Wall Street’s War Against Main Street America

February 17th, 2010 by Michael Hudson

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, (Feb. 16)[1] outlining how to put the U.S. economy on rations. Not in those words, of course. Just the opposite: If the government hadn’t bailed out Wall Street’s bad loans, he claims, “unemployment could have exceeded the 25 percent level of the Great Depression.” Without wealth at the top, there would be nothing to trickle down.

The reality, of course, is that bailing out casino capitalist speculators on the winning side of A.I.G.’s debt swaps and CDO derivatives didn’t save a single job. It certainly hasn’t lowered the economy’s debt overhead. But matters will soon improve, if Congress will dispel the present cloud of “uncertainty” as to whether any agency less friendly than the Federal Reserve might regulate the banks.

Mr. Paulson spelled out in step-by-step detail the strategy of “doing God’s work,” as his Goldman Sachs colleague Larry Blankfein sanctimoniously explained Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Now that pro-financial free-market doctrine is achieving the status of religion, I wonder whether this proposal violates the separation of church and state. Neoliberal economics may be a travesty of religion, but it is the closest thing to a Church that Americans have these days, replete with its Inquisition operating out of the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Columbia.

If the salvation is to give Wall Street a free hand, anathema is the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency intended to deter predatory behavior by mortgage lenders and credit-card issuers. The same day that Mr. Paulson’s op-ed appeared, the Financial Times published a report explaining that “Republicans say they are unconvinced that any regulator can even define systemic risk. … the whole concept is too vague for an immediate introduction of sweeping powers. …” Republican Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee was willing to join with the Democrats “to ensure ‘there is not some new roaming regulator out there … putting companies unbeknownst to them under its regime.’”[2]

Mr. Paulson uses the same argument: Because the instability extends not just to the banks but also to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, A.I.G. and Wall Street underwriters, it would be folly to try to regulate the banks alone! And because the financial sector is so far-flung and complex, it is best to leave everything deregulated. Indeed, there simply is no time to discuss what kind of regulation is appropriate, except for the Fed’s familiar protective hand: “delays are creating uncertainty, undermining the ability of financial institutions to increase lending to businesses of all sizes that want to invest and fuel our recovery.” So Mr. Paulson’s crocodile tears are all for the people. (Except that the banks are not lending at home, but are shoveling money out of the U.S. economy as fast as they can.)

As Mr. Obama’s chief of staff Emanuel Rahm put it, a crisis is too good a thing to waste. It’s a con man’s old trick to pressure the victim to make a decision fast. Having created the crisis, Wall Street wants to use its momentum to knock out any potential checks to its power. “No systemic risk regulator, no matter how powerful, can be relied on to see everything and prevent future problems,” Mr. Paulson explained. “That’s why our regulatory system must reinforce the responsibility of lenders, investors, borrowers and all market participants to analyze risk and make informed decisions,” In other words, blame the victims! The way to protect victims of predatory bank lending (and crooked sales of junk securities) is not new regulations but just the opposite: “to simplify the patchwork quilt of regulatory agencies and improve transparency so that consumers and investors can punish excesses through their own informed investing decisions.” Simplification means the Fed, not a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Moving in for the kill, Mr. Paulson explains that the Treasury is bare, having used $13 trillion to bail out high finance in 2008-09. So he warns the government not to run a Keynesian-type budget deficit. The federal budget should move into balance or even surplus, even if this accelerates the rise in unemployment and decline in wage levels as the economy moves deeper into recession and debt deflation. “We must also tackle what is by far our greatest economic challenge — the reduction of budget deficits — a big part of which will involve reforming our major entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.” The economy thus is to be sacrificed to Wall Street rather than reforming finance so that it serves the economy more productively. It is simple mathematics to see that if the government cannot raise taxes, it must scale back Social Security, other social welfare spending and infrastructure spending.

What is remarkably left out of account is that today’s financial crisis centered on public debts is largely fiscal crisis. It is caused by replacing progressive taxation with regressive taxes, and above all by untaxing finance and real estate. Take the case of California, where tears are being shed over the dismantling of the once elite University of California system. Since American independence, education has been financed by the property tax. But Proposition 13 has “freed” property from taxation – so that its rental value can be borrowed against and turned into interest payments to banks. California’s real estate costs are just as high with its property taxes frozen, but the rising rental value of land has been paid to the banks – forcing the state to slash its fiscal budget or else raise taxes on labor and consumers.

The link between financial and fiscal crisis – and hence the need for a symbiotic fiscal-financial reform – is just as clear in Europe. The Greek government has pre-sold its tax revenues from roads and other infrastructure to Wall Street, leaving less future revenue to pay its public debt. To cap matters, paying income tax is almost voluntary for wealthy Greeks. Tax evasion is hardly necessary in the post-Soviet states, where property is hardly taxed at all. (The flat tax falls almost entirely on labor.)

Throughout the world, scaling back the 20th century’s legacy of progressive taxation and untaxing real estate and finance has led to a public debt crisis. Property income hitherto paid to governments is now paid to the banks. And although Wall Street has extracted $13 trillion in bailouts just since October 2008, the thought of raising taxes on wealth to pay just $1 trillion over an entire decade for Social Security or health insurance is deemed a crisis that would lead Wall Street to shut down the economy. It is telling governments to shift to a regressive tax system to make up the fiscal shortfall by raising taxes on labor and cutting back public spending on the economy at large. This is what is plunging economies from California to Greece and the Baltics into fiscal and financial crisis. Wall Street’s solution – to balance the budget by cutting back the government’s social contract and deregulating finance all the more – will shrink the economy and make the budget deficits even more severe.

Financial speculators no doubt will clean up on the turmoil.

Notes 

[1] Henry M. Paulson Jr., “How to Watch the Banks,” New York Times op-ed., February 16, 2010

[2] Tom Braithwaite, “Senators oppose ‘systemic risk’ curbs,” Financial Times, February 16, 2010.

BELGRADE — Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović today praised the country’s diplomacy in its efforts to preserve Kosovo.

He spoke for the state broadcaster RTS on the second anniversary of the Kosovo Albanian unilateral independence proclamation, to say that Belgrade was successful in the previous two years, “given that less than a third of the world countries have recognized Kosovo”.

“Two thirds of the states in the world have recognized international law and territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia that has put great efforts to improve the situation in Serbia’s southern province,” Bogdanović stated.

Bogdanović said that the figure of 65 countries, out of the 192 UN members, that have recognized Kosovo, shows that the majority of the states in the world do not accept the proclamation.

The minister also said that in the last 10 years, Kosovo remained an island of crime and ethnic intolerance in the civilized world and Europe and a place where Serbs do not have freedom of movement and not all ethnic groups are legally protected.

Bogdanović said that Serbia is ready for a dialogue and constructive and pragmatic policy toward Kosovo and Metohija, adding that the plan of International Civilian Office (ICO) in Priština, and its chief, Pieter Feith, will not be successful.

The plan seeks to bring northern, Serb areas of the province under the control of the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština.

Serbs have no trust in Kosovo institutions, Bogdanović said, and added that Serbs are not legally protected, their cemeteries are being destroyed while the temporary institutions have done nothing to reconcile Serbs and Albanians.

According to Bogdanović, Serbia is making huge efforts to improve the situation and to help IDPs driven out of their homes in the province return.

“No recognition for quasi-state”

State Secretary in the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija Oliver Ivanović said Tuesday that two years after the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence, “it is clear to everyone that Serbia will never recognize that quasi-state in Kosovo”.

Serbia will do everything it can through political and legal means to preserve its territorial integrity and keep Kosovo, Ivanović told Tanjug.

The U.S.-sponsored drive to impose new economic sanctions on Iran has nothing to do with the noble cause of limiting proliferation of nuclear weapons on the planet. It is directly linked to the U.S. military doctrine of establishing ‘full spectrum dominance’ – i.e., military dominance on land, sea, air, and outer space over all other countries in the world. The logical extension of this doctrine is that only countries firmly allied to the U.S. government should be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons or to even develop the capacity to do so.

Israel , for example, is widely-believed to hold secret Nuclear weapons. Yet there is no call for sanctions or investigations of them. The reason is simple: They are a U.S. ally. India and Pakistan have declined to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and have developed nuclear weapons. Yet there is no call for sanctions or investigations of them. The reason is simple: They are U.S. allies.

Iran and North Korea are being subjected to economic sanctions, calls for more sanctions, and even threats of military aggression against them The reason is again simple: They are not U.S. allies.

The principal of national sovereignty includes non-interference in a nations internal affairs by outside powers. It is an important cornerstone of real international peace and security, and among other things is related to accepting and respecting the cultural, political, and economic diversity of the world.

A key element of national sovereignty is that wars of aggression against other nations which have not attacked ones’ own nation are prohibited under international law. Wars of aggression were declared illegal at the Nuremberg trials after World War II, which established the invasion of other nations by Germany as the type-case.

Subsequently, the United Nations General Assembly has enacted resolutions prohibiting military aggression, invasions, and occupations of one country by another – except in self-defence when the target nation had attacked first.

Iran , at this point, is only known to be developing nuclear power plants and materials. And it has never attacked the U.S. Yet Iran is being subjected to sanctions, calls for more sanctions, and threats of possible military aggression against them.

The Truth About the Non-Proliferation Treaty

As a signatory of the U.N. Nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Iran must not develop nuclear weapons.

However – and this is a crucial point – the non-proliferation treaty gives every signatory the sovereign right to voluntarily withdraw from the treaty on three months notice. After doing so, that country has the absolute right under international law to develop nuclear weapons on its own territory.

North Korea , which originally signed the treaty and later withdrew, has now the legal right to develop nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan, and Israel never signed the treaty and therefore also have had the legal right to develop nuclear weapons.

Instead of acknowledging these realities, western politicians and media have systematically concealed them from the public. In place of the truth they have repeated vague mantras like ‘defying the international community’ (i.e., not bending to the will of the U.S.).

In a typical example of this deceptive rhetoric, U.S. President Obama said a few days ago: “Despite the posturing that its nuclear power is only for civilian use … they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponization, and that is not acceptable to the international community.”

The absence of any legal argument in this statement reflects the fact that there is no legal argument against Iran’s nuclear energy program, and that even development of weapons would be legal if Iraq withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Of course, Obama invoking the ‘non-acceptance by the ‘international community’ does not mean the nations of the world; it’s code for ‘the U.S. and its allies’.

U.S. Sanctions are part of Imperialism

To fully understand U.S. policy towards Iran and North Korea, we need to situate it in the wider attempt to extend its military machine across the world, and to remove any obstacles to its dominance.

There are currently 700 U.S. military bases outside the U.S., and it is engaged in a vast project to extend the reach of Nato by incorporating as many as possible of the former East European socialist states and former parts of the Soviet Union.

The U.S. is also seeking to militarily encircle both Russia and China with sea-based missile carrying ships, bases in neighboring states, hi-tech weapons on Taiwan, and the arming of small client anti-Russian states like Georgia. U.S. bases are also being built in the South American country of Columbia, right next door to Venezuela, a country which has sought to develop a socialist alternative to U.S. domination of the region.

U.S. opposition to Iran’s nuclear program is intended to help ensure that the U.S. – and its nuclear armed major allies such as Britain, France, India, and Pakistan – can continue to dominate the world. It is also intended to weaken the ability of middle eastern countries to resist U.S. domination in their region.

Syria: A Clenched US Fist Behind the Hand of Friendship

February 17th, 2010 by Finian Cunningham

The announcement by Washington today that it is appointing an ambassador to Syria – after an absence of five years – is being hailed in the western media as another example of the Obama administration’s “policy of engagement” for regional peace.

The BBC reports: “Analysts say the US now wants to renew dialogue with Syria as part of a wider push for Middle East peace.”

Five years ago, the US withdrew its ambassador following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Washington accused Syria of masterminding. Damascus has always denied the accusation.

But Syria has long been on the US list of “rogue states”, blamed for “sponsoring state terrorism” through its support for militant groups Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

The appointment of US ambassador Robert Ford and the sending of top US state department official William Burns to have talks this week with Syria’s president Bashar al Assad as part of a regional tour does not make any mention of Syria’s alleged involvement in terrorism. In bringing Damascus “in from the cold”, there are apparently no Washington preconditions for Syria to renounce violence or links with “terror groups”.

We are led to believe, by fuzzy western media reportage, that Obama’s policy of engagement is simply aimed at adding “impetus to Middle East peace”.

But as former US president Franklin Roosevelt once noted: “Nothing in politics happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”

Washington’s extended diplomatic hand to Syria must be seen in the context of a ramped US diplomatic offensive against Iran. Only days earlier, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton arrived in the Gulf state of Qatar to drum up support for tougher sanctions against Tehran. These sanctions include the cutting off of vital refined oil imports to Iran. Clinton did her best to enliven the hackneyed US mantra of a “nuclear armed Iran being a threat to the region”. Among the Gulf states, Qatar has a more independent foreign policy towards Iran, maintaining cordial relations with its neighbour to the north. It is no accident that Washington chose this location to shore up its attempt to further isolate Iran.

The next stop for Clinton this week was Saudi Arabia, where it was reported that discussions centred on the US urging the Saudis to reassure China over future oil supplies. China depends heavily on Saudi Arabia for energy and it is also a major investor in Iranian oil and gas development. Saudi assurance to Beijing over oil supplies can be seen as a way of bringing China onboard the sanctions bandwagon that Washington is pushing more than ever.

This diplomatic offensive comes only weeks after the US announced that it was upgrading missile systems in the four Gulf states of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Given this context, the seeming US hand of friendship towards Syria is more accurately understood as the further clenching of Washington’s fist towards Iran.

Syria has been one of Iran’s closest allies in the region. Washington “engagement” with Damascus is better understood to have nothing to do with a search for Middle East peace. By bringing Syria within the US fold, Iran is made all the more isolated and vulnerable to military attack. The latest US “bid for peace” is a cynical move to prepare the ground for war with Iran.

 
 

[email protected]

Employers Take a Beating by Laying Off Employees

February 17th, 2010 by Sherwood Ross

It’s not only employees who suffer when they get laid off but the firms responsible for handing them the pink slips can take a beating, too.

As millions of Americans have been fired by employers struggling to remain profitable, we have all borne witness to Corporate America’s calloused disregard of its workers. Now, canny business economists claim the layoffs have hurt employers, too.

That’s part of the story of now-defunct Circuit City, an article in the current Newsweek reports, after it lopped off 3,400 of its highest-paid sales associates to cut costs.  “A company cuts people. Customer service, innovation, and productivity fall in the face of a smaller and demoralized workforce,” Newsweek points out.

“There are currently 14.8 million unemployed, and when you count ‘discouraged workers’ (who’ve given up on job seeking) and part-time workers who’d prefer a full-time gig, that’s another 9.4 million Americans who are ‘under-employed,” writes Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University. By my count, that’s 24 million Americans either out of work or not working at full potential. Wow!

“The people who lose jobs also lose incomes, so they spend less. Even workers who don’t lose their jobs but are simply fearful of layoffs are likely to cut back on spending too. With less aggregate demand in the economy, sales fall. With smaller sales, companies lay off more people, and the cycle continues,” Pfeffer writes in the February 15th Newsweek.

Pfeffer says layoffs simply don’t work. Firms lose what’s called “institutional memory” as to save bucks short-term they lay off their wisest (and most expensive) heads first, damaging their company long-term. And this can send a chill through any workplace like nothing else.

Employers will tell you their notion of the ideal worker is one who doesn’t have to wait to be told, who thinks independently, who acts like an entrepreneur inside the firm. Yet, as layoffs shatter morale, they can also stifle creative thinking. Floating new ideas means taking risks. It means risking failure. And how many employees will risk failure when their bosses are looking to cut payrolls?

Perhaps the most destructive outcome of all from layoffs in this Great Recession is the loss of innovation—the creativity that births new products and generates new jobs. In short, fewer employees and more frightened survivors equals fewer ideas.

“Managers also underestimate the extent to which layoffs reduce morale and increase fear in the workplace,” Pfeffer writes. He cites an American Management Assn. survey that found 88 percent of the firms that downsized “said morale had declined.” Not only will the surviving top employees want to find a more stable firm when times improve but disillusion among rank-and-file workers can lead to ugly consequences.

The Gallup pollsters find that “active disengagement” — which Gallup defines as working to sabotage the performance of one’s employer—ranges from 16 to 19 percent, Pfeffer writes. “Employers who are unhappy and stressed out are more likely to steal from their employers—an especially large problem for retailers, where employee theft typically exceeds shoplifting losses.”

Employers are also in for a rude awakening if they think slicing payrolls spells profitability. A study of 141 layoff announcements from 1979 to 1997 found negative stock returns to companies announcing layoffs, with larger and permanent layoffs leading to greater negative effects, Pfeffer wrote.

Actually, employers collectively dealt a blow to the economy before this economic collapse began: they held wages down even as productivity shot up. In short, when they enjoyed success, they didn’t cut their workers a bigger slice of the pie. And when conditions worsened, employees got a pink slip and no pie period. This really gave a knock to consumer spending.

One counter-weight to mass layoffs would be a reinvigorated labor movement. But this is unlikely as employers can fire employees who try to organize their co-workers for higher wages, health benefits, and job security. The long, sad slide in union membership has crippled worker purchasing power and retarded economic growth—one more reason the Employee Free Choice Act needs to be brought to a vote to give employees a chance to organize to improve their lot.

As one might conclude from scanning AFL-CIO’s home page, millions of workers today are treated little better than dogs. In the restaurant industry, for instance, 90 percent of its 13 million staffers “are not offered health insurance or sick days,” a substantial number are forced to work “off the clock” and the median wage for food preparation and service workers is only $8.59, including tips.

When your largest industry pays people that way it’s hard to feel sorry for employers like Circuit City and others that had to close their doors after they axed their best talent.               

Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant who formerly covered workplace issues for a major wire service. Reach him at [email protected] 

Hans Blix is the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and also worked as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq. He talks to SPIEGEL about whether Iran really has the ability to enrich uranium and if economic sanctions can ever be effective.

SPIEGEL: Tehran has announced that it has enriched a “first batch” of uranium from 3.5 to 20 percent. Does this mean that we now face a new stage in the escalation of the conflict with Iran?

Hans Blix: The government in Tehran originally declared that it only intended to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent, to produce fuel for nuclear reactors. But now it needs uranium enriched to about 20 percent for its research reactor, in order to produce isotopes for medical use. Tehran had the same problem once before, in the early 1980s. The United States had built a research reactor for Tehran, Iran had ordered nuclear fuel and had even paid for it, but then came the mullahs’ revolution, and America refused to deliver the fuel. The West has faced a dilemma since then: If we don’t supply them with the fuel, Iran has a reason to produce it itself. That’s what led to the compromise proposal of enriching Iranian fuel abroad.

SPIEGEL: The West has been engaged in negotiations for years. How else can it accommodate Iran?

Blix: Probably the best subject of negotiations is the location for exchanging low-enriched and highly enriched uranium, and there is an evident choice for that: Turkey. Both sides trust Turkey.

SPIEGEL: How long will it take the Iranians to accumulate enough fuel for the research reactor?

Blix: That’s completely unclear, and there are many people who even question whether they have the technical capability to enrich the material to 20 percent.

SPIEGEL: So was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just boasting in recent speeches when he talked about Iran’s ability to enrich uranium?

Blix: Much of that is bravado and a reaction to perceived humiliation. Anyone can see that he’s just trying to show off when he claims that the regime can build 10 enrichment plants. No one in the world has 10 of these plants. The United States and France have one or two, and Argentina and the Netherlands have one each. It’s absurd to talk about 10 plants.

SPIEGEL: But if Iran is successful with its enrichment efforts, will that make it a “virtual nuclear power,” whereby all it needs to do is press a button and it will quickly have a deployable weapon?

Blix: I don’t join those who speak of a “virtual nuclear power,” and I told that to my successor Mohamed ElBaradei, who coined the term. Japan, for example, could activate masses of plutonium in an instant, as could, to a lesser extent, Brazil. But even those who have embarked along this road can also go back at any time. Germany, for example, never completed its nuclear reprocessing plant in Wackersdorf. (Editor’s note: The planned nuclear reprocessing plant in Wackersdorf, Bavaria, was the focus of violent protests in the 1980s. The project was abandoned in 1989.)

SPIEGEL: But what if Iran doesn’t want to step back? What if, in fact, Iran wants the bomb instead?

Blix: I don’t rule out the possibility that Iran wants nuclear weapons, but I find the probability higher that the political leadership is divided over the issue. Merely the ability to enrich uranium already serves as a deterrent, and for some in the regime it might even be sufficient. If there is a desire to have the bomb, it certainly goes back to the 1980s and the threat coming from the Iraqi nuclear program at the time. But Iraq collapsed in 1991 and again in 2003, and if there is anything that makes me optimistic today, it is the notion that Iran, following the disarmament of Iraq, no longer has a security-related reason to acquire nuclear weapons.

SPIEGEL: Doesn’t Iran feel surrounded by enemies?

Blix: I don’t think the Iranians perceive Israel as a threat. The conflict between the two countries over enrichment is relatively new. Afghanistan? No. Pakistan? No. And not Turkey or Russia, either.

SPIEGEL: And the United States?

Blix: Yes. Aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf are a different story. But this is precisely where we see the best options for a solution. In the case of North Korea, the United States offered a non-aggression agreement and the establishment of diplomatic relations. In the case of Iran, both options have not been discussed publicly to date. In other words, no one can claim that all the diplomatic options have already been exhausted.

SPIEGEL: What other possibilities does the West have to stop the Iranian nuclear program? What do you know about covert US operations in Iran?

Blix: I don’t have any evidence to support that, but it wouldn’t surprise me. The US Congress has approved millions for these purposes — not a very wise decision, by the way, because it just plays into the hands of the hardliners and harms the opposition.

SPIEGEL: Now new sanctions against Tehran are being discussed. Do you think they make sense?

Blix: Sanctions have certainly been successful before — just think of Libya. But it took a long time, and they are a blunt weapon. They were devastating in Iraq, where they harmed the people but hardly even affected Saddam. Whether sanctions can be effective against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard remains to be seen. In the case of North Korea, freezing certain bank accounts in Macau was obviously effective. Economic sanctions could certainly be appropriate, but I’m against military sanctions, because the only thing there is to bomb at the moment is intentions.

SPIEGEL: The Israelis have more or less openly threatened to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Blix: Hardliners who analyze the drawbacks of a diplomatic solution today should, with the same scrutiny, analyze the drawbacks of a military solution. It’s easy to let the bombs fall, and a military strike could set the nuclear program back by a few years — something that would be very welcome. But what would the long-term consequences be? Iran won’t simply sit there quietly and accept an attack.

SPIEGEL: Can air strikes even successfully destroy Iran’s nuclear program? Most of the facilities are buried deep underground.

Blix: Anyone who’s worried that al-Qaida might be making dirty nuclear bombs in the caves of the Hindu Kush ought to be much more concerned about the fact that such air strikes can’t do much harm. Iran is a big, sophisticated country, and you can’t destroy or occupy everything.

SPIEGEL: So you think a military strike would be pointless?

Blix: I believe, at any rate, that it’s impossible to eliminate Iran as a potential enemy. Despite Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory speeches, Iran hasn’t been an aggressive, expansionist country in a long time. Besides, the glow that the mullahs’ 1979 revolution kindled throughout the region has disappeared. After the discredited election, and after the corruption they have permitted, the mullahs can no longer spark enthusiasm in anyone — neither the Iranians themselves nor anyone else in the region.

Interview conducted by Bernhard Zand. Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan. 

Capitalism Cut Adrift

February 17th, 2010 by William Bowles

Have we really been brainwashed?

There has been much talk expended over the years on the degree to which the media—and hence culture—is central to maintaining the capitalist system. Leading the charge have been Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, so much so that they now more resemble sainted objects than social/political analysts, but then this is nothing new for the left, who unfortunately for the most part are happy to let others do the thinking for them.

The problem for the ‘rest of us’ is that Chomsky et al speak the private language of the professional academics that is ironically also the source of the very problem they write about. I am not faulting Chomsky and co’s analysis, the problem is that to some degree it contradicts what people think out here in the real world.

So for example, Chomsky has written reams on the role of propaganda and language and how it allegedly shapes our perceptions and understanding of events in order to maintain credibility and belief in the system. But consider the following numbers on the peoples’ lack of trust in major institutions in the US and the UK:

“63 percent of respondents said news articles were often inaccurate and only 29 percent said the media generally “get the facts straight” — the worst marks Pew has recorded — compared with 53 percent and 39 percent in 2007.

“Seventy-four percent said news organizations favored one side or another in reporting on political and social issues, and the same percentage said the media were often influenced by powerful interests. Those, too, are the worst marks recorded in Pew surveys.  

“Negative opinions grew since 2007 among both major parties, but significantly more so among Democrats. The percentage of Democrats calling the media inaccurate rose to 59, from 43; the percentage who said the media took sides rose to 67, from 54.” — ‘Trust in News Media Falls to New Low in Pew Survey’, NYT, 13 September, 2009

So too with lack of trust in government:

“The poll finds trust in the executive branch, headed by the president, near the record low from the Watergate era. Just 42% of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the executive branch, similar to last year’s 43%, but the lowest since a 40% reading in April 1974. Trust in the executive branch has been below 50% each of the last three years. That coincides with the roughly two-year trend in sub-40% job approval ratings for Bush.” — ‘Trust in Government Remains Low”, Gallup, 18 September, 2008  

The same goes for the UK:

- 68% trust companies less than they did a year ago

- Trust in media dropped ten points to 28%

- Trust in banks down 16 points to 31% — ‘Trust Barometer 2010’

Okay, polls can be fixed to say almost anything, they are after all just statistics by another name, but bearing in mind the bias any and all polls have, in this case they all appear to say the same thing: that people know only too well what little control they have over events in the real world but they still experience the end product whether it be unemployment or loss of ‘community’ and they observe our corrupt political and business class in ‘action’ every day of their lives.

Meanwhile the government that no one trusts has the nerve to blame the media that serves it:

“One of Tony Blair’s closest advisers has warned that the government risks losing its legitimacy, partly due to a systematic failure of the media to report the truth.” — ‘Media blamed for loss of trust in government’, The Guardian, 6 May 2004

Well of course, they would say that wouldn’t they, but at the same time it’s an admission that all the ‘spin’ (lies) cannot alter the fundamental reality that most people don’t need a degree in linguistics to figure out what’s going on, the real issue is why won’t they act on what they know and do something about it? After all, don’t we live in a democracy?

On cue, up pops a piece on BBC 2’s ‘Culture Show’ (4/2/10) about Michael Moore’s about to be released in the UK, ‘Capitalism, a love story’. Mark Kermode interviews the BBC’s ‘guru’ of all things economic, Robert Peston about whether Moore is telling the truth about the economics of capitalism, as Kermode is unhappy with Moore’s crusading and hence ‘biased’ approach (amongst other things). But fundamentally, Peston cannot fault the facts of the movie, though he appears a little uncomfortable having to say so, and no wonder, Peston has a vested interest, capitalism pays for his ‘lifestyle’ (so much for ‘objective’ journalism).

Both of them also attacked Moore for making a shitload of money out of the system he attacks so vehemently in his movies. But so what? Moore, like Peston and Kermode, lives in a capitalist system, how else could he make movies that reach millions without making money at the same time? There is no contradiction. As they say, ‘money talks and bullshit walks’.

Kermode then asks Peston, ‘If this is what capitalism is really like, why don’t they rise up?’ Why not indeed?

And indeed, Peston had no response to Kermode’s somewhat rhetorical question other than to say it’s not for him to say. After all, Peston has to watch his p’s and q’s for if he had had the temerity to say something like, ‘Mark, you’re absolutely right, capitalism sucks, millions have been thrown out of work and into the streets and worse through no fault of their own, so as a trained economist I know there’s a better way of doing things’.

As they say in the US, a pink slip would have been on his (former) desk super pronto. But how can Peston claim to be impartial and objective when his mission in the last analysis is to legitimize capitalism come what may? But it also speaks reams about the kind of ‘education’ you get in economics at university, which is where I started out this essay.

Capitalism cut adrift

There’s no doubt about it, three decades of unregulated ‘free market’ financialized capitalism in the UK has proved to be a total disaster, but not in the ‘classical marxist’ sense of a struggle between capital and labour being played out in the streets or in our (non-existent) factories let alone in our decrepid and corruption political institutions. Instead, ‘neo-liberalism’ has failed not only on an economic level but more importantly it’s been a cultural and ideological failure, hence all the talk about regaining the ‘trust’ of the populace and lots of hot air about ‘consultations’ and ‘town hall meetings’ and of course, the inevitable patriotic jingoism about our ‘glorious’ imperial past.

But are we as passive as it appears? Is the struggle being played out on an entirely different level, and to compound the problem, is the struggle being manipulated and exploited by our mass consumption, corporate culture, largely through the medium of television and the resultant ‘spin-offs’ into the real world?

The central thrust of capitalist propaganda in the UK focuses on ‘tradition’ and British ‘fair play’, ‘the mother of democracies’, on our ‘green and pleasant land’ and so on. In any case a totally mythologized history but one that millions believe in (even as they see it vanish before their eyes and this surely is the point).

Corporate capitalism is rapidly erasing even those traces of our mythologized past that have survived the freeways and shopping malls. The countryside has been vandalized by the mass (temporary) migration to the ‘country’ that has destroyed the traditional English village through the second home. Add to this to destructive effects that gigantic retail corporations have had on virtually every aspect of life. City and town high streets have been ‘franchised’, local small businesses wiped out in the process.

Having been born and raised in London and then lived 17 years in New York and ten in Johannesburg, I can attest that the London I came back to can be best described as having all the worst aspects of New York and none of its best. In other words a cheap and nasty copy of the city so nice they named it twice. All the really good things about London’s aggregation of villages around a centre that made it a unique and diverse city have been gutted and replaced with a vulgar, mass-produced facade that can be found in any corporatized city on the planet.

Add to this the privatization of our common property; water, electricity, gas, all kinds of community services that have part of our lives for generations and it’s clear that the quality of life we fought for has been destroyed.

Even in New York the old Italian neighbourhood of downtown Brooklyn where I bought my bread, coffee and pasta, still exists with the same family-run delis and bakeries. This is what makes living in a city worth the hassle. Take the diversity and richness away and what have you got?

British workers work the longest hours in the EU yet have the lowest productivity. Stress levels are OTT, depression affects about 20 million people in the UK. It’s official, people are unhappy and no wonder, the dream (fantasy) that the neo-liberals sold us has turned into a nightmare.

But rather than resorting to the political process to call a halt to this nation-wide corporate vandalism of our culture, our dis-ease is being played out in the mass media in a torrent of programmes all of which look back in one way or another to a world that no longer exists even in its fantasy incarnation.

Self-sufficiency, do-it-yourself, ‘green’ technologies, raising vegetables, crafts, ‘heritage’ projects , history, archeology, geneology, all manner of ‘community’ projects like cleaning up neighbourhoods or restoring poisoned rivers, the list is constantly expanding in what can only be described as a headlong flight from the shopping mall to the allotment and hence from corporate ‘culture’ in all its vileness and mediocrity. I kid you not, our ‘winter of discontent’ has been transformed into a ‘reality show’.

In Part Two which will follow shortly.

China Cuts Holdings of U.S. Treasuries

February 17th, 2010 by Global Research

Foreign demand drops by record amount; Japan now holds most Treasuries

WASHINGTON – The government said Tuesday that foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities fell by the largest amount on record in December with China reducing its holdings by $34.2 billion.

The reductions in holdings, if they continue, could force the government to make higher interest payments at a time that it is running record federal deficits.

The Treasury Department reported that foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities fell by $53 billion in December, surpassing the previous record of a $44.5 billion drop in April 2009.

The big drop in China’s holdings meant that it lost the top spot in terms of foreign ownership of U.S. Treasuries, dropping to second place behind Japan.

Japan increased its holdings of U.S. Treasuries, boosting them by $11.5 billion to $768.8 billion in December. That amount was higher than China’s December total of $755.4 billion, putting Japan back in the top spot in terms of foreign ownership of Treasury securities, a position it had lost in the fall of 2008 when China surpassed Japan.

The $53 billion decline in holdings of Treasury securities came primarily from a drop in official government holdings, which fell by $52.3 billion. The holdings of foreign private investors fell by $700 million during the month of December.

For all of 2009, foreign holdings of U.S. Treasuries dipped by $500 million. In 2008, foreigners had increased their holdings of U.S. Treasuries by $456 billion as a global financial crisis triggered a flight to the safety of U.S. government debt.

That flight to safety had driven down the interest rates that the government was having to pay on its debt to record lows with rates on some short-term securities dipping into negative territory for brief periods.

The Obama administration on Feb. 1 released a new budget plan which projects that the deficit for this year will total a record $1.56 trillion, surpassing last year’s record of $1.4 trillion deficit. The trillion-dollar-plus deficit have been caused by a deep recession, which has reduced government tax receipts, and the massive spending that has been undertaken to jump-start the economy and stabilize the financial system.

The administration has pledged to begin addressing the huge government deficits with Obama saying he will soon appoint a commission to recommend ways to trim future deficits.

Overall, the Treasury Department said that foreign net purchases of long-term securities totaled $63.3 billion in December, down from $126.4 billion in November. This category covers Treasury securities and private company bonds.

China’s holdings are a result of the huge trade deficits the United States runs with China. The Chinese take the dollars Americans pay for Chinese products and invest them in Treasury securities and other dollar-denominated assets.

American manufacturers argue that China’s huge dollar reserve reflect a strategy by the Chinese government to keep its currency artificially low against the dollar as a way to boost Chinese exports and dampen demand in China for American products.

A Country of Serfs Ruled By Oligarchs

February 17th, 2010 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The media has headlined good economic news: fourth quarter GDP growth of 5.7 percent (“the recession is over”), Jan. retail sales up, productivity up in 4th quarter, the dollar is gaining strength. Is any of it true? What does it mean?

The 5.7 percent growth figure is a guesstimate made in advance of the release of the U.S. trade deficit statistic. It assumed that the U.S. trade deficit would show an improvement. When the trade deficit was released a few days later, it showed a deterioration, knocking the 5.7 percent growth figure down to 4.6 percent. Much of the remaining GDP growth consists of inventory accumulation.

More than a fourth of the reported gain in Jan. retail sales is due to higher gasoline and food prices. Questionable seasonal adjustments account for the rest.

Productivity was up, because labor costs fell 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, the fourth successive decline. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose. Productivity increases that do not translate into wage gains cannot drive the consumer economy.

Housing is still under pressure, and commercial real estate is about to become a big problem.

The dollar’s gains are not due to inherent strengths. The dollar is gaining because government deficits in Greece and other EU countries are causing the dollar carry trade to unwind. America’s low interest rates made it profitable for investors and speculators to borrow dollars and use them to buy overseas bonds paying higher interest, such as Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds denominated in euros. The deficit troubles in these countries have caused investors and speculators to sell the bonds and convert the euros back into dollars in order to pay off their dollar loans. This unwinding temporarily raises the demand for dollars and boosts the dollar’s exchange value.

The problems of the American economy are too great to be reached by traditional policies. Large numbers of middle class American jobs have been moved offshore: manufacturing, industrial and professional service jobs. When the jobs are moved offshore, consumer incomes and U.S. GDP go with them. So many jobs have been moved abroad that there has been no growth in U.S. real incomes in the 21st century, except for the incomes of the super rich who collect multi-million dollar bonuses for moving U.S. jobs offshore.

Without growth in consumer incomes, the economy can go nowhere. Washington policymakers substituted debt growth for income growth. Instead of growing richer, consumers grew more indebted. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan accomplished this with his low interest rate policy, which drove up housing prices, producing home equity that consumers could tap and spend by refinancing their homes.

Unable to maintain their accustomed living standards with income alone, Americans spent their equity in their homes and ran up credit card debts, maxing out credit cards in anticipation that rising asset prices would cover the debts. When the bubble burst, the debts strangled consumer demand, and the economy died.

As I write about the economic hardships created for Americans by Wall Street and corporate greed and by indifferent and bribed political representatives, I get many letters from former middle class families who are being driven into penury. Here is one recently arrived:

“Thank you for your continued truthful commentary on the ‘New Economy.’ My husband and I could be it’s poster children. Nine years ago when we married, we were both working good paying, secure jobs in the semiconductor manufacturing sector. Our combined income topped $100,000 a year. We were living the dream. Then the nightmare began. I lost my job in the great tech bubble of 2003, and decided to leave the labor force to care for our infant son. Fine, we tightened the belt. Then we started getting squeezed. Expenses rose, we downsized, yet my husband’s job stagnated. After several years of no pay raises, he finally lost his job a year and a half ago. But he didn’t just lose a job, he lost a career. The semiconductor industry is virtually gone here in Arizona. Three months later, my husband, with a technical degree and 20-plus years of solid work experience, received one job offer for an entry level corrections officer. He had to take it, at an almost 40 percent reduction in pay. Bankruptcy followed when our savings were depleted. We lost our house, a car, and any assets we had left. His salary last year, less than $40,000, to support a family of four. A year and a half later, we are still struggling to get by. I can’t find a job that would cover the cost of daycare. We are stuck. Every jump in gas and food prices hits us hard. Without help from my family, we wouldn’t have made it. So, I could tell you just how that ‘New Economy’ has worked for us, but I’d really rather not use that kind of language.”

Policymakers who are banking on stimulus programs are thinking in terms of an economy that no longer exists. Post-war U.S. recessions and recoveries followed Federal Reserve policy. When the economy heated up and inflation became a problem, the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates and reduce the growth of money and credit. Sales would fall. Inventories would build up. Companies would lay off workers.

Inflation cooled, and unemployment became the problem. Then the Federal Reserve would reverse course. Interest rates would fall, and money and credit would expand. As the jobs were still there, the work force would be called back, and the process would continue.

It is a different situation today. Layoffs result from the jobs being moved offshore and from corporations replacing their domestic work forces with foreigners brought in on H-1B, L-1 and other work visas. The U.S. labor force is being separated from the incomes associated with the goods and services that it consumes. With the rise of offshoring, layoffs are not only due to restrictive monetary policy and inventory buildup. They are also the result of the substitution of cheaper foreign labor for U.S. labor by American corporations. Americans cannot be called back to work to jobs that have been moved abroad. In the New Economy, layoffs can continue despite low interest rates and government stimulus programs.

To the extent that monetary and fiscal policy can stimulate U.S. consumer demand, much of the demand flows to the goods and services that are produced offshore for U.S. markets. China, for example, benefits from the stimulation of U.S. consumer demand. The rise in China’s GDP is financed by a rise in the U.S. public debt burden.

Another barrier to the success of stimulus programs is the high debt levels of Americans. The banks are being criticized for a failure to lend, but much of the problem is that there are no consumers to whom to lend. Most Americans already have more debt than they can handle.

Hapless Americans, unrepresented and betrayed, are in store for a greater crisis to come. President Bush’s war deficits were financed by America’s trade deficit. China, Japan, and OPEC, with whom the U.S. runs trade deficits, used their trade surpluses to purchase U.S. Treasury debt, thus financing the U.S. government budget deficit.

The problem now is that the U.S. budget deficits have suddenly grown immensely from wars, bankster bailouts, jobs stimulus programs, and lower tax revenues as a result of the serious recession. Budget deficits are now three times the size of the trade deficit. Thus, the surpluses of China, Japan, and OPEC are insufficient to take the newly issued U.S. government debt off the market.

If the Treasury’s bonds can’t be sold to investors, pension funds, banks, and foreign governments, the Federal Reserve will have to purchase them by creating new money. When the rest of the world realizes the inflationary implications, the US dollar will lose its reserve currency role. When that happens Americans will experience a large economic shock as their living standards take another big hit.

America is on its way to becoming a country of serfs ruled by oligarchs.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: [email protected]

I Francuska optužila SAD za okupaciju Haitija

February 17th, 2010 by Global Research

Evropska unija obećala je više od 400 miliona evra humanitarne i dugoročne pomoći Haitiju koji je prošle nedelje pogođen razornim zemljotresom. Evropska komisija doniraće najviše, oko 330 miliona evra, dok će države članice unije pomoći pojedinačnim donacijama. Pored toga EU je uputila na Haiti tim stručnjaka čiji je posao da procene najnužnije potrebe, kao i da pruže neophodnu podršku tamošnjoj vladi.

„Moramo da preduzmemo hitnu akciju”, kazala je Ketrin Ešton, visoki predstavnik EU za spoljnu politiku i bezbednost posle vanrednog sastanka 27 evropskih ministara. Lideri EU uputili su izraze zahvalnosti SAD zbog uloženih napora da održe otvoren aerodrom u Port o Prensu, ali su rekli da su dobili mnoge pritužbe od nevladinih organizacija o tome kako je pomoć stizala na Haiti.

Francuska je uputila zahtev Ujedinjenim nacijama da ispitaju dominantnu ulogu SAD na Haitiju koje su tamo rasporedile 10.000 vojnika. Zahtev je usledio posle odbijanja američke vojske da dozvoli sletanje francuskom avionu koji je prevozio poljsku bolnicu na Haiti.

„Ovde bi trebalo da je reč o pomoći Haitiju, a ne o okupaciji Haitija”, ljutito je reagovao Alan Žojande, francuski ministar za saradnju. On je dodao da očekuje od UN odluku o tome kako svetske vlade treba zajedno da pružaju pomoć Haitiju, ali i da zahtevaju od Vašingtona objašnjenje za ulogu koju SAD imaju na Karibima. Žojande se osvrnuo i na primedbe koje su zbog prisustva američke vojske uputile Venecuela i Nikaragva i tim povodom izrazio „duboku zabrinutost”.

Španija, koja trenutno predsedava Evropskoj uniji, predložila je da EU uputi žrtvama zemljotresa dodatnu pomoć u vidu viška poljoprivrednih proizvoda. Špansko predsedništvo EU uputiće danas zvaničan predlog ministrima poljoprivrede država EU da pomognu Haitiju proizvodima kao što je mleko i viškom hrane, najavila je španska ministarka Elena Espinoza.

„Želimo da na Haitiju znaju da to nije izraz samo španske, već evropske solidarnosti”, kazala je Espinoza.

EU želi da u najkraćem roku ispita situaciju na Haitiju i pripremi „sveobuhvatni odgovor” na humanitarnu krizu, kao i na dugoročne potrebe stanovništva ove karipske države. „Prvi među prioritetima jeste slanje spasilačkih ekipa, vojnih i civilnih, vode, lekova, skloništa, hrane i uređaja za komunikaciju”, saopštilo je špansko predsedništvo.

Jeremić: Kosovo i EU razdvojene teme

February 17th, 2010 by Global Research

Beograd — Učinićemo sve da ponovo pokrenemo pregovarački proces o statusu i da teme Kosova i EU integracija ostanu razdvojene, kaže šef diplomatije Srbije Vuk Jeremić.

U protekle dve godine diplomatske borbe za Kosovo sačuvali smo mir i stabilnost u regionu, pokrenuli istorijski proces pred Međunarodnim sudom pravde i zadržali broj priznanja samoproglašene nezavisnosti na minimumu, kaže Jeremić za “Danas”, odgovarajući na pitanje koji su najveći uspesi u dvogodišnjoj borbi protiv samoproglašene kosovske nezavisnosti.

“Srbija se pre dve godine suočila s pokušajem nametnutog otimanja 15 odsto svoje teritorije, koje su podržale neke od najmoćnijih zemalja sveta, u teškoj ekonomskoj situaciji i u periodu blokade procesa evropskih integracija”, podsetioje on.

“Opredelili smo se za diplomatsku borbu, strpljivu i energičnu, čime smo napravili presedan u istoriji ovih prostora. Mnogi su nas na početku otpisali, verujući da Srbija to ne može, ali smo ih razuverili”, rekao je Jeremić.

U isto vreme, ubrzano je nastavljen proces evropskih integracija i 2009. godina je bila izuzetno uspešna i u diplomatskoj borbi za Kosovo i Metohiju i u našem napredovanju ka članstvu u EU.

Odgovarajući na pitanje koji najveći izazovi predstoje, ministar inostranih poslova je rekao da će ključni trenutak svakako biti kada MSP bude saopštio svoje mišljenje o nelegalnosti jednostrano poglašene nezavisnosti Kosova.

Nakon toga,dodao je Jeremić, učinićemo sve da dođe do obnove dijaloga o statusu, kako bismo došli do rešenja prihvatljivog za sve strane.

Jeremić je negativno odgovorio na pitanje može li situacija na severu pokrajine, da uspori srpsku kandidaturu za članstvo u EU.

“Vrlo jasna zvanična politika i Beograda i Brisela je da su put Srbije ka članstvu u EU i Kosovo razdvojena pitanja. Učinićemo sve da to tako i ostane, jer unakrsno povezivanje te dve teme ne bi koristilo miru i stabilnosti u regionu”, kazao je on.

(Foto: FoNet, arhiva)

Tadić: Neka Albanci izaberu svoj nacionalni savet

February 17th, 2010 by Global Research

Predsednik Srbije Boris Tadić ocenio je, tokom razgovora sa poslanikom Albanaca presevske doline Rizom Halimijem, da je u cilju rešavanja problema albanske nacionalne manjine od ključne važnosti da Albanci izaberu svoj nacionalni savet.

“U cilju rešavanja problema albanske nacionalne manjine, posebno u obrazovanju, integraciji, upotrebi službenog jezika i pisma, informisanju i drugim oblastima, od ključne važnosti da Albanci izaberu svoj nacionalni savet”, ocenjeno je u razgovoru, u kojem je pored Tadića i Halimija učestvovao i predsednik Koordinacionog tela za opštine Preševo, Bujanovac i Medveđa, Milan Marković.

Tadić je sa sagovornicima “razgovarao o aktivnostima Koordinacionog tela u pravcu poboljšanja uslova života za sve građane u opštinama Preševo, Bujanovac i Medveđa, bez obzira na njihovu političku ili nacionalnu pripadnost”, saopštila je press služba predsednika Republike.

Predsednik Srbije je naglasio da je potrebno da se zajedničkim radom u lokalnim samoupravama i državnim institucijama nastave procesi započeti posle rekonstrukcije Koordinacionog tela.

(FOTO TANJUG-PRES SLUŽBA PREDSEDNIKA)

The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy

February 16th, 2010 by Tamara Lorincz

“Democracy,” writes Engler in his new book, “requires citizens to keep themselves informed about what their government is doing. Canadians have a right and a responsibility to know, debate and to ultimately shape what is being done in our name around the world.”

The Canadian government supplied the uranium for the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II. Ottawa supported South African apartheid by allowing trade and commerce with the racist government there. With the support of its foreign service, Canadian mining companies weakened environmental regulations and propped up dictators in Central and South America. In 2004, Canada helped France and the United States overthrow the democratically elected government of Haiti.

Canadians will be shocked and saddened by Yves Engler’s The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, a critical examination of Canada’s role in the world. Engler is a Montreal-based independent journalist/activist who has written two other books, Playing Left Wing: From Rink Rat to Student Radical and Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority (co-authored with Anthony Fenton).

It was Canada’s role in the coup that ousted Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, a populist priest to the poor, that caused Engler to question more broadly Canadian foreign policy. “Democracy,” writes Engler in his new book, “requires citizens to keep themselves informed about what their government is doing. Canadians have a right and a responsibility to know, debate and to ultimately shape what is being done in our name around the world.”

Engler describes the history of Canadian foreign policy in the Caribbean, the Middle East, Mexico, Central and South America, Central and South Asia, and Africa. Using declassified documents, government sources, and extensive research, he uncovers the darker motives and machinations behind Canadian decisions on international trade, foreign aid, and military operations.

The format of Engler’s book is similar to American author William Blum’s 1995 tour-de-force Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II. Like Blum’s recounting of U.S. destabilizing interventions over the last 50 years, Engler indicts Canada’s corporate elite and, in particular, Canadian banks and mining companies. He documents how companies —such as Barrick Gold, Inco, Falconbridge, Alcan, Placer Dome, Goldcorp, and others, with the financial assistance of the Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank, and the Export Development Corporation—weakened environmental and labor standards, displaced indigenous populations, employed brutal private security guards, and contaminated land and water in the countries they were operating in —such as Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, and Papua New Guinea.

Engler notes that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) aid follows Canadian corporate and military moves around the world. For instance, he discovered how CIDA funds were channeled through Canadian mining companies for their development projects in Ghana and the Philippines. Often these mining companies would not pay taxes or royalties and the Canadian government would force these poor countries to shoulder onerous economic policies, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programs that privatized and deregulated their public services.

He also condemns Canada’s military transformation to war fighting and its integration with the U.S. military. He specifically cites the deployment of Canadian warships with the U.S. fleet in the Persian Gulf and the operation of Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2)—a secretive special combat force that has no parliamentary oversight—alongside the U.S. Unknown to Canadians, JTF2 has operated in Indonesia, Iraq, Haiti, Colombia, and Afghanistan (as an undeclared asset).

Engler concludes with his explanation for why Canadian foreign policy is the way it is and how to change it. Canada has a long tradition of supporting imperialism and colonialism, from fighting with the British Empire in the 19th century to integrating militarily with United States today. He argues that the Canadian corporate elite and defense establishment have disproportionately dictated its foreign policy to the exclusion of Parliament and the public. For instance, Canadians were not consulted on the Canada First Defence Strategy released last June that committed the federal government to spend $490 billion on the military over the next 20 years. Further, Engler blames the media for embedding with the military and not adequately investigating policies and actions abroad.

To change course, Engler’s specific recommendations are to withdraw from NATO, cut the size and spending of the Canadian Armed Forces, and provide aid to the poorest people in the poorest countries. “Above all else it is key that Canadian aid should do no wrong,” he demands.

Engler’s recommendations align with Canadians’ views. Last year, Environics commissioned a survey that found that the majority of Canadians believed their country should make a positive contribution and respect international bodies that provide mechanisms for dialogue and co-operation. An internal poll prepared for National Defence, and obtained by the Canadian press, found that most Canadians view their soldiers as peacekeepers and would rather see them helping disaster victims than fighting. “While citizens of Canada, we are also neighbours to everyone who shares this planet. We must be good neighbours. That should be the underlying premise of Canada’s foreign policy,” writes Engler.

To be good neighbors, The Black Book of Foreign Policy compels Canadians to stay informed, to care, and to hold their federal government to account.

Tamara Lorincz is a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. To purchase the book: http://blackbook.foreignpolicy.ca/  

“The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight.” — Michael Lind, To Have and to Have Not

Yes, of course, we all have very strong differences of opinion on many issues.

However, like our Founding Fathers before us, we must put aside our differences and unite to fight a common enemy. It has now become evident to a critical mass that the Republican and Democratic parties, along with all three branches of our government, have been bought off by a well-organized Economic Elite who are tactically destroying our way of life. The harsh truth is that 99% of the US population no longer has political representation. The US economy, government and tax system is now blatantly rigged against us.

Current statistical societal indicators clearly demonstrate that a strategic attack has been launched and an analysis of current governmental policies prove that conditions for a large majority of Americans will continue to deteriorate. The Economic Elite have engineered a financial coup and have brought war to our doorstep. . . and make no mistake, they have launched a war to eliminate the US middle class.

Unless we all unite and organize on common ground, our very way of life and the ideals that our country was founded upon will continue to unravel.

Before exposing exactly who the Economic Elite are, and discussing common sense ways in which we can defeat them, let’s take a look at how much damage they have already caused.

I: ”Economic Terrorism”: Surveying the Damage

America is the richest nation in history, yet we now have the highest poverty rate in the industrialized world with an unprecedented amount of Americans living in dire straights and over 50 million citizens already living in poverty.

The government has come up with clever ways to down play all of these numbers, but we have over 50 million people who need to use food stamps to eat, and a stunning 50% of US children will use a food stamp to eat at some point in their childhood. Approximately 20,000 people are added to this total every day. In 2009, one out of five US households didn’t have enough money to buy food. In households with children, this number rose to 24%, as the hunger rate among US citizens has now reached an all time high.

We also currently have over 50 million US citizens without healthcare. 1.4 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2009, a 32% increase from 2008. As bankruptcies continue to skyrocket, medical bankruptcies are responsible for over 60% of them, and over 75% of the medical bankruptcies filed are from people who have healthcare insurance. We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world, we are forced to pay  twice as much as other countries and the overall care we get in return ranks 37th in the world.

In total, Americans have lost $5 trillion from their pensions and savings since the economic crisis began and $13 trillion in the value of their homes. During the first full year of the crisis, workers between the age of 55 – 60, who have worked for 20 – 29 years, have lost an average of 25% off their 401k. “Personal debt has risen from 65% of income in 1980 to 125% today.” Over five million US families have already lost their homes, in total 13 million US families are expected to lose their home by 2014, with 25% of current mortgages underwater. Deutsche Bank has an even grimmer prediction: “The percentage of ‘underwater’ loans may rise to 48 percent, or 25 million homes.” Every day 10,000 US homes enter foreclosure. Statistics show that an increasing number of these people are not finding shelter elsewhere, there are now over 3 million homeless Americans, the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is single parents with children.

One place more and more Americans are finding a home is in prison. With a prison population of 2.3 million people, we now have more people incarcerated than any other nation in the world – the per capita statistics are 700 per 100,000 citizens. In comparison, China has 110 per 100,000, France has 80 per 100,000, Saudi Arabia has 45 per 100,000. The prison industry is thriving and expecting major growth over the next few years. A recent report from the Hartford Advocate titled “Incarceration Nation” revealed that “a new prison opens every week somewhere in America.”

Mass Unemployment

The government unemployment rate is deceptive on several levels. It doesn’t count people who are “involuntary part-time workers,” meaning workers who are working part-time but want to find full-time work. It also doesn’t count “discouraged workers,” meaning long-term unemployed people who lost hope and don’t consistently look for work. As time goes by, more and more people stop consistently looking for work and are discounted from the unemployment figure. For instance, in January, 1.1 million workers were eliminated from the unemployment total because they were “officially” labeled “discouraged workers.” So instead of the number rising, we will hear deceptive reports about unemployment leveling off.

On top of this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently discovered that 824,000 job losses were never accounted for due to a “modeling error” in their data. Even in their initial January data there appears to be a huge understating, with the newest report saying the economy lost 20,000 jobs. TrimTabs employment analysis, which has consistently provided more accurate data, “estimated that the U.S. economy shed 104,000 jobs in January.”

When you factor in all these uncounted workers — “involuntary part-time” and “discouraged workers” — the unemployment rate rises from 9.7% to over 20%. In total, we now have over 30 million US citizens who are unemployed or underemployed. The rarely cited “employment-participation” rate, which reveals the percentage of the population that is currently in the workforce, has now fallen to 64%.

Even based on the “official” unemployment rate, just to get back to the unemployment level of 4.6% that we had in 2007, we need to create over 10 million new jobs, and most every serious economist will tell you that these jobs are not coming back. In fact, we are still consistently shedding jobs, on just one day, January 27th, several companies announced new cuts of more than 60,000 jobs.

Due to the length of this crisis already, millions of Americans are reaching a point where the unemployment benefits that they have been surviving off of are coming to an end. More workers have already been out of work longer than at any point since statistics have been recorded, with over six million now unemployed for over six months. A record 20 million Americans qualified for unemployment insurance benefits last year, causing 27 states to run out of funds, with seven more also expected to go into the red within the next few months. In total, 40 state programs are expected to go broke.

Most economists believe that the unemployment rate will remain high for the foreseeable future. What will happen when we have millions of laid-off workers without any unemployment benefits to save them?

Working More for Less

The millions struggling to find work are just part of the story. Due to the fact that we now have a record high six people for every one job opening, companies have been able to further increase the workload on their remaining employees. They have been able to increase the amount of hours Americans are working, reduce wages and drastically cut back on benefits. Even though Americans were already the most productive workers in the world before the economic crisis, in the third quarter of 2009, average worker productivity increased by an annualized rate of 9.5%, at the same time unit labor cost decreased by 5.2%. This has led to record profits for many companies. Of the 220 companies in the S&P 500 who have reported fourth-quarter results thus far, 78% of them had “better-than-expected profits” with earnings 17% above expectations, “the highest for any quarter since Thomson Reuters began tracking data.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median wage was only $32,390 per year in 2008, and median household income fell by 3.6% while the unemployment rate was 5.8%. With the unemployment rate now at 10%, median income has been falling at a 5% rate and is expected to continue its decline. Not surprisingly, Americans’ job satisfaction level is now at an all time low.

There are also a growing number of employed people who, despite having a job, are still living in poverty. There are at least 15 million workers who now fall into this rapidly growing category. $32,390 a year is not going to get you far in today’s economy, and half of the country is making less than that. This is why many Americans are now forced to work two jobs to provide for their family to hopefully make ends meet.

A Crime Against Humanity

The mainstream news media will numb us to this horrifying reality by endlessly talking about the latest numbers, but they never piece them together to show you the whole devastating picture, and they rarely show you all the immense individual suffering behind them. This is how they “normalize the unthinkable” and make us become passive in the face of such a high causality count.

Behind each of these numbers, is a tremendous amount of misery, the physical toll is only outdone by the severe psychological toll. Anyone who has had to put off medical care, or who couldn’t get medical care for one of their family members due to financial circumstances, can tell you about the psychological toll that is on top of the physical suffering. Anyone who has felt the stress of wondering how they were going to get their child’s next meal or their own, or the stress of not knowing how you are going to pay the mortgage, rent, electricity or heat bill, let alone the car payment, gas, phone, cable or internet bill.

There are now well over 150 million Americans who feel stress over these things on a consistent basis. Over 60% of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck.

These are all basic things that every person should be able to easily afford in a technologically advanced society such as ours. The reason why we struggle with these things is because the Economic Elite have robbed us all. This amount of suffering in the United States of America is literally a crime against humanity.

Cheney Pleads Guilty To War Crimes

February 16th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

As I have pointed out periodically since 2005:

The War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal statute set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2441, makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national, whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment.

The statute applies not only to those who carry out the acts, but also to those who order it, know about it, or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute applies to everyone, no matter how high and mighty.

***

Indeed, even the lawyers and other people who aided in the effort may be war criminals; see also this articlethis one, and this press release.

As Robert Parry – the reporter who broke the Iran-Contra story for the Associated Press and Newsweek - pointed out last week:

Cheney pronounced himself “a big supporter of waterboarding,” a near-drowning technique that has been regarded as torture back to the Spanish Inquisition and that has long been treated by U.S. authorities as a serious war crime, such as when Japanese commanders were prosecuted for using it on American prisoners during World War II…

He answered with an emphatic “yes” when asked if he had opposed the Bush administration’s decision to suspend the use of waterboarding – after it was employed against three “high-value detainees” sometimes in repetitive sequences. He added that waterboarding should still be “on the table” today…

Speaking with a sense of impunity, he casually negated a key line of defense that senior Bush officials had hidden behind for years – that the brutal interrogations were approved by independent Justice Department legal experts who thus gave the administration a legitimate reason to believe the actions were within the law.

However, on Sunday, Cheney acknowledged that the White House had told the Justice Department lawyers what legal opinions to render. In other words, the opinions amounted to ordered-up lawyering to permit the administration to do whatever it wanted.

This is not entirely surprising. In 2005, e-mails revealed that Cheney pressured the U.S. Department of Justice to approve torture:

Dick Cheney and his lawyer, David Addington, pressured the Department of Justice in 2005 to quickly approve a torture memo that authorized CIA interrogators to use a combination of barbaric techniques during interrogations of “high-value” detainees, despite protests from former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, according to several of his e-mails released over the weekend.

Indeed, Cheney is the main guy who pushed for torture in the first place.

Cheney is also the guy who made the pitch to Congress justifying torture.

A former director of the CIA accused Cheney of overseeing American torture policies. And Colin Powell’s former chief of staff stated that Dick Cheney is guilty of war crimes for his role in facilitating torture.

Under any definition, Cheney ordered torture, knew about it, and failed to take steps to stop it. Therefore, beyond any shadow of a doubt, Cheney has violated The War Crimes Act of 1996.

Cheney is a Fugitive

As I wrote in 2005:

18 U.S.C. § 2441 has no statute of limitations, which means that a war crimes complaint can be filed at any time.

The penalty may be life imprisonment or — if a single prisoner dies due to torture — death. Given that there are numerous, documented cases of prisoners being tortured to death by U.S. soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan (see for example this report), that means that the death penalty would be appropriate for anyone found guilty of carrying out, ordering, or sanctioning such conduct.

That means that Cheney could be rounded up as a fugitive as long as he is alive, just like those old Nazis you see on the news.

Meanwhile, Back In The Real World …

The mainstream media has repeatedly interviewed Cheney and let him say that torture works without challenging him with tough questions.

That’s no different than interviewing Charles Manson and letting him argue – without challenge – that murder is a great thing.

In the real world – unlike in Cheney’s bizarro parallel universe:

Torture doesn’t work in providing information which will keep us safe

Torture actually reduces our national security

Most of those tortured were innocent

Torture has been used throughout history as a form of intimidation, to terrorize people into obedience, not for gathering information

The type of torture used by the U.S. in the last 10 years is of a special type. Senator Levin revealed that the U.S. used torture techniques aimed at extracting false confessions (see thisthisthisthis. and this)

The United States of Torture

Unfortunately, Cheney is not alone.

An FBI email declassified in December 2004 states that Bush signed an Executive Order authorizing torture (here is the list of documents obtained through a freedom of information act request, and take a close look, for example, at this one, which mentions the “executive order”).

An expert on Constitutional law said that only Bush could have authorized the torture which has occurred.

The general in charge of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said that Donald Rumsfeld and other top administration officials ordered that inhuman treatment and torture be conducted as part of a deliberate strategy. Pulitzer prize-winning Seymour Hersch agrees.

And torture is apparently still continuing under Obama.

By failing to demand that torture stop and those who ordered it – like Cheney – be held to account, Americans are complicit in war crimes, just like the Germans who failed to stand up to Hitler were complicit in crimes against humanity.

Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson And America’s 30-Year War

February 16th, 2010 by Rick Rozoff

On February 13 the United States and NATO led an assault with 15,000 Western and Afghan government troops against Marjah, a town in Helmand province with a population of 75,000. One soldier for every five civilians. The NATO contingent involved in the offensive includes troops from Britain, Canada, Denmark, Estonia and the U.S.   

In the opening hours of the massive attack, “the biggest air[borne] assault ever undertaken by coalition forces in the country,” [1] two rockets fired from a NATO High Mobility Artillery Rocket System slammed into a house outside Marjah and killed twelve civilians. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all U.S. and NATO Forces in the country, described the incident as “regrettable.”

An account from a British newspaper described the situation in the town after the assault began: “The populous Taliban stronghold of Marjah has, say residents, become a ghost town. Shops are shuttered, streets deserted and most inhabitants are hiding inside their mud-brick houses wondering when their ‘day of doom’ will come.” [2]

The operation is the largest staged by the U.S. and its NATO allies since the war in Afghanistan was launched in early October of 2001. It is the opening salvo in the plan for escalation of the counterinsurgency war in that nation announced by U.S. President Barack Obama at the West Point Military Academy last December 3. [3]

Obama’s strategy is based on the COMISAF (Commander International Assistance Security Force) Initial Assessment of General McChrystal issued on August 30, 2009. In that document the former head of the Joint Special Operations Command, from which post he took charge of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, presented the blueprint for transitioning from what had been designated a counterterrorist strategy to a counterinsurgency one.

There is no war without an adversary, and McChrystal identified the targets of the campaign that over 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops will soon be waging: “The major insurgent groups in order of their threat to the mission are: the Quetta Shura Taliban (05T), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HiG).” [4]

The last two groups are named after their founders and leaders, Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, respectively.

Haqqani and Hekmatyar lost an old friend and colleague on February 10, former 12-term U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson. The hero of one of the most successful American films of 2007-2008, Charlie Wilson’s War, he has been eulogized in the press and by his former partner in arming and training the likes of Haqqani and Hekmatyar – and Osama bin Laden – current U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 to 1989 and who said in a 1999 speech, “CIA had important successes in covert action. Perhaps the most consequential of all was Afghanistan where CIA, with its management, funnelled billions of dollars in supplies and weapons to the mujahideen….” [5]

Gates was referring to Operation Cyclone, the largest covert operation conducted by the CIA and indeed by any agency or nation. The full title of the book by George Crile the movie Charlie Wilson’s War is based on is Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History.

The bulk of the billions of dollars Gates boasted of supplying to arm the Pakistan-based Mujahideen was directed to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani. Those two are now identified by the same Pentagon that Gates heads up as two of the three targets of the world’s largest and longest war.

The day Charlie Wilson died, Gates celebrated him as “an extraordinary
patriot” for “liberating Afghanistan from Soviet occupation.” [6] On February 23 Wilson will receive a graveside service with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

As Gates praised his former colleague for playing a decisive role in arming and training the forces of Hekmatyar and Haqqani, so Wilson was effusive in his praise of both the latter.

During the first Afghan war of 1979-1992 Wilson was a guest of Jalaluddin Haqqani in eastern Afghanistan in 1987 and referred to his host as “goodness personified.” When after September 11, 2001 Haqqani was named number three on the U.S. most-wanted list after Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar, Wilson said: “That did give me pause for thought. But Haqqani took care of me, and I’ll never forget that. I’d love to see him again. I would try to persuade him that the Taleban was a force for destruction – which he definitely wasn’t.” [7]

Old friendships are the firmest.

An editorial in The Times of London two days after Wilson’s death was more measured than the uniformly laudatory obituaries and tributes in the American media – Britain has now lost more soldiers in Afghanistan than in any conflict since Korea and Malaya in the 1950s – reminding its readers that “In helping to beat the Soviet menace, Charlie Wilson unleashed a monster. The jihadi commanders who fought with the funds that he provided in Afghanistan remember the Congressman fondly. His fellow countrymen are now fighting the guerrillas that he helped to arm and the civilians who are suffering at their hands might be more reserved about his legacy.” [8]

The piece added:

“Wilson once described the warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani as ‘goodness personified’. Today the elderly commander is one of America’s most wanted terrorists.

“In the 1980s the self-proclaimed Holy Warrior, with close links to Osama bin Laden, was getting millions of American tax dollars to send Arab and Afghan volunteers into battle against Soviet troops. The CIA were his allies. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was another Islamist commander bankrolled by Wilson’s money. Today both men are in charge of militant networks responsible for countless attacks against US, Afghan and international forces.”

The Times quoted a former colleague of Hekmatyar saying of Charlie Wilson, “He really helped the Mujahidin.” [9]

Another British daily, The Telegraph, also commented on Wilson’s death on February 12: “Charlie Wilson’s War drew Osama bin Laden first to Peshawar in Pakistan and then into Afghanistan with his Arab jihadis. A key beneficiary was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose Hezb-i-Islami fighters form one of the most deadly factions in the Taliban-led insurgency today….” [10]

In 2003 the U.S. State Department designated Hekmatyar, the main recipient of America’s largest-ever covert military-intelligence operation, a “Specially Designated Global International Terrorist.” [11]

Haqqani is still active in the Afghanistan that Charlie Wilson and Robert Gates spent billions of dollars and provided an arsenal of weapons to “liberate.”

An Indian news agency wrote at the beginning of the year that “It has now been shockingly admitted that the suicide bombing that killed seven CIA employees in eastern Afghanistan this week was masterminded by warlord and one-time key CIA ally Jalaluddin Haqqani.”

“During the 1980s, Mr Haqqani was a respected commander battling, with Western support, against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. After they withdrew, he became a member of the US-approved coalition that formed the post-occupation government.” [12]

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar became prime minister of what was left of Afghanistan in 1993-1994, immediately after the U.S. backed their Mujahideen clients’ takeover of the country in 1992.

Hekmatyar’s and Haqqani’s roles as ringleaders of the internecine bloodshed and violent anarchy that followed the defeat of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan are worth recalling in reference to repeated comments by Charlie Wilson and lately by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the only mistake the U.S. has made in Afghanistan over the past 30 years is – a rough paraphrase – “not staying to finish the job.” It is that lapse and no other action that Washington is now “redressing.” The follow up that Wilson envisioned was continuing to arm and fund the likes of Hekmatyar and Haqqani, after 1992 leaders of the ruling regime in Afghanistan.

Wilson’s chief partner in building the military forces of two of today’s three main insurgent groups the U.S. and NATO are waging an over eight-year war against was Gust Avrakotos, also celebrated in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War as a modern American “flawed but lovable” maverick hero/anti-hero.

Avrakotos, who died in 2005 and who “ran the largest covert operation in the agency’s history, was dubbed ‘Dr. Dirty’ for his willingness to handle ethically ambiguous tasks….Working with former Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Texas, Avrakotos eventually controlled more than 70 percent of the CIA’s annual expenditures for covert operations, funneling it through intermediaries to the mujaheddin.” [13]

Regarding the weapons that he and Wilson ran to their Pakistan-based allies, they “later were used in the fratricidal war in Afghanistan before the Taliban took control.

“Critics noted that those weapons probably still were in use, both in support of and against U.S. troops, when the United States went to war in Afghanistan in 2001.” [14]

Even though George Crile’s book documents that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani were the main recipients of U.S. military aid secured by Wilson and his counterparts in the CIA – including Robert Gates – neither is mentioned in the film version.

One criticism of the film points out that “The producers…imply that the chaos that ensued in Afghanistan after the war resulted from rogue forces taking over the country – ignoring the impact of their training in terrorist methods by the CIA (including specialization in high explosives).” [15]

An edition of U.S. News & World Report from 2008 provided details on Wilson’s relations with both Hekmatyar and Haqqani and the current activities of the last two.

“In recent weeks, Hekmatyar has called upon Pakistani militants to attack U.S. targets, while the Haqqani network is blamed for three large vehicle bombings, along with the attempted assassination of [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai in April….[T]hese two warlords – currently at the top of America’s list of most wanted men in Afghanistan – were once among America’s most valued allies.”

“In the 1980s, the CIA funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and ammunition to help them battle the Soviet Army….Hekmatyar, then widely considered by Washington to be a reliable anti-Soviet rebel, was even flown to the United States by the CIA in 1985.

“‘He was the most radical of the radicals,” recalls former Rep. Charlie Wilson…”

“U.S. officials had an even higher opinion of Haqqani, who was considered the most effective rebel warlord. ‘I adored Haqqani. When I was in Afghanistan, Haqqani was the guy who made sure I would get out,’ says Wilson. ‘He was a marvelous leader and very beloved in his territory.’

“Haqqani was also one of the leading advocates of the so-called Arab Afghans, deftly organizing Arab volunteer fighters who came to wage jihad against the Soviet Union and helping to protect future al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.” [16]

As seen above, Wilson, the “extraordinary patriot,” adored Jalaluddin Haqqani to his dying day. As The Time’s obituary of the former cited above stated, “[I]t is just possible that some of Wilson’s friends might soon be friends of America again.” [17]

Wilson’s other partner, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, “was…a renowned opium smuggler and warlord, and was alleged to have sprayed acid in the faces of women who did not wear the veil. One of [Hekmatyar's] colleagues referred to him as ‘a true monster,’ though he allegedly impressed the CIA (revealing something of its character) by wanting to take the war against the Soviets to Central Asia and roll back communism in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

“One CIA officer said, ‘We wanted to kill as many Russians as we could, and Hikmatyar seemed like the guy to do it.’” [18]

The second to the last paragraph reveals another aspect of the first U.S. Afghan war, that it not only intended to drive Soviet forces out of the country, overthrow the government there and install the CIA’s Mujahideen clients, but to extend the war into the Soviet Union.

After the film Charlie Wilson’s War was released in late 2007 accounts surfaced of other U.S. officials instrumental in arming America’s current adversaries in Afghanistan. The book The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand by Paul Kengor and Patricia Clark Doerner details the role of President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Adviser from 1982-1983 and “his work on behalf of Afghan rebels to Polish rebels to Nicaraguan rebels and much, much more.”

A review of the volume reveals that “Clark and Reagan quietly authorized the [mujahedin] rebels to cross the Amu Dar’ya River that marked the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, where the rebels fought the Soviet Union on its own territory….Specially trained rebel units operating inside the USSR, equipped with high-tech explosives from the CIA, sabotaged Soviet targets. They derailed trains, attacked border posts and laid mines.” [19]

A quote from the book states “These were strikingly bold, risky moves – some of the most dangerous action of the entire history of the 40-year Cold War….” [20]

Another account of Wilson’s activities mentioned that “the mujahideen in Pakistani camps were trained to wage a war of urban terror, with instructions in car bombings, bicycle bombings, camel bombings and assassination. According to Charlie Wilson, this was the one morally unambiguous crusade of our time.” [21] (That Wilson’s name and any allusion to morality could be combined in the same sentence is astonishing. Suffice it to recall that although he represented a poor congressional district in Texas, Wilson spent millions of dollars on international junkets for a steady succession of mistresses, alcohol, cocaine and most every species of debauchery.)

The extraordinary American patriot and cinema hero Wilson said of his efforts in the 1980s, “This is the one chance to send the Soviet young men
home in body bags like they sent our boys back in body bags. Let’s make this a Vietnam for the Soviets.” [22]
 
Within weeks of the Hollywood lionization of Wilson, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, in 1981 the first American journalists allowed back into the Afghan capital and the future authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, wrote a letter to the Boston Globe to debunk the growing Wilson myth.

The authors said, “we continue to be amazed at how the American disinformation campaign built around the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan lives on.

“Fact: Covert funding for the mujahideen began long before the Soviet invasion, not after.

“Fact: This covert aid was intended to lure the Soviets into the Afghan trap and hold them there, not drive them out, as claimed by Wilson.

“It is well documented that Wilson’s war prolonged Afghanistan’s agony for another six years, provided a secure multibillion-dollar technological training base for Islamic terrorism, and set the stage for a privatized heroin industry of historic proportions.

“The problem was in the conceptual framework created by America’s Cold War policy makers in the first place that made Afghanistan the bleeding ground it remains to this day.” [23]

A review of the couple’s 2009 book Afghanistan’s Untold Story included these details:

“Having gone to great lengths to draw them into Afghanistan in the first place (beginning as early as 1973), the US wanted the Soviets to stay so that their mujahideen proxies could deliver a mortal blow to the ‘Evil Empire.’

“As the Cold War deepened and the Afghans drew closer to the Soviets, US
interest in the country increased proportionately. Afghanistan would soon become a battleground on which the fantasies of Washington’s Cold War policy planners would be played out.

“Invisible History also shows how covert US meddling began as early as 1973
under president Nixon, following the ouster of King Zahir Shah by Mohammad
Daoud. The US had not even extricated itself from its own Vietnam War when such plans were afoot as part of the ‘Chinese-Iranian-Pakistani-Arabian peninsula Axis’ to give the Soviets theirs.” [24]

William Blum’s translation of a 1999 Le Nouvel Observateur interview with the original architect of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, former Carter administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, confirms Fitzgerald’s and Gould’s contentions.

His admissions included:

“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.

“That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”

“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?” [25]

A few months after the film that made Charlie Wilson a celebrity, one that has been viewed by several tens of millions of Americans and to one degree or another approved of by most all of them, Wilson said that he could “think of nothing I would have done differently.”

The newspaper that interviewed him and obtained the quote wrote, “Never mind that many of the mujahedeen guerillas that the former U.S. representative from Texas helped arm…wound up as the very Taliban leaders who shaped the violent and radical Islamic fundamentalism that dominated Afghanistan….Never mind the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaida.” [26]

A news dispatch in early 2006 announcing that the movie rights for Charlie Wilson’s War had been obtained by Universal Pictures mentioned in passing that “Many of the men armed by the CIA went on to become the Taliban’s enforcers and Osama bin Laden’s protectors.” [27]

Wilson, like Brzezinski, had no regrets. No regrets for what the brutal guerrillas whose training and arming he arranged in Pakistan in the 1980s have done to Afghanistan and its people. No regrets that foreign fighters among them spread out to Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans, North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Empire builders have neither time nor inclination for regrets. The terrorism/counterterrorism strategy, tenuously and self-servingly linked with weapons of mass destruction, drugs and now piracy, has over the last decade alone gained the U.S. and its NATO allies military bases and camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Djibouti, Seychelles, Uganda, Mali, Bulgaria, Romania and Colombia.

There will soon be more U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan – 150,000 from fifty nations – than there ever were Soviet troops in the 1980s. The Western military forces were not invited into the country by any government or any political faction. There is no Charlie Wilson in the U.S. Congress calling for the forcible expulsion of foreign occupation forces, barely anyone there even asking for their peaceful withdrawal.

But Wilson’s project for a second Vietnam-style war may well be realized. America’s second Vietnam.

Notes

1) Agence France-Presse/Reuters, February 14, 2010
2) The Independent, February 15, 2010
3) Nobel Committee Celebrates War As Peace
   Stop NATO, December 8, 2009
   http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/nobel-committee-celebrates-war-as-peace
5) Washington Post, September 21, 2009
   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/21/AR2009092100110.html
5) BBC News, December 1, 2010
6) U.S. Department of Defense, February 11, 2010
7) The Times (London), January 12, 2008
8) The Times, February 12, 2010
9) Ibid
10) The Telegraph, February 12th, 2010
11) United States Department of State, Febuary 19, 2003
12) Asian News International, January 2, 2010
13) Washington Post, December 26, 2005
14) Ibid
15) Jeremy Kuzmarov, Charlie Wilson’s War, the Culture of Imperialism and
    the Distortion of History
    History News Network, December 31, 2007
16) U.S. News & World Report, July 11, 2008
17) The Times, February 12, 2010
18) History News Network, December 31, 2007
19) The Village News (California), January 10, 2008
20) Ibid
21) Myra MacDonald, Revisting America’s war in Afghanistan
    Reuters, September 26, 2008
22) Ibid
23) Boston Globe, January 11, 2008
24) Anthony Fenton, Behind the Afghan propaganda
    Asia Times, May 2, 2009
25) http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
26) Salt Lake Tribune, April 23, 2008
27) Reuters, January 11, 2006

NATO Airstrikes in Afghanistan Kill Civilians

February 16th, 2010 by Stop NATO

McCarthyism in Canada: Gaza Photo Expo Threatened with Closure

February 16th, 2010 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Montreal – On Monday, Feb. 15th, the critically acclaimed Human Drama in Gaza Photo Exposition in Montreal was threatened with closure by Gestion Redbourne PDP Inc., the real estate management firm owning the property housing the Exposition.  A legal representative of Redbourne, Lieba Shell, sent an email late in the day to the exposition host, Cinema du Parc, ordering the removal of the exposition and threatening legal action if the exposition were not taken down by evening.  Cinema du Parc and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) – the producer of the exposition – asserted through their legal advisor, Mark H. Arnold, that such threats from Redbourne were not lawful. 

Human Drama in Gaza was launched in mid-January, and received very positive reviews in several media.  Redbourne, however, demanded the removal of the exposition based on a paragraph in the lease that Cinema du Parc has with Redbourne relating to “purely cinemagraphic use” of the premises.  Arnold, however, asserted that the cinema’s hosting of a photo exposition would very much constitute cinemagraphic use of the premises.  Officials with Cinema du Parc also pointed out that the cinema has hosted dozens of photo expositions in the past several years, and has never had a complaint from Redbourne, the landlord. 

“This move on the part of Redbourne is clearly political,” declared Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME.  “Cinema du Parc is known for its ongoing expositions which touch on important issues of social concern, and Redbourne never had an issue in the past.”  Last week, both Cinema du Parc and Place du Parc (the shopping mall housing the cinema and owned by Redbourne) received emails and calls from individuals unhappy with the Human Drama in Gaza exposition.  The complaints accused the exposition of being anti-Israel, but stopped short of questioning the credibility of the exposition content.  “The suffering of the 1.5 million people of Gaza is an important social issue like any other,” asserted Woodley.  “The fact that certain people wish to stifle open discussion on Gaza is even more a reason to bring the debate out into the open.” 

According to CJPME, the exposition itself seeks to put a human face to the misery of the people of Gaza, and the poignant resilience of a people facing severe adversity.  The captions accompanying the photos cite statistics and legal analyses of Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza of last winter.  The legal advisor to CJPME pointed out that if security forces from Redbourne were to attempt to forcibly remove the exposition, they would be considered trespassers.  As such, Arnold concluded, the “Cinema staff have been advised to immediately call the police.”  

For more information, please contact:
Grace Batchoun
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: (514) 745-8491
CJPME EmailCJPME Website
 

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region. 

Human Rights: Scandalous Treatment of Roma in Kosovo

February 16th, 2010 by Global Research

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA — Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg called for an end to forcible return of Roma to Kosovo.

After his second visit in ten months to the contaminated Roma camps in Česmin Lug and Osterode, Hammarberg said that the situation had not changed, and called for an urgent evacuation of the settlements.

“The fact is that these camps have been inhabited for an entire decade is scandalous. The international community is partly to blame for this situation,” Hammarberg said.

He said that the lead contamination posed a very serious danger for the people and children of the community.

“New, safe housing is needed for about 600 people, in order to close the camps. They all need immediate medical care as well,” he said.

Hammarberg said that he is concerned about the fact that Europe is implementing a forcible return of Roma to Kosovo.

According to UN statistics, 2,500 people from EU countries were returned to Kosovo in 2009.

Some of the Roma forced to go back to the province were sent to the contaminated camps, most of them being from Austria, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

“I am calling on European countries to stop the forcible return until Kosovo is ready to secure the necessary conditions of life, medical care, education, social services and jobs,” he said.

He reminded that Kosovo has already signed readmission agreements with several countries.

“In Kosovo alone there are 20,000 internally displaced persons and the unemployment rate is at about 50 percent, which clearly shows that Kosovo still lacks the infrastructure needed to allow a sustainable reintegration of refugees,” Hammarberg said.

He added that some of the refugees have lived in other countries for a long time and have children that were born in European countries, speak the languages of these countries fluently and have no ties to Kosovo.

“The result is that many refugees are trying to return as soon as they can to the countries they used to live in,” the commissioner said.

In a report published last summer, Human Rights Watch said that the Roma district in the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica was attacked by ethnic Albanians in June 1999.

“By June 24, the district had been looted and burned to the ground, and its 8,000 inhabitants had fled. Many were resettled by the UN in camps in a heavily contaminated area located near a defunct lead mine. The move was originally intended to be temporary, yet about 670 Roma still live in camps near the site, with damaging consequences for their health,” said the report.

French Soldiers Used as Nuclear Guinea Pigs

February 16th, 2010 by Global Research

The French newspaper le Parisien reports that France used thousands of its soldiers as guinea pigs during nuclear tests.

Le Parisien bases its report on a secret army document from 1998. During tests in the Sahara desert and Algeria, soldiers were deliberately exposed to radiation to see how army units would react to a nuclear attack. Some of the soldiers were placed at a distance of just 275 metres from a radiation source. Many of the soldiers later developed cancer or other radiation-related diseases.

At the end of last year, the French government promised compensation to victims of nuclear tests in Algeria between 1960 and 1966. Defence Minister Hervé Morin says he has no knowledge of the secret document quoted by le Parisien. France has conducted a total of 210 nuclear tests, the last of which was held in French Polynesia in 1996.

World Economic Crisis and Military Expansion

February 16th, 2010 by Global Research

News Coverage of Venezuela and World News
The Orinoco Post (Venezuela) International English Edition
- 2010-02-20

The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy
Review of Yves Engler’s Book
- by Tamara Lorincz – 2010-02-16


“Economic Terrorism”: The Consequences are Poverty and Mass Unemployment
- by David DeGraw – 2010-02-16


Spying for Dollars: Military Contractors and Security Firms Reap Huge Profits
As the Defense Budget Soars, Billions of Dollars are Channelled Offshore to Avoid Paying Taxes
- by Tom Burghardt – 2010-02-15


“We Are The World”: New World Order Hollywood “Feel Good” Initiative
Is “We Are The World” What’s Needed Now? The Challenges the Stars Do Not Address
- by Danny Schechter – 2010-02-15


The Media Response to the Growing Influence of the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Part II: A Survey of Attitude Change in 2009-2010
- by Elizabeth Woodworth – 2010-02-15

Increasingly, the issue is treated as a scientific controversy worthy of debate, rather than as a “conspiracy theory” ignoring science and common sense.


Clinton Co-ordinating Haiti Relief
Clinton: Time to Take a Break – and give Haiti one at the same time.
- by Julie Webb-Pullman – 2010-02-15

A Group of American Jews has launched a Campaign “to Break the Law of Return” to Israel
- by Abby Zimet – 2010-02-15

Rwanda: Kagame Says Criticism of Genocide Law is “Nonsense”
- 2010-02-15


GLOBAL RESEARCH FUNDRAISING INITIATIVE FOR HAITI
Supporting Grassroots Organizations in Haiti
- 2010-02-15


Neuroscience and National Security: The Complex Relationship between Science and the Military
The military commonly enlists science in its efforts. But when science is humanity, the relationship gets a little stickier
- by Emily Badger – 2010-02-15


Award Winning Movie: “SUPERPOWER”:
Order the DVD Online from Global Research
- by Barbara-Anne Steegmuller – 2010-02-15


World Economic Crisis: Latvia’s Neoliberal Madness
- by Prof Michael Hudson, Prof. Jeffrey Sommers – 2010-02-15

New Cold War? Russia to Supply S-300 Anti-aircraft Missile Defense System to Iran
Moscow Sees No Reason to Default on S-300 Contract
- 2010-02-14


Politics or Religion? Christian Manifesto’s Primary Target is President Barack Obama
‘Christian’ Manifesto Gathers Signatures
- by Peter Montgomery – 2010-02-14


America, the Land of Inequality
- by Tom Eley – 2010-02-14


White House Projects Long-Term Mass Unemployment
Democrats prepare paltry “jobs” bill
- by Joe Kishore – 2010-02-14

Bumper Sticker of the Year: Be Nice to America or We’ll Bring Democracy to Your Country
- 2010-02-14


Iraq: St. Valentine’s Day Massacres: Still Ongoing
- by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2010-02-14

EU to Start Training of 2,000 Somali Troops in Uganda
- 2010-02-14

US-NATO-Israel Military Agenda; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen to Discuss Iran in Israel
- 2010-02-14

15,000 Troops Involved in Massive Operation in Southern. Afghanistan
- 2010-02-14

US “Missile Shield” in Bulgaria Threatens Russia
- 2010-02-14

Stop Monsanto’s GMO Contamination
- 2010-02-14

Military Buildup? Israeli Warships on Way to Persian Gulf
- 2010-02-14


Will Obama’s Record War Budget Lead to a US Victory in Afghanistan? Don’t Bet On it?
- by Jack A. Smith – 2010-02-14


Surveillance Drones To Zap Protesters Into Submission
- by Paul Joseph Watson – 2010-02-14

Controlling the Ability of People and Organizations to Access the Internet
- by Bob Chapman – 2010-02-14

China’s Monetary Moves Undercut Crude Oil Rally
- by Darrell Delamaide – 2010-02-14


Beyond the World Social Forum
Interview with Eric Toussaint
- by Igor Ojeda – 2010-02-14

US ‘Star Wars’ Lasers Bring Down Ballistic Missile
- by Ewen MacAskill – 2010-02-13

Yanukovych Confirms No Plans to Take Ukraine into NATO
- 2010-02-13


The Goal of Modern Propaganda: Mythocracy
- by Cindy Sheehan – 2010-02-13


NATO Expansion, Missile Deployments And Russia’s New Military Doctrine
- by Rick Rozoff – 2010-02-13


The U.S “Odious Debts” used to Finance Illegal Wars
Refuse to Pay Government Debt Incurred for Unlawful and Oppressive Purposes …
- by Washington’s Blog – 2010-02-13


It Is Now Official: The U.S. Is a Police State
- by Paul Craig Roberts – 2010-02-13


Indicting the Supreme Court
- by Prof John Kozy – 2010-02-12

The Supreme Court has taken its task to be the “constitutionalization” of an immoral and rapacious economic system instead of the promotion of justice and liberty.


Economic and Social Crisis: Olympic Flame Parades Through Ravaged Northern British Columbia
- by Roger Annis – 2010-02-12

After Romania And Poland, U.S. Recruits Bulgaria For Missile Shield
U.S. to discuss Bulgarian missile shield role: PM
- 2010-02-12


Who demonizes Eritrea and why?
- by Mohamed Hassan – 2010-02-12


Europe’s Five “Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States”
Are Turkey, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy Nuclear Powers?
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2010-02-12

Are Turkey, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy Nuclear Powers?

Chile: Discrimination directed against the Mapuche Indians
Mapuche Set Up Autonomous Legal Defence Unit
- by Pamela Sepúlveda – 2010-02-12


The Sovereign Debt Crisis: A Greek Economic Crisis is Coming to America
- by Niall Ferguson – 2010-02-12


VIDEO: Is the US a Police State?
- by Paul Craig Roberts – 2010-02-12


Israel’s war on protest
Army used to deport activists against the Wall
- by Jonathan Cook – 2010-02-12


The Useless Logic of Round Numbers: A Massacre is a Massacre, a War of choice is a Crime
- by Ramzy Baroud – 2010-02-12


Army to Discharge Single Mom, Rather Than Court-Martial Her
- by Dahr Jamail – 2010-02-12


Socialism or Barbarism: the Choice is Ours
- by Finian Cunningham – 2010-02-12


Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment
A Review of book by Alexey Yablokov, Vassily Nesterenko, and Alexey Nesterenko
- by Dr. Rosalie Bertell – 2010-02-12


Can Capitalism Save Haiti ?
- by Shamus Cooke – 2010-02-12


Weeping for Gaza
David Halpin reaches out to the people of Gaza
- by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2010-02-12


H1N1- Swine Flu: A Post Mortem
- by Michael Werbowski – 2010-02-11

VIDEO: The Real Story Behind Israel’s Invasion of Gaza: Deliberate Attacks against the Civilian Population
- by Goldstone Facts – 2010-02-11

New Balkans Wars on the Horizon
Part II
- by Dr. Pyotr Iskenderov – 2010-02-11


Somalia: How Colonial Powers drove a Country into Chaos
Interview of Mohamed Hassan
- by Grégoire Lalieu, Michel Colon – 2010-02-11

China Dumps dollar denominated Risk Assets
- by David Goldman – 2010-02-11

Serbia confronts Kosovo over Partition
Belgrade to International Community: Condemn Warmongering
- 2010-02-11

“Scars of Genocide”: Rwandan Government Attempts to Silence Opposition
- by Peter Valk – 2010-02-11


Big Food Inc. will do everything to stop you talking about this
Interview with Robert Kenner
- by Laura Sevier – 2010-02-11


Yes, America is Still in an Official State of Emergency
- by Washington’s Blog – 2010-02-11


Global Economic Crisis: Look To Asia for The Financial Tsunami Wave, Not Europe
- by Matthias Chang – 2010-02-11

Great Game Playing Field: Russia/Turkey versus Palestine/Israel
- by Eric Walberg – 2010-02-11


Divide and Rule in the U.S.A.: One cannot Rule the World without Keeping One’s Own Nation under Control
- by Jay Janson – 2010-02-11


NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
- by Rick Rozoff – 2010-02-11

Iran’s leaders, said President Obama “will face growing consequences. That is a promise.”


U.S.: Court-Martial for Soldier Who Wrote Angry Song about Stop-Loss
- by Dahr Jamail – 2010-02-11

Embarrassment: British Government Acknowledges Torture of Guantanamo Detainee by US Officials
Binyam Mohamed Torture Appeal Lost by UK Government
- 2010-02-11

Canada’s Copy and Paste NED: Foundation for “Political Warfare” Takes Cue from U.S. Strategy
- by Anthony Fenton – 2010-02-10


Law Suit against 4 US Presidents & 4 UK Prime Ministers for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity & Genocide in Iraq
Statement on Closure of Legal Case for Iraq in Spain
- by BRussells Tribunal – 2010-02-10

Statement on Closure of Legal Case for Iraq in Spain

Extrajudicial Killings: US Government “Death List” for American Citizens
- by Prof. Francis A. Boyle – 2010-02-10


To Tea Or Not To Tea
- by Joel S. Hirschhorn – 2010-02-10


VIDEO: War and the Economy: We Must Take our Countries Back
We can’t give in and we can’t give up
- by Cynthia McKinney – 2010-02-10

The Theft of Haiti’s National Sovereignty
- by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2010-02-10


The Inflationary Depression
- by Bob Chapman – 2010-02-10


The Democrats, the Deficit, and Social Security
- by Shamus Cooke – 2010-02-10


Redundant UK Inquiry Re-Exposes Iraq War Lies
- by David Swanson – 2010-02-10


Why the Oscars are a Con
- by John Pilger – 2010-02-10


The 700 Military Bases of Afghanistan
Black Sites in the Empire of Bases
- by Nick Turse – 2010-02-10


Food: New Bill Repeals Key Sections of Dietary Supplement Health
Senator McCain Files New Bill
- 2010-02-10


Canada’s Supreme Court : Torture as Foreign Policy: the Omar Khadr Decision
- by Gail Davidson – 2010-02-09

China PLA Officers Urge Economic Punch Against U.S.
- 2010-02-09

A military strike on Iran would be a big mistake; the problems linked to Iran’s nuclear program must be resolved only by diplomatic means, Vladimir Nazarov, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told Interfax news agency in an interview.

“Any military action against Iran will explode the situation, will have extremely negative consequences for the entire world, including for Russia, which is a neighbor of Iran,” he said.

The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran’s nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran.

After the 1979 revolution, the Iranian government temporarily disbanded elements of the program, and then revived it with less Western assistance than during the pre-revolution era. Iran’s nuclear program has included several research sites, a uranium mine, a nuclear reactor, and uranium processing facilities that include three known uranium enrichment plants.

Iran’s first nuclear power plant, Bushehr I, was expected to be operational in 2009. There are no current plans to complete the Bushehr II reactor, although the construction of 19 nuclear power plants is envisaged. Iran has announced that it is working on a new 360 MWe nuclear power plant to be located in Darkhovin. Iran has also indicated that it will seek more medium-sized nuclear power plants and uranium mines for the future.

Moscow — Russia and Nicaragua are gearing up for joint military exercises, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced today during his visit to Managua. According to the Russian official, such cooperation will allow the two countries to fight drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime, the Mayak radio station reported today.

Lavrov also indicated that “Russia and Nicaragua are in the process of forming investment cooperation, which is expected to expand after the signing of an agreement on the mutual protection of investments.”

Afghanistan: If the Enemy Vanishes — Kill Civilians

February 16th, 2010 by Robin Beste

The civilian deaths in Kandahar and Marjah are a brutal reminder of the heavy price many Afghans will pay in the months and years to come to save the face of those responsible for prosecuting a futile and unjustifiable war.

NATO’s current offensive in the Afghan town of Marjah is being portrayed as a low casualty mission in the “good war” to get rid of the Taliban.

If you were to believe the news broadcasts, it’s already a success.

Since the assault was always intended to be as much a publicity stunt as serving any military objective, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown will certainly be pleased at how the media has snapped into line and acted as stenographers for Nato press releases.

The truth is, most of the few hundred Taliban fighters in Marjah vanished well before the much touted offensive began, not being stupid enough to face up to 15,000 of the most heavily armed troops on the planet.

Much of what we’ve seen on the TV screens looks like random firing into empty space to give the cameras footage for the evening news bulletins.

But, with very few enemy to engage, it wasn’t long — two days in fact– before tragedy struck when a missile attack looking for Taliban to kill managed to slaughter 12 civilians, five of them children — the very people this war was supposedly tailored to keep out of harm’s way.

The attack on Marjah is no different from the numerous other Nato “clear, hold and build” missions — except in the number of troops and the amount of media ballyhoo.

And there’s no reason why this should be different in the outcome, with the Taliban withdrawing tactically and biding its time, before infiltrating back into the town once the overblown Operation Moshtarak and its accompanying media circus, has moved on to some other flashpoint of resistance to foreign occupation.

The only reason the invading armies continue fighting a war that cannot be won is in the hope that some escape route can be found from Obama and Brown’s “war of necessity” that restores Western powers’ credibility for invading other countries with impunity.

While the media concentrated all its resources on reporting the instant “success” in Marjah, yet another act of mass murder took place in the Kandahar province, with five civilians killed by a Nato air strike when they were assumed to be “persons planting an IED explosive device”, recalling another “regretable incident” last August in the same region, when a group of farmers were killed loading cucumbers onto a lorry, which were mistaken to be munitions.

The civilian deaths in Kandahar and Marjah are a brutal reminder of the heavy price many Afghans will pay in the months and years to come to save the face of those responsible for prosecuting a futile and unjustifiable war.

The Great Bi-Partisan Deception

February 16th, 2010 by Shamus Cooke

Some cancer is too aggressive even for chemotherapy. The US political system is infected with such a disease; and we may be witnessing the first death spasms.  In a country ravaged by war and economic crisis, with tens of millions of people suffering, politicians are capable of doing absolutely nothing to help ordinary people.  The only two “achievements” of the Democrat’s super majority in the Senate — over the course of five months — were an ineffectual stimulus package and a “surge” of troops in Afghanistan.  

 

Now the two party system is reshuffling to pursue a joint mission.  Policies that the corporate elite have been planning for decades are in the process of being implemented.  The recession is being used as the ultimate excuse to gut Medicare, Social Security, public education and other social services while expanding war, corporate tax breaks and corporate health care. 

Typically, the Republicans leave the really dirty work to the Democrats, who enforce pro-corporate policies by exploiting their political capital with labor and community groups — while somehow managing to emerge “the lesser of two evils.”  This is why Bill Clinton was left with the task of “reforming” welfare and implementing NAFTA.   In regards to “reforming” Social Security, Bush looked into the abyss and got scared; better to let the Democrats play with that fire.  

Obama, then, is being left to perform the dirtiest of missions.  He refuses to do it alone.  This is the motive behind his never-ending plea for “bi-partisan cooperation.”  While the Democrats had a super majority in the Senate and huge House majority, Obama never stopped begging the Republicans to join him.  And, yes, Obama understands that the Republicans hate him, insult him in public, and are betting high stakes on his failure. Still, he needs them to bear some of the political weight that comes with attacking popular social programs.  The Republicans will likely meet Obama in the middle over many of these key issues; they don’t want to miss this historic opportunity to implement ideas they’ve been advancing for years through right-wing think tanks.     

 

Thus, the Democrats worked with the Republicans in the Senate finance committee to create the still-pending corporate health care bill.  The upcoming “bi-partisan health care summit” will likely be used to get further Republican support for this giant corporate giveaway.  If the bill is then passed, the millions of people forced to buy shoddy health care will have both parties to denounce.      

 

The Democrats also recently worked with the Republicans to create a corporate-oriented jobs bill, which focuses on tax breaks and credits for businesses.  This bill — reduced to only 15 billion dollars by the Democrats — cannot guarantee that one new job will be created.  Both parties, however, agreed that actually creating jobs should take a back seat to catering to the needs of corporations. 

 

In regard to education, Obama’s plan — disingenuously named Race to the Top — dismantles public education.  The essence of this plan was taken from the longtime conservative ideas of replacing public schools with private charter schools and imposing teacher merit pay; both will decimate public education and teachers’ unions, as was done in both New Orleans and Chicago.  U.S. News declared that “Republicans and Democrats can Embrace Obama’s Race to the Top for Education” (December 2, 2009).  Indeed, Republicans have remained largely quiet about the plan, while secretly taking credit for an idea that goes far to the right of Bush’s No Child Left Behind. 

 

When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, Obama is going forward with his “bi-partisan deficit reduction committee.”  And the purpose of this committee? The corporate-friendly Wall Street Journal correctly called it the “Political Cover Commission.” 

“A gang of 10 Democrats and eight Republicans would be charged to come up with ways to reduce the deficit. The idea is for everyone to hold hands and agree to raise taxes and cut entitlement spending together [Medicare, Social Security, etc.], so neither party gets the blame.” (January 21, 2010).    

In this case, the Wall Street Journal’s motivation for truth telling is to warn Republicans of the political fallout for such a move.  The Journal would rather the Democrats take total blame for their corporate motivated policies.  And this may be what ends up happening.  

 

The Republicans may end up forcing the Democrats to go it alone in implementing crucial aspects of the above right-wing agenda.  One way the Democrats have threatened to go solo is through the process of “budget reconciliation,” which allows them to bypass a Republican filibuster. The Philadelphia Inquirer explains:  

“Democrats in the House and Senate can pass health-care reform — and the rest of Obama’s agenda — by insisting on majority rule instead of the 60-vote supermajority that it lost in the Senate with the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts.” (February 14, 2010).   

Such a bold move would be commendable if it were to be used to help average people.  Instead, it will be used to shift massive amounts of wealth away from the working class toward corporations.  If the Democrats accomplish this sinister feat alone, the Republicans will be seen as the populist party of opposition, while the Democrats will enter political oblivion.   

 

To ensure the Democrat’s fall, a final prop must be removed.  Labor unions and community groups must refuse future support to this corporate-owned party.  In the meantime, these groups must unite in opposition to the above bi-partisan agenda.  A massive education campaign is needed to inform workers about the coming assault on their long-cherished social programs.  Social Security, Medicare, and public education, etc., must be saved by ending wars and bank bailouts, and by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. 
 

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).  He can be reached at [email protected]

Jewish Settlements in Jaffa

February 16th, 2010 by Jonathan Cook

Over the past few days graffiti scrawled on walls around the mixed Jewish and Arab town of Jaffa in central Israel exclaims: “Settlers, keep out” and “Jaffa is not Hebron”.

Although Jaffa is only a stone’s throw from the bustling coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv, Arab residents say their neighbourhood has become the unlikely battleground for an attempted takeover by extremist Jews more familiar from West Bank settlements.

Small numbers of nationalist religious Jews, distinctive for wearing knitted skullcaps, have begun moving into Jaffa’s deprived main Arab district, Ajami, over recent months.

Tensions have been simmering since a special seminary was established last year in the heart of Ajami for young Jewish men who combine study of the Bible with serving in the Israeli army. Many such seminaries, known as “hesder yeshivas”, are located in the occupied territories and have earnt a reputation for turning out extremists.

Last week Ajami’s residents were dealt a further blow when an Israeli court approved the sale of one of the district’s few remaining building plots to B’Emuna (Hebrew for “with faith”), a construction company that specialises in building subsidised homes for religious families, many of them in West Bank settlements.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the country’s largest human rights law centre, which petitioned the courts on the Arab residents’ behalf, called the company’s policy “racist”.

B’Emuna, which is expected to complete 20 apartments in the next few months, is applying for approval for a further 180, as well as a second seminary and a synagogue.

“We have no problem living peacefully with Jewish neighbours,” said Omar Siksik, an Arab councillor representing Jaffa in Tel Aviv’s municipality. “But these Jews are coming here as settlers.

“Like in Hebron, their policy is to weaken us as a population and eventually push us out of our homes,” he said, referring to a West Bank city where an enclave of a few dozen settlers has severely disrupted life for tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Jaffa’s fortunes have changed dramatically since early last century when it was the commercial hub of Palestine, famously exporting its orange crop around the world. During Israel’s founding in 1948, most of the town’s Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee, with the few remaining inhabitants confined to Ajami.

Today, Jaffa’s 18,000 Arab inhabitants are outnumbered two to one by Jews, after waves of immigrants were settled in empty homes during the 1950s.

Arab residents have long complained of being neglected by a municipality controlled from Tel Aviv. Ajami’s crumbling homes, ramshackle infrastructure and crime-ridden streets were on show in this year’s much-feted eponymous movie, nominated for an Oscar as best foreign-language film.

But the latest arrivals in Ajami are causing considerable anxiety, even from officials in Tel Aviv. Gilad Peleg, head of the Jaffa Development Authority, said he was “deeply concerned” at the trend of extremist organisations arriving “to shake up the local community”.

Nasmi Jabali, 56, lives in a modest single-storey home close to the olive grove where the new apartments will be built. “We’ve seen on TV how these settlers behave in the occupied territories, and don’t want them living next to us,” she said. “They’ll come here with the same attitudes.”

But despite widespread opposition, the Tel Aviv District Court last week rejected a petition from 27 residents who argued that the Israel Lands Authority had discriminated against them by awarding the land to B’Emuna, even though its policy is to build apartments only for Jews.

Yehuda Zefet, the judge, accused the residents of “bad faith” in arguing for equality when they wanted the interests of the local Arab community to take precedence over the interests of Jews.

Mr Siksik said the judge had failed to take into account the historical injustice perpetrated on Ajami’s population. “For six decades the authorities have not built one new house for the Arab population, and in fact they have demolished many Arab homes, while building social housing for Jews.”

Fadi Shabita, a member of the local Popular Committee for the Defence of Jaffa’s Lands, said the plots in Ajami being sold by the government originally belonged to Palestinian families, some of whom were still in the district but had been forced to rent their properties from the state.

“The land was forcibly nationalised many years ago and the local owners were dispossessed,” he said. “Now the same land is being privatised, but Ajami’s residents are being ignored in the development plans.

“For the settlers, the lesson of the disengagement [from Gaza in 2005] was that they need to begin a dialogue with Jews inside Israel to persuade them that a settlement in the West Bank is no less legitimate than one in Jaffa.”

B’Emuna told Israel National News, a settler website, that it was developing Jewish-only homes in several of the half dozen “mixed cities” in Israel to stem the flow of Jewish residents leaving because of poverty and falling property values caused by the presence of an Arab population.

B’Emuna has said it is looking to buy more land in Jaffa.

A short distance from the olive grove that is about to be developed is the Jewish seminary established last year. An Israeli flag is draped from the front of the building and stars of David adorn the gate at its entrance.

The manager, Ariel Elimelech, who was overseeing two dozen young men on Sunday as they pored over the Torah, said he commuted daily to Ajami from his home in Eli, an illegal settlement deep in the West Bank south of the Palestinian city of Nablus.

Mr Elimelech said he favoured coexistence in Jaffa but added that the seminary’s goal was to strengthen Jewish identity in the area. “We don’t call this place Ajami; it’s known as Givat Aliyah,” he said, using a Hebrew name that refers to the immigration of Jews to Israel.

He said the students performed a vital service by visiting schools to help in the education of Jewish children before performing 18 months of military service.

Kemal Agbaria, who chairs the Ajami neighbourhood council, said residents would launch an appeal to the Supreme Court and were planning large-scale demonstrations to draw attention to their plight.

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

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

The Obama administration is seeking to increase the obscenely bloated U.S. Defense Department budget to a whopping $708 billion for fiscal year 2011, 3.4% above 2010′s record level, The Wall Street Journal reported.

While the overall budget deficit will balloon to a staggering $1.6 trillion in 2011, the result of massive tax cuts for the rich, declining revenues, a by-product of capitalism’s economic meltdown, imperial adventures abroad and general corporate malfeasance (the old tax-dodge grift), the administration plans to cut $250 billion over three years from non-military “discretionary spending” on domestic social programs.

However, as the World Socialist Web Site points out: “President Barack Obama has done nothing to reverse decades of wage stagnation, mounting poverty, and attacks on the social welfare system. On the contrary, following George W. Bush, he has seized on the crisis to redistribute wealth to a tiny financial elite through the ongoing bailout of the finance industry.”

It is no small irony that despite stark budget figures and an even bleaker future for the American working class, Washington Technology reported January 28 that the “29 largest publicly traded defense contractors increased their use of offshore subsidiaries by 26 percent from 2003 to 2008.”

Citing reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), journalist Alice Lipowicz disclosed that the “subsidiaries helped the contractors reduce taxes, in part by avoiding Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes for U.S. workers hired at the foreign subsidiaries.”

Considering that the Pentagon hands out some $396 billion annually to contractors, outsourcing everything from “in theatre” construction in places like Afghanistan and Iraq to pricey “intelligence analysts” at secret state agencies, cash not spent on payroll taxes by dodgy firms slices another hole into the already-shredded social safety net.

Amongst the largest firms cited in GAO’s 2008 report, updated inJanuary 2010, Oracle Corp., operates in 77 tax havens; Boeing Co., 38; Dell Inc., 29; BearingPoint Inc., 28; Computer Sciences Corp., 21; Fluor Corp., 34; General Dynamics, 5; Harris Corp., 13; Hewlett-Packard, 14; Honeywell International, 7; ITT Corp., 18; L-3 Communications, 15; Sprint Nextel, 7.

Many of the firms are heavily-leveraged in the lucrative “homeland security” market and provide technology and “cleared” intelligence analysts, many of whom jumped ship from government service for richer, if more dubious employment, to a host of secret state agencies including the CIA, DIA, NSA as well as ultra-secretive outfits engaged in global satellite surveillance such as the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

You would think these firms, flush with record profits since the U.S. embarked on its “War on Terror” in 2001, would do something as pedestrian as paying their fair share of taxes or providing benefits to workers, given severe budgetary pressures on domestic programs, dizzying housing foreclosure rates and skyrocketing unemployment.

You’d be wrong, however; dead wrong.

An “Island Paradise” Where Profits Go to Hide

Despite fabulous riches showered on shareholders by taxpayers, the Military-Industrial-Security-Complex will not rest until every dime has been squeezed from the American people, swelling corporate abdomens well-past the bursting point.

In cinematic terms, think of America’s ruling elite as a horde of sociopathic zombies gobbling everything in sight. Instead of screaming “Brains!” as in Sam Raimi’s cult classic, The Evil Dead, corporate zombies cry “Cash! I Need Cash!” as they take down entire nations in one rapacious bite!

A new report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in January found, “Many of the top 29 U.S. publicly traded defense contractors–those with $1 billion or more in DOD contracts in fiscal year 2008–have created offshore subsidiaries to facilitate global operations. Between fiscal years 2003 and 2008, they increased their use of these subsidiaries by 26 percent, maintaining at least 1,194 in 2008.”

GAO auditors revealed that corporate subsidiaries in tax havens such as the Bahamas, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Bahrain, Netherlands Antilles, Jersey, Bermuda, the Channel Islands, Luxembourg, Macao, Lebanon, Liechtenstein and Cyprus “helped the 29 contractors reduce taxes, with about one-third decreasing their effective U.S. corporate tax rates in 2008 in part through the use of foreign affiliates, lower foreign tax rates, and indefinite reinvestment of foreign income outside of the United States.”

A convenient shell game since the “indefinite reinvestment of foreign income” isn’t taxable until its been repatriated to the United States. What do you think the chances are of thathappening any time soon?

As an added incentive that helped firms hit the old corporate “sweet spot,” the congressional watchdogs found that “companies principally used offshore subsidiaries to hire U.S. workers providing services overseas on U.S. government contracts in order to avoid Social Security, Medicare–known as Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)–and other payroll taxes. This practice allowed contractors to offer lower bids when competing for certain services and thereby reduce costs for DOD.”

Not that workers derived any benefit from this “special” arrangement; in fact, the use of off-shore tax havens by defense grifters had dire consequences when workers lost their jobs.

“In one state,” GAO auditors revealed, “we reviewed documentation for about 140 former employees of several contractors who were denied unemployment benefits in 2009. State workforce officials indicated these benefits were denied because the employees worked for a foreign subsidiary and not an American employer.”

Interestingly enough, many of the global hidey-holes used to shield corporate wealth from the IRS have long been identified by law enforcement investigators and political researchers as prime money-laundering venues for the international drugs trade.

This is hardly surprising. Considering the close proximity of U.S. covert operations, illicit arms- and drug trafficking, and general subversive activities carried out by the CIA and other members of the “Intelligence Community,” what better way for defense firms to keep it “all in the family” so to speak, then to stash war-derived loot in discrete locations.

As researcher Alan Block described the metastatic growth of the tax-haven phenomenon in his groundbreaking work, Masters of Paradise: Organized Crime and the Internal Revenue Service in the Bahamas, “professional criminals were those who took it upon themselves to organize crime. Their true work was the process of organizing crime itself.”

Block’s description is all the more appropriate considering that it is the American militarist state that “took it upon themselves” to organize corporate looting on a planetary scale. After all, resource wars, military interventions or the standing-up of death squad states through CIA fomented coups, directly benefit imperialism’s real, indeed only, constituents: U.S. multinational corporations.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

A futile exercise perhaps, given that our corrupt representatives in Congress, “change” Democrats and troglodytic Republicans alike, will do nothing to close tax loop-holes big enough to sail an aircraft carrier through.

And why would they, since the largest contributors flooding congressional campaign coffers with cold, hard cash are the same firms that reap the benefits of corporate-friendly tax codes, as the Center for Responsive Politics points out.

Just for kicks, let’s take a look at some of the worst malefactors, firms whose stated mission is to “protect” heimat citizens while inflating the bottom line through the creative use of foreign subsidiaries.

Aside from “taking advantage of foreign government markets for commercial work,” the GAO reports, “a key benefit of using offshore subsidiaries cited by contractors and other experts we spoke with was the ability to reduce overall taxes.”

Indeed, “one defense contractor’s offshore subsidiary structure decreased its effective U.S. tax rate by approximately 1 percent equaling millions of dollars in tax savings,” which of course did nothing to reduce America’s swelling deficit or ameliorate crashing social services for millions of workers.

GAO “identified some defense contractors that used subsidiaries registered outside the place of contract performance to support DOD service contracts abroad. These offshore subsidiaries had no staff or business activity where registered.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Netherlands Antilles or the Cayman Islands have ever been major manufacturing hubs producing ballistic missiles, spy satellites, supercomputers or other assorted goodies for the National Security State!

Typically however, GAO discovered that for “one contract task order we reviewed, more than 80 percent of the contractor’s staff were employed by its offshore subsidiary.”

Tellingly, “while five of the six contractors in our case studies said that reducing FICA tax payments was the primary reason for using offshore subsidiaries,” the auditors concluded that “this practice also allowed the contractors to reduce costs by avoiding state and federal unemployment insurance taxes for U.S. personnel working overseas.”

“For U.S. citizens performing certain work outside the United States,” we’re informed that “federal law requires only American employers to pay unemployment taxes; foreign subsidiaries are not defined as American employers under the law.”

Therefore if a worker is “let go,” the enterprising grifter is off the hook for unemployment payments. Pretty neat trick, eh!

Flying the Friendly Skies … With the CIA!

What do these studies tell us? It pays to have friends in high places! Let’s take a peek at just two of the 29 firms profiled in GAO’s 2010 report as well as their earlier 2008 investigation.

The Boeing Company (Boeing): Washington Technology listsBoeing as No. 2 on their Top 100 list of federal contractors with $10,838,231,984 in overall revenue.

Primary government contracts include projects for NASA, the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. One subsidiary, and contract, which the giant firm isn’t too keen on publicizing is Jeppesen International Trip Planning, the booking agent for CIA torture flights.

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, the firm is being sued by victims of the Bush administration’s illegal practice of “rendering” (kidnapping) so-called “terrorists” into the hands of torture-friendly regimes or to CIA “black sites” in Europe and the Middle East.

The ACLU’s landmark litigation on behalf of the victims,Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. seeks to hold the Boeing subsidiary accountable for planning and providing logistical support for CIA “ghost flights.” The Obama administration, like their Bushist predecessors oppose the suit on grounds that “vital state secrets” will be disclosed.

On February 10, the British High Court ordered Britain’s secret state to release documents disclosing MI5′s collaboration in Binyam Mohamed’s torture. Mohamed is a litigant in the ACLU’s suit against Jeppesen.

The Guardian reported that “MI5 faced an unprecedented and damaging crisis tonight after one of the country’s most senior judges found that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a ‘culture of suppression’ that undermined government assurances about its conduct.”

In response to the release of previously classified documents by the British government, as promised, the U.S. Government has threatened that the disclosure “would cloud future intelligence relations with Britain,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Meanwhile back in the heimat, Boeing and Jeppesen’s corporate officers continue to hold get-out-of-jail-free cards from the Obama administration.

As investigative journalist Jane Mayer revealed in The New Yorker back in 2006, Bob Overby, the managing director of Jeppesen International Trip Planning, said during a breakfast for new hires in San Jose, Calif., “We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights–you know, the torture flights. Let’s face it, some of these flights end up that way.”

Technical writer Sean Belcher blew the whistle on the firm and told Mayer that Overby, extemporaneously extolling the virtues for the corporatist bottom line, said: “It certainly pays well. They”–the CIA–”spare no expense. They have absolutely no worry about cost. What they have to get done, they get done.”

But facilitating CIA torture flights wasn’t the only, or even the most lucrative, enterprise driving Boeing’s close collaboration with the National Security State.

Little known outside the security industry, Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security division (DSS, formerly Integrated Defense Systems or IDS) is the firm’s intelligence unit.

With some 71,000 employees, most holding top secret clearances, DSS is probably the most profitable of the firm’s divisions with some $32 billion in revenues, about half of Boeing’s annual earnings.

According to investigative journalist and security analyst Tim Shorrock, writing on CorpWatch’s Spies for Hire collaborative research web site, DSS “has close ties with the NSA and the intelligence community’s signals intelligence units. It has an important office about a mile from the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, in an industrial park filled with NSA contractors.”

And within DSS, its most important intelligence unit is theAdvanced Global Services & Support division.

According to Boeing, Advanced Global Services & Support “is the advanced arm of the Global Services & Support business unit … responsible for driving the development, growth and transition of innovative, knowledge-based logistics capabilities for Global Services & Support. With a central focus on the emerging network-centric logistics marketplace, Advanced Global Services & Support is working on deploying integrated solutions for end-to-end (factory-to-foxhole) logistics. Its focus–’readiness transformation’.”

The unit provides “horizontal integration” for “Intelligence Community customers” such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

“In December 2007″ Shorrock writes, “Boeing formed a new Intelligence and Security Systems (I&SS) division that appears to combine many of the company’s services for foreign and domestic intelligence. Based in Washington, D.C., I&SS has a workforce of about 2,000 people at nine locations nationwide, and includes four program areas: Advanced Information Systems; Mission Systems; Security Solutions, which includes SBInet (the electronic wall being built on the US-Mexico border); and Advanced I&SS. According to a company press release, the new division ‘enables increased focus on the complex challenges faced by our homeland security and intelligence community customers. …I&SS will improve our ability to bring comprehensive, net-enabled capabilities to meet our customers’ dynamic requirements’.”

Much the same can be said of Boeing’s imaginative use of tax-havens. According to GAO’s 2008 study, Boeing maintained 38 foreign subsidiaries in major airline manufacturing hubs such as Bermuda (6); Cayman Islands (1); Gibraltar (2); Hong Kong (4); Ireland (4) Netherlands Antilles (2); Singapore (3); and U.S. Virgin Islands (16).

Spying for Dollars

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC): One of the largest defense contractors operating under the radar, CSC is No. 9 on Washington Technology’s Top 100 list of prime federal contractors with some $3,435,767,906 in revenue.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based outfit’s business includes consulting, systems integration and outsourcing, and their major customers include the Defense Department, NASA, Navy, Army, Air Force, Treasury Department, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation Department and Department of State.

In his essential book Spies for Hire, Shorrock has described CSC as “one of the NSA’s most important contractors,” managing “global information networks and produces and disseminates intelligence products, including specialized expertise in the area of imagery processing and archiving.”

“After 9/11″ Shorrock writes, “CSC formed a new business unit to go after homeland security and intelligence work,” including contracts with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Shorrock reveals that one of the “mission critical” consortiums that run DIA global operations “is managed by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). … The CSC team includes CACI International and L-3 MPRI. This last company is one of the largest private armies in the world, and would have at its disposal hundreds of paramilitary officers who would fit in exceedingly well with the DIA’s secret intelligence teams in the Middle East and North Africa.”

According to the firm’s web site, CSC’s Intelligence Analysis and Operational Support division “applies advanced information technology, expert knowledge, best practices, and business process improvement in all phases of the intelligence cycle (planning and direction, collection, processing, analysis and production, and dissemination).”

“At the enterprise level,” CSC informs us, “our prowess in systems integration, engineering, and consulting help create IT infrastructures and ways of doing business that put the right tools in the right hands at the right time, so that intelligence staffs and decision makers can get on with the business of protecting the country.”

With no end in sight, the data-mining growth curve continues along its merry way, integrating and analyzing the electronic communications of Americans “captured” by CIA, DIA, FBI, NCTC and NSA data miners and their partners in the telecommunications industry.

Accordingly, CSC “develops and integrates automated tools for unique requirements of specialized intelligence analysts.” Tools that enable secret state agencies to “Capture and mine information from multiple sources in multiple languages; Collaborate in real time with fellow analysts; Create models in which to store working data and test hypotheses; Discover insider threats by tracking network behavior; Automatically analyze and visualize complex data using intelligent software agents.”

As with hundreds of other firms who trade top secret security clearances as if they were trading cards, CSC provides “experienced, cleared intelligence professionals who perform intelligence analysis, database construction and population, editorial support and quality assurance, production and collection management, analytic tradecraft training, on-the-ground acquisition of unique data sets, and foreign language support.”

Conveniently, CSC has some 1,200 employees who they rent to the secret state at a premium price “who meet DCID 6/4 eligibility requirements and have access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) or Special Access Programs (SAPs),” i.e., Pentagon, CIA and NSA “black programs” only known by code words that escape congressional scrutiny, or indeed any democratic oversight.

The firm’s “Information Refinery” is touted as an “innovative approach to open source intelligence that captures multilingual information from the Internet and other publicly available sources, then mines, refines and translates it for use by government intelligence analysts and decision makers.”

Translation: CSC, on behalf of secret state “stakeholders” surveil web pages, blog posts and other electronic communications and “assist” spooks in transforming data, including First Amendment-protected free speech into grist for the “actionable intelligence” mill.

One would think a red-blooded, patriotic American firm like CSC would do their all for “God and Country,” and pay their fair share of taxes, considering the billions of dollars in contracts the firm has speared from the government. Think again, chumps!

GAO reports that CSC has 21 subsidiaries “in jurisdictions listed as tax havens” by the federal government. Some of the firm’s global operations are located in tech manufacturing powerhouses such as Bermuda (1); British Virgin Islands (4); Costa Rica (1); Hong Kong (5); Ireland (2); Luxembourg (2); Macao (1); Singapore (4); Switzerland (1).

Despite the fact that “DOD officials were aware of the roles offshore subsidiaries played in the DOD contracts we reviewed,” GAO investigators found that “contracting officials stated that the use of offshore subsidiaries did not negatively impact contract schedule or performance.”

After all, $708 billion does a lot of talking!

Twenty five years later, We Are The World is back, this time with 80 artists and a corporate sponsor, VISA, the credit card company to which so many Americans are in hock. No one can quibble with the intent of this feel-good act of musical solidarity, or the obvious need it addresses.

This is the third big star-studded help Haiti salute—MTV’s telethon shown on every channel, BET’s Miami-based largely black music salute and now this, the mega enchilada of big time charity fundraising events.

It is star studded and sentimental, conjuring up memories, and echoing a mission that matters. An attempt was made this time to highlight the issue in the video itself—or at least the need—with photographs and images of the catastrophe and the children from Haiti, as well as upbeat cutaways of people in the rubble singing along. Haitian editors were flown in to work on it, and Quincy Jones and Lionel Ritchie stayed true to the original, even including creator Michael Jackson’s 1985 performance.

Music critics are not all wowed with the Washington Post taking a whack in its review: “The updated take was horribly oversung….save for the 21st-century rap verses added toward the end of the track. One group rap-along, penned by Will.I.Am and led by LL Cool J, ends with a particularly platitudinous couplet: “We are the world connected by a common bond: Love! The whole planet is singing along.”

Unfortunately, unlike the Olympics, this is not a really global initiative with “the whole planet singing along.” It is an A-list Hollywood happening. Where are the musical representatives of the world? There are few artists from Haiti beyond the omnipresent Wyclef Jean, who has lived in America since he was 9. Why no musicians from Asia, The Middle East, Africa, or closer to home, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic or Cuba?

This is not just an entertainment or celebrity story. These artists are helping, perhaps the only way they know how by raising money. Some film stars have gone there and already contributed millions and, like Sean Penn, their time, to organizations that are on the ground.

The danger is that we believe that’s somehow the money and the good intentions will solve all the problems there. Millions have already been raised but the aid program has been flawed, uncoordinated, and even now, a month after the earthquake, not moving fast enough with rain on the way, inadequate shelter and the dangerous spread of infectious diseases like TB and typhus.

The disaster is actually deepening, leaving a suffering if strong people traumatized emotionally as well as physically.

Only 7% of the needed tents arrived as of last week. The UN’s appeal for agricultural/food help had a poor response. More than a million people are still sleeping in the streets and many who have had amputations or operations do not have adequate aftercare. You could feel the agony of committed TV journalists like Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta of CNN, who to their credit, went back to Haiti, but even their upbeat rescue stories often had depressing endings.

We saw a young girl saved by doctors from a brain injury. The operation was successful but her family has nowhere for her to stay and cannot afford the medicines she needs. Will she survive? Where will she recover? How will we know?

Reuters reports: “… a month later, the recovery is still largely in emergency response mode.

With the rainy season about to start, planning for shelters and new homes is not far along. There are now nearly 500 spontaneous tent encampments around the capital Port-au-Prince where most live under plastic tarps or cloth bedsheets.”

And that’s in the Capital which has received most of the aid while those in other cities or the countryside have not.

I know these multi-artist sing-alongs can have an impact. I have worked closely on three—Sun City, the anti-apartheid record and video that promoted change, not charity; a remake of John Lennon’s, ‘Give Peace A Chance,’ that tried but failed to stop the Gulf War, which most of our media supported; and then a remake of the classic hit, We Are Family, with 200 artists, that appealed for tolerance and an end of hate crimes after 9/11. Its concerns were considered “off message” and controversial at a time when the networks beat the drums for war and “payback.”

There is nothing controversial or angry about the new We Are The World, and that may be one off its problems because syrupy high profile celebrity events are now co-opted corporate-embraced commodities in our commercial culture. They are almost an expected Made in the USA genre, slick and all too often self-congratulatory commercials for compassion. They are effusively praised by the powers that be who pat all the high-profile artists on their heads, and then, in the end, ignore their passion. They also become one-shot stories and marketing vehicles.

Entertainment and popular culture are moving and valuable but ongoing popular education on the issues is more important. As the news cameras pack up, why can’t some money be set aside to back the independent website Relief and Reconstruction Watch which is monitoring what is being done in Haiti.

We need another professionally staffed website to insure public accountability and transparency on where all the money raised by international agencies, national governments and charities is going.

We need funds to hire, empower and train Haitians to become the watchdogs. We also need media outlets to put more Haitian voices on the air, not just as singers but as spokespeople for a people who have lost so much and are being treated only as victims, not architects of the future they need to create.

Haiti has to be in charge of what happens to Haiti. Reconstruction could take a decade.

We, in the world have to demand that We Are The World not be the final statement on this ongoing tragedy. More stirring has been the grassroots response wordwide and the people-to people aid projects that also need visibility and our help. We need act-alongs more than sing-alongs.

Danny Schechter, News Dissector, has been tracking the Haiti Story for his News Dissector Blog (Newsdissector.com/blog) on Mediachannel.org

Abstract

In the past year, in response to emerging independent science on the 9/11 attacks, nine corporate, seven public, and two independent media outlets aired analytic programs investigating the official account. 

 

Increasingly, the issue is treated as a scientific controversy worthy of debate, rather than as a “conspiracy theory” ignoring science and common sense.

 

This essay presents these media analyses in the form of 18 case studies.

 

Eight countries – Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Russia – have allowed their publicly-owned broadcasting stations to air the full spectrum of evidence challenging the truth of the official account of 9/11.

 

This more open approach taken in the international media – I could also have included the Japanese media – might be a sign that worldwide public and corporate media organizations are positioning themselves, and preparing their audiences, for a possible revelation of the truth of the claim that forces within the US government were complicit in the attacks – a revelation that would call into question the publicly given rationale for the military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

 

The evidence now being explored in the international media may pave the way for the US media to take an in-depth look at the implications of what is now known about 9/11, and to re-examine the country’s foreign and domestic policies in the light of this knowledge.

I.  Introduction

Until 2009, doubts about the official 9/11 story were briefly entertained by the mainstream media on each anniversary of the event, allowing the independent research community only a fleeting moment once a year to publicly voice its findings.

But after crucial scientific evidence emerged in April 2009 to challenge the official story of how the towers fell, a spate of European media reports followed.  The news coverage of this evidence seems to have opened the door to more serious reflection on all aspects of the 9/11 issue in the major media.

The first paper in my series, “The Media Response to 9/11,” dealt with the New Statesman’s grudging recognition of Dr. David Ray Griffin, the world’s “top truther” (as it dubbed him), placing him number 41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.”1  Since this admission in September 2009, the issue has gathered increasing momentum.  

The collective content issuing from this new momentum is presented here in the hope that it will embolden other major media to take up the pivotal controversy concerning 9/11, and pursuing the truth wherever it may lead.

Observations on the Analysis

While carrying out my analysis, I observed five new features in the media treatment of the 9/11 issue that developed as 2009 progressed.  They are listed here, so that readers might look for them in the case studies that follow below:

1. The 9/11 issue is increasingly framed not as conspiracy theories versus hard science, but as a legitimate controversy resting on unanswered questions and a search for truth.

2. News reports and television programs examining these controversies have become longer and more balanced.

3. Major media outlets have begun to present the claims of the truth movement first, followed by counter-arguments from defenders of the official story.

4. Major media outlets have begun to include, and even to introduce, extensive evidence to support the claims of the 9/11 truth community.

5. The media treatments increasingly suggest the possibility of a re-investigation into the events of September 11, 2001.

The first part of this essay deals with the crucial scientific evidence that emerged in early 2009, the significance of this evidence in relation to the official story of 9/11, and the immediate news coverage it received.

II.  Scientific Paper Finds Nano-thermite Explosives in World Trade Center Dust, April 3, 2009

A peer-reviewed paper published in the Open Chemical Physics Journal on April 3, 2009,2 reported that a little known high-tech explosive called nano-thermite was found throughout the World Trade Center dust. 

These physicists and chemists involved in this study discovered “distinctive red/gray chips in significant numbers”3 in four samples of dust collected from the area.  The presence of aluminum and iron oxide in the red material provided one of the signs that it might be nano-thermite, which is a high explosive (whereas ordinary thermite is an incendiary.)

Another clue was provided when putting a flame to the chips produced an explosive reaction.

On the basis of these and other observations, the team concluded that “the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material.”4

The article’s first-named author, Dr. Niels Harrit – a University of Copenhagen chemistry professor who specializes in nano-chemistry5 –explained on Danish TV2 News:

“Thermite itself dates back to 1893. It is a mixture of aluminum and rust-powder, which react to create intense heat. The reaction produces iron, heated to 2500 degrees Centigrade. This can be used to do welding. It can also be used to melt other iron.

“So in nano-thermite, this powder from 1893 is reduced to tiny particles, perfectly mixed. When these react, the intense heat develops much more quickly. Nano-thermite can be mixed with additives to give off intense heat, or serve as a very effective explosive.  It contains more energy than dynamite, and can be used as rocket fuel.

“You cannot fudge this kind of science. We have found it: unreacted thermite.”6 

What was the significance of this sophisticated material?

Reported Evidence that Nano-thermite is a Military Substance

In a German interview in May 2009, Dr. Harrit said: “There are no experts on nano-thermite without connections to the military…. This stuff has only been prepared under military contracts in the USA and probably in bigger allied countries. This is secret military research…It was not prepared in a cave in Afghanistan.”7

Chemist Kevin Ryan, another co-author, had reported in an earlier article that explosive nano-thermite, which may be painted onto surfaces, was developed by US government scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.8

A United States Department of Defense special publication confirms that work on these “energetic materials” has long been “performed in laboratories within all military services.”9

According to a June 2009 statement by Britain’s prestigious Institute of Nanotechnology,10 the Harrit study “provides indisputable evidence that a highly engineered explosive called nano-thermite was found in the dust of all three buildings that came down on 9/11 2001 in New York city. [sic] This advanced explosive incorporating nanotechnology is only available to sophisticated military labs.”11

It thus became known by mid-2009 that explosives of military origin, probably in the United States, had been involved in the World Trade Center collapses.

Early Coverage of the Nano-thermite Finding in the European Mainstream Press

Although the new scientific evidence against the official story of 9/11 was not reported in the mainstream British or North American media, it did receive attention in continental Europe.

The day the article was published, a thorough essay in the Danish journal Videnskab (Science) examined both sides of the controversy about controlled demolition.12

The same issue of Videnskab also carried an interview with Professor Harrit, who answered pointed questions about the peer-review history of the article, and the military nature of nano-thermite.13 

The following day, Denmark’s politiken.dk reported the scientific nano-thermite paper in an article called (in Danish) “Conspiracy theories about 9/11 get new life.”14

Then, the day after Professor Harrit’s April 6 interview Danish TV2 News, he was featured on the popular talk show, “Good Morning Denmark”, on which he said:

“The material we found is super hi-tech frontline military research.  It’s not a mixture of random chemicals.  It’s an advanced material which is difficult to get information on.  But some conference papers and internal reports have been published…There has to be a normal forensic investigation of this attempt.  Our research is high-level forensic work.  We have provided technical evidence that can be used in the future investigation.”15

On April 13, an online Croatian political newspaper posted the Danish TV2 video interview with Harrit along with an article titled “VIDEO: 9/11 No Longer Taboo Topic in Denmark”.16

Russia also took notice. On July 9, Laura Emmett, the London correspondent for RT, interviewed Dr. Niels Harrit for over 10 minutes. (RT, previously known as Russia Today, is a globally broadcast English-language channel sponsored by the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.  It reaches 1.5 million people monthly, including half a million Americans.)  Stating that “the evidence for controlled demolition is overwhelming”, Harrit reported that the nano-thermite reaction produced pools of molten iron beneath the rubble and inextinguishable fires that lasted for months.17

I turn now to ways that the mainstream news coverage of the case against the official story has changed since the appearance of the nano-thermite paper.

III.  The Changing Mainstream Media Treatment of 9/11 Evidence from early 2009 to early 2010:  18 Case Studies

Two February 2009 news items illustrate the wary mainstream attitude towards conspiracy theorists early in the year.  A New York Times article said about actor Daniel Sunjata:

The second episode of “Rescue Me’s” fifth season, starting in April, may represent the first fictional presentation of 9/11 conspiracy theories by a mainstream media company…Mr. Sunjata’s character delivers a two-minute monologue…describing a “neoconservative government effort” to control the world’s oil, drastically increase military spending and “change the definition of pre-emptive attack.”

Mr. Sunjata surprised some of the TV reporters when he said that he “absolutely, 100 percent” supports the assertion that “9/11 was an inside job.”18 

Fox News was somewhat less constrained, saying:

An upcoming episode of the drama “Rescue Me” is about 9/11 being an inside job. The actor who spews the theories on camera, Daniel Sunjata, actually believes in it too.

Look, the fact is, actors who barf this crap are doing it for their own egos. It makes them feel smart, because for once they’re spouting something provocative instead of puerile. Never mind that it’s an insidious insult to the victims of 9/11 – as it is to the rest of us, who may or may not be guilty, according to Sunjata’s theory.19

However, things started to change after the appearance of the nano-thermite paper on April 3, as may be seen from the following case studies of media reports, each of which is identified as having corporate, public, or independent ownership.

The case studies reveal the evidence which has been introduced into public consciousness during the past year.

Case Study 1:  The Dutch TV Mock Trial of Osama bin Laden, April 25, 2009

On April 8, 2009, a popular TV program called “Devil’s Advocate” held a mock trial of Osama bin Laden with lawyers arguing before a politically balanced civil jury of five people.

The case against bin Laden was argued by two real-world opponents:  former American correspondent Charles Groenhuijsen, and Dutch-American Glenn Schoen of a US security firm.  Real-world lawyer Gerald Spong acted as bin Laden’s defense attorney.20

Spong presented new evidence from a videotape of Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies Gernot Rotter, saying that the American translators who transcribed the bin Laden tapes of the November 9, 2001 “confession video” have “clearly added things in many places – things that are not there even when listening multiple times.”21

Spong won.  Although the jury found bin Laden to be a terrorist, it said there was no proof that he had ordered the 9/11 attacks.

Through this method, this program on AVRO – the Dutch public broadcasting organization – presented evidence, not previously seen in the major media, against the likelihood that bin Laden ordered the attacks.

On April 15, Fox News reported the Dutch jury findings in a long and unusually balanced article, in which former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was quoted six times, saying that bin Laden’s exoneration sent a “disturbing message” to the world and fueled conspiracy theories.  Giuliani variously called this message “bizarre,” “dangerous,” “aberrational,” “irrational,” and “unfortunate.”22

However, referring to Spong as a “well-known yet controversial attorney,” Fox mentioned him 10 times, and more substantively, reporting his evidence that the bin Laden videos seemed inauthentic, as well as his point that the FBI has not indicted bin Laden for the attacks.

Concluding Comment:  (AVRO is publicly owned, but Fox News is corporate.) Neither of these two mainstream treatments of doubts about the official story was broadcast on the customary anniversary date, and both reached millions of people.

Case Study 2:  Architect Richard Gage in Canada’s “Financial Post”,  April 25, 2009

One of Canada’s top four English-language newspapers, the conservative National Post, publishes its business section as the Financial Post.

Three weeks after the nano-thermite story broke, Jonathan Kay, a National Post columnist and editor with degrees in both engineering and law, wrote an article about Richard Gage, the “lucid” San Francisco architect who heads up the 1,000-strong “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.”23

Kay, who himself endorses the official story of 9/11, described Gage as a “respectable-looking middle-aged” architect, “complete with suit and tie, and receding hairline,” and reported that Gage’s organization “scored a booth at the upcoming American Institute of Architects conference from April 30 to May 2.”

In the midst of references to thermite reactions and iron-oxide-based explosives, Kay wrote of controlled demolitions:

“As radical as Gage’s theory may sound to readers, it’s surprisingly popular. The ’9/11 Truth Movement’…has millions of adherents across the world. Many believe that the World Trade Center was destroyed on Sept. 11 through controlled demolition set in motion by officials within America’s own government and military.”

Gage’s presentation was also described as “effective”:

“In one particularly effective segment, he puts up shots of the localized fires that broke out in the lower floors of WTC Building 7 hours before it collapsed. Seconds later, he shows footage of Beijing’s Mandarin Oriental hotel – which suffered an epic top-to-bottom conflagration in 2009…and remained standing.”

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate). Besides reporting Gage’s evidence without any attempted refutation, this corporate-press writer remarked that “no major media outlet has done a truly comprehensive profile or investigation of the Truther movement.” He thereby seemed to be suggesting that it is now time to take the 9/11 truth movement seriously.

Case Study 3:  Norwegian State Radio’s Public Debate on 9/11 Truth, May 21, 2009

Professor Harrit, who was lecturing in Norway in late May 2009, was interviewed by public radio program “Here and Now”,24 on NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation).

Harrit presented the findings of the nano-thermite paper, which were then discussed by three Norwegian scientists who did not support his conclusions.

Following the radio program, an extended email debate continued between Dr. Ola Nilsen, who teaches chemistry at the University of Oslo, and Dr. Steven Jones, a co-author of the nano-thermite paper who formerly taught physics at Brigham Young University.  This debate, during which Nilsen somewhat modified his original view, was posted to a Norwegian blogsite in English.25

Concluding Comment:  (Public). Although NRK in this April program challenged the findings of the Harrit paper, this was to change by late summer, as we shall see below.

Case Study 4:  Architect Richard Gage on Fox News, May 28, 2009

The hosts of Fox News on KMPH in Fresno, California, began their 7-minute interview by saying, “He’s an architect experienced in steel structures.  Now Richard Gage is…here to show us why he’s calling for a more thorough investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.”26

These two anchors actively encouraged Gage’s discussion of the ten key features of controlled demolition.  He was allowed to explain the free-fall acceleration of WTC 7 (shown on his two video frames as dropping at the same rate as a second building felled by controlled demolition) and the “uncanny” failure of 40,000 tons of structural steel columns that were designed to resist its collapse.

Although normal office fires were said to have caused the collapses, he explained, various firefighters had reported large pools of molten iron at ground level.

“What produced all that molten iron?” he asked. 

The answer, he said, was found in the inches of dust covering lower Manhattan.  “The by-product of thermite is molten iron and it’s dispersed throughout all this dust…and there are small chips of unignited thermite as well.  This is very high-tech thermite – nano-thermite.  It’s not found in a cave in Afghanistan; it’s produced in very sophisticated defense department contracting laboratories…[its] particles are one-thousand times smaller than a human hair.”

Asked whether bin Laden might have had access to the buildings, Gage said probably not – that someone else who had access to nano-thermite, and to the buildings’ security systems, would need to be investigated.  Someone who had access to the elevator modernization, which was going on nine months earlier and was “immediately adjacent to the core columns and beams in the building.”

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate). This Fox News show began by asking Gage about his credentials, saying “We ask that for clarification so that as we get into this, we want people to make sure that you’re not just someone with a wacky idea…you come with some science to you.” The program ended with a sincere thank-you to Gage for “opening up a lot to think about,” and an announcement that there is “a great deal of information” on the KMPH.com website.  In short, Gage was treated with the respect due to any serious participant in an important and controversial issue.

The next major mainstream event was the Russia Today program of July 9, 2009, which was covered above, so we will move directly to the anniversary period of September 2009, when further evidence of the impact of the nano-thermite discovery became apparent.

Case Study 5:  The National Geographic Documentary, “9/11: Science and Conspiracy”, August 31, 2009

In late August, 2009, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) aired a two-hour documentary, “9/11: Science and Conspiracy,” which sought to answer several questions, “What caused the collapse of the Twin Towers? Was it from the fires, or were explosives placed inside the buildings, causing them to implode? Did a missile, rather than a commercial airline jet, strike the Pentagon?”27

This “NatGeo” program purported to explore evidence about controlled demolition presented by the 9/11 truth movment.  It interviewed Dylan Avery (the maker of the “Loose Change” films), Richard Gage, David Ray Griffin, and Steven Jones. But in reality this NatGeo program was entirely devoted to debunking their claims by using pseudo-scientific demonstrations to refute claims that none of these men have made.

For example, in order to refute the claim that nano-thermite could have brought down the buildings, NatGeo used ordinary thermite (with the narrator explaining that they had no access to nano-thermite). Moreover, instead of using the thermite to make shaped charges, which can cut through steel, the NatGeo experimenter simply placed a bag of thermite next to a steel column and lit it. When the burning thermite (entirely predictably) did not melt the column, the narrator concluded, triumphantly, that science had disproved the claim of the conspiracy theorists.

A review in Media Life Magazine, while not fully exposing the phoniness of the program’s claim to represent “science,” did point out some shortcomings, saying:

Some of the issues raised by the truthers, however, aren’t addressed, or are addressed in brief asides. This leaves this documentary open to charges of picking and choosing which points to cover.  “9/11: Science and Conspiracy” spends too much time discussing the psychology behind conspiracy theories – which isn’t really a hard science.28

A review in the New York Post quoted Sander Hicks, a journalist who is openly a member of the 9/11 truth community, as saying that its representatives on the program “come off as careful and professional, unemotional, but compassionate about the truth,” and that the program, in spite of its faults, shows “that the topic is still relevant and that the case isn’t closed.”29

Concluding Comment: (Corporate). This program by National Geographic provides a good reminder of how the 9/11 truth issue has generally been handled by the corporately-controlled media. But it also demonstrates the fact that the controversy is very much alive in the major media.

Case Study 6:  Germany’s Weekly TV Guide, “TV Hören und Sehen,” August 31, 2009

“TV Hören und Sehen”, with a paid circulation of nearly a million copies, is owned by the Bauer Media Group, which publishes 308 magazines in 14 countries.  The TV magazine features interviews and articles by prominent German authors.30

It is therefore significant that on August 31, 2009, this magazine published “Die Geheimakten von 9/11″ (“The Secret Files of 9/11″) as a full double-page spread, continuing with photos on two subsequent pages.  It opened by saying: “9/11 is officially the largest criminal case in history – but classified documents and witness accounts are surfacing, that speak against the official versions of the CIA and Pentagon.”31

It then asks what force could pulverize 200,000 tons of steel in 11.4 seconds, quoting US engineer Neel Ginson:  “In order to bring down this kind of mass in such a short period of time, the material must have been artificially exploded outwards.” Ginson added that, looking closely, one can see small explosions in the Twin Towers always occurring before the floors are reached by the collapse line.  The fact that the towers were the first steel-frame buildings in the world to collapse because of fire, he added, was even admitted by NIST (the National Institute of Science and Technology, the government agency that produced the official reports).

Among many other questions, the article raises the issue of adjacent World Trade Center 7, the 47-storey steel-frame building with a base the size of a football field that collapsed at 5:20 PM the same day:  “But the official 9/11 investigation never mentions the building once.”

With reference to the Pentagon, this article asks:  How were the victims identified by their fingerprints, when even the airplane steel had melted?

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate).  Although this article does not specifically mention nano-thermite, it clearly suggests that artificial explosions brought down the buildings.  By not defending the official story at all, this large-chain corporate media outlet was among the first to give an open hearing to the independent 9/11 research community.

Case Study 7: Two California Newspapers Review the Role of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, September 2009

In September 2009, Metroactive (Silicon Valley’s number-one weekly magazine) and the Santa Barbara Independent, each published slightly different versions of a long article on the controversy surrounding the WTC building collapses.32

The Independent article – entitled “Twin Towers, Twin Myths?” – begins:

“One of the crucial technical disputes in American history, perhaps second only to global warming, is underway. It pits hundreds of government technicians who say the World Trade Center buildings were brought down by airplane impact against hundreds of professional architects and building engineers who insist that the Twin Towers could never have collapsed solely due to the planes and are calling for a new independent investigation. It is a fight that is not going away and is likely to get louder as more building trade professionals sign on to one side or the other.”33

The version in MetroActive – called “Explosive Theory” – says “[E]ight years after 9/11, a growing organization of building trades professionals suspect that there was more to the event than the government will admit.”  It then gives a short history of Gage’s now 1,000-strong organization, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE).34

Deputy Director Michael J. Heimbach of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, this article adds, had recently acknowledged in a letter to the organization that Gage’s presentation is “backed by thorough research and analysis.”

One local AE member was quoted as saying “it takes too much energy” – energy that was not there – to collapse the buildings at free-fall speed, given the resistance that steel offers.  This was borne out, this member continued, by a team of scientists “working at technical laboratories in the United States and Denmark [who] reported in April that analysis of dust …gathered at the World Trade Center found evidence of the potent incendiary/explosive ‘super thermite,’ used by the military.”

Almost half of this article deals with the controversy over whether nano-thermite was used, with most of the space allotted to evidence supplied by the 9/11 Truth Movement.  Near the end, however, spokesman Michael Newman is brought in to defend NIST’s research, saying there was “no need” to test the dust for thermite.  

But the last word was given to engineer Ed Munyak of AE, who said:

“The fact is that the collapses don’t resemble any fire-induced behavior of structures, but it exactly mimics a controlled demolition, so why not investigate that? It’s all very suspicious and that’s why an independent investigation is needed so we can all learn from this.”

“Explosive Theory” also focuses pointedly on the growing number of professional organizations and retired officials calling for a new investigation, including:

…two dozen retired U.S. military brass and eight former U.S. State Department officials, along with a number of Republicans who have served in high federal positions since President Reagan, including former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts and former Reagan administration Assistant Defense Secretary (and retired Marine Corps colonel) Ronald D. Ray.

The version in the Santa Barbara Independent concludes with an unusually candid observation:

And how would America deal with such an investigation against the backdrop of suppositions that some officials in government were complicit? This idea is virtually unthinkable to most of the public, much less something the American political system can handle…The forces of denial, in the system and in most of our minds, are innately powerful and probably sufficient to mitigate against a reopened investigation. Despite this, [Richard] Gage [of AE] sees his role as provoking a better investigation.

Concluding Comment:  (Independent). The authors of this article, rather than referring to “conspiracy theorists,” present the 9/11 issue as a “technical dispute” of historic importance. Both versions of the article represent a 180-degree turnaround in American newspaper reporting, providing a useful introduction to the long-ignored research by independent professionals. The Santa Barbara Independent, curious about public opinion rather than seeking to hide it, published a local poll asking if conspiracy was behind the collapses: 75% of respondents answered “yes”.35

Case Study 8: Dr. Niels Harrit on NRK1′s “Schrödinger’s Cat,” September 10, 2009

NRK1 is the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s  main TV channel. It’s program “Schrödinger’s Cat”, which is about scientific research and technology, comes on every Thursday following the evening news.  It has won several awards, and averages 487,000 viewers.

For the September 10 program, Dr. Harrit was interviewed for about ten minutes in his office and laboratory at the University of Copenhagen Nano-Science Center, where he demonstrated the magnetic quality of a WTC dust sample.  He also showed videotape of molten iron flowing from the upper South Tower, which was iron, not aluminum (which melts at a much lower temperature than steel or iron).  Emphasizing that an office fire, even if fed by jet fuel, could not possibly get hot enough to melt steel, thereby producing iron, he concluded that the flowing iron had to have been caused by something such as nano-thermite, which produces “an enormous amount of heat”, and molten iron is created in the process, with a temperature of  4530 F.36

Although Harrit did not know who placed the explosives, he said, he had no doubt that a crime had occurred.

In the final third of the program, three other people were asked for comments.  Two of the people tried to cast doubt on Harrit’s conclusions, but their comments were weak, even absurd.  An architect argued that the energy from the airliners brought the Twin Towers down and then Building 7 came down because the collapse of the towers acted like an earthquake to weaken the ground.  American buildings are weak, he explained, because they don’t use reinforced concrete.

Finally, Dr. David Ray Griffin has stated that “for scientists and people who study the facts, the official story about the Twin Towers is completely ludicrous, but for the general public it has seemed plausible.  Jet fuel fires – they seem so hot.  Jet fuel’s just kerosene.”

Concluding Comment:  (Public). This prime-time coverage by Norway’s largest TV channel was quite a turnaround from the earlier NRK radio coverage in May.  Most of the time was given to Drs. Harrit and Griffin; the content was groundbreaking; and the opposing views were obviously insubstantial. Considering Norway’s NATO membership and military participation in the US-led operations in Afghanistan, the program could prove to be significant.

Case Study 9 : London’s “Daily Mail” asks  whether Osama bin Laden is Dead, September 11, 2009

This long and detailed article opens with the menacing bin Laden audiotape of June 3, 2009, timed to coincide with Barack Obama’s arrival on his Middle East tour, and then moves to the new Anglo-American offensive to “hunt and kill” the al Qaeda leader.

But, the Daily Mail asks, what if bin Laden isn’t alive? 

What if everything we have seen or heard of him on video and audio tapes since the early days after 9/11 is a fake – and that he is being kept ‘alive’ by the Western allies to stir up support for the war on terror?

Incredibly, this is the breathtaking theory that is gaining credence among political commentators, respected academics and even terror experts.37

Professors Angelo Codevilla of Boston University and Bruce Lawrence of Duke University point out that the early, verifiable videotapes of bin Laden do not match the tapes that have emerged since 2002 – and even one in late 2001.

Telltale distinguishing features include a changed facial structure and increasing secularism in the content of the messages.

The article then presents the findings of Dr. Griffin’s book on the topic –  Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? – as “provoking shock waves”.

This book presents evidence that bin Laden died, probably due to kidney failure, in mid-December 2001, which would mean that his taped messages since then have been faked to “stoke up waning support for the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Perhaps the most controversial of all the tapes was released by the Pentagon on December 13, 2001, claiming that it had been found in a home in Jalalabad. Prior to this tape, bin Laden had, while praising the 9/11 attacks, consistently denied responsibility for them. But the bin Laden of this tape boasts about having planned them.

President Bush, the Blair Government, and the mainstream media all hailed this message as offering conclusive proof of bin Laden’s guilt.

The Daily Mail, however, points to various reasons provided in Griffin’s book to believe that the man in this video was an imposter. It refers to the existence of a “highly sophisticated, special effects film technology to morph together images and vocal recordings.”

And it quotes Griffin as saying: “The confession tape came exactly when Bush and Blair had failed to prove Bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11 and both men were trying to win international public support, particularly in the Islamic world, for the anti-terrorist campaign.”

Far from seeking to ridicule Griffin’s book, the Daily Mail concluded thus: “[T]he Bin Laden tapes have emerged with clockwork regularity as billions have been spent and much blood spilt on the hunt for him.  Bin Laden has been the central plank of the West’s ‘war on terror’. Could it be that, for years, he’s just been smoke and mirrors?”

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate). This 2400-word article is the first serious mainstream coverage the evidence that Osama bin Laden is dead – and has been for many years.

Case Study 10.  The New Statesman announces Dr. David Ray Griffin as No. 41 in “The Fifty People who Matter Today,” September 24, 2009

Two weeks after the Daily Mail article, a second corporate British publication put Griffin in 41st place in a list of people who “matter today.”38

Because this article was discussed in my earlier paper, Part I of this series, it is mentioned here only as a significant milepost, one that gave (grudging) recognition to the fact that the movement challenging the official account of 9/11 can no longer be ignored.

Its impact on the media is shown by the fact that the New Statesman placed Dr. Griffin (who scores 200,000 results when googled) above Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez, (who scores over 11 million results) on its list of influential people.

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate). Although the New Statesman called the movement represented by Dr. Griffin “pernicious”, its evaluation of his importance represents a point of no return in the media coverage of 9/11 – as we shall see.

Case Study 11:  Jean-Marie Bigard on France 2 Public Television, October 28, 2009

Back in September 2008, Jean-Marie Bigard, France’s most popular stand-up comedian, was led to apologize for claiming 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government.39  But by July 2009, Bigard had started to post  humorous videos on his website ridiculing the official account of the September 11 attacks. 

In October 2009, Bigard and award-winning French filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz appeared for an hour in a debate on France 2, the publicly owned French national television channel.40

The hosts, who had refused to include the scientist who was originally supposed to be on the show (Dr. Niels Harrit) attempted to center the debate on “straw man” theories that neither Bigard nor Kassovitz held. This led to arguments, which then allowed Le Figaro, France’s second largest newspaper, to dismiss the debate as “noisy sophistry”.41

Concluding Comment:  (Public). Although this program was aimed at debunking the 9/11 movement, as shown by its refusal to include a scientist, the fact that it was aired on this state-owned network was a breakthrough, ending the era in which 9/11 questioning was ignored in France.

Case Study 12: “The Unofficial Story”,  by CBC’s The Fifth Estate, November 27, 2009

On November 26, 2009, Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail, noting in an objective review42 that the 9/11 truth movement is “gathering steam,” reported that a documentary airing that evening “follows up on some fairly startling public-opinion polls of late.”

It was referring to “The Unofficial Story”,43 a program in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s weekly award-winning investigative series, The Fifth Estate.44

Host Bob McKeown, himself a recipient of multiple awards45, opened by saying that eight years after the “most scrutinized day in history”, there may be “more questions than ever”, and that an increasing number of people now believe the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks. “Incredibly”, he adds, “public opinion polls now show that a majority of Americans believe the Bush Administration had advance knowledge of those attacks, and one way or another allowed them to happen, and polls show that one Canadian in three believes that, too.”

“The Unofficial Story” then allows leading members of the 9/11 truth community to present a spectrum of evidence on various issues:

Architect Richard Gage on how the towers were brought down by controlled demolition

Canadian scientist A.K. Dewdney on the impossibility of cell phone calls at high altitude

David Ray Griffin on the FBI’s 2006 admission that, although US  Solicitor General Ted Olson had reported receiving two calls from his wife, CNN commentator Barbara Olson on Flight 77, the evidence indicates that she attempted only one call and that it was “unconnected” and hence lasted “zero seconds”

Dr. Griffin and Canadian media commentator Barrie Zwicker on the military’s explanation of why it did not intercept the airliners

9/11 documentary filmmaker Craig Ranke on the fact that footage of the Pentagon attack is virtually unavailable to the public in spite of many cameras trained on the building

Dewdney on evidence that Flight 93 was shot down by the US military

Richard Gage on the presence of nano-thermite in the World Trade Center dust

In response, defenders of the official account, such as Johnathan Kay (of Canada’s National Post) and 9/11 Commission counsel John Farmer, focus more on why the American public is susceptible to conspiracy theories, than on the disputed evidence itself 46 – although Kay does credit Richard Gage for being involved in a serious quest for truth.

Jim Meigs, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics, also directs comments against the skeptics themselves rather than their evidence.  Conspiracy theorists, he says, are deluded by “the myth of hyper-competence” in relation to the failure of the US Air Force to intercept the planes.

However, Brent Blanchard, presented as a demolition expert, argues against the controlled demolition theory by producing seismographs showing the absence of spikes that, he says, would have been produced by explosions. 

He also expressed concern that people around the world, by reporting US government complicity in 9/11 “as fact”, are affecting how people view America.

But actor Daniel Sunjata (of “Rescue Me”) ponders the price of not asking the hard questions:  “Sometimes boils need to be lanced. Sometimes poison needs to be brought to the surface in order for real healing to take place.”

McKeown concludes: “We did it not to promote one side or the other, but to shine some light on some of those unresolved issues and unanswered questions.” 

And indeed, the program website published links to both sides of the issue.47

Concluding Comment:  (Public). This hour-long documentary was the first truly fair opportunity in North America for advocates of the “unofficial story” of 9/11 to present some of their case on mainstream television.  Representatives of the “official story” were also given time to speak, but their case was patently weaker. This imbalance was allowed by the producers, and indeed by the Canadian government, to stand.  Aired several times across Canada, this program drew unusually high viewer commentary.

Case Study 13:  New Zealand TV’s “Close Up” hosts Architect Richard Gage, November 27, 2009

The same day “The Unofficial Story” was broadcast by the CBC, Richard Gage appeared on New Zealand TV’s popular public affairs program, Close-Up, for a six-minute interview.48

“WTC 7 was never hit by a plane but it still came down,” the host begins, “and that’s what troubles internationally respected architect Richard Gage.”

Gage is then allowed to explain that the building fell straight down in 6.5 seconds, and that NIST, the agency tasked with explaining the collapse, admitted that it had come down in absolute free-fall for the first hundred feet or so.  “That means the structure had to have been removed,” says Gage. “There is evidence of very high-tech explosives in all the dust throughout lower Manhattan – nanothermite.”

Normal office fires, Gage added, would start “a large, gradual deformation – the building would tip over – it wouldn’t go straight down through the path of greatest resistance.”

This is why 1,000 engineers and architects around the world are demanding a real investigation that includes all of the evidence at the crime scene, not just the planes and the fires, says Gage.

“In the nine months prior to 9/11, we had the largest elevator modernization in history going on inside the towers…We’re looking for an investigation that includes elevator companies, security companies, etcetera.”

Concluding Comment:  (Public). New Zealand’s national television station allowed open and unopposed discussion, by the founder of the world’s largest professional organization calling for a new 9/11 investigation, of the claim that nano-thermite was used in a controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.  The coincidence that this program and the CBC’s “The Unofficial Story” both aired on the same day may prove to be a turning point in media coverage of the 9/11 issue.

Case Study 14 :  “9/11 Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” TruTV, Premiere December 9, 2009

TruTV is an American cable television network owned by Time Warner through its subsidiary, Turner Broadcasting. Historically, its has given live homicide trial coverage and other criminal justice programming, though it has recently expanded into more caught-on-video reality, which it calls “actuality” television.

“Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura” premiered December 2, 2009, to an audience of 1.6 million television viewers.

The former Governor of Minnesota has good cause to look into conspiracies, as seen in his December 29 episode, which shows personal experience that the “secret state” holds more power than the senior elected representatives of the people:

“About a month after I was elected governor, I was requested into the basement of the capitol to be interviewed by 23 members of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA…And I said to them, “look before I answer any of your questions, I want to know what you’re doing here.”  Because in the CIA mission statement it says that they’re not to be operational inside the United States of America. Well, they wouldn’t really give me an answer on that. And then I said, “I want to go around the room, and I want each one of you to tell me your name and what you do.” Half of them wouldn’t. Now isn’t that bizarre? I’m the governor, and these guys won’t even answer questions from me.”49

Ventura made the 9/11 documentary after being approached by Donna March O’Connor, whose daughter died in the World Trade Center and wanted “every American exposed to the questions” about 9/11.50

Ventura’s documentary contained interviews with the following people:

Janitor William Rodriguez, the last man out of the North Tower and who was decorated for heroism by President Bush, who reported enormous explosions in the basements just before the plane hit up above, and whose testimony to the 9/11 Commission was ignored

Physicist Steven Jones, formerly of Brigham Young University, who isolated super-thermite from the enormous dust clouds of the Twin Towers and Building 7, after which he was contacted by a consultant engineer from the Department of Homeland Security, who warned Jones that, if he published his findings “the pain would be great.”

Explosives expert Van Romero, of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, demonstrating how super-thermite can be painted onto a steel beam, causing it to burn through

Ground Zero rescue worker Mike Mallone, who reported seeing one of the four black boxes removed from the site, and was told of two others – and who was told by the FBI that if he talked about it, “there would be a problem.”

Investigative journalist Dave Lindorff, who was told “off the record” by a contact in the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigated the boxes, that all four had been recovered by the FBI and taken away, though officially, the contact said, this would be denied

Air crash investigator Dale Leppard, who said that the bright orange heat-resistant boxes are never lost

Yet the 9/11 Commission Report claimed that the boxes from American 11 and United 175 were never found. 

Ventura concluded by asking:  “If everything they told us was true, then why would they need to stonewall us?”

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate).  By calling his series “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura”, he openly declares that conspiracies do exist, and that they are a legitimate subject to investigate. According to TruTV, the first episode drew 1.6 million viewers, a record for a new series on this network.

Case Study 15: German Federal Judge Dieter Deiseroth Questions the Official 9/11 Investigation, December 15, 2009

Heinz Heise is a German publishing house, which publishes Europe’s most popular computer and technology journals. It also owns Heise Online (heise.de), which is a top-50 site in Germany, and a top-1000 website in the world as a whole.

On December 15 2008, Heise Online carried an interview with German Federal Judge Dieter Deiseroth on the legality of the Afghanistan war and the question of whether the attacks were adequately investigated in the US.51

In his response, Deiseroth made the following points:

The 9/11 Commission consisted of Bush Administration officials who were very close to the military industrial complex. 

Now, over eight years after 9/11, no independent court has applied legal procedures to review the available evidence on who was responsible for the attacks.

It is not acceptable for a constitutional state to dispense with the necessary steps in identifying suspects and instead to declare war, bomb a foreign country where suspects reside, and place it under military occupation.

Having made the claim that bin Laden was responsible for the terrorism of 9/11, the United States was under burden of proof, and yet America’s own FBI admits that it has no evidence presented in court of Osama bin Laden’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate).  This “top-50” online journal exposed many German people to the illegal and unconstitutional responses to the 9/11 attacks – which were the underpinning for the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and even to questions about the truth of the official account of 9/11 itself.

Case Study 16:  Germany’s “Focus Money” says: “We Do Not Believe You!” January 8, 2010

With 450,000 to 720,000 readers, Focus Money is the second most popular German weekly business magazine.  In January 2010, it published a 5-page, highly detailed, and comprehensively researched glossy feature, “We do not believe you!”52 

The article first looks at the many professional 9/11 groups, as well as a 2,000-strong list of prominent and qualified people who question the 9/11 Commission Report at the Patriots Question 9/11 website.

It quotes Richard Gage saying:  “The towers accelerated without interruption in free fall…as if the lower 90 floors of the building did not exist. The only way to bring them down like that is controlled demolition.”

The article weighs Gage’s list of ten features of a controlled demolition, which were exemplified in the World Trade Center collapses, against the three features of a fire-caused destruction, which were absent.

Focus Money also explores the case of Barry Jennings, a former Deputy Director of Emergency Services in New York’s Housing Authority, who reported being trapped in WTC 7 after massive explosions in this building occurred in the morning – before the Twin Towers fell.  Focus Money also reported that Jennings, aged 53, died mysteriously just days before NIST’s report on WTC-7 was to be released in August 2008.

The article recommends films that challenge the official report, including “Loose Change”, which has been seen 125 million times on Google video alone, “9/11 Mysteries,” and “Zero” –  all available online.

Regarding the Pentagon, experienced commercial pilots are cited as maintaining that no one, let alone a Cessna pilot, could fly the route that Flight 77 allegedly took to hit the building.

The article pointed out the lack of debris to support the official story:  “There was no tail, there were no wings, no confirmation of the crash of a Boeing 757.” And there were no titanium engines, which would have survived the crash.

Also cited was Sergeant Lauro Chavez of the US Central Command in Florida, who was involved in exercises the morning of 9/11 to hijack planes and fly them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the White House. He asks why, when it became clear that the attacks were real, were the rogue planes not intercepted?

Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta’s testimony to the 9/11 Commission, in which he reported a conversation between Dick Cheney and a young officer prior to the strike on the Pentagon, supports Chavez’ conviction that there had been a stand-down order.

Concluding Comment:  (Corporate).  This 5,400-word article presented strong evidence against the official 9/11 account to Germany’s economic and political decision-makers.

Case Study 17:  Televised documentary, “The BBC’s Conspiracy Files:  Osama bin Laden – Dead or Alive?”  January 10, 2010

In January 2010, a BBC News article53 summarized evidence supporting both sides of the question stated in the title of its upcoming documentary, “Osama bin Laden – Dead or Alive?” – a title taken from the David Ray Griffin book that was previously discussed in a Daily Mail article.54

The documentary, which was part of the BBC Conspiracy Files series, opened by presenting evidence that bin Laden has long been dead, including the following points:

Bruce Riedel, chair of President Obama’s policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan, says the bin Laden trail is cold, “frozen over,” meaning that there has been no intelligence on bin Laden since Tora Bora, either by sightings or intercepted communications.

Various lines of evidence suggest that bin Laden was suffering from advanced kidney disease: CBS News reported, for example, that he was being treated in the kidney ward of a hospital in Pakistan the night before the 9/11 attacks, and the last of the undoubtedly authentic videotapes showed him frail and gaunt, with a whitish beard.

There were reports of his funeral in mid-December 2001 in Pakistani and Egyptian newspapers.

Former CIA agent Robert Baer, who believes bin Laden to be dead, reported that none of his friends in the CIA could state for certain that bin Laden was still alive.

Colonel Iman, Pakistan’s former troop trainer, also believes him to be dead.

The only proof of bin Laden’s continuing existence is the audio and videotapes, and Dr. Griffin has presented evidence (about the structure of bin Laden’s face and hands, and the secular content of his messages)that some of them are clearly faked, leading to the suspicion that they all are.

Pakistan’s former Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who knew bin Laden, supports this conclusion with regard to the alleged confession video.

Professor Bruce Lawrence of Duke University, a student of the bin Laden tapes, also declared it a fake, especially because bin Laden always loved the spotlight. He asks why bin Laden has been seen so infrequently on video and why his contemporary, Ayman al-Zawahiri is seen so often.55

The BBC narrator says that only six of bin Laden’s 40 messages were videotapes, and only two have appeared since Tora Bora in 2001. 

Dr Griffin says the first video appeared conveniently just before the 2004 US election, which helped Bush to win; and the second appeared in 2007, showing a very black beard, which had formerly been almost white.56

CIA agent Robert Baer confirmed that the alleged bin Laden audio and video tapes could have been faked through digital manipulation.

The BBC program also presented evidence that is believed by some to show that the US may not have been intent on capturing or killing bin Laden:

Dalton Fury, commander of the secret Delta Force, says it was “odd” that Washington denied him nearby troops and artillery when he had bin Laden trapped at Tora Bora in December 2001.

Mike Scheuer, formerly of the CIA bin Laden Unit, said the US had ten chances to easily kill bin Laden between May 1998 and May 1999. Each time the CIA briefed the White House of the opportunity, the decision was made not to shoot.

In the final third of the program, the BBC provided rather weak evidence against “the theory that Osama bin Laden died 8 years ago and the US government is keeping him alive, faking videos, and sending troops to battle and allowing them to die in pursuit of an imaginary foe.” However, a reviewer for the TV and Radio section of the The Independent, one of London’s leading newspapers, complained that this rebuttal was too little, too late, saying:

“The Conspiracy Files film about Osama Bin Laden was a dubious affair, which gave regrettable amounts of air time to an obsessive 9/11 “truther” called David Ray Griffin. . . . Griffin only got the airtime, as it turned out, so that Conspiracy Files could systematically work their way through his claims and dismiss them. But I think they grievously overestimated the capacity of common sense to mop up the pollution of paranoid fantasy that they actively helped to spread around in the first 45 minutes of the film.”57

This seemed to be the commentator’s way of saying that the BBC’s show probably increased the number of people who believe that bin Laden is probably dead.

Concluding Comment:  (Public). This program attempts to neutralize the evidence that bin Laden has been dead for 8 years, which if true would mean that fabricated tapes are helping to justify a continuing Western offensive in the Middle East.  That the program was made at all shows how seriously the BBC is taking the growing challenge to the official story of 9/11.

Case Study 18 :  An American Union Paper Calls for a New Probe, February 1, 2010

The New Hampshire Union Leader is a daily union newspaper seen by 143,000 people per month in the United States.

Beth Lamontagne Hall of the Union Leader wrote in February 2010 that “Keene resident Gerhard Bedding doesn’t buy the government’s version of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, so he’s working on a statewide campaign calling for another investigation into the terrorist attacks.58

Bedding and others, she reported, are petitioning New Hampshire’s congressional delegates to push for an independent investigation into “all the evidence and unanswered questions” pertaining to the 9/11 attacks.

Quoting Bedding’s statement that a new investigation is needed “in light of new evidence that has appeared in the last two years,” she pointed out that he mentioned, in particular, the report that scientists had found traces of explosives at the World Trade Center.

Concluding Comment:  (Independent). This article in a daily union newspaper is a significant indicator, more than eight years after the attacks, of the broadening concern over the truth about 9/11, and is another example of the widespread influence of the nano-thermite paper published by Dr. Harrit and his co-authors.

IV. Summary and Concluding Observations 

1. In the past year, in response to emerging independent science on the 9/11 attacks, nine corporate, seven public, and two independent media outlets aired examinations of the issue, which were all – with the exception of the National Geographic special – reasonably objective, examining the issue as a legitimate scientific controversy worthy of debate (not as “conspiracy theorists” vs. science and common sense).

2. Eight countries – Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Russia – have allowed their publicly-owned broadcasting stations to air the full spectrum of evidence challenging the truth of the official account of 9/11.

3. These developments may reflect a relaxation in the international media following the change in the US and British leaderships.

4. These developments definitely reflect, in any case, the fact that scientists in the 9/11 Truth Movement have recently succeeded in getting papers, such as the nano-thermite paper, published in peer-reviewed journals.

5. These developments surely also reflect the general professionalism of the 9/11 Truth Movement, as exemplified by the emergence of not only Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth but also Firefighters, Intelligence Officers, Lawyers, Medical Professionals, Pilots, Political Leaders, Religious Leaders, Scholars, and Veterans for 9/11 Truth.

6. These developments seem to reflect, moreover, an increased recognition of the importance of the 9/11 Truth Movement, which is demonstrated by two honors given to its most influential member, Dr. David Ray Griffin, that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago:  the choice by Publishers Weekly of one of his books as a “Pick of the Week,” and his inclusion in the New Statesman’s list of the most important people in the world today.

This more open approach taken in the international media – I could also have included the Japanese media –  might be a sign that worldwide public and corporate media organizations are positioning themselves, and preparing their audiences, for a possible revelation of the truth of the claim that forces within the US government were complicit in the attacks – a revelation that would call into question the publicly given rationale for the military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The evidence now being explored in the international media may pave the way for the US media to take an in-depth look at the implications of what is now known about 9/11, and to re-examine the country’s foreign and domestic policies in the light of this knowledge.

Elizabeth Woodworth is a retired professional health sciences librarian, and a freelance writer.  She is the author of two published books and many articles on political and social justice issues.

 

Erratum:

RIA Novosti, the Russian state-owned news agency, has advised in an a formal statement of February 4, 2010, that:

“RIA Novosti, Russia’s leading multimedia news agency is neither a “sponsor” nor a “backer” of Russia Today, an English language satellite TV channel, contrary to recent claims in media reports.”  Ref:  “RIA Novosti neither ‘sponsor’ nor ‘backer’ of Russia Today – Statement” (http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100204/157770469.html )

This means that seven — not eight — countries have  “allowed their publicly-owned broadcasting stations to air the full spectrum of evidence challenging the truth of the official account of 9/11.”   

Notes
 

1 “The 50 People Who Matter Today,” New Statesman, September 24, 2009 (http://www.newstatesman.com/global-issues/2009/09/world-fashion-gay-india-church ). Note that Part I of this series, entitled “The Media Response to the Growing Influence of the 9 /11 Truth Movement: Reflections on a Recent Evaluation of Dr. David Ray Griffin,” was published by Global Research, December 12, 2009  (http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16505)

2 Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley, Bradley R. Larsen, “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,” Open Chemical Physics Journal, Vol. 2 (April 3, 2009): 7-31 (http://www.bentham.org/open/tocpj/openaccess2.htm)

3 Ibid., p. 29.

4 Ibid., p. 29.

5 Dr. Harrit is Associate Professor of the Department of Chemistry, and has been a faculty member at the Nano-Science Center at the University of Copenhagen since this Center started in 2001.  (http://nano.ku.dk/english/ )

6 “Danish Scientist Niels Harrit on Nano-thermite in the WTC Dust (English subtitles),” TV2 News, Denmark, April 6, 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_tf25lx_3o).

7 By Lars Sobiraj, May 24, 2009,”Germany’s gulli.com (link obsolete now) Interviews Dr. Niels Harrit on Nanothermite at the WTC,” Sunday May 24th, 2009 1:28 PM, http://911truth.org/article_for_printing.php?story=20090525150347423

8 Kevin R. Ryan, “The Top Ten Connections Between NIST and Nano-Thermite,” July 2, 2008, (http://www.journalof911studies.com/volume/2008/Ryan_NIST_and_Nano-1.pdf )

9 Dr. Andrzej W. Miziolek, “Nanoenergetics:  An Emerging Technology Area of National Importance,” In:  US Department of Defense.  “Special Issue:  DOD Researchers Provide a Look Inside Nanotechnology,” Amptiac Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 2002, p. 44 (http://www.p2pays.org/ref/34/33115.pdf )  The article reports that, “Very simply, nanoenergetics can store higher amounts of energy than conventional energetic materials and one can use them in unprecedented ways to tailor the release of this energy so as to maximize the lethality of the weapons.”  p. 43. 

10 See the IoN Advisory Group at http://www.nano.org.uk/aboutus/ukboard.htm  

11 My italics.  [News]: “Active Thermitic Material Confirmed in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,” June 15, 2009 (http://www.nano.org.uk/news/jun2009/latest1881.htm)

12 Thomas Hoffmann, “Danish scientist: an explosive nano material found in dust from the World Trade Center”, Videnskab.dk, April 3, 2009  (http://www.videnskab.dk/composite-1945.htm )

13 Thomas Hoffmann, “Niels Harrit:  Scientific evidence of long-time knowledge of 9/11,” Videnskab.dk, April 3, 2009 (http://www.videnskab.dk/composite-2019.htm )

14 Milla Mølgaard, April 4, 2009, (http://politiken.dk/indland/article684567.ece )

15 “Niels Harrit presents evidence for nano-thermite in WTC, on GoodMorning Denmark,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAUUKPfdeQA )

16 Posted at: http://www.javno.com/en-world/video–911-no-longer-taboo-topic-in-denmark_250703

17 “Did nano-thermite take down the WTC?” (http://rt.com/Best_Videos/2009-07-09/Did_nano-thermite_take_down_the_WTC.html , and

http://rt.com/Politics/2009-07-09/Did_nano-thermite_take_down_the_WTC.html?fullstory ) .  Also available on youtube as “Dr. Niels Harrit on Russia Today – We need a real 9/11 investigation,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVbF1ndquZI&feature=PlayList&p=4B3A9D67894B7184&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=20 )

18 Brian Stelter, “The Political Suspicions of 9/11,” New York Times, February 1, 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/business/media/02fx.html?_r=2&ref=business )

19 Fox News, “‘Rescue Me’ From 9/11 Conspiracy Theories,” February 4, 2009, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,487906,00.html )

20 The mock trial is available on youtube in 4 parts:  “911 Devil’s Advocate – English subs – Part 1 of 4″, starts at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOdlA_eu-Lw  

21 This is said at the beginning of “911 Devil’s Advocate – English subs – Part 2 of 4″, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJX-rIaAbA4&feature=related.  See also, Craig Morris, “Mistranslated Osama bin Laden Video – the German Press Investigates,” December 23, 2001 (http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/16801 )

22 Joshua Rhett Miller, “Dutch TV Show Feeds Conspiracy Theories on Bin Laden’s Role in 9/11,” Fox News, April 25, 2009 (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,516195,00.html )

23 Johanthan Kay, “Richard Gage: 9/11 truther extraordinaire,” Financial Post, Saturday, April 25, 2009 (http://www.financialpost.com/scripts/story.html?id=f54cf9ee-4637-44de-8819-19d918b3241b&k=21893 )

24 The radio program may be heard at this link, in Norwegian, without subtitles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHZHGUd82wc )

25 Norwegian State Radio initiates public debate on 9/11 Truth (update), (http://zelikow.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/norwegian-state-radio-initiates-public-debate-on-911-truth/

26 Richard Gage interviewed by Kim Stephens and Kopi Sotiropulos on KMPH Fox 26 in Fresno, CA, May 28, 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO2yT0uBQbM&feature=related )

27  “9/11:  Science and Conspiracy”, (http://www.shallownation.com/2009/08/31/national-geographic-9-11-science-and-conspiracy-video-photos/).  National Geographic Channel is a joint venture of National Geographic Television & Film and Fox Cable Networks.

28 Tom Conroy.  “’9/11:  Science and Conspiracy’ not quite,” Media Life Magazine, August 31, 2009 (http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/TV_Reviews_21/9_11_Science_and_Conspiracy_not_quite.asp )

29 Maxine Shen, “The Story Behind 9/11:  Hit or Myth?  Taking on the Truthers,” New York Post, September 2, 2009 (http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/item_tPXUgMFRZVQywHJg28ON7J;jsessionid=5113BAC6DC385827B1486E60DAA759A8#ixzz0eY7F97Dx)

30 The website for this publication is http://www.tvhus.de/home/home.html   

31 Hannes Wellmann, “Die Geheimakten von 9/11,” TV Hören und Sehen, August 31, 2009.  The article and its English translation have been downloaded to http://www.911video.de/news/020909/  

32 Whereas the article focuses primarily on Bay-Area resident Richard Gage, Santa Barbara is the home of David Ray Griffin, so the Independent version gave more space to him, even including his photo.

33 Jay Levin and Tom McKenzie, “Twin Towers, Twin Myths?” Santa Barbara Independent, September 17, 2009 (http://www.independent.com/news/2009/sep/17/twin-towers-twin-myths/ )

34 Jay Levin and Tom McKenzie, “Explosive Theory,” MetroActive, September 9, 2009, (http://www.metroactive.com/metro/09.09.09/cover-0936.html)

35 “Is conspiracy behind the World Trade Center’s collapse?”  (http://www.independent.com/polls/2009/sep/wtc09/results/ )

36 “Norwegian TV examines 911 part 1,” September 10, 2009, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlHuYt_u-kI )  The TV program was followed by a written account of it:  Lars Ole Skjønberg, “World Trade Center ble sprengt” (“World Trade Center was Blown Up,”) September 10, 2009, http://www.nrk.no/programmer/tv/schrodingers_katt/1.6769275 ).  Further information and partial transcripts are available at “Norwegian State Television presents 9/11 Truth (en subs), (update)

(http://zelikow.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/norwegian-state-television-presents-911-truth/ )

37 Sue Reid, “Has Osama Bin Laden been dead for seven years – and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror?” Daily Mail, September 11, 2009 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1212851/Has-Osama-Bin-Laden-dead-seven-years–U-S-Britain-covering-continue-war-terror.html )

38 New Statesman, “The 50 People who Matter Today.”

39 “French comedian apolgises for claiming 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government,” Belfast Telegraph, September 10, 2008 (http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/french-comedian-apologises-for-claiming-911-was-orchestrated-by-the-us-government-13968453.html )

40 “L’objet du scandale, 11 septembre, Bigard, Kassovitz,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uc4Mb9rF0c   The program is also available with English subtitles, at http://world911truth.org/911-debate-with-kassovitz-and-bigard/ .  The debate was originally intended to include journalist Éric Laurent and Prof. Niels Harrit, but apparently France 2 could not find anyone to debate them.  See “France 2 backs away from real debate, censors Niels Harrit and Éric Laurent,” October 24, 2009, http://world911truth.org/france-2-backs-away-from-real-debate-censors-niels-harrit-and-eric-laurent/ .

41 Hervé de Saint Hilaire,  «L’objet du scandale» : sophismes bruyants, Le Figaro, 30 octobre 2009 (http://www.lefigaro.fr/programmes-tele/2009/10/30/03012-20091030ARTFIG00348-l-objet-du-scandale-sophismes-bruyants-.php )

42 Andrew Ryan, “Was 9/11 a conspiracy? ‘Truthers’ make their case: CBC’s fifth estate airs The Unofficial Story,” The Globe and Mail, November 26, 2009

(http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/was-911-a-conspiracy-truthers-make-their-case/article1378976/ )

43 CBC. The Fifth Estate.  “The Unofficial Story”, November 27, 2009 (http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2009-2010/the_unofficial_story/ )

44 The Fifth Estate has won 243 awards, including an Oscar for best documentary, three international Emmy Awards, and 31 Geminis.

45 McKeown’s awards include two Emmys, two Geminis, two Edward R. Murrow awards, two Gracies, two National Headliner awards and a National Press Club award. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_McKeown )

46 It is worth noting that attempts to derail critics of the official story have often framed the issue as “conspiracy theorists” vs. “the science” or  vs. “the facts.”  But as the current essay illustrates, the debate is now increasingly being framed in the media as science on one side of the issue vs. science on the other side.

47 The Fifth Estate, at http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2009-2010/the_unofficial_story/links.html  

48  “Richard Gage AIA on New Zealand National Television,” November 27, 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2INIOXe_WI )

49 “Conspiracy Theory Episode 4 Big Brother with Jesse Ventura,” December 29, 2009 (http://conspiracytheoryjesseventura.com/forums/index.php?board=2.0 )

50 “9/11 Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” TruTV, Premiere Wed, December 9 at 10PM (http://www.conspiracytheoryjesseventura.com/2009/12/watch-episode-2-911-conspiracy-theory-jesse-ventura/ ) Also at “Conspiracy theory with Jesse Ventura – 9/11 part 1,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uw5Bz-oL3w )

51 Marcus Klöckner, “Das schreit geradezu nach Aufklärung,” December 15, 2009 (http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/31/31729/1.html ). The English Google translation is at http://translate.google.ca/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.heise.de%2Ftp%2Fr4%2Fartikel%2F31%2F31729%2F1.html&sl=de&tl=en )

52 Oliver Janich, Focus Money, No. 2/2010, January 8, 2010 (http://www.focus.de/finanzen/news/terroranschlaege-vom-11-september-2001-wir-glauben-euch-nicht_aid_467894.html ).  For English Google translation, see http://translate.google.ca/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.focus.de%2Ffinanzen%2Fnews%2Fterroranschlaege-vom-11-september-2001-wir-glauben-euch-nicht_aid_467894.html&sl=de&tl=en .  For English introduction and commentary, see http://www.911video.de/news/080110/en.html .

53 Mike Rudin, “The Conspiracy Files,” BBC News, January 9, 2009 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8444069.stm )

54 David Ray Griffin, “Osama bin Laden:  Dead or Alive?” Interlink Books, 2009. The documentary, “The BBC’s Conspiracy Files:  Osama bin Laden – Dead or Alive?” January 10, 2010, is now periodically available on BBC stations throughout the world, and presently available on youtube:

“BBC: Osama Bin Laden; Dead or Alive (1/6),” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpqg9SF2x50&feature=related ).

55 A Wikipedia article lists 34 videos of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri that have been released since May 2003.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videos_of_Ayman_al-Zawahiri)

56 Frames from the 2004 and 2007 videos may be seen side by side in the online article:  David Ray Griffin, “Osama bin Laden:  Dead or Alive?”  Global Research, October 9, 2009 (http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15601 )

57 Tom Sutcliffe, “Last Night’s Television: By The People: The Election of Barack Obama, Sat, BBC2; Conspiracy Files: Osama Bin Laden – Dead or Alive?, Sun, BBC2,” The Independent, January 11, 2010 (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/last-nights-television-by-the-people-the-election-of-barack-obama-sat-bbc2brconspiracy-files-osama-bin-laden-ndash-dead-or-alive-sun-bbc2-1863741.html )

58 Beth Lamontagne Hall, “NH group cites need for new 9/11 probe,” New Hampshire Union Leader, February 1, 2010 (http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?articleId=c2822a9b-f0c3-4f03-b8c3-09c3e0765b2f&headline=NH+group+cites+need+for+new+9%2f11+probe )

Clinton Co-ordinating Haiti Relief

February 15th, 2010 by Julie Webb-Pullman

Ban Ki-Moon obviously has a very twisted sense of humour. As if the Katrina fiasco wasn’t sufficient evidence of the singular unsuitability of the U.S. to lead any sort of disaster effort, appointing a power-abusing sex-offending lying ex-President as Special Envoy beggared belief.

Even the most generous interpretation would have to conclude that the U.S. had already surpassed its Katrina incompetence – they took eight days, yes EIGHT days, to decide to air-drop food and water into Haiti, resulting in who knows how many thousand unnecessary deaths. [i] Defense Secretary Robert Gates said earlier airdrops were ruled out “because they might have done more harm than good.”’ [ii] (ie there would be more survivors who might challenge the blatant US military occupation, carried out under the guise of ‘security’ to protect the populace from the pseudo-rioting and looting invented by U.S. media hacks to justify it – but more of the un-generous interpretation later.)

When the U.S. finally got around to airdrops, ie when the “riots and looting” (read, people frantically trying to get food, water, and medical help for themselves and others) were happening anyway because so little assistance was forthcoming, and some ethical international commentators were having more success getting the truth out than Fox et al were in distorting it, we learnt the purported ‘why’ of the delay: “Parachuting bundles of food and water into Haiti became viable for the first time Monday in part because there are enough troops there to identify a safe place to drop them…” [iii]

Give us a break – before the earthquake even struck the U.N. already had over 10,000 troops, other personnel and international police on the ground in Haiti [iv] and there were some 10,000 NGOs registered [v] – are we seriously expected to believe these guys couldn’t get it together to receive air drops for over a week?

Worse still, the headquarters of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) held pre-disaster simulations in Miami of a relief response to the impact of a hurricane in Haiti the DAY BEFORE the earthquake! [vi] Are their memories are THAT short??!!

It’s therefore pretty obvious that both the UN and the U.S. military, not to mention a sizeable bunch of NGOs, aren’t up to the job of looking after disaster victims’ interests. What is less obvious is why the UN does not head up the response effort by someone from a country with a proven track-record in this, such as Cuba, [vii] together with someone from UNICEF, given the age demographic of Haiti.

Maybe because the REAL reason it took eight days for the U.S. administration to start a genuine emergency response is that, with the complicity of Ban Ki-Moon and puppet-President Préval, they were too busy using the earthquake as a convenient excuse to secure U.S. interests in the region. They were too busy taking military control of Haiti’s airport and port facilities, prioritising the deployment of U.S. troops and evacuation of U.S. citizens, to trouble themselves with such trivial details as the provision and distribution of food and medical supplies to the devastated Haitians. [viii]

How many thousands more Haitians would have died but for the Cuban doctors, who had continuously, and without fanfare, been providing emergency health care from Day One, [ix] and Venezuela from Day Two – after they had managed to circumvent the U.S. military blockade of the airport, that is. [x]

More concerned about appearing to ‘lead the world’ and upstaging Cuba and Venezuela in the public relations stakes , the U.S. prevented not only CARICOM countries from landing with humanitarian assistance, but also aid flights from France, Brazil, and Italy, as well as several international aid agencies such as UNICEF, World Food Program (WFP), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the Red Cross, who were either refused landing or diverted to other countries in the essential first days. [xii]

And it’s not only one-way – the U.S. is also running a naval blockade to keep adult Haitians from getting out. [xiii] Unfortunately, what happens to them inside the country even without a quake, is not exactly fun either. [xiv] Economic interests (but whose) are clearly not being ignored, and Canada also has its fingers in the pie. [xvi] While Venezuela promptly cancelled Haiti’s debt, [xvii] others have yet to even repay theirs, [xviii] and still others are just cashing in on the tragedy. [xix]

There are increasing suspicions that the U.S. may even have caused the earthquake. [xx]

The result of this bare-faced U.S. military invasion masquerading as aid was a veritable chorus of well-founded accusations from international diplomatic, media, academic, legal, human rights, NGO and political circles that the U.S., with the complicity of the United Nations [xxi], was using the Haitian earthquake to undertake a military occupation of Haiti to further U.S. strategic military and economic interests in the region, [xxii] shaming them into unconfirmed reports after a week of stalling that the U.S. would give precedence for landing to civilian over military planes at Port-au-Prince’s airport. [xxiii]

So aid finally started reaching people…but that was not the only thing to arrive. In scenes reminiscent of the 2004 tsunami when thousands of child survivors just ‘disappeared’ into the people-trafficking ether, human vultures had already swooped, stealing children from hospitals,[xxiv] and scooping up ‘orphans’ by the plane- and bus-load and transporting them out of Haiti. [xxv]

Unicef said the disaster was likely to have separated thousands of children from their parents or guardians, and the agency repeated warnings about the threat of child traffickers. In an attempt to prevent the illegal departure of many children UNICEF is deploying two specialized staff to control documentation at the airport.[xxvii]

So take a bus instead! Ten U.S. ‘missionaries’ are already under arrest for trying to smuggle 33 children out of the country, and that was not their first attempt.[xxvii] Of course they are most unlikely to actually face trial let alone be convicted of this blatant crime – Clinton has already negotiated a deal to get all but Laura Silsby freed[xxix] (she obviously should have worn her blue dress that day…), showing how much HE gives a toss about what UNICEF has to say.

We should hardly be surprised – even a human-rights-law-quoting suitably-outraged usually on-the-button US commentator neglected to mention that the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world NOT to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[xxx] Why should they suddenly start caring about Haitian children when they don’t even pretend to protect their own? And in Clinton’s case, have sex with at least one woman in his employ young enough to be his daughter? Isn’t that precisely one of the major problems already facing ‘restaveks’?

Given U.S. conduct since the Haiti quake, and Bill Clinton’s before and since, I think we can safely say that in condoning the US military occupation of Haiti and in appointing Bill Clinton as the UN Special Envoy, Ban Ki-Moon demonstrated a gross lack of respect and concern not only for Haitians but for every member country of his organisation, and several of its own agencies to boot. Clinton’s illness provides him with an opportunity to make at least some amends.

As Chossudovsky and numerous others have pointed out, since the devastation of 12 January, the Haitian people have exhibited a high degree of solidarity, courage and social commitment which the militarization of relief operations can only undermine, weakening the organizational capabilities of Haitians to rebuild and reinstate their institutions of civilian government, as well as their lives.

Community-based integrated disaster response and recovery models have been promoted by various UN bodies and at-risk countries for at least a decade.[xxxi]

It’s time Ban Ki-Moon walked the talk. He should be supporting UN agencies in their difficult task of using best practice to assist Haitians to rebuild their shattered lives, not undermining them by condoning a military occupation and genocide.[xxxii]

He should now appoint the most appropriate person as Special Envoy for the response and recovery effort – a person with demonstrated capacity in the area, without exploitative economic motives but with the trust and confidence of Haitians. This is clearly NOT Bill Clinton, whose current health crisis suggests it is time to give him a break, and appoint a new person to this important role.

Ban Ki-Moon now has a unique opportunity to stand with the south and look left, where he will find several candidates with impeccable credentials – not only world leaders in disaster preparedness, management and recovery, but also a lengthy history of solidarity in the region and beyond – plus a demonstrated commitment to refrain from military intervention in other nation states.

Kia kaha, Ban Ki-Moon – get the cavalry out of there, and someone in who actually gives a damn about Haitians.

Julie Webb-Pullman is a New Zealand based freelance writer who has reported about – and on occasion from – Central America for Scoop since 2003. Send Feedback to[email protected]

Notes

i. “Haiti: Obama’s Katrina, Many post-quake deaths could have been prevented.” Drs Soumitra R. Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and David Helfet 25/01/10 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904575025091656446622.html; see also American Paratroopers Land In Haiti: And on the Eighth Day…by William Bowles 20/01/10 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17084; see also The Economist: 18/01/10 “[T]he majority of victims did not perish during the 35-second tremor… some 200,000 people were probably injured or trapped but not killed by the quake… an additional 25,000 of them have died on each day that has passed since the tremor, as a result of treatable ailments such as bleeding, dehydration, suffocation and infection.” http://www.economist.com/world/americas/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=15320716; see also History of a Haitian Holocaust: Blackwater before drinking water by Greg Palast 17/01/10 gregpalast.com

ii. US may play security role in Haiti in earthquake’s aftermath 15/01/10 http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/us_may_play_security_role_in_haiti_eS762qlxqs19Z63V5oEoCL

iii. U.N. approves extra troops, police for Haiti 19/01/10

iv. http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=courierpostonline&sParam=37304484.story

v. U.N. approves extra troops, police for Haiti Staff and Wire reports 19/01/10 http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=courierpostonline&sParam=37304484.story,

vi. Haiti’s New PM and the Power of NGOs 30/09/08 by Nikolas Barry-Shaw http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/9_30_8/9_30_8.html

vii. Defense launches online system to coordinate Haiti relief efforts by Bob Brewin 15/01/10 http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0110/011510bb1.htm

viii. “Cuba’s success in saving lives gives us a model of effective government-driven disaster preparedness. …the secret of this success is that it is also a matter of enacting and enforcing laws, building and maintaining institutions that are accountable, and producing an environment of mutual respect and trust between government and the population.” From The Role of National Governments and the “International Community” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Corporate Document Repository http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/ad710e/ad710e0k.htm ; see also CUBA, Weathering the storm: lessons in risk reduction from Cuba An Oxfam America Report By Martha Thompson with Izaskun Gaviria 2004 http://www.preventionweb.net/files/4585_Us01MH281-Ft.pdf; see also Disaster Relief Management in Cuba: Why Cuba’s disaster relief model is worth careful study Jonathan Keyser and Wayne Smith May 2009 http://www.ciponline.org/cuba/photos/Final%20Cuba%20IPR%200509.pdf; see also When disaster strikes: the response to the South Asian earthquake PAKISTAN: Cuban solidarity – bringing healthcare to the people IRIN project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs http://www.irinnews.org/InDepthMain.aspx?InDepthId=6&ReportId=34374

ix. As U.S. Prepares Long-term Occupation, Haiti’s Quake Victims Still Without Aid By Bill Van Auken 23/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j23.shtml;see also Haiti: An Unwelcome Katrina Redux by Cynthia McKinney 19/01/10 http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17063

x. Cuba sends more doctors to Haiti Dominican Today 14/01/10 http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/world/2010/1/14/34483/Cuba-sends-more-doctors-to-Haiti; see also Reflections by Comrade Fidel: We send Doctors, not Soldiers Fidel Castro Ruz 23/01/10 http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/reflexiones/2010/ing/f230110i.html;

xi. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro is reported to have said that aid shipments to Haiti were being diverted via the neighbouring Dominican Republic to avoid restrictions imposed by the US at the Port-au-Prince airport. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/5086

xii. Heritage Foundation response on 13/01/10, the day after the quake, quickly taken up by Obama: “The government under President Réne Préval is weak and literally now in shambles. Cuba and Venezuela, already intent on minimizing U.S. influence in the region, are likely to seize this opportunity to raise their profile and influence… The earthquake has both humanitarian and U.S. national security implications… President Obama should initiate a rapid response that is not only bold but decisive, mobilizing U.S. military… Congress should immediately expand U.S. trade preferences for Haiti.” Unfortunately, he also adopted their priorities: “U.S. military and civilian forces; heavy equipment to clear the debris and rubble; and emergency food supplies and medicines.http://www.heritage.org/research/latinamerica/wm2754.cfm

xiii. Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane With Full Hospital and Staff Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) 17/01/10; see also “UNICEF tried to send a plane full of medical kits, blankets and tents, but was denied permission to land and was forced to return to Panama…On Saturday, January 16, the World Food Program (WFP) was finally able to land airplanes with food, medicine and water—after being diverted on Thursday and Friday so that the U.S. could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.” From Why So Many People Died in the Earthquake… And Why the U.S. Can Do No Good in Haiti by Li Onesto 19/01/10 http://www.rwor.org/a/189online/Haiti-en.html; see also US Military Operations Block Relief Efforts in Haiti by Alex Lantier 21/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j21.shtml

xiv. Haiti Earthquake: US Ships Blockade Coast to Thwart Exodus to America by Bruno Waterfield 19/01/10 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/haiti/7030237/Haiti-earthquake-US-ships-blockade-coast-to-thwart-exodus-to-America.html ; Washington Shuts Door on Haitian Refugees by Tom Eley 20/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j20.shtml ; Will the U.S. Send Haitian Refugees to Guantanamo? by Unsilent Generation 19/01/10 http://unsilentgeneration.com/2010/01/19/will-the-u-s-send-haitian-refugees-to-guantanamo/

xv. “…the UN has been warehousing young Haitian men and moving them, through criminalization and indefinite detention in prison for years, out of the area in Site Soley where access to oil deposit are noted [on this map]” From Did mining and oil drilling behind UN/US guns trigger the Haiti earthquake? by Haitian lawyer Ezili Dantò http://open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto/2010/01/22/did_mining_and_oil_drilling_trigger_the_haiti_earthquake;

xvi. John Pilger said “Clinton is Haiti’s most notorious privateer, demanding de-regulation of the economy for the benefit of the sweatshop barons. Lately, he has been promoting a $55 million deal to turn the north of Haiti into an American-annexed “tourist playground”. From The Kidnapping of Haiti by John Pilger 28/01/10 http://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2010/02/haiti-pilger-obama-venezuela ; See also Profiting From Haiti’s Crisis by Benjamin Dangl 18/01/10 http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1827/1/ ; see also Bush, Clinton and the Crimes of US Imperialism in Haiti by Patrick Martin 18/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/pers-j18.shtml; see also Li Onesto “…this is what Bill Clinton had to say after the earthquake: ‘Once we deal with the immediate crisis, the development plans the world was already pursuing have to be implemented more quickly and on a broader scale. I’m interested in just pressing ahead with it… ‘ In other words, Clinton now sees the massive destruction in Haiti as an opportunity to press forward with his plans for setting up profitable sweatshops and tourist areas.” From Why So Many People Died in the Earthquake… by Li Onesto 19/01/10 http://www.rwor.org/a/189online/Haiti-en.html; see also “A map showing the mining resources in Haiti shows five oil/gas sites in Haiti.” from Did mining and oil drilling behind UN/US guns trigger the Haiti earthquake? http://open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto/2010/01/22/did_mining_and_oil_drilling_trigger_the_haiti_earthquake;

xvii. Canada and Haiti: Relief Efforts in the Shadow of Past “Help” by Dan Freeman-Maloy 17/01/10 http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/297.php; see also Peacekeeping or War-making? by Murray Dobbin Murray Dobbin’s Blog 21/01/10

xviii. Venezuela Cancels Haiti’s Debt By Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.A. 25/01/10 http://www.transcend.org/tms/article_detail.php?article_id=2548

xix. Haiti: The Hate and the Quake: A Long History of Stolen Wealth by Sir Hilary Beckles 17/01/10 http://www.nationnews.com/story/guest-column-hilary-beckles-copy-for-web

xx. Haiti: Humanitarian Aid to Repay an Odious Debt? by Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet 18/01/10 http://www.cadtm.org/Haiti-Grants-to-repay-an-odious ; see also US Security Company Offers to Perform “High Threat Terminations” and to Confront “Worker Unrest” in Haiti by Jeremy Scahill 18/01/10 http://rebelreports.com/post/341673601/us-security-company-offers-to-perform-high-threat

xxi. The U.S. Created the Earthquake in Haiti? PRAVDA 24/01/10 http://english.pravda.ru/science/tech/24-01-2010/111809-russia_says_US_created_earthqua-0; see also Are they that sick? Did US Weather Weapon destroy Haiti? By Junius Ricardo Stanton 29/01/10 http://www.sfbayview.com/2010/are-they-that-sick-did-u-s-weather-weapon-destroy-haiti/ Did mining and oil drilling behind UN/US guns trigger the Haiti earthquake? Ezili Dantò 22/01/10 http://open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto/2010/01/22/did_mining_and_oil_drilling_trigger_the_haiti_earthquake; see also 1997 US Defense Dept transcript acknowledging the existence of such technology http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=674,

xxii. No ‘Hope for Haiti’ Without Justice by Mark LeVine 19/01/10 http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2010/01/20101196265844450.html

xxiii. The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion? by Michel Chossudovsky 15/01/10 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17000 ; see also Chavez Says U.S. Occupying Haiti in Name of Aid Reuters17/01/10 http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60G2DW20100117; US accused of “Occupying” Haiti as Thousands of Troops Flood in. by Aislinn Laing and Tom Leonard 18/01/10 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/haiti/7020908/US-accused-of-occupying-Haiti-as-troops-flood-in.html; see also Latin American Leaders say U.S. occupying Haiti Press TV 22/01/10 http://www.infowars.com/latin-american-leaders-say-us-occupying-haiti/; see also Haiti Needs Emergency Relief, not Military Intervention! Canada Haiti Action Network 23/01/10 http://www.socialistvoice.ca/?p=973 23/01/10; see also The Kidnapping of Haiti by John Pilger 28/01/10 http://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2010/02/haiti-pilger-obama-venezuela

xxiv. US Military to Enforce State of Emergency in Haiti by Tom Eley 19/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j19.shtml

xxv. Missing children: Abduction and human trafficking? UNICEF 22/01/10 http://newstrendstoday.com/missing-children-abduction-human-trafficking/03755

xxvi. Adopted orphans arrive in France as UNICEF raises trafficking fears by France 24 22/01/10 http://www.france24.com/en/20100122-haiti-earthquake-missing-children-hospitals-trafficking-adoptions-unicef-spain

xxvii. Haiti revival after quake could take generations says UN chief Rory Carroll and Tom Phillips 29/01/10 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/29/haiti-quake-generations-un-decades

xxviii. Tamar Hahn in Haiti: orphaned and separated children 20/01/10 http://blogs.unicef.org.uk/archive/2010/01/20/tamar-hahn-in-haiti-orphaned-and-separated-children.aspx

xxix. Officer: U.S. missionaries had tried to take other Haitian kids Karl Penhall 09/02/10 http://edition.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/02/09/haiti.border.arrests/?hpt=T2

xxx. Clinton brokers deal over Haiti orphan abductions Tony Allen-Mills 07/02/10 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article7017950.ece

xxxi. Child Slavery in Haiti by Stephen Lendman 03/02/10 http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/02/child-slavery-in-haiti.html and Washington’s Militarized Takeover of Haiti by Stephen Lendman 25/01/10 http://www.rense.com/general89/wash.htm

xxxii. For example, UNICEF http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/women_disaster_relief.pdf; UNDP http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/publications/v.php?id=598 ; FAO http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/AC798E/ac798e0e.htm; as well as country-level for example, Cuba http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/trainings-events/edu-materials/v.php?id=4585, Venezuela http://www.proventionconsortium.org/themes/default/pdfs/CRA/Venezuela.pdf, India http://www.preventionweb.net/files/598_8373.pdf, Taiwan http://www.springerlink.com/content/7m748656p42jv543/, Australia http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/communities/progserv/Pages/disaster_assistance.aspx,

Lendman quotes Professor Francis Boyle “The forcible transfer of children of one group (Black Hatians) to another group (White Americans) is genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention (besides violating Fourth Geneva).” From Washington’s Militarized Takeover of Haiti by Stephen Lendman 25/01/10 http://www.rense.com/general89/wash.htm

A group of American Jews has launched a campaign on Facebook to break the law of return, whereby any Jew can move to Israel, while so many Palestinians remain unable to return to their ancestral villages. More here.

“Today there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees around the world. Israel denies their right to return to their homes and land….We renounce this “right” to “return” offered to us by Israeli law. It is not right that we may “return” to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed.”

President Paul Kagame has angrily dismissed any criticism of the Genocide ideology law coming from donors, human rights groups and exiled opposition, saying nobody has the right to undermine what happens in Rwanda, RNA reports.

Since the passing of a law in 2007 criminalizing negating the Genocide – described here as “Genocide Ideology”, critics have claimed that it has been used to stifle free speech and oppress the opposition. The harshest criticism came last year from the Commonwealth Human rights Initiative, which was strongly opposed to Rwanda’s admission into the British Commonwealth block.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the US government in its annual human rights reports, have repeated the same concerns. The latest came when New York-based Human Rights Watch claimed Wednesday that government was using the law “as a way of targeting and discrediting its critics”.

Amnesty International has also said that the terms of the law criminalizing “genocidal ideology”, are very “vague and ambiguous”. The group also says this law can restrict the ability of the accused to put forward a defence in criminal trials. The offence is punishable by 10 to 25 years’ imprisonment.

President Kagame on Friday seemed to have had enough. Addressing the judiciary, senior government officials and diplomats at the Parliamentary building at the start of the judicial year, Mr. Kagame described the criticism as “complete nonsense”.

The President wondered why international media and diplomats accredited to Kigali repeatedly claim the Genocide Ideology law is not clear.

“Sometimes a person wonders…‘but how come your laws criminalizing divisionism and others against negating the holocaust are not ambiguous?’ How come you implement them? What specialty do you have that others cannot have?”, said Mr. Kagame, in a mixture of English and Kinyarwanda.

“What they are trying to say is that all of you here seated with huts and robes have no brains,” he said, amid muted laughter from some of the audience. The President accused the West of consistently undermining “Rwandans and Africans” by always being suspicious of everything done on the continent.

With an unusually high-pitched tone, suggesting that he was very angry and not reading from his prepared speech, Mr. Kagame fired in English: “We’ve lived this life. We’ve lived the consequences. So, we understand it better than anyone from anywhere else.”

“Apart from this over-bearing attitude of always wanting to decide for others what they should do, what do these people have in their brains…heads that we don’t have?. What is it? Why almost everyday question what people do for themselves?”

Turning to Kinyarwanda, President Kagame told his audience that critics can only be found to be wrong depending on how the country’s institutions are built.

“We ensure all is done with ultimate courage…explain to whoever doesn’t understand…such that even if we remain with some who do not want to understand, just like we even have them,” he said.

Mr. Kagame said criticism from the outside should not make those implementing policies internally to lose morale because they are doing it all for themselves and the country.

“This is the only way that we will silence those who are always speaking nonsense,” he said.

The judiciary had earlier presented several achievement attained over the past year, and President Kagame was on hand – thanking them. He also promised to avail them with his contribution at anytime “because it is my responsibility”.

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Neuroscience and national security go together somewhat uneasily. Stick the two in a single sentence, and University of Pennsylvania historian Jonathan Moreno starts getting e-mails from all kinds of people who are sure they’ve been brainwashed by the CIA. (It might not help his inbox that he wrote a book called Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense.)

“It’s hard to talk about these issues in part because we have kind of a paranoid popular-culture background,” Moreno said. Maybe you’ve seen The Manchurian Candidate, or, more recently, The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Neuroscience and national security, though, sit at the forefront of the complex relationship between science and the military, bedfellows that have produced not just compelling fiction, but also real dilemmas for the researchers who bridge them.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science hosted a conference today of its year-old Science and Human Rights Coalition, a group whose joint concerns are embodied most starkly in the application of science to war.

“The human rights frame is almost completely missing from this discussion,” said Len Rubenstein, the former executive director of Physicians for Human Rights and now a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins. He spoke at the conference’s opening session. “The question of research for military purposes and scientific activity for military purposes is usually viewed either through the frame of professional ethics or scientific integrity. If human rights is introduced at all, it comes through the question of human subjects research with the Nuremberg Code.”

Scientists ought to consider, he argues, the broader question of human rights in work that ranges from weapons development to anthropology. As the science and potential military applications have grown more sophisticated, it follows that the ethics are now more complex, too.

Researchers, for instance, are already mulling whether beta-blockers could be used to reduce feelings of guilt in soldiers who do the unpleasant work of interrogation. Conversely, scientists wonder if oxytocin could induce trust in the interrogated. And what if neuro-imaging could help indicate what combatants are thinking? Or if brain monitoring could track how soldiers handle stress in training?

“We’re moving clearly more and more in the direction of being able to manage neural activity, manage behavior, attitudes and perception at a distance,” Moreno said.

Rubenstein, in response, pointed to the little-recognized Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It entitles a person to social security indispensable for both dignity and “the free development of his personality.”

“When we have weapons that are deliberately designed to change people’s personalities, to manipulate people’s personalities, we have a problem,” Rubenstein said. “Not only an ethical problem, not only a national security problem, we have a human rights problem.”

It’s not that human rights are opposed to national security, Rubenstein argues; this is why the Geneva Conventions attempt to regulate conduct in war, not oppose war all together. From there, the distinctions are important. Weapons incapable of discriminating between combatants and civilians — like land mines or cluster bombs — violate human rights, he said, suggesting scientists who contribute to developing them must bear this in mind.

The most public example of murky scientific involvement in warfare has come from the Pentagon’s Human Terrain System, a controversial program to embed anthropologists with soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Department of Defense billed the program, which was unveiled in 2007, as a path toward greater cultural understanding and, ultimately, less violence.

But the American Anthropological Association roundly denounced the program. The participating anthropologists typically wear military uniforms and sometimes carry firearms. The military has insisted the program isn’t designed to gather intelligence for combat, but the AAA questioned how the one can ever be separated from the other in the context of war.

The Human Terrain System, the AAA concluded, violates many of the association’s main ethical tenets, including the obligation to do no harm and to obtain “informed consent” from subjects — something it may be impossible to give when facing a scientist in uniform.

In the new worlds of asymmetrical warfare, counterterrorism and neuroscience, however, all of the ethical guidelines may not yet be written.

World Economic Crisis: Latvia’s Neoliberal Madness

February 15th, 2010 by Michael Hudson

While most of the world’s press focuses on Greece (and also Spain, Ireland and Portugal) as the most troubled euro-areas, the much more severe, more devastating and downright deadly crisis in the post-Soviet economies scheduled to join the Eurozone somehow has escaped widespread notice.

No doubt that is because their experience is an indictment of the destructive horror of neoliberalism – and of Europe’s policy of treating these countries not as promised, not as helping them develop along Western European lines, but as areas to be colonized as export markets and bank markets, stripped of their economic surpluses, their skilled labor and indeed, working-age labor generally, their real estate and buildings, and whatever was inherited from the Soviet era.

Latvia experienced one of the world’s worst economic crises. It is not only economic, but demographic. Its 25.5 percent plunge in GDP over just the past two years (almost 20 percent in this past year alone) is already the worst two-year drop on record.  The IMF’s own rosy forecasts anticipate a further drop of 4 percent, which would place the Latvian economic collapse ahead of the United States’ Great Depression The bad news does not end there, however. The IMF projects that 2009 will see a total capital and financial account deficit of 4.2 billion euros, with an additional 1.5 billion euros, or 9 percent of GDP, leaving the country in 2010.

Moreover, the Latvian government is rapidly accumulating debt. From just 7.9 percent of GDP in 2007, Latvia’s debt is projected to be 74 percent of GDP for this year, supposedly stabilizing at 89 percent in 2014 in the best-case IMF scenario.  This would place it far outside the debt Maastricht debt limits for adopting the euro. Yet achieving entry into the eurozone has been the chief pretext of the Latvia’s Central Bank for the painful austerity measures necessary to keep its currency peg. Maintaining that peg has burned through mountains of currency reserves that otherwise could have been invested in its domestic economy.

Yet nobody in the West is asking why Latvia has suffered this fate, so typical of the Baltics and other post-Soviet economies but only slightly more extreme. Nearly twenty years since these countries achieved freedom from the old USSR in 1991, the Soviet system hardly can be blamed as the sole cause of their problems. Not even corruption alone can be blamed – a legacy of the late Soviet period’s dissolution, to be sure, but magnified, intensified and even encouraged in the kleptocratic form that has provided such rich pickings for Western bankers and investors. It was Western neoliberals who financialized these economies with the “business friendly reforms” so loudly applauded by the World Bank, Washington and Brussels.

Far lower levels of corruption obviously are to be desired (but whom else would the West trust?), but dramatically reducing it would perhaps only improve matters up to the level of Estonia’s road into euro-debt peonage. These neighboring Baltic counties likewise have suffered dramatic unemployment, reduced growth, declining health standards and emigration, in sharp contrast to Scandinavia and Finland.

Joseph Stiglitz, James Tobin and other economists in the West’s public eye have began to explain that there is something radically wrong with the financialized order imported by Western ideological salesmen in the wake of the Soviet collapse. Neoliberal economics certainly was not the road that Western Europe took after World War II. It was a new experiment, whose dress rehearsal was imposed initially at gunpoint by the Chicago Boys in Chile. In Latvia, the advisors were from Georgetown, but the ideology was the same: dismantle the government and turn it over to political insiders.

For the post-Soviet application of this cruel experiment, the idea was to give Western banks, financial investors, and ostensibly “free market” economists (so-called because they gave away public property freely, untaxed it, and gave new meaning to the term “free lunch”) were given a free hand in much of the Soviet bloc to design entire economies. And as matters turned out, every design was the same. The names of individuals were different, but most were linked to and financed by Washington, the World Bank and European Union. And sponsored by the West’s financial institutions, one hardly should be surprised that they came up with a design in their own financial interest.

It was a plan that no democratic government in the West could have passed. Public enterprises were doled out to individuals trusted to sell out quickly to Western investors and local oligarchs who would move their money safely offshore into the Western havens. To cap matters, local tax systems were created that left the traditional two major Western bank customers – real estate and natural infrastructure monopolies – nearly tax free. This left their rents and monopoly pricing “free” of to be paid to Western banks as interest rather than used as the domestic tax base to help reconstruct these economies.

There were almost no commercial banks in the Soviet Union. Rather than helping these countries create banks of their own, Western Europe encouraged its own banks to create credit and load down these economies with interest charges – in euros and other hard currencies for the banks’ protection. This violated a prime axiom of finance: never denominate your debts in hard currency when your revenue is denominated in a softer one. But as in the case of Iceland, Europe promised to help these countries join the Euro by suitably helpful policies. The “reforms” consisted in showing them how to shift taxes off business and real estate (the prime bank customers) onto labor, not only as a flat income tax but a flat “social service” tax, so as to pay Social Security and health care as a user fee by labor rather than funded out of the general budget largely by the higher tax brackets.

Unlike the West, there was no significant property tax. This obliged governments to tax labor and industry. But unlike the West, there was no progressive income or wealth tax. Latvia had the equivalent of a 59 percent flat tax on labor in many cases. (American Congressional committee heads and their lobbyists can only dream of so punitive a tax on labor, so free a lunch for their main campaign contributors!) With a tax like this, European countries had nothing to fear from economies that emerged tax free with no property charges to burden their labor with taxes, low housing costs, low debt costs. These economies were poisoned from the outset. That is what made them so “free market” and “business friendly” from the vantage point of today’s Western economic orthodoxy.

Lacking the power to tax real estate and other property – or even to impose progressive taxation on the higher income brackets – governments were obliged to tax labor and industry. This trickle-down fiscal philosophy sharply increased the price of labor and capital, making industry and agriculture in neoliberalized economies so high-cost as to be uncompetitive with “Old Europe.” In effect the post-Soviet economies were turned into export zones for Old Europe’s industry and banking services.

Western Europe had developed by protecting its industry and labor, and taxing away the land rent and other revenue that had no counterpart in a necessary cost of production. The post-Soviet economies “freed” this revenue to be paid to Western European banks. These economies – debt-free in 1991 – were loaded down with debt, denominated in hard currencies, not their own. Western bank loans were not used to upgrade their capital investment, public investment and living standards. The great bulk of these loans were extended mainly against assets already in place, inherited from the Soviet period. New real estate construction did indeed take off, but the great bulk of it has now sunk into negative equity. And the Western banks are demanding that Latvia and the Baltics pay by squeezing out even more of an economic surplus with even more neoliberal “reforms” that threaten to drive even more of their labor abroad as their economies shrink and poverty spreads.

The pattern of a ruling kleptocracy at the top and an indebted work force – non- or weakly unionized, with few workplace protections – was applauded as a business-friendly model for the rest of the world to emulate. The post-Soviet economies were thoroughly “underdeveloped,” rendered hopelessly high-cost and generally unable to compete on anywhere near equal terms with their Western neighbors.

The result has been an economic experiment seemingly gone mad, a dystopia whose victims are now being blamed. Neoliberal trickle-down ideology – apparently being prepared for application to Europe and North America with an equally optimistic rhetoric – was so economically destructive that it is almost as if these nations were invaded militarily. So it is indeed time to start worrying about whether the Baltics may be a dress rehearsal for what we are about to see in the United States.

The word “reform” is now taking on a negative connotation in the Baltics, as it has in Russia. It has come to signify retrogression back to feudal dependency. But whereas feudal lords from Sweden and Germany ruled their Latvian manors by the power of landownership, they now control the Baltics by their foreign-currency mortgage loans against the region’s real estate. Debt peonage has replaced outright serfdom. Mortgages far in excess of actual market values, which have plunged by 50-70 percent in the past year (depending on housing type), also are far in excess of the ability of Latvian homeowners to pay. The volume of foreign-currency debt is far beyond what these countries can earn by exporting the products of their labor, industry and agriculture to Europe (which hardly wants any imports) or other regions of the world in which democratic governments are pledged to protect their labor force, not sell it out and subject it to unprecedented austerity programs – all in the name of “free markets.”
           
Several decades have passed since the neoliberal order was introduced, and the results are disastrous, if not almost a crime against humanity. Economic growth has not occurred. Soviet-era assets have simply been loaded down with debt. This is not how Western Europe developed after World War II, or earlier for the matter – or China most recently. These countries pursued the classical path of protection of domestic industry, public infrastructure spending, progressive taxation, public health and workplace safety regulations, legal prohibitions against insider dealing and looting – all anathema to neoliberal free-market ideology.

What is starkly at issue are the underlying assumptions of the world’s economic order. At the core of today’s crisis of economic theory and policy are the all but forgotten premises and guiding concepts of classical political economy. George Soros, Professor Stiglitz and others describe a global casino economy (which Soros certainly enriched himself by playing) in which finance has become detached from the process of wealth creation. The financial sector makes increasingly steep, even unpayably high claims on the real economy of goods and services.

This was the concern of the classical economists when they focused on the problem of rentiers, owners of property and special privilege whose revenues (with no counterpart in any necessary cost of production) led to a de facto tax on the economy – in this case, by imposing debt on it. Classical economists recognized the need to subordinate finance to the needs of the real economy. This was the philosophy that guided U.S. banking regulation in the 1930’s, and which West Europe and Japan followed from the 1950s through the 1970s to promote investment in manufacturing. Instead of checking the financial sector’s ability to engage in speculative excess, the United States overturned these regulations in the 1980s. From a bit below 5 percent of total U.S. profits in 1982, the financial sector’s after-tax profits rose to an unprecedented 41 per cent in 2007. In effect this zero-sum activity was an overhead “tax” on the economy.

Along with financial restructuring, the main item in the classical tool-kit was tax policy. The aim was to reward work and wealth creation, and to collect the “free lunch” resulting from “external” social economies as the natural tax base. This tax policy had the virtue of reducing the burden on earned income (wages and profits). Land was seen as supplied by nature without a labor-cost of production (and hence without cost value). But instead of making it the natural tax base, governments have permitted banks to load it down with debt, turning the rise in land’s rental value into interest charges. The result, in classical terminology, is a financial tax on society – revenue that society was supposed to collect as the tax base to invest in economic and social infrastructure to make society richer. The alternative has been to tax land and industrial capital. And what tax collectors have relinquished, banks now collect in the form of a rising price for land sites – a price for which buyers pay mortgage interest.
           
Classical economics could have predicted Latvia’s problems. With no curbs on finance or regulation of monopoly pricing, no industrial protection, privatization of the public domain to create “tollbooth economies,” and a tax policy that impoverishes labor and even industrial capital while rewarding speculators, Latvia’s economy has seen little economic development. What it has achieved – and what has won it such loud applause from the West – has been its willingness to rack up huge debts to subsidize its economic disaster. Latvia has too little industry, too little agricultural modernization, but over 9 billion lati in private debt – now at risk of being shifted onto the government’s balance sheet, just as has occurred with the U.S. bank bailouts.

If this credit had been extended productively to build Latvia’s economy, it would have been acceptable. But it was mostly unproductive, extended to fuel land-price inflation and luxury consumption, reducing Latvia to a state of near debt serfdom. In what Sarah Palin would call a “hopey-change thing,” the Bank of Latvia suggests that the bottom of the crisis has been reached. Exports finally have begun to pick up, but the economy is still in desperate straits. If current trends continue there will be no more Latvians left to inherit any economic revival. Unemployment still stands at more than 22 percent. Tens of thousands have left the country, and tens of thousands more have decided not to have children. This is a natural response to saddling the country with billions of lati in public and private debt. Latvia is not on a trajectory toward Western levels of affluence, and there is no way out of its current regressive tax policy and anti-labor, anti-industry and anti-agriculture neoliberalism being imposed so coercively by Brussels as a condition for bailing Latvia’s central bank out so that it can pay Swedish banks that have made such unproductive and parasitic loans.

Albert Einstein stated that “insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Latvia has employed the same self-destructive anti-government, anti-labor, anti-industrial, anti-agricultural “pro-Western” Washington Consensus for almost 20 years, and the results have become worse and worse. The task at hand now is to liberate the economy Latvia from its neoliberal road to neo-serfdom. One would think that the path selected would be the one charted by the classical 19th-century economists that guided the prosperity we see in the West and now also in East Asia.   But this will require a change of economic philosophy – and that will require a change of government.

The question is, how will Europe and the West respond. Will it admit its error? Or will it brazen it out? Signs today are not promising. The West says that labor has not been impoverished enough, industry has not been starved enough, and economic the patient has not been bled enough.

If this is what Washington and Brussels are saying to the Baltics, imagine what they are about to do to their own domestic populations!

 

Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist and now a Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), and president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET). He is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. He can be reached via his website, [email protected]

 

Jeffrey Sommers is co-director of the Baltic Research Group at ISLET, and visiting faculty at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.  He can be reached at jeffrey.sommers@fulbrightmail.org

Novi balkasnki ratovi već su na pragu (II)

February 14th, 2010 by Dr. Pyotr Iskenderov

У најскорије време драстично ће се заоштрити ситуација у Босни и Херцеговини. Босански Срби намеравају да у фебруару спроведу референдум о очувању свог конституционог статуса. Циљ референдума јесте да се омету власти Сарајева, САД и Европске уније да ликвидирају босанску Републику Српску. Председник Хрватске Стипе Месић, који одлази са функције 18. фебруара, обећао је да ће у случају спровођења оваквог плебисцита, или чак у фази његове припреме, регуларна хрватска армија ући на територију Босне и Херцеговине како би прекинула стратешки важан 15-километарски Посавски коридор. Он спаја западни и источни део Републике Српске у региону округа Брчко, у непосредној близини границе са Хрватском.

„Да сам предсједник Републике у тренутку када би Милорад Додик (премијер Републике Српске – аутор) у Републици Српској евентуално расписао референдум о отцјепљењу од БиХ, одмах бих војском прекинуо коридор у босанској Посавини у којој живе босански Срби“ – изјавио је хрватски председник и додао, да ће у случају успеха хрватске војне операције државна творевина босанских Срба једноставно „престати да постоји“. „Резултат референдума може бити не само подела босанских Срба, него и уништење српског дела Босне и Херцеговине“. Одговарајућа изјава дата је на неформалном сусрету одлазећег лидера са новинарима, 18. јануара у Загребу.

Војна операција против Бања-Луке може бити координирана са оружаном акцијом албанских власти Косова против града Косовска Митровица и Србима насељених општина Северног Косова. Реализација таквог сценарија омогућила би САД, НАТО, Европској унији и њиховим балканским спроводницима утицаја да окончају још једну етапу черечења српског простора. Република Српска нашла би се у окружењу непријатељских држава, што би је и дефинитивно лишило могућности да води самосталну спољну политику. Истовремено разбијање косовских и босанских Срба представљаће највећи пораз Русије у балканском региону у последње две деценије и нанети непоправљиву штету покушајима Москве да игра активну улогу у другим стратешки значајним регионима евроазијског простора.

Прва реакција на грубо мешање лидера Хрватске у послове суседне државе од стране Србије и Русије – две државе у које је, безусловно, циљао Месић – показала се чудно суздржаном. Српски председник Борис Тадић је покушао одговорити свом хрватском колеги на заседању Савета безбедности ОУН о Косову 22. јануара. Међутим, он то није учинио у основном реферату (иако је паралела између оног што се догађало тих недеља у Босни и Херцеговини и на Косову више него очигледна), већ у току дискусија, изјавивши о „неприхватљивости такве врсте изјава“. Сем тога, Борис Тадић се састао са Генералним секретаром ОУН Бан Ки Муном. Он му је на дипломатски начин саопштио да се „опасне речи“ Стипе Месића „не поздрављају у регионалном политичком говору“ и одмах уверио саговорника да Србија „не жели да квари односе са Хрватском“.

Мирољубива реторика погодовала је Загребу, па је шеф нове владе Хрватске Јадранка Косор изјавила новинарима да Србија и Хрватска треба да прекину полемику и позабаве се успостављањем добросуседских односа. „Није добро да се настави препирка“ – са наравоученијем је приметила госпођа Косор, а при том јој, разуме се, није пало на ум да дезавуише изјаву шефа хрватске извршне власти.

Реакција Русије такође изгледа прилично расплинуто. На конференцији за штампу 22. јануара, поводом спољнополитичких резултата 2009. године, руски министар иностраних послова Сергеј Лавров се у одговору на молбу да прокоментарише изјаву Стипе Месића, која је „изазовала праву политичку буру на Балкану“ ограничио на безличну формулацију: „Ми се доследно и одлучно залажемо за то, да све стране поштују дух и слово Дејтонских споразума. То искључује било какве позиве на примену метода силе у циљу минирања тих споразума“. (1)

Међутим, развој ситуације око Босне и Херцеговине током последњих месеци доказује управо супротно: Запад је, заједно са властима Сарајева, дефинитивно заузео курс у правцу минирања Дејтонских споразума. Две рунде преговора водећих босанских политичких партија у октобру 2009. године у натовској авиобази „Бутмир“ код Сарајева одредиле су јасан вектор нове западне стратегије у односу на Босну и Хрцеговину. Од босанских Срба се у ултимативној форми тражи да одустану од својих државотворних овлашћења, фиксираних у Дејтонском мировном споразуму. Што се Русије тиче, она је и уопште скрајнута изван оквира „бутмирског процеса“, иако је формално члан Руководећег савета за имплементацију Дејтонског споразума. Рачунати у тим условима да ће САД, Европска унија и НАТО изненада „прогледати“ и одустати од свог новог курса – значи начинити фаталну геополитичку грешку. А још ће исказати недопуштену немоћ у односу не само према задатку подршке босанских Срба, него и према задацима заштите руских интереса у Босни и Херцеговини, и уопште на Балкану.

Није случајно „Међународна кризна група“ , која се традиционално бави политичко-пропагандистичком логистиком западне политике у конфликтним регионима, још неколико месеци пре најновијих догађаја максимално отворено скицирала прилаз Балкану архитеката „новог светског поретка“. По мишљењу њених експерата, главни противници Запада у региону као и до сада су Москва и Београд, јер „у међународној политици у односу на Балкан доминира забринутост у погледу српске реакције на независност Косова“. Што се Русије тиче, она је по мишљењу „Међународне кризне групе“ „постала спремнија да се супростави западној политици, коју она сматра непријатељском њеним интересима“. (2)

У насталој ситуацији чини се да је сазрела потреба за преиспитивањем низа принципа и смерница у политици Москве на Балкану. Руска дипломатија требало би да одустане од подршке дејтонских одредница, јер оне немају шансе за политички опстанак у савременим условима. То ће са своје стране омогућити да се изведе аргументовани закључак о неодрживости Босне и Херцеговине као државе у њеном садашњем облику и поставити питање о њеном преуређењу. Сличан прилаз ће помоћи Москви да се ослободи испољене током последњих месеци улоге аутсајдера у босанским пословима и да се покрене механизам међународних дебата о предмету територијалних, политичких, етнокултурних и других компетенција за Србе и друге балканске народе, чији су интереси и сам опстанак као етноса доведени у опасност. Имајући у виду консолидовани курс Запада у правцу дефинитивне ликвидације на Балкану српског и православног животног простора, преиспитивање постојећих граница и унутрашњег уређења „проблематичних“ држава и самоопредељених територија, може се испоставити као једини сценариј, који објективно одговара руским интересима. Данас на балканској мапи присуствују најмање три општепризнате или самопроглашене државе, чија способност за постојање изазива озбиљне сумње: сем Босне и Херцеговине и Косова, то је такође Македонија. Њихово територијално и административно преформатирање може бити најбезболнији начин да се избегну нови крвави балкански ратови.

Индикативан је следећи моменат: власти Сарајева током последњих дана активно позивају управо Русију да помогне у „доследној и потпуној реализацији Дејтонског мировног споразума“. То је ових дана изјавио члан колективног Председништва Босне и Херцеговине, босански муслиман Харис Силајџић на сусрету са руским амбасадором Александром Боцан-Харченком. Имајући у виду да је господин Силајџић још од времена босанскогг етно-грађанског рата 1992-1995 године познат по крајње екстремистичким погледима и да неуморно позива са међународних трибина на укидање Републике Српске као „продукта етничког чишћења“, намеће се закључак да је Сарајево захватила озбиљна паника. Јер значајан део западноевропског јавног мнења не може а да не узме у обзир да управо босански Срби служе у Босни и Херцеговини као једина реална противтежа радикалним панисламистичким тенденцијама. И тај значајни фактор даје Русији основ за активнију игру у садашњој преломној за Балкан у целини етапи.

_____________________

[1] http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/0B514CB49F82A439C32576B40053C70E

[2] Bosnia’s Incomplete Transition: Between Dayton and Europe. Sarajevo-Brussels, 2009. P.14.


Петар Ахмедович ИСКЕНДЕРОВ
, старији научни сарадник Института славистике РАН, магистар историјских наука, међународни коментатор листа «Времја новостјеј» и радио-станице «Глас Русије».

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Novi balkasnki ratovi već su na pragu (I)

February 14th, 2010 by Dr. Pyotr Iskenderov

План албанских сепаратиста Косова да уз подршку САД и Европске уније угуше српски отпор на северу покрајине поприма све реалније обрисе. Изјаве власти Приштине и заоштрене међународне дискусије о косовском проблему омогућавају нам не само да изведемо закључак да албански екстремисти планирају оружану операцију, него и да представимо могући развој догађаја, расподелу улога, а и да оценимо степен међународне потпоре која је обећана премијеру Косова Хашиму Тачију и другим бившим главешинама терористичке „Ослободилачке војске Косова“.

Одржано 22. јануара отворено заседање Савета безбедности ОУН о Коосву обележено је усијањем страсти без преседана. По први пут од времена дискусија у лето 2007. године (када је Русији пошло за руком да баци у корпу разрађену од стране Запада резолуцију о признавању независности Коосва на основу плана специјалног представника Генералног секретара ОУН Марти Ахтисарија) позиције страна су сасвим јасно искристалисане. Водеће државе управо као да говоре различитим језицима. Ако су Генерални секретар ОУН Бан Ки Мун, САД и западноевропске земље које су га подржале, позвали – цитирамо извештај Генералног секретара – на „флексибилност у раду на одређивању начина деловања у поглеу учешћа Косова у регионалним и међународним механизмима и форумима“, Русија и Србија су у томе видели „истискивање“ ОУН са Косова и легитимизовање независног статуса покрајине. Међутим, у центру јавних дискусија по први пут се нашао припремани у Приштини такозвани план за „коначно решење питања Северног Косова“. О том је плану неколико дана пре заседања говорио премијер Тачи, који је изјавио да се дати план припрема уз учешће међународних представника и да има за циљ „јачање суверенитета и територијалне целовитости Косова“. Ова, 2010. година, требало би да буде „година консолидације косовске државе“ – обећао је Хашим Тачи. Међу основним задацима у плану је предвиђена ликвидација српских органа власти и управе, створених у граду Косовска Митровица и српским општинама које гравитирају овом граду, на основу избора који су одржани маја 2008. године у складу са законодавством Србије. Сем српских представничких органа, основни ударац ће бити усмерен против српских полицијских органа и царинских служби, које данас колико-толико контролишу трафик преко административне границе Косова са осталом Србијом.

Размештене на Косову натовске снаге КФОР пружају албанцима оружану подршку. Према расположивим информацијама, то питање је принципијелно решено у току раније посете Приштини команданта јужног крила НАТО у Европи, амнеричког адмирала Марка Фицџералда. По окончању својих преговора са косовским руководством и командом снага КФОР он је органе власти косовских Срба означио као…“Опасност по безбедност“ Косова. „Сва кршења резолуције 1244 Савета безбедности ОУН ми третирамо као опасност по безбедност. Пошто паралелне структуре власти нису прихватљиве по тој резолуцији, ми изражавамо забринутост“, – подвукао је адмирал.

Посебна пажња у плану Приштине поклоњена је међународном покривању припремане операције. Тај задатак је стаљен у надлежност САД и Европске уније. Американци треба да блокирају покушаје Србије и Русије да усвоје резолуцију у Савету безбедности ОУН. Од Брисела се пак тражи да још више пооштри притисак на руководство Србије како би она одустала да подржава косовске Србе и затворила административну границу са Косовом за српске добровољце.

Што се тиче времена извођења операције, она може бити реализована већ у априлу. То ће се догодити након објављивања расплинутог саветодавног мишљења о статусу Косова Међународног суда ОУН у Хагу и стварања на северу покрајине „општине Митровица“. У њеном руководству ће бити ангажовани албанци и мањи број Срба који пристану да сарађују са Приштином. Познати по својој прозападној оријентацији председник Србије Борис Тадић је у свом излагању поводом антисрпског плана Приштине, НАТО и ЕУ био веома опрезан. Он је изјавио да „разрађено у Приштини „коначно решење питања Северног Косова не носи ничег доброг онима који тамо живе“. Још отвореније се и жешће изразио први заменик сталног представника Русије у ОУН Игор Шчербак. „Ми сматрамо да у садашњој сложеној ситуацији треба одлучно пресецати покушаје – ма од кога они долазили – промовисања штетних концепција за Косово, које не само да на најгрубљи начин крше резолуцију Савета безбедности ОУН 1244, него и провоцирају напетост у покрајини и тамо дестабилизују ситуацију“.

У разрађени план, према расположивим информацијама, умешали су прсте не само чланови косовске владе, него и руководилац Међународне цивилне канцеларије на Косову Питер Фејт, који је такође на челу косовске мисије Европске уније. Та је канцеларија отворена у пролеће 2008. године – одмах након самопроглашења независности Косова и његовог признавања од стране САД и водећих земаља-чланица ЕУ. У састав датог органа (који није предвиђен ни у ком документу ОУН) улазе представници 14 држава ЕУ и НАТО, а такође Швајцарска, која се бави практичном реализацијом на Косову „Ахтисаријевог плана“, који је разрађен у бриселским коридорима, али није одобрен од стране Савета безбедности ОУН. Карактеристично је да заступник Косова на заседању Савета безбедности ОУН министар иностраних послова у сепаратистичкој влади Скендер Хисени у свом излагању уопште није коментарисао план за Северно Косово. А када се појавио пред новинарима, он је увијено саопштио да Мисија Европске уније на Косову и Међународна цивилна канцеларија „не промовишу никакву врсту „коначног решења питања Северног Косова“.

Анализа оног што се догађа у последње време око Косова омогућава да се изведе закључак, да се разрада сценарија за угушивање српског отпора обавља на ширем нивоу, а не само на Косову. По својим основним параметрима (незадржива оружана операција уз подршку псеудомировних снага НАТО и ЕУ, њена међународна политичко-дипломатска логистика, коришћење марионетске администрације) план за „коначно решење питања Северног Косова“ кореспондира са оним сценаријем који је председник Грузије Михаил Сакашвили разрадио за војну операцију против Јужне Осетије августа 2008. године. Чак је и циљ оба документа аналоган (у приказу Сакашвилија он је формулисан као „успостављање уставне јурисдикције“).

А још раније – у августу 1995. године – аналоган сценариј је испробан у односу на крајинске Србе. Хрватска је против њих упутила регуларну армију, а САД и Европска унија су обавили политичпку логистику. Уосталом, тада се она показала сувишном, пошто ни власти Југославије, ни руководство Русије реално нису стали иза Републике Српска Крајина, која се гушила у крви. Тадашњег југословенског лидера Слободана Милошевића више је бринуло уклањање рукама међународних посредника са општесрпске политичке сцене Радована Караџића и Ратка Младића, које је он без основа сматрао главним и најопаснијим конкурентима. Што се Москве тиче, Балкан тада није био у сфери њеног нарочитог интересовања, и Москва је испољавала тек делимично интересовање само за босанско сређивање.

Како ће се развијати догађаји овог пута – веома је тешко рећи. Јер сем косовског, на мапи нових балканских ратова могуће је појављивање исто тако важног за Српство, Православље и Русију босанског фронта. Њега је већ обећао да ће отворити председник Хрватске Стипе Месић, који одлази са своје функције 18. фебруара. Он је изјавио да хрватска армија треба да изведе војну операцију против босанске Републике Српске, ако она спроведе референдум о самоопределењу по косовском обрасцу.

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Петар Ахмедович ИСКЕНДЕРОВ, старији научни сарадник Института славистике РАН, магистар историјских наука, међународни коментатор листа «Времја новостјеј» и радио-станице «Глас Русије».

Tekst na engleskom jeziku možete naći na Global Research

MOSCOW – There is no reason not to fulfill the contract for the supply of S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense systems to Iran, the Russian Security Council said.

“There is the signed contract that we must fulfill, but supplies have not started yet. This deal is not restricted by any international sanctions, because these are merely defensive weapons,” Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Vladimir Nazarov told Interfax.

“Any our actions must facilitate global and regional stability, respect for international law and international commitments, including under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that is another matter,” Nazarov said.

Russia repeatedly stated that S-300 systems are purely defensive. Israel and the United States repeatedly asked Russia to refrain from supplying S-300 systems to Iran.

“Russia received and continues to receive many requests and even demands to supply or not to supply weapons. Those countries that are addressing such calls to us should better look at their own deals with Georgia,” Nazarov said.

Prior to Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia in August 2008 Russia was trying to convince Western partners not to providing military aid to Tbilisi, he said. “Our calls were ignored. It should be recalled that the Georgian aggression resulted in the deaths among Russian servicemen and Russian civilians,” Nazarov said.

Full interview with V. Nazarov will be posted on the www.interfax.ru website and published in the Kommersant daily on February 15. 

Right-wing Christian leaders are making a concerted push to gain thousands of new signatures for their hate-filled Manhattan Declaration.

Religious right leaders are making a concerted push to gain thousands of new signatures for their “Manhattan Declaration,” a manifesto released late last year by about 150 conservative Christian leaders. The document, signed by such religious-right heavy-hitters as Focus on the Family eminence James Dobson and Prison Fellowship Ministries leader Chuck Colson, compares pro-choice advocates to eugenicists (and implicitly to Nazis) and equates same-sex marriage with polygamy and a gateway to legalized incest. Its authors promise to defy any law that does not comport with their religious beliefs. Joining the religious right’s Protestant leaders as signatories to the declaration are four Roman Catholic bishops, including those presiding over the powerful archdioceses of New York and Washington, DC.

Described by New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein as “an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush,” declaration authors initially set a target for a million signatures by December 1. Although they fell well short of that goal, they claimed at press time to have gathered more than 419,000 signatures and have redoubled their efforts to add more names.

The American Family Association made the Manhattan Declaration the centerpiece of a January fundraising letter, urging members to sign the document, warning of the grave threat from “the anti-family/anti-religious radicals who control the White House and Congress.” Focus on the Family posted a note on its “Action Center” on January 14. And several U.S. Catholic bishops — Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville — are urging their fellow bishops to preach about the declaration, get signatures from the faithful and use the document as an organizing vehicle.

If You’re Not With Us, You’re a Lot Like a Nazi

Supporters of legal access to abortion and supporters of physician-assisted suicide are described in the 4,700-word manifesto as “those who today assert a right to kill the unborn, aged and disabled.” The declaration goes on to link reproductive rights and death-with-dignity advocates with the early-20th-century eugenicists whose notions fueled the murderous Nazi ideology of genetic purity. From the declaration:

Eugenic notions such as the doctrine of lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) were first advanced in the 1920s by intellectuals in the elite salons of America and Europe. Long buried in ignominy after the horrors of the mid-20th century, they have returned from the grave. The only difference is that now the doctrines of the eugenicists are dressed up in the language of “liberty,” “autonomy,” and “choice.”

In other words, the declaration suggests the only difference between Nazi master-race theorists and today’s pro-choice and death-with-dignity advocates is rhetorical.

Similar respect is accorded to same-sex couples and those who support them. The declaration never mentions same-sex relationships without pairing them with polyamorous relationships or incest, a fact reflected in the headline of an Associated Press story (as it appears on Edge, an LGBT Web site) about the declaration: “Evangelicals, Catholics: Gay Marriage Paves the Way to Incest.” That, along with the well-documented anti-gay histories of many signers, makes it hard to take seriously the document’s assertion that it is “love (not ‘animus’) and prudent concern for the common good (not ‘prejudice’)” that is motivating the signers’ pledge to resist and defy laws that recognize civil marriage equality.

For the declaration’s authors, the concept of civil union seems worthy of contempt. “No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage,” they write — echoing sentiments found on the site of the Conference of Catholic Bishops explaining the church’s opposition to any legal recognition of same-sex relationships: “We strongly oppose any legislative and judicial attempts, both at state and federal levels, to grant same-sex unions the equivalent status and rights of marriage — by naming them marriage, civil unions, or by other means.”

According to the declaration, marriage is, in the final analysis, about creating a “reproductive unit.” Yes, marriage may be about an emotional and spiritual commitment, but only one that is “completed and actualized” by sexual intercourse that fulfills “the behavioral conditions of procreation.”

America on the Brink of Anti-Christian Tyranny and Totalitarianism

The Manhattan Declaration, while presented as a religious tract, is more a political offensive, and its primary target appears to be President Barack Obama. Princeton University law professor Robert George, who co-authored the document with Chuck Colson, explained on Dobson’s radio show that one impetus for the declaration was the election of Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in Congress, who, he claims, are out to destroy traditional marriage and basic Christian values. The manifesto warns that restrictions on the right of religious institutions to discriminate in hiring threatens to undermine civil society and lead to “soft despotism.”

Although the document’s rhetoric sounds some old and familiar right-wing themes, it’s dressed up for the Obama era to include the now-standard right-wing warnings that the administration and its congressional allies are leading the United States into an era of Nazi-like tyranny. The document’s authors and signers preen as willing martyrs for the cause of religious liberty, highlighting dramatic, fictional claims of anti-Christian persecution run amok in America. “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers,” the authors write, “that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”

David Dockery, president of the Southern Baptist-affiliated Union University, compared the Manhattan Declaration to the 1934 Barmen Declaration of the confessing churches in Nazi Germany resisting the Nazi-sympathizing state church. In a Web video promoting the document, Colson urged viewers to read Hanna Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, saying, “It is a very chilling book. It is prophetic, however, in its application to today.”

In discussing the declaration with George and Colson on his radio show, James Dobson stated that with the passage of hate crimes legislation, “it could get very costly to follow this Christ,” meaning that pastors and Christians are about to come under direct attack from the government, to which Robert George responded that Christian “martyrs have [always] been called on to pay the ultimate price rather than to deny the Lord or to do what is evil in his sight.”

The document repeats bogus claims about the new federal hate crimes law, neglecting to note the law’s explicit affirmation of First Amendment protections for free speech and religious liberty:

In Canada and some European nations, Christian clergy have been prosecuted for preaching Biblical norms against the practice of homosexuality. New hate-crime laws in America raise the specter of the same practice here.

The Hype

Despite the hyperventilated claims by the declaration’s authors to be staking out new historical ground, the message essentially rehashes the anti-gay and anti-abortion messages religious right leaders have been spouting for decades.

This basic message, while gussied up in pages of prose from George and Colson, echoes speeches we’ve heard again and again by James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and many of the other familiar religious right leaders who are among the original signers.

Grandiose claims have been made about the Declaration’s importance, based on the fact that it includes Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox leaders, and trumpeting its threats of widespread civil disobedience in response to civil marriage equality, legal abortion and end-of-life issues:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Promoters of the Manhattan Declaration have made a big deal out of the supposedly historical significance of getting Roman Catholics, evangelicals and Orthodox Christians together on the same document and the same press conference podium. But this isn’t 1950, and it’s not really all that amazing for conservative Christians to join forces across denominational lines in a political battle.

Anti-choice Catholics and evangelicals have long worked side by side in opposition to legal abortion, as they are currently doing to try to use health-care reform efforts to further restrict women’s access to reproductive health services. In recent months, Catholic bishops have devoted massive financial resources and political muscle to resisting domestic partnerships and marriage equality, and shown themselves ever more willing to stand with extreme anti-gay voices of the evangelical right. In December, Catholic leaders shocked even many Washington-area Catholics by threatening to abandon Catholic Charities’ extensive social service partnerships with the DC government if the marriage equality bill moving forward in the DC Council becomes law.

Nevertheless, the document’s promoters insist it is history in the making. Manhattan Declaration co-author Chuck Colson said it was the most important document he has ever signed. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said nothing of this significance has happened in his lifetime, and gushed on his television show that Colson, one of the authors of the declaration, would be “one of the great influences on history.”

Document signers have been compared with, and compared themselves with, every Christian hero from the early martyrs to Martin Luther King. Huckabee suggested the document’s historical importance equaled that of Martin Luther sparking the Protestant Reformation by nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. James Dobson called it “a defining moment in America for the Christian church.” (Of course, Dobson sees every election cycle as a defining moment.)

Appearing on Fox Newschannel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Ann Coulter told Bill O’Reilly it is a “fantastic statement” that might “wake up” the church.

Anti-abortion activist and WorldNetDaily columnist Jill Stanek wrote, “In my mind, signing the Manhattan Declaration is the closest I’ll come to understanding the thoughts and feelings of those signing the Declaration of Independence. Those men were willing to pay the ultimate price to stand against tyranny.”

Given that in many parts of the world, Christians and people of other faiths are actively persecuted and killed for their religious beliefs, it’s nothing short of shameful that these privileged and powerful public figures are pretending they run the same risk for their anti-gay and anti-abortion advocacy in America. After all, it isn’t anti-choice activists in America who have been paying the “ultimate price,” but doctors and other workers at clinics providing women in America with medical care who have been killed by advocates for “life.”

The first 168 signers included an array of figures from the religious right legal and political movement, including James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, William Donohue, Jim Daly, Jonathan Falwell, Richard Land, Mark Tooley and Alan Sears; Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage; anti-gay clergy like Rev. Ken Hutcherson, Rev. Jim Garlow and Bishop Harry Jackson; and Frank Schubert, the campaign strategist who devised the fearmongering anti-marriage campaigns in California and Maine. Also included were a number Roman Catholic Bishops, including Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, some elders of Orthodox churches, and Peter Akinola, primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria and a leading anti-gay voice in the Anglican church. Filling out the initial list are conservative professors, theologians and editors and publishers of conservative Christian publications.

Asking rhetorically if the attention-seeking Declaration was a sign of desperation or a show of power by the religious right, journalist and author Sarah Posner calls it “proof that the culture wars are not only not over; there hasn’t even been a truce.”

Politics or Religion?

Chuck Colson, one of the document’s authors, rejected the notion that the declaration is a political manifesto of the religious right, saying “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“This document is a clarion call to reach out to the poor and suffering,” he said. Maybe he’s referring to an earlier draft. In fact, the Manhattan Declaration is so far from the “clarion call” Colson describes that Jonathan Merritt, a younger evangelical, wrote in the Newsweek/Washington Post “On Faith” blog that “this declaration has relegated” other issues of moral concern — such as poverty and degradation of the environment — “to little more than a footnote.”

Progressives expressed their own concern. “This declaration simply perpetuates the fallacy that equality and religious liberty are incompatible and every step toward fairness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is another burden on religious people,” writes Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion & Faith Program. “In reality, non-discrimination laws are working all over this country, where religious freedom is existing side-by-side with equal opportunity.”

The Religious Institution for Sexual Morality and Healing issued a statement describing the declaration as “a political call against women’s moral agency and the rights of lesbian and gay persons dressed up in religious language.”

The declaration “profoundly misrepresents the moral questions Christians encounter in America today,” said Reverend Timothy McDonald, founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council and a board member of People For the American Way Foundation. “Perhaps even more importantly, I am deeply disappointed that the signers of this document would use scare tactics and mistruths to generate a wholly synthetic threat to religious liberty.”

A Los Angeles Times editorial called the declaration’s invocation of King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail “specious,” saying the signers, “even as they insist on their right to shape the nation’s laws, are reserving the right to violate them in situations far removed from King’s witness.” The editorial also states:

Strong words, but also irresponsible and dangerous ones. The strange land described in this statement is one in which a sinister secularist government is determined to force Christians to betray their principles about abortion or the belief that “holy matrimony” is “an institution ordained by God.” The idea that same-sex civil marriage will undermine religious marriage is a canard Californians will remember from the campaign for Proposition 8, as is the declaration’s complaint that Christian leaders are being prevented from expressing their “religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.”

In the end, the Manhattan Declaration reflects rather than revolutionizes the trend toward a weakening of denominational lines and a strengthening of theological and ideological ties across denominational lines. In many ways, right-wing evangelicals and Catholics have increasingly had more in common with each other, particularly regarding public policy and religion in politics, than liberal and conservatives within any particular denomination.

But it also reflects a potentially more troubling hardening of right-wing resistance to legal abortion and to cultural shifts that signal a nation increasingly supportive of equality for LGBT people. In a diverse and increasingly pluralistic nation, these conservative Christian leaders are inflaming false fears of religious persecution in order to justify their own intransigence and unwillingness to abide by legal, political and cultural changes they don’t like.

If, as these and other conservative Christians have declared, their positions on abortion and end-of-life issues and marriage are “inviolable and non-negotiable,” where does that lead? Clearly, it may lead to the Archdiocese of Washington decreeing that its supposed need not to provide health care benefits to the partner of a gay employee is more important than its multi-million-dollar partnerships with the District of Columbia government to provide services to the homeless and hungry.

And it could lead to worse. The editors of the Los Angeles Times called the Manhattan Declaration’s “apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking” both disingenuous and dangerous, and asked, “Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn?”

The signers, concludes the editorial, “need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men — even holy men.”

Amen.

Peter Montgomery is a senior fellow at People For the American Way Foundation. T

America, the Land of Inequality

February 14th, 2010 by Tom Eley

New studies reveal that the social divide between rich and poor in the US has grown much starker in the current economic crisis, and that even before it hit the country was the most unequal of the advanced economies, with great wealth and extreme poverty having become virtually hereditary conditions.

President Barack Obama has done nothing to reverse decades of wage stagnation, mounting poverty, and attacks on the social welfare system. On the contrary, following George W. Bush, he has seized on the crisis to redistribute wealth to a tiny financial elite through the ongoing bailout of the finance industry.

This demonstrates a fundamental political reality: no reform that benefits the broad masses can come from a government and two-party system so openly in the clutches of Wall Street. The financial aristocracy’s grip over all the levers of state power must be broken by the working class, independently mobilized behind a socialist program.

The impoverishment of the working masses amidst the current economic crisis is documented by a recent report from Northeastern University analyzing unemployment in 2009, based on income data for the previous year.

Unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2009 for those in the bottom 10 percent of household earnings was at the Depression level of 31 percent. A broader measure of unemployment, the labor market underutilization rate—which combines unemployment, underemployment, and those who have fallen out of the workforce because they have ceased actively searching for work—was over 50 percent among the bottom decile of earners, for the second decile, 37.6 percent, and for the third and fourth lowest income deciles, 17.1 percent and 15 percent, respectively. For the top 10 percent of earners, the underutilization rate was 6.1 percent.

The data is indicative of “a true Great Depression,” according to the report, yet “there was no labor market recession for America’s affluent.”

The sharp polarization that reveals itself in fabulous wealth for a handful, on the one hand, and unemployment, wage cuts, homelessness and hunger for broad layers of working people on the other, marks an intensification of longer-term trends.

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), “While many middle-income families have lost jobs, homes, and retirement savings during the latest recession, their economic woes date back much further.” In the 30 years before 2008—the onset of the current crisis—nearly 35 percent of total income growth in the US was cornered by the top one-tenth of 1 percent of income earners. The bottom 90 percent shared only 15.9 percent of income growth in the same period.

According to the United Nation’s Gini coefficient, which measures the national distribution of family income, the US had the highest level of inequality of the highly industrialized countries, based on the data available in 2008. It was ranked as slightly more unequal than Sri Lanka, and on a par with Ghana and Turkmenistan. In the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book’s Gini ranking for 2008, the US fell just behind Cameroon.

The apologists for US capitalism have long claimed that, though inequality may be great, America is a land where anyone can go “from rags to riches” by “pulling themselves up by their boot straps.”

Not so, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which concludes that in the US “mobility in earnings, wages and education across generations” is at or near the lowest of the advanced economies. The US joined Italy and Britain as the countries where a worker’s father’s earnings are most determinant of his or her own wages. Moreover, in the US the role of parents’ educational level on the educational achievement of their children was more pronounced than any other country, the report reveals.

The vast polarization of wealth in the US will only intensify. According to the Obama administration’s rosy economic estimates, unemployment will not return to its pre-crash levels before the end of the decade. More realistic observers, however, acknowledge that mass unemployment will be a fixture of US life, and higher-paying jobs destroyed in the recession will never return. Combined with declining home values, skyrocketing health care and higher education costs, chronically high unemployment will result in steadily rising poverty.

But for the CEOs and bankers perched at the pinnacle of US society, the economic crisis has proven an out-and-out bonanza, a recent New York Times report reveals. John G. Stumpf, the head of the bank Wells Fargo, took home $18.7 million in 2009. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan was number two in banker pay with $17.6 million in compensation. Lloyd Blankfein, whose Goldman Sachs has reaped windfall profits in the financial collapse, was awarded “only” $10 million.

These big name bankers are only the tip of the iceberg. “There are probably thousands of people that are in the Millionaire Club—or even the Ten Millionaire Club—that have gotten no heat,” Wall Street compensation expert Alan Johnson told the Times.

Obama defends these obscene pay packages. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth,” he said of the eight-figure rewards for the same financial executives whose firms have benefited from trillions in taxpayer support. “That is part of the free-market system.”

In fact “most of the American people” not only begrudge these ill-gotten gains. They wonder why they have yet to see news footage of bankers and traders arrested and hauled from their plush offices. Now working class anger is becoming increasingly trained on the political system, which, as a year’s experience with the Obama administration has taught, does the bidding of Wall Street regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress.

The antidote to the plundering of society that has gone unchecked for decades is the nationalization of the banks and their transformation into public institutions, democratically controlled by working people. The ill-gotten gains of the lords of finance must be expropriated and used to put in place a program of full employment, free universal health care, free higher education, and infrastructure development.

The fight for this program requires the mobilization of the working class in the US and internationally, independent of the Democrats and Republicans and all the political formations that defend the existing capitalist set-up.

White House Projects Long-Term Mass Unemployment

February 14th, 2010 by Joe Kishore

The White House Council of Economic Advisers released its Economic Report to the President on Thursday, outlining the administration’s economic projections and policies. The report shows that the White House is expecting mass unemployment to continue for years, with only minor decreases from the current rate of nearly 10 percent through 2012.

According to the report, the official unemployment rate—which does not include those who have given up looking for work—will remain at 10 percent this year, slightly higher than its current 9.7 percent. In 2011, it is expected to fall to 9.2 percent, and in 2012 to 8.2 percent. Official unemployment is not expected to fall below 6 percent until 2015, and will remain above 5 percent through 2020.

The projections are in fact optimistic. They are based on the assumption that real GDP will grow by 3.0 percent this year (4th quarter to 4th quarter), and 4.3 percent in 2011. This compares to real GDP growth of -1.9 percent in 2008 and -0.5 percent in 2009.

The administration notes in a side comment that the high unemployment will keep wages low, stating, “Traditionally, the large amount of slack would be expected to put substantial downward pressure on wage and price inflation.”

The proposals that the report outlines to address the crisis are derisory, focusing largely on tax breaks, continuing the administration’s policy of rejecting any direct government hiring. High unemployment makes “a compelling case for additional measures to spur private sector job creation,” the report states.

Any measures must take into account that “the country faces significant long-run fiscal challenges,” the report stresses. It proposes tax breaks for small business and “additional steps to increase the availability of loans backed by the Small Business Administration.”

This latter proposal will do little to revive small business hiring. Large banks, the recipients of trillions of dollars of loans from the government, have squeezed off financing. The administration has proposed no measures to force banks to lend, the nominal purpose of the bank bailouts.

Other proposals include “initiatives to encourage energy efficiency” and the possibility of an additional $50 billion in infrastructure spending, funneled through private companies.

A significant portion of the 458-page report is dedicated to discussing the administration’s plans for cost-cutting, particularly with regard to health care spending, restating Obama’s position that “the projection of steadily increasing future deficits is largely due to the continuation of the decades-long trend of rising health care costs.”

Underscoring the long-term plans of the government to drive down the living standards of American workers, it stresses the need for a “transition from consumption-driven growth to a greater emphasis on investment and exports.”

The White House report comes as Senate Democrats are preparing to push through a “jobs” bill that largely follows the prescriptions set out by the administration. There has been some political infighting within the Democratic Party and between leading Democrats and Republicans over the precise scope of the bill and what assortment of tax breaks will be included, but none of the proposals contain any serious measures to alleviate unemployment.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid surprised some leading Democrats when he announced that he was not supporting a bipartisan bill worked out by Senate Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Charles Grassley, but was instead advancing a more pared-down version.

Liberal Democrats have hailed Reid’s move because it throws out certain tax breaks for Republicans. However, it also removes an extension on unemployment benefits and subsidies to help the jobless keep their health insurance.

Reid’s proposal would amount to $15 billion over 10 years, a sum that hardly rises to the level of paltry in comparison to the level of unemployment. Its centerpiece is a tax break for businesses that hire unemployed workers, waiving the 6.2 percent Social Security tax. The measure would provide a perverse incentive for employers to lay off older workers and hire those who have been out of work. Another component would give a $1,000 credit for business that retain new employees for at least one year.

Reid’s bill would also allow businesses to accelerate the tax write-off for capital investments. It would reauthorize spending on some ongoing construction projects and would give a small federal subsidy to states to help cover interest on loans for public works projects.

This last measure only serves to underscore the determination of the federal government to force states to balance their budgets by slashing jobs and social programs. In January alone, 40,000 local and state government jobs were eliminated.

The projected budget deficit for the states in the coming fiscal year is $142 billion, exceeding the $125 billion gap last year. These deficits are many times the amount the Democrats propose to spend on jobs over the next ten years.

The broader bill agreed by Baucus and Grassley was estimated to cost $85 billion over ten years and included a number of additional tax breaks, mainly for corporations, as well as the extension of unemployment benefits.

The move by Reid to scuttle the Baucus/Grassley bill, which was reportedly supported by the White House, reflects various conflicts over specific proposals. One significant factor, however, appears to be Reid’s concern that the Democrats be positioned to run in the November elections as the party of “fiscal austerity.” He told Politico, “Grassley and three to four Republicans would have voted for it, but all the other Republicans would have beaten the living s—t out of us [during the 2010 midterm elections], claiming the bill was too bloated.”

The Associated Press, in a report published on Wednesday (“Promises, Promises: Jobs bill won’t add many jobs”), commented that the broader Senate bill “has a problem: It won’t create many jobs.”

“Even the Obama administration acknowledges the legislation’s centerpiece—a tax cut for businesses that hire unemployed workers—would work only on the margins,” the AP reported.

The AP cited a report from the Congressional Budget Office that estimated that the Social Security tax break would generate only 18 full-time jobs per $1 million spent. Some 14.8 million Americans are presently unemployed, and 8.4 million jobs have been wiped out since December 2007.

The jobs proposals are part of a deliberate policy of the Obama administration, supported by Congressional Democrats and Republicans. The bailout of the banks has created conditions for record bonuses and profits for Wall Street firms, while massively increasing government debt. Not only will there be no measures taken to alleviate the jobs crisis; the government is determined to pay off these debts at the expense of the working class.

Iraq: St. Valentine’s Day Massacres: Still Ongoing

February 14th, 2010 by Felicity Arbuthnot

Nineteen years ago, on the night of 13th/14th February 1991, the Ameriya Shelter, on Baghdad’s outskirts, was deliberately targeted by US missiles, in a war crime which near excelled the litany of criminal acts in the onslaught which then Secretary of State, James Baker, promised would: “reduce Baghdad to a pre-industrial age.”

My memories of Ameriya have been left in their immediacy, rather than again updated. (See below.)

On 13th/14th February this year, the US is still extinguishing Iraqis, detaining without trial (and almost certainly worse) in the name of “nation building” (read: nation erasing) after near seven years of murderous occupation. In the other country the US and UK are systematically destroying, Afghanistan, on precisely the anniversary of the Shelter bombing, they have launched another St Valentine’s Eve and Day massacre. It is also another equally infamous anniversary: that of the fire bombing of Dresden.

“Operation Moshtarak”, in Helmand Province, the biggest “surge” since the numerous other biggest surges since 2001, in this graveyard of Empires and Afghans, is set to create Ameriya’s incendiary tragedy throughout the towns and villages of the region.

The US military is to “clear” (read kill) “suspected Taliban” (their trained and paid allies when the USSR invaded) from the region. Rule of law shredded, “suspects” are no longer tried, simply summarily executed. Over the years, a surprising number of “suspects” have still been in diapers. Quite a few have also been in wedding dresses.

The US military, of course, reverted to their old habit to “avoid civilian casualties.” They dropped leaflets telling the locals to leave to avoid casualties. According to UNICEF, just 28% of the population is literate,  far less in rural areas. In the frozen wastes of a February Afghan winter, where are they to go?  (In 1991, the US dropped several tonnes of leaflets with the same warning to the Marsh Arabs in Iraq. Illiterate but not stupid, they sold this bounty to the government, unable to import paper under the embargo.)

In 1750, Ahmad Shah’s army, is said to have lost eighteen thousand men in Afghanistan from cold, in a single night in February, the most Siberian month, where the temperature falls to an average low of -8 C., and the eastern reaches of the Hari river can freeze so hard that people travel it as a road.

“This is not going to be a Falluja” said Major General Nick Carter, “that’s not the model.” Oh good. “Moshtarak” means “together”, in the Dari language. At least it’s not the Wild West “Panther’s Claw” mark two, title of the last absolutely “final surge.”

In more quaint army-speak, General Carter refers to “inserting” the fifteen thousand testosterone-driven troops, backed by bombs, bullets, possibly the odd bit of white phosphorous and other aids to “pacification” and “bringing the government in behind us.” One could almost think it was a raunchy Friday night on the town, rather than a killing spree.

The troops refer to this “insertion” as: “lawn mowing.” What is it about blood baths and gardening euphemisms? Remember those military human shredding machines,”daisy cutters”?

So as Ameriyah is commemorated in the hearts of Iraqis, a day which is as yesterday for all Baghdadis, keep the Afghan people also in your hearts, in their terror, this Dresden replicating Valentine’s Day.

In her new book, to be launched on Wednesday 17th February, Iraqi writer and activist Haifa Zangana comments of  Iraq:

“We wanted to put an end to this but we failed. The war and occupation in 2003, apart from shattering Iraq as a country and a people, has brought about many more imprisonments, many more deaths. Abu Ghraib is only one of many symbols. In occupied Iraq, torture became an instrument of humiliation and of a way to force a nation into submission. As we resist occupation now, our message is clear: We did not struggle for decades to replace one torturer with another.”(1)

An eloquent encapsulation for those in both occupied, invaded, terrorised, defiled lands.

A last word on the Ameriya Shelter comes from Dahr Jamail:

“I learned that the Amiriyah Bomb Shelter has been closed by the Americans, due to the fact that an Islamic Fundamentalist group was keeping it open. I am glad I went when I did a couple of weeks ago, for when monuments/schools/buildings are closed and/or occupied by the Americans here, they have a tendency not to reopen.” (2)

This uniquely poignant shrine, marking an unimaginable end, is now designated: an “Islamic Fundamentalist” site, by Iraq’s liberators, the new Crusaders.

Notes

(1)Haifa Zangana: “Dreaming of Baghdad.”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dreaming-Baghdad-Women-Writing-Middle/dp/1558616055

(2) http://www.esterrepublic.com/Archives/djamail1.html

 http://----escape_autolink_uri:b6ba527c0711309ca3e7cfba5bda6467----    Ameriya 14th Feb 2007.

EU to Start Training of 2,000 Somali Troops in Uganda

February 14th, 2010 by Global Research

NAKASEKE, Uganda — The European Union (EU) will start the training of 2,000 Somali troops in Uganda in May, a senior French army official said here on Friday.

Brigadier General Thierry Caspar-Fille-Lambie, the commanding officer of the French Forces based in Djibouti said the Somali troops will be trained with the necessary military skills to help pacify and stabilize the volatile country.

The Somali troops will be trained for six months in Bihanga in western Uganda.

“As France was one of the countries stressing the need for the involvement of EU in training Somalia forces, around 30 French trainers shall be part of that mission,” said Lambie at the closing ceremony of four-week French operational training of 1,700Ugandan troops to be deployed in the lawless country in May for peacekeeping mission.

During the course, a 1,700-men battalion of Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) to be deployed in Somalia underwent training in peacekeeping operations while 120 non-commissioned officers trained in commanding the force.

“The EU troops shall work in close collaboration with UPDF to train the Somali troops,” said Rene Forceville, the French Ambassador to Uganda.

Lt. Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, the commander of Uganda Land Forces said the best way to help pacify the Horn of Africa country is by training and equipping their troops.

“We together with EU troops shall train them with the necessary skills to manage their own security,” said Wamala.

The EU earlier this month agreed to set up a military mission in Uganda aimed at training up to 2,000 Somali troops, which will complement other training missions and bring the total number of better- trained Somali soldiers to 6,000.

The mission led by Spain will closely coordinate with the African Union, the U.S. and the United Nations as well as with Somalia’s transitional government.

Uganda and Burundi are currently the only countries contributing some 4,300 troops to the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Somalia has been plagued by civil strife since the overthrow of military strongman Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen will visit Israel to discuss the situation in Iran with top Israeli military officials.

Mullen will meet the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and senior Israeli military commanders.

The meeting comes two weeks after US President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address threatened Iran with “growing consequences” over its nuclear program.

Tel Aviv has repeatedly voiced its determination to stop Tehran’s nuclear program even through military means.

Along with the IS and its allies, Israel, which is reportedly the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, accuses Iran of pursuing military ends through its nuclear program — a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has found no shred of evidence to support the Western accusations.

Iran says its nuclear drive is being pursued within the framework of the IAEA regulations, adding that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty the country has every right to carry on with its nuclear energy program.

KABUL — Some 15,000 troops of Afghan and NATO forces are involved in a massive offensive launched in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province Saturday morning, coalition forces said.

“A combined force of 15,000 is involved in Operation Moshtarak, ” said a press release issued by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Saturday morning.

“The combined force comprises the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, International Security Assistance Force Regional Command (South), and Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team,” it added.

Five brigades of Afghan forces, including members of the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, Afghan Border Police and Afghan Genarmerie, are involved in the operation, according to the press release.

Coalition troops in the operation are drawn from the United States, Britain, Denmark, Estonia and Canada, it added.

The press release gives a detailed list of foreign troops involved in the operation, which include: 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines (U.S.); 1st Battalion, 6th Marines (U.S.); 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines (U.S.); 4th Battalion, 23rd IN Stryker (U.S.); Combat Engineer Battalion (U.S.); Light Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (U.S.); 1 Coldstream Guards Battle Group (UK); 1 Grenadier Guards Battle Group (UK); 1 Royal Welsh Battle Group (UK); Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (UK); Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (UK); Task Force Pegasus; and Task Force Kandahar.

Smaller-scaled “shaping” operations, as an initial phase in a long-term operation, have been conducted to set conditions for the military operations, it added.

Following the military operations, the swift establishment of an Afghan government presence in cleared areas will be carried out, it further said.

The press release also confirmed the launch of Operation Moshtarak on Saturday morning, which is branded as the biggest operation since 2001 in the war-torn country. Locals in the Marjah town told Xinhua that the long-expected massive operation was believed to be started before dawn on Saturday.

Marjah, a town with a population of 80,000, is a Taliban stronghold in the Helmand province. Military analysts said around 1,000 insurgents might be hiding inside the besieged town.

US “Missile Shield” in Bulgaria Threatens Russia

February 14th, 2010 by Global Research

Varied reactions have appeared in the Russian press to Friday’s announcement that Bulgaria might accept on its territory elements of the US missile defense.

The reactions of leading Russian analysts and the Russian media to the possibility of including Bulgaria in the US missile shield range from outright feelings of threat to Russia’s national security to thinking that the Obama Administration takes serious the threats from Iran.

The Russian paper Vzglyad (“View”) cites the first Vice President of the Russian Academy for Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, as saying that the hosting of elements of the American missile defense system on Bulgarian soil “directly threatens Russia.”

In the article entitled “Bulgaria Too: One More Eastern European State Expresses Desire to Host US Anti-Missile System,” which reminds that Romania has already made it clear it would take in parts of the US shield, Sivkov says that after Bulgaria, the next country to make a similar announcement may be Georgia, which has already expressed similar desires.

Sivkov claims that the argument that the US missile defense in Europe will be directed against missiles from Iran and North Korea is ridiculous as none of the two states has the capacity to carry out such strikes.

“The US missile defense in Europe is being created in order to level down the Russian operational and tactical missile weapons. The USA has started creating a military infrastructure for exerting military pressure on Russia,” the Russian geopolitics experts says. He does not rule out the possibility that the Americans are responding to the new military doctrine of Russia which provides for preventive nuclear strikes.

Maxim Minaev, senior expert at the Russian Center for Political Affairs is quoted as saying that the US is just following the program about the missile defense system in Europe that it announced in September 2009. He did not rule out Georgia’s inclusion in the US missile shield.

“It was not clear what the new US project for a missile defense was. In its scope it envisages a much stronger structure than the one that was supposed to be in located in the Czech Republic and Poland,” Minaev says.

He is certain that the words of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov that his government would consult the European Commission before deciding on joining the US missile shield are just a formality because the missile defense is a purely American project. Minaev does accept that the US initiative can be directed against Iran.

He is quoted as saying that Russian President Medvedev should have asked all questions that are being raised now when he met with US President Barack Obama in September 2009.

He is convinced that Moscow has missed the chance of influencing the United States over the intention to locate a theater missile defense in Europe, and that there is little Russia could do now.

According to another Russian newspaper, Kommersant, Bulgaria’s PM Borisov has made it clear in advance that the Bulgarian government is not against hosting elements of the US missile shield on its soil. It points out that Bulgaria is the second European state in several days, after Romania, that says it could become involved in the US missile defense project.

“Even though it is still early to talk about the setting up of elements of the American missile defense in Bulgaria, Borisov’s statements did not make the Russian Foreign Ministry very happy,” the pape points out.

The Russian Foreign Ministry is quoted as saying that Moscow’s position remains unchanged – Russia expects clarification on part of the United States over the planned missile defense.

The planned consultations with the Americans for analyzing missile threats have not started yet, and that only after their start Russia would be able to react to everything, Deputy Director of the Depart for Information and Press of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Igor Lyakin-Frolov is quoted is saying.

Moscow has demanded from Washington clarifications regarding the US plans to located a missile shield in Europe immediately after Romanian President Basescu said on February 4, 2010, that Romania would be willing to join the shield.

“Judging by the words of Lyakin-Frolov, neither the White House, not the State Department of the USA have provided any clarifications to Russia with respect to the missile defense plans,” Kommersant points out.

The paper says that US President Obama could clarify these issues in person during his next meeting with Medvedev at the end of March or the beginning of April, which is when the US and Russian diplomats hope to conclude the talks on the new START treaty.

Stop Monsanto’s GMO Contamination

February 14th, 2010 by Global Research

During the Bush administration, Monsanto illegally won USDA approval for its genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa by convincing regulators to bypass a mandatory environmental review. In response to a lawsuit by consumer groups, the courts then stepped in and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA followed the law.

In December, the USDA released its belated review of Monsanto’s GE alfalfa seed and determined that Monsanto’s alfalfa met the Obama Administration’s standards, despite the risk of organic contamination.

This conclusion came despite the acknowledgment by USDA researchers that GE alfalfa is virtually certain to “contaminate” normal seeds. Cross-contamination is the number one concern with genetically engineered crops.

Organic contamination is devastating for organic farmers, especially organic dairy farmers, most of whom use organic alfalfa for feed. The presence of even the smallest amount of GE material can cause a farm to lose its organic certification. And court documents indicate that early plantings of GE alfalfa did contaminate conventional alfalfa. Yet the USDA maintains that Monsanto’s existing safety protocols are good enough. This is ridiculous!

Even worse, the USDA concluded that the possibility of contamination of organic fields is of no concern, since consumers won’t care if their organic food or milk contains genetically engineered components. Yet central to the definition of the USDA Organic label is the total absence of genetically modified ingredients. An overwhelming majority of consumers buy organic to avoid GE products and would be shocked to learn the USDA is so cavalier about the risks of transgenetic contamination.

The USDA is accepting public comments on Monsanto’s application through February 16. Make your voice heard today.

Military Buildup? Israeli Warships on Way to Persian Gulf

February 14th, 2010 by Global Research

As Israel keeps threatening the regional countries with war, Egyptian maritime sources say the Israeli navy has deployed two missile ships to the Persian Gulf.

Citing the sources, Yediot Ahronot reported Saturday that two Israeli missile ships passed through the Suez Canal en route to the Red Sea on Thursday morning.

The sources said the ships are expected to reach the Persian Gulf within the next four days.

According to the report, Cairo adopted tight security measures to ensure the safe passage of the Israeli ships through the canal.

The waterway, which had not previously been used by Israeli vessels for intelligence reasons, was traversed for the first time in June 2009 when a Dolphin-class submarine reportedly sailed from the Mediterranean to reach military exercises in the Red Sea.

President Barack Obama has increased the Pentagon’s perennially-bloated annual spending spree to its greatest magnitude since World War II $708 billion. Congress eventually will overwhelmingly approve Obama’s war budget request for fiscal year 2011, which takes effect in October.

The Obama administration’s funding recommendation was announced Feb. 1. The next day Reuters reported that “Shares of major U.S. defense contractors rose on Monday after the Obama administration unveiled a defense budget… that seeks a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon’s base budget and $159 billion to fund missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Also released Feb. 1 was the Pentagon’s Congressionally-mandated Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which calls for a considerable expansion of U.S. military power, especially in bolstering counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigns.

The QDR is a strategic guide for America’s present and future wars, updated every four years. The new version remains based on an interventionist foreign/military policy that has not changed in essence since the early Cold War years.

As described by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the 2011 war budget reflects the QDR’s call for “rebalancing America’s defense posture by emphasizing capabilities needed to prevail in current conflicts, while enhancing capabilities that may be needed in the future.”

In addition to the Pentagon request, President Obama also seeks a supplementary $33 billion this year for “Overseas Contingency Operations,” the bureaucratically bland title chosen to replace the Bush Administration’s “War on Terrorism.” The title is about all that has changed in the “terrorism” wars since Bush left office except for the new administration’s grave expansion of the Afghan conflict.

The additional money is to pay for the 30,000 troops Obama most recently ordered to Afghanistan, bringing U.S. troop strength to over 100,000, joined by over 40,000 NATO troops, and scores of thousands of mercenaries and contractors. This war is said to cost about $1 million per U.S. soldier per year.

The Obama Administration’s $708 billion for fiscal 2011 compares to the $680 billion President Obama approved for this year, which itself was 4.1% higher than President George W. Bush’s $651 billion funding for fiscal 2009. A decade ago annual “defense” spending was $280 billion.

At minimum not including the expensive Pentagon infrastructure that supports America’s wars in the Middle East and Central Asia the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures is over $1 trillion so far. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated two years ago that the final cost to the U.S. of both wars, when all aspects are included, will be over $3 trillion.

The amount of money Washington is spending in Afghanistan alone this year, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Feb 1, is “more than any other country in the world spends on defense, with the exception of China,” with four times more people and a defense budget less than one-fifth that of the United States.

Addressing Washington’s war money, writer and global analyst Chalmers Johnson comments “It is virtually impossible to overstate the profligacy of what our government spends on the military.”

Total U.S. annual “security” spending is over twice that acknowledged in the annual Pentagon budget. Omitted are many expenses from veteran’s benefits, homeland security, and interest on past military debts, to nuclear weapons, the cost of America’s intelligence agencies, and war-related spending absorbed by other government departments.

This means that the U.S., which contains 4.54% of the world’s population, accounts for over 50% of global military expenditures, thus spending more on “security” than all the other countries combined. America’s main and seemingly only enemy is al-Qaeda, with perhaps 2,000 decentralized adherents worldwide with varying degrees of commitment and ability.

In his State of the Union Address last month, President Obama specifically exempted “security” money from the “freeze” on many domestic expenses in the national budget, which amounts to some $3.8 trillion, the highest annual amount on record. About a third of this total $1.3 trillion, another record is in excess of tax receipts and will be paid with interest, along with many trillions more, by future generations of Americans.

In the interim, China and a few other countries are expected to continue lending money to a debt-ridden Uncle Sam who refuses to introduce a system of progressive taxation to absorb the intemperate accumulation of wealth by the richest 10% of Americans households (which in 2007 enjoyed a net worth of 71.4% of all the assets in the country), or to substantially cut military spending for aggressive wars of choice.

America’s hugely disproportionate war funding is more the product of an economic construct known at military Keynesianism (excessive government spending for militarism in order to foster capitalist economic growth) than the official myth of being surrounded by a multitude of formidable enemies. Most of the war money Commander in Chief Obama requested will be directed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget includes:

 $25 billion for 10 new Navy ships; $11 billion for 43 more F-35 fighter planes;  $10 billion for missile defense;  $56 billion for the Pentagon’s “Black Budget” (classified programs known only by code names);  $7 billion (to the Department of Energy) for nuclear weapons;  Funding to increase the size of the of the 56,000 Special Operations Command by 2,800  fighters, plus new equipment;   $10 billion to buy more Army and Marine helicopters for small-scale wars;  Money for enough new advanced unmanned drones to increase seek-and-destroy missions by 75%, including doubling production of the advanced MQ-9 Reaper and 26 extended-range Predators (spending for these drones jumps from $877.5 million in 2010 to $1.4 billion in 2011);  Many billions to train, equip and pay for the U.S.- controlled Afghan and Iraq armies;  $1.2 billion more to Pakistan for counterinsurgency;  $140 million to Yemen to fight al-Qaeda.  Additional billions will be spent in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, buying off the armed opposition and bribing officials.

The industry portion of the military-industrial complex is delighted with Obama, according to Todd Harrison, a Senior Fellow for Defense Budget Studies, at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. In an interview conducted Feb. 4 by the Council on Foreign Relations, he said of the new war budget:

“Given a bigger defense budget and few major program cuts, the defense establishment is elated…. The defense-industry base people read too much into a Democratic administration coming into office and there being real pressure on the federal budget overall because of soaring deficits. They… construed massive cuts in defense spending in the future, particularly in acquisitions. That hasn’t proven to be true. This administration hasn’t cut defense spending at all but increased it to record levels, and it looks like for the foreseeable future defense acquisitions are going to continue increasing…. People started to realize, ‘Hey, this president isn’t bad for the defense industry.’”

The U.S. government’s extraordinary war expenditures are intended to secure America’s position as the world’s unipolar hegemon far more than “fighting terrorism” in small, weak countries all the more so as Washington’s domination over global affairs is being challenged by rising nations in the developing world and breakaways by once obedient countries, as in Latin America.

Anatol Lieven, author of “America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism,” put it this way:  “U.S. global power, as presently conceived by the overwhelming majority of the U.S. establishment, is unsustainable…. The empire can no longer raise enough taxes or soldiers, it is increasingly indebted, and key vassal states are no longer reliable…. The result is that the empire can no longer pay for enough of the professional troops it needs to fulfill its self-assumed imperial tasks.”

The main reason the new Quadrennial Defense Review is greatly expanding the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism aspects of the war machine is because the U.S., for all its devastating military power, has been fought to a stalemate in both Iraq and Afghanistan by much smaller, poorly armed guerrilla forces for nearly seven and over eight years respectively.

The main emphasis in the fiscal 2011 war budget is on prevailing in Afghanistan, or at least in conveying the impression that U.S. has not been defeated by a force of fewer than 20,000 scattered irregulars belonging to the Taliban and other groups fighting against the U.S. invaders.

It is worthwhile to note that by Washington’s own assessment, there are less than 100 members of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and a vague “several hundred” possibly in Pakistan. Both the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban groups are independent of each other and are only interested in fighting against the U.S. within their own countries, not in attacking America.

Former Indian ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar, writing in his country’s English-language daily newspaper The Hindu Feb. 4, commented thusly on Washington’s multi-billion dollar effort to control Afghanistan:

“The spectre that is haunting Washington today cannot be overstated: a prolonged war in Afghanistan is unsustainable financially, materially and politically; the NATO allies lack faith in the U.S.’s war strategy; domestic public opposition to the war is cascading in the Western countries; the war has become an Albatross’ cross hindering the optimal pursuit of U.S. global strategies in a highly volatile international situation posing multiple challenges; the war radicalizes the Muslim opinion worldwide and pits America against Islam….

“What lies ahead? Make no mistake that the Taliban are returning to Afghanistan¹s power structure ‹ quite plausibly under Mullah Omar’s leadership. The U.S. expectation to ‘split’ the Taliban will likely prove misplaced. As months ebb away, fighting intensifies and Omar is in no particular hurry, Washington’s pleas to Islamabad will become more and more insistent to bring the so-called Quetta Shura to the negotiating table.”

Quetta is across the border in Pakistan. The Shura is the leadership organization of the Afghan Taliban which has been domiciled in Quetta with Islamabad’s approval since a month after President Bush invaded their country in October 2001. What Bhadrakumar is suggesting is that the only way Washington can end its long and dreadfully expensive impasse in Afghanistan is to make a deal with the Quetta Shura providing the Taliban with a substantial coalition role in the Afghan provincial and national government.

This is hardly what President Bush had in mind a month after 9/11 when he launched a foolish, macho invasion of Afghanistan rather than depend on worldwide police work and other means to disrupt al-Qaeda. The Pentagon juggernaut “defeated” the Taliban in a matter of weeks, but it couldn’t conquer the Afghan resistance after all these years. The same was true of the illegal and unjust invasion of Iraq, of course.

Victory was President Obama’s goal as well when he greatly expanded the Afghan war in order to break the stalemate, but negotiations and a return of the Taliban in a coalition government may well be the best outcome he can bring about.

All Obama has gained politically at home for his “Bush Lite” war maneuvers is the near-unanimous support the pro-war Republicans, who otherwise view him with contempt. Most of the Democratic electorate, which constitutes the broad base of the peace movement, seems to oppose the Afghan war and its expansion, but has stayed away antiwar protests because of reluctance to take an open public stand against Obama. This is changing as the disillusionment sinks in, as least among the party’s liberal and progressive sector.

The test to see if Democrats come back to the antiwar movement will be the mass march and rally in Washington March 20 being organized by a large coalition of national and local peace groups. The White House will be watching carefully. If it is a highly successful event, it will give pause to an administration sensitive to insistent political currents; if it is relatively small, it could mean full speed ahead for the war machine.

In a Feb. 3 AlterNet article titled, “The Defense Industry is Pleased with Obama,” writer Laura Flanders expressed the liberal dilemma in these words: “Who says the president is failing to show leadership? In one area at least, there¹s no sign of flag or falter. If anything, the administration¹s only becoming more forthright. Sad to say, that area is military build-up.”

The Pentagon has learned some lessons since it stormed into Afghanistan and then Iraq, and wound up with unanticipated black eyes. In this sense, President Obama’s 2011 war budget and QDR are less aimed at Afghanistan and more at future “Overseas Contingency Operations” against alleged “rogue,” “failed,” “undemocratic,” “leftist,” or “terrorist” states. It’s Bush all over again, but next time it’s supposed to be done right.

Washington, with its “rebalanced defense posture” and unlimited military checkbook, even as the country sinks in debt, will in time attack another small country when one more “contingency” inevitably develops. The White House no doubt expects to win big when it does, given full spectrum dominance, drones and helicopters, the enhanced Special Operations Command, and soldiers, marines, NATO troops, mercenaries, and contractors. But at this stage, with America’s track record, it wouldn’t be smart to place any bets.

Jack A. Smith is editor of the Activist Newsletter http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com, and former editor of the now defunct U.S. Guardian newsweekly. He may be reached at [email protected].

Surveillance Drones To Zap Protesters Into Submission

February 14th, 2010 by Paul Joseph Watson

Illustrating once again that the prison planet being built around us far outstrips anything Aldous Huxley or George Orwell ever imagined, a Wired News report details how police forces worldwide are preparing to unveil drone aircraft that can not only conduct surveillance of protesters, but also zap them into submission with non-lethal weapons.

As part of their ongoing mission to “protect and serve” the new world order, cops across the world are getting access to military drones which allow them to “carry out surveillance on everyone from protesters and antisocial motorists to fly-tippers,” reports Wired News.

The report details how the future of policing will resemble something approaching a combination of They Live and The Running Man, with unmanned drones replacing police helicopters whizzing around everywhere torturing and knocking out anyone who misbehaves.

According to the report, this is a natural progression from CCTV cameras that shout at passers-by, currently deployed in several UK cities, only now drones will be fitted with LRAD acoustic devices, torture sound weapons that were indiscriminately used and abused during the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on innocent members of the public who were just walking down the street and had not even dared to engage in the criminal activity of expressing their First Amendment right to assemble.

“The LRAD has been tested on the Austrian S-100 unmanned helicopter, and the technology is ready if there is a police requirement,” states the article.

Also available to police will be a drone that can fire tear gas as well as rubber pellets to disperse anyone still living under the delusion that they were born in a democratic country.

“French company Tecknisolar Seni has demonstrated a portable drone armed with a double-barrelled 44mm Flash-Ball gun,” states the report. “Used by French special police units, the one-kilo Flash-Ball resembles a large calibre handgun and fires non-lethal rounds, including tear gas and rubber impact rounds to bring down a suspect without permanent damage — “the same effect as the punch of a champion boxer,” claim makers Verney-Carron.”

Of course the fact that the Flash-Ball devices have caused “permanent damage” in the form of head injuries is glossed over.

Another option will be a mini-flying saucer drone fitted with a Taser gun, primed to shoot 50,000-volts into anyone who refuses to bow down at the feet of global government.

“Taser stun guns are now so light (about 150 grams) that they could be mounted on the smaller drones. Antoine di Zazzo, head of SMP Technologies, which distributes tasers in France, says the company is fitting one to a small quad-rotor iDrone (another quad-rotor toy helicopter), which some have called a “flying saucer”.

Since police routinely use Tasers as a method of “pain compliance,” ie torture, and not in genuinely threatening situations, abuse of the devices is widespread in every country that has introduced them. Since June 2001, over 350 people have died in the United States after being hit with these “non-lethal weapons”. Imagine how incidents of abuse would skyrocket once the personal element of using a Taser is removed and they are strapped to marauding surveillance drones, eliminating any responsibility for deaths and injuries that occur.

Why not just equip the drones with hellfire missiles and have done with it? Now it’s admitted that the authorities treat any dissenter, any protester, anyone who questions the system, even anyone who takes a photograph in public as a terrorist, why not just blow us all away like they do to “insurgents” in Afghanistan?

The fact that every one of these fascistic and futuristic tools of enslavement is being primed to be used mainly against protesters only confirms that the police state is not coming, it’s not some future threat, it’s here in 2010 – we’re living in a world that does not tolerate dissent against its overlords, we’re truly living on a prison planet.

Under the guise of “protecting Americans” and choosing itself in so-called “national security,” the current Obama administration wants to be able to control the ability of people and organizations to access the Internet.

This concept on its face seems very harmless and in the best interest of the country, however, having the ability to “turn the Internet off or shutting down sites that Obama considers “dangerous” including particular political groups, individuals or organizations who espouse differing views has far reaching political, financial, moral and legal implications.

Such a policy imposed under Executive Order to control what enters Internet sites and what is shared daily would stifle free speech in direct violation of the First Amendment rights of all Americans.

During the elections in Iran, its citizens using Facebook and Twitter got out 95% of the news from Iran. In America would our social sites be shut down if enough people using them “dared” to question the current political regime in power at any given time? Sitting ominously in the Senate is the Rockefeller Bill S. 773 to takeover the Internet in emergencies. As we all know, once taken over, we will never get it back the way it was before. This is what elitists have in mind for us.

America’s brightest minds and taxpayers funds made the Internet happen, and now there are indications that the Obama administration is moving quietly to allow control of the web to move from the US to foreign powers. Such a transfer of power and control would change the future of mankind. This would be affected via our Department of Commerce.

America controls the Internet via the Domain name System (DNS), and the servers that serve the Internet. They are managed by IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which operates via the Department of Commerce, being responsible for global cooperation and coordination of the DNS, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol sources. Without these elements one would not have access to the Internet.

Over the years, the UN and others internationally have been pressing the US to give away control and management to an international body. Those thirsting for this power are the UN and the International Telecommunications Union, which coordinates international telephone communications. Their argument is that the Internet has become a powerful and dependent form of communications, that is dangerous and inequitable for one nation to control and manage.

Our President has agreed to relinquish some control over IANA and its governance. Foreign companies and countries would have a greater say in what goes on in the Internet. This is the foot in the door. Before you know it the UN will have control and censorship will begin. No control should be given to any other country or body. It is not only our Internet; it is a matter of national security, which our government is up too. The world has been allowed to share this miracle free and without censorship or restriction. Do we want to end up like the Chinese, where their communist government recently told Google to censor the Internet? Do we want the UN to use the Internet as a source of funding? Do we want the UN or any participant country to restrict what we can say or do on the net? Do we want limitations on free speech? That is what the UN has planned for us. The Internet will no longer be a vehicle of free speech. Why would we want to give away one of our most precious and greatest assets for nothing to a group that is bent on enslaving us via one-world government? Once our control is gone we will never get it back.

The Council on Foreign Relations, literary house organ that we have subscribed to for 50 years, Foreign Affairs, tells us that many governments feel that, like the telephone network, the Internet should be administered under a multilateral treaty. They view ICANN as an instrument of American hegemony over cyberspace and that its private-sector approach favors the US and gives it oversight authority, and that other nations have no say as to what goes on in the Internet. Then again, we did invent it and do own it. Its private construction was deliberately implemented to keep government out of the net, not for the US or any other government or body to control it. South Africa, Brazil and China as stooges for one-world interests are demanding an international treaty, so the UN can control it. Adding to the demands are the intellectually void countries of Zimbabwe, Cuba and Syria. These three paragons of peace and prosperity want the UN to tell us how to run our Internet.

UN bureaucrats and ministers from under-developed nations in particular say the US has undue influence over how things run on line. They want a treaty under which their regimes cannot be criticized. They want Internet surveillance and the power to tax domain names to pay for universal access and, of course, to fund their regimes. They in their protestations have no intention of stopping spam because much of it emanates from their countries. They want all kinds of censorship. Can you imagine what China or Cuba’s demands would be? China and Cuba are both dictatorships. Why would such one-party states be allowed in the UN, never mind telling us how censorship would work? Both jail people for political decent and sometimes execute them. We can also throw Iran in for good measure. This is a nation with one political party that in 2003 jailed 80 journalists and activists. Then Iran wants UN control so that thousands of immoral websites can be banned. This war by the internationalists to control the Internet is not new. It began in 1999. That is when the UN proposed taxing all e-mail messages to pay for development aid.

You cannot legislate morals. That is reflected in our unsuccessful ventures into legislation of alcohol, drugs, sex and tobacco and now the UN wants to legislate all kinds of content. Are we to allow the curtailment of our First Amendment rights? We do not think so. Are we to tolerate Cyber Patrols or Net Nannies?

In addition we now have cyber crime investigators pushing for the creation of a national web interface linking police computers. 89% of police say they want to look into e-mail accounts in a broad push by law enforcement agencies to alter the ground rules of online investigations. They want laws requiring Internet companies to store data for up to five years and they want instant access to police inquiries instead of waiting hours or days for responses from Internet companies. They want emergency access like the FBI had and terribly abused that privilege to get phone numbers. In the Internet the police want information now not after a review of whether the request is appropriate.

This is where the President wants to take us and we do not like it. Be sure to contract your house and Senate representatives and let them know how you feel about this abridgment of your privacy and your rights. If you do not act now, it may be too late later.

Related Links

http://www.prisonplanet.com/frightening-taste-of-internet-censorship-as-major-free-speech-websites-blocked.html/print 

The Alex Jones Show with Jason Bermas 1/3: Cybersecurity Act-Government Takeover of The Internet 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mFyZB0lDBU&feature=email

“The War on Internet Censorship” w/ Alex Jones & Infowars.com (STOP S.773) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFVW_lCDztE&feature=related

Internet Censorship Must Be Stopped! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8DdcVxq9hg&feature=related

China’s Monetary Moves Undercut Crude Oil Rally

February 14th, 2010 by Darrell Delamaide

Crude oil prices took a dive on Friday after a week of gains from U.S. blizzards were undercut by another move in China to tighten monetary policy.

China’s central bank raised reserve requirements for its banks for the second time this year as it tries to curb lending and avoid asset bubbles from forming in an overheated economy. China is the world’s second-largest importer of oil, after the U.S., and one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, so energy markets are very sensitive to any change in conditions there.

Blizzard conditions in the U.S. Northeast had propelled West Texas Intermediate prices back up above $75 earlier in the week. But a decline of some 1.5% on Friday pushed prices down near $74 a barrel again. Still, oil was ahead about 4% on the week.

A revised forecast from the International Energy Agency raised expected demand for crude this year by 120,000 barrels a day to 1.6 million. However, the IEA said the increase was due to growth in emerging economies, with demand remaining flat in industrial countries, despite the unusually severe winter. The new moves in China raise question marks about that anticipated increase in demand.

U.S. data on inventories, which came out late due to snow-related government closures in Washington, showed gasoline inventories rising by 2.3 million barrels, about 1%, much more than expected. But analysts said that may be due to the simple fact that people aren’t able to drive in snowbound cities. Distillate inventories, including heating oil, fell less than expected despite the inclement weather.

A pledge by European Union leaders that they would do what it takes to keep Greece from sliding into default briefly took some of the pressure off the euro, but markets remained concerned at the lack of detail about any rescue plan. A weakening euro means a stronger dollar, which puts downward pressure on energy futures. The crisis in southern Europe threatens economic recovery in the EU and further dampens optimism for energy demand.

Bloomberg reported that Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is proving to be a formidable adversary for hedge funds and other participants in derivatives trading as he pushes for reform, including restrictions in energy futures trading. Despite, or perhaps because of, his 18 years at Goldman Sachs, Gensler is insisting on position limits for energy trades and trying to close any loopholes that would let funds slip through on end-user exemptions, Bloomberg said.

Beyond the World Social Forum

February 14th, 2010 by Igor Ojeda

INTERVIEW. According to Eric Toussaint, analyst of the World Social Forum, now in its tenth year, effective political action calls for the creation of a permanent national front of parties, social movements and international networks.   

Eric Toussaint, member of the International Council of the World Social Forum (WSF), is in favour of the WSF becoming a platform of greater political influence in social struggles throughout the world. He is not particularly worried about the resistance of certain sectors within the Forum who would prefer for the WSF to retain its original form. For him, the solution is simple. “If the Forum cannot accommodate effective social and political action against the new World Order, we must build another instrument, without leaving or scrapping the Forum”.     

 

In a conversation with Brasil de Fato[1], Eric Toussaint, president of the Belgian-based Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM), defends the idea of a dialogue between movements and parties based on the call issued by Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez for the creation of a Fifth International.

In the following interview, he discusses the global economic crisis, initiatives for Latin American integration and the rise of the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) on the international scene – powers which in his estimation are not a progressive alternative to the old order. “What they are interested in is negotiating with the old imperialisms for their share in the international division of power, labour, the global economy and access to natural resources.”     

Interview

Brasil de Fato –  How do you assess the two different viewpoints presented at the World Social Forum opening debate[2], that is, the one which says the Forum should be “used” as a political platform with a greater capacity for action and political influence, and the other which says the event should keep to its original form and purpose as a place to exchange ideas?     

 

Eric Toussaint – We need an international instrument to determine priorities in terms of demands and objectives, to provide a shared calendar for actions, and to be part of a common strategy. If the Forum cannot accommodate this, we must build another instrument, which doesn’t mean leaving or scrapping the Forum. I think the Forum has its place. But since there is a sector of the WSF that does not want the Forum to become an instrument for mobilization, it would be better to build another one together with organizations and individuals who are convinced that this is what we need.  This would not prevent us continuing to play an active part in the Forum. I say this to prevent a split or an endless debate which will bog us down rather than help us. It is clear that this sector prefers to keep the World Social Forum as a place for discussion and debate, and doesn’t want to see it become an instrument for action.  

This is quite a strong sector, isn’t it?  

Yes, it is. You might say it’s part of the historic core that participated in the creation of the Forum. But it doesn’t represent all of it, since the MST[3] also participated in its creation but is in favour of changing the WSF. The CADTM has also been a member of the WSF’s International Council (IC) since its creation in June 2001. But it stands to reason that organizations like IBASE[4] and personalities like Chico Whitaker and Oded Grajew are opposed to the Forum becoming an instrument of struggle. I would add that it worries me to arrive in Porto Alegre and see that the seminar “Ten years later” is sponsored by Petrobras[5], Caixa, Banco do Brasil, Itaipu Binacional, with several governments in attendance. This really worries me. I would much rather have seen a Forum with less financial means but more militant in nature. We can rely on the help of volontary activists, stay with them in town, organize accommodation in sports complexes, schools, etc.

What is this new instrument you are referring to?   

A proposal was made which, in point of fact, has had relatively little repercussion. I’m talking about Hugo Chávez’ call at the end of November 2009 for the creation of a Fifth International composed of social movements and left-wing parties[6]. I think it’s very interesting in principle. There could be a new perspective if there were reflection and dialogue between parties and social movements: a Fifth International as an instrument of convergence for action and for the creation of an alternative model[7]. But in my opinion it would not be an organization like the previous Internationals were – or still are, since the Fourth International still exists – that is to say, party organizations with a fairly high level of centralization. In my view the Fifth International should not be highly centralized and it should not require the self-dissolution of international networks or of an organization like the Fourth International. They could join the Fifth International and still keep their own specifics, but their membership would demonstrate that all the networks or major movements are determined to go further than the present ad hoc coalitions on climate or social justice, food sovereignty, the debt, etc. We have common causes among many networks and that’s a positive thing. But if we could successfully form a permanent front, it would be better still. The term “front” is a key word in defining the Fifth International. For me, the Fifth International would be, in the present situation, a permanent front of parties, social movements and international networks. The term “front” clearly implies that each would keep its identity but would give priority to what unites us in order to achieve objectives and take the struggle forward. Recent months have once again shown the need to increase our capacity to mobilize, because international mobilization against the coup d’état in Honduras was totally inadequate. This is a matter of serious concern, because with the United States supporting the coup by validating the elections that followed[8], putschist forces the world over are once again thinking that a putsch is a reasonable option. In Paraguay, for example, discussion among the putschists is all about “When” and “How”? They are convinced that a coup d’état should be staged from the National Congress against President Fernando Lugo. This goes to show that mobilization in the case of Honduras was not enough. Nor was it enough in the case of Copenhagen, and now Haiti. Response to the U.S. intervention in Haiti is totally insufficient.     

Are you saying, then, that it is possible for a Fifth International to bring together the different left-wing currents in this new organization around shared political actions?  

 

Yes, to achieve this I think we have to start with a consultative dialogue. We can’t rush into it. To be truly effective, the Fifth International must listen to and bring together a very significant number of organizations. It would not be worthwhile to build a Fifth International with just a small part of the movement. It would kill the project or restrict it. Opening wide the debate seems to me an absolute necessity.    

In another interview you said that the Belém World Social Forum held in January of last year was the first major mobilization against the global economic crisis.[9] But now you say there was no satisfactory response to what happened in Honduras and Haiti. What happened? What went wrong?  

Yes, you are quite right to point out the gap between the big success in Belém and what has happened since. The record for 2009 is worrying. There were no big social mobilizations in the major industrial economies at the epicentre of the crisis. Except in France and Germany where there were fairly strong demonstrations, especially in France where more than two million and a half demonstrators took to the streets in two protests in the first half of 2009[10]. In the United States there were a few strikes but they were limited. However, the mass sectors – those who are suffering the most from the crisis – have a lot of trouble getting mobilized. It’s as if people are stunned, “groggy”. Unemployment has increased sharply in the Northern hemisphere. In Spain, it has grown from 10% to 20% of the economically active population: something we haven’t seen for 30 years. In the countries of the South, governments like Lula’s give the impression that a country like Brazil or certain other countries won’t be affected by the crisis in the North because they have taken financial and economic measures to withstand it. However in the South too, the level of mobilization against the international crisis is low. But let me draw a historical comparison. After the 1929 crash on Wall Street, the big radical social struggles only started to take shape in 1933, 1934 and 1935. So, historically speaking, we see that mass reactions are not immediate. If the crisis continues, and if its effects continue to be very serious, people will finally start to mobilize en masse.

 

But beyond this more historical analysis, do you believe that the Left was unable to prepare an appropriate response?

 

This is yet another point. Let us take an example. We have seen that Brazilian youth in the state of Pará were keenly interested, they were massively present at Belém’s Social Forum in January 2009. They participated in debates about radical alternatives. But as the World Social Forum is not a tool for mobilization, it stopped there. Moreover, TU top managements are highly bureaucratized. Their favourite policy consists in hoping that the government’s decision will prevent a clash. They coach and support government policies that cushion the impact of the crisis for the most deprived. There is an absence of determination among TU leaders, left-wing or ‘social-democrat’ parties, which means that governments of countries in the North go on implementing social-liberal or neo-liberal  solutions. They do not even try to implement neo-Keynesian policy. Roosevelt’s 1933 New Deal, compared with the policies implemented by Obama or by governments such as Zapatero’s or Gordon Brown’s, stands out as definitely left-wing. It is obvious therefore that the leaderships of traditional left-wing parties and of the Trade unions bear a heavy responsibility, combined with the WSF’s inability to cope with the crisis. This is why, and I go back to what I said in the first part of this interview, we badly need a new instrument.

Do you think that this crisis has opened a new era of multipolarity?

It is clear that U.S. economic domination is not what it used to be twenty years ago. The U.S. lost its economic prominence but it is still the only country that combines industrial domination (albeit weakened), an international currency (although it is weakened, the dollar is still the main international currency) and a permanent military presence in over one hundred countries. It possesses invasion capacity. Five months ago I published an article in which I interpreted the coup in Honduras and the seven military bases in Columbia as evidence of U.S. agressiveness towards Latin America.[11] Journalists said I was exaggerating, that the U.S. was unable to intervene in Latin America, that it no longer had the necessary military capacity with its military involvement in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Yet it sent 15,000 soldiers to Haiti. Consequently, yes, it is still a power that can send troops, equipment and military support to various parts of the world. The case of Haiti is emblematic in that it demonstrates the capacity of the U.S. to respond promptly. U.S. power still prevails in terms of geostrategy. True, new powers are emerging such as China, Russia, India and Brazil, which are regional powers. There is also the EU. The notion which to me best defines Brazil’s international situation is ‘peripheric imperialism.’ Why “imperialism”? Because Brazil looks on neighbouring countries just as a traditional imperialist country looks on countries in which it invests. Brazil looks on its neighbours as places where Brazilian transnational companies can invest, and the foreign policy of the Brazilian government supports these companies’ expanding policies: Petrobras, Vale do Rio Doce, Odebrecht, etc., are now present in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, and even in Africa, where they  invest large amounts. Yet there is a multipolar feature in the sense that there is no super-imperialism. On the other hand the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) do not offer a progressive alternative to the old imperialisms (U.S., EU, Japan). They merely want to negotiate with these old imperialisms for a place in the international division of power, labour, global economy and access to natural resources. So I cannot see current power playing a progressive part which we could support. The alternative we do find is an initiative such as ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, proposed by Venezuelian president Hugo Chávez), the components of which are not imperialist countries, fortunately. Regional alternatives such as ALBA are very important. My concern in this respect is that we ought to hasten the process and get beyond speeches through a better integration of the various countries. But we should  highlight the positive points: at the ALBA meeting on 25 January 2010, it was decided to cancel Haiti’s debt to member countries, thus teaching a lesson to the world powers that were meeting in Montreal on the same day and discussing debt relief conditioned to structural adjustment measures.

In this context, how do you assess the progress of initiatives such as the Bank of the South? Do you think this progress has reached a satisfactory stage?

In 2007, at the request of Rafael Correa and his minister for Economy and Finances, I participated in the drafting of Ecuador’s position with regard to the Bank of the South. Ecuador stands for a project in which the Bank of the South invests in public projects, or projects by native traditional communities. For instance, the regional financing of a food sovereignty policy, making the needed land reforms and urban reforms possible, giving priority to the railway over road transport. This is one possible option for the Bank of the South. Brazil and Argentina have a different project. It consists of financing projects in poorer  countries that are part of the initiative (Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador), infrastructure works projects in the context of IIRSA (Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America), by means of  contracts with Brazilian and Argentinian companies, that is, again, using public money for private contractors, launching large-scale projects without any respect for the environment or concern for the situation of working people. This is the choice made by Brazil and Argentina, which currently prevails in negotiations for the Bank of the South. Left-wing governments must react and choose a genuine integration of people, not an integration that favours TNCs, whether from the North or from the South. An integration that does not take the EU as a model. Europe integration is ruled by the logic of private capital accumulation – a liberal or neo-liberal logic. Considering the governments that have been put in power in some countries, considering the strength of social movements and the tradition of  radical struggles, Latin America is the place in the world where an alternative model can most easily be implemented.

You often say that there are two Lefts: the ecosocialist left and the social-liberal left. How can you explain that although the neo-liberal model was shown to be a failure by the crisis, President Lula – whom you define as a social-liberal – should be one of the leaders whose power seems to be greater than before?

What defines the fate of the country are the social movements, the experiences that masses accumulate through their mobilization. And we can see that countries with the politically most advanced governments are those where social movements have been most radical. This level of social mobilization exerts a pressure on governments to take the political and social measures that are most consistent with left-wing positions. In Brazil, unfortunately, this kind of mobilization has been wanting for the last five or six years. And the government started in a favourable international economic context. Between 2004 and 2008 the country’s economy benefited from a rise in the international prices of commodities, a growth related to the speculative bubble in the North, which generated more exports. And up to now, as noted earlier, the international crisis has not hit Brazil. So the government can claim that the favourable economic situation is the outcome of its policy, which is not strictly the case.

But how come it was not hit by the crisis?

Because the fall in commodity prices in the second half of 2008 was followed by a new rise in 2009. Export revenues have been maintained. Also, the “Bolsa Familia” programme has provided the lower classes with a level of consumption[12] that sustains the domestic market. The question that can be asked is: what is going to happen in the coming years? What is going to happen to growth in China? We know it cannot go on. We know that several speculative bubbles are developing in China – a real estate bubble, a stockmarket bubble, and an exponential growth of debts. Growth in China is sustained thanks to a substantial increase in public expenditure in order to compensate for the loss of foreign markets as a consequence of the crisis in the USA, Europe and Japan. The growth rate is artificially maintained thanks to these bubbles. In the current global situation China is driving what is left of economic growth. Without China we would go through a period of sheer global recession. The situation in Brazil is linked to China’s through  the  export of ore, etc. But also because the situation in China maintains the global economy at a certain level of growth. If it fails, which to me is not a certainty but a possibility, it will affect Brazil’s economy. Brazil will also suffer from the consequences of other international financial explosions that will occur in the coming years. Commodity prices are higher than is warranted by the global economy. There are speculative investments in food commodity exports such as soybeans. Once the speculative bubble bursts, commodity prices will fall, and this will affect Brazil. This is why it is wrong to claim that Brazil has some sort of panzer economy. It depends on an international evolution over which Brazil has no control whatsoever. What Brazil can do to remedy this is to increase its domestic market, introduce protectionist measures, control capital flows more tightly, implement a distributive economic model, get rid of monopolies and lobbies, implement radical land and urban reforms. It could then become a model in the context of regional integration with a genuinely left-wing orientation. But this would require another government option.

How do you assess the response to the crisis that can be observed with more progressive governments, such as those of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador?

There has been a positive aspect, not only in these three governments but also to some extent  in the way Lula, Cristina Fernández (president of Argentina) and Michelle Bachelet (former president of Chile) managed the crisis. In spite of the IMF’s recommendations to reduce public expenditure, governments applied heterodox  policies, even Alan García’s right-wing government in Peru. This made it possible for these governments to maintain a certain level of economic growth. In this respect the responses of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela were not very different: they maintained significant public expenditure in order to sustain consumption and economic activity. Of the three, the one that slightly radicalized its economic policy was Hugo Chávez’, with more nationalizations. But quite frankly, the policies that Correa, Chávez and Evo Morales have used to counter the crisis do not greatly differ from those of other governments in the region. There is no radical difference in the economic sphere. I think that there are differences in terms of anti-imperialism, constitutional reforms, regaining control of natural resources. But it would be an over-simplification to claim that there are huge differences among the economic developments in the region. Personally, I would have preferred to be able to say truthfully that the governments of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolívia are implementing a radically alternative model. But this is not yet the case. There are signs and perspectives which are quite interesting, but we mustn’t confuse words and intentions with the facts of real life.

How do things stand in the debate on the public debt issue?

 

The issue of the debt has its ups and downs. It was a hot topic in the 1980s, it came back to the fore with Argentina’s default at the end of 2001.[13]  Now we are back to a situation of tension in this respect, but this is only the beginning. In 2007 Ecuador’s government set up an audit committee in which I participated. And on the basis of our conclusions, Correa’s government decided to suspend payment of $3.2 billion of debts in commercial bonds, sold on Wall Street and closing between 2012 and 2030. Correa suspended payment from November 2008 and stood firm against the creditors, bond holders. On 10 June 2009 he managed to have 91% of those bonds sold to Ecuador’s government at a 65% discount. Which means that Ecuador will recover $3.2 billion of bonds for a payment of $1 billion. Ecuador saved $2.2 billion, as well as the interests that remained. This shows that even a small country can stand up to bond holders and force them to make a sacrifice. Those who normally always came out winning had to accept the fact that they would no longer reap big profits with these bonds. The lesson is that if Ecuador could do it, countries like Brazil, Argentina and others could do it too. Argentina had suspended payment in 2001 but in 2005 it made the mistake of exchanging bonds instead of buying them or repudiating them altogether. It exchanged them at a discount but still had to pay interest at a high rate. Argentine’s debt today is the same as what it was in 2001. The issue of debt payment will be back on the international stage for two main reasons. First, the financial and economic crisis, which reduced exports from the South and the tax revenues they generate, makes it more difficult to pay back the public internal and external debt. Second, the cost of refinancing the debt has increased. Since bankers in the North are caught up in the crisis, they tend to be more demanding towards countries of the South that wish to borrow on an international level.

Translated from the French by Judith Harris, Christine Pagnoulle.

  

Notes 

[1] The national weekly paper Brasil de Fato is published and owned by a number of social movements including Via Campesina, Consulta Popular, a number of left-wing Christian organizations, feminist and student movements.  http://www.brasildefato.com.br/v01/agencia/entrevistas/para-alem-do-forum-social-mundial-a-quinta-internacional

[2] Igor Ojeda is referring to the inaugural address of the international seminar entitled “Ten years later: challenges and proposals for another possible world” organized in Porto Alegre from 25 to 29 January 2010 by the “Group for reflection and support for the WSF process” composed of several Brazilian organizations including IBASE, Ethos and the Instituto Paulo Freire.

[3] Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Landless Workers Movement)

                http://www.mst.org.br/

[4] Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sócias e Econômicas (Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analyses). http://www.ibase.org.br/

[5] Petrobras, the Brazilian mixed-capital oil company (the State holds 39% of its capital) is the second largest Brazilian transnational in terms of investment abroad. It is responsible for serious damage to the environment, particularly in Amazonia.

[6] “The international encounter of Left-wing political parties held in Caracas on November 19, 20 and 21, 2009, after having taken note of the proposal made by Commander Hugo Chávez Frías to summon the 5th Socialist International as the space where the socialist-oriented parties, movements and trends of thought  are able to gather to propose a common strategy for the struggle against imperialism, changing capitalism for socialism and economic integration within the framework of solidarity” in “COMMITMENT OF CARACAS” p.12  http://www.psuv.org.ve/files/tcdocumentos/commitment.caracas.pdf

[7] An international appeal has been launched on that question: “Proposal for a Participatory Socialist International” by ZNET http://www.zcommunications.org/newinternational.htm

[8] See Eric Toussaint “The U.S. and its unruly Latin American ‘backyard’” www.cadtm.org/The-U-S-and-its-unruly-Latin
[9] See “An interview with Eric Toussaint, by Pauline Imbach:  A New Start for the World Social Forum?”
http://www.counterpunch.org/imbach03032009.html or http://www.cadtm.org/A-New-Start-with-the-2009-WSF

[10] We should also mention the massive social movements that took place in Guadeloupe and Martinique in the first quarter of 2009.

[11] See Eric Toussaint, ‘Du coup d’Etat au Honduras aux sept bases US en Colombie : la montée de l’agressivité de Washington’, 7 December 2009, www.cadtm.org/Du-coup-d-Etat-au-Honduras-aux

[12] In Brazil, 11 million families living below the poverty threshold receive between 7 and 45 euros a month. This measure brings a genuine improvement to the day-to-day existence of nearly 24% of the population whose income scarcely ensures their survival. In the 2006 elections, Lula’s highest scores were in the poorest regions of the country thanks to the application of this plan, implemented in 2003 during his first term in office. See V.M. Castro and M. Bursztyn, Social inclusion or poverty alleviation? Lessons from recent Brazilian experiences, Center for International Development, Harvard University,  www.politiquessociales.net/IMG/pdf/027.pdf The World Bank readily supports this programme: http://go.worldbank.org/PE5Z73M330 The Lula government announced in November 2009 that it planned to distribute free of charge 11 million cell phones to poor families. The monthly user cost will be about 3 euros.

[13] Following a massive revolt of the people combined with a lack of liquidity between the end of 2001 and March 2005, the government of Argentina suspended the repayment of $100 billion in the form of bonds.          

US ‘Star Wars’ Lasers Bring Down Ballistic Missile

February 13th, 2010 by Ewen MacAskill

The US this week achieved a goal that has eluded it since Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars programme by knocking out a ballistic missile using a high-powered laser beam mounted on a plane.

The successful test was carried out yesterday in California, the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) said, making real what had previously been confined to the realms of science fiction.

The plane uses a combination of lasers to lock on to the missile and track its trajectory, and then bring it down with a ­single shot fired from the nose turret, all in less than 12 seconds.

According to analysts, the breakthrough could have an impact on the North Korean and Iranian missile programmes, forcing them to develop faster missiles and adopt measures to counter the laser beams.

The MDA said today: “The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defence, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometres, and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies.”

Work on the laser weapons system has been under way in earnest for at least a decade, at a cost of more than $1bn. In the past, laser beams have been used successfully against stationary targets from stationary platforms, but in this test the beam was directed from a plane against a moving target, a much more challenging feat.

However, some scientists and military analysts expressed scepticism about its long-term viability, saying that other such projects that had been hailed as revolutionary did not work when confronted by all the problems thrown up by war.

Michael Elleman, a senior fellow for missile research in the Washington office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, traced a direct line from the controversial programme set out by Reagan three decades ago that was dubbed Star Wars, which envisaged lasers based in outer space intercepting missiles. “Reagan had a grand vision but did not know what the architecture would look like. They were looking more at space-based laser technology. The laser [in the latest test] is not necessarily what Reagan envisaged but it fits inside the grander scheme of what he wanted to achieve.”

Elleman said the laser could force North Korea, whose Unha missile is slow, to look at accelerated missiles and that Iran was already doing this.

The MDA said the test was carried out at Point Mugu’s Naval Air Warfare Centre near Ventura.

“The Missile Defence Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Test-bed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile,” the agency said.

The system is being developed by ­Boeing, which uses the airframe of a modified 747 jumbo, and the MDA. Aerospace and defence contractor Northrop Grumman supplies the higher-energy laser, while Lockheed Martin is developing the beam and fire control systems.

“This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform,” the agency added.

The system successfully intercepted a missile in August last year but did not bring it down.

Last year the defence secretary, Robert Gates, decided that the programme should be scaled back, keeping research to a single plane, because of scepticism about how practical it would be.

John Pike, a defence analyst and founder of Virginia-based Global Security, said he doubted the test would change Gates’s view. “Gates seemed to believe that there was no prospect of the plane engaging targets at ranges of several hundred kilometres, and that engagements at ranges of less than 100 kilometres were not militarily interesting,” he said.

The MDA statement did not specify what the range was during the test.

Ivan Oelrich, a physicist and vice-president for strategic security programmes at the Federation of American Scientists, said: “What would be interesting would be how far away it [the missile] is.” He said that to be useful, the laser would have to be able to shoot down missiles from at least 100 miles. It would also be expensive to keep one or more planes on stations waiting for a missile.

Crescono le tensioni militari tra USA e Cina

February 13th, 2010 by Rick Rozoff

Anche se il bilancio militare degli USA è quasi dieci volte quello della Cina (che ha una popolazione di oltre quattro volte più grande) e Washington prevede un bilancio per la difesa di 708 miliardi di dollari per il prossimo anno, rispetto ai 40 miliardi di dollari spesi dalla Russia l’anno passato, la Cina e la Russia sono percepite come minacce per gli Stati Uniti e i suoi alleati. La Cina non ha truppe al di fuori dei suoi confini, la Russia ha qualche squadra nei suoi ex territori in Abkhazia, Armenia, Ossezia del Sud e Transnistria; gli Stati Uniti invece hanno centinaia di migliaia di soldati di stanza in sei continenti. Gates [Segretario alla Difesa nell'amministrazione Bush e in quella Obama, ndt], incaricato delle guerre in Afghanistan e in Iraq e responsabile di quasi metà della spesa militare internazionale si risente che la nazione più popolosa al mondo non voglia “essere minacciata dagli altri paesi”.

Il 23 dicembre dello scorso anno la Raytheon Company [industria di armi e "sistemi integrati per la difesa", ndt] ha annunciato di aver ricevuto da Taiwan un contratto di 1,1 miliardi di dollari per l’acquisto di 200 antimissili balistici Patriot. Ai primi di gennaio il Dipartimento della Difesa degli Stati Uniti ha autorizzato l’operazione, “nonostante l’opposizione della rivale Cina, che ha minacciato sanzioni alle imprese statunitensi che vendono armi all’isola”. [1]

La vendita completa una più ampia fornitura di armi del valore di 6,5 miliardi di dollari approvata dalla precedente amministrazione Bush sul finire del 2008: “Ultima consegna di cui Taiwan era in attesa”, stando alle parole del presidente di Asia Defense News. [2]

L’agenzia Defence News che per prima ha riportato la notizia, ricorda ai suoi lettori che la “Raytheon ha già vinto contratti più piccoli a Taiwan nel 2008 e nel gennaio 2009 per aggiornare i sistemi Patriot che il paese già possiede. I contratti prevedono l’upgrade dei sistemi alla Configurazione 3, la stessa che la società sta completando per l’esercito statunitense.”

La fonte descrive anche in cosa consiste la miglioria apportata ai Patriot: “La Configurazione 3 è il sistema antimissilistico più avanzato della Raytheon e permette l’uso di missili PAC-3 (Lockheed Martin’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3) [e] di intercettori Raytheon GEM-T (Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical) [Patriot-2]…” [3].

PAC-3 è l’ultimo e più sofisticato sistema di missili Patriot e il primo in grado di abbattere missili balistici tattici. Rappresenta il livello iniziale di uno scudo missilistico a più livelli, che comprende tutta una serie di apparati: Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Ground Based Interceptor (GBI), Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD), Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (ABMD) navali ed equipaggiati con intercettori Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), Forward Based X-Band Radar (FBXB) e componenti Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). Una rete integrata che va dal campo di battaglia sul terreno ai cieli.

Il sistema è modulare e facilmente trasportabile e le sue batterie sono quindi più in grado di eludere i rilevamenti e attaccare. Si amplia di molto anche la portata rispetto alle precedenti versioni di Patriot.

“Gli intercettori PAC-3, attraverso radar avanzati e un centro di comando, sono in grado di proteggere una superficie di circa sette volte maggiore rispetto al sistema Patriot originale”. [4]

Se con l’avvento della nuova amministrazione statunitense di un anno fa, le autorità cinesi, come il resto del mondo, prevedevano una riduzione o l’arresto dei ritmi di espansione militare di Washington a livello mondiale, sono state bruscamente disilluse.

Il vice ministro degli Esteri cinese He Yafei all’inizio dell’anno ha ammonito, per la sesta volta in una settimana, gli Stati Uniti a riconsiderare la fornitura di armi a Taiwan riferendo all’Agenzia di notizie nazionale, Xinhua: “la Cina ha protestato con forza contro la recente decisione del governo degli Stati Uniti di consentire a Raytheon Company e Lockheed Martin Corp. di vendere armi a Taiwan … La vendita di armi Usa a Taiwan mina la sicurezza nazionale della Cina”. [5]

Le ire cinesi si sono accresciute quando al repertorio di informazioni si è aggiunta la notizia che “l’Amministrazione Obama avrebbe presto annunciato la vendita a Taiwan di una fornitura di armi del valore di qualche miliardo di dollari USA che comprenderebbe elicotteri Black Hawk, sistemi anti-missile e progetti per sottomarini a propulsione diesel – in una mossa per irritare la Cina”. [6]

In aggiunta, il China Times ha riferito che Taiwan stava acquisendo otto fregate di seconda mano della classe Oliver Hazard Perry dagli Stati Uniti, oltre ai 200 missili Patriot. Le navi da guerra sono state progettate nel 1970 come alternativa relativamente a basso costo delle cacciatorpediniere della Seconda Guerra Mondiale. Il nuovo accordo raddoppierà il numero di fregate a disposizione di Taiwan, portandole a 16. Le fregate rappresentano anche un fattore di accrescimento della difesa missilistica, poiché “L’isola spera di armarle con una versione avanzata del sistema AEGIS, che usa computer e radar per colpire obiettivi multipli, oltre a sofisticate tecnologie missilistiche di lancio ….” [7]

Mentre Washington e Taipei presentano la transazione di armi come di natura strettamente difensiva, è opportuno ricordare che lo scorso autunno Taiwan ha condotto il suo “più grande test missilistico … da una base segreta e ben custodita nel sud di Taiwan”, con missili “in grado di raggiungere le maggiori città cinesi”. [8]

Il Presidente taiwanese Ma Ying-jeou ha assistito al lancio dei missili i quali “includevano il test di fuoco di un missile terra-terra top secret di recente sviluppo, a medio raggio, con una portata di 3.000 Km in grado di colpire le città più importanti della Cina centrale, settentrionale e meridionale”. [9]

I sistemi PAC-3 e SM-3 che gli Stati Uniti stanno fornendo a Taiwan potrebbero essere impiegati per contrastare un contrattacco cinese o per lo meno proteggere i siti di lancio dei missili a medio raggio di Taiwan, che, come osservato in precedenza, sono in grado di colpire la maggior parte delle principale città della Cina.

Pechino ha risposto l’11 gennaio conducendo un test missilistico con un intercettore Ground-based Midcourse [fase centrale del Ballistic Missile Defense, insieme a Boost Defense e Terminal Defense, NdT] sul proprio territorio.

Il professor Tan Kaijia dell’Università della Difesa Nazionale dell’Esercito Popolare di Liberazione ha detto a Xinhua: “Se il missile balistico è considerato come una lancia, ora siamo riusciti a costruire uno scudo per l’autodifesa”. [10]

Time Magazine ha evidenziato il portato del test scrivendo: “Non c’è alcuna possibilità che la mossa della Cina dissuada gli Stati Uniti dal supportare Taiwan …. Ma il test rappresenta il segnale di tensioni stridenti tra Pechino e Washington ….” [11]

Sia la Cina e che gli Stati Uniti, nel 2007 e poi l’anno successivo, con uno Standard Missile-3 lanciato da una fregata classe AEGIS dall’Oceano Pacifico, nel caso statunitense, hanno distrutto satelliti in orbita. L’alba della guerra spaziale era cominciata.

Il 15 gennaio un editoriale su un sito web russo intitolato “Possibili guerre spaziali in un prossimo futuro” fornisce un quadro di riferimento: “È difficile sopravvalutare il ruolo svolto dai sistemi satellitari militari. Sin dal 1970, un numero sempre maggiore di processi, dal controllo truppe alle telecomunicazioni, dall’acquisizione di bersagli alla navigazione dipendono da veicoli spaziali che sono quindi sempre più importanti… Il ruolo dello spazio è direttamente proporzionale al livello di sviluppo di una determinata nazione e dalle sue forze armate” [12].

Cina e Russia da anni chiedono il divieto di utilizzo dello spazio per scopi militari, sollevando annualmente la questione in seno alle Nazioni Unite, a cui però gli Stati Uniti oppongono un fermo diniego.

Per comprendere il contesto in cui i recenti sviluppi hanno avuto luogo, occorre sapere che Washington da tre anni e con sempre maggior determinazione ha incluso Cina e Russia con Iran e Corea del Nord tra i paesi belligeranti in potenziali conflitti futuri.

La campagna è iniziata nel febbraio del 2007 quando l’allora e attuale capo del Pentagono Robert Gates in occasione della definizione del bilancio per la Difesa nell’anno fiscale 2008 ha avanzato una richiesta sostenendo tra l’altro:

“Oltre alla lotta contro la guerra globale al terrore, dobbiamo anche affrontare il pericolo rappresentato dall’Iran e dalle ambizioni nucleari della Corea del Nord e la minaccia che questi due paesi rappresentano non solo per i loro vicini ma a livello mondiale per via del loro record di proliferazione; i percorsi incerti della Cina e della Russia, che perseguono entrambe sofisticati programmi di modernizzazione militare, e una serie di altri focolai di crisi e sfide…. Abbiamo bisogno delle capacità per regolare conflitti tra forze equivalenti perché non sappiamo cosa si sta sviluppando in posti come Russia, Cina, Corea del Nord, Iran e altrove”. [13]

Se può essere obiettato che Gates stava solo alludendo a piani di emergenza generale, che potrebbero applicarsi a qualsiasi tra le principali nazioni, né le sue osservazioni né quelle di altri funzionari della difesa degli Stati Uniti hanno citato, in tono simile, le potenze nucleari amiche – Gran Bretagna, Francia, India e Israele – ma invece hanno ribadito la preoccupazione per la Russia e la Cina con una insistenza allarmante. In realtà la Cina e la Russia hanno sostituito l’Iraq nella categoria “asse del male”.

Sia la Russia che la Cina hanno reagito duramente alle dichiarazioni Gates del febbraio 2007 e solo tre giorni più tardi, alla conferenza annuale sulla sicurezza di Monaco di Baviera con Gates tra il pubblico, il presidente russo Vladimir Putin ha pronunciato un discorso in cui ha avvertito:

“Cos’è un mondo unipolare? Comunque si provi ad addolcire la pillola, ci si riferisce a un situazione specifica in cui esiste una sola autorità, un solo centro di forza, un unico centro decisionale.

“È un mondo in cui c’è un padrone, un sovrano. E alla fine ciò risulta pericoloso, non solo per tutti coloro che sono all’interno del sistema, ma per il sovrano stesso, che si distrugge dall’interno”.

“Azioni unilaterali e spesso illegittime non risolvono i problemi, anzi spesso sono causa di nuove tragedie umane e nuovi focolai di tensione. Giudicate voi stessi: i conflitti locali e regionali non sono diminuiti…. E non sono meno le persone che periscono in questi conflitti, anzi: muoiono sempre più persone. Molte di più, significativamente di più!

“Oggi stiamo assistendo ad un uso quasi incontenibile e ipertrofico della forza – forza militare – nelle relazioni internazionali, forza che sta gettando il mondo in un abisso di conflitti permanenti.

“Uno Stato, gli Stati Uniti, ha oltrepassato i suoi confini nazionali in ogni modo. Questo è visibile in campo economico, politico, culturale ed educativo nelle politiche che esso impone alle altre nazioni….” [14]

L’avvertimento non è stato ascoltato a Washington.

Tre mesi più tardi il capo del Pentagono ha reiterato le accuse. Nel maggio del 2007 il Dipartimento della Difesa ha pubblicato la sua relazione annuale sulla capacità militare della Cina, citando “gli sforzi per proiettare la potenza cinese al di là del suo territorio immediato e per sviluppare sistemi ad alta tecnologia in grado di sfidare i migliori al mondo”.

“Il Segretario alla Difesa Usa Robert Gates ha detto che gli sforzi della Cina lo inducono a preoccuparsi.”

Il rapporto afferma che “la Cina sta portando avanti un progetto a lungo termine di trasformazione completa delle sue forze armate” per “poter proiettare la propria potenza all’esterno e rendere inoffensive le minacce” [15]. Gates, incaricato delle guerre in Afghanistan e in Iraq e responsabile di quasi metà della spesa militare internazionale si risentiva che la nazione più popolosa al mondo non volesse “essere minacciata dagli altri paesi”.

Un anno dopo che Gates associava Cina e Russia con i superstiti dell’asse del male, Iran e Corea del Nord, il Direttore Nazionale dell’intelligence USA Michael McConnell individuava nella Cina, nella Russia e nell’Organizzazione dei Paesi Esportatori di Petrolio (OPEC), le principali minacce per gli Stati Uniti, ancor più che al-Qaeda.

Voice of Russia ha risposto a tali accuse, sostenendo tra l’altro:

“La Russia ha chiesto spiegazioni agli USA circa il rapporto del Direttore dell’intelligence nazionale statunitense, in cui Russia, Cina, Iraq, Iran, Corea del Nord e al-Qaida sono descritte come fonti di minaccia strategica per gli Stati Uniti … E’ possibile che la relazione della comunità di intelligence degli Stati Uniti debba giustificare l’impressionante quantità di denaro che viene speso ogni anno per la sua attività. Molto probabilmente Ci devono essere altre ragioni per spiegare perché la Russia è stata inclusa tra gli Stati che costituiscono una minaccia per l’America” [16].

Gates è rimasto nella carica di ministro della Difesa nella nuova amministrazione statunitense e così la retorica anticinese e antirussa.

Il 1° maggio dello scorso anno il Segretario di Stato Hillary Clinton ha detto che “L’amministrazione Obama sta lavorando per migliorare le cattive relazioni degli Stati Uniti con una serie di nazioni latino-americane per contrastare la crescente influenza iraniana, cinese e russa nell’emisfero occidentale….” [17]. Il mese dopo aver pronunciato quelle parole un colpo di Stato militare è stato organizzato in Honduras e due settimane dopo gli Stati Uniti si sono assicurate l’utilizzo di sette basi militari in Colombia.

A settembre il Direttore della National Intelligence Dennis Blair, nella relazione quadriennale sulla strategia nazionale USA ha detto che “la Russia, la Cina, l’Iran e la Corea del Nord rappresentano le maggiori sfide agli interessi nazionali degli Stati Uniti” [18].

Agence France-Presse riprendendo il rapporto ha reso noto che “Gli Stati Uniti mettono l’emergente superpotenza cinese e l’ex nemico russo della guerra fredda a fianco dell’Iran e della Corea del Nord nella lista dei quattro principali paesi in contrasto con gli interessi statunitensi” e, citando la relazione Blair aggiunge: La Cina è stata additata per “la sua diplomazia orientata in modo crescente alle risorse naturali e la modernizzazione militare” e “La Russia che è un partner degli Stati Uniti in iniziative importanti – come la produzione di materiale fissile e la lotta contro il terrorismo nucleare – continua a cercare strade per riaffermare il suo potere e la sua influenza, in un modo che ostacola gli interessi degli Stati Uniti.” [19]

La Cina non è autorizzata a neutralizzare le altre nazioni da eventuali minacce e alla Russia non è consentito di intralciare gli interessi degli Stati Uniti.

La tendenza, inquietante nella sua inesorabilità, prosegue nell’anno in corso.

Il vice presidente di Lockheed Martin, John Holly, ha decantato il ruolo della sua azienda nella produzione del Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System – componenti che vengono consegnati a Taiwan – come “fiore all’occhiello” del catalogo di missili intercettori Lockheed, e secondo un quotidiano della città che ospita l’Agenzia per la difesa missilistica del Pentagono “riferendosi ai programmi missilistici di Corea del Nord, Iran, Russia e Cina”, Holly ha detto che “il mondo non è un posto molto sicuro … spetta a noi del settore fornire [al Pentagono] le migliori funzionalità” [20].

Tre giorni dopo, Wallace Gregson Assistente Segretario alla Difesa del Pentagono per la sicurezza dell’Asia e del Pacifico “ha espresso dubbi circa l’insistenza della Cina rispetto l’uso pacifico dello spazio”, e ha commentato: “I cinesi hanno dichiarato di opporsi alla militarizzazione dello spazio. Le loro azioni sembrano indicare la volontà contraria.” [21]

Il giorno dopo l’ammiraglio Robert Willard, capo del Commando Pacifico USA, ha dichiarato in una testimonianza davanti al Comitato dei Servizi Armati che il “potente motore economico cinese sta finanziando un programma di modernizzazione dell’apparato militare che ha destato apprensione nella regione, una preoccupazione condivisa anche dal US Pacific Command”. [22]

La marina statunitense ha sei flotte e undici portaerei disponibili per essere dispiegate in qualsiasi parte del mondo, ma la Cina con la sola marina di tipo “brown water” navy [flotta di navi militari idonee ad operare in acque fluviali o litoranee da considerarsi potenzialmente subordinata ad una "blu water" navy, che opera in larga autonomia, wikipedia] al largo delle sue coste è motivo di preoccupazione per gli Stati Uniti.

Alan Mackinnon, il presidente della campagna scozzese per il disarmo nucleare, scriveva lo scorso settembre:

“Il panorama bellico mondiale è oggi dominato da un’unica superpotenza. In termini militari gli Stati Uniti siedono a cavalcioni del mondo come un gigante colossale. Un paese che rappresenta solo il cinque per cento della popolazione mondiale vanta il 50 per cento della spesa mondiale di armi.

“Le sue 11 flotte navali pattugliano ciascun oceano e le sue 909 basi militari sono sparse strategicamente in ogni continente. Nessun altro paese ha basi equivalenti sul territorio degli Stati Uniti – sarebbe impensabile e incostituzionale. Sono trascorsi 20 anni dalla fine della guerra fredda e gli Stati Uniti e i suoi alleati non devono fronteggiare alcuna significativa minaccia militare oggi. Perché allora non abbiamo avuto la pace sperata? Perché la nazione più potente del mondo continua ad aumentare il proprio bilancio militare, che oggi supera più di 1.200 miliardi di dollari all’anno in termini reali? Quale minaccia è dovrebbe contrastare?

“La risposta statunitense è stata in gran parte militare e ha concretizzato l’espansione della NATO e l’accerchiamento di Russia e Cina in una morsa di basi e alleanze ostili, mentre continua la pressione per isolare e indebolire l’Iran.” [23]

Osservazioni queste da tenere a mente quando la Cina viene presentata con insistenza come una minaccia strategica alla sicurezza e al controllo esclusivo del mondo da parte di una sola superpotenza militare.

Traduzione dall’inglese per www.resistenze.org  a cura del Centro di Cultura e Documentazione Popolare

http://www.resistenze.org/sito/os/dg/osdgab08-006308.htm

Notes

1) Reuters, January 7, 2010
2) Ibid
3) Defense News, December 23, 2009
4) http://www.missilethreat.com/missiledefensesystems/id.41/ system_detail.asp
5) Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 9, 2010
6) Taiwan News, January 4, 2010
7) Agence France-Presse, January 11, 2010
8) Radio Taiwan International, October 14, 2009
9) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 14, 2009
10) Asian Times, January 20, 2010
11) Time, January 13, 2010
12) Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 15, 2010
13) http://www.sras.org/news2.phtml?m=908
14) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/12/ AR2007021200555.html
15) Voice of America News, May 26, 2007
16) Voice of Russia, February 8, 2008
17) Associated Press, May 1, 2009
18) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 16, 2009
19) Agence France-Presse, September 15, 2009
20) Huntsville Times, January 10, 2010
21) Agence France-Presse, January 13, 2010
22) Washington Post, January 14, 2010
23) Scottish Left Review, November 17, 2009

Yanukovych Confirms No Plans to Take Ukraine into NATO

February 13th, 2010 by Global Research

Moscow — Ukraine has no intention of bidding to become a member of NATO, Viktor Yanukovych said on Friday as Western leaders congratulated him on winning the former Soviet republic’s presidential polls.

A Ukrainian NATO bid pushed by outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko was strongly backed by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. But despite Washington’s enthusiasm, it was turned down at a 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest due to pressure from Germany and France, who were concerned that the move would antagonize Russia.

NATO stated however that Ukraine, along with fellow former Soviet republic Georgia, would join the alliance at an unspecified date in the future.

“There is no question of Ukraine joining NATO,” Yanukovych said in an interview with Russia’s Channel One.

“Ukraine is interested today in the development of a project to create a system of collective European security. We are ready to take part in this and support the initiative of Russia President Dmitry Medvedev,” he went on, in a clear indication that the former premier will look to restore ties with Russia, soured in recent years over Ukraine’s pro-Western policies.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Yanukovych on Thursday to congratulate him on winning Sunday’s presidential runoff. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and European Union President Herman Van Rompuy sent a message to Yanukovych on Friday.

Yanukovych defeated his bitter rival Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by a mere 3.5% in Sunday’s polls, according to final preliminary results. The official results will be announced by February 17.

The Goal of Modern Propaganda: Mythocracy

February 13th, 2010 by Cindy Sheehan

“The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief.” Jacques Ellul

On Super Bowl Sunday, the reason that I wrote my new book: Myth America: 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution, literally hit home.

Since it was the Holy Day of Obligation for our national religion of Football, I headed for my health club because I have always been a heretic. I arrived there a little before kick off, so the club was still occupied, but after kick-off it was deserted.

After my water workout and swim in the pool that I had all to myself, I headed to the hot tub which was occupied by another spa patron—an older gentleman named Bill whom seems to come to the club just to sit in the hot tub and chat. I get the feeling he is very lonely, and this following exchange may be why:

Bill: I think what you do disgraces your son, his memory and what he died for.

Cindy: Oh really? Since he was killed in an illegal and immoral war, I think this nation disgraced him.

Bill: But they attacked us on 9-11.

Cindy: Who attacked us on 9-11?

Bill: Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

Cindy: Are you serious? If you believe the official story, 16 Saudi Arabians attacked us.

Bill: But Saddam killed his own people.

Cindy: We have killed over one million of Saddam’s “own people,” (at this point Cindy does “air quotes?).

Bill: But we didn’t mean to.

Cindy: (deep sigh), So what team are you rooting for this afternoon?

At which point, Bill scrambled out of the hot tub and headed for the showers.

My “friend” Bill has been thoroughly propagandized from the right—there was no use sitting in the hot tub with the jets blasting and trying to reason with a man who thinks that over one million people can be killed “accidentally.”

I didn’t write Myth America for people like Bill who wouldn’t recognize a fact if it flew out of his TV box and hit him on his bulbous nose. I wrote the book for our fellow citizens who have even a tiny inkling that what is our actual shared experience has very little to do with the Mythocracy that we live in.

I also wrote Myth America for people who knew that the wars of aggression were wrong when Bush was president, but magically transformed into born-again warniks when Obama took the oath of office—these newby warniks had begun to see through the propaganda over the last eight years, but allowed one of the more insidious myths to take over—the myth that there is a difference between an elected Democrat and an elected Republican. These are the same people who came to my talks after The Obama came to power to proclaim that the U.S. needs to stay in Afghanistan to “protect the women.”

During my campaign against House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in 2008, it became so clear to me that the only relevant division in this nation, indeed world, is a class division. I know I have been late to this game and analysis, but remember less than six years ago my entire world was my family and this suburban intellectually challenged sinkhole.

During my campaign, I experienced the myths that “Elections Matter” and that the U.S. has a “Free Press” as I struggled in a fierce campaign to even achieve ballot status as an independent and garner a few crumbs of media attention. Even the so-called “Liberal media” abandoned me and when I did get media attention—even from the papers that endorsed me—the punch line always was, “but she has no chance.”

I struggled with the working class to get labor to endorse me, but in each and every case, members of my own class endorsed the Queen of the Robber Class, Nancy Pelosi. Nancy has done nothing for labor, except to operate her vineyards in wine country without unions, support most “free” trade agreements and hire someone to iron her fabulously wealthy husbands’ shirts. So why did labor endorse Pelosi and not a hard working member of their own class with a labor platform that was hailed from all over this planet? Because she’s a Democrat, that’s why. Labor cares more about access to politicians than access to sane policies.

It was towards the end of my campaign when the infamous “bankster bailout” happened. After the bill failed in the House, Pelosi came out all haggard to whine about having to bailout the companies, but pushed the stuffing out of her caucus to ram it through the second time.

Democratic candidate and Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, called members of the House to browbeat them to change their votes and my neighboring Congresswoman, Barbara Lee of Oakland, did a rare about-face and betrayed her principles and her poor constituents—that’s when I finally woke up to what Robber Warren Buffet said: “It’s class warfare all right, and its my class, the rich class that’s making war, and we are winning.” Well, in our Mythocracy, Buffet’s class is really the only class that knows we are at war. Most of the rest of us believe that we live in a “Democracy” where even the lowest of us can attain Robber Class status.

Well, in this Mythocracy, if there’s a Robber Class, then what’s the other class? The one that over 99 percent of us belong to? The Robbed Class—the class that must remain “Hope”notized by those myths and divided amongst ourselves so we don’t even realize that just about everything we hold dear is being stolen from us, right out from under our own noses with our apathetic acquiescence. It’s the age-old Robber Class strategy of “divide and conquer.”

What is the revolution that I write of?

First it’s the very revolutionary idea of recognizing that we do live in a Mythocracy and the lower one is on the socio-economic ladder, the farther apart the reality and myth of this country are.

Secondly, the myths must be exposed and dispelled—my new PDF book is an addition to this conversation.

Thirdly, we must work together across racial, political, religious, gender, and sexual preference lines to build community and strength in our class to resist the larcenies of the Robber Class.

Finally, I foresee this top heavy Empire of cards toppling in the foreseeable future. My revolution will create the necessary umbrella to be able to deflect some of the more damaging rubble that will come crashing down.

The Robber Class knows two things that we need to learn quickly…

That they need us far more than we need them and there are far more of us then there are of them.

This is a revolution that we can win.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq on 04 April 2004. She is the host of Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox Radio Show and the author of five books, the latest is Myth America: 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution. (In PDF format). Cindy’s favorite role is being Gigi to her two grandchildren: Jonah and Jovie.

 

More info and ordering info for Myth America can be found at Cindy’s blog:

http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/2010/01/order-info-for-myth-america-ii.html

Developments related to military and security matters in Europe and Asia have been numerous this month and condensed into less than a week of meetings, statements and initiatives on issues ranging from missile shield deployments to the unparalleled escalation of the world’s largest war and from a new security system for Europe to a new Russian military doctrine.

A full generation after the end of the Cold War and almost that long since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the past week’s events are evocative of another decade and another century. Twenty or more years ago war in Afghanistan and controversial missile placements in Europe were current news in a bipolar world.

Twenty years afterward, with no Soviet Union, no Warsaw Pact and a greatly diminished and truncated Russia, the United States and NATO have militarized Europe to an unprecedented degree – in fact subordinating almost the entire continent under a Washington-dominated military bloc – and have launched the most extensive combat offensive in South Asia in what is already the longest war in the world.

Of 44 nations in Europe and the Caucasus (excluding microstates and the NATO pseudo-state of Kosovo), only six – Belarus, Cyprus, Malta, Moldova, Russia and Serbia – have escaped having their citizens conscripted by NATO for deployment to the Afghan war front. That number will soon shrink yet further.

Of those 44 countries, only two – Cyprus and Russia – are not members of NATO or its Partnership for Peace transitional program and Cyprus is under intense pressure to join the second.

On February 4 and 5 all 28 NATO defense chiefs met for two days of deliberations in Istanbul, Turkey which concentrated on the war in Afghanistan, the bloc’s military deployment in Kosovo and accelerated plans for expanding a world-wide interceptor missile system to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. That gathering followed by eight days a two-day meeting of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels which included 63 military chiefs from NATO nations and 35 Troop Contributing Nations, as the bloc designates them, including the top military commanders of Israel and Pakistan. That conference focused on the Afghan war and NATO’s new Strategic Concept to be officially formalized at an Alliance summit later this year.

The commander of all 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, attended both two-day meetings. Pentagon chief Robert Gates presided over the second and “Afghanistan and missile defense are examples of the new priorities that Gates wants NATO to focus on.” [1]

As indicated by the number of Chiefs of Defense Staff in attendance at the Brussels meetings – 63 – NATO’s reach has been extended far beyond Europe and North America over the past decade. Troops serving under the bloc’s command in Afghanistan come from every inhabited continent, the Middle East and Oceania: Australia has the largest non-member contingent with over 1,500 soldiers, and other non-European nations like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt, Georgia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have troops in Afghanistan or on the way there.

On the day the Istanbul NATO defense ministers meeting began Romanian President Traian Basescu announced that he had granted the Obama administration’s request to base U.S. interceptor missiles in his nation, following by five weeks the news that U.S. Patriot anti-ballistic missiles would be stationed in a part of Poland a half hour drive from Russia’s westernmost border.

The next day, February 5, which marked two months since the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the U.S. and Russia regulating the reduction of nuclear weapons and delivery systems expired, [2] the Russian Interfax news agency announced that “President Dmitry Medvedev has endorsed Russia’s military doctrine and basic principles of its nuclear deterrence policy in the period up to 2020….” [3]

The same source cited Security Council Deputy Secretary and former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Yury Baluyevsky commenting on the new doctrine: “It is planned to develop the ground, sea, and aerial components of the nuclear triad….Russia needs to guarantee its consistent democratic development using such a stability guarantor as nuclear weapons, as a form of strategic deterrence….Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons only if its very existence as a state is endangered.” [4]

Commentary in the Indian daily The Hindu specified that “The doctrine details 11 external military threats to Russia, seven of which are traced to the West. NATO´s eastward expansion and its push for a global role are identified as the number one threat to Russia.”

The feature added: “The U.S. is the source of other top threats listed in the doctrine even though the country is never mentioned in the document. These include attempts to destabilise countries and regions and undermine strategic stability; military build-ups in neighbouring states and seas; the creation and deployment of strategic missile defences, as well as the militarisation of outer space and deployment of high-precision non-nuclear strategic systems.”

Regarding the timing of the authorization of Russia’s new military strategy, the report connected it with recent U.S. missile shield decisions and the START talks between Washington and Moscow still dragging on.

“The new defence doctrine was signed into law and published a day after Romania announced plans to deploy U.S. interceptor missiles as part of a global missile shield fiercely opposed by Russia. Earlier reports said the Kremlin had been holding back the doctrine, prepared last year, because it did not want to jeopardise talks with the U.S. on a new nuclear arms pact that are still going on.” [5]

A similar observation was made in a report from China’s Xinhua News Agency:

“Analysts say the Romanian decision came at a crucial moment when Washington and Moscow are about to sign a successor document to the expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1). Therefore, the move may upset the thawing Russia-U.S. relations and put their bilateral ties to test.” [6]

The new Russian Military Doctrine (in Russian at http://news.kremlin.ru/ref_notes/461) listed under the heading of “Main external threats of war” the following concerns, with the most pressing first:

- The goal of NATO to arrogate to itself the assumption of global functions in violation of international law, and to expand the military infrastructure of NATO nations to Russia’s borders including through expansion of the bloc

- Attempts to destabilize the situation in individual states and regions and the undermining of strategic stability

- The deployment of military contingents of foreign states (and blocs) on territories neighboring Russia and its allies, as well as in adjacent waters

- The establishment and deployment of strategic missile defense systems that undermine global stability and violate the balance of forces in the nuclear field, as well as the militarization of outer space and the deployment of strategic non-nuclear systems precision weapons

- Territorial claims against Russia and its allies and interference in their internal affairs

- The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, missiles and missile technology, increasing the number of states possessing nuclear weapons

- The violation by a state of international agreements, and failure to ratify and implement previously signed international treaties on arms limitation and reduction

- The use of military force in the territories of states bordering Russia in violation of the UN Charter and other norms of international law

- The escalation of armed conflicts on territories neighboring Russia and allied nations

At the 46th annual Munich Security Conference held on February 6 and 7 NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said “I have to say that this new doctrine does not reflect the real world,” though any impartial perusal of the above nine points it addresses would confirm that it portrays the world exactly as it is. Regrettably.

For example, after Romania’s president revealed that U.S. missiles would be deployed in the country, a statement by the nation’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said “Romania was and continues to be a consistent promoter in NATO of the project regarding the gradual-adaptive development of the anti-missile defence system in Europe….The decision to take part in the U.S. system is in full agreement with what the NATO summits in Bucharest in 2008 and in Strasbourg-Kehl in 2009 decided in this respect.” [7]

On the first day of the Munich Security Conference Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in his address that “With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organization a real opportunity emerged to make the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] a full-fledged organization providing equal security for all states of the Euro-Atlantic area. However, this opportunity was missed, because the choice was made in favor of the policy of NATO expansion, which meant not only preserving the lines that separated Europe during the Cold War into zones with different levels of security, but also moving those lines eastward. The role of the OSCE was, in fact, reduced to servicing this policy by means of supervision over humanitarian issues in the post-Soviet space.”

He continued with a review of the failure of post-Cold War security measures in Europe:

“That the principle of indivisibility of security in the OSCE does not work doesn’t take long to prove. Let’s recall the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, when a group of OSCE countries, bound by this political declaration, committed aggression against another OSCE country, which was also covered by this principle.

“Everyone also remembers the tragedy of August 2008 in Transcaucasia, where a member country of the OSCE which is bound by various commitments in the sphere of nonuse of force used this force, including against peacekeepers of another member country of the OSCE, in violation not only of the Helsinki Final Act, but also of the concrete peacekeeping agreement devoted to the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict, which excludes use of force.” [8]

He was followed the next day by NATO chief Rasmussen, who not only failed to respond to the accusation that peace and security in Europe were endangered by his military organization’s relentless drive toward Russia’s borders, but advocated NATO involvement beyond the continent to encompass the world.

In claiming “that in an age of globalised insecurity, our territorial defence must begin beyond our borders,” Rasmussen urged “that NATO should become a forum for consultation on worldwide security issues.”

His address also included the demand to “take NATO’s transformation to a new level – by connecting the Alliance with the broader international system in entirely new ways.”

Russia cannot propose a common security system for Europe, but NATO can dictate an international one.

Rasmussen boasted that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan “will further grow in strength this year, with more than 39,000 extra troops,” in the sanguinary killing field the West has created in the long-suffering country.

Not only did he not express a single reservation about a war that is now in its tenth calendar year and growing deadlier by the day, but he celebrated it as a model for the world: “Our Afghanistan experience…leads me to [another] point: the need to turn NATO into a forum for consultation on worldwide security issues….NATO is a framework which has already proven to be uniquely able to combine security consultation, military planning and actual operations for more than just NATO members themselves. Again, look at Afghanistan.” [9]

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Duma’s International Affairs Committee, also spoke at the Munich Security Conference and said “I believe the problem of NATO today is that NATO develops in reverse order – it tries to act globally more and more but continues to think locally….As soon as NATO starts to reach beyond its borders this is no longer just an internal matter for NATO.”

He also “accused the alliance of provoking the Georgia-Russia conflict by promising Tbilisi eventual membership….” [10]

Current Russian deputy prime minister and former defense minister Sergei Ivanov spoke at Munich too and in regard to the stalled START talks said “It is impossible to talk seriously about the reduction of nuclear capabilities when a nuclear power is working to deploy protective systems against vehicles to deliver nuclear warheads possessed by other countries,” reminding conference participants that “Russia unilaterally cut its tactical nuclear arsenals by 75% in the early 1990s, but the United States did respond with a similar move and even failed to withdraw its weapons from Europe.” [11]

Two days after the Munich Security Conference the secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Nikolai Patrushev, reiterated Lavrov’s and Kosachev’s earlier concerns, stating “We have grave doubts [that Russia will be more secure due to NATO expansion.] NATO represents a rather serious threat to us.”

A major Russian news agency wrote that “Patrushev criticized NATO for its continued enlargement efforts, including its encouragement of Georgia’s and Ukraine’s bids to join the alliance.

“He also blamed NATO for arming and preparing Georgia for an attack on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and said NATO countries continued to supply Tbilisi with weaponry despite Russia’s protests.” [12]

To substantiate those concerns, the 10th annual NATO Week began in Ukraine on February 9 and at the same time the government of Georgia “endorsed the Annual National Program of cooperation with NATO [ANP] for 2010,” [13] an initiative launched by NATO shortly after Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia and war with Russia in August of 2008.

War in the Balkans, war in South Asia, war in the Caucasus. This is the model NATO calls for replicating on a world scale. And as the bloc moves further eastward it brings in his wake troops and military equipment, air and naval bases, and missile shield installations.

On February 9 Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia Nikolai Makarov warned “The development and establishment of the (U.S.) missile shield is directed against the Russian Federation.” [14]

He also said “that differences with the United States over plans for a missile defense shield were holding up a nuclear arms reduction treaty” between Washington and Moscow, that “the differences had so far prevented the signing of the arms treaty.” [15]

In further reference to the START negotiations, he stated “U.S. missile defense plans are a threat to Russian national security and have slowed down progress on a new arms control treaty with Washington.”

In Makarov’s own words, “The treaty on strategic offensive weapons we are currently working on must take into account the link between defensive and offensive strategic weapons. This link is very close, they are absolutely interdependent. It would be wrong not to take the missile defense into account.” [16]

Earlier in the week spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrei Nesterenko reiterated his nation’s demand that U.S. tactical nuclear arms should be removed from Europe. He said that the “withdrawal of American tactical weapons from Europe back to the United States would be welcome. It should be accompanied by complete and irreversible demolition of the entire infrastructures supporting the deployment of such weapons in Europe,” and reaffirmed his nation’s position that “nuclear arms should be deployed only in the territory of the states possessing such weapons.” [17]

Six days afterward, to add to Russia’s foreboding and to demonstrate Western recalcitrance on the issue, the insufferable ex-NATO secretary general George Robertson was quoted in the Turkish press acknowledging that the U.S. has from 40 to 90 nuclear weapons at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. Lord Robertson made the statement in the context of demanding U.S. warheads remain in Germany. He is of course neither a German nor an American but is a former NATO chieftain and as such considers himself entitled to determine matters of this grave nature.

Also on February 10 a top Polish presidential aide, Wladyslaw Stasiak, was in Washington to discuss the imminent deployment of American Patriot Advanced Capability-3 theater anti-ballistic missiles. He met with members of the U.S. National Security Council and with “experts at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation and the Center for International and Strategic Studies.”

Afterward he stated “We talked about the future of NATO in the context of a new strategic concept, as well as present day NATO, especially concerning Article 5 and its practical implementation,” referring to the Alliance’s military intervention provision. [18]

On the same day a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry expressed concerns over U.S. missiles being deployed in its fellow Black Sea nation Romania. “As a neighboring country with Romania, we cannot let U.S. plans for a missile shield deployment in close proximity to our border go unnoticed, especially since some elements are expected to be based in the Black Sea.” [19]

Vladimir Voronin, until last September president of Moldova, which borders both Romania and Ukraine, recently warned that U.S. missile deployments in and off the coast of Romania “could turn neighboring Moldova into a front-line area” and that “Romania’s position on the U.S. missile shield and also open support for it from the Moldovan current leadership could have disastrous consequences for security in the region.” [20]

In doing so he echoed Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin who two days before said “U.S. plans to base a missile-defense system in eastern Europe are a pretext to encroach on Russia’s borders” and “The U.S. is using Iran’s actions to globalize its system of missile defense.” [21]

Four days after his previous comments, Moldova’s Voronin said that “The US ABM deployment in Romania is bringing Europe back to the ‘Cold War’” and that he “doubts that US ABMs are targeted against Iran’s threat only.” [22]

The Pentagon opened a missile radar base in Israel’s Negev Desert in 2008, manned by over 100 military personnel, which has a range of 2,900 miles, almost three times the distance between the Israeli and Iranian capitals. The forward-based X-band radar at the Nevatim Air Base can monitor all of eastern and much of southern Russia.

The more the U.S. and its NATO allies thunder against alleged Iranian threats, the tighter the Western interceptor missile cordon is secured around Russia.

On February 10 the local press wrote that “the Czech Republic is in discussions with the Obama administration to host a command center for the United States’ altered missile defense plan.” [23]

The following day the Chinese ambassador to Russia, Li Hui, spoke with one of his host country’s main news agencies and “reiterated Beijing’s concerns that [U.S. missile shield] plans might disturb the current strategic balance and stability and escalate tensions” and correctly characterizing the true scope of the American interceptor missile project “said the creation of a global missile defense undermined international efforts to bring nuclear proliferation to a halt.” [24]

His warnings, like those of Russia’s, went unheeded in Washington and among its NATO allies. On February 12 Poland approved a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States for “100 US soldiers to be stationed in Poland as part of the shield, which will include Patriot missiles and SM-3s.” [25] This may be the first confirmation that American ship-based (and/or land-based adaptations of) Standard Missile-3 longer-range interceptors will be deployed along with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles near Russia’s western border.

Also on February 12 Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov revealed that the U.S. will hold talks with his government to station potential first strike-related interceptor missile components in the Black Sea nation. U.S. Ambassador James Warlick confirmed that preliminary discussions have already occurred. The Bulgarian head of state explained the rationale for his willingness to take the risky move: “My opinion is that we have to show solidarity. When you are a member of NATO, you have to work for the collective security.” [26]

Considering all of the above, that the Russian government permitted former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright and her “Group of Experts”/”Wise Men” coterie to promote NATO’s new Strategic Concept at a talk at the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations on February 11 is a travesty, an abomination. The only venue the nation’s authorities should have accorded her is a jail cell.

NATO is not the international security provider it now attempts to pose as. It is not a partner to the United Nations, which it has overshadowed and rendered toothless and pathetic, or any other international or regional organization. It is not the foundation for a worldwide “alliance of democracies.”

NATO is a lethal, lawless warfighting axis which unilaterally reserves the right to repeat its armed aggression in the Balkans and South Asia on a global scale. It is an affront and a threat to humanity.


Notes

1) Bloomberg News, February 4, 2010
2) With Nuclear, Conventional Arms Pacts Stalled, U.S. Moves Missiles And Troops To Russian Border Stop NATO, January 22, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/with-nuclear-conventional-arms-pacts-stalled-u-s-moves-missiles-and-troops-to-russian-border
3) Interfax, February 5, 2010
4) Ibid
5) Vladimir Radyuhin, New Russian doctrine sees NATO, U.S. as main threat
The Hindu, February 7, 2010
6) Xinhua News Agency, February 8, 2010
7) Financiarul, February 6, 2010
8) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, February 8, 2010
http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/49F4C4EB6473C1E5C32576C500311EB4
9) NATO in the 21st Century: Towards Global Connectivity Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Munich Security Conference
http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/opinions_61395.htm?selectedLocale=en
10) Reuters, February 7, 2010
11) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 6, 2010
12) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 9, 2010
13) Georgia Times, February 10, 2010
14) Reuters, February 9, 2010
15) Reuters, February 9, 2010
16) Associated Press, February 9, 2010
17) Itar-Tass, February 4, 2010
18) Polish Radio, February 10, 2010
19) RosBusinessConsulting, February 10, 2010
20) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 7, 2010
21) Bloomberg News, February 5, 2010
22) Voice of Russia, February 11, 2010
23) Prague Post, February 10, 2010
24) Voice of Russia, February 11, 2010
25) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 12, 2010
26) Reuters, February 12, 2010

The U.S “Odious Debts” used to Finance Illegal Wars

February 13th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

It Is the Personal Debt of Those Who Ordered It

There is an established legal principle that people should not have to repay their government’s debt to the extent that it is incurred to launch aggressive wars or to oppress the people.

These “odious debts” are considered to be the personal debts of the tyrants who incurred them, rather than the country’s debt.

Wikipedia gives a good overview of the principle:

In international law, odious debt is a legal theory which holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, such as wars of aggression, should not be enforceable. Such debts are thus considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion.

The doctrine was formalized in a 1927 treatise by Alexander Nahum Sack, a Russian émigré legal theorist, based upon 19th Century precedents including Mexico’s repudiation of debts incurred by Emperor Maximilian’s regime, and the denial by the United States of Cuban liability for debts incurred by the Spanish colonial regime. According to Sack:

When a despotic regime contracts a debt, not for the needs or in the interests of the state, but rather to strengthen itself, to suppress a popular insurrection, etc, this debt is odious for the people of the entire state. This debt does not bind the nation; it is a debt of the regime, a personal debt contracted by the ruler, and consequently it falls with the demise of the regime. The reason why these odious debts cannot attach to the territory of the state is that they do not fulfil one of the conditions determining the lawfulness of State debts, namely that State debts must be incurred, and the proceeds used, for the needs and in the interests of the State. Odious debts, contracted and utilised for purposes which, to the lenders’ knowledge, are contrary to the needs and the interests of the nation, are not binding on the nation – when it succeeds in overthrowing the government that contracted them – unless the debt is within the limits of real advantages that these debts might have afforded. The lenders have committed a hostile act against the people, they cannot expect a nation which has freed itself of a despotic regime to assume these odious debts, which are the personal debts of the ruler.

Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International (an environmental and public policy advocacy organisation in Canada), and author of Odious Debts: Loose Lending, Corruption, and the Third World’s Environmental Legacy, has stated that:

by giving creditors an incentive to lend only for purposes that are transparent and of public benefit, future tyrants will lose their ability to finance their armies, and thus the war on terror and the cause of world peace will be better served.

A recent article by economists Seema Jayachandran and Michael Kremer has renewed interest in this topic. They propose that the idea can be used to create a new type of economic sanction to block further borrowing by dictators.

Jubilee USA notes that creditors may lose their rights to repayment of odious debts:

Odious debt is an established legal principle. Legally, debt is to be considered odious if the government used the money for personal purposes or to oppress the people. Moreover, in cases where borrowed money was used in ways contrary to the people’s interest, with the knowledge of the creditors, the creditors may be said to have committed a hostile act against the people. Creditors cannot legitimately expect repayment of such debts.

The United States set the first precedent of odious debt when it seized control of Cuba from Spain. Spain insisted that Cuba repay the loans made to them by Spain. The U.S. repudiated (refused to pay) that debt, arguing that the debt was imposed on Cuba by force of arms and served Spain’s interest rather than Cuba’s, and that the debt therefore ought not be repaid. This precedent was upheld by international law in Great Britain v. Costa Rica (1923) when money was put to use for illegitimate purposes with full knowledge of the lending institution; the resulting debt was annulled.

The launch of the Iraq war was an unlawful war of aggression. It was based on false premises (weapons of mass destruction and a connection between Iraq and 9/11; see this, this, this, this, this and this). Therefore, the trillions in debts incurred in fighting that war are odious debts which the people might lawfully refuse to pay for.

The Bush and Obama administrations have also oppressed the American people through spying on us – even before 9/11 (confirmed here and here) – harassment of innocent grandmothers and other patriotic Americans criticizing government action, and other assaults on liberty and the rule of law. See this. The monies borrowed to finance these oppressive activities are also odious debts.

The government has also given trillions in bailouts, loans, guarantees and other perks to the too big to fails. These funds have not helped the American people. For example, the giant banks are still not loaning. They have solely gone into speculative investments and to line the pockets of the muckety-mucks in the form of bonuses. PhD economist Dean Baker said that the true purpose of the bank rescues is “a massive redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top executives”. PhD economist Michael Hudson says that the financial “parasites” have killed the American economy, and they are “sucking as much money out” as they can before “jumping ship”. These are odious debts.

Bush, Cheney, Paulson, Geithner, Summers and others who ordered that these debts be incurred must be held personally liable for them. We the American people are not responsible to creditors – such as China, Saudi Arabia – who have knowingly financed these illegal and oppressive activities which have not benefited the American people, but solely the handful of corrupt politicians who authorized them.