Edited Transcript of a Public lecture by professor Marc Herold, Massachussetts Institute of Technology M.I.T., Cambridge, Mass. August 2010

 

Kabul, August 1996 before the Taliban entered. An old man in his neighborhood that was destroyed by years of inter-factional fighting, following the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989. Photo by photo-journalist anthropologist, Teun Voeten (from http://www.teunvoeten.com/ )

I shall discuss ten points:

·       The Taliban entering Kabul on September 27, 1996. Who were they?

·       Arrival of” the guest” (Osama bin Laden) in May 1996 and Al Qaeda’s agenda (very different from that of the Taliban);

·       9/11 and the implementing of the neo-conservatives’ Project for a New American Century (PNAC);

·       US aerial attacks during Oct-Nov Dec. 2001 (release of my first Dossier on Dec. 10, 2001 documenting the slaughter civilians, families, etc…) beginning of armed opposition to the invader;

·       Crucial battles in the northern plains of Afghanistan during Oct-Nov 2001 and what each side learned. Mullah Omar retreats on a motorcycle into the mountains north of Kandahar on Dec 8, 2001;

·       Begin of slow reconstitution of the Taliban, 2002-4. US anti-guerrilla operations alienate increasing numbers of common Afghans. By early 2004, I could write about the “Taliban’s Second Coming”:

·       Key point: the way the Americans (and later NATO) fought the Afghan resistance built a national liberation movement. People who fight a foreign occupation are a resistance, not terrorists. Provide lots of concrete examples of this;

·       Analysis of what I mean by the three words in the Afghan “national liberation movement.” Differences exist with other national liberation movements as in Algeria and Vietnam;

·       The primary struggle now is to oust the foreign occupiers;

·       End with three stark photos depicting maiming, abduction and fear.

Let me, in the words of Richard Nixon, “be perfectly clear” about some matters which I do not wish to speak about. I am not defending the Taliban and/or the Afghan resistance, but keep in mind that as far as retrograde social practices, the Taliban hold no monopoly on that in Afghanistan. [1] Secondly, much of Western denigration of the Taliban is inspired, sadly, by that old practice going back to the British Empire’s thieves of feminist language, i.e. “feminism as imperialism.”[2] Lastly, pre-modern forms of social failure are much more naked or visible than complex subtle modern forms. It is easy to critique the burka, but less so the bikini.[3] Or, civilians get killed in suicide bombings as they do in even deadlier U.S/NATO “precision” air strikes.[4]

The great African revolutionary leader Amilcar Cabral connected culture to national resistance,

Whenever Goebbels, the brain behind Nazi propaganda, heard anyone speak of culture, he pulled out his pistol. That goes to show that the Nazis who were and are the most tragic expression of imperialism and its thirst for domination even if they were, all of them sick like Hitler, had a clear idea of the value of culture as a factor in the resistance to foreign domination.[5]

The Taliban marched into Kabul after a ten month siege on September 27, 1996.[6]  The Taliban received strong Pakistani ISI support.

The reach of the Pashtun Taliban was never national with areas in the north (Tajik, Uzbek), center (Hazaras) and the west resisting. During October 1996-October 2001, bloody fighting continued across northern and central Afghanistan. The divides were largely along ethnic fault lines. The following map indicates the situation in September 2001:

 

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bb/US_Army_ethnolinguistic_map_of_Afghanistan_–_circa_2001-09.jpg

The brunt of the Taliban’s conservative, patriarchal social policies was felt in Afghanistan’s more westernized urban areas – a small part of the country. In most of the rural regions, life went on as it had for decades, nay centuries, based upon traditional village structures and practices.

Former mujahideen, disillusioned with the chaos that had followed their victory in1989, became the nucleus of a movement that grouped around Mullah Mohammad Omar, a former minor mujahid from Kandahar province.[7] The group, many of whom were madrasa (Islamic school) students, called themselves Taliban, meaning “students”. Others who became core members of the Taliban were commanders in other predominantly Pashtun parties, and former Khalq PDPA members. Their stated aims were to restore stability and enforce their strict interpretation of Islamic law. But, the original Taliban came mostly from religious schools and refugee camps in the Pakistani border regions and were not former members of the mujahideen who had fought the Soviets (1980-89).

The Taliban inherited a devastated country, torn apart during six years of warlord in-fighting. Few state structures or institutions existed. Moreover, the background of the Taliban hardly prepared them for national governance. Close to a half of Kabul looked like this, destroyed by the factions once united in their fight against the Soviets:

 


 

A woman and her son walk along Kabul’s main avenue. Once a bustling thoroughfare lined with

merchants, the avenue was destroyed by four years of fighting. 1996 © Didier Lefevre (Source: http://www.lensculture.com/webloglc/mt_files/archives/2004/12/ )
 

During 1994-96, no relations existed between the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. But a new element had been introduced in 1996: bin Laden arrived in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on May 18, 1996 after being expelled from the Sudan which bowed to U.S. pressure. Initially, bin Laden stayed in an area not controlled by the Taliban, who were fighting for control of the country. But by the end of September 1996, the Taliban conquered the capital of Kabul and gained control over much of the country. Bin Laden then became the guest of the Taliban. The Taliban, bin Laden, and their mutual opportunistic ally, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, then called for a jihad against Ahmed Shah Massoud, who retained control over a small mountainous area along Afghanistan’s northern border.

Osama bin Laden arrived in Jalalabad with 180 Arab followers on a chartered Ariana Boeing 727 cargo jet from the Sudan in May 1996. The pilot of Ariana, the Afghan national carrier, remembered flying to the Sudan and back in 1996.1 Sayed Hashimi said his crew waited for five days in Khartoum for their ‘cargo.’ They realized they had transported the bodyguards and the families of bin Laden’s inner circle to Jalalabad when at midnight at Jalalabad airport, all sorts of important people came to greet the ‘cargo’ of 90 persons.3 Bin Laden and his followers were welcomed by Haji Abdul Qadir and his lieutenant, Engineer Mahmood, the man who had extended the invitation to bin Laden. Bin Laden took up residence in Jalalabad with Mahmood. Tora Bora had been Mahmood’s headquarters during the 1980s anti-Soviet war.[8]

As bin Laden established a new safe base and political ties, he spoke about attacks on Western military targets in the Arabian Peninsula. Such attacks took place on U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. 9/11 was a clear consequence of bin Laden’s original fatwa of August 1996 about the “Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”. In turn, 9/11 provided the Bush regime with the perfect pretext to launch the neo-conservatives’ plan to establish unilateral U.S hegemony – or what was called at the time in the academic literature, America’s unipolar moment – in the twenty-first century. I have written extensively on that and why the U.S. decided to bomb Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.[9] 9/11 was the wished-for Pearl Harbor (trigger event) of the PNAC document.

The launching of the neoconservatives’ PNAC plan (or grand design) meant that no compromise with the Taliban would be accepted. Once the U.S bombing had begun, Mullah Omar made a couple serious attempts at compromise. All were immediately rejected by the Bush gang. Details may be found in my manuscript, Blown Away.

Aerial attacks such as the one in October 2001 by an AC-130 upon entire Afghan villages contributed to a growing sense amongst common Afghans that the foreigner was terrorizing the nation.[10] By the way, this was nine years before WikiLeaks in 2010 released the video, “Collateral Murder” of the U.S Apache helicopter assault upon innocent Iraqis.

During October – December 2001, some 3,000 innocent Afghan civilians – about the same number as died on 9/11 – were killed upon impact by U.S bombs (to which many others need be added – injured who later died, refugees in camps who froze to death or starved, etc.). The Taliban quickly lost territory faced by an unreachable onslaught of U.S air power, purchased mercenaries/thugs of the Northern Alliance, and some 400 U.S Special Forces and CIA operatives on the ground pinpointing targets with lasers. The technological asymmetry between the U.S aggressors and the Taliban defenders was stark and militarily decisive in the short-run: Toyota pickup trucks or Soviet-era tanks (photo below) stood no chance against F-16s, F-18s, B-52s, B1-Bs, F-15s and laser/GPS positioning technologies.

 

Source: http://www.registan.net/index.php/2009/09/01/the-case-for-afghanistan-recent-historical-considerations/

The following chart plots the civilian victims in each tragedy. As the body count of the World Trade Center [WTC] was revised downward from the initial high of 6,700 to the 2,819 in 2002, that in Afghanistan rose from 20-37 on October 8th to 3,215. The twin lines of ignominy cross around January 15, 2002. But in truth, the Afghan civilian casualties far exceeded the WTC deaths already during the second week of the U.S. airstrikes in real terms – experienced pain parity – that is in terms of the collective pain equivalent felt by a society. Why? The U.S. population was 13 times larger than the Afghan one [2001] and hence to make Afghan casualties relevant in U.S. terms we need to multiply Afghan numbers by thirteen. A calculation of the twin tragedies then reveals 2,819 dead at the WTC and an equivalent pain parity of 41,795 dead Afghan civilians.

The Twin Tragedies: Cumulative Civilian Deaths

Arundhati Roy added an important point:

The bombing of Afghanistan is not revenge for New York and Washington. It is yet another act of terror against the people of the world. Each innocent person that is killed must be added to, not set off against, the grisly toll of civilians who died in New York and Washington.[11]  

Conventional-style ground battles raged across the northern plains of Afghanistan during October-November 2001 pitting Taliban ground forces supplemented with Pakistani volunteers against the Northern Alliance backed up by U.S. Special Forces and CIA operatives with formidable air firepower. The Taliban lost 3-4,000 troops. Each side believed it had learned a lesson. The Taliban realized that they could no more marshal conventional ground forces to face the awesome firepower of the United States, a different enemy than the Soviets fifteen years earlier. They became true believers in asymmetric warfare, later superbly perfected with the use of IEDs and suicide bombers. For its part, the United States’ penchant to rely upon technological fixes/solutions was reinforced, leading to the certainty that the Taliban would soon be routed by U.S firepower. One might say the U.S was blinded by its success, thereby laying the foundation for its subsequent slow defeat.

Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership “did the right tactical thing” to abandon Kandahar on December 8, 2001. Omar allegedly rode off into the Afghan dust on the back of a motorcycle headed into the mountains of Helmand evading hundreds of U.S troops searching for him.[12] For his part, bin Laden hiked across the Tora Bora or Spin Ghar Mountains southeast of Jalalabad into the Pakistan border area and then disappeared (I personally believe he is up in the Pakistan-Chinese mountainous Pamir border region). Mullah Omar’s comeback journey is nothing but extraordinary: from fleeing sitting on the back of a motorcycle in December 2001 to leading a movement which today exerts significant control in 80% of Afghanistan.

What had been the Taliban government quickly disintegrated. Slowly three groups reconstituted themselves – one led by the veteran anti-Soviet fighter and brilliant tactician, former Minister of Border Affairs in the Taliban government, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and the other a loose grouping based in Quetta, Pakistan what later would be called the Quetta Shura with Mullah Omar as leader. A third group slowly re-aligned itself with the Taliban, that of the particularly oppressive fundamentalist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (the Hizb-i-Islami or the HIA). These three groups remain independent today, belying the silly notion of a unified resistance.

I want to now make and document a critical point: the way the U.S carried out its occupation of Afghanistan and its campaign against the Taliban, transformed what was a low-intensity guerrilla campaign as of 1/2002 into a full-fledged war of national liberation by 2006. For now almost nine years, I have been documenting how the U.S has waged its Afghan war and the consequences for average Afghans. This transformation from a low-intensity conflict during 2002-4 took place because of certain deeply felt, ingrained, Afghan cultural beliefs of independence, pride, and responsibility (by the way, beliefs I cherish too).  For example, to take revenge for ill done to a family member is expected. Estimates suggest that for every Afghan killed by the foreign occupiers, 3-5 members of the resistance are created.

But other factors played as well: (1) violation of the sanctity of Afghan homes by marauding U.S ground forces; (2) widely publicized desecration of the Koran; (3) mistreatment of Afghan female family members by occupation forces; (4) the abducting and/or beating of Afghan family members; (5) the old U.S. practice going back to Indochina of secretive night-time assassination raids carried out by U.S special operations forces[13]; and (6) systematically labeling civilians killed by US/NATO occupation forces as “insurgents” or Taliban

In some small Afghan village in 2004, U.S occupation forces break into another Afghan home  (photo from  http://images.wn.com/i/4a/c310f3e1aeeb70.jpg )

The heavy-handed U.S. search-and-destroy forays over time swelled the ranks of supporters, as the battle for Afghan hearts and minds tipped in favor of the Taliban. U.S. aerial ‘decapitation raids’ frequently devastate small villages and families. In January 2004, two U.S. raids killed 15 children and not a single Taliban was either captured or killed. The reality of living daily in fear is captured in the words of a young girl in Loi Karez, Zabul:

Whenever these tall people with blue eyes come to our village, we become very scared,” said eight-year-old Saira Bibi as she fetched water from a well in Loi Karez. “They take away people and ask us about the Taliban. I haven’t seen the Taliban. I don’t know who these Taliban are.

A similar perspective is offered in Qalat, Zabul province, in January 2004:

… For many people a much more visible aspect of American intervention is the steady stream of civilian casualties. And in Qalat, there is hostility to patrols by American Special Forces. From a Humvee a man gets out wearing a Stetson and sheriff’s badge, and proceeds to have a loud argument with a colleague carrying a sawn-off shotgun. As they move away, the locals stare after them. “We are so unhappy when we see them,” says Rahmatullah, a bearded 29-year-old shopkeeper watching from across the road. “When the Russians came here we fought to save our liberty and independence. So also Americans came… and so we will be fighting them.

During a search of the village of Atel Mohammed in Kandahar by U.S. Special Forces (and their allies of the Afghan Militia Forces) in the summer of 2003,

Scared Afghans in the southern province of Kandahar hid holy Quran and other religious items before United States troops searched their village, afraid the Americans would kill them for being Muslims.

U.S occupation forces of the 82nd Airborne raided homes in the village of Salar in Ghazni  province, December 2007 (photo by Tyler Hicks)

Afghan woman waits as U.S. Marines attached to the 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, rest during a search of her residence during an operation

I am proud to have helped publicize the following rare photo. A collection of 1,000 photos of Afghanistan under the U.S occupation boot can be seen on my website under “Scenes of Afghanistan” at http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold)

 

Photo 128. Member of 82nd Airborne, Stacey White, body searches Afghan women in a village in the Baghran valley, Helmand province, as U.S. forces moved northward village by village, house by house carrying out searches, confiscating items, going through houses and personal belongings, February 24, 2003  [A.P. photo, Aaron Favila].

A female American soldier frisks Afghan women at a village during Operation Deliberate Strike, some 40 miles north of Kandahar. The mission involves hundreds of U.S. troops on a sweep through southern Afghanistan to counter operations by the resurgent Taliban and allied groups (Monday, May 19, 2003)  Source: Kamal Kishore (Reuters)

The following shots by German photo journalist Perry Kretz were published in the German weekly, Der Stern:

 


 

These photos by German war photographer, Perry Kretz, were taken in the fall of 2004 during a raid by U.S. occupation forces in Paktika Province. The first shows a raid in-progress by the Wolfhound unit of the 3rd Platoon, 25th Infantry Division. The second depicts the same unit photographing a homeowner, Amir Mohammad, another example of the sexual humiliation perpetrated by the U.S. occupation forces upon Afghan villagers.

A French journalist visiting Kandahar in December 2003 wrote:

One quiet afternoon in Kandahar, a convoy of U.S. military vehicles passed by. In the pharmacy where I was making a purchase, men who had been chatting animatedly stopped and watched the personnel carriers drive slowly by carrying young American soldiers chewing gum and pointing their rifles defensively at the locals. After the last armored vehicle passed, one of the Afghans spat in their tire tracks, and mumbled, “Inshallah, they will leave soon.

An apocryphal story tells of a Taliban leader in the mountains where Afghanistan meets Pakistan, looking at his wrist and saying to a Western visitor: “You have the watches, but we have the time.”[14] That may be the Taliban’s most powerful weapon against the Americans.

By 2004, the Taliban were showing signs of a second coming as I wrote about in February 2004:

“The Taliban’s Second Coming”

The specter of Vietnam began taking shape in 2002 with U.S. raids upon compounds, villages, and neighborhoods of cities. The forced entries, frisking and abuse of persons (including women and children), the ransacking of homes, and the abductions merely served to heighten Afghan animosity towards the foreign occupier. John Pilger saw evidence of new Vietnams in: U.S. servicemen saying that once they leave their secured base, they are in a combat zone; renewed “search and destroy” missions carried out in villages across Afghanistan; and in the targeting of civilians (for arrest or execution). Daniel Bergner who accompanied a U.S. force into the countryside south of Kandahar, reports the enemy is everywhere and nowhere, and Liz Sly wrote about the same thing in eastern Afghanistan. Nick Meo provided a superb first-hand account of the sheer unknown, the dangers and frustrations experienced by young American soldiers on a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Others noted the resurgence of the Taliban and its allies – Al Qaeda and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami group – by mid-2003. In June 2003, the Taliban publicly named a new 10-man leadership council, including such veterans as former Defense Minister Mullah Obaidullah, Minister and Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Commanders Mullah Dadullah Kakar and Mullah Akhtar Usmani. Mullah Usmani led Taliban forces in the south in late 2001 and was named in 2001 as successor to Mullah Omar should he perish. Dadullah harks from Uruzgan and Usmani from Helmand. (Source:  Marc W. Herold, “The Taliban’s Second Coming, Cursor.org (February 29, 2004) at  http://cursor.org/stories/secondcoming.html)

Both Usmani and Dadullah were later killed in U.S air strikes. The rest is history: soaring Afghan civilian, escalating violence, local military and US/NATO occupation forces deaths.

The following systems’ chart highlights the essential feedback elements at work in the America’s Afghan war:

The essential link is that America’s Afghan war causes civilian casualties which, in turn, fuel the Afghan resistance which, in turn, causes more U.S casualties. No link exists between Afghan and U.S civil societies, i.e. rising civilian casualties in America’s foreign wars have never caused the U.S general public to become anti-war.[15] Thirdly, McChrystal’s alleged effort to reduce Afghan civilian casualties (-) was a trade-off for rising U.S military casualties (++) as I demonstrated a year ago.[16] The graph makes an essential point: the United States can pursue its war but the result will be either soaring Afghan civilian casualties or escalating U.S. military deaths.

A recent video of how the U.S/NATO military actions contribute to the building of a movement of national liberation to oust the foreign occupiers was released by the Brave New American Foundation which confirms what NATO forces repeatedly denied: U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan killed dozens of people in the Sangin district of Helmand Province on July 23, 2010.[17] Mohamed Ahmadzai, a resident of Sangin where this U.S attack took place, explained clearly what happened. He told independent reporters how he was forced to bury two daughters, his sister and wife after a rocket fired by coalition forces hit a soft target: a house full of woman and children who had fled to the nearby village of Regai to avoid a firefight between the Taliban and occupation forces. His story described a reality that cannot be found in the mainstream U.S media or in a UNAMA report.

“We gather(ed) all of the body parts, some were missing legs or heads, we placed them in a bag and buried them,” Ahmadzai said. “We were able to identify them through the clothes they were wearing and by their shoes. The body parts we couldn’t identify we put into a piece of cloth and then buried them. Those chunks of flesh, blood and bone were from so many people not just one, but we couldn’t identify them so we put those body parts into an individual grave and buried them as though they belonged to one person…”

On July 1, 2002, I reported on the U.S aerial attack less than one hundred miles away from Regai upon a wedding party in Kakarak, Uruzgan province in which 63 civilians were massacred.[18] Nothing changes. But where were The Nation magazine, the Brave New Foundation, the Tom Engelhardts, etc. nine years ago when I was documenting at Cursor.org  the human carnage resulting from U.S military actions in Afghanistan?[19] Answer: all cozily housed inside the humanitarian imperialist tent alongside the likes of Laura Bush, Samantha Power, and Michael Ignatieff. Rare voices of dissent in America could only be read in Z Magazine, Counterpunch, Antiwar.com, etc. It’s easy to be anti-war today when humanitarian imperialism has visibly failed in Afghanistan.

As I wrote two years ago,

The perceived poison of a foreign occupation, the rampant corruption, the all-too-frequent desecration of Islam by the occupiers, the sheer folly of the US/NATO seeking to extend the writ of a central government to the Pashtun tribal regions , the spiraling count of civilian deaths has shifted the Afghan struggle towards a war of national liberation.  Anatol Lieven of King’s College (London) put it aptly. Afghanistan is ‘Becoming a sort of surreal hunting estate, in which the U.S. and NATO breed the very “terrorists” they then track down’.[20]

I realize that my use of the phrase “national liberation movement” may not sit well with some people.[21] How can a national liberation movement exist in a largely pre-modern, rural society? Isn’t a national liberation movement or front part of the anti-colonial struggle? The West had no qualms labeling Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation as a “war of national liberation.”[22] For example, the legal scholar W. Michael Reisman cited the 1949 Geneva Conventions which argued that peoples engaged in resisting the suppression of their right of self-determination are fighting what has come to be known as a “war of national liberation.”[23] The phrase illustrates the contest over assigned meaning. America’s duplicity is mind-boggling: when common Afghans fight the evil Soviet Union, it is a war of national liberation; when a dozen years later common Afghans fight the American invader, they are terrorists.

  

Let me briefly discuss the three terms – national, liberation and movement. The current Afghan resistance movement comprises various factions: the Quetta Shura led by Mullah Omar; the Haqqani group based in eastern Afghanistan, the Hekmatyar group, as well as some smaller organizations based in the Pakistani border regions. The dominant goal of this gradually constructed “coalition” comprised mostly of Pashtuns became the ouster of U.S and NATO occupation forces from the territory of Afghanistan. In that sense, this is a national movement; national does neither necessarily imply everyone is on board nor that the result will be a socialist society.[24] American neo-colonialists effectively sought to use ethnicity to divide-and-rule in Southeast Asia; the British colonizers did the same in British West Africa.[25] The national liberation of Angola from Portuguese rule was deeply divided along ethnic lines. The national liberation movement (the FLN) in Algeria, however, was a unified oppositional force. In Afghanistan, the U.S. employed the surrogates of the Northern Alliance. The Afghan resistance was not built through hard organizing work of the Taliban and associates, but rather by the actions of the US and later NATO.

The resistance differs greatly from other national liberation movements like those in Algeria, Vietnam, Angola, or Peru (Sendero Luminoso) insofar as it lacks a national political vanguard party. In Algeria and Vietnam, the armed struggle against the occupier began with the formation of a national liberation front. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, the national liberation movement emerged de facto after the aggressions of the foreign occupiers. This reflects the particular specificity of Afghanistan wherein family-clan-tribe-ethnic group form the primary social cohesion blocks. Afghanistan never was a secular nation-state; instead a figurehead, royal sovereign reigned over the little urban island of Kabul (just as Karzai, the ‘mayor of Kabul,’ has since 2002).

We saw the fragile unity at the national level in the Taliban movement in its tenuous relationship with the Al Qaeda group. The latter had clear national and international political agendas, whereas the Taliban’s focus was upon strengthening the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan proper inspired by the Deobandi interpretation of Islam, removing un-Islamic foreign influences. As I mentioned earlier, the Taliban were even willing to hand over Osama bin Laden in early October 2001 in return for a cessation of the brutal U.S. bombing. The Haqqani hard-line faction within the Taliban maintained a greater affinity and working relationship with Al Qaeda (it also remains the cutting edge in military terms of the Afghan resistance).

What the U.S-led occupation did was to provide the glue during 2003-6 to bring together disparate groups united in a fight against the foreign occupier (and his obvious corrupt, puppet regime in Kabul), i.e. liberation from the foreign occupation. In effect, this is a replay of the anti-Soviet struggle in which a variety of mujahideen groups aligned themselves against the Soviets. And just as when the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the disparate members of the current temporary national liberation movement will disband once the US/NATO exit and pursue their own regional agendas. In other words, I use the word “liberation” here in a very constrained way: this is no implied social liberation from multiple forms of social oppression. There is no guarantee what emerges after: Islamic Sharia, a bourgeois democracy, or a socialist state. The mujahideen anti-Soviet national liberation war resulted in six years of deadly civil war. Those who wish to conflate national and social liberation (however defined) may do so at their own intellectual peril. I would caution, however, against whining about a lack of “democracy” in post-occupation Afghanistan. Samir Amin has argued that the term “democracy” – or the ‘democratic question’ (whose essence is of course the caricature of ‘multi-party elections’) has been and continues to be employed by the Triad of collective imperialism (and its academic point men/women) as a battering ram in its geopolitical struggle to open up the world to the dictates of the market.[26] But, democracy in its essence is about accountability and traditional societies whether Native American Indian or rural Afghan may have community structures of responsibility and/or accountability, admittedly sometimes imperfect (respectively constrained here by money and there by religion). We whether bourgeois democrats or Marxists, might not like this national movement but that should not cloud our analysis. As Julian Assange recently stated, “the Taliban is part of the will of Afghan people.”[27]

An optimistic vision of Afghanistan’s post-occupation future must involve a very loose federative structure with significant regional autonomy, allowing regions to implement their visions of socio-economic “development.” For example, one would hope that Afghanistan’s innovative National Solidarity Program of grassroots development would be greatly expanded.

As my dear friends from RAWA put it, first get rid of the foreign oppressors, then we’ll focus upon the remaining home-bred ones. Is that not better than continued…..maiming……abductions……and fear?

Burned victims of a U.S. “precision” bombing in the Kajaki region arrived in October 2006 at the Emergency (Italia) Surgical Hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province (source:  Maso Notarianni, “Burnt Children after a NATO Bomb Attack,” RAWA News (October 31, 2006) at http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2006/10/31/afghanistan-presumed-taliban.phtml ). Maso Notarianni is the editor of PeaceReporter, an online news magazine and news agency set up by the Missionary International Service News Agency and the humanitarian organisation Emergency. Emergency is an independent and neutral Italian organization founded in order to provide free, high quality medical and surgical treatment to the civilian victims of war, landmines and poverty. Its work around the world is possible thanks to the help of thousands of volunteers and supporters. Maso is married to Cecilia Strada, daughter of Gino Strada and Teresa Sarti, the founders of Emergency.

Faces of Afghanistan under U.S. bombs and occupation. The first photo above depicts a detained Afghan

in November 2007 (photo by Reuters reproduced in Spain’s  El Pais). The second, award-winning picture (2001)

taken by Seamus Murphy shows a young “Girl in Ghulam Ali,” a village in the Shomali Plains  where the

U.S. bombed heavily during November 2001. The latter photo is taken from

http://www.poyi.org/62/wua/murphy_01.php.

Notes

[1] See Michael Stittle, “Warlords are no better than Taliban, says Afghan MP,” RAWA News (November 8, 2007) at
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2007/11/08/warlords-no-better-than-taliban-says-afghan-mp.phtml

[2] See for example Katherine Viner, “Feminism as Imperialism. George Bush is not the First Empire-Builder to Wage War in the Name of Women,” The Guardian (September 21, 2002) at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/sep/21/gender.usa/print

[3] Feminist politics of clothing is discussed in Sarah Seltzer, “From Bikinis to Burqas, the Feminist Politics of Clothing,” RHRealityCheck.org (July 10, 2010) at
http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/print/10694

[4] The conclusion is inescapable. When using delivery-adjusted cost data as a proxy for accuracy, U.S./NATO “precision” bombing slaughters many more innocent Afghan civilians than does a Taliban suicide car bomber (from my “Suicide Car Bombs vs ‘Precision’ Bombs,” Frontline. India’s National Magazine 23, 19 (Sep. 23-Oct 06, 2006) at
http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2319/stories/20061006001205600.htm ). 

[5] From his “National Liberation and Culture,” Transition No. 45 (1974): 12-17

[6] See video at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_6560000/newsid_6565400/6565495.stm?bw=nb&mp=wm&news=1&ms3=6&ms_javascript=true&bbcws=2

[7] Omar fought as a guerilla with the Harakat-i Inqilab-i Islami faction of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen under the command of Nek Mohammad. After the experience in the Soviet conflict, Mohammed Omar shifted his attention to his religious studies.  He reportedly taught at a madrasah (Islamic religious school) near the Pakistan border.

[8] Kathy Gannon, “Qadir Key Pashtun Leader for Karzai,” Associated Press (July 6, 2002)

[9] See Marc W. Herold, “Tratando de comprender los veinte años de guerra en Afganistán (1989-2009) y el ‘momento unipolar’ de Estados Unidos” ,in Enric Prat Carvajal (ed.), Las raíces históricas de los conflictos armados actuals (Valencia:  Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2010): pp. 141-169

[10]1] Go to a 7-minute video of an attack by an AC-130U Specter gunship upon an Afghan village in October 2001. The video depicts U.S gunners firing directly upon people leaving the mosque, view at: 
http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/AC130_Gunship.wmv.

[11] From her “Brutality Smeared in Peanut Butter. Why America Must Stop the War Now,” The Guardian (October 23, 2001)

[12] Martin Bentham, “Omar Flees by Motorcycle to Escape Troops,” Telegraph (January 6, 2002)

[13] Described by Philip Alston in 2008 in Joe Kay, “CIA Death Squads Killing with “Impunity” in Afghanistan,”
 WSWS.org (May 19, 2008) at
http://www.wsws.org/tools/index.php?page=print&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsws.org%2Farticles%2F2008%2Fmay2008%2Fafgh-m19.shtml  
and in Pratap Chatterjee, “The Secret Killers: Assassinations in Afghanistan and Task Force 373,” The Huffington Post (August 19, 2010)

[14] H.D.S. Greenway, “In Mideast, Time is not on America’s Side,” Boston.com (February 27, 2004) at
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/02/27/in_mideast_time_is_not_on_americas_side?mode=PF ).

[15] As beautifully expressed in “The American public is conditionally tolerant of [military] casualties and consistently indifferent to collateral damage,” Dr. Karl P. Mueller, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell Air Force Base.

[16] See my “Obama’s Unspoken Trade-Off: Dead US/NATO Occupation Troops versus Dead Afghan Civilians?”
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2009/08/23/obamaand-8217-s-unspoken-trade-off-dead-us-nato-occupation-troops-versus-dead-afghan-civilianso.html

[17] view 2 ½ minute video at http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/63771

[18] see my “Crashing the Wedding Party: Arrogance, Pentagon Speak and Spooky’s Carnage,” Cursor.org (July 8, 2002) at http://cursor.org/stories/kakarak.htm

[19] My original dossier was released on December 10, 2001 at the Cursor.org website. A slightly revised version can be found as “”A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting [revised],” Cursor.org (March 2002) at http://cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm

[20] Marc W. Herold, “More of the Same Packaged as Change. Barack Obama and Afghanistan,” Counterpunch (August6, 2008) at
http://www.counterpunch.org/herold08062008.html. I have added the “…” in Lieven’s quotes

[21] the concept is explored in amongst many others, Nigel Harris, National Liberation (London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd, 1990)

[22] see amongst many others the editorial comment by the legal scholar, W. Michael Reisman, “The Resistance in Afghanistan is Engaged in a War of National Liberation,” American Journal of International Law 81,4 (October 1987): 906-909 available at http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.unh.edu/stable/pdfplus/2203416.pdf   

[23] Reisman, op. cit.: 908

[24] As falsely argued by David Whitehouse, “Afghanistan Sinking Deeper,” International Socialist Review No. 69 (Jan-Feb 2010: 12 at 
http://www.isreview.org/issues/69/feat-afghanistan.shtml 

[25] Details on Nigeria in Pade Badra, Imperialism and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria, 1960-1996 (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1998): 72

[26] Samir Amin, “The Battlefields Chosen by Contemporary Imperialism: Conditions for an Effective Response from the South,” MRZINE.Monthly Review.org (20101) at
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/amin070210p.html

[27] “Interview: Taliban is Part of Will of Afghan People – WikiLeaks Chief,” The Voice of Russia (2010) at
http://english.ruvr.ru/rtvideo/2010/08/01/video_14087677.html

The global elite has launched a world-wide operation against an unaware population to reduce and control fertility. Vaccines and even staple food crops have been modified to achieve these goals.

If you can’t seem to bring yourself to believe that such an undertaking is possible, or that there are human beings willing and capable; Look back in time, this kind of conspiracy isn’t new, in fact this kind of control was idealized by Plato some 2,300 years ago in his momentous work The Republic. Plato wrote that a ruling elite should guide society, “…whose aim will be to preserve the average of population.” He further stated, “There are many other things which they will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.”

The activities of the ruling elite in controlling population, writes Plato, must be kept secret. He writes, “Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd… breaking out into rebellion.”

Peering back into the mists of time and history reveal that there is truly nothing new under the sun. What has been done will be done again, and the 21st Century manifestation of global elites have advanced tools at their disposal.

The GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization)


The GAVI Alliance, founded in 2000 with the help of the Gates Foundation, has the goal of vaccinating all of the third world. The member organizations of GAVI are listed on group’s the website, which include:

“…national governments of donor and developing countries, the Bill and Melinda Gates Children’s Vaccine Program, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA), the Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization (WHO).”

In December of 2000, David Rockefeller and William H. Gates Sr., among others, (pictured to the right) visited the Rockefeller University campus to take part in a meeting on “Philanthropy in a Global Century”. While there, Gates spoke glowingly about his inspiration from Rockefeller in founding GAVI,

“Gates said that ‘Taking our lead and our inspiration from work already done by The Rockefeller Foundation, our foundation actually started GAVI by pledging $750 million to something called the Global Fund for Children’s Vaccines, an instrument of GAVI.’”

He also praised the Rockefeller family’s century of philanthropy, saying, ‘It seems like every new corner we turn, the Rockefellers are already there. And in some cases, they have been there for a long, long time.’”

The fact that such a global mechanism like GAVI exists – in the hands of outspoken population control advocates – for delivering vaccines to millions of people across the world should be disconcerting to say the least; Especially when confronted with the mountains of documentation proving that anti-fertility vaccines have been researched and delivered by the World Health Organization with grant money from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Bill Gates reaffirmed the global population control agenda during a recent TED conference presentation in which he stated,

“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”

Anti-fertility vaccines


As Jurriaan Maessen reports, the World Health Organization, one of GAVI’s partners, teamed up with the World Bank and UN Population Fund in the 1970′s under the “Task Force on Vaccines for Fertility Regulation”. The Task Force,

…acts as a global coordinating body for anti-fertility vaccine R&D in the various working groups and supports research on different approaches, such as anti-sperm and anti-ovum vaccines and vaccines designed to neutralize the biological functions of hCG. The Task Force has succeeded in developing a prototype of an anti-hCG-vaccine.

In 1989 research was conducted by the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi India on the use of ‘carriers’ such as Tetanus Toxoid and Diphtheria to bypass the immune system and deliver the female hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). The research paper was carried in the Oxford University Press in 1990 and was titled “Bypass by an alternate ‘carrier’ of acquired unresponsiveness to hCG upon repeated immunization with tetanus-conjugated vaccine.” The Rockefeller Foundation is listed in the document as giving grants for the research.

By delivering hCG within a Tetanus vaccine – which acts as the carrier – the human body treats hCG as an intruder and creates antibodies against it. This has the effect of sterilizing women who receive the vaccine, and in many cases miscarriage when given during pregnancy.

Soon after anti-fertility vaccines were successfully developed, hCG (Human chorionic gonadotrophin) containing Tetanus vaccines were deployed across multiple third-world countries. Many of these countries were specifically targeted in the U.S. Government’s 1974 National Security Memorandum 200 document for population reduction. The document recommended at the time in 1974 that “injectable contraceptives” receive further funding.

In the aftermath of widespread covert use of anti-fertility vaccines, the BBC aired a documentary titled “The Human Laboratory” in 1995 (transcript available here). The discovery of “contaminated” Tetanus toxoid vaccines and the resulting sterilization of Philippine women was exposed.

The following are excerpts from the BBC program:

MARY PILAR VERZOSA: The women would say why is it that the tetanus shots that we’ve been getting have had effects on us? Our fertility cycles are all fouled up, some of the women among us have had bleedings and miscarriages, some have lost their babies at a very early stage. The symptoms could come soon after their tetanus vaccination – some the following day, others within a week’s time. For those who were pregnant on their first three or four months the miscarriage was really frightening.

MARY PILAR VERZOSA: I began to suspect that here in the Philippines that’s exactly what’s happening. They have laced the tetanus toxoid vials with the Beta HCG.

MARY PILAR VERZOSA: Oh boy that was really something when this came out of my fax machine. Report on HCG concentration in vaccine vials. Three out of those four vials registered positive for HCG, so my suspicions are affirmed that here in our country they are not only giving plain tetanus toxoid vaccination to our women, they are also giving anti-fertility.

According to the local population of the Akha in Thailand, pregnant women are forced to receive vaccines – including tetanus – in order to get ID cards for their children. The vaccine often results with miscarriage. In the video below, Matthew McDaniel, a human rights activist who has been working with the Akha people of Thailand, speaks with two Akha women about the forced Tetanus vaccine and the resulting miscarriages.

Rural populations of the third world have caught on to possible effects of vaccination. Their fears are dismissed as “rumors” and “myths” by the mainstream press that fails to report on the established precedence of anti-fertility vaccine research. Often, those reassuring that the vaccines are safe are the very organizations engaged in population reduction efforts. A 2006 press release from UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund), which is involved with vaccinating many third world countries, quotes the Assistant Project Officer for Health in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Tersit Assefa,

“In other places, women of this age often stay away,” said Ms. Tersit. “All sorts of misguided rumours go round that the injections will sterilize them or harm them in some way. But here, the village elders are on board. They are here, encouraging the women to come along.”

While the needle is an obvious and visible form of vaccination, new technologies have been developed with the financial support of the Rockefeller Foundation. Edible vaccines, according to the Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, will be a more “socioculturally acceptable” alternative to needles. In other words, people will be less resistant to eating a mundane banana than taking a shot in the arm. The Journal states that new edible vaccine technology may serve a dual purpose of birth control. As stated,

“Edible vaccines hold great promise as a cost-effective, easy-to-administer, easy-to-store, fail-safe and socioculturally readily acceptable vaccine delivery system, especially for the poor developing countries… A variety of delivery systems have been developed. Initially thought to be useful only for preventing infectious diseases, it has also found application in prevention of autoimmune diseases, birth control, etc…”

The war against population is an ongoing effort on part of the global elite. This operation is truly massive in scope, but if we live our lives in fear of what the future may bring, we allow ourselves to be defeated. Let your awareness of the situation drive you to make positive changes. We still have the power to raise awareness among our fellow man, and despite what the elite may believe, they do not have a monopoly on the future.

Ben Affleck’s next movie, the Town, is set in Charlestown Mass, known for the battle of Bunker Hill and dubbed in the past by tabloid TV as “hell’s half acre” for all the crimes that take place there. The film, a cops and robbers tale, focuses on a gang that robs banks with extreme violence. Its ads refer to Charlestown as national capitol of bank robberies.

Actually the take by the gangsters there doesn’t come close to the amount of money stolen BY “Banksters” and banks on Wall Street.

Movies like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street2 delves into its well-mined culture of greed, with the Director, perhaps chastened by the criticisms of his recent political travelogue in South America, assuring the NY Times it’s not a “Michael Moore movie” whatever that means. Presumably it’s not explicitly political. (The Wall Street Journal called my film Plunder “the Anti-Wall Street Film That’s Not Just for Michael Moore fans.”)

A new studio backed documentary by Charles Ferguson about the financial crisis is titled Inside Jobs. It’s more about the business collapse than the crimes that caused it.

At the same time in a land far away, in Afghanistan, a country being introduced at gun point and drone attack to the wonders of Western Capitalism, a run on a big bank in Kabul has created a financial crisis that the owners of the Kabul bank, looted by its owners, say could lead to a “revolution.”

“If this goes on, we won’t survive,” says one of the men at the top. Reports say that some $300 billion dollars is missing.

Like its American counterparts, the Kabul bank wants a Washington bailout. Reports the Wall Street Journal, “Its executives seemed to have followed the western play book for ruining their bank.” They insiders gave themselves clandestine loans like many US lenders did. We have seen this movie before too: Does anyone remember Pakistan’s BCCI (a.k.a.”The Bank of Crooks And Criminals International.”)?

Officially, Washington says no help, but many suspect money will be forthcoming less the illusion of Afghanistan’s democracy to be crumbles.

In banking, justice has been redefined as “just-us” as Ben Bernanke of The Federal Reserve Bank tells the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, as the NY Crimes (my name, not theirs), reported, “and he said Americans were justifiably angry that bankers ‘who drove their companies into a ditch with off with lots of money.” He also admitted that he failed to see the flaws of the system.

Bernanke did allude to “innovations” that provided lenders with an “unfair advantage,” the closed he came to referencing the way borrowers were ripped off. He spoke about laws when it came to the Fed’s legal authority, but not to the way Wall Street and the mortgage people who he acknowledged worked for them flouted the law.

The Commission has its own “flaws,” failing to see or investigate this pervasive fraud at the heart of the crisis. Economist Michael Hudson notes, “I believe that the beneficiaries were fraudsters, and that the system cannot be saved. Trying to save it by keeping the debts in place – and letting Wall Street banks “work their way out of debt” at the U.S. economy’s expense – threatens to lock the economy in a chronic debt deflation and depression.”

In its hearings on the fall of Lehman, the Commission cited emails advising against helping the bank whose bankruptcy accelerated a major financial collapse. Jim Wilkinson, then chief of staff to ex-Goldman CEO and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote them. What the Commission did not reveal was Wilkinson’s personal history of fraud as the head of the GOP operatives whose “riot” stopped a vote recount in Miami Dade in 2000, and then, in 2003, as the head of the Coalition Media Center in Doha called an “information deprivation tank” by critic Michael Wolf for all the lies about the coming Iraq War that were disseminated there.

Talk about fraud! Here’s one operative who went from voter fraud to political fraud to financial fraud.

So even as popular culture and an angry public see the Wall Street as a den of thieves, the people who are supposed to prosecute financial and White Collar Crime do not.

They have been getting some of the perpetrators to fork over multi-million fines t get out of jail rather than toss their asses behind bars.

Last week, Moody’s, the rating agency partially owned by the “Oracle of Omaha,” billionaire Warren Buffet, and which dished out triple A ratings like candy for “asset backed securities,” (with no assets behind them) was told by the SEC it will not be prosecuted. The Securities and Exchange Commission cited “jurisdictional reasons.”

These agencies were not being regulated when they misrepresented the value or the derivatives and “structured investment products” they were selling so a Regulator claims to be powerless to hold them accountable

Many banks bought this junk based on Moody’s reputation. In the end, they lost billions. They were also conned and lied to. The consequences: NONE. (One of the Ratings Agencies, Fitch, disclosed that 80% of the packages of mortgages they examined were fraudulent.)

80%!

The ratings agencies were not alone among those forgiven for their crimes. None of the big brand name banks are being prosecuted including the insurance giant AIG that proudly and profitably wrote credit default swaps on this crap.

Henry Blodget who was excommunicated as a Wall Street trader for his own excesses and dishonesty justifies all this:

“No criminal charges will be filed against Joseph Cassano or anyone else at AIG, lawyers have announced.

At first blush, this sounds outrageous–yet more failure to punish those responsible for the financial crisis–but in at least one important respect, it’s very good news.

Criminal charges against Cassano and other AIGers would have been greeted with near-unanimous applause, no matter how flimsy the case. Prosecutors who brought the charges would have been acclaimed for their toughness and heroism–and, even if the case eventually failed, would long since have moved on to the more lucrative side of the business (defense). Politicians would have cheered the toughness of the new regulatory regime. The public would have felt that in some small measure, justice would have been done. And so on.

So why is it good news that charges weren’t filed?

Because, despite crawling all over AIG for two years, Federal prosecutors apparently didn’t find enough evidence to hang criminal charges on…Being short-term greedy, betting the farm, and destroying your firm, it turns out, wasn’t against the law.”

Of course not, because the laws were rewritten with lobbying by the financial insutry before this recent crime spree. They security laws now have impossibly high standards for conviction. Yet the prosesceutors didn’t consider bringing a RICO action to prosecute the interconnected crimes of the Finance. Real Estate and Insurance companies.

I asked Aaron Krowne who edits the respected financial site ML-Implode about Blodget’s rationalization.

“My take is that RICO-style actions would be needed, as you say,” he wrote me. “The crime was the pattern. In most cases, no specific black-letter statues were violated at the high level (though they may have been violated at lower levels, i.e. with mortgage transfers and such.

Also, criminal prosecution should look inward to the regulators. AIG may have been regulated by the flimsy OTS (Office of Thrift Supervision) in the US, but that doesn’t mean the OTS has no responsibilities.

That’s the real rub. At the top of the pyramid, there is no enforcement, since it would require asking the enforcers to police themselves. (I’ve run into this in very literal terms in my HUD whistle-blowing/litigation)”

Like a fish, the rot starts at the head.

So the banks that robbed themselves, robbed each other, financed what the FBI calls a “mortgage fraud epidemic,” while gouging their customers with excess fees, phony charges and inadequate monitoring of fraud in individual accounts, are getting off Scott-free.

Well not exactly free, after having been given bailouts and loans for almost nothing that they can then pass on loans at higher fees to you and me. Despite it all hundreds of banks are waiting to fail.

They remain a business that gives us the business with little accountability or transparency.

Ain’t nothing free about this free market.

News Dissector Danny Schechter directed the film Plunder The Crime Of Our Time, and wrote a companion book. (www.Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to [email protected].  

NEW BOOK FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH
(click for details)
The Global Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew G. Marshall (editors)

Is the US becoming a Third World Country?

September 6th, 2010 by Global Research

During recent years, the gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, systematically wiping the existence of the middle class from America.The United States is on the brink of sliding down to a Third World country, as it struggles with massive debts, rising unemployment and a deteriorating economy.

Some of the warning signs that indicate America’s fantastic fall from a First World nation include rising unemployment and poverty.

According to Spiegel Online, the United States is recently faced with a new phenomenon called “the new poor.”

In Ventura California – a luxurious resort city – about 20 percent of the residents are at risk of homelessness.

The once-rich, who have lost their homes, are now forced to sleep in their expensive cars parked in the city’s corners, Captain William Finley, the head of the local branch of the Salvation Army said.

He further added that during the past months, the number of people taking advantage of the organization’s free meals program has doubled. Many drive up in their BMWs to receive free food, he went on to say.

Another signal that marks the demise of America’s so-called greatness is the disappearance of the middle class.

During recent years, the gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, systematically wiping the existence of the middle class from America.

Income inequality in the US has reached a stage where only one percent of Americans own as much as 37 percent of the total national wealth.

That means that if an average CEO earned 30 times as much as an ordinary worker in 1950, today he would own 300 times as much.

Meanwhile, in its current annual report, the US Department of Agriculture stressed that some 50 million Americans were not able to afford enough food to stay healthy at some point in 2009.

It also noted that one in eight adult Americans and one in four children now survive on government food stamps. These are unbelievable numbers for the world’s richest nation, Spiegel wrote.

So far, US politicians have failed to come up with solutions to the growing crisis.

“The lights are going out all over America,” Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman wrote last month. This is due to the fact that many US residents can no longer spend money because they have no savings.

Their houses have lost half of their value; they no longer qualify for low-interest loans; they are making less money than before or they’re unemployed. This in turn reduces or eliminates their ability to pay taxes.

As a result, many state and local governments are faced with enormous budget deficits. In Hawaii, schools are closed on some Fridays to save the state money. A county in Georgia has eliminated all public bus services and in Colorado Springs, a city of 380,000 people, a third of streetlights have been shut off to save electricity.

In fact, the United States, which is in the wake of a huge debt crisis of above 90% of GDP, is threatened by a social Ice Age more severe than anything the country has seen since the Great Depression.

This is why last month, a leading online columnist, Arianna Huffington, issued the almost apocalyptic warning that “America is in danger of becoming a Third World country.”

Obama’s Middle East Peace Talks: A Circus to Distract

September 6th, 2010 by Shamus Cooke

What a joke. President Obama surely knows there is zero chance that his Middle East peace talks will succeed, even with the deck stacked in his favor. All of the main actors are on the U.S. payroll: Israel, Egypt, and Jordan get billions in foreign aide, while the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has proven a pliable puppet for the U.S. as he is disdained by his own people.

But even puppets have their limits. If the above governments were to support the type of peace treaty that Israel would agree to, their already oppressed people would revolt.  
 
This is because Israel has been quite clear about what it will and will not “concede.” The basis for all Middle East Peace talks has always been the land that Israel stole during the 1967 six day war: the Golan Heights in Syria must be returned; the West Bank must be un-occupied; East Jerusalem must be returned to the Palestinian people. UN Resolution 242 demands that Israel return these territories. It will not.
 
Nor will Israel stop Israeli settlers from building communities in the West Bank or allow all Palestinian refugees to return to their land and homes that were confiscated beginning in 1948. Israel does not grant equal civil and political rights to any Arabs living in this theocratic state. The U.S. and Israel will not even allow the only political party in the occupied territories with any legitimacy, Hamas, to participate in the “peace process.” 
 
In fact, the only reason that Israel has agreed to participate in this sham is for some good public relations. Years of oppressing the Palestinians has earned Israel international condemnation, especially after the recent flotilla massacre. Israel hopes that in making a “sincere effort” in the peace process, it will shift attention away from the ongoing atrocities it commits as a matter of state policy.
 
Obama has similar motives as he pursues a path leading to nowhere. At home, Obama becomes more unpopular with each passing day, as he confronts a jobs depression by ignoring it or by pretending that the economy is improving for working people. 
 
The wars that Obama is conducting are failures; hundreds of billions of dollars continue to flow into the doomed effort, money that could instead be used to create jobs. 
 
As Obama chooses to pursue policies only acceptable to corporations, he must lean heavier on right-wing elements. The same approach that Israel uses to oppress the Palestinians — racism, scapegoating, and fear — are being transferred to the U.S., especially towards those with ancestry from the Middle East or immigrants from Latin America. 
 
As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently explained: 
 

“The practical choice we face is this: Either major action to reverse the jobs emergency or years of intolerably high unemployment coupled with demagoguery and scapegoating.” (September 3, 2010, robertreich.org

If there were good intentions behind the peace talks that included serious proposals, Obama would deserve credit for his effort. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Obama refuses to cut U.S. aid to Israel, which it uses to wage war against its neighbors and to crush the Palestinians. This is because Obama continues to use Israel as a giant extension of U.S. corporate interests: Israel uses its U.S. financed military to ensure that profitable resources like oil do not fall into the “wrong hands.”
 
Obama and the Democrats will travel down their corporate inspired path until there are obstacles thrown in their way. On October 2nd attention will be given to the enormous need for jobs as labor unions, the NAACP, and other organizations descend on Washington, D.C. for a mass demonstration.  Demonstrations in other states are being planned too.
 
The bigger the demonstrations, and the louder that the demand of “Jobs For All!,” the less able are politicians to focus on foreign affairs and phony negotiations.  The bigger the focus on creating jobs and making Wall Street pay for them, the less able are right-wing elements to steer workers frustration into racism, scapegoating, and other fake solutions.

All Out For October 2nd !

Non-combat US troops in Iraq engage in combat

September 6th, 2010 by Boris Volkhonsky

On September 5, US troops were called in by Iraqi authorities to help combat insurgents who attacked an army base in Baghdad. There were no casualties among the American military and the whole incident would hardly be worth mentioning be it not for the fact that American participation in combat took place only five days after the widely advertised pullout of all US combat troops. 

The memories of a high profile TV address by President Obama to the nation in which he declared that the mission is over and all combat troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, are still fresh.

Skeptics immediately pointed out that the remaining amount of 50,000 American military was too big for ‘advisers’ as they are officially called. Doubts were also expressed as to whether the pullout really signifies that the wave of violence in Iraq has subsided and Iraqi officials can cope with the terrorist threat themselves. As a Russian expert, President of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Evgeny Satanovsky said in an interview to “Vremya novostey” daily, if Obama’s speech did signify anything it was only a recognition of American failure in Iraq and the whole TV address was intended only for internal consumption in view of the complicated situation the Democrats are facing in mid-term elections. 

It did not take long to prove that skeptics were right.

Iraqi officials cannot handle the terrorist problem for themselves and non-combat US troops do engage in combat. While helping the Iraqi forces to fend off the attack, US troops used helicopters and unmanned aircraft.

Not only Russian, but American experts as well question the success of US Iraqi policy. An article in The New York Times by Steven Lee Myers and Duraid Adnan was published on Sunday under a heading that speaks for itself, ‘Attack Shows Lasting Threat to US in Iraq’.

In the authors’ view, the attack “underscored the ambiguity of the American military’s role in Iraq…and punctuated a sharp rise in violence as the United States declared an official end to its combat mission”. As for Iraqis, the attack seemed so furious that one of the civilians locked in the compound even thought that this was a coup and that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had fallen. Well, this time it did not, but the very fact that such a thought occurred to an ordinary Iraqi on the earliest possible instance, does not leave much hope that the government will last long. 

Back in 2003, the ongoing Iraqi campaign was widely advertised as “America’s imperial moment”. In 2008, Obama’s promises to withdraw the troops from Iraq turned to be a significant factor in his election campaign. “Imperial adventure” had apparently failed by that time. Now, the pullout is as widely advertised – Barack Obama is trying to show that he keeps his promises. But the failure of Bush’s “imperial project” seems to pound back on Obama. The pullout has proved to be no more than just a pun, with combat troops being simply relabeled as ‘advisers’ (just like the Operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’ was renamed ‘New Dawn’), and the insurgents taking the opportunity to increase violence.

As BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson reports from Baghdad, “it is a pattern that every occupying power becomes used to. America, it seems, cannot do anything right – not even getting out.”

“America seems to have shrunk as a direct result of its imperial adventure in Iraq,” concludes the author, and “it will have to work very hard to persuade the rest of the world that it is strong again.”

Iraqi commentators are even more outspoken. “I don’t think the Americans are taking this action for the sake of Iraq. They are doing it for President Obama,” writes a 49-year old Nermeen Al Mutfi in a BBC blog. “And what are they handing over? There is still violence everywhere.”  Another blogger, a 42-year old Dr Anees from Baghdad writes, “When the Americans are gone, I believe, it will be easier for the extremists. It is a moral boost for them. They will be victorious because they have kicked the Americans out. But there is no victory, really.” 

There seems to be more truth in these words of an ordinary Iraqi than in the whole TV address by the President of the world strongest superpower.

Cyber Warfare: US Military Hackers and Internet Spies

September 6th, 2010 by Leonid Savin

After October 1 thousands of US military hackers and spies will get down to their cyber war activities.   

The declarations for taking cyber defense measures can be heard more and more often in the US. US analysts state that information and communication networks, on which the national infrastructure depends on, are becoming vulnerable for cyber criminals.

Cyberspace defense issue is urgent not only for the US. “The statistics revealed that cybercriminals have upped the ante and are becoming more sophisticated and creative, distributing more aggressive forms of malware” -Defence IQ website states.

“Our statistics show that Trojans and rogueware (‘fake’ antivirus programs) amounted to almost 85 per cent of all malware activity in 2009. 2009 was also the year of Conficker, though this belies the fact that worms ranked at just 3.42 per cent of last year’s malware creation”, the magazine read.

“The Conficker worm has caused serious problems in both domestic and corporate environments, with more than 7 million computers infected worldwide, and it is still spreading rapidly”. (1)

However it seems that the US is too concerned with the problem of cyber defense in comparison with other countries. On April 26, the CIA unveiled its plans to new initiatives in the fight against Web-based attacks. The document outlines the plans for the next five years and director of the CIA Leon Pannetta said that it was “vital for the CIA to be one step ahead of the game when it comes to challenges like cyber space security” (2).

In May 2009, the White House approved Cyberspace Policy Review (3), submitted to the US president by the members of a special commission. The document summed up the state of things in the US cyberspace and national information security.  It was proposed to a appoint cyber security policy official responsible for coordinating the US cyber security policies and activities.

The report outlined a new comprehensive framework to facilitate coordinated responses by government, the private sector, and allies to a significant cyber incident. The new system of coordination would enable Federal, State, local, and tribal governments to work with industry to improve the plans and resources they have in place in advance to detect, prevent, and respond to significant cyber security incidents. The initiative also implies providing US counter intelligence with more technical and functional options and training of new cyber defense specialists.

The last but not least – in mid 2010, on the territory of the Lackland air base in Texas the construction of the first specialized cyber intelligence center for a 400 personnel began. The 68th Network Warfare Squadron and 710th Information Operations Flight were moved to San Antonio. This place was chosen because of it is close to other cyber military facilities – Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency, Texas Cryptology Center of the USNational Security Agency, united information operations command and the US Air forces cryptology support. It will function in the interests of the US Space command, US Air Forces command and US Air Forces’reserve.

Numerous publications in the US mass media show that the reform of the national cyber defense forces as well as the introduction of the doctrine and strategy of the cyber war are soon to be completed. As for the US cyber strategy we can assume that it is in line with the general concept of the US global leadership.

William Lynn III in his article “ThePentagon’s Cyberstrategy”, published in Foreign Affairs journal (September/October 2010), outlined five basic principles of the future strategy:

- Cyber must be recognized as a warfare domain equal to land, sea, and air;

- Any defensive posture must go beyond “good hygiene” to include sophisticated and accurate operations that allow rapid response;

- Cyber defenses must reach beyond the department’s dot-mil world into commercial networks, as governed by Homeland Security;

- Cyber defenses must be pursued with international allies for an effective “shared warning” of threats; and

- The Defense Department must help to maintain and leverage U.S. technological dominance and improve the acquisitions process to keep up with the speed and agility of the information technology industry (4).

When commenting this article analysts point out that “The capabilities being sought would allow U.S. cyber-warriors to “deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade and destroy” information and computers around the globe”. (5)

Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the Pentagon’s new Cyber Command(ARFORCYBER) said: “We have to have offensive capabilities, to, in real time, shut down somebody trying to attack us,” Earlier Keith Alexander compared cyber attacks with weapons of mass destruction and according to his recent statements the US is planning offensive application of the new warfare.

While Washington is accusing other countries of aiding and sponsoring cyber terrorism (Statistic shows that most of cyber attacks against US informational systems were made from China), the US special forces are training new personnel for cyber wars.

The command – made up of 1,000 elite military hackers and spies under one four-star general – is the linchpin of the Pentagon’s new strategy and is slated to become fully operational Oct. 1.- Washington Post reports (6). The Defense Department has “15,000 networks and 7 million computing devices in use in dozens of countries, with 90,000 people working to maintain them and it depends heavily on commercial industry for its network operations” (7). Attracting allies and private companies working in the sphere of IT and security the US plans to establish the new order in the global cyber space.

Considering all this what may we expect? It is quite likely that we may expect spying by means of tabs and backdoors in software sold by well-known companies such as Microsoft, as well as an informational blockade, limiting access to alternative sources of information. Thus from October 1, all the achievements of the informational age can be challenged.

Notes

(1) http://www.defenceiq.com/article.cfm?externalID=2718
(2) http://www.defenceiq.com/article.cfm?externalID=2460
(3) http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/Cyberspace_Policy_Review_final.pdf
(4) William J. Lynn III W. Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon’s Cyberstrategy.// Foreign Affairs. September/October 2010.
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66552/william-j-lynn-iii/defending-a-new-domain(29.08.2010)
(5) Webster S. Pentagon may apply preemptive warfare policy to the Internet. August 29, 2010.
 http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/0829/pentagon-weighs-applying-preemptive-warfare-tactics-internet/ (30.08.2010).
(6) Nakashima E. Pentagon considers preemptive strikes as part of cyber-defense strategy. Washington Post. August 28, 2010.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/28/AR2010082803849_pf.html
(7) Daniel L. Lynn Outlines Cyber Threats, Defensive Measures. American Forces Press Service.
http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=60600


People in Louisiana expressing their feelings about the BP oil disaster. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

“It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” -Malcolm X

If someone broke into your house, pinned down your loved ones and began pouring poison down their throats, would you stop that person?

What if someone poured crude oil all over your crops and livestock? Wouldn’t you try to stop them from doing it?


 
Oyster beds soaked in BP oil. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

Oil filled inland lagoon on Timbalier Island, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

Pointed questions like these come from a man named Derrick Jensen. They provide a lens through which to view the havoc that corporate capitalism is wreaking on our planet. They are meant to jolt us into the awareness that we are watching life on earth annihilated. They are also meant to challenge us into thinking about what form our resistance to this should take.

“I think what we need to do is to stop deluding ourselves into believing that those in power will do what they have not done and they’ve shown no inclination to do, which is to support life over production,” says Jensen, an author and environmental activist who lives in Northern California.

Lewis Mumford, a US historian and philosopher of science and technology, has written, “The chief premise common to both technology and science is the notion that there are no desirable limits to the increase of knowledge, of material goods, of environmental control; that quantitative productivity is an end in itself and that every means should be used to further expansion.”

But how can unlimited growth and productivity be possible on a planet with finite resources?

Simple answer: It cannot.

Yet, we are all being pushed, at breakneck speed, toward a future that promises catastrophic global climate change, depleted natural resources, environmental degradation and human chaos and suffering on an apocalyptic scale.

One hundred and twenty species of life are erased from the planet each day.

Ninety percent of all the pelagic fish in the oceans are gone.

The Arctic ice cap is vanishing before our eyes as global temperatures continue to rise.

Here are some recent headlines from this summer:

  • Greenland Ice Sheet loses 100 square miles, biggest loss since 1962 (Aug. 2010)
  • Russia’s drought-driven halt to wheat exports panics world grain markets (Aug. 2010)
  • Pakistan’s worst flood in recorded history claims some 1,100 lives (July, 2010)
  • International study confirms accelerating warming trend (July, 2010)
  • Rapid decline in phytoplankton population stuns scientists (July, 2010)
  • Flash floods seen increasing as Milwaukee gets eight inches in two hours (July, 2010)
  •  Senate climate bill collapses (July, 2010)
  • Coral reef deaths soar in record ocean heat (July, 2010)
  • First half of 2010 was hottest such period on record (July, 2010)
  • Carbon lobby launches “CO2 is Green” campaign (July, 2010)
  • Massive Greenland glacier retreats one mile in one night (July, 2010)
  • Military declares climate change “a catalyst for conflict” (June, 2010)
  • Malaria soars with small rainforest reductions (June, 2010)
  • Oceans have stored more heat than they released since 1993 (May, 2010)
  • Climate change is causing “irreversible” destruction of ocean life systems (June, 2010)
  • Himalayan glacier melt puts 60 million people at risk of food shortages (June, 2010)
  • Warming pushes many small mammal species to the brink (June, 2010)

This is happening not because any of us want it, but because those in power, answerable only to their corporate sponsors, are playing out their mantra of “every means should be used to further expansion.”

Expansion of growth. Expansion of profits. Expansion of power.

Mumford has said a change in this mindset of perpetual expansion would likely only happen with “an all-out fatal shock treatment, close to catastrophe, to break the hold of civilized man’s chronic psychosis.”

We have already had many of these “fatal shock treatments:” the Exxon Valdez spill, the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Agent Orange, Love Canal, Three Mile Island, the Seveso Italian dioxin crisis, the Baia Mare cyanide spill. These are just a few. It’s a long list.

And, now, we can add the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

View of “The Source.” (Area of Gulf of Mexico directly above the Macondo Well after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon Rig.) (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

BP’s oilrig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in April and, for 36 hours, its flames released immeasurable amounts of toxins into the atmosphere before it sunk into the depths. We now know that the vast majority of the oil that gushed from the well was intentionally submerged by BP via heavy use of dispersants at the wellhead, so most of the oil is floating around in giant undersea plumes, one of which is ten miles long, three miles wide and 300 feet thick. They are like oil bergs – what we see on top of the water is a mere fraction of what lies beneath. This was not an oil leak. This was a volcano of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

If independent estimates of the amount of oil released into the Gulf are correct, as many as one Exxon Valdez load of oil (250,000 barrels worth) was being released into the Gulf of Mexico every two and a half days. That means 8,700,000 barrels of oil, or 34 Exxon Valdez’s worth, were released into the Gulf of Mexico.

Conversely, what actions have been taken to bring BP to account? Will the CEO likely spend time in jail? Government officials and institutions that have colluded with BP – how about them being brought to justice?

When the Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989, the incident was considered to be among the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters in history.

Even after the surface oil is cleaned up in the Gulf of Mexico, scientific studies already show (as they have shown in Prince William Sound) that oil can remain trapped in the seabed for decades, continuing to contaminate and kill fish, shrimp, crabs and bird life. To this date, a maximum of only 14 percent of the oil spilled in that disaster has been recovered. As you read this, BP is scaling down the response efforts to the Gulf disaster.

Meanwhile, as the so-called free market that allows unchecked corporate powers like BP to pollute and destroy our ecosystems with impunity continues, the oil spreads across the Gulf and another oil platform has exploded in the Gulf, this time 80 miles south of Louisiana.

Jensen believes that expecting those in power to do what is right for human beings, much less the planet, “is delusional.” “Their function in a democracy is to give us the illusion of power, but the truth is that they do what they want,” Jensen explains. “Why is it that cops are always called in to break strikes but not help the strikers? When the function of the state is to support the privatization of profits and the externalization of costs, what kind of state is this?”

Jensen, a prolific writer and author of several books, including “A Language Older Than Words” and “Endgame,” summarizes the situation we face like this: “The point is that when a gold mining corporation spreads cyanide all over the mine and this hits our groundwater and wells and destroys ground waters in Montana, they are not called a terrorist, they are called a capitalist.”

The same can be said for BP. Exxon. Monsanto. Bayer. Dow. Lockheed Martin. It’s a long list.

“If it was space aliens coming down and systematically changing the planet, would we appeal to them through lawsuits, take off our clothes and make peace symbols, petitions?” Jensen asks. “I was once being interviewed by a dogmatic pacifist and he felt that I wanted all activists to act like assassins. That’s not true. What I want is for all activists to act like they are serious about their resistance and that might include assassinations.”

Jensen believes that we are at a point in history where the very planet upon which we live and our lives are at stake. If the perpetual growth, corporate-capitalist-industrial machine is allowed to continue, we will die. Thus, it must be stopped by any means necessary.

To illustrate what might be possible by taking a militant approach, Jensen points to Johann Georg Elser, the man who attempted to assassinate Adolph Hitler in 1939.

“Everyone agrees that if Hitler was killed in 1939, the war doesn’t happen,” Jensen explains, “The point is that I want people to think like members of a resistance. The first thing that means is to start thinking away from being part of a capitalist industrial system and away from this government that we all acknowledge serves corporations better than us and toward the land where we live.”

Many are concerned that the approach Jensen advocates will generate extreme government crackdowns on activists working on topics across the political spectrum – that the use of violence to promote change is a bankrupt strategy and one that is doomed to failure.

“I am not the violence guy,” is Jensen’s response, “I’m really the everything guy. Only two percent of the IRA ever picked up weapons. 98 percent were doing support work. We need a wide range of tactics, which can include fighting back and attacking the infrastructure. I don’t know what is so radical or incendiary about believing that living oceans are more important than a social structure. The culture as a whole suffers from insanity, one form of which is that this social structure is more important than the living planet. I don’t believe you can suffer the delusion that you can systematically dismantle a planet and live on it. It’s very simple to me. Life is more important than capitalism.”

* * *

Many activists have argued that nonviolence is the only path that will lead to positive, lasting change in society. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and activist, is a man Martin Luther King Jr. called “an apostle of peace and nonviolence.” In Saigon during the early 1960s, he organized students to rebuild bombed villages, resettle families and create agricultural coops. His work, then as now, is based on the Buddhist principles of nonviolence and compassionate action.

Voices like Hanh’s tell us that violence begets violence, a theory backed by thousands of years of historical evidence.

Some, like influential German Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, argue that the use of violence, while at times effective in destroying power, “Is utterly incapable of creating it.” Arendt’s work dealt with the nature of power that she explored via investigations of politics, authority and totalitarianism.

Arendt believed that true freedom was synonymous with collective political action among equals.

Organized nonviolent power, on a massive scale, like that by the movement behind Gandhi in India, could possibly avoid these draconian measures while destabilizing the corporate centers of power.

* * *

Jensen does not advocate the use of violence as a means toward taking control of, or even overthrowing, the US government. Instead, he encourages small groups of people to do what their government has failed to do. For example, he asks, “What would happen if police started enforcing cancer free zones, or rape free zones, or toxics free zones?” He goes on to answer his rhetorical question, “We could start putting together forces that say, “You will not toxify this land and we will stop you. If people came into our homes and started to pour poison down our throats, we would stop them.”

In Oakland, California, in the 1960s, police brutality against African-Americans was rampant. But when the Black Panthers decided to arm themselves, load into cars and trail the police, beatings of African-Americans decreased dramatically.

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A modern-day example is The Pink Sari Gang, a group of women in India who wear pink saris and train in the martial arts. “If they see a man abusing a woman, they beat the crap out of him,” Jensen says, “If they see the police abusing the poor, they step in. This dramatically reduces domestic violence.”

Jensen is not the first person to suggest the use of violence against those in power. Malcolm X also took on the establishment in the 1960s by indicting white America in the harshest of terms for its crimes against blacks, and he remains one of the most influential African-Americans in history.

“We declare our right on this earth … to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary,” is perhaps his most famous quote. While he was clear about only using violence in self-defense, Malcolm X was also clear on the issue of nonviolence: “It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks,” he said.

* * *

Could these tactics succeed in the United States today?

Assassinations, sabotage and other violent acts geared toward stopping the corporate capitalist system might remove some corporate CEOs and temporarily slow ecological destruction, but the CEOs would immediately be replaced and the violence and sabotage would most certainly be used to justify draconian measures applied to the general public, thus, making further resistance more challenging.

The US government response to armed resistance in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in National Guardsmen killing unarmed anti-war protesters on college campuses and the FBI assassination of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Chicago. Government spying and surveillance of resistance leaders was rampant, as was exposed by the COINTELPRO files being made public.

Arendt was critical of the tactics of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers for advocating violence, along with being critical of other groups in the 1960s in the US who did the same, like the Weathermen who carried out dozens of bombings of government targets in response to the war in Vietnam. Arendt wrote, “In a head-on clash between violence [military] and [collective nonviolent resistance] power, the outcome is hardly in doubt.”

Yet, her critique of the failure of governments’ use of violence to quell nonviolent movements is equally harsh: “Nowhere is the self-defeating factor in the victory of violence over [collective nonviolent] power more evident than in the use of terror to maintain domination, about whose weird successes and eventual failures we know perhaps more than any generation before us.”

Arendt could easily count the failing US empire project among her “eventual failures” in this analysis. Indeed, one can argue that the US empire project, which is essentially run by a corporate, capitalist, hegemonic ideology, is being crushed under its own weight. This is evidenced by the ongoing global financial crisis and the escalating human-made climate change.

Hailing the religions of infinite growth and perpetual profit within the confines of a finite plane is truly an example of the proverbial snake eating its own tail. So, why not leave it to eat itself, then rebuild and reconfigure ourselves to live closer to the land after the juggernaut collapses?

* * *

We do not have the luxury of that kind of time. Scientists now tell us that the Arctic ice cap will likely be ice free in the summer within ten years. When this happens, rather than reflecting sunlight, that area then turns into a heat absorbing sink that dramatically increases the rate of climate change and overall planetary warming.

Iceberg calved from the Antarctic Ice Shelf. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

By late 2009, two different studies showed seven years straight of a loss of Antarctic ice at a rate of 190 gigatonnes per year and the rate was increasing with time.

Some political scientists and currently serving US senators and Congresspersons now argue that our system of so-called representative government is so broken and corrupted that it is beyond its capability of righting itself.

Thirty years ago, people in the United States used to make fun of the Soviet Union and the Politburo because the body of the latter was approximately 97 percent populated by communist members. Thus, the legitimacy of the Politburo was erased.

“What percentage of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives are capitalist party members [politicians who subscribe to the so-called free market system]?” Jensen asks. “Suddenly it’s not so funny, is it? I ask people all over the country, ‘Do you believe we live in a democracy?’ And almost nobody ever says yes. I ask, ‘Does the government take better care of corporations or human beings?’ Of the thousands of people I ask this to at talks, nobody says human beings and this is not even to speak of salmon.”

Jensen says every morning when he wakes up, he asks himself if he should write or blow up a dam. “You and I can write all we want, but that doesn’t help the salmon,” he tells me, “What they need is for dams to be removed and logging stopped.”

His incisive pragmatism disregards any concern for upsetting people, groups or adherence to what is politically correct. He is spurred forward in his work because the urgency of the situation demands it. Jensen believes that all forms of resistance, nonviolent, violent and everything in between, are important and useful. But he does not hesitate to point out where he feels some methods do not go far enough.

Someone Jensen singles out as an example of how current tactics of resistance are not enough is Bill McKibben. In 1988, McKibben, a well-known author, environmentalist and activist wrote “The End of Nature,” the first book for a common audience about global warming. He is the co-founder of 350.org,  an international climate campaign to bring awareness to the fact that the planet faces both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remain above 350 parts per million (ppm). Right now, we are at 390 ppm and climbing.

Last December, just prior to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that had enacted no useful legislation to curb carbon emissions, McKibben penned an article for Mother Jones magazine. In it, he wrote, “The latest numbers from the computer jockeys at Climate Interactive – a collaboration of Sustainability Institute, Sloan School of Management at MIT and Ventana Systems, is that if all the national plans now on the table were adopted the planet in 2100 would have an atmosphere with 770 parts per million CO2.”

“Bill McKibben has done a wonderful job of publicizing the threat from global warming,” Jensen says, “He’s been doing it for a long time, with incredible stamina and work and I have incredible respect for that.”

But Jensen insists that the tactics of McKibben’s group 350.org do not go far enough.

“So the question I have, not only for Bill, but for everyone is, what is your threshold? Give me one at which you’ll stop believing in and petitioning those in power and will begin direct attacks on the oil infrastructure. Is it 440ppm? 450? 570? When the planet turns into Venus? What is your threshold? We need stop them before they kill the planet.”

Applying tactics like those used by the Black Panthers, the Weathermen or Malcolm X would most likely lead to government security crackdowns that far surpass those used in the 1960s.

It is also a given that business-as-usual activism is not getting the job done. That the goal of opening “free markets” is written into the US National Security Strategy means that the march toward “freedom” really means a freedom for corporate interests to gobble up resources, pillage and pollute our common land base (and oceans, seas, Gulfs) and continue to exploit the underprivileged labor base in the US and abroad.

* * *

In April 2004, I watched local Iraqis in Fallujah, armed with Kalashnikov machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers, repel the most powerful military machine on the globe when US occupation forces attempted to invade their city. In 2006, during the Israeli attack of Lebanon, I saw Hezbollah, using little more than what the Iraqis used in Fallujah, repel an invasion by the Israeli military – a military defeat Israeli smart weapons, sophisticated US-made fighter jets and drones could do nothing to prevent.

“History provides many examples of successful resistance, as do current events,” writes Jensen, who maintains a regular column for Orion magazine called “Upping the Stakes.” In the March/April issue he wrote, “The Irish nationalists, the abolitionists, the suffragettes – I could fill the rest of this column with examples. Recently, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has, through attacks on oil pipelines and the kidnapping of oil workers, disabled as much as 40 percent of the oil industry’s output from Nigeria and some oil companies have even considered pulling out of the region. If those of us who are the primary beneficiaries of this global system of exploitation had 1 percent of their courage and commitment to the land and community, we could be equally effective if not more so. We have vastly more resources at our disposal and the best we can come up with is, what, compost piles? The world is being killed and many environmentalists still think that riding bikes is some sort of answer?”

Jensen told me that MEND was, for a long time, nonviolent, but after one of their leaders was killed, they moved toward using sabotage, then finally to violent resistance.

Jensen adds in his column, “MEND has said to the oil industry: ‘It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can or die in it.’ There is more courage, integrity, intelligence and pragmatism in that statement from MEND than in any statement I have ever read by any American environmentalist, including myself. We need to accept the fact that making this type of statement (and being prepared to act on it) might be necessary to preserve a living planet. Some people may be willing to give up on life on this planet without resisting. I’m not one of them.”

Jensen urges people to “think for themselves,” as he feels this is the most important first step toward true freedom.

“I want them to decolonize their hearts and minds,” he explains. “That means to recognize that this culture is not the only way to live. This is one culture. To recognize that technological progress is not progress. It is escalation. It improves the ability of those in power to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command. If sea turtles were developing all kinds of technology that was killing the planet, we would not call it progress.”

For all of us who are or want to be actively involved in work that might shape a better future for the planet, it is imperative we know what we love and care about most. Given the vast number of issues (climate change, militarism, corporate capitalism etc.) that need our immediate attention, coupled with the severity of crisis many of them encompass, it is easy to be overwhelmed.

“What would you live and die to protect?” Jensen suggests we ask ourselves. “Fight by any means, whether that be by a lawsuit or a gun? Is it your family, survivors of domestic violence, salmon, the Rio Grande River? What is it you love enough that you would fight to defend?”

Apathy and learned helplessness are now endemic in the US. The massive anti-war demonstrations on February 15, 2003, that preceded the Iraq war were ignored by the Bush administration. That administration went on to shred the US Constitution, openly advocate torture and enrich war-profiteering companies like Halliburton, Dyncorp and Bechtel in Iraq. People felt as though nothing could be done.

When tens of millions of US citizens voted in Barack Obama as president, they hoped real change for the better was upon them. Many of those people now feel betrayed by his broken promises. Guantanamo Bay, that he promised to close, remains open. The US occupation of Iraq, that he promised to end, continues with no real end in sight. Rather than acting as the peace president many hoped he would be, President Obama has tripled the number of soldiers in Afghanistan since he took office. It’s a long list. Millions of US citizens now feel they are at a loss.

“Do you believe that our culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?” asks Jensen.
“For the last several years I’ve taken to asking people this question, at talks and rallies, in libraries, on buses, in airplanes, at the grocery store, the hardware store. Everywhere. The answers range from emphatic ‘No’s’ to laughter. No one answers in the affirmative. One fellow at one talk did raise his hand and when everyone looked at him, he dropped his hand, then said, sheepishly, ‘Oh, voluntary? No, of course not.’

“My next question: how will this understanding – that this culture will not voluntarily stop destroying the natural world, eliminating indigenous cultures, exploiting the poor and killing those who resist – shift our strategy and tactics? The answer? Nobody knows, because we never talk about it: we’re too busy pretending the culture will undergo a magical transformation.”

Jensen asserts what millions around the world can corroborate – systematic abuse of the poor and helpless leaves lasting scars on entire generations. He compares this culture to an abusive family, where violence is a constant threat and the victims feel helpless and dependent on the abuser. He writes, “Civilization and the civilized continue to create a world of wounds.”

“From birth on – and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case – we are individually and collectively acculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes – and our bodies – to be poisoned.”

* * *

“I say, do something,” Jensen urges. “The big dividing line is not between those who advocate resistance through any means necessary and those who don’t. It’s not even between grassroots and mainstream. The big divide is between those who do something and those who don’t.”

Business-as-usual activism and politics will guarantee catastrophic climate change, more environmental disasters like what we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico and continued corporate depravity. Wherever people stand in the debate on the use of violence versus nonviolence, Jensen’s sense of urgency at this moment in history is unarguable.

So, where do you stand?

Behind the Israeli Wall: A Lesson in Reality

September 6th, 2010 by Ramzy Baroud

Writers often romanticize their subjects. At times they even manipulate their readers. A book – or any piece of writing for that matter – is meant to provide a sense of completion. Sociological explanations are offered to offset the confusion caused by apparent inconsistency in human behavior. At times a reader is asked to take a stance, or choose sides. 

This is especially true in writings which deal with compelling human experiences. In Behind the Wall: Life, Love and Struggle in Palestine (Potomac Books, 2010), Rich Wiles undoubtedly directs his readers, although implicitly, towards taking a stance. But he is unabashed about his moral priorities and makes no attempt to disguise his objectives.

As I began reading Wiles’ book, various aspects struck me as utterly refreshing in contrast to the way Palestine is generally written about. We tend to complicate what was meant to be straightforward and become too selective as we construct our narrative. And we tend to consider the possible political implications of our writings, and thus compose the conclusions with only this political awareness in mind.  

Much of this is understandable. The situation in Palestine is appalling, and also worsening. If our writing is not meant to influence positive change, then why bother? But a hyped awareness of the consequences and over-politicization of narratives and texts can prove limiting and intellectually confining. Worse, at times it provides a particular contextualization of the conflict – with all of its internal offshoots and external outcomes – that does much injustice to other important contexts. It neglects facts and paints an unrealistic picture of a subject already confused in the minds of many readers.

Thus when the conflict is deciphered by a writer, all players take positions. Israel is pitted against ‘the Arabs’. Palestinians are often sliced off into two competing parties, while Israel is largely shown as maintaining a sense of political and institutional integrity. Palestinians are radicals or moderates, Islamists or secularists. The ‘conflict’ is right in the center, and within it are the sub-topics: the peace process, the occupation, the settlements and numerous others. Without such lucid configuration there is no structure. Publishers get frustrated. The writer is urged to revisit and restructure his work.

But real life is not a well-organized academic argument. It can be, and often is chaotic, strange and puzzling, but it is real. Only by understanding reality the way it is – not the way we feel that it ought to be for any reason – can we meaningfully position ourselves to appreciate the subject at hand.

Can we understand the conflict in Palestine and Israel without subscribing to the same language, confronting the same political and historical milestones? Can Palestinians be understood outside the confines of political and ideological affiliations?

That is what Rich Wiles attempted to do in Behind the Wall, and in my opinion, very much succeeded.

Wiles relocated the conflict historically, geographically and sociologically to the side most affected by it: the Palestinians. The book is located in the West Bank, mostly Aida refugee camp, where Wiles spent years dedicating his time and efforts as an artist and a writer to help children share their stories and talents with the rest of the world. The writing is a non-elitist, part and parcel, which is a prerequisite to a factual understanding of the struggle in Palestine. Equally important, Wiles provides a depiction of the Palestinian not as the victim, despite the protracted process of victimization that Palestinians have endured for generations. Wiles’ subjects might have been imprisoned or deeply scarred by war, but they are confident and complex human beings.

A chapter entitled “A Child and a Balcony” starts with this line: “‘On Friday, December 8, 2006, I was shot.’ Miras is unemotional as he tells his story.” Miras should be emotional, but he is not, and Wiles doesn’t attempt to rectify the seemingly inconsistent behavior. It turns out that Miras, a child (now a promising young photographer, thanks to Wiles’ help) almost died when a bullet carved its way through his body and penetrated his abdominal from one end and emerged from the other. He was playing with his siblings and cousins at a balcony in the refugee camp, when an Israeli sniper hit him from the watchtower. The story is short, but rich in emotionally powerful detail: the father’s panic and near hallucination, the mother confusion, the sense of solidarity that unifies the refugees and strengthens their resolve even when their situation seems so helpless.

Wiles is not an anthropologist or a detached ethnographer, and he doesn’t pose as one. He is part of the story, at times an important character. In “Memories”, he accompanies a young Palestinian boy on the journey of his life, from the confines of the small refugee camp to Jerusalem. The boy is visiting his very ill grandfather at a hospital in the Arab side of the city. (No other member of the family was granted an Israeli permission to make the short journey, thus the need for Wiles’ intervention). Wiles provides an extremely honest and vivid account, bringing to life the bravery of the boy and the sense of freedom he experiences as he crosses the checkpoints into Jerusalem.

At the same time, Wiles does not attempt to assemble the perfect, heroic and infallible character of the Palestinian. He includes the story of a son of drug user who was mysteriously killed (perhaps by a Palestinian group that suspected him as a collaborator with Israel). The son became involved in the resistance to redeem the family’s honor. His impulsive resistance (an attempt to burn a hole in the Israeli wall that surrounded his refugee camp) earned him time in an Israeli prison. Yasser Jedar (known as Yasser ‘Wall’ owing to his obsession with trying to bring down the Israeli wall) was certainly not a poster child revolutionary. But he is refreshingly real, which is what should matter the most to an inquisitive reader.

Wiles’ work is an important contribution to what I insist on referring to as a ‘People’s History of Palestine’. In order for this genre to endure and flourish, it must remain honest, and duty-bound to the truth – to reality as it is, not how we wish it to be.

 

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

By turning off much of his party’s key liberal supporters, President Obama has jeopardized the re-election chances even of some Democratic incumbents whose seats had been considered safe. If the liberal base stays home in November, the Obama program’s lifespan will be short and sour. At the same time he is losing liberals, Mr. Obama’s support among idealistic college students is also eroding.

According to Rasmussen pollsters, Obama’s general approval rating plunged from 65 per cent upon taking office to 45 per cent today. Larry Sabato, director of the Center For Politics at the University of Virginia, says the Republicans are poised to have a net gain of 47 House seats and likely eight Senate seats. “If anything,” says Sabato, “we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains…”

What’s turning off liberals is that on issue after issue, Obama appears to be little more than a slicker copy of his stumbling predecessor. When the Republicans under George Bush elected to bail out Wall Street, Obama helped them finish the job even though congressional mail ran overwhelmingly against it.

Instead, he might have created a massive jobs program to restart the economy with paycheck power as FDR did with his New Deal. But Obama’s half-hearted make-work blueprint appears to be too little and too late. “For Vulnerable Democrats, Economy Fuels Election Fears,” The New York Times reported September 4th. “Seeking to keep the focus away from Mr. Obama and the national economy, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona emphasizes her work for rougher border controls and support for the stimulus money that saved the jobs of local teachers and public safety workers,” the paper said. Her campaign manager, Rodde McLeod, says, “We’re running our own race.” Translation: the man in the White House is now a liability, not an asset.

A related article in the same issue is titled, “In a Shift, Fewer Young Voters See Themselves as Democrats.” Reporter Kirk Johnson writes, “The college vote is up for grabs this year—to an extent that would have seemed unlikely two years ago, when a generation of young people seemed to swoon over Barack Obama.” He quotes Mandi Asay, 22, spokeswoman for the University of Colorado’s College Democrats, as saying: “People are angry—about the budget deficit, health care plan, angry about this and that. I feel like Republicans definitely, definitely have a chance of getting back on their feet.” The percentage of collegians who identify themselves as Democrats has dropped about five points to 57 percent in roughly two years, according to Pew Research Center.

On health care, perhaps the No. 1 concern of liberals after the wars of aggression in the Middle East, Obama surrendered on the public option issue when he might have campaigned for it dramatically in person on hospital doorsteps around the country. Instead, the public got the idea that he regarded it as, well, optional.

And liberals who saw the president as a champion for ecological sanity, are also disillusioned. Writing in the July issue of “Sojourners” magazine, which defines itself as “Faith in Action for Social Justice,” author Bill McKibben writes Obama’s honeymoon with progressive Americans “took what looks like a lethal blow” when oil began washing ashore in the marshes of Louisiana last Spring.

True, Bush had relaxed the relevant environmental regulations “But it was Obama himself who had stood up three weeks before the spill and announced that he was lifting a long-standing moratorium on offshore drilling…” McKibben points out. Obama promised “We’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence,” when, “In fact, the president has basically ignored scientific evidence when it’s come to energy policy,” McKibben wrote.

And Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Treasury Secretary under President Reagan, writes, “Obama… is committed to covering up the Bush regime’s crimes and to ensuring that his own regime can continue to operate in the same illegal and unconstitutional ways.” He points out, “To the consternation of his supporters, Obama is leaving 50,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The others are being sent to Afghanistan and to Pakistan, where on Obama’s watch war has broken out big time with already one million refugees from the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.” Says Roberts: “The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.” Obama has even multiplied the illegal CIA drone attacks in Pakistan that have claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians, possibly because he himself has been a long-time clandestine asset of that intelligence agency.

Where President Eisenhower once got a landslide voter response for his campaign slogan of “Peace and Prosperity,” it should surprise no one that President Obama’s failure to deliver either one of those ideals has turned off a nation—-starting with disillusioned liberals and college students whose energies played a major role in his election. As Tom Paine is said to have once remarked of a British politician, “As he rose like the rocket, he fell like the stick.”

Sherwood Ross is a former newspaper and wire service columnist who currently writes a regular column on political and military affairs. Reach him at [email protected]).

La concentración de los medios de comunicación dominantes en manos de algunos grupos privados es un verdadero peligro para la democracia. Y si bien algunos ciudadanos comienzan a comprenderlo, no es menos cierto que estos medios empiezan a ser muy influyentes en función de los intereses que persiguen. Intereses económicos la mayoría de las veces, pero también interés ideológico puesto que por medio de la perennidad de su ideología se podrán desarrollar tanto más fácilmente los intereses económicos que persiguen.

Así, en estos últimos meses, ¡qué no leemos, oímos o vemos en estos mismos medios a propósito de Oriente Medio! Entre las (supuestas) amenazas de un Irán nuclear y las amenazas (reales) de la importante deflagración que supondría atacar a este país; la retirada de Iraq del ejército estadounidense que “sólo” deja ahí 50.000 hombres a pesar del recrudecimiento de los atentados en un país en ruinas; Pakistán devastado por las inundaciones pero socorrido por medio del lanzamiento de paquetes humanitarios por parte de los mismos que los siguen bombardeando con [aviones teledirigidos] drones; el peligroso percance a causa de un árbol en la frontera libanesa o incluso la polémica suscitada por la reanudación de conversaciones directas entre un primer ministro sionista aliado a una extrema derecha profundamente racista y un presidente palestino que actúa sin mandato… ¿Cómo arreglárselas con todo?

Ante el tropel de informaciones aparentemente contradictorias, el objetivo de todas estas puestas en escena (porque es de eso de lo que se trata) es, sin embargo, el mismo: sentar y reforzar todavía más y siempre la ley del más fuerte, del pensamiento dominante y tratar de humillar , con el único fin de sacar el máximo de beneficio, la voz de los pueblos que aunque son mayoritarios están privados de medios equivalentes.

Así, cuando en el espacio de unos días se explota la imagen de la joven Aisha desfigurada, la de Sakineh en peligro de ser lapidada o más recientemente la de Ebrahim, un joven homosexual amenazado con ser colgado, para movilizar a la opinión pública en contra de regímenes políticos que utilizan estos métodos, ¿no habría que preguntarse por la ausencia de movilización de esta misma opinión pública ante las masacres cotidianas actuales a las que se entregan las “fuerzas coaliadas” en estos mismos países que ellas pretenden “liberar” y que sólo son objeto de una reseña en los medios? Más allá de los dramas que constituyen, esta focalización en estos casos particulares, escrupulosamente identificados, ¿acaso no es una manipulación para darnos buena conciencia e indicarnos así que, a pesar de nuestras intervenciones a golpe de armas de destrucción masiva contra unas poblaciones desprovistas de lo elemental (agua, electricidad, comida, alojamiento, medicamentos, atención médica), no habríamos perdido nuestro sentido altruista y que, a decir verdad, hace desaparecer así nuestra mentalidad siempre impregnada de un espíritu colonial? ¿Preocuparnos de pronto de estos casos en medio de los miles de casos anónimos que ignoramos la mayor parte de las veces acaso nos redimiría de nuestros fechorías y de nuestra habitual indiferencia? ¿Nos salvaría lo que nos queda de alma? ¡Qué buen negocio! Y sobre todo, qué hipocresía magistral: efectivamente, es más fácil blandir estos casos articulares e ignorar la ley de la gran cantidad que se sigue avasallando y masacrando con nuestras temibles tecnologías ….hasta el punto de que después sea imposible explotar en una de las revistas sensacionalista unos cuerpos destrozados, pulverizados, irreconocibles … Henos aquí que de este modo hemos logrado estigmatizar sin pestañear la “barbarie” de uno u otro caso… para ocultar mejor la nuestra que prosigue con sus lanzamientos de bombas de fragmentación, de fósforo, de uranio empobrecido, cuando no son las minas antipersona las que seguirán matando inocentes una vez que nuestros “chicos” hayan hecho las maletas y vuelto su país como héroes, orgullosos del “trabajo hecho”. ¡Sentir que uno pertenece a esta sociedad ya no tienen que ver con un mal sueño, sino con una auténtica pesadilla!

Otro acontecimiento que debería atraer nuestra atención en la manipulación de la información es el último ataque de la resistencia palestina contra cuatro colonos israelíes de la región de Hebrón, al sur de Cisjordania. Como siempre ocurre en un caso similar, la información que se nos ha revelado de forma continua subraya lo salvaje de la agresión frente a la pena inconsolable de la comunidad enlutada. En ninguna parte oirán ustedes que unas horas antes un grupo de colonos de esta misma región de Hebrón había ametrallado a una decena de palestinos que trabajaban en sus tierras. Después de todo, este suceso es corriente si no cotidiano. Y, ¿qué son estos palestinos, en otras palabras, estos árabes, en comparación con los piadosos israelíes establecidos ahí para expiar nuestros crímenes y “porque Dios les ha dado esta tierra”? Tampoco se señala en ninguna parte que Hebrón es la ciudad palestina donde hacen estragos los colonos probablemente más violentos que se pueda encontrar en Palestina, ¡unos verdaderos dementes, en realidad! Cualquier persona que haya estado en la región puede dar testimonio de ello. Como tampoco recuerdan en ninguna parte estos medios de comunicación tan conscientes que la ONU considera ilegales TODAS estas colonias. En cambio, no hay que esperar mucho para que estos medios insistan en el apoyo a esta acción por parte de las diversas acciones de la resistencia, (tratadas, no hay ni que decirlo, de “terroristas”) y, la mismo tiempo, su condena por parte de las autoridades oficiales… que se abstienen de censurar la presencia de estos colonos en este entorno.

Y, ¿qué pueden hacer los palestinos leyendo estas repetidas condenas?

- No pueden ni fomentar los atentados suicidas a causa del riesgo de matar civiles; sólo nosotros estamos autorizados a hacerlo con nuestras armas temibles… con el pretexto de aportar la “civilización” a países bárbaros;

- Tampoco pueden enviar a ciegas cohetes debido al mismo riesgo de matar civiles: sólo nosotros estamos capacitados para hacer este tipo de operación y con la ayuda de nuestros drones … nosotros sólo dejamos “daños colaterales”;

- No pueden oponerse al robo de tierras para que se siga construyendo el Muro, considerado ilegal por una gran mayoría de países, vía la Corte International de Justicia de La Haya en 2004… pero cuya orden de detención seguimos siendo incapaces de dar;

- Tienen prohibido armarse para defenderse de una ocupación que, sin embargo, la comunidad internacional reconoce que es ilegal a través de múltiples Resoluciones de la ONU…sin aplicar;

- Por no hablar de Gaza, este laboratorio en el que están enjaulados como ratas y donde el ocupante experimenta lo peor, obligándoles a excavar galerías para sobrevivir sin que ningún Estado occidental tenga el valor de condenar sin la menor ambigüedad a la entidad sionista por la ignominia de sus crímenes;

- Todo lo más, pueden desfilar pacíficamente, y aún así, evitando arrojar la menor piedra al ejército de ocupación… so pena de acabar en las cárceles israelíes para algunos años;

- Y se les pide además que garanticen la seguridad del ocupante y se acosa a todas aquellas personas que quieren resistirse a él, tarea a la que se dedican muy afanosamente los representantes de la Autoridad Palestina del no elegido presidente palestino Abbas… transformados así en colaboradores activos.

Mientras tanto, ¿a qué estamos asistiendo? A nada que no sea a cómo la entidad sionista prosigue cotidianamente la colonización de Palestina, a una enésima ronda de negociaciones de la que todo el mundo sabe que los dados están trucados de antemano. El asno palestino de Abbas empuja, pues, su viejo morro hacia el buey sionista del que él sabe que no debe esperar nada. ¿Por qué asno?, me dirán ustedes. Porque sólo a un asno se le hace avanzar con una zanahoria en una mano y el palo estadounidense en la otra. Entonces, ¿por qué el buey? Porque me parece que el primer ministro Netanyahu tiene una actitud grosera. Pero esta vez, estos dos no se inclinarán sobre un recién nacido. Sólo podrán constatar el aborto programado de un Estado comparsa que no se establecerá NUNCA sobre las pocas parcelas desperdigadas que le destina el obtuso ocupante desde la punta de sus napias. 

Texto original en francés :  http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20884

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

A top Belgian politician warned the country’s citizens on Sunday to “get ready for the break-up of Belgium,” as King Albert II seeks to relaunch knife-edge coalition talks.

Leading francophone Socialist Laurette Onkelinx, considered a potential successor to party chief Elio Di Rupo, who gave up on negotiations with separatist Flemish leaders on Friday, gave her prognosis in a newspaper interview.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because if we split, it will be the weakest who will pay the heaviest price,” she told La Derniere Heure. “On the other hand, we can no longer ignore that among a large part of the Flemish population, it’s their wish.

“So yes, we have to get ready for the break-up of Belgium. Otherwise we’re cooked.

“When I look at the letters I receive, loads of people think it’s possible. (Our) politicians have to be prepared,” underlined the current caretaker federal minister for health and social affairs.

Albert II tasked late on Saturday the respective speakers of Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders state parliaments to try once more to navigate seven-party talks aimed at securing some form of government, other than the existing day-to-day formation.

That came after seven weeks of efforts by Di Rupo, who says that the biggest Flemish party, the independence-minded New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), rejected the widest set of concessions towards full autonomy for Flanders in Belgium’s tortured recent history.

Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of the year, adding a further layer to the pressure on the sovereign, has not been able to point to a stable government since June 2007.

The stark comments from Onkelinx followed those of another leading francophone Socialist, Philippe Moureaux, who has said Belgium was on the verge of a “progressive organisation of separation.”

Formerly taboo among the poorer francophone parts of Belgium, the prospect of going it alone is no longer considered so — with a third senior official, the head of the Wallonia state government, Rudy Demotte, also telling RTBF radio that “all options” are now open.

Demotte added that Wallonia and the capital region of Brussels, the third federal state and increasingly the focus of arguments about financial settlements, had the wherewithal “to see what we can do ourselves without waiting for tomorrow.”

While located within Flanders’ borders, Brussels is officially bi-lingual, although recent studies have shown accelerating numbers of registered French speakers, including the nearly one-in-three who hail from abroad.

Tens of thousands of Flemish people, meanwhile, took part on Sunday in an annual demonstration which consists in symbolically “encircling” Brussels by bike or on foot, to remind locals that they are surrounded by Flanders.

CADTM

Red Europa

Los gobiernos utilizan frecuentemente la deuda pública como argumento para imponer planes de austeridad.

Pero la deuda pública no es sólo útil como pretexto para que la población tenga que pagar cada vez más. También constituye un verdadero expolio  para los pueblos.

La deuda pública es la consecuencia directa de las políticas presupuestarias y fiscales favorables a las clases sociales acomodadas y a las grandes empresas. Al reducir la implicación del Estado y las contribuciones pagadas por los más ricos, se disparan los déficit públicos, mientras que se cumple cada vez en menor medida con las necesidades sociales de la mayoría.

Los beneficiarios de esta generosidad fiscal y social consiguieron un ahorro que no necesitaban. Aprovecharon para aumentar su fortuna, que en parte invirtieron en apetitosas obligaciones del Estado.

Esto les ha permitido ganar en los dos frentes: tienen menos impuestos que pagar y una renta garantizada proveniente de la deuda pública. En otras palabras, los gobiernos, por medio de sucesivas leyes fiscales permitieron a las empresas nacionales y extranjeras reforzar su posición de acreedoras del Estado y de capacitarse para chantajear a los poderes públicos, mientras obtienen grandes ganancias.

La deuda pública también aumento muchísimo a raíz de los generosos planes de salvataje concedidos al sector financiero por los Estados después de la crisis que comenzó en 2007/2008. Los gobiernos optaron por reflotar los bancos, pero sin aprovechar para imponerles el abandono de las prácticas que condujeron a la crisis. Por lo tanto este salvataje se hizo sin verdaderas contrapartidas. Aunque, realmente, las sumas comprometidas en la operación fueron asombrosas: al menos 700.000 millones de dólares en Estados Unidos, 500.000 millones de libras en el Reino Unido y 1,7 billones de euros en la zona euro. De esta manera los gobiernos gastaron el dinero público para socorrer a los operadores financieros culpables de graves errores antes de esta crisis y que continúan especulando contra las deudas de los Estados.

En consecuencia, la deuda pública de la Unión Europea pasó de 7,3 a 8,7 billones de euros entre 2007 y 2009. Este rápido aumento de la deuda conlleva reembolsos de capital e interés en fuerte subida. Los Estados toman esta situación como pretexto para imponer planes de austeridad draconianos que provocan un verdadero desmantelamiento de la protección social y de los servicios públicos.

La población  pierde dos veces: sufre las consecuencias sociales de la crisis (desempleo, precariedad, congelación de salarios, retraso de la edad de jubilación, etc.) y también sufre la sangría del Estado a través de los planes de rescate de los bancos y de los planes de austeridad.

Los culpables de la crisis salen casi indemnes y pueden continuar su carrera hacia los beneficios ya que se les ha dejado las manos libres. Las víctimas de la crisis deben pagar y ver cómo se degradan sus condiciones de vida. ¡Se debe terminar con este secuestro real de las finanzas públicas!

Hay que rechazar los planes de austeridad y atacar la raíz del problema

El CADTM plantea 8 propuestas alternativas para constituir una plataforma común de reivindicaciones de los movimientos sociales y políticos

 

1. Expropiar los bancos para transferirlos al sector público bajo control ciudadano

No existe una regulación duradera posible con instituciones financieras privadas. Los Estados deben retomar su capacidad de control y de orientación de la actividad económica y financiera.

2. Decretar una moratoria unilateral (sin acumulación de intereses por morosidad) sobre el pago de la deuda mientras se realiza una auditoría (con participación ciudadana) de los créditos públicos —el deudor es el Estado—. De acuerdo a los resultados de esta auditoría, se deberá anular la deuda identificada como ilegítima.

Con su experiencia sobre el problema de la deuda en los países del Sur, el CADTM advierte contra una reivindicación insuficiente, como una simple suspensión del reembolso de la deuda. Se necesita una moratoria, sin los intereses de morosidad, de las sumas no reembolsadas.

La moratoria se aprovecha para proceder a un examen de los préstamos con el fin de identificar las deudas ilegítimas. La participación ciudadana es la condición imperativa para garantizar la objetividad y la transparencia de la auditoría. Permitirá determinar las diferentes responsabilidades en los procesos de endeudamiento y de exigir que los responsables rindan cuentas a la colectividad. Las deudas identificadas como odiosas o ilegítimas deben ser anuladas.

3. Instaurar una verdadera justicia fiscal europea y una justa redistribución de la riqueza. Prohibir los paraísos fiscales. Gravar fuertemente las transacciones financieras.

Es imprescindible hacer una reforma en profundidad de la fiscalidad que lleve a una armonización europea que permita impedir el dumping fiscal. El objetivo es un aumento de los ingresos públicos, especialmente mediante el IRPF y el impuesto sobre sociedades, y una reducción del precio de acceso a los bienes y servicios de primera necesidad (alimentos básicos, agua, electricidad, calefacción, transportes públicos, etc.), esencialmente, a través de una fuerte y discriminada rebaja del IVA de esos bienes y servicios vitales.

Desde 1980, continúan bajando los impuestos directos que pagan las rentas más altas y las grandes empresas. En la Unión Europea, entre 2000 y 2008, los tipos superiores del impuesto sobre la renta y del impuesto de sociedades bajaron 7 y 8,5 puntos respectivamente. Estos miles de millones de euros de regalo fiscal se orientaron, principalmente, a la especulación y a la acumulación de riqueza por parte de los más ricos.

Es necesario prohibir cualquier transacción que pase por los paraísos fiscales. En todas las reuniones del G20 se rechazó, a pesar de las declaraciones de intención, atacar realmente a los paraísos judiciales y fiscales. Hay que prohibir esos agujeros negros de las finanzas de la corrupción, de la delincuencia de alto nivel y de los tráficos ilegales. Se debe agregar al carácter progresivo de la tasa, un impuesto disuasivo para las transacciones especulativas y sobre los ingresos de los acreedores de la deuda.

4. Luchar contra el fraude fiscal masivo de las grandes empresas y de los más ricos

El fraude fiscal priva de medios considerables a la colectividad y actúa en contra del empleo. Se debe proveer de medios públicos eficientes a los servicios de finanzas para luchar seriamente contra este fraude. Los resultados deben ser publicados y los culpables fuertemente sancionados.

5. Disciplinar los mercados financieros, principalmente mediante la creación de un registro de propietarios de títulos y por la prohibición de las ventas al descubierto.

La especulación a escala mundial representa varias veces la riqueza producida en el planeta. Los montajes sofisticados de la mecánica financiera la vuelve completamente incontrolable. Los engranajes que promueve desestructuran la economía real. La opacidad en las transacciones financieras es la regla. Para gravar las acreencias en su fuente, es necesario identificarlas. La dictadura de los mercados debe terminar.

6. Reducir radicalmente el tiempo de trabajo para crear empleos, pero aumentando los salarios y las pensiones.

Repartir de otra manera las riquezas es la mejor respuesta a la crisis. La parte de la riqueza producida destinada a los asalariados se redujo netamente, mientras que los acreedores y las empresas aumentaron sus beneficios para luego dedicarlos a la especulación. Al aumentar los salarios, no sólo se favorece el poder de compra de la población sino que se refuerzan los medios de la protección social y de los regímenes de pensiones.

Disminuyendo el tiempo de trabajo sin reducción del salario y creando empleos, se mejora la calidad de vida de la población.

7. Socializar las numerosas empresas y servicios privatizados en el curso de los últimos treinta años.

Una característica de estos últimos treinta años fue la privatización de gran número de empresas y servicios públicos. Desde bancos hasta el sector industrial, pasando por correos, telecomunicaciones, energía y transportes, los gobiernos dejaron al sector privado partes de la economía y por ese proceso perdieron cualquier capacidad de regulación de la economía. Esos bienes públicos, producidos por el trabajo colectivo deben retornar al dominio público.

8. Por una asamblea constituyente de los pueblos para otra unión europea.

La Unión Europea surgida de los tratados constitucionales impuestos a las poblaciones es una verdadera máquina de guerra al servicio del capital y de las finanzas. Debe ser totalmente refundada por un proceso constituyente en el que la palabra de las poblaciones sea finalmente tomada en consideración. Esta otra Europa democratizada debe trabajar por la armonización por lo alto de la justicia fiscal y social, de manera de permitir un aumento del nivel y de la calidad de vida de sus habitantes, la retirada de las tropas de Afganistán y la salida de la OTAN, la reducción radical de sus gastos militares, la prohibición de las armas nucleares y el compromiso firme en el desarme. Debe poner fin también a su política de fortaleza asediada por los candidatos a la inmigración, convertirse en un socio equitativo y realmente solidario con los pueblos del Sur del planeta.

¡Rompamos con la dominación del gran capital!

Actualmente, las instituciones financieras, en el origen de la crisis, se enriquecen y especulan con las deudas de los Estados, con la complicidad activa de la Comisión Europea, del Banco Central Europeo y del FMI para satisfacer los intereses de los grandes accionistas y de los acreedores. Este enriquecimiento privado, permitido por los regalos fiscales y sociales de los gobiernos y acelerado por los planes de austeridad, debe terminar.

La reducción de los déficit públicos se debe hacer mediante el aumento de los ingresos fiscales, gravando en mayor medida tanto al capital (empresas y capital financiero) como a la renta, al patrimonio de las familias ricas y a las transacciones financieras y no por la reducción de los gastos sociales públicos. Para conseguir esto, hay que romper con la lógica capitalista e imponer un cambio radical de la sociedad. Contrariamente al capitalismo que sufrimos en la actualidad, la nueva lógica que hemos de construir deberá integrar el aspecto ecológico y romper con el productivismo.

Nuestras reivindicaciones son respuestas concretas a la crisis en el interés de los pueblos. Anular la deuda ilegítima es un acto de soberanía de los Estados y de los pueblos. Para nosotros la salida de la crisis debe hacerse teniendo en cuenta el interés de las poblaciones.

Proponemos reunir las energías, en un frente anticrisis a escala europea pero también a escala local, para crear una relación de fuerza favorable para poder poner en práctica soluciones radicales centradas en la justicia social.

¡Juntos, para imponer otra lógica!

¡Anular la deuda ilegítima es posible y es el interés de los pueblos!

Hubo en la historia numerosas anulaciones de deudas en los países del Sur y en los del Norte, a veces unilaterales, otras validadas por la justicia, a veces concedidas bajo la presión de las potencias dominantes.

  El derecho internacional es rico en doctrinas y en jurisprudencias que pueden permitir, y por otro lado ya han permitido, los fundamentos de anulaciones o repudios de deuda.

  Un ejemplo emblemático: el CADTM participó activamente en la auditoría de la deuda del Ecuador en 2007/2008. Esta auditoría permitió al gobierno anular deudas ilegítimas y economizar 300 millones de dólares por año durante 20 años. Este dinero está ahora dedicado al mejoramiento de la sanidad pública, de la educación y a la creación de empleo.

  Estas medidas, por insuficientes que sean, marcan avances nada despreciables, que pueden ser utilizados por los movimientos sociales del Sur y del Norte para exigir la anulación total e incondicional de la deuda ilegítima.

  Esta anulación es actualmente una necesidad y una urgencia puesto que el dinero sustraído a los fines sociales y dedicado a los pagos perjudica al ejercicio de los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales de las poblaciones.

Impugnar la deuda pública y exigir una auditoría ciudadana es hoy indisociable de la lucha contra los planes de austeridad

Traducido por Griselda Pinero y Raul Quiroz.

Dick Cheney’s Oily Dream

September 6th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is currently saying that Dick Cheney’s vision of policy towards the Middle East after 9/11 was to re-draw the map:

Vice-President Dick Cheney’s vision of completely redrawing the map of the Middle East following the 9/11 attacks is “not stupid,” and is “possible over time,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says.

In his new book, A Journey, the former Labour Party leader wrote that Cheney wanted a wholesale reorganization of the political map of the Middle East after 9/11. The vice president “would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it — Hezbollah, Hamas, etc,” Blair wrote.

What does this mean?

Well, as I have repeatedly pointed out, the “war on terror” in the Middle East has nothing to do with combating terror, and everything to do with remaking that region’s geopolitical situation to America’s advantage.

For example, as I noted in January::

Starting right after 9/11 — at the latest — the goal has always been to create “regime change” and instability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon; the goal was never really to destroy Al Qaeda. As American reporter Gareth Porter writes in Asia Times:

Three weeks after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then-under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith’s recently published account of the Iraq war decisions. Feith’s account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country’s top military leaders.

Feith’s book, War and Decision, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W Bush on September 30, 2001, calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing “new regimes” in a series of states…

***

General Wesley Clark, who commanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in the Kosovo war, recalls in his 2003 book Winning Modern Wars being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia [and Lebanon].

***

When this writer asked Feith . . . which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, “All of them.”

***

The Defense Department guidance document made it clear that US military aims in regard to those states would go well beyond any ties to terrorism. The document said the Defense Department would also seek to isolate and weaken those states and to “disrupt, damage or destroy” their military capacities – not necessarily limited to weapons of mass destruction (WMD)…

Rumsfeld’s paper was given to the White House only two weeks after Bush had approved a US military operation in Afghanistan directed against bin Laden and the Taliban regime. Despite that decision, Rumsfeld’s proposal called explicitly for postponing indefinitely US airstrikes and the use of ground forces in support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in order to try to catch bin Laden.

Instead, the Rumsfeld paper argued that the US should target states that had supported anti-Israel forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

***

After the bombing of two US embassies in East Africa [in 1998] by al-Qaeda operatives, State Department counter-terrorism official Michael Sheehan proposed supporting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against bin Laden’s sponsor, the Taliban regime. However, senior US military leaders “refused to consider it”, according to a 2004 account by Richard H Shultz, Junior, a military specialist at Tufts University.

A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.

No wonder former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told the Senate that the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”.

But can Cheney’s desires can’t be equated to U.S. foreign policy as a whole? Well, the number two man at the State Department, Lawrence Wilkerson, said:

The vice president and the secretary of defense created a “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal” that hijacked U.S. foreign policy.

And Cheney was the guy who set up the secret shop at the Pentagon to bypass the intelligence agencies and push fake “intelligence” showing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

And as I wrote in 2009:

5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”.

He also said “Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement “Hard to get a good case.” In other words, top officials knew that there wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.

Moreover, “Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda”.

And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.

And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed repeatedly for years that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this analysis. Indeed, Bush administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was behind 9/11.

Moreover, President Bush’s March 18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq, includes the following paragraph:

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Therefore, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war to Congress by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks. See this.

Indeed, the torture program which Cheney created was specifically aimed at producing false confessions in an attempt to link Iraq and 9/11.

So it should be clear to any honest, thinking person that Cheney and the U.S. used 9/11 as a pretext to redraw the map of the Middle East.

Cheney’s Oily Dream

But that doesn’t mean the Cheney’s goals had any impact on 9/11, right?

Well, it is surely just a coincidence that the Afghanistan war was planned before 9/11. See this and this.

And that top British officials, former CIA director George Tenet, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and many others say that the Iraq war was planned before 9/11.

Alan Greenspan, John McCain, George W. Bush, a high-level National Security Council officer and others say that the Iraq war was really about oil. They must be conspiracy theorists.

And it is surely meaningless that Cheney made Iraqi’s oil fields a national security priority before 9/11. As I pointed out in 2008:

You may have heard that the Energy Task Force chaired by Dick Cheney prior to 9/11 collected maps of Iraqi oil, Saudi and United Arab Emerates fields and potential suitors for that oil. And you might have heard that the oil bigs attended the Task Force meetings.

But you probably haven’t heard that – according to the New Yorker – a secret document written by the National Security Council (NSC) on February 3, 2001 directed NSC staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the “melding” of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy:

“The review of operational policies towards rogue states,” such as Iraq, and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields”.

It is difficult to brush off Cheney’s Energy Task Force’s examination of arab oil maps as a harmless comparison of American energy policy with known oil reserves because the NSC explicitly linked the Task Force, oil, and regime change.

But don’t believe me…

The above-linked New Yorker article quotes a former senior director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs at the NSC said:

If this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans.

See also this essay.

As I wrote last year:

CIA director Leon Panetta told the New Yorker:

When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.

News commentator Ed Schultz said today that Cheney is wishing for a terrorist attack on the U.S.

What should we make of all this?

Well, everyone knows that Cheney is ruthless:

Cheney is also the guy who:

***

A well-known writer said of Dick Cheney:

For his entire career, he sought untrammeled power. The Bush presidency and 9/11 finally gave it to him . . . .

***

Cheney also knew 9/11 was going to happen. The government knew that terrorists could use planes as weapons — and had even run its own drills of planes being used as weapons against the World Trade Center and other U.S. high-profile buildings, using REAL airplanes — all before 9/11. Indeed, the government heard the 9/11 plans from the hijackers’ own mouths before 9/11.

Indeed, Cheney was in charge of all counter-terrorism exercises, activities and responses on 9/11 (see this Department of State announcement; this CNN article; and this essay).

***

The Secretary of Transportation testified to the 9/11 Commission:

“During the time that the airplane was coming into the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President … the plane is 50 miles out…the plane is 30 miles out….and when it got down to the plane is 10 miles out, the young man also said to the vice president “do the orders still stand?” And the Vice President turned and whipped his neck around and said “Of course the orders still stand, have you heard anything to the contrary!?”

(this testimony is confirmed here and here).

Could it be that Cheney got so lost in his dreams of redrawing the map of the Middle East (and grabbing some oil along the way) that he – as the guy in charge of all counter-terrorism efforts for the United States on 9/11 – spaced out and forgot to engage America’s standard air defenses?

I don’t know … But – unfortunately – Cheney’s oily dream has turned into a nightmare for America. See this, this and this.

Zivka Mijic, 46, talks about her family’s narrow escape from Croatia in the Balkan War. She and her family now live in Stickney. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune / September 5, 2010)

Share Topics Trials War Crimes Religious Conflicts See more topics » By Ron Grossman, Tribune reporter http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-balkan-war-lawsuit-20100905,0,4744078,full.story September 5, 2010 E-mailPrintShare Text Size

Zivka Mijic doesn’t burden people with her troubles — which would be impractical anyway, unless the other person spoke Serbian — but she does want the tragic story of what brought her family to a Chicago suburb told in federal court.

“If I had even a spoon from over there, I’d hang it on the wall to remember,” Mijic, 46, said. Her son Branislav Mijic, 23, was translating. Alternating between his mother’s words and his own, Branislav explained why the Mijics have no souvenirs of their homeland.

On Aug. 4, 1995, artillery shells started falling on a village in Krajina, where the Mijics lived in what had been Yugoslavia before ethnic conflicts tore it apart. The Mijics harnessed theirhorses Soko and Cestar to a wagon and joined the crowd of fleeing villagers. It was 2 in the morning, the artillery fire lighting up a neighbor who had been traveling with them. He was decapitated by an incoming shell.

“If you weren’t there, you can’t feel what it was like,” said Zivika, who lives with her husband, Nedeljko, 46, three sons and a sister in a modest home in Stickney, no different from neighboring ones except for the bitter memories it houses. In a way, the Mijics’ saga is a common denominator of the immigrant experience: Driven abroad by war, poverty or oppression, families rebuild their lives in America.

But there is an unexpected, albeit difficult to prove, twist to the Mijics’ story: The class-action lawsuit recently filed in Chicago, to which Zivka is a party, alleges that American mercenaries were behind their suffering.

As her lawyers see it, during the Balkan War of the 1990s, America began to “outsource” some of the dirty work of war and diplomacy to private contractors. They allege that behind the early morning attack that the Croats dubbed “Operation Storm” was a northern Virginia-based consulting company called MPRI Inc., made up of former high-ranking U.S. military officers that included a chief architect of Operation Desert Storm a few years earlier in Iraq.

What the Mijics and other Serbs in Croatia went through, their lawyers allege, was a proving grounds for the kind of brutal strategy orchestrated later in Iraq by the now infamous Blackwater Worldwide company, another private military contractor whose security guards were charged by the Justice Department in 2008 with killing at least 17 Iraqi civilians during a firefight the year before.

“MPRI is the granddaddy of Blackwater,” said Robert Pavich, one of the lawyers representing Mijic and other Serbs.

MPRI was acquired in 2002 by another defense contractor, L-3 Communications. Officials from L-3 say the lawsuit is baseless.

“The suit is without merit, and L-3 intends to vigorously defend itself against these charges. Beyond that, the company has no additional comment at this time,” said L-3 spokeswoman Jennifer Barton in an e-mailed statement.

Since the events, the company has consistently denied involvement in the Krajina offensive. But it has benefited from speculation that it took part in it, said a former senior U.S. diplomat deeply knowledgeable in the Balkan Wars.

“The perception that they did run it helped turn them from a small company to a major contractor,” the diplomat said. “Afterwards, everyone wanted them to do what they thought MPRI had done in Croatia.”

The Mijics see the lawsuit as a chance to regain a little of what they had lost.

“Everything we had was taken from us,” said Branislav.

The Mijics lived comfortably as farmers in Yugoslavia, a nation cobbled together out of incompatible parts after World War I. Serbs and Croats, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims were thrown together, despite centuries of mutual antagonisms. When the country began to disintegrate during the early 1990s, it wasn’t possible to separate the pieces neatly, and warring communities mutually committed atrocities.

The Mijic family lived in Krajina, a Serbian enclave inside what became Croatia, which the Croatians were determined to eliminate in 1995.

“Upwards of 180,000 Serbs would flee the province under duress, the worst single incident of ethnic cleansing in the entire sequence of Yugoslav wars,” R. Craig Nation, a historian at the U.S. Army War College, wrote about Operation Storm in his study “War in the Balkans, 1992-2002.”

The Mijics experienced the Croatian offensive as 13 days of terror on roads clogged with refugees fleeing to Serbia, with little food to eat and only rainwater to drink.

“Sometimes you could only go 20 feet,” explained Branislav, who was 8 then but has vivid memories of the bloody journey. “When bombs fell on the column, dead horses and people and wrecked cars blocked the way.”

The Croatian army, described in the lawsuit as “a rag-tag rifle-carrying infantry” was ill-equipped for the bombing task, said Anthony D’Amato, another attorney on the case.

The army previously had performed poorly during the wars that followed the collapse of the Yugoslav state, he said. The maneuver in Krajina required pinpoint targeting to avoid hitting Croatian villages and U.N. peacekeeper bases. Striking crowds of civilians on a road is no mean military feat. Where did the Croatians come by their newfound skill?

“They hired MPRI,” said D’Amato, a Northwestern University law professor who has participated in a number of war-crimes lawsuits.

Such historical disputes often remain unresolved for decades, the relevant documents kept under seal in government archives. But as a private corporation, MPRI’s files are subject to subpoena, and it did have a contract with the Croatian military in 1995.

Peter Galbraith, U.S. ambassador to Croatia at the time, acknowledged the contract’s existence as a witness in the recent trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague War Crimes Tribunal. Croatian leaders are currently on trial there, and testimony and previously unavailable documents produced at those trials makes the suit against MPRI possible.

For example, Slobodan Prajak, a Croatian military official currently on trial in the Hague, explained who was in charge of the operation by testifying: “…that’s why we have the organization MPRI in Croatian army, with the top American generals whom we paid and who helped us to prepare Storm and Flash.”

The notion that a U.S.-backed company would secretly orchestrate a successful Croat offensive in what at the time had been a Serbian-dominated conflict isn’t far-fetched, given the military and diplomatic situation, D’Amato argued.

Richard Holbrooke, a U.S. assistant secretary of state, was looking for a formula to end the fighting.

“As diplomats we could not expect the Serbs to be conciliatory at the negotiating table as long as they had experienced nothing but success on the battlefield,” Holbrooke wrote in a memoir, “To End a War.”

Whether MPRI was also hired to direct the Croatian offensive could be answered in a courtroom at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.

The Mijics and their attorneys are so far taking heart in the fact that a federal judge in a similar lawsuit filed against MPRI in Maryland — alleging that its personnel tortured detainees in Iraq while serving another U.S. contract during the mid-2000s — recently allowed that case to go forward. MPRI is appealing that ruling.

For the Mijics, the wait occurs amid the trappings of a new life, where a gigantic television set in their living room symbolizes their having made it to the American middle class.

But it was a difficult and long passage. They made it through the shelling to the relative safety of Serbia, only to be resettled later in Kosovo. There, they were caught up in the fighting between ethnic Albanians and government forces.

In 2000, the family arrived in the Chicago area, where Nedejko Mijic eventually opened a landscaping business.

In her simply furnished home, Zivka sometimes dreams of the happy times before Operation Storm. On other nights, her mind revisits the incoming shells and their perilous flight.

“You wake up too soon from the good dreams,” she said.

This Labour Day, like the last two, is dominated by the ongoing global economic crisis. Since 2008 Canada’s workers, working families, and the communities in which we make our lives, have endured a period of deep economic insecurity the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. The crisis began in the financial sector, amongst bankers, brokers, lawyers, and financial engineers of all sorts when the credit bubbles supporting the casino economy of derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps and other financial instruments began to deflate. What was revealed was not just the speculation and fraud these instruments enabled, but also the overaccumulation in key sectors such as housing, automobiles, electronics and others. It also has shown some of the limits of more than thirty years of the neoliberal politics of leaving key political and economic decisions to the markets and corporations to do what is best for business.

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What began as a crisis in the bowels of the world of finance has been shifted into the public sector and now though the various ‘exits of austerity’ governments have been imposing onto the shoulders of workers, and particularly poor workers, who had nothing to do with that crisis. Canada is not alone in this. From California to Latvia workers are seeing their incomes and pensions cut not for a year but permanently. Young workers, migrant workers, female workers are all being told, yet again, that they will have to work for much less and in much greater fear of job loss as a matter of the realities of modern working life. Equal access to health care, rewarding education, decent pensions, adequate housing – keys to the quality of individual livelihoods – are evaporating. Good, stable jobs are being replaced by short-term contracts and the further growth of precarious work.

Turning Back the Clock

For the leaders of the major corporations, the crisis also represents a potential ‘golden’ opportunity. The opportunity lies with the huge potential profits to be made from the de-unionization of the workforce, the privatization of public services, the decline in corporate and progressive income taxes, and the short-circuiting of collective bargaining. There’s money to be made from private health care, education, electricity production, cheap but quality labour and more. Politically, it’s a great opportunity to turn the clock back to a time when they were not taxed on those profits, when there were few taxes on the wealthy to help pay for public health care, when only those who preached free enterprise could afford to buy the requisite education to be eligible to enter quality jobs and careers, when workers would accept what they were given and ask for nothing more.

With this year’s spring budgets, the governments of Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty made it clear that workers should prepare for a future of austerity. The International Monetary Fund and other neoliberal institutions have been suggesting that two decades of austerity is not out of line. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has suggested, unsurprisingly, not much different. And provincial and territorial treasuries across Canada are moving in the same direction, with city, regional and Aboriginal governments all following in step.

Austerity and Public Sector Wage Freezes in Ontario

In Ontario, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has essentially proposed seven years of cuts to those very public services that have enabled a decent life for many – a society of partial inclusion, as some have called it. The Ontario Budget makes no attempt to hide that by 2017 what is spent on public services will be no more than what was spent during Mike Harris’ Common Sense Revolution. What will be different is that Ontario will be home to nearly a million more people, meaning those expenditures are being spread ever more thinly across Ontario.

What is at stake today is not just a two year wage freeze for public sector workers, but rather a transformation in how Ontario workers and working class families will live and what we can expect for ourselves and future generations. It is not about recovery. It is not about waiting a couple of years before we go back to what was.

This moment is about the winding down and permanent disabling of the legal rights and public services, put in place in the 1940s, and the union and working peoples’ struggles that help bring a measure of social justice and equality to Ontario.

Free and democratic collective bargaining gave Ontario’s workers the foundation necessary to advance not just economic security but also dignity as democratic citizens engaged in political struggle as well. That right is being challenged through the McGuinty government’s veiled threats that unions agree to cuts in wages, pensions and working conditions or else face stiffer restraints. The ‘or else’ means there may well be legislative intervention to impose austerity on public sector workers as we have seen so often from wage controls in the 1970s through to the Social Contract in 1993. It already means there will be direct cuts to budgets and public sector managers are being left to cope with layoffs, contracting-out and service cuts as best as they can.

Who Pays?

This is the path chosen by the McGuinty (and Harper) government(s). And it resembles the path chosen by other governments across Canada, the United States, Greece, Britain, Spain, and more. The difference is in the details. What is astonishing is the rather deafening silence from the governments of other options – the McGuinty Liberals (and Harper Conservatives) are too busy restoring the banking sector and protecting the ruling classes from new tax burdens. There has been an explicit rejection that corporate income tax cuts and personal income tax cuts, introduced by Mike Harris and sustained and deepened by McGuinty’s government, be reversed. In real terms, this means, if allowed to proceed unchallenged, that increasingly profitable corporations and their well compensated executives and managers, are ‘off the hook.’ It is workers – both public and private – who are to pay for the crisis and to do so for a very long time.

The story that is being spun by Canadian governments and business elites is that this is a crisis of spendthrift governments and privileged workers and not of the bankers, the financial system and the recklessness of neoliberal policies. These arguments must be confronted.

This moment in history and working class struggle may well be a watershed. As the capitalist classes attempt to dump the costs of the greatest financial disaster in history into the public sector and have workers pay for it, there will be no going back to a more comfortable period of collective bargaining and welfare state advance.

Radical Response

For workers across Canada, and indeed everywhere, a radical response will be needed to the challenge that the turn to austerity raises. By ‘radical’ we mean a response that challenges and confronts the very foundations of ruling class power that privileges corporate freedom to exploit the planet and its people unto death over the freedom of working class people to have full, meaningful and dignified lives. This is a profoundly democratic proposition. Struggles about occupational health and safety, for example, are ultimately about who controls the workplace. Struggles over austerity and who pays for the economic crisis are struggles over who controls the state and who controls production. A radical response is about raising fundamental questions about who controls our lives.

Concretely this radical response of working people is a challenge to a system that enables and rewards and encourages systemic fraud, over-consumption of resources, the degradation of the environment, the erosion of public spaces and the increasing exploitation of workplaces.

A radical response must present a different vision – a vision shaped by meeting human needs. Some of these needs are social and health services, affordable housing, daycare, recreation, culture, education, and public transit – the elements necessary to a full and dignified life with provision for all. Change of this type does not come from above. And all of us as workers – alongside the other struggles we engage with against racism, colonialism, sexism and much else – can bring this world into being.

It is necessary, however, to take a sober look at our own limitations and constraints. Our unions and much of the leadership have lost faith in the capacity of workers to imagine and struggle for a different world. In doing so, they have too often been helping manage the decline of working class living standards and freedoms, rather than leading in re-creating our union movement and helping forge a new socialist politics.

In countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Britain, social democratic parties – all still holding the support of union leaderships – have been leading the charge for austerity, defending capitalism and insisting workers bear the cost of ‘adjustment’ to the new economic times. Where the New Democratic Party holds provincial power in Canada, there is no evidence of an alternative to austerity being mapped out. Social democracy has all but completely abandoned redistributional politics for social liberalism. These parties and the labourist ideological hold they maintain over union leaderships are clearly major obstacles to an anti-neoliberal political alternative emerging.

In the Ontario context, the Liberals represent a variation on this theme. McGuinty wants to avoid a confrontation with workers and we all fear a sharp turn to the right that will bring the Conservatives to power. Since the premiership of Bob Rae, the NDP has been a marginal force. The McGuinty Liberals understand the political calculation being made here. Trade union leaders are being told there is no alternative except the one they fear more – the return to power of the Conservatives under the leadership of Tim Hudak (who has been leading a campaign this summer across Ontario resembling nothing so much as the ‘Tea Party’ protests of the hard right in the USA).

Since 2003, the Ontario Liberals have built something of the old ‘Lib-Lab’ alliance with several key unions thereby filling the electoral vacuum left by the New Democrats. But if the Liberals have avoided a hard turn to austerity over concerns about the depth of the recession (much like the Obama Administration nationally in the U.S.), they are still moving to have the cost of the crisis paid for by cuts in welfare spending to the poor, wage restraint by public sector workers and cuts in government services, while easing the tax burden on corporations and the wealthiest sectors of society.

The Ontario government has been holding preliminary talks on restraint with a wide number of unions with public employees. To date, most unions have walked away from the talks, and voiced opposition to the wage restraint. But it is not so clear that the unions will mobilize opposition to the wage restraint or the cuts to government services, and build toward the strikes that will be necessary to break the budgetary proposals to have workers and the poor pay for the crisis. It would be foolish to rule out a deal emerging between a number of unions and the McGuinty government, a deal which would consolidate the new ‘Lib-Lab’ alliance and forge a business unionist orientation that will not easily be broken.

Accommodate Decline or Political Struggle?

For unions in Canada and Ontario, this is a defining moment. They can either bargain a deal to accommodate decline or begin to develop an opposition to how austerity is being imposed by ‘class struggle from above’ on workers across the central states of capitalism and now in Ontario and Canada. Unions have a strategic role to play in building workers’ capacities to organize resistance. But to fully exploit that potential will require a massive change in the ideological and organizing practices that have consolidated in Canadian unions over the last decade.

The McGuinty government will not and cannot do anything but manage the decline of working class living standards. He will defend business interests against any redistributional politics. The Liberals differ from the Harper (and Hudak) Conservatives only in that they seek to manage the decline incrementally. For workers, there is no alternative but militant resistance to growing tax cuts on profitable corporations, the impoverishment of public sector work through privatization, and interventions in free collective bargaining.

On Labour Day we celebrate the historical struggles of Canada’s unions and working people to build a socially just political order. We also reflect on the struggles we as workers are now confronting in Canada, and the limits of our current organizational capacities. This Labour Day it is the economic crisis and the battle over public sector austerity that is on every worker’s mind. We have already been facing enormous demands for concessions on wages, workplace controls and pensions in both the private and public sectors. We know more concession demands are coming.

This could well be as important a period of political struggle as any that the Canadian labour movement has faced. It will require breaking through the political and organizing impasse that has plagued the movement for a decade, and retrieval of some of the boldness that characterized the union movement’s opposition to neoliberalism in the past. It will also require socialists in Canada to shake off their own political complacency and backwardness and begin to build the new political organizations and capacities necessary to redefine contemporary socialism. Canada (with the partial exception of Quebec) is now more barren of innovative socialist politics than even the United States. Without a sense of urgency to move on both these fronts of struggle, the coming period could indeed get very ugly. The developing authoritarian face of neoliberalism was only too vividly shown on the streets of Toronto this past June. That, too, should be on the minds of union activists and workers this Labour Day. •

Greg Albo teaches political economy at York University and Bryan Evans teaches political science at Ryerson University.

DOHA: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ruled out an attack on the Islamic republic over its nuclear programme, during a visit to Qatar on Sunday, because any such action would result in Israel’s destruction.

“Any act against Iran will lead to the eradication of the Zionist entity,” he told a joint news conference in Doha with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, after their talks.

Israel, the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, has not ruled out a military strike to prevent Iran acquiring an atomic weapons capability, an ambition its arch-foe Tehran strongly denies.

“The Zionist entity and the US government would hit any country in the region whenever they are able to do so, and they will not wait to get permission. But (at the moment) they cannot,” he said.

“Iran has the ability to retaliate, strong and hard,” warned Ahmadinejad, whose comments in Farsi were translated into Arabic.

Iran’s hardline president said the talk of war against Iran to halt its controversial nuclear programme was aimed at putting psychological pressure on Tehran.

“There will be no war against Iran. What could take place is a psychological war,” he said.

In renewed criticism of the re-launched direct peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, Ahmadinejad charged that the “decaying” Jewish state was hoping to “revive” itself through the talks.

“The Zionist entity is decaying. It is in a critically difficult state, and hopes to revive itself through an unfruitful dialogue,” he said.

Ahmadinejad had on Friday said the Washington-sponsored talks were “doomed” to fail, and infuriated the moderate Palestinian leadership by slamming it as unrepresentative.

“Who gave them the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian soil to the enemy,” he said at an annual pro-Palestinian rally.

Unlike other Arab states in the Gulf that have echoed Western suspicions about Iran’s nuclear programme and its ambitions in the region, Qatar has maintained friendly relations.

In May when the United States was pushing for a new round of UN sanctions against Iran, Qatar backed Turkish and Brazilian efforts to broker a deal that would avoid further punitive measures.

But Qatar is also a staunch US ally and hosts two American military bases.

As-Sayliyah base served as the coalition’s command and control centre during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, while the US air force used Al-Udeid airbase in the 2001 war in Afghanistan and in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. – AFP
 

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Introduction

As the 9th anniversary of 9/11 nears, and the war on terror continues to be waged and grows in ferocity and geography, it seems all the more imperative to return to the events of that fateful September morning and re-examine the reasons for war and the nature of the stated culprit, Al-Qaeda.

The events of 9/11 pervade the American and indeed the world imagination as an historical myth. The events of that day and those leading up to it remain largely unknown and little understood by the general public, apart from the disturbing images repeated ad nauseam in the media. The facts and troubled truths of that day are lost in the folklore of the 9/11 myth: that the largest attack carried out on American ground was orchestrated by 19 Muslims armed with box cutters and urged on by religious fundamentalism, all under the direction of Osama bin Laden, the leader of a global terrorist network called al-Qaeda, based out of a cave in Afghanistan.

The myth sweeps aside the facts and complex nature of terror, al-Qaeda, the American empire and literally defies the laws of physics. As John F. Kennedy once said, “The greatest enemy of the truth is not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, pervasive, and unrealistic.”

This three-part series on “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda” examines the geopolitical historical origins and nature of what we today know as al-Qaeda, which is in fact an Anglo-American intelligence network of terrorist assets used to advance American and NATO imperial objectives in various regions around the world.

Part 1 examines the origins of the intelligence network known as the Safari Club, which financed and organized an international conglomerate of terrorists, the CIA’s role in the global drug trade, the emergence of the Taliban and the origins of al-Qaeda.

The Safari Club

Following Nixon’s resignation as President, Gerald Ford became the new US President in 1974. Henry Kissinger remained as Secretary of State and Ford brought into his administration two names that would come to play important roles in the future of the American Empire: Donald Rumsfeld as Ford’s Chief of Staff, and Dick Cheney, as Deputy Assistant to the President. The Vice President was Nelson Rockefeller, David Rockefeller’s brother. When Donald Rumsfeld was promoted to Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney was promoted to Chief of Staff. Ford had also appointed a man named George H.W. Bush as CIA Director.

           

In 1976, a coalition of intelligence agencies was formed, which was called the Safari Club. This marked the discreet and highly covert coordination among various intelligence agencies, which would last for decades. It formed at a time when the CIA was embroiled in domestic scrutiny over the Watergate scandal and a Congressional investigation into covert CIA activities, forcing the CIA to become more covert in its activities.

In 2002, the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal gave a speech in which he stated that in response to the CIA’s need for more discretion, “a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran [under the Shah].”[1] However, “The Safari Club needed a network of banks to finance its intelligence operations. With the official blessing of George H.W. Bush as the head of the CIA,” Saudi intelligence chief, Kamal Adham, “transformed a small Pakistani merchant bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), into a world-wide money-laundering machine, buying banks around the world to create the biggest clandestine money network in history.”[2]

As CIA director, George H.W. Bush “cemented strong relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence, brother-in-law of King Faisal and an early BCCI insider.” Adham had previously acted as a “channel between [Henry] Kissinger and [Egyptian President] Anwar Sadat” in 1972. In 1976, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia formed the Safari Club “to conduct through their own intelligence agencies operations that were now difficult for the CIA,” which was largely organized by the head of French intelligence, Alexandre de Marenches.[3]

The “Arc of Crisis” and the Iranian Revolution

When Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed over two-dozen members of the Trilateral Commission to his administration, which was an international think tank formed by Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller in 1973. Brzezinski had invited Carter to join the Trilateral Commission, and when Carter became President, Brzezinski became National Security Adviser; Cyrus Vance, also a member of the Commission, became Secretary of State; and Samuel Huntington, another Commission member, became Coordinator of National Security and Deputy to Brzezinski. Author and researcher Peter Dale Scott deserves much credit for his comprehensive analysis of the events leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution in his book, “The Road to 9/11”,* which provides much of the information below.

Samuel Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski were to determine the US policy position in the Cold War, and the US-Soviet policy they created was termed, “Cooperation and Competition,” in which Brzezinski would press for “Cooperation” when talking to the press, yet, privately push for “competition.” So, while Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was pursuing détente with the Soviet Union, Brzezinski was pushing for American supremacy over the Soviet Union. Brzezinski and Vance would come to disagree on almost every issue.[4]

In 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech in which he stated, “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.” The Arc of Crisis stretched from Indochina to southern Africa, although, more specifically, the particular area of focus was “the nations that stretch across the southern flank of the Soviet Union from the Indian subcontinent to Turkey, and southward through the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.” Further, the “center of gravity of this arc is Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer and for more than two decades a citadel of U.S. military and economic strength in the Middle East. Now it appears that the 37-year reign of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi is almost over, ended by months of rising civil unrest and revolution.”[5]

With rising discontent in the region, “There was this idea that the Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets. It was a Brzezinski concept.”[6] A month prior to Brzezinski’s speech, in November of 1978, “President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council’s Brzezinski.” Further, “Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini.”[7] George Ball’s visit to Iran was a secret mission.[8]

Throughout 1978, the Shah was under the impression that “the Carter administration was plotting to topple his regime.” In 1978, the Queen and Shah’s wife, told Manouchehr Ganji, a minister in the Shah’s government, that, “I wanted to tell you that the Americans are maneuvering to bring down the Shah,” and she continued saying that she believed “they even want to topple the regime.”[9] The US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, thought that the revolution would succeed, and told this to Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General under the Johnson administration, as well as professor Richard Falk, when they were visiting Sullivan in Iran in 1978. Clark and Falk then went from Iran to Paris, to visit Khomeini, who was there in exile. James Bill, a Carter adviser, felt that, “a religious movement brought about with the United States’ assistance would be a natural friend of the United States.”[10]

Also interesting is the fact that the British BBC broadcast pro-Khomeini Persian-language programs daily in Iran, as a subtle form of propaganda, which “gave credibility to the perception of United States and British support of Khomeini.”[11] The BBC refused to give the Shah a platform to respond, and “[r]epeated personal appeals from the Shah to the BBC yielded no result.”[12]

In the May 1979 meeting of the Bilderberg Group, Bernard Lewis, a British historian of great influence (hence, the Bilderberg membership), presented a British-American strategy which, “endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeini, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.”[13] Further, it would prevent Soviet influence from entering the Middle East, as the Soviet Union was viewed as an empire of atheism and godlessness: essentially a secular and immoral empire, which would seek to impose secularism across Muslim countries. So supporting radical Islamic groups would mean that the Soviet Union would be less likely to have any influence or relations with Middle Eastern countries, making the US a more acceptable candidate for developing relations.

           

A 1979 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, described the Arc of Crisis, saying that, “The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism.” It went on to explain that post-war US policy in the region was focused on “containment” of the Soviet Union, as well as access to the regions oil.[14] The article continued, explaining that the most “obvious division” within the Middle East is, “that which separates the Northern Tier (Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan) from the Arab core,” and that, “After World War II, Turkey and Iran were the two countries most immediately threatened by Soviet territorial expansionism and political subversion.”[15] Ultimately, “the Northern Tier was assured of a serious and sustained American commitment to save it from sharing the fate of Eastern Europe.”[16]

While Khomeini was in Paris prior to the Revolution, a representative of the French President organized a meeting between Khomeini and “current world powers,” in which Khomeini made certain demands, such as, “the shah’s removal from Iran and help in avoiding a coup d’état by the Iranian Army.” The Western powers, however, “were worried about the Soviet Union’s empowerment and penetration and a disruption in Iran’s oil supply to the west. Khomeini gave the necessary guarantees. These meetings and contacts were taking place in January of 1979, just a few days before the Islamic Revolution in February 1979.”[17] In February of 1979, Khomeini was flown out of Paris on an Air France flight, to return to Iran, “with the blessing of Jimmy Carter.”[18] Ayatollah Khomeini named Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government on February 4, 1979. As Khomeini had demanded during his Paris meeting in January 1979, that western powers must help in avoiding a coup by the Iranian Army; in that same month, the Carter administration, under the direction of Brzezinski, had begun planning a military coup.[19]

Could this have been planned in the event that Khomeini was overthrown, the US would quickly reinstate order, perhaps even place Khomeini back in power? Interestingly, in January of 1979, “as the Shah was about to leave the country, the American Deputy Commander in NATO, General Huyser, arrived and over a period of a month conferred constantly with Iranian military leaders. His influence may have been substantial on the military’s decision not to attempt a coup and eventually to yield to the Khomeini forces, especially if press reports are accurate that he or others threatened to withhold military supplies if a coup were attempted.”[20] No coup was subsequently undertaken, and Khomeini came to power as the Ayatollah of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As tensions increased among the population within Iran, the US sent “security advisers” to Iran to pressure the Shah’s SAVAK (secret police) to implement “a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah.” The Carter administration also began publicly criticizing the Shah’s human rights abuses.[21] On September 6, 1978, the Shah banned demonstrations, and the following day, between 700 and 2000 demonstrators were gunned down, following “advice from Brzezinski to be firm.”[22]

The US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, a Trilateral Commission member, said that, “Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint,” and the US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, said, “Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure,” while Carter’s adviser, James Bill, said that Khomeini was a man of “impeccable integrity and honesty.”[23]

The Shah was also very sick in late 1978 and early 1979. So the Shah fled Iran in January of 1979 to the Bahamas, allowing for the revolution to take place. It is especially interesting to understand the relationship between David Rockefeller and the Shah of Iran. David Rockefeller’s personal assistant, Joseph V. Reed, had been “assigned to handle the shah’s finances and his personal needs;” Robert Armao, who worked for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, was sent to “act as the shah’s public relations agent and lobbyist;” and Benjamin H. Kean, “a longtime associate of Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller,” and David Rockefeller’s “personal physician,” who was sent to Mexico when the shah was there, and advised that he “be treated at an American hospital.”[24]

It is important to note that Rockefeller interests “had directed U.S. policy in Iran since the CIA coup of 1953.”[25] Following the Shah’s flight from Iran, there were increased pressures within the United States by a handful of powerful people to have the Shah admitted to the United States. These individuals were Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, John J. McCloy, former statesman and senior member of the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, who was also a lawyer for Chase Manhattan, and of course, David Rockefeller.[26]

Chase Manhattan Bank had more interests in Iran than any other US bank. In fact, the Shah had “ordered that all his government’s major operating accounts be held at Chase and that letters of credit for the purchase of oil be handled exclusively through Chase. The bank also became the agent and lead manager for many of the loans to Iran. In short, Iran became the crown jewel of Chase’s international banking portfolio.”[27]

The Iranian interim government, headed by Prime Minister Bazargan, collapsed in November of 1979, when Iranian hostages seized the US Embassy in Teheran. However, there is much more to this event than meets the eye. During the time of the interim government (February, 1979 to November, 1979), several actions were undertaken which threatened some very powerful interests who had helped the Ayatollah into power.

Chase Manhattan Bank faced a liquidity crisis as there had been billions in questionable loans to Iran funneled through Chase.[28] Several of Chase’s loans were “possibly illegal under the Iranian constitution.”[29] Further, in February of 1979, once the interim government was put in power, it began to take “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors.” Also, the interim government “wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher,” which could have “created a liquidity crisis for the bank which already was coping with financial troubles.”[30]

With the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran, President Carter took moves to freeze Iranian financial assets. As David Rockefeller wrote in his book, “Carter’s ‘freeze’ of official Iranian assets protected our [Chase Manhattan’s] position, but no one at Chase played a role in convincing the administration to institute it.”[31]

In February of 1979, Iran had been taking “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors. In 1979, as in 1953, a freeze of Iranian assets made this action more difficult.”[32] This was significant for Chase Manhattan not simply because of the close interlocking of the board with those of oil companies, not to mention Rockefeller himself, who is patriarch of the family whose name is synonymous with oil, but also because Chase exclusively handled all the letters of credit for the purchase of Iranian oil.[33]

The Shah being accepted into the United States, under public pressure from Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller, precipitated the hostage crisis, which occurred on November 4. Ten days later, Carter froze all Iranian assets in US banks, on the advice of his Treasury Secretary, William Miller. Miller just happened to have ties to Chase Manhattan Bank.[34]

Although Chase Manhattan directly benefited from the seizure of Iranian assets, the reasoning behind the seizure as well as the events leading up to it, such as a hidden role for the Anglo-Americans behind the Iranian Revolution, bringing the Shah to America, which precipitated the hostage crisis, cannot simply be relegated to personal benefit for Chase. There were larger designs behind this crisis. So the 1979 crises in Iran cannot simply be pawned off as a spur of the moment undertaking, but rather should be seen as quick actions taken upon a perceived opportunity. The opportunity was the rising discontent within Iran at the Shah; the quick actions were in covertly pushing the country into Revolution.

In 1979, “effectively restricting the access of Iran to the global oil market, the Iranian assets freeze became a major factor in the huge oil price increases of 1979 and 1981.”[35] Added to this, in 1979, British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts for oil supply, which along with cancellations taken by Royal Dutch Shell, drove the price of oil up higher.[36] With the first major oil price rises in 1973 (urged on by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger), the Third World was forced to borrow heavily from US and European banks to finance development. With the second oil price shocks of 1979, the US Federal Reserve, with Paul Volcker as its new Chairman, (himself having served a career under David Rockefeller at Chase Manhattan), dramatically raised interest rates from 2% in the late 70s to 18% in the early 80s. Developing nations could not afford to pay such interest on their loans, and thus the 1980s debt crisis spread throughout the Third World, with the IMF and World Bank coming to the “rescue” with their Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which ensured western control over the developing world’s economies.[37]

Covertly, the United States helped a radical Islamist government come to power in Iran, “the center of the Arc of Crisis,” and then immediately stirred up conflict and war in the region. Five months before Iraq invaded Iran, in April of 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski openly declared the willingness of the US to work closely with Iraq. Two months before the war, Brzezinski met with Saddam Hussein in Jordan, where he gave support for the destabilization of Iran.[38] While Saddam was in Jordan, he also met with three senior CIA agents, which was arranged by King Hussein of Jordan. He then went to meet with King Fahd in Saudi Arabia, informing him of his plans to invade Iran, and then met with the King of Kuwait to inform him of the same thing. He gained support from America, and financial and arms support from the Arab oil producing countries. Arms to Iraq were funneled through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.[39] The war lasted until 1988 and resulted in over a million deaths.

This was the emergence of the “strategy of tension” in the “Arc of Crisis,” in particular, the covert support (whether in arming, training, or financing) of radical Islamic elements to foment violence and conflict in a region. It was the old imperial tactic of ‘divide and conquer’: pit the people against each other so that they cannot join forces against the imperial power. This violence and radical Islamism would further provide the pretext for which the US and its imperial allies could then engage in war and occupation within the region, all the while securing its vast economic and strategic interests.

The “Arc of Crisis” in Afghanistan: The Safari Club in Action

In 1978, the progressive Taraki government in Afghanistan managed to incur the anger of the United States due to “its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies.”[40] The Afghan government was widely portrayed in the West as “Communist” and thus, a threat to US national security. The government, did, however, undertake friendly policies and engagement with the Soviet Union, but was not a Communist government.

In 1978, as the new government came to power, almost immediately the US began covertly funding rebel groups through the CIA.[41] In 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski worked closely with his aid from the CIA, Robert Gates (who is currently Secretary of Defense), in shifting President Carter’s Islamic policy. As Brzezinski said in a 1998 interview with a French publication:

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.[42]

Brzezinski elaborated, saying he “Knowingly increased the probability that [the Soviets] would invade,” and he recalled writing to Carter on the day of the Soviet invasion that, “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” When asked about the repercussions for such support in fostering the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Brzezinski responded, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”[43]

As author Peter Dale Scott pointed out in, The Road to 9/11:*

For generations in both Afghanistan and the Soviet Muslim Republics the dominant form of Islam had been local and largely Sufi. The decision to work with the Saudi and Pakistani secret services meant that billions of CIA and Saudi dollars would ultimately be spent in programs that would help enhance the globalistic and Wahhabistic jihadism that are associated today with al Qaeda.[44]

Hafizullah Amin, a top official in Taraki’s government, who many believed to be a CIA asset, orchestrated a coup in September of 1979, and “executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.”[45] The Soviets also intervened in order to replace Amin, who was seen as “unpredictable and extremist” with “the more moderate Barbak Karmal.”[46]

The Soviet invasion thus prompted the US national security establishment to undertake the largest covert operation in history. When Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter in 1981, the covert assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen not only continued on the path set by Brzezinski but it rapidly accelerated, as did the overall strategy in the “Arc of Crisis.” When Reagan became President, his Vice President became George H.W. Bush, who, as CIA director during the Ford administration, had helped establish the Safari Club intelligence network and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in Pakistan. In the “campaign to aid the Afghan rebels … BCCI clearly emerged as a U.S. intelligence asset,” and CIA Director “Casey began to use the outside – the Saudis, the Pakistanis, BCCI – to run what they couldn’t get through Congress. [BCCI president] Abedi had the money to help,” and the CIA director had “met repeatedly” with the president of BCCI.[47]

Thus, in 1981, Director Casey of the CIA worked with Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal who ran the Saudi intelligence agency GID, and the Pakistani ISI “to create a foreign legion of jihadi Muslims or so-called Arab Afghans.” This idea had “originated in the elite Safari Club that had been created by French intelligence chief Alexandre de Marenches.”[48]

In 1986, the CIA backed a plan by the Pakistani ISI “to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad.” Subsequently:

More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by CIA and MI6, with the SAS [British Special Forces] training future al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989.[49]

CIA funding for the operations “was funneled through General Zia and the ISI in Pakistan.”[50] Interestingly, Robert Gates, who previously served as assistant to Brzezinski in the National Security Council, stayed on in the Reagan-Bush administration as executive assistant to CIA director Casey, and who is currently Secretary of Defense.

The Global Drug Trade and the CIA

As a central facet of the covert financing and training of the Afghan Mujahideen, the role of the drug trade became invaluable. The global drug trade has long been used by empires for fuelling and financing conflict with the aim of facilitating imperial domination.

In 1773, the British colonial governor in Bengal “established a colonial monopoly on the sale of opium.” As Alfred W. McCoy explained in his masterful book, The Politics of Heroin:

As the East India Company expanded production, opium became India’s main export. [. . . ] Over the next 130 years, Britain actively promoted the export of Indian opium to China, defying Chinese drug laws and fighting two wars to open China’s opium market for its merchants. Using its military and mercantile power, Britain played a central role in making China a vast drug market and in accelerating opium cultivation throughout China. By 1900 China had 13.5 million addicts consuming 39,000 tons of opium.[51]

In Indochina in the 1940s and 50s, the French intelligence services “enabled the opium trade to survive government suppression efforts,” and subsequently, “CIA activities in Burma helped transform the Shan states from a relatively minor poppy-cultivating area into the largest opium-growing region in the world.”[52] The CIA did this by supporting the Kuomintang (KMT) army in Burma for an invasion of China, and facilitated its monopolization and expansion of the opium trade, allowing the KMT to remain in Burma until a coup in 1961, when they were driven into Laos and Thailand.[53] The CIA subsequently played a very large role in the facilitation of the drugs trade in Laos and Vietnam throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.[54]

It was during the 1980s that “the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan transformed Central Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin for the world market,” as:

Until the late 1970s, tribal farmers in the highlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan grew limited quantities of opium and sold it to merchant caravans bound west for Iran and east to India. In its decade of covert warfare against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the CIA’s operations provided the political protection and logistics linkages that joined Afghanistan’s poppy fields to heroin markets in Europe and America.[55]

In 1977, General Zia Ul Haq in Pakistan launched a military coup, “imposed a harsh martial-law regime,” and executed former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (father to Benazir Bhutto). When Zia came to power, the Pakistani ISI was a “minor military intelligence unit,” but, under the “advice and assistance of the CIA,” General Zia transformed the ISI “into a powerful covert unit and made it the strong arm of his martial-law regime.”[56]

The CIA and Saudi money flowed not only to weapons and training for the Mujahideen, but also into the drug trade. Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq appointed General Fazle Haq as the military governor of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), who would “consult with Brzezinski on developing an Afghan resistance program,” and who became a CIA asset. When CIA Director Casey or Vice President George H.W. Bush reviewed the CIA Afghan operation, they went to see Haq; who by 1982, was considered by Interpol to be an international narcotics trafficker. Haq moved much of the narcotics money through the BCCI.[57]

In May of 1979, prior to the December invasion of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, a CIA envoy met with Afghan resistance leaders in a meeting organized by the ISI. The ISI “offered the CIA envoy an alliance with its own Afghan client, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,” who led a small guerilla group. The CIA accepted, and over the following decade, half of the CIA’s aid went to Hekmatyar’s guerillas.[58] Hekmatyar became Afghanistan’s leading mujahideen drug lord, and developed a “complex of six heroin labs in an ISI-controlled area of Baluchistan (Pakistan).”[59]

The US subsequently, through the 1980s, in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, gave Hekmatyar more than $1 billion in armaments. Immediately, heroin began flowing from Afghanistan to America. By 1980, drug-related deaths in New York City rose 77% since 1979.[60] By 1981, the drug lords in Pakistan and Afghanistan supplied 60% of America’s heroin. Trucks going into Afghanistan with CIA arms from Pakistan would return with heroin “protected by ISI papers from police search.”[61]

Haq, the CIA asset in Pakistan, “was also running the drug trade,” of which the bank BCCI “was completely involved.” In the 1980s, the CIA insisted that the ISI create “a special cell for the use of heroin for covert actions.” Elaborating:

This cell promoted the cultivation of opium and the extraction of heroin in Pakistani territory as well as in the Afghan territory under Mujahideen control for being smuggled into Soviet controlled areas in order to make the Soviet troops heroin addicts.[62]

This plan apparently originated at the suggestion of French intelligence chief and founder of the Safari Club, Alexandre de Marenches, who recommended it to CIA Director Casey.[63]

In the 1980s, one program undertaken by the United States was to finance Mujahideen propaganda in textbooks for Afghan schools. The US gave the Mujahideen $43 million in “non-lethal” aid for the textbook project alone, which was given by USAID: “The U.S. Agency for International Development, [USAID] coordinated its work with the CIA, which ran the weapons program,” and “The U.S. government told the AID to let the Afghan war chiefs decide the school curriculum and the content of the textbooks.”[64]

The textbooks were “filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings,” and “were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines.” Even since the covert war of the 1980s, the textbooks “have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books.” The books were developed through a USAID grant to the “University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies,” and when the books were smuggled into Afghanistan through regional military leaders, “Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines.” USAID stopped this funding in 1994.[65]

The Rise of the Taliban

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the fighting continued between the Afghan government backed by the USSR and the Mujahideen backed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, so too did its aid to the Afghan government, which itself was overthrown in 1992. However, fighting almost immediately broke out between rival factions vying for power, including Hekmatyar.

In the early 1990s, an obscure group of “Pashtun country folk” had become a powerful military and political force in Afghanistan, known as the Taliban.[66] The Taliban “surfaced as a small militia force operating near Kandahar city during the spring and summer of 1994, carrying out vigilante attacks against minor warlords.” As growing discontent with the warlords grew, so too did the reputation of the Taliban.[67]

The Taliban acquired an alliance with the ISI in 1994, and throughout 1995, the relationship between the Taliban and the ISI accelerated and “became more and more of a direct military alliance.” The Taliban ultimately became “an asset of the ISI” and “a client of the Pakistan army.”[68] Further, “Between 1994 and 1996, the USA supported the Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentially because Washington viewed the Taliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia, and pro-Western.”[69]

Selig Harrison, a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and “a leading US expert on South Asia,” said at a conference in India that the CIA worked with Pakistan to create the Taliban. Harrison has “extensive contact” with the CIA, as “he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan,” while he was a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As he further revealed in 2001, “The CIA still has close links with the ISI.”[70] By 1996, the Taliban had control of Kandahar, but still fighting and instability continued in the country.

Osama and Al-Qaeda

Between 1980 and 1989, roughly $600 million was passed through Osama bin Laden’s charity front organizations, specifically the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), also known as Al-Kifah. The money mostly originated with wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and other areas in the Persian Gulf, and was funneled through his charity fronts to arm and fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan.[71]

In the 1980s, the British Special Forces (SAS) were training mujahideen in Afghanistan, as well as in secret camps in Scotland, and the SAS is largely taking orders from the CIA. The CIA also indirectly begins to arm Osama bin Laden.[72] Osama bin Laden’s front charity, the MAK, “was nurtured” by the Pakistani ISI.[73]

Osama bin Laden was reported to have been personally recruited by the CIA in 1979 in Istanbul. He had the close support of Prince Turki bin Faisal, his friend and head of Saudi intelligence, and also developed ties with Hekmatyar in Afghanistan,[74] both of whom were pivotal figures in the CIA-Safari Club network. General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, the head of the Pakistani ISI from 1980 to 1987, would meet regularly with Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, and they formed a partnership in demanding a tax on the opium trade from warlords so that by 1985, bin Laden and the ISI were splitting the profits of over $100 million per year.[75] In 1985, Osama bin Laden’s brother, Salem, stated that Osama was “the liaison between the US, the Saudi government, and the Afghan rebels.”[76]

In 1988, Bin Laden discussed “the establishment of a new military group,” which would come to be known as Al-Qaeda.[77] Osama bin Laden’s charity front, the MAK, (eventually to form Al-Qaeda) founded the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, New York, to recruit Muslims for the jihad against the Soviets. The al-Kifah Center was founded in the late 1980s with the support of the U.S. government, which provided visas for known terrorists associated with the organization, including Ali Mohamed, the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman and possibly the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta.[78]

This coincided with the creation of Al-Qaeda, of which the al-Kifah Center was a recruiting front. Foot soldiers for Al-Qaeda were “admitted to the United States for training under a special visa program.” The FBI had been surveilling the training of terrorists, however, “it terminated this surveillance in the fall of 1989.” In 1990, the CIA granted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman a visa to come run the al-Kifah Center, who was considered an “untouchable” as he was “being protected by no fewer than three agencies,” including the State Department, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.[79]

Robin Cook, a former British MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote that Al-Qaeda, “literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.”[80] Thus, “Al-Qaeda” was born as an instrument of western intelligence agencies. This account of al-Qaeda was further corroborated by a former French military intelligence agent, who stated that, “In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database,” and that it remained as such into the 1990s. He contended that, “Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden’s personal property,” and further:

The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the ‘TV watcher’ to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money.[81]

The creation of Al-Qaeda was thus facilitated by the CIA and allied intelligence networks, the purpose of which was to maintain this “database” of Mujahideen to be used as intelligence assets to achieve US foreign policy objectives, throughout both the Cold War, and into the post-Cold War era of the ‘new world order’.

Part 2 of “The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda” takes the reader through an examination of the new imperial strategy laid out by American geopolitical strategists at the end of the Cold War, designed for America to maintain control over the world’s resources and prevent the rise of competitive powers. Covertly, the “database” (al-Qaeda) became central to this process, being used to advance imperial aims in various regions, such as in the dismantling of Yugoslavia. Part 2 further examines the exact nature of ‘al-Qaeda’, its origins, terms, training, arming, financing, and expansion. In particular, the roles of western intelligence agencies in the evolution and expansion of al-Qaeda is a central focus. Finally, an analysis of the preparations for the war in Afghanistan is undertaken to shed light on the geopolitical ambitions behind the conflict that has now been waging for nearly nine years.

* [Note on the research: For a comprehensive analysis of the history, origins and nature of al-Qaeda, see: Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America, which provided much of the research in the above article.]

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.

Notes

[1]        Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 62

[2]        Ibid, page 63.

[3]        Ibid, page 62.

[4]        Ibid, pages 66-67.

[5]        HP-Time, The Crescent of Crisis. Time Magazine: January 15, 1979:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919995-1,00.html

[6]        Peter Dale Scott, op. cit., page 67.

[7]        F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 171

[8]        Manouchehr Ganji, Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 41

[9]        Ibid, page 39.

[10]      Ibid, page 41.

[11]      Ibid.

[12]      F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 172

[13]      Ibid, page 171.

[14]      George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 796

[15]      Ibid, page 797.

[16]      Ibid, page 798.

[17]      IPS, Q&A:  Iran’s Islamic Revolution Had Western Blessing. Inter-Press Service: July 26, 2008:
 http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43328

[18]      Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813077590&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

[19]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 89.

[20]      George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 810

[21]      F. William Engdahl, op cit., page 172.

[22]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 81.

[23]      Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813077590&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

[24]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 83.

[25]      Ibid, page 84.

[26]      Ibid, page 81.

[27]      Ibid, pages 85-86.

[28]      Ibid.

[29]      Ibid, page 87.

[30]      Ibid, pages 88-89.

[31]      Ibid.

[32]      Ibid, pages 87-88.

[33]      Ibid, page 85.

[34]      Ibid, page 86.

[35]      Ibid, page 88.

[36]      F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 173

[37]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve. Global Research: August 3, 2009:
 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14614

[38]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 89

[39]      PBS, Secrets of His Life and Leadership: An Interview with Said K. Aburish. PBS Frontline:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/interviews/aburish.html

[40]      Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11279

[41]      Oleg Kalugin, How We Invaded Afghanistan. Foreign Policy: December 11, 2009:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/12/11/how_we_invaded_afghanistan

[42]      ‘’Le Nouvel Observateur’ (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76:
http://www.ucc.ie/acad/appsoc/tmp_store/mia/Library/history/afghanistan/archive/brzezinski/1998/interview.htm

[43]      Ibid.

[44]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73

[45]      Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11279

[46]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 78.

[47]      Ibid, page 116.

[48]      Ibid, page 122.

[49]      Ibid, page 123.

[50]      Ibid,.

[51]      Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. (Lawrence Hill Books: Chicago, 2003), page 80

[52]      Ibid, page 162.

[53]      Ibid.

[54]      Ibid, pages 283-386.

[55]      Ibid, page 466.

[56]      Ibid, page 474.

[57]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73

[58]      Alfred W. McCoy, op cit., page 475.

[59]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 74.

[60]      Ibid, pages 75-76.

[61]      Ibid, page 124.

[62]      Ibid, pages 75-76.

[63]      Ibid, page 124.

[64]      Carol Off, Back to school in Afghanistan. CBC: May 6, 2002:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/afghanistan/schools.html

[65]      Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad. The Washington Post: March 23, 2002:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A5339-2002Mar22?language=printer

[66]      Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin Books, New York, 2004: Page 328

[67]      Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 11, 2001. (London: Penguin, 2005), page 285

[68]      Steve Coll, “Steve Coll” Interview with PBS Frontline. PBS Frontline: October 3, 2006:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/taliban/interviews/coll.html

[69]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), page 326

[70]      ToI, “CIA worked in tandem with Pak to create Taliban”. The Times of India: March 7, 2001:
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/taliban.htm

[71]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), pages 279-280

[72]      Simon Reeve, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism. (London: André Deutsch Ltd, 1999), page 168

[73]      Michael Moran, Bin Laden comes home to roost. MSNBC: August 24, 1998:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3340101/

[74]      Veronique Maurus and Marc Rock, The Most Dreaded Man of the United States, Controlled a Long Time by the CIA. Le Monde Diplomatique: September 14, 2001: http://www.wanttoknow.info/010914lemonde

[75]      Gerald Posner, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11. (New York: Random House, 2003), page 29

[76]      Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens. (New York: Penguin, 2008), pages 7-9

[77]      AP, Al Qaeda Financing Documents Turn Up in Bosnia Raid. Fox News: February 19, 2003:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,78937,00.html

[78]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: pages 140-141

[79]      Ibid, page 141.

[80]      Robin Cook, The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means. The Guardian: July 8, 2005:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/08/july7.development

[81]      Pierre-Henri Bunel, Al Qaeda — the Database. Global Research: November 20, 2005:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=BUN20051120&articleId=1291

NEW BOOK FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH
Special Offer
The Global
Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew G. Marshall (editors)

They’re called NGOs — non-governmental organizations — but the description is misleading at best, or an outright lie generated by intelligence agencies at worst.

In fact, almost all development NGOs receive a great deal of their funding from government and in return follow government policies and priorities. While this was always true, it has become easier to see with Stephen Harper’s Conservative Canadian government, which lacks the cleverness and subtlety of the Liberal Party who at least funded some “oppositional” activity to allow NGOs a veneer of independence.

The example of the NGO called Alternatives illustrates these points well. This group, which has ties to the progressive community in Canada and Quebec, has done some useful work in Palestine and Latin America. But, at the end of 2009 the Canadian International Development Agency failed to renew about $2.4 million in funding for Montreal-based Alternatives. After political pressure was brought to bear, Ottawa partly reversed course, giving the organization $800, 000 over three years.

Alternatives’ campaign to force the Conservatives to renew at least some of its funding and CIDA’s response tell us a great deal about the ever more overt ties between international development NGOs and Western military occupation. After the cuts were reported the head of Alternatives, Michel Lambert, tried to win favour with Conservative decision makers by explicitly tying the group’s projects to Canadian military interventions. In a piece claiming Alternatives was “positive[ly] evaluated and audited” by CIDA, Lambert asked: “How come countries like Afghanistan or Haiti that are at the heart of Canadian [military] interventions [and where Alternatives operated] are no longer essential for the Canadian government?”

After CIDA renewed $800,000 in funding, Lambert claimed victory. But, the CIDA money was only for projects in Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti — three countries under military occupation. (The agreement prohibited Alternatives from using the money to “engage” the public and it excluded programs in Palestine and Central America.) When Western troops invaded, Alternatives was not active in any of these three countries, which raises the questions: Is Alternatives prepared to follow Canadian aid anywhere, even if it is designed to strengthen military occupation? What alternatives do even “leftwing” NGOs such as Alternatives have when they are dependent on government funding?

One important problem for Alternatives and the rest of the “progressive” government-funded NGO community is that their benefactor’s money is often tied to military intervention. A major principle of Canadian aid has been that where the USA wields its big stick, Canada carries its police baton and offers a carrot. To put it more clearly, where the U.S. kills Canada provides aid.

Beginning the U.S.-intervention-equals Canadian-aid pattern, during the 1950-53 Korean War the south of that country was a major recipient of Canadian aid and so was Vietnam during the U.S. war there. Just after the invasions, Iraq and Afghanistan were the top two recipients of Canadian aid in 2003-2004. Since that time Afghanistan and Haiti were Nos. 1 and 2.

For government officials, notes Naomi Klein, NGOs were “the charity wing of the military, silently mopping up after wars.” Officials within the George W. Bush administration publicly touted the value of NGOs for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Three months after the invasion of Iraq Andrew Natsios, head of USAID and former World Vision director, bluntly declared “NGOs are an arm of the U.S. government.” Natsios threatened to “personally tear up their contracts and find new partners” if an NGO refused to play by Washington’s rules in Iraq, which included limits on speaking to the media.

International NGOs flooded into Iraq after the invasion and there was an explosion of domestic groups. The U.S., Britain and their allies poured tens of millions of dollars into projects run by NGOs. Many Canadian NGOs, such as Oxfam Quebec and Alternatives, were lured to occupied Iraq by the $300 million CIDA spent to support the foreign occupation and reconstruction.

In the lead-up to the invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell explained: “I am serious about making sure we have the best relationship with NGOs who are such a force multiplier for us and such an important part of our combat team.”

Up from a few dozen prior to the invasion, three years into the occupation a whopping 2,500 international NGOs operated in Afghanistan. They are an important source of intelligence. In April 2009 U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, told the Associated Press that most of their information about Afghanistan and Pakistan comes from aid organizations.

Canada’s military also works closely with NGOs in Afghanistan. A 2007 parliamentary report explained that some NGOs “work intimately with military support already in the field.” Another government report noted that the “Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) platoon made up of Army Reserve soldiers organizes meetings with local decision-makers and international NGOs to determine whether they need help with security.” Some Canadian NGOs even participated in the military’s pre- Afghanistan deployment training facility in Wainwright Alberta.

As Paul Martin’s Liberals increased Canada’s military footprint in Afghanistan they released an International Policy Statement. According to the 2005 Statement, “the image that captures today’s operational environment for the Canadian Forces” is the “three-block war”, which includes a reconstruction role for NGOs. On the third and final block of “three-block warfare” troops work alongside NGOs and civilians to fix what has been destroyed. (The first block consists of combat while the second block involves stabilization operations.)

Canadian military personnel have repeatedly linked development work to the counterinsurgency effort. “It’s a useful counterinsurgency tool,” is how Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Doucette, commander of Canada’s provincial reconstruction team, described CIDA’s work in Afghanistan. Development assistance, for instance, was sometimes given to communities in exchange for information on combatants. After a roadside bomb hit his convoy in September 2009, Canadian General Jonathan Vance spent 50 minutes berating village elders for not preventing the attack. “If we keep blowing up on the roads,” he told them, “I’m going to stop doing development.”

If even a “progressive” NGO such as Alternatives can be pushed into working as a tool of the military, shouldn’t we at least come up with a better description than “non-governmental” organization?

Yves Engler is the co-author of Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority. His most recent book is Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid. For more information, go to his website, yvesengler.com

Table of Content

‘Globalisation’

The World Social Forum and the Struggle against ‘Globalisation’

I. How and Why the World Social Forum Emerged

II. WSF Mumbai 2004 and the NGO Phenomenon in India

Appendix I: Ford Foundation — A Case Study of the Aims of Foreign Funding

Appendix II: Funds for the World Social Forum

‘Globalisation’

It became fashionable in the 1990s to use the term ‘globalisation’ to describe the economic changes being brought about worldwide. We were told that economies worldwide were becoming more integrated, and that prosperity would spread to all.

The great range of actual measures carried on under the label of globalisation, however, were not those of integration and development. Rather, they were processes of imposition, disintegration, underdevelopment and appropriation. They were of continued extraction of debt servicing payments of the third world; depression of the prices of raw materials exported by the same countries; removal of tariff protection for their vulnerable productive sectors; removal of restraints on foreign direct investment, allowing giant foreign corporations to grab larger sectors of the third world’s economies; removal of restraints on the entry and exit of massive flows of speculative international capital, allowing their movements to dictate economic life; reduction of State spending on productive activity, development and welfare; privatisation of activities, assets and natural resources; sharp increases in the cost of essential services and goods such as electricity, fuel, health care, education, transport, and food (accompanied by the harsher depression of women’s consumption within each family’s declining consumption); withdrawal of subsidised credit earlier directed to starved sectors; dismantling of workers’ security of employment; reduction of the share of wages in the social product; suppression of domestic industry in the third world and closures of manufacturing firms on a massive scale; ruination of independent small industries; ruination of the handicraft/handloom sector; replacement of subsistence crops with cash crops and destruction of food security; removal of ceilings on landholdings; dispossession of tribal lands and the handing over of forests to corporate interests; developing dependence of peasants on the new (and profoundly hazardous) products of biotechnology; dumping of hazardous wastes in, and the shifting of harmful processes to, the third world; use of women as sweated factory labour; growth of prostitution amid large-scale unemployment; invasion of images aimed at making women consumers of the beauty industry; entry of multinational media corporations and their cultural products; and systematic development of islands of consumerism amid a vast sea of poverty.

Little wonder that, far from becoming more integrated and prosperous, the world economy is today even more starkly divided. By the indices of the World Bank, 45 per cent of the world lives on less than two dollars a day, and the number of the poor worldwide has grown during the 1990s. A third of the world’s labour force is unemployed or underemployed because of the economic order ruling today. At the same time, in 1993, the top one per cent of the world’s population received a larger share of the world’s income than the bottom 57 per cent; the top five per cent had an income share approaching that of the bottom 85 per cent.

Distribution has become even more unequal as growth has flattened. Within the wealthy economies themselves growth has slowed sharply in the past two decades compared to the previous two decades. Within the developing countries, the situation is much worse: average income growth per head has sunk to zero during 1980-98.

While poverty and inequality are not new, the last decade has been specially marked by frequent, devastating financial crises and collapses, which have spread even to economies that were hitherto considered safe. They affected a number of countries at a time, aided by the freeing of financial flows: the East and South-east Asian crisis of 1997-98 — itself involving seven or eight countries — was followed by the Russian collapse of August 1998; Brazil collapsed in August-September 1998, and again in the first half of 1999; in the course of the Brazilian collapse, Argentina’s fragile economy was shaken; it too collapsed dramatically in 2000, and has still not recovered. Instability, bordering on chaos, was the hallmark of the decade. Exchange rates fluctuated more sharply; so too did trade growth, for all the talk of the gains of `global integration’. Prices exports of raw materials from the third world fell sharply.

The devastation wreaked by such financial crises was comparable to that of a war. In many cases standards of living in the affected country were thrown back decades — in the case of Russia, by a century (male life expectancy in Russia fell to 57 in the 1990s). In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, almost none of the countries had the same GDP at the end of the decade as they did in 1989. Russia’s GDP at the end of the decade was just two-thirds its 1989 figure; Moldova’s and Ukraine’s were a third of their 1989 figures. Unemployment rates during the Asian crisis tripled in Thailand, quadrupled in South Korea, rose ten-fold in Indonesia.

The imperialist countries, while scrambling to stabilise the financial situation arising from these crises (that is, ensuring continued debt payments by the crisis-affected country), also extracted gains from these devastations. The drop in prices of raw materials exports from the third world slashed costs of multinational corporations. Capital exiting East Asia, Russia and Brazil travelled to imperialist countries (the sums were massive: outflow from Thailand amounted to 7.9 per cent of GDP in 1997; 12.3 per cent in 1998; seven per cent in the first half of 1999). And as the East Asian, Russian, Brazilian and Argentinian currencies fell, their assets in the public and private sectors were now cheaper for foreign investors to snap up. (The bounty was huge. For example, in the 1990s, even before the latest collapse, multinationals bought up Brazil’s large privatised infrastructure and service sectors; they repatriated $7 billion in profits in 1998 alone.)

The term `globalisation’ is a gross distortion. Labour remains as trapped in national boundaries. Capital, no doubt, is armed with freedom of entry and exit worldwide (allowing it to maximise its exploitation of labour worldwide). But ownership of capital is by no means dispersed over the globe; it is more centralised and concentrated than ever before in imperialist hands.

It was not the working class in the imperialist countries that prospered from these processes. Income inequality in the US is estimated to be at its highest level since the 1930s, and growing steadily worse. The richest five per cent of the US — indeed largely the richest 1-2 per cent — pocketed almost all the gain from the 30 per cent that GDP grew over the 1990s. Now Census figures show a sharp upturn in US poverty in 2001. And in Europe, the current drive for economic integration and for greater `competitiveness’ is also in fact a drive to strip the European working class of its rights and social claims.

Resistance to `globalisation’ — or rather, resistance to the intensified imperialist onslaught — thus took shape both in the third world countries who were the worst sufferers as well as in the imperialist countries themselves, where the working class faced the onslaught. To tackle such resistance, imperialism has never hesitated to employ repression at home and military suppression abroad. But such measures, while basic, would not suffice; more sophisticated political means are required as well.

A new initiative

In January 2001, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, a large gathering took place voicing opposition to `globalisation’. It was composed of organisations and thousands of individuals from around the world. This gathering called itself the “World Social Forum”, counterposing itself to the World Economic Forum of corporate leaders and finance ministers which meets every year in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the concerns of multinational corporations and how to advance ‘globalisation’. At the World Social Forum, various organisations held discussions, cultural events, rallies, exhibitions, and other forms of self-expression, on issues ranging from the environment to women’s movement to economic policy to alternative social orders. The large participation encouraged the organisers to hold similar gatherings in January 2002 and January 2003 as well, and each such witnessed even larger mobilisations, numbering over 100,000 in the last such.

These gatherings, and the wide publicity given to them, had an impact far beyond the circle of direct participants. The Forum began to be treated by many as a political alternative to the current political trends worldwide, and as a potential source of a new politics. Movements, organisations and circles of individuals all over the world that are opposed to, or in struggle against, imperialism, had to take note of the World Social Forum.

Further, while the direct impact of the earlier gatherings was largely limited to Latin America, it is no longer so. A series of regional meetings under the aegis and on the pattern of the World Social Forum have been held over the course of the past year in Argentina, Italy, Palestine, India and Ethiopia. It has now been announced that the next World Social Forum gathering will take place in Mumbai in January 2004.

It is against this background that, in order to understand the real objects and character of the World Social Forum (WSF), we must look into its emergence and development. This is being attempted here so all those struggling against imperialism can take an informed stand on their future course of action.

A brief summary of what follows

In the following we see how, in the US and Europe, a militant protest movement against the depredations of international capital came to the fore at the December 1999 Seattle conference of the World Trade Organisation, and raged for one and a half years thereafter. Attempts by the ruling circles of those countries to suppress this movement met with no success; indeed, the movement grew. It was in this context that the WSF was initiated by ATTAC, a French NGO (non-governmental organisation) platform devoted to lobbying international financial institutions to reform and humanise themselves, and by the Brazilian Workers’ Party, whose leftist image and `participatory’ techniques of government have not prevented it from scrupulously implementing the stipulations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The WSF meets in Brazil for the past three years have attracted not only mammoth crowds but a wide range of participants, including many distinguished forces and individuals who are opponents of imperialism. The WSF slogan, “Another world is possible”, while vague, taps the widespread, inarticulate yearning for another social system. However, the very principles and structure of the WSF ensure that it will not evolve into a platform of people’s action and power against imperialism. Its claims to being a `horizontal’ (not a hierarchical) `process’ (not a body) are belied by the fact that decisions are controlled by a handful of organisations, many of them with considerable financial resources and ties to the very countries which control the existing world order. As the WSF disavows arriving at any decisions as a body, it is incapable of collective expression of will and action. Its gatherings are structured to give prominence to celebrities of the NGO world, who propagate the NGO worldview. Thus, in all the talk on ‘alternatives’, the spotlight remains on alternative policies within the existing system, rather than a change of the very system itself.

Indeed the ties of the WSF to the existing system are evidenced in a number of ways. While several political forces fighting for a change of the system been excluded from the WSF meets, droves of political leaders of the imperialist countries have been attending. Not only does the WSF as a body receive funds from agencies which are tied to imperialist interests and operations, but innumerable bodies participating in the WSF too are dependent on such agencies. The implications of this can be seen from the history of one such agency, Ford Foundation, which has closely collaborated with the US Central Intelligence Agency internationally, and in India has helped to shape the government’s policies in favour of American interests.

In recent years such funding has grown rapidly in India, leading to a vast proliferation of NGOs. While NGOs earlier restricted themselves to ‘developmental’ activities, they have expanded since the 1980s to `activism’ or ‘advocacy’, that is, funded political activity. This phenomenon serves to further bureaucratise social movements and remove them from popular control. A critique of the role of such funding agencies in Indian political life was produced in the late 1980s by the Communist Party of India (Marxist); however, it now its leading cadre are among the chief organisers of the WSF in India.

‘Globalisation’, a misleading word for the current onslaught by imperialism, can be resisted, and even defeated, by a combination of struggles at various levels, in various countries, in various forms; and forces fighting ‘globalisation’ will need to join hands in struggle against it. However, a careful analysis reveals that the World Social Forum is not an instrument of such struggle. It is a diversion from it.

The World Social Forum and the Struggle against ‘Globalisation’

I. How and Why the World Social Forum Emerged

The fourth gathering of the World Social Forum (WSF) is to take place in Mumbai in January 2004. This would be an event of unprecedented international visibility for India, and is already a subject of great curiosity, discussion and debate among circles opposed to what is termed ‘globalisation’. A number of insightful analytical articles have already been written on the WSF, both in India and abroad. Our purpose here is to gather some of these perceptions, substantiate certain points, and add a few further points.

The Seattle demonstrations and thereafter

The emergence of the WSF can be traced (in a contrary way) to the remarkable international upsurge of protest and confrontation that took place in the wake of the November 1999 conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at Seattle in the US. That WTO conference, wracked by disputes among the world’s richest economies, was disrupted further, and crucially, by a great storm of protest in the streets. The over 50,000 marchers were a very diverse mass, including anti-capitalist propagandists, anarchists, campaigners for the abolition of third world debt, environmentalists and even, remarkably, sections of U.S. organised labour. The conference ended in a fiasco without completing its agenda. For those fighting against globalisation, Seattle was a signal victory, evidence that such a fight was possible and worthwhile.

For the next one and a half years, a series of protests inspired by Seattle seriously disrupted every major gathering of the leading international powers and institutions, including the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet (a gathering of representatives of the world’s leading corporations and countries) at Davos in January 2000; the IMF-World Bank spring meeting in Washington in April 2000; the WEF summit at Melbourne in September 2000; the IMF-World Bank annual meeting in Prague in September 2000; the European Union (EU) summit in Nice in December 2000; the Davos meet in January 2001; the Quebec economic summit of the Americas in April 2001; the EU summit in Gothenburg in June 2001; the WEF meet in Salzburg in July 2001; and the World Economic Summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) in Genoa in July 2001.

Inevitably, the summit chiefs and the corporate media accused the protesters of carrying out acts of meaningless destruction. However, the main immediate thrust of the protesters’ actions was quite straightforward: to physically prevent the delegates gathering and thus prevent these conferences from completing their agenda.

For that agenda was, broadly speaking, to turn the screws tighter: to yank open third world economies even further to invasion and occupation by imports, foreign investment, and privatisation; to devalue labour power (directly and indirectly) further in both advanced industrialised countries and the third world; to concentrate capital even more greatly than at present; and to sort out disputes among the leading imperialist powers in this game.

Demonstrations alone have never ultimately blocked the plans of international capital, but the wave of militant demonstrations at Seattle and after was at least remarkably effective in disrupting “business as usual”. At Seattle, the conference’s inaugural session was cancelled as the delegates — including the head of the WTO, the UN Secretary-General, the US Secretary of State, and the US Trade Representative — were virtually imprisoned in their hotels on the first day; and on the following days, as demonstrators fought cat-and-mouse battles with the police on the streets, the trade talks inside broke down. During the Washington Fund-Bank meet, the US government had to shut offices in a sizeable area around the two institutions’ headquarters, and demonstrators managed to block many top officials — including the French finance minister — from reaching the venue. At Melbourne the Australian prime minister, John Howard, and the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, were trapped along with other delegates at the venue. Since the entrances and exits were blocked by 30,000 demonstrators, the delegates had to be ferried back and forth by helicopters and boats. At Prague the conference centre was completely blocked for hours, and many prospective delegates stayed away from the event. At Nice, the authorities’ attempts to keep out 100,000 protesters kept the delegates themselves in a state of siege. A NATO conference scheduled to be held in December 2000 at Victoria (Canada) was cancelled for fear of demonstrations, as was a World Bank development meet in Barcelona in June 2001. At Davos in January 2001, what the Financial Times described as “unprecedented security” (including mass arrests and a shut down of road and rail) did not prevent hundreds of protesters making it to the site. At Quebec, the entire focus of attention shifted from the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas to the demonstrators. And in Sweden, the inner city of Gothenburg was converted into a virtual battlefield.

Each successive meet attempted to place larger areas officially out of bounds by erecting legal and physical barricades. These efforts peaked in Genoa, where a four metre high iron fence protected a large deserted “red zone” near the venue. Inhabitants were not allowed to receive visitors for days, and sharpshooters manned terraces and balconies. Even this level of quarantine was insufficient for the leaders of the world’s eight most powerful countries, who stayed on the cruise ship “European Vision”, guarded by minesweepers, specialist divers, and units with anti-aircraft guns. Rail and air traffic to the city were stopped; motorways were blocked; bus, underground and tram traffic were largely shut down; and large numbers of people were turned back at the Italian border. Revealingly, the very authorities who talked of a ‘united Europe’ and were busy removing national restraints on capital flows aggressively used national borders to block the flow of protesters. Hence the slogan of the marchers in Prague: “Open up the borders, smash the IMF”.

The slogans and causes of the participants in this series of demonstrations varied greatly, ranging from the reformist to the revolutionary (and even, in the US, a few chauvinist ones). But as the Economist put it, by and large what the marchers “have in common is a loathing of the established economic order, and of the institutions — the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO — which they regard as either running it or serving it.” The rallies indeed became schools to their heterogenous participants: many previously non-political forces, or forces limited to single issues, were exposed to broader political perspectives and were radicalised in the course of their experience. And far from flagging, their strength appeared to be growing: at Genoa a record 150,000 protesters overcame extraordinary hurdles and managed to reach the city.

For those behind the project of a united Europe — the European corporations — the unprecedented involvement of organised labour in these protests was a particularly ominous sign. The European corporations and their political representatives, in the course of fashioning a single superpower, are moving step by step to strip the European working class of all its security and social rights. A militant working class challenge joining hands across borders would endanger their project.

The response: repression

From the start the protesters had to face considerable repression. At Seattle-1999 tear gas (canisters were sometimes fired at protesters’ faces), truncheons, plastic bullets and concussion grenades were used. Over 600 were arrested, often merely for handing out or even receiving leaflets within the giant “no-protest zone”; the national guard was called out; night-time curfew and martial law were declared. At Davos 2000 and 2001, the police used water throwers (at below-freezing temperatures), tear gas and warning shots; at Washington April 2000 tear gas, pepper gas (some demonstrators were sprayed in the eyes) and truncheons; at Nice, stun grenades and tear gas; at Quebec, water-throwers, tear gas and rubber pellets.

The Gothenburg EU summit of June 2001 marked a turning point. The Swedish police not only attacked the protesters with horses, truncheons and dogs, but, for the first time in the post-Seattle protests, fired live ammunition. Three protesters were wounded, one seriously. British prime minister Blair nevertheless asserted that people were “far too apologetic” about demonstrators who disrupt gatherings of world leaders. “These guys don’t represent anyone…. I just think we’ve got to be a lot more robust about this.”

In line with Blair’s sentiments, the repression at Genoa was unprecedented. Demonstrations were banned in a large zone. The police had the power to stop and search anyone in the city. There was a complete ban on distribution of leaflets. On the first day of the conference, police shot in the head Carlo Giuliani, a 23-year-old protester who allegedly threw a fire extinguisher at a police van; the van then reversed over Giuliani where he lay on the ground, killing him. On the night of July 21-22, the police stormed the school building which served as the dormitory of the protesters. Those sleeping there were beaten with steel torches, wooden truncheons and fists so badly that 72 were injured; more than a dozen had to be carried out on stretchers, some unconscious; and many had to be hospitalised. All were eventually released without charge. According to Amnesty International, detainees were “slapped, kicked, punched and spat on and subjected to verbal abuse, sometimes of an obscene sexual nature…. deprived of food, water and sleep for lengthy periods, made to line up with their faces against the wall and remain for hours spread-eagled, and beaten if they failed to maintain this position.” In addition, “some were apparently threatened with death and, in the case of female detainees, rape.”

Eighteen months later, the Italian police confessed to a parliamentary inquiry that they had fabricated evidence against the protesters: one senior officer admitted planting two Molotov cocktails in the school, and another admitted faking the stabbing of a police officer. A Guardian investigation at the time of the protests had found that certain `demonstrators’ who committed acts of looting and attacks on reporters were in fact provocateurs from European security forces. Not surprisingly, “few, if any” of these persons were arrested. This was, then, a pre-planned assault by the leaders of Europe on the burgeoning anti-imperialist movement.

More sophisticated response required

While “robust” repression remained an essential tool of dealing with the movement, it was not sufficient. For, contrary to Blair’s assertion that “These guys don’t represent anyone”, it was clear that indeed they represented vast and growing numbers affected, in some cases even ruined, even within the imperialist countries themselves by the current processes. Early on, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warned that “Seattle and Washington reflect how large the antagonistic audience has become, and the lengths to which participants will go in their desire to shut down or impede the spread of globalization”. The aggressively pro-`globalisation’ Economist, in an editorial titled “Angry and effective”, lamented that “The threat of renewed demonstrations against global capitalism hangs over next week’s annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank. This new kind of protest is more than a mere nuisance: it is getting its way.” It warned that “it would be a big mistake to dismiss this global militant tendency as nothing more than a public nuisance, with little potential to change things. It already has changed things”, counting the Multilateral Agreement on Investment as its first victim.

The Economist traced the effectiveness of the protests not to the methods employed but to the fact that they “enjoy the sympathy of many people in the West…. Many of the issues they raise reflect popular concern about the hard edges of globalisation — fears, genuine if muddled, about leaving the poor behind, harming the environment, caring about profits more than people, unleashing dubious genetically modified foods, and the rest. The radicals on the streets are voicing an organised and extremist expression of these widely shared anxieties…. the protesters are prevailing over firms, international institutions and governments partly because, for now, they do reflect that broader mood. If their continuing success stimulates rather than satisfies their appetite for power, global economic integration may be at greater risk than many suppose.”

A sophisticated response was required. At Melbourne, at a conference site besieged by demonstrators, World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab commented revealingly that “If I have learned one thing from here, I will try in future to install a dialogue corner where some business people here and some people in the street could meet in a safe corner and just exchange ideas.” The Economist noted that the Czech president tried unsuccessfully “to broker a meeting between the protesters [at Prague] and the boss of the World Bank…. Mr Havel has since managed to set up a forum on September 23rd that will be attended by Bank and Fund officials and by assorted opponents of globalisation.”

Such efforts are not new: The Bank, Fund, U.N., and other such institutions have for some years been sponsoring parallel NGO meets at each major international gathering. Indeed, at Seattle, in December 1999, the WTO itself hosted a parallel Social Summit the day before the opening of the WTO conference, where the new International Labour Office Director-General Juan Somavia spelled out the programme: “What we need today is a more fruitful collaboration between the ILO, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank with the objective of creating a Social Chapter within the incipient structures of world governance…. We need to create structures where the fears and anxieties of civil society can be fully aired and addressed.”

At the same gathering, former WTO Director General Renatto Ruggiero warned that “if all actors in today’s global economy are not included to address the widening range of public concerns within this global system… they may turn to alternative solutions that could possibly destabilize the entire architecture of the global economy…. Certainly we must continue to advance trade liberalization within the multilateral system. But unless we achieve a consensus and cooperation with all the political actors, we cannot build the necessary support for trade liberalization and the global economy.”

The efforts of the 1999 Seattle Social Summit to engage the protesters in consensus-building for trade liberalisation were, to put it mildly, unsuccessful. And through all the militant protests that followed, it was clear that those sponsored efforts at consensus-building with the protesters, organised as they were under the auspices of the same international bodies that were the targets of the protests, carried no credibility with the marchers.

World Social Forum is given shape

It was during the following turbulent year, 2000, that the “alternative” to Seattle-type confrontations took shape — with remarkable speed, starting within three months of the Seattle events.

According to a member of the International Council of the WSF, in February 2000, Bernard Cassen, the head of a French NGO platform ATTAC, Oded Grajew, head of a Brazilian employers’ organisation, and Francisco Whitaker, head of an association of Brazilian NGOs, met to discuss a proposal for a “world civil society event”; by March 2000, they formally secured the support of the municipal government of Porto Alegre and the state government of Rio Grande do Sul, both controlled at the time by the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT). In June 2000, the proposal for such an event was placed by the vice-governor of Rio Grande do Sul at an alternative UN meeting in Geneva. The World Bank website dates the WSF to this meeting, referring to it as “a new organizational perspective launched in June 2000 in Geneva by the major organisations of civil society”.

This political trend, which was already present within the protest movement, stepped up its efforts to influence it. A group of French NGOs, including ATTAC, Friends of L’Humanité, and Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique, sponsored an Alternative Social Forum in Paris titled “One Year after Seattle”, in order to prepare an agenda for the protests to be staged at the upcoming European Union summit at Nice. The speakers called for “reorienting certain international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO… so as to create a globalization from below” and “building an international citizens’ movement, not to destroy the IMF but to reorient its missions.” While strongly endorsing the project of the European Union (one of the central aims of which in fact is to strip the hard-won rights of European workers and their various forms of social protection), the organisers called for a Social Europe, “on the basis of a Third Way [ie neither capitalism nor socialism], that could implement policies against unemployment, insecurity, and the undermining of workers’ rights.”

The organisers had considerable success in foisting this agenda on the protest demonstrations at Nice, where the general secretary of the European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC) declared that “all components of civil society must play a major role in the construction of the European Union. The message of our demonstration is unmistakable: There needs to be the incorporation of the trade unions and NGOs into the decision-making structures in Brussels…. We agree that Europe must become more competitive, yes. But the new Europe must also contain a dignified quality of life for all its citizens.” This vision of a happy family of European labour and capital would warm any corporate chieftain’s heart.

Let us take a closer look here at the two principal authors of the World Social Forum: ATTAC of France and the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) of Brazil. It is worth looking at the background of these two forces.

ATTAC: devoted to dialogue with international financial institutions

ATTAC is an NGO platform that aims to build a coalition of diverse groups — farmers, trade unions, intellectuals — for a reform of the world financial system. Its name is the French acronym for Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens. It was originally set up in 1998 by Bernard Cassens and Susan George, the editors of Le Monde Diplomatique, to campaign for the Tobin tax. This is a tax long ago proposed by the American economist James Tobin, whereby speculative financial transactions would be taxed at the rate of 0.1 per cent in order to raise funds for productive and socially desirable purposes. (While ATTAC has broadened its concerns in the past several years, it has not abandoned its base in the Tobin tax proposal.) Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning establishment economist who has advised US administrations, in no sense considered his proposal radical, anti-corporate or anti-globalization — indeed, he envisioned the tax revenues being administered by the IMF (ATTAC wants the United Nations to do so instead). At any rate, given the dominance of financial sector activity, and the hectic pace of speculative transactions worldwide, the Tobin tax stands nil chance of being actually enacted by any country wishing to remain in the existing world financial institutions, international capital flows and international trade; the country that made such a tax law would immediately be punished by the world financial community withdrawing capital from it. To be effective, it presumably would have to be enacted by all countries in the world, or at least the leading powers, which could then impose it on the rest of the world. The Tobin tax proposal is a mirage.

Apart from the Tobin tax, ATTAC advanced three other propositions at the World Social Forum: the reform of the World Bank and IMF; a global commission to slow down multinationals and increase competition; and “a procedure of mediation for countries of the `Third World’ in debt, where creditors and debtors should name their representatives and who then have to come to an agreement in regard to an arbitrator”. All this was to be achieved through “dialogue” with governments and international institutions like the Fund and Bank.

This understanding is also reflected in the work of one of ATTAC’s leading lights, Susan George, who argues against a write-off of the Third World debt, and instead for its “creative” renegotiation. She indeed defends the institution of the IMF: “Should the South seek to replace or abolish the IMF? Even if such a Herculean feat were possible, this strikes me as the wrong goal, precisely because the Fund is supra-national and because it is an instrument. If enough pressure and political skill were applied, it could become an instrument for governments more enlightened than that of the United States under Reagan.” While the intellectuals of ATTAC prominently occupied platforms and press conferences at each major post-Seattle protest, their actual politics starkly contrasts that of the protesters who called for writing off the Third World debt or “smashing the IMF”.

Nor does ATTAC have much in common with the traditional trade union goal of defending jobs. In a May 2001 document (The rules of the new shareholding capitalism), ATTAC upholds the right of the sack: “Clearly, the right to capitalist property includes the right to hire and fire. The question is knowing up to what point. As far as we are concerned, we want job-cuts to be the last resort, once all other possibilities of guaranteeing the survival of the company have been exhausted.”

For ATTAC the militant anti-`globalisation’ protests failed in a crucial sense: they lacked the `constructive’ development of `alternatives’. According to Christophe Aguiton of ATTAC, “The failure of Seattle was the inability to come up with a common agenda, a global alliance at the world level to fight against globalisation”. Hence the need for WSF. Says Bernard Cassens, the first president of ATTAC, “We are not just protesters, our ambition is to propose credible alternatives to show that another world is possible by once more putting the economy and finance at the service of society.”

To whom were these alternatives to be proposed, in whose eyes were they to be “credible”? Evidently, to those in charge of the existing world. ATTAC has been courted by various European social democratic governments: “In September last year (2001)the French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, and the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, both facing closely fought elections in the near future, agreed to set up a joint working party on how to regulate financial markets. The leadership of ATTAC France have held several meetings with Jospin’s chief of staff. The French National Assembly passed a resolution in November supporting the Tobin tax on international financial speculation. Perhaps because of this courtship, the ATTAC leadership did not mobilise its considerable influence against the war in Afghanistan. This courtship will continue at Porto Alegre. Among the notables present will be Danielle Mitterrand, widow of the former French president.” It is alleged that at various forums ATTAC have intervened to exclude discussion of issues such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and prevent discussion of state racism, immigrant rights, and explicit references to fascism and Islamophobia.

Indeed ATTAC sees no wrong in receiving funds from ruling quarters in Europe. The French business daily Les Echos (10/1/02) reported that “Last year ATTAC received 300,000 Euros in grants alone. Among the contributors were the European Commission (of the EU), the French government’s Department of Social Economy, the National Ministry of Education and Culture and a whole host of local governments.” According to the daily Le Monde (1/2/02), “ATTAC and Le Monde Diplomatique received 80,000 Euros from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help them organise the World Social Forum.” Les Echos (1/2/02) comments accurately that “The financing of the NGOs, whose role is not always transparent, often comes from multinational corporations who prefer to back them discreetly so as to be able to use them for their own purposes. It would appear that these are two opposing ideologies. In fact, more and more these ideologies are becoming intertwined.”

Of course, ATTAC’s construction experts ignore the fact that a genuine alternative cannot merely be mounted on top of the existing structure, but must be preceded by clearing away the burden of the past.

Workers’ Party: instrument of IMF rule

The other important force initiating the WSF, the PT of Brazil, can hardly be termed an opponent of globalisation. When the first three WSF meets took place, the PT was in power only in one province of Brazil, Rio Grande de Sul, whose capital is Porto Alegre. At the time it was celebrated for its “Participatory Budget” process. In this, an assembly would be held of associations representing various sections of society — including trade unions, NGOs, and employers’ associations. First, from the funds available, the amount required for the province’s contribution towards servicing the foreign debt would be subtracted. Then discussion would begin on how to spend the remainder, with each association allowed time to speak to ask for funds for its concern, and a vote at the end on all the proposals. None of the priorities may be funded, if there are not sufficient funds for them. Clearly such a procedure has nothing to do with opposing ‘globalisation’. What it does is to set various exploited social sections against one another and dissipate resentment for Bank-Fund austerity measures. Indeed the IMF publication Finance and Development, edited by the World Bank’s Chief Economist, praises the PT’s “participatory budget” as helping to “reduce the administrative and social constraints on economic activity and social mobility”.

Now that the PT has been elected to power at the national level, its anti-`globalisation’ pretensions have been dropped. In order to “confront the fear that had taken hold of investors, both foreign and Brazilian” before his election, “Lula [Luis Ignacio Silva, the head of the PT and now the president of Brazil], in a ‘letter to the Brazilian people,’ had committed himself during the campaign to maintaining the budget surpluses required by the IMF. When he took office, he not only did this, but he went further and surprised Wall Street by increasing the budget surplus from 3.5 percent of GDP to 4.6 percent” — a remarkable extraction from a poverty-ridden economy in recession. Unsurprisingly, “Officials at the IMF and World Bank in Washington have praised the stringent fiscal orthodoxy imposed by the new government.” For the critical position of president of the Central Bank, Lula appointed Henrique Meirelles, the former president of global banking at FleetBoston Financial, and “well known in US financial circles.” International investors are reassured: Since Lula took office on January 1, 2003, Brazil has received some $5.6 billion in foreign investment. Lula has also kept a distance from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, one Latin American leader who is disliked by international capital.

As Brazil continues to service its debt and attract foreign capital, its basic interest rate, at 26.5 per cent, strangles domestic investment: interest now accounts on average for 14 per cent of the cost of production in Brazil and as much as 25 per cent in the steel and auto-parts industry. More than a third of the population is officially considered poor, and 15 per cent destitute. “Unemployment in the greater São Paulo region, Brazil’s industrial and financial heartland, has risen to over 20 percent. Brazil’s economic policy makers remain under IMF surveillance, obliged to make payments on the $30 billion of IMF loans that the previous government negotiated, which gives very little space for the economy to grow.” Brazil’s policymakers now talk the language of the IMF: “If budget surpluses can be sustained, once growth picks up next year, as they anticipate it will, they believe that they will at last be able to shift surpluses from paying debt and toward social development, education, health, and improving roads and other infrastructure.” It is elementary that a policy of extracting budget surpluses can only contract economic activity, making the possibility of social development even more remote.

Little wonder that “Some of the left-wing members of the PT were openly criticizing [Lula], and the party leaders were threatening the most acerbic critics with expulsion if they voted against the government’s reform measures.” The left-wing members would have contrasted Lula’s present positions with his words to the Havana Debt Conference in 1985:

“Without being radical or overly bold, I will tell you that the Third World War has already started — a silent war, not for that reason any the less sinister. This war is tearing down Brazil, Latin America and practically all the Third World. Instead of soldiers dying there are children, instead of millions of wounded there are millions of unemployed; instead of destruction of bridges there is the tearing down of factories, schools, hospitals, and entire economies…. It is a war by the United States against the Latin American continent and the Third World. It is a war over the foreign debt, one which has as its main weapon interest, a weapon more deadly than the atom bomb, more shattering than a laser beam….”

The context of class struggle in Latin America

Indeed the emergence of the WSF needs to be seen against the background of not only the upsurge of militant protests against the world’s leading financial institutions and bodies. It must also be seen against the great wave of struggles of workers and peasants sweeping Latin America since the Mexican Zapatista uprising of 1994, and more particularly in the last few years: a flowering of other movements on the land question in Mexico inspired by the Zapatista uprising, many of them armed; an extended and political Mexican student movement; the continuing guerrilla war led by FARC and ELN in Colombia; the continuing guerrilla war in Peru; a near-insurrection in Ecuador against IMF-imposed policies, resulting in the fall of a government; mass mobilisations in support of the Chavez government in Venezuela, in defiance of the Venezuelan elite and US imperialism; the militant direct occupation of land by the Movement of the Landless (MST) in Brazil; the remarkable Argentinian popular uprising and occupation of factories and sites of political power in 2001-02 in defiance of international investors, forcing repeated defaults of payments on the foreign debt; the Bolivian anti-privatisation struggles, including the successful struggle of Cochabamba against the privatisation of water; and others. Thus Latin America has become in recent years a particularly important zone of class struggle in the world, in confrontation with international capital. Many of these struggles have been spontaneous or led by amorphous forces, in search of political moorings and a vision of the future. Hence the importance for international capital of channeling them, too, along the ‘constructive’ paths charted by organisations like ATTAC.

So it was that, in 2002, the Porto Alegre municipality provided approximately $300,000 and the Rio Grande do Sul state government (under which the municipality falls) another $ one million for the WSF, despite their austerity regime. In 2003, there was some increase in the money provided by the municipal government and a substantial cut in the money given by the state government (as a result of PT losing the state elections). However, the new PT federal government, headed by Lula, decided to compensate for the cut by the state government. ATTAC channeled European Union funds for the setting up of the WSF, and it is itself a recipient of European Union and French government funding (see Appendix II for details). Apart from this, other WSF funders (or `partners’, as they are referred to in WSF terminology) included Ford Foundation, which we will discuss later in this article — suffice it to say here that it has always operated in the closest collaboration with the US Central Intelligence Agency and US overall strategic interests; Heinrich Boll Foundation, which is controlled by the German Greens party, a partner in the present German government and a supporter of the wars on Yugoslavia and Afghanistan (its leader Joschka Fischer is the German foreign minister); and major funding agencies such as Oxfam (UK), Novib (Netherlands), ActionAid (UK), and so on.

Remarkably, an International Council member of the WSF reports that the “considerable funds” received from these agencies have “not hitherto awakened any significant debates [in the WSF bodies] on the possible relations of dependence it could generate.” Yet he admits that “in order to get funding from the Ford Foundation, the organisers had to convince the foundation that the Workers Party was not involved in the process.” Two points are worth noting here. First, this establishes that the funders were able to twist arms and determine the role of different forces in the WSF — they needed to be `convinced’ of the credentials of those who would be involved. Secondly, if the funders objected to the participation of the thoroughly domesticated Workers Party, they would all the more strenuously object to prominence being given to genuinely anti-imperialist forces. That they did so object will be become clear as we describe who was included and who excluded from the second and third meets of the WSF.

The WSF Charter

The charter of the WSF describes the Forum opaquely as “a permanent process of seeking and building alternatives”, “an open meeting place for… groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism”, a “plural, diversified, non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party context”, and so on. However, the charter bars the WSF from any meaningful action. “The meetings of the WSF do not deliberate on behalf of the WSF as a body…. The participants in the Forum shall not be called on to take decisions as a body, whether by vote or acclamatiion, on declarations or proposals for action that would commit all, or the majority, of them…. It thus does not constitute a locus of power…” Thus the WSF organisers have strenuously and successfully resisted taking a stand on even such a glaring issue as the US invasion of Iraq.

The WSF’s diversity has its limits. Some groups of “civil society” — or of the people, to use a clearer term — are to be excluded: “Neither party representations nor military organizations shall participate in the Forum.” (The April 2002 Bhopal declaration of Indian organisations constituting WSF-India says that “The meetings of the World Social Forum are always open to all those who wish to take part in them, except organisations that seek to take people’s lives as a method of political action”.) Thus any struggle which defends or advances its cause by use of arms would be barred: for example, had the Vietnamese liberation struggle existed today it would not be able to attend the WSF, even were it to wish it; nor would today’s Palestinian or Iraqi resistance fighters. Examples can easily be multiplied.

Yet the same charter states that “Government leaders and members of legislatures who accept the commitments of this Charter may be invited to participate in a personal capacity.” (The Bhopal declaration of WSF India emphasises that the WSF does not intend “to exclude from the debates it promotes those in positions of political responsibility, mandated by their peoples, who decide to enter into the commitments resulting from those debates.” In other words, they are not participating in their “personal capacity”, but in their official capacity.) Given that these persons are leaders of political parties, and given that as heads of state they lead military organisations, this would seem to negate the earlier clause banning party representations or military organisations.

Clearly the objects of the two clauses are different. The first is intended to block certain `undesirable’ radical parties and their fighting forces. The second is to ensure the presence of representations from the very governments carrying out globalisation.

While barring the participation of armed organisations, the WSF Charter mentions that it will “increase the capacity for non-violent social resistance to the process of dehumanization the world is undergoing and to the violence used by the State.” (emphasis added) So the world is being dehumanized as a result of the intensification of exploitation; states are employing violence to accomplish this; yet resistance must be non-violent; failure to maintain non-violence will bar one from attending WSF gatherings.

On the other hand, the question of funding does not even figure in the charter of principles of the WSF, adopted in June 2001. Marxists, being materialists, would point out that one should look at the material base of the forum to grasp its nature. (One indeed does not have to be a Marxist to understand that “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.) But the WSF does not agree. It can draw funds from imperialist institutions like Ford Foundation while fighting “domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism”. Indeed, the WSF Charter makes clear that it is opposed to all “reductionist views of economy, development and history”, meaning, presumably, Marxist analysis.

WSF 2001, 2002, 2003

The actual gatherings of the World Social Forum in 2001, 2002, and 2003 were marked by a sharp contrast. On the one hand there was the vibrant presence of masses of people — 5,000 registered participants and thousands of other Brazilian participants at the first event; 12,000 official delegates and tens of thousands of other participants at the second; and 20,000 delegates, at the third, which had a total attendance of 100,000.

One report describes how, at the meets, “Bank employees distributed leaflets with the title `all bankers are thieves’ and burnt dollar and euro banknotes. Metal and oil workers called for international solidarity with the Palestinians. In the morning the organisation of the homeless people occupied a building, which the city council had promised to convert into state-subsidised flats a year ago.”

There was a diversity similar to that of the anti-’globalisation’ protests, ranging from workers, peasants and students to environmentalists, anti-debt campaigners, and NGOs. But the new addition was high-powered officers of international institutions, academics, and politicians. James Petras writes of the second WSF meet:

“The Forum was sharply polarized. On one side were the reformers — the NGO’ers, academics and the majority of the organizers of the Forum, ATTAC-Tobin tax advocates from France and leaders from the social-liberal wing of the Brazilian Workers Party. On the other side were the radicals from the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement, activist intellectuals, piqueteros from Argentina, representatives of left-wing parties, trade unions, urban movements and solidarity groups. There were significant differences in the social composition of the meetings and the public demonstrations. At the opening inaugural march, run by the reformist officials, the marchers were from a diverse array of groups. The unofficial march of 50,000 against the Latin American Free Trade Agreement was organized by the radical groups and included a large contingent of Brazilian workers, peasants and homeless, as well as militant internationalists from ongoing struggles in Argentina, Bolivia and other countries.”

Naomi Klein notes that, while “any group that wanted to run a workshop… simply had to get a title to the organizing committee”, “there were sometimes sixty of these workshops going on simultaneously, while the main-stage events, where there was an opportunity to address more than 1,000 delegates at a time, were dominated not by activists but by politicians and academics.” Petras agrees: “It was the well-known intellectual notables from the NGOs which crowded the platforms and informed the public about the movements in their regions… The official plenary sessions and `testimonials’ were heavily biased in favour of NGO’ers and intellectuals, while the parallel workshops and seminars were the occasional site of fruitful exchange among activists from substantial movements engaged in the significant battles against imperialism (`globalization’).”

Who was included

Despite the WSF Charter’s prohibition of political parties, Lula, head of the PT and now head of the federal government of Brazil, prominently participated at all three WSF meets. For that matter the PT, the ruling party at the local and now national level, has been omnipresent at the WSF meets. And Lula, as part of his new presidential responsibilities, traveled straight from the WSF 2003 to Davos, to participate in the World Economic Forum meet. Thus it is possible to take part in both forums.

It is worth looking at the credentials of some of the other participants at the WSF. The French government — still more or less a colonial ruler in parts of Africa — has sent high-level delegations to the WSF, containing several cabinet ministers. Among those whom the organising body of WSF presumably considers “accept the commitments” of its charter were the French minister of cooperation (directly responsible for dealing with the foreign debt of the African countries — in particular former French colonies), the minister of housing, the minister of education, and so on. Also present at the WSF was a top-ranking delegation of the United Nations, a body in whose name several heinous wars have been fought since 1991. A special message from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was read out at the WSF — as it was also in the World Economic Forum at Davos.

At any rate the bar on political parties is selective: any number of representatives of political parties attend in their “individual capacities”, and even hold important positions in the WSF bodies. The bar is actually an enabling provision, to keep out those the organisers wish to keep out.

Even some prominent representatives of the WSF have been embarrassed by the contradiction. According to Jose Luis del Rojo, the Italian coordinator of the WSF: “We have a problem. There are several thousand politicians present, many of whom are members of parliament, mainly from Europe, who voted for the US war against Afghanistan. Many of these had declared themselves to be against our movement. And now they are all here, giving interviews to the international press…We have problems especially with the French and Italian members of parliament. For example, there is the secretary of the Left Democrats from Italy, Piero Fassino, who spoke strongly in favour of Italy entering this war. These are the same people, who in Genoa, while the police was beating us up, called upon the population not to join the demonstration, in order to isolate us and leave us in the hands of the repressive state apparatus…This should be a Forum of local government politicians, but here we have prefects from Europe taking part. These people in their municipalities and regions have expelled immigrants. All this has nothing to do with our principles.”

Of the German delegation, “The majority was made up of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), like the Evangelische Entwicklungsdienst (Protestant Voluntary Service Overseas). The bulk of the delegation was formed by foundations linked to political parties, such as the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Friedrich Ebert Foundation) with a total of 19 delegates, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation) with 9 delegates, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Heinrich Böll Foundation) with 2 delegates and the DGB (German Federation of Trade Unions) with 7 representatives.”

An International Council member notes that certain UN organs were actively involved in the WSF despite the bar on intergovernmental bodies. “In order to partially overcome such dilemmas, a new form of participation was attempted in 2002 when it was decided that the WSF would have a new category of events: roundtables of dialogue and controversy. Through these roundtables, representatives of institutions banned from the list of official delegates can be invited to debate and discuss.”

NGOs are major recipients of financing from the very institutions that the WSF is purportedly fighting. “For the last decade”, said the World Bank president to the WSF 2003, “we have held an active dialogue with the organisations of civil society, including through the projects that we are financing.” Thirteen per cent of the World Bank’s loans to various governments have to be channeled to finance the “participation” of NGOs. On this account, in 2001, the borrowing countries were indebted for a neat $2.25 billion to the World Bank. The NGOs in turn do their political bit for the Bank and Fund. The Economist notes that “The IMF, long regarded as impermeable to outsiders, now runs seminars to teach NGOs the nuts and bolts of country-programme design, so that they can better monitor what the Fund is doing and (presumably) understand the rationale for the Fund’s loan conditions. Horst Kohler, the IMF’s new boss, has been courting NGOs. Jim Wolfensohn, the Bank’s boss, has long fawned in their direction, but in the Bank too the pace of bowing down has been stepped up…. Mark Malloch Brown, the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, has gone further. He has a board of NGOs (including some fairly radical ones) to advise him…”

While the bulk of the participants at the WSF were Brazilian (67 per cent at WSF 2002), the largest non-Brazilian representation was of those who had funds, or who could be sponsored by those who had funds — not social movements, but NGOs and parliamentary parties. Inevitably, the bulk of the deliberations were ‘constructive’ in the sense that ATTAC uses that word. The ‘dialogue’ with the powers that rule the world has begun. World Bank president James Wolfensohn closed his message to the WSF 2003 with these words: “My colleagues and I have followed the debates of the last two World Social Forums, and we will discuss with interest the ideas and proposals that will emerge this year… We can work together much more closely.”

Who was excluded

While NGOs and political leaders of the existing system flooded the city’s five-star hotels, there were significant absences at the WSF. Given the charter’s bar on “political parties” and “military organisations”, it was inevitable that popular insurgencies would be barred from participation by the organisers of the WSF. “During the first WSF, FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who have been carrying on a long-standing armed struggle against the Colombian government; they are the main target of the US's massive Plan Colombia] received a lot of sympathy from some participants. In Brazil, relatively strong anti-US sentiments are often reflected in solidarity attitudes towards Colombian rebels. Unofficial moves were even afoot to recruit internationalist brigades to travel to Colombia.” However, for the second and third WSF meets, FARC representatives were not allowed to register as participants. The Zapatista fighters of Mexico, one of Latin America’s most prominent anti-`globalisation’ movements, too were excluded, presumably because they, like FARC, are an armed force.

The Cuban delegation too at WSF 2002 was not given an official status, nor given a prominent role. Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, battling intense US efforts at overthrowing his elected government, was not invited to WSF 2003. When he turned up nevertheless, he was not accorded space within the official Forum, despite his evident popularity among the participants.

Equally significant is the exclusion of an unarmed organisation, the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, an organisation of the mothers of those ‘disappeared’ by the Argentinian military dictatorship of 1976-83. The MST (the Brazilian Movement of the Landless), although formally on the Brazilian Organising Committee of the WSF, was unable to do anything about this exclusion of the Madres — a sign of who really calls the shots. The MST could only send an invitation to the Madres to attend in their personal capacity, along with an air ticket for the head of that organisation, Hebe Bonafini. We reproduce excerpts here from her speech at a mass rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after the WSF 2002:

“Comrades:

“We were in Porto Alegre on the occasion of the Second World Social Forum (WSF). More than 50,000 participated in this weeklong event. There were large numbers of people from all over the world, including thousands of youth.

“There were three different levels to this WSF. First, there were the small gatherings of those who were in charge, controlling things. They were led by the French, mainly from an association called ATTAC, and by others from a few other countries.

“Then there were all the commissions and seminars, where all the intellectuals, philosophers and thinkers participated.

“And then there were the rank-and-file folks. We participated at that level, and we discussed with all sorts of people. But the fact is that we were brought to the WSF so we could listen — not so the rank-and-file could participate.

“Fidel Castro was not invited to participate and nor were the FARC. That’s a shame. Nor were the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo invited.

“I went to Porto Alegre because I was invited in a personal capacity by the Landless Peasants Movement of Brazil, the MST. And it was important that I was there, because I, along with a few others, was one of the first ones to put forward our sharp criticisms of this World Social Forum.

“We said that `Social Democracy’ and `socialism’ are not the same thing. We said that the European Social Democracy had taken over and appropriated this WSF. We said that the French organizers [i.e., ATTAC] and their cohorts could, of course, participate in this process, but that they should not control it.

“We said that in our view, people had flocked to this WSF to fight and organize against globalization only to find out, when they arrived, that the organizers had staged the event so that all we were supposed to be talking about was `putting a human face’ on globalization.

“The people I spoke to heard a different message: I told them, in relation to Argentina, that we, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, had taken over the Plaza de Mayo — which is just in front of the President Palace in Buenos Aires — 25 years ago.

“And I said that today, taking up where we left off, hundreds of thousands of people are assembling regularly and are bringing down the new wave of country-selling presidents.”

Democracy at the WSF

Who decides who is to be invited and who not? While the WSF makes much of its commitment to openness and democracy, in fact its structure is opaque and undemocratic. According to Teivainen, an International Council member, “Formal decision-making power has been mainly in the hands of the Organising Committee (OC), consisting of the [PT-affiliated] Central Trade Union Confederation (CUT), the MST and six smaller Brazilian civil society organisations”. Of those six smaller “civil society organisations”, five are funded NGOs (Brazilian Association of NGOs; ATTAC; Justice and Peace Brazilian Committee; Global Justice Centre; and Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (IBASE). Teivainen points out that although CUT and MST are much larger in terms of membership, “Some of the participating Brazilian NGOs have better access to financial resources: for example, IBASE, a Rio-based research institute, has been an important fund-raiser for the WSF.”

The International Council for the WSF was founded in June 2001, and currently has 113 organisations (including the eight Brazilian OC members), though in practice many of them do not actively participate. As yet there is no clear division of labour and authority between the BOC and the IC. At any rate, as Teivainen, himself one of the IC members, states, “the WSF does not have internal procedures for collective democratic will-formation”.

Whether democratically or not, decisions are taken. The WSF structure is, we are told, “horizontal” — a large number of groups interacting without any centralising force. In fact, however, some force decides who will be invited and who not; who will be given prominence at the plenary sessions and press meets, and who will be consigned to the oblivion of a workshop. A “vertical” structure has scope for communication and representation from below to the top, whereas a pseudo-horizontal structure has scope for only top-down decisions by an inaccessible body — there is no scope for representation of the mass. Naomi Klein, a writer sympathetic to the mission of the WSF, writes: “The organizational structure of the forum was so opaque that it was nearly impossible to figure out how decisions were made or to find ways to question those decisions. There were no open plenaries and no chance to vote on the structure of future events. In the absence of a transparent process, fierce NGO brand wars were waged behind the scenes–about whose stars would get the most airtime, who would get access to the press and who would be seen as the true leaders of this movement.”

Hardly surprising, then, that the WSF sessions (as well as the Asian Social Forum held in January 2003 in Hyderabad) are being confronted by demonstrations outside their sessions. Twenty office-bearers of Brazilian unions (including of CUT) distributed an “Open Letter” to the WSF 2002, questioning the WSF, exposing the role of NGOs, and asking, “Is it possible to put a human face on globalisation and war?” Klein mentions how “the PSTU, a breakaway faction of the Workers Party, began interrupting speeches about the possibility of another world with loud chants of `Another world is not possible, unless you smash capitalism and bring in socialism!”

No less than three World Social Forums have taken place; they are only the beginning. The World Social Forum is a “permanent process”, one that is to spread to new parts of the world — the next “open meeting place” is to be held in India, and thereafter, presumably, in other uncharted lands. If one could quantify discussion, unprecedented quantities have been generated by the first three meets. Yet, in stark contrast to the movement to which it traces its birth, the WSF has not yielded a single action against imperialism. As its charter states, it is not a locus of power. However, in entangling many genuine forces fighting imperialism in its collective inaction, the WSF serves the purpose of imperialism.

II. WSF Mumbai 2004 and the NGO phenomenon in India

Buoyed by the success of the Porto Alegre meets, the WSF organisers have been trying systematically to expand the Forum’s influence even further. In the course of the last year they have organised an Argentina Social Forum meet in Buenos Aires, a European Social Forum in Florence, a Palestine Thematic Forum in Ramallah (on “negotiated solutions for conflicts”), an Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad, and an African Social Forum in Addis Ababa. It is as part of this “internationalisation” process that the WSF bodies (the Brazilian Organising Committee and the International Council) decided to hold the next WSF gathering not in Brazil, but in India.

The holding of the “Asian Social Forum” at Hyderabad on January 2-7, 2003, confirmed that such an event could be successfully held in India. Large funds were mobilised from foreign funding agencies for this event too, including from Ford Foundation, which is, as we have seen, one of the major funders of the WSF.

Just as in Brazil the WSF was initiated by ATTAC and PT, in India the WSF meet is being organised by an alliance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and leading cadre from certain political parties — in the main, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, along with their mass organisations of workers, students, peasants, and women. Certain mass organisations with close ties to NGOs are also involved. While these are the forces taking the initiative to organise the meet, and which are able to provide the full-time manpower to do so, a large number of other forces and individuals are likely to join the proceedings in one way or another, either as organisers of discussions or simply as participants.

Large requirement of funds

The foreign funding here, as in Porto Alegre, is of two types: first, the infrastructural funding which comes to the WSF central bodies; secondly, the funding for various participating organisations, which is much larger, but which is near-impossible to trace.

As for the first, the “Part Funding Policy” as adopted by the India General Council of the WSF at its April 7-8 2003 meeting at BTR Bhawan in Delhi, “Maximum international funds [are] to be raised and managed by IC/BOC (International Council/Brazilian Organising Council) as per their policy”. No principle is laid down here for what type of sources may be tapped, just as the WSF Charter is silent on this score. Apart from this, the Part Funding Policy says that “NRI’s [and] organisations other than funding organisations and individuals may be approached for contribution to solidarity fund.” The document “Project World Social Forum 2004″ (World Social Forum Secretariat — Brazilian Organising Committee and Indian Organising Committee) estimates that $2.5 million will have to be raised.

However, as mentioned above, this does not capture the full role of funding agencies. In fact “Project World Social Forum 2004″ estimates total expenditure for the event at $29.7 million (about Rs 135 crore), the bulk of which, $26.2 million, is the cost of the delegates’ participation (transportation, accommodation and food). Funding agencies would bear much of this cost, since an army of NGO functionaries and employees would be attending — nearly all of the country’s foreign-funded NGOs would be present, as well as many from abroad. The visits of many important personages too would be sponsored by NGOs. However, these sums would be disbursed directly to delegates without entering the WSF Secretariat accounts. The amount provided by foundations/funding agencies directly to the WSF Secretariat is a small fraction of such funds actually involved in the WSF meet (see Appendix II for some examples of this).

The NGO sector in India

Let us turn, then, to the activities of the NGOs — one of the two main forces organising the WSF in India. In Appendix I, we have discussed Ford Foundation’s activities at length because of its role as funder of the WSF, and also as a case study of foreign funding. The broad pattern displayed by the Ford Foundation holds for the entire NGO sector in India.

There are a number of sincere individuals working in NGOs or associated with NGOs. Many such persons are moved by a desire to reach some immediate assistance to needy people. Seen in specific contexts, they do in fact reach some relief to sections of people. Without questioning the commitment and genuineness of such individuals, our concern here is to point to the broader political significance of the NGO institutional phenomenon.

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed an extraordinary proliferation of foreign-funded NGOs in India: according to the Home Ministry, by the year 2000 nearly 20,000 organisations were registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, though only 13,800 of them submitted their accounts to the government as required. Total foreign funds received by these organisations rose from Rs 3,403 crore in 1998-99 to Rs 3,925 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 4,535 crore (about $993 million) in 2000-01.

Not a spontaneous social phenomenon

NGOs make out that they have spontaneously emerged from society, hence the earlier term `voluntary agency’ and the now-favoured term `civil society organisation’. In fact, however, international funding agencies (from which smaller NGOs in various countries in the third world receive their funds) depend heavily on funds from government, corporate and institutional sources. For example, according to the World Bank document “Report on Development: 2000-2001″, more than 70 per cent of projects approved by the World Bank in 1999 included the participation of NGOs and representatives of “civil society” — a single project aimed at bolstering NGOs over seven countries cost $900 million. The Bank assigned two of its functionaries to relations with NGOs and representatives of “civil society”; that figure has grown to 80 today. As for governmental support, another report puts funds to NGOs from advanced industrial countries other than the US at $2.3 billion in 1995; including the US, the figure would be much larger. As one writer puts it, “These gigantic sums reveal the hoax of presenting the rapid growth of NGOs as a `social phenomenon’.”

Why do multinational corporations, the imperialist governments, and institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations channel such funds to NGOs?

Indeed the extraordinary proliferation of NGOs serves imperialism in a variety of ways.

1. NGOs, especially those working to provide various services — health, education, nutrition, rural development — act as a buffer between the State and people. Many States find it useful to maintain the trappings of democracy even as they slash people’s most basic survival requirements from their budgets. NGOs come to the rescue by acting as the private contractors of the State, with the benefit that the State is absolved of all responsibilities. People cannot demand anything as a right from the NGOs: what they get from them is `charity’.

Till the 1980s, NGO activity in India was limited to `developmental’ activities — rural uplift, literacy, nutrition for women and children, small loans for self-employment, public health, and so on. This continues to be a major sphere of NGO activity — in 2000-01, Rs 970 crore, or 21 per cent of the total foreign funds, was designated for rural development, health and family welfare; other ‘developmental’ heads would have added to this figure.

But in what context are these ‘developmental’ activities taking place? In the basic context of enormous, conscious suppression of development. Under the guidance of the IMF and World Bank, successive Indian governments slashed their expenditure on rural development (including expenditure on agriculture, rural development, special areas programme, irrigation and flood control, village industry, energy and transport; the figures are for Centre and states combined) from 14.5 per cent of GDP in 1985-90 to 5.9 per cent in 2000-01. Rural employment growth is now flat; per capita foodgrains consumption has fallen dramatically to levels lower than the 1939-44 famine; the situation is calamitous. Were expenditure by Centre and states on rural development to have remained at the same percentage of GDP as in 1985-90, it would not have been Rs 124,000 crore in 2000-01, but Rs 305,000 crore, or more than two and a half times the actual amount.

In comparison with this giant spending gap, the sums being spent by NGOs in India are trivial. But, by their presence, the notion is conveyed all round that private organisations are stepping in to fill the gap left by the State. This is doubly useful to the rulers. The political propaganda of ‘privatisation’ is bolstered; and, as said before, people are unable to demand anything as their right. In effect, NGO activities help the State to whittle down even the existing meagre social claims that people have on the social product.

Thus NGOs are multiplied fastest where State policies — usually as part of an IMF/World Bank-directed policy — are withdrawing basic services such as food, health care, and education. The greater the devastation wreaked by the policy, the greater the proliferation of NGOs sponsored to help the victims. (Indeed, before the US prepares to invade a country, it funds and prepares leading NGOs to provide `relief’ after it has rained destruction. Thus in the second half of 2002 NGOs began cutting their spending on, and manpower deployed in, still-devastated Afghanistan — as part of their preparation to join the US caravan to Iraq.)

2. In the course of recruiting their manpower, the NGOs give employment and a small share of the cream to certain local persons. These persons might be locally influential persons, whose influence and operations then benefit the NGO. Or they might be vocal and restive persons, potential opponents of the authorities, who are in effect bought over. In either case, NGO employment, although tiny in comparison with the levels of unemployment in third world countries, serves as a network of local political influence, stabilising the existing order.

3. In the field of people’s movements, ‘activist’ or ‘advocacy’ NGOs help to redirect struggles of the people for basic change from the path of confrontation to that of negotiation, preserving the existing political frame. The World Bank explains in its “Report on Development” (cited above) its political reasons for promoting NGOs. It says: “Social tensions and divisions can be eased by bringing political opponents together within the framework of formal and informal forums and by channeling their energies through political processes, rather than leaving confrontation as the only form of release.” Thus ever since the early seventies Andhra Pradesh, a state with a strong tradition of revolutionary movements, has witnessed a massive proliferation of NGOs, and is indeed among the states receiving the maximum foreign NGO funds today.

NGOs bureaucratise people’s movements. Traditionally, people’s movements are self-reliant: they have to raise their own resources, and are led by representatives from among the people. These representatives, to one extent or another, thus have to be accountable to the people. By contrast, NGO-led movements, while claiming to represent the people, are led by officers of the NGOs, who are paid by funding agencies to carry on activity. Naturally, they are not accountable to the people, nor can they be removed by them; so they are also free to act without regard for people’s opinions. On the other hand, NGOs are accountable to their funders, and cannot afford to stray beyond certain bounds. Minus foreign and government funding, the entire NGO sector in India would collapse in a day.

Indeed, as NGOs proliferate and spread their wings, setting up funded adivasi organisations, dalit organisations, women’s organisations, ‘human rights’ organisations, cultural organisations, and organisations of unorganised labour, it is often NGOs that are the first to respond to any political or social issue — including ‘globalisation’ and its harmful effects. Political life itself is increasingly NGOised, that is, bureaucratised and alienated from popular presence and representation.

Ideological underpinnings

The foreign-funded NGO sector has, with remarkable uniformity, propagated certain political concepts. The first such, as we have mentioned in the case of Ford Foundation’s projects (see Appendix I), is the primacy of ‘identity’ — gender, ethnicity, caste, nationality — over class.

The ideological underpinnings, such as they are, of this trend are provided by what has come to be known as ‘post-modernism.’ This is an international intellectual current — now powerful, if not dominant, in social science academic institutions worldwide. Not its own strength as a school of thought, but the rich stream of funds and academic positions flowing to it, has ensured post-modernists institutional dominance — an echo of what Ford Foundation did in the 1950s.

Although ‘post-modernism’ is not really systematic thought, and so is difficult to pin down and refute, the following is an important strand of it, and the one that is relevant for the topic we are discussing here. This strand argues against any worldview which attempts (however approximately or tentatively) to comprehend all of reality in an integrated fashion. The post-modernists argue that such a worldview imposes its project on other realities. Instead, this strand posits that there are any number of realities, equally valid, and that the very tools of analysis for these realities differ.

Class analysis and post-modernism produce sharply contrasting analyses of social phenomena, which have sharply differing implications for the practice of social movements. Class analysis argues that, for example, the vast majority of women have an objective, material basis to join their movement with those of other sections (including dalits, adivasis, workers, and so on) in a struggle against the existing social order; that women’s liberation is tied up with (though a distinct sphere of) such a broader struggle; that male chauvinist attitudes of, say, male workers are against all workers’ own long-term interest; and that such attitudes have to be fought by making ruling class influences the target, not ordinary workers as such.

Post-modernism, however, considers such a view “reductionist” (the term used in the World Social Forum Charter). Rather, post-modernism places all struggles on par, with class as just another social category jostling with gender, ethnicity, nationality, and so on for attention. Post-modernism thus rules out the possibility of united action by various social sections on the basis of common objective interests; rather, it talks of varying coalitions/alliances of forces, joining hands to one extent or another for specific aims.

The post-modernist approach implies that members of the same coalition might be pitted against each other in some other respect — for example, male workers and women might join hands in a particular cause, but remain antagonists on gender issues. This in turn implies that no clear line can be drawn between the “camp of the people” and the camp of those who are responsible for exploitation and oppression of people. Both camps are open to all.

When male workers, who (in post-modernist eyes) are the target of struggle by women, can be part of the World Social Forum in which women’s organisations too participate, nothing need prevent industrialists from joining the Forum along with workers. Nothing, for that matter, prevents a UN delegation attending the Forum, or a prominent member of the Forum dashing off to attend the World Economic Forum as well. All of them — the workers and the capitalists, the protester and the World Bank functionary — are part of what the post-modernists call `civil society’. (Thus the April 2002 Bhopal declaration of WSF India clarifies that the WSF “must make space” not only “for workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, dalits, women, hawkers, minorities, immigrants, students, academicians, artisans, artists and other members of the creative world, professionals”, but also for “the media, and for local businessmen and industrialists, as well as for parliamentarians, sympathetic bureaucrats and other concerned sections from within and outside the state”. — emphasis added. The word “state” is used here in the sense of the organ of established political authority.)

The aim of class analysis is to strive for a social system worldwide which eliminates all exploitation and oppression. Whatever the specific and tortuous path the different contingents of humanity may have to traverse in different countries to get there, it is a common project of the people of the world.

Post-modernism rejects such an approach. Edward Herrman describes it succinctly as follows:

An important element of the intellectual trend called ‘postmodernism’ is the repudiation of global models of social analysis and global solutions, and their replacement with a focus on local and group differences and the ways in which ordinary individuals adapt to and help reshape their environments. Its proponents often present themselves as populists, hostile to the elitism of modernists, who, on the basis of `essentialist’ and ‘totalizing’ theories, suggest that ordinary people are being manipulated and victimized on an unlevel playing field.

Emerging as a political ‘alternative’

Naturally, this school of post-modernism implies that no single political force can represent the common long-term interests of all sections of the people in a country. Along the same lines, NGOs and various funded intellectuals in India have since the early 1980s advanced the notion of a “non-party political process”. It is this understanding that lies behind the World Social Forum’s hypocritical bar on the participation of political parties.

If the bar on political parties were in order to allow mass organisations and mass movements to occupy centre stage, one could understand the rationale. In fact it is the contrary. Political parties actually do take part in the WSF, appearing as ‘individuals’ — as can be seen by the leading role of PT in the Brazil WSF meets and the droves of parliamentarians who attended those gatherings. The point here is the ideological concept that post-modernists/NGO theorists strain hard to propagate: Namely, that any single political force aiming to represent all sections of the people amounts to an imposition on the tapestry of different groups or ways of being.

Indeed, for those who run the existing order, it is vital to ensure the absence of any coherent political force which can integrate the myriad sections in opposition against that order.

While NGOs thus oppose the concept of a single political party leading various sections of the people, they themselves are emerging as a single political force in their own right. They have unanimity on most issues. Their explicitly political activities span a wide range of social sections: they run organisations of women, adivasis, dalits, unorganised workers, fishermen, and slumdwellers; they also run organisations for the protection of the environment, cultural organisations, and human rights organisations (indeed, much admirable work in providing relief to the victims of the Gujarat massacres, and documentation of the crimes there, has been done by NGOs).

Till now, however, NGOs by and large have not been treated as a legitimate political force by the traditional mass organisations — the trade unions, peasant unions, student organisations, women’s organisations. And it continues to be the case that the mass organisations command much greater capacity to mobilise masses of people. Through platforms such as the World Social Forum now, NGOs are being provided an opportunity to legitimise themselves as a political force and expand their influence among sections to which they earlier had little access.

CPI(M)’s earlier stand

One of the early critiques of NGO politics and practice in India was written in 1988 by an important CPI(M) activist, now a politburo member, Prakash Karat; it first appeared in the CPI(M)’s theoretical journal, The Marxist. Titled Foreign Funding and the Philosophy of Voluntary Organisations, the publication describes in some detail this phenomenon, and gathers various data and anecdotal information on the topic, and points to what it considers to be its dangers.

Karat stated his thesis in brief as follows:

“There is a sophisticated and comprehensive strategy worked out in imperialist quarters to harness the forces of voluntary agencies/action groups to their strategic design to penetrate Indian society and influence its course of development. It is the imperialist ruling circles which have provided through their academic outfits the political and ideological basis for the outlook of a substantial number of these proliferating groups in India. By providing liberal funds to these groups, imperialism has created avenues to penetrate directly vital sections of Indian society and simultaneously use this movement as a vehicle to counter and disrupt the potential of the Left movement…. The CPI(M) and the Left forces have to take serious note of this arm of imperialist penetration while focussing on the instruments and tactics of imperialism. An ideological offensive to rebut the philosophy propagated by these groups is urgently necessary as it tends to attract petty bourgeois youth imbued with idealism.” (pp 2-3)

Karat argued that the new seemingly ‘activist’ stance adopted by the NGOs was a sophisticated imperialist strategy: “…along with the funding for the second phase [ie of 'activism' by NGOs] came the ideological package also. For how else can one explain the strange spectacle of imperialist agencies and governments funding organisations to organise the rural and urban poor to fight for their rights and against exploitation?” (p. 8)

In the course of the critique Karat mentioned several of the same foundations which have been funding the World Social Forum and affiliated activities — ICCO-Netherlands; Friedrich Ebert Foundation; NOVIB; Ford Foundation; Canadian International Development Agency; and Oxfam. “It would be no exaggeration to say that the whole voluntary agencies/action groups network is maintained and nurtured by funds from western capitalist countries. The scale of funding and the vast amounts involved are so striking that it is surprising that this has not become a matter of urgent public debate in this country…. This open access to foreign funds allowed by the Government of India has become one of the major sources of imperialist penetration financially in the country.” (p. 34)

He ended with a call for political struggle:

“The Left should treat all action groups (ie those directly involved in mobilisation and organisation of the people) as political entities. All those organisations receiving foreign funds are automatically suspect and must be screened to clear their bonafides.” (p. 64)

“The widest campaign has to be built up to force the Government of India to abandon its present posture of allowing free flow of foreign funds on the grounds that it contributes to the foreign exchange fund. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act which allows such massive penetration of imperialist funds will have to be further amended to ensure: All voluntary organisations which claim to organise people for whatever form of political activity should be included in the list of organisations (just as political parties) which are prohibited for receiving foreign funds…. Most urgent is the necessity for a sustained ideological campaign against the eclectic and pseudo-radical postures of action groups.” (pp 64-65)

Indeed, he proudly states that “it is well known that it is the CPI(M) cadres and activists who have been in the lead all over the country in exposing the designs of foreign-funded voluntary work as they are clear about its implications”. (p. 60)

Sharp turnaround

Such was the official CPI(M) stand in 1988. Drastic changes appear to have taken place since the end of the eighties. In a number of forums, CPI(M) members and NGOs now cooperate and share costs — for example, at the People’s Health Conference held in Kolkata in 2002, the Asian Social Forum held in Hyderabad in January 2003, or the World Social Forum to be held in Mumbai in January 2004. Further, CPI(M) ideologues appear to be developing theoretical justifications for their stand, as can be seen from the following excerpt from a Frontline interview with Dr Thomas Isaac, CPI(M) MLA, former member of the State Planning Board in charge of decentralisation:

“Interviewer: There is criticism against the role of NGOs too, like the one you have floated in your constituency, as being that of ‘agents of globalisation and economic imperialism’ and the seemingly anti-globalisation struggles and programmes they are organising as being a clever strategy to promote essentially imperialist interests.

“Isaac: There is no doubt that there is a larger imperialist strategy to utilise the so-called voluntary sector to influence civil society in Third World countries. But you have also got to realise that there are also NGOs and a large number of similar civil society organisations and formations that are essential ingredients of any social structure. Therefore, while being vigilant about the imperialist designs, we have to distinguish between civil society organisations that are pro-imperialist and pro-globalisation and those that are not….

Isaac went on to blur the distinction between the Seattle-stream of protests and the World Social Forum:

“And today the world reality, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the world revolutionary process is assuming new organisational forms of struggle. The best exhibition of this is the spontaneous mass protests against the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, their conferences and also the anti-war movements that sprung up recently. Only those who are unaware of these divergent trends in the world today would claim that the World Social Forum and the anti-war movement are part of an imperialist conspiracy. They do not understand the contemporary world revolutionary process.”

In fact, quite to the contrary: the WSF is intended, among other things, precisely to co-opt the “new organisational forms of struggle” that arose around the Seattle protests. This is what we have tried to show at some length above.

CPI(M) — an opponent of globalisation?

While it is a turnaround from the stand of 1988, the new stand of CPI(M) on NGOs is not wholly surprising. Opposition to foreign-funded NGOs makes sense only as part of a broader opposition to imperialism. The CPI(M) is, no doubt, an opposition party nationwide, one which criticises the Central Government’s submission to the dictates of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and the multinational corporations those institutions represent. But the CPI(M) is also a ruling party periodically in Kerala and continuously in West Bengal; one which actively invites foreign investment, negotiates large foreign loans with the Asian Development Bank, represses labour organisations, privatises public sector units, hikes electricity charges, and so on. In other words, it is carrying out the measures labeled `globalisation’.

The new chief minister of West Bengal, back from his recent trip to Italy to solicit investment from Gucci and other Italian firms, is now busy conferring with multinationals and Indian corporates to participate in his planned Kolkata global festival “to change the perception of the city in the eyes of outsiders”. Speaking to industrialists in Mumbai, he rushed to clarify, first, that the CPI(M) has not called for a boycott of American goods in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq, and that his government wanted not only Indian private companies but also foreign firms to invest in his state; and secondly, that labour militancy in Bengal was no longer a problem — indeed there “strikes and labour problems are much less than Maharashtra”. The CPI(M)-affiliated trade union centre, CITU, he assured them, “is aware that there would be no jobs if there are no industries.” The West Bengal government has issued advertisements for the privatisation of nine state public sector units: the pompous term used is “joint venture transformation through induction of strategic partners”, involving “transfer of equity stake ranging from 51 per cent to 74 per cent with management control”; the government is “open to considering the requisite extent of manpower restructuring and waiver of outstanding financial liabilities as may be necessary for ensuring their sustainable viability”. The financial adviser to the privatisation is the multinational Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

On the West Bengal chief minister’s table lies the report of the American consultancy firm, McKinsey (which his government commissioned in October 2001) on the prospects of agriculture-based industries and information technology-based industries in the state. McKinsey proposes that 41 per cent of the state’s arable land should be diverted from rice to vegetable and fruit cash crops; large agro-based corporations should be attracted to the state; laws should be altered to allow contract farming; and by the end of the decade the state should aim its agro-based products at the international market. “This initiative is aimed at attracting national and multinational investors to the state. McKinsey has already established contacts with several such investors. We have received a good response from them. Now our plans and efforts should be commensurate with their requirements and demands.”

World Social Forum — instrument of struggle?

In the preceding we have into some detail regarding the funding of the WSF and the nature of its participating organisations in order to present various specific aspects of this phenomenon. However, in the final analysis, the test of the World Social Forum is not merely how it is funded or the character of some of the leading/participating organisations or individuals, nor even its exclusion of various forces. After all, many forums in the world today have various limitations, and to abandon them all for their imperfections would cripple the forces struggling for change. The real test of any such forum is its actual political role, its relation to people’s struggles against the current imperialist onslaught: has it advanced them? Or has it diverted fighting forces to a dead-end?

The advocates of the WSF say it has given an impetus to struggle. This is not so. As we have tried to show, the vibrant protest movement gave an impetus to struggle. The people’s movements and upsurges of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador gave an impetus to struggle. The World Social Forum has simply given an impetus to the next World Social Forum, and the next.

The WSF’s real relation to anti-imperialist struggle is starkly revealed by its organisers’ conduct at the Asian Social Forum meet in Hyderabad in January 2003. Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh, which, apart from being one of the top recipients of NGO funds in India, is also marked by two other features.

First, the state government is perhaps the most active `globaliser’ in the country. In 1998, the state government directly negotiated a $500 million World Bank loan, which came tied with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Restructuring Programme (APERP). The APERP dictated the dismantling of the state electricity board, the inviting of private investment in power, and increasing electricity tariffs. It also dictated the hiking of water cesses for peasants; college fees; bus fares; and public hospital charges. It ordered all-round privatisation. The state government has been implementing this programme, undeterred by the massive suffering caused, the waves of starvation deaths, the thousands of suicides of peasants unable to repay their debts. When people’s organisations protested the electricity tariff hike, the Hyderabad police responded by massacring the protesters.

Indeed, the second feature, a necessary accompaniment to the first, is that state terror in Andhra Pradesh is at its zenith. The A.P. police is given fat financial rewards for routinely and cold-bloodedly murdering hundreds of the government’s political opponents in fake `encounters’. The targets have not been restricted to the members of revolutionary groups, but have been systematically extended to all those who do not submit to the reign of terror; a special target has been civil liberties activists.

The Asian Social Forum gathering at Hyderabad, with its myriad panel discussions, press meets, and public procession, did not speak a word about this armed ‘globalisation’ being carried out by Chandrababu Naidu. Evidently the organisers had negotiated terms with the government. In fact, at the same time as the ASF meet, Naidu and the deputy prime minister of India (the chief architect of the demolition of the Babri Masjid) L.K. Advani, were holding an investment conference in Hyderabad itself. Some dalit groups organised a protest against Naidu’s event, but the ASF, with its tens of thousands of participants at hand in the same city, maintained a studied silence.

The contrast with the Seattle demonstrations could hardly be sharper. The real political role of the WSF could hardly be clearer.

Appendix I:

Ford Foundation — A Case Study of the Aims of Foreign Funding

“Someday someone must give the American people a full report of the work of the Ford Foundation in India. The several million dollars in total Ford expenditures in the country do not tell one-tenth of the story.” — Chester Bowles (former US ambassador to India).

In the light of the steady flow of funds from Ford Foundation to the World Social Forum, it is worth exploring the background of this institution — its operations internationally, and in India. This is significant both in itself and as a case study of such agencies.

Ford Foundation (FF) was set up in 1936 with a slender tax-exempt slice of the Ford empire’s profits, but its activities remained local to the state of Michigan. In 1950, as the US government focussed its attention on battling the ‘communist threat’, FF was converted into a national and international foundation.

Ford and the CIA

The fact is that the US Central Intelligence Agency has long operated through a number of philanthropic foundations; most prominently Ford Foundation. In James Petras’ words, the Ford-CIA connection “was a deliberate, conscious joint effort to strengthen US imperial cultural hegemony and to undermine left-wing political and cultural influence.” Frances Stonor Saunders, in a recent work on the period, states that “At times it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The Foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects.”

Richard Bissell, head of the Foundation during 1952-54, consulted frequently with Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA; he left the Foundation to become special assistant to Dulles at the CIA. Bissell was replaced by John McCloy as head of FF. His distinguished career before that included posts as the Assistant Secretary of War, president of the World Bank, High Commissioner of occupied Germany, chairman of Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank, and Wall Street attorney for the big seven oil corporations. McCloy intensified CIA-Ford collaboration, creating an administrative unit within the Foundation specifically to liaise with the CIA, and personally heading a consultation committee with the CIA to facilitate the use of FF for a cover and conduit of funds. In 1966, McGeorge Bundy, till then special assistant to the US president in charge of national security, became head of FF.

It was a busy collaboration between the CIA and the Foundation. “Numerous CIA ‘fronts’ received major FF grants. Numerous supposedly `independent’ CIA sponsored cultural organizations, human rights groups, artists and intellectuals received CIA/FF grants. One of the biggest donations of the FF was to the CIA-organized Congress for Cultural Freedom which received $ seven million by the early 1960s. Numerous CIA operatives secured employment in the FF and continued close collaboration with the Agency.”

The FF objective, according to Bissell, was “not so much to defeat the leftist intellectuals in dialectical combat (sic) as to lure them away from their positions.” Thus FF funneled CIA funds to the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) in the 1950s; one of the CCF’s most celebrated activities was the stellar intellectual journal Encounter. A large number of intellectuals were ready to be so lured. CIA-FF went so far as to encourage specific artistic trends such as Abstract Expressionism as a counter to art reflecting social concerns.

The CIA’s infiltration of US foundations in general was massive. A 1976 Select Committee of the US Senate discovered that during 1963-66, of 700 grants each of over $10,000 given by 164 foundations, at least 108 were partially or wholly CIA-funded. According to Petras, “The ties between the top officials of the FF and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing. A review of recently funded projects reveals that the FF has never funded any major project that contravenes U.S. policy.”

Such experiences ought to have alerted intellectuals and various political forces to the dangers of being bankrolled by such sources.

FF states (on the webpage of its New Delhi office) that from its inception to the year 2000 it had provided $7.5 billion in grants, and in 1999 its total endowment was in the region of $13 billion. It also claims that it “receives no funding from governments or any other outside sources”, but the reality, as we have seen, is otherwise.

Ford in India

The FF New Delhi office webpage claims that “At the invitation of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Foundation established an office in India in 1952.” In fact Chester Bowles, US ambassador to India from 1951, initiated the process. Like the rest of the US foreign policy establishment, Bowles was profoundly shocked at the “loss” of China (ie the nationwide coming to power of the communists in 1949). Linked to this was his acute worry at the inability of the Indian army to suppress the communist-led peasant armed struggle in Telangana (1946-51) “until the communists themselves changed their programme of violence”. Indian peasants expected that now, with the British Raj gone, their long-standing demand for land to the tiller would be implemented, and that pressure continued everywhere in India even after the withdrawal of the Telangana struggle.

Bowles wrote to Paul Hoffman, then president of FF: “the conditions may improve in China while the Indian situation remains stagnant…. If such a contrast developed during the next four or five years, and if the Chinese continued their moderate and plausible approach without threatening the northern Indian boundary…. the growth of communism in India might be very great. The death or retirement of Nehru might then be followed by a chaotic situation out of which another potentially strong communist nation might be born.” Hoffman shared these concerns, and stressed the need for a powerful Indian State: “A strong central government must be established…. The hardcore of communists must be kept under control…. The prime minister Pandit Nehru greatly needs understanding, sympathy and help from the people and governments of other free [sic] nations.”

The New Delhi office was soon set up, and, says FF, “was the Foundation’s first program outside the United States, and the New Delhi office remains the largest of its field office operations”. It also covers Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“The fields of activity suggested [by the US State Department] for the Ford Foundation”, writes George Rosen, “were felt to be too sensitive for a foreign (American) government agency to work in…. South Asia rapidly came to the fore as an area for possible foundation activity… Both India and Pakistan were on the rim of China and seemed threatened by communism. They appeared to be important in terms of American policy….” FF acquired extraordinary power over the Indian Plans. Rosen says that “From the 1950s to the early 1960s the foreign expert often had greater authority than the Indian”, and FF and the (FF/CIA-funded) MIT Center for International Studies operated as “quasi-official advisers to the Planning Commission”. Bowles writes that “Under the leadership of Douglas Ensminger, the Ford staff in India became closely associated with the Planning Commission which administers the Five Year Plan. Wherever there was a gap, they filled it, whether it was agricultural, health education or administration. They took over, financed and administered the crucial village-level worker training schools.”

Ford Foundation intervention in Indian agriculture

Given the background of the Chinese revolution and the Telangana struggle, the US priority in India was to find ways to head off agrarian unrest. Thus the first phase of FF’s work was in `rural development’. FF was intimately involved in the Indian government’s Community Development Programme (CDP), which Nehru hailed “as a model for meeting the revolutionary threats from left-wing and communist peasant movements demanding basic social reforms in agriculture.” The scheme was to carry out agricultural development with some funds from the Programme and voluntary village labour, thus bringing about what Nehru described as a “peaceful revolution”. At the Indian government’s invitation, FF helped train 35,000 village workers for the CDP. By 1960 the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations had between them extended over $50 million on the CDP alone. And by 1971, India, with grants totalling $104 million, was by far the largest recipient of grant aid from the Ford Foundation’s Overseas Development Programme. However, such cosmetic efforts neither brought about development nor solved the problem of simmering peasant discontent.

In 1959, a team led by a US department of agriculture economist produced the Ford Foundation’s Report on India’s Food Crisis and Steps to Meet It. In place of institutional change (ie redistribution of land and other rural assets) as the key-stone to agricultural development, this report stressed technological change (improved seeds, chemical fertilisers, and pesticides) in small, already irrigated, pockets. This was the `Green Revolution’ strategy. Ford even funded the Intensive Agricultural Development Programme (IADP) as a test case of the strategy, providing rich farmers in irrigated areas with subsidised inputs, generous credit, price incentives, and so on. The World Bank too put its weight behind this strategy.

Soon it was adopted by the Indian government, with far-reaching effects. Agricultural production of rice and wheat in the selected pockets grew immediately. Talk of land reform, tenancy reform, abolition of usury, and so on were more or less dropped from official agenda (never to return). But the initial spectacular growth rates eventually slowed. On the average agricultural production all-India has grown more slowly after the Green Revolution than before, and in much of the country per capita agricultural output has stagnated or fallen. Today even the Green Revolution pockets are facing stagnation in yields.

However, the Green Revolution was successful in another sense: it yielded a large market for foreign firms selling either inputs or the technology to manufacture those inputs.

Shift to funding NGO ‘activism’

Since 1972 there has been a shift in FF’s activities in India. Earlier FF had a large staff, focussing on agriculture and rural development, providing technical assistance in these fields and directly implementing its projects. Now FF’s developmental activities continue under the heading “asset-building and community development” (Ford claims that it is responsible for introducing the concept of “micro-lending” in India, now eagerly embraced by the Reserve Bank), but it has added two other heads: “peace and social justice” and “education, media, arts and culture”. This is in line with changes in foundation/funding agency policy worldwide, whereby, since the late 1970s, a new breed of ‘activist’ NGOs, engaging in social and political activity, have been systematically promoted. Among Ford’s “peace and social justice” goals are the promotion of human rights, especially those of women; ensuring open and accountable government institutions; strengthening “civil society through the broad participation of individuals and civic organisations in charting the future”, and supporting regional and international cooperation.

Over the period 1952-2002, FF New Delhi office, the first and oldest of FF’s 13 overseas offices, has distributed $450 million in grants. At a press conference to mark the fiftieth anniversary of FF in India, the foundation’s India representative said that it was launching a new Rs 220 crore ($45 million) funding programme — twice the usual annual allocation — and committing substantial funds to disadvantaged groups such as adivasis, dalits and women. “Asked if the shift in focus [from FF's traditional activities in rural development] was prompted by the inequalities caused by the Indian government’s economic policies of globalisation and liberalisation, he said there was no question of getting away from globalisation but it had brought some concern also. The projects would, therefore, act as a corrective measure to offset the adverse impact of uncontrolled market forces.”

This is precisely the language of the World Bank and IMF: their answer to “uncontrolled market forces” is not to control them, but to set up tiny well-publicised safety nets to catch a handful from among the masses of people thrown out by market forces.

Further, FF would specifically ensure that people’s struggles against the government do not take the course of confrontation: “While admitting that several of the voluntary organisations benefitting from the funding programme could be in confrontation with the government when they were working on issues such as welfare of Adivasis, he said the Foundation did not believe in conflict with the government. The attempt was to complement and cooperate with the efforts of the government.”

Ford has chosen to focus on three particularly oppressed sections of Indian society — adivasis, dalits, and women. All three are potentially important components of a movement for basic change in Indian society; indeed, some of the most militant struggles in recent years have been waged by these sections. However, FF takes care to treat the problems of each of these sections as a separate question, to be solved by special “promotion of rights and opportunities”. Since FF’s funds are negligible in relation to the size of the social problems themselves, the benefits of its projects flow to a small vocal layer among these sections. These are persons who might otherwise have led their fellow adivasis, dalits and women on the path of “confrontation with the government” in order to bring about basic change, change for all. Instead special chairs in dalit studies will be funded at various institutions; women will be encouraged to focus solely on issues such as domestic violence rather than ruling class/State violence; adivasis will be encouraged to explore their identity at seminars; and things will remain as they are.

Appendix II:

Funds for the World Social Forum

The WSF is not transparent regarding the sources of its funding. Moreover, given the structure of the WSF, where a number of organisations carry on activities semi-autonomously, it is near-impossible to trace the funding provided to all activities by all funding agencies.

A. Funds for the WSF Secretariat

Certain funds are provided directly to the WSF as a body. The following list, available on the WSF website (www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/main.asp?id menu=2&cd language=2), does not provide a break-up by amount:

WSF Partners WSF 2001:

Droits et Démocratie — a foundation run by the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ford Foundation

Heinrich Boll Foundation — of the German Greens party, a partner of the ruling coalition in Germany, whose leader, Germany’s foreign minister, was an active supporter of the wars on Yugoslavia and Afghanistan

ICCO — an inter-church organisation, funded by the Netherlands government and the European Union

Le Monde Diplomatique

Oxfam

RITS – Rede de Informações para o Terceiro Setor

The state government of Rio Grande de Sul

The city government of Porto Alegre

WSF Partners WSF 2002:

RITS, EED, CCFD, NOVIB, OXFAM GB, Centro Norte Sul, ACTIONAID, ICCO, FUNDAÇÃO FORD, Governo do Estado de Rio Grande do Sul, Prefeitura de Porto Alegre, Procergs, World Forum for Alternatives.

B. Funding for WSF participants

In fact the financial role of the funding agencies is much larger than would be reflected in their contributions to the WSF as such. For the same agencies also funded various organisations which attended the WSF, and staged activities there. For example, the following list is from the Ford Foundation website database:

1. Ford Foundation Grants to WSF and Related Operations (from the Ford Foundation website database; apparently does not include current funding)

The following grants have been given as part of Ford’s “Asset Building and Community Development Program”, which “supports efforts to reduce poverty and injustice by helping to build the financial, natural, social, and human assets of low-income individuals and communities.”

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs

Purpose: For the 2003 World Social Forum, where civil society organizations develop social and economic alternatives to current patterns of globalization, based on human rights and sustainable development

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Governance and Civil Society

Subject: Civil Society

Amount: $500,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=106054

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs

Purpose: Support for the organization of the first World Social Forum Meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil in January 2001

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Governance and Civil Society

Subject: Civil Society

Amount: $100,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=107383

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs

Purpose: To hold a seminar on international mechanisms for the protection of human rights during the second World Social Forum

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Human Rights

Subject: Human Rights

Amount: $40,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=112616

Organization: Brazilian Consumer Defense Institute

Purpose: For a multimedia public information campaign at the World Social Forum and the Pan-Amazonian Social Forum

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Asset Building and Community Development

Unit: Community and Resource Development

Subject: Environment and Development

Amount: $30,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=106056

Organization: Feminist Studies and Assistance Center

Purpose: To coordinate a campaign against fundamentalist dogmas during thesecond World Social Forum

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Human Rights

Subject: Human Rights

Amount: $65,600

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=113190

Organization: Internews Interactive, Inc.

Purpose: For the Bridge Initiative on Globalization, a collaboration with television agency Article Z, to provide a means of communication for participants in the World Social Forum and World Economic Forum

Location: SAN RAFAEL, CA

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Governance and Civil Society

Subject: Civil Society

Amount: $153,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=106245

2. Sponsors of the World Social Forum media centre

Another example of indirect funding: the WSF media centre, given below.

(source: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/esf.htm )

The “independent” media centre Ciranda was sponsored by Le Monde Diplomatique and IPS, Inter Press Services (IPS). IPS itself is sponsored by:

* Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

* Carl-Duisberg-Gesellschaft – CDG (Germany)

* Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (USA)

* Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* European Commission

* Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

* Ford Foundation (USA)

* Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – FES (Germany)

* German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ)

* Group of 77, G77

* International Labour Organisation – ILO

* Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (USA)

* Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation, Novib

* North-South Centre (Council of Europe)

* Norwegian Agency for Development – NORAD

* Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Student Union, Helsinki University

* Swedish International Development

* Cooperation Agency – SIDA

* U.N. Children´s Fund – UNICEF

* U.N. Development Fund for Women – UNIFEM

* U.N. Development Programme – UNDP

* UNESCO

* U.N. Environment Programme – UNEP

* U.N. Population Fund – UNFPA

* W. Alton Jones Foundation (USA)

3. Other sources of funds

At the first World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, the elected officials present agreed to constitute an International Network of Members of Parliament to advance the goals of the WSF. Francis Wurtz, chairperson of the United Left in the European Parliament, revealed that “The principle was adopted that the European Parliament would take responsibility for the coordination of all technical aspects of the Parliamentary Network, including its financing.”

The extent of coordination among the WSF funders is clear from the following passage from the website of the US-based “Funders Network on Trade and Globalization”:

“World Social Forum Funder Conference: FNTG initiated and has been helping to organize and co-host (with Ford and Veatch) a funder conference in New York on June 12 [2002] at the Ford Foundation. The convening, which brought together over 60 funders from NY and beyond, highlighted the work of the WSF, but also encouraged funders to support the participation of relevant US and non-US grantees at this annual forum, and the development of alternative strategies for equitable and sustainable development in the US and around the world.

Statement of Professor Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law, NYU School of Law, former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions (2004-2010), and author of a report on targeted killings submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2010:

The United States’ assertion of an ever-expanding but ill-defined license to commit targeted killings against individuals around the globe, without accountability, does grave damage to the international legal frameworks designed to protect the right to life. Targeted killing — defined as the intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force, by a state or its agents acting under color of law, against a specific individual who is not in the perpetrator’s custody — is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Targeted killing is usually legal only in armed conflict situations when used against combatants or fighters, or civilians who directly engage in combat-like activities, and international law requires that any state that uses targeted killing must demonstrate that its actions comply with the laws of war.

To comply with its accountability obligations, the United States should disclose when and where it has authorized its forces, including the Central Intelligence Agency, to kill, the criteria for individuals who may be killed, how the U.S. Government ensures killings are legal, and what follow-up there is when civilians are illegally killed. Disclosure of these basic legal determinations is the very essence of accountability, but the United States has so far failed to meet this requirement. Instead, it has claimed a broad and novel theory that there is a ‘law of 9/11′ that enables it to legally use force in the territory of other States as part of its inherent right to self-defence on the basis that it is in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and undefined ‘associated forces’. This expansive and open-ended interpretation of the right to self-defence threatens to destroy the prohibition on the use of armed force contained in the UN Charter, which is essential to the international rule of law. If other states were to claim the broad-based authority that the United States does, to kill people anywhere, anytime, the result would be chaos. The serious challenges posed by terrorism are undeniable, but the fact that enemies do not play by the rules does not mean that the U.S. Government can unilaterally re-interpret them or cast them aside. The credibility of the U.S. Government’s claim that it has turned the page on previous wrongdoing and seeks to uphold the rule of law in its actions against alleged ‘terrorists’ is called into question by its targeted killing policy.

See complete United Nation’s Report by Professor Alson, et al (pdf)

Targeted Killings

September 5th, 2010 by ACLU

The United States has reportedly initiated a targeted killing program under which the CIA and the military have the authority to hunt and kill individuals, including U.S. citizens, far away from the battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and even the Pakistani border regions, and potentially anywhere in the world. The program operates without any checks and balances; all of the essential details about the program remain secret. We do not know what criteria are used to put people on the “kill lists” maintained by the CIA and military, how much evidence is required to add a person to the lists, or whether there are any geographical limits on where individuals can be targeted. The President has, in effect, claimed the unchecked authority to put the names of citizens and others on “kill lists” on the basis of a secret determination, based on secret evidence, that a person meets a secret definition of the enemy.

It is not enough for the government to say “trust us” when it comes to authorizing the CIA to hunt and kill U.S. citizens and others all over the world. Over the last eight years, we have seen the government over and over again detain men as “terrorists,” only to discover later that the evidence was weak, wrong, or non-existent. Of the many hundreds of individuals previously imprisoned in the so-called “war on terror,” the vast majority have been released or are awaiting release because the government’s secret evidence against them could not withstand scrutiny. These types of mistakes are even more unacceptable when the consequence is death.

Furthermore, outside of armed conflict zones, the use of lethal force is strictly limited by international law and, when it comes to U.S. citizens, the Constitution. Specifically, lethal force can be used only against an imminent threat to life and, even then, only as genuine last resort once other alternatives have been exhausted. A program under which names are added to a “kill list” after a secret bureaucratic process and remain there for months is clearly not limited to imminent threats.

While it has been reported that at least 3 U.S. citizens have been put on the government’s targeted killing list, the identity of only one of those people has been reported: Anwar al-Aulaqi. In early July, the ACLU and co-counsel the Center for Constitutional Rights were retained by Nasser al-Aulaqi — Anwar al-Aulaqi’s father — to provide uncompensated legal representation in order to mount a constitutional challenge. The ACLU and CCR were originally prevented from bringing this challenge, however, by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). On July 16, 2010, many months after the government had made clear its intention to kill Anwar al-Aulaqi, OFAC undertook to freeze his assets. These rules did not just freeze Aulaqi’s assets; they made it illegal for any attorney to provide “legal services” on his behalf without first obtaining a license. In other words, the same government that is seeking to kill a U.S. citizen took steps to prohibit attorneys from testing the legality of the government’s decision to kill him.  The ACLU and CCR sued the Treasury Department over the denial of the license, and the next day it was granted.

On August 30, the ACLU and CCR filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s asserted authority to carry out “targeted killings” of U.S. citizens located far from any armed conflict zone. The ACLU believes that the executive branch’s claimed authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on U.S. citizens and others found far from any actual battlefield violates both the Constitution and international law.

The ACLU has also filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding that the government disclose basic information about the use of drones to conduct targeted killings. The lawsuit seeks disclosure of the legal basis, scope, and limits on the targeted killing program; information about internal oversight of the program; and data about the number of civilians and non-civilians killed in drone strikes.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, American taxpayers have been bailing out foreign banks for years.

For example, I noted in May:

As the Wall Street Journal points out, the Federal Reserve might open up its “swap lines” again to bail out the Europeans:

The Fed is considering whether to reopen a lending program put in place during the financial crisis in which it shipped dollars overseas through foreign central banks like the European Central Bank, Swiss National Bank and Bank of England.

***

At a crescendo in the crisis in December 2008, the Fed had shipped $583 billion overseas in the form of these swaps.

As the BBC’s Robert Peston writes:

There is talk of the ECB providing some kind of one year repo facility (where government bonds are swapped for 12-month loans) in collaboration with the US Federal Reserve.

See this for more information on swap lines.

Indeed, the Federal Reserve has been helping to bail out foreign central banks and private banks for years.

For example, $40 billion in bailout money given to AIG went to foreign banks. Indeed, even AIG’s former chief said that the government used AIG “to funnel money to other Institutions, including foreign banks”.

As the Telegraph wrote in September 2008:

The Fed has also just offered another $125bn of liquidity to banks outside the US that are desperate for dollars and can’t access America’s frozen credit markets.

Congressman Grayson said that the Fed secretly “stuffed” half a trillion dollars in foreign pockets.

(Of course, the Fed won’t tell Congress or the TARP overseer – let alone the American people – who got the cash).

And as I pointed out the same month:

A Fact Sheet from the U.S. Treasury says:

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

An article from today in Politico explains

“In a change from the original proposal sent to Capitol Hill, foreign-based banks with big U.S. operations could qualify for the Treasury Department’s mortgage bailout, according to the fine print of an administration statement Saturday night.”

Of course, even much of the bailout money which went to American banks ended up being shuttled abroad. As I wrote in March 2009:

Moreover, bailout money that went to Citigroup was loaned to Dubai, bailout money that went to Bank of America China was invested in China, and bailout money given to JP Morgan was invested in India.

And the government is in the process of providing billions more – along with trillions more in guarantees of worthless assets – to sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds.

So not only are Americans bailing out our own too big to fail banks, but we’re bailing out foreign mega-banks as well.

Even though bailing out Europe might make sense if America was flush with cash, things are different now. As Congressmen Kucinich and Filner wrote last June:

Our country and this body cannot afford to spend American tax payer dollars to bail out private European banks.

In addition, the U.S. is – of course – also contributing tens of billions of dollars towards the Greek bailout through its contributions to the International Monetary Fund. Some allege that the U.S. will secretly help bailout of all of Europe. See this and this.

As Tyler Durden pointed out last week, the IMF has now abandoned any cap on the bailouts it gives, and the U.S. is the largest funder of the IMF.

Now, the New York Times says that the U.S. is going to bail out Afghanistan’s biggest bank:

Details of the deal, including how much each government would contribute, were still being worked out on Saturday between the Central Bank of Afghanistan and the United States Treasury Department, officials said…

Top officials at Kabul Bank and a senior leader at the Central Bank declined to comment publicly on the proposed bailout, which was still being negotiated. However a manager at the Central Bank and a senior American official confirmed what the American official called an “intervention.”

Not surprisingly, there have been numerous allegations of corruption at the Kabul Bank.

Update: The New York Times has updated their story with comments from U.S. Treasury officials insisting that no American money will be used to recapitalize the Kabul Bank:

“No American taxpayer funds will be used to support Kabul Bank,” said Jenni LeCompte, a Treasury Department spokeswoman.

Of course, the IMF, World Bank or a foreign country could funnel the bailout moneys and then the U.S. could print more money to “repay” them later. Accounting shenanigans and under-the-table deals can work wonders to hide the truth from angry American serfs taxpayers.

Why did “The Hurt Locker,” a well-acted, tension-filled but otherwise undistinguished Hollywood war movie focusing on a military bomb-disposal team in Iraq, win the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture?
 
After viewing the film recently, it appears to us that the main reason the U.S. movie industry bestowed the honor is that Kathryn Bigelow, who also received the Best Director prize, concealed the real nature of the American war in two distinct ways.
 
1. The film did not even hint that the three-man Army elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad operating in Baghdad a year after in the U.S. invasion was engaged in an unjust, illegal war, and thus were participants in what international law defines as a war crime.
 
According to the film website, the task of the GIs in question was “to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike.”
 
Unmentioned is the fact that the war destroyed perhaps a million Iraqi lives, and created over four million refugees. Or that it took Washington’s divide-and-conquer policy of exacerbating sectarian religious and ethnic rivalries to produce a stalemate instead of a humiliating defeat for the Pentagon at the hands of up to 25,000 poorly armed, irregular and part-time guerrillas.
 
The film’s odd title, according to the producers, “is soldier vernacular for explosions that send you to the ‘hurt locker.’” But in the “collateral damage” of this unnecessary war — the civilian dead and wounded and millions of wrecked lives — has no place in “The Hurt Locker.” Only American pain is stored there, not Iraqi.
 
2. Director Bigelow and the film’s big money backers mischaracterized their efforts as “nonpolitical,” as did virtually all the American reviewers.
 
As one reviewer wrote, it was “remarkably nonpartisan and nonpolitical.” Another wrote: “It’s a nonpolitical film about Iraq. Many films about the Iraq war have fallen into a trap of appearing preachy or at least having a strong point of view.” The New Yorker’s David Denby said the film “wasn’t political except by implication — a mutual distrust between American occupiers and Iraqi citizens is there in every scene,” but the real meaning is that it “narrows the war to the existential confrontation of man and deadly threat.”
 
If “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means,” as von Clausewitz famously and correctly surmised, a “nonpolitical” film about what is virtually universally recognized as an unjust war is a conscious misrepresentation of reality. “The Hurt Locker” is an extremely political film, largely because of what it chose to omit, masquerading as apolitical in order to disarm the viewer.
 
Bomb disposal teams exist in all modern wars, but they do not exist in a moral or political vacuum. One side often represents the oppressor, and the other the oppressed, and it is morally dishonest to conceal the distinction.
 
For example, one assumes Japanese bomb teams were at work during the Nanking Massacre in China, and the time of the notorious Bataan Death March in the Philippines; and that German teams worked in Poland during the Warsaw Uprising in the Jewish ghetto, and during the horrific Nazi siege of Stalingrad.
 
These Japanese and German handlers of unexploded bombs were extremely brave, as are their American counterparts today, and some lost their lives, particularly since they didn’t have all the protective gear and bomb destroying robots available to Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams in Iraq or Afghanistan.
 
But what should we think about a German war film dealing with the Warsaw rising and the slaughter of Stalingrad, or a Japanese film about Nanking or the death march, that focused only on the heroism of their bomb-disposal  troopers, without any reference to the aggressive wars that situated them in Poland, Russia, China and the Philippines? Most people would characterize such films as “enemy propaganda,” particularly while the wars were still going on, as are the U.S. wars  in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen (as well as Iraq, despite Washington’s claim that “combat operations” are now over).
 
Suppose you were an Iraqi, who lived through 12 years of U.S.-UK-UN killer sanctions that took another million Iraqi lives, followed by seven years of invasion and occupation. What would you think of a U.S. war film where nearly all the Iraqi characters were villains or crooks, and the occupying GIs were depicted as heroes and at least well-meaning?
 
What would you think when you read from the producers that “The Hurt locker” is “a riveting, suspenseful portrait of the courage under fire of the military’s unrecognized heroes: the technicians of a bomb squad who volunteer to challenge the odds and save lives doing one of the world’s most dangerous jobs…. Their mission is clear — protect and save.”
 
You’d probably think this film, which won six Academy Awards while the war was still going on, was enemy propaganda.
 
Well, propaganda is propaganda no matter who’s the perpetrator. Most Americans, it seems to us, are unable to distinguish self-serving war propaganda from reality when it is delivered from the U.S. government, the corporate mass media, or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
 
We can’t read director Bigelow’s mind, but objectively “Hurt Locker” seeks to justify the Bush-Obama wars. It does so by suppressing the political context of the wars, and by individualizing and conflating the scope of the conflict to resemble, as reviewer Denby suggests, an “existential confrontation [between] man and deadly threat.”
 
The “Hurt Locker” war is no longer a matter of U.S. foreign policy, military power, and the quest for geopolitical advantage and hegemony over the world’s largest petroleum reserves. It’s simply a matter of how three American guys in a very dangerous military occupation respond emotionally to the extraordinary pressure they are under.
 
“The Hurt Locker” is a movie of pro-war propaganda. Had this powerful war film instead told the truth about America’s ongoing imperial adventure in Iraq, even as it continued to focus mainly on the dilemmas confronting the bomb disposal team, it never would have been nominated for, much less become the recipient of, the most prestigious award in world filmmaking.

Report: Blackwater created shell companies

September 5th, 2010 by Global Research

WASHINGTON — The security company Blackwater Worldwide formed a network of 30 shell companies and subsidiaries to try to get millions of dollars in government business after the company faced strong criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, The New York Times reported.

The newspaper said Friday that it was unclear how many of the created companies got American contracts but that at least three of them obtained work with the U.S. military and the CIA.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has asked the Justice Department to see whether Blackwater misled the government when using the subsidiaries to gain government contracts, according to the Times.

It said Levin’s committee found that North Carolina-based Blackwater, which now is known as Xe Services, went to great lengths to find ways to get lucrative government work despite criminal charges and criticism stemming from a 2007 incident in which Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. A committee chart outlines the web of Blackwater subsidiaries.

Messages left late Friday with spokespeople for the Michigan Democrat and Xe were not immediately answered.

The 2007 incident and other reports of abuses by Blackwater employees in Iraq led to criminal investigations and congressional hearings, and resulted in the company losing a lucrative contract with the State Department to provide security in Iraq.

But recently the company was awarded a $100 million contract to provide security for the agency in Afghanistan, prompting criticism from some in Congress. CIA Director Leon Panetta said that the CIA had no choice but to hire the company because it underbid others by $26 million and that a CIA review concluded that the contractor had cleaned up its act.

Last year, Panetta canceled a contract with Xe that allowed the company’s operatives to load missiles on Predator drones in Pakistan, and shifted the work to government personnel.

However, the Times quoted former Blackwater officials as saying that at least two Blackwater-affiliated companies, XPG and Greystone, obtained secret contracts from the CIA to provide security to agency operatives.

The newspaper said the network of subsidiaries, including several located in offshore tax havens, were uncovered as part of the Armed Services Committee’s examination of government contracting and not an investigation solely into Blackwater. But Levin questioned why Blackwater would need to create so many companies with various names to seek out government business, according to the Times.

The report quoted unidentified government officials and former Blackwater employees as saying that the network of companies allowed Blackwater to obscure its involvement in government work from contracting officials and the public, and to ensure a low profile for its classified activities.

Why Americans Elect Awful Presidents

September 4th, 2010 by Joel S. Hirschhorn

For years I muttered mentally to myself about the insanity of Americans electing George W. Bush president.  Now I go through the same agony about the craziness of the nation electing Barack Obama president.  As much as I thought Bush was a manipulated second-rate politician that carried out the terribly destructive policies pushed by Cheney and other conservative corporate shills, now I feel equally angry that so many voters fell for the slick rhetoric and lies of Obama.  Disgust produces public thirst for change and Obama was wickedly brilliant at selling change.  When voters are so easily victimized what does democracy amount to?

All this tells me that any nation that can elect such inept people president can also elect other people that appear to have no right or chance to be president of the United States just as Bush and Obama once appeared before they were sold to the public.  That is what is so frightening about the future of this nation.  The two-party plutocracy with its stranglehold on the American political system has the power to elect presidents that are an insult to the great ones that once served the nation with pride and competence.

I keep searching for explanations why millions of American voters make such bad electoral decisions.  Are they just so stupid, uninformed and distracted that they fall for endless political lies?  Have Americans become so easily manipulated and fooled by advertising and brilliant political campaigns that they can be sold terrible presidents as easily as unneeded, low quality and unhealthy products?

Yes, all this seems too true.  Delusional voters have produced our delusional democracy which strongly favors corporate, wealthy and elitist interests over ordinary Americans.  This explains frightening economic inequality and the demise of the middle class.  In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of American families took in about 9 percent of the nation’s total income; by 2007, the top 1 percent took in 23.5 percent of total income (less than 5 million people).  Two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains from 2002 to 2007 flowed to this sliver of households, which saw a rise of 62 percent, compared to 4 percent for the bottom 90 percent of households.  Today, the median male worker earns less, adjusted for inflation, than he did 30 years ago.  A corrupt bipartisan system gave us this.  Is this the change you were waiting for?

Considering Bush and Obama from a right-left perspective misses their several critical commonalities.  Both have wasted the nation’s wealth and lives on two ludicrous, unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan .  Both turned out to be pretty good communicators during their presidential campaigns but quite lousy after they became president.  The more intelligent and articulate Obama is particularly striking in being totally lackluster when it comes to addressing major issues and crises and building public support for his policies, which now explains his very low approval ratings.

Both pursued public policies and government programs that preferentially benefit corporate and other special interests, especially the financial sector.  This is no surprise because both depended on huge amounts of corporate money to get elected.  They both have responsibility for the economic meltdown that still exists for a large fraction of the nation.  A large majority of Americans correctly see the nation on the wrong track, but more importantly it is hurtling down the wrong track, which President Obama ignores, because he lacks solutions.

What may turn out to be the most disturbing similarity is that Obama may get elected for a second term just like Bush accomplished despite uninspiring performance.  If there is anything more disturbing than electing awful politicians with no real record of accomplishments it is reelecting them for a second term!  More than anything else this demonstrates the absence of true, effective political competition and the ability to brainwash and manipulate voters.

For years I hoped that some third party presidential candidate would emerge, capture public confidence and offer a true reform program to repair our nation.  But sadly the political system has been so corrupted that no third party presidential candidate stands a chance against the two-party plutocracy.  The biggest nonsense is that the US is the greatest democracy on Earth.  There are many other democracies where multiple political parties give citizens far more choices than Americans have.  It pays to remember that no nation ever copied the government structure of the US .  Instead, other democracies where citizens also have freedom use parliamentary structures with far more political choices and even the ability to more easily get rid of rotten leaders.  Here we suffer with disappointing presidents for far too many years.

The most fascinating aspect of our constitutional republic is that one constitutional path to get true, deep reforms of our government and political system has never been used.  This proves how powerful, entrenched interests on the right and left have maintained a corrupt, dysfunctional and costly system.  Very, very few Americans know anything about the option in Article V of the Constitution for a convention of state delegates that could propose constitutional amendments.  You can learn the facts at the Friends of the Article V Convention website.  The one and only requirement for a convention has long been met but Congress refuses to obey the Constitution.  They fear it.  We need it more than ever.

A constitutional scholar such as President Obama could make history by openly demanding that Congress convene the first Article V convention.  But that would require dropping the constitutional hypocrisy that he and so many others have.  The rule of law is a farce when an important part of the beloved Constitution is ignored.

Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com .

Global Research Editor’s Note:

This is a creative news and analysis article. We invite Global Research readers to carefully review this text and browse an extensive video archive prepared by Steven JM Jones.


Over 250 embedded links to more than 50 hours of news footage, talks, and documentaries spanning over four decades

Doped and fattened, we are being lied to like never before. Our minds are scientifically manipulated to teach us contempt for how others are treated. Sold subservience and wars of aggression, we’re ‘bringing freedom to women,‘ ‘education to girls.‘ These are our justifications for invading entire nations, for taking tens of millions of people back to the Stone Age, and for killing and maiming millions upon millions of innocent human beings.

We have 24/7 military budget reality TV shows, some spanning decades. Back-to-back thrillers are woven into a brilliant, sometimes confusing plot – Desert Storm, Shock & Awe, War on Terror, and many more. Themes evolve, realities change, new shows spring up when old ones expire. Truths become lies. Lies become the truth. All over the world, beamed up into space, we watch – the spectacle is live, visceral. This is our news. It helps sell pizza.

But for the people on the ground – the people we don’t see on our television screens – this is no movie: Pilotless drone bombs wedding party, scores killed. Imagine this is your mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, cousin, grandma, niece, or nephew all murdered in one shot. Imagine your entire world blown to smithereens right before your eyes. Imagine screams, blood, flesh from the people you love blown off their shattered bodies, blown all over you. Later, on the TV in the local cafe (if one still exists), imagine hearing the words ‘Collateral damage,’ spoken by the television host translating the muted lips of a groomed Westerner. Imagine yourself shaking with rage – a new extremist.

Bug splat. Wipe it off and move on.

This is what we do to people all over the world, in so many different ways, every day. We do it to line the pockets of our elite, who’ll do anything for a buck. ‘We don’t do body counts.’ ‘500 000 [slaughtered children] is worth it.’ Will we allow them to get away with anything in exchange for a life of consumerist serfdom?

We are creating a situation where millions live with just one ambition – revenge. We’ve left them no choice. We’ve stolen everything that matters to them, from them.

They’re primitive, they behave like wild animals.’ ‘They’re cruel, they’re heartless.’ ‘They don’t have the same feelings as us.’ That’s what they said when I was a boy. That was Apartheid South Africa. ‘Mandela is a terrorist.’

Now look in the mirror.

They mistreat their women.’ ‘Sharia law is crazy.’ ‘We’re going to set them free, bring them democracy, civilize them.’ Really? Who do we think we are kidding?

The ones they meet are our boys. Our boys call them rag-heads. Our boys carry the big guns. Do we really expect them to believe we respect them? In Apartheid South Africa we held the whips, we called them kaffirs, we carried the big guns. They knew we didn’t respect them.

The people we are attacking now were not concerned with us and our device driven lives before we interfered with theirs. They live in small, rural communities - real communities. They till their fields, repair things, grind grain, tend animals. Then, out of the blue they hear a high pitched scream for a second or two – boom, oblivion! Now the survivors know who we are. Now they have only one thing left to live for. Can we really blame them?

These days we are told to fear Jihad, to fear a world taken over by crazed Muslims. I ask those who tell us these things to show me a single Western nation under occupation by Islam, radical or otherwise. Ever since I’ve been around it is the Judeo-Christian world that has been the brutal aggressornon-stop. The Islamic and much of the Third World cowers under our brutality.

Terrorists – who are the real terrorists?

We are now into the seventh decade of a holocaust being methodically conducted against the Palestinian nation by the Jewish state, yet we stand by, virtually silent. If any of us dares speak out, cry foul, we are automatically labeled anti-Semitic. Each year we watch as the atrocities get more outrageous, and we call them terrorists. We call the prisoners terrorists. We call the Palestinians terrorists.

And we call the terrorists Israelis.

These days in Israel, political popularity contests are won on body counts. Witness the 94% approval ratings for the 2008/2009 Gaza massacre, where 1416 men, women and children enclosed in a walled, open air prison were slaughtered live on TV – a spectacular blitzkrieg. Three Israeli civilians were killed, and 10 Israeli soldiers died – four in ‘friendly fire’ incidents and six while participating in the massacre of the people in the open air prison.

In Israel, some folks picnic to watch the spectacle, but for us, the Western audience, it is reality TV at its finest – shot in panorama to enable a G rating for the dinner crowd. Operation Cast Lead, a special two week fireworks display and bloodbath to bring in the New Year. Brazen war crimes are witnessed by hundreds of millions of people all over the world, stomachs yet stuffed with Christmas turkey.

There are other people in the world who see the other side, the sheer terror being inflicted upon an entire nation trapped. They notice when hundreds of thousands of sitting ducks are selectively plucked out of existence or collectively blown to pieces, all with the tacit and full support of the Western powers. There is seething global outrage, murmurs of civil unrest. The system has to be seen to act. The United Nations appoints a fact-finding mission to investigate. To appease the Jewish state and powerful Zionist interests around the world, a Zionist judge, who, in the 1980s enforced the draconian ‘emergency laws’ of Apartheid South Africa (Richard Goldstone) is named to head up the mission. His report finds war crimes on both sides; apparently a nation trapped in a walled prison camp may not defend itself.

Later in the year, ‘Obama for changesweeps justice away. Even the Goldstone report means nothingIsrael plans its next war. Lebanon? Iran? Gaza again? Americans pay for thisIsrael receives massive military and economic funding from the US taxpayer.

Why do American citizens pay to kill Palestinians? Is it because they don’t know? Why does the rest of the Western world stand by and watch this atrocity, allowing such obscene crimes against other human beings to be committed, not to mention distortions of truth and justice? Is it because we don’t know? I hope so because the alternative is too frightening to contemplate.

Israel sits on top of Palestine. Most Palestinians were chased from their homes in 1948. They’ve spent over six decades in illegal exile, in concentration camps. That’s over sixty years – generations. A life sentence in almost all civilized countries is 25 years; what were the crimes of those men, those woman, those children? What are the crimes of these men, these women, these children? They hold title to their homes, in villages that were crushed by bulldozers and tanks, or occupied by Jewish colonists from Europe, arriving to settle their ‘promised land.’

Can we try to imagine being forced to live in the most densely populated prison camp on earth, surrounded by walls, fences, angry bullies with guns, tanks and killer CATs, backed by the overwhelming military might of a superpower? Can we imagine being part of an entire population that has been starved and enslaved, until cheaper servants could be brought in? That has been slaughtered at will, demoralized daily?  This is the plight of the Palestinian nation. Do we not have the humanity to feel the loss of dignity that these people have endured, to exclaim in horror at the preposterous kill ratio if nothing else? Are these people, these men, women, boys and girls good to go as piss-ons for supremacists to play with and exterminate at willblowing up schools, UN facilities, police stations full of men, pregnant mothers, little old ladies, boys and girls with no future? Is it really fair to be constantly reminded to engage our sympathy and guilt regarding the Holocaust, an event that took place before most of us were born, while simultaneously being told to disengage our humanity regarding a contemporary situation of such magnitude? One in which we are complicit and have the power to stop?

Why is it that this holocaust is being virtually ignored by our mainstream media, by our entertainment and movie industry? Who is behind this obvious deception? Why, if every human life has equal value, do we support this atrocity, this genocidal lie? Indeed, if we really do stand for ‘never again,’ why are we not putting a stop to what these people are doing?  

Some talk of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine – but is this not an almost exact replica of Apartheid South Africa, right down to the Bantustans? Where on earth can you kick an entire nation of people off a piece of geography and into permanent prison camps, then decree an exclusive state for yourself and your fellow chosen people? It is madness. All the people must share the land and the resources, just like anywhere else. There must be equal rights, equal opportunities for everyone, just like everywhere else. The people who have been oppressed must be compensated. The people who have been doing the oppressing must be brought to justice. The reconstituted nation can be called by any name, even Israel – let the people decide. Let a nation of all its citizens decide.

The Israel-Palestine conflict, the wars against the Iraqi and Afghan people – these are only symptoms of the larger problem playing out all over the world. We are running out of time to find our humanity – the ecosystem that sustains us, the environment we call home, is cracking beneath the strain. Ordinary people are the only ones with the power to stop this Orwellian nightmare threatening to destroy the fabric of our interdependent world. We must wake up, realize that the entire global governing system has failed us. Democracy has failed us. We have failed ourselves.

Freedom is an illusion, the façade fades by the day. An insane elite coupled with massive corporations is close to ruling our world. Their fists are turning to iron. They are preoccupied with wanting to know everything we do and think. They want total control over our minds, over our lives, to be able to see and hear everything we do and say. They need us to conform to their rules, to know if we even hint at stepping out of line. They have to see us naked in public.

Are they our Protectors? Or are they simply Perverts?

Are we condemning our children to death – will they inherit a choked-out future in a dying world? Will the tangible splendour of our world have to be remembered on handheld devices and widescreen TVs? Will the future see a charred ball orbit the sun instead of the beautiful, ever changing crystal sphere we currently share and call home?

Will a spacecraft full of crazed fools, ‘the survivors,’ head off into the darkness, hoping to find a new planet to settle before they run out of juice?

We all share a spacecraft called earth. She is our only viable home. Until we find our humanity we cannot hope to save her. We are playing at – and losing – the most dangerous game.

Rockefeller-Funded Anti-Fertility Vaccine Coordinated by WHO

September 4th, 2010 by Jurriaan Maessen

In addition to the recent PrisonPlanet-exclusive Rockefeller Foundation Developed Vaccines For “Mass-Scale” Fertility Reduction — which outlines the Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts in the 1960s funding research into so-called “anti-fertility vaccines”– another series of documents has surfaced, proving beyond any doubt that the UN Population Fund, World Bank and World Health Organization picked up on it, further developing it under responsibility of a “Task Force on Vaccines for Fertility Regulation”.

Just four years after the Rockefeller Foundation launched massive funding-operations into anti-fertility vaccines, the Task Force was created under auspices of the World Health Organization, World Bank and UN Population Fund. Its mission, according to one of its members, to support:

“basic and clinical research on the development of birth control vaccines directed against the gametes or the preimplantation embryo. These studies have involved the use of advanced procedures in peptide chemistry, hybridoma technology and molecular genetics as well as the evaluation of a number of novel approaches in general vaccinology. As a result of this international, collaborative effort, a prototype anti-HCG vaccine is now undergoing clinical testing, raising the prospect that a totally new family planning method may be available before the end of the current decade.

In regards to the scope of the Task Force’s jurisdiction, the Biotechnology and Development Monitor reported:

“The Task Force acts as a global coordinating body for anti-fertility vaccine R&D in the various working groups and supports research on different approaches, such as anti-sperm and anti-ovum vaccines and vaccines designed to neutralize the biological functions of hCG. The Task Force has succeeded in developing a prototype of an anti-hCG-vaccine.”

One of the Task Force members, P.D. Griffin, outlined the purpose and trajectory of these Fertility Regulating Vaccines. Griffin:

“The Task Force has continued to coordinate its research activities with other vaccine development programmes within WHO and with other international and national programmes engaged in the development of fertility regulating vaccines.”

Griffin also admitted to the fact that one of the purposes of the vaccines is the implementation in developing countries. Griffin:

“If vaccines could be developed which could safely and effectively inhibit fertility, without producing unacceptable side effects, they would be an attractive addition to the present armamentarium of fertility regulating methods and would be likely to have a significant impact on family planning programmes.”

Also, one of the advantages of the FRVs over “currently available methods of fertility regulation” the Task Force states, is the following (179):

“low manufacturing cost and ease of delivery within existing health services.”

Already in 1978, the WHO’s Task Force (then called Task Force on Immunological Methods for Fertility Regulation) underlined the usefulness of these vaccines in regards to the possibility of “large scale synthesis and manufacture” of the vaccine:

“The potential advantages of an immunological approach to fertility regulation can be summarized as follows: (a) the possibility of infrequent administration, possibly by paramedical personnel; (b) the use of antigens or antigen fragments, which are not pharmacologically active; and (c) in the case of antigens of known chemical structure, there is the possibility of large-scale synthesis and manufacture of vaccine at relatively low cost.”

In 1976, the WHO Expanded Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction published a report, stating:

“In 1972 the Organization (…) expanded its programme of research in human reproduction to provide an international focus for an intensified effort to improve existing methods of fertility regulation, to develop new methods and to assist national authorities in devising the best ways of providing them on a continuing basis. The programme is closely integrated with other WHO research on the delivery of family planning care by health services, which in turn feeds into WHO’s technical assistance programme to governments at the service level.”

Although the term “Anti-Fertility Vaccine”, coined by the Rockefeller Foundation, was replaced by the more bureaucratic sounding “Fertility Regulating Vaccine (FRV), the programme was obviously the same. Besides, The time line shows conclusively that the WHO, UN Population Fund and World Bank continued on a path outlined by the Rockefellers in the late 1960s. By extensions, it proves that all these organization are perfectly interlocked, best captured under the header “Scientific Dictatorship”. The relationshipbetween the WHO and the Rockefeller Foundation is intense. In the 1986 bulletin of the World Health Organization, this relationship is being described in some detail. While researching the effectiveness of “gossypol” as an “antifertility agent”, the bulletin states:

“The Rockefeller Foundation has supported limited clinical trials in China and smallscale clinical studies in Brazil and Austria. The dose administered in the current Chinese trial has been reduced from 20 mg to 10-15 mg/day during the loading phase in order to see if severe oligospermia rather than consistent azoospermia would be adequate for an acceptable, non-toxic and reversible effect. Meanwhile, both the WHO human reproduction programme and the Rockefeller Foundation are supporting animal studies to better define the mechanism of action of gossypol.”

In August of 1992, a series of meetings was held in Geneva, Switzerland, regarding “fertility regulating vaccines”. According to the document Fertility Regulating Vaccines (classified by the WHO with a limited distribution) present at those meetings were scientists and clinicians from all over the globe, including then biomedical researcher of the American Agency for International development, and current research-chief of USAID, Mr. Jeff Spieler.

In 1986 Mr. Spieler declared:

“A new approach to fertility regulation is the development of vaccines directed against human substances required for reproduction. Potential candidates for immunological interference include reproductive hormones, ovum and sperm antigens, and antigens derived from embryonic or fetal tissue.(…). An antifertility vaccine must be capable of safely and effectively inhibiting a human substance, which would need somehow to be rendered antigenic. A fertility-regulating vaccine, moreover, would have to produce and sustain effective immunity in at least 95% of the vaccinated population, a level of protection rarely achieved even with the most successful viral and bacterial vaccines. But while these challenges looked insuperable just a few years ago, recent advances in biotechnology- particularly in the fields of molecular biology, genetic engineering and monoclonal antibody production- are bringing antifertility vaccines into the realm of the feasible.”

“Vaccines interfering with sperm function and fertilization could be available for human testing by the early 1990s”, Spieler wrote.

In order for widespread use of these vaccines, Spieler writes, the vaccine must conquer “variations in individual responses to immunization with fertility-regulating vaccines”.

“Research”, he goes on to say,”is also needed in the field of “basic vaccinology”, to find the best carrier proteins, adjuvants, vehicles and delivery systems.”

In the 1992 document, the problem of “variations in individual responses” is also discussed:

“Because of the genetic diversity of human populations”, states the document, “immune responses to vaccines often show marked differences from one individual to another in terms of magnitude and duration. These differences may be partly or even completely overcome with appropriately engineered FRVs (Fertility Regulating Vaccines) and by improvements in our understanding of what is required to develop and control the immune response elicited by different vaccines.”

The picture emerging from these facts is clear. The WHO, as a global coordinating body, has since the early 70s continued the development of the Rockefeller-funded “anti-fertility vaccine”. What also is becoming clear, is that extensive research has been done to the delivery systems in which these anti-fertility components can be buried, such as regular anti-viral vaccines. It’s a mass-scale anti-fertilization programme with the aim of reducing the world’s population: a dream long cherished by the global elite.

¿Para qué sirve Fayyad?

September 4th, 2010 by Pierre-Yves Salingue

Ali Abunimah, fundador y editorialista de la página web The Electronic Intifada, publicó recientemente un artículo criticando lo que él llama «la falsa (o hipócrita) campaña de boicot de la Autoridad Palestina (AP)».

Acusa sobre todo a Salam Fayyad, el «primer ministro no elegido con sede en Ramala», de querer sabotear la campaña de BDS [boicot, desinversión y sanciones a Israel] y también de tratar de recuperar las acciones sobre el terreno de la «resistencia popular».

Jamal Juma, coordinador palestino de la campaña contra el muro (Stop the Wall), había declarado un poco antes que «la AP trataba de establecer los parámetros de la resistencia pacífica contra el muro del apartheid en función de su propia visión para tomar el control».

En el mismo momento, Mousa Abu Maria, coordinador del Palestine Solidarity Project y animador del Comité Popular de Beit Ommar, detenido alternativamente por el ejército israelí y por la policía de la AP, analizaba el repentino interés de ésta por la resistencia popular no violenta como «una velada oferta de Fayyad para tomar el control de un movimiento popular».

Estos pocos ejemplos ilustran una realidad que no supone misterio alguno en Cisjordania, donde son muchos quienes han comprendido que el control de las acciones de «la resistencia popular» se ha convertido en un importante reto politico.

El «liberal» surgido de un golpe de fuerza

El gobierno estadounidense y los diferentes países «donantes» lo proporcionaron y se lo impusieron a Arafat en calidad de ministro de Hacienda en 2002.

Nadie debía poden en duda su voluntad de servir a sus compatriotas: después estudiar en una universidad estadounidense y de pasar varios años en el Banco Mundial, puso en práctica su «derecho al retorno» aceptando en 1995 la responsabilidad de ser «representante del FMI» en los territorios de la AP.

En 2007 fue nombrado primer ministro por Abbas, quien junto con su acólito Dahlan acababa de intentar un golpe de fuerza contra Hamás en Gaza. Tras la desbandada de sus fuerzas financiadas por Estados Unidos, Abbas decretó el Estado de excepción, asistió sin decir una palabra al bloqueo a Gaza (e incluso animó a endurecerlo) y a la detención de los miembros de Hamás de Consejo Legislativo Palestino (CLP)[Parlamento], donde eran mayoría.

Quien se nos presenta a veces como un «liberal» no ha tenido el menor inconveniente en aprovecharse de un golpe de Estado para ocupar el puesto del primer ministro que había sido elegido por el grupo mayoritario Hamás del CLP.

Aunque su lista sólo obtuvo el 2.4 % de los votos durante las elecciones que ganó Hamás, es desde hace tres años el «primer ministro» de un gobierno que nunca ha sido ratificado por una votación en el CLP y fue nombrado por un «presidente» ¡cuyo mandato expiró hace 18 meses!

Curiosamente, a sus muchos admiradores occidentales no parece que les choque este «ligero» déficit de legitimidad democrática.

¿Construir un Estado bajo la ocupación?

El plan atribuido al nuevo salvador de los palestinos es el siguiente: debido al impasse de las negociaciones, la AP modernizada por Fayyad va a demostrar la seriedad palestina sobre el terreno y en un momento dado a ojos de la comunidad internacional estará claro que el único obstáculo para solucionar el conflicto es la ocupación…

¿Ingenuidad o sumisión? Esto es lo que dice Bernard Sabella, miembro del CLP próximo a Fayyad: «La insistencia en la no violencia entre nosotros, los palestinos de hoy, está de acuerdo con el plan de Fayyad para llegar a una postura en la que la comunidad internacional va a mirar a Palestina y decir: los palestinos están bien desarrollados en sus instituciones e incluso en su mentalidad. Así pues, ¿por qué no reconocerles un Estado?».

Fayyad afirma que entonces podrá forzar a la comunidad internacional para exigir que se concluya un acuerdo que ponga fin a la ocupación de 1967.

Por lo tanto, habría dos opciones en la búsqueda del reconocimiento del Estado palestino: la de Abbas, que se articula en proseguir con las negociaciones y se basa en la esperanza de un cambio de actitud del gobierno estadounidense, y la de Fayyad, que consiste en actuar sobre el terreno para establecer las bases económicas sin esperar a la creación del Estado.

En realidad, estad dos actitudes no son en absoluto contradictorias.

Abbas y Fayyad son dos estrellas gemelas que unen sus esfuerzos con la esperanza de que la comunidad internacional les conceda «un Estado y qué se le va a hacer si se trata de un bantustán totalmente sometido económicamente a la economía israelí, sin soberanía y consagrado principalmente al control policial de los palestinos».

Y ¡qué se le va a hacer si este «Estado» sirve mañana para olvidar la cuestión palestina que quedará reducida a unos cuantos episodios de un banal «conflicto fronterizo entre dos Estados Vecinos»!

Fayyad sabe que la combinación de la estructura de los Acuerdos de Oslo y de la ocupación militar israelí hace a la AP totalmente dependiente de Israel y que quien manda lo hace siempre en interés del Estado sionista.

El policía y el banquero: al servicio de la paz para el Capital

Si en Cisjordania se ha levantado el bloqueo financiero y el rastreo militar se ha aligerado un tanto es porque lo permitían el mantenimiento sobre le terreno de las fuerzas de ocupación israelíes y la participación activa de los colaboradores palestinos, sobre todo en la acción represiva de las fuerzas policiales palestinas bajo el mando del general estadounidense Dayton.

Com explicó Dayton, el USSC (siglas en inglés de Equipo Estadounidense de Coordinación de la Seguridad) está ahí «no para enseñar a luchar contra Israel sino para mantener el orden y la ley, respetar a todos los ciudadanos y hacer reinar la ley para que por fin puedan vivir en seguridad y en paz con Israel».

La misión de esta fuerza policial es ante todo el control de cualquier movimiento popular.

Algunos comentaristas occidentales no dejaron de señalar lo débiles que fueron las manifestaciones de protesta de los habitantes de Cisjordania durante la mortífera agresión contra Gaza a finales de 2008.

De nuevo Dayton explica: «Durante este periodo los israelíes mantuvieron un ‘perfil bajo’; cada día se coordinaban con las fuerzas de seguridad palestinas. Por ejemplo, el comandante palestino llamaba al comandante israelí para decirle: ”Habrá una manifestación del punto A al B. Pasa cerca del checkpoint de Bet El. Estaríamos agradecidos su pudieran quitar el checkpoint durante dos horas para que podamos controlar la manifestación y a continuación ustedes podrán retomar la posición”.

Dayton repite después las palabras de un oficial israelí: «La USSC está haciendo un trabajo magnífico. Cuanto más hagan el trabajo los palestinos menos tendremos que hacerlo nosotros» [1].

No debería haber la menor duda de cuál es primera misión de Fayyad: está ahí para contribuir a reunir las diferentes condiciones favorables a la liquidación de toda resistencia auténtica, se cual sea la forma, violenta o no violenta.

Evidentemente, no está solo y se beneficia del apoyo todavía necesario de Abbas, del apoyo forzado y no siempre entusiasta de Fatah y de la complicidad más o menos discreta de los dirigentes de las ONG cuya supervivencia depende de USAID o del dinero de Fayyad.

Por lo que se refiere a la «izquierda palestina», parece tener como única estrategia reclamar la unidad y la reconciliación negándose a admitir que en las actuales circunstancias cualquier reconciliación sólo se podría hacer a costa de la resistencia y en detrimento de los derechos fundamentales del pueblo palestino.

Fayyad es un jalón importante en el establecimiento de una AP despolitizada, una simple administración de gestión de la vida cotidiana de los palestinos «bajo su forma tecnicista alejada de cualquier compromiso político» [2].

Es también lo que dice Azmi Bishara: «el ex agente del banco Mundial, que se vanagloria de ser pragmático, ofrece soluciones para el día a día en vez de una causa nacional».

Sin embrago, en esta «gestión de lo cotidiano» la relativa mejora de algunos aspectos de la vida de los habitantes de Cisjordania, gracias a que se han levantado temporalmente algunas berreras a la entrada de algunas ciudades palestinas y al permiso dado a los palestinos para utilizar determinadas partes de las carreteras reservadas únicamente a los israelíes, no ha modificado profundamente la situación de los palestinos corrientes, la inmensa mayoría de los cuales no frecuenta las discotecas de Ramala donde la coca-cola cuesta 4 €, ni podrá ser propietario de un piso en Rawabi.

Además, en un contexto global de intensificación de la caza a los militantes de Hamás y más generalmente de la represión contra todas aquellas personas que discuten su política de complicidad con la ocupación, Fayyad debe dar el cambiazo y no puede ser reducido al papel de colaborador activo y entregado del ocupante.

Neutralizar la resistencia popular

Por consiguiente, para neutralizarlos mejor ha decidido ocupar dos terrenos en los que se expresa hoy la lucha contra la ocupación en Cisjordania: por una parte, «la resistencia popular» y por otra, el boicot a Israel.

A partir de 2002 los habitantes de los pueblos que padecían las primeras obras de construcción del muro (Jayyous, Bil’in…) emprendieron espontáneamente diversas luchas. Éstas adoptaban con frecuencia la forma de manifestaciones regulares contra el muro y por la defensa del libre acceso a las tierras y pueblos cada vez más rodeados por las colonias.

Ignoradas por las principales facciones políticas y despreciadas por la AP, estas luchas permanecieron aisladas durante varios años.

La Campaña «Stop the Wall» y después la de BDS en 2005 fueron las primeras que trataron de relacionar entre sí estas búsquedas de una alternativa por una parte al fracaso de las negociaciones y por otra a la imposibilidad de una participación popular en la segunda Intifada militarizada.

Pero la situación ha cambiado. Las negociaciones se han vuelto inexistentes y el aislamiento de las acciones armadas ha llevado a la segunda Intifada al impasse.

Desde hace algún tiempo las campañas de Stop the Wall y de BDS se han visto confrontadas por la concurrencia de dos organismos: el Comité Nacional y el Comité de Coordinación.

El primero lo creó Fatah ya en 2005 y se reactivó después de su última conferencia anual, tras el verano de 2009.

El segundo está bajo el control del gobierno de Fayyad y pretende querer organizar al conjunto de los responsables de los comités populares de Cisjordania.

Fayyad no es tacaño a la hora de utilizar el dinero y los diferentes comités populares no están en la misma categoría a la hora de la distribución del dinero.

Como dice con franqueza Mohamed Kattib, uno de los dirigentes del comité de Bil’in apoyado por la AP, «la presión mediática y el dinero que ha fluido a raudales han creado tensiones. Cada uno quiere su parte…» [3].

Además, la represión de las manifestaciones por parte del ejército israelí acaba en muchas destrucciones y detenciones. Hay que pagar a los abogados, pagar las fianzas y las multas, visitar a los presos en las cárceles israelíes que suelen estar lejos, etc. Todo eso cuesta caro y quien lo paga pretende sacar una ventaja política.

Esto se puede constatar estudiando las declaraciones finales de las conferencias internacionales que han tenido lugar en Bil’in en estos últimos años.

Cuando la presencia de Fayyad en 2009 y la ausencia de la AP en la lucha sobre el terreno fueron objeto de duras críticas y cuando la conferencia estableció entonces como prioridad la campaña de BDS, 2010 confirmó la creciente influencia de la AP sobre muchos comités populares.

Movilizando importantes medios financieros y sin dudar en utilizar la represión selectiva contra algunos dirigentes, a menudo con la complicidad activa de las fuerzas de ocupación, Fayyad parece haber tenido éxito ahí donde Mustapha Barghouti y Fatah habían fracasado en sus intentos de recuperación.

En abril de 2010 en Bil’in los portavoces de la campaña de BDS vieron como su acción quedaba relegada a segunda fila y vieron como ¡un «boicot a los productos israelíes procedentes de las colonias» sustituía al boicot a Israel!

Por consiguiente, Fayyad es el hombre orquesta de un dispositivo que permite hacer unos proyectos de zona industrial, unos proyectos de desarrollo turístico, que favorece el boom inmobiliario y de los comercios de lujo en Ramala… pero un dispositivo que no acaba con la ocupación y que no impedirá al ejército israelí, si mañana decide hacer frente a una nueva revuelta palestina, destruir toda esta pacotilla de la que hoy sólo se beneficia una pequeña elite palestina que ambiciona encontrar su lugar en el proyecto neoliberal del Gran Oriente Medio.

La realización del plan neoliberal de Fayyad pasa, evidentemente, por la liquidación de toda resistencia auténtica porque este plan integra a la ocupación israelí como una realidad inquebrantable [4].

[1] “Speach of Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, US Security Coordinator, Israel and the Palestinian Authority”, publicado por The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Washington, 7 de mayo de 2009.

[2] JF Legrain. www.ifri.org/downloads/notemomjflegrain.pdf

[3] International Crisis Group – MER n°95 26/04/2010

[4] Cf. C Cirillo-Allahsa http://www.politis.fr/La-paix-sur-un-mode-neoliberal,10243.html

Fuente: http://www.silviacattori.net/article1317.html?var_mode=calcul

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Mientras las fuerzas de combate estadounidenses abandonan Iraq, la situación en este país devastado por la guerra sigue siendo poco clara y los analistas empiezan a preocuparse por el periodo subsiguiente a la retirada de tropas estadounidenses después de permanecer siete años y cinco meses.

Iraq: ¿más violencia?

Una nueva oleada de bombardeos coordinados barrió las principales ciudades de Iraq el pasado miércoles [25 de agosto de 2010] mientras las tropas estadounidenses abandonaban el país y algunos analistas opinan que tras siete años de ocupación militar la violencias es uno de los pocos legados que deja Estados Unidos en Iraq.

“Ahora que se van los estadounidenses, las huellas más claras que dejan en Iraq y que cualquier iraquí puede percibir son la tortura, la corrupción y la guerra civil”, declaró el analista político iraquí Nuri Hadi a Xinhua en una entrevista reciente.

que Estados Unidos se había equivocado gravemente, empezando por el cambio de régimen, ya que no comprende ni la historia de Iraq ni sus características nacionales.

[Hadi afirmó también que] la reciente violencia en Iraq parece en cierto modo menos devastadora debido fundamentalmente a que el punto más alto del derramamiento de sangre en los años 2006 a 2007 fue tan espantoso y conocido, e indicó que Iraq todavía tiene un largo camino por delante para recuperar la vida normal de la gente. Añadió que los insurgentes todavía tienen la capacidad de llevar a cabo atentados importantes en las ciudades iraquíes.

Hadi afirmó que la última oleada de atentados mortales del pasado miércoles en las principales ciudades iraquíes, que dejó 64 personas muertas y más de 272 heridos, hizo que la retirada de tropas estadounidenses parezca más intempestiva. Del mismo modo, la repetida afirmación del gobierno Obama de que las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes pueden valerse por sí mismas parecía más insostenible.

“En general se espera que aumente la violencia en Iraq con la retirada de tropas estadounidense a finales de agosto”, afirmó.

“Creo que los militantes de al-Qaeda han demostrado que se han reorganizado y en los últimos meses han demostrado tener capacidad para lanzar atentados esporádicos mortíferos y masivos en Bagdad y en otras ciudades”, afirmó Hadi. “Pero sigo creyendo que las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes parece tener la capacidad de luchar contra ellos”.

Sin embargo, Hadi señaló. “Tengo que admitir que una gran parte de los grupos insurgentes en Iraq están directa o indirectamente vinculados con los partidos políticos que participan en el proceso político, por tanto la seguridad dependerá mucho de si estos partidos desean encontrar medios pacíficos para arreglar sus diferencias y su lucha por el poder o simplemente alzarán las armas para luchar unos contra otros”.

Mientras tanto, afirmó que muchos iraquíes, que creen que lo que es apropiado para Estados Unidos no lo es necesariamente para Iraq, no parecían dar la bienvenida la llamada democracia traída por Estados Unidos. “Para muchas personas aquí es una broma afirmar que los estadounidense trajeron la libertad, [ya que] el principal resultado de la presencia de las tropas estadounidenses en Iraq son las profundas divisiones, tanto raciales como sectarias, entre las facciones iraquíes”, afirmó Hadi.

¿Se precipitan los países vecinos a llenar el vacío?

Hadi advirtió además que el actual vacío de poder en Bagdad* hizo que gobierno central perdiera su influencia y control sobre otras partes del país. En particular, pueden surgir conflictos en ciudades cerca de la frontera de la semi-autónoma región kurda al norte del país, que se disputan el gobierno central y los kurdos.

Hani Khalaf, ex-representante de la Liga Árabe en Iraq, opinaba que si no había coordinación acerca de la retirada entre los estadounidenses y los países vecinos a Iraq, esto abriría las puertas a las ambiciones y estos países buscarían desempeñar un papel más importante en Iraq.

Khalaf afirmó acerca del papel de los países árabes: “Su papel podría ser mayor si los árabes reconocen al nuevo Iraq”.

Señaló que los países árabes discrepaban acerca del “Iraq post-Sadam” y que no trataban con el nuevo régimen, lo que hacía que los iraquíes sospecharan de su posible papel, añadió Khalaf.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Salam, presidente del Departamento de Seguridad Regional en el Centro de Estudios Políticos y Estratégicos de Egipto, afirmó que Estados Unidos temía mucho la creciente influencia de Irán sobre Iraq.

Washington está muy preocupado por las estrechas relaciones entre los chiíes iraquíes y Teherán, y los gobiernos de Estados Unidos e Israel incluso han considerado la posibilidad de un ataque militar a Irán, añadió.

Adel Suleiman, director del Centro para Estudios Futuros y Estratégicos de El Cairo, afirmó que la retirada estadounidense de Iraq tenía que ser prudente en medio de la compleja situación regional ya que Estados Unidos, Israel y otros países occidentales están divididos en relación al programa nuclear iraní y el hecho de que este país se mezcle en los asuntos iraquíes sigue siendo su principal preocupación.

“La decisión de la retirada estadounidense de Iraq de esta manera está completamente injustificada, como la decisión de la invasión”, afirmó Suleiman y añadió que el ejército y las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes no están lo suficiente adiestradas como para tomar la situación bajo su control. “Las fuerzas iraquíes todavía necesitan entre cinco y siete años para restaurar la situación en Iraq”, añadió.

Dificultades para que Estados Unidos realice sus objetivo estratégicos Para Estados Unidos, un Iraq estable y amistoso puede servir de fuente fidedigna de petróleo y al mismo tiempo como un país que puede contrarrestar la influencia de Irán en la región de Oriente Medio.

Anthony Cordesman, experto de defensa y seguridad del Centro de Estudios Estratégicos e Internacionales, afirmó que, por supuesto, Estados Unidos desea semejante “Estado fin”, pero “llevará como mínimo otros cinco años y probablemente diez”

Cordesman cree que el hecho de que deje Iraq no significa que Estados Unidos “se vaya a casa”. Las seis brigadas dejadas en Iraq tras la retirada pueden llevar a cabo misiones de combates.

Michael O’Hanlon, director de Investigación de Política Exterior del Brookings Institution de Washington, afirmó: “Todavía vamos a tener mucha capacidad y todavía estamos ayudando a asegurar a los iraquíes que están yendo en la dirección adecuada”.

Según el plan del presidente Barack Obama, Washington retirará a los restantes 50.000 soldados para finales de año. Cordesman escribió en su columna de este mes que esto no significaría el final de la misión iraquí, ya que el país es “un auténtico interés vital de seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos y de sus amigos y aliados”.

Afirmó que Estados Unidos forjaría una asociación con Iraq y que proporcionaría al país ayuda y asistencia en seguridad con la presencia militar estadounidense en la región.

Por lo que se refiere a las implicaciones políticas de la retirada dentro de Estados Unidos, los expertos están de acuerdo en que la retirada cumple una promesa electoral de Obama, pero que no tendrá mucha influencia en las elecciones a mitad de mandato [en noviembre].

Thomas Mann, un experto político del Brookings Institution, afirmó que Obama “se esta retirando [de Iraq] por su promesa electoral de retirar las tropas de combate de Iraq”, y que la guerra “no es un tema” de la campaña de otoño.

“Nuestra presencia allí está disminuyendo en un sentido, ya no estamos involucrados en acciones de combate, por tanto los demócratas están contentos porque aquello parece estar llegando a un final, los republicanos ahora no se inclinan a decir: ‘No, queremos mantener más soldados en Iraq’, [sino que] creen que hemos estado a la altura de nuestras obligaciones con los iraquíes” , afirmó.

*Recordemos que sigue sin formarse gobierno tras las pasadas elecciones de marzo (N. de la t.).

Texto original en inglés: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20834

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Ruanda, ¿un modelo económico para África?

September 4th, 2010 by Renaud Duterme

Tras la elección triunfal y controvertida de Paul Kagamé al frente de Ruanda, los debates sobre la situación del país se suceden a buen ritmo. Si con frecuencia se pone en tela de juicio el carácter democrático del régimen, no ocurre lo mismo con las muy liberales reformas económicas de las que el país se ha convertido en la punta de lanza. Desde todas partes se saluda esta orientación, con las instituciones financieras internacionales (IFI) y otros proveedores de fondos a la cabeza. Es cierto que algunos progresos pueden dar motivos para ser optimistas: tasa de crecimiento del 8% para la capital |1|, progreso en la lucha contra el paludismo, lucha contra la corrupción, campaña masiva de alfabetización, progreso en la educación (la escuela primaria es gratuita y obligatoria para todos), etc. A pesar de eso, algunos elementos vienen a matizar estas buenas noticias.

La persistencia de las desigualdades

En primer lugar, el mantenimiento de fuertes desigualdades: entre ricos y pobres, entre las ciudades y el campo. Las buenas cifras de crecimiento del país no beneficiarán al conjunto de la población. En efecto, según el indicador de medida de las desigualdades, Ruanda se clasifica en la parte baja de la clasificación |2|. Ahora bien, la historia reciente del país ilustra hasta qué punto una situación social y económica muy desigual puede ser un factor de profunda inestabilidad y favorecer una instrumentalización de las frustraciones, como ocurrió antes del genocidio de 1994 |3|. Quienes apoyan la liberalización del país raramente mencionan este abismo entre ricos y pobres. Sin embargo, a semejanza de muchos otros ejemplos, estas desigualdades tienen su origen directamente en las diferentes medidas promovidas por las instituciones internacionales (privatizaciones, desvinculación del Estado, etc.).

La apertura al gran capital

A continuación y relacionado con la anterior, la apertura sin barreras al capital extranjero. Testimonio de ello son los muy buenos resultados del país en el informe Doing Business 2010 [“Haciendo negocios 2010”] del Banco Mundial |4| que clasifica a los países según el clima de los negocios para guiar a los empresarios en sus inversiones. Ruanda registra el mejor progreso de la clasificación según la reglamentación de los negocios y pasa del puesto 149 al 67. Ahora bien, este progreso saludado por una parte y por otra se explica sobre todo tanto por el aumento drástico de la flexibilidad de los horarios de los trabajadores |5| como un aumento de la facilidad para el despido en las empresas instaladas en Ruanda |6|. La protección de las inversiones también es un criterio en el que el país progresa de manera importante puesto que gana 144 puntos en relación a 2009 |7|. Por consiguiente, se constata que estas reformas benefician sobre todo al capital en detrimento del trabajo, principio elemental de la ideología neoliberal (otro elemento que va en este sentido es la disminución del impuesto de sociedades que ha pasado del 50 al 35% |8|). Se puede ver que el gobierno sigue al pie de la letra los consejos de Tony Blair quien durante una visita a Kigali en mayo de 2009 subrayó la necesidad que tenía el país de promover las inversiones en el sector privado |9|. Todo esto sería insignificante si no tuviera consecuencias directas sobre la población. Ahora bien, como denuncia la International Trade Union Confederation [Confederación Internacional de Sindicatos], “Los patrones ya no tienen que hace consultas previas con los representantes de los empleados [concernientes a las reestructuraciones], ni avisar de ello a la inspección de trabajo”|10|. Evidentemente, este tipo de políticas lleva a un aumento de los beneficios de los patronos en detrimento del bienestar de los trabajadores. Además, lo más frecuente es que los beneficios se repatrien a los países de origen de los inversores. La siguiente gráfica muestra que estos repatriamietos aumentan claramente desde hace varios años. Aunque las cifras se detengan en 2006, se podría apostar a que los datos de los años siguientes siguieron desbocándose, sobre todo tras las políticas de neoliberalización emprendidas por Kigali. Es posible que tu navegador no permita visualizar esta imagen.

Graphique réalisé par nos soins sur base des chiffres du Global Development Finance 2009 de la Banque Mondiale

Otro problema de estas inversiones extranjeras es que dependen de factores diferentes de las políticas económicas establecidas por los gobiernos. Así, para un inversor la estabilidad política y macroeconómica es un elemento fundamental en la elección del lugar de inversión |11|. La volatilidad de los capitales aumentó de manera importante con la liberalización financiera. Por consiguiente, en caso de que las tensiones políticas amenacen a la estabilidad del país, se corre un grave riesgo de que los capitales invertidos abandonen el país tan rápido como llegaron, lo que llevaría a agravar una situación ya precaria para la mayoría de la población.

Una dependencia constante

Por consiguiente, la dependencia del país de estas aportaciones exteriores puede resultar un problema no desdeñable. Esta dependencia ya no se limita a las inversiones. Así, en el dominio comercial los ingresos de exportaciones de Ruanda están muy concentrados en algunos productos de débil valor unitario (principalmente té y café); la ayuda extranjera sigue representando una quinta parte de los ingresos del país y en el dominio financiero la mayoría de los bancos pertenecen a inversores extranjeros, |12| etc. Por todas estas razones, hablar de Ruanda en términos de modelo económico en el que se podría inspirar toda África es sin lugar a dudas exagerado. Aunque acompañen algunos éxitos, la vulnerabilidad del país en relación con los avatares de la economía es tal que hay un gran riesgo de ver degradarse la situación del país a toda velocidad en caso de un choque importante.

El FMI nunca está lejos

La situación descrita no es nueva para cualquier persona que se interese por la historia del país. Recordemos que en la década de 1970 los proveedores de fondos ya lo consideraban un ejemplo para la región. Por desgracia, la crisis económica mundial había vencido el entusiasmo que prevalecía, con las consecuencias que conocemos. Aunque las tensiones étnicas de la época parezcan calmadas, es razonable temer los efectos a largo plazo de esta liberalización a ultranza impulsada por las IFI con el aval del Estado, sobre todo si ésta prosigue con la exclusión de la mayoría de los ruandeses. Por ello, la firma el pasado mes de junio de un acuerdo entre el FMI y Ruanda es un tanto sorprendente. Y es que este acuerdo permitirá al país «basarse durante tres años en los consejos de expertos del FMI |13|». Visto el fiasco de las políticas económicas impulsadas por el FMI |14|, no se puede menos que preocuparse.

Muy felizmente, el país ha rechazado un nuevo préstamo del FMI. Aunque las razones invocadas son más sus éxitos económicos que la política laxista de los préstamos de las IFI para con el régimen de Habyarimana, esto podría evitar a la población ruandesa estar sometida a las decisiones de estos creadores de miseria. Esperemos que nuestras inquietudes respecto a los riesgos que corre el país a consecuencia de sus políticas sean infundados. En caso contrario, es poco probable que el país puede negar otra vez nada al FMI.

Notas:

|1| Aunque como han demostrado muchos estudios, no se ha demostrado la correlación entre crecimiento y bienestar.

|2| El indicador que mide la desigualdad de los ingresos de un país dado es el coeficiente de Gini. Varía entre 0 y 1. 0, que representan una igualdad perfecta y una desigualdad total. En el caso de Ruanda llega al 0,468, lo que sitúa al país en al parte baja de la clasificación. Véase www.statistiques-mondiales.com… .

|3| Para información sobre los factores económicos del genocidio, véase http://www.cadtm.org/Rwanda-un-geno… http://www.cadtm.org/Le-Rwanda-les-… .

|4| http://francais.doingbusiness.org/E…

|5| El índice de rigidez de los horarios pasó de 40 en 2009 a 0 en 2010.

|6| El índice de dificultad para despedir pasó de 30 en 2009 a 10 en 2010.

|7| Ruanda pasó del puesto 171 en 2009 al 27 en 2010.

|8| MILLET Damien, op. cit., p.86.

|9| http://www.afriquejet.com/afrique-c…

|10| http://www.ituc-csi.org/doing-busin…

|11| ZACHARIE Arnaud, Les enjeux de la globalisation dans les pays en développement, Université Libre de Bruxelles, curso 2008-2009.

|12| http://www.tv5.org/cms/chaine-franc…

|13| http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20100618-…

|14| Fue sobre todo a raíz de un programa de ajuste estructural cuando aumentó drásticamente la pauperización de la sociedad ruandesa en la década de 1989 lo que tuvo como consecuencia que la población desocupada contribuyó a la propaganda genocida.

Texto original: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20850

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

¡Principio del fin!

September 4th, 2010 by Elías Argudín Sánchez

Como nunca antes el planeta se ve amenazado por una de las tantas espadas de Damocles que penden sobre las cabezas de sus habitantes. Una filosa y pesada arma que cuelga de una hebra milimétrica sacada de un pelo. Dentro de solo unos días, unas horas como quien dice, expirará el plazo fijado por la Resolución del Consejo de Seguridad (CS) de la ONU, que autoriza a detener, abordar e inspeccionar en alta mar buques civiles (mercantes) iraníes, con el propósito de decomisar las cargas que no cumplan los requisitos establecidos por tal acuerdo.

Creo que a estas alturas a nadie le quepan dudas de lo que ello puede significar.

Está llegando a término el conteo regresivo, iniciado cuando los miembros del Consejo y en particular aquellos con derecho al veto, pusieron a la nación persa entre la espada y la pared y al planeta a caminar sobre el filo de una navaja, al aprobar una cuarta ronda de sanciones de amplio alcance, pero injustas y equivocadas, y algunas – como la citada en el párrafo anterior- tan inaceptables que pueden llevar a una confrontación militar, lo cual inevitablemente conduciría a una agresión de gran envergadura (léase nuclear) contra el país centroasiático, por parte de Estados Unidos e Israel, como bien ha venido alertando Fidel desde hace bastante tiempo. Ese puede ser el principio del fin de las especies y la Tierra misma.

Y aunque pudiera parecer paradójico y hasta increíble, la Resolución fue aprobada unos días después de la negativa del CS de adoptar una moción de condena a Israel por su ataque en aguas internacionales contra la Flotilla por la Libertad, con ayuda humanitaria para las comunidades palestinas de la Franja de Gaza. Saque usted las conclusiones.

Todas las evidencias revelan que el legítimo derecho de Irán al desarrollo de un programa de uso pacífico de la energía nuclear más que una amenaza –como sostienen y quieren hacerle creer a la opinión pública internacional Washington y Tel Aviv- es en realidad el pretexto que les viene como anillo al dedo para justificar sus pretensiones de invasión y sometimiento que desde hace mucho tiempo han abrigado para con la nación persa.

Ali Akbar Salehi, jefe de la Organización Atómica de Irán, ha dicho que seguirán potenciando la capacidad de enriquecer uranio con fines pacíficos, decisión a que fueron forzados después que se rompiera el acuerdo con algunas potencias occidentales y la Agencia Internacional de Energía Atómica (IAEA por sus siglas en inglés), en virtud del cual enviarían parte de su uranio enriquecido en bajos niveles al exterior a cambio de combustible para un reactor médico.

No se puede pasar por alto que Teherán aceptó la propuesta conjunta de Ankara y Brasilia de enriquecer en Turquía el uranio que utilizarían en su programa nuclear, en proporciones que impidieran la fabricación de armas de exterminio en masa y además reiterado su anuencia a una inspección , siempre y cuando no se enarbolen el chantaje y las presiones.

Tampoco puede obviarse que todavía están por encontrarse las presuntas armas de destrucción masiva de Sadam Hussein, lo cual sirvió de argumento a Estados Unidos para llevar a vías de hecho la invasión y ocupación de Irak. Del mismo modo que el hombre es el único animal que tropieza con la misma piedra parece ser que también algunos se dejan engañar dos veces con la misma mentira.

Estados Unidos, sus aliados y de igual modo la ONU condenan a Irán -firmante del Tratado de No Proliferación nuclear- por la supuesta pretendida aspiración de fabricar armas de extermino en masa, pero en cambio mantienen una parcialidad escandalosa a favor de Israel, que no ha rubricado el referido Tratado y además es dueño de un arsenal nuclear de consideración, precisamente adquirido a cuenta de la Casa Blanca.

Ahora les asustan las posibles armas nucleares de Teherán, sin embargo en tiempos del Sha, el títere a quien le entregaron las riendas del país con la encomienda de ser el gendarme de Asia, prestaron ayuda y asesoramiento para que las desarrollara. ¡Cuánto cinismo!

Un reconocido analista apunta que las razones reales del empecinamiento de Estados Unidos con Irán, además de las apetencias por controlar el abundante petróleo de la región y el contrapeso creciente que hace Teherán a Israel, hay que buscarlas en la “renuencia arrogante a que rivales como Rusia recuperada, la China emergente y los competidores imperialistas por la supremacía mundial obtengan mayor acceso a los recursos naturales y un punto de apoyo estable en la zona.”

A quienes desestiman la posibilidad de que se desate la guerra, les advierto solo una cosa: el río suena y es porque trae piedras. Fidel ha expuesto 238 razones irrefutables para estar preocupados y ha alertado sobre las nefastas consecuencias que de tal enfrentamiento se pueden derivar para la vida.

El Líder Histórico de la Revolución cubana, quien ha venido alertando -casi sin descansar un segundo-, a la opinión pública internacional sobre la posibilidad de un conflicto nuclear de incalculables consecuencias, ha dicho con una claridad meridiana:

“A partir del 7 de septiembre, el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU analizará si Irán ha detenido su programa nuclear. Si conforme a la letra de la última Resolución, Estados Unidos o Israel intentan inspeccionar un mercante iraní en aguas internacionales, tendrán que usar la fuerza. Es el punto donde nos encontramos en estos momentos…”

Y a reglón seguido Fidel aclara que quien haya leído el artículo de Jeffrey Goldberg titulado El punto tras el que no hay vuelta atrás, conoce lo que significa la contradicción milenaria y prácticamente insoluble entre ambos países, “nada más y nada menos que en la era nuclear.”

Para luego afirmar categóricamente que desde su punto de vista “no existe la menor posibilidad de que los líderes políticos y religiosos de Irán acepten esa exigencia.”

Según Michel Chossudovsky, en un artículo publicado el pasado 9 de Agosto, en ningún momento, después de Hiroshima y Nagasaki en agosto de 1945, la humanidad ha estado más cerca de lo inimaginable, de un holocausto nuclear.

En ese mismo trabajo también defiende la tesis de que

todas las garantías de la era de Guerra Fría, que categorizó la bomba nuclear como “un arma del último recurso”, se han descartado. Acciones militares “ofensivas” con uso de armas nucleares se describen como actos de “defensa propia” ahora… La nueva doctrina nuclear de Estados Unidos está basada en “una mezcla de capacidades de ataque”. La última, que es aplicable al bombardeo aéreo planeado específicamente para Irán por el Pentágono, prevé el uso de armas nucleares en combinación con armas convencionales.

Todo parece indicar que la guerra es inevitable pero se impone seguir sumando voces con el fin de impedirlo. Los ciudadanos del planeta queremos vivir en paz, que existan organismos internacionales que regulen los conflictos con imparcialidad y justeza y no que una superpotencia siga haciendo la ley en todas partes. Necesitamos salir de la lógica neoliberal imperialista que solo beneficia a los más poderosos. Nadie puede obligarnos a optar por la guerra y la autodestrucción.

José Martí, Héroe Nacional de Cuba y hombre de largas luces, alertó sobre la postura a adoptar ante los conflictos bélicos: es hora ya de que las fuerzas de construcción triunfen en la colosal batalla humana a las fuerzas de destrucción -dijo. La guerra, que era antes el primero de los recursos, es ya hoy el último de ellos: mañana será un crimen.

El mañana de Martí es el hoy de los actuales habitantes del planeta.

VIDEO: 9/11 Cameraman Faces Extradition to United States

September 4th, 2010 by Kurt Sonnenfeld

The Internet has provided the world with, if nothing else, instantaneous access to news and in-depth information previously available only to governments and think tanks. It has also allowed for the exchange of data and analyses between groups and individuals around the globe, in part by making one tongue, English, the language of the World Wide Web. It remains to be seen whether the keystroke is mightier than the sword. 

An illustrative case in point is an August 29 report from China’s Xinhua News Agency on a news article by Egypt’s Middle East News Agency regarding a study conducted by the Strategic Foresight Group in India. The latter, a report published in a book entitled The Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, calculates that conflict in the area over the last 20 years has cost the nations and people of the region 12 trillion U.S. dollars.

The Indian report adds that the Middle East has recorded “a high record of military expenses in the past 20 years and is considered the most armed region in the world.” [1]

The study was originally released in January of 2009 and was recently translated into Arabic by the Institute for Peace Studies of Egypt. It estimates that in a peaceful environment the nations of the Middle East could have achieved an average annual growth in gross domestic product of 8 percent.

Sundeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Foresight Group and one of the report’s authors, was quoted in January of last year saying of the region’s nations, “The choice they have to make is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace.” [2] 

An account of the presentation of the report last year added that the cost of conflict in the region is estimated at 2 percent of growth in gross domestic product.

In regards to specific cases, it stated:

“One conclusion is that individuals in most countries are half as rich as they would have been if peace had taken off in 1991.

“Incomes per head in Israel next year would be $44,241 with peace against a likely $23,304. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip they would be $2,427 instead of $1,220.

“For Iraq, income per head next year is projected at $2,375, one quarter of the $9,681 that would have been possible without the conflicts of the past two decades.” [3]

Other sources estimate the overall rate of unemployment in the Middle East at 20-25 percent, with joblessness in nations like Lebanon and Yemen at 30 percent or more. This despite the fact that the region has achieved one of the more impressive successes in improving educational opportunities, measured by the amount of years students spend in school, in the world.

The Middle East requires comprehensive regional development, but instead is receiving billions of dollars worth of arms. The area’s nations could be spending that sum on rural and urban infrastructure, dams and reservoirs, desalination and irrigation, forestation and fisheries, industry and agriculture, medicine and public health, housing and information technology, equitable integration of cities and villages, and repairing the ravages of past wars rather than on U.S. warplanes, attack helicopters and interceptor missiles.

An American news report of a year ago revealed that, according to a U.S.-based consultancy firm, several Middle Eastern nations are slated to spend over $100 billion on weapons in the upcoming five years. Most of those arms purchases – “unprecedented packages” – will be by Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the “core of this arms-buying spree will undoubtedly be the $20 billion U.S. package of weapons systems over 10 years for the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.” The expansion of American arms sales and military presence in the Persian Gulf targets Iran in the first place.

The same feature documented plans for the U.S. to supply Egypt with a $13 billion arms package and Israel with $30 billion in weaponry over ten years, the latter “a 25 percent increase over previous levels.” [4]

A year later it was disclosed that Washington will sell $13 billion worth of arms and military equipment to Iraq, “a huge order of tanks, ships and hardware that U.S. officials say shows Iraqi-U.S. military ties will be tight for years to come.” A $3 billion deal for 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighters is also in the works. Iraq will become one of the largest purchasers of U.S. weapons in the world.

 F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighter

According to the U.S. Army’s Lieutenant General Michael Barbero, ranking American officer in charge of training and advising Iraqi troops, such military agreements help “build their capabilities, first and foremost; and second, it builds our strategic relationship for the future.” [5]

With 4.7 million Iraqis displaced since 2003, 2.2 million as refugees in Jordan, Syria and other nations, and a near collapse of the nation’s civilian infrastructure since the U.S. invasion, surely there are better ways of spending $16 billion that on American arms.

To Iraq’s south, last month the U.S. announced one of the largest weapons sales in its history: A $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon notified Congress of the colossal transaction which the U.S. legislative body will approve later this month.

Over the next decade Washington will supply Saudi Arabia with F-15SA Strike Eagle jet fighters (SA is for Saudi Advanced), 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 60 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, helicopter-carrying offshore patrol vessels and upgrades for the 96 Patriot Advanced Capability-2 interceptor missiles already stationed in the kingdom.

Last month Kuwait announced that it planned to purchase more than 200 U.S. Patriot anti-ballistic missiles in a $900 million deal. The U.S. Defense Department also advised Congress of that transaction, stating “Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons.”

The news agency which reported the above, Agence France-Presse, also provided the following information:

“The U.S. has several military bases in Kuwait, including Camp Arifjan, one of the biggest U.S. military facilities in the region. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 U.S. troops stationed in Kuwait.” [6] The American Fifth Fleet is headquartered in neighboring Bahrain.

The U.S. is also providing Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interception batteries.

Last year Washington approved the transfer of a Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missile shield system to the United Arab Emirates. The deal, estimated to cost $7 billion, is the first transfer of the advanced interceptor missiles outside the U.S.

In May the Barack Obama administration requested $205 million from Congress for the Israeli Iron Dome layered interceptor missile shield, in the words of a Pentagon spokesman “the first direct U.S. investment in the Iron Dome system.” [7]

In the autumn of 2008 the U.S. opened an interceptor missile radar base in Israel’s Negev Desert centered on a Forward-Based X-Band Radar with a range of 2,900 miles.     

This August 15 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced his country is to receive – one can’t say buy – 20 U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters worth $96 million apiece along with spare parts, maintenance and simulators. “The $2.7 billion deal will be paid for using U. S. military assistance.” [8] The fifth generation stealth warplanes are the world’s most advanced. According to Israeli government sources in reference to the prospect of eventual deployment of Russian air defenses to Iran and Syria, “the purchase of F-35 fighters would effectively eliminate the threat from Russian-made S-300 air defense systems because a series of computer simulations had clearly demonstrated that new U.S. stealth fighters outperform the Russian missiles.”

This year the State Department confirmed that $2.55 billion in U.S. military assistance was given to Israel in 2009 and that the figure will “increase to $3 billion in 2012, and will total $3.15 billion a year from 2013 to 2018.” [9] That is, will grow by almost 25 percent.

Since the administration of Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski bought off Anwar Sadat and through him Egypt in 1978 at the expense of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and other Arab states, Washington has provided Cairo with $1.3 billion a year in military aid, adding up to $50 billion by 2008.

In January of this year General David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command and now in charge of 150,000 American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, visited Yemen and called for more than doubling military aid to the strife-torn nation from $70 to $150 million annually. He was later forced to retract his comments, but the Wall Street Journal reported on September 2 that “The U.S. military’s Central Command has proposed pumping as much as $1.2 billion over five years into building up Yemen’s security forces.” The United Nations Statistics Division estimated Yemeni gross national income per capita for 2008 at $1,260.

The U.S. has launched several missile strikes inside Yemen over the past nine months and “U.S. Special Operations teams…play an expansive role in the country.” [10] Funding for what the Pentagon describes as a counterterrorism program in the country has grown from $5 million a year in fiscal year 2006 to over $155 million four years later.

Washington is planning to add unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) equipped with lethal missiles operated by the Central Intelligence Agency to its operations in Yemen, replicating the same arrangement in Pakistan.

After the so-called Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005 – modeled after comparable “color revolutions” in the former Soviet states of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan in 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively – led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country and the installation of pro-Western Fouad Siniora as prime minister, the U.S. reestablished military contacts with Lebanon, which had been broken off after 1983. A dozen U.S. military officials travelled to Beirut at the end of the year, inspecting bases as part of a “comprehensive assessment of the condition of U.S.-made equipment in the Lebanon armed forces.” [11]

After the Israeli invasion of the country the following summer, Washington started military aid to the nation of four million people which two years later had exceeded $410 million. According to an Associated Press account in 2008, “The [George W. Bush] administration has spent about $1.3 billion in the past two years trying to prop up Siniora’s Western-allied government, including about $400 million in military aid.” [12]

On October 6, 2008 the U.S. established a joint military commission with Lebanon “to bolster military cooperation.”

The, by Lebanese standards, unprecedented donations of arms and military equipment by the Pentagon were explicitly for internal use – against Hezbollah – and for deployment at the Syrian border. Not for defending the nation against the country that had invaded it in 1978, 1983 and 2006 – Israel.

On August 2 of this year, a day before two Lebanese soldiers were killed in a firefight with Israeli troops on Lebanese territory, Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blocked a $100 million security assistance package to the Lebanese military. There should be no misunderstanding: The Pentagon has not built up the armed forces of post-”Cedar” Lebanon to defend the nation, its people or even the army itself.

The sum blocked by Berman, added to that already provided by the Pentagon, well exceeds half a billion dollars. That amount of money would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of 900,000 Lebanese displaced and in rebuilding some of the 30,000 housing units destroyed by the Israeli military in 2006.

Weapons are the most expensive of manufactured goods and the least productive, generating no value and designed only to destroy and kill. They are not produced solely or primarily to be displayed in parades or at air shows.

The Middle East is that part of the world that has known the least peace in the past 60 years and that is in most need of it. Regional disputes – over land and borders, over water and other resources – need to be resolved in a non-antagonistic manner.

The foreign and national security policies of the region’s states need to be demilitarized. Disarmament of both conventional and nuclear forces is imperative.

Washington pouring over $100 billion in news arms into the Middle East will not contribute to the safety and security of its inhabitants. It will not benefit the nations of the region. In truth not a single one of them.

Notes

1) Xinhua News Agency, August 29, 2010
2) Reuters, January 23, 2009
3) Ibid
4) United Press International, August 25, 2009
5) USA TODAY, August 31, 2010
6) Agence France-Press, September 1, 2010
7) Reuters, May 13, 2010
8) Russian Information Agency Novosti, August 15, 2010
9) Reuters, May 13, 2010
10) Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2010
11) Chicago Tribune, March 2, 2006
12) Associated Press, May 14, 2008

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India to acquire advanced U.S.-made anti-ship missiles

September 4th, 2010 by Global Research

MUMBAI, India: India has signed an agreement with the U.S. government to buy the advanced anti-ship missiles to improve coastal aerial combat capability, local media reported on Friday.

The agreement worth about 170 million U.S. dollars was signed late last month, and the Indian Air Force (IAF) will acquire 24 U. S-made Harpoon Block II air-to-surface missiles, the Indian newspaper the Economic Times reported.

According to the report, the deal has been negotiated for more than two years, and the former Bush administration approved the sales of the missiles during Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony’ s visit to Washington in 2008.

The report said the Indian Navy’s air fleet lacks the lethal coastal anti-ship capability due to the shortages of the advanced fixed-wing aircraft and weapons. Those Harpoon missiles will be used for the coastal aerial guard by the Jaguar ground attack planes in the IAF .

It will be the first time for India to buy the advance anti- ship missiles from the United States in dozens of years.

Harpoon is a world-known all-weather, over-the-horizon anti-ship missile. Its launching platforms include the fixed-wing aircraft, surface ships and submarines.

Harpoon Block II is an improved version of the Harpoon family for the littoral water anti-ship striking.

Government Policy Caused America’s Unemployment Crisis

September 4th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

 

The unemployment rate has risen again for the the first time in 4 months. I predicted a growing, long-term unemployment problem last year.

Indeed, even after the government plays with the numbers to make them look better (using inaccurate birth-death models and other tricks-of-the-trade), this is how the current jobs downturn compares with other post-WWII recessions:

chart of the day, scariest jobs ever, sept 2010

In fact, as demonstrated below, the government’s actions have directly contributed to the rising tide of unemployment.

The Government Has Encouraged the Offshoring of American Jobs for More Than 50 Years

President Eisenhower re-wrote the tax laws so that they would favor investment abroad. President Kennedy railed against tax provisions that “consistently favor United States private investment abroad compared with investment in our own economy”, but nothing has changed under either Democratic or Republican administrations.

For the last 50-plus years, the tax benefits to American companies making things abroad has encouraged jobs to move out of the U.S.

The Government Has Encouraged Mergers

The government has actively encouraged mergers, which destroy jobs.

For example, the Treasury Department encouraged banks to use the bailout money to buy their competitors, and pushed through an amendment to the tax laws which rewards mergers in the banking industry.

This is nothing new.

Citigroup’s former chief executive says that when Citigroup was formed in 1998 out of the merger of banking and insurance giants, Alan Greenspan told him, “I have nothing against size. It doesn’t bother me at all”.

And the government has actively encouraged the big banks to grow into mega-banks.

The Government Has Let Unemployment Rise in an Attempt to Fight Inflation

As I noted last year:

The Federal Reserve is mandated by law to maximize employment. The relevant statute states:

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.

***

The Fed could have stemmed the unemployment crisis by demanding that banks lend more as a condition to the various government assistance programs, but Mr. Bernanke failed to do so.

Ryan Grim argues that the Fed might have broken the law by letting unemployment rise in order to keep inflation low:

The Fed is mandated by law to maximize employment, but focuses on inflation — and “expected inflation” — at the expense of job creation. At its most recent meeting, board members bluntly stated that they feared banks might increase lending, which they worried could lead to inflation.

Board members expressed concern “that banks might seek to reduce appreciably their excess reserves as the economy improves by purchasing securities or by easing credit standards and expanding their lending substantially. Such a development, if not offset by Federal Reserve actions, could give additional impetus to spending and, potentially, to actual and expected inflation.” That summary was spotted by Naked Capitalism and is included in a summary of the minutes of the most recent meeting…

Suffering high unemployment in order to keep inflation low cuts against the Fed’s legal mandate. Or, to put it more bluntly, it may be illegal.

In fact, the unemployment situation is getting worse, and many leading economists say that – under Mr. Bernanke’s leadership – America is suffering a permanent destruction of jobs.

For example, JPMorgan Chase’s Chief Economist Bruce Kasman told Bloomberg:

[We've had a] permanent destruction of hundreds of thousands of jobs in industries from housing to finance.

The chief economists for Wells Fargo Securities, John Silvia, says:

Companies “really have diminished their willingness to hire labor for any production level,” Silvia said. “It’s really a strategic change,” where companies will be keeping fewer employees for any particular level of sales, in good times and bad, he said.

And former Merrill Lynch chief economist David Rosenberg writes:

The number of people not on temporary layoff surged 220,000 in August and the level continues to reach new highs, now at 8.1 million. This accounts for 53.9% of the unemployed — again a record high — and this is a proxy for permanent job loss, in other words, these jobs are not coming back. Against that backdrop, the number of people who have been looking for a job for at least six months with no success rose a further half-percent in August, to stand at 5 million — the long-term unemployed now represent a record 33% of the total pool of joblessness.

And see this.

In fact, the Fed intentionally curbed lending by banks in an attempt to stem inflation, without addressing whether public banks could provide credit.

The Government Has Allowed Wealth to be Concentrated in Fewer and Fewer Hands

As I pointed out a year ago:

A new report by University of California, Berkeley economics professor Emmanuel Saez concludes that income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression.

The report shows that:

  • Income inequality is worse than it has been since at least 1917
  • “The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007″
  • “In the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth.”

As others have pointed out, the average wage of Americans, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1970s. The minimum wage, adjusting for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1950s. See this. On the other hand, billionaires have never had it better.

As I wrote in September:

The economy is like a poker game . . . it is human nature to want to get all of the chips, but – if one person does get all of the chips – the game ends.

In other words, the game of capitalism only continues as long as everyone has some money to play with. If the government and corporations take everyone’s money, the game ends.

The fed and Treasury are not giving more chips to those who need them: the American consumer. Instead, they are giving chips to the 800-pound gorillas at the poker table, such as Wall Street investment banks. Indeed, a good chunk of the money used by surviving mammoth players to buy the failing behemoths actually comes from the Fed…

This is not a question of big government versus small government, or republican versus democrat. It is not even a question of Keynes versus Friedman (two influential, competing economic thinkers).

It is a question of focusing any government funding which is made to the majority of poker players – instead of the titans of finance – so that the game can continue. If the hundreds of billions or trillions spent on bailouts had instead been given to ease the burden of consumers, we would have already recovered from the financial crisis.

I noted in April:

FDR’s Fed chairman Marriner S. Eccles explained:

As in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

***

When most people lose their poker chips – and the game is set up so that only those with the most chips get more – free market capitalism is destroyed, as the “too big to fails” crowd out everyone else.

And the economy as a whole is destroyed. Remember, consumer spending accounts for the lion’s share of economic activity. If most consumers are out of chips, the economy slumps.

And unemployment soars.

As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote yesterday:

Where have all the economic gains gone? Mostly to the top.

***

It’s no coincidence that the last time income was this concentrated was in 1928. I do not mean to suggest that such astonishing consolidations of income at the top directly cause sharp economic declines. The connection is more subtle.

The rich spend a much smaller proportion of their incomes than the rest of us. So when they get a disproportionate share of total income, the economy is robbed of the demand it needs to keep growing and creating jobs.

What’s more, the rich don’t necessarily invest their earnings and savings in the American economy; they send them anywhere around the globe where they’ll summon the highest returns — sometimes that’s here, but often it’s the Cayman Islands, China or elsewhere. The rich also put their money into assets most likely to attract other big investors (commodities, stocks, dot-coms or real estate), which can become wildly inflated as a result.

***

THE Great Depression and its aftermath demonstrate that there is only one way back to full recovery: through more widely shared prosperity.

***

And as America’s middle class shared more of the economy’s gains, it was able to buy more of the goods and services the economy could provide. The result: rapid growth and more jobs. By contrast, little has been done since 2008 to widen the circle of prosperity.

So through it’s policies encouraging the offshoring of jobs, mergers, decreasing of economic activity to fight inflation, allowing wealth to be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and other policy mistakes (like pretending that there is a “jobless recovery“), the government has channeled water away from U.S. jobs, creating a worsening unemployment drought.

Note for Keynesians: As I have repeatedly explained, the government hasn’t spent money on the right kind of things to stimulate employment. See this and this.

Note for followers of Austrian economic theory: I have repeatedly railed against the government artificially propping up asset prices and leverage, so that malinvestments can’t be cleared, and we we have a stagnant, zombie economy which prevents job creation.

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In a futile attempt to keep the economic and financial system afloat, QE2 is underway. It began in early June as banks changed the rules for awarding loans. Their efforts over the past few months have only met with moderate success. Banks had cut back lending by some 25% over the past 16 months mainly to small and medium-sized companies. In the process the economy slowed down markedly and unemployment shot up to levels not seen since the 1930s. These first attempts to restart a sliding economy have so far not met with success. It was not long after that the real decision makers at the Fed that QE2 was going to be needed. We saw the marshalling of financial and economic forces and the tell tale sign of a stock market moving upward for unexplained reasons. That tipped us to QE2.

This interventionism effective for the short term will again on the long-term drive out real investment. The kind that creates jobs and profits, that does not directly reflect the financial system. The policies being put in place by the Fed are the antithesis of a free market not only because they interfere with a natural process, but also because they are borne of debt created out of thin air – debt that will have to be repaid by the taxpayer. Much of the funding being created by the Fed will and has been used to fund the debts of the Treasury and government agencies, which produce nothing but more debt. In this process they also crowd out other borrowers of money, which ultimately leads to higher interest rates and offsets banks’ ability to lend. We are currently seeing a perceived flight to quality into US Treasuries from the market and from corporations. The perception that government’s cannot go broke, particularly the US government, is pure fantasy. The profligacy of debt has to be paid by citizens. That takes purchasing power out of the hands of the consumer, which in turn pushes the economy deeper into depression.

Just to show you how out of touch with reality the administration and Congress is the Democrats have introduced two new bills, The Debt Free America Act, HR 4646, which would put a 1% sales tax on credit card and securities transactions in the US and the Automatic IRA Act of 2010, which would decree a mandatory payroll tax on all workers of 3%, to be used to purchase government retirement bonds. That tax is expected to rise to 15% within three years.

This Automatic IRA Act is a foot in the door for financing government deficits. It will be followed by legislation that will force present IRA, 401k and all retirement plans to purchase retirement treasury bonds, which will be called, Guaranteed Government Annuities.  This has been buried within the Automatic IRA legislation.

The labor department has an agenda coming up next week on September 14th and 15th, which would decide on whether this so-called lifetime annuity should be required for private retirement accounts of all kinds.

The former transaction tax, we are told by our people in Washington, will rise to 3% within three years. This is the worst possible thing that can happen to the economy. Congress is almost totally purchased, so we see little resistance to passage, prior to the end of the year. The elitists are about to bury the economy. The President has been in office 19 months and Treasury has increased debt by $2.74 trillion, or by $144 billion a month. Freddie Mac had a quarterly loss of $6 billion and wants $1.8 billion more in taxpayer aid. You are seeing the nationalization of housing, as we saw in the Soviet Union, as we predicted seven years ago.

Auto=IRA bill formally proposed in Senate

http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20100809/FREE/100809903?template=printart

Debt Free America Act

http://www.snopes.com/politics/taxes/debtfree.asp

The Fed tells us they will not create new money and credit to fund QE2. We do not believe that for one second. They also stated they will use the proceeds from maturing mortgages they bought from GSEs, but they will sell MBS and CDOs to fund the operation. As of now we do not really know what those numbers are, but we do know that the banks that sold them to the Fed are gearing up to buy them back. We can promise you the Fed has every intention of using any avenue to fund QE if necessary. Either that or they pull the plug and go into a deflationary depression. Those within the markets are confused and disappointed because they do not know which way the Fed is headed. That is why markets are so volatile along with the brazen in your face market manipulation by the “Plunge Protection Team.” That is why so many investors have headed for the exist.

It has been two years since the Fed took on mountains of GSE paper along with the MBS and CDOs. Had they not done that it all would have collapsed taking the banks, Wall Street, insurance companies and many others into bankruptcy. The taxpayers were left to pay for the losses and at least the holders were saved for now. As this paper matures it will again be used to fund the GSE’s and the Treasury, and the MBS and CDOs will be sold to raise funds for QE. That won’t be nearly enough and it’s our guess that just over the next year $1.3 trillion made up out of thin air will have to be added and that is where the core of higher inflation will come from. These are the plans in the works. Obviously many individual investors have gotten the message. Money has been hemorrhaging out of the market for months and a survey two weeks ago revealed the highest bearish results ever seen. Part of the reason for QE2 is to draw these funds back into the market, so that the Fed doesn’t have to spend billions every day propping up the market. It should also be noted that the sale of US Treasuries by foreigners has resulted in domestic invested now holding more Treasuries than foreigners. The flip side is investors see higher inflation and a continuing recession/depression and they see no recovery. They have little confidence in the future of the dollar, yet flock to Treasuries, because they do not as yet understand that gold is now the world’s premier currency. Many will finally wake up to falsehood that the dollar is sound and guaranteed by the government. By that time gold will be worth considerably more than it is today. That is why all fiat currencies have been falling for seven years vs. gold. Treasuries are perceived to be safe. Wait until the public finds out they are not.

One thing the 6-month old European currency and debt crisis has showed us is that many nations and banks are not credit worthy and austerity and higher taxes, plus the sell off of national assets has inhabitants outraged and several countries led by Greece may be on the edge of a coup or revolution. As readers know we received reliable Intel this week that we may well be looking at such an outcome by the end of the month in Greece.

The sand is flowing through the hourglass for the world financial structure. There probably isn’t a nation in the world worth an AAA rating. We ask what happens when interest rates rise, which must happen eventually? Won’t higher rates be destabilizing? Of course they will. When will they come? No one knows, but they will come. A guess might be when investors start to realize that the dollar isn’t worth the paper it is written on. We can just see Messrs. Bernanke and Geithner again threatening the populous with depression if they do not continue to hold Treasuries and GSEs. That will fall hollow on the ears of investors in a national and world economy that has already been in depression for 1-1/2 years. History later will verify that. By the end of 2012 the monetary and fiscal experts will almost all be found to be wrong and Keynesianism will be found to be just a device to implement corporatist fascist tyranny.

The crisis in banking now three years old has not abated. In fact it has worsened, as Ben Bernanke admits to Congress that he lied to them in previous testimony regarding the failure of Lehman Bros. Larry Summers is headed for China indicating all is not well regarding the US-Chinese relationship. Summers may be very bright, but he is like a bull in a China shop, full of arrogance and dictatorial attitude. We do not see that working out well. China has foreign reserves of $2.45 trillion, of which 65% is in dollar denominated assets, or $1.6 trillion in dollar denominated assets. Of that some $800 billion is said to be in US Treasuries. That figure has fallen some $100 billion over the past year. China has yet to meaningfully make an effort to increase the value of their currency after years of prompting by the US. China keeps their currency cheap by printing currency and buying dollars, which either go into US Treasuries or is sold for other currencies, or used to buy goods or services.

Banks Tier 1 capital ratios are eroding. The middle sized and small banks are fearful their real estate, business and individual loans are going to get them shut down, or absorbed into bigger banks whose standing is no better. This is part of a plan from behind the scenes to nationalize American banking. The FDIC has dictated that these banks cannot lend to businesses that have lost money for two consecutive years. That leaves very few companies to lend too, and what banks are finding is that those who qualify do not want loans. These companies supply 70% of new job creation, so it’s not surprising that unemployment has not improved appreciably. Banks with perfectly good collateral, for in excess of needed loan backing, are being refused as well. The question arises are banks really serious about lending? Some won’t even take fully paid for plant and equipment and residences as collateral. As this transpires more and more money is leaving banks and going into treasuries, other bonds and gold and silver. The too big to fail money center, legacy banks are being protected as too big to fail. This method of operation is causing bank failures and mergers and causing the eradication of small and medium sized businesses, which in turn is destroying job creation. The Fed, Washington and Wall Street are well aware of this. Banks in an attempt to save themselves are investing in Treasuries and derivatives, plus share and bond trading with mixed results. They have simply bypassed Main Street and their customer base.

As this tragedy plays out gold and silver continue to move higher as the flight to quality becomes serious. That is in spite of the fact that buyers know full well it has been and is US Treasury and central bank policy to deliberately suppress gold and silver prices. It is only a matter of time before moves in the precious metals are $50 to $100 a day, as years of gold and silver suppression come unraveled.

Again, the Fed either monetizes via QE2 or the financial system collapses. There is no real recovery so the only alterative is to create money and credit. The liquidity trap the banks are in certainly neutralizes their ability to assist in keeping the economy above water. There is no safety in US Treasuries, as investors flock to them and their ridiculous yields. At the same time central banks worldwide are buying US Treasuries to bolster the US financial system. They do not have much choice, because they are already buried in US dollar denominated paper. Although their dollar forex position has fallen from 64.5% in US dollar investments, 18 months ago to 69.5% recently. All the players know the US either monetizes or dies. That was reflected in the stock market in July when the Dow moved up almost 10%, only to be thrown back by reality. It was in early July we predicted QE2 was on the way. That wasn’t difficult when we saw all the big time players going long. It was the same M.O. we saw starting last October when the biggies started going long dollars and short the euro. They knew something we didn’t know, because in both instances they created the plan for the fall in the euro and well as this summer stock rally. Nothing has changed, even under dire circumstances. They believe they are bullet proof and can do anything they want. There will come a time when their reign will end and the outcome will be devastating.


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After over half a billion eggs were recalled from two factory hen layer operations in Iowa,[1] New York lawmakers proposed mandating vaccines against salmonella. [2]  Mainstream media then blasted this message across the world.  As the world’s largest producer of poultry [3] and second largest exporter [4], the US continues to hammer Russia about its embargo of chlorinated chickens.[5] Home to the biggest pharmaceutical and chemical companies in the world, the US is fond of throwing drugs and chemicals at a problem instead of addressing the filth of factory farms.

Russia, the top importer of US poultry, produces only half of its chicken consumption. [6]  It banned chlorinated chickens on January 1, but recently reopened its doors to 70 US companies in line with a chlorine-free agreement between Presidents Obama and Medvedev in late June. [7]  Obama balked, however, when Russia asked to inspect the processing plants. [8] 

On August 31, thirty US Senators sent a letter to Russia’s ambassador asking for a full lift of the ban, but failed to mention the chlorine issue. Instead, profits were stressed. [9] 

Until 2008, the European Union also banned chlorinated poultry.  Greenpeace condemned the procedural maneuver that removed public debate on the issue. [10] 

But the global market for US poultry more than made up for Russia’s hesitancy. June was a phenomenal month for US exports – marking a 20-month high. In its latest export report, the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) wrote: [11]

“Increases in shipments to Mexico (26%), the Baltic States (60%), Newly Independent States (including Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) (155%), Philippines (310%), Korea and Hong Kong (174%), and Japan (181%) all rose beyond last June’s shipment volumes.

In a single month, the Ukraine increased imports from one million pounds of poultry to almost 30 million.

Chlorinated chicken poses a health risk

Despite global acceptance of US chicken decontamination procedures, chlorine is a known carcinogen. It reacts with and is retained by muscle tissue, but especially fats and the liver of chickens. [12]  It is a boon for the poultry industry, though. Chlorine treated chicken carcasses weigh more than those treated with unchlorinated water. [13]

As to carcass sanitation, “the most common (and recommended) disinfecting method is steamed/hot water (>180 ºF) instead of applying antimicrobial substances,” explains Marc Thibault of Green Age. [14]

The USDA reports that there are currently 280 million egg-laying hens in the US, producing about 77 billion eggs a year. [15]  Hens usually produce eggs until they are 18-26 months old. [16]  Once spent, some are rendered into “human food, pet food, mink feed and poultry feed,” reports United Poultry Concerns. [17]  While most layers do not make it into the food supply, some show chlorine contamination via commercial feed, which passes into their eggs. [18]

Both broilers and layers live in ghastly conditions in concentrated poultry houses, as recent films like “Fresh” and “Food, Inc.” revealed. Chickens raised for human consumption eat genetically modified feed laced with antibiotics. They are bred for large breasts – beyond what their legs can support. Not that there is room for mobility – most live in 68 square inches of space. A US farmer told Russian bloggers: [19]

“‘Modern’ poultry production condemns the poor chickens to living in their own filth leading to all kinds of problems from breathing in the fecal dust and excess ammonia.

“This produces a meat that is less than firm and very absorbent. This absorbency is terrible for us because of what happens when the chicken is cleaned. Because processing is highly mechanized… many intestines are torn during evisceration thereby soiling many of the carcasses, which are then ‘sterilized’ in a chlorine bath (better known as a fecal bath) which the absorbent meat sponges up for us to later eat.”

The difference in taste and texture between chlorinated, drugged chicken and organic, fresh chicken is obvious.

Vaccines not needed

The salmonella outbreak which began in the Spring has sickened 1,470 people. [20]  This comprises only one percent of 142,000 cases each year. [21]

Both companies involved in the egg recall, Hillandale Farms and Wright County Egg, use vaccinated hens. Wright spent over half a million dollars on vaccines, and 80 percent of Hillandale’s supply is vaccinated, yet salmonella managed to survive. [22] 

The pharmaceutical industry, of course, pushes vaccines. Inactivated salmonella vaccines, as well as live and genetically modified ones, are used. One of the three main suppliers in the US, Lohmann Animal Health International, asserts, “Vaccination programs must be a major component of Salmonella control programs.” [23] 

However, the new egg rules of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which became effective on July 9, do not require vaccines. Field trials did not conclusively proved them to be effective. Instead, the FDA mandated egg refrigeration and increased testing, cleaning and inspection, and only encourages vaccine use. [24]

Even assuming vaccine efficacy, they are not needed. In its apologetic statement this week [1], the Iowa Poultry Association reminded the public that the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA “both state that thoroughly cooked eggs are thoroughly safe eggs.

“Consumers should know that Salmonella is destroyed by the heat of proper cooking.  Eggs should be cooked until the whites and yolks are firm. For dishes containing eggs, the internal temperature should reach 160 °F.”

Russia’s Institute of Public Health agrees. “People don’t need to worry a lot about these infected chickens because, in fact, all of them are infected…. To avoid contamination, you should carefully wash the chicken and expose it to high temperatures until it becomes grey.” [25]

Since proper cooking kills salmonella, and thorough cooking kills salmonella, why vaccinate the hens?  The massive hype from corporate media about the need for more drugs in the food supply can only serve to generate profits for Big Pharma.

Antibiotic overuse

Chickens raised for human consumption are fed a steady stream of antibiotics. Although the FDA concluded ten years ago that this has led to drug resistance, [26] little has been done to end the practice. A renewed effort is now gaining traction.

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (“PAMTA”) (HR 1549, S 619) would ban giving antibiotics to healthy farm animals. [27] The Union of Concerned Scientists explains:

“An estimated 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are regularly added to the feed of livestock and poultry that are not sick–a practice with serious consequences for our health. Bacteria that are constantly exposed to antibiotics develop antibiotic resistance. This means that when humans get sick from resistant bacteria, the antibiotics prescribed by doctors don’t work.” [28]

As to hens raised to produce eggs, Steve Roach, a Program Director for Food Animal Concerns Trust,[29] told Food Freedom that “bacitracin, erythromycin, and tylosin are approved for increasing lay.”  They may be legally used “in the 20 weeks before they go into production.” 

This is where it gets tricky.  “The last two [drugs] are considered critically important with respect to human health and the potential for resistance.”

The group, Health Care Without Harm, provides a list of organizations in support of PAMTA and more resources for further reading. [30] You can also sign their petition in support of the bill. [31]

On September 16, you can listen to an hour-long webinar on “Superbugs, Super Problems: Agricultural Antibiotics and Emerging Infections.” The program starts at 1 pm EDT. You must pre-register. [32]  Three of the speakers recently testified before Congress on the issue.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy notes that one result of antibiotics overuse “is the emergence of new infections with farm links, including Salmonella resistant to multiple drugs (including the critical cephalosporins), resistant E coli, and MRSA.”

Buy Local: It’s safer and improves the local economy

As Russia weighs the benefits of cheaper, but chemically and biologically contaminated chicken from the US versus safer, locally raised poultry, it should consider its superior position. Not a part of the World Trade Organization, Russia does not have to sacrifice quality and can force the US to clean up its act. Half of all US exports to Russia comprised chicken – amounting to $900 million in 2008. [33]  That’s a hefty bit of leverage.

Nations are well-advised to consider food safety and food security before allowing our chemically adulterated supply into their markets.

US food has been attributed to our skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Recall that industry insiders run government agencies, a fact widely reported by watchdog groups. Also consider the recent push by US officials to get people to eat seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, despite scientific reports cautioning against it because of the destructive use of toxic oil dispersants, as well as the 200-plus million gallons of oil spilled. [34]

Instead of throwing another drug at filthy, concentrated animal feeding operations, safe and environmentally friendly alternatives abound. One is to raise your own backyard chickens. Author Patricia Foreman provides five good reasons to raise your own small flock in her new book “City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-reyclers, and Local Food Producers.” 

The Rodale Institute summarized her work [35]:  In addition to giving you complete control over egg quality, it turns out the easily raised birds are also good for soil and gardens, and reduce landfills by recycling your organic waste.

Supporting local agriculture benefits local economies, reduces pollution and lowers the risk of pathogenic spread. A decentralized food system provides food security and economic sovereignty far superior to any trade agreement across borders.

NOTES

[1] Statement of the Iowa Poultry Association, 31 Aug 2010. http://www.iowapoultry.com/media_room.php?StoryID=9

[2] Erin Durkin, “New York pols push for bills requiring salmonella vaccination for hens after egg recall,” New York Daily News, 30 Aug 2010.
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/08/30/2010-08-30_albany_pols_egged_on_by_salmonella.html?r=news#ixzz0yFOlQ4OM  

[3] The Poultry Site, “Global Poultry Trends – Americas Are Largest Producer and Exporter of Chicken,” July 2010.
http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/1774/global-poultry-trends-americas-are-largest-producer-and-exporter-of-chicken

[4]  Economic Research Service, “Poultry and Eggs: Trade,” US Dept. of Agriculture, 16 Apr 2009.
http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Poultry/trade.htm

[5] Meat Trade News Daily, “USA – What a pitiful indictment on USDA,” 31 Aug 2010.
http://www.meattradenewsdaily.co.uk/news/310810/usa___what_a_pitiful_indictment_on_usda_.aspx

[6] Russia Today, “End of U.S. poultry imports leaves onus [on] domestic producers,” 15 Jan 2010.
http://rt.com/Business/2010-01-15/poultry.html?fullstory   

[7] Reuters, “’Technical Issues’ Keep U.S. Poultry Sidelined,” 5 Aug 2010.
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/technical-issues-keep-us-poultry-sidelined/411707.html

[8] Dmitry Solovyov and Roberta Rampton, “Russia to partly lift chicken ban; US wants more,” Reuters, 13 Aug 2010.
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE67C1SF20100813

[9] Senator Ben Cardin, Press Release, 31 Aug 2010. http://cardin.senate.gov/news/record.cfm?id=327417

[10] Greenpeace European Unit, “Greenpeace reactive statement on chlorinated chicken decision,” 28 May 2008.
http://www.eubusiness.com/topics/food/greenpeace.08-05-28

Also see: EurActive News, “Outrage at plans to lift ‘chlorine chicken’ ban,” 29 May 2008.
http://www.euractiv.com/en/food/outrage-plans-lift-chlorine-chicken-ban/article-172810

[11] Rachel J. Johnson, “Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook,” USDA, 18 Aug 2010.
 http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/LDP/2010/08Aug/ldpm194.pdf

[12] European Food Safety Authority Scientific Panel, “Treatment of poultry carcasses with chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate and peroxyacids,” EFSA Journal (2005) 297, 1-27, 6 Dec 2005.
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/fr/scdocs/doc/afc_op_ej297_poultrytreatment_opinon_en-rev2,0.pdf

[13] H. M. Cunningham, G. A. Lawrence, “Effect Of Exposure of Meat and Poultry to Chlorinated Water on the Retention of Chlorinated Compounds and Water,” Abstract. Journal of Food Science, Volume 42, Issue 6, pages 1504–1509, November 1977.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1977.tb08411.x/abstract

[14] Marc Thibault, “European consumers organizations and farmers fight chlorinated chicken,” Green Age, 18 Jun 2008.
http://www.green-age.org/blog/2008/06/18/european-consumers-organizations-and-farmers-fight-chlorinated-chicken/

[15] US Department of Agriculture, “Export Trade Booming for Livestock and Poultry,” Aug 2010.
http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/LDP/2010/08Aug/ldpm194tables.xls

[16] Food and Drug Administration, “Final Rule, Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation,” 9 Jul 2010, effective 9 July 2010. http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/EggSafety/EggSafetyActionPlan/ucm170746.htm

[17] United Poultry Concerns, “Catching, Transport, and Slaughter ,” n.d.
http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/chickensbro.html

[18] Catherine Pirard and Edwin De Pauw, “Toxicokinetic study of dioxins and furans in laying chickens,” Abstract. Environment International, Volume 32, Issue 4, May 2006, Pages 466-469. http://snipurl.com/113mgx

[19] Windows to Russia, “Bad Move – Russia Lifts Chicken Ban on America,” 19 Aug 2010
http://windowstorussia.com/bad-move-russia-lifts-chicken-ban-on-america.html

[20] Betsy McKay, “FDA, Vaccine Manufacturers: No Worries of Salmonella From Flu Vaccines,” Wall Street Journal, 30 Aug 2010.
http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2010/08/30/fda-vaccine-manufacturers-no-worries-of-salmonella-from-flu-vaccines/

[21] William Neuman, “U.S. Rejected Hen Vaccine Despite British Success,” New York Times, 24 Aug 2010.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/business/25vaccine.html 

[22] World Poultry, “Vaccines could have prevented US Salmonella egg recall,” 25 Aug 2010.
http://www.worldpoultry.net/news/vaccines-could-have-prevented-us-salmonella-egg-recall-7851.html

[23] Lohman http://www.zootecnicainternational.com/article-archive/veterinary/704-spraying-chicks-with-salmonella-vaccines-at-the-hatchery-.html

[24] Food and Drug Administration, “New Final Rule to Ensure Egg Safety, Reduce Salmonella Illnesses Goes into Effect,” 9 Jul 2010. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm218461.htm

[25] Russia Today, “80% of Moscow chicken meat contaminated with salmonella,” 2 Jun 2010. http://rt.com/prime-time/2010-06-02/chicken-meat-salmonella-moscow.html?fullstory

[26] Consumer Reports, “Chicken: Arsenic and antibiotics,” July 2007.
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/food-safety/animal-feed-and-food/animal-feed-and-the-food-supply-105/chicken-arsenic-and-antibiotics/

[27] The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act.
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-1549

[28] Union of Concerned Scientists, “Progress Curtailing the Use of Antibiotics in the Feed and Water of Animals,” n.d.
http://www.ucsusa.org/action/progress/PAMTA-progress.html

[29] Food Animal Concerns Trust http://www.foodanimalconcerns.org/#Scene_1 

[30] Health Care Without Harm, “Protect Antibiotics Action Center,” n.d.
http://www.noharm.org/us_canada/issues/food/protect_antibiotics.php

[31] Petition in support of The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act,
http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5140/t/8175/signUp.jsp?key=1459

[32] IATP Webinar “Superbugs, Super Problems: Agricultural Antibiotics and Emerging Infections,” September 16, 2010, 11 am-12 noon PDT; 12 noon-1pm MDT; 1-2 pm CDT; 2-3 pm EDT. Preregistration required: 
http://www.iatp.org/healthyfoodbill/index.php?q=healthy-food-healthy-farms-webinar-series 

[33] Dan Flynn, “Russia Bans U.S. Poultry Over Chlorine,” Food Safety News, 7 Jan 2010.
 http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/01/russia-bans-us-poultry-over-chlorine/

[34] Kate Sheppard, “Is Gulf Seafood Really Safe?” Mother Jones, 17 Aug 2010.
 http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/08/gulf-seafood-really-safe

[35] Leah Zerbe, “5 Reasons Why Chickens Belong in Your City, Town, or Neighborhood,” Rodale Institute, 1 Sept 2010.
http://www.rodale.com/urban-chickens?page=0%2C0&cm_mmc=DailyNewsNL-_-2010_09_01-_-Top5-_-NA

La Santa Crociata Americana contro il Mondo Islamico

September 3rd, 2010 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Siamo giunti ad un passaggio decisivo nell’evoluzione della dottrina militare USA. La “Guerra globale al Terrorismo” (sigla inglese GWOT), indirizzata contro Al Qaeda e lanciata sulla scia dell’11 settembre, sta evolvendosi in una vera e propria “guerra di religione”, una “santa crociata” indirizzata contro il mondo musulmano.

La dottrina militare Statunitense e la propaganda di guerra sotto l’amministrazione Bush si basavano sulla lotta contro il fondamentalismo islamico piuttosto che nel prendere di mira i musulmani. “Questa non è una guerra tra Occidente e Islam, ma … una guerra contro il terrorismo”. I cosiddetti “buoni musulmani” devono essere distinti dai “cattivi musulmani”: “La polvere delle torri gemelle non s’era ancora adagiata l’11 settembre 2001, quando ebbe inizio la febbrile ricerca di musulmani ‘moderati’, persone che fornissero risposte, che prendessero le distanze da quell’oltraggio e condannassero quegli atti violenti di ‘estremisti islamici’, ‘fondamentalisti islamici’ e ‘islamisti’. In breve tempo emersero due distinte categorie di musulmani: i ‘buoni’ e i ‘cattivi’, i ‘moderati’, ‘liberali’ e ‘laici’ contro i ‘fondamentalisti’, gli ‘estremisti’ e gli ‘islamisti’” (Tariq Ramadan, Buon musulmano, cattivo musulmano, New Statesman, 12 febbraio 2010).

In seguito all’11 settembre, le comunità musulmane nella maggior parte dei paesi occidentali erano decisamente sulla difensiva. Lo spartiacque “buon musulmano” “cattivo musulmano” era universalmente accettato, e l’attacco terroristico dell’11 settembre, perpetrato da presunti musulmani, non solo era condannato dalle comunità musulmane, ma queste attivamente appoggiavano l’invasione e occupazione dell’Afghanistan di USA e NATO come parte di una legittima campagna volta contro il fondamentalismo islamico.

Il fatto che gli attentati dell’11 settembre non fossero stati istigati da musulmani è stato raramente recepito dalla comunità musulmana. Sul solido rapporto di Al Qaeda con la CIA, del suo ruolo di “agente dell’Intelligence” sponsorizzato dagli USA e datato dalla guerra sovietica in Afghanistan, non una parola. (Michael Chossudovsky, La Guerra al Terrorismo dell’America, Global Research, Montreal, 2005).

Sin dai primi anni ’80 Washington ha tacitamente appoggiato le fazioni più conservatrici e fondamentaliste dell’Islam, principalmente per indebolire i movimenti laici, nazionalisti e progressisti in Medio Oriente e in Asia Centrale. È risaputo e documentato che le missioni dei movimenti fondamentalisti dei Wahhabi e dei Salafi dall’Arabia Saudita, mandati non solo in Afghanistan, ma anche nei Balcani e nelle repubbliche musulmane dell’ex Unione Sovietica, erano occultamente appoggiate dai servizi segreti USA. (Idem) Ciò che è spesso chiamato “Islam politico” è in gran parte una creazione dell’Intelligence americana (con il sostegno della MI6 britannica e del Mossad israeliano).

La Moschea di Ground Zero

Sviluppi recenti indicano un punto di rottura, un passaggio dalla “guerra al terrorismo” alla totale demonizzazione dei musulmani. Mentre continua ad avvalorare la libertà di religione, l’amministrazione Obama “batte i tamburi” per intensificare la guerra all’Islam: “Come cittadino, e come presidente, io credo che i musulmani abbiano lo stesso diritto di professare la propria religione come chiunque altro in questo paese… Questa è l’America e il nostro impegno per la libertà di religione dev’essere irremovibile” (citazione da Obama sostiene la Moschea di Ground Zero; interrogazione di un link iraniano del TG nazionale israeliano, 15 agosto 2010).

Sotto la cortina di fumo politica, la distinzione tra “buon musulmano” e “cattivo musulmano” sta sgretolandosi. Si insinua che il progetto della Moschea di Ground Zero sia finanziato “dall’Iran, lo stato canaglia islamico… mentre gli Stati Uniti si apprestano ad aumentare le sanzioni contro quel regime, a rivalsa del suo appoggio al terrorismo e per paura che stia sviluppando un programma nucleare illegale” (Gli appaltatori della Moschea di Ground Zero si rifiutano di rimandare al mittente un finanziamento del presidente iraniano Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, NYPOST.com, 19 agosto 2010).

La crescente ondata di xenofobia innescata dalla proposta di costruire una moschea e un centro recreativo a Ground Zero ha tutta l’aria di essere una PSYOP (operazione psicologica) che contribuisca a fomentare l’odio verso i musulmani in tutto il mondo occidentale.

Lo scopo è quello di infondere paura, di suscitare e mantenere il sostegno inflessibile dei cittadini per il prossimo stadio della “lunga guerra” americana, che consiste nell’infliggere attacchi aerei “umanitari” sulla Repubblica Islamica dell’Iran, descritta dai media come sostenitrice del terrorismo.

Mentre da una parte “non tutti i musulmani sono terroristi”, tutti gli attentati terroristici (pianificati o realizzati) sono indicati dai media come compiuti da musulmani. In America, tutto l’insieme della comunità islamica è sotto tiro. L’Islam è descritto come “una religione di guerra”. La proposta della moschea e del centro ricreativo sono proclamati come “violazione della sacralità di Ground Zero”.

“Aprire una moschea a Ground Zero è offensivo e irrispettoso della città e della gente che morì negli attentati. Il progetto ‘sputa in faccia agli assassinati dell’11 settembre’”. (Il progetto di costruzione di una moschea a Ground Zero esaspera i newyorkesi, National Post, 17 maggio 2010).

Terroristi “fatti in casa”

Gli arresti su accuse campate in aria, così come i processi plateali di cosiddetti “terroristi islamici fatti in casa”, hanno un’importante funzione, quella di tener vivo l’inganno, nella coscienza degli americani, che i “terroristi islamici” non solo costituiscono una vera minaccia, ma che la comunità musulmana a cui appartengono è sostanzialmente favorevole alle loro azioni: “La minaccia non viene più da stranieri che parlano male l’inglese e con passaporti dubbi, ma viene da sempre più vicino: dai centri urbani, da oscuri scantinati – dappertutto dove c’è una connessione Internet. Il terrorismo fatto in casa è l’ultima incarnazione della minaccia di Al Qaeda” (Come il terrore arrivò a casa nostra, Ottawa Citizen, 27 agosto 2010, relazione su di un presunto attacco terroristico “fatto in casa” in Canada).

Da un processo di selezione di musulmani con tendenze radicali (o presumibilmente associati ad “organizzazioni terroristiche”) sta venendo fuori un processo generalizzato inteso a demonizzare un intero gruppo di persone. I musulmani sono sempre più l’oggetto di discriminazioni di routine e di profiling etnico. Sono considerati una potenziale minaccia alla sicurezza nazionale. La minaccia, si dice, è “molto più vicina a casa nostra”, è “nel nostro vicinato”. In altre parole, sta venendo fuori una caccia alle streghe che ricorda l’inquisizione spagnola. A sua volta, Al Qaeda è descritta come una potente multinazionale del terrore (che possiede Armi di Distruzione di Massa) con filiali in molti paesi musulmani: Al Qaeda è presente (con relativo acronimo) in vari punti caldi geopolitici e teatri di guerra: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Al Qaeda nella penisola Araba (AQAP) (che comprende Al Qaeda in Sud Arabia e la Jihad islamica dello Yemen), Al Qaeda in Sudest Asia (Jamaah Islamiyah), l’Organizzazione di Al Qaeda nel Magreb Islamico, Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen in Somalia, la Jihad Islamica Egiziana, ecc.

Mai una volta la questione delle atrocità commesse dalle forze di occupazione contro milioni di musulmani in Iraq e Afghanistan è stata considerata un atto terroristico.

L’inquisizione americana

Si sta sviluppando una “guerra di religione”, con l’obiettivo di giustificare una crociata militare globale. Nelle coscienze di molti americani la “santa crociata” contro i musulmani è giustificata. Mentre il Presidente Obama sostiene la libertà di religione, un ordine sociale inquisitorio degli Stati Uniti ha istituzionalizzato modelli discriminatori, pregiudizi e xenofobia contro i musulmani. Il profiling etnico si applica a viaggi, al mercato del lavoro, all’accesso ai servizi sociali e più in generale allo stato e mobilità sociale.

L’inquisizione americana è un concetto ideologico che per molti versi presenta similitudini all’ordine sociale inquisitorio prevalso in Francia e Spagna nel medioevo. L’inquisizione, che ebbe inizio in Francia nel 12° secolo, fu usata come scusa per la conquista e l’intervento militare. (Vedi Michel Chossudovsky, “11 settembre” e “L’inquisizione americana”, Global Research, 11 settembre 2008).

Gli arresti, i processi e le condanne di cosiddetti “terroristi fatti in casa” (all’interno della comunità musulmana americana) su accuse campate in aria sono fatti per giustificare la legittimità dell’Homeland Security State e la legalità del suo apparato inquisitorio.

Una dottrina dell’inquisizione che mette sottosopra la realtà non è che un ordine sociale basato su menzogne e invenzioni. Ma siccome queste fandonie provengono dai piani alti della politica e fanno parte di un consenso generalizzato, nessuno se ne cura. E quelli che contestano quest’ordine inquisitorio o che in qualunque modo si oppongono all’agenda militare o della sicurezza nazionale americana sono marchiati come “teorici della cospirazione”, o addirittura terroristi.

Aldilà dei processi di inquisizione, degli arresti e delle condanne che farebbero impallidire l’inquisizione spagnola, come espediente è stato avviato un programma di assassinazioni extra-giudiziarie, sancito dalla Casa Bianca, che permette alle forze speciali USA di uccidere cittadini americani e sospetti “terroristi fatti in casa”. (Vedi Chuck Norris, Il programma di assassinio USA di Obama, e “Un elenco di cittadini americani specificatamente candidati all’uccisione?” Global Research, 26 agosto 2010).

L’intento è di alimentare l’illusione che “l’America è sotto attacco” e che i musulmani in tutto il paese sono complici e sostenitori del “terrorismo islamico”.

La demonizzazione dei musulmani rinforza l’agenda militare globale. Tramite l’inquisizione americana, Washington si è proclamata detentrice di un mandato per estirpare l’Islam e “diffondere la democrazia” in tutto il mondo. Stiamo attraversando una fase di totale e cieca sottomissione alle strutture di potere e autorità politiche. La santa crociata americana contro il mondo musulmano altro non è che una pura azione criminale diretta contro milioni di persone. È una guerra di conquista economica. Più del 60% delle riserve di petrolio e gas sono in terre musulmane. “La battaglia per il petrolio” dichiarata dall’alleanza USA-NATO-Israele necessita della distruzione degli abitanti dei paesi che possiedono queste riserve di petrolio e gas. (Vedi Michel Chossudovsky “La demonizzazione musulmana e la battaglia per il petrolio”, Global Research, 4 gennaio 2007).

Michel Chossudovsky Fonte: www.globalresearch.ca Link : http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20818  30.08.2010  

Scelto e tradotto per www.comedonchisciotte.org da GIANNI ELLENA

The Politics of Genocide

September 3rd, 2010 by Rick Rozoff

In 1895 novelist Anatole France – who in the same decade took up cudgels in defense of persecuted Armenians in the Ottoman Empire while also entering the lists on behalf of Alfred Dreyfus – wrote an essay in which he maintained that words are like coins. When freshly minted the images and inscriptions on them are clear. But by dint of constant circulation they become effaced until the outlines are blurred and the words unintelligible.

As Edward S. Herman and David Peterson write in The Politics of Genocide, “During the past several decades, the word ‘genocide’ has increased in frequency of use and recklessness of application, so much so that the crime of the twentieth century for which the word was originally coined often appears debased. Unchanged, however, is the huge political bias in its usage….” With their painstaking efforts to compile information and analyze the self-serving misuse of this term by the government, media and establishment academic figures of the United States and its allies, the authors have performed a valuable service to the cause of truth and of peace.

The fact that combating “genocide” has replaced confronting communism in some notably left and liberal circles as a major intellectual and moral legitimation for an enduringly aggressive and interventionist U.S. foreign policy is not fortuitous. It has been adopted to further American and allied interests in Europe and Africa in particular but with international application. 

Nowhere is this more explicit than in the U.S.-based Genocide Prevention Task Force’s 2008 report Preventing Genocide, where the “Save Darfur” activism of the last decade is singled out as a model for how to “build a permanent constituency for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.” 

But this shows that “Darfur has been…successfully framed as ‘genocide’,” the authors counter, even as “the signature Nefarious bloodbath of the early twenty-first century,” and we should take the Task Force’s praise of “Save Darfur” activism to mean rather that the “U.S. establishment’s handling of the western Sudan (ca. 2003-2010) should serve as a model for how best to propagandize a conflict as ‘genocide’, and thus to mobilize elite and public opinion for action against its alleged perpetrator.”

During the past two decades, the post-Cold War era, Washington has employed and exploited the word genocide in furtherance of geopolitical objectives in several strategic parts of the world. As the foreword to the volume by Noam Chomsky warns, the one-sided, nakedly partisan and frequently fact-distorting genocide stratagem not only diverts attention from genuine acts of mass killing and targeting of ethnic and other demographic groups perpetrated by the U.S., its allies and client states, but runs the risk of producing a boy who cried wolf effect, one moreover with a retroactive component.

Chomsky characterizes the authors’ work as indicting a practice that since “the end of the Cold War opened the way to an era of virtual Holocaust denial.” That is, as facts such as those marshaled by Herman and Peterson demonstrate, the exaggeration, distortion and even outright fabrication of genocide accusations may produce as an unintended consequence a universal scepticism on the matter, even – most alarmingly – toward the genuine article. That leveling charges of genocide against nations and governments the White House and State Department are opposed to and in parts of the world where the Pentagon is bent on deploying troops and bases occurs as World War II revisionism, neo-Nazism, and the formal rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators and even SS troops plague much of Europe is the most alarming manifestation of that disturbing phenomenon.

The U.S. has rightly been accused of practicing double standards in relation to genocide charges, condemning mass killings (alleged as well as real) in nations whose governments are not viewed favorably by Washington and its allies while ignoring, minimizing and justifying it when perpetrated by an approved government. 

But it is not, as defenders of American foreign policy often state, a question of not being able to respond to every crisis or of responding to the most egregious situation first. Nor as the rapidly deteriorating Christopher Hitchens wrote in 1993 in one of his many efforts to mobilize opinion in favor of the “Bosnian cause” (by which he never meant anything beyond the Sarajevo Muslims around Alija Izetbegovic, and Hitchens’ own mythic land of multiculturalism overrun by “racist” Serbs) is it a case of “making the best the enemy of the good.”

Instead, as Herman and Peterson meticulously detail, it is a fixed policy of assigning cases and charges of genocide to four distinct categories, the first two applicable to the U.S. and its allies and clients, the second two to adversaries or other governments whose nations occupy space or possess resources coveted by Washington’s empire-builders and U.S.-based transnational corporations.

Drawing on years of observation and analysis of international events – in Herman’s case efforts extending over five decades – the authors present a four-point model for examining how the issue of genocide is viewed by the American government, the mainstream news media and a veritable battalion of “engaged” academics and handsomely funded non-governmental organizations (the latter sometimes not so non-governmental).

As they explain:

“When we ourselves commit mass-atrocity crimes, the atrocities are Constructive, our victims are unworthy of our attention and indignation, and never suffer ‘genocide’ at our hands – like the Iraqi Untermenschen who have died in such grotesque numbers over the past two decades. But when the perpetrator of mass-atrocity crimes is our enemy or a state targeted by us for destabilization and attack, the converse is true. Then the atrocities are Nefarious and their victims worthy of our focus, sympathy, public displays of solidarity, and calls for inquiry and punishment. Nefarious atrocities even have their own proper names reserved for them, typically associated with the places where the events occur. We can all rattle off the most notorious: Cambodia (but only under the Khmer Rouge, not in the prior years of mass killing by the United States and its allies), Iraq (but only when attributable to Saddam Hussein, not the United States), and so on – Halabja, Bosnia, Srebrenica, Rwanda, Kosovo, Račak, Darfur. Indeed, receiving such a baptism is perhaps the hallmark of the Nefarious bloodbath.”

To reiterate their point: When the killing, maiming, poisoning and displacement of millions of civilians are perpetrated by the U.S. directly and in collusion with a client regime it assists, arms and advises – Indochina in the 1960s and early 1970s, Central America in the 1980s, the deaths of as many as a million Iraqis resulting from sanctions and the deliberate and systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure in the 1990s – that form of indisputable genocide is never referred to as such and instead presented by the government-media-obedient academia triad as not abhorrent and criminal but as legitimate actions in pursuit of praiseworthy policies. Constructive genocide.

Similar systematic and large-scale atrocities carried out by U.S. clients armed by Washington – Indonesia against its own people from 1965-1966 and in East Timor from 1975-1999, Israel in the Palestinian Gaza Strip and West Bank from 1967 to the present day, Rwanda and Uganda in Congo (where over five and a half million people have perished over the last twelve years), Croatia and its Operation Storm onslaught in 1995 which caused the worst permanent ethnic cleansing in Europe since World War II and its immediate aftermath – are not condemned and not even deemed regrettable, but in fact are viewed by the U.S. political establishment as Benign.

Contrariwise, though, security and military actions taken by governments not aligned with the U.S., even against armed and cross-border separatist formations, are inevitably branded as gratuitous acts of what Samuel Coleridge called motiveless malignancy: Nefarious genocide.

Related to the last category, the U.S. government and its news and NGO camp followers are not averse to inflating numbers, misattributing the cause of death and outright inventing incidents to justify the charge of genocide and what are frequently pre-planned interventions, including sanctions, embargoes, travel bans on government officials, freezing governments’ financial assets abroad, funding and advising assorted “color revolutions” and ultimately bombing from 25,000 feet, beyond the range of a targeted country’s air defenses. What the authors call Mythic genocide, though with quite genuine – deadly – consequences. Aesop: The boys throw rocks in jest but the frogs die in earnest.

To illustrate these basic categories, Herman and Peterson conducted exhaustive database searches for usage of the word ‘genocide’ by some of the major English-language print media in reference to what they call “theaters of atrocities.” 

The three tables they have compiled for the book are something to behold. 
Table 1 is titled “Differential attributions of ‘genocide’ to different theaters of atrocities,” and Table “Differential Use of ‘Massacre’ and ‘Genocide’ for Benign and Nefarious Atrocities;” Table 2 focuses on different aspects of Iraq specifically. 

The various “theaters of atrocities” include but are not limited to Iraq, the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo, the Tutsi of Rwanda, the Hutu and other peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the peoples of western Sudan (Darfur). 

In one of the more impressive empirical confirmations of a hypothesis readers are likely to find anywhere, the results of Herman and Peterson’s database research are both predictable and appalling: In case after case, major English-language newspapers such as the New York Times and The Guardian (as well as countless others) used the word ‘genocide’ in a manner that would have been approved of by the State Department, linking it consistently to toponyms like Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo and Darfur, but rarely if ever to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq, whether Iraq during the “sanctions of mass destruction” era (1990-2003) or since the U.S. invasion and military occupation (from 2003 onward).

There are, in the terms introduced by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky years earlier, “worthy” and “unworthy” victims in the system of “atrocities management,” and each and every victim’s worthiness rises or falls depending on who’s doing the killing – official enemies or we ourselves.

Again, to elaborate: The worthiness of a victim to elicit concern and support depends not on the victim himself but on the “worthiness” of the perpetrator. “Good” perpetrators – the U.S. and its allies – are eo ipso incapable of bad actions, therefore anyone on the receiving end of an American bomb or cruise missile is inherently unworthy.

Genocide, murder on a grand scale, is treated not with the urgency and gravity the subject warrants but as the theme of a near-comic book morality play. We and they, good and bad.

An analogous bias exists, the authors detail, in relation to the work of the International Criminal Court and even more so with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

The latter two are nothing other than the embodiment and institutionalization of great power victor’s justice and the first is used by the U.S. against recalcitrant states on Washington’s enemies list. (In the Foreword to The Politics of Genocide, Chomsky cites the Greek historian Thucydides, who placed in the mouth of an Athenian the immortal words: “you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”)

International courts doing the bidding of the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization cohorts do not, Herman and Peterson point out, address the greatest cause of suffering brought about through human agency: Wars of aggression. Although borrowing their lexicon from the Nuremberg Principles – for example, “war crimes” and “crimes of humanity” – while adding “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” (with the last two used all but interchangeably), Western states are highly selective and equally self-serving in their interpretation of the Nuremberg Tribunal, the model for prosecuting international crimes of violence.

Principle VI, the gist of the Nuremberg indictments, states:

The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

(a) Crimes against peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

(b) War crimes:

Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

(c) Crimes against humanity:

Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

The U.S. and its Western allies, which launched three wars of aggression in less than four years (Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003) with the forced displacement of millions of civilians, have deliberately chosen to ignore the core proscription of the Nuremberg Trials, that against waging wars of aggression, “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Principle VII says that “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.”

To relentlessly prosecute lesser crimes while perpetrating and abetting greater ones is the prerogative of the “world’s sole military superpower” (from Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech) and its allies. Governments of small, weak countries not sufficiently toeing Washington’s line are threatened with prosecution for actions occurring within and not outside their borders and the only “war crimes” trials conducted are also exclusively in response to strictly internal events. By design and selective enforcement, the new system of international law is what Balzac said of the law of his time, that it is a spider web through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.

Herman and Peterson have studied the above contrasts, what most often are an inversion of justice and not simply its distortion or selective implementation, in several locations: The Balkans, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America, examining the most salient examples in each locale to demonstrate the unconscionable dichotomy of “good”
and bad genocides.

In one of the most penetrating sections of the book, the authors study the differential approach of the U.S. in the contexts of both space and time; that is, how the suppression of the Kurdish movement has been treated in relation to Iraq as opposed to Turkey, and in Iraq from one decade to the next depending on whether the same head of state (Saddam Hussein) was a U.S. ally or adversary at the time.

Not a matter of what is right or wrong, not even of who does what to whom, but solely one of what advances America’s narrow and cynical geopolitical agenda.

Their model, however, possesses relevance to developments in other nations beyond those studied in The Politics of Genocide. Colombia, for example, and Western Sahara. 

Also to Kosovo after 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops marched in eleven years ago and hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Roma (Gypsies) and other ethnic minorities were forced to flee the Serbian province. 

Onslaughts against the people of South Ossetia two years ago this August by preeminent U.S. client Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia and against the Houthi minority community in northern Yemen with military backing from Saudi Arabia and the U.S. would be examples of Benign attempts to exterminate entire peoples, to commit genocide.

During the generation following the end of the Cold War and the triumph of global neoliberalism, enough genuine problems have weighed upon humanity. With the privatization of increasingly broad sectors of former state functions and the concomitant economic dislocation of a large percentage of the population, and with the penetration of rapacious transnational financial and corporate interests, tens of millions – perhaps hundreds of millions – of people in poor countries have fled the countryside to the large cities. Millions more have attempted the desperate and often deadly migration to the global North. The last twenty years have witnessed the largest Völkerwanderung in history.

In that context competition for natural and other resources takes on a drastic intensity, and conflicts based on residual ethnic, religious and regional suspicions and strife can be too easily revived and inflamed. The potential for communal, for inter-ethnic, violence is a power keg that must not be ignited.

The willful exacerbation and exploitation of such conflicts by outside powers to achieve broader geostrategic objectives add a greater degree of peril, one of regional conflicts that could expand into wider wars and even a showdown between the U.S. and nuclear powers like Russia and China.

The 78-day bombing war waged by the U.S. and NATO against Yugoslavia in 1999 in the name of “stopping genocide,” the “worst genocide since Hitler,” coincided with the induction of the first former Warsaw Pact member states into the Alliance (the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) and resulted in the building of a mammoth U.S. military base, Camp Bondsteel, in Kosovo and NATO’s absorption and penetration of all of Southeastern Europe. Every country in the region but Serbia (for the time being) now has troops serving under the military bloc in Afghanistan.

The crisis in Darfur in western Sudan gave rise to NATO’s first operation in Africa, the airlifting of African Union troops from 2005-2007. At the end of 2007 the first U.S. military command established outside North America since the Cold War, Africa Command, was launched.

In the same year and in the name of opposing genocide, a self-styled “March for Darfur” was held in Berkeley, California – a birthplace of the anti-Vietnam War protest movement forty years before – in which participants adapted a standard anti-war chant – “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” – to “What do we want? NATO! When do we want it? Now!”

At the end of the day military actions, including full-fledged wars, conducted by the U.S. and NATO in part or in whole to ostensibly ”end genocide” will produce more deaths, more mass-scale displacement, and more expulsion and extermination of endangered minorities as has happened over the past eleven years in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. More genocide. The genuine article.

Questions about the intentional and systematic extermination of a people are not to be taken lightly. Neither are they to be dealt with as yet another weapon in the arsenal of history’s mightiest military power for use against defenseless adversaries. The U.S. government and its highly selective “genocide” echo chambers are adept at seeing the mote in their neighbor’s eye, but are blind to the mountain of corpses produced by Washington and its proxies. Myopia passing into active complicity.

In documenting the diametrically opposite manner in which the subject of genocide is treated by the government of the United States and its apologists (acknowledged and otherwise) based on international political and economic motives, Herman and Peterson have provided a simultaneously concise and comprehensive guidebook to separating fact from fabrication. Truth is the first casualty of war and war is in turn the offspring of falsehood. Exposing the last contributes to eroding the foundation for U.S. armed aggression and global military expansion.

The Politics of Genocide is available from:
http://monthlyreview.org/books/politicsofgenocide.php
http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Genocide-Edward-Herman/dp/1583672125/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282965484&sr=1-3

“Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.” (Tony Blair, speech as newly elected Prime Minister, 1997.)

August is seemingly Spotlight on Illegal Invasion month. President Obama has made his Mission-Lost-Cause speech about US., Iraq fantasy “withdrawal” – leaving behind 50,000 troops, perhaps 50,000 mercenaries, and some have suggested 100,000 “advisors.”

In context: “Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of Defense workforce has 19 percent more contractors (207,600) than uniformed personnel … in Iraq and Afghanistan, making these wars … the most outsourced and privatized in US history. Worse, the oversight of contractors will rest with other contractors. As has been the case in Afghanistan, contractors will be sought to provide “operations-center monitoring of private security contractors (PSCs) as well as PSC inspection and accountability services.”(1)

Tony “I would do it again” Blair, announced, on 16th August, he is to give his entire £4.6 million advance on his book: “My Journey”, to the Royal British Legion, for support of British soldiers in need. As the ungracious calls for his “journey” to be to The Hague get louder – with some suggesting a far less civilized ordeal – it seems timely to assess British “achievements” in Iraq.

The British, of course, having come in flying the St George’s flag on their vehicles (the Crusaders’ flag) slithered out of Basra city, under cover of darkness, to hunker down at the fortified airport, some distance outside the town, in September 2007, much as US units did from other parts of Iraq, last week, fleeing in the night, over the border to Kuwait.

UK Forces, who had also illegally squatted in Basra Palace, as did their US counterparts in palaces throughout the country, taking over Iraq’s cultural properties, additionally pillaging them, in defiance of the 1954 and 1977 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. To use such buildings in support of military effort or as a command centre is specifically prohibited. The full extent of pillaging is unlikely to ever be documented, since no one was guarding the guards. An early British example was the theft of a statue of Saddam Hussein from Basra, for which the British tax payer paid the transport for its journey to the Unit’s base in southern England.

Basra Palace was, however, handed back, after four and a half years, in a furtive ceremony at I a.m., local time. Most of the troops had already left, creeping out, to head for the desert road to the airport, from 10 p.m.

Alleged British atrocities began as Iraq had barely been declared “liberated.” One of their first recorded acts (after securing Basra oil installations) was less than a month after the invasion, in May 2003, when fifteen year old Ahmed Jaber Karheem, drowned, after allegedly being forced in to a canal in the former “Venice of the Middle East”, by Guardsmen Martin McGing, Joseph McCleary and Colour Sergeant Carle Selman.

The alleged action was to “teach him a lesson”, for suspected looting. Ahmed Jaber could not swim. In a case which took three years to come to court, Guarsdman McCleary whinged that: “We were told to put looters in the canal. I was the lowest rank and we were told we weren’t paid to think. Just follow orders. I don’t know why the army went ahead with the prosecution … We were scapegoats.” Nuremberg’s Principles apparently now irrelevant, and Iraqi lives presumably being cheap, they were acquitted.

Whilst there was undisputedly looting of food after the invasion, the population of Basra were almost entirely reliant on the government distributed rations. The British army “secured” the food warehouses, but distributed none.

Children were begging for any sustenance and for water, throughout the south, in a near famine situation for many. So people looted. No doubt the opportunist joined the desperate, but the situation created by the food-secure occcupiers, was shameful. Looters were also shot by troops. Fathers, brothers, sons, faced death for trying to feed their families, or to make a bit of money in the reigning, invasion-generated, chaos.

When the British finally requested a shipment of water for the desperate population, delivered by the unfortunately named naval ship, “Sir Galahad”, they called in tankers, rather than deliver themselves. The water filled the tankers – to be contaminated with whatever it had previously transported – and was sold to those who could afford to buy. It is not known whether members of Her Majesty’s navy or army, also profited from this nice little earner.

The canal drowning Court case was finally heard in June 2006. That month, the army was being accused of shooting dead a thirteen year old, in a crowd accused of throwing stones.

Casual killing started early in the invasion. Corporal Russ Aston, who later died in an assault on a police station in Al Majar, wrote, in March 2003 : ” I’ve shot 4-5 Iraqis and one of them were quite young, about 14-15 … I felt bad at the time, but I’m OK now.” In a call to his mother he reportedly said: “It’s just killing for killing’s sake out here … I don’t know how I am going to cope with what I’ve seen.” (2)

A colleague talked of being on a night patrol and: “this f… flip flop had come out”, so he shot him dead. According to Amnesty, Wa’el Rahim Jabar: “.. was walking along the main street, with a Kalashnikov rifle slung over his right shoulder, accompanied by two (unarmed) friends”, it was dark, they did not realise there was a British patrol near by and he was shot in the chest and neck and killed instantly.

Carrying an ancient family weapon was a norm in rural areas, which had often become increasingly dangerous, even before the invasion, due often to embargo-generated desperation or criminality.

Iraqis were referred to by Britain’s “boys”, as: “stinking Arabs,”, “yip-yaps”, towel-heads”, “flip-flops”, and “crusties.” Beautiful, battered Basra, where very small children sold fruits they had picked themselves, from the earliest light, along the Corniche, was referred to as a “viper’s nest”, by Major General Brims.

Aston’s colleague, Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, who was also to die at Al Majar, wrote home, with excitement, of capturing three: “Ba’ath Party members.” Ignorance clearly reigned. It was near impossible to get work in Iraq, during Saddam Hussein’s leadership, without signing up, whatever the individual’s views on Ba’athism (pan-Arabism.) “I had them lying on the floor (of a vehicle) handcuffs, sandbags on their heads and my shooter pointing straight at their heads …” So much for the Geneva Convention.

It is not known whether two of those, were the men, arrested by Hamilton-Jewell in March 2003, accused, but never tried by the British, held in solitary confinement, allegedly subject to sleep deprivation, extreme heat, arbitrary body searches and physical abuse. A full three years after they were arrested, they were accused of the deaths of two British soldiers, and finally handed over to the Iraqi authorities for trial in 2008, at risk of torture and hanging.

In March 2010, due to the tireless work of Phil Shiner, of the UK’s Birmingham based Public Interest lawyers, the two were unanimously awarded compensation for their: “mental suffering, fear of execution (amounting to) inhuman treatment”, by the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg. The British government and Foreign Office came in for some salutary criticism.

Just after the US-dominated, UN Security Council, approved the US and UK having interim control of Iraq, on 22nd May 2003, the deliverer of the “fine document” of fictional claims – cited by Colin Powell, at the UN, to justify the invasion – Attorney Anthony Blair, pitched up in Basra, the first “coalition” leader to visit troops.

The: “minimum loss of civilian life”, their superb restraint, was now: “famous around the world .. ” he said. The troops actions were, he continued: ” … a model of how armed forces anywhere in the world should conduct themselves …”.

By this time, the family of eleven year old Memmon Salam al-Maliki, had been looking for him for three weeks. On the 29th April 2003, Memmon was injured by unexploded munitions abandoned by the British, near his Basra home, which locals had begged them to remove, piles scattered everywhere. He lost one hand, fingers of the other and injured his right eye. Picked up by a passing British patrol, it seems he was given first aid, then transferred to the British base hospital at Shuaiba. Memmon was among numbers of children reportedly injured by this lethal, casually abandoned legacy. His parents have not seen him since the British army’s intervention.

The British in Basra, told his father he had been transferred to an American military hospital in Kuwait. They had, apparently, neither documentation, or knowledge of the location of the hospital. Without his parents knowledge and permission, they seemingly admit that Memmon was transferred, across an international border, to another country – and vanished. The US authorities, however, deny all knowledge of him or any paper trail. Seven years later, his family are still looking, still distraught.

In their last letter from the Ministry of Defence, dated October 2005, the department’s chief claims officer told their lawyer that the British consulate in Basra had also failed to locate the boy. “I am sorry to say that the subsequent investigation was inconclusive and the whereabouts of your client’s son remain unknown, following his transfer to an American field hospital in Kuwait”, according to papers seen by the (London) Guardian

The British Ministry of Defence: “began to regard the family’s appeals as claims for compensation”, expressing sympathy, but denying all liability. Seven and a half years later, Liam Fox, Britain’s current Defence Minister – latest in a woeful bunch – has ordered: “an urgent enquiry.”

Perhaps the most detailed account of the treatment of Iraqis by the British forces can be found in the legal Inquiry (3) in to the death of Baha Mousa (26) a receptionist at Basra’s Haitham Hotel. The father of two, whose 22 year old wife had recently died of cancer, was arrested with nine others, on 14th September 2003, by personnel of the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. Two days later he was dead, with “at least” ninety three injuries to his body, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.

A post-mortem found he had suffered cardio-respiratory arrest, i.e., : he had been asphyxiated. When his father Daoud Mousa, a Colonel in the Basra Police Force, saw the state of his son’s body, “horrified”, he burst in to tears. Light shone in the darkest places, again, the result of the deceptively mildly mannered, bull terrier-like lawyer, Phil Shiner.(4) Shiner is currently acting for seventy Iraqis claiming torture and mistreatment by British soldiers. His legal practise is not alone.

A former fellow detainee with Baha Mousa alleged, at London’s High Court, that soldiers had competed to see who could kick them the furthest. Another survivor, Kifa Taha al-Mutari, in a witness statement, said he and others were “beaten, hooded and our hands were wired.”

Hooding was deemed to constitute torture, by the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 1997, a fact brought to the attention of the relevant British personnel in Basra by 4th April 2003. Baha Mousa was held hooded for over twenty three hours. (See 3 .) Britain is both a signatory to the UN Commission and banned hooding under domestic law in the 1970′s.

Whilst looters could be shot, the Inquiry transcript shows some questionable commandeering by the liberators. “The first arrest operation had yielded three Ba’athists who had 11 million dinars in three large bags in their house. Whilst I was keen to follow Geneva Convention rules and allow them to take this with them to the interrogation centre, I decided I could borrow a few thousand for use in the local market — to demonstrate an element of trust and willingness to restore normality!”

Iraqis know instability, and in times of turmoil, expecting looting, all cash and life’s savings are removed from banks and taken home for safer keeping. Three bags may well have represented all the three men had, equivalent of a few thousand pounds, to keep them and their families for however long the chaos lasted.

At the Al Haitham Hotel, as well as rounding up Mr Mousa and his colleagues, Britain’s finest, reportedly, rounded up the contents of the safe.

In another incident, is was recorded that : “He was interrogated along with his associates … after some very disconcerting ‘conditioning.’ Marines bashed corrugated iron with sticks for several hours. This was to maintain the shock of capture and encourage them to talk. It became apparent just how frightened these men must have been, when two of them pissed themselves.”

One young Iraqi was subject to a mock execution, by soldiers pouring what they said was petrol over him, from a jerry can, and threatening to set him alight. Another youth had a gun forced in to his mouth.

Deaths at the hands of the army, disputed by the Ministry of Defence, include twenty Iraqis, which witnesses claimed were taken to the British base at Amara, on 14th May 2004. Undisputed is that the next day twenty bodies were returned to their families. Injuries alleged included evidence of torture, mutilation, removal of eyes, and stab wounds, according to lawyers.

Further: “There were several instances of prisoners … being injured after capture … it rendered the prisoner unfit for tactical questioning.” Quite some injuries, if they were rendered speechless, it is possible to speculate. Detainees were held in a “prisoner of war cage.” Chillingly : “Prisoners should arrive .. ‘bagged and tagged.’ ” (i.e.: hooded and handcuffed.) So much for the United Nations Committee on Torture.

In all, prisoner handling was cited as : “Abysmal” and : “Fundamentally flawed.” Communication was problematical: they lacked interpreters.

Numerous claims, seemingly week on week, year on year, of British occupation inhumanity, include a twenty three years old security guard, Adil Abba Fadhil Mohammed, who alleges beating with rifle butts, kicking and sexual abuse by male and female soldiers, being made to strip, and being photographed by laughing male and female soldiers. Claims by others include rape, electrocution and sexual humiliation, descriptions of which, should carry a health warning.

Another claim is of the alleged torture and execution of sixty two year old Sabiha Khudur Talib, claimed by her son to be taken away by British soldiers, hit on her back with a rifle butt, and bundled in to a personnel carrier. Her body was found on Basra’s al-Zubayr highway, in a British army body bag. Basra police describe: “traces of torture and a bullet wound to the abdomen.” “The evidence points to a brutal murder ..”, says Phil Shiner.

In October 2009, an army whistle-blower spoke to investigative reporter Donal MacIntyre, he had spent much of his career in the Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch. He finally left believing that he was: “serving something that was party to covering up quite serious allegations of torture and murder”, he commented.

“I’ve seen documentary evidence that there were incidents, running in to the hundreds, involving death and serious injury to Iraqis. It is the actions of a few who have shown to be bad apples. But the system in so flawed, and some of the decision making has been so perverse, that it is fair to say that the barrel is probably rotten.”

In 2009, when the British finally left Iraq, their Commanding Officer saluted their bravery and told them: “We have prepared the ground for continued success … We leave knowing that Basra is a better place now than it was in 2003.”

It takes, as ever, William Blum on Iraq, to cut through this and the rest of the delusional nonsense, including that from “Peace Envoy” Blair, and utterly unworthy Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Obama, this week. Britain and America:

“… killed wantonly, tortured … the people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives …

More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lie in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again.” (5)

Notes

1. http://www.truth-out.org/another-false-ending-contracting-out-iraq-occupation62883  

2. Last Round, Mark Nichol, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2005.

3. Full transcript: http://www.bahamousainquiry.org/linkedfiles/baha_mousa/hearings/transcripts/20090723day8fulldayredacted.pdf  

4. http://www.publicinterestlawyers.co.uk/general/about.php  

5. http://www.killinghope.org/bblum6/aer85.html  (Anti-Empire Report, September 1, 2010)

The State and Local Bases of Zionist Power in America

September 3rd, 2010 by Prof. James Petras

Any serious effort to understand the extraordinary influence of the Zionist power configuration over US foreign policy must examine the presence of key operatives in strategic positions in the government and the activities of local Zionist organizations affiliated with mainstream Jewish organizations and religious orders.

There are at least 52 major American Jewish organizations actively engaged in promoting Israel’s foreign policy, economic and technological agenda in the US (see the appendix). The grassroots membership ranges from several hundred thousand militants in the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) to one hundred thousand wealthy contributors, activists and power brokers in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In addition scores of propaganda mills, dubbed think tanks, have been established by million dollar grants from billionaire Zionists including the Brookings Institute (Haim Saban) and the Hudson Institute among others. Scores of Zionist funded political action committees (PAC) have intervened in all national and regional elections, controlling nominations and influencing election outcomes. Publishing houses, including university presses have been literally taken over by Zionist zealots, the most egregious example being Yale University, which publishes the most unbalanced tracts parroting Zionist parodies of Jewish history.1 New heavily funded Zionist projects designed to capture young Jews and turn them into instruments of Israeli foreign policy includes “Taglit-Birthright” which has spent over $250 million dollars over the past decade sending over a quarter-million Jews (between 18-26) to Israel for 10 days of intense brainwashing.2 Jewish billionaires and the Israeli state foot the bill. The students are subject to a heavy dose of Israeli style militarism as they are accompanied by Israeli soldiers as part of their indoctrination; at no point do they visit the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem.2 They are urged to become dual citizens and even encouraged to serve in the Israeli armed forces. In summary, the 52 member organizations of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations which we discuss are only the tip of the iceberg of the Zionist Power Configuration: taken together with the PACs, the propaganda mills, the commercial and University presses and mass media we have a matrix of power for understanding the tremendous influence they have on US foreign and domestic policy as it affects Israel and US Zionism.

While all their activity is dedicated first and foremost in ensuring that US Middle East policy serves Israel’s colonial expansion in Palestine and war aims in the Middle East, what B’nai B’rth euphemistically calls a “focus on Israel and its place in the world”, many groups ‘specialize’ in different spheres of activity. For example, the “Friends of the Israel Defense Force” is primarily concerned in their own words “to look after the IDF”, in other words provide financial resources and promote US volunteers for a foreign army (an illegal activity except when it involves Israel). Hillel is the student arm of the Zionist power configuration claiming a presence in 500 colleges and universities, all affiliates defending each and every human rights abuse of the Israeli state and organizing all expenses paid junkets for Jewish student recruits to travel to Israel where they are heavily propagandized and encouraged to ‘migrate’ or become ‘dual citizens’.

Method: Studying Zionist Power:

There are several approaches for measuring the power of the combined Zionist organizations and influential occupants of strategic positions in government and the economy. These include (a) reputational approach (b) self claims (c) decision-making analysis (d) structural inferences. Most of these approaches provide some clues about Zionist potential power. For example, newspaper pundits and journalists frequently rely on Washington insiders, congressional staff and notables to conclude that AIPAC has the reputation for being one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. This approach points to the need to empirically examine the operations of AIPAC in influencing Congressional votes, nomination of candidates, defeating incumbents who do not unconditionally support the Israeli line. In other words analyzing the Congressional and Executive decision-making process is one key to measuring Zionist power. But it is not the only one. Zionist power is a product of a historical context, where media ownership and wealth concentration and other institutional levers of power come into play and shape the current decision-making framework. Cumulative power over time and across institutions creates a heavy bias in the political outcomes favorable to Israel’s organized agents in America. Once again the mere presence of Jews or Zionists in positions of economic, cultural and political power does not tell us how they will use their resources and whether they will have the desired effect. Structural analysis, the location of Zionists in the class structure, is necessary but not sufficient for understanding Zionist power. One has to proceed and analyze the content of decisions made and not made regarding the agenda of Israel’s backers operating in the USA. The 52 major Zionists organizations are very open about their claims to power, their pursuit of Israel’s agenda and their subservience to each and every Israeli regime.

Those who deny Zionist power over US Middle East foreign policy are left-Zionists. They never analyze the legislative process, executive decision-making, the structures and activity of the million member Zionist grassroots and the appointments and background of key policy makers deciding strategic policies in the Middle East. Instead they resort to superficial generalizations and political demagogy, imputing policy to “Big Oil” and the “military-industrial complex” or “US imperialism”. Categories devoid of empirical content and historical context about real existing policy making regarding the Middle East.

The Making of Zionist Power in the US Government

To understand US submission to Israeli war policies in the Middle East one has to look beyond the role of lobbies pressuring Congress and the role of political action committees and wealthy Zionist campaign contributions. A much neglected but absolutely essential building block of Zionist power over US foreign economic, diplomatic and military policy is the Zionist presence in key policy positions, including the Departments of Treasury and State, the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the White House.

Operating within the top policymaking positions, Zionist officials have consistently pursued policies in line with Israel’s militarist policies, aimed at undermining and eliminating any country critical of the Jewish States’ colonial occupation of Palestine, its regional nuclear monopoly, its expansion of Jews only settlements and above all its strident efforts to remain the dominant power in the Arab East. The Zionist policymakers in Government are in constant consultation with the Israeli state, ensuring coordination with the Israeli military (IDF) command, its Foreign Office and secret police (MOSSAD) and compliance with the Jewish State’s political line. Over the past 24 months not a single Zionist policymaker has voiced any criticism of Israel’s most heinous crimes, ranging from the savaging of Gaza to the massacre of the humanitarian flotilla and the expansion of new settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. A record of loyalty to a foreign power which even exceeds the subservience of the Stalinist and Nazi fellow travelers in Washington during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Zionist policymakers in strategic positions depend on the political backing and work closely with their counterparts in the “lobbies” (AIPAC) in Congress and in the national and local Jewish Zionist organizations. Many of the leading Zionist policymakers rose to power through a deliberate strategy of infiltrating the government to shape policy promoting Israel’s interest over and above the interests of the US populace. While a degree of cohesion resulting from a common allegiance to Tel Aviv can account for suspected nepotism and selection, it is also the case that the powerful Jewish lobbies can play a role in creating key positions in Government and ensuring that one of their own will occupy that position and pursue Israel’s agenda.

Stuart Levey: Israel’s Foremost Operative in the US Government

In 2004, AIPAC successfully pressured the Bush Administration to create the office of Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (UTFI) and to name its protégé Princeton graduate Stuart Levey to that position. Before, but especially after his appointment, Levey was in close collaboration with the Israeli state and was known as an over the top Zionist zealot with unbounded energy and blind worship of the Israeli state.

Within the confines of his Zionist ideological blinders, Levey applied his intelligence to the singular task of turning his office into the major foreign policy venue for setting US policy toward Iran. Levey more than any other appointed official in government or elected legislator, formulates and implements policies which profoundly influence US, European Union and UN economic relations with Iran. Levey elaborated the sanctions policies, which Washington imposed on the EU and the Security Council. Levey, organizes the entire staff under his control at Treasury to investigate trade and investment policies of all the world’s major manufacturing, banking, shipping, petroleum and trading corporations. He then criss-crosses the US and successfully pressures pension funds, investment houses, oil companies and economic institutions to disinvest from any companies dealing with Iran’s civilian economy. He has gone global, threatening sanctions and blackballing dissident companies in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America which refuse to surrender economic opportunities. They all understood Levey operated at the behest of Israel, services Levey has proudly performed.

Levey coordinates his campaign with Zionist leaders in Congress. He secures sanctions legislation in line with his campaigns. His policies clearly violate international law and national sovereignty, pressing the limits of extra territorial enforcement of his administrative fiats against a civilian economy. His violation of economic sovereignty parallels Obama’s announcement that US Special Forces would operate in violation of political sovereignty on four continents. For all intents and purposes, Levey makes US policy toward Iran. At each point he designs the escalation of sanctions, and then passes it on to the White House, which shoves it down the throats of the Security Council. Once new sanctions approved by Levey and staff are in place they are there to enforce them: identifying violators and implementing penalties. Treasury has become an outpost of Tel Aviv. Not a single leftist, liberal or social democratic publication highlights the role of Levey or even the terrible economic pain this Old Testament fanatic is inflicting on 75 million Iranian civilian workers and consumers. Indeed like Israel’s Judeo-fascist rabbis who preach a “final solution” for Israel’s enemies, Levey announces new and harsher “punishment” against the Iranian people.3 Perhaps at the appropriate moment the Jewish State will name a major avenue through the West Bank for his extraordinary services to this most unholy racist state.

The Strategic Role of Local Power

The Israel Lobby Archive recently released declassified documents of the American Zionist Council (AZC) subpoenaed during a US Senate investigation between 1962-63. The documents reveal how the Israeli state through its American Jewish conduits – the mainstream Zionist organizations – penetrated the US mass media and propagated its political line, unbeknownst to the American public. Stories written by a host of Jewish Zionist journalists and academics were solicited and planted in national media such as The Readers Digest, The Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post among others, including regional and local newspapers and radio stations.4 While the national Zionist organizations procured the journalists and academic writers and editors, it was the local affiliates who carried the message and implemented the line. The level of infiltration the Senate subpoenaed Zionist documents in the 1960’s reveal has multiplied a hundred fold over the past 50 years in terms of financing, paid functionaries and committed militants and above all in structural power and coercive capability.

While the national leaders in close consultation with Israeli officials receive instructions on which issues are of high priority, the implementation follows a vertical route to regional and local leaders, politicians, and notables who in turn target the local media and religious, academic and other opinion leaders. When national leaders ensure publication of pro Israeli propaganda, the locals reproduce and circulate it to local media and non-Zionist influentials on their “periphery”. Letter campaigns orchestrated at the top are implemented by thousands of militant Zionist doctors, lawyers and businesspeople. They praise pro-Israel scribes and attack critics; they pressure newspapers, publishing houses and magazines not to publish dissidents. The national and local leaders promote hostile reviews of books not promoting the Israeli line, influence library decisions to pack their shelves with pro Israeli books and censor and exclude more balanced or critical histories. Local militants in co-ordination with Israeli consuls saturate the public with thousands of public meetings and speakers targeting Christian churches, academic audiences and civic groups; at the same time local Zionist militants and, especially millionaire influentials, pressure local venues (university administrators, church authorities and civic associations) to disinvite any critic of Israel and their supporters from speaking. In the last resort, local Zionists demand that a pro-Israel propagandist be given equal time, something unheard of when an Israel apologist is scheduled to speak.

Local Zionist organizations make yeoman efforts to recruit mayors, governors, local celebrities, publishers, church people and promising young ethnic and minority leaders by offering them all expenses paid propaganda junkets to Israel and then to write or give interviews parroting what they were fed by Israeli officials. Local leaders mobilize thousands of militant activist Zionists to attack anti-Zionist Jews in public and private. They demand they be excluded from any media roundtables on the Middle East.

Local Zionist functionaries form rapid response committees to visit and threaten any local publisher and editorial staff publishing editorials or articles questioning the Israeli party line. Local leaders police (“monitor”) all local meetings, speaker invitations, as well as the speeches of public commentators, religious leaders and academics to detect any “anti-Zionist overtones’ (which they label “covert anti-Semitism”). Most of the major Jewish religious orders are lined up as the clerical backbone of local Israeli fundraising, including the financing of new “Jews only” settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

Local functionaries are in the forefront of campaigns to deny independent Middle East specialists and public policy academics, appointments, tenure or promotion, independently of the quality of their scholarship. On the other hand, academic hacks who toe the pro-Israel line, by publishing books with blanket attacks on Israeli critics among Christians and Muslims and countries like Turkey, Iran or whoever is a target of Israeli policy, are promoted, lauded and put on the best seller list. Any book or writer critical of Zionist Power or Israel is put on a local and national ‘index’ and subject to an inquisition by slander from a stable of Jewish Torquemadas.

Conclusion

The power of Israel in the US does not reside only in the influence and leadership of powerful Washington based “pro-Israel lobbies”, like AIPAC. Without the hundreds of thousands of militant locally based dentists, podiatrists, stockbrokers, real estate brokers, professors and others, the “lobby” would be unable to sustain and implement its policy among hundreds of millions of Americans outside the major metropolises. As we have seen from the Senate declassified documents, over a half-century ago, local Zionist organizations began a systematic campaign of penetration, control and intimidation that has reached its pinnacle in the first decade of the 21st century. It is no accident or mere coincidence that University officials in Northern Minnesota or upstate New York are targeted to exclude speakers or fire faculty members critical of Israel. Local Zionists have computerized databanks operating with an index of prohibited speakers, as the Zionists themselves admit and flaunt in contrast to “liberal” Zionists who are prone to label as “anti-Semitic” or “conspiracy theorists” writers who cite official Zionist documents demonstrating their systematic perversion of our democratic freedoms.

Over the decades, the distinction between Zionist power exercised by a “lobby” outside the government and operatives “inside” the government has virtually vanished. As we have seen, in our case study, AIPAC secured the undersecretary position in Treasury, dictated the appointment of a key Zionist operative (Stuart Levey) and accompanies his global crusade to sanction Iran into starvation and destitution. The planting of operatives within key Middle East positions in government is not the simple result of individual career choices. The ascent of so many pro-Israel Zionist to government posts is part of their mission to serve Israel’s interest at least for a few years of their careers. Their presence in government precludes any Senate or Congressional investigations of Zionists organizations acting as agents of a foreign power as took place in the 1960’s.

As the major Zionist organizations and influentials have accumulated power and abused the exercise of power on behalf of an increasingly bloody racist state, which flaunts its dominance over US institutions, public opposition is growing. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign is gaining strength even in the US (see Harvard divestment in Israeli companies). US public support for Israel, by all measures, has dropped below 50%, while polls in Western Europe show a marked increase in hostility to Israel’s ultra-rightist regime. Anti-Zionist Jews are growing in influence especially among young Jews who are appalled by the Israeli slaughter in Gaza and assault on the humanitarian flotilla. Equally important the presence of anti-Zionist Jews on panels and forums has given courage to many otherwise intimidated non-Jews who heretofore were fearful of being labeled “anti-Semitic”.

The Zionist power configuration rests on a declining population base: most young Jews marry outside the confines of the ethno-religious Jewish-Israeli nexus and many of them are not likely to form the bases for rabid campaigns on behalf of a racist state. The Zionist leadership’s high intensity and heavily endowed effort to fence in young people of Jewish ancestry via private schools, subsidized “summer programs” in Israel etc. are as much out of fear and recognition of the drift away from clerical chauvinism as it is an attempt to recruit a new generation of Israel First militants.

The danger is that the US Zionist support for the ultra-rightist and racist regime in Israel is leading them to join forces with the far right in the US. Today Jewish and Christian Manhattan rednecks are fermenting mass Islamic hatred (the so called “Mosque controversy”) as a distraction from the economic crises and rising unemployment. Zionist promotion of mass Islamofobia, so near to Wall Street, where many of their fat cats who profit from plundering the assets of America operate, is a dangerous game. If the same enraged masses turn their eyes upward toward the wealthy and powerful instead of downward to blacks and Muslims, some unpleasant and unanticipated surprises might rebound against, not only Israel’s operatives, but all those wrongly identified as related to a misconstrued Jewish Motherland.

Appendix

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Member Organizations

1. Ameinu
2. American Friends of Likud
3. American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
4. America-Israel Friendship League
5. American Israel Public Affairs Committee
6. American Jewish Committee
7. American Jewish Congress
8. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
9. American Sephardi Federation
10. American Zionist Movement
11. Americans for Peace Now
12. AMIT
13. Anti-Defamation League
14. Association of Reform Zionists of America
15. B’nai B’rith International
16. Bnai Zion
17. Central Conference of American Rabbis
18. Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
19. Development Corporation for Israel/State of Israel Bonds
20. Emunah of America
21. Friends of Israel Defense Forces
22. Hadassah, Women’s Zionist Organization of America
23. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
24. Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
25. Jewish Community Centers Association
26. Jewish Council for Public Affairs
27. The Jewish Federations of North America
28. Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
29. Jewish Labor Committee
30. Jewish National Fund
31. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
32. Jewish War Veterans of the USA
33. Jewish Women International
34. MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
35. NA’AMAT USA
36. MCSK” Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia
37. National Council of Jewish Women
38. National Council of Young Israel
39. ORT America
40. Rabbinical Assembly
41. Rabbinical Council of America
42. Religious Zionists of America
43. Union for Reform Judaism
44. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
45. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
46. WIZO
47. Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
48. Women of Reform Judaism
49. Workmen’s Circle
50. World ORT
51. World Zionist Executive, US
52. Zionist Organization of America

Notes

1Financial Times book review section August 28/29 2010.
2Boston Globe August 26, 2010. 
3. Stuart Levey, “Iran’s New Deceptions at Sea Must be Punished” FT 8/16/2010, p. 9.
4. Israel Lobby Archive, August 18, 2010.

The Triumph of Evil

September 3rd, 2010 by John Kozy

Above painting by Claudia Markovich at http://www.claudiam.com/Paintings/DetailPages/PriceFallingThrough.htm

Modern societies have justified their adoption of criminal activities by claiming that such techniques are necessary to combat evil. But the war against evil by the good cannot be won using evil tactics. Evil never yields goodness, and by using these evil practices, the amount of evil in the world increases both in amount and extent. Attempting to save the nation by becoming what you are trying to save the nation from is suicidal. Unless benign techniques such as those developed by primitive societies are put to use, evil will prevail. Then, paraphrasing J. Robert Oppenheimer’s comment after the first atomic bomb was successfully tested, We will have become evil, the destroyer of goodness.

Some decades ago, while having dinner with a newly elected Attorney General of the State of North Carolina and the Chief Justice of that state’s Supreme Court, the jurist told me that everyone involved in the legal system and enforcement had to think like criminals to catch them. He believed the statement to be straight forward and evident until I pointed out that the line between thinking like a criminal and acting like one is very fine and is easily and frequently crossed, which results in increasing the amount of evil in society rather than reducing it. Few apparently notice this consequence and the criminal-like behavior of those charged with enforcing and adjudicating the law has increased so substantially that it has become common practice.

YouTube is replete with videos of police brutality. Police have been videoed beating subdued prisoners, tasering people (even little old ladies) indiscriminately, shooting mentally challenged people they have been called upon to help, and killing people caught committing non-capital crimes who try to escape (sometimes by shooting them in the back). Investigations to determine whether those officers should be held accountable rarely result in any punishment.

People providing forensic information in trials have been shown to have falsified evidence in ways that facilitate convictions. A recent report claims that “agents of the [N.C.] State Bureau of Investigation repeatedly aided prosecutors in obtaining convictions over a 16-year period, mostly by misrepresenting blood evidence and keeping critical notes from defense attorneys . . . calling into question convictions in 230 criminal cases.” Similar problems have been found with other forensic labs.

In Dallas, TX, a former prosecutor, Henry Wade, now deceased, has become infamous for having convicted a large number of innocent defendants. Dallas has had more exonerations than any other county in America; yet most requests for the retesting of DNA have been denied by trial court judges on the recommendation of former District Attorney Bill Hill, a protégé of Wade’s. Mr. Hill’s prosecutors routinely opposed testing. In addition to almost complete reliance on eyewitness testimony, a review of the Dallas County DNA cases shows that 13 of the 19 wrongly convicted men were black, eight were misidentified by victims of another race, investigators, prosecutors, and many of the juries in the cases were all white, police used suggestive lineup procedures and sometimes pressured victims to pick their suspect and then cleared the case once an identification was made, prosecutors frequently went to trial with single-witness identifications and flimsy corroboration and tried to preserve shaky identifications by withholding evidence that pointed to other potential suspects, and judges routinely approved even tainted pretrial identifications. When Bill Hill, who said he was confident his assistants verified the accuracy of all eyewitness identifications was told his office prosecuted one those exonerated, Mr. Hill said the two prosecutors on the case were incompetent holdovers from the previous administration. Terri Moore, the current DA’s top assistant and a former federal prosecutor, said, “It’s almost like it’s the whole system. Everybody drops the ball somewhere, starting with the police investigation. And we just take the case and adopt what the police say.”

Then there are those prosecutions that rely on the testimony of criminals who have been bribed to act as informants. Bribery is a criminal activity, and if a defense attorney were shown to have bribed a witness, disbarment would be the likely result; yet prosecutors commonly do it.

The preceding paragraphs limn an ugly picture, ugly indeed!

But the evil is not limited to local law enforcement. When officials realized that they can act with impunity without fear of suffering any personal consequences, the maxim, one must think like criminals to catch them, underwent subtle alterations. Now one must think like bankers to be able to regulate them. The same thing is said of stock brokers, oil men, and every other interest group. Everyone wants to be self-regulated. But self-regulation is nothing but a license to engage in criminal behavior. The whole system of governing becomes an oligarchy of old boys scratching each other’s backs. Everyone knows just how well that works out.

Federal agencies, including the Supreme Court, are complicit, too. The Court violates the Constitution routinely. Remember the decision validating the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII? Other decisions, perhaps not quite so obvious, can easily be cited. The FBI and Homeland Security routinely violate the privacy provisions of both the Constitution and the law, and the courts have failed to intervene. The CIA has become an official version of Murder, Inc., now even advocating the assassination of Americans living abroad who have been labeled “terrorists.” The agency has become the dispenser of vigilante justice, while Americans are told to never take the law into their own hands.

No one seems to realize that the war against evil by the good cannot be won using evil tactics. Evil never yields goodness, and by using these evil practices on the pretext of fighting evil, the amount of evil in the world increases both in amount and extent. Attempting to save a nation by becoming what you are trying to save the nation from is an act of national self-destruction; it is suicidal.

So how can the good be expected to fight evil?

Edmund Burke’s claim, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” is often cited. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But the claim falls into the category of notions that Michael Faraday labeled “favorite ideas,” and he warned us to be leery of them. Think about it for just a minute. Are people who do nothing really good?

Anyone who has watched network television over the past decade has seen stories about people who have seen crimes taking place without ever intervening and people collapsing in the street without ever stopping to render aid. ABC News currently has a series, titled What Would You Do?, that stages illegal acts in public places to see how unaware bystanders respond. Many do nothing. The implication of these stories is that there’s something wrong with such people.

In fact, no one knows what the ratio of good to bad people in society is. Perhaps there simply are not enough good people to make a difference no matter what they do. But even supposing, as most people do, that the good outnumber the bad, few realize how hard it is for the good to fight evil.

Good people are repelled by it; they can never employ it even with the best of intentions; they know multiple wrongs never make right. So what are they to do?

They can, of course, rail against the evil. Some like the ACLU, the Innocence Project, and others file lawsuits, others expose evil by requesting documents through the Freedom of Information act and by becoming whistleblowers. Although all of these actions are worthwhile and often result in combating specific wrongful acts, they have little effect on the systemic evil that has been incorporated into institutional behavior. Good people seem to be limited by their very goodness. Is there then no hope? Can nothing be done to prevent the triumph of evil?

Some societies have developed benign and civil ways of dealing with it. Gandhi was able to use passive resistance to expel the evil British RAJ from India, but, unfortunately, the Indians were unable to use it to keep an evil local RAJ from acquiring control. Nevertheless, Gandhi demonstrated that passive resistance can work.

The Norwegians during WWII redefined the surname Quisling to mean traitor and thereby vilified Vidkun Quisling who assisted Nazi Germany after it conquered Norway so that he himself could rule. The term was later used to vilify fascist political parties, military and paramilitary forces and other collaborators in occupied Allied countries. If, as some claim, America is becoming a fascist state, “Quisling” can still be used today. Recently, Stephanie Madoff, daughter-in-law of Bernard Madoff, filed court papers asking to change her and her children’s last name to Morgan to avoid additional humiliation and harassment. Vilification by associating a person’s name with his acts and applying it to others who act likewise is an effective, benign way of attacking evil. In an earlier piece, I suggested that those who advocate war but deliberately avoid serving themselves be called Cheyneys.

The French Resistance, during and after WWII, shaved the heads of women caught consorting with German occupiers. These “shaved-heads” exposed their shame until their hair re-grew, and even later, others rarely forgot who they were. (Some would consider forcefully shaving a person’s head a battery which is illegal, but even so, it is a rather harmless battery.)

Primitive societies developed a whole range of benign ways of confronting evil, some of which are still in use today in isolated places. Ostracism, shunning, anathema, and social rejection have been used successfully. Then there are the more modern practices of boycotting and picketing.

But modern technological advances have made even other practices available. Imaginative uses of these tried and proven methods can be very effective.

For instance, most computer literate people are familiar with denial of service attacks used by hackers. A denial of service attack is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. These attacks are a great nuisance, but often cause no real damage. No good person would recommend using such attacks, but consider the following situation:

People are routinely asked to write their congressmen to influence their voting on specific issues. These letters are usually delivered to Capitol Hill, perhaps causing congressmen some annoyance, but rarely enough to induce much real change. But what if the letters, written in civil language without threats, were sent to the residences of a congressman’s parents, siblings, spouse, and children? What if the letters merely asked the recipient’s to urge their relatives to consider changing his/her mind? What if thousands of letters were sent to these people? The annoyance would be enormous. If this were done to enough congressmen often enough, perhaps they would consider acting in more responsible ways or perhaps leaving office altogether. Denying miscreants of the convenient use of the proceeds of their actions could be a powerful tool.

This technique can be used against corporate officers and their governing boards, judges who routinely reduce the amounts jurors award plaintiffs, the police who are shown to have acted brutally, Justices of the Supreme Court who issue rulings that cannot be justified by normal readings of the Constitution, in short, anyone acting in an official capacity who has done a great wrong. Furthermore, the U.S. Postal Service needs the money. The establishment does not expect people to act in such ways; it expects them to use the normal established channels to express their disapproval. But those established channels have long ago been shown to be ineffective.

All that is required to win the battle against evil is to find ways to make the lives of the miscreants miserable. No laws, not violence, not even punishment is needed. Annoy them, shame them, shun them, ostracize them, turn them into social outcasts, personae non gratae. Even if the good in society constitute only a minority, if the minority is large enough, it can succeed using such benign but annoying techniques.

The situation described above is only one of many possibilities. Imaginative people can conceive of others which can be equally effective. Think of ways of using the telephone, twitter, posters, and anything else in similar ways. The governing maxim needed is just make the miscreant’s life miserable.

Unless such techniques are put to use, evil will prevail. Then, paraphrasing J. Robert Oppenheimer’s comment after the first atomic bomb was successfully tested, We will have become evil, the destroyer of goodness.


John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.

When your life and your work is as entwined as mine has been—fusing the personal and the political over all these years, it may be stretching things to consider yourself unemployed but that’s what I am as Labor Day approaches.

Most of the media focuses on the big companies that have slashed their work forces (even as they hoard cash.) But small companies are also suffering, cutting back, and closing. They don’t get the subsidies or bailouts or the attention.

Companies like ours!

Last May, we decided to close our Globalvision office when the lease was up.  Our costs remained too high while revenues had dropped. We realized that we ourselves had become victims of the economic calamity that I had been warning about, and urging who ever would listen to respond to. It was, suddenly, not about someone else’s problems. They had literally come home.

There was no escaping it: after nearly 24 years in a business that sometime seemed more like a crusade, the handwriting was on the wall as the coffers shrank and threatened to become a coffin.

Like most of our countrymen and women, we had lost confidence in the economy. Taking on a new lease would have meant personally guaranteeing it. That seemed like a road to bankruptcy.

Our option:  go virtual with a post office box  (POB 677, New York l0035) while revamping the Globalvision.org website.

It took us a month to pack up our lives, our gear, edit rooms, tapes and archive. There were also our awards and memorabilia, and other artifacts of a video production company that was always churning new videos and films. The market for what we had always done seemed to have vanished; the foundations that sometimes bankrolled our work had lost millions in the markets and had turned to new flavors of the week.

Our story was considered old. We may have been the last believers.

The busyness of wrapping it all up was exhausting over the course of a month. A patrimony which we always believed had value was moved into boxes, and then into storage, packed away in large warehouse structures, crammed behind steel doors with only a number on the door. It had the feel of a prison.

We moved back into to apartments we had for years left early in the morning and returned to late at night. Sometimes they didn’t feel much like homes because to keep a small, undercapitalized company alive for decades demanded long hours on a treadmill with no margins for failure.

I remembered a summer cab ride years ago when we drove through Central Park on the way to the airport. The place was packed with people having fun.  It was a shock to be confronted with how much we were missing while staring into TV screens in dark edit rooms.

Soon, I was setting up a home office, but why-was I doing it? Could it be I just I didn’t know what else to do? I put in a new phone only to watch it not ring. It was the hottest summer in recent times and at points I felt like I was working in an oven. I became addicted to club soda, cases of the stuff.

We were media independents in a world where everyone is forced to be dependent—on jobs, clients and grants. By necessity, we had to become hustlers, doing more for less, undercutting competitors and working our asses off. The joys of being entrepreneurs became playing at capitalism without capital. It left us little time for development or to cultivate funders and even, at times, sustain friendships.

We may have been well-known in the “business” but sometimes lost touch with ourselves.

All work and no play….

Driven by passion, mission and perhaps illusion, I made a film a year, sometimes more. I was always multi-tasking, cutting corners, doing more than I should. I wrote blogs, sometimes compared to Dead Sea scrolls because they rivaled them in length.

I wrote books, eleven of them if you can believe,  while doing everything else. I was constantly in motion but without a lot of movement. We didn’t realize how many in the industry we aspired to work in were threatened by out values and political choices, or just ignored us because we were not commercial enough.

There was always the hope that somewhere, somehow, manna would fall from heaven or perhaps from a patron or two.

Sometimes it happened, more than you would believe,  as we enchanted a French Countess, an English visionary and an Italian publisher. Being Global had its rewards as my frequent flyer miles piled up, and globetrotting intensified.

It was a whirlwind of activity, and I haven’t thought about it deeply enough yet to regret it. We didn’t achieve all our goals but I, for one, am proud of having tried. We achieved far more than we ever thought possible.

When it all tapered off, not by choice but necessity, I was not really prepared for the suddenness of being alone, feeling cast off without a daily agenda, or schedule.  I suddenly had nowhere to go. The emails shrunk, the requests turned into a trickle as new generations of producers took their rightful place in what sun there was shining.

It seemed like everyone now was a producer, and many of the “kids”  could afford to work for nothing. Suddenly, we had become too pricey, too newsy, too much.

I was soon having moments of despair, perhaps even pangs of depression but I have not succumbed. It was time to make a change.  I had no choice but to persevere. Long ago, we had been branded “heroes of downward mobility.”

I am sure many people who are out of work can identify with our sense of loss and insecurity.

My first nights were sleepless, consumed by anxiety. What would I do? Is there an Act 3 for an aging workhorse?  Did our dream die? Were we fools to believe we could challenge, much less compete, with BIG media.

I liked the idea of working collaboratively but now I was forced to become a lone ranger, alone, without a womb-like office refuge that had sheltered me for so long. We are trying to keep Globalvision alive but if it was hard to do with an office,  It may be impossible without one.

It’s not that I have been just laying around.  I have been spending my time trying to promote my film Plunder The Crime Of Our Time which came out at the end of April. I’ve been appearing on many media interviews but major media outlets still seem uninterested in the multi-trillion dollar crimes of Wall Street. They prefer to react to celebrity droppings and whatever contrived hot-button issue on the right-wing agenda like the Mosque that may never be built at Ground Zero. Thank goodness for outlets like Democracy Now, Grit TV, The Real News Network, Free Speech TV and Link TV.  Many alternative media outlets have been very kind.

In the meantime, I have also become a shipping department, packaging DVDs and book orders received over our website and trekking to the Post Office where the clerks are tired of seeing my face. There’s always something wrong with a zip code or scribbled address. If I have any talent, this is not one.

Paypal is not my pal.

I also began to feeling like a failure even as I kept imploring whoever who would listen to act on economic issues. I thought I was persuasive but was having little observable impact. Given the lack of leadership at the top and the well-funded opposition on the right, It seems like the economy will bring down the Democrats and even more of our livelihoods.  There is no mass movement to fight for jobs, economic justice, and a moratorium on foreclosures. Sometimes, I feel like I am just pissing in the wind in my efforts to stir a fractured and fragmented progressive movement.

For many it seems so much easier to ridicule Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck than fight Wall Street. Their icons are out organizing; “ours” are just bitching..

I have done many promotional media appearances but the summer is known for low viewing and listening. The networks I used to work for were trapped in predictable coverage routines, not open to my input.

The one surprise I have had is the interest in international broadcasters in what I have to say.  Your news dissector is now appearing with some regularity on Iran’s Press TV, Russia Today and Al Jazeera as opposed the Daily Show and MSNBC. Strange. The only consolation is they may have more viewers.

The other day South Africa’s Ambassador in Sweden called after he saw me commenting on Glenn Beck’s Sermon From The Steps Of The Lincoln Memorial on Al Jazeera. There I was, via satellite, from a studio here to his set in Stockholm. 

Globalvision by other means!

So, the irony is I have been in the media more after shuttering our media office than ever.

Is it having an impact? Hard to know.  Instead of blogging daily. I am writing weekly commentaries. I am tweeting and Face Booking, “Trying “ is the operative word but as my income declines, the precariousness of my longer-term situation becomes more evident. 

I am hanging on, and hanging out.

Yet, when I look at realities in Haiti, or Pakistan or even back in the Bronx I came out of, I count my blessings. I am, knock, knock, not living on the edge of desperation like so many, not yet anyway, and still relatively healthy.

I know that joblessness is a killer for many,  leading to family breakups, personal breakdowns, and sickness, physical and mental. We now have a million homeless kids in our schools.

I grew up in a Labor movement working class family. I believe in unions although I would prefer the old militancy of May Day to the barbeques on Labor Day.

I have gone from the 60’s into my 60’s  Let’s face it, getting older sucks, but it happens to all of us.

Yes, I have more time to relax, see more movies, even do more walking. I seem to be watching the world more and more from my window. At the same time, I try to contain my own fears, check my political frustration and remain positive even during hot summer days of  disorientation and feeling down.

When that happens, I think of Richard Farina’s novel from my college years, actually written about the town, Ithaca New York, where I went to College . (It’s Mythica to me now.) The book: “Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up To Me.”

Unemployment for me is not necessarily as bad as it could be but I don’t have kids to support. I am not facing foreclosure. I am not totally trapped in the Debt Trap. I am not under the severe pressure so many others are facing. I am so alarmed by the lack of real stimulus  job creation and benefit extension programs. Where is FDR when we need him?

The economic prognosis is not good.

I am still trying to marry money and meaning.  I am also still getting invitations to travel. I’ll be speaking in London in September and in Tashkent later this fall, if you can believe.

So. yes again, I am happy to be here, to be alive, to have a roof over my head, to have some forum for my ideas.

I have to count my diminishing blessings. Isn’t that what it always comes down to?  I may have done more than I ever thought I ever would but nothing lasts forever.

I think of all the media companies I worked for. Many are no longer around. I outlasted them.

When I voted for change last November, I didn’t realize how my own circumstances would change so radically and force me to navigate in more turbulent waters. I know I am not alone. Many in the Indy Media sector are in the same leaky boat.

So I am out of work on this Labor Day weekend, laboring to keep going, hoping my luck will turn, hoping OUR luck will rebound. 

I am trying to look ahead, not back. The challenge: I still care, maybe too much.

What’s next?

Uncertainty is the only certainty.

 

News Dissector Danny Schechter directed the film Plunder About the Crimes of Wall Street. (PlunderTheCrimeOfOurTime.com) Comments to [email protected]

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Obama resorts to Orwellian Double Speak: The True Cost of the War

September 3rd, 2010 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Obama’s “end of Iraq war” speech must have shattered any remaining belief in him. Forced to appease both his supporters and the warmonger right-wing, who denounce him as a Muslim and a Marxist, Obama resorted to Orwellian DoubleSpeak.  He could only announce an end to the war by praising the president who started it and the troops who fought it. Yet, as most earthlings, if not Americans, surely know by now, the war was based on a lie and on intentional deception. The American troops died for a lie.

President Obama spoke of the cost to Americans of liberating Iraq, but is Iraq liberated or is Iraq in the hands of American puppet politicians and still occupied by 50,000 American troops and 200,000 private mercenaries and “contractors,” governed out of the largest embassy in the world, essentially a fortress?

President Obama did not speak of the cost to Iraqis of being “liberated.” The uncounted Iraqi deaths, estimates of which range from 100,000 to 1,000,000, most being women and children, were not mentioned. Neither were the uncounted orphaned and maimed children, the four million displaced Iraqis, the flight from Iraq of the professional middle class, the homes, infrastructure, villages and towns destroyed, along with whatever remained of America’s reputation. 

All of this was left out of the picture that Obama painted of America’s “commitment” to Iraq which brought Iraqis “peace” and liberated Iraqis from Saddam Hussein in order that that a destroyed Iraq can now be an American puppet state and take its orders from Washington.

As it is impossible for the U.S. government to any longer pretend that the invasion of Iraq was necessary to save America from weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda terrorists, the U.S. government’s justification for its massive war crime has come down to removing Saddam Hussein, who, like the Americans, tortured his opponents. 

Does anyone on earth, even among the most moronic of the flag-waving American super-patriots, believe that the bankrupt United States government spent three trillion borrowed dollars to remove one man, Saddam Hussein, in order to free Iraq from tyranny? Anyone who believes this is insane.

Saddam Hussein would have resigned for far less money had it been offered to him.

Do Americans see the irony in the “saving Iraq from tyranny” excuse?  The greatest price of the neoconservative war against Iraq is not the $3 trillion or the dead and maimed American soldiers and their broken families. The greatest price of this evil war is the destruction of the U.S. Constitution and American civil liberties.

The Bush/Cheney/Obama National Security State has eviscerated the Constitution and civil liberty. Nothing remains. The fascist Republican Federalist Society has put enough federal judges in the judiciary to rule that the president is above the law. The president doesn’t have to obey the law against spying on American citizens without warrants. The president doesn’t have to obey U.S. and international laws against torture. The president doesn’t have to obey the Constitution that mandates that only Congress can declare war. The president can do whatever he wants as long as he justifies it as “national security.”

The president’s part of the government, the unaccountable executive branch, is supreme. The president can announce, without being impeached, his decision to murder Americans abroad and at home if someone somewhere in the unaccountable executive branch regards such American citizens as “threats.” 

Murder first. No accountability later. 

The executive branch has exercised unilateral, unaccountable power to deep-six the U.S. Constitution, with little interference from the judiciary and with support from Congress.  The executive branch has declared foreign opponents of America’s illegal invasions and occupations of their countries to be “terrorists,” subject neither to the laws of war nor to the criminal laws of the U.S. and, therefore, subject to indefinite torture and detention without charges or evidence.

This is the legacy of the Bush/Cheney regime, and this criminal regime continues under Obama.  

 

America’s “war on terror,” a fabrication, has resurrected the unaccountable dungeon of the Middle Ages and the raw tyranny that prevailed prior to the Magna Carter. 

This is the true cost of “liberating” Iraq, that is, of turning Iraq into an American puppet state that sells out its people for America’s interests.

Who will now liberate Americans from the Bush/Cheney/neoconservative/Obama tyranny?

President Obama asserts that America’s war crimes have come to an end in Iraq, but Obama asserts the power to export America’s war crimes to Afghanistan in order to reign in what the CIA director says are “fifty or less” al Queda members remaining in Afghanistan. Bankrupt Americans will now be saddled with another three billion dollars of  debt in order to chase after “fifty or less” alleged terrorists. To cover up this extraordinary waste of borrowed money, Obama, following the dishonest practices of prior American regimes, equated al Qaeda with the Taliban, a home-grown movement of hundreds of thousands of Afghans seeking to unify the country. 

The least expensive way to combat “terrorists” would be to stop trying to create an American empire in the Middle East and Central Asia and to stop imposing American puppet states on indigenous populations.

The bought-and-paid-for-European-puppet states, who preen themselves with their superior morality, fall in line with Washington, obeying their American master who fills their pockets with dollars. The West having fought tyranny since the Magna Carter, now imposes tyranny both on itself and on the rest of the world.

If HItler and Stalin had prevailed, what would be the difference?  Is the Obama regime going to shoot the “enemies of the state,” condemned without trial or evidence, by shooting them in the front of the head instead of in the back of the neck, as was the practice in the Lubyanka?

What other difference is there?

Irán: la hora de Obama

September 3rd, 2010 by Angel Guerra Cabrera

Falta una semana apenas para el 9 de septiembre, cuando vence el plazo fijado por la resolución del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU para que Irán cumpla con las nuevas sanciones, arbitraria e injustamente impuestas como siempre. A partir de esa fecha, los buques iraníes -siguiendo la resolución- deben permitir su inspección por los de Estados Unidos, Israel y otros dispuestos a sumarse a la aventura. Con ese propósito fue despachada hacia el Golfo Pérsico una importante fuerza naval  estadounidense acompañada por unidades de superficie y submarinas de Israel, desplegadas desde principios de agosto frente a las costas de Irán.

Irán no aceptará la humillación de su soberanía. Ha reiterado que rechazará el intento de abordaje de sus barcos por lo que la flota enviada al Pérsico, a menos que reciba contraorden, se vería ante la única alternativa de intentarlo por la fuerza. Si no hay contraorden, siguiendo la lógica expuesta por Fidel Castro no es difícil imaginar la andanada de fuego que se desataría en ambas direcciones cuando las embarcaciones iraníes se nieguen a ser abordadas e imposible calcular el número de naves de ambas partes que serían hundidas en un lapso muy breve. Se insiste, por cierto, en círculos de inteligencia, que los portaviones de Washington serían enormemente vulnerables al ataque de las cientos de lanchas rápidas lanzamisiles de los Guardianes de la Revolución iraníes. Lo cierto es que se incrementan por días las noticias y opiniones que hablan de una situación explosiva límite en el Medio Oriente debido doblemente a la amenaza de un inminente ataque a Irán y también al temor que no sólo Israel sino gobiernos árabes aliados de Estados Unidos, como la monarquía saudita, dicen tener a un Irán nuclear. Según Victor Kosev, especialista de Asia Times “los nervios están erizados hasta el punto de ruptura  debido a la escalada militar en el Medio Oriente”. En el mismo tenor se expresa en la revista alemana Der Spiegel el veterano de los servicios secretos occidentales Ayad Alawi, ex primer ministro de Irak a comienzos de la ocupación: Cada esquina de la región -dice- está atemorizada. Incluso Estados Unidos esta atemorizado e Irán también. Nos dirigimos a una situación que casi se compara con la crisis cubana de 1962. Cada uno debiera hacer hasta lo imposible por prevenir las tensiones(las cursivas son mías). Alawi es uno de los políticos más influyentes de Irak, se afirma que será el próximo primer ministro, un hombre que conoce bien la zona. Aunque se opone a un Irán nuclear aboga por el diálogo con Teherán. Argumenta que “los iraníes son gente lógica  y que hay que tratar de ver y sentir donde descansan los temores de Irán”. A la pregunta de si piensa que la guerra estallará por el programa nuclear de Irán responde que “es una alta posibilidad”.

Desde polos ideológicos y políticos diferentes, a veces antagónicos, coinciden en la alta explosividad de la situación en el Medio Oriente políticos y analistas experimentados como Alawi, el académico de izquierda Michel Chossudovsky,  el periodista pro israelí Jeffrey Goldberg y el líder revolucionario Fidel Castro, quien titula una de sus más recientes Reflexiones “238 razones para estar preocupado”, días después de que apareciera en la página web de la revista The Atlantic el documentado artículo de Goldberg “El punto de no retorno”, en referencia al momento en que, según él,  es muy probable que Israel se adelante a Estados Unidos en atacar a Irán. Pero lo más grave es que según Chossudovsky, conocedor a fondo de los temas militares, Estados Unidos e Israel prevén utilizar armas nucleares contra Irán, opinión en la que coincide Fidel Castro, de quien el mejor testimonio de su maestría política y militar es su ejecutoria invencible en la guerra revolucionaria de liberación, la sobrevivencia de Cuba por más de medio siglo bajo amenaza de Estados Unidos y el éxito de las armas cubanas en la solidaridad con los pueblos de África.

Fidel no ceja -afirma Carmen Lira en la entrevista concedida a La Jornada por el líder cubano-: nada ni nadie es capaz de frenarlo siquiera.  Él necesita, a la mayor brevedad, CONVENCER para así DETENER la conflagración nuclear que -insiste- amenaza con desaparecer a la mayor parte de la humanidad. “Tenemos que movilizar al mundo para persuadir a Barak Obama, presidente de Estados Unidos, de que evite la guerra nuclear. Él es el único que puede o no oprimir el botón”

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“The way the ongoing security campaign has been handled and the rights violations that accompanied it have in one week destroyed 10 years of progress in this country.”

– Sheikh Ali Salman, head of Bahrain’s main Shia opposition party, Al-Wefaq, 21 August 2010

A brutal crackdown on Shia Muslim civil right activists in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain is entering its third week. It not only threatens to undermine important upcoming parliamentary elections, but the widespread protests it has engendered may force the government to finally address the civic, political and human rights of the island’s long-oppressed Shia population.

To understand the root cause of the latest strife in the country’s long history of domestic unrest, one need only appreciate a simple, fundamental and incontrovertible demographic reality: the country’s overwhelming majority Shias are effectively subjected to the rule of an unelected Sunni monarchy—the Al-Khalifa family, led by the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. Notably, and as will be discussed, the security services employed by the government and tasked with suppressing internal dissent are composed nearly entirely of non-Bahraini Sunnis.

Third-class citizens

As a consequence of this striking incongruity between monarchy and citizenry, and to ensure the continuity of dynastic rule—aided in no small part by the United States Fifth Fleet headquartered in the capital Manama—Bahraini Shias have been politically and socioeconomically disenfranchised, excluded from the security sector and treated as third-class citizens.

In 2009, Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), released results of the organization’s second report on institutionalized sectarian discrimination in Bahrain. Despite forming more than two-thirds of the population, the BCHR found that Bahrain’s Shia:

·         Fill only 13 percent of senior positions in the country. Most of these posts are based in service or non-prevailing institutions.

·         Fill none of the senior posts in the following institutions:

1. Ministry of Defense

2. National Guard

3. Ministry of Interior Affairs

4. Ministry of Cabinet Affairs

5. The General Organization for Youth and Sports
6. The Royal Court

7. The Crown Prince Court
8. The Central Informatics Organization

9. Survey and Land Registration Bureau

10. The Supreme Defense Council

·         Form five percent of the judiciary corps, 16 percent of the diplomatic corps, seven percent of the Ministry of Transportation, 18 percent of the Constitutional Court, 10 percent of the Ministry of Finance and six percent of the Ministry of Information.

The religious schism is itself not the primary issue, of course. Rather, the complete marginalization of the Shia and their lack of meaningful representation in the government are at the heart of all problems. Add to this the attempts by the Al-Khalifa regime to deliberately alter the sectarian balance of the country in their favor—sectarian gerrymandering if you will—and you have the recipe for political and social volatility.

In January 2009, thousands of Bahrainis peacefully protested against the Kingdom’s citizenship laws, the Arab world’s equivalent of Israel’s infamous Citizenship Law. The laws permit Sunnis from other parts of the Muslim world to become expedited, naturalized Bahraini citizens in order to manipulate the confessional makeup of the populace in favor of Sunnis—the Al Khalifas’ only real constituency. The New York Times, in a very fair Aug. 26 piece titled “Crackdown in Bahrain Hints of End to Reforms,” cites Shia opposition groups’ estimate that 65,000-100,000 Sunnis were added to voter rolls over the last decade.

This is not an insignificant figure; although the total population in Bahrain is approximately 800,000, only 530,000 are nationals and able to vote.

The BCHR has long documented the country’s human and civil rights abuses. It determined that of the 1,000 employees working for the National Security Apparatus (NSA), more than two-thirds are non-Bahraini (Jordanians, Egyptians, other Arabs, Pakistanis) and overwhelmingly Sunni. Bahraini Shia citizens constitute less than five percent of the NSA and occupy only low-level positions or serve as paid informants. The paramilitary Special Security Forces (SSF) acts under the supervision of the NSA and numbers 20,000—90 percent of whom are non-Bahraini. Indeed, the SSF does not include a single Bahraini Shia member.

By royal decree, the NSA and SSF may arrest and interrogate anyone they wish, are immune from prosecution and not subject to oversight from a monitoring body. According to the BCHR, they are responsible for arresting hundreds of activists, torturing citizens and running smear campaigns that result in the detention and imprisonment of anyone suspected of opposing Al-Khalifa family rule. Adding insult to injury, NSA and SSF forces are housed in upscale Manama neighborhoods while Bahraini Shias remain largely impoverished and face a chronic housing shortage.

The arrest and torture of Dr. Abdul Jalil al-Singace

With the above in mind, we return to the present crisis. On Aug. 13, after returning from a London conference where he criticized Bahrain’s human rights record, Dr. Abdul Jalil al-Singace, spokesperson and director of the human rights bureau of the opposition Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, was arrested at the Manama airport for “inciting acts of violence” and “destabilizing the country.”

Three more activists were arrested the following day, including two clerics. An unidentified NSA official told the state-run Bahrain News Agency that the four were being held for attempting to form a network “created to undermine security and stability of the country” and carrying out “illegal practices and other acts that would harm the stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and its civil peace … ”

Four more high-profile figures were apprehended in the following days, bringing the total to eight and stoking tensions even further. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the arrests.

The arrests immediately instigated sectarian riots. The subsequent security crackdown has led to the detention of more than 200 people, mostly human rights workers but also non-activist young men. All are being held with charge in unknown whereabouts and have had no access to legal counsel.

Human Rights Watch has called on Bahrain’s government to either formally charge or release those detained. Jon Stork, deputy Middle East director of HRW, said in a statement, “If the government of Bahrain can show these activists are engaged in criminal behavior, why is it resorting to vague and anonymous allegations?”

In early 2010, Stork’s organization came out with a landmark report on the use torture in Bahrain: Torture Redux: The Revival of Physical Coercion during Interrogations in Bahrain.

Unfortunately the practice continues.

It is never easy to read accounts of torture, let alone one experienced by a handicapped man. Dr. al-Singace’s statement to the public prosecutor of what the security service did to him can be read here.

The threat of October’s elections

The proximity of the arrests to next month’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for Oct. 23, is no coincidence. The Shia still hope to win representation in districts that have been gerrymandered to give Sunni candidates a decided advantage.

Bahrain’s main Shia political party, Al-Wefaq, holds 17 of 40 seats in the Council of Representatives. They form its largest bloc and are the only Shia party not boycotting the elections. Bahrain may have the trappings of a constitutional monarchy, but the parliament’s powers remain severely curtailed; legislation passed must first be approved by an upper house Shura Council whose members are appointed by the King.

As parliamentary elections near, Bahrain’s public prosecutor has banned all media outlets from reporting, publishing or broadcasting any news related to the unrest. Local websites documenting the violence have been blocked or heavily censored.

Ironically, the nation’s parliament was created eight years ago under a new constitution in a “reform project” meant to placate longstanding Shia complaints of discrimination and marginalization. Despite the protection provided by the Shura Council and a concerted, deliberate effort at sectarian engineering, it is clear that the current campaign against civil and human right advocates, opposition figures, clerics, and ordinary citizens belie how threatened the al-Khalifas feel by the upcoming ballot.

There are now daily clashes between Bahraini Shia protestors and the non-indigenous, Sunni-led security forces. The media is fully censored and the number of detainees continues to rise. Whether the country will be able to hold the October parliamentary contests remains to be seen.

Sectarian engineering and gerrymandering has polarized Bahrain and destroyed the very fabric of society. The political and social turmoil it now faces can only be described as monarchy vs. democracy.

Sheik Mohammad Ali al-Mahfoodh, a Shia cleric and opposition leader, came to a very straightforward conclusion:

“The King said 10 years ago we would have freedom. The experiment is now over.”

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.

Obama’s Failed Middle East Policy

September 3rd, 2010 by Avni Dogru

 

Only in 15 months after his historical Cairo speech, there are alarming signs that President Obama’s new engagement policy with the Middle East may soon find its place in history’s dustbin. The Obama administration’s withdrawal announcement of U.S. “combat” troops from Iraq by the end of August is nothing more than a PR campaign to rename the occupation. Similarly, the newly announced direct peace talks between the Netanyahu government and the Palestinian Authority doesn’t seem more than a tactical move for political gains in the current conjuncture, aimed to secure the Jewish vote in the mid-term elections in November and to ease Netanyahu government’s unprecedented isolation before the international community. To make matters worse, the beating war drums in the region between Israel and both Hezbollah and Iran raise fears that the region may plunge into a larger scale chaos, which would mean a disaster for all actors involved, including the United States.

Turkish Turnabout

Barack Obama’s election victory inspired unprecedented hope around the world but especially to the people of the Middle East, where eight years of George W. Bush’s unilateral policies virtually destroyed the U.S. reputation. When he decided to make his first overseas trip to Turkey in April 2009, Turks embraced Obama. During his trip, an opinion poll conducted by Infakto Polling Company showed that 52 percent of Turks trusted Obama, a huge improvement compared to their two percent confidence in President George W. Bush in 2008. This low confidence in President Bush in Turkey in 2008, the lowest in the world, was mainly a direct result of two factors. The two U.S wars in the region, but especially the Iraq war that had a devastating effect on the Turkish economy and undermined Turkey’s security by transforming northern Iraq into a sanctuary for Kurdish separatists. Second, the continued push for an Armenian Genocide resolution in the U.S. Congress. For Turks, judging another nation’s history one-sidedly for political reasons in a foreign parliament was an open hostile act.

The Turkish public hoped that Obama’s strong message of change would translate into a significant change in the U.S. Middle East policy. But, this hasn’t been the case.

Iraq remains unstable and we are still far from the end of the war. Despite the media hype about the withdrawal of the U.S. “combat” troops, this move doesn’t signify the end of combat mission in Iraq. There are still remaining 50,000 U.S troops in 94 U.S. bases with significant combat abilities and moreover, private contractors will simply be taking over the responsibilities of the withdrawn U.S troops. In other words, this is nothing more than renaming the occupation for political purposes. It is not hard to see the symbolic nature of this withdrawal just by looking at the size of the U.S. bases and diplomatic facilities and the huge number of private contractors in Iraq. In terms of security, July was the deadliest month for civilians for more than two years and the political stalemate still continues, even more than five months after the March elections, with no hopes of any solution in the near future. What is even more worrisome for Turkey is the increase in PKK’s deadly attacks in Turkish soil, with the current political chaos and the lack of federal authority in Iraq.

On the Afghanistan front, the war doesn’t seem to end in the near future either and, on the contrary, has had signs of spreading into Pakistan, further destabilizing the region. The Obama administration’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan was another important factor that questioned Obama’s credibility in the region.

Meanwhile, the Armenian Genocide resolution, which passed the House Foreign Relations committee in March 2010, created an uproar among the Turkish public. As a consequence, the Turkish confidence in Obama dropped to 23 percent in May 2010, down more than half from only a year before.

In June 2010, Obama administration attempted to water down the UN Security Council condemnation of Israel’s deadly assault on the Turkish humanitarian aid ship in international waters of the Mediterranean. Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, offered unconditional U.S. support for Israel after the flotilla incident. This deadly attack and its aftermath had two important consequences. It put Turkey right at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and inevitably further tarnished the U.S. image in Turkey. Consequently, if the current UN Panel of inquiry put together by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon fails to come up with tangible results such as an Israeli apology and compensation, which seems unlikely, a break in Israeli-Turkish relations and further deterioration in the U.S.-Turkish relations should come as no surprise.

In the Arab World

The situation hasn’t been any different in the Obama administration’s relations with the Arab Middle East. The blurry picture both in Iraq and Afghanistan raises the fears that the U.S. will not leave the region any time soon. In addition, the U.S. military attacks in Yemen and Pakistan, and Obama’s failure to build bridges with Syria further tarnished his image in the region. In his attempt to restore ties with Syria, the U.S. demand about distancing itself from Iran and Hezbollah in return was viewed illusory by many. And Obama’s renewal of the economic sanctions, first imposed by Bush in 2004, for another year ended the hopes for U.S.-Syrian rapprochement, before they matured.   

On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, rated the most important factor in the Arab public’s disappointment with the Obama policies according to a recent Arab opinion poll, Obama’s failure to pressure the Netanyahu government into stopping new Jewish settlements in occupied territories, lifting the Gaza blockade, and starting peace talks with Palestinians played an important role in the dramatic decline in the hopes for Obama administration’s Middle East policy. Only 16 percent of the Arab respondents said they were hopeful in 2010, down from 51 percent a year ago, according to the survey. In addition, Israel’s humiliation of Joe Biden by announcing 1,600 new housing units during his visit to Israel in March 2010 – and the Obama administration’s limited reaction — have strengthened the common view in the region that the U.S. has lost its influence in the region. Moreover, Obama’s efforts to kiss and make up with Netanyahu during the July 6th summit in Washington did little to raise the peacemaking profile of the administration among Arabs. After all this, the newly announced direct peace talks is not seen anything more than a political maneuver in the current conjuncture and does not excite anyone in the region.

As a result, Arabs in the Middle East have increasingly come to the same conclusion. Obama has good intentions, but he is unable to make any changes in U.S. policies and has to defer to Congress and the Washington lobbies. Accordingly, 38 percent of the people surveyed in the same Arab opinion poll said that “they have favorable views of Obama, but don’t think the American system will allow him to have a successful foreign policy.” Obama is not simply handcuffed by dynamics in the region. He must also face the financial reality that pro-Israeli sentiments play a major role in the Democratic Party and among party contributors.  In a political system, where as much as 40 percent of all contributions to Democratic candidates are donated by Jewish Americans, any pressure by the Obama administration on the Netanyahu government before November doesn’t seem very likely.

 There are also legitimate fears that the region may plunge into a larger scale chaos. In a recently released Contingency Planning Memorandum  from the Council on Foreign Relations, retired U.S. Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer argues that a third Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah is imminent. According to the report’s scenarios, Israel might attack Hezbollah or lure it into a war. Or it might use a conflict with Hezbollah as a cover for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. If Israel attacks Hezbollah or Iran, or in the case of a joint U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran, the conflict is likely to spread throughout the region and have irreversibly devastating effects. 

Obama as Last Hope?

During the Bush era, Muslims thought it was the neoconservatives that shaped U.S. foreign policy that created all the disasters in the Middle East. Obama’s name represented hope for a change in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East that no other American presidential candidate could have delivered. If Obama could have changed the current trajectory and shifted from hard to soft power, the American image could have been revived in the region.

If Obama doesn’t reverse course, the region will lose one of its last hope for diplomacy. After the possible elimination of Turkey as a peace-maker in the region, as a result of severed Israeli-Turkish relations, diplomacy will become increasingly dysfunctional. Radicalism will grow, and as a consequence military responses will become even more popular.

As hope in Obama fades, support for Iran increased significantly over the last year. Among the Arabs surveyed in the Zogby/University of Maryland poll, 77 percent now supported Iran’s right to its nuclear program, compared to 53 percent one year ago. And 57 percent said Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons will be more positive for the Middle East, up from 29 percent last year – a huge increase that says a lot about the loss of hopes for diplomacy in the region.

Clearly, the only way to restore peace in the Middle East is by avoiding military confrontations and restoring diplomacy. Therefore, the U.S. should first end its occupation both in Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of attempts to rebrand and continue them under a new name. On the diplomacy front, the Obama administration should offer a bigger carrot and engage with Syria and Iran with genuine intentions, and, at the same time, drop its short-sighted domestic political worries and pressure the Netanyahu government not to ignite any new military confrontations in the region, and to avert the approaching break in Israeli-Turkish relations. An active peace-maker Turkey, with leverage on Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria, can achieve things in the region that the Obama administration can’t. But only the Obama administration can achieve something that Turkey cannot: Deterring Israel from sparking new conflicts in the region.

Avni Dogru is a political analyst and a freelance writer based in New York. He can be reached at [email protected].

Atavism, A 9/11 Anniversary Waltz

September 3rd, 2010 by Vi Ransel

 
(Ancient genetic signals can be resurrected after lying
dormant for millions of years, awaiting only the right
trigger to release them.)
 
 
In the early Carboniferous there arose an organism
with, for the very first time,
more information in its brain than in its genes,
and the brain grew more dominant over time.
 
The modern brain’s blueprint is a story
of successive accretion and specialization,
which freed us from the hard-wired tyranny
of DNA’s monopoly on total information.
 
The three interconnected parts of the modern brain
correspond to the evolutionary emergence
of reptiles, mammals and primates -
especially humans -
constitute a developmental leap forward
 
in overall brain development,
each step adding a new function and a new layer.
And since these were laid down over existing systems,
the pre-existing systems had to be accommodated,
 
because making basic change deep within the fabric of life
very frequently turns out to be fatal.
Adding new layers while retaining the old ones
allows major change consistent with survival.
 
Today’s triune, or three part brain,
consists of the R-complex at its core,
surrounded and surmounted by the limbic system,
which is enveloped by the massive neo-cortex.
 
The R-complex is the most ancient part,
the dinosaur component of human nature,
seat of reptilian ritual and aggression,
territorial and hierarchical behavior.
 
No carefully-weighed decisions happen here,
no nuances of emotion’s wrenching contradictions,
just the stolid acquiescence to the dictates of its genes,
no thought or action taken of its own volition.
 
The R-complex lies below the limbic system,
which was added during the development of mammals.
It generates emotions, changes of mood and states of mind,
and the maternal instinct found in warm-blooded animals.
 
Emotions can be triggered by hormonal exudations
of endocrine systems such as the amygdala.
Stimulating the amygdala can make a placid animal frenzied
or cause a cat to cower from a mouse in abject terror.
 
The limbic system is the seat of subtle emotions
which we think uniquely ours among the animals,
but altruism may have gotten started here
and love may be an invention of the mammals.
 
The neo-cortex is layered over the limbic system,
and accounts for 85% of the brain’s mass.
Its frontal lobes most likely are connected
with deliberation and regulation of our actions.
 
Transforming experience into symbolic languages
is a primary function of the neo-cortex,
the extrasomatic manifestation of knowledge
expressed as reading, writing, speaking, and mathematics.
 
It may control anticipation of the future
and cause worry about the possibility of disaster,
but in our attempts to regulate the future we produced
ethics, science, legal codes, and magic.
 
There’s a price to be paid for knowing there’s a future,
and the price is living with anxiety about it.
But we also know how to sidestep many disasters
by foregoing short term gain for long term benefit.
 
And while control of many bodily functions
is shared by different parts of the brain,
the parts that lie beneath the neo-cortex
still operate in ancient hardwired ways.
 
At the core of the complexity of the modern brain,
the R-complex still performs its simple reptile duties,
because it’s woven so deeply into the fabric of life
it can’t be bypassed or discarded with impunity.
 
     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
 
If you control the means of communication,
and five mega media corporations do,
you control The People’s views of world events
and can make public opinion mirror your own views.
 
All the vehicles for transmission of information,
newspapers and radio, magazines and TV,
give exposure to only your side of the issues
and create the world the way you want it seen.
 
This manipulation is particularly insidious
when you know that your views, if stated openly,
would be voted down, rejected by The People,
so you make them unwitting accomplices to your story.
 
First, you create a problem -
an assassination, a terrorist attack, a war,
an economic collapse – it could be anything,
and then you get your media to report it.
 
And now that you’ve created the problem,
you also have to set up a scapegoat.
Again, this could be anything or anyone,
as long as it furthers your original purpose -
 
communists, “illegal” immigrants, liberals,
single welfare moms, drug users, gays and lesbians,
affirmative action recipients, pacifists, public workers,
but let’s go with Middle Eastern Arab Muslim men.
 
This provides the further advantage
of tapping into reliable latent racism,
fear of strange languages, peoples and religions,
and revenge based on jingoistic nationalism.
 
The People will be eager to attack this scapegoat,
who’s also the designated Fall Guy/Boogey Man,
created to get The People to ask you to do
what was originally unacceptable to them.
 
Crank up faux-balanced pundits and talking heads
reading talking points off scripted teleprompters.
Dumb down public opinion by using oxymoronic phrases
spouted by “reporters” who are neo-con stenographers.
 
Using talking points to dumb down national discourse
by shrinking the range of what it is that’s talked about,
is like using a, b and c, but not the rest of the alphabet,
and refusing to entertain any reasonable doubts.
 
“They hate us for our democracy and freedoms.”
        9/11.       Al-Qaeda.       Saddam.
“If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists.”
Yellow cake.     Aluminum tubes.     Smoking gun.
 
“Fight ‘em there, or fight ‘em here.  War on Terror.”
       9/11.       WMD.       Saddam.
“Mushroom cloud.”     “Islamofascistic jihad.”
Slam DUNK.     Cake WALK.     “Bring ‘em ON.”
 
Marinate the airwaves, print media and American minds
with a shock and awe bouillabaisse of your views
with relentless, ritual repetition of propaganda
via newspapers, talk radio and Evening Entertainnews
 
with carefully orchestrated images of the event
   – 9/11.       9/11.       9/11.       9/11. -
a 24/7 blitzkreig of terror by the best means
of manufacturing consent ever invented.
 
Want to give police and military more power
for home invasions and warrantless searches?
Wire taps on citizens?  A National I.D.?
The ability to detain citizens without charges?
 
The People will react with “Somebody DO something!”
and that something will dovetail quite precisely
with what it was you wanted in the first place,
now presented as a way out of this crisis.
 
    9/11.       9/11.       9/11.       9/11.
They’ll come running to you for protection,
cowering in fear of the Fall Guy/Boogey Man
created specifically to control and to oppress them
 
into accepting growing limits on their freedoms and their rights
which is passed off as in the national interest,
but has nothing at all to do with The People’s agenda
and, in fact, is a laundry list of your own wishes.
 
And that’s really all that there is to this “sting”.
Problem.       Reaction.       Solution.
A simple, yet Machiavellian technique
that short circuits even thoughts of Revolution.
 
You actually set up those who’d oppose you
to see your legislation as the only possible solution
to the problem you created in the first place
and then get them to demand you introduce it.
 
The people who proposed the legislation are the people
who created the problem so they could impose it.
The cost?  A few thousand American sacrificial lambs
and hundreds of thousands of Arab Muslim scapegoats.
 
It works by exploiting instincts that are hardest to control,
triggering our most ancient behaviors by pushing our hot buttons
of territoriality, hierarchy, ritual and aggression,
the basic bundle of R-complex reptile functions.
 
                LET’S BE CLEAR 
 
Territoriality limits not only area, but outlook,
a provincialism prone to becoming vainglorious
when amplified by the injection of terror alerts
transforming it to full-blown xenophobia
 
and a proprietary identification with the “Homeland’,
which serves as a springboard for wanton aggression
that may begin as threats, but always escalates
to an unprovoked act, an assault or an invasion.
 
Hierarchical behavior is a pecking order
based on the infliction of pain.
Each member submits to pecking by those higher
and pecks those below without fear of retaliation.
 
It’s intrinsic to vertebrate evolution, since it’s the first
primitive thought pattern and cerebrative mode of action.
In non-cerebrating, cold-blooded vertebrates,
pecking order is completely genetically mechanical.
 
Each level assumes authority over the one below it,
fostering unquestioning obedience to authority
instead of individual freedom of judgment and action
and paves the way for a dictator’s rise to glory
 
or that of a small, dictatorial cabal
which assumes it has the right to command,
enforce dogma and obedience, and make all final decisions
while promoting their own private interests and personal plans.
 
Ritual is a way of doing things,
an obligatory ceremony set in concrete,
considered right and proper, with a strict set of rules
established by custom, by habit or by authority.
 
Territoriality.       Provincialism.
Proprietary indentification with the “Homeland”.
Hierarchical behavior.       Xenophobia.
Authoritarianism and Unprovoked Aggression.
 
Ritual ties them all together and reinforces them,
ax of aggression in the center.  This is the fasces,
an ax tied up in the middle of a bunch of rods,
the symbol of the Roman Empire’s iron authority.
 
We need more terror to sustain our Foreign Policy,
so laws were passed to create the levers of power
for declaring martial law and suspending elections.
We’re one False Flag from living under Big Brother.
 
But since the brain can resist the reptile’s siren song,
they need to do an end run ’round the neo-cortex sentry
and speak directly to the dinosaur component
that longs to hear the talking points of tyranny.
 
And the only way to achieve these obscene objectives
is to play the last card left in the neoconservative deck.
They punch down through the volatile limbic system
with a massive dose of terror in order to affect
 
what was once held in check by the distractions
of the smokescreen we call the American Dream,
and resurrect it from the depths of the reptilian R-complex
by sacrificing what makes us human beings,
 
replacing it with the atavism of the reptile “mind”
by using “Remember the Maine!” and the Lusitania,
the Gulf of Tonkin and Pearl Harbor-like False Flags
to rouse The People into a terrified hysteria
 
and get us to acquiesce to the neutering
of our constitutional freedoms and unalienable rights
and support what the Nuremberg Tribunals termed a war of aggression,
the supreme and most heinous international crime.
 
Our purchased puppet leadership makes a fetish
of our most ancient instincts and involuntary reactions,
enshrining the authority of black-and-white certainty
over the individual liberty of democratic action.
 
And by punching down through reason with emotion
to reach instinctual pecking order submission to authority,
they’re replacing our representative democracy
with a government by stone-cold, corporate sociopathy.
 
What makes us so uniquely human is our free will,
choice based on critical thought and reasoned deliberation,
conscience, empathy, just and honest actions,
humility, and the ability to put off gratification.
 
We don’t have to be governed by sociopaths
just because they’ve figured out how to exploit us.
Contrary to Hobbes’ assertion life’s nasty, brutish and short,
human nature doesn’t doom us to a life misery and injustice.
 
But lurking at the base of our impressive modern brains
lies waiting patiently one day to be anointed,
the primitive, reptile atavist to be used
by other reptiles with the ability to exploit it.
 
False Flags will be flown by fraudulent leaders
with psy ops, public diplomacy and perception management
at critical, historical junctures intended to prepare us
for totalitarianism using terror as the catalyst.
 
9/11.       9/11.       9/11.       9/11.
Problem.       Reaction.       Solution.
False Flag.       Martial Law.       Fascism.
 
                The antidote?
 
                  DEMOCRACY
 
           Accept no substitutions.
 
 
 
 
                – Vi Ransel, 

email: [email protected].

What is the difference between today’s economy and Lehman Brothers just before it collapsed in September 2008? Should Lehman, the economy, Wall Street – or none of the above – be bailed out of bad mortgage debt? How did the Fed and Treasury decide which Wall Street firms to save – and how do they decide whether or not to save U.S. companies, personal mortgage debtors, states and cities from bankruptcy and insolvency today? Why did it start by saving the richest financial institutions, leaving the “real” economy locked in debt deflation?

Stated another way, why was Lehman the only Wall Street firm permitted to go under? How does the logic that Washington used in its case compare to how it is treating the economy at large? Why bail out Wall Street – whose managers are rich enough not to need to spend their gains – and not the quarter of U.S. homeowners unfortunate enough also to suffer “negative equity” but not qualify for the help that the officials they elect gave to Wall Street’s winners by enabling Bear Stearns, A.I.G., Countrywide Financial and other gamblers to pay their bad debts?

There was disagreement last Wednesday at the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings now plodding along through its post mortem on the causes of Wall Street’s autumn 2008 collapse and ensuing bailout. Federal Reserve economists argue that the economy – and Wall Street firms apart from Lehman – merely had a liquidity problem, a temporary failure to find buyers for its junk mortgages. By contrast, Lehman had a more deep-seated “balance sheet” problem: negative equity. A taxpayer bailout would have been an utter waste, not recoverable.

Only a “liquidity problem,” or a balance sheet problem of negative equity?

Lehman CEO Dick Fuld is bitter. He claims that Lehman was unfairly singled out. After all, the Fed lent $29 billion to help JPMorgan Chase buy out Bear Stearns the preceding spring. In the wake of Lehman’s failure it seemed to gain the courage to say, “Never again,” and avoided new collapses by bailing out A.I.G. – saving all its counterparties from having to take a loss.

Was this not a giveaway? Mr. Fuld implied. Why couldn’t the Fed and Treasury do for Lehman what they did with other Wall Street investment firms and stock brokers: let it reclassify itself as a bank so it could pawn off its junk mortgages at the Fed’s discount window for 100 cents on the dollar, sticking taxpayers with the loss? (And by the way, will these firms ever be asked to buy back these mortgages at the price they borrowed against from the government? Or will they be allowed to walk away from their debts in a Wall Street version of “jingle mail”?)

This is the soap opera that Americans should be watching, if only it weren’t conducted in the foreign language of jargon and euphemism. At issue is whether Lehman’s crisis was merely a temporary “liquidity problem,” that time would have cleaned up much like BP’s oil spill in the Gulf; or, did the firm suffer a more deep-seated “balance sheet problem” (negative equity), as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims – a junk balance sheet, composed of assets that not only had no buyers at the time, but had no visible likelihood of recovering their market price even after the $13 trillion the Treasury and Federal Reserve have spent to bail out Wall Street.

Insisting that Lehman should have shared in Washington’s $13 trillion giveaway, Mr. Fuld testified that his firm was just as savable as Countrywide or A.I.G. – or Fannie Mae for that matter. Lehman was perversely singled out, he claims. Was it not indeed as savable as the Fed and Treasury claim the U.S. real estate sector is? Like over-mortgaged homeowners, all it needed was enough time to finish selling off its portfolio, given enough loan support to tide it over.

The problem, of course, is that the securities that Lehman hoped to pawn off were fraudulent junk. American homeowners are victims, not crooks. Wall Street bailed out crooks at Countrywide and its cohorts. The credit-rating agency Fitch has found financial fraud in every mortgage package it has examined. And these are the packages that have made Wall Street rich and powerful enough to gain Washington bailouts to establish them as a new ruling class, bailouts to use for buying up Washington politicians and lawmakers, and for buying out the popular press to tell people how necessary Wall Street financial practice is to “support” the economy and “create wealth.”

Could any other daytime telecast have a more typecast villain than Mr. Fuld? A novelist would be hard-put to better personify greed, arrogantly playing bridge with his boss while Lehman burned. Yet his testimony has a certain logic. If the negative equity suffered by a quarter of U.S. homeowners can be saved, as the Fed claims it can, where should the line be drawn?

Or to put this question the other way around, why are ten million American homeowners being treated like Lehman, if the Fed believes that they are as savable as Countrywide and A.I.G.?

Huge sums are at stake, because the bailout has left little for Social Security, and nothing to bail out the insolvent states and cities, or for more stimuli to pull the national economy out of depression.

Most relevant in Mr. Fuld’s self-pitying defense before the Angelides Committee is not what he said about his own firm, but his accusation that the Fed and Treasury rescued the rest of Wall Street. Weren’t other firms just as bad? Why was Lehman singled out?

The Fed’s witnesses gave a devastating reply. They drew a clear distinction between a temporary “liquidity problem” and outright negative net worth – the “balance-sheet problem” of insufficient assets to cover one’s debts. Lehman was so badly managed, the Fed claimed – so reckless and arrogant in its belief that it could cheat its customers by selling junk at a huge markup – that it could not have been rescued except by an outright taxpayer giveaway. As the Fed’s Chief Counsel, Scott Alvarez, put matters: “I think that if the Federal Reserve had lent to Lehman … in the way that some people think without adequate collateral … this hearing and all other hearings would have only been about how we had wasted the taxpayers’ money – and I don’t expect we would have been repaid.” Like downtown Los Angeles, there was no “there” there.

Included in the hearings’ evidence is an exasperated e-mail sent by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s chief of staff, Jim Wilkinson, on Sept. 9, 2008: “I just can’t stomach us bailing out lehman. Will be horrible in the press.” Five days later, on Sept. 14, he added that unless a private buyer could be found (e.g., as JPMorgan Chase stepped forward to buy Bear Stearns), “No way govt money is coming in … also just did a call with the WH [White House] and usg [U.S. Government] is united behind no money … I think we are headed for winddown.”[1]

Lehman’s problem was not just temporary illiquidity. It had a fatal balance-sheet problem: Its assets were not worth anywhere near what it owed. So with poetic justice, it was in the same position as the subprime borrowers whose junk mortgages it had underwritten and sold to investors gullible enough to believe Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s AAA ratings. This fraudulent junk was supposed to be as safe as a U.S. Treasury bond. But it turned out to be only as safe as Social Security and state pension promises are in today’s “Big fish eat little fish” world.

Yet Mr. Fuld is correct in pointing out that not only Bear Stearns and A.I.G., but also Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs would have failed without state support. So the question remains: Why bail out these firms (and their counterparties!) but not Lehman?

This is too narrow a scope to pose the proper question. What needs to be discussed is the result of Washington arranging for Wall Street to repay its TARP, A.I.G. and other bailout money – including that of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – by “earning its way out of debt” at the “real” economy’s expense. Why has Washington refused to write down the bad debts of homeowners, states and cities, and companies facing bankruptcy unless they annul their pension promises to their employees? Why is Washington is treating the American economy like it treated Lehman and telling it to “Drop dead”?

The explanation is that a double standard exists. The wealthy get bailed out – the creditors, not the debtors. And even the fraudsters, not their victims.

Sidestepping the Fraud Issue: Bailing out fraudsters instead of saving America’s economic base

Recent federal bankruptcy proceedings have exposed Lehman’s deceptive off-balance-sheet accounting gimmicks such as Repo 105 to conceal its true position. No fraud charges have yet been levied, but this is the invisible elephant in the Washington committee rooms. “Everyone was doing it,” so that makes it legal – or what is the same thing these days, non-prosecutable in practice. To prosecute would be to disrupt the financial system – and it is Fed doctrine that the economy cannot survive without a financial system enabled to “earn its way out of debt” by raking off the needed wealth from the rest of the economy?

So the Fed, the Treasury and the Justice Department have merely taken the timid baby step of pointing out that Lehman suffered from such bad management that no firm was willing to buy it out. Barclay’s was interested, but Mr. Fuld was so greedy that he found its offer not rich enough for his taste. So he ended up with nothing. It is a classic morality tale. But evidently not fraud.

The fraud issue lies as far outside the scope of the financial committee meetings as does the question of how the economy should cope with its unpayably high mortgage, state and local debts in the face of its inadequately funded pension obligations. Fed Chairman Bernanke testified on Thursday, Sept. 2, that “the market” itself breeds what most people would call fraud. Widening the market for home ownership necessarily involves lowering loan standards, he explained. But as the Lehman failure illustrates, where should we draw the line between “illiquidity” and insolvency on the one hand, and higher risk and outright fraud?

The Fed argues that the economy cannot recover without a solvent financial system. But what about that large part of the financial system based on fraud? Would the economy fall apart without it – without mortgage fraud, without deceptive packaging of junk mortgages, and for that matter without computerized gambling on derivatives? What of the credit-ratings agencies whose AAA writings were as much up for sale as the conscience and honesty of politicians on the Senate and House Banking Committees? Do we really need them?

And does the economy need more credit (that is, debt)? Or does it need jobs? Does it need to un-tax the banks and give tax-favoritism to Wall Street (“capital gains” tax rates) to enable it to earn its way out of debt at the expense of the production-and-consumption economy?

The question that Washington financial committees should be asking (and economics textbooks should be posing) is whether wider home ownership is really dependent on easier and looser lending standards. After all, the effect of easy credit is to enable borrowers to bid up housing prices. Is this really how to make the U.S. economy more competitive – given the fact that industrial labor now typically pays 40% of its wage income for housing?

Or, does the Fed’s easy-money policy deregulation of oversight open the way for asset-price inflation that puts home ownership even further out of reach – except at the price of running up a lifetime of debt to the banks that write the loans on their keyboard at steep markups over their cost of funding from the compliant Fed?

Qui bono? Who is to benefit from the Fed’s easy money policy – consumers and homeowners, or Wall Street? This is the broad issue that should be discussed. What would have happened without the bailout? (Remember, Republican Congressmen opposed it – before that fatal Friday when Maverick John McCain rushed back to Washington and said he would not debate Mr. Obama that evening unless Congress approved the bailout of is Wall Street backers.) What if debtors had been bailed out by a write-down of bad debts, instead of the lenders who had made bad loans and the large institutions that bought them?

The bailout has saddled taxpayers not only with $13 trillion that now must be sacrificed by the economy at large (but not by Wall Street), but with the cost of a decade-long depression resulting from keeping the bad debt on the books. This is what rightly should be deemed criminal.

Defenders of Wall Street insist that there was no alternative. And the committee hearings are carefully only listening to such people, because these are very respectable hearings. They are writing mythology, almost as if they are crafting a new religion. In this new ethic, Wall Street financial institutions – “credit creators,” that is, debt creators – are supposed to fund industry, not strip assets or make bad loans. Without rich people, who would “create jobs”? Such is the self-serving logic of Wall Street. For them, Wall Street is the economy. The wealth of a nation is worth whatever banks will lend, by collateralizing the economic surplus for debt service.

What the Angelides Commission really should focus on is whether this is true or false. That would make it a soap opera worth watching. The Fed so far has stonewalled attempts to discover just who was bailed out in autumn 2008? But most important of all is, what dynamic was bailed out? What class of people?

The answer would seem to be, financial firms employing and serving the nation’s wealthiest 1%? Any and all fraudsters among their ranks? (There has not been a single prosecution, as Bill Black reminds us.) Or the remaining 99% of the population – their bank deposits and indeed, their jobs themselves?

Academic textbooks pretend that the economy is all about production and consumption – factories producing the things their workers buy. The distribution of wealth does not appear, nor is it regularly tracked in statistics. But in Washington and at the hearings, the economy seems to be all about lending and debt, all about balance sheets.

I believe that the beneficiaries were fraudsters, and that the system cannot be saved. Trying to save it by keeping the debts in place – and letting Wall Street banks “work their way out of debt” at the U.S. economy’s expense – threatens to lock the economy in a chronic debt deflation and depression.

At issue is the concept of capital. Does money that is made by short-term, computer-driven financial trades qualify as “capital formation” and hence deserving of tax breaks? Are the billions of dollars of “earnings” reported by Wall Street speculators to be taxed at the low 15% “capital gains” rate? That is only a fraction of the income-tax rate that most workers pay – on top of which is piled the 11% FICA wage withholding for Social Security and Medicare that all workers have to pay on their salaries up to the cut-off point of about $102,000. (This cut-off frees from this tax the tens of millions of dollars that hedge fund traders pay themselves.) Or should these trading gains – a zero-sum activity where one party’s gain is, by definition, another’s loss (usually one’s customers) – be taxed more highly than poverty-level income of workers?

A short while ago the Blackstone hedge fund’s co-founder, Stephen Schwarzman, characterized the attempt to tax short-term arbitrage trading gains at the same rate that wage-earners pay as analogous to Adolph Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939. It is a class war against fraudsters and criminals – an unfair war as serious as World War II. In Mr. Schwarzman’s inspired vision the Democrats are re-enacting the role of Adolph Hitler by mounting a fiscal blitzkrieg to force billionaires to pay as high a tax rate as workers. Are not Wall Street firms doing “God’s work,” after all, as Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein, put it last fall? And if they are, then are not those who would tax or criticize Wall Street “God-killers”?

If religion can be turned on its head like this – where the Invisible Hand of Wall Street (invisible to the Justice Department, at least) is elevated to a faux-Deist moral philosophy – is it any surprise that economic orthodoxy and formerly progressive tax policy is succumbing? The rentiers are fighting back – against the Enlightenment, against Progressive Era tax policy, and against hopes for U.S. economic recovery. Given today’s florid emotionalism when it comes to discussing Wall Street finances, it hardly is surprising that the Angelides hearings do not dare venture into such territory as to ask whether the bottom 90% of the U.S. economy might need to be bailed out with debt relief just as Wall Street’s elites were.

On September 2, Fed Chairman Bernanke tried to put the financial flow of funds that led up to the crisis in perspective. In his testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission he described a self-feeding process that actually started with the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit that made foreigners so flush with dollars. They understandably wanted yields higher than the Treasury was paying, as the Fed was flooding the economy with credit to keep asset prices afloat to save the banks from having to take loan write-downs and admit that debt creation was not really the same thing as Alan Greenspan euphemized in calling it “wealth creation.” So foreign financial institutions became a large but overly trusting market for packaged junk mortgages.

“The market made us do it.”

‘ When asked just who was pushing the great explosion of mortgage lending, Mr. Bernanke pointed to the mortgage packagers – Wall Street profiting from the commissions and rake-offs it was making by pretending that the loans were not bad. However, he reminded his audience, there also had to be popular demand for housing. People were panicked. They worried that if they did not buy a home back in 2005, they could not afford to buy in the future. And they were cajoled with financial televangelists assuring them that they would always enjoy the option of selling at a profit. But Mr. Bernanke said nothing about fraud in all this. To widen the market for home ownership, banks had to write more mortgages, and this required lowering their standards.

So they did it all for us, for “the people” – and the backers of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac who egged them on.

Where does “lowering loan standards” turn into outright fraud? Has that simply become part of “the market”? This is what the commission seems to fear to address. But it is getting late – already we are in September, and the report is scheduled for December. So is this really going to be “it”? This would be like a soap opera ending in the middle of the desert, with the main protagonists stranded. This seems to be where the Commission is leaving the U.S. economy as it waits for the recommendations of the Joint Commission to Roll Back Social Security, or whatever the name of Mr. Obama’s Republicanized Democratic commission is more formally called. The result is more like the cliffhanger of a serial, leaving the viewer to try and imagine how the protagonist – in this case, the economy – will ever manage to be saved.

Note

[1] Tom Braithwaite, “Fuld criticises Fed for letting Lehman fail,” Financial Times, September 2, 2010, and John D. McKinnon and Victoria McGrane, “Clashing Testimony Over Lehman Bankruptcy,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 2010.

Despite Concerns, Canada is involving Israel in the Americas

 
 
The department of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday that the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent, will be visiting Israel from August 31 to September 08 to launch Canada-Israel discussions on the Americas. Kent is set to meet with President Shimon Peres, Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon, during his trip. He will also visit the West Bank, where he will meet Riad Malki, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

 
On the eve of discussions, Kent stated, “As vibrant democratic states, Canada and Israel are natural allies. This affinity, based on our shared values, such as respect for human rights and the rule of law, extends to our respective engagement in the Americas.” The Minister’s statement is puzzling given Israel’s documented history of human rights violations and concomitant breach of international law. Under stated Canadian policy regarding the Middle East, Canada has officially recognized  many of Israel’s violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, the ongoing expansion of colonies (a.k.a. settlements) in the occupied territories, and Israel’s construction of a wall on Palestinian land.
 
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is concerned by the purpose of Minister of State Kent’s trip to Israel and his statements on Canadian-Israeli relations. “Israel is not a good partner for Canada on the international stage, because Israel simply does not respect international law.” said Thomas Woodley, president of CJPME.  “The Canadian government is acting inconsistently by seeking to actively engage Israel in the geo-politics of the Americas, considering Israel’s role in the current instability of the Middle East.”
 
Israel has been a permanent observer to the Organization of American States (OAS), since 1972. Although countries, such as Argentina and Mexico, have maintained economic and military relationships with Israel over the decades, Israel’s has seen an increase in criticism of its policies towards Palestinians by Latin American nations. During Israel’s assault on Gaza in early 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled Israeli diplomats from the country as a sign of protest.  Since then, Israel’s interests in Caracas have been represented by the Canadian Embassy. Canada also represents Israel’s consular interests in Cuba through its embassy in Havana. 

For more information, please contact:
Patricia Jean, VP Communications 

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone 1: 450-812-7781
Telephone 2: 438-380-5410
CPME Email  - CJPME Website 

When Turkish authorities seized Dogan Akhanli on August 10 on his arrival from Frankfurt at the Istanbul airport and threw him into prison, they may have thought they could proceed unhindered, with the law on their side. But they miscalculated utterly. As soon as the news circulated, human rights activists, intellectuals, and political figures denounced his arrest and demanded his immediate release.

Akhanli, a renowned and respected Turkish writer, had served time in jail in his homeland between 1985-87, and been tortured, because of his opposition to the military regime. In 1991 he succeeded in fleeing the country for Germany which accorded him asylum and then citizenship. Turkey had rescinded all citizenship rights. Since then he has been living and working in Cologne as a human rights activist with his own Turkish association.

He flew to Istanbul on August 10 for the first time since his emigration to visit his ageing and ailing father. Upon his arrest at the airport, friends and lawyers, who had been alerted to the possibility of such a development, moved to protect his rights. Under pressure from the German embassy, Turkish authorities agreed to expedite procedures to put him on trial in early September. Since August 20, when the story broke in the international press, the heat has mounted on Ankara to release him – a move that would be desirable not only on legal and humanitarian grounds, but also from the standpoint of political expediency.

The entire affair is a farce, and could cost the Turkish government – which strives to present itself as a model of democratization in its bid for European Union membership — a pretty penny. For the charges against Akhanli are not only hoked up, but the pseudo-legal argument backing them up is as full of holes as classical Swiss cheese.

The official accusation is that Akhanli, back in 1989, took part in armed robbery at a currency exchange booth, during which one person died. His defense attorneys, Haydar Erol (Istanbul) and Ilias Uyar (Cologne) have dismissed the charges out of hand and with good reason: it turns out the key witness who allegedly identified Akhanli in 1992 had been tortured under questioning, a fact later confirmed and documented by medical expertise. Another witness, son of the victim, after having been shown a series of photos of Akhanli – and only Akhanli – capitulated to pressure and said that perhaps he might be one of the aggressors. Such procedures in any court of law worth the name would be thrown out as ludicrous, if not blasphemous. On August 13, when the police heard the witness again, he and his brother put on the record that they could not identify Akhanli as the aggressor. That notwithstanding, the magistrate rejected Dogan’s lawyers‘ appeal against arrest on August 20 and had him moved to a prison in Tekirdag (on the northern shore of the Sea of Marmora). On September 1, they rejected the appeal for the third time. As things now stand, his trial should begin in September. Legal advisors and friends are optimistic that the entire charade can be guided to a rapid conclusion, and Akhanli freed.

Who is Dogan Akhanli?

The charges mounted against Dogan are, as indicated, flimsy. In any legitimate court of law, they would be thrown out toute suite. But here we are dealing with politics not law. And the identity of the accused is of utmost relevance.

Dogan Akhanli, whom I have known for quite some time, is a soft-spoken, mild-mannered, modest person, author of works that have earned him various prizes. His novel, Die Richer des jungsten Gerichts (The Judges of the Last Judgment) was the first work by a Turkish writer that dealt with the issue of the 1915 Armenian genocide. This and his later work, the Last Dream of the Madonna, earned him literary prizes; Turkish literary critics chose the latter as one of the ten best novels of the year 2005 and in 2009 he received the literary prize of the newspaper Hürriyet.

Dogan is also a political activist. He has intervened to demand an investigation into the murder of Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink. He has taken on a total, personal commitment to a noble cause: to review, reexamine, and study in depth the history of certain critical conflict situations, and, through research and elaboration of events, seek to bring the parties in conflict to understanding and reconciliation. His main focus has been on applying historical research to seek dialogue and understanding among Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Germans regarding the 1915 genocide against the Armenians. It is in this context that I, an Armenian-American living in Germany, and daughter of two 1915 orphans, came into contact with him and his organization. His association in Cologne, Tüday, has dedicated its meagre resources to organizing impressive seminars, lectures, conferences, and excursions, to educate members of all those affected groups as to what actually happened back in 1915. In late July, he organized an educational trip to Berlin, showing participants from various ethnic backgrounds landmarks of Kurdish life in the capital, the Turkish cemetery where several Young Turk leaders lie buried, the Holocaust, and so forth.

Over the past year Dogan and I have been in a discussion process with others, aimed at bringing into being an association of Germans, Kurds, Armenians, and Turks living in this country (“Projekt 2015”), committed to overcoming the historical trauma of the 1915 genocide, and charting a course of reconciliation and cooperation.

I venture to hypothesize that one of the reasons why Dogan has been unlawfully arrested and charged with a crime he never committed is that he has dared to engage in such a process. Not only: but that he has succeeded with his Cologne and Berlin initiatives in forging such a dialogue among the relevant circles. The news of his arrest has already galvanized a movement in Germany, where virtually all leading newspapers have publicized the facts of the bizarre case and several national political figures have demanded his immediate release. Protest actions including demonstrations in front of the Turkish embassy in Berlin are on the agenda.

This is something the Turkish authorities in Germany, and in Ankara too, cannot easily afford. Their political credibility as partners with Europe – indeed, candidates to enter the EU — cannot withstand such discredit as would come with a brutal Stalin-style show trial against a man who has dedicated his life in Germany to seeking historical justice and reconciliation.

So, it is ultimately not Dogan who is on the dock, but the Turkish establishment. Were he to be convicted by a kangaroo court, there would be an outcry especially in Germany, the country which hosts the largest Turkish community outside Turkey, and which weighs in heavily in any discussion of EU membership. And yet, to reduce the question to a pragmatic question of EU membership is to miss the deeper point. Dogan Akhanli has put his finger on a festering sore in the Turkish consciousness, and has shown the way whereby Turkey and the Turkish people may confront, work through, and overcome the wretched heritage of the Young Turk past. If the authorities were capable of grasping the import of his message, and the advantage it holds for their nation, they would act to set him free.

The author can be reached at [email protected]  

VIDEO: Synthetic Sea: Plastic in the Open Ocean

September 2nd, 2010 by Global Research

Cuba and the Number of “Political Prisoners”

September 2nd, 2010 by Salim Lamrani

The question of the number of “political prisoners” in Cuba is subject to controversy. According to the Cuban government, there are no political prisoners in Cuba, rather they are people convicted of crimes listed in the penal code, particularly the act of receiving funding from a foreign power. In its 2010 report, Amnesty International (AI) describes “55 prisoners of conscience”1, of whom 20 were released in July 2010, followed by another six on August 15, 2010 after mediation by the Catholic Church and Spain, and later another two.2 Thus, according to AI, there are currently 27 “political prisoners” in Cuba. Finally, the Cuban opposition and, more precisely, Elizardo Sánchez of the Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CDHRN) put the number at 147 political prisoners, minus the 6 recently freed, in other words, 141.3 The Western media favor this latter list.

 

First, before raising the question of the exact number of “political prisoners” in Cuba, it is worth clarifying one aspect of this issue, i.e., the existence or non-existence of financing of the Cuban opposition by the United States.

 

This policy, carried out clandestinely from 1959 to 1991, is now public and confirmed by many sources. Indeed, Washington has acknowledged this fact in various documents and official statements. The 1992 Torricelli law, in particular section 1705, states that “the United States Government may provide assistance, through appropriate nongovernmental organizations, for the support of individuals and organizations to promote nonviolent democratic change in Cuba.”4 The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 provides in Section 109 that “the President [of the United States] is authorized to furnish assistance and provide other support for individuals and independent nongovernmental organizations to support democracy-building efforts for Cuba.”5 The first report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba proposed the development of a “solid support program that promotes Cuban civil society.”6 Among the measures envisaged was funding, totaling $36 million dollars, destined to “supporting the democratic opposition and strengthening an emerging civil society.” The second report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba proposed a budget of $31 million to further finance the internal opposition.7 The plan also provided for “the training and equipping of independent print, radio, and TV journalists in Cuba.” 8.

 

The U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana – the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) – has confirmed this in a statement: “The U.S. policy has long been to provide humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people, specifically to families of political prisoners.  We also allow private organizations to do the same.” 9

Laura Pollán, of the dissident group “Ladies in White”, admits receiving money from the U.S.10: “We accept help, support, from the extreme right to the left, without conditions.”11 The opposition leader Vladimiro Roca admits that Cuban dissidents are subsidized by Washington, claiming that the financial assistance received is “totally and completely legal.” For the dissident René Gómez, financial support from the United States “is not something that has to be hidden nor that we have to be ashamed of.”12 Similarly, government opponent Elizardo Sánchez confirmed the existence of U.S. financing: “The key point is not who sent the aid, but what is done with the aid.” 13

 

The Western press admits this reality. Agence France-Presse reported that “the dissidents, for their part, appeal for and accept such financial assistance.14. The Spanish news agency EFE refers to “opponents paid by the United States.”15 According to the British press agency Reuters, ”the US government openly provides federally-funded support for dissident activities, which Cuba considers an illegal act.”16 The U.S. newsgathering agency Associated Press says that the policy of manufacturing and financing internal opposition is not new: “Over the years, the U.S. government has spent many millions of dollars to support Cuba’s opposition”.17 It states, “Part of the funding comes directly from the U.S. government, whose laws promote the overthrow of the Cuban government.” 18

 

Wayne S. Smith is a former diplomat who was head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1979 to 1982. According to him, it is completely “illegal and unwise to send money to the Cuban dissidents”.19 He added that, “No one should give money to the dissidents, much less for the purpose of overthrowing the Cuban government” since “when the US declares its objective is to overthrow the government of Cuba and later admits that one of the means of achieving that goal is to provide funds to the Cuban dissidents, these dissidents finds themselves de facto in the position of agents paid by a foreign power to overthrow their own government.” 20

Let’s recall now the position of Amnesty International.  The organization speaks of 27 “political prisoners” in Cuba as of August 15, 2010. Nevertheless, at the same time AI recognizes that these individuals were charged for having “received funds and/or materials from the United States government in order to engage in activities the authorities perceived as subversive and damaging to Cuba”.21 Thus, the organization found itself in a contradiction, in that international law considers the financing of the internal opposition in another sovereign nation to be illegal.  Every country in the world has a judicial arsenal establishing the illegality of such conduct.  U.S. and European laws, among others, strongly sanction the act of receiving funds from a foreign power.      

 

The list put together by Elizardo Sánchez is longer and includes all sorts of individuals. Among the 141 names, ten were freed due to health, leaving a total of 131 people. With regard to these 10 individuals, Sánchez explained that he keeps them on the list because they could be jailed again in the future.  Another four individuals served their sentences and left prison. Thus 127 people remain.  Another 27 people are to be released prior to October, according to the agreement signed between Havana, Spain, and the Catholic Church.  

Of the 100 remaining individuals, about half were imprisoned for violent crimes.  Some carried out armed incursions into Cuba and at least two of them, Humberto Eladio Real Suárez and Ernesto Cruz León, are responsible for the deaths of various civilians in 1994 and 1997 respectively.22

 

Ricardo Alarcón, the president of the Cuban Parliament, emphasized these contradictions, “Curiously, our critics talk about a list… Why don’t they explain that they are asking for freedom for the person who murdered Fabio di Celmo?” 23

The Associated Press (AP) also emphasized the dubious nature of Sánchez’s list and indicates that “some of those would not normally be seen as political prisoners.”  “But a closer look will find bombers, hijackers and intelligence agents.” The AP points out that among the 100 people, “about half were convicted of terrorism, hijacking or other violent crimes, and four are former military or intelligence agents convicted of espionage or revealing state secrets.” 24  

For its part, Amnesty International confirms that it can not consider the people on Sanchez’s list to be “prisoners of conscience” because it includes “people brought to trial for terrorism, espionage and those who tried, or actually succeeded, in blowing up hotels”, according to the organization. “We certainly would not call for their release or describe them as prisoners of conscience.” 25     

Miguel Moratinos, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, who played a pivotal role in the agreement for the liberation of the 52 prisoners, also has called into question the validity of Sánchez’s list and has underscored its imprecise character: “They don’t say that 300 must be freed, because there are not 300. The Cuban Human Rights Commission’s own list, a week before I arrived there, spoke of there being 202.  The day before I arrived in Cuba, the Commission said there were 167.” 26

After the freeing of the other 27 persons included in the June 2010 agreement, there remained only one “political prisoner” in Cuba, Rolando Jiménez Pozada, according to Amnesty International. The Associated Press for its part points out that in fact this individual is “jailed on charges of disobedience and revealing state secrets.” 27 

Curiously, the list developed by Sánchez, which is the least reliable of the lists and which has been criticized from all sides due to the inclusion of individuals convicted of grave acts of terrorism, is favored by the western press. 

The Cuban government has made a notable gesture by proceeding to free prisoners considered to be “political prisoners” by the U.S. and some organizations, such as Amnesty International.  The primary obstacle to the normalization of relations between Washington and Havana – from the point of view of the Obama government – no longer exists.  That being the case, it is up to the White House to make a reciprocal gesture and put an end to the anachronistic and ineffective economic sanctions against the Cuban people.  

 

Article in french : Cuba et le nombre de « prisonniers politiques », August 16th 2010. 

Translated by David Brookbank

 

 

Notes

 

1 Amnesty International, «Rapport 2010. La situation des droits humains dans le monde», May 2010. http://thereport.amnesty.org/sites/default/files/AIR2010_AZ_FR.pdf (website consulted June 7, 2010), pp. 87-88.

 

2 EFE, «Damas piden a España acoger a más presos políticos», 25 de julio de 2010; Carlos Batista, «Disidencia deplora ‘destierro’ de ex presos», El Nuevo Herald, August 15, 2010.

 

3 EFE, «Damas piden a España acoger a más presos políticos», July 25, 2010.

 

4 Cuban Democracy Act, Title XVII, Section 1705, 1992.

 

5 Helms-Burton Act, Title I, Section 109, 1996.

 

6 Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington: United States Department of State, May 2004). www.state.gov/documents/organization/32334.pdf (website consulted May 7, 2004), pp. 16, 22.

 

7 Condolezza Rice & Carlos Gutierrez, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington: United States Department of State, July 2006). www.cafc.gov/documents/organization/68166.pdf (website consulted July 12, 2006), p. 20.

 

8 Ibid., p. 22.

 

9 Associated Press/El Nuevo Herald, «Cuba: EEUU debe tomar ‘medidas’ contra diplomáticos», May 19, 2008.

 

10 Associated Press, “Cuban Dissident Confirms She Received Cash from Private US Anti-Castro Group”, May 20, 2008.

 

11 El Nuevo Herald, «Disidente cubana teme que pueda ser encarcelada», May 21, 2008.

 

12 Patrick Bèle, «Cuba accuse Washington de payer les dissidents», Le Figaro, May 21, 2008.

 

13 Agence France-Presse, «Prensa estatal cubana hace inusual entrevista callejera a disidentes», May 22, 2008.

 

14 Agence France-Presse, «Financement de la dissidence: Cuba ‘somme’ Washington de s’expliquer», May 22, 2008.

 

15 EFE, «Un diputado cubano propone nuevos castigos a opositores pagados por EE UU», May 28, 2008.

 

16 Jeff Franks, “Top U.S. Diplomat Ferried Cash to Dissident: Cuba”, Reuters, May 19, 2008.

 

17 Ben Feller, “Bush Touts Cuban Life after Castro”, Associated Press, October 24, 2007.

 

18 Will Weissert, «Activistas cubanos dependen del financiamiento extranjero», Associated Press, August 15, 2008.

 

19 Radio Habana Cuba, “Former Chief of US Interests Section in Havana Wayne Smith Says Sending Money to Mercenaries in Cuba is Illegal”, May 21, 2008.

 

20 Wayne S. Smith, “New Cuba Commission Report: Formula for Continued Failure”, Center for International Policy, July 10, 2006. 

21 Amnesty International, Cuba: Five years too many, new government must release jailed dissidents, March 18, 2008. http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/cuba-five-years-too-many-new-government-must-release-jailed-dissidents-2 (website consulted April 23, 2008).  

22 Juan O. Tamayo, «¿Cuántos presos políticos hay en la isla?», El Nuevo Herald, July 22, 2010.

 

23 José Luis Fraga, «Alarcón: presos liberados pueden quedarse en Cuba y podrían ser más de 52», Agence France-Presse, July 20, 2010.

 

24 Paul Haven, “Number of Political Prisoners in Cuba Still Murky”, Associated Press, July 23, 2010.

 

25 Ibid.

 

26 EFE, “España pide a UE renovar relación con Cuba”, July 27, 2010.

 

27 Paul Haven, “Number of Political Prisoners in Cuba Still Murky”, op. cit.

 

 

Salim Lamrani is a university lecturer at the University Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV and the University Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée and a French journalist, specialist on the relationship between Cuba and the United States. Lamrani has just published Cuba. Ce que les médias ne vous diront jamais (Paris: éditions Estrella, 2009).  It is available in bookstores and on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.fr/Cuba-Medias-Vous-Diront-Jamais/dp/2953128417/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

For specific requests, contact him directly at:  [email protected] , [email protected]

Barack Obama and Afghanistan

September 2nd, 2010 by Marc Herold

When asked in Berlin by CNN’s Candy Crowley whether he believed the United States needed to apologize for anything over the past 7 ½ years in terms of foreign policy, candidate Obama responded, “No, I don’t believe in the U.S. apologizing. As I said I think the war in Iraq was a mistake…”

So what does our contemporary “charmer of change,” Barack Obama, propose regarding Afghanistan?

In mid-December 2006, a charter member of the U.S. defense intellectual establishment and enthusiast of precision bombing, Anthony Cordesman, fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, advanced a set of proposals which would allegedly allow the U.S. to win the war in Afghanistan. The essence involves: far greater amounts of military and economic “aid’; the economic aid must be managed from the outside; the aid should focus upon projects like roads, water and to a lesser degree, schools and medical services; NATO allies especially slackers like France, Germany, Italy and Spain need to increase aid to Afghanistan;  U.S. military forces are too small “to do the job” because of competing demands from Iraq and, hence, again those same NATO allies must provide larger, stronger and better-equipped forces to engage in combat (without political constraints); and as in Iraq, emphasis needs to be upon proper training of Afghan army and police forces. Cordesman wants the U.S. to furnish an additional $5.9 billion during the current fiscal year. In effect, Cordesman proposes nothing which has not long ago been suggested (even back in the days of Vietnam where the official clamor was for more “aid” and Vietnamizing the fighting).

Candidate Obama appears to have adopted wholesale what Cordesman was proposing about two year ago with one qualification: Obama recognizes that the U.S’s traditional European NATO allies will not provide large numbers of additional fighting forces, hence Obama proposes rotating three divisions or about 10,000 U.S. troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan.

If we examine candidate Obama’s most important prepared foreign policy speech to-date, that given on July 14, 2008, we find the elements of what as president he might do in Afghanistan.   He forthrightly casts his interest in Afghanistan purely in terms of “making America safer”:

I will focus this strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

In other words, Obama is committed to “finishing the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban,” translated as the fight against “Muslim extremism.”  Notwithstanding that this examplifies a worst case example of fallacious sunk-cost reasoning, George W. Bush and candidate McCain would not disagree.  He continues

Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq. That’s what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said earlier this month. And that’s why, as President, I will make the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win…. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, and more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights. …Make no mistake: we can’t succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people.

Resources need to be focused upon Afghanistan because it “is the war we have to win.”  In July 2008, the International Herald Tribune called it “the war of necessity against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.” Why? Candidate Obama points to Taliban controlling parts of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda possessing an “expanding base in Pakistan.” These are alleged to be spawning grounds of “another attack on our homeland.” George W. Bush and candidate McCain would concur in being in error.

Very solid reasons now exist why Al Qaeda is not interested in mounting Palestinian-style attacks in America. Any attack would have to be bigger than 9/11. As the ever-prescient Mike Scheuer writes,

Al-Qaeda does not want to fight the United States for any longer than is needed to drive it as far as possible out of the Middle East, and its doctrine for so doing has, in Osama bin Laden’s formulation, three components: (a) bleed America to bankruptcy; (b) spread out U.S. forces to the greatest extent possible; and (c) promote Vietnam-era-like domestic disunity. Based on this doctrine, al-Qaeda leaders have decided that attacks in the United States are only worthwhile if they have maximum and simultaneous impact in three areas: high and enduring economic costs, severe casualties, and lasting negative psychological impact.

In fact, all three of bin Laden’s components have been realized – casualties, costs, and domestic disunity – all without a follow-up to the 9/11 attack.

And how will this victory over radical Islam be accomplished? Obama’s recipe for success involves:

    • Sending 2-3 combat brigades (each of 3-5,000 troops) to Afghanistan;

    • Pressure NATO allies to follow suit;

    • More use of drones, aircraft, etc. ;

    • Training Afghan “security” forces;

    • Supporting an Afghan judiciary;

    • Proposing an additional $1 billion in non-military assistance each year with safeguards to see no corruption and resources flowing to areas other than Kabul;

    • Invest in alternative livelihoods to poppies;

    • Pressure Pakistan to carry the fight into its tribal areas and reward it for so doing with military and non-military aid;

    • Should Pakistan fail to act in the tribal areas, the United States under Obama would act unilaterally;

New? Change? President George W. Bush and candidate McCain have long signed on to exactly these policies.  Certainly both would also see Afghanistan primarily through the lens of “making America safer.” George Bush Sr. did just that during 1988-1990 when America was presumed safer once the Soviets were out of Afghanistan. Then, he cut and ran.

Candidate Obama adopts the Pentagon’s military solution – defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban – without paying much attention to either what gave rise to these groups or to the complexity of tribal society on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Even more importantly, he fails to acknowledge that the current bombing, night-time assaults upon villages, hooding and abducting suspects, kicking down doors and entering women’s quarters, etc. is forging an unlimited supply of recruits to the resistance. No, all we hear is “Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan…” The complete failure to improve life for those living in rural southern, eastern and northeastern Afghanistan alongside unbridled corruption, profligiate wealth and Afghanistan’s current culture of official impunity further stokes the resistance. All we hear is a vague promise of $1 billion more aid per year.

As Patrick Buchanan points out candidate Obama has absolutely no exit strategy from Afghanistan, other than a presumed military victory. He utterly fails to understand the axoim of the guerrilla strategy: the guerrilla wins if he fails to lose. For the guerrilla it’s not about winning pitched battles, it’s about continuing the fight. The Taliban and associates have no difficulty with that: fighters from the Pashtun borderlands and monies from trhe Gulf States (and eslewhere).

Moreover, Buchanan continues

And, using the old 10-to-one ratio of regular troops needed to defeat guerrillas, if the Taliban can recruit 1,000 new fighters, they can see Obama’s two-brigade bet, and raise him. Just as Uncle Ho raised LBJ again and again. What does President Obama do then? Send in 10,000 more?*

The aim of shifting 2-3 U.S. combat brigades to Afghanistan, greatly increasing the use of drones in order to unleash the fire power of Hellfire missiles or the “guided” bombs of B1-B’s, letting U.S. Special Forces and Navy Seals Teams loose to sow mayhem in the border regions on both sides of the Durand Line merely serves to continue the status-quo of death and destruction. Yet there are those like Ann Marlowe in the Wall Strert Journal who believe that the military solution in Afghanistan is to employ special forces to deal with the “bad guys” infiltrating from Pakistan. For her, “defeating the enemy is best accomplished by hiughly trained fighters who travel light.”  Does Ms. Marlowe who was thrice embedded with U.S. occupatyion forces in Afghanistan recall the Green Berets in Vietnam or the Soviet Spetsnaz  in Afghanistan?

For some four years, U.S. Special Forces had free reign in the Afghan province of Kunar. With what effct? Kunar today is one of Afghanistan’s most volatile provinces just as it was when the Soviets unleashed their elite Spetsnaz units there. Britain could not seal the border between the Irelands with 40,000 soldiers. The Soviets with 120,000 troops under a unified command structure and three times as many Afghan  satrap soldiers could not quell the mujahideen resistance. Candidate Obama advocates a policy of escalation simply in order not to lose. In doing such, he follows in the footsteps of Gordon Brown’s ambassador in Kabul who threatens “to stay for 30 years” in an endless campaign of despair from which withdrawal is perceived as politically impossible. Thirty years for what?  A campaign to prop up an embattled, corrupt, unpopular puppet regime in Kabul, a task for which Britain and its NATO allies are terribly undermanned? No, but rather as  Jenkins points out to keep NATO alive in Europe. NATO’s agitated chief, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, certainly appears as a man fighting for his job. He should be as most Europeans see the Afghan conflict as wrong, immoral, America’s war, all about oil, and probably lost. For them NATO was created to deter the Soviet Union, not to supply foot soldiers to America’s wars in the Muslim world.

Most alarmingly, candidate Obama and others before him (including George W. Bush) crudely conflate the Taliban with Al Qaeda when in fact, the two groups share very little and do not regard each other with high esteem.  The Taliban and Al Qaeda represent two very different entities. The former comprise an ethno-national phenomenon rooted in space, appealing then and now to a loosely aligned movement, largely of Pashtun Afghans. The Taliban have profound roots in parts of Afghanistan. They form only part of the disparate resistance to the U.S/NATO occupation (other parts being nationalists, those seeking revenge for injury to family, those involved in poppy cultivation who perceive the West as threatening their livelihoods, those frustrated with Karzai’s and the West’s failed promises, unemployed men, etc.). Al Qaeda, on the other hand, is a de-territorialized, stateless organization formed to wage violent jihad anywhere in the world against those deemed to be Islam’s enemies. From a group spatially located in Afghanistan during the Taliban era, Al Qaeda has transformed itself into a decentralized, floating coalition of militant groups united in jihad. But for candidate Obama a simple undefined enemy exists: a unified Al Qaeda and Taliban who will be crushed by a few more brigades of occupation soldiers, Global Hawks in the skies and a billion dollars annually. Obama’s informal adviser, Afghan scholar Barnett Rubin, has long been arguing that “the problem really is in neighboring Pakistan, where Taliban and Al Qaeda commanders lurk.”

Encouraging cross border air and ground attacks raises the ire of the fiercely independent Pashtun tribals in the borderlands and further isolates a weak, post-Musharef regime in Islamabad bent on its own independent course of action. Moreover, Pakistan has lost thousands of its troops in fighting in the tribal lands under Musharef. The recent killing of 11 Pakistani frontier soldiers by U.S. Hellfire misslies promises to be a harbinger of the future. The elected political leaders of Pakistan’s borderlands virulently oppose Obama’s unilaterialism, e.g., the wily governor of the North-West Province, Owais Ghani, spoke out forecefully against Obama’s hinting at U.S. incursions.

Pahstun nationalism is far cry from Al Qaeda’s world jihad. Indeed, a quite convincing case can be made that the best antidote to a resurgent Al Qaeda would be support for the Taliban. But such fine-tuning escapes candidate Obama and his entourage of former Clinton foreign policy advisers (e.g., Susan Rice, Anthony Lake, etc.) and of others adocating “nation-building.” Change? George W. Bush, John McCain and Barack Obama are united in advocating policies which cement an alliance between Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They all priviledge a military approach over a civilian one of negotiating.

On the “winnig hearts and minds” dimension, candiate Obama promises an extra $ 1 million annually to be spent mostly outside Kabul. The record of U.S. monies budgeted for Afghanistan is clear:

Table.  United States’ Budgeted Outlays for “Operation Enduring Freedom” by Fiscal Year (in $ billions)

 

Total

DOD & VA Medical

Foreign aid

Aid/Total

FY 2001-2

$ 20.8

20.0

0.8

3.8%

FY 2003

14.7

14.0

0.7

4.8%

FY 2004

14.5

12.4

2.2

15.1%

FY 2005

20.8

18.0

2.8

13.5%

FY 2006

19.0

17.9

1.1

5.8%

FY 2007

36.9

35.0

1.9

5.1%

FY 2008

36.5

34.5

2.0

5.5%

Sources: Wheeler (2007), op. cit. and Amy Belasco, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11 (Washington DC: Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, updated June 23, 2008): 18-19

But how will such U.S funds be brought to a countryside largely controlled by a hostile resistance? Many parts of Afghanistan most desirous of improving everyday living are simply off-limits to non-governmental organizations, let alone the U.S. Government. The US/NATO strategy of relying upon an ink blot of “aid” radiating out from 2-3 dozen heavily fortified PRT bases and scores of U.S. forward operating bases is at best very limited. So in order to “secure” the countryside which will then be lavished with candidate Obama’s annual largesse of an extra billion dollars, the US/NATO needs to either bomb or take ground casualties, expel the resistance, and especially hold territory. Building another well or a school has little meaning in the Pashtun code of honor (Pashtunwali), but the killing of a family member demands revenge be taken against the perpetrator. Simon Jenkins has stressed that American, Canadian, British, Dutch and even Estonian troops (those brave “new Europeans” forming part of the “coalition” of the bribed )  simply snatch and hold towns for a while but are unable to command local loyalty. “They cannot hope to garrison every settlement.” Musa Qala retaken by the British with much fanfare is a typical case, a success which is a failure.

In other words, candidate Obama promises nothing other than what already is: more prolonged low-intensity conflict with endless death and destruction. If the U.S. military escalation of the past two years is any indication, a further escalation as he proposes will simply lead to more dead Afghan civilians, a countryiside and towns racked with the deadly explosions of IED’s and suicide bombers followed by the destruction unleashed by equally deadly close air support (CAS) strikes. A strong correlation exists during 2004-2007 between levels of U.S occupation soldiers in Afghanistan, tonnage of bombs dropped and numbers of dead and injured Afghans. Will the monetary value of dead Afghan remain about one-tenth that of an Alaskan sea otter? Will yet more CAS air strikes continue killing ten times more Afghan civilians per ton dropped than the numbers killed in Serbia in 1999? Why should an Obama future be different?

The candidate of change in Afghanistan? History has clearly shown it’s easy to invade and conquer Afghanistan but it’s terribly difficult to govern and exit honorably. Obama is no Mikhail Gorbachev who took Russia out of the Afghan fiasco when he realized what many Russian leaders had been too scared to admit in public – that Russia could not win the war and the cost of maintaining such a vast force in Afghanistan was crippling Russia’s already weak economy. The cost of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was $171 billion in FY2007 and an estimated $195 billion in FY2008.

Candidate Obama, his Clinton era advisers, and sadly all too many others fail to recognize a web of inter-connected, persistent constraints, or of given realties. One might label them as the “five cannots”:  US/NATO cannot send 400,000 combat troops to garrison Afghanistan’s towns, hamlets and countryside (which is a pre-condition for reconstruction to win hearts and minds ); the US/NATO cannot impose a powerful central government upon Afghanistan ; the US/NATO cannot neutralize the very effective least-cost weapons of choice of the Afghan resistance (IED’s and suicide bombers);  the US/NATO cannot seal the Afghan-Pakistan border and hence will not eliminate the vital sanctuary so necessary to a guerrilla movement); and lastly, the Pakistan government has never been able to dominate its vast tribal borderlands and there is no reason to believe such will change. Those who choose not to understand these “five cannots” advocate change in a vacuum. A military impasse begets a political solution.

The perceived poison of a foreign occupation, the rampant corruption, the all-too-frequent desecration of Islam by the occupiers, the sheer folly of the US/NATO seeking to extend the writ of a central government to the Pashtun tribal regions , the spiraling count of civilian deaths has shifted the Afghan struggle towards a war of national liberation.  Anatol Lieven of King’s College (London) puts it aptly. Afghanistan is

Becoming a sort of surreal hunting estate, in which the U.S. and NATO breed the very terrorists they then track down.

Candidates Obama and McCain promise more of the same carnage packaged as change.

Marc Herold is an Associate Professor of Economic Development & Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire. He can be reached at:
[email protected]

Notes.

Robert Scheer, “Obama on the Brink,” Truthdig.com (July 22, 2008) at http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080722_obama_on_the_brink/

“Transcript of Interview on CNN” (July 25, 2008) at http://thepage.time.com/transcript-of-obama-interview-on-cnn/

Anthony H. Cordesman, “One War We Can Still Win,” International Herald Tribune (December 13, 2006) at http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/13/opinion/edcord.php

speech is reproduced on The Huffington Post (July 29, 2008) at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/15/obama-spokeswoman-hits-ba_n_112834.html

“Talking Sense on the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” International Herald Tribune (July 17, 2008) at http://www.iht.com/bin/printfriendly.php?id=14574298

Mike Scheuer, “Why Doesn’t al-Qaeda Attack the US?” Antiwar.com (May 29, 2008) at http://www.antiwar.com/scheuer/?articleid=12911

as pointed out by Tom Hayden, “Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan,” The Nation (July 15, 2008) at

Explored in Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason, “No Sign until the Burst of Fire. Understanding the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier,” International Security 32, 4 (Spring 2008): 41-77

Patrick Buchanan, “Obama’s War,” Antiwar.com (July 29, 2008) at http://antiwar.com/pat/

Ann Marlowe, “Afghanistan Doesn’t Need a Surge,” Wall Street Journal (July 22, 2008) at
http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB121668659664272147.html 

Hayden (2008), op. cit.

Simon Jenkins, “A Bad Attack of Beau Geste Syndrome at Our Expense,” The Guardian (July 5, 2006) at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/jul/05/comment.afghanistan

Eric Margolis, “Why Europeans are not Eager to Die in Afghanistan,” LewRockwell.com (February 13, 2008) at
http://www.lewrockwell.com/margolis/margolis100.html

well argued in Mark Levine, “Obama and the Taliban,” Huffington Post (July 25, 2008) at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-levine/obama-and-the-taliban_b_114900.html

James Gordon Meek, “Afghanistan Experts Say John McCain and Barack Obama are Clueless,” New York Daily News (July 19, 2008)

Simon Jenkins, “Stop Killing the Talkiban – They Offer the Best Hope of Beating Al Qaeda,” The Times (June 22, 2008) at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/simon_jenkins/article4187504.ece

as argued in Juan Cole, “Obama is Saying the Wrong Things About Afghanistan,” Salon.org (July 23, 2008) at 
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/07/23/obama/

an excellent discussion of Pashtunwali may be found in Hamida Ghafour, “Why NATO Misreads the Afghan Rulebook,” Globe and Mail (May 5, 2007)

Paul Gilfeather, “Coalition of the Bribed, Bullied & Blind,” The Mirror (March 22, 2003) at
http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views03/0323-07.htm

Jenkins, op. cit.

Sean Rayment, “In Afghanistan even our Successes are Failures,” The Telegraph (August 3, 2008) at
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/08/03/do0306.xml

Belasco (2008), op. cit.: 18

Occupation forces Commander McNeill has said himself that according to the current counterterrorism doctrine, it would take 400,000 troops to pacify Afghanistan in the long term (from Ulrich Fichtner, “Why NATO Troops Can’t Deliver Peace in Afghanistan,” Der Spiegel (May 29, 2008) at
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,druck-556304,00.html

The umbrella organization ACBAR (Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief) reported 463 insurgent attacks during May and 569 in June 2008. Nineteen aid workers have been killed this year. The result has been greatly scaled back aid and relief efforts (“Record Afghan Unrest Hampering Aid NGOs,” Agence France Presse (August 1, 2008) at http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5h9LKPSwMVEzC25r7wQ4-XuOkz4sw ). 

see Johnson and Mason (2008), op. cit

As Gerard Chaliand, veteran geo-strategist of so-called asymmetrical wars, put it recently, “victory is impossible in Afghanistan…Today one must try to negotiate,” because the Taliban control much of the local power in the south and east of the country (Immanuel Wallerstein, “Afghanistan: Shoals Ahead for President Obama,” Middle East Online (August 1, 2008)).

Johnson and Mason (2008), op.cit: 54

Anatol Lieven, “The Dream of Afghan Democracy is Dead,” The Financial Times (June 11, 2008) at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f25de8f4-37b1-11dd-aabb-0000779fd2ac.html

Recent weeks have seen a collapse in US home sales, a weakening of manufacturing activity, an upward trend in jobless benefit claims and, on Friday, a downward revision of second-quarter gross domestic product growth from 2.4 percent to 1.6 percent.

The latter figure is far below the rate of economic expansion needed to bring down unemployment, now at its highest levels since the Great Depression. On the contrary, the sharp slowdown in economic growth heralds a further rise in the jobless rate.

Month after month of mass unemployment, compounded by sweeping cuts in social services at the state and local level and wage cutting in both the private and public sectors, have already produced a social disaster for tens of millions of Americans. One million families are losing their homes to foreclosure every year. Hunger and homelessness are on the rise.

USA Today reported Monday that the recession has resulted in one in six Americans relying on government assistance to survive. Over 50 million people are on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. That is an increase of at least 17 percent since the recession began in December 2007.

Over 40 million are receiving food stamps, an increase of nearly 50 percent since the slump began. Close to 10 million are getting unemployment benefits, nearly four times the number in 2007. More than 4.4 million people are on welfare, an 18 percent jump since the recession began.

While the vast majority of workers are struggling to make ends meet or are sinking into poverty, the rich are doing better than ever. Corporate profits are up sharply, driven by downsizing and cost cutting. The stock market has recovered from its lows in the spring of 2009, and executives are continuing to award themselves seven- and eight-digit compensation packages.

Two years after the eruption of the financial crisis, precipitated by the recklessness and criminality of Wall Street, the chasm separating the financial elite and everyone else has grown wider than ever. The New York Times reported Tuesday that the rebound on Wall Street has led to a further polarization between rich and poor in New York City. While the median pay of managerial workers was up 11 percent from three years ago, the median weekly pay of non-managers had fallen 10.4 percent, to $472.

The latter figure is barely above the official poverty line for a family of four of $22,000 a year, an absurdly low plateau that, in New York, means something close to destitution.

The response of the Obama administration and the entire political establishment to the collapse of the so-called “recovery” is to reject out of hand any significant spending to generate jobs.

Speaking from the White House Rose Garden on Monday, Obama sought to lay the blame on the Republicans for holding up his $30 billion small business bill—a token measure consisting mainly of tax cuts and other incentives for small and large businesses and so-called “community” banks. Beyond that, he spoke vaguely about more tax cuts for business and incentives for renewable energy projects, adding that there is no “silver bullet” to revive the economy.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs acknowledged there would be no major initiatives, saying, “There’s only so much that can be done.” He went on to reassure big business that there would be no use of public funds to hire unemployed workers, saying the administration’s “targeted initiatives” would aim to “create an environment where the private sector is not simply investing but also hiring.”

In an op-ed piece on Sunday, the New York Times wrote: “[I]n the political realm a rare consensus has emerged: The future is now so colored in red ink that running up the debt seems politically risky in the months before the congressional elections, even in the name of creating jobs and generating economic growth. The result is that Democrats and Republicans have foresworn virtually any course that involves spending serious money.”

Just one year ago, Obama was emphatic in declaring that he would do “whatever it takes” to bail out the banks. He did precisely that, allocating trillions in taxpayer dollars to cover Wall Street’s gambling debts. At the same time, he opposed any measures to restrict CEO pay or hold the corporate criminals responsible for the catastrophe they had created.

He then intervened to force General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy and impose a 50 percent pay cut on newly hired workers. That was the signal for a wave of corporate and government wage cutting that is intensifying.

Now there is supposedly “no money” for jobs—or schools, or housing, or relief for the unemployed. This at a time when US banks and corporations are sitting on a cash hoard of more than $1 trillion.

The media universally asserts that the administration and congressional Democrats are constrained from pursuing any serious stimulus measures by public demands for austerity in advance of the November elections. This is a fraud.

Far from there being a popular groundswell for austerity, the opposite is the case, as indicated by a Gallop poll taken in June which found that 60 percent favored more government stimulus to create jobs, and a poll this month showing that 85 percent opposed to cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit.

There is no contradiction between Obama’s $862 billion stimulus package of 2009 and his administration’s overt shift to austerity today. Both represent the implementation of the ruthless class policy of the American financial-corporate elite.

Last February’s stimulus bill—consisting largely of tax cuts and other incentives for business—was a carefully calibrated measure designed to prevent a collapse in consumer spending, avert a social explosion by creating the impression that the government was doing something for “Main Street,” buy time to carry through the bank bailout and create conditions for a revival of corporate profits and the stock market.

These goals having been largely achieved, at least for the present, the ruling class is intent on keeping unemployment high and using mass joblessness to permanently drive down the wages and conditions of the American working class to those that existed in the 1930s, and to narrow the labor cost differential between American workers and super-exploited workers in China and other “emerging economies.”

That, in a nutshell, is the policy of the Obama administration and, whatever their tactical differences, both big business parties. They have relied on the trade unions to suppress the mounting anger and opposition in the working class and block any mass resistance. The unions completely support the class-war policy of the ruling class, as demonstrated in the announcement by the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union last week that they were teaming up to raise $80 million for the Democrats in the midterm elections.

The unions will not be able to prevent the eruption of mass social struggles. Already the first signs of coming upheavals are emerging, showing that workers will move into action in opposition to the corporatist union apparatuses. That is the significance of last month’s rejection by auto workers at General Motors’ Indianapolis stamping plant of the United Auto Workers’ attempt to impose a 50 percent wage cut.

The Socialist Equality Party calls on workers to break with the unions and establish democratic rank-and-file action committees to organize factory occupations and strikes against layoffs and plant closures and mobilize the support of the entire working class. This industrial action must be combined with a political struggle against Obama and both parties of big business, based on a socialist program to break the stranglehold of the financial aristocracy.

We call for an emergency public works program to provide every unemployed worker with a decent-paying job. Millions should be hired to build schools, affordable housing and hospitals and rebuild the public infrastructure. The resources for such a program can and should be obtained by confiscating the wealth of the capitalist class—beginning with the bankers, hedge fund owners and corporate CEOs—and reorganizing economic life to serve the needs of the people, not private profit.

Labor Day: Building a Better World

September 2nd, 2010 by Sherwood Ross

If you’re seeking an exciting career that’s really fraught with risk and danger and that makes the world a better place, forget about joining the Army: become a labor organizer!

You’ll be called upon to risk your job and your life and to face unjust jail terms for organizing on behalf of your fellow man and woman, with no way to fight back against thugs with guns, tear gas,and billy clubs except by using your wits.

Let’s compare the careers of Army officers and labor organizers to see which actually comes closer to fulfilling that wonderful slogan of the Army’s:”Be all you can be.”

Advertising in the August 26th issue of “The Miami Hurricane,” the student newspaper of the University of Miami, a typical Army ad seeks to enroll students in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) with glib generalities such as “Start Taking Charge,” “Start Leading” and “Start Getting Ahead of the Game.” The ad promises ROTC leads to an Army Officer’s commission after graduation and “With a start like that, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.”

What the ad doesn’t say is that if you’re new to the Army you won’t be taking charge of much of anything. You’ll be taking orders, not giving them. You won’t be leading, either; you’ll be following. And what exactly does “Getting ahead of the game” mean? Once enrolled, will you be playing games? Is that what’s going on in Afghanistan?

Whereas a union organizer can quit any time for any reason, once you’ve enlisted you’re stuck for years and could face jail if you don’t want to serve.

What’s more, the Army fights at the whim of the White House and Congress—and they’ve given the Pentagon authority to gad about the globe forging ties with tyrants and making illegal invasions that disgrace USA in the eyes of the world, if not in the eyes of Army recruiters.

Keep in mind, too, the Army recruitment pitch is all about you. By contrast, a union organizer works to serve others. A recent help wanted ad posted on the Internet by the Service Employees International Union Local 105 of Denver, Colo., which includes many health care workers, called for an organizer who will “Train leaders to educate and agitate other workers about their job rights and other social issues, and motivate them into action.” The ad says the organizer must have “A demonstrated commitment to social and economic justice.” Army recruitment ads say nothing of the kind, of course. They stress “strength.”

Asked about her job satisfactions as a former representative for state employee members of Local 1039 of the Communications Workers of America in Trenton, N.J., Dolores Curry, of Sacramento, Calif., said, “Often, I was able to get (workers’) a benefit that was denied them such as sick leave. The union gives workers a voice and gives them a sense of dignity where before it was hopeless for them to redress their grievances.”

If you work in American-occupied Iraq, for example, you’ll need lots of dedication. The ministry in charge of electricity just barged into all the offices of the electrical union, turned out the lights, and shut them down. Nations like Colombia and Guatemala, with close ties to the U.S., have the worst records of all on workers’ rights. Of course, it may all be just coincidence that wherever USA goes, trade unions suffer. Those attempting to suppress the union movement have lost sight of the fact that paying workers more is what energizesan economy, leading to a broader prosperity and, in the long term, to higher profits for owners as well.

In Colombia, where hunting season on trade unionists is open all year, Reuters quoted an International Labor Organization(ILO) official who said 96 per cent of the cases of violence against unionists there go unpunished. “In 2009 Colombia remains the most dangerous place on the face of this planet for workers,” the wire service quoted Stanley Gacek, an American on an ILO committee concerned with such matters.

“The climate of fear fed by killings, abductions and other violence meant only 4 percent of Colombia’s 18 million workers are union members, and only 1.2 percent have been able to negotiate their working conditions, according to Tarsicio Mora Godoy, president of the Colombia United Workers Federation CUT,” Reuters said.

Globally, only one of 10 workers are unionized, so that of 2.8-billion employed, half are wage-slaves toiling for less than $2 a day. With some few notable exceptions—South Africa, Spain, and Chile—union membership is in decline in most countries, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Israel, the ILO finds.

The choice is clear: without unions,the vast mass of workers will subsist as robots in a world of wage-slavery, of “haves” and “have nots,” rather than having chance at making a decent living. Two of America’s greatest figures understood the value of the working class. Abraham Lincoln once observed that “Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration” and, of course, Martin Luther King was assassinated when he was in Memphis trying to help the sanitation workers.

This Labor Day, the choice is yours. Why not “be all you can be” by building a better world, not destroying it? Have you got what it takes to be a union organizer? # (Disclosure: the author in the past has worked as a public relations consultant to labor unions. Reach him at [email protected]

In slightly over a month, on October 7, the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan will enter its tenth year.

The conflict represents the longest continuous combat operations in the history of the United States and Afghanistan alike. With the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for the only time in its existence activating its Article 5 mutual military assistance clause in September 2001 and thus entering the Afghan fray, European nations that had not been at war since the Second World War are now engaged in an endless combat mission.

There are 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, 120,000 of them under the command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Military personnel from over a quarter of the 192 members of the United Nations.

They include soldiers from almost every European country, several Asia-Pacific states, and nations in the Americas and the Middle East.

NATO has grown from 19 to 28 members since it took control of ISAF in 2003 and has expanded military partnerships with several nations that have deployed troops to Afghanistan, from Australia to Georgia, Montenegro to South Korea, Armenia to the United Arab Emirates.

In the same interim the North Atlantic military bloc has assumed the role of an international, expeditionary, increasingly more multifaceted and politicized armed intervention force, a status that will be formalized this November at its summit in Portugal when its first 21st century Strategic Concept is adopted.

In the middle of August the death count for U.S. and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan passed the 2,000 mark and has grown almost every day since – 2051 by August 31 – with American fatalities accounting for some 60 percent of the total. The U.S. suffered 19 combat deaths in the four days beginning on August 28.

Troops from at least 26 nations serving under NATO’s ISAF have been killed in Afghanistan, a record number of countries to sacrifice soldiers in one nation. 521 foreign troops lost their lives in the Afghan war theater last year, a dramatic increase from the preceding year when 295 were killed. So far this year the number is 478, with 2010 poised to be the deadliest year in the nine-year war for U.S. and NATO forces.

The amount of foreign soldiers killed is matched if not exceeded by the number of Afghan civilians slain by NATO.

On August 15 a NATO vehicle hit a motorcycle in southern Afghanistan, killing five civilians including a woman and her three children.

Two days later NATO troops killed a father and son in a raid in Nangarhar province, triggering a protest that blocked the highway from the capital of the province, Jalalabad, to the capital of the country, Kabul.

On August 21 as many as 1,000 Afghans took to the streets in Baghlan province after NATO raided a house in the Baghlan-i-Jadid district, killing one civilian and abducting two others. “Chanting anti-government and anti-NATO slogans, the protesters warned [they would] hold demonstrations in the future if the killing of civilians is not investigated.” [1]

Two days later officials and residents of the same province accused NATO of killing eight civilians during an early morning raid.

On August 25 an Afghan identified as a police trainee and two Spanish soldiers were killed in a shoot-out at a NATO base in Badghis province. Afterwards thousands of Afghans attempted to storm the base in response to what they viewed as the slaying of an Afghan soldier by NATO troops. Four Spanish soldiers were hurt in the melee. One account of the incident reported that NATO forces opened fire on demonstrators, “killing dozens of people and wounding more than 20 other civilians.” [2]

Two days later NATO aircraft bombed a remote part of Kunar province, and according to provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee, “In the bombardment six children, aged six to 12, were killed. Another child was injured.” [3]

The time when NATO could pretend that the International Security Assistance Force was a peacekeeping and reconstruction initiative is long over, the pretext drowned in the blood of Afghan civilians.

Earlier this month the German Bundeswehr announced that it was dropping all charges against Colonel Georg Klein, who ordered a NATO air strike in Kunduz province last September that killed 142 people, by Afghan accounts all civilians. [4] “Investigators found no evidence that Klein had broken any rules.” [5]

On August 29 Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg paid an unannounced visit to “a combat zone in Afghanistan” – in Kunduz province – “the first time a senior German politician has met German troops who are facing off day to day against the Taliban.” [6]

15 kilometers from the rapid reaction force base he inspected, four German soldiers were killed in a firefight this April. Guttenberg participated in “ceremonies paying tribute to German soldiers who had been killed.” [7]

German ground combat operations in the province are the nation’s first since the defeat of the Nazi regime in 1945.

Berlin has abandoned post-war limits on the number of troops that can be deployed abroad – moreover to a war zone – and has as many as 4,600 in Afghanistan. 47 Bundeswehr troops have died serving NATO in the country.

On August 23 France lost two troops, a marine officer and soldier, in a firefight 55 kilometers north of the Afghan capital, bringing France’s death toll to 47 also. Paris supplies 3,750 troops to NATO’s ISAF.

Two days afterward President Nicolas Sarkozy, who reintegrated France into NATO’s military command structure last year, stated “France will remain engaged in Afghanistan, with its allies, for as long as necessary….” [8] 

On August 21 Britain lost a solider in Helmand province, its 332nd death, the second largest number after that of the U.S. 

The Afghan war is also providing the 12 Eastern European countries brought into NATO in the past 11 years as well as new partners in the Asia-Pacific region their first combat in decades. Along with operations in Iraq starting in 2003, new NATO members are involved in warfighting for the first time since War World II and NATO Contact Countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Korea for the first time since the Vietnam War.

A Polish convoy in Ghazni province came under mortar attack on August 24 and the following day two Polish soldiers were wounded in shelling outside the Four Corners base in the same province.

As Poland’s armed forces were fighting their first war since 1939, the U.S. Air Force deployed airmen and planes from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Poland’s 33rd Air Base near Powidz for seven days of joint training. Operation Screaming Eagle included paratroop and night flying training.

“The training also allowed a chance for members of the Polish air force to receive incentive flights on a C-130J Super Hercules….Polish airmen received the first of five refurbished C-130E Hercules military transport planes in early 2009″ [9] from the U.S. for use in Afghanistan and other NATO military missions overseas.

Earlier this year Britain conducted its latest Exercise Flying Rhino war games in the Czech Republic. “The British Army’s largest land-air military exercise” occurred in that country where “Forward Air Controllers [prepared] to coordinate aircraft flying over Afghanistan at 1,000mph (1,600km/h) in an airspace littered with 45kg rounds being fired from the ground.”

“The fast-paced European deployment saw more than 2,000 UK troops linking up with military personnel from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania, Slovakia and the United States in an operational environment….[A] unified effort was imperative to the logistics of the exercise with 32 aircraft, 600 vehicles and thousands of servicemen and women being moved into the training area.” [10]

In the middle of August the Czech military disclosed it would deploy its first four Pandur armored personnel carriers to Afghanistan. A spokesman for the nation’s General Staff said “The Pandurs were specially modified for tens of millions of crowns to serve in allied operations” and, in addition, “14 Iveco light armoured vehicles will be sent to Afghanistan,” where a Czech unit has already been using 15 of them. [11]

Despite talk of a drawdown of NATO military forces in Afghanistan, new member states in Eastern Europe are being tasked to increase the deployment of troops and ordnance to the war front.

NATO’s war in Afghanistan is being used not only to integrate the armed forces of over 50 nations into a U.S.-controlled globally deployable military force, but also to expand the Pentagon’s reach into Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, ever closer to the borders of Russia, Iran and China.

Since 2005 the U.S. has acquired seven new military bases in Romania and Bulgaria, including strategic air bases, and launched the world’s first multinational strategic airlift operation at the Papa Air Base in Hungary.

In June the U.S. led 100 personnel from five NATO nations in the first paratroop exercise under the auspices of the Heavy Airlift Wing at the Hungarian base. An American sergeant present at the drills said, “It’s…beneficial for the other countries participating if they were to deploy to Afghanistan, because from the training, they would understand how the U.S. military works.” [12]

Activated in the summer of 2009, last October the Heavy Airlift Wing flew one of its U.S. C-17 Globemaster IIIs into the Afghan capital with military representatives of 42 countries, all 28 NATO members and 14 other troop contributors.

By this April the operation had “moved 2.1 million pounds of equipment essential to surge operations supporting the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

“The international wing has been part of the operation to move more than 6
million pounds of basic expeditionary airfield resources, or BEAR materiel, to build six forward operating bases….” [13]

On August 23 a Hungarian convoy in northern Afghanistan was hit by a roadside bomb and then fired on from several directions. One Hungarian soldier was killed and three wounded in the attack. One of the injured troops later died, Hungary’s first female combat fatality in Afghanistan and undoubtedly ever.

Last week the former Soviet republic of Estonia, with a population of only 1,300,000, announced its largest-ever military vehicle deal, purchasing 80 armored personnel carriers from the Netherlands.

A spokesman from the country’s Defense Ministry stated, “The deal doubles the number of armored vehicles in the Estonian defense forces and is the biggest armored vehicle deal ever made (by Estonia)” The transaction followed by five months the biggest arms purchase in the nation’s history with the “delivery of a short-range surface-to-air missile system from European defense giant MBDA and Sweden’s Saab costing one billion kroons.” (Kroon = 0.0814 U.S. dollars.)

“Estonia joined NATO in 2004 and has been upgrading its defense equipment to meet the standards of the 28-nation trans-Atlantic alliance….” [14]

On August 30 the country lost its eighth soldier in Afghanistan.

Again to demonstrate that NATO has no plans to leave South Asia in the imminent future, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan announced on August 28 that fellow Baltic state Lithuania will deploy military personnel to train the Afghan National Army, partnering with Ukraine, not an official ISAF troop contributor. The former Soviet states signed a two-year commitment to begin in 2011.
   
A Los Angeles Times feature of August 19 entitled “Romania shows its support for the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan” stated “the U.S. military and political leadership has put a priority on strengthening ties with Romania,” which has turned four military bases over to the Pentagon and NATO in recent years and this February announced it would host American land-based Standard Missile-3 anti-ballistic missiles.

While the Netherlands became the first NATO member state to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, since last year Romania has increased its contributions to NATO’s Afghan war effort from 962 to over 1,500 troops, “even as Romania’s economy is suffering and defense spending is being cut.”

“To the Romanians, participation in the Afghan mission is a good way to demonstrate their bona fides as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and as an ally of the United States….” [15]

Earlier this month NATO awarded Romanian troops medals for their role in the Alliance’s first ground war. “The event started with a moment of silence in memory of Romanian, US and Afghan troops killed in Afghanistan.” [16]

Neighboring Bulgaria, where the U.S. has acquired three new bases including the Bezmer Air Base, sent 200 army rangers to Afghanistan in the same week. At the beginning of August Defense Minister Anyu Angelov “announced that Bulgaria was going to change the functions of the Bulgarian troops in Afghanistan, and that instead of guard units, it was going to send a 700-strong combat regiment by the end of 2012.” [17]
 
Montenegro, the world’s youngest nation (and newest member of the United Nations) with a population of only 670,000, lately deployed its second contingent of troops to Afghanistan. The diminutive Adriatic state became independent in 2006 and joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program the same year. The next year NATO signed a pact with Montenegro permitting the bloc’s troops to cross the country, and in 2008 granted it an advanced Individual Partnership Action Plan. Last year NATO followed up with a Membership Action Plan, the final step to full membership.

This year Montenegro became the 44th Troop Contributing Nation for NATO’s Afghan mission, preceded by Armenia – the first member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization to be assigned that role – and followed by Mongolia, South Korea and Malaysia, to indicate NATO’s expanded reach into Asia.

On August 24 Australia – a NATO Contact Country partner along with Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – lost its 41st soldier in Afghanistan. With 1,550 troops in the country, Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor.

On the same day Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, announced that Australian troops will stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014: “We will still be there…beyond the two to four years [scheduled for training Afghan army units], for a period of time.” [18]

Last week Singapore deployed a 52-troop Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Task Group to southern Afghanistan, which “will operate out of Multinational Base Tarin Kowt to augment the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF’s) surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in Uruzgan….” [19]

NATO’s role in Asia is not limited to 120,000 troops in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is steadily deepening military partnerships with an expanding array of Asia-Pacific nations.

It is also consolidating its grip on the three former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, all of which have troops serving under the Alliance in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Transport of Caspian Sea nation Azerbaijan announced earlier this month that “NATO is expected to increase shipping to Afghanistan via Georgia and Azerbaijan,” in particular that “A part of the equipment [of] the troops withdrawn from Iraq…will be sent to Afghanistan via Turkey, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan.” An Azerbaijani government official estimated that “NATO countries transport 1,500 containers to Afghanistan via Azerbaijan every month.” [20]

In October NATO will conduct a regional training course on border security in Azerbaijan for Central Asian and other countries. According to a news source in Azerbaijan, currently “training is carried out with the involvement of Iraqi and Afghan border guards…at the State Border Service’s base.” [21]

The war in Afghanistan provides long-range integrated combat training for global NATO and a foundation for the U.S. to build a far-reaching military network unprecedented in scope.

Related articles:

Military Watershed: Longest War In U.S. And Afghan History
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/military-watershed-longest-war-in-u-s-and-afghan-history

NATO In Afghanistan: World War In One Country
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/nato-in-afghanistan-world-war-in-one-country

War In Afghanistan Evokes Second World War Parallels
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/war-in-afghanistan-evokes-second-world-war-parallels

Afghanistan: NATO Intensifies Its First Asian War
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/afghanistan-nato-intensifies-its-first-asian-war

West’s Afghan War: From Conquest To Bloodbath
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/wests-afghan-war-from-conquest-to-bloodbath

Afghanistan: World’s Lengthiest War Has Just Begun
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/afghanistan-worlds-lengthiest-war-has-just-begun

U.S., NATO War In Afghanistan: Antecedents And Precedents
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/u-s-nato-war-in-afghanistan-antecedents-and-precedents

Notes

1) Xinhua News Agency, August 21, 2010
2) Press TV, August 26, 2010
3) Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2010
4) Following Afghan Election, NATO Intensifies Deployments, Carnage
   Stop NATO, September 6, 2009
   http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/following-afghan-election-nato-intensifies-deployments-carnage
5) Deutsche Welle, August 19, 2010]
6) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, August 29, 2010
7) Ibid
8) Agence France-Presse, August 25, 2010
9) U.S. Air Force, August 25, 2010
10) Defence Professionals, August 24, 2010
11) Czech News Agency, August 19, 2010
12) United States Air Forces in Europe, June 17, 2010
13) United States European Command
    United States Air Forces in Europe
    April 2, 2010
14) Agence France-Presse, August 26, 2010
15) Los Angeles Times, August 19, 2010
16) The Financiarul, August 17, 2010
17) Sofia News Agency, August 18, 2010
18) Xinhua News Agency, August 26, 2010
19) Straits Times, August 27, 2010
20) Azeri Press Agency, August 20, 2010
    Pentagon Chief In Azerbaijan: Afghan War Arc Stretches To Caspian And
    Caucasus
    Stop NATO, June 8, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/1761
21) Azeri Press Agency, August 18, 2010

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