stand up and speak out in a hierarchical organizational structure. Likewise, women tend to avoid the figurehead status that traditional protest has in the past imposed on certain activists – almost invariably a hotheaded young man with a megaphone.

In such contexts – with a stage, a spotlight, and a spokesperson – women often shy away from leadership roles. But social media, through the very nature of the technology, have changed what leadership looks and feels like today. Facebook mimics the way many women choose to experience social reality, with connections between people just as important as individual dominance or control, if not more so.

You can be a powerful leader on Facebook just by creating a really big “us.” Or you can stay the same size, conceptually, as everyone else on your page – you don’t have to assert your dominance or authority. The structure of Facebook’s interface creates what brick-and-mortar institutions, despite 30 years of feminist pressure, have failed to provide: a context in which women’s ability to forge a powerful “us” and engage in a leadership of service can advance the cause of freedom and justice worldwide.

Of course, Facebook cannot reduce the risks of protest. But, however violent the immediate future in the Middle East may be, the historical record of what happens when educated women participate in freedom movements suggests that those in the region who would like to maintain iron-fisted rule are finished.

Just when France began its rebellion in 1789, Mary Wollstonecraft, who had been caught up in witnessing it, wrote her manifesto for women’s liberation. After educated women in America helped fight for the abolition of slavery, they put female suffrage on the agenda. After they were told in the 1960’s that “the position of women in the movement is prone,” they generated “second wave” feminism – a movement born of women’s new skills and old frustrations.

Time and again, once women have fought the other battles for freedom of their day, they have moved on to advocate for their own rights. And, since feminism is simply a logical extension of democracy, the Middle East’s despots are facing a situation in which it will be almost impossible to force these awakened women to stop their fight for freedom – their own and that of their communities.

Naomi Wolf is a political activist and social critic whose most recent book is Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.

After the Latins, the Arabs. And tomorrow, the Africans ? Why Washington and Paris had to draw back in Tunisia and Egypt. How they are going to save the foundations of the neo-colonial system. And what is our role in seeing that the world truly transforms itself.

For a long time the Empire seemed to be invincible. The United States could at will, using the most absurd pretexts, violate the United Nations Charter, impose cruel embargoes, bomb or occupy countries, assassinate heads of state, provoke civil wars, finance terrorists, organize coups d’état, arm Israel for its aggressions…

It seemed that the US could do anything it wanted and pessimism prevailed. How many times have I heard people say : “They are too strong, how can we get rid of these corrupt Arab regimes that are accomplices of Israel ?” The response has come from below : the peoples are stronger than the tyrants.

But we all feel that the struggle has not ended by only eliminating Ben Ali and Mubarak. It has just begun. To wrest real changes, those who are pulling the strings from behind must be neutralized. Hence it is vitally important to figure out the mechanisms of this system that produces tyrants, protects them and, when necessary, replaces them. And to understand why this Empire is weakening and how it will try to maintain its power at all costs.

No Empire is eternal
 
No Empire is eternal. Sooner or later, the arrogance of their crimes provokes general resistance. Sooner or later, the cost of ‘maintaining order’ is greater than the profits that these wars bring to the multinationals. Sooner or later, the investments in the military will be at the expense of other sectors of the economy, so that they will lose their international competitiveness.

And the United States is no exception to the rule. The rate of profit of their multinationals has decreased since 1965 and the indebtedness and speculation bubbles have only delayed and worsened the situation. Their share in the world economy has dropped from 50 per cent in 1945 to 30 per cent in the 1960s. Today it is around 20 per cent and it will be about 10 per cent in 20 years’ time. No army can be stronger than its economy and the United States are therefore increasingly less able to be the world’s policeman. Now the planet is becoming multipolar : there is a different balance between the United States, Europe, Russia and, above all, the large countries of the South. China in particular has proved that to be independent is the best way to make progress. The USA and Europe cannot impose their will as they used to do. Their neo-colonialism seems to be heading for an early demise.

In fact, this US decline has been increasingly visible over the last decade. In 2000 the Internet bubble burst. In 2002, the Venezuelan population foiled the ‘made in the USA’ coup d’état and Hugo Chavez embarked on his great social reforms that led to peoples’ resistance all over Latin America. In 2003 Bush’s war machine bogged down in Iraq, as in Afghanistan. In 2006 Israel failed in Lebanon and in 2009 in Gaza. The defeats are mounting up.

After the Latinos, the Arabs. And tomorrow the Africans ?
 
The wonderful revolt of the Tunisians and Egyptians has wrought miracles : we now hear the United States extolling the ‘democratic transition’ while for decades they have been supplying tyrants with tanks, machine guns and training seminars in torture ! It is the same with France.
And this revolt is creating anguish about the strategies of the Great US Empire, the Little French Empire and their Israeli protégés. Thank you, Arab people !

The subject of this anguish : how to change a little, so that nothing essentially changes ? How to maintain domination over Middle East oil, raw materials and the economies in general ? How to prevent Africa too from emancipating itself ?

But we must go into the roots of the situation. Rejoicing over the first steps must not mean overlooking the path that remains to be pursued. It is not only Ben Ali who plundered Tunisia, it was a whole class of profiteers, Tunisians but above all foreigners. It was not only Mubarak wo oppressed the Egyptians, it was the whole regime around him. And behind this regime, the United States. What was important was not the marionette, but who was pulling the strings. Washington, like Paris, is only trying to replace the worn-out marionettes by other, more presentable ones.

There is no real democracy without social justice
 
What the Tunisians, Egyptians and others want to resolve is not : “which ‘new’ leader will make new promises that he will not keep before beating us down as used to happen ?” Their question is rather “Will I have a real job with a real wage and a decent life for my family ? Or will I have to choose between taking a boat that will sink into the Mediterranean or finding myself in a European prison for people with no documents ?”

Only recently Latin America was experiencing the same poverty and the same despair. The enormous profits from oil, gas and other raw materials went to swell the coffers of Exxon and Shell while one Latino out of two lived below the poverty threshold, without being able to pay a doctor or a good school for the children. Everything started to change when Hugo Chavez nationalized the oil, changed all the contracts with the multinationals, demanding that they paid taxes and that the profits be shared. The following year 11.4 billion dollars were paid into the State Treasury (for 20 years the figure was zero !) and this started the implementation of social programmes : health care and schooling for everyone, the doubling of the minimum wage, support for cooperatives and small businesses that create jobs. In Bolivia Evo Morales is doing the same thing. And the example is spreading. Will it reach the Mediterranean and the Middle East ? When will there be an Arab Chavez or an Arab Evo ? The courage of these masses of people who are rebelling deserves an organization and a leader who is honest and determined to see it through.

Real political democracy is impossible without social justice. In fact the two problems are intricately linked. No one sets up a dictatorship for pleasure or simple perversion. It is always to maintain the privileges of a small clique who grab all the wealth. The dictators are the employees of the multinationals.
 
Who is it that absolutely does not want democracy ?
 
Confronted by the fury of the Tunisians, what ‘new man’ has Washington proposed ? The prime minister of the former dictator ! Confronted by the will for change among the Egyptians, who are they trying to put into power ? The former head of the army, a creature of the CIA ! Do they take the people for fools ?

Five years ago, Védrine, former French minister of foreign affairs, had the gall to claim that the Arab peoples were not ready for democracy. This theory remains dominant among a French elite who, more or less openly practise anti-Arab and Islamophobia.

In fact, it is France that is not ready for democracy. It is France who massacred the Tunisians in 1937 and 1952 and the Moroccans in 1945. It is France that has led a long and bloody war to stop the Algerians from exercising their legitimate right to sovereignty. It is France who, through a statement by their revisionist president, refused to recognize its crimes and pay its debts to the Arabs and the Africans. It is France who protected Ben Ali right up until he got on to the plane that took him away. It is France which has imposed and maintained the worst tyrants in the whole of Africa.

The current anti-Muslim racism kills two birds with one stone. First, in Europe, it divides the workers according to their origin (a third of the French and Belgian workers are of recent immigrant origin) and while there is all this fantasizing about the burqa, the employers happily attack wages, the conditions of work and the pensions of all the workers, with veils or without. Instead of wondering “But who imposed these dictators on them ?” and replying “Europe, Europe at the top, Europe of the multinationals” the Arabs are portrayed as “not being ready for democracy” and hence, dangerous. By reversing the victim and the guilty one, the former is demonized.

This is the fundamental debate and it depends on all of us to see that it is highlighted : why the United States, France & Co. – who have the word ‘democracy’ always on their lips – absolutely do not want real democracy ? Because if the peoples can themselves decide how to use their wealth and their work, then the privileges of the corrupt and the profiteers will be in great danger !

To hide their refusal of democracy, the United States and their allies agitate in the media about the ‘Islamist peril’. What hypocrisy ! Do we see them alerting us and leading huge media campaigns about the Islamists who are submissive to them like the odious regime of Saudi Arabia ? Do we hear them excusing themselves for having financed the Islamists of Bin Laden in order to overturn a leftwing Afghan government that had emancipated the women ?

Our role is important
 
Our world is changing very quickly. The decline of the USA opens new prospects for the liberation of peoples. Great upheavals are likely …

But what direction will they take ? If they are to be positive ones, it depends on each of us circulating genuine information and that the shameful stories of the past become known, that the secret strategies are unmasked. All this will help to establish a great debate, popular and international : what is the economy, the social justice that the peoples need ?

The official information on this issue is catastrophic and it is not by chance. So if the debate is to be started and spread about, each of us has an important role to play. To inform is the key. How should this be done ? We’ll come back to this in another article in a few days’ time.

Brussels, 19 february 2011

This Time We’re Taking the Whole Planet With Us

March 9th, 2011 by Chris Hedges

I have walked through the barren remains of Babylon in Iraq and the ancient Roman city of Antioch, the capital of Roman Syria, which now lies buried in silt deposits. I have visited the marble ruins of Leptis Magna, once one of the most important agricultural centers in the Roman Empire, now isolated in the desolate drifts of sand southeast of Tripoli. I have climbed at dawn up the ancient temples in Tikal, while flocks of brightly colored toucans leapt through the jungle foliage below. I have stood amid the remains of the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor along the Nile, looking at the statue of the great Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II lying broken on the ground, with Percy Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” running through my head:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Civilizations rise, decay and die. Time, as the ancient Greeks argued, for individuals and for states is cyclical. As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse. The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses. The Roman and Sumerian empires fell this way. The Mayan elites, after clearing their forests and polluting their streams with silt and acids, retreated backward into primitivism.
 
As food and water shortages expand across the globe, as mounting poverty and misery trigger street protests in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, the elites do what all elites do. They launch more wars, build grander monuments to themselves, plunge their nations deeper into debt, and as it all unravels they take it out on the backs of workers and the poor. The collapse of the global economy, which wiped out a staggering $40 trillion in wealth, was caused when our elites, after destroying our manufacturing base, sold massive quantities of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities to pension funds, small investors, banks, universities, state and foreign governments and shareholders. The elites, to cover the losses, then looted the public treasury to begin the speculation over again. They also, in the name of austerity, began dismantling basic social services, set out to break the last vestiges of unions, slashed jobs, froze wages, threw millions of people out of their homes, and stood by idly as we created a permanent underclass of unemployed and underemployed.
 
The Mayan elite became, at the end, as the anthropologist Ronald Wright notes in “A Short History of Progress,” “… extremists, or ultra-conservatives, squeezing the last drops of profit from nature and humanity.” This is how all civilizations, including our own, ossify and die. The signs of imminent death may be undeniable. Common sense may cry out for a radical new response. But the race toward self-immolation only accelerates because of intellectual and moral paralysis. As Sigmund Freud grasped in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” and “Civilization and Its Discontents,” human societies are as intoxicated and blinded by their own headlong rush toward death and destruction as they are by the search for erotic fulfillment.
 
The unrest in the Middle East, the implosion of national economies such as those of Ireland and Greece, the increasing anger of a beleaguered working class at home and abroad, the growing desperate human migrations and the refusal to halt our relentless destruction of the ecosystem on which life depends are the harbingers of our own collapse and the consequences of the idiocy of our elite and the folly of globalization. Protests that are not built around a complete reconfiguration of American society, including a rapid dismantling of empire and the corporate state, can only forestall the inevitable. We will be saved only with the birth of a new and militant radicalism which seeks to dethrone our corrupt elite from power, not negotiate for better terms.
 
The global economy is built on the erroneous belief that the marketplace—read human greed—should dictate human behavior and that economies can expand eternally. Globalism works under the assumption that the ecosystem can continue to be battered by massive carbon emissions without major consequences. And the engine of global economic expansion is based on the assurance that there will always be plentiful and cheap oil. The inability to confront simple truths about human nature and the natural world leaves the elites unable to articulate new social, economic and political paradigms. They look only for ways to perpetuate a dying system. 
 
Globalization is the modern articulation of the ancient ideology used by past elites to turn citizens into serfs and the natural world into a wasteland for profit. Nothing to these elites is sacred. Human beings and the natural world are exploited until exhaustion or collapse. The elites make no pretense of defending the common good. It is, in short, the defeat of rational thought and the death of humanism. The march toward self-annihilation has already obliterated 90 percent of the large fish in the oceans and wiped out half of the mature tropical forests, the lungs of the planet. At this rate by 2030 only 10 percent of the Earth’s tropical forests will remain. Contaminated water kills 25,000 people every day around the globe, and each year some 20 million children are impaired by malnourishment. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now above the 350 parts per million that most climate scientists warn is the maximum level for sustaining life as we know it. [Editor’s note: The preceding sentence has been revised since this article was first published here.] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the measurement could reach 541 to 970 ppm by 2100. At that point huge parts of the planet, beset with overpopulation, droughts, soil erosion, freak storms, massive crop failures and rising sea levels, will be unfit for human existence.
 
Jared Diamond in his essay “The Last Americans” notes that by the time Hernan Cortés reached the Yucatán, millions of Mayan subjects had vanished.
 

“Why,” Diamond writes, “did the kings and nobles not recognize and solve these problems? A major reason was that their attention was evidently focused on the short-term concerns of enriching themselves, waging wars, erecting monuments, competing with one another, and extracting enough food from the peasants to support all these activities.”

 
“Pumping that oil, cutting down those trees, and catching those fish may benefit the elite by bringing them money or prestige and yet be bad for society as a whole (including the children of the elite) in the long run,” Diamond went on. “Maya kings were consumed by immediate concerns for their prestige (requiring more and bigger temples) and their success in the next war (requiring more followers), rather than for the happiness of commoners or of the next generation. Those people with the greatest power to make decisions in our own society today regularly make money from activities that may be bad for society as a whole and for their own children; those decision-makers include Enron executives, many land developers, and advocates of tax cuts for the rich.”
 
It was no different on Easter Island. The inhabitants, when they first settled the 64-square-mile island during the fifth century, found abundant fresh water and woods filled with the Chilean wine palm, a tree that can reach the size of an oak. Seafood, including fish, seals, porpoises and turtles, and nesting seabirds were plentiful. Easter Island’s society, which split into an elaborate caste system of nobles, priests and commoners, had within five or six centuries swelled to some 10,000 people. The natural resources were devoured and began to disappear.
 

“Forest clearance for the growing of crops would have led to population increase, but also to soil erosion and decline of soil fertility,” Paul Bahn and John Flenley write in “Easter Island, Earth Island.” “Progressively more land would have had to be cleared. Trees and shrubs would also be cut down for canoe building, firewood, house construction, and for the timbers and ropes needed in the movement and erection of statues. Palm fruits would be eaten, thus reducing regeneration of the palm. Rats, introduced for food, could have fed on the palm fruits, multiplied rapidly and completely prevented palm regeneration. The over exploitation of prolific sea bird resources would have eliminated these for all but the offshore islets. Rats could have helped in this process by eating eggs. The abundant food provided by fishing, sea birds and rats would have encouraged rapid initial human population growth. Unrestrained human population increase would later put pressure on availability of land, leading to disputes and eventually warfare. Non-availability of timber and rope would make it pointless to carve further statues. A disillusionment with the efficacy of the statue religion in providing the wants of the people could lead to the abandonment of this cult. Inadequate canoes would restrict fishing to the inshore waters, leading to further decline in protein supplies. The result could have been general famine, warfare and the collapse of the whole economy, leading to a marked population decline.”

 
Clans, in the later period of the Easter Island civilization, competed to honor their ancestors by constructing larger and larger hewn stone images, which demanded the last remnants of the timber, rope and manpower on the island. By the year 1400 the woods were gone. The soil had eroded and washed into the sea. The islanders began to fight over old timbers and were reduced to eating their dogs and soon all the nesting birds.
 
The desperate islanders developed a belief system that posited that the erected stone gods, the moai, would come to life and save them from disaster. This last retreat into magic characterizes all societies that fall into terminal decline. It is a frantic response to loss of control as well as despair and powerlessness. This desperate retreat into magic led to the Cherokee ghost dance, the doomed Taki Onqoy revolt against the Spanish invaders in Peru, and the Aztec prophecies of the 1530s. Civilizations in the last moments embrace a total severance from reality, a reality that becomes too bleak to be absorbed.

The modern belief by evangelical Christians in the rapture, which does not exist in biblical literature, is no less fantastic, one that at once allows for the denial of global warming and of evolution and the absurd idea that the righteous will all be saved—floating naked into heaven at the end of time. The faith that science and technology, which are morally neutral and serve human ambitions, will make the world whole again is no less delusional. We offer up our magical thinking in secular as well as religious form.
 
We think we have somehow escaped from the foibles of the past. We are certain that we are wiser and greater than those who went before us. We trust naively in the inevitability of our own salvation. And those who cater to this false hope, especially as things deteriorate, receive our adulation and praise. We in the United States, only 5 percent of the world’s population, are outraged if anyone tries to tell us we don’t have a divine right to levels of consumption that squander 25 percent of the world’s energy. President Jimmy Carter, when he suggested that such consumption was probably not beneficial, became a figure of national ridicule. The worse it gets the more we demand illusionary happy talk. Those willing to cater to fantasy and self-delusion are, because they make us politically passive, lavishly funded and promoted by corporate and oligarchic forces. And by the very end we are joyfully led over the cliff by simpletons and lunatics, many of whom appear to be lining up for the Republican presidential nomination.
 

“Are the events of three hundred years ago on a small remote island of any significance to the world at large?” Bahn and Flenley ask. “We believe they are. We consider that Easter Island was a microcosm which provides a model for the whole planet. Like the Earth, Easter Island was an isolated system. The people there believed that they were the only survivors on Earth, all other land having sunk beneath the sea. They carried out for us the experiment of permitting unrestricted population growth, profligate use of resources, destruction of the environment and boundless confidence in their religion to take care of the future. The result was an ecological disaster leading to a population crash. … Do we have to repeat the experiment on this grand scale? Do we have to be as cynical as Henry Ford and say ‘History is bunk’? Would it not be more sensible to learn the lesson of Easter Island history, and apply it to the Earth Island on which we live?”

 
Human beings seem cursed to repeat these cycles of exploitation and collapse. And the greater the extent of the deterioration the less they are able to comprehend what is happening around them. The Earth is littered with the physical remains of human folly and human hubris. We seem condemned as a species to drive ourselves and our societies toward extinction, although this moment appears be the denouement to the whole sad show of settled, civilized life that began some 5,000 years ago. There is nothing left on the planet to seize. We are now spending down the last remnants of our natural capital, including our forests, fossil fuel, air and water.
 
This time when we go down it will be global. There are no new lands to pillage, no new peoples to exploit. Technology, which has obliterated the constraints of time and space, has turned our global village into a global death trap. The fate of Easter Island will be writ large across the broad expanse of planet Earth.
 
Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisers conceded last week that the Israeli prime minister is more downcast than they have ever seen him. The reason for his gloominess is to be found in Israel’s diplomatic and strategic standing, which some analysts suggest is at its lowest ebb in living memory.

Netanyahu’s concern was evident at a recent cabinet meeting, when he was reported to have angrily pounded the table. “We are in a very difficult international arena,” the Haaretz newspaper quoted him telling ministers who wanted to step up settlement-building. “I suggest we all be cautious.”
 
A global survery for Britain’s BBC published on Monday will have only reinforced that assessment: Israel was rated among the least popular countries, with just 21 per cent seeing it in a positive light.
 
A belated realisation by Netanyahu that he has exhausted international goodwill almost certainly explains — if mounting rumours from his office are to be believed — his mysterious change of tack on the peace process.
 
After refusing last year to continue a partial freeze on settlement-building, a Palestinian pre-requisite for talks, he is reportedly preparing to lay out an initiative for the phased creation of a Palestinian state.
 
Such a move would reflect the Israeli prime minister’s belated recognition that Israel is facing trouble on almost every front.
 
The most obvious is a rapidly deteriorating political and military environment in the region. As upheaval spreads across the Middle East, Israel is anxiously scouring the neighbourhood for potential allies.
 
Unwisely, Israel has already sacrificed its long-standing friendship with Turkey. With the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, Netanyahu can probably no longer rely on Egyptian leaders for help in containing Hamas in Gaza. Israel’s nemesis in Lebanon, the Shia militia Hizbullah, has strengthened its grip on power. And given the popular mood, Jordan cannot afford to be seen aiding Israel.
 
Things are no better in the global arena. According to the Israeli media, Washington is squarely blaming Netanyahu for the recent collapse of peace talks with the Palestinians.
 
It is also holding him responsible for subsequent developments, particularly a Palestinian resolution presented to the United Nations Security Council last month condemning Israeli settlements. The White House was forced to eat its own words on the issue of settlements by vetoing the resolution.
 
The timing of the US veto could not have been more embarrassing for President Barack Obama. He was forced to side publicly with Israel against the Palestinians at a time when the US desperately wants to calm tensions in the Middle East.
 
Over the weekend, reports suggested that Netanyahu had been further warned by US officials that any peace plan he announces must be “dramatic”.
 
Then, there are the prime minister’s problems with Europe. Netanyahu was apparently shaken by the response of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, when he called to chastise her for joining Britain and France in backing the Palestinian resolution at the UN. Instead of apologising, she is reported to have berated him for his intransigence in the peace process.
 
Traditionally, Germany has been Israel’s most accommodating European ally.
 
The loss of European support, combined with US anger, may signal difficulties ahead for Israel with the Quartet, the international group also comprising Russia and the United Nations that oversees the peace process.
 
The Quartet’s principals are due to hold a session next week. Netanyahu’s officials are said to be worried that, in the absence of progress, the Quartet may lean towards an existing peace plan along the lines of the Arab League’s long-standing proposal, based on Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders.
 
In addition, Israel’s already strained relations with the Palestinian Authority are likely to deteriorate further in coming months. The PA has been trying to shore up its legitimacy since the so-called Palestine Papers were leaked in January, revealing that its negotiators agreed to large concessions in peace talks.
 
A first step in damage limitation was the resolution at the UN denouncing the settlements. More such moves are likely. Most ominous for Israel would be a PA decision to carry out its threat to declare statehood unilaterally at the UN in September. In that vein, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said on Saturday that he expected an independent Palestinian state to become a permanent member of the UN.
 
The other prospect facing the PA — of collapse or being swept away by street protests — would be even more disastrous. With the PA gone, Israel would be forced to directly reoccupy the West Bank at great financial cost and damage to its international image. Palestinians could be expected to launch a civil rights campaign demanding full rights, including the vote, alongside Israelis.
 
It is doubtless this scenario that prompted Netanyahu into uncharacteristic comments last week about the danger facing Israel of sharing a single “binational state” with the Palestinians, calling it “disastrous for Israel”. Such warnings have been the stock-in-trade not of the Greater Israel camp, of which Netanyahu is a leading member, but of his political opponents on the Zionist left as they justify pursuing variants of the two-state solution.
 
Netanyahu reportedly intends to unveil his peace plan during a visit to Washington, currently due in May. But on Monday Ehud Barak, his defence minister, added to the pressure by warning that May was too late. “This is the time to take risks in order to prevent international isolation,” he told Israel Radio.
 
But, assuming Netanyahu does offer a peace plan, will it be too little, too late?
 
Few Israeli analysts appear to believe that Netanyahu has had a real change of heart.
 

“At this point it’s all spin designed to fend off pressures,” Yossi Alpher, a former director of the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, wrote for the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue website Bitterlemons. “The object of the exercise is to gain a day, or a week, or a month, before having to come up with some sort of new spin.”

 
Indications are that Netanyahu will propose a miserly interim formula for a demilitarised Palestinian state in temporary borders. The Jerusalem Post reported that in talks with Abbas late last year Netanyahu demanded that Israel hold on to 40 per cent of the West Bank for the forseeable future.
 
His comments on Tuesday that Israel’s “defence line” was the Jordan Valley, a large swath of the West Bank, that Israel could not afford to give up suggest he is not preparing to compromise on his hardline positions.
 
His plan accords with a similar interim scheme put forward by Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s far-right foreign minister and chief political rival on the right.
 
Palestinians insist on a deal on permanent borders, saying Israel would use anything less as an opportunity to grab more land in the West Bank. At the weekend Abbas reiterated his refusal to accept a temporary arrangement.
 
Herb Keinon, an analyst for the rightwing Jerusalem Post, observed that there was “little expectation” from Netanyahu that the Palestinians would accept his deal. The government hoped instead, he said, that it would “pre-empt world recognition of a Palestinian state” inside the 1967 borders.
 
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.
 

President Barack Obama on Monday announced the lifting of a 25-month stay on new military trials at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison camp, effectively repudiating his post-inauguration pledge to close the infamous facility.

In a White House announcement, Obama said he had ordered the Defense Department to lift the order, issued on the first full day of his administration over two years ago, suspending the filing of new charges in the military commissions at the camp. Obama at the time presented the order as the first step in shutting the facility within a year.

Administration officials said new charges against some of the 172 detainees remaining at the prison would be filed within days or weeks.

Obama also signed an executive order establishing a process to hold some Guantanamo detainees indefinitely without charge or trial, a further assault on the principle of habeas corpus and step in the direction of a police state. The US government considers that some of those being held—having been seized in various places around the world and imprisoned for nearly a decade without any legal recourse—cannot be tried even by the drumhead military commissions because they have been tortured or held on the basis of “evidence” elicited through the torture of others.

There are no doubt others among the prisoners whose testimony could embarrass the government by revealing the complicity of US intelligence agencies with Al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits.

Obama said his actions “broaden our ability to bring terrorists to justice, provide oversight for our actions and ensure the humane treatment of the detainees.” The administration claims that new procedures for the military commissions bring them more in line with international laws and standards. However, they deny basic due process protections, even when compared to the regular military court martial process.

All of those being held as prisoners in the “war in terror,” moreover, are denied the basic protections granted to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement Monday declaring: “The executive order issued by the president today strengthens the legal framework under which we will continue to detain those individuals who are at war with our country and who pose a significant threat to the security of the United States.”

Holder said the administration would continue to seek to try some of the Guantanamo prisoners in civilian criminal courts, and criticized Congress for passing a law late last year restricting the ability of the administration to transfer terrorism suspects to the United States from Guantanamo for trial. That action blocked the administration from proceeding with plans to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court on the US mainland.

Holder also said the White House remains committed to closing Guantanamo, but just last week he told a congressional panel that he did not know if the administration would be able to close the facility by the end of Obama’s first term.

The executive order signed by Obama Monday seeks to provide a fig leaf of legality to the unconstitutional indefinite detention of prisoners. It sets out rules requiring a review of all Guantanamo detainees’ status within a year, and every three years thereafter, to determine whether they remain a threat.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Human Rights First all criticized Obama’s announcement for institutionalizing the indefinite detention of people who have never been formally charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime.

The Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement, “The creation of a review process that will take up to a year—designed to be repeated every four years—is a tacit acknowledgment that the Obama administration intends to leave Guantanamo as a scheme for unlawful detention without charge and trial for future presidents to clean up…”

Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, said, “This is a step down the road toward institutionalizing a preventive detention regime.”

Congressional Republicans praised Obama’s action. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Howard McKeon of California, welcomed the revival of the military commissions. McKeon said he was “pleased” that the president had “reversed his earlier decision and will restart military commissions at Gunatanamo.”

Obama’s continuation of the Bush-era military commissions and maintenance of the Guantanamo gulag is of a piece with his continuation and escalation of Bush’s war policies. Obama won election by appealing to anti-war sentiment and opposition to torture and other criminal methods. He has, however, continued the occupation of Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while continuing and expanding the anti-democratic policies of his predecessor.

The Obama administration has refused to prosecute a single Bush administration official for employing lies to invade Iraq and engaging in torture, abductions and the use of secret prisons. Obama has continued the practice of rendition to kidnap alleged terrorists and transfer them to other countries to be tortured, used the claim of “state secrets” to block victims of rendition and torture from going to court, upheld the right of the president to declare people “enemy combatants” and unilaterally condemn them to indefinite detention in military jails, and even signed an order to assassinate an American citizen.

Just five days before Obama announced the revival of military commissions at Guantanamo, his administration sanctioned the filing of 22 new charges against alleged WikiLeaks source Private Bradley Manning, including the capital charge of “aiding the enemy.” The administration is threatening to execute the 23-year-old soldier for the “crime” of helping to expose US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and American diplomatic conspiracies around the world.

Violent Crackdown on Iraqi Opposition

March 9th, 2011 by Patrick Martin

Dozens of armed police shut down the Baghdad offices of two opposition political parties Sunday, in the latest demonstration of the dictatorial reality of US-occupied Iraq’s nominally “democratic” government.

Officials of the Iraqi Nation Party and the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) said that their offices had been seized two days after tens of thousands turned out in anti-government demonstrations that met with violent repression from the security forces of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The Iraqi cabinet denied that it was outlawing the two parties, claiming instead that the buildings were state property and had been taken because the Ministry of Defense was “in need of these buildings now.”

A senior leader of the Iraqi Nation Party, Mithal al-Alusi, told the New York Times that officials of Maliki’s Dawa Party had spoken to him before the March 4 protests and asked him to throw his support behind the government. He said that the seizure of the offices was an act of retaliation for this refusal.

The action against the ICP and Iraqi Nation Party is part of an ongoing wave of political repression in Iraq, conducted both by the Maliki government and its principal coalition partners, the two Kurdish parties who jointly control the regional government in Kurdistan.

Journalists covering an anti-government protest March 4 in Basra, in southern Iraq, were seized and beaten by police.

Gunman in military uniforms raided an independent radio station in the Kurdish town of Kalar. The station’s director, Azad Othman, told the Associated Press the volunteer station had been reporting extensively on demonstrations in Sulaimaniyah against the two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

These attacks follow nationwide raids the previous Sunday, in which Iraqi police detained 300 people, mainly journalists, artists, lawyers and other intellectuals who were taking part in the ongoing protests, held for the last several Fridays in imitation of the huge Egyptian demonstrations that forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

The protesters have focused their actions on Baghdad’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, in honor of the square of the same name in the center of Cairo.

The protests on Friday, February 25, were among the largest in the Arab world, and a total of 29 people were killed, shot to death by security forces in at least eight cities, including Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit.

As the Washington Post described the protests: “Witnesses in Baghdad and as far north as Kirkuk described watching last week as security forces in black uniforms, tracksuits and T-shirts roared up in trucks and Humvees, attacked protesters, rounded up others from cafes and homes and hauled them off, blindfolded, to army detention centers. Entire neighborhoods—primarily Sunni Muslim areas where residents are generally opposed to Maliki, a Shiite—were blockaded to prevent residents from joining the demonstrations. Journalists were beaten.”

The Post quoted human rights activist Salam Mohammed al-Segar, one of those beaten during a sit-in, declaring, “Maliki is starting to act like Saddam Hussein, to use the same fear, to plant it inside Iraqis who criticize him. The US must feel embarrassed right now—it is they who promised a modern state, a democratic state. But in reality?”

The repression was so flagrant that the Obama administration felt obliged to issue a statement describing US officials as “deeply troubled.” Maliki defended the actions of the security forces, blaming the victims and claiming they were former supporters of Saddam Hussein.

Anti-government demonstrations continued Monday, March 7, on a smaller scale, and thousands took to the streets of Baghdad, Fallujah and Sulaimaniyah in what they called a “Day of Regret,” to mark the first anniversary of the Iraqi elections that left a badly divided parliament. Despite finishing second in the number of seats in parliament, Maliki was able to cobble together a coalition of Shiite and Kurdish parties and remain in office.

The criticism of Maliki by the Obama administration and by US newspapers like the Times and the Post reveals mounting tension between the Iraqi puppet regime and its American overlord. Washington has long regarded Maliki as too close to Iran, and sought to insure the inclusion of former prime minister Iyyad Allawi, a long-time CIA asset, in the new government.

Allawi’s Iraqiya Party, which drew its main support in the Sunni-populated areas, won the largest number of seats in parliament, 91 to Maliki’s 89, but has been shut out of any significant political role and is now beginning to break apart. Eight members of Iraqiya quit the party this week and announced they were forming a new parliamentary bloc.

Allawi himself declared last week that he would not accept a largely ceremonial position as head of a national security council that would have little power. He told a press conference March 3 that he was declining the post “because of a lack of commitment to national partnership.”

The press conference raised eyebrows because it was held in Najaf, the Shiite holy city, and Allawi appeared side by side with Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of a Shiite-based movement that clashed repeatedly with the US occupation, only to line up behind Maliki in last year’s parliamentary maneuvering.

Both Allawi and Al-Sadr criticized the growing concentration of power in the hands of Maliki, particularly in the wake of a court ruling that gave the prime minister power to place his nominees in control of Iraq’s central bank, the human rights committee, and many other agencies.

Beyond the factional interests of Maliki’s bourgeois opponents, however, there is indisputable evidence of a turn to mass repression on the part of the regime that was created by the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

A report issued by the US-based Human Rights Watch February 21 found that “human rights abuses are commonplace” in Iraq. “Eight years after the US invasion, life in Iraq is actually getting worse for women and minorities, while journalists and detainees face significant rights violations,” the organization declared. “Today, Iraq is at a crossroads—either it embraces due process and human rights or it risks reverting to a police state.”

Despite widespread reports of systematic torture by Iraqi police interrogators, the report said, US military authorities routinely transfer detainees to Iraqi prisons where they know they will be abused, the report said.

Human Rights Watch singled out a severe retrogression in the status of women and girls, who under the secular dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party were “relatively better protected than other countries in the region.” Forced marriages, forced prostitution, domestic abuse and sexual abuse have all risen sharply in the years since the US invasion.

The report also pointed to mounting attacks on what it called “marginalized groups,” including religious minorities like Sabian Mandaeans, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, and Yazidis, as well abuse and discrimination against the tens of thousands of amputees and others disabled by war, civil war and terrorist attacks.

(1) If the rich paid their fair share in taxes and if corporate loopholes were closed, the Wisconsin deficit would disappear overnight. The rich and the corporations have consistently lobbied to keep their taxes low. And by providing generous political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, they have succeeded.

(2) During the past three decades inequalities in wealth have shot off the charts. They are now greater than ever before in U.S. history, because of a massive transfer of wealth from working people to the wealthy. This is in part because the rich and the corporations have succeeded in lowering their taxes and eliminating regulations on their businesses, in part because fewer workers are unionized, and in part because jobs have migrated overseas or have been wiped out by technology.

But these growing inequalities are undermining the U.S. economy. The corporations are sitting on record profits, but they are not hiring because there is little demand for their products. When the rich monopolize the vast majority of society’s wealth, working people are left struggling to make ends meet and curtailing their purchases.

If the Wisconsin public workers make concessions, the inequalities in wealth will be increased, crippling the economy even more. And capitulation will invite more attacks. Public workers in other states will be told they are making too much. And once all the public sector workers suffer defeat, then the private sector workers will be targeted once again on the grounds that they make more than public sector workers. It will be a race to the bottom, and the inequalities in wealth will further accelerate because the rich will assure you that they can never have enough.

(3) We can wage a stronger battle in Wisconsin if we refuse to accept concessions.

At the outset of the struggle, many Wisconsin union officials signaled that they were prepared to accept concessions, which are being demanded in many states by Democrats and Republicans alike. But when Wisconsin public workers themselves were interviewed, one after another rejected the concessions. They know better than anyone that the concessions are not affordable, especially when they come on the heels of earlier concessions they felt compelled to accept.

Then the National Nurses Union came to the defense of the public workers by demanding no concessions. They organized a strategy meeting in Madison on this basis. And when Michael Moore addressed the crowd on March 5 in Madison and implied there should be no concessions, the huge crowd roared its approval.

So the question of concessions has introduced a wedge between the union officials on the one hand and many of the public workers and their supporters on the other hand. Removing this wedge will result in a much stronger movement.

But even more, what public worker would want to throw him or herself entirely into a struggle for a 10 – 15 percent reduction in pay and benefits?

(4) The union officials would say in their defense that according to polls taken in Wisconsin before the battle began, the public supported concessions for Wisconsin workers. But a more recent New York Times/CBS poll reported that 56 percent of Americans now reject imposing cuts on public workers. Union officials must not make a fetish of polls, because public opinion can change rapidly. Once Wisconsin workers started putting up a fight, it changed everything. They caught the public’s attention. And the Wisconsin firefighters’ strong support of their public sector coworkers made an impact, because the firefighters were not facing the same threat of cuts.

Ordinary people get it immediately when presented with the facts about the growing inequalities in wealth, the ever-decreasing taxes on the rich and the corporations, and the increasingly difficult struggle of working people to maintain a dignified standard of living. Instead of capitulating to the polls, unions must launch their own offensive, stand up for what is right, educate the public by purchasing one-page ads in Wisconsin newspapers across the state, lay out all the facts clearly, and then let the people of Wisconsin make an informed decision. Union officials must not abandon public opinion to the corporate-owned media.

United we can win!

The Tragic Failure of “Post-Communism” in Eastern Europe

March 8th, 2011 by Dr. Rossen Vassilev

Just before Christmas Day in 2010, a distraught public-television engineer protesting the government’s controversial economic policies hurled himself off a balcony in the Rumanian parliament during a speech by the country’s prime minister. The man, who survived the suicide attempt, reportedly shouted before jumping: “You took the bread away from the mouths of our children! You killed the future of our children!” The hospitalized protester, dressed in a t-shirt declaring “You have killed our future!”, was later identified as 41-year-old Adrian Sobaru, whose autistic teenage son had recently lost government assistance as part of Bucharest’s latest budget-cutting steps. His attempted suicide was broadcast live on Rumania’s public TV as Prime Minister Emil Boc spoke ahead of an unsuccessful no-confidence vote against his conservative cabinet. The fiscal and wage austerity measures that Mr. Sobaru was protesting included a 25% pay cut for all civil servants like him as well as severe reductions in social-assistance payments to parents with disabled children, which he had also been receiving until recently. According to Rumania’s Agerpres news agency, the man’s desperate cries in the parliamentary hall were painfully echoing those heard during the 1989 anti-Communist revolution that toppled Rumania’s maverick and generally pro-Western regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu.

Economic turmoil

Mr. Sobaru’s tragic leap, later telecast all over the world, struck a sympathetic chord with many Rumanians who saw it as a symbol of the savage inequities and injustices of the post-Communist period. Rumania is mired in a severe recession and its battered economy is expected to decline by at least 2% in 2010, after contracting by 7.1% the previous year. Instead of trying to assist the unemployed and the socially weak, the Bucharest government, which is reportedly riddled with corruption, cronyism and nepotism, has slashed public-sector pay by one-quarter and trimmed all social expenditures, including heating subsidies for the poor as well as unemployment, maternity, and disability benefits. At the same time, the national sales tax was hiked from 19% to 24%, as the authorities are striving to hold the national deficit down to 6.8% in order to meet the stringent fiscal requirements of the European Union (EU), which Rumania had joined in January 2007.

These harsh austerity policies have angered millions of Rumanians who are barely making ends meet in a nation where the average monthly per capita income is about $400. Angry street protests that have gathered tens of thousands of Rumanians reflect the deep dissatisfaction with mass poverty and the continuing economic crisis, which took Rumania to the edge of bankruptcy. “This isn’t capitalism, in capitalist countries you have a middle class,” one Bucharest-based convenience store manager told an Associated Press reporter. But Rumanian society, she complained, is divided between a tiny minority of very rich people and a vast impoverished underclass.[1]

While the human tragedy witnessed in the Rumanian Parliament on that pre-Christmas day is quite symptomatic of the Balkan country’s pervasive misery and crushed hopes for a better life, it could have easily taken place in any other of the crisis nations of the ex-Communist world who are equally suffering from high unemployment, massive poverty, declining wages, and severe cuts in public spending and living standards. At about the time of Mr. Sobaru’s desperate suicide attempt, many of the Czech Republic’s 20,000 hospital doctors were quitting their jobs en masse to protest the decision of Prime Minister Petr Necas’s cabinet to cut all public expenditures, including healthcare spending, by at least 10% in order to keep the country’s troubled finances afloat. These mass resignations were part of the “Thanks, We Are Leaving” campaign launched by disgruntled physicians across the country aimed at putting pressure on the Prague authorities to increase their low wages and provide better working conditions for all medical workers. Confronted with the worst healthcare crisis in the ex-Communist country’s history which was endangering the lives of many patients, the Czech government threatened to impose a state of emergency which would force doctors either to get back to work or face harsh legal and financial penalties.

One may also recall the largely unreported 2009 food riots in Latvia, the much lauded “Baltic miracle” darling of the mainstream Western media, where the deeply unpopular incumbent Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis was re-elected in 2010 despite having severely cut public expenditures and Latvians’ already meager living standards (the election campaign focused instead on the nasty clash between Latvian nationalists and the country’s sizeable and restive Russian-speaking minority). According to Professor Michael Hudson, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, as sharp government cutbacks in social welfare, education, healthcare, public transportation, and other basic social-infrastructure spending threaten to undermine economic security, long-term development, and political stability across the ex-Soviet bloc countries, young people are emigrating in droves to better their lives rather than suffer in an economy without any employment opportunities. For example, more than 12% of the total population of Latvia (and a much larger percentage of its labor force) now works abroad.

When the “neo-liberal bubble” burst in 2008, Professor Hudson writes, Latvia’s conservative government borrowed heavily from the EU and IMF on punishing repayment terms that have imposed such harsh austerity policies that the Latvian economy shrank by 25% (neighboring Estonia and Lithuania have experienced an equally steep economic decline) and unemployment, currently running at 22%, is still rising. With well over a tenth of its population now working abroad, Latvia’s guest-workers send home whatever they can spare to help their destitute families survive. Latvian children (what few of them there are as the Baltic country’s marriage and birth rates are plunging) have been thus “left orphaned behind,” prompting social scientists to wonder how this small nation of 2.3 million people can survive demographically.[2] These are the results of post-Communist austerity budgets that have cut ordinary people off at the knees while international creditors and local bankers are bailed out.

The rise of right-wing populism

The deep economic crisis and rising unemployment throughout the ex-Communist world has brought to power some radical political parties and politicians embracing right-wing nationalist populism. Hungary’s Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Union), an unabashedly right-wing nationalist party, won 52.73% of the vote in the April 2010 parliamentary elections. Jobbik (Movement for Better Hungary), a xenophobic far-right party, came third with 16.67% of votes. In the midst of a disastrous economic slump, the nationalist Right won most of the popular vote by reviving traditional Hungarian scape-goating of ethnic minorities and blaming Jews and Gypsies in particular for the country’s widespread joblessness and poverty. When Oszkár Molnár, a Fidesz leading member elected to the new parliament,  proclaimed: “I love Hungary, I love Hungarians, and I prefer Hungarian interests to global financial capital, or Jewish capital which wants to devour the whole world, but especially Hungary,” he was not even publicly rebuked by any of his party colleagues.

In December 2010, Fidesz’s two-thirds majority in parliament allowed it to push through a draconian media law, which gave the government more freedom to exercise strict control over the private media. This controversial new law triggered demonstrations in the streets of Budapest with many Hungarians carrying empty placards to protest the proposed government censorship. It also drew criticisms in the European Parliament (Hungary became an EU member in May 2004) for being a “threat to press freedom” and a “serious danger to democracy” by providing for huge fines and other legal penalties for media and Internet outlets which dare to publish or broadcast “unbalanced” or “immoral” information, especially one that is critical of the government, in a nation where one in three lives below the poverty line. Critics have complained that Europe’s most restrictive media law will stifle pluralism and turn the clock back on democracy in this former Communist country.

The German press especially has vilified Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán not for only trying to muzzle the local media, but also for seeking a one-party Fidesz rule and turning Hungary into a totalitarian “Führerstaat” (Hungarian commentators have likewise complained of their country’s creeping “Orbánization”). Károly Vörös, chief editor of the Hungarian daily Népszabadság, has complained that the new media law wants to “burn a sense of fear into the souls of journalists” and that Hungary’s “entire constitutional state is systematically dissolving.”[3] But sensing strong public support at home given the ugly anti-capitalist, anti-EU, and anti-American mood of ordinary Hungarians caught in the vortex of globalization, the Berlusconi-like populist Orbán has, as in the past, taken a defiant stand, warning the EU to stop meddling into Hungary’s internal affairs: “It is the EU that should adjust to Hungary, not Hungary to the EU…” (Hungary officially took over the rotating six-month EU presidency on January 1, 2011). But what many Hungarians suspect is that the new media law was just a clever ploy to distract public attention from the country’s dire economic problems.

Another autocratic figure, Boyko Borisov, an ex-national police chief with a shady Communist past and reported ties to the local criminal underworld, governs Bulgaria, which became an EU member in January 2007 despite being the most corrupt and criminalized state in the former Eastern bloc apart from the notoriously mafia-ruled Kosovo (another scandalous candidate for future EU membership hoping to join as early as 2015). The electoral success of the Mussolini-like strongman Borisov and his right-wing GERB (Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria) in the July 2009 election was hardly surprising in a country whose plight has become the most emblematic of the region’s aberrant post-Communist trajectory and current malady of discontent. By nearly every macroeconomic indicator, Bulgaria is in a worse shape now than in the Communist past.

Official statistics show that both the annual gross national product (GNP) and the per capita income of the population have plummeted, the social-safety net has disintegrated, and even the physical survival of many impoverished Bulgarians is in peril. The immediate effects of market-oriented “reforms” have been the destruction of Bulgaria’s industry and agriculture, unemployment, inflation, flagrant inequality of incomes, crushing poverty, and even malnutrition. Organized crime and endemic corruption in the form of nepotism and cronyism, graft on the job, embezzlement, bribe-taking, influence-peddling, smuggling, protection rackets, illegal gambling, prostitution and pornography rings have exacted a heavy toll on post-Communist living standards and livelihoods. Another unfortunate effect is the widespread neglect of the economic and social rights of ordinary Bulgarians, for many of whom the 8-hour work day is now only a memory.

The disastrous economic environment has in turn generated a rather volatile and unpredictable political climate. No cabinet government elected during the stormy post-Communist period has survived in office for more than one term (and often even less than that). This volatility illustrates the unstable and unpredictable nature of politics in Bulgaria due to the catastrophic economic situation and the glaring inability of the existing party elites to offer a credible solution to it. Fed up with economic decline, government neglect, high-end thievery, rampant crime and corruption, Bulgarians have time and again cast protest votes against the stranglehold on power by incompetent, self-serving, corrupt, and criminalized cliques of party politicians pursuing personal gain. But the end of their misery seems far from sight, especially as Borisov’s cabinet has now imposed a draconian austerity budget, cutting no less than 20% of all public spending.

At the same time, politics has become by far the most profitable business—more profitable and also much less risky than any profit-making business activity. This has transformed the political parties into something akin to shark-like business corporations—well-organized coteries of unprincipled and predatory rent-seekers aspiring to take over the reigns of power in order to enrich themselves by exploiting the lethargic, cattle-like populace and plundering Bulgaria’s resources, especially now that the country can count on receiving substantial amounts of foreign aid and investment from the EU. Powerful economic interests of often criminal origin have lined up behind and financed each of the major political parties, adding strongly plutocratic elements to what is essentially a kleptocratic, mafia-like oligarchy. That is why ordinary people see no difference between their corruption-riddled government and Bulgaria’s well-organized criminal syndicates. Not surprisingly, Bulgarians tend to refer to their country as a “mafia state,” a “banana republic,” a “circus,” and “Absurd-istan.” They are still awaiting the long-promised arrival of “normal” capitalism and “normal” democracy where personal economic security, livable wages, and decent living standards will replace today’s high unemployment, abject poverty, homelessness, and social despondency. About 1.2 million Bulgarians (16% of the population), mostly young people, have already voted with their feet by seeking greener pastures abroad (poverty-driven emigration has helped reduce post-Communist Bulgaria’s population from close to 9 million in 1989 to around 7 million today).

Collapse of popular support

Soon after the fall of Communism, the former Soviet-bloc countries and other regional ex-Communist states were economically neo-liberalized (quite a few of them were also territorially dismembered) and, except for small pro-Western local elites who made out like bandits, their populations became Third-World poor. Nearly all of these twenty-eight Eurasian countries have experienced a long-term economic decline of catastrophic proportions (only Poland has thus far surpassed its Communist-era GDP). Grave economic setbacks, deep-rooted corruption, and widespread popular frustration with the hardships and deprivations of the seemingly endless post-Communist transition are undermining the prestige of the new authorities and even the population’s belief in Western-style democracy and market-based capitalism. A new breed of rapacious and ruthless plutocrats with insatiable appetites for wealth and power has pillaged—through an unjust and corrupt process of privatization—the assets of the formerly state-owned economy and has recreated at home the worst excesses of 19th-century Dickensian capitalism, as if the social progress of the 20th century had never existed. In the midst of widespread joblessness, penury, malnutrition and even hunger, multimillion-dollar private mansions have sprung up in all major cities as palace-like symbols of ill-gotten gains and of unattainable wealth for ordinary people who are struggling just to find jobs, pay daily bills, and find affordable housing. This “new class” of politically-connected nouveau riche with luxurious La Dolce vita lifestyles seems to be prepared to commit any crime in the interests of profit and quick self-enrichment, operating according to King Louis XV’s principle “Après moi, le déluge”and dashing everywhere people’s hopes for improving their lot and modernizing their country along the lines of a “civilized” nation. The only business flourishing in many of the region’s “emerging economies” seems to be organized crime which is usually run by kleptocrats inside the ruling circles.

While this parasitic layer of “new rich” oligarchs is getting richer by the day—in part by evading taxation under the newly adopted system of highly regressive “flat tax” laws—the citizens of the ex-Communist nations now have to pay out of their own pockets for all previously free, government-provided medical services even though they also have to pay income, real-estate, and sales taxes—something they did not have to do under the Communist regimes. There is also the monetization and/or privatization of the previously free educational services, especially in higher education and the new private schools, colleges, and universities where students have to pay for their training, including many fees that each student must pay for taking entrance exams and other mandatory tests required at every level of schooling. Government subsidies for everything from healthcare, education, and legal representation to housing, energy, and public transportation are disappearing in the scramble to slash social spending and trim budget deficits, making it even harder for ordinary people to survive in their daily struggle for existence. The region has become a testing ground to see to what extent workers can be deprived of their social and economic rights, such as a legally-set minimum wage, paid vacations, free and universal access to healthcare, education and legal services, retirement at the age of 60 for men and 55 for women, or even unionization. But despite soaring unemployment and underemployment rates, the iron discipline of the marketplace, and the lack of social welfare or even of most rudimentary social solidarity, the old Communist-era joke “They (the employers) pretend to pay us, we (the employees) pretend to work” seems to be far truer today than it ever was under Communism. For people do not feel like working any harder now for the new private (and often foreign) business owners who seem to be interested only in squeezing as much profit from them for as little pay and as few benefits as possible. At the same time, public education and the sciences, as well as the arts and cultural institutions are all being gutted in the name of saving the “taxpayers’ money” (for example, the national academy of sciences has been closed or is about to be closed in a number of the transition countries).

In these crisis-ridden nations where living standards have seriously deteriorated as unemployment, poverty, pauperism, criminality, as well as alcohol and drug abuse are spreading, along with unaffordable prices for basics like food, housing and fuel, public satisfaction with how the government is actually performing is minimal almost everywhere. And where there is a large discrepancy between popular expectations and government performance in terms of providing necessary public goods and services, as in nearly all post-Communist countries, adherence to democratic attitudes gradually erodes over time. Underperforming regimes which fail to meet public aspirations over long periods of time can lose their legitimacy, risking systemic crisis and instability (e.g., the paradigmatic case of Weimar Germany). Given their appalling living and working conditions, many post-Communist citizens are losing their long-held belief in Western-style capitalism and liberal democracy. Many are also rejecting the very idea that their ex-Communist countries are indeed democratic. The population’s negative perceptions of performance thus cannot but affect democratic attitudes (how the value of democracy is perceived) and hence the so-called “democratic deficit” is statistically quite substantial across the entire region. The local governing elites are slowly losing their legitimacy to rule.

As a result, public protests and social unrest are common, including the dozen or so controversial “color” revolutions—both successful and unsuccessful depending on the extent of Western support for them—against popularly-elected but often deeply unpopular governments. In January 2011, for example, several protesters were shot dead and 150 were wounded during an anti-government demonstration in the Albanian capital Tirana. Albania’s conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha vowed that he would not allow the toppling of his government, but the opposition has held new demonstrations in Tirana and other Albanian cities and has promised to stage even more protests in the future. Supporters of the opposition Socialist Party blame the authorities for widespread financial wrong-doing, pandemic crime and corruption, the run-down economy, and the glaring lack of basic public utilities. They also demand the holding of new elections, accusing the government of massive vote-rigging during the disputed 2009 election which Berisha’s ruling Democrats won by a tiny margin. Tensions further escalated when Berisha publicly accused his Socialist opponents of attempting a “Tunisia-style uprising,” a reference to the recent bloody overthrow of Tunisia’s dictatorial president in which scores were killed.  Similar anti-government protests are held regularly in post-Soviet Georgia in spite of the efforts of the “democratic” authorities to crush all dissent. The disgruntled opposition blames Georgia’s strongman Mikheil Saakashvili for the disastrous 2008 war with Russia and for the country’s sinking fortunes. “The overwhelming majority of the population is on the brink of poverty. Nothing is working in Georgia except for the police state,“ Lasha Chkhartishvili of the opposition Conservative Party told visiting foreign journalists in February 2011 during anti-Saakashvili demonstrations around the parliament building in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. “Saakashvili’s dictatorial regime is bound to collapse because there is an end to people’s patience.“[4]

For the moment, all eyes are on the Muslim world and on the degree to which the pro-democracy efforts of the Arab nations are transforming politics throughout the Greater Middle East. But the tinder for such uprisings exists almost everywhere, especially in the post-Communist parts of the world. Simmering unrest to protest poverty, joblessness, and endemic official thievery after more than 20 years of incompetent, corrupt  and deceitful post-Communist governance—combined with the disastrous laissez faire economic experiment across the entire former Soviet bloc—has produced a region-wide instability, where the survival of some West-backed regimes appears increasingly at risk. This is confirmed by unprecedented informal speculation strongly reminiscent of the period before the downfall of Communism—such as many readers’ comments in the local media forums, for example—about the instability and reversibility of the new post-Communist order and its possible replacement by Latin American-style “revolutionary democracy.” This sense of regime insecurity and fragility has been reinforced by the wave of Communist nostalgia sweeping many ex-Communist nations.

Communist nostalgia

There is a great disillusionment with the failed promises of the 1989 revolutions, which have brought a rapid decline in living standards for the majority of former Communist citizens. The widespread exasperation with the impoverishment, corruption, street crime and general social chaos that have accompanied the transition to market-oriented capitalism and Western-style democracy has produced a growing nostalgia for the Communist past among many ordinary people (who are not part of their countries’ new cosmopolitan and pro-Western elites), as they look back with increasing fondness to the “good old times” of Communism—a disturbing trend across the region popularly known as the “Soviet chic.”

According to the recently published Rumanian Evaluation and Strategy Survey, 45% of Rumanians believe they would have lived better if the anti-Communist revolution had not occurred at all. After twenty-one years of turbulent post-Communist life, 61% of the survey participants said they currently live under much worse conditions than they did under Ceauşescu, while only 24% said they are better off now. If these survey results are to be believed (the poll was taken in late 2010 from a sample of 1,476 adults and has an error margin of plus/minus 2.7%), Ceauşescu has turned into a martyr figure that most Rumanians are very sympathetic to. At least 84% of the respondents believe it was a bad thing that he was executed without a fair public trial and 60% even regret his death.[5] According to another recent survey, 59% of Rumanians consider Communism to be a good idea. Some 44% of the respondents think this good idea was poorly applied, while only 15% think it was applied correctly. Just 29% of Rumanians still view Communism as a bad idea. There are no significant differences between men and women with regard to this question, but positive views about Communism are related to age and place of residence. A majority of those older than 40 consider Communism a good idea (including 74% of those older than 60, and 64% of those aged 40-59). But only a minority does so among the younger generation who do not even remember the Ceauşescu regime (49% of those aged 20-39, and just 31% of those younger than 20). Rural respondents have a more positive view—only 21% of them consider Communism a bad idea, compared to 34% of urban respondents.[6] And many Rumanians remember with longing the days when most of them had a steady job, inexpensive state-provided housing, free healthcare, and government-subsidized holidays on the Black Sea coast. “I regret the demise of Communism—not for me, but when I see how much my children and grandchildren struggle,” said a 68-year-old retired mechanic. “We had safe jobs and decent salaries under Communism. We had enough to eat and we had yearly vacations with our children.”[7]

The “Soviet chic” is especially popular among the residents of former East Germany where it is known as “Ostalgie.”[8] According to an article in the conservative German magazine Der Spiegel, “Glorification of the German Democratic Republic is on the rise two decades after the Berlin Wall fell. Young people and the better-off are among those rebuffing criticism of East Germany being an illegitimate state.”  In a recent poll cited by Der Spiegel, more than half (57%) of ex-East Germans defended the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). “The GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there,” claimed 49% of those polled. Eight percent of East Germans flatly rejected any criticism of their former homeland or agreed with the statement that “The GDR had, for the most part, good sides. Life there was happier and better than in reunified Germany today.” These poll results which were released on the 20th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall reveal that nostalgia for former East Germany has reached deep into the hearts of many ex-East Germans. It is no longer merely the nostalgic older people who mourn the loss of the GDR. “A new form of Ostalgie has taken shape,” historian Stefan Wolle is quoted as saying. “The yearning for the ideal world of the dictatorship goes well beyond former government officials,” complains Wolle. “Even young people who had almost no experience with the GDR are idealizing it today.”[9]

“Not even half of young people in eastern Germany describe the GDR as a dictatorship, and a majority believe the Stasi was a normal intelligence service,” political scientist Klaus Schroeder, director of a research institute at Berlin’s Free University that studies the former communist state, concluded in a 2008 study of eastern Germany’s youth. “These young people cannot—and in fact have no desire to—recognize the dark sides of the GDR.” Schroeder’s own research gives a shocking insight into the thoughts of many disaffected ex-GDR citizens. “From today’s perspective, I believe that we were driven out of paradise when the Wall came down,” an East German is quoted as saying, while another, a 38-year-old man, thanked God that he had lived in the GDR, because it was not until after German reunification that he saw for the first time in his life homeless people, beggars, and impoverished people who fear for their survival. Today’s Germany is described by many ex-East Germans as a “slave state” and a “capitalist dictatorship,” while some totally reject reunified Germany for being, in their opinion, too capitalist and too dictatorial, and certainly not democratic. Schroeder finds such statements alarming: “I am afraid that a majority of East Germans do not identify with the current sociopolitical system.” According to another ex-East German citizen quoted in the same Der Spiegel article, “In the past, a campground was a place where people enjoyed their freedom together.” And what he misses most today is “that feeling of companionship and solidarity.” His verdict on the GDR is clear: “As far as I’m concerned, what we had in those days was less of a dictatorship than what we have today.” Not only does he want to see again the GDR’s equal wages and equal pensions, but he also complains that people cheat and lie everywhere in unified Germany, and that today’s injustices are simply perpetrated in a more devious way than in the GDR, where starvation wages and street crime were totally unknown.[10]

In reaction to the region-wide spread of Communist nostalgia and also to changes in the domestic climate of opinion where the last Polish Communist leader, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, is far more popular than the formerly revered but now marginalized anti-Communist icon—the ex-Solidarity trade-union chief, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and later president Lech Walesa—Poland’s fervent anti-Communists have revised the criminal code to include an official ban on all symbols of Communism. Under the new law worthy of the medieval Catholic Inquisition, Poles can now be fined and imprisoned if they are caught singing the “International,” for example, or if they carry a red flag, a red star or hammer-and-sickle insignia, and other Communist-era symbols, or even wear a Che Guevara t-shirt. Likewise, the conservative Czech government is trying to outlaw the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (even though the latter won over 11% of the popular vote in the last parliamentary election of May 2010 and is represented in both houses of the national parliament) ostensibly because its leadership refuses to remove the sacrilegious word “Communist” from the party’s name. Several ex-Communist EU members have recently urged Brussels to push for an EU-wide ban on downplaying or denying the crimes of the old Communist regimes. “The principle of justice should assure a just treatment for the victims of every totalitarian regime,” the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Rumania wrote in a letter to the EU justice commissioner, in which they insisted that “public condoning, denial, and gross trivialization of totalitarian crimes” should be criminalized in every EU country. At the instigation of anti-Communist deputies from the post-Communist countries, the European Parliament has already passed a controversial resolution on “totalitarianism” which equates Communism with Nazism and fascism. But all such punitive measures have hardly curbed the epidemic of Communist nostalgia: the most popular t-shirt among eastern Berliners today is one declaring “Give me back my Wall. And this time make it two meters higher!”

Are the ex-Communist countries next?

With the attention of Western governments and publics now focused on the tumultuous tensions and conflicts in the Arab world, people tend to ignore or forget the crises gripping the ex-Communist nations. Given the rampant inequality, immiseration, government corruption, and organized crime that have characterized the post-Communist order, the situation in these formerly Communist lands is no less combustible than in North Africa and the Middle East, and one of these days it could turn out to be far shakier than is now imagined. Is Tunisia, Egypt or even Libya a likely future scenario for this troubled region?

For now, the long-suffering but very patient citizens of these transition countries are clenching their teeth in the hope that the very next election will bring to power a messianic savior on a white horse who—along with far more generous assistance from the West’s supposedly bottomless pockets—will at long last extricate their bankrupt, poverty-stricken societies from the abyss into which they have fallen. Ordinary people in the post-Communist part of the world believe that their democratic revolutions and high expectations have been betrayed, hijacked or stolen by various “dark forces,” ranging from the ex-Communist elites who have now replaced their former political power with money power, to a corrupt alliance (in the vision of many native leftists) between ambitious local pseudo-“democrats” and greedy Western capitalists, and finally, to an insidious conspiracy involving the IMF, the World Bank, the Soros Foundation, and “international Jewish finance” (usually in the eyes of the nationalist far-right). As Sir Robert Chiltern quips in Oscar Wilde’s witty comedy An Ideal Husband, “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”

Only time will tell if the answered prayers of the ex-Communist nations will ultimately prove to be a punishment from above. On the other hand, it may open up new vistas for these struggling nations to resist the crushing power of international banks and multinational corporations by adopting progressive reforms aimed at creating a democratic world order not controlled by the overlords of globalization and the local comprador elites that serve them.

Notes

[1] George Jahn, “In Romania, Turmoil Fuels Nostalgia for Communism,” Washington Post, January 11, 2011.
[2] Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers, “Latvia Provides No Magic Solution for Indebted Economies,” Guardian.co.uk, December 20, 2010.
[3] “There’s More at Stake than Just Freedom of the Press,” Der Spiegel International, January 19, 2011.
[4] “Saakashvili Has Turned Georgia into A Police State,” Interfax, February 11, 2011.
[5] “45% of Romanians Say ‘Ceauşescu, Please Forgive Us for Being Drunk in December (1989)’,” Bucharest Herald, December 29, 2010.
[6] The results of this survey conducted among a representative sample of Rumanians between 22 October and 1 November 2010 were released by the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of Romanian Exiles at http://www.crimelecomunismului.ro/en/about_iiccr.
[7] Jahn, “In Romania, Turmoil Fuels Nostalgia for Communism.”
[8] “Ostalgie” is derived from the German words Ost (east) and Nostalgie (nostalgia) and refers to the widespread sense of longing for many aspects of life in the former German Democratic Republic.
[9] Julia Bonstein, “Majority of East Germans Feel Life Better under Communism,” Der Spiegel International, July 3, 2009.
[10] Ibid. The British Guardian marked the 20th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall with an article by an ex-East German academic who similarly lamented the demise of the GDR which, she claimed, offered “social and gender equality, full employment and lack of existential fears, as well as subsidized rents.” According to her, unification has “brought social breakdown, widespread unemployment, blacklisting, a crass materialism and an ‘elbow society’….” See Bruni de la Motte, “East Germans Lost Much in 1989: For Many in the GDR the Fall of the Berlin Wall and Unification Meant the Loss of Jobs, Homes, Security and Equality,” Guardian.co.uk, November 8, 2009.

Guantanamo Show Trials Re-Started

March 8th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

Obama is re-starting the trials of Guantanamo inmates, including the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

I have no idea whether or not Mr. Mohammed is a terrorist whose actions killed innocent Americans. If he is, I hope he is convicted and put to death. 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) raised serious doubts in Time Magazine about Mohammed being the 9/11 mastermind. But his innocence or guilt is beyond the scope of this essay.

What I am against is convicting this guy without due process of law under the United States constitution.

Show Trials

The trials will be held in Guantanamo, which is a huge step backwards. Obama had agreed to try suspects in American courts, which would thus follow the Constitution and the rule of law.

Indeed, the town of Hardin, Montana requested that 100 Gitmo detainees be sent to its empty prison, and Congressman Jim Moran said that detainees could be tried in his Alexandria, Virginia district. So there was willingness by Americans to hold the Guantanamo inmate trials here.

Instead, we appear to be to Guantanamo “show trials”.

Specifically, as of 2008, the former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo’s military commissions disclosed that the trials have been rigged to prevent the possibility of acquittal. Specifically, the head of the Guantanamo tribunal — who is actually in charge of both prosecuting and defending the suspects — told the former chief prosecutor:

Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions.

In addition, three other Guantanamo prosecutors — Maj. Robert Preston, Capt. John Carr and Capt. Carrie Wolf — “asked to be relieved of duties after saying they were concerned that the process was rigged. One said he had been assured he didn’t need to worry about building a proper case; convictions were assured.”

The head of the tribunal also said that — even if the defendants are somehow acquitted — they may not be released from Guantanamo.

And MSNBC speculated that the U.S. put a “stun belt” on alleged terrorist Moussaoui during his trial to keep him in line:

No wonder the American Bar Association, “which the Pentagon had said would help arrange such representation, has refused to participate because it objects to the trial procedures.” And no wonder the defense attorneys who have agreed to represent the defendants say that the process is completely unfair. See also this interview.

Torture

Former Congresswoman and prosecutor Liz Holtzman makes a good point:

The criminal justice system identified and convicted some of those involved in the 1993 World Trade Center attacks. By contrast, not one person has been prosecuted for the 9/11 attacks, although seven and a half years have gone by. Even Khalid Sheik Mohammed, one of the masterminds of 9/11, is unlikely ever to be convicted in US courts because he was repeatedly subjected to torture. Significantly, the cruel and torturous methods used on detainees never yielded enough information to capture Osama Bin Laden or his chief deputy. So much for the claims of torture’s efficacy.

Before you protest that we didn’t torture them, please note that the chief lawyer for Guantanamo litigation – Vijay Padmanabhan – said that torture was widespread. And Susan J. Crawford, the senior Pentagon official overseeing the military commissions at Guantánamo — the novel system of trials for terror suspects that was conceived in the wake of the 9/11 attacks — told Bob Woodward:

We tortured Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture.

In fact, the type of torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects is of a special type. Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used torture techniques aimed at extracting false confessions.

McClatchy fills in some of the details:

Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…

For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document…

When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.”Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”

Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

In other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false linkage. See also this and this.

Paul Krugman eloquently summarized the truth about the type of torture used:

Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

There’s a word for this: it’s evil.

The Accused Made Up False Statements to Stop Torture

The Miami Herald ran a story entitled “Alleged 9/11 mastermind: `I make up stories’”, noting:

Accused al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed complained that interrogators tortured lies out of him…

”I make up stories,” Mohammed said …

In broken English, he described an interrogation in which he was asked the location of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

”Where is he? I don’t know,” Mohammed said. ‘Then he torture me. Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area or this is al Qaeda which I don’t know him.’ I said no, they torture me.”

This is not new. It has already been documented that Mohammed confessed to crimes which he could not have committed, and that he said that he gave the interrogators a lot of false information – telling them what he thought they wanted to hear – in an attempt to stop the torture.

Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the Red Cross:

During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told the interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the U.S.

And see this Washington Post report.

The Telegraph also noted:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of 9/11, was waterboarded 183 times in one month, and “confessed” to murdering the journalist Daniel Pearl, which he did not. There could hardly be more compelling evidence that such techniques are neither swift, nor efficient, nor reliable

Dick Cheney claimed that waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed stopped a terror attack on L.A., but as the Chicago Tribune notes:

The Bush administration claimed that the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed helped foil a planned 2002 attack on Los Angeles — forgetting that he wasn’t captured until 2003.

(see this confirmation from the BBC: “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed … was captured in Pakistan in 2003″).

The Other Witness Against Khalid Sheik Mohammed

But a second witness – Abu Zubaida – fingered Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the 9/11 mastermind (Zubaida was subsequently severely tortured for many months. But he initially identified KSM even before being tortured).

So we have independent confirmation that KSM was the chief architect of 9/11, right?

Well, the New Yorker notes week:

The F.B.I.’s point man on the Abu Zubaydah interrogation, Daniel Coleman, had read Zubaydah’s diaries and concluded that he “had a schizophrenic personality.”

Indeed, the Washington Post noted in 2007:

Retired FBI agent Daniel Coleman, who led an examination of documents after Abu Zubaida’s capture in early 2002 and worked on the case, said the CIA’s harsh tactics cast doubt on the credibility of Abu Zubaida’s information.

“I don’t have confidence in anything he says, because once you go down that road, everything you say is tainted,” Coleman said, referring to the harsh measures. “He was talking before they did that to him, but they didn’t believe him. The problem is they didn’t realize he didn’t know all that much.”

***

Abu Zubaida … was a “safehouse keeper” with mental problems who claimed to know more about al-Qaeda and its inner workings than he really did.

***
Looking at other evidence, including a serious head injury that Abu Zubaida had suffered years earlier, Coleman and others at the FBI believed that he had severe mental problems that called his credibility into question. “They all knew he was crazy, and they knew he was always on the damn phone,” Coleman said, referring to al-Qaeda operatives. “You think they’re going to tell him anything?”

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind writes that Coleman advised a top FBI official at the time:

“This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”

Note: Some reports state that at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was killed years ago, and that the U.S. military is really holding someone else.

 

The Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg

March 8th, 2011 by Sheila Rowbotham

George Shriver’s new translation of The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg is the most comprehensive collection of her correspondence yet to appear in English. It transports us directly into the private world of a woman who has never lost her inspirational power as an original thinker and courageous activist in first the Marxist Social Democratic party, and then the German revolutionary group, the Spartacist League. She suffered for her convictions; jail sentences in 1904 and 1906 were followed by three and a half years in prison for opposing the first world war. Her brutal death at the hands of the militaristic Volunteer Corps during the 1919 workers uprising in Berlin has contributed to her mystique: she is revered as the revolutionary who never compromised. This collection of her letters reveals that the woman behind the mythic figure was also a compassionate, teasing, witty human being.

Annelies Laschitza, one of the volume’s editors, observes in her introduction that the revelation in 1956 of Stalin’s purges, along with new waves of activism during the 60s and 70s, reawakened interest in Luxemburg. My generation of left-libertarians did indeed hail Luxemburg’s defiance of Lenin’s “night-watchman spirit”. Against his emphasis on the centralised party, many of us were drawn to Luxemburg’s conviction that workers’ action brought new social and political understandings.

Luxemburg’s criticism of Marxism as dogma and her stress on consciousness exerted an influence on the women’s liberation movement which emerged in the late 60s and early 70s. When I was writing Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World during 1971, I drew on her analysis in The Accumulation of Capital (1913) of capital’s greedy quest for non-capitalist markets, adapting it as a metaphor for the commodification of sexual relations and the body.

The awkward truth, however, was that Luxemburg herself had never identified with the feminist movement of her day. Moreover, she maintained a semi-detached relationship with the socialist women whom her friend Clara Zetkin organised in the Marxist Social Democratic party in Germany. Though she would be profoundly moved when they came to meet her from prison in 1916, and when they filled her flat with precious luxuries such as tea bags, cocoa, flowers and fruitcake, Luxemburg always carefully avoided being categorised as a “woman”. Her resistance was partly strategic; she was determined not to be sidelined within the party. But it was also bound up with her theoretical conviction that class struggle was the key to change, along with a strong aversion to being regarded as a victim.

This recoil was rooted in her own experience. Luxemburg was born into a Jewish family in Poland in 1871; her father was a timber merchant, her mother was descended from a distinguished line of rabbis and scholars. While the Luksenburgs observed Jewish holidays, they sought assimilation; difference was to be denied. Nevertheless antisemitism, endemic in daily life, was sometimes unleashed in terrifying pogroms. As a schoolgirl, the young Rosa could sense her apartness from her classmates, not only because she was a Jew, but because a childhood illness had left her lame. She dressed carefully to conceal her limp and focused intently on books and ideas.

An early inspiration was the 19th-century Romantic writer Adam Mickiewicz, who challenged the oppression of the Polish people and made common cause with Russians defying the tsar. During the 1880s, when Luxemburg was entering adolescence, Polish and Russian women were being imprisoned and executed for their part in the revolutionary underground. Some of these formidable, emancipated women had studied in Zurich. So she was following in illustrious footsteps when she went there in 1889 to begin a zoology degree.

Already involved in socialist politics, she was attracted by a handsome, red-headed Lithuanian – Leo Jogiches. He was a man of action, accustomed to underground secrecy and interested in exercising power. Luxemburg’s letters to him reveal a young woman who is intellectually questing and emotionally demonstrative.

Steeped in the history of the French revolution, she was intrigued by the polarities personified by Robespierre the ascetic and Danton the sybarite. In her letters to Jogiches she encompasses both extremes. She is at once passionate, sensuous, politically dutiful, bantering and acutely perceptive. She showers him with endearments: he is her “golden one”, her “precious”. But she chafes against his withholding of emotion, fears the waning of his desire. Luxemburg knew she bewildered him with her contrary impulses for autonomy and commitment, telling him in July 1897 that she felt “as touchy and skittish as a hare”. When his response was to detach himself, she announced he was making her heart shrink. When he left, she cried.

Their political connection proved to be historically fateful. Jogiches operated easily within the Polish Marxist movement, but recognised that any influence he might have within the upper echelons of the German Social Democrats depended on the brilliant and personable Luxemburg. Braving Berlin in 1898, Luxemburg duly sent Jogiches informative reports on her political contacts with the leading left theorist Karl Kautsky and her agitation among Polish-speaking miners who were on strike in Upper Silesia.

At times she would rail against her tyrannical, patronising mentor, but she also depended on him. She fought him mischievously by writing cameos of the appreciative gallantry she evoked in the men she met in Berlin. And then, on 6 March 1899, she wrote to imagine them living together and buying a bookcase with a glass front. She was 29 and wondering whether she would ever have a child. In letter after letter she struggled to balance engagement in external action with inward reflection.

Luxemburg did not defy the conventions of gender openly, she simply circumnavigated them when it suited her to do so. Her relationship with Jogiches remained ostensibly secret; he was regarded politely by the Social Democrats as her “friend”. It was a startling development when, in 1907, she fell in love with Zetkin’s son Kostia. Luxemburg had known him since his teens and his mother had sent him to be her lodger. He was in his early 20s when they became lovers. “The sight of you gives me such aesthetic pleasure,” she wrote in September 1908, reassuring him that for her the physical and the spiritual were intertwined.

Luxemburg’s role as an international revolutionary figure took her to places from which women of her class were usually barred. Sitting alone in the Three Nuns in Whitechapel at the start of the Russian Social Democratic Labour party congress in May 1907, she snatches a moment to write to Zetkin. She relates how two women opposite her are joined by a constant stream of men. Noting that the men fail to remove their hats, she concludes they are up to no good. She hears raucous applause from an adjoining room And then she declares: “Some gypsy blood has been awakened” and she feels “an indistinct . . . desire to plunge into this whirlpool”.

Yet Luxemburg was emphatically not a “new woman”. When the Dutch socialist Henriette Roland Holst fell off her bicycle in 1904, Luxemburg wrote from prison to commiserate, joking about her own old-fashioned abhorrence of women on bikes. In June 1917 Luxemburg, stoical in the face of extreme deprivation, told her long-standing admirer, Hans Diefenbach, of her “helplessness in ‘earthly matters’”. When it came to train tickets, time tables and luggage, she was delighted to dump autonomy.

Humour bubbles up in the letters. Imprisoned in Wronke in January 1917, she reminds Luise Kautsky of the good times they had had “chitchatting and laughing” together. One night, coming from the home of the Social Democratic leader, August Bebel, they had walked through the streets in the night, singing away. She might have lambasted Luise’s husband Karl, but this did not stop her maintaining a close, subversive friendship with his wife.

She had a sharp eye for incongruity. Announcing to Zetkin on 2 April 1911 that Lenin had visited for the fourth time, she declared: “I enjoy talking with him, he’s clever and well educated, and has such an ugly mug, the kind I like to look at.” Lenin, the consummate politician, paid court to Luxemburg’s beloved cat, Mimi, declaring that “only in Siberia had he seen such a magnificent creature, that she was a barskii kot – a majestic cat”. Mimi had “rolled on her back and behaved enticingly towards him, but when he tried to approach her she whacked him with a paw and snarled like a tiger”.

Luxemburg’s endless curiosity makes for graphic letter writing. Writing to Luise Kautsky from Italy in May 1909, she wonders why Genoese men get shaved at night “covered in white barber’s cloths, with their noses tilted philosophically upward”. She puzzles over the witticisms, too colloquial for her to understand, delivered by the heavy-set young postman “in his white shoes and Garibaldi hat”. An admirer of good journalism, she grumbles about the flat jargon in Social Democratic newspapers, yet worries that she is not “a real writer” because she has never found writing easy.

She found it so hard because, as she explains to Henrietta Roland Holst in 1904, she wanted to convey “the living spirit of the movement”. The dynamism was not just a matter of form – it imbued her thinking. Ideas take shape from within specific contexts and span out as she writes. This makes it difficult to pigeonhole Luxemburg. The Communist party would retrospectively label her as an advocate of a naive spontaneity. But while she saw action as generating a transformed consciousness, her letters testify to her belief in the need for revolutionary organisation too.

Ironically, the woman who hated splits was constantly embattled. Dangerously isolated, she went on fighting. As the years passed, it came to seem to others as if she had been somehow marked by destiny. Characteristically she accepted this with the minimum of pomp, remarking laconically to Luise Kautsky from jail in April 1917 that she was “‘on leave’ from World History”. Prison allowed for reflection and, as the revolution in Russia erupted, individuals no longer seemed so important.

Luxemburg wrestled with a dilemma that troubled many of her contemporaries on the left and still resonates today: how to validate human beings’ ability to change capitalist society, while giving weight to the force of historical circumstances. Her letters reveal a taut oscillation. Proletarian internationalism was being routed by war, yet she wrote on 11 February 1915: “Ça ira – it will go on.”

Her death in 1919 was not to be the end of the story. In 1922, her former lover, Paul Levi, published a pamphlet she had written criticising the suppression of democracy in the Bolshevik revolution. It was akin to heresy and, under Stalin, her letters, archived in Moscow, were jealously controlled. Meanwhile the Kautskys were carrying Luxemburg letters with the rest of their papers from one European country to another as the Nazis advanced. In Germany, Mathilde Jacob, Luxemburg’s devoted friend and typist, ensured that her collection was sent to the United States; soon after, Jacob was taken to a concentration camp.

And so it did, and does “go on”, albeit in fits and starts, and with one step forward and several backward. Coincidentally The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg reaches us at a time when the peoples of the Middle East are asserting their aspirations for political, economic and social emancipation with formidable courage. The “living spirit” Luxemburg nurtured so strenuously has, once again, taken to the streets.

March 7 was a pivotal moment in plans by Western powers to launch military operations against Libya.

After meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Washington, President Barack Obama stated “we’ve got NATO, as we speak, consulting in Brussels around a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place inside of Libya.”

In an interview she gave to The Australian newspaper immediately before her departure for the U.S., Gillard stated that she supported the “US placing more military forces on Australian soil if it believes this is necessary in the light of the growing might of China and India.” Her government is also on record as backing military action in Libya.

On the same day North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen held a press conference at the military bloc’s headquarters in Brussels and while formally disavowing plans to intervene in the North African nation said that “as a defence Alliance and a security organisation, it is our job to conduct prudent planning for any eventuality.”

He revealed his true intentions with further statements like:

“We can see a strong wind of change blowing across the region – and it is blowing in the direction of freedom and democracy.”

“This is a humanitarian crisis on our door-step that concerns us all. The civilian population in Libya is the target of systematic attacks by the regime. So we must remain vigilant. The whole world is watching events in Libya and the wider Middle East. Many of our Allies have been evacuating their nationals and helping other people in need. We strongly condemn the use of force against the Libyan people. The violation of human rights and international humanitarian law is outrageous.”

Rasmussen also announced that the defense ministers of NATO’s 28 member states, including American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, will meet at NATO Headquarters on March 10-11 to “discuss the situation in Libya, and the longer term prospects for the region” and to “consider how NATO can do more to help partner countries in North Africa and the wider Middle East.” [1] NATO partnership nations include Libya’s neighbors to the east and west, Egypt and Tunisia, members of the Alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue.

Almost simultaneously, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, Netherlands-born Ivo Daalder, informed reporters that on the same day NATO military planners had completed an assessment for enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in time for the defense chiefs meeting three days later and had decided to conduct around-the-clock air surveillance of the country using AWACS aircraft. The no-fly operation assessment had been presented to the ambassadors of NATO’s 28 members, who planned to meet again on March 8 and 9 to deliberate on the issue.

Daalder also stated that “In coming days, military assessments should be completed into a no-fly zone and how to enforce an arms embargo.” [2] 

The U.S. envoy was the National Security Council director for European Affairs in charge of Bosnia policy in the mid-1990s in which capacity he assisted in overseeing the last days of NATO no-fly operations conducted over Bosnia, which is to say largely over the Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Republic), from 1992-1995, Operation Sky Monitor and Operation Deny Flight. 

In 1995 Operation Deny Flight gave way to Operation Deliberate Force, directed against the Republika Srpska with 400 aircraft flying 3,515 missions against 338 targets. Daalder also supported the U.S. and British no-fly zone over Iraq in the 1990s and in 2006 co-authored an article for Foreign Affairs, journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, entitled “Global NATO” in which he applauded the military alliance’s role in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Darfur region of western Sudan. [3] At the time the article appeared many in the U.S. were calling for a replication of the no-fly operations employed over Iraq, Bosnia and later Yugoslavia for Sudan.

Daalder criticized his then-former chief President Bill Clinton in 1999 for not introducing ground troops into Kosovo in conjunction with the 78-air war the U.S. and NATO mercilessly prosecuted against the nation.

Susan Rice, like Ivo Daalder a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution currently on leave, in her case as American ambassador to the United Nations, demanded in 2007 that the U.S. and NATO enforce a no-fly zone over the Darfur region of Sudan and “signal its readiness to strike Sudanese military and intelligence assets, including aircraft and airfields, if necessary.” She also called for the deployment of NATO Response Force troops to western Sudan. Rice will vote on a no-fly resolution for Libya when it is introduced in the UN Security Council. [4]

On March 6 Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the television news program Meet the Nation “that Libya’s air force could be disabled without the kind of expense and commitment required to maintain previous no-fly zones in Iraq and the Balkans,” [5] and instead “One could crater the airports and the runways and leave them incapable of using them for a period of time.” His position on grounding Libya’s air force was echoed by two of the Senate’s top Republicans, John McCain and Mitch McConnell.

Kerry also called for turning an unspecified amount of the $30 billion in Libyan assets seized by the American government over to rebel groups in the country, adding, “I assume that a lot of weapons are going to find their way there from one means or another over the course of the next weeks.”
 
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nation Bill Richards, too, advocated a plan to “covertly arm the rebels” (as did White House spokesman Jay Carney) and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

George W. Bush administration national security advisor Stephen Hadley chimed in, telling CNN: “Obviously, if there is a way to get weapons into the hands of the rebels, if we can get anti-aircraft systems so that they can enforce a no-fly zone over their own territory, that would be helpful.”   

Reports have circulated about Washington enlisting Saudi Arabia to airlift weapons to rebels in Benghazi.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan told Agence France-Presse that in regard to U.S. plans for Libya, “all options are being considered.”

The New York Times on March 6 listed what those options are. They include the deployment of the USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ship, on which the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is embarked and which took on board 400 more Marines in addition to the 1,200-2,000 it arrived with on the Greek island of Crete and with the USS Ponce amphibious warfare ship is now heading for the Libyan coast in a deployment ordered by Pentagon chief Gates. USS Kearsarge is equipped to carry V-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and MH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, the largest and heaviest helicopters in the U.S. military arsenal.

“The flotilla can be seen as a modern-day example of ‘gunboat diplomacy,’ intended to embolden rebels and shake the confidence of loyalist forces and mercenaries, perhaps even inspiring a palace coup.” [6]

Gunboat diplomacy is the proper term, reminiscent as it is of the dispatching of four American warships to Tripoli in 1801 where they enforced a blockade of the harbor and where the USS Enterprise defeated the privateer ship Tripoli in a naval battle off what is now Libya’s capital.

The current USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is positioned in the Red Sea with a carrier strike group attached to it which includes the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley, USS Barry and USS Mason, and the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic.

On February 16 Enterprise and Kearsarge, the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and Expeditionary Strike Group 5, met up in the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal which USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce passed through on March 1 to the Mediterranean Sea and the American naval base in Souda Bay, Crete. 
 
The New York Times laid out further options in addition to the stationing of American warships off the shores of Libya. They include several offered by planners on the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and its field commands:

Signal jamming “aircraft operating in international air space,” thus disabling “Libyan government communications with its military units.”

“Administration officials said Sunday [March 6] that preparations for such an operation were under way.”

The aforementioned use of the Kearsarge and the Ponce amphibious assault ships, “Known as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” which “provides a complete air, sea and land force that can project its power quickly and across hundreds of miles, either from flat-decked ships in the Mediterranean Sea or onto a small beachhead on land.”

“In this task force are Harrier jump-jet warplanes, which not only can bomb, strafe and engage in dogfights, but can also carry surveillance pods for monitoring military action on the ground in Libya; attack helicopters; transport aircraft – both cargo helicopters and the fast, long-range Osprey, whose rotors let it lift straight up, then tilt forward like propellers to ferry Marines…across the desert; landing craft that can cross the surf anywhere along Libyas’ long coastline – and about 400 ground combat troops of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines.”

Other operations being planned are air-dropping weapons to insurgents in the country and “inserting small Special Operations teams…to assist the rebels, as was done in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban.”

Another option is to launch a “handful of strikes on valued government or military targets…as was done in the Gulf of Sidra raids in 1986,” by the Ronald Reagan administration.

“There are ample planes based in Europe and on the aircraft carrier Enterprise and its strike group, now in the Red Sea, for missions over Libya.

“Pentagon officials said Sunday that those vessels were carefully sailing in the direction of the Suez Canal, gateway to the Mediterranean.”

USS Enterprise, should it join other U.S. and NATO nations’ warships in the Mediterranean, will provide as many as 85 aircraft.

The newspaper account also detailed these actions:

“The destruction of Libyan air-defense radars and missile batteries would be required, perhaps using missiles launched from submarines or warships. A vast fleet of tankers would be needed to refuel warplanes. Search-and-rescue teams trained in land and sea operations would be on hand in case a plane went down.

“The fleet of aircraft needed for such a mission would easily reach into the hundreds. Given the size of such a mission, it would be expected that American and NATO bases in Europe would be used, and that an American aircraft carrier would be positioned off Libya.” [7]

On March 1 the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed senior U.S. official recommending another expedient: “The best outcome for those Libyan leaders who are defecting will be [to put] two bullets into the heads of Gadhafi and his son.”

NATO’s Aviano Air Base In Italy, across the Mediterranean from Libya, hosts 42 U.S. F-16 jet fighters. Aviano is the base from which U.S. F-15s and F-16s and NATO warplanes took off for the bombing of the Bosnian Serb Republic in 1995 and Yugoslavia in 1999. In the second case over 38,000 air missions were conducted.

A Russian analyst recently wrote of the parallels between NATO’s first full-scale war in 1999 and the impending campaign against Libya:

“The old term used to describe such actions, ‘gunboat diplomacy,’ is no longer politically correct. Now ‘liberal intervention’ is preferred. But while the name may have changed, the methods have not. Libya appears to be maneuvered down the same path of action that culminated in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, which started on March 24, 1999, after a no-fly zone was announced.

“The quest for UN approval is an essentially meaningless but nevertheless indispensable political ritual that always precedes violations of international law. The same thing happened before NATO’s Operation Allied Force (Noble Anvil) in Yugoslavia.”

“The military preparations underway in the Mediterranean go beyond the simple redeployment of U.S. warships ‘just in case.’ These preparations always have a critical mass – the line beyond which war becomes unavoidable.

“USS Kearsarge is one of the world’s largest assault vessels of its kind. It has dozens of helicopters on board, missiles, landing craft, and over 2,000 Marines. The ship was used in the Yugoslavian operation in 1999 to deploy Marines, reconnaissance groups and special forces.” [8]

Associated Press reported on March 4 that “Some NATO countries are drawing up contingency plans modeled on the no-fly zones over the Balkans in the 1990s.”

The news agency cited a senior European Union official stating that “taking control of the airspace over Libya would more likely be modeled on Operation Deny Flight, a 1993-95 NATO mission in which its warplanes patrolled the skies over Bosnia as a civil war raged between government forces and Serb secessionists.”

“During Deny Flight’s 33-month duration, NATO flew more than 100,000 sorties. Roughly half were carried out by fighters and attack jets, and the others by transports, reconnaissance planes and aerial tankers. Four Serbian fighter-bombers were shot down during the operation.”

“NATO planes mostly operated from air bases in Italy and from carriers in the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean. Many of those bases, and those in Spain, Crete and Cyprus, could be used for a potential air mission over Libya.” [9]

On the first of the month the European Union scheduled a crisis summit of its 27 heads of state requested by British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy for March 11, which will be the second day of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting also occurring in Brussels. Earlier in the same week the EU imposed its most stringent sanctions to date against Libya and adopted an embargo on arms and equipment to the nation.

On March 5 the Daily Telegraph revealed that the Black Watch (3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland) has been placed on heightened alert, “prepared to deploy to North Africa at 24 hours’ notice.”

The 600-troop infantry unit returned from Afghanistan in late 2009 where it fought in Operation Panchai Palang (Panther’s Claw) and before that participated in the first attack on Basra, Iraq in 2003.

The British newspaper added:

“Nato members yesterday agreed to draw up contingency plans for how their armed forces could intervene. Britain is also preparing to send diplomats and specialist advisers to the eastern city of Benghazi, where the disparate Libyan opposition is based.” The advisers were Special Air Service (SAS) and Military Intelligence (MI6) operatives “carrying espionage equipment, reconnaissance equipment, multiple passports and weapons” who were captured by Libyan rebel forces in Benghazi at the time the above-cited report appeared.

The Guardian reported that Britain was also deploying Typhoon multirole combat aircraft to its base at Akrotiri in Cyprus. 

On March 1 Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in the House of Commons that he was ordering the frigate HMCS Charlottetown with 240 military personnel “to the waters off Libya to enhance its military presence in the region in response to the escalating unrest in the Northern African country.” Defense Minister Peter MacKay said it would take six days for the warship to arrive. Canada also has C-17 Globemaster and two C-130J Hercules military transportation planes as well as a military reconnaissance team of 13 soldiers based in Malta, 300 kilometers north of Libya.

The amassing of military assets – warships, warplanes, assault troops and special forces – near and in Libya means more than brinkmanship, demonstrates more than a show of strength, more than simply “sending a message.”

So does the enforcement of a no-fly zone over the country, which is not a substitute for but a prelude to war. Last week Defense Secretary Gates acknowledged that “A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses.”

It in fact demands the grounding of a targeted nation’s aircraft and the neutralization if not destruction of its surveillance systems and anti-aircraft batteries.

A no-fly regime is succeeded by war as day is followed by night. In Bosnia from 1992-1995 it led to a bombing campaign and the deployment of 60,000 NATO troops. In Yugoslavia in 1999 it was the opening move in an air war which resulted in 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops occupying part of the country’s territory. In Iraq from 1991-2003 it was the lead-up to an invasion and ongoing military occupation that will soon be eight-years-old.

Britain and France, in close consultation with the U.S. and Germany (collectively the NATO Quad), are jointly writing a draft resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya to be presented to the Security Council. If the resolution is supported by nine or more of the fifteen nations on the Security Council and if permanent members China and Russia don’t veto it, the stage will be set for a series of further military actions by the U.S. and NATO against Libya, which will be presented by the West as UN-sanctioned, in a manner alarmingly evocative of the process used to prepare the attack on Iraq in 2003.

Rick Rozoff is a Correspondent for Global Research focussing on Geopolitics and US Foreign Policy.

Notes

1) NATO Defence Ministers will discuss situation in Libya and longer term
   prospects in Middle East
   North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 7, 2011
2) Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2011
3) Ivo Daalder and James Goldgeier, Global Nato
   Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006
   http://www.brookings.edu/views/articles/daalder/2006sept_oct.pdf
4) Susan E. Rice, The Genocide in Darfur: America Must Do More to Fulfill 
   the Responsibility to Protect
   Brookings Institution, October 24, 2007
   http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2007/1024darfur_rice_Opp08.aspx
5) Washington Post, March 6, 2011
6) New York Times, March 6, 2011
7) Ibid
8) Andrei Fedyashin, The Yugoslavian option for Libya
   Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 4, 2011
   http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20110304/162866224.html
9) NATO weighing Libyan no-fly zone
   Associated Press, March 4, 2011

VIDEO: Pentagon Propaganda Sways US Opinion of Libya

March 8th, 2011 by Keith Harmon Snow

The following is an excerpt of a chapter by Andrew Gavin Marshall from the new book by Global Research Publishers, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.”

The Global
Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew Gavin Marshall (editors)

Help us get the word out, “like” the book on Facebook, comment, and share with friends!

Introduction

To understand the historical context of the current crisis, it is pivotal to address the nature of the most vital and powerful force within the capitalist global political economy: the central banking system. One of the least understood, most widely ignored, and mysteries of capitalism, the central banking system, is also the source of the greatest wealth and power, essentially managing capitalism – controlling the credit and debt of both government and industry.

Any notion of a “free market” must be dispelled in its true meaning, for as long as the central banking system has been dominant, central bankers have managed and controlled capitalism for the benefit of the few and at the expense of the many. Comprehending the nature of central banking is necessary in order to understand the nature of the current economic crisis.

The Origins of Central Banking

Central banking has its origins in the development of bank-issued money, which falls under three categories: (1) Deposit money subject to written check or oral transfer; (2) Bank-issued paper money (bank notes); and (3) Bank-issued legal tender paper money. In 1609, the Bank of Amsterdam was founded “as a bank of deposit slipping secretly into the practice of monetary issue towards the middle of the 17th century.” At the same time, “the goldsmiths of England are generally supposed to have introduced both deposit money and the earliest English unofficial bank note.” And importantly, “In Sweden we find what are widely regarded as the first true bank notes in Europe being issued in 1661 by a private bank founded by Johan Palmstruch.”[1]

As early as 1656, “the Bank of Amsterdam violated the one-hundred per cent reserve principle and, thus, created money,” while “the goldsmiths in England became active as lenders in 1640.” Further, the State Bank of Sweden “was founded November 30, 1656, and to Palmstruch, its founder, is attributed the first use of bank bills as credit money, not fully covered by the coin reserve.”[2]

As economist John Kenneth Galbraith explained in Money, “The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent. The deposits of the Bank of Amsterdam just mentioned were, according to the instruction of the owner, subject to transfer to others in settlement of accounts,” and thus “the coin on deposit served less as money by being in a bank and being subject to transfer by the stroke of a primitive pen.” Further, “another stroke of the pen would give a borrower from the bank, as distinct from a creditor of the original depositor, a loan from the original and idle deposit.” Galbraith elaborated:

The original deposit still stood to the credit of the original depositor. But there was now also a new deposit from the proceeds of the loan. Both deposits could be used to make payments, be used as money. Money had thus been created. The discovery that banks could so create money came very early in the development of banking. There was that interest to be earned.[3]

Expanding on this notion of money-creation, economist Rupert J. Ederer explained, in regards to the Bank of Amsterdam, that both the depositor “and a borrower could affect a purchase with the same money at the same time, [thus] we had here some increase in the quantity of money.” However, “the more serious infractions followed when the Bank began to lend money to the government of Amsterdam and eventually succumbed to the temptations offered by the [Dutch] East India Company.” As Ederer articulated, “What this bank did surreptitiously was soon to be institutionalized and to form the essence of a new monetary technique.” Thus, this bank established a “new monetary era”:

A marvelous new power probably equal to the potentialities of the discovery of coinage had evolved. The Bank had created money literally for over a hundred years without being discovered. Even after it was discovered, the Bank could have continued in operation in this new way except for public prejudice. The public was not yet ready to accept a money with no guarantee save the word of public authorities. It had been too seriously and too frequently misled in the past, and, paradoxically enough, it had fled to the banks for a more efficient money. Out of this flight grew the private money creation which is the essence of modern commercial banking.[4]

The Bank of England

As John Kenneth Galbraith explained in regards to the Bank of England, “Of all institutions concerned with economics none has for so long enjoyed such prestige,” as “most of the art as well as much of the mystery associated with the management of money originated there. The pride of other central banks has been either in their faithful imitation of the Bank of England or in the small variations from its method.”[5] As economist Rupert J. Ederer explained, it was with the founding of the Bank of England “which constituted the first complete official approval of money issue by private interests. In other words, private money-issue became a socially and legally sanctioned institution during the 17th century.”[6]

Ederer analyzed the history leading up to the creation of the Bank of England in his book, Evolution of Money. He explained that the slippage of the process of money creation from public to private hands “was but another manifestation of the intense struggle of king vs. parliament going on there at the time.” Ederer elaborated:

It had been customary in 17th century England for the wealthy classes to deposit their surplus metallic money in the London Tower for safe-keeping. Here, they felt confident, it was safe. This confidence was dealt a rude blow when King Charles I in need of money to conduct a civil war which he had precipitated with Scotland confiscated the hoards. As it was, Charles refused to release these funds until the merchants agreed to make him a loan. He did not repay the loan except after a long delay marked by sharp and bitter protests. The depositors had learned their lesson and would look for another safe-deposit bank. Most suited to the task, it seemed, were the vaults of the goldsmiths.[7]

The goldsmiths, being savvy businessmen, “served notice to their depositors that they would accept money on deposit only on the condition that they could lend it out.” The goldsmiths developed a cunning method of managing the money, as the smith would issue a “warehouse receipt” to depositors wishing to withdraw money, which was “a document showing that a certain quantity of metallic money was left on deposit by ‘X’ and could be claimed by him upon presentation of the receipt.” Ederer explained:

These receipts were at first scrupulously honored thus establishing confidence that the money would always be available. As a result, the clientele whose original intention was to get away from using the sensitive and impractical coins, simply began circulating the receipts.[8]

The main obstacle to this development of money-creation was the state, as “Kings had insisted on the sole right to issue the monetary media ever since coinage began. Surrender of that right was fraught with dangers for the public welfare and for the very existence of the states involved.” So the question was, as Ederer postulated, “How could these monarchs be induced to surrender or, at least, to share this power with private interests? The answer lay in the financially exposed position in which many monarchs found themselves during the 17th and 18th centuries because of constant wars and uprisings. They needed money desperately.”[9]

In England, King Charles II “borrowed what money the smiths were able and willing to lend at 12 percent. The repayment was to come in the form of taxes which were to be paid directly to the goldsmiths.” However, businessmen and other powerful interests did not want a return to coinage, having grown accustomed to the use of receipts, which had allowed their businesses to flourish. Naturally, there was a growing desire for banks to emerge, following on the heels of the example in Amsterdam. However, all that was needed “was a king who was especially in need of funds for some royal venture. When this monarch appeared, certain alert interests would be able to foist upon the public a system of private money issue.”[10]

This opportunity emerged with King William and Queen Mary following the long war with Louis XIV, at a time in which the mercantile interests “had money that they were willing to lend on their own terms, and they were also aware of how lucrative banking in the new style could be, that is, when it involved the right to create money.”[11] William was born a Dutch prince, whose mother was sister to King Charles II of England. He came to power in England in 1689 following the Glorious Revolution, in which King James II was forced to flee, which involved an invading Dutch army and resulted in the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the English Bill of Rights, marking an end to the absolute monarchist era and the beginning of an era in which power was shared between monarch and the parliament.

Now, the monarch, desperate for funds, had to look to private interests, and the answer came from a Scotsman named William Patterson:

Speaking for the wealthy London businessmen he offered to lend money amounting to 1,200,000 pounds at 8% interest, provided that the lenders be granted a charter to establish a bank of issue. On their behalf he demanded the right to issue notes in an amount equal roughly to the amount of the debt, which would circulate as money.[12]

These notes “would go out as loans to worthy private borrowers. Interest would be earned both on these loans and on the loans to the government. Again the wonder of banking.”[13] The plan initially being put through Parliament in 1691 met opposition from the King and goldsmiths. However, it was eventually passed in 1694, and thus, the Bank of England was created.[14]

In 1833, Parliament passed legislation that made the Bank of England have the only legal notes of tender, granting it a partial monopoly, as other banks still had notes in circulation. With the Bank Act of 1844, “the issues of all the other banks were limited to the amounts in circulation at that time.” Confidence grew in the bank, acting as the government’s banker and agent, “and when the widespread establishment of joint-stock banks in England began in 1826, the Bank of England had already come to be regarded as the custodian of the cash reserves of the private banks, and thus of the country’s gold reserves.” Eventually, the bank entered into the role of being the “lender of last resort” and had the responsibility to “maintain not only the currency but also the credit system of the country.”[15]

The Bank of France

In 1788, the French Monarchy was bankrupt, and as tensions grew between the increasingly desperate people of France and the aristocratic and particularly monarchic establishment, European bankers decided to pre-empt and co-opt the revolution. In 1788, prominent French bankers refused “to extend necessary short-term credit to the government,”[16] and they arranged to have shipments of grain and food to Paris “delayed” which triggered the hunger riots of the Parisians.[17] This sparked the Revolution, in which a new ruling class emerged, driven by violent oppression and political and actual terrorism. However, its violence grew, and with that, so too did discontentment with the Revolutionary Regime, and its stability and sustainability was in question. Thus, the bankers threw their weight behind a general in the Revolutionary Army named Napoleon, whom they entrusted to restore order.

Napoleon then gave the bankers his support, and in 1800, created the Bank of France, the privately owned central bank of France, and gave the bankers authority over the Bank. The bankers owned its shares, and even Napoleon himself bought shares in the bank.[18] In 1803, Napoleon granted the Bank of France the exclusive right of issue, abolishing competition, “and so the Bank of France assumed the role of the central bank.” However, “the Bank’s independence was scarcely altered. At the time when it assumed the role as the country’s central bank, representatives of the 200 principal shareholders were still free to make policy themselves.”[19]

The bankers thus sought to control commerce and government and restore order to their newly acquired and privately owned and operated empire. However, Napoleon continued with his war policies beyond the patience of the bankers, which had a negative impact upon commercial activities,[20] and Napoleon himself was interfering in the operations of the Bank of France and even declared that the Bank “belongs more to the Emperor than to the shareholders.”[21] With that, the bankers again shifted their influence, and remained through regime change, while Napoleon did not.[22]

The Rothschilds ascended to the throne of international banking with the Battle of Waterloo. After having established banking houses in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna and Naples, they profited off all sides in the Napoleonic wars.[23] The British patriarch, Nathan Rothschild, was known for being the first with news in London, ahead of even the monarchy and the Parliament, and so everyone watched his moves on the stock exchange during the Battle of Waterloo. Following the battle, Nathan got the news that the British won over 24 hours before the government itself had news, and he quietly went into the London Stock Exchange and sold everything he had, implying to those watching that the British lost.

A panic selling ensued, in which everyone sold stock, stock prices crumbled, and the market crashed. What resulted was that Rothschild then bought up the near-entire British stock market for pennies on the dollar, as when news arrived of the British victory at Waterloo, Rothschild’s newly acquired stocks soared in value, as did his fortune, and his rise as the pre-eminent economic figure in Britain.[24]

As Georgetown University History professor, Carroll Quigley wrote in his monumental Tragedy and Hope, “the merchant bankers of London had already at hand in 1810-1850 the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, and the London money market,” and that:

In time they brought into their financial network the provincial banking centers, organized as commercial banks and savings banks, as well as insurance companies, to form all of these into a single financial system on an international scale which manipulated the quantity and flow of money so that they were able to influence, if not control, governments on one side and industries on the other.[25]

Creating a Central Bank of the United States: The Federal Reserve

The history of the United States from its founding through the 19th century to the early 20th century was marked by a continual political battle revolving around the creation of a central bank of the United States. Mercantilists such as Alexander Hamilton, who was the first Treasury Secretary, were in favor of such a bank, and his advice won over George Washington, much to the dismay of Thomas Jefferson, who was a strong opponent to central banking. However, “[Alexander] Hamilton, believing that government must ally itself with the richest elements of society to make itself strong, proposed to Congress a series of laws, which it enacted, expressing this philosophy,” and that, “A Bank of the United States was set up as a partnership between the government and certain banking interests,”[26] which lasted until the charter expired in 1811.

Again, during the tenure of Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), the primary political struggle was with the entrenched financial interests both domestic and from abroad (namely Western Europe), on the issue of creating a central bank of the U.S. Andrew Jackson stood in firm opposition to such a bank, saying that, “the bank threatened the emerging order, hoarding too much economic power in too few hands,” and referred to it as “The Monster.”[27] Congress passed the bill allowing for the creation of a Second Bank of the United States, however Andrew Jackson vetoed the bill, much to the dismay of the banking interests.

It was in the latter half of the 1800s that “European financiers were in favor of an American Civil War that would return the United States to its colonial status, they admitted privately that they were not necessarily interested in preserving slavery,” as it had become unprofitable.[28] The Civil War was not based upon the liberation of slaves, it was, as Howard Zinn described it, a clash “of elites,” with the northern elite wanting “economic expansion – free land, free labor, a free market, a high protective tariff for manufacturers, [and] a bank of the United States. [Whereas] the slave interests opposed all that.”[29] The Civil War, which lasted from 1861 until 1865, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, during which, “Congress also set up a national bank, putting the government into partnership with the banking interests, guaranteeing their profits.”[30]

As Lincoln himself stated:

The money powers prey on the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes.

I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me, and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe. As a most undesirable consequence of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow. The money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed.[31]

Throughout much of the 1800s and into the 1900s, the United States suffered several economic crises, one of the most significant of which was the Great Depression of 1873. As Howard Zinn explained:

The crisis was built into a system which was chaotic in its nature, in which only the very rich were secure. It was a system of periodic crises – 1837, 1857, 1873 (and later: 1893, 1907, 1919, 1929) – that wiped out small businesses and brought cold, hunger, and death to working people while the fortunes of the Astors, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans, kept growing through war and peace, crisis and recovery. During the 1873 crisis, Carnegie was capturing the steel market, Rockefeller was wiping out his competitors in oil.[32]

Massive industrial consolidation by a few oligarchic elites was the rule of the day, as J.P. Morgan expanded total control over railroad and banking interests, and John D. Rockefeller took control of the oil market, and expanded into banking. Zinn explained:

The imperial leader of the new oligarchy was the House of Morgan. In its operations it was ably assisted by the First National Bank of New York (directed by George F. Baker) and the National City Bank of New York (presided over by James Stillman, agent of the Rockefeller interests). Among them, these three men and their financial associates occupied 341 directorships in 112 corporations. The total resources of these corporations in 1912 was $22,245,000,000, more than the assessed value of all property in the twenty-two states and territories west of the Mississippi River.[33]

In the early 20th century, European and American banking interests achieved what they had desired for over a century within America, the creation of a privately owned central bank. It was created through collaboration of American and European bankers, primarily the Morgans, Rockefellers, Kuhn, Loebs and Warburgs.[34]

After the 1907 banking panic in the U.S., instigated by J.P. Morgan, pressure was placed upon the American political establishment to create a “stable” banking system. In 1910, a secret meeting of financiers was held on Jekyll Island, where they planned for the “creation of a National Reserve Association with fifteen major regions, controlled by a board of commercial bankers but empowered by the federal government to act like a central bank – creating money and lending reserves to private banks.”[35]

It was largely Paul M. Warburg, a Wall Street investment banker, who “had come up with a design for a single central bank [in 1910]. He called it the United Reserve Bank. From this and his later service on the first Federal Reserve Board, Warburg has, with some justice, been called the father of the System.”[36]

Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, “in the early years of the century, was by common calculation the most influential man in the Senate.” He “had an unabashed commitment to high tariffs, sound money, [and] the untrammeled operations of big bankers and to all other measures which would, with reasonable certainty, enhance the wealth or power of the already rich, a community that very definitely included Aldrich himself.” Further, his daughter married John D. Rockefeller, Jr.[37]

In 1912, Aldrich “introduced legislation to establish a National Reserve Association along with fifteen regional associations. These would hold the reserves – the deposits – of the participating banks. To them the banks would turn for loans, including rescue in a time of emergency. All would be solidly under the control of the bankers whom they comprised.” Although, when the System was finally created, “the ultimate legislation was the work not of Aldrich and his fellow Republicans but of the Democrats.”[38]

President Woodrow Wilson followed the plan almost exactly as outlined by the Wall Street financiers, and added to it the creation of a Federal Reserve Board in Washington, which the President would appoint.[39] It was two days before Christmas in 1913 that “Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law. It provided not for a central bank but for as many as twelve – the number later chosen. Washington guidance was to be by a Federal Reserve Board of seven, of which the Secretary of the Treasury and the Comptroller of the Currency were to be ex officio members. The powers of the board were slight. The regional idea had, in fact, triumphed, and the real authority lay with the twelve banks.”[40] The regional banks:

…were each to be governed by a board of nine directors, six of whom were to be selected by the participating or member banks, although only three of these could be bankers. The remaining three were to be appointed by Washington.[41]

The Federal Reserve, or Fed, “raised its own revenue, drafted its own operating budget and submitted neither to Congress,” while “the seven governors shared power with the presidents of the twelve Reserve Banks, each serving the private banks in its region,” and “the commercial banks held stock shares in each of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks.”[42]

Notes

[1] Rupert J. Ederer, The Evolution of Money, Public Affairs Press, 1964, p. 102.
[2] Ibid., p. 103.
[3] John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence it Came, Where it Went, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1975, p. 18-19.
[4] Rupert J. Ederer, op. cit., p. 118-119.
[5] John Kenneth Galbraith, op. cit., p. 30.
[6] Rupert J. Ederer, op. cit., p. 103.
[7] Ibid., p. 119-120.
[8] Ibid., p. 120-121.
[9] Ibid., p. 121-122.
[10] Ibid., p. 122.
[11] Ibid., p. 122.
[12] Ibid., p. 123.
[13] John Kenneth Galbraith, op. cit., p. 31.
[14] Rupert J. Ederer, op. cit., p. 123.
[15] M.H. De Kock, Central Banking, 3rd edition, Staples Press, London, 1969, p. 12.
[16] Donald Kagan, et. al., The Western Heritage. Volume C: Since 1789, Ninth edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007, p. 596.
[17] Curtis B. Dall, F.D.R: My Exploited Father-in-Law, Institute for Historical Review, 1982, p. 172.
[18] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, New York, Macmillan Company, 1966, p. 515; Robert Elgie and Helen Thompson (eds.), The Politics of Central Banks, New York, Routledge, 1998, p. 97-98.
[19] Robert Elgie and Helen Thompson (eds.), The Politics of Central Banks, New York, Routledge, 1998, p. 98.
[20] Carroll Quigley, op. cit., p. 516.
[21] Robert Elgie and Helen Thompson, ed., op. cit., p. 98-99.
[22] Carroll Quigley, op. cit., p. 516.
[23] Sylvia Nasar, “Masters of the Universe”, The New York Times, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04E3D6123AF930A15752C0A9669C8B63, 23 January 2000; BBC News, “The Family That Bankrolled Europe”, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/389053.stm, 9 July 1999.
[24] New Scientist, “Waterloo Windfall”, New Scientist Magazine, Issue 2091, http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15520913.300-waterloo-windfall.html, 19 July 1997; BBC News, “The Making of a Dynasty: The Rothschilds”, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5099.stm, 28 January 1998.
[25] Carroll Quigley, op. cit., p. 51.
[26] Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, Harper Perennial, New York, 2003, p. 101.
[27] Michael Waldman, My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America’s Presidents, from George Washington to George W. Bush, Longman Publishing Group, 2004, p. 25.
[28] Dr. Ellen Brown, “Today We’re All Irish: Debt Serfdom Comes to America”, Global Research, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php
[29] Howard Zinn, op. cit., p. 189.
[30] Ibid., p. 238.
[31] Steve Bachman, “Unheralded Warnings from the Founding Fathers to You”, Gather, http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId= 281474977031677, 19 June 2007.
[32] Howard Zinn, op. cit., p. 242.
[33] Ibid., p. 323.
[34] Murray N. Rothbard, “Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy”, World Market Perspective, http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard66.html, 1984.
[35] William Greider, Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1987, p. 276.
[36] John Kenneth Galbraith, op. cit., p. 121-122.
[37] Ibid., p. 120-121.
[38] Ibid., p. 122.
[39] William Greider, op. cit., p. 277.
[40] John Kenneth Galbraith, op. cit., p. 123-124.
[41] Ibid., p. 124.
[42] William Greider, op. cit., p. 50.

Gaza City, March 7 (RHC)– In news from Gaza, Israeli F-16 fighter jets have bombed a number of buildings under construction at the Islamic University in Gaza City.

No one was injured in the attacks, but school officials questioned  why Israel would bomb an educational facility.

One Palestinian official — who expressed shock and surprise — told  reporters that the F-16 jets struck the university buildings at night.

He said the buildings were part of educational facilities and that  there were no military installations there.

Parte I

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – Aurora03.da.ru

Gli Stati Uniti e la NATO stanno sostenendo una insurrezione armata in Libia orientale, al fine di giustificare un “intervento umanitario“. Questo non è un movimento di protesta non violento, come in Egitto e Tunisia. Le condizioni in Libia sono fondamentalmente diverse. L’insurrezione armata, in Libia orientale è direttamente supportato da potenze straniere. L’insurrezione a Bengasi ha subito issato la bandiera rossa, nera e verde con la mezzaluna e la stella: la bandiera della monarchia di re Idris, che simboleggiava il dominio delle ex potenze coloniali. (Cfr. Manlio Dinucci, Libia-Quando la memoria storica è cancellata, Global Research, 28 Febbraio 2011)
I consiglieri militari e le forze speciali USA e NATO sono già sul terreno. L’operazione è stata pianificata per farla coincidere con il movimento di protesta nei paesi arabi vicini. L’opinione pubblica è stata indotta a credere che il movimento di protesta si sia diffuso spontaneamente dalla Tunisia e dall’Egitto verso la Libia. L’amministrazione Obama, in consultazione con i suoi alleati, assiste una ribellione armata, cioè un tentativo di colpo di Stato:

“L’amministrazione Obama è pronta ad offrire qualsiasi tipo di assistenza a cittadini libici che cercano di cacciare Muammar Gheddafi”, ha detto la segretaria di Stato Hillary Clinton [27 Febbraio] “abbiamo raggiunto diversi libici che stanno tentando di organizzarsi in Oriente mentre inoltre la rivoluzione si sposta verso ovest”, ha detto Clinton. “Penso che sia troppo presto per dire come andrà a finire, ma abbiamo intenzione di essere pronti e preparati ad offrire qualsiasi tipo di assistenza che chiunque  voglia avere dagli Stati Uniti.” Attualmente si sta formando un governo provvisorio nella parte orientale del paese, dove la ribellione è iniziata a metà mese.

Gli Stati Uniti, ha detto Clinton, minacciano ulteriori misure contro il governo di Gheddafi, ma non ha detto dove o quando potrebbe essere annunciate. Gli Stati Uniti dovrebbero “riconoscere un governo provvisorio, che stanno cercando di impostare…” [McCain]

Lieberman ha parlato in termini analoghi, sollecitando “un sostegno tangibile, (una) no-fly zone, il riconoscimento del governo rivoluzionario, il governo dei cittadini e il loro sostegno sia con l’assistenza umanitaria e, io vorrei, fornendogli armi”.

(Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition – Associated Press, 27 febbraio 2011)

L’invasione pianificata

Un intervento militare è oggi contemplato dalle forze USA e della NATO, nel quadro di un “mandato umanitario“.

Gli Stati Uniti stanno muovendo e forze aero-navali nella regione” per “preparare una gamma completa di opzioni” nel confronto con la Libia: ha  detto il portavoce del Pentagono, colonnello dei Marines Dave Lapan [Marzo 1]. Ha poi detto che “E’ stato il presidente Obama che ha chiesto ai militari di prepararsi a queste opzioni”, perché la situazione in Libia peggiora.” (Manlio Dinucci, Preparativi per l’”Operazione Libia”: Il Pentagono “riposiziona” le sue forze aeronavali…, Global Research, 3 marzo 2011)
Il vero obiettivo dell’”Operazione Libia” non è quello di stabilire la democrazia, ma di prendere possesso delle riserve di petrolio della Libia, destabilizzare la National Oil Corporation (NOC) e, infine, la privatizzazione dell’industria petrolifera del paese, vale a dire trasferire il controllo e la proprietà delle ricchezze petrolifere della Libia nelle mani straniere. La National Oil Corporation (NOC) è classificato tra le prime 25 compagnie petrolifere del Mondo. (The Energy Intelligence ranks NOC 25 among the world’s Top 100 companies. – Libyaonline.com)

La Libia è tra le più grandi economie petrolifere del mondo, con circa il 3,5% delle riserve mondiali di petrolio, più del doppio di quelle degli Stati Uniti. (Per ulteriori dettagli vedere la Parte II del presente articolo, “Operazione Libia” e la battaglia per il petrolio)

La pianificata invasione della Libia, è già in corso nell’ambito della più ampia “battaglia per il petrolio“. Quasi l’80 per cento delle  riserve di petrolio della Libia si trova nel bacino del Golfo della Sirte, nella Libia orientale. (Vedi mappa sotto)

Le ipotesi strategiche dietro l’”Operazione Libia” ricordano i precedenti impegni militari USA-NATO in Jugoslavia e in Iraq.
In Jugoslavia, le forze USA-NATO innescarono una guerra civile. L’obiettivo era quello di creare divisioni politiche ed etniche, che alla fine hanno portato alla dissoluzione di un intero paese. Questo obiettivo è stato raggiunto attraverso il finanziamento occulto e la formazione di eserciti armati paramilitari, prima in Bosnia (l’esercito bosniaco musulmano, 1991-95) e poi in Kosovo (Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), 1998-1999). Sia in

Kosovo che in Bosnia, la disinformazione dei media (comprese menzogne e invenzioni) sono stati utilizzate a sostegno delle rivendicazioni di Stati Uniti ed Unione Europea, secondo cui il governo di Belgrado aveva commesso atrocità, con ciò giustificando un intervento militare per motivi umanitari.

Ironia della sorte, l’”Operazione Jugoslavia” è ora sulla bocca dei responsabili della politica estera degli Stati Uniti: il senatore Lieberman “ha paragonato la situazione in Libia agli eventi nei Balcani negli anni ‘90, quando  disse che gli USA “intervennero per fermare un genocidio contro i bosniaci. E la prima cosa che abbiamo fatto è stata quello di fornirgli le armi per difendersi. Questo è ciò che penso si debba fare in Libia.” (Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition – Associated Press, 27 febbraio 2011)
Lo scenario strategico sarebbe quello di sostenere la formazione e il riconoscimento di un governo ad interim nella provincia secessionista, al fine di spezzare il paese. Questa opzione è già in corso. L’invasione della Libia è già cominciata.

Centinaia di consiglieri militari statunitensi, francesi e britannici sono arrivati in Cirenaica, la provincia orientale separatista della Libia, … I consiglieri, tra cui ufficiali dei servizi segreti, sono sbarcati da navi da guerra e da motovedette lanciamissili, nelle città costiere di Bengasi e Tobruk” (DEBKAfile, US military advisers in Cyrenaica, 25 febbraio 2011)
Le forze speciali statunitensi e alleate sono sul terreno, in Libia orientale, fornendo sostegno segreto ai ribelli. Ciò è stato riconosciuto quando dei commando inglesi delle forze speciali (SAS) sono stati arrestati nella regione di Bengasi. Agivano come consiglieri militari delle forze di opposizione:

Otto commando delle forze speciali britanniche, in missione segreta per mettere dei diplomatici britannici in contatto con gli avversari principali del Col Muammar Gheddafi in Libia, si è conclusa con un’umiliazione, dopo che sono stati detenuti dalle forze ribelli nella parte orientale della Libia, riportava oggi The Sunday Times. Gli uomini, armati, ma in abiti civili, hanno sostenuto che erano lì per controllare se l’opposizione aveva bisogno di aiuto, e di offrirglielo“. (Top UK commandos captured by rebel forces in Libya: Report, Indian Express, 6 marzo 2011.)

Le forze SAS sono state arrestate mentre scortavano una “rappresentanza diplomatica” britannica, che era entrata illegalmente nel paese (senza dubbio da una nave da guerra britannica) per  discussioni con i leader della ribellione. Il Foreign Office britannico ha riconosciuto che “un piccolo team di diplomatici britannici [era] stato inviato nella Libia orientale per avviare contatti con la l’opposizione in rivolta“. (UK diplomatic team leaves Libya – World – CBC News, 6 marzo 2011).

Ironia della sorte, non solo le relazioni confermano l’intervento militare occidentale (tra cui alcune centinaia di forze speciali), ma anche riconoscono che la ribellione era fermamente contraria alla presenza illegale di truppe straniere sul suolo libico:

L’intervento delle SAS ha fatto arrabbiare degli esponenti dell’opposizione libica, che hanno ordinato ai soldati di rinchiuderli in una base militare. Gli oppositori di Gheddafi temono che possa usare le prove dell’interferenza militare occidentale per avere il sostegno patriottico al suo regime“. (Reuters, 6 marzo 2011)
Il “diplomatico” britannico catturato con sette soldati delle forze speciali, era un membro dell’Intelligence inglese, un agente dell’MI6 in “missione segreta“. (The Sun, 7 marzo 2011)

Confermato dalle dichiarazioni della NATO e degli Stati Uniti, armi sono state fornite alle forze di opposizione. Ci sono indicazioni, anche se  finora nessuna prova evidente, che sono state consegnate armi agli insorti, prima del massacro della ribellione. Con ogni probabilità, I consiglieri militari e dell’intelligence USA-NATO erano presenti sul terreno, anche prima dell’insurrezione. Questo è stato il modello applicato in Kosovo: le forze speciali sostennero e addestrarono l”esercito  di  liberazione del Kosovo (UCK) nei mesi precedenti la campagna di bombardamenti e l’invasione della Jugoslavia del 1999.
Mentre si svolgono gli eventi, tuttavia, le forze del governo libiche hanno ripreso il controllo delle posizioni dei ribelli:

La grande forza offensiva pro-Gheddafi lanciato [Marzo 4] per strappare ai ribelli il controllo delle più importanti città e dei centri petroliferi della Libia, ha portato [il 5 marzo] alla riconquista della città chiave di Zawiya e della maggior parte delle città petrolifere del Golfo della Sirte. A Washington e a Londra, i discorsi per un intervento militare a fianco  dell’opposizione libica, sono stati silenziati dalla consapevolezza che l’intelligence su entrambi i lati del conflitto libico, è troppo imprecisa, per servire come base del processo decisionale.” (Debkafile, Qaddafi pushes rebels back. Obama names Libya intel panel, 5 marzo 2011)

Il movimento di opposizione è fortemente diviso sulla questione di un intervento straniero. La divisione è tra il movimento popolare, da un lato, e i “leader” della insurrezione armata supportati da gli Stati Uniti, che favoriscono l’intervento militare straniero su “basi umanitarie“. La maggioranza della popolazione libica, sia i sostenitori che gli oppositori del regime, sono fermamente contrari a qualsiasi forma di intervento esterno.
 
Disinformazione dei Media

I grandi obiettivi strategici alla base della proposta invasione non sono menzionati dai media. A seguito della campagna ingannevole dei media, in cui le notizie sonio state letteralmente fabbricate, senza riferire su quanto stava realmente accadendo sul terreno, un vasto settore dell’opinione pubblica internazionale ha accordato il suo sostegno inflessibile ad interventi stranieri, per motivi umanitari.
L’invasione è sul tavolo del Pentagono. E’ previsto che verrà effettuata indipendentemente dalle richieste del popolo della Libia, tra cui gli oppositori del regime, che hanno espresso la loro avversione all’intervento militare straniero, in deroga alla sovranità della nazione.

Schieramento delle forze aeronavali

Se questo intervento militare fosse realizzato, sfocerebbe in una guerra totale, una guerra lampo, che implicherebbe il bombardamento di obiettivi militari e civili. A questo proposito, il generale James Mattis, comandante del Comando Centrale Usa, (USCENTCOM), ha lasciato intendere che la creazione di una “no fly zone” includerebbe de facto una campagna di bombardamento, puntando tra l’altro la difesa aerea della Libia:
‘Sarebbe una operazione militare – non sarebbe giusto dire alla gente che si tratta di non far volare degli aeroplani.’ ‘Si dovrebbe eliminare la difesa aerea, al fine di istituire una no-fly zone, quindi non facciamoci illusioni.’ (US general warns no-fly zone could lead to all-out war in Libya, Mail Online, 5 marzo 2011).
Una massiccia potenza navale USA e alleate è stata schierato lungo la coste libiche. Il Pentagono sta muovendo le sue navi da guerra nel Mediterraneo. La portaerei USS Enterprise aveva  attraversato il Canale di Suez pochi giorni dopo l’insurrezione. (Enterprise.navy.mil)

Le navi da assalto anfibio statunitensi, USS Ponce e USS Kearsarge, sono state dispiegate nel Mediterraneo. 400 marinse statunitensi sono stati inviati sull’isola greca di Creta “prima del loro impiego sulle navi da guerra al largo della Libia” (“Operation Libya”: US Marines on Crete for Libyan deployment, Times of Malta, 3 marzo 2011).

Nel frattempo Germania, Francia, Gran Bretagna, Canada e Italia sono in procinto di schierare navi da guerra lungo la coste libiche. La Germania ha dispiegato tre navi da guerra con il pretesto di assistere l’evacuazione dei profughi al confine tra Libia-Tunisia. “La Francia ha deciso di inviare la Mistral, la sua portaelicotteri che, secondo il Ministero della Difesa, contribuirà alla evacuazione di migliaia di egiziani“. (Towards the Coasts of Libya: US, French and British Warships Enter the Mediterranean, Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, 3 marzo 2011)
Il Canada ha inviato (2 marzo) la Fregata HMCS Charlottetown. Nel frattempo, la 17.ma US Air Force, denominata US Air Force Africa con base nella Ramstein Air Force Base, in Germania, assiste l’evacuazione dei rifugiati. USA- Le strutture dell’aviazione USA-NATO in Gran Bretagna, Italia, Francia e Medio Oriente sono in standby.

 

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – Aurora03.da.ru

Less than a dozen years after NATO bombed Yugoslavia into pieces, detaching the province of Kosovo from Serbia, there are signs that the military alliance is gearing up for another victorious little “humanitarian war”, this time against Libya.  The differences are, of course, enormous.  But let’s look at some of the disturbing similarities.

A demonized leader

As “the new Hitler”, the man you love to hate and need to destroy, Slobodan Milosevic was a neophyte in 1999 compared to Muammar Qaddafi today.  The media had less than a decade to turn Milosevic into a monster, whereas with Qaddafi, they’ve been at it for several decades.  And Qaddafi is more exotic, speaking less English and coming before the public in outfits that could have been created by John Galliano (another recently outed monster).  This exotic aspect arouses the ancestral mockery and contempt for lesser cultures with which the West was won, Africa was colonized and the Summer Palace in Beijing was ravaged by Western soldiers fighting to make the world safe for opium addiction. 

The “we must do something” chorus

As with Kosovo, the crisis in Libya is perceived by the hawks as an opportunity to assert power.  The unspeakable John Yoo, the legal advisor who coached the Bush II administration in the advantages of torturing prisoners, has used the Wall Street Journal to advise the Obama administration to ignore the U.N Charter and leap into the Libyan fray. “By putting aside the U.N.’s antiquated rules, the United States can save lives, improve global welfare, and serve its own national interests at the same time,” Yoo proclaimed.  And another leading theorist of humanitarian imperialism, Geoffrey Robertson, has told The Independent that, despite appearances, violating international law is lawful. 

The specter of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” is evoked to justify war.

As with Kosovo, an internal conflict between a government and armed rebels is being cast as a “humanitarian crisis” in which one side only, the government, is assumed to be “criminal”.  This a priori criminalization is expressed by calling on an international judicial body to examine crimes which are assumed to have been committed, or to be about to be committed.  In his Op Ed piece, Geoffrey Robertson made it crystal clear how the International Criminal Court is being used to set the stage for eventual military intervention.  The ICC can be used by the West to get around the risk of a Security Council veto for military action, he explained.

“In the case of Libya , the council has at least set an important precedent by unanimously endorsing a reference to the International Criminal Court. […]  So what happens if the unarrested Libyan indictees aggravate their crimes – eg by stringing up or shooting in cold blood their opponents, potential witnesses, civilians, journalists or prisoners of war?”  [Note that so far there are no “indictees” and no proof of “crimes” that they supposedly may “aggravate” in various imaginary ways.)  But Robertson is eager to find a way for NATO “to pick up the gauntlet” if the Security Council decides to do nothing.]
  
“The defects in the Security Council require the acknowledgement of a limited right, without its mandate, for an alliance like NATO to use force to stop the commission of crimes against humanity. That right arises once the council has identified a situation as a threat to world peace (and it has so identified Libya, by referring it unanimously to the ICC prosecutor).”

Thus referring a country to the ICC prosecutor can be a pretext for waging war against that country!  By the way, the ICC jurisdiction is supposed to apply to States that have ratified the treaty establishing it, which, as I understand, is not the case of Libya – or of the United States.  A big difference, however, is that the United States has been able to persuade, bully or bribe countless signatory States to accept agreements that they will never under any circumstances try to refer any American offenders to the ICC.  That is a privilege denied Qaddafi.

Robertson, a member of the UN justice council, concludes that: “The duty to stop the mass murder of innocents, as best we can if they request our help, has crystallized to make the use of force by Nato not merely ‘legitimate’ but lawful.”

Leftist idiocy

Twelve years ago, most of the European left supported “the Kosovo war” that set NATO on the endless path it now pursues in Afghanistan. Having learned nothing, many seem ready for a repeat performance.  A coalition of parties calling itself the European Left has issued a statement “strongly condemning the repression perpetrated by the criminal regime of Colonel Qaddafi” and urging the European Union “to condemn the use of force and to act promptly to protect the people that are peacefully demonstrating and struggling for their freedom.”  Inasmuch as the opposition to Qaddafi is not merely “peacefully demonstrating”, but in part has taken up arms, this comes down to condemning the use of force by some and not by others – but it is unlikely that the politicians who drafted this statement even realize what they are saying.

The narrow vision of the left is illustrated by the statement in a Trotskyist paper that: “Of all the crimes of Qaddafi, the one that is without doubt the most grave and least known is his complicity with the EU migration policy…”   For the far left, Qaddafi’s biggest sin is cooperating with the West, just as the West is to be condemned for cooperating with Qaddafi.  This is a left that ends up, out of sheer confusion, as cheerleader for war.

Refugees.

The mass of refugees fleeing Kosovo as NATO began its bombing campaign was used to justify that bombing, without independent investigation into the varied causes of that temporary exodus – a main cause probably being the bombing itself. Today, from the way media report on the large number of refugees leaving Libya since the troubles began, the public could get the impression that they are fleeing persecution by Qaddafi.  As is frequently the case, media focuses on the superficial image without seeking explanations.  A bit of reflection may fill the information gap.  It is hardly likely that Qaddafi is chasing away the foreign workers that his regime brought to Libya to carry out important infrastructure projects.  Rather it is fairly clear that some of the “democratic” rebels have attacked the foreign workers out of pure xenophobia.  Qaddafi’s openness to Africans in particular is resented by a certain number of Arabs.  But not too much should be said about this, since they are now our “good guys”.  This is a bit the way Albanian attacks on Roma in Kosovo were overlooked or excused by NATO occupiers on the grounds that “the Roma had collaborated with the Serbs”.

Osama bin Laden

Another resemblance between former Yugoslavia and Libya is that the United States (and its NATO allies) once again end up on the same side as their old friend from Afghan Mujahidin days, Osama bin Laden.  Osama bin Laden was a discreet ally of the Islamist party of Alija Izetbegovic during the Bosnia civil war, a fact that has been studiously overlooked by the NATO powers.  Of course, Western media have largely dismissed Qaddafi’s current claim that he is fighting against bin Laden as the ravings of a madman.  However, the combat between Qaddafi and bin Laden is very real and predates the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.  Indeed, Qaddafi was the first to try to alert Interpol to bin Laden, but got no cooperation from the United States.  In November 2007, the French news agency AFP reported that the leaders of the “Fighting Islamic Group” in Libya announced they were joining Al Qaeda.  Like the Mujahidin who fought in Bosnia, that Libyan Islamist Group was formed in 1995 by veterans of the U.S.-sponsored fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.  Their declared aim was to overthrow Qaddafi in order to establish a radical Islamist state.  The base of radical Islam has always been in the Eastern part of Libya where the current revolt broke out.  Since that revolt does not at all resemble the peaceful mass demonstrations that overthrew dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, but has a visible component of armed militants, it can reasonably be assumed that the Islamists are taking part in the rebellion.

Refusal of negotiations

In 1999, the United States was eager to use the Kosovo crisis to give NATO’s new “out of area” mission its baptism of fire.  The charade of peace talks at Rambouillet was scuttled by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who sidelined more moderate Kosovo Albanian leaders in favor of Hashim Thaci, the young leader of the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, a network notoriously linked to criminal activities.  The Albanian rebels in Kosovo were a mixed bag, but as frequently happens, the US reached in and drew the worst out of that bag.

In Libya, the situation could be even worse. 

My own impression, partly as a result of visiting Tripoli four years ago, is that the current rebellion is a much more mixed bag, with serious potential internal contradictions. Unlike Egypt, Libya is not a populous historic state with thousands of years of history, a strong sense of national identity and a long political culture.  Half a century ago, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and still has not fully emerged from its clan structure. Qaddafi, in his own eccentric way, has been a modernizing factor, using oil revenues to raise the standard of living to one of the highest on the African continent.  The opposition to him comes, paradoxically, both from reactionary traditional Islamists on the one hand, who consider him a heretic for his relatively progressive views, and Westernized beneficiaries of modernization on the other hand, who are embarrassed by the Qaddafi image and want still more modernization.  And there are other tensions that may lead to civil war and even a breakup of the country along geographic lines.

So far, the dogs of war are sniffing around for more bloodshed than has actually occurred.  Indeed, the US escalated the Kosovo conflict in order to “have to intervene”, and the same risks happening now with regard to Libya, where Western ignorance of what they would be doing is even greater.

The Chavez proposal for neutral mediation to avert catastrophe is the way of wisdom.  But in NATOland, the very notion of solving problems by peaceful mediation rather than by force seems to have evaporated.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions.She can be reached at  [email protected]

Rising oil prices threaten to derail the recovery. Oil at $106 per barrel (Monday’s price) is not a problem, but oil at $160 is. With fighting increasing in Libya and social unrest spreading across the Middle East, no one knows where prices will settle. That leaves Fed chairman Ben Bernanke with a tough decision. Should he call off QE2 prematurely and let the stock market drift sideways or go-til-June and hope for the best? If the Fed tightens too early, deflationary pressures will reemerge further straining bank balance sheets and consumer spending. Housing prices will fall sharply and foreclosures will mushroom. But if Bernanke holds-firm with his zero rates and bond buying program–especially when the ECB is raising rates–he could trigger a bond market rout and send the dollar into freefall.


Read Mike Whitney’s chapter in The Global Economic Crisis 

Bernanke has shrugged off the inflationistas saying that core inflation is still hovering at a safe 1 percent. But if oil keeps climbing, consumers will have to cut back on spending just when Obama’s fiscal stimulus is winding down and just as the states are trimming their budgets. That will be a drag on economic activity and slow growth. Business investment will shrink, hiring will sputter, stocks will retreat, and the economy will head back into negative territory. It all depends on the price of oil. Here’s Gluskin Sheff’s David Rosenberg providing a little context to the fact that oil has “doubled” in just two years:

“There have been only five times in the past 70 years when this has happened within a two-year time frame: January 1974, November 1979, September 1990, June 2000, and August 2005. And now, December 2010. . . .

Of the five instances cited above, all but one involved a recession for the U.S. economy and that was in 2005 during the height of the credit and housing boom, which acted as a huge offset. But oil prices did keep rising and managed to outlast the euphoria in credit and residential real estate, so the recession may have been delayed at the peak of the ‘growth rate’ in the oil price, but it was not derailed as history shows.” (The Big Picture)

So spiking oil prices and recessions go hand-in-hand. Accordingly, bond yields have been trending lower anticipating deflation while the shriveling dollar has been steadily slipping for more than a month. All of this is adding to investor anxiety. Wall Street is on tenterhooks waiting to see whether Obama will tap the National Oil Reserve to stop the bleeding or just cross his fingers and hope that the violence subsides before the economy nosedives. And then there’s Bernanke. What will Bernanke do?

Most likely, the Fed chair will stay-the-course as long as possible convinced that deflation is still enemy Number One. But he’s bound to take a lot of heat from critics who point to the tumbling dollar and higher prices at the pump. If the troubles in Libya spread to Saudi Arabia, as now seems likely, all bets are off. Bernanke will have to pull out all the stops to keep the economy from tanking.

Bernanke does have alternatives, although none that assure that the smooth transfer of wealth from worker to banker. (like QE2) He could, for example, appeal to congress for a second round of fiscal stimulus to increase employment, reduce the output gap, and show trading partners that the US is eager to generate more demand for global exports. That would increase goodwill among US allies while building a stronger foundation for growth. To hell with the deficits. When the economy is firing on all 8 pistons and revenues are poring in, the deficits will vanish by themselves.

And there are other options, too, even if Bernanke chooses to stick with monetary policy alone. Here’s a clip form a recent report by Richard Wood titled “Deflation, Debt and Economic Stimulus”:

“The US, Japan, and Ireland are suffering from deficient private demand, rising debt, and a tendency to deflation…..The alternative approach (to quantitative easing) involves the central bank printing new money to directly finance fiscal stimulus. This neglected policy option – apparently largely overlooked by officials during the global economic crisis – is likely to be appropriate for countries where prices are falling (or inflation drops toward zero), private demand is deficient, interest rates are already too low and where public debt is excessive.

If monetary policy is considered on its own then there could be a case for terminating current quantitative easing programmes. This would steer Japan and the US away from the shoals of triple jeopardy (Leijonhufvud 2011).

Quantitative easing could be replaced with a policy of printing new money with an explicit objective to assist in the financing of future budget deficits (see suggested money-financed tax cut: Bernanke 2002 and analysis by Corden 2010). The deployment of new money creation in this manner would take some pressure off the need for severe fiscal austerity measures (at a time when continued stimulus is still required); minimize further increases in public debt; provide clear signals of policy intent (in relation to interest rate objectives, the method of financing deficits and the approach to delivering economic stimulus); and be more effective, have fewer adverse side-effects, and deliver stronger economic stimulus than further quantitative easing.” (“Deflation, Debt and Economic Stimulus”, Richard Wood, VOX)

Ahh, the dreaded monetization of the debt. It’s a bad choice compared to fiscal stimulus, but vastly superior to QE2.

Ask yourself this question: Who benefits from QE2? Bernanke even admitted in an op-ed in the Washington Post that the program was aimed at boosting stock market prices. And former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was even more explicit in an article that will be published in an upcoming issue of International Finance. Here’s what Maestro has to say:

“I still embrace the view I held a couple of years ago, that ‘[w]e tend to think of fluctuations in stock prices in terms of “paper” profits and losses somehow not connected to the real world. But, the evaporation of the value of those “paper claims” can have a profoundly deflationary impact on global economic activity. … [such] that much of the recent decline in global economic activity can be associated directly and indirectly with declining equity values….

‘When we look back on this period, I very much suspect that the force that will be seen to have been most instrumental to global economic recovery will be a partial reversal of the $35 trillion global loss in corporate equity values that has so devastated financial intermediation. A recovery of the equity market driven largely by a receding of fear may well be a seminal turning point of the current crisis.’…

Equity values, in my experience, have been an underappreciated force driving market economies. Only in recent years has their impact been recognized in terms of ‘wealth effects’. This is one form of stimulus that does not require increased debt to fund it….

Despite the surge in corporate cash flow over the last two years and expectations of security analysts of continued gains in profitability, equity premiums remain near a half-century high. This indicates an exceptionally large and presumably unsustainably high discount rate applied to expected future earnings. If the latter holds up, and activism recedes, stock values, of course, would move higher and carry with them a significant wealth effect that should enhance economic activity.

Short of a full-blown Middle East crisis affecting oil prices, a euro crisis and/or a bond market (budget) crisis reminiscent of 1979, the ‘wealth effect’ could effectively substitute private ‘stimulus’ for public.” (“The costs of government activism”, Alan Greenspan, EurekAlert)

There you have it; Fed policy in a nutshell. If you want to reverse deflation and ignite a “global economic recovery”; pump up stock prices. In other words, if we just make the rich even richer, our problems will be solved. What could be simpler?

How is this any different from “trickle down” economics? It’s the same thing, which is to say that QE2 is the same thing. The goal is to increase the “wealth effect” for the investor class to such an extent that the spillover lifts the rest of the economy back to prosperity and growth. It’s baloney. QE2 has done nothing to increase demand or help consumers patch their battered balance sheets. The economy is more vulnerable than ever and skyrocketing oil prices could be the shock that sends the economy skittering back into recession.

Bernanke has other options. It’s just a matter of whose interests he chooses to serve.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: [email protected].

Libya and the Return of Humanitarian Imperialism

March 8th, 2011 by Jean Bricmont

The whole gang is back: The parties of the European Left (grouping the  ”moderate” European communist parties), the “Green” José Bové, now allied with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who has never seen a US-NATO war he didn’t like, various Trotkyist groups and of course Bernard-Henry Lévy and Bernard Kouchner, all calling for some sort of “humanitarian intervention” in Libya or accusing the Latin American left, whose positions  are far more sensible, of acting as “useful idiots” for the “Libyan tyrant.”

Twelve years later, it is Kosovo all over again. Hundred of thousands of Iraqis dead, NATO stranded in an impossible position in Afghanistan, and they have learned nothing! The Kosovo war was made to stop a nonexistent genocide, the Afghan war to protect women (go and check their situation now), and the Iraq war to protect the Kurds. When will they understand that all wars claim to have humanitarian justifications? Even Hitler was “protecting minorities” in Czechoslovakia and Poland.

On the other hand, Robert Gates warns that any future secretary of state who advises a US president to send troops into Asia or Africa “must have his head examined”. Admiral McMullen similarly advises caution. The great paradox of our time is that the headquarters of the peace movement are to be found in the Pentagon and the State Department, while the pro-war party is a coalition of neo-conservatives and liberal interventionists of various stripes, including leftist humanitarian warriors, as well as some Greens, feminists or repentant communists.

So, now, everybody has to cut down his or her consumption because of global warming, but NATO wars are recyclable and imperialism has become part of sustainable development.

Of course the US will go or not go to war for reasons that are quite independent of the advice offered by the pro-war left. Oil is not likely to be a major factor in their decision, because any future Libyan government will have to sell oil and Libya is not big enough to significantly weigh on the price of oil. Of course, turmoil in Libya leads to speculation that itself affects prices, but that is a different matter. Zionists are probably of two minds about Libya: they hate Qaddafi, and would like to see him ousted, like Saddam, in the most humiliating manner, but they are not sure they will like his opposition (and, from the little we know about it, they won’t).

The main pro-war argument is that if things go quickly and easily, it will rehabilitate NATO and humanitarian intervention, whose image has been tarnished by Iraq and Afghanistan. A new Grenada or, at most, a new Kosovo, is exactly what is needed. Another motivation for intervention is to better control the rebels, by coming to “save” them on their march to victory. But that is unlikely to work: Karzai in Afghanistan, the Kosovar nationalists, the Shiites in Iraq and of course Israel, are perfectly happy to get American help, when needed, but after that, to pretty much pursue their own agenda. And a full-fledged military occupation of Libya after its “liberation” is unlikely to be sustainable, which of course makes intervention less attractive from a US point of view.

On the other hand, if things turn badly, it will probably be the beginning of the end of the American empire, hence the caution of people who are actually in charge of it and not merely writing articles in Le Monde or ranting against dictators in front of cameras.

It is difficult for ordinary citizens to know exactly what is going on in Libya, because Western media have thoroughly discredited themselves in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine, and alternative sources are not always reliable either. That of course does not prevent the pro-war left from being absolutely convinced of the truth of the worst reports about Qaddafi, just as they were twelve years ago about Milosevic.

The negative role of the International Criminal Court is again apparent, here, as was that of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in the case of Kosovo. One of the reasons why there was relatively little bloodshed in Tunisia and Egypt is that there was a possible exit for Ben Ali and Mubarak. But “international justice” wants to make sure that no such exit is possible for Qaddafi, and probably for people close to him, hence inciting them to fight to the bitter end.

If “another world is possible”, as the European Left keeps on saying, then another West should be possible and the European Left should start working on that. The recent meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance could serve as an example: the Latin American left wants peace and they want to avoid US intervention, because they know that they are in the sights of the US and that their process of social transformation requires above all peace and national sovereignty. Hence, they suggest sending an international delegation, possibly led by Jimmy Carter (hardly a stooge of Qaddafi), in order to start a negotiation process between the government and the rebels. Spain has expressed interest in the idea, which is of course rejected by Sarkozy. This proposition may sound utopian, but it might not be so if it were supported by the full weight of the United Nations. That would be the way to fulfill its mission, but it is now made impossible by US and Western influence. However, it is not impossible that now, or in some future crisis, a non-interventionist coalition of nations, including Russia, China, Latin America and maybe others, may work together to build credible alternatives to Western interventionism.

Unlike the Latin American left, the pathetic European version has lost all sense of what it means to do politics. It does not try to propose concrete solutions to problems, and is only able to take moral stances, in particular denouncing dictators and human rights violations in grandiloquent tones. The social democratic left follows the right with at best a few years delay and has no ideas of its own. The “radical” left often manages both to denounce Western governments in every possible way and to demand that those same governments intervene militarily around the globe to defend democracy. Their lack of political reflection makes them highly vulnerable to disinformation campaigns and to becoming passive cheerleaders of US-NATO wars.

That left has no coherent program and would not know what to do even if a god put them into power. Instead of “supporting” Chavez and the Venezuelan Revolution, a meaningless claim some love to repeat, they should humbly learn from them and, first of all, relearn what it means to do politics.

Jean Bricmont teaches physics in Belgium and is  a member of the Brussels Tribunal. His book, Humanitarian  Imperialism, is published by Monthly Review Press. He can  be reached at Jean.[email protected].

International Women’s Day

March 8th, 2011 by Global Research

Top Economists: Trust is Necessary for a Stable Economy … But Trust Won’t Be Restored Until We Prosecute Wall Street Fraud

Most policy makers still don’t understand the urgent need to restore trust in our financial system, or the need to prosecute Wall Street executives for fraud and other criminal wrongdoing.

But top economists have been saying for well over a decade that trust is necessary for a stable economy, and that prosecuting the criminals Is necessary to restore trust.

Trust is Necessary for a Stable Economy

In his influential 1993 book Making Democracy Work, Robert Putnam showed how civic attitudes and trust could account for differences in the economic and government performance between northern and southern Italy.

Political economist Francis Fukiyama wrote a book called Trust in 1995, arguing that the most pervasive cultural characteristic influencing a nation’s prosperity and ability to compete is the level of trust or cooperative behavior based upon shared norms. He stated that the United States, like Japan and Germany, has been a high-trust society historically but that this status has eroded in recent years.

In 1998, Paul Zak (Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and a senior researcher at UCLA) and Stephen Knack (a Lead Economist in the World Bank’s Research Department and Public Sector Governance Department) wrote a paper called Trust and Growth, arguing:

Adam Smith (1997 [1766]) observed notable differences across nations in the ‘probity’ and ‘punctuality’ of their populations. For example, the Dutch ‘are the most faithful to their word.’John Stuart Mill wrote: ‘There are countries in Europe . . . where the most serious impediment to conducting business concerns on a large scale, is the rarity of persons who are supposed fit to be trusted with the receipt and expenditure of large sums of money’ (Mill, 1848, p. 132).

Enormous differences across countries in the propensity to trust others survive
today.

***

Trust is higher in ‘fair’ societies.

***

High trust societies produce more output than low trust societies. A fortiori, a sufficient amount of trust may be crucial to successful development. Douglass North (1990, p. 54) writes,

The inability of societies to develop effective, lowcost enforcement of contracts is the most important source of both historical stagnation and contemporary underdevelopment in the Third World.

***

If trust is too low in a society, savings will be insufficient to sustain
positive output growth. Such a poverty trap is more likely when institutions -
both formal and informal – which punish cheaters are weak.

Heap, Tan and Zizzo and others have come to similar conclusions.

In 2001, Zak and Knack showed that “strengthening the rule of law, reducing inequality, and by facilitating interpersonal understanding” all increase trust. They conclude:

Our analysis shows that trust can be raised directly by increasing communication and education, and indirectly by strengthening formal institutions that enforce contracts and by reducing income inequality. Among the policies that impact these factors, only education, redistributive transfers, and freedom satisfy the efficiency criterion which compares the cost of policies with the benefits citizens receive in terms of higher living standards. Further, our analysis suggests that good policy initiates a virtuous circle: policies that raise trust efficiently, improve living standards, raise civil liberties, enhance institutions, and reduce corruption, further raising trust. Trust, democracy, and the rule of law are thus the foundation of abiding prosperity.

“Enforcing contracts”, “raising civil liberties”, and “reducing corruption” and “democracy” all have to do with the rule of law, which – as discussed below – in turn, means prosecuting violations of the law. Likewise, by “enhancing institutions”, they mean regulatory and justice systems which enforce contracts and prosecute cheaters.

And while Zak and Knack appear to favor redistribution of wealth, fighting inequality does not have to offend conservative values. As I recently pointed out, conservatives are against rampant inequality, and prosecuting fraud is the best way to reduce inequality:

Robert Shiller [one of the top housing economists in the United States] said in 2009:

And it’s not like we want to level income. I’m not saying spread the wealth around, which got Obama in trouble. But I think, I would hope that this would be a time for a national consideration about policies that would focus on restraining any possible further increases in inequality.

***

If we stop bailing out the fraudsters and financial gamblers, the big banks would focus more on traditional lending and less on speculative plays which only make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and which guarantee future economic crises (which hurt the poor more than the rich).

***

Moreover, both conservatives and liberals agree that we need to prosecute financial fraud. As I’ve previously noted, fraud disproportionally benefits the big players, makes boom-bust cycles more severe, and otherwise harms the economy – all of which increase inequality and warp the market.

So once again, we are back to the importance of prosecuting fraud.

A 2005 letter in premier scientific journal Nature reviewed the research on trust and economics:

Trust … plays a key role in economic exchange and politics. In the absence of trust among trading partners, market transactions break down. In the absence of trust in a country’s institutions and leaders, political legitimacy breaks down. Much recent evidence indicates that trust contributes to economic, political and social success.

Forbes wrote an article in 2006 entitled “The Economics of Trust”. The article summarizes the importance of trust in creating a healthy economy:

Imagine going to the corner store to buy a carton of milk, only to find that the refrigerator is locked. When you’ve persuaded the shopkeeper to retrieve the milk, you then end up arguing over whether you’re going to hand the money over first, or whether he is going to hand over the milk. Finally you manage to arrange an elaborate simultaneous exchange. A little taste of life in a world without trust–now imagine trying to arrange a mortgage.

Being able to trust people might seem like a pleasant luxury, but economists are starting to believe that it’s rather more important than that. Trust is about more than whether you can leave your house unlocked; it is responsible for the difference between the richest countries and the poorest.

“If you take a broad enough definition of trust, then it would explain basically all the difference between the per capita income of the United States and Somalia,” ventures Steve Knack, a senior economist at the World Bank who has been studying the economics of trust for over a decade. That suggests that trust is worth $12.4 trillion dollars a year to the U.S., which, in case you are wondering, is 99.5% of this country’s income.

***

Above all, trust enables people to do business with each other. Doing business is what creates wealth.

***

Economists distinguish between the personal, informal trust that comes from being friendly with your neighbors and the impersonal, institutionalized trust that lets you give your credit card number out over the Internet.

In 2007, Yann Algan (Professor of Economics at Paris School of Economics and University Paris East) and Pierre Cahuc (Professor of Economics at the Ecole Polytechnique (Paris)) reported:

We find a significant impact of trust on income per capita for 30 countries over the period 1949-2003.

Similarly, market psychologists Richard L. Peterson M.D. and Frank Murtha, PhD noted in 2008

Trust is the oil in the engine of capitalism, without it, the engine seizes up.

Confidence is like the gasoline, without it the machine won’t move.

Trust is gone: there is no longer trust between counterparties in the financial system. Furthermore, confidence is at a low. Investors have lost their confidence in the ability of shares to provide decent returns (since they haven’t).

In 2009, Paola Sapienza (ssociate professor of finance and the Zell Center Faculty Fellow at Northwestern University) and Luigi Zingales (Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business) pointed out:

The drop in trust, we believe, is a major factor behind the deteriorating economic conditions. To demonstrate its importance, we launched the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index. Our first set of data—based on interviews conducted at the end of December 2008—shows that between September and December, 52 percent of Americans lost trust in the banks. Similarly, 65 percent lost trust in the stock market. A BBB/Gallup poll that surveyed a similar sample of Americans last April confirms this dramatic drop. At that time, 42 percent of Americans trusted financial institutions, versus 34 percent in our survey today, while 53 percent said they trusted U.S. companies, versus just 12 percent today.

As trust declines, so does Americans’ willingness to invest their money in the financial system. Our data show that trust in the stock market affects people’s intention to buy stocks, even after accounting for expectations of future stock-market performance. Similarly, a person’s trust in banks predicts the likelihood that he will make a run on his bank in a moment of crisis: 25 percent of those who don’t trust banks withdrew their deposits and stored them as cash last fall, compared with only 3 percent of those who said they still trusted the banks. Thus, trust in financial institutions is a key factor for the smooth functioning of capital markets and, by extension, the economy. Changes in trust matter.

They quote a Nobel laureate economist on the subject:

“Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust,” writes economist Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel laureate. When we deposit money in a bank, we trust that it’s safe. When a company orders goods, it trusts its counterpart to deliver them in good faith. Trust facilitates transactions because it saves the costs of monitoring and screening; it is an essential lubricant that greases the wheels of the economic system.

In 2009, Time Magazine pointed out:

Traditionally, gold has been a store of value when citizens do not trust their government politically or economically.

In other words, the government’s political actions affect investments, such as gold, and thus the broader economy.

In 2010, a distinguished international group of economists (Giancarlo Corsetti, Michael P. Devereux, Luigi Guiso, John Hassler, Gilles Saint-Paul, Hans-Werner Sinn, Jan-Egbert Sturm and Xavier Vives) wrote:

Public distrust of bankers and financial markets has risen dramatically with the financial crisis. This column argues that this loss of trust in the financial system played a critical role in the collapse of economic activity that followed. To undo the damage, financial regulation needs to focus on restoring that trust.

They noted:

Trust is crucial in many transactions and certainly in those involving financial exchanges. The massive drop in trust associated with this crisis will therefore have important implications for the future of financial markets. Data show that in the late 1970s, the percentage of people who reported having full trust in banks, brokers, mutual funds or the stock market was around 40%; it had sunk to around 30% just before the crisis hit, and collapsed to barely 5% afterwards. It is now even lower than the trust people have in other people (randomly selected of course).

Prosecuting the Criminals Is Necessary to Restore Trust

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t recover:

The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.

***

I think we ought to go do what we did in the S&L [crisis] and actually put many of these guys in prison. Absolutely. These are not just white-collar crimes or little accidents. There were victims. That’s the point. There were victims all over the world.

***

Economists focus on the whole notion of incentives. People have an incentive sometimes to behave badly, because they can make more money if they can cheat. If our economic system is going to work then we have to make sure that what they gain when they cheat is offset by a system of penalties.

Robert Shiller said recently that failing to address the legal issues will cause Americans to lose faith in business and the government:

Shiller said the danger of foreclosuregate — the scandal in which it has come to light that the biggest banks have routinely mishandled homeownership documents, putting the legality of foreclosures and related sales in doubt — is a replay of the 1930s, when Americans lost faith that institutions such as business and government were dealing fairly.

Economists such as William Black and James Galbraith agree. Galbraith says:

There will have to be full-scale investigation and cleaning up of the residue of that, before you can have, I think, a return of confidence in the financial sector. And that’s a process which needs to get underway.

Galbraith also says that economists should move into the background, and “criminologists to the forefront”.

Government regulators know this – or at least pay lip service to it – as well. For example, as the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division told Congress:

Recovery from the fallout of the financial crisis requires important efforts on various fronts, and vigorous enforcement is an essential component, as aggressive and even-handed enforcement will meet the public’s fair expectation that those whose violations of the law caused severe loss and hardship will be held accountable. And vigorous law enforcement efforts will help vindicate the principles that are fundamental to the fair and proper functioning of our markets: that no one should have an unjust advantage in our markets; that investors have a right to disclosure that complies with the federal securities laws; and that there is a level playing field for all investors.

Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has demonstrated that failure to punish white collar criminals – and instead bailing them out- creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future. Indeed, William Black notes that we’ve known of this dynamic for “hundreds of years”. And see this, this, this and this.

Of course, it’s not just economists saying this.

One of the leading business schools in America – the Wharton School of Business – published an essay by a psychologist on the causes and solutions to the economic crisis. Wharton points out that restoring trust is the key to recovery, and that trust cannot be restored until wrongdoers are held accountable:

According to David M. Sachs, a training and supervision analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, the crisis today is not one of confidence, but one of trust. “Abusive financial practices were unchecked by personal moral controls that prohibit individual criminal behavior, as in the case of [Bernard] Madoff, and by complex financial manipulations, as in the case of AIG.” The public, expecting to be protected from such abuse, has suffered a trauma of loss similar to that after 9/11. “Normal expectations of what is safe and dependable were abruptly shattered,” Sachs noted. “As is typical of post-traumatic states, planning for the future could not be based on old assumptions about what is safe and what is dangerous. A radical reversal of how to be gratified occurred.”

People now feel more gratified saving money than spending it, Sachs suggested. They have trouble trusting promises from the government because they feel the government has let them down.

He framed his argument with a fictional patient named Betty Q. Public, a librarian with two teenage children and a husband, John, who had recently lost his job. “She felt betrayed because she and her husband had invested conservatively and were double-crossed by dishonest, greedy businessmen, and now she distrusted the government that had failed to protect them from corporate dishonesty. Not only that, but she had little trust in things turning around soon enough to enable her and her husband to accomplish their previous goals.

“By no means a sophisticated economist, she knew … that some people had become fantastically wealthy by misusing other people’s money — hers included,” Sachs said. “In short, John and Betty had done everything right and were being punished, while the dishonest people were going unpunished.”

Helping an individual recover from a traumatic experience provides a useful analogy for understanding how to help the economy recover from its own traumatic experience, Sachs pointed out. The public will need to “hold the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible and take what actions they can to prevent them from harming the economy again.” In addition, the public will have to see proof that government and business leaders can behave responsibly before they will trust them again, he argued.

Note that Sachs urges “hold[ing] the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible.” In other words, just “looking forward” and promising to do things differently isn’t enough.

As Wall Street insider and New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin writes:

“They will pick on minor misdemeanors by individual market participants,” said David Einhorn, the hedge fund manager who was among the Cassandras before the financial crisis. To Mr. Einhorn, the government is “not willing to take on significant misbehavior by sizable” firms. “But since there have been almost no big prosecutions, there’s very little evidence that it has stopped bad actors from behaving badly.”

***

Fraud at big corporations surely dwarfs by orders of magnitude the shareholders’ losses of $8 billion that Mr. Holder highlighted. If the government spent half the time trying to ferret out fraud at major companies that it does tracking pump-and-dump schemes, we might have been able to stop the financial crisis, or at least we’d have a fighting chance at stopping the next one.

And as a former congressional aide recently said in some of the most colorful language to date:

“You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take. Just once.”

Bradley Manning is accused of leaking documents that described serious flaws in U.S. foreign policy in an effort to start a debate that would lead to a more perfect union.  This patriotism for America has resulted in him being denied due process and treated inhumanely — virtual solitary confinement for ten months and now forced nudity.  The actions of the government are inconsistent with the rhetoric of President Obama and Secretary Clinton; and inconsistent with what the U.S. Constitution requires.

Reports that Bradley Manning is being held nude every night at the Quantico Brig, then forced to stand naked in the hallway while he waits for his clothes, shows the inconsistency of the treatment of Manning with basic American values of due process, fair trial and human dignity.

Here is how his lawyer David Coombs describes his treatment:

“The Brig has stripped PFC Manning of all of his clothing for the past three nights, and they intend to continue this practice indefinitely.  Each night, Brig guards force PFC Manning to relinquish all of his clothing.  He then lies in a cold jail cell naked until the following morning, when he is required to endure the humiliation of standing naked at attention for the morning roll call.  According to Marine spokesperson, First Lieutenant Brian Villiard, the decision to strip him naked every night is for PFC Manning’s own protection.  Villiard stated that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to explain what prompted these actions ‘because to discuss the details would be a violation of PFC Manning’s privacy.’”

Manning, who has not been convicted of anything, has been held in virtual solitary confinement for ten months. David House who has visited him since September described him as “emotionally exhausted” and “catatonic.” The Constitution declares a right to bail, yet Manning who is not a risk of flight is denied bail.  Americans are required to be provided due process of law and a trial before a jury of their peers before being punished.   There is no provision in the Constitution allowing punishment before trial yet Manning is being punished.

Why is Manning being treated this way?  Because this young American allegedly saw crimes being committed in U.S. foreign policy and after trying to report them to his commander, with no good result, supposedly realized he had to get the information to the public. We are living in a time of myths and lies, and, as George Orwell aptly wrote: “In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  Manning allegedly let out the truth and is now paying the price.

Manning shows the true meaning of patriotism. Patriotism is not blind nationalism.  If Manning is guilty of what he is accused of, he sought to make the country more fair and just in the best traditions of America. He sought to make us a “more perfect union,” a concept enshrined in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.  The idea of creating a better country is sung about in “America the Beautiful:”

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Manning is now being punished for allegedly disclosing the flaws of U.S. foreign policy in order to mend them.  He is a young man from Oklahoma who voluntarily joined the U.S. Army.  Manning believed the United States played a positive role in the world and was not anti-military.  He volunteered to serve his country, in doing so he saw how the U.S. conducts its military and foreign policy. He saw war crimes, violations of law and constant deception.   Manning is a principled American who wants his country to be all it promises to be but is not.

Manning was ordered “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians” to the government the United State put in power and he saw they “were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.”  He examined what 15 Iraqi prisoners who were being tortured had done and found they were accused of printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” In fact, the literature was merely a scholarly critique of corruption in the government that asked “Where did the money go?”  He brought his concerns to the chain of command and was told to “shut up” and find more detainees. Evidently, Manning realized he “was actively involved in something that I was completely against…”

According to the unverified chat logs with the informant Adrian Lamo, Manning said that he hoped the publication of the documents and videos would spur “worldwide discussion, debates, and reform.” He went on to say, “I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” He had already learned that the command structure would not listen, so Manning went beyond them to the people who are supposed to control the military in our democratic republic. He wanted Americans to know the truth.

The WikiLeaks documents that Manning allegedly released did help spur dramatic change by providing much-needed information about abusive security-state governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain among others.  It is disgraceful that America – which constantly proclaims itself as supporting democracy around the world – is now punishing Manning without trial for allegedly providing information that did so much for democracy and ending security state regimes around the world. 

Manning now faces charges that include the potential of capital punishment.  He was charged with 22 additional counts for his alleged role in a massive leak of classified information to WikiLeaks, including a charge of “aiding the enemy” that can result in the death penalty.  This charge is particularly disturbing as Glenn Greenwald points out: “This prosecution theory would convert acts of whistle-blowing into a hanging offense.” 

This is particularly ironic since the former constitutional law professor who is now the U.S.  president, said in 2008 when he was running for office “Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.”  Further, as Secretary of State Clinton reminded us a speech on Internet freedom, when President Obama spoke in China, “he spoke about how access to information helps citizens hold their own governments accountable. . . .”

Indeed, Hillary Clinton is lecturing the world on the importance of freedom of speech and press in the Internet age saying these are “values etched in stone” that “every generation of Americans has worked to protect.”  Last month, in her second speech on freedom in the 21st Century she stated “We govern with the consent of the people, and that consent must be informed to be meaningful.” She applauded people around the world who used the Internet to “expose public corruption” and criticized countries that attempt to restrict the free flow of information. She proclaimed “Governments have to choose to live up to their commitments to protect free expression, assembly, and association.”

How are the statements of President Obama and Secretary Clinton consistent with charging Manning with a death penalty offense based on allegations of leaking documents that showed war crimes as well as crimes by U.S. diplomats?  How is it consistent with the rule of law to punish Manning before he is convicted and hold him in solitary confinement with forced nudity? Doesn’t the United States like other countries need informed citizens who can hold their government accountable?

The president and secretary of state should apply the standards they tell the rest of the world to live up to, to the United States and in particular to Bradley Manning.  If they did not only would he be released on bail but the charges against him would be dropped and he would be proclaimed a hero for living up to the greatest ideals of patriotic Americans, generations of whom have worked to create a more perfect union.

Kevin Zeese serves on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

The Causes of the Global Financial Crisis

March 7th, 2011 by Dr. John Jiggens

The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the 21st Century
Edited by Michael Chossudovsky & Andrew Gavin Marshall
Global Research, 2010

The Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), based in Montreal, runs a website that publishes in-depth analysis of economic and strategic issues aimed to counter that offered by the mainstream media.

The Global Economic Crisis is a collection of such articles by regular contributors to the CRG website, such as James Petras, Peter Dale Scott and Michel Chossudovsky, which looks at the current economic crisis.

It also looks at the accompanying worldwide process of militarisation — a “war without borders”, the Pentagon’s “long war” — which is intimately related to the neoliberal restructuring of the global economy that has produced the economic crisis.

The contributors to The Global Economic Crisis reinsert class and politics into discussion of the economy.

While mainstream economics is presented as a neutral science, purified of class and political elements — the mythology of the self-regulating market — the contributors reveal the invisible hand of the capitalist class, hidden behind the veil of the market and competition.

They argue that the global financial crisis did not begin with the 2008 meltdown. It was deeply rooted in major changes to the global economy and financial architecture implemented since the 1980s.

This was the outcome of the process of financial deregulation and macroeconomic reform, presided over by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

The expansion of world capitalism (globalisation) depended on a global cheap labour economy.

The development of industrial colonies in the Third World resulted in the relocation of industries to these countries, leading to job lay-offs and the outright closure of a wide range of productive industries in the developed countries.

In the absence of meaningful state regulation, this relentless process of minimising labour costs led to a dramatic compression of society’s capacity to consume.

People were impoverished not as a result of a scarcity of productive resources but because productive activities are closed down — causing a collapse in aggregate demand.

Mass poverty and a worldwide decline in living standards have been the result of this global cheap labour economy.

The exploitation of the huge labour forces in China, India and elsewhere — and the pillage and transfer of billions from ex-communist Russia and “neo-liberalised” South America — filled the coffers of old financial institutions.

Huge surplus profits spilled over into finance, real estate, and insurance, giving capital greater social and political power. This dwarfed the organisation of labour, limiting its bargaining power and multiplying profits.

The state and state policy became their instrument as public enterprises, land, resources and banks were privatised.

This speculative onslaught, a worldwide scramble to appropriate wealth through financial manipulation, has been the driving force behind the crisis.

Pillage, rents and contraband capital produced a vast new source of financial profits and liquidity.

The incapacity of the capitalist system to reinvest capital in productive ways led to large scale growth of speculator capital in many forms.

This inflated prices in real estate, commodities, hedge funds, securities, mergers and acquisitions. Profits were bolstered via inflated real estate based on expanded credit, highly leveraged debt and outright fraudulent “financial instruments”.

Real estate speculation was extended into the working class as wage and salary earners took advantage of easy loans to join the speculation frenzy based on an ideology of irreversible rising home values.

Workers were compensated by cheap consumer imports produced by low-wage labour forces in newly industrial countries and access to easy credit at home. Double incomes also cushioned the effect of (relatively) declining wages.

The over-accumulation was rooted in the most fundamental capitalist relation: the contradiction between private ownership and social production.

Editor Michael Chossudovsky said the September-October 2008 financial meltdown had nothing to do with free market forces.

It was not the consequence of a cyclical downturn of economic activity, but the result of a complex process of financial manipulation, including speculative trade in derivatives.

These speculative operations drove the market up at opportune moments and then drove it down.

Those who have access to privileged information — political, intelligence and military — had the upper hand in the conduct of these highly leveraged speculative transactions. In turn, private and offshore banking enabled the profit to be transferred from one location to the other.

The financial markets triggered the collapse of listed companies through short selling and other speculative operations. They then cashed in through buying the profitable operations of the bankrupted operations.

Having caused the financial meltdown, they have cashed in with windfall gains through the bailout money provided under the Bush and Obama administration bank bailouts. This has furthered their control over the real economy, by buying up and acquiring real economic assets; as once highly profitable companies collapse, the money managers pick up the pieces.

The Bush/Obama bailout measures will contribute to a further destabilisation by transferring large amounts of money at taxpayers’ expense into the hands of private financiers, resulting in a spiralling public debt and an unprecedented centralisation of banking power.

State-owned assets and everything under state jurisdiction is up for private acquisition as the financial establishment calls for the restructuring and privatisation of state assets.

What we are dealing with is a large-scale process of appropriation, unprecedented in history.

It is impossible in a short review to deal with all the issues raised in this thought-provoking book. Besides the section on the financial crisis, there are detailed and informed sections on global poverty, war, national security and world governance, the global monetary system and the shadow banking system.

Српско убеђење да може да „задржи“ Косово и да уђе у ЕУ је погрешно, саопштио је француски дипломата својим америчким колегама у Фебруару 2010 – према  „Викиликс- компромитованим“ дипломатским изворима. Београд мора да разговара са Приштином о кључним питањима, као што је законодавство, полиција, царина,  такође о терминологији и називима, што  све треба да се спроведе у „живот“  од стране ЕУ мисије на Косову, у складу са законима.

„На крају дана, свакако,“ нагласио је високи званичник француског министарства спољних послова Роланд Галаруг, „Србија ће морати да призна Косово као независну државу, ако жели да уђе у ЕУ.“

Галаруг је саопштио америчким дипломатама у Паризу, да Америка и ЕУ морају да делују заједно да „обесхрабре“ Београд у „размишљању“ да може да „има“ оба:  и Косово и ЕУ чланство, и посебно је захтевао од американаца подршку да обесхрабре Српске званичнике  од пропозиције нове косовске резолуције у УН.

Он је предвидео да ће Србија наставити да „гура“ своју резолуцију, која ће онда морати да буде заустављена од стране ЕУ и САД. На крају је, као што је познато, Београд је „одустао“ од своје резолуције пред Саветом Безбедности УН, који је захтевао извештај о статусу „разговора“, и уместо властите резолуције, поднео резолуцију у складу са захтевом ЕУ, која је просто и једино захтевала наставак „дијалога“, без покретања питања званичног статуса Косова.

Галаруг је објаснио да ЕУ није формално повезала Српско признавање косовске „државе“ и чланство у ЕУ, али је свима чињенично стање (косовске независности) „потпуно јасно.“ „Не постоји формално условљавање,“ казао је Галаруг, додајући „да Срби сада ипак разумеју да ако желе да постану члан ЕУ, мораће да евентуално признају Косово,“ сазнајемо из компромитованих америчких дипломатских извора.

Превод: Миодраг Новаковић

Tekst na srpskom jeziku možete naći na http://www.vidovdan.org/2010-04-26-12-27-13/48-vesti/5211-2010-12-12-12-47-43

Originalni tekst možete naći na Balkan Insight i Globalresearch.ca

Vankuverski skandal: Suspenzija “slobode govora”

March 7th, 2011 by Diana Johnstone

AМЕРИЧКОМ НАУЧНИКУ СРПСКОГ ПОРЕКЛА ЗАБРАЊЕН УЛАЗАК У КАНАДУ

Нисам једина особа која је крајње запрепашћена чињеницом да је др Срђи Трифковићу забрањен улазак у Канаду. Та невероватна одлука је још више скандалозна по томе што је то био „ад-хок“ одговор на кампању мржње од стране самопрокламованих представника једне босанске етничке групе, која је на тај начин спроводила освету против друге етничке босанске групе. Да ли се на тај начин у Канади схвата појам „мултикултуризма“?

Протеривање мирољубивог говорника је у супротности са демократским принципима, које западне НАТО силе, укључујући Канаду, стално набијају на нос остатку света. Тако нешто је несхватљиво, без обзира на створену климу око овог инцидента. Шта више, након проучавања свих чињеница, овај случај постаје још „гори“…

Кампања мржње наручена против др Трифковића од стране одређених група које тврде да представљају босанске муслимане је заснована на искривљивању истине, лажима и провидним аргументима. Овако нешто тврдим као неко који ни приближно не дели исто политичко мишљење или верске ставове са др Трифковићем, али као неко ко разуме да он овде брани своја уверења са снажним интелектуалним интегритетом, који истовремено потпуно недостаје код оних који га нападају.

Шта више, ја често сматрам да је процена др Трифковића о наводној муслиманској претњи Западу, неумесна или претерана. У овом случају, начин на који је он третиран од стране канадске државе, као одговор на притужбе муслиманског лобија, сам по себи обезбеђује неочекивану подршку његовим аргументима.

Питање око кога се ја слажем са др Трифковићем, јесте управо питање због кога је он изложен овако суровим нападима: Питање Сребренице. Овде желим да укажем на сву двосмисленост израза „негирање геноцида“, који се користи за карактеризацију позиције др Трифковића по питању Сребренице.

Та двосмисленост се тиче разлике између чињеница и интерпретације чињеница. Овде инсистирам да свако може да има право – да не буде у праву, по том питању; Канада не може да избаци са своје територије све људе који стално изврћу чињенице, или их погрешно интерпретирају. Зато овде желим да укажем на ту различитост.

По питању Сребренице, чињенице су делимично установљене, делимично су оспораване, и делимично непознате. То је због тога што  материјални докази нису тако јасни и темељно истражени- бар не онако како се то представља у јавности. Независна истраживања је било тешко спровести, али су до сада неке чињенице непобитно установљене. Пратећи пад Сребренице у јулу 1995, било је доста муслиманских жртава, неки од њих су били погубљени, у супротности са међународним конвенцијама. То су били масакри који су се одиграли у контексту крвавог грађанског рата између три стране, и у коме су све три стране чиниле сличне масакре.

Опис масакра који су се десили у Сребреници као „геноцида“ није чињеница, већ интерпретација тог догађаја. Таква интерпретација се одржава на проблематичном питању „намере извршења…“. Према неким посматрачима, укључујући мене, злочин геноцида подразумева намеру да се истреби целокупно становништво, и не може бити почињен ако се поштеде жене и деца. Српске снаге, које су освојиле Сребреницу, су помогле женама, деци и старцима да напусте ратну зону и докопају се безбедног уточишта. Погубљење заробљених мушкараца војног доба може лако да се објасни као  освета и жеља да се ослаби војни потенцијал непријатеља. То је свакако ратни злочин, али не може да буде „геноцид“.

Међународни трибунал за бившу Југославију у Хагу, који је углавном кадровски попуњен и финансиран од стране НАТО земаља које су се ставиле на страну муслимана у грађанским ратовима у Босни, је измислио начин да опише Сребреницу као „геноцид“, тако што је урадио „редефиницију“ самог термина „геноцида“. Панел од три судије је прихватио теорију социолога да су убијањем свих мушкараца, Срби имали намеру да почине „локални геноцид“, с обзиром да у „патријархалном“ друштву, жене неће моћи више да се врате назад без својих мушкараца. То није опште прихваћена дефиниција „геноцида“. Тиме је Хашки Трибунал на префињен начин обмануо јавност, да би оправдао војну интервенцију НАТО-а у бившој Југославији против Срба, којима је на тај начин прикачена стигма „геноцидног народа“.

Етикетирање Срба као „геноцидног народа“ (које лако може да се протумачи као подстицање расне мржње) је главна препрека да се дође до трајног мира и помирења између народа у Босни и Херцеговини, сада већ више од 15 година након престанка рата. Поражавајуће је да канадска влада данас делује на начин који само може да доведе до даљег увећања опасних тензија.

„Бошњачки“ лоби се овде користи широким игноранством и конфузијом у НАТО земљама, који су везани за југословенске ратове дезинтеграције, да би постигао своју прикривену политичку агенду под маском „указивања поштовања према жртвама геноцида“. У стварности, њихова активност, нема везе са страдалима мушкарцима. Она је много више усмерена на негирање легитимитета српског ентитета, Републике Српске, у Босни и Херцеговини, који је установљен амерички спонзорисаним Дејтонским Споразумом из 1995, који окончао рат у Босни. Сврха деловања „Бошњачког“ лобија је ревизија Дејтонског Споразума, да би се укинула Република Српска и извршила централизација Босне и Херцеговине, која би онда била под пуном контролом муслиманске стране, с обзиром на опште прихваћену „чињеницу“ да муслимани чине благу демографску већину. Узимајући у обзир то да босански Срби, православни хришћани, још увек одржавају у свом историјском памћењу прошлост из времена Отоманске Империје, када су били грађани другог реда- код њих данас и даље постоји страх, оправдан или не, да ће у таквој муслимански доминантној Босни бити враћени у претходни инфериорни статус.

Ја као неко ко није Србин, и ко нема такво искуство, можда могу и да сматрам такав страх претераним; Али је дубоко лицемерно за Запад да очекује од Срба да буду једини „Западњаци“, који ће са добродошлицом да прихвате муслиманску власт на својим историјским просторима.

Превод: Миодраг Новаковић

Tekst na srpskom jeziku možete naći na http://www.vidovdan.org/2010-04-04-22-59-05/9697-2011-03-05-11-15-48

Originalni tekst možete naći na Globalresearch.ca

Kakva je sramota biti Amerikanac…

March 7th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Vlada Sjedinjenih Država je precenila količinu sramote koju ona i američki građani mogu da podnesu. Dana 15. februara “neophodna nacija” morala je da pretrpi licemerni govor američkog državnog sekretara o posvećenosti Amerike slobodi interneta, dok u isto vreme Ministarstvo pravde SAD (sic!) donosi neustavni akt protiv Tvitera radi otkrivanja bilo kakve veze između Vikiliksa i Bredlija Meninga, američkog heroja koji je, u skladu sa pravilom američke vojske, obelodanio ratne zločine američke vlade i koga drže u zatvorskim uslovima koji nisu dopušteni Ustavom SAD. Korumpirana američka vlada pokušava da oformi predmet protiv DŽulijana Asanža pozivajući se na “zaveru” ne bi li ga kaznila zbog objavljivanja dokumenata američke vlade koji bez trunke sumnje dokazuju lažljivost američke vlade.

Sve ovo je prilično loše, ali bledi u poređenju sa navodima koje je 15. februara objavio britanski list Gardijan. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/15/curveball-iraqi-fantasist-cia-saddam)

Gardijan donosi intervju sa ’Karvbolom’ (‘Curveball’), šifrovanim imenom za izvor koji je poslužio državnom sekretaru SAD Kolinu Pauelu za govor o iračkom oružju za masovno uništenje u Ujedinjenim nacijama, prepunom lagarija.

Pauelov govor je pripremio teren za protivzakonitu invaziju Amerike na Irak. Gardijan opisuje Karvbola kao “čoveka koji je izveo jednu od najvećih smicalica u vezi sa izigravanjem poverenja u novijoj istoriji obaveštajne delatnosti.” Kao što Gardijan kaže, Karvbol je “izmislio priču o hororu.”

Američki “obaveštajci” nikad nisu ni intervjuisali Karvbola. Amerikanci su započeli rat na osnovu second-hand informacija koje im je servirala nekompetentna nemačka obaveštajna služba, i pali su na Karvbolove laži kojima nemačka obaveštajna služba danas ne veruje.

Celi svet danas zna da Sadam Husein nije imao oružje za masovno uništenje (OMU). To je naravno znao i Buš-Čejnijev režim, ali su im Karvbolove laži bile korisne za agendu koju su sprovodili ispod žita. U svom intervjuu za Gardijan, Karvbol, odnosno Rafid Ahmed Alvan al-DŽanabi, priznao je da je izmislio celu priču. Cilj mu je bio da likvidira Sadama Huseina i nije prezao od svakakvih izmišljotina kojima bi to mogao da postigne.

Čak i da je Buš-Čejnijev režim stvarno verovao da Sadam Husein poseduje za svet opasno oružje za masovno uništenje, bilo bi krivično delo skoncentrisati svu američku invazionu vojsku na malom prostoru Kuvajta, gde bi primena nešto malo oružja za masovno uništenje zbrisala celokupnu američku invazionu silu, čime bi se rat završio i pre nego što bi otpočeo.

Neki Amerikanci su toliko nepromišljeni da su spremni da kažu kako Sadam Husein nikada ne bi iskoristio to oružje, jer bismo mi tada svašta uradili Iraku, možda čak i atomsku bombu bacili na Bagdad. Ali zašto bi Sadama Huseina bilo briga ako su on i njegov režim već bili stavljeni na listu za eliminaciju? Zašto bi čovek osuđen na propast odustao od izvanredne prilike da nanese poraz američkoj supersili, i time obodri Arape širom sveta? Štaviše, ako Sadam Husein nije bio voljan da upotrebi svoje oružje za masovno uništenje protiv jedne invazione sile, kada bi ga uopšte upotrebio? Američkoj vladi je bilo potpuno jasno da takvo oružje ne postoji. Inspektori za naoružanje su to krajnje jasno saopštili Buš-Čejnijevom režimu. Irak nije imao nikakvo oružje za masovno uništenje i svi u vladi SAD su upoznati s tom činjenicom.

Zašto u “slobodnim” medijima nije bilo pitanja ili komentara kako to da Bela kuća optužuje Irak da poseduje užasno oružje za masovno uništenje, a ipak koncentriše invazionu silu na prostoru tako malom da bi ga takvo oružje lako zbrisalo?

Da li zaista postoji demokratija u zemlji u kojoj su mediji nekompetentni, a vlada nikome ne polaže računa i besramno laže čim zine?

Karvbol reprezentuje novi nivo nemoralnosti. Rafid Al-DŽanabi deli odgovornost za milion mrtvih Iračana, 4 miliona raseljenih Iračana, uništenu zemlju, 4754 mrtvih američkih vojnika, 40,000 ranjenih i osakaćenih američkih vojnika, 3 biliona dolara izgubljenih američkih sredstava, od kojih svaki dolar predstavlja dužničko opterećenje za američko stanovništvo i pretnju dolaru kao rezervnoj valuti, deset godina propagande i laži o terorizmu i vezama sa Al Kaidom, američki “rat protiv terora” koji uništava bezbrojne živote u Avganistanu, Pakistanu, Jemenu, Somaliji, a koji se usmerio na Iran, i pritom zgazio Povelju o pravima, Ustav SAD i sve one građanske slobode koje oni garantuju. A pogani lažljivac Rafid Al-DŽanabi ponosan je što je on izazvao pad Sadama Huseina uz takvu čudovišnu cenu.

Koliko je bezbedan Rafid Al-DŽanabi sada kada je otkrio svoj identitet intervjuom u Gardijanu? Milioni Iračana bi bili u stanju da ga zatru zbog svih muka koje su pretrpeli, da ne pominjemo desetine hiljada Amerikanaca čiji životi su uništeni zbog njegovih laži.

Zašto sada vlada SAD nastavlja da proganja DŽulijana Asanža i Vikiliks zbog iznošenja istine kada Karvbol, čije lagarije su sa zemlje zbrisale na hiljade ljudi kao i reputaciju SAD, misli da može da osnuje političku partiju u Iraku? Biće čudo ako taj komad pogani, Rafid Al-Janabi, ne bude smaknut onog minuta kada se pojavi u Iraku.

Elem, preostaje nam jedino da mislimo o tome kako se desilo da totalno nekompetentna američka vlada donese ogromnu nestabilnost u svojim marionetskim državama na Bliskom istoku, zato što je tako očajnički želela da veruje faličnim “obaveštajnim podacima” iz Nemačke kojoj je jedna nemoralna spodoba pružila “dokaze” da je Sadam Husein posedovao oružje za masovno uništenje.

I onda neko izjavi da je Amerika supersila, i ’neophodna nacija’.

Da pukneš od smeha!

Prevod: Vasilije D. Mišković

Tekst na srpskom jeziku možete naći na http://www.nspm.rs/savremeni-svet/kakva-je-sramota-biti-amerikanac.html

Originalni tekst možete naći na Globalresearch.ca

Brit held with SAS in Libya was spy

March 7th, 2011 by Global Research

By VIRGINIA WHEELER, Defence Editor, and TOM NEWTON DUNN, Political Editor

THE British “diplomat” captured in Libya along with seven special forces soldiers was a Bond-style MI6 spy, The Sun can reveal.

He and his SAS team were released last night, 72 hours after a secret mission to make contact with rebel leaders went badly wrong.

Angry questions were being asked about alleged intelligence failures that forced them to surrender when surrounded and “suicidally outnumbered” by militia.

Despite Government claims it sent a “small diplomatic team”, The Sun can reveal it was an MI6 secret agent and his special forces minders.

The government has also confirmed that the botched SAS mission was authorised by Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Their job was to contact opponents of Libyan tyrant Colonel Gaddafi after intelligence reports that the rebels were open to talks.

But the Brits found themselves surrounded by scores of militia armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Rescue ship ... HMS Cumberland

Rescue ship … HMS Cumberland

Armed farmers reportedly challenged the team when they arrived at an agricultural compound.

It was claimed they were spotted after driving into a farm and unloading kit bags.

One AK-47-wielding farmhand, named Rafah, said: “We fired into the air and said, ‘Hands up, don’t move’. They did as we said. It wasn’t very difficult.”

The farmers kept them at gunpoint for several hours, giving them breakfast while waiting until rebel leaders arrived. Their phones and weapons were seized before delicate negotiations secured their release after 72 hours.

And last night a row was brewing over the bungled op – which handed a PR coup to Gaddafi.

The team was made up of the MI6 officer, six SAS troopers plus an Army signaller. They were captured on Friday near the town of Khandra, nearly 20 miles west of rebel-held Benghazi, after landing in the desert by helicopter three days earlier.

The MI6 man was NOT directly plotting to help bring down Gaddafi, Government sources insisted.

He was trying to establish diplomatic relations with rebels fighting to topple the dictator and a larger Foreign Office team was to follow.

It has emerged that rebel chiefs tried to persuade him to make London recognise them as the legitimate government.

Later Libyans were filmed holding underpants said to belong to one Brit – which they said had a secret compartment sewn into it.

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After being freed, the team left Benghazi on the frigate HMS Cumberland, heading for Malta. A military source said they had to surrender. He went on: “This is a massive intelligence failure that rests on bad government planning. It is NOT a question of the professionalism or bravery of the SAS.

“They were suicidally outnumbered. The men did absolutely the right thing.” The official slammed ministers “for yet another shambolic decision on Libya.” He said: “This could have ended in catastrophe. Lives were at risk.”

A senior member of Benghazi’s revolutionary council said it had been feared the SAS men were Gaddafi’s foreign mercenaries.

He said: “They were carrying espionage equipment, reconnaissance equipment, multiple passports and weapons. How do we know who they are?” Libyan state TV last night broadcast a recording of a phone call in which British Ambassador Richard Northern tells a rebel leader he was “not surprised” the SAS were greeted with hostility.

He says: “I understand there has been a misunderstanding and they have been picked up.”

The rebel chief replies: “Actually they made a big mistake coming in with a helicopter in an open area.” Mr Northern then says: “Oh did they? I didn’t know how they were coming. I’m not surprised that’s alarmed them.”

 A Foreign Office source said the team WAS given the green light to go in but local rebels were not told. The senior source said: “It’s easy to criticise and the operation didn’t go as well as hoped. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s vital to know what’s going on in Libya.” The SAS men were from a unit formerly known as The Increment, hand-picked to protect MI5 and MI6 officials.

It was the latest British embarrassment over Libya, after the US shot down the idea of a no-fly zone and we were slow off the mark rescuing stranded citizens.

And Gaddafi exploited it last night, telling his citizens the uprising was a Western conspiracy.

Mr Hague said further attempts will be made to contact the rebels.

He said: “A small British diplomatic team has been in Benghazi. They experienced difficulties, which have been resolved.”

It is “March Madness” Time In The USA Where The Irrational Is Pedaled as Rational Provoking Intense Polarization And Paralysis

“The worst things get, the harder it is for people to agree on what to do.”

The term class war has been extricated from the archives of another era, while divisions over the future of the economy have become a battleground in which the adversaries yell at each other, but rarely engage in any discourse with each other in a shared language.

The worst things get, the harder it is for people to agree on what to do.

This is a month known in the USA for the “March madness” college basketball finals, but the madness seems now to be oozing from sports arenas to political capitols.

In the Middle East, all the political turmoil will ultimately impact on a regional economy build on the flow and price of oil, contends author/historian Michael Klare:

“Whatever the outcome of the protests, uprisings, and rebellions now sweeping the Middle East, one thing is guaranteed: the world of oil will be permanently transformed. Consider everything that’s now happening as just the first tremor of an oilquake that will shake our world to its core.”

Back in the once thought of as “stable” United States, the economic crisis has finally spurred a confrontation between right and left with noisy protests following threatened crackdowns on union rights to collective bargaining, and cutbacks on social programs.

Conservatives hype the austerity programs that divided and created chaos in Ireland as the model Americans should be following.

Writes Terrance Heath, “The irony is that the things that the Heritage (Foundation) praises about Ireland’s economy are what drove it to the brink of extinction … Ireland followed the same tax-cutting, deregulating conservative economic path to its misfortune that led America to its own. That Ireland stands as an example of austerity’s epic failure, makes it even more mystifying that conservatives keep spotlighting the clearest example of the disastrous impact of conservative economic policy.”

Activists in the sweltering heat of Egypt hold up signs praising protesters in Wisconsin while the shivering public workers in the snow of Madison talk about struggling like an Egyptian.

Who would have thunk?

The poet Yeats once wrote that things fall apart when the center doesn’t hold, and his words seem prophetically appropriate to the unraveling now underway in the US with fierce political combat paralyzing the Congress and rhetoric escalating into a realm beyond the rational.

Even as a film won an Academy Award for calling the collapse of the economy an “inside job,” there is no consensus on the causes of the financial crisis.

The debate about what to do, and whether or not to punish wrongdoers, rages on even as the media looks away from the consequences—the armies of permanently unemployed and growing foreclosures.

Politicians only worry about public budgets, not the private pain of their constituents.

An ideological fight over policy footnotes is considered de rigeur but the suffering of those unable to cope with cutoffs of benefits, rising gas and food prices, and growing despair, is considered a “bummer.”

Many Democrats want so badly to move on that they avoid discussions of Wall Street crime and massive fraud. The President sees all that as unproductive because his new focus is to “’win the future.” Believe it or not, that slogan comes from a book by Newt Gingrich.

The White House deliberately stayed away from protests in Wisconsin, later scolding the Democratic Party apparatus after they learned it was urging supporters to back worker protests. For them, such pro-union activism was decidedly off-message reports the NY Times.

And so much for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report with 633 pages of documented analysis about how the system imploded. That was last week’s non-story.

Republicans want to change the subject and have found new theories to divert attention and/or make the debate so complicated that no one except some Ph.Ds can follow it.

And even they have problems doing so.

Fed head Ben Bernanke who ignored calls to stop mortgage fraud when it might have made a difference now says that the crisis was caused by China.

It’s all their fault!

The Chinese meanwhile buy up American debt and keep our system going.

The right conspiracy theorists have a new explanation to amuse themselves with as well: the crisis was caused by terrorists.

The Washington Times, a newspaper owned by the Moonies, reports:

“Evidence outlined in a Pentagon contractor report suggests that financial subversion carried out by unknown parties, such as terrorists or hostile nations, contributed to the 2008 economic crash by covertly using vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system…”

“Suspects include financial enemies in Middle Eastern states, Islamic terrorists, hostile members of the Chinese military, or government and organized crime groups in Russia, Venezuela or Iran.”

That just about throws all the “bad guys” they could come up with into one big barrel of ducks to shoot at. Never mind, that this “revelation” is totally vague and undocumented.

On the left, artists explore apocalyptic themes, not a serious activist response. One new exhibit is called “The Days of this Society” are numbered.

“Inspired by a famous statement by French thinker Guy Debord, proclaiming that THE DAYS OF THIS SOCIETY ARE NUMBERED, this exhibition plays with the notion that at the beginning of the XXI century one is experiencing a period of fin de siècle, in which the state of affairs is questioned and a collective anxiety is emerging, a situation caused by the feeling of political, economic, and cultural crisis that is permeating the Western world and is creating a social entropy.”

Perhaps there is something in the water or the political ether that precludes any agreement on facts, much less a consensus on what to do about them.

Resolve on punishing mortgage fraudsters has gotten caught up in arcane debate over obtuse contractual language. Even as “pervasive fraud” was documented by the FBI, noone, least of all the regulators, can agree, on who is responsible and what the fines and penalties should be.

It’s clear denial is not just a river in Egypt. Reports the New York Times, “as the negotiations grind on, there are signs that the banks have still not come to grips with the problems plaguing the foreclosure process.”

The newspaper of record does not look at the record to note that big banks may have no interest in coming “to grips” with charges that they defrauded their customers.

All of this “debate” functions like a fog machine to insure that the public doesn’t know what is happening, and to insure that the class at the top is not treated like the class at the bottom as Naked Capitalism.com’s Yves Smith observes:

“It is one thing to point out a sorry reality, that the rich and powerful often get away with abuses while ordinary citizens seldom do. It’s quite another to present it as inevitable.

It would be far more productive to isolate what are the key failings in our legal, prosecutorial, and regulatory regime are and demand changes. The fact that financial fraud cases are often difficult does not mean they are unwinnable.”

Winnable or not, there seems to be rational calculation—even a carefully constructed strategy– behind the increasingly irrational political debate.

Perhaps it’s a form of a calculated lack of “intelligent design” that belongs right up there with classic political strategies in which invented realities and message points become believable they more they are repeated.

George Bush once contrasted a fact-based political order with his preferred faith-based one. That’s why all the exposes of his WMD claims in Iraq rolled off his back and never stuck.

The madness this month is like a chicken that has come home to roost, reminding us again that the only time we can only tell when a politician is lying is when his or her lips start moving.

News Dissector and blogger Danny Schechter directed Plunder The Crime of Our Time, a film assessing the financial crisis as a crime story. (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to [email protected]

Tensions over US motives towards Libya

March 7th, 2011 by Global Research

A delegation of mostly Latin countries has given their backing to a plan for an international peace mission in Libya. The ALBA group, which is made up of several left-leaning South American nations and founded by Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, support the leader’s proposal on Libya, though there is no concrete plan.

However, Chavez is unequivocally against any NATO actions in Libya. Speaking at ALBA’s meeting on Friday, he took a shot at western countries – accusing them of only being interested in oil: “After a review of the international situation, the representatives of the ALBA member nations expressed their wholehearted rejection of the interventionist intentions that currently hang over the Libyan people with the main purpose of appropriating its natural resources.”

Two US warships have already moved closer to Libya, and one has arrived on the Greek island of Crete, where there are NATO naval and air bases.

However, protests show that some in Greece are equally suspicious of US motives, like this woman at a demonstration in Crete: “Once again we see that imperialists won’t hesitate to cause bloodshed for their profits. No one believes their claims of caring for the human rights of people in Africa. The same people who supported Gaddafi now condemn him. It’s exactly the same thing that happened with Egypt and Mubarak.”

At the moment, US military planes are in neighbouring Tunisia, handing out supplies to help with the refugees fleeing the violence in Libya.

Click to watch the related video on GRTV

23 novembre 2010

“La morte di Baitullah Meshud, leader dei talebani pakistani, è un grande successo per Washington e Islamabad”. Questo comunicato, che, ancora una volta, annuncia la morte di un essere umano a causa della guerra, naturalmente rallegra gli strateghi nei paesi occidentali che occupano illegalmente un Paese sovrano in Asia centrale dal 2001. Questa notizia permette a coloro che svolgono questa guerra di conquista di manifestare, per alcuni istanti, la loro gioia e dimostrare l’efficacia delle loro azioni letali sul terreno. Ma si dovrebbe aggiungere un’altra interpretazione di questo evento.

La sparizione del leader dei talebani pakistani si somma agli elementi che giustificano l’estensione della guerra d’occupazione che si trascina dall’Afghanistan al vicino Pakistan.  E contribuirebbe a legittimare ancora una volta, di fronte all’opinione pubblica mondiale, gli atti di guerra perpetrati da Washington e dall’esercito nazionale del Pakistan sul territorio pakistano propriamente detto, anche convincere dell’utilità della guerra contro i talebani si è trasformato in un compito molto facile per Washington dopo tanti anni di costruzione del “nemico” incarnato attualmente dai talebani agli occhi della popolazione mondiale.

In questo contesto, è importante rendersi conto che la vera ragione di queste guerre non è l’eradicazione dei talebani, ma piuttosto stabilire le infrastrutture ed istituzioni necessarie per un’occupazione permanente nella regione da parte di Washington e le altre potenze occidentali. Queste guerre finiranno solo quando il regime di Kabul sarà capace di assicurare un controllo militare totale del territorio afgano, e questo sarà possibile solo con l’aiuto dell’esercito nazionale pachistano, per il controllo delle zone tribali limitrofe con l’Afghanistan come il Waziristan, la Provincia della Frontiera del Nord Ovest, incluso il distretto di Swat.

Le azioni bellicose pakistane appaiano come parte della “guerra contro il terrorismo” decretata dall’ex amministrazione Bush e vincolate alla guerra in Afghanistan. La valle di Swat cadde sotto il dominio dei Talebani nel dicembre 2008 e da allora è stata oggetto di operazioni militari con lo scopo di sfrattararli o semplicemente “farli scomparire”.
Questa guerra guidata dall’esercito nazionale pachistano con l’aiuto dell’esercito statunitense non è stata dichiarata ufficialmente. Si sviluppa nel quadro della cosiddetta “guerra preventiva” contro il terrorismo e permette alle potenze occidentali di aumentare il loro controllo in tutte le regioni del Pakistan, cosa che non erano riusciti a fare durante la presidenza di Pervez Musharraf, tra giugno del 2001 e agosto del 2008.

Il bilancio della guerra nel 2009

Diversi studi recenti hanno segnalato ripetuti attacchi nella regione contro i talebani e gli insorti in Afghanistan, che hanno portato ad un esodo in massa delle popolazioni verso l’interno del paese. L’uso di droni da parte degli USA per eliminare i presunti foci di rifugi dei terroristi ha causato un numero di vittime considerevole.

Secondo i dati recenti, quegli attacchi ed altri interventi avrebbero causato più di 1500 morti tra i talebani. Nell’insieme delle regioni colpite dalla guerra è stato osservato lo spostamento di due milioni di persone. “Fino ad ora, i costi sono molto elevati; 2000 morti e più di 2.000.000 di persone sfollate dai combattimenti nella valle dello Swat e in altri luoghi”.

Secondo il Pakistan Body Count, datato mese agosto 2009, le bombe e gli attacchi dei droni hanno causato quasi 10.000 vittime; tra le vittime si contano più di 3.300 morti”. Il sito aggiunge l’osservazione che “si tratti di un attentato con una bomba o con un drone il risultato è lo stesso, un pachistano morto”.

Così, il sito web fornisce la storia completa e la cronologia degli attentati con le bombe e quelli con i droni. I dati provengono da informazioni dei mass media, ospedali e siti internet. Tutti i dati sono disponibili per il grande pubblico e nessuno è riservato. Questo permette di dare un’idea dell’intensità degli attacchi con le bombe e quelli con i droni.
Secondo Bill Van Auken è importante di ricordare che lo scorso mese di maggio “Il governo di Obama stava considerando sempre di più di aumentare il suo intervento nel Pakistan come una guerra specifica contro l’insurrezione e per la quale chiedeva gli stessi poteri militari che aveva avuto Bush per l’Afghanistan e l’Iraq”. Questi poteri potrebbero permettere al Pentagono, tra le altre cose, di fornire un aiuto militare al Pakistan nell’ordine di 400 milioni di dollari.

Versione Originale : http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14719

Tradotto e segnalato per Voci Dalla Strada da VANESA
http://www.vocidallastrada.com/2010/11/pakistan-un-territorio-strategico-per.html

The report that eight members of the UK’s Special Air Service (SAS) were briefly detained in Benghazi provides confirmation that the US and its European allies are stepping up their efforts to establish firm links with elements of the opposition to the regime of President Muammar Gaddafi and secure control of Libya’s oil resources.

Last week three Dutch marines were detained by forces loyal to the Gaddafi regime. They were said to be involved in rescuing Dutch civilians. British special forces were deployed to airlift civilians from remote desert oil camps. But it has never been made clear whether or not they were all withdrawn after that operation.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to either confirm or deny the presence of the SAS in Libya. This is in line with London’s policy of never commenting officially on the deployment of its special forces.

Questioned on BBC television’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Defence Secretary Liam Fox would say only that Britain had a “small diplomatic mission” on the ground. According to the Sunday Times, which broke the story, the SAS were escorting a “junior diplomat” to meet with leading members of the opposition. The objective was to prepare the way for a visit by more senior figures.

The SAS personnel were said to be dressed in plain clothes, carrying arms and ammunition and passports from at least four different countries. According to Sky News, the eight who were detained were part of a team of 22 soldiers who were landed by helicopter south of Benghazi.

Their detention follows the announcement that Britain intended to establish a diplomatic presence to build links with the opposition. A UK diplomat explained the plan to the Financial Times last week, saying, “Having a presence on the ground allows us to get a better understanding about what’s happening. It’s about getting first-hand information and analysis.”

An unnamed defence analyst interviewed by the newspaper stressed that such a mission was the essential precursor to more extensive military intervention and involvement with the opposition. “Everyone is focused right now on whether there will be some heavy western military intervention such as no-fly zones or arming the rebels,” the Financial Times wrote. “But before you get to that point there are lots of things governments can do to help tip the strategic advantage in favour of the rebels.

“You could help them market their oil assets, help shore up their television and broadcast capabilities, and help give them raw intelligence. This is the kind of thing a diplomatic mission might start covertly doing.”

Clearly, the “junior diplomat” was tasked with sounding out elements of the opposition National Council, which met in Benghazi on Saturday for the first time. A Whitehall insider told the Financial Times: “They are not exactly a homogenous community of people.”

William Hague is said to have spoken to General Abdul Fattah Younis al Obaidi, the former Libyan interior minister and head of Gaddafi’s special forces, who recently went over to the opposition. He and former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil are both looking to the US and Europe for assistance. Jalil has called for a no-fly zone to be established.

Obaidi in particular is seen as the potential head of a successor regime. He has worked closely in the past with the SAS, which trained Libyan special forces. British officials have identified him as someone with whom they could do business, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Britain’s operations in Libya are very much subordinate to the overall authority of the US. As in Afghanistan and before that in Iraq, Britain is eager to prove itself a reliable and useful ally.

In many respects, the UK’s connections with the Gaddafi regime are more extensive than those of Washington. The revelation that the London School of Economics (LSE) had accepted a multimillion-pound donation from Libya, which has proven embarrassing for the LSE, underlines the close relations that were forged between Britain and Libya by Tony Blair.

Those links are now being put to use, with William Hague phoning current members of the regime, such as the foreign minister Mussa Qusa, as well as those who have left it to join the opposition. As Gaddafi’s minister of intelligence, Mussa Qusa played a key role in negotiating the deal under which Gaddafi restored relations with the West in 2003.

British efforts are part of multifaceted operation to construct a new Libyan regime that can suppress popular opposition and ensure that the major oil companies, banks and corporations have access to Libya’s resources. Washington is seeking to exploit the mass opposition to Gaddafi to install a new client regime that will enable it to position its political and military assets to prop up reactionary regimes across North Africa and the Middle East—including Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Oman—that are being rocked by popular uprisings.

Britain is working closely with continental Europe on a common response to the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to attend an EU summit on the question on March 11. He has said that Europe must “radically rethink its approach to the region.”

Clegg stressed Europe’s role in shaping the future of the region. He said: “What happens in North Africa impacts on every community in Europe—this is happening in our backyard. The EU, individual member states, businesses and civil society—all of us need to step up to the plate. 2011 is certain to be a defining moment for North Africa—but it is to be a defining moment for Europe too.”

The EU plans to send an official diplomatic delegation in the next few days. Baroness Catherine Ashton, high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said: “I have decided to dispatch this high-level mission to provide me with first-hand, real-time information to feed into the discussions leading up to the March 11 special EU leaders’ summit on Libya.”

Ashton thanked the Italian government for its help in preparing the way for the mission. Italy has perhaps the closest economic and political ties with Libya of all the European countries. It gets a quarter of its crude oil and 10 percent of its natural gas from Libya. Italy is Libya’s largest trading partner and is the major EU exporter of arms to Libya. Its national oil company Eni has extensive investments in Libya, and Italian contractors are building a new coastal highway, railways and fibre optics networks.

The Libyan Investment Authority and other investors have stakes in some of Italy’s biggest companies. Last week, Italy suspended its 2008 Friendship Treaty with Libya. This means that Italy can now allow its military bases to be used for acts of aggression against the Gaddafi regime.

France has moved rapidly to recognise the opposition National Council. Government spokesman Bernard Valero said, “France hails the creation of the Libyan National Council and pledges support for the principles that motivate it and the goals it has set itself.”

New French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé condemned what he called Gaddafi’s “criminal folly.” The previous foreign minister, Michelle Alliot-Marie, had to resign because of her close links to Tunisian dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. France’s interests in North Africa, where it is the former colonial power in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, make it imperative that it should not make the same mistake in Libya and continue its association with Gaddafi.

According to Time magazine, President Barack Obama is now refining the US response to the Libyan uprising and ensuring that the US has the full capacity to act very rapidly if necessary. Part of his strategy is to position military assets under the guise of mounting a humanitarian effort to transport refugees and provide aid to civilians. At the same time, Obama has formed a supreme intelligence committee consisting of Pentagon, National Security Council and CIA experts, which will attempt to bring together reports from US sources based among the opposition and Gaddafi’s forces.

The precise scale and form of the US intervention in Libya is necessarily dependent on the developing situation in the rest of the Middle East and North Africa. Libya’s oil resources are important, but Saudi Arabia’s are even more vital. The continuing protest movement in Bahrain threatens to destabilise neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which recently mobilised its military to suppress protests against the royal regime.

In Egypt, an interim government has been established under military control that contains many figures from the Mubarak era. But the popular movement is continuing, with protesters occupying the headquarters of the hated security police.

Speaking last week on the situation in Libya, Obama stressed the importance of not giving the impression that the US was intervening directly in the internal affairs of the country. He pointed out that his administration had tried to avoid provoking anti-American sentiment in Egypt by openly dictating what should be done.

He said, “One of the extraordinary successes of Egypt was the full ownership that the Egyptian people felt for that transformation. That has served the Egyptian people well; it serves US interests well. We did not see anti-American sentiment arising out of that movement in Egypt precisely because they felt that we hadn’t tried to engineer or impose a particular outcome, but rather they owned it. The same is happening in Tunisia.”

However, the US is already intervening openly as well as covertly. Obama has demanded that Gaddafi leave and insisted that military measures such as a no-fly zone are under consideration.

As Obama’s comments on Egypt suggest, the main obstacle to a bloody imperialist intervention in Libya is the risk of mass political opposition in the working class—in Libya, in other countries in the region, and in the working class in Europe and America.

Speaking on ABC television, Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, who has been critical of Obama’s policy in relation to Libya, concurred in the importance of Egypt. Egypt, he told Christiane Amanpour, is “the heart and soul of the Arab world.” He indicated he did not yet think it was time for a ground intervention in Libya.

John Kerry, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on the “Face the Nation” program that the US and its allies should prepare to impose a no-fly zone. When the moderator reminded him that Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week cautioned that such a move was an act of war, beginning with the bombing of Libyan air defense systems, Kerry said he did not consider a no-fly zone to constitute military intervention.

The Obama administration and the media hailed the Labor Department’s February employment report, released Friday, as evidence of an accelerating economic recovery. It is nothing of the kind.

The report showed an overall increase in US payrolls for the month of 192,000, somewhat below economists’ expectations of a 200,000-plus gain. The official unemployment rate dipped to 8.9 percent from January’s 9.0 percent.

Private-sector payrolls rose by 222,000, but public sector jobs fell by a net 30,000, resulting from a loss of 12,000 state jobs and 18,000 local positions. Federal payrolls remained unchanged.

The large fall in public-sector payrolls is the clearest expression of the austerity policies being carried out by deficit-ridden state and local governments with the support of the Obama administration. Since their employment peak in August 2008, state and local governments have slashed 450,000 jobs.

Much of the reported increase in February private-sector payrolls was the result of an artificially depressed number in the Labor Department’s January employment report, the result of unusually severe weather that month. In any event, the economy needs to generate between 125,000 and 160,000 new jobs every month just to keep pace with the normal growth in the labor force.

February’s performance, coming eight months after the official end of the recession that began in December of 2007, is indicative of a severely depressed labor market, not one that is healthy and beginning to strongly rebound. In all previous recessions, monthly job growth of 200,000 to 300,000 has been typical of strong recoveries.

 

In February, there were 7.5 million fewer jobs on non-farm payrolls that in December 2007, and 7.3 million fewer jobs on private-sector payrolls. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal Washington think tank, at February’s growth rate it would take until 2019 to return to the pre-recession unemployment rate.

The government estimates that 13.7 million Americans remain unemployed and 25 million are “underemployed”—either laid off, involuntarily working part-time, or no longer actively looking for work because of the dismal job market. The government’s underemployed figure for February is 15.9 percent, not far below its all-time high in data going back to 1994 of 17.4 percent in October 2009.

There are 4.8 unemployed workers for every available job.

There are 6 million workers who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. The percentage of the jobless who fall into this desperate category of “long-term” unemployed actually increased in February from 43.8 percent to 43.9 percent, and remains near its high of 45.6 percent last May. The share of long-term unemployed in the labor force in February was 3.9 percent.

According to the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, prior to the current recession, the previous highs for these long-term unemployed figures over the past six decades were 26 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, reached in June of 1983.

The average duration of unemployment climbed to 37 weeks in February, a post-World War II record.

The 8.9 percent official jobless rate, touted by the White House as a vindication of its “job-creation” policies, establishes a bleak benchmark: two straight years of unemployment above 8.5 percent.

The Economic Policy Institute pointed out that the drop in the official jobless rate is largely a result of a decline in what the government considers to be the labor force, i.e., the impact of the abandonment of the search for a job by large numbers of laid-off workers and the non-entry into the job market of younger workers. The government’s figure for labor force participation (share of the population aged 16 and over working or looking for work) is currently 64.2 percent, its lowest point in the recession.

The EPI noted that the labor force is now smaller than it was a year ago (by 312,000 workers), despite the fact that the working-age population grew by 1.9 million. It wrote: “Consequently, the proportion of the population in the labor force—i.e., people who are working or unemployed—dropped by 0.6 percentage points over the same period. This is comparable to the drop in unemployment.”

The EPI elaborated on the implications of these figures: “If the labor force participation rate had held steady over the last year, there would be roughly 1.5 million more workers in the labor force right now. These workers are instead on the sidelines. If these workers were unemployed but still in the labor force (i.e., looking for work), the unemployment rate would be 9.8 percent right now instead of 8.9 percent.

“In other words, the improvement in the unemployment rate over the last year (from 9.7 percent to 8.9 percent) is largely due to would-be workers deciding to sit out due to weakness in the labor market. The employment-to-population ratio, a broader measure of the share of the working-age population that has a job, actually declined slightly over the last year, from 58.5 percent to 58.4 percent. Improvements in the unemployment rate are only good news if a larger share of the potential workforce actually finds work, which is not happening” (emphasis in the original).

Other aspects of the supposedly positive jobs report provide further evidence of the social catastrophe facing growing sections of the population. Average hourly wages grew by a total of one cent in February and have risen at a 1.9 percent annualized rate over the last three months. Weekly wages increased by only 34 cents, and have also grown at a 1.9 percent annualized rate over the past three months.

With gasoline and food prices exploding, and both public and private employers ratcheting up employee health care costs and cutting benefits, these wage figures signify a deep plunge in living standards.

The official unemployment rate is 8.0 percent for whites (3.6 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession), 15.3 percent for African-Americans (6.3 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession), and 11.6 percent for Hispanics (5.3 percent higher).

The jobs disaster is particularly acute for young workers. In February, unemployment was 17.7 percent among workers age 16-24, an increase of 6.3 percent since the start of the recession.

Describing the scale of the jobs crisis, the EPI noted: “The labor market remains 7.5 million payroll jobs below where it was at the official start of the recession three years and two months ago. And this number vastly understates the size of the gap in the labor market by failing to take into account the fact that simply keeping up with the growth in the working-age population would have required the addition of another 3.8 million jobs over this period. This means that the labor market is now 11.3 million jobs below the level needed to restore the pre-recession unemployment rate (5.0 percent in December 2007).

“To achieve the pre-recession unemployment rate in five years, the labor market would have to add around 285,000 jobs every month for that entire period.”

The Obama administration is opposed to any genuine job-creation program. It is instead ending the wholly inadequate stimulus measures it put into effect two years ago and turning to austerity policies that will keep the jobless rate extremely high for years to come. This is part of a calculated strategy to use mass unemployment to bludgeon the working class into accepting cuts in wages and benefits as well as speedup.

Exuding cynicism and indifference to the mounting social distress, Obama said Friday, speaking at a high school in Miami, Florida: “This morning we learned that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years … And that’s progress.”

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis declared, “The bottom line—the policies and programs of this administration are working.”

Working for whom? The real priorities of the administration were outlined in a column published Wednesday in the Financial Times by Obama’s new White House chief of staff, William Daley, entitled “Why Obama is a Pro-Business President.”

Daley, formerly a top executive at JPMorgan Chase, wrote: “President Barack Obama has always believed that America succeeds when business succeeds… As a government, our responsibility is to lay the foundations for the private sector to thrive; indeed, that is at the heart of our strategy for growth.”

Daley proceeded to tick off all the ways in which the administration is working to maximize corporate profits, noting that “we are working to knock down barriers that make it harder to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system.” Obama, he boasted, is intent on “reforming” the corporate tax code and freezing annual domestic spending for five years, which would “bring domestic discretionary spending down to the lowest share of our economy since President Dwight Eisenhower.”

 

 

 

source Houston Chronicle

 

As states struggle to meet their budgets, public pensions are on the chopping block; but they needn’t be.  States can keep their pension funds intact and leverage them into many times that sum in loans, just as Wall Street banks do.  They can do this by forming their own banks, following the lead of North Dakota, the only state either to have its own bank or to have a major budget surplus.

Public workers are not going quietly into that good night of state budgets balanced at the expense of union benefits.  After three weeks of protests in Wisconsin, convictions remain strong and pressure is building.  Fourteen Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers said Friday that they are not deterred by threats of possible arrest and of 1,500 layoffs if they don’t return to work.  President Obama has charged Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker with attempting to bust the unions.  But Walker’s defense is:

We’re broke. Like nearly every state across the country, we don’t have any more money.”

Among other concessions, Governor Walker wants to require public employees to pay a portion of the cost of their own pensions.  Bemoaning a budget deficit of $3.6 billion, he says the state is too broke to afford all these benefits.

Broke Unless You Count the $67 Billion Pension Fund . . .

That’s what he says, but according to Wisconsin’s 2010 CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), the state has $67 billion in pension and other employee benefit trust funds, invested mainly in stocks and debt securities drawing a modest return.  

A recent study by the PEW Center for the States showed that Wisconsin’s pension fund is almost fully funded, meaning it can meet its commitments for years to come without drawing on outside sources.  It requires a contribution of only $645 million annually to meet pension payouts.  Zach Carter, writing in the Huffington Post, notes that the pension program could save another $195 million annually just by cutting out its Wall Street investment managers and managing the funds in-house. 

The governor is evidently eying the state’s lucrative pension fund, not because the state cannot afford the pension program, but as a source of revenue for programs that are not fully funded.  This tactic, however, is not going down well with state employees.  

Fortunately, there is another alternative.  Wisconsin could draw down the fund by the small amount needed to meet pension obligations, and put the bulk of the money to work creating jobs, helping local businesses, and increasing tax revenues for the state.  It could do this by forming its own bank, following the lead of North Dakota, the only state to have its own bank — and the only state to escape the credit crisis.

This could be done without spending the pension fund money or lending it.  The funds would just be shifted from one form of investment to another (equity in a bank).  When a bank makes a loan, neither the bank’s own capital nor its customers’ demand deposits are actually lent to borrowers.  As observed on the Dallas Federal Reserve’s website, “Banks actually create money when they lend it.”  They simply extend accounting-entry bank credit, which is extinguished when the loan is repaid.  Creating this sort of credit-money is a privilege available only to banks, but states can tap into that privilege by owning a bank. 

How North Dakota Escaped the Credit Crunch

Ironically, the only state to have one of these socialist-sounding credit machines is a conservative Republican state.  The state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND) has allowed North Dakota to maintain its economic sovereignty, a conservative states-rights sort of ideal.  The BND was established in 1919 in response to a wave of farm foreclosures at the hands of out-of-state Wall Street banks.  Today the state not only has no debt, but it recently boasted its largest-ever budget surplus.  The BND helps to fund not only local government but local businesses and local banks, by partnering with the banks to provide the funds to support small business lending.  

The BND is also a boon to the state treasury, having contributed over $300 million to state coffers in the past decade, a notable achievement for a state with a population less than one-tenth the size of Los Angeles County.  In 2008, the BND returned a 26% dividend to the state.  That beats most Wall Street investments by a country mile, at least if California’s experience is any guide.  California’s public pension funds are down more than $150 billion – that’s billion with a “b” – or close to half the funds’ holdings, following the Wall Street debacle of 2008.  It was, in fact, the 2008 bank collapse rather than overpaid public employees that caused the crisis that shrank state revenues and prompted the budget cuts in the first place. 

Read Ellen Brown’s two chapters in The Global Economic Crisis

 

Seven States Are Now Considering Setting Up Public Banks

Faced with federal inaction and growing local budget crises, an increasing number of states are exploring the possibility of setting up their own state-owned banks, following the North Dakota model.  On January 11, 2011, a bill to establish a state-owned bank was introduced in the Oregon State legislature; on January 13, a similar bill was introduced in Washington State; on January 20, a bill for a state bank was filed in Massachusetts (following a 2010 bill that had lapsed); and on February 4, a bill was introduced in the Maryland legislature for a feasibility study looking into the possibilities. They join Illinois, Virginia, and Hawaii, which introduced similar bills in 2010, bringing the total number of states with such bills to seven.  

If Governor Walker wanted to explore this possibility for his state, he could drop in on the Center for State Innovation (CSI), which is located down the street in his capitol city of Madison, Wisconsin.  The CSI has done detailed cost/benefit analyses of the Oregon and Washington state bank initiatives, which show substantial projected benefits based on the BND precedent.  See reports here and here

For Washington State, with an economy not much larger than Wisconsin’s, the CSI report estimates that after an initial startup period, establishing a state-owned bank would create new or retained jobs of between 7,400 and 10,700 a year at small businesses alone, while at the same time returning a profit to the state. 

A Bank of Wisconsin Could Generate “Bank Credit”

Many Times the Size of the Budget Deficit

Economists looking at the CSI reports have called their conclusions conservative.  The CSI made its projections without relying on state pension funds for bank capital, although it acknowledged that this could be a potential source of capitalization. 

 

If the Bank of Wisconsin were to use state pension funds, it could have a capitalization of more than $57 billion – nearly as large as that of Goldman Sachs.  At an 8% capital requirement, $8 in capital can support $100 in loans, or a potential lending capacity of over $500 billion.  The bank would need deposits to clear the checks, but the credit-generating potential could still be huge.

Banks can create all the bank credit they want, limited only by (a) the availability of creditworthy borrowers, (b) the lending limits imposed by bank capital requirements, and (c) the availability of “liquidity” to clear outgoing checks.  Liquidity can be acquired either from the deposits of the bank’s own customers or by borrowing from other banks or the money market.  If borrowed, the cost of funds is a factor; but at today’s very low Fed funds rate of 0.2%, that cost is minimal.  Again, however, only banks can tap into these very low rates.  States are reduced to borrowing at about 5% — unless they own their own banks; or, better yet, unless they are banks.  The BND is set up as “North Dakota doing business as the Bank of North Dakota.” 

That means that technically, all of North Dakota’s assets are the assets of the bank.  The BND also has its deposit needs covered.  It has a massive, captive deposit base, since all of the state’s revenues are deposited in the bank by law.  The bank also takes other deposits, but the bulk of its deposits are government funds.  The BND is careful not to compete with local banks for consumer deposits, which account for less than 2% of the total.  The BND reports that it has deposits of $2.7 billion and outstanding loans of $2.6 billion.  With a population of 647,000, that works out to about $4,000 per capita in deposits, backing roughly the same amount in loans.  

Wisconsin has a population that is nine times the size of North Dakota’s.  Other factors being equal, Wisconsin might be able to amass over $24 billion in deposits and generate an equivalent sum in loans – over six times the deficit complained of by the state’s governor.   That lending capacity could be used for many purposes, depending on the will of the legislature and state law.  Possibilities include (a) partnering with local banks, on the North Dakota model, strengthening their capital bases to allow credit to flow to small businesses and homeowners, where it is sorely needed today; (b) funding infrastructure virtually interest-free (since the state would own the bank and would get back any interest paid out); and (c) refinancing state deficits nearly interest-free.

Why Give Wisconsin’s Enormous Credit-generating Power Away?

The budget woes of Wisconsin and other states were caused, not by overspending on employee benefits, but by a credit crisis on Wall Street.  The “cure” is to get credit flowing again in the local economy, and this can be done by using state assets to capitalize state-owned banks. 

Against the modest cost of establishing a publicly-owned bank, state legislators need to weigh the much greater costs of the alternatives – slashing essential public services, laying off workers, raising taxes on constituents who are already over-taxed, and selling off public assets.  Given the cost of continuing business as usual, states can hardly afford not to consider the public bank option.  When state and local governments invest their capital in out-of-state money center banks and deposit their revenues there, they are giving their enormous credit-generating power away to Wall Street.

Ellen Brown is an attorney and chairs the Public Banking Institute. She has written eleven books, including Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free (2010).

The price of gas at the pump is now averaging $3.65 a gallon in California and has already edged up to $4 in San Francisco and Chicago. Nationwide, it’s at $3.38, a 20-cent rise in the last week (six cents last Friday alone). Meanwhile, in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke optimistically of the economy and dismissed the impact of soaring oil prices, spurred by turmoil in the Middle East. “The most likely outcome,” he said, “is that the recent rise in commodity prices will lead to, at most, a temporary and relatively modest increase in U.S. consumer price inflation.”

Of course, let’s take it for granted that no one inside Washington’s Beltway has to fill his or her own car with gas. For them, pain at the pump may indeed feel “temporary and relatively modest.” Tell that, however, to the official 9% of unemployed Americans who still have to drive a car in what Bernanke and everyone else who isn’t suffering seems to agree is not a recession. (In 1940, the last year of the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was at 14.6% — and in those days they still hadn’t stopped counting people too discouraged to look for work.) In that light, consider what’s already happening at the pump as the lifestyle equivalent of murder and now imagine that, by summer (if not significantly earlier), the price of a gallon of gas nationwide may, as just before the 2008 global economic meltdown, close in on the $4 a gallon mark and perhaps still be rising.

After all, oil fears have, as the New York Times business page put it recently, “rattle[d] the oil world” — and there are already the first fearful mutterings about a coming “oil shock” or even a $5 price at the pump. With good reason. Middle East oil supplies are now far more vulnerable to every kind of disruption, including sabotage, than most people realize. As Juan Cole wrote recently, “Workers in the [Persian] Gulf unhappy with their lives, unlike Wisconsin school teachers, can fairly easily disrupt the economy if they choose.” And keep in mind that that’s only the short-range view. If you happen to be energy expert Michael Klare, TomDispatch regular, author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, and a man perpetually ahead of the curve when it comes to a future of limited resources, you know that this is just the beginning of the end of the oil age and part of our rude entry into a world of extreme energy. (To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which Klare explains how resource scarcity is driving protest and much else on our planet, click here, or download it to your iPod here.) Tom  Dispatch Editor

Whatever the outcome of the protests, uprisings, and rebellions now sweeping the Middle East, one thing is guaranteed: the world of oil will be permanently transformed. Consider everything that’s now happening as just the first tremor of an oilquake that will shake our world to its core.

For a century stretching back to the discovery of oil in southwestern Persia before World War I, Western powers have repeatedly intervened in the Middle East to ensure the survival of authoritarian governments devoted to producing petroleum. Without such interventions, the expansion of Western economies after World War II and the current affluence of industrialized societies would be inconceivable.

Here, however, is the news that should be on the front pages of newspapers everywhere: That old oil order is dying, and with its demise we will see the end of cheap and readily accessible petroleum — forever.

Ending the Petroleum Age

Let’s try to take the measure of what exactly is at risk in the current tumult. As a start, there is almost no way to give full justice to the critical role played by Middle Eastern oil in the world’s energy equation. Although cheap coal fueled the original Industrial Revolution, powering railroads, steamships, and factories, cheap oil has made possible the automobile, the aviation industry, suburbia, mechanized agriculture, and an explosion of economic globalization. And while a handful of major oil-producing areas launched the Petroleum Age — the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Romania, the area around Baku (in what was then the Czarist Russian empire), and the Dutch East Indies — it’s been the Middle East that has quenched the world’s thirst for oil since World War II.

In 2009, the most recent year for which such data is available, BP reported that suppliers in the Middle East and North Africa jointly produced 29 million barrels per day, or 36% of the world’s total oil supply — and even this doesn’t begin to suggest the region’s importance to the petroleum economy. More than any other area, the Middle East has funneled its production into export markets to satisfy the energy cravings of oil-importing powers like the United States, China, Japan, and the European Union (EU). We’re talking 20 million barrels funneled into export markets every day. Compare that to Russia, the world’s top individual producer, at seven million barrels in exportable oil, the continent of Africa at six million, and South America at a mere one million.

As it happens, Middle Eastern producers will be even more important in the years to come because they possess an estimated two-thirds of remaining untapped petroleum reserves. According to recent projections by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Middle East and North Africa will jointly provide approximately 43% of the world’s crude petroleum supply by 2035 (up from 37% in 2007), and will produce an even greater share of the world’s exportable oil.

To put the matter baldly: The world economy requires an increasing supply of affordable petroleum. The Middle East alone can provide that supply. That’s why Western governments have long supported “stable” authoritarian regimes throughout the region, regularly supplying and training their security forces. Now, this stultifying, petrified order, whose greatest success was producing oil for the world economy, is disintegrating. Don’t count on any new order (or disorder) to deliver enough cheap oil to preserve the Petroleum Age.

To appreciate why this will be so, a little history lesson is in order.

The Iranian Coup

After the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) discovered oil in Iran (then known as Persia) in 1908, the British government sought to exercise imperial control over the Persian state. A chief architect of this drive was First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. Having ordered the conversion of British warships from coal to oil before World War I and determined to put a significant source of oil under London’s control, Churchill orchestrated the nationalization of APOC in 1914. On the eve of World War II, then-Prime Minister Churchill oversaw the removal of Persia’s pro-German ruler, Shah Reza Pahlavi, and the ascendancy of his 21-year-old son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

Though prone to extolling his (mythical) ties to past Persian empires, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was a willing tool of the British. His subjects, however, proved ever less willing to tolerate subservience to imperial overlords in London. In 1951, democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq won parliamentary support for the nationalization of APOC, by then renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). The move was wildly popular in Iran but caused panic in London. In 1953, to save this great prize, British leaders infamously conspired with President Dwight Eisenhower‘s administration in Washington and the CIA to engineer a coup d’état that deposed Mossadeq and brought Shah Pahlavi back from exile in Rome, a story recently told with great panache by Stephen Kinzer in All the Shah’s Men.

Until he was overthrown in 1979, the Shah exercised ruthless and dictatorial control over Iranian society, thanks in part to lavish U.S. military and police assistance. First he crushed the secular left, the allies of Mossadeq, and then the religious opposition, headed from exile by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Given their brutal exposure to police and prison gear supplied by the United States, the shah’s opponents came to loathe his monarchy and Washington in equal measure. In 1979, of course, the Iranian people took to the streets, the Shah was overthrown, and Ayatollah Khomeini came to power.

Much can be learned from these events that led to the current impasse in U.S.-Iranian relations. The key point to grasp, however, is that Iranian oil production never recovered from the revolution of 1979-1980.

Between 1973 and 1979, Iran had achieved an output of nearly six million barrels of oil per day, one of the highest in the world. After the revolution, AIOC (rechristened British Petroleum, or later simply BP) was nationalized for a second time, and Iranian managers again took over the company’s operations. To punish Iran’s new leaders, Washington imposed tough trade sanctions, hindering the state oil company’s efforts to obtain foreign technology and assistance. Iranian output plunged to two million barrels per day and, even three decades later, has made it back to only slightly more than four million barrels per day, even though the country possesses the world’s second largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.

Dreams of the Invader

Iraq followed an eerily similar trajectory. Under Saddam Hussein, the state-owned Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) produced up to 2.8 million barrels per day until 1991, when the First Gulf War with the United States and ensuing sanctions dropped output to half a million barrels daily. Though by 2001 production had again risen to almost 2.5 million barrels per day, it never reached earlier heights. As the Pentagon geared up for an invasion of Iraq in late 2002, however, Bush administration insiders and well-connected Iraqi expatriates spoke dreamily of a coming golden age in which foreign oil companies would be invited back into the country, the national oil company would be privatized, and production would reach never before seen levels.

Who can forget the effort the Bush administration and its officials in Baghdad put into making their dream come true? After all, the first American soldiers to reach the Iraqi capital secured the Oil Ministry building, even as they allowed Iraqi looters free rein in the rest of the city. L. Paul Bremer III, the proconsul later chosen by President Bush to oversee the establishment of a new Iraq, brought in a team of American oil executives to supervise the privatization of the country’s oil industry, while the U.S. Department of Energy confidently predicted in May 2003 that Iraqi production would rise to 3.4 million barrels per day in 2005, 4.1 million barrels by 2010, and 5.6 million by 2020.

None of this, of course, came to pass. For many ordinary Iraqis, the U.S. decision to immediately head for the Oil Ministry building was an instantaneous turning point that transformed possible support for the overthrow of a tyrant into anger and hostility. Bremer’s drive to privatize the state oil company similarly produced a fierce nationalist backlash among Iraqi oil engineers, who essentially scuttled the plan. Soon enough, a full-scale Sunni insurgency broke out. Oil output quickly fell, averaging only 2.0 million barrels daily between 2003 and 2009. By 2010, it had finally inched back up to the 2.5 million barrel mark — a far cry from those dreamed of 4.1 million barrels.

One conclusion isn’t hard to draw: Efforts by outsiders to control the political order in the Middle East for the sake of higher oil output will inevitably generate countervailing pressures that result in diminished production. The United States and other powers watching the uprisings, rebellions, and protests blazing through the Middle East should be wary indeed: whatever their political or religious desires, local populations always turn out to harbor a fierce, passionate hostility to foreign domination and, in a crunch, will choose independence and the possibility of freedom over increased oil output.

The experiences of Iran and Iraq may not in the usual sense be comparable to those of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Oman, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen. However, all of them (and other countries likely to get swept up into the tumult) exhibit some elements of the same authoritarian political mold and all are connected to the old oil order. Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Oman, and Sudan are oil producers; Egypt and Jordan guard vital oil pipelines and, in Egypt’s case, a crucial canal for the transport of oil; Bahrain and Yemen as well as Oman occupy strategic points along major oil sealanes. All have received substantial U.S. military aid and/or housed important U.S. military bases. And, in all of these countries, the chant is the same: “The people want the regime to fall.”

Two of these regimes have already fallen, three are tottering, and others are at risk. The impact on global oil prices has been swift and merciless: on February 24th, the delivery price for North Brent crude, an industry benchmark, nearly reached $115 per barrel, the highest it’s been since the global economic meltdown of October 2008. West Texas Intermediate, another benchmark crude, briefly and ominously crossed the $100 threshold.

Why the Saudis are Key

So far, the most important Middle Eastern producer of all, Saudi Arabia, has not exhibited obvious signs of vulnerability, or prices would have soared even higher. However, the royal house of neighboring Bahrain is already in deep trouble; tens of thousands of protesters — more than 20% of its half million people — have repeatedly taken to the streets, despite the threat of live fire, in a movement for the abolition of the autocratic government of King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifa, and its replacement with genuine democratic rule.

These developments are especially worrisome to the Saudi leadership as the drive for change in Bahrain is being directed by that country’s long-abused Shiite population against an entrenched Sunni ruling elite. Saudi Arabia also contains a large, though not — as in Bahrain — a majority Shiite population that has also suffered discrimination from Sunni rulers. There is anxiety in Riyadh that the explosion in Bahrain could spill into the adjacent oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia — the one area of the kingdom where Shiites do form the majority — producing a major challenge to the regime. Partly to forestall any youth rebellion, 87-year-old King Abdullah has just promised $10 billion in grants, part of a $36 billion package of changes, to help young Saudi citizens get married and obtain homes and apartments.

Even if rebellion doesn’t reach Saudi Arabia, the old Middle Eastern oil order cannot be reconstructed. The result is sure to be a long-term decline in the future availability of exportable petroleum.

Three-quarters of the 1.7 million barrels of oil Libya produces daily were quickly taken off the market as turmoil spread in that country. Much of it may remain off-line and out of the market for the indefinite future. Egypt and Tunisia can be expected to restore production, modest in both countries, to pre-rebellion levels soon, but are unlikely to embrace the sorts of major joint ventures with foreign firms that might boost production while diluting local control. Iraq, whose largest oil refinery was badly damaged by insurgents only last week, and Iran exhibit no signs of being able to boost production significantly in the years ahead.

The critical player is Saudi Arabia, which just increased production to compensate for Libyan losses on the global market. But don’t expect this pattern to hold forever. Assuming the royal family survives the current round of upheavals, it will undoubtedly have to divert more of its daily oil output to satisfy rising domestic consumption levels and fuel local petrochemical industries that could provide a fast-growing, restive population with better-paying jobs.

From 2005 to 2009, Saudis used about 2.3 million barrels daily, leaving about 8.3 million barrels for export. Only if Saudi Arabia continues to provide at least this much oil to international markets could the world even meet its anticipated low-end oil needs. This is not likely to occur. The Saudi royals have expressed reluctance to raise output much above 10 million barrels per day, fearing damage to their remaining fields and so a decline in future income for their many progeny. At the same time, rising domestic demand is expected to consume an ever-increasing share of Saudi Arabia’s net output. In April 2010, the chief executive officer of state-owned Saudi Aramco, Khalid al-Falih, predicted that domestic consumption could reach a staggering 8.3 million barrels per day by 2028, leaving only a few million barrels for export and ensuring that, if the world can’t switch to other energy sources, there will be petroleum starvation.

In other words, if one traces a reasonable trajectory from current developments in the Middle East, the handwriting is already on the wall. Since no other area is capable of replacing the Middle East as the world’s premier oil exporter, the oil economy will shrivel — and with it, the global economy as a whole.

Consider the recent rise in the price of oil just a faint and early tremor heralding the oilquake to come. Oil won’t disappear from international markets, but in the coming decades it will never reach the volumes needed to satisfy projected world demand, which means that, sooner rather than later, scarcity will become the dominant market condition. Only the rapid development of alternative sources of energy and a dramatic reduction in oil consumption might spare the world the most severe economic repercussions.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. A documentary film version of his previous book, “Blood and Oil,” is available from the Media Education Foundation. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which Klare explains how resource scarcity is driving protest and much else on our planet, click here, or download it to your iPod here.

Part I of a Two Part Article.

Read Part II.


“Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil

- by Prof Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-03-09

The US and NATO are supporting an armed insurrection in Eastern Libya, with a view to justifying a “humanitarian intervention”.

This is not a non-violent protest movement as in Egypt and Tunisia. Conditions in Libya are fundamentally different. The armed insurgency in Eastern Libya is directly supported by foreign powers. The insurrection in Benghazi immediately hoisted the red, black and green banner with the crescent and star: the flag of the monarchy of King Idris, which symbolized the rule of the former colonial powers. (See  Manlio Dinucci, Libya-When historical memory is erased, Global Research, Febraury 28, 2011)

US and NATO military advisers and special forces are already on the ground. The operation was planned to coincide with the protest movement in neighbouring Arab countries. Public opinion was led to believe that the protest movement had spread spontaneously from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya. 

The Obama administration in consultation with its allies is assisting an armed rebellion, namely an attempted coup d’Etat:

“The Obama administration stands ready to offer “any type of assistance” to Libyans seeking to oust Moammar Gadhafi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said [February 27]  “we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well,” Clinton said. “I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.” Efforts are under way to form a provisional government in the eastern part of the country where the rebellion began at midmonth.

The U.S., Clinton said, is threatening more measures against Gadhafi’s government, but did not say what they were or when they might be announced.

The U.S. should “recognize some provisional government that they are trying to set already up…” [McCain]

Lieberman spoke in similar terms, urging “tangible support, (a) no-fly zone, recognition of the revolutionary government, the citizens’ government and support for them with both humanitarian assistance and I would provide them with arms.”

(Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition – Associated, Press, February 27, 2011, emphasis added)

The Planned Invasion

A military intervention is now contemplated by US NATO forces under a “humanitarian mandate”.

–”The United States is moving naval and air forces in the region” to “prepare the full range of options” in the confrontation with Libya: Pentagon spokesperson Col. Dave Lapan of the Marines made this announcement [March 1]. He then said that “It was President Obama who asked the military to prepare for these options,” because the situation in Libya is getting worse.” ( Manlio Dinucci, Preparing for “Operation Libya”: The Pentagon is “Repositioning” its Naval and Air Forces…, Global Research, March 3, 2011, emphasis added)

The real objective of “Operation Libya” is not to establish democracy but to take possession of Libya’s oil reserves, destabilize the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize the country’s oil industry, namely transfer the control and ownership of Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands. The National Oil Corporation (NOC) is ranked 25 among the world’s Top 100 Oil Companies. (The Energy Intelligence ranks NOC 25 among the world’s Top 100 companies. – Libyaonline.com)

Libya is among the World’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US. (for further details see Part II of this article, “Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil)

The planned invasion of Libya, which is already underway is part of the broader “Battle for Oil”.  Close to 80 percent of Libya’s oil reserves are located in the Sirte Gulf basin of Eastern Libya. (See map below)

The strategic assumptions behind “Operation Libya” are reminiscent of previous US-NATO military undertakings in Yugoslavia and Iraq.

In Yugoslavia, US-NATO forces triggered a civil war. The objective was to create political and ethnic divisions, which eventually led to the break up of an entire country. This objective was achieved through the covert funding and training of armed paramilitary armies, first in Bosnia (Bosnian Muslim Army, 1991-95) and subsequently in Kosovo (Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), 1998-1999). In both Kosovo and Bosnia, media disinformation (including outright lies and fabrications) were used to support US-EU claims that the Belgrade government had committed atrocities, thereby justifying a military intervention on humanitarian grounds.

Ironically, “Operation Yugoslavia” is now on the lips of US foreign policy makers: Senator Lieberman has “likened the situation in Libya to the events in the Balkans in the 1990s when he said the U.S. “intervened to stop a genocide against Bosnians. And the first we did was to provide them the arms to defend themselves. That’s what I think we ought to do in Libya.” (Clinton: US ready to aid to Libyan opposition – Associated, Press, February 27, 2011, emphasis added

The strategic scenario would be to push towards the formation and recognition of an interim government of the secessionist province, with a view to eventually breaking up the country.

This option is already underway. The invasion of Libya has already commenced.

“Hundreds of US, British and French military advisers have arrived in Cyrenaica, Libya’s eastern breakaway province,… The advisers, including intelligence officers, were dropped from warships and missile boats at the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk” (DEBKAfile, US military advisers in Cyrenaica, February 25, 2011)

US and allied special forces are on the ground in Eastern Libya, providing covert support to the rebels  This was recognized when British SAS Special Forces commandos were arrested in the Benghazi region. They were acting as military advisers to opposition forces:

 ” Eight British special forces commandos, on a secret mission to put British diplomats in touch with leading opponents of Col Muammar Gadaffi in Libya, ended in humiliation after they were held by rebel forces in eastern Libya, The Sunday Times reported today.

The men, armed but in plain clothes, claimed they were there to check the opposition’s needs and offer help.” (Top UK commandos captured by rebel forces in Libya: Report, Indian Express, March 6, 2011, emphasis added)

The SAS forces were arrested while escorting a British “diplomatic mission” which entered the country illegally (no doubt from a British warship) for discussions with leaders of the rebellion. The British foreign office has acknowledged that “a small British diplomatic team  [had been] sent to eastern Libya to initiate contacts with the rebel-backed opposition”.   U.K. diplomatic team leaves Libya – World – CBC News, March 6, 2011).

Ironically, the reports not only confirm Western military intervention (including several hundred special forces), they also acknowledge that the rebellion was firmly opposed to the illegal presence of foreign troops on Libyan soil:

“The SAS’s intervention angered Libyan opposition figures who ordered the soldiers to be locked up on a military base. Gadaffi’s opponents fear he could use any evidence of western military interference to rally patriotic support for his regime.” (Reuters, March 6, 2011)

The captured British “diplomat” with seven special forces soldiers was a member of British Intelligence, an MI6 agent on a “secret mission”. (The Sun, March 7, 2011) 

Confirmed by US NATO statements, weapons are being supplied to opposition forces. There are indications although no clear evidence so far that weapons were delivered to the insurgents prior to the onslaught of the rebellion. In all likelihood, US NATO military and intelligence advisers were also on the ground prior to the insurgency. This was the pattern applied in Kosovo: special forces supporting and training the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the months prior to the 1999 bombing campaign and invasion of Yugoslavia.  

As events unfold, however, Libyan government forces have regained control over rebel positions:

 ”The big offensive pro-Qaddafi forces launched [March 4]  to wrest from rebel hands control of Libya’s most important towns and oil centers resulted [March 5] in the recapture of the key town of Zawiya and most of the oil towns around the Gulf of Sirte. In Washington and London, talk of military intervention on the side of the Libyan opposition was muted by the realization that field intelligence on both sides of the Libyan conflict was too sketchy to serve as a basis for decision-making.” (Debkafile, Qaddafi pushes rebels back. Obama names Libya intel panel, March 5, 2011, emphasis added)

The opposition movement is firmly divided regarding the issue of foreign intervention.

The division is between the grassroots movement on the one hand and the US supported “leaders” of the armed insurrection who favor foreign military intervention on “humanitarian grounds”.

The majority of the Libyan population, both the supporters and opponents of the regime, are firmly opposed to any form of outside intervention.

Media Disinformation

The broad strategic objectives underlying the proposed invasion are not mentioned by the media. Following a deceitful media campaign, where news was literally fabricated without reporting on what was actually happening on the ground, a large sector of international public opinion has granted its unbending support to foreign intervention, on humanitarian grounds.

The invasion is on the Pentagon’s drawing board. It is slated to be carried out irrespective of the demands of the people of Libya including the opponents of the regime, who have voiced their aversion to foreign military intervention in derogation of the nation’s sovereignty.

Naval and Air Force Deployment

Were this military intervention to be carried out it would result in an all out war, a blitzkrieg, implying the bombing of military as well as civilian targets.

In this regard, General James Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command, (USCENTCOM), has intimated that the establishment of a “no fly zone” would de facto involve an all out bombing campaign, targeting inter alia Libya’s air defense system:

‘It would be a military operation – it wouldn’t be just telling people not to fly airplanes. ‘You would have to remove air defence capability in order to establish a no-fly zone, so no illusions here.’ (U.S. general warns no-fly zone could lead to all-out war in Libya, Mail Online, March 5, 2011, emphasis added).

A massive US and allied naval power has been deployed along the Libyan coastline.

The Pentagon is moving its warships to the Mediterranean. Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise had transited through the Suez Canal within a few days following the insurrection. ( http://www.enterprise.navy.mil )

U.S. amphibious warships, USS Ponce and USS Kearsarge, have also been deployed in the Mediterranean. 

USS Enterprise transits the Suez Canal in Egypt, February 15, 2011, handout photo, U.S. N

400 US Marines have been dispatched to the Greek Island of Crete “ahead of their deployment on warships off Libya” ( “Operation Libya”: US Marines on Crete for Libyan deployment, times of Malta, March 3, 2011).

Meanwhile Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Italy are in the process of deploying war vessels along the Libyan coast. 

Germany has deployed three war ships using the pretext of assisting in the evacuation of refugees on the Libya-Tunisia border. “France has decided to send the Mistral, its helicopter-carrier, which, according to the Defense Ministry will contribute to evacuation of thousands of Egyptians.” (Towards the Coasts of Libya: US, French and British Warships Enter the Mediterranean, Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, March 3, 2011) Canada has dispatch (March 2) Navy Frigate HMCS Charlottetown. 

Meanwhile, US 17th Air Force, named US Air Force Africa based at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany is assisting in evacuation of refugees. US-NATO air force facilities in Britain, Italy, France and the Middle East are on standby. 

Photo: DPA

Read Part II  of this Article:
“Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil
- by Prof Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-03-09

Ursprünglich im 17./18. Mai 2007 veröffentlicht.

Die NATO (engl. North Atlantic Treaty Organization, deu. Organisation des Nordatlantikvertrags) hat sich nach der Auflösung des Warschauer Paktes und dem Zusammenbruch der Sowjetunion nicht grundsätzlich verändert. In der Folge des kalten Krieges expandierte die Nato immer weiter. Im Jahre 1999, vor dem Nato-Krieg gegen Jugoslawien, expandierte die NATO nach Osteuropa hinein.

Die NATO ist fest entschlossen, sowohl den Kreis ihrer Mitglieder als auch ihren Auftrag auszudehnen. Schliesslich ist die NATO dafür vorgesehen, eine globale militärische Macht zu werden. Zudem ist es ein Ziel der NATO, als globale militärische Allianz die «Energie-Sicherheit» seiner Mitgliedstaaten zu gewährleisten. Das zeigt die Militarisierung der «Lebensadern» der Welt, nämlich der strategischen Pipeline-Routen, der Seeverkehrskorridore, die von Öltankern benutzt werden, und der internationalen Gewässer.

«Klausel der gegenseitigen Verteidigung» zur Kontrolle der Energieressourcen?

US-Senator Richard Lugar hat dazu aufgerufen, dass die NATO jedem Mitglied des Militärbündnisses, wie zum Beispiel den USA zu Hilfe kommen sollte, wenn deren Energiequellen bedroht wären. Die Rechtfertigung einer solchen Intervention falle unter die Bestimmung über die gegenseitige Verteidigung (Artikel 5 des NATO-Vertrages). Senator Lugars Idee erfährt starke Unterstützung von seiten der osteuropäischen Mitglieder der NATO und von der EU, die für ihre Energieversorgung von der Russischen Förderation abhängig sind.

Senator Lugar wurde folgendermassen zitiert: «[Die NATO] sollte begreifen, dass es im Grunde kaum einen Unterschied gibt zwischen einem Mitglied, das gezwungen ist, sich wegen eines Unterbruchs in der Energieversorgung zu unterwerfen, und einem Mitglied, das mit einer militärischen Blockade oder anderen militärischen Operationen an seinen Grenzen konfrontiert ist.» [1]
 
Artikel 5 formuliert die Grundlagen für die NATO. Dementsprechend bedeutet der Angriff auf ein Mitglied der NATO einen Angriff auf alle Mitglieder. Artikel 5 des Nato-Vertrages, die «gegenseitige Verteidigung», ist die Basis für den Aufbau der Nato. Unabhängig von jeder Interpretation dieser Klausel bezüglich der Energieversorgungssicherheit würde jedes NATO-Mitglied, das von seinen Energiequellen abgeschnitten wird, sich auf die Hilfe der übrigen militärischen Verbündeten verlassen können. Artikel 5 könnte auch so interpretiert werden, dass der Unterbruch der Energieversorgung bei einem NATO-Mitglied als eine Aggression oder Kriegshandlung definiert werden könnte. Anzumerken ist, dass fast alle NATO-Mitglieder nicht über eigene Energiequellen verfügen.
 
Es überrascht nicht, dass Russland über die verstärkten Energiesicherheitsmassnahmen innerhalb der NATO sehr verärgert und am Ende seiner Geduld ist. Wenn eine solche Doktrin von der NATO angenommen würde, könnte sie als Rechtfertigung für die Auferlegung von ökonomischen und politischen Sanktionen gegen Russland und andere energieproduzierende Länder verwendet werden. Die Klausel könnte auch ein Mandat für Angriffe auf Russland oder jedes andere energieexportierende Land liefern ? einschliess­lich Iran, Turkmenistan, Libyen und Venezuela ? mit dem Ziel, sich der Rohstoffe und der natürlichen Energieressourcen dieser Länder zu bemächtigen.

Der EU-Handelskommissar Peter Mandelson sagte in einem Statement: «Beide [Russ­land und die EU] glauben, dass der jeweils andere die Energiewaffe als politisches Instrument benutzt.» Der EU-Handelskommissar fügte hinzu, dass die Beziehungen zwischen der EU und Russland auf dem schlechtesten Stand seit dem kalten Krieg seien und dass «Europa Sicherheit in der Energieversorgung wünscht». [2]

Neben einigen anderen Gründen halten Russland und seine Verbündeten das globale Raketenabwehrprojekt der USA und der NATO für ein Instrument, mit dem sie sich durch die Androhung von Gewalt die russischen und weltweiten Energievorräte unrechtmässig aneignen möchten. Russland wie auch China und Iran sind von einer militärischen Front eingekreist. Russland sieht dies als Teil der Bemühungen der NATO an, Russland und seine Verbündeten zu umzingeln.

Globale Expansion ? Integration der NATO als weltweites Militärbündnis

«Die NATO hat sich aus ihren Ursprüngen während des kalten Kriegs und als Regionalmacht in den 90er Jahren in eine transatlantische Institution mit globaler Mission, globaler Reichweite und globalen Partnern gewandelt. Diese Transformation ist in Afghanistan wohl am deutlichsten: hier wird die NATO eingesetzt, aber sie hat eine Grenze überschritten: Die in-area/out-of-area-Debatte, die während der 90er Jahre soviel Zeit gekostet hat, ist endgültig vorbei. Es gibt keine in-/ und kein out-of-area. Alles ist potentiell NATO-Gebiet. Das bedeutet nicht, dass die NATO eine globale Organisation ist. Sie ist eine transatlantische Organisation, aber Artikel 5 gilt jetzt weltweit. Die Nato ist in einem Prozess, in welchem sie die Fähigkeiten und die poli­tischen Ambitionen entwickelt, mit Problemen und Eventualitäten überall auf der Welt fertig zu werden. Das ist eine riesige Veränderung.»

-Daniel Fried, Staatssekretär für europäische und eurasische Angelegenheiten im US-Aussenministerium (17. April 2007)

Die NATO beabsichtigt ausserdem, «globale Reichweite» zu erringen. Durch diesen Prozess würde sie sich in eine weltweite Militärmacht verwandeln, mit Mitgliedsstaaten ausserhalb Nordamerikas und des europäischen Kontinents. Die NATO hat schon einen Übergang der «Globalisierung» ihrer Streitkräfte und Operationen initiiert, wenn auch noch nicht offiziell. Die NATO ist stark in Afghanistan und in Zentralasien involviert; es gibt NATO-Basen in Afghanistan, an den unmittelbaren Grenzen zu China und Iran. Ausserdem hat die Nato ihre Präsenz im Balkan verstärkt; ausgelöst durch ihren Einsatz im früheren Jugoslawien. Die NATO sieht ausserdem weitgehende militärische Operationen im Sudan vor. Allgemeinere Pläne gibt es für den afrikanischen Kontinent. Die Gegner dieser Pläne bezeichnen sie als «Maskerade friedenserhaltender Massnahmen».

Die NATO ist ausserdem in Libanon mit Bodentruppen im Einsatz, wenn auch nur informell. [3] Eine Marineflotte von Nato-Kriegsschiffen ist auch in den Gewässern von Ostafrika, im Roten Meer und im Arabischen Meer im Einsatz. Die Seestreitkräfte von NATO-Ländern wie Deutschland und Dänemark sind auch im östlichen Mittelmeer präsent und können im Falle eines Krieges Syrien angreifen. [4]

Die Nato-Erweiterung im Persischen Golf bewegt sich auf Iran zu

Die NATO hat sich im Persischen Golf ausdrücklich eingeschaltet, obwohl dort die Streitkräfte einiger Nato-Staaten in Wirklichkeit schon seit den Zeiten des kalten Krieges operieren. Scheich Tamer Ali Saba Al-Salem Al-Saba, der Direktor des Nationalen Sicherheitsapparates in Kuwait, kündigte an, dass Kuwait ein Sicherheitsabkommen mit der NATO unterzeichnet habe während einer GCC-NATO-Konferenz, die vom 11. bis 12. Dezember 2006 stattfand.

Der GCC (Golf-Kooperationsrat), der mittlerweile umbenannt worden ist in The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (Der Kooperationsrat der Arabischen Golfstaaten) schliesst Saudi-Arabien, Kuwait, die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate, Katar, Bah­rain und Oman ein. Der GCC hat bereits ein militärisches Übereinkommen zwischen seinen Mitgliedern, nämlich die Gulf Shield Defence Force, und individuelle, bilaterale Sicherheitsübereinkommen mit den USA und Grossbritannien abgeschlossen. Die Nato hat mit Katar, Kuwait und den anderen Mitgliedern der GCC mit dem Ziel Gespräche geführt, eine formellere Präsenz der NATO im Persischen Golf und eine neue Sicherheitsvereinbarung gegen Iran zu etablieren.

Diese neue regionale Balance im Persischen Golf ist Teil einer weiteren Allianz im Nahen Osten, die mit der NATO verbunden ist. Saudiarabien, Jordanien, Ägypten, Israel, die Vereinigten Staaten, Grossbritannien und die NATO, daneben den GCC, sie sind alle Teil dieser Koalition im Nahen Osten. [5] Dieses militärische Bündnis oder diese Vereinigung repräsentiert im wesentlichen eine Ausweitung des «Mittelmeerraum-Dialogs» der NATO nach Osten. Die Mitglieder dieser Koalition aus dem Nahen Osten, einschliess­lich Israels und Saudiarabiens, werden als die «Koalition der Gemässigten» bezeichnet, wogegen Iran und Syrien nachgesagt wird, sie führten eine «Koalition der Radikalen/Extremisten».

Neben der Implikation einer Konfrontation mit Iran bekräftigt diese Zusammenarbeit zwischen GCC und Nato, dass die Nato darauf hinarbeitet, eine globale Institution und Militärmacht zu werden. Der Nahe Osten ist ein wichtiges geostrategisches und energiereiches Gebiet der Nato-Ausweitung. Die Vorposten der NATO in der Region sind die Türkei und Israel.
 
Die Vereinigten Staaten haben ihr Raketen­arsenal im Persischen Golf schon aufgebaut und grosse Mengen militärischen Geräts und Radarsysteme in den Persischen Golf transportiert. Ursprünglich war die Rechtfertigung für den Einsatz militärischen Geräts am Persischen Golf der «weltweite Krieg gegen den Terror», dann die Invasion im Irak 2003; jetzt lautet die neue Rechtfertigung, Schutz der amerikanischen Verbündeten im Persischen Golf, einschliesslich der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate, Kuwaits und Saudiarabiens, vor einer iranischen Bedrohung mit Raketengeschossen.
 
Die GCC-NATO-Konferenz ist unter das Mandat der Istanbul Cooperation Initiative gestellt worden und thematisierte folgendes: «Angesichts gemeinsamer Herausforderungen», was Iran direkt als Ziel einer militärischen Sicherheitskooperation zwischen GCC und Nato benennt. [6]

Einkreisung Irans durch Nato-Verbündete

Des weiteren fand die GCC-NATO-Konferenz statt, nachdem die GCC-Mitglieder, nämlich die Vereinigten Staaten, Grossbritannien, Frankreich und Australien, Übungsmanöver im Persischen Golf abgehalten hatten. Was zusätzlich demonstriert, dass die Zusammenarbeit zwischen den zwei Zweigen der NATO, der französisch-deutsche Zweig und das anglo-amerikanische Bündnis, vor der historischen NATO-Konferenz 2006 in Riga (Lettland) initiiert worden war.[7]

Die GCC-Vereinbarungen mit der NATO sind ausserdem bezeichnend, weil sie bedeuten, dass der Persische Golf möglicherweise von der französisch-deutschen Entente und der anglo-amerikanischen Allianz geteilt und zwischen ihnen aufgeteilt wird.
 
Obwohl Scheich Tamer Ali Saba Al-Salem Al-Saba und kuwaitische Führer versucht haben, die Bedeutung der Kooperation zwischen Kuwait und der Nato herunterzuspielen, weist die Kooperation auf eine NATO-Expansion und eine wahrscheinliche Konfrontation mit Iran hin. Die kuwaitischen Offiziellen unterstrichen auch, dass es das Ziel der Konferenz gewesen sei, Nutzen aus verschiedenen Erfahrungen der NATO auf Grund ihrer multinationalen Struktur zu ziehen. Die Führer der GCC sind in ihrer Zusammenarbeit mit den Streitkräften der USA und Grossbritanniens durch den angloamerikanischen Militäraufbau und der Ausweitung der NATO in den Persischen Golf ermutigt worden. Kürzlich hat Scheich Kalif bin Ahmed Al-Kalifa, Verteidigungsminister von Bahrain, gesagt, dass die arabischen Scheichtümer am Persischen Golf «in der Lage» seien, auf jede Attacke des benachbarten Iran hin zurückzuschlagen, und dass sie «mit Gewaltanwendung reagieren würden», falls Iran im Zuge eines US-Militärschlags oder eines Angriffs die Strasse von Hormuz blockieren würde.8 Es ist ausserdem kein Zufall, dass die Führer Kuwaits erklärt haben, sie seien für einen von Amerika geführten Angriff auf Iran und den Ausbruch eines Krieges im Nahen Osten bereit. [9]

Es sollte festgehalten werden, dass jegliche Angriffe Irans auf die arabischen Scheichtümer des Persischen Golfs eine Folge von deren Kooperation mit den USA und ihrer Zustimmung zur Nutzung durch das US-Militär und seine Verbündeten ihres Luftraumes, ihrer Gewässer und ihrer Territorien gegen Iran sei. Die Führer dieser Nationen haben die USA und Grossbritannien auch bei der Invasion im Irak unterstützt und sie sind Gastgeber grosser amerikanischer Boden-, Luft- und Marine-Stützpunkte.

Das letzte Ziel der NATO: das Einkreisen von Russland, China und deren Verbündeten

«Der erste und wichtigste Bereich, in dem ein Wandel stattfinden muss, ist die Weiterentwicklung unserer Fähigkeit, für den Osten Stabilität zu entwerfen.»

-NATO-Generalsekretär Manfred Wörner

Die Aussage von US-Verteidigungsminister Robert Gates vor dem Kongress am 7. Februar, der das Militärbudget des Pentagon für 2008 vorstellte, bestätigt, dass die Vereinigten Staaten - neben Iran - China und Russland immer noch als potentielle Gegner betrachten.
 
Minister Gates sagte dem US-Senat, dass sowohl Russland als auch China für die Vereinigten Staaten Bedrohungen darstellten: «Zusätzlich dazu, dass wir den weltweiten Krieg gegen den Terror durchfechten, sind wir ausserdem konfrontiert mit den ungewissen Wegen von China und Russland, welche beide hochentwickelte militärische Modernisierungsprogramme verfolgen.» [10]
 
Die eigentliche Frage lautet: Sind die Russen und Chinesen für die USA eine Gefahr, oder ist es umgekehrt? Und auch: Sind China und Russland eine ökonomische Bedrohung für die USA? Der russische Aussenminister und die russische Regierung forderten daraufhin fast sofort eine offizielle Erklärung des Weissen Hauses für diese Drohungen.

Die Reaktion der Russen wurde zunehmend besorgt, da sie realisierten, dass sie umzingelt werden. Es ist schon seit längerer Zeit so, dass Russland, China und deren Verbündete langsam eingekreist werden. China sieht sich einer militarisierten östlichen Grenze in Asien gegenüber, während Iran praktisch umzingelt ist, und Russlands westliche Grenzen sind von der NATO infiltriert worden. Die Expansion der NATO geht weiter, ungeachtet des Endes des kalten Krieges und ungeachtet der Versprechungen der Militärallianz (NATO), sie werde nicht expandieren. Militärbasen und Raketenabschussanlagen kreisen China, Iran und die russische Förderation ein.

Russland ist stärkeren militärischen Bedrohungen ausgesetzt als während des kalten Krieges

Im Februar 2007 auf der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz in Deutschland stellte Präsident Vladimir Putin fest, dass die Nato die Russische Förderation ins Visier nehme, und er erinnerte die NATO auch daran, dass sie versichert habe, dieser militärische Block würde sich nicht ostwärts bewegen. [11]
 
Auch der kürzlich verstorbene Boris Jelzin machte ähnliche Aussagen über die Ausdehnung der NATO im Zusammenhang mit dem Beitritt der baltischen Staaten zu dem Militärblock. Die Rede von Präsident Vladimir Putin war bis jetzt die deutlichste Äusserung von seiten Russlands, und sie ist ein Zeichen dafür, dass Russland beginnt, diese Drohung an seinen unmittelbaren Grenzen zu spüren - vom russischen Fernen Osten bis zur Grenze mit Georgien und in Osteuropa.
 
Aus russischer Perspektive betrachtet sich die NATO nicht länger der Politik einer «friedlichen Koexistenz» verpflichtet. General Juri Balujewski, Chef des Generalstabes der russischen Streitkräfte und Stellvertretender Verteidigungsminister, warnte die Russen, dass sie sich mittlerweile stärkeren militärischen Bedrohungen gegenübersehen als während des kalten Krieges. Sowohl der russische Präsident als auch General Balujewski haben als Antwort auf die wachsenden und neu entstehenden Bedrohungen von seiten der Vereinigten Staaten und der NATO eine neue Militärdoktrin gefordert. [12]
 
Die Militärprojekte, die von den Vereinigten Staaten, verschiedenen NATO-Verbündeten in Europa (namentlich Grossbritannien, Polen und Tschechische Republik) und den Japanern für die Einrichtung von zwei parallelen Raketenabwehrschilden vorangetrieben werden, bedrohen sowohl Russland als auch China. Ein Raketenabwehrschild wird in Europa stationiert sein und der andere im Fernen Osten. Diese Raketenabwehrschilde werden unter dem Vorwand hypothetischer iranischer und nordkoreanischer Bedrohungen gegenüber den Vereinigten Staaten, ­Europa, Südkorea und Japan gefordert.
 
«Dies ist ein sehr dringendes und politisch wichtiges Problem, und das könnte uns in einen neuen Rüstungswettlauf hineinziehen», kommentiert Generaloberst Juri Solow­jow, ein Befehlshaber der russischen Streitkräfte in bezug auf die Anlagen, die Teil des Raketenabwehrprojekts sind, die in der Nähe der russischen Grenze in Osteuropa errichtet werden sollen. [13]

Es gibt auch eine Diskussion darüber, ob ein weiterer Raketenabwehrschild im Kaukasus errichtet werden solle oder möglicherweise sogar in der Ukraine. Aserbeidschan und Georgien sind mögliche Kandidaten für die Unterbringung des Raketenabwehrprojekts im Kaukasus.

Das Projekt ist nicht in erster Linie gegen Iran, sondern gegen Russland gerichtet

«Unsere Analyse zeigt, dass die Einrichtung einer ?radio locating station? in Tschechien und die Antiraketenausrüstung in Polen eine wirkliche Bedrohung für uns [Russland] sind», erläuterte Generalleutnant Wladimir Popowkin, Befehlshaber der russischen Space Forces. Er erklärte darüber hinaus: «Es ist äusserst zweifelhaft, ob die Bestandteile des nationalen Raketenabwehrsystems der Vereinigten Staaten in Osteuropa gegen iranische Geschosse gerichtet sind, wie [von US-Beamten] behauptet.» [14]

Das Raketenprojekt in der Tschechischen Republik wird auch von der Mehrheit der tschechischen Bevölkerung abgelehnt. [15] Der Wille des tschechischen Volkes sowie der Wille des amerikanischen, britischen, italienischen, kanadischen und japanischen Volkes wird fortlaufend von ihren jeweiligen Regierungen ignoriert. Mit anderen Worten, diese sogenannten demokratischen Regierungen sind äusserst undemokratisch, was militärische Planung und Kriegseinsätze im Ausland betrifft.
 
Die Grenzen von Russland und China werden von der NATO militarisiert, und das weitere Netzwerk der militärischen Verbündeten wird durch die Vereinigten Staaten organisiert. Überraschenderweise ist die Türkei nicht als Standort für ein Raketenabwehrschild ausgewählt worden ? die Türkei, Mitglied der Nato im Nahen Osten, Irans direkter Nachbar und damit eine folgerichtige Wahl für jegliche Anlagen des Raketenabwehrschilds, die als Schutz gegen eine angebliche Bedrohung durch iranische Raketengeschosse dienen sollten. Die Tatsache, dass das Raketenabwehrprojekt in Polen und der Tschechischen Republik statt in der Türkei und auf dem Balkan errichtet werden soll, legt die Vermutung nahe, dass das Projekt nicht in erster Linie gegen Iran, sondern gegen Russ­land gerichtet ist.

Raketenabwehrprojekt im Fernen Osten

Das andere Raketenabwehrprojekt im Fernen Osten grenzt - abgesehen von Nordkorea - an Chinas dichtbesiedelte östliche Provinzen und den Ressourcen-reichen Fernen Osten Russlands. Dieser asiatische Raketenschild wird vermutlich in Japan lokalisiert sein, möglicherweise mit Anlagen in Südkorea. Japan und die Vereinigten Staaten begannen ein gemeinsames Forschungsprojekt zur Raketenabwehr im Jahr 1999, dem Jahr der NATO-Erweiterung und des NATO-Krieges gegen Jugoslawien. [16] Auch Taiwan ist ein entscheidendes Bindeglied bei der Militarisierung der Grenze nach China.
 
Sobald die Bildung eines internationalen militärischen Netzwerkes vollendet ist, wird die wirkliche Basis für die Schaffung der zwei parallelen Raketenabwehrschild-Projekte vollständig sichtbar werden. Diese beiden militärischen Projekte sind nicht getrennt voneinander, sondern miteinander verbunden. Sie sind Teil der Globalisierung der NATO und einer breiteren militärischen Allianz, die dabei ist, Russland, China und deren Verbündete einzukreisen.
 
Einhergehend mit der Entwicklung dieses weltweiten militärischen Netzwerkes haben die NATO und die USA ein Unternehmen zur Kontrolle der Weltmeere gestartet. Die Hochsee, der internationale Handel und der Schiffsverkehr stehen gleichfalls im Fokus eines verdichteten Kontrollsystems, dessen Anführer die US-Regierung ist.  

Eine Leine um China legen: Die Bedeutung Taiwans, Singapurs und der strategischen Öl­routen zur See

Die Vereinigten Staaten haben starke militärische Verbindungen zu Taiwan, weil Taiwan einen logistischen «Drehbohrer» für militärisches Engagement gegen China und die chinesische Energiesicherheit bietet. Taiwan ist deshalb geostrategisch so wichtig, weil die Insel zwischen der süd- und der ostchinesischen See liegt. Die Vereinigten Staaten messen Taiwans Position im Hinblick auf die wichtigen und strategischen Seeschifffahrtswege, über die Öl und andere Ressourcen nach China gebracht werden, eine entscheidende Bedeutung bei. Es ist viel über die wichtigen geostrategischen Ölrouten in Zentralasien und über die wichtigen Landkorridore diskutiert worden, aber man sollte auch den strategischen Ölrouten zur See oder den internationalen Schiffahrtswegen Aufmerksamkeit schenken. Energielieferungen sind eng verknüpft mit der nationalen Sicherheit Chinas, also mit der chinesischen Entwicklung und der chinesischen Militärstärke. Sollte Chinas Ölversorgung im Falle eines Krieges abgeschnitten oder, was wahrscheinlicher wäre, verzögert werden, würde es verwundbar sein und könnte möglicherweise gelähmt und erstickt werden. Ein Ring zur See rund um China würde einem solchen Vorhaben dienen.

 

Kontrolle über den Energiezufluss nach China

Die Strassen von Taiwan und Malakka sind für den Transport von Öl und Ressourcen nach China geostrategisch lebenswichtig. Wer auch immer beide Strassen kontrolliert, hat immer auch die Kontrolle über den Energiefluss nach China unter den gegenwärtig gegebenen Bedingungen. Es würde ein harter Schlag für China sein, falls die Strassen blockiert und die Durchfahrt der Öltanker gestoppt oder verzögert würde, so wie es ein Schlag für die Vereinigten Staaten und die EU wäre, wenn die Strasse von Hormuz durch Iran blockiert würde.
 
Und so geschieht es, dass die US-Kriegsflotte diese Schiffahrtswege beherrscht. Bis China eine sichere Bezugsquelle der Energiezufuhr auf einer Route hat, die nicht von den Vereinigten Staaten kontrolliert wird, wird China weiterhin durch die US-Kriegsflotte verwundbar sein, die fortwährend sowohl die Strasse von Taiwan als auch die Strasse von Malakka überwacht.
 
Auf Grund dieser Gegebenheiten sind sowohl Taiwan als auch Singapur enge Verbündete der Vereinigten Staaten. Ausserdem sind Singapur und Taiwan hochmilitarisiert, mit dem Ziel, Kontrolle über diese beiden lebensnotwendigen Meerengen auszuüben. Sollte es zu einem Krieg zwischen China und den Vereinigten Staaten kommen, haben Singapur und Taiwan im Verbund mit der US-Kriegsflotte schon Krisenpläne, um die Ölzufuhr nach China abzuschneiden.

Obwohl die Strasse von Malakka innerhalb des Seehoheitsgebietes von Malaysia liegt, zielt die schnelle Militarisierung von Singapur darauf ab, diese zu kontrollieren und - falls notwendig - die Durchfahrt von Öltankern durch die Strasse von Malakka zu blockieren. Das würde die Energiezufuhr nach China im Falle eines Krieges zwischen den USA und China abschneiden. Die Einrichtungen der Flotte von Singapur sind ausserdem hoch spezialisiert auf die Bedienung von Kriegsschiffen und Unterseebooten und werden durch die US-Kriegsflotte stark genutzt.

Trans-Asien-Energie-Korridor

China weiss, dass es durch militärische Intervention gegen seine Energieversorgung verwundbar ist. Deshalb haben die Chinesen ihre Seestützpunkte entwickelt und drängen darauf, dass Ölterminals und Energie-Korridore über Landrouten direkt aus Zentralasien und der Russischen Föderation nach China gebaut werden. Die chinesische Kooperation mit Russland, Iran und den Republiken von Zentralasien dient dem Vorhaben, einen Trans-Asien-Energie-Korridor zu schaffen, der einen kontinuierlichen Energiezufluss nach China für den Fall einer von Amerika angeführten Seeblockade auf hoher See sicherstellen würde. Es gibt Gespräche über die Entwicklung einer Gaspipeline von Iran nach Pakistan, Indien und China in Zusammenarbeit mit Russland. [17]

Die Chinesen haben ausserdem gegen die Vorhaben und Initiativen, die gegen die Erd­erwärmung vorgeschlagen wurden, Einspruch erhoben. China argumentiert, dass die Klimadebatte eine kalkulierte Kampfansage gegen das ökonomische Wachstum Chinas und der Entwicklungsländer ist. Die Chinesen glauben, dass es das Ziel der Initiativen zum Klimawandel von seiten der Vereinigten Staaten und der EU ist, sie dazu zu zwingen, ihren Kohlendioxidausstoss in einem solchen Ausmass herunterzufahren, dass es ihre industrielle und ökonomische Dynamik erschüttert. [18]

 

Flottenaufbau im Indischen Ozean und an der östlichen Flanke Chinas

Rund um China wurden immer mehr Seestreitkräfte, inklusive einer Verstärkung der U-Boot-Geschwader in der asiatisch-pazifischen Region, aufgebaut. Ein australischer Bericht ? herausgegeben vom Australischen Institut für strategische Grundsätze (Australian Strategic Policy Institute - ASPI) - hat davor gewarnt, dass ein asiatisches Wettrüsten im Gange sei. Im Bericht steht: «In einem Bogen, der sich von Pakistan und Indien über Südost-Asien bis nach Japan erstreckt, ist eine auffallende Modernisierung und (militärische) Ausdehnung im Gange.» [19]

Auch China ist daran, «militärische Streitkräfte aufzubauen und richtet militärische Basen entlang den Seefahrtswegen aus dem Nahen Osten ein. China zeigt seine überseeische Macht und will damit seine Öltankertransporte schützen. So heisst es in einem vorher geheimgehaltenen internen Bericht, der für den Staatssekretär für Verteidigung, Donald Rumsfeld, erstellt wurde». [20] Dies wurde von Bill Gertz von der «Washington Times» berichtet.

China verfolgt eine initiative, aktive Strategie für seine Seestreitkräfte mit dem Ziel der Absicherung des Ost- und Südchinesischen Meeres und des Indischen Ozeans. Diese Gewässerregionen sind mit den internationalen Seefahrtswegen für Rohstoffe identisch, auf denen das Öl aus Afrika und aus dem Mittleren Osten nach China transportiert wird. Das Ziel Chinas ist es, die chinesische Energieversorgung, das heisst seine Lebensader, vor US-Seestreitkräften und deren Alliierten zu schützen. Das Pentagon bezeichnet die maritimen Militärbasen auf Grund ihrer geostrategischen Bedeutung für das Gleichgewicht der Seestreitkräfte im Indischen Ozean als «eine Perlenkette». [21]

Sri Lanka von geostrategischer Bedeutung

Die chinesischen Anlagen werden alle entlang dieses lebensnotwendigen Korridors installiert. Der Marinehafen Gwadar in Pakistan, am Ufer des Arabischen Meeres, wurde von den Chinesen geplant und gebaut. Auch wurde mit Sri Lanka (Ceylon) eine Vereinbarung unterschrieben, durch die China den Zutritt zum Hafen Hambatota am südlichen Rand der Insel erhält. [22]

China hat auch den Bau eines Marine­hafens in Myanmar (Burma) geplant; Burma ist ein geostrategisch wichtiger Alliierter Chinas. Die Errichtung eines Hafens in Myanmar würde jede Notlage oder Androhung einer solchen, bezogen auf beide Meeresengen, also die von Taiwan und die von Ma­lakka, beseitigen. China grenzt unmittelbar an Myanmar; von dieser Küste aus gibt es ein Eisenbahn- und Transportnetz bis nach Südchina. [23]

Die Vereinigten Staaten versuchen auch, alle möglichen Routen, auf denen Öl durch eine transasiatische Öl-Kooperation direkt nach China kommen könnte ? neben den traditionellen und gefährdeten Seewegen, die unter dem wachsamen Auge der US-Marine stehen - zu verhindern. Jedes transasiatische Energie-Abkommen, wie zum Beispiel die Iran-Pakistan-Indien-Ölleitung, steht den anglo-amerikanischen Interessen der Kontrolle Eurasiens diametral entgegen.
 
Die pazifische Flotte der USA legt auch grösseren strategischen Wert auf die Insel Guam im Pazifischen Ozean. So vertiefen die USA ihre Zusammenarbeit mit Australien, Singapur, den Philippinen und Japan, um China militärisch weiter einzukreisen. [24] Das Thema der Raketen und Atomwaffen Nordkoreas wird zurzeit als idealer Anlass benutzt, um China im Fernen Osten weiter einzukreisen.

Die Proliferation Sicherheitsinitiative (Proliferation Security Initiative - PSI), die von der Bush jr. Administration im Jahr 2003 - kurz nach der Invasion im Irak - lanciert wurde, ist auch ein Mittel, um die Korridore des internationalen Verkehrs zu kontrollieren. Die Energielieferungen nach China werden abgeschnitten, falls es zu einer kritischen Situation - einem Angriff auf China - kommen sollte.

Die Kontrolle der strategischen Seewege, eine Absperrungskette durch die Ozeane und eine «globalisierte US-Marine»

Die Kontrolle der Meere und des Handels ist eine zusätzliche Angriffsfront, die eröffnet wird, um die eurasischen Giganten China und Russland zu umschliessen. Das sind genau die Ziele, die mit der Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) und der Etablierung «globalisierter Seestreitkräfte» unter dem Kommando der USA erfüllt werden sollen. China ist in dieser Hinsicht durch eine vom Ozean ausgehende Bedrohung in grösserer Gefahr als Russland.

Das maritime Netzwerk, das von der NATO und den NATO-Alliierten geschaffen wurde, beginnt in Erscheinung zu treten. Mehr als 40 Länder haben an Seemanövern im Arabischen Meer und im Indischen Ozean teilgenommen. [25] Dies ist eine Bedrohung für die chinesische Energieversorgung und für den internationalen Handel, der zwischen Afrika und Eurasien durch den Indischen Ozean abgewickelt wird.

«Eine Marine von tausend Schiffen»

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chef der US-Marineoperationen, hat erklärt, dass die USA versuchen, «eine Marine von tausend Schiffen» zu gestalten und aufzubauen, um über die internationalen Gewässer bestimmen zu können. [26] Diese Strategie bedeutet letztlich die Verschmelzung der NATO und der alliierten Seestreitkräfte zu einer - wie sie von der US-Marine bezeichnet wurde - «globalen maritimen Partnerschaft», welche «die Flotten, die Küstenbewachung, die Seestreitkräfte, die Hafenbetreiber, die kommerziellen Schiffsunternehmen und viele andere Regierungs- und Nicht-Regierungsorganisationen vereinigt, und in Seefahrtsangelegenheiten anzusprechen ist.» [27]

Die ersten Gebiete, auf die diese neue Strategie angewendet werden wird, sind der Persische Golf, die Gewässer vor Ostafrika und das Arabische Meer. Admiral Mullen erwähnte auch das Vorhandensein von 45 Kriegsschiffen ? vorherrschend ist eine NATO-Gruppe ?, die im Persischen Golf und in den Gewässern des Mittleren Ostens als Teil dieser globalen Seestreitmacht eingesetzt werden. [28]

Die Operationen in den Gewässern des Nahen Ostens und im Arabischen Meer schliessen die Streitkräfteverbände (Combined Task Forces - CTF) 150 und 152 ein. Der Streitkräfteverband 150 operiert in den Gewässern des Golfs von Oman, des Golfs von Aden, im Roten Meer und im Nordarabischen Meer, wo einige französische Kriegsschiffe stationiert sind. Der Streitkräfteverband 152, in dem italienische, französische und deutsche Kriegsschiffe eingesetzt sind, operiert im Persischen Golf; seine operationellen Hauptquartiere sind in Bahrain.

Es ist bemerkenswert, dass die Combined Task Force (CTF) 152, die Teil der Gruppe von 45 Kriegsschiffen ist - von der Admiral Mullen erwähnte, dass sie Teil der globalen Seestreitmacht ist -, unter dem Kommando der US-Marine und des Centcom (Central Command) steht. Das beinhaltet Seeoperationen im Persischen Golf und im ganzen Nahen Osten. Die Operation Iraqi Freedom im Persischen Golf und die Operation Enduring Freedom am Horn von Afrika sind nur zwei der Operationen, unter denen mehrheitlich Nato-Kriegsschiffe aktiv operieren. 

Französisch-deutsche Verständigung

Die wachsende Seestreitkraft besteht aus 3 primären Combined Task Forces (CTFs) der Koalition und 7 See-Einheiten zur Unterstützung. Unter den 45 Schiffen, die die Seestreitkräfte ausmachen, sind solche aus Frankreich, Deutschland, Italien, den Niederlanden, Kanada, Australien, Pakistan und anderen Nato-Partnern neben der US-Marine und britischen Kriegsschiffen.
 
Die globale Seestreitmacht steht unter dem Mandat der NATO und der Abteilung des Centcom für Seeoperationen. Die Formation dieser riesigen - und bisher unbekannten - Armada von Kriegsschiffen ist nur möglich mit dem Konsens der französisch-deutschen Verständigung innerhalb der NATO. Diese Kriegsschiffe haben sich zusammengefunden unter dem Vorwand des «globalen Kriegs gegen den Terror».

Totale Kontrolle über internationale Gewässer

Neben der globalen Seestreitkraft, die von den USA und der NATO aufgestellt wurde, wurde eine Strategie entwickelt, um internationalen Handel, internationale Bewegungen und internationale Gewässer zu kontrollieren. Die PSI ist - unter der Maske, den Schmuggel von Massenvernichtungswaffen zu unterbinden - darauf ausgelegt, den Fluss der Rohstoffe und den internationalen Handel zu kontrollieren. Diese Strategie wurde von John Bolton entworfen, als er im US-Aussenministerium als Unterstaatssekretär für Waffenkontolle und internationale Sicherheit diente.

Diese Strategie wurde am 31. Mai 2003 vom Weissen Haus initiiert und beinhaltet die Autorisierung offener Verletzungen internationalen Rechtes. Unter internationalem Recht dürfen die Kriegsschiffe der US-Marine und der Nato keine fremden Handelsschiffe entern und durchsuchen, die sie in internationalen Gewässern antreffen. Unter Teil VII (7) der UN-Konvention zum Seerecht von 1982 sind die US-Operationen international illegal, ausser sie sind vom Heimatland dieser Handelsschiffe autorisiert. Kriegsschiffe dürfen nur Schiffe entern, durchsuchen oder festhalten, die vom gleichen Land kommen, ausser es besteht eine bilaterale Vereinbarung mit einer anderen Nation, die ihnen das Recht gibt, Schiffe, die unter dieser Flagge fahren, zu untersuchen.

USA nehmen sich das Recht zur willkür­lichen Kontrolle fremder Schiffe heraus

In internationalen Gewässern können fremde Schiffe nur untersucht werden, wenn sie in der Nähe der Länder der Kriegsschiffe Wasser verschmutzen oder bei glaubhaftem Verdacht auf Piraterie. Weiterhin haben in internationalen Gewässern Schiffe, die einer Regierung eines Landes gehören, Immunität gegenüber Anhalten, Durchsuchung und Beschlagnahmung durch Seefahrzeuge anderer Staaten. Unter diesen internationalen Richtlinien wäre es für die US-Marine illegal, ein Seefahrzeug in internationalen Gewässern anzuhalten, das der Regierung Nordkoreas, Syriens oder China gehört. Mit der neuen vorgeschlagenen Wasserordnung, die zurzeit von der US-Regierung auf Nordkorea angewandt wird, hat all das begonnen sich zu ändern, besonders in den Gewässern des Indischen und Pazifischen Ozeans. Die Regierungen mehrerer asiatischer Nationen - einschliesslich der von Malaysia - haben die neuen Operationen offen kritisiert und deren Legalität angezweifelt. [29]

Selbstverständlich war China misstrauisch gegenüber der Initiative für Internationale Gewässer und lehnte es ab, an dem Vorhaben von 2003 teilzunehmen. Die Chinesen betrachten dies als einen Weg, mit dem die USA und ihre Verbündeten weiterhin die internationalen Gewässer und den internationalen Handel kontrollieren wollen. Russland schloss sich andererseits dem Vorhaben an, da Moskau nicht in der Situation wie China ist, dessen Lebensader von der Seeschiffahrt und den internationalen Gewässern abhängt. Weiterhin kann die russische Marine umgekehrt Handelsschiffe der USA anhalten und an Bord gehen.

Es ist kein Zufall, dass Singapur, Japan und das südliche Chinesische Meer - alle in unmittelbarer Nachbarschaft zu China - als die Hauptumgebung für die vielen Flottenübungen unter dem Banner dieses neuen Vorhabens ausgewählt wurden. Die USA, Grossbritannien, Japan, Australien, Kanada, Singapur, Frankreich, Italien und Deutschland haben gemeinsam mit Russland an den Flottenübungen unter der Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) teilgenommen.

Viele nordkoreanische Schiffe wurden seit der Einführung der Seefahrtsinitiative illegal gestoppt und belästigt, aber China, wie andere Länder auch, stehen auch unter der Bedrohung durch international illegale Operationen, die an die international illegalen Flugverbotszonen erinnern, die dem Irak vor der Invasion von den britischen, amerikanischen und französischen Regierungen aufgezwungen wurden. Der Präzedenzfall für das (zukünftige) Anhalten chinesischer Schiffe und des Schiffahrtsverkehrs nach China ist gesetzt.

NATO-Expansion und der Weg in einen globalen Konflikt

Der globale militärische Standpunkt und die geopolitischen Ambitionen der NATO geben zunehmend Einblick in die Richtung der NATO-Operationen und der militärischen Direktiven. Das System der militärischen Allianzen wird enger, und die Hauptangriffsziele scheinen die eurasischen Giganten zu sein: Russland, China und vielleicht Indien. Die Ausdehnung der NATO ist nicht nur auf Europa und die frühere Sowjetunion beschränkt, sondern ist ein Streben nach weltweiter Ausprägung. In Asien wird eine parallele Schwester-Allianz aus dem Netzwerk der bestehenden Militärbündnisse im asiatisch-pazifischen Küstenstreifen gebildet. China, Russland und nun Iran sind in der vordersten Reihe eines zurückhaltenden eurasischen Bündnisses, das dabei ist, Gestalt anzunehmen und sich der NATO und den USA entgegenzusetzen. Schluss­endlich könnte es im Nahen Osten sein, wo das Tempo der NATO-Ausdehnung festgelegt wird. Falls der Nahe Osten unter die totale Kontrolle des angloamerikanischen Bündnisses und der Nato gerät, wird eine Stufe für eine neue Phase des «langen Krieges» erreicht, der mitten hinein in das Herz von Eurasien führen wird.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya ist ein unabhängiger Schriftsteller aus Ottawa (Kanada), der sich auf den Nahen Osten und Zentralasien spezialisiert hat. Er ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter des Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
Dieser Artikel erschien unter dem Titel: « The Globalization of Military Power: NATO Expansion »
Quelle: Global Research, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) vom 18.5.2007

Anmerkungen

1     Judy Dempsey, U.S. senator urges use of Nato defense clause for energy, International Herald Tribune, 28.11.2006.
2     Mu Xuequan, Mandelson: Mistrust between Russia, EU worst since Cold War ends, Xinhua News Agency, 21.4.2007.
3     Michel Chossudovsky, Behind Closed Doors: Nato’s Riga Security Conference, Centre for Research on Globalization, 26.11.2007.
4     Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The March to War: Naval build-up in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), 1.10.2006.
5     Kuwait to sign Nato security agreement during Gulf conference next week, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), 6.12.2006.
6     Kuwait to sign Nato agreement, Op. cit.
7     Michel Chossudovsky, «Weapons of Mass Destruction:» Building a Pretext for Waging War on Iran? Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), 1.11.2006.
8     Gulf states «can respond to attack,» Gulf Daily News, Vol. XXIX (29), No. 364, 19.3.2007.
9     B. Izzak, Kuwait prepared for any US-Iran war, Kuwait Times, 10.5.2007.
10   Robert M. Gates, Posture Statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee (Testimony, Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington, District of Columbia, 6.2.2007).
11   Vladimir Putin, Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy (Address, Munich Conference on Security Policy, Munich, Bavaria, 10.2.2007). 
12   U.S. Anti-Missile Systems in Europe Threatens Russia-General, MoscNews,  9.2.2007.
13   U.S. Anti-missile Shield in Europe May Cause Arms Race-Russian General, MoscNews, 16.3.2007.
14   U.S. anti-missile shield threatens Russia-General, Reuters, 22.1.2007.
15   Mark John, U.S. missile plan triggers Nato tensions, Reuters, 5.3.2007.
16   Sarah Suk, U.S. admiral confident of missile shield effectiveness, Kyodo News, 1.5.2007.
17   Atul Aneja, «Pipeline should extend to China,» The Hindu, 7.5.2007.
18   Chinese object to climate draft, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1.5.2007.
19   Andrew Davies, The enemy down below: Anti-submarine warfare in the ADF (Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Strategic Policy Institute ASPI, Februar 2007) Seite 1.
20   Bill Gertz, China builds up strategic sea lanes, The Washington Times, 18.1.2005.
21   Pallavi Aiyar, India to conduct naval exercises with China, The Hindu, 12.4.2007.
22   Ibid.
23   Ibid.
24   Luan Shanglin, U.S. to stage large-scale war games near Guam, Xinhua News Agency, 11.4.2007.
25   Naval chief: U.S. has no plan to attack Iran, Xinhua News Agency, 17.4.2007.
26   Thom Shanker, U.S. and Britain to Add Ships to Persian Gulf in Signal to Iran, The New York Times, 21.12.2006.
27   Ibid.
28   Ibid.
29   Malaysia in no hurry to join U.S.-led security pact, Reuters, 17.4.2007.
30   Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Military Alliance: Encircling Russia and China, Centre for Research on Globalization, 10.5.2007. 

Trípoli está sendo forçada a uma Guerra Civil para justificar uma intervenção militar dos EUA e da OTAN no país rico em petróleo?

As conversas sobre sanções são um prelúdio para uma intervenção como a do Iraque?

Algo está podre no chamado “Jamahiriya” da Líbia

Não há dúvida que o Coronel Muammar Al-Kadafi seja um ditador. Ele tem sido o ditador e assim chamado “Qaid” da Líbia há cerca de 42 anos. Até agora, parece que as tensões estão sendo elevadas e as chamas da revolta tornando a situação mais intensa dentro da Líbia. Por exemplo as declarações anteriores feitas pelo Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros Britânico William Hague que o Coronel Kadafi fugira da Líbia para Venezuela.[1] Esta declaração serviu para eletrificar a revolta contra Kadafi e seu regime na Líbia.

Embora os três tenham a ditadura em comum, Kadafi na Líbia é um pouco diferente de Ben Ali na Tunísia ou Mubarak no Egito. A liderança na Líbia não é completamente servil às vontades dos Estados Unidos e a União Europeia. Diferente dos casos da Tunísia e do Egito, o relacionamento que existe entre Kadafi e ambos, EUA e União Europeia, é um modus vivendi. Simplesmente, Kadafi é um ditador árabe independente e não um “ditador gerenciado” como Ben Ali e Mubarak.

Na Tunísia e no Egito o status quo prevalece, a máquina militar e neoliberalista permanecem intactas; ela trabalha para os interesses dos EUA e União Europeia. Na Líbia, entretanto, perturba a ordem estabelecida pelos propósitos da EUA e União Europeia.

Os Estados Unidos e União Europeia agora buscam tirar proveito da revolta contra Kadafi e sua ditadura com esperanças de construir uma posição muito mais forte na Líbia que anteriormente. Armas também estão sendo levadas para Líbia pelas fronteiras do sul para promover a revolta. A desestabilização da Líbia também teria significantes implicações para o Norte da África, Oeste da África e, as reservas mundiais de energia.

  

Coronel Kadafi em um breve resumo

Ao subir ao poder, Kadafi começou como um capitão líbio entre um grupo de oficiais militares que realizou um golpe de estado. O golpe de 1969 foi contra a jovem monarquia do rei Idris Al-Sanusi. Sob a monarquia, a Líbia era amplamente vista como sendo condescendente para os EUA e os interesses europeus ocidentais.

Embora ele não tenha um estado oficial ou posição no governo, Kadafi tem nutrido e enraizado profundamente uma cultura política de clientelismo, corrupção e privilégio na Líbia desde o golpe de 1969. Adicionado a isso está a cortina de fundo do “culto da personalidade” que ele promove, que também é aplicada na Líbia.

Kadafi têm feito tudo para representar a si como um herói para as massas, especialmente os árabes e africanos. Suas aventuras militares em Chade foram também entrelaçados para deixar sua marca na História e criando um Estado-cliente com o desmembramento de Chade. O chamado “Livro Verde” de Kadafi tem sido vigorosamente retratado e venerado como uma grande façanha no pensamento político e filosófico. Numerosos intelectuais foram forçados ou subornados a elogiá-lo.

No passar dos anos, o Coronel Kadafi tem tentado cultivar uma romântica figura de si como um homem simples do povo. Isso inclui fingir morar em uma tenda. Ele fez tudo para destacar-se. Sua reprovação em relação aos outros ditadores árabes, como o Rei Abdullah da Arabia Saudita, nas reuniões da Liga Árabe fizeram manchetes e foram acolhidas por muitos árabes. Enquanto no estado de visitas ele deliberadamente cercou-se com uma comitiva feminina de guarda costas com a intenção de começar a virar cabeças. Além disso, ele também apresentou a si como um assim chamado líder religioso ou líder dos muçulmanos e homem de Deus, palestrando sobre o Islamismo dentro e fora da Líbia.

Líbia é dirigida por um governo sob as leis de Kadafi. Medo e nepotismo têm sido as chaves para manter a chamada “ordem” na Líbia entre os funcionários e cidadãos. Libaneses e estrangeiros foram mortos e desapareceram durante quatro décadas. O caso de Al-Sadr, Musa do Líbano, fundadora do Movimento Amal, é um dos o mais famosos destes casos e sempre foi um obstáculo para as relações Líbano-Líbia. Kadafi tem tido muito efeito negativo na criação e condicionamento de toda uma hierarquia de funcionários corruptos em Trípoli. Cada um cuida de seus próprios interesses às custas do povo líbio.

Frações e Tensões dentro da hierarquia no Regime de Kadafi

Devido a personalidade do regime de Kadaf em Trípoli há uma série de tensões internas na Líbia e na estrutura do próprio regime. Uma dessas tensões é entre Saif Al-Islam Kadafi e antigo círculo de ministros de seu pai. Os ministros líbios são geralmente divididos entre aqueles que se reúnem em volta de Saif Al-Islam e aqueles que são parte da velha guarda.

Há ainda as tensões entre Kadafi e seus filhos. Em 1999, Mutassim Al-Kadafi tentou demitir seu pai enquanto o Coronel Kadafi estava fora da Líbia. Mutassim Kadafi detém um gabinete como um conselheiro de segurança nacional da Líbia. Ele também é famosamente conhecido entre os líbios por ser um playboy que gasta muito de seu tempo na Europa e no exterior. Há também Khames Kadafi quem dirige sua própria milícia de bandidos, a qual é chamada de Milícia Khames. Ele sempre foi pensando como um possível candidato para sucessão contra seus próprios irmãos.

Sempre houve medo na Líbia sobre a questão da sucessão do Coronel Kadafi. Ao longo dos anos, Kadafi tem removido completamente da Líbia qualquer forma oposição organizada a ele ou impedido qualquer pessoa, fora de sua família, acumular poder suficiente para desafiar sua autoridade.

A questão da lealdade e deserção na Líbia

Incontestavelmente, uma pequena lealdade é sentida por Kadafi e sua família. Tem sido o medo que mantêm os líbios na linha. Ao nível do governo e o exército líbio, mantém seus funcionários pelo medo e o interesse próprio, bons e corruptos da mesma forma, em consonância. A manta do medo está agora sendo desfeita. Afirmações e declarações de denúncias contra o regime de Kadafi estão sendo ouvidos das autoridades, cidades e quartéis militares pela Líbia.

Aref Sharif, chefe da Força Aérea da Líbia, abandonou Kadafi. O ministro do Interior, Abdul Fatah Al-Yunis (Al-Younis), que é de Benghazi e supervisiona um ramo da obra de operações especiais na Líbia, demitiu-se. Dizem que Yunis é o “número dois” de Kadafi ou segundo no comando, mas isto não está certo. Abdullah Sanusi, o chefe da Inteligência Interna da Líbia e parente de Kadafi através do casamento, é o mais perto de ser o “número dois” dentro da estrutura de poder na Líbia.

Têm-se feito notícias sobre dois pilotos líbios que desertaram para Malte e navios de guerra líbios recusando-se a atacar Benghazi. Deserções são como bolas de neve entre exército e o governo. Assim, deve ser feita uma pausa para analisar a situação.

A oposição líbia

Neste ponte, entretanto, deve ser questionado quem é a “oposição” na Líbia. A oposição não é um corpo monolítico. O denominador comum é a oposição à ordem de Kadafi e sua família. Há que ser dito que “ações de oposição ou resistência contra um opressor” e um “movimento de oposição” são também duas coisas diferentes. Para a maior parte, as pessoas comuns e os funcionários corruptos da Líbia, que nutre ódio por Kadafi e sua família, estão agora no mesmo campo, mas são diferentes.

Há uma autêntica forma de oposição, que não é organizada, e uma sistemática forma de oposição, que é ou externa ou liderada por figuras de dentro do regime líbio. A autêntica oposição interna das pessoas na Líbia não é organizada e as “ações da oposição” têm sido espontâneas. Ainda assim, a oposição e a revolta tem sido encorajada e solicitada de fora da Líbia, através de redes sociais, estações internacionais de notícias e eventos no resto do mundo Árabe. [2]

A liderança da oposição interna que está emergindo na Líbia está vindo de dentro do próprio governo. Funcionários corruptos que tem se rebelado contra Kadafi não são os campeões do povo. Esta imagem da oposição não é oposta a tirania; eles são apenas opostos ao comando do Coronel Kadafi e sua família. Aref Sharif e Al-Yunis são eles próprios figuras do regime líbio.

Também tem que ser considerado que alguns oficiais líbios que se viraram contra Kadafi estão fazendo isso para salvarem a si mesmos. Enquanto outros no futuro trabalharão para conservar ou fortalecer suas posições. Abdel Monein Al-Honi, enviado líbio à Liga Árabe no Cairo, pode ser olhado como um exemplo. Al-Honi denunciou Kadafi, mas deve ser observado que ele era um dos membros do grupo de oficiais líbios que executou o golpe de Estado em 1969 com Kadafi, e que, mais tarde, em 1975, ele mesmo tentou tomar o poder em um golpe que falhou. Após o golpe falho, ele iria fugir da Líbia e retornaria somente em 1990 após Kadafi ter perdoado-o.

Al-Honi não é o único diplomata líbio a renunciar. O embaixador líbio para Índia também fez o mesmo. Há uma intenção por parte destes funcionários serem membros da estrutura de poder na Líbia, após a expulsão de Kadafi:

Ali al-Essawi, embaixador líbio para a Índia, disse à BBC que ele estava saindo, opondo-se à violenta repressão do seu governo sobre os manifestantes.

O senhor Al-Essawi foi formado para ser um ministro em Trípoli e poderia ser uma importante figura no governo alternativo, no caso do presidente líbio Muammar Kadafi caísse.

O segundo diplomata líbio a entregar o cargo foi o Representante Permanente da Liga Árabe de Trípoli, Abdel Monein Al-Honi, que disse no Cairo que ele tinha saído de seu emprego para “se juntar à revolução” em seu país.

“Eu apresentei a minha demissão, em protesto contra os atos de repressão e violência contra manifestantes, e eu estou me juntando ao grupo da revolução”, disse Sr. Al-Honi. O segundo secretário Hussein Sadiq al Musrati, anunciou sua demissão da China, em uma entrevista para Al-Jazeera, e chamou o exército a intervir no levante. [3]

Novamente, esses funcionários revoltados, como Al-Yunis e Sharif, estão dentro do regime. Ele não são eles não são simples diplomatas, mas os ex-ministros. Há também a possibilidade que esse tipo de “figuras da oposição” possa ter ou fazer acordos com potências externas

Forças externas em jogo na Líbia

Os governos dos EUA, Britânico, França, Alemanha e Itália todos sabiam muito bem que Kadafi era um tirano, mas isso não impediu nenhum deles a fazer acordos lucrativos com Trípoli. Quando a mídia cobre a violência na Líbia, eles deveriam questionar também, de onde são as armas que estão sendo usadas? A venda de armas que os EUA e a União Europeia tem feito à Líbia deveria ser examinada. Isto é uma parte dos seus programas de promoção da democracia?

Desde a reconciliação entre os EUA e Líbia, as forças militares de ambos os países tem se aproximado. A Líbia e os EUA tem tido transações militares e desde a reconciliação, Trípoli tem sido muito interessada em comprar equipamento militar norte-americano.[4] Em 2009, uma porta-voz do Pentágono, Tenente-Coronel Hibner, afirmou esta relação: “[Os EUA] irão considerar os pedidos de equipamento de defesa que permite [Líbia] a construir áreas que sirvam aos nossos interesses mútuos [ou sincronizar os interesses norte-americanos e líbios].”[5] O qualificador aqui é os interesses dos EUA, o que significa que o Pentágono somente irá armar a Líbia, com base nos interesses dos EUA.

No que parece ter acontecido durante a noite, um novo arsenal inteiro de equipamentos militares dos EUA apareceu na Líbia. Caças F-16 norte-americanos, helicópteros Apache, e veículos terrestres estão sendo usadas dentro da Líbia por Kadafi. [6] Isto é uma revelação chocante, se corroborada. Não há registros públicos sobre alguns desses equipamentos militares norte-americanos no arsenal no exército líbio. Em relação ao F-16, aviões líbios são tradicionalmente franceses Mirages e russos Mig-made.

Silvio Berlusconi e o governo italiano também tem sido fortes apoiadores do regime de Kadafi. Há informação saindo da Líbia que pilotos italianos também estão sendo usados pela Força Área líbia.[7] Mercenários do Chade, Sudão, Níger e Nigéria também estão sendo usados. Isto foi verificado através de um vídeo vindo da Líbia. O regime líbio também está considerando contratar firmas de segurança americanas ou europeias (mercenários). [8]

A política da Al Jazeera

O governo líbio desligou a internet e as linhas telefônicas e uma guerra de informação está em andamento. Apesar de ser uma das redes de notícias mais profissional do mundo, tem de ser advertido de que a Al Jazeera não é um personagem neutro. É subordinada à Emir do Catar e do governo do Catar, o qual também é uma autocracia. Pegando e escolhendo o que noticiar, a cobertura da Al Jazeera da Líbia é tendenciosa. Isto é evidente quando se estuda a cobertura da Al Jazeera do Barein, o qual foi restringido devido às relações políticas entre os líderes de Barein e Catar.

Noticias da Al Jazeera sobre os disparos dos jatos líbios nos protestantes em Trípoli e nas grandes cidades são questionáveis. [9] Anexo, os relatórios que os jatos líbios que foram atacando as pessoas nas ruas não foram verificados. Nenhuma evidência visual dos ataques do jato foi mostrado, enquanto que a confirmação visual sobre outros eventos têm saído da Líbia.

Al Jazeera não está sozinha nestas reportagens tendenciosas da sobre a Líbia. A mídia saudita também está publicando os eventos na Líbia. Asharq Al-Awsat é um dono de jornal saudita que é estritamente alinhado aos interesses dos EUA na região do Oriente Médio-Norte de África. Seu editor-chefe já está publicando editoriais glorificando a Liga Árabe pela sua decisão de suspender a Líbia por causa do uso da força por parte de Trípoli contra manifestantes líbios – porque essas medidas não foram tomadas para o Egito, Tunísia, Barein ou no Iêmen?

O papel dos interesses estrangeiros na Líbia

Kadafi e seus filhos têm governado a Líbia como um Estado privado. Eles tem desperdiçado a riqueza e os recursos naturais. Um dos filho de Kadafi é conhecido por ter pago a cantora norte americana Beyoncé Knowles 1 milhão ou mais de dólares americanos por um show privado. [10] Corporações estrangeiras também têm feito um papel nessa história.

As posições e ações das corporações estrangeiras, dos EUA e da União Europeia em relação à Líbia não podem ser ignoradas.

Questionar o papel dos governos e corporações estrangeiras na Líbia é muito importante. Os governos italianos e norte-americanos deveriam ser questionados sobre o papel que pilotos de nacionalidade italiana e armas norte-americanas recentemente compradas estão fazendo na Líbia.

É muito claro que a democracia somente é usada como um pretexto conveniente contra ditadores e governos que não se curvam e servem os interesses dos EUA e da União Europeia. Tudo o que precisa fazer é apenas olhar para a forma como Mutassim Kadafi foi recebido de braços abertos, em Washington em 21 de abril de 2009 por Hillary Clinton e a administração Obama. Em seu encontro, a Secretária Clinton disse publicamente:

Estou muito agradecida por receber Kadafi no Departamento de Estado. Nos profundamente valorizamos a relação entre Estados Unidos e Líbia. Nos temos muitas oportunidades para aprofundar e ampliar nossa cooperação e estou muito ansiosa para a construção desse relacionamento. Então Sr. Kadafi seja muito bem vido aqui. [11]

O que os Estados Unidos e a União Europeia querem fazer agora é maximizar seus ganhos na Líbia. Uma guerra civil parece ser o que Bruxelas e Washington têm em mente.

 

A balcanização da Líbia e ao impulso à Guerra Civil

O filho de Kadafi, Saif Al-Islam fez declarações na televisão líbia sobre como os Talibãs, organizações baseadas na fé, tomaram controle da Líbia ou pretendem fazê-lo. Nada está perto da verdade. Ele também alertou sobre a destruição e a guerra civil. Isto é parte dos esforços da família de Kadafi para se manter no poder da Líbia, mas um caminho para a guerra civil na Líbia é infundado.

Entre os membros do ranking militar, Mahdi Al-Arab, deputado chefe os militares líbios, disse ter renunciado Kadafi.[12] Al-Arab, entretanto, tem modificado sua posição dizendo que não quer ver a Líbia caminhar à uma guerra civil que permitirá intervenções e tutelas estrangeiras.[13] Isto porque Al-Arab preveniu as pessoas de sua cidade, Zawarah, para juntar-se à revolta e ir para perto de Trípoli.[14]

O caminho para a guerra civil na Líbia é alimentado por dois fatores. Um é a natureza do regime de Kadafi. O outro é um desejo externo para enfraquecer e dividir a Líbia.

Kadafi sempre trabalhou para manter os líbios divididos. Por anos houve medo que os filhos de Kadafi pudessem começar um guerra civil entre eles mesmos ou que algum outro alto escalão de oficiais pudessem tentar por todos os meios tomar o poder uma vez que Kadafi estivesse partido. A guerra civil com base na etnia, regionalismo, tribalismo não é uma grande ameaça. Tribos e regiões podem ser cooptadas ou aliadas, mas as pessoas que podem despertar para uma guerra civil são personagens do regime. As ameaças de guerra civil surgem nas rivalidades entre os funcionários do regime. No entanto, deve ser entendido que essas rivalidades estão deliberadamente sendo incentivadas a dividir a Líbia.

As chamas da revolta estão sendo ventiladas dentro da Líbia. O caos no mundo árabe tem sido visto como benéfico em muitos círculos estratégicos em Washington, Tel Aviv, Londres, e na Sede da OTAN. Se a Líbia cai em um estado de guerra civil ou se torna balcanizado, isso vai beneficiar os EUA e a União Europeia a longo prazo e terá sérias implicações geopolíticas.

Todos os Estados vizinhos no norte da África seriam desestabilizados pelos acontecimentos na Líbia. África Ocidental e África Central também seriam desestabilizadas. As fronteiras tribais correndo na Líbia e Chade se estendem em países como a Nigéria, Argélia e Sudão. O caos na Líbia também teria um efeito significativo sobre a Europa e a energia global. Já os acontecimentos na Líbia estão sendo usados para validar a unidade de controle do Círculo Polar Ártico e seus recursos energéticos[15]

Qual será o fim de Kadafi?

É muito provável que Kadafi não terá uma saída feliz do poder como Ben Ali na Tunísia e Mubarak no Egito. Encontrar refúgio para Kadafi não será fácil. No geral, Kadafi é considerado uma responsabilidade pelos outros governos. Arábia Saudita, que pode ser retratada como um refúgio para os ditadores árabes, muito provavelmente não irá dar refúgio à Kadafi. Líbia e Arábia Saudita têm más relações. Ele também é procurado para a investigação no Líbano. Geralmente, a relação de Kadafi com os líderes dos petrosheiks árabes no Golfo Pérsico é tensa e negativa. Ele não terá refúgio concedido em qualquer lugar do Golfo Pérsico.

No geral, os governos árabes também terão medo de recebê-lo. Em seus esforços para se apresentar como um defensor do povo, ele insultou muitos de seus colegas ditadores árabes. Há algo a ser dito, entretanto, quando as declarações de Kadafi em reuniões da Liga Árabe, ou sobre a Palestina e Iraque são muito mais populares ou sinceras do que o resto dos ditadores árabes.

É altamente improvável que todos os países latino-americanos, europeus, ou ex-União Soviética venham a dar-lhe refúgio. Um país na África sub-Saara é o lugar mais provável onde Kadafi podia buscar refúgio.

Suas opções são limitadas e ele está determinado a se manter no poder. A guerra civil parece estar se aproximando no horizonte. É altamente improvável que ele deixará pacificamente a Líbia e os EUA e seus aliados não têm dúvida desse cenário. Em 23 e 24 de fevereiro de 2010, ele se reuniu com os líderes das três maiores tribos da Líbia (Werfala, Tarhouna e Wershfana), para garantir o seu apoio. [16] Sua própria tribo, Kadafa é apoiadora e parece que o Madarha e tribos Awlad Slieman também estão apoiando ele. [17]

As ameaças de intervenção da OTAN e dos EUA e da União Europeia. O controle sobre a Líbia

A Líbia tem estado na mira do Pentágono por anos. De acordo com Wesley Clark, general aposentado que era o comandante militar supremo da OTAN, a Líbia estava na lista das nações do Pentágono a ser invadida após o Afeganistão controlado pelo Talibã. A lista incluía o Iraque, Somália, Sudão, Líbano, Síria, e Irã por último. Nas palavras do próprio Clark:

Então eu voltei a vê-lo [um oficial militar de alta patente no Pentágono] poucas semanas depois, e por esse tempo fomos bombardeando no Afeganistão. Eu disse: “Nós ainda estamos indo para a guerra com o Iraque?” E ele disse: “Ah, é pior do que isso.” Ele estendeu a mão sobre a mesa. Ele pegou um pedaço de papel. E disse: “Eu só recebi essa lá de cima” – ou seja, o secretário do gabinete da Defesa – “. hoje” E ele disse: “Este é um memorando que descreve como vamos tomar sete países em cinco anos, começando com o Iraque, e depois a Síria, Líbano, Líbia, Somália, Sudão e, finalizando, o Irã.” [18]

De uma forma ou de outra todas as nações na lista acima tem sido atacadas direta ou indiretamente, e todos eles, exceto a Síria e o Irã, têm sucumbido para os EUA e seus aliados. Novamente, as únicas exceções são Irã e seu aliado, a Síria. No Líbano, os EUA tiveram ganhos parciais, mas agora está recuando com o declínio de Hariri Aliança 14 de Março.

A Líbia iniciou negociações secretas com os EUA em 2001, que se materializaram em uma aproximação formal após a queda de Bagdá pelas tropas britânicas e americanas em 2003. No entanto, os EUA e seus aliados sempre quiseram expandir sua influência sobre o setor de energia da Líbia e à riqueza da Líbia apropriadamente. Uma guerra civil fornece a melhor cobertura para isso.

Líbios devem estar cientes do pretexto da intervenção humanitária

O povo líbio deve ser sua própria guarda. É claro que os EUA e a União Europeia estão apoiando ambos os lados. Os EUA e União Europeia não são aliados do povo do mundo árabe. Sob esse aspecto, os EUA auxiliam Kadafi através de equipamentos militares, enquanto também auxiliam a “oposição”. Se os chamados governos ocidentais forem sérios quanto à democracia, eles poderiam ter cortado seus laços comerciais com a Líbia, em particular no setor de energia, antes de 2011.

Ambos, Washington e o poder em Bruxelas, poderiam cooptar forças da oposição. Eles têm auxiliado Kadafi, mas eles não têm controle sobre eles ou seu regime como controlavam Ben Ali na Tunísia e Mubarak no Egito. Líbia é uma história muito diferente. Os objetivos de Washington e Bruxelas será o de reforçar seu controle sobre a Líbia, quer através da mudança de regime ou a guerra civil.

“Ações da oposição a Kadafi” são fortes, mas não há um forte “movimento de oposição” organizado. Os dois são diferentes. Também não é a democracia garantida, devido à natureza da coalizão contra Kadafi, que inclui funcionários do regime corrupto.

Fala-se agora sobre uma “intervenção humanitária ” na Líbia, semelhante a na Jugoslávia e no Iraque. Uma “zona e exclusão aérea” sobre a Líbia foi mencionada, como a intervenção militar da OTAN. O objetivo por trás de tais afirmações não são humanitárias, mas se destinam a justificar a interferência estrangeira, o que poderia levar a uma invasão. Caso isso se concretizar, a Líbia se tornará um país ocupado. Seus recursos seriam saqueados e os seus espólios privatizados e controlados por corporações estrangeiras, como no Iraque.

Hoje, na Líbia e no mundo árabe os fantasmas de Omar Mukhtar e Saladino ainda estão muito vivos e ativos. Livrar-se de Kadafi e seus filhos não é a solução. Todo o sistema corrupto de governo da Líbia e da cultura da corrupção política deve ser desmantelado. Ao mesmo tempo, entretanto, a interferência estrangeira ou dominação também não deve ser permitida a enraizar-se na Líbia. Se o povo líbio está mobilizado e firme, eles podem lutar contra tais esquemas.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya especializado no Oriente Médio e Ásia Central. Ele é pesquisador associado do Centro de Investigação sobre a Globalização.
Traduzido para Diário Liberdade por Pamela Penha
O original encontra-se em: Libya: Is Washington Pushing for Civil War to Justify a US-NATO Military Intervention?

 
NOTAS

[1] “UK Hague: some information that Qaddafi on way to Venezuela,” Reuters, 21 de Fevereiro de 2011.
[2] Um deles é levado de volta pela proliferação de pré-golpe de 1969 bandeiras líbias. Onde é que todas essas bandeiras vem?
[3] “3 Libyan Diplomats resign,” The Hindu. 22 de Fevereiro de 2011.
[4] James Wolf, “U.S. eyes arms sales to Libya,” Reuters. 6 de Março de 2009.
[5]Ibid.
[6] Informações de fontes na Líbia, não confirmado ainda.
[7]Ibid.
[8]Ibid.
[9]Ibid.; Eu recebi duas explicações para isso. A primeira explicação é que agentes do governo da Líbia foram divulgando informações errôneas a Al Jazeera. Isso inclui relatórios feitos à Al Jazeera que os jatos estão atacando civis nas ruas. Kadafi tem usado isso para tentar desacreditar o Al Jazeera internamente na Líbia, apontando para o povo líbio que nenhum ataque do jato ocorreu e que a Al Jazeera está transmitindo informações erradas. A segunda explicação é que a Al Jazeera está simplesmente espalhando informações erradas. Seja qual for o caso, ambas as explicações não concordam que jatos líbios atacaram manifestantes ainda.
[10] Marine Hyde, “Beyoncé and the $2m gig for Colonel Gaddafi’s son,” The Guardian (Reino Unido). 8 de janeiro de 2010; foi para Mutassim e não Hannibal Kadafi que o concerto de música era (o artigo está errado). O artigo não é autorizado e tem sido citado para ilustrar que esses tipos de aventuras são ainda vagamente conhecido pela imprensa da Grã-Bretanha e da Europa Ocidental.
[11] Departamento de Estado dos EUA, “Remarks With Libyan National Security Adviser Dr. Mutassim Qadhafi Before Their Meeting”. 21 de abril de 2009.
[12] Informações de fontes na Líbia, não confirmado ainda.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] David Ljunggren, “Libya turmoil puts focus on Arctic oil: Greenland,” ed. Robert Wilson, Reuters, 23 de Fevereiro de 2011.
[16] Informações de fontes na Líbia, não confirmado ainda. Foi-me dito que Kadafi prometeu reforma à tribos e que ele iria fazê-la em cerca de um ano. Também fui informado que ele afirmou que nenhum de seus filhos passariam a controlar a Líbia quer.
[17] Ibid.
[18] General (aposentado) Wesley Clark, “92 Street Y Exclusive Live Interview,” entrevistado por Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, 2 de Março de 2007.

“Defence secretary Liam Fox today confirmed that a British diplomatic team is in Libya talking to rebel forces.” -’SAS unit ‘held by Libyan rebels’‘, The Independent, 6 March 2011

According to the Wikipedia site ‘a civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state’ which seems to be a pretty accurate description of events in Libya as they unfold. The problem is identifying who is contesting for state power as there seems to be no single group in charge of the opposition.

One group wants no outside interference whatsoever (the opposition National Libyan Council?), another (the Libyan Revolutionary Council?), led apparently by the former justice minister (according to an interview on Channel 4 News 04/3/11), wants air strikes and a no-fly zone, in other words invasion.

And this goes to the very heart of events as it’s impossible to know who the opposition is or what it is that they want aside from Ghadafi’s removal. Reports carried in the MSM reveal what looks like rag-tag groups of quite heavily armed men, a far cry from the unarmed masses that rose up in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.

Thus at this critical point in time, we have to firstly wait and see if Ghadafi prevails (not an impossibility if the opposition can’t get its act together without outside assistance). If he does, it opens up an entirely new can of worms. Having compared Ghadafi to Hitler with the West demanding he be investigated for alleged war crimes, the Empire has backed itself into a corner. Under these circumstances, a ‘no-fly zone’ would be a distinct possibility, disastrous though it would be.

It’s a tricky situation for the Empire’s strategists. What to do? The best approach would be covert assistance, arms, logistics and intel along with sanctions and international isolation (already in place), thus echoing Hillary Clinton’s words about not ‘being seen as interfering’.

Coup or insurrection? The more we learn about how the ‘insurrection’ in Libya unfolded the more it appears that behind the demonstrations a coup was being launched. Nothing else explains the overnight appearance of weapons including attacks on arms depots and military installations accompanied by well-timed rumours of atrocities being committed by Ghadafi’s air force and ‘African mercenaries’.[1]

As has been pointed out elsewhere, Libya is not a poverty-stricken country, there is no mass unemployment, it has a decent health and education infrastructure so economics doesn’t seem to be the major source of discontent.

“It was also under Gaddafi, and with oil money, that Libya attained the highest per capita income among African states. However, there is now a campaign in the western press to belie this, and to paint a picture of widespread unemployment, gaping social inequality and poverty among the Libyan people. Indeed, neo-liberal reforms ushered in recent years have resulted in inequality, with social programs and subsidies for the poor being cut, and the country’s oil wealth increasingly being given to foreign corporations. The CIA is now even trying to pass off alleged “studies” showing that most Libyans are surviving on less than USD$2.00 per day. However, such “studies” have no credibility, considering that Libya remains a favorite among expatriate workers in the Middle East, given the relatively higher pay and better working terms in Libyan work sites.” — ‘US – NATO Threats to Libyan Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity‘, by Antonio E. Paris, Global Research 4 March, 2011

As to Ghadafi’s autocratic rule, does this justify yet another invasion? Surely this is something the Libyans have to sort out for themselves, it doesn’t need the West interfering under the pretext of humanitarian this or that, not after it’s backed the regime since Ghadafi switched sides. So what prompted such an apparently instantaneous revolt? This is where it gets murky.

Clearly the Ghadafi regime has a pretty shaky grip on things when elements of its own military and of the state cannot be relied on. The common theory being put around is that Ghadafi was scared of having a powerful army as a potential rival but if so, how come he armed it to the teeth with all the weaponry the West could sell him? And by some accounts he has 50-70,000 loyal security forces to call on. And of course, a Western-supplied air force, thus the call for a ‘no-fly zone’, itself a declaration of war should it be enacted.

The most likely explanation is some kind of power struggle within the ruling elite aided by elements of the military/security forces that capitalized on popular discontent to escalate the confrontation from day one. So for example, in the early days of the revolt it’s not clear which side fired the first shots but clearly from the very beginning both sides were using arms.

Does Western media intervention actually dictate the course of events in Libya?

The Western media’s role is central as to how events have not only been portrayed but in turn have progressed and it’s a moot point as to whether it’s the state propaganda machine or the MSM that initiated it, they work in lock-step with each other. Rumour becomes ‘news’ and the ‘news’ triggers responses that set in motion a chain events that have the air of inevitability about them.

The media’s role as events in Libya unfolded has followed the predictable pattern we have seen elsewhere; in Georgia, Operation Cast Lead and the attack on the Mavi Marmara.

The ‘eccentric’, ‘unpredictable’ and ‘unstable’ Ghadafi is of course the ideal stereotype for the full treatment in the MSM made all the more so by the interviews he gave to the Western media where he accused ‘al-Qu’eda’ of being behind the uprising (apparently the West can haul out ‘al-Qu’eda’ any time they need it as a convenient culprit but Ghadafi can’t).

Thus having demonized Ghadafi (assisted by the new allegation that he personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing and how convenient was that!), the next stage is to turn what is now civil war with both sides armed and locked in conflict into yet another ‘human rights’ catastrophe deserving of the Empire’s largesse.

And reports indicate a massive buildup by the US, the UK and others off the coast of Libya as well as the UK’s SAS actually in Libya (one report alleges that Libyan rebels have captured SAS soldiers).

“Defence secretary Liam Fox today confirmed that a British diplomatic team is in Libya talking to rebel forces.” — ‘SAS unit ‘held by Libyan rebels’‘, The Independent, 6 March 2011

So intervention in the internal affairs of Libya is already underway and the longer the civil war continues the greater the odds that the West will escalate its intervention, especially if it looks like Ghadifi can succeed in crushing the opposition.


Note

1. There is only one, unverified source for this allegation. See ‘Dogs of War’ Fighting for Gaddafi‘, all.africa.com, 25 February, 2011. But buried in the piece it mentions private security contractors hired by Western corporations working in Libya as being the likely source of the ‘Kenyan mercenaries’ story. The allegation, by Air Force Major Rajib Feytouni became the source of a Guardian and subsequent stories. Google Rajib Feytouni and you’ll get the same single source rehashed this way and that.

Another, this time an Israeli source alleges that 50,000 African mercenaries have been hired by Ghadafi through an Israeli company, Global CST. Watch the PressTV video here. But one would have thought that were this story true it would be headline news?

In addition, the ‘African mercenaries’ rumour has resulted in the deaths of many Black people in Libya who may or may not be Libyans, let alone mercenaries.

And a sign where this all heading can be gleaned from the following:

“[T]he United States has demanded the UN Security Council (UNSC) to remove the provisions of charging mercenaries with war crimes in the killing of Libyan civilians.”

Just in case no doubt some of its own mercenaries get caught. It’s a replay of the US position over the use of mercenaries in Iraq where one of the first acts of overlord Bremer was to pass a ‘law’ to make it impossible to prosecute ‘private contractors’ for their actions.

More Jobs Mirage

March 5th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The announcement on March 4 that 192,000 new jobs were created in February was greeted with a sigh of relief. But the number is just more smoke and mirrors, as I will show shortly.  First, let’s pretend the jobs are real.  What areas of the economy produced the jobs?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 152,000 of the jobs or 79% are in private services, consisting of:  11,700 jobs in wholesale trade, 22,000 in transportation and warehousing, 36,400 in administration and waste services (of which 15,500 are temporary help services), and 36,200 in ambulatory health care services and nursing and residential care facilities. Entertainment, waitresses and bartenders accounted for 20,000. Repair and maintenance, laundry services, and membership associations accounted for 14,000.

As one who has often reported the monthly payroll jobs breakdown, I am struck by the fact that these categories are the ones that have accounted for job growth for year after year.  How can this be?  How can Americans, who have had no growth in their real incomes and who are foreclosed from their homes and maxed out on credit card debt, car payments, and student loans, spend more every month in bars and restaurants?  How can a few service areas of the economy grow when nothing else is?

The answer is that there were not 192,000 new jobs.  Statistician John Williams estimates the reported gain was overstated by about 230,000 jobs.  In other words, about 38,000 jobs were lost in February.

There are various reasons that job gains are overstated and losses understated.  One is the BLS’s “birth-death model.”  This is a way of estimating the net of non-reported new jobs from business start-ups and  job losses from business shut-downs. During recessions this model doesn’t work, because the model is based on good times when new jobs always exceed lost jobs. On the “death” side, if a company goes out of business because of recession and, therefore, doesn’t report its payroll, the BLS assumes the previously reported employees are still in place. On the “birth” side, the BLS adds 30,000 jobs to the monthly numbers as an estimate of new start-ups. 

Williams estimates the “death” side is really reducing employment by about 200,000 per month, and the “birth” side is stillborn. Therefore, “the BLS continues regularly to overestimate monthly growth in payroll employment by roughly 230,000 jobs.” The benchmark revisions of payroll jobs bear out Williams. The last two benchmark revisions  resulted in a reduction of previously reported employment gains of about 2 million jobs.

Another indication is that despite 10 years of population growth, there are 8 to 9 million fewer Americans employed today than a decade ago.

Some “New Economy” we have. If only we could have the old one back.

Lo peor que le puede pasar al pueblo de Libia es la intervención de EE.UU.

Lo peor que le puede pasar al recrudecimiento revolucionario que estremece al mundo árabe es la intervención de EE.UU. en Libia.

La Casa Blanca se reúne con sus aliados imperialistas europeos de la OTAN para discutir la imposición de una zona de exclusión aérea sobre Libia, el bloqueo de todas las comunicaciones del presidente Muamar Gadafi dentro de Libia y el establecimiento de corredores militares hacia Libia desde Egipto y Túnez, supuestamente para “ayudar a los refugiados”. (New York Times, 27 de febrero)

Esto significa posicionar tropas de EE.UU. y de la OTAN en Egipto y Túnez cerca de los dos campos petrolíferos más ricos de Libia, en el este y el oeste. Significa que el Pentágono coordine maniobras con los militares egipcios y tunecinos. ¿Qué podría ser más peligroso para las revoluciones egipcia y tunecina?

Italia, otrora colonizadora de Libia, ha suspendido un tratado de 2008 con Libia que incluye una cláusula de no agresión, una acción que podría permitir que forme parte de futuras operaciones de “mantenimiento de la paz” en ese país, y posibilitaría el uso de sus bases militares en cualquier posible intervención. Varias bases de EE.UU. y de la OTAN en Italia, incluida la base de la Sexta Flota de EE.UU. cerca de Nápoles, podrían ser áreas de escenificación de una acción contra Libia.

El presidente Barack Obama ha anunciado que “toda la gama de opciones” se está considerando. Es el lenguaje de Washington para las operaciones militares.

La secretaria de Estado Hillary Clinton se reunió en Ginebra el 28 de febrero con ministros de exteriores del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU para discutir posibles acciones multilaterales.

Mientras tanto, se suma al tamborileo por la intervención militar la publicación de una carta pública de la Iniciativa de Política Exterior, un think tank derechista visto como sucesor del Proyecto por el Nuevo Siglo Estadounidense, que llama a que EE.UU. y la OTAN preparen “inmediatamente” una acción militar para ayudar a derribar el régimen de Gadafi.

Los firmantes del llamado público incluyen a William Kristol, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith y más de una docena de antiguos altos responsables del gobierno de Bush, más varios destacados demócratas liberales, como Neil Hicks de Human Rights First y el jefe de “derechos humanos” de Bill Clinton, John Shattuck.

La carta pide sanciones económicas y acción militar: el despliegue de aviones de guerra de la OTAN y de una armada naval para imponer zonas de exclusión aérea y que tenga la capacidad de neutralizar a las embarcaciones navales libias.

Los senadores John McCain y Joseph Lieberman, mientras estaban en Tel Aviv el 25 de febrero, llamaron a que Washington suministre armas a los rebeldes libios y que establezca una zona de exclusión aérea sobre el país.

No hay que pasar por alto los llamados a que contingentes de trabajadores médicos y humanitarios, inspectores de derechos humanos e investigadores de la Corte Penal Internacional sean enviados a Libia, con “escolta armada”.

El suministro de ayuda humanitaria no tiene que incluir a los militares. Turquía ha evacuado a 7.000 de sus ciudadanos en ferries y vuelos fletados. Unos 29.000 trabajadores chinos han partido en ferries, vuelos fletados y transporte terrestre.

Sin embargo, la manera en la que las potencias europeas están evacuando a sus ciudadanos de Libia durante la crisis incluye una amenaza militar y forma parte de las maniobras imperialistas para posicionarse con respecto al futuro de Libia.

Alemania envió tres barcos de guerra con 600 soldados y dos aviones militares para sacar a 200 empleados alemanes de la compañía de exploración petrolera Wintershall de un campo en el desierto a 1.000 kilómetros al sudeste de Trípoli. Los británicos enviaron el barco de guerra HMS Cumberland para evacuar a 200 británicos y anunciaron que el destructor York está en camino desde Gibraltar.

EE.UU. anunció el 28 de febrero que está enviando el inmenso portaaviones USS Enterprise y el barco de ataque anfibio USS Kearsarge del Mar Rojo a las aguas frente a Libia, donde se unirá al USS Mount Whitney y a otros barcos de guerra de la Sexta Flota. Los funcionarios lo calificaron de “posicionamiento previo de recursos militares”.

VOTACIÓN EN LA ONU SOBRE SANCIONES

El Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU –bajo presión de EE.UU.– votó el 26 de febrero por la imposición de sanciones a Libia. Según estudios de las propias agencias de la ONU, más de un millón de niños de Iraq murieron como resultado de las sanciones impuestas por EE.UU. y la ONU a ese país que allanaron el camino para la invasión de EE.UU. Las sanciones son criminales y confirman que esta intervención no se debe a preocupación humanitaria.

Cuesta equiparar la pura hipocresía de la resolución sobre Libia con la preocupación por los “derechos humanos”. Sólo cuatro días antes de la votación, EE.UU. utilizó su veto para bloquear una resolución insípida que criticaba los asentamientos israelíes en tierra palestina en Cisjordania.

El gobierno de EE.UU. impidió que el Consejo de Seguridad emprendiera alguna acción durante la masacre israelí en Gaza en 2008, que llevó a la muerte de más de 1.500 palestinos. Esos organismos internacionales, así como la Corte Penal Internacional, han guardado silencio respecto a las matanzas israelíes, sobre los ataques de drones estadounidenses contra civiles indefensos en Pakistán y sobre las criminales invasiones y ocupación de Iraq y Afganistán.

El que China haya estado de acuerdo con la votación de sanciones es un ejemplo desafortunado de cómo el gobierno de Pekín deja que su interés por el comercio y por continuos embarques de petróleo prevalezca sobre su pasada oposición a las sanciones que claramente afectan a las poblaciones civiles.

¿QUIÉN DIRIGE LA OPOSICIÓN?

Es importante analizar el movimiento de oposición, especialmente a quienes citan tan ampliamente todos los medios internacionales. Tenemos que suponer que participa la gente con quejas y agravios genuinos. ¿Pero quién dirige realmente el movimiento?

Un artículo de primera plana en el New York Times del 25 de febrero describió la diferencia entre Libia y las otras luchas que han estallado en todo el mundo árabe. “A diferencia de las rebeliones juveniles posibilitadas por Facebook, la insurrección en este caso ha sido dirigida por gente más madura y que se ha estado oponiendo activamente al régimen dese hace cierto tiempo”. El artículo describe el contrabando de armas a través de la frontera egipcia durante semanas, permitiendo que la rebelión “escale rápida y violentamente en poco más de una semana”.

El grupo opositor que más se cita es el Frente Nacional por la Salvación de Libia [NFSL por sus siglas en inglés]. Se sabe que el NFSL, fundado en 1981, es una organización financiada por la CIA, con oficinas en Washington, D.C. Ha mantenido una fuerza militar, llamada el Ejército Nacional Libio, en Egipto cerca de la frontera libia. Una búsqueda en Google del Frente Nacional por la Salvación de Libia y la CIA confirmará rápidamente cientos de referencias.

También se cita ampliamente a la Conferencia Nacional de la Oposición Libia. Es una coalición formada por el NFSL que también incluye a la Unión Constitucional Libia [LCU], dirigida por Muhamad as-Senussi, pretendiente al trono libio. La web de la LCU llama al pueblo libio a reiterar un juramento de lealtad al rey Idris el-Senusi como líder histórico del pueblo libio. La bandera utilizada por la coalición es la bandera del antiguo Reino de Libia.

Evidentemente esas fuerzas financiadas por la CIA y los antiguos monárquicos son política y socialmente diferentes de la juventud privada de derechos y de los trabajadores que han marchado por millones contra los dictadores respaldados por EE.UU. en Egipto y Túnez y que hoy se manifiestan en Bahrein, Yemen y Omán.

Según el artículo del Times, el ala militar del NFSL, utilizando armas de contrabando, capturó rápidamente puestos policiales y militares en la ciudad portuaria mediterránea de Bengasi y áreas cercanas al norte de los campos petroleros más ricos de Libia, donde se encuentran la mayoría de sus gasoductos y oleoductos, las refinerías y su puerto de gas natural licuado. El Times y otros medios occidentales afirman que esa área, ahora bajo “control de la oposición”, incluye un 80% de las instalaciones petroleras de Libia.

La oposición libia, a diferencia de los movimientos de otros lugares en el mundo árabe, pidió ayuda internacional desde el principio. Y los imperialistas respondieron rápidamente.

Por ejemplo Mohamed Ali Abdallah, secretario general adjunto del NFSL, envió un llamado desesperado: “Esperamos una masacre”. “Estamos enviando un SOS a la comunidad internacional para que intervenga”. Sin esfuerzos internacionales por contener a Gadafi, “habrá un baño de sangre en Libia en las próximas 48 horas”.

El Wall Street Journal, voz del gran capital, escribió en un editorial del 23 de febrero que “EE.UU. y Europa deberían ayudar a los libios a derrocar el régimen de Gadafi”.

INTERESES DE EE.UU. –EL PETRÓLEO

¿Por qué están dispuestos y ansiosos Washington y las potencias europeas a actuar en Libia?

Cuando sucede algo nuevo es importante pasar revista a lo que sabemos del pasado y preguntar siempre, ¿cuáles son los intereses de las corporaciones estadounidenses en la región?

Libia es un país rico en petróleo –uno de los 10 más ricos del mundo-. Libia tiene las mayores reservas probadas de petróleo en África, por lo menos 44.000 millones de barriles. Ha estado produciendo 1,8 millones de barriles de petróleo por día –crudo ligero considerado de máxima calidad y que necesita menos refinación que la mayor parte del petróleo-. Libia también tiene grandes depósitos de gas natural fácil de canalizar a los mercados europeos. Es un país de gran superficie con una pequeña población de 6,4 millones de personas.

Así ven a Libia las poderosas corporaciones petroleras y militares, los bancos y las instituciones financieras de EE.UU. que dominan los mercados globales.

Actualmente el petróleo y el gas son las materias primas más valiosas y la mayor fuente de beneficios del mundo. Conseguir el control de campos petrolíferos, oleoductos, refinerías y mercados impulsa una gran parte de la política imperialista de EE.UU.

Durante dos decenios de sanciones de EE.UU. contra Libia, que Washington esperaba que derribaran al régimen, los intereses corporativos europeos invirtieron fuertemente en el desarrollo de “ductos” e infraestructuras en ese país. Cerca de un 85% de las exportaciones de energía de Libia van a Europa.

Las transnacionales europeas –en particular BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Eni, BASF, Statoil y Repsol– han dominado el mercado petrolero de Libia. Las gigantescas corporaciones petroleras de EE.UU. están excluidas de esos lucrativos acuerdos. China ha estado comprando una cantidad creciente de petróleo producido por la Corporación Nacional de Petróleo de Libia y construyó un corto oleoducto en Libia.

Los inmensos beneficios que se podrían obtener con el control del petróleo y del gas natural de Libia son el motivo del creciente tamboreo del llamado de los medios corporativos de EE.UU. a la “intervención humanitaria para salvar vidas”.

Manlio Dinucci, periodista italiano que escribe para Il Manifesto de Italia, explicó el 25 de febrero [Rebelión, del 1 de marzo] que “Si se derroca a Gadafi EE.UU. podría derribar todo el marco de las relaciones económicas con Libia y abrir el camino a las multinacionales basadas en EE.UU. que hasta ahora están casi totalmente excluidas de la explotación de reservas de energía en Libia. Por lo tanto, EE.UU. podría controlar el grifo de las fuentes de energía de las que depende en gran parte Europa y que también provee a China.”

ANTECEDENTES DE LIBIA

Libia fue una colonia italiana desde 1911 hasta la derrota de Italia en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Las potencias imperialistas occidentales establecieron después de la guerra regímenes en la región que fueron llamados Estados independientes pero que estaban dirigidos por monarcas nombrados sin el voto democrático de los pueblos. Libia se convirtió en un país soberano sólo de nombre, pero estaba firmemente vinculado a EE.UU. y a Gran Bretaña bajo un nuevo monarca, el rey Idris.

En 1969, mientras una ola de luchas anticoloniales movilizaba al mundo colonizado, jóvenes oficiales militares nacionalistas de mentalidad panárabe derrocaron a Idris mientras estaba de vacaciones en Europa. El líder del golpe fue Muamar Gadafi, de 27 años.

Libia cambió su nombre de Reino de Libia a República Árabe Libia y después a Gran Jamahiriya Árabe Libia Popular Socialista‎.

Los jóvenes oficiales ordenaron el cierre de las bases de EE.UU. y Gran Bretaña en Libia, incluida la gran Base Aérea Wheelus del Pentágono. Nacionalizaron la industria petrolera y muchos intereses comerciales que estaban bajo control imperialista estadounidense y británico.

Esos oficiales militares no llegaron al poder mediante un levantamiento revolucionario de las masas. No fue una revolución socialista. Seguía siendo una sociedad clasista. Pero Libia ya no estaba bajo la dominación extranjera.

Se realizaron numerosos cambios progresistas. La nueva Libia hizo muchos progresos económicos y sociales. Las condiciones de vida de las masas mejoraron radicalmente. La mayoría de las necesidades básicas –alimentos, vivienda, combustible, atención sanitaria y educación– se subvencionaron fuertemente e incluso llegaron a ser enteramente gratuitas. Se utilizaron los subsidios como la mejor manera de redistribuir la riqueza nacional.

Las condiciones de las mujeres cambiaron drásticamente. En 20 años, Libia logró el puesto más alto de África en el Índice de Desarrollo Humano –una medida de las Naciones Unidas de la expectativa de vida, los logros educacionales y el ingreso real ajustado-. Durante los años setenta y ochenta, Libia fue conocida internacionalmente por la adopción de fuertes posiciones antiimperialistas y el apoyo a otras luchas revolucionarias, del Congreso Nacional Africano en Sudáfrica a la Organización por la Liberación de Palestina y el Ejército Republicano Irlandés.

EE.UU. realizó numerosos intentos de asesinato y golpes contra el régimen de Gadafi y financió grupos armados de oposición, como el NFSL. Algunos ataques estadounidenses fueron flagrantes y abiertos. Por ejemplo, 66 cazabombarderos estadounidenses bombardearon sin advertencia previa la capital libia de Trípoli y su segunda ciudad, Bengasi, el 15 de abril de 1986. La casa de Gadafi fue bombardeada y su hija pequeña murió en el ataque, junto con cientos de personas más.

Durante los años ochenta y noventa EE.UU. logró aislar a Libia mediante estrictas sanciones económicas. Se hizo todo esfuerzo posible por sabotear la economía y desestabilizar al gobierno.

SATANIZACIÓN DE GADAFI

Es el pueblo de Libia, de África y del Mundo árabe el que tiene que evaluar el papel contradictorio de Gadafi, presidente del Consejo de Comando Revolucionario de Libia. La gente de EE.UU., en el centro de un imperio basado en la explotación global, no debería unirse a las caracterizaciones racistas, ridiculización y satanización de Gadafi que saturan los medios corporativos.

Incluso si Gadafi fueran tan tranquilo y austero como un monje y tan cuidadoso como un diplomático todavía sería, como presidente de un país africano rico en petróleo, previamente subdesarrollado, odiado, ridiculizado y satanizado por el imperialismo de EE.UU. si ofreciera resistencia a la dominación corporativa estadounidense. Fue su verdadero crimen y por eso no lo han perdonado jamás.

Es importante señalar que nunca se utilizan términos degradantes y racistas contra peones fiables de EE.UU. o dictadores, no importa cuán corruptos o implacables sean con su propio pueblo.

LAS AMENAZAS DE EE.UU. IMPONEN CONCESIONES

Después del crimen de guerra estadounidense anunciado como “conmoción y pavor”, con su masivo bombardeo aéreo de Iraq seguido por una invasión por tierra y ocupación, Libia finalmente sucumbió a las exigencias de EE.UU. Después de décadas de solidaridad militante antiimperialista, Libia cambió de rumbo drásticamente. Gadafi ofreció ayuda a EE.UU. en su “guerra contra el terror”.

Las exigencias de Washington eran onerosas y humillantes. Libia fue obligada a aceptar la responsabilidad total por el atentado del avión de Lockerbie y a pagar 2.700 millones de dólares de indemnización. Fue solo el comienzo. Para que se levantaran las sanciones de EE.UU., Libia tuvo que abrir sus mercados y “reestructurar” su economía. Todo formaba parte del paquete.

A pesar de las numerosas concesiones de Gadafi y las subsiguientes grandiosas recepciones por parte de jefes de Estado europeos, el imperialismo estadounidense estaba planeando su humillación total y su caída. Los think tanks estadounidenses realizaron numerosos estudios sobre cómo subvertir y debilitar el apoyo popular de Gadafi.

Los estrategas del FMI aparecieron en Libia con programas. Los nuevos consejeros económicos prescribieron las mismas medidas que imponen a cualquier país en desarrollo. Pero Libia no tenía una deuda externa; tiene una balanza comercial positiva de 27.000 millones de dólares anuales. La única razón por la cual el FMI exigió un fin de los subsidios de necesidades básicas fue debilitar la base social del apoyo al régimen.

La “liberalización del mercado” de Libia significó un recorte de 5.000 millones de dólares en subsidios al año. Durante decenios, el Estado había estado subvencionando un 93% del valor de varios productos básicos, en particular el combustible. Después de aceptar el programa del FMI, el gobierno duplicó el precio de la electricidad a los consumidores. Hubo un repentino aumento de 30% en los precios del combustible. Esto provocó aumentos de precio en muchos otros bienes y servicios.

Dijeron a Libia que tenía que privatizar 360 compañías y empresas de propiedad estatal, incluyendo usinas siderúrgicas, fábricas de cemento, firmas de ingeniería, fábricas de alimentos, líneas de montaje de camiones y autobuses y granjas estatales. Eso llevó a que miles de trabajadores perdieran sus puestos de trabajo.

Libia tuvo que vender una participación del 60% en la compañía petrolera estatal Tamoil Group y privatizar su Compañía General Nacional para Fábricas de Harina y Forraje.

El Fondo de la Fundación Carnegie ya estaba controlando el impacto de las reformas económicas. Un informe de Eman Wahby de 2005 titulado “Reformas económicas enojan a ciudadanos libios” decía que “otro aspecto de la reforma estructural fue el fin de las restricciones de importaciones. Otorgaron licencias a compañías extranjeras para exportar a Libia a través de agentes locales. Como resultado, productos de todo el mundo inundaron el mercado libio, previamente aislado.” Fue un desastre para los trabajadores de las fábricas de Libia, que no están equipadas para enfrentar la competencia.

Más de 4.000 millones de dólares ingresaron a Libia, que se convirtió en el principal receptor de inversión extranjera en África. Como saben sobradamente los banqueros y sus think tanks, esto no benefició a las masas libias, las empobreció.

Pero no importaba lo que hiciera Gadafi, nunca fue bastante para el poder corporativo de EE.UU. Los banqueros y financieros querían más. No había confianza. Gadafi se había opuesto a EE.UU. durante decenios y se le seguía considerando muy poco “fiable”.

La revista US Banker publicó en mayo de 2005 un artículo titulado “Mercados emergentes: ¿Es Libia la próxima frontera de los bancos estadounidenses?” Decía que “Mientras la nación aprueba reformas, los beneficios atraen. Pero el caos abunda.” Entrevistó a Robert Armao, presidente del Consejo Comercial y Económico EE.UU.-Libia basado en Nueva York: “Todos los grandes bancos occidentales están ahora explorando oportunidades en ese país”, dijo Armao. “La situación política con Gadafi sigue siendo muy sospechosa”. El potencial “parece maravilloso para los bancos. Libia es un país que no se ha tocado y una tierra de oportunidad. Sucederá, pero puede tardar un poco.”

Libia nunca ha sido un país socialista. Siempre ha habido amplia riqueza heredada y viejos privilegios. Es una sociedad clasista con millones de trabajadores, muchos de ellos inmigrantes.

La reestructuración de la economía para maximizar los beneficios de los banqueros occidentales desestabilizó las relaciones, incluso en los círculos gobernantes. ¿Quién participa en los acuerdos para privatizar industrias clave, qué familias, qué tribus? ¿Quién se queda afuera? Aparecieron viejas rivalidades y competencias.

Se puede ver hasta qué punto el gobierno de EE.UU. estaba observando esos cambios impuestos en cables recientemente publicados, provenientes de WikiLeaks, de la embajada de EE.UU. en Trípoli, reproducidos en el Telegraph británico del 31 de enero. Un cable titulado “Inflación aumenta en Libia” y enviado el 4 de enero de 2009, describió el impacto de “un programa radical de privatización y de reestructuración del gobierno”.

“Se vieron aumentos excepcionaes”, dijo el cable, “en precios de alimentos, productos previamente subvencionados como azúcar, arroz, y harina, aumentaron en un 85% en los dos años desde la eliminación de los subsidios. Los materiales de construcción también han tenido un fuerte aumento: los precios del cemento, conglomerado, y ladrillos, han aumentado en un 65% durante el pasado año. El cemento ha aumentado en un año de 5 dinares libios por saco de 50 kilos a 17 dinares; el precio de las barras de acero se ha multiplicado por diez.

“La terminación [por el gobierno libio] de los subsidios y controles de precios como parte de un programa más amplio de reforma económica y privatización ha contribuido ciertamente a presiones inflacionarias y ha causado algunas quejas…

“La combinación de la alta inflación y la disminución de subsidios y controles de precios es preocupante para un público libio acostumbrado a mayor protección del gobierno ante las fuerzas del mercado.”

Estos cables de la embajada de EE.UU. confirman que mientras seguían manteniendo a grupos libios de oposición en Egipto, Washington y Londres también medían constantemente la temperatura del descontento masivo causado por sus políticas.

Actualmente, millones de personas en EE.UU. y en todo el mundo son inspiradas por las acciones de millones de jóvenes en las calles de Egipto, Túnez, Bahrein, Yemen y ahora Omán. El impacto se siente incluso en la ocupación en Wisconsin.

Es vital que el movimiento político y la conciencia de clase estadounidense resistan la enorme presión de la campaña orquestada por EE.UU. a favor de la intervención militar en Libia. Hay que oponerse a una nueva aventura imperialista. ¡Solidaridad con los movimientos populares! ¡Fuera las manos, EE.UU.!

Texto original en inglés : As U.S. warships near Libya, Danger of Imperialist Military Intervention Grows

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens