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First published by Global Research on August 11, 2018
Few, if any, believe what they hear and read from leaders and media publicists. Most people choose to ignore the cacophony of voices, vices and virtues.
This paper provides a set of theses which purports to lay-out the basis for a dialogue between and among those who choose to abstain from elections with the intent to engage them in political struggle.
US empire builders of all colors and persuasion practice donkey tactics; waving the carrot and wielding the whip to move the target government on the chosen path.
In the same way, Washington offers dubious concessions and threatens reprisals, in order to move them into the imperial orbit.
Washington applied the tactic successfully in several recent encounters. In 2003 the US offered Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi a peaceful accommodation in exchange for disarmament, abandonment of nationalist allies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 2011, the US with its European allies applied the whip – bombed Libya, financed and armed retrograde tribal and terrorist forces, destroyed the infrastructure, murdered Gaddafi and uprooted millions of Africans and Libyans. . . who fled to Europe. Washington recruited mercenaries for their subsequent war against Syria in order to destroy the nationalist Bashar Assad regime.
Washington succeeded in destroying an adversary but did not establish a puppet regime in the midst of perpetual conflict.
The empire’s carrot weakened its adversary, but the stick failed to recolonize Libya ..Moreover its European allies are obligated to pay the multi-billion Euro cost of absorbing millions of uprooteded immigrants and the ensuing domestic political turmoil.
Empire builders’ proposal to reconfigure the economy in order to regain imperial supremacy provokes domestic and overseas enemies. President Trump launched a global trade war, replaced political accommodation with economic sanctions against Russia and a domestic protectionist agenda and sharply reduced corporate taxes. He provoked a two-front conflict. Overseas, he provoked opposition from European allies and China, while facing perpetual harassment from domestic free market globalists and Russo-phobic political elites and ideologues.
Two front conflicts are rarely successful. Most successful imperialist conquer adversaries in turn – first one and then the other.
Leftists frequently reverse course: they are radicals out of office and reactionaries in government, eventually falling between both chairs. We witness the phenomenal collapse of the German Social Democratic Party, the Greek Socialist Party (PASOK), (and its new version Syriza) and the Workers Party in Brazil. Each attracted mass support, won elections, formed alliances with bankers and the business elite – and in the face of their first crises, are abandoned by the populace and the elite.
Shrewd but discredited elites frequently recognize the opportunism of the Left, and in time of distress, have no problem in temporarily putting up with Left rhetoric and reforms as long as their economic interests are not jeopardized. The elite know that the Left signal left and turn right.
Elections, even ones won by progressives or leftists, frequently become springboards for imperial backed coups. Over the past decade newly elected presidents, who are not aligned with Washington, face congressional and/or judicial impeachment on spurious charges. The elections provide a veneer of legitimacy which a straight-out military-coup lacks.
In Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, ‘legislatures’ under US tutelage attempted to ouster popular President. They succeeded in the former and failed in the latter.
When electoral machinery fails, the judicial system intervenes to impose restraints on progressives, based on tortuous and convoluted interpretation of the law. Opposition leftists in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador have been hounded by ruling party elites.
Even crazy leaders speak truth to power. There is no question that President Trump suffers a serious mental disorder, with midnight outbursts and nuclear threats against, any and all, ranging from philanthropic world class sports figures (LeBron James) to NATO respecting EU allies.
Yet in his lunacy, President Trump has denounced and exposed the repeated deceits and ongoing fabrications of the mass media. Never before has a President so forcefully identified the lies of the leading print and TV outlets. The NY Times, Washington Post, the Financial Times, NBC, CNN, ABC and CBS have been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the larger public. They have lost legitimacy and trust. Where progressives have failed, a war monger, billionaire has accomplished, speaking a truth to serve many injustices.
When a bark turns into a bite, Trump proves the homely truth that fear invites aggression. Trump has implemented or threatened severe sanctions against the EU, China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea and any country that fails to submit to his dictates. At first, it was bombast and bluster which secured concessions.
Concessions were interpreted as weakness and invited greater threats. Disunity of opponents encouraged imperial tacticians to divide and conquer. But by attacking all adversaries simultaneously he undermines that tactic. Threats everywhere limits choices to dangerous options at home and abroad.
The master meddlers, of all times, into the politics of sovereign states are the Anglo-American empire builders. But what is most revealing is the current ploy of accusing the victims of the crimes that are committed against them.
After the overthrow of the Soviet regime, the US and its European acolytes ‘meddled’ on a world-historic scale, pillaging over two trillion dollars of Soviet wealth and reducing Russian living standards by two thirds and life expectancy to under sixty years – below the level of Bangladesh.
With Russia’s revival under President Putin, Washington financed a large army of self-styled ‘non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) to organize electoral campaigns, recruited moguls in the mass media and directed ethnic uprisings. The Russians are retail meddlers compared to the wholesale multi-billion-dollar US operators.
Moreover, the Israeli’s have perfected meddling on a grand scale – they intervene successfully in Congress, the White House and the Pentagon. They set the Middle East agenda, budget and priorities, and secure the biggest military handouts on a per-capita basis in US history!
Apparently, some meddlers meddle by invitation and are paid to do it.
Corruption is endemic in the US where it has legal status and where tens of millions of dollars change hands and buy Congress people, Presidents and judges.
In the US the buyers and brokers are called ‘lobbyists’ – everywhere else they are called fraudsters. Corruption (lobbying) grease the wheels of billion dollars military spending, technological subsidies, tax evading corporations and every facet of government – out in the open, all the time and place of the US regime.
Corruption as lobbying never evokes the least criticism from the mass media.
On the other hand, where corruption takes place under the table in Iran, China and Russia, the media denounce the political elite – even where in China over 2 million officials, high and the low are arrested and jailed.
When corruption is punished in China, the US media claim it is merely a ‘political purge’ even if it directly reduces elite conspicuous consumption.
In other words, imperial corruption defends democratic value; anti-corruption is a hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships.
Bread and circuses are integral parts of empire building – especially in promoting urban street mobs to overthrow independent and elected governments.
Imperial financed mobs – provided the cover for CIA backed coups in Iran (1954), Ukraine (2014), Brazil (1964), Venezuela (2003, 2014 and 2017), Argentina (1956), Nicaragua (2018), Syria (2011) and Libya (2011) among other places and other times.
Masses for empire draw paid and voluntary street fighters who speak for democracy and serve the elite. The “mass cover” is especially effective in recruiting leftists who look to the street for opinion and ignore the suites which call the shots.
The empire is like a three-legged stool it promotes genocide, to secure magnicide and to rule by homicide. Invasions kills millions, capture and kill rulers and then rule by homicide – police assassinating dissenting citizens.
The cases are readily available: Iraq and Libya come to mind. The US and its allies invaded, bombed and killed over a million Iraqis, captured and assassinated its leaders and installed a police state.
A similar pattern occurred in Libya: the US and EU bombed, killed and uprooted several million people, assassinated Ghadaffy and fomented a lawless terrorist war of clans, tribes and western puppets.
“Western values” reveal the inhumanity of empires built to murder “a la carte” – stripping the victim nations of their defenders, leaders and citizens.
The ten theses define the nature of 21st century imperialism – its continuities and novelties.
The mass media systematically write and speak lies to power: their message is to disarm their adversaries and to arouse their patrons to continue to plunder the world.
Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.