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Global Research Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers the following text of Osama bin Laden’s interview with Ummat, a Pakistani daily, published in Karachi on September 28, 2001. It was translated into English by the BBC World Monitoring Service and made public on September 29, 2001.

The authenticity of this interview remains to be confirmed. It is available in recognized electronic news archives including the BBC. Its authenticity has not been questioned.  

The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.

Osama bin Laden categorically denies his involvement in the 9/11 attacks.  Bin Laden’s statements in this interview are markedly different from those made in the alleged Osama video tapes.

In this interview, Osama bin Laden exhibits an understanding of US foreign policy. He expresses his views regarding the loss of life on 9/11. He focusses on CIA support to the narcotics trade.

He also makes statements as to who, in his opinion, might be the likely perpetrator of  the September 11 attacks.

This is an important text which has not been brought to the attention of Western public opinion.

We have highlighted key sections of this interview.

It is our hope that the text of this interview, published on 28 September 2001 barely a week before the onset of the war on Afghanistan, will contribute to a better understanding of the history of Al Qaeda, the role of Osama bin Laden and the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

This interview is published for informational purposes only. GR does not in any way endorse the statements in this interview.

Michel  Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014


Full text of September 2001 Pakistani paper’s “exclusive” interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin

Ummat (in Urdu)

translated from Urdu

Karachi, 28 September 2001, pp. 1 and 7.

Ummat’s introduction

Kabul: Prominent Arab mojahed holy warrior Usamah Bin-Ladin has said that he or his al-Qa’idah group has nothing to do with the 11 September suicidal attacks in Washington and New York. He said the US government should find the attackers within the country. In an exclusive interview with daily “Ummat”, he said these attacks could be the act of those who are part of the American system and are rebelling against it and working for some other system. Or, Usamah said, this could be the act of those who want to make the current century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. Or, the American Jews, who are opposed to President Bush ever since the Florida elections, might be the masterminds of this act. There is also a great possibility of the involvement of US intelligence agencies, which need billions of dollars worth of funds every year. He said there is a government within the government in the United States.

The secret agencies, he said, should be asked as to who are behind the attacks. Usamah said support for attack on Afghanistan was a matter of need for some Muslim countries and compulsion for others. However, he said, he was thankful to the courageous people of Pakistan who erected a bulwark before the wrong forces. He added that the Islamic world was attaching great expectations with Pakistan and, in time of need, “we will protect this bulwark by sacrificing of lives”.

Following is the interview in full detail:

Ummat: You have been accused of involvement in the attacks in New York and Washington. What do you want to say about this? If you are not involved, who might be?

Usamah [Osama bin Laden]: In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who is the creator of the whole universe and Who made the earth as an abode for peace, for the whole mankind. Allah is the Sustainer, who sent Prophet Muhammad for our guidance. I am thankful to the Ummat Group of Publications, which gave me the opportunity to convey my viewpoint to the people, particularly the valiant and Momin true Muslim people of Pakistan who refused to believe in lie of the demon.

I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people.

Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel.

There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia?

Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims .

The US has no friends, nor does it want to keep any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates.

However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone and after this pledge there is no possibility to become the slave of someone else. If we do that, it will be disregardful to both our Sustainer and his fellow beings. Most of the world nations upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of United States, or the latter itself considers them as its enemies. Or the countries, which do not agree to become its slaves, such as China, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria, and the former Russia as received .

Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.

According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US government has stated. But the Bush administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction. Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.

Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This funding issue was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger.

They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usamah and Taleban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of 40bn dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance.

Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US president, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.

Ummat: A number of world countries have joined the call of the United States for launching an attack on Afghanistan. These also include a number of Muslim countries. Will Al-Qa’idah declare a jihad against these countries as well?

Usamah: I must say that my duty is just to awaken the Muslims; to tell them as to what is good for them and what is not. What does Islam says and what the enemies of Islam want?

Al-Qa’idah was set up to wage a jihad against infidelity, particularly to encounter the onslaught of the infidel countries against the Islamic states. Jihad is the sixth undeclared element of Islam. The first five being the basic holy words of Islam, prayers, fast, pilgrimage to Mecca, and giving alms Every anti-Islamic person is afraid of it. Al-Qa’idah wants to keep this element alive and active and make it part of the daily life of the Muslims. It wants to give it the status of worship. We are not against any Islamic country nor we consider a war against an Islamic country as jihad.

We are in favour of armed jihad only against those infidel countries, which are killing innocent Muslim men, women, and children just because they are Muslims. Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan. The orders of Islamic shari’ah jurisprudence for such individuals, organizations, and countries are clear and all the scholars of the Muslim brotherhood are unanimous on them. We will do the same, which is being ordered by the Amir ol-Momenin the commander of the faithful Mola Omar and the Islamic scholars. The hearts of the people of Muslim countries are beating with the call of jihad. We are grateful to them.

Ummat: The losses caused in the attacks in New York and Washington have proved that giving an economic blow to the US is not too difficult. US experts admit that a few more such attacks can bring down the American economy. Why is al-Qa’idah not targeting their economic pillars?

Usamah: I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom. This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the US is not uttering a single word.

Ummat: Why is harm not caused to the enemies of Islam through other means, apart from the armed struggle? For instance, inciting the Muslims to boycott Western products, banks, shipping lines, and TV channels.

Usamah: The first thing is that Western products could only be boycotted when the Muslim fraternity is fully awakened and organized. Secondly, the Muslim companies should become self-sufficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies. Economic boycott of the West is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out. You see that wealth is scattered all across the Muslim world but not a single TV channel has been acquired which can preach Islamic injunctions according to modern requirements and attain an international influence. Muslim traders and philanthropists should make it a point that if the weapon of public opinion is to be used, it is to be kept in the hand. Today’s world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything that you asked for can be done.

Ummat: The entire propaganda about your struggle has so far been made by the Western media. But no information is being received from your sources about the network of Al-Qa’idah and its jihadi successes. Would you comment?

Usamah: In fact, the Western media is left with nothing else. It has no other theme to survive for a long time. Then we have many other things to do. The struggle for jihad and the successes are for the sake of Allah and not to annoy His bondsmen. Our silence is our real propaganda. Rejections, explanations, or corrigendum only waste your time and through them, the enemy wants you to engage in things which are not of use to you. These things are pulling you away from your cause.

The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.

Ummat: What will the impact of the freeze of al-Qa’idah accounts by the US?

Usamah: God opens up ways for those who work for Him. Freezing of accounts will not make any difference for Al-Qa’idah or other jihad groups. With the grace of Allah, al-Qa’idah has more than three such alternative financial systems, which are all separate and totally independent from each other. This system is operating under the patronage of those who love jihad. What to say of the United States, even the combined world cannot budge these people from their path.

These people are not in hundreds but in thousands and millions. Al-Qa’idah comprises of such modern educated youths who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in their hands. These are the very flaws of the Western fiscal system, which are becoming a noose for it and this system could not recuperate in spite of the passage of so many days.

Ummat: Are there other safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?

Usamah: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Then it is not the problem of my person. I am helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Usamah but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad was still present when there was no Usamah and it will remain as such even when Usamah is no longer there. Allah opens up ways and creates loves in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property, and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the after life. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.

Ummat: What do you say about the Pakistan government policy on Afghanistan attack?

Usamah: We are thankful to the Momin and valiant people of Pakistan who erected a blockade in front of the wrong forces and stood in the first file of battle. Pakistan is a great hope for the Islamic brotherhood. Its people are awakened, organized, and rich in the spirit of faith. They backed Afghanistan in its war against the Soviet Union and extended every help to the mojahedin and the Afghan people. Then these are the same Pakistanis who are standing shoulder by shoulder with the Taleban. If such people emerge in just two countries, the domination of the West will diminish in a matter of days. Our hearts beat with Pakistan and, God forbid, if a difficult time comes we will protect it with our blood. Pakistan is sacred for us like a place of worship. We are the people of jihad and fighting for the defence of Pakistan is the best of all jihads to us. It does not matter for us as to who rules Pakistan. The important thing is that the spirit of jihad is alive and stronger in the hearts of the Pakistani people.

Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001

Read about Osama Bin Laden in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

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November 22nd, 2013 by Global Research News

Today’s Most Popular Stories

October 15th, 2013 by Global Research News

A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:

“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack.”

What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya – providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.

As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar noted a more direct connection between LIFG and AQIM in an Asia Times piece titled, “How al-Qaeda got to rule in Tripoli:”

“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. “

“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.

Image: NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and Al Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”

….

LIFG, which with French arms, cash, and diplomatic support, is now invading northern Syria on behalf of NATO’s attempted regime change there, officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007 according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). According to the CTC, AQIM and LIFG share not only ideological goals, but strategic and even tactical objectives. The weapons LIFG received most certainly made their way into the hands of AQIM on their way through the porous borders of the Sahara Desert and into northern Mali.

In fact, ABC News reported in their article, “Al Qaeda Terror Group: We ‘Benefit From’ Libyan Weapons,” that:

A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.”We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the north Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], told the Mauritanian news agency ANI Wednesday. “As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”

It is no coincidence that as the Libyan conflict was drawing to a conclusion, conflict erupted in northern Mali. It is part of a premeditated geopolitical reordering that began with toppling Libya, and since then, using it as a springboard for invading other targeted nations, including Mali, Algeria, and Syria with heavily armed, NATO-funded and aided terrorists.

French involvement may drive AQIM and its affiliates out of northern Mali, but they are almost sure to end up in Algeria, most likely by design.

Algeria was able to balk subversion during the early phases of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011, but it surely has not escaped the attention of the West who is in the midst of transforming a region stretching from Africa to Beijing and Moscow’s doorsteps – and in a fit of geopolitical schizophrenia – using terrorists both as a casus belli to invade and as an inexhaustible mercenary force to do it.

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December 30th, 2012 by Global Research News

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Salafism and the CIA: Destabilizing the Russian Federation?

September 14th, 2012 by F. William Engdahl

Part I: Syria comes to the Russian Caucasus

On August 28 Sheikh Said Afandi, acknowledged spiritual leader of the Autonomous Russian Republic of Dagestan, was assassinated. A jihadist female suicide bomber managed to enter his house and detonate an explosive device.

The murder target had been carefully selected. Sheikh Afandi, a seventy-five-year old Sufi Muslim leader, had played the critical role in attempting to bring about reconciliation in Dagestan between jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslims and other factions, many of whom in Dagestan see themselves as followers of Sufi. With no replacement of his moral stature and respect visible, authorities fear possible outbreak of religious war in the tiny Russian autonomous republic.[1]

The police reported that the assassin was an ethnic Russian woman who had converted to Islam and was linked to an Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist insurgency against Russia and regional governments loyal to Moscow in the autonomous republics and across the volatile Muslim-populated North Caucasus region.

Ethnic Muslim populations in this region of Russia and of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and into China’s Xinjiang Province, have been the target of various US and NATO intelligence operations since the Cold War era ended in 1990. Washington sees manipulation of Muslim groups as the vehicle to bring uncontrollable chaos to Russia and Central Asia. It’s being carried out by some of the same organizations engaged in creating chaos and destruction inside Syria against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. In a real sense, as Russian security services clearly understand, if they don’t succeed in stopping the Jihadists insurgency in Syria, it will come home to them via the Caucasus.

The latest Salafist murders of Sufi and other moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus are apparently part of what is becoming ever clearer as perhaps the most dangerous US intelligence operation ever—playing globally with Muslim fundamentalism.

Previously US and allied intelligence services had played fast and loose with religious organizations or beliefs in one or another country. What makes the present situation particularly dangerous—notably since the decision in Washington to unleash the misnamed Arab Spring upheavals that began in Tunisia late 2010, spreading like a brushfire across the entire Islamic world from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Morocco—is the incalculable wave upon wave of killing, hatreds, destruction of entire cultures that Washington has unleashed in the name of that elusive dream named “democracy.” They do this using alleged Al-Qaeda groups, Saudi Salafists or Wahhabites, or using disciples of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen Movement to ignite fires of religious hatred within Islam and against other faiths that could take decades to extinguish. It could easily spill over into a new World War.

Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus

Following the dissolution of the USSR, radical Afghanistani Mujahadeen, Islamists from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic countries flooded into the Muslim regions of the former USSR. One of the best-organized of these was the Gülen Movement of Fethullah Gülen, leader of a global network of Islamic schools and reported to be the major policy influence on Turkey’s Erdogan AKP party.

Gülen was quick to establish The International Dagestani-Turkish College in Dagestan. During the chaotic days after the Soviet collapse, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation officially registered and permitted unfettered activity for a variety of Islamic foundations and organizations. These included the League of the Islamic World, the World Muslim Youth Assembly, the reportedly Al-Qaeda friendly Saudi foundation ‘Ibrahim ben Abd al-Aziz al-Ibrahim.’ The blacklist also included Al-Haramein a Saudi foundation reported tied to Al-Qaeda, and IHH, [2] a Turkish organization banned in Germany, that allegedly raised funds for jihadi fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, and was charged by French intelligence of ties to Al Qaeda.[3] Many of these charities were covers for fundamentalist Salafists with their own special agenda.

As many of the foreign Islamists in Chechnya and Dagestan were found involved in fomenting the regional unrest and civil war, Russian authorities withdrew permission of most to run schools and institutions. Throughout the North Caucasus at the time of the Chechyn war in the late 1990’s, there were more than two dozen Islamic institutes, some 200 madrassas and numerous maktabas (Koranic study schools) present at almost all mosques.

The International Dagestani-Turkish College was one that was forced to close its doors in Dagestan. The College was run by the Fethullah Gülen organization.[4]

At the point of the Russian crackdown on the spread of Salafist teaching inside Russia at the end of the 1990’s, there was an exodus of hundreds of young Dagestani and Chechyn Muslim students to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other places in The Middle east, reportedly to receive training with the Gülen movement and various Saudi-financed organizations, including Salafists. [5] It is believed in Russia that the students trained by Gülen supporters or Saudi and other Salafist fundamentalist centers then were sent back to Dagestan and the North Caucasus to spread their radical strain of Islam.

By 2005 the situation in the Caucasus was so influenced by this Salafist intervention that the Chechen Salafist, Doku Umarov, cited by the UN Security Council for links to Al-Qaeda,[6] unilaterally declared creation of what he called the Caucasus Emirate, announcing he planned to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law encompassing the entire North Caucasus region including Dagestan. He modestly proclaimed himself Emir of the Caucasus Emirate. [7]

*  *  *

WWIII Scenario

*  *  *

 

Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition

Salafism, known in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism, is a fundamentalist strain of Islam which drew world attention and became notorious in March 2001 just weeks before the attacks of September 11. That was when the Salafist Taliban government in Afghanistan willfully dynamited and destroyed the historic gigantic Buddhas of Bamiyan on the ancient Silk Road, religious statues dating from the 6th Century. The Taliban Salafist leaders also banned as “un-islamic” all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.

Afghani sources reported that the order to destroy the Buddhas was made by Saudi-born jihadist Wahhabite, Osama bin Laden, who ultimately convinced Mullah Omar, Taliban supreme leader at the time to execute the act.[8]

Before and…After Salafist Taliban …

While Sufis incorporate the worship of saints and theatrical ceremonial prayers into their practice, Salafis condemn as idolatry any non-traditional forms of worship. They also call for the establishment of Islamic political rule and strict Sharia law. Sufism is home to the great spiritual and musical heritage of Islam, said by Islamic scholars to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam, going back centuries.

As one Sufi scholar described the core of Sufism, “While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise–after death and the ‘Final Judgment’– Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness–while one is alive. Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis assert, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.’ Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards God.” [9]

The mystical Islamic current of Sufism and its striving to become close to or one with God is in stark contrast to the Jihadist Salafi or Wahhabi current that is armed with deadly weapons, preaches a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom, committing countless acts of violence. Little wonder that the victims of Salafist Jihads are mostly other pacific forms of Islam including most especially Sufis.

The respected seventy-five year old Afandi had publicly denounced Salafist Islamic fundamentalism. His murder followed a July 19 coordinated attack on two high-ranking muftis in the Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan. Both victims were state-approved religious leaders who had attacked radical Islam. This latest round of murders opens a new front in the Salafist war against Russia, namely attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim leaders.

Whether or not Dagestan now descends into internal religious civil war that then spreads across the geopolitically sensitive Russian Caucasus is not yet certain. What is almost certain is that the same circles who have been feeding violence and terror inside Syria against the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad are behind the killing of Sheikh Afandi as well as sparking related acts of terror or unrest across Russia’s Muslim-populated Caucasus. In a very real sense it represents Russia’s nightmare scenario of “Syria coming to Russia.” It demonstrates dramatically why Putin has made such a determined effort to stop a descent into a murderous hell in Syria.

Salafism and the CIA

The existence of the so-called jihadist Salafi brand of Islam in Dagestan is quite recent. It has also been deliberately imported. Salafism is sometimes also called the name of the older Saudi-centered Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a minority originally-Bedouin form of the faith originating within Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia since the 1700’s.

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism give the following description of Saudi conditions under the rigid Wahhabi brand of Islam:

Women living under Saudi rule must wear the abaya, or total body cloak, and niqab, the face veil; they have limited opportunities for schooling and careers; they are prohibited from driving vehicles; are banned from social contact with men not relatives, and all personal activity must be supervised including opening bank accounts, by a male family member or “guardian.” These Wahhabi rules are enforced by a mutawiyin, or morals militia, also known as “the religious police,” officially designated the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) who patrol Saudi cities, armed with leather-covered sticks which they freely used against those they considered wayward. They raid homes looking for alcohol and drugs, and harassed non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as believers in other faiths.” [10]

It’s widely reported that the obscenely opulent and morally-perhaps-not-entirely-of- the-highest-standards Saudi Royal Family made a Faustian deal with Wahhabite leaders. The deal supposedly, was that the Wahhabists are free to export their fanatical brand of Islam around to the Islamic populations of the world in return for agreeing to leave the Saudi Royals alone.[11] There are, however, other dark and dirty spoons stirring the Wahhabite-Salafist Saudi stew.

Little known is the fact that the present form of aggressive Saudi Wahhabism, in reality a kind of fusion between imported jihadi Salafists from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabites. Leading Salafist members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into the Saudi Kingdom in the 1950’s by the CIA in a complex series of events, when Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following an assassination attempt. By the 1960’s an influx of Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia fleeing Nasserite repression, had filled many of the leading teaching posts in Saudi religious schools. One student there was a young well-to-do Saudi, Osama bin Laden.  [12]

During the Third Reich, Hitler Germany had supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the British in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Marc Erikson describes the Nazi roots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood thus:

…as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and ’40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and “supreme guide” Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.[13]

After the defeat of Germany, British Intelligence moved in to take over control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, for financial and other reasons, the British decided to hand their assets within the Muslim Brotherhood over to their CIA colleagues in the 1950s. [14]

According to former US Justice Department Nazi researcher John Loftus,  “during the 1950s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now, when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Dr Abdullah Azzam, became the teachers in the madrassas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabism.” [15]

“Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not,” Loftus continues. “They think that Islam–the Saudi version of Islam–is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult has been condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. Wahhabism was only practised by the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia–that’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.” [16]

Loftus identified the significance of what today is emerging from the shadows to take over Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and the so-called Syrian National Council, dominated in reality by the Muslim Brotherhood and publicly led by the more “politically correct” or presentable likes of Bassma Kodmani. Kodmani, foreign affairs spokesman for the SNC was twice an invited guest at the Bilderberg elite gathering, latest in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this year.[17]

The most bizarre and alarming feature of the US-financed  regime changes set into motion in 2010, which have led to the destruction of the secular Arab regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the secular regime of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, and which have wreaked savage destruction across the Middle East, especially in the past eighteen months in Syria, is the pattern of emerging power grabs by representatives of the murky Salafist Muslim Brotherhood.

By informed accounts, a Saudi-financed Sunni Islamic Muslim Brotherhood dominates the members of the exile Syrian National Council that is backed by the US State Department’s Secretary Clinton and by Hollande’s France. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is tied, not surprisingly to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi who recently in a meeting of the Non-Aligned in Iran called openly for the removal of Syria’s Assad, a logical step if his Muslim Brothers in the present Syrian National Council are to take the reins of power. The Saudis are also rumored to have financed the ascent to power in Tunisia of the governing Islamist Ennahda Party,[18] and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. [19]

Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror

Indicative of the true agenda of this Muslim Brotherhood and related jihadists today is the fact that once they have power, they drop the veil of moderation and reconciliation and reveal their violently intolerant roots. This is visible in Egypt today under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

Unreported in mainstream Western media to date are alarming direct reports from Christian missionary organizations in Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already begun to drop the veil of “moderation and conciliation” and show its brutal totalitarian Salafist colors, much as Khomeini’s radical Sharia forces did in Iran after taking control in 1979-81.

In a letter distributed by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM), a Christian Egyptian missionary wrote that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood “announced they would destroy the country if Morsi didn’t win, but they also said they will take revenge from all those who voted for [his opponent Ahmed] Shafiq, especially the Christians as they are sure we did vote for Shafiq. Yesterday they began by killing two believers in el Sharqiya because of this,” the missionary added, speaking on condition of anonymity.[20]

This report came only weeks after Egyptian State TV (under Morsi’s control) showed ghastly video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims. The footage showed a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. As one man was heard chanting Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity, another man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat began to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”), according to transcripts. In the letter, the Egyptian missionary leader added that, “soon after Morsi won, Christians in upper Egypt were forcibly prevented from going to churches.” Many Muslims, the letter claimed, “also began to speak to women in the streets that they had to wear Islamic clothing including the head covering. They act as if they got the country for their own, it’s theirs now.” [21]

Already in 2011 Morsi’s Salafist followers began attacking and destroying Sufi mosques across Egypt. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (Today’s Egyptian), 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by so-called ‘Salafis’. Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people. Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi Al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas.[22]

Notably, the so-called “democratically elected” regime in Libya following the toppling of Mohamar Qaddafi by NATO bombs in 2011, has also been zealous in destroying Sufi mosques and places of worhip. In August this year, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed “grave concern” at the destruction by Islamic Jihadists of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to “cease the destruction immediately.” [23] Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. [24]

The explosive cocktail of violence inherent in allowing the rise to power of Salafist Islamists across the Middle East was clear to see, symbolically enough on the night of September 11,th when a mob of angry supporters of the fanatical Salafist group, Ansar Al-Sharia, murdered the US Ambassador to Libya and three US diplomats, burning the US Consulate in Bengazi to the ground in protest over a YouTube release of a film by an American filmmaker showing the Prophet Mohammed indulging in multiple sex affairs and casting doubt on his role as God’s messenger. Ironically that US Ambassador had played a key role in toppling Qaddafi and opening the door to the Salafist takeover in Libya. At the same time angry mobs of thousands of Salafists surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo in protest to the US film. [25]

Ansar Al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic) reportedly is a spinoff of Al-Qaeda and claims organizations across the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Ansar al-Sharia says it is reproducing the model of Sharia or strict Islamic law espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The core of the group are jihadists who came out of an “Islamic state”, either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.[26]

The deliberate detonation now of a new round of Salafist fundamentalist Jihad terror inside Muslim regions of the Russian Caucasus is exquisitely timed politically to put maximum pressure at home on the government of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Putin and the Russian Government are the strongest and most essential backer of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and for Russia as well the maintenance of Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base at Syria’s Tartus port is vital strategically. At the same time, Obama’s sly message to Medvedev to wait until Obama’s re-election to evaluate US intent towards Russia and Putin’s cryptic recent comment that a compromise with a re-elected President Obama might be possible, but not with a President Romney, [27] indicate that the Washington “stick-and-carrot” or hard cop-soft cop tactics with Moscow might tempt Russia to sacrifice major geopolitical alliances, perhaps even that special close and recent geopolitical alliance with China.[28] Were that to happen, the World might witness a “reset” in US-Russian relations with catastrophic consequences for world peace.

F. William Engdahl*  is the author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

Notes:

[1] Dan Peleschuk, Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts, RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012, accessed in

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120830/175517955.html.

[2] Mairbek  Vatchagaev, The Kremlin’s War on Islamic Education in the North Caucasus, North Caucasus Analysis Volume: 7 Issue: 34, accessed in http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=3334

[3] Iason Athanasiadis, Targeted by Israeli raid: Who is the IHH?, The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2010, accessed in http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0601/Targeted-by-Israeli-raid-Who-is-the-IHH.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mairbek Vatchagaev, op. cit.

[6] UN Security Council, QI.U.290.11. DOKU KHAMATOVICH UMAROV, 10 March 2011, accessed in http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI29011E.shtml. The UN statement reads: “Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).”

[7] Tom Jones, Czech NGO rejects Russian reports of link to alleged Islamist terrorists al-Qaeda, May 10, 2011, accessed in http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/news/society/czech-ngo-rejects-russian-reports-link-alleged-islamist-terrorists-al-qaeda?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=enprofil&utm_campaign=twennews.

[8] The Times of India, Laden ordered Bamyan Buddha destruction, The Times of India, March 28, 2006.

[9] Dr. Alan Godlas, Sufism — Sufis — Sufi Orders:

[10] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, Center for Islamic Pluralism, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia

[11] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia.

[12] Robert Duncan, Islamic Terrorisms Links to Nazi Fascism, AINA, July 5, 2007, accessed in http://www.aina.org/news/2007070595517.htm.

[13] Marc Erikson, Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2), AsiaTimes.Online, November 8, 2002, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DK08Ak03.html.

[14] Ibid.

[15] John Loftus, The Muslim Brotherhood, Nazis and Al-Qaeda,  Jewish Community News, October 11, 2006, accessed in http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/loftus101106.htm

[16] Ibid.

[17] Charlie Skelton, The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?: The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look …, London Guardian, 12 July 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking.

[18] Aidan Lewis, Profile: Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, BBC News, 25 October 2011, accessed in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15442859.

[19] Hassan Hassan, Syrians are torn between a despotic regime and a stagnant opposition: The Muslim Brotherhood’s perceived monopoly over the Syrian National Council has created an opposition stalemate, The Guardian, UK, 23 August, 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/syrians-torn-despotic-regime-stagnant-opposition.

[20] Stefan J. Bos, Egypt Christians Killed After Election of Morsi, Bosnewslife, June 30, 2012, accessed in http://www.bosnewslife.com/22304-egypt-christians-killed-after-election-morsi.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Irfan Al-Alawi, Egyptian Muslim Fundamentalists Attack Sufis, Guardian Online [London],

April 11, 2011, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/1770/egyptian-Muslim-fundamentalists-attack-sufis

[23] Yafiah Katherine Randall, UNESCO urges Libya to stop destruction of Sufi sites, August 31, 2012, Sufi News and Sufism World Report, accessed in http://sufinews.blogspot.de/.

[24] Jamie Dettmer, Libya elections: Muslim Brotherhood set to lead government, 5 July, 2012, The Telegraph, London, accessed in http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9379022/Libya-elections-Muslim-Brotherhood-set-to-lead-government.html.

[25] Luke Harding, Chris Stephen, Chris Stevens, US ambassador to Libya, killed in Benghazi attack: Ambassador and three other American embassy staff killed after Islamist militants fired rockets at their car, say Libyan officials, London Guardian, 12 September 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/12/chris-stevens-us-ambassador-libya-killed.

[26] Murad Batal al-Shishani, Profile: Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen, 8 March 2012, accessed in  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17402856.

[27] David M. Herszenhorn, Putin Says Missile Deal Is More Likely With Obama, The New York Times, September 6, 2012, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/world/europe/putin-calls-missile-deal-more-likely-if-obama-wins.html. According to an interview Putin gave on Moscow’s state-owned RT TV, Herszenhorn reports, “Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.

“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama. “For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”

[28] M.K. Bhadrakumar, Calling the China-Russia split isn’t heresy, Asia Times,  September 5, 2012, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/NI05Ad01.html.

 

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Climate, Science and Mother Earth: Second Open Letter to Greta Thunberg

November 12th, 2019 by Prof. Claudia von Werlhof

Claudia von Werlhof and discussion group of the “Planetary Movement for Mother Earth” – Alexandra Danzl, Wolfgang Fischer, Maria Heibel, Thomas A. Mann, Gudrun Sahlender-Wulf, Dietmar Salamon, Thomas Schramm et al.

***

Dear Greta Thunberg,

You have not answered a 1st open letter at the beginning of your steep “career”, which has just culminated in the recognition of the Right Livelihood Award. I nevertheless write a 2nd one. I approached you with sympathy for your awakening and activism, looking at you like a kind of grandmother who would like to give you some advice – to a kind of granddaughter.

It was to give you better information about the real state of Mother Earth, because I noticed that you did not have this knowledge. This time I would rather address you in my quality as a scientist, which I am as well, as I hear that you seek the advice of science, for you seem to trust in your mind. This is good and it is really necessary. However, there are always two kinds of science: one that is responsible for nothing less than the endangered state of Mother Earth herself, and one that is opposing it. I belong to the latter kind. That’s why I used to be an enthusiastic demonstrator and demonstration speaker and at first I was just happy how the youth everywhere reacted to your protest in masses. Finally, a movement emerged and even for Mother Earth! Something more beautiful could not happen to me, especially because I was the founder of the “Planetary Movement for Mother Earth”.

But in the meantime, as a scientist, I see how many aberrations and confusions you and the “Fridays for Future” still have, and I cannot see that they are being recognized by you or the people in the protest movement you inspired. Yes, the real dangers for us and Mother Earth are being suppressed and covered up, namely the ones that really threaten us. But one needs the knowledge about them if one acts the way you do, and in addition shares a certain responsibility for an increasing number of followers. So, you and the “Fridays for Future” movement care about the state of the earth and its causes, but you don’t seem to know very much about it!

On the contrary, you have joined the assertion of international organizations, certain scientists of the first kind at the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as corporations, financial institutions, and people of the financial sector. They say that CO2 is the main, indeed the only problem of the planet, and its very low share of O.04% in the atmosphere (of which only a small part is manmade) is even the reason for a planetary “climate change” as a result. This would ruin the living conditions on earth and would soon take on life-threatening proportions in the form of global warming. Therefore, as decided at the UN Conference in Paris in 2015, action must be taken against it by massively reducing CO2 emissions. In the name of an allegedly “green” New Deal, a “system change” against this “climate change” and its capitalist causes is now to be initiated. This system change would consist of introducing a “sustainable lifestyle” in society, in which the consumption and use of particularly CO2-intensive products would be sharply reduced, or higher taxes would have to be paid. This should allegedly end “climate change” and “save” the earth.

So much for the “logic” of the arguments from above, which you have adopted seamlessly and in a surprisingly well-behaved manner without any contradiction.

What is wrong with that? Quite a lot:

1. Paradoxically, the planned system change by reducing energy consumption is undermined today by the plans for a massive development of the most energy-intensive high-tech dimensions in everyday life, which should lead to the digitization of all areas of life, the project of the corresponding “Smart Cities” and the installation of the necessary electromagnetic radiation at 5G level.  This way of dismantling, but at the same time also reconstructing and rebuilding industrial society, has already become a huge business in which trillions of dollars are at stake (1) and certainly not something “green” which is saving the earth! Indeed, the 5G frequency requires the felling many trees in the cities. So far the 5G-frequency has only been used in the military sector as it is a weapon that will even destroy life on Earth to an unknown extent, starting with insects, birds and babies in the womb and then going on with the elderly, where those in the middle will have to expect severe damages to their health (2).

So, the plans for what the “system change” that you want means, have been developed for some time already. They have nothing to do with the abolition of capitalism and are already being pushed through with full force from above. Consequently, there are several simple questions that have to be answered: What is “sustainable” about this change? Where should the energy for it come from? For whom should it be reserved? Because this energy level cannot be achieved without fossil fuels and with renewable energies only, whereas the fossil fuels are coming to an end anyway, and the renewable ones can only be increased through the additional conversion of agriculture into an energy sector and of forests into palm oil plantations – in other words through massive destruction and hunger production worldwide – not to mention the damages caused by wind turbines, for example, or even by dams for an “alternative” water supply. Is it then a question of expanding nuclear energy in which the military is particularly interested? So, what kind of system change is this, what does it change about the “climate” which is a huge large-scale planetary system, and who gets pushed out?: The 5G victims, large regions of the South, the victims of radioactive contamination and…and and?

Why don’t you say anything about this “system change”, Greta?

But it’s much worse. Because even the CO2 thesis which everything is based on is not correct at all!

2. It is just NOT true that CO2 threatens the earth. Yes, the earth would need at present even more CO2 for its plants and the life in general, because CO2 is an invisible plant gas and no dirt, which comes from chimneys, as is constantly suggested (3), about which however one does not talk at all. CO2 is also not a greenhouse gas insofar as the earth is open to the sky and therefore not a greenhouse. The greenhouse effect cannot occur on a planet. Yes, CO2 ensures that we have oxygen to breathe, because plants convert it into oxygen. So, if CO2 disappears as much as possible from the atmosphere, as you advocate, then we would end up going down by suffocating along with all life on the planet! Thus, there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole argumentation. It stands on feet of clay!

If you believe in science, as you always say, then you should not believe in the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, because it is not a scientific, but a political organization. Thousands of scientists in the world have meanwhile spoken out against it (4), precisely because the IPCC claims that CO2 is to blame for this “climate change”. The scientists who are not committed to the IPCC and its policies defend CO2, as I have just done. Others say that climate change can only result from a change in solar activity. But they cannot determine this for the times in question. The warming of the global average temperature claimed by the IPCC has not even occurred in the last 20 years, says the US space agency NASA. Apart from that, an average temperature for the entire planet is of course an unsuitable, even nonsensical measure, because it depends on the respective measuring stations, which have also been changed, and because it merely levels out huge differences, so that in the end it has no significance at all.

3. What most scientists, however, don’t say is how to interpret the noticeable weather changes that we are all observing. These changes are beyond question but should not be confused with the global climate system, which is long term and comprehensive. The deliberate manipulation of the global climate would be a highly complex undertaking, is probably not possible at all, and certainly not through the use or reduction of a single plant gas like CO2. The global climate is simply of another dimension, incomparable to the local weather. So the question is, where do these weather changes come from, be it in the form of droughts, floods, regional heat or cold waves, storms and severe weather systems that remain in place for a long time, the warming of the Arctic that is significantly above all other temperature changes (at least until 2012), the alleged “forest” fires in California, Australia and Portugal, which destroyed houses to their foundations and melted cars, but left the trees around them mostly intact (5), not to mention the catastrophic jungle fires in the Amazon, Africa and South Asia that are clearly caused by human intervention. Also the massive extinction of animals and plants, e.g. insects, birds, corals and trees as well as the otherwise rapidly increasing loss of species can in no way be explained by CO2! That is completely impossible and simply nonsense. The same applies to the pollution of the air, the soil and the water with not only fine dust, but a nano fine dust of aluminum, strontium, barium, lithium, polymers, coal ash, genetically modified substances, bacteria and many other substances penetrating all organs up to the brain, which have been proven for two and more decades now, among other things by the application of aerosols in the atmosphere, above all in the northern hemisphere. The method of spraying aerosols has a scientific name, it is called SRM, Solar Radiation Management, and is recommended for allegedly blocking solar radiation in favor of lower temperatures on Earth – but in reality it has long been used for quite different purposes, in any case for those that harm all life on Earth up to its extinction and cause many diseases of epidemic proportions (6). And finally, contrary to forecasts, in recent years the ozone layer in the atmosphere has been increasingly destroyed, which has led to harmful UV radiation now reaching the earth unfiltered everywhere in the northern hemisphere and threatening microorganisms in particular. The food chain on land and in the oceans has already been attacked and corals are “starving” (7). So if something doesn’t happen soon to strengthen the ozone layer permanently, i.e. over the next decades, which includes knowing and admitting what it really suffers from – and this is certainly not only the civilian CFC that is supposedly responsible for it, and CO2 has nothing to do with it at all – then we could  soon be threatened ourselves, because agriculture can suddenly break down by being permanently exposed to toxic UV-B- and C- radiation. However, the ozone layer cannot be strengthened by artificially introducing ozone into the stratosphere, but only by ceasing to affect this thin, but absolutely vital layer – as it is, in reality, affected by radioactivity, the heating of the ionosphere, microwaves, air traffic, rocket fuels and supersonic flights, for instance.

The many wars in the world and the irreversible consequences of the widespread use of depleted uranium, a waste material from nuclear plants, for example, are not even mentioned here (8).

You see, you have been denied crucial information about the real situation of the planet, its dangers and their causes, explaining everything with CO2, no matter what it was, and you have simply believed it. To this day, however, you are on your way claiming to have understood the core of the matter and having to present what seems to follow from it. I also understand that at 16 you can’t know everything. But what you and the others need to know if you really want to be a movement conscious of your responsibility for Mother Earth and not against her, that knowledge exists! So get it if you are serious about your movement. Otherwise your credibility will soon be inevitably gone (9). Thus, one will also find out relatively soon whether CO2 reductions have any effects on the “climate” and/or the weather, which of course will not be the case at all, since it is not the cause of the problems.

4. The knowledge unknown to you came about above all because Dr. Rosalie Bertell, whom I recommended to you in my first letter already and who also received the RLA, the Right Livelihood Award, 33 years ago. She worked as a biometrician and environmental scientist for the UN on the history of military technologies in the East and the West since the Second World War. These technologies are the key to answering the question of what is happening or can be done today to make it happen. She mentions especially the damage caused by nuclear interventions, for example the explosion of more than two thousand atomic and hydrogen bombs (!) in the atmosphere and on Earth, which occurred during half a century. She goes on with explaining postnuclear technologies. These are those used for “weather wars, plasma weapons and military geoengineering”, invented during the last 70 years based on the discovery of how to use electromagnetic waves. This technology was developed by the physicist Nikola Tesla and is now increasingly practiced everywhere on the planet, for example by a growing number of installations of the so-called “ionosphere heaters”. However, all this is not publicly admitted! But it is happening, as can be read in the so-called ENMOD Convention of the UN, 1977, the Environmental Modification Convention, or in the report “Weather as a Force Multiplier – Owning the Weather in 2025” of the US Air Force, published in 1996. These technologies have already been discussed twice in the European Parliament, in 1999 and 2013, until the EU Commission banned the EP from dealing with them further in 2016, because they are military questions (!). The military activities that were and are concealed from the public, explain everything we observe in reality and what is generally referred to as “climate change”. This is the result of decades of war against the earth and its transformation into a literal “weapon of war” of the military in the East and the West.

Rosalie Bertell, who came to Germany from the USA in 2010, not long before her death, assisting the 30th anniversary of the Right Livelihood Award, therefore called for a discussion on the topic among her colleagues, who were also award-winners, shouting:

“It is not CO2! It is the military!”

And she hung out a petition, which was signed by all those present. It reads:

 “It is morally reprehensible and a declaration of war on mankind and the earth to intervene in the normal functioning of the planetary order by causing or intensifying storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, monsoons, landslides, droughts, floods, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions!”

So, if you and your movement want to get out of your confusion about the real problems of our planet and the unreflected adoption of the slogans from above, and if you want to approach the truth and do what Mother Earth needs now, namely our solidarity because of what is done to her all the time, then take care that you know what it is all about and fight against it. For that is what determines our future, and not CO2, which belongs to nature and which you instead portray as its enemy!

Why all this is so twisted, why you are denied the true knowledge and what the CO2 propaganda is about, all this you will have to find out for and by yourself. Because there are those interests behind, against which you supposedly compete with your movement. These interests are the ones that finance and organize everything worldwide on a large scale: Your weekly Fridays for Future-Demos, the “doomsday parties” as I call them, together with the “Die-ins”, an anticipated dying practice – don’t you realize what a perversion this is? They are the ones who produce and provide your regional offices worldwide, who organize the big spectacles, for example with famous pianists, the movies, videos, media work, propaganda material and all that – do they do it, because they like you so much?

5. These interests need you and need you to draw the youth and especially the women to their side! For women have always addressed the subject of nature and ecology more than men, simply because they are historically and physically more connected to them. This is now being exploited by you being the ones to represent the new plans and interests of big Capital, to promote them and to ensure the implementation of their goals. It is you who are supposed to propagate a kind of “cultural revolution” so that the current growth- and energy-crisis of capitalism can be overcome, an additional business model can be built up, and the new start of the system can take place profitably and on a technologically more modern, more efficient, but also narrower (!) basis – of course leaving behind a pile of shattered remains in the form of the “old” society, which must first be smashed and destroyed! How else could that work, namely without you, and thus without provoking the uprising – and this time one for a truly anti-capitalist society for all? So, your role is to spare them such a true upheaval!

Why are you helping them?

It is wonderful that the young people are enthusiastic about Mother Earth. I have waited a long time for this to occur. But strangely enough, what you are doing now is not a blessing for Mother Earth, but her mockery! What you have done so far is the reverse of what is needed. It is indeed its reversal.

Don’t you notice at all, Greta and the people inspired by her, what you have gotten yourself into?

You will be very disappointed to see which interests you are really serving, namely those who are responsible for the state of the earth you are complaining about while believing to be a power for the good. Don’t let yourself be incited against the generation that raised you and against the generation that you yourself could raise, because they allegedly leave a “carbon footprint” that should be avoided at all costs. This would mean to accuse life itself instead of accusing those who destroy it!

But now you can perhaps also explain to yourselves the discomfort which you may already feel because of these confusions. Your face, Greta, shows it anyway.

So, don´t let yourself be abused any longer for the opposite of what you want to stand up for, by people who have everything but the good of Mother Earth in mind, and even work on her destruction! It would have been a gigantic mistake, a futile effort and a loss of time that we all desperately need to really stand up for our planet. The clock is ticking, but not for the reduction of CO2!

Conclusion:

You, Greta, and all those who are moving on with you, have missed the point and unwittingly told the world a lie. You want to enforce a policy that benefits neither the earth nor its weather or climate, but the future and the profits of certain investors and corporations, as well as the demolition of social structures and existences that no longer bring any profits. Finally, you have distracted attention from the destructions that have been increasingly perpetrated on the earth for decades and that are being added to those already known, being the ones committed by the military – on the ground, in the water and in the air, and more recently also from space. This way you are preventing the accompanying, now increasingly massive dangers for life on earth and the earth herself from finally being seen, recognized and answered at all.

You’re doing Earth a disservice. But there is still time to turn around and understand and address the real problems instead of the fake ones!

I fear, however, that “they” will not allow it.

Prof. Dr. Claudia von Werlhof, Planetary Movement for Mother Earth, Austria

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The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) was appalled to learn of the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on September 19, 2019, titled “Importance of European Remembrance Day for the Future of Europe.“

This resolution reinforces the declaration of September 23, 2008, in which the European Parliament asserted that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were equally responsible for the crimes of the Second World War.

When the European Parliament adopted the 2008 resolution, there was strong criticism of its false equivalence between the Soviet defense against the invasion by the Nazi Army and the crimes of the Nazis. That became a false equivalence between communism and fascism.

As the European Parliament now declares that signing the Soviet-German nonaggression pact of August 23, 1939, “ which paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War“ and “as a direct consequence“ of “the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,“ the distortion continues.

The new resolution ignores the fact that the war had long been planned by Hitler and it also omits the fact that Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov had strongly endeavored to build a defensive alliance with Western powers against the feared attack of German fascism. The resolution omits any mention of the Munich Agreement, in which, on September 30, 1938, Great Britain, France and Italy, despite their mutual assistance pacts with Czechoslovakia, permitted Hitler to annex Czechoslovakia, thus confirming the danger of the fascist threat.

The resolution is replete with false assertions and insinuations. For example, it claims that “Russian authorities are currently promoting that Poland, the Baltic States and the West are the true instigators of WWII.“ Its critique of the Soviet historiography of Poland, the Baltic States and the Western powers refusing to contribute to an antifascist security system is justified. But nowhere does the resolution say that these states were also responsible for the outbreak of the war. This distortion of history ironically relieves only the fascist aggressors.

The resolution’s reference to the Nuremberg trials, “to conduct legal inquiries into the crimes of Stalinism and other dictatorships,“ is a false description of the military tribunals that held Nazi leaders accountable for most atrocious crimes. Indeed, the Soviet Union – as the state most victimized by this war of extermination – actively contributed to the development of the Nuremberg Principles.

If the European Parliament now advocates convening trials to prosecute the alleged crimes of the Soviet Union, it would be an insult to the greatest achievements of international law in the immediate post-war period. It would deny the extraordinary contribution and the greatest sacrifice of the Soviet Union to free the world from German fascism. It is an inadequate attempt to revise history, and would compound the anti-Russia objective of this resolution.

The resolution uses the observance of Remembrance Day to attack Russia directly, as it “maintains that Russia is the greatest victim of communist totalitarianism and development into a democratic state will be impeded as long as the government, the political elite and the political propaganda continue to whitewash communist crimes and glorify the Soviet totalitarian regime.“

The European Parliament “is deeply concerned about the efforts of the current Russian leadership to distort historical facts and whitewash crimes committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime.“ But the falsification of historical facts was accomplished by the authors of this resolution. When the European Parliament declares at the same time that it advocates “building European resilience against to modern external threats,“ it harkens back to the rhetoric of the Cold War.

The resolution contradicts its stated purpose to form the basis for reconciliation through truth and memory.  On the contrary, it creates division by re-writing history. It must be noted that fascism, despite the varying forms it takes in different locations and times, reflects corporate control of the state, while communism aims at worker control; this fundamental opposition is further obscured by this resolution.

The resolution is particularly dangerous because the Parliament “calls on the Commission to provide effective support for projects of historic memory and remembrance“ and “support commemoration and remembrance of the victims of totalitarianism“ and “including the history and analysis of the consequences of totalitarian regimes in the curricula and textbooks of all schools in the EU.“ Thus, it advocates rewriting the history of World War II and makes historic revisionism the basis of its memory politics.

IADL is dismayed that this declaration has garnered so much approval and so few opposition votes in the Parliament. The task of the European Parliament is to fight the growing forces of right-wing extremism, neofascism, antisemitism and anticommunism everywhere, and to support democratic and social movements instead of widening the gap between the European Union and the rest of Europe.

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Incinerating Logic: Bush Fires and Climate Change in Australia

November 12th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Despite the Internet, connectivity, and linking technologies, distance has not shrunk the Australian sense of self, an often provincial appraisal of the world seen in slow motion and stills.  Whether it’s the “flower revolution” or Michel Foucault, trends and ideas are often delayed, and seem almost cutely anachronistic by the time they make landfall down under.  Wedded to the insatiable urge to reap, rent and remove from the earth, and you have the ultimate myopic: Australia, the exceptional country, outside the stream of history and, dare it be said, the inconveniences of science.

With some 11,000 scientists warning that planet Earth “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency”, some sense of it was registered on the Australian political scene, if only barely.  The “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” published in BioScience does not shy away from the language of catastrophe and emergency.  “Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations… we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament.”  Climate change had not merely arrived but bulldozed itself into recognition, “accelerating faster than many scientists expected.”

The authors and signatories suggest that, “An immense increase of scale in endeavours to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.”  Public debates on the subject of climate change had mostly focused on global surface temperature, a clearly inadequate approach that avoids “the breath of human activities and the real dangers stemming from a warming planet.”

Areas of urgent redress were also suggested.  Energy efficiency and a reduction in the use of fossil fuels are high on the list.  “We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly.”  The call for a change of language is encouraged: rhetoric of GDP growth and affluence needs to be replaced by sustainability “and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.”  Not exactly music for the muscular fossil fuel lobby.

Another song sheet that would not have impressed the fossil fuel industries was an event that barely disturbed the press releases.  This month, the National Electricity Market in Australia received a contribution from wind, solar and hydro energy amounting to half of the total energy production.  Rooftop solar contributions came in at 23.7 percent, with wind (15.7 percent), large-scale solar (8.8 percent) and hydro (1.9 percent) bringing up the rear.

With the release of the report, Australia braced itself for the incinerating fury of bush fires that have arrived earlier this season.  The state of New South Wales is anticipating what the Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons describes as “the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen”.

The warnings were already pressing through the policy pipeline in the last decade.  The National Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management’s 2004 report to the Council of Australian Government warned that, “Fires’ frequency, intensity and size are expected to increase under climate change as temperatures rise, rainfall variability increases, droughts become more severe and ecosystem dynamics alter, resulting in changed biomass fuel loads and types.”

The authors of the report go on to suggest that “projected hotter, drier and windier conditions associated with climate change caused by greenhouse warming would extend the period of fuel drying and increase rates of fire spread.”

Earlier this year, former NSW Fires Chief Greg Mullins and 22 other emergency honchos warned Prime Minister Morrison of the dangers that would face Australia this summer, suggesting that the government meet to discuss some form of action against risks of conflagration.  The meeting has yet to take place, leaving such politicians as Adam Bandt, the Greens MP for Melbourne, certain that Morrison “bears some responsibility and must apologise to the communities impacted”.

Various Australian politicians, as then, were having none of it.  Charged with the task of keeping a plunderer’s lifestyle in perpetuity, the well-fed pigs in clover, the following words of the BioScience report sit uncomfortably with members of the Morrison government.  “The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle.  The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions.”

The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack preferred some tea and sympathy in responding to the victims of the fires, not policy and prognosis.  “They don’t need the ravings of some pure enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they are trying to save their homes.”

McCormack’s primary target was the Green party itself, which he accused of fiddling politically while Australia burned.  “That’s what Adam Bandt, and the Greens, and Richard Di Natale, and all those other inner-city raving lunatics – and quite frankly, that’s how he was carrying on yesterday – that’s what they want, we’re not going to go down that path.”

Other politicians have adopted a similar approach: the now is what matters, and never mind previous failings and future disasters.  NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian provided the stellar example.  “For any of us on the ground, speaking to people traumatised, speaking to people fighting fires for weeks… know exactly what the priorities should be, and that is saving life and property”.  Climate change, in other words, was something for another day, another slot in the packed meeting schedule.

Morrison reiterated the position.  He was “focused on the needs of the people”.  He spoke of having “firefighters out there saving someone else’s house while their own house is burning down, and when we are in that sort of situation, that is where attention must be.”

Mayors from the areas most affected by the recent conflagration have been crankily unimpressed by the platitudes.  Climate change literature, they surmise, is being assiduously avoided by the government.  The unfortunately named Carol Sparks, Mayor of Glen Innes, site of two deaths over the weekend, suggested that McCormack needed “to read the science, and that is what I am going by, is the science.” Forget, suggested the mayor, the politics here.  Science had imposed its cold, objective hand on the matter.  Mid Coast Mayor Claire Pontin was similarly riled, notably by suggestions that fires were the staple of Australian life and landscape.  “We’ve not had situations like that. Fifty years ago, this would never happen.”

There are few incentives for humanity to adapt than through the infliction of catastrophic conditions.  Pandemics, world wars and existential risk have done their bit in propelling change.  But luxury produces complacency; well fed bellies induce sloth.  Come the writing of humanity’s extensive biography of preying on the planet, Australia and its political classes will have much to answer for.

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

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US Is the Source of, Not “Solution” to Syrian War

November 12th, 2019 by Tony Cartalucci

After the supposed US “withdrawal” from Syria – Western media outlets have causally reported on US troops now preparing to occupy Syria’s oilfields east of the Euphrates River.

Articles include carefully selected “experts” who avoid any mention of how illegal or indefensible the presence of US forces in Syria is to begin with, let alone any mention of “why” US troops are preparing to “claim” Syria’s natural resources.

The Guardian in its piece, “US plans to send tanks to Syria oil fields, reversing Trump troop withdrawal – reports,” illustrates a voluntary dereliction of due diligence in investigating or questioning Western actions in Syria.

One is left to assume what the US would claim as its excuse for remaining in Syria – likely based on a narrative of denying terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) and their affiliates access to resources to “fund” their return to the region.

The most obvious and sustainable solution would be to transfer control of Syria’s oilfields to Syria itself. Syria has overcome terrorist organizations in all areas Damascus has now restored order to, and with the restoration of its oilfields and related industries, would be in an even better position to both rebuild the nation and defend against the very elements who destroyed it in the first place.

But this assumes that the US is interested in preventing the resurgence of terrorist organizations in the region – ignoring the fact that the US deliberately created them in the first place and deliberately used them to both trigger, then fuel the Syrian war from its very beginning in 2011.

The US is the Source of Syria’s War 

As early as 2007, real journalists warned of US plans to bolster opposition groups linked to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda in a bid to undermine Iran and its ally Syria.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” would provide an ominous, but crystal-clear warning of what awaited both Syria and the wider region.

Hersh would warn:

The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

The article would mention the Muslim Brotherhood by name and described specific US support under what was then the Bush administration already being funnelled to the group in Syria.

The Brotherhood is an extremist front with direct ties to Al Qaeda and who were at the epicenter of the supposed “Arab Spring” in 2011. From 2011 onward – then under the Obama administration – US support continued in the form of both financial and military aid.

Articles like the New York Time’s, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” would admit to billions of dollars worth of arms from the US flowing into Syria to fuel the destructive war.

Despite Western media claims that the Syrian conflict was being fought between the government and “moderate rebels,” the US State Department itself admitted that within the first year of fighting, Al Qaeda had already established a dominate position on the battlefield.

In an official statement on the State Department’s own website designating Al Qaeda affiliate – al-Nusra – a foreign terrorist organization, it was admitted:

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

If the US and its allies were providing billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment to “moderate rebels,” who provided al-Nusra with even more weapons and equipment enabling it to dominate the battlefield?

The US – as it has done in virtually all other wars of aggression abroad – simply lied about the nature of those it was arming – having from the beginning and just as journalists like Seymour Hersh warned – deliberately armed and aided extremists to wage a proxy war of regime change against Syria.

Arsonists, Not Firefighters 

Nothing the US has done in regards to Syria has amounted to genuine efforts to end the conflict. Throughout the conflict the US continued to adjust its war propaganda to justify first its invasion and occupation of eastern Syria to “fight ISIS” – then to incrementally move toward justifying a direct US military intervention against the Syrian government itself with troops “serendipitously” already staged inside Syrian territory.

From 2015 onward in the wake of Russia’s intervention – direct US military intervention was taken off the table and the US occupation confined to eastern Syria where its unsustainable narrative regarding a Syrian “Kurdistan” withered.

Today – we find a US still attempting to justify its illegal and indefensible occupation of Syrian territory. Syria and its allies have attempted to provide Washington with a host of face-saving opportunities to withdraw and allow the conflict to finally end – returning peace and stability to the nation of Syria and its people.

The US continues to pose as part of a “solution” to the very Syrian crisis journalists like Seymour Hersh as early as 2007 revealed the US had deliberately engineered.

Just as an unrepentant arsonist would not be involved in efforts to extinguish the fire they started – the US cannot be involved in efforts to resolve a conflict it itself started – nor is the US at this point demonstrating any genuine desire to end the conflict.

Squatting on Syrian oilfields is yet another intentional tactic being used to draw the Syrian war out even longer – impeding the Syrian state’s access to its own resources needed to fuel the country and fund reconstruction.

Far from firefighters, the US is an unrepentant arsonist blocking firefighters from doing their job. US foreign policy has become so overtly malign that the Western media is unable to even address basic questions such as “why” the US is remaining in Syria – and doing so amid Syria’s oilfields.

Just as has been the case throughout the Syrian war, US machinations will be defeated by Syria and its allies patiently creating conditions on the ground in which current US policies are no longer tenable forcing Washington to fall back further still.

In the meantime, continued efforts to expose the truth of this war’s genesis and to prevent those who were responsible for it from attempting to prolong it further by posing as “peacemakers” and “protectors” is essential. If the US wants to pose as “peacemakers” and “protectors,” Syria and its allies may allow them to do so only to save face amid their total and otherwise unconditional departure from Syria.

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Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from InfoRos

When the New York Federal Reserve began pumping billions of dollars a day into the repurchasing (repo) markets (the market banks use to make short-term loans to each other) in September, they said this would only be necessary for a few weeks. Yet, last Wednesday, almost two months after the Fed’s initial intervention, the New York Federal Reserve pumped 62.5 billion dollars into the repo market.

The New York Fed continues these emergency interventions to ensure “cash shortages” among banks don’t ever again cause interest rates for overnight loans to rise to over 10 percent, well above the Fed’s target rate.

The Federal Reserve’s bailout operations have increased its balance sheet by over 200 billion dollars since September. Investment advisor Michael Pento describes the Fed’s recent actions as Quantitative Easing (QE) “on steroids.”

One cause of the repo market’s sudden cash shortage was the large amount of debt instruments issued by the Treasury Department in late summer and early fall. Banks used resources they would normally devote to private sector lending and overnight loans to purchase these Treasury securities. This scenario will likely keep recurring as the Treasury Department will have to continue issuing new debt instruments to finance continuing increases in in government spending.

Even though the federal deficit is already over one trillion dollars (and growing), President Trump and Congress have no interest in cutting spending, especially in an election year. Should he win reelection, President Trump is unlikely to reverse course and champion fiscal restraint. Instead, he will likely take his victory as a sign that the people support big federal budgets and huge deficits. None of the leading Democratic candidates are even pretending to care about the deficit. Instead they are proposing increasing spending by trillions on new government programs.

Joseph Zidle, a strategist with the Blackstone investment firm, has called the government — or “sovereign” — debt bubble the “mother of all bubbles.” When the sovereign debt bubble inevitably busts, it will cause a meltdown bigger than the 2008 crash.

US consumer debt — which includes credit cards, student loans, auto loans, and mortgages — now totals over 14 trillion dollars. This massive government and private debts put tremendous pressure on the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low or even to “experiment” with negative rates. But, the Fed can only keep interest rates, which are the price of money, artificially low for so long without serious economic consequences.

According to Michael Pento, the Fed is panicking in an effort to prevent economic trouble much worse than occurred in 2008. “It’s not just QE,” says Pento, “it’s QE on steroids because everybody knows that this QE is permanent just like any banana republic would do, or has done in the past.”

Congress will not cut spending until either a critical mass of Americans demand they do so, or there is a major economic crisis. In the event of a crisis, Congress will try to avoid directly cutting spending, instead letting the Federal Reserve do its dirty work via currency depreciation. This will deepen the crisis and increase support for authoritarian demagogues. The only way to avoid this is for those of us who know the truth to spread the message of, and grow the movement for, peace, free markets, limited government, and sound money.

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‘The most important election of our lifetimes’ said Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon about the upcoming UK general election as she launched the Scottish National Party’s campaign last Friday. The message from Sturgeon was to vote SNP to avoid Brexit, saying that her party alone would protect Scottish interests and work to ensure that the country is not taken out of the EU against its will.

She warned that the withdrawal agreement secured by Boris Johnson last month was in fact inadequate as it only covers the terms of leaving the EU but says nothing about Britain’s future relationship with Europe. Forecasting ‘many years of wrangling ahead’ she said Johnson was still intent on a No Deal Brexit which was still a likely outcome of negotiations in a year’s time.

The importance of this election is also being reflected in the rhetoric of politicians at present, with Nicola Sturgeon not hesitating to brand Conservative politicians as ‘hard-line Brexit ultras’, evoking images of far-right thugs. She also attacked Labour and the Liberal Democrats by suggesting that Scotland would never be a priority for either party. The Liberal Democrats for their part do pose a threat to the Nationalists with their Remain platform and Nicola Sturgeon was out canvassing in leader Jo Swinson’s constituency at the weekend in a bid to try to unseat her. Jo Swinson, whose party supports the Union, has continued to hit back at the SNP for their ‘obsession with independence.’

The most important take-away from Sturgeon’s speech was however her proposition that the SNP could feasibly do a deal with Labour to ‘lock Boris Johnson out of parliament’ if December’s election resulted in a hung parliament. But in return for this she would expect Jeremy Corbyn to agree to another referendum on Scottish independence in 2020. And there’s no indication yet that he would do so. Labour is a Unionist party, and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard asserted on Sunday:

‘There will be no independence referendum in Scotland for years. Scotland won’t want one if we win an election.’

Indeed not everyone is convinced that the SNP will take Scotland on the right path. Brian Wilson, a former Labour politician argues that Sturgeon will be ‘demonising a million Scots’ who voted to Leave the EU in the Brexit referendum if she continues to oppose Brexit. Arguably, 38 percent of Scots did vote to Leave in 2016, amongst whom there were undoubtedly SNP voters. However Sturgeon will continue to insist that she has the mandate of the Scottish people in pursuing her agenda to keep Scotland in the European Union.

The SNP are a force to be reckoned with in Scotland. They have been in government since 2007 and although they are currently ruling as a minority government in the Scottish parliament, they now hold 35 MPs at Westminster, more than a third of the overall number representing Scotland. Even voters not supportive of independence continue to vote SNP for their policies. In many ways their proposals of greater equality, ending austerity and creating a national living wage somewhat overlap with Labour policies in a country which traditionally has socialist leanings. This together with a popular anti-Brexit stance and talk of ending Scotland’s nuclear capability by shutting down the Trident nuclear base all makes them popular with voters who may otherwise have voted Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green.

Ironically Sturgeon has not had to make much effort to paint the Conservatives in a negative light; they have accomplished this themselves in the last few years. Boris Johnson himself is extremely unpopular north of the border – as a former Etonian he is seen to represent an arrogant elite detached from the concerns of the ordinary Scottish working population. He only confirmed this view when up visiting Scotland in the summer – when he avoided locals by exiting the First Minister’s residence via the back door, thereby earning the name of ‘backdoor Boris’. But even prior to his time in office, under May’s government it was clear that the concerns of Scotland were not to be reflected in any EU withdrawal agreement. As Sturgeon emphasised in her speech on Friday: England voted to leave and will leave, Wales voted to leave and will leave, Northern Ireland will get a special deal, but there is nothing for Scotland, the one country that didn’t want to leave the EU.

Polls have indicated that support for Scottish independence is greater than ever – now at 50 percent. Brexit has played a crucial role in this and will continue to do so. But Scottish independence will throw up its own set of problems, and it’s not clear yet whether, in the midst of all this Brexit uncertainty, Scotland is ready to take on its own set of challenges which becoming independent would undoubtedly create…

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Johanna Ross is a journalist.

The coup in Bolivia does not come out of the blue and bears the fingerprints of the US. It is the revenge of the upper class with a strong racist undertone. There is a real possibility that the country is heading for a bloodbath.

“Why has there never been a coup d’état in the United States? Because there is no American embassy there”. – Classic joke in Latin America

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On Sunday 10 November, there was a coup d’état in Bolivia. The army forced the newly elected President Evo Morales to resign. At this moment violence is escalating in the streets. Armed opposition gangs attack militants and leaders of Evo Morales’ Socialism Movement (MAS). They are intimidating journalists, burning homes of MAS members, including Evo’s sister. In some places, anyone who looks indigenous is physically attacked. Indigenous women are stripped and molested. Several people have already got killed.

Revenge on the pink tide

This coup is not entirely unexpected. It is the umpteenth coup or attempted coup in Latin America since the beginning of this century: Venezuela in 2002, Haiti in 2004, Bolivia in 2008, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010, Paraguay in 2012, again Venezuela from 2013, Brazil in 2016 and Nicaragua in 2018.

Those coups were and are a reaction to the so-called ‘pink tide’ in Latin America. In the 1980s and 1990s, neoliberal policies caused an actual bloodbath in the region. The number of poor people had risen by a third. The population did not accept this and chose left-wing presidents in one country after another.

Those left-wing presidents set up poverty programmes and curbed and scaled back neoliberal policies. They also formed a front to reduce the US hold on the continent.

Of course, the elite in those countries and the US Government didn’t appreciate the pink tide. Every effort was made to get rid of these left-wing presidents. At first by means of elections. For the elite, bourgeois elections are normally a ‘home game’: they call the tune of the traditional parties, they are able to invest a lot of financial resources for influencing the outcome, they control the media or manipulate the social media, and they threaten chaos or economic disaster if the people would vote for the left.

Color revolutions and ‘civil’ coups …

That electoral recipe worked for a long time until Hugo Chávez was elected president in Venezuela in 1998. Since then, the electoral struggle in many countries has no longer been favourable to the elite and to the interests of the US. That is why different strategies were adopted: a colour revolution, another form of ‘civil’ or ‘constitutional’ coup d’état, or a combination of both. Of course, for the sole purpose of putting an end to the left-wing president. With the support of the media they control, these camouflaged coups are framed as spontaneous popular uprisings or legitimate constitutional interventions.

This tactic is not really new, although nowadays military force is not so easily and openly resorted to anymore. From the 1950s until the 1980s, the continent was still ravaged by military coups. The most notorious is that of Chile in 1973. Pinochet’s neofascist coup put an end to Salvador Allende’s progressive government and created the ideal conditions for a neoliberal policy: the elimination of all social resistance. Neofascism indeed rhymes with neoliberalism. Chile’s military dictatorship became the first testing ground for the neoliberal crusaders. Bolivia, which until the early 1980s was a military dictatorship, became the second laboratory, with all the known social consequences.

… with the support of the USA

Latin America has been the backyard of the US for two hundred years. The North Americans have big economic interests there, and to protect those they keep about eighty military bases in the region.

The US diplomatic staff in Bolivia has a reputation of stirring up trouble and interfering in the country’s internal affairs. Shortly after a meeting between the then highest diplomat of the US and a ‘journalist’, who had been the head of the intelligence service in a former life, a real scandal broke out about president Morales. Everything turned out to be based on fake news, but it did lead to the narrow defeat of Evo Morales in the 2016 referendum.

Carlos Mesa, Evo Morales’ right-wing opposing candidate in the last elections, has had contact in the recent past with several senior US officials and parliamentarians. At the end of July 2018, he already announced that a re-election of Evo Morales would lead “to a situation we do not want: violence”. This indicates that the current coup was well prepared.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) also played a decisive role in this coup d’état. The OAS was set up by the US in 1948 in order to bring the countries of Latin America into line with Washington. It refused to recognise the Bolivian election results. In this way, it has exerted strong pressure on the government and given an excuse to the army to demand the resignation of President Morales.

Economic interests

Bolivia perfectly fits in the list of countries mentioned above. In all these countries the social situation usually improved spectacularly. Also in Bolivia. Under the government of Evo Morales, real wages increased by 60 percent and extreme poverty decreased by 60 percent. This social policy was only made possible by nationalising a number of key sectors of the economy. For the elite, this was unforgivable.

Important in this respect is the plan of Evo Morales not only to mine lithium but also to process it into batteries. Lithium is a very important raw material for the new economy and is used in the production of electric cars, airplanes, batteries, mobile phones and even medicines. Bolivia may have the largest lithium reserves in the world. The global elite does not accept that this strategic raw material is in left-wing hands.

The indigenous factor

But in Bolivia there is another factor: the indigenous question. Although the indigenous population makes up the majority of the country, Evo Morales was the first indigenous president. What’s more, he has granted important rights to the indigenous population, who until then had been treated as second-class citizens. Morales has greatly improved their social situation. The mostly white and often outspoken racist elite has never been able to swallow this. With this coup d’état, they are now retaliating. It is no coincidence that actual violence is explicitly aimed at the indigenous population.

The elite wants to use this coup d’état to turn back the clock. The elected representatives and supporters of MAS are terrorized. President Evo Morales, who dared to touch their privileges and possessions, must be politically or physically eliminated. There is a real possibility that the country is heading for a bloodbath.

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The Hybrid War on Bolivia isn’t over by a long shot, but it did in fact succeed in its most immediate aim of carrying out regime change against democratically re-elected and legitimate President Morales, so it’s important to review how this happened in the hope that other countries can better prepare themselves for responding to asymmetrical warfare campaigns such as this one if they’re ever targeted in the future.

Morales Will Make It To Mexico

The news that (“former”) President Morales will be flying to Mexico after being granted political asylum there was met with relief by his many supporters all across the world who were worried that the newly imposed pro-US coup authorities in his homeland were planning to execute him just like they did Che Guevaro a little more than half a century ago. The Bolivian leader pledged on Twitter to one day return to his people, but it doesn’t appear likely that that’ll happen anytime soon. The military and their “opposition” allies are entrenching their control over the country, so now is a good time to review how the Hybrid War on Bolivia succeeded in its most immediate aim of carrying out regime change against the country’s democratically re-elected and legitimate president, as well as the means that it’s relying upon to remain in power, which will hopefully help other countries better prepare themselves for responding to asymmetrical warfare campaigns such as this one if they’re ever targeted in the future.

Preconditioning The Population

President Morales had always been a thorn in the US’ side, but the die was cast for carrying out regime change against him the moment that he announced a referendum for changing the constitution to enable himself to run for a fourth term in office. The February 2016 referendum narrowly failed, but it’s believed that this was because of scandalous revelations that were publicized earlier that same month about him supposedly bestowing favors upon a former lover who secretly gave birth to his son. She was later arrested and found guilty of corruption in a case that absolved President Morales of any wrongdoing, but the perception management damage was already done because the scandal succeeded in narrowly turning the electorate against him at the time and denying him the right to run for a fourth term. Because of the timing of that controversy and the effect that it’s believed to have had on influencing the result of the referendum, it can be concluded that it was likely a case of so-called “direct action” by US intelligence to “passively” prevent his future re-election.

The Supreme Electoral Court eventually overturned the electoral outcome in December 2018 and therefore allowed President Morales to run during the latest elections last month, which inadvertently served as the “trigger” for “justifying” the US’ forthcoming Color Revolution against him immediately after the vote. The population was already more polarized than at any previous time during his presidency, and it didn’t help any that the results were delayed by approximately 24 hours before confirming that he avoided a second round of elections by a razor-thin margin of slightly more than 10% more votes than his closest opponent. With broad segments of the population already believing that their vote was “stolen” after the referendum was overturned by the courts, this coincidental and totally unforeseeable event was the catalyst needed for them to take to the streets in protest and transition the US-backed regime change plot against President Morales to its next phase of a nascent Color Revolution.

Hybrid War Havoc

It’s now known that “opposition” leaders were conspiring with the US to overthrow the government after Sputnik reported on leaked audio conversations that confirmed this. Per the dynamics of Hybrid War, the majority of participants in the increasingly violent “protests” more than likely weren’t “in on it” but knew in their own minds what their actions were intended to achieve, going with the flow as so-called “fellow travelers” in order to provide the critical mass that their leaders needed to make their movement worthy of global media attention. With international pressure piling upon him, President Morales somewhat naively submitted to calls for a supposedly “impartial” audit of the vote by requesting the US-backed OAS’ assistance in this respect, likely wagering that it would both buy him time to prepare for his next step and also show the world that he has nothing to hide by doing this. What he hadn’t realized, however, was that US intelligence had already successfully co-opted his police and military forces and were simply waiting for the most decisive moment to carry out their preplanned coup.

The subsequent two weeks saw increasingly violent “protests” that objectively transformed into all-out riots breaking out in different parts of the country, during which time President Morales should have realized that the security services were no longer on his side since they weren’t performing their constitutional duty in restoring law and order. The weekend before the OAS’ preliminary “recommendation” was published saw the worst violence in recent memory intended to send President Morales the signal that he’d eventually have to step down or else. An allied mayor was lynched in the street, rioters seized the state media buildings in the capital, the homes of President Morales’ sister and two of his governors were torched, and reports began streaming in that his officials’ family members were being threatened unless their civil servant relative resigned. Even then, however, President Morales held his ground and went along with the OAS’ “recommendation” that he redo the latest elections, but then the military announced that they were commencing operations against what were obviously his supporters just before “advising” that he resign shortly thereafter, which he did.

“Bolivia’s Kristallnacht”

The night that the regime change operation was completed can only be described as “Bolivia’s Kristallnacht” because the coup’s collaborators ran wild throughout the capital (ironically named La Paz, or “peace”) attacking President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters and burning down their businesses in an orgy of violence meant to intimate them into leaving the urban regions that they migrated to in recent years for the rural countryside where some of the mestizos believe that they “belong”. They also attacked the Venezuelan Embassy, too. The pogrom didn’t succeed because the indigenous communities fought back, though their justified resistance was predictably misportrayed by the Mainstream Media as them being the ones responsible for the violence instead of the victims that they truly were, which President Morales drew attention to in one of his tweets while on the run. Unsurprisingly, while the military had previously promised not to “confront the people” while their leader was under enormous Color Revolution pressure from real rioters, they’ve since reversed their stance and have not only evacuated “opposition” members from the parliament and arrested some of his officials, but are now ready to forcibly respond to his protesting supporters.

The stage is now dangerously set for large-scale state-on-civilian violence as the literal military dictatorship prepares to shoot President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters in the streets in order to send a message to their ethnic compatriots across the country that they’ll lose their lives if they don’t submit to becoming slaves to the neoliberal-globalist system that their oligarchs plan to reimpose in Bolivia. The military more than likely doesn’t have extensive files on the millions of his civilian supporters like they did on his dozens of government officials so they’re unable at this point in time to sic the de-facto death squads of right-wing “opposition” mobs on their families in order to blackmail them into desisting their anti-coup activities, though that only means that these very same death squads will probably be sicced on their neighborhoods in the coming nights to indiscriminately target the locals as a form of collective punishment if the protests don’t soon stop. It’s either that or shooting them in the streets, though given that the coup received Trump’s official approval, its conspirators could probably pull off murdering unarmed protesters in cold blood without any serious international consequences if they felt the “need” to since they can always count on the US’ economic support.

Lessons To Be Learned

Reflecting on the lessons to be learned from the Hybrid War on Bolivia’s successful regime change against President Morales, it must be said that he himself made it somewhat easier for this plot to unfold when he unprecedentedly polarized the country more than ever before by running for a fourth term after the Supreme Electoral Court annulled the February 2016 referendum results instead of spending the past 3,5 years grooming a successor. That inadvertently contributed to the US’ information warfare campaign that preconditioned some targeted elements of the population into believing that he had “dictatorial tendencies” and might “cling to power” through “corruption”. As for the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War itself, President Morales stood no chance of surviving the crisis from the get-go since US intelligence had already co-opted his security services, which likely passed on information about his officials’ families to the right-wing mobs and thus facilitated their de-facto hostage-taking as a form a blackmail against their civil servant relative. Nevertheless, as Venezuelan-Canadian freelance writer and activist Nino Pagliccia pointed out, “a strong civic-military union supported by thousands of voluntary militias” like Venezuela has could have possibly made this more difficult to pull off.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld

After Sochi Summit, What Prospects for Africa-Russia Relations?

November 12th, 2019 by Kester Kenn Klomegah

The first Russia-Africa Summit was held October 23–24 under theme “For Peace, Security and Development” in Sochi, southern coast city of Russia. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi co-chaired the Russia-Africa Summit.

According to the main organizer Roscongress Foundation; co-organizers Russian Export Center and Afreximbank, all the 54 African countries were represented officially, among them 45 African countries were represented by heads of state. There were heads of executive bodies of eight African regional organizations. The report says more than 6,000 participants came to the summit in Sochi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rolled out a comprehensive roadmap in his address:

“The development and consolidation of mutually beneficial ties with African nations and their integration associations is now one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities.”

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, underlined the special role of the Russian Federation in strengthening peace, stability and economic progress between Russia and Africa at the plenary. In particular he noted role of the Russian Federation in efforts to strengthening cooperation with Africa, and for demonstrating opportunities to develop investment and trade with Africa, which will help to strengthen overall ties in line with the 2063 concept (agenda) developed by the African Union.

Priority areas of economic cooperation in which concrete results could be achieved in the coming years were outlined. The main areas identified were energy, including renewables, infrastructure development and especially railway and housing construction, modern and high-tech extraction and processing of mineral resources, agriculture, digital technologies, oil and gas exploration, medicine, science and education.

There was a final declaration adopted by the participants. The document outlines a set of goals and objectives for the further development of Russian-African cooperation. It is worth noting that the declaration includes a new mechanism for dialogue, the Russian-African partnership mechanism, which calls for the Russia–Africa Summit to be held once every three years.

“In order to coordinate the development of the Russian-African relationship, the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum is to be established and the Russia-Africa Summit is to be its supreme authority, which will be held once every three years,” the document indicates.

“During the time between the summits, the Russian Federation is to hold annual political consultations with ministers of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation and the African countries taking current, past and future chairmanship of the African Union.”

The declaration states the shared determination of Russia and Africa to take this cooperation to the next level, responding to the challenges of the 21st century at a time when exchanging technological products, generating and trading globally in knowledge and competencies is growing in significance. Official delegations from African countries and business representatives have unreservedly expressed great interest in the further development of relations, and in deepening and intensifying Russian-African cooperation.

In Eurasia Review interview, David Shinn, an adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, and served previously as a Director of the Office of East African Affairs in Washington, explained some aspects of Russia’s engagement with Africa.

Russia already has plethoria of post-Soviet bilateral agreements that it is now implementing, with some degree of limitations, in various African countries, Professor Shinn acknowledged, and added,

“it is easy to sign agreements across the continent. But, it is much more difficult to make them meaningful, and that African political and business elites have to keep an open and positive mind concerning the benefits of this new relationship with Russia.”

He, however, stressed that Russia needs to demonstrate that it has a plan to engage in Africa in a significantly greater way than it has in recent years. Over the past decade, there have been a number of high-level Russian visits to Africa that raised expectations only to be followed by little new engagement.

“I doubt that warm hospitality and good Russian food at Sochi gathering will have much tangible and visible impact. If Russia fails to get beyond warm hospitality and good food, this could be a make or break opportunity for Russia in Africa,” concluded Professor Shinn.

In October, a geopolitical report titled “Late to the Party: Russia’s Return to Africa” was published.  The book’s author, Paul Stronski, a Senior Fellow in Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program, where his research focuses on the relationship between Russia and neighboring countries in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, noted that Russia increasingly looks to Africa as a region where it can project power and influence.

Nowhere has this posture manifested itself more visibly than in Russia’s attempts to return to Africa – an arena it abandoned three decades ago, when the burden of global ambitions became too much to bear for the disintegrating Soviet economy.

It is clear that Russia’s inroads there would be far more limited but for the power vacuums created by a lack of Western policy focus on Africa in recent years. More than anything else, it is opportunism that propels Russia’s relatively low-cost and low-risk strategies to try to enhance its clout and unnerve the West in Africa, just as in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

“Russia has arrived at the party quite late,” according to Stronski. His explanation was that “Russia has tried to tap the limited economic tools at its disposal to reestablish its presence in Africa. The continent’s booming population, need for stable long-term energy supplies, and abundance of natural resources hold a certain appeal for various Russian private and state-owned corporations, even though Russian players have few competitive advantages.”

The best and most enduring way to counter Russian influence in Africa would be to focus on those root causes that leave some African countries vulnerable to Russian inroads, Stronski wrote, and argued further that European countries and the United States could focus on good-governance initiatives, addressing human-security needs, and pushing for sustainable economic development and investment.

For many Western and European players, Stronski further suggested strengthening and directing efforts in the form of public-information campaigns, partnerships with local press and civil society organizations.

On October 16, a seminar under the theme “Discussion in the Run-Up to the Russia-Africa Summit” was held at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The key speaker was the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to South Africa, Ilya Rogachev, who delivered a comprehensive speech highlighting the essence of Russia-Africa Summit.

The first event of such scale and magnitude indicates an important milestone in the history of relations between Russia and Africa. It reminds that Russia and Africa have always walked hand in hand through history, according to the Russian ambassador.

Admittedly and to a certain extent, after Soviet collapse, Russia lost the pace and intensity in all aspects of cooperation. In plain terms, Russia has some catching up to do: to put partnership back on track, give it new dimensions and provide dynamics for further growth. In fact, Russia strives for an equal cooperation based on mutual respect for the interests of all the involved parties, explained Ambassador Ilya Rogachev.

Rogachev referred to western publications about Russia as “purposefully misrepresented and clearly biased” – such media publications that appeared in South Africa and elsewhere. These experts in their publications, their opinions and coments, keep describing Russia’s return to Africa, as a premise for a struggle for influence and resources among the global powers.

“I would like to discourage that line of thought and tell the analysts, that they are wide off the mark. Our mindset is different, we say: let’s cooperate and grow together. Africa is the most dynamically developing continent with rapidly growing economies. It is time to build long-lasting partnerships rooted in the principles of trust and equality,” added Rogachev.

In her early November media briefing, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova underscored the huge volume of preparatory work towards the Russia-Africa Summit. Resultantly, a number of goals have been achieved – this is not only multilateral, but also bilateral meetings, a global work that has been done to inventory the state of relations between Russia and all countries of this part of the world, she noted.

In order to prepare one summit, it entails working with all ministries, departments and relevant institutions, a large number of documents are requested and compiled. In the case here, so many African countries! All real issues for interaction between Russia and Africa, and African regional organizations were represented. This is a very serious job.

On the part of our African partners, discussions were exclusively substantive and delegations were very representative. The practical issues President Vladimir Putin and African leaders spoke about in numerous interviews and sessions were resolved. Ways to resolve other existing issues outlined, as well as large number of strategic plans discussed. All tasks cannot, practically, be solved there because many of them have a long-term plan, according to Zakharova.

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Taxing the Rich Is Only a Start, Though It’s a Good One

November 12th, 2019 by Doug Henwood

It’s become near-consensus on the social democratic left that you can fund a decent welfare state by taxing the rich and shrinking the military. Sad to say that isn’t true. Those are good things in themselves, and you could pay for some excellent things with that agenda, but it would still be well short of actual social democracy.

I’m defining social democracy as a large and robust welfare state that socializes a lot of consumption through taxation and spending, compressing the income distribution, reducing poverty sharply, capping the political power of the rich, insulating people from the risks of sickness and unemployment, and educating people at low cost, all structured to reduce racial, gender, and other inequalities. It’s not the end of capitalism, but it’s a lot bigger than Medicare for All and free college, as badly we need both those things tomorrow.

We’re sure not spending much on human uplift now. As the first graph below shows, the US spends less and taxes even less than other rich countries. In 2017 (the vintage of most of these stats), US government at all levels (aka general government in fiscal jargon) took in 34% of GDP in taxes and spent 38%. Australia spent somewhat less and taxed somewhat more, but otherwise the US figures are the lowest of the bunch.

Exp & rev

The three countries who are labeled “Scand” in these graphs—Denmark, Norway, and Sweden—spend an average of 50% of GDP and take in 53%. None is very far from those averages, which are 12 and 19 points above US levels respectively. The US lags the averages of the entire OECD, the Paris-based think tank of, by, and for the richer countries (and the source of all these stats), by 4 points on spending and 8 points on revenue.

Some on the left suggest that we could also borrow more, but we’re already doing a lot of that, and to little good effect. Our budget deficit, over 4% of GDP, is the largest of any of the countries shown. It’s nine times the OECD average. The Scandinavians run a surplus, though Norway’s oil gusher distorts that average. Sweden and Denmark run surpluses over 1% of GDP. Australia and Canada run small deficits; Germany, a small surplus. If you listen to some of our more fervent populists and MMTers, to whom deficits are essential for economic health, you’d think these countries would be in a deep slump, but they’re not. And all have lower poverty rates and less inequality than the US.

If you take out interest payments to get what’s known as the primary balance, the US had the largest deficit of any country but France. But you can’t take out interest payments—they can be big. They’re 3.4% of GDP for the US, three times the cost of Bernie Sanders’s free college scheme. That’s just a bit less than Italy, which has a far larger debt relative to its economy. (See top left graph of “spending shares,” a few paragraphs down.) Taking money from the mass of taxpayers and handing it over to mostly rich bondholders is a perverse use of state power.

Deficits accumulate into debt over time. As the graph below shows, while the US debt burden is above the OECD average, it trails debt champs Italy and Japan. Australian and Scandinavian debt levels are low. Surprisingly, though, the effective interest rate (computed as the interest/GDP ratio divided by the debt/GDP ratio) paid by the US—the cornerstone of global capitalism whose government debt it the world’s benchmark—is twice the OECD average, and higher than Italy, a country not known for fiscal righteousness. But when you remember that junk bonds helped put Donald Trump where he is today, it begins to make sense. We’re not the sterling credit we used to be.

Debt

spending

What do governments spend their money on? The graphs below give some idea. (For some inexplicable reason, much of the data for Canada is missing.) As already noted, the US spends a lot on interest paid to bondholders—well over twice the OECD average. The Scandinavian governments are net earners of interest, not payers, though that’s again largely because of Norway’s oil income and the vast investment portfolio it’s endowed.

The US spends well over twice the OECD average on the military, even more compared to the Scandinavians—3.2% of GDP by the OECD’s accounting. According to the US national income accounts, the Pentagon eats up 3.9% of GDP, the difference from the OECD no doubt reflecting different classification schemes. (The OECD uses the internationally standardized System of National Accounts; the US marches to its own statistical drummer.) But that military spending number—which has hardly budged during the Trump years, his braggadocio to the contrary—is just over half what it was during the Reagan years and less than a third what it was at the peak of the Vietnam war. Still, it’s grotesquely high. Taking that near-4% down to the Japanese level of 1% would free up 3% of GDP for nobler pursuits. That’s significant but it’s not social democracy.

Spending

Not graphed here: spending on “public order,” cops, courts, prisons, and firefighting. Unsurprisingly, the US spends a lot on those, a fifth above average and 75% more than the Scandinavians, but the differences are less than 1% of GDP. There’s every reason to slash the regime of “public order” deeply, but it wouldn’t free massive amounts of resources—though of course it would free a lot of people and soften the depraved brutality of American carceral state.

And cutting interest interest payments and radically shrinking the military and “criminal justice” system, which are minima for a better society, still wouldn’t change the public sector’s share of GDP, only redeploy it. Increasing that share would be essential to a serious social democratic program.

Surprisingly, the US spends a lot on health—more than any other country in the graph. More on all this in the near future, but it’s a reminder that public spending on health in the US is already enormous, and comes nowhere near covering everyone. Grafted on top of that public finance system—mainly Medicare and Medicaid—is an enormously wasteful private system that isn’t captured in these stats. That could be euthanized, its cash flows repurposed into a universal public system.

The fourth graph is where American exceptionalism really comes in—the share of GDP spent on “social protection,” that is, classic welfare state programs. In the OECD’s words, these include “sickness and disability; old age (i.e. pensions); survivors; family and children; unemployment; housing; social exclusion n.e.c. [not elsewhere classified]; [and] R&D social protection.” The US spends under 8% of GDP on these things, less than half the OECD average and a third what the Scandinavians spend. Over 60% of the US total goes to Social Security, compared to just over 40% for public pensions in Scandinavia. Despite that, pensions there are nearly twice as generous, measured as a share of GDP, than ours.

Unfortunately, the OECD breaks out social spending in detail for only a subset of member countries, all in Europe. But some rough comparisons are possible, using the US national income accounts. (See graph below.) Scandinavians spend over 12% of GDP on social protection other than pensions, more than four times the US’s 3%. They spend 5% on sickness and disability allowances; the US, little more than 0. They spend over 3% on family and children, things like child allowances and day care; we spend 0.1%, mostly on things like TANF. (The official description of TANF emphasizes not humane poverty reduction, but the promotion of marriage.) They spend 1.4% of GDP on the unemployed, both benefits and retraining schemes; we spend 0.1%. The US numbers are probably a little low, because the national income accounts table these are drawn from (table 3.12, here) may not include some indirect spending on these items, but not profoundly so. There are important things the US state just doesn’t do (publicly funded child care) or does only meanly (TANF).

social protection lines

There are other forms of spending that aren’t captured here. Public employment is 20% of the Swedish total and 15% in the US. Public investment is almost half again as high. Those differences mean government offices aren’t understaffed and dingy, and things in general don’t feel like they’re falling apart.

taxing

How do the Scandinavian states—and others that are more generous social spenders than the US—finance that spending? Not, as we’ve seen, by borrowing. Countries with more generous welfare states than ours borrow far less. Instead, they tax.

Here are some of the principal revenue sources. On some things, like social security and personal and corporate income taxes, the US isn’t an outlier. On others we are. Property taxes, a core financing mechanism for US localities, take up 5% of GDP, over twice the OECD average and over three times the Scandinavian. At 5% of GDP, our taxes on goods and services—mostly value-added taxes (VATs) in other countries, not sales taxes, which are classed separately—are less than a third the Scandinavian share of GDP (16%), and not much larger compared to the OECD average (14%). The difference between the US and the Scandinavians is over 10% of GDP.

Revenue

Yes VATs are regressive. They’re taxes on consumption that hit the poor harder than the rich because the further down the income scale you go, the larger a portion of your income you consume. But their regressivity is more than compensated for in the Scandinavian countries by spending, which not only takes from the rich and gives to the poor, but takes from the masses and gives it back in the form of good public services. It’s a way of socializing consumption to some degree, of taking things out of competitive markets. It makes for a less stressful life than the US, where the normal state is to be just a few paychecks from insolvency. Or worse.

The relationship between the share of the VAT take and spending on social production is impressively close; for the twelve countries shown, admittedly not a huge sample, the correlation coefficient between the two is 0.69. As Lawrence Summers once put it: “Republicans don’t like value-added taxes because they are a money machine and Democrats don’t like them because they are regressive. We will get a VAT when Democrats realize that it is a money machine and Republicans realize that it is regressive.”

social indicators

Here are a few statistical reminders of what all this social democracy can get you. Scandinavians live, on average, over three years longer than Americans—and Swedes, the longest-lived of the three, outlive Americans by almost four. (Danes have consistently lagged their neighbors, by about two years.) As the graph below shows, since at least 1960 (when the World Bank data begins), Scandinavian life expectancy has always exceeded American. The gap was just over three years six decades ago; that narrowed to just over a year in the mid-1980s, and then began widening—gradually at first, and accelerating after 2000 or so. US life expectancy fell between 2014 and 2017, which is almost unheard of among countries not at war or in social collapse; it fell again in 2018, though it’s not graphed here. Scandinavia’s has continued to rise.

Life expectancy

Part of that widening gap, and the recent US decline, can be explained by the insane expense and inaccessibility of the health care system, but it also reflects poverty, inequality, and the stresses that come with both.

These are illustrated in the graph below. (See captions for definitions.) The US has the most unequal income distribution of any rich country for which the Luxembourg Income Study has data, though it still has a way to go to catch up to South Africa, Russia, and several Latin American countries. Much the same can be said for poverty; the US has the highest rate of any rich country other than Israel, though it’s also beaten by a similar set of poorer countries. Getting those numbers down would require some really ambitious social spending.

gini & poverty

can you do it by taxing the rich?

Can you fund a Scandinavian-style welfare state by taxing the rich alone? No.

In 2012, the economists Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez published a widely cited paper arguing that the optimal top tax rate for soaking the rich is 73%—optimal in the sense of pulling in the most revenue. Any higher, and avoidance will undo any increase. Who knows? But let’s accept it for now. Working with those numbers, Washington Post wonk Jeff Stein figured that could pull in $320 billion a year at most. Stein also figures a 1% tax on the wealth of the top 1%, pretty much Elizabeth Warren’s plan, would pull in $200 billion a year. Bernie Sanders’s freshly released wealth tax plan would raise $435 billion a year, according to its designers, Saez and his Berkeley colleague Gabriel Zucman, who also designed Warren’s more modest levy. (A popular version of their analysis is here; a more technical one, here.)

Combine those two and you get a revenue increase of $520–755 billion, or 2.4–3.5% of GDP. Scandinavian revenues are 19 percentage points higher as a share of GDP than the US. (Recall that we not only need to spend more, we also need to borrow less if we’re to reduce the tribute paid to creditors.) So these taxes, which are probably what lots of contemporary American leftists have in mind, come only an eighth to a fifth of the way towards closing the gap with the Scandinavians (and it must be said the Scandinavian welfare states aren’t as generous as they were before neoliberalism set in, but they’re still big).

I’m taking these revenue estimates as they are. It seems likely that, were taxes raised sharply in this fashion, a good bit of the targeted money would disappear, and not just because of clever lawyers and accountants and the lure of offshore locations. CEOs, bankers, and star athletes wouldn’t be paid so highly if the money were going to be taxed away, as the experience of the 1950s and 1960s shows. Superstar incomes have flourished because they’ve been so lightly taxed. Stocks, where the very rich earn a lot of their money—a large share of the income of the very rich is from capital gains—would not be so richly valued under a government so clearly hostile to wealth. The ranks and riches of tech bros and hedgies would be radically shrunk.

A few stats about the Forbes 400 will underscore these points. When the magazine first issued it annual list of the USA’s richest in 1982, No. 400 was “worth” $75 million (which would equal $195 million in 2018 dollars), and the whole lot of them together tipped the scales at $94 billion, or not quite 3% of GDP. Last year, the minimum price of admission was $2.1 billion—eleven times the current value of 1982’s minimum—and the whole gang claimed $2.9 trillion, or 14% of GDP. It’s no accident, as the vulgar Marxists used to say, that the list made its debut in September 1982, one month after the great bull market in stocks began—one that, aside from a few stumbles, like the 1987 crash and the 2008 financial crisis, continues to this day. It’s been a riot of accumulation.

A major reason why so much money as accumulated at the top is that policy has been coddling the rich for decades, with assistance from a popular culture that has celebrated them. We want to throw all that into reverse. To reduce the power of the rich requires taking their money away—as Sanders said in introducing the wealth tax, “I don’t think that billionaires should exist.” Stocks and other financial assets would deflate profoundly.

That means you can’t plan for those hoards of money to be a constant source of recurring revenue, a point that Saez and Zucman do not address in those two papers, but which they do address in their forthcoming book, The Triumph of Injustice. As they say—in a short passage quite deep into it—“In the long run, a radical wealth tax erodes top fortunes so much that it reduces the taxes paid by the ultra-rich….” Although that’s a comment about the wealth tax, it could be adapted to high rates on top incomes. The point is less revenue-raising, though you can do some of that, but giving extreme wealth a very radical haircut. Plutocrats will whine about “confiscatory taxation,” and they will be right. And with a reduction in their riches would come a reduction in their political power. Right now that seems like a pleasant dream, but we should be clear on the politics involved.

Which takes us back to the need for broader taxation to fund a civilized welfare state. In the book, Saez and Zucman reject a VAT for the US as too regressive, and propose a tax on all forms of income. The numbers they float are well short of a full welfare state—it’s little more than Medicare for All and free college (both of which, let me say again, we need badly). But regardless of the style of tax and its level, we’d have to raise more revenue, and not just from the rich.

Some might find it impolitic of me to say all this, but you have to be honest with people, otherwise they’ll turn on you for selling a bill of goods. There’s no doubt that adding 3% of GDP to social spending would be a good start — it would improve people’s lives and change their expectations. Elites hate giving the masses anything, lest it increase the appetite for more—and, as Sam Gindin argues, the lowering of expectations has been one of neoliberalism’s great successes.

We could frame the programs financed by taxing the rich as an overture or downpayment and hope that stimulates the appetitite for more. But if we want a seriously better society of the sort outlined in the Green New Deal, then it’s going to take a lot more — and it won’t “pay for itself.” As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘‘nothing is got for nothing.”

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Doug Henwood publishes the Left Business Observer and is a contributing editor at The Nation magazine.

Australia’s booming organic sector could be devastated if moves to deregulate the gene technology ‘CRISPR’ pass through the Federal Senate on the 13th of this month.

CRISPR technology involves removing unwanted gene traits from the DNA sequence of an animal, plant or microbial life form, or inserting a new wanted gene trait.

The deregulation of CRISPR gene technology and consequent undisclosed release of these life forms means that Australia’s agriculture and food sector will in a short space of time be unable to reassure people that the food being produced in Australia is GM free and meets the Australian National Organic and Biodynamic Standard, or meets the import requirements of our major trading partners.

For medical science these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may help to unlock enormous potential.

‘However, because our markets demand GMO free food, their uncontrolled and unmonitored release into the environment, agriculture and domestic food supply are a disaster for Australia’s organic industry,’ Glenn Schaube, Chair of NASAA said.

‘It has taken 50 plus years of hard work by two generations of thousands of Australians to create a viable organic industry in this country.

‘We are shocked that our political leaders could make Australia’s estimated $3bil certified organic industry the sacrificial lamb to the deregulation of GMO technologies, and consequently, turn their backs on the $200bil rapidly growing world market for organic produce,’ Mr Schaube said.

‘The Department of Agriculture could also lose its status as an internationally respected and trusted Accreditor of Australian organic exports,’ Mr Schaube said.

Australia now has the largest area of land certified to organics compared to any other country. The sector is growing at around 15% per year in Australia. There are also over 21,000 individual operators certified to the NASAA Organic and Biodynamic Standard worldwide.

‘Australia could become the world’s leader in premium organic foods however, the potential for GM contamination will increase dramatically through the proposed level of deregulation, consequently closing markets that have zero tolerance for GM contamination to Australian producers.

‘This includes world markets for GM free conventionally produced foods like baby foods and milk formula, that are exported to China.’ Mr Schaube said.

Just one example involves rye grass, a common pasture feed, but in horticulture it is a noxious weed that spreads rapidly. Should a GMO rye grass be released, it could contaminate the entire country in a few short years.

Despite these consequences and achievements, no thorough, independent or peer reviewed studies investigating the consequences of releasing these new life forms undisclosed have been undertaken or made available to the public.

The consequences of DDT, thalidomide, cane toads, asbestos, tobacco and now glyphosate, are warnings of scientific risk that legislators should consider when assessing the potential impact of this technology upon consumers, producers, manufacturers and exporters. All were released because they were believed to be safe, based on the argument of a lack of evidence of risk.

‘Federal Senators have a moral and economic obligation to separate the changes concerning the medical regulation of GMOs from the environmental and agricultural regulations.

‘An independent assessment of the real economic, human and environmental impact of these technologies to appropriately inform GMO regulations around agriculture and food production is essential,’ Mr Schaube said.

No other country is deregulating CRISPR GMO technology to the extent that Australia is.

‘We are simply asking for CRISPR technology to be built into a responsible regulatory model and process.

‘It is an issue of national importance and we call on all Senators to make the wise economic and principled decision to protect Australia’s organic industry and wider food export sector, before it is too late,’ Mr Schaube said.

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Speaking in Berlin last Friday on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” and George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” diatribes, targeting Russia and China as “unfree nations” in permanent conflict with a supposedly “free” world led by Washington.

Amid reminiscing about his deployment in West Germany as a US Army lieutenant in the run-up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Pompeo laid out a contrived ideological justification for the launching of a new Cold War in which the threat of a nuclear conflagration is far higher than it was three decades ago.

The irony and hypocrisy of Pompeo extolling the fall of the Berlin Wall—using the word “freedom” 23 times in barely 16 minutes—was not lost on many. He came to Germany as the representative of a US administration that has made the walling off of the US southern border its political priority, while separating thousands of immigrant children from their parents and locking them in cages.

The thrust of the secretary of state’s thuggish address was the vilification of Russia and China.

“Today, Russia—led by a former KGB officer stationed in Dresden—invades its neighbors and slays political opponents,” he said. “It suppresses the independence of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Russian authorities, even as we speak, use police raids and torture against Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians who are working in opposition to Russian aggression. In Chechnya, anyone considered ‘undesirable’ by the authorities simply disappears.”

He continued:

“In China, the Chinese Communist Party is shaping a new vision of authoritarianism, one that the world has not seen for an awfully long time. … The People’s Liberation Army encroaches on the sovereignty of its Chinese neighbors, and the Chinese Communist Party denies travel privileges to critics—even German lawmakers—who condemn its abysmal human rights record. The CCP harasses the families of Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang, who simply sought refuge abroad. We—all of us, everyone in this room—has a duty. We must recognize that free nations are in a competition of values with those unfree nations.”

How was this “competition” for freedom to be conducted? First, “by ensuring that Germany doesn’t become dependent on Russian energy. We don’t want Europe’s energy supplies to be dependent on Vladimir Putin.”

This was a continuation of a relentless campaign by Washington against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, bringing Russian natural gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea. The Trump administration has repeatedly warned that the energy deal will make Germany a “captive of Russia.” Instead, it wants Germany to accept liquefied natural gas, delivered by US companies, at a higher price than Russian gas.

Secondly, this struggle for “freedom” is to be prosecuted, according to Pompeo, by confronting “the risks that are presented to the world by the Chinese Communist Party, its acquisition of sensitive technology firms and Chinese companies’ intent to build out the world’s next networks.”

In other words, Washington wants a guarantee from Berlin and the rest of its erstwhile NATO allies that they will not allow the Chinese telecom giant Huawei to participate in the development of Europe’s 5G telecommunications networks.

Huawei has become a focal point in the escalation of the US-China trade war as key sections of the US military and intelligence apparatus view the technological development made by the company and other Chinese high-tech firms as an existential threat to the economic and military dominance of the US.

To put it bluntly, Washington’s new struggle for “freedom” consists of a demand that Europe subjugate itself to the strategic and profit interests of US imperialism and line up behind US war preparations against both Russia and China.

Pompeo’s speech in Berlin is only the latest in a series of denunciations delivered by the US secretary of state and Vice President Mike Pence against Beijing. This crescendo of aggression has accompanied what was supposedly a truce in the year-and-a-half-old US-China trade war that was supposed to be formalized with a deal signed by Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this week. The summit was canceled, however, because the hosting government of Chile could not guarantee security under conditions in which millions of workers and youth have taken to the streets in mass protests against social inequality.

The remarks by Pompeo have made it clear that, whatever limited deal was cobbled together between the US and Beijing on trade, the conflict between the two strategic rivals will continue unabated.

Pompeo’s speech provoked a harsh response from Beijing, in large measure because he singled out China’s ruling Communist Party—as opposed to the people of China—as an enemy of the United States and its “values.”

“China threatens American freedoms,” he said. “It’s not the Chinese people that are the problem. It’s the Communist Party of China.”

Such a US denunciation of China’s ruling party and attempt to counterpose it to the Chinese population is unprecedented since the rapprochement between Washington and Beijing initiated between Nixon and Mao. It is undoubtedly seen in Beijing as a threat of a US campaign for regime change along the lines of those carried out by US imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Geng Shuang, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, condemned Pompeo’s remarks, declaring that they expressed a “dark anti-communist mindset” and were by “no means an embodiment of confidence and strength, but reveal fear and arrogance.”

Pompeo’s rhetorical appeal to Europe for a crusade of the “free” nations against the “unfree” led by US imperialism has little chance of achieving the desired effect. His speech in Berlin followed on the heels of an Economist interview in which French President Emmanuel Macron described the NATO alliance as “brain dead.” Citing the Trump administration’s unilateral actions in relations to Turkey and Syria, the French president’s remarks indicated that the conflicts between US and European interests had rendered the 70-year-old transatlantic alliance inviable. The logical response is the remilitarization of Europe in preparation for a new global war that will pit each against all.

In his Berlin speech, the US secretary of state recalled that following the fall of the Berlin Wall, “there were those who wrote about the ‘end of history.’”

“We thought free societies would flourish everywhere,” he said, i.e., that following the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union, US imperialism would consolidate its hegemony over the entire planet. Despite three decades of uninterrupted US wars, this has not proven to be the case.

“Sadly, we were wrong,” Pompeo said. “We were wrong about the human condition and the nature of the course that many countries might take today.”

Indeed, history is coming back with a vengeance. The “human condition,” as Marx established in the Communist Manifesto, is dominated by the class struggle. The eruption of mass protests from Chile to Lebanon is ushering in a new period of worldwide socialist revolution that threatens the survival of world capitalism.

The only answer of Pompeo and those capitalist interests for whom he speaks to this threat from below is world war and fascist barbarism.

There is no way of stopping a new imperialist war, and with it the threat of nuclear annihilation, outside of socialist revolution. The decisive question is that of establishing a new revolutionary leadership in the working class through the building of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

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The Sunday military coup in Bolivia has put in place a government which appears likely to reverse a decision by just-resigned President Evo Morales to cancel an agreement with a German company for developing lithium deposits in the Latin American country for batteries like those in electric cars. 

“Bolivia’s lithium belongs to the Bolivian people,” tweeted Washington Monthly contributor David Atkins. “Not to multinational corporate cabals.”

The coup, which on Sunday resulted in Morales resigning and going into hiding, was the result of days of protests from right-wing elements angry at the leftist Morales government. Sen. Jeanine Añez, of the center-right party Democratic Unity, is currently the interim president in the unstable post-coup government in advance of elections.

Investment analyst publisher Argus urged investors to keep an eye on the developing situation and noted that gas and oil production from foreign companies in Bolivia had remained steady.

The Morales move on Nov. 4 to cancel the December 2018 agreement with Germany’s ACI Systems Alemania (ACISA) came after weeks of protests from residents of the Potosí area. The region has 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats.

Among other clients, ACISA provides batteries to Tesla; Tesla’s stock rose Monday after the weekend.

As Bloomberg News noted in 2018, that has set the country up to be incredibly important in the next decade:

Demand for lithium is expected to more than double by 2025. The soft, light mineral is mined mainly in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. Bolivia has plenty—9 million tons that have never been mined commercially, the second-largest amount in the world—but until now there’s been no practical way to mine and sell it.

Morales’ cancellation of the ACISA deal opened the door to either a renegotiation of the agreement with terms delivering more of the profits to the area’s population or the outright nationalization of the Bolivian lithium extraction industry.

As Telesur reported in June, the Morales government announced at the time it was “determined to industrialize Bolivia and has invested huge amounts to ensure that lithium is processed within the country to export it only in value-added form, such as in batteries.”

It’s unclear what the next steps are for the industry in a post-coup Bolivia, according toglobal intelligence analysis firm Stratfor:

In the longer term, continued political uncertainty will make it more difficult for Bolivia to increase its production of strategic metals like lithium or develop a value-added sector in the battery market. The poor investment climate comes at a time of expanding global opportunities in lithium-ion battery production to meet rising demand from electric vehicle manufacturing.

ACISA told German broadcaster DW last week that the company was “confident that our lithium project will be resumed after a phase of political calmness and clarification.”

On Sunday, Morales resigned.

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A massive U.S. military convoy was seen leaving eastern Syria on Sunday for the governorates of Aleppo and Al-Raqqa in the northern part of the country.

According to local reports, the U.S. Army convoy consisted of 172 vehicles, including tanks, and several American military personnel.

In a video captured on Sunday, the U.S. troops can be seen traveling to these governorates in northern Syria, where they will likely deploy to bases in Al-Raqqa and northern Aleppo.

Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement about moving American troops to the oil fields in eastern and northeastern Syria, the U.S. Army continues to carry out patrols in different parts of the country.

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It would appear ironic that most of the co-sponsors of Draft Resolution A/C.3/74/L.62: “Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and Other Practices that Contribute to Fuelling Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” are nations currently under sanction by the United States, and some by the United Nations Security Council: Belarus, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and others, not under sanction, including Israel. This resolution was introduced by the Russian Federation.

The Soviet Union, of which Russia was the largest nation, suffered approximately 30 million deaths as a result of Nazism during World War II, and, of course, the entire country was destroyed. Highly placed diplomatic sources involved in the discussions which led to this eleventh UN Resolution, confirmed that resistance to this resolution was very strong by the delegations of Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Poland, all of whom ultimately abstained. The abstention by the entire European Union is particularly bizarre, considering that theirs was the territory most barbarically subjugated by the Nazis, and whose occupied countries suffered heinous cruelties under nazi occupation.

Algirdas Paleckis.jpg

Lithuania, of course, would oppose this resolution, as that country recently hosted secret CIA prisons which tortured political prisoners who had been “disappeared,” under “Rendition” to Lithuania’s willing hospitality. And, most notoriously, and disgracefully, Lithuania has for a shameful decade persecuted the brilliant politician, Algirdas Palescis (image on the right), who founded the organization, “Lithuania Without Nazism.” Lithuania persists in this vicious persecution of Mr. Paleckis, despite letters to the Lithuanian President and Minister of Justice written by former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kasinich and other eminent persons, in defense of the heroic Palescis’ right to freedom of expression. During my own visit to Vilnius, to attend one of the many court trials to which Mr. Palescis was subjected, he took me on a tour of Vilnius, and told me (a fact corroborated by numerous undisputed and impeccable sources), that prior to World War II  there had been 200,000 Jews living in Lithuania.  195,000 Jews were murdered during the war by Lithuanian Nazis.

The Resolution, adopted by a recorded vote; “Yes”: 121; “No”: 2 (United States and Ukraine); “Abstain”: 55, states:

“Recalling the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal, and the Judgment of the Tribunal which recognized as criminal, inter alia, the SS organization and its integral parts, including the Waffen SS, through its officially accepted members implicated in or with knowledge of the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity connected with the Second World War, as well as other relevant provisions of the Charter and the Judgment, Mindful of the horrors of the Second World War, and stressing in this regard that the victory over Nazism in the Second World War contributed to the establishment of the conditions for the creation of the United Nations, designed to prevent future wars and save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…..5. Expresses deep concern about the glorification, in any form, of the Nazi movement, neo-nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization, including by erecting monuments and memorials, holding public demonstrations in the name of glorification of the Nazi past, the Nazi movement and neo-Nazism, declaring or attempting to declare such members and those who fought against the anti-Hitler coalition, collaborated with the Nazi movement and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity as participants in national liberation movements, as well as by the renaming of streets glorifying them,…13. Expresses deep concern about increased frequency of attempts and activities intended to desecrate or demolish monuments erected in remembrance of those who fought against Nazism during the Second World War, as well as to unlawfully exhume or remove the remains of such persons, and in this regard urges States to fully comply with their relevant obligations, inter alia, under article 34 of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions of 1949….”

It is further ironic, indeed shameful that this resolution is opposed by the United States and Ukraine, and the United Kingdom abstained. This raises serious questions about the respective motivations of these “Allies” during World War II. Although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was fiercely opposed to Nazism, and brilliantly worked with Stalin and Churchill to defeat the Nazis, there were many in the United States, particularly among the oligarchs, who hoped that Hitler would win the war and crush the Soviet Union. Roosevelt used his consummate skill to manoeuver around obstacles within the powerful pro-nazi movement in the United States, including within the State Department and military, in order to compel timely delivery of  “lend-lease” to supply the Soviet Union with desperately needed armaments and other resources, as the Soviet people committed their blood and lives to the anti-nazi war.

Recently released archives within the FDR Library at Hyde Park made possible the publication of the letters exchanged between Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill, in a book published by Yale University Press, entitled “My Dear Mr. Stalin,” by Bennington College and Columbia University graduate, Susan Butler. The book includes numerous pleas by Stalin for the opening of a “Second Front” in Western Europe to distract and draw away the murderous nazi hordes massacring Soviet citizens by the millions, both in actual battle, and in the numerous concentration camps in Belarus, Ukraine, and elsewhere throughout the USSR. Although Roosevelt was supportive of the opening of the Second Front, its creation was continually opposed, or delayed by Churchill, with arguments that were often spurious, perhaps masking his real intent. Among the many conclusions to which these letters lead is that the 1945 meeting in Italy between the British, Americans and Germans, (a meeting from which the Soviet representatives were intentionally excluded) following the defeat of Mussolini, may have had a nefarious purpose.

March 1945: Page 302:

“Conversations had been initiated between Gen. Karl Wolff, ranking SS officer in Italy, and Allen Dulles, OSS chief in Switzerland, regarding the possible surrender of German troops in northern Italy. Harriman, involved in the matter and privy to all the details, on March 12 informed Molotov of the surrender discussions and further that Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander was sending his American deputy chief of staff, Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, and the chief British intelligence officer, Gen Sir Terence Airey, disguised as civilians, across the Swiss border to talk to Wolff in three days.  Molotov replied that ‘the Soviet Government would like officers representing the Soviet Military Command to participate in these negotiations.’ Harriman consulted with Deane, Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; all agreed that Soviet participation was undesirable.” Molotov called the refusal ‘utterly unexpected and incomprehensible.’”…Roosevelt had not been informed of the surrender negotiations….Roosevelt sought to allay Stalin’s great fear that Great Britain and the United States were double-crossing the Soviets now that victory was imminent.”

On March 29, 1945 Stalin wrote to Roosevelt:…

”The Soviet Government could not have given a different answer after the Soviet representatives were refused participation in the discussions in Bern with the Germans regarding the possibility of capitulation of German troops and opening the front to Anglo-American troops in Northern Italy…..I agree to negotiations with the enemy on such matter only in the case when these negotiations will not make the situation of the enemy easier, if there will be excluded a possibility for the Germans to maneuver and to use these negotiations for shifting of their troops to other sections of the front, and, first of all, to the Soviet front….  I cannot understand why representatives of the Soviet Command were refused participation in these negotiations and in what way they could cause inconvenience to the representatives of the Allied Command. For your information I have to tell you that the Germans have already made use of the negotiations with the Allied Command and during this period have succeeded in shifting three divisions from Northern Italy to the Soviet front….. The task of coordinated operations with a blow upon the Germans from the West, South and East, announced at the Crimea Conference is to bind the troops of the enemy to the place of their location and not to give the enemy any possibility to maneuver and shift troops in to the necessary for him direction.  This task is being carried out by the Soviet Command. This is being violated by Field marshal Alexander. This circumstance is irritating the Soviet Command and creates ground for mistrust.”

It is extremely interesting that Nazi war criminals were recruited by the British and Americans for use against the Soviet Union following the Soviet victory, at enormous and almost unbearable sacrifice, and Nazi defeat in World War II. The Vatican “Ratline” was used for this “Operation Paperclip” denounced by U.S. Justice Department Official John Loftus in his book “The American Nazi Secret,” and in his other works on this subject. Pope Pius XII was deeply implicated in this scandalous and disgraceful arrangement to protect nazi war criminals, as this Pope was implicated in the horrendous massacre of more than 500,000 Serbs by the Catholic Ustashe at the Jasenovic Concentration Camp in Croatia during WWII. It is perhaps no coincidence that in 1945, when the Soviet victory was assured, the capitalist majordomo Allen Dulles and nazi General Wolff found common cause in Italy, with its rabidly anticommunist Pope Pius XII, and arrangements were made to protect nazi war criminals, and use them, after the war, under false identities, to infiltrate and destabilize and ultimately destroy the Soviet Union. No doubt the Soviets, and Stalin and Molotov, in particular suspected something Machiavellian and sinister in this Anglo-American-German “negotiation” categorically excluding the Soviets, who had borne the ultimate burden and sacrifice defeating the Nazis in World War II. It is extremely interesting that while Churchill is Lionized as an ally in World War II, Roosevelt found it necessary to state to Churchill, whose recalcitrance he found appalling, “We are not fighting this war, Winston, to restore the British Empire.”

It is also important to examine the character of this German General Wolff, with whom Allen Dulles and Fieldmarshal Alexander found such a kindred soul: Burton Hersh’s work: “The Old Boys” (Scribners, 1992) describes General Wolff thus:

“Details from the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem happened to reinforce evidence from an Ulm mass-murder proceeding which generated fresh testimony. Statements taken at Nuremburg indicated that Himmler and his Wolfie were fond of stealing away to the Luftwaffe experimental station at Dachau, where they could watch inmates subjected to high-altitude conditions inside a pressure chamber. The subjects would routinely go mad, and tear open their heads and faces and ‘pull out their hair in an effort to relieve the pressure,’ an assistant remembered. Dulles’s good-natured co-negotiator seems to have had a scientific side. Research must go on, after all..….As time passed, fresh curiosity as to Wolff’s role during the Hitler days built up–  the single piece of documentary evidence against Wolff, Allen Dulles later wrote, was a 1942 paper he signed which ‘requested additional freight cars from the Ministry of Transport for use in Poland.’ It seemed that there was evidence that the cars were for transporting Jews to the extermination camps.  Wolff claimed at his trial that he did not know they were for that purpose. But Allen didn’t quote from the document, which expressed to the State Secretary in the Transportation Ministry Wolff’s ‘special joy that now five thousand members of the Chosen People are going to Treblinka every day.’ The West German prosecutor was to demonstrate that between July and September of 1942 alone Wolff arranged for the boxcars which transferred 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Auschwitz. ‘Himmler found in him his bureaucrat of death.’”

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Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y. She is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Featured image: US snipers pose in front of Nazi SS flag in 2012 (source: Wikimedia Commons)

A coup took place in Bolivia on November 10. The fact that the president of the country, Evo Morales, resigned it does not contradict the fact that a coup has taken place. Morales resigned forced by the military. The perpetrators of the Hybrid War were envisioning this same scenario for Venezuela but failed while they succeed in Bolivia. What made the difference?

Bolivia and Venezuela are similar in their independent approach to following a socialist path to break away from the hegemonic interference and economic exploitation from the US and its allies. Both countries have been successful in reducing poverty and achieving economic growth by the social use of their resources. And both countries have been subjected to a US promoted Hybrid War for regime change from a socialist government to a more neoliberal pro-US government.

The Hybrid War script involves at its minimum the following basic elements:

  • accusing the government of some false wrongdoing,
  • “mobilising destructive mobs” if other less violent means have not succeeded,
  • creating “moderate groups” that penetrate as a wedge into the established institutions of the society in order to create divisions,
  • and finally the coup de grâce: convincing the armed forces to betray their allegiance to the country’s constitution and turning them against the government and the people.

All these basic elements may  often be operating simultaneously. At any time complementary actions can be introduced to force the success of the Hybrid War script. For instance, sanctions can be imposed to create shortages and economic restrictions that will further create hardship among the population; or parallel entities can be created in order to undermine the legitimate ones.

In the case of Bolivia the sequence of events followed to the letter the approach to regime change by the US-backed Hybrid War script. The basic elements of the Hybrid War were accomplished in Bolivia in the short span of time after Evo Morales was elected for his fourth term as the country’s president last October 20 until his resignation on November 10.

When it became clear that Morales was winning the election, the losing opposition candidate, Carlos Mesa, claimed that electoral fraud had been committed and that he would not recognise the elections results.

The misguided intervention of the OAS publishing “preliminary observations”  before a final ballot count was done, and suggesting a second round of elections was an endorsing factor to the opposition’s claim. Neither was helpful the uncalled for interference from the government of Canada calling the presidency of Morales “illegitimate”. Taking into account the pro-US position of both the OAS and Ottawa, their involvement may have been part (or not) of the Hybrid War approach. The end result accomplished the delegitimisation of the Morales government.

Riots and street violence immediately broke out with protests that the government had not been elected by legitimate means and therefore another election was called for. Morales made several attempts to defuse the crisis by calling to dialogue and inviting the OAS to audit the election ballots. The latter may have been a political mistake considering the organisation previous blunder. In fact, the OAS concluded the audit suggesting to have another election. Morales backtracking and accepting the OAS suggestion was not enough to restore the social order.

At this point it is important to note that the Hybrid War must achieve the total annihilation of the people and progressive parties involved one way or another to the very end, and that is until regime change is achieved

In the meantime another opposition figure came to the forefront with his mission to create enough political division, but the division may also be along the race line in the Bolivian society. After all Evo Morales has been the first indigenous president in Bolivia. This is a very significant factor in a region where the indigenous population has been decimated and oppressed for the last 500 years. Luis Fernando Camacho is a white wealthy lawyer from Santa Cruz who has accused Morales of being a “tyrant” and a “dictator”, not unlike Juan Guaidó in Venezuela, with whom he has associated himself publicly. He has been involved with an organisation that has been criticised for being “paramilitary” and “racist”.

The final stroke happened on November 10 when Morales announced his resignation after 14 years as president of Bolivia apparently in response to a communiqué of the commander in chief of the Armed Forces, William Kaiman who declared:

We suggest to the president that he resign his mandate allowing the pacification and maintenance of the stability of Bolivia”.

This was the final act of this short play of a military coup in Bolivia masterminded by a US designed Hybrid War. At least for the time being.

In the case of Venezuela a coup attempted to remove democratically elected president Hugo Chavez in 2002 after he became president in 1999. That was the first strike that the US-backed Hybrid War gave to “undo” the Bolivarian Revolution but failed. Chavez remained a reelected president until his death in 2013. He was followed by president Nicolas Maduro.

Similar events to Bolivia’s had occurred after Maduro was re-elected in May 2018. Soon a vocal and violent Venezuelan opposition, supported by a group of Western countries and some rightwing Latin American governments declared Maduro’s presidency illegitimate.

What we have described in the case of Bolivia did not quite work as smoothly in Venezuela. The Hybrid War script has been basically the same including the creation of violent groups with a “moderate” façade, but the circumstances in Venezuela have been different and harder to succeed in regime change. Despite the numerous sanctions and US financial blockade, and despite the foreign recognition of a self-appointed “interim president” attempting to create a parallel entity, Nicolas Maduro remains the legitimate president democratically elected and recognised by the United Nations and about 120 nations.

Venezuela has developed a strong civic-military union supported by thousands of voluntary militias that has been the bastion against which the Hybrid War has failed despite the numerous attempts to break that union.

The National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana – FANB) have a strict abidance to the Venezuelan constitution and have not betrayed the Bolivarian Revolution in the 20 years of its existence making it impossible for the last act of the Hybrid War to take place.

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Nino Pagliccia is an activist and freelance writer based in Vancouver. He is a retired researcher from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is a Venezuelan-Canadian who follows and writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. He is the editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations” (2014). He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld

In Need of a Responsible Agriculture

November 12th, 2019 by Prof. Jacques Prescott

In Quebec, a recent parliamentary committee on pesticides uncovered the near-morbid addiction of industrial agriculture to chemical pesticides and the serious effects of these products on the environment and human health.

A shift becomes necessary.

Industrial agriculture has harmful impacts on the environment, biodiversity and human health that threaten the very survival of this industry. Yield research is driving growers to encroach on riparian strips, to use massive doses of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and to plow soils excessively.

These practices in turn cause erosion and sterilization of agricultural soils, the disappearance of pollinators, pollution of rivers and the destruction of aquatic fauna. Not to mention the loss of nutritional value and flavour of foods produced in this way and the greenhouse gas emissions caused by these practices.

As the popularity of certified organic products among the population increases, the benefits of agroecology and permaculture have been demonstrated and action is needed to address climate change, agriculture industrial industry needs to review its practices.

The following example illustrates the seriousness of the situation. Genevieve Labrie, an entomologist and researcher at the Mirabel Agri-Food Research Centre, recently conducted the country’s largest study of pests in large crops. After 5 years of monitoring at more than 800 sites in Quebec, she found that only 4% of the fields would have required an insecticide seed. Very few fields showed an abundance of insects large enough to cause damage. Why then were they treated?

Given the devastating impact of insecticides on biodiversity and human health, the results of this research should challenge all stakeholders in the agricultural world about these irresponsible practices.

A shift is needed towards responsible agriculture based on soil protection and revitalization, pollinator protection, chemical input reduction and integrated pest control. These well-known approaches are slow to take hold to the point where agricultural activity is hindering its own development by incurring unnecessary spending on farmers and the health care system. Governments, trade unions, producers and professionals must all do their part.

In the same way that foresters have incorporated notions of forest ecology and new approaches into their practice, shouldn’t farmers rethink their production methods in order to better protect citizens and ensure development of responsible agriculture? The government and agronomists have a great responsibility in this regard and must support producers in this endeavour.

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Jacques Prescott is a biologist and Associate Professor, Chaire en éco-conseil, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.

Featured image is from CounterPunch

Army generals appearing on television to demand the resignation and arrest of an elected civilian head of state seems like a textbook example of a coup. And yet that is certainly not how corporate media are presenting the weekend’s events in Bolivia.

No establishment outlet framed the action as a coup; instead, President Evo Morales “resigned” (ABC News, 11/10/19), amid widespread “protests” (CBS News, 11/10/19) from an “infuriated population” (New York Times, 11/10/19) angry at the “election fraud” (Fox News, 11/10/19) of the “full-blown dictatorship” (Miami Herald, 11/9/19). When the word “coup” is used at all, it comes only as an accusation from Morales or another official from his government, which corporate media have been demonizing since his election in 2006 (FAIR.org, 5/6/09, 8/1/12, 4/11/19).

The New York Times (11/10/19) did not hide its approval at events, presenting Morales as a power-hungry despot who had finally “lost his grip on power,” claiming he was “besieged by protests” and “abandoned by allies” like the security services. His authoritarian tendencies, the news article claimed, “worried critics and many supporters for years,” and allowed one source to claim that his overthrow marked “the end of tyranny” for Bolivia. With an apparent nod to balance, it did note that Morales “admitted no wrongdoing” and claimed he was a “victim of a coup.” By that point, however, the well had been thoroughly poisoned.

CNN (11/10/19) dismissed the results of the recent election, where Bolivia gave Morales another term in office, as beset with “accusations of election fraud,” presenting them as a farce where “Morales declared himself the winner.” Time’s report (11/10/19) presented the catalyst for his “resignation” as “protests” and “fraud allegations,” rather than being forced at gunpoint by the military. Meanwhile, CBS News (11/10/19) did not even include the word “allegations,” its headline reading, “Bolivian President Evo Morales Resigns After Election Fraud and Protests.”

Delegitimizing foreign elections where the “wrong” person wins, of course, is a favorite pastime of corporate media (FAIR.org, 5/23/18). There is a great deal of uncritical acceptance of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) opinions on elections, including in coverage of Bolivia’s October vote (e.g., BBC, 11/10/19; Vox, 11/10/19; Voice of America, 11/10/19), despite the lack of evidence to back up its assertions. No mainstream outlet warned its readers that the OAS is a Cold War organization, explicitly set up to halt the spread of leftist governments. In 1962, for example, it passed an official resolution claiming that the Cuban government was “incompatible with the principles and objectives of the inter-American system.” Furthermore, the organization is bankrolled by the US government; indeed, in justifying its continued funding, US AID argued that the OAS is a crucial tool in “promot[ing] US interests in the Western hemisphere by countering the influence of anti-US countries” like Bolivia.

In contrast, there was no coverage at all in US corporate media of the detailed new report from the independent Washington-based think tank CEPR, which claimed that the election results were “consistent” with the win totals announced. There was also scant mention of the kidnapping and torture of elected officials, the ransacking of Morales’ house, the burning of public buildings and of the indigenous Wiphala flag, all of which were widely shared on social media and would have suggested a very different interpretation of events.

Words have power. And framing an event is a powerful method of conveying legitimacy and suggesting action. “Coups,” almost by definition, cannot be supported, while “protests” generally should be. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, a conservative US-backed billionaire, has literally declared war on over a million people demonstrating against his rule. Corporate media, however, have framed that uprising not as a protest, but rather a “riot” (e.g., NBC News, 10/20/19; Reuters, 11/9/19; Toronto Sun, 11/9/19). In fact, Reuters (11/8/19) described the events as Piñera responding to “vandals” and “looters.” Who would possibly oppose that?

Morales was the first indigenous president in his majority indigenous nation—one that has been ruled by a white European elite since the days of the conquistadors. While in office, his Movement Towards Socialism party has managed to reduce poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60%, cut unemployment in half and conduct a number of impressive public works programs. Morales saw himself as part of a decolonizing wave across Latin America, rejecting neoliberalism and nationalizing the country’s key resources, spending the proceeds on health, education and affordable food for the population.

His policies drew the great ire of the US government, Western corporations and the corporate press, who function as the ideological shock troops against leftist governments in Latin America. In the case of Venezuela, Western journalists unironically call themselves “the resistance” to the government, and describe it as their No. 1 goal to “get rid of Maduro,” all the while presenting themselves as neutral and unbiased actors.

The media message from the Bolivia case is clear: A coup is not a coup if we like the outcome.

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Alan MacLeod @AlanRMacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. His latest book, Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, was published by Routledge in May 2019.

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The Workers Party (PT) ruled Brazil, mostly under the leadership of the charismatic Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or simply known as Lula, from 2003 until his successor’s impeachment in 2016. This period saw Brazil undergo major changes and advancements with an emphasis on educating the poor, providing access to healthcare for all Brazilians, poverty reduction and Latin American integration. Although the PT did not challenge the capitalist system entirely, there was an emphasis on reducing the neoliberal model that has exploited South America since Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet allowed his country to be economically ruled by this U.S.-endorsed system since the 1970’s.

The progress made by Lula saw a great reversal after his controversial arrest for allegedly engaging in corrupt practices. However, after only 580 days of incarceration in what was supposed to be a near decade long sentence, the Federal Supreme Court released the former president on Thursday from prison. His release, although initially a joyful event for progressives into South America, was quickly overshadowed by the coup taking place in Bolivia that has seen Evo Morales resign as president.

The successful coup against Morales is a setback for the re-emergence of the socialist Pink Tide order in Latin America. However, the release of Lula is likely to re-energize the entire cultural space against U.S. hegemony that has nearly completely dominated region since the mid-2010’s when the “Blue Tide” (Conservative Wave) took over Brazil, Argentina, Peru and other Latin American states in the aftermath of the Pink Tide.

There is little doubt that the news has become not only the political event of the year in Brazil, but in all of Latin America. The second half of 2019 has seen major changes and polarizations occur with major revolts in Ecuador and Chile against the ruling government’s, Mauricio Macri failure to be re-elected in Argentina, and the likelihood of a Leftist election victory in Uruguay later this month.

The majority of analysts who believe Lula is innocent claim the reason he was imprisoned was to prevent his election victory in 2018. Lula often claims that he is more than a man, but “an idea.” However, if Lula is “an idea,” this also begs the question on why the “idea” was not successful when represented by Fernando Haddad, the PT presidential candidate who failed against Jair Bolsonaro in last year’s election.

Rather, people are more likely to follow people than ideologies. Lula is incorrect to call himself “an idea,” and rather he is an icon or a symbol. The symbol of Lula is one of hope for the poorest and progressives of Latin America, and his “idea” can only be continued through him since he has built a symbology behind his persona. Therefore, the meaning behind his release, many years earlier than originally sentenced, has a tremendous meaning across the region. Even Bolsonaro had to resign to the fact that he “would not be here” as president if Lula had not been imprisoned by then judge Sérgio Moro – Brazil’s current Minister of Justice.

Lula’s freedom is without a doubt a major shock to the reactionary forces operating in Brazil with full encouragement and endorsement by Bolsonaro. It is for this reason that former U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategist and adviser Steve Bannon criticized the release of Lula, calling him “one of the most cynical and corrupt politicians in the world,” claiming the release of Lula will bring a return of corruption to Brazil. Although Bannon is a former adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, he still wields great amount of influence and power in Washington DC and recently even cancelled trips to Brazil, England, Italy and Australia to structure a task force to fight against the impeachment process against Trump.

And of course, the “return of corruption” to Brazil is a ludicrous claim made by Bannon, especially when considering he has been a staunch defender and endorser of Bolsonaro and has elevated Eduardo Bolsonaro, a son of the Brazilian president, to the main representative of South America in “The Movement,” a consortium of European representatives who support right-wing nationalist populism while defending exploitative economic policies. Bannon’s ideological extremism defends “economic nationalism,” but it is not confused with neoliberalism or globalism. His extremist economic nationalism conceptually cannot cross the borders of the American empire, but as mere rhetoric, as it is incompatible with economic policies that promote the economic and social development of any other state. However, Bannon of course did not mention that Bolsonaro, his sons and his aides have been involved in endless scandals and corruption cases since January this year.

Although Bannon may not be involved with the Trump administration at an official level, there is little doubt that he has always been the bridge between Trump and the Bolsonaro family. Therefore, Bannon quickly coming out to denounce Lula after his release from prison can suggest that his release will be a major concern for Washington.

Why?

Lula certainly did not wait long before firing shots at the defenders of U.S. unilateralism in Latin America after his release from prison, stating: “The so-called Left that Bolsonaro fears so much will defeat the extreme Right – Brazil does not deserve the government it has,” citing unemployment rates, attacks on education and the poor, and the “lies” by Bolsonaro. He also had a look at the Latin American situation, praising Chile’s protests and called for solidarity with the Chilean people, while also showing his support for Evo Morales and denouncing Trump.

This was the Lula that Brazilians had fallen in love with. They fell in love with a leader who had no fear to speak his mind. It is not the destructive Bolsonaro’s way that attacks Brazil’s minorities and most vulnerable, but Lula’s way that attacks the forces that kept Brazil poor and subservient to Washington, and those who also prevent efforts for Latin American cooperation and integration.

It is for this reason that Lula also immediately addressed the Puebla Group, a regional body that brings together 32 progressive leaders from twelve countries that held its second meeting in Buenos Aires over the weekend.

In his message to the Puebla Group, Lula was firm in announcing that he will fight “the rotten side of the Judiciary, the rotten side of the Federal Police, the Public Ministry and Brazilian companies,” and that “It is important that we have courage and face them, because the Latin American elite is a very conservative elite and does not accept the idea of ​​a poor people up the ladder of social conquests.”

However, his most startling revelations was that he has “the objective of constituting a very strong Latin American regional integration […] with the dream of building our great Latin America.”

It is this very goal of uniting Latin America to ensure the regions sovereignty and economic independence that U.S. puppets like Bolsonaro and international populists like Bannon critically has worried about Lula’s release. With Bolsonaro and Bannon worried by Lula, it can only be a matter of time until we see efforts to put Lula back in prison, potentially with Trump’s endorsement, occur again.

Although there are real efforts in maintaining the Blue Tide in Latin America, especially with the latest coup against Morales, it appears that the path towards Pink Tide 2.0 is still firmly paved, especially with Lula’s release from prison. Not only was he a symbol in Brazil, but he was a symbol across of Latin American unity and integration, alongside the equally charismatic Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. There can be little doubt that Lula’s release from prison will not only embolden progressive leaders in Latin America, but it will help reduce U.S. hegemony in the region.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

Over the past days, Syria’s northeast has been the main point of instability in the war-torn country.

On November 10, the Turkish-backed coalition of militant groups, the Syrian National Army, announced that it was resuming it offensive in the area. The group justified this move by claiming that the Kurdish People Protection Units and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which are the core of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, violate the safe-zone agreement reached by Ankara and Moscow. According to the Turkish version of the events, Kurdish rebels did not fully with draw from the border area and continued attacks on positions of Turkish-led forces and civilians.

Since November 9, pro-Turkish militants, backed by the Turkish Army, have carried out offensive actions in northeastern al-Hassakah. Especially intense clashes took place near the villages of Umm Sha’Fah, Daldarh, Tell Ward and Arab Khan. Turkish artillery strikes hit several targets between the towns of Tell Tamr and Ras al-Ayn. At least 5 Syrian Army soldiers were killed and 26 others were injured in the clashes. The casualties of the SDF remain unclear. Nonetheless, Turkish-led forces were not able to make any gains.

Watch the video here.

On November 9, 2 civilians were killed and five others were injured in a strike by Turkish combat drone on the village of al-Hishah, southeast of Ain Issa. Separately, pro-Kurdish sources claimed that a Turkish airstrike hit an ambulance near Tell Tamr. Pro-Turkish sources denounce such reports as fake news or claim that Kurdish rebels use civilian clothes and use civilians as human shields.

At the same time, the situation inside the Turkish-occupied part of Syria also remains unstable. Late on November 9, a series of airstrikes targeted an alleged ISIS headquarters in the vicinity of Kafra in northern Aleppo. Kafra is located in only 10km east of the stronghold of Turkish-backed forces – Azaz.

On November 10, a large blast rocked the town of Suluk, northern Raqqa, which was occupied by Turkish forces last month. According to reports, an explosion of car bomb injured or killed at least 7 people.

The ‘withdrawing’ US forces are increasing their presence across eastern Syria. Videos appeared online show that the US military has recently reinforced its contingent with Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. Mainstream media speculate that Abrams battle tanks will be deployed to reinforce key oil-rich areas later.

Idlib militant groups violated the ceasefire regime in the Greater Idlib de-escalation zone about 600 times in October, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported. On November 7 and 8, Syrian and Russian warplanes were bombing positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and allied militant groups in northern Lattakia and southern Idlib. The strikes were aimed at deterring radicals that have been preparing for a new attack on Syrian Army south of the town of Kbani.

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It has been a week of appalling abuses committed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank – little different from the other 2,670 weeks endured by Palestinians since the occupation began in 1967.

The difference this past week was that several entirely unexceptional human rights violations that had been caught on film went viral on social media.

One shows a Palestinian father in the West Bank city of Hebron leading his son by the hand to kindergarten. The pair are stopped by two heavily armed soldiers, there to help enforce the rule of a few hundred illegal Jewish settlers over the city’s Palestinian population.

The soldiers scream at the father, repeatedly and violently push him and then grab his throat as they accuse his small son of throwing stones. As the father tries to shield his son from the frightening confrontation, one soldier pulls out his rifle and sticks it in the father’s face.

It is a minor incident by the standards of Israel’s long-running belligerent occupation. But it powerfully symbolises the unpredictable, humiliating, terrifying and sometimes deadly experiences faced daily by millions of Palestinians.

A video of another such incident emerged last week. A Palestinian man is ordered to leave an area by an armed Israeli policewoman. He turns and walks slowly away, his hands in the air. Moments later she shoots a sponge-tipped bullet into his back. He falls to the ground, writhing in agony.

It is unclear whether the man was being used for target practice or simply for entertainment.

The reason such abuses are so commonplace is that they are almost never investigated – and even less often are those responsible punished.

It is not simply that Israeli soldiers become inured to the suffering they inflict on Palestinians daily. It is the soldiers’ very duty to crush the Palestinians’ will for freedom, to leave them utterly hopeless. That is what is required of an army policing a population permanently under occupation.

The message is only underscored by the impunity the soldiers enjoy. Whatever they do, they have the backing not only of their commanders but of the government and courts.

Just that point was underlined late last month. An unnamed Israeli army sniper was convicted of shooting dead a 14-year-old boy in Gaza last year. The Palestinian child had been participating in one of the weekly protests at the perimeter fence.

Such trials and convictions are a great rarity. Despite damning evidence showing that Uthman Hillis was shot in the chest with a live round while posing no threat, the court sentenced the sniper to the equivalent of a month’s community service.

In Israel’s warped scales of justice, the cost of a Palestinian child’s life amounts to no more than a month of extra kitchen duties for his killer.

But the overwhelming majority of the 220 Palestinian deaths at the Gaza fence over the past 20 months will never be investigated. Nor will the wounding of tens of thousands more Palestinians, many of them now permanently disabled.

There is an equally disturbing trend. The Israeli public have become so used to seeing YouTube videos of soldiers – their sons and daughters – abuse Palestinians that they now automatically come to the soldiers’ defence, however egregious the abuses.

The video of the father and son threatened in Hebron elicited few denunciations. Most Israelis rallied behind the soldiers. Amos Harel, a military analyst for the liberal Haaretz newspaper, observed that an “irreversible process” was under way among Israelis: “The soldiers are pure and any criticism of them is completely forbidden.”

When the Israeli state offers impunity to its soldiers, the only deterrence is the knowledge that such abuses are being monitored and recorded for posterity – and that one day these soldiers may face real accountability, in a trial for war crimes.

But Israel is working hard to shut down those doing the investigating – human rights groups.

For many years Israel has been denying United Nations monitors – including international law experts like Richard Falk and Michael Lynk – entry to the occupied territories in a blatant bid to stymie their human rights work.

Last week Human Rights Watch, headquartered in New York, also felt the backlash. The Israeli supreme court approved the deportation of Omar Shakir, its Israel-Palestine director.

Before his appointment by HRW, Shakir had called for a boycott of the businesses in illegal Jewish settlements. The judges accepted the state’s argument: he broke Israeli legislation that treats Israel and the settlements as indistinguishable and forbids support for any kind of boycott.

But Shakir rightly understands that the main reason Israel needs soldiers in the West Bank – and has kept them there oppressing Palestinians for more than half a century – is to protect settlers who were sent there in violation of international law.

The collective punishment of Palestinians, such as restrictions on movement and the theft of resources, was inevitable the moment Israel moved the first settlers into the West Bank. That is precisely why it is a war crime for a state to transfer its population into occupied territory.

But Shakir had no hope of a fair hearing. One of the three judges in his case, Noam Sohlberg, is himself just such a lawbreaker. He lives in Alon Shvut, a settlement near Hebron.

Israel’s treatment of Shakir is part of a pattern. In recent days other human rights groups have faced the brunt of Israel’s vindictiveness.

Laith Abu Zeyad, a Palestinian field worker for Amnesty International, was recently issued a travel ban, denying him the right to attend a relative’s funeral in Jordan. Earlier he was refused the right to accompany his mother for chemotherapy in occupied East Jerusalem.

And last week Arif Daraghmeh, a Palestinian field worker for B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, was seized at a checkpoint and questioned about his photographing of the army’s handling of Palestinian protests. Daraghmeh had to be taken to hospital after being forced to wait in the sun.

It is a sign of Israel’s overweening confidence in its own impunity that it so openly violates the rights of those whose job it is to monitor human rights.

Palestinians, meanwhile, are rapidly losing the very last voices prepared to stand up and defend them against the systematic abuses associated with Israel’s occupation. Unless reversed, the outcome is preordained: the rule of the settlers and soldiers will grow ever more ruthless, the repression ever more ugly.

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A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “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.jonathan-cook.net. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: Palestinian take cover as Israeli forces fire at protesters at the Gaza border on 14 December 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Released Lula in for Greatest Fight of His Life

November 12th, 2019 by Pepe Escobar

He’s back. With a bang.

Only two days after his release from a federal prison in Curitiba, southern Brazil, following a narrow 6×5 decision by the Supreme Court, former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva delivered a fiery, 45-minute long speech in front of the Metal Workers Union in Sao Bernardo, outside of Sao Paulo, and drawing on his unparalleled political capital, called all Brazilians to stage nothing short of a social revolution.

When my colleagues Mauro Lopes, Paulo Leite and myself interviewed Lula at the federal prison, it was his Day 502 in a cell. By August, it was impossible to predict that release would happen on Day 580, in early November.

His first speech to the nation after the prison saga – which is far from over – could never be solemn; in fact he promised a detailed address for the near future. What he did, in his trademark conversationalist style, was to immediately go on the offensive taking down a long list of every possible enemy in the book: those who have mired Brazil into an “anti-people agenda.” In terms of a fully improvised, passionate political address, this is already anthology material.

Lula detailed the current “terrible conditions” for Brazilian workers. He ripped to pieces the economic program – basically a monster sell-out – of Finance Minister Paulo Guedes, a Chicago boy and Pinochetist who’s applying the same failed hardcore neoliberal prescriptions now being denounced and scorned every day in the streets of Chile.

He detailed how the Brazilian right wing openly bet on neo-fascism, which is the form that neoliberalism recently took in Brazil. He blasted mainstream media, in the form of the so far all-powerful, ultra-reactionary Globo empire. In a stance of semiotic genius, Lula pointed to Globo’s helicopter hovering over the masses gathered for the speech, implying the organization is too cowardly to get close to him on ground level.

And, significantly, he got right into the heart of the Bolsonaro question: the militias. It’s no secret to informed Brazilians that the Bolsonaro clan, with its origins in the Veneto, is behaving as a sort of cheap, crude, eschatological carbon copy of the Sopranos, running a system heavy on militias and supported by the Brazilian military. Lula described the president of one of the top nations in the Global South as no less than a militia leader. That will stick – all around the world.

So much for “Lula peace and love,” which used to be one of his cherished mottos. No more conciliation. Bolsonaro now has to face real, fierce, solid opposition, and cannot run away from public debate any more.

Lula’s prison journey has been an extraordinary liberating experience – turning a previously wounded statesman into a fearless warrior mixing the Tao with Steppenwolf (as sketched in Herman Hesse’s book). He’s free like he’s never been before – and he said so, explicitly. The question is how he will be able to muster the organizational work, the method – and have enough time to change the dire conditions for democratic opposition in Brazil. The whole Global South is watching.

At least now the die is cast – and crystal clear: It’s social democracy against neo-fascism. Socially inclusive programs, civil society involved in setting public policy, the fight for  equality versus autocracy, state institutions linked to militias, racism and hate against all minorities. Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, to their credit, have offered Lula their unconditional support. In contrast, Steve Bannon is losing sleep, qualifying Lula as “the poster boy of the globalist Left” across the world.

This all goes way beyond Left Populism – as Slavoj Zizek and Chantal Mouffe, among others, have been trying to conceptualize it. Lula, assuming he remains free, is now ready to be the supreme catalyst of an integrated, progressive, “pro-people” New Global Left.

‘Cocaine Evangelistan’

Now for the really nasty bits.

I saw Lula’s speech deep into the night in snow stormed Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan’s capital, in the heart of the steppes, a land trespassed against by the greatest nomad empires in history. The temptation was to picture Lula as a fearless snow leopard roaming the devastated steppes of urban wastelands.

Yet snow leopards, crucially, are a species threatened with extinction.

After the speech I had serious conversations with two top interlocutors, Bern-based analyst Romulus Maya and anthropologist Piero Leirner, a crack authority on the Brazilian military. The picture they painted was realistically gloomy. Here it is, in a nutshell.

When I visited Brasilia last August, several informed sources confirmed that the majority of the Brazilian Supreme Court is bought and paid for. After all, they de facto legitimized all the absurdities that have been taking place in Brazil since 2014. The absurdities were part of a hyper-complex, slow-motion, rolling hybrid war coup that, under the cloak of a corruption investigation, led to the dismantling of industrial national champions such as Petrobras; the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff on spurious charges; and the jailing of Lula, the work of judge, jury and executioner Sergio Moro, now Bolsonaro’s justice minister, who was completely unmasked by The Intercept’s revelations.

The Brazilian military are all over the Supreme Court. Remember, Lula’s liberation happened after a narrow 6 to 5 score. Legally, it was impossible to keep him in prison: the Supreme Court actually bothered to read the Brazilian Constitution.

But there are no structural changes whatsoever on the horizon. The project remains a Brazil sell-out – coupled with a thinly veiled military dictatorship. Brazil remains a lowly US colony. So Lula is out of jail essentially because this system allowed it.

The military abide by Bolsonaro’s abysmal incompetence because he cannot even go to the toilet without permission from General Heleno, the head of the GSI, the Brazilian version of the National Security Council. On Saturday, a scared Bolsonaro asked the top military brass for help after Lula’s release. And crucially, in a tweet, he defined Lula as a “scoundrel” who was “momentarily” free.

It’s this “momentarily” that gives away the game. Lula’s murky juridical situation is far from decided. In a harrowing but perfectly plausible short-term scenario, Lula could in fact be sent back to jail – but this time in isolation, in a maximum security federal prison, or even inside a military barracks; after all, he’s a former chief of the armed forces.

The full focus of Lula’s defense is now to have Moro disqualified. Anyone with a brain who’s been through The Intercept’s revelations can clearly identify Moro’s corruption. If that happens, and that’s a major “if,” Lula’s already existing convictions will be declared null and void. But there are others lawsuits, eight in total. This is total lawfare territory.

The military’s trump card is all about “terrorism” – associated with Lula and the Workers Party. If Lula, according to the harrowing scenario, is sent back to a federal prison, that could be in Brasilia, which not by accident holds the entire leadership of the PCC, or “First Command of the Capital”– the largest Brazilian criminal organization.

Maya and Leirner have shown how the PCC is allied with the military and the US Deep State, via their asset Moro, to establish not a Pax Brasilica but what they have described as a “Cocaine Evangelistan” – complete with terrorist false flags blamed on Lula’s command.

Leirner has exhaustively studied how the generals, for over a decade on their website, have been trying to associate the PCC with the Workers’ Party. And the association extends to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Hezbollah and the Bolivians. Yes, this all comes straight from His Masters’ Voice’s playbook.

Lula, Putin and Xi

With the military betting on a strategy of chaos, augmented by Lula’s immense social base all over Brazil fuming about his return to prison and the financial bubble finally burst, rendering the middle classes even poorer, the stage would be set for the ultimate toxic cocktail: social “commotion” allied with “terrorism” associated with “organized crime.”

That’s all the military needs to launch an extensive operation to restore “order” and finally force Congress to approve the Brazilian version of the Patriot Act (five separate bills are already making their way in Congress).

This is no conspiracy theory. This is a measure of how incendiary Brazil is at the moment, and Western mainstream media will make no effort whatsoever to explain the nasty, convoluted plot for a global audience.

Leirner goes to the heart of the matter when he says the current system has no reason to retreat because its side is winning. They are not afraid of Brazil turning into Chile. And even if that ends up happening, they already have a culprit: Lula. Brazilian mainstream media are already releasing trial balloons – blaming Lula for the spike of the US dollar and the rise of inflation.

Lula and the Brazilian Left should invest in a full spectrum offensive.

The 9th BRICS summit takes place in Brazil this week. A master counter-coup would be to organize an off-the-record, extremely discreet, heavily securitized meeting among Lula, Putin and Xi Jinping, for instance in an embassy in Brasilia. Putin and Xi are Lula’s real top allies on the global stage. They have been literally waiting for Lula, as diplomats have confirmed to me over and over again.

If Lula follows a restricted script of merely reorganizing the Left, in Brazil, Latin America and even the Global South, the military system currently in place will swallow him whole all over again. The Left is infiltrated – everywhere. Now it’s total war. Assuming Lula remains free, he most certainly won’t be allowed to run again for the presidency in 2022. But that’s no problem. He’s got to be extra-bold – and he will be. Better not mess with the Steppenwolf.

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This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

The date 11 November is well-known and commemorated in many parts of the world because it marks the Armistice ending World War I – ‘the Great War’ – in 1918.

In the evocative words used by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an atheist humanist, in his novel Breakfast of Champions, the day is remembered thus:

‘When I was a boy … all the people of all the nations which fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was at that minute in nineteen-hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields at that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.’

And what, exactly, did God (by whatever name: Allah, Krishna, Yahweh…) or the Gods say? we might ask. Well even those who profess little more than scant knowledge of religious texts that purport to represent the word of God might suggest that s/he simply breathed a (silent) sigh of relief that the insanity of mass warfare had ended. For now at least.

For those of us concerned with the struggle to create cultures of peace or, even, a world culture of peace, there are some fundamental questions to consider including the classic question discussed by two of humanity’s greats – Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud – when they tackled the question Why War?’

Of course, as many people now understand it, peace entails far more than simply a state without military (including terrorist) violence and war. Beyond these forms of violence, many exponents of peace seek the end of other dimensions of what I call ‘visible’ violence, including:

  1. Direct violence that goes beyond military violence, such as ‘biological violence’ (that is, violence against the body) in the family home and as a result of violent crime as well as ‘physical violence’ (that is, constraints on movement). See ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research’.
  2. Institutional violence: socially endorsed violence including that inflicted by parents, teachers, police, legal and prison systems – see ‘Punishment is Violent and Counterproductive’ and ‘The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent’– and which now manifests in a myriad other forms with the emergence of the surveillance state that spies on and gathers endless data on individuals to build substantial personal profiles on each – linking many personal records including those related to health and financial matters with political activities and consumption patterns – in violation of any basic understanding of, or commitment to, human rights in their many political, economic, social, cultural and other forms.
  3. Structural violence which Mohandas K. Gandhi originally identified when making his observation that ‘exploitation isviolence’ and Professor Johan Galtung – see ‘A Structural Theory of Imperialism’ and ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research’– later elaborated as violence built into structures, such as capitalism and imperialism, that deprive some people of the opportunities to live full and meaningful lives and manifest, for example, as poverty, homelessness and the economic exploitation of people who live in Africa, Asia and Central/South America. And
  4. Ecological violence: those activities ranging from destruction of the climate and rainforests to the killing of insects and wildlife that constitute destruction of the biosphere.

Of course, these categories are not mutually exclusive but they serve to illustrate categories of violence not always recognized as such.

Apart from these forms of ‘visible’ violence Professor Johan Galtung also identified the importance of psychological violence– ‘lies, brainwashing, indoctrination of various kinds, threats, etc. that serve to decrease mental potentialities’ see ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research’– and coined the term ‘cultural violence’ to describe ‘those aspects of culture, the symbolic sphere of our existence – exemplified by religion and ideology, language and art, empirical science and formal science (logic, mathematics) – that can be used to justify or legitimize direct or structural violence’. See ‘Cultural Violence’.

Beyond these and other categories of violence – including patriarchy and racism as specific manifestations of violence that are, arguably, simultaneously direct, structural and cultural – which stand between humanity and a culture of peace, there are two other categories of violence which I will argue it is necessary to end before we can make profound inroads in ending those mentioned above.

These two categories – which I have labeled ‘invisible’ violence and ‘utterly invisible’ violence – describe vitally important categories of violence which human adults inflict on children. Moreover, complemented by the ‘visible’ violence that adults inflict on children, it is this ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence which destroys the unique human individual who was created during a nine-month gestation period and turns them into a ‘socially constructed delusional identity’ who submissively fulfils the extraordinarily limited expectations of their particular adult world and, with only rare exceptions, willingly participates in many if not all of the other forms of violence that torment our world and certainly includes inflicting invisible and utterly invisible violence on their own children. Which is why the cycle of violence goes on.

Why is this?

Because society is preoccupied with producing submissively obedient students, workers, soldiers, citizens (that is, taxpayers and voters) and consumers. Hence, the last thing society wants is powerful individuals who are each capable of searching their conscience, feeling their emotional response to events, thinking critically and behaving strategically in response. For that reason our parenting and education models use a ruthless combination of visible, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence to ensure that our children become terrified, self-hating and powerless individuals like virtually all of the adults around them.

How does this happen? What is this ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence?

Perpetrators of violence learn their craft in childhood. If you inflict violence on a child, they learn to inflict violence on others. The political leaders who decide to wage war, the military leaders who plan and conduct it, as well as the soldiers, sailors and aircraft personnel who fight war each suffered violence as a child. The terrorist suffered violence as a child. The man who inflicts violence on his partner suffered violence as a child. The corporate executive who exploits working class people and/or those who live in Africa, Asia or Central/South America suffered violence as a child. The racist or religious bigot suffered violence as a child. The individual who perpetrates violence in the home, in the schoolyard or on the street suffered violence as a child. The individual who overconsumes, or even consumes certain products, and/or otherwise destroys the biosphere, suffered violence as a child.

If we want to end violence in all of its manifestations and create a culture of peace, locally and globally, then we must finally end our longest and greatest war: the adult war on children. And here is an additional incentive: if we do not tackle the fundamental cause of violence, then our combined and unrelenting efforts to tackle all of its other symptoms must ultimately fail. And extinction at our own hand is inevitable.

How can I claim that violence against children is the fundamental cause of all other violence? Consider this. There is universal acceptance that behaviour is shaped by childhood experience. If it was not, we would not put such effort into education and other efforts to socialize children to ‘fit into’ their society. And this is why many psychologists have argued that exposure to war toys and violent video games shapes attitudes and behaviours in relation to violence.

But it is far more complex than this and, strange though it may seem, it is not just the ‘visible’ violence (such as hitting, screaming at and sexually abusing) that we normally label ‘violence’ that causes the main damage, although this is extremely damaging. The largest component of damage arises from the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that we adults unconsciously inflict on children during the ordinary course of the day. Tragically, the bulk of this violence occurs in the family home and at school. See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

So what is ‘invisible’ violence? It is the ‘little things’ we do every day, partly because we are just ‘too busy’. For example, when we do not allow time to listen to, and value, a child’s thoughts and feelings, the child learns to not listen to themSelf thus destroying their internal communication system. When we do not let a child say what they want (or ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and behavioral dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own needs (which, as a basic survival strategy, they are genetically programmed to do).

When we blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe, blackmail, moralize with and/or judge a child, we both undermine their sense of Self-worth and teach them to blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie, bribe, blackmail, moralize and/or judge.

The fundamental outcome of being bombarded throughout their childhood by this ‘invisible’ violence is that the child is utterly overwhelmed by feelings of fear, pain, anger and sadness (among many others). However, mothers, fathers, teachers, religious figures and other adults also actively interfere with the expression of these feelings and the behavioral responses that are naturally generated by them and it is this ‘utterly invisible’ violence that explains why the dysfunctional behavioral outcomes actually occur.

For example, by ignoring a child when they express their feelings, by comforting, reassuring or distracting a child when they express their feelings, by laughing at or ridiculing their feelings, by terrorizing a child into not expressing their feelings (for example, by screaming at them when they cry or get angry), and/or by violently controlling a behavior that is generated by their feelings (for example, by hitting them, restraining them or locking them into a room), the child has no choice but to unconsciously suppress their awareness of these feelings.

However, once a child has been terrorized into suppressing their awareness of their feelings (rather than being allowed to have their feelings and to act on them) the child has also unconsciously suppressed their awareness of the reality that caused these feelings. This has many outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for nature because the individual will now easily suppress their awareness of the feelings that would tell them how to act most functionally in any given circumstance and they will progressively acquire a phenomenal variety of dysfunctional behaviors, including some that are violent towards themself, others and/or the Earth.

From the above, it should also now be apparent that punishment should never be used. ‘Punishment’, of course, is one of the words we use to obscure our awareness of the fact that we are using violence. Violence, even when we label it ‘punishment’, scares children and adults alike and cannot elicit a functional behavioural response. See ‘Punishment is Violent and Counterproductive’.

If someone behaves dysfunctionally, they need to be listened to, deeply, so that they can start to become consciously aware of the feelings (which will always include fear and, often, terror) that drove the dysfunctional behaviour in the first place. They then need to feel and express these feelings (including any anger) in a safe way. Only then will behavioural change in the direction of functionality be possible. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

‘But these adult behaviors you have described don’t seem that bad. Can the outcome be as disastrous as you claim?’ you might ask. The problem is that there are hundreds of these ‘ordinary’, everyday behaviors that destroy the Selfhood of the child. It is ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and most children simply do not survive as Self-aware individuals. And why do we do this? As mentioned above, we do it so that each child will fit into our model of ‘the perfect citizen’: that is, obedient and hardworking student, reliable and pliant employee/soldier, and submissive law-abiding citizen (that is, one who pays their taxes and votes and/or lobbies politicians).

Moreover, once we destroy the Selfhood of a child, it has many flow-on effects. For example, once you terrorize a child into accepting certain information about themself, other people or the state of the world, the child becomes unconsciously fearful of dealing with new information, especially if this information is contradictory to what they have been terrorized into believing. As a result, the child will unconsciously dismiss new information out of hand.

In short, the child has been terrorized in such a way that they are no longer capable of learning (or their learning capacity is seriously diminished by excluding any information that is not a simple extension of what they already ‘know’). If you imagine any of the bigots you know, you are imagining someone who is utterly terrified. But it’s not just the bigots; virtually all people are affected in this manner making them incapable of responding adequately to new (or even important) information. This is one explanation why some people are ‘climate deniers’, most people do nothing in response to the climate catastrophe and even those people who do take action usually do so ineffectively. See ‘The Global Climate Movement is Failing: Why?’

But the same can be said for those working to end war – see ‘The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War’ – end the nuclear weapons race or engage in other struggles, including liberation struggles, that are vital parts of the global struggle to create a culture of peace. See ‘Why Activists Fail’.

To briefly reiterate this vital point (that each child has been terrorized in such a way that they are no longer capable of learning or their learning capacity is seriously diminished): The multifaceted violence inflicted throughout childhood and adolescence ensures that the adult who emerges is suppressing awareness of an enormous amount of fear, pain, sadness and anger (among many other feelings) and must live in delusion to remain unaware of these suppressed feelings. This ensures that, as part of their delusion, the individual develops a strong sense that what they are doing already is functional and working (no matter how dysfunctional and ineffective it may actually be) while unconsciously suppressing awareness of any evidence that contradicts their delusion. They do this because, unconsciously, people learn to identify obedience with ‘functional and working’ (because they do not get punished for being obedient). See Why Violence?, Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice,‘Do We Want School or Education?’ and ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

As an aside, if you want to read more evidence of humanity’s ‘love’ for our children and get a clearer sense of just how deeply violence is buried in human society, see ‘Humanity’s “Dirty Little Secret”: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children’.

Just one horrific outcome of this violence against children is that our planet is run by a global elite that is completely insane. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’. And this elite plays a key role in driving many of the more obvious manifestations of violence in our world.

Responding to Violence Strategically to Create a World Culture of Peace

However we define the many positive elements of a culture of peace – which will presumably include an inclusive philosophy of society, a cooperative set of social relations, nonviolent methods for dealing with conflict and sustainable patterns of matter-energy use while allowing universal human access to the resources necessary to maintain health and well-being, opportunities for meaningful political and economic engagement as well as cultural opportunities in art, literature and music among its many other forms, while engaging sustainably with the biosphere to enhance life-opportunities for all other species – this culture of peace can only be achieved if we respond strategically to the violence in our world.

And this means that we must address the fundamental cause of human violence because this drives violence in each and all of its other dimensions. For those adults powerful enough to do this, there is an explanation in ‘Putting Feelings First’. And for those adults committed to facilitating children’s efforts to realize their potential and become self-aware (rather than delusional), see ‘My Promise to Children’.

Creating a culture of peace, therefore, relies fundamentally on understanding the critical role of suppressed feelings (emotions) in shaping deep culture and generating conflicts, including violent conflicts, and then taking action that addresses this cause.

This includes the need to understand and deal effectively with those emotions that are being acted out dysfunctionally and/or being projected – see ‘The Psychology of Projection in Conflict’ – in a particular context, which is standard human behaviour in many situations. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’. Otherwise, that most fundamental of emotions – fear – will continue to drive most cultural predispositions and conflicts in all contexts and make genuine resolution of conflicts virtually impossible. This is because it is only if people are not afraid that discussions about ideas in relation to making culture evolve as we plan (rather than unconsciously or as elites direct) and to resolve conflict nonviolently, become easily possible.

Fundamentally, our parenting and education models fail utterly to produce people of conscience, people who are emotionally functional, people who are capable of critical analysis, people who care and people who can plan and respond to violence strategically. As Professor Galtung noted just recently, ‘While we are busy exploring whether there is intelligent life on other planets, we might spend more time – and intelligence – exploring whether there is [intelligent life] on ours.’ See ‘United States vs Moby Dick’. The problem is that once we terrorize a child, the terrified adult who emerges from childhood behaves as guided by their (unconscious) fear, not by any intelligence they may possess. Again, this is routinely illustrated by the failure of even those who self-label as ‘activists’ to think, plan and act strategically. See ‘Why Activists Fail’.

Of course, we do not need to work on ending violence against children in isolation. We can campaign to end other manifestations of violence – such as war, nuclear weapons and power, economic exploitation, ecological violence in its many forms including geoengineering and the deployment of 5G, violence against women and indigenous peoples, occupations and dictatorships – at the same time. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy and Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

But if we work to end the many manifestations of violence while failing to address the fundamental cause then, ultimately, we must fail, even if we elongate our timeframe a little. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

If you are also interested in working locally to reduce your consumption and become more self-reliant, in order to reduce your ecological violence, consider participating in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth.

Alternatively, if you want something simpler, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge 

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation above)
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

And you might wish to join the worldwide movement of people working to end all violence by signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

Conclusion

The foundation of our violent world is the unending visible, invisible and utterly invisible violence that human adults inflict on our children. For that reason, it does not matter what superstructure we build on top of this foundation. Whether we use capitalism (and ‘democracy’), socialism or any other political-economic-social model, tack on a New Green Deal or a Just Transition, while the violent foundation on which society is built – violence against children – remains unaddressed, a culture of peace cannot be created.

So we need to raise children in a culture that does not involve terrorizing them so that they end up perceiving violence as the primary way to address conflict because they are too scared to simply perceive the power of, and use, principled nonviolent options.

Hence, until our parenting and teaching models are radically altered, a culture of peace will remain an impossible dream. And human extinction in the near term is inevitable.

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Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of Why Violence? His email address is [email protected] and his website is here. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Neoliberalism: The Idea vs. the Historical Practice

November 12th, 2019 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

The following extended article will appear in the next issue of ‘Z’ magazine. It is a summary of the major themes and articles in chapters 1 & 2 of my just released book, ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy from Reagan to Trump’, now available for purchase at discount from the book icon on this blog page, via Paypal, and from the icon on the front web page of Dr. Rasmus’s website.

Hundreds of books and articles, perhaps thousands, have been written to date on the meaning and consequences of what’s called Neoliberalism. But clarity as to what it means, what has driven its evolution for the past four decades, and what’s its likely future trajectory remain insufficient at best.

Critics of Neoliberalism have yet to explain it fully or adequately. They are therefore unable to say little about its future evolution.

Some key questions that remain unanswered are: Has Neoliberalism been unraveling since the 2008-09 recent economic crisis and the slow growth, often stagnant recovery that followed? Is it being restored under Trump? Will it survive the next capitalist crisis almost certain to occur by the early 2020s? What are the material forces maturing within 21st century capitalist economy that will precipitate and drive that next crisis, and will Neoliberalism be able to successfully adapt? If not, what ideas and policies might replace the current Neoliberal era (1979-2019) of capitalism?

Most analyses concur that Neoliberalism represents an economic shift introduced by capitalists and their political elites—initially in the US and UK—in response to the crisis capitalism encountered in the 1970s decade. In other words, it has something to do with capitalist economy in crisis.

Other accounts attempt to explain its origins and evolution primarily from the perspective of an Idea that inspired, defined, and enabled US and UK capitalist-elites’ to respond successfully to the 1970s crisis.

Still others explain Neoliberalism as an historical practice, i.e. as a new regime of policies introduced in the late 1970s in the US and UK—later adopted by other capitalist economies worldwide to varying degree and form—-that emphasizes austerity in government spending and reliance in policy matters on free markets.

But all that doesn’t really tell us much. Defined that way leaves its meaning still opaque and ambiguous-—and therefore able to predict where and how Neoliberalism may evolve in the future.

The analysis of Neoliberalism to date has produced so many interpretations, often contradictory, that readers remain confused as to what exactly it means. Is it about introducing free market principles into economic and social policy? Is it about austerity in fiscal spending? Is it just a substitute term for what was formerly referred to as Imperialism abroad and class exploitation at home? As one analysis concluded, “imprecision would seem to characterize its use, sometimes even among those for whom the concept is central to their analysis, and its over-use is seen to have resulted in a loss of analytical value.”

The Ideology of Neoliberalism

According to those approaching Neoliberalism from the perspective of the evolution of an Idea, the Neoliberal Idea originates around mid-20th century among ultra conservative intellectuals like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman in economics; in the philosophy of radical individualism by Karl Popper and Robert Nozick; and later in policy proposals from right-wing pundits like Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol and Robert Kagan—to name but a few or the more notable.

As these intellectual originators viewed it, their task was to adapt, repackage and resell some of the main tenets of classical liberalism. To plant and nurture the seeds of new ideas, and counterpose those ideas to the prevailing dominant Keynesian economic and social compact views that prevailed after world war II. The new ideas would be resurrected classic Liberal ideas adapted to the post-war environment. New ideas that were new-Liberal or Neoliberal, designed to displace the dominant Keynesian-social compact ideas of the period and encourage and usher in a new set of policies based on the new ideas that would, in effect, represent a return pre-Keynesian, pre-social compact ideas once again, now adapted to the post-war reality. It was to be old classic Liberal wine in the new Neoliberal bottle.

But is Neoliberalism actually ‘Liberal’? How does it compare with the classic liberal economic and social theory ideas of the 17th-18th century? Neoliberalism as an Idea claims it is based on classic liberal ideas of free markets and individual freedom. It claims that by adapting classic liberal principles and propositions to new economic and social policies the new policies will succeed in promoting economic growth and stability, whereas the old Keynesian-collectivist policies failed to do so. Thus it is Neoliberal Ideas that drove the eventual policies that came to be known as ‘Reaganomics’ in the US and ‘Thatcherism’ in the UK in the late 1970s early 1980s.

But Neoliberal Ideas have actually little in common with the classical Liberal; and it is an intellectual conceit to argue that Neoliberal Ideas drove and determined the Neoliberal policies that were eventually introduced in the late 1970s-early 1980s. In fact, a reasonable argument may be made to the contrary: it is Neoliberalism in Practice that reached back and adopted Neoliberal Ideas and propositions in order to justify and legitimize Neoliberal policies.

What then exactly are the basic propositions of the Idea of Neoliberalism? What congruence is there between those propositions and 17th-18th century Classic Liberalism? And do either—i.e. Classic Liberal and Neoliberal Ideas—have anything to do with Neoliberalism in Practice?

The Basic Propositions of Neoliberalism as Idea

  • Markets should always be free of government interference and the economy and policies should be based on free markets
  • Free markets require deregulation of business, as well as privatization of all public ownership of production of goods or services
  • Free markets are always and everywhere more ‘efficient’ than regulated markets or government provided goods and services
  • Free trade should always and everywhere govern the exchange of goods and services between economies and countries
  • Government should never intervene in markets—whether to provide public works, correct negative ‘externalities’ created by those markets, or even to provide public education, health care, or other services
  • Taxes should be cut to stimulate economic growth—especially taxes on business and investors. Cutting taxes creates additional investment and therefore employment and growth
  • Government budgets should always be ‘balanced’, avoiding deficits and therefore accumulation of government debt
  • To ensure stable economic growth, the money supply should be increased according to a ‘monetary growth rule’—i.e. a set amount every year.

But these elements of the Neoliberal Idea have very little to do with Classic Liberalism. And have even less to do with Neoliberalism in actual historical practice.

The Basic Ideas of Classic Liberalism

  • Markets should be free only to the extent that they fostered superior moral behavior and enable the development of the individual.
  • Free markets were more efficient only if they promoted competition among capitalists, resulting in goods being produced at the lowest cost, and therefore lowest price, while providing the greatest possible amount of goods to the greatest number of individuals.
  • Not all business activity should be deregulated or privatized. Some things markets would not produce, even if socially necessary and demanded by the public; or they would produce them for only a wealthy minority who might afford them only at the much high prices that markets might have to charge a smaller, privileged number of buyers.
  • Markets sometime behave badly and at times must be regulated. Not all government services should be privatized. In fact, services like public education must be provided by government since markets would not find it profitable to provide them.
  • Free trade is not always appropriate everywhere. Nor beneficial to all.
  • Economic growth is stimulated by raising taxes on business, not cutting taxes. Higher taxes force business to introduce more efficient ways of producing to offset the cost of the tax increase. New technology that results actually increase jobs and stimulate economic growth.
  • Budget deficits are justified for purposes of spending on defense, public safety, and critical social services (education) and public works that markets may not provide
  • Money is ‘neutral’. An increase in its supply cannot, by itself, lead to economic growth and stability. Growth is generated only by increasing available land, labor, and capital and by raising its productiveness.

A close reading of the actual works of 17th-18th century Classic Liberal economists like Adam Smith, David Hume, and others shows the preceding points represent the fundamental propositions of Classic Liberalism. But, as a comparative reading clearly shows, they are in sharp contrast to the basic propositions that define Neoliberalism that emerged in the late 1970s and evolved after.

In short, in so far as classic liberalism is concerned, Neoliberalism is not ‘Liberal’ at all. Neoliberalism is not ‘new’ Liberalism or any kind of Liberalism. What it represents is something quite the contrary.

Comparing Neoliberalism as Idea with Neoliberalism in Practice

What about Neoliberalism in actual, historic practice? How does it compare—to Classic Liberalism as well as Neoliberalism as Idea? Neoliberalism in Practice differs from both. It is even further removed from Classic Liberalism. And in a number of ways it is even the opposite of Neoliberalism as Idea.

First, Neoliberalism in practice is not at all about expanding free markets. There are few, if any, free markets under Neoliberal capitalism. The fiction is created by Neoliberalism as Idea writers is that, just because industry is deregulated and public goods privatized, deregulation is equivalent to the creation of ‘free markets’. Neoliberal capitalism is about the destruction of market competition and the concentration of economic power among fewer and fewer remaining businesses in an industry. It is about eliminating ‘free markets’ whenever and wherever possible. Capitalism always drives toward eliminating competition, and without competition there are no ‘free’ markets in the Liberal sense. So Neoliberalism in Practice is the antithesis of free markets.

Secondly, it is different in that, in historical practice, Governments in the Neoliberal era of capitalism are deeply and increasingly involved in the economy on behalf of capitalist interests in general, in subsidizing capital in increasing ways, in redistributing income to capital from other classes, and in assisting mergers and acquisitions and thus advancing the concentration of capital and business into fewer producers and sellers. And the larger and the fewer the remaining producers, the less ‘efficient’ they become. That is, the higher the costs of their production become and in turn the higher the prices they charge consumers. Markets in effect become more concentrated, less efficient, and less ‘free’ as a consequence of Neoliberalism in Practice.

One might add to this view of Neoliberalism’s contribution to ‘micro’ level inefficiency an even more massive macro inefficiency that results from Neoliberalism: How efficient is Neoliberal capitalism when it creates economic crashes like 2008-09, when 14 million homeowners in the US alone were foreclosed and lost their homes? When 20 million were left unemployed, and thereafter underemployed for years after 2009. Or when $4T in lost interest income occurred for retirees as a result of the near zero interest rate policy of the central bank, the Federal Reserve, that remained in effect from 2009 to 2016? Or what about the macro efficiency of the additional $4T in collapsed retirement pension benefits values that happened during the crash and aftermath? Meanwhile, while all this inefficiency was occurring, the same central bank Neoliberal zero rate policies resulted, in more than a $1T a year on average in stock buybacks and dividend payouts distributed to shareholders every year from 2010 through 2019. Neoliberal monetary policy meant Corporations borrowed virtually ‘free’ money at near zero interest rates—-either from loans or by issuing corporate bonds—-and turned around and distributed most of it to shareholders at the rate of $1T plus a year. And what of the macro-inefficiency of spending $7 trillion in US wars and products that were either blown up or dumped in deserts when declared obsolete. The ‘macro-inefficiencies’ of Neoliberal capitalism are massive and almost incalculable, in the US economy alone.

In short, there is nothing ‘free’ or ‘efficient’ about markets in the Neoliberal era in practice. Quite to the contrary of the ideological propositions falsely identified with Neoliberalism as Idea. The founding and later defending intellectuals of Neoliberalism, when promoting that notion as free and efficient markets, are therefore simply peddling a lie—-i.e. they are promoting the ideology of Neoliberalism not its reality. They are peddling a notion of Neoliberalism that doesn’t exist in the real world of Neoliberal practice. What Neoliberalism in Practice has done is simply used the lie that free markets are more efficient in order to justify and to ‘sell’ the actual policies of industry deregulation and public goods privatizations and related false notions. In other words, deregulation, privatization, etc., have nothing to do with free and efficient markets. The latter are just the intellectual veil, the cover to justify the Neoliberal policy, the true aim of which is to reduce business costs and open up new public markets for profitable exploitation.

Fourth, the Neoliberal idea that tax cuts create jobs and economic growth is no more accurate in fact than privatization, deregulation, free-efficient markets result in more economic growth that benefits all. Tax cutting under in the Neoliberal era since 2000 alone has amounted to more than $15 trillion—80% of which has accrued to investors, businesses, and the wealthiest households. In turn, that $15 trillion has resulted in the weakest rate of investment, job creation, wage increases, and general economic growth in the US in the past half century. In other words, business-investor tax cuts did not create jobs. They destroyed them, as tax incentives strongly encouraged US multinational corporations to move operations offshore. Trump’s 2018 tax cuts—the latest iteration of this ‘business tax cuts create jobs’ shell game alone provide another $2 trillion for US multinational corporations over the next decade. They can now produce offshore tax-free. Why then should they expand production and jobs in the US, one might ask, when they can henceforth produce offshore and pay no taxes?

Neoliberalism as Idea further maintains that free trade should be the norm everywhere. But in Neoliberal Practice free trade means incentives to further move US production offshore. US businesses then produce offshore at lower cost and ship the goods produced back into the US, now without tariffs, for US workers to buy, now with lower paid service jobs replacing the higher paid manufacturing jobs that were offshored due to free trade. Instead of higher wages, workers are now allowed to borrow (credit) to buy the products, incurring debt, the interest of which they now pay banks and stores issuing the credit cards. Free trade also means banks and finance capitalists, who get to borrow at near zero interest rates, invest the money offshore instead of in the US. Free trade is more about such international money flows from the US as it is about goods and product flows produced abroad back to the US. All this is the reality of Neoliberal free trade, compared to the fiction of the Neoliberal Idea of free trade where all parties somehow benefit from free trade—workers, consumers, as well as capitalist producers and bankers.

But perhaps nowhere is the chasm greater between Neoliberalism as Idea and Neoliberalism in Practice than on the question of deficits and debt. The former declares Neoliberalism is about balancing the budget and reducing government debt; whereas Neoliberalism in Practice is actually about allowing the uncontrolled escalation of annual budget deficits and therefore government debt. At barely $1 trillion when Neoliberalism in Practice began in 1979-80, US budget deficits and debt had escalated to $4T by 2000, rising to $10T by 2009, and thereafter to nearly $23T by year-end 2019. The main causes have been trillions in tax cuts for corporations and investors, uncontrolled wars and defense spending, and deregulation and privatization of healthcare industry that has permitted decades of price gouging. Trump’s 2018 tax cuts and his war spending escalation will raise the $22T current US national debt to more than $35T by 2028.

Finally, the monetary growth rule of Neoliberalism as Idea also contrasts sharply with the practice of Neoliberalism in monetary policy. Instead of allowing the central bank to slowly and steadily increase the supply of money in the economy according to an objective rule, or fixed formula, the practice of Neoliberalism has been to have the central bank continually inject massive amounts of money into the economy. In times of banking crises and after as well. The result is chronic, low-interest rates, which enable lending at low cost to investors and corporations alike, much of which borrowed is then diverted to offshore investments, to re-investment in stock, bond and other financial markets, to distribution to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks and dividend payments, or into merger and acquisition of competitors by businesses. The Idea of Neoliberalism thus has little in common with its practice so far as money is concerned.

What the foregoing paragraphs reveal is that Neoliberalism as Idea has little in common with Classical Liberalism, and even less in common with Neoliberalism as Practice. The function of Neoliberalism as Idea is therefore to provide a false economic analysis, and pro-individual, pro-personal freedom moral arguments, designed to justify the Neoliberal policies that occur in practice—-i.e. policies that are often quite contrary to those arguments and that Idea. The practice of Neoliberalism is thus neither classical liberal nor even Neoliberal.

Contrary to many accounts of Neoliberalism–both defensive and critical alike–the Idea of Neoliberalism does not give rise to or enable Neoliberalism as actual historical practice. The role of Neoliberal Ideas is to legitimize—-after the fact—-the actual policies and practice of Neoliberalism.

A problem with many accounts and analyses of Neoliberalism is that they assume that Neoliberalism as an Idea is what gave rise from the mid-1970s on to Neoliberalism as an actual historical practice. Somehow the ideas are what convince capitalists, their lobbyists, their business organizations, their trade associations, etc. to propose to their political elites in Congress and legislatures the actual Neoliberal policies, The policies are thus a reflection of their ideas. However, as just shown, Neoliberal ideas have little in common with the actual policies and practices of Neoliberalism that get introduced and implemented. So how can the ideas drive the actual historical practice, i.e. the policies, if they are different?

More likely is that the causation is actually the reverse: the policies and practices are developed by the capitalists and their political elites. The ideas of Neoliberalism—-a strange amalgam of classic and non-classic liberal propositions—-are after the fact then employed as justifications and legitimization of those policies.

Embalmed in a veneer of personal freedom, individualism, efficiency, growth benefiting all, etc., the dead body of Liberalism is resurrected in decayed form to argue that the corpse is still alive and liberal even though it has long deceased.

Nonetheless, many critics of Neoliberalism simply slip back and forth between the Idea and the Practice of Neoliberalism, with little explanation of how the one, the Idea or the Practice, causally determines the other.

More on Neoliberalism in Practice

What then are the actual policies associated with actual, historical Neoliberalism? Here too critics of Neoliberalism fail to provide a comprehensive explanation. Major attention is given to Neoliberalism as Austerity policy, or as industry deregulation and privatization, or as free trade. But little attention is paid to Neoliberal monetary policy or Neoliberal external policies apart from freetrade—i.e. currency exchange rate policy or what is called the ‘twin deficits’ policy solution. Nor is much explanation given to how Neoliberal policy promotes the financialization of the global economy, financial deregulation, and cross border money capital flows. While fiscal policy and industrial policy (i.e. deregulation, privatization, de-unionization, wage compression, etc.) are addressed narrowly in most accounts of Neoliberalism, not much in the way of analysis and critique is given to External Policy and Monetary Policy. But Neoliberalism in Practice is more than just austerity in Fiscal Policy or deregulation-privatization in Industrial Policy.

Neoliberalism in Practice represents a particular policy regime, consisting of Fiscal policy (tax, spending, deficit-debt management), Industrial policy (deregulation, privatization, de-unionization, wage compression, financialization), Monetary policy (excess liquidity injection, chronic low-interest rates), and External Policy (trade, low US dollar exchange rate, twin deficits).

Neoliberalism represents a particular mix of these policies. Before Neoliberalism, the four main policy areas also existed but in a different mix and different relationship to each other. It was a different policy ‘regime’.

US Neoliberalism as the 3rd Capitalist Restructuring

The policy regime before the Neoliberal policy shift originated in the wake of the second world war, originating roughly in the period, 1944-53. A still different policy regime was created in the US just prior to world war one, in the period 1908-13. Thus the US experience has been to restructure the economy in a major way at least three times in the last century: 1908-13, 1944-53, and 1979-88. The latter, 3rd restructuring is simply called the Neoliberal. Its policy mix or regime differed from the two prior regimes.

The policy restructuring in all three cases was designed to change policies in order for US capitalism to confront a challenge or crisis. In 1908-13 US capitalism prepared to restructure its economy in anticipation of becoming a more or less equal competitor with the UK and European capital in general on the stage of the world economy after world war one. In 1944-53, capitalists restructured once again as the US became the sole hegemon in the global economy following world war two. Both restructurings represent US capital shifting policy fundamentally in order to confront a major crisis and opportunity. In each case the restructurings were accompanied by a particular policy reordering. That reordering occurred a third time as a response to the crisis of the 1970s, not war. In that sense it differed from the earlier two restructurings and policy shifts.

In the Neoliberal case, the US re-established itself as the hegemon in the global capitalist economy for at least several more decades. Challenges domestically and abroad in the 1970s were successfully contained, and US capital emerged once again globally and internally as the key dominant player in the global economy.

Neoliberalism in Practice—i.e. as a particular new policy mix of the four areas—continued to expand and evolve throughout the 1990s and after 2000. The global crash of 2008-09 halted its development and evolution, however. As argued in this writers’ book, ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism’, Neoliberal policy evolution hit a wall with the 2008-09 crash. Obama tried but failed to restore it and regain its momentum. Trump’s policies should be viewed as a future attempt to restore Neoliberalism as policy, albeit in a new virulent and aggression form that is still in progress.

Whether Trump will succeed remains to be seen. However, there are fundamental real and material forces in development—involving changes in technology, AI & machine/deep learning, the nature of money, production processes and distribution channels, new business models, product-capital-labor markets, and in political resistance both domestic and foreign—that may well prevent Trump’s restoration attempt.

The Main Policy Propositions of US Neoliberalism in Practice

Over the past four decades Neoliberal policy has evolved and expanded. It has also begun to develop its own internal contradictions—as discussed in more detail in the aforementioned book. As a partial summary of Neoliberalism in Practice at this point, the following elements may be said to now constitute Neoliberalism in Practice as of 2019:

  • Social program policy cuts, focused heavily on reducing and eliminating government programs introduced from 1934 through 1965;
  • Aggressive deregulation of industries, especially banking & finance, communications, public and private transport, education and healthcare;
  • Privatization of employer contributed healthcare and retirement services introduced with the 2nd restructuring, privatization of military services, and privatization of public goods and services including federal lands access;
  • Deep reduction of business-investor-wealthy household taxation on profits and capital incomes (interest, dividends, business rent, etc.);
  • Chronic escalation of war and defense spending amidst social spending austerity;
  • Tolerance of rising budget deficits, the national debt, and interest on that debt;
  • Central bank monetary policies based on chronic liquidity injections designed to ensure long-term low bank interest rates that subsidize business costs of investment;
  • Incremental de-unionization and weakening of collective bargaining, as well as compression of wage incomes;
  • Promotion by government of radical changes in the labor markets, creating millions of contingent labor employment, low paid service jobs, atrophy of minimum wages, massive offshoring of manufacturing employment, and encouragement of on-shoring of skilled labor visa policies;
  • Substituting free trade for traditional trade policy measures based on tariffs, quotas, and administrative measures as the primary means to maximize US corporate exports;
  • Acceptance of US trade deficits in exchange for a ‘twin deficits’ solution ensuring US offshore dollar recycling arrangements with major allies and global trading partners;
  • Encouraging a long-term low US dollar exchange rate and US money capital outflows and foreign direct investment;
  • Promotion of financialization of the US economy at the direct expense of real asset investment based economic growth;

Thus Neoliberalism in Practice is not simply a set of policies associated with social program cutbacks and fiscal austerity, or industry deregulation or privatization, as many identify. It is much broader than that. It represents a basic economic system restructuring that involves a resurgence and aggressive expansion at the expense of both foreign capitalist competitors as well as domestic working classes. It is an attempt to re-establish US economic hegemony in the late 20th century and well into the 21st. In that it succeeded…until the crash of 2008-09, from which it is yet to fully recover.

What’s Missing in Critiques of Neoliberalism

Apart from not adequately addressing the material origins of the restructuring that gives rise to Neoliberalism, critics of Neoliberal policy fail to address key elements of its unique policy and program mix. To begin with there’s the lack of analysis of what’s called external policy—i.e. twin deficits, external debt, currency exchange rates, foreign direct investment and global money capital flows—are often largely missing. Neoliberalism is characterized by a particular set of external policies that differ from prior restructurings. Consideration of trade or goods flows, and perhaps free trade treaties, are the limited focus of most critiques. Another area where critics fall short is a superficial treatment of Industrial policy. While de-unionization, job offshoring, general wage compression, and industry deregulation are addressed by critics, fundamental developments like the rise of contingent labor and the even more destructive now just emerging phenomenon—artificial intelligence and machine learning—are ignored for their effects on labor markets and the shift in capitalist vs. worker relative power they represent. Also missing, in all but minor terms, is the financialization of the global capitalist economy. Here the role of capital markets, shadow banks, derivatives, the rise of the new global finance capital elite, and the relative shift to financial asset investing, crowding out real investment, are left largely unconsidered; in other words, that which might be classified as the new phase of imperialism and US vs. global capitalist class competition and conflict is not adequately addressed. Not least, what is also missing in most accounts of Neoliberalism is how its advance is closely correlated with the atrophying and decline of Democracy in America—i.e. the norms, practices, parties, the electoral system, and even government institutions.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus is author of the just released book, ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy from Reagan to Trump’, Clarity Press, October 2019, which is available for purchase at discount from the author’s blog, jackrasmus.com, and website, http://kyklosproductions.com. Jack hosts the weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, and tweets at @drjackrasmus.

Read Unit One and Two here.

President Assad is not now and never was a brutal dictator who gasses his own people. In fact, in a classic case of “reverse projection”, NATO terrorists are the brutal dictators who gas Assad’s own people.

Imperialists and their agencies embed simplistic war propaganda memes into the collective consciousness of the masses through constant repetition of fake evidence. The fake evidence is fabricated by fake “NGO’s”.

In fact, Syrians have always been strongly supportive of President Assad. In a classic case of “admission against interest”, even a NATO survey demonstrated this. According to Voltaire.net

The study shows that 70% of Syrians support President Bashar al-Assad, 20% adopt a neutral position and 10% support the “rebels.”

Empire weaponizes “NGO’s” to sell fake “humanitarian wars”. Earlier, for example, we explored the case of the Western state-funded White Helmets, which serve to feed war propaganda into the Western news chains. But there is a whole spectrum of fake NGO’s — all interlinked. (For example, the White Helmets are sources of war propaganda for Amnesty International and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)

By Prof. Tim Anderson

By Prof. Tim Anderson

By Prof. Tim Anderson

Imperialists and their agencies suppress real evidence and amplify fake news stories. War propaganda is a vital component of hybrid warfare, and it is, therefore criminal.

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Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

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Bolivian President Evo Morales‘ decision to abide by the “recommendation” of the US-backed OAS that his country hold another election represents serious backtracking on his pro-sovereignty stance under heavy Hybrid War pressure following the mutiny of several police forces across the nation and the military’s refusal to restore law and order amidst several weeks of rioting.

Bolivian President Evo Morales stayed true to his word that he’d abide by the “recommendation” of the US-backed OAS following the conclusion of their audit on last month’s election by calling for another vote in the coming future. The organization alleged that it was “statistically unlikely” that he won a little more than 10% of the vote and narrowly avoided a second round of elections, claiming that there was “clear manipulation” of the process at play. President Morales’ decision to heed their “advice” represents a serious backtracking on his pro-sovereignty stance under heavy Hybrid War pressure after the mutiny of several police forces across the nation and the military’s refusal to restore law and order amidst several weeks of rioting. Had he been able to count on the armed forces’ support in quelling the disturbances, he wouldn’t have had to tacitly acknowledge that his latest re-election was possibly “fraudulent”, which therefore throws his legitimacy as the current head of state into doubt.

It’s somewhat understandable that he’s taken the position that he did because the US and its regional allies likely had a preplanned sanctions scheme that they were ready to roll out had he refused to comply with their de-facto demand, one which might have resulted in Bolivia’s top trading partner, Brazil, blockading the country and immediately triggering an economic crisis at home to compound the ongoing political one. Furthermore, the “opposition’s” threats to shut down the border and stop traffic along some of the country’s main roads could have worsened this scenario and brought Bolivia to a standstill. Nevertheless, there isn’t any guarantee that his opponents won’t be emboldened by his backtracking if they believe that he’s doing so from a position of weakness and that they only need to increase the pressure for a little longer in order to compel him to resign. After all, they can always argue that his current tenure isn’t legitimate since he’s sitting in office after a “suspicious” vote that he himself recognizes might have been “fraudulent” since he decided to hold another election after the last one was found by the US-backed OAS to have supposedly been rigged.

There are several key variables that will determine the course of forthcoming events. The first is whether or not the “opposition” will de-escalate their Hybrid War campaign against President Morales. If they follow his lead and start backtracking on their demands that he resign, then it would be a sign that they want to return to the status quo “ante bellum” prior to the “disputed” vote. On the other hand, they might just press forward with those same demands and insist that he must resign before the next vote takes place and that a “caretaker government” assume control of the state in the interim to ensure that the forthcoming elections are conducted in a “free and fair” environment, one that would probably be overseen by US-backed OAS “representatives”. The “opposition” might also decline to participate in the vote if President Morales runs for re-election, arguing that the Supreme Electoral Court carried out an “illegal” and “corrupt” act by reversing the results of the 2016 referendum where his initiative to run for a fourth term was narrowly defeated.

In other words, the “opposition” might move forward with their plans to “purge” the country’s “deep state” (military, intelligence, diplomatic, and administrative bureaucracies) of what they’d portray as “Morales’ loyalists” as a prerequisite to their participation in the next elections, and they could conceivably receive either the OAS’ or a US-backed regional “coalition of the willing’s” support in this respect (possibly expressed through the threat of sanctions if President Morales doesn’t submit). Their campaign of Hybrid War pressure would continue unabated in this scenario since they’d know that they can rely on different dimensions of support from their external patrons. Not to be forgotten, another key variable is the reaction of President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters to all of this, since they’re the ones who stand to lose the most if the “opposition” seizes power (whether by “democratic” means, a military coup, or through a Color Revolution) and rolls back the hard-earned socio-political rights that they obtained during the incumbent’s 14-year-long tenure.

There are way too many identity conflict variables — in the political, ethnic, and regional domains — at play to assume that the Hybrid War on Bolivia will resolve itself “peacefully” in any realistic scenario. The “best-case” one would be that the “opposition” desists its destabilization campaign and allows another election to be held without first demanding a “deep state” purge. President Morales might once again win in the first round, though, possibly even with a larger majority than before, but that outcome would almost certainly be alleged to be “fraudulent” once more by his opponents no matter how transparent the electoral process is at that point. It goes without saying that the destabilization cycle would commence once more in that scenario. The second relevant one is that the vote goes to a second round, but again, the “opposition” probably won’t concede defeat if President Morales comes out on top, so recent events would simply repeat themselves until the forces behind them get what they want.

Looking forward, the Hybrid War on Bolivia is still far from over despite President Morales backtracking in practice on his principled pro-sovereignty rhetoric. He appears to recognize just how dangerous the dilemma that he’s been forced into is ever since the military tacitly took the side of the “protesters” and several of his police forces across the nation mutinied against him over the weekend. He also knows that any further escalation of the regime change campaign against him will probably cause a civil war to break out between his supporters and the “opposition”, so he’s doing his best as a responsible head of state to avert that disastrous scenario to the best of his ability, even if it might ultimately be in vain. The dynamics are against him and he’s been forced onto the defensive, with it appearing extremely unlikely that he’ll be able to reverse this trend, especially not without the military’s support. It looks like President Morales is hoping that the “best-case” scenario of the several that were analyzed in this piece will transpire, but he’d be wise to also simultaneously prepare for the worst-case ones that seem much more probable at the moment.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Significant Progress Toward Political Settlement in Syria?

November 12th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Last month, Russia’s Foreign Ministry claimed progress was made toward “promoting (a) political settlement in conformity with the resolutions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.”

In mid-September, Sergey Lavrov said

“(t)he war in Syria has really come to an end. The country is gradually returning to a normal, peaceful life,” adding:

“Some hotspots of tensions remain in the territories that are not controlled by the Syrian government, such as Idlib and the eastern bank of the Euphrates.”

Around the same time, Putin and Netanyahu met in Moscow. Commenting on what was discussed, Lavrov said the following:

“(T)he Israelis fully agree with us (on the importance of) ensur(ing)  real, in practice, not only in words, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” adding:

“(W)e on our part highlighted the issues of assisting the Syrian authorities and the Syrians on the whole in their returning to peaceful life.”

“We, in my opinion, found understanding from our Israeli counterparts on these issues.”

On Saturday, Lavrov claimed significant progress was made toward achieving a political settlement in Syria.

Reality on the ground is vastly different from the above-expressed optimism.

Endless US war (in its 9th) rages in parts of the country with no prospect for near-term resolution — because bipartisan US hardliners reject restoration of peace and stability to the Syrian Arab Republic.

Idlib province remains infested with tens of thousands of heavily armed US-supported al-Nusra and other jihadists.

US anti-Russia, anti-Syria, anti-Iran propaganda is relentless. On Friday, Pompeo’s spokeswoman falsely accused Russian and Syrian aerial operations in Idlib of “caus(ing) numerous casualties among civilians and humanitarian workers (sic), and damage to hospitals and civilian infrastructure in Idlib and other areas of northwest Syria (sic),” adding:

“These attacks…hit a school, a maternity hospital, and homes, killing 12 and injuring nearly 40 (sic).”

The above accusations apply to US, NATO, Israeli operations — not how Russian and Syrian forces operate.

Establishment media repeat the above fabrications and similar ones with disturbing regularity — their propaganda reports some of the worst in modern memory.

Followers of their disinformation have no idea of reality on the ground — Syria and its people victims of Washington’s imperial scourge, its high crimes of war and against humanity.

On the same day, Pompeo falsely accused Iran of concealing “undeclared nuclear materials,” adding: “(W)e are alarmed at Iran’s lack of adequate cooperation.”

Fact: No country is more heavily monitored, none more cooperative with the IAEA and its inspectors — polar opposite how the US and Israel operate, no one permitted near their nuclear and other sites declared off limits to foreign observers.

According to Syrian and independent media, fierce clashes continue in northern parts of the country between Turkish occupation forces and the Syrian Arab Army.

Southfront reported that Turkish drones killed and injured Syrian civilians, Kurdish media saying:

“A drone of the Turkish aggressor targeted a gathering of al-Hishah locals while they were harvesting cotton, adding new crime to the crimes of the Turkish occupation.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said (US-supported) jihadists in Idlib province violated the ceasefire around 600 times in October — an average of nearly 20 times daily.

US war secretary Mark Esper said Pentagon troops “will respond with overwhelming military force against any group that threatens the safety of our  (occupying) forces.”

Asked whether the Pentagon’s mission includes denying Syrian and/or Russian forces access to oil producing areas, Esper said: “The short answer is yes.”

The US “mission” is all about illegally controlling strategic parts of the country indefinitely, maintaining a state of war, looting Syrian oil, preventing restoration of peace and stability, along with the ultimate aim of regime change — wanting pro-Western puppet rule replacing Syria’s sovereign independence.

The “mission” has nothing to do with combatting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded jihadists the US created and supports, using their fighters as proxy troops, supported by Pentagon terror-bombing.

It has nothing to do with supporting Syrian Kurds, co-opted then betrayed in pursuit of greater priorities.

In late October, Russia’s Foreign Ministry released satellite images, showing scores of tanker trucks involved in smuggling looted Syrian oil — “under the strong protection of the US,” what its Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov called “international state-sponsored banditry.”

The US wants Damascus prevented from using the country’s oil revenues, diverting them to US private interests and the CIA to help finance its diabolical operations.

Last week, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said Moscow will not cooperate with the US scheme to steal Syrian oil, adding:

“(I)t’s up to the Syrian people to manage their natural resources, including oil.” US actions aim to boost its “illegal presence” in the country.

During her weekly press conference, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced “Washington’s illegal and unlawful actions” in Syria, adding:

US occupation of its territory and resource theft continues “while using the (phony) pretext of fighting ISIS to cover up its criminal activities.”

“(T)he Americans are smuggling oil from Syria valued at over $30 million a month, and are set to stay there for the foreseeable future.”

Idlib’s de-escalation zone is “a hotbed of (US-supported) international terrorism.”

“The overall situation in Syria is” far from becoming normalized because of US rage to control the country, its resources and population.

Endless war continues in its 9th year. Restoration of peace and stability to the country remains unattainable because the US rejects conflict resolution in all its war theaters.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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The least expectations of all hardworking families are simple and noble. They want to raise their children to be educated, content and prosperous in a safe environment. This is a universal aspiration. From Baghdad to Boston, working families share the same hopes and expectations; only the degree of suffering separates them. When one part of a body is in strain, the whole body reacts in complexity. People around the world are responding to their particular problems in different ways. A farmer in Ecuador is confronted with the question of life and death while an American farmer is facing an uncertain and gloomy future. In other words, on the different levels, they all are suffering.

In the U.S., for many the “American Dream” meant to be secure and prosperous. America was the “land of milk and honey” and the “American Dream” was the immigrants’ dream. Today that dream has transformed into a nightmare. If one is poor in the U.S., he or she -one way or another- lives in the state of constant fear. This fear is real and it is rooted in an economical system that classifies people based on their class; the socio-economic status, race and gender. Logically, this fear is much more intense for those who are labeled as poor immigrants with or without a clear “legal status”.

In general, the poor and low-income families in the U.S. regardless of their race are suffering. The United Nations special report on the extreme poverty and human rights in the United States of America declares that

“about 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty”.

In every major city, the number of homeless people is on the rise. This reality in the U.S. with the most powerful economy in the world is absolutely shocking. Why is the strongest economy in the world hopelessly entangled with the problems such as “homelessness” or is unable to provide basic necessities such as “clean water” to her citizens?

These days, it is not unusual to observe the growing number of American citizens who sleep on the pavements near luxury high-rise buildings in the major cities! There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery. Indeed the problem lies in an economic system of exploitation – that is the Capitalist system.

From its inception, the U.S. grew as an unjust economic system. What is unprecedented today is the widest gap between wealth and poverty. Roughly in the last 3 decades the top 1% gained from $8.4 trillion to $29.5 trillion in wealth.  This intense inequality has exposed the extreme nature of racism and chauvinism of the U.S. government. Although today the ultra-right wing politicians, officials and the so-called political analysts boldly propagate racism and xenophobia more than ever; nonetheless it is vital to concentrate on the roots of the problem not the outcome.

Slavery in the U.S. did not originate from racism; rather racism necessitated the justification of the exploitation of slaves. Today “Black Lives Matter” and “Me Too” – so-called movements – are confusing the roots of an economical exploitation with its byproducts, racism and chauvinism. A good doctor seeks to find the actual cause of a patient’s medical problem through the apparent symptoms. In the U.S. like any other Capitalist countries, the exploitation of working people is the cause of the problem; racism and chauvinism are the symptoms.

However, this simple difference between the actual cause and symptoms of any problem in the U.S. is not clear for many activists. Their valuable energy, dedication and determination are acted out as daring but politically blindfolded! They carry different flags, from pseudo-Socialists to Antifa small groups in hope to “wake up” the majority. In reality they have become tools for distraction and obstacles in the revolutionary path. Their gurus who they worship emphatically usually are the Capitalist functionaries at best. It is unbelievable but true that the so-called “Socialists” or “Communists” find their salvation in the Democratic Party! They are so feeble that they worship Mrs. Gabbard or Mr. Sanders as their saviors of the working people! These small groups of activists against the power of the working people believe in the “alternative facts”! They still believe that the outmoded Capitalist system is reformable, if only the right politicians are in charge! Meanwhile as “progressives” they support the online censorship and are totally silent about the unjust incarceration of innocent whistleblowers and true journalists such as Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

The profound disparity between wealth and poverty is shaping the future of the United States of America.  This unbalanced and unjust distribution of wealth undeniably has reached the point of an explosive and unstable stage. This means the grand ideology of planters and merchants in 17th century in creating a Republic no longer serves the interest of the entire “1%” in the United States of America.

This is a unique situation which demands a new system of operation. A system that either embraces one form of barbarism or releases the powerful forces of the “99%” in creating a just and revolutionary social and economical organization in benefit of the majority. The outcome of revolution and counter-revolution will determine the future of the United States of America. Today, the three branches of the U.S. government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) are disharmonious and as result are inefficient to administrate a functional government.

For the financial elite, the functionality and not the descriptive formality of the government is the main concern.  Support for Fascism in Germany – a new form of a Capitalist government- rose rapidly in 2 years. In September 1930 election, the insignificant Nazi Party votes increased up to 700 percent! On January 30th, 1933, the financial German elite appointed Hitler as Chancellor and the leader of Germany. Of course for these drastic changes to take place; the reactionary elements in Germany were projecting themselves for long time and were ready to seize the moment in the right time.

Today, in the U.S. the same Fascistic elements are finding their voice and opportunity to implement the American style of Fascism. The Presidency of Mr. Trump has opened a new method of governance, an authoritarian and dictatorial regime. The White House has intensified its willingness to undermine the idea of separation of powers by the looming “impeachment” saga. President Trump in many ways has made it clear that he is prepared to utilize violent forces against his political opponents. On many occasions, Mr. Trump has projected that any attempt to replace him will start a “civil war” in the U.S.

For the working families, the animosity and out of control hostility of the Democratic and Republican parties toward each other is worrisome. The 2016 election put Mr. Trump, a conman with a Fascistic agenda in the White House. President Trump from the start created a support base for himself against those who he claims “hate America”.

On January 23rd, 2016 in Iowa, Mr. Trump as a professional conman projected himself as the most trusted leader among his followers by saying:

“… my people are so smart… I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any votes.”

Since then, he has created an informal “Fifth Ave. Club” with hardcore members. He has tapped into the desire of the neglected middle class.  A group of people who desperately seek to be associated with the glory of the wealthy minority in America just like the medieval peasants who worshiped their glorious Kings and Queens in Europe. They look up to Mr. Trump as their “God’s Chosen Leader” with a wisdom to “Make America Great Again”.

Right after 2016 election, the Democratic Party in opposition to the new political reality played its own dirty tricks. They tirelessly did everything to defame Mr. Trump as a “Russian asset” while supporting him wholeheartedly on the tax cut for the rich and increasing the military budget. The Democrats in essence were in agreement with President Trump to limit the democratic rights and govern as a police state in the name of “National Security”. After the failed “Mueller Report”, the Democrats ignited the “impeachment” saga in hope to occupy the White House soon without the American people’s participation. They want a peaceful congressional coup d’état, a transformation of power without inciting the working people.

As the impeachment saga flares up each day, the hard-working families in the U.S. are witnessing a transformation of their government from “democracy” to an unknown future. If the Democratic Party leadership succeeds in their impeachment drive, then the military wing of the ruling class will be in power which is eager to drag the nation to a dangerous military confrontation with their long time “adversaries” such as Russia. A triumphed Democratic Party after the impeachment battle will give the warmongers a unique opportunity to advocate a military solution as the only solution to the American problem.

With this strategy, the party of war will demand the unconditional support and obedience from the working people by attacking their democratic rights in the name of “National Security”. A period that dissidents will be labeled as “Russian asset” and McCarthyism is unleashed for vicious persecutions and witch-hunt.  On the other hand, if the impeachment effort is failed, the American people would witness a period of extreme “rule of law and order” by a despotic President. A dark period in the American history that millions of conscious people will be either silenced, imprisoned or simply perish by harsh political repression and the American style of Fascism.

Fascism is a word that has been used many times from “left” or “right” to describe a demon that they loathe. But Fascism has its own concrete political definition. Mr. Trump is representing a version of Fascism in America. The rise of Mr. Trump and Trumpism to power in the U.S. is forming in different political and economical circumstances than Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany or Franco in Spain. Trumpism is a premature newborn of Fascism. Mr. Trump was elected as president – of course not by the popular vote – now he wants to take this opportunity and reign as an absolute leader. The main obstacle against Mr. Trump’s personal adventure and Trumpism is the American Labor. The majority of working people in the U.S. are ready to combat any form of reactionary rules. They are on the rise again after decades of setbacks that they have had to endure since President Reagan came to power.

However, despite the Fascistic minded President with his incompetent GOP representatives and the illusive Democratic leadership, the American people are fighting independently for their own rights as workers, farmers, teachers, students, immigrants and minorities in general. The rise of the 99% in the U.S. at this level is extraordinary. Understanding the new wave of working people resistance in the U.S. requires an investigation of the social, political and economic backdrop.

The major Capitalist countries are either experiencing recession or moving into it. The U.S. economy as the most powerful world economy also is not immune from this crisis. Even the most optimistic American economists admit that the U.S. economy is either at “risk” or on the “edge” of recession. Joshua Green of Bloomberg Business Week points out that

“The real peril facing Donald Trump’s presidency… is the possibility that the current mood of economic pessimism could intensify and push the country into a full-blown recession”.

Certainly Mr. Trump’s trade war has ended any hope to “achieve global economic stability” that the Capitalists around the world had hoped in the last G20 gathering. In the U.S., the real economy is undermining the rise of the stock market. The financial elites are nervous in anticipating another crisis even more severe than 2008. President Obama following President Bush, facing the 2008 economic crisis, stood on the back of working people in America to bailout the failing banks.

The commercial media at that time praised Mr. Obama as a hero and savior who turned around the recession! However in 2019, the U.S. economy is facing yet another recession but this time under the leadership of a chaotic White House and without a pretentious hero Like Mr. Obama. This peculiar situation gives the American workers and farmers a chance to turn around the pending recession into a stage of a new prosperous economy- this prospect is only possible if a conscious and revolutionary leadership wins the trust of the majority of the working people in the U.S.

Workers and farmers -with or without impending recession- already are resisting the 1% austerity measures, fighting for living wages and social conditions. They recognize their struggle is a global phenomenon. Millions of working people around the world from Chile, Haiti, Catalonia, France, UK, Hong Kong, Algeria, Lebanon, Ecuador, Morocco, Egypt, Russia, Iraq and many others are on streets defying the status quo in their countries. They are fighting back not in days but in weeks and months which is a new phenomenon in the class struggle. American auto workers and teachers already have joined this international movement despite of their conspirator union bosses. An uncompromising leadership of the productive forces in America – the workers and farmers- is the only power that is able to combat and defeat the destructive forces of the focal fascistic leadership of the Republican Party and the illusive Democratic Party.

However the most catastrophic scenario that is facing humanity in general, beside the serious consequences of the climate change is the inevitability of the third and final nuclear world war. Without a robust war industry, the U.S. economy will collapse in an instant. Fighting for PEACE is and should be the foremost concern for all democratic minded people.

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Massoud Nayeri is a graphic designer and an independent peace activist based in the United States. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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These remarks were delivered by the author at the November 7-9 Workers in Solidarity and Education (WISE) Conference sponsored by the Labor Studies Center at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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I am honored to once again participate in the Workers in Solidarity & Education (WISE) Conference sponsored by Wayne State University and its Labor Studies Center.

It is always a pleasure as well as a challenge to present ideas to union members in the current period. The working class in the United States and internationally is undergoing tremendous changes in the way the labor market is structured, impacting the way our employment tasks are carried out and the degree to which we are compensated in the production process.

Of course the capitalist system is inherently exploitative and oppressive. If we look back on any period in U.S. history it has been categorized by the struggle between those who are part of the ruling class and the people.

As an agricultural society molded through the expropriation of the land of the Indigenous people, the kidnapping and forced exploitation of African labor, the conquering of areas now known as America, and the ongoing imperatives by the ruling class to extract as much surplus value out of workers as possible, there was born an industrial society which during the 20thcentury surpassed all other economies in recorded history. Nonetheless, the question became in the 19thand 20thcenturies as to what would be the role of the working class, the rural proletariat and the intellectual strata in regard to its approach to overcoming class exploitation, national oppression and gender inequality.

We are still facing these questions today at the conclusion of the second decade of the 21st century. As we move forward into the future many aspects of our existence are becoming even more uncertain. Issues of job security, conditions of employment, workplace safety, environmental degradation and consequent climate change are upon us with an increasing sense of urgency.

Surely it is not enough just to go to work every day while those social changes taking place both inside and outside our places of employment are determining whether we will be able to earn a living in the not too distant future and under what circumstances. Although these questions have philosophical implications, they are by no means abstract and devoid of reality.

Many atmospheric and geological scientists are saying the earth is literally burning up before our eyes. In the state of California where some of the most expensive real estate is to be found any place in the U.S. and the world, many people are awaiting the destruction of their homes, schools and jobs. Homelessness is a reality for hundreds of thousands while the current government in Washington is in a state of denial. The dysfunctionality of the political administration of the capitalist state is so obvious that we can often marvel at the degree to which certain world powers boast about their purported supremacy over other forms of governance.

The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. The potential for a labor market structure where there are fewer hours and less manual labor should be considered an advantage for all concerned. Nevertheless, without social planning such a scenario has actually lowered real wages and fostered widespread uncertainty in regard to how we can make a decent living, maintain health for ourselves and families and rebuild a sense of community and social cooperation.

Our Mission and its Significance

Dr. Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist who was born in 1925 in the French Caribbean territory of Martinique, in his last work entitled “The Wretched of the Earth”, begins the book with these profound words:

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”

Fanon served in the French resistance forces against the Nazis during World War II and would later train as a physician. He was deployed to work for the colonial power of France in the-then colony of Algeria located in North Africa. Although he was ostensibly considered to be a part of the French governmental system he soon realized that the plight of the Algerian people under colonialism was analogous to that of the situation of Africans in his own country in the Caribbean.

Soon enough he switched sides during the Algerian independence movement joining the National Liberation Front (FLN) to fight for the independence of this oppressed nation which had been under French occupation since 1830. Fanon only lived to be 36 years old. However, in his brief years as a professional and political activist made a tremendous contribution to human freedom.

Our organization, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and later the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs, were formed in 2002 and 2008 respectively. We see our mission as being clearly related to the quote cited above from Fanon. We have defined our mission as one of eradicating injustice, social inequality and the lack of self-determination.

The Pentagon budget of the U.S. is the largest of all military expenditures by all combined states throughout the globe. Our slogan became during the initial phases of the Afghanistan and Iraq military interventions by the U.S., under the-then President George W. Bush, Jr., was “Money for Our Cities, Not for War.” We recognized the link between the thirst for war, the profit-making obsession by the ruling class and the declining standards of living for the people of the U.S., particularly those of us who live in majority African American municipalities such as Detroit.

Imperialist war is also tinged with racism and national oppression. Most people will not voluntarily accept domination by external or even internal elements. The security of the capitalist system is based upon its military dominance and capacity to dictate the terms of economic organization within society and the character of international trade. Under imperialism, which V.I. Lenin described as the highest stage of capitalism known as international finance capital, it is the banks which determine the trajectory of production and therefore the character of social relations within the labor market.

Moratorium NOW! Coalition and the Housing Question

It was only a few years after the expansion of the Pentagon war machine that we witnessed the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression during the period of 1929-1941. The work of MECAWI was transformed significantly as it scrambled to address the burgeoning housing crisis of 2007 and early 2008.

The city of Detroit was one the earliest municipalities negatively impacted by the fallout from racist sub-prime predatory lending. Detroit was the city where the majority of families owned their homes, including and especially African Americans. This was an important asset which distinguished the city from other urban areas in the U.S.

For this very reason the city was targeted in the predatory loan strategy aimed at maximum profitability for the financial institutions. Many of the homes were over assessed in value so the owners could be offered loans far in excess of the actual marketability of the houses. It would only be a matter of a few years that these schemes collapsed. Insurance on the overinflated mortgage value of the homes made it far more profitable for the banks to foreclose than to keep people in their communities.

When the world capitalist system was on the verge of collapse in late 2008, the Bush administration came to the Congress to ask for a bailout. The initial payment was $700 billion to the banks and large insurance firms such as AIG. Later two of the big three auto companies were placed into bankruptcy with huge bailouts for General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler. Workers suffered tremendously through layoffs, pay and benefit cuts, the closing of plants and dealerships. The Great Recession institutionalized the two and three tier pay scales in auto production. Workers within the automotive industry have still not recovered despite the recent strike at General Motors which lasted for six weeks.

Moratorium NOW! Coalition called for an immediate halt to all foreclosures and evictions. The rallying cry was “bailout the people, not the banks.” The banks should pay for the crisis they created and the workers and oppressed people must be empowered to redress the exploitation which they had been subjected to by capital.

Stemming from the housing crisis was the imposition of municipal bankruptcy through emergency management. Moratorium NOW! Coalition intervened in the Detroit bankruptcy both in the courtroom and outside in the streets. The mission was to change the narrative by placing the onus of responsibility on the banks which had literally destroyed the city.

The Housing Question is not new to the capitalist system of the 21st century. Frederick Engels wrote on these issues during the mid-19th century in Germany and Britain. Engels describes the insecurity of the working class and the scarcity of suitable housing along with the incessant rising rents and forced removals at the aegis of capital. However, even though in Detroit there are still tens of thousands of abandoned vacant housing structures, the issue of quality housing and access to utilities and water make the writings of Engels relevant for our activism today. Therefore, it is not possible to speak about the housing crisis or the mass water shutoffs without apportioning blame on finance capital. Absent of the seizure of the resources which rightfully belong to the proletariat can these issues be adequately addressed and resolved. (See this)

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These remarks were delivered by the author at the November 7-9 Workers in Solidarity and Education (WISE) Conference sponsored by the Labor Studies Center at Wayne State University in Detroit.

The conference attended by hundreds of labor union members, officials, educators and journalists, was held at the Greektown Casino Hotel in the downtown area. Abayomi Azikiwe spoke to a day-long course on Civil Rights, Labor History and Social Unionism.

According to description of the conference:

“The Labor Studies Center at Wayne State University has created the WISE (Workers in Solidarity & Education) conference series that is committed to the teaching and learning of workers through innovative and advanced labor education programs. Our WISE educational events focus on empowering workers by strengthening highly sought after skills including leadership, communication and strategic planning.  [email protected] conferences will also provide the space for workers from various industries, occupations, experiences and backgrounds to connect through common struggles and identify effective strategies that build solidarity and power in their workplaces, unions and communities.”  

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Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author

From November 1-3 more than 1,350 delegates from 86 countries representing 789 organizations, came to Havana to participate in the Anti-imperialist Conference of Solidarity, for Democracy and Against Neoliberalism. Delegates traveled from all continents, particularly from Latin America and the Caribbean.  The conference was organized by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Central Organization of Cuban Trade Unions (CTC), along with the Cuban Chapter of Social Movements and the Continental Conference for Democracy and against Neoliberalism.

This historic conference took place at a decisive moment for all progressive forces that resist neoliberal policies as it becomes increasingly clear on the intention on the part of the United States to reconquer Latin America and take over all its natural resources aided by servile oppressive governments and local oligarchs.

José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power and the Council of State presided over the opening plenary.

In a moving opening presentation, with songs and verses, the children of Cuba’s National Theater group, “La Colmenita” inaugurated the Conference embracing with love and tenderness all of those in attendance.  Also present at the conference were renowned intellectuals and writers like Ignacio Ramonet, Atilio Boron, Stella Calloni, Abel Prieto, Omar Gonzalez, and Pedro Calzadilla.

Fernando Gonzalez Llort, President of ICAP and one of the Cuban Five welcomed participants.

“We will be able to face the most challenging adversities. Neither with asphyxiation nor with laws will they be able to get a single concession from the Cuban people, who do not surrender and will continue with their principles of solidarity with the world” he said.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla started his speech by saying:

“You can feel in this room the deep expression of our peoples and solidarity with Cuba…There will be no sustainable development without the right to the development of the countries of the South, nor can it be without social justice.”

Bruno also referred to how in the present time lies become habitual, intolerance grows and the imposition of supremacist ideas appears.

“The intention is to impose a totalitarian model that destroys cultures.”

During the second day of the Conference, a special event about the struggle to free the beloved former President of Brazil, Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva Lula took place with the participation of a large delegation from his homeland, who were presented with boxes of thousands of petitions signed by Cubans demanding Lula’s freedom.

Other constant and heartfelt expressions of support of countries in struggle, including the independence of Puerto Rico, echoed in the convention center along with pronouncements in solidarity with the right to self-determination of the peoples of Palestine and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The second-day delegates participated in 6 different commissions. Solidarity with Cuba and other Just Causes took place at the Latin America School of Medicine (ELAM). Other commissions met at the Palace of the Convention, the site of the conference.

At ELAM arriving buses from the conference were greeted by lines of medical students in their white coats. After a welcoming, plenary delegates divided up by region to develop proposals for action against the blockade. The talents of students were on display at the end of the day with music, dance and poetry.

At the same time at the Palace of the Convention rooms filled with people participating in the commissions including 1) The People in the Face of Free Trade and Transnationals, 2) Decolonization and Cultural Warfare. Strategic Communication and Social Struggle, 3) Youth: Strategies and Continuity in Struggles, 4) Democracy, Sovereignty and Anti-imperialism, and 5) Integration, Identities and Common Struggles.

The Decolonization and Cultural Warfare, Strategic Communication and Social Struggle commission was moderated by Pedro Calzadilla, Historian and General Coordinator of the Network in Defense of Humanity, and Omar González, Writer and journalist, and Coordinator of the Cuban chapter of the Network in Defense of Humanity. Among the panelist were Abel Prieto Jiménez, Director of the Martiano Program Office and President of the José Martí Cultural Society and Ignacio Ramonet, Spanish and French, Sociologist, writer and journalist.

The third and last day brought endless emotions as participants heard a declaration of Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a final declaration of the Anti-Imperialist Conference including proposals for an action plan that includes establishing a common communication strategy as a weapon of action for the coming months.

Participants were nurtured by three days of positive energy to return to their respective places and continue the struggle for a better world. But the symbolic culmination of the 3 day experience was the presence at the closing ceremony of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros.

President Maduro spoke first, and brought applauses and loud chanting from delegates when he shouted,

“We hear him, we feel him, Fidel is present here!”

He talked with optimism of the future…

”with the strong resistance we’ve had, we can say today, towards the end of 2019, that a new geopolitical situation is developing in the region and a new wave is rising to face neoliberalism.”

He talked about the situation in Bolivia saying

“Evo Morales is going to resist and triumph over the fascist threat of the Bolivian Right. The Venezuelan President said that the deadline of the opposition was not set just against Evo but against the Bolivian people.

He also talked about the United States Administration and described them and the regional right as being stupid for blaming him and Raul for the events in Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.

“No! it is only the IMF that is the one to be blamed, together with its neoliberal recipients. The ones they are blaming are searching for alternatives to face those wild neoliberal policies of hunger and misery.”

“If there is anything we learned from Chavez, it was to be brave. I always remember how brave Chavez was when he came to Cuba. He came to Cuba to support Fidel during the worst time of the special period. “More than a few told Chavez; don’t go to Cuba or you will lose credibility! They were in the midst of the special period and Chavez said, “Fidel is the light for the Continent. I’m going!” And here he was 25 years ago. A dose of courage is needed to pave the ways of truth.”

“In Venezuela with courage we united the revolutionary processes that began with Bolivar and Marti. And that was followed by the unity between Fidel and Chavez. It’s necessary to take those paths of courage and dare to debunk myths, blackmail, and lies.”

Maduro finished his talk to a thunderous applause when he said,

“Good and better times are rising in Latin America. Let’s have enough spiritual strength to continue pushing in our century and then no one will be able to take it from us.”

Following President Maduro, Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel spoke. He described the discourse of Trump “as aggressive and dismissive of all those who do not share his approach. The decisions that he makes affect millions on Twitter with the most abhorrent behavior. He talks about socialism without the slightest idea of ​​what it means. And orders the end of any process or political program that intends to overcome prevailing injustice, as if he held the course of history in his hands.”

“He is not the first emperor to try this. And surely he will not be the last to fail. Because history can only be changed by the people. Fidel said many times that the lie was the main adversary to defeat in politics and that telling the truth is the first duty of every revolutionary. This is one of our fundamental missions as practitioners of revolutionary politics. The first enemy to cut down is the lie and even more so, the imperialist lie.”

He addressed all delegates by saying:

“In your beautiful Declaration of Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution, you have written: “The peoples of the world need the example of Cuba”, and he recalled Marti’s statement that maintains its relevance: “Whoever rises today with Cuba rises for all time.” Thanks for saying it and doing it! He continued, “You have called today for unity among political forces and the social and popular movements of the left, to continue to raise consciousness, generate ideas, and organize for the struggle”.

“We see this struggle in the battle for the truth. We must defeat the lies on which wars of all kinds against our peoples are launched: informing, persuading, mobilizing, marching with the poor of the earth, who have grown tired of lies and abuse. Proposing and creating programs that respond to the most pressing demands of workers, students, farmers, intellectuals, and artists.”

“In memory of Fidel and Chávez, two of the greats of Our America, whom we were fortunate to meet, listen to, and follow in the most altruistic practice of solidarity, we look to their work as a guide for the new, challenging times that await us. I believe we all feel that great avenues are opening up, where free men now walk to build a better society. A better world is possible and urgently necessary! Let us fight for it!”

Venezuela and Cuba are at the center of the most vicious attacks and lies by US imperialism and their lackeys, and the significance of having the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution and the current presidents of both countries together on the same stage was not lost on the audience. The powerful speeches of both presidents sent a message of strength to the struggling people of the world and at the same time a message of defiance to the neo liberal policies of the Empire of the North. Despite all the attacks and attempts at economic strangulation that both countries are having to endure, here they were standing strong, without fear, surrounded by cheering allies.

To view more photos from the conference, click here.

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President Morales resigned under duress following the military’s “request” that he do so after the US-backed OAS alleged that it uncovered evidence supposedly proving that his recent re-election was rigged, but the military coup won’t end the Hybrid War on Bolivia even in the unlikely “best-case” scenario that it ends the cycle of violence in the country because the structural-institutional consequences of this ongoing campaign will inevitably lead to a reversal of the socio-economic rights that were bestowed upon the majority-indigenous population and therefore risks returning millions of people to their prior position as slaves to the neoliberal-globalist system.

The Beginning Of The End?

The Hybrid War on Bolivia has thus far succeeded in removing the country’s democratically re-elected and legitimate head of state after President Morales resigned under duress following the military’s “request” that he do so, with this coup being made possible only because US intelligence had already co-opted the armed forces and therefore ensured that this outcome was a fait accompli even before it was officially announced. On the surface, it might appear as though the Hybrid War is over after it achieved its most visible victory of carrying out regime change in this lithium-rich and geostrategically located state smack dab in the center of South America, but the fact of the matter is that this campaign is far from over for several very important reasons.

The Civil War Already Started

The first one is the most obvious, and it’s that there might be some uncertain degree of physical resistance from (“former”) President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters, whether in the form of street protests or possibly even a nascent insurgency that could represent the tangible beginning of a national liberation movement to liberate the country from the US-backed military-oligarchic yoke that it’s suddenly been returned under after 13 years of freedom. The military preemptively sought to offset this scenario just prior to the coup by commencing what Reuters reported was “air and land operations to ‘neutralize’ armed groups that act outside the laws”, which in the country’s political context could only have been a euphemism for beginning operations against President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters and not their right-wing opponents allied with the armed forces who were rioting throughout the country for several weeks already.

This is an important detail that many observers missed amid the fast-moving events that transpired on Sunday but one which crucially reveals that the military went rogue even before demanding President Morales’ resignation by launching operations against what are presumably his supporters despite not legally having the authority to do so. In hindsight, this means that not only did a military coup occur, but that it was preceded by what was arguably the unofficial onset of a low-level civil war whereby the armed forces went outside the legal chain of command (considering that they had yet to demand his resignation at the time) in order to “confront the people” despite previously denying that they had any such intention. This dramatic move came after the “opposition” seized state media in the capital, the homes of President Morales’ sister and two of his governors were torched Saturday night, and an allied mayor was lynched in the streets by the “opposition” a few days prior.

Morales On The Lam

It’s little wonder then that President Morales implored his countrymen during his resignation speech to “stop attacking the brothers and sisters, stop burning and attacking” since he feared for his supporters’ lives after what had recently just taken place, especially seeing as how he would have already had knowledge of the military’s ongoing operation against them that was commenced earlier that same day. Knowing this, he fled the capital before they could capture him and potentially carry out a Gaddafi-like regicide while serving a so-called “warrant” for his arrest (on the presumable basis of something having to do with electoral or another form of alleged “corruption”) and relying on what would have been the unsubstantiated claim that he “resisted” or was “armed” in order to “justify” killing him in cold blood just like their predecessors did to the famous Che Guevara a little over half a century ago.

If they don’t succeed in capturing him soon, the US-backed armed forces might even request American and/or Brazilian “anti-terrorist” assistance after possibly claiming that he and his supporters are connected to Iran’s IRGC and/or Colombia’s FARC considering President Morales’ close ties with the Islamic Republic and vehement support of socialism, respectively. They could also “justify” their request for a direct military intervention by reminding the region of his alliance with Venezuelan President Maduro and alleging that the latter is somehow involved in President Morales’ so-called “terrorist” and possibly even “drug-trafficking” activities. The deck is therefore stacked against him and his supporters even in the event that they resort to waging a national liberation campaign, which would be entirely within their legal rights after external forces took control of the state by proxy and commenced the ongoing low-level civil war.

Institutionalizing Neoliberal Slavery

That’s the worst-case scenario, but the “best-case” one isn’t much better, which would see the US-backed right-wing forces rapidly reversing the socio-economic rights that President Morales bestowed upon the majority-indigenous population throughout his 13 years in office without having to fight an intense civil war first. In other words, his supporters would simply surrender and allow the process to unfold without any physical resistance, which seems extremely unlikely but could nevertheless still occur if the campaign of terror presently being waged against them succeeds in scaring the population into submission. It should be taken for granted that some members of the riotous mobs will team up with the US-backed military in order to form death squads that will kill anyone who resists, beginning with members of his government (both currently serving and those who recently resigned in order to protect their families after their loved ones were at credible risk of being harmed) and their supporters who might take to the streets in protest against this illegal seizure of power.

Either way, the grand strategic outcome that the coup plotters are pursuing is to purge all state structures of socialists in order to more easily impose a hyper-neoliberal regime as soon as possible, with the only question being whether the population actively resists this “lustration” or not. Some of the most likely structural-institutional consequences would be the granting of fiscal (and possibly even political) autonomy to the gas-rich “opposition” strongholds of the so-called “Media Luna” lowlands where most of the mestizos live and the drastic reduction of taxes on foreign mining firms operating in the indigenous-populated highlands, which could altogether serve to deprive President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters of the resources needed to subsidize their socio-economic programs. The end result would naturally be that millions of people risk returning to their prior position of undignified servitude that they toiled under prior to President Morales’ ascent to office.

“The Latin American Libya”

Acutely aware of the future that awaits them if the military coup succeeds in stripping them of their hard-earned socio-economic rights and institutionalizing their status as slaves to the neoliberal-globalist system supported by their country’s oligarchy and its American/Brazilian backers, it wouldn’t be surprising if the “worst-case” scenario transpires of President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters waging a full-fledged national liberation insurgency.

That, however, also dangerously carries with it the high risk that the state will “simplify” its “counter-insurgency” strategy by siccing death squads on anyone of native Bolivian heritage (especially in the rural areas), therefore leading to ethnic cleansing against them or even genocide if this strategy is taken to its “logical” conclusion. As such, it’s way too early to say that the Hybrid War on Bolivia is over just because President Morales was forced to resign under duress since this campaign will never truly end given the literally fascist outcome that it’s aiming to indefinitely perpetuate of informally returning the indigenous population to noeliberal slavery. Considering the dynamics at play, Bolivia might soon become known as the “Latin American Libya”, and the consequences could easily spread throughout the rest of South America just as Libya’s spread throughout Africa.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Revaluing Capitalism for the Long-Term?

November 11th, 2019 by Dr. Kyle Bailey

In the wake of the 2007–08 financial crash, the mainstream debate has not focused on the choice between socialism or barbarism, but rather on ‘reinventing capitalism’.

Faced with a populist ‘other’ ranging from ‘Trump and Brexit’ to the popular but as-yet-ill-defined ‘socialism’ of Corbyn and Sanders, the liberal bourgeoisie in the Atlantic heartland of the global political economy has sought to reassert its waning hegemony by way of a resurgent capitalist internationalism. They fear that neoliberal globalization’s intensifying legitimation crisis will lead the growing masses ‘left behind’ by economic stagnation, social inequality, and environmental injustice to ‘scapegoat’ the capitalist system by embracing the ‘totalitarianism’ of the radical left or extreme right.

In response, a leading fraction of the capitalist class has cohered around a hegemonic project of economically ‘long-term’, socially ‘inclusive’, and ecologically ‘sustainable’ capitalism as the apparent solution to the system’s multidimensional and overdetermined organic crisis.

Economically ‘long-term’ means empowering ‘non-financial’ corporate executives and their managerial cadres against ‘the capitalist threat to capitalism’ posed by financial short-termism. Socially ‘inclusive’ means responsibility to multiple stakeholders, rather than just to shareholders. And ecologically ‘sustainable’ means something like a Green New Deal for global neoliberalism.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Finance-led Accumulation

The broad contours of this project can be gleaned by examining the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and finance-led industrial restructuring under neoliberalism.

With a lineage dating to 19th century corporate giants like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford – the so-called ‘Foundations of the American Century’ – and Lever, Boots, and Cadbury in the UK, CSR has more recently been associated with the ‘Third Way’ project of neoliberal capitalist globalization with a ‘human face’.

Following the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization, and the European Union, alongside growing US – emerging markets integration, the period from 1992 until 2007 saw a second wave of institutional restructuring in the capitalist world system designed to ‘lock in’ the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1980s.

Whereas the finance-led industrial restructuring of the 1980s enabled multinational corporations (MNCs) to restore profitability by defining their ‘core’ competences and divesting from non-core businesses, this new wave of restructuring prioritized expanding what remained of the core through new investments, the emulation of US corporate governance practices, and the restructuring of corporate supply chains.

In contrast to traditional CSR and philanthropy, which target areas outside the corporate core, finance-led restructuring has seen the growing integration of CSR and sustainability initiatives into the core operations of MNCs. Intended to augment the core capabilities of particular firms, integrated CSR remains grounded in the ‘practical realities’ of big business. The less autonomy CSR initiatives acquire from the core operations, the better.

The Road from Rio

Understanding the evolution of integrated CSR requires examining how capitalist states have sought to incorporate MNCs, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and UN agencies into flexible and networked forms of multistakeholder ‘global governance’ congruent with the reproduction requirements of the post-Fordist global economy, and thus to organize them into social forces capable of assuming greater responsibility for reproducing and legitimizing neoliberal capitalist globalization.

Firstly, as the UN struggled to retain its legitimacy in a ‘post-Westphalian’ world, it called for ‘global partnerships for sustainable development’ with all sectors of civil society in the run-up to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. With the Cold War officially over, this expanded notion of development as entailing an ethical commitment to nature and society provided a renewed Malthusian justification for Western foreign policy interests and a global system of market-based inequality as the only means of forestalling global resource depletion and the ‘tragedy of the commons’.

Secondly, faced with a growing ‘anti-globalization’ backlash, a high-profile group of MNCs went beyond defensive posturing and ‘greenwash’ in order to actively shape the CSR reform agenda ‘from above’. Among them were industrial giants like BP, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Ford, IKEA, Migros, Rio Tinto, Shell, Tata, Toyota, and Unilever, as well as banks, institutional investors, accountancy and auditing firms, and credit rating agencies engaged in ‘socially responsible’ investing, reporting, and certification.

Seeking more legitimate ties with governments, NGOs, trade unions, universities, and UN agencies, business organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) cultivated notions of ‘corporate citizenship’, ‘stakeholder value’, and ‘partnership’ as the basis for rebranding themselves as major public international organizations and NGOs rather than as private ‘merchants’.

A key milestone in this process of forging ‘win-win’ solutions through public – private and business – NGO partnerships was the creation of the UN Global Compact with big business. Announced at the 1999 World Economic Forum meeting by Kofi Annan – whom Perry Anderson once described as the ‘academically dim son of a manager for Unilever in colonial Ghana’ – the Compact remains the world’s largest voluntary CSR initiative, having been pitched as a ‘coalition to make globalization work for all’.

Thirdly, disillusioned with the inability of capitalist states to curb environmental destruction after Rio, NGOs seized the apparent ‘opportunities’ afforded by neoliberal globalization and the ‘retreat of the state’ by embracing market-based, voluntary strategies for regulating corporate behaviour.

The neocolonialist World Wildlife Fund led the way constructing multistakeholder global partnerships for sustainable development, including the Forest Stewardship Council launched with B&Q in 1993, the Marine Stewardship Council co-founded as a joint venture with Unilever in 1996, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil established with Swiss retailer Migros in 2003.

Surpassing mere co-optation by big business, this strategic shift reflected the growing corporatization of NGO activism, blurring the boundary between NGOs and MNCs in a similar way to the emergence of ‘activist companies’ such as The Body Shop.

More fundamentally, it presupposed the broad shift from ‘producer’ to ‘consumer’ politics inaugurated by the Reagan–Thatcher counter-revolution’s smashing of the labour movement. Whereas producer politics expressed the collective power and organization of the working class, the advent of consumer politics marked its effective decomposition, disorganization, and atomization.

These three sets of examples serve to illustrate how the ongoing dialectical interactions among corporations, NGOs, and public agencies have transformed the interests and identity of each while leaving capitalist social relations fundamentally unaltered.

From Rio to Paris

Faced with new social, political, and market pressures after the financial crisis, in our post-Occupy world even the CEOs of the largest corporations admit that capitalism has lost legitimacy and needs to be ‘saved from itself’.

Perhaps the most articulate spokesperson for this fraction of capital is Paul Polman, who championed a supposedly long-term, multistakeholder, and inclusive form of capitalism while CEO of Unilever from 2009–2019, representative of big business on the UN High Level Panel which devised the Sustainable Development Goals in 2012, Chair of the WBCSD from 2012–2017, and, since 2018, as Chair of the ICC and Vice-Chair of the Global Compact.

Arguing that capitalism requires a ‘new [socially embedded] corporation’ in order to ‘evolve’ and ‘focus on the long-term’, Polman abolished quarterly earnings guidance for shareholders and implemented the ten-year Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, currently the most ambitious example of integrated CSR yet undertaken by a large firm. In 2014, he stated, without irony, that Unilever is ‘the world’s biggest NGO… The only difference is, we’re making money so we are sustainable’.

Polman is also a leading member of two groups promoting ‘long-term capitalism’.

The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism began as an initiative of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Societyco-chaired by Dominic Barton – the UK-based Global Managing Director of McKinsey and key long-term economic strategist to the Trudeau government – and Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild – a New Jersey-born Democratic Party insider who married into the Rothschild banking dynasty after being introduced to Sir Evelyn de Rothschild by Henry Kissinger at the 1998 Bilderberg conference and spent her honeymoon being hosted by the Clintons at the White House. Motivated by a ‘progressive’ anti-communism, the Coalition aims to empower corporations to better articulate the ‘long-term value’ they create for shareholders and stakeholders. Its first conference, co-hosted by the City of London in 2014, included companies accounting for over $30-trillion in investable assets – one third of the global total – and speeches by Bill Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney, Larry Summers, Arianna Huffington, and HRH The Prince of Wales.

A week after Kraft Heinz’s aborted hostile takeover of Unilever in February 2017, ten CEOs representing the Coalition gathered at Unilever House on London’s Victoria Embankment to launch the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism, which seeks to formulate new metrics for measuring and reporting long-term value creation related to non-financial performance, ‘intangible’ assets, and social and environmental impacts.

Focusing Capital on the Long-Term was formed in 2013 as an outgrowth of collaboration between Barton and Mark Wiseman – the President and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board created in 1997 to reorient the Canadian Pension Plan toward financial markets. FCLT Global decries the problems of quarterly capitalism and seeks to ‘change the investment strategies and approaches of the players who form the cornerstone of our capitalist system: the big asset owners’. In 2018, Wiseman left CPPIB to join his wife at BlackRock – Unilever’s largest shareholder – which, like the CPP, is heavily invested in the military and fossil fuels.

So-called ‘sustainable finance’ is also central to the Green New Deal, which, for big business at least, promises to reboot and relegitimise a stagnant world economy through the roll out of new green technology and infrastructure. Just as MNCs sought to hegemonize the Rio process, so too have they sought to shape the post-crisis reform agenda before, during, and after the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan Advisory Council includes the former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, as well as Avaaz founder Ricken Patel, Forum for the Future co-founder Jonathan Porritt, Kavita Prakash-Mani from WWF Markets, and Harvard’s John Ruggie – another Democratic Party insider and the intellectual architect of the UN Global Compact.

Chaired by Polman and including Figueres among its 27 ‘visionary’ leaders and CEOs, Richard Branson’s B Team is united under the slogan of ‘People, Planet, Profit’. The Team is managed by Avaaz co-founder and former McKinsey consultant Jeremy Heimans – a purveyor of ‘hollowed out’ activism in the guise of his ‘New Power’ methodology for ‘flexible’, ‘networked’, and ‘leadership’ mass-movement building.

Under Polman’s chairmanship, the WBCSD elaborated principles for carbon pricing and trading, announced its support for carbon capture and storage, and led the Natural Capital Coalition’s international consortium for the creation of a Natural Capital Protocol, which aims to conserve and enhance the world’s ‘natural capital’.

The WBCSD is also a driving force behind the We Mean Business coalition. Launched one week before the New York People’s Climate March in 2014, We Mean Business is a united front made up of Business for Social Responsibility, Carbon Disclosure Project, CERES, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders’ Group, and the WBCSD. The coalition calls for world leaders to agree a market-based plan for fighting climate change and claims the Paris Agreement will unlock over $13-trillion in new investment.

And there’s more to come. Next year’s WEF Annual Meeting will focus on stakeholder capitalism and the Paris agreement. Complementing the Business Roundtable’s recent statement redefining the purpose of a corporation as promoting ‘an economy that serves all Americans’ rather than just shareholders, the WEF’s governing bodies – which include the likes of B Team member Marc Benioff, Mark Carney, Chrystia Freeland, Al Gore, Christine Lagarde, and Ursula von der Leyen, as well as BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and Royal DSM Chairman and Unilever Advisory Director Feike Sybesma – will also publish a universal ‘ESG scorecard’ to update its 1973 ‘Davos Manifesto’.

Conclusion

In an era of renewed class conflict marked by growing support for as-yet-ambiguous socialist alternatives, this new ‘progressive capitalism’ is seen by the ruling class as the last, best hope for restoring confidence in the system. Appealing to societal fairness and responsibility rather than economic acquisitiveness and aspiration, it aims to redefine neoliberalism as a progressive, dynamic force for reform in response to its own crisis – a nostalgic ‘technocratic populism’ that mobilizes the masses behind the CEOs, managers, and ‘experts’ who apparently know best.

Although typically presented in crypto-Polanyian fashion as an effort to impose limits on the capitalist market by ‘re-embedding’ unsustainable finance in nature and society, those preaching the CSR gospel are in fact the fiercest advocates of abolishing all such limits. Their goal is to cement a renewed class alliance within the power bloc – a new form of finance capital – in which asset owners, asset managers, and industrial corporations collectively reshape capital markets in the name of subordinating labour, nature, and society to the financialized logic of global capital accumulation.

Moreover, big business’ strategy of colonizing the ‘public’ world of governments, NGOs, and international organizations has blurred the boundary between the public and private spheres. By seeking to ‘stakeholderise’ every conflict, MNCs embrace their critics in what Guardian journalist George Monbiot describes as ‘a dialogue that is open in the sense a lobster pot is open, breaking down critical distance and identity until no one knows who they are any more’. In this way, the new inclusive capitalism functions first and foremost to pre-empt, co-opt, and neutralize demands for more radical transformation advocated by labour and social movements – a strategy consciously designed to split the left by giving ‘progressives’ the ideological ammunition they need to embrace the system.

If the left today is to advance beyond ‘Third Way’ social democracy’s embrace of financialized global capitalism, it therefore cannot settle for a more or less progressive capitalism that merely compensates those ‘left behind’ by neoliberalism at the margins, but must pose genuine worker-centred socialist alternatives – a dual social and ecological revolution that fundamentally transforms the exploitative capitalist system which generates these inequalities, degradations, and oppressions in the first place.

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Kyle Bailey is a PhD candidate in the Department of Politics at York University in Toronto.

Featured image: Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, at the launch of ‘We Mean Business’ at the NYC Climate Week in 2014. Source: The Bullet

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Selected Articles: Coup Plot in Bolivia against Evo Morales

November 11th, 2019 by Global Research News

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World Leaders, Organizations Condemn Coup Against Evo Morales in Bolivia

By Telesur, November 11, 2019

Cuba’s government was also quick to reject the coup as President Miguel Diaz-Canel urged for “the world to mobilize for the life and freedom of Evo.” Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obradorpraised Morales’ decision to put the people first over his mandate.

This comes as Morales was forced to resign Sunday after senior army and police chiefs called on him to do so following weeks of right-wing unrest and violence against his Oct. 20 elections victory, in what his government has called a coup by opposition forces in the country.

PSL Statement: We Condemn Military Coup; US Hands Off Bolivia

By Party for Socialism and Liberation, November 11, 2019

The Party for Socialism and Liberation strongly condemns the military coup in Bolivia, and extends our solidarity to the Bolivian people who are struggling to defend the massive gains won under the leadership of President Evo Morales in the face of this counter-revolution. U.S. imperialism is clearly the sponsor of the coup and we are outraged at this crime against Bolivian sovereignty and democracy.

The goal of the coup is to restore the absolute authority of the Bolivian elites who rule as clients of the United States. They despise the country’s Indigenous majority and want to eviscerate the rights of the working class.

Bolivia: President Evo Morales Resigns Amid Right-Wing Coup

By Telesur, November 11, 2019

The resignation comes after Morales proposed a dialogue process with the opposition parties but was rejected and even accepted the Organization of American States’ (OAS) call for new elections.

However, due to strong violent onslaughts against militants and leaders of the Movement To Socialism (MAS), intimidation of journalists, burning of residences and betrayal of political allies and members of the National Police, Morales and his Vice President decided to leave the government in order to prevent more violence.

U.S.-backed coup Deposes Evo Morales in Bolivia

By Marco Teruggi, November 11, 2019

As of 4 p.m. EDT on Nov. 10, President Evo Morales has resigned his office in Bolivia, pushed out by a counterrevolutionary coup d’état backed by Washington. After part of the police force joined the counterrevolutionary gangs and the heads of the Armed Forces advised him to resign, Morales took this step as the best of bad choices after consultation with the Bolivian Workers Confederation (COB) and other supporters of his government.

This has all happened in the 24 hours since Marco Teruggi wrote the article below, which was first published Nov. 9 by TeleSur, translated by Resumen Latinoamericano’s North America bureau and edited by Workers World.

Trump

US Coup Plot to Oust Bolivia’s Evo Morales

By Stephen Lendman, November 10, 2019

Evo Morales was and remain’s Bolivia’s first indigenous president since elected in December 2005, taking office in January 2006.

In October, he was reelected for the third time, defeating challengers Carlos Mesa and Chi Hyun Chung, his popular support topping theirs combined.

His victory margin over lead challenger Mesa exceeded 10% to avoid a runoff.

“Exporting Democracy” to Bolivia

By Padraig McGrath, October 25, 2019

On October 23rd, Bolivian president Evo Morales gave a press-conference in which he stated that a right-wing coup d’etat was underway in the country. With victory practically assured in the first round of the presidential election, the returning incumbent claimed that widespread right-wing extremist violence was being used in an attempt to interfere with vote counting and certification of the election’s results.

Bolivia’s Presidential Election: Violence and Terror All Over the Country

By Edu Montesanti, October 23, 2019

The election process was peaceful last Sunday. But on the following day, a foreseen terror started. No matter the election results. Mesa incited street mobilizations, leading to violence at vote-counting stations: opposition protesters have burned ballots, buildings where counting was taking place, and Electoral Courts across the country.

As the Organization of the American States (OAS) and the Washington regime have questioned the legitimacy of the election results leading to the reelection of Evo Morales, several international observers have praised the legitimacy and transparency of the Bolivian electoral process.

Bolivia at the Crossroads: Choosing Between Continued Success or Handover to US Hegemony

By Peter Koenig, October 21, 2019

The United States has not stopped trying to change public opinion with false propaganda and making incredibly ludicrous promises to the population. For example, US Embassy people – maybe Fifth Columnists on US payroll, promised the population of the poor Yungas region of Bolivia, new and asphalted roads, if they didn’t support Evo Morales in the upcoming elections. There are also flagrant lies circulating, that Evo and his families had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars and deposited them in a secret account in the Bank of the Vatican.  Similar lies as are being spread about Nicolas Maduro, the Castro family, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the leaders of Iran and Syria and many more, who oppose the dictate of Washington.

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World leaders and organizations expressed Sunday their solidarity with former Bolivian President Evo Morales under the hashtag #ElMundoconEvo (the World with Evo) and strongly condemned the right-wing coup which forced Morales to resign.

“I just heard that there was a coup d’état in Bolivia and that comrade Evo was forced to resign. It is unfortunate that Latin America has an economic elite that does not know how to live with democracy and the social inclusion of the poorest,” former Brazilian President and Leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said.

The historic Brazilian leader’s message was echoed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who “categorically condemned the consummated coup d’etat against the brother president Evo,” adding that

“the social and political movements of the world declare mobilization to demand the preservation of the life of the Bolivian Indigenous people victims of racism.”

Cuba’s government was also quick to reject the coup as President Miguel Diaz-Canel urged for “the world to mobilize for the life and freedom of Evo.” Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador praised Morales’ decision to put the people first over his mandate.

This comes as Morales was forced to resign Sunday after senior army and police chiefs called on him to do so following weeks of right-wing unrest and violence against his Oct. 20 elections victory, in what his government has called a coup by opposition forces in the country.

“I decided to resign from my position so that Carlos Mesa and Luis Camacho stop abusing and harming thousands of brothers … I have the obligation to seek peace and it hurts a lot that we face Bolivians,” the former president of Bolivia said in a press statement.

Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernandez tweeted said that the “institutional breakdown in Bolivia is unacceptable. The Bolivian people must choose as soon as possible, in free and informed elections, their next government.

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera also said that he was resigning from his position. The two leaders said that they would be handing their resignation letters to the country’s National Assembly.

Soon after the president of the Senate also quit thus breaking the Constitutional line of succession. As the country plunges into further chaos, international solidarity continues to be shared for Morales and his government.

“To see Evo who, along with a powerful movement, has brought so much social progress forced from office by the military is appalling. I condemn this coup against the Bolivian people and stand with them for democracy, social justice, and independence,” British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted Sunday.

Social movements and organizations also shared their messages of support and condemnation to the internationally repudiated coup in Bolivia.

Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement energetically demanded “dictatorship never again,” as the called for the people to decide Bolivia’s future. While the Argentinian human rights movement of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo sided with Morales’ and his former vice president.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Bolivia in these hours of suffering and demand the continuity of the transparent and unrestricted electoral process,” the progressive Group of Puebla issued a statement adding that they “demand that the International Human Rights Bodies guarantee the clarification of the acts of violence committed, the trial and punishment of those responsible, and the restoration of order, peace, social life, and democracy in Bolivia.”

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PSL Statement: We Condemn Military Coup; US Hands Off Bolivia

November 11th, 2019 by Party for Socialism and Liberation

The Party for Socialism and Liberation strongly condemns the military coup in Bolivia, and extends our solidarity to the Bolivian people who are struggling to defend the massive gains won under the leadership of President Evo Morales in the face of this counter-revolution. U.S. imperialism is clearly the sponsor of the coup and we are outraged at this crime against Bolivian sovereignty and democracy.

The goal of the coup is to restore the absolute authority of the Bolivian elites who rule as clients of the United States. They despise the country’s Indigenous majority and want to eviscerate the rights of the working class.

The coup also has a clear regional significance. Progressive and revolutionary forces have been on the march over the past year. President López Obrador’s new government in Mexico committed itself to non-interference in the sovereign affairs of the nations of Latin America. Venezuela defeated the U.S.-backed coup attempt of Juan Guaidó. An uprising in Ecuador forced the government to flee the capital city and cancel an IMF-imposed austerity package. An ongoing rebellion in Chile has brought historic crowds into the streets and put the right wing government of Sebastian Piñera on the defensive despite vicious repression by the police and military. The right wing government in Argentina was voted out of office in favor of the progressive Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández presidential ticket. And immediately preceding the Bolivian coup, wrongfully imprisoned ex-President Lula was freed.

The Bolivian ruling class and their military are following the dictates of the U.S. government, which has worked overtime to turn back the leftwing tide sweeping Latin America.

Upon assuming the presidency in 2006, President Morales nationalized the country’s oil and gas wealth. This wealth was used to meet the needs of the people and promote economic development. Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) drew its support from the working class of Bolivia, whose population is majority Indigenous, and transformed Bolivia from one of the poorest countries in the world to the fastest-growing economy in the region. Evo Morales is the first Indigenous President in the history of Bolivia, and his presidency has posed a challenge to the racist ruling elite by empowering the Indigenous majority culturally and economically.

The battle in Bolivia and all of Latin America continues between the forces that want to empower the people and those that want to restore the power and wealth of the elite. People in the United States can play an important role in this intense struggle by pressuring our imperialist government to end its war on the people in Latin America and the Caribbean. U.S. hands off Bolivia!

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Gaza Specialist Doctors Emigrate Due to Israel Siege

November 11th, 2019 by Middle East Monitor

More than 120 highly qualified Palestinian doctors emigrated from the Gaza Strip in 2018 and 2019, pushing the Ministry of Health to close medical departments in hospitals.

According to a report published by Amad.ps on Saturday, the Palestinian doctors who left their posts in Gaza highlighted the pressure of working under the 12-year Israeli siege imposed on Gaza.

On Facebook, Surgeon Adnan Radi wrote:

“The first skilled and most qualified specialist of heart surgery Mohammad Nassar left Gaza, pushing us to close the Department of Cardiac Surgery.” He described this as a “catastrophe.”

Ahmed Shatat, an official at the doctors’ affairs division in Gaza hospitals, said doctors travel aboard to look for “better opportunities” because they “do not have regular salaries” in Gaza as a result of Israel’s actions.

“Qualified doctors do not feel they have a bright future that matches their qualifications in the besieged Gaza Strip where they have low and irregular salaries,” Shatat said.

He stated that the problem is not with the emigration of the new graduates, but of the “skilled doctors whose emigration poses a serious danger to the health care system.”

Journalist Sama Hassan wrote on her Facebook:

“I do not expect doctors who leave Gaza to find a better life, but they would find a regular salary and have work security.”

She hailed the efforts of Gaza doctors but reiterated that they are looking for some kind of safety and stability.

“They have served patients and the wounded in the most difficult times,” she said, “but they have spent the best years of their life studying and getting the best skills and experience so they want to get some gains in order to have a secure and stable life for themselves and their families.”

Retired specialist of general health Yousef Musa said:

“The emigration of skilled doctors is a dangerous indicator because the Ministry of Health is forced to look for alternatives.”

He noted that the sole alternative is treatment abroad and this is very expensive and exhausts a large per cent of its budget.

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The 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Oil & Gas

November 11th, 2019 by Julianne Geiger

Make no mistake: Oil and gas companies may be doing some serious cost-cutting and slimming-and-trimming to stay competitive after the shale boom binge, but when it comes to employment, it’s still one of the best industries to hit up for a job.

Jobs are booming, just as much as U.S. oil and gas production is.

US oil production has increased from 11.7 million bpd at the start of 2019 to 12.6 millionby the end of October, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Natural gas production has risen as well, to 99.1 Bcf/d at the end of October—95 Bcf/d of which is from dry natural gas—up from 91.3 Bcf/d this time last year for total US natural gas production.

Those gains have translated into more oil and gas industry jobs.

US Oil and Gas Employment

The United States Traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency Sectors in 2018 employed 6.7 million Americans in 2018, according to the US Energy and Employment Report 2019, with nearly 1.5 million directly employed by the oil and gas industry, and another 1.2 million workers employed by the power generation sector, which includes all types of power generation, including oil and gas.

Employment in the oil and gas extraction and support services, specifically, was at its highest level in 2018 since the fall of 2014—the next most recent high.

And those jobs? None too shabby if you’re interested.

America’s energy independence push has resulted in a new high for US oil and gas workers. In fact, the energy and utility sectors have the highest median salary of any industry in the S&P 500.

Who’s Who in Energy

If you’re looking to make some cash in the oil and gas industry, you won’t have to look far. The oil industry is having a heck of a time recruiting a skilled workforce, and ExxonMobil, Phillips66, and Anadarko—all Texas based—have been more than willing to pony up the cash.

ExxonMobil’s median pay, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, came in at $171,375. Phillips66’s median pay was $196,407, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.

Compared to America’s overall median wage for advanced degree holders of $77,324, that’s downright generous. But what oil and gas jobs are the best?

Top Paying Oil and Gas Jobs

Pay isn’t everything, but it sure is something. And if you can’t woo employees with good corporate citizenship or your climate friendliness, you had better pony up the cash. So what jobs are oil and gas companies sinking the most money into in its quest to acquire good talent?

The list of annual salaries below, developed from the Global Talent Energy Index, is based on employees with six years of experience in the oil and gas industry:

#10 Production Engineer $125,600. Production engineers mostly carry petroleum engineering degrees and are responsible for designing and selection well equipment to get it to the production stage post-drilling. They also monitor the well while it is flowing to make sure the well is efficient and still commercially viable.

#9 Project Engineer $126,846. Project Engineers ensure that the design, construction and major maintenance projects are safely completed, and completed within budget. They review progress reports and proposed construction changes, as well as monitoring and communication project progress to stakeholders.

#8 HSE Manager $126,874. Health, Safety, and Environmental managers develop and implement organizational safety programs. They review and keep updated HSE policies, as well as conduct risk assessments and create precautionary measures. Requirements include a BA in occupational health, safety management or environmental science.

#7 Mechanical Engineer $127,828. Mechanical engineers support plant equipment, and design, develop, install, and maintain equipment that is used for processing oil and gas, with a focus on safety, reliability, quality, and sustainability.

#6 Geophysicist $128,965. A geophysicist studies the physical aspects of the earth in order to determine what lies beneath the surface of the earth.

#5 Drilling Engineer $129,944. This position manages rig staff and is responsible for assessing and maintaining wells, ensuring safety measures are implementing, and is generally responsible for the financial and technical operations of drilling for oil or gas.

#4 Reservoir Engineer $137,156. Reservoir Engineers draw on geology and fluid mechanics knowledge to find petroleum in underground reservoirs. They also assess the amount of petroleum reserves underground. Typically they have a degree in petroleum engineering.

#3 Construction Manager $145,000. CMs are responsible for delivering construction in compliance with HSE requirements and the schedule. They work closely with the project manager in leading teams to manage and control construction projects.

#2 Drilling Supervisor $148,476. Drilling supervisors are in charge of the drill operations and make sure drilling is completed on time. Unlike most of the other top jobs in the oil and gas industry, drilling supervisors often do not need a bachelor’s degree. However, years of experience are usually required. Some employers prefer degrees in drilling technology or mechanical engineering.

#1 Project Manager $157,795. The top paying job in the oil and gas industry is the Project Manager, and it’s no wonder. The PM is tasked with ensuring that an entire project from start to finish is on track, in budget, to specifications, and within safety guidelines. The PM also ensures that communication is flowing between groups. Essentially, the PM is the glue that holds an entire operation together—and companies are willing to pay for the best.

Top Paying Petrochemicals Jobs

The petrochemicals industry doesn’t get as much love as the oil and gas industry, but it is said to be the oil and gas industry’s future. Like the traditional oil and gas industry, petrochemicals are a booming business, although the salaries are not quite as high.

The top paying job in petrochemicals is that of the Process Engineer, which pays on average for a six-year veteran $123,400 per year. Quality Assurance Manager comes in at #2, which pays $122,190 per year. Other top jobs in the petrochemicals sector are Construction Manager (#3) at $117,856 per year, Mechanical Engineer (#4) at $111,630, and Chemical Engineer (#5) $98,636.

Top Paying Jobs in Renewables Sector

The renewables sector has something the other energy-related jobs don’t: they are appealing to the millennial generation. And as such, they tend to have an easier time with talent acquisition of doe-eyed job seekers looking to be excellent citizens.

And it’s good that they feel good about their jobs, because on average, they’re going to make less money.

The top paying job in the renewables sector is Construction Manager, at $118,730. The number two slot is held by the HSE Manager at $102,997, followed by Mechanical Engineer at $92,822.

Top Paying Jobs in the Nuclear Sector

We hear a lot about oil and gas here in the United States, but the US is also the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, according to the World Nuclear Association, producing more than 30% of the world’s total nuclear generation of electricity.

About 20% of the United States’ total electrical output comes from nuclear power, and despite a near 30-year slump for new builds, two new nuclear facilities are now in the works. In total, the US has 98 functioning nuclear power reactors spread across 30 states.

But the nuclear sector may find it difficult to attract new talent. The reputation the segment has, the technical nature of the work required, and the fact that the skills needed are specific to just nuclear are all working against the industry.

But there are great opportunities here, with the current nuclear workforce over the age of 55 representing a third of all workers in this sector, leaving the door open for the next generation—if they are interested.

So how do jobs in this segment measure up? Somewhere near the bottom of the pile, it would seem, but salaries are on the rise.

The top paying job in the nuclear sector is that of the Construction Manager at $118,565. Coming in second is the Nuclear Engineer, at $108,250 per year, with Electric Engineer in fourth place at $103,160.

Going forward, IHS predicts that by 2025, just the unconventional oil and natural gas value chain and energy-related chemicals activity will support 3.9 million jobs.

The United States accounted for 98% of all global oil production growth in 2018, and the EIA is expecting crude oil production in the US to reach 13.2 million barrels per day next year. Add to that the fact that the US is expected to retain its spot as the number one oil consumer of the world, US job growth for the oil and gas sector is expected to see more gains going forward.

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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

A DC foreign-policy apparatchik who oversaw Congress’ Syria Study Group proclaimed that the US military “owned” one-third of Syrian territory, including its “economic powerhouse,” then outlined a sadistic strategy for preventing reconstruction of the “rubble.”

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Despite President Donald Trump’s order of a partial withdrawal of troops from Syria, the United States’ regime-change war against the country continues in broad daylight.

At a US government-funded think tank at the forefront of shaping Washington’s interventionist designs, an American official succinctly laid out the continued-regime change strategy.

Dana Stroul, a longtime US diplomat who oversaw a congressionally mandated study of Syria, outlined the four-pronged plan for what she called the “new phase” of the war:

  • US military occupation of Syria’s “resource-rich” “economic powerhouse”;
  • “Diplomatic isolation” of the Syrian government;
  • Economic sanctions against Damascus and its allies; and
  • “Preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back into Syria.”

It is beyond debate that this approach will lead to massive suffering, privation, and even the deaths of masses of Syrian. But when Stroul presented it before a panel, the potential impact on civilians was was not even mentioned once.

This disturbing plan was articulated on October 31 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a militaristic think tank funded by the US government and its allies, along with the arms industry, fossil fuel corporations, and banks. In April, The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal exposed a secret meeting at CSIS where US and Latin American officials mulled a military invasion of Venezuela. Though it was open to the public, the think tank’s recent meeting on Syria was no less militaristic.

Titled “Syria in the Gray Zone,” the panel featured the two co-chairs of the Syria Study Group, a bi-partisan working group appointed by Congress to draft a new US war plan for Syria. One co-chair was chosen to represent the Republican Party, and the other to represent the Democratic Party, but both marched in lockstep agreement in support of continued war on Syria, and their views were virtually indistinguishable.

Both of the congressionally appointed co-chairs also happen to work at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel think tank that grew out of the AIPAC lobbying juggernaut. Their Syria Study Group was a collection of hardline interventionists from pro-Israel and Gulf monarchy-funded DC think tanks, as well as Mark Kirk, the former Republican senator who was one of the all-time greatest recipients of funding from Israel lobbying outfits.

Dana Stroul, the Democratic co-chair of the Syria Study Group, is a longtime US government operative who has spent years drafting Middle East policy. While serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she oversaw US weapons sales and foreign aid for the State Department and Washington’s soft-power arm, the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

In her speech at CSIS, Stroul sketched out the ongoing regime-change strategy, summarizing the points made in the Syria Study Group final report in September.

US military ‘owns’ one-third of Syria, ‘the rest is rubble’

Dana Stroul reluctantly acknowledged that “there’s limited appetite domestically here” for more US intervention in Syria. But she noted that the American regime-change war is far from over.

Resorting to classically colonial rhetoric, Stroul casually noted that “one-third of Syrian territory was owned via the US military, with its local partner the Syrian Democratic Forces.”

She made it a point to stress that this sovereign Syrian land “owned” by Washington also happened to be “resource-rich,” the “economic powerhouse of Syria, so where the hydrocarbons are… as well as the agricultural powerhouse.”

Neocolonial-style military occupation occupation was to be complimented by a political siege of the Syrian government, Stroul explained.

Calling for the “political and diplomatic isolation of the Assad regime,” Stroul urged the US to continue “holding the line on diplomatic isolation, preventing embassies from going back into Damascus.”

She then advised ramping up of the “economic sanctions architecture.”

Finally, Stroul proposed leveraging reconstruction aid as a tool against the Syrian government.

Noting that the US government’s humanitarian aid and “stabilization assistance” for Syria has gone to its ally, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northeast, Stroul urged the US to keep the rest of the country in ruins until it achieved its goal of regime change.

“The rest of Syria though is rubble,” Stroul stated. “And what the Russians want and what Assad wants is economic reconstruction. And that is something that the United States can basically hold a card on, via the international financial institutions and our cooperation with the Europeans.”

Emphasizing that Washington’s goal in has been to block reconstruction by Damascus, Stroul insisted, “We should hold a line on preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back into Syria.”

‘The conflict is not over; it’s entering a new phase’

President Trump’s Syria policy largely mirrors the sadistic strategy outlined by Stroul at the Syrian Study Group.

In October, Trump ordered a partial withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria, inspiring a chorus of outrage in official Washington. He ultimately left hundreds of soldiers to occupy Syria’s oil and gas-rich region, to starve the Syrian government of funding needed for reconstruction efforts.

“We’re keeping the oil. I’ve always said that – keep the oil,” Trump explained. “We may have to fight for the oil. It’s ok. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there’s massive amounts of oil.”

Trump added,

“We should be able to take some also, and what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly.”

At the CSIS panel, Dana Stroul argued that even with the US military presence in flux, “the other forms of leverage remain compelling.”

“If we’re going to hold the line on the diplomatic isolation, on moving forward with the economic sanctions architecture, and holding the line on reconstruction aid, perhaps those things could still be compelling,” she said.

“Because in our view, what our assessment was was that the conflict has not changed; the conflict is not over; it’s entering a new phase,” Stroul added.

The Republican co-chair of the Syria Study Group Michael Singh,who is also a fellow at the pro-Israel WINEP think tank, echoed Stroul’s argument. “We still have leverage,” he said. Although Trump’s proposed withdrawal has weakened it.

“I’ve been critical the decision to withdraw; I think it was the wrong decision,” Singh explained. “But I think that case can be overstated. I don’t think that Russia, the Assad regime, Iran, now have sort of an easy path to victory, or even an easy path to consolidating control, whether in northeast Syria or elsewhere.”

Transcript

A transcript of Stroul’s comments at the CSIS panel follows below:

“We argued in our recommendation section that, taken as a whole, even though in the United States, there’s limited appetite domestically here or on the hill to match the level of resources or even diplomatic investment of the Iranians and the Russians in Syria, that the United States still had compelling forms of leverage on the table to shape an outcome that was more conducive and protective of US interests.

And we identified four. So the first one was the one-third of Syrian territory that was owned via the US military, with its local partner the Syrian Democratic Forces. Now this was a light footprint on the US military, only about a thousand troops over the course of the Syria Study Group’s report, and then the tens of thousands of forces, both Kurdish and Arab, under the Syrian Democratic Forces.

And that one-third of Syria is the resource-rich, it’s the economic powerhouse of Syria, so where the hydrocarbons are, which obviously is very much in the public debate here in Washington these days, as well as the agricultural powerhouse.

But we argued that it wasn’t just about this one-third of Syrian territory that the US military and our military presence owned, both to fight ISIS and also as leverage for affecting the the overall political process for the broader Syrian conflict. There were three other areas of leverage.

One is political and diplomatic isolation of the Assad regime… So holding the line on diplomatic isolation, preventing embassies from going back into Damascus.

Two is the economic sanctions architecture. So some of this is part of the maximum-pressure campaign of the Trump administration on Iran, but there’s a whole suite of both executive and congressional sanctions on Syria and Bashar al-Assad, both for human rights abuses in Syria and to the backers of Assad for their activities in support of him in Syria.

And three was reconstruction aid. So the United States remains the overall largest single donor of humanitarian aid to Syrians both inside Syria and refugees outside of Syria. And there was some stabilization assistance in the part of Syria that was liberated from ISIS and controlled via the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern-eastern Syria.

The rest of Syria though is rubble. And what the Russians want and what Assad wants is economic reconstruction. And that is something that the United States can basically hold a card on, via the international financial institutions and our cooperation with the Europeans.

So we argued that absent behavioral changes by the Assad regime, we should hold a line on preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back into Syria.

So now in the past month it looked like one of the most compelling forms of leverage, which was this US military presence, was taken off the table quite fast. Now … the news suggests that maybe that military presence will stay for some period of time.

And the problem with this is no matter what the US military presence is or isn’t, at this point a lot of the the PR damage is done. So if you’re trying to get allies and partners in Europe or otherwise to work with our US military in completing the fight against ISIS, most countries are going to be unwilling or hesitant to contribute more than they already have, because they can’t plan on the United States. Because this is like the third time that decisions have come out of Washington in a rather unplanned manner about whether or not the US military is staying.

Mike and I have argued recently that the other forms of leverage remain compelling, if resourced effectively and prioritized at the highest levels of the US government.

So if we’re going to hold the line on the diplomatic isolation, on moving forward with the economic sanctions architecture, and holding the line on reconstruction aid, perhaps those things could still be compelling, because in our view, what our assessment was was that the conflict has not changed; the conflict is not over; it’s entering a new phase.”

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Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

Featured image is from The Grayzone

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On Friday, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was released from prison, pending resolution of his appeal against charges he and his legal team call phony.

Brazilian Judge Danilo Pereira ordered his release in response to a request by his defense team. His Twitter account released a video of his release holding a banner with supporters saying: “Lula innocent.” Separately he tweeted: Lula free.”

He’s Brazil’s most popular political figure, dubiously convicted in July 2017 of accepting an alleged $1.2 million bribe from Brazilian construction company OAS in exchange for helping the firm obtain government contracts — charges he denied.

Convicting and imprisoning him was and remains all about preventing him from seeking reelection last year.

If allowed to run, he likely would have handily defeated US-supported hardline, pro-business, anti-populist Jair Bolsonaro.

In 2016, US dark forces conspired with Brazilian fascists to wrongfully impeach and remove democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff from office.

Tyranny replaced democracy, continuing under Bolsonaro, implementing a wish list for markets and investors begun under Rouseff’s illegitimate successor Michel Temer.

At the time of Lula’s conviction, his lead attorney Valeska Texeira Zanin Martin said

“(n)o credible evidence of guilt has been produced, and overwhelming proof of his innocence blatantly ignored,” adding:

“This politically motivated judgement attacks Brazil’s rule of law, democracy and Lula’s basic human rights. It is of immense concern to the Brazilian people and to the international community.”

Bank and real estate records proved Lulu’s innocence, she stressed. Prosecutor Henrique Pozzobon virtually admitted long knives were out to get Lula, saying: “We don’t have to prove…We have conviction.”

Lula was acquitted of “imputations of corruption and money laundering involving the storage of presidential stock for lack of sufficient proof of materiality.” Other dubious charges against him remain outstanding.

Martin vowed to prove Lula’s innocence on all charges against him, adding she intends getting them all reversed.

His Friday release pending resolution of his appeal came after spending 580 days in prison — to smooth the way for continuation of fascist rule in Brazil.

If unable to reverse dubious charges against him, he’ll be re-imprisoned to serve out the remainder of his eight year/10 month sentence.

Interviewed last April in prison, he denounced the Temer and Bolsonaro regimes, saying:

“I’ve never seen a (Brazilian) president salute the American flag. I’ve never seen a president go around saying: ‘I love the United States, I love it!’ ”

“You should love your mother.  You should love your country. What’s all this about loving the United States?”

“Does anyone really think the US is going to favor Brazil? Americans think of themselves first, second, third, fourth, fifth – and if there’s any time left over, they think about Americans. And these Brazilian lackeys go around thinking the Americans will do anything for us.”

“(W)e can’t have (a) country being run governed by a bunch of lunatics (and US) lackeys…The country doesn’t deserve this and above all the people do not deserve this.”

Unless exonerated, Lula can be barred from seeking elected office again. His tenure as president from 2003 — 2010 was no paragon of progressive governance.

But it was a far cry from fascist rule under Temer and Bolsonaro, serving privileged interests at the expense of ordinary people, exploited to benefit them — at the same time, returning Brazil to US colonial status.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to resign Sunday after senior army and police chiefs called on him to do so following weeks of right-wing unrest and violence against his Oct. 20 elections victory, in what his government has called a coup by opposition forces in the country. 

“I decided to resign from my position so that Carlos Mesa and Luis Camacho stop abusing and harming thousands of brothers … I have the obligation to seek peace and it hurts a lot that we face Bolivians, for this reason, so I will send my letter of resignation to the Plurinational Assembly of Bolivia,” the former president of Bolivia said in a press release.

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera also said that he was resigning from his position. The two leaders said that they would be handing their resignation letters to the country’s National Assembly.

Since both President and Vice Presiden resigned, the president of the Senate, a position held by Adriana Salvatierra of the MAS party was supposed to assume the post but she later issued her resignation as well as the president of the Chamber of Deputies.

Currently, the line of succession is broken in Bolivia.

Morales and Garcia Linera will stay in Chimore in the central Department of Cochabamba to work with the people.

“We will come back and we will be millions as Tupac Amaru II said,” Morales declared.

The resignation comes after Morales proposed a dialogue process with the opposition parties but was rejected and even accepted the Organization of American States’ (OAS) call for new elections.

However, due to strong violent onslaughts against militants and leaders of the Movement To Socialism (MAS), intimidation of journalists, burning of residences and betrayal of political allies and members of the National Police, Morales and his Vice President decided to leave the government in order to prevent more violence.

In the interview with teleSUR’s correspondent in Bolivia Freddy Morales, the former president said the decision to call new elections was to preserve the peace in Bolivia “so that we do not confront the Bolivian family,” while calling on the opposition protesters to end the strikes and remove roadblocks in order to not harm the economy of the country.

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Boris Johnson’s 19 New Powers Will Kill Democracy

November 11th, 2019 by True Publica

Boris Johnson’s amazing Brexit deal, which has turned out to be a worse deal than the bad deal rejected three times via Theresa May has not just been discredited – it has been blown completely out of the water.

Part of the worse bits than Theresa May’s deal was that Boris Johnson decided that his powers as a Prime Minister should in fact extend to that of an authoritarian by way of giving himself executive powers without the need of parliament to scrutinise or challenge him. This was the real reason for cramming the date of the election in so tightly and then have parliament dissolved so that scrutiny was made as difficult as possible.

For example – the EU customs arrangements within Johnson’s new Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) are allowed to be routinely updated. In Para 23, it says that – “any such updates will be able to take effect without the need for further domestic legislation.” Little things like that leave the door wide open to agreeing to all sorts of things later without debate. This one example and the others with it have been called Henry VIII powers.

In our article of 29th October, we wrote:

“Let’s assume Johnson wins (the election) with a workable majority. He has granted himself something known as “Henry VIII powers.”. They’re named after Henry VIII because he was the first person in Britain to use them (in the 1540s). What they did was let him change laws without passing new ones. In essence – a Henry VIII power enables a minister to amend an Act of Parliament without needing another Act of Parliament. Normally this is done by issuing regulations. This is more than just controversial as it reduces the government’s accountability to Parliament. In other words – it gives the government executive powers over the scrutiny of Parliament (representative democracy). While MPs can amend Acts, they can’t do that to regulations.”

It is worth mentioning that in the WAB, Johnson has not granted himself one of these powers but 19 and then left just a few days for this to be challenged.

However, it turns out that peers in the House of Lords were doing a bit of overtime where this power grab by Johnson has been inspected and dissected. They were not happy and said so – but in reality, do not have the ability to do anything about it right now.

David Hencke is an investigative journalist, named ‘Political Journalist of the Year’ in 2012. He was the journalist that uncovered and reported the cash-for-questions scandal, Peter Mandelson’s secret loans and other such political wrong-doing.

Hencke writes about this dissection of Johnson’s WAB report by peers –

The report draws attention to the ramping up of the so-called Henry VIII powers under the Northern Ireland protocol to allow ministers to change or repeal laws without parliamentary legislation. It also points out that there is no provision in the law for any consultation procedures with the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or the Northern Ireland Assembly during negotiations with the EU for a new trade deal. Each body will simply be informed about the progress of the negotiations.”

Another such power spotted are new rules allowing ministers to alter criminal sentences and change charges by any public body without a debate in Parliament – unless MPs and peers spot the change and demand a debate. Imagine a power like that in the hands of people like Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The WAB report states:

“There is no restriction on… powers being used to impose or increase taxation or fees, make retrospective provision, create a relevant criminal offence (i.e. with a penalty exceeding two years imprisonment), establish a public authority, amend, repeal or revoke the Human Rights Act 1998 or any subordinate legislation made under it, or amend or repeal the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 2006 or the Northern Ireland Act 1998.”

What the WAB does, if enacted into law by way of Boris Johnson becoming PM with a decent majority is this – the effective end of democratic principles. Take for instance, how terror laws started in 2000, meant to apprehend killers and murderers – ended up with the BBC using them quite legally to locate and fine TV licence fee dodgers. Fast forward to now and much harsher penalties being considered by ministers on Extinction Rebellion protestors as reportedby The Telegraph on 11th October.

Brexit is a trajectory that is spiralling downwards and if anything will give far too much power to the wrong people. Was this not the whole idea in the first place – taking back control? The problem is the ultras will have it, the so-called Brexit Spartans will have it, Dominic Cummings will have it, and they are funded by billionaires and corporate interests.

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Russian Connections in Albion: The ISC Report

November 11th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The UK election campaign has kicked off, and merrily confused are the major candidates.  The chaotic scene was made a touch more interesting with the refusal on the part of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to clear the release of a report by the intelligence and security committee on claimed Russian interference in British politics.

This did not impress the committee’s chairman Dominic Grieve, the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party.  Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornbury, speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, wondered what the government had “to hide”.  In the absence of an explanation, the suggestion was that No 10 was cooking something smelly, and behind well sealed doors.

News outlets have been left to speculate about the delay.  The suggestion that the findings could damage the Conservatives is top of the list.  “We know the report looks at a wide range of Russian activity – ranging from traditional espionage to subversion – and not just in the UK,” suggests Gordon Corera of the BBC.  We also know that the report draws from figures within the intelligence community – MI5, MI6, GCHQ – and a number of selected experts.

But the scale of such interference, in terms of cyber infiltration and electoral meddling, has been questioned.   This has not filled such individuals as Paddy McGuinness, former deputy national security adviser, with much confidence.  Reforms in terms of transparency and the handling of data by political parties, he insists, should be of utmost importance.

Ones hypothesis doing the Whitehall crawl is the idea that the Kremlin has its paws over various notable Conservatives.  This point was already being made last year when it was revealed that Sergey Nabolin of the Russian embassy had been keeping company with members of cabinet at London’s Hurlingham Club in 2014 at one of those rather expensive shindigs.  (Nabolin, it had been noted, had gone so far as to call Johnson “our good friend”.)  The next year, Nabolin’s diplomatic visa was revoked. Much handwringing ensued.

The exploits of Nabolin were noted by Paul Staines in The Spectator.  He networked vigorously – though that could hardly be held against a person from the embassy, whose job it is to find the places, the spots, and the pulses of life in the host country.  But the Hurlingham Club was another matter. “The security is extremely tight, and the guest list closely vetted, because guests mingle with the PM and cabinet ministers.”  There was an unmistakable sense that Russian money was washing through, and that the link with the Conservatives was but as element of the entire picture.

The Sunday Times has made the claim that nine Russian business people who have donated money to the Conservative Party have been named in the ISC document.  These include Alexander Temerko, whose previous employment includes a stint in the Kremlin’s defence ministry.  Over the last seven years, his wallet has brought forth some £1.2 million for the Conservatives.

Johnson, it must be said, has also enjoyed himself at various gatherings with Russians of note.  While flying the British flag as foreign secretary, he spent time at an Italian villa with Evgeny Lebedev playing host.  This might not have seemed that strange: Johnson had been an editor of The Spectator magazine; Lebedev runs the Evening Standard.  But this has not stopped the tittering.  The obvious point here is that politicians, notably the foreign minister, are bound to do this sort of thing, though post-2016 politics is filled with association and innuendo.  To meet is to be complicit.

Johnson’s senior advisor, Dominic Cummings, has also made it into the ring of speculation.  Between 1994 and 1997, he spent time in Russia, though not much is known of his stint.  Nothing to get too excited about, but the point has drawn Thornbury’s interest, who has pressed the government with certain queries by letter.  “I would assume that – given the seniority of  his position and the influence it gives him over decision-making at the top of government – that he was subject to the highest level of developed vetting (DV) and that – as a result – he is able to study ‘top secret’ intelligence and attend meetings on the UK’s military and security operations overseas.”  If history is an aid to anything in this regard, such vetting processes are bound to count for little: class and education speak volumes, substance, less so.  (The quibbler is bound to suggest that Oxford doesn’t do a good line in industrious traitors the way Cambridge does.)

Grieve is concerned that the letter of convention is not being followed with regards the report.  “The protocols are quite clear.  If the prime minister has a good reason for preventing publication he should explain to the committee what it is, and do it within 10 days of him receiving the report. If not, it should be reported.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid, in responding to this battle of formalities, is making the claim that normal process is being observed; nothing here to see, move on.  But he is obviously being charged with the task of deflecting any claims that a Tory-Russian nexus of influence exists.  He stressed the point on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.  “When it comes to party donors, whether it is the Conservative Party or any other party, there are very strict rules that need to be followed and of course we will always follow those rules.”

Such an assertion is fairly meaningless, returning back to the basics of a gentleman’s old school understanding.  They might give us money, but don’t worry yourselves about it, dear electors: this is money without influence.  “I’m sure as sure as I can be,” insists Javid.  “I’m absolutely sure in terms of our party and I am very confident about how we are funded and we are very transparent about that.”  The ISC report might well suggest a different story and, Russia or not, donations do buy influence in politics, however gauged.

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

Pentagon officials asserted Thursday U.S. military authority over Syrian oil fields because U.S. forces are acting under the goal of “protecting Americans from terrorist activity” and would be within their rights to shoot a representative of the Syrian government who attempted to retake control over that country’s national resource.

The comments came from Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman and Navy Rear Admiral William D. Byrne Jr. during a press briefing in which the two men were asked repeatedly about the legal basis the U.S. is claiming to control Syrian oil fields.

The briefing came less than two weeks after Defense Secretary Mark Esper said,

“That’s our mission, to secure the oil fields” in the Deir ez-Zor area of eastern Syria.

President Donald Trump‘s comments before and after that remark —

“We’re going to be protecting [the oil], and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future,” and “The oil… can help us, because we should be able to take some”— were seized on by critics who claimed Trump was suggesting violating international law by plundering another country’s resources and openly saying the U.S. was pursuing war for oil.

Hoffman, in his comments Thursday, gave a different message—that “the revenue from this is not going to the U.S. This is going to the SDF,” referring to the Kurdish-led and U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, who are battling ISIS. Byrne claimed that the U.S. has been waging the oil field control mission alongside SDF and that the goal was to prevent ISIS from obtaining the oil revenue.

But, as one reporter pointed out, ISIS fighters “have no armor. They have no aircraft.”

“Do they have the capability to actually seize the oil fields?” the reporter asked. “And isn’t this really about Russia and Syria seizing those oil fields?”

Hoffman replied that the goal was “to prevent a resurgence” of ISIS which would be facilitated if the terrorist group had access to the oil revenue.

When the Pentagon officials were pressed on whether “U.S. troops have the… authorization to shoot if a representative of the Syrian government comes to the.. oil fields and says, ‘I am here to take property of these oil fields,'” Byrne said, “our commanders always retain the right and the obligation of self-defense when faced with a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent.”

The officials were reminded by a reporter that “the government of Syria is still, based on international law… [the] recognized legitimate government.” Hoffman said, “Everyone in the region knows where American forces are. We’re very clear with anyone in the region in working to deconflict where our forces are. If anyone—we work to ensure that… no one approaches or has—shows hostile intent to our forces, and if they do, our commanders maintain the right of self-defense.”

Hoffman later said that the oil field mission couldnt be separated from the fight to defeat ISIS. Operations in “Syria are done under the commander-in-chief’s authorities to—with regards to protecting Americans from terrorist activity.”

Pressed again by a reporter about the “legal basis for… the United States military to take and control the natural resources inside the boundaries of another country,” Hoffman responded, “the legal basis for this comes under the commander-in-chief’s authority for us to be conducting counter-terrorism efforts against D-ISIS. And I —I get your point when you’re trying to decouple the ISIS issue from the Syria issue, but it is not a decoupled issue.”

Later Hoffman was asked by a reporter if “President Trump [has] legal authority to take over these oil fields or is the United States stealing the oil?”

Hoffman repeated his stance that the operations were a part of the effort to defeat terrorists and stopping “ISIS from obtaining the oil fields is an effort to prevent them from obtaining revenue so that they can fund their terrorist operations globally.”

The Pentagon official also appeared to push back against the notion that the mission to control the oil fields is new. “Just to be clear, we’ve been in this area with the same mission of preventing ISIS from getting those oil fields for the last four years. This is not a new mission. Everybody seems to be—believe that that has changed. That is not —that is not the case.”

U.S. forces may also stay with that effort for years to come, Hoffman suggested.

“We’re committed to [the defeat of ISIS], and we’re committed to staying in the region,” he said. “We’re committed to, in this particular case, having troops in Syria in a way that helps us continue the D-ISIS mission as long as we believe it’s necessary.”

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An interfaith organisation which has frequently attacked Jeremy Corbyn over allegations of antisemitism and which has described the Labour Party as a “Stalinist cult” is receiving support from the UK’s Home Office.

Faith Matters receives funding through a Home Office counter-extremism programme, Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT), which offers grants and other assistance including social media training to help recipient organisations to “amplify” their work.

The organisation has regularly used its Twitter account to attack Corbyn, both directly and by retweeting critical articles.

A number of those attacks have related to Corbyn’s handling of complaints of antisemitism within the party which have beset Labour since he was elected leader in 2015, but are by no means limited to that topic.

It has also posted and shared content suggesting that Corbyn is:

  • sympathetic to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
  • supportive of governments and organisations responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims
  • considered a threat to national security by British intelligence agencies

The Home Office’s funding for Faith Matters appears to raise fresh questions about political attacks on the leader of the official opposition by organisations benefiting from government support.

Last year, the foreign office faced questions from Labour over its support for a Scottish-based think tank, The Institute for Statecraft, which was found to have shared material critical of Corbyn on its Twitter feed.

Speaking in parliament about that case at the time, Emily Thornberry, Labour’s foreign affairs spokesperson, said: “It is a cardinal rule of public life in our country that official resources should not be used for political purposes.”

The head of the Institute for Statecraft was subsequently reported to have written to Corbyn to apologise for “mistakes” made by the organisation.

‘Democracy, free speech, mutual respect’

Faith Matters describes itself as “a vehicle to enable faith communities to reduce conflict using conflict resolution tools” and says that it works on “integration, cohesion, hate crime and countering extremism projects”. Its work has included providing “counter-messaging projects” and it lists government agencies among its stakeholders, according to public records filed by the organisation.

The organisation is named as a recipient of support from the BSBT programme in a list published by the Home Office.

“The BSBT programme is built on a foundation of shared values, including democracy, free speech, mutual respect and opportunity for all,” the Home Office says in guidance for applicants.

It also says that organisations must be transparent about support they receive through the programme and would likely be required to acknowledge it on their websites.

According to a Home Office evaluation published last month, more than £9m ($11.5) in grant support has been awarded to recipients since BSBT was launched in 2016, while in-kind communications support had been provided for 115 projects which had created 373 “products” to date.

In-kind support is delivered by advertising agency M&C Saatchi and includes “support to develop communication materials or training in social media”.

Middle East Eye contacted Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters, to ask what support the organisation had received through the BSBT programme.

In his response, Mughal refused to engage with the issues which MEE had raised, which included legitimate questions about the use to which Faith Matters puts public funds.

After MEE followed up with further queries, Faith Matters took the extraordinary step of publishing a pre-emptive article on its website attacking both MEE as well as individuals at the organisation.

Bizarrely, Faith Matters suggested that for MEE to ask questions about a potential conflict of interest (namely, that Faith Matters is a recipient of government money yet mounts political attacks on the opposition leader) amounted to peddling a “conspiracy theory”.

Faith Matters said it had used BSBT funding to “counter far-right and online extremism and promote civil society and democratic engagement to young people”.  It said it had chosen not to highlight that funding because members of its staff had been subjected to “threats, intimidation and abuse”.

It said it had not received social media training or assistance in counter-messaging from the Home Office.

Defending its attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, Faith Matters said it “has been and will continue to be critical of the poor way in which antisemitism has been tackled within the Labour Party and the way that Jeremy Corbyn has linked up with groups who have a very poor track record of relationships with communal Jewish organisations”.

Faith Matters also stated that it had been equally strident in attacking the Conservatives over their approach to problems of Islamophobia within the party, including past comments by Boris Johnson.

It is the case that Faith Matters and Mughal spoke out against Johnson’s comments in a newspaper column in August 2018 in which he compared Muslim women who wear the veil to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”, and it has backed calls for an investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

But an analysis of Faith Matters’ tweets since it was listed by the Home Office as a recipient of BSBT support in February 2018 demonstrated that it has tweeted about Labour and Corbyn more than 200 times, while tweeting less than 40 times about the Conservatives, Johnson and Theresa May, his predecessor as party leader and prime minister.

Either way, Faith Matters has not explained how its concerns about Labour and alleged antisemitism can possibly justify unrelated, purely political attacks on Corbyn with no conceivable relevance to the antisemitism issue, such as tweets describing a “Stalinist cult of Corbyn”.

Muslims Against Anti-Semitism

Faith Matters is also linked to another campaign group called Muslims Against Anti-Semitism (MAAS) which has been highly critical of Corbyn.

In September 2018, it sent copies of a book by the former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks to Labour MPs after Sacks had described Corbyn as an antisemite and compared him to Enoch Powell, a Conservative politician who was accused of fuelling racism against immigrants in his so-called “rivers of blood” speech in 1968.

Labour called the comments “absurd and offensive”.

While 30 Labour MPs were sent a copy of Sacks’ “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence”, Corbyn was also sent another Sacks book entitled “Lessons in Leadership”.

Faith Matters said MAAS did not receive any government funding.

Corbyn ‘utter poison’

Mughal, the founder of both Faith Matters and MAAS, has also written opinion articles and been quoted in stories attacking Corbyn.

In March, Mughal was quoted in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper describing Corbyn as “utter poison”, telling the newspaper that he believed the politician had refused to meet him because of his links with Jewish groups.

A Labour spokesperson told the paper that the party was not aware of any request from Mughal to meet Corbyn. MEE asked Mughal to clarify whether he had made a request and to whom it was directed. Mughal did not respond.

And in an opinion article in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper in July, Mughal questioned Corbyn’s track record of pro-Palestinian activism, suggesting that “years of imbibing the conspiracy theories of the far left as well as political Islamists” had “led him into the realms of virulent conspiracism in relation to Israel”.

Another article retweeted by Faith Matters last month was a comment piece by Azeem Ibrahim published on the Spectator website under the headline “Is Jeremy Corbyn a friend of all Muslims?”

In a tweet thread promoting the article, Ibrahim, who is a Faith Matters patron, wrote: “I estimate that Corbyn has openly supported regimes and groups that have killed over 690,000 Muslims (the most conservative estimate).”

In another tweet, Ibrahim suggested that Corbyn had not supported Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp fighting against the Syrian government during the country’s civil war because he supported Assad as an “anti-imperialist”.

Faith Matters commented:

“This is SO important. When Palestinians were massacred in the Yarmouk camps by Assad forces, was there a peep from Corbyn? Not a thing.”

In fact, however, Corbyn has put his name to a number of parliamentary early day motions condemning the Syrian government since 2011 including motions in 2013 and 2014 specifically highlighting the plight of Palestinians and Syrians under attack and besieged in Yarmouk and other areas.

Mughal and Faith Matters have had close links to successive Conservative-led governments. In 2012, Mughal set up the Tell MAMA project which monitors anti-Muslim hate crime with government funding.

He currently sits on a panel of experts advising the Home Office-appointed Commission for Countering Extremism, and was a member of former prime minister David Cameron’s Extremism Task Force and an advisor to former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on preventing radicalisation and extremism.

MEE also asked the Home Office for details about the support it had provided to Faith Matters.

A spokesperson said:

“The Building a Stronger Britain Together programme allows independent organisations to administer vital projects to tackle extremist narratives that can spread through communities.

“All groups undergo strict due diligence prior to being given funding and the support they receive is kept under constant review.”

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The 5G Roll Out of 20,000 Telecom Satellites. Cosmic Junk

November 11th, 2019 by Richard Gale

For years, scientists have warned about the dangers of enormous amounts of debris orbiting our planet. Aside from wrenches and other tools used by astronauts, plastic bags, and yes even a toothbrush, according to the federally-funded Areospace organization, the greater dangers are obsolete spacecraft, portions of damaged and disabled satellites, rocket fragments, flywheels, and nuclear reactor cores that have broken up or collided with various other objects. Yet even a screwdriver traveling at an average of 17,500 mph, with an impact velocity of 21,000 mph, can be very destructive if it were to crash into a satellite, rendering it inoperable. And this simply adds to more useless junk, now estimated at 128 million small bits of debris under 1cm and the 34,000 larger pieces, floating above our heads. Imagine being hit with a piece of space scrap the size of a sugar cube is “equivalent of standing next to an exploding hand grenade.”

A Business Insider story about space debris noted that the US government already tracks 23,000 objects regularly, including China’s bus-size Tiangong-1 space station that incinerated in orbit. In February of 2011, a Russian military satellite collided with an American Iridium commercial satellite. The former disintegrated into hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris while the latter spun out of control. Approximately 2,000 of these larger objects are being tracked regularly. Three thousand large objects from the Chinese anti-satellite weapon FY-1C, which the Chinese military deliberately blew up, also have to be routinely monitored. As more and more satellites, space stations, rocket and missile remains, and a variety of other orbiting technologies are shot into space, the more frequent these accidents will occur.

This has raised serious concerns among space agencies that we may be heading towards the creation of a “debris belt” that might lead to a critical climax known as a Kessler Syndrome event.  The Kessler Syndrome, named after Donald Kessler, a scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, who warned about such an event in a 1978 paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, refers to the exponential increase in space junk leading to a tipping point that would in turn trigger a cascade of collisions between orbiting objects. This could make lower orbital space inaccessible for hundreds of years. In addition, it would dramatically impair, and likely disengage, telecommunication operations, weather forecasting, interfere with airline and GPS navigation, and military and national security surveillance and operations. There are no international treaties in place to deal with this crisis nor concerted collaborative efforts to limit the further trashing of space. In the meantime the US government spends enormous amounts of money simply monitoring 24/7 potential collisions and to maneuver functioning satellites out of harm’s way.

Since the launch of the first satellite, the Soviet Union’s Sputnik in 1957, there have only been 8,378 satellites lofted into the heavens thus far. That may not seem to be many over the course six decades, nevertheless the threats posed by space debris is becoming an issue of growing concern as satellite launches steadily increase annually. According to the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs, there were slightly under 5,000 satellites in the Earth’s orbit at the start of 2019. However the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that only 1,957 of these are actually operative. In other words, over 75 percent of orbiting satellites are revolving clutter.

If some space scientists are worried today about the potential of a Kessler Syndrome cascade, the implementation of 5G technology, the global installation of the “internet of things,” is going to accelerate the probability of this catastrophe astronomically.

Speaking before a 5G conference in Oslo last October, United Nation’s staff member Claire Edwards warned of the 5G efforts to dramatically colonize the lower orbital space with a minimum of 20,000 5G satellites by 2022.  Without our governments’ and the Big Telecom Industry’s impatience to engulf the planet in 5G, and with the full support of the military and intelligence complexes, there would be absolutely no need for this kind of expansive satellite colonization of the Earth’s lower orbit.

Orbiting technologies and satellites are not only threatened by collisions with high velocity cosmic junk. Additional threats, which humans have absolutely no control over, are solar activities such as solar winds, coronal holes, coronal mass ejections or CMEs and solar flares. During the 2003 geomagnetic storm, “10 percent of the world’s satellite fleet suffered malfunctions.” In a Scientific American article, “Solar Storms: Effects on Satellites,” a super solar storm could cause years’ worth of damage and wear on a satellite within a few hours. The article states, “a recurrence of the 1859 solar superstorm would be a cosmic Katrina, causing billions of dollars damage to satellites, power grids and radio communications.” Financial Times estimated the cost of a plasma storm would be in the trillions and knock out our most critical satellite systems. Such a massive coronal mass ejection from the sun’s thermonuclear reactor, known as a Carrington Event and containing up to 10 billion tons of solar plasma, gas and magnetic radiation, would kill the 5G internet. It could be the end game for years before becoming operable again.

The type of satellite that connects signals to your cell phone is a Low Earth Orbit satellite or LEO. These are the most susceptible to impact with space debris.  Professor Richard Horne from the British Antarctic Survey, a scientific research project that relies on satellite-generated measurements for monitoring climate changes at the southern pole, has warned that the negligence in the commercial satellite sector, which is betting on gigantic profits from the 5G Dream, could have serious consequences. “People are trying to use more commercial off-the-shelf components,” says Prof. Horne, “rather than components made to operate in space.” He continues, “many systems have not been tested in a major [solar] storm so there is a lot of uncertainty about what might happen.”

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is planning to install 12,000 satellites alone, including 1,585 in low earth orbits (LEO) and 7,518 positioned at very low earth orbits (VLEO). He expects to control 50 percent of all internet traffic. Last month, SpaceX widened its ambitions to seek permission to launch an additional 30,000 satellites thereby raising the commercial space industry’s total to 53,000 — twenty-six times more than now orbiting the Earth. The Institute of Electric and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) estimates that the combined mass of Musk’s adventure will be ten times greater than the International Space Station. SpaceX is betting on the uncertain promise that when these Tesla Model-3 automobile sized VLEO satellites reach their final days, they will burn up during their descent through the atmosphere before reaching the Earth’s surface. The science shows otherwise. Much debris will remain in addition to reaching the Earth’s surface.

Besides satellites being damaged and inoperative from space clutter and solar storm events, satellites are not immortal. They have a limited lifespan. An LEO satellite’s average life is between 5-8 years above our atmosphere. In other words, starting in another eight years, all of these satellites will need to be replaced, further adding to the ocean of electronic waste. In addition., during the course of their life in orbit, many will malfunction or be damaged and need to be replaced. We have already trashed our oceans, so what is preventing us from doing the same in space?

Furthermore, despite what pro-5G voices wish us to believe, the roll out and ongoing maintenance of the 5G global blanket is not green and climate friendly. The steady launch of thousands of suborbital rockets will “create a persistent layer of black carbon particles in the northern stratosphere that could cause potentially significant changes in the global atmospheric circulation and distributions of ozone and temperature,” according to a paper released by the Aerospace Corporation. This will likely deplete the ozone by 1 percent and the polar ozone layer by as much as 6%. The report concludes that “[A]fter one decade of continuous launches, globally averaged radiative forcing from the black carbon would exceed the forcing from the emitted CO2 by a factor of about 10 to the fifth power.” Back in 1991, Aleksandr Dunayev at the Russian Space Agency was quoted by the New York Times, if there are “about 300 launches of the space shuttle each year [it] would be a catastrophe and the ozone layer would be completely destroyed.” And for several years, even with Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket potentially carrying 100 satellites for a single launch, this would still exceed Dunayev’s calculations. In other words, 5G is going to have a perilous carbon footprint at a time when we must drastically reduc our greenhouse gas emissions.

Although there are no conclusive directly caused risks to human health or the environment from orbiting telecom satellites, the entire 5G network will require millions of base stations and an estimated 200 billion transmitting objects blanketing the nations that sign on to this monstrous technological experiment. The number of EMF transmitting objects is expected to increase to over a trillion several years after full deployment. The human and environmental health risks of EMF emitting 5G base stations and transmitters have been reported extensively. Eight years ago the World Health Organization had already classified wireless as a Group 2B carcinogen and further medical evidence continues to pile up. There are now over 10,000 studies supporting the evidence of genetic and cellular damage to humans, animals, insects and plants, a variety of cancers, cardiovascular disease, neuropsychiatric disorders, reproductive dysfunction, and general EMF hypersensitivity symptoms such as chronic headaches, learning difficulties, sleep problems, fatigue and depression, etc.

Government telecommunication departments and the private telecom industry have absolutely no credible independent scientific studies in their arsenal to deny the volumes of evidence against wireless EMF risks; therefore, they follow the all-too-common game of pathological denialism and generate propaganda to attack and denounce 5G’s critics as conspiracy alarmists. The International Appeal to Stop 5G now has over 176,000 signatures from scientists, academics, and medical and environmental organizations’ advocates representing 208 nations and territories. Yet no precautionary measures, which are recognized by many international laws and treaties, are being followed.

The full assault of 5G is dependent upon the satellite programs from companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb, Boeing, Iridium, Telesat Canada and Amazon collaborating in league with the telecom giants. The commercial space industry is an intricate factor in the 5G infrastructure estimated to be worth $32 billion. The wolves following behind 5G’s trashing of space is the recent appearance of a space debris removal industry, which is expected to be valued $2.9 billion by 2022. Key corporate vendors in this emerging business include Airbus, Astroscale, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. In our dystopian civilization, where one technological disaster leads to the creation of another for-profit industry, this is called job growth. Clearly, all the pieces are being put into place for a 5G deep state, a powerful edifice committed to the massive surveillance of every person and human activity.

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Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries.

Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on alternative and nutritional health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including The War on Health, Poverty Inc and Silent Epidemic.

A general strike and mass rebellion has erupted in Chile where the administration of President Sebastian Pinera has failed to quell the widespread discontent among the workers and youth.

The president announced in early November that his government would lift the curfew in certain areas, raise the minimum wage, reshuffle the cabinet and investigate those within the police and military accused of brutality. However, this has not resulted in the lessening of violence utilized by the state apparatus against working class and impoverished youth in their ineffective efforts to end the unrest.

Chilean society has suffered extreme inequality since the advent of neo-liberal policies emanating from the United States engineered coup of September 1973 when the-then President Salvadore Allende was overthrown and assassinated.

Military rule under General Augusto Pinochet ushered in extreme right-wing economic policies imposed by Washington and Wall Street. The so-called “Chicago Boys”, graduates from the University of Chicago, Department of Economics, drafted social plans which entrenched the priorities of the capitalist class both externally and domestically.

In recent weeks the degree of unrest has prompted the Pinera regime to cancel two international conferences, one on economic development and another on climate change, due to the inability of the state security forces to guarantee the well-being of the delegates. In addition, corporate interests have been severely impacted due to the rebellion.

The Chilean Football Federation called off a friendly match with Bolivia scheduled for November 15. In addition, the Copa Libertados Club Championship Final for November 23 may not take place either unless there is a settlement between the government and the people.

President Pinera, a billionaire, has refused to resign despite calls for him to leave by broad sections of the population. The leader in a recent interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) accepted some responsibility for the economic crisis. However, he noted that the problems inside the country were not of his making and has been growing over the last three decades. (See this)

Pinera defended his decision to declare a state of emergency while at the same time saying he would investigate allegations of police brutality. Reportedly some 6,800 businesses were damaged due to property destruction and arson.

Since the beginning of the demonstrations over the Metro (subway) fare increases in mid-October, it has been reported that 20 people have died and more than 2,000 injured. So far some 800 allegations of abuse by the security forces are being investigated by human rights organizations. These victim and eyewitness accounts include crimes such as torture, sexual assault and beatings by the authorities.

In the early phase of the unrest the Metro stations became a target of disgruntled riders when dozens of them were damaged and firebombed. Demonstrators were responding to the rate increase of 3.7% in October. Overall the price of Metro fares has gone up by 100% over the last twelve years. (See this)

These protests over fare increases illustrated the inherent inequality and class divisions within Chilean society. Soon other sectors of the working class and youth poured into the streets.

Accounts claims that 1.2 million people have participated in the demonstrations and rebellion. Nonetheless, the government seemed adamant that it will remain in power irrespective of broad dissatisfaction with its policies.

On November 4, tens of thousands of people rallied at the Plaza de Italia in the capital of Santiago, a center of resistance to the government. The workers and youth stated clearly that “this is not over.” Opponents of the government were determined to continue the demonstrations even though a state of emergency had been enacted.

When the protesters began to march towards the presidential palace, clashes erupted with the security forces. Police fired tear gas and used water cannon in an attempt to disburse the crowd.

Reports indicated that demonstrators engaged in further property damage and one police officer was struck by a Molotov cocktail. Demonstrations and rebellions spread to other cities such as Vina del Mar, Valparaiso and Concepcion.

A group of physicians and nurses have mobilized to provide medical care to those injured in the unrest. Calling themselves “Healthcare for the Streets”, the doctors and nurses are seen pushing shopping carts in areas around the Plaza de Italia providing assistance to those being attacked by the police and military units.

Neo-liberal Policy Entrenched in Chile After the 1973 Washington-backed Military Coup

When Allende came to power in Chile in 1970 with a popular mandate to initiate socialist-oriented reforms in the economy, the U.S. administration under the-then President Richard Nixon, sought to undermine the government. Many of the trade agreements between Chile and the U.S. were curtailed to explicitly prevent Allende from stabilizing the society.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Richard Helms met directly with Nixon to enact a policy that would “make the economy scream.” A drastic decline in the importation of energy resources and spare parts for industrial usage rendered large segments of the productive capacity of Chile inoperative.

After the military seizure of power on September 11, 1973, the dominant view promoted by the corporate media in the U.S. was that Chile underwent an “economic miracle” directed by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. The monetarist policy of neo-liberalism reduced state spending, forced more workers into poverty and provided incentives for multi-national corporations to continue their plunder of the country.

These policies were implemented through the dictatorial leadership style of Pinochet which crushed all opposition to the conservative economic programs. The period during 1973-1990 under Pinochet heightened the social contradictions in Chile by placing the interests of international finance capital ahead of the workers, farmers and youth.

Friedman authored a book entitled “Capitalism and Freedom” (1962) yet the most intensive adoption of his theories was carried out by a military regime which was installed at the aegis of the CIA through the violent overthrow of a democratically elected administration under Allende. The actual history of Chile provides a real life example of the origins and outcomes of neo-liberal thinking.

Regional Aspects of the Chilean Crisis

Throughout South America and the Caribbean there has been the proliferation of instability over the recent period. Ecuador experienced an uprising where many workers, youth, indigenous groups and farmers rejected the sharp turn to the right by the present government of Lenin Moreno.

Venezuela has been battling constant attempts by the administration of President Donald Trump to remove the Socialist Unity Party (PSUV) dominated government in Caracas. The imposition of draconian sanctions and a trade blockade is designed to starve the country into submission while simultaneously attempting to turn the masses against President Nicolas Maduro. So far this years-long policy perpetuated by successive administrations in Washington has failed to dislodge the revolutionary government of the Bolivarian Republic.

The recent elections in Argentina highlight the escalating class struggle and its international dimensions. Argentine voters elected a left of center government as a repudiation of the perennial economic crises inside the country for nearly two decades.

In Bolivia, the revolutionary government of President Evo Morales, won re-election in the first round, avoiding a run-off poll.  Yet right-wing elements have sought to foment unrest aimed at the nullification of the choice made by the Bolivian masses.

A recently-held anti-imperialist conference in the Republic of Cuba from November 1-3 exposed the actual role of imperialism throughout the region and indeed internationally. Cuba has been under a U.S. blockade for nearly six decades. (See this)

According to an article published by Granma International, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba (PPC), in describing the anti-imperialist gathering in Havana of well over a thousand delegates from throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and the world, it stated that:

“Fernando González Llort, President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, welcomed participants and devoted his first remarks to Fidel, recalling that the Cuban people have not been defeated despite 60 years of hostility from the United States.”

This same report went on to further quote the official by emphasizing:

“González said that it was a pleasure to share this space with left organizations at a time when the United States is attempting to distort Cuba’s altruistic mission and international health collaboration, and reaffirmed that Cuba will never betray its friends.”

There is no viable alternative in Chile and throughout the continent and the Caribbean which relies on U.S. imperialism for ideological and material support. The interests of the ruling class in Chile coincide with that of Wall Street and Pentagon.

In order for the social gains made by the masses of people within the region to continue there must be a concerted struggle waged against imperialism. These struggles over the economic deprivation brought about by world capitalism should be broadened into a united effort to eradicate the imperatives of U.S. foreign policy which seeks to dominate the people of the region.

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Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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The United States of America, Israel and Saudi Arabia are fed up with Iran and its allies in the Middle East. But despite waging war against Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, by inviting the Iraqi government to dilute al-Hashd al-Shaabi, by attempting to submit Gaza and to curb the Houthis in Yemen, it was not possible to break the strong alliances of Iran spread throughout the Middle East.

Moreover, through democratic elections, Iran’s allies in Lebanon and Iraq managed to be part of the Parliament and have ministers in the cabinets of their respective countries. Also, in Syria, Iran’s strong ally President Bashar al-Assad is still leading the country notwithstanding years of war, and the attempts, through foreign and domestic intervention, to remove him from power. But civilian protestors- with legitimate demands against corruption and wealth mismanagement of the elite in Iraq and Lebanon throughout the years – are causing havoc in these countries, shaking the stability and therefore putting Iran and its allies on alert. Meetings are continuously held by the “Axis of the Resistance” to evaluate the situation, the possible threats, and the degree of involvement of foreign powers in the streets in attempting to curb this Axis.

In Lebanon, following two weeks of protests covering the entire country, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri offered his resignation and became a caretaker, leading a cabinet which has also resigned. This move has calmed protestors for a few days but it is not certain that this will satisfy Lebanon’s hungry, jobless youths and those contesting corruption. They are expecting their demands to be dealt with within the medium and long term as well. At the same time, the escalating national debt has to be reckoned with.

It is not clear that a new government will come into being this month, or even in the months to come. Hariri discussed his plans with main political parties stating his will to form a technocrat cabinet. His aim is to respond to some of the protestor’s demands but also to remove the strong Christian member of the parliament (MP) and Minister of foreign affairs Gebran Bassil, who leads the largest group of MPs in the country. Hariri’s demand was contested because “a political leader (he is leading a large political party) cannot lead a non-political cabinet unless it is mixed governance between politicians and qualified technocrats”. Other options have been put on the table, for example, to ask Hariri to form a politico-technocrat government to bring the country out of the actual impasse.

Domestic and international complications are enormous, crucially affecting the success or failure of any future Lebanese government. The US administration in particular (as announced by the State Department) is waiting just around the corner to impose further sanctions on Lebanon and in particular on the Hezbollah allies. Also, Bassil, the President’s son-in-law and a strong ally of Hezbollah, is looked upon by the US State Department as a persona non grata due to his explicit support of Washington’s declared enemy. Hezbollah, a Shia political group, struck an alliance with the strongest Christian political group in the country. This alliance is highly disturbing to all Hezbollah’s enemies because it gives the Iranian ally a non-sectarian dimension and international support via the Christians of Lebanon. The US is left with a small Christian ally, Samir Geagea, who years ago was the closest Israeli ally and has become the dearest supporter of Saudi Arabia. Geagea’s men are spread around the streets of Lebanon, preventing civilians from reaching their businesses and asking for Hezbollah to lay down its arms.

This is pushing Hezbollah to hold its allies close, sharing with them a common destiny, and consolidating its domestic hold over the political arena of the country. Thus, the question to clarify here is whether the future holds a successful government to come, or (which is most likely) a political vacuum.

Generally speaking, the harshest criticism towards Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, and towards its most powerful armed corps, comes from the mainstream media, who find it appear attractive to associate Iran and its allies with every event. In reality, only a very few voices, in the streets of Lebanon, are heard against Hezbollah. These mainly come from areas under the “Lebanese Forces” leader’s control, Samir Geagea, on the US and Saudi Arabia pay-roll with a clear objective to boost his image. Geagea’s ministers offered their resignation from the first day of the protests to enable him to distance himself from the government that he was part of in the last years. He was left, alone, to depart from the cabinet. His men are closing the streets of important sections of the main roads in the Christian-dominated areas to improve his negotiating conditions in any future cabinet.

What is unusual is the role of the Lebanese Army and its commander in chief General Josef Aoun, a relative to the actual president Michel Aoun. In fact, the army is under the code of Emergency no.3, allowing it to intervene to protect the country from internal and external threats. Sources within the military command said: “General Aoun is under US pressure: they “invited” him not to use the army against protestors even if these close the main roads linking the entire country from the south to the north and the east. Delegations from the US embassy visited the General on a regular basis to make sure the country was “under the protestors’ command” rather than that of the security forces. The behaviour of the Army chief is embarrassing the President, a Hezbollah all. It aims to indicate that the President’s mandate is unstable because of his political choices and his links to Hezbollah which would pave the way for the commander in chief of the army to become a president in the future”.

Informed sources in Beirut believe the closures of the road links between the south of Lebanon and Beirut and the Bekaa Valley and Beirut (Shia strongholds) are not innocent moves. The aim is to bring Hezbollah onto the streets and trigger a new civil war in the country, destabilising it for years to come.

Hezbollah seems very much aware of this plan and its negative potential.

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The cat is out of the bag. The UK is potentially complicit in a war crime. With typical insouciance the U.S. military dropped this bombshell by tweet and apparently without realizing the implications for U.S. partners:

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OIR is Operation Inherent Resolve, which is the name behind which the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS cloaks its military activities. (Think NATO wearing a thobe.) CJTFOIR is the Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve.

If, as per the spokesman’s statement, the forces being redeployed to Syria’s oil-producing areas are Inherent Resolve forces, it follows that those troops are doing so in the name and under the aegis of the Coalition. Simple. Ah yes, but awkward for the British government to admit – awkward for practical, political and legal reasons.

In practice, if this is a Joint Task Force Operation as we are told by the U.S. spokesman, it would be next to impossible for the deployment in Deir Ez Zor province to be taking place without some input from the senior UK officers embedded with the U.S. military in the Coalition Joint Task Force headquarters (the Deputy Commander is a British general) and active in carrying out Operation Inherent Resolve.

Politically this matters because hitherto all the opprobrium leveled at President Trump for allegedly ‘looting’ Syria’s oil has spared other participants in Inherent Resolve, including the UK, France, and Germany. How awkward it might be for Boris Johnson, facing an election, to find himself tarred with yet another Trump brush to put alongside Trump’s alleged grab for the UK National Health Service.

Legally this matters because if Trump puts into practice his promise to seize Syrian oil production, that will constitute, according to authoritative legal experts, a violation of international law against ‘pillaging’ enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Convention and thus constitute a war crime. Any party complicit in pillaging, and that would surely include other parties in the Joint Task Force, even if only headquarters staff and not boots on the ground, could also be culpable. The British government might find itself challenged in a UK court even if no international court could be found willing to act.

A nightmare for British government lawyers

This is the stuff of nightmares for British government lawyers.

Parliament is already alerted. The independent peer Baroness Cox prompted the following exchange with a government minister by putting down a tricky parliamentary question.

UK Parliament Syria inquiry

We can take that as an embarrassed ‘yes’.

Lord Ahmed, an FCO Minister, gave a similarly evasive answer to another question asked by Baroness Cox:

UK Parliament Syria inquiry 2

You can picture Lord Ahmed squirming.

It gets worse.

The British government may soon find itself complicit in harboring and funding terrorists because of Inherent Resolve’s involvement in pillaging Syria’s oil.

The U.S. says it will work with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to ‘safeguard vital infrastructure’ and will route proceeds of oil sales to the SDF to pay for its role, described as being anti-ISIS. What this overlooks is that the oilfields are not in Kurdish areas, which are mainly in the north, near the Turkish border, but in southern Deir Ez Zor province, which is dominated by Sunni Arabs who formed a core constituency for ISIS. This area is not far from Raqqa. The nominally SDF forces in the area, with which the U.S. will have to work, are mainly Arab and notoriously marbled with ISIS fighters. This part of the SDF has been described as ‘SDF by day, ISIS by night’. Not that they will not make excellent guards. These fighters, far from attacking the U.S., will likely be delighted to find the U.S. not only creating a safe haven for them but funding them as well.

Aiding terrorism, committing war crimes: a prospect to make any UK politician gulp. No wonder the parliamentary answers were evasive, even more so than usual with the grand yet nebulous ‘Global Coalition’. (In answer to another awkward question asking how many ISIS the Coalition had killed or detained in Syria in the last two years the FCO claimed implausibly that the government ‘does not hold this information’, no doubt to avoid having to acknowledge that the number is tiny and that the main purpose of the Coalition is to deny territory to Assad.)

With the UK Parliament already on alert, how long will it be before Congress wakes up to this scandal-in-the-making?

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Peter Ford is a former British Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, he also served as a UN expert on refugees.

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M S Swaminathan is often referred to as the ‘father’ of India’s Green Revolution. In 2009, he said that  no scientific evidence had emerged to justify concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops, often regarded as stage two of the Green Revolution.

In a December 2018 paper in the journal Current Science, however, it was argued that Bt insecticidal cotton (India’s only officially approved commercial GM crop) is a failure and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. 

The paper attracted a good deal of attention because, along with scientist P C Kesavan, Swaminathan was the co-author.

They concluded that globally both Bt crops and herbicide-tolerant crops are unsustainable and have not decreased the need for toxic chemical pesticides, the reason for these GM crops in the first place. Attention was also drawn to evidence that indicates Bt toxins are toxic to all organisms.

Kesavan and Swaminathan mounted a general critique of the GM paradigm. They noted that glyphosate-based herbicides, used on most GM crops in the world, and their active ingredient glyphosate, are genotoxic, cause birth defects and are carcinogenic. They also asserted that GM crop yields are no better than that of non-GM crops.

The authors concluded that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be need based. In more than 99% of cases, they said that time-honoured conventional breeding is sufficient.

In fact, Kesavan and Swaminathan argued that a sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’ based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’ would guarantee equitable food security by ensuring access of rural communities to food.

Part of the pushback against Kevasan and Swaminathan has come from Dr Deepak Pental, developer and promoter of GM mustard at Delhi University. He responded to their piece with an article in September 2019, again in Current Science. 

He argued that Kesavan and Swaminathan have unequivocally aligned themselves with overzealous environmentalists and ideologues, who have mindlessly attacked the use of GM technology to improve crops required for meeting the food and nutritional needs of a global population that is predicted to peak out at 11.2 billion. Pental added that the two authors’ analysis of modern breeding technologies is a reflection of their ideological proclivities.

By resorting to such statements, Pental was drawing on industry-inspired spin: criticisms of GM are driven by ideology not fact and GM is required to ‘feed the world’. Both assertions are baseless but are employed time and again across the globe by the pro-GM lobby in an attempt to discredit inconvenient scientific findings and campaigners who forward valid criticisms.  

In response to Pental, Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Peter E. Kenmore and Aruna Rodrigues hit back with a piece in a November 2019 edition of the same journal, ‘When biotechnologists lack objectivity’. In it, they argue: 

“The need to counter Pental is critical because of his influence as part of a lobbying force for unbridled legislation for GE technologies and as a purveyor of scare tactics that food security in India will be compromised without them.”

They continue:

“We question his failure to consider whether genetically modified crops (GMOs) are safe for human and ecological health, increase yield and quality, are rigorously tested using proper risk assessment biosafety protocols, and whether biosafety research level (BRL) mechanisms for GMOs field testing under various programmes are being implemented? These are the major themes of our rebuttal.”

The authors indicate the adverse impacts on human health of GMOs and associated agrochemical inputs and the very real risk of gene flow and other ways by which non-GM crops and seeds can be contaminated by their GM counterparts:

“Genetic contamination is of special concern in India which has rich genetic diversity of crops/plants, and yet there are ongoing efforts to release GMO herbicide tolerant mustard (Brassica juncea) in India, which is a centre of diversity and domestication of over 5,000 wild and domesticated varieties of mustard and the wider ‘family’ of brassicas that includes 9,720 accessions… We must question why regulators would ever consider approval of GMOs of native species (e.g. of Desi cottons, brinjal eggplant, mustard, rice, among others).”

As alluded to in the above extract, India has a wealth of plant species that have evolved and been adapted over millennia. The country has good-quality traditional seeds which are ideally suited for local soils, climates and pests. And these seeds are less resource intensive. We must therefore question why Pental’s GM mustard is being pushed so hard when it does not out-yield certain mustard species that India has already.

While touching on serious conflicts of interest within regulatory bodies, the authors also discuss Bt cotton and GM mustard, the commercialisation of which is currently held up due to a public litigation case with Aruna Rodrigues acting as lead petitioner.

They provide data to highlight the myth of Bt cotton success in India. However, GM promoters continue to peddle the story of Bt cotton success and aim to drive the full-scale introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture on the back of this false narrative.

The authors explain that the current GM Bt cotton hybrids in India were indeed developed as a ‘value capture’ mechanism that enabled the seed industry to side-step intractable legal intellectual property rights: the interests of poor farmers were sacrificed for corporate commercial benefit.

In the article, data is also presented for GM mustard and the authors argue that it shows no yield advantage and its testing and evaluation have involved protocol violations.

In India, various high-level reports have advised against the adoption of GM crops. Appointed by the Supreme Court, the ‘Technical Expert Committee (TEC) Final Report’ (2013) was scathing about the prevailing regulatory system and highlighted its inadequacies and serious inherent conflicts of interest. The TEC recommended a 10-year moratorium on the commercial release of all GM crops.

Kesavan and Swaminathan, in their piece. also criticised India’s GM regulating bodies due to a lack of competency and endemic conflicts of interest and a lack of expertise in GM risk assessment protocols, including food safety assessment and the assessment of environmental impacts. They also questioned regulators’ failure to carry out a socio-economic assessment of GM impacts on resource-poor small and marginal farmers and called for “able economists who are familiar with and will prioritize rural livelihoods, and the interests of resource-poor small and marginal farmers rather than serve corporate interests and their profits.”

As we have seen with the push to get GM mustard commercialised, the problems described by the TEC persist. Through her numerous submissions to the Supreme Court, Rodrigues has asserted that GM mustard is being pushed for commercialisation based on flawed tests (or no tests) and a lack of public scrutiny. In effect, she argues, there has been unremitting scientific fraud and outright regulatory delinquency. It must also be noted that this crop is herbicide-tolerant (HT), which, as stated by the TEC, is wholly inappropriate for India with its small biodiverse, multi-cropping farms.

Rodrigues has for a long time contended that GM ‘regulation’ in India occurs in a system dogged by serious conflicts of interest: funders, promoters and regulators are basically one and the same. She argues that agricultural institutions and numerous public sector scientists working within these bodies along with a powerful lobbying force are joined at the hip in pushing for GM.

GM Silver bullet misses the target

If the pro-GM lobby is genuinely concerned about ‘feeding the world’, it should really be questioning why the world already produces enough to feed 10 million people but over two billion are experiencing micronutrient deficiencies (of which over 800 million are classed as chronically undernourished); why we are seeing rising rates of obesity, diabetes and a range of other health-related conditions; and why, post-Green Revolution, the range of crops grown has narrowed and the nutrient content of food and diets has diminished.

The answers lie with the practices, processes and toxic inputs that are integral to the prevailing model of chemical-intensive, industrial agriculture and the dynamics of the globalised capitalist food system. Throughout the world, this model has become tied to agro-export mono-cropping (often with non-food commodities taking up prime agricultural land), sovereign debt repayment and World Bank/IMF ‘structural adjustment’ directives, the outcomes of which have included a displacement of a food-producing peasantry, the consolidation of rapacious global agri-food oligopolies and the transformation of many countries into food deficit areas.

Global food insecurity and malnutrition are therefore not the result of a lack of productivity.

As for India, although it fares poorly in world hunger assessments, the country has more than enough food to feed its 1.3 billion-plus population and with appropriate policy support measures could draw on its own indigenous agroecological know-how to do so.

Where farmers’ livelihoods are concerned, the pro-GM lobby says GM will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income. This too is misleading and again ignores crucial political and economic contexts. For instance, to gain brief insight into the nature of India’s agrarian crisis and why farmers are leaving the sector, let us turn to renowned journalist P Sainath who says:

“The agrarian crises in five words is: hijack of agriculture by corporations. The process by which it is done in five words: predatory commercialisation of the countryside. When your cultivation costs have risen 500 per cent over a decade, the result of that crisis, that process in five words: biggest displacement in our history.

Little surprise, therefore, that even with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress.    

India’s farmers are not experiencing financial hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling under the effects of neoliberal policies, years of neglect and a deliberate strategy to displace smallholder agriculture at the behest of the World Bank and global agri-food corporations. And people are not hungry in India because its farmers do not produce enough food. Hunger and malnutrition result from various factors, not least poor food distribution, lack of infrastructure, (gender) inequality and poverty.

However, aside from putting a positive spin on the questionable performance of GM agriculture, the pro-GM lobby, both outside of India and within, has wasted no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

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Colin Todhunter is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research.

Three Deep State Confessions on Syria

November 11th, 2019 by Brad Hoff

First, all the way back in 2005 — more than a half decade before the war began — CNN’s Christiane Amanpour told Assad to his face that regime change is coming. Thankfully this was in a televised and archived interview, now for posterity to behold.

Amanpour, it must be remembered, was married to former US Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin (until 2018), who further advised both President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Next, a surprisingly blunt assessment of where Washington currently stands after eight years of the failed push to oust Assad and influence the final outcome of the war, from the very man who was among the early architects of America’s covert “arm the jihadists to topple the dictator” campaign.

Myself and others long ago documented how former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford worked with and funded a Free Syrian Army commander who led ISIS suicide bombers into the battlefield in 2013.

Amb. Ford has since admitted this much (that US proxy ‘rebels’ and ISIS worked together in the early years of the war), and now admits defeat in the below recent interview as perhaps a reborn ‘realist’.

And finally, not everyone is as pessimistic on the continuing prospects for yet more US-led regime change future efforts as Robert Ford is above. Below is an astoundingly blunt articulation of the next disturbing phase of US efforts in Syria, from an October 31 conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“The panel featured the two co-chairs of the Syria Study Group, a bi-partisan working group appointed by Congress to draft a new US war plan for Syria,” The Grayzone’s Ben Norton wrote of the below clip.

With images now circulating of Trump’s “secure the oil” policy in effect, which has served to at least force pro-interventionist warmongers to drop all high-minded humanitarian notions of “democracy promotion” and “freedom” and R2P doctrine, etc… as descriptive of US motives in Syria, the above blunt admissions of Dana Stroul, the Democratic co-chair of the Syria Study Group, are ghastly and chilling in terms of what’s next for the suffering population of Syria.

America is not finished, apparently, and it’s likely to get a lot uglier than merely seizing the oil.

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Brad is a native Texan and US Marine veteran who after leaving the military began wandering around the Middle East, eventually making Syria his second home. He’s authored multiple stories for his blog Levant Report which gained international attention. Find his writing at Antiwar.com, SOFREP, Foreign Policy Journal, The Canary (UK), and others.

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U.S.-backed coup Deposes Evo Morales in Bolivia

November 11th, 2019 by Marco Teruggi

Update by Workers World

As of 4 p.m. EDT on Nov. 10, President Evo Morales has resigned his office in Bolivia, pushed out by a counterrevolutionary coup d’état backed by Washington. After part of the police force joined the counterrevolutionary gangs and the heads of the Armed Forces advised him to resign, Morales took this step as the best of bad choices after consultation with the Bolivian Workers Confederation (COB) and other supporters of his government. 

This has all happened in the 24 hours since Marco Teruggi wrote the article below, which was first published Nov. 9 by TeleSur, translated by Resumen Latinoamericano’s North America bureau and edited by Workers World. 

Although superseded by Nov. 10 events, Teruggi’s article still presents the forces in action in the landlocked country of 11.6 million people, a majority of whom are Indigenous.

Workers World joins those progressive forces all around Latin America and the world who are condemning the U.S.-backed counterrevolutionary coup, including the governments of Venezuela and Cuba, and also Lula da Silva of Brazil, who was released from prison just days earlier. 

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These are the days and hours of the coup offensive in Bolivia. The attempt to overthrow President Evo Morales is gaining strength, territory and its capacity for action. It’s like an announced bullet that arrives from the front and has a date: before Nov. 12.

That day the country will know the result of the audit in which the Organization of American States is participating to see if there was any fraud in the Oct. 20 elections that gave Morales and his MAS party a victory in the first round. Those who are in the leadership of the coup want an outcome before that day, and they believe they can make it happen.

They have several elements in their favor. In the first place, they have a mobilized social base that believes it can win, is heterogeneous, and gathers accumulated discontents by holding exclusive racist discourses and public events in the conservative/colonial country. That base has strength in the cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Potosí [in the east], and in La Paz — the final objective of the assault [and the administrative capital].

Secondly, shock troops — groups for confrontation — have accumulated strength from the east to La Paz. Their movement followed the direction of the coup’s strength: the city of Santa Cruz acts as a strategic rearguard in the center of the country. It is in this area where [the right wing] carried out the most violent attacks, and La Paz is the point where state power is concentrated.

These groups are in the process of mobilizing and moving toward La Paz, where some have already carried out siege actions surrounding the government palace on previous nights. One of the objectives of the offensive is to succeed in gathering together all the different elements of opposition [to the MAS government] and to reinforce the mobilization with sectors coming from different points in the country to La Paz.

Thirdly, [there is] the leadership of Fernando Camacho, who went from heading the Santa Cruz Civic Committee to setting up his base of operations in La Paz and projecting an image of national leadership. His speeches seek to distance himself from all acts of racism, separatism and coup d’état, in an attempt to shift the accusations away from him and to bring in other sectors of society.

The expansion of these three factors seeks to unleash, through an escalating offensive, the outbreak of three others. The first goal they aimed at, and that has been achieved in part, is influencing the Bolivian National Police. The images of riots on Friday night and Saturday morning [Nov. 9] showed how a sector of the police have been influenced to join the coup process.

The second target is the Bolivian Armed Force, a central element for a coup d’état to be successful, which up until noon Saturday [Nov. 9] has shown no public sign of a possible internal breakdown.

The third target is the popular sectors, which for the moment are playing no part in the mobilization demanding the dismissal of Evo Morales. But some groups, like the Association of Coca Producers of the Yungas or mining sectors, have been present at the [reactionary] mobilizations.

The calculation of this set of factors, interconnected and projected with the greatest force, has created a scenario in which the coup leadership claims that the departure of Evo Morales is the only possible solution and that this will take place in a matter of hours or days.

Within this leadership, in a lesser capacity, is Carlos Mesa, who came in second in the presidential vote on Oct. 20, and has been able to align himself with the narrative of those who are giving the ultimatum. Along with Camacho, Mesa rejects the OAS audit but leaves some room for maneuver in case of the defeat of the coup attempt.

Up to now, Morales seeks to avoid confrontation

The government’s objective, both that of President Morales and the social movements that support him, seems to be to contain the escalation of the coup until the result of the audit. Within this framework, [pro-Morales] mobilizations have taken place almost daily, led by different organizations, such as the Bolivian Union of Workers and the Bartolina Sisa Women’s Confederation.

The president’s call has been to defend the results of the election, the process of change — democracy — without opening the doors to the scenario of confrontation that the rightists are trying to generate. This means Evo [Morales] has rejected the rightists’ attempt to increase acute violence, which would lead to wounded and dead people.

This is a complex and increasingly unstable scenario. The outcome of the audit could lead to different conclusions. The United States has made clear from the outset that its position is that the result of Oct. 20 was invalid. Washington has claimed that the path of the audit decided by the OAS should be followed. That means, to a large extent, whatever the U.S. itself decides.

The government has stated that the outcome of the audit will be binding and that it would be willing to call for a second round [of elections] if that emerges as the result. In that case there could be a division within the opposition between those who would be willing to participate in the election and those who would not. Would Carlos Mesa accept [a new election] and retreat from speaking in favor of the coup?

There are still many hours and days until Nov. 12 in the [rightist] offensive framework that is accumulating strength and capacity for destabilization. The government, [and] the process of change [represented by Morales and MAS], still has cards to play to contain and de-escalate the situation.

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Most of what Donald Trump says and tweets can be ignored. His advisers and cabinet will make all final decisions regardless of what the stable genius says he will do—for instance, leaving Syria. 

The US military isn’t going anywhere despite Trump declaring he will bring the troops home. The troops aren’t going anywhere so long as Bashar al-Assad remains in power. 

Tump now says he wants to steal Syria’s minuscule reservoir of oil and give it to the Kurds, possibly as a consolation prize for abandoning them to Erdogan and Turkey. 

Once again, the Oval Office Ignoramus shows off his colossal stupidity. 

Trump says they have been fighting over there for a thousand years, a patently false statement. Under the Ottoman Empire, the Arabs and Muslims of the Middle East lived in relative peace, were allowed to manage their own affairs, and worship as Muslims, Christians, and Jews. 

It wasn’t until the British and the French went in there after the First World War that the fighting began in earnest. It picked up considerably after the state of Israel was established and the Zionists began ethnic cleansing Palestinians while provoking their Arab neighbors. 

Instead of reducing the number of troops as promised, Trump approved an expanded “military mission,” supposedly to “secure” Syrian oil. 

The Donald is completely irrelevant. 

“At a US government-funded think tank at the forefront of shaping Washington’s interventionist designs, an American official succinctly laid out the continued-regime change strategy,” writes Ben Norton for The Grayzone. 

The “think tank”—the neocon infested Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is funded by clueless American taxpayers. 

Both of the congressionally appointed co-chairs [of CSIS] also happen to work at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel think tank that grew out of the AIPAC lobbying juggernaut. Their Syria Study Group was a collection of hardline interventionists from pro-Israel and Gulf monarchy-funded DC think tanks…

In other words, the CSIS is working closely with Israel to formulate US foreign policy in the Middle East. Israel has worked to undermine Syria for over sixty years and the US, a relative newcomer in the gambit to undermine Syria, has pursued the goal of undermining the nation for over 25 years. 

Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have a document revealing how the US worked with Israel over the decades to destabilize Syria. The CIA, through the American legation in Syria, engineered a Syrian coup in 1947. It’s said the CIA’s Damascus station chief, Miles Copeland, was also behind the coup. Copeland wrote about his role in his 1969 book, The Game of Nations: The Amorality of Power Politics. 

It was about oil, notes James A. Paul in his book, Human Rights in Syria. 

In the late 1940’s, U.S. policymakers grew alarmed when the Syrian government, bowing to public pressure, refused to let a U.S. oil company build a pipeline through its territory. Washington also found the strong anti-Western sentiment and the large Communist party in the country ominous. Concerned that Syria was ‘drifting leftward’, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) laid plans to overthrow its three-year old civilian government.

In 1957, the CIA and MI6 planned to assassinate top Syrian military leaders and use the Iraq Army to intervene in the country. The CIA organized Operation Straggle and Operation Wappen to overthrow the Syrian government, the latter organized by Kermit Roosevelt. He previously engineered a successful coup in Iran. The papers of British Defense Minister Duncan Sandys corroborate the coup plan and the involvement of the two intelligence agencies. The assassination plot was approved by then British PM Harold Macmillan. 

“In the document drawn up by a top secret and high-level working group that met in Washington in September 1957, Mr Macmillan and President Eisenhower were left in no doubt about the need to assassinate the top men in Damascus,” The Guardian reported in 2003. 

The men targeted were Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, head of Syrian military intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, chief of the Syrian general staff; and Khalid Bakdash, leader of the Syrian Communist party.

The disastrous “civil war” in Syria that began with the “Arab Spring” multi-nation targeted color revolution in 2011 was engineered by the US and the Gulf emirates. WikiLeaks made this known when it released a document revealing how the US-funded and trained the Syrian “rebels,” more accurately described as murderous Wahhabi jihadist terrorists. (See Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2013: U.S. has secretly provided arms training to Syria rebels since 2012.) 

The corporate media in the US and Europe worked tirelessly to put a “humanitarian” spin on this declaration of war against a nation that did not and does not pose a threat to America, although it does stand in the way of corporate and Israeli designs for the region. 

Trump’s campaign promise to put an end to “nation-building” and foreign interventions was undercut when he declared “to the victor belongs the spoils. You take the oil—you don’t just leave it.” He later said the US would not be stealing oil—in this instance, from Iraq—but would be “reimbursing” itself for the cost of the invasion and destruction of the country.

After declaring he would take Syria’s oil, the president was once again “corrected” by the Pentagon. It said the US wouldn’t keep and profit from stolen Syrian oil. It would instead hand it over to the Kurds. 

As should be expected, the corporate media is not underscoring the fact taking oil from Syria and Iraq is pillage under international law. From the International Committee of the Red Cross: 

The prohibition of pillage is a long-standing rule of customary international law already recognized in the Lieber Code, the Brussels Declaration and the Oxford Manual. Pillage is prohibited under all circumstances under the Hague Regulations. Pillage is identified as a war crime in the Report of the Commission on Responsibility set up after the First World War, as well as by the Charter of the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg) established following the Second World War. The Fourth Geneva Convention also prohibits pillage. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault,” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.

I bet Trump is not even vaguely aware of these long-standing prohibitions. His predecessors in the Obama and Bush administrations selectively ignored international law. Bush-era neocons—demonstrated most recently by Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton—have taken an extreme position on the prosecution of war criminals in the international court. 

It is quite natural for the US government to steal foreign assets. It did this with Iran after the Islamic Revolution. Corporate media spun the story to make it appear Obama gave Iran billions of dollars, no strings attached. This is one example of the recent use of the Big Lie. Others are numerous. 

The elite and its political class in both the US and the EU believe they are not beholden to treaties and laws. The United States is the exceptional nation. It decides what laws and protocols will be honored and which will be violated. 

Although this has been the case for some time, the arrival of the neocons during the Reagan, Bush, and Bush II years pushed this rejection of responsibility for mass murder and looting to new extremes. 

Dick Cheney and the neocons are adamant. The engineered murder of a million and a half humans and the destruction of Iraq is a positive achievement. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise Donald Trump would make such a brazen mafioso-like threat to the national sovereignty of the Syrian people. The Bush neocons set the pattern for making publicly displayed belligerence a cornerstone of US diplomacy. It is on full display in pathological fashion during this administration. 

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Kurt Nimmo writes on his blog, Another Day in the Empire, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Al-Masdar News

On November 6, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, announced that the Kurdish-led group was resuming its “joint program of work” with the US-led coalition. According to him, the goal of this effort is to combat ISIS and secure “the infrastructure” of northeastern Syria.

The irony is that this “infrastructure” is the US-occupied oil fields. Therefore, the SDF declared its support to the US-led effort to exploit Syrian natural resources. Most likely, the group’s leadership sees this as a needed step to gain US support in its separatist efforts.

On November 7, an intense fighting between the SDF and Turkish-led forces erupted near the town of Ayn Issa in northern Raqqah. Initially, pro-Turkish militants seized the villages of Issa and Sharaqiq killing several SDF members. However, later, they were pushed back by a SDF counter-attack.

Watch the video here.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Army reinforced its positions near the village of Bab al-Khair in northeastern al-Hasakah with additional troops and heavy weapons. The newly-deployed forces included dozens of service members and several T-55AMV battle tanks.

At least 20 airstrikes hit militant positions near the towns of Hass, Benin, Maarzita, Ma’aret Hurmah, Sarjah, Kafar Roma, Sheikh Mustafa and Ma`arat al-Nu`man in southern Idlib. Pro-militant sources reported that 3 militants were eliminated.

On the same day, Hayat Tahir al-Sham announced that its members had allegedly targeted a Syrian military helicopter over the village of Kbani. Several sources confirmed that helicopters of the Syrian Air Force carried out airstrikes on Kabani and its vicinity in the morning. However, there were no other reports confirming HTS claims.

Three months ago, HTS shot down a Su-22 warplane over southern Idlib with an anti-aircraft missile of unknown type. Then, several sources speculated that Turkey was supplying Greater Idlib militants with such advanced weapons.

Russia has obtained an advanced Israeli interceptor missile, Chinese news outlet Sina reported on November 6.

In July 2018, two interceptor missiles were fired by the David’s Sling missile defense system in an attempt to intercept some Syrian missiles. The Israeli military destroyed one of the interceptors midair, while another one did not hit its target and landed in Syrian territory allegedly without suffering any major damage. The Syrian Army reportedly recovered this interceptor and transferred to the Russian side.

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Billionaire US Presidential Aspirant Michael Bloomberg?

November 10th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

What the US needs most of all is peace, equity and justice leadership, serving all Americans, not just its privileged few the way both right wings of the one-party state run things.

Reportedly billionaire businessman, former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg may enter the presidential race as an undemocratic Dem aspirant.

On Friday, he filed papers to run in the March 3 Alabama Dem primary, one of 14 so-called “super Tuesday” contests.

His action contradicts earlier ruling out a run for the nation’s highest office last March. Is a formal announcement otherwise forthcoming?

His advisor Howard Wolfson said

“(w)e now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated. But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that.”

He considers Biden’s performance underwhelming, expressing concern about Sanders’ and Warren’s populist rhetoric, their record in office belying their campaign pledges.

Forbes magazine estimated Bloomberg’s net worth at $52.4 billion as of November 2019, making him the world’s 9th most wealthy individual — easily able to self-finance a presidential run if he enters the contest.

On November 7, the NYT reported that he’s “actively preparing to enter the presidential race,” a final decision not yet made, adding:

He “prepared to enter presidential races before…only to pull back,” though never before filed papers to run in a Dem primary.

Do Americans need another anti-populist billionaire as head of state and commander-in-chief of its armed forces?

Bloomberg’s dubious record as New York mayor was “an extraordinary record of progress” for the city’s privileged class at the expense of its vast majority.

His strategy may be to convince voters that a self-made, problem-solving (billionaire) businessman is the right choice to lead the nation.

Like Trump, he didn’t become super-rich by being a good guy, notably as New York mayor ignoring the public welfare in deference to privileged interests.

An earlier article explained that New York is one of America’s poorest large cities, the wealth disparity of its residents one of the nation’s most extreme.

Unemployment, underemployment, and poverty are among the nation’s highest, its high cost of living making things harder for millions struggling to get by.

Most city workers lack pensions. Many earn sub-subsistence wages. Poverty and deprivation are extremely high. It rose annually during Bloomberg’s tenure.

City homelessness more than doubled on his watch. Many others live in overcrowded substandard dwellings.

Hard times forced large numbers to live with families or friends. Unaffordable rental prices created crisis conditions.

Bloomberg did nothing to address these and other key issues affecting ordinary people in the city hardest.

Unprecedented social polarization worsened on his watch. New York’s top 20% earns 40 times more than the bottom one-fifth. It’s top 1% earns infinitely more.

Bloomberg waged war on labor. Onerous tax burdens were imposed. Over $1 billion in public worker concessions were demanded.

Massive layoffs affected thousand of teachers, hundreds of firefighters, and many other city workers.

Dozens of senior and day care centers were closed. Public wages were frozen or minimally increased, benefits cut.

At the same time, Wall Street got trillions of dollars in federal bailout funding. Its executives earn millions of dollars annually in pay, bonuses, and perks.

Throughout his tenure, Bloomberg implemented numerous financial sector tax giveaways. Ordinary city residents got tax increases.

He and then-police commissioner Raymond Kelly persecuted city Blacks and Latinos, intensifying racist stop and frisk practices.

He was elected and reelected the old-fashioned way, anointed by party bosses and Wall Street, outspending challengers multiple times over, drowning out opposition voices.

A right-wing extremist, he’s part of the problem, a member of the US aristocracy, its pro-war, pro-business, pro-neoliberal, anti-populist agenda, trampling on the rights of ordinary people at home and abroad — a hostile agenda he supports.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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Homeland Insecurity. “Perpetual War”

November 10th, 2019 by Philip A Farruggio

Well, once again we have Veterans Day upon us. With it comes the preponderance of overt militarism and military propaganda. Tune into any sporting event on the boob tube and you get the camouflaged soldiers and ROTC students (if a college game) staring into the camera. After all, aren’t we at war, and have been for so long that the late great Gore Vidal named it ‘Perpetual War’?

What in the hell reason can the Pentagon and our War Economy have for making them dress in camouflage!? Isn’t that for when they are in the battle zones? Or perhaps they are getting us all ready, we the suckers… sorry,  we the voters, for when the **** becomes too toxic and they declare martial law? Am I just a cynic or conspiracy nut, or is that not too far on the horizon? They already want to clamp down, legislatively, on street protest, which, in case you Neo Cons out there forgot, was what Ben Franklin labeled  dissent as “The lifeblood of democracy”.

It is bad enough that the Neo Cons and what should be labeled the real Deep State did when they came up with the term Homeland after 9/11. They most likely wanted to use the term Fatherland but Joey boy Goebbels already patented it to give Hitler’s suckers.. sorry, voters, something to rally behind. It worked… in spades!

So, the Bush/Cheney Cabal and their handlers needed to get us in line, replete with  a sea of flags hanging from our garages and lapels, as they did their Shock and Awe destruction of Iraq. Don’t forget John Yoo and Jay Bybee’s authorship, with Fredo Gonzales’s sign off, on the legitimatizing of torture, with their ‘End Run’ of the Geneva Accords. Just as with the carpet bombing of Iraq and the illegal occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan, the ‘Colors of camouflage’ spontaneously generate throughout the world. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Bush , an Obama or now a Trump in the White House… Perpetual War continues at taxpayer and innocent civilians’ expense!

Is that the only purpose of this column? No, it just helps to explain why the precious ‘Safety Net’ that was stronger for so many generations is now shredded each and every day. Take the news stories about the homeless tent cities that ‘color in gray’ the landscapes of major metropolitan cities, and even smaller towns nationwide. Recently the city of Las Vegas, with a Democratic mayor and city council, passed an ordinance banning those tent cities of the homeless. Now, only a moron would disagree that many of those folks are in need of mental health aid. The remainder are either too broke to afford the higher costs of housing, and or are substance abusers in need of rehabilitation and counseling. Can’t happen folks! No funding! Yet, many of we suckers… sorry, voters, keep supporting the increases in those camouflaged uniforms. Perhaps Uncle Sam could sign up the lot of them and put them in camouflage. At least then they would have great medical care and psychological counseling, three squares a day and a clean bed to sleep in… all on your dime!

Isn’t Perpetual War great? Jay Bybee became a US Circuit court judge: John Yoo teaches at the U. of California at Berkeley; Fredo Gonzales is the Dean of Belmont University College of Law and teaches Constitutional law. Where is the outrage!? Or is Amerika some Woody Allen film?

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Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn , NYC longshoremen. He has been a free lance columnist since 2001, with over 400 of his work posted on sites like Global Research, Greanville Post, Off Guardian, Consortium News, Information Clearing House, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op Ed News, Dissident Voice, Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust, whereupon he writes a great deal on the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has a internet interview show, ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid’ with producer Chuck Gregory, and can be reached at [email protected].

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On November 7, 2019, the National Court of Justice of Ecuador ratified the preventive detention of former president Rafael Correa, along with a number of his former officials. Immediately after the court rendered its decision for pretrial detention, Correa rejected accusations of bribery, illicit association and contributions to his political campaign between 2012 and 2016, while he was the leader of Alianza Patria Altiva i Soberana (PAIS). Correa founded Alianza PAIS in 2006, as a democratic socialist political party with an objective to achieve economic and political sovereignty, and foment a social and economic revolution in the nation, which came to be known as The Citizens’ Revolution (La Revolución Ciudadana).

During his presidency, which lasted from January 15, 2007 to May 24, 2017, Correa introduced a brand of 21st century socialism to Ecuador, with a focus on improving the living standards of the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population. His presidency was part of ‘the revolutionary wave’ in Latin America, referred to as ‘Pink tide’, where a number of left-wing and socialist governments swept into power throughout the continent during the 2000s, including Cristina Néstor Kirchner and Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. All of these governments were opposed to neo-liberal economic policies and American imperialism.

While he was president, Correa raised taxes on the rich and cut down on tax evasion, and increased public investment on infrastructure and public services, including publicly-funded pensions, housing, free health care and education. His government ended up building many schools in different parts of the nation, particularly the countryside, and provided students with nearly all of the materials needed to further their studies. President Correa also more than doubled the minimum wage, which contributed to significantly reducing socioeconomic inequality. In 2018, a World Bank report explained that:

Ecuador has made notable improvements in reducing poverty over the last decade. Income poverty decreased from 36.7 percent in 2007 to 21.5 percent in 2017. In addition, the share of the population living in extreme poverty fell by more than half, from 16.5 percent in 2007 to 7.9 percent in 2017, representing an average annual drop of 0.9 percentage points. In absolute numbers, these changes represent a total of 1.6 million individuals exiting poverty, and about one million exiting extreme poverty over the last decade.[i]

Furthermore, the unemployment rate fell from an ‘all time high of 11.86 percent in the first quarter of 2004’ to ‘a record low of 4.54 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014’[ii]. The World Bank also reported that Ecuador posted annual economic growth of ‘4.5 percent during 2001-2014, well above the average for the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region of 3.3 percent. During this period, real GDP doubled and real GDP per capita increased by 50 percent.’[iii]

On October 1, 2016, Correa announced the nomination of Lenín Boltaire Moreno Garcés, who served as his vice president from 2007 to 2013, as his party’s candidate for the 2017 presidential election at the conference of Alianza PAIS. Moreno was elected president, and it was expected that he would continue and build on Correa’s left-wing economic policies. However, within a few months of winning the election, president Moreno began to dismantle many of the social, economic and political reforms enacted by Correa during his decade as president. Contrary to Correa’s government, many of the domestic policies pursued by president Moreno included reducing public spending, weakening worker rights, and providing significant tax cuts to the rich and large corporations. In other words, president Moreno has gradually shifted Ecuador’s left-wing policies to the political centre-right.

Moreno’s presidency also shifted Ecuador’s foreign policy stance, giving it a more neo-liberal and pro-American orientation. When Correa’s socialist government was in power, Ecuador enjoyed close diplomatic and economic relations with Venezuela, and was more independent of American hegemony. For example, president Correa closed a US military base in Manta, Ecuador when Washington’s lease expired in 2009. Prior to that, in 2007, Correa stated:

We’ll renew the [Manta air] base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base…if there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely, they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.[iv]

Subsequently, on September 18, 2009, he also said:

As long as I am president, I will not allow foreign bases in our homeland, I will not allow interference in our affairs, I will not negotiate our sovereignty and I will not accept guardians of our democracy.

Contrary to Correa, the US-Ecuador military relationship has expanded under the Moreno government ‘through training, assistance, and the reestablishment of an Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Quito.’[v]Ecuador and the US have also signed deals for the purchase of weapons and other military equipment, and agreed to cooperate more closely in the areas of security, intelligence, and counter-narcotics.

In 2011, president Correa expelled US ambassador Heather Hodges from Quito. Subsequently, in 2014, his government expelled the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from the country, where it had been operating since 1961 as part of John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress (AFP)[vi]. USAID regularly exercises ‘soft power’ in Latin American nations in order to help the US establish itself as an ‘international police power’[vii]. In May 2019, Moreno’s government announced that USAID would return to Ecuador.

President Correa also became renowned for providing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to prevent his arrest and possible extradition to the US. However, shortly after his election, there were indications that Moreno might be willing to hand him over to authorities in the UK. In addition to calling Assange an ‘inherited problem,’ a ‘spoiled brat’ and a ‘miserable hacker’, Moreno accused him of repeatedly violating his asylum conditions and of trying to use the embassy as a ‘centre for spying’[viii]. Then, on April 11, Assange’s political asylum was revoked, which allowed him to be forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy by British police.In response, Correa called Moreno ‘the greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history’ for committing ‘a crime humanity will never forget’[ix].

President Correa’s government supported the integration of South America countries into a single economic and political bloc. However, since Moreno came to power, Ecuador has distanced itself from the Venezuelan government, and withdrew from the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas[x](ALBA) in August 2018, as well as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in September 2019. UNASUR was established by 12 South American countries in 2008to address important issues in the region without the presence of the United States. Currently, only five members remain: Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. The other seven members, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay, agreed to create the Forum for the Progress of South America (PROSUR) in March 2019. The goal of this alternative organization is to achieve the right-wing agenda in Latin America, as its members support neo-liberal austerity measures and closer ties with Washington. It could be said that PROSUR aligns well with the goals and objectives of the Monroe Doctrine.

Another major shift in president Moreno’s political stance pertains to lawsuits brought against Texaco/Chevron by the Correa government to obtain compensation for environmental damages caused when the operations of Texaco (acquired by Chevron in 2001) dumped 16 billion gallons of toxic wastewater in the Amazon region of Ecuador between 1964 and 1992, affecting more than 30,000 Indigenous people and Campesinos in the area. ‘Chevron left 880 pits full of crude oil which are still there, the rivers are still full of hydrocarbon sediment and polluted by the crude oil spills in Amazonia, which is one of the most biodiversity rich regions in the world’[xi], and ‘the damage has been left unrepaired for more than 40 years’[xii]. To raise public awareness about this environmental disaster, president Correa’s government established an international campaign called the ‘Dirty Hand of Chevron’. In 2011, the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion in compensation for social and environmental damages it caused.

In September 2018, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), an agency of the United Nations based in the Hague, Netherlands, ruled that the Ecuadorian court decision against Chevron was illegal, because it was an outcome of fraud, bribery, and corruption. The PCA ‘also ruled that Ecuador will have to pay economic compensation’[xiii]to Chevron. ‘The amount has not been established yet, but Chevron requested that Ecuador assume the US$9.5 billion’ awarded to affected communities by the Ecuadorean court.[xiv]Following the PCA decision, the government of president Moreno announced that:

the state will sue former President Rafael Correa and his government officials if Ecuador lost the international arbitration process.[xv]

In this matter, president Moreno also accused Correa of ‘failing to defend the country’s interests correctly and spending money on “The Dirty Hand of Chevron” campaign, which according to the government sought to “manipulate national and international public opinion.”’[xvi] In reality, president Moreno supports the PCA decision, thereby prioritizing the interest of Texaco/Chevron over those of his own citizens. In fact, his government has been attempting to nullify the Constitutional Court ruling against Chevron. In response, former president Correa has accused the Moreno government of ‘doing homework ordered by (the United States Vice President Mike) Pence’. Even some of Moreno’s own cabinet ministers condemned the PCA ruling and expressed their support for Ecuador’s Constitutional Court for defending of the country’s nationals interest and the rights of the people of the Amazon.

Correa exhibited a hostile attitude towards the Bretton Woods Institutions during his presidency. He sought to renegotiate Ecuador’s external debt of US$10.2 billion, which he called ‘illegitimate’ because ‘it was accrued during autocratic and corrupt regimes of the past. Correa threatened to default on Ecuador’s foreign debt, and ordered the expulsion of the World Bank’s country manager’[xvii], which was carried out on April 26, 2007. His government also opposed the signing of any agreements that would permit the IMF to monitor Ecuador’s economic plan. As a result of such actions on the part of Correa’s government, ‘Ecuador was able to renegotiate its debt with its creditors and redirect public funds towards social investments.’[xviii]

To the contrary, Moreno has enthusiastically embraced the IMF during his short time as president. On March 1, 2019, Ecuador’s central bank manager, Verónica Artola Jarrín, and economy and finance minister, Richard Martínez Alvarado,submitted a letter of intent to the IMF requesting a three-year $4.2 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement. An EFF allows the IMF to assist countries that are facing ‘serious medium-term balance of payments problems.’ More precisely, EFF is designed to:

to provide assistance to countries: (i) experiencing serious payments imbalances because of structural impediments; or (ii) characterized by slow growth and an inherently weak balance of payments position. The EFF provides assistance in support of comprehensive programs that include policies of the scope and character required to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.[xix]

The IMF agreement signed in March allowed Ecuador to borrow $4.2 billion. However, as is always the case, the IMF agreement was not without conditionalities, as it required the Ecuadorian government to implement a series of neo-liberal economic reforms. According to IMF statements, these reforms aim to transform Ecuador’s fiscal deficit into a surplus, reduce the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio, and increase foreign investment. On March 11, 2019, Christine Lagarde, former Managing Director of the IMF, claimed that:

The Ecuadorian authorities are implementing a comprehensive reform program aimed at modernizing the economy and paving the way for strong, sustained, and equitable growth.[xx]

On March 11, 2019, Christine Lagarde also explained that:

Achieving a robust fiscal position is at the core of the authorities’ program, which will be supported by a three-year extended arrangement from the IMF. The aim is to reduce debt-to-GDP ratio through a combination of a wage bill realignment, a careful and gradual optimization of fuel subsidies, a reprioritization of capital and goods and services spending, and a tax reform. The savings generated by these measures will allow for an increase in social assistance spending over the course of the program. The authorities will continue their efforts to strengthen the medium-term fiscal policy framework, and more rigorous fiscal controls and better public financial management will help to enhance the effectiveness of fiscal policy.[xxi]

Protecting the poor and most vulnerable segments in society is a key objective of the authorities’ program. In this context, the authorities plan to extend the coverage of, and increase the nominal level of benefits under the existing social protection programs. Work is also underway to improve the targeting of social programs.[xxii]

Ecuador’s participation in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) represents another point of contention between Correa and the Moreno government. Ecuador was a member of OPEC from 1973 and 1992. After a period of absence, it rejoined the organization in 2007 after Correa became president of the country. However, on October 1st, president Moreno announced that Ecuador would once again end its membership in OPEC effective January 1, 2020. Given Moreno’s penchant for implementing neo-liberal economic policies, this decision was likely based on the notion that freeing the country from the burden of having to abide by quotas would bring fiscal sustainability to Ecuador. This is evidenced by the fact that Ecuador contacted OPEC to request permission to produce above its quota in February 2019, though it was never confirmed whether a response was received[xxiii]. While increasing production in its Amazonian oil fields would likely bring more foreign investment to Ecuador and open up new markets, it would also lead to serious conflicts between the Moreno government and the indigenous people living in the area, who are strongly opposed to oil extraction.

In addition to announcing Ecuador’s departure from OPEC, president Moreno also selected October 1stas the date to introduce Decree 883, a series of economic measures that included ending longstanding subsidies for fuel, the removal of some import tariffs, and cuts to the benefits and wages of public employees. In particular, the elimination of fuel subsidies, which had been in place for 40 years, was instituted in order to meet IMF requirements to keep the $4.2 billion programme on track, and to satisfy international investors. The EFF agreement between the IMF and the Ecuadorean government also called for thousands of public employees to be laid off, the privatization of public assets, the separation of the central bank from the government, cutting public expenditures, and raising taxes over the next three years. IMF representatives claim that these types of reforms bring more foreign direct investment into the economy.

In fact, a close examination of the neo-liberal economic reforms recommended by the IMF in many countries reveals that they are almost identical, meaning that they do not take the diverse needs and realities of each country into account; rather, they are driven by the interests of the countries and other stakeholders that provide the funds. Generally, the IMF’s recommendations[xxiv]consist of cutting deficits, liberalizing trade, privatizing state-owned enterprises, reforming the banking and financial systems, increasing taxes, raising interest rates, and reforming key sectors. However, countless studies have revealed that these types of reforms, have raised the unemployment rate, created poverty, and have often preceded recessions. On October 2, 2019, the IMF issued a press release on Ecuador stating that:

The reforms announced yesterday by President Lenin Moreno aim to improve the resilience and sustainability of Ecuador’s economy and foster strong, and inclusive growth. The announcement included important measures to protect the poor and most vulnerable, as well as to generate jobs in a more competitive economy.

The authorities are also working on important reforms aimed at supporting Ecuador’s dollarization, including the reform of the central bank and the organic code of budget and planning.

IMF staff will continue to work closely with the authorities to improve the prospects for all Ecuadorians. The second review is expected to be submitted to the Executive Board in the coming weeks.[xxv]

President Moreno’s decision to end the subsidies on fuel led to the prices of diesel and petroleum increasing by 100% and 30%, respectively, overnight, which directly contributed to significantly raising the costs of public transportation. In response, protests erupted against Moreno’s austerity measures on October 3rd, featuring students, unions and indigenous organizations. They declared an indefinite general strike until the government reversed its neo-liberal adjustment package. Moreno’s initial response was to reject the ultimatum and state that he would ‘not negotiate with criminals.’

The following day, on October 4, 2019, president Moreno declared a state of emergency under the pretext of ensuring the security of citizens and to ‘avoid chaos.’ Nonetheless, the protests continued and intensified to the point that the government was forced to relocate to city of Guayaquil because Quito had been overrun by anti-government protestors. However, this attempt to escape the protestors proved ineffective as taxi, bus and truck drivers blocked roads and bridges in Guayaquil, as well as in Quito, which disrupted transportation nationwide.

In the following days, thousands of demonstrators continued to demand the reversal of austerity measures, as well as the resignation of the president. However, Moreno remained defiant, refusing both demands under all circumstances. Subsequently, Ecuador’s main oil pipeline ceased operations after it was seized by indigenous protesters. Petro-Ecuador was concerned that production losses could reach 165,000 barrels a day. Indigenous protesters also occupied two water treatment plants in the city of Ambato. Meanwhile, violent clashes between protesters and police resulted in seven deaths, about 2,000 injuries, and over 1,000 arrests. Eventually, Moreno’s government was forced to back down and make concession with the well-organised protesters.

On October 13, president Moreno agreed to withdraw Decree 883 and replace the IMF-backed plan with a new proposal, involving negotiations with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and other social groups. The following day, president Moreno signed Decree 894, which reinstated the cancelled fuel subsidies. However, on October 23, CONAIE released a statement informing the public that ‘it paused talks with President Lenin Moreno because of the government’s “persecution” of the group’s leaders [Jaime Vargas] since a halt to violent anti-austerity protests.’[xxvi]

It is unlikely that president Moreno would be willing to give up on his austerity policies or start the process of cancelling the IMF loan, given his apparent commitment to helping the US realize the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine. Many of the reforms and policies that his government has introduced will help keep Ecuador firmly entrenched in America’s backyard for years to come.

This is not a new development, as history has revealed that, for more than a century, ‘in Latin America there are more than enough of the kind of rulers who are ready to use Yankee troops against their own people when they find themselves in crisis’ (Fidel Castro, Havana 1962). However, the eruption of protests in response to Moreno’s neo-liberal reforms suggests that he faces an uphill battle, as his fellow Ecuadorians do not appear to share his enthusiasm for selling his country to external creditors and foreign influences. Although Moreno has managed to successfully drive Rafael Correa out of Ecuador, the former president’s opposition to capitalism and imperialism remain strong among the population.  

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Global Research contributor Dr. Birsen Filip holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Ottawa. 

Notes

[i] http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/835601530818848154/pdf/Ecuador-SCD-final-june-25-06292018.pdf

[ii] https://tradingeconomics.com/ecuador/unemployment-rate

[iii] http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/835601530818848154/pdf/Ecuador-SCD-final-june-25-06292018.pdf

[iv] https://uk.reuters.com/article/ecuador-base/ecuador-wants-military-base-in-miami-idUKADD25267520071022

[v] https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-ecuador/

[vi] ‘AFP was a 10-year, multibillion-dollar aid program targeting Latin American countries, whereas USAID sought to support economic growth and progress in the agriculture and health care services sectors, while also promoting democratic institutions and democratic forms of governance. The impetus for the establishment of the AFP and its involvement in Latin American countries, in conjunction with USAID, was the success of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which culminated in the overthrow of the oppressive regime led by Fulgencio Batista, who ruled the country as a dictator with full US backing. This led to the Americans losing their considerable influence over the island. More importantly, this outcome made the US leadership paranoid that other countries situated in their “backyard” might follow Cuba’s example and revolt against US-supported dictators and regimes, nationalize businesses and resources, and establish closer ties with the Soviet Union. Washington used the AFP and USAID as mechanisms by which to improve trade ties with Latin American countries with the ultimate objective of preventing the spread of communism in the region.’  https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-flower-industrys-impacts-on-colombia-on-mothers-day/5640156

[vii] https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-flower-industrys-impacts-on-colombia-on-mothers-day/5640156

[viii] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/apr/14/assange-tried-to-use-embassy-as-centre-for-spying-says-ecuadors-moreno

[ix] https://www.rt.com/news/456229-correa-slams-moreno-assange-arrest/

[x] To counter the influence that the US exercised over Latin American economies, Chávez proposed the creation of an alternative economic agreement that was anti-imperialist in nature. In 2004, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) was established, initially funded by Cuba and Venezuela.

[xi] https://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org/21st-may-the-global-antichevron-day-of-action-is-coming/

[xii] https://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org/21st-may-the-global-antichevron-day-of-action-is-coming/

[xiii] https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Arbitration-Tribunal-Rules-Against-Ecuador-Favors-Chevron-20180907-0011.html

[xiv] https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Arbitration-Tribunal-Rules-Against-Ecuador-Favors-Chevron-20180907-0011.html

[xv] https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Arbitration-Tribunal-Rules-Against-Ecuador-Favors-Chevron-20180907-0011.html

[xvi] https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Arbitration-Tribunal-Rules-Against-Ecuador-Favors-Chevron-20180907-0011.html

[xvii] https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Ecuadors-Citizens-Revolution-A-Shift-in-Foreign-Policy-20150107-0029.html

[xviii] https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Ecuadors-Citizens-Revolution-A-Shift-in-Foreign-Policy-20150107-0029.html

[xix] https://www.imf.org/en/About/Factsheets/Sheets/2016/08/01/20/56/Extended-Fund-Facility

[xx] https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/03/11/ecuador-pr1972-imf-executive-board-approves-eff-for-ecuador

[xxi] https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/03/11/ecuador-pr1972-imf-executive-board-approves-eff-for-ecuador

[xxii] https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/03/11/ecuador-pr1972-imf-executive-board-approves-eff-for-ecuador

[xxiii] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-opec/ecuador-to-quit-opec-in-2020-in-search-of-bigger-export-revenue-idUSKBN1WG4KB

[xxiv] The IMF’s original mandate was to promote international monetary cooperation, facilitate the development of international trade, and support the stability of exchange rates in order to restore economies, prevent recessions, and create full employment and economic growth. However, the IMF’s mandate has been noticeably transformed over time. In particular, many of the activities of the IMF during the Cold War Era designed to counteract the spread of socialist regimes. For example, the IMF was willing to provide financial assistance to underdeveloped countries as long as they implemented policies that secured the conditions of free-market economics. During the 1980s, the IMF began forcing its highly-indebted members to adopt Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) that detailed the neo-liberal economic reforms that would have to be implemented as conditions for receiving loans.

Loans provided by the Bretton Woods Institutions have been contingent upon recipient countries adopting major neo-liberal economic reforms aimed at restructuring their economies in a manner that prioritized making loan repayment at a specified time. The implementation of SAPs is required for a developing nation to be eligible to receive financial assistance from not only the IMF, but also from a number of other donor sources. In other words, a loan will only be approved if a government adopts the IMF recommendations laid out in its SAPs and respects the deadlines for their implementation. Furthermore, after the loan agreement has been approved, the IMF reserves the right to interrupt the disbursements at any time if the government does not respect the precise deadlines for implementing the specified reforms.

[xxv] https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/10/02/pr19362-ecuador-imf-statement-on-ecuador

[xxvi] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-protests/ecuadors-indigenous-group-says-government-talks-on-hold-due-to-persecution-idUSKBN1X22ST

Featured image is from The Grayzone

US Coup Plot to Oust Bolivia’s Evo Morales

November 10th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

The late William Blum documented how Washington toppled numerous sovereign governments, assassinated legitimate leaders, and removed others by coup d’etats.

Along with endless wars of aggression and by other means against nations threatening no one, that’s what US hegemonic rage for unchallenged global dominance is all about.

Nations unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to US interests are on its target list for regime change.

Blum explained that US policies are “worse than (most people) imagine” or understand. They include virtually every form of lawlessness in pursuit of its geopolitical aims — notably aggression, economic terrorism, pressure, bullying, intimidation, and manipulating foreign elections.

When their outcomes elect or reelect the “wrong” leaders, they’re targeted for removal by foul means.

Evo Morales was and remain’s Bolivia’s first indigenous president since elected in December 2005, taking office in January 2006.

In October, he was reelected for the third time, defeating challengers Carlos Mesa and Chi Hyun Chung, his popular support topping theirs combined.

His victory margin over lead challenger Mesa exceeded 10% to avoid a runoff.

James Petras earlier explained that no president in Bolivian history “secured consecutive electoral victories (now four), and ruled democratically for such an extended period of time…with political stability” as Morales.

Calling him “the world’s most conservative radical…or the most radical conservative,” Petras explained that his domestic and foreign agendas combine “radical rhetoric and…orthodox economic policies,” adding:

“The most striking aspect of (his rule) is his rigor and consistency in upholding orthodox economic policies –right out of the handbook of the international financial organizations.”

His independence and anti-imperialist rhetoric made him a prime US target for removal.

Petras: He “launched a series of anti-imperialist manifestos against US intervention in Venezuela; repeatedly denounced the US blockade of Cuba; opposed the US backed military coup in Honduras’ and defended Argentina’s claim to the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands.”

He “joined the radical regional bloc, ALBA, initiated by President Chavez and supported ‘regional integration’ which excluded the US. He denounced the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) as a ‘neo-liberal project’.”

He “praised Edward Snowden and his revelations; denounced NSA spying and…denounc(ed) European collaboration with the US Empire.”

He achieved “an unprecedented decade of political and social stability and a growth rate between 4% and 6%” — 4.2% in 2018.

He’s “a master, without peer in Latin America, at justifying orthodox, reactionary policies with radical rhetoric” — combining service to business interests with populist rhetoric, denouncing imperialism while “embrac(ing) neo-liberal economic orthodoxy.”

Petras called him a “genius…political manipulator” — no “social revolutionary” or government of Bolivia’s working class.

He’s been Latin America’s “most successful democratic capitalist ruler…” Yet hardliners in the US want him replaced, what the post-election coup plot against him is all about, CIA dirty hands all over it.

Days earlier, Telesur reported that “Radio Education Network of Bolivia (Erbol) leaked 16 audios, involving opposition leaders who are calling for a coup d’etat against” Morales — the plot orchestrated and coordinated from the US embassy in La Paz, the executive and legislative seat of government, Sucre the judicial branch seat.

Leaked audios mention contacts between GOP hardliners Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, as well as undemocratic Dem Bob Menendez with Bolivian opposition leaders.

They also call for setting government buildings ablaze, organizing nationwide strike actions, and other disruptive tactics— right out of the CIA’s playbook, including violent street protests.

Morales denounced what’s going on, telling supporters in La Paz Tuesday of a coup plot against him, adding backers of the electoral result turning out in large numbers is “not in defense of (him) but of the people themselves,” mobilized to defend democracy from dark forces wanting it eliminated.

He invited the international community to audit election results, saying: “Let them come here. Let them know how much they have earned.”

“We never lie or hide.” The world community has an “obligation to respect our Political Constitution of State. They have to respect the will of the Bolivian people.”

No evidence suggests lead opposition figure Mesa’s accusation of “massive fraud” — what the US falsely claims time and again when democratic elections chose the “wrong candidate” — notably Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, his successor.

Trump regime hardliners want the US-controlled Organization of American States (OAS), headquartered in Washington, to conduct an election results audit to be able to falsely claim fraud despite no evidence suggesting it.

They and ruling right-wing regimes in Argentina (before succeeded by President-elect Fernandez on December 10), Brazil and Colombia called for a new election if an audit doesn’t affirm the anti-Morales result they want.

On Friday, he said

“I would like to tell you, brothers and sisters, as well as entire Bolivia and the whole world. I will not give up (the presidency). We have been elected by the people, and we respect the constitution.”

He’s in the US crosshairs, wanting pro-Western puppet rule replacing him.

Numerous US plots using varying tactics are playing out against other sovereign independent governments on its target list for regime change.

That’s what the scourge of US imperialism is all about, seeking global dominance by whatever it takes to achieve its objectives — the rule of law and human toll of no consequence.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

The Passing of Fidel, Three Years Later

November 10th, 2019 by Prof Susan Babbitt

Fidel Castro, dead three years this month, resisted US power in a way that could be learned from. I don’t mean the Revolution. It began earlier. Castro insisted on that. Thus, the old flag and anthem were retained. The country was not renamed.

It was respect for history: of dead ends. Cintio Vitier refers to the law of the “callejón sin salida”, [i] referring to events in 1878, 1898 and 1933. That law inspired the “law of the impossible”: in poetry, art and literature.[ii] It wasn’t an “impossible dream”. It wasn’t a dream.

It was deeper, broader, and the idea is ancient.

When Castro said, “Y todo lo que parecía imposible fue posible” [iii] (all that seemed impossible was possible), he drew on tradition.  It’s philosophical, but not one we teach.

The “law of the impossible” is about the seemingly impossible becoming actionable, which requires ideas, which generate expectations. What you see – with your own eyes – can be (rationally) dismissed if  unexpected. It gets explained away. But if it becomes plausible, it merits explanation.

This part is known in philosophy, intellectually.[iv]

The point is taken further in Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin. Resistance to Hitler is implausible. And indeed, Otto and Anna, who resist, are unsuccessful. They are caught. They die. Politically, they fail.

Otto is told: “You must have known you had no chance! It’s a gnat against an elephant. I don’t understand it in a sensible man like you!” Otto’s answer: “No, and you will never understand it either. You see, it doesn’t matter if one man fights or ten thousand; if the one man sees he has no option but to fight, then he will fight, whether he has others on his side or not”.

The important part of the exchange is the “No, and you will never understand it either.” It’s about acting for truth when results are uncertain, indeed, unlikely, but also, importantly, when that truth is humanness. The “law of the impossible” is humanness at risk and you can’t know that law if you don’t believe in humanness.

Fallada refers to “integrity” but that term is problematic, currently, because truth is problematic. There’s no fuzziness in this regard, though, in anti-imperialist traditions. Brazilian philosopher, Paulo Freire, for example, refers to “authentic humanity” and says it’s impossible that it not be detected.

He doesn’t defend the idea of truth about that impossibility. It’s presupposed in the struggle he lived: against dead ends. Experience of such truth made it plausible. If one knows dehumanization – dead ends –  there is, as Otto says, no option.

When Otto and Anna are tried, the Nazi judge “could see recognition in the faces of the spectators in the courtroom”. At all costs, he “wanted to strip the accused of that recognition”.

It makes resistance plausible for others. But he fails. And powerful imperialist liberal ideology hasn’t stripped Cuba of recognition. It’s a fact. In Nazi prison, Reichardt, an orchestra  conductor, tells Otto, “It would have been better if we’d had a good plan …. As it was we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone”.

Herein lies the ancient part of the idea: essential interdependence. It’s not just ancient. Vitier uses the word “earthy” (teluricidad) to link Cuban thinkers who defied dead ends of imperialism. It’s how they knew slavery was wrong. It was a “sentimiento de la justicia”,[v] feeling not theory.

That question of how to know something becomes urgent when what needs to be known is hard to know, seemingly impossible. But one must think there is something to be known.

When Anna urges Otto to stop distributing his postcards, Otto says, “Who wants to die. Everyone wants to live, everyone – Even the most miserable worm is screaming for life! I want to live too. But maybe it’s a good thing, Anna, … to think of a wretched death, and to get ready for it. So that you know you’ll be able to die properly, without moaning and whimpering. That would be disgusting to me …”

Anna agrees. To “die properly” is an implausible idea in the happiness-obsessed North. But it’s been rediscovered by scientists in the US: doctors.[vi] They argue, compellingly, that a certain way of understanding the human condition limits medicine. It’s a way of understanding that denies vulnerability. It denies interdependence. Dr. Arthur Kleinman calls it “reciprocity”

He says “being present’ is how scientists identify aspects of a problem that are unexpected. It advances medicine. But it’s submission, giving up: of expectations for success, for example.  Dr. Adam B. Hill says medicine can’t accept, in theory or practise, human brokenness.

It makes care implausible. The very idea  is implausible because care is connection. It’s a way of thinking that involves service and sacrifice. And it’s irremediably contrary to “political fictions” like the “self-made man” of liberalism. Kleinman says such fictions are “fundamentally wrong”. He’s brave.

In 1953, at trial, Castro said,

“To those who will say I am a dreamer let me quote the words of [José] Martí, ‘A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather the path where duty lies, and this is the only practical man . . . because he who has looked back on the essential course of history . . . knows that, without a single exception, the future lies on the side of duty.’”

Fallada tells Otto and Anna’s story (based on real events) because it sows seeds for the future. Cuba’s story is urgent for this same reason, and many do tell it. But they tell a political story, never the philosophical.

Castro should have added that looking properly at history requires sacrificing expectations: about who does philosophy, for example. It seems impossible. The intellectual superiority of the North is part of identity, like slavery was. Seeing it as “law of the impossible” – humanness at risk – is real resistance.

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Susan Babbitt is author of Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014). She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[i] No exit. In Ese sol del mundo moral (Editorial Félix Varela, 1996) 151

[ii] ibid

[iii] July 26, 1971.

[iv] E.g. Hilary Putnam, “The analytic and the synthetic” (1975).

[v] José de la Luz y Caballero, 1862

[vi] Arthur Kleinman, Soul of Care (2019); Adam B. Hill, Long Walk out of the Woods (2019).

Despite being a “rabid anti-Franquista” for many years, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro would develop some grudging respect for Spain’s Fascist dictator, General Francisco Franco.

Following Castro’s 1959 ousting of the American-backed tyrant, Fulgencio Batista, Washington ordered all Latin American and European nations to ostracize revolutionary Cuba. With the Caribbean island facing near-total isolation, and with worse deprivations to come, Castro noted that Franco “was the only one who didn’t bend to Washington’s demand”. It would prove an unlikely lifeline for the new Cuba.

Castro said,

“Franco didn’t break off relations. That was a praiseworthy attitude that deserves our respect and even, at that point, our gratitude. He refused to give in to American pressure. He acted with real Galician stubbornness. He never broke off relations with Cuba. His attitude in that respect was rock-strong”.

Franco was himself born in the Atlantic coastal town of El Ferrol, Galicia, in north-west Spain. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain’s forces were routed by America in the decisive Battle of Santiago de Cuba – a naval conflict on Cuba’s southern coast, sealing America’s victory in the war.

As the battle neared its end, an entire Spanish squadron was destroyed by the Americans, which Castro highlights was “from El Ferrol” (Franco’s birthplace). Over 340 Spanish sailors were wiped out, and almost two thousand captured, while the US suffered just a single casualty. It was one of the greatest humiliations in Spanish history and ensured Cuba’s transfer from one imperial power (Spain) to another (America) – coined “the liberation of Cuba” by Western scholars.

Castro expounded that the defeat

“was a terrible blow to the military’s pride, and to all of Spain’s pride. And it happened when Franco was a boy in El Ferrol. Franco must have grown up and read and heard all about that bitter experience, in an atmosphere of despondency and thirst for revenge. He may even have been present when the remains of the defeated fleet were returned, the soldiers and officers who’d been humiliated and thwarted. It must have left a profound mark on him”.

It may explain the potential disregard in which Franco held America. This despite him enjoying support from certain US businesses during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) – like the Texas Oil Company, and automobile manufacturers Ford, Studebaker, and General Motors, who in total provided 12,000 trucks to Franco’s men, with fuel supplies.

Though officially protected by the US from 1953 on (Pact of Madrid), Franco’s Spain never gained membership of the American-run military alliance NATO – despite neighboring Portugal being among the first countries to join NATO in 1949, under the right-wing Antonio Salazar dictatorship. Spain only acceded to NATO in 1982, almost seven years after the Fascist autocrat’s death.

Nor did Franco ever set foot in the US, or grace the sacred halls of the White House, unlike other dictators (the Shah, Suharto, Pinochet, etc.). In Madrid, Franco met presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon – while in 1972 he saw Ronald Reagan in the Spanish capital when the latter was Governor of California, but never returned the favor on any occasion.

Elsewhere, Franco would have been aware that most white Cubans themselves are of Spanish extraction. Castro’s father, for example, was born in Galicia, the same Spanish territory as Franco.

As a result, Castro’s sound defeat of US-backed forces during the Bay of Pigs invasion (April 1961) – and later resistance to American terror – is likely to have been viewed by Franco, which Castro remarked, as “a way to secure Spain’s revenge”, while having “restored the Spaniards’ patriotic sentiments and honor”, after the disasters of the Spanish-American War. “That historical, almost emotional element, must have influenced Franco’s attitude”.

Despite repeated criticism of Franco’s policies, Castro was somewhat reliant upon him, admitting that “nobody was going to make me break them off [relations]”. Franco was easily the largest importer of not only Cuban tobacco, but also of rum and sugar. Had Franco severed ties as the Americans demanded, the Cuban Revolution’s future would have been thrown into further doubt.

Moreover, in return, Franco sold trucks, machinery, and other commodities such as fruit to Cuba – while Spain’s national airline continued its routine operations from Madrid to Havana, the only then such flights between western Europe and Cuba. In late 1963, the new American president, Lyndon B. Johnson, threatened Franco with legislation which would cut aid to nations assisting Castro’s government. Again, the intimidation was rebutted.

Franco, known as El Caudillo [the Leader], had long been noted for his obstinance. Decades before, despite heated demands from Adolf Hitler for Spain to enter the Second World War – including a famous meeting between the dictators in October 1940 at Hendaye, south-western France – Franco declined his German counterpart’s overtures. This was at a time when Hitler, known for his persuasive methods, was at the pinnacle of his power, with much of mainland and northern Europe under his control.

Franco’s refusal to commit seriously to the war enraged Hitler, who had provided crucial military aid to Franco during the Spanish Civil War, along with Benito Mussolini. Unable to pin Franco down, Hitler said he would “rather have three of four teeth pulled” than meet him once more; and Indeed, they would never see each other again.

The Nazi dictator, addressing Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and Armaments Minister Albert Speer, further denounced Franco in January 1943 as, “a fat little sergeant who couldn’t grasp at my far-reaching plans”.

Hitler remarked that,

“during the civil war the idealism was not on Franco’s side, it was to be found among the Reds. Certainly they pillaged and desecrated, but so did Franco’s men, without having any good reason for it – the Reds were working off centuries of hatred for the Catholic Church, which always oppressed the Spanish people. When I think of that I understand a good many things”. (Hitler’s comments were recounted by Speer in December 1950 at Spandau prison, West Berlin).

Franco’s main commitment to the German military effort comprised of dispatching “the Blue Division” to the Eastern Front, in June 1941 (as the war continued its numbers rose to 45,000 troops).

However, by the mid-1940s, Hitler’s “far-reaching plans” lay in ruins, and Franco’s refusal to weigh fully in behind the Germans surely saved his neck. As Castro discerned of Franco, “He was unquestionably shrewd, cunning – I don’t know whether that came from his being Galician; the Galicians are accused of being shrewd”.

Franco’s near four-decade rule, until his death in November 1975, was also one of bloodshed and repression, particularly in the early years. Franco had said in 1938, “One thing I am sure of, and which I can answer truthfully… wherever I am there will be no Communism”. He ruthlessly followed through on such a declaration with policies responsible for killing up to 400,000 people, as Spanish Republicans and other left-leaning activists were massacred by Francoite forces.

As Castro noted of the Spanish despot, “the number of people he killed, the repression he imposed… his name is associated with a tragic period in Spain’s history”.

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This article was originally published on Global Village Space.

Shane Quinn obtained an honors journalism degree. He is interested in writing primarily on foreign affairs, having been inspired by authors like Noam Chomsky. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Global Village Space