No Troop Withdrawal in Afghanistan

June 21st, 2011 by Sherwood Ross

Four cheers for the U.S. Conference of Mayors! It has just voted up a resolution calling on Washington to transfer $126-billion in annual spending from its Middle East wars to America’s cities! This vote represents an historic, antiwar breakthrough, one perhaps analogous to CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s commentary on February 27, 1968, that the U.S. could get no better than a stalemate in Viet Nam. As Cronkite put it,“…it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”

We might hope Americans today will not have to endure further long years of losses in blood and treasure as did this nation in the Sixties and into the Seventies because Presidents Johnson and Nixon refused to withdraw even though the objective Cronkite rightly diagnosed the conflict as win-less and futile. Unfortunately, President Obama is not apt to listen to the mayors, either.

He is expected to deliver a speech tomorrow(June 22nd) calling for a mere token withdrawal from Afghanistan, where the cruel war drags on into its tenth year, making it the longest contest in U.S. history. That’s despite a Bloomburg poll, one of many, that shows the American public by an overwhelming margin of 63% to 30% want “complete withdrawal.” U.S. taxpayers are not only funding about 100,000 uniformed troops in Afghanistan but a like figure of civilian “contractors,” who may be considered irregular regulars.

According to the Agence France-Presse dispatch of June 20, Obama “has to weigh rising popular discontent over the war with military and strategic considerations and may want to showcase faster withdrawals when he runs for a second term next year.”

And Monday’s Washington Post reported, “Senior Democrats in Congress, and many Republicans, have questioned the major troop deployments, called the costs unsustainable and urged a rapid withdrawal. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) has suggested that Obama withdraw 15,000 troops by the end of the year.”

Support for the war is ebbing fast on Capitol Hill, even among Republicans. As the Post remarked, “In a debate last week, seven Republicans contesting the party’s 2012 presidential primaries were divided about how to proceed, with most calling for the troops to come home.” (Italics added.)

However, 200,000 take away 10,000 or 15,000 is not exactly what the American public is hoping for—particularly those who have loved ones stationed in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama will get to meet some of those who have served there on Thursday when he visits the Tenth Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. Many of these troops have done two or more tours in the Middle East and maybe the President should do less talking and more listening. These are men and women who have seen the ghastly face of war.

Obama—a president whose background check reveals he was a CIA employee and who follows the CIA’s hawkish line in foreign policy—is not apt to listen to Senator Levin, the nation’s mayors or the American people. The polls have long shown the American public is disgusted with the wars in the Middle East and is beginning to make the connection between the slowdown in the economy, and the terrible nation-wide cuts in public services on one hand with Pentagon spending on the other, spending that tops $1-trillion a year, sucking up 52 cents out of every tax dollar and leaving the civilian sector to fight over the scraps.

Outside of the White House, is it possible to find an American anywhere who believes that the presence of U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan is essential to our national security—-particularly when we have some 800 bases around the world ready to deploy troops at the drop of a bomb?#

Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based publicist for good causes who also directs the Anti-War News Service. To comment or contribute contact Ross at[email protected].

 

Financial crashes were well understood for a hundred years after they became a normal financial phenomenon in the mid-19th century. Much like the buildup of plaque deposits in human veins and arteries, an accumulation of debt gained momentum exponentially until the economy crashed, wiping out bad debts – along with savings on the other side of the balance sheet. Physical property remained intact, although much was transferred from debtors to creditors. But clearing away the debt overhead from the economy’s circulatory system freed it to resume its upswing. That was the positive role of crashes: They minimized the cost of debt service, bringing prices and income back in line with actual “real” costs of production. Debt claims were replaced by equity ownership. Housing prices were lower – and more affordable, being brought back in line with their actual rental value. Goods and services no longer had to incorporate the debt charges that the financial upswing had built into the system.

Financial crashes came suddenly. They often were triggered by a crop failure causing farmers to default, or “the autumnal drain” drew down bank liquidity when funds were needed to move the crops. Crashes often also revealed large financial fraud and “excesses.”

This was not really a “cycle.” It was a scallop-shaped a ratchet pattern: an ascending curve, ending in a vertical plunge. But popular terminology called it a cycle because the pattern was similar again and again, every eleven years or so. When loans by banks and debt claims by other creditors could not be paid, they were wiped out in a convulsion of bankruptcy.

Gradually, as the financial system became more “elastic,” each business recovery started from a larger debt overhead relative to output. The United States emerged from World War II relatively debt free. Downturns occurred, crashes wiped out debts and savings, but each recovery since 1945 has taken place with a higher debt overhead. Bank loans and bonds have replaced stocks, as more stocks have been retired in leveraged buyouts (LBOs) and buyback plans (to keep stock prices high and thus give more munificent rewards to managers via the stock options they give themselves) than are being issued to raise new equity capital.

But after the stock market’s dot.com crash of 2000 and the Federal Reserve flooding the U.S. economy with credit after 9/11, 2001, there was so much “free spending money” that many economists believed that the era of scientific money management had arrived and the financial cycle had ended. Growth could occur smoothly – with no over-optimism as to debt, no inability to pay, no proliferation of over-valuation or fraud. This was the era in which Alan Greenspan was applauded as Maestro for ostensibly creating a risk-free environment by removing government regulators from the financial oversight agencies.

What has made the post-2008 crash most remarkable is not merely the delusion that the way to get rich is by debt leverage (unless you are a banker, that is). Most unique is the crash’s aftermath. This time around the bad debts have not been wiped off the books. There have indeed been the usual bankruptcies – but the bad lenders and speculators are being saved from loss by the government intervening to issue Treasury bonds to pay them off out of future tax revenues or new money creation. The Obama Administration’s Wall Street managers have kept the debt overhead in place – toxic mortgage debt, junk bonds, and most seriously, the novel web of collateralized debt obligations (CDO), credit default swaps (almost monopolized by A.I.G.) and kindred financial derivatives of a basically mathematical character that have developed in the 1990s and early 2000s.

These computerized casino cross-bets among the world’s leading financial institutions are the largest problem. Instead of this network of reciprocal claims being let go, they have been taken onto the government’s own balance sheet. This has occurred not only in the United States but even more disastrously in Ireland, shifting the obligation to pay – on what were basically gambles rather than loans – from the financial institutions that had lost on these bets (or simply held fraudulently inflated loans) onto the government (“taxpayers”). The government took over the mortgage lending guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (privatizing the profits, “socializing” the losses) for $5.3 trillion – almost as much as the entire national debt. The Treasury lent $700 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Plan (TARP) to Wall Street’s largest banks and brokerage houses. The latter re-incorporated themselves as “banks” to get Federal Reserve handouts and access to the Fed’s $2 trillion in “cash for trash” swaps crediting Wall Street with Fed deposits for otherwise “illiquid” loans and securities (the euphemism for toxic, fraudulent or otherwise insolvent and unmarketable debt instruments) – at “cost” based on full mark-to-model fictitious valuations.

Altogether, the post-2008 crash saw some $13 trillion in such obligations transferred onto the government’s balance sheet from high finance, euphemized as “the private sector” as if it were the core economy itself, rather than its calcifying shell. Instead of losing on their bad bets, bad loans, toxic mortgages and outright fraudulent claims, the financial institutions cleaned up, at public expense. They collected enough to create a new century’s power elite to lord it over “taxpayers” in industry, agriculture and commerce who will be charged to pay off this debt.

If there was a silver lining to all this, it has been to demonstrate that if the Treasury and Federal Reserve can create $13 trillion of public obligations – money – electronically on computer keyboards, there really is no Social Security problem at all, no Medicare shortfall, no inability of the American government to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. The bailout of Wall Street showed how central banks can create money, as Modern Money Theory (MMT) explains. But rather than explaining how this phenomenon worked, the bailout was rammed through Congress under emergency conditions. Bankers threatened economic Armageddon if the government did not create the credit to save them from taking losses.

Even more remarkable is the attempt to convince the population that new money and debt creation to bail out Wall Street – and vest a new century of financial billionaires at public subsidy – cannot be mobilized just as readily to save labor and industry in the “real” economy. The Republicans and Obama administration appointees held over from the Bush and Clinton administration have joined to conjure up scare stories that Social Security and Medicare debts cannot be paid, although the government can quickly and with little debate take responsibility for paying trillions of dollars of bipartisan Finance-Care for the rich and their heirs.

The result is a financial schizophrenia extending across the political spectrum from the Tea Party to Tim Geithner at the Treasury and Ben Bernanke at the Fed. It seems bizarre that the most reasonable understanding of why the 2008 bank crisis did not require a vast public subsidy for Wall Street occurred at Monday’s Republican presidential debate on June 13, by none other than Congressional Tea Party leader Michele Bachmann – who had boasted in a Wall Street Journal interview two days earlier, on Saturday, that she

voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) “both times.” … She complains that no one bothered to ask about the constitutionality of these extraordinary interventions into the financial markets. “During a recent hearing I asked Secretary [Timothy] Geithner three times where the constitution authorized the Treasury’s actions [just [giving] the Treasury a $700 billion blank check], and his response was, ‘Well, Congress passed the law.’ …With TARP, the government blew through the Constitutional stop sign and decided ‘Whatever it takes, that’s what we’re going to do.’”

Clarifying her position regarding her willingness to see the banks fail, she explained:

I would have. People think when you have a, quote, ‘bank failure,’ that that is the end of the bank. And it isn’t necessarily. A normal way that the American free market system has worked is that we have a process of unwinding. It’s called bankruptcy. It doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the industry is eclipsed or that it’s gone. Often times, the phoenix rises out of the ashes.1

There were easily enough sound loans and assets in the banks to cover deposits insured by the FDIC – but not enough to pay their counterparties in the “casino capitalist” category of their transactions. This super-computerized financial horseracing is what the bailout was about, not bread-and-butter retail and business banking or insurance.

It all seems reminiscent of the 1968 presidential campaign. The economic discussion back then between Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Republican Richard Nixon was so tepid that it prompted journalist Eric Hoffer to ask why only a southern cracker, third-party candidate Alabama Governor George Wallace, was talking about the real issues. We seem to be in a similar state in preparation for the 2012 campaign, with junk economics on both sides.

Meanwhile, the economy is still suffering from the Obama administration’s failure to alleviate the debt overhead by seriously making banks write down junk mortgages to reflect actual market values and the capacity to pay. Foreclosures are still throwing homes onto the market, pushing real estate further into negative equity territory while wealth concentrates at the top of the economic pyramid. No wonder Republicans are able to shed crocodile tears for debtors and attack President Obama for representing Wall Street (as if this is not equally true of the Republicans). He is simply continuing the Bush Administration’s policies, not leading the change he had promised. So he has left the path open for Congresswoman Bachmann to highlight her opposition to the Bush-McCain-Obama-Paulson-Geithner giveaways.

The missed opportunity

When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, the presidential campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain was peaking toward Election Day on November 4. Voters told pollsters that the economy was their main issue – their debts, soaring housing costs (“wealth creation” to real estate speculators and the banks getting rich off mortgage lending), stagnant wage levels and worsening workplace conditions. And in the wake of Lehman the main issue under popular debate was how much Wall Street’s crash would hurt the “real” economy. If large banks went under, would depositors still be safely insured? What about the course of normal business and employment?

Credit is seen as necessary; but what of credit derivatives, the financial sector’s arcane “small print”? How intrinsic are financial gambles on collateralized debt obligations (CDOs, “weapons of mass financial destruction” in Warren Buffett’s terminology) – not retail banking or even business banking and insurance, but financial bets on the economy’s zigzagging measures. Without casino capitalism, could industrial capitalism survive? Or had the superstructure become rotten and best left to “free markets” to wipe out in mutually offsetting bankruptcy claims?

Mr. Obama ran as the “candidate of change” from the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan, its deregulatory excesses and giveaways to the pharmaceuticals industry and other monopolies and their Wall Street backers. Today it is clear that his promises for change were no more than campaign rhetoric, not intended to limit a continuation of the policies that most voters hoped to see changed. There even has been continuity of Bush Administration officials committed to promoting financial policies to keep the debts in place, enable banks to “earn their way out of debt” at the expense of consumers and businesses – and some $13 trillion in government bailouts and subsidy.

History is being written to depict the policy of saving the bankers rather than the economy as having been necessary – as if there were no alternative, that the vast giveaways to Wall Street were simply “pragmatic.” Financial beneficiaries claim that matters would be even worse today without these giveaways. It is as if we not only need the banks, we need to save them (and their stockholders) from losses, enabling them to pay and retain their immensely rich talent at the top with even bigger salaries, bonuses and stock options.

It is all junk economics – well-subsidized illogic, quite popular among fundraisers.

From the outset in 2009, the Obama Plan has been to re-inflate the Bubble Economy by providing yet more credit (that is, debt) to bid housing and commercial real estate prices back up to pre-crash levels, not to bring debts down to the economy’s ability to pay. The result is debt deflation for the economy at large and rising unemployment – but enrichment of the wealthiest 1% of the population as economies have become even more financialized.

This smooth continuum from the Bush to the Obama Administration masks the fact that there was a choice, and even a clear disagreement at the time within Congress, if not between the two presidential candidates, who seemed to speak as Siamese Twins as far as their policies to save Wall Street (from losses, not from actually dying) were concerned. Wall Street saw an opportunity to be grabbed, and its spokesmen panicked policy-makers into imagining that there was no alternative. And as President Obama’s chief of staff Emanuel Rahm noted, this crisis is too important an opportunity to let it go to waste. For Washington’s Wall Street constituency, the bold aim was to get the government to save them from having to take a loss on loans gone bad – loans that had made them rich already by collecting fees and interest, and by placing bets as to which way real estate prices, interest rates and exchange rates would move.

After September 2008 they were to get rich on a bailout – euphemized as “saving the economy,” if one believes that Wall Street is the economy’s core, not its wrapping or supposed facilitator, not to say a vampire squid. The largest and most urgent problem was not the inability of poor homebuyers to cope with the interest-rate jumps called for in the small print of their adjustable rate mortgages. The immediate defaulters were at the top of the economic pyramid. Citibank, AIG and other “too big to fail” institutions were unable to pay the winners on the speculative gambles and guarantees they had been writing – as if the economy had become risk-free, not overburdened with debt beyond its ability to pay.

Making the government to absorb their losses – instead of recovering the enormous salaries and bonuses their managers had paid themselves for selling these bad bets – required a cover story to make it appear that the economy could not be saved without the Treasury and Federal Reserve underwriting these losing gambles. Like the sheriff in the movie Blazing Saddles threatening to shoot himself if he weren’t freed, the financial sector warned that its losses would destroy the retail banking and insurance systems, not just the upper reaches of computerized derivatives gambling.

How America’s Bailouts Endowed a Financial Elite to rule the 21st Century

The bailout of casino capitalists vested a new ruling class with $13 trillion of public IOUs (including the $5.3 trillion rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) added to the national debt. The recipients have paid out much of this gift in salaries and bonuses, and to “make themselves whole” on their bad risks in default to pay off. An alternative would have been to prosecute them and recover what they had paid themselves as commissions for loading the economy with debt.

Although there were two sides within Congress in September 2008, there was no disagreement between the two presidential candidates. John McCain ran back to Washington on the fateful Friday of their September 26debate to insist that he was suspending his campaign in order to devote all his efforts to persuading Congress to approve the $700 billion bank bailout – and would not debate Mr. Obama until that was settled. But he capitulated and went to the debate. On September 29 the House of Representatives rejected the giveaway, headed by Republicans in opposition.

So Mr. McCain did not even get brownie points for being able to sway politicians on the side of his Wall Street campaign contributors. Until this time he had campaigned as a “maverick.” But his capitulation to high finance reminded voters of his notorious role in the Keating Five, standing up for bank crooks. His standing in the polls plummeted, and the Senate capitulated to a redrafted TARP bill on October 1. President Bush signed it into law two days later, on October 3, euphemized as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

Fast-forward to today. What does it signify when a right-wing cracker makes a more realistic diagnosis of bad bank lending better than Treasury Secretary Geithner, Fed Chairman Bernanke or other Bush-era financial experts retained by the Obama team? Without the bailout the gambling arm of Wall Street would have collapsed, but the “real” economy’s everyday banking and insurance operations could have continued. The bottom 99 percent of the U.S. economy would have recovered with only a speed bump to clean out the congestion at the top, and the government would have ended up in control of the biggest and most reckless banks and AIG – as it did in any case.

The government could have used its equity ownership and control of the banks to write down mortgages to reflect market conditions. It could have left families owning their homes at the same cost they would have had to pay in rent – the economic definition of equilibrium in property prices. The government-owned “too big to fail” banks could have told to refrain from gambling on derivatives, from lending for currency and commodity speculation, and from making takeover loans and other predatory financial practices. Public ownership would have run the banks like savings banks or post office banks rather than gambling schemes fueling the international carry trade (computer-driven interest rate and currency arbitrage) that has no linkage to the production-and-consumption economy.

The government could have used its equity ownership and control of the banks to provide credit and credit card services as the “public option.” Credit is a form of infrastructure, and such public investment is what enabled the United States to undersell foreign economies in the 19th and 20th centuries despite its high wage levels and social spending programs. As Simon Patten, the first economics professor at the nation’s first business school (the Wharton School) explained, public infrastructure investment is a “fourth factor of production.” It takes its return not in the form of profits, but in the degree to which it lowers the economy’s cost of doing business and living. Public investment does not need to generate profits or pay high salaries, bonuses and stock options, or operate via offshore banking centers.

But this is not the agenda that the Bush-Obama administrations a chose. Only Wall Street had a plan in place to unwrap when the crisis opportunity erupted. The plan was predatory, not productive, not lowering the economy’s debt overhead or cost of living and doing business to make it more competitive. So the great opportunity to serve the public interest by taking over banks gone broke was missed. Stockholders were bailed out, counterparties were saved from loss, and managers today are paying themselves bonuses as usual. The “crisis” was turned into an opportunity to panic politicians into helping their Wall Street patrons.

One can only wonder what it means when the only common sense being heard about the separation of bank functions should come from a far-out extremist in the current debate. The social democratic tradition had been erased from the curriculum as it had in political memory.

Tom Fahey: Would you say the bailout program was a success? …

BACHMANN: John, I was in the middle of this debate. I was behind closed doors with Secretary Paulson when he came and made the extraordinary, never-before-made request to Congress: Give us a $700 billion blank check with no strings attached.

And I fought behind closed doors against my own party on TARP. It was a wrong vote then. It’s continued to be a wrong vote since then. Sometimes that’s what you have to do. You have to take principle over your party.2

Proclaiming herself a libertarian, Ms. Bachmann opposes raising the federal debt ceiling, Pres. Obama’s Medicare reform and other federal initiatives. So her opposition to the Wall Street bailout turns out to lack an understanding of how governments and their central banks can create money with a stroke of the computer pen, so to speak. But at least she was clear that wiping out bank counterparty gambles made by high rollers at the financial race track could have been wiped out (or left to settle among themselves in Wall Street’s version of mafia-style kneecapping) without destroying the banking system’s key economic functions.

The moral

Contrasting Ms. Bachmann’s remarks to the panicky claims by Mr. Geithner and Hank Paulson in September 2008 confirm a basic axiom of today’s junk economics: When an economic error becomes so widespread that it is adopted as official government policy, there is always a special interest at work to promote it.

In the case of bailing out Wall Street – and thereby the wealthiest 1% of Americans – while saying there is no money for Social Security, Medicare or long-term public social spending and infrastructure investment, the beneficiaries are obvious. So are the losers. High finance means low wages, low employment, low industry and a shrinking economy under conditions where policy planning is centralized in hands of Wall Street and its political nominees rather than in more objective administrators.

Notes

1. Stephen Moore, “On the Beach, I Bring von Mises”: Interview with Michele Bachman, Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2011.

2. CNN Republican Presidential Debate, Transcript, June 13, 2011, http://www.malagent.com/archives/1738

VIDEO: Libyan University in Tripoli Bombed by NATO

June 20th, 2011 by Global Research

VIDEO: NATO Preparing Ground War in Libya

June 20th, 2011 by James Corbett

9/11 and the Orwellian Redefinition of “Conspiracy Theory”

June 20th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.

A “conspiracy theory” no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy.  Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government’s explanation and that of its media pimps.  

For example, online news broadcasts of RT have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents, and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, the voluminous research, government documents, and verified testimony was dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”  

In other words, the truth of the event was unacceptable to the authorities and to the Ministry of Propaganda that represents the interests of authorities.

The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media’s (including many Internet sites’) response to the large number of professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001, inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics, chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage, the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States, NORAD’s capabilities, air traffic control, airport security, and other matters.  These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down by know-nothings in the media  who brand the experts as “conspiracy theorists.”  

This despite the fact that the official explanation endorsed by the official media is the most extravagant conspiracy theory in human history.  

Let’s take a minute to re-acquaint ourselves with the official explanation, which is not regarded as a conspiracy theory despite the fact that it comprises an amazing conspiracy.  The official truth is that a handful of young Muslim Arabs who could not fly airplanes, mainly Saudi Arabians who came neither from Iraq nor from Afghanistan, outwitted not only the CIA and the FBI, but also all 16  US intelligence agencies and all intelligence agencies of US allies including Israel’s Mossad, which is believed to have penetrated every terrorist organization and which carries out assassinations of those whom Mossad marks as terrorists.

In addition to outwitting every intelligence agency of the United States and its allies, the handful of young Saudi Arabians outwitted the National Security Council, the State Department, NORAD, airport security four times in the same hour on the same morning,  air traffic control, caused the US Air Force to be unable to launch interceptor aircraft,  and caused three well-built steel-structured buildings, including one not hit by an airplane, to fail suddenly in a few seconds as a result of limited structural damage and small, short-lived, low-temperature fires that burned on a few floors. 

The Saudi terrorists were even able to confound the laws of physics and cause WTC building seven to collapse at free fall speed for several seconds, a physical impossibility in the absence of explosives used in controlled demolition.

The story that the government and the media have told us amounts to a gigantic conspiracy, really a script for a James Bond film. Yet, anyone who doubts this improbable conspiracy theory is defined into irrelevance by the obedient media.

Anyone who believes an architect, structural engineer, or demolition expert who says that the videos show that the buildings are blowing up, not falling down, anyone who believes a Ph.D. physicist who says that the official explanation is inconsistent with known laws of physics, anyone who believes expert pilots who testify that non-pilots or poorly-qualified pilots cannot fly airplanes in such maneuvers, anyone who believes the 100 or more first responders who testify that they not only heard explosions in the towers but personally experienced explosions, anyone who believes University of Copenhagen nano-chemist Niels Harrit who reports finding unreacted nano-thermite in dust samples from the WTC towers, anyone who is convinced by experts instead of by propaganda is dismissed as a kook.  

In America today, and increasingly throughout the Western world, actual facts and true explanations have been relegated to the realm of kookiness.  Only people who believe lies are socially approved and accepted as patriotic citizens.

Indeed, a writer or newscaster is not even permitted to report the findings of 9/11 skeptics.  In other words, simply to report Professor Harrit’s findings now means that you endorse them or agree with them.  Everyone in the US print and TV media knows that he/she will be instantly fired if they report Harrit’s findings, even with a laugh. Thus, although Harrit has reported his findings on European television and has lectured widely on his findings in Canadian universities, the fact that he and the international scientific research team that he led found unreacted nano-thermite in the WTC dust and have offered samples to other scientists to examine has to my knowledge never been reported in the American media.

Even Internet sites on which I am among the readers’ favorites will not allow me to report on Harrit’s findings.

As I reported earlier, I myself had experience with a Huffington Post reporter who was keen to interview a Reagan presidential appointee who was in disagreement with the Republican wars in the Middle East.  After he published the interview that I provided at his request, he was terrified to learn that I had reported findings of 9/11 investigators.  To protect his career, he quickly inserted on the online interview that my views on the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions could be dismissed as I had reported unacceptable findings about 9/11.

The unwillingness or inability to entertain any view of 9/11 different from the official view dooms to impotence many Internet sites that are opposed to the wars and to the rise of the domestic US police state.  These sites, for whatever the reasons, accept the government’s explanation of 9/11; yet, they try to oppose the  “war on terror” and the police state which are the consequences of accepting the government’s explanation. Trying to oppose the consequences of an event whose explanation you accept is an impossible task.

If you believe that America was attacked by Muslim terrorists and is susceptible to future attacks, then a “war on terror” and a domestic police state to root out terrorists become necessary to make Americans safe. The idea that a domestic police state and open-ended war might be more dangerous threats to Americans than terrorists is an impermissible thought.  

A country whose population has been trained to accept the government’s word and to shun those who question it is a country without liberty in its future.

By way of comparison, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occured in 1986 in the Ukraine, Russia- heretofore the worst nuclear disaster on record- burned for 10 days and cumulatively killed an estimated 1 million people worldwide. The Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster has 5 nuclear reactors burning, 2 in partial meltdown and 3 in full meltdown- and they’ve ALL been uncontrollably burning since March 11th. Its been over 3 months and this nuclear disaster remains completely out of control. In fact, some industry estimates cite the possibility that these meltdowns will be contained (optimistically) in 1-3 years, at the very earliest.

The amount and intensity of the radioactive fallout from this particular nuclear disaster will assuredly kill hundreds of millions of people worldwide over time. Japan itself is, of course, the epicenter of this radioactive contamination that has spread out from these reactors.

However, the Korean peninsula, China and nations immediately surrounding the Japanese archipelago will also bear the brunt of a significant amount of radioactive fallout from this disaster. Immediately downwind of this radioactive release, though, is the United States of America and the entire northern hemisphere, comprising the majority of the world’s industrialized nations on Earth. Significant amounts of plutonium, strontium, cesium, uranium and a whole plethora of other highly radioactive particles have already fallen on the continental land mass of the USA and have already entered the food chains and water tables of the nation.

To give one an example of how lethal radiation is, one pound of plutonium evenly distributed into everyone’s lungs would kill every man, woman and child on Earth. There are literally “tons” of radioactive plutonium (among other radioactive elements) that have been released into the air and ocean environments since March 11th. Another critical fact to remember is that radioactive plutonium, for example, remains lethal (killing life) for thousands years as it has a half-life of 24,000 years. Some other radioactive elements such as uranium have a half-life of 4.47 billion years.

In a nutshell, Fukushima represents a literal catastrophe for the human species, plain and simple, there’s no other way to put it. As a past anti-nuclear activist (I participated in a dozen or so civil resistance actions at nuclear facilities all across the nation years ago) my credentials span from being a personal friend of Dr Robert Oppenheimer’s son- himself an anti-nuclear activist- to having met and talked with the late Dr Edward Teller (father of the hydrogen bomb), to collaborating with a former Trident II missile designer helping to warn humanity about the dangers of nuclear war. In this journey, I learned ALOT about radiation and its harmful effects on human health.

Radiation kills, and thanks to the recent Fukushima disaster in Japan, the REAL story is that a literal nuclear holocaust is unfolding right before us in America and throughout the world. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the federal environmental safety agency arm of the US government has shut down nearly all of its radiation detection monitors in the USA for fear that the American people will learn the TRUTH that a lethal dose of radioactive fallout has now descended upon the nation.

There’s really no way to protect yourself and your family from this new threat, although a few precautions should be noted. First, it has been known for years that miso soup has a way of “chelating” radiation out of the human body. The only one’s who survived after the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan (of all places!) years ago, are those who ingested miso soup. Second, radioactivity bioaccumulates its toxicity higher up the food chain, so its probably prudent to stay away from milk, dairy products and meat. And thirdly, efforts to bolster the body’s immune system with vitamens, purified water and plenty of exercise is sure to help as well. Other than that, pray that you’re not the now 1 in 2 people who will contract cancer in their lifetimes…

For Fukushima updates and information:

1. http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com

2. http://nuclearfreeplanet.org

Not that the White House will listen, but the U.S. Conference of Mayors tomorrow (Monday, June 20th) may actually conclude its proceedings in Baltimore with an historic vote affirming a resolution to spend at home the $125-billion now being lavished annually on the Middle East wars. “That we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City, absolutely boggles the mind,” the AP quotes Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles as saying.

The Conference, which speaks for 1,200 mayors, expresses the pain felt by city officials as urgent domestic needs have been long scuttled so that America’s imperial presidents can wage wars in the Middle East to control the region’s oil. President Obama is no exception as he vastly expanded the war in Pakistan and began fighting two other wars in Yemen and Libya illegally without Congressional authorization.

By the way, if the Iraq war was not about the threat of Saddam Hussein’s WMD, what was it about? The answer may be found in a New York Times report of July 3, 2008, which described the deal between Hunt Oil of Dallas and Kurdistan’s regional government in September, 2007, over the infuriated protests of Iraq central government officials in Baghdad.

Hunt’s chief executive officer, The Times noted, is Ray Hunt, a close political ally of Bush, and who “briefed an advisory board to Bush on his contacts with Kurdish officials before the deal was signed.” Another big winner, of course, was Bush Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, which landed lucrative no-bid contracts in Iraq over the objections of Army Corps of Engineers officials and others. Etc., etc., etc. In short, the nation was mobilized to waste three trillion dollars for war and pay the terrible price of 5,000 U.S. dead and 30,000 wounded to enrich defense and oil sector corporations. No matter that some 1 million Iraqis were killed, probably at least as many wounded, and two million made refugees and the country left in ruins.

Can it be just coincidental that the first oil contract signed in conquered Iraq enriched Bush’s close friend? Or that Halliburton, formerly headed by Bush’s Vice President, reaped no-bid contracts worth billions?

Better late than never, but where was the protest of the U.S. Conference of Mayors ten years ago when the predatory hawks turned their threats into hot wars and began destroying Baghdad and Basra? Only now, after their own cities have been driven to the brink of ruin (and some, like Camden, N.J., over it) do they politely lash out at Federal spending for war. If Washington had not cut back on aid to the cities would they be taking this vote? Where were they when the Secretary-General of the United Nations called the Iraq invasion illegal? Do they object now because the loss of Federal funds diverted to war played a big role in forcing local governments to lay off 446,000 jobs since Sept., 2008?

On June 18th, The New York Times reporter Michael Cooper ticked off a litany of municipal woes that included:

#Providence, R.I., and Hollywood, Fla., just issued layoff notices to police officers.

# Lansing, Mich., and New York City are threatening to close fire stations.

# Philadelphia teachers are getting pink slips and schools in Montgomery, Ala., are being closed.

# Providence, R.I., may have to lay off 78 of its 468 police officers at the end of this month.

# Atlanta is considering reducing the pensions of current employees.

As Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis told The Times, cities are being forced to make “deeply painful cuts to the most core services while the defense budget continued to escape scrutiny.”

To sum up, there are two Americas here: there’s the powerful military-industrial-CIA complex that dictates policy and is designed to enrich the Pentagon and the misnamed “Defense” (i.e., Aggression) sector contractors. Their profits have never been higher. Same for the run-up in profits by ExxonMobil and Shell, etc., to stunning, all-time highs. (Indeed, the trillion a year it takes to operate the Pentagon is costlier than what all 50 states combined spend to meet the real needs of the public.)

Then there’s the America made up of the miserable majority who yearn for peace (as shown by every poll) and a chance to educate their children and to earn a good day’s pay for an honest day’s work—and, by the way, not to have their youth sacrificed on the altar of “defense.” As James Carroll wrote in “House of War”(Houghton Mifflin)about the former U.S.-Soviet confrontation: “The American national security elite had no real interest in bringing either the Cold War or its engine, the arms race, to an end. But that was not true of the people as a whole, and it was the people who forced the change…”

That’s still true today—and that means it’s up to each and every one of us to speak out louder than ever against President Obama’s imperial policies. We wait to hear how the mayors will vote tomorrow. It could be an historic occasion. #

Sherwood Ross is a publicist for good causes and director of the Anti-War News Service. Reach him at [email protected].

La destabilizzazione della Siria e la guerra del grande Medio Oriente

June 20th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Ciò che si sta svolgendo in Siria è una insurrezione armata, sostenuta segretamente da potenze straniere tra cui Stati Uniti, Turchia e Israele.  

Insorti armati, appartenenti ad organizzazioni islamiste hanno attraversato il confine con la Turchia, Libano e Giordania. Il Dipartimento di Stato statunitense ha confermato che sostiene l’insurrezione. Gli Stati Uniti ampliano i contatti con i siriani che contano sul cambiamento di regime nel paese. Lo ha detto la funzionaria del Dipartimento di Stato USA Victoria Nuland. “Abbiamo iniziato a espandere i contatti con i siriani che chiedono il cambiamento, sia all’interno che all’esterno del paese“, ha detto.

Nuland ha anche ripetuto che Barack Obama aveva già invitato il presidente siriano Bashar Assad ad avviare le riforme o a dimettersi dal potere.” (Voce della Russia, 17 giugno 2011)

La destabilizzazione della Siria e del Libano, come paesi sovrani, è sul tavolo dell’alleanza militare USA-NATO-Israele da almeno dieci anni. L’azione contro la Siria è parte di una “roadmap militare“, una sequenza di operazioni militari. Secondo l’ex comandante generale della NATO, Wesley Clark, il Pentagono aveva chiaramente individuato Iraq, Libia, Siria e Libano come paesi bersaglio di un intervento USA-NATO:

[La] campagna quinquennale [include] … un totale di sette paesi, a iniziare dall’Iraq, quindi Siria, Libano, Libia, Iran, Somalia e Sudan” (Un funzionario del Pentagono citato dal generale Wesley Clark)

In “Winning Modern Wars” (pagina 130) il generale Wesley Clark afferma quanto segue:

Tornando indietro, al Pentagono nel novembre 2001, uno degli alti ufficiali militari ebbe il tempo per una chiacchierata. Sì, eravamo ancora in pista per andare contro l’Iraq, mi disse. Ma c’era di più. Questo era oggetto di discussione nell’ambito di un piano quinquennale, ha detto, in cui c’era un totale di sette paesi, a cominciare dall’Iraq, poi Siria, Libano, Libia, Iran, Somalia e Sudan. … Lo disse con rimprovero – con incredulità, quasi – sull’ampiezza della visione. Ho spostato la conversazione, questo non era qualcosa che volevo sentire. E non neanche era qualcosa che volevo vedere andare avanti. … Ho lasciato il Pentagono quel pomeriggio, profondamente preoccupato“.

L’obiettivo è quello di destabilizzare lo Stato siriano e implementare il “cambio di regime” attraverso il sostegno occulto all’insurrezione armata delle milizie islamiche. I rapporti sui morti civili sono utilizzati per fornire un pretesto e una giustificazione per l’intervento umanitario, in base al principio della “responsabilità nel proteggere“.

Disinformazione Mediatica

Tacitamente riconosciuto, l’importanza di una insurrezione armata è casualmente lasciata cadere dai media occidentali. Se dovesse essere riconosciuta e analizzata, la nostra comprensione degli avvenimenti in corso sarebbe completamente diversa. Quanto è abbondantemente esposto, è che le forze armate e la polizia sono coinvolte nell’uccisione indiscriminata di manifestanti inermi. Notizie della stampa confermano, tuttavia, fin dall’inizio del movimento di protesta, un conflitto a fuoco tra ribelli armati e la polizia, con perdite da entrambe le parti.

L’insurrezione è iniziata a metà marzo nella città di confine di Daraa, che si trova a 10 km dal confine giordano. Il “movimento di protesta” di Daraa, il 18 marzo, aveva tutte le apparenze di un evento organizzato che coinvolge, con ogni probabilità, il sostegno segreto ai terroristi islamici dal Mossad e/o delle intelligence occidentali. Fonti governative indicano il ruolo dei gruppi salafiti radicali (sostenuti da Israele). Altre relazioni hanno sottolineato il ruolo dell’Arabia Saudita nel finanziamento del movimento di protesta. Quello che è si è svolto a Daraa, nelle settimane successive agli scontri violenti iniziati il 17-18 marzo, è il confronto tra la polizia e le forze armate da un lato, e unità armate di terroristi e cecchini dall’altra, che hanno infiltrato il movimento di protesta.

….

Ciò che è chiaro da questi rapporti iniziali, è che molti dei manifestanti non erano manifestanti, ma terroristi coinvolti in atti premeditato di assassinio e di incendi dolosi. Il titolo della notizia israeliana riassume quello che è successo: Siria: sette poliziotti uccisi, Edifici incendiati nelle Proteste.

(Si veda Michel Chossudovsky, SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention“, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24591 Global Research, 3 maggio 2011)

Il ruolo della Turchia

Il centro dell’insurrezione si è spostato nella piccola città di confine di Jisr al-Shughour, a 10 km dal confine turco. Jisr al-Shughour ha una popolazione di 44.000 abitanti. Insorti armati hanno attraversato il confine con la Turchia. I membri dei Fratelli Musulmani sono stati segnalati avere preso le armi, nel nord-ovest della Siria. Ci sono indicazioni che militari e l’intelligence turchi supportano queste incursioni. Non c’era alcun movimento di protesta civile di massa a Jisr al-Shughour. La popolazione locale è stata presa nel fuoco incrociato. I combattimenti tra ribelli armati e forze governative ha contribuito a innescare la crisi dei profughi, che è al centro dell’attenzione dei media.

Al contrario, nella capitale della nazione Damasco, dove si trova il cardine dei movimenti sociali, ci sono state manifestazioni di massa a sostegno piuttosto che in opposizione al governo. Il presidente Bashir al-Assad viene erroneamente paragonato ai presidenti Ben Ali di Tunisia, e Hosni Mubarak d’Egitto. Quello che i media mainstream non sono riusciti a menzionare è che, nonostante la natura autoritaria del regime, il presidente al-Assad è una figura popolare che ha l’ampio sostegno della popolazione siriana.

La grande manifestazione a Damasco del 29 marzo, “con decine di migliaia di sostenitori” (Reuters) del presidente al-Assad, è stata appena menzionata. Eppure, in modo insolito, le immagini e le riprese video di alcune manifestazioni filo-governative sono stati utilizzati dai media occidentali per convincere l’opinione pubblica internazionale che il Presidente aveva contro una massiccia manifestazione antigovernativa.

Sebbene il regime siriano non sia affatto democratico, l’obiettivo dell’alleanza militare USA-NATO, in accordo con Israele, non è promuovere la democrazia. Tutto il contrario. L’intenzione di Washington è quello d’installare alla fine un regime fantoccio. L’obiettivo della disinformazione mediatica è demonizzare il presidente al-Assad, e più in generale, destabilizzare la Siria quale stato laico. Quest’ultimo obiettivo viene attuato attraverso il sostegno segreto a varie organizzazioni islamiste: La Siria è gestita da una oligarchia autoritaria che ha usato la forza bruta nei rapporti con i cittadini. I disordini in Siria, tuttavia, sono complessi. Non possono essere visti come una semplice ricerca della libertà e della democrazia. C’è stato un tentativo da parte degli Stati Uniti e dell’UE, di utilizzare i disordini in Siria per fare pressione e intimidire la leadership siriana. Arabia Saudita, Israele, Giordania, e l’Alleanza del 14 Marzo, hanno avuto un ruolo nel sostenere l’insurrezione armata.

Le violenze in Siria sono state sostenute dall’estero, con l’obiettivo di sfruttare le tensioni interne… A parte la reazione violenta dell’esercito siriano, i media hanno mentito e dei filmati fasulli sono stati mandati in onda. Denaro e armi sono stati incanalati a elementi dell’opposizione siriana dagli Stati Uniti, dall’Unione europea… finanziando inoltre dei minacciosi e impopolari esponenti dell’opposizione siriana residenti all’estero, mentre armi sono state contrabbandate dalla Giordania e dal Libano alla Siria. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, America’s Next War Theater: Syria and Lebanon? http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25000, Global Research, 10 giugno 2011)

L’accordo militar-spionistico Israele-Turchia

La geopolitica di questo processo di destabilizzazione ha una vasta portata. La Turchia è impegnata nel sostenere i ribelli. Il governo turco ha sancito i gruppi di opposizione siriana in esilio, che sostengono l’insurrezione armata. Inoltre, la Turchia fa pressione su Damasco, per conformarsi alle richieste di Washington di cambio di regime. La Turchia è un membro della NATO, con una potente forza militare. Inoltre, Israele e Turchia hanno da tempo un comune accordo militare e d’intelligence, che è esplicitamente diretto contro la Siria.

Un protocollo d’intesa del 1993 ha portato alla creazione di “comitati congiunti” (turco-israeliani) per gestire le cosiddette minacce regionali. Secondo i termini del Memorandum, la Turchia e Israele hanno accettato “di collaborare nella raccolta d’intelligence su Siria, Iran e Iraq, e di riunirsi regolarmente per la condivisione delle valutazioni riguardo al terrorismo e le capacità militari di questi paesi.”

La Turchia ha accettato di permettere alle IDF e alle forze di sicurezza israeliane lo spionaggio elettronico su Siria e Iran dalla Turchia. In cambio, Israele collaborava all’equipaggiamento e all’addestramento delle truppe turche nell’anti-terrorismo lungo i confini siriani, iracheni e iraniani.

Già durante l’amministrazione Clinton, un’intesa militare triangolare tra Stati Uniti, Israele e Turchia era stata presentata. Questa “triplice alleanza“, dominata dall’US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integra e coordina le decisioni dei comandi militari tra i tre paesi, pertinenti al più grande Medio Oriente. Si basa sugli stretti legami militari, rispettivamente di Israele e Turchia con gli Stati Uniti, accoppiati a un forte rapporto bilaterale militare tra Tel Aviv e Ankara.

….

La triplice alleanza è anche accoppiata all’accordo di cooperazione militare del 2005 tra NATO-Israele, che riguarda “molte aree di interesse comune, come la lotta contro il terrorismo e le esercitazioni militari congiunte”. Questi legami di cooperazione militare con la NATO sono visti dai militari israeliani come un mezzo per “rafforzare la capacità di deterrenza d’Israele verso potenziali nemici che lo minaccino, soprattutto l’Iran e la Siria.” (Vedi Michel Chossudovsky, “Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=2906, Global Research, 6 agosto 2006)

Il sostegno segreto agli insorti armati dalla Turchia o dalla Giordania, sarebbe senza dubbio coordinata nell’ambito dell’accordo d’intelligence e militare tra Israele e Turchia.

Crocevia pericoloso: La guerra nel grande Medio Oriente

Israele e la NATO hanno firmato un ampio accordo di cooperazione militare nel 2005. Secondo questo accordo, Israele è considerato un membro de facto della NATO. Se un’operazione militare dovesse essere lanciata contro la Siria, Israele sarebbe con ogni probabilità coinvolto nelle operazioni militari a fianco delle forze della NATO (sotto l’accordo bilaterale NATO-Israele). Anche la Turchia svolgerebbe un attivo ruolo militare.

Un intervento militare in Siria per falsi motivi umanitari, porterebbe a un escalation della guerra USA-NATO su su una vasta area, che si estende dal Nord Africa e dal Medio Oriente all’Asia centrale, dal Mediterraneo orientale al confine occidentale della Cina con l’Afghanistan e il Pakistan.

Contribuirebbe anche al processo di destabilizzazione politica in Libano, Giordania e Palestina. Sarebbero così poste le basi anche per un conflitto con l’Iran.

Michel Chossudovsky è vincitore di premi letterari, professore di economia (emerito) presso l’Università di Ottawa, direttore del Centro per la Ricerca sulla Globalizzazione (CRG) e redattore di globalresearch.ca. E’ autore de La globalizzazione della povertà e il Nuovo Ordine Mondiale (2003) e di “War on Terrorism” (2005). E’ anche partner dell’Enciclopedia Britannica. I suoi scritti sono stati pubblicati in più di venti lingue. Ha trascorso un mese in Siria, ai primi del 2011.

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio

Inglese/English: The Destabilization of Syria and the Broader Middle East War
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25312

Fukushima and the Mass Media Meltdown

June 20th, 2011 by Keith Harmon Snow

A sociological and technological discussion — in the wake of the out-of-control nuclear apocalypse in Japan — addressing the compromise of public health and security created by the failure of the western corporate mass media to equitably report on, mildly investigate, or even moderately challenge, the nuclear power industry.

Author’s note, 19 June 2011:

The following report was written after learning about the pro-nuclear and corporate bias of the Society of Environmental Journalists. It was originally published by VOICE NEWS, Winstead CT, in 2001 and was originally titled “The Potential Repercussions of a Pro-Nuclear Press.”  I have made a few minor changes, added hyperlinks, and inserted a few comments in [brackets]. 

The report was originally sent to Noel Grove, then an SEJ official and an editor in some capacity for the National Geographic, who I was communicating with at the time (and hoping to land a story assignment from). After perusing my article to some (unknown) extent, Mr. Grove — who was somewhat hysterical about it– criticized this writing as hysterical, and the thesis as impossible, and the writer as lacking all credibility.

However, the prophetic warnings advanced in this writing have now come true, although the nuclear “accident” did not occur on North American soil, but in Fukushima Japan — a surrogate client state of the United States and its national security apparatus and weapons complex — and a corporate ally in nuclear proliferation and global radioactive destruction.

It is now confirmed that there are three reactors at the Fukushima complex that melted THROUGH their outer containment vessels, through ALL the layers of so-called “defense-in-depth” and are continuing to spew lethal nuclear poisons and further contaminate the land we live on, the air we breathem, and the water that sustains all life on earth. We were always warned, and very worried, about reactor melt-DOWN, this being the absolute worst-case scenario and something that the nuclear industry and their purchsased government agencies assured us “could never happen” — always agreeing that these meltdowns would be “catastrophic” if it did. 

Reactor melt-THROUGHs are much more serious than reactor melt-downs. At Fukushima, there is the equivalent of some twenty (20) reactor cores exposed and radiating lethal nuclear poisons. The corporate mass media system continues to downplay, distort, dismiss or deflect attention from the nuclear crises in Japan. 

At Fukushima, and all over Japan — and with deadly nuclear poisons spreading all over the world — it’s much worse than you think. 

The people of the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world need to take action to stop the ongoing nuclear contamination and possible nuclear catastrophes at operating reactors all over the world. Here’s why.

*

There is overwhelming evidence that a nuclear power catastrophe in the United States is highly probable. It matters little if you are “pro-” or “anti-” nuclear, as such constructs of your socialization are irrelevant to current nuclear realities. It is a tribute to our nuclear engineers that a worst-case accident has to date been avoided. The threat is real — it has always been real — but it has been dismissed.

Given the hostile economic climate of electric power deregulation [1999-2001], I submit that a major and potentially unprecedented nuclear disaster is a near certain event. This writing aims to address media neglect in probing the nuclear industry and regulatory agency assurances, standards, activities, safeguards, denials, etc. How should journalists respond? There are a few important questions from which one can formulate an answer.

How close am I to the nearest reactor? What level of emergency preparedness and evaluation procedures is currently practiced there? Such questions prompt concern. The repercussions of an “event” are dependent on the form and magnitude of the “event,” on the human capacity to contain it, and on simple factors like weather. Evacuation plans constitute formal, institutionalized admissions that the threats are very real and demand attention.

What are the origins of my perceptions and beliefs about nuclear power? Origins are rooted in sociological and psychological factors pertinent to an individual’s education, experience and identity. A related question is: How do “market forces” manifest themselves in the media’s coverage of nuclear power? Insight is gained by recalling that from 1991 to 1993, the U.S. Department of Energy (D.O.E.) prepared and arranged 104 press conferences, prepared and distributed 950 press releases; arranged 1,650 press interviews for D.O.E. officials; and prepared and disseminated at least 307 editorials or letters to the editor [in mainstream U.S. media].

Question: Is there precedence for institutionalized deception? Answer: What is the nature of deception exercised by the tobacco industry? Are such deceptions inherent to tobacco interests alone? Such questions are valid and important. However, this writing predominantly addresses the question: How can I — and how should I — evaluate and verify the integrity (safety) or compromise (threat) inherent in nuclear power operations?

This brief writing introduces a few underlying impediments to nuclear safety. Isolated analyses of these impediments might suggest isolated integrity. However, the historical technological realities magnified over 20 plus years — coupled with industry and regulatory carelessness and arrogance, and the economic pressures of deregulation — virtually assure disaster.

BRUTE-FORCE ENGINEERING

As early as 1955, the nuclear industry was persistently seeing major, catastrophic technical failures. While noting the great urgency to “capitalize on any technological lead the U.S. may have,” Rear Admiral H.G. Rickover in 1957 testified to the dearth of knowledge, “Despite every design and operation precaution taken by us,” he said, “we have experienced leaks in some of our steam generators… we had to spend considerable time and money on a brute-force approach, because there was no hope of obtaining an understanding of the fundamentals involved in a reasonable length of time.”

A 1957 Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) study, WASH-740, created by the Brookhaven National Laboratory [now a toxic and irradiated SUPERFUND site], and titled Theoretical Possibilities and Consequences of Major Accidents in Large Nuclear Power Plants estimated “the consequences of a very large reactor accident at a hypothetically small nuclear plant near a large city” at 43,000 injuries, 3,400 deaths and seven billion dollars in 1957 losses. And, because of this, the U.S. Congress passed the Price-Anderson Act indemnifying the industry from economic liability.[The Price-Anderson Act was originally known as the 'Gore Bill', becuase it was introduced by Senator Albert Gore Sr., and this, indeed, is an inconvenient truth.] The McKinney Commission (1957) argues against “the rush to construct nuclear power plants just for us to look at, brag about and subsidize.”

By 1963 there were three nuclear submarines in the water, with 22 more under construction.  By 1967, Congress authorized 107 nuclear subs and eight nuclear surface ships, and 74 of these — including 41 Polaris nuclear missile launchers – were in operation. By 1972 there were 118 subs on order, with 95 subs and four ships in the water.Yankee Atomic Energy Corporation (YAEC) pioneered the nuclear power field with its Rowe (MA) reactor by 1960.By 1963, four larger nuclear plants were ordered, and in 1965 seven; in 1967, 20; in 1968, 14.  When plants ordered in 1963 came on line in 1969, there were 91 plants on order; and by 1972, there were 162. All of the 107 nuclear plants in operation in the U.S. today deploy technology of this era. [There are 103 reactors operating in the U.S. at present.]

Former M.I.T. nuclear physicist and long-time industry consultant K. Uno Ingard attributes the problems with nuclear power to its ‘economy-of-scale’: ”Engineers involved in designing these plants [got] their experience mainly from marine [steam] power plants where everything was relatively small,” he confirmed [in a personal interview]. ”In essence, they merely scaled plants up from what they knew before.”

Problems identified by Admiral Rickover remain unsolved or ignored. One of these is steam-generator tube (SGT) cracking, an issue critical to safe reactor operation. [SGT cracking is one of the major issues that plague Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) designs.] Reports on SGT pipe cracking appeared as early as 1960. A 1979 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) document details problems with failing SGTs that plagued at least 33 U.S. reactors. At least thirteen utilities sued Westinghouse and Combustion Engineering, alleging SGT fraud. Suits are settled out-of-court, with documents sealed against public scrutiny.

In 1995, over 500 cracked SGTs were discovered at Maine Yankee [Nuclear Power Complex], prompting the NRC to issue a mild request that reactors suffering SGT failures be inspected at the next refueling outage. Most utilities balked, explaining away the problem to complacent regulators. Plants using the potentially flawed SGTs were asked by the NRC “to tell us why they believe their plants are safe to operate.” Both 1996 and 1997 saw the release of major NRC reports on steam generator tube failures.

Technological innovation is not achieved by “brute-force” or “make it work” engineering, but all evidence reveals that the pace of nuclear development exceeded the human capacity for innovation. Modeled after the reactors of Rickover’s nuclear navy, driven by the race to beat the Russians, to meet boom-or-bust sales worldwide, by economic optimism but unverified science, and forced to compete with an entrenched fossil fuel economy, nuclear power technology was virtually stillborn.

Yankee Atomic also pioneered a hasty and irresponsible reactor “decommissioning” at the Rowe reactor. In 1995, in Citizen’s Awareness Network vs. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Yankee Atomic violated NRC regulations and Federal Statutes.

[See also: keith harmon snow, Nuclear Poisons: They continue to accumulate: Too much, too fast, too hot to handle, insidious and deadly, lasting forever, Valley Advocate, July 1995.]

Photo credits: keith harmon snow

CHAOS IN THE MAKING

Pervasive and systemic aging degradation — like metal fatigue, structural embrittlement, corrosive water chemistry, and neutron bombardment — has been institutionalized by NRC and industry complacency and arrogance. Aging mechanisms like cracked SGTs degrade performance and compromise safety in unknown and unpredictable ways.Decades-old problems defined as “generic safety issues” (applicable to similar types or classes of reactors) were officially designated unworthy of immediate action. Many “generic” issues have never been resolved.

Compounding the original problems encountered — the incorrect and incomplete or forgotten assumptions, the inevitable instabilities and failures, the aging components and crumbling materials — have been the uncountable modifications, repairs and part substitutions which have caused significant and unpredictable deviations from the operational parameters of the original design.

Parameters have been altered, designs modified, upgrades creatively and casually implemented. Multiple modifications have spawned multiple blueprints — often outdated, poorly modified, and unavailable in an emergency (e.g. Three Mile Island). There have been countless license modifications with their many justifications, but only mock attention to detail and procedure. ”Every modification due to some problem,” says Paul Gunter of the Nuclear Information Resource Services, “constitutes an erosion in the design margins of safety.”

In 1990, the U.S. GAO reported that “utilities operating at least 72 of the 113 domestic nuclear power plants have installed or are suspected of having received nonconforming products.” Computer software has proved inadequate, hardware has failed.  And too, there are the thousands of valves, plugs, pumps, motors, relays, switches, gauges, air ejectors, ducts, conduits, valve seals, grommets, electrical cables, switchboards, alarms, diesel generators, electrical buses, penetrations, inverters, resistors, turbines, condensers, transformers, nozzles, fuses, nuts, bolts and welds which have failed — fallen out, corroded, short-circuited, melted, disintegrated, fractured or stuck — under various circumstances.

Modern chaos theory says that Safety Analysis Reports (SARs) — submitted by industry and approved by the NRC — do not anticipate the consequences of all the severe reactor incident possibilities. [Fukushima's earthquake.Tsunami one-two punch makes that clear.] Such predictions are beyond the realm of human knowledge and human capacity and human imagination. Initial conditions, specifications and assumptions chosen or argued to insure safe operation no longer apply. Engineers and scientists, for the most part, operate in their own little areas of specialization. Says James Gleick, author of Chaos: Making a New Science, they are “biased by the customs of their disciplines or by the accidental paths of their own educations.”

Human factors engineering introduces significant unpredictable risk. By virtue of the hundreds of plant employees and shift changes — with their unique personal concerns; their limitations of knowledge, comprehension, memory and judgment; their emotional and psychological realities; their disillusions, resentments, animosities and distractions — the man-machine interface is a fallible link in an already compromised chain.

VIRTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION

Reactor operations are being “streamlined” at the expense of safety. Reactors are run longer and harder, with fewer inspections, at higher output power capacities. Given the greater propensity for failures to occur on start-up and shut-down phases of operation — where transients, power surges and instabilities proliferate — testing and safety analyses performed during refueling outages may prove meaningless after the subsequent start-up.

Utilities are minimizing reactor outages and maximizing operations at the expense of safety.  Reliability and quality assurance testing of back-up safety systems have been relaxed, postponed or eliminated completely. Optimizing economic factors, Houston Light & Power (TX) recently broke industry records for a refueling outage. The intensity of irradiation prohibits or restricts access and in-service testing of systems and components. The concomitant shift to on-line maintenance means that so-called “redundant” safety systems — ever touted as the backbone of “defense-in-depth” — are disabled during full-power reactor operations. Economic imperatives are dictating patchwork repairs in lieu of expensive parts replacements.

[See: keith harmon snow, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station: A Second Lease on Half-Life? Montague Reporter, December 2003.]

Corporate “downsizing” has displaced talented and qualified employees. Others are suffocated by budget and schedule constraints, driven by corporate imperatives divorced from the dynamic realities of daily operations. The profit principle translates directly to control room operators increasingly inclined to risk reactor deviation or operational uncertainty. Operators — too nervous in an emergency to exercise a “controlled breach” of reactor containment — may in the uncertainty of the moment allow the system to exceed the thresholds of control. [This is exactly what happened at Fukushima: reactor operators and the TEPCO management delayed triage actions out of the fear of economic losses; once they did react -- dumping saltwater on the molten reactor cores -- it was too little, too much uncertainty, too late] 

Employees legitimately concerned about safety, improper procedures or the cutting of nuclear corners, are not free to speak without fear of retaliation:  The NRC has persistently betrayed “whistleblower” security — and punished nuclear whistleblowers.

NATURE CANNOT BE FOOLED

Deregulation — coupled with the historical compromises of this technology – is be the coup de gras for nuclear power as manifested in the U.S. today. Utilities long shielded from normal “market forces” by monumental public subsidies are now exposed to hostile competition.  While some utilities may appear to cling in desperation to our entrenched but obsolete and unprofitable nuclear economy, evidence also suggests that executives shielded by the Price-Anderson Act consider themselves impervious to the consequences of reactor failure. 

It should also be acknowledged that radioactive remediation has become a billion dollar industry unto itself.

Journalists [and the corporate propaganda system that pays them] predominantly ignore such nuclear conundrums as safety, unprofitability, waste accumulation, unlawful decommissioning, routine radioactive releases, or the epidemics of disease clustered around nuclear sites. Those who are intimidated into ignorance and self-censorship merely by the science of it all have left themselves irresponsibly unprepared in proportion to the threat. Prudence would seem to dictate that the SEJ sponsor a conference, to debate — at the very least — the ideas of nuclear experts that have been synopsized herein. Nor is this so narrow an issue as it seems: The potential for domestic instability due to nuclear emergency has substantial foreign policy implications. [Not to mention the economic and political ramifications leading us to complete societal breakdown.]

Journalists would do well to revisit a portentous analysis offered by Nobel physicist Richard Feynman. ”It appears that there are enormous differences of opinion as to the probability of failure with a loss” of equipment or human life, he wrote. ”Estimates range from roughly one in 100 to one in 100,000. The higher figures come from working engineers and the very low figures from management. What are the causes and consequences of this lack of agreement? What is the cause of management’s fantastic faith in machinery?”

Commenting on technical problems ignored or tolerated, Feynman emphasized that “acceptance and success cannot be taken as evidence of safety. Failures are not what the design expected. They are warnings that something is wrong. The equipment is not operating as expected, and therefore there is a danger that it can operate with even wider deviations in this unexpected and not thoroughly understood way. The fact that this danger did not lead to a catastrophe before is no guarantee that it will not the next time.”

R.P. Reynman was not speaking about nuclear power, though he might have been. ”The O-rings of the Solid Rocket Boosters were not designed to erode,” wrote Feynman, in “Personal Observations on Reliability of the Shuttle,” a brief but profound statement buried in Appendix F of Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. ”Erosion was a clue that something was wrong,” Feynman concluded, not something from which safety can be inferred … For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Disregarding structural constraints and systemic defects, GE has pushed output power levels to five percent above the maximum specification ratings of the original design. 

As this previous writing is republished, the situation in Japan is unprecedented, unappreciated, unmanageable and it remains out-of-control: it is the worst industrial accident that humanity has ever faced. For the Fukushima nuclear apocalypse and the people of Japan — and with lethal nuclear poisons spreading all over the earth — the end is nowhere in sight.

Everything We’re Doing Now Was Planned BEFORE 9/11

June 20th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

We’ve been told that 9/11 changed everything.

Is it true?

Let’s look at the facts:

  • The Afghanistan war was planned before 9/11 (see this and this)
  • The Patriot Act was planned before 9/11. Indeed, former Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke told Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig:

    After 9/11 the government drew up the Patriot Act within 20 days and it was passed.

    The Patriot Act is huge and I remember someone asking a Justice Department official how did they write such a large statute so quickly, and of course the answer was that it has been sitting in the drawers of the Justice Department for the last 20 years waiting for the event where they would pull it out.

    (4:30 into this video).

  • Cheney dreamed of giving the White House the powers of a monarch long before 9/11
  • Cheney and Rumsfeld actively generated fake intelligence which exaggerated the threat from an enemy in order to justify huge amounts of military spending long before 9/11. And see this
  • The decision to threaten to bomb Iran was made before 9/11
  • It was known long before 9/11 that torture doesn’t work to produce accurate intelligence … but is an effective way to terrorize people
  • And – sadly – America played dirty games to justify and win wars before 9/11

9/11 didn’t change anything. It was simply an excuse to implement existing plans.

Why Regime Change in Libya?

June 20th, 2011 by Prof. Ismael Hossein-Zadeh

In light of the brutal death and destruction wrought on Libya by the relentless  US/NATO bombardment, the professed claims of “humanitarian concerns” as grounds for intervention can readily be dismissed as a blatantly specious imperialistploy in pursuit of “regime change” in that country.

There is undeniable evidence that contrary to the spontaneous, unarmed and peaceful protest demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, therebellion in Libya has been nurtured, armed and orchestratedlargely from abroad, in collaboration with expat opposition groups and their local allies at home. Indeed, evidence shows that plans of “regime change” in Libya were drawn long before the insurgency actually started in Benghazi; it has all the hallmarks of a well-orchestrated civil war [1].

It is very tempting to seek the answer to the question “why regime change in Libya?” in oil/energy. While oil is undoubtedly a concern, it falls short of a satisfactory explanation because major Western oil companies were already extensively involved in the Libyan oil industry. Indeed, since Gaddafi relented to the US-UK pressure in 1993 and established “normal” economic and diplomatic relations with these and other Western countries, major US and European oil companies struck quite lucrative deals with the National Oil Corporation of Libya.

So, the answer to the question “why the imperialist powers want to do away with Gaddafi” has to go beyond oil, or the laughable “humanitarian concerns.” Perhaps the question can be answered best in the light of the following questions: why do these imperialist powers also want to overthrow Hugo Cavez of Venezuela, Fidel Castro (and/or his successors) of Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Rafael Correa Delgado of Ecuador,Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Bashar Al-assad of Syriaand Evo Morales of Bolivia? Or, why did they overthrow Mohammad Mossadeq of Iran, Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, Kusno Sukarno of Indonesia, Salvador Allende of Chile, Sandinistas in Nicaragua,Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haitiand Manuel Zelaya in Honduras?

What does Gaddafi have in common with these nationalist/populist leaders? The question is of course rhetorical and the answer is obvious: like them Gaddafi is guilty of insubordination to the proverbial godfather of the world: US imperialism, and its allies. Like them, he has committed the cardinal sin of challenging the unbridled reign of global capital, of not following the economic “guidelines” of the captains of global finance, that is, of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and World Trade Organization; as well as of refusing to join US military alliances in the region. Also like other nationalist/populist leaders, he advocates social safety net (or welfare state) programs—not for giant corporations, as is the case in imperialist countries, but for the people in need.

This means that the criminal agenda of Messrs Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, and their complicit allies to overthrow or kill Mr. Gaddafi and other “insubordinate” proponents of welfare state programs abroad is essentially part of the same evil agenda of dismantling such programs at home. While the form, the context and the means of destruction maybe different, the thrust of the relentless attacks on the living standards of the Libyan, Iranian, Venezuelan or Cuban peoples are essentially the same as the equally brutal attacks on the living conditions of the poor and working people in the US, UK, France and other degenerate capitalist countries. In a subtle (but unmistakable) way they are all part of an ongoing unilateralclass warfare on a global scale—whether they are carried out by military means and bombardments, or through the apparently “non-violent” processes of judicial or legislative means does not make a substantial difference as far as the nature or the thrust of the attack on people’s lives orlivelihoods are concerned.

In their efforts to consolidate the reign of big capital worldwide, captains of global finance use a variety of methods. The preferred method is usually non-military, that is, the neoliberal strategies of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), carried out by representatives of big business disguised as elected officials, or by the multilateral institutions such as the IMF and the WTO. This is what is currently happening in the debt- and deficit-ridden economies of the United States and Europe.But if a country like Libya (or Venezuela or Iran or Cuba) does not go along with the neoliberal agenda of “structural adjustments,” of outsourcing and privatization,and of allowing their financial system to be tied to the network of global banking cartel, then the military option is embarked upon to carry out the neoliberal agenda.

The powerful interests of global capitalism do not seem to feel comfortable to dismantle New Deal economics, Social Democratic reforms and welfare state programs in the core capitalist countries while people in smaller, less-developed countries such as Libya, Venezuela or Cuba enjoy strong, state-sponsored social safety net programs such as free or heavily-subsidized education and health care benefits.Indeed, guardians ofthe worldwide market mechanism have always been intolerant of any “undue” government intervention in the economic affairs of any country in the world. “Regimented economies,” declared President Harry Truman in a speech at Baylor University (1947), were the enemy of free enterprise, and “unless we act, and act decisively,” he claimed, those regimented economies would become “the pattern of the next century.” To fend off that danger, Truman urged that “the whole world should adopt the American system.” The system of free enterprise, he went on, “can survive in America only if it becomes a world system” [2].

Before it was devastated by the imperialist-orchestrated civil war and destruction, Libya had the highest living standard in Africa. Using the United Nations statistics, Jean-Paul Pougala of Dissident Voice reports,

“The country now ranks 53rd on the HDI [Human Development Index] index, better than all other African countries and also better than the richer and Western-backed Saudi Arabia. . . . Although the media often refers to youth unemployment of 15 to 30 percent, it does not mention that in Libya, in contrast to other countries, all have their subsistence guaranteed. . . . The government provides all citizens with free health care and [has] achieved high coverage in the most basic health areas. . . . The life expectancy rose to 74.5 years and is now the highest in Africa. . . . The infant mortality rate declined to 17 deaths per 1,000 births and is not nearly as high as in Algeria (41) and also lower than in Saudi Arabia (21).

“The UNDP [United Nations Development Program] certified that Libya has also made ‘a significant progress in gender equality,’ particularly in the fields of education and health, while there is still much to do regarding representation in politics and the economy. With a relative low ‘index of gender inequality’ the UNDP places the country in the Human Development Report 2010 concerning gender equality at rank 52 and thus also well ahead of Egypt (ranked 108), Algeria (70), Tunisia (56), Saudi Arabia (ranked 128) and Qatar (94)” [3].

It is true that after resisting the self-centered demands and onerous pressures from Western powers for more than thirty years, Gaddafi relented in 1993 and opened the Libyan economy to Western capital, carried out a number of neoliberal economic reforms, and granted lucrative business/investment deals to major oil companies of the West.

But, again, like the proverbial godfather, US/European imperialism requires total, unconditional subordination; half-hearted, grudging compliance with the global agenda of imperialism is not enough. To be considered a real “ally,” or a true “client state,” a country has to grant the US the right to “guide” its economic, geopolitical and foreign policies, that is, to essentiallyforgo its national sovereignty. Despite some economic concessions since the early 1990s, Gaddafi failed this critical test of “full compliance” with the imperialist designs in the region.

For example, he resisted joining a US/NATO-sponsored military alliance in the region. Libya (along with Syria) are the only two Mediterranean nations and the sole remaining Arab states that are not subordinated to U.S. and NATO designs for control of the Mediterranean Sea Basin and the Middle East. Nor has Libya (or Syria) participated in NATO’s almost ten-year-old Operation Active Endeavor naval patrols and exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and neither is a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue military partnership which includes most regional countries: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania [4].

To the chagrin of US imperialism, Libya’s Gaddafi also refused to join the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), designed to control valuable resources in Africa, safeguard trade and investment markets in the region, and contain or evict China from North Africa. “When the US formed AFRICOM in 2007, some 49 countries signed on to the US military charter for Africa but one country refused: Libya. Such a treacherous act by Libya’s leader Moummar Qaddafi would only sow the seeds for a future conflict down the road in 2011” [5].

Furthermore, by promoting trade, development and industrialization projects on a local, national, regional or African level, Gaddafi was viewed as an obstacle to theWestern powers’ strategies of unhinderedtrade and development projects on a global level. For example, Gaddafi’s Libya played a leading role in “connecting the entire [African] continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and several other technological applications such as telemedicine and distance teaching. And thanks to the WMAX radio bridge, a low cost connection was made available across the continent, including in rural areas” [3].

The idea of launching a pan-African system of technologically advanced network of telecommunication began in the early 1990s, “when 45 African nations established RASCOM (Regional African Satellite Communication Organization) so that Africa would have its own satellite and slash communication costs in the continent. This was a time when phone calls to and from Africa were the most expensive in the world because of the annual$500 million fee pocketed by Europe for the use of its satellites like Intelsat for phone conversations, including those within the same country. . . . An African satellite only cost a onetime payment of $400 million and the continent no longer had to pay a $500 million annual lease” [3].

In pursuit of financing this project, the African nations frequently pleaded with the IMF and the World Bank for assistance. As the empty promises of these financial giants dragged on for 14 years,

“Gaddafi put an end to [the] futile pleas to the western ‘benefactors’ with their exorbitant interest rates. The Libyan guide put $300 million on the table; the African Development Bank added$50 million more and the West African Development Bank a further $27 million – and that’s how Africa got its first communications satellite on 26 December 2007.

“China and Russia followed suit and shared their technology and helped launch satellites for South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria and a second African satellite was launched in July 2010. The first totally indigenously built satellite and manufactured on African soil, in Algeria, is set for 2020. This satellite is aimed at competing with the best in the world, but at ten times less the cost, a real challenge.

“This is how a symbolic gesture of a mere $300 million changed the life of an entire continent. Gaddafi’s Libya cost the West, not just depriving it of $500 million per year but the billions of dollars in debt and interest that the initial loan would generate for years to come and in an exponential manner, thereby helping maintain an occult system in order to plunder the continent”[3].

Architects of global finance, represented by the imperialist governments of the West, also viewed Gaddafi as a spoiler in the area of international or global money and banking. The forces of global capital tend to prefer a uniform, contiguous, or borderless global market to multiple sovereign markets at the local, national, regional or continental levels.Not only Gaddafi’s Libya maintained public ownership of its own central bank, and the authority to create its own national money, but it also worked assiduously to establish an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank, and an African Investment Bank.

The $30 billion of the Libyan money frozen by the Obama administration belong to the Central Bank of Libya, which

“had been earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects which would add the finishing touches to the African Federation – the African Investment Bank in Syrte(Libya), the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Yaoundé (Cameroon) . . ., and the Abuja-based African Central Bank in Nigeria, which when it starts printing African money will ring the death knell for the CFA franc [the French currency] through which Paris has been able to maintain its hold on some African countries for the last fifty years. It is easy to understand the French wrath against Gaddafi.

“The African Monetary Fund is expected to totally supplant the African activities of the International Monetary Fund which, with only $25 billion, was able to bring an entire continent to its knees and make it swallow questionable privatization like forcing African countries to move from public to private monopolies. No surprise then that on 16-17 December 2010, the Africans unanimously rejected attempts by Western countries to join the African Monetary Fund, saying it was open only to African nations” [3].

Western powers also viewed Gaddafi as an obstacle to their imperial strategies for yet another reason: standing in the way of their age-old policies of “divide and rule.” To counter Gaddafi’s relentless efforts to establish a United States of Africa, the European Union tried to create the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM) region. “North Africa somehow had to be cut off from the rest of Africa, using the old tired racist clichés of the 18th and 19th centuries,which claimed that Africans of Arab origin were more evolved and civilized than the rest of the continent. This failed because Gaddafi refused to buy into it. He soon understood what game was being played when only a handful of African countries were invited to join the Mediterranean grouping without informing the African Union but inviting all 27 members of the European Union.” Gaddafi also refused to buy into other imperialist-inspired/driven groupings in Africa such as ECOWAS, COMESA, UDEAC, SADC and the Great Maghreb, “which never saw the light of day thanks to Gaddafi who understood what was happening” [3].

Gaddafi further earned the wrath of Western powers for striking extensive trade and investment deals with BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), especially with China. According to Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce, China’s contracts in Libya (prior to imperialism’s controlled demolition of that country) numbered no less than 50 large projects, involving contracts in excess of $18 billion. Even a cursory reading of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) strategic briefings shows that a major thrust of its mission is containment of China. “In effect, what we are witnessing here,” points out Patrick Henningsten, “is the dawn of a New Cold War between the US-EURO powers and China. This new cold war will feature many of the same elements of the long and protracted US-USSR face-off we saw in the second half of the 20th century. It will take place off shore, in places like Africa, South America, Central Asia and through old flashpoints like Korea and the Middle East” [5].

It is obvious (from this brief discussion) that Gaddafi’s sin for being placed on imperialism’s death row consists largely of the challenges he posed to the free reign of Western capital in the region, of his refusal to relinquishLibya’s national sovereignty to become another unconditional “client state” of Western powers. His removal from power is therefore designed to eliminate all “barriers” to the unhindered mobility of the US/European capital in the region by installing a more pliant regime in Libya.

Gaddafi’s removal from power would serve yet another objective of US/European powers: to shorten or spoil the Arab Spring by derailing their peaceful protests, containing their non-violent revolutions and sabotaging their aspirations for self-determination.Soon after being caught by surprise by the glorious uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the imperialist powers (including the mini Zionist imperialism in Palestine) embarked on “damage control.” In pursuit of this objective, they adopted three simultaneous strategies. The first strategy was to half-heartedly“support” theuprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (of course, once they became unstoppable) in order to control them—hence, the military rule in those countries following the departure of Mubarak from Cairo and Ben Ali from Tunis. The second strategy of containment has been support and encouragement for the brutal crackdown of other spontaneous and peaceful uprisings in countries ruled by “client regimes,” for example, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. And the third policy of sabotaging the Arab Spring has been to promote civil war and orchestrate chaos in countries such as Libya, Syria and Iran.

In its early stages of development, capitalism promoted nation-state and/or national sovereignty in order to free itself from the constraints of the church and feudalism. Now that the imperatives of the highly advanced but degenerate global finance capital require unhindered mobility in a uniform or borderless world, national sovereignty is considered problematic—especially in places like Libya, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries that are not ruled by imperialism’s “client states.” Why? Because unhindered global mobility of capital requiresdoing away with social safety net or welfare state programs; it means doing away with public domain properties or public sector enterprises and bringing them under the private ownership of the footloose-and-fancy-free global capital.

This explains why the corporate media, political pundits and other mouthpieces of imperialism are increasing talking about Western powers’ “responsibility to protect,” by which they mean that these powers have a responsibility to protect the Libyan (or Iranian or Venezuelan or Syrian or Cuban or …)citizens from their “dictatorial” rulers by instigating regime change and promoting “democracy” there. It further means that, in pursuit of this objective,the imperialist powers should not be bound by “constraints” of national sovereignty because, they argue, “universal democratic rights take primacy over national sovereignty considerations.”In anotoriously selective fashion, this utilitarian use of the “responsibility to protect” does not apply to nations or peoples ruled by imperialism’s client states such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. [6].

This also means that the imperialist war against peoples and states such as Libya and Venezuela is essentially part of the same class war against peoples and states in the belly of the beast, that is, in the United States and Europe. In every instance or place, whether at home or abroad, whether in Libya or California or Wisconsin or Greece, the thrust of the relentless global class war is the same: to do away with subsistence-level guarantees, or social safety net programs, and redistribute the national or global resources in favor of the rich and powerful, especially the powerful interests vested in the finance capital and the military capital.

There is no question that global capitalism has thus woven together the fates and fortunes of the overwhelming majority of the world population in an increasingly intensifying struggle for subsistence and survival.No one can tell when this majority of world population (the middle, lower-middle, poor and working classes) would come to the realization that their seemingly separate struggles for economic survival are essentially part and parcel of the same struggle against the same class enemies, the guardians of world capitalism. One thing is clear, however: only when they come to such a liberating realization, join forces together in a cross-border, global uprising against the forces of world capitalism, and seek to manage their economies independent of profitability imperatives of capitalist production—only then can they break free from the shackles of capitalism and control their future in a coordinated, people-centered mode of production, distribution and consumption.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh, author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007), teaches economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Notes
 

1.Michel Chossudovsky, “When War Games Go Live: Staging a ‘Humanitarian War’ against ‘SOUTHLAND’ Under an Imaginary UN Security Council Resolution 3003,”Global Research  http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24351    

2. D. F. Fleming, The Cold War and Its Origins (New York: Double Day, 1961), p. 436.

3. Jean-Paul Pougal, “Why the West Wants the Fall of Gaddafi?”Dissident Voice: http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/04/why-is-gaddafi-being-demonized/

4. Rick Rozoff, “Libyan Scenario for Syria: Towards A US-NATO ‘Humanitarian Intervention’ directed against Syria?” Global Research: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24562

5. Patrick Henningsten, “WEST vs. CHINA: A NEW COLD WAR BEGINS ON LIBYAN SOIL,” 21st Century Wire: http://21stcenturywire.com/2011/04/12/2577/

6. For an insightful and informative discussion of this issue see (1) F. William Engdahl, “Humanitarian Neo-colonialism: Framing Libya and Reframing War—Creative Destruction Part III,” Global Research: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24617; (b) Marjorie Cohn, “The Responsibility to Protect – The Cases of Libya and Ivory Coast,” Counter Punch: http://www.counterpunch.org/cohn05162011.html

As far as we can discern the US Treasury thus far has spent and borrowed about $100 billion from the federal pension accounts. Unless there is a vote on the cash debt extension prior to August 2nd, government will probably have borrowed some $250 billion to $300 billion. The Treasury is paying virtually no interest on this debt. Three-month Treasury bills are currently yielding zero percent. Our question is how will the funds be generated to fulfill the Treasury’s obligation to the pension fund? What happens if on August 2nd if legislation is not passed? Does this go on forever? We will keep you apprised on new developments.

The current situation regarding the state of recovery in the US has turned from precarious to dismal and as we predicted a year ago May we will have to be treated to QE3 something no one really wants, but as we said before it is inevitable. The Fed and their controllers, the member bank owners of the Fed, know the present approach doesn’t work and it is only a matter of time, as a result of their policies, when more stimulus will be needed, which in turn leads to more inflation.

Due to the current state of affairs Fed Chairman Bernanke has been making one appearance on TV after another. He gets grilled over and over again and he doesn’t like the public reception at all. He shouldn’t, as more and more observers see that two quantitative easings haven’t worked.  They cost at least $3.6 trillion in funds created out of thin air, and all they have done is prolong the agony. The flip side is the policy has caused higher inflation. What else can one expect when deficits astound and the Fed has to buy $1.6 trillion in Treasury bonds. A large percentage of this debt is used to wage perpetual war for perpetual peace. During this process the President has bypassed the Constitution and is deliberately repressing the freedoms of American citizens. There no longer is a separation of powers, but virtual dictatorship bought and paid for by Wall Street and banking.

It should be firmly implanted in your mind that your masters in government and those controlling government brazenly and arrogantly believe that they know better what is good for you, than you do. That is why when they speak to you their answers are dripping with condescension – as if to say, how dare you question what we tell you. Fed Chairman, Mr. Bernanke, is a perfect example of this. He, others and his predecessors have created a false economy based upon perpetual debt and upon money and credit being created out of thin air. Today that is accompanied with zero interest rates, a combination that in time can only bring a falling dollar, inflation and a collapsing economy. Mr. Bernanke appears to believe that an increased supply of money has little or no effect on the comparison between money and the prices of goods. He has to be living in a fairy tale land. Thinking such as this can only end up making a bad economic situation worse.

For more than a month the US has been faced with the task of extending the short-term debt limit. The game that is being played is that one side wants to cut the deficit and the other side does not. In reality both sides do not want to cut anything, or should we say the elitists who control these supposed representatives of the people do not want anything cut. They want the game to continue, so they can continue to loot the economy, an interesting take on this sideshow is if Treasury debt is not increased the situation grinds to a standstill.

Congress, the President and the so-called negotiators want an increase in this short-term debt of $2.4 trillion. That would be a short-term debt limit of $16.7 trillion to carry the debt limit past the next election. The offset of reduced spending is to come over the next ten years. How ridiculous and ludicrous. Do they really expect us to buy this charade?

The most recent strategy by the elitists is to keep Japan’s problems under wraps. Just do not let it into the media, even though some Japanese officials say the island could become uninhabitable. This is also why President Obama went to see Chancellor Merkel in Berlin. He urged her to make a deal to settle the Greek problem. He doesn’t understand that such a deal would make her and her party, the CDU, unelectable for a long time. The German citizens want Greece cut loose. They’ll take the losses and the result is many banks will go under. The President is as well trying to bolster his approval ratings.

The propaganda is flowing to keep Americans from panicking in the face of not recovering, no short-term debt extension, municipal and state failures and Europe starting to collapse. The elitists are in serious trouble due to these problems. The icing on the cake for them is the disaster that the Bilderberg meeting turned into in Switzerland. 

US consumer confidence is lower now than it was at the beginning of the credit crisis. That isn’t unexpected when unemployment is rising, retail is falling and the manufacturing numbers out of Chicago and New York are falling steeply.

What professionals for the most part do not seem to understand is that the events of 2006/07 have never been solved. On February 2009 the inflationary depression began. There has now been a double dip since then. What we have witnessed is slight revivals caused by the injection of money and credit. Unemployment is close to the same level it was 2-1/2 to 3 years ago. That phenomenon has been the same in the UK and Europe. In the UK the Bank of England and in Europe the ECB are doing the same thing the Fed is doing and that is buying government debt by creating money and credit out of thin air. The City of London, Wall Street and Frankfurt would have you believe these injections into the systems were working, when in fact all they have done is temporarily bail out Wall Street and the City of London and the European financial centers as well as the governments involved. Nothing has been done to structurally assist the system and put people back to work. What readers have to understand is that what has been done to these economies does not work and the participants know it doesn’t work. Professionals, who are not connected with the elitists, have panicked, because they do not understand what is going on – what is being done to them. The market was ripe to fall, but there is another important factor, Wall Street wants a short-term debt extension with little or no spending cutbacks. The new conservatives say no, we are not going to do that. The market will be taken lower until these representatives see the light. How far are they willing to take the market down, probably to between 8,500 to 10,000 on the Dow, or until Congress gives them what they want. In the meantime they will attack commodities, gold and silver, so no one can profit. Unfortunately for them, that isn’t working this time. They are lower, but come back every time they are artificially pushed down. We believe that is what this market correction is all about. Wall Street will take the market down as far as they have to in order to get what they want. In the meantime the Middle East and Europe are in turmoil and wars abound in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Those on the inside understand that the market is fueled by major deficit spending and the injection of money and credit, as government inflates debt away. The economy and the market for the last two years have not justified stock prices at the level they have maintained during that period. The same is true for the UK and Europe.

Most of the professionals do not understand what is really going on and what is being done to them and their clients. Data is weak and getting weaker as economic statistics continue to fall and point to more problems ahead. This is ample justification for a falling market to aid the deliberate reduction in prices. We must remember that the only bastion of gains for the public left is the market. If it comes down Congress will hear from constituents loud and clear. That is what is supposed to force the issue on passing the short-term debt extension.

As a reaction to this free spending foreign governments have slowed or stopped their purchase of Treasury and Agency bonds leaving the job to the Fed. This problem is going to worsen as we go forward. Now it is not only foreign governments that are slowing purchases, but also American households as well. They are selling more than $1 trillion annually and sales are increasing, as mom, pop and hedge funds dump government paper.

As QE2 nears an end investors are getting emotional. It is called panic. They can expect little from the FOMC next week, Europe can expect the same from the EU meeting the following week. Greece is in a state of revolution and there is no agreement in sight. In fact, the banks, governments, the EU and the IMF cannot agree on anything. The Greeks want a break in terms. If they do not get one it is default.

We predicted Greece would pursue these ends and we told them to do so several times on radio, TV and in the press. A Greek default will not only bring the euro down, it will take down the European banking system and that was our intention from the beginning.

                       
Greece and the other countries in financial and economic trouble should have never been included in the euro zone. They simply were not qualified and the solvent countries not only knew that, but also stood by as these countries cooked the books with the help of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. We wrote about it 11 years ago, but no one was listening.

          

The Greeks after a year of austerity have had enough of it, and are in no mood to give away their country to the bankers. An interest in the telecom company was recently sold to the Germans for $0.30 on the dollar. The Greeks are not going to stand still for anymore such sweetheart deals. When Greece entered the euro zone on January 1, 2001, they were happy to have an austerity program for entry in as much as they had the highest inflation rate in Europe. Their deficits were higher than any other EU country at that time, but the bank and sovereign loans kept coming, because it was political. The EU and the euro zone were to be the template for the new world currency and the new world government. That is why Greece and others were rushed into the euro zone. Then there was the novel and stupid concept of one interest for all, which we said at the time guaranteed disaster, and that is what we have ten years later.

          
We have recommended the purchase of gold and silver coins, bullion and shares since June 2000, after we got subscribers and others out of the stock market in the second week of April 2000, two weeks after the top. We did the same thing at Dow 14,000 and predicted a bottom at 6,600. The fall was to 6,550. We got subscribers out of the real estate market starting in June of 2005. As you can see we have been on top of things all those years. The call on the destruction of the euro we hope will be our best call yet. The perceived risk from our point of view is that Greece will default and leave the euro to be followed by Ireland and Portugal and later Belgium, Spain and Italy. It will probably take two to three years for this to become reality. Germans do not want the euro and never have wanted it. We believe within three years every country will be back with their own currencies and the dream of one world government for now in Europe will be a dead issue.

          
The Greek fallout will take down a number of too big to fail European banks, and could cause serious harm to lender countries. These mistakes will not be anything they will do again, anytime soon. We do not believe the Fed will be able to bail out European banks this time. The American public won’t stand for it after having to go to federal appellate court and traverse two years to find out the Fed lied and overstepped its charter by being banker to the world. The problems in the US are similar to those of Europe and it is only a matter of time before the US financially blows up. If Greek yields can go to 17-1/2%, so can yields in all countries in trouble, and there are plenty of them. The taxpayers in the US, UK and Europe are fed up with paying the bill for all of this speculation and mad political escapades. That will soon come to an end. It has too, as bankruptcy seems to be the only option. Three-month Treasury bills yield zero percent, and 2-year bills yield 0.40%, as the 10’s yield 2.91%. There now is only one way for yields to go and that is up. There is a limit to credit creation, but we are not at the juncture as yet. It is probably two years off, perhaps three years.

          
One of the aspects of the debt disease we haven’t really discussed is the fallout from Greece if and when it goes under. Thirty-three European banks hold large amounts of bonds in the PIIG countries, and they could all go under if the 5 or 6 weak countries go bankrupt. In addition, there are the countries and others who are loaded with these bonds. Like the Fed the ECB has been bailing out banks and it is against the rules, so that could put the officers in legal jeopardy. The very fact that these bankers broke the rules is onerous. The big question is are they headed for jail? If they have made mistakes the taxpayer has to pay the bills. We believe they should be in jail. The bill for exposure to the debt of the 5 financially weak nations could be $625 billion. The ECB has done the same thing the Fed has done and that is bankroll insolvent banks by buying the toxic waste they own and putting it on their balance sheets, which the public get to pay for. It is the socialization of corporate debt, fascist style. Most of the garbage has no value or little value. We always wonder what prices the Fed and the ECB pay for the soiled merchandise. Both refuse to tell us.

          
It is said the ECB is using 24 to 1 leverage with only $116 billion in capital and reserves. If assets fall 4.25% its entire capital base would be wiped out. That could easily happen if Greece and the other four PIIGS default. We call that ominous because none of the problem countries want to repay the debt to a gaggle of bankers who are nothing but criminals. Our take is the 5 will eventually default and perhaps Belgium as well. That means the ECB is insolvent and the major banks throughout the euro zone are as well, including many central banks. Professionals do not have a clue about how serious this is to the entire world financial system. Perhaps we are wrong. The ECB only has $268 billion in Greek bonds. That is simply a trifle for such big socialist hitters. Yet, it is double their capital base.

          
A Greek default would put 94% of the direct losses on European creditors and 5% would be shared by US creditors. The other side of the equation is US companies making some 90% of all losses being owed by US writers of default insurance. These US banks have sold $120 billion of credit default swaps to European banks. These are the banks that are too big to fail, which American taxpayers will have to pick up the losses for. Have those US banks hedged their exposure? We do not know, but we do know what they have done is irrational and incompetent. That is unless the US or the Fed had to for some reason guarantee losses. Something similar to what we suspected in the US banks’ sale of toxic waste to these same European banks. If the Fed, the Treasury and the Exchange Stabilization Fund are audited we will find out. These numbers are staggering, but their exposure to $100 billion in Irish debt is equally as onerous.

          
Such speculation and secret deals have to come to an end if we are going to survive financially. We definitely need to re-pass the Glass-Steagall Act that we fought hard to protect 13 years ago.

          
We can promise you that if Greece defaults eventually the ECB will be insolvent. We have dreamed of that day for 12 years. The destruction of the ECB and the euro zone, which would in part destroy the Illuminist drive into world government.

          
We think in order to avoid such a catastrophe the ECB would simply print more money as the Fed has, prolonging the agony. The real bailout mechanism would be France and Germany to put up their gold to save the euro zone and the euro. That is if the US allows Germany to have their gold. We can promise you that if the politicians of these two countries attempted to use their countries gold as collateral or propose its sale they would be lynched.

          
Like the Fed, the ECB has no credibility left. It is obvious that these two central banks only mission is to save the financial system that owns them. When are people going to smarten up? The ECB and the bankers thought Greece and the Greek people would be a pushover. The bankers thought they would just move in and loot the country. Once the Greeks were educated on the issues they made the proper choices. That is why we spent so much time on radio, TV and in the press there. Now they know the truth and the bankers, the euro and the EU are screwed. The ECB, as a result, is dead meat whether they realize it or not.

          
World debt is unpayable, especially that of the US, UK and the euro zone. The only solution is collapse. There can be no saving the system. It is only a matter of time and what the catalyst is. It could be Greece.

           

Two Capitalisms

June 20th, 2011 by Joel S. Hirschhorn

With a kind of religious fervor, American conservatives love to talk about their love of capitalism, as if it has a singular definition and can always be counted on to serve public and national interests.  The intelligent way to think about capitalism is that it can be of two kinds.  The good kind is patriotic and stakeholder oriented, the bad kind is selfish and shareholder obsessed.  The global economic downturn is strong evidence of the dominant second form of capitalism that has caused so much human suffering while it has served the rich and powerful.

When those with power take actions purely to serve corporate financial interests even though it greatly harms employees, the middle class and the national economy then the bad kind of capitalism is being pursued.  Think of the mass export of good jobs, especially in manufacturing, the preference for imported goods, and the investment of capital to build new manufacturing and research facilities in other countries.  Maximizing financial returns to reward corporate bigwigs and stockholders even though the actions greatly harm the US economy and society results from US companies practicing bad, immoral capitalism.  Think of this development as the conquest of Wall Street over Main Street , of those who make money over those who create and make products, of those who promote economic inequality over those who value the middle class.

The power elites that have succeeded in perverting capitalism have also succeeded in making much of the American public so dumb and distracted that they no longer function as informed and effective citizens, which has allowed the government to be hijacked by the rich and powerful through a two-party plutocracy.

Selfish capitalism was exemplified by the role of Fannie Mae in creating the economic disaster by perverting the housing market, as conservative David Brooks correctly concluded; he noted the “leadership class is fundamentally self-dealing;” it practiced “shameless self-enrichment” which produced disastrous results.

To be clear, the conflict is not between capitalism and socialism, the way right wing ideologues talk, but between the good and bad kinds of capitalism, which those on the left need to learn how to talk about.  Bad, greed-driven, too-big-to-fail capitalism has ruined the US for all but the rich which have sucked off much of the nation’s wealth.

A fine analysis by Harold Meyerson on the difference between the highly successful German economy and the dismal US one drives home the crucial differences between the two forms of capitalism.  The need is for the US to learn from the more successful German, good form of capitalism and develop policy reforms that could rejuvenate the US economy by curbing the bad form of capitalism.  The ideas that Republicans keep advocating are all wrong because all they want to do is promote bad capitalism, which only serves the interests of the rich and powerful, not ordinary Americans, not the middle class, and not workers.  Peter Coy has also assembled great information on what can be learned from other nations.

The German economy makes the US one look like it is on its deathbed.  The German tripartite system has business, labor and government working together.  Faced with the same competition from low wage developing countries and the entire globalization condition, Germany has a booming manufacturing sector that constitutes almost twice the share of the economy than that in the US .  And even in the current global economic recession German unemployment is 7 percent.  The tripartite system has kept German labor unions strong and, therefore, protects the middle class whose pay has risen at roughly the same rate as top incomes.  This is in stark contrast to the rich-getting-richer and union–busting situation in the US .  Indeed, the top 1 percent in the US are seeing their proportion of total income rise dramatically, even as their German counterparts are seeing their share of total income shrink.  German corporate boards are required by law to have an equal number of management and employee representatives.  By law! 

Germany ’s stakeholder capitalism benefits the many unlike the US where selfish capitalism benefits the upper class and brutalizes everyone else.  Corporate power has not captured the German government the way it has hijacked the US government.

One powerful and highly successful public policy used by several democracies with strong capitalistic systems in the current economic downturn is providing companies with funds to keep workers on the payroll until demand improves.  This directly fights unemployment and puts government dollars directly in the pockets of workers, in stark contrast to the many billions of dollars the US has spent which have not helped fight unemployment nor helped ordinary Americans, because the billions have flowed to corporate and financial interests.  This more sensible approach that boosts consumer demand and spending has been used by Singapore , Germany and Japan , for example.

Steven Pearlstein recently examined the history of IBM and noted its “outmoded ethos – namely that the company exists not simply to maximize profit for shareholders but to maximize the benefits it can offer to customers, employees and the society as a whole.”  Exactly right.

If President Obama was as smart as he and so many others think he is, and if he was a genuine leader and seeker of deep reforms, he would learn, respect and work like a dog to apply the best practices other nations are using to get better and fairer economic results.  But as the Center for Public Integrity found, Obama has showered benefits on big time funders of his presidential campaign.  Will he be a forceful advocate for capitalism with a human face?

Don’t hold your breath.

If Republican presidential hopefuls and crony capitalists cared as much about serving the public interest as serving corporate desires, than they would stop their nonsensical free market claptrap embracing selfish capitalism and seek a more patriotic form that puts the nation first.  Time to stop talking about cutting taxes.  Pursue new and better ideas.   Face reality, a free market that provides freedom for corporate and financial interests to victimize the public must be changed.  Admit that!

Don’t hold your breath.

Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through delusionaldemocracy.com.

The Super Rich Sabotage the Arab Revolutions

June 20th, 2011 by Shamus Cooke

With revolutions sweeping the Arab world and bubbling-up across Europe, aging tyrants or discredited governments are doing their best to cling to power. It’s hard to over-exaggerate the importance of these events: the global political and economic status-quo is in deep crisis. If pro-democracy or anti-austerity movements emerge victorious, they’ll have an immediate problem to solve — how to pay for their vision of a better world. The experiences thus far in Egypt and Greece are proof enough that money matters. The wealthy nations holding the purse strings are still able to influence the unfolding of events from afar, subjecting humiliating conditions on those countries undergoing profound social change.

This strategy is being ruthlessly deployed in the Arab world. Take for example Egypt, where the U.S. and Europe are quietly supporting the military dictatorship that replaced the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Now Mubarak’s generals rule the country. The people of Egypt, however, still want real change, not a mere shuffling at the top; a strike wave and mass demonstrations are testing the power of the new military dictatorship.

A strike wave implies that Egyptians want better wages and working conditions; and economic opportunity was one of the central demands of the revolutionaries who toppled Mubarak. But revolutions tend to have a temporarily negative effect on a nation’s economy. This is mainly because those who dominate the economy, the rich, do their best to sabotage any social change.

One defining feature of revolutions is the exodus of the rich, who correctly assume their wealth will be targeted for redistribution. This is often referred to as “capital flight.” Also, rich foreign investors stop investing money in the revolutionary country, not knowing if the company they’re investing in will remain privately owned, or if the government they’re investing in will strategically default and choose not to pay back foreign investors. Lastly, workers demand higher wages in revolutions, and many owners would rather shut down — if they don’t flee — than operate for small profits. All of this hurts the economy overall.

The New York Times reports:

“The 18-day [Egyptian] revolt stopped new foreign investment and decimated the pivotal tourist industry… The revolution has inspired new demands for more jobs and higher wages that are fast colliding with the economy’s diminished capacity…Strikes by workers demanding their share of the revolution’s spoils continue to snarl industry… The main sources of capital in this country have either been arrested, escaped or are too afraid to engage in any business…” (June 10, 2011).

Understanding this dynamic, the rich G8 nations are doing their best to exploit it. Knowing that any governments that emerge from the Arab revolutions will be instantly cash-starved, the G8 is dangling $20 billion with strings attached. The strings in this case are demands that the Arab countries pursue only “open market” policies, i.e., business-friendly reforms, such as privatizations, elimination of food and gas subsidies, and allowing foreign banks and corporations better access to the economy. A separate New York Times article addressed the subject with the misleading title, Aid Pledge by Group of 8 Seeks to Bolster Arab Democracy:

“Democracy, the [G8] leaders said, could be rooted only in economic reforms that created open markets…The [$20 billion] pledge, an aide to President Obama said, was “not a blank check” but “an envelope that could be achieved in the context of suitable [economic] reform efforts.” (May 28, 2011).

The G8 policy towards the Arab world is thus the same policy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have pursued against weaker nations that have run into economic problems. The cure is always worse than the disease, since “open market” reforms always lead to the national wealth being siphoned into the hands of fewer and fewer people as public entities are privatized, making the rich even richer, while social services are eliminated, making the poor even poorer. Also, the open door to foreign investors evolves into a speculative bubble that inevitably bursts; the investors flee an economically devastated country. It is no accident that many former IMF “beneficiary” countries have paid off their debts and denounced their benefactors, swearing never to return.

Nations that refuse the conditions imposed by the G8 or IMF are thus cut off from the capital that any country would need to maintain itself and expand amid a time of social change. The rich nations proclaim victory in both instances: either the poorer nation asks for help and becomes economically penetrated by western corporations, or the poor country is economically and politically isolated, punished and used as an example of what becomes of those countries that attempt a non-capitalist route to development.

Many Arab countries are especially appetizing to foreign corporations hungry for new investments, since large state-run industries remain in place to help the working-class populations, a tradition begun under the socialist-inspired Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser that spread across the Arab world. If Egypt falls victim to an Iraq-like privatization frenzy, Egypt’s working people and poor will pay higher prices for food, gas, and other basic necessities. This is one reason, other than oil, that many U.S. corporations would also like to invade Iran.

The social turmoil in the Arab world and Europe have fully exposed the domination that wealthy investors and corporations have over the politics of nations. All over Europe “bailouts” are being discussed for poorer nations facing economic crises. The terms of these bailout loans are ruthless and are dictated by nothing more than the desire to maximize profits. In Greece, for example, the profit-motive of the lenders is obvious to everyone, helping to create a social movement that might reach Arab proportions. The New York Times reports:

“The new [Greece bailout] loans, however, will only be forthcoming if more austerity measures are introduced…Along with faster progress on privatization, Europe and the [IMF] fund have been demanding that Greece finally begin cutting public sector jobs and closing down unprofitable entities.” (June 1, 2011).

This same phenomenon is happening all over Europe, from England to Spain, as working people are told that social programs must be slashed, public jobs eliminated, and state industries privatized. The U.S. is also deeply affected, with daily media threats about the “vigilante bond holders” [rich investors] who will stop buying U.S. debt if Social Security, Medicare, and other social services are not eliminated.

Never before has the global market economy been so damningly exposed as biased and dominated by the super-wealthy. These consciousness-raising experiences cannot be easily siphoned into politicians promising “democracy,” since democracy is precisely the problem: a tiny minority of super-rich individuals have dictatorial power due to their enormous wealth, which they use to threaten governments who don’t cater to their every whim. Money is thus given to subservient governments and taken away from independent ones, while the western media never questions these often sudden shifts in policy, which can instantly transform a longtime U.S. ally into a “dictator” or vice-versa.

The toppling of dictators in the Arab world has immediately raised the question of, “What next”? The economic demands of working people cannot be satisfied while giant corporations dominate the economy, since higher wages mean lower corporate profits, while better social services require that the rich pay higher taxes. These fundamental conflicts lay just beneath the social upheavals all over the world, which came into maturity with the global recession and will continue to dominate social life for years to come. The outcome of this prolonged struggle will determine what type of society emerges from the political tumult, and will meet either the demands of working people or serve the needs of rich investors and giant corporations.

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

1) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/10/world/middleeast/10egypt.html?_r=1&hpw  

2) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/28/world/europe/28g8.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=g8%20arab&st=cse&scp=1  

3) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/01/business/economy/01euro.html?hpw#  

Hay que despedir al secretario general de las Naciones Unidas

June 19th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

El secretario general de las Naciones Unidas, Ban Ki-moon, ha tomado la decisión poco usual de presionar a los gobiernos miembros para que respeten los “canales legales del gobierno israelí relacionados con el flujo de bienes y ayuda a la Franja de Gaza”. Al respecto, Ban Ki-moon llamó a los gobiernos a impedir que la Flotilla de la Libertad programada para junio se dirija a la Franja de Gaza:

El secretario general ha enviado una carta a los gobiernos de países alrededor del Mar Mediterráneo. En estas cartas, el secretario general indicó que sigue con preocupación los informes en los medios sobre posibles flotillas hacia Gaza. Expresó que cree que la ayuda y los bienes destinados a Gaza deben canalizarse a través de cruces legítimos y canales establecidos [controlados por Israel].

El secretario general llamó a todos los gobiernos concernidos a que usen su influencia para desalentar semejantes flotillas, que tienen el potencial de escalar hacia un conflicto violento. Además llamó a todos, incluido el gobierno de Israel, a actuar responsablemente y con cuidado para evitar todo incidente violento.

El secretario general reiteró que, aunque cree que las flotillas no son útiles para resolver los problemas económicos básicos en Gaza, la situación allí sigue siendo insostenible. Instó al gobierno de Israel a dar más pasos significativos y trascendentales para acabar con el cierre [bloqueo] de Gaza, dentro del marco de la Resolución 1860 (2009) del Consejo de Seguridad. En particular subrayó que es esencial para la operación de cruces legítimos que sean adecuados para satisfacer las necesidades de la población civil de Gaza. (Naciones Unidas, portavoz del secretario general en Cartas del Secretario General sobre Posibles Flotillas hacia Gaza, 27 de mayo de 2011, énfasis agregado).

Al reconocer los “cruces legítimos” de Israel a Gaza a través de territorio israelí, Ban Ki-moon condona en lugar de condenar la violación del derecho internacional relativo a las fronteras soberanas de Palestina.

La declaración de Ban Ki-moon tuvo lugar cuando “la nueva flotilla lanzada en el primer aniversario del mortífero ataque israelí contra la Flotilla de la Libertad en el que murieron nueve activistas cuando la armada israelí abordó violentamente el barco turco; docenas resultaron heridos… La nueva Flotilla de la Libertad se dirigirá hacia Gaza en la segunda mitad del próximo mes, y en ella participarán por lo menos diez barcos de diversos países europeos,y uno de EE.UU…”

El Espíritu de Rachel Corrie y la Flotilla de la Libertad

El Espíritu de Rachel Corrie que está actualmente varado en el puerto egipcio de Al Arish partió de El Pireo el 11 de mayo, precediendo a la Flotilla de la Libertad, programada para junio.

Este barco es el primero que desafía este año el bloqueo israelí. El 16 de mayo penetró aguas territoriales de Gaza sin que lo detectaran hasta que la armada israelí le disparó:

El Espíritu de Rachel Corrie (conocido oficialmente como FINCH) con una carga humanitaria para Gaza, fue atacado por una patrulla naval israelí dentro de la denominada Zona de Seguridad Palestina el 15 de mayo.

Después de que la armada israelí disparara a matar con armas automáticas, el barco cambió de ruta y fue escoltado por una patrulla de la armada egipcia a las aguas territoriales egipcias, a poca distancia del puerto de Al Arish.

…El Espíritu de Rachel Corrie lleva 7,5 kilómetros de cañerías de alcantarillado de UPVC (plástico) para ayudar a restaurar el devastado sistema de alcantarillado en Gaza.

Las autoridades egipcias mantienen su decisión. Desde el 16 de mayo, el Espíritu de Rachel Corrie está varado en aguas territoriales egipcias frente a la costa del puerto de Al Arish.

El gobierno egipcio ha sido contactado a través de canales diplomáticos. El gobierno post Mubarak, que afirma que está comprometido con la “democracia”, colabora con Tel Aviv. La decisión de El Cairo es servir los intereses israelíes e imponer el embargo sobre Gaza por tierra y por mar.

(Global Research, 19 de mayo de 2011)

La decisión egipcia de impedir que el barco atraque en el puerto y que se posibilite que la misión vaya por tierra a Gaza se tomó después de consultar con Tel Aviv.

Israel, cuyas patrullas marinas atacaron el Rachel Corrie, se presenta como víctima. Según el Jerusalem Post, Tel Aviv presentó una protesta ante el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU “con respecto a un barco malasio… que trató de romper el bloqueo marítimo de la Franja de Gaza el lunes por la noche, pero fue rechazado por la armada”.

La Misión Espíritu de Rachel Corrie está patrocinada por la Fundación Paz Global Perdana de Malasia, dirigida por el ex primer ministro Mahathir Mohamad.

Las autoridades egipcias han rechazado categóricamente que su carga pase por el cruce Rafah, e insisten en que debe enviarse a través de un punto de control israelí. Esta decisión de Egipto se ajusta a la insistencia de Ban Ki-moon de que el comercio y la ayuda se canalicen a través de puntos de control “legítimos” israelíes.

Ban Ki-moon viola las normas y procedimientos de las Naciones Unidas

Obviamente, Ban Ki-moon recibe órdenes de Tel Aviv y Washington en lugar de recibirlas de la Asamblea General de la ONU, en menoscabo de su mandato.

Su decisión no solo viola el derecho internacional, también hace caso omiso de las normas y procedimientos internos de las Naciones Unidas. Ban Ki-moon ha ignorado el informe de la misión de investigación independiente del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas nombrado por la Asamblea General. Las conclusiones de ese informe son inequívocas: Las acciones de las Fuerzas de Defensa Israelíes (FDI-ejército israelí) al interceptar y atacar la Flotilla de Gaza (mayo/junio de 2010) en aguas internacionales constituyeron una violación del derecho humanitario internacional:

“La conducta de los militares israelíes y de otro personal hacia los pasajeros de la flotilla no fue solo desproporcionada para la ocasión, sino que además demostró niveles de violencia totalmente innecesarios e increíble violencia. Reveló un nivel inaceptable de brutalidad. Una conducta semejante no puede ser aceptada o condonada por motivos de seguridad u otros. Constituyó una grave violación de las leyes de derechos humanos y del derecho humanitario internacional.

La Misión considera que se han cometido varias infracciones y ofensas… Hay una clara evidencia que justifica el procesamiento por los siguientes crímenes dentro de los términos del artículo 147 de la Cuarta Convención de Ginebra:

  • Asesinato deliberado;

  • Tortura o tratamiento inhumano;

  • Causa deliberada de gran sufrimiento o graves heridas al cuerpo o a la salud.

La Misión también considera que ha habido una serie de violaciones de las obligaciones de Israel bajo la ley internacional de derechos humanos, incluidos:

  • El derecho a la vida (art. 6, Acuerdo Internacional sobre Derechos Civiles y Políticos);

  • Tortura y otro tratamiento o castigo cruel, inhumano o degradante (art. 7, Acuerdo Internacional; Convención contra la Tortura);

  • Derecho a la libertad y la seguridad de la persona y libertad contra arresto o detención arbitraria (art. 9, Acuerdo Internacional);

  • Derecho de los detenidos a ser tratados con humanidad y respeto por la dignidad inherente de la persona humana (art. 10, Acuerdo Internacional);

  • Libertad de expresión (art. 19, Acuerdo Internacional).

El derecho a un remedio efectivo debe garantizarse a todas las víctimas. No debe interpretarse como si la misión hubiera dicho que se trata de una lista exhaustiva.

266. La Misión señala que la retención por las autoridades israelíes de propiedad confiscada ilegalmente sigue siendo una ofensa continua y se llama a Israel a devolver esa propiedad de inmediato. (para. 265) http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/15session/A.HRC.15.21_en.pdf

La decisión del secretario general de la ONU respalda la legitimidad del bloqueo de Gaza por parte Israel, haciendo caso omiso de la Asamblea General de la ONU.

Ban Ki-moon se refiere a “cruces legítimos y canales establecidos” hacia Gaza a través de territorio israelí y puntos de control controlados por Israel, negando así a Palestina el derecho más importante de una nación soberana, es decir el derecho a controlar sus fronteras internacionales por tierra y por mar.

La decisión de Ban Ki-moon niega el derecho de Palestina a comerciar y negociar con países extranjeros. Obliga a Palestina a pedir la autoridad y permiso de Israel al recibir ayuda humanitaria, así como al realizar comercio de mercancías.

La apertura del cruce fronterizo de Rafah el 28 de mayo tiene que ver con el movimiento de personas. Permite a las personas que abandonen la Franja de Gaza, que se ha convertido en una prisión de facto, mientras impide que Palestina comercie con el mundo exterior.

Ban Ki-moon respalda la jurisdicción de Israel sobre las fronteras de Palestina en violación del derecho internacional:

“…Soberanía significa ante todo y sobre todo el control de las fronteras.

Un Estado soberano sin fronteras soberanas es una contradicción, un contrasentido.

Israel puede decidir la retirada de su ejército, de su administración y de sus colonos de toda Cisjordania –como lo hizo de la Franja de Gaza; Israel puede permitir la formación de un gobierno (o incluso dos), una bandera, un himno nacional e incluso un escaño en la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas– y mientras no reconozca la soberanía palestina sobre las fronteras, Cisjordania seguirá siendo un territorio ocupado y no una entidad soberana, de la misma manera que la Franja de Gaza sigue siendo, según el derecho internacional, un territorio ocupado.” (Alternative News, Sovereign Palestinian State Requires Sovereignty Over Borders, 25 de abril de 2010

La decisión de Ban Ki-moon también respalda al sionismo en derogación de la Resolución de la Asamblea General de la ONU de 1975 intitulada ‘Sionismo es racismo’ (Resolución 337).

El secretario general de la ONU es nombrado por la Asamblea General, “por recomendación del Consejo de Seguridad”.

Ban Ki-moon viola su mandato. Debería ser despedido de su puesto por la Asamblea General.

Michel Chossudovsky es autor del superventas internacional La globalización de la pobreza, publicado en once idiomas. Es profesor de Economía en la Universidad de Ottawa y director del Centro de Investigación de la Globalización, en www.globalresearch.ca. También es colaborador de la Enciclopedia Británica. Su libro más reciente se titula America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, 2005.
Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens.
Artículo original publicado el 29 de mayo 2011.
Texto original:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon Should be Fired. Upholds the Violation of International Law. Abuses His UN Mandate.

VIDEO: Obama Sued for Violating War Powers Act

June 19th, 2011 by David Swanson

Irán: ¿”Cambio de Régimen” o Guerra Total?

June 18th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

El tablero de ajedrez geopolítico se está alineando hacia un enfrentamiento con Irán y sus aliados del Bloque de Resistencia. Este es sólo un teatro dentro de la lucha más amplia por el control de Eurasia. En el proceso existe un esfuerzo por parte de Washington y sus aliados de manipular el Islam y subordinarlo a los intereses capitalistas impulsando una nueva generación de islamistas entre los árabes.

Punto de Presión en Irán: ¿Oportunidad para EE.UU., la OTAN e Israel?

El sistema político de Irán es complejo y existen múltiples polos opuestos de poder. En 2009, el mundo ya vio una lucha interna entre la clase gobernante. Las divisiones aparecieron durante las protestas que se produjeron después de las elecciones presidenciales, cuando fueron presentadas las acusaciones de fraude.

La presidencia de Mahmud Ahmadineyad (que comenzó en 2005) estaba en conflicto con importantes sectores de la clase política de Irán. Su relación ha sido siempre tensa con los otros polos de poder en Teherán. En 2011, la presidencia de Irán ha entrado en creciente conflicto con el Parlamento, el Poder Judicial, y el ayatolá Alí Jamenei.

En el marco de estas tensiones políticas, se estaba formando otra lucha política interna iraní. Esta vez, el centro de atención es Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Las opiniones de Mashaei, quien es conocido como un político conservador, han estado en desacuerdo con otros conservadores, especialmente los elementos clericales. En 2009, Mashaei dio un discurso donde dijo que Irán era amigo de todos los pueblos del mundo, incluido el pueblo israelí, y que Teherán se oponía al régimen de Tel Aviv, y no al pueblo de Israel. Este fue reprochado por el ayatolá Jamenei.

En julio de 2009, el presidente Ahmadineyad, trató de nombrar a Mashaei como primer vicepresidente de Irán, pero la decisión fue rechazada por el parlamento iraní. Ahmadineyad se vio obligado a nombrar a Mohamed-Reza Rahimi como primer vicepresidente. En cambio Mashaei fue nombrado jefe de gabinete del presidente Ahmadineyad.

En abril de 2011, estalló un escándalo cuando se hizo público que el ministro de Inteligencia Heydar Moslehi había ordenado que Mashaei fuera objeto de vigilancia electrónica. Ahmadineyad indignado quería despedir al ministro de inteligencia, pero su decisión fue vetada por el ayatolá Jamenei. Mientras tanto, Heydar Moslehi se mantuvo en su posición.

Parece que ahora existe un esfuerzo concertado para debilitar al gobierno de Ahmadineyad y para evitar que Mashaei y otros candidatos obtengan un puesto. El General Alí Jaffari, comandante de la Guardia Revolucionaria Iraní, ha declarado públicamente que existen “elementos corruptos” en la oficina presidencial que se han desviado de los principios de la Revolución iraní. Alí Saidi, el enlace del ayatolá Jamenei en el Cuerpo de la Guardia Revolucionaria de Irán, también ha agregado su voz, y dijo que Ahmadineyad y su bando político perderá todo el apoyo a menos que siga comprometido con el ayatolá Jamenei.

Algún tipo de enfrentamiento político se cierne sobre Teherán. Parece que existe una creciente brecha entre los políticos e ideólogos conservadores iraníes. El presidente iraní y sus aliados políticos pretenden pavimentar el terreno a sus propios candidatos en las elecciones parlamentarias de marzo de 2012, lo que pondría en entredicho la agrupación actual de los así llamados conservadores en el Parlamento iraní.

Además de todo esto, la muerte de Haleh Sahabi, la hija del fallecido ex-miembro del Parlamento, Ezatollah Sahabi, en el funeral de su padre, ha encendido la ira de la oposición con amenazas de alimentar y provocar nuevas protestas.

Fuerzas de seguridad iraníes estuvieron presentes en el funeral para evitar que se convirtiera en un evento político contra de la clase dominante. En su presencia, Haleh Sahabi fue confrontada por un hombre desconocido, que tomó la imagen de su padre que llevaba durante el funeral. Cuando ella trató de agarrar al hombre, este le dio un codazo tan violentamente en la cara que murió de un ataque al corazón.

Todo esto podría jugar a favor de las manos de los enemigos de Irán. Existe una guerra secreta contra Irán que se está librando por parte de Washington y sus aliados, que incluye el secuestro de iraníes, el asesinato de científicos iraníes y agentes de seguridad, y ataques terroristas en las regiones fronterizas de Irán. Las divisiones internas en desarrollo en Teherán podrían ser aprovechadas por sus enemigos. Israel ya está mostrando un profundo interés en estas nuevas tensiones políticas en Teherán.

Cabe señalar que Tel Aviv y Washington se habían preparado para lanzar una campaña para deslegitimar las elecciones presidenciales en Irán en 2009 y la utilizaron para explotar las divisiones políticas internas en Irán. Aquello ha sido documentado por medios de comunicación israelíes. Además, esta es la razón por la cual el congreso estadounidense dio millones de dólares a petición de la secretaria Rice y el presidente George W. Bush Jr., para establecer una oficina de intereses especiales en los Emiratos Árabes Unidos para hacer frente a un cambio de régimen en Teherán.

  

Ejercicios Secretos de Israel en Irak: ¿Irán en la mira otra vez?

Desafiar a Teherán, que al igual que a Rusia, siempre ha sido un objetivo estratégico de Washington y la OTAN. Tel Aviv había finalizado un período de breve silencio sobre Teherán y ha comenzado a hablar de atacar a Irán nuevamente. Lo que ha añadido una dimensión extra a esto son los informes de que Estados Unidos ha permitido a Israel utilizar secretamente bases aéreas estadounidenses en Al-Anbar, Irak. Moqtada Al-Sadr ha advertido a Teherán sobre las operaciones israelíes-estadounidenses en Irak, que podrían escalar de alguna forma hacia planes de confrontación contra Irán, Siria y todo el Bloque de Resistencia desde Gaza, Beirut y Jbeil Bint a Damasco, Basora, Mosul, y Teherán.

Una estructura militar, que está vinculada a la OTAN, también se ha puesto a trabajar para atacar a Irán, Siria y sus aliados. En virtud de diversos acuerdos la OTAN ha establecido un punto de apoyo en el Golfo Pérsico y vínculos militares con el Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo (CCG). Francia también tiene una base en los Emiratos Árabes Unidos. El CCG también se está preparando para expandirse. Tanto los reinos de Marruecos y Jordania han hecho solicitudes para unirse, mientras Yemen también está siendo considerado a la adhesión. Con ser miembros del CCG se adquiere una estructura de defensa común.

Al mismo tiempo, los miembros del CCG están culpando a Irán por sus problemas internos.

La alianza estratégica entre Israel y los Al-Saud se formó originalmente para combatir a Gamal Abdel Nasser, y también se ha posicionado para la implementación de un conflicto más amplio dirigido contra Irán y sus aliados.

Escudos de misiles se encuentran ahora en su lugar en Israel y los emiratos árabes. Embarques masivos de armamento pesado han sido enviados a Israel, Arabia Saudita y los países del CCG por parte de Washington y las principales potencias de la Unión Europea en los últimos años.

Ankara: ¿El Hombre Interior?

Hay otro actor importante del que se debe hablar: Turquía. Washington y la Unión Europea han empujado a Turquía para que sea más activa en el mundo árabe. Esto ha florecido a través de la política de neo-otomanismo de Ankara. Esta es el por qué Turquía se ha posicionado a sí misma como defensora de Palestina y puso en marcha un canal en lengua árabe al igual que Irán y Rusia.

Ankara, sin embargo, ha estado jugando un papel nefasto. Turquía es socia en la guerra de la OTAN en Libia. La posición del gobierno turco ha puesto de manifiesto su traición a Trípoli. Ankara también ha estado trabajando con Qatar en arrinconar al régimen sirio. El gobierno turco ha estado presionando a Damasco a cambiar sus políticas a favor de Washington y parece que, posiblemente, incluso tiene un papel en las protestas dentro de Siria con los Al-Saud, el campo de la minoría Hariri en el Líbano, y Qatar. Turquía es todavía sede de las reuniones de la oposición, brindándoles apoyo.

Turquía es vista en Washington y Bruselas como la clave para alinear a los iraníes y a los árabes. El gobierno turco ha estado desfilando como miembro del Bloque de Resistencia con el respaldo de Irán y Siria. Los estrategas de proyectos estadounidenses dicen que será Turquía la que domesticará a Irán y Siria para Washington. Turquía también sirve como medio de integración de las economías árabes y de Irán con la economía de la Unión Europea. En este sentido, Ankara ha estado presionando por un área de libre comercio en el suroeste asiático y conseguir que iraníes y sirios abran sus economías a la misma.

En realidad, el gobierno turco no sólo ha profundizado los lazos económicos con Teherán y Damasco, sino que también ha estado trabajando en eclipsar la influencia iraní. Ankara ha tratado situarse entre Irán y Siria y desafiar la influencia iraní en Irak, Líbano, Palestina, el Cáucaso y Asia Central. Turquía también trató de establecer una triple entente entre ellos mismos, Siria, Qatar y quitarle Siria a Teherán. Por esta razón, Turquía ha estado verbalmente muy activa contra Israel, pero en realidad ha mantenido su alianza y acuerdos militares con Tel Aviv. Dentro de la propia Turquía, sin embargo, también existe una lucha interna por el poder que algún día podría encender una guerra civil con múltiples actores.

Preparando el Tablero: Confrontación contra el Bloque de Resistencia

Todos los ingredientes para una confrontación militar encabezada por Estados Unidos están en su lugar:

- La iranofobia está siendo propagada por Estados Unidos, la Unión Europea, Israel y las monarquías Khaliji.

- Se está promoviendo el sectarismo en toda la región.

- Hamás ha caído en los mecanismos de un gobierno de unidad del no electo Mahmoud Abbas, lo que significa que Hamas tendría que ser condescendiente con las demandas de Israel y Estados Unidos a la Autoridad Palestina.

- Siria tiene sus manos ocupadas con la inestabilidad interna, mientras Irán y Hezbolá están siendo falsamente acusados de disparar contra manifestantes sirios.

- Líbano carece de un gobierno que funcione y Hezbolá está cada vez más cercado. En lugar de ser tratado como una cuestión interna del Líbano, las armas de la resistencia libanesa se están convirtiendo también en un problema internacional.

- Israel, Arabia Saudita y las monarquías árabes han sido fuertemente armadas en los últimos años.

- Pakistán ha sido desestabilizado.

- Se han generado divisiones internas en el Bloque de Resistencia.

- Rusia y sus aliados de la OTSC están siendo intimidados por las bases y el escudo antimisiles de Estados Unidos y la OTAN en Europa del Este.

- La Administración Obama ha declarado su intención de violar las fronteras nacionales de otros países que considere terroristas. En este sentido, la Guardia Revolucionaria de Irán ha sido declarada una organización terrorista.

- En 2010, la Administración Obama redefinió creativamente el Tratado de No Proliferación Nuclear (TNP) para servir a sus intereses geoestratégicos. Declaró que tenía derechos para violar el TNP atacando a Irán con armas nucleares.

- Los sistemas de escudo antimisiles en Israel, el Golfo Pérsico y Turquía están preparados o estarán pronto en su lugar.
En la actualidad se está librando una guerra entre Washington, Tel Aviv, los Al-Saud y sus aliados contra el Bloque de Resistencia. Esta guerra no es una guerra convencional, puesto que incluye la guerra de bajo espectro y operaciones de inteligencia. Los combates con Fatal al-Islam en Líbano y los ataques terroristas de Jundullah en el este de Irán son las facetas de esta guerra, así como el deseo de cambio de régimen en Siria.

Cualquier posible guerra contra Irán o Siria no se librará de forma aislada. Si son atacados en una guerra abierta, Siria e Irán lucharán al mismo tiempo.

En la eventualidad de una gran guerra con la participación de Siria, Irán y sus aliados regionales, las posibilidades de revolución y disturbios en el mundo árabe son ciertas. Se podría decir que los levantamientos árabes de 2011 han obrado en prevenir que las sociedades árabes se enciendan en caso de una guerra regional, lo que presenta al Pentágono, Israel y la OTAN una nueva oportunidad estratégica para la confrontación.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya se especializa en el Medio Oriente y Asia Central. Es Investigador Asociado al Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Artículo original publicado el 14 de junio 2011.
Original en:
Iran: “Regime Change” or All Out War?

Escalation militare: “fase due” della guerra in Libia

June 18th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Una nuova fase della guerra sta conducendo al processo di escalation militare che si concluderà con lo sbarco di commandos USA-NATO sulle coste della Libia. Uno spiegamento senza precedenti di potenza navale nel Mediterraneo è in corso. Il 1° giugno, gli Stati membri dell’Alleanza Atlantica (NATO), a Bruxelles hanno deciso di “rinnovare la missione“, vale a dire estendere la guerra alla Libia, “per altri 90 giorni, fino a tutto settembre”.

Dall’inizio della guerra il 19 marzo, più di 10.000 sortite sono state condotte. La NATO riconosce un totale di 9.036 sortite, tra cui 3.443 attacchi, nel corso di di due mesi, (31 marzo 2011-31 maggio 2011). Le operazioni militari non sono più limitate a una campagna di bombardamenti ad alta quota, dove gli obiettivi degli attacchi sono “pre-approvati” e pianificati in anticipo. Il dispiegamento di elicotteri e aerei per le operazioni a bassa quota è già previsto. Questi ultimi supporteranno lo schieramento di commando USA-NATO e le forze ribelli a terra.

Ciò che si sta svolgendo è una escalation delle operazioni militari, che nello stesso tempo sta portando ad una guerra di lunga durata. La Superportaerei USS George H. W. Bush, la nave più avanzata nel arsenale navale statunitense, insieme con il suo gruppo imbarcato e d’attacco, è entrata nel Mediterraneo, per unirsi alla Sesta Flotta a Napoli. La Superportaerei USS George HW Bush (CVN77) è la più grande nave da guerra del mondo: con “quattro ettari e mezzo di spazio sul suo ponte di volo, che la rende in grado di ospitare 90 aerei ed elicotteri. Ha un equipaggio di 5.500 effettivi“. Dotata di sofisticati sistemi di guerra elettronica, è la più grande “base militare mobile” del mondo (Manlio Dinucci, “Stivali sul terreno”: Sarkozy e Cameron preparano lo sbarco in Libia, Global Research, 31 maggio 2011). Il USS George HW Bush Carrier Strike Group è stato inviato per il suo “viaggio inaugurale” nell’area delle operazioni navali della Sesta Flotta, vale a dire il Mediterraneo. E’ stato “certificato pronto per le operazioni di combattimento“, un mese prima dell’inizio della guerra in Libia. (USS George HW Bush Strike Group Certified Combat Ready, 21 febbraio 2011)

Sottomettere totalmente il nemico

Le dimensioni della Superportaerei USS George HW Bush, i suoi avanzati sistemi d’arma, le sue capacità distruttive, per non parlare del suo costo, sono l’espressione pura e semplice delle folli ambizioni imperiali degli USA. Sotto la dottrina “Shock and Awe“, la USS George H. W. Bush è destinato a scioccare e sottomettere totalmente il nemico.

Escalation militare

Dall’inizio della guerra, il 19 marzo, più di 10.000 sortite sono state condotte. La NATO riconosce un totale di 9.036 sortite, tra cui 3.443 attacchi nel corso di due mesi (31 marzo 2011-31 maggio 2011). Con lo schieramento della USS George HW Bush e del suo Carrier Strike Group, insieme ad altri navi da guerra alleate, una nuova fase della guerra si sta aprendo.
Le operazioni militari non sono più limitate a una campagna di bombardamento ad alta quota, dove gli obiettivi degli attacchi erano “pre-approvati” e pianificati in anticipo. Il dispiegamento di elicotteri e aerei le operazioni a bassa quota, è previsto. Questi ultimi supporteranno lo schieramento dei commando USA-NATO e le forze ribelli a terra.

La HMS Ocean inglese, inviata a Cipro, è una portaelicotteri equipaggiata con elicotteri Apache. Gli Apache saranno inviati dalla HMS Ocean, la più grande nave da guerra della Gran Bretagna. A metà maggio, si sono svolte esercitazioni navali al largo della costa di Cipro che coinvolgevano navi da guerra delle marine britannica e olandese, con la HMS Ocean che giocava un ruolo centrale come portaelicotteri. “L’esercitazione includeva la difesa aerea e il tiro dal vivo in mare, con esercitazioni anfibie nelle acque costiere”.

A sua volta, la Francia ha confermato che avrebbe schierato i suoi elicotteri da combattimento Tiger. Possiamo quindi aspettarci, nelle settimane a venire, un importante cambiamento nella natura delle operazioni militari; l’invio di commando in sostegno delle operazioni di terra, con lo schieramento di elicotteri e aerei a bassa quota, giocano un ruolo importante. (Questi voli a bassa quota non saranno limitati ai droni Predator). La natura delle operazioni aeree sarà, pertanto, più mirata. L’obiettivo dichiarato è di “portare la campagna aerea più vicina al terreno“. La Superportaerei USS G. H. W. Bush e il suo gruppo d’attacco giocheranno un ruolo chiave nell’attuazione della fase successiva della guerra.

Simulare il teatro di guerra del Mediterraneo: l’esercitazione “Saxon Warrior

Nella settimana prima del suo “viaggio inaugurale” nel Mediterraneo, la USS G. HW Bush (CVN77) insieme con il suo Carrier Strike Group 2, ha partecipato alle esercitazioni di guerra su vasta scala al largo della costa della Cornovaglia (UK), sotto l’egida della Royal Navy (19-26 maggio 2011). Soprannominato “Exercise Saxon Warrior“, i giochi di guerra sono stato effettuate in un ambiente marittimo, con la partecipazione di navi da guerra inglesi, statunitensi, francesi, tedesche, svedesi e spagnole. Tutto sommato, i giochi di guerra hanno visto la partecipazione di 26 unità navali distinte. (EGFE Movements Exercise Saxon Warrior).

Sul suo significato, la “Saxon Warrior” è tra le più grandi esercitazioni condotte dalla Royal Navy, in stretto collegamento con la Marina degli Stati Uniti, la NATO e il Pentagono:

[Sono] destinate a perfezionare le competenze del Bush Carrier Strike Group… in modo che possa cooperare senza problemi con le forze europee, nel corso della sua implementazione corrente. [Nel Mediterraneo nei confronti della Libia ((MC)]”

“Il George HW Bush Strike Group è ben preparato a questa missione”, ha detto l’ammiraglio Nora Tyson, il comandante della gruppo navale – e la prima donna ammiraglio di una forza portaerei statunitense. “Siamo felici di essere protagonisti di Saxon Warrior. Rappresenta l’occasione ideale per tutte le navi del gruppo per migliorare la nostra capacità di operare, in modo trasparente ed efficace, con le altre unità della NATO.” (George Bush bound for Portsmouth after war games with Royal Navy, navynews.co.uk)

I giochi di guerra hanno una relazione diretta con la “guerra vera“. Saxon Warrior ha simulato sia la struttura di comando multi-nazionale, nonché la configurazione della guerra navale condotta dalla NATO nel Mediterraneo, ossia in termini di eventuali operazioni della marina e dell’aviazione, dello schieramento di elicotteri e di possibili forze di terra. I 5500 marinai a bordo della USS George HW Bush sono destinati ad essere utilizzati in caso di sbarco commando in territorio nemico:

[Saxon Warrior è] “un’esercitazione per sviluppare specifiche competenze di combattimento di teatro, ma anche a rafforzare la cooperazione tra le forze multi-nazionali e le agenzie governative… Saxon Warrior presenta una miriade di sfide, per la forza multi-nazionale e multi-piattaforma, poste dalla creazione di un ambiente di guerra vario e imprevedibile basato su di scenari geo-politici e militari fittizi.” (George HW Bush Strike Group Participates in Saxon Warrior.)

Mentre viene condotta sotto l’egida della Marina britannica, esercitazioni  di aeromobili militari che volano a bassa quota e di elicotteri sono state effettuate anche nel Sud Ovest dell’Inghilterra e nel Galles, simulando le condizioni di un fittizio paese nemico. L’attenzione sugli elicotteri e le operazioni di volo a bassa quota è pienamente coerente con la fase successiva della guerra in Libia (come detto in precedenza).

L’esercitazione “Saxon Warrior” è vista dai militari USA volta a fornire “un’opportunità, come forza dispiegata, ad integrare i partner della coalizione nella nostra struttura di comando, cosa che viene effettuata per la prima volta“, (capitano Patrick O. Shea, Ufficiale Comandante della USS Gettysburg. Military News: Gettysburg Participates in Saxon Warrior, 24 maggio 2011).

Mentre la Royal Navy ha coordinato i giochi di guerra, la forza navale statunitense, in termini di schieramento militare e di “strutture di comando simulate” era di gran lunga il giocatore chiave. L’esercitazione di otto giorni ha coinvolto scenari di “singole missioni” in solitario “che comprendevano combattimenti di superficie, sottomarini e aerei.” L’ultimo giorno, il 26 maggio, è culminato “con una guerra simulata” in un ambiente marittimo.

Mentre sulla base di “finti” scenari geopolitici e militari, i partecipanti a “Saxon Warrior” erano profondamente consapevoli che si stavano addestrando per la guerra in Libia:

Ci stiamo addestrando in una operazione di sbarco, in modo da migliorare la nostra disponibilità, se dovremo essere coinvolti in operazioni reali”. (Ibid.)
Saxon Warrior presenta l’opportunità di affrontare una varietà di situazioni geopolitiche che cambiano di giorno in giorno…

“Saxon Warrior ci offre un ambiente stimolante in cui utilizzare le nostre abilità di combattere una guerra”. “Dobbiamo pensare in fretta al di fuori della scatola. Più agili siamo, più saremo pronti per qualsiasi missione che si presenterà durante lo sbarco. Questa è la bellezza di Saxon Warrior”.

“La bellezza di operare con i partner della coalizione è che facciamo pratica con loro, impariamo i loro punti di forza e, quindi, leghiamo questi punti di forza insieme per avere la più potente coalizione di forze possibile.” (George HW Bush Strike Group participates in Saxon Warrior 11. Norfolknavyflagship.com, 26 maggio 2011)

L’asse militare anglo-statunitense

Questi giochi di guerra sono parte di un quadro di una avanzate cooperazione militare tra Londra e Washington, che prevede l’integrazione di fatto delle strutture di comando britannica e statunitense. I giochi di guerra sono stati pianificati per coincidere con la visita di Stato ufficiale del presidente Barack Obama nel Regno Unito, per evidenziare la “Special Relationship” tra Gran Bretagna e America. Significativo, le riunioni ad alto livello tra il presidente Barack Obama e il primo ministro David Cameron, hanno portato  alla costituzione formale di un comune National Security Board, con il compito di coordinare il processo decisionale militare, nonché la politica estera. Guidato dai consiglieri di sicurezza nazionale degli Stati Uniti e della Gran Bretagna, l’articolazione dell’Ufficio della Sicurezza Nazionale è intesa a consolidare ulteriormente l’asse militare anglo-statunitense.

La prossima fase della guerra in Libia

Ciò che si sta svolgendo è una escalation delle operazioni militari, che nello stesso tempo sta portando ad una guerra di lunga durata. Questo cambiamento nella direzione delle operazioni militari, orientata al sostegno aereo e elicottero dei commandos degli “scarponi sul terreno“, non porterà necessariamente ad una invasione totale, almeno nel futuro prevedibile.

L’USS G. HW Bush e il suo gruppo avranno un ruolo chiave nel sostenere le operazioni di terra attraverso le sortite di elicotteri e aerei a bassa quota.

La portaerei George HW Bush è affiancata da un gruppo di battaglia composto dai cacciatorpediniere lanciamissili Truxtun e Mitscher, dagli incrociatori lanciamissili Gettysburg e Anzio e da otto squadroni aerei, che andranno a rafforzare la Sesta Flotta, il cui comando è a Napoli, assieme ad altre unità, compresi i sottomarini nucleari Providence, Florida e Scranton. Si sono anche aggiunti alla Sesta Flotta uno dei più potenti gruppi di assalto anfibio, guidato dalla USS Bataan, che da sola può sbarcare più di 2.000 marine, dotati di elicotteri e aerei a decollo verticale, artiglieria e carri armati. E’ affiancata da altre due navi d’assalto anfibio, la Mesa Verde e la Whidbey Island, che il 13-18 maggio hanno visitato Taranto, in Italia. La Whidbey Island ha quattro enormi hovercraft da sbarco che sono in grado di inviare 200 uomini, assai rapidamente verso la costa di un paese, entro un raggio di 300 miglia, senza che la nave sia visibile da terra”. (Manlio Dinucci, “Stivali sul terreno”: Sarkozy e Cameron preparano lo sbarco in Libia, Global Research, 31 Maggio 2011)

Le forze speciali sono sul campo, in Libia, dall’inizio della campagna aerea. Anche forze mercenarie a contratto della NATO vi sono schierate. (Cfr. Manlio Dinucci, Un esercito di mercenari per il Medio Oriente e il Nord Africa, Global Research, 24 maggio 2011).

“Shock and Awe”

Come parte della strategia “Shock and Awe“, le bombe anti-bunker BLU-109 da 1000 kg vengono sganciate sulla Libia dai caccia Tornado della RAF della Gran Bretagna. Shock and Awe è parte della “dottrina del dominio rapido” o della “forza decisiva“, utilizzato per intimidire l’avversario fino alla sottomissione, così come a terrorizzare la popolazione civile. (Vedasi video)

Armi nucleari contro la Libia
Vale la pena notare che l’uso di armi nucleari tattiche, nello Shock and Awe contro la Libia, è prevista come parte di questa “guerra umanitaria“. Nel 1996, la Libia è stato il “paese prescelto” del Medio Oriente e Nord Africa per essere preso di mira dalle  armi nucleari tattiche B61-11. Quest’ultima è una bomba distruggi-bunker dotata di una testata nucleare.

Il piano per bombardare con armi nucleari la Libia non è mai stato abbandonato. Di massima importanza, poco dopo l’inizio della campagna di bombardamenti del 19 marzo, il Pentagono ha ordinato la verifica della funzionalità delle bombe nucleari B61-11. Questi test sono stati condotti impiegando gli Stealth Bomber B2, della stessa base militare del Missouri utilizzata per coordinare i bombardamenti degli Stealth B2 sulla Libia, all’inizio della guerra, il 19 marzo. (Vedasi Michel Chossudovsky, Dangerous Crossroads: Is America Considering the Use of Nuclear Weapons against Libya? Global Research, 7 aprile 2011)
Questi vari sviluppi puntano ad un pericoloso processo di escalation militare, che potrebbe potenzialmente estendersi oltre i confini della Libia. Le  implicazioni economiche e geo-strategiche di questa guerra sono enormi. 

NOTA

Il George H.W. Bush Strike Group è composto da:
Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Stormo Imbarcato (CVW) 8
Squadrone Cacciatorpediniere (DESRON) 22 componenti
Incrociatori lanciamissili USS Gettysburg (CG 64) e USS Anzio (CG 68),
Cacciatorpediniere lanciamissili USS Truxtun (DDG 103) e USS Mitscher (DDG 57)
 
Traduzione di Alessandro LattanzioAurora03.da.ru

O próximo palco da guerra estadunidense: Síria e Líbano?

June 18th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Washington e seus aliados, Israel e os al-Sauds [1]  estão levando a vantagem em todos os levantes no Mundo Árabe. Eles estão agora trabalhando para desmantelar o Bloco de Resistência e enfraquecer qualquer rumo para a democracia no Mundo Árabe. O tabuleiro de xadrez geopolítico está em vias de se preparar para um longo confronto cujo alvo será Teerã e inclui a Síria, o Líbano, o Iraque e os palestinos.

Amarrando as Mãos do Hezbollah Através de Pressão Interna e Externa

Existe um impasse em relação à formação de um governo libanês. Michel Sleiman que mantém a presidência e o novo primeiro ministro libanês [2] estão retardando a formação do gabinete em uma disputa política com Michel Aoun, o líder do Movimento Patriótico de Libertação.

É possível que a formação do novo gabinete libanês esteja atrasado para que, deliberadamente, o Líbano fique neutralizado no fronte da política internacional.

O Conselho de Segurança da ONU e alguns corpos desta instituição são totalmente submissos aos Estados Unidos ea União Europeia para pressionar o Líbano. O Secretário Geral, Ban Ki-moon, recebe suas ordens de Washington e tem contribuído providenciando e legitimando as guerras dos EUA e da OTAN. Moscou tem acusado abertamente Ban Ki-moon de traição por seus negócios secretos com a OTAN em 2008.

E é neste o contexto que a ONU é utilizada como um fórum insidioso que tenta internacionalizar a questão das armas em posse da Resistência Libanesa com o objetivo de desarmá-la. Apesar do fato da Resolução 1559 não estar mais ativa o Representante Especial para a Implementação da Resolução 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, continua ativo e emitindo relatórios contra o Hezbollah.

Os comissários da ONU para o Líbano se assemelham a figuras coloniais que, sem serem convidados, fazem editais em Beirute e trabalham como agente de Washington, Bruxelas e Tel Aviv. O Tribunal Especial do Líbano (STL), que possui uma divisão inteira no Departamento de Estado dos EUA, também é uma arma política carregada que Washington planeja usar contra o Líbano ea Síria.

Um tribunal internacional foi formado devidas circunstancias do assassinato de Rafic al-Hariri. Apesar de não ter havido uma declaração da posição oficial acerca deste assassinato um tribunal inteiro foi criado exclusivamente para este caso. Por outro lado, a chamada comunidade internacional não se interessou em constituir nenhum tipo de tribunal para investigar o assassinato de milhares de pessoas mortas no Líbano. O que isso diz a respeito do STL e da busca pela justiça?

A Força Interina das Nações Unidas no Líbano (UNIFIL) também tem sido cúmplice de violações israelenses contra o Líbano. Mesmo a Assistência Humanitária das Nações Unidas e Agência de Obras para os Refugiados Palestinos no Oriente Próximo (UNRAW) tem sido infiltradas por funcionários que apoiam os crimes israelenses contra os palestinos e os libaneses. Isso foi demonstrado por Christopher Gunnes, o porta-voz da UNRAW, em sua entrevista com militares israelenses, em 15 de maio de 2011. Enquanto a israelense IDF disparava em manifestantes civis desarmados durante o dia de Nakba de 2011 (3) Gunness reafirmou que a UNRAW está trabalhando para os interesses da segurança nacional de Israel, enquanto acusa os palestinos de cometer atos terroristas contra Israel. Mesmo o cerco de Israel à Faixa de Gaza foi tratado com cal pelo porta-voz da UNRAW.

A abstenção de um novo gabinete no Líbano tem permitido que Saad Hariri ea Aliança de 14 de Março de continuar a ter uma mão terrificante no controle dos negócios Libaneses. Isso apenas dá mais tempo para o STL que pode prosseguir sem ser desafiado por um governo libanês em Beirute que possa vir a ser hostil ao STL. Um novo governo em Beirute pode certamente ser questão de legitimidade para o STL.

Além disso, as Forças de Segurança Internacionais (ISF) do Líbano também são utilizadas por Saad Hariri contra o Hezbollah e os oponentes políticos da família de Hariri. A ISF pode então ter uma mão no trabalho contra Damasco, ajudando a promover a violência na Síria. A ISF recebe suas ordens diretamente da família Hariri.

Por causa da liberdade dada à Saad Hariri ea seus compinchas (em grande parte pela falta de um gabinete em funcionamento em Beirute), Ziad Baroud, o atual Ministro do Interior do Líbano, se recusou a assinar qualquer outro papel de seu ministério. Baroud tomou sua posição, pois, acredita que a ISF está atuando secretamente e sem a sua aprovação ou supervisão. A este respeito, a ISF se recusou a seguir qualquer ordem de Ziad Baroud para permitir Charbel al-Nahhas, o atual Ministro das Telecomunicações do Líbano, de entrar no sede da ISF para checagem de rotina. A ISF está claramente tentando esconder suas operações e está agindo para prevenir que al-Nahhas e sua equipe entrem em certos lugares do sede ISF.

Também não é segredo que o Líbano seja um covil de agentes de inteligência e detetives dos Estados Unidos, da União Europeia, de Israel, da Jordânia e da Arábia Saudita. Seus objetivos são desmantelar e controlar o Hezbollah e sua coalizão.

Em 2006, durante o bombardeio de Israel ao Líbano as membros das embaixadas da União Européia também estavam coletando dados contra o Hezbollah. Os sauditas ajudaram a facilitar as conexões entre Israel ea rede de espiões no Líbano. Isso é demonstrado pela clara conexão entre o Sheikh Mohammed Ali Husseim, o clérigo xiita capturado trabalhando para Israel e os Al-Sauds.

Em sintonia com tudo isso, o Hezbollah é constantemente acusado de ser um instrumento do Irã. Recentemente, o Hezbollah foi acusado, juntamente com o Irã, de ter incitando protestos no Golfo Pérsico, especificamente no Barein e nas áreas dominadas pelos xiitas na Arábia Saudita. A respeito disso os cidadãos libaneses, independentemente de sua fé na maioria dos casos, também tem sido apontados pelo regime de Khaliji e expelidos do Golfo Pérsico. Isto é parte de uma carta sectarista para criar divisões regionais e ódio. Hariri ironicamente acusa o Irã de interferir no Barein no mesmo momento em que os sauditas militares invadiram a Ilha Estado para manter o poder de al-Khalifas.

Os territórios dos sheiks do petróleo no Golfo Pérsico agora estão sistematicamente proibindo cidadãos libaneses, sírios, iraquianos e iranianos de cruzar suas fronteiras. O Kuwait se justificou dizendo que eles podem causar problemas ao Kuwait devido a instabilidade política de seus países.

Desestabilizando a Síria

Damasco está sob a pressão de capitular aos editos de Washington e da Nação Europeia. Isto faz parte de um projeto de longa data. Troca de regime ou subordinação voluntária do regime sírio são os objetivos. Isso inclui a subordinação da política internacional da Síria ea desconexão da Síria com a aliança estratégica com o Irã e os outros membros do Bloco de Resistência.

A Síria é governada por uma oligarquia autoritária que utiliza da força bruta nas negociações com seus cidadãos. Os conflitos na Síria, no entanto, são complexos. Eles não podem ser vistos unicamente como uma questão de liberdade e democracia. Existe também a intenção dos Estados Unidos e da União Europeia de utilizar estes conflitos na Síria para pressionar e intimidar seus líderes. A Arábia Saudita, Israel, a Jordânia ea Aliança de 14 de Março também desempenham seu papel apoiando a insurreição armada.

Os al-Sauds também ajudaram a sufocar qualquer chamado autentico por reforma democrática e marginalizar os elementos democráticos da oposição na Síria durante os protestos e conflitos. A respeito disto os Al-Sauds tem apoiado duas facções sectárias bem como elementos terroristas que questionam as fundações de tolerância religiosa na Síria. Estes elementos são em sua maioria extremistas Salafitas, como o Fatah al-Islam e os nomos movimentos políticos extremistas que estão se organizando no Egito. Eles também tem combatido contra os Alaítas, os Drusos e os Cristãos sírios.

A violência na Síria é apoiada externamente com a visão das vantagens que geram as tensões internas ea raiva na Síria. Além da reação violenta do Exército Sírio, a mídia esta usando mentiras e imagens falsas vão ao ar. Dinheiro e armas também tem sido enviados aos elementos de oposição ao governo sírio pelos Estados Unidos, pela União Europeia e pela Aliança de 14 de Março, pela Jordânia e pelos Khalijils. Fundos também são providenciados por figuras sinistras e impopulares da oposição que estão fora do país, enquanto as armas entram ilegalmente na Síria através da Jordânia e do Líbano.

Os eventos que ocorrem na Síria também são amarrados ao Irã, o aliado estratégico de Damasco desde longa data. Não é por acaso que o Senador Lieberman pede publicamente que a administração de Obama ea OTAN ataquem a Síria eo Irã como estão atacando a Líbia. Também não é coincidência que o Irã seja incluído nas sanções contra a Síria. As mãos do governo Sírio e de seu Exército estão amarradas internacionalmente, como uma nova e ampla ofensiva que está sendo preparada e cujo objetivo é a Síria eo Irã.

A Síria e os Campos de Gás Levantinos do Leste Mediterrâneo

A Síria é a peça central de dois importantes corredores de energia. O primeiro liga a Turquia eo Cáspio a Israel e ao Mar Vermelho, eo segundo liga o Iraque ao Mediterrâneo. A rendição da Síria pode significar que Washington e seus aliados irão controlar estas rotas. Isto também pode significar que os grandes campos de gás natural da costa libanesa e síria do leste mediterrâneo podem ficar fora do alcance da China e passem a se dirigir para a União Europeia, Israel e Estados Unidos.

Os campos de gás do Leste Mediterrâneo tem sido ponto de negociação entre a União Europeia, a Turquia, o Irã, a Síria eo Líbano. Além do gasoduto Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), a existência dos campos de gás levantinos também são o motivo pelo qual o Kremlin criou uma base militar na Síria para a Federação Russa. Isto foi feito pela melhoria das bases navais da Síria na era soviética. Além disso, o Irã se comprometeu em explorar e ajudar a desenvolver estes campos de gás naturais levantinos pela costa para Beirute e Damasco.

A reconciliação entre o Hamas eo Fatah

Existe uma forte correlação entre a guerra no Sudoeste da Ásia ea crescente conversa em nível oficial entre as lideranças palestinas. A esperança da criação de um Estado Palestino já foi utilizada duas vezes como uma válvula de escape no Mundo Árabe da tensão criada pelos preparativos da guerra contra o Iraque. Da primeira vez com o George H.W. Bush (pai) e na segunda vez com o George W. Bush (filho) que foi aplaudido por ser o primeiro presidente dos EUA a falar seriamente em um Estado Palestino.

Como se desse uma guinada em sua posição, Obama está também falando em um Estado Palestino. Além disso, a aproximação entre o Hamas eo Fatah tem colaborado com a contagem regressiva em caminho ao inicio do reconhecimento internacional de um Estado palestino. Os israelenses também têm liberado os fundos congelados palestinos, que eles se recusavam a liberar enquanto durasse o Hamas.

A reaproximação entre o Fatah eo Hamas também te servido para amarrar as mãos do Hamas. O Hamas terá de tomar cuidado para não se tornar efetivamente um membro Junior de um governo palestino sob ocupação israelense. O Hamas precisa efetivamente modificar sua posição em relação a sociedade de uma unidade de governo com o Fatah. Com toda a probabilidade Tel Aviv e Washington buscam impor o Fatah como a mais poderosa autoridade palestina. Em outras palavras, o Hamas está sendo domesticado indiretamente por Israel e Washington.

Instabilidade no Paquistão

O pronunciamento de que Osama bin Laden foi morto pelas forças dos Estados Unidos contribuiu com o processo da secreta desestabilização política no Paquistão. Houve um esforço calculado para que Osama bin Laden fosse apresentado como uma figura popular e venerada pelos muçulmanos. Isto é, com a visão que apoie o chamado “Choque entre Civilizações”.

Ao mesmo tempo em que o governo dos Estados Unidos começa uma campanha midiática contra o Paquistão, Islamabad é mostrada como um abrigo para Osama bin Laden e sua rede al-Qa’idah. Na realidade o envolvimento do Paquistão com os terroristas foi ordenado e dirigido por Washington. Esta é uma história muito mais complicada que isto, mas, o que está acontecendo na realidade é que a nação paquistanesa se tornou alvo de desmantelamento.

O desmantelamento ea desestabilização do Paquistão poderão servir a três objetivos:

1. Promovendo o cenário de guerra com o Irã: O Paquistão não poderia estar sob a ameaça de ser tomada por revolucionários, que poderiam estar do lado do Irã e seus aliados.

2. A segmentação dos interesses chineses no Paquistão, incluindo o corredor de energia do Irã para a China (eo porto chinês em Gwadas), que transita pelo Paquistão.

3. Desestabilização regional em uma área chave da Eurásia onde o Sudoeste da Ásia, a Ásia Central eo subcontinente indiano se encontram. Esta área se estende do Irã e Afeganistão para o Paquistão, a Índia e ao Oeste da China.

Ao mesmo tempo Washington também quer neutralizar o programa nuclear paquistanês.

Os Estados Unidos também anunciaram que possuem o direito de violar os limites nacionais dos países que abrigam terroristas, bem como o de enviar tropas a estes países como parte da “guerra ao terrorismo”.  Hillary Clinton justificou o posicionamento de Washington dizendo que as forças americanas poderão assassinar terroristas. Isto é meramente uma porta de entrada para a criação de um pretexto para a intervenção militar em países como o Irã, onde as Guardas Revolucionarias são designadas como organizações terroristas pelos Estados Unidos, ou na Síria, onde grupos de palestinos exilados também são designados como organizações terroristas por Washington.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya é Investigador Associado do Centro de Investigação da Globalização (CRG) especializado em assuntos geopolíticos e estratégicos.
Traduzido para Diário Liberdade por E.R. Saracino.
O original encontra-se em (Global Research, 10 de Junho de 2011):
America’s Next War Theater: Syria and Lebanon?

Notas do Tradutor:

1  – Dinastia saudita

2  – Najib Mikati

3  – Dia de Nakba é o dia em que Palestinos protestam contra a formação do Estado de Israel.

BEIJING: The United States recently took a series of aggressive actions related to the Internet, targeting other governments rather than terrorists or criminals.

These moves have undermined global trust, which is critical to build international consensus and carry out a coordinated policy response on cyberspace safety issues.

The United States is playing a “cat-and-mouse game” on the web, said Michael Posner, U.S. assistant secretary of state in charge of human rights, on May 10, adding the government would spend 19 million U.S. dollars to develop new tools to break online firewalls erected by other states.

“If you (a country) shut down our power grid (through the Internet), maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” an unnamed U.S. military official told the Wall Street Journal in late May, regardless of the fact that the hackers’ attack may have its origins in another country rather than the place where the smokestacks are located in.

Furthermore, British media reported that the United States was developing non-English software that will allow it to secretly manipulate social media to influence Internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

These moves, disrespectful of the sovereignty of other nations, have aroused the legitimate concern of other governments. The Internet has been an important platform for the global economy after its fast growth during the last 30 years. It is not surprising that few countries want to solely depend on a single state to maintain Internet safety and that most stakeholders expect a balance of power in cyberspace.

The U.S. unilateral actions to expand its online arsenal and flex muscles may push other players to resort to both offensive and defensive technology in cyberspace. And a cyber arms race could end up in a lose-lose situation, in which countries attack each other’s essential systems and the Internet would be fragmented, instead of forming one big cyber community.

In fact, governments, companies, organizations and individuals are all facing safety challenges on the Internet now. By effectively addressing the disputes, the priority of cyberspace governance should be to find common ground, build international consensus and encourage concerted efforts among stakeholders. Also, international cooperation on the Internet is possible since we all call for cracking down on cybercrime.

As in other areas, international cooperation in cyberspace has to be based on global trust, which helps stakeholders overcome the differences in cultures, ideologies and goals.

However, the United States, the only superpower in cyberspace like in the traditional domains, still seems to be stuck in a Cold War mentality. Instead of helping to make cyberspace an area where different countries can safely and peacefully interact, the United States has helped transform it into yet another battleground.

Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
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MOSCOW: The White House is gathering information on alleged human rights abuses by Syrian security forces for possible consideration by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website, quoting U.S. officials.

“We’re consulting on that internally and regionally,” an unidentified U.S. official was quoted by the paper as saying.

The Obama administration is also exploring ways to more directly target Syria’s oil and gas revenues, a major source of income for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle, the paper said.

“Assad is pushing his country on the path of being a pariah state,” the U.S. official said. “We are operating in a number of ways to increase the pressure” on him, he added.

Syria has not signed the Rome Statute that governs the ICC, which makes the Court unable to independently exercise jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed by the Syrian regime. But the United States and European powers could press the UN Security Council to refer the Syria case to the ICC, as it happened after Gaddafi sent his troops and tanks to fight protesters in Libya, the paper said.

Washington has not officially called on Assad, who has been ruling Syria for more than a decade, to step down as it did with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi. However, the United States, along with the European Union, has imposed sanctions on Assad and many of his family members.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Friday that the United States was trying to persuade Russia to work together on a resolution on Syria to be put to a vote at the UN Security Council.

Russia has opposed a resolution condemning violence in Syria and urged a diplomatic solution to the crisis, while France, Britain and Germany have been pushing for such a resolution to be passed by the Security Council to prevent further bloodshed.

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The Lessons of Fukushima: Surviving Nuclear Disasters

June 18th, 2011 by Lucas Whitefield Hixson

Valery Alexeyevich Legasov was a famous Soviet scientist, whose death in the spring of 1988 on the second anniversary of the tragedy at Chernobyl rocked the Soviet Nuclear Industry.  At the time of the Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986, Legasov had become the First Deputy Director of the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy.  His role was to investigate the cause of the disaster, and help plan for the mitigation efforts.  He was a chemist, and extremely professional.  “With our reactors, we may expect apocalypse any time” Legasov kept repeating in his meetings, but his words always fell on deaf ears.  He had always carried a premonition of catastrophe, and constantly worked at the Institute of Atomic Energy to organize groups of experts to determine the safety of different types of reactors.

As the first victims arrived in hospitals in Moscow, Legasov was arriving at the Chernobyl Power Plant.  He noted the glowing red sky long before he reached the workers town of Pripyat, and for the first time realized that it was from the fires at the reactor.  Legasov was the first to comprehend what had actually happened, the reactor had exploded, everything that was inside, was either on fire or had been ejected outside of the reactor.

After arriving at Chernobyl, Valery boarded a helicopter and pursued an aerial view of the damage to the reactor.  Later, he also received a large dose of radiation while traveling in military vehicles close to the reactor building to detail the damage and begin planning the cleanup.  While prior to the disaster, he was known for his chemist experience, it was his knowledge of the situation, and of the design and functionality of a nuclear reactor that helped bring the disaster under control.  He was the first person to demand that the population within the explosion radius be evacuated, and refused to listen to any government official or nuclear scientist, explaining non-action was criminal and must be stopped immediately.

At noon on April 27th, the local radio station in Pripyat, where the workers at the nuclear power station were housed finally aired the evacuation orders, some 36 hours after the initial explosion and meltdown.  Legasov and other Soviet Leaders knew upon evacuation that those leaving would never return to live in the empty homes that cluttered the streets.  The evacuees were not told this, to ensure that evacuation was not hindered by those who would be crippled with fear.  By 2:30 pm, the town of Pripyat was a ghost town all 45,000 citizens shipped out in a few hours, leave for the military and those working at the plant.

On May 5th, Valery returned to Moscow for a political bureau meeting, he arrived his compatriots were alarmed to find his body covered in radiation, from fingernails to hair.  Legasov returned home to his wife and family where his wife was alarmed to see the nuclear suntan, a visible effect of acute radiation exposure.  After spending only 35 minutes at home, Valery sped back to the Kremlin to speak at the meeting.  At the Politburo, it was proposed to increase the acceptable levels of radioactivity for the population 10-50 times.  It was also decided to send journalists into the unaffected areas for them to be re-assurred and hastily return good and encouraging reports to the world.

Having been exposed to lethal amounts of radiation from spending over three months at the disaster site, the longest of anyone, the Soviet scientist began to feel the effects on his health immediately.  His total dose is never known, as the humble leader would often hide his dosimeter as the readings would have caused orders to be drafted that would have prevented him from continuing his work.  In August of 1986, Legasov sat before the IAEA and became a Soviet puppet, relating not the true facts of the situation at Chernobyl that he had collected at expense of his life over the previous 3 months, but the censored edited information that he had been ordered to give from the Soviet Atomic Energy Leaders.  He delivered this information to a room of over 500 people who gladly bought every word from this knowledgeable, hard-working scientist who appeared to be the epitome of control in face of a crisis.  

On the second anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Legasov was to present his plan to the Soviet Government, that would push them through the existing barriers to Soviet scientific progress, and his ideas were rejected.   The scientist went to his office and retrieved his personal belongings and pictures and took them home with him.  He was heard to say, “Sorry, but Chernobyl didn’t teach us anything after all.”  Valery Legasov committed suicide, but left detailed memoirs in which he revealed the Chernobyl suffered from significant design flaws, and that he and other scientists at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy had known about long before the disaster.  Before the tragedy at Chernobyl, the Soviet Government had kept all information about the weakness of its nuclear reactors a national secret.  Before Chernobyl there had been numerous accidents at nuclear power stations, but engineers at the Chernobyl plant were not aware of the risks involved with the equipment they were using.  After his death, the design flaws of the control-rods that were used at Chernobyl’s nuclear reactors was declassified, and corrected.  On September 20th, 1996 Russian President Boris Yeltsin posthumously appointed Legasov the honorary title of Hero of the Russian Federation for his courage and heroism at Chernobyl.

At Chernobyl, for the first time the scientists involved in the nuclear program had to make decisions also calculating human toll.  Many of the efforts to bring the situation under control in the first few critical hours resulted directly in the death of those on scene.  Chernobyl was also the final nail in the coffin for the Soviet Union, as it showed how unreliable the Kremlin had become at its foundation. 

For the workers on-site at Fukushima Daiichi, and those in leadership positions since the disaster, the events of March 11th will be the most dramatic memories of their lives. During a disaster like that experienced in the control rooms at Fukushima Daiichi, it is easy to understand the reaction to going into shock.  It can seem like everything that the workers on site knew about the situation was misleading them, once your systems are compromised, sensors and other data collecting equipment cannot be trusted until inspected and re-calibrated.  Sitting in the dark, everything that the engineers knew about their systems was completely destroyed, and they lacked the resources to get accurate data until the power was restored.  The emergency workers who first responded on scene more then likely didn’t understand immediately that the situation they would be faced with would haunt their lives forever.

In the Japanese Government no one really cares about the safe and regulated expansion of its nuclear program and facilities.  None of the efforts made by elected officials in Japan since the disaster at Fukushima have had a positive influence on nuclear policies or engineering. Instead this tragedy will go down as one of the most criminal examples of near-universal mismanagement and misdirection, a glaring recurring fact that has prevailed in nuclear disasters decades past.  In hindsight it is easy to see that we have always looked to nuclear energy as a form of salvation, “an energy too cheap to meter”, but some of our creations have led us to seek a salvation from our technology.

In the future we will look back at this disaster and its effects, and we will likely understand that the personnel on-site made their mistakes, and engineers were told of errors and found unwilling to correct the design.  However, it will not be the builders, engineers, or technicians, who are guilty themselves, rather those high above them.  The individuals that make up the State components of a nuclear powered economy, and those in positions that knew the dangers and risks both before and after the initial earthquake and tsunami.

Throughout history nearly every disaster has developed through the same pattern, in which multiple small and large mistakes or accidents occur.   None of them is required to be individually devastating, but as the weight of these anomalies accumulates, it reaches the point of critical mass for a catastrophe.  The only way to prevent these disasters is to have reliable and safe expansion of international energy programs.

Even as the Obama administration prepares to launch a full ground war in Libya while expanding its drone attacks inside Yemen and Pakistan, US warships are being moved towards the Mediterrenean coast of Syria, precisely in line with forecasts that the Bilderberg Group intended to launch a massive new war in the Middle East, with Syria being its prime target.

           
In addition to information received by Infowars from military sources at Ft. Hood who tell us that troops are being readied for a full-scale U.S.-led ground invasion of Libya by October, the Obama administration is simultaneously considering opening up yet another front, by moving the USS Bataan amphibian air carrier strike vessel, along with 2,000 marines, 6 war planes, and 15 attack helicopters to a location just off the Syrian coast.

           
“This huge concentration of naval missile interceptor units looks like preparations by Washington for the contingency of Iran, Syria and Hizballah letting loose with surface missiles against US and Israeli targets in the event of US military intervention to stop the anti-opposition slaughter underway in Syria,” reports DebkaFile.

           
Another indication that the US is planning an intervention in Syria is the fact that Hizballah has moved its rockets from northern Lebanon to areas in the center of the country, acting on a warning from Iranian intelligence to move the weaponry “out of range of a possible American operation in Syria”.

Veteran reporter Jim Tucker’s warning, provided to him by his routinely accurate inside sources, that the powerful Bilderberg Group was planning a gargantuan new war in the Middle East to outstrip anything taking place in Libya, is now moving forward.

On Monday, journalist Adrian Salbuchi also told Russia Today that Bilderberg’s “hidden agenda” towards Syria would make itself visible after the conclusion of the elitist confab in St. Moritz, Switzerland, a forecast already coming to fruition.

Syrian rights organizations say that around 1,300 civilians have been killed since the start of the uprising in March against President Bashar Assad. Around 300 soldiers and police have also been killed. Thousands of Syrians fled the town of Maarat al-Numaan yesterday as government troops and tanks moved north.

The US military-industrial complex has been very choosy about who it targets for regime change under the umbrella of “humanitarian intervention”. Despite the fact that protesters in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have been the victims of similarly brutal government crackdowns, the US has turned a blind eye.

Quite how the Obama administration believes the United States can afford to prosecute yet another war while it is still engaged in two major occupations and a number of other regional conflicts, and as top ratings agencies warn the country is about to lose its triple A credit status due to insurmountable debt problems, is a mystery.

As the West’s war against Libya has entered its fourth month and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has flown more than 11,000 missions, including 4,300 strike sorties, over the small nation, the world’s only military bloc is already integrating lessons learned from the conflict into its international model of military intervention based on earlier wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

What NATO refers to as Operation Unified Protector has provided the Alliance the framework in which to continue recruiting Partnership for Peace adjuncts like Sweden and Malta, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative affiliates Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates and Mediterranean Dialogue partnership members Jordan and Morocco into the bloc’s worldwide warfighting network. Sweden, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates also have military personnel assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the nearly ten-year-long war in Afghanistan. In the first case, troops from the Scandinavian nation has been engaged in their first combat role, killing and being killed, in two centuries in Afghanistan and has provided eight warplanes for the attack on Libya, with marine forces to soon follow.

The military conflicts waged and other interventions conducted by the United States and its NATO allies over the past twelve years – in and against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Macedonia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan and Libya – have contributed to the American military budget more than doubling in the past decade and U.S. arms exports almost quintupling in the same period.

The Pentagon and NATO are currently concluding the Sea Breeze 2011 naval exercise in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine, near the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in Sebastopol. Participants include the U.S., Britain, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Macedonia, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey and host nation Ukraine. All but Algeria and Moldova are Troop Contributing Nations for NATO’s Afghan war. The once-annual maneuvers resumed again last year after the Ukrainian parliament banned them in 2009. This year’s exercise was arranged on the initiative of chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen. Last year’s Sea Breeze drills, the largest in the Black Sea, included 20 naval vessels, 13 aircraft and more than 1,600 military personnel from the U.S., Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine.

This year the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey joined the exercise. The warship is the first deployed to the Mediterranean, and now the Black, Sea for the Pentagon’s Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile program, one which in upcoming years will include at least 40 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Poland and Romania and on Aegis class destroyers and cruisers in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic Seas. Upgraded versions of the missile, the Block IB, Block IIA and Block IIB, are seen by Russian political analysts and military commanders as threats to Russia’s long-range missiles and as such to the nation’s strategic potential.

As former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar wrote in a recent column:

“Without doubt, the US is stepping up pressure on Russia’s Black Sea fleet. The US’s provocation is taking place against the backdrop of the turmoil in Syria. Russia is stubbornly blocking US attempts to drum up a case for Libya-style intervention in Syria. Moscow understands that a major reason for the US to push for regime change in Syria is to get the Russian naval base in that country wound up.

“The Syrian base is the only toehold Russia has in the Mediterranean region. The Black Sea Fleet counts on the Syrian base for sustaining any effective Mediterranean presence by the Russian navy. With the establishment of US military bases in Romania and the appearance of the US warship in the Black Sea region, the arc of encirclement is tightening.”

USS Monterey, whose presence in the Black Sea has been criticized as a violation of the 1936 Montreux Convention, will return to the Mediterranean where the U.S.’s newest nuclear supercarrier, USS George H.W. Bush, and its carrier strike group with 9,000 service members and an air wing of 70 aircraft is also present, having recently visited U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa and Sixth Fleet headquarters in Naples, Italy, due north of Libya.

Last week the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan engaged in a certification exercise with its French counterpart FS Tonnerre in the Mediterranean. The U.S. Navy website stated that the certification “will provide Tonnerre with additional flexibility during their support to NATO-led Operation Unified Protector,” the codename for the Alliance’s war against Libya. The USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group includes an estimated 2,000 Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and dozens of warplanes and attack and other helicopters, and is poised for action in Libya and, if the pattern holds, Syria.

The U.S. and NATO allies and partners – Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey – conducted the Phoenix Express 2011 maritime exercise in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean from June 1-15, which included maneuvers in support of the U.S.’s global Proliferation Security Initiative.

Also earlier this month NATO held this year’s Northern Viking air and naval exercise, the latest in a series of biennial drills under that name, in Iceland with 450 NATO military members from the U.S., Denmark, Iceland, Italy and Norway. The United States European Command website cited the Norwegian detachment commander saying, “exercises like [Northern Viking 2011] allowed the pilots to prepare for real-world scenarios, like Operation Odyssey Dawn,” the name for the Western military campaign in Libya from March 19-30.

This week NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Britain and Spain, meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague in the first country and Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez and Defence Minister Carme Chacon in the second.

While in London Rasmussen focused on the wars in Libyan and Afghanistan, both under NATO command, and promoted the implementation of the European wing of the U.S. international interceptor missile system.

Perhaps in part responding to the dressing down NATO member states had recently received by the person Rasmussen truly, if unofficially, has to account to – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates – he boasted:

“NATO is more needed and wanted than ever, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, from the coast of Somalia to Libya. We are busier than ever before.”

In Spain he addressed the nation’s upper house of parliament in a speech titled “NATO and the Mediterranean: the changes ahead” and, according to the bloc’s website, emphasized “NATO’s changing role in the Mediterranean, particularly focusing on Operation Unified Protector and NATO’s future role in the region.” He also pledged that “we can help the Arab Spring well and truly blossom.” Libya and Syria, tomorrow Algeria and Lebanon, come to mind as the objects of NATO’s false solicitude, and Egypt and Tunisia too, as Rasmussen has already mentioned, in regard to NATO training their militaries and rebuilding their command structures in accordance with Alliance standards, as is being done in Iraq.     

The war against Libya, NATO’s first armed conflict in the Mediterranean and on the African continent, is solidifying control of the Mediterranean already established by the ongoing Operation Active Endeavor surveillance and interdiction mission launched in 2001 under NATO’s Article 5 collective military assistance provision.

While Rasmussen was in Britain, Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin said that the Atlantic Alliance “is being drawn into a ground operation,” and asserted “The war in Libya means…the beginning of its expansion south.”   

Two days before, the U.S. and NATO completed Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2011, which included 20 ships from eleven European nations and the flagship of the Mediterranean-based U.S. Sixth Fleet, USS Mount Whitney, other American warships and Commander, Carrier Strike Group 8.

Concurrently in the Baltic Sea, the 11-day Amber Hope 2011 exercise was launched in Lithuania on June 13 with the participation of 2,000 military personnel from NATO members the U.S., Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Poland and Partnership for Peace members Georgia and Finland. Former Soviet republics and Partnership for Peace affiliates Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Ukraine are attending as observers.

The second phase of the exercise will begin on June 19 and, according to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry, “troops will follow an established scenario based on lessons learnt by Lithuanian and foreign states in Afghanistan, Iraq and off the Somali coast,” in the last case an allusion to NATO’s ongoing Operation Ocean Shield. The bloc has also airlifted thousands of Ugandan and Burundian troops into Somalia for fighting in the capital of Mogadishu.

Earlier this week NATO also held a conference with the defense chiefs of 60 member and partner states in Belgrade, Serbia, which was bombed repeatedly by NATO warplanes 12 years ago, also focusing on the bloc’s current three-month-long war in Libya.

The Strategic Military Partner Conference was addressed by, inter alia, French General Stephane Abrial, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation based in Norfolk, Virginia, who said, “I’m convinced that the operation in Libya will be successful,” though conceding that the hostilities may be prolonged well into the future in his opening statement.

The Black Sea Rotational Force, a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, followed military training exercises in Romania with a two-week exercise in Bulgaria on June 13 with troops from the host nation and, for the first time, Serbia on one of the four air and infantry bases in the country the Pentagon has moved into since 2006. The earlier training in Romania was at one of another four bases acquired in that nation.

The local press reported that most of the U.S. Marines involved arrived at the Novo Selo Range “straight from Afghanistan” on Hercules-C-130 transport aircraft.

Lieutenant Colonel Nelson Cardella of the U.S. Marine Corps said of the drills, “Our troops will be trained to improve the interoperability of our staffs” for the Afghan and future wars.

Bulgaria’s Standart News announced that “next year the Black Sea Rotational Force exercise will take place in Serbia.”

The mission of the Black Sea Rotational Force, formed last year, is to integrate the armed forces of twelve nations in the Balkans, Black Sea region and Caucasus – Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine – through NATO for deployment to Afghanistan and other war zones and post-conflict situations.

Each of the wars the U.S. and its NATO allies have waged since 1999 has gained the Pentagon and the Alliance new military bases and expeditionary contingents in subjugated and adjoining nations in Southeastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, and South and Central Asia.

Just as the Yugoslav, Afghan and Iraqi wars contributed to developing a U.S.-led NATO international military intervention capability for use against Libya today, so the Libyan experience is being employed for future conflicts.

US steps up ties with Syrian insurgents

June 17th, 2011 by Global Research

The United States is to expand contacts with Syrians who are counting on a regime change in the country.

This was stated by U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland. “We started to expand contacts with the Syrians, those who are calling for change, both inside and outside the country,” she said.

Nuland also repeated that Barack Obama had previously called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to initiate reforms or to step down from power.

Spain’s Protest Movemenrt

June 17th, 2011 by Danny Schechter

MADRID, Spain, June 15: Spain is justly proud of the Paella, a distinctive dish that mixes diverse vegetables or seafood into a tasty fusion of delectability.

They have now created a political version in the form of Tarir Square type encampment in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol where a diverse mix of activists—old, young, male-female, disabled, immigrant, activists from Western Sahara, have created a beachhead for what many say is the closest this country has come to a popular and distinctive revolutionary movement since the 1930’s.

Its been a month now since Real Democracy, a grass roots “platform,” as it called, began a march that initially only attracted a relative handful of activists but by the time it reached the shopping district at Puerta del Sol, it had swelled to over 25,000, surprising its organizers, participants and politicians from the two major parties.

Only this march turned into a movement when many of its supporters decided to stay in the Square, no doubt inspired by events in Egypt, In Cairo, the vast multitudes agreed on one demand—Mubarak Must Go—even its causes were later traced to a collapsing economy and mass joblessness among the young. Their story was driven by social media and echoed in live TV broadcasts. Protests were underway elsewhere in Spain,

The movement became known as “#spanishrevolution” after the Twitter hashtag used to spread news, pictures and footage of the revolt, began with the internet call for a May 15 protest to demand “Real Democracy Now!” The marchers were dubbed “indignados” (The Indignant.)

Activist Pablo Quiziel articulated the feeling, “Amidst local and regional election campaigns, with the banners of the different political parties plastered across the country’s streets, people are saying `enough!’ Disillusioned youth, unemployed, pensioners, students,

Immigrants and other disenfranchised groups have emulated their brothers in the Arab world and are now demanding a voice – demanding an opportunity to live with dignity.”

In Spain, the activists said they were expressing “indignation” with their country’s economy and the parasitic nature of its two main political parties—the Socialists (PSOE) and the Center Right People’s Party (PP)—which carried on business as usual in a predictable dance of mutual bashing and few new ideas while markets melted down,

They also denounced corruption demanding fair housing, jobs, and a more responsive government.

But they had moved beyond electoral politics creating a liberated village with tents and makeshift structures. They had no leaders and didn’t want any. They practiced a form of consensus backed small d democratic decision-making. It reminded me of what I read of utopian communities in which “the people” run the show. Soon, the spirit of what they are doing and asking for resonated in more than 160 cities and towns.

I got there a month after what is known as the May 15th movement was started, and almost by accident. On my way to South Africa, I flew the Spanish carrier Iberia only discover I would have a 12 hour layover. Since I was going through Madrid, my revolutionary tourism gene mandated me to hop on the marvelous Madrid Metro, and three changes later surface face to face with the revolution even if the weather seemed well over 90 degrees.

Yes, there was plenty of sol on hand. Some of the activists like Liam who hails from Ireland were slathered with suntan lotion because of the afternoon rays. “We are all fried,” he told me.

Although many in the media have already written this movement’s obituary, it seems to keep chugging along, almost amoeba-like, decentralizing, going deeper by organizing popular Assemblies in neighborhoods throughout the city. They have several committees working on a program for what they will fight for. Many are common sense ideas.

While Sol still functions as their public base they already deemphasized its importance by spreading out, almost block by block.

On the day I was there, a small contingent left the Soul to stop an eviction and they were successful after confronting a landlord and the local bank. They exercise an enormous amount of moral authority as they talk about issues in personal ways, free of political rhetoric and bombast. They politicize by example, not by throwing slogans around, acting in a post partisan manner.

This approach seems to make sense to many who see their society in crisis with politicians blaming each other. In contrast, The May 15th movement encourages citizens to voice their grievances and act on their own behalf.

They tend to think like anarchists and talk in terms of self-management as a principle of political economy.

They are very clear about not wanting to replace one conventional hierarchal party with another. They are nervous about grooming or projecting leaders even as one activist told me that rule by consensus can be excruciatingly slow and subject to obstructionist tactic by a few who can hold the majority hostage.

“We have had people praise us for standing up, “ Liam told me, “ We tell them not to put their faith in us either but to get involved in the process of change. We can’t do it for them~”

The movement all over the local press that seems ready to pronounce it a failure even as it documents the free fall of the local economy. There is now a newspaper called Diagonal reporting on their every activity while activists use social media and post blogs on local websites.

A local newspaper sampled public opinion. They found many voters estranged from their party and disillusioned and many, across the spectrum, sympathetic to the idealism and energy behind their actions. The very presence seems to be politicizing people if just by discussing the alternative to tradition that they represent

Many were open to the new movement’s style and interactive discourse, Bernarda told them “ democracy is really bad here. There are two parties but no one really likes either one.

Says Juan, “I think it’s very interesting that people from different social classes and different groups are joining together.”

Cesar agrees, “Everyone’s hoping this will not be disappear because it is the spark of change.”

Adds Juan, “I am really proud of all of us.”

My language skills limited my access to Spanish speakers but I did talk with David Marty, a lawyer by training, a teacher by necessity and a writer by choice. He sees the movement spreading all across Europe.

“We need a new approach, he says, singing the praises of May 15th bottom up, participatory approach.

What I found significant is that he was not a man of the left. Both his father and grandfather were policemen. His dad won his spurs as a member of the French CRS unity fighting protesters during May June 1968 when Paris was a battleground, Now, his son writes for Z Magazine and contributes ideas for what changes the movement should ask for.

Like many in the Mayo 15 movement, he is a staunch critic of neo-liberalism, policies that both major parties embrace

As we sat in the Square as its distinctive clock tower, struck six, I Iistened to more speculation laced with hope. No one can predict this movement’s future with any certainty, but its active core seems to agree that it has already done more than they ever imagined.

Writes Quziel, “Spain is finally re-embracing its radical past, its popular movements, its anarcho-syndicalist traditions and its republican dreams. Crushed by Generalissimo Francisco Franco seventy years ago, it seemed that Spanish popular culture

would never recover from the void left by a rightwing dictatorship, which exterminated anyone with a dissenting voice; but the 15th of May 2011, is the reminder to those in

power that Spanish direct democracy is still alive and has finally awaken.”

That is the hope at least, that I saw in the Plaza of the Sun,

Danny Schechter blogs for NewsDissector.com. Comments to [email protected]

The Destabilization of Syria and the Broader Middle East War

June 17th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

What is unfolding in Syria is an armed insurrection supported covertly by foreign powers including the US, Turkey and Israel.  

Armed insurgents belonging to Islamist organizations have crossed the border from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The US State Department has confirmed that it is supporting the insurgency.

The United States is to expand contacts with Syrians who are counting on a regime change in the country.

This was stated by U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland. “We started to expand contacts with the Syrians, those who are calling for change, both inside and outside the country,” she said.

Nuland also repeated that Barack Obama had previously called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to initiate reforms or to step down from power.” (Voice of Russia, June 17, 2011)

The destabilization of Syria and Lebanon as sovereign countries has been on the drawing board of the US-NATO-Israel military alliance for at least ten years.

Action against Syria is part of a “military roadmap”, a sequencing of military operations. According to former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark–the Pentagon  had clearly identified Iraq, Libya, Syria and Lebanon as target countries of a US-NATO intervention:

“[The] Five-year campaign plan [included]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan” (Pentagon official quoted by General Wesley Clark)

In “Winning Modern Wars” (page 130) General Wesley Clark states the following:

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.

…He said it with reproach–with disbelief, almost–at the breadth of the vision. I moved the conversation away, for this was not something I wanted to hear. And it was not something I wanted to see moving forward, either. …I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned.”

The objective is to destabilize the Syrian State and implement “regime change” through the covert support of an armed insurgency, integrated by Islamist militia. The reports on civilian deaths are used to provide a pretext and a justification for humanitarian intervention under the principle “Responsiblity to Protect”.

Media Disinformation

Tacitly acknowledged , the significance of an armed insurrection is casually dismissed by the Western media. If it were to be recognized and analysed, our understanding of unfolding events would be entirely different.

What is mentioned profusely is that the armed forces and the police are involved in the indiscriminate killing of civilian protesters. Press reports confirm, however, from the outset of the protest movement an exchange of gunfire between armed insurgents and the police, with casualties reported on both sides.

The insurrection started in mid March in the border city of Daraa, which is 10 km from the Jordanian border. 

The Daraa “protest movement” on March 18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel)

Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement.

What has unfolded in Daraa in the weeks following the initial violent clashes on 17-18 March, is the confrontation between the police and the armed forces on the one hand and armed units of terrorists and snipers on the other which have infiltrated the protest movement.

….

What is clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson. The title of the Israeli news report summarizes what happened:  Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests

(See Michel Chossudovsky, SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention”, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24591 Global Research,  May 3, 2011)

The Role of Turkey

The center of the insurrection has now shifted to the small border town of Jisr al-Shughour, 10 km from the Turkish border.

Jisr al-Shughour has a population of 44,000 inhabitants. Armed insurgents have crossed the border from Turkey.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood are reported to have taken up arms in northwest Syria. 

There are indications that Turkish military and intelligence are supporting these incursions. 

There was no mass civilian protest movement in Jisr al-Shughour. The local population was caught in the crossfire. The fighting between armed rebels and government forces has contributed to triggering a refugee crisis, which is the center of media attention.

MB Rebels at Jisr al Choughour

Muslim Brotherhood Rebels at Jisr al Shughour Photos AFP June 16, 2011

In contrast, in the nation’s capital Damascus, where the mainstay of social movements is located, there have been mass rallies in support rather than in opposition to the government.

President Bashir al Assad is casually compared to presidents Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. What the mainstream media has failed to mention is that despite the authoritarian nature of the regime, president Al Assad is a popular figure who has widespread support of the Syrian population.  

The large rally in Damascus on March 29, “with tens of thousands of supporters” (Reuters) of President Al Assad was barely mentioned. Yet in an unusual twist, the images and video footage of several pro-government events were used by the Western media to convince international public opinion that the President was being confronted by mass anti-government rallies. 

Syrians display a giant national flag with a picture of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad during a
pro-government rally at the central bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)

On June 15, thousands of people rallied over several kilometers on Damascus’ main highway in a march holding up a 2.3 km Syrian flag. The rally was acknowledged by the media and casually dismissed as irrelevant.

Thousands of supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad carry a 2,300-metre-long Syrian flag in a demonstration in  Damascus on Wednesday. The Syrian government is working to stop the spectacle of Syrians fleeing in terror from government troops trying to quell the three-month rebellion.  Muzaffar Salman/Associated Press

AP. Thousands of supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad carry a 2,300-metre-long Syrian flag in a demonstration in Damascus on Wednesday.

While the Syrian regime is by no means democratic, the objective of the US-NATO Israel military alliance is not to promote democracy. Quite the opposite. Washington’s intent is to eventually install a puppet regime.

The objective through media disinformation is to demonize president Al Assad and more broadly to destabilize Syria as a secular state. The latter objective is implemented through covert support of  various Islamist organizations:

Syria is run by an authoritarian oligarchy which has used brute force in dealing with its citizens. The riots in Syria, however, are complex. They cannot be viewed as a straightforward quest for liberty and democracy. There has been an attempt by the U.S. and the E.U. to use the riots in Syria to pressure and intimidate the Syrian leadership. Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, and the March 14 Alliance have all played a role in supporting an armed insurrection.

The violence in Syria has been supported from the outside with a view of taking advantage of the internal tensions… Aside from the violent reaction of the Syrian Army, media lies have been used and bogus footage has been aired. Money and weapons have also been funnelled to elements of the Syrian opposition by the U.S., the E.U….Funding has also been provided to ominous and unpopular foreign-based Syrian opposition figures, while weapons caches were smuggled from Jordan and Lebanon into Syria. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, America’s Next War Theater: Syria and Lebanon? http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25000, Global Research, June 10, 2011)

The joint Israel-Turkey military and intelligence agreement

The geopolitics of this process of destabilization are far-reaching. Turkey is involved in supporting the rebels.

The Turkish government has sanctioned Syrian opposition groups in exile which support an armed insurgency. Turkey is also pressuring Damascus to conform to Washington’s demands for regime change.

Turkey is a member of NATO with a powerful military force. Moreover, Israel and Turkey have a longstanding joint military-intelligence agreement, which is explicitly directed against Syria.

…A 1993 Memorandum of Understanding led to the creation of (Israeli-Turkish) “joint committees” to handle so-called regional threats. Under the terms of the Memorandum, Turkey and Israel agreed “to cooperate in gathering intelligence on Syria, Iran, and Iraq and to meet regularly to share assessments pertaining to terrorism and these countries’ military capabilities.”

Turkey agreed to allow IDF and Israeli security forces to gather electronic intelligence on Syria and Iran from Turkey. In exchange, Israel assisted in the equipping and training of Turkish forces in anti-terror warfare along the Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian borders.”

Already during the Clinton Administration, a triangular military alliance between the US, Israel and Turkey had unfolded. This “triple alliance”, which is dominated by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integrates and coordinates military command decisions between the three countries pertaining to the broader Middle East. It is based on the close military ties respectively of Israel and Turkey with the US, coupled with a strong bilateral military relationship between Tel Aviv and Ankara. ….

The triple alliance is also coupled with a 2005 NATO-Israeli military cooperation agreement which includes “many areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism and joint military exercises. These military cooperation ties with NATO are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.” (See Michel Chossudovsky,“Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon, August 6, 2006)

Covert  support to armed insurgents out of Turkey or Jordan would no doubt be coordinated under the joint Israel-Turkey military and intelligence agreement.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with (former) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2004)

Dangerous Crossroads: The Broader Middle East War

Israel and NATO signed a far-reaching military cooperation agreement in 2005. Under this agreement, Israel is considered a de facto member of NATO.

If a military operation were to be launched against Syria, Israel would in all likelihood be involved in military undertakings alongside NATO forces (under the NATO-Israel bilateral agreement).  Turkey would also play an active military role.  

A military intervention in Syria on fake humanitarian grounds would lead to an escalation of the US-NATO led war over a large area extending from North Africa and the Middle East to Central Asia, from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It would also contribute to a process of political destabilization in Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. It would also set the stage for a conflict with Iran.  

Nebraska Nuclear Reactor Flooded

June 16th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

Ketv noted in March:

Fort Calhoun’s nuclear power plant is one of three reactors across the country that federal regulators said they are most concerned about.

***

Last year, federal regulators questioned the station’s flood protection protocol. NRC officials said they felt the Omaha Public Power District should do more than sandbagging in the event of major flooding along the Missouri river.

OPPD officials said they have already made amends and added new flood gates.

“We updated our flood protection strategy and have tested and re-tested our new strategy. The issue is operationally resolved, and at no time was there a threat to public safety or was public health at risk,” OPPD President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Gates said.

Those upgrades are being tested right now, as the area around the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant is being flooded.

Specifically, the midwestern floods have made the power plant an island, and sandbags, berms and other measures are being deployed to prevent a Fukushima-like problem.

On June 9th, an electrical fire knocked out cooling of the spent fuel rods at the plant. On June 6th, the Federal Administration Aviation (FAA) issued a directive banning aircraft from entering the airspace within a two-mile radius of the plant.

Since last week, the plant has been under a “notification of unusual event” classification, because of the rising Missouri River. That is the lowest level of emergency alert.

The Omaha Public Power District – which runs the reactor – says that there have been no releases of radioactivity, everything is under control, and that:

The flight restrictions were set up by the FAA as a result of Missouri river flooding.

An OPPD spokesman updated Business Insider about the situation:

OPPD spokesman Jeff Hanson told Business Insider that the nuclear plant is in a “stable situation.” He said the Missouri River is currently at 1005.6″ above sea level, and that no radioactive fuel had yet been released or was expected to be released in the future.

Asked about the FAA flight ban, Hanson it was due to high power lines and “security reasons that we can’t reveal.” He said the flight ban remains in effect.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen said that he doesn’t expect a melt-down, as the diesel generators are situated higher above the ground than at Fukushima, so – unless the water rises further than expected – they should keep working:

However, Channel 6 news notes that OPPC is intentionally flooding the containment building to cool the rods:

The facility was taken offline to refuel earlier this year so the containment building has been flooded by OPPD in order to cool the fuel rods.

Hanson adds they have a number of backup systems in place to continue to pump clean water through the spent fuel pool and into the reactor containment building so he says there is nothing to fear.

And see this.

Tens of millions of acres in the US corn belt have flooded, which will spike the cost of gas and food over the next several months. Worse, several nuclear power plants sit in the flooded plains. Both nuclear plants in Nebraska are partly submerged and the FAA has issued a no-fly order over both of them.

On June 7, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant filed an Alert with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after a fire broke out in the switchgear room. During the event, “spent fuel pool cooling was lost” when two fuel pumps failed for about 90 minutes.

On June 9, Nebraska’s other plant, Cooper Nuclear Power Station near Brownville, filed a Notice of Unusual Event (NOUE), advising it is unable to discharge sludge into the Missouri River due to flooding, and therefore “overtopped” its sludge pond.

The Fort Calhoun TFR (temporary flight restriction) was issued the day before the nuclear Alert. The FAA issued another TFR on June 7 for the Cooper plant.

Other flood-related TFRs were issued on June 13 for the Garrison Dam in Bismarck, North Dakota and on June 5 for rescue operations in Sioux City, SD.

Under the four-level nuclear event scale used in the US, an NOUE is the least hazardous. In an Alert, however, “events are in process or have occurred that involve an actual or potential substantial degradation in the level of safety of the plant,” according to the NRC.

Despite some media reports, Ft Calhoun is not at a stage 4 level of emergency, which under the US scale, would be “actual or imminent substantial core damage or melting of reactor fuel with the potential for loss of containment integrity.”

If that rumor refers to the seven-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, a Level 4 incident requires at least one death, which has not occurred.

Continued flooding does threaten the plants, however. As nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen explains in this video, cooling pumps must operate continuously, even years after a plant is shut down.

One group, the Foundation for Resilient Societies, has proposed solar panels and other high-reliability power sources to supply backup cooling for the fuel pools at nuclear plants.

Thomas Popik told Food Freedom that FRS “invited the Chief Nuclear Officers of nearly every nuclear power utility to comment” on their proposal and only heard back from one operator. Otherwise, not one CNO has officially responded to the NRC-filed proposal.

While hindsight might be 20/20, the lack of foresight can be blindingly deadly when it comes to radioactive waste that lasts tens of thousands of years for the measly prize of 40 years of electricity.

The Ft. Calhoun plant — which stores its fuel rods at ground level according to Tom Burnett — is already partly submerged.

“Ft. Calhoun is the designated spent fuel storage facility for the entire state of Nebraska…and maybe for more than one state. Calhoun stores its spent fuel in ground-level pools which are underwater anyway – but they are open at the top. When the Missouri river pours in there, it’s going to make Fukushima look like an x-ray.”

In 2010, Nebraska stored 840 metric tons of the highly radioactive spent fuel rods, reports the Nuclear Energy Institute. That’s one-tenth of what Illinois stores (8,440 MT), and less than Louisiana (1,210) and Minnesota (1,160). But it’s more than other flood-threatened states like Missouri (650) and Iowa (420).

“But that’s not all,” adds Burnett. “There are a LOT of nuclear plants on both the Missouri and Mississippi and they can all go to hell fast.”

The black triangles in the below image prepared by the Center for Public Integrity show the disclosed locations of nuclear power plants in the US, minus research and military plants. (Red lines indicate both Mississippi and Missouri rivers):

Fort Calhoun is the smallest nuke plant in the nation, with one pressurized water reactor generating less than 500 MW. The NRC relicensed the plant thru 2033, giving it a lifespan of 60 years. Cooper was first commissioned in 1974 and has been relicensed thru 2034, also giving it a 60-year lifespan.

Since June 7, Cooper has been running under “Abnormal Operating Procedures” when river depth topped 38.5 feet (895 feet MSL), flooding the north access road. Sandbags and extra diesel fuel were brought in, reports WOWT.

As of 1:15 pm ET on June 16, the river height of just over 40 feet near Cooper is still 5 feet below the elevation required for a plant shutdown. Near Fort Calhoun, the river is even lower as of 1:15 pm ET on June 16 (under 32 feet).

In 1993, the Cooper Nuclear Station was critically flooded, prompting an emergency shut down:

Photo: Diane Krogh/Lighthawk.

The Midwest floods will seriously impact food and gas prices over the next year. Angela Tague at Business Gather suspects the lost farmland is behind the price spike to $7.55 a bushel for corn — twice last year’s price. Tague notes that the corn shortage will have far-reaching consequences:

“Corn is a key ingredient in ethanol gasoline, feeds America’s livestock and is found in many food products including soft drinks and cereal. Prices will undoubtedly increase steadily at the grocery store, gas pump and butcher shop throughout the summer as Midwest flooding continues along the Missouri River basin. Not only are farmers losing their homes, land and fields — ultimately their bank accounts will also suffer this season.”

And let’s not forget all that genetically modified seed washing south to contaminate natural fields.

Click here to hear the entire 40-minute podcast of Robert Knight’s 5 o’clock Shadow radio show interviewing Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates.

Click here to hear Gundersen’s testimony before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards on Thursday May 26, 2011.

VIDEO: Militarization of the Middle East. US Involvement in Bahrain

June 16th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

VIDEO: Pakistan: Toxic Chemicals in US Drone Strikes

June 16th, 2011 by Global Research

I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.” — Winston Churchill 1920

Now let me get this straight: In order to save civilian lives (the infamous ‘Right to Protect’), the Empire, through its Rottweiller NATO, not only deindustrializes Libya but it also causes a mass exodus of refugees hundreds of whom drowned and many thousands more were left stranded, attacked and abused.

The Pirates attempted to assassinate Gaddafi but succeeded in killing women and children instead. The Pirates bomb educational infrastructure, communications, power, agriculture and terrorize the population from the air and sea with the combined military might of the most powerful countries on the planet. So this is what humanitarian intervention looks like?

The reality of it is that in the ‘good old days’ they made no bones about the issue of keeping the natives in their place, phrases like humanitarian intervention would have made Churchill laugh. Though perhaps, just as with our current leaders and its lapdog mass media, Churchill would have appreciated the propaganda value of ‘humanitarian intervention for domestic audiences.

And after all, the Libyans, Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Somalians, Yemenis and Serbians don’t need to be told what ‘humanitarian intervention’ really is.

Check out the following to get an idea of how the Pirates viewed the ‘peasants’ back in 1920:

“On 19 February, 1920, before the start of the Arab uprising, Churchill (then Secretary for War and Air) wrote to Sir Hugh Trenchard, the pioneer of air warfare. Would it be possible for Trenchard to take control of Iraq? This would entail “the provision of some kind of asphyxiating bombs calculated to cause disablement of some kind but not death…for use in preliminary operations against turbulent tribes.”

Churchill was in no doubt that gas could be profitably employed against the Kurds and Iraqis (as well as against other peoples in the Empire): “I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.” Henry Wilson shared Churchill’s enthusiasm for gas as an instrument of colonial control but the British cabinet was reluctant to sanction the use of a weapon that had caused such misery and revulsion in the First World War. Churchill himself was keen to argue that gas, fired from ground-based guns or dropped from aircraft, would cause “only discomfort or illness, but not death” to dissident tribespeople; but his optimistic view of the effects of gas were mistaken. It was likely that the suggested gas would permanently damage eyesight and “kill children and sickly persons, more especially as the people against whom we intend to use it have no medical knowledge with which to supply antidotes.”

Churchill remained unimpressed by such considerations, arguing that the use of gas, a “scientific expedient,” should not be prevented “by the prejudices of those who do not think clearly”. In the event, gas was used against the Iraqi rebels with excellent moral effect “though gas shells were not dropped from aircraft because of practical difficulties” — ‘British Use of Chemical Weapons in Iraq

So what’s the difference between the Pirates of today and those of yesteryear? None as far as I can see, all that’s changed is that these days, our rulers have to be more prudent and work a lot harder to sell us the idea of recolonization, disguising the entire sordid affair as ‘humanitarian intervention’. And, if it wasn’t for the direct collusion between the Pirates and the media, I’m certain it would be a lot more difficult to pull off such an outrageous stunt.

To bring it up to date, Churchill’s modern-day equivalent, British foreign secretary William Hague would no doubt be saying that the use of ‘bunker buster‘ bombs on the people of Libya was a ‘scientific expedient’, though no doubt we’ll have to wait fifty years (if at all) before we get to read Hague’s private thoughts on the subject.

And what’s more, Churchill’s view that “only discomfort or illness, but not death” would result parallels the current notion that ‘precision targeting’ and ‘smart weapons’ somehow know the difference between military combatant and civilian. Aside from the sheer imbecility of the idea, it is, just as with ‘humanitarian intervention’, designed to make the notion of blowing people to bits, more palatable to domestic audiences.

In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with the BBC’s view of ‘humanitarian intervention’. In a puff piece for the invasion, the BBC tells us that following a visit to Benghazi William Hague was “‘inspired’ by Libyan rebels”. The piece goes on:

“”But we are also encouraging the National Transitional Council to put more flesh on their proposed transition, to lay out in more detail this coming week what would happen on the day that Gaddafi went. Who would be running what, how a new government would be formed.”"– ‘William Hague ‘inspired’ by Libyan rebels‘, BBC Website, 5 June 2011.

Hague’s statement that he needs to know “Who would be running what, [and] how [would] a new government be formed”? reveals the real nature of the invasion and especially of the Empire’s view of its so-called allies in Benghazi.

The bottom line is that in the ninety years that has passed since Churchill ranted on about gassing “uncivilized tribes” not a damn thing has changed except the language used to describe and justify such barbarism. The BBC is quite at home glorifying the use of such gruesome weapons as the following ‘news’ items illustrate:

VIDEO: Preparing Apaches for action in Libya
UK Apache attack helicopters have been used over Libya for the first time, Nato has confirmed. BBC News 04/06/2011

or,

RAF to get Libya ‘bunker busters’
The addition of 2,000lb “bunker busting” bombs to the weaponry of the Royal Air Force is set to boost capabilities for missions over Libya, the Ministry of Defence. BBC News 29/05/2011

How easily the warfare state’s mantras roll off the BBC’s slick tongue. Blowing people up is now “boost[ing] capabilities for missions”. Any idea that this means blowing people to pieces has been surgically removed by the slick media meisters in the BBC’s propaganda/editorial department, espousing views that would not be out-of-place in the England of the 1920s (or even the 1820s!).

To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.[1] 

- Denis Healey, 30-year member of the Steering  Committee of the Bilderberg Group

The ‘Foundations’ of the Bilderberg Group

The Bilderberg Group, formed in 1954, was founded in the Netherlands as a secretive meeting held once a year, drawing roughly 130 of the political-financial-military-academic-media elites from North America and Western Europe as “an informal network of influential people who could consult each other privately and confidentially.”[2] Regular participants include the CEOs or Chairman of some of the largest corporations in the world, oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, and Total SA, as well as various European monarchs, international bankers such as David Rockefeller, major politicians, presidents, prime ministers, and central bankers of the world.[3] The Bilderberg Group acts as a “secretive global think-tank,” with an original intent to “to link governments and economies in Europe and North America amid the Cold War.”[4]

In the early 1950s, top European elites worked with selected American elites to form the Bilderberg Group in an effort to bring together the most influential people from both sides of the Atlantic to advance the cause of ‘Atlanticism’ and ‘globalism.’ The list of attendees were the usual suspects: top politicians, international businessmen, bankers, leaders of think tanks and foundations, top academics and university leaders, diplomats, media moguls, military officials, and Bilderberg also included several heads of state, monarchs, as well as senior intelligence officials, including top officials of the CIA, which was the main financier for the first meeting in 1954.[5]

The European founders of the Bilderberg Group included Joseph Retinger and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Prince Bernhard had, incidentally, been a member of the Nazi Party until 1934, three years prior to his marrying the Dutch Queen Juliana, and had also worked for the German industrial giant, I.G. Farben, the maker of Zyklon B, the gas used in concentration camps.[6] On the American side, those who were most prominent in the formation of the Bilderberg Group were David Rockefeller, Dean Rusk (a top official with the Council on Foreign Relations who was then the head of the Rockefeller Foundation), Joseph Johnson (another Council leader who was head of the Carnegie Endowment), and John J. McCloy (a top Council leader who became Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1953 and was also Chairman of the Board of the Ford Foundation).[7]

The fact that the major American foundations – Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford – were so pivotal in the origins of the Bilderberg Group is not a mere coincidence. The foundations have, since their founding at the beginning of the 20th century, been the central institutions in constructing consensus among elites, and creating consent to power. They are, in short, the engines of social engineering: both for elite circles specifically, and society as a whole, more generally. As Professor of Education Robert F. Arnove wrote in his book Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:

Foundations like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford have a corrosive influence on a democratic society; they represent relatively unregulated and unaccountable concentrations of power and wealth which buy talent, promote causes, and, in effect, establish an agenda of what merits society’s attention. They serve as “cooling-out” agencies, delaying and preventing more radical, structural change. They help maintain an economic and political order, international in scope, which benefits the ruling-class interests of philanthropists and philanthropoids – a system which… has worked against the interests of minorities, the working class, and Third World peoples.[8]

These foundations had been central in promoting the ideology of ‘globalism’ that laid the groundwork for organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group to exist. The Rockefeller Foundation, in particular, supported several organizations that promoted a ‘liberal internationalist’ philosophy, the aim of which:

was to support a foreign policy within a new world order that was to feature the United States as the leading power – a programme defined by the Rockefeller Foundation as ‘disinterested’, ‘objective’ and even ‘non-political’… The construction of a new internationalist consensus required the conscious, targeted funding of individuals and organizations who questioned and undermined the supporters of the ‘old order’ while simultaneously promoting the ‘new’.[9]

The major foundations funded and created not only policy-oriented institutes such as think tanks, but they were also pivotal in the organization and construction of universities and education itself, in particular, the study of ‘international relations.’[10] The influence of foundations over education and universities and thus, ‘knowledge’ itself, is unparalleled. As noted in the book, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:

The power of the foundation is not that of dictating what will be studied. Its power consists in defining professional and intellectual parameters, in determining who will receive support to study what subjects in what settings. And the foundation’s power resides in suggesting certain types of activities it favors and is willing to support. As [political theorist and economist Harold] Laski noted, “the foundations do not control, simply because, in the direct and simple sense of the word, there is no need for them to do so. They have only to indicate the immediate direction of their minds for the whole university world to discover that it always meant to gravitate to that angle of the intellectual compass.”[11]

The major philanthropic foundations created by America’s ‘robber baron’ industrialists and bankers were established not to benefit mankind, as was their stated purpose, but to benefit the bankers and industrialist elites in order to engage in social engineering. Through banks, these powerful families controlled the global economy; through think tanks, they manage the political and foreign policy establishments; and through foundations, they engineer society itself according to their own designs and interests. Through these foundations, elites have come to shape the processes, ideas and institutions of education, thus ensuring their continued hegemony over society through the production and control of knowledge. The educational institutions train future elites for government, economics, sciences, and other professional environments, as well as producing the academics that make up the principle component of think tanks, such as the Bilderberg Group.

Foundations effectively “blur boundaries” between the public and private sectors, while simultaneously effecting the separation of such areas in the study of social sciences. This boundary erosion between public and private spheres “adds feudal elements to our purported democracy, yet it has not been resisted, protested, or even noted much by political elites or social scientists.”[12] Zbigniew Brzezinski, foreign policy strategist, former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg member and co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, wrote that the blurring of boundaries “serves United States world dominance”:

As the imitation of American ways gradually pervades the world, it creates a more congenial setting for the exercise of the indirect and seemingly consensual American hegemony. And as in the case of the domestic American system, that hegemony involves a complex structure of interlocking institutions and procedures, designed to generate consensus and obscure asymmetries in power and influence.[13]

In 1915, a Congressional investigation into the power of philanthropic foundations took place, named the Walsh Commission, which warned that, “the power of wealth could overwhelm democratic culture and politics.”[14] The Final Report of the Walsh Commission “suggested that foundations would be more likely to pursue their own ideology in society than social objectivity.”[15] In this context, we can come to understand the evolution of the Bilderberg Group as an international think tank aimed at constructing consensus and entrenching ideology among the elite.

At their first meeting, Bilderbergers covered the following broad areas, which remained focal points of discussion for successive meetings: Communism and the Soviet Union; Dependent areas and peoples overseas; Economic policies and problems; and European integration and the European Defense Community.[16]

Nearly every single American participant in the Bilderberg meetings was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Among the notable American members of the Bilderberg Group in its early years were David Rockefeller, Dean Rusk, John J. McCloy, George McGhee, George Ball, Walt Whitman Rostow, McGeorge Bundy, Arthur Dean, and Paul Nitze. As Political Scientist Stephen Gill wrote, “Prominent in the American section were the network of Rockefeller interests.”[17]

Certainly, while Rothschild interests have remained in the Bilderberg Group, as evidenced by Edmond de Rothschild having been a member of the Steering Committee, and Franco Bernabe, Vice Chairman of Rothschild Europe being a current Steering Committee member,[18] the Rockefeller interests seem to be most dominant. Not only is David Rockefeller sitting as the single individual of the Member Advisory Group of the Steering Committee, but close Rockefeller confidantes have long served on the Steering Committee and been affiliated with the organization, such as: Sharon Percy Rockefeller; George Ball, a long-time leader in the Council on Foreign Relations, who was Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; Henry Kissinger, long-time Rockefeller aide and American imperial strategist; Zbigniew Brzezinski, who co-founded the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller; Joseph E. Johnson, former U.S. State Department official and President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; John J. McCloy, former Chairman the Council on Foreign Relations (superceded by David Rockefeller), former Assistant Secretary of War, Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (where he was superceded by David Rockefeller), former Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, Chairman of the Ford Foundation, and President of the World Bank; and James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank and Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.

One current Steering Committee member, who is representative of not only a continuation of Rockefeller interests, but also of the continuing influence and role of the major foundations is Jessica T. Matthews. She is President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who had served on the National Security Council under Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (at which David Rockefeller remains as Honorary Chairman), is a member of the Trilateral Commission, is a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and has served on the boards of the Brookings Institution, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Joyce Foundation.

Bilderberg and the European Union

Joseph Retinger, one of the founders of the Bilderberg Group, was also one of the original architects of the European Common Market and a leading intellectual champion of European integration. In 1946, he told the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British counterpart and sister organization of the Council on Foreign Relations), that Europe needed to create a federal union and for European countries to “relinquish part of their sovereignty.” Retinger was a founder of the European Movement (EM), a lobbying organization dedicated to creating a federal Europe. Retinger secured financial support for the European Movement from powerful US financial interests such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefellers.[19] Important to note is that following World War II, the CFR’s main finances came from the Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation and most especially, the Rockefeller Foundation.[20]

Apart from Retinger, the founder of the Bilderberg Group and the European Movement, another ideological founder of European integration was Jean Monnet, who founded the Action Committee for a United States of Europe (ACUE), an organization dedicated to promoting European integration, and he was also the major promoter and first president of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the precursor to the European Common Market.[21]

Declassified documents (released in 2001) showed that “the US intelligence community ran a campaign in the Fifties and Sixties to build momentum for a united Europe. It funded and directed the European federalist movement.”[22] The documents revealed that, “America was working aggressively behind the scenes to push Britain into a European state. One memorandum, dated July 26, 1950, gives instructions for a campaign to promote a fully-fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the CIA.” Further, “Washington’s main tool for shaping the European agenda was the American Committee for a United Europe, created in 1948. The chairman was Donovan, ostensibly a private lawyer by then,” and “the vice-chairman was Allen Dulles, the CIA director in the Fifties. The board included Walter Bedell Smith, the CIA’s first director, and a roster of ex-OSS figures and officials who moved in and out of the CIA. The documents show that ACUE financed the European Movement, the most important federalist organisation in the post-war years.” Interestingly, “the leaders of the European Movement – Retinger, the visionary Robert Schuman and the former Belgian prime minister Paul-Henri Spaak – were all treated as hired hands by their American sponsors. The US role was handled as a covert operation. ACUE’s funding came from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations as well as business groups with close ties to the US government.”[23]

           

The European Coal and Steel Community was formed in 1951, and signed by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Newly released documents from the 1955 Bilderberg meeting show that a main topic of discussion was “European Unity,” and that “the discussion affirmed complete support for the idea of integration and unification from the representatives of all the six nations of the Coal and Steel Community present at the conference.” Further, “A European speaker expressed concern about the need to achieve a common currency, and indicated that in his view this necessarily implied the creation of a central political authority.” Interestingly, “a United States participant confirmed that the United States had not weakened in its enthusiastic support for the idea of integration, although there was considerable diffidence in America as to how this enthusiasm should be manifested. Another United States participant urged his European friends to go ahead with the unification of Europe with less emphasis upon ideological considerations and, above all, to be practical and work fast.”[24] Thus, at the 1955 Bilderberg Group meeting, they set as a primary agenda, the creation of a European common market.[25]

           

In 1957, two years later, the Treaty of Rome was signed, which created the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the European Community. Over the decades, various other treaties were signed, and more countries joined the European Community. In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which created the European Union and led to the creation of the Euro. The European Monetary Institute was created in 1994, the European Central Bank was founded in 1998, and the Euro was launched in 1999. Etienne Davignon, Chairman of the Bilderberg Group and former EU Commissioner, revealed in March of 2009 that the Euro was debated and planned at Bilderberg conferences.[26]

The European Constitution (renamed the Lisbon Treaty) was a move towards creating a European superstate, creating an EU foreign minister, and with it, coordinated foreign policy, with the EU taking over the seat of Britain on the UN Security Council, representing all EU member states, forcing the nations to “actively and unreservedly” follow an EU foreign policy; set out the framework to create an EU defence policy, as an appendage to or separate from NATO; the creation of a European Justice system, with the EU defining “minimum standards in defining offences and setting sentences,” and creates common asylum and immigration policy; and it would also hand over to the EU the power to “ensure co-ordination of economic and employment policies”; and EU law would supercede all law of the member states, thus making the member nations relative to mere provinces within a centralized federal government system.[27]

The Constitution was largely written up by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former President of the French Republic from 1974 to 1981. Giscard d’Estaing also happens to be a member of the Bidlerberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and is also a close friend of Henry Kissinger, having co-authored papers with him.

The Treaty, passed in 2009, created the position of President of the European Council, who represents the EU on the world stage and leads the Council, which determines the political direction of the EU. The first President of the European Council is Herman Van Rompuy, former Prime Minister of Belgium. On November 12, 2009, a small Bilderberg meeting took place, hosted by Viscount Etienne Davignon (Chairman of the Bilderberg Group), and including “international policymakers and industrialists,” among them, Henry Kissinger. Herman Von Rompuy “attended the Bilderberg session to audition for the European job, calling for a new system of levies to fund the EU and replace the perennial EU budget battles.”[28] Following his selection as President, Van Rompuy gave a speech in which he stated, “We are going through exceptionally difficult times: the financial crisis and its dramatic impact on employment and budgets, the climate crisis which threatens our very survival; a period of anxiety, uncertainty, and lack of confidence. Yet, these problems can be overcome by a joint effort in and between our countries. 2009 is also the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis; the climate conference in Copenhagen is another step towards the global management of our planet.”[29]

As indicated from leaks of the recent 2011 Bilderberg meeting in Switzerland, the euro-zone is in a major crisis, and Bilderberg members are struggling to keep the house of glass from shattering to pieces. One major subject discussed at this year’s meeting, according to Bilderberg investigative journalist, Daniel Estulin (who reportedly has inside sources in the meetings who leak information, which has proved quite accurate in the past), the Bilderberg meeting discussed the situation of Greece, which is likely to only get worse, with another bailout on the horizon, continuing social unrest, and a possible abandonment of the euro. The problems of Greece, Ireland and the wider global economy as a whole were featured in this year’s discussions.[30] Representatives from Greece this year included George Papaconstantinou, the Greek Minister of Finance, among several bankers and businessmen.[31]

Among the EU power players attending this years meeting was the first President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, who was appointed as President following an invitation to a private Bilderberg meeting in November of 2009, at which he gave a speech advocating for EU-wide taxes, allowing the EU to not rely exclusively upon its member nations, but have its “own resources.”[32] Van Rompuy, who previously stated that, “2009 is also the first year of global governance,” is no surprise guest at Bilderberg. Other key EU officials who attended this year’s meeting were Joaquín Almunia, a Vice President of the European Commission; Frans van Daele, Chief of Staff to European Council President Van Rompuy; Neelie Kroes, a Vice President of the European Commission; and of course, Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank.[33]

As with each meeting, there is the official list of participants, and then there are those participants who attend, but whose names are not listed in any official release. At this year’s meeting, some reports indicate that attendees whose names were not listed included NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen, which is not surprising considering that the NATO Secretary-General has generally been present at every meeting; Jose Luis Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister; Angela Merkel, German Chancellor; Bill Gates, Co-Chairman of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former Microsoft CEO; and Robert Gates, the outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense.[34] The Guardian also reported that these “unofficial guests” were spotted at the conference or had their attendance ‘leaked’.[35] Angela Merkel has reportedly attended meetings in the past, which would make her current attendance less than surprising.[36]

At the recent meeting, EU officials were discussing the need for the EU to undertake a “massive power grab” in the face of the massive economic crisis facing Europe and indeed the world. Without such a power grab, the euro and indeed the Union itself would likely collapse; a scenario anathema to everything the Bilderberg group has tried to achieve in its 57-year history. The aim, put simply, would be to have the EU police itself and the nations of the Union, with the ability to punish nations for not following the rules, and as one Bilderberger reportedly stated at the meeting, “What we are heading towards a form of real economic government.”[37] Now while this statement cannot be independently verified, there is much documentation within the public record that several of the European attendees at the meeting could have easily made such a statement.

Prior to the meeting, European Central Bank President, Jean-Claude Trichet, “said governments should consider setting up a finance ministry for the 17-nation currency region as the bloc struggles to contain a region-wide sovereign debt crisis.” Trichet asked: “Would it be too bold, in the economic field, with a single market, a single currency and a single central bank, to envisage a ministry of finance of the union?” Further in line with this thought, and with the ideas laid out in the Bilderberg meeting in favour of a ‘power grab’, Trichet said he supports “giving the European Union powers to veto the budget measures of countries that go ‘harmfully astray,’ though that would require a change to EU Treaties.” Such a finance ministry would, according to Trichet, “exert direct responsibilities in at least three domains”:

They would include “first, the surveillance of both fiscal policies and competitiveness policies” and “direct responsibilities” for countries in fiscal distress, he said. It would also carry out “all the typical responsibilities of the executive branches as regards the union’s integrated financial sector, so as to accompany the full integration of financial services, and third, the representation of the union confederation in international financial institutions.”[38]

Last year, Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme endorsed such an idea of a ‘European Economic Government’ when he stated:

The idea of strengthened economic government has been put on the table and will make progress. In the end, the European Debt Agency or something like it will become a reality. I’m convinced of this. It’s about Europe’s financial stability and it’s not an ideological debate about federalism. I myself am a federalist. But more integration and deeper integration are simply logical consequences of having a single currency.[39]

This is of course, not surprising, considering that Leterme’s predecessor is Herman van Rompuy, the current Bilderberg participant and EU President, a strong-headed advocate of an ‘economic government’ and ‘global governance.’ The plans for an ‘economic government’ require the strong commitment of both France and Germany, which may explain Merkel’s reported appearance at Bilderberg. In March of 2010, the German and French governments released a draft outline that would “strengthen financial policy coordination in the EU.” The plan, seen by German publication Der Spiegel, “calls for increased monitoring of individual member states’ competitiveness so that action can be taken early on should problems emerge.” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker stated in response to the plan, “We need a European economic government in the sense of strengthened coordination of economic policy within the euro zone.”[40] In December of 2010, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble stated that, “In 10 years we will have a structure that corresponds much stronger to what one describes as political union.”[41]

As reported by the German press in early 2011, Germany and France were split on several aspects of such an ‘economic government.’ However, as Merkel stated, “We have obviously been discussing the issue of an economic government for a long time,” and that, “What we are currently envisioning goes yet another step in this direction.” Yet, the differences between the two approaches are mainly as follows:

France would prefer to see the European Council, which comprises the heads of state and government of the EU’s member states, turned into a kind of economic government. Since only euro-zone member countries would be involved initially, French Finance Minister [and past Bilderberg participant] Christine Lagarde has dubbed the project “16 plus.”

The Germans are focused on completely different things. Their preference would be to see the current rescue fund replaced by the so-called European Stability Mechanism in 2013. According to this arrangement, in return for any help, cash-strapped countries would have to subject themselves to a strict cost-cutting regimen.[42]

Mario Draghi is the current President of the Bank of Italy, as well as a board member of the Bank for International Settlements – the BIS (the central bank to the world’s central banks). In an interview posted on the website of the BIS in March of 2010, Mario Draghi stated that in response to the Greek crisis, “In the euro area we need a stronger economic governance providing for more coordinated structural reforms and more discipline.”[43] Mario Draghi also attended the 2009 conference of the Bilderberg Group.[44] Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mario Draghi has been backed by the euro-area finance ministers to be the successor to Jean-Claude Trichet at the European Central Bank, who is due to step down in October of 2011.[45]

Certainly, the objective of a ‘European economic government’ will continue throughout the coming years, especially as the economic crisis continues. As Dominique Strauss-Kahn, outgoing Managing Director of the IMF and long-time Bilderberg participant stated, “crisis is an opportunity.”[46] Bilderberg, while not omnipotent by any means, will do all in its ability to prevent the collapse of the euro or the ending of the European Union. Bilderberg has, after all, from its very beginning, made ‘European integration’ one of its central objectives. In an official biography of Bilderberg-founder and long-time Chairman Prince Bernhard, the Bilderberg Group was credited as “the birthplace of the European Community.”[47]

Regime Change at the IMF?

Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister who has been pivotal in the process towards drafting and proposing a ‘European economic government’, is also considered the front-runner for the job of Managing Director of the IMF. The Managing Director of the IMF is always in attendance at Bilderberg meetings, except for this year, considering outgoing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn is facing sexual assault charges in New York; yet, the top job is usually set aside for those who have been invited to at least one meeting of the Bilderberg Group. While the race has yet to finish, perhaps it is noteworthy that Christine Lagarde attended a Bilderberg meeting in 2009.[48] Could this make her the supreme choice, or is there a surprise in the near future?

A Place for China in the New World Order?

Investigative journalist Daniel Estulin’s report of inside sources in this year’s meeting indicated a rather extensive discussion on the role of China, which is hardly surprising, considering this has been a central topic of discussion in meetings for a number of years. China emerged in discussions on Pakistan, as China has become increasingly Pakistan’s closest economic and strategic ally, a trend that is continuing as America continues to spread the Afghan war into neighbouring Pakistan. China is also a major player in Africa, threatening the West’s stranglehold over the continent, in particular through the World Bank and IMF. Most importantly, however, and not unrelated to its role in Pakistan and Africa, China has become the greatest economic competitor for the United States in the world, and as the IMF even admitted recently, its economy is expected to surpass that of the United States by 2016. Bilderberg paid attention to this issue not simply as a financial-economic consideration, but as a massive geopolitical transition in the world: “the biggest story of our time.”[49]

What made the discussion on China at this year’s meeting unique was that it actually included two attendees from China for the first time ever. The two guests were Huang Yiping, a prominent economics professor at Peking University (China’s Harvard), and Fu Ying, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.[50] This is especially unusual and telling of the importance of the discussion at hand, considering that Bilderberg is exclusively a European and North American (Atlantic) organization, and in the past, when Bilderberg memebers David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski suggested Japan be allowed to join in 1972, the European rejected the proposition, and instead the Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 to integrate the elites of Western Europe, North America, and Japan. The Trilateral Commission eventually expanded the Japanese section of the group into a ‘Pacific Asian Group’ in 2000 to include not only Japan, but South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

In 2009 the G20 was endowed with the task of ‘managing’ the global economic crisis – to include the ‘emerging’ economic giants, notably China and India – and as Bilderberg member Jean-Claude Trichet stated, this marked “the emergence of the G20 as the prime group for global economic governance.”[51] That same year the newly-appointed European Union President Herman van Rompuy declared to be “the first year of global governance.” No surprise then, that also in 2009, China and India were invited as official members of the Trilateral Commission.[52] This indicates a growing role for India and especially China in global affairs, and participation in Bilderberg meetings emphasizes the aim to not alienate China from the established institutions, ideologies and systems of global power, but to more fully integrate China within that system. The aim of the global elite, perhaps best represented by Bilderberg, is not to allow for the collapse of the American empire and the rise of a new one; rather, it is to manage the collapse of American hegemony into an entirely new system of global governance. This ‘big idea’ is not possible without the participation of China, and thus, as Bilderberg has long been saturated with the ideology of ‘global governance,’ it cannot be seen as too surprising to see China invited. Perhaps the surprise should be that it simply took this long.

Is Bilderberg Building a Global Government?

Jon Ronson wrote an article for the Guardian paper in which he managed to interview key members of the Bilderberg Group for an exposé on the organization, attempting to dismantle the “conspiracy theories” surrounding the secrecy of the meetings. However, through his interviews, important information regarding the social importance of the group continued to emerge. Ronson attempted to contact David Rockefeller, but only managed to reach his press secretary who told Ronson that the “conspiracy theories” about Rockefeller and “global think-tanks such as Bilderberg in general” left David Rockefeller “thoroughly fed up.” According to his press secretary, “Mr. Rockefeller’s conclusion was that this was a battle between rational and irrational thought. Rational people favoured globalisation. Irrational people preferred nationalism.”[53]

While dismissing “conspiracy theories” that Bilderberg “runs the world,” Ronson did explain that the Bilderberg members he interviewed admitted, “that international affairs had, from time to time, been influenced by these sessions.” As Denis Healey, a 30-year member of the Steering Committee, himself pointedly explained:

To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing… Bilderberg is a way of bringing together politicians, industrialists, financiers and journalists. Politics should involve people who aren’t politicians. We make a point of getting along younger politicians who are obviously rising, to bring them together with financiers and industrialists who offer them wise words. It increases the chance of having a sensible global policy.[54]

Will Hutton, the former Editor of the Observer, who had been invited to Bilderberg meetings in the past, once famously referred to the group as “the high priests of globalization.”[55] Hutton has said that “people take part in these networks in order to influence the way the world works,” and to create, as he put it, “the international common sense” of policy. The Chairman of the Bilderberg Group, Viscount Etienne Davignon, stated that, “I don’t think (we are) a global ruling class because I don’t think a global ruling class exists. I simply think it’s people who have influence interested to speak to other people who have influence.”[56]

G. William Domhoff is a professor of Psychology and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has written about the Bilderberg Group. In an interview, he discounted the notion that the study of such groups is relegated to the realm of conspiracy theory, and instead explained that he studies “how elites strive to develop consensus, which is through such publicly observable organizations as corporate boards and the policy-planning network, which can be studied in detail, and which are reported on in the media in at least a halfway accurate manner.”[57]

Bilderbergers have long been advocates of global governance and ‘global government,’ and ‘crisis’ is always an excellent means through which to advance their agendas. Just as the Greek crisis has stepped up calls for the formation of a ‘European economic government,’ an idea which has been sought out for much longer than Greece has been in crisis, so too is the global economic crisis an excuse to advance the cause of ‘global economic governance.’ Outgoing Managing Director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, stated in May of 2010 that, “crisis is an opportunity,” and he called for “a new global currency issued by a global central bank, with robust governance and institutional features,” and that the “global central bank could also serve as a lender of last resort.” However, he stated, “I fear we are still very far from that level of global collaboration.”[58] Unless, of course, the world continues to descend into economic and financial ruin, as any astute economic observer would likely warn is taking place.

Following the April 2009 G20 summit, “plans were announced for implementing the creation of a new global currency to replace the US dollar’s role as the world reserve currency.” Point 19 of the communiqué released by the G20 at the end of the Summit stated, “We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity.” SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, are “a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund.” As the Telegraph reported, “the G20 leaders have activated the IMF’s power to create money and begin global ‘quantitative easing’. In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body.”[59] The Washington Post reported that the IMF is poised to transform “into a veritable United Nations for the global economy”:

It would have vastly expanded authority to act as a global banker to governments rich and poor. And with more flexibility to effectively print its own money, it would have the ability to inject liquidity into global markets in a way once limited to major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve… the IMF is all but certain to take a central role in managing the world economy. As a result, Washington is poised to become the power center for global financial policy, much as the United Nations has long made New York the world center for diplomacy.[60]

While the IMF is pushed to the forefront of the global currency agenda, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) remains as the true authority in terms of ‘global governance’ overall. As the IMF’s magazine, Finance and Development, stated in 2009, “the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), established in 1930, is the central and the oldest focal point for coordination of global governance arrangements.”[61] Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) and long-time Bilderberg participant, gave a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in April of 2010 in which he explained that, “the significant transformation of global governance that we are engineering today is illustrated by three examples”:

First, the emergence of the G20 as the prime group for global economic governance at the level of ministers, governors and heads of state or government. Second, the establishment of the Global Economy Meeting of central bank governors under the auspices of the BIS as the prime group for the governance of central bank cooperation. And third, the extension of Financial Stability Board membership to include all the systemic emerging market economies.[62]

In concluding his speech, Trichet emphasized that, “global governance is of the essence to improve decisively the resilience of the global financial system.”[63] The following month, Trichet spoke at the Bank of Korea, where he said, “central bank cooperation is part of a more general trend that is reshaping global governance, and which has been spurred by the global financial crisis,” and that, “it is therefore not surprising that the crisis has led to even better recognition of their increased economic importance and need for full integration into global governance.” Once again, Trichet identified the BIS and its “various fora” – such as the Global Economy Meeting and the Financial Stability Board – as the “main channel” for central bank cooperation.[64]

For more on ‘Global Government’ and the global economic crisis, see: Andrew Gavin Marshall, “Crisis is an Opportunity”: Engineering a Global Depression to Create a Global Government, Global Research, 26 October 2010. 
 

Rockefeller’s Dream

David Rockefeller celebrated his 96th birthday during last weekend’s Bilderberg meeting, and is one of if not the only remaining original founders of the group in 1954. If the Bilderberg Group represents the “high priests of globalization,” then David Rockefeller is the ‘Pope’.

James Wolfensohn represents the importance of the Rockefellers to not only America, but to the whole process of globalization. James D. Wolfensohn, an Australian national, was President of the World Bank from 1995-2005, and has since founded and leads his private firm, Wolfensohn & Company, LLC. He has also been a long-time Steering Committee member of the Bilderberg Group, and has served as an Honorary Trustee of the Brookings Institution, a major American think tank, as well as a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Wolfensohn’s father, Hyman, was employed by James Armand de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking dynasty, after whom James was named. His father taught him how to “cultivate mentors, friends and contacts of influence.”[65] Wolfensohn rose quickly through the financial world, and as his father had lived in service to the Rothschild’s – the dominant family of the 19th century – James Wolfensohn lived in service to the Rockefellers, arguably the dominant family of the 20th century. On the event of David Rockefeller’s 90th birthday, James Wolfensohn, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, stated:

[T]he person who had perhaps the greatest influence on my life professionally in this country, and I’m very happy to say personally there afterwards, is David Rockefeller, who first met me at the Harvard Business School in 1957 or ‘58… [At the beginning of the 20th century] as we looked at the world, a family, the Rockefeller family, decided that the issues were not just national for the United States, were not just related to the rich countries. And where, extraordinarily and amazingly, David’s grandfather set up the Rockefeller Foundation, the purpose of which was to take a global view.

… So the Rockefeller family, in this last 100 years, has contributed in a way that is quite extraordinary to the development in that period and has given ample focus to the issues of development with which I have been associated. In fact, it’s fair to say that there has been no other single family influence greater than the Rockefeller’s in the whole issue of globalization and in the whole issue of addressing the questions which, in some ways, are still before us today. And for that David, we’re deeply grateful to you and for your own contribution in carrying these forward in the way that you did.[66]

David Rockefeller has been even less humble (but perhaps more honest) in his assertion of his family’s and his own personal role in shaping the world. In his 2002 book, Memoirs, David Rockefeller wrote:

For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.[67]

As if this admission was not quite enough, at a 1991 meeting of the Bilderberg group, David Rockefeller was quoted as saying:

We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.[68]

So, happy 96th birthday, Mr. David Rockefeller! But I am sorry to say (or perhaps not so sorry) that while the mainstream media have “respected their promises of discretion,” the new media – the alternative media – have not. As you said yourself, “It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years,” it seems that the “lights of publicity” are now descending upon your “plan for the world,” making it all the more difficult to come to pass. Indeed, “the world is more sophisticated,” but not because the world is ‘ready’ for your plan, but because the world is getting ready to reject it. While national sovereignty certainly has problems and is hardly something I would consider ‘ideal’, the “supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers” is about the worst scenario one could imagine. So as a birthday present to you, Mr. Rockefeller, I promise (and I am sure that I am speaking for a great many more than simply myself) that I will continue to expose your “plans for the world,” so that your dream – and our nightmare – will never become a reality. The light will shine, and in due time, the people will be ready to follow its path.

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

Notes

[1]        Jon Ronson, Who pulls the strings? (part 3), The Guardian, 10 March 2001:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/mar/10/extract1

[2]        CBC, Informal forum or global conspiracy? CBC News Online: June 13, 2006:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/bilderberg-group/

[3]        Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. (South End Press: 1980), 161-171

[4]        Glen McGregor, Secretive power brokers meeting coming to Ottawa? Ottawa Citizen: May 24, 2006:
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=ff614eb8-02cc-41a3-a42d-30642def1421&k=62840

[5]        Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge University Press: New York, 1990), page 129.

[6]        Bruno Waterfield, Dutch Prince Bernhard ‘was member of Nazi party’, The Telegraph, 5 March 2010:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/7377402/Dutch-Prince-Bernhard-was-member-of-Nazi-party.html

[7]        Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), page 52.

[8]        Robert F. Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Indiana University Press: Boston, 1980), page 1.

[9]        Inderjeet Parmar, “‘To Relate Knowledge and Action’: The Impact of the Rockefeller Foundation on Foreign Policy Thinking During America’s Rise to Globalism 1939-1945,” Minerva (Vol. 40, 2002), page 246.

[10]      Ibid, page 247.

[11]      Robert F. Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Indiana University Press, 1980), page 319.

[12]      Joan Roelofs, “Foundations and Collaboration,” Critical Sociology, Vol. 33, 2007, page 480

[13]      Ibid, page 481.

[14]      Ibid, page 483.

[15]      Erkki Berndtson, “Review Essay: Power of Foundations and the American Ideology,” Critical Sociology, Vol. 33, 2007, page 580

[16]      Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), page 52.

[17]      Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge University Press: New York, 1990), pages 131-132.

[18]      Bilderberg Meetings, Former Steering Committee Members, BilderbergMeetings.org:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/former-steering-committee-members.html; Steering Committee:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/governance.html

[19]      Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. (South End Press: 1980), 161-162

[20]      CFR, The First Transformation. CFR History:
http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/first_transformation.html

[21]      William F. Jasper, Rogues’ gallery of EU founders. The New American: July 12, 2004:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JZS/is_14_20/ai_n25093084/pg_1?tag=artBody;col1

[22]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs. The Telegraph: June 19, 2001:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/1356047/Euro-federalists-financed-by-US-spy-chiefs.html

[23]      Ibid.

[24]      Bilderberg Group, GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN CONFERENCE. The Bilderberg Group: September 23-25, 1955, page 7:

http://wikileaks.org/leak/bilderberg-meetings-report-1955.pdf

[25]      Who are these Bilderbergers and what do they do? The Sunday Herald: May 30, 1999:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_19990530/ai_n13939252

[26]      Andrew Rettman, ‘Jury’s out’ on future of Europe, EU doyen says. EUobserver: March 16, 2009:
http://euobserver.com/9/27778

[27]      Daily Mail, EU Constitution – the main points. The Daily Mail: June 19, 2004:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-307249/EU-Constitution–main-points.html

[28]      Ian Traynor, Who speaks for Europe? Criticism of ‘shambolic’ process to fill key jobs. The Guardian, 17 November 2009:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/17/top-european-job-selection-process

[29]      Herman Van Rompuy, Speech Upon Accepting the EU Presidency, BBC News, 22 November 2009:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzm_R3YBgPg

[30]      Daniel Estulin, Bilderberg Report 2011, DanielEstulin.com, 14 June 2011:
http://www.danielestulin.com/2011/06/13/bilderberg-report-2011-informe-club-bilderberg-2011/

[31]      Bilderberg Meetings, Bilderberg 2011: List of Participants, BilderbergMeetings.org, June 2011:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/participants_2011.html

[32]      Bruno Waterfield, EU Presidency candidate Herman Van Rompuy calls for new taxes, The Telegraph, 16 November 2009:
 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/6582837/EU-Presidency-candidate-Herman-Van-Rompuy-calls-for-new-taxes.html

[33]      Bilderberg Meetings, Bilderberg 2011: List of Participants, BilderbergMeetings.org, June 2011:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/participants_2011.html

[34]      PrisonPlanet, Exclusive: Unnamed Bilderberg Attendees Revealed, Gates Violates Logan Act, Prison Planet, 11 June 2011:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/exclusive-unnamed-bilderberg-attendees-revealed.html

[35]      Charlie Skelton, Bilderberg 2011: The opposition steps up, The Guardian, 11 June 2011:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/jun/11/bilderberg-switzerland

[36]      SwissInfo, World’s Powerful Bilderberg Group Meets In St Moritz, EurasiaReview, 9 June 2011:
http://www.eurasiareview.com/worlds-powerful-bilderberg-group-meets-in-st-moritz-09062011/

[37]      Daniel Estulin, Bilderberg Report 2011, DanielEstulin.com, 14 June 2011:
http://www.danielestulin.com/2011/06/13/bilderberg-report-2011-informe-club-bilderberg-2011/

[38]      Bloomberg, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet calls for Euro Finance Ministry, The Economic Times, 3 June 2011:
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-06-03/news/29617216_1_single-currency-jean-claude-trichet-budget

[39]      Daniel Hannan, European economic government is inevitable, Telegraph Blogs, 17 March 2010:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100030219/european-economic-government-is-inevitable/

[40]      Spiegel, Plans for European Economic Government Gain Steam, Der Spiegel, 1 March 2011:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,680955,00.html

[41]      ANDREW WILLIS, Germany predicts EU ‘political union’ in 10 years, EU Observer, 13 December 2010:
http://euobserver.com/9/31485

[42]      Peter Müller and Michael Sauga, France and Germany Split over Plans for European Economic Government, Der Spiegel, 3 January 2011:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,737423,00.html

[43]      Mario Draghi: “We need a European economic government” – interview in Handelsblatt, The Bank for International Settlements, March 2010:
http://www.bis.org/review/r100325b.pdf

[44]      Bilderberg Meetings, Participants 2009, BilderbergMeetings.org, May 2009:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/participants.html

[45]      Ecofin: Finance Ministers Back Mario Draghi To Lead ECB, The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2011:
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110516-715655.html

[46]      Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Concluding Remarks by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, at the High-Level Conference on the International Monetary System, Zurich, 11 May 2010:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2010/051110.htm

[47]      Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge University Press: New York, 1990), pages 131-132.

[48]      Bilderberg Meetings, Participants 2009, BilderbergMeetings.org, May 2009:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/participants.html

[49]      Daniel Estulin, Bilderberg Report 2011, DanielEstulin.com, 14 June 2011:
http://www.danielestulin.com/2011/06/13/bilderberg-report-2011-informe-club-bilderberg-2011/

[50]      Bilderberg Meetings, Bilderberg 2011: List of Participants, BilderbergMeetings.org, June 2011:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/participants_2011.html

[51]      Jean-Claude Trichet, Global Governance Today, Keynote address by Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 26 April 2010:
http://www.bis.org/review/r100428b.pdf

[52]      The Trilateral Commission, About the Pacific Asian Group, May 2011:
http://www.trilateral.org/go.cfm?do=Page.View&pid=13

[53]      Jon Ronson, Who pulls the strings? (part 2), The Guardian, 10 March 2001:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/mar/10/extract

[54]      Ibid.

[55]      Mark Oliver, The Bilderberg group, The Guardian, 4 June 2004:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2004/jun/04/netnotes.markoliver

[56]      BBC, Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group, BBC News, 29 September 2005:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4290944.stm

[57]      Chip Berlet, Interview: G. William Domhoff, New Internationalist, September 2004:
http://www.publiceye.org/antisemitism/nw_domhoff.html

[58]      Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Concluding Remarks by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, at the High-Level Conference on the International Monetary System, Zurich, 11 May 2010:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2010/051110.htm

[59]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The G20 moves the world a step closer to a global currency. The Telegraph: April 3, 2009:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/5096524/The-G20-moves-the-world-a-step-closer-to-a-global-currency.html

[60]      Anthony Faiola, A Bigger, Bolder Role Is Imagined For the IMF, The Washington Post, 20 April 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/19/AR2009041902242.html?hpid=topnews

[61]      Amar Bhattacharya, A Tangled Web, Finance and Development, March 2009, Vol. 46, No. 1:
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2009/03/bhattacharya.htm

[62]      Jean-Claude Trichet, Global Governance Today, Keynote address by Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 26 April 2010:
http://www.bis.org/review/r100428b.pdf

[63]      Ibid.

[64]      Jean-Claude Trichet, Central bank cooperation after the global financial crisis, Video address by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the Bank of Korea International Conference 2010, Seoul, 31 May 2010:

http://www.ecb.int/press/key/date/2010/html/sp100531.en.html

[65]      Michael Stutchbury, The man who inherited the Rothschild legend, The Australian, 30 October 2010:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/the-man-who-inherited-the-rothschild-legend/story-e6frg6z6-1225945329773

[66]      James D. Wolfensohn, Council on Foreign Relations Special Symposium in honor of David Rockefeller’s 90th Birthday, The Council on Foreign Relations, 23 May 2005:
http://www.cfr.org/world/council-foreign-relations-special-symposium-honor-david-rockefellers-90th-birthday/p8133

[67]      David Rockefeller, Memoirs (Random House, New York: 2002), pages 404 – 405.

[68]      Gordon Laxer, “Radical Transformative Nationalisms Confront the US Empire,” Current Sociology (Vol. 51, Issue 2: March 2003), page 141.

The War on Libya: Canada’s Parliament Endorses Military Escalation

June 16th, 2011 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

While the US Congress questions the legitimacy of the war on Libya, the Canadian parliament with one dissenting voice, votes in favor of extending Canada’s participation in an illegal and criminal military undertaking:

On Tuesday, after Canada recognized the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the rebels are the true representatives of the Libyan population and will therefore be a critical player in Canada’s efforts to provide assistance.

“Our government will engage with the institutions and representatives of the NTC,” Baird told Parliament on Tuesday before the evening vote. “I will be seeking a meeting with my counterparts on the NTC.

“We will identify members of the NTC responsible for domestic issues and propose meetings with their Canadian counterparts. We will also happily arrange meetings between NTC members and honourable members of this place.”

The announcement also came hot on the heels of Ottawa’s new commitment of $2 million in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Libya.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was the only dissenting MP to vote against the extension of the mission for three-and-a-half months. (CTV, June 15, 2011)

The broader implications of this “humanitarian war” and Ottawa’s role in the US-NATO military alliance, not to mention the cost of this military operation to Canadian taxpayers has been barely mentioned in Canada’s media.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Quebecois, which claim to be “progressive’ and “anti-war”, have given a blank cheque to the US-NATO sponsored war in North Africa.

We call upon the rank and file of all major political parties (except the Green Party) to question this diabolical political “consensus” in favor of war. Contact your MP. Raise this issue at the local level.

How could a party committed to the tenets of democracy such as the NDP endorse the continuation of a bombing campaign which is now in its third month, on the grounds that “civilian lives must be protected”?

Since when are civilian lives protected by B-2 Stealth Bombers and F-16 Fighter Jets?

There is ample evidence that this war has resulted in countless deaths and atrocities. The country’s civilian infrastructure is being destroyed.

And now NATO is preparing to launch a ground war in derogation of Libya’s sovereignty.  

In substance, Canada has granted its support to the landing of NATO troops in Libya, virtually without debate.

When war is heralded as a mission of peace within the Canadian parliament, the very foundations of Canadian democracy are threatened.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party is the only committed anti-war voice in our House of Commons.

When the lie becomes the truth and war presented is presented as peace, there is no turning backwards.

The war on Libya is an integral part of the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which until recently consisted of three distinct areas of conflict : Afghanistan and Pakistan (the AfPak War), Iraq, Palestine.

A fourth war theater has opened up in North Africa, which raises the issue of escalation over a vast geographical area.

These four war theaters are interrelated. They are part of a broader region of conflict, which extends from North Africa and the Middle East, engulfing a large part of the Mediterranean basin, to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan, and Northern Pakistan.

We call upon people across Canada, from coast to coast, to challenge the decision of the House of Commons as well as question the legitimacy of this diabolical military agenda, carried out in our name.

Similarly, we must challenge Canada’s corporate media which has deliberately obfuscated the causes and consequences of the war on Libya.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, June 16, 2011

Defence Minister MacKay defends Libya extension

CTV.ca , June 15, 2011

One day after Parliament voted overwhelmingly to extend Canada’s mission to Libya by several months, Defence Minister Peter MacKay acknowledged many questions remain around what a future democratic government might look like in Libya.

Canada is part of a NATO mission that began in February to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians, but that has ultimately become a mission to remove leader Moammar Gadhafi from power.

Canada announced on Tuesday it was formally recognizing the rebel National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya.

There have been questions, however, about who comprises the NTC and what its longterm goals for Libya might be.

MacKay told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday “there are still some unknowns” when it comes to the disparate rebel group, but the decision to back the NTC was the right one.

“Democracy isn’t always, shall we say, clearly defined,” MacKay told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.

“But it is a reaction to the people of Libya who were in the streets, and as we’ve seen in other countries throughout the region they wanted a change. They were no logger going to accept the repression, the violence that their own government was perpetrating against them.”

Canada got involved in Libya under the premise of protecting civilians. The goal has now shifted dramatically, with Canada taking part in air strikes against compounds belonging to Gadhafi and his loyalists.

MacKay said that achieving the United Nations’ long-term goals for Libya, such as ensuring the safety of the population and allowing humanitarian aid to enter the country, can only occur after Gadhafi is removed.

“We are trying to attempt to stop an atrocity, that is what we are there to do,” MacKay said.

“We are there to protect human life and to allow this transitional council to do what they have to do to bring about a kind of functioning and stable society so that they can go forward without living under the heel of Gadhafi.”

Canada currently has 650 military personnel in the region, many of them aboard the HMCS Charlottetown.

Canada has so far spent about $23 million on the mission, but the cost could climb to an estimated $60 million if Canada remains in Libya until the end of September.

On Tuesday, after Canada recognized the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the rebels are the true representatives of the Libyan population and will therefore be a critical player in Canada’s efforts to provide assistance.

The policy echoes similar announcements from Germany and Australia in recent days, as more countries join the growing list of governments that officially recognize the rebels.

France, Spain, Italy, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have also formally recognized the council.

“Our government will engage with the institutions and representatives of the NTC,” Baird told Parliament on Tuesday before the evening vote. “I will be seeking a meeting with my counterparts on the NTC.

“We will identify members of the NTC responsible for domestic issues and propose meetings with their Canadian counterparts. We will also happily arrange meetings between NTC members and honourable members of this place.”

The announcement also came hot on the heels of Ottawa’s new commitment of $2 million in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Libya.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was the only dissenting MP to vote against the extension of the mission for three-and-a-half months.

US talks peace and prepares for war in Sudan

June 16th, 2011 by Susan Garth

In the worsening conflict in Sudan between the Khartoum government and the southern states that voted for independence in the January referendum, an estimated 1,500 people have been killed since the referendum and up to 150,000 people have fled their homes. Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian disaster as the country edges towards a renewal of the two decades long north-south civil war that claimed more than two million lives.

President Barack Obama has called for a ceasefire, presenting himself as an honest broker in a conflict that is largely of US making. The humanitarian disaster threatens to become a pretext for yet another US military adventure in Africa. Washington has intervened in Libya with bombing raids aimed at overthrowing the Gaddafi regime. Now it has Sudan in his sights.

Obama adopted the same high moral tone that he has used in relation to Libya. “There is no military solution,” he said on the Voice of America. “The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan must live up to their responsibilities. The government of Sudan must prevent a further escalation of this crisis by ceasing its military actions immediately, including aerial bombardments, forced displacements and campaigns of intimidation.”

This is from the president who has sanctioned drone attacks in Afghanistan that have killed civilians, personally ordered assassinations and watched them unfold on closed-circuit television, and is currently assisting the NATO bombing of Tripoli in an effort to kill a head of state. For Obama to speak of peace is entirely hypocritical.

Obama called on Sudanese leaders to seek a peaceful solution and assured them that “the United States will take the steps we have pledged toward normal relations.” But there was a sting in the tail. He went on to threaten that “those who flout their international obligations will face more pressure and isolation, and they will be held accountable for their actions.”

The implication is that President Omar al-Bashir, who like Muammar Gaddafi has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, can expect the treatment like that being administered to Gaddafi’s regime if he does not follow Obama’s bidding.

Khartoum was the target of a US cruise missile attack in 1998 when the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory was destroyed. The Clinton administration claimed that it was a chemical weapons plant linked to al Qaeda. Ample evidence has since emerged that the factory was engaged in purely medical work and did not have any such links.

US claims were a complete fabrication and the destruction of the factory was aimed at intimidating the Sudanese population and depriving them of valuable infrastructure. The German ambassador to Sudan, Werner Daum, has calculated that the loss of the factory resulted in tens of thousands of deaths from malaria and tuberculosis because of the resultant shortage of life-saving medicines.

In April this year two people were killed when a car was hit by a missile in Port Sudan. The Sudanese authorities said that the missile had been fired from an unidentified aircraft that flew into Sudanese airspace. They suggested that Israel was behind the attack. The Israeli government has made no comment. Only Israel and the US have the type of military technology used in this attack, and it is hard to believe that the Israeli government could have carried it without US knowledge. The victims have not been identified but it was undoubtedly an assassination.

The conflict that is developing in Sudan is the result of a long period of US involvement in the region. Successive US administrations backed the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) under its US-trained leader John Garang. His sudden death in a helicopter crash in no way disrupted the relationship.

The US provided arms for the SPLM’s fight against the Khartoum government and has continued to pour weapons into the country following the 2005 US-brokered agreement that ended the civil war. That provided for a referendum on southern secession and the creation of a new state in southern Sudan centred on the capital of Juba. The vote for secession has given Obama a platform within Sudan to launch an assault on the Khartoum regime through a proxy force.

The whole of Sudan is covered by US sanctions that forbid the export of arms to the country. The US is only permitted to export non-military goods to Sudan including the south. But according to WikiLeaks a cargo of tanks, grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns captured by Somali pirates in 2008 was intended for the SPLM. They had been sold to the SPLM by Kenya, a close US ally in the region. The leaked cables revealed that the US was aware of the shipment.

It is clear from this leak that the US has been preparing the SPLM for a new military conflict while all the public pronouncements coming out of the White House and the State Department have been about peace.

Conflict along the still undefined border was inevitable. The border states of South Kordofan and Abyei are among the few oil-producing areas that could remain in Khartoum’s hands after the secession of the south. They were bound to be bitterly contested, but there is evidence that the present conflict was provoked by forces loyal to the SPLM. On May 20, militia units allied to the SPLM ambushed a convoy of UN peacekeepers and northern troops. Diplomatic sources suggest that this was a deliberate attempt to draw Khartoum into a conflict over the border. If so, it worked well, because Khartoum’s response was to send tanks into the border town of Abyei and it has now bombed an airfield in South Kordofan.

A separate referendum was supposed to be held in Abyei to decide whether it should join the northern or the southern state. But the vote was postponed after violent clashes between pro-Khartoum and pro-southern groups. Attempts at mediation by other African states have failed and the two sides are becoming increasingly intransigent.

“Abyei is northern Sudanese land,” President Omar Hassan al-Bashir insisted. He added that Sudan was not afraid of US threats.

Speaking from the southern capital of Juba SPLM spokesman Philip Aguer told the Financial Times “The UN mission has completely failed in Sudan: what is the point of ‘monitoring’ peace when you are ‘monitoring’ people being killed—the UN Security Council must bring a mission that can impose peace, they should do more than lip service.”

The SPLM are in effect demanding UN cover for its own military operations as Alassane Ouattara had in Ivory Coast in his struggle against Laurent Gbagbo.

The SPLM depicts itself as the injured party while at the same time reorganising and re-equipping its army. Atim Garang of the SPLM accused the Khartoum government of wanting war. “We dreamed of good and non-tensed relations between north and south Sudan,” he went on, “and we were arranging for continuation of common interests with the north, namely with regard to our partnership in the field of oil production and marketing, but now we greatly doubt the real intentions of north Sudan.”

Vice-President Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon has visited Washington to ask for more robust support for the SPLM. Having engineered a humanitarian crisis on the border, Washington may well feel that it can now offer more overt military support for the SLPM.

On its part the Khartoum government has turned to its longstanding ally, China. Bashir will visit Beijing in the next weeks. The subject of his talks has not been announced, but China is the main supplier of arms to Sudan.

China has been largely responsible for developing the Sudanese oil industry, 80 percent of which is in the south and will come under southern authority once partition takes place. Most of the paved roads in southern Sudan are in the oil fields and were built by Chinese companies. Potentially, the new government could insist on renegotiating contracts and allowing US companies to have a share of its oil resources. The extent of Chinese investment put at risk by the partition of Sudan is immense. The Chinese National Petroleum Company is thought to have invested some $20 billion in Sudan, which is the source of 30 percent of China’s oil imports.

Sudan has a strategic significance for China, and the provocative stance that the Obama administration has adopted threatens to lead to the kind of confrontation that Beijing has so far studiously avoided in Africa. A civil war over control of Sudan’s oil has potential global implications. It may prove to have a profoundly destabilizing impact on international relations.

Life expectancy declining in many parts of US

June 16th, 2011 by Patrick Martin

Average life expectancy is falling in many parts of the United States and for many demographic groups, most notably women, according to a study being published Wednesday in the journal Population Health Metrics, and conducted by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The results of the study are particularly striking in terms of women’s health. One quarter of all US counties saw an actual reduction in life expectancy for women between 1997 and 2007, meaning that girls born today are expected to live shorter lives than their mothers. As the Los Angeles Times wrote, “For life expectancy to decline in a developed nation is rare. Setbacks on this scale have not been seen in the U.S. since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, according to demographers.”

This trend has accelerated over the past two decades. From 1987 to 1997, there were 314 counties out of more than 3,000 with either a loss of female life expectancy or no growth in it. From 1997 to 2007, there were 860 counties in which that was the case, compared to only 84 counties where male life expectancy decreased or stagnated.

These 860 counties form a broad swath across Appalachia (parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina) and the entire rural South, from the Carolinas to north Texas, as well as portions of the border states, including 82 percent of all counties in Oklahoma, 66 percent in Tennessee, and 59 percent in Kentucky.

In Mississippi, long the poorest and most unhealthy state, there are five counties where life expectancy for women is the same as that in Honduras, El Salvador and Peru, among the most impoverished countries in Latin America. Madison County, Mississippi, just north of Jackson, saw a staggering drop of two and a half years of life expectancy for women in just the past decade.

For one county in Mississippi, male life expectancy, for whites and blacks combined, was lower than the average male life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa. For five Mississippi counties, male life expectancy was the equivalent of the Philippines and Brazil.

The report, entitled “Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context,” compared life expectancy data for 3,138 U.S. counties and 10 cities with a previous survey from 1987 to 1997.

US life expectancy over a 20-year period, 1987-2007, continued to rise in absolute terms, up 4.3 years for men and 2.4 years for women, in large part because of declining rates of smoking and improvements in medical technology. But the United States lagged behind other industrialized countries, falling from 20th in the world in terms of life expectancy in 1987 to 37th in 2007.

The “falling behind” spoken of in the title of the study is particularly pronounced when data on the United States is compared with equivalent data from the 10 nations with the highest life expectancy. The 10 countries, 7 in western Europe, include Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Norway, Canada, Spain, France and the Netherlands.

The study calculated historical averages for life expectancy, year by year, for the top 10 countries, and then rated each US county against that scale—in other words, how many years behind (or in a few cases, ahead) each county was, compared to what the study called the health “frontier,” i.e., the average of the top 10 countries.

Some of the Mississippi counties, for example, had life expectancies equal to those achieved in the top 10 countries as far back as 1957, giving them a rating of 50 years “behind” the frontier. A few wealthy areas, such as Fairfax County, Virginia, were actually better than the average of the top 10 countries today, and received a rating of 16 years “ahead” of the frontier.

The overall trend was a wider and wider gap between the US performance and the top 10 countries. In 2007, only 78 US counties had improved their ranking for male life expectancy on this international scale, while 1,406 counties fell further behind and 1,663 counties were essentially unchanged. For female life expectancy, the figures were even worse: only 45 counties improved, 2,054 fell further behind, and 1,048 counties stayed the same.

Another striking feature of the report was the scale of inequality in health outcomes. A relative handful of affluent suburban counties, mainly in the Northeast and West Coast, have life expectancies better than or equal to those in Japan and western Europe. But overall, some 80 percent of US counties were behind the average for the top 10 countries, and this proportion has increased dramatically over the last decade.

One part of the study looked at local variations in Britain and Canada, and found that the United States had much greater internal disparities. While 17 percent of US counties were 30 years or more behind the world’s best countries, only 2 percent of Canadian localities were that far behind—mostly among the Inuit population in the far north—and in Britain, with its National Health Service, only two tenths of 1 percent of local jurisdictions were more than 30 years behind.

There were some positive findings in the study:

*Despite high poverty rates, Southern California and other parts of the Southwest have relatively better life expectancy because the Hispanic immigrant population is much healthier than the US average.

*Twelve states, including the whole of New England, Pennsylvania, and the Upper Midwest, have not a single county where life expectancy has declined.

*Life expectancy increased sharply in New York City, in large measure because of better treatment of AIDS patients, which drastically cut the mortality rate.

Overall, the report on life expectancy underscores the catastrophic effects of economic slump and growing social inequality on the physical survival of large portions of the working class population in the United States. Capitalism is not only inflicting unemployment, poverty, homelessness and hunger, it is literally killing young people, the elderly and people of working age.

Press accounts of the IHME study claimed that the authors discounted the impact of poverty and lack of education and emphasized the significance of behavioral factors such as smoking and obesity. This reporting demonstrates more the bias of the corporate-controlled media than a fair reading of the actual outlook of the scientists involved.

They write in the report summary: “Strong relationships have been documented between race/ethnicity, individual or community income, income inequality, and mortality in the US.” Later, they add, “Any analysis of causes of disparities will draw substantial attention to poverty, inequality, race, and ethnicity, but some of the poor performance and falling performance must be related to other factors.”

Dr. Ali Mokdad, an IHME official who is researching causal factors affecting life expectancy, listed four reasons for the trends found in the report: poverty and lack of education, access to health care, quality of medical care, and preventable risk factors.

The preventable conditions like obesity, untreated high blood pressure and smoking, are also correlated indirectly with poverty and lack of education, as well as lack of access to health care, which is particularly pronounced in isolated rural areas.

The tobacco companies cultivated the women’s market in the United States with heavy advertising in the decades after World War II. Despite the overall decline in smoking from 1965 on, after the Surgeon General’s report identified smoking as a major cause of cancer and lung disease, American women have ever since had a higher rate of smoking than women in other countries, which has had long-term consequences for their health.

Even more dangerous is the enormous increase in obesity, which has doubled in the past 30 years, from 17 percent to 34 percent of the population. Obesity is linked to low incomes, lack of access to healthy food choices, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, and the dominance of fast-food outlets in poorer areas.

President Barack Obama insisted Wednesday that the current US action in Libya did not violate US law, rejecting rising criticism in Congress over the legal grounding and goals of the operation.

In a 30-page report to Congress, the White House argued that US participation in the NATO-led assault on the forces of Moamer Kadhafi did not require congressional authorization as Washington was confined to a supporting role.

The report’s legal analysis said the US involvement in the UN-authorized operation did not rise to the kind of direct, offensive warfare that needed to be endorsed by lawmakers under the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

“US forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition,” the report said, noting that the use of force was being used solely to protect civilians, enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.

“US operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of US ground troops, US casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors,” the report said.

A senior administration official added: “we are not engaged in any of the activities that typically over the years in war powers analysis has been considered to constitute hostilities within the meaning of the statute.”

The report also put US costs at $715 million for military and humanitarian operations in Libya since unrest began in the north African country earlier this year and the projected price tag through September is about $1.1 billion.

The document was compiled after House Speaker John Boehner sent a scathing letter to the president warning that US operations would be illegal come Sunday because they lacked formal congressional approval.

The War Powers Resolution gives presidents 60 days to get authorization for a military deployment and, failing that, sets a further 30 days to withdraw them from harm’s way.

Republican leadership aides said that they were studying the report, which raised “creative arguments” that needed to be further explored.

“Regardless, the commander-in-chief has a responsibility to articulate how US military action is vital to our national security and consistent with American policy goals,” said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.

“With Libya, the President has fallen short on this obligation.”

The administration said that the while it did not believe that it required formal authorization for the Libya operation, it would welcome a statement of support for the mission.

White House spokesman Jay Carney also said that the administration had initiated more than 40 points of contact with Congress, disputing claims that lawmakers had not been sufficiently kept up to speed.

Political maneuvering in Washington over Libya took place as Western officials insisted their intervention was working and could be sustained, and as rebels made advances on the road to Tripoli.

But after 10 weeks of air strikes against Kadhafi’s forces and defections from his regime, it remained unclear how long the Arab strongman could last out, and whether the NATO-led mission would dislodge him.

In another sign of angst in the Capitol over the mission, anti-war Democratic lawmaker Dennis Kucinich and a bipartisan group of nine other lawmakers filed suit alleging Obama bypassed Congress in ordering the mission.

“Neither NATO nor the UN trump the Constitution of the United States,” Kucinich said, adding later on CNN: “If it looks like a war, it’s a war.”

Washington took a prime forward role in Libya after the UN Security Council passed a resolution on March 19 allowing for air strikes against Libyan regime forces in order to protect civilians.

But aides said that Obama was good to his word and pulled US forces back into a support mission after an initial blitz of airstrikes and the operation is now under NATO command with Britain and France the most active members.

But another senior US official told reporters on Wednesday that the mission was going well, and had yielded important successes, and argued that Obama’s decision to launch military action had prevented a feared civilian massacre.

“The bottom line is that lives have been saved; Kadhafi’s advances have been stopped, the opposition and the Libyan people have had time and space to organize,” the official said.

“Right now we see a situation in which time very much is working against Kadhafi.”

Business Insider’s Courtney Comstock has a great summary of former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson’s evisceration of the giant banks’ arguments regarding capital requirements:

[Johnson's] argument in a nutshell: bankers from the big 6 are outright lying so that they can continue to take on risk and keep their profitable trading operations running.

The issue: BASEL III regulations (originated in Switzerland, written by all of the world’s Central Banks) require banks to have a capital requirement of 7% of equity, which is high enough as far as banks are concerned, but not high enough as far as U.S. regulators are concerned. U.S. regulators want to tack on an extra 3%. (Or maybe just 2% to 2.5%, according to a rumor on CNBC last week.)

Bankers do not want capital requirements to be too high for many reasons, a couple of which are laid out by a banker who emailed us here, and 4 others which Reuters detailed last week:

  1. “Holding capital hostage” will hurt the struggling economy because it will mean fewer loans at a time when lending is already depressed.
  2. Establishing huge capital buffers is an admission by regulators that last year’s Dodd-Frank financial overhaul does not accomplish its goal of reducing risk.
  3. If banks hold onto more capital and make fewer loans, borrowers will turn to the “shadow banking sector” – hedge funds, for example — which has little or no oversight.
  4. Tough standards in the United States would create a competitive disadvantage vis à vis other countries.

All of these are wrong, according to Simon Johnson, who blasted each of them using the following arguments:

  1. Capital requirements are a restriction on the liability side of the balance sheet — they have nothing to do with the asset side (in what you invest or to whom you lend).
  2. During the Dodd-Frank debates last year, [everyone] said it would be a bad idea for Congress to legislate capital requirements and should leave them to be set by regulators after Basel III… Now the banks want to say that this is not his job as authorized by Dodd-Frank. This argument will impress only lawmakers looking for any excuse to help the big banks.
  3. The “shadow banking sector” — hedge funds, for example — grew rapidly in large part because it was a popular way for very big banks to evade existing capital requirements before 2008, even though those standards were very low… It would be a disaster if this were to happen again.
  4. [Just because your friend says it's a good idea to jump off a bridge...] If China, India or any other country wants to produce electricity using a technology that severely damages local health, why would the United States want to do the same?

As I’ve repeatedly noted, the government’s policies discourage lending to Main Street and the little guy.

And Comstock goes on to note:

Making all of this more interesting is an op-ed written by a regional bank CEO a couple of days ago. Right now, regional banks are subject to the same regulations as the big 6, but they are totally different beasts.

Bob Wilmers, M&T Bank CEO, writes that the Big 6 should be subject to stricter regulations like higher capital requirements because they trade so much, and it’s risky, but smaller banks, like his, should not be subject to such high capital requirements because they actually use the free capital on their balance sheets to lend to entrepreneurs, etc.

For most Palestinians, leaving Gaza through Egypt is as exasperating a process as entering it. Governed by political and cultural sensitivities, most Palestinian officials and public figures refrain from criticizing the way Palestinians are treated at the Rafah border. However, there is really no diplomatic language to describe the relationship between desperate Palestinians – some literally fighting for their lives – and Egyptian officials at the crossing which separates Gaza from Egypt.

“Gazans are treated like animals at the border,” a friend of mine told me. She was afraid that her fiancé would not be allowed to leave Gaza, despite the fact that his papers were in order. Having crossed the border myself just a few days ago, I could not disagree with her statement.

The New York Times reported on June 8: “After days of acrimony between Hamas and Egypt over limitations on who could pass through the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Hamas said Egypt had agreed to allow 550 people a day to leave Gaza and to lengthen the operating hours of the crossing.”

And so the saga continues.

A few weeks after an official Egyptian announcement to ‘permanently’ open the border – thus extending a lifeline for trapped Palestinians under siege in Gaza – the Rafah border was opened for two days of conditional operation in late May, and then closed again for four days. Now it has once more ‘reopened’.

All the announcements are proving to be no more than rhetoric. The latest ‘permanent’ reopening has come with its own conditions and limitations, involving such factors as gender, age, purpose of visit, and so on.

“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country,” states Article 13 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This universal principle, however, continues to evade most Palestinians in Gaza.

I was one of the very first Palestinians who stood at Rafah following the announcement of a ‘permanent’ opening. Our bus waited at the gate for a long time. I watched a father repeatedly try to reassure his crying six-year-old child, who displayed obvious signs of a terrible bone disease.

“Get the children out or they will die,” shouted an older passenger as he gasped for air. The heat in the bus, combined with the smell of trapped sweat was unbearable.

Passengers took it upon themselves to leave the bus and stand outside, enduring disapproving looks from the Egyptian officials. Our next task was finding clean water and a shady spot in the arid zone separating the Egypt and Palestinian sides. There were no restrooms.

A tangible feeling of despair and humiliation could be read on the faces of the Gaza passengers.

No one seemed to be in the mood to speak of the Egyptian revolution, a favorite topic of conversation among most Palestinians. This zone is governed by an odd relationship, one that goes back many years – well before Egypt, under Hosni Mubarak, decided to shut down the border in 2006 in order to aid in the political demise of Hamas.

The issue actually has nothing to do with gender, age or logistics. All Palestinians are treated very poorly at the Rafah crossing, and they continue to endure even after the toppling of Mubarak, his family and the dismissal of the corrupt security apparatus. The Egyptian revolution is yet to reach Gaza.

When the bus was finally allowed to enter about five hours later, Palestinians dashed into the gate, desperately hoping to be among the lucky ones allowed to go in. The anxiety of the travellers usually makes them vulnerable to workers at the border who promise them help in exchange for negotiated amounts of money. All of this is actually a con, as the decision is made by a single man, referred to as al-Mukhabarat, the ‘intelligence’.

Some are sent back while others are allowed entry. Everyone is forced to wait for many hours – sometimes even days – with no clear explanation as to what they are waiting for, or why they are being sent back.

The very ill six-year-old held on his dad’s jacket as they walked about, frantically trying to fulfill all the requirements. Both seemed like they were about to collapse.

The Mukhabarat determined that three Gaza students on their way to their universities in Russia were to be sent back. They had jumped through many hoops already to make it so far. Their hearts sank when they heard the verdict. I protested on their behalf, and the decision was as arbitrarily reversed as it was originally made.

Those who are sent back to Gaza are escorted by unsympathetic officers to the same open spot, to wait for the same haggard bus. Some of those who are allowed entry are escorted by security personnel across the Sinai desert, all the way to Cairo International Airport to be ‘deported’ to their final destinations. They are all treated like common criminals.

“I can’t watch my son die in front of my eyes,” screamed the father of 11-year-old Mohammed Ali Saleh, according to Mohammed Omer for IPS (June 10). He was addressing Egyptian troops days after the border was supposedly ‘permanently’ reopened – for the second time in less than a week.

Such compelling needs as medical treatment, education and freedom keep bringing Palestinians back. The Israeli siege has chocked Gaza to the point of near complete strangulation. Egypt is Gaza’s only hope.

“I beg you to open the crossing…You brothers of Egypt have humiliated us for so long. Isn’t it time we had our dignity back?” said Naziha Al-Sebakhi, 63, one of the many distressed faces at the Rafah border, according to Mohammed Omer.

As they crossed into Egypt, some of the passengers seemed euphoric. The three Russian students and I shared a taxi to Cairo. A tape of Umm Kulthum’s ‘Amal Hyati’ – Hope of my Life – played over and over again. Despite everything, the young men seemed to hold no resentment whatsoever towards Egypt.

“I just love Egypt…I don’t know why,” said Majid pensively, before falling asleep from sheer exhaustion.

I thought of the six-year-old boy and his dad. I wonder if they made it to the hospital on time.

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

 

The Anglo-American Endgame for Afghanistan

June 16th, 2011 by M. K. Bhadrakumar

The U.S. and NATO now acknowledge that a complete withdrawal from the South and Central Asian region by 2014 is not in the cards. Regional powers face a challenge 

-It is a sad state of affairs that a once-proud nation is being traded in the bazaar. The core issue for the U.S. is that the Taliban should mellow on its uncompromising opposition to the long-term western troop presence as quid pro quo for what passes for “reconciliation.”

-Not much ingenuity is required to anticipate that India’s interests will be severely damaged if this region becomes the arena of a “new cold war” stemming out the long-term NATO military presence in South and Central Asia…The Indian move to seek membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) promises to provide a much-needed forum for New Delhi to partake in regional processes where India gets to work with Russia, China and Pakistan.

The Anglo-American project to craft an Afghan endgame that ensures long-term western military presence in the South and Central Asian region has entered a critical phase. The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) now acknowledge that a complete withdrawal from the region by 2014 is not in the cards. Several stages of diplomatic and political deception concealed this “hidden agenda.” Regional powers — Pakistan and India, in particular — are sadder and wiser today.

Looking back, the military stalemate in Afghanistan provided a persuasive argument for the West to justify the opening of a political track. The U.S. and Britain literally shoved down the throat of regional countries at the London conference in January last year their idea of reconciliation with the Taliban. India was assured that what was being contemplated was mere “reintegration” — and not “reconciliation” — and was given a bit of tutoring in the subtle uses of the English language. Pakistan was in a triumphalist mood, having been assured privately that it would be the kingmaker in any peace process. Equally, Russia was basking in the sunshine of the newly-invented process of “reset” in relations with the U.S. Iran, which was consistently wise to the western game plan, boycotted the London conference. China, of course, kept its head below the parapet.

Following the London conference, which must stand out as a first-rate drama of diplomatic deception, the U.S. and Britain rightly proceeded to claim an “international mandate” for talking to the Taliban. With the help of Saudi Arabia, a series of secret meetings with the representatives of various insurgent groups commenced.

NATO aircraft provided transportation for Taliban participants in these meetings and according to Der Spiegel, Berlin got U.S. intelligence operatives and Taliban representatives to meet face-to-face on German soil more than once. All the while, the Anglo-American deception continued and a thick layer of fog surrounded the entire process. Mark Sedwill, U.K.’s special representative on Af-Pak, during last week’s visit to New Delhi, said with a delightfully airy vagueness that will be the envy of any diplomat: “There are channels of communication being explored… This outreach to the senior leaders is still in the very early stages. And we don’t know how serious they are… It is Afghan-led but that doesn’t mean that others are not involved. Others are involved. All initiatives are with Afghan consent and on their behalf.”

Meanwhile, former Afghanistan President and head of the Afghan High Council for Peace, Burhanuddin Rabbani, revealed that his members have held preliminary talks with the main Taliban group led by Mullah Mohammad Omar and the so-called Quetta Shura and that the “multiple channels” are indeed “getting momentum.” According to the Guardian, representatives of the Haqqani network visited Kabul “very recently.” Simultaneously, the U.S. is spearheading a move in New York for the removal of the Taliban from the United Nations’ list of terrorists so that they can travel and openly take part in talks. The idea has been floated that the Taliban be permitted to open “representative office” in a third country.

The U.S. is piloting a proposal to remove 20 Taliban figures from the U.N. list. Alongside, it is pushing for a range of changes to the U.N.’s so-called “1275 list,” which comprises around 450 terrorists belonging to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The U.S. wants to “separate” the Taliban from al-Qaeda and the justification being given is that the al-Qaeda and the Taliban belong to two “different fields of action” as unlike the al-Qaeda which is a global organisation, the Taliban is “Afghanistan-centric.” The plain truth, however, is that the U.S. wants to hold out the tantalising prospect of lifting sanctions against select Taliban figures as a bargaining chip to get them to talk and cut deals directly with American negotiators. Unsurprisingly, having been caught unawares at the London conference, Russia, China and India are today on guard and view the U.S. moves at the U.N. Security Council with reserve.

The western propaganda has drummed up a grim scenario in Afghanistan, which provides the raison d’etre of long-term western military bases. The visiting French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, told journalists in Washington last week that the U.S. is engaged in tripartite talks with the Taliban and Pakistan, that it wants the Taliban to be part of the solution but has had difficulty so far finding credible interlocutors on the Taliban side who are willing to talk peace and that talks are under way “as we speak.” He said that despite the U.S.’ surge a year ago, and notwithstanding claims of progress by U.S. and NATO generals commanding the troops, actual progress against the Taliban is inadequate. “The strategy doesn’t succeed as well as we expected on the ground,” he said. He went on to doubt the feasibility of the “transition” through 2014 that is being planned in July, since the Afghan army and police are ill-prepared to assume responsibility
for security.

Regional opposition

The sum and substance of what Mr. Juppe said is that despite the efforts to engage the Taliban and notwithstanding the “transition” that is being planned, the insurgency will not end in the near future. What he left unsaid was that continued western troop presence beyond 2014, therefore, is a must.

To be sure, Washington is secretly negotiating a ‘strategic partnership agreement’ with the Kabul government that provides for military bases on a long-term basis. Again, the U.S. is in denial but its doublespeak is increasingly getting exposed.

The regional powers oppose a long-term U.S.-NATO military presence but Washington counts on the Kabul government to deliver. The Kabul government is on the horns of a dilemma insofar as the American dollar holds its own attractions in the Hindu Kush but then, one has to be alive first to enjoy the good life and the bottom line is that Afghan people may not like the prospect of foreign military occupation and the regional powers are opposing it. In a fit of disgust, Pakistan reportedly advised the Kabul government to swap the American dollar for the Chinese yuan. The Afghan bazaar is agonising. Whereas the U.S. remains confident about the Afghan bazaari culture and estimates that the Afghan protagonists after some pretentious hard bargaining will ultimately settle for a deal that won’t burn a hole in America’s pocket.

Core issue

It is a sad state of affairs that a once-proud nation is being traded in the bazaar. The core issue for the U.S. is that the Taliban should mellow on its uncompromising opposition to the long-term western troop presence as quid pro quo for what passes for “reconciliation.”

To this end, Washington needs to deal with the Taliban directly, on a one-to-one basis without Pakistani or Afghani intermediaries — despite the U.S.’ proforma acknowledgement all through of Pakistan’s key role as ‘facilitator’ and despite paying lip-service that reconciliation with the Taliban ought to be “Afghan-led.”

This tussle lies at the core of the U.S.-Pakistan tensions, as Islamabad is credited with influence over the Quetta Shura. Pakistan’s military leadership resents that contrary to earlier pledges, when the crunch time approached, the U.S. bypassed the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency operatives began networking directly with various militant organisations. Through two months of sustained grilling of the U.S.’s ace intelligence operative Raymond Davis in a Lahore jail by the ISI, Pakistani military leadership got to know a lot about the reach of the CIA’s penetration of Pakistan’s body polity.

A huge challenge faces Indian policymakers also. Quite obviously, New Delhi views these developments with concern. The good part is that it has measured the “big picture” while being what Washington fondly calls the U.S.’ “indispensable partner in the 21st century.” Thus, New Delhi persists with its far-sighted dialogue approach toward Pakistan although it is deeply disappointed by Pakistan’s lack or response on 26/11 investigations and on dismantling the terrorist infrastructure. New Delhi also takes care not to identify with the U.S.’s ‘containment’ strategy toward China.

Not much ingenuity is required to anticipate that India’s interests will be severely damaged if this region becomes the arena of a “new cold war” stemming out the long-term NATO military presence in South and Central Asia. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the initiative to strengthen New Delhi’s ties with Kabul while judiciously leaving it to the latter to set the parameters in deference to Pakistani sensitivities.

The Indian move to seek membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) promises to provide a much-needed forum for New Delhi to partake in regional processes where India gets to work with Russia, China and Pakistan. India’s policymakers are doing extraordinarily well in navigating the country’s passage through a rather dangerous situation.

The Anglo-American enterprise capitalised on the absence of a regional initiative. The U.S.’ diplomacy brilliantly succeeded in creating disruptions in Russia’s and India’s traditional ties with Iran to isolate Tehran, which is an influential player in Afghanistan, apart from tapping into the contradictions in India’s relations with China and Pakistan. The U.S. selectively engaged Russia under the rubric of “reset.” On the whole, however, the regional powers are today a wiser lot about the criticality of a neutral Afghanistan.

The writer is a former diplomat.

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The arguments made to “legalize” war, torture, warrantless spying, and other crimes by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and their gang are looking rational, well-reasoned, and impeccably researched in comparison with Obama’s latest “legalization” of the Libya War.

Here’s the key section from Wednesday’s report to Congress:

“Given the important U.S. interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the President had constitutional authority, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad.   The President is of the view that the current U.S.  military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision.  U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.  U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors.”

Whatever the president’s “foreign affairs powers” may be, they do not, under the U.S. Constitution, include the power to launch “military operations” or “hostilities” or “wars.”  Nor has the distinction between “military operations” that involve what ordinary humans call warfare (blowing up buildings with missiles) and “hostilities” that qualify for regulation under the War Powers Resolution been previously established.  This distinction is as crazy as any that have come out of U.S. government lawyers in the past. 

The War Powers Resolution forbids unconstitutional wars unless the United States is attacked.  But even ignoring that fact, as is the custom, the Resolution says right at the top:

“It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.”

Anything from imminent involvement in hostilities to hostilities is covered.  There doesn’t seem to be a gap left through which to exclude bombing people’s homes in a non-hostile manner with non-combat troops as part of an overseas contingency operation.

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey remarks: “To say that our aggressive bombing of Libya does not rise to the level of ‘hostilities’ flies in the face of common sense and is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.”

Further down, the same resolution makes clear:

“For purposes of this joint resolution, the term ‘introduction of United States Armed Forces’ includes the assignment of members of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged, in hostilities.”

So, the “constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition” is completely irrelevant, and would be even if it were true that a UN resolution was being adhered to. 

The Obama report to Congress spends half its time claiming that the United States is not part of the NATO operation in any major way, and the other half warning that the NATO operation would collapse without the United States:

“If the United States military were to cease its participation in the NATO operation, it would seriously degrade the coalition’s ability to execute and sustain its operation designed to protect Libyan civilians and to enforce the no-fly zone and the arms embargo, as authorized under UNSCR 1973.  Cessation of U.S. military activities in support of OUP would also significantly increase the level of risk for the remaining Allied and coalition forces conducting the operation, which in turn would likely lead to the withdrawal of participation in the operation.”

The “limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions” is irrelevant.  The War Powers Act specifically sets a limit of 60 days, which has passed.  Moreover, not that it matters legally, but the House resolution to which this report was a response asked for some information that the report does not provide, including:

“The anticipated scope and duration of continued United States military involvement in support of NATO activities regarding Libya.”

The report says the duration is limited, but that merely suggests it’s not infinite. 

I have my doubts even about that claim. 

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David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” 

http://warisalie.org

http://davidswanson.org

http://warisacrime.org

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said SCO members had been unanimous in their criticism of the missile shield and that the declaration referred not only to the European system.

“It is part of a global shield, and the global missile defense system being set up by the United States, which also covers East and South Asia,” he said.

ASTANA: Russia won the backing of China and other members of a regional security body in criticizing U.S. plans for a missile shield, saying on Wednesday it could undermine global security.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a security bloc grouping Russia, China and four ex-Soviet Central Asian states, signed a declaration condemning any unilateral build-up of missile defenses after their leaders met in the Kazakh capital.

“The unilateral and unlimited build-up of missile defense by a single state or by a narrow group of states could damage strategic stability and international security,” the six members of the SCO said in the declaration.

Apart from regional heavyweights China and Russia, the SCO also includes the mostly Muslim ex-Soviet Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia have observer status in the body, set up 10 years ago to promote regional cooperation.

Moscow has recently stepped up criticism of U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses in Europe and has pressed for binding guarantees that the system would not weaken Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has threatened a new Cold War-style arms race if Moscow and Washington fail to resolve the missile defense spat.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said SCO members had been unanimous in their criticism of the missile shield and that the declaration referred not only to the European system.

“It is part of a global shield, and the global missile defense system being set up by the United States, which also covers East and South Asia,” he said.

The United States says its planned shield is meant to reduce the threat of a missile attack by Iran. Moscow says it fears the true aim is to neutralize Russia’s own nuclear arsenal.

“The Russian bear sits in its lair, and the NATO huntsman comes over to his house and asks him to come hunt the rabbit….Why do your rifles have the caliber to hunt the bear, not the rabbit?” Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin said at a panel talk at London’s Royal United Services Institute think-tank.

ANTI-WESTERN STAND

Russia and China have often voiced unity in opposition to perceived U.S. global dominance. As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, they have expressed opposition to Western-led resolutions, including an effort to condemn Syria’s…crackdown on anti-government protests.

“The task of preserving global peace and promoting common development is getting more arduous and more onerous,” Chinese President Hu Jintao said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has upstaged previous SCO meetings, delivered a fiery 10-minute speech calling on members of the bloc to unite against Western powers.

“I believe that, through concerted actions, it is possible to change the general course of the world order in favor of peace, justice and peoples’ prosperity,” Ahmadinejad said at the end of a tirade against Western countries.

Russian news agency Interfax quoted Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as reiterating his country’s wish to become a fully fledged SCO member. A source in the Russian delegation, who asked not to be identified, said neither India nor Pakistan could join until they resolve their own territorial row.

(Additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov, Ben Blanchard and Chris Buckley in Astana and Mohammed Abbas in London; Writing by Robin Paxton and Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
====================================================================
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African leaders today demanded an immediate end to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s bombing campaign in Libya and called for the African Union and United Nations to take the lead in reaching a political solution.

“We have not voted for a substitute for bombing of one group by the other,” South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters in New York, referring to the UN resolution authorizing military action against Libya leader Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, which her government supported. “All forms of military intervention and bombing must stop now.”

Nkoana-Mashabane and ministers of Mali, Mauritania, Uganda and the Republic of Congo, which formed the AU’s Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, expressed their concern about the NATO bombing campaign to the UN Security Council. Adoption of a draft statement demanding a “complete end to violence and all attacks against and abuses of civilians” was blocked by the U.S. and other Western nations.

“This was a meeting for expressions of frustration,” said Ambassador Nestor Osorio of Colombia, a Security Council member. Ambassador Jose Moraes Cabral of Portugal, also a council member, said Uganda’s Foreign Minister Ruhakana Rugunda suggested the NATO intervention amounted to “going back to colonialism” in Africa.

Call from Russia, China

The meeting in New York followed a statement today by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security alliance led by China and Russia and including the former Soviet states of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan [and Kazakhstan], urging an end to the NATO campaign. “Domestic conflicts and crises have to be regulated exclusively by peaceful means, through political dialogue,” the group said in Astana, Kazakhstan, where it is holding a summit.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was more direct yesterday in Cape Town, saying the UN resolution authorizing military action was “being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation.”

[Mauritania's Foreign Minister Hamady Ould] Hamady called for an “immediate humanitarian pause” in the fighting and expressed the AU’s “surprise and disappointment at the attempts to marginalize the continent in the management of the Libyan conflict.”

Britain’s Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said a precondition of a halt to the NATO bombing was a cessation of attacks on civilians by the Qaddafi regime.

“The ball is in Qaddafi’s court,” Lyall Grant said.

–Editors: Steven Komarow, Terry Atlas

It’s big news that the Pentagon Papers have finally been released by the government.

But the statements from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg about 9/11 have not been covered by the corporate media.

As Fire Dog Lake’s Jeff Kaye writes today:

The entire 9/11 field of inquiry has been vilified, poisoned over the years by ridicule, sometimes fantastic conspiracy mongering, and fearfulness by journalists of approaching the material, lest they be branded as irresponsible or some kind of conspiracy freak. As a result, little work has been done to investigate, except by a small group of people, some of whom have raised some real questions …

Similarly, Air Force Colonel and key Pentagon official Karen Kwiatkowski – who blew the whistle on the Bush administration’s efforts to concoct false intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction – wrote (page 26):

I have been told by reporters that they will not report their own insights or contrary evaluations of the official 9/11 story, because to question the government story about 9/11 is to question the very foundations of our entire modern belief system regarding our government, our country, and our way of life. To be charged with questioning these foundations is far more serious than being labeled a disgruntled conspiracy nut or anti-government traitor, or even being sidelined or marginalized within an academic, government service, or literary career. To question the official 9/11 story is simply and fundamentally revolutionary. In this way, of course, questioning the official story is also simply and fundamentally American.

Several months after 9/11, famed news anchor Dan Rather told the BBC that American reporters were practicing “a form of self-censorship”:

There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around peoples’ necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions…. And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.

What we are talking about here – whether one wants to recognise it or not, or call it by its proper name or not – is a form of self-censorship.

The head of CNN agreed:

There was ‘almost a patriotism police’ after 9/11 and when the network showed [things critical of the administration's policies] it would get phone calls from advertisers and the administration and “big people in corporations were calling up and saying, ‘You’re being anti-American here.’

Keith Olbermann said:

You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble …. You cannot say: By the way, there’s something wrong with our …. system.

Former Washington Post – and now Huffington Post – columnist Dan Froomkin wrote in 2006:

Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do. . . .

There’s the intense pressure to maintain access to insider sources, even as those sources become ridiculously unrevealing and oversensitive. There’s the fear of being labeled partisan if one’s bullshit-calling isn’t meted out in precisely equal increments along the political spectrum.

If mainstream-media political journalists don’t start calling bullshit more often, then we do risk losing our primacy — if not to the comedians then to the bloggers.

I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter – whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.

The Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who uncovered the Iraq prison torture scandal and the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, Seymour Hersh, said:

“All of the institutions we thought would protect us — particularly the press, but also the military, the bureaucracy, the Congress — they have failed. The courts . . . the jury’s not in yet on the courts. So all the things that we expect would normally carry us through didn’t. The biggest failure, I would argue, is the press, because that’s the most glaring….

Q: What can be done to fix the (media) situation?

[Long pause] You’d have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives. You’d actually have to start promoting people from the newsrooms to be editors who you didn’t think you could control. And they’re not going to do that.”

Veteran reporter Bill Moyers criticized the corporate media for parroting the obviously false link between 9/11 and Iraq (and the false claims that Iraq possessed WMDs) which the administration made in the run up to the Iraq war, and concluded that the false information was not challenged because:

“the [mainstream] media had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked.”

Of course, the corporate media is always pro-war. Since 9/11 provided a justification for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, the mainstream media doesn’t want to question the government’s version of events.

As Tom Brokaw notes:

All wars are based on propaganda.

What Does Ellsberg Say?

Ellsberg says that the government has ordered the media not to cover 9/11:

Ellsberg seemed hardly surprised that today’s American mainstream broadcast media has so far failed to take [former FBI translator and 9/11 whistleblower Sibel] Edmonds up on her offer, despite the blockbuster nature of her allegations [which Ellsberg calls "far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers"].

As Edmonds has also alluded, Ellsberg pointed to the New York Times, who “sat on the NSA spying story for over a year” when they “could have put it out before the 2004 election, which might have changed the outcome.”

“There will be phone calls going out to the media saying ‘don’t even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security,’” he told us.

* * *

“I am confident that there is conversation inside the Government as to ‘How do we deal with Sibel?’” contends Ellsberg. “The first line of defense is to ensure that she doesn’t get into the media. I think any outlet that thought of using her materials would go to to the government and they would be told ‘don’t touch this . . . .’”

He supports a new 9/11 investigation.

He says that the case of a certain 9/11 whistleblower is “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”. (Here’s some of what that whistleblower says.) He also said that the government is ordering the media to cover up her allegations about 9/11.

And he says that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of those in office, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath (see this and this).

Alternative Media Is Not Much Better

It is not just the corporate media.

I have had the owners of highly-regarded alternative media companies confide in me privately that they don’t believe the government’s version of 9/11, but that are scared of discussing it publicly because they don’t want to be tarred-and-feathered for discussing “conspiracy theories”.

Even writers like Glenn Greenwald – who are good on so many issues – won’t touch it.

Of course – as Ellsberg points out – “Secrets … can be kept reliably … for decades … even though they are known to thousands of insiders”. Indeed, the whole label “conspiracy theory” is just an attempt to diffuse criticism of the powerful.

People used to understand this. As the quintessential American writer Mark Twain said in a more rational age:

A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.

Of course, as thousands of top American military officers, counter-terrorism officials, intelligence officers, congressmen, structural engineers, and others have publicly said, the government’s story about 9/11 makes absolutely no sense. See this, this, this and this. And family members of people who died on 9/11 – and many New Yorkers – want a new investigation.

But you’ll never hear that in the corporate media.

VIDEO: ‘NATO bombs civilians!’: Report from Tripoli

June 15th, 2011 by Cynthia McKinney

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-Lewis MacKenzie, a former major-general with the Canadian Forces, said Canada’s goals in Libya have become murky since the mission began in February.

The objective has shifted from protecting civilians to an all-out war against Gadhafi and his supporters, MacKenzie said in an interview with local media.

MacKenzie told CTV’s Power Play Tuesday evening that continued bombing is only going to have negative impacts, such as destroying infrastructure, and won’t help secure a peaceful future in Libya.

OTTAWA: As a result of a day-long debate, the House of Commons Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to extend Canada’s participation in the NATO-led mission in Libya by three-and-a-half months.

The Conservative government’s resolution passed by a vote of 294-1, with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May being the lone member of parliament to vote against.

May said she was against giving “a blank cheque to a mission that doesn’t have an exit strategy.”

May, the only Green MP in Commons, said she was in favor of the original humanitarian mission, but does not support the shift toward a military mission to depose Gadhafi.

Canada has deployed about 650 armed personnel, assisted by CF-18 Hornet jet fighters and a Navy destroyer, working to enforce the no-fly zone as part of a NATO mission…

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the mission isn’t over yet…
 
The vote came hours after Baird announced that the Canadian government is officially recognizing the National Transitional Council of Libya as the legitimate representative of Libyan citizens.

“Canada is embarking on an enhanced engagement strategy with the National Transitional Council of Libya,” Baird said, adding that Canada will provide governance expertise to the council.

The policy echoes similar announcements from Germany and Australia in recent days…

Lewis MacKenzie, a former major-general with the Canadian Forces, said Canada’s goals in Libya have become murky since the mission began in February.

The objective has shifted from protecting civilians to an all-out war against Gadhafi and his supporters, MacKenzie said in an interview with local media.

MacKenzie told CTV’s Power Play Tuesday evening that continued bombing is only going to have negative impacts, such as destroying infrastructure, and won’t help secure a peaceful future in Libya.

SCO leaders have called for ending the Libya armed conflict and have urged that the UN Security Council resolutions on Libya should be strictly observed. This comes in a declaration that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization adopted following its 10th summit meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital city Astana.

The leaders of the member-states also signed a number of documents, including the Antiterrorist Strategy for 2011-2016, and said they would promote cooperation with the SCO observer nations, namely India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, as well as with their partners in dialogue, Belarus and Sri Lanka.

The Presidents of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, and high-ranking UN, CIS, EurAsEC, CSTO and ASEAN officials have been invited to attend as guests.

Japan: TEPCO trips, but will it fall?

By Created 1100-06-15 14:07

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The nuclear plant operator may be “too big to fail,” but that doesn’t mean it won’t.

TOKYO, Japan — Tokyo Electric Power Co., the beleagured operator of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, is taking hits on all sides.

Massive compensation payments, financial uncertainty and now a legal challenge calling for its license to be revoked, have the company all but pinned. And the fate of the company, as it struggles to contain the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl [3], remains largely uncertain.

On Monday, TEPCO shares fell 28 percent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to a record low after media reports over the weekend suggested that the company could be forced to delist from the market. The nosedive caused trading of the company’s stock to be automatically suspended by the market’s “circuit breakers,” which kick in when share prices drop suddenly.

Once the world’s largest private utility company, TEPCO has lost $36 billion in market value since the beginning of the crisis, and last month posted the largest loss ever by a non-financial company in Japan, 1.258 trillion yen ($15 billion) — which didn’t take into account compensation payments.

TEPCO is also forecast to have an operating loss of 570 billion yen this financial year ending in March 2012, again before factoring in compensation.

The issue of payments by TEPCO to evacuated residents, local businesses, fishermen, farmers and the many others affected by the Fukushima crisis, remains almost as foggy as the financial future of the company. The government is insisting there will be no cap put on the amount of compensation that TEPCO could be liable for — expected to total trillions of yen.

Discussions are still ongoing between the utility, the government and the banks — major holders of TEPCO equity and debt — as to who will be liable and for how much.

And for now at least, compensation isn’t the biggest threat to TEPCO’s bottom line.

“Although it’s the compensation payments that are getting all the attention, it’s the extra fuel which TEPCO will have to acquire to generate electricity that will be its biggest cost in the short-term,” said Penn Bowers, an analyst at the Tokyo investment firm CLSA. He was referring to the extra power TEPCO will have to generate at its thermal stations to make up for the shortfall from the offline nuclear reactors.

But the company — which supplies electricity to a third of Japan’s population — almost certainly falls under the “too big to fail” category.

Bowers believes the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan will eventually cap the compensation payments, “once it becomes politically viable to do so. This happened on Kan’s watch so he has to appear to be tough on TEPCO.”

The legal framework for the Japanese nuclear industry, established in 1961, actually provides immunity from liability for power plant operators when accidents are “caused by extraordinary natural disasters.” This is an argument TEPCO looks certain to fall back on when the compensation claims start to mount and the cash begins to run out.

“The government is playing a game to make it look like the taxpayer won’t be paying for all this in the end,” said Bowers.

The utility and government are now facing their first legal challenge over the current crisis.

Takanori Eto, a recent graduate of the University of Tokyo’s law school is in the process of filing suits in the Tokyo District Court asserting that TEPCO’s licenses to operate the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the nearby Fukushima Daini plant and Tokai Mura facility, were granted illegally.

“There have been legal challenges to the operating licenses in the past claiming that minimum safety standards were not being met. But the courts ruled that licenses were legal according to the standards set by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency,” said Eto. “On March 11 we discovered that those standards and safety inspections were completely inadequate.”

Eto has filed another suit claiming that the operation of the plants is also unconstitutional because the now uninhabitable areas around Fukushima created by the crisis contravene Japanese citizens’ rights to choose where they live.

“If this suit is successful and the operation of nuclear plants is deemed to be against the constitution because of the very real possibility of accidents, it should be applicable to every reactor in Japan, and to any applications for new facilities,” said Eto.

TEPCO has now joined the ranks of the likes of BP, Union Carbide and Exxon, whose corporate identity has become globally synonymous with massive environmental destruction.

While the ongoing crisis at Fukushima still has the potential to eclipse even the huge damage wrought on the Gulf of Mexico, Bhopal in India and the Alaskan coastline, the corporations responsible are still in business. BP is posting record profits, Union Carbide — a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals and Exxon Mobil (formed by a 2001 merger) — runs oil refineries in Japan and even supplies fuel to TEPCO.

With nationalization looking less and less of a possibility, the most likely outcome for TEPCO is it will become a kind of “zombie company” that generates profits only to pay back its creditors and the government, as well as make compensation payments.

It will have to be enabled to continue in some form, both to supply electricity to the greater Tokyo area, which accounts for 40 percent of Japan’s GDP, and to pay the growing compensation claims by the tens of thousands of people whose lives have been blighted by Fukushima.

The initial hearing for Eto’s law suits will be on June 23 in the Tokyo District Court.

You might have frequently heard of the Western mainstream media’s claims that Iran is pursuing a military nuclear program which is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Actually, spreading falsehood and untruth about the nature of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program has been a constant, unchanging and recurring theme of the Western corporate media’s coverage of Iran’s events.

Over the past years, the world mainstream media, funded and fueled by certain Western governments to derail Iran’s sublime position in the international community through their unyielding black propaganda have laboriously and persistently attempted to pretend that Iran’s nuclear program poses a serious threat to the global peace and security and that Tehran is taking steps to create atomic bombs to drop on Israel and European countries.

Unfortunately, the people who believe such claims are credulously unaware of the fact that those who accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons are themselves the largest possessors of the state-of-the-art nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction.

It should not be neglected that Iran has always been at the forefront of combating the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and also a victim of such weapons during the 8-year imposed war with the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranians, and it was the United States that equipped Saddam with such weapons to use against the Iranian people in an unequal and unjustifiable war in which the brutal Iraqi dictator was unconditionally supported by a strong coalition of the United States and its European allies.

Since the U.S.-manufactured controversy over Iran’s nuclear program was ignited in the early 2000s, the White House and its cronies successfully distracted the international attention from the illegal, underground nuclear activities of Israeli regime and helped Tel Aviv to secretively further its nuclear program and build atomic weapons.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, Israel now possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads and since it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), it cannot be held accountable over its military nuclear program.

The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment has recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared chemical warfare capabilities, and an offensive biological warfare program.

Since Israel started the development of nuclear weapons in early 1950s, it adopted a so-called policy of “deliberate ambiguity” and concealed its nuclear activities under this counterfeit label to enjoy immunity and avoid responsibility over its nuclear program, meaning that it neither confirms nor denies the possession of nuclear weapons, while even the U.S.-based scientific and research organizations have admitted that it has a perilous nuclear arsenal which is potentially able to evaporate the whole Middle East in a matter of seconds.

On June 19, 1981, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution which urgently called upon Israel to put its nuclear facilities under the comprehensive safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); however, Israel never heeded the calls of the UNSC and following that resolution, no significant decision was ever made to domesticate Israel and bring its dangerous nuclear facilities under control.

According to Nuclear Weapons Archive website, “the most specific and detailed information to be made public about Israel’s nuclear program came from a former mid-level nuclear technician named Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu had worked at the Machon 2 facility, where plutonium is produced and bomb components fabricated, for 9 years before his increasing involvement in left wing pro-Palestinian politics led to his dismissal in 1986. Due to lax internal security, prior to his departure he managed to take about 60 photographs covering nearly every part of Machon 2.”

He made contact with the London Sunday Times and began to write an exclusive story about the details of Israel’s nuclear program. Unfortunately for Vanunu, “the Israeli government had found out about his activities and the Mossad arranged to kidnap him and bring him back to Israel for trial,” the report added.

Now, Iran has hosted dozens of representatives and experts from over 40 countries in the Second International Nuclear Disarmament Conference in Tehran to discuss the most important nuclear threats which jeopardize the international peace and security.

Last year, Iran had hosted the first Nuclear Disarmament Conference under the title of “Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapon for None.”

According to the scholars and experts who took part in this years conference, the possession of nuclear weapons by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Israel which is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East are among the main concerns of international community which not only thwart the creation of a nuclear-free Middle East but also portray an unquestionable exercise of double standards by the Western powers.

The Tehran conference on nuclear disarmament has concluded that all of the non-NPT members should ratify this treaty and allow the inspection of their nuclear facilities. It has also proposed that Israel should be disarmed as soon as possible, because it’s the only owner of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Even as even the U.S. intelligence services have confirmed that Iran does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, Tehran is lethally under the pressure of the United States and its European friends over its civilian nuclear program. This is while 9 countries in the world own more than 20,000 nuclear warheads and this leaves us with a basic question: who poses the real threat to international peace and security?

While “Europe’s slow-motion financial collapse” – as Mother Jones magazine described it in a June 6th article – continues to unravel, Spain, like other European states continues to implement anti-social-neo-liberal policies with strong opposition from the citizenry.
 
It has been one month since the country’s ‘Indignados’ (Indignant Ones) movement claimed nonviolently sixty city-squares in cities across the country, calling for economic democracy, political justice and peace. Since then, much has happened within Spanish borders, and what is happening there is clearly spreading across Europe, where we have already witnessed social movements making similar demands. We have seen the Bastille in Paris, taken nonviolently by French ‘Indignados’ only to be quickly reclaimed by the country’s police force. We have observed the rise of a parallel movement in Portugal where most city squares have also been camped on by ‘Indignados’, and where only hours before the country’s general elections protestors in Lisbon were attacked and beaten by police. We have witnessed how on that same night, in Athens, Greece, 80,000 protestors congregated in the city’s main square in opposition to the country’s ‘austerity measures’, waving banners in solidarity with the ‘Indignados’ of Spain and of other European country’s.
 
Wherever you focus in Europe you hear the same cries of indignation. In some countries with more intensity than others, but the cry is becoming louder everywhere, and what seemed like a slow-motion financial collapse, is rapidly becoming an accelerated social catastrophe. Specifically in Spain, despite the political elite presenting a country recovering from the financial collapse, everyday things are getting worse economically, politically, and socially, and protest although nonviolent for the most part, could be on the verge of becoming violent unless political and economic elites begin to make some concessions.
 
On the economic front, Spain began June with comments from the European Commission about the potential of the country missing its economic growth and budget-deficit targets for the year; its recommendation was further economic reform. Then a report from the ratings agency Moody’s, pointed out that the high Catalan deficit was affecting the solvency of the whole of Spain. A few days later, in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, the incoming administration of the rightwing Popular party (PP), before even taking office, had already proclaimed that the region was “totally bankrupt”. Then, the National Statistics Institute revealed that Spain’s property sales in April had been the lowest since the institute began reporting in 2007. Obviously, this stream of negative news coupled with discussions taking place in Europe regarding a potential debt default by Greece, affected Spain’s bond sales and moved the country one step closer to a bailout, or a default followed by its subsequent debt restructuring.
 
On the political front, June has been equally intense, the government has approved by decree reforms against collective bargaining agreements, despite failed negotiations with the two major trade unions in the country. It has approved the extension, indefinitely of the country’s Spanish military mission in Libya, and has announced the creation of a new NATO operations centre, which will control Spanish airspace and will help in missions coordinated from Southern Europe.
 
In regards to the social front, as of the first of June, the government warned that the ‘Indignados’ could not remain camped on city squares for much longer. Then, using a visit from Tony Blair, in which Blair said, “demonstrators should be heard but not allowed to govern”, Spain’s prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, addressed the request for electoral reform by the ‘Indignados’, by telling them this could only be possible through consensus from all political parties – a cowardly way of responding without complying.
 
In response to these numerous events, commissions of the ‘Indignados’ from squares across the country met in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Square, to discuss the future of the movement. Through a long process of popular assembly, they agreed to three important actions: First, to boycott the country’s Town Halls as the new governments were sworn in following the recent regional and local elections; second, to abandon city squares, and move their social action into city neighbourhoods – in an attempt to broaden the movement’s involvement with the rest of the citizenry; and third, to continue organizing protests on specific dates focused on particular issues – including a firm commitment to a global protest of ‘Indignados’ on October 15th.
 
The movement’s first nationwide coordinated initiative since the spontaneous movement mushroomed on May 15th, the boycott of Town Halls, was well represented over the weekend by ‘Indignados’ across Spain. Demonstrators across the country blocked entrances to Town Halls, climbed onto the balconies, blocked official cars from exiting carparks, disturbed investiture sessions with incriminating speeches, and followed politicians across cities as they celebrated their victories, shouting to them, “shame on you!”
 
Sadly, the police force was equally mobilized. In Valencia, where the new government has ten of its members including its president facing corruption charges, police charged at demonstrators injuring twelve and arresting five. The vice president of Spain, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, was forced to cancel a planned trip to the city in order to avoid further protests. In the city of Santiago de Compostela police also attacked the protestors. In the city of Madrid, police batons hit them. In the city of Salamanca five ‘Indignados’ were injured. In the city of Burgos two were arrested. In the city of Castellón, they were violently dispersed. In the city of Vigo, they were also dispersed; and, in the city of Palma de Mallorca, three were arrested. Following the numerous arrests across the country, spontaneous demonstrations followed in front of police headquarters demanding the prompt release of those detained. Most protestors where released on bail.  
 
As things stand in Spain right now, according to a survey published by newspaper El Pais, there exists wide support (81%) amidst the Spanish population for the movement. In fact, in addition to public intellectuals such as Vicent Navarro, Arcadi Oliveras, or Eduardo Galeano giving them support, political figures such as Santiago Carrillo, who was the secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party during the country’s transition to democracy – a key voice throughout the transition, and Cayo Lara, the coordinator for the third largest political party in Spain, Izquierda Unida, have both aligned with the movement’s views. Even Rosalía Mera, who is Spain’s richest woman according to Forbes Magazine, has expressed public support for the ‘Indignados’.
 
It seems clear, when one has an in depth look into current events unfolding in Spain, that these protests have hit a nerve throughout Spanish society, and although the movement is practicing a form of nonviolent direct democracy which is not familiar to most Spaniards – indeed to the majority of citizens in Western style democracies –, the present Spanish political, social, and economic climate is beginning to be shaped, at least partially, by its cries of indignation. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight, that unless economic and political elites begin to listen and engage in some serious dialogue with the ‘Indignados’ instead of sending out the police force to hit them on the head, the nonviolent stance of the majority of protestors could quickly turn into a violent response to sustained police brutality. After all, it is important to remember that this is a one-month-old spontaneous and heterogeneous movement, which is only now beginning to organize and present specific demands.
 
The nonviolent protestors on Spanish streets are not Gandhi’s exemplary well-trained and disciplined nonviolent peacemakers, these protestors have not made pledges of nonviolence or have endured months of rigorous nonviolence training in Gandhian Ashrams. Whether the ‘Indignados’ can refrain from violence as the police continue to beat them, we will only learn as events unfold. However, if the country’s elites have any dignity left, they will not continue testing their endurance and will instead begin a credible process of reform, which examines and addresses all of their demands. At the time of writing, Artur Mas, the President of the Generalitat (the government of the Catalan autonomous region) was forced to arrive to parliament in a police helicopter, as thousands of ‘Indignados’ blocked the entrance in an attempt to boycott the region’s budget approval. They were shouting: “You do not represent us!” The parliamentary session began with only half of the representatives able to enter the building.

Pablo Ouziel’s articles and essays are available at www.pabloouziel.com

Huge Columns Of Smoke Over Tripoli After NATO Strikes

June 14th, 2011 by Global Research

Blast hits east Tripoli of Libya

TRIPOLI: A heavy explosion rocked the east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli late Tuesday evening, causing a big fire, with helicopters of the NATO forces hovering over the area, a Xinhua correspondent said.

Huge columns of smoke can be seen arising from the district of Fernaj, in east Tripoli, according to the Xinhua correspondent.

Libyan state TV later confirmed the blast, without indicating the casualties from the incident.

During the past several weeks, NATO forces have intensified strikes against Tripoli and the neighboring areas. Libyan authorities have continually accused NATO of killing hundreds of civilians and destroying civil facilities and infrastructures.

The world’s major powers, the UK, the U.S. and France, started on March 19 to launch strikes from the air and sea against Gaddafi ‘s forces after the UN Security Council passed a resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and authorize “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.

NATO has formally taken over full command and control of military operations against Libya from the U.S. on March 31.

Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/messages

Stop NATO website and articles:
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com

Iran: “Regime Change” or All Out War?

June 14th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

The geo-political chessboard is being lined up for a showdown with Iran and its allies in the Resistance Bloc. This is just one theatre within the broader struggle to control Eurasia. In the process there is an effort by Washington and its allies to manipulate Islam and subordinate it to capitalist interests by ushering in a new generation of Islamists amongst the Arabs.

A New Pressure Point in Tehran:  An Opportunity for the US-NATO-Israeli Alliance?

The political system of Iran is complex and there are multiple opposing poles of power. In 2009, the world already saw internal fighting amongst the ruling establishment. The divisions played themselves out during the protests that resulted after the presidential elections when allegations of fraud were put forward.

The presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (which started in 2005) was at odds with significant segments of Iran’s political establishment. Its relationship has always been tense with the other poles of power in Tehran. In 2011, Iran’s presidency has increasingly become at odds with the Parliament, the Judiciary, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Within the framework of these political tensions, another Iranian internal political struggle is in the making. This time, the centre of attention is Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. The views of Mashaei, who is known as a political conservative, have been at odds with other conservatives, specifically the clerical elements. In 2009, Mashaei gave a speech where he said that Iran was friends with all the people of the world, including the Israeli people, and that Tehran was opposed to the regime in Tel Aviv, rather than the people of Israel. This was rebuked by Ayatollah Khamenei.

In July 2009, President Ahmadinejad tried to appoint Mashaei to the office of the primary (first) vice-president of Iran, but was opposed by the Iranian Parliament. Ahmadinejad was forced to appoint Mohammed-Reza Rahimi to the office of first vice-president. Instead Mashaei was appointed presidential chief-of-staff by President Ahmadinejad.

In April 2011, a scandal erupted when it became public that Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi had ordered for Mashaei to be the subject of electronic surveillance. Ahmadinejad in outrage wanted to fire the Intelligence Minister, but his decision was vetoed by Ayatollah Khamenei. Meanwhile Heydar Moslehi remained in his position.

It appears now that there is a concerted effort to weaken the Ahmadinejad Administration and to prevent it from helping Mashaei and others run for office. General Ali Jaffari, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has stated publicly that there are “corrupt elements” in the presidential office who have deviated from the principles of the Iranian Revolution. Ali Saeedi, the liaison of Ayatollah Khamenei within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, has also added his voice, saying that Ahmadinejad and his political camp will lose all support unless they remain committed to Ayatollah Khamenei.

Some form of political showdown is looming in Tehran. There appears to be a widening political rift amongst Iranian conservative ideologues. The Iranian President and his political allies intend to field their own candidates in the March 2012 parliamentary elections, who would challenge the current grouping of so-called conservatives in the Iranian Parliament.

In addition to all this, the death of Haleh Sahabi, the daughter of the late ex-Member of Parliament (MP) Ezatollah Sahabi, at the funeral of her father has ignited opposition anger which threatens to fuel and spark new protests.

Iranian security forces were present at the funeral to prevent it from being turned into a political event against the ruling establishment. In their presence, Haleh Sahabi was confronted by an unknown man who grabbed the picture of her father that she was holding during the funeral. When she tried to grab the man, he elbowed her so violently in the face that she died from a heart attack.

This could all play into the hands of the enemies of Iran. There is a secret war against Iran being fought by Washington and its allies, which has included the kidnapping of Iranians, assassinations of Iranian scientists and security officials, and terrorist attacks on Iranian border regions. The developing internal divisions in Tehran could be capitalized on by its enemies. Israel is already showing a deep interest in these new political tensions in Tehran.

It should be noted that Tel Aviv and Washington had prepared to launch a campaign to de-legitimize the Iranian presidential elections in 2009 and to use it to exploit any internal political divisions in Iran. This is documented by the Israeli media. Additionally, this is the reason why the U.S. Congress gave millions of dollars, at the request of U.S. Secretary Rice and President George W. Bush Jr., to establish a special interests office in the U.A.E. for dealing with regime change in Tehran.

Secret Israel Drills in Occupied Iraq: Iran in the Cross-Hairs Again?

Challenging Tehran, just like Russia, has always been a strategic objective of Washington and NATO. Tel Aviv has ended its period of brief silence about Tehran and has started to talk about attacking Iran again. What has added an extra dimension to this are the reports that the U.S. has allowed Israel to secretly use U.S. air bases in Al-Anbar, Iraq. Moqtada Al-Sadr has warned Tehran about the Israeli-U.S. operations in Iraq, which could amount to plans for some form of confrontation with Iran, Syria, and the entire Resistance Bloc from Gaza, Beirut, and Bint Jbeil to Damascus, Basra, Mosul, and Tehran.

A military structure, which is tied into NATO, has also been put into place to attack Iran, Syria, and their allies. Under various agreements NATO has established a foothold in the Persian Gulf and military links with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). France also has a base in the United Arab Emirates. The GCC is also preparing to expand. Both the kingdoms of Morocco and Jordan have made requests to join, while Yemen is also being considered for membership. Along with GCC membership comes a joint defence structure.

At the same time, the members of the GCC are blaming Iran for their domestic problems.

The strategic alliance between Israel and the Al-Sauds, originally formed to combat Gamal Abdel Nasser, has also positioned itself for the implementation of a broader conflict directed against Iran and its allies.

Missile shields are now in place in Israel and the Arab sheikhdoms. Massive shipments of heavy weaponry have also been sent to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the GCC by Washington and the major E.U. powers over the last few years.

Ankara: The Inside Man?

There is one other important player that must be talked about. This player is Turkey. Washington and the E.U. have pushed Turkey to be more active in the Arab World. This has blossomed through Ankara’s neo-Ottomanism policy. This is why Turkey has been posturing itself as a champion of Palestine and launched an Arabic-language channel like Iran and Russia.

Ankara, however, has been playing an ominous role. Turkey is a partner in the NATO war on Libya. The position of the Turkish government has become clear with its betrayal of Tripoli. Ankara has also been working with Qatar to corner the Syrian regime. The Turkish government has been pressuring Damascus to change its policies to please Washington and appears to possibly even have a role in the protests inside Syria with the Al-Sauds, the Hariri minority camp in Lebanon, and Qatar. Turkey is even hosting opposition meetings and providing them support.

Turkey is viewed in Washington and Brussels as the key to bringing the Iranians and the Arabs into line. The Turkish government has been parading itself as a member of the Resistance Bloc with the endorsement of Iran and Syria. U.S strategists project that it will be Turkey which domesticates Iran and Syria for Washington. Turkey also serves as a means of integrating the Arab and Iranian economies with the economy of the European Union. In this regard Ankara has been pushing for a free-trade zone in Southwest Asia and getting the Iranians and Syrians to open up their economies to it.

In reality, the Turkish government has not only been deepening its economic ties with Tehran and Damascus, but has also been working to eclipse Iranian influence. Ankara has tried to wedge itself between Iran and Syria and to challenge Iranian influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Turkey also tried to establish a triple entente between itself, Syria, and Qatar to push Syria away from Tehran. This is why Turkey has been very active vocally against Israel, but in reality has maintained its alliance and military deals with Tel Aviv. Inside Turkey itself, however, there is also an internal struggle for power that could one day ignite into a civil war with multiple players.

Preparing the Geo-Strategic Chessboard for Confrontation against the Resistance Bloc

All the ingredients for a American-led military confrontation are in place:

-Iranophobia is being spread by the U.S., the E.U., Israel, and the Khaliji monarchies.

-Sectarianism is being promoted in the entire region.

-Hamas has been entangled into the mechanisms of a unity government by the unelected Mahmoud Abbas, which would mean that Hamas would have to be acquiescent to Israeli and U.S. demands on the Palestinian Authority.

-Syria has its hands full with domestic instability, while Iran and Hezbollah are falsely being accused of shooting Syrian protesters.

-Lebanon lacks a functioning government and Hezbollah is increasingly being encircled. Instead of being treated as a domestic Lebanese issue, the arms of the Lebanese Resistance are also being turned into an international issue.

-Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab monarchies have been heavily armed over the years.

-Pakistan has been destabilized.

-Internal divisions have been created in the Resistance Bloc.

-Russia and its CSTO allies are being intimidated by U.S. and NATO bases and the missile shield in Eastern Europe.

-The Obama Administration has declared that it intends to violate the national boundaries of other nations it thinks have terrorists. In this regard the Revolutionary Guard in Iran has been declared a terrorist organization.

-In 2010, the Obama Administration creatively redefined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to serve its geo-strategic interests. It declared that it had the rights to violate the NPT by attacking Iran with nuclear weapons.

-The missile shield systems in Israel, the Persian Gulf, and Turkey are ready or will be in place soon.

Currently, a war is being fought by Washington, Tel Aviv, the Al-Sauds, and their allies against the Resistance Bloc. This war is not a conventional war, but one that includes low-spectrum warfare and intelligence operations. The fighting with Fatal Al-Islam in Lebanon and the terrorist attacks by Jundallah in Eastern Iran are facets of this war, as is the aim of regime change in Syria.

Any possible wars against Iran or Syria will not be fought in isolation. If attacked in an open war, Syria and Iran will be fought at the same time.

In the case of a major war involving Syria, Iran, and their regional allies, the chances of revolution and riots in the Arab World were certain. In a manner of speaking the Arab upheavals of 2011 have worked to pre-empt Arab societies from igniting in the case of such a regional war, which presents the Pentagon, Israel, and NATO a new strategic opportunity for confrontation.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

SOFIA: Bulgaria, the United States and Serbia will hold their first joint military training to improve interoperability and coordination, officials said here on Monday.

The two-week drill codenamed “Black Sea Rotation Forces – 2011″ will begin on Tuesday at the Novo Selo Training Range, one of the four U.S. military bases in Bulgaria, the Public Relations Directorate of the Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry said.

Units from the Bulgarian Land Forces, some 40 soldiers from the Serbian Land Forces and up to 100 troops with no more than 15 vehicles from the U.S. Marine Corps will participate in the drill, to improve interoperability among the participants and boost coordination in multinational operations, officials said.

Combat shooting, patrolling, escorting and medical evacuation will be some of the activities during the drill.

We are living one of those historic moments that cry out for rallying the working-class to build new capacities, new solidarities, and concrete hope. The crucial question is not how far the attacks on the public sector will go. The real question is how far we will let them go? How will working-class activists inside and outside the unions respond? Do we have a counter-plan? Are we preparing one? Can we act as decisively as those attacking us?

What’s at stake is not just a new round of concessions. The aftermath of the deepest capitalist crisis since the Great Depression has provided political and economic elites with an opportunity to lock-in two longer-term changes: a reduction and privatization in public services on a scale not seen before; and – with private sector unions devastated by job loss and unable to significantly expand unionization – weakening the remaining stronghold of unionism – public sector workers.

The attack on public services is commonly posed in terms of ‘cutbacks,’ but it is crucial to also link it to privatization. For some time now corporations have been chomping at the bit to profit from what are now public services. Governments have been moving to accommodate this by restructuring how these services are organized and delivered so that they can – piecemeal if necessary – be privatized. The crisis in government finances is being used to accelerate this trend. The end result will be losing services that aren’t privately profitable and sacrificing quality and access while paying more for the health care, garbage collection, utilities, mail, and all the other services that are left and that we will then need to buy (or still finance through taxes).

It’s also clear that ‘business as usual,’ even if more militant, won’t be enough. We need to engage this struggle in new ways and this means re-evaluating everything about our own union structures, processes and strategies.

An effective response requires a social movement much stronger than what we currently have; and this raises the issue of the attack on unions. We obviously need to fightback; we know from experience that if we don’t, that only invites the other side to be even more aggressive. But given what we are up against – a state determined to change the rules – it’s also clear that ‘business as usual,’ even if more militant, won’t be enough. We need to engage this struggle in new ways and this means re-evaluating everything about our own union structures, processes and strategies.

Strategic Choices:
Leading the Fight for Public Services

Unions emerged as sectional, not class organizations: they united workers in a particular workplace or sector and focused on making gains for those particular members. In an earlier time, this achieved important benefits that were subsequently spread to others beyond the unionized sector. But when circumstances changed and corporations and governments concluded that working-class gains had to be reversed to preserve profits, we were ill prepared to address their new aggressiveness. That former legacy of concentrating on our own compensation and conditions left us fragmented and vulnerable to the latest attacks.

Governments have been exploiting that weakness for some time and are now more aggressively trying to use fiscal deficits to isolate public sector workers. This involves framing the choice as being between the level of worker compensation and the level of public services. With the rest of the working-class taking it on the chin, the fact that the public sector remains relatively well-off aggravates the danger of its separation from the rest of the class. The retreats in the private sector, the cutbacks in employment insurance and increase in precarious work, the continuously falling rates of social assistance (now 55 per cent lower in real terms than in the mid-1990s as neoliberalism consolidated as the prevailing policy framework). All this leaves public sector workers open to resentment.

To argue that we’ve always supported better social services, point to our progressive union conference resolutions and insist that the rich should be taxed to pay for decent services and fair compensation are all valid. But they won’t convince those we need to reach. Our commitment must be proven in practice, through the priorities we set and carry out. This means making a strategic choice: we must rebalance our focus from traditional collective bargaining to identifying the defense of public services as a primary priority and take on – in bargaining, in our relationships to service recipients, and on the streets – the leadership of the fight for adequate, high-quality and responsive social services.

Postal Workers (CUPW) are supported by CUPE, PSAC, Raging Grannies and others during their rotating strikes, June 2011.

It is important to be clear about what such a reorientation means. It will require radical changes to all our strategies, tactics and structures. It implies reallocating union resources, building new local and sectoral as well as national capacities, a profound deepening of membership participation, rethinking how we relate to the community, daring to publically expose poor services while speaking to how they could be improved, and developing the confidence and vision to move beyond fighting on ‘their’ terrain – a terrain on which competitiveness and keeping bankers solvent and happy dominates all other values. It essentially involves, to put it bluntly, a revolution inside our unions.

Many activists and leaders will be nervous about such a transformation in union life. Given the union culture they’ve grown up in, they may view this as ‘trading’ off their entitlements for a worthy but secondary cause. The reality however is that first, the level and quality of public services are hardly a ‘secondary’ issue; they represent the crucial contribution public sector workers make to the rest of society. Second, improving the level and quality of services are inseparable from improving our workloads and working conditions. And, third, we need to come to grips with the fact that as things stand, though we need to continue to defend our past gains and may win some short-term battles, we can’t win the war – no matter how legitimate our demands are – unless we broaden our struggle.

Trade unionism as usual will only lead to public sector workers becoming even more cut-off and vulnerable. Developing the strength to defend our jobs and conditions can only come from getting a key part of the public on our side. If we can’t find ways to develop this kind of public support – especially from other sections of the working-class, be they unionized or non-unionized, fully employed or precariously employed, unemployed or the poor – we won’t get very far in sustaining our wage demands and benefits, raising the standards of lower paid members, or defending working conditions.

Moreover, while the primary focus of unions has been on bargaining collective agreements and resolving workplace grievances, the attack is now coming directly from the state, and it will come on many fronts at the same time – from attacking seniority rights of teachers to privatizing health care services, to limiting the right to strike. This reinforces the limits of struggles confined to our own particular workplaces, sectors and unions. Those struggles can only have a chance of widespread success if taken on as a class, alongside the rest of labour and new allies.

Facing Austerity: The Ontario Tories

The social cuts and attacks on union rights that we’ve already seen in Canada from politicians of all stripes are clearly going to get worse. The more aggressive cuts in the U.S. can be expected to bring mounting pressures for the same here and we of course already have our own home-grown politicians and economic elites ready to lead that charge. With Rob Ford as mayor of Canada’s largest city, Toronto; Stephen Harper’s having a majority in Parliament; and the Ontario Tories of Tim Hudak now leading in the polls against the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty; it would be foolish to underestimate what we are about to face.

The Ontario Tories’ platform includes compulsory tendering of support services across the public sector – everything will be up for sale. Legislation would presumably be introduced to over-ride collective agreement provisions that would otherwise obstruct such tendering (since the constitution blocks this being done unilaterally, this would most likely follow a period of so-called ‘consultation’ with public sector unions to protect against a legal challenge).

Should this become a reality, support workers such as cleaners and food service staff would be ‘allowed’ (encouraged) to bid against corporations for their jobs – which could only be done by agreeing to significantly cut labour costs to compete in this new market, including not just wages but benefits and defined benefit contribution plans. Those who don’t compete lose their jobs under this proposal. Because the proposed tendering policy targets support workers while at the same time protecting teachers and nurses (for now!), the Conservative’s platform also threatens to divide the unions.

One response from unions may be to simply ignore or downplay the threat. Based on responses to date, a good many public sector union leaders seem complacent after a decade of growth in membership and members’ incomes, and are distracted by day-to-day responsibilities. The loss of 600,000 public sector jobs in Britain to austerity, or the layoff of 60,000 Texas nursing home workers thanks to U.S. federal budget cuts, are seen as unique, distant and unfortunate events rather than a systematic pattern of attacks on the working-class which will also play out here.

Another response will be to look to political parties to save us, and unions will spend millions to affect the outcome of the election. Teachers, registered nurses and trades, identifying the Liberals as the lesser of two evils, will support the Liberal Party while some private and public sector unions, emphasizing their traditional ties, will support the New Democratic Party (NDP).

The problem here goes beyond the electoral divisions in the labour movement. There is a history of the labour movement’s electoral involvement and even where we have been united around social democratic parties, the results – not only in Ontario but in other provinces, and not only in Canada but elsewhere – are sobering.

The issue is not whether elections matter – they obviously do – but rather that we need to be frank about the limits of even ‘sympathetic’ political parties as they now stand. No party is committed to a fundamental challenge to financial and corporate power. No party is arguing that in a society that is so much richer than it was a generation ago, workers should be raising not lowering their expectations. No party is looking to develop the working-class into a powerful social force. No existing political party will save us.

The point is that ‘politics’ needs to be redefined as building the kind of working-class organizations and capacities that can ensure that our needs are taken seriously. This means public sector unions using their significant resources to advance a political agenda that includes the entire working-class. To the extent that this includes electoral politics, it means a number of things.

  • Our support must not be given automatically but be conditional on a party endorsing specific policies that defend all working people.

  • We need to be wary of political alignments and deals in which professional, trade, or craft interests are delivered legislative improvements in return for supporting, or at least not criticizing, other government policies. This ‘transactional relationship’ between unions and governments tends to turn what should be a class-based politics into a class-divisive politics (e.g. the Ontario government providing special union certification procedures for the construction trades while denying them to other sections of labour).

  • Beyond policies, we must fight against the stultifying identification of politics solely with parliament and insist on the use of party resources, structures, and its authority to escape the narrow confines of Ottawa and actively mobilize in the community (this is especially important in Quebec where a number of union and movement activists have been elected to the NDP).

  • We should also expect progressive parties to be ideological leaders in challenging and reversing orientations that have worsened inequality, made insecurity an increasingly permanent feature of our lives, narrowed social values and left us with a democracy constrained by the ‘reality of global competitiveness.’

  • Unions’ electoral activity must not come at the expense of adequately supporting the infrastructure and campaigns of movements that are addressing, on a relative shoestring, crucial issues like universal childcare and fighting poverty.

We cannot allow, most importantly, electoral activity to replace the independent mobilizations of the trade union movement. Without any substantive independent weight, our demands could be set aside and our support simply taken for granted (a past lesson we’ve learned the hard way). The last thing we need is to put all our eggs in the election basket and wake up one morning with the Tories in office. The Tories would be moving rapidly to freeze wages, limit political involvement by unions, restrict bargaining and introduce tendering while also significantly cutting transfers for public services – and we’d be left scrambling to make up for the preparations that should have long been going on.

Building a Labour Movement that is Up to the Task

If the only thing that will prevent Ontario’s public sector workers from being defeated in the coming battle will be our resolve to engage in militant action, intelligently and creatively deployed to build public support, then how do we build that kind of movement?

A starting point is to acknowledge the weaknesses within our own organizations – weaknesses that pre-date the present attacks. (There are of course pockets of impressive strength in our movement, but it seems fair to say that these are exceptions.) Our weaknesses range from debilitating cultures of bureaucratization, to thin and ineffective democracy, inadequate expressions of class solidarity and little strategic sense of how to respond to the great changes that have occurred over the past three decades.

It is this that workers and worker activists should be discussing now. How do we move into motion to fight the most immediate battles but do so in a way that also builds the capacities we’ll need to expand our options and fight the larger battles? How do we get this on the agenda of our unions and push them to come up with concrete implementation plans and timetables? Among the specific issues that beg addressing are:

  • Union leadership needs to relinquish mechanisms that were used to maintain political control through the period of relative prosperity for the public sector. The very characteristics that some leaders find threatening – creativity and militancy – are the strengths that are now needed from leaders at all levels of the union. Dissent needs to be seen as strength, because debate makes us look at issues more deeply.

  • An effective democracy includes building the capacities of local unions by passing on a significant share of national resources and a doubling or trebling of union activists that have the ability to mobilize the memberships. Local leaders, whose training currently emphasizes workplace and legislative issues, need to be trained and supported so they can also lead larger campaigns in defense of their members and services.

  • Although many public sector unions have established intermediate structures across locals in the same sector, they rarely include the accountability mechanisms or full time officers, assigned staff and necessary funds to do real mobilizing and campaigning. They consequently often offer only the mirage of sector coordination. Such sectoral organizations also need to be democratized – that is, they should be led by elected members and provided the resources to coordinate fights beyond locals. (And where such sectoral arms of labour don’t exist, they should be established).

  • In too many public sector unions, corporate cultures are making staff activists cynical. Activism drains away in hierarchical environments where creativity is frowned upon, honest criticism is punished, and staff are reduced to being technicians rather than allowed to be activists. The thousands of staff in full-time positions are a major resource for organizing and mobilizing our members and communities into the coming fight, but only if they are given the space and encouragement to lead and rediscover the enthusiasm and optimism that first brought them into the movement.

  • If unions (including public sector unions) follow through in commitments to increase the rate of private sector unionization, this comes up against limits on staff times. If they are to be redeployed to organizing and campaigns, members in local elected positions will have to be trained to handle some functions currently done by staff, and new activists will have to be recruited and trained to carry through the expanded demands on the union.

  • We must be absolutely adamant about not compromising the defense of services for promises of ‘labour adjustment.’ It is unfortunately natural for unions to accept trading off jobs for redundancy payments – that exchange follows the nature of collective bargaining and its legalism – but it is a dangerous trap. It further legitimates drastic downsizing and cuts to services and so turns our back on the public while casting the laid-off workers into an economy where they will likely never earn as much again.

  • The struggles of private sector unions to defend their pensions or to fight concessions have often been fought as local struggles. But as their standards fall this is quickly translated into pressures for public sector workers to also lower their standards. As a matter of both solidarity and self-defense those private sector fights need much greater support from the public sector.

  • A neglected dimension of mobilizing our potential strength, especially in the private sector but now also in the public sector, is retaining contact with those laid-off. Unions should be providing not only services, but opening their union halls to the unemployed as a space for discussion and education as well as music and films – all part of easing their social isolation and mobilizing their frustrations. (Absent such support, it’s hardly surprising that a good number of newly unemployed workers see unions as only being there when these workers paid dues, and so turn against unions).

  • Public sector unions need to invest in activist anti-poverty organizations and organizations of precarious workers that can rally communities behind demands for living rates of social assistance, public housing, free and accessible transit, and minimum, enforceable labour standards. Where we directly interact with the people who receive the services that our members provide, we need to find ways to collectively address how to overcome or at least limit the tensions that often exist because of the nature of the relationship. This includes being frank in exposing weaknesses in the services provided by the public sector and using our direct experience and knowledge to lead the discussions on how they can be improved.

Examples of Creative Class Interventions

As we struggle with renewing our unions, there are a number of past and present trade union experiences and examples that are worth reviewing and learning from.

  • In the mid-1990s, the Ontario Days of Action introduced an internationally unique form of protest. Confronted with massive cuts to social programs and the erosion of labour legislation, unions and social movements worked together in an imaginative and disciplined spirit to hold a series of one-day general strikes moving into different communities over a 30-month period.

    With workers asked to lose a day’s pay and risk employer retaliation, unions were pushed to explain the importance of issues beyond their members’ immediate bargaining interests. And with the press warning of hordes of union organizers coming to their community, local debates intensified over the Mike Harris cuts. One limit was that, after building new labour-community structures in various cities, we didn’t keep them in place after moving on to the next shutdown. It would be worthwhile returning to that experience to more generally ask what – both positive and negative – it can teach us about becoming more successful next time.

  • CUPE, Canada’s largest union, funded the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) to sponsor a joint forum last fall with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) (under the auspices of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly) on the relationship between cutbacks in the special diet and poverty and health care service privatization and an expanded forum is planned this summer, this time in conjunction with other healthcare providers on the relationship between poverty and health outcomes.

    More recently, CUPE Ontario, using resources from its national union, hired an organizer to work full-time, in cooperation with OCAP, on the education and mobilization of CUPE members around poverty issues. As well, OCAP has been invited to speak to CUPE’s front-line workers about mutual interests but also tensions. This kind of tangible engagement, moving beyond well-meaning rhetoric, holds out the hope of convincing others that unions do in fact speak to a larger interest.

  • In response to Toronto’s drive to garbage privatization, CUPE’s Local 416 didn’t simply threaten a strike that it likely couldn’t sustain, but put together analysis and information that a trained cadre of rank-and-file workers used for door to door canvassing of support from the households they service. And both the Toronto Hydro workers and the Amalgamated Transit Union have experimented with public forums where the union – not management – invites the public in to discuss the quality of services and how they can be defended and improved.

  • In the educational sector, CUPE’s janitorial and educational support workers (Local 4400) have hired eight full-time organizers to mobilize at the community level against threatened school closures. Though an important defensive battle, it also raises larger issues about public spaces – if there is no reasonable reason to keep a particular school open, why can’t it be converted into a community space for public meetings, adult education, childcare, workshops on videos or photography, recreation, or even a space where supervised tools and computers and arts and crafts can be collectively shared by the whole community.

  • In the early 1990s, when the government tightened unemployment insurance (UI – as it was then called) and pushed its employees to cut more people off from qualifying, the union – the Public Service Alliance of Canada – found a way of expressing meaningful solidarity. It put together pamphlets on how to answer questions so it was harder to block people from being disqualified and, since the front-line workers couldn’t distribute them at risk of discipline, the union had other members as well as staff distribute them outside the UI offices.

  • Also in the early 1990s, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, on strike against their employer, delivered pension checks without pay during that strike to emphasize that that they didn’t consider retirees the enemy. When the government stopped this and forced pensioners to line up at a warehouse to get their checks, the Postal Workers came down not to picket, but to hand out water and offer lawn chairs to pensioners standing in long lines in the heat. (Currently involved in another dispute with the post office over working conditions, CUPW has creatively used rotating strikes to limit public resentment and focus the attention on providing better services without denying respect to the workers providing the service.)

Other examples, and crucial challenges for public sector production and work, is emerging out of the current crisis of public services in Canada as the turn to austerity sets in. Could transit workers who are engaged in a dispute show their support for free and accessible transit by not collecting fares before withdrawing their services and refusing to police the paying of fares if they are denied the right to strike? Could garbage workers defending the public provision of the essential service they provide take the lead in redirecting garbage bags to the financial district rather than to our parks when their service is interrupted?

It is also worth asking, as the attacks on public sector work escalates, whether it makes sense to leave it to each union in the public sector to go on strike according to their own schedule and strength. In most cases, such strikes will quickly be made illegal or ended through public pressures but even where the occasional union holds its own, they will become the target for isolation and more intensive pressures for rollbacks later. Wouldn’t it be better, in the strategic spirit raised above, of coordinating a larger response of rotating strikes across sectors and creative disruptions in each sector?

One idea discussed within CUPE goes further. Its Ontario hospital division, OCHU has been conducting provincial demonstrations and many community fights against hospital service cuts, but understands that more pressure is essential to defend the hospitals from closure and privatization. Withdrawing labour to defend hospital services seems contradictory, so the question was how to act in a way that avoids or limits negative impacts on patient care and the consequent loss of public support. Union activists are now discussing the possibility of experimenting with a new tactic: a work-in rather than a walk-out – a counter-strike. Members who are off work would come in to work at a specific time to highlight the crushing workloads and the large cuts to staff and beds in Ontario (19,000 over the last 20 years in Ontario while needs were growing).

This approach would demonstrate the kind of services that could be provided if these services were in fact a social priority. The actions could be rotated across communities, concretely demonstrating the reluctance of workers to withdraw their services and their commitment to their clients, while putting management on the spot publically. In placing the level of services on the bargaining table, the union would be both challenging management rights and politicizing bargaining in the sense of challenging the state’s pressure for cutbacks.

The work-in seems to pit the members’ traditional entitlements against the defense of the service. But that is also its strength because it can only be discussed successfully in the context of the austerity agenda and the need for approaches that build alliances with the public. That activists remain skeptical about this tactic is understandable. Some see it as a betrayal of the basic principle that union strength is about withdrawing labour, not working for free; to others, the contrast with past tactics raises new complexities and uncertainties; and some are uncomfortable with the added pressures this would bring to educate and mobilize the members.

It therefore requires the union to convince activists that it will both provide central coordination and also resources for local mobilization, as members will have to be won over to the tactic in unit and department meetings. In any case, just raising this issue has forced the need for broader membership involvement in the debate over strategy. It will go forward but as an experiment in one community, which will be followed by analysis and more discussion.

One of the key on-going questions facing the union movement – all the more so as private services expand at the expense of publicly-organized services – is that of unionization. In the U.S., unionization in the private sector is now under 7 per cent and including the public sector it has now fallen below 12 per cent. Though our union density remains much higher than that of the U.S., the American figures are an uncomfortable warning about our future. Because unionization is approached as a matter of gaining members rather than building the working-class, unions increasingly compete for those members rather than co-operating to bring some organizational strength to groups of workers. This wastes resources and often also leads to unions undermining each other’s drives.

Consider, for example, Ontario’s homecare system. There are approximately 20,000 unorganized homecare workers in Ontario. After the Conservative government introduced compulsory tendering for homecare services in the 1990s, non-union multinational corporations with much lower labour costs largely displaced the not-for-profit unionized agencies. Unions that successfully organized homecare workers found that their new units were lost the next time the contract was tendered because of their higher costs and this generally discouraged unionization.

The compensation of private homecare workers – $12.50 an hour, no guaranteed hours of work, no pensions or benefits – is accelerating the movement of work away from the unionized hospital and long-term care sectors. It’s an example of an organizing dilemma that likely can only be solved through cooperative organizing by multiple unions with a sector-wide focus. The point would be to pool our resources, organize all of the unorganized agencies at once, bargain as a council of trade unions, bring the state rather than the individual corporations to the bargaining table, and use militant action to move these workers to compensation comparable with the public sector. But that kind of strategy is conditional on first going a much further way toward changing our unions.

Conclusion: Concrete Hope

In the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression and unemployment rates over 20 per cent, workers ‘invented’ an industrial unionism that overcame divisions between skilled and unskilled workers, introduced the tactic of sit-down strikes, initiated their own democratic structures via elected stewards and generated industry-wide pattern bargaining. Those breakthroughs were largely responsible for later bringing us many of our social services and benefits and, in the 1960s, the breakthroughs of organizing in the public sector by workers tired of government paternalism. That public sector breakthrough also created vitally significant new opportunities for women and revived the trade union movement more generally.

In that earlier period, capitalism legitimated itself by offering steady material gains, the promise of greater equality, a more meaningful democracy, and a quality of life that went beyond the pressures of economic survival. That era is over. Today, the message is that if you don’t like the way things are, tough – you have no alternative. The real lesson of course is that if the present economic system can’t offer us a better life, then it is that system, not our expectations that needs changing.

Previous generations of workers came up with creative responses to the challenges they faced. It’s now our turn – the turn of the great number of committed activists in the labour movement – to start truly taking on these issues within their unions, build networks of support across unions and across communities, and convert widespread frustrations into concrete hope. •

Michael Hurley is President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of CUPE.

Sam Gindin is a retired former assistant to the president of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).

Both are members of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly. The GTWA aims to develop a new form of working-class organization. Its goal is to create an activist organizing space that crosses workplaces, unions and communities and bridges workers’ lives inside and outside their working lives.

Global Research Editor’s Note

This is the real reason for the maritime blockade of Gaza: Gaza’s offshore natural gas. Denying Palestine its rights over Gaza territorial waters is intent upon appropriating Gaza’s extensive reserves of natural gas.

Michel Chossudovsky, June13, 2011

Tel Aviv – PNN – The Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure has demanded permission from the gas company Nobel Energy to start working in developing the natural gas field that was found off the Gaza Strip shoreline, under the pretext that Israel fears gas shortages in the coming year.

Gaza City coast lineIn a press statement on Monday, the Israeli Ministry of Infrastructre said that it officially requested permission from Nobel Energy to submit a work programme to dig and develop gas fields by July.

The ministry explained that the reason official permission has been sought before digging the oil is because the field is close to the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip.

Israel gets natural gas from Egypt through an agreement in which Israel pays less than internationally recognised prices to Egypt. After the Egyptian uprising and the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian people demanded that the channeling of gas to Israel would be stopped until a new agreement could be reached, so that the Egyptian people could benefit first from their natural resources.

A large concentration of natural gas was found off the Gaza shoreline, and the British Gas group along with Lebanese partners were given the right to dig there and sell the gas during an agreement wthat was signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The British company had already set up two gas wells called Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2. According to the British Gas group, the natural reservoir offf the Gaza shore is estimated at 1.5 trillion cubic meters, at a net worth of around $4 billion US dollars.

However, Chossudovsky, a Canadian economist, estimated that the amount of gas in Palestine is much more, adding that it could make the future Palestinian state as rich as Kuwait, due to the average population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Nobel Energy is a US based company based in New York that digs oil and natural gas internationally.

Dmitry Dliani, Fatah top official, commented on the Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure decision as a license to steal the Gaza gas, as part of Israeli attacks on Palestinian rights. Dliani demanded international protection for the Palestinian natural gas reservoir off the Gaza shore.

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Bilderberg: Who Manages the World?

June 14th, 2011 by Global Research


Bilderberg And You
- by Global Research – 2011-06-13

Awareness of Bilderberg Cabal Explodes in 2011
- by Alex Newman – 2011-06-13


VIDEO: Bilderberg 2011: Globalists’ Meeting Behind Closed Doors
Important new video now on GRTV
- by James Corbett, Andrew Gavin Marshall – 2011-06-06

Important new GRTV video on the annual meeting of royalty, politicians and business moguls in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

VIDEO: Global Elites Meet Behind Closed Doors: Full Bilderberg 2011 Attendee List
- by Paul Joseph Watson – 2011-06-13


VIDEO: Bilderberg: Death of Democracy Behind Closed Doors
New interview now on GRTV
- by Andrew Gavin Marshall – 2011-06-10


Barack O’Bilderberg: Picking the President
- by Andrew Gavin Marshall – 2008-06-09

It is likely that Obama’s running mate will be chosen by Johnson at this years Bilderberg Conference.


The Bilderberg Plan for 2009: Remaking the Global Political Economy
- by Andrew Gavin Marshall – 2009-05-26

The global elite meets in secret in Greece to discuss the Worldwide financial crisis


Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve
Global Power and Global Government: Part 3
- by Andrew Gavin Marshall – 2009-08-03

The Bilderberg Group acts as a “secretive global think-tank,” with an original intent to “to link governments and economies in Europe and North America amid the Cold War.”


From the Global Research Archives…

“The Globocrats”: Davos and the Bilderberg - 2011-01-22

Leaked Attendee List of the Bilderberg Conference – 2010-06-06

Plunged into Chaos: Europe on the Eve of the Bilderberg Conference – by Olga Chetverikova – 2010-06-03

Leaked Agenda: Bilderberg Group Plans Economic Depression – by Paul Joseph Watson – 2009-05-07

Obama Appointments: CFR, Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission – 2009-01-23

Premeditated Merger: North American Union ‘a couple years away’ – 2007-11-22

Debating World Domination: Bilderberg Meets in Canada’s Capital – by James P. Tucker Jr. – 2006-06-09

The Death of Salvador Allende: Murder or Suicide?

June 14th, 2011 by Brian McAfee

The body of former Chilean President Salvador Allende was exhumed in May in an attempt to determine whether the democratically elected Socialist president was murdered by the Chilean military in the initial stages of the coup or whether he committed suicide as General Augusto Pinochet claimed on that day, September 11, 1973.

The sixty-five year old president had been in office for three years. An official investigation has also been opened in the death of world renown Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who died on September 23, 1973. His death, the junta reported, was from prostate cancer, but the newly released military files indicate he too may have been murdered by the Pinochet regime. Neruda was sixty-nine at the time of his death. Neruda’s driver has said that he (Neruda) had been poisoned by Pinochet’s henchmen.

Judge Mario Carroza ordered investigations into both deaths. While most appear to support the investigations, some say they will “open up old wounds.” While Pinochet continues to have supporters in the Chilean right, most Chileans want to see the truth, and perhaps justice.

\The wanton nature of Pinochet’s regime and their foreign backers, particularly U.S. President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, have always called into question the true nature of the oft self-proclaimed “greatest democracy in the World” and its foreign policy. Even prior to Salvador Allende’s election to the presidency in 1970, the U.S. government was at work interfering with Chile’s internal affairs and sovereignty. For example, Nixon and Kissinger had funneled several million dollars to candidates opposing Allende before the election and continued funding opposition figures after the election.

Allende’s first act as president was to make sure that all school children had milk. In part, this policy was enacted because he, as a medical doctor, saw developmental deficiencies in many poor children. Therefore, he concluded that the inclusion of milk in their diet would greatly improve their health and well-being.

At the same time, Allende and his Popular Unity Party allies were prevalent among the copper miners, union people in general and shantytown dwellers. Accordingly, the political right, rich and foreign corporate interests, particularly Kennecott Copper, Anaconda and ITT, were all set in opposition to Allende. This was especially the case since he aimed to nationalized most major corporations in the belief that the revenue from a nation’s resources should be directed towards the common good, social development and poverty alleviation rather then to enrich the already wealthy elites and foreign corporations.

So it is understandable that Nixon and Kissinger were very active in attempting to manipulate Chile’s internal affairs immediately after Salvador Allende’s election. Indeed, the first act in relation was the assassination of General Rene Schneider on October 22, 1970. (People should not forget that the first 9/11 type of event is considered by many researchers to have taken place in 1973 and was an act of state terrorism against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile.) The assassination of Rene Schneider, who was sympathetic to Chilean democracy, opened the door for Pinochet to, then, lead the military.

“60 Minutes” aired an episode outlining the Schneider story just a few days before the second (the US) 9/11 occurred. The timing perhaps was appropriate.

Throughout the Allende presidency as he was implementing programs to achieve the realization of his social and domestic policies, the U.S. was running constant interference with Chile’s trade relations and international banking relations. Therefore, the reality with Chile is that we were never allowed to see what a free, socialist Chile would have looked like because of the constant interference and ultimately violent U.S. led opposition to a democratically elected, socialist president.

(It is easy to imagine the reasons that a successful socialist-leaning country would pose a serious threat to the USA in relation to its prevalent economic models, political system and connected ideological underpinning. In relation, the destruction or marginalization of such a country, in tandem with propaganda about socialism, is an acceptable and longstanding US policy whether involving Salvador Allende, Venezuela’s Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías or any number of other leaders who would cut into maximum earnings by US favored corporations in order to serve their own countries’ people. Under the circumstances, perhaps US citizens can learn a lesson about their own present economic conditions.)

So after the coup with the US’s darling Pinochet in power, Kennecott and Anaconda were free to extract Chile’s mineral wealth with no concern for the society, justice, nor ecological considerations. Instead, profits and other sorts of self-serving gains were the main concerns, just as they are today vis-à-vis the US government’s cozy relationship with big business at the expense of average people in their own and other nations.

All considered, Chile’s current willingness to take an honest look at her history is commendable, as the pursuit of truth and justice are sorely needed when such grievous wrongs have existed for so many countrymen in the fairly recent past. (The most common number of civilians killed by Pinochet’s regime is “over 3,200.” It’s apparent that the number is way more then 3,200, but its hard to find a more specific sum since much of the slaughter was undertaken in a clandestine manner.) Moreover, Chile’s example in such an honest self-examination could eventually be emulated by many other governments, including West Papua’s in Indonesia.

A close but almost totally ignored parallel to Chile’s resource wealth and corrupt history is West Papua, Indonesia. West Papua is one of the most resource rich places on Earth with large amounts of gold and copper. Despite the tremendous resource wealth, most of the people residing there live in extreme poverty. Further, West Papua was taken over by Indonesia during the time of the Suharto dictatorship, and with (of course) the blessing of the US government.

Such a blessing is understandable in light of the fact that the primary beneficiary of wealth extracted to date has been the U.S. based mining company Freeport. Indeed, U.S. corporate interests continue to reap the resource wealth across the world while demonstrating little or no concern for the populations or environment in those places that are making them rich. So Freeport is hardly the exception to the rule in its partnership with the brutal Indonesian military, involved in many human rights abuses, serving as Freeport’s main security force.

West Papua is and has been for over forty years under occupation by the Indonesian military, that is in turn supported by the U.S. with arms and periodic training arrangements paid for by the US taxpayers. As we wait to find out the truth concerning Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda, we should bear in mind that their history is simply one component in our struggle for truth and justice — a longstanding, ongoing and never ending process that must never be abandoned.

Suggested Reading:

Chile’s Road to Socialism, by Salvador Allende

Salvador Allende Reader

The Black Book of American Intervention In Chile, by Armando Uribe

Allende’s Chile, by Edward Boorstein

The United States And Chile, by David R. Mares and Francisco Rojas Aravena

Nothing Is As It Should Be, by Carol Andreas

Storm Over Chile, by Samuel Chavkin

The Condor Years, by John Dinges

Weavers Of Revolution, by Peter Winn

Democracy and Poverty in Chile, by James Petras and Fernando Ignacio Leiva

The Murder Of Allende, by Robinson Rojas Sandford

A Nation Of Enemies, by Pamela Constable and Arturo Valenzuela

The Pinochet File, by Peter Kornbluh

The Dictator’s Shadow, by Heraldo Munoz

In this photo taken on a organised government tour smoke rises from debris as foreign journalists take photographs next to a damaged truck at the Hadba agricultural area, outside Tripoli, Libya, on Wednesday, which Libyan officials claim was a target of a NATO air strike on Tuesday night.
AP In this photo taken on a organised government tour smoke rises from debris as foreign journalists take photographs next to a damaged truck at the Hadba agricultural area, outside Tripoli, Libya, on Wednesday, which Libyan officials claim was a target of a NATO air strike on Tuesday night.

The strikes, which hit on Tuesday afternoon, continued overnight. Early Wednesday, some 10 explosions shook the Libyan capital. It was not immediately clear what was hit.

The NATO has markedly stepped up its aerial bombardment of Tripoli in a fresh effort to hasten the fall of the Qadhafi regime, which refuses to throw in the towel despite a spate of recent defections.

Since Tuesday morning, Tripoli was subjected to relentless bombardment which appeared to pause only at dawn on Wednesday. The attacks, with heavy “bunker buster” bombs that can easily rip through concrete structures or destroy underground complexes, smashed large parts of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s Al Aziziya compound.

Witnesses said a large area of the compound had been devastated. Six to seven buildings lay in smouldering rubble of concrete and mangled steel. The wrecked buildings included one which had a reception centre for foreign dignitaries, and housed a VIP guest house as well. Some of the other ruined structures were used for administrative purposes, said local officials. Libyan authorities said 31 people had been killed in the bombing spree. Officials claimed around 10 to 15 people were buried in the rubble of one building.

Analysts say the aerial bombardment alone is unlikely to cause the collapse of the regime. The intent appeared to be psychological — to conveying the impression that the regime was doomed and stir larger defections from Mr. Qadhafi’s camp. Labour Minister Al-Amin Manfur is the latest senior official to part ways with Mr. Qadhafi. He announced his defection to the opposition Transitional National Council (TNC), based in Benghazi, at a meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, AFP reported.

Steeling the impression that the Libyan leader’s days are numbered, U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that Mr. Qadhafi’s political exit from Libya was “just a matter of time”. Speaking in Washington at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Obama said: “What you’re seeing across the country is an inexorable trend of the regime forces being pushed back, being incapacitated.”

Stung by the air strikes, Mr. Qadhafi struck a defiant note, declaring that in no way was he fading away. In a nine-minute audio address amid the bombardment, he said: “You are setting fire to the sea, you are setting fire to the desert, and you are chasing a mirage. What do you want? What do you want? Did we cross the sea and attack you? Why this consistent bombing? Are you trying to force us into submission? You will not; we will never submit.”

Regardless of Mr. Qadhafi’s verbal riposte, NATO appeared unlikely to lower the tempo. NATO officials met in Brussels on Wednesday, with its Secretary-General urging member countries to expand their participation in the Libya campaign.

The International Contact Group is set to meet in Abu Dhabi on Thursday to build on the May 5 decision taken by the group in Rome to establish a new fund to support the opposition. Discussions include prospects of the opposition tapping the frozen assets of the Qadhafi regime.

With military pressure on the Libyan government mounting, Russia on Wednesday offered to mediate between the opposition TNC and Tripoli.

“I met with Muammar Qadhafi before and I am ready to meet with him now as well, if he is willing to receive me,” presidential envoy Mikhail Margelov told Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy. He said that the TNC, with whom he had already held meetings, was ready for a dialogue with Mr. Qadhafi.

Since coming to Tripoli to see first hand the consequences of the NATO military operations, it has become clear to me that despite the ongoing silence of the international press on the ground here in Libya, there is clear evidence that civilian targets have been hit and Libyan civilians injured and killed.

This Tuesday morning I was taken from my hotel across the city through its bustling traffic to the Al Fateh University.

On 9 June, Dean Ali Mansur was outside in the parking lot.  The sky was blue like Carolina blue.  The clouds were white–no chemtrails in sight.   Puffy and white.  Dean Mansur was visibly upset.  It seems that some of the young men at Al Fateh University, Campus B were fighting over girls.  He explained to me that Libyans are hot blooded.  With a gleam in his eye, he whispered to me that girls are important to young men. 

Yes, that was clearly evident today as I approached the campus of Al Fateh University, Campus B, formerly known as Nasser University.  Under the trees, throughout the lawn as we approached the campus gates, I could see young men and women talking to each other, talking on cell phones,  walking to and fro, assembled, probably talking about the latest campus news–whatever that might be.  Today, on the Al Fateh campus, life was teeming.  Student life seemed vibrant. This feel and ambiance of this university was not unlike the hundreds of other universities that I have visited in the US and around the world.

Libyan boys and girls are like ours. My son would easily fit into the life of this university.

 

 

 

 

 


The campus seemed vibrant, too.  Cranes everywhere indicated a healthy building program, adding new buildings to enhance the student learning environment.  Despite the students’ fracas, Dean Mansur had everything to be happy about as he saw his university becoming bigger, better, and stronger.  Her told me that they had even signed an agreement with a British university to begin programs in the English language.  Not English studies, Dean Mansur emphasized, but an entire curriculum of study taught in the English language!  Of course, he entoned, that’s all disappointingly ended now.

Al Fateh University, Campus B consists of about 10,000 undergraduates, 800 masters degree candidates, and 18 Ph.D. students; 220 staff, 150 ad hoc professors, 120 employees.  It has eight auditoriums, 19 classrooms, 4 extra large classrooms. It also has a rural campus at Al Azizia where 700 students are taught and are a part of the university system.  Dean Mansur compares himself to a mayor because he has so many responsibilities presiding over a large community of students engaging in a rich and vibrant academic life.

Dean Mansur told me that life at the university and, for him personally, changed forever on the afternoon of Thursday 9 June, 2011.

He recalled that the university opened as usual around 8:00 am and was to close later that evening at about 8:00 pm.

Thursday, 9 June, he thought, was going to be just like any other day, except for the fracas over the girls that had cleared the campus of many of the students who didn’t want to have any part in the fighting.  So, outside in the campus parking lot, Dr. Mansur told me he was preoccupied  thinking how he would deal with the disciplinary issue before him.

Then, out of nowhere and all of a sudden, he heard something loud up in the sky. 

He said it began out of no where, a loud roar.  Then a frightful high pitched the hissing sound.  He said he looked up into the sky and couldn’t hardly believe his eyes:  something shiny up in the sky appeared dancing in front of him. He said it moved about like an atari game or something. It danced and zig-zagged all over the sky.  He said he was transfixed on the object for what seemed like minutes but in truth must have only been seconds.

Up and down and sideways it raced in the sky and then, without warning, it just came crashing down into the ground nearby.  It was a NATO missile.

Tragically it had found its target:  Al Fateh University, Campus B. 

Dean Mansur said he saw one missile, lots of fire, lots of different colors all around it, and then a huge plume of smoke.  He saw one missile, but heard what seemed like many explosions. He said he now can’t honestly say how many.

Dr. Mansur said the force and shock of the blast held him frozen  in his place.  He said his heart stopped for a moment.  He wasn’t afraid, just frozen.  He didn’t run away; he didn’t cower; he said he just stood stupefied.

The force of the blast cracked thickened concrete wells, shattered hundreds of windows and brought numerous ceilings down in lecture halls.

Whether it was a wayward Tomahawk Cruise Missile or a misdirected laser guided bomb, no one knows.

His immediate thoughts were for the thousands of his students in the university and for his own three children who study there.

After about 30 minutes, the Libyan press came to see what had happened.  the University President and other officials of the school all came.  But to Dr. Mansur’s surprise not the international press. 

And what did they see?

The media saw the widespread structural damage to many of the buildings, all of the windows blown out in every one of the eight auditoriums.  Doors blown off their hinges.  Library in a shambles.  Books and debris everywhere.  The campus mosque was damaged.  Glass heaped up in piles.  Some efforts at cleaning up had begun.

Dr Mansur says that they have kept the university, wherever practicable, in much the same condition as it was on the day of the attack. Except that the main classroom area that students work in has been cleaned and will be renamed the Seif Al-Arab auditorium complex in memory of Muammar Qaddafi’s son murdered on April 30, 2011 in his home by NATO bombs.

On Thursday, NATO missiles.  Friday and Saturday are considered the weekend here.  Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, the students are back to school undaunted by the bombing.  In many of the classrooms I saw today, students were taking final exams amid the debris.  As I walked around the campus, one male voice shouted out and spoke to me in Arabic:  “Where’s Obama?”

Good question I thought.

I’ve always wondered if the politicians who regularly send our young men and women away to war and who regularly bomb the poor peoples of the world have ever, themselves, been on the receiving end of a Cruise Missile attack or placed themselves and their family at the mercy of a laser guided depleted uranium bomb. Maybe, just maybe I thought, that if they had experienced first hand the horror of a NATO attack on a civilian target they might just stop and question for a minute the need to dispatch our armed forces to attack the people of Libya.

 I didn’t want to disturb the students taking exams so I found some students standing outside not taking exams to talk to.  I asked them if they had anything to say to President Obama.  One professor, a woman, spoke up readily and said, “We are working under fire:  physical and psychological.”  One student spoke up and said that President Obama should “Free Palestine and leave Libya alone.”  He continued, “We are one family.” 

More on that later, but briefly, every Libyan is a member of a tribe and every tribe governs itself and selects its leaders; those leaders from all of the tribes then select their leaders, and so on until there is only one leader of all of the tribes of Libya.  I met that one tribal leader yesterday in another part of Tripoli and I am told he is the real leader of this country. He presides over the Tribal Council which constitutes Libya’s real policymakers.  So when the young man said “We are one family,” that is actually the truth.

Dr. Mansur, trained in the United States and spoke fondly of his time in the US and the many friends he made there.  He is proud of his students and the richness of his university’s community life.  He was just like any University Dean in the United States.

In my view God intervened on Thursday 9 June, 2011.

On the day that the missile struck, not one student was killed.  It could so easily have been different.  It could have been a catastrophe taking the lives of hundreds of teenagers.

I am told that in the surrounding area immediately outside the university others were not so fortunate.

Reports are that there were deaths in the nearby houses.

It’s a funny thing about war. Those  who cause war become oblivious and removed from its consequences; they seem happy to inflict harm on others and become numb to its ill effects while war’s victims find a way to normalize the abnormal and live with the constant threat of death and destruction.

After visiting Tripoli,  I remain as opposed to war as ever before.

The students at Al Fateh University continue their studies despite the siege that their country is under. 

And oh, that second group of students that I randomly spoke to?  I asked them how much they pay for tuition.  They looked at me with puzzled faces even after the translation.  I asked them how much they pay for their books.  Again, the same puzzled face.  Tuition at Al Fateh University is 16 dinars per year–about $9.  And due to the NATO embargo on gasoline imports, the school now has started 10 free bus lines to its surrounding areas in order to make sure that the students can get to school, free of charge.

I told them that I was about to enter a Ph.D. program in the US myself and that I needed tuition and book money costing tens of thousands of dollars.  I continued that my cousin is in debt $100,000 because she went to the schools of her choice and received a Master’s degree. 

They said to me, “We thank Muammar Qaddafi.  Because of Muammar Qaddafi we have free education.  Allah, Muammar, Libya obes!”

Well as for NATO, they still cling to the chimera that their strikes are against military targets only and that theirs is a “humanitarian intervention.”

I’m still waiting to find evidence somewhere in the world that bombing poor civilian populations of the Third World from the air is good for their voting rights, democracy, medical care, education, welfare, national debt, and enhancing personal income and wealth distribution.  It seems clear to me that complex life issues require more complex intervention than a Cruise Missile could ever deliver.

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- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-06