Lo peor que le puede pasar al pueblo de Libia es la intervención de EE.UU.

Lo peor que le puede pasar al recrudecimiento revolucionario que estremece al mundo árabe es la intervención de EE.UU. en Libia.

La Casa Blanca se reúne con sus aliados imperialistas europeos de la OTAN para discutir la imposición de una zona de exclusión aérea sobre Libia, el bloqueo de todas las comunicaciones del presidente Muamar Gadafi dentro de Libia y el establecimiento de corredores militares hacia Libia desde Egipto y Túnez, supuestamente para “ayudar a los refugiados”. (New York Times, 27 de febrero)

Esto significa posicionar tropas de EE.UU. y de la OTAN en Egipto y Túnez cerca de los dos campos petrolíferos más ricos de Libia, en el este y el oeste. Significa que el Pentágono coordine maniobras con los militares egipcios y tunecinos. ¿Qué podría ser más peligroso para las revoluciones egipcia y tunecina?

Italia, otrora colonizadora de Libia, ha suspendido un tratado de 2008 con Libia que incluye una cláusula de no agresión, una acción que podría permitir que forme parte de futuras operaciones de “mantenimiento de la paz” en ese país, y posibilitaría el uso de sus bases militares en cualquier posible intervención. Varias bases de EE.UU. y de la OTAN en Italia, incluida la base de la Sexta Flota de EE.UU. cerca de Nápoles, podrían ser áreas de escenificación de una acción contra Libia.

El presidente Barack Obama ha anunciado que “toda la gama de opciones” se está considerando. Es el lenguaje de Washington para las operaciones militares.

La secretaria de Estado Hillary Clinton se reunió en Ginebra el 28 de febrero con ministros de exteriores del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU para discutir posibles acciones multilaterales.

Mientras tanto, se suma al tamborileo por la intervención militar la publicación de una carta pública de la Iniciativa de Política Exterior, un think tank derechista visto como sucesor del Proyecto por el Nuevo Siglo Estadounidense, que llama a que EE.UU. y la OTAN preparen “inmediatamente” una acción militar para ayudar a derribar el régimen de Gadafi.

Los firmantes del llamado público incluyen a William Kristol, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith y más de una docena de antiguos altos responsables del gobierno de Bush, más varios destacados demócratas liberales, como Neil Hicks de Human Rights First y el jefe de “derechos humanos” de Bill Clinton, John Shattuck.

La carta pide sanciones económicas y acción militar: el despliegue de aviones de guerra de la OTAN y de una armada naval para imponer zonas de exclusión aérea y que tenga la capacidad de neutralizar a las embarcaciones navales libias.

Los senadores John McCain y Joseph Lieberman, mientras estaban en Tel Aviv el 25 de febrero, llamaron a que Washington suministre armas a los rebeldes libios y que establezca una zona de exclusión aérea sobre el país.

No hay que pasar por alto los llamados a que contingentes de trabajadores médicos y humanitarios, inspectores de derechos humanos e investigadores de la Corte Penal Internacional sean enviados a Libia, con “escolta armada”.

El suministro de ayuda humanitaria no tiene que incluir a los militares. Turquía ha evacuado a 7.000 de sus ciudadanos en ferries y vuelos fletados. Unos 29.000 trabajadores chinos han partido en ferries, vuelos fletados y transporte terrestre.

Sin embargo, la manera en la que las potencias europeas están evacuando a sus ciudadanos de Libia durante la crisis incluye una amenaza militar y forma parte de las maniobras imperialistas para posicionarse con respecto al futuro de Libia.

Alemania envió tres barcos de guerra con 600 soldados y dos aviones militares para sacar a 200 empleados alemanes de la compañía de exploración petrolera Wintershall de un campo en el desierto a 1.000 kilómetros al sudeste de Trípoli. Los británicos enviaron el barco de guerra HMS Cumberland para evacuar a 200 británicos y anunciaron que el destructor York está en camino desde Gibraltar.

EE.UU. anunció el 28 de febrero que está enviando el inmenso portaaviones USS Enterprise y el barco de ataque anfibio USS Kearsarge del Mar Rojo a las aguas frente a Libia, donde se unirá al USS Mount Whitney y a otros barcos de guerra de la Sexta Flota. Los funcionarios lo calificaron de “posicionamiento previo de recursos militares”.

VOTACIÓN EN LA ONU SOBRE SANCIONES

El Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU –bajo presión de EE.UU.– votó el 26 de febrero por la imposición de sanciones a Libia. Según estudios de las propias agencias de la ONU, más de un millón de niños de Iraq murieron como resultado de las sanciones impuestas por EE.UU. y la ONU a ese país que allanaron el camino para la invasión de EE.UU. Las sanciones son criminales y confirman que esta intervención no se debe a preocupación humanitaria.

Cuesta equiparar la pura hipocresía de la resolución sobre Libia con la preocupación por los “derechos humanos”. Sólo cuatro días antes de la votación, EE.UU. utilizó su veto para bloquear una resolución insípida que criticaba los asentamientos israelíes en tierra palestina en Cisjordania.

El gobierno de EE.UU. impidió que el Consejo de Seguridad emprendiera alguna acción durante la masacre israelí en Gaza en 2008, que llevó a la muerte de más de 1.500 palestinos. Esos organismos internacionales, así como la Corte Penal Internacional, han guardado silencio respecto a las matanzas israelíes, sobre los ataques de drones estadounidenses contra civiles indefensos en Pakistán y sobre las criminales invasiones y ocupación de Iraq y Afganistán.

El que China haya estado de acuerdo con la votación de sanciones es un ejemplo desafortunado de cómo el gobierno de Pekín deja que su interés por el comercio y por continuos embarques de petróleo prevalezca sobre su pasada oposición a las sanciones que claramente afectan a las poblaciones civiles.

¿QUIÉN DIRIGE LA OPOSICIÓN?

Es importante analizar el movimiento de oposición, especialmente a quienes citan tan ampliamente todos los medios internacionales. Tenemos que suponer que participa la gente con quejas y agravios genuinos. ¿Pero quién dirige realmente el movimiento?

Un artículo de primera plana en el New York Times del 25 de febrero describió la diferencia entre Libia y las otras luchas que han estallado en todo el mundo árabe. “A diferencia de las rebeliones juveniles posibilitadas por Facebook, la insurrección en este caso ha sido dirigida por gente más madura y que se ha estado oponiendo activamente al régimen dese hace cierto tiempo”. El artículo describe el contrabando de armas a través de la frontera egipcia durante semanas, permitiendo que la rebelión “escale rápida y violentamente en poco más de una semana”.

El grupo opositor que más se cita es el Frente Nacional por la Salvación de Libia [NFSL por sus siglas en inglés]. Se sabe que el NFSL, fundado en 1981, es una organización financiada por la CIA, con oficinas en Washington, D.C. Ha mantenido una fuerza militar, llamada el Ejército Nacional Libio, en Egipto cerca de la frontera libia. Una búsqueda en Google del Frente Nacional por la Salvación de Libia y la CIA confirmará rápidamente cientos de referencias.

También se cita ampliamente a la Conferencia Nacional de la Oposición Libia. Es una coalición formada por el NFSL que también incluye a la Unión Constitucional Libia [LCU], dirigida por Muhamad as-Senussi, pretendiente al trono libio. La web de la LCU llama al pueblo libio a reiterar un juramento de lealtad al rey Idris el-Senusi como líder histórico del pueblo libio. La bandera utilizada por la coalición es la bandera del antiguo Reino de Libia.

Evidentemente esas fuerzas financiadas por la CIA y los antiguos monárquicos son política y socialmente diferentes de la juventud privada de derechos y de los trabajadores que han marchado por millones contra los dictadores respaldados por EE.UU. en Egipto y Túnez y que hoy se manifiestan en Bahrein, Yemen y Omán.

Según el artículo del Times, el ala militar del NFSL, utilizando armas de contrabando, capturó rápidamente puestos policiales y militares en la ciudad portuaria mediterránea de Bengasi y áreas cercanas al norte de los campos petroleros más ricos de Libia, donde se encuentran la mayoría de sus gasoductos y oleoductos, las refinerías y su puerto de gas natural licuado. El Times y otros medios occidentales afirman que esa área, ahora bajo “control de la oposición”, incluye un 80% de las instalaciones petroleras de Libia.

La oposición libia, a diferencia de los movimientos de otros lugares en el mundo árabe, pidió ayuda internacional desde el principio. Y los imperialistas respondieron rápidamente.

Por ejemplo Mohamed Ali Abdallah, secretario general adjunto del NFSL, envió un llamado desesperado: “Esperamos una masacre”. “Estamos enviando un SOS a la comunidad internacional para que intervenga”. Sin esfuerzos internacionales por contener a Gadafi, “habrá un baño de sangre en Libia en las próximas 48 horas”.

El Wall Street Journal, voz del gran capital, escribió en un editorial del 23 de febrero que “EE.UU. y Europa deberían ayudar a los libios a derrocar el régimen de Gadafi”.

INTERESES DE EE.UU. –EL PETRÓLEO

¿Por qué están dispuestos y ansiosos Washington y las potencias europeas a actuar en Libia?

Cuando sucede algo nuevo es importante pasar revista a lo que sabemos del pasado y preguntar siempre, ¿cuáles son los intereses de las corporaciones estadounidenses en la región?

Libia es un país rico en petróleo –uno de los 10 más ricos del mundo-. Libia tiene las mayores reservas probadas de petróleo en África, por lo menos 44.000 millones de barriles. Ha estado produciendo 1,8 millones de barriles de petróleo por día –crudo ligero considerado de máxima calidad y que necesita menos refinación que la mayor parte del petróleo-. Libia también tiene grandes depósitos de gas natural fácil de canalizar a los mercados europeos. Es un país de gran superficie con una pequeña población de 6,4 millones de personas.

Así ven a Libia las poderosas corporaciones petroleras y militares, los bancos y las instituciones financieras de EE.UU. que dominan los mercados globales.

Actualmente el petróleo y el gas son las materias primas más valiosas y la mayor fuente de beneficios del mundo. Conseguir el control de campos petrolíferos, oleoductos, refinerías y mercados impulsa una gran parte de la política imperialista de EE.UU.

Durante dos decenios de sanciones de EE.UU. contra Libia, que Washington esperaba que derribaran al régimen, los intereses corporativos europeos invirtieron fuertemente en el desarrollo de “ductos” e infraestructuras en ese país. Cerca de un 85% de las exportaciones de energía de Libia van a Europa.

Las transnacionales europeas –en particular BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Eni, BASF, Statoil y Repsol– han dominado el mercado petrolero de Libia. Las gigantescas corporaciones petroleras de EE.UU. están excluidas de esos lucrativos acuerdos. China ha estado comprando una cantidad creciente de petróleo producido por la Corporación Nacional de Petróleo de Libia y construyó un corto oleoducto en Libia.

Los inmensos beneficios que se podrían obtener con el control del petróleo y del gas natural de Libia son el motivo del creciente tamboreo del llamado de los medios corporativos de EE.UU. a la “intervención humanitaria para salvar vidas”.

Manlio Dinucci, periodista italiano que escribe para Il Manifesto de Italia, explicó el 25 de febrero [Rebelión, del 1 de marzo] que “Si se derroca a Gadafi EE.UU. podría derribar todo el marco de las relaciones económicas con Libia y abrir el camino a las multinacionales basadas en EE.UU. que hasta ahora están casi totalmente excluidas de la explotación de reservas de energía en Libia. Por lo tanto, EE.UU. podría controlar el grifo de las fuentes de energía de las que depende en gran parte Europa y que también provee a China.”

ANTECEDENTES DE LIBIA

Libia fue una colonia italiana desde 1911 hasta la derrota de Italia en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Las potencias imperialistas occidentales establecieron después de la guerra regímenes en la región que fueron llamados Estados independientes pero que estaban dirigidos por monarcas nombrados sin el voto democrático de los pueblos. Libia se convirtió en un país soberano sólo de nombre, pero estaba firmemente vinculado a EE.UU. y a Gran Bretaña bajo un nuevo monarca, el rey Idris.

En 1969, mientras una ola de luchas anticoloniales movilizaba al mundo colonizado, jóvenes oficiales militares nacionalistas de mentalidad panárabe derrocaron a Idris mientras estaba de vacaciones en Europa. El líder del golpe fue Muamar Gadafi, de 27 años.

Libia cambió su nombre de Reino de Libia a República Árabe Libia y después a Gran Jamahiriya Árabe Libia Popular Socialista‎.

Los jóvenes oficiales ordenaron el cierre de las bases de EE.UU. y Gran Bretaña en Libia, incluida la gran Base Aérea Wheelus del Pentágono. Nacionalizaron la industria petrolera y muchos intereses comerciales que estaban bajo control imperialista estadounidense y británico.

Esos oficiales militares no llegaron al poder mediante un levantamiento revolucionario de las masas. No fue una revolución socialista. Seguía siendo una sociedad clasista. Pero Libia ya no estaba bajo la dominación extranjera.

Se realizaron numerosos cambios progresistas. La nueva Libia hizo muchos progresos económicos y sociales. Las condiciones de vida de las masas mejoraron radicalmente. La mayoría de las necesidades básicas –alimentos, vivienda, combustible, atención sanitaria y educación– se subvencionaron fuertemente e incluso llegaron a ser enteramente gratuitas. Se utilizaron los subsidios como la mejor manera de redistribuir la riqueza nacional.

Las condiciones de las mujeres cambiaron drásticamente. En 20 años, Libia logró el puesto más alto de África en el Índice de Desarrollo Humano –una medida de las Naciones Unidas de la expectativa de vida, los logros educacionales y el ingreso real ajustado-. Durante los años setenta y ochenta, Libia fue conocida internacionalmente por la adopción de fuertes posiciones antiimperialistas y el apoyo a otras luchas revolucionarias, del Congreso Nacional Africano en Sudáfrica a la Organización por la Liberación de Palestina y el Ejército Republicano Irlandés.

EE.UU. realizó numerosos intentos de asesinato y golpes contra el régimen de Gadafi y financió grupos armados de oposición, como el NFSL. Algunos ataques estadounidenses fueron flagrantes y abiertos. Por ejemplo, 66 cazabombarderos estadounidenses bombardearon sin advertencia previa la capital libia de Trípoli y su segunda ciudad, Bengasi, el 15 de abril de 1986. La casa de Gadafi fue bombardeada y su hija pequeña murió en el ataque, junto con cientos de personas más.

Durante los años ochenta y noventa EE.UU. logró aislar a Libia mediante estrictas sanciones económicas. Se hizo todo esfuerzo posible por sabotear la economía y desestabilizar al gobierno.

SATANIZACIÓN DE GADAFI

Es el pueblo de Libia, de África y del Mundo árabe el que tiene que evaluar el papel contradictorio de Gadafi, presidente del Consejo de Comando Revolucionario de Libia. La gente de EE.UU., en el centro de un imperio basado en la explotación global, no debería unirse a las caracterizaciones racistas, ridiculización y satanización de Gadafi que saturan los medios corporativos.

Incluso si Gadafi fueran tan tranquilo y austero como un monje y tan cuidadoso como un diplomático todavía sería, como presidente de un país africano rico en petróleo, previamente subdesarrollado, odiado, ridiculizado y satanizado por el imperialismo de EE.UU. si ofreciera resistencia a la dominación corporativa estadounidense. Fue su verdadero crimen y por eso no lo han perdonado jamás.

Es importante señalar que nunca se utilizan términos degradantes y racistas contra peones fiables de EE.UU. o dictadores, no importa cuán corruptos o implacables sean con su propio pueblo.

LAS AMENAZAS DE EE.UU. IMPONEN CONCESIONES

Después del crimen de guerra estadounidense anunciado como “conmoción y pavor”, con su masivo bombardeo aéreo de Iraq seguido por una invasión por tierra y ocupación, Libia finalmente sucumbió a las exigencias de EE.UU. Después de décadas de solidaridad militante antiimperialista, Libia cambió de rumbo drásticamente. Gadafi ofreció ayuda a EE.UU. en su “guerra contra el terror”.

Las exigencias de Washington eran onerosas y humillantes. Libia fue obligada a aceptar la responsabilidad total por el atentado del avión de Lockerbie y a pagar 2.700 millones de dólares de indemnización. Fue solo el comienzo. Para que se levantaran las sanciones de EE.UU., Libia tuvo que abrir sus mercados y “reestructurar” su economía. Todo formaba parte del paquete.

A pesar de las numerosas concesiones de Gadafi y las subsiguientes grandiosas recepciones por parte de jefes de Estado europeos, el imperialismo estadounidense estaba planeando su humillación total y su caída. Los think tanks estadounidenses realizaron numerosos estudios sobre cómo subvertir y debilitar el apoyo popular de Gadafi.

Los estrategas del FMI aparecieron en Libia con programas. Los nuevos consejeros económicos prescribieron las mismas medidas que imponen a cualquier país en desarrollo. Pero Libia no tenía una deuda externa; tiene una balanza comercial positiva de 27.000 millones de dólares anuales. La única razón por la cual el FMI exigió un fin de los subsidios de necesidades básicas fue debilitar la base social del apoyo al régimen.

La “liberalización del mercado” de Libia significó un recorte de 5.000 millones de dólares en subsidios al año. Durante decenios, el Estado había estado subvencionando un 93% del valor de varios productos básicos, en particular el combustible. Después de aceptar el programa del FMI, el gobierno duplicó el precio de la electricidad a los consumidores. Hubo un repentino aumento de 30% en los precios del combustible. Esto provocó aumentos de precio en muchos otros bienes y servicios.

Dijeron a Libia que tenía que privatizar 360 compañías y empresas de propiedad estatal, incluyendo usinas siderúrgicas, fábricas de cemento, firmas de ingeniería, fábricas de alimentos, líneas de montaje de camiones y autobuses y granjas estatales. Eso llevó a que miles de trabajadores perdieran sus puestos de trabajo.

Libia tuvo que vender una participación del 60% en la compañía petrolera estatal Tamoil Group y privatizar su Compañía General Nacional para Fábricas de Harina y Forraje.

El Fondo de la Fundación Carnegie ya estaba controlando el impacto de las reformas económicas. Un informe de Eman Wahby de 2005 titulado “Reformas económicas enojan a ciudadanos libios” decía que “otro aspecto de la reforma estructural fue el fin de las restricciones de importaciones. Otorgaron licencias a compañías extranjeras para exportar a Libia a través de agentes locales. Como resultado, productos de todo el mundo inundaron el mercado libio, previamente aislado.” Fue un desastre para los trabajadores de las fábricas de Libia, que no están equipadas para enfrentar la competencia.

Más de 4.000 millones de dólares ingresaron a Libia, que se convirtió en el principal receptor de inversión extranjera en África. Como saben sobradamente los banqueros y sus think tanks, esto no benefició a las masas libias, las empobreció.

Pero no importaba lo que hiciera Gadafi, nunca fue bastante para el poder corporativo de EE.UU. Los banqueros y financieros querían más. No había confianza. Gadafi se había opuesto a EE.UU. durante decenios y se le seguía considerando muy poco “fiable”.

La revista US Banker publicó en mayo de 2005 un artículo titulado “Mercados emergentes: ¿Es Libia la próxima frontera de los bancos estadounidenses?” Decía que “Mientras la nación aprueba reformas, los beneficios atraen. Pero el caos abunda.” Entrevistó a Robert Armao, presidente del Consejo Comercial y Económico EE.UU.-Libia basado en Nueva York: “Todos los grandes bancos occidentales están ahora explorando oportunidades en ese país”, dijo Armao. “La situación política con Gadafi sigue siendo muy sospechosa”. El potencial “parece maravilloso para los bancos. Libia es un país que no se ha tocado y una tierra de oportunidad. Sucederá, pero puede tardar un poco.”

Libia nunca ha sido un país socialista. Siempre ha habido amplia riqueza heredada y viejos privilegios. Es una sociedad clasista con millones de trabajadores, muchos de ellos inmigrantes.

La reestructuración de la economía para maximizar los beneficios de los banqueros occidentales desestabilizó las relaciones, incluso en los círculos gobernantes. ¿Quién participa en los acuerdos para privatizar industrias clave, qué familias, qué tribus? ¿Quién se queda afuera? Aparecieron viejas rivalidades y competencias.

Se puede ver hasta qué punto el gobierno de EE.UU. estaba observando esos cambios impuestos en cables recientemente publicados, provenientes de WikiLeaks, de la embajada de EE.UU. en Trípoli, reproducidos en el Telegraph británico del 31 de enero. Un cable titulado “Inflación aumenta en Libia” y enviado el 4 de enero de 2009, describió el impacto de “un programa radical de privatización y de reestructuración del gobierno”.

“Se vieron aumentos excepcionaes”, dijo el cable, “en precios de alimentos, productos previamente subvencionados como azúcar, arroz, y harina, aumentaron en un 85% en los dos años desde la eliminación de los subsidios. Los materiales de construcción también han tenido un fuerte aumento: los precios del cemento, conglomerado, y ladrillos, han aumentado en un 65% durante el pasado año. El cemento ha aumentado en un año de 5 dinares libios por saco de 50 kilos a 17 dinares; el precio de las barras de acero se ha multiplicado por diez.

“La terminación [por el gobierno libio] de los subsidios y controles de precios como parte de un programa más amplio de reforma económica y privatización ha contribuido ciertamente a presiones inflacionarias y ha causado algunas quejas…

“La combinación de la alta inflación y la disminución de subsidios y controles de precios es preocupante para un público libio acostumbrado a mayor protección del gobierno ante las fuerzas del mercado.”

Estos cables de la embajada de EE.UU. confirman que mientras seguían manteniendo a grupos libios de oposición en Egipto, Washington y Londres también medían constantemente la temperatura del descontento masivo causado por sus políticas.

Actualmente, millones de personas en EE.UU. y en todo el mundo son inspiradas por las acciones de millones de jóvenes en las calles de Egipto, Túnez, Bahrein, Yemen y ahora Omán. El impacto se siente incluso en la ocupación en Wisconsin.

Es vital que el movimiento político y la conciencia de clase estadounidense resistan la enorme presión de la campaña orquestada por EE.UU. a favor de la intervención militar en Libia. Hay que oponerse a una nueva aventura imperialista. ¡Solidaridad con los movimientos populares! ¡Fuera las manos, EE.UU.!

Texto original en inglés : As U.S. warships near Libya, Danger of Imperialist Military Intervention Grows

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

The big offensive pro-Qaddafi forces launched Friday night, March 4, to wrest from rebel hands control of Libya’s most important towns and oil centers resulted Saturday in the recapture of the key town of Zawiya and most of the oil towns around the Gulf of Sirte.  

In Washington and London, talk of military intervention on the side of the Libyan opposition was muted by the realization that field intelligence on both sides of the Libyan conflict was too sketchy to serve as a basis for decision-making.

Their reports from their primary sources, American military advisers and intelligence officers attached to the Benghazi-based rebels in the east, are fragmentary and often contradictory. They too appear unclear about who is command the assorted militias in revolt against the Qaddafi regime and who gives those commanders their orders. Over the weekend, shapes began to emerge of informal armed civilian groups cohering occasionally into small militias who then decide independently whether to seize a certain piece of territory or town and hold it against military pressure. When there are no troops around, the rebels claim victory.

This is what happened Friday night when the opposition claimed to have finally captured Brega, the important oil terminal and refinery town south of Benghazi and, later, Libya’s second oil terminal town of Ras Lanuf.  However, according to debkafile’s sources, while these opposition successes were widely reported, they were not confirmed. Opposition militias seized only parts of Brega – and not the most important ones, such as the oil exporting harbor which Qaddafi’s forces control – and were still camped 15 kilometers outside Ras Lanuf when they claimed its capture.

Both towns are major prizes and have been tenaciously fought over. Their fall into rebel hands would cut Qaddafi off from fuel supplies and choke of Libyan exports of 500,000 barrels of oil a day. While only a third of Libya’s regular export capacity, this amount it nonetheless nets him enough money to bankroll his war effort against the uprising against his rule.

Friday night, the rebel militias in the east suffered a major setback which halted their advance: Two ammunition dumps in Benghazi which they had seized from the Libyan army in the third week of February in were blown up, wiping out the anti-Qaddafi militias entire ammunition stocks. The cause of the explosions has not been established. Speculation ranges from a pro-Qaddafi suicide saboteur to aerial bombardment or the negligence of rebels inexperienced in ordnance maintenance.

Inside information about Qaddafi’s forces is just as sparse. He is known to be supported by three elite brigades under the command of two of his sons, Khamis and Mutassim and the Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Abu Baker Younis Jaber, but intelligence about them is hard to come by, except that the most effective professional unit is the Khamis Brigade No. 32 of the Libyan army, which Saturday morning won the battle for Zawiyah 30 kilometers west of Tripoli, using tanks, Grad surface missiles and artillery to break down opposition defenses..

debkafile’s Washington sources report the shortage of the most basic information on the ground has seriously constrained deliberations between President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the next steps in Libya. To correct this, Obama in the last 48 hours established a supreme intelligence commission on Libya made up of Pentagon, NSC and CIA experts to scrape together any data available as input for decisions.
By creating this panel, the president has also sidestepped the stiff opposition to his policies coming from Gates and Clinton, especially his inclination to explore limited military intervention to expedite Qaddafi’s removal. They are also critical of Obama’s policies in general with regard to other Middle East centers of unrest, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Following Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in Cairo, the Egyptian military junta in charge of the transition to democracy appears to be losing its grip on the situation events and letting the street protesters run out of control. Friday night, thousands stormed the national security services Alexandria headquarters and are still in there. The Muslim Brotherhood appears to be setting the tone in the Egyptian street amid reports of an internal coup by militant young leaders against the veterans.

The Obama administration has a better inside picture of the state of Egyptian opposition groups than it has about Libya, but it is still rated inadequate. US policy-makers are short of precise information about the real leaders of the opposition groups and to whom they are answerable.

In Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, Shiite demonstrations shouting anti-American slogans, which have become a daily event among the two million Shiites living and working in the eastern oil regions, have spread to Riyadh. Thousands of non-Shiites demonstrated once on Friday and twice on Saturday, prompting the Saudi government to ban demonstrations and protests altogether.
 
The Wall Street Journal’s reported Saturday, March 5, claiming that “The US is settling on a strategy in the Middle East aimed at keeping longtime allies who are willing to make democratic changes in power.” Even if this is true, the change comes far too late to affect the tide of unrest surging through the region.  After he summarily evicted Hosni Mubarak, America’s staunchest Arab ally in the region in the second half of January, President Obama will be hard put to find any other ruler in the region willing to put his trust in Washington.

Imposing a no-fly zone on Libya could lead to an all-out war, a senior U.S. military figure warned today.

America and Britain have been discussing closing the skies above the crisis-torn country to prevent Moammar Gaddaffi carrying out air strikes on opposition forces.

But General James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, said today: ‘It would be a military operation – it wouldn’t be just telling people not to fly airplanes.

‘You would have to remove air defence capability in order to establish a no-fly zone, so no illusions here.’

Opposition forces receive training today in the fight against Colonel Gaddafi. It comes as the British government was forced into an embarrassing retreat over its military plans for Libya

Opposition forces receive training today in the fight against Colonel Gaddafi. It comes as the British government was forced into an embarrassing retreat over its military plans for Libya

It comes as the international plan to deal with the crisis in Libya was tonight mired in confusion.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been forced into an embarrassing retreat over military action against Libya after his government announced the biggest cull of the country’s armed forces in a generation.

Within 24 hours of announcing that British warplanes might enforce a no-fly zone above the North African state, the UK Ministry of Defence revealed plans to axe two RAF Tornado squadrons and fire 170 trainee fighter pilots.

Britain’s Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s decision to axe 11,000 military personnel in four years cast doubt on Britain’s ability to carry out such ambitious missions with the U.S.

General James Mattis, commander of the US Central Command, said a no-fly zone over Libya would first require a military operation to destroy the north African nation's air defence systems
David Cameron has had to backtrack on plans for Libya

Warning: General James Mattis, left, said a no-fly zone over Libya would first require a military operation to destroy the north African nation’s air defence systems, while British Prime Minister David Cameron has been forced into an embarrassing retreat over plans for military action in the crisis-torn country

Desperate: Refugees fleeing the unrest queue up at the Libya-Tunisia border. The UN has warned that the situation 'is reaching crisis point'. Some 15,000 people are expected to cross the border today alone

Desperate: Refugees fleeing the unrest queue up at the Libya-Tunisia border. The UN has warned that the situation ‘is reaching crisis point’. Some 15,000 people are expected to cross the border today alone

Earlier Hillary Clinton warned that Libya faces a drawn-out civil war.

The Secretary of State also revealed that the U.S. may seek the prosecution of the rogue dictator for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, after defecting Libyan officials said he had personally ordered the airline attack that killed 270 people.

Back in Britain, Mr Cameron insisted he would not stand idly by and watch Gaddafi slaughter his own people as Saddam Hussein did after the first Gulf War.

‘We mustn’t let that happen in Libya,’ he said.

But he also distanced himself from his own suggestions that the UK could arm anti-Gaddafi opposition groups.

Enlarge   NATO and Washington are discussing military options for Libya

He said: ‘We are trying to step up our contact with them so we can get to know them better and know what their intentions are.’ But he added: ‘I don’t think we should go beyond that for now.’

There was widespread incredulity from other countries at Mr Cameron’s gung-ho approach of Monday.

Russia and China, which could veto a resolution, dismissed his calls for a no-fly zone, with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov calling the idea ‘superfluous’.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said: ‘We hope Libya can return to stability as soon as possible and its problems can be resolved peacefully through dialogue.’

French foreign minister Alain Juppe said: ‘Let me put it clearly here: No intervention will happen without a clear UN Security Council mandate.’

But last night Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said that while ‘ideally’ such action would be sanctioned by a resolution of the UN Security Council, it was not necessarily essential.

‘There have been occasions in the past when such a no-fly zone has had clear, legal, international justification even without a Security Council resolution,’ he said.

America earlier deployed hard-hitting naval and air force units around Libya in an effort to hasten Gaddafi’s downfall.

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which had been had been on pirate-hunting duty off the coast of Somalia, was seen steaming to the mouth of the Suez Canal in the Red Sea.

The deadly strike force aboard the nuclear-powered carrier is already within flying distance of Libya but the Enterprise is said to be heading closer to the country and Gaddafi.

Mrs Clinton today urged U.S. lawmakers not to cut spending on diplomacy and foreign aid too deeply despite concern about the national debt, saying Libya was an example of how America needed funds to deal with crises abroad.

‘In the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy or it could face protracted civil war,’ she said.

Just hours before, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice had warned of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the country.

More than 140,000 people have now fled Libya – half crossing over into Egypt and half into Tunisia, the UN high commission for refugees said.

A convoy of 18 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Benghazi travels past a Libyan army tank and a mural adulating Gaddafi in the Tripoli suburb of Gaser Ben Ghisher today

Supplies: A convoy of 18 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Benghazi travels past a Libyan army tank and a mural adulating Gaddafi in the Tripoli suburb of Gaser Ben Ghisher today

USS Enterprise

Closing in: The nuclear-powered USS Enterprise, bristling with warplanes, has left pirate-hunting duty off Somalia and is now heading towards Libya

A UN refugee agency spokesman said today that the situation at the Libya-Tunisia border, where more than 75,000 have fled since February 20, is ‘reaching crisis point’.

A further 15,000 were expected to cross the border today alone.

Many of the refugees have little or no money and have been camping out in freezing temperatures in makeshift camps on both sides of the border.

At least one young Egyptian boy was reported to have died from the cold overnight.

Other aid officials say humanitarian aid workers are being blocked from reaching western Libya and patients reportedly are being executed in hospitals and struck by hidden gunmen in ambulances.

Earlier the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, told CBS: ‘The preparations that are under way are for the possibility, we hope not the likelihood, that there could be a real humanitarian disaster in Libya as the situation unfolds.’

She called exile ‘an option’ for Gaddafi but said he’ll also have to answer to the International Criminal Court. She also said it was time for Gaddafi to ‘get off that stage’, calling him an obstacle to the achievement of peace and stability in Libya.

‘One has to question his grip on reality,’ she said, echoing her earlier statement that he was ‘delusional’.

Today it emerged that Gaddafi’s forces had failed in a bid to retake the rebel-held city closest to the capital, Tripoli.

Witnesses said pro-Gaddafi troops, supported by tanks and anti-aircraft guns, tried to retake Zawiya in six hours of fighting last night, attacking rebel positions from six directions.

They said the rebels managed to push back the attackers in Zawiya which is 30 miles west of Tripoli.

‘We will not give up Zawiya at any price,’ said one witness.

 


The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise transits the Suez Canal in Egypt in this February 15, 2011 handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy. The United States is moving warships and aircraft, including the USS Enterprise, into the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, according to U.S. officials. (REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jesse L. Gonzalez/Handout)

Two U.S. amphibious warships, the USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Wednesday and arrived in the Mediterranean, a canal official said. The officials said the USS Kearsarge is carrying 42 helicopters.

The United States had said on Monday it was moving ships and planes closer to Libya. The arrival of the warships came as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi moved to recapture control of Brega, a key oil port in eastern Libya, and reverse the tide of an opposition uprising.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the ships, along with an extra 400 Marines, would be ready to give humanitarian relief and perform emergency evacuations from Libya.

The USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce entered accompanied by tugs to secure their passage, the canal official also said. Helicopters can take off from and land on the Kearsarge.

Even as warships got closer to Libya, U.S. defense leaders expressed caution Tuesday about military intervention, warning that enforcement of a no-fly zone would require scarce air assets, domestic political approval and international authorization.

Foreign leaders, and some U.S. officials, have said a no-fly zone is under active consideration, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the Pentagon was preparing “a lot of options and contingencies” for President Obama.

But Gates said military measures could have indirect consequences that “need to be considered very carefully.” He suggested any intervention in Libya could drain U.S. forces from the war in Afghanistan and questioned the wisdom of the United States engaging in military action in another Muslim country.
 
 

Washington, March 4 (RHC)– U.S. President Barack Obama has publicly said for the first time that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi must leave office. During a news conference Thursday, Obama said he has ordered the U.S. military to be prepared to take action in Libya if needed.

Obama said that he wants to make sure that the United States “has  full capacity to act, potentially rapidly, if the situation  deteriorates” in Libya.

The U.S. president alluded to possible missions for so-called  “humanitarian airlifts,” saying that he had authorized U.S. military  aircraft to move foreigners who are trying to leave Libya.

DAY OF THE MARTYR,  04 March 2011
 
 
 
The second day of “National Rage” in Iraq produced again big demonstrations in all major cities in Iraq. The relevance of these protest movements cannot be underestimated. These protest are nationwide, not sectarian. The Iraqi youth, main instigators of this movement, are challenging the sectarian Iraqi Quisling government and counter American and Iranian plans for the country: no partitioning of Iraq, but electricity, jobs, clean water, free healthcare and education. No to corruption, no to summary executions and death squads. No to state-sponsored terror. These Iraqi demonstrators want a unified Iraq and want the money of their oil being used for public services. I’ve been following the events today with great admiration and hope, hope for change, hope that the Iraqi people can reverse – as one nation – the deadly spiral of ethnic cleansing, sectarianism, despair and the culture of death, imported by the US horsemen of the apocalypse.
 
Underneath are a reflection from an Iraqi activist: Asma Al Haidari and an account of our Spanish friends from SCOSI (Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq).
 
Once again the Western media are strikingly absent, probably following instructions from His Master’s Voice.
———————————–
My dear Dirk,
You have been receiving bulletins from me throughout the day which I know full well, you find quite dry and without any feeling or sentiment – well now I am writing to you to let you know what it was really like watching and listening – watching all these thousands of young men and women as well as the old demonstrating peacefully and knowing full well they are going to be attacked, arrested and probably in some cases killed for no reason other than wanting freedom and dignity.
I  was also listening to their fervor and anguish which literally brought me to tears and broke my heart probably for the umpteenth millionth time since the invasion and occupation of Iraq asking myself all the time how can the world be so blind and deaf – and for the past two weeks I have felt that the world is not only deaf  and blind but dumb also, with a very few exceptions , of course!
We started the Martyr’s Day, for that is what the young people have called it, with the execution of a young married man being taken away in  full sight of his young wife and children by a force called Battalion  24,  formerly known as the infamous, Muthanna Battalion commanded by the very infamous Raheem Risen Al Baythani who has commanded this battalion in Abu Ghraib and has terrorized its citizens since he took over which is around 3 years ago – before that he was in command of Hay Al Jamia’a which he also terrorized – infact, he is famous for terrorizing the areas he has taken command of – I’ve heard that he tells the people that they are all his slaves!
The young man, Ahmed Inizie Al Hamdani was found executed a short while later just 50 meters from his home….., in the village of Al Hamdaniya in Abu Ghraib.
Of course, last night it was announced that the so called government had imposed a curfew from 12 o’clock midnight, last night, to 6.00 a.m. Saturday morning throughout Iraq.   They had also imposed a curfew on all vehicles in Baghdad and in all Iraq’s cities.
The Tahrir Square demonstrators were beaten with electric truncheons and clubs and a chase took place in all the neighbouring side streets , hotels and buildings!   A number of journalists and hoteliers were arrested.   Chased by water cannon and looked on from above by helicopters!   Watched also from the Turkish Restaurant bulding by this weeks new Death Squad – they were the people who gave commands and orders to the security troops to shoot and beatup!   Plaoma will have the details in the attached report.
In all the Iraqi cities people were threatened under pain of death and shoot to kill orders were given by police officers to their men in order to stop the demonstrations and yet people still came out and demonstrated in most of the cities – the most important of which were Baghdad, Mosul, Sammarra’a, Basra, Nejef, Deewaniya, Theeqarr.   They all sang about Maliki being a liar – it is amazing how this man is so much without dignity – hundreds and thousands of Iraqis have been singing a special song for him about his being a thief and a liar for the past 2 weeks – anyone else would have resigned and got out but not he.
There are a whole spate of songs about him and his regime of crooks and plunderers now – I will be sending you some very soon.
Sulaymaniya – yes, I must never forget Sulaymaniya – brave Sulaymaniya who has paid so expensively for its revolt against corruption and oppression and who started all of this …. 3 days ago it gave its youngest – a 12 year old boy.
We, too, paid, yes, we too paid. Today a young girl, was shot by a sniper in Sammarra’a – and the snipers are all members of the Iranian Quds Army who were positioned on the top of buildings.
Today, the brave men of Mosul have decided to stage a sit in which they will not give up until their demands are met – they are holding it  in the Sports Stadium.   The neighbouring families have started keeping them supplied with food and water.
Already Mosul has paid up so many young lives – I will soon be sending you a list of the young people killed by security forces.
The press, as usual suffered today – three members of the press were attacked so badly by the security forces in Basra that they ended in hospital and a fourth was also attacked – we saw blood streaming from their heads and faces.   One of them said that he was told that he was an enemy of society!
The press also suffered in Tahrir Square and you will be hearing about that in more detail from Pedro.   Pedro was told by one of them that they were in touch with the UN representative in Baghdad and had given him a detailed report – I find the whole idea of the UN very amusing – there is an old proverb in Arabic, Dirk – which more or less says that you may go on calling but there is no life in the person you are calling and a stone would answer you had you called it!
The press was barred from cities like Tikreet and Haweeja was totally surrounded by the army and the police.
I listened to an old Imam from Kirkuk calling everyone to fight oppression of the Ashawiss in Kirkuk and the oppression of the huge army that has occupied Iraq – he made the tears come to my eyes and broke my heart – I listened to an old resistance fighter reminding the new pontious pilates and Judas Escariots of the 21st century – Dr. Salman Al Jumaili and Dr. Rafi’i Al Essawi who sold thir country, their people and their religion for a  handful of silver and for a chair; he also encouraged the people to continue their fight and told us that we will soon liberate ourselves.   He was marvelous – both these men were marvelous – their voices and words still ring in my ears.   I also heard a young man addressing Maliki and telling him that he really is the most dismal of cowards – he was so frightened of people demonstrating peacefully and felt that it was essential to take such draconious measures and he wondered what he would do had these people been carrying arms; he paused for a minute and then told him we soon will!
Women – oh so many women demonstrated and so many women spoke and encouraged the young people of Iraq to go on with their brave fight.
 – one of these women said that she had lost 3 sons – that no one should be frightened of Maliki and that his days are numbered – yes, it was quite an emotional day – something I don’t like expressing except to the people closest to my heart, as you well know- the people who stood by and suffered with us for our suffering for the slow murder of Iraq.
Again I ask, are the American Adminsitration and the European Community blind??? Is the world blind – is it deaf????
Well, just to update you, the Unions in Iraq are demonstrating in Tahrir Square tomorrow and Monday we’ll see demonstrations of Regret.   (Regret for having participated in the general election and they’ve asked people to come with a finger painted in red!).
Sallams and Peace.
Asma Al Haidari 
 
Day of the Martyr: Demonstrators and journalists under attack
 
CEOSI, 4 de marzo de 2011
www.iraqsolidaridad.org
 
Iraqi security forces have shot with live ammunition against demonstrators in different cities in Iraq. Aisha Haitham  A. al Daraji, a young girl has been killed in Samarra after being wounded by bullets, according to Al Rafidain TV.   She was shot by a sniper stationed on top of a building.    (Snipers have been stationed in Samarra on top of all the buildings.   They are members of the Iranian Quds Army).
Unfortunately, this is not the only casualty. This morning, in the village of Al Hamdaniya, near Abu Ghraib, Ahmed Inizie al Hamdani one of the organizers of today’s demonstrations, was  pulled away from his home and shot him at point-blank range before his wife and his sons and daughters. Colonel Risen al Baizani  in charge of 24th Brigade,  was responsible for this crime.

CEOSI was in contact with a well-known journalist who was in Tahrir Square; in Baghdad [we omit his/her name for security reasons]. This person has informed us that the journalists, especially audiovisual ones, are being harassed and hounded. He/she claimed that tens of demonstrators have been arrested and people are afraid they suffer torture, as they did with the people who were arrested last Friday 25 February in Maliki prisons. UN Rapporteur has been informed of these facts.

The direction for the repression was being carried out from the roof of a building in construction near Tahrir Square by Hasan Sunaid, Al Dawa MP and Chairman of the Security Committee, Adnan al Asadi, deputy minister of Internal Affairs, Shiruan al Waili, Advisor to the National Security Commission, and general Ali Musawi, chief of this police operation.

In Fallujah and Diyalah two demonstrations have been repressed by the police forces. Some mosques close to the government policies or political parties have tried to convince people to stay at home.
It is said that there have been bribery attempts ($ 50.000) trying to convince some sheiks to convince their people to stay home. The army also has threatened to shoot anyone who tried to demonstrate.
At 12:15 pm Al Bagdadiya TV interviewed some physicians in Samarra, who were carrying out a sit-in because they were not allowed to treat the wounded people. The same source claimed that in Samarra there were Iranian troops.

Media

Once again, media has been attacked by the Iraqi security forces. We have to remember that the Occupied Iraq is the country in which more journalists have been killed in History (even more than in Vietnam).

In spite of the Media international organizations calls to allow journalists make their job, —even Tareq al Hashemi, deputy minister of Internal Affairs has made a call— a group of journalist has been attacked in Basra while informing about the demonstrations in that city. Three of them are wounded and have been taken to Hospital, according to their statements to Al SharquiyaTV.

Al Rasd wal Maalumat al Wataniya, an Iraqi monitoring organization, has stated that general Kadem Abu al Hil, chancelor of the police at Muthanna province, has ordered to block the satellite cameras and those on the ground [1].

It is also reported that Salah al-Din TV has been closed by security forces. In Tikrit, Iraqi security forces have close Al Rafidain TV offices and journalist are forbidden to enter the city

Next demonstrations (called through social networks):

March 7, first anniversary of the elections

March 11, Friday of demonstrations.

IraqSolidaridad footnotes:

1.- See in Arabic the full text:  http://www.almansore.com/Art.php?id=23109

Dirk Adriaensens is member of the BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee

Under the cynical cover of addressing a humanitarian crisis in Libya, the US and its European allies are intensifying military operations and economic measures directed against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

Amid preparations for a possible armed intervention, US marines have arrived in Greece for deployment to US warships off the Libyan coast, and US military cargo planes have commenced flights to the Tunisian-Libyan border.

What began as a popular revolt against the repressive Gaddafi regime is increasingly being channelled, with the help of an interim administration in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, into the pretext for an imperialist intervention. Such an operation would seek to establish a de facto client state in Libya. It would help imperialist forces assert control over the country’s large oil and gas fields and serve as a bastion of reaction against the working-class uprisings sweeping the entire region, from Morocco to Iraq.

British and European leaders welcomed President Barack Obama’s statement on Thursday, in which he demanded Gaddafi’s removal and pointedly refused to rule out the imposition of a militarily-enforced “no-fly” zone over Libya. His remarks were an indication of US readiness to support an operation to oust the regime and install a compliant government of the type being shaped in Benghazi.

The London-based Guardian reported yesterday that British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had earlier called for Britain and its allies to draw up plans for a no-fly zone, “was offered important support by Barack Obama on Thursday night. American military planners had been instructed to draw up a full range of options, including a no-fly zone, Obama said at the White House during a press conference with his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderón.”

The British newspaper stated that Cameron and Obama now agreed on “the need for military planning if there is a greater humanitarian catastrophe or if Gaddafi becomes even more aggressive; and the absolute need for Gaddafi to stand down.”

According to the Guardian, Cameron and other European leaders had been left in no doubt by Washington that the European Union should be seen to be taking the lead in responding to the Libyan crisis. For that purpose, Cameron had “shown leadership” by openly advocating a no-fly zone, and was now working with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in drawing up plans for an emergency European Union summit in Brussels next Friday.

The Russian government, which holds a veto at the UN, has publicly opposed a no-fly zone. But British Foreign Minister William Hague said that while “ideally” such a zone would need to be sanctioned by the UN, that was not essential. No-fly zones operated over Iraq by the US and Britain, as initial steps toward ousting the Saddam Hussein regime, did not receive such Security Council approval.

Washington is anxious for its European allies to take the front position, at least publicly, precisely because of the hated record of US imperialism in the Middle East. This includes not only its ongoing wars of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, but its role in the post-World War II oppression of Libya itself.

In Libya itself, after World War II, the US and Britain took advantage of the defeat of Italy to continue the brutal oppression of the Libyan people, up to half of whom had died under Italian colonial rule from 1911 to 1943. Although a puppet king, Idris I, was installed after formal independence in 1951, Libya’s neo-colonial status continued—symbolised by the establishment of the giant US Wheelus air base near Tripoli, which functioned as a hub for US military operations across North Africa.

The discovery of oil in 1959 only tightened the American, British and Italian domination of Libya, the hostility toward which created the conditions for Colonel Gaddafi’s military coup in 1969. One of Gaddafi’s first actions was to demand the closure of the Wheelus base, which—like his nationalisation of Libya’s oil industry—initially gave the colonel anti-imperialist credentials and a base of popular support.

Yesterday, Britain said it was sending several planes to airlift thousands of Egyptians stuck in refugee camps on the Tunisian-Libyan border, while France said it was dispatching a helicopter carrier to waters off Libya to help evacuate civilians. The British government also reported that one of its border agency vessels had intercepted a ship bound for Libya and seized “a significant quantity of Libyan currency.”

Washington is also positioning itself to militarily intervene, in the name of evacuating some of the estimated 180,000 foreign workers who have fled Libya. Two US amphibious warships, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce, joined the USS Barry in the Mediterranean, and 400 marines were flown to a naval base at Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete, ready to be transferred to the Kearsarge. Base spokesman Paul Farley said they had been deployed “as part of contingency planning to provide the president flexibility on full range of option regarding Libya.”

Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said the military had not been given orders beyond two cargo flights to the Libyan-Tunisian border on Friday and a planned transport of refugees from the Tunisian side of the border today. But he announced that the overall military effort, including movements of ships had been code-named Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the Western powers are being used to try to cripple the Gaddafi regime, and seize Libyan assets. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that the US had frozen about $32 billion in assets held by the Libyan Investment Authority, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund. Obama described the measures as the “most rapid and forceful set of sanctions that have ever been applied internationally.” On the same day, the British government froze similar assets, including holdings at the HSBC bank, worth about $3.2 billion, on top of about $1.6 billion in assets linked to Gaddafi and his children.

In a related move, Interpol, the international police agency, issued an international “Orange Notice” alert for Gaddafi and 15 members of his inner circle, declaring that they had been “identified as being involved in or complicit in planning attacks, including aerial bombardments, on civilian populations”. While there is little doubt that the Libyan regime has mounted murderous attacks on anti-government protesters, the Western authorities have offered no specific evidence to substantiate such charges, which could provide a justification for sending in forces to capture Gaddafi.

Within the US political establishment, pressure is mounting for an intervention. Former Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain and former Democrat vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman issued a joint statement urging the White House to move faster, “for both moral and strategic reasons.”

Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, McCain revealed something of the reactionary calculations motivating US policymakers. He warned that the revolutionary movement seen in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere would continue to spread, “beyond the boundaries of the Arab world” and “throughout the globe.”

Inside Libya, Gaddafi’s former justice minister, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who now heads the opposition National Libyan Council in Benghazi, called for foreign air strikes and a no-fly zone. Citing sources within the council, the New York Times reported that this stance was adopted at a heated council meeting where “others strongly disagreed”. There has been deep opposition to such a call within popular protests against Gaddafi, because of fears of a return to neo-colonial rule—fears that Gaddafi is exploiting to posture as a defender of Libyan sovereignty.

The readiness of the bourgeois opposition leaders in Benghazi, however, to facilitate an intervention by the same powers that have plundered Libya historically is rooted in their own class interests in preventing the development of a wider mass movement from below against the regime.

Jalil’s call demonstrates that the opposition council, which includes other recent defectors from Gaddafi’s leadership, would be perfectly willing to enter into intimate relations with the Western powers and oil companies—no less than Gaddafi and his cronies, who cemented lucrative ties in Washington, London, Rome and other capitals during the past decade.

London’s Daily Telegraph has reported that British officials have held talks with former allies of Gaddafi, to identify “potential future leaders”. Among them was General Obaidi, a former interior minister and head of Libyan special forces. A Downing Street source told the newspaper that Obaidi was someone Britain “could do business with.”

The Gaddafi regime is continuing to attack protesters with brutal force. Yesterday, about 1,000 demonstrators shouting slogans and waving pre-1969 flags in the poor suburb of Tajoura on the outskirts of Tripoli were dispersed after Friday prayers by police firing tear gas and plastic bullets. Other parts of the capital were patrolled by fleets of vehicles packed with soldiers, police and men in plain-clothes armed with AK-47s.

In Zawiyah, 60 kilometres west of Tripoli, residents told Reuters at least 30 people had been killed, including the town’s opposition commander, when pro-government forces attempted to retake the town. According to residents, pro-Gaddafi militias opened fire on a peaceful protest in front of the town’s hospital, killing seven people and injuring many others.

Despite intensive efforts to prevent media coverage, evidence also emerged of large-scale detentions by the security forces. An Amnesty International spokesman confirmed that it was receiving, and trying to verify, reports of disappearances and rapes in Tripoli.

Sporadic fighting occurred elsewhere, especially in areas surrounding key oil facilities. In the east of the country, opposition forces said they had pushed further west and seized control of Ras Lanuf, an oil terminal which has been under the regime’s control and lies along a strategic coastal road between the east and Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace.

Found in woods: Dr David Kelly's possessions did not have any fingerprints on them

Found in woods: Dr David Kelly’s possessions did not have any fingerprints on them

Fresh information casting doubt on how weapons inspector Dr David Kelly died has been sent to the Government by campaigners trying to secure an inquest into his death.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve was presented with legal papers on Monday arguing that because there were no fingerprints on five items found with Dr Kelly’s body – including the knife he supposedly used to kill himself – a coroner’s inquest must be held to determine how he died.

The information, covering dozens of legal and scientific points, was submitted by a group of doctors who believe Dr Kelly’s death has never been investigated properly.

Mr Grieve will now consider if there is sufficient fresh evidence for a full examination of what remains one of the most notorious episodes of Tony Blair’s premiership. His decision is expected shortly.

Dr Kelly, a world-renowned weapons inspector, is said to have killed himself after being named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing Blair’s government of lying to take Britain into the Iraq war.

His body was found in woods close to his home in Oxfordshire on July 18, 2003. Uniquely, for an unexpected death such as his, no coroner’s inquest has ever been held.

The public inquiry into his death chaired by Lord Hutton found that he killed himself after slashing his wrist with a blunt pruning knife and overdosing on painkillers.

But Mr Grieve has been told by the doctors that they have established a range of fresh evidence questioning the official finding and highlighting several irregularities.

They state that it has been established, using the Freedom of Information Act, that there were no fingerprints on five items found with Dr Kelly’s body: the knife, a watch, his mobile phone, an open water bottle and blister packs of pills he supposedly swallowed.

In their legal papers, the doctors state: ‘It is submitted that to properly investigate the circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death, any coroner would be obliged to make inquiries as to why there were no fingerprints found, including for example seeking evidence on whether any tests were carried out to establish if anything had been used to attempt to erase fingerprint evidence.

Fresh inquiry call: Body of the government scientist was found at Harrowdown Hill, Oxfordshire, on July 18, 2003

Fresh inquiry call: Body of the government scientist was found at Harrowdown Hill, Oxfordshire, on July 18, 2003

‘This is particularly relevant as it was noted no gloves were found on the body or in its vicinity.’

The doctors have also alleged that Dr Kelly’s GP, Dr Malcolm Warner, may have concealed crucial evidence about seeing the weapon inspector’s corpse when he appeared as a witness at the Hutton Inquiry in 2003.

The doctors claim they were ultimately made aware of this by Dr Kelly’s MP, Robert Jackson, who has since retired from Parliament.

They also say conflicting evidence about where Dr Kelly was found leads them to believe his body might have been moved after death.

According to the two volunteer searchers who found him, Dr Kelly’s body was sitting against a tree, but pathologist Nicholas Hunt described him as lying several feet in front of the tree.

The doctors have also raised questions about the fact that Thames Valley Police failed to collect vital evidence offered to them by Dr Kelly’s close friend Nigel Cox.

This evidence suggests that, immediately before his death, Dr Kelly had made social plans for July 23. Mr Cox is understood to still have an answerphone message proving his claim.

The doctors have stipulated that because none of the fingerprint evidence was even mentioned at the Hutton Inquiry, this point on its own ought to satisfy the minimum legal requirement for a coroner’s inquest to be held.

The legal document covers 36 points. It was co-authored by medical doctors Stephen Frost, Christopher Burns-Cox, David Halpin and Andrew Rouse.

Dr Michael Powers QC, who has been instructed to represent the doctors in their legal action, said: ‘The circumstances of this case are highly unusual.

‘They have troubled a wide section of public opinion. Given the inadequacy of Lord Hutton’s investigation, it’s essential there should now be a full coroner’s inquest.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361953/Fingerprint-riddle-leads-new-Dr-David-Kelly-inquest.html#ixzz1FkcLpk39

Clinton confirms plans for missile base in Poland

March 5th, 2011 by Global Research

.
 

03/03/2011
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed Washington’s plans to deploy missile defenses and Air Force units in Poland.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed Washington’s plans to deploy missile defenses and Air Force units in Poland.

“As was announced by our two presidents in December, we plan to establish a new permanent U.S. air detachment in Poland, build missile defenses in Poland, and as agreed at the NATO summit, develop a contingency plan in the region,” Clinton told journalists ahead of talks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Washington.

Wikileaks published U.S. cables in late 2010 showing that NATO was drawing up a plan on the protection of Estonia, Lithuania and Poland from external threats on a request from the United States and Germany.

The Guardian reported that under the plan, reportedly approved by Clinton, the United States, Britain, Germany and Poland would deploy troops in the region in case of a military aggression against the Baltic States or Poland itself.

According to the British newspaper, NATO members approved the draft plan during the alliance’s summit in Lisbon in November 2010.

In 2009, the United States decided to deploy several F-16 fighter jets and Hercules transport aircraft in Poland. Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich has said the United States was also planning to deploy Patriot missile defense systems in Poland at a base just 100 kilometers from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

“We have a full agenda that will concentrate on three essential areas: building our mutual security, expanding prosperity and promoting democracy,” Clinton said on Thursday, adding “as we grow our military partnership, we continue to expand economic ties between the Polish and American people.”

Moscow has long opposed the deployment of U.S. missile defenses near its borders, arguing they would be a security threat and could destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe.

The United States scrapped earlier plans in September last year for an anti-ballistic-missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Moscow welcomed the move, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said later that Russia would drop plans to deploy Iskander-M tactical missiles in its Kaliningrad Region, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so called Euro missile defense system at the Lisbon summit. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system.

On February 24 a majority in the Cyprus parliament voted for the country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Partnership for Peace program, a transitional mechanism employed to bring twelve Eastern European nations into the U.S.-dominated military bloc from 1999-2009: The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia. Macedonia would have become a full member of the Alliance in 2009 along with the last two except for the lingering name dispute with Greece.

Cyprus is the only member of the 27-nation European Union that is not either in NATO or the Partnership for Peace (PfP), the only EU member that did not need to join NATO or be on its doorstep in order to be accepted, and the only European nation (excluding the microstates of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City) that is free of NATO entanglements. Every other nation on the continent and island state in the Mediterranean Sea is a member of NATO or the PfP. (NATO still lists Russia as a member of the second and since last November’s NATO summit in Portugal it has been active again in the NATO-Russia Council.)

The vote broke down along party lines, with all 32 opposition parties’ members voting supporting the resolution and all 17 members of the ruling party, the left-wing Progressive Party of [the] Working People (AKEL), voting against it. Deputies from the right-wing Democratic Rally (DISY) – whose initiative it was – the centrist Democratic Party (DIKO) and European Party (EVROKO), the liberal United Democrats (EDI) and the Movement of Social Democrats (EDEK) closed ranks against the government of AKEL President Demetris Christofias in a move to, in the words of a Cypriot newspaper, “force the administration to apply for membership in Partnership for Peace.” [1]

Ahead of the vote, which AKEL members of parliament succeeded in postponing for a week, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou stated, “Exercising foreign policy and taking foreign policy decisions is a safeguarded constitutional right of the executive.” [2]

Cyprus was split into northern ethnic Turkish and southern Greek sections after the Turkish military invasion of 1974, although only Turkey recognizes the northern entity. The Republic of Cyprus has a population of 800,000 and a unicameral parliament, the House of Representatives, and as there is no prime minister President Christofias is both head of state and head of government.

The administration accused DISY and its allies of violating the principle of the separation of powers in attempting to override the president’s prerogative to make foreign policy decisions, with the country’s ruling party denouncing the move as “unprecedented political blackmail.”

AKEL Central Committee member Aristos Damianou “said there is clear evidence of NATO’s involvement in the division of Cyprus and wondered why EDEK [ADEL's coalition partner from 2008 until February of 2010], which chairs the committee on the Cyprus File – as the investigation into the 1974 coup and subsequent invasion is called – sides with DISY on the matter.” [3]

Damianou also leveled the charge that representatives of the opposition parties (the one Green Party member of parliament abstained on February 24) conspired behind the backs of their AKEL colleagues to introduce the motion.
  
When the proposal to join the NATO partnership program was passed in the legislature President Christofias announced he would veto the decision, and government spokesman Stefanou issued a written statement maintaining “that membership of the program is not in line with President Dimitris Christofias’ vow to achieve a peace deal with breakaway Turkish Cypriots that would demilitarize the island.” [4]

The day of the vote supporters of the Cyprus Peace Council, including minority Turkish, Armenian and Maronite Cypriots, and all 17 AKEL representatives demonstrated outside the parliament building with banners reading “No to the Partnership for Peace” and “No Cyprus in NATO, or NATO in Cyprus.” Former mayor of Famagusta (now in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus where NATO member Turkey maintains 30,000 troops) Yiannakis Skordis demanded Cyprus abjure any association with the “murderous organisation, at the hands of which Cyprus has suffered and continues to suffer.” [5]

The protesters delivered a petition for House President Marios Garoyian (of DIKO) which castigated the drive to drag Cyprus into “warmongering NATO” as an act of “treachery.”

It added: “We demand an immediate end to efforts to join the military camp of those who are responsible for the Cypriot tragedy. We demand respect for the deceased of the coup and the invasion; respect to the revolutionaries, respect to everything the refugees and enclaved have suffered; respect to our missing persons.” [6]

The local press at the time reported that the president would “take the decision to the supreme court as he believes Parliament’s decision violates the Constitution.” [7]

The parliamentary action of last month is the culmination of several years of a concerted campaign by DISY, NATO and the EU to incorporate the last truly neutral European nation into the Pentagon-NATO global military nexus.

Six years ago Canada’s General Raymond Henault (now retired), at the time chairman of the NATO Military Committee, said, in relation to “Cyprus’s strategic importance in the eastern Mediterranean,” that “NATO has a very open policy for countries that want to work with it and Cyprus could be one of those if it decided to do that.” [8]

In January of 2009 DISY intensified efforts to bring Cyprus into the PfP, winning support from EVROKO:

“Based on the argument that Cyprus is the only EU member that has not joined, DISY is trying to forge alliances with other parties that support its entry. Meanwhile, AKEL is adamant that entry to the PfP would not serve Cyprus’ interests, particularly while peace talks [for reunification of the island] are ongoing.” [9]

At the time AKEL leader Damianou itemized the country’s ruling party’s objections to a partnership with the world’s only military bloc, one which has waged open warfare from Southeastern Europe to South Asia:

“AKEL is opposed for three main reasons. First, we are now going through a period of negotiations for the settlement of the Cyprus problem, and demilitarisation is a basic parameter of this settlement.

“We would therefore be giving the wrong messages to the international community if at the same time we start negotiating entry into a military organisation.

“Second, we should also analyse international political developments, our capabilities as a small state and what role we could play in such an organisation. This body functions as a gateway to NATO, where Turkey plays a significant role.

“Thirdly, we should not forget the role which NATO played in Cyprus, in the events of 1974.”

He added: “Indeed, nine out of the ten new member-states that joined in the 2004 enlargement were granted EU membership on the precondition that they joined NATO. We did not have to do that as our interests are different and we seek a solution without armies.” [10]

Regarding the assertion that NATO accession is a precondition for EU membership – that is, that through control of the military bloc the U.S. effectively determines who enters the European Union – the defense minister of post-”Twitter Revolution” (2009) Moldova, Valeriu Marinuta, last week affirmed that “joining NATO is crucial to gaining European Union membership” and that “As a rule…countries join NATO first and then the European Union.” [11]

The AKEL leader also warned that “NATO and the Partnership for Peace participated in military missions that were not sanctioned by the United Nations, such as the war in Yugoslavia and the first stages of the Iraq war.

“As we are struggling for a solution based on international justice, we cannot join an organisation that infringes international rules.” [12]

All twelve new NATO members (some at the time still in the Partnership for Peace) – Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – deployed troops to Iraq after the U.S. invasion of 2003 and all now have troops in Afghanistan serving under NATO command. Current Partnership for Peace affiliates Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine also provided the U.S. with troops for Iraq and all those except for Moldova (for the time being) have troops in Afghanistan. Fellow PfP members Austria, Finland, Ireland, Montenegro (which became an independent nation in 2006), Sweden and Switzerland have also assigned troops to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, a nominal amount in most cases but with Sweden supplying 500 soldiers and Finland 200.

Georgia has 950 troops in the Afghan war theater and had 2,000 in Iraq in 2008, the third largest national contingent at the time until the U.S. flew them home for the five-day war with Russia in August of that year.

Two years ago AKEL also warned about the perils of PfP membership in regard to another war – NATO’s first, the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 – recalling that “during the Kosovo crisis, Albania and Macedonia had used a mechanism provided in the PfP’s Framework Document, that calls partners to alert the organisation when it perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security.” [13] That is, whatever NATO and the U.S. may say to the contrary, PfP members are de facto covered by NATO’s Article 5 which obligates all members to respond to a threat, real or contrived, against another member. Or partner.

A commentary in the Cypriot press two years ago framed the prospect of PfP membership this way:

“Call me an idealist but it does seem a little contradictory that an island which has been exploited for centuries due to its geographic location would still want to place itself in the firing line for any future wars in the region.

“Cyprus could easily become the Switzerland of the Middle East, given a peaceful solution to the Cy Prob [Cyprus Problem] and the complete demilitarisation of the island.” [14]

The earlier-cited government spokesman Stephanou has just demanded information from Britain about plans for deploying Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to one of the two military bases the United Kingdom still retains in Cyprus, that at Akrotiri, for use against Libya. (The base and that at Dhekelia are referred to as a British Overseas Territory and Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom. President Christofias has referred to the bases as a “colonial bloodstain”.)

On February 20, 2009 the EU’s European Parliament complemented the push by DISY in Cyprus to recruit the nation into the PfP by characterizing “the Cyprus problem as a major obstacle in EU-NATO relations” and “deploring” the fact that it continued to “badly impair the development of EU-NATO cooperation.” It “further called on the Cyprus government to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.”

In the European Parliament’s first report on NATO, it bemoaned the fact “that only six member states of the EU are not NATO members. From those, only one, Cyprus, does not have bilateral ties with NATO through its PfP programme.”

AKEL-supported MEP [Member of the European Parliament] Adamos Adamou said the report was “interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign country by asking it to join an organisation that it has no obligation to join.” [15]

AKEL General Secretary Andros Kyprianou, who replaced Demetris Christofias in that role after the latter was elected president in 2008, blasted the narrowly-approved European Parliament report – 293 votes for, 283 against and 60 abstentions – which “included a clause inserted by Cypriot MEP Yiannakis Matsis [member of DISY and at the time of the center-right European People's Party] calling on the Cyprus government to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.”

Kyprianou called the action of Matsis and fellow DISY MEPs “unacceptable and unethical” and described NATO as “an aggressive organisation that has scattered death and destruction in many corners of the world” and one which “continuously violates international law and the UN Charter.”

The AKEL leader also warned that PfP membership mandates submitting defense plans and budgets to all NATO members, including Turkey, adding: “If that doesn’t bother some people, they should say so openly to the Cypriot people.”

Regarding the European Parliament itself, Kyprianou stated: “It is unacceptable for a democratic country, operating on a completely democratic basis, to have its sovereignty compromised and have opinions imposed on it from abroad, wherever that opinion may come from.” [16]

President Christofias was equally firm in rejecting the demand to join the NATO program and “referred to decisions taken by former Presidents Tassos Papadopoulos and Glafcos Clerides not to apply for accession to PfP and said he wondered why his government is now being urged to apply for PfP membership.” [17]

In April of 2009 DISY, DIKO and EDEK deputies in the parliament mustered a majority to pass a resolution calling on the government to join the PfP.

Government spokesman Stefanou condemned the move, calling the PfP an “antechamber” to full NATO membership, and ruling party AKEL’s General Secretary Kyprianou said that any affiliation with NATO would irredeemably jeopardize the achievement of a just solution to the Cyprus problem, adding:

“We remain committed to our position for the demilitarization of the island. We insist on defending the cause of Cyprus based on the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.

“We are adamant that we should not attach ourselves to the bandwagon of NATO and of the United States. We are resolute that nations must base their behavior on international law and not on the law of the ‘big fish eats the small fish.’” [18]

Joining the PfP would put pressure on Cyprus to honor its obligations to NATO – and through NATO to the U.S. – by supplying troops for the war in Afghanistan and providing support for NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean Sea and Operation Ocean Shield off the Horn of Africa. Had Cyprus become a member two years ago as DISY, NATO and the EU alike pushed for, it might at this moment be dragged into plans for military intervention against Libya.

It would be expected to accommodate ships and submarines assigned to the Mediterranean-based U.S. Sixth Fleet and American carrier and expeditionary strike groups (the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier visited Cyprus in 2006) crossing the sea from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Suez Canal for operations in the Horn of Africa and for the war in Afghanistan.

As a NATO partner, Cyprus will be unable to deny the Alliance and the U.S. the use and upgrading of military bases – infantry, air and naval – and will be employed for the U.S. and NATO interceptor missile system being developed in Europe, the Middle East and the South Caucasus, initially in relation to Aegis class American warships with Standard Missile-3 interceptors of the sort that have already been deployed in the Mediterranean.

Cyprus, south of Turkey and west of Syria in the Eastern Mediterranean, is the final link in the chain that allows NATO to control the entire sea. Every other European nation bordering or in the sea is a member of NATO or the PfP: Albania, Britain (through Gibraltar), Croatia, France, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey in NATO and Bosnia, Malta (which withdrew in 1996 and rejoined in 2008) and Montenegro in the PfP. Bosnia and Montenegro have more advanced NATO Individual Partnership Action Plans, Montenegro being granted one only two years after becoming independent.

All the African nations on the Mediterranean except for Libya are members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. A new government in Libya, especially one installed after a U.S.-NATO military intervention, would be expected to join the Mediterranean Dialogue.

Israel is the major member of that program, leaving only Lebanon (under a five-year-long naval blockade enforced by NATO nations), Libya and Syria among Mediterranean littoral nations not members of NATO and its partnership programs. (NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was in Israel last month where he discussed the deployment of NATO troops as part of a future Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which means sending them to the Gaza Strip in the first place.)

Small and insular Cyprus is for the moment the last holdout in U.S. and NATO plans to consolidate control over Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.

Notes

1) Cyprus Mail, February 19, 2011
2) Ibid
3) Ibid
4) Associated Press, February 24, 2011
5) Cyprus Mail, February 25, 2011
6) Ibid
7) Famagusta Gazette, February 25, 2011
8) Kathimerini, December 5, 2005
9) Cyprus Mail, January 28, 2009
10) Ibid
11) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, February 24, 2011
12) Cyprus Mail, January 28, 2009
13) Ibid
14) Haji Mike, From the sublime to the ridiculous
    Cyprus Mail, February 21, 2009
15) Cyprus Mail, February 21, 2009
16) Ibid
17) Famagusta Gazette, February 23, 2009
18) Cyprus Mail, April 3, 2009

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The Federal Reserve tells us we need inflation to overcome the overhang created by debt and its inflationary aspects. The inflation does not create jobs – it just distorts prices upward. We are told by the head of the Fed, Mr. Bernanke, that he can end inflation when he thinks it is necessary. That is not true, because if inflation ends deflation takes command and the economy collapses. There is no finely honed instrument for turning these two opposite effects on and off; thus, inflationary instruments have to be blunt and overused. That means more often than not that inflation is over implemented. This is the opposite of the Fed’s mandate of promoting price stability, full employment and in fact is used to prop up the banking system. Over the past three plus years the Fed has been attempting to assist the banks in getting rid of bad assets and these efforts may last for another fifty years. These banks hold more bad assets then they have ever held before. These problem assets are the result of excessive lending and speculation between 2003 and 2008, and low interest rates that lasted far too long. The quality and existence were recognized in the credit crisis that began in 2007. Most of these impaired assets are still on bank books, but the Bank of International Settlements, the FASB, the accounting agency and the government say it’s perfectly fine to keep two sets of books. If you did that in your business you’d end up in jail, but it is perfectly fine for the financial sector and transnational banks to do so. That is what QE1 was all about – bailing out the financial sector and other elitist corporations. These bad assets, that haven’t been sold to the Fed, are frozen on the balance sheets of these institutions, perhaps in perpetuity.

Fed created inflation raises the real value of assets artificially, so that these bad assets appear to be appreciating when in fact they are not. Toxic securities that are being held by banks, brokerage houses and others, that were worth $0.30 on the dollar, are now worth even less. All the inflation in the world won’t change the value of these assets. It may help interim earnings, but it won’t help in the long run. These policies won’t work long term. The interest on debt now and in the immediate future will be greater than revenues generated. At the same time $900 billion is a nonsense figure. When all is said and done the figure will be almost double that at $1.7 billion. QE1 will provide for 14% real inflation in 2011 and QE2 will provide 25% to 30% inflation in 2012. QE3 will give us hyperinflation. Monetization will be king.

The die has been cast and it is disturbing to see Mr. Bernanke lying to Congress. What will he tell them when he has to admit he created $1.7 trillion, which has been monetized into inflation and that he still holds official interest rates at just above zero, but real rates on the 10-year T-note went to 4-1/4 then 5-1/4? The American public is going to be stunned.

Again, the Fed and the US banking system are in a box and they cannot get out. If they were to officially raise interest rates it would lead to financial collapse. If they do not want to raise rates they could curtail QE2 and as a result the economy would collapse, just like Japan did so in 1992 and they have been in depression ever since. Either choice would send unemployment to a U6 level of 37.6% matching that of 1933. Worse yet, if the Fed’s commitments were marked to market you would find the Fed to be insolvent, a condition that has existed for some time. It is not surprising that the Fed and its banker owners don’t want the Fed audited and investigated. Any sale of bonds by the Fed would drive bonds lower and yields higher putting downward pressure on the economy. Much of what the Fed is holding is MBS and CDO’s from QE1, when they bailed out lenders and select transnational conglomerates and insurance companies.

Such actions would render the Fed officially insolvent, which in fact they are already. Just to show you how terse the situation is their capital is about $60 billion and they have about $3 trillion on the balance sheet. Now you can understand why real interest rates have to be held low. The stock and bond markets have to be held up artificially so that the Fed’s balance sheet won’t collapse. What many do not understand is that almost all of what is on the Fed balance sheet has been created out of thin air and monetized. Part of that hot money and credit has offset the deflationary undertow; part is exported in dollar foreign balances and the rest of the inflation pass into the economy. This is the beginning of out of control inflation and the Fed is well aware of it. They quite frankly are not concerned that people lose their life savings. They only care about saving the financial sector, which owns the Fed, the government and transnational conglomerates.

Inflation will not stimulate the economy. It will hinder it and not create jobs, which is already evident. It is all lies, smoke and mirrors and psywar.

QE1 and QE2 have spread across the world exporting part of US inflation. This inflation gets stronger daily enveloping the financial world. Food prices have gone ballistic and in countries where food makes up 75% of income the result has been the overthrow of one government after another. Even the price of your clothes is going to triple. The cause of these problems lies with central banks and banks that control them in Europe and the US. It is just one giant fraud like too big to fail. There will be no recovery only continual efforts to sustain the criminal enterprise.

As inflation climbs, unemployment will grow and wages will remain stagnant so that the anointed can continue to accumulate wealth. The beneficiaries will as usual be the elitist connected corporations, all those crooks who do not go to jail. Soon profits for smaller and medium sized companies will diminish as they are forced to absorb part of price inflation. Needless to say, there will be no hiring.

People worldwide see the dilemma of the US, UK and Europe and that in part is why you are seeing turmoil that has had its beginnings in North Africa and the Middle East, not that the US, UK and Europe were involved in the uprisings, but the catalyst had been in place as well. The reason for change is higher food prices.  The world public is tired of tyrants and governments that refuse to answer the needs of the people. Again, part of the reason for change is the discovery that these dictators and those who control governments have to be dispensed with. You might say, as Saudi Arabia goes, so goes the Middle East and North Africa. If the so-called monarchy falls in Saudi Arabia the entire region is up for grabs. That would spell the end of the petro dollar, which would signal the demise of the dollar. That is something to be aware of and to contemplate.

As you know, historically when you have bad episodes such as those we are seeing in North Africa and the Middle East that the dollar has rallied strongly. Not this time. The dollar is falling not only against the six major currencies, but also versus gold and silver. We could be headed toward a test of 71.18 soon on the USDX. That makes US imports more expensive and exports cheaper, which would cause a balance of payments surplus. The downward dollar pressure would continue though, because the $1.6 trillion deficits would continue. We believe as history is evaluated Ben Bernanke as well as Alan Greenspan will be found to be totally incompetent. Today we have price and monetary inflation that are terrible. Eventually as the economy and coming hyperinflation becomes manifest we will then see a fall we have all been anticipating for years into deflationary depression.

After three attempts to rally past 82 the dollar in the USDX has faltered again, this time to 76.48. There is technical support at 76 and fundamental support at 74 and 71.18. Current weakness is systemic, but it is being aided by QE2 and stimulus 2.
Finally players are realizing that real inflation is more than 7%, headed for 14% this year, as a result of QE1 and stimulus 1. Next year the result of QE2 and stimulus 2 will start to drive up inflation. At the same time wages and salaries are under intense pressure, especially by major corporations. Next year we will see inflation in excess of 20% and in 2012 and 2013 we will see the inflation caused by QE3 and stimulus 3. That should take us over 30% inflation and into hyperinflation. What else can be expected with QE and stimulus spending of $2.5 trillion a year? You are going to find your government, the Fed and Mr. Bernanke along with Wall Street have been wrong about just about everything. That means that August could bring a debt downgrade for the credit of the US. That would bring further pressure on the dollar downward and pressure to the upside on interest rates. These events will expedite the need for a major meeting among countries, similar to the Smithsonian meetings in the early 1970s, the Plaza Accord of 1985 and the Louvre Accord of 1987, where currencies are devalued and revalued versus one another and some form of multilateral debt default. They would bring about a recharged dollar with 25% gold banking, or a combination of currencies in an index, also backed by gold. It is coming, but probably not this year. During this coming period unemployment will lie stagnant and the US will begin to experience 3rd world poverty. Were it not for food stamps and extended unemployment benefits and other forms of government aid the US would look like it looked in the 1930s. At the same time $100.00 oil along with food price inflation signals a loss in consumer buying power of $200 billion and $120 oil will signal more than a $400 billion loss in purchasing power. That means GDP would fall ½% to 1-1/2%.

The above means that any future currency will have to be backed by gold or silver or both, whether the elitists like it or not. Multilateral acceptance is extraordinarily important, because such backing and discipline is the only element that can save the financial system and the elitists know that. On the other hand such backing puts a governor on their wealth accumulation, power and dream of world government. 

The euro could have worked had it been structured properly and the SDR is hopeless. The yuan simply isn’t seasoned enough and China has a host of problems, which are seldom discussed. Thus, it is either a reformulated dollar or an index of gold and or silver backed currencies. Anything less simply won’t work never mind be accepted. The world has seen again that unbacked currencies and corporatist fascist economic policies do not work. They lead to the subjugation of the people and destroy the quality of life for everyone except the wealthy, connected, elitists, who live well while the remainder of the world lives in poverty. The ongoing effect to bring about world government will again fail and mankind will again emerge from the economic, financial and even perhaps the rubble of WWIII. Desperate people do desperate things; so do not be surprised if another war is deliberately started like so many wars throughout mankind. Sound money is the only answer and really the only alterative is a reformulated dollar backed 25% by gold at a much higher price. An index of currencies or 4 or 6 regional currencies won’t work well either. A gold standard guarantees stability, enforcement of law and the unbridled excesses of Wall Street and banking. We need Glass-Steagall back and we need jail time for the crooks running Wall Street and banking.

China Insists Libyan Sovereignty Must Be Respected

March 5th, 2011 by Global Research

Beijing, Mar 3 (Prensa Latina) China on Thursday stressed the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya and also promoted a peaceful solution to the crisis in that country.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu also said that an important principle for China was that the UN Security Council should the views of Arab and African nations.

She said Beijing hopes that all Libyan sectors can work together to restore order as soon as possible.

Regarding protests in Bahrain, she said the Chinese government welcomes the efforts of authorities with a view to reducing tension through dialogue.

All Middle Eastern nations are friends of China, she said, noting that her country had developed friendly relations and cooperation with these countries based on equality and mutual respect and benefit.

Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday warned against outside political or military intervention in Libya, saying such actions could only make the situation worse, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

Earlier in the day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, who is also presidential envoy on the Middle East, and Ali ben Hasan Jaafar, the Saudi ambassador to Moscow, discussed the situation in the Middle East.

The unrest in Libya began on February 15, following the ouster of authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Libyans are demanding an end to Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.

MOSCOW, March 3 (RIA Novosti)

Nota del traduttore, Curzio Bettio di Soccorso Popolare di Padova:

“Potrebbe essere considerato datato il documento che segue, ma a ben rileggerlo si possono trovare tanti riscontri di avvenimenti puntualmente avvenuti.”

Nota di professor Michel Chossudovsky, editore

Poniamo all’attenzione dei lettori questa precisa e documentata relazione sullo schieramento navale in atto e sul dispiegamento delle forze della Coalizione in Medio Oriente. L’articolo esamina la situazione geopolitica che sta dietro questo dispiegamento militare e la sua relazione con la “Guerra per il petrolio”. Elemento determinante per la comprensione di queste mosse preparatorie di guerra è la struttura delle alleanze militari.

Il dispiegamento navale ha luogo in due teatri distinti: il Golfo Persico ed il Mediterraneo Orientale. Israele e la NATO si accingono a giocare un ruolo preponderante nella guerra guidata dagli Stati Uniti. La militarizzazione del Mediterraneo Orientale si estende sotto la giurisdizione della NATO in connessione con Israele. Diretta contro la Siria, è mascherata da missione di peace-keeping ONU, sulla scorta della Risoluzione del Consiglio di Sicurezza ONU 1701. Gli eventi in Libano devono essere visti come una fase della più ampia agenda militare sponsorizzata dagli USA.

L’armata navale nel Golfo Persico, (con la partecipazione del Canada), è assolutamente sotto il comando USA. Il blocco navale è coordinato con attacchi aerei programmati. La pianificazione dei bombardamenti aerei sull’Iran ha avuto inizio a metà del 2004, attraverso la stesura del CONPLAN 8022. Nel maggio 2004, è stata promulgata la Direttiva Presidenziale sulla Sicurezza Nazionale NSPD 35, che porta l’indicazione di Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization (Autorizzazione sul Dispiegamento di Armamenti Nucleari). Mentre i suoi contenuti restano secretati, si può presumere che la NSPD 35 riguardi il dispiegamento di armi nucleari tattiche sul teatro di guerra del Medio Oriente, in sintonia con il CONPLAN 8022.

Questi piani di guerra devono essere presi molto sul serio. Il mondo è al crocevia di una delle crisi più serie della storia moderna. Gli USA si sono imbarcati in un’avventura, in “una guerra di lunga durata”, che minaccia il futuro dell’umanità. Nelle prossime settimane è essenziale che il movimento dei cittadini del mondo agisca concretamente nei confronti dei rispettivi governi per respingere e smantellare questo programma militare. E’ necessario rompere la cospirazione del silenzio, denunciare sui media le bugie e le disinformazioni, far fronte alla natura criminale dell’Amministrazione USA e dei governi che la appoggiano, alla loro agenda di guerra, così come al cosiddetto “Programma sulla Sicurezza Nazionale”, che ha già definito i lineamenti di uno stato di polizia. E’ necessario portare il progetto di guerra degli USA al primo posto del dibattito pubblico, particolarmente nel Nord America e nell’Europa Occidentale. I leader politici e militari che si oppongono alla guerra devono assumere posizioni ferme all’interno delle rispettive istituzioni. I cittadini devono prendere- individualmente e collettivamente- posizione contro la guerra.

Centre for Research on Gloablization (CRG)/Centro per la Ricerca sulla Globalizzazione, 1/11/2006

Sulla strada della guerra: blocco navale nel Golfo Persico e nel Mediterraneo Orientale

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, 1/11/2006

L’eventualità di un’altra guerra in Medio Oriente è alta. Solo il tempo dirà se stanno per materializzarsi pienamente gli orrori di altre battaglie. E nemmeno la forma della guerra e i termini del suo inizio sono ancora decisi. Se sarà intrapresa o no la guerra contro l’Iran e la Siria, resta innegabile la costruzione e lo sviluppo di misure che confermano il processo di dispiegamento militare e della preparazione alla guerra.

Anche il forum diplomatico sembra puntare sulle possibilità di guerra. Le decisioni che vengono prese, le preparazioni che vengono progettate e le manovre militari che si vanno dispiegando sulla scacchiera geo-strategica, proiettano una prognosi e delle previsioni nella direzione della mobilitazione verso una forma di conflitto in Medio Oriente.

In tale contesto, la pubblica opinione non ha ancora realizzato che una guerra non viene mai pianificata, eseguita o anche solo anticipata nel giro di settimane. Le operazioni militari richiedono mesi e anche anni di preparazione. Un esempio classico è stata l’Operation Overlord (popolarmente detta “D-Day”), preludio alla Battaglia di Normandia e all’invasione della Francia. L’Operation Overlord ebbe luogo il 6 giugno del ’44, ma la preparazione allo sbarco sulle coste francesi “ufficialmente” richiese diciotto mesi. Fu nel gennaio del 1943, durante un incontro a Casablanca, in Marocco, che il Presidente degli USA, F.D. Roosevelt, ed il Primo Ministro Britannico, Winston Churchill, delinearono una strategia per lo sbarco in Normandia.

Riguardo all’Iraq, il “Downing Street memorandum” conferma che l’esplosione della guerra del 2003 è stata decisa da Stati Uniti e Gran Bretagna nel 2002. Quindi, i preparativi della guerra contro l’Iraq sono iniziati nel 2002, un anno prima dell’invasione. I preparativi per l’invasione all’Iraq hanno richiesto almeno un anno intero di messa a punto.

Il periodo dal 1991 al 2003 ha visto continue operazioni militari dell’Alleanza Anglo-Americana contro l’Iraq. In questo periodo, che si è protratto oltre un decennio, abbiamo assistito a fasi di bombardamenti pesanti e a continui raid aerei contro la martoriata Repubblica Irachena e contro i suoi cittadini. Effettivamente, le condizioni per insediare le basi e preparare l’invasione dell’Iraq hanno richiesto oltre dieci anni prima dell’aggressione materiale, durante i quali l’Iraq è stato stremato e le sue forze indebolite.

Negli anni ’80, ancora prima di questa decade di bombardamenti Anglo-americani e prima delle sanzioni dell’ONU, l’Iraq è stato coinvolto in una guerra di otto anni contro l’Iran. Anche la guerra tra Iran ed Iraq è stata organizzata e fomentata dagli Stati Uniti, al fine di indebolire entrambi gli stati. Le manipolazioni che stanno nel retroscena dello scatenamento della guerra tra Iran e Iraq, con il chiaro obiettivo dell’indebolimento dei due stati, fanno parte di una pianificazione strategica propedeutica alla loro futura occupazione militare.

In questo periodo preparatorio, gli Anglo-Americani hanno anche iniziato a mettere le mani, per le loro future operazioni, sui Balcani. I Balcani, area adiacente al Medio Oriente, possono essere considerati un’estensione geografica di questa regione. La preparazione è stata messa a punto con l’espansione della NATO, spostando le basi militari verso est, ed assicurandosi così le vie di approvvigionamento energetico. Anche lo smantellamento dello stato della Jugoslavia ha fatto parte integrante di questo obiettivo, visto che la Jugoslavia era l’unica nazione dei Balcani e del sud-est Europeo che poteva contrapporsi a questi progetti con efficacia. E questo è avvenuto nella più stretta collaborazione tra l’alleanza Anglo-Americana e la NATO.

Ora tutti gli occhi sono puntati sull’Iran e la Siria. Sarà scatenata un’altra guerra Anglo-Americana in Medio Oriente?

Considerazioni sul confronto navale contro l’Iran

Il Pentagono ha già definito un piano di attacchi sostenuti dagli USA contro Iran e Siria. Di fronte alla esternazioni pubbliche delle diplomazie di Stati Uniti e Gran Bretagna, proprio come per l’invasione dell’Iraq, l’Iran e la Siria percepiscono all’orizzonte un’altra guerra Anglo-Americana. E, nell’eventualità di una guerra contro l’alleanza Anglo-Americana, entrambi i paesi hanno rafforzato le proprie difese.

Un conflitto contro l’Iran e la Siria, se si materializzasse, sarebbe differente dai precedenti conflitti patrocinati dagli Anglo-Americani. Sarebbe più cruento, avrebbe campi di azione più vasti e presenterebbe l’apertura di fronti aerei e anche sul mare, con scontri navali.

La forza navale avrebbe un maggior impiego rispetto agli attacchi in Jugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq e Libano. Gli USA hanno bisogno di una vittoria rapida. Le possibilità che ciò avvenga sono sconosciute. Se ci sarà un conflitto con l’Iran, gli USA ed i loro alleati vorranno tenere gli Stretti di Hormuz aperti al flusso internazionale del petrolio. Lo Stretto di Hormuz è il passaggio vitale dell’energia mondiale derivata dal petrolio. Senza dubbio gli USA sentono la necessità di un rapido raggiungimento del collasso dei comandi e delle strutture militari dell’Iran e della Siria.

Ma bisogna considerare che le Forze Armate Iraniane sono caratterizzate da un’organizzazione militare ben strutturata, con capacità militari avanzate, se raffrontate a quelle della ex Jugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq e Libano. Inoltre, l’Iran si sta preparando ad uno scenario di guerra contro l’alleanza Anglo-Americana da almeno dieci anni. Queste misure hanno avuto inizio a seguito dell’aggressione USA- NATO portata contro la Jugoslavia (1999).

Per le loro caratteristiche, le unità militari ed i sistemi d’arma che vengono dispiegati nel Golfo Persico e nel Mar Arabico dagli USA sono da considerarsi i più adatti a combattere contro l’Iran, soprattutto nell’ottica di continuare a tenere aperto alla navigazione delle petroliere lo Stretto di Hormuz. Essi, tra l’altro, includono forze che dovrebbero essere in grado di assicurare teste di ponte sulla costa Iraniana. Queste forze USA consistono in unità di sorveglianza e di ricognizione, in strutture dotate di unità anfibie e marittime di pattugliamento e salvataggio, di dragamine e di unità a dispiegamento rapido.

U.S. Strike Groups: Gruppi di attacco Statunitensi, navi per carichi di guerra?

La nave ammiraglia della Marina da Guerra Statunitense, la portaerei a propulsione nucleare Enterprise, è dislocata tra il Golfo Persico ed il Mare Arabico. E con lei tutte le navi da guerra e i vascelli che compongono il Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12), il Destroier Squadron 2 (DESRON 2) ed il Carrier Air Wing1 (CVW 1). L’obiettivo stabilito per lo schieramento della Enterprise e degli altri vascelli della Marina da Guerra USA è di condurre nella regione operazioni navali di sicurezza e missioni aeree. Il dispiegamento non menziona l’Iran, si dice solo che fa parte della “Guerra al Terrorismo” condotta dagli USA, fa parte dell’operazione“ Enduring Freedom.”

In origine, il nome dell’Operazione “Enduring Freedom” era “Operation Infinite Justice”, che illumina sullo scopo illimitato e sulle intenzioni della “Guerra al Terrorismo”. L’“Operation Iraqi Freedom”, che dà il nome all’invasione e alla protratta occupazione Anglo-Americana dell’Iraq, è anche una componente di queste operazioni. Un gran numero di navi da guerra sono dispiegate tra il Golfo Persico, il Golfo dell’Oman ed il Mar Arabico.

Mentre si presenta questo dispiegamento come connesso alle operazioni militari in corso in Iraq ed in Afghanistan, le navi da guerra sono dotate di equipaggiamenti non proprio adatti a questi due teatri di guerra. Navi posamine e dragamine non hanno assolutamente alcun impiego nella… terraferma afgana, ne sono necessarie in Iraq, a cui è stato imposto un corridoio marittimo e i cui porti sono sotto il completo controllo dell’Alleanza Anglo-Americana.

Le altre navi del Gruppo di Attacco dell’Enterprise comprendono il caccia McFaul, la fregata Nicholas, l’incrociatore Leyte Gulf, il sommergibile da attacco Alexandria, e il rifornitore di squadra Supply, che può essere un’imbarcazione utile per affrontare le forze Iraniane nel Golfo Persico in un combattimento ravvicinato: la velocità sarà un fattore importante per rispondere ai missili potenzialmente letali dell’Iran e agli attacchi dei missili anti-nave.

La portaerei Enterprise porta con sé una quantità importante di materiale per la ricognizione e l’infiltrazione, aerei da attacco e unità aeree a rapido dispiegamento. Queste includono il Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 251, l’Electronic Attack Squadron 137 e l’Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123. Lo Squadron 123 sarà vitale nell’eventualità di una guerra contro l’Iran per intercettare i missili iraniani e per dare segnalazioni di ciò che potrebbe costituire un pericolo per la flotta USA. Una menzione particolare deve essere fatta per lo squadrone di elicotteri specializzato per il combattimento antisommergibili, che viaggia con il gruppo d’assalto. L’“Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 11” sarà imbarcato sulla Enterprise. Il Golfo Persico è noto per essere frequentato della flotta sottomarina Iraniana, l’unica flotta sottomarina indigena nella regione.

Anche l’Eisenhower Strike Group, di base a Norfolk, Virginia, ha ricevuto ordini di dispiegarsi in Medio Oriente. Il gruppo d’attacco, guidato dalla Eisenhower, un’altra nave nucleare, include un incrociatore, un caccia, una fregata, un sottomarino di scorta e navi appoggio della Marina da Guerra USA. Uno di questi due gruppi d’attacco navali si posizionerà nel Golfo di Oman e nel Mar Arabico, mentre l’altro si posizionerà nel Golfo Persico, entrambi al largo dalla costa Iraniana.

Un altro Gruppo di Assalto conduce esercitazioni anti-sottomarini prima di dirigersi verso il Golfo Persico

Anche un altro Gruppo d’Assalto, o di Impatto Preventivo, di navi da guerra USA, l’“Expeditionary Strike Group 5”, sta disponendosi a prendere il mare. Questo gruppo d’assalto sta salpando dalla Base Navale di San Diego con destinazione finale il Golfo Persico e il Medio Oriente. Da San Diego saranno inviati nel Golfo Persico e nell’Iraq occupato dagli Anglo-Americani più di 6.000 tra marines USA e personale della Marina Militare. Il grosso della forza sarà costituito da circa 4.000 marinai e 2.200 marines del 15° Marine Expeditionary Unit di Camp Pendleton. Le navi da guerra e i militari trasportati avranno, a quanto riferito, un turno di servizio di sei mesi nel Golfo Persico e ‘probabilmente’ nell’Iraq occupato dagli Anglo-Americani. A tutto questo si uniranno altre imbarcazioni che includono navi della Guardia Costiera. Anche uno stormo di 38 elicotteri della Marina è a bordo per il trasferimento nel Golfo Persico.

Il contingente di fanteria della Marina non è destinato ad essere impiegato in Iraq. E’ da notare che la 15° Marine Expeditionary Unit è comunque in grado di effettuare un “dispiegamento rapido” su “ordine”, usando i grandi mezzi da sbarco stivati a bordo delle navi da guerra del Gruppo d’Attacco. Se viene ordinato questo rapido spiegamento, l’unità ha grande potenzialità di essere usata come parte della forza di invasione dal Golfo Persico contro l’Iran. L’unità di Marina diventa ideale per prendere parte ad un’operazione con l’obiettivo di prendere il controllo dei porti iraniani, per creare teste di ponte per un’invasione.

L’Expeditionary Strike Group 5 (ESG 5), guidato dalla portaerei d’assalto Boxer come ammiraglia, comprende anche la nave da sbarco (LSD) Dubuque, la nave da trasporto Comstock, l’incrociatore Bunker Hill, i due caccia lanciamissili con missili a tiro teleguidato Benfold e Howard. Anche queste navi da battaglia potrebbero essere schierate nel Golfo Persico, nelle strette vicinanze della costa Iraniana.

Bisogna sottolineare che la struttura di comando e di controllo del gruppo, per un massimo di flessibilità, sarà separata dalle navi. Anche prima di raggiungere il Golfo Persico il gruppo d’attacco navale compirà “operazioni e esercitazioni anti-sommergibile”. Esercitazioni anti-sommergibile avranno infatti luogo al largo delle Hawaii, nell’Oceano Pacifico. Ciò può essere inteso come addestramento e preparazione intensiva per scontri con la flotta dei sommergibili Iraniani del Golfo Persico e del Mare Arabico. A queste navi si uniranno nelle Hawaii anche la Guardia Costiera USA di stanza a Seattle e la fregata canadese Ottawa.

Il Canada partecipa al blocco navale messo in atto dagli USA nel Golfo Persico

Il governo Conservatore Canadese del Primo Ministro Stephen Harper sta collaborando attivamente a questa impresa. La politica estera Canadese è stata fermamente e progressivamente militarizzata dai due governi succedutisi.

Il governo Liberal del Primo Ministro Paul Martin, ha sviluppato la “politica tridimensionale” delle “3-D”, “Diplomacy”, “Development,” “Defense”, (Diplomazia, Sviluppo, Difesa), apportando così una dimensione militare alla politica estera canadese di aiuto e di assistenza allo sviluppo.

La “3-D” pone le forze del Canada di guarnigione in Afghanistan in un ruolo più attivo nelle operazioni NATO condotte dagli USA. Malgrado le pubbliche proteste, il Canada è diventato un membro integrato nell’alleanza militare Anglo-Americana. Il coinvolgimento del Canada non è limitato all’Afghanistan, come asserito dai rapporti stampa e dalle dichiarazioni ufficiali.

La nave da guerra Ottawa è stata dislocata nel Golfo Persico, partendo dalla Columbia Britannica in settembre. Ufficialmente la fregata Ottawa è stata inviata come contributo alla “Guerra al Terrorismo”. Il vascello è candidato ad essere totalmente integrato nell’“Expeditionary Strike Group 5” (ESG 5), che scorrazzerà nel Golfo Persico e nel Golfo di Oman, al largo della costa Iraniana.

La Ottawa, nave della Flotta Canadese del Pacifico, costituisce il ventesimo contributo navale Canadese ad essere dispiegato ufficialmente in appoggio degli Stati Uniti e della Gran Bretagna nella loro “Guerra al Terrorismo”. Circa 225 uomini saranno imbarcati su navi della Marina Canadese, inclusa la portaelicotteri Sea King.

La fregata Ottawa, oltre a partecipare alla guerra al terrorismo condotta dagli USA, deve partecipare anche ad esercitazioni anti-sommmergibili al largo delle Hawaii. Per quale motivo vengono condotte queste esercitazioni? Quanti paesi del Medio Oriente o del Golfo Persico possiedono sottomarini? L’Iran è l’unico paese del Golfo Persico, non alleato con gli USA, che possiede una propria flotta di sommergibili!

La Guardia Costiera USA coinvolta nel conflitto con l’Iran

La Guardia Costiera USA è la quinta e minore arma delle Forze Armate Statunitensi. Le altre quattro armi sono la Marina, l’Aviazione, l’Esercito e i Marines. La Guardia Costiera è particolare in quanto è una forza che ha sia natura militare, sia la funzione di far applicare la legge, e inoltre compiti di ricerca e salvataggio marittimo. In tempo di pace la Guardia Costiera ricade sotto la giurisdizione e il mandato del Ministero per la Sicurezza Nazionale USA, ma, a richiesta del Dipartimento della Difesa, la Guardia Costiera può operare in missioni militari marittime. In tempo di guerra, quando la necessità è urgente, la Guardia Costiera USA ricade direttamente sotto la giurisdizione del Pentagono come forza militare.

La Guardia Costiera USA sembra essere sempre più utilizzata dalla Marina Militare e disposta ad essere preparata per operazioni nel Golfo Persico e nel Mar Arabico. Anche se questo, di per sé, non appare come un evento straordinario, può diventare significativo e esplicativo, se messo in relazione con altri eventi e movimenti militari che stanno avendo luogo. La Guardia Costiera USA sarebbe di grande valenza nell’eventualità di un conflitto con l’Iran, dato che può “con i suoi mezzi avere accesso a porti impediti ad altre navi da guerra”, e quindi garantire il radicamento di teste di ponte per una forza d’invasione in Iran. Inoltre la Guardia Costiera, a differenza dei corpi della Marina Militare e dei Marines, è anche specializzata in operazioni di ricerca e soccorso; e questo è di grande rilevanza, in quanto gli analisti militari prevedono che, nell’eventualità di un conflitto tra Stati Uniti ed Iran, nel Golfo Persico ci saranno necessariamente navi statunitensi che saranno distrutte o gravemente danneggiate dalle Forze Armate Iraniane. Quindi, la Guardia Costiera USA sarà cruciale nelle operazioni di salvataggio, negli interventi rapidi, nella protezione delle navi della Marina, per attraccare nei porti e nelle coste dove le altre navi da guerra non possono entrare.

“Ciò che noi apportiamo al Gruppo d’Attacco è la capacità di condurre operazioni di intercettazioni e di sicurezza marittima” e “gli strumenti usati per dar la caccia ai criminali e per salvare vite negli Stati Uniti sono preziosi nelle zone di guerra del Golfo Persico”, così ha affermato il comandante della Midgett, Lee Alexander.

Articoli sui media relativi all’attacco pianificato contro l’Iran e la Siria

Sui media internazionali è apparsa una copiosa documentazione molto dettagliata, inclusi rapporti da fonti israeliane, sui piani militari di attacco convenuti contro la Siria, l’Iran e Libano. Infatti, alcuni di questi rapporti mediatici riportano anche pareri di membri della Knesset Israeliana. I media tedeschi ed europei hanno pubblicato vari articoli sul possibile coinvolgimento della NATO e della Turchia nell’attacco aereo pianificato dagli Usa contro l’Iran. Il Times Britannico, nel marzo 2006, riportava:

Comandante della Forza Aerea di Allarme Preventivo e di Controllo della NATO, ha presentato il primo aereo AWAC di sorveglianza e allerta in Israele, ha provocato una ventata di perplessità nel Quartier Generale della NATO a Bruxelles. Non è stata la sua dimostrazione a lasciare tutti perplessi, ma ciò che ha dichiarato sul possibile coinvolgimento della NATO in un qualche possibile futuro attacco Anglo- Americano contro l’Iran. “Saremmo i primi ad essere chiamati, se il Consiglio della NATO lo decidesse” ha detto. La NATO avrebbe preferito rimanere sul “se”, ma i commenti di Tüttelmann hanno rivelato che l’alleanza militare NATO dovrà giocare un ruolo di fiancheggiamento, nell’eventualità di un attacco aereo contro gli obiettivi nucleari Iraniani, installazioni militari, infrastrutture e siti industriali.”

L’ United Press International (UPI) nel dicembre 2005 riferiva che:

L’Amministrazione Bush sta preparando i suoi alleati NATO per un possibile colpo militare nel 2006 contro siti supposti di natura militare in Iran.

Questo anche secondo rapporti dei media in Germania, che ribadivano altre suggestioni simili dei media Turchi. Questa settimana, il quotidiano di Berlino Der Tagesspiegel cita fonti dell’intelligence NATO affermanti che gli alleati NATO sono stati informati che attualmente gli Stati Uniti stanno valutando tutte le possibilità – incluse le opzioni militari- per mettere in riga il regime dei Mullah e il governo Iraniano.
 
Questa linea politica, di “tutte le opzioni sono aperte”, è stata quella pubblicamente conclamata durante gli ultimi 18 mesi dal Presidente George W. Bus.h

Ma l’autorevole settimanale tedesco Der Spiegel sottolinea: “La novità consiste nel fatto che Washington sembra stia inviando ufficiali ad alto livello a preparare i suoi alleati per un possibile attacco, invece di prospettarne soltanto la possibilità, come aveva fatto ripetutamente l’anno scorso”.

L’agenzia di stampa tedesca DDP ha citato “fonti della sicurezza occidentale” per dire che il Direttore CIA Porter Goss ha chiesto al premier Turco Recep Tayyip Erdogan di fornire appoggio politico e logistico agli attacchi aerei su obiettivi militari e nucleari Iraniani. E’ anche stato riferito che Goss, che ha visitato Ankara e incontrato Erdogan il 12 dicembre 2005, ha richiesto una cooperazione speciale dall’intelligence Turca, per aiutare a preparare e seguire le operazioni.
 
L’agenzia DDP cita fonti dell’intelligence Tedesca che hanno dato per certo che i Turchi sono stati assicurati di un avviso anticipato, se e quando l’attacco militare avrà luogo, ed è anche stato dato loro “semaforo verde” per scatenare propri attacchi contro le basi in Iran del PKK (Partito dei Lavoratori Curdo), che i Turchi ritengono una organizzazione separatista, responsabile di attacchi terroristici all’interno della Turchia.

Con ogni probabilità, il via libera dato dagli Stati Uniti alle incursioni militari Turche si estende anche a zone del Kurdistan Iracheno e ad aree abitate da Curdi in Siria.

Il Time Magazine e l’ “ordine di prepararsi a salpare” per l’Eisenhower Strike Group

L’ultimo documento Statunitense offre dettagli sulla preparazione a scendere in guerra contro Iran e Siria. Il settimanale Time conferma che sono stati impartiti gli ordini ad un sommergibile, ad una nave da superficie, a due dragamine e a due caccia per il loro dispiegamento nel Golfo Persico, a partire dall’ottobre 2006. Ci sono davvero pochi luoghi al mondo dove i dragamine sarebbero meno necessari o utili rispetto al Golfo Persico. Inoltre, esistono pochissimi luoghi dove le esercitazioni anti-sommergibili siano meno richieste che nel Golfo Persico.

Prima di attestarsi nel Golfo Persico, l’Expeditionary Strike Group 5 (EST 5) sta compiendo esercitazioni anti-sommergibili nel Pacifico, insieme alla fregata canadese Ottawa e ad unità della Guardia Costiera.

L’articolo del settimanale Time avverte che le operazioni potrebbero causare pesanti incidenti nei confronti degli Stati Uniti:

Il primo messaggio è stato abbastanza di routine, quello di ‘essere pronti a un ordine di dispiegamento’, emanato attraverso canali di comunicazioni navali ad un sottomarino, un incrociatore classe Aegis, due dragamine e due caccia-mine. Attualmente gli ordini impartiti alle navi non sono stati di lasciare il porto, ma solo di essere pronte a muoversi nell’ottobre 2006. Un dispiegamento di dragamine sulla costa est dell’Iran sembrerebbe suggerire che la prospettiva molto discussa- e fino ad ora solo ampiamente teorizzata- è divenuta reale: che gli Stati Uniti sono in una fase di preparazione della guerra contro l’Iran.

Dave Lindorff, giornalista e reporter d’inchiesta, vincitore di un premio Award, ha scritto:

Il Colonnello in pensione Gardiner, che ha insegnato strategia militare al National War College, dice che il dispiegamento di portaerei della Marina Militare USA ed il previsto loro arrivo nel Golfo Persico programmato per il 21 ottobre 2006 è “prova significativa” di una pianificazione di guerra. Inoltre, dichiara di essere a conoscenza che alcune forze navali già hanno ricevuto gli ‘ordini di prepararsi al dispiegamento’ (PTDO), per essere pronte a salpare l’1 ottobre 2006. Dato che queste forze, per arrivare nella regione del Golfo, impiegherebbero circa una ventina di giorni, sembra che la data del loro arrivo potrebbe coincidere con una possibile azione militare contro l’Iran. (Un PTDO significa che tutti gli equipaggi dovrebbero essere alle loro postazioni, e navi ed aerei dovrebbero essere pronti a partire ad una certa data- in questo caso, a quanto riferito, il primo ottobre). Gardiner sottolinea che non è possibile emettere un PTDO e poi restare troppo in attesa, dato che si tratta di un ordine molto significativo, che non viene dato come un’esercitazione di addestrament.”

Questo punto viene sviluppato anche nell’articolo del Time:

(…) “Penso che il piano sia stato definito: bombardare i siti nucleari in Iran”, afferma Gardiner. “È un’idea terribile, è contro la legge degli Stati Uniti e contro quella internazionale, ma penso che abbiano deciso di farlo”. Inoltre, Gardiner ribadisce che, se gli Stati Uniti sono in grado di colpire quei siti con missili da crociera, gli Iraniani hanno molte più opzioni degli Stati Uniti. Infatti, la costa Iraniana, a quanto riferito, risulta armata fino ai denti con missili anti-nave cinesi Silkworm, e forse con armi russe anti-nave ancora più sofisticate, contro le quali la Marina Militare degli Stati Uniti ha difese poco affidabili. Quindi, sembra improbabile che la Marina Militare possa mettere a rischio mezzi ad alto potenziale, come portaerei o incrociatori, in una simile tattica.
 
(…) Per questo, Gardiner mette sul conto che i recenti movimenti navali e gli altri segnali di preparazione militare potrebbero costituire null’altro che un semplice bluff, studiato per mostrare durezza nel mercanteggiamento con l’Iran relativamente al suo programma nucleare.” Comunque, non è stato un bluff dell’Amministrazione Bush la tattica in Medio Oriente!

Il Pentagono ha replicato all’articolo del Time, affermando che il Comando delle Operazioni Navali aveva soltanto chiesto alla Marina Militare di “riprendere in mano i vecchi piani degli Stati Uniti per bloccare due porti petroliferi Iraniani sul Golfo.” Questa risposta è di per se stessa una questione da analisti. Perché gli Stati Uniti dovrebbero fermare il flusso di petrolio dall’Iran, che tutti sanno essere il maggior paese esportatore di greggio, danneggiando così i loro Alleati e il sistema economico mondiale?

La Forza Navale Iraniana e missili anti-nave

La Forza Navale Iraniana è divisa in due sezioni principali. Una è rappresentata dalla Marina Militare all’interno delle Forze Armate Regolari Iraniane e l’altra è la sezione navale della Guardia Rivoluzionaria Iraniana. Entrambe le Forze sono in costante aggiornamento e, nel corso degli anni, hanno migliorato le loro dotazioni. Lo scopo di entrambe le sezioni navali è quello di fungere da freno alla minaccia di invasione o di attacco dagli Stati Uniti.

L’Iran possiede una flotta sottomarina costituita da sommergibili di fabbricazione iraniana e russa; una flotta di hovercraft, una tra le maggiori nel mondo, di ROV (veicoli azionati da lontano); navi da guerra di superficie di diverso tonnellaggio e funzioni; unità navali aerotrasportate che includono diversi squadroni di elicotteri; dragamine ed un grande arsenale di missili anti-nave. La flotta sottomarina Iraniana include anche mini-sommergibili di fabbricazione nazionale.

Nell’ultimo decennio, l’Iran si è già preparato ad affrontare un blocco navale. Per fare un esempio, in occasione delle esercitazioni militari Iraniane dell’agosto 2006, le Forze Iraniane hanno presentato la loro ultima motosilurante Patrol Torpedo PT. Le navi PT sono idonee ad essere usate efficacemente per attaccare navi da guerra più grandi. Questo tipo di navi PT potrebbero rappresentare una minaccia per i Gruppi di Attacco USA schierati nel Golfo Persico e nel Mare Arabico.

L’ammiraglio Kouchaki ha dichiarato alla Fars News Agency:

La Joshan (una delle nuove navi PT iraniane) è dotata delle più recenti tecnologie mondiali, specialmente per quel che riguarda i suoi sistemi militari, elettronici ed elettrici, lo scafo e il telaio; ed ha i requisiti richiesti per lanciare missili potenti. Inoltre, la Joshan, simile alla prima nave PT iraniana, la “Peykan”, può raggiungere una velocità superiore ai 45 nodi marittimi, che la rendono più veloce della stessa generazione di PT di altri paesi. Il vascello può lanciare vari missili e razzi con una gittata superiore ai 100 km [62,14 miglia], ha alta manovrabilità che è idonea a sventare i siluri, e possiede lo scafo più avanzato del mondo, chiamato “Fajr.” Questa nave PT iraniana, con pezzi del calibro da 76 mm., che solamente l’Iran, gli Stati Uniti e l’Italia sono in grado di fabbricare, gode di una ampia varietà di potenzialità militari, in quanto può colpire obiettivi marini o aerei nel raggio di 19 km (o 23 mila piedi).

Nel corso delle suddette esercitazioni belliche, l’Iran ha anche sperimentato una serie di missili anti-nave, “dai sottomarini alle navi di superficie”, che sembrano avere destato qualche preoccupazione, in quanto l’Iran si è dimostrato in grado di interrompere il flusso di petrolio attraverso il Golfo Persico, nel caso di un’aggressione Anglo-americana.
 
Nei suoi ‘war games’ dell’aprile 2006, l’Iran aveva testato un missile anti-nave definito come il “più veloce del mondo”, data la sua velocità fino a 362 km/h. Questo missile anti-nave è progettato per distruggere i grandi sottomarini, e si dice sia “tanto veloce che la maggior parte delle navi non ha la possibilità di sfuggirgli, anche se rilevato dai loro radar”. Ne consegue che per gli Stati Uniti, in combattimento contro le forze militari Iraniane, saranno essenziali i sistemi di avvertimento rapido.
 
Qualora sul Golfo Persico dovessero addensarsi nubi nere di guerra, gli Stati Uniti si vedrebbero costretti a tenere aperto lo Stretto di Hormuz per conservare attivo il flusso del traffico petrolifero internazionale e simultaneamente affrontare un consistente sbarramento di missili iraniani da terra, aria e mare, compresi i micidiali missili anti-nave che l’Iran ha sviluppato con l’aiuto di Russia e Cina.
 
Alcuni analisti hanno avvertito che il Golfo Persico potrebbe venire chiuso ed essere trasformato in un poligono di tiro delle Forze Armate Iraniane. I missili anti-nave iraniani, modificati a partire dai Silkworm e dai Sunburn russi e cinesi, basati su precedenti modelli sovietici, sono accreditati per essere dotati di alta velocità ed essere invisibili ai radar.
 
L’arsenale iraniano include anche missili anti-nave come il C-802 e il Kowsar. I missili anti-nave C-802 provengono dalla China. I missili anti-nave Kowsar, che possono eludere i sistemi di blocco elettronico, sono essenzialmente posizionati a terra, sono quindi missili terra-mare.
 
In questo scenario è impossibile prevedere come la Marina Militare e la Guardia Costiera degli Stati Uniti potranno comportarsi contro i missili anti-nave iraniani, nel contesto di una vera “situazione di combattimento.”

Movimenti delle Marine e degli Eserciti Nato nell’area del Mediterraneo Orientale

Anche nel Mediterraneo Orientale c’è un considerevole movimento militare e un accumulo di forze alleate, formalmente sotto la facciata di un’operazione di peace-keeping, di consolidamento della pace, in seguito alla Risoluzione 1701 del Consiglio di Sicurezza dell’ONU.

L’Italia ha ridislocato in Libano le truppe italiane dall’Iraq, incluse unità di commandos ed unità blindate da ricognizione. Sono state spedite in Libano due unità di marines, una dell’Esercito e l’altra della Marina Militare Italiana. Entrambe sono unità di veterani con diversi turni di servizio nell’Iraq occupato dagli Anglo-Americani. L’Esercito italiano ha spedito i “Lagunari” dell’unità di fanteria di marina, con base a Venezia, il “ Reggimento Serenissima”, mentre la Marina Militare Italiana ha spedito il “Reggimento San Marco.”

Unità e truppe Spagnole sono state schierate vicino a Tiro sul confine con Israele, nel Libano Meridionale. La Spagna, con due navi da guerra lungo la costa del Libano, si presenta come la terza maggiore forza proveniente dall’Unione Europea, dopo Italia e Francia. Inoltre grandi contingenti di truppe spagnole sono di stanza lontani dalla costa del Mediterraneo, intorno a Jdeidet-Marjayoun (Marjayoun), in prossimità del confine con la Siria, delle Fattorie di Sheba e delle Alture del Golan occupate da Israele.

Anche navi da guerra Tedesche si uniranno a quelle di altri stati membri della NATO nel pattugliamento delle coste del Mediterraneo Orientale. Esiste l’eventualità che la Germania prenda il comando delle forze navali da una base in Italia.

Il governo Tedesco ha inviato fregate e navi da perlustrazione per cingere d’assedio il Libano:

La missione navale, primo dispiegamento tedesco in Medio Oriente dalla fine della Seconda Guerra Mondiale, ha avuto il consenso di 442 rappresentanti parlamentari, con 152 contrari e 5 astensioni. Ora verranno schierati nella regione 2.400 addetti navali tedeschi, sulla base del mandato di un anno, con scadenza il 31 agosto 2007. La missione porta a 10.000 il numero di soldati tedeschi, membri delle Forze Armate, schierati all’estero per la prima volta dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale.

La coalizione di governo della Danimarca, formata dal Partito Popolare Conservatore Danese e dal Partito Liberale della Danimarca, è stato uno zelante sostenitore degli obiettivi militari Anglo-Americani. Il governo del Primo Ministro Anders Fogh Ramussen ha fornito truppe danesi sia per l’occupazione Anglo-americana dell’Iraq, sia al contingente NATO in Afghanistan.
 
Anche tre navi da guerra danesi hanno preso il mare verso il Mediterraneo Orientale, per raggiungere la flotta di navi da guerra della NATO che si addensa al largo delle coste libanesi e siriane. La corvetta Peter Tordenskiold e due incrociatori lanciamissili danesi, il Corvo ed il Falco, hanno partecipato alle operazioni militari nel Mediterraneo Orientale, dalla fine dell’assedio al Libano caldeggiato dagli Anglo-Americani.

Per quasi due settimane, all’inizio di settembre 2006, il contingente navale danese ha aspettato l’ordine di salpare da Wilhelmshaven, una base navale tedesca. Il governo Danese ha in progetto anche di spedire più truppe in Afghanistan, che andrebbero ad unirsi ai 2.000 soldati che verranno inviati da Romania e la Polonia, all’inizio di ottobre 2006.

In Libano, la Francia è impegnata in operazioni militari terrestri, mentre navi da guerra italiane e tedesche guidano la missione navale nel Mediterraneo Orientale. 2.000 militari Francesi sono pronti per essere schierati in Libano. Carri armati e unità blindate francesi hanno contribuito a formare “l’armata più potente mai schierata da una forza di peace-keeping nella storia delle Nazioni Unite”.

Fanno parte dell’armata navale nel Mediterraneo Orientale anche navi da guerra della Grecia.
 
Dieci navi da guerra Greche, che comprendono unità di immersione ed elicotteri della Marina Militare, hanno aggiunto la loro presenza alla forza navale NATO al largo del Libano con ordini “di far uso della forza se necessario.”
 
L’impegno navale greco ha raggiunto il costo, riportato dal governo Greco, di circa 150.000 Euro per ogni settimana di operazione. Le navi da guerra saranno alla fonda nel porto meridionale di Larnaca (Larnaca è sul lato meridionale dell’isola di Cipro, di fronte al Libano), fino a che le installazioni navali della capitale libanese, Beirut, saranno ritenute pronte e sicure dai comandanti dell’armata navale.

L’Olanda sta dislocando altre navi, con 150 marinai olandesi dichiarati. Le navi da guerra olandesi sono costituite da una fregata e da una nave appoggio, a supporto logistico per la flotta navale di guarnigione nel Mediterraneo Orientale. Lo spiegamento olandese potrebbe iniziare nell’ottobre 2006 e queste navi continueranno a pattugliare il Mediterraneo fino all’agosto 2007. Ma il Ministro della Difesa ha detto che l’impegno olandese potrebbe essere esteso per ulteriori 12 mesi.

Anche il Belgio sta mandando 400 militari nel Libano del Sud.

Il Ministro della Difesa del Belgio è stato uno degli ufficiali che ha ripetutamente visitato il Libano per preparare le operazioni militari. Altri funzionari dei rispettivi Ministeri della Difesa, accreditati in Libano, erano stati mandati da Italia e Francia.

Le truppe della Turchia non si sono ancora posizionate in Libano e la questione deve affrontare una forte opposizione interna. Comunque, la Turchia, membro della NATO e alleata di Israele, dalla fine di ottobre 2006 invierà truppe in Libano, malgrado le proteste e un’opposizione di massa.
 
Un ex alto ufficiale civile Turco della NATO in Afghanistan, Hikmet Cetin, in un discorso trasmesso per televisione, ha cercato di rassicurare l’opinione pubblica turca, sottolineando che le truppe turche sarebbero inviate in Afghanistan, e non in Libano: “…nell’ultimo mese, (settembre 2006), il numero di soldati Turchi in Afghanistan è più che raddoppiato, da 300 a 700. In un prossimo futuro, Ankara potrà aumentare il numero dei soldati per la sicurezza di Kabul, ma non spedirà soldati a scontrarsi nel Libano Meridionale.”

Un altro membro della NATO, la Bulgaria, con truppe in Afghanistan e, fino al 2005/2006, in Iraq, spedirà in Libano forze navali e di terra.
A sua volta, la Gran Bretagna invierà nel Libano Meridionale un piccolo contingente di truppe.

Agli Emirati Arabi Uniti (UAE), uno sceiccato arabo, è stato assegnato il mandato di individuare i campi minati e i giocattoli esplosivi Israeliani disseminati a sud del fiume Litani, un’importante fonte di acqua libanese, sulla quale Israele ha puntato gli occhi.

L’UAE ha appaltato le sue operazioni di sminamento nel Libano Meidionale ad una ditta di sicurezza privata britannica. Questa impresa, la “ArmorGroup International,” ha ricevuto 5,6 milioni di dollari USA, (2,9 milioni di sterline), per il contratto di un anno di lavoro. L’ArmorGroup sta vendendo anche sicurezza militare agli Stati Uniti in Iraq, nel Golfo Persico, in Afghanistan, compresa la protezione di installazioni della Marina Militare nel Bahrein. Inoltre, questa società di sicurezza britannica sta offrendo protezione a consorzi petroliferi e di carburanti in Arabia Saudita, Giordania, Kuwait, Nigeria e nell’ex Unione Sovietica, in Kazakhstan e nella Repubblica dell’Azarbaijan.
 
Come avviene in Afghanistan e nell’Iraq occupato dagli Anglo-Americani, società private di sicurezza stanno cominciando ad arrivare anche in Libano al seguito della NATO.

La NATO si è mossa “ufficiosamente” in Libano per riempire il vuoto di sicurezza lasciato dalla guerra, come aveva fatto invece “ufficialmente” nel caso dell’Afghanistan. Anche in Libano le truppe NATO potrebbero diventare una forza di occupazione, come nel caso dell’Afghanistan.
 
Nel 2005, la NATO ha firmato un accordo di cooperazione militare con Israele. E forze di terra Israeliane non hanno completamente abbandonato il Libano Meridionale, come sancito dalla decisione di tregua del Consiglio di Sicurezza ONU, e nel frattempo le navi israeliane hanno delegato a imbarcazioni e navi da guerra della NATO la responsabilità di un rafforzamento dell’illegittimo embargo navale al Libano. Questo embargo illegale, che ha ricevuto l’approvazione dell’ONU, viene imposto ufficialmente come “monitoraggio” della linea costiera libanese, per impedire l’ingresso di forniture militari e di armi in Libano. La domanda cruciale è se questo embargo navale e la militarizzazione del Mediterraneo Orientale non siano invece parte della preparazione per future operazioni militari dirette contro la Siria.
 
Questi tipi di embargo navale richiamano alla mente l’illegittima, a livello internazionale, “No-Fly Zone” stabilita sull’Iraq da Stati Uniti, Gran Bretagna e Francia, che tanto ha contribuito a debilitare l’Iraq per anni, prima dell’invasione Anglo-americana del 2003.

Russia e Cina mandano truppe in Libano: una mossa strategica simmetrica

Anche la Federazione Russa e la Repubblica Popolare Cinese hanno schierato truppe in Libano. Per… “peace-keeping”, o per altri obiettivi di natura strategica?

Il Ministro della Difesa Russo ha dichiarato che, all’inizio di ottobre 2006, anche un battaglione russo del Genio Militare verrà aerotrasportato dall’Aviazione russa in Libano, per prestare la propria opera in quelli che sono stati i campi di battaglia Libanesi. Si è avuto formalmente bisogno di “un accordo con il governo Libanese sullo status dei genieri del battaglione impiegati nei terreni del conflitto.”
 
Le truppe russe saranno schierate presso la città di Sidone, nel Libano Meridionale, lungo il litorale del Mediterraneo. Mentre assistiamo a questo ingresso di truppe russe in Libano, permane una contemporanea presenza navale russa lungo le coste della Siria. (si veda su Global Research, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: “Basi russe in Siria, una mossa strategica simmetrica, luglio 2006”)

Diversamente da quelle Russe, le truppe Cinesi erano presenti in Libano prima degli attacchi Israeliani, appoggiati dagli Anglo-Americani. La presenza cinese in Libano consisteva in una piccola forza di peace-keeping, sotto l’egida delle Nazioni Unite; circa 200 genieri militari cinesi erano già impegnati nel Libano Meridionale per conto dell’ONU a far brillare le mine e i colpi d’artiglieria inesplosi. La piccola forza ONU ha visto la morte di uno dei suoi membri cinesi, causata dagli attacchi israeliani durante l’assedio del Libano indotto dagli Anglo-Americani. Approssimativamente, in seguito andranno ad aggiungersi a questo gruppo altri 1.000 uomini, a rafforzare la presenza militare cinese in Libano.

Forze russe e cinesi saranno anche dislocate nelle strette vicinanze del Porto di Ceyhan, per assicurare l’apertura delle rotte petrolifere nel Mediterraneo Orientale: si tratta di un intervento simmetrico, se consideriamo che la presenza militare USA e il sostegno a Taiwan assicurato dagli Stati Uniti sono un mezzo per il controllo strategico delle rotte del petrolio dal Medio Oriente verso la Cina e il Giappone.

La Russia e la Cina, i due principali membri della Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), sono membri permanenti del Consiglio di Sicurezza ONU, che decisamente si oppongono alle iniziative Anglo-americane in Medio Oriente, nella Penisola Coreana e in Sudan.
 
Per di più, la Russia e la Cina, congiuntamente all’Iran, stanno sfidando gli interessi petroliferi Anglo-americani in Asia Centrale e nel Mar Caspio.

Israele è una proiezione dell’ Alleanza Anglo-americana e della NATO, attraverso un patto militare con la Turchia ed il “Dialogo NATO-Mediterraneo”, che comprende l’Iniziativa di Cooperazione di Istanbul, del 29 giugno 2004.
 
Di fronte al blocco e allo schieramento di truppe degli stati membri della NATO, la Russia e la Cina potrebbero inviare le loro truppe nel Libano con una mossa intenzionalmente simmetrica, per stabilire un equilibrio militare nel decisivo “bilanciamento di potere” nello scacchiere Asiatico e nel Mediterraneo Orientale.

La Guerra in Libano e la competizione per il petrolio: il terminale petrolifero Baku-Tbilisi-Cehyan

C’è un’innegabile competizione internazionale per le risorse energetiche nel mondo.
Il terminale petrolifero Baku-Tbilisi-Cehyan (BTC, anche chiamato terminale del petrolio del Caspio-Mediterraneo) ha uno sbocco sulla costa turca del Mediterraneo Orientale, in prossimità della Siria e del Libano. L’apertura di questo oleodotto costituisce un’importante vittoria geo-strategica per l’Alleanza Anglo-americana, per Israele, per le grandi società per azioni petrolifere e i loro partners, e d’altro canto, un arretramento geo-strategico per la Russia, la Cina e l’Iran. Con l’apertura di questo strategico terminale, risulta evidente che la sovranità del Libano è soggetta ad ulteriori limitazioni.

Le occupazioni dell’Afghanistan (2001) e dell’Iraq (2003) hanno avuto un seguito attraverso la militarizzazione del Mediterraneo Orientale. L’assedio Israeliano del Libano nel luglio 2006 è intimamente collegato all’apertura del terminale petrolifero Baku-Tbilisi-Cehyan, allo schieramento di navi militari nel Mare del Golfo Arabico e Persico e ai venti di guerra contro Iran e Siria.
 
Anche la Siria sta facendo passi per rafforzare il proprio assetto militare. La Russia sta aiutando la Siria a promuovere e costruire i suoi sistemi di difesa aerea. Inoltre, la Difesa Siriana ha inoltrato numerosi ordini di aerei militari e di missili di fabbricazione russa ed iraniana. Pure la Bielorussia e la Cina stanno aiutando l’esercito Siriano.

Il professor Michel Chossudovsky ha fornito dettagli sulla guerra Israeliana in Libano, la militarizzazione del Mediterraneo Orientale e la rivalità internazionale per le risorse energetiche:

c’è una relazione tra il bombardamento del Libano e l’inaugurazione del più grande oleodotto strategico del mondo, che erogherà ai mercati occidentali più di un milione di barili di petrolio al giorno?
 
Effettivamente, è passata inosservata l’inaugurazione dell’oleodotto Ceyhan-Tbilisi-Baku (BTC), che collega il Mar Caspio al Mediterraneo Orientale, avvenuta il 13 luglio 2006, nel momento in cui si scatenavano i bombardamenti sul Libano, commissionati agli Israeliani.
 
(…)Il bombardamento del Libano è parte di una road-map militare attentamente progettata e coordinata. L’estensione della guerra alla Siria e all’Iran è già stata contemplata dai pianificatori militari Statunitensi e Israeliani. L’allargamento di questa agenda militare è intimamente collegato al petrolio e agli oleodotti strategici. È sostenuto dai giganti petroliferi Occidentali, che controllano i corridoi degli oleodotti. Nel contesto della guerra in Libano, vi è il tentativo da parte di Israele di controllare territorialmente tutta la linea costiera del Mediterraneo Orientale.

La Siria ed il Libano devono essere sottomessi, se gli Stati Uniti ed i loro Alleati vogliono assicurarsi la linea costiera del Mediterraneo Orientale in modo da espandere il terminale petrolifero da Ceyhan (Turchia), ad Israele, e così tagliare fuori Russia e Cina dall’approvvigionarsi di risorse energetiche internazionali, e in conclusione imporre un monopolio sulle risorse energetiche mondiali.”

Il Mediterraneo Orientale, un “secondo fronte” sorvegliato dalla NATO?

In Libano e nelle acque del Mediterraneo Orientale si è verificato un significativo addensamento di forze militari, comprese forze navali, costituito da eserciti e marine di molti paesi della NATO, tra cui Italia, Spagna, Francia, Turchia, Germania e Paesi Bassi.

L’operazione NATO “Active Endeavor (Sforzo Attivo)”, perfezionata dopo l’11 settembre, è pienamente integrata alla“Guerra al Terrorismo” scatenata dagli Stati Uniti; l’operazione è sotto il controllo del Comando delle Forze Navali Alleate NATO dell’Europa Meridionale, con base a Napoli. In questo contesto, il compito delle navi da guerra della forza NATO, è quello di sorvegliare il Mediterraneo Orientale, fin dal lontano 2001, diversi anni prima dell’assedio aereo Israeliano del Libano del 2006. Fin dal 2001, il compito delle navi da guerra della NATO è stato quello di “addestrarsi e prepararsi per un’Operazione prolungata nel Mediterraneo Orientale.”
 
Secondo una fonte Israeliana, la presenza militare NATO nel Mediterraneo Orientale è parte della guerra progettata contro la Siria e l’Iran:

Questa aspettativa di guerra da scatenarsi contro l’Iran e la Siria ha messo insieme la più grande armata Europea di mare e di aria, mai concentrata in alcun punto della terra dalla Seconda Guerra Mondiale: due portaerei con 75 cacciabombardieri, aerei spia ed elicotteri sui loro ponti; 15 navi da guerra di vari tipi, 7 francesi, 5 italiane, 2-3 greche, 3-5 tedesche, e 5 americane; migliaia di marines, Francesi, Italiani e Tedeschi, così come 1.800 marines Americani.

È ritenuto improbabile che gli attesi 7.000 soldati Europei di appoggio vengano schierati in Libano come forza di interposizione, per impedire alla forza israeliana, ridotta a meno di 4-5.000 soldati, e ai 15-16.000 militanti Hezbollah, di venire allo scontro, così come per compiti di assistenza ed umanitari.
 
(…) Quindi, se non è per il Libano, per quale reale motivo è schierata là questa eccellente forza navale? In primo luogo, secondo le nostre fonti militari in Israele, i partecipanti Europei sentono la necessità di una forte presenza navale nel Mediterraneo Orientale, onde prevenire una possibile guerra Iraniano-Statunitense-Israeliana, che potrebbe venire innescata da un attacco missilistico Iraniano, ad esempio con missili Shahab a lungo raggio contro basi europee orientali USA-NATO insediate contro l’Iran; in secondo luogo, come un freno per dissuadere la Siria ed Hezbollah dall’aprire un secondo fronte contro gli Stati Uniti ed Israele, a partire dalle loro coste del Mediterraneo Orientale.

Nel caso di una guerra contro la Siria e l’Iran, le forze NATO nel Mediterraneo Orientale avrebbero senza dubbio un ruolo decisivo. Il Mediterraneo Orientale potrebbe diventare uno dei vari fronti che potrebbero vedere coinvolti Iraq, Turchia, Pakistan, Afghanistan e tutto il Golfo Persico.

L’ “Allargamento” della NATO ed il Caucaso

La NATO si è mossa in Libano proprio come ha fatto in Afghanistan. Sotto un mandato formale di peace-keeping, la NATO è divenuta ‘de facto’ una forza di occupazione, parte dell’agenda Anglo-americana. Ci sono tanti fattori che rivelano questo ruolo equivalente della NATO.

Il primo fattore è la militarizzazione della Georgia e della Repubblica dell’Azerbaijan, due ex repubbliche dell’Unione Sovietica che sono fermamente allineate con la NATO.
La Georgia occupa una posizione strategica, costituisce un cuneo tra Russia, Armenia e Iran, rispetto al controllo e alla protezione dei corridoi degli oleodotti che si proiettano all’esterno del bacino del Mar Caspio.

L’Azerbaijan serve principalmente come fonte di petrolio nel Mar Caspio, è nel suo territorio che nasce la conduttura dell’oleodotto Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan.

La Georgia è aiutata militarmente per contrastare Russia, Iran ed il loro alleato Armenia. Un triangolo strategico è formato dall’Afghanistan a est, il Caucaso a nord e i territori del Medio Oriente a ovest, con l’Iraq e l’Iran proprio al centro. La Georgia è essenziale per guadagnare il controllo di quest’area. La regione del Caucaso costituisce un fronte interconnesso col Medio Oriente e l’Asia Centrale, che diverrà più attivo col procedere della road-map militare Anglo-americana.
 
Sembra che le tensioni sorte tra la Russia e la Georgia facciano parte di questo processo. I sommovimenti popolari e i conflitti nel Caucaso sono strettamente correlati con la competizione per assicurarsi le risorse energetiche del Medio Oriente e dell’Asia Centrale.

I Balcani, il cuore dell’Asia Centrale e il Sudan costituiscono un altro triangolo strategico della road-map militare Anglo-americana.
Sicuramente, la riconfigurazione della Jugoslavia e l’ingresso di stati come Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro e Macedonia nella sfera della NATO sono passi essenziali nella road-map Anglo-americana.

La Russia ha ricevuto uno schiaffo dal governo della Georgia, che ha fornito asilo ai ribelli Ceceni e che collabora con gli Stati Uniti per minare l’influenza russa nel Caucaso. La Russia ha tentato di contrastare l’influenza Georgiana ed Anglo-americana nel Caucaso, sostenendo l’Abkhazia del Sud e i movimenti di indipendenza dell’Ossezia. È sorto un problema per la delimitazione del confine tra la Georgia e la Russia, dando luogo ad una situazione non facile, che tuttavia sembra stia evolvendo ragionevolmente.
 
Il settembre 2006 ha visto le relazioni sull’orlo del collasso. Le truppe russe sono uscite dalle loro basi in Georgia, mentre stanno sorgendo tensioni tra Russi da un lato e Georgiani e NATO dall’altro. Il governo Georgiano ha accusato i militari russi di spiare in Georgia e la Federazione russa di tentare di rovesciare il governo Georgiano per insediare al suo posto un governo anti-NATO e filo-Russo. Per di più, forze combattenti degli Osseti meridionali hanno abbattuto un elicottero con a bordo il Ministro della Difesa Georgiano e il giorno seguente le autorità Georgiane hanno proclamato di aver sventato un tentativo di “colpo di stato” appoggiato dalla Russia, fatto assolutamente negato dal governo Russo.

C’è anche un impressionante parallelo tra le operazioni di “peacekeeping” in Georgia ed in Libano. Entrambe sono operazioni fittizie, con un programma segreto: in Georgia sono le truppe russe ad essere schierate come “peacekeepers”, mentre il peacekeeping del Libano è “ufficiosamente” delegato alla NATO. Ha detto il Ministro degli Esteri georgiano: “Se continuiamo a governare la situazione in Georgia con i personaggi esistenti e col potere dominante della Russia… finiremo in guerra”. Ha chiesto il ritiro delle truppe russe stanziate in Georgia ed ha accusato Mosca di cercare di destabilizzare il governo Georgiano.

Il secondo fattore è la politica di rapida espansione della NATO

La NATO si sta espandendo verso est. Ora sta cercando accesso in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ucraina e in diversi altri paesi.
Il Ministro degli Esteri Russo ha detto al Segretario generale della NATO che “la riconfigurazione delle forze militari NATO in Europa, così come sta avvenendo, per noi è causa di preoccupazione, così come ci preoccupa la volontà degli USA di schierare nell’Europa Orientale nuovi elementi per le basi lanciamissili”.

A questo riguardo, l’Associated Press sottolinea le crescenti tensioni tra la Federazione russa e la NATO per quanto riguarda l’adesione della Georgia alla NATO:

Mosca ha denunciato la mossa di coinvolgere sempre più la Georgia nei piani della NATO come un residuato della Guerra Fredda, per nuocere agli interessi russi e per destabilizzare ulteriormente la regione del Caucaso.
 
Il Ministro della Difesa russo Sergei Ivanov ha minacciato di spedire due divisioni di truppe russe al confine con la Georgia a garanzia che “non venga lesa la sicurezza della Russia, se la Georgia dovesse fare il suo ingresso nella NATO.”

Le relazioni tese tra Russia e Georgia sono peggiorate ulteriormente. Mosca ha richiamato il suo ambasciatore, annunciato il ritiro dei suoi diplomatici e si è lamentata alle Nazioni Unite per la detenzione da parte della Georgia di cinque ufficiali russi con l’accusa di spionaggio. Ivanov ha definito la Georgia uno “stato di banditi.” Per tutta risposta, Shota Khizanishvili, portavoce per il Ministro dell’Interno della Georgia, ha ribadito che la Georgia ha incriminato per spionaggio quattro degli ufficiali russi e si riserva di metterli sotto processo.(Un quinto ufficiale è stato rilasciato nel settembre 2006)

Formazione di un’Alleanza Militare Eurasiatica?

Dall’agosto 2006, Russia, Cina, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, e Kyrgyztan stanno tenendo congiuntamente manovre militari ed esercitazioni anti-terrorismo. Queste operazioni sono condotte sotto l’egida della SCO e dell’Organizzazione del Trattato per la Sicurezza Collettiva (CSTO) (con l’impegno della Comunità degli Stati Indipendenti, CSI).
[N.d.tr.: la Shangai Cooperation Organization (SCO) è un' organizzazione intergovernativa fondata il 14 giugno 2001 dai capi di stato di Kazakistan, Kirghizistan, Tagikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia e Cina.
 
Questi paesi, con l' eccezione dell' Uzbekistan, avevano fatto parte originariamente del cosiddetto Shanghai Five (Il Gruppo dei Cinque), ma dopo l' adesione dell' Uzbekistan, nel 2001, i membri dell' organizzazione decisero di trasformarne il nome in quello attuale. In Italia il gruppo è stato sempre comunque conosciuto con il nome di Gruppo di Shangai].

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                          SCO                                                                       CSTO

[Per CSTO si intende la Collective Security Treaty Organization, a cui aderiscono Armenia, Bielorussia, Kazakistan, Kirghizistan, Russia, Tagikistan e Uzbekistan].

[CSI: Comunità degli Stati Indipendenti. Nel 1991 i capi di governo di Bielorussia, Ucraina e Russiasi riunirono nei dintorni di Brest, Bielorussia e siglarono un accordo per la fondazione della CSI. Il 21 dicembre 1991, undici stati dell'ex Unione Sovietica (con esclusione di Lituania, Lettonia, Estonia e Georgia) firmarono il Trattato di Alma Ata in Kazakhstan, che ratificava de facto l'iniziale accordo a tre. Nel 1993 fu avviata anche un'unione economica, che però rimase allo stadio di progetto, anche per l'opposizione di diversi stati dell'Asia centrale, timorosi di conservare legami troppo stretti con la Russia. La sede della CSI è a Minsk, in Bielorussia]

Queste esercitazioni sono state condotte nello stesso periodo in cui anche l’Iran era impegnato in importanti manovre militari.

- Esercitazioni militari congiunte Russia e Bielorussia,17-25 giugno 2006.

- Operazioni e manovre militari USA si sono svolte nei Balcani, in concertazione con Bulgaria e Romania, (luglio-agosto, 2006)

- I “giochi di guerra” Iraniani hanno avuto inizio il 19 agosto 2006

- Esercitazioni dell’Organizzazione del Trattato della Sicurezza Collettiva (CSTO) con manovre anti-terrorismo a cui hanno partecipato Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan e Tajikistan si sono tenute a fine agosto 2006

- Esercitazioni anti-terrorismo congiunte anche di Cina e Kazakhstan iniziano il 23/24 agosto 2006

- Esercitazioni anti-terrorismo congiunte di Russia, Uzbekistan e Kazakhstan il 19-23 settembre 2006

- Prima esercitazione militare congiunta Cina e Tajikistan (22-23 settembre 2006)

- CIS e Organizzazione del Trattato per la Sicurezza Collettiva (CSTO) si impegnano in Armenia in manovre anti-terrorismo (26-28 settembre 2006)

Per lo SCO, l’istituzione di un “Alleanza Militare Eurasiatica” è stata il risultato tangibile della conferenza tenuta a Dushanbe, in Tajikistan, il 15 settembre 2006.
 
Ma questo obiettivo non potrà essere conseguito pienamente se l’Iran non diventa membro dello SCO.

L’agenzia di stampa IRNA ha sottolineato le affermazioni del Primo Ministro Uzbeko, Rustam Azimov: “I progetti economici per cui sono stati raggiunti accordi alla Conferenza Internazionale di Shanghai [SCO], non possono essere attuati senza la cooperazione dell’Iran, in quanto paese regionalmente significativo.”
 
Anche la Mongolia è pronta a diventare un membro effettivo della SCO (attualmente Mongolia, Iran, India e Pakistan sono tutti membri osservatori della SCO).

L’Armenia, membro dell’Organizzazione del Trattato della Sicurezza Collettiva (CSTO) e del CIS, e la Serbia, un alleato storico della Russia, sono candidati potenziali per la SCO. Inoltre, l’Armenia ha espresso chiaramente di non avere alcuna intenzione di unirsi all’Unione Europea o alla NATO. Anche la Bielorussia si è dichiarata interessata ad aderire alla SCO, come Stato membro a pieno diritto.

Il 26 settembre 2006, l’allargamento della SCO e l’inclusione dell’Iran come membro effettivo a questa Organizzazione sono stati affrontati dalla Commissione di Helsinki, (Commissione sulla Sicurezza e la Cooperazione in Europa), durante un’indagine sul rapporto fra SCO e obiettivi Anglo-americani e sull’influenza degli Stati Uniti nell’Asia Centrale.
 
L’espansione della SCO è stata considerata improbabile, perché la “missione economica della SCO sembra mal definita”; ed è anche stato considerato improbabile che questa Organizzazione possa accogliere nuovi membri con le potenzialità di competere con Russia e Cina per il controllo dell’Asia Centrale. Durante il consesso della Commissione di Helsinki è stato anche considerato che “i membri della SCO sono tenuti insieme da un collante di sicurezza condiviso, in un quadro di rischio percepito condiviso.”

L’importanza di “sicurezza e rischio percepiti in condivisione” diventa essenziale per la crescente minaccia di intrusione Anglo-Americana nelle Repubbliche ex Sovietiche dell’Asia Centrale.
 
Le manovre militari tenutisi nell’ex Unione Sovietica ed in Asia Centrale, guidate da Russia e Cina, sono state condotte in uno spirito di lotta a “terrorismo, estremismo e separatismo.” Terrorismo, estremismo e separatismo sono dimensioni critiche della cooperazione per ogni stato membro. Quale è l’agenda occulta? Queste esercitazioni sono riferite in qualche modo ai movimenti di guerra degli Stati Uniti?
 
Il terrorismo, l’estremismo e il separatismo, che comprendono sabotaggi ed attacchi terroristici da parte di Forze Speciali, sono innescati ed alimentati da operazioni sotto copertura dell’intelligence Anglo-americana. Fomentare la tensione etnica, ideologica e settaria e scatenare i movimenti separatisti è per tradizione un tipico marchio della strategia Anglo-americana in Medio Oriente, così come nei Balcani, in India, nel Sud-Est asiatico, nell’ex Unione Sovietica ed in Africa.
 
Quanto a manipolazione e a creazione di estremismo, l’Afghanistan è una testimonianza di questa strategia. L’Afghanistan è il teatro in cui gli Stati Uniti e il Servizio Segreto Pachistano ISI hanno appoggiato la formazione dei Talebani, per combattere contro l’Unione Sovietica.
 
Gli Stati Uniti, il Pakistan e l’Arabia Saudita hanno collaborato anche nel sostenere i movimenti estremistici nell’ex Unione Sovietica. Questa è una delle ragioni per cui il governo Iraniano è rimasto in disparte nell’offrire aiuto o dare credito a movimenti ideologici di natura religiosa fondamentalmente separatisti nel Caucaso e nell’ex Unione Sovietica, come quello in Cecenia.

Nel Kurdistan, germi di “balcanizzazione” e “finlandizzazione”?

Sia gli Stati Uniti che Israele stanno addestrando clandestinamente diversi gruppi Curdi nell’Iraq Settentrionale. L’Iran e la Siria hanno accusato Israele di insediare una propria presenza militare nel Kurdistan iracheno. Israele ha anche addestrato forze speciali Anglo-americane per missioni di omicidi mirati e per la formazione di squadre di killer “cacciatori” in Iraq.

Magdi Abdelhadi, un analista delle questioni del mondo arabo e del Medio Oriente, ha scritto:

Sin da quando gli Stati Uniti si sono messi alla testa dell’invasione dell’Iraq del 2003, i giornalisti arabi hanno riferito il fatto che gli Israeliani operano nella regione autonoma del Kurdistan, nell’Iraq Settentrionale. E hanno considerato questo come prova che la questione Saddam Hussein costituiva solamente il primo capitolo di una cospirazione fra USA ed Israele ben più ampia, intesa ad eliminare gli ostacoli ai loro interessi strategici e per ridisegnare la mappa del Medio Oriente, una road-map militarista. Si ritiene che la Siria e l’Iran, che hanno confini comuni con aree curde, siano gli obiettivi principali.

E’ in atto il tentativo di fomentare intenzionalmente o innescare conflitti civili e divisioni all’interno dei paesi del Medio Oriente. Gli obiettivi fondamentali sono una “balcanizzazione” (divisione) e una “finlandizzazione” (…pacificazione sotto il controllo degli USA e dei loro alleati) del Medio Oriente.

Il Kurdistan è il cuore geografico del Medio Oriente contemporaneo ed il nodo gordiano che tiene assieme tutto un mosaico di stati e popoli. Il Kurdistan è anche un ponte strategico che connette la Siria ed il Mediterraneo Orientale con l’Iran. La gente curda è stata continuamente manipolata e ingannata dagli Stati Uniti. La manipolazione intenzionale della gente curda da parte degli Stati Uniti e di Israele potrebbe portare ad un serio e caotico ribaltamento della stabilità del Kurdistan e dell’unità nazionale di Siria, Turchia, Iran, Iraq attraverso conflitti armati sui confini di questi paesi.

Inoltre, dalla “balcanizzazione dell’Iraq” si potrebbe innescare un movimento a effetto domino, che potrebbe avere un impatto sull’intero Medio Oriente e in altre aree.
 
Gli Stati Uniti hanno creato le condizioni per la divisione sociale all’interno dell’Iraq. Dividere la società irachena significa indebolire il movimento di resistenza all’occupazione militare Anglo-americana. La creazione di settarismo e divisioni etniche nella società irachena è direttamente prevista dai piani di guerra degli Stati Uniti che riguardano l’Iran e la Siria. La premessa è che gli Iracheni sarebbero così troppo occupati a combattersi l’un l’altro da non essere in grado di fornire un appoggio significativo a Siria ed Iran.

La “balcanizzazione dell’Iraq” è anche coerente con gli obiettivi Anglo-americani per il “Corridoio Eurasiatico” ed il “Yinon Plan” per il Grande Medio Oriente.

[N.d.tr.: Il Piano Sionista per il Medio Oriente di Israel Shahak si basa su “Una Strategia per Israele negli anni Ottanta”, un saggio di Oded Yinon originariamente apparso in ebraico in KIVUNIM (Direzioni), Un Giornale per il Giudaismo e il Sionismo; numero 14 – Inverno, 5742, Febbraio 1982, Direttore: Yoram Beck. Comitato Editoriale: Eli Eyal, Yoram Beck, Amnon Hadari, Yohanan Manor, Elieser Schweid. Pubblicato dal Dipartimento della Pubblicità/Organizzazione Mondiale Sionista, Gerusalemme.]

Questi due obiettivi coincidono, e si basano su una alleanza sinergica fra Stati Uniti, Gran Bretagna e Israele. Questi obiettivi contano su un rovesciamento di regime a partire dall’interno dello stato preso a bersaglio mediante la fomentazione di conflitti etnici e settari. Questa strategia è valida anche contro la Russia, la Cina e l’Asia Centrale.

L’obiettivo finale è la creazione nel Medio Oriente e nelle aree dell’ex Unione Sovietica di un nuovo insieme di mini-stati, come il Kuwait o il Bahrein, o di protettorati Anglo-americani, che possano essere facilmente controllati da Stati Uniti, Gran Bretagna ed Israele.

In un’intervista con Der Spiegel, il Presidente Siriano ha detto che il Medio Oriente sta camminando con passo malfermo sull’orlo del caos e del conflitto. Quando è stato richiesto di esprimersi sulla spartizione o “balcanizzazione” dell’Iraq attualmente occupato dagli Anglo-Americani, il Presidente Siriano ha soggiunto:

Sarebbe dannoso, non solo per l’Iraq, ma per l’intera regione che si estende dalla Siria al Golfo Persico e all’Asia Centrale. Come strappare una collana e far cadere a terra le perle una ad una. Quasi tutti questi paesi hanno linee di confine naturali, e se in un paese si verifica una divisione etnica o religiosa, accadrà presto anche altrove. Accadrà come per la fine dell’Unione Sovietica, solo in peggio. Guerre di notevoli dimensioni, conflitti minori, nessuno sarà in grado di prevederne le conseguenze ed assumere il controllo delle situazioni.

Il problema può diventare ancora più complesso.

Una guerra con la Siria potrebbe divampare e innescare altri conflitti in Palestina, Giordania e in Libano, fino a toccare anche la Turchia, Cipro e l’intero mondo arabo.
 
Una guerra contro l’Iran, o una balcanizzazione che veda coinvolto l’Iran, contribuirebbe a destabilizzare anche Caucaso, Turchia e Asia Centrale, poiché tutti hanno legami etnici e culturali con l’Iran. Questo vale anche a settentrione, per l’Ossezia-Alania, la Cecenia, il Dagestan e l’Ingushezia, che fa parte del Distretto Federale Meridionale della Federazione Russa.

Per di più, una guerra contro l’Iran potrebbe riverberarsi su un Caucaso etnicamente diviso, con serie ed imprevedibili conseguenze per la Russia.
 
Il Caucaso è strettamente connesso con l’Iran. Potrebbero riaccendersi i conflitti tra l’Armenia e la Repubblica Azera nella regione del Nagorno-Karabakh, i conflitti interni alla Georgia, in Ossezia Meridionale e nell’Abkhazia, e scontri in Cecenia e Dagestan. Questi conflitti non solo minaccerebbero la sicurezza nazionale della Russia, ma andrebbero anche a colpire le Organizzazioni SCO e CSTO che integrano tra loro la Cina, la Russia e molte repubbliche ex Sovietiche.

 

Collegando le caselle, tutti i pezzi vanno a posto?

C’è una evidente concentrazione di forze militari terrestri, aeree, navali, di armamenti convenzionali e nucleari, nelle zone strategiche del Medio Oriente e dell’Asia Centrale. A questo, si aggiunga la mobilitazione di truppe britanniche sul confine iraniano e la dilatazione dei turni di servizio militare degli Anglo-Americani nell’Iraq occupato e nelle guarnigioni NATO in Afghanistan.

Per i 4.000 soldati dell’unità della 1° Brigata della 1° Divisione Blindata, che opera nella provincia irachena dell’Al-Anbar, confinante con la Siria, è stato prolungato il periodo di servizio, e non è il primo gruppo di soldati Americani o Britannici a subire questo in Iraq o in Afghanistan. Per la Brigata, come per altre unità militari, era stato programmato un avvicendamento dopo un massimo di 12 mesi di operazioni, ma il turno è stato ripetutamente protratto. Questo è avvenuto anche ripetutamente per la 172° Striker Brigade, con più di 3.500 uomini, un’unità dell’Esercito USA con base in Alaska.

Anche molte delle dittature arabe intendono sostenere segretamente l’alleanza Anglo-americana; saranno spettatori passivi di come verranno colpiti la Siria, l’Iran e il Libano, e di come verranno ulteriormente devastati dalla guerra la Palestina, l’Iraq e l’Afghanistan. Il governi filo USA dell’Arabia Saudita, gli Sceiccati Arabi, l’Egitto e la Giordania appoggiano la “roadmap militare” Statunitense, nonostante il fatto che i loro popoli siano fermamente contrari alle guerre condotte dagli Stati Uniti.
 
Le speranze di un stato Palestinese sono state abbandonate anche dai leader Arabi. Costoro hanno continuato tacitamente ad accettare l’oppressione del popolo Palestinese, così come l’invasione e il bombardamento israeliano del Libano, bombardamento che in Libano viene contraddistinto come una “cospirazione araba contro il Libano”. Ci sono stati riferimenti sui media che l’Arabia Saudita ed Israele stanno addirittura conducendo trattative segrete rispetto alla questione Iraniana e rispetto al panorama più vasto del Medio Oriente.

La Romania e la Bulgaria, ormai partners di rilievo dell’Alleanza Occidentale, costituiscono importanti punti di riferimento per le operazioni militari Anglo-americane in Eurasia, manovre che si estendono dai Balcani al Medio Oriente e all’Asia Centrale.

Secondo un articolo del 30 luglio 2003 sul New York Times, “L’ossessione orientale del Pentagono”, di Lawrence Korb:

Il Pentagono è assolutamente interessato alla Romania. E alla Polonia. Ed anche alla Bulgaria. Il Ministero della Difesa sta considerando di chiudere quasi tutte le basi USA dislocate nell’Europa Occidentale, specialmente quelle in Germania, per spostare le sue truppe in nuove località strategiche dell’ex blocco sovietico. Nemmeno la prima Divisione Blindata, ora impegnata in Iraq, ritornerà nelle basi Tedesche. Il Gen. James Jones, Comandante in capo delle Forze Statunitensi sullo scacchiere Europeo, ha detto che è probabile che venga chiusa in Germania ogni installazione dell’Esercito e dell’Aeronautica Militare USA, a parte la base dell’Aeronautica Militare di Ramstein. In questo quadro, così si potrebbe intendere il trasferimento di cinque brigate dell’Esercito, costituite da 25.000 uomini, nell’Europa Orientale, in Bulgaria e in Romania.

In uno sguardo retrospettivo, la decisione del Pentagono di muoversi verso est veniva anticipata con coerenza strategica da uno spostamento verso est di operazioni militari Anglo-americane. La situazione nell’ex Jugoslavia e nei Balcani veniva portata a conclusione nella seconda metà degli anni Novanta. Con l’inizio del 2001, arrivava il momento di spingere ulteriormente verso est manovre di tipo bellico.

Anche la NATO è in stretto collegamento con Washington, Londra e Tel Aviv. Gli interessi Anglo-americani e Israeliani sono tutelati dalla NATO. La NATO, formalmente o informalmente, sta usando truppe per dare assistenza alla “fase di occupazione” relative alle operazioni Anglo-americane, dopo i “blitz” o le “fasi militari iniziali” degli Alleati. La NATO e i suoi stati membri stanno comportandosi come forze di occupazione in Afghanistan e in Iraq, e ora stanno passando anche all’occupazione del Libano.
 
Il Segretario Generale della NATO ha previsto che la missione della NATO in Afghanistan si espanderà e si intensificherà.

Alcuni portavoce della NATO in Afghanistan hanno riferito che, dal febbraio 2007, il Generale dell’Esercito Americano McNeil assumerà il comando sia delle forze della NATO in Afghanistan, la International Sicurity Assistance Force (ISAF), sia delle truppe americane in Afghanistan. Questo significa che le truppe Americane e quelle della NATO, che fino a questo momento in Afghanistan hanno avuto strutture di comando separate, ora saranno riunite sotto un’unica struttura di comando. I media hanno enfatizzato il fatto che le truppe USA sarebbero sotto il comando della NATO; ma quello che costituisce realmente un pericolo sta nel fatto che ora sia un Generale degli Stati Uniti ad avere il comando delle forze NATO.
 
In breve, dall’ottobre 2006, quasi 12.000 uomini, prevalentemente Statunitensi, in Afghanistan verranno integrati nella NATO. Attualmente, il vertice del comando NATO in Afghanistan è di competenza del Generale britannico David Richards. Nel caso di un conflitto con l’Iran, la NATO insediata in Afghanistan verrebbe impegnata nell’aggressione contro l’Iran. E parimenti, le truppe NATO di stanza in Libano attaccherebbero la Siria.

La ‘Pakistan Connection’

Ci sono anche segnali che la NATO e gli Stati Uniti siano in attesa del crollo del Generale Musharraf e del Governo Pakistano, tenendo comunque la situazione sotto controllo, a causa dei rivolgimenti che squasserebbero il Pakistan, dopo gli attacchi contro Iran e Siria. Questo potrebbe spiegare la richiesta all’India di mandare truppe in Afghanistan. Gli interessi della NATO e dell’India convergerebbero nel non permettere che il Pakistan ed il suo arsenale nucleare cadano nelle mani di radicali o estremisti, che potrebbero minacciare gli interessi Anglo-americani e la sicurezza dell’India.

Cruciali dichiarazioni da parte dei leader politici di Siria, Iran e Venezuela

Non esiste alcuna proibizione a che la Siria importi sistemi d’arma difensivi, ma una nave da carico, contenente sistemi di difesa aerea destinati alla Siria, di provenienza Asiatica ed Egiziana, è stata bloccata nel porto di Limassol, Cipro. La nave è libera di salpare, ma la destinazione del suo carico non è ancora stata decisa.

In relazione a questo, il governo della Siria ha dichiarato di aspettarsi un attacco da parte di Israele, nel contesto di una più estesa guerra in Medio Oriente.

In un’intervista alla NBC rilasciata a Brian Williams, il Presidente Iraniano ha sottolineato come la Casa Bianca, con la sua politica estera in Medio Oriente, stia “trascinando il mondo verso la guerra.” Questa è una significativa dichiarazione prodotta dal responsabile di un stato Mediorientale, che deve essere accolta molto seriamente. Il Presidente Iraniano, nel suo discorso di settembre all’Assemblea Generale dell’ONU, si è espresso in ugual maniera, evidenziando come gli Stati Uniti stiano trascinando il mondo verso una guerra di vaste dimensioni.

Leaders Iraniani hanno affermato che le apparenti buone disposizioni delle diplomazie del governo Britannico e Statunitense sono soltanto smargiassate ad uso dell’opinione pubblica mondiale, che mettono in risalto le “loro arti da illusionisti quando dicono di cercare una risoluzione della crisi attraverso vie diplomatiche.”
 
Nei casi dell’Iraq e dell’Afghanistan, gli Stati Uniti e la Gran Bretagna hanno deciso di muoversi molto prima di informare la pubblica opinione circa le loro intenzioni.
 
Nel caso dell’Iraq, esiste una specifica documentazione declassificata che comprova tutto ciò; nel caso dell’Afghanistan non era in nessun modo possibile improvvisare la logistica per un’invasione di questa natura, attacco scatenato il 12 settembre 2001, senza una preventiva preparazione di mesi.
 
L’Iran è del tutto consapevole della minaccia di essere invaso e bombardato dagli USA e il popolo Iraniano si rende conto della possibilità di incursioni aeree da parte degli Anglo-americani. L’Iran ha avvertito di questo gli Stati Uniti e la Gran Bretagna. Nell’agosto 2006, le manovre militari Iraniane, in coordinazione con esercitazioni russe, cinesi e della CSTO, hanno avuto luogo in tutto il paese, in modo particolare nelle province importanti dal punto di vista strategico, al confine con Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turchia e Iraq e sul Golfo Persico. Così sono stati lanciati chiari segnali all’Alleanza Anglo-americana.

Il Venezuela, un alleato dell’Iran, ha avvertito ripetutamente gli Stati Uniti che non starà a guardare passivamente all’aggressione e all’invasione dell’Iran e della Siria.
 
Il Presidente del Venezuela Hugo Chavez, nel suo discorso all’Assemblea Generale dell’ONU, ha fatto preciso riferimento ai preparativi militari Statunitensi per l’invasione dell’Iran: “Ed ora gli Stati Uniti minacciano il Venezuela, siamo in presenza di nuove minacce contro il Venezuela, e anche contro l’Iran?” Il Presidente Venezuelano ha anche dichiarato: “ L’amministrazione Statunitense in carica sta farneticando di invadere l’Iran ed il Venezuela, per assumere il controllo delle risorse petrolifere anche di questi due paesi….”
 
Come il Venezuela progetti di aiutare l’Iran e la Siria in un conflitto contro gli Stati Uniti è tema di dibattito, ma è molto probabile che, in caso di guerra, le relazioni diplomatiche Venezuelane col governo USA verranno sospese, così come le forniture di petrolio agli Stati Uniti.

Collegamenti tra Golfo Persico e Mediterraneo Orientale?

E’ in atto un processo di militarizzazione in Medio Oriente e nel Mediterraneo Orientale, processo che vede coinvolte essenzialmente le forze NATO, che guidano pretestuosamente operazioni di “peace-keeping” lanciate dall’ONU.
 
Nel caso in cui gli Stati Uniti scatenassero la guerra, il terminale del petrolio Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), così come tutto il tracciato dell’oleodotto che conduce a Ceyhan, costituirebbero un ovvio obiettivo militare delle forze armate della Siria e dell’Iran. Contemporaneamente, la Marina Militare Iraniana cercherebbe di rendere impraticabile lo Stretto di Hormuz. Come l’Iran ha ripetutamente promesso, questo creerebbe forti limitazioni al flusso di approvvigionamento mondiale di petrolio.
 
Anche il Venezuela potrebbe ridurre all’estremo il flusso del proprio petrolio, come ha ripetutamente avvertito l’attuale governo Venezuelano.

La base aerea di Yncirlik è una grande base NATO in Turchia, prossima al confine Siriano e alla linea costiera. Si deve sottolineare che in questa base aerea Turca sono state dislocate anche armi nucleari Statunitensi. Durante la campagna militare del 2001 in Afghanistan, questa base di Yncirlik ha costituito uno dei punti cruciali per gli Stati Uniti e la NATO. Ed è ancora di vitale importanza per gli Alleati e la NATO. Vi sono di stanza migliaia di aviatori Americani e Britannici. Inoltre è direttamente adiacente alle condutture dell’oleodotto BTC.
 
Se l’Iran dovesse riuscire a chiudere il transito nello Stretto di Hormuz , il terminale petrolifero del BTC diverrebbe di importanza preminente.
 
Questa è una delle ragioni per cui la base aerea di Yncirlik è strategicamente importante. La base aerea di Yncirlik viene impiegata per proteggere il porto di Ceyhan e lo sbocco dell’oleodotto Baku-Tbilisi-Cehyan.

Nel momento in cui la Siria o l’Iran tentassero di impedire il flusso di petrolio attraverso questo oleodotto, le forze armate della NATO, posizionate nel Mediterraneo Orientale, così come quelle di Israele, giocherebbero un importante ruolo di protezione del terminale del BTC.

Attualmente, sia nel Golfo Persico e nel Mare Arabico, che nel Mediterraneo Orientale, lungo la linea costiera della Siria e del Libano, sono posizionate due distinte armate navali.
Viene verificata la contemporanea presenza di queste due flotte. La flotta navale presente nel Mediterraneo Orientale è essenzialmente caratterizzata da forze navali e terrestri di Israele e della NATO. Nel Golfo Persico, l’armata navale è essenzialmente costituita da navi Statunitensi, con la partecipazione della Gran Bretagna, dell’Australia, e del Canada.
 
Nell’immensa area che si estende dal Mediterraneo Orientale al Golfo Persico, così come nell’Iraq Settentrionale e in Georgia si stanno verificando diverse manovre e movimenti militari territoriali.
 
Il teatro di guerra potrebbe estendersi ben oltre, a nord verso il bacino del Mar Caspio e al Pakistan, e a est verso la frontiera Occidentale della Cina.
Quella che si sta configurando sulla scacchiera Mediorientale è una Grande Guerra, che potrebbe potenzialmente coinvolgere e sommergere regioni del mondo molto più estese.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya è un ricercatore associato del Centro per la Ricerca sulla Globalizzazione (CRG).
Articolo originale: The March to War: Naval build-up in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean

In contrast with what is happening in Egypt and Tunisia, Libya occupies the first spot on the Human Development Index for Africa and it has the highest life expectancy on the continent. Education and health receive special attention from the State. The cultural level of its population is without a doubt the highest. Its problems are of a different sort. The population wasn’t lacking food and essential social services. The country needed an abundant foreign labour force to carry out ambitious plans for production and social development.

For that reason, it provided jobs for hundreds of thousands of workers from Egypt, Tunisia, China and other countries. It had enormous incomes and reserves in convertible currencies deposited in the banks of the wealthy countries from which they acquired consumer goods and even sophisticated weapons that were supplied exactly by the same countries that today want to invade it in the name of human rights.

The colossal campaign of lies, unleashed by the mass media, resulted in great confusion in world public opinion. Some time will go by before we can reconstruct what has really happened in Libya, and we can separate the true facts from the false ones that have been spread.

Serious and prestigious broadcasting companies such as Telesur, saw themselves with the obligation to send reporters and cameramen to the activities of one group and those on the opposing side, so that they could inform about what was really happening.

Communications were blocked, honest diplomatic officials were risking their lives going through neighbourhoods and observing activities, day and night, in order to inform about what was going on. The empire and its main allies used the most sophisticated media to divulge information about the events, among which one had to deduce the shreds of the truth.

Without any doubt, the faces of the young people who were protesting in Benghazi, men, and women wearing the veil or without the veil, were expressing genuine indignation.

One is able to see the influence that the tribal component still exercises on that Arab country, despite the Muslim faith that 95% of its population sincerely shares.

Imperialism and NATO – seriously concerned by the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world, where a large part of the oil is generated that sustains the consumer economy of the developed and rich countries – could not help but take advantage of the internal conflict arising in Libya so that they could promote military intervention. The statements made by the United States administration right from the first instant were categorical in that sense.

The circumstances could not be more propitious. In the November elections, the Republican right-wing struck a resounding blow on President Obama, an expert in rhetoric.

The fascist “mission accomplished” group, now backed ideologically by the extremists of the Tea Party, reduced the possibilities of the current president to a merely decorative role in which even his health program and the dubious economic recovery were in danger as a result of the budget deficit and the uncontrollable growth of the public debt which were breaking all historical records.

In spite of the flood of lies and the confusion that was created, the US could not drag China and the Russian Federation to the approval by the Security Council for a military intervention in Libya, even though it managed to obtain however, in the Human Rights Council, approval of the objectives it was seeking at that moment. In regards to a military intervention, the Secretary of State stated in words that admit not the slightest doubt: “no option is being ruled out”.

The real fact is that Libya is now wrapped up in a civil war, as we had foreseen, and the United Nations could do nothing to avoid it, other than its own Secretary General sprinkling the fire with a goodly dose of fuel.

The problem that perhaps the actors were not imagining is that the very leaders of the rebellion were bursting into the complicated matter declaring that they were rejecting all foreign military intervention.

Various news agencies informed that Abdelhafiz Ghoga, spokesperson for the Committee of the Revolution stated on Monday the 28th that “‘The rest of Libya shall be liberated by the Libyan people’”.

“We are counting on the army to liberate Tripoli’ assured Ghoga during the announcement of the formation of a ‘National Council’ to represent the cities of the country in the hands of the insurrection.”

“‘What we want is intelligence information, but in no case that our sovereignty is affected in the air, on land or on the seas’, he added during an encounter with journalists in this city located 1000 kilometres to the east of Tripoli.”

“The intransigence of the people responsible for the opposition on national sovereignty was reflecting the opinion being spontaneously manifested by many Libyan citizens to the international press in Benghazi”, informed a dispatch of the AFP agency this past Monday.

That same day, a political sciences professor at the University of Benghazi, Abeir Imneina, stated:

“There is very strong national feeling in Libya.”

“‘Furthermore, the example of Iraq strikes fear in the Arab world as a whole’, she underlined, in reference to the American invasion of 2003 that was supposed to bring democracy to that country and then, by contagion, to the region as a whole, a hypothesis totally belied by the facts.”

The professor goes on:

“‘We know what happened in Iraq, it’s that it is fully unstable and we really don’t want to follow the same path. We don’t want the Americans to come to have to go crying to Gaddafi’, this expert continued.”

“But according to Abeir Imneina, ‘there also exists the feeling that this is our revolution, and that it is we who have to make it’.”

A few hours after this dispatch was printed, two of the main press bodies of the United States, The New York Times and The Washington Post, hastened to offer new versions on the subject; the DPA agency informs on this on the following day, March the first: “The Libyan opposition could request that the West bomb from the air strategic positions of the forces loyal to President Muamar al Gaddafi, the US press informed today.”

“The subject is being discussed inside the Libyan Revolutionary Council, ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Washington Post’ specified in their online versions.”

“‘The New York Times’ notes that these discussions reveal the growing frustration of the rebel leaders in the face of the possibility that Gaddafi should retake power”.

“In the event that air actions are carried out within the United Nations framework, these would not imply international intervention, explained the council’s spokesperson, quoted by The New York Times”.

“The council is made up of lawyers, academics, judges and prominent members of Libyan society.”

The dispatch states:

“‘The Washington Post’ quoted rebels acknowledging that, without Western backing, combat with the forces loyal to Gaddafi could last a long time and cost many human lives.”

It is noteworthy that in that regard, not one single worker, peasant or builder is mentioned, not anyone related to material production or any young student or combatant among those who take part in the demonstrations. Why the effort to present the rebels as prominent members of society demanding bombing by the US and NATO in order to kill Libyans?

Some day we shall know the truth, through persons such as the political sciences professor from the University of Benghazi who, with such eloquence, tells of the terrible experience that killed, destroyed homes, left millions of persons in Iraq without jobs or forced them to emigrate.

Today on Wednesday, the second of March, the EFE Agency presents the well-known rebel spokesperson making statements that, in my opinion, affirm and at the same time contradict those made on Monday: “Benghazi (Libya), March 2. The rebel Libyan leadership today asked the UN Security Council to launch an air attack ‘against the mercenaries’ of the Muamar el Gaddafi regime.”

“‘Our Army cannot launch attacks against the mercenaries, due to their defensive role’, stated the spokesperson for the rebels, Abdelhafiz Ghoga, at a press conference in Benghazi.”

“‘A strategic air attack is different from a foreign intervention which we reject’, emphasized the spokesperson for the opposition forces which at all times have shown themselves to be against a foreign military intervention in the Libyan conflict”.

Which one of the many imperialist wars would this look like?

The one in Spain in 1936? Mussolini’s against Ethiopia in 1935? George W. Bush’s against Iraq in the year 2003 or any other of the dozens of wars promoted by the United States against the peoples of the Americas, from the invasion of Mexico in 1846 to the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982?

Without excluding, of course, the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs, the dirty war and the blockade of our Homeland throughout 50 years, that will have another anniversary next April 16th.

In all those wars, like that of Vietnam which cost millions of lives, the most cynical justifications and measures prevailed.

For anyone harbouring any doubts, about the inevitable military intervention that shall occur in Libya, the AP news agency, which I consider to be well-informed, headlined a cable printed today which stated: “The NATO countries are drawing up a contingency plan taking as its model the flight exclusion zones established over the Balkans in the 1990s, in the event that the international community decides to impose an air embargo over Libya, diplomats said”.

Further on it concludes: “Officials, who were not able to give their names due to the delicate nature of the matter, indicated that the opinions being observed start with the flight exclusion zone that the western military alliance imposed over Bosnia in 1993 that had the mandate of the Security Council, and with the NATO bombing in Kosovo in 1999, THAT DID NOT HAVE IT”.

To be continued tomorrow.

Acknowledging the Cost of War: “Incalculable”

March 4th, 2011 by Kathy Kelly

Recent polls suggest that while a majority of U.S. people disapprove of the war in Afghanistan, many on grounds of its horrible economic cost, only 3% took the war into account when voting in the 2010 midterm elections. The issue of the economy weighed heavily on voters, but the war and its cost, though clear to them and clearly related to the economy in their thinking, was a far less pressing concern.

U.S. people, if they do read or hear of it, may be shocked at the apparent unconcern of the crews of two U.S. helicopter gunships, which attacked and killed nine children on a mountainside in Afghanistan’s Kumar province, shooting them “one after another” this past Tuesday March 1st. (“The helicopters hovered over us, scanned us and we saw a green flash from the helicopters. Then they flew back high up, and in a second round they hovered over us and started shooting.” (NYT 3/2/11)).

Four of the boys were seven years old; three were eight, one was nine and the oldest was twelve. “The children were gathering wood under a tree in the mountains near a village in the district,” said Noorullah Noori, a member of the local development council in Manogai district. “I myself was involved in the burial,” Noori said. “Yesterday we buried them.” (AP, March 2, 2011) General Petraeus has acknowledged, and apologized for, the tragedy.

He has had many tragedies to apologize for just counting Kunar province alone. Last August 26th, in the Manogai district, Afghan authorities accused international forces of killing six children during an air assault on Taliban positions. Provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee said a group of children were collecting scrap metal on the mountain when NATO aircraft dropped bombs to disperse Taliban fighters attacking a nearby base. “In the bombardment six children, aged six to 12, were killed,” the police commander said. “Another child was injured.”

In the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, Zekirullah, a young Afghan friend of mine, age 15, rises at 2:00 a.m. several mornings each week and rides his donkey for six hours through the pre-dawn to reach a mountainside where he can collect scrub brush and twigs which he loads on the donkey in baskets. Then he heads home and stacks the wood – on top of his family’s home – to be taken down later and burned for heat. They don’t have electrical appliances to heat the home, and even if they did the villagers only get electricity for two hours a day, generally between 1:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m. Families rely on their children to collect fuel for heat during the harsh winters and for cooking year round. Young laborers, wanting to help their families survive, mean no harm to the United States. They’re not surging at us, or anywhere: they’re not insurgents. They’re not doing anything to threaten us. They are children, and children anywhere are like children everywhere: they’re children like our own.

Sadly, more and more of us in America are getting used to the idea of child poverty – and even child labor – as our own economy sinks further under the burden of our latest nine years of war, of two billion dollars per week we spend creating poverty abroad that we can then emulate at home. Things are getting bad here, but in Afghanistan, children are bombed. Their bodies are casually dismembered and strewn by machines already lost in the horizon as the limbs settle. They lie in pools of blood until family members realize, one by one, that their children are not late in returning home but in fact never will.

In October and again in December of 2010, our small delegation of Voices for Creative Nonviolence activists met with a large family living in a wretched refugee camp. They had fled their homes in the San Gin district of the Helmand Province after a drone attack killed a mother there and her five children. The woman’s husband showed us photos of his children’s bloodied corpses. His niece, Juma Gul, age 9, had survived the attack. She and I huddled next to each other inside a hut made of mud on a chilly December morning. Juma Gul’s father stooped in front of us and gently unzipped her jacket, showing me that his daughter’s arm had been amputated by shrapnel when the U.S. missile hit their home in San Gin.

Next to Juma Gul was her brother, whose leg had been mangled in the attack. He apparently has no access to adequate medical care and experiences constant pain. The pilot of the attacking drone, perhaps controlling it from as far away as Creech Air Force Base here in the United States, knows nothing of this family or of the pain that he or she helped inflict. Nor do the commanders, the people who set up the base, the people who pay for it with their taxes, and the people who persist in electing candidates intent on indefinitely prolonging the war.

But sometimes the war is like it was this past Tuesday March 1st. Sometimes the issue is right in front of us – as it was to those helicopter crews – it’s up close so there can be no mistake as to what we are doing. According to the election polls we see the cost of war, dimly, but, as with the helicopter crews, it doesn’t affect – or prevent – our decisions. Afterwards we deplore the tragedy; we make a pretense of acknowledging the cost of war, but it is incalculable. We can’t hope to count it. We actually, finally, have to stop making people like the nine children who died on March 1st, pay it.

Kathy Kelly ([email protected]) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org) and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (www.livewithoutwars.org)

The US Department of Justice has quietly dropped its investigation of Angelo Mozilo, the former head of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, the largest originator of the subprime mortgages that were instrumental in the financial collapse of 2008.

According to the Los Angeles Times, which broke the story last week based on interviews with a confidential source, the Justice Department concluded that Mozilo’s activities “did not amount to criminal wrongdoing.”

The action puts a seal on the official response to the financial crisis: there will be no criminal prosecutions of the top executives responsible for the meltdown and the untold misery it has brought.

The office of US Attorney Stephen A. Cazares, which headed the criminal investigation, did not return phone calls.

The Justice Department decision not to pursue criminal charges follows the decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last October to forgo a trial and settle civil fraud charges against Mozilo. Under the agreement, Mozilo did not admit guilt but agreed to pay $67.5 million in penalties.

The mortgage banker pocketed over $500 million in compensation between 2000 and 2008, largely by making high-interest subprime loans to low-income borrowers and selling the loans to Wall Street banks, which packaged and sold them to investors around the world in the form of collateralized debt obligations.

The SEC accused Mozilo of selling nearly $140 million of his own shares in the run-up to the company’s near-collapse and purchase in 2008 by Bank of America. While Mozilo was dumping his own holdings he told shareholders that the company was healthy and organized buybacks to prop up the stock price.

The agency further accused Mozilo of failing to share with investors his own knowledge, documented in email exchanges with fellow executives, that Countrywide’s loan assets were “toxic.”

Mozilo co-founded Countrywide Financial in 1969 and presided over it for almost 40 years. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Countrywide led the race by mortgage companies to transition from lending and holding mortgages to maturity, to lending to virtually anyone who would sign a contract and then selling the debt to Wall Street speculators in the form of mortgage-backed securities.

By aggressively lowering lending standards, Countrywide expanded rapidly during the housing bubble and by 2006 was originating one out of every six mortgages.

“The definition of a good loan changed from ‘one that pays’ to ‘one that could be sold,’” Patricia Lindsay, a former finance fraud specialist, told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which published its report to congress on January 27. The commission said in its report that “Countrywide’s essential business strategy was ‘originating what was salable in the secondary market.’ The company sold or securitized 87 percent of the $1.5 trillion in mortgages it originated between 2002 and 2005.”

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report contains a section on Countrywide with sufficiently incriminating information to prosecute Mozilo and many other Countrywide executives and send them to prison. The report concludes that “As early as September 2004, Countrywide executives recognized that many of the loans they were originating could result in ‘catastrophic consequences.’”

“Less than a year later,” the report continues, “they noted that certain high-risk loans they were making could result not only in foreclosures, but also in ‘financial and reputational catastrophe’ for the firm. But they did not stop.”

The report also quotes internal emails sent by Mozilo that clearly demonstrate he knew his company was trafficking in fraudulent securities that would collapse in value at any major downturn in the housing market, bringing the company down along with it.

On March 28, 2006, Mozilo wrote to a fellow executive that subprime mortgage-backed securities are “the most dangerous product in existence and there can be nothing more toxic.”

Afterward, in a September 26, 2006 email, Mozilo concluded, “The bottom line is that we are flying blind on how these loans will perform in a stressed environment of higher unemployment, reduced values and slowing home sales.”

After expressing these doubts privately, Mozilo quickened the pace at which he sold his own shares, all the while insisting publicly that the company was in good health.

It is notable that this report, which exhaustively documents the fraud and criminality of the figures responsible for the financial crisis, has been buried by both the government and the media.

The Justice Department’s action comes just months after it dropped its investigation of Joe Cassano, the former chief financial officer of American International Group’s financial products unit. Cassano was among the principle architects of the company’s downfall, which ultimately led to a government bailout totaling $100 billion.

Only two Wall Street figures have been prosecuted in connection with the 2008 financial meltdown: Matthew Tannin and Ralph Cioffi, both mid-level executives at Bear Stearns who headed internal hedge funds that collapsed in 2007. They were acquitted of all charges.

            The present situation in Libya is grave, with Philippine attention focused on the thousands of Filipino workers there who are fleeing the turmoil and are in need of immediate repatriation. Almost half of the 26,000 Filipino workers in Libya are in conflict areas, and many of them are technical and construction workers in the industry and infrastructure sectors. Their worksites have become fair game for armed mobs and pro-“democracy” protesters extorting money, mobile phones, computers and other electronic items, food and other things of value. Some of their barracks have been ransacked, and affected Filipino workers had to flee for dear life with nothing to bring with them.

            The hundreds who were the first to arrive back in Manila were from the capital city of Tripoli and nearby areas in western Libya, and their orderly departure from Libya (via Malta) was arranged by their European and Korean employers with security escorts from forces of Muammar Gaddafi’s government. But employers in other conflict areas, in fear of being taken as hostages, have fled earlier and abandoned their Filipino and other expatriate workers. Areas seized by protesters are left with no local government forces which would be able to stop the armed mobs preying on worksites manned by expatriate workers.

            Hundreds more of Filipina women workers, mostly nurses and laboratory technicians, are being prevented from leaving their hospitals, or are unable to get any assistance in traveling safely to the Egyptian or Tunisian border crossings where Philippine migrant welfare officials have set up documentation and repatriation centers. Many Filipino workers have to beg for passage in ships chartered by western governments to ferry their nationals from Benghazi to the southern Greek island of Crete.

The Turmoil and the Stand-Off

            Latest news reports on Libya have it that fighting between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces are occurring in Az-Zawiyah, Tripoli and Misurata in the west ; in Sabha in the south ; and in Benghazi, Al-Bayda and Tobruk in the east. Hundreds and even thousands are reported to have been killed on both sides. Protests have flared hardest in the eastern parts of the country, particularly in Benghazi which was the center of foreign-supported anti-government agitation in the past. Benghazi is now reported to be under the control of anti-Gaddafi forces which have torched police stations and government buildings, and which have taken over the local radio stations.

            The main demand of protesters, according to western news reports, is the ouster of Gaddafi who has held unaccountable power as “leader of the revolution” for almost 42 years already, and who is preparing a political dynasty in Libya. Libya’s justice minister, and ambassadors to the United Nations, the Arab League, China, India and Bangladesh, have defected and turned against Gaddafi. The earlier defection to the pro-“democracy” protesters of some police and military units provided the anti-Gaddafi movement with arms and even tanks and artillery. The reported seizure of entire cities reflects a high degree of military sophistication, and is not just the result of “peaceful protests”.

The Attempts to Again Manipulate the United Nations

            Unfortunately for the Philippines, the vast majority of our people are getting only one-sided news and propaganda from the western media (including Al-Jazeera). These news agencies are trying to show that events in Libya are an extension of the democratic upsurge in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt ; and that there is now a virtual division of the country. This division is allegedly between the pro-“democracy” forces which have seized most of the eastern region (particulary the cities of Benghazi and Tobruk, in the former Cyrenaica region adjacent to Egypt), and the remaining Gaddafi loyalist forces in the western region (particularly the cities of Tripoli and Sirt, in the Tripolitania region adjacent to Tunisia).

            As usual, Gaddafi is demonized as a tyrant who is bombing his own people, and western calls are made for the UN to take action to stop or prevent Gaddafi’s genocide. Among the calls are for the UN enforcement of a “no-fly-zone” over north-eastern Libya, in order to prevent Gaddafi’s air force from attacking “liberated” areas. This would be similar to the “no-fly-zone” over parts of Iraq in the 1990s, which was without any UN sanction and was only imposed unilaterally by the US-UK forces.

            There are also calls for a blockade and ban of any delivery of weapons for Gaddafi forces ; and for the indictment of the Gaddafi family for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, these would set precedents which could boomerang on the USA and its NATO allies. If the UN were to hold the officials of governments and corporations providing weapons to the Gaddafi regime accountable for how those weapons are being used, then that would set a precedent making US and NATO governments and corporations accountable for arming the most violent despots known for human rights violations and war crimes in many parts of the world.

            Holding Gaddafi and Libyan officials directly accountable for alleged war crimes against a civilian population, by referring the issue directly to the ICC, would set a precedent that could hold US and NATO political leaders also responsible for civilian deaths in their present wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. US and NATO warplanes and remote-controlled drones have so far killed thousands of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, and US and NATO leaders could be also held liable for genocide.

The Threat to Libyan Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity

            Virulent western media demands for UN and NATO actions against Gaddafi are reflections of covetous imperialist designs upon Libya. In this situation, the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Libyan people are threatened. A US-NATO invasion of Libya is even imminent.

            In defense of his position, Gaddafi has spoken over Libyan state TV and radio to stress that the present turmoil in Libya is not an extension of the democratic upsurge in the region, but an imperialist conspiracy to take away from the Libyan people their control of their own oil resources. Gaddafi claims that this is an armed counter-revolution participated in by outsiders and mercenaries, and which aims to bring about the imperialist occupation of Libya, similar to the present imperialist imposition of suffering and humiliation upon Afghanistan and Iraq.

            Huge demonstrations in Tripoli in support of Gaddafi, in response to his call for the Libyan people to defend their sovereignty and oil wealth, have apparently disturbed the imperialist powers — especially since the protesters in Libya, up to now, have not produced any credible organization or leader around which people could be rallied politically. The so-called “National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL)”, an exile group that has been interviewed constantly by western media as a leading opposition force, and which is loudly demanding a NATO attack against Gaddafi, has for decades served as a stooge of the CIA.

            The other group usually seen in pro-“democracy” actions (assaults on police and military camps, and the burning of government buildings and facilities) is that which is backing the return of the monarchy which was deposed by Gaddafi in 1969. Pro-“democracy” protesters have hoisted Libya’s first national flag, that of the corrupt and US-subservient King Idris, over the areas they have seized. However, a return to a monarchy could only be considered a step backward for the Libyan people, and would stand opposed to those striving for democracy.

            Finally, another group of protesters is the Muslim Brotherhood, the sect formed in Egypt in 1928, and which has cooperated with the CIA since their joint attempts to oust Gamal Abdel Nasser from the Egyptian presidency in the 1950s. Given this situation where US-backed protesters lack the force to oust Gaddafi, imperialism is now propagating the line that a peaceful transition in Libya not possible, and that Gaddafi’s ouster can only be done by external force. But unlike Marcos in the Philippines in 1986, and Ben Ali and Mubarak in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year, Gaddafi is not someone who can simply be ordered by a US president to step down and yield power to a new US puppet.

The Role of the Western Media

            All efforts are therefore being made to “justify” an imperialist intervention in Libya. Thus the reports which make it appear that Gaddafi is using aircraft and artillery against “unarmed” and “defenseless” protesters. Efforts are also being made by imperialism to make every use of the former Gaddafi officials, diplomats and military officers who have defected during the past week, in order to use them as components of an acceptable and effective client regime to replace Gaddafi.

            However, imperialism has to contend with the fact that there is apparently no widespread defection among the 50,000 to 70,000 hard core Gaddafi security forces, unlike in Egypt where the army joined the protesters on the streets. It is therefore the role of western media to propagate the message that the Gaddafi regime is fast collapsing ; that its control of Libyan territory and population is dwindling rapidly ; that Gaddafi’s last resort is genocide against his own people ; and that the international community (meaning again the NATO “coalition of the willing”) should strike to take out Gaddafi and pre-empt his use of “weapons of mass destruction” and his blowing up of the Libyan oil industry.

            It is difficult to see how events will unfold, given the continuing stand-off between Gaddafi and his imperialist-backed opponents. But we have seen how the imperialists and their “embedded” mediamen fooled the world with blatant lies to attack Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein. In the Libyan case also, British foreign minister William Hague propagated the yarn that Gaddafi has fled to Venezuela. Considering imperialism’s hatred towards Gaddafi, and its desire to take over control of Libyan oil resources (now producing 1.8-million barrels per day, and which has the greatest reserve in Africa), the present turmoil in Libya is being used to plot the overthrow of Gaddafi and the control of Libya.

Developments Brought About by the Al-Fatah Revolution

            The Al-Fatah (September 1st, 1969) Revolution led by Gaddafi overthrew the corrupt and imperialist-subservient monarchy of King Idris. It was inspired by the ideas of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who earlier also overthrew a corrupt and imperialist-subservient monarchy in Egypt. King Idris earlier allowed the presence of the USA’s very large Wheelus Air Base in Libya, but the Al-Fatah Revolution promptly ended any US military presence in Libya. Before the revolution, the Libyan people were mostly illiterate and in dire poverty, while Libya’s oil resources fabulously enriched western oil companies and the Idris monarchy.

            The revolution nationalized the Libyan oil industry, and used the oil riches to uplift the social conditions of the Libyan masses ; to eradicate widespread illiteracy ; to provide jobs and housing ; to develop free higher education ; and to ensure better nutrition through food subsidies. The monarchy used to own much of the habitable and arable land, until Gaddafi ordered the nationalization of land and the burning of all land titles in simultaneous bonfires nationwide in order to pave the way for radical changes in housing ownership and agrarian relations.

            Under Gaddafi, Libya became the highest ranked among African countries in the Human Development Index — which includes such factors as living conditions, life expectancy (now at almost 75 years) and education. Gaddafi is also credited with the construction of a broad network of giant pipelines (the “Great Man-Made River”) bringing fresh water from an enormous lake beneath its large desert, in order to serve the needs of Libya’s 6 million population. Under Gaddafi, the Libyan government placed the country’s development within a radical and populist context, and promoted semi-socialist political and economic concepts. The Gaddafi government also provided significant aid to neighboring African states. However, Communist advocacy is suppressed, and the role of trade unions is marginalized inside Libya.

            It was also under Gaddafi, and with oil money, that Libya attained the highest per capita income among African states. However, there is now a campaign in the western press to belie this, and to paint a picture of widespread unemployment, gaping social inequality and poverty among the Libyan people. Indeed, neo-liberal reforms ushered in recent years have resulted in inequality, with social programs and subsidies for the poor being cut, and the country’s oil wealth increasingly being given to foreign corporations. The CIA is now even trying to pass off alleged “studies” showing that most Libyans are surviving on less than USD$2.00 per day. However, such “studies” have no credibility, considering that Libya remains a favorite among expatriate workers in the Middle East, given the relatively higher pay and better working terms in Libyan work sites.

Gaddafi’s Propagation of his “Third Universal Theory”

            When Gaddafi started to propagate his “Green Book” (or the “Third Universal Theory”) internationally, he tried to win over sections of national liberation and anti-imperialist movements with financial support, and this caused opportunist schisms within some national movements. His “Third Universal Theory” is a strange mix of utopian socialism and Islam — of non-class anti-capitalism and virulent anti-Communism.

            Libyan oil money fed Gaddafi’s megalomania, and he tried to play god by interfering in some parts of the developing world — particularly in countries he considered economically inferior and with poor people ready to sacrifice as migrant workers with few rights just to retain jobs in Libya. He funded Islamic secessionist forces in southern Philippines and southern Thailand, claiming support for struggles against Christian or Buddhist domination of Moslem minorities.

            In the largely Moslem country of Indonesia, Gaddafi dabbled in tribal conflicts by funding the secessionist forces of the Acehnese, in a show of support for the supposedly more fundamentalist Sumatrans as against the dominant Javanese. Gaddafi’s interference in the internal affairs of the Philippines in the 1970s cost the lives of thousands of Filipinos, mostly in Mindanao. His interference in the internal affairs of other Asian countries cost the lives of thousands more.

            Gaddafi also tried to interfere in some parts of Southern Africa, casting aspersion upon the role of Communists, whites and women in the anti-apartheid struggle. For a time, he also dabbled in inter-Christian conflicts, and on this basis even supported the armed struggle of the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland. He gave the impression of leading a great international anti-imperialist movement (the Mathaba or “center”), which in reality was mainly composed of anti-Communist ultra-left and fundamentalist Islamic groupings. While vociferous in his anti-imperialist rhetoric and antics — which drew sanctions from imperialist countries — he was objectively sowing divisions within anti-imperialist movements, as well as within the anti-zionist national liberation movement of the Palestinian people.

            In 1986, Reagan and Thatcher cooperated in an attempt to assassinate Gaddafi by bombing his residences in Tripoli and Benghazi. Gaddafi survived, but his adopted infant daughter and many more were killed, with hundreds also maimed and wounded. Despite Gaddafi’s extremist and reactionary policies, the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP-1930), through its mass organizations, condemned the US-UK terrorist attack on Libya. Thereafter, imperialist sanctions were ratcheted up against Libya, and more assassination plots were prepared against Gaddafi, finally intimidating Gaddafi.

            In 2000, a weary Gaddafi again played god in the Philippine south, this time for the purpose of mending fences with the imperialists. The Abu Sayyaf, a bandit break-away group from the Islamic secessionist movement in Mindanao had taken 21 hostages (including 10 European and other western tourists) from the Sipadan dive resort in Malaysia, and kept them captive in the southern Philippine island of Sulu. Gaddafi offered ransom of USD$1-Million for each hostage. The release of the European and other western hostages from the clutches of his former subalterns became his first offering to appease imperialism, never mind if the hefty ransom he gave only further emboldened these bandits to undertake more terrorist activities in our country.

            Further cozying up to imperialism after the Bush-Blair invasion of Iraq, Gaddafi dismantled Libya’s nuclear program in 2003, which step however gave relief to the whole world. This was followed by the payment of compensation to the victims of the bombing of the Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie (Scotland), and the granting of privileges to US and UK companies in the Libyan oil and other business sectors. Reports then have it that Libya disclosed to US intelligence agencies information on all the sundry armed groups that it had previously supported. Gaddafi’s many concessions to imperialism over the past decade have further diminished his credibility among progressive and anti-imperialist forces, and understandably, not a few of these forces have declared their solidarity with the Libyan revolt.

Prospects

            Some have characterized foreign interference in the Libyan conflict as poetic justice, considering Gaddafi’s earlier interference in the internal affairs of other countries. But what is at stake in Libya today is not just the future of Gaddafi and his family. What is at stake are Libya’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is a different matter to support steps toward democratic changes in Libya, and to support imperialist interference under the guise of assisting pro-“democracy” protesters.

            The popular masses of the Libyan people are demanding civil rights and democratic freedoms (including workers’ rights), an open system of laws not merely based on Sharia (Islamic law), a political system that would enhance the role of trade unions and other organizations of the working masses, and immediate measures for the amelioration of declining living standards.

            The PKP-1930 supports these demands of the Libyan masses who truly stand for democratic changes. The taking of immediate steps for the realization of these demands could help Gaddafi maintain his dwindled grip on power ; however, the Gaddafi regime has no long-term prospects, and could not be expected to take these steps while busy fighting for survival.

            It would also be an illusion to expect that the stooges of imperialism among the protesters — the NFSL, the monarchists, the Muslim Brotherhood, or other pliant groups that imperialism could find among the latest defectors from the Gaddafi camp — would support real democratic changes in Libya. The realization of democratic changes can only come with the quick organizing and mobilization of truly democratic Libyan mass forces in the midst of the present turmoil.

            While supporting the democratic demands of the Libyan working masses, the PKP-1930 at the same time opposes imperialist interference in Libya. In particular, the PKP-1930 strongly condemns imperialist plots to push a civil war in Libya in order to pave the way for imperialist military intervention and the eventual control of Libya.

            No to imperialist intervention in Libya ! Let the Libyan people make their own decisions and determine their own future, while preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country !

            No to imperialist interference in Libya and the other countries of the Middle East and North Africa !

                                                                                   
Antonia E. Paris is General Secretary of  PKP-1930, The Philippines

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 3, 2011 (IPS) – The world’s key arms manufacturers are still firmly entrenched in the United States and Western Europe, while some of the newly-emerging military industries in China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Israel, Turkey and Kuwait are trailing mostly far behind.

A new study released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) points out that only 10 of the world’s 100 largest arms manufacturers are now based in Asia and the Middle East, with none in Latin America or Africa.

The companies listed in the report include Hindustan Aeronautics and Bharat Electronics (India), Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael (Israel), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (Japan), Samsung (South Korea), ST Engineering (Singapore) and Aselsan (Turkey).

The weapons manufactured by some of these companies include fighter planes, helicopters, jet trainers, drones, fast attack craft, missiles, battle tanks and electronic warfare systems.

But many of the arms manufacturers in these countries are seeking collaborative partners with U.S. or European companies, either for joint military production or technology transfers, “in order to springboard into more sophisticated technologies”.

China, on the other hand, has its own vibrant arms industry with companies such as China North Industries Corporation (Norinco), China Aviation Industry Corporation and China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation producing a wide range of military products, including jet fighters, helicopters, warships and heavy artillery.

Still, the leaders in the defence industry come overwhelmingly from the United States and Western Europe, including companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, United Technologies (US), British Aerospace Systems, Aerospatiale-Matra and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, according to the study.

Asked whether Asian and Middle Eastern companies will catch up with the United States and Western Europe, Dr. Susan Jackson, SIPRI’s arms industry expert, told IPS: “As a project, we do not make forecasts.”

But it is generally hard to say where these companies will be in 10 years, especially given uncertainties on what countries will perceive as their purchasing needs, she added.

Jackson said it is challenging for arms producers outside of the United States and Western Europe to increase their arms sales to the same levels, especially when compared to the United States.

“The United States has such a large arms market and in the near term is likely to continue purchasing – which makes it difficult for companies outside of the U.S. market to increase their ranking even if they increase their arms sales,” said Jackson, researcher and head of SIPRI’s Arms Production Project Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

The SIPRI report points out that despite the continuing global economic recession in 2009, total arms sales of the world’s 100 largest arms-producing companies increased by 14.8 billion dollars from 2008 to reach 401 billion dollars in 2009, according to the latest available figures.

This was a real increase of eight percent, according to new data on international arms production released last week by the Stockholm-based institute dedicated to research into conflicts, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Jackson said U.S. government spending on military goods and services is a key factor in rising arms sales by U.S. arms- producing and military services companies and for Western European companies.

And some of the European countries have a foothold in the U.S. arms and military services market, making them beneficiaries of rising U.S. defence spending.

According to the data in the new report, 45 of the top 100 companies are based in the United States.

These companies generated just under 247 billion dollars in total arms sales, which is 61.5 percent of the top 100 arms sales, while 33 are based in nine Western European countries: Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

These companies generated 120 billion dollars in total arms sales, which is 30 percent of the top 100 arms sales, while 26 of the key Western European arms producers are based primarily in four countries: France, Germany, Italy, and the UK.

Last week a London daily reported that the United States had expressed doubts about the suitability of corporate partnership with an Indian aerospace company in a hefty 11- billion-dollar contract to provide New Delhi with 126 new fighter planes.

Asked about the progress made by non-European and non-U.S. companies, Jackson singled out the Israeli arms industry, which relies heavily on the United States.

But one area in which Israel competes in the global arms markets in its own right is in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) research and development.

“There are other areas but UAVs are a good example because Israel is a leading producer of UAVs for the global arms market,” she pointed out.

Jackson said Israel decided earlier on that it would focus on niche markets and that is what it has done.

She said there will be more information on Israel, as well as South Korea and Turkey, in the SIPRI Yearbook due to be released in June.
  

The United States Army late Wednesday notified Private First Class Bradley Manning, whom it suspects of being WikiLeak’s source for thousands of classified military reports and embassy cables, that it was filing an additional 22 charges against him.

The new charges in Manning’s court martial process include “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense. A news release from the Army said the prosecution team has “notified the defense that the prosecution will not recommend the death penalty.” However, it is up to the commander overseeing the case to make the final decision about imposing the death penalty.

This means that Manning, who has already suffered through ten months of solitary confinement in a brig at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, now has the possibility of execution hanging over his head. His alleged “crime” is facilitating the publication of documents and videos that expose war crimes committed by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and some of the diplomatic conspiracies carried out by the US government.

Manning, who was serving as an intelligence specialist in Iraq, was first charged in May with 12 counts of downloading without authorization a secret video of US attack helicopters shooting down civilians in Baghdad (posted last April by WikiLeaks) as well as military and diplomatic files, and sharing them.

The military has held him since then under abusive conditions that amount to torture, even though he has been convicted of no offense and has no history of violence. He is confined to his cell 23 hours a day, allowed out but one hour for exercise, not permitted to sleep during the day, and severely restricted in the use of his glasses and his access to reading material.

Amnesty International, among other human rights groups, has denounced his treatment as “inhumane,” and the United Nations is investigating whether it constitutes torture.

The “aiding the enemy” charge involves “giving intelligence to the enemy,” which is defined as “organized opposing forces in time of war but also other hostile body that our forces may be opposing such as a rebellious mob or a band of renegades.” Under this definition the enemy could be civilian or military.

The charge sheet does not mention by name the alleged enemy. It could refer to anti-occupation insurgents in Afghanistan or Iraq, or to WikiLeaks, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accused of launching an “attack on America.”

The new charges also include the use of unauthorized software on official computers for obtaining secret information. This offense is also punishable by death under the US Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The initial 12 charges carried a possible prison sentence of 52 years.

According to Manning’s defense attorney, David Coombs, the 22 new charges were preferred by Manning’s commanding officer after he made his own judgment of possible offenses in the case. Under the court martial procedure, a provisional hearing, known as an Article 32, is to be held in late May or early June, when final charges are to be laid.

At that stage it will be known for certain whether Manning will face a possible death sentence.

David House, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one of the few people to have visited Manning in prison. Alluding to President Nixon’s charge that Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was “providing aid and comfort to the enemy,” he said, “Today we see the Obama administration continuing the legacy Nixon started by declaring whistleblowers as enemies of the state. It is a sad and dangerous day for transparency advocates everywhere.”

Mit falschen Papieren gegen “Euro-Anarchisten”

March 3rd, 2011 by Matthias Monroy

Deutsche und britische Undercover-Polizisten spitzeln gemeinsam gegen antikapitalistische Bewegungen. Ihre internationale Verwendung ist ein Projekt von Ex-Innenminister Wolfgang Schäuble. Konkurrenz kommt von privaten Sicherheitsfirmen

Foto: Enttarnte Polizeispitzel

Nach dem Höhepunkt der globalisierungskritischen Bewegungen in Seattle, Genua und Göteborg gerieten linke Aktivisten um die Jahrtausendwende zum grenzüberschreitenden Problem für die von ihnen kritisierten Regierungen. Institutionen der Europäischen Union und der Vereinten Nationen organisierten polizeiliche Abhilfe. Unter deutscher EU-Präsidentschaft 2007 hatte sich der damalige Innenminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) für die Verrechtlichung eines weiteren Überwachungsinstruments politischer Bewegungen eingesetzt: die grenzüberschreitende Spitzelei.

Die G8-Staaten stillen ihr Kontrollbedürfnis für Gipfeltreffen über das United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), das mit seinem im italienischen Turin ansässigen Security Governance/Counter-Terrorism Laboratory die Ineinssetzung von Gipfelprotest und Terrorismus beforscht.  

Mit Coordinating National Research Programmes and Policies on Security at Major Events in Europe (EU-SEC II) betreibt auch die Europäische Union ein eigenes Vorhaben zur Handhabung von Gipfelprotesten oder Sportereignissen. EU-SEC steht wiederum unter der Leitung des UNICRI-Ablegers in Italien. Das Programm läuft dieses Jahr aus, endgültige Ergebnisse sollen im Sommer in Brüssel vorgestellt werden. Hinzu kommen weitere Institutionen der Europäischen Union bzw. ihre polizeilichen Datensammlungen, um Proteste vorauseilend beherrschbar zu machen:

Die EU-Polizeiagentur Europol versorgt Mitgliedsstaaten mit “Risikoanalysen” für “Major Events”, Deutschland verleiht seine Datensammlung “International agierende gewaltbereite Störer” (IgaST). Die EU-Polizeiagentur Europol unterhält mit der “Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group” eine Arbeitsgruppe, um die Vermittlung und Honorierung von Vertrauenspersonen und Informanten, also Privatpersonen die mit Innenbehörden kooperieren, unter den EU-Mitgliedsstaaten zu vereinfachen. Polizeien der Mitgliedsstaaten, darunter das deutsche Bundes- und das Zollkriminalamt, koordinieren sich in einer “European Cooperation Group on Undercover Acitvities” (ECG).

Stasi 2.0

Während britische Undercover-Polizisten im Frühjahr 2007 bei der Ausforschung der Gipfelproteste in Heiligendamm halfen, brachte das deutsche Innenministerium unter deutscher EU-Präsidentschaft eine Entschließung des Rates auf den Weg. Mit dem im Juni 2007 verabschiedeten Papier zum weiter vereinfachten grenzüberschreitenden Einsatz Verdeckter Ermittler wollte sich Schäuble “rechtlicher und tatsächlicher Probleme” des internationalen Spitzeltauschs entledigen.  

Vorgesehen waren eine Problemanalyse und EU-weite gesetzgeberische Maßnahmen, um die Zusammenarbeit der Mitgliedstaaten zu intensivieren. Als regelungsbedürftig galten damals wie heute:

 die grenzüberschreitende Ausleihe soll in allen Mitgliedsstaaten rechtlich ermöglicht werden; Einsätze werden zwar über Artikel 14 des Rechtshilfeübereinkommens in Strafsachen (EU-RhÜbk) organisiert, ihnen muss aber eine bilaterale Vereinbarung zugrunde liegen,

 die Möglichkeit des polizeilichen Grenzübertritts für Eilfälle (“spontane grenzüberschreitende Einsätze), die nicht über das EU-RhÜbk geregelt sind,

 welcher Behörde ein Einsatz mitzuteilen ist und welchen Inhalt diese Mitteilung haben muss,

 das Mitführen von Waffen und “sonstiger technischer Mittel” wie Peilsender, Kameras und versteckte Aufnahmegeräte,

 die grenzüberschreitende Unterstützung bei Ausstellung falscher Papiere wie die “Eintragung einer Scheinfirma in ein ausländisches Handelsregister” oder die “Eröffnung eines ausländischen Bankkontos”, die “für die kriminelle Vereinigung besonders glaubhaft” seien und den Anreiz erhöhten, “mit dem Verdeckten Ermittler zusammenzuarbeiten”,

 die Frage richterlicher Anordnungen, etwa zum Betreten von Privaträumen,

 die “Rechtsunsicherheit auflösen” bezüglich der rechtlichen Gleichstellung des inländischen und ausländischen Spitzels; der ausländische Polizist gilt bislang als “Vertrauensperson” (V-Person) mit weniger Rechten und Pflichten,

 die Definition verdeckter Ermittler als ein “besonders geschulter, verdeckt oder unter falscher Identität handelnder Beamter”; Vertrauenspersonen und Informanten sollen aus dem Anwendungsbereich des künftigen EU-Rechtsakts ausgeschlossen werden.

 der Schutz der Identität der Spitzel bei Vernehmungen durch die Polizei oder Untersuchungsrichter, die nicht in allen Mitgliedsstaaten anonymisiert erfolgen: Bei Einleitung eines Ermittlungsverfahrens müsste der Spitzel mit der Enttarnung rechnen; ein deutscher verdeckter Ermittler darf deshalb in manchen Ländern nicht aktiv werden, was bei seiner “Tätergruppierung” Verdacht erregen könnte. 

Keine Regierung darf ihre Polizeikräfte ohne vorherige Erlaubnis auf fremdem Hoheitsgebiet tätig werden lassen. Ziel ist deshalb unter anderem die Ausarbeitung einer Modell-Vereinbarung zur vorherigen Bewilligung durch den ersuchten Staat. Hier sollen die gemeinsamen Ermittlungsgruppen (GEG) Vorbild sein, in deren Rahmen auch grenzüberschreitende verdeckte Ermittlungen vorgenommen werden können. Vorteilhaft ist, dass innerhalb einer GEG richterliche Beschlüsse auf teilnehmende Polizeien anderer Länder quasi “übertragen” werden können und damit ein beträchtlicher Teil Bürokratie wegfällt.

“Memorandum of Understanding”

Mit den vorgeschlagenen Regelungen will die Bundesregierung den rechtlichen Rahmen für die ohnehin üblich gewordene grenzüberschreitende Schnüffelpraxis nachholen. In den letzten Monaten wurde bekannt, dass etliche britische Spitzel deutsche Polizeien bei Gipfelprotesten gegen G8 und NATO unterstützt hatten (Grenzüberschreitende Spitzel).

Laut geltender Rechtslage müssen derartige Einsätze vorher angemeldet und genehmigt werden. Ausländischen Undercover Polizisten wird in Deutschland beispielsweise ein deutscher Führungsbeamter zur Seite gestellt. Einzelheiten zur Berichtspflicht oder die Erinnerung, dass die Spitzel keine Straftaten begehen dürfen, werden in einem mittlerweile standardisierten “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) niedergelegt.

In Deutschland findet die Verwendung ausländischer Spitzel meist in Verantwortung der Bundesländer statt. Hierfür haben die Innen- und Justizminister eine Gemeinsame Richtlinie über die Inanspruchnahme von Informanten sowie über den Einsatz von Vertrauenspersonen (V-Personen) und Verdeckten Ermittlern im Rahmen der Strafverfolgung geschlossen.

Die Richtlinie sieht den Einsatz ausländischer Spitzel zwar nicht explizit vor. Trotzdem dürfte sie auch für den Umgang mit der Affäre rund um den aufgeflogenen Spitzel Mark Kennedy von Belang sein: Der gegenwärtig bekannteste britische Polizist beteiligte sich an Straftaten, unterhielt sexuelle Beziehungen und hat seine polizeilich erlangten Informationen womöglich privat weiter verwertet. Die Richtlinie der Länder ermächtigt diese zur Aufhebung der Zusicherung der Geheimhaltung, wenn ein Spitzel “von einer Weisung vorwerfbar abweicht oder sich sonst als unzuverlässig erweist” oder “sich eine strafbare Tatbeteiligung” herausstellt. Beides trifft unzweifelhaft auf Kennedy zu. Trotzdem verweigern Bundes- und Landesregierungen aus “einsatztaktischen Erwägungen” umfassende Auskünfte.

Ziercke hatte sich im Innenausschuss bezüglich Kennedys Wirken in Berlin in Widersprüche verstrickt. Bislang galt, dass der Polizist in Berlin nicht aktiv gewesen sei und von dort, wie es auch Ziercke bestätigt, “nicht berichtet” habe. Obwohl Kennedy in der britischen Presse erklärt, aus der Hauptstadt sogar “Beweismittel” nach Großbritannien geschafft zu haben, behauptet der BKA-Präsident lediglich eine Anwesenheit zur “Legendenstützung”. Hierfür hat das LKA jedoch zusammen mit dem BKA eine von Ziercke nicht näher bezeichnete “Aktion” lanciert, die zwar keinen “Einsatzcharakter” gehabt habe, wohl aber der der “Legendenstützung” gedient haben soll. Die “Aktion” sei “ohne Eingriffscharakter und Informationserhebung” verlaufen.

Hinzu kommt, dass Ziercke zwar behauptet, das BKA habe keine Berichte von Kennedys Einsatz empfangen und den Einsatz lediglich an Landesbehörden vermittelt. Im Falle des G8-Gipfels in Heiligendamm war der britische Polizist jedoch über einen eigens für ihn zuständigen Führungsbeamten des BKA in die damalige Sonderbehörde der Polizei “Kavala” integriert.

Deutsche Polizisten arbeiten für britische “Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung”

Ziercke erklärte im Innenausschuss, dass auch deutsche Undercover-Polizisten längst international aktiv sind und bei Gipfelprotesten eingesetzt werden. Zum G8-Gipfel im schottischen Gleneagles waren fünf verdeckte Ermittler des Landeskriminalamts (LKA) Berlin eingesetzt. Einem entsprechenden Bericht des Spiegel liegt das Protokoll der Innenausschuss-Sitzung von Ende Januar zugrunde, in der Jörg Ziercke, Chef des Bundeskriminalamts (BKA), über die Verwendung ausländischer Undercover-Polizisten in Deutschland Auskunft gab.

An Großbritannien verliehene Polizisten seien laut Ziercke von der britischen National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) angefordert worden – offensichtlich nicht nur für den G8-Gipfel. Die NPOIU gehört zur National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU), die wiederum der Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) untersteht und als “Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung” allgemeine Polizeiaufgaben übernimmt. Die NETCU geriet unter Beschuss, nachdem dubiose Ermittlungsmethoden ans Licht kamen. Mehrere Polizisten hatten Sexualität eingesetzt, um Vertrauen zu erschleichen oder Informationen zu erlangen. Der Innenminister hat der ACPO jetzt das Mandat der Führung von Spitzeln entzogen.

“We hate it!”

Mit der zunehmenden Überwachung unter Einsatz geheimdienstlicher Methoden werden antikapitalistische, antifaschistische, antirassistische und globalisierungskritische Aktivisten unter Kontrolle gebracht. Ihr Alleinstellungsmerkmal gegenüber anderen politischen Strömungen in Deutschland, eine reale grenzüberschreitende Vernetzung, ist deutschen Behörden verdächtig.

Im Innenausschuss hatte BKA-Chef Ziercke von einer “Europäisierung der Anarchoszene” gesprochen. Aktivisten aus Griechenland, Spanien, Großbritannien, Frankreich, Dänemark und Deutschland würden “schwerste Straftaten” begehen. Derartige Hinweise seien für den G8 in Heiligendamm auch aus Großbritannien eingegangen. Weder sind “schwerste Straftaten” allerdings eingetreten, noch war seitens des BKA an anderer Stelle etwas dazu zu hören. Die Razzien vor dem deutschen G8 wurden ähnlich begründet, ein entsprechendes Ermittlungsverfahren nach 40 Hausdurchsuchungen und Anhäufung von 80.000 Seiten voller Erkenntnisse später klammheimlich eingestellt.

Der BKA-Präsident belehrt den Innenausschuss, dass Polizeien zukünftig “international und konspirativ” agieren müssten. Ziercke erklärt den Abgeordneten, die Polizeien der EU-Mitgliedstaaten würden ihre Spitzeln gegen “Euro-Anarchisten, militante Linksextremisten und -terroristen” in Stellung bringen. Das Vokabular ist aufschlussreich: Der absurde Begriff “Euro-Anarchisten” ist beispielsweise im deutschen Sprachraum bislang nicht gebräuchlich. Was soll er auch bedeuten?

Erstmals eingeführt wurde das Gespenst von Euro-Anarchisten als “Kartell europäischer Anarchistengruppen” vom damaligen italienischen Innenminister Guiseppe Pisanu 2003 zur Bezeichnung einer auch unter linken Gruppen anrüchigen “Federazione Anarchica Informale” (F.A.I.). Der Name ist die Abwandlung einer anderen anarchistischen Gruppe, der “Federazione Anarchica Italiana”. Die von Pisanu in den Fokus gerückte F.A.I. übernahm in den letzten Jahren mehrmals die Verantwortung für Briefbombenanschläge und war deshalb eine Zeitlang auf der EU-Terrorliste geführt (“Zivile Todesstrafe”).

Ähnlich hatte sich beim 2005 zahlreich vorgetragenen Gipfelprotest in Gleneagles, der laut Ziercke mithilfe deutscher Polizisten infiltriert wurde, Tony Blair geäußert. “We hate it!”, beschwerte sich der Premierminister gegenüber der Presse, da sich die Führer der größten Industriestaaten hinter einem Zaun verstecken müssten. Obschon über hunderttausend Demonstranten rund um das Tagungshotel die Zufahrten blockierten und am Absperrzaun rüttelten, machte Blair “kleine Gruppen internationaler Anarchisten” dafür verantwortlich, dass sich die G8 nicht händeschüttelnd mit der Dorfbevölkerung fotografieren lassen können.

Womöglich liegt also der Schlüssel zur Undercover-Zusammenarbeit gegen “Euro-Anarchisten” in der Sicherheitszusammenarbeit für die Gipfel von G8, G20, NATO und COP 15 in Gleneagles, Heiligendamm, London, Strasbourg und Kopenhagen. Unwahrscheinlich ist das nicht: Der für den G8-Gipfel in Deutschland zuständige Polizeichef Knut Abramowski war beispielsweise anlässlich des G8-Protests in Schottland 2005 bei britischen Behörden zu Besuch.

Wenig wurde indes zur Rolle Frankreichs innerhalb der internationalen verdeckten Polizei-Konspiration bekannt. Mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit haben auch französische Behörden Spitzel in internationalen Bewegungen platziert. Die ehemalige Innenministerin Michèle Alliot-Marie schuf 2008 den Begriff einer “anarcho-autonomen Bewegung”, die über beste Kontakte ins Ausland verfüge. Auf dem Konstrukt basierte nicht nur eine der spektakulärsten Repressionswellen (Hakenkrallen “Made in Germany”?) der letzten Jahre, es half auch bei der Reorganisation des französischen Polizeiapparates. Anlässlich des deutsch-französischen NATO-Gipfels 2009 wurde die bilaterale Polizeizusammenarbeit in den höchsten Tönen gelobt. Das dürfte auch für internationale Spitzel-Teams gelten, die beiderseits der Grenze Vorbereitungstreffen und Informationsveranstaltungen infiltriert hatten.

“Greetings from America!”

Scheinbar kooperieren nicht nur die Polizeien der EU untereinander, gespitzelt wird auch auf Ebene der G8-Staaten. Anders ist es nicht zu erklären, dass eine FBI-Informantin Kontakt zu Aktivisten der G8-Proteste in Gleneagles aufnehmen wollte. “Greetings from America!”, schrieb eine “Anna”, die zuvor im Zusammenhang mit der Verhaftung von drei US-Umweltaktivisten der Organisation “Earth First!” geholfen hatte. “Anna” pries ausdrücklich ihre angeblichen Erfahrungen bei der Vorbereitung rund um den G8 2004 in den USA an.

Der britische Polizist Mark Kennedy soll andersherum über eine – ungewöhnlich lange – Arbeitserlaubnis (bis 2013) in den USA verfügen. Aktivisten hatten ihn zufällig in New York getroffen. Auf seine Aktivitäten angesprochen erklärte der 41jährige, er würde sich dort mit Protagonisten der Gipfelproteste gegen den japanischen G8 2008 treffen, die zu der Zeit auf einer Rundreise in den USA gewesen waren.

Auch das BKA hatte japanische Behörden anlässlich des Gipfels mit Informationen über die unter absurden Vorwürfen durchgeführten Razzien kurz vor dem deutschen G8-Gipfel beliefert und über womöglich zu erwartende deutsche antikapitalistische Gruppen berichtet, darunter die “Interventionistische Linke”, das Netzwerk “Dissent!” und andere Anti G8-Bündnisse. “Nach Einschätzung der Bundesregierung ist Japan an den deutschen Erfahrungen interessiert”, schrieb die Bundesregierung in ihrer Antwort auf eine Kleine Anfrage. Entsprechende Informationen würden auch künftig “auf japanische Anfrage, soweit möglich”, zur Verfügung gestellt.

Ziercke wird im Spiegel zitiert, er habe für die grenzüberschreitende Spitzelei “stets Lob von Seiten der Politik bekommen”. Gut möglich, dass die spätestens 2005 in Schwung gekommene internationale Ausleihe verdeckter Ermittler auch zur Ausforschung der Proteste in Japan genutzt wurde. Womöglich arbeiten deutsche Polizisten auch mit Undercover-Kollegen aus den USA zusammen. Die Kooperation mit Russland, ebenfalls G8-Staat, scheint indes an Relikten des Kalten Krieges zu scheitern.

Die britischen Spitzel “Marco Jacobs” und “Lynn Watson” hatten zwar die aus Großbritannien 2006 vorbereiteten Proteste unterwandert. Ihre angekündigte Teilnahme an Gegenaktivitäten in St. Petersburg sagten sie indes kurzerhand ab. Geargwöhnt wird, dass russische Behörden die Reise mit falschen Papieren nicht genehmigten.

Private Mehrfachverwertung im Polizeisold erlangter Informationen

Die Enttarnung britischer Spitzel lieferte bereits Hinweise auf eine Beteiligung privater Sicherheitsfirmen an der Ausspähung politischer Bewegungen. Der Polizist Mark Kennedy hatte etwa zwei eigene Unternehmen gegründet und zu einem anderen, “Global Open”, gute Beziehungen unterhalten. Nach Analyse einer kürzlich online gestellten Übersicht von Kennedys Einsatzzielen kristallisieren sich zwei Tätigkeitsfelder heraus: Gipfelproteste gegen EU und G8 sowie Aktionen und Kampagnen gegen Energieversorger und Rüstungsunternehmen. Betroffene Firmen waren etwa der deutsche Kraftwerksbetreiber E.ON sowie Shell und BP.

Nach eigenen Angaben arbeitet Kennedy seit Frühjahr 2010 nicht mehr für die britische Polizei. Trotzdem war er weiter aktiv, darunter zu Tierrechtsaktivismus, dem bevorstehenden G8 in Frankreich oder anlässlich einer Antirepressionskonferenz in Hamburg. Angesichts von Kennedys Firmengründungen drängt sich der Verdacht auf, dass er sowohl seine im Polizeidienst erlangten Kontakte wie Informationen auch privat verkaufte. Diese Mehrfachverwertung könnte er auch praktiziert haben, als er im Sold der deutschen Länderpolizeien stand.

Besonders dubios gestaltete sich Kennedys Aufenthalt in Island im Rahmen der Proteste gegen das größte Staudammvorhaben Europas, den Kárahnjúkar-Damm. Das Projekt dient der Energieversorgung für den US-Stahlkonzern Alcoa, der seine Aluminiumproduktion wegen gestiegener Löhne nach Island auslagert. Die gigantische Baustelle wird vom italienischen Baukonzern Impregilo betrieben. Die Firma, die beste Beziehungen mit Ministerpräsident Silvio Berlusconi pflegt und seine Karriere finanzierte, erhielt den Zuschlag offensichtlich durch gute Beziehungen Berlusconis mit dem damaligen Ministerpräsident David Oddson.

Die Auftraggeber für Kennedys Island-Einsatz liegen im Dunkeln. Bisher schien es, dass die Polizei nicht von seiner Anwesenheit informiert war. Nachdem der neue Innenminister die Polizeiführung zu einem Bericht verdonnert hat, rudert die Behörde vorsichtig zurück.

Im Rahmen seiner Infiltration der isländischen Klimabewegung hatte Kennedy einen Artikel für ein Buch über die “Saving Iceland”-Kampagne verfasst, das von den Aktivisten selbst herausgegeben wurde. Der Polizist schrieb ausgerechnet über Polizeigewalt und Antirepression, das Pamphlet liest sich wie sein geringfügig umgeschriebener Polizei-Rapport: “The Icelandic police had had very little experience in dealing with protest compared to police forces in other countries throughout Europe and further afield. They are also thin on the ground, a fact that had repercussions later on.”

Der Text ist mit Phrasen und Floskeln angereichert, um – in der Rückschau betrachtet – vielleicht Druck auf seine Arbeitgeber auszuüben und damit seine Weiterbeschäftigung zu befördern: “The environmental destruction that is happening throughout Iceland and beyond will continue to be protested and fought against regardless of police tactics or corporate intimidation”.

Auch für das in den USA erscheinende umweltaktivistische “Earth First! Journal” verfasste Kennedy unter dem Pseudonym “Lumsk” einen Artikel über Island. “Earth First!” wird von US-Behörden teilweise als terroristische Organisation kriminalisiert.

Deutscher Kraftwerksbetreiber E.ON kauft “diskrete Beobachtung”

Die europaweit in beträchtlicher Zahl anrückenden Undercover-Polizisten ärgern sich über ihre Kollegen aus der Privatwirtschaft und beklagen, dass Firmen inzwischen mehr Spitzel in politischen Bewegungen platziert hätten als die Polizei.

Letzte Woche hatte die Tageszeitung Guardian berichtet, wie die deutsche E.ON und andere britische Unternehmen Aktivisten ausspähen ließen. Auftragnehmer war beispielsweise die Firma Vericola, die auf ihrer Webseite mit 90 Kunden wirbt und eine “diskrete Beobachtung” politischer Gruppen, die den “Ruf einer Firma ruinieren” könnten, anbietet.

E.ON hatte auch die Firma “Global Open” mit Spitzel-Diensten beauftragt, von einer Zusammenarbeit mit dem Polizisten Mark Kennedy distanziert sich das Unternehmen jedoch. Auf Indymedia wurde kürzlich enthüllt, dass ein “Paul Mercer” für “Global Open” gearbeitet hatte und Umweltgruppen sowie Tierrechtsaktivisten infiltriere. Mercer war mindestens fünf Jahre lang aktiv. Zu seinen Auftraggebern gehörte auch der Waffenkonzern BAE.

Ausgeforscht wurden von “Global Open” auch Protestgruppen gegen den G20-Gipfel in London und den Ausbau des Heathrow-Flughafens. Weitere Firmen, die ehemalige Undercover-Polizisten unter Vertrag nahmen, war die “Inkerman Group” und “C2i International”. Beide unterwanderten die Kampagne “Plane Stupid”, die sich gegen zunehmenden Flugverkehr zur Wehr setzt.

“Global Open” -Chefin Rebecca Todd behauptet, lediglich Quellen aus “Open Intelligence” abgeschöpft zu haben. Dies wurde dem Guardian auch von E.ON so diktiert. Der Spiegel hatte E.ON eine Stellungnahme abgerungen, nach der das Unternehmen den Auftrag gab, “Informationen aus öffentlich zugänglichen Quellen, insbesondere Websites, zu sammeln, zu bewerten und zur Verfügung zu stellen”. “Vericola” habe keinen Auftrag bekommen, Email-Services zu nutzen oder an Veranstaltungen teilzunehmen.

Tatsächlich hat Todd jedoch elektronische Adressen eingerichtet und diese auf politische Mailinglisten gesetzt. Die Indiskretion wurde bekannt durch die offensichtlich unerfahrene Nutzung ihres Blackberry-Mobiltelefons, über das sie mehrere für Mitarbeiter bestimmte Emails an die ausgeforschten Listen weiterleitete. Laut Aktivisten waren die Mailinglisten allerdings geschlossen; zum Subscribieren müssen Interessierte zuvor an Treffen teilgenommen haben. Tatsächlich wurde Todd unter anderem von 2007 bis 2008 regelmäßig bei der Umweltschutzorganisation “Rising Tide” gesehen.

Mitarbeiter der Firma haben indes durchaus an handfesten Protesten teilgenommen: “You need to send an email to [email protected]”, instruierte Todd einen ihrer Mitarbeiter in einer bekanntgewordenen Mail. “Say that you want to go Sunday and that this is your first time of direct action.”

How to Read Gates’s Shift on the Wars

March 3rd, 2011 by Ray McGovern

In Establishment Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates enjoys a charmed life based on a charming persona. The Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) is always ready with fulsome praise for his “candor” and “leadership” – and even for his belated recognition that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were nuts.

“Certain kinds of public candor are so unexpected that they have the shock value of a gunshot at the opera,” purred a Boston Globe editorial about Gates’s admission that only a crazy person would commit U.S. ground forces to wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The editorial then lamented Gates’s planned retirement later this year and urged President Barack Obama “to look hard for a successor with some of Gates’s unusual leadership qualities.” Unusual leadership qualities, indeed.

Without doubt, it was surprising when Gates inserted the following comment into the tenth paragraph of a speech last Friday at West Point:

“But in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”

However, those of us who have known Gates for many years, including some of us old colleagues from his CIA days, couldn’t help but wonder what he was up to, what was the ulterior motive behind his decision to put distance between himself and these two misbegotten wars.

The Bob Gates we knew was a bright and brightly ambitious careerist whose greatest skill might have been to sense quickly where the prevailing winds of power were blowing and position himself accordingly. He was the consummate windsock.

So, having overseen the two wars for more than four years now, was Gates signaling that he knew the conflicts would come to no good end and thus was he creating a public record for himself as something of a war skeptic?

Was he preparing for his next career move, an elevation to a Washington “wise man” to be consulted by presidents and other important personages in his later years while being named to prestigious commissions?

What was Gates thinking?

I’m willing to acknowledge that Gates is bright enough to arrive at the same sensible conclusion that MacArthur derived from his hard experience in the Korean War – that the United States must avoid future land wars in Asia.

Gates also might be following in the footsteps of other secretaries of defense, including Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld, who went wobbly on the efficacy of warfare. After all, Gates got Rumsfeld’s job in 2006, in part, because Rumsfeld questioned President George W. Bush’s plan to escalate in Iraq.

Maybe the wool of self-deception was finally lifted from Gates’s eyes, too.

In 2006, Gates might have been understandably blinded by the allure of returning to center stage in Washington, after cooling his heels during the Clinton administration and the first six years of the second Bush presidency, working mostly at Texas A&M, including a stint as the school’s president.

For someone with Gates’s intense ambition, it would be hard not to jump at the prospect of running the Defense Department, especially in wartime. He has always claimed that he took the post reluctantly, saddened to leave behind the Aggies, but that claim never washed with those of us who knew Gates well.

Urges for Surges

In his first months at the Pentagon, Gates certainly didn’t seem like a hesitant skeptic about the war policies. He played a key role in helping President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney escalate the war in Iraq and thus make their escape into the sunset without having lost a war on their watch.

That was 90 percent of what the celebrated “surge” of troops into Iraq was about, staving off an obvious defeat, even if it cost the lives of an additional 1,000 or so U.S. soldiers and many more Iraqis. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Afghan Lessons from the Iraq War."]

Then, after he was kept on by Obama, Gates supported a similar “surge” in Afghanistan, pushing for a 40,000-troop increase in late 2009. Obama groused that Gates and the generals wouldn’t provide a meaningful set of alternative options to the escalation, but Obama finally relented and sent 30,000 more troops.

So, it would seem an odd swing for Gates to suggest now that psychiatric care is in order for anyone loony enough to commit U.S. ground forces to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, that was pretty much what Gates had done.

What’s Behind the Change?

I’ll acknowledge that Gates may have come to his newfound skepticism about these ground wars honestly, sincerely distraught by the continued loss of life as the bloody conflicts grind on with no real end in sight.

Yet, I would venture to suggest that – more likely – the timing of Gates’s conversion can be pinned on two other factors, a typically windsock reaction to recent polling on Afghanistan and an attempt to burnish his future wise-man reputation:

–U.S. public opinion has swung dramatically against the war in Afghanistan, with some polls showing that as many as 86 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans want a speedier U.S. pullout from the war.

–Gates has announced he will retire in the coming months. By abandoning his post on the bridge of the sinking pro-war ship now, Gates will let the next secretary of defense take the blame when the U.S. does not “prevail” in Afghanistan. Gates can point to his echoing of MacArthur’s warning.

I base this assessment, in part, on having observed Gates very closely in the early 1970s when I headed the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch at CIA and had supervisory responsibilities for Gates.

Within months of his arrival as a new analyst, his overweening careerist ambitions became all too obvious to his analyst colleagues as well as to me, and became a disruptive influence on the whole branch.

I felt it necessary to record this on his first Efficiency Report and to counsel him about his behavior. However, he didn’t change. He only became more proficient at climbing the career ladder and stepping over anyone who got in his way.

Gates made his first big jump early in the Reagan administration under CIA Director William Casey, a Cold War hardliner who disapproved of the careful, objective work on the Soviet Union done by experienced analysts of Soviet Communism.

Casey found Gates to be more pliable, willing to cook up the analytical results that Casey and the White House wanted.

The cooking was consequential, too. It facilitated not only illegal capers like the Iran-Contra Affair but also budget-breaking military spending against an exaggerated Soviet threat that, in reality, had long since passed its peak.

Talk to anyone who was there at the time (except the sycophants Gates co-opted) and they will explain that Gates’s meteoric career had mostly to do with his uncanny ability to see a Russian under every rock turned over by Casey.

To Casey, the Soviet Union could never change, and Mikhail Gorbachev was simply cleverer than his predecessors. Gates eagerly seconded these opinions.  

The aging Casey may have been ideologically stuck in the most frigid days of the Cold War, but Gates – with his earlier training in our Soviet Foreign Policy branch (and a doctorate in Russian history no less) – should have known better. Yet he did Casey’s bidding and stifled all dissent.

One consequence was that the CIA as an institution missed the implosion of the Soviet Union — no small matter. Another was a complete loss of confidence in CIA analysis on the part of then-Secretary of State George Shultz and others who smelled the cooking of the intelligence.

In July 1987, Shultz told Congress: “I had come to have grave doubts about the objectivity and reliability of some of the intelligence I was getting.” And well he might.

Gates in Iran-Contra

In the fall of 1985, as Ronald Reagan’s White House was looking for excuses to secretly sell arms to Iran, there was an abrupt departure from CIA’s analytical line that Iran was supporting terrorism.

On Nov. 22, 1985, the agency reported that Iranian-sponsored terrorism had dropped off substantially that year, but no evidence was adduced to support that key judgment. Oddly, a few months later CIA’s analysis reverted back to the pre-November 1985 line, with no further mention of any drop-off in Iranian support for terrorism.

Also in 1985, Gates commissioned and warped a National Intelligence Estimate suggesting that Soviet influence in Iran could soon grow and pose a danger to U.S. interests. This gave additional cover for the illegal arms sales to Iran.

More serious still was Gates’s denial of any awareness of Oliver North’s illegal activities in support of the Contra attacks in Nicaragua, despite the fact that senior CIA officials testified that they had informed Gates that they suspected North had diverted funds from the Iranian arms sales for the benefit of the Contras.

Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel for the Iran-Contra investigation (1986-93), later wrote in frustration that, despite Gates’s highly touted memory, he “denied recollection of facts thirty-three times.”

Gates’s dubious explanations about the Iran-Contra scandal forced the withdrawal of his first nomination to be CIA director when he was supposed to replace Casey who died in May 1987. Gates’s career appeared to be at a dead end, but in 1989, President George H.W. Bush gave him a spot as deputy national security adviser.

Then, in 1991, when the first President Bush was riding high from his victory in the Persian Gulf War, he decided to roll the dice on placing Gates in as CIA director. The nomination prompted a virtual insurrection among CIA analysts who had suffered under Gates’s penchant for cooking intelligence.

Witness after witness explained that Gates was one of the officials most responsible for institutionalizing the politicization of intelligence analysis. He had set the example and promoted malleable managers more interested in career advancement than the ethos of speaking truth to power.

The stakes for analytical integrity were so high that both active-duty and retired officials summoned the courage to testify against the nomination. A highly respected former CIA station chief, Tom Polgar, offered the following at the Gates nomination hearings:

“His proposed appointment as director also raises moral issues. What kind of signal does his re-nomination send to the [CIA] troops? Live long enough, your sins will be forgotten? Serve faithfully the boss of the moment, never mind integrity?

“Feel free to mislead the Senate — senators forget easily? Keep your mouth shut — if the Special Counsel does not get you, promotion will come your way?”

Despite the remarkable outpouring of protests, however, the fix for Gates was in, thanks to then-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, David Boren, D-Oklahoma, and his staff director, George Tenet, who cut off lines of inquiries and rounded up the votes.

Still, the issue of politicization and doubts about Gates’s honesty led 31 senators to vote against Gates on the Senate floor. Never before had a CIA director nominee received nearly as many nays.

Fall and Rise

After Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1993, he replaced Gates, who retreated to the Pacific Northwest to write his memoir and then look for work. Again, the Bush Family intervened to help, assisting Gates in landing jobs at Texas A&M, where he rose to be the school’s president.

However, Gates with his Eagle Scout demeanor remained a favorite with much of the Washington Establishment – and he was heartily welcomed back in 2006 when he arrived to work on the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group.

Before the panel’s work was done, though, President George W. Bush decided to dump Rumsfeld, who was going wobbly on the Iraq War. Bush asked Gates to take over at the Pentagon. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "Rumsfeld's Mysterious Resignation."]

In the brief Senate hearing on the Gates nomination, the troubling Iran-Contra history – and the politicization of CIA intelligence – were happily forgotten.

At the Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius rewrote the narrative of Gates’s meteoric rise at the CIA, explaining it as a case of worthy meritocracy, that Gates simply “was the brightest Soviet analyst in the [CIA] shop, so Casey soon appointed him deputy director overseeing his fellow analysts.”

Gates wasn’t; and Casey had something other than analytical expertise in mind.

Now, the savvy Gates appears to have made a new calculation, that it is the right time to join the rats leaving the sinking ship of the Iraq and Afghan war policies.

As I’ve noted, Gates is not dumb. In his mind, there’s no dishonor in doing what he must to preserve and even enhance his reputation as a Washington Establishment savant.

Still, his appeal to the West Point cadets about “duty, honor, country” was a little much for this former Army officer. Gates noted that 80 young West Point cadets had fallen in battle since 9/11 – and surely some in his audience will join them.

They will come back lifeless in what the Pentagon now calls “transfer cases” from the feckless wars that Gates only now tells us should qualify any supporter for a visit to the local shrink.

And, if the Boston Globe editorial is any harbinger, Gates may have calculated another smart move. He may have greased the skids for his slide into wise-man-dom. I can visualize a new chapter in Gates’s second memoir, “How I Issued MacArthur-Type Warnings All Along.”

Were I the parent of Casey Sheehan or one of the nearly 6,000 other U.S. soldiers killed in Bush’s two wars, well, I cannot imagine how I could control my anger.

And my outrage would be heightened at hearing Gates “protest too much” as he finished his “Farewell Address” Friday at West Point:

“As some of you have heard me say before, you need to know that I feel personally responsible for each and every one of you, as if you were my own sons and daughters; for as long as I am secretary of defense that will remain true. … I bid you farewell and ask God to bless every one of you.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. In the Sixties he served as an infantry/intelligence officer and then became a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Ivory Coast fighting spreads to southern Abidjan

March 3rd, 2011 by Global Research

Baku – APA. Explosions rocked the southern Abidjan suburb of Koumassi overnight and on Wednesday, as fighting between insurgents seeking to oust Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo and security forces spread to new areas of the main city, APA reports quoting “Reuters”.

Security in the world’s top cocoa grower is deteriorating, with gun battles between rival forces most of last week and hostilities resuming across a north-south ceasefire line that had been largely quiet since a 2002-3 war ended in stalemate.

Ivory Coast has been in turmoil since a disputed November election between Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara, who won the poll according to U.N.-certified results that Gbabgo has refused to concede.
Fighting has mostly been restricted to northern pro-Ouattara suburb of Abobo, where an insurgent force calling itself the invisible commandos has seized control of most of the territory and forced out pro-Gbagbo security forces.

Gunfire has also been heard much closer to the central business district. Across the other side of town, residents of Koumassi said fierce fighting had flared up there too.

“Since last night there have been a lot of military on the streets. They said they are looking for insurgents who have infiltrated the neighborhood,” said student Eloise Kouassi. “The traffic is dead: everyone is staying in.”

ELECTION

November’s election was meant to heal divisions sown by a 2002-3 civil war that left the country divided into a rebel-run north and government-run south, but the dispute has worsened divisions and killed well over 300 people since November.

The U.N. says the number of Ivorian refugees in Liberia has reached 68,000, with another 40,000 internally displaced.

“We’re hearing explosions and gunfire in Koumassi. No one is outside except the military,” said Patrice Gore, 31, a mechanic who lives there. “We hit the ground every time we hear them.”

On Tuesday, Gbagbo’s notoriously xenophobic youth supporters rampaged through Abidjan’s central business district, pillaging shops owned by foreigners.

The crisis has had a catastrophic impact on Ivory Coast’s economy, with international banks shutting down, shops shuttering up and bars and restaurants empty at night.

 

 

Crete. © Flickr.com/ana gasston/cc-by-nc



Around 400 US Marines were dispatched on Thursday to a US base on the Greek Island of Crete ahead of their deployment on warships off Libya, a US military spokesman said.  

Earlier this week, the USS Kearsage and the USS Ponce steamed into the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal en route to Libya.

The Kearsage amphibious assault ship, with about 800 marines, a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities on board, could support humanitarian efforts as well as military operations. 

 KBR's Foreign Contractors at Guantanamo Spared Controversial Anti-Malarial Drug Given to Detainees
The detention center at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Photo: Todd Heisler / The New York Times)

The Defense Department has claimed it took the unprecedented step of forcing all “war on terror” detainees sent to Guantanamo in 2002 to take a high dosage of a controversial anti-malarial drug known to have severe side effects because the government was concerned the disease could be reintroduced into Cuba by detainees arriving from malaria-endemic countries Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But hundreds of contractors who were hired by Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), at the time a subsidiary of Halliburton, the oil services firm formerly headed by Dick Cheney, from malaria-endemic countries such as the Philippines and India and tasked with building Guantanamo’s Camp Delta facility in early 2002 did not receive the same type of medical treatment, calling into question the Pentagon’s rationale of mass presumptive treatment of detainees with the drug mefloquine, a Truthout investigation has found.

Numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and public health experts have linked mefloquine, also known by its brand name, Lariam, with severe side effects, including vertigo, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, bizarre dreams, sores and homicidal and suicidal thoughts.

Indeed, a 2002 study reported that upwards of 80 to over 90 percent of all healthy volunteers administered treatment doses of mefloquine suffered either vertigo or nausea. According to the study by Austrian researchers, “Participants suffering from severe (grade 3) vertigo (73 percent) required bed rest and specific medication for 1 to 4 days.”

Last December, Truthout published an investigative report that, for the first time, revealed details of a previously secret government policy that called for all detainees sent to Guantanamo to be given 1,250 milligrams – the treatment dosage – of mefloquine, regardless if they had malaria or not.

Defense Department spokeswoman Maj. Tanya Bradsher told Truthout a “decision was made” to “presumptively treat each arriving Guantanamo detainee for malaria to prevent the possibility of having mosquito-borne [sic] spread from an infected individual to uninfected individuals in the Guantanamo population, the guard force, the population at the Naval base or the broader Cuban population.”

Capt. Albert Shimkus, who was head of the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo and the chief surgeon for Joint Task Force 160, told Truthout the hundreds of contractors who arrived at Guantanamo in March 2002 to construct prison camps were the medical responsibility of the contracting agency, which was KBR.

Shimkus, who signed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in January 2002 authorizing the 1,250 mg dosage of mefloquine for all Guantanamo detainees, said he was told by KBR personnel, during a meeting around that time at separate medical facilities used by the firm at the naval base, that contractors were taking malaria prophylaxis drugs and would remain on such drugs while they remained on the island.

Shimkus said he could not recall what anti-malarial drugs the contractors were taking, but he believed they were not given treatment doses of mefloquine.

Chemical prophylaxis of malaria is not necessary in areas where the disease is not endemic, except for a few weeks after leaving a malaria-endemic area, according to tropical disease experts.

Gabriela Segura, a spokeswoman for KBR, told Truthout that KBR provided “immunizations against diseases and harmful agents endemic to each employee’s destination in accordance with the recommendations of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, International SOS, and the World Health Organization.”

However, Segura said KBR could not identify the anti-malarial drug administered to the corporation’s contractors at Guantanamo.

Bradsher, the Defense Department spokeswoman, referred all questions about the treatment of contractors to KBR, stating that the firm is “responsible for its own contractors.”

Shimkus said he never reviewed medical records or other documents pertaining to KBR contractors to verify they were being treated with anti-malarial medications, nor did he inquire about the medical status of any of the workers brought to Guantanamo. Instead, he said he relied on assurances from KBR.

“I was confident,” Shimkus told Truthout, “that, based on the information we were receiving from [KBR], that the malaria situation was under control, and they understood the environment they were coming into, and they were all using chemical prophylaxis.”

Relying on the contracting agency is consistent with a Defense Department document from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) entitled “Special Conditions for Guantanamo Bay Projects.”

The October 2004 document, which was issued while mefloquine treatment was still an active policy at Guantanamo, states that contractors “shall screen prospective employees with the objective to exclude those with admitted chronic disorders from traveling to Guantanamo Bay.”

It notes that contracting firms such as KBR shall make “Every reasonable attempt … to prevent personnel with chronic disorders, which may require treatment, such as cardiovascular defects, tuberculosis, mental health problems, and alcoholism, from being sent to Guantanamo Bay.”

While the NAVFAC document puts primary responsibility for the health of contract workers onto the contracting agency, a KBR statement provided to Truthout puts the onus for extraordinary health measures on the Department of Defense.

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As described by Segura, KBR’s policy notes that it looks “to the client to determine if any added health measures are necessary for employees, contractors or subcontractors.” According to their policy, “Any guidance as to additional health procedures will then be incorporated at the direction of the client.”

According to a public health expert who previously spoke to Truthout about the questionable practice of administering high doses of mefloquine to detainees, the only anti-malarial drug that would have eliminated the malaria parasite at infectious stages of its life cycle was primaquine. That drug is only administered for two weeks, yet Shimkus indicated that KBR contractors took anti-malarial drugs for the entirety of their stay at Guantanamo, and that more than one drug was used, depending on the worker’s country of origin. It’s not known if foreign contract workers were given primaquine because Segura said KBR was unable to locate any individuals at the corporation who would be in a position to disclose the drugs the firm gave its contract employees.

Cuban Government Concerns 

In a second report Truthout published last December on the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo, Shimkus said one of the reasons the Pentagon took the extraordinary step of implementing a policy of mass presumptive treatment was to address concerns raised by Cuban government officials about the possibility of reintroducing malaria into the country.

The benefits of mass empiric treatment of detainees, although unprecedented, “outweighed the risks,” Shimkus said.

An emailed request for comment sent to the Washington, DC office of the Cuban Interests Section, an organization established in 1977 to foster dialogue between US and Cuban diplomats, was not returned.

A Hurried Hiring Process 

The hiring of low-wage contractors to work at Guantanamo was fraught with controversy. A report published in Asia Times in July 2006 stated that KBR’s hiring process was kept “under wraps by both the US and Philippine governments.”

Using a Philippine recruitment agency with ties to KBR, Asia Times reported that the Philippines and the US agreed that “all worker travel documents and recruitment requirements would be expedited in just a few hours by US embassy officials.”

“According to people familiar with the situation, the Guantanamo-bound Filipino workers were allegedly slipped out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport without passing through standard immigration procedures and left Manila onboard a chartered flight to Cuba,” Asia Times reported.

That story is backed up by a news report published in August 2002 by Filipino-American journalist Rick Rocamora, who interviewed one of the contract employees from the Philippines. According to Rocamora’s account, “the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration [POEA] received a phone call from the US Embassy and the Philippine Ambassador in Washington D.C. to expedite approval.”

The approvals, which reportedly can take some months to process, were rushed through within 24 hours and the workers “transported on a chartered DC-10 Greece-registered Electra Airlines direct to the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay with refueling stops in Dubai, Greece, and Portugal.”

Segura, the KBR spokeswoman, said, “As a matter of practice, KBR provides medical mobilization physicals prior to employees deploying to international projects.”

The speed with which the contract workers were recruited and sent to Guantanamo raises questions as to whether KBR, POEA and its subcontractors had sufficient time to assess the newly hired workers for malaria or other diseases. Neither POEA nor Anglo-European Services, cited in reports by Rocamora and Asia Times as the local recruitment agency for the workers in the Philippines, returned requests for comment.

Both India and the Philippines have higher risk profiles of transmission of the deadly falciparum variant of malaria than does Afghanistan. In India in 2002, there were 1.86 million cases of malaria, over 40 percent from the deadly falciparum strain, and most parts of the country are considered to have high transmission rates of the vivax form of the disease. Almost 1,000 people died of malaria in India in 2002.

In the Philippines, there is a great deal of variability of risk depending on the region of the country, but 57 out of 79 provinces are considered malaria-endemic. Confirmed cases of malaria in the Philippines from 2002 to 2005 went from approximately 38,000 to over 50,000 cases per year.

Lingering Questions 

Defense Department officials have claimed US personnel stationed at Guantanamo were not given treatment or prophylactic doses of mefloquine or any other anti-malarial medication because their concerns about the disease rested solely on its reintroduction into Cuba by foreign nationals and not on malaria of Cuban origin.

However, the Defense Department’s reasoning for developing a policy of mass presumptive treatment for detainees, and detainees only, using the drug mefloquine raises questions about other possibilities as to why the drug was administered.

A report by Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research last December, issued at the same time Truthout released the findings of our investigation, stated that treatment doses of mefloquine on all the detainees, without an accepted medical rationale by any public health official willing to publicly support the policy, could be attributed to a medical experiment, “gross medical malpractice” or possibly one of three other possibilities, any of which “would likely satisfy the legal definition of torture as articulated by the Department of Justice in 2002.”

Shimkus has vehemently denied that mefloquine was used for any other purpose. He said the policy of mass presumptive treatment was enacted following discussions he and other military officials had with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) and the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (AFMIC) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, which is part of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The human intelligence division of DIA was one of the primary agencies involved in the interrogations of the detainees.

Shimkus said he also answered to a medical chain of command that ran through the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), indicating that senior Pentagon officials would have been knowledgeable about the policy. He said he could not recall the name of the official to whom he reported.

CDC has refused repeated requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (formerly NEHC) indicated no response was available for publication at press time. Truthout’s request for comment was being “coordinated through the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and may require additional coordination and permission through the Chief of Naval Information offices in Washington, DC.”

A defense official who spoke to Truthout on background said the role of AFMIC, now known as the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), is to provide “infectious disease risk assessments in support of US military and civilian force protection measures. NCMI’s function does not include prescribing treatment or making treatment policies.”

The defense official also noted the importance of using anti-malaria drugs “where malaria risks are heightened.” However, he would not directly comment on what AFMIC told Guantanamo officials in 2002.

German Imperialism and the Crisis in Libya

March 3rd, 2011 by Peter Schwarz

As Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has faced increasing internal opposition from the working masses and sections of his own regime, Germany has emerged as a full-fledged participant in the great power drive for imperialist intervention in Libya.

Already a week ago the German navy sent three warships with 600 soldiers on board to the Libyan coast—at a time when the United States was still contemplating its response. At the end of last week, two German military Transall planes flew from Crete to Libya, ostensibly to rescue EU citizens from the Al-Nafoura oil installation. Several paratroop units trained for covert operations behind enemy lines had joined the Transall units in Crete.

The German media has pushed for a Libyan no-fly zone. As in Iraq, this would be the first step towards targeting Libya’s warplanes and seizing control of Libya’s air space. The media has also pressed for the seizure of Libyan funds abroad.

These measures are justified on humanitarian grounds—to protect the insurgent population from the Gaddafi regime. Such humanitarian pretexts are utterly cynical and without any credibility. There were no similar proposals for German forces to be deployed to evacuate European civilians from other pro-Western regimes—such as Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen—that fired upon their people in the course of the mass uprisings sweeping North Africa and the Middle East.

The reasons why media and state officials advocate different treatment for Libya are not hard to fathom. Libya is large, sparsely populated, and contains massive reserves of a critical commodity that it exports in large quantities to Europe—oil. It offers a more tempting target for direct plunder by Western imperialism, which continues to stagger under the shocks of the global economic crisis.

German corporations have developed extensive interests in Libya since 2004, when then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat, first visited Gaddafi. BASF subsidiary Wintershall, based on an investment of $2 billion, has developed into the largest foreign oil producer in Libya. German industrial companies such as Siemens are also heavily involved in Libya, earning large sums from infrastructure projects financed by Libya’s oil revenues.

Germany, no less than the United States and the other imperialist powers, fears the implications of a political vacuum should Gaddafi fall. It is currently unclear who is leading the opposition movement. In interviews from Benghazi and other cities held by anti-Gaddafi forces, many people have made clear that they oppose an intervention by the great powers.

Libya, which suffered heavily under the colonial rule of Italy, has a long tradition of anti-imperialist struggle—a tradition that Gaddafi exploited before he made his peace with imperialism.

To defend the investments German corporations worked out with the Gaddafi dictatorship, Berlin must be able to threaten—and, therefore, to use—military force. This is a major reason why the German army and navy are sending forces to the region.

The open assertion of Berlin’s imperialist appetites goes hand-in-hand with the resurgence of public rivalry with other imperialist powers for the division of the spoils. Commenting on Westerwelle’s performance in Geneva, Spiegel Online wrote: “Germany is playing an active role in the Mediterranean and not conceding terrain to France and Italy, which are more compromised than Berlin due to their links with former and existing potentates in North Africa. After initial hesitation regarding the rulers in Tunisia and Egypt, the foreign minister was quite blunt in the case of Libya.”

The precipitate and reckless haste of the German ruling elite to flex its military muscle in Libya suggests that it sees the crisis there as an opportunity to shed whatever remnants remain of the post-World War II restrictions on the German military.

For Germany, intervention in Libya represents a further step towards the country’s full return to the circle of major powers. It follows the country’s participation in both the 1999 Kosovo war and the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and a concerted campaign by leading German politicians to overcome the anti-militarist sentiment in the German population—the product of the devastating experiences of Nazism and two world wars.

After German President Horst Köhler resigned last May to protest criticisms of his statement that Germany’s Afghan deployment aimed to protect economic interests, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg publicly advocated the use of military forces to defend German economic interests.

The main political brake preventing the spread of imperialist war throughout the Middle East, and ultimately the world, is opposition in the working masses. The great powers have not yet decided to openly dispatch troops to the Libyan mainland, fearing they could become trapped in an endless war against the population, as in Afghanistan, and that this could provoke popular opposition—both at home, where the wars are hated, and among the Middle Eastern masses who are now rising up against imperialist-backed dictatorships throughout the region.

This means, however, that the question of developing a new political perspective and political leadership for the rapidly developing struggles of the working class takes on the greatest urgency. The critical question is how the working class can fight the imperialist drive towards war.

Germany’s conservative government has been able to pursue its military aims unhindered due to the lack of any opposition by the established political parties, which have adopted openly pro-militarist and pro-imperialist positions and suppressed mass anti-war sentiment.

The chair of the Social Democratic (SPD) parliamentary fraction and former foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has expressly welcomed the UN Security Council sanctions and the German government’s support for them. His vice-chairman, Gernot Erler, supports a flight ban and a mandate under Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations. This clause was used by the US government to justify the Iraq war.

Support has also come from the camp of the Greens. On February 25, Green Party leader Claudia Roth attacked the German government for being too soft on Libya. “The deliberations by the EU for sanctions against the Gaddafi regime come too late and are more than overdue,” Roth said. She criticized the inaction of the European Union and called upon the government “to help shape EU policy against Gaddafi with a clear plan of action” and “push for a unified, rapid and effective sanctions policy.”

The Left Party has notably held back from commenting on the situation in Libya and has refrained from criticizing the deployment of the German navy along the Libyan coast, in common with the SPD and Greens. Instead, it is preparing to undermine and demobilize any opposition to a new war.

Executive member Christine Buchholz, who entered the Left Party as a member of the Linksruck (International Socialist) fraction, issued a short statement entitled “Libya: No Military Intervention.” In it she calls for an arms embargo but advises against a military intervention, arguing that it would drive “the people behind the regime and cost a lot of lives.”

This demonstrates the unprincipled role of the Left Party, which functions as an adviser to the German government on the best tactics to defend its imperialist interests. Buchholz does not advance a principled opposition to imperialist intervention in Libya, warning of the colonialist character of any sanctions by the great powers and insisting that it is the task of the Libyan masses themselves, not imperialism, to rid themselves of both Gaddafi and the Libyan bourgeoisie as a whole.

She speaks on behalf of neither the Libyan nor the German working class, which must see in Westerwelle and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as their counterparts in the SPD, their most bitter class enemies.

The social and political issues that have driven millions into the streets in the Maghreb and the Middle East—poverty, inequality, the lack of democratic rights—cannot be resolved within the framework of the capitalist system. These same issues are impelling millions of workers in Germany, Europe and throughout the world into struggle against the financial aristocracy and its ossified political system.

The struggle for democracy is inextricably linked to the struggle for workers’ power and the socialist transformation of society throughout the region and worldwide. German workers must demonstrate their solidarity with the Libyan and Arab workers by opposing any military intervention and mobilizing against the exploiters at home on the basis of socialist and internationalist policies.

Mixed Messages: Arabs Challenge Israeli Hasbara

March 3rd, 2011 by Ramzy Baroud

When the Libyan people took on their reviled dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, Israeli officials seemed puzzled by the alarming and unprecedented trend of popular awakenings in the Arab world.

Israel ‘s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has claimed that these awakenings are only proof of the ‘weakening’ of the Arabs – even at a time when international consensus points to the opposite conclusion.

According to Israeli daily, Haaretz, Lieberman has claimed, “the Arab world is becoming increasingly weakened.”

Worried perhaps that all rational analyses will show how Israel’s decade-long aggression has been a major contributing factor to instability in Middle East, Lieberman decided to dismiss the notion altogether. “Whoever thinks that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is part of the problems in the Middle East is trying to escape reality,” he said.

It must be a strange ‘reality’ which Lieberman subscribes to, but he isn’t the only Israeli official that sees the world through such tainted logic.

While Lieberman has settled on the realization that “it is clear to everyone…that the greatest danger they are facing is not Zionism, but rather Hamas and Jihad,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed into a different direction involving Iran and post-Mubarak Egypt .

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem , Netanyahu labored desperately to link some imagined Iranian designs into the future of Egypt . “The leaders in the West and the leaders in Tehran do not want the same future for Egypt ,” he claimed, according to the Jewish Tribune (February 24).

“American and European leaders want an Egypt that is free, democratic, peaceful and prosperous…On the other hand, leaders in Tehran want to see an Egypt that is crushed by that same iron despotism that has crushed human rights in Iran for the last three decades,” he said.

One is accustomed to hearing the flawed historical references of Israeli officials, but Netanyahu’s latest comments are truly baffling. Tehran ’s political involvement in Egypt was and remains nominal. Yet again, Israeli officials are interpreting the Middle East solely from the self-serving viewpoint of the Israeli political establishment itself.

This Israeli discourse is as old as the Israeli state. The initial narrative was predicated on the assumption of a unified party of ‘Arabs’ hell-bent on destroying a small, beleaguered Israel . The former represented all that was evil, extremist and anti-Western, and the latter embodied all that was good, democratic and civilized.

Maintaining this illusory discourse continues to be essential for Israel , for it serves multiple purposes and has long been the backbone of Israeli official hasbara, or propaganda. Even as the Israeli army demolished much of Gaza and killed and wounded nearly 7,000 Palestinian civilians in the 22-day military onslaught of 2008-09, the propaganda continued in full-force. It suggested that the loss of so many civilian lives was a price worth paying in order to uproot Islamic ‘extremism’ (as represented by Hamas).

Although Israeli propaganda has always been relentless, the Israeli official message in the face of popular Arab uprisings seems befuddled and unclear. The reason for this might be the fact that the current push for democracy – using largely non-violent means – in several Arab countries, took Israel by complete surprise. The Arab peoples’ desire for reforms and democratic change is utterly inconsistent with the image of Arabs shrewdly crafted by Israel and its friends in Western media. This image suggests that Arabs are simply incapable of affecting positive change, that they are inherently frenzied and un-democratic. Thus Israel , ‘the only democracy in the Middle East ’, can be trusted as an oasis of stability and democracy.

Israeli officials tried to infuse this tired message following the uprisings in North African Arab countries, but this time it seemed incoherent and was quickly overshadowed by the chants of millions of Arabs for democracy, freedom and social justice. 

Another reason behind the current failure of Israel to capitalize on the ongoing turmoil is that Israeli propaganda tends to precede – not follow – such upheavals. Israeli hasbra is most useful when Israel takes the initiative, determining the nature, scope, timing and location of the battle. 

The official propaganda that preceded the war on Gaza seemed more institutionalized than ever. Former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman was reportedly summoned by Tel Aviv to lead the PR effort. He said that the diplomatic and political campaign had been underway for months. The Guardian’s Chris McGreal, reporting on the campaign from Jerusalem during the war, quoted Gillerman as saying, “I was recruited by the foreign minister to coordinate Israel’s efforts and I have never seen all parts of a very complex machinery – whether it is the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the prime minister’s office, the police or the army – work in such co-ordination, being effective in sending out the message.”

Israeli hasbra had then worked in tandem with the Israeli military, leading to a most coordinated campaign of war and deceit. But when the Arab people revolted, starting in Tunisia , the belated Israeli response was confused.

Israeli officials warned, yet again, of some Islamic extremist menace at work involving Hamas and Hezbollah, and others warned of an Iranian plot. Some praised their fallen Arab allies, while taking pride in Israel for being a fortress of stability, while others called to speed up the ‘peace process’. Some denied any association between the absence of peace and Arab revolution. Meanwhile, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who duly accused Iran of attempting to exploit the situation, chastised Western countries for disowning their beleaguered allies in the region.

The fractured nature of the latest round of Israeli official propaganda could partly be blamed on the element of surprise. Israel , which bought into its own dehumanization of its Arab enemies for so long, couldn’t fathom such scenarios as popular non-violent revolutions underway in the Middle East .

But even if a solid, streamlined, and certainly well-financed Israeli hasbara campaign is launched to better manage Israel ’s crisis, one wonders if it could really make much of a difference. If a multi-million dollar campaign to hide or ‘explain’ the bloodbath wrought by Israel in Gaza in 2008-09 have largely failed, Israel cannot possibly succeed in hiding the fact that it is no longer the ‘only democracy in the Arab world’ – or that it was ever a true democracy to begin with.

 

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.

Venezuela : the Embattled Future

March 3rd, 2011 by Frederic F. Clairmont

“Our national security is threatened by the belligerent advance of a totalitarian communist power that is already at our doorsteps.  The airport and military facilities of Grenada [pop. 98,000] are swiftly being transformed by advanced weaponry and troops provided by Cuba and the Soviet Union. These aggressive strides pose a lethal threat not only to our democratic institutions in the United States but to all freedom-loving peoples in the entire western hemisphere. This scourge must be halted.” – US President Ronald Reagan, 1983 (The US-led invasion of Grenada in October 1983 was codenamed “Operation Urgent Fury”) 

“There is nothing in our system designed to exploit anyone.” – George Bush, US ambassador to the United Nations, December 1972 

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” – Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, quoted in the New York Times, November 2006

An earlier version of this paper was presented as a lecture on the eve of the 26 September 2010 legislative election for the renewal of the 165 seats in Venezuela’s National Assembly. That day will go down as a milestone in the history of the Americas for the election reflected a clash of two opposing and irreconcilable class forces that was being fought out within the country and internationally. You will understand that this is not a formal confrontation between two bourgeois prize-fighters whose class origins are identical. The electoral battle of September 2010 was the embodiment of the confrontation of contending class forces:  those fighting to preserve the existing social and propertied order, and those wishing to establish what its protagonists have baptized the socialism of the 21st century.

What is unique in this confrontation, whose outcome is of decisive importance for the region and beyond, is that it is an ideological and class war that transcends national frontiers. This is a point that we shall stress again and again. It epitomizes the globalization of the class struggle. There should be no doubt that this is a war waged by the open enemies of Venezuelan democracy, strutting under the name of freedom. The word “overthrow” is no longer in current usage. It has been replaced with the innocuous-sounding name of “regime change”, coined by the US State Department in the 1970s. The enemy is targeted for physical destruction and there are ample precedents for this since the end of World War 2. The Venezuelan administration of President Hugo Chavez and its socialist orientation has long become anathema to imperialism and its political jackals. The alpha and omega of all the latter’s policies is to annihilate any democratic order that rejects neocolonial hegemonism  and   the annexationist blueprints of imperialism.

It was Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), the renowned German military theorist, who spawned the aphorism that “war is politics by other means”. In Venezuela, what we are witnessing is that politics is the unrelenting class war pursued on the domestic front by violence, targeted political killings and overt sabotage with no holds barred. The US imperio leads the battle on the external front. The cardinal counter-revolutionary juggernaut that is the United States is joined to its vassal bourgeoisie in Latin America, Nato and elsewhere.  Successive US administrations  since 1945,  despite their repetitive  babble  on the virtues of  “representative government” and “human rights”, have sedulously battled and bled the forces of national liberation  universally. In the universe of imperial-dominated hegemonism that masks its crimes in such nostrums as “the free multilateral trading system”, the admirable notion of human rights and their familiar ideological baggage have become nothing more than sordid refurbished rationalizations to conceal the dictatorship of capital and, increasingly, its reign of terror.

The US was founded as an empire, as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn have always reminded us.[1] Indeed, George Washington, the first president, baptized it an infant empire. Thomas Jefferson is often cited as the exemplar of the American “democratic ideal” but in fact he was one of the zealous activists of racial exterminism.  His  racialist yearning was to have  members of the presumed superior Anglo-Saxon breed eradicate the Native Americans (pejoratively branded as Redskins) and grab their lands – which they proceeded to do throughout the century – deport  negro slaves  back to Africa and then push on  to  eliminate  what his racial  expletive called “the Latins”. Mission accomplished, the Americas would then be repopulated with his exalted race of Anglo-Saxons.

           

The state-terrorist murder of Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) and the slave revolt in Saint Domingue (later Haiti) at the start of the l9th century unmasked the unbending hatred of anything that smacked of effective democracy.[2]  I would suggest studying CLR James’ classic The Black Jacobins to grasp this chapter of sordid colonial pillage and extermination. It dramatizes the implacable law of the class struggle that Marx poignantly hammered home at the time of the Paris Commune in 1871, when the revolutionary working class took to the barricades, and were gunned down, bayoneted and subsequently deported by the thousands:

“The civilization and justice of the bourgeois order comes out  in its lurid light whenever the slaves and drudges of that order rise against their masters. At that moment, this civilization and justice stand forth as undisguised savagery and lawless revenge … the infernal deeds of the soldiery reflect the innate spirit of that civilization of which they are the mercenary vindicators.”

The Fifth Columnists of US imperialism in Venezuela, represented by the political formation of the “election-monitoring group” Sumate and other political transmission belts, originate in the serried ranks of Big Capital. The media giant Globovision clamours day and night for the overthrow of the Chavez government. And of course the same plans and projects are harboured by an entrenched, overwhelmingly unreformed white-skinned bourgeois bureaucracy that considers any progressive mutations in the social order anathema to their class  and propertied interests. However, there is no doubt, as a perfunctory visit  to  the nation will reveal, that the working  class, the peasantry and the  more enlightened  segments of the  intelligentsia under Chavez’s leadership  have made significant  gains in a very short historical  time span in reshaping  the inherited class relations, notwithstanding the systematic sabotage.

There should nevertheless be no illusions as to the entrenched class society in which the Bolivarian revolutionaries of Venezuela are struggling. The rantings on “Castro-communism”   by the class enemies of the Bolivarian revolution are nothing more than a screech of blatant ignorance.  Cuba, despite the measures now being taken to reallocate a sizeable segment of the workforce to the private sector, is a socialist order created and led by the Communist Party. Venezuela, in contrast, is still predominantly a capitalist economy strapped in the grips of world trade and global accumulation. But within this bourgeois political context massive counter-organizational power drives and politico-state power will continue their unrelenting assault against capitalism.

Within Venezuela the big capitalists, landlords and rentiers are battling one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing socialist parties in the world, one with a membership that has already rocketed to over 5 million. The governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has become the Promethean ideological and institutional battering ram of the Bolivarian revolution that shows promise of being the gravedigger of capitalism. Do not misunderstand me. Given its youth and inexperience, the party is not free from internal conflicts, but in time, with the pressure of events in the next two years, I have little doubt that it will overcome current weaknesses. There is no automaticity in this drive to political change, however; change there will be, but it can only be germinated by extended debate and the cleansing of the opportunists that have nestled in its ranks. Swiftly pursuing these revolutionary changes, as in Cuba, is not a matter of choice; it is one of life or death.

The Creole and international bourgeoisie have chosen the path of naked class war. They are playing a lethal game without fully grasping the reverberations of the forces that they have unleashed. This is the law of unintended consequences articulated by Hegel: “Out of the actions of men comes something quite different from what they intend and directly know and will.”  The goal of the exterminists is explicit: it is not merely the smashing of the Chavista-led political machine but the obliteration of  the achievements  of the Bolivarian revolution. This  blueprint of what amounts to  scorched-earth  economic policies  embraces: privatization of the state-owned petroleum company PDVSA and its transfer to the  giant oil multinationals; reprivatization of all banks  and credit institutions; privatization of the large and growing merchant marine; scrapping of exchange controls; and a return of expropriated latifundia (large estates) to their original owners. All this in the name of liberty, democracy and restoring the rights of private property.

The tale is a familiar one but that is only for starters as the aim stretches to privatization of the health and educational sectors and ending the separation of church and state. Indeed, the ultimate goal is a return to the conditions of the pre-Chavez era under the repressive, blood-drenched regimes of Marcos Perez Jimenez and Juan Vicente Gomez, akin to the American occupation of Cuba under the political boot of Fulgencio Batista.  The physical obliteration of the structure and leadership of the revolutionary movement is part and parcel of their stratagems. What we are seeing is a war and it is not being fought according to Marquess of Queensberry rules. As one of the caudillos of the appropriately named opposition group MUD (Coalition  for Democratic Unity) pithily  puts it: “We are not simply going to derail  Chavez’s agenda, which is nothing more than wholesale theft; we are flinging everything we have to uproot hook, line and sinker his communist tyranny and expel all communist fellow travellers, not least of all the Cubans. And this shift to freedom will occur in record time. Our future will be anchored in the Free World and its system of free markets. We shall make short shrift of his foreign gangsters such as Morales, Ortega, Correa and their like. This includes booting out the Iranians and shoving the signed contracts into the garbage can.”

At least its clarity is admirable. But this was precisely the terrorist blueprint of the Venezuelan chamber of commerce Fedecamaras, propagandist and ventriloquist’s dummy of its US paymaster, in April 2002 when its former head Pedro Carmona took over as the country’s interim president during a shortlived anti-Chavez coup.

What the opposition groups in Venezuela and their imperial mentors are hollering for is a bloodbath. In September 2010 these criminal scum legally leapt once again into the electoral ring, bankrolled by tens of millions of dollars of foreign money. The designation “opposition”, however, is correct only in a very formal and restricted sense. They are in fact mercenaries.

The confrontation is not between two conventional bourgeois parties such as Tory or Labour, Democrat or Republican, both of which, despite their formal divergences, are wedded to the sacrosanct dogma that private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange is the morally inviolable principle of civilization. Their electoral joustings are nothing more than the battle for supremacy as to who gets or does not get the choicest pickings from the exploitation of  the wealth created by the working class. In the lingo of Margaret Thatcher  that epitomized the bonds between Tory muscle  and  the money bags of the City: “There is no alternative [to our system].” The philosophy behind this Thatcherian dictum is spelled out by the German novelist B. Traven in his imperishable novel Government (1936), whose setting is Mexico under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz (1875-1911): “Grab where and when there is anything to be grabbed. For poetic justice you must look to opera, and to the Easter Communion when sermons are preached about the Resurrection of the Saviour of mankind.”

The upshot of this pitiless class war will determine whether an embattled democratic socialist-oriented Venezuela, and the resurrection of its national sovereignty under the leadership of Chavez and the PSUV, succeeds in beating off the onslaughts of the big battalions of global imperialism. No doubt Rosa Luxemburg would have branded this a battle against barbarism.

The counter-revolutionaries, or golpistas, in their murderous pursuit of the restoration of the ancien regime, have conjured up forces they can no longer control.  We ought, however, never to ignore the fact that revolutions, their leaders, their master ideas and their political machinery are never fixed in time. They are  forcible eruptions of volcanic intensity that are vomited  by the historical  process born of intolerable exploitative conditions, as we are now witnessing in the Middle East whose regimes were spawned by imperialism. The  incandescent perception of Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), the celebrated historian of the French Revolution, is a trenchant reminder of the impact of such irreversible class-power shifts as have been unleashed not only in Venezuela but  in the entire region:

“Hunger and nakedness and nightmare oppression lying heavily on twenty-five million hearts, this, not the wounded vanities or contradicted philosophies of philosophical advocates, rich shopkeepers, rural noblesse, was the prime mover in the French Revolution; as the like will be  in all such revolutions, in all countries.”

The battle being waged in Venezuela transcends national frontiers. In its sheer scale it is unique in the history of the Americas, and in certain ways it bears comparison  to the wars of  imperialist intervention (1917-1921) that were waged to crush the Russian October Revolution  in its  cradle.  The global bourgeoisie, in the prosecution of its blatant class war, has flung its armoury against the Bolivarian republic. This battle to the death is revelatory of the worldwide reach  and intensity of the class struggle that will not vanish with the flick of a magic wand.  And hence it will not stop the rot that imperialism has spawned over time.

We shall now focus our attention briefly on the major external enemy of the Bolivarian revolution, that is, the United States, a nation which, despite its mendacious claims of its democratic heritage, has always remained  the enemy of democratic practice. To be sure, there are differentia specifica between Democrats and Republicans, but they are not of a class nature. They are both political embattled contenders in the defence of the prevailing class and propertied order. As mentioned, their electoral joustings are not intended to revolutionize the propertied/exploitative relationships, for that falls outside their ambit. The likes of Obama and Bush are the political praetorian guards of imperial predation that share a common origin.  They are genetically linked members of the  same  propertied caste, nevermind the colour of their skin. The overarching unity of the entire system is the hegemonic drive for the perpetuation and aggrandizement of capital.

Opposition to the Bolivarian  revolution, as in the case of Cuba, began at the cradle of the upsurge of the revolutionary movement.  The US caste oligarchy was the major planner and bankroller of the golpe (coup) in April 2002. Its goal was to kill Chavez and cripple the economy. It was a matter of touch-and-go. The attempt failed but not for lack of trying. The Fourth Republic was not wiped out because of  the mass support of  workers and peasants, as described in detail in my book Cuba and Venezuela: The Nemeses of Imperialism.[3]

The drive to decapitate a democratic regime has not slackened, however.  The US 4th Fleet is in the Caribbean and three of its 15 world-class aircraft carriers are in the waters of the Caribbean. The US embargo against Cuba, although long condemned by the world’s nations in the UN General Assembly, has remained for over half a century, with the aim of destroying the first socialist nation of the Americas. The cost of the blockade, according to the estimates of the Cuban government, now exceeds $700 billion. The US has also imposed an embargo on Bolivia’s industrial products. The Obama cabal was the central force behind the coup in Honduras that overthrew the elected government of Manuel Zelaya. The latter’s crime was  that it legislated minimum-wage legislation and higher taxes on multinationals and, not least, its  adherence to  economic integration  pursued by ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). 

Meanwhile, the militarization of a once-neutral Costa Rica has begun with the implantation of 6,000 US Marines. The restoration of US military bases, with the connivance of the narco-trafficking Panamanian elite, is in full swing. The abortive military coup in Ecuador in September 2010 that almost led to the assassination of President Rafael Correa is part of the same conspiratorial design.[4] Most conspicuous of all was the setting up of seven airbases in Colombia  (notwithstanding that its National Assembly repudiated as illegal on constitutional grounds  the agreement between ex-President Alvaro Uribe and the US government) whose  goal as stated by the Pentagon planners was to encircle Venezuela. But US military domination of Colombia has other objectives too. This included the push to wipe out, in the name of combating terrorism, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels who have been fighting the corrupt narco-financed governments for  several decades.  The September 2010 killing of FARC leader Jorge Briceno by US special commando-led forces  backed by 70 Apache helicopters and aircraft armed with “smart bombs” marked a major push in what has become an open war against a national liberation movement in Colombia.

The tentacles of US military intervention are now spreading. We ought not to forget that the US has 852 military bases worldwide. This is matched by the dominating presence of US corporations abroad, with the 1,000 largest US financial and non-financial corporations deriving on average over 43% of their revenues from their foreign subsidiaries. A number exceeded by the Big Five Wall Street banks that derive 55% of their revenues abroad. The military/industrial/banking complex is not confined to continental USA but is universal. They represent different faces of the imperial gulag.

The economic, military and  political penetration of Venezuela and the Latin American region as a whole was conspicuous  for  centuries. This was tersely stated by Henry Stimson, Wall Street corporate lawyer, investment banker and Secretary of War in Roosevelt’s cabinet in 1945: “I think that it’s not asking too much to have our little region over here which never has bothered anybody [emphasis added].” Note the paternalistic tone, the air of overweening condescension and arrogance, the unbreakable steel-like grip of personal proprietorship enshrined in those three nasty little words: “our little region”. What he’s saying is that “this is our backyard and the preserve of American capitalists and woe to any intruders that move to put their hands on it”.

Talk of the divine rights of American corporate ownership has marched to the drumbeat of racial arrogance. “The time is not too remote,” jubilantly thundered US President William Taft (1857-1930), “when the whole hemisphere will be ours in fact as, by virtue of our superiority of race, it already is ours morally.”

There is no space for democracy in this scheme of things. Moving from the abstract to the concrete, what Stimson and Taft were saying was seen in the most concrete definition of economic liberalism that has ever been articulated. It remains the dominant credo of capitalism at all stages of development: “Here in Venezuela,” noted an American oil magnate in the 1950s, “you have the right to do what you like with your capital. This right is dearer to me than all the political rights in the world.”[5]

Indeed, oil has occupied a central role in the tragedy of systematized rape and pillage in Venezuela. Oil was discovered in 1916 in Maracaibo. These resources were immediately grabbed by the Seven Sisters cartel of oil companies, notably Standard Oil of New Jersey. The white-skinned political headmen who plundered Venezuela in the aftermath of the Conquista in 1810 knew nothing of the amounts of black gold pulled out of the entrails of the earth. What is the meaning of independence and sovereignty in this context? The Bolivarian revolution is now answering this question for us.

A finance minister sheepishly told me, at an Unctad (UN Conference on Trade and Development) meeting dealing with multinational control of the marketing network, that his ministry had barely an inkling of the extent of the pillage. (The swindle would later be known as “creative accounting”, a phenomenon so poignantly brought out in the Enron fraud.) This is what one progressive Venezuelan politician meant when he said that oil was “the devil’s excrement”. The  Creole elite received  the droppings  that were doled out to them but  they were not required to have an understanding of the complexities of oil marketing from the pithead to the retail pump. In short, that was not the concern of the colonized lesser breeds.

But the appropriation of the economic surplus did not end there. Indeed, a good portion of the dividends and royalties received by the national elite was then funnelled back into American banks that used these savings to swell the bankers’ coffers and to finance the American economy. Here was a concrete case history of the poor subsidizing the rich. This was the dual form of exploitation. The oil giants – then and now – worked hand in glove with the US government, which, together with the Creole caste oligarchy, ensured that any  reformist policies that smacked of interference in the affairs of the oil giants would be crushed. Their political thugs were enlisted to do the job. The economic and political strategies of Standard Oil were similar to those deployed by British Petroleum in Iran up to 1979.

The advocates of the socialism of the 21st century in Venezuela have chosen equitable and rational ways  to ensure the non-exploitative harnessing of their  exhaustible natural resources. This is what is meant by participatory democracy, the core of the Bolivarian revolution. In 2004 at the time of the recall referendum, I was in Venezuela. This is what I wrote for the Economic and Political Weekly, and I seek your indulgence for the sin of self-quotation:

“The oligarchy believes, like all ruling classes at all times and in all climes, that their social order inherited from the Conquista and subsequently moulded by yet another white man’s imperial order was a creation of providential fixity and permanence, one that was unchallengeable by the Indio, the Negro,  the poor Whites  and the world of exploited labour. There is no way therefore that this reactionary mass and their foreign moneyed backers can seek a peaceful accommodation with the revolutionary theory and practice of the Bolivarian revolution.”

The aphorism of Harold Joseph Laski that “freedom is a function of power” applies to the central goals of the revolution. This time, however, the wielders of class power are not the oppressors but the oppressed, who have been transformed into a liberating force for all races.

Chavez had grasped the nature of power even before the grand climacteric of the counter-revolutionary putsch of April 2002, in which the US, Spain and the Vatican were the foremost conspirators. Venezuela was not slated to become another Grenada or Chile, thanks to the tens of thousands of workers who poured down from the impoverished slum-ridden barrios to defend the revolution.

For a deeper understanding of the dialectics of revolution and counter-revolution, I shall discuss briefly the tragedy of Salvador Allende’s Chile and my personal encounter with Dr Allende himself, who received me at the Moncada Palace before he and his socialist government were butchered there.  It was all too obvious, as I entered his modest office, that I was in the presence of a beaten political animal. His face was drawn and there were dark shadows below his eyes. He spoke haltingly but coherently. He stressed that the ballot box would beat the bullet and the rule of law would  prevail. While I had a suspicion that he did not believe what he was saying, I came only to listen and learn and not to argue and contradict. It was in the early afternoon and one could hear cacophonous political howling  and the incessant  beating of saucepans  by housewives and other sworn enemies in the streets.  They were in fact howling for his blood. Was Allende aware that this was the final countdown?

We shall never know. It was obvious to me and to others  like myself  that  his future blueprint of socialism in Chile was a fiction.  It was not surprising that El Mercurio, whose counterpart in Venezuela is Globovision, was calling for his death sentence and this was true of the rest of the  native bourgeois and foreign media barons. Dr Allende reminded me that he was besieged by invisible forces which he never spelt out, but one grasped what he had in mind. In fact, however, the nightmarish forces of gathering evil that were pitted against him were never invisible; they were thunderously audible and they were visible from his window.

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the powerful capitalist sector in Chile dominated by a minuscule minority were called upon to play their counter-revolutionary role and they did not fail to respond briskly to the challenge.   The CIA had penetrated every niche of the bureaucracy and the armed forces and their Fifth Columnists. General Augusto Pinochet, as he admitted, had already been in contact with the CIA for over five years.  The Catholic Church had already bared its teeth and soon would give its blessings, as it did earlier to Franco and Mussolini, to the US-Pinochet dictatorship.

If Allende realized that a killer enemy was at the gates, he  revealed nothing to me of these deep and troubling thoughts. His gentility and sweetest of smiles  betrayed  no hint  that  the noose was being slipped around his neck. He talked of his aspirations for an egalitarian society and of his great hopes for a socialist South America.

I listened but was besieged by growing apprehensions that I was in the presence of an impending tragedy, although I could never have envisaged the scale of the carnage and “disappearances” that would follow in such a short duration of time. It would have been insolent to ask him where he went wrong.  He confessed hesitantly, however, to the things that he should have done but did not do. His approach was hesitant and vacillating. The answer was already there. Pinochet and his CIA mentors were waiting in the wings.  The overall diktat of exterminism was now unabashedly rammed down the gullets  of the naive and the political innocents by Henry Kissinger, the grand inquisitor of the Chilean gulag: “I don’t see why we need  to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility [italics mine] of its people.” Such is his paean to the demolition of a democratically elected government. In Chile’s case, as in Guatemala and Indochina, Nicaragua and Indonesia, exterminism becomes the unique response to the imperatives of democratic change.

What Allende failed to grasp was the theory and practice of Chairman Mao and his revolutionary  maxim that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. Allende had no guns.  They were in the hands of  his killers and he made no attempt to neutralize them. There was an immense sadness that filled me when we said goodbye.  Allende had cradled illusions about the remorseless exigencies of the class struggle  and the nature of the class enemy. For me it was the end  of  Allende’s road  on that bright September day in 1973. What followed, as we know, was the smashing of Allende and the crumbling of his house of cards.

There was a positive side, however, to this turn of events. What his experience bequeathed to our generation, and certainly to Chavez, who was then a member of the armed forces and 19 years of age, was the knowledge that the ruling class would give no quarter. In an incisive discourse to the Third Unctad Conference in Santiago in April 1972, to which I listened with hope and compassion, Allende had referred to the role of imperialism in the region’s history. Later that year in December, speaking at the UN, he attacked “imperialist intervention” in Chile. It was the  first Bush, then US ambassador to the UN, who had the temerity to answer him with the asinine counter-claim: “There is nothing in our system designed to exploit anyone.” The US ruling class has always had the capacity for installing mechanisms in their skulls to rationalize the horrors of their history of domestic and colonial exploitation. In this respect Bush was once again true to form.

Still, while historical flashbacks and analogies are useful, history never repeats itself.  Events at the global and regional levels have had a momentous metamorphosis since September 1973. Not the least of what we have witnessed is the seismic change in the centre of gravity of world economic activity from the Atlantic to the Pacific. That is, the former white-man-centric  metropoles of imperialism are undergoing a process of wilting, and nowhere are these  virulent self-destructive  forces that are tearing at the guts of its moribund  economic system so perceptible as within US capitalism itself.

Meanwhile, the gripping changes that have swept Venezuela, such as the wiping out of illiteracy, the democratization of education, the reduction of inequalities, not to speak of its prodigious industrial and financial changes, are undeniable realities. But that is not all. It has become the standard bearer of internationalism; ALBA and its successful plans for regional integration have merited universal acclaim. Yet these changes have not impeded the howling wolves of exterminism from labelling Chavez a dictator of the vilest species. For this reason he continues to be vilified and demonized.

The would-be internal liquidators of the nation’s sovereignty are inextricably linked to the external ones. Cardinal Urosa, the leading Vatican propagandist, was one of the leading conspirators in the April  2002 putsch.  The tone of his diatribe betrays his  riveting hatred for democratic change: “Chavez has a violent, exclusive, totalitarian tendency. He is destroying the country and he must be stopped.  He is pushing the country down the road of Cuban naked dictatorship and the horrors of Bolshevism.”

That this is a blatant lie does not really matter. It is based on the principle of Dr Goebbels that the big lie hammered home relentlessly, day in day out, becomes transmogrified into truth. It is the trick of the political alchemist that aspires to transform lead into gold.

More and more of this endless slime is peddled by the corporate media like Fox News and CNN; not surprisingly, Urosa remains one of their ideological stalwarts. He is of the same species as the CIA-bankrolled Cardinal Obando, the high priest of Nicaragua’s Contras, which contributed to the slaughter of thousands of Nicaraguan peasants. This was the same creature eulogized by Reagan as “one of the greatest sons of the Nicaraguan freedom [sic] movement.”   But here again Venezuela is neither Chile nor Nicaragua. Cardinal Urosa was called to account by the government for his vitriolic and outrageously mendacious statements.

What should be highlighted is that the central driving force of the Bolivarian revolution and its  profound  democratic propensities  is crystal clear, as elucidated by Chavez: “I am a Christian. I am a Bolivarian. I am a Marxist. I perceive no incongruities in my beliefs and world  outlook stemming from my unceasing years of struggle for pulling my people out of the poverty germinated by capitalism and elevating them to the highest living standards within the frame of democratic practice.”

How many politicians in the so-called developed countries who garb their spiritual nakedness in garments of “democracy”, “the rule of law” and “human rights” could embrace such dazzling moral claims?

Chavez has gone on to add what is a resounding politico-ethical manifesto: “Let me remind the masters of the Church who underpinned the most brutal forms of exploitation and genocide of our peoples throughout the centuries that they are a debauched totalitarian institution.   They have always despised the smallest sprouts of democracy and the light of rationality. They have never been elected representatives of the people. They are the practitioners and preachers of the most brutal form of class warfare. We, in contrast, are speeding towards a full democratization of our society that we have called the Bolivarian revolution or socialism of the 21st century. It has several ideological strands. Its unbending goal is to give full and accountable power to the masses so that they can exercise their sovereign destiny. For us Bolivarians, Marxism is an invaluable tool of analysis that helps us interpret the social universe we live in.  Our revolution is a process of permanent creation. Hence it is not a lump of dogma or a pile of spineless scholastic platitudes.”

I daresay it would be well nigh impossible to find a more succinct exposition of the motive force of this revolution. I hasten to add that this concise humanist credo is also an obituary of the white man’s blood-drenched ruling-class Church as it has evolved since the Conquista and whose overriding role was and remains the reduction of its victims to Christianity, servility and subordination.

You will now understand why Venezuela  ranks lowest  in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom as well as in the bogus statistical concoctions of the World Economic Forum, and why they merit being dumped into the gutter. No doubt Chavez would have embraced the guiding moral principle of the great liberal, John Stuart Mill, who observed  that “when the object is to raise the condition of the people, small means  do not merely produce  small effects. They produce no effects at all.”

What the election of 26 September 2010 dramatized – and this no doubt will apply to its aftermath – has been the sheer viciousness of the demonization of Chavez. The branding of the nation’s most illustrious president, his partisans and their political projects as “thuggish politics”, is a morsel of yellow journalism deployed by the UK’s Financial Times. It indicates the depth of the hatred and filth of the non-stop verbal onslaught. This is not an isolated verbal slip.  My Oxford dictionary informs me that the word “thug” is of Indian origin and means a swindler, professional murderer and robber. Is it worthwhile asking how many people have been killed by the Bolivarian revolution? The corporate gulag and its yellow press have always jettisoned the quest for truth when their class interests appear to be jeopardized.

What is striking is that this repetitive mendacity emanates from a country that is one of the most abject satellites of the United States. A country, moreover, which in the course of its 500 years of ignominious colonial expansionism exploited and butchered millions. Imperialism and its media have long debased the language and we ought not   be astonished by the horrors of its lie machines.

Despicable racial expletives have been hurled against Chavez; I recall a Chamber of Commerce official telling me he was a little nigger-boy (negrito).  Indubitably,  racialism  has  ebbed in its intensity but it has by no means vanished from the historical stage. Indeed, barring Cuba, in no  other  country in the Americas has racialism been so vigorously fought, but we must remember that racialism as a phenomenon of class exploitation was generated in over 500 years of its history. Racialism in its diverse institutional forms is a savage instrument of class rule.

Eduardo Galeano has described another facet of sticking the label of “populism” on  leaders  and revolutionary movements that have moved to break the shackles of  imperial rule. In the mouths of the peddlers of the restoration of imperialism and free-market absolutism, he tells us, “patriotism is legitimate in the North but it becomes populism in the South, or even worse terrorism.” Demonization is thus an integral part of the armoury of psychological warfare for toppling regimes that have  refused to conform to imperial dictates.

The immense killer financial injections such as those seen in Venezuela and elsewhere originate  from the private corporate sector (domestically and abroad) and the power centres of global capitalism. It was not fortuitous that in September 2010, billionaire George Soros, through his Open Society Foundations, shovelled $100 million into the coffers of the mis-named Human Rights Watch. In reality the name is a cover for effectively pursuing goals synonymous with destabilization. Soros’ handout has nothing to do with human rights. He has made a major investment in securing the services of an institution spawned to promote and perpetuate the interests of his class worldwide and which uses the cover of “human rights” to conceal its counter-revolutionary role. In this struggle they became wedded to imperialism. Nevertheless, Soros’ bogus philanthropy does have the merits of being above ground. What is infinitely more deceptive and better camouflaged is the activities of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other operatives who go to extremes to conceal their working links with the CIA.

Was it mere coincidence that the avalanche of Soros’ ‘gift’ occurred in the same month as the  electoral war in Venezuela? Human Rights Watch has long spearheaded the  ideological attack  against Venezuela. It has not ceased to do so. It is an instrument of the global counter-revolution with links to the US State Department and the Pentagon. Its onslaught on Venezuela was indicative of its subversive thrusts. Its prolix diatribes that battered the government for its alleged violation of human rights were outrageous, but what it did not dimly suspect was that the government would strike back against their falsehoods line by line before slinging them out of the country.

You will agree with me that $100 million is no trifling sum. Destroying an enemy is part of the exterminist toolbox of the imperial order and is nothing new. What is new is its Himalayan size. The sum of $100 million, though, is of course a minute fraction of the net worth of Soros, estimated at over $14 billion. Let’s restate what should be obvious to all.  His so-called Open Society is in fact a closed totalitarian monstrosity designed to annihilate any democratic measures that dare threaten the rule of a capitalist plutocracy and its imperial masters.

What the foregoing reveals is that there has  been no respite  in the conspiratorial drives – and these embrace assassinations – to halt the advance of democratic change. Tens of millions of dollars have been pumped to fuel the fires  of the counter-revolutionary push.   But the United States is not alone. Certain  parties of the Mudista political junta have long been linked  to the narco-traffickers that have been a lavish source of funding.  Their military arm has been and remains the paramilitaries in Colombia and elsewhere.

What we must not lose sight of, however, is that although the imperio has the capacity to maim and kill, it is also  bedevilled  internally by  implosions  of an economic and political crisis that is rapidly eroding its power. To consider the United States the mightiest  and richest nation  in the world  is to bestow on it attributes that it no longer possesses. Although this text is concerned with Venezuela, we shall centre our attention  now on the US’ fragile economic underpinnings.

It is no longer open to dispute that American capitalism has entered  an irreversible stage of economic stagnation and moral atrophy. The class war in the United States, although officially castigated  as a blasphemous  concoction of communists and fellow travellers,  is not a myth but a reality omnipresent in the American political and economic order. The official unemployment level, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, hovers around 10% but this is an undercount. If we were to include the part-time unemployed (the temps) and those who have given up in their quest for jobs, the number exceeds 30 million. This bleak unemployment scenario of course applies to all leading capitalist countries. In Japan, temporary workers now account for 75% of the labour force. This is an ideal strategy for weakening and breaking the resistance of organized  labour  and boosting the exploitation of wage labour. US trade union membership in the private sector plunged from 23% of the workforce in 1973 to less than 8% in 2010. It is this and other factors which explain the shift in the world distribution of income, with labour’s share falling sharply. The numbers tell the grim story. By the end of 2010 more than 44 million were living in poverty in the US, which is some 15% of the population. More than a quarter of blacks and Hispanics are poor. The tragedy deepens by the day. More than 16 million children are poor, or one out of every five children.

The masters of American capitalism that once peddled the virtues of untrammelled competition and globalization are in headlong retreat on all fronts. On the domestic front American capitalism is in disarray. The impact of the economic depression – there’s no need for such euphemisms as “recession” – is brutalizing the world of labour. The capitalists are waging a war – a class war – with the backing of the state, and their pickings are lush. At the same time, millions of working Americans are being shoved out of their foreclosed homes and the sheer horror of these torments shows no signs of abating.  When we speak of crisis, therefore, we must ask ourselves where the locus of the crisis is, what are the forces that created it, and who are its gainers and its losers. In concrete terms, the gap between the exploiters and the exploited  is  huge and getting larger. In  the third quarter of  2010 corporate  profits  soared at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion, an all-time record since data collection began in 1950. 

The mood of this financial oligarchy is ecstatic, as neatly summarized by one journalist:  “With a swagger, wallets out, Wall Street  dares to celebrate.” It’s all too obvious who are the  swaggerers of this grand celebration. The deprivation inflicted  on tens of millions  of workers  who make a living by the sale of their labour power  and whose savings and homes were foreclosed is the price that “the little people” must pay for the collapse of the  system and its malfunctioning. But the social reality that is the defining characteristic of  capitalism cannot be so easily brushed aside. Billionaire Warren Buffett was fearless enough to stand up and declare: “There’s  class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” An irrefutable truth emanating from a prime mega-capitalist which can no longer be hidden.

It was Abraham Lincoln who observed that democracy can be defined  as “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. An admirable generalization that obscures the class realities of  an exploitative economic order  rooted in the private appropriation of the world’s wealth. As it stands, this generalization is nothing more than a mellifluous platitude. At no stage in American history has democracy approached the goal of the Bolivarian revolution, which is to mobilize by mass participation the producers in the creation of wealth for the entire community. What the historical record amply throws into relief is that government, despite its appearance of neutrality and standing above the contending clash of opposed  social classes, is  socially engineered to mesh with the exigencies of the rich and the super-rich.   Substitute Lincoln’s word “people” with “rich” and we have an accurate generalization of the objective reality of capitalism.  In short, it is government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich. Consider that the total cost of the US elections that catapulted Obama into the White House was $5 billion. Is this the model that Venezuela and others seeking to liberate themselves from the shackles  of imperialism  should emulate?

Let us cast a glance at a few numbers to highlight the accelerating pace and impact of economic concentration in the US. According  to the Federal Deposit  Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the number of commercial  banks (1984-2010) fell by 54%.  This  precipitous fall that boosted  concentration was not exclusively due to competitive market forces, but to the deliberate elimination of regulatory legislation by an ultra-elite caste of free-market  absolutists or market fundamentalists whose mantra was and is that “All government is bad and government regulation that curbs the power of capital should be axed”. This has always been the central ideological thrust of economic liberalism.[6]

Further, according to the FDIC, four Wall Street banks, out of a total of 8,242, control 45% of all the insured bank deposits in the US, and 46% of the assets: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America. Numerically, the big four represent a minuscule 0.05% of the total. The sheer size of the market capitalization of the Big Five is indicative of the  concentration: JPMorgan Chase ($149.2 billion); Wells Fargo ($142.3 billion); Citigroup ($121.1 billion); Bank of America  ($113.8 billion); Goldman Sachs ($868 billion).

The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, promulgated at the acme of the Great Depression, was part of the armoury of Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal to halt speculation and prevent bank holding companies from appropriating, through mergers and acquisitions, other financial firms. In other words, its goal was to stop or decelerate financial  concentration  in fewer and fewer  firms.

However, Roosevelt never directed his political firepower at fighting the capitalists, appropriating their assets and nationalizing their banks. He was a defender of the private property system. Like John Maynard Keynes, what the Albany aristocrat said was that he  threw his hat into the political ring to save the system, not to bury it. The Glass-Steagall Act  was a piece of progressive and reformist  legislation to ensure the separation of Wall Street investment banks and depositary banks. The repealing of the Act in November 1999 was a signal triumphant of neoliberal ideology that opened the floodgates to uncontrolled financial deregulation that led to the financial krach of autumn 2008. Indeed, it marked the end of the legislative utopia that was the New Deal.

The shifts in economic power as reflected in the extraordinary concentration of assets held by an exiguous number of banks are not aberrations but inherent  in the class ownership and the private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange that constitute  the alpha and omega of capital accumulation. In short, the capitalist mode of production.

Strides in concentration were luminously dissected in Chapter 25 of Marx’s Capital entitled “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation”. It will forever remain one of the greatest  scientific contributions to understanding the motive force of capitalism. The production of surplus value or the manufacture of profits, as Marx teaches, is the absolute law of the capitalist mode of production. Capital accumulation works through competition and technological innovation boosting  productivity and contributing to the slashing of commodity  prices and reducing the size of the labour force and its costs.

In this competitive war the bigger capitals and their capitalists beat the smaller capitals and their capitalists. Concentration is thus the upshot of this process that ends in the ruin and absorption of the smaller capitalists  whose  mines, factories and assets pass into the hands of the larger capitalists. In this sense, competition is the destruction of one capitalist by another; it is the begetter of monopoly.

What Marx emphasizes is that the accumulation of capital is abetted by what was then the emergent force of finance capital and credit embodied in the joint-stock company that was still in its embryonic stages when Capital was published in 1867. In a masterly phrase he reveals that the credit and finance system “furtively creeps in as the humble assistant of accumulation, drawing into the hands of individual or associated capitalists, by invisible threads, the money resources [i.e., savings] which lie scattered in larger or smaller amounts over the surface of society; but it soon becomes a new and terrible weapon in the battle of  competition, and is finally transformed into an enormous social mechanism for the centralization of capital”. What is stunning is the striking modernity of that analysis of the processes at work  within the entrails of finance capital.

Just as the kitten becomes the cat, the smaller capitalist aspires to become a bigger capitalist. In this process, capital accumulation at national and world levels burgeons to a hitherto unimaginable magnitude, thanks to one of the greatest financial innovations of all times: the joint-stock company. This has metamorphosed into the massive complex globalization of the engines of contemporary finance capitalism. This undoubtedly is one of the greatest scientific contributions of Marx to economic theory as it brings out the relationship between the concentration and centralization of capital.  Centralization therefore supplements and gives a giant boost to normal accumulation by enabling the industrial capitalist to extend the scale of  his operations and the acquisition of larger and larger market shares.  Finance capital  working through the joint-stock company becomes the catalyst of this  process.

Concentration defines the magnitude of ownership and control is not merely an economic emanation of the accumulation of assets but also becomes inextricably related to the political process.  Hence the inseparability of economics and politics. This is what Harold Laski meant when he said that since liberty is always a function of power, the fewer the capitalists who own or manipulate that power, the smaller the number of those to whom liberty has any significance. Thus, the sum total of concentrated economic power is anathema to the realization of a democratic economic order whose essence is the active and sustained participation of the direct producers in the creation and equitable distribution of collective wealth. For the Bolivarians and others, this touches the heart of democracy inasmuch as democracy and capitalism  are incompatible  and  become more so  with the non-stop advance of capital concentration and centralization.

The incessant convulsions of economic crises that partner concentration in  turn engender class polarization and intolerable levels of destitution. Economic growth and sharply rising levels of productivity over the last  decade  have not been translated into  higher living standards for the world of labour. The income inequalities  are a mirror image of the degree  of concentration inherent in capitalism’s class relations  that Marx so trenchantly analyzed.

Nothing  is more conspicuous  than the sharp  and unstoppable rise of inequality that makes a mockery  of  the US oligarchy’s claims to “world leadership” and of being a paragon of human rights.  At the end of 2010, the US economy was twice the size of what it was in 1980. In that span of three decades, however, the real median wage fell below the level of the mid-1970s. Also, at the start of the 1970s the richest 1% had 9% of the nation’s total income. At the onset of the Great Crash in the autumn of 2008 this share had rocketed to 23.5%. This is the general overall picture.  Let us zoom in on New York City to illustrate the particular.  According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, the share of all income going to the top 1% of New York residents rose from 12% in 1980 to 20%  in 1990, 35% in 2000 and 44% in 2007.  This is almost double   the all-time high US national average of 23.5% quoted above.

Over one-fifth of national income, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is appropriated by 1% of households whose marginal federal tax rate has fallen by seven percentage points between 1995 and 2010. Further, the pre-tax national income of the richest 0.1% more than quadrupled over the last 20 years (1990-2010) but their effective tax rates dropped steeply. This was due not to the uninhibited working of free market forces, but to deliberate  government policy  decisions  formulated and implemented in the interests  of  the plutocracy by their political agents.  Quasi-economic stagnation combined with ever-rising inequality has contributed to the worsening of an already rotting infrastructure and a precipitous fall in  educational standards. American capitalism is regressing on these fronts, as a comparison with China and others  pinpoints. 

The Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, highlights  the huge  gap in educational  attainment  between  China and the United States. These tests  are designed  to measure the learning performance  of 15-year-old students in 65 countries.  Shanghai was taken as a test case.  The scores of the 15-year-olds in Shanghai were the best in the world.   The 15-year-olds in the US ranked 14th in reading skills, 17th in science and 25th in mathematics. This was well below the average. This is symptomatic of the fact that the process  of  economic disintegration  has spilled into every facet of the cultural field. Although Cuba was not selected, I would surmise that their performance would have outstripped the  Americans in much the same way as all of their health indicators have done.

The tsunami of joblessness, where more than 30 million American workers are unemployed or  chronically underemployed, is taking place against a backdrop of uncontrolled  inequality  and soaring debt levels. Chief executive officers (CEOs), the managers of American capitalism, earned 42 times as much as the average worker  in 1980. By the end of 2009, the ratio widened  to 620, or more than a 14-fold  increase. Within the same  time span, more than four-fifths of the aggregate rise in US incomes went into the already bloated pockets of the richest 1%.

Seen from another angle, the top 1% own some 34% of the nation’s private net worth, the bottom 90%, 29%.  This means that 10% own more than 70% of total net worth. All this is not surprising since the US  is “the big money house”, to use  the metaphor  of  JP Morgan   at the turn of the 20th century. It  houses about 30% of the world’s millionaires, and 40% of the world’s billionaires. The foregoing  discussion  on concentration and its corollaries  confirms the dire warning of Supreme Court  Justice Louis Brandeis, in one of the most powerful  single sentences  ever articulated  in the history of jurisprudence  and  the social sciences: “We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in a few hands, but we can’t have both.”

In the nine decades since Brandeis uttered this stunning  truth, the tempo of concentrated  wealth has scaled Himalayan heights, nationally and globally, and continues to pursue its unstoppable ascendancy.  It is an affirmation of the  simple truth  that the masters of capital will forever and  implacably remain  the  enemy of  even the most innocuous manifestations  of social  control.

The cancerous growth of these  inequalities has surfaced  in an endemically anaemic  economy  that  is irreversibly riddled with debts that can and will never be repaid.[7] Aggregate US household, corporate and government debt has already shot past $60 trillion by the end of 2010. This is the size of world GDP and  four times the US GDP. What we must bear in mind  is not merely the absolute magnitude of the total debt but its compound growth. Interest payments on the debt will be absorbing larger and larger amounts of government revenues. It is a recipe  for national catastrophe  to be ignominiously trailed by default. Household debt, for example, was 92% of disposable income in 1999; by 2010 it had hit 130%. With every passing second, the debt, fuelled by compound growth rates, is getting  bigger and bigger. The present wobbly government of Obama is being bludgeoned with a $1.3 trillion budget  deficit.

In addition, the Obama cabal is injecting  $600 billion into the debt machine that bears the quixotic name  of “quantitative  easing”. This is the purchase of bonds with newly minted money to curb long-term interest rates, with the aim of spurring lending and recovery. That is the theory. Quantitative easing is a shabby euphemism for a money-printing machine that is now working at full throttle. Its rationale is simple. The marketing strategy is that slashing interest rates will lift the economy by prodding the capitalist to borrow and invest. But here the crucial contradiction emerges: how can the capitalist seek to maximize his profits – the overriding  goal of the profit-driven engine – if all  economic sectors are working at  chronic under-capacity? What we are seeing is the generalized phenomenon of over-production with limited or non-existent  scope for profitable returns on investment. Its striking features are shrinking demand, diminished purchasing power and market meltdown. Poverty, mass joblessness and social destitution are its sequel.  The process is ubiquitous not because there is too little capital but because there is too much capital that cannot be invested at what the capitalist considers to be a profitable rate of return.

At the end of 2010, US corporate investors had an estimated $2.3 trillion on their balance sheets. These phenomenal sums are being hoarded and not job-creatively  invested  because the profitability on these investments is exiguous or non-existent. Have those who are pursuing these profligate policy chimeras of money creation forgotten that artificially induced low interest rates were the mother of financial bubbles in the autumn of 2008, spawning the greatest financial krach since the Great Depression? The upshot was the dis-accumulation of capital, or the destruction of capital, to the tune of $1.3 trillion in assets. 

In addition to the economic and debt convulsions speeding up the crisis are the relentless  military expenditures that the US oligarchy  has spent on waging its  permanent colonial wars since 1945.  These now  account  (2010)  for 43% of total  world military expenditures. It is part of the sustained drive for global hegemony entailing  the presence of 560  foreign military bases. Out of the 15 top national spenders, the US’ expenditure is larger than that of the next 14 combined. Its military outlay is seven times that of China, the second largest. This is the military fist of imperialism underpinning the drive to permanent colonial war.

War and preparations for war have, as Martin Luther King said, transformed  the United States into “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. Dr King is correct. The substitution of “imperial state terrorism” for “violence” would of course be even more accurate.  Obama has now boosted military expenditure by more than 6% in 2010, outstripping at its peak the record-busting outlays of Bush. In only one year (2010) Obama will have spent in Afghanistan (in dollars adjusted for inflation) more than the total costs of the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

As yet there is no end to that genocidal and unwinnable colonial war. Afghanistan, however, is only one among  others. The US is fighting wars on five fronts: in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia. To this may be added the undeclared  clandestine  war in Iran that has involved the assassination  of some of its leading scientists, which, as the Pentagon strategists now boast, is but a prelude to full-scale war, with  Israel as its leading accomplice.

The psychology of imperialism and its exterminist thrusts is thrown into sharp relief in the Blair-Cheney dialogue. Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who ranks amongst the most odious of war criminals, was exultant over the boast of ex-US vice-president Dick Cheney. In his autobiography, A Journey, Blair extols  the lurch  for conquest (he  calls it “reshaping”) of the Middle East articulated by Cheney. Blair notes that Cheney had no patience for “namby-pamby peacenikery”. “He would have worked through the  whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran … Hezbollah, Hamas, etc … No ifs, no buts, no maybes. We’re coming after you, so change or be changed.” Nevermind that this bombastic crusading fulmination  is a pipe dream because it is being smashed by the resistance of millions. What matters is that it is a process of reasoning  that applies no less to the emergent  progressive countries of South America that have chosen alternative development paths. In the final section we shall focus our attention on some of the major obstacles that the revolution in Venezuela must face to survive.   

In the foregoing section we have analyzed what I consider to be the death throes of American capitalism, which, joined to the  struggle of the oppressed in the neoliberal colonies,  have contributed  to the irreparable weakening of imperialism worldwide. The rebellion of  the Egyptian masses against one who was considered the impregnable dictator of the US/Zionist phalanx is one of the most devastating blows against  imperialism since the overthrow of the Shah of Iran.  This is  the background  that is  not only changing   the geopolitical relationships in the Middle East but also giving a boost to revolutionaries  elsewhere. What we are seeing – and this is of the greatest relevance to Venezuela – is  that electoral victories are not an end in themselves. The fundamental issue is dismantling  the vestiges of the neocolonial political structures of a rentier economy rooted in primary commodity production for the world market.

We must not forget that the PSUV lost a million votes in the September 2010 election. What remains to be done is not simply to  recuperate these votes  for the presidential elections in 2012 but  to devise strategies  against the  US-dominated political right, who are the effective saboteurs within the nation and are operating at full throttle.

Certainly the battle against bureaucracy and corruption is an ongoing struggle. But it is not to be imagined that, even if  these two scourges were  vanquished by a magic wand  overnight, a new and invigorated capitalism would arise from its ashes. This is because the laws and logic of capital accumulation  would continue to operate in the interests of its private owners.

The essential direction that must be taken  is to define  the model of  socialism and continually innovate with new forms of democratized  socialist relations of property. And that requires sustained debates which must become permanent features of the political and social order. This is not and can never be a one-shot show. It must go hand in hand with the extensive socialization of the finance, credit and insurance sectors. This in turn is inseparable from economic control by the public sector of foreign trade – exports and imports. This would entail nationalization of the foreign trade sector to appropriate the profits and foreign exchange earnings – which are considerable – from the marketing chain. In Venezuela, the import trade and marketing are now controlled by the bourgeoisie. Not only does such control have immense political implications, it is also a source of unrestrained speculation that contributes massively to inflation. Speculation serves not only to enrich the speculators but also to impoverish the mass of consumers, as well as being a brutal instrument of political destabilization. Implementation of these institutional changes cannot be delayed. These are important stages in the democratization of people’s power.

It wasn’t too long ago that there were progressives in Venezuela and their foreign well-wishers who peddled the delusion that the imperio and the adherents of the Bolivarian revolution would ultimately find a common ground that would lead, by some undisclosed magic, to an enduring and fruitful coexistence. Such muddled thinking was never rooted in a rigorous study of the state and revolution. We owe much to Joseph Schumpeter for highlighting the role of the state in economic theory and policy and, in so doing, illustrating once again the signal contribution of Marx: “Policy is politics; and politics is a very realistic matter. There is no scientific sense whatever  in creating for one’s self  some metaphysical entity  to be called ‘The Common Good’ and a not less metaphysical ‘State’ that, sailing high in the clouds and exempt from  and above human struggles and group interests, worships at the shrine of that Common Good.  But the economists of all times have done precisely this … It was, therefore, a major scientific merit of Marx that he hauled down this state from the clouds into the sphere of realistic analysis.”[8]

The Venezuelan government and the Bolivarian socialist project openly face the proclaimed threat of extermination. The electoral returns of September 2010 were a reminder of the immensity of the hostile class challenges facing the embattled Bolivarian revolution. The life-and-death lessons  to be drawn from it are all too apparent. The PSUV gained  98 out of 165 seats, which gives them the majority in the National Assembly. These are winning numbers, to be sure, but  they failed to obtain  the 110 seats, or two-thirds majority, that would assure them freedom  to pursue their legislative agenda unimpeded. Prior to September 2010, the Chavistas had absolute control of the Assembly because the Mudistas, acting on the orders of their foreign masters, boycotted the elections. From the latter’s perspective it was a major strategic miscalculation which has now been rectified. Chavez has chosen to play by the rules of bourgeois politics. But bourgeois politics, as we have seen, in practice repudiates democracy and the rule of law.

In  sum, the US-dominated pseudo-democrats represented by MUD  have staged an  electoral comeback and, as post-September events reveal, they and their foreign backers intend to exploit  their presence  to the hilt. The election was  a close call. The opposition obtained 5.3 million votes, the PSUV 5.4 million. The blood-curdling imagery of the opposition propagandists that this is a war whose outcome will be decided by fire, blood and the sword cannot be jettisoned as fatuous electoral rhetoric concocted by their State Department mentors.  The metaphors are appropriate. Here is one manifesto for the re-conquest of class power as brandished by one of its more articulate firebrands: “We shall proceed by stages: the first stage is that of containment. It is a war of attrition and we shall wear Chavez down; our second stage is that of pushback for, by the end of the first stage, his forces will be wilted; and the third and final stage is the liquidation of Chavez and all his works.” The word “liquidation”, you’ll agree, thus acquires a sinister connotation.  

If this is not a full-blooded exhortation  to political exterminism, then what is? Whether and in what format this blueprint will be realized will depend not only on the yearnings of its criminal architects but also on the bold, swift, reactive counter-blitzkrieg of the democratic forces to bring to a standstill and destroy a force whose anti-democratic goals are now blatantly publicized.  This counter-force is now gathering strength, as we shall see. What the historical record so clearly reveals  is that while the last five years was a quiescent  period  for the Chavistas in the absence of a political opposition in the National Assembly, it does not mean that the attempts to bleed the Bolivarian revolution had ceased.

One of the major shortfalls of the government was due to its misplaced tolerance, having not set in motion revolutionary radical policies that would have stymied  the class power of the oligarchy and their foreign paymasters. Money thundered down like an avalanche into the coffers of these political scum from all quarters and not exclusively the United States, which nevertheless remains the organizational hub of the exterminist conspiracy. One feels the anguish of Chavez when he recognizes that the constitutional freedoms  accorded to his lethal enemies  were  being directed to the destruction of the fragile democracy, the first of its kind that Venezuela had ever experienced.

“It is beyond belief,” he lugubriously laments, “even though we have our constitution, that we allow political parties, non-governmental organizations and counter-revolutionary individuals to continue to be financed with millions of dollars  from the imperio, and who make use of it with full freedom to usurp and violate our sovereignty and destabilize our country.”

The nature of these counter-revolutionary  elements  battling  for the annihilation  of the Bolivarian  revolution was brazenly exhibited  in a 7 November 2010 meeting held at  the US Congressional Visitors Center in Washington parading  under the  sanctimonious title “Danger in the Andes: Threats to Democracy, Human Rights and Inter-American Security”. The countries  targeted were Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba. It’s irrelevant   that neither Nicaragua nor Cuba is an Andean country. What surfaced from this meeting of the imperio’s most notorious official and non-official political mob was a report  that was nothing short  of  a declaration of war. Its sponsors were such run-of-the-mill Cold War warriors  as Connie Mack (R-Fl.), who  had earlier called for the assassination  of Chavez. The Cuban émigré Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.) has now been vaulted  into the influential Chair  on Foreign Relations of the US House of Representatives. This was precisely the same  Cuban émigré who clamoured  for Cuba to be turned  into another Iraq and that Fidel Castro should be hanged as a political criminal.

To be sure, this is a prime case of double standards, for one could easily imagine the howling reaction of the US government if any Cuban or Venezuelan statesman or citizen of any country  had made such appeals to bump off its politicians. Coincidentally, in January 2011 both the Venezuelan rightists and their Republican backers in the US Congress acquired the trappings of bourgeois political legitimacy with their entry into the citadels of legislative power. Understandably, in the conspiratorial Washington conclave, Chavez was depicted as “the deadly kingpin of a criminal regime.” The pressure to “demolish” the nation’s infrastructure, to use the increasingly familiar designation of the Mudistas, will be speeded up. Here the death squads and the paramilitary will come into play. 

With the Republicans now in the driver’s seat in the US Congress, the Mudistas have an incomparable ally.  In the electoral battle they gained  political power in the mineral- and oil-rich states of Zulia and Tachira that border Colombia. These states, even prior to their September victory, were the feeder base  for evading taxes and foreign  exchange controls, and for money laundering  and narco-trafficking. These were also the major sources of funding  for the two earlier political formations, the  resurrected Christian Democrats and the Accion  Democracia, now fused into the Mudista ranks.

However, the strategy of wholesale exterminism already deployed with full force will not be met with folded hands and bended knees by the world of labour and their allies inspired by the Bolivarian revolution. A new and more vicious phase in the class struggle has been opened up whose reverberations will be felt throughout South America and beyond. I say “beyond” because the core of the counter-revolution  is international.

The  PSUV and  Chavez have risen to the challenge, as seen in the temporary decree powers  granted to the president under an Enabling Law passed by the National Assembly in December 2010. The timing is important. It extends presidential powers into the domain of  public security, public works, finance, housing  and, not least, telecommunications. These decree powers are mandatory  but what is important  is that state  power of the organized masses  becomes embedded in all states and sectors. The belief of the new “opposition lawmakers”, as they now dub themselves,  that they would be able to paralyze the government will be countered by a resurgent political  democratic  phalanx. Chavez is boldly facing the embattled  future and has riposted in language that is unequivocally clear. In words redolent of Fidel Castro, he vowed  that  “there is no possible agreement with the bourgeoisie.  It is them or us.  We are polar opposites. Let the bourgeoisie pursue its goals. We shall do, however, what we must do to build a socialist society.  That is our goal and we shall attain that goal.” In the next two years these words will have acquired a resounding force that will echo throughout  the world.

As in Cuba, the criminal  strategies  for ousting  Chavez began at the very  inception of his movement for national  rebirth. The goal of the movement is to break with the entrenched  social and economic structures of  a moribund capitalism organically tethered  to imperialism  and the vestiges of the Spanish conquest. The  struggle to liquidate the man, his ideas and his political movement  knows no respite.  In the wake of their comeback  in September 2010, the architects of  the counter-revolution  believed  that the  changed  electoral configuration would offer them  the golden moment  to strike a decisive blow.

The central goal of demolishing the socialist society in the making would be to deploy the judicial apparatus, the powerful bourgeois domestic and foreign media, the unreformed caste of officialdom and an endless torrent of money. On the external  front  the revolution is pitted  against  the  combined strength of  the  Organization of  American States (OAS), the Colonial Office of US imperialism,  the entire Latin American bourgeoisie, the United States and the European  Union.

The rupture with the United States coincides with the Enabling Law, one of the boldest legislative measures of the revolution, inseparable from the earlier raft of progressive legislation that straddles all sectors of the national economy. It is not surprising that this law immediately received the brickbats of the OAS and the government’s enemies. Although it was expedited to face up to one of the greatest natural calamities the nation has ever experienced – namely, the incessant rainstorms that killed many and rendered homeless more than 130,000 – its ramifications were prompted as a counterweight to the sabotage of the newly empowered Mudistas and their foreign paymasters.

Certainly the drive to topple the Chavista forces will continue. This is the central dynamic of imperialism. But there are many positive forces that are visibly giving an enormous thrust to the Bolivarian revolution. The first is the rise in price of Venezuela’s major export, petroleum, the continued buildup of the nation’s productive forces (with agricultural modernization and national self-sufficiency playing a crucial role) and, not least, the deep feelings of revolutionary fervour and patriotism that have seized the nation stemming from the successful organizational drives and structural reforms taking place within the party and the administration. The second and no less important factor is the continuous political and military debacles of American imperialism on all fronts, most recently in the Middle East. It is impotent to reverse these defeats which will continue to bleed the nation’s resources, thereby weakening its drive for global hegemony.

A p p e n d i x :  

A m e r i c a n  S h a m e

USA is ranked as the worst country among “Advanced economy” countries. The International Monetary Fund used various measures to compare the rating of “Advanced economy” countries . The countries in the table are ranked from worst to best. The numbers in the table show the ranking from worst to best in each measure. The bracketed numbers show the actual data.

Income

Unemployment

Gallup

Food Insecurity ‘Have there been times in the past 12

inequality

rate

Global

months when you did not have enough money to buy

(Gini Index)

Most

Wellbeing

food that you or your family needed?’ Percentage

Higher

recent

Index

answering yes.

numbers

estimates

(percen-

represent

tage)

Life

Prison

Student

more

thriving,

Expectancy  Population

Performance

income

2010)

At Birth

per

Math

Science

inequality

100,000

Scale

Scale

citizens

Score

Score

R a n k i n g  f r o m  W o r s t  t o  B e s t

1.

United States

3 (45.0)

8 (9.0)

16 (57)

1 (16)

6 (78.24)

1 (743)

4 (487)

13 (502)

2.

Portugal

5 (38.5)

4 (10.7)

3 (22)

5 (10)

7 (78.38)

16 (110)

4 (487)

7 (493)

3.

Greece

10 (33.0)

3 (12.0)

6 (31)

6 (9)

10 (79.8)

19 (102)

2 (466)

2 (470)

4.

Spain

13 (32.0)

1 (20.0)

8 (36)

3 (14)

26 (81.07)

9 (159)

3 (483)

4 (488)

5.

Israel

4 (39.2)

18 (6.4)

17 (62)

2 (15)

24 (80.86)

2 (325)

1 (447)

1 (455)

6.

Slovakia

23 (26.0)

2 (12.5)

2 (21)

1 (75.62)

8 (185)

10 (497)

6 (490)

7.

Taiwan

­    —

21 (5.2)

3 (22)

5 (78.15)

3 (282)

8.

Slovenia

20 (28.4)

5 (10.6)

4 (27)

4 (11)

3 (77.12)

29 (67)

12 (501)

16 (512)

9.

Czech Republic

23 (26.0)

7 (9.3)

9 (39)

2 (77.01)

5 (211)

7 (493)

12 (500)

10. France

11 (32.7)

6 (9.5)

7 (35)

6 (9)

27 (81.09)

23 (96)

10 (497)

10 (498)

11. Italy

13 (32.0)

10 (8.4)

9 (39)

2 (15)

21 (80.33)

15 (113)

3 (483)

5 (489)

12. Korea

14 (31.4)

26 (3.7)

5 (28)

1 (16)

9 (78.81)

21 (98)

24 (546)

24 (538)

13. Cyprus

19 (29.0)

19 (6.0)

12 (45)

5 (10)

4 (77.66)

17 (105)

14. Singapore

2 (48.1)

27 (2.3)

1 (19)

13 (2)

31 (82.06)

4 (273)

25 (562)

26 (542)

15. Ireland

16 (30.7)

9 (8.6)

14 (49)

8 (7)

19 (80.07)

20 (99)

4 (487)

15 (508)

16. United Kingdom

8 (34.0)

14 (7.9)

6 (9)

18 (79.92)

6 (206)

6 (492)

17 (514)

17. Luxembourg

23 (26.0)

20 (5.5)

12 (45)

14 (79.48)

12 (139)

5 (489)

3 (484)

18. New Zealand

7 (36.2)

17 (6.5)

22 (80.48)

7 (203)

18 (519)

23 (532)

19. Iceland

20 (28.0)

9 (8.6)

13 (47)

23 (80.79)

30 (60)

14 (507)

9 (496)

20. Hong Kong

1 (53.3)

23 (4.6)

18 (65)

9 (6)

30 (81.96)

10 (141)

24 (555)

27 (549)

21. Sweden

25 (23.0)

11 (8.3)

19 (68)

10 (5)

25 (80.97)

27 (78)

8 (494)

8 (495)

22. Japan

6 (38.1)

21 (5.2)

1 (19)

8 (7)

32 (82.17)

31 (59)

21 (529)

25 (539)

23. Malta

23 (26.0)

16 (7.0)

10 (40)

16 (79.59)

11 (140)

24. Belgium

21 (28.0)

12 (8.1)

15 (56)

12 (79.37)

22 (97)

17 (515)

14 (507)

25. Finland

18 (29.5)

14 (7.9)

21 (75)

11 (79.13)

30 (60)

23 (541)

28 (554)

26. Denmark

19 (29.0)

24 (4.2)

22 (82)

12 (3)

8 (78.47)

28 (71)

13 (503)

11 (499)

27. Switzerland

9 (33.7)

25 (3.9)

17 (62)

11 (4)

25 (80.97)

26 (79)

22 (534)

18 (517)

28. Austria

23 (26.0)

23 (4.6)

16 (57)

17 (79.65)

18 (103)

9 (496)

10 (497)

29. Germany

22 (27.0)

15 (7.1)

11 (43)

9 (6)

13 (79.41)

25 (85)

15 (513)

19 (520)

30. Netherlands

15 (30.9)

20 (5.5)

19 (68)

15 (79.55)

24 (94)

19 (526)

20 (522)

31. Norway

24 (25.0)

26 (3.7)

20 (69)

20 (80.08)

28 (71)

11 (498)

12 (500)

32. Canada

12 (32.1)

13 (8.0)

17 (62)

7 (8)

28 (81.29)

14 (117)

20 (527)

22 (529)

33. Australia

17 (30.5)

22 (5.1)

17 (62)

29 (81.72)

13 (133)

16 (514)

21 (527)

The table has been reordered based on data from The New York Times.  

Notes

[1]  Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York, 1996. Zinn demystified the notion of “American democracy” popularized by such writers as de Tocqueville and Harold Laski. 

[2] Toussaint Louverture’s slave armies in Saint Domingue defeated the combined colonial expeditionary forces of France and Britain. He was the first great internationalist not only in the Americas but in the world, and a pioneer in the colonial liberation struggles. He was duped by Napoleon (whose wife Josephine came from one of the wealthiest slave-owning plantation families in the Caribbean island of Martinique) into a false negotiation with the French. He was captured, tortured and, together with his wife, transported in chains from Saint Domingue to France, where he was incarcerated in the concentration camp of Fort de Joux in the Departement de Doubs.    Both he and his wife quickly succumbed to repeated beatings, malnutrition and the severe cold. In France (and no less so in Britain and the slaveowner-dominated republic of the United States) the sentiment had been that,  in the words of Napoleon, “we must get rid of that nigger.”

[3] Cuba and Venezuela: The Nemeses of Imperialism, Citizens International, Penang, Malaysia, 2007.

[4]  For a highly evocative and analytical description of that abortive coup and its mechanisms, see  the interview of President Correa with Ignacio Ramonet, “Pedi una pistola para defenderme”, in Le Monde Diplomatique (Spanish edition), January 2011.

[5]  Quoted in Time,  21 September 1952.

[6] For the historical development of this idea, see my work, The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism: The Making of the Economic Gulag, Southbound and Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia, 1996.

[7] The current foreign trade deficit illustrates the debt gap; US exports are merely 67 per cent of  its imports and there is no possibility in the near and medium term of equalizing  the difference  and then moving on to build up a trade surplus. This unfavourable trade balance (which is debt) has persisted for more than a quarter of a century.

[8] Joseph Schumpeter, “The Communist Manifesto in sociology and economics”, Journal of Political Economy, June 1949. See also his History of Economic Analysis, New York, 1954.

The Right to Development in the Arab World

March 3rd, 2011 by Dr. Ali Kadri

At this juncture in Arab history, there is an opportunity to be grasped. Unless there is a successful transition from the political to the social revolution in the Arab world, the sacrifice made by the Arab people will be betrayed. The following is a proposal to expose some of the previous aspects of development and economic performance in the Arab world with the aim to infuse the development debate with the idea of development as a human right. It need not be said, the present struggle is a struggle for rights. The idea of rights empowers people; it gives them a sense of self affirmation. The language of rights establishes a framework for the allocation of resources. Without the rights rhetoric we will end up with a totally uncaring market system that will not solve our problems.[1]

 

Introduction           

Development is about unleashing human potentialities and broadening the choices of people. It is a fair and balanced outcome combining the rights to food, shelter, universal health care, work and the right to vote. It is freedom from hunger, from oppression and all that stands in the way of people participating fully and unhampered in shaping their future.[2] On a less qualitative note, development is also the infusion of knowledge in production, incremental growth in capital and progressive institutional change that responds to the demand of working people. Development, in the broad sense, combines the freedom paradigm and capital accumulation- but, not in a static combination. It is the mediation by which the agent, or the subject of history, interacts with the totality of the social condition for the purpose of development. Development therefore becomes the articulation of the social forces that shape capital accumulation. It is the outcome of  peoples struggles, in particular, anti-imperialist struggle, to improve their lives through the political process.

Choosing the appropriate development strategy is not independent of the overall vision for the future of the economy and society and the context defining the parameters within which the strategy will be articulated. It is crucial to start with a correct appreciation of the social forces shaping the present and the full legacy of the past without losing sight of the fact that development is a long term process. The second we place development in the long term, the developing world overcomes the idea that developing countries are emerging markets that have to report financial gains on quarterly basis as if they had become the counterpart of Morgan-Stanley. Long term development is about placing the social agenda before the credit ratings of global and Breton-woods financial accounting. It is the deployment of real national resources in a developmental project. This perspective and a thorough assessment of the undercurrents of this particular revolutionary historical process form the connecting grounds that allow the pursuit of development objectives. It, more decisively, reorients policy in a way that redresses the costs of neoliberal experiments that toyed with people’s lives in the past, fosters an agenda that cuts across the divide of economic efficiency and social values, and promotes the idea of development as a human right.[3]

The intrinsic value of the right to development has been widely recognised. In essence, “[t]he right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.”[4] 

The right includes:

  • full sovereignty over natural resources, including self-determination and popular participation in development;
  • the right to work and equality of opportunity;
  • the creation of favourable conditions for the enjoyment of other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;
  • peace and security are essential elements for the realisation of the right to development.

The individual and the collective, which overrides the right to property at the individual level, are identified as the beneficiaries of the right to development, as of all human rights. The right to development can be invoked both by individuals and by peoples. It imposes obligations both on individual States – to ensure equal and adequate access to essential resources – and on the international community – to promote fair development policies and effective international cooperation.[5] The state, which recognises the right to development and the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, economic policies, should bridge the wealth divide, furbish the right to decent work and the right to a decent standard of living.

In the Arab world, economic policies are concentrated in the competence of the state. It is the efficiency and practicality of public policies that should be accountable and come under independent public scrutiny. The role of economic policy and, more specifically, fiscal and monetary policy is to find the appropriate regime that mediates disparate developments and puts interest back in the national and regional economies. Under the right to development rubric, economic growth should meet basic needs and not be a trickle down arrangement. Also, the Arab world is a world that is so interlocked with the global economy, such that, it would not be possible to lock in resources for development without international cooperation. “The international community, comprising countries and institutions at the international level, has the responsibility to create a global environment conducive for development.  Indeed, by virtue of their acceptance and commitment to the legal instruments, the members of the international community have the obligation to support effectively the efforts of Arab States that set for themselves the goal of realizing human rights, including the right to development, through trade, investment, financial assistance and technology transfer.”[6] Without this rudimentary cornerstone of an economic strategy designed to reduce poverty and unemployment, it is unlikely that any economic program of action can meet the basics of human rights, compensate working people for their suffering under the neoliberal assault and, generally, to secure the right to development.

The economy of the Arab world in perspective

Oil prices are set to remain high in 2011 and, consequently, economic growth in the Arab world as a whole is expected to be higher than usual once more. High growth rates over the last nine years signify a departure from a poor growth trend that started in the mid-eighties. Growing demand for oil from developing countries continues and world demand for oil is set to grow into 2012. Higher quantities and prices imply that the share of oil in Arab GDP will remain high. In 2009, the share of oil constituted nearly 40 and 55 per cent of Arab world and GCC GDP respectively. But, despite a solid growth performance in 2003-2010, unemployment rates responded poorly to economic growth and remained critically high. There was roughly a two-three percentage point drop in unemployment over a seven-year period (2003-2009) that witnessed a cumulative growth rate of 35 percent- here I am only referring to the official rates, which are way underestimated. In an area that exhibits the highest rate of unemployment globally (15 percent), this weak response in job creation to growth makes anomalous the law of labour demand as derived demand and stands counter to the right to work as per the universal declaration of human rights. This otherwise chronically low income elasticity of labour demand vis-à-vis other regions springs from the fact that much of income is derived from oil rents. It is income earned without effort by the US backed ruling elite that controls the state via the security apparatus.  It is also income that is channelled to support US debt and affluent consumption. Arab financial wealth does not get re-ploughed back on the productive side of national economies because development, which empowers the Arab people is prohibited by a US imperialist agenda in cahoots with Arab regimes. Mainstream economist cite fear of risk and an alleged lack of national absorptive capacity or, evidently, both as false alibis for diverting resources abroad. Just the idea of lack of absorptive capacity in underdeveloped economies calls for ridicule. Even the Gulf, with more than a five trillion dollars surplus in unrequited transfers, is still categorised as underdeveloped.  In the Arab world there are deep seated reasons associated with the nature of the accumulation process that disrupt the intermediation between economic expansion and social development and, consequently, vitiate a plethora of U.N. covenants and declarations relating to development as a human right.[7] Foremost among these reasons, is the continued US assault on the Arab people, which intends to strip of their will and the right to own their resources, in collaboration with an Arab comprador bourgeoisie that has long ruled by outright tyranny and brutality. 

The high rate of Arab unemployment is the accumulated product of about three of de-socialisation, class restructuring, declining investment rates, cyclical contraction and a production process that is labour unfriendly. Since the early 1980’s, the economies of the Arab world have been subjected to a neoliberal offensive and performing way below potential. While the real GDP per capita, for the region as a whole, was growing annually at a respectable rate during the 1970s (4.5 per cent), it declined at the annual rate of negative three per cent during the 1980s, and grew at the staggeringly low rate of 0.34 per cent during the 1990s. This prolonged contraction in economic activities was associated with a chronically high rate of unemployment, which despite a buoyant recent performance, which lasted for nearly a decade, remains at astonishingly high levels. As a case in point, it is pointless to speak of this unemployment rate when half the population resides below the poverty line.

When the cornerstone of development, namely the creation of decent jobs, fails to be met, the causes have to be explored not so much in the slow rate of build-up in machinery, physical plant and equipment, but in the way power, control and decision making are articulated between the Arab and extra-regional social formations. The failure to meet the target of jobs and poverty alleviation under the right to development to which all Arab countries are signatories points to shortcomings in the way various national institutions, which are dominated by comprador classes allied with US imperialism, relate to each other and to the outside world. It is at this fundamental level that disparities in development have to be explored and the causal mechanisms should be laid bare. When development is enshrined as a right, it becomes the responsibility of all participants. Furthermore, in a closely integrated world, the accountability cuts across national boundaries, and responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the United States and its despotic Arab allies. It is not a country, a nationality or a people that is responsible for the crime of poor development, it is a social class. Rebuilding the Arab world under the development as a human right edict should be a combined regional and international effort aligning the interest of working social classes across borders.

Arab oil rents have also dichotomised economies in a very unproductive way. A highly capitalised oil sector created few jobs relative to the capital invested in it and, in an adjunct manner, decent job expansion occurred through patronage in the public sector. The latter sector however, was not deployed to absorb the high rate of new young entrants into socially useful activity. Public sector employment was used to generate consent via clientalism and diverseness of the working class by favouring one social group over another. As to the private sector, the presence of weak financial intermediation between money assets that accrue from oil rent and physical capital, in addition to a healthy rise in income associated with rising productivity, the rest of economy leaned ever more heavily towards the service and informal sectors. All in the main, these poverty stricken informal sectors employ the majority of the labour force.

In the Arab world, the desired virtuous developmental circle, which is for people to generate a earn and support a decent living standard from national jobs, was obviated principally because profits are drawn from short term merchant and rent seeking  activity tapping into oil rents as opposed to an industrially based development path. For now, if and when, the very volatile oil price tumbles, it will put in check a whole mode of development that is namely based on oil revenues. This mode of development is indeed precarious. It is not difficult to foresee that the oil rush is not sustainable and, it already happened once, starting in 1981 and lasting well into 2002. In this span of time real per capita GDP as reported by the world Bank for Saudi Arabia fell from around 18,000 US$ to about 6000 US$. The rate of those living below the national poverty line even in supposedly wealthy Saudi Arabia rose to around twenty percent of the population.

Uneven development and deepening labour force differentiation represent the mainstay of state policy in the Arab world. The process is aided and abetted by imperial and Zionist aggression, which puts in check the very idea that development is a long term process. So not only are internal national policies prohibiting development, but the risk of conflict spilling over at any time vitiates the future and annuls the long term. Developmental projects, which require long gestation periods, are no longer considered. Short term rents in all the economic sectors prevail making the present more valuable than the future. A FIRE economy flourishes (FIRE stands for finance, insurance, and real estate). But still, it may be relevant to recall that the overarching condition of imperialistically imposed geopolitical risk and its impact on inter-temporal preferences, institutional anti-working class bias, and the already inherent uneven developmental state of Arab countries come together to further thwart the path of development. Development therefore become the joint struggle against the local ruling despots and their imperialist patrons.

Uneven development and inequitable income distribution are remarkable in the Arab world. Risky small markets represent the context in which a development strategy has to be addressed. Small markets lead to little capital accumulation and vice versa. Security exposed countries also hinder the formation of development friendly capital. That is why regionalism and Arab integration are key operational solutions to the paradox of small markets and risk.

To illustrate the unevenness, on one end, densely populated  Yemen is an LDC with a median monthly income of 100 US$ per family of seven, and sparsely populated Qatar’s comparable median income is near the 4000US$ mark. Within the existing rent and rentier class based and biased institutional context, presumptive redistribution allowing for lesser concentration of private wealth and greater interest in regional development is highly unlikely either within or across Arab countries. Oil rentiers do not reinvest in their countries for the purpose of capitalising productive capacity because their earnings are generated from the sale of natural assets found in their respective countries. To date much of the Gulf region excess savings, some five trillion dollars over 40 years, are divested abroad. The inter/intra wealth and income divide between lower and highest quintiles/deciles is highest globally in the Arab world (Texas income inequality data project). These lingering  forms of social bonding, e.g. confessional ethnic and tribal, were purposefully reinforced by the rise of rent seeking comprador bourgeoisie and the constraints imposed on post independence state institutions from the imperialist centre with the sole purpose of dividing working people to strengthen pro-imperialist regimes. This has meant that the degree of disarticulation between the social and economic condition widened. People are forced by state policy to identify and belong socially to some repressive social hierarchical institution like a tribe or sect, whilst their incomes and livelihood are being decided on the commodities future market of the twenty first century. That is why the revolutionary process should situate sovereignty in the purview of the people and in the acknowledgment of the rights of citizenry. Power, under the right to development, belongs to the people, not to oppressive institutions that strip people of their rights. Little will happen in the way of putting a common denominator across national or neighbouring social classes unless the mechanisms and the payoffs, including the springing of NGOs sponsored by the World Bank, which have gone to breed divisiveness are halted.

Despite excess financial savings, the Arab world veered off course in meeting developmental goals. The alienation of the population, especially from partaking in political life, had weakened the security of Arab people and excluded stability over the long term, which is needed to redress frail investment in infrastructure, plant and equipment. The Arab world exhibits the lowest rate of investment, the highest rate of unemployment and the widest spread in income distribution. Political regime and elite insecurity shifted the accent away from development to stabilization efforts and squandered resources. So long as the working classes were insecure in their living conditions, so was the national arrangement and, conjunctionally, the balance of forces shifted gravely in favour of Zionism and imperialism. Institutions remoulded with security concerns in mind and developing under the onus of sluggish and highly erratic economic growth distort income distribution and wealth, in favour of political strongholds, hence, the euphemism ‘the privately owned public sector in the Arab world.’ A weak post independence starting point and successive defeats of Arab socialist regimes against Israel, especially the latest defeat and occupation of Iraq, exposed the security of the labouring classes across the region, weakened publicly accountable institutions and sapped resources to the point where the goal of development fulfilling basic needs under human rights became untenable.

Policy issues for the future

A turn around in development policy is needed to keep pace with the demands of development as a human right. The revolutionary vanguard in the Arab world has a commitment to the Arab people to part with the imperialist sponsored IMF and World Bank policies that have wrought havoc. There is at an essential level an irreconcilability of interest between imperialism and its regional allies with the interest of the Arab people. It is a process of accumulation pinned upon a class struggle. Before resorting to technical economic jargon on the matter, there need be an exposition of the ways in which different social classes and their representative institutions, regional and extra-regional relate to each other and are situated vis-à-vis the allocation of national or regional resources. In a context of continuing dependency, deepening national social rifts hollow out the role of the state as the realisation of common will and accentuate the negative impact of the international division of labour. When sovereignty as the embodiment of social and political rights weakens, sovereignty over national resources also weakens. In other words, the national ownership of domestic resources, a concept upon which there exists widespread consensus, should squarely mean that Arab nationals own their resources and that the institutional context be one that facilitates the process of turning financially earned resources into real wealth. The latter operational requirement implies that the often flaunted issue of ‘governance,’ which is a pseudonym of imperialist control, embeds national and international dimensions simultaneously, especially so, insofar as the international resource liberalisation regimes imposed by the Washington institutions, including free capital movement and imply anti-development flows. Locking in resources for the purpose of development in an otherwise capital rich developing Arab world requires an intertwining of the social with political order. A realignment of social and political interests did not occur so far. The present revolutionary process should bring these together.

This begs the question as to why globalisation, which is another buzzword for imperialist expansion, undermines the sovereignty of Arab developing states why the issue of good ‘governance’ is mainly a matter that applies to small developing states when the Security Council and the Breton Woods institutions themselves lack universally representative governance.[8] By analysing the structure of regional social formations and the lopsided mode of integration imposed upon the Arab world by the brute military power of US imperialism and its ally, Israel, a point of departure can be envisaged as to how it will be possible to connect different national social classes in a joint program of action for development.

 For the Arab world to meet the right to development over the next decade, it will require, at least in part, the creation of 85 million decent jobs via a socially designed labour absorption plan in which the state has to firstly redistribute unequal assets and secondly,  act as an employer of last resort. However, this will entail more than simple change in the growth optimization strategy of Arab states or minor adjustments to fiscal and monetary policies. It will involve a shift in the Arab class structure and institutional parameters that contribute to heightened regional insecurity, block greater efficiency in investment, and inhibit closer regional integration and coordination. The inevitable predisposition of major macroeconomic and demographic variables towards collision implied that there is little space for argument over the unavoidability of violent convulsions unless the idea of development as a human right takes hold of the imagination. The built up of discrepancies in an Arab economy that does not expand at a rate commensurate with the demands of working people means that change will not be gauged as a matter of degree even if the façade or semblance of parliamentary democracy are in place. Democracy is that which addresses the concerns and needs of working people. The US is seeking to impose an Arab democracy that would be better to its interests than the deposed dictatorships. Democracy is not protocol or etiquette of voting boxes, it is the reincarnation of the interests of working people. In light of this, the state, or the institution foremost responsible for development, may be hard pressed to reinvent itself as a mediator of various social interests, to further guarantee development friendly capital accumulation and to thoroughly implement checks and balances or conflict of interest policies/clauses. Harbouring a long term view of development would necessarily imply that the neighbourhood effect must figure prominently in the approach adopted and so does the issue of Arab integration as a corollary to the issue of development as a human right.

The fundamental premise of the right to development is that the freedom to participate in political life and organise represent an essential logical predicate to development. Social achievements accomplished by participatory democracy are safeguarded by the working people and hard to reverse later. It can occur that development may proceed under conditions of partial or selective democracy, but that will remain susceptible to dissolution since its achievement also represents a partial or selective realization of the public will and aspiration. Partial and selective democracies exclude huge sections of the population from representation. The absence of an unbiased flow of information, lack of provision of basic needs making working social classes vulnerable to manipulation en masse, poor institution of legal rights and, mostly, the perceived precariousness of the state as a viable institution undermine the essence of a democratic process. External imperial threats duly considered, the way in which Arab social structures are organised today leaves little room for input into the political and development decision making process from the broader working class base.

Meeting the concerns of development as a human right requires a process of capital accumulation guaranteeing the right to work. In the light of the inequitable and rent based growth performance of the Arab world and the eroding effects of neoliberal adjustment on welfare, absolute poverty levels rose across the board. In the immediate term, stabilizing or enhancing income distribution, including land reform, are needed for the Arab world. When savings outstrip investment in oil or geopolitical rent driven economies, there need not be concern for the widow’s cruise or the notion that the rich save and the poor do not. Savings flow abroad anyways. Current account surpluses are invariably implying capital exports from the region. The fact that so little has been done to redress inequitable national and regional income distribution may be related to the structure of rent based institutions that intensify social and cultural differences for the purpose of maintaining the acquisition of rents. Despite being capable of affording the so called luxury of equity and various social security valves and mechanisms, the hold of the ruling elite on oil rents and the bias for merchant or commercial as opposed to the industrial capital will not allow any of the Arab countries the stability needed to maintain sustainable social programs in the long run. Development therefore will require measures of autarky, including capital account controls, selective trade protection for national industry and the deployment of real national resources in an industrially based project of development.

The right to development should be realized through a programme of coordinated regional action. Development plans are to be implemented through a “Arab regional development compact” assisted the international community, which is also responsible for the disaster of Arab underdevelopment. In order to secure their supplies of oil under American tutelage, the world was for a long time silent about the slaughter to which the Arab people were subjected by their ruling regimes and imperialist allies. So, the emphasis has to be placed on regional and international cooperation. Under the regional development compact, Arab countries would undertake to fulfil their national human rights obligations, while the international community would provide the necessary safeguards in assisting an agenda of industrially based development and regional cooperation. The immediate points to consider are:

  • Joint Arab regional investment facilitated by intraregional trade and access to markets.
  • Arab intraregional transfer of resources and technology.
  • Protection and guarantees of regional labour and capital, e.g. preferential legislation facilitating the flows inter-regional labour and capital.
  • Restructuring of the regional financial system to give each less-capital endowed country a greater share in power and decision-making and to increase the flow of private capital to their economies.

Right based development under occupation is, as a matter of course, nearly impossible and at best highly tenuous. Occupation, especially in Iraq and Palestine, is first and foremost a categorical revocation of the International Bill of Human Rights. Requisitioning national security and personal safety are more policy imperatives than policy options for Arab countries under direct foreign occupation. However, the longer-term strategy for development and command over national resources, as per the purview of the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights (entry into force 1976), should remain in the competence of the peoples of the Arab world residing under occupation, whose right to self determination still stands, especially in Iraq and Occupied Palestine.

           

Parting comments

For the Arab world, as a whole, already slightly more than fifty percent of the population subsists at below two dollars a day.[9] And if we were to look for the causes of this poor development, we will be hard pressed to find another more relevant reason than an imperialist driven historical process that shaped Arab institutions under the onus of joint imperial/Arab regime control stripping working people from the right to own and deploy  their resources for their benefit. The result up until now is the highly inequitable growth, rising poverty levels and a fragmented market that is in dire need of retaining resources.

In the Arab world, the right to development is synonymous with the right to working class security, which is fundamentally security from want. Achieving this right could only come as a result of international collaboration to arrest US led imperialist aggression against the Arab people and to allow the present revolutionary process to turn political gains into social gains. For long, the degree to which present day forms of US led global accumulation, which are highly dependent on oil, and global economic imbalances, in particular, the dollar as an overstretched global currency, have shut out critique from governments/political groups around the world against the abuse to which Arab people were being subjected. There are so many countries that have even provided military support for the unlawful invasion and occupation of Iraq. Human rights violations in the Arab world, including the right to development, were shyly mentioned, if at all. Many countries are dependent on the US and its imperial stature and, hence, they aided and abetted the  prolongation of the occupation of  Iraq and the present interventions to circumvent the rise of Arab people. It was a sort of inter imperialist entente because the US controlled the oil waterways and the global economy rode on the back of US consumption. Their concern was what if the US lost the war to Arab resistance, would our dollar denominated wealth and economies come down with it.

There need be a smoothing of the transition from the present day US accumulation order. An alternative to the accumulation, which dispossesses and dislocates the Arab people exists. Social democratic systems have proven to be better performing in economic dynamism and in the provision of welfare. The people of the Arab world are readily and duly entitled to peace security and the speedy implementation of international resolutions relating jointly to the rights of development and to self-determination.

Ali Kadri is presently a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE). Formerly, he served as Head of the Economic Analysis Section of the United Nations regional office in Beirut. [email protected].

Notes

[1]  These are the words of the late South African Justice, Albie Sachs.

[2] Sen, A.K. Development as Freedom, (1999) Oxford University Press.

[3] Development is regarded as a process of economic growth, with expanding output and employment, institutional transformation and technological progress of a country that steadily improves the well-being of all people.  When that well-being is regarded as the fulfillment of human rights and fundamental freedoms that enhance the capabilities of the people to realize their full potential, the process of development that leads to the improvement of that well-being can be claimed as a human right.  The realization of the right to development is seen as the fulfillment of a set of claims by people, principally on their State but also on the society at large, including the international community, to a process that enables them to realize the rights and freedoms set forth in the International Bill of Human Rights. Economic and Social Council, COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, Working Group on the Right to Development, Geneva, 11-20 February 2004.

[4] http://www.unhchr.ch/development/

[5] Ibid. 
[6] Review of progress and obstacles in the promotion, implementation, operationalisation, and enjoyment of the right to development. E/CN.4/2004/WG.18/2, 17 February 2004. 

[7]  A/RES/56/150 The right to development,  A/RES/55/2 United Nations Millennium Declaration, A/RES/55/110 Human rights and unilateral coercive measures,  A/RES/55/108 The right to development, A/RES/54/175 The right to development, A/RES/53/155 Right to development, /RES/52/136 Right to development, A/RES/52/120 Human rights and unilateral coercive measures, A/RES/51/99 Right to development, A/RES/50/184 Right to development.            

[8] ‘[t]oday’s standard economists grope for explanations of continued poverty outside their own profession. They return to factors that have been studied and discarded before by the economics profession, like race and climate, and refuse to see that all historical experience tells us that the economic structure of wealthy countries all have certain characteristics that poor nations lack (increasing returns, innovations, diversity, synergies). The collapse of the first wave of globalisation led economists into eugenics or racial hygiene[9]. Africans were not seen as poor because of the colonial economic structure that had been imposed on the continent; Africans were poor because they were black. During a more enlightened era 400 years ago, Francis Bacon discarded race as a factor explaining wealth and poverty. Today the marginally more politically correct version of this type of theory is that Africa is poor because blacks are corrupt.’ A similar case can be made for the Arab world whose population are Africans or Afro- Asians (my italics). See Development and Social Goals: Balancing Aid and Development to Prevent ‘Welfare Colonialism’. Correspondence with Prof. Erik S. Reinert, The Other Canon Foundation, Norway & Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia,  July 1, 2005. 

[9] The case may be that unlike the rest of the world, for the Arab Region the 1$ benchmark does not represent a valid indicator of absolute poverty. With the exception of Syria and Morocco, the rest of Arab countries are Net Food Dependent Importing Countries (NFDIC) and, therefore, the subsistence bundle is priced at already high world prices while the income of the marginalized strata is determined at low domestic levels. And, hence, when one considers that the absolute poverty benchmark should be closer to 2$, it then turns out that nearly 50% of the population in the Arab countries reside in conditions closer to abject poverty.

VIDEO: Libya Operation: Foreign Oil Interests Prompt Invasion

March 3rd, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

For quite some time now the United States has had a mountain of debt which has grown to the point where it is now unpayable. Only recently, (since Obama came into office and the Tea Party came about) has the federal government been paying attention to its spending rates. The main solution that has been pushed by the Republicans is austerity. Those in power act as if these cuts will suddenly cure all the nation’s economic woes, while ignoring the massive ‘defense’ budget. It seems that our representatives  either are not aware of or are ignoring just how inhumane and ironic austerity is.

Education

Recently,  Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, sent a message to all of its public teachers telling them that they could potentially be laid off by year’s end. The local government reasoned that it was necessary “because of the dire fiscal straits that both Providence and its school system are in.”[1] This puts the education of many school children at risk. The effects of these cuts will most likely be larger class sizes and a lower quality of education for attendees of public schools

Also, the federal government is planning to cut Pell Grants, which aid many low-income college students in paying for their education. This proposal is actually unfair in that it “hurts Pell Grant funding more severely than other budget items”[2] and the current increase is only to make up for the increases that should have happened during the Bush administration. Due to these Pell Grant cuts and increases in college tuition costs, many low-income college students may very well be forced to drop out.

These cuts are not only inhumane in that they make the suffering of the poor the solution to the current problems, but is also ironic. The right-wing wants to see an economically and militarily strong America, yet how does one expect America to be either when its young are uneducated?

Social Security

Many Republicans on Capitol Hill are up in arms, arguing that Social Security has to be cut in order to balance the budget. They completely ignore the importance Social Security to the elderly, especially those of color. Social Security provides most retirees with about two-thirds of their income, but with people of color, it provides 90% of all income.[3] In advocating cuts to Social Security, both political parties are advocating a war on not only poor people, but a war that mainly targets people of color.

Yet, the most shocking part is that Republicans and the Democrats are not only willing to let other people’s parents and grandparents suffer,  but are willing to let the young suffer as well. The people who will suffer the most from an increase in the retirement age is this generation of young people, who will find that they will have to work more and more years just to be eligible for Social Security benefits.

When taking into account the employment situation of those who receive Social Security, the predicament for those affected becomes even more ironic. One proposal virtually forces the elderly to go and find a job in order to be able to support themselves, while the other proposal forces younger people to work for more years. Yet both are going to have to deal with the Great Recession and its main effect: little to no job growth. What this essentially does is subject both old and young to a meager existence, at the beck and call of corporations who can fire them at any moment, knowing that they (the corporations) have a virtually limitless labor pool to draw from.

Medicare and Medicaid

Everyone, from the President to the newest House member has been pressing for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. They say that it is the main problem with our budget and that, just like with all other social programs, we just can’t keep funding them, lest we eventually go bankrupt. According to the latest information, 15% of the population is on Medicare while 19% is on Medicaid.[4] Even if only a small amount of the funding is effected, this will have serious effects as the health care of both seniors and the poor is taken out from under their feet. Once again, as with Social Security, we see the irony in this. Since the poor and elderly will have no health insurance, the only way they’ll be able to get health insurance is by going back to work, yet there are so few jobs available.

Food Assistance

With assisting the poor in getting access to food, it seems that in this too, the government has decided that it would be best to cut funding. An article in the Iowa Independent states “The cliff in food stamps means that one month, a family will receive a set amount of money, about $4.50 per person per day. The next month, they will get less.” (emphasis added) [5] In good economic conditions, that amount would barely feed a family for a month and this is even more true today, when one looks at rising food costs! It is impossible for anyone to survive on such a meager income. The irony is that this may very well create criminal elements in society where there were none before, as people turn to crime to fill their stomachs. This irony becomes stronger when one considers that there was a 14% increase in the number of food stamp recipients last year.[6]

The most ironic part of austerity measures, though, is how they create a situation where the public is willing to fight back and rally against the destruction of their lives. The elite have a perception that they are invulnerable and that their intelligence is second to none, yet they are unable to realize that the very things they are doing to shore up revenues in the short-term will be their long-term downfall.

Devon DB is 19 years old and studying political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Notes

1: http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/23/news/economy/Providence_teachers_layoff_notices/index.htm

2: http://www.fastweb.com/financial-aid/articles/3006-congress-proposes-big-cuts-in-pell-grants

3: http://www.nsclc.org/areas/social-security-ssi/social-security-cuts-would-hurt-low-income-older-adults

4: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparebar.jsp?ind=291&cat=6&sub=74&yr=138&typ=2&sort=a

5: http://iowaindependent.com/44131/the-real-impact-cutting-food-stamps

6: http://pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/food-stamp-recipients-2010.html

Paris: The USA, France and Great Britain now have military assets in the Mediterranean.

France has decided to send the Mistral, its helicopter-carrier, which, according to the Defense Ministry will contribute to evacuation of thousands of Egyptians.

In the meantime two American vessels entered the Mediterranean today, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce, which is carrying 800 marines as well as a fleet of helicopters and a medical crew. The vessels sailed up the Suez Canal towards the coasts of Libya.

Last week Canadian negotiators met with their Honduran counterparts in Tegucigalpa to discuss a free trade agreement (FTA). Negotiators from the two countries last met in Ottawa in December. According to the Honduran press, an agreement is close to being completed. This marks an alarming development in the efforts of the Canadian state and multinational corporations to deepen their relations with Honduras following the military coup of June 28, 2009.

The trade agreement with Honduras is part of Canada’s broader political and economic engagement with Latin America, driven by the desire to “lock in market access” (to quote Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s economic policy strategy) in the region for Canadian corporations. Canadian companies have expanded into the region at a considerable pace over the last 20 years, particularly in mining and banking. Canada is now the third largest foreign investor nation throughout the hemisphere south of the United States. Control for the size of their respective economies, and Canadian companies have a higher investment orientation to the region than those of the United States.

Property Rights vs Human Rights

Trade agreements, with their strong protections for the rights of foreign investors, including the ability to sue governments, offer great security for the private property and profits of Canadian capitalists, human rights be damned. And indeed, signing trade agreements with gross violators of human rights is becoming a bit of an art form for the Canadian state. In 2008, Canada concluded trade agreements with Colombia and Peru. Colombia has the worst human rights record in the hemisphere, and accounts for two-thirds of the trade unionists assassinated in the world annually. The implementation legislation of the Peruvian agreement, meanwhile, was passed in the Canadian parliament two weeks after the Peruvian security forces attacked an indigenous blockade, killing at least 50 protesters. The blockade was set up to protest the Peruvian government’s free trade policies and its goal of opening indigenous land to mining and oil and gas investors.

And now Canada is about to sign an agreement with Honduras, whose citizens still live under the large and menacing shadow of the military coup against left-of-centre president, Manuel Zelaya. Concluding a trade agreement with Honduras is an important achievement for the Canadian state – payoff for the strong support it has given the Honduran coup forces centred among the country’s political, military and economic leaders.

Supporting a Coup, Again

The military removal of Zelaya was the second successful coup in the hemisphere since Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori‘s autogolpe in 1992 (for background on the Honduran coup see Greg Grandin’s articles at www.thenation.com and my article “Acceptable Versus Unacceptable Repression”). The first successful one was the 2004 overthrow of Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which Canada also supported diplomatically, economically and militarily (that’s Canada’s “whole of government” approach to foreign policy in action for you). This makes Canada two for two in successful coup support so far this century (and we’re only a decade in!).

Of course, the Canadian state hasn’t come out and said “we support the coup,” and nor should we expect it to. But it has ignored the well-documented repression meted out against the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (“Frente”). It also argued against Zelaya’s return from exile before he snuck back into the country only to be holed up in the Brazilian embassy. It then criticized him for returning. Canada, along with its American counterparts, pushed the San José-Tegucigalpa Accord, which was signed by Zelaya and the coup forces and allowed for the ousted president’s return to office. But the return to office was on terms that would’ve effectively made him little more than a figurehead president unable to pursue his reform agenda had the coup forces actually followed through with the agreement, which they didn’t. That reform agenda was in fact fairly moderate. It did include, though, a proposed vote the day of the coup on whether to proceed with a referendum during presidential elections on establishing a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. The prospect of constitutional reform was the final straw for the country’s oligarchy and was consistently misrepresented by international media as a power grab.

Current President, Porfirio Pepe Lobo, subsequently won the sham election five months after the coup amidst ongoing repression of anti-coup media and the Frente, which boycotted the elections. International election observers refused to participate, arguing that there was no possible way free and fair elections could take place in such a situation. But Canada, despite initially stating it wouldn’t recognize the elections unless constitutional order had been restored, including the return of Zelaya to the presidency, quickly backtracked and hastily recognized the new Lobo regime. Most countries in Latin America still haven’t recognized the Honduran government.

Following the election, Canada has positioned itself, along with the U.S., as the Lobo regime’s biggest ally. It has pushed (thus far unsuccessfully) for Honduras’s reintegration into the Organization of American States and stressed at every opportunity that Honduras was entering a new period of democracy. This was made clear in press releases issued by Peter Kent when he was Minister of State for the Americas, and during Kent’s and Ambassador Neil Reeder’s various meetings with Honduran political and business leaders.

When the Lobo government, as part of its international public relations campaign to demonstrate its support for national reconciliation, established its Truth Commission to look into the events surrounding the coup, Canada quickly offered up financial support and a commission member. But the Truth Commission has been derided by human rights activists inside and outside of Honduras due to, among other things, the fact that repression is ongoing and the Frente is boycotting it. A network of Honduran human rights organizations, known as the Human Rights Platform, has established its own alternative truth commission. The Canadian member of Lobo’s Truth Commission, meanwhile, is former diplomat, Michael Kergin, who happens to be employed by one of Canada’s biggest corporate law firms, Bennett Jones, which just happens to specialize in investment law and mining.

As Canadian officials worked to improve Honduras’s public image, they pushed for stronger access to Honduran resources and protection for Canadian investors. Not long after Lobo’s election, Reeder and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) head for Honduras, Daniel Arsenault, set to work arranging meetings between Canadian mining executives and Lobo and members of his cabinet. Reeder, Arsenault and other Canadian representatives also discussed with a Breakwater Resources executive possible strategies to influence the development of a new mining law for the country (which is still pending). Canadian porn mogul (of “Adult Video” fame) turned real estate developer, Randy Jorgensen, has also enjoyed direct access to Lobo in his quest to build retirement properties for Canadian snowbirds on contested Garifuna land on the country’s north coast.

Moving Toward a Trade Agreement

In August, 2010, Reeder was promoted (for job well done! no doubt) to Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean in Foreign Affairs and International Trade (FAIT). He was replaced by new Ambassador, Cameron Mackay. Mackay’s appointment was likely influenced by a desire to advance trade negotiations between Canada and Honduras. His CV for FAIT, which should give you a good idea of the role the Department envisions for the Canadian embassy, includes stints as a member of Canada’s Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization; trade and economic relations officer; senior trade policy officer (WTO); Trade Policy and Planning Division; deputy director of the Regional Trade Policy Division; and director of regional trade policy for the Americas.

Honduras was originally part of the Central American Four (CA4) multilateral negotiations with Canada, which also included Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. But having built up its political capital as an ardent ally of the coup and post-coup Honduran regimes, and knowing Lobo is a strong supporter of foreign investment and free markets, Canada started negotiating with Honduras independently of the rest of the CA4 this past December. Talks appear to be moving along fairly quickly.

Representatives of the mining industry excitedly talk up the opportunities for increased investment provided by a FTA. Exploration has stalled since Zelaya placed a moratorium on new exploration activities and in the absence of a new mining law. The president of la Asociación Nacional de Minería Metálica en Honduras (Anaminh), Santos Gabino Carbajal, says that “without a doubt it [the FTA] will increase investment.” He adds that 90% of investment in Honduras’s mining sector is Canadian.

Last January, 2010, Carlos Amador, an activist organizing against Goldcorp (a Toronto-based gold mining company with a shoddy rights record and assets in Honduras and beyond) told me that the majority of exploration permits waiting for the green light in Honduras belong to Canadian companies. An FTA is likely one important step in opening the floodgates to Canadian mining capital, and will almost certainly lead to a sharp increase in community-company conflict as small farmers, indigenous peoples, campesinos and others defend their land and ecologies from predatory Canadian mining multinationals.

Maquila investors are also touting the benefits of the FTA. Early in February, Canadian company Gildan Activewear, one of the largest T-shirt and sock manufacturers in the world, announced it was closing its last North American factory in Alabama, and that it would be investing more than $100-million (U.S.) in a new sock factory in Honduras. Gildan is one of the largest maquila investors in the country, with a track record of terrible working conditions and union busting. Gildan also had 7 meetings between June, 2010 and mid-January of this year alone with Canadian politicians and FAIT representatives, which were officially registered with Ottawa’s Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying and labelled under “International Trade.” (The official registry, it must be noted, obviously doesn’t record informal meetings and electronic communications between companies and state representatives, which are not infrequent).

Bloody Violence of the Lobo Regime

The FTA negotiations are rapidly moving forward despite ongoing human rights abuses in Honduras. According to the Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (Committee of Family Members of the Disappeared of Honduras, COFADEH), a leading human rights organization in the country, there were 1,071 documented violations of human rights (including arbitrary detentions, threats of physical harm, torture and assassinations) during the first four months alone of the Lobo regime. During Lobo’s first year – a year, Canada claims, of reconciliation and democratic renewal – there were 64 targeted assassinations of activists in the Frente.

As many as 20 campesinos in the Bajo Aguan organizing to regain land taken illegally from them by a wealthy landowner, Miguel Facussé, were assassinated in 2010 by police, the army and Facussé’s own security forces. Ten journalists were killed in 2010 – though the government claims the killings are unrelated to their work despite many being critics of the coup – leading Reporters Without Borders to declare Honduras to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. And in the last year and half, 31 members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community have been murdered, some of whom were known members of the Frente, while the community in general is known to oppose the coup.

These are not the signs of a country healing its post-coup wounds through a process of national reconciliation and dialogue. This is premeditated bloody vengeance against people who dare speak out against an illegitimate government. What we’re seeing is not the end of the coup and the return to democracy, but the consolidation of the coup and state terror under the shallow blood-stained veneer of democracy. And one of the Honduran government’s best allies, Canada, is about to conclude a free trade agreement with it.

In the case of the Colombian FTA, Canadian leaders, while downplaying the scale of the human rights catastrophe in the Andean nation, nevertheless were forced by critics of the Agreement into defensively arguing that the deal will improve human rights. An absurd claim, to be sure, since foreign investment in countries like Colombia and Honduras is based in part on the opportunities provided by the systematic repression of peoples’ rights. Mining companies, for example, benefit from the dispossession of campesinos or indigenous peoples of their land and resources. The trickle-down theory of human rights is about as historically accurate as the trickle-down theory of economics. But in the case of Honduras, Canadian officials say nothing about the repression of anti-coup, anti-mining or labour activists.

Toward a New Resistance

Clearly social justice and international solidarity activists in Canada have our work cut out for us. Not enough people (in Canada at least) know about Canadian political and economic connections to the Honduran coup forces, or of Canadian imperial practices in general.

But I’ve also met a lot of people in a number of Canadian cities in recent months who understand that Canada isn’t the benign defender of human rights on the international stage our leaders make it out to be. Some of these folks are already getting involved in solidarity work with people affected by Canadian mining multinationals, or are challenging the increasing presence of these companies on their campuses (such as the Goldcorp Centre for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University or the Munck Centre for International Affairs at the University of Toronto). Some have been engaged in Haiti solidarity activism. In Toronto, a fledgling Honduras Solidarity Committee has been formed that is seeking to build a fight against the FTA and Canadian support for the Honduran coup forces.

Spaces are beginning to open up to challenge the various manifestations of Canadian imperialism. Conversations are slowly beginning between activists in different parts of the country about their work. Honduras needs to be part of that conversation, and part of our efforts to begin reaching new layers of people who are open to the idea of organizing against the plundering international activities of Canadian companies and the terrible foreign policy record of the state. The FTA isn’t fait accompli, even though we should expect the Liberals to side with the Tories and support it (as they did with the Colombian FTA). It still has to go through parliamentary hearings and debate. There is time, then, to organize, to raise awareness and to build solidarity with the people of Honduras. •

Todd Gordon teaches political science at York University. He is the author of the recently published Imperialist Canada. He can be reached at [email protected] .

«Gli Stati uniti stanno muovendo forze navali e aeree nella regione» per preparare «l’intera gamma di opzioni» nei confronti della Libia: lo ha annunciato ieri il portavoce del Pentagono, il colonnello dei marines Dave Lapan.  Ha quindi detto che «è stato il presidente Obama a chiedere ai militari di preparare tali opzioni», poiché la situazione in Libia sta peggiorando.  I militari hanno quindi iniziato «la fase di pianificazione e preparazione» per un intervento in Libia. Gli strateghi del Pentagono stanno lavorando a vari piani specifici, in funzione dei quali è iniziato il «riposizionamento di forze» così da avere la massima flessibilità per attuare qualsiasi opzione.

In tale quadro la portaerei nucleare USS Enterprise, dislocata nel Golfo di Aden ufficialmente per operazioni anti-pirateria, ha cominciato a risalire il Mar Rosso per attraversare il Canale di Suez e piazzarsi di fronte alle coste libiche. Lo stesso sta facendo la nave anfibia da sbarco USS Kearsarge, con a bordo una squadra di elicotteri da attacco e 2mila marines. Una prima opzione potrebbe essere l’imposizione di una «no-fly zone» sulla Libia: i caccia statunitensi e di altri paesi della Nato impedirebbero a qualsiasi altro aereo di levarsi in volo sul territorio libico, abbattendolo se lo facesse. Tale misura, la cui motivazione ufficiale sarebbe quella di impedire ai caccia di Gheddafi di colpire i ribelli, isolerebbe in pratica la capitale. Un’altra misura, che potrebbe essere attuata contemporaneamente, sarebbe quella di interrompere tutte le telecomunicazioni  tra  la capitale e il resto del paese. Si sta allo stesso preparando una terza opzione: lo sbarco di forze in Libia, ufficialmente per aprire dei «corridoi umanitari».

Le operazione aeronavali vengono dirette dal Comando delle forze navali Usa in Europa, a Napoli, dove si trovano anche il quartier generale delle forze navali del Comando Africa e quello della Forza congiunta alleata. Tutti e tre i comandi sono nelle mani dello stesso ammiraglio statunitense Sam J. Locklear III. Un ruolo importante svolge anche la base aeronavale di Sigonella (in Sicilia), dalla quale opera da tempo una forza speciale Usa per missioni segrete in Africa. Ma è tutta la rete della basi Usa/Nato in Italia, compresa la Sesta flotta, che è stata allertata per essere pronta all’«intera gamma di opzioni». Lo ha confermato il segretario Usa alla difesa Robert Gates, in una intervista al Wall Street Journal e al Weekly Standard: a proposito dell’imposizione di una «no-fly zone» sulla Libia, ha dichiarato che «la Francia e l’Italia hanno le strutture che permetterebbero di attuare l’operazione più rapidamente».

Quale sarebbe la copertura politica per l’intera operazione, lo ha anticipato la segretaria di stato Hillary Clinton.  In un intervento fatto ieri alla base aerea Andrews, ha detto che gli Stati uniti stanno prendendo «contatti con molti libici che si stanno organizzando nella parte orientale del paese, mentre la rivoluzione si muove verso ovest», ossia verso Tripoli. Ha quindi dichiarato che «siamo pronti e preparati a offrire qualsiasi tipo di assistenza a chiunque desideri riceverla dagli Stati uniti». Ciò conferma indirettamente le notizie, provenienti da varie fonti, che «consiglieri» statunitensi e Nato sono già al lavoro tra i ribelli. La luce verde all’imposizione di una «no-fly zone» e allo sbarco di forze Usa/Nato in Libia verrebbe data su richiesta dei ribelli stessi o di un loro «governo provvisorio», capeggiato da qualche notabile che ha abbandonato tempestivamente la barca del capo per passare su quella dei ribelli.

Questi fatti indicano che vi è un piano di «balcanizzazione» della Libia,  che sfrutta il malcontento e l’odio per il capo e il suo clan accumulatosi in parte della popolazione e, quindi, la lotta di quanti (soprattutto giovani) si battono genuinamente per la democrazia e la giustizia sociale. Tale piano, concepito a Washington, non prevede di spegnere le fiamme della guerra civile, ma di alimentarle per spaccare e indebolire ulteriormente la Libia. La posta in gioco è chiara: il controllo delle riserve energetiche libiche. La parola «rivoluzione» in bocca alla segretaria di stato Hillary Clinton dovrebbe suonare come un campanello d’allarme sul tipo di «assistenza» che essa offre «a chiunque desideri riceverla dagli Stati uniti». 

il manifesto, 2 marzo 2011

March 2–”The United States is moving naval and air forces in the region” to “prepare the full range of options” in the confrontation with Libya: Pentagon spokesperson Col. Dave Lapan of the Marines made this announcement yesterday, March 1. He then said that “It was President Obama who asked the military to prepare for these options,” because the situation in Libya is getting worse. The military then began “the planning and preparation” phase for an intervention in Libya. Pentagon planners are working on several specific plans, depending on how the “repositioning of forces” begins so as to have maximum flexibility to implement any option.

In this context, the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which is located in the Gulf of Aden officially for anti-piracy operations, began to cross the Red Sea to go through the Suez Canal and place itself before the Libyan coast. The SS Kearsarge, an amphibious landing craft carrying a crew of 2,000 marines and attack helicopters is doing the same. A first option would be to impose a “no-fly zone” on Libya: U.S. fighter jets and jets from other NATO countries would prevent any aircraft from taking off from Libyan soil, shooting them down if they did. This measure, whose official reason would be to prevent Gadhafi’s fighter jets from hitting insurgents, in practice would isolate the capital (Tripoli). Another measure that could be implemented simultaneously would be to stop all communications between the capital and the rest of the country. At the same time this process prepares a third option: the landing of forces in Libya, officially to open “humanitarian corridors.”

The naval aviation operations are directed by the United States Naval Forces Command, in Naples, where the headquarters of the naval forces of Africa Command and the Allied Joint Force are located. All three commands are in the hands of the U.S. Admiral Sam J. Locklear III. Also playing an important role is the naval base in Sigonella (Sicily), from which a U.S. Special Forces team for covert missions in Africa has been operation for a while. But it is the entire network of U.S.-NATO bases in Italy, which includes the Sixth Fleet, which has been alerted to be ready to carry out “the full range of options.” This was confirmed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in an interview with the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard. About the imposition of a no-fly zone on Libya, said that “France and Italy have the structure to more rapidly implement the operation.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton anticipated what would be the political cover for the entire operation. In a speech made yesterday (March 1) at Andrews Air Force Base, she said the U.S. is making “contact with many Libyans who are organizing in the eastern part of the country, while the revolution is moving toward the west,” that is, towards Tripoli. She then declared that, “We are ready and prepared to offer any assistance to anyone wishing to receive it from the United States.” This indirectly confirms the news from various sources that U.S. and NATO “advisers” are working among the rebels. The green light for imposing a no-fly zone and landing of U.S.-NATO forces in Libya would be given at the request of the rebels themselves or their “interim government,” headed by some notable who abruptly abandoned the boat of the leader to pass over to that of the rebels.

These facts indicate that there is a plan for “balkanization” of Libya, which takes advantage of the discontent and hatred for the chief and his clan had accumulated in the population and, therefore, the struggle of many (especially young people), who are fighting for genuine democracy and social justice. This plan, conceived in Washington, has as its aims not to extinguish the flames of civil war, but to feed them to split and weaken further Libya. The stakes are clear: control of energy reserves in Libya. The word “revolution” in the mouth to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should sound like an alarm bell on the type of “assistance” that it offers “to anyone who wishes to receive from the United States.”

Il Manifesto, March 2, 2011


Translated from Italian by John Catalinotto

For years, I’ve been writing about the long-term decline of the Dollar, and the rise of the Chinese Yuan … and it’s potential to become the world’s next reserve currency.

As I pointed out in 2007, many countries have started moving out of the Dollar as the basis for international trade settlements, including:

  • Venezuela and 12 other Latin American countries as well as Cuba
  • Many other countries

In 2008, I wrote:

Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and the “Father of Reagonomics”, recently said: “The dollar’s reserve currency role is drawing to an end”. See also this article, this article, this report, this essay, this roundup, and this one.

I also noted:

There are numerous hints that the dollar will not remain the world’s reserve currency for long:

  • Russia’s Putin is suggesting that Russia and China ditch the dollar and use their own currencies in trade deals
  • Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Olarn Chaipravat, told Bloomberg News:

    “The message of this initiative is for China to consider whether or not China would open up its banking system and allow the strongest currency in the world, which is the Chinese yuan, to be the rightful and anointed convertible currency of the world.”

  • The Wall Street Journal writes that China is being asked to play America’s role of being at the center of the world financial system

In May 2009, I pointed out:

Nouriel Roubini says that the Yuan will eventually take over from the dollar as reserve currency:

What could replace [the dollar]? The British pound, the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc remain minor reserve currencies, as those countries are not major powers. Gold is still a barbaric relic whose value rises only when inflation is high. The euro is hobbled by concerns about the long-term viability of the European Monetary Union. That leaves the renminbi.

China is a creditor country with large current account surpluses, a small budget deficit, much lower public debt as a share of G.D.P. than the United States, and solid growth. And it is already taking steps toward challenging the supremacy of the dollar. Beijing has called for a new international reserve currency in the form of the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights (a basket of dollars, euros, pounds and yen). China will soon want to see its own currency included in the basket, as well as the renminbi used as a means of payment in bilateral trade.

At the moment, though, the renminbi is far from ready to achieve reserve currency status. China would first have to ease restrictions on money entering and leaving the country, make its currency fully convertible for such transactions, continue its domestic financial reforms and make its bond markets more liquid. It would take a long time for the renminbi to become a reserve currency, but it could happen. China has already flexed its muscle by setting up currency swaps with several countries (including Argentina, Belarus and Indonesia) and by letting institutions in Hong Kong issue bonds denominated in renminbi, a first step toward creating a deep domestic and international market for its currency.

Roubini provides advice which the American economic policy-makers ignore at their peril:

This decline of the dollar might take more than a decade, but it could happen even sooner if we do not get our financial house in order. The United States must rein in spending and borrowing, and pursue growth that is not based on asset and credit bubbles…

Now that the dollar’s position is no longer so secure, we need to shift our priorities. This will entail investing in our crumbling infrastructure, alternative and renewable resources and productive human capital — rather than in unnecessary housing and toxic financial innovation. This will be the only way to slow down the decline of the dollar…

A couple of days later, I reported:

According to the Financial Times:

Brazil and China will work towards using their own currencies in trade transactions rather than the US dollar, according to Brazil’s central bank and aides to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president…

In June 2009, I wrote:

George Soros said a couple of days ago that China’s global influence is set to grow faster than most people expect.

He might be right.

As the Telegraph writes today:

The head of China’s second-largest bank has said the United States government should start issuing bonds in yuan, rather than dollars, in the latest indication of the increasing importance of the Chinese currency.

The same month, I noted:

Yesterday, the BRIC countries said they might be each others’ bonds (and not just U.S. Treasury bonds). As Bloomberg writes:

Brazil, Russia, India and China are considering buying each other’s bonds and swapping currencies to lessen dependence on the U.S. dollar….

The BRIC countries have combined reserves of $2.8 trillion and are among the biggest holders of U.S. Treasuries.

In August 2009, I reported that Pimco was warning it’s clients to diversify out of dollars, as the dollar is losing it’s global reserve currency.

In October 2009, I noted:

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

China and Russia are working on ways to eventually settle their trade with the Chinese yuan and Russian ruble, senior government officials from the two countries said Tuesday.

In January, it was reported that China had reached a similar arrangement with Brazil:

The Brazilian Central Bank announced it had reached an initial understanding with China for the gradual elimination of the US dollar in bilateral trade operations which in 2009 are estimated to reach 40 billion US dollars.

***

As I and many others have argued for years, everyone wants to get out of the dollar, but not all at once. Foreign central banks want to move out of dollars gradually so they are not left holding worthless paper.

But the process actually started a while back.

Last August, I noted that – for 100 years – the dollar has been losing it’s value, one of the main disqualifications for a reserve currency:

Here’s a chart of the trade weighted US Dollar from 1973-2009.

 

And here’s a bonus chart showing the decline in the dollar’s purchasing power from 1913 to 2005:

Last September, I noted:

China will issue a non-Dollar denominated Renminbi bond sale on September 28th (6 Billion Renminbi worth).

Last November, I wrote:

These are headlines from the past 2 days:

It’s not yet clear whether the Renminbi, gold, SDR, Bancor or something else will eventually take the throne of the new world’s reserve currency. See this and this.

And many settlements are still, obviously, being made in dollars.

But there is at least an argument that the dollar has already lost its status as world reserve currency, even if there is no ready replacement to jump into the breach.

In November, the Yuan actually started trading against the Ruble.

Last week, the Bank of India (a state-owned bank, India’s 4th biggest) started trading Yuan for Rupees. See this, this and this.

China Takes Giant Step Towards Making Yuan the World’s Reserve Currency

But all of the foregoing is just background for what happened today.

Specifically, as Tyler Durden reports:

Today’s biggest piece of news received a mere two paragraph blurb on Reuters, and was thoroughly ignored by the broader media. An announcement appeared shortly after midnight on the website of the People’s Bank of China.

***

Reuters provides a simple translation and summary of the announcement: “China hopes to allow all exporters and importers to settle their cross-border trades in the yuan by this year, the central bank said on Wednesday, as part of plans to grow the currency’s international role. In a statement on its website www.pbc.gov.cn, the central bank said it would respond to overseas demand for the yuan to be used as a reserve currency. It added it would also allow the yuan to flow back into China more easily.” To all those who claim that China is perfectly happy with the status quo, in which it is willing to peg the Renmibni to the Dollar in perpetuity, this may come as a rather unpleasant surprise, as it indicates that suddenly China is far more vocal about its intention to convert its currency to reserve status, and in the process make the dollar even more insignificant.

International Business Times provides further insight:

This is all part of China’s plan for the internationalization of its currency, which may, in the decades to come, threaten the global ‘market share’ of other currencies like the US dollar.

Previously, China also announced that bilateral trades with Russia and Malaysia will begin to be conducted with the yuan and the ruble and ringgit, respectively.

Other moves on the part of China to internationalize its currency include allowing foreign companies to issue yuan-denominated bonds and relaxing rules for foreign financial institutions to access the yuan.

Aside from the efforts of the Chinese government, fundamentals also point to the increasing international popularity of the Chinese currency.

China is already the leading trade partner with Australia and Japan. It’s also the leading or a large trade partner with many of its smaller neighbors. The purpose of having foreign currencies is to conduct foreign trade and investment, so the yuan is expected to become a more attractive currency for China’s trade partners, espeically as the government continues to relax restrictions.

The reason for this dramatic move may be found in what Stephen Roach [former chief economist for Morgan Stanley, and now director of Morgan Stanley Asia] wrote a few days ago in Project Syndicate:

In early March, China’s National People’s Congress will approve its 12th Five-Year Plan. This Plan is likely to go down in history as one of China’s boldest strategic initiatives.

In essence, it will change the character of China’s economic model – moving from the export- and investment-led structure of the past 30 years toward a pattern of growth that is driven increasingly by Chinese consumers. This shift will have profound implications for China, the rest of Asia, and the broader global economy.

Like the Fifth Five-Year Plan, which set the stage for the “reforms and opening up” of the late 1970’s, and the Ninth Five-Year Plan, which triggered the marketization of state-owned enterprises in the mid-1990’s, the upcoming Plan will force China to rethink the core value propositions of its economy. Premier Wen Jiabao laid the groundwork four years ago, when he first articulated the paradox of the “Four ‘Uns’” – an economy whose strength on the surface masked a structure that was increasingly “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and ultimately unsustainable.”

The Great Recession of 2008-2009 suggests that China can no longer afford to treat the Four Uns as theoretical conjecture. The post-crisis era is likely to be characterized by lasting aftershocks in the developed world – undermining the external demand upon which China has long relied. That leaves China’s government with little choice other than to turn to internal demand and tackle the Four Uns head on.

The 12th Five-Year Plan will do precisely that, focusing on major pro-consumption initiatives. China will begin to wean itself from the manufacturing model that has underpinned export- and investment-led growth. While the manufacturing approach served China well for 30 years, its dependence on capital-intensive, labor-saving productivity enhancement makes it incapable of absorbing the country’s massive labor surplus.

Instead, under the new Plan, China will adopt a more labor-intensive services model. It will, one hopes, provide a detailed blueprint for the development of large-scale transactions-intensive industries such as wholesale and retail trade, domestic transport and supply-chain logistics, health care, and leisure and hospitality.

Obviously, a reserve currency would be not only extremely useful, but quite critical in achieving the goal of China’s conversion to an inwardly focused, middle-class reliant society. And even that would not guarantee a smooth transition. However, should China really be on a path to a step function in its evolution, the shocks to the system will be massive. Roach puts this diplomatically as follows:

But there is a catch: in shifting to a more consumption-led dynamic, China will reduce its surplus saving and have less left over to fund the ongoing saving deficits of countries like the US. The possibility of such an asymmetrical global rebalancing – with China taking the lead and the developed world dragging its feet – could be the key unintended consequence of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan.

A less diplomatic version implies that the relationship between China and the US would suffer a seismic shift in which the game theoretical model of Mutual Assured Destruction, and symbiotic monetary and fiscal policies, would no longer exist, allowing China to pursue its fate completely independent of any economic shocks that the increasingly distressed United States may be going through.

And confirming that the PBoC announcement is far more serious than the amount of airtime allotted to it by the mainstream [U.S.] media, is the just released article in Spiegel “China Attacked the Dollar” (google translated):

The Chinese central bank surprised with a spectacular announcement: The would-be superpower wants to handle their entire future foreign trade in yuan, not in dollars. Beijing shakes America’s claim to represent the key currency – with serious consequences for the U.S..

The announcement was inconspicuous , but it has the potential, to permanently change the balance of power on the world currency market: China strengthens the international role of the yuan. All exporters and importers will, this year, be allowed to settle their business with their foreign partners in Yuan, the central bank said on Wednesday in Beijing.

This will respond to the growing importance of the yuan as a global reserve currency. “The market demand for cross-border use of the yuan rises,” said the central bank. The PBoC had previously tested this plan by allowing 67 000 enterprises in 20 provinces to run their business abroad in yuan. The trade volume amounted to the equivalent of €56 billion.

Now the amount of yuan to be extended, it should be handled much more business in Chinese currency – and less in the U.S. Chinese companies trade at present often in dollars, they are thus dependent on the decisions of the U.S. Federal Reserve to pay on it in a rising oil price and will have pay higher transaction fees than necessary. That should change now.

Currently, the People’s Republic can hardly take yuan out of the country and even that is monitored within the boundary of all legitimate capital flows. Chinese exporters have to change a large part of their euro, yen or dollars at a fixed rate revenue in yuan. Foreign companies wishing to do business in China must do so in Yuan, they can exchange their money in the People’s Republic. Tourists are allowed a maximum of 20,000 yuan and exporting. Yuan an international market can not occur – and not on supply and demand-based exchange rate.

Needless to say, should the yuan be seen increasingly as a reserve currency, all of this, and virtually everything else is about to change.

The only question is whether or not the Yuan will cement its status at the top of the currency pyramid by allowing the backing of the currency with individual or a basket of commodities. If that were to happen, it would be the last nail in the coffin of the already terminally ill dollar.

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See this for background on the possibility of a currency pegged to a basket of commodities.

There is a Russian proverb: only a fool learns from his own mistakes. As Georgia’s foreign minister visits his Egyptian counterpart, there are lessons for Egypt in similar revolutions in eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet Union, notes

Central to Egypt’s revolution was a tiny group of Serbian activists Otpor (resistance), who adapted nonviolent tactics of in the late 1990s and successfully forced Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic to resign in 2000. Egyptian youth in the 6 April Youth Movement even adopted their clenched fist symbol, bringing Otpor once again into world headlines and TV screens.

It was the 2008 strike El-Mahalla El-Kubra to protest high food prices and low wages that brought about this unforeseen Serbian-Egyptian alliance. A group of tech-savvy young Cairenes decided to start a Facebook group to organise solidarity actions around the country, attracting a surprising 70,000 supporters. The results of the strike were mixed, with police attacking strikers and killing two demonstrators, and solidarity protests quickly dispersed.

Determined to build on their networking success, writes Tina Rosenberg in Foreign Policy magazine, Mohamed Adel, a 20-year-old blogger and 6 April activist, went to Belgrade in 2009 and took a week-long course in the strategies of nonviolent revolution with Otpor veterans, who had established the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) in 2003 for just such activists. He learned how to translate “Internetworking” into street protests, and passed on his skills to others in the 6 April Youth Movement and Kefaya (Enough).

The rest is history. A relatively peaceful overthrow of the Egyptian regime has made Egyptian youth the darlings of the world — Egyptian-American scientist Faruq El-Baz even suggested they be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The nonviolent revolutionary tactics made famous by Otpor and used to such remarkable success by Egyptians are an outgrowth of soft power strategies developed most famously by Mohandas Gandhi in the anticolonial struggle in the 1920-30s, and also by the US government during the Cold War to undermine the socialist bloc; in both cases, where direct military action against the enemy was not feasible.

Most directly relevant in the case of Otpor is Reagan’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED, 1983), which was instrumental in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, funding all opposition groups left and right intent on undermining the socialist regimes. Warren Christopher, president Bill Clinton’s first secretary of state, argued, “By enlisting international and regional institutions in the work, the US can leverage our own limited resources and avoid the appearance of trying to dominate others.” NED’s first president, Allen Weinstein, admitted that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

The socialist bloc collapsed just as the Internet was taking off in the early 1990s. The tactics work well in soft dictatorships which are open to Western penetration, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) were the vehicles for introducing them in East Europe and the Soviet Union, as the degree of repression by the state had eased from the days of Cold War paranoia.

The techniques involved continued to be honed through the 1990s by Gene Sharp (From Dictatorship to Democracy, 1993) dubbed oxymoronically “the Clausewitz of nonviolence”, and Robert Helvey, a former US Army colonel and defense attachŽ at the US Embassy in Burma in the 1980s. Given economic stagnation (hardly unique to dictatorships), using a combination of defiance and ridicule of an aging autocratic regime, and seduction of a large, poorly paid, young army and police security apparatus, the young revolutionaries are able to moblise mass support for change and convince the security apparatus to step aside.

Though the details are slightly different, a scenario similar to events in Cairo in 2011 took place throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-91. In the latter case, Boris Yeltsin’s charisma pushing the military to his side after the putsch in August 1991, bringing an end to Communist Party hegemony.

The collapse of Yugoslavia was more traumatic. It had also been blessed by a charismatic leader Josip Tito who had used his monopoly on political power to build a prosperous, relatively open socialist society. However, the pressures for disintegration built after its socialist neighbours had collapsed. Financed by the US and Germany, power-hungry ethnic leaders declared independence and civil war ensued, with the Serbian heartland under Milosevic trying desperately to hold together what had been a peaceful and popular union. By 1999, the writing was on the wall — with the West sanctioning, bombing and otherwise subverting the rump Yugoslavia, a restless people turned against an aging dictator, with a media-savvy core of activists the catalyst.

As did all opposition groups in the former Yugoslavia, Otpor took money from NED, though it denied it at the time, disillusioning many Otpor members who quit after helping to overthrow Milosevic, “feeling betrayed” according to Rosenberg. CANVAS participates in workshops financed by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations Development Program, and Freedom House, an American group financed by NED.

The results of Otpor-inspired revolutions have been mixed to say the least. Activists from Zimbabwe, Burma, Belarus and Iran — over 50 countries — have taken CANVAS’s training. The only attributable “successes” until Egypt were in Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004) and Kyrgyzstan (2005) — the so-called colour revolutions, all of which have been a bitter disappointment, and along with Serbia, clearly manipulated by the US to serve its geopolitical ends.

In the case of Georgia, a boyish 37-year-old Mikheil Saakashvili was catapulted to power on the wave of a youth movement Kmara (Enough) modelled on Otpor, winning the 2004 presidential elections with 97 per cent of the vote. He invited in thousands of US and Israeli advisers, launched a disastrous war in 2008 against Russia, and quickly assumed dictatorial powers himself. Most of the Israelis scurried home after the war, and even his US patron is balking at supporting his plans to take on Russia again.

The Georgian opposition has been trying to oust Saakashvili ever since he launched war against Russia, but he is using his media smarts (and beefed-up security forces) to hold on to power, slavishly sending thousands of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan in hopes of earning enough points to join NATO. A fractious opposition must unite around an equally charismatic figure and future elections must be rigorously monitored if it expects to oust him.

The rule-of-thumb is if you play your cards extremely well, you may be allowed one Otpor-style revolution, so you better make good use of it. A second one is hard to pull off, and if it happens, as in 2010 in Kyrgyzstan, it is more a sign of political dysfunction than something to cheer about. And Western-style electoral democracy rarely leads to social justice, especially when the country in question is central to US geopolitical schemes, as is the case with both Serbia and Egypt.

The strategy worked well for small ethnic groups wanting their own state, like the Estonians, Slovenians and other eastern Europeans, ironically with the exception of Serbians, who experienced severe economic hardship as a result of their “revolution” and continue to resent the role of Europe and the US in their political affairs. As Egyptians massed in Tahrir Square, on 5 February, 70,000 Serbs marched in Belgrade protesting unemployment and poverty, charging that the government (in typical democratic style, a razor-thin coalition majority) is pursuing policies dictated by Europe. It is the NATO invasion and the loss of Kosovo that Serbs remember with bitterness now, rather than the dictatorship of Milosevic. Otpor tried to enter the political arena in 2003 but got only 1.6 per cent of the vote and gave up, joining the Serbian President Boris Tadic’s centrist pro-Europe Democratic Party.

Egyptians should keep the experience of Russia, Serbia and the colour revolutions in mind as they navigate the perilous waters of US-style democracy. Interestingly, Georgia’s Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze is visiting Egypt 1-2 March to share his experience in post-revolution transition — not with the 6 April Youth Movement and the other revolutionaries, but with ex-Arab League head Amr Moussa and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, both intimately connected with the Mubarak regime.

There is little to cheer Egypt’s idealistic revolutionaries in such confabs or in general in the state of politics in Georgia or any of the other colour revolutions today. It would be a tragedy if a few years down the line, Egyptians look back wistfully at pre-revolutionary times, as do many Serbs, Georgians, east Europeans and Russians.

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/

“Liberation”: Beware the Ides of March

March 3rd, 2011 by Felicity Arbuthnot

To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace.” (Publius Cornelius Tacitus – 55-117) 


Al Jazeera asked, randomly, people in Libya, whatever happened, what did they think about US led “humanitarian intervention.” All replied with one word: “Iraq.”

The 2nd of March 2011, marked the twentieth anniversary the mass murder of thousands of Iraqis by the US 24th Mechanised Infantry Division, two days after the ceasefire, a final murderous act in the forty two day carpet bombing of Iraq. It also began the continuation of the silent decimation of a nation and people through a United Nations flagged siege of historic severity. Denied were food, medications, medical and dialysis equipment, scanners and X-ray machines and all supplies needed to rebuild a country now reduced to “a pre-indistrial age.”.

It also denotes planning of the illegal bombings for the following thirteen years, then the destruction of Iraq, starting on 20th March 2003; the murder of a legitimate government – and final destruction of civil society, previously denied even life support. Indeed, even oxygen cylinders were embargoed.

Millions of words have been written of the war crimes committed in Operation Desert Storm. The burying alive by US troops of young Iraqi conscripts in the desert, the Basra Road massacre, the deliberate destruction of t water purification plants, electricity, schools, hospitals, food stores, factories, farms and broadly fifty to seventy five percent percent of all livestock, from chickens to buffalo. Not enough, however has been written about the crime which makes even these, with the genocidal, possibly over three million dead, from 1991 to now, pale. The destruction of the gene pool in generation after generation, the mutilation of future generations until a time unknown.

Professor Malcolm Hooper, Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Sunderland, wrote a detailed Report on this destruction which may never end : “The most Toxic War in Western Military History.” This poisonous, near eternal, environmental and body burden (Depleted Uranium residue from weapons, 4.5 billion years) has now been added to, in orders of magnitude, from the March 2003 invasion.

Ironically, anniversary of the start of the 1991 bombardment (17th January) this year, fell on Martin Luther King Day. Marking it, the President stated on the White House website, that progress is: ” .. underway at the memorial being constructed … in Dr King’s honor.” President Obama: ” … visited the site with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator, Lisa Jackson … When completed later this year, the memorial will serve to remind us of Dr. King’s hope, sense of justice and quest for equality.” The cynic might think the President and the EPA Administrator might be better placed marking Dr King’s aspirations by visiting the poisoned lands of Iraq, Afghanistan and Balkans in which all Dr King’s “dream” have become arguably, his worst nightmare, courtesy US-initiated actions.  

Iraq’s infrastructure, education and progress is “liberated” backwards a hundred years, with America’s imported fundamentalists dominating. Electricity is often just an hour a day even in Baghdad, social security and government rations have been cut to Iraq’s up to seventy percent unemployed (figures differ) and foreign workers are imported by foreign companies, whilst skilled, willing and graduate Iraqis sit desperate and idle. US puppet “Prime Minister” Maliki, allegedly still clutching his foreign passport, has done nothing to put a quota on overseas workers, thus giving Iraqis a chance of a living, in their own land. But then, his orders are from his Master’s voice.

Perhaps the most chilling of all, in a country pre-embargo and invasion, considered an example of the advanced and secular in the Middle East, there are now so many widows created by the invasion and subsequent violence, unsupported by government welfare, and with children to bring up, that “temporary marriages” are spreading across the country. A woman is married for two days, two weeks, whatever, and paid an agreed amount for sharing her bed and body. Legalised prostitution, with a religious fig leaf over it, to which the desperate resort. Welcome to the “New Iraq”, courtesy Uncle Sam and the now “Middle East Peace Envoy”,Tony Blair.

Just eight months after the invasion I met a group of Iraqi professionals, anti the former regime to a man and woman. How was everything going? I asked. There was a moment’s silence as they caught each others eyes, then: “We wish Saddam was back.”

Wholesale killings, of pilgrims, people going about daily business, sitting socialising in the evenings on their flat roofs, in the balmy air; in schools, hospitals, cars, on foot,. Mosque and Church attacks and bombings, unheard historically, the wholesale destruction in cities and towns, from Basra to Baquba, Samarra to Falluja, Tel Afar to the holy cities of Najav and Kerbala, continued year after gruelling year.

Hilary Clinton paid her first visit as Secretary of State to Iraq. The woman who wrote : “It Takes a Village ..” (to raise a child) stood in the country where countless villages had been destroyed and declared that ” … Iraq is going in the right direction … I really believe that, on the whole, Iraq is on the right track (there was) overwhelming evidence of really impressive progress.” She spoke the day after suicide bombers killed seventy one people outside Baghdad’s most revered Shia shrine and a further seventeen in Muqdadiyah, north of the capital. (Guardian, 25th April 2009.) Suicide bombers, also unknown in Iraq, too, came in with the invasion

Currently those exercising their “audacity of hope”, demonstrating for jobs, electricity, clean water, normality, are being killed, disappeared, tortured, in a country where Donald Rumsfeld told Iraqis they were : ” … free to live their lives and do wonderful things … that’s what’s going to happen here.” (Department of Defence, news briefing, 11th April 2003.)

Meanwhile, Britain, whose formerly declared “ethical foreign policy” has become somewhat tarnished, marked this twentieth anniversary of decimation by phasing out aid to Iraq, declaring that it was concentrating on countries with the highest infant mortality. Iraq’s infant mortality (CIA Factbook) is 48.5 per thousand live births. Libya’s, in context, is 18.5 (Iceland, Sweden under 4.) Other agencies have Iraq’s infant mortality at up to 128. Either way, it is an appalling, shaming figure in a country still occupied (however renamed) thus welfare the responsibility of the US occupier – for which fellow invader, Britain, bears an equal responsibility.

In, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, 1st., March heralded the shooting dead, from the air, by their US liberators, nine children, collecting firewood for warmth, in the freezing mountain winter. Noorullah Noori, of the local development council, is quoted as saying that four of the boys were seven, three eight, one nine and one twelve. A thirteen year old was wounded. (McClatchy.) The previous week, the Afghan government and local residents claim sixty five civilians were killed in the same province. General Petraeus called the first a “tragic mistake” for which he would: “… apologise”, to families and government – and the second: “insurgents.”

But the eyes of the world are not focussed on invasion’s atrocitites, they are fixed on the latest bogey man, the one Tony Blair, in 2004, brought in out of the cold, and said the West could now do business with. They certainly did. But this March, “Operation Intervention Libya” (I made that up, liked the acronym) is in the air. Two US Navy warships and four hundred marine are already off shore readying for “humanitarian efforts.” The Iraq hand book has been dusted down, assets have been frozen, sanctions have been slapped on at breath taking speed and a “no fly zone”, mooted, to protect the population.

As with Iraq, Libya will be isolated, prohibited from using its own air space but the US and its allies will bomb with impunity. It’s leader has already been likened to Hitler and Pol Pot. We have had the “Butcher of Baghdad”, the Butcher of Belgrade”, the “Butcher of Benghazi”, is only a matter of time. As I finish this, it is announced that the International Criminal Court is to investigate crimes committed by Libya’s regime, during the uprising. Not those of Bush, Blair, Obama, Cameron’s continued support for the deaths of certainly approaching two million since Afghanistan’s invasion in 2001.

Martin Luther King said:

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

 ”I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.

 ”I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land.

” ‘And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.’ I still believe that We Shall overcome!’

We can only, fervently, hope.

Kanada uvredila sve Srbe

March 2nd, 2011 by M. Filipović

Posle incidenta u kome je granična policija na aerodromu u Vankuveru zabranila ulaz u Kanadu političkom analitičaru iz Čikaga Srđi Trifkoviću, koji je trebalo da održi predavanje na Univerzitetu Britanska Kolumbija, razgovaramo sa Trifkovićem o razlozima ovog događaja koji je uzburkao i srpsku i kanadsku javnost.

- Početkom februara aktivisti bosanskih muslimana u Kanadi pokrenuli su kampanju protiv mog gostovanja u Vankuveru. Napadali su me kao “negatora genocida” jer ne prihvatam hašku verziju zbivanja u Srebrenici.

Univerzitetske vlasti su, međutim, odlučile da se predavanje ipak održi. Moji oponenti su potom pokrenuli veze da bi se upotrebila neka druga, brutalno staljinistička sredstva ućutkavanja.

Takvu zagriženost mogu da smatram samo za kompliment, jer kako reče Džozef Konrad, o čoveku treba suditi po liku i delu njegovih neprijatelja.

Teško shvatljivo je to da je kanadska država pristala da bude oruđe lobističkih pritisaka – kaže za “Vesti” Trifković.

Da li ste ikada ranije imali probleme pri ulasku u Kanadu ili neku drugu zemlju?
- Nikada. U Kanadi sam bio 24 puta u protekle dve decenije. Jednom prilikom sam se u Otavi sreo sa tadašnjim premijerom Malrunijem. U više navrata držao sam predavanja na univerzitetima u Torontu, Vaterlou, Alberti-Edmonton i Karlton u Otavi.

Mnogo puta sam bio na naučnim konferencijama i srpskim skupovima. Zvali su me 17. februara 2000. kao stručnog svedoka pred Spoljnopolitički odbor Donjeg doma kanadskog parlamenta gde sam preko dva sata odgovarao na poslanička pitanja.

Da li strahujete da će se incident kanadskih imigracionih vlasti ponoviti?
- Ne, naprotiv! Kada verujete da su pravda i istina na vašoj strani, onda straha nema.

Vi ste američki državljanin, šta povodom ovog incidenta možete da uradite?
- Tražiću ročište pred kanadskim imigracionim sudom da se utvrdi osnovanost odluke imigracionih činovnika u Vankuveru.

Mogu da zahtevam kopiju svog dosijea u kanadskoj imigracionoj službi i da preduzmem dalje pravne mere ukoliko se pokaže da sadrži netačne podatke.

U ovom incidentu nisam bitan samo ja, jer se ne radi samo o meni lično. Radi se o legalizaciji demonizovanja Republike Srpske i o teškoj kolektivnoj uvredi srpskoj zajednici svuda, a u Kanadi posebno – kaže Trifković.

Kako na taj incident gledaju vaše kolege i saradnici?
- Sa raznih strana dobijam poruke podrške, od kanadskih Srba pre svega, ali i od zgađenih i zgranutih ljudi iz raznih zemalja. Do sada imam kopije preko 200 pisama upućenih kanadskom premijeru Harperu i ministru za imigraciju Keniju.

Advokat Stefan Karganović, koji vodi NVO “Istorijski projekat Srebrenica”, napisao je u Novoj srpskoj političkoj misli, da činjenica da Srebrenica uopšte nije bila ni predviđena kao jedna od tema mog predavanja, nije relevantna za one koji žele da me ućutkaju, dovoljno je da je moje mišljenje različito od njihovog.

Kako je izgledao vaš razgovor na kanadskoj granici?
- Taj je razgovor otaljavan pro forme, jer je odluka da ne budem pušten očigledno bila unapred doneta. Službenica koja me je propitivala pojma nije imala ni o čemu. Dovoljno je da pomenem da je za Koštunicu pitala da li je protiv njega podignuta optužnica za ratne zločine.

Are events unfolding in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt more about petro-terrorism or about freedom and democracy? How much oil is there in North Africa? Who is in control of that oil? What is the relationship between the West and Muamar Gaddafi? Is he really the terrorist we’ve all been led to believe he is? Who is the Libyan “opposition” and who are the “rebels” we read about?

Presented with this story are petroleum industry concessions maps **  for North Africa that people might want to ponder in between the Western propaganda on Libya. Amidst the full-court press of propaganda presented by the western media and State Department disinformation apparatus we find that Muamar Gaddafi is even accused of committing genocide against his own people. Are there double standards at work?

Gaddafi & Amin in Gulu 1973 bordered.jpg

An original photograph; backside text reads: Al Haji Amin (centre) is introducing military senior officers to his brother Col. Gaddafi, Chairman of the Revolutionary Command of Arab republic of Libya, shortly on arrival at Gulu Airfield [norther Uganda] to perform the official handing over of aircrafts to Uganda Airforce, March 3, 1974.

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli

On September 1, 1969 the pro-western regime that had ruled in Libya was overthrown by Colonel Muamar Gaddafi and his officers. At the time, Libya was home to the largest US Air Base (Wheelus Air Base) in North Africa. Agreements between the USA and Libya signed in 1951 and 1954 granted the USAF the use of Wheelus Air Base and its El Watia gunnery range for gunnery and bombing training and for transport and bombing stopovers until 1971. During the Cold War the base was pivotal to expanding US military power under  the Strategic Air Command, and an essential base for fighter and reconnaissance missions. The Pentagon also used the base — and the remote Libyan desert — for missile launch testing: the launch area was located 15 miles east of Tripoli. Considered a ‘little America on the shores of the Mediteranean’, the base housed some 4600 US military personnel until its evacuation in 1970.

With the discovery of oil in Libya in 1959, a very poor desert country became a very rich little western protectorate. US and European companies had huge stakes in the extremely lucrative petroleum and banking sectors, but these were soon nationalized by Gaddafi. Thus Libya overnight joined the list of US ‘enemy’ or ‘rogue’ states that sought autonomy and self-determination outside the expanding sphere of western Empire. Further cementing western hatred of the new regime, Libya played a leading role of the 1973 oil embargo against the US and maintained cooperative relations with the Soviet Union. Gaddafi also reportedly channeled early oil wealth into national free health care and education.

Many of the concessions in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt involve state-owned oil companies. The US/European/Israeli nexus seeks to dislodge state-ownership — to whatever extent it actually exists — and dislodge any Chinese workers or companies involved in the oil exploitation, and replace these with western companies and western agents. 

[1]
ALGERIA & TUNISIA OIL SECTOR MAPS 
(Note the HUNT OIL Concession in the lower right, in NIGER: HUNT OIL is out of Texas.)

At one time Gaddafi played around with Idi Amin, but his ties to other despots — such as Tony Blair and George H. W. Bush — are far more notable, though far less advertised. Remember that Gaddafi has served the prerogatives of imperialism for years, even while being presented as the world’s premier terrorist. 

The CIA has long wanted to eliminate and replace Muamar Gaddafi. President Reagan bombed Tripoli, killing Gaddafi’s infant daughter: the United States bombing of Libya (code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon) comprised the joint USAF, Navy, and Marines air-strikes against Libya on April 15, 1986. The US CIA brought down the Lockerbie Pan Am 103 flight over Scotland in 1988 and blamed this on Gaddafi. 

In recent years Gaddafi has played along with the western fiction of Al-Queda, though it seems likely that some of the true mercenaries in Libya today are ‘Al-Queda’ terrorists trained by the United States to serve US interests in places like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and now Libya. However, the CIA has always had their sites on Gaddafi. 

Libyan Dinar Note001.jpg

Libyan currency 2009

Note the double standard in how the western press presents the accusations of Gaddafi using mercenaries, as if it is something unique to Gaddafi and Libya, and not something we ever do. 

National front for the Salvation of Libya

In almost all western media accounts, the so-called “opposition” in Libya includes the unspecified, unnamed, unidentified “rebels” of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). These are not innocent ‘pro-democracy’ protestors who began with a ‘peaceful sit-in’ as reported by the New York Times and uncritically repeated everywhere else. 

Reportage of atrocities in Darfur, Sudan (2003-2011) and Rwanda (1990-1994) was always blamed on the governments (Omar Bashir in Khartoum and Juvenal Habyarimana in Kigali) with no context to the foreign backed insurgency and intervention occurring, which in both cases involved the US, UK and Israel. Similarly, in Libya today, there is no context or history to the FNSL ‘rebels’: they are categorically presented as the good guys, no matter that they seem to have appeared out of thin air. No one explains who these people are who are cited by the New York Times or CNN or Democracy Now as sources.

Street scene in Tripoli, September 2009.

The FNSL was part of the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition held in London in 2005, and British resources are being used to support the FNSL and other ‘opposition’ in Libya. The FNSL was actually formed in October 1981 in Sudan under Colonel Jaafar Nimieri– the US puppet dictator who was openly known to be a Central Intelligence Agency operative, and who ruled Sudan ruthlessly from 1977 to 1985. The FNSL held its national congress in the USA in July 2007. Reports of ‘atrocities’ and civilian deaths are being channeled into the western press from operations in Washington DC, and the opposition FNSL is reportedly organizing resistance and military attacks from both inside and outside Libya.

Italy and France are also said to be backing these opposition groups, as the Italian and French oil companies AGIP and ELF and others seek to chop off and eat their pieces of the predatory pie. The US, Britain and Israel seek to insure control of the petroleum sector in advance of competitor corporations from other European countries.

National Endowment for (non) Democracy

In 1983, the Pentagon, USAID, US State Department, and the CIA were all involved in the creation and implementation of ‘Project Democracy’ – National Security Decision Directive 77 (NSDD 77) — and this led to the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy. After that, many of the tactics used in covert interventions were shifted away from the CIA and onto the NED, whose involvement with covert operations and foreign interventions are nonetheless well-established.

A ‘soft’ intervention CIA front, the National Endowment for Democracy has been deeply involved in Libya along with the CIA fronted Freedom House (under their Blue Umbrella program and others). These entities have backed ‘opposition’, supported propaganda campaigns and so-called ‘pro-democracy’ movements, and are known to be involved with backing armed insurgents and interventions.

NED works its overt intelligence sector magic through four organizations under its (own) umbrella: National democratic Institute; International republican Institute, Center for Private Enterprise, and the AFL-CIO’s American Center for International Labor Solidarity.  NED is closely aligned with US foreign policy interests and achieves its mission through the revolving doors between US Government and the NED Board of Directors. 

Some of these NED directors include: former US Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger (Nixon) and Madeleine Albright (Clinton), former US Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci (Reagan), former National Security Council ChairZbigniew Brzezinski (Carter), former NATO Supreme Allied Command in Europe, General Wesley K. Clark (Clinton), and the current head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz (George W. Bush).

Freedom House is supportive of NED programs but has been around since its creation by Elanor Roosevelt and they have been very active against Libya. Freedom House is funded by, amongst others, UNILEVER Corporation, USAID, and the US Information Agency (USIA). Freedom House, in alliance with USIA, has provided covert and overt “Radio Free’ disinformation programs all over the world since at least 1952: e.g. Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia. 

Past and present Freedom House trustees include: former CIA director R. James Woosley; former national security adviser (at the time of the US invasion of Congo-Zaire) Anthony Lake; Harvard professor Samuel Huntington; UNILEVER executive Ned Bandler; CIA insider Andrew Young; former Joseph Mobutu confidant and national security insider Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick; former NED director and International Crisis Group trustee Zbigniew Brzezinski; USAID intelligence operative J. Brian Atwood (USAID administrator who oversaw the US-backed genocide against millions of Hutu refugees in Zaire, 1996-1998) and many more.

Freedom House is also very likely affiliated with the phantom US Office of Strategic Information (OSI), formed after September 11, 2001. OSI is said to have been reorganized, with all its original functions reassigned to the Office of Global Communications, Information Awareness Office (IAO), and the newly reactivated Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team (Counter-Information Team). However, then Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld issued statements affirming that the OSI’s operations would continue.

Rogue State Painted with Blatant Propaganda

In the ABC LITELINE report FNSL Leader Speaks from Washington we find the Washington monument in the background for an interview with an Arab agent being used by the western propaganda system as a credible source — but with zero explanations of who he is or why his claims might be false. 

FNSL operative Irahim Sahad speaks freely, making any claim he likes, and nothing he says is challenged or counter-balanced. Sahad suggests that the UN Security Council MUST be convened to stop the genocide being committed by Gaddafi against his own people. Ibrahim Sahad’s bias is unveiled by such statements as “The UN Security Council was convened when just one man was killed in Lebabon — so it should be convened to address the most brutal use of live ammunition, heavy arms and mercenaries.” The claim employs a double-standard, saying in short that Lebanese lives are worth more than Libyan, which is not at all the case, and that the United Nations takes serious one man’s life in Lebanon, so they should take far more serious the monumental loss of life [claimed] in Libya.

Here are some of the media’s rallying cries making headlines everywhere the English language is used: 

* Gaddafi killing his own people!  
* West worried that Gaddafi may use Nerve Gas!
* Heavy Weaponry Used Against Civilians!
* Heavy Arms Used in Libyan Crackdown!
* Gaddafi Committing Crimes Against Humanity!

The death tolls in Iraq, Afghanistan and Congo — by US/NATO/ISRAELI forces — far surpass anything that might have occurred in Libya. Meanwhile, most ‘news’ on Libya is based on false accusations and false assertions — such as the THREAT of nerve gas being used. 

The ‘international community’ repeatedly enforced or renewed sanctions against Libya in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2004, it was established that Washington and London were grossly exaggerating claims of Gaddafi’s development of nuclear and chemical weapons. In Afghanistan the US is using weapons of mass destruction and has been since the invasion of 2001: these include phosgene and uranium weapons. A deeper issue might be the loss of certain nuclear weapons, as claimed by sources in London, which reportedly went missing from US/NATO stocks. Claims are that these weapons made their way into teh hands of British arms dealer John Bredenkamp, a long time crony of the Robert Mugabe gang in Zimbabwe, and that they may have been sold to Libya, Yemen or North Korea.

[2] 
LIBYA





[2a] 
LIBYA
Map SIRTE BASIN



Muamar Gaddafi Sides with Empire
 
“[T]he fundamental problem and issue before the people in the region is that the US rulers seek imperial control and imposition of semi-colonial country-selling regimes; the more autocratic and brutal, the better from the point of the US imperialism that is unrelenting history,” reports Ralph Schoenman, in  ‘US Imperialism Against Democratic ME’. “Every time the population is given the opportunity to shape its own destiny, to seek its national independence, to seek its own control over its own resources, to seeks its own sovereignty and determination of its own future, that is incompatible with the US imperialism. 

When Barack Obama was accepted by the US people as the new president, Gaddafi praised Obama and described Obama’s  White House housesit as “a victory against racism” and he urged the first Black U.S. president “to lead his country boldly and with integrity.”

“The Black people’s struggle has made tremendous advances against racism in America,” Gaddafi said. “It was God who created color. Today President Obama, son of a Kenyan father, a true son of Africa, has made it in the United States of America.”

At a speech he gave in his private tent in Tripoli in September 2008, Gaddafi rambled and muddled and zipped his all-over-the-place speech up as quick as he began. Is he a desert mystic? Did he write the infamous “Green Book” or was it ghost-written? Is his rambling speech emblematic of his propensity to try to please, to do what he likes, to be careful not to say the wrong thing, while being unable to remain silent when the hypocrisies of the west are (or were) thrown up in his face?

Pentagon Invasion Already Underway 

The US will use any propaganda necessary to whip up American fervor over Gaddafi and justify Pentagon or MI6 or NATO operations. US and British warships sit off the coast of Libya — and they don’t sit there idly. The imposition of a ‘no-fly’ zone means that US/NATO planes can do as they like, with the understanding that what we are really talking about are possible bombing and fighter sorties against Libya.

US troops have already moved ashore in Libya, joining the ‘opposition ‘ and ‘rebel’ forces in ‘rebel’ controlled territories. The US, France and Britain have already set up Bases in Libya
The recent report noted that British and US special forces entered Libyan port cities of Benghazi and Toburk on February 23 and 24.

US covert operatives have been on the ground for weeks, in not much longer, whether they have entered by sea (SEALS) or by way of Niger, where the US has openly published information about its covert operations. (See, for example, the travelology reports by former U.S. Special Forces now ‘journalist’ Robert Kaplan in America’s African Rifles a Pentagon massaged and approved propaganda feature in the pro-war Atlantic Monthly). Any opportunity to attack, destabilize, invade will be exploited by the Pentagon.

Of course, as this is written the US media is preparing the ground for the English news consuming masses to see the Pentagon invasion as a “humanitarian” mission in Libya. There is nothing humanitarian about the Pentagon, and there has never been.

[3] 
Egypt

The Desert Mystic

Libya is a country of approximately 6 million people, having a huge geographical area but low population density. Claims that Gaddafi has uplifted his people over the course of his 40 year dictatorship are false. Poverty is high throughout the country, and in Tripoli there are the obvious signs of capitalism: overcrowding, traffic, environmental pollution and destruction of nature. However, Gaddafi’s “Green Book” — if in fact it was written by him — is worth reading. Had it been written by most anyone else who is opposed to the expansion of western empire with all its horrors, it would be more widely appreciated.

Gaddafi has funded Pan-African organizations and individuals, some of whom have very noble missions and serve to challenge the downtrodden, while he has also funded some armed factions involved in unjust wars or destabilizations. Gaddafi has funded Louis Farrakan and the Nation of Islam. He has funded Jean Pierre Bemba and the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), the rebellion also backed by Yoweri Museveni, responsible for a very definitive genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Human Rights Watch has reported that international arms dealer Victor Bout illegally shipped weapons into Congo-Zaire, picking them up in Libya and delivering them to Rwandan Hutu forces. However, Human Rights Watch is deeply compromised when it comes to reporting and not reporting the facts — or selectively reporting them — on Central Africa. If Gaddafi did supply or facilitate the provision of arms to Hutu insurgents in Congo, it may be one of the more reasonable actions he took: e.g. the Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) are forever misaligned by the Pentagon and its propaganda minions precisely because they fought against the illegal invasion of Rwanda by Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni. Meanwhile, it is Rwanda, Uganda and their foreign multinational corporate allies that are responsible for the preponderance of killing in Central Africa (not the FDLR). 

According to Amnesty International, another selective human rights organ serving western interests, Gaddafi also reportedly armed Sudanese in Darfur — long before the current conflict began in 2003 — to fight against western backed interventions in Chad and Sudan. 
 
Gaddafi reportedly owns land in Zimbabwe and may flee there or to other countries where repressive control is maintained in service to western interests. 

Muamar Gaddafi is/was the most recent chairman of the African Union, another elite organization designed to serve western exploitation — or run by a cabal of thieves, at the very least, who all have the goods on each other, and so none will ever challenge the way things are — while the people, the masses of Africa, everywhere suffer. 

The African Union (AU) signed on with Washington for the devastating neo-liberal trade and tarifs agreement known euphemistically as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AU special report on genocide in Rwanda was a complete whitewash serving US/UK interests and protecting dictators Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni. The AU has also been slammed by African leaders for inaction and silence in various developments on the continent. 

Former AU chairman have included some of Africa’s most criminal dictators, such as Dennis Sassou Nguesso, who has reigned with absolute military brutality in the Republic of Congo for some 20 years (with a gap from 1992-1997). Gabon’s present ruler Albert-Bernard Bongo is the son-in-law of Dennis Sassou-Nguesso, and both have been sustained with millions of Elf petrol dollars (see, e.g., keith harmon snow: The Crimes of Bongo). Sassou-Nguesso’s elite Cobra militia were also trained by French advisers and, like Colonel Joseph Mobutu, Sassou-Nguesso relied on Israeli security and intelligence for protection.

The AU’s alliance with NATO began long ago, and it saw expanded joint military operations in Sudan, where the AU served as NATO’s “African face” for US/UK and Israeli military interventions in the war for Darfur. For example, forces fighting for the NATO interests, commanded and commandeered under an AU banner, came from Paul Kagame’s Rwanda Defense Forces (formerly called Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army) responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo and, then, Darfur. Rather than condemning western military expansion and different forms of AFRICOM or CIA-backed terrorism, for example, the AU backs the western war of annihilation in Somalia, involving Ugandan troops trained by US Special forces, and the Pentagon’s expansion in Ethiopia, and support for dictator Meles Zenawi there. Ethiopia is the site of an ongoing genocide against the Annuak, Omo and Orono people — and no one has reported the atrocities in the blood drenched oil-rich Ogaden basin there. What say the AU? 

In AFRICA: Global NATO Seeks to Recruit 50 New Military Partners, journalist Rick Rozoff reports: “A recent article in Kenya’s Africa Review cited sources in the African Union (AU) disclosing that the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] is preparing to sign a military partnership treaty with the 53-nation AU.” Rozoff explains that this is a likely maneuver against the spread of Chinese interests in the continent.

According to Black Commentator editor Glen Ford, who traveled to Tripoli in 2008, Gaddafi on the Outs, the man who ruled this not-so-little North African dictatorship is about finished. 

[5] 
SUDAN
(Darfur is the giant block 12 concession on the left side.)

And Now, The Gaddafi Genocide

Claims made by Libyan ‘opposition’ and reported in the western press that Gaddafi is committing genocide against his own people represent the height of western arrogance and hypocrisy. At this very moment the wars being prosecuted by the USA and its allies, including Japan, Europe, Israel, South Africa, Canada and Australia, far dwarf the ‘atrocities’ committed in Libya. While we have no credible reporting about who is killing, who is opposition, how many dead, etc., out of Libya, we have credible report after credible report establishing that the US and its allies have perpetrated massacres, tortures, and other atrocities, in the millions of people, in Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan – for a short list.

The claim of genocide here, akin to the one-sided charges against former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, or against Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, are one more clear example of the Politics of Genocide delineated in great detail by this writer and others. Reports in western media — provided, again, by the FNSL and other western intelligence, covert operations or psychological operations flak organizations — are filled with harsh language and characterizations not seen in reporting on or by western military campaigns. For example, in many western reports we can find, such as Gruesome Footage Proves Libya Using Heavy Arms makes claims that “newspapers obtained shocking footage of corpses with bodies blasted off and several torsos in Libyan hospitals.”  

So there are several torsos. That is not quite genocide. Where are the images? If such images of death and destruction do appear it will be in sharp contrast to the complete whiteout on dead bodies in the Pentagon’s other theaters of war, in the eastern Congo or Somalia, or in Afghanistan. 

Images of dead bodies can be produced and published but these are easily stripped of context. How do western audiences and propaganda consumers know that these are authentic and not recycled images of protests from Yemen or Bahrain dumped into the western press (with their willing acknowledgment) by Britain’s MI-6, as has been alleged? Al-Jezeera shows its true western colors by not reporting much of anything, and that certainly not critical of western manipulation or involvement. 

We saw the tactic of collecting dead bodies and skeletons used in Rwanda by the Pentagon-s agents of teh Rwandan Patriotic Front, and in Darfur and South Sudan, where journalist Nicholas Kristof produced some dead shriveled bodies from some desert somewhere and claimed these were from the New York Times’  Secret Genocide Archives. The atrocities were committed, we are told, by President Omar al-Bashir and the government of Sudan. 

However, there is never any mention of US military involvement, mercenaries (Pacific Architects and Engineers, Dyncorp, others) on the ground in Sudan. Dead men tell no tales, or dead women: these dead bodies are as likely dead from US or Israeli backed ‘rebels’ — the Justice and Equality Movement or Sudan Liberation Army backed by the US, NATO, Israel and our puppet dictator in Uganda.

Buckingham Museveni002.jpg


Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni greets the entourage of foreign mercenaries Tony Buckingham and others as part of the Heritage Oil & Gas / Sandline International meetings to secure oil concessions in the bloody Semliki basin bordering eastern Congo and northern Uganda: both sites of legitimate genocides. 

The double-standards and outright lies can be seen quickly, if one knows there are deeper truths, by examining propaganda produced by the International Crisis Group, or such propaganda tracts as Smith College English teacher Eric Reeves’ A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments  in the Darfur Genocide  — where there is not one reference to Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and his Pentagon assisted backing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), in South Sudan, and Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), in Darfur, in all of the 386 pages.

Western mercenaries that have been deeply involved, and remain so, in some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts, in coup d’etats, in massacres and other atrocities, include British mercenary Tony Buckingham — whose mercenary past is legendary — founder of Heritage Oil & Gas, a petroleum company linked by Buckingham to mercenary firms Branch Energy and Sandline International. Buckingham was also a partner in the infamous Executive Outcomes, with former British SAS soldier-of-misfortune Tim Spicer — the recipient of massive Pentagon contracts in Iraq. Heritage director General Sir Michael Wilkes retired from the British Army in 1995 and is a former Middle East adviser to the British government and a member of the Army Board. Wilkes commanded Britain’s Special Air Services (SAS) regiment and was director of Special Forces. Heritage Oil has exploited opportunities in Mali, Uganda, Republic of Congo, Oman and Iraq.

Heritage Iraq003.jpg
 
Heritage Oil & Gas map of operations in Iraq.

In short, almost everything in the western press on the crises in Libya is slanted by some faction, or interest, or it is tainted by western arrogance, or by anti-imperialist ideology (of ‘solidarity’), even in the case of the alternative media. There is very little accurate reporting of any kind (but some good work linked or cited herein).

This report is just another incomplete picture of an incomplete puzzle — but it seeks to penetrate through and expose the ongoing western media campaign for what it is: a psychological operation against the masses of earth’s people who have not and do not benefit from the nasty policies and actions implemented to serve a very small and elite group of people. 

People wishing to support the legitimate grievances and actions for freedom and truth in Libya should challenge the western terrorist apparatus out of Washington, DC, Tel Aviv, Brussels, London and Ottawa.   

Prayers for the true innocent civilians in Libya, and across the region. 

keith harmon snow traveled to Tripoli, Libya in 2009 and stayed about 3 days while attending the “2009 International Conference of the Green Book supporters” as a member of the US Delegation invited by former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney (D-GA).

** Maps are from a petroleum industry map of all Africa produced in 1996: much has changed since then, only for the worse, in terms of oil and gas expansions.

En las primeras veinticuatro horas de su llegada a Tripoli el periodista de Il Manifesto, Maurizio Matteuzzi, comprobaba que muchos de los acontecimientos difundidos por los medios occidentales -y también por árabes como Al Jazeera y Al Arabiya-, no se correspondían con la verdad.

En una nota difundida por las agencias de notícias occidentales se dijo al mundo que Muammar Al Gaddafi había bombardeado a civiles en Tripoli, dejando un saldo de 250 muertos.

“Anoche la situación en esa ciudad era de máxima tensión con cadáveres tirados en las calles y continuos disparos que se oyen en varios barrios de la ciudad, entre ellos de proyectiles de artillería pesada, según constató EFE”.

Según relata el periodista del diario italiano, Bargawi Badri, un ginecólogo libio residente en Tripoli con familia en Italia, recibió ese día una llamada de sus parientes alarmados que estaban escuchando en las noticias que se había producido un bombardeo en el barrio de Fascilum, de Tripoli. Badri, extrañado, les negó esos hechos y les dijo que se encontraba tranquilamente tomando una copa en un café de la zona.

Otra “primicia” de las agencias y los medios occidentales fueron las fosas comunes, cuyas fotos han dado la vuelta al mundo en la portada de (casi) todos los periódicos.

Mateuzzi se acercó a Tadjoura, suburbio de Trípoli donde supuestamente se encontraba dicha fosa común. La sorpresa fue que no encontró nada. En realidad había un cementerio tradicional donde se realizaba el trabajo habitual y disponía de lápidas normales.

La tercera gran primicia apareció también en las páginas de muchos periódicos: ”Los rebeldes han conquistado el aeropuerto militar de mitigar”.

El periodista italiano viajó hasta la zona. El aeropuerto estaba tranquilo y vigilado por guardias. No había rastro de los rebeldes…
Otras mentiras sobre la situación en Libia

Hace una semana, el Ministro de Exteriores británico, William Hague, declaró ante la prensa en Bruselas que Gaddafi se encontraba exiliado en Venezuela. Estas declaraciones fueron publicadas, sin contrastar y confirmar su veracidad, en multitud de medios de comunicación de todo el mundo.

Tanto el canciller venezolano Nicolás Maduro como el propio Gaddafi, a través de tv desde la capital, Tripoli, desmintieron ese rumor.

Hague dijo haber recibido esta información de “contactos que están en el terreno”. El Gobierno venezolano tachó de irresponsables los comentarios del Ministro, que todavía no ha pedido disculpa alguna por los hechos.

Por su parte, la agencia española de notícias EFE, vertió una información que decía que ”en Trípoli aumentan los rumores de que Gaddafi y todos sus hijos han huido del país, e incluso otros sobre la muerte de uno de los principales consejeros y mano derecha del líder libio”. Esta información resultó ser falsa también.

Los medios de comunicación Al Arabiya y MBC fueron más allá y dieron por muerto a Gaddafi. Pasadas unas horas el propio líder libio apareció en televisión, en la Plaza Verde de Trípoli, en la capital, hablándole a sus seguidores, hecho que desmintió dicha hipótesis.

Maurizio Matteuzzi pudo comprobar sobre el terreno que no existían las fosas comunes en Tadjoura, que no era cierto que el distrito de Fascilum y otros distritos de la capital hubieran sido bombardeados. Tampoco era cierto que el aeropuerto de Mitiga hubiera sido tomado por los rebeldes. Ni que Gaddafi se había exiliado en Venezuela o que había muerto.
Legitimar una intervención extranjera

Ante tantas mentiras el periodista denunció la existencia de una campaña de desinformación que tiene como objetivo impactar en la opinión pública internacional para legitimar una posible intervención militar de la OTAN.

Este mismo lunes, Estados Unidos posicionó sus barcos y portaaviones en el Mar Mediterráneo en torno a Libia. El portavoz del Pentágono, David Lapan, reconoció que “actuarían si es necesario”.

Mientras, la secretaria de Estado de EEUU, Hillary Clinton, advirtió que “todas las opciones están sobre la mesa para derrocar a Gaddafi”.
Tomado de LibreRed.net

 

Tampa, Florida – A first-of-its-kind lawsuit alleging gross negligence and fraud has been filed in a Florida state court against Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the 20-billion-dollar compensation fund for victims of BP’s Gulf oil spill, and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF).

Attorney Brian Donovan of the Donovan Law Group from Tampa filed the complaint against Feinberg, his firm Feinberg Rozen, LLP and the GCCF on behalf of Pinellas Marine Salvage, Inc. and John Mavrogiannis.

The complaint alleges, in part, gross negligence, fraud, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment on the part of the defendants.

“Feinberg and the GCCF have done more damage than the oil spill,” Donovan told IPS. “My client has relied on what Feinberg said he would do. They’ve made promises they didn’t keep. John’s company was promised money they have not received.”

Mavrogiannis told IPS, “We’re sick and tired of this runaround. I’m tired of Feinberg’s lies. He’s made promises he hasn’t kept. He’s manipulating the system and that’s not right.”

Mavrogiannis is far from alone in not having received compensation for the severe losses his business has suffered as a direct result of BP’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that began last April.

It was recently revealed that more than 130,000 compensation claims will be refused by Feinberg, who claims they lack adequate documentation.

State governments of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are accusing Feinberg of delaying claims and causing great hardship to local businesses, as well as underestimating losses to coastal businesses.

Donovan believes Feinberg is simply doing what he is being paid by BP to do.

“He’s doing his job,” Donovan told IPS, “Feinberg is a defence attorney representing BP. To think otherwise is being foolish. As a defence attorney, he’s doing a great job for BP. But they are saying ‘go with us, or sue us’.”

Feinberg’s Washington-based firm, Feinberg Rozen, was being paid 850,000 dollars a month by BP to administer the compensation fund and claims process for Gulf residents and fishermen.

A 46-page contract between BP and Feinberg detailing the arrangement was made public on Jan. 7 when it was filed in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans as part of the multi- district spill litigation against BP.

As of Jan. 15, the firm’s fee, according to the document, will be “mutually agreed to by the parties on a quarterly basis in advance of the first day of each successive calendar quarter.” This clause has led many critics to believe that Feinberg could stand to gain from dispensing less of the fund’s 20 billion dollars to claimants and tying the amount of its payments to Feinberg’s success in limiting BP’s liability.

Any funds remaining from the 20 billion would revert to BP under an agreement with the White House. Feinberg has told reporters, “My understanding is that if 20 billion dollars is sufficient and there is money left over it is retained by BP.”

In late December, Feinberg told Bloomberg Television that he anticipates about half of the fund should be enough to cover claims for economic losses.

Donovan believes lawsuits haven’t been filed against Feinberg before now “because of politics”.

“His political connections is all I can think of. I can’t think of why more people won’t go after Feinberg for this, because it’s obvious they should,” he said.

“The only attorneys involved in the BP oil spill who I know are those trying to sign up victims for class action lawsuits,” Donovan added. “This is understandable given that Reuters recently reported that fewer than three percent of the approximately 470,000 businesses and individuals who have filed claims with GCCF have lawyers helping them negotiate.”

Mavrogiannis feels their complaint is solid, “Because Feinberg has lied to us on several occasions. Had he told me from the beginning he was working for BP, I would have filed suit against BP right when this happened. I believed he was impartial with no ties, but he has deceived me, and that’s fraud.”

“If I lose my property, business, and house because I can’t make my mortgage payments because Feinberg is late in paying me, who is going to compensate me for this?” Mavrogiannis, whose home is close to being forclosed, told IPS. “I have to take my IRA’s [individual retirement accounts] out to pay my bills. I can only hang in there for another month or two then the banks are going to want their money.”

Mavrogiannis’ lawsuit alleges, in part, “The defendants employ a ‘Delay, Deny, Defend’ strategy against claimants. This strategy, commonly used by unscrupulous insurance companies, is as follows: Delay payment, starve claimant, and then offer the economically and emotionally-stressed claimant a miniscule percent of all damages to which the claimant is entitled. If the financially ruined claimant rejects the settlement offer, he or she may sue.”

The amount paid out so far averages nearly 16,000

Yemeni President Accuses US and Israel

March 2nd, 2011 by Global Research

Beirut, Mar 1 (Prensa Latina) Yemeni President Ali Abdala Saleh accused the US Embassy in his country of giving instructions to the demonstrators demanding his resignation.

In a speech pronounced at the University of Sanaa Tuesday, Abdala Saleh included the government of Israel in his accusation. 

The demonstrations are being staged in several provinces of Yemen, according to reports received in Beirut, Lebanon.

The statements of Abdala Saleh caused a little stir, because he has offered facilities to U.S. war ships, and the links between the governments of Washington and Sanaa were considered solid, because of  the collaboration against the activities of the terrorist organization  Al Qaeda.

There is an operation command led by the White House in Tel Aviv, whose objective is to destabilize the Arab world, said Abdala Saleh, according to the report.

The World Cheers as the CIA Plunges Libya Into Chaos

March 2nd, 2011 by David Rothscum

How was Libya doing under the rule of Gadaffi? How bad did the people have it? Were they oppressed as we now commonly accept as fact? Let us look at the facts for a moment.

Before the chaos erupted, Libya had a lower incarceration rate than the Czech republic. It ranked 61st. Libya had the lowest infant mortality rate of all of Africa. Libya had the highest life expectancy of all of Africa. Less than 5% of the population was undernourished. In response to the rising food prices around the world, the government of Libya abolished ALL taxes on food.

People in Libya were rich. Libya had the highest gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita of all of Africa. The government took care to ensure that everyone in the country shared in the wealth. Libya had the highest Human Development Index of any country on the continent. The wealth was distributed equally. In Libya, a lower percentage of people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.

How does Libya get so rich? The answer is oil. The country has a lot of oil, and does not allow foreign corporations to steal the resources while the population starves, unlike countries like Nigeria, a country that is basically run by Shell.

Like any country, Libya suffers from a government with corrupt bureaucrats that try to gain a bigger portion of the pie at the cost of everyone else. In response to this, Kadaffi called for the oil revenue to be distributed directly to the people, because in his opinion, the government was failing the people. However, unlike the article claims, Kadaffi is not the president of Libya. In fact he holds no official position in the government. This is the big mistake that people make. They claim that Kadaffi rules over Libya when in fact he doesn’t, his position is more or less ceremonial. He should be compared to a founding father.

The true leader of Libya is an indirectly elected prime-minister. The current prime-minister is Baghdadi Mahmudi. Calling Khadaffi the leader of Libya is comparable to calling Akihito the leader of Japan. Contrary to what your media is sketching, opinions in Libya vary. Some people support Gadaffi but want Mahmudi out. Others want both out. Many just want to live their life in peace. However, effort is taken to sketch the appearance of a popular revolt against the supposed leader of Libya, Gadaffi, when in fact he is just the architect of Libya’s current political system, a mixture of pan-Arabism, socialism, and Islamic government.

Videos of Pro-Gaddafi protests are disappearing from Youtube as we speak. “Pro Gaddafi Anti Baghdadi Mahmudi demonstrations in” youtube.com/watch?v=Ce5fLGNg0sk is gone. “Pro Gaddafi protests in front of Libyan embassy London” youtube.com/watch?v=pRwv0Ac8qbc Is gone. Youtube deletes any video containing gore normally, except when it’s from Libya. Apparently more traumatizing to it’s viewers than chopped up bodies are Libyans who do not jump on the bandwagon and enter the streets to force Gadaffi out.

Are the protesters in Libya comparable to the protesters in Egypt and Tunisia? Not at all. The governments reaction is more violent, and obviously excessive violence is being used. However let us look for a moment at the actions of the protesters. The building of the the general people’s congress, the parliament of Libya, was put on fire by angry protestors. This is comparable to protesters putting the United States Capitol on fire. Do you think that for even a moment the US government would sit idly by as protesters put the US capitol on fire?

The riots erupting now are not secular youth desiring change, or anything like we saw in Egypt and Tunisia. A group calling itself “Islamic Emirate of Barka”, the former name of the North-Western part of Libya, has taken numerous hostages, and killed two policemen. This is not a recent development. On Friday, the 18th of February, the group stole 70 military vehicles after attacking a port and killing four soldiers. Unfortunately, a military colonel has joined the group and provided them with further weapons. The uprising started in the eastern city of Benghazi. The Italian foreign minister has raised his fears of an Islamic Emirate of Benghazi declaring itself independent.

So where does this sudden uprising come from? The answer is that the same groups the US has been funding for decades are now taking their chance to gain control over the nation. A group recently arrested in Libya consisted of dozens of foreign nationals that were involved in numerous acts of looting and sabotage. The Libyan government could not rule out links to Israel.

Great Britain funded an Al Qaeda cell in Libya, in an attempt to assassinate Gadaffi. The main opposition group in Libya now is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. This opposition group is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the CIA, and French Intelligence. This group unified itself with other opposition groups, to become the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition. It was this organization that called for the “Day of Rage” that plunged Libya into chaos on February 17 of this year.

It did this in Benghazi, a conservative city that has always been opposed to Gadaffi’s rule. It should be noted that the National Front for the Salvation of Libya is well armed. In 1996 the group tried to unleash a revolution in the eastern part of Libya before. It used the Libyan National Army, the armed division of the NFSL to begin this failed uprising.

Why is the United States so opposed to Gadaffi? He is the main threat to US hegemony in Africa, because he attempts to unite the continent against the United States. This concept is called the United States of Africa. In fact, Gadaffi holds all sorts of ideas that are contrary to US interests. The man blames the United States government for the creation of HIV. He claims that Israel is behind the assasination of Martin Luther King and president John. F. Kennedy. He says that the 9/11 hijackers were trained in the US. He also urged Libyans to donate blood to Americans after 9/11. Khadaffi is also the last of a generation of moderate socialist pan-Arab revolutionaries that is still in power, after Nasser and Hussein have been eliminated, and Syria has aligned itself with Iran.

The United States and Israel however have no interest in a strong Arab world. In fact it seems that elementary to the plan is bringing Libya to its knees through chaos and anarchy. In late 2010, the United Kingdom was still propping up the Libyan government through lucrative arms sales. Nothing is a better guarantee to destroy Libya than a bloody civil war. The tribal system that is still strong in Libya is useful to exploit to generate such a war since Libya has historically been divided into various tribal groups.

This is also why the Libyan government responds by importing mercenaries. Tribal allegiances go before allegiance to the government, especially in Benghazi, and thus the central government has no control over the eastern part of the country anymore. The alternative to mercenaries is a conflict between the various ethnic groups. Gadaffi has tried for 41 years to make the country more homogeneous, but opposition groups funded by outside forced will take little more than a few days to put the country back into the 19th century, before the region was conquered and unified by Europeans. The violence is indeed excessive, but everyone seems to forget that the situation is not the same as in Tunis and Egypt. Tribal ties play a far greater role, and thus the conflict will unfortunately be bloodier.

Please remember at all times that the violent Libyan civil war unfolding now is not comparable to the revolutions seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Both of these revolutions involved peaceful protesters suffering from poverty, in opposition to their corrupt governments. The chaos in Libyan consists of a mixture of tribal conflicts, conflict over oil revenue (since most oil is in the east of the country), radical islamists opposed to Gadaffi’s system of government, and outside destabilization by Western funded exile groups.

Gadaffi took control in a bloodless coup from a sick monarch away for medical treatment 41 years ago. His ideology is based on unification and he attempted to peacefully merge his country with Egypt and Syria. It would take a miracle for the violence unfolding now to lead to a single stable democratic government in Libya, with full control over the entire country. The country is more than twice the size of Pakistan, but with 6 million inhabitants. Endless deserts divide many of the cities in the nation. If anything we should ask ourselves how many more nations will be shattered into pieces in the coming months, as the world cheers.

Amidst all the stirring political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East the name “Marshall Plan” keeps being repeated by political figures and media around the world as the key to rebuilding the economies of those societies to complement the political advances, which hopefully will be somewhat progressive. But caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.

During my years of writing and speaking about the harm and injustice inflicted upon the world by unending United States interventions, I’ve often been met with resentment from those who accuse me of chronicling only the negative side of US foreign policy and ignoring the many positive sides. When I ask the person to give me some examples of what s/he thinks show the virtuous face of America’s dealings with the world in modern times, one of the things mentioned — almost without exception — is The Marshall Plan. This is usually described along the lines of: “After World War II, the United States unselfishly built up Europe economically, including our wartime enemies, and allowed them to compete with us.” Even those today who are very cynical about US foreign policy, who are quick to question the White House’s motives in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, have little problem in accepting this picture of an altruistic America of the period 1948-1952. But let’s have a look at the Marshall Plan outside the official and popular versions.

After World War II, the United States, triumphant abroad and undamaged at home, saw a door wide open for world supremacy. Only the thing called “communism” stood in the way, politically, militarily, and ideologically. The entire US foreign policy establishment was mobilized to confront this “enemy”, and the Marshall Plan was an integral part of this campaign. How could it be otherwise? Anti-communism had been the principal pillar of US foreign policy from the Russian Revolution up to World War II, pausing for the war until the closing months of the Pacific campaign, when Washington put challenging communism ahead of fighting the Japanese. This return to anti-communism included the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan as a warning to the Soviets. 1

After the war, anti-communism continued as the leitmotif of American foreign policy as naturally as if World War II and the alliance with the Soviet Union had not happened. Along with the CIA, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the Council on Foreign Relations, certain corporations, and a few other private institutions, the Marshall Plan was one more arrow in the quiver of those striving to remake Europe to suit Washington’s desires:

  1. Spreading the capitalist gospel — to counter strong postwar tendencies towards socialism.
  2. Opening markets to provide new customers for US corporations — a major reason for helping to rebuild the European economies; e.g., a billion dollars of tobacco at today’s prices, spurred by US tobacco interests.
  3. Pushing for the creation of the Common Market and NATO as integral parts of the West European bulwark against the alleged Soviet threat.
  4. Suppressing the left all over Western Europe, most notably sabotaging the Communist Parties in France and Italy in their bids for legal, non-violent, electoral victory. Marshall Plan funds were secretly siphoned off to finance this endeavor, and the promise of aid to a country, or the threat of its cutoff, was used as a bullying club; indeed, France and Italy would certainly have been exempted from receiving aid if they had not gone along with the plots to exclude the communists from any kind of influential role.

The CIA also skimmed large amounts of Marshall Plan funds to covertly maintain cultural institutions, journalists, and publishers, at home and abroad, for the heated and omnipresent propaganda of the Cold War; the selling of the Marshall Plan to the American public and elsewhere was entwined with fighting “the red menace”. Moreover, in its covert operations, CIA personnel at times used the Marshall Plan as cover, and one of the Plan’s chief architects, Richard Bissell, then moved to the CIA, stopping off briefly at the Ford Foundation, a long time conduit for CIA covert funds. One big happy family.

The Marshall Plan imposed all kinds of restrictions on the recipient countries, all manner of economic and fiscal criteria which had to be met, designed for a wide open return to free enterprise. The US had the right to control not only how Marshall Plan dollars were spent, but also to approve the expenditure of an equivalent amount of the local currency, giving Washington substantial power over the internal plans and programs of the European states; welfare programs for the needy survivors of the war were looked upon with disfavor by the United States; even rationing smelled too much like socialism and had to go or be scaled down; nationalization of industry was even more vehemently opposed by Washington. The great bulk of Marshall Plan funds returned to the United States, or never left, to purchase American goods, making American corporations among the chief beneficiaries.

The program could be seen as more a joint business operation between governments than an American “handout”; often it was a business arrangement between American and European ruling classes, many of the latter fresh from their service to the Third Reich, some of the former as well; or it was an arrangement between Congressmen and their favorite corporations to export certain commodities, including a lot of military goods. Thus did the Marshall Plan help lay the foundation for the military industrial complex as a permanent feature of American life.

It is very difficult to find, or put together, a clear, credible description of how the Marshall Plan played a pivotal or indispensable role in the recovery in each of the 16 recipient nations. The opposing view, at least as clear, is that the Europeans — highly educated, skilled and experienced — could have recovered from the war on their own without an extensive master plan and aid program from abroad, and indeed had already made significant strides in this direction before the Plan’s funds began flowing. Marshall Plan funds were not directed primarily toward the urgently needed feeding of individuals or rebuilding their homes, schools, or factories, but at strengthening the economic superstructure, particularly the iron, steel and power industries. The period was in fact marked by deflationary policies, unemployment and recession. The one unambiguous outcome was the full restoration of the propertied class. 2

The rising up of the people … and the conservative mind

James Baker served as the Chief of Staff in President Ronald Reagan’s first administration and in the final year of the administration of President George H.W. Bush. He was also Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and Secretary of State under Bush. Thus, by establishment standards and values, inside marble-columned institutions, Baker is a man to be taken seriously when it comes to affairs of state. Here he is on February 3, during an interview by our favorite TV station, our very own shining beacon of truth, Fox News:

“We want to see the people in the Middle East have a chance at democracy and free markets … I’m sorry, democracy and human rights.” 3

Baker has a record of speaking his mind, whether Freudian-slip-like or not. When he was Secretary of State, on an occasion when the Middle East was being discussed at a government meeting, and Jewish-American influence was mentioned, Baker was reported to have said “Fuck the Jews! They don’t vote for us anyway.” 4

They couldn’t resist, could they?

News flash: “Judge Mustafa Abdel Jallil, the Libyan justice minister who resigned last week in protest over the use of force against unarmed civilians, said he has proof that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi ordered the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988. He would not disclose details of the alleged evidence.” 5

Hmmm, let me guess now why he wouldn’t disclose details of the alleged evidence … hmmm … Ah, I know — because it doesn’t exist! How could Gadhafi’s many enemies in Libya resist kicking him like this when he’s down? Or perhaps the honorable judge is simply protecting himself from a future international criminal tribunal for his years of service to the Libyan state? If you read any more of such nonsense — and you will — reach for some of the antidote I’ve been providing for more than 20 years. 6

The empire’s deep dark secret

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined,” declared US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on February 25.

Remarkable. Every one of the many wars the United States has engaged in since the end of World War II has been presented to the American people, explicitly or implicitly, as a war of necessity, not a war of choice; a war urgently needed to protect American citizens, American allies, vital American “interests”, freedom, or democracy. Here is President Obama speaking of Afghanistan: “But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.” 7

This being the case, how can a future administration say it will not go to war if any of these noble causes is seriously threatened? The answer is that these noble causes are irrelevant. The United States goes to war where and when it wants, and if a noble cause is not self-evident, the government, with indispensable help from the American media, will manufacture it. Secretary Gates is now admitting that there is choice involved. Well, Bob, thanks for telling us. You were Bush’s Secretary of Defense as well, and before that 26 years in the CIA and the National Security Council. You sure know how to keep a secret.

Items of interest from a journal I’ve kept for 40 years, part II

  • In its more than 50 years of revolution Cuba has never reciprocated the US aggression against it; no military or terrorist assaults have emanated from Havana in spite of the many hundreds of CIA aerial bombings, ground attacks, acts of sabotage, and assassination attempts. Oh, did I mention all the chemical and biological warfare? Oddly, the State Department’s list of “State sponsors of terrorism” includes Cuba, but not the United States. The little nation of Cuba has defied all rational odds against its socialist survival.
  • The wit and wisdom of Mr. Barack Obama: “To ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad, we all share the belief we have to maintain the strongest military on the planet.” (December 1, 2008, Agence France Presse) How true. All Americans share that belief, as they rejoice in the strongest military on the planet and a veritable overflowing of prosperity at home and peace abroad.
  • Steven Bradbury, Department of Justice lawyer under George W. Bush, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was discussing the legal status of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay: “The president is always right.” (Washington Post, July 12, 2006)
  • “There are 3 billion people in the world and we have only 200 million of them. We are outnumbered 15 to 1. If might did make right they would sweep over the United States and take what we have. We have what they want.” – President Lyndon Johnson, 1966
  • As the George W. Bush administration was entering office in 2000, Donald Rumsfeld exuberantly expressed grandiose ambitions for Middle East domination, telling the National Security Council: “Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that’s aligned with US interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond.” A few weeks later, Bush speechwriter David Frum declared to the New York Times Magazine: “An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States, would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans.”
  • Shortly after Salvador Allende became president of Chile in 1970, Nixon’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, recorded a conversation in which Secretary of State William Rogers agreed that “we ought, as you say, to cold-bloodedly decide what to do and then do it,” but warned it should be done “discreetly so that it doesn’t backfire.” Rogers predicted that “after all we have said about elections, if the first time a Communist wins the U.S. tries to prevent the constitutional process from coming into play we will look very bad.”
  • “The revulsion against war … will be an almost insuperable obstacle for us to overcome. For that reason, I am convinced that we must begin now to set the machinery in motion for a permanent wartime economy.” Charles E. Wilson, 1944. During World War II he held leading positions overseeing the huge US military production effort; after the war he resumed his position as CEO of General Electric, one of the leading defense corporations.
  • Remember Ben Tre? That was the Vietnamese village the Americans destroyed in 1968, saying “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.” Since then the Americans have been saving towns all over the globe, in Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Nicaragua, Sudan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and more. Then on Sept 11, 2001, someone, no doubt overcome with gratitude, decided to save some Americans. – Bev Currie, Canada
  • United Nations Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to which Serbia was the recognized successor state, and established that Kosovo was to remain part of Serbia. Today, Kosovo is independent, because the United States wants it that way, because Serbia is still being punished for its refusal in the 1990s to act like a proper European state displaying subservience to the United States, the European Union, NATO, and capitalism. Independent Kosovo is perhaps the most genuinely gangster-state in the world. It’s led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, whom a Council of Europe investigation recently accused of being the boss of a criminal operation to kidnap people and steal their kidneys.(sic) (Associated Press, December 14 and 15, 2010) He and Washington, naturally, are on the best of terms.
  • “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO in 2001, “this is a military organization. It’s moving towards our border. Why?” He subsequently described NATO as “the stinking corpse of the cold war.” (Associated Press, June 16, 2001; Press Trust of India, December 21, 2007)
  • Senator John McCain, re: fighting in Georgia, 2008: “I’m interested in good relations between the United States and Russia. But in the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.” (Washington Post, August 14, 2008) One really has to wonder at times about the sanity of neo-conservatives, or at least their IQ.
  • Re: “collateral damage” produced by US bombing in many countries: Killing innocent bystanders when targeting someone else has long been considered murder in Western law.
  • “It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” – Voltaire
  • “The central aim of the war in Afghanistan — planned well before the attacks of September 11, 2001 — was to take advantage of the power vacuum in Central Asia created by the Soviet Union’s dissolution to assert US domination over a region containing the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world.” – Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site
  • “To me, I confess, [countries] are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for dominion of the world.” Lord Curzon, British viceroy of India, speaking about Afghanistan, 1898
  • Ricardo Alarcon, President of the Cuban National Assembly, stated in 2008: Cuba allows CNN, AP and Chicago Tribune to maintain offices in Cuba, but the US refuses to allow Cuban journalists to work in the United States.
  • Washington’s “Plan Colombia”, launched in 2000, was the militarization of the war on drugs.
  • Michael Moore, March 24, 2008: “I see that Frontline on PBS this week has a documentary called ‘Bush’s War’. That’s what I’ve been calling it for a long time. It’s not the ‘Iraq War’. Iraq did nothing. Iraq didn’t plan 9/11. It didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. It DID have movie theaters and bars and women wearing what they wanted and a significant Christian population and one of the few Arab capitals with an open synagogue. But that’s all gone now. Show a movie and you’ll be shot in the head. Over a hundred women have been randomly executed for not wearing a scarf.”
  • Michael Collon: “Let’s replace the word ‘democratic’ by ‘with us’ and the word ‘terrorist’ by ‘against us’.”
  • The American Century went the way of the Thousand Year Reich.
  • Reagan invaded Grenada in October 1983 because he cut and ran from Beirut after the United States lost 241 Marines in the infamous truck bombing. The United States invaded Grenada two days later.
  • Noam Chomsky: “The whole debate about the Iranian ‘interference’ in Iraq makes sense only on one assumption; namely, that ‘we own the world’. If we own the world, then the only question that can arise is that someone else is interfering in a country we have invaded and occupied. So if you look over the debate that took place and is still taking place about Iranian interference, no one points out this is insane. How can Iran be interfering in a country that we invaded and occupied? It’s only appropriate on the presupposition that we own the world. Once you have that established in your head, the discussion is perfectly sensible.”
  • In late 1997, according to Dana Priest’s book, The Mission, the Bill Clinton White House wanted CENTCOM commander Gen. Anthony Zinni to order his pilots to provoke a military confrontation with Iraq in the no-fly zone by deliberately drawing fire from Iraqi planes.
  • Reagan accepted a fateful trade-off when he agreed not to complain about Pakistan’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons capability in exchange for Pakistani cooperation in helping the Afghan rebels.
  • “The presumption of ‘government incompetence’ is seldom a useful assumption in evaluating the behavior of governments. We only reach such a conclusion if we take their official rhetoric at face value. In terms of ‘achieving democracy’, the official rhetoric, Bush has been ‘incompetent’ in Iraq. But in terms of the real agenda — building permanent bases and controlling the oil — he has in fact been successful. I have found that this is always the pattern: some real agenda is always being achieved by the policies in force, despite the apparent bungling in terms of the official agenda.” – Richard K. Moore
  • The 9/11 attacks reflected the anger and rage that US foreign policy had produced in the past and then provided the excuse for US officials to continue such policy in the future.

Notes

  1. See William Blum’s essay on the use of the atomic bomb
  2. For discussion of various aspects of the Marshall Plan see, for example, Joyce & Gabriel Kolko, The Limits of Power: The World and US Foreign Policy 1945-1954 (1972), chapters 13, 16, 17; Sallie Pisani, The CIA and the Marshall Plan (1991) passim; Frances Stoner Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the world of arts and letters (2000) passim
  3. Crisis in Egypt – James A. Baker III on Middle East Political Change
  4. The Guardian (London), December 12, 2000; Haaretz (Israel), November 14, 2008
  5. McClatchy Newspapers, February 26, 2011
  6. The Bombing of PanAm Flight 103: Case Not Closed
  7. Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 17, 2009 

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

The worst thing that could happen to the people of Libya is U.S. intervention.

The worst thing that could happen to the revolutionary upsurge shaking the Arab world is U.S. intervention in Libya.

The White House is meeting with its allies among the European imperialist NATO countries to discuss imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, jamming all communications of President Moammar Gadhafi inside Libya, and carving military corridors into Libya from Egypt and Tunisia, supposedly to “assist refugees.” (New York Times, Feb. 27)

This means positioning U.S./NATO troops in Egypt and Tunisia close to Libya’s two richest oil fields, in both the east and west. It means the Pentagon coordinating maneuvers with the Egyptian and Tunisian militaries. What could be more dangerous to the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions?

Italy, once the colonizer of Libya, has suspended a 2008 treaty with Libya that includes a nonaggression clause, a move that could allow it to take part in future “peacekeeping” operations there and enable the use of its military bases in any possible intervention. Several U.S. and NATO bases in Italy, including the U.S. Sixth Fleet base near Naples, could be staging areas for action against Libya.

President Barack Obama has announced that “the full range of options” is under consideration. This is Washington-speak for military operations.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Geneva on Feb. 28 with foreign ministers at the U.N. Human Rights Council to discuss possible multilateral actions.

Meanwhile, adding to the drumbeat for military intervention is the release of a public letter from the Foreign Policy Initiative, a right-wing think tank seen as the successor to the Project for the New American Century, calling for the U.S. and NATO to “immediately” prepare military action to help bring down the Gadhafi regime.

The public appeal’s signers include William Kristol, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith and more than a dozen former senior officials from the Bush administration, plus several prominent liberal Democrats, such as Neil Hicks of Human Rights First and Bill Clinton’s “human rights” chief, John Shattuck.

The letter called for economic sanctions and military action: deploying NATO warplanes and a naval armada to enforce no-fly zones and have the capability to disable Libyan naval vessels.

Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman while in Tel Aviv on Feb. 25 called for Washington to supply Libyan rebels with arms and establish a no-fly zone over the country.

Not to be overlooked are calls for U.N. contingents of medical and humanitarian workers, human rights monitors and investigators from the International Criminal Court to be sent to Libya with an “armed escort.”

Providing humanitarian aid doesn’t have to include the military. Turkey has evacuated 7,000 of its nationals on ferries and chartered flights. Some 29,000 Chinese workers have left via ferries, chartered flights and ground transportation.

However, the way in which the European powers are evacuating their nationals from Libya during the crisis includes a military threat and is part of the imperialist jockeying for position regarding Libya’s future.

Germany sent three warships, carrying 600 troops, and two military planes to bring 200 German employees of the oil exploration company Wintershall out of a desert camp 600 miles southeast of Tripoli. The British sent the HMS Cumberland warship to evacuate 200 British nationals and announced that the destroyer York was on its way from Gibraltar.

The U.S. announced on Feb. 28 that it was sending the huge aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge from the Red Sea to the waters off Libya, where it will join the USS Mount Whitney and other battleships from the Sixth Fleet. U.S. officials called this a “pre-positioning of military assets.”

U.N. VOTE ON SANCTIONS

The U.N. Security Council – under U.S. pressure — on Feb. 26 voted to impose sanctions on Libya. According to studies by the U.N.’s own agencies, more than 1 million Iraqi children died as a result of U.S./U.N.-imposed sanctions on that country that paved the way for an actual U.S. invasion. Sanctions are criminal and confirm that this intervention is not due to humanitarian concern.

The sheer hypocrisy of the resolution on Libya expressing concern for “human rights” is hard to match. Just four days before the vote, the U.S. used its veto to block a mildly worded resolution criticizing Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank.

The U.S. government blocked the Security Council from taking any action during the 2008 Israeli massacre in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 Palestinians. These international bodies, as well as the International Criminal Court, have been silent on Israeli massacres, on U.S. drone attacks on defenseless civilians in Pakistan, and on the criminal invasions and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The fact that China went along with the sanctions vote is an unfortunate example of the government in Beijing letting its interest in trade and continued oil shipments take precedence over its past opposition to sanctions that clearly impact civilian populations.

WHO LEADS THE OPPOSITION?

It is important to look at the opposition movement, especially those being so widely quoted in all the international media. We must assume that people with genuine grievances and wrongs have been caught up in it. But who is actually leading the movement?

A front-page New York Times article of Feb. 25 described just how different Libya is from other struggles breaking out across the Arab world. “Unlike the Facebook enabled youth rebellions, the insurrection here has been led by people who are more mature and who have been actively opposing the regime for some time.” The article describes how arms had been smuggled across the border with Egypt for weeks, allowing the rebellion to “escalate quickly and violently in little more than a week.”

The opposition group most widely quoted is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. The NFSL, founded in 1981, is known to be a CIA-funded organization, with offices in Washington, D.C. It has maintained a military force, called the Libyan National Army, in Egypt near the Libyan border. A Google search of National Front for the Salvation of Libya and CIA will quickly confirm hundreds of references.

Also widely quoted is the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition. This is a coalition formed by the NFSL that also includes the Libyan Constitutional Union, led by Muhammad as-Senussi, a pretender to the Libyan throne. The web site of the LCU calls upon the Libyan people to reiterate a pledge of allegiance to King Idris El-Senusi as historical leader of the Libyan people. The flag used by the coalition is the flag of the former Kingdom of Libya.

Clearly these CIA-financed forces and old monarchists are politically and socially different from the disenfranchised youth and workers who have marched by the millions against U.S.-backed dictators in Egypt and Tunisia and are today demonstrating in Bahrain, Yemen and Oman.

According to the Times article, the military wing of the NFSL, using smuggled arms, quickly seized police and military posts in the Mediterranean port city of Benghazi and nearby areas that are north of Libya’s richest oil fields and are where most of its oil and gas pipelines, refineries and its liquefied natural gas port are located. The Times and other Western media claim that this area, now under “opposition control,” includes 80 percent of Libya’s oil facilities.

The Libyan opposition, unlike the movements elsewhere in the Arab world, from the beginning appealed for international assistance. And the imperialists quickly responded.

For example, Mohammed Ali Abdallah, deputy secretary general of the NFSL, sent out a desperate appeal: “We are expecting a massacre.” “We are sending an SOS to the international community to step in.” Without international efforts to restrain Gadhafi, “there will be a bloodbath in Libya in the next 48 hours.”

The Wall Street Journal, the voice of big business, in a Feb. 23 editorial wrote that “The U.S. and Europe should help the Libyans overthrow the Gadhafi regime.”

U.S. INTERESTS – OIL

Why are Washington and the European powers willing and anxious to act on Libya?

When a new development arises it is important to review what we know of the past and to always ask, what are the interests of U.S. corporations in the region?

Libya is an oil-rich country – one of the world’s 10 richest. Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, at least 44 billion barrels. It has been producing 1.8 million barrels of oil a day – light crude that is considered top quality and needs less refining than most other oil. Libya also has large deposits of natural gas that is easy to pipe directly to European markets. It is a large country in area with a small population 6.4 million people.

That is how the powerful U.S. oil and military corporations, banks and financial institutions who dominate global markets see Libya.

Oil and gas are today the most valuable commodities and the largest source of profits in the world. Gaining control of oil fields, pipelines, refineries and markets drives a great part of U.S. imperialist policy.

During two decades of U.S. sanctions on Libya, which Washington had calculated would bring down the regime, European corporate interests invested heavily in pipeline and infrastructure development there. Some 85 percent of Libya’s energy exports go to Europe.

European transnationals — in particular BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Eni, BASF, Statoil and Rapsol – have dominated Libya’s oil market. The giant U.S. oil corporations were left out of these lucrative deals. China has been buying a growing amount of oil produced by Libya’s National Oil Corp. and has built a short oil pipeline in Libya.

The huge profits that could be made by controlling Libya’s oil and natural gas are what is behind the drum roll of the U.S. corporate media’s call for “humanitarian intervention to save lives.” 

Manlio Dinucci, an Italian journalist writing for Italy’s Il Manifesto, explained on Feb. 25 that “If Gadhafi is overthrown, the U.S. would be able to topple the entire framework of economic relations with Libya, opening the way to U.S.-based multinationals, so far almost entirely excluded from exploitation of energy reserves in Libya. The United States could thus control the tap for energy sources upon which Europe largely depends and which also supply China.”

LIBYA BACKGROUND

Libya was a colony of Italy from 1911 until Italy’s defeat in World War II. The Western imperialist powers after the war set up regimes across the region that were called independent states but were headed by appointed monarchs with no democratic vote for the people. Libya became a sovereign country in name, but was firmly tied to the U.S. and Britain under a new monarch – King Idris.

In 1969 as a wave of anti-colonial struggles swept the colonized world, revolutionary-minded Pan-Arab nationalist junior military officers overthrew Idris, who was vacationing in Europe. The leader of the coup was 27-year old Moammar Gadhafi.

Libya changed its name from the Kingdom of Libya to the Libyan Arab Republic and later to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The young officers ordered the U.S. and British bases in Libya closed, including the Pentagon’s large Wheelus Air Base. They nationalized the oil industry and many commercial interests that had been under U.S. and British imperialist control.

These military officers did not come to power in a revolutionary upheaval of the masses. It was not a socialist revolution. It was still a class society. But Libya was no longer under foreign domination.

Many progressive changes were carried out. New Libya made many economic and social gains. The conditions of life for the masses radically improved. Most basic necessities — food, housing, fuel, health care and education — were either heavily subsidized or became entirely free. Subsidies were used as the best way to redistribute the national wealth.

Conditions for women changed dramatically. Within 20 years Libya had the highest Human Development Index ranking in Africa — a U.N. measurement of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Libya was internationally known for taking strong anti-imperialist positions and supporting other revolutionary struggles, from the African National Congress in South Africa to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Irish Republican Army.

The U.S. carried out numerous assassination and coup attempts against the Gadhafi regime and financed armed opposition groups, such as the NFSL. Some U.S. attacks were blatant and open. For example, without warning 66 U.S. jets bombed the Libyan capital of Tripoli and its second-largest city, Benghazi, on April 15, 1986. Gadhafi’s home was bombed and his infant daughter killed in the attack, along with hundreds of others.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the U.S. succeeded in isolating Libya through severe economic sanctions. Every effort was made to sabotage the economy and to destabilize the government.

DEMONIZATION OF QADDAFI

It is up to the people of Libya, of Africa and of the Arab World to evaluate the contradictory role of Gadhafi, the chair of Libya’s Revolutionary Command Council. People here, in the center of an empire built on global exploitation, should not join in the racist characterizations, ridicule and demonization of Gadhafi that saturate the corporate media.

Even if Gadhafi were as quiet and austere as a monk and as careful as a diplomat, as president of an oil-rich, previously underdeveloped African country he still would have been hated, ridiculed and demonized by U.S. imperialism if he resisted U.S. corporate domination. That was his real crime and for that he has never been forgiven.

It is important to note that degrading and racist terms are never used against reliable U.S. pawns or dictators, regardless of how corrupt or ruthless they may be to their own people.

U.S. THREATS FORCES CONCESSIONS

It was after the U.S. war crime billed as “shock and awe,” with its massive aerial bombardment of Iraq followed by a ground invasion and occupation, that Libya finally succumbed to U.S. demands. After decades of militant, anti-imperialist solidarity, Libya dramatically changed course. Gadhafi offered to assist the U.S. in its “war on terror.”

Washington’s demands were onerous and humiliating. Libya was forced to accept full responsibility for the downing of the Lockerbie aircraft and pay $2.7 billion in indemnities. That was just the beginning. In order for U.S. sanctions to be lifted, Libya had to open its markets and “restructure” its economy. It was all part of the package.

Regardless of Gadhafi’s many concessions and the subsequent grand receptions for him by European heads of state, U.S. imperialism was planning his complete humiliation and downfall. U.S. think tanks engaged in numerous studies of how to undermine and weaken Gadhafi’s popular support.

IMF strategists descended on Libya with programs. The new economic advisors prescribed the same measures they impose on every developing country. But Libya did not have a foreign debt; it has a positive trade balance of $27 billion a year. The only reason the IMF demanded an end to subsidies of basic necessities was to undercut the social basis of support for the regime.

Libya’s “market liberalization” meant a cut in $5 billion worth of subsidies annually. For decades, the state had been subsidizing 93 percent of the value of several basic commodities, notably fuel. After accepting the IMF program, the government doubled the price of electricity for consumers. There was a sudden 30 percent hike in fuel prices. This touched off price increases in many other goods and services as well.

Libya was told to privatize 360 state-owned companies and enterprises, including steel mills, cement plants, engineering firms, food factories, truck and bus assembly lines and state farms. This left thousands of workers jobless.

Libya had to sell a 60-percent stake in the state-owned oil company Tamoil Group and privatize its General National Company for Flour Mills and Fodder.

The Carnegie Endowment Fund was already charting the impact of economic reforms. A 2005 report titled “Economic Reforms Anger Libyan Citizens” by Eman Wahby said that “Another aspect of structural reform was the end of restrictions on imports. Foreign companies were granted licenses to export to Libya through local agents. As a result, products from all over the world have flooded the previously isolated Libyan market.” This was a disaster for workers in Libya’s factories, which are unequipped to face competition.

More than $4 billion poured into Libya, which became Africa’s top recipient of foreign investment. As the bankers and their think tanks knew so well, this did not benefit the Libyan masses, it impoverished them.

But no matter what Gadhafi did, it was never enough for U.S. corporate power. The bankers and financiers wanted more. There was no trust. Gadhafi had opposed the U.S. for decades and was still considered highly “unreliable.”

The magazine US Banker in May 2005 ran an article titled “Emerging Markets: Is Libya the Next Frontier for U.S. Banks?” It said that “As the nation passes reforms, profits beckon. But chaos abounds.” It interviewed Robert Armao, president of the New York City[-based U.S.-Libya Trade and Economic Council: “All the big Western banks are now exploring opportunities there." said Armao. “The political situation with [Gadhafi] is still very suspect.” The potential “looks wonderful for banks. Libya is a country untouched and a land of opportunity. It will happen, but it may take a little time.”

Libya has never been a socialist country. There has always been extensive inherited wealth and old privileges. It is a class society with millions of workers, many of them immigrants.

Restructuring the economy to maximize profits for Western bankers destabilized relations, even in the ruling circles. Who gets in on the deals to privatize key industries, which families, which tribes? Who is left out? Old rivalries and competitions surfaced.

Just how carefully the U.S. government was monitoring these imposed changes can be seen in recently released Wikileaks cables from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, reprinted in the Britain-based Telegraph of Jan. 31. A cable titled “Inflation on the rise in Libya and sent on Jan. 4, 2009, described the impact of “a radical program of privatization and government restructuring.”

“Particular increases were seen,” the cable said, “in prices for foodstuffs — the price of previously subsidized goods such as sugar, rice, and flour increased by 85 percent in the two years since subsidies were lifted. Construction materials have also increased markedly: prices for cement, aggregate, and bricks have increased by 65 percent in the past year. Cement has gone from 5 Libyan dinars for a 50-kilogram bag to 17 dinars in one year; the price of steel bars has increased by a factor of ten.

“The [Libyan government’s] termination of subsidies and price controls as part of a broader program of economic reform and privatization has certainly contributed to inflationary pressures and prompted some grumbling. …

“The combination of high inflation and diminishing subsidies and price controls is worrying for a Libyan public accustomed to greater government cushioning from market forces.”

These U.S. Embassy cables confirm that while continuing to maintain and finance Libyan opposition groups in Egypt, Washington and London were also constantly taking the temperature of the mass discontent caused by their policies.

Today millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are deeply inspired by the actions of millions of youths in the streets of Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and now Oman. The impact is felt even in the sit-in in Wisconsin.

It is vital for the U.S. political and class-conscious movement to resist the enormous pressure of a U.S.-orchestrated campaign for military intervention in Libya. A new imperialist adventure must be challenged. Solidarity with the peoples’ movements! U.S. hands off!

AP News, March 2, has just announced “two U.S. warships entered the Suez Canal on their way to the Mediterranean, moving closer to the Libyan coast after orders from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.”

It is of great importance that the United National Antiwar Committee, UNACpeace.org, a major broad-based antiwar coalition in the United States, in the midst of escalating preparations for U.S. military action in Libya, has issued a unified statement opposing all forms of U.S. intervention in Libya, including No-Fly Zones and Sanctions.

This statement, drafted by well-known antiwar activist Kathy Kelly, was based on thorough discussions and unanimous decision of the UNAC Steering Committee. UNACpeace.org has more than 400 endorsing organizations and major bi-coastal antiwar demonstrations planned on April 9 in NYC and April 10 in San Francisco.

To have such a clearly defined position against U.S. sanctions, intervention or military action of any form and major mass demonstrations planned for April 9 & 10 mobilizing during this time of escalating war preparation projects UNAC into the center of the debate.

The statement of the United National Antiwar Committee is reproduced again below. As a member of the UNACpeace Steering Committee, I wholeheartedly support this statement.

The accompanying material is my own views and intended only as background information. I am submitting it to help combat a great deal of the U.S. war propaganda. 

For Unity and Solidarity,

Sara Flounders, International Action Center & Member of UNAC Steering Committee

United National Antiwar Committee, UNACpeace.org Statement on Libya

At great risks to their lives, activists organizing to oppose oppressive, dictatorial regimes in the Middle East and North Africa have inspired us by their courage and determination.  

We ruefully acknowledge past and continuing U.S. support for dictatorships and military rule in the region.  We recognize that the U.S. has been directly involved in supplying weapons and other forms of support to regimes that have committed atrocious human rights abuses against civilians.  Conscious of our responsibility to stop the United States from further manipulations that would interfere with movements on behalf of true democratic developments in other countries, UNAC calls for an immediate halt to U.S.  intervention in regions and countries where mass mobilizations are challenging oppressive regimes. 

We have seen the horrific consequences of U.S./UN imposed economic sanctions against Iraq, as well as the consequences of U.S./UN operation of “no-fly zones” over northern and southern Iraq, prior to the U.S. Shock and Awe attacks and invasion. 

We therefore oppose any form of U.S. military or economic intervention in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia and other countries where movements are rising in opposition to dictatorships and military rule.    

«L’intervento militare esterno? Un errore»

March 2nd, 2011 by Tommaso Di Francesco

Ad Angelo Del Boca, esperto di Libia e storico del colonialismo italiano, abbiamo rivolto alcune domande sul precipitare della crisi in in Libia.

Il ministro degli esteri italiano Frattini dichiara che l’Italia è pronta a chiedere l’intervento in Libia dell’Oua, l’Organizzazione unitaria dei paesi africani, su mandato delle Nazioni unite. Che ne pensi?

È una proposta molto velleitaria e per molti motivi. Prima di tutto il ministro Frattini dimentica l’origine di questa Unione africana che è un’organizzazione fondata da Muammar Gheddafi. Ora sembra abbastanza strano che si mandi un’organizzazione inventata da Gheddafi a colpire Gheddari. È stata proprio un’idea di Gheddafi che nel 2000 ha radunato a Sirte 54 capi di governo e di stato ed ha fatto questa la proposta di organizzare una unione africana che coinvolgesse tutto il continente per avere uno strumento unitario con cui trattare con altri «blocchi» internazionali da una posizione di forza. In realtà ha avuto scarsi successi perchè è andata male in Darfur sta andando molto male in Somalia, dove le forze Oua non riescono neanche a salvare non dico Mogadiscio ma neanche un quartiere della capitale somala. Mi sembra che la proposta di Frattini ha scarso valore.

Si parla di intervento, arrivano notizie dai siti israeliani (Depha» della presenza di centinaia di consiglieri militari americani e britannici in Cirenaica. Mentre le forze speciali tedesche sono intervenute con un blitz segreto per salvare dipendenti dell’Arabia Gulf Oil. Insomma, secondo te serve un intervento militare dall’esterno, magari di Nato e Stati uniti insieme?

Io direi tutto meno che americano. Perché verrebbe giudicato molto male. Non dimentichiamo che gli Stati uniti hanno già fatto un intervento militare nell’86 quando hanno mandato i cacciabombardieri su Bengasi e su Tripoli massacrando un centinaio di persone, compresa una figlia adottiva di Gheddafi. Diciamo che, con questo ricordo, forse gli americani non dovrebbero riproporre una soluzione simile.

Come giudichi il fatto che gli insorti del Consiglio nazionale della Cirenaica dicano espressamente: «Non vogliamo un intervento militare straniero, vogliamo liberarci da soli»?

Trovo sia giusto, è un valore in sé molto importante. Perché in un certo senso forse riescono da soli ad accerchiare Tripoli. Ci vorranno dei giorni, ancora molti giorni, per dare poi il colpo finale. Perché Sirte è ancora in mano a Gheddafi e anche altre località a mezza strada. Se loro pensano di partire da Bengasi con una marcia o convoglio militare per andare ad attaccare Tripoli, rischiano di fallire. Sono 1200 km di distanza, ed è difficile poter fare uno sforzo di quel genere seza un esercito veramente organizzato e regolare.

È confermato che si sono schierati con gli insorti molti protagonisti della lotta di liberazione libica dal colonialismo fascista?

Sì, due giorni fa è scesa in campo la famiglia di Mohamed Fekini, erore della resistenza contro gli italiani. Da Londra Anwar Fekini (avvocato internazionale) coordina alcune iniziative, convincendo alcuni ambasciatori a disocciarsi da Gheddafi. Ha fatto anche una trasmissione su una radio di Londra e i suoi cugini – altri nipoti del famoso Mohamed Fekini, hanno raggiunto gli insorti in montagna e stanno organizzando l’operazione per scendere su Tripoli. E adesso sono armati. Da principio non lo erano, poi hanno occupato un campo militare e si sono impossessati di carri armati e missili. Domenica Gheddafi, sperando di poter evitare la scesa in campo della tribù dei Rogeban alla quale appartengono i Fekini, ha inviato un suo generale che si chiama Mustafa Akkad (anche lui è un rogeban) per convincerli a desistere o a rimanere neutrali. E naturalmente Faden Fekini, altro cugino colonnello dell’aviazione, gli ha risposto di no e, anzi, lo hanno invitato a dissociarsi da Gheddafi altrimenti anche lui sarebbe finito mamale. Dunque, è scesa in campo la potente famiglia Fekini.

 http://abbonati.ilmanifesto.it/Quotidiano-archivio/01-Marzo-2011/art40.php3

Si sta preparando l’operazione Libia

March 2nd, 2011 by Manlio Dinucci

«Gli Stati uniti stanno muovendo forze navali e aeree nella regione» per preparare «l’intera gamma di opzioni» nei confronti della Libia: lo ha annunciato ieri il portavoce del Pentagono, il colonnello dei marines Dave Lapan.  Ha quindi detto che «è stato il presidente Obama a chiedere ai militari di preparare tali opzioni», poiché la situazione in Libia sta peggiorando.  I militari hanno quindi iniziato «la fase di pianificazione e preparazione» per un intervento in Libia. Gli strateghi del Pentagono stanno lavorando a vari piani specifici, in funzione dei quali è iniziato il «riposizionamento di forze» così da avere la massima flessibilità per attuare qualsiasi opzione.

In tale quadro la portaerei nucleare USS Enterprise, dislocata nel Golfo di Aden ufficialmente per operazioni anti-pirateria, ha cominciato a risalire il Mar Rosso per attraversare il Canale di Suez e piazzarsi di fronte alle coste libiche. Lo stesso sta facendo la nave anfibia da sbarco USS Kearsarge, con a bordo una squadra di elicotteri da attacco e 2mila marines. Una prima opzione potrebbe essere l’imposizione di una «no-fly zone» sulla Libia: i caccia statunitensi e di altri paesi della Nato impedirebbero a qualsiasi altro aereo di levarsi in volo sul territorio libico, abbattendolo se lo facesse. Tale misura, la cui motivazione ufficiale sarebbe quella di impedire ai caccia di Gheddafi di colpire i ribelli, isolerebbe in pratica la capitale. Un’altra misura, che potrebbe essere attuata contemporaneamente, sarebbe quella di interrompere tutte le telecomunicazioni  tra  la capitale e il resto del paese. Si sta allo stesso preparando una terza opzione: lo sbarco di forze in Libia, ufficialmente per aprire dei «corridoi umanitari».

Le operazione aeronavali vengono dirette dal Comando delle forze navali Usa in Europa, a Napoli, dove si trovano anche il quartier generale delle forze navali del Comando Africa e quello della Forza congiunta alleata. Tutti e tre i comandi sono nelle mani dello stesso ammiraglio statunitense Sam J. Locklear III. Un ruolo importante svolge anche la base aeronavale di Sigonella (in Sicilia), dalla quale opera da tempo una forza speciale Usa per missioni segrete in Africa. Ma è tutta la rete della basi Usa/Nato in Italia, compresa la Sesta flotta, che è stata allertata per essere pronta all’«intera gamma di opzioni». Lo ha confermato il segretario Usa alla difesa Robert Gates, in una intervista al Wall Street Journal e al Weekly Standard: a proposito dell’imposizione di una «no-fly zone» sulla Libia, ha dichiarato che «la Francia e l’Italia hanno le strutture che permetterebbero di attuare l’operazione più rapidamente».

Quale sarebbe la copertura politica per l’intera operazione, lo ha anticipato la segretaria di stato Hillary Clinton.  In un intervento fatto ieri alla base aerea Andrews, ha detto che gli Stati uniti stanno prendendo «contatti con molti libici che si stanno organizzando nella parte orientale del paese, mentre la rivoluzione si muove verso ovest», ossia verso Tripoli. Ha quindi dichiarato che «siamo pronti e preparati a offrire qualsiasi tipo di assistenza a chiunque desideri riceverla dagli Stati uniti». Ciò conferma indirettamente le notizie, provenienti da varie fonti, che «consiglieri» statunitensi e Nato sono già al lavoro tra i ribelli. La luce verde all’imposizione di una «no-fly zone» e allo sbarco di forze Usa/Nato in Libia verrebbe data su richiesta dei ribelli stessi o di un loro «governo provvisorio», capeggiato da qualche notabile che ha abbandonato tempestivamente la barca del capo per passare su quella dei ribelli.

Questi fatti indicano che vi è un piano di «balcanizzazione» della Libia,  che sfrutta il malcontento e l’odio per il capo e il suo clan accumulatosi in parte della popolazione e, quindi, la lotta di quanti (soprattutto giovani) si battono genuinamente per la democrazia e la giustizia sociale. Tale piano, concepito a Washington, non prevede di spegnere le fiamme della guerra civile, ma di alimentarle per spaccare e indebolire ulteriormente la Libia. La posta in gioco è chiara: il controllo delle riserve energetiche libiche. La parola «rivoluzione» in bocca alla segretaria di stato Hillary Clinton dovrebbe suonare come un campanello d’allarme sul tipo di «assistenza» che essa offre «a chiunque desideri riceverla dagli Stati uniti».

(il manifesto, 2 marzo 2011)

States across the US are attacking the wages and jobs of public sector workers, and drastically reducing spending on education, health care, and all other forms of social spending, according to a new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) that analyzes budget proposals from 41 states for fiscal year 2012.

Both Democratic and Republican governors are demanding the cuts, and in most cases they are collaborating with public sector unions to put them in place. Both parties openly and shamelessly insist that the working class must foot the entire bill for the economic crisis that was triggered by the parasitism of the financial elite.

The CBPP report catalogues the sorts of cuts that are being outlined. Taken together, they foretell a rising tide of human misery and a society in an advanced state of dissolution.

Among 36 states having so far made public the necessary data, 27 will reduce spending levels to lower levels than in 2008, adjusted for inflation, even though “in the 2012 budget year, there will be more children in public schools, more students enrolled in public colleges and universities, and more Medicaid enrollees than there were in 2008,” as the study notes. Aggregate state spending will be about 10 percent less than it was in 2008, and only two sparsely populated states, North Dakota and Alaska, have significantly increased spending since then.

At least 16 states will undertake “identifiable, deep” cuts to public education, according to the study, and at least 15 have proposed severe cuts to higher education funding.

A minimum of 14 states have proposed layoffs or wage and benefit cuts to state workers. These will come on top of the 426,000 job cuts in state and local government that have been put in place since August 2008.

At least 23 states have proposed major cuts to health care spending. Especially targeted is the joint federal-state health insurance coverage for the poor, Medicaid, which the Obama administration envisions absorbing millions of people as part of its “health care reform.” As the study notes, “Some 4 million more people are projected to receive subsidized health insurance through Medicaid in 2012 than were enrolled in 2008, as employers have cancelled their coverage and people have lost jobs and wages.”

Only three states—Minnesota, Illinois, and Connecticut—are combining cuts to social spending and attacks on state workers with modest increases in corporate tax rates and income tax rates for wealthy filers. Elsewhere, tax increases target the income of the working class through sales tax hikes, as well increased license and user fees for state services.

Seven states are exacerbating their budget crises by enacting major new tax breaks for corporations. Florida will lose $459 million in funding by cutting its corporate tax rate nearly in half, to 3.5 percent, if it adopts Governor Rick Scott’s budget proposal. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s move to reduce the estate tax on millionaires and slash the corporate tax rate will cost the state $700 million by 2016. Reductions in the estate and corporate tax rates in Maine will reduce revenues by $203 million and widen the two-year budget deficit by 25 percent, if Governor Paul LePage’s budget is enacted in full. In January, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker put in place business and individual tax cuts of $117 million. Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder has proposed abolishing the state business tax. He intends to pay for this by taxing workers’ pensions and doing away with the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families. The measure will nonetheless increase Michigan’s deficit by $254 million in 2012.

Like the unemployment rate, economists view the fiscal health of states and cities as a “lagging indicator,” as tax revenues remain low even after recoveries in the business cycle. Tax receipts have fallen because of high unemployment and wage cutting, driving down revenues earned through income and sales taxes, the two primary sources of funding for states. At least 31 states have less revenue in 2012 than they had in 2008, by an average of 8 percent. Meanwhile, joblessness and growing poverty place greater demands on state services.

The situation has been exacerbated by the decision of Congress and the Obama administration to cut off even the miserly amount of funding the government had afforded to the states in 2009 and 2010. The CBPP estimates that only about $6 billion in emergency relief will be extended to the states in 2011, a tiny proportion of their combined budget deficit of $125 billion.

Obama’s multi-year freeze on discretionary social spending will also severely impact budget crises, because about one third of this sort of spending is distributed through the states. Republicans have countered Obama’s freeze with a proposal for a 14 percent reduction in discretionary social spending. A “compromise” resulting in a substantial reduction is the likely result.

The CBPP report analyzes budget proposals in a number of states.

Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer’s budget would reduce funding for the university system by 20 percent, bringing funding down nearly 50 percent compared to what it was in 2008. These cuts have already resulted in 2,100 job cuts, spiraling tuition, and the merger or closure of 182 colleges, schools, programs and departments. Brewer is also proposing cutting half of the funding for community colleges. Her proposal eliminates Medicaid coverage for 280,000 people, and imposes a 5 percent cut to fees paid to doctors, clinics and hospitals that treat Medicaid recipients.

California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown is proposing slashing funding for the state Medicaid program, MediCal, by $1.7 billion. To come up with these savings, he would limit access to most prescriptions and certain medical devices, for example hearing aids, and he would reduce the number of covered doctor visits to six from ten. The budget also axes a program that helps elderly people stay in their communities and out of nursing homes. Brown is demanding savage cuts to the joint state-federal CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), which aims to provide health insurance to children above the poverty level, but whose families cannot afford private insurance. He would eliminate eye care, including glasses, from coverage, and increase premiums and co-pays.

Brown’s budget also outlines $1.5 billion in cuts to CalWorks, the state’s “welfare to work” program. He would reduce the number of months families can receive benefits to 48 from 60, and cut the maximum monthly CalWorks stipend for a family of three from $694 to $604.

Brown’s budget would reduce funding to public universities by $1 billion. For the University of California system, “ the cuts would bring nominal spending down to the fiscal year 1999 level—when the system had 31 percent fewer students than it does today,” the study notes. Brown’s budget would also jack up community college fees by 38 percent, an average increase of $300 per student.

Washington Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire proposes cutting $1 billion in education funding and a further $345 million from public universities, which will be made up largely by tuition increases. She would eliminate health care coverage for more than 60,000 people currently insured by the state’s Basic Health Plan, axe a cash assistance program for 28,000 low-income disabled people, end medical assistance for 21,000 poor people with disabilities, cancel a program that provides health assistance to 27,000 children of undocumented workers, and roll back in-home care that benefits 45,000 people.

Texas The budget proposal in Texas, advanced by the Legislative Budget Board, would cut rates paid to Medicaid providers by 10 percent, end all funding for three community college campuses, cut funding for public colleges and universities by 16 percent, and eliminate a college scholarship program that benefits 87,000 low-income students. The proposal cuts funding for public education to 23 percent below the state’s own legally mandated level, and it ends funding for a learning program that serves about 40 percent of the pre-kindergarten population. According to the “state’s leading expert on school finance,” the cuts to education proposed in Texas would result in layoffs for as many as 100,000 teachers.

Colorado Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper’s budget proposal would cut public education spending by $497 per pupil and university spending by $878 per student. He would gut more than $13 million from state Medicaid services, mainly by reducing fees paid to medical care providers.

Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott would lay off 8,100 state workers, cut another 2,000 positions, and require $5,000 health insurance contributions from state workers. His budget would also reduce public education funding by 10 percent.

Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal would reduce the state workforce by 14,000. He would cut by 5.6 percent funding to public schools and by 10 percent funding to the university system. His budget would slash Medicaid by ending coverage of a number of services, including adult vision, dental, and podiatry services and by cutting payments to health care providers. The plan jacks up co-pays for inpatient hospital services by 400 percent, and by 15 percent for outpatient services. He would also drastically scale back funding for daytime childcare, reducing by as much as 10,000 the number of children served.

Nevada The budget of Republican Governor Brian Sandoval would cut teacher pay by 5 percent, reduce funding for the public schools by $270 per student, cut state funding for higher education by 18 percent, cut by $100 million aid to counties, and end all funding for protective services for the elderly and a program providing treatment for the mentally ill.

New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo proposes to slash public education funding by 7.3 percent, funding to the State University of New York (SUNY) system by 9.1 percent, and support for the City University of New York (CUNY) by 5.2 percent. He is demanding nearly $1 billion in cuts to Medicaid funding.

South Dakota Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard is requesting a 10 percent cut in Medicaid provider rates, and a 10 percent cut to funding for public education system. “The cut is so large that the state’s largest school district says it would be unable to satisfy it even if it were to eliminate all school buses and remove all athletic and fine arts programs,” the CBP notes.

New Hampshire Democratic Governor Brian Lynch is pushing for a 23 percent cut in funding for the public universities, equivalent to $750 per student, and a 21 percent cut in state funding for community colleges, or about $400 per student. The budget would cut 1,100 state jobs and force 255 layoffs, and would eliminate state contributions to worker retirement accounts.

Oregon Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber is requesting an 11 percent cut in funding for community colleges and a 4.9 percent cut in support for the universities. He would reduce Medicaid fees by between 16 and 19 percent.

Connecticut Democratic Governor Dan Malloy would cut Medicaid costs by limiting to one per year adult dental exams, cleanings and x-rays. His budget relies on $2 billion in concessions from government workers to be wrung out of the workforce by the unions. Among options Malloy and the unions are considering are: “freezing state employee wages, moving state employees to a health plan similar to that provided to federal workers, extending 3-day-a-year furloughs until the end of the biennium, and raising the retirement age.” If these cuts are not accepted, Malloy is threatening thousands of layoffs.

Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback has targeted mental health for major cutbacks. His budget would end funding for community mental health centers that currently provide 24-hour emergency assistance for 70,000 uninsured and underinsured people. He is demanding the end of funding for mental health assistance for 850 families of children “with severe emotional disturbances.” He is also proposing a drastic 6 percent cut in per-pupil funding in the public schools.

Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a budget that would cut by 7 percent aid to local governments and reduce by $16.4 million aid for mental health services. This “would result in the elimination of 160 beds for mental health patients, a reduction of almost 25 percent.”

Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark Dayton’s budget calls for a 6 percent pay cut for all state workers and reductions of between 2 percent and 4.5 percent for Medicaid providers. He also demands the elimination of a subsidized health care plan that covers 7,200 adults.

Nebraska Republican Governor Dave Heineman is demanding a freeze in both government worker pay and in funding for public education. He would roll back Medicaid by reducing pay rates to providers by 5 percent, jacking up co-payments, and instituting a punitive system that would “bar welfare recipients who do not meet certain work requirements from receiving Medicaid.”

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie would drastically increase state worker contributions for retirement and health. State workers would have to pay for 30 percent of their health insurance, around $4,500 per worker (instead of the 1.5 percent salary they currently pay), and retirement contributions could double. He is demanding an increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65, and would end cost of living increases for all retirees, current and future. He also calls for cutting Medicaid funding by $300 million.

Radio interview with Rick Rozoff

[Rough transcript]
 
NATO’s potential involvement in Libya has spurred more speculation on NATO’s ongoing enlargement. In this program we are discussing the issue with Rick Rozoff, US journalist covering NATO enlargement and analyst with Canada’s Center for Research on Globalization (CRG).
 
Last Friday NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of NATO’s main decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council. The Council met in Brussels to discuss how it should react to what is going on in Libya.
 
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who chaired the meeting, said the alliance did not intend to intervene in Libya, that it has received no requests to do that, and that such an action would require a U.N. mandate.
 
That’s right, but however, earlier on Friday Anders Fogh Rasmussen attended a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Budapest, Hungary, and was quoted as saying: “What’s happening in Libya is of great concern to us. This crisis in our immediate neighborhood affects Libyan civilians and many people from NATO allies. Clearly this is a massive challenge.”
 
Besides, before the North Atlantic Council meeting began Friday afternoon, Spain said it will propose that NATO deploy radar-equipped surveillance aircraft off Libya’s coast to monitor the situation.
 
The Spanish Defense Minister told reporters that Spain was going to suggest that NATO deploy its ships off the North African country’s coast.
 
But NATO already has a naval force in the Mediterranean Sea, this force is known as Active Endeavor, it monitors shipping to protect it from terrorist activity.
 
Besides, Africa Review has recently run a story saying that the 53-nation African Union is preparing to sign a military partnership treaty with 28-nation strong NATO.
 
After the referendum in Sudan the African Union will get another member which makes it 54-nation strong.
 
Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania and Tunisia are already members of the NATO partnership program called the Mediterranean dialogue.
 
That makes one wonder if  NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, really looks to become global.

 
This is the question we addressed to Rick Rozoff, US journalist covering NATO enlargement and analyst with the Canada’s Center for Research on Globalization:
 
There is talk currently about military intervention in Libya which can take a number of forms. I think it is important to recall that the chief military commander of European Command is also the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. So currently, for example, US Admiral James Stavridis occupies both posts. But until Africa Command became an independent Command, the first new overseas US military command since the end of the Cold war, I believe the launching of Africa Command is a signal. It is also worth mentioning that recently the population of Africa was estimated to exceed 1 billion people, which makes it the second most populated in the world next to Asia.
 
My point was that the US European command launched Africa, it was very much in conjunction with NATO, including the fact that the European command and the NATO are run by the same person, so there is an organic connection between these two organizations. NATO became involved openly in Africa, in 2006. The African stand-by force is based on NATO’s response, and of course we had NATO first operation in Africa in 2005, when NATO airlifted over 30,000 African Union peacekeepers in the West of Sudan.

We know NATO actively involved in airlifting and sea lifting both troops and suppliers in Somalia.
 
Starting last March, NATO airlifted several thousand Ugandan troops both in and out of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Until now NATO has conducted two operations, currently the name is “Ocean shield” operation, which has been extended till the end of next year. So we are seeing the extension of NATO from its Cold War traditional boundaries, between 1999 and 2009 we saw NATO’s expansion to include the countries of Eastern Europe.
 
There is also one major European country, excluding microstates like Vatican and Monaco, there is only one nation in Europe that is not either a member of NATO or engaged in a partnership program with NATO, and that is Cyprus. Its parliament avoided to bring the country into the NATO partnership for Peace program. Every single nation is either a member of NATO or engaged in a transition program in some sort. So it seems now that NATO is moving onto the next continent.
 
But such extension makes them less operational?
 
Currently there are 152 000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, a much larger figure than during the Soviet intervention. 140 000 are under the NATO’s International assistance force command, so you have a NATO army of 140 000 troops from 50 nations. When people are talking about NATO’s overextending itself, you know, it’s the world’s only military bloc, it’s one that increases its membership by 75% in 10 years, that has conducted operations on 4 continents, that has partners or members on 4 continents, five actually with Africa. And it is talking now about the signing of a partnership program or agreement treaty with 53, soon there will be 54 members of the African Union, that is a pretty substantial development.
 
A large number of members still do not facilitate decision-making?
 
Yes, that’s true. For example, Macedonia was not welcomed as a full NATO member 2 years ago because of the main dispute with Greece. However if we need to recall the invasion into Iraq in 2003, there is now more unity than there has ever been; nevertheless the NATO was unanimous, France being absent at that time, even Belgium and Luxembourg and Germany, three countries that supposedly opposed the war being present. Every single NATO member has troops in Afghanistan, every new NATO member and every NATO candidate (there is a partnership for Peace members) had troops in Iraq, it’s something like 33 nations.
 
The NATO training mission in Iraq has graduated hundreds if not thousands of officers, soldiers. It is worth looking at the NATO websites to see what they managed to do in Afghanistan. It is the longest continuous operation in history of the United States, and this is the longest operation in history of Afghanistan. I believe a few days ago it was the anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. Afghanistan has not had foreign troops for as long as it currently has.
 
All the main nations remain involved, so do the Partnership for Peace nations: Armenia, Azerbajdjan, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Kazakhstan. It’s a part of global NATO expansion in the Asian-Pacific region, but they don’t have military partnerships under the country category with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. At the end of the day, if NATO or the United States were to pick up and leave Afghanistan tomorrow – highly unlikely – I think it is worth recalling about the US and Great Britain’s initial invasion in Afghanistan in October 2001. Over 50 000 US-NATO troops are transited in and out to Afghanistan through a base in Kyrgyzstan every month, which is an impressive figure. I think I have underestimated it, the figure should be larger than that. The personnel is still German.
 
Local reports from the Pentagon confirm that the US is going to deploy a military base in Pakistan. So you have a US-NATO military infrastructure in South-Asia that is really built for a long time. So you remember the recent comment by Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai stating that US is seeking permanent military bases in Afghanistan, and I would suspect these are going to be built into strategic airbases, near the Iranian border. They may follow the Iraqi model, at some point they may draw down the US-NATO troops in Afghanistan, but what’s going to remain? The Afghan army is trained by NATO trainers in Afghanistan, the Afghan officers are trained in NATO bases in Europe, so there is some discussion about NATO’s potential role in intervening in the ongoing and expanding crisis in North Africa.
 
Very important is Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that there should be unanimous response of the entire alliance. The activation of this article accounts for 52 000 troops in Afghanistan. After the September 2001 attacks in the United States NATO invoked Article 5. There are actually 8 components to this commitment, Afghanistan is one of them.
 
An operation called “Active Endeavour” in the Mediterranean Sea was launched by NATO which continues. It is a maritime surveillance also, and it may come into play right now with developments in Libya. The General-Secretary talked about NATO becoming an international security guarantor, there is a meeting on a new strategic concept adopted in London in October or September 2009, which laid out 70 different distinctly non-military pretexts to which NATO would respond, everything from energy security to climate change, to demographic transformation etc.
 
So you have a self-appointed US dominated global military bloc now that states that it has the right to address and maybe to intervene with military forces for about 70 different reasons, none of which has anything to do with the military threat to NATO as a whole or any of its members individually. And there is no question who is the dominate partner of the alliance is – it is the United States. That’s why every single supreme commander in Europe is American. The United States doesn’t trust it to the Europeans. Serbia is developing an individual partnership plan with NATO.
 
The fact is that 20-30 years ago in Europe there were movements about nuclear disarmament, hundreds and thousands in Europe took to the streets, the US still has many tactical nuclear weapons in Europe in NATO bases, but nobody says a word! Swedish and Finnish troops are in charge of 5 provinces in Northern Afghanistan for NATO international security assistance force, and the other day another Finnish soldier was killed, so you have Finland which was not engaged in operations since World War II, its troops killing and dying in Afghanistan under NATO command; you have Sweden which has not been in war for 200 years, with troops being killed, and killing Afghans and in return. I have a feeling that 20 or 30 years ago in the Cold War period surely, there would have been much more protests and opposition in Europe and in the North America than now. There seems to be the acceptance of the fact that the United States dominating the military bloc has the right to intervene worldwide for as long as it chooses and it is not accountable to anybody, and it is very frightening.
 
But then let’s imagine that the NATO is covering the whole of the globe – what’s next?

That’s a very interesting question! Condoleezza Rice in 2005 explained on what in January 2003 George W. Bush referred to be as the “axis of evil”, at that time being Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Iraq was taken off the list because we invaded it, and it was no longer a threat. The countries she referred to were: Belarus, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Burma. Iran – of course, Belarus – they needed to find some villain in Europe since they overthrew President Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia in 2000, and it is one of the key points. Zimbabwe stands for Africa, Cuba for both Americas. There was also discussion about NATO desire to build partnership with India and China, and of course we know that last November the NATO-Russia Council was revived and reactivated at the Lisbon Summit. I would say that the only part of the world so far comparatively untouched is Central America.
 
There has been talk of the last few years that the internal security forces from Columbia have been operating in Afghanistan. But there were reports that the Columbian soldiers were going to be deployed to Afghanistan not under the US operation but under the NATO International security assistance force. There is a small contingent of military personnel from Egypt already operating in Afghanistan, which means that there are troops in Afghanistan serving under NATO from all 6 inhabited continents. I would suggest the North Atlantic Treaty Organization look at the revision of its name. The 12 new members that have joined since 1999 do not border the Atlantic Ocean. So now the majority of the members now unlike the majority of the members in 1949 when the bloc was formed with 12 members, are not at the Atlantic Ocean. What we see is the expansion. And there is interest toward the Arctic Ocean. There was a meeting in February 2009 in Iceland, when the then Secretary-General of NATO recommended transformation, and major NATO leaders got together and talked about the strategy.
 
Thank you very much!
 
So to sum up what we’ve been discussing in this program, it really looks like NATO is bound to become a global security organization present in all six continents of our planet.

However, the question is who will be its potential enemy in that case? And what will a global NATO do if a war sparks off between its members?

Ironic, in the middle of a revolutionary upsurge in the Middle East, that an unholy alliance of security experts, politicos, EU personnel, ambassadors, and house babblers is once more bruiting the shop-soiled commodity of ‘humanitarian intervention’. Forget the recent embarrassment over the loss of Tunisia, and Egypt, and the sweats over uprisings in Bahrain and Yemen. It’s all about Libya. And having spent the last few years arming Qadhafi, selling him to international audiences as a former madman who has seen the light, the US and EU are now simulating mortal affront over the use to which Qadhafi is putting those weapons. Having waited and watched, and made initially very equivocal statements, they’ve determined that Qadhafi’s regime is finished just in time to avoid any faux pas, such as Joe Biden or Tony Blair bigging up the man’s courage or denying his dictatorial proclivities. More, they’re ready to fight on the side of the Libyan revolution. Neocons are once more clamouring for the breach. Anne Marie Slaughter, the ‘Wilsonian’ former head of State Department policy planning, is also tweeting for the intervention. David Cameron is raising alarm over the prospect of chemical weapons being used as justification for imposing a ‘no fly zone’.

That this should be so amid a revolution that is actually on the verge of deposing Qadhafi, possibly not the last of recently US backed dictators to crumble in the Middle East is interesting. For anyone following the news, Qadhafi is hanging on in a few enclaves of Libya, he’s lost most of the police and army and the ‘tribes’ that backed him, and the revolutionaries are advancing on his last strongholds even as I write. The regime can’t re-take lost towns, which means it is militarily and politically finished. The massacres that Qadhafi’s thugs have perpetrated in defence of the regime are very real, and very grisly, and I can’t have much respect for the argument from some that Qadhafi’s regime was historically progressive and thus worth defending. But these massacres aren’t going to stop the regime from falling. Now, the ideology of ‘humanitarian intervention’ is among other things a form of racist paternalism. It maintains, through its affirmations and exclusions, that people in the Third World cannot deliver themselves from dictatorship without the assistance of imperialist Euro-American states. Even if they do, the ideology in its present permutation maintains, they won’t be able to maintain a decent society by themselves. In fact, there’s a palpable fear of the Arab sans-cullotes among Euro-American elites – even the express motives for ‘humanitarian intervention’ are not entirely altruistic. Bernard Lewis, Niall Ferguson, those ambassadors security experts, all seem to worry about what will happen in the ‘vacuum’ (which, significantly, depicts Libyan people, the revolutionaries who are bravely undertaking this historic struggle, as a mere absence). Are Arabs ready for democracy? Will the ‘disorder’ allow ‘al-Qaeda’ to ‘reappear’? What will happen to oil prices? And this seems to be the point. It is precisely because they know that Qadhafi will not survive, and are desperately worried about what sort of independent political forces may follow (it has nothing to do with ‘al-Qaeda’), that they are anxious to ‘help’.

What I think is happening here is that the US, its EU allies, and its assorted experts, intellectuals and lackeys, have been looking desperately for a way to insinuate the US directly into that revolutionary turmoil, to justify the projection of military hardware in a situation where American interests are decidedly counter-revolutionary. The attempt to envelop this complex field of social and political struggles in the dilapidated ideological frame of ‘humanitarian intervention’ provides just the entry point that the US and its allies have been looking for. The call for ‘humanitarian intervention’ has nothing to do with rescuing Libyans, who are proving quite capable of rescuing themselves. It is the tip of a counter-revolutionary wedge.

Imperialist Hands Off Libya!

March 2nd, 2011 by Patrick Martin

The United States and the European powers are moving towards direct military intervention in Libya. They are seeking to exploit a legitimate popular uprising against the 41-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi, preempt any possibility of a more radical regime emerging, and install a colonial-style puppet in place of the discredited dictatorship.

The pace of the shift in American policy, in particular, is extraordinary. Washington has moved from relative silence on the movement against Gaddafi to leading the charge for outside intervention.

As in every US operation in the region, the driving forces are twofold: a grab for the resources of one of the major oil-producing countries and the pursuit of the broader strategic interests of American imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa. Imperialist military forces on the ground in Libya would be in a position to influence the future course of events in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, all now in turmoil, as well as across the Sahara in Sudan, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

No one—least of all the Libyan people themselves—should believe the claims of humanitarian concern put forward to justify the entry of American, British, French, German, Italian and other military forces. The same powers stood by when the Tunisian and Egyptian dictators, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, massacred demonstrators seeking jobs, democratic rights and an end to the plundering carried out by a corrupt ruling elite. They offered political, diplomatic and in some cases direct security assistance in an effort to prop up these stooge regimes.

During the same two weeks that Gaddafi’s security forces have shot down opposition demonstrators, similar crimes have been committed by US allies in Oman and Bahrain and by the US client regime in Iraq without any public rebuke by Washington, let alone the organization of an international campaign for military intervention.

A full-scale propaganda blitz is under way, modeled on the campaigns that paved the way for US and NATO intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, highlighting atrocities committed by the Gaddafi regime as an argument that a joint intervention by the imperialist powers is needed to “save” the Libyan people. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set the tone Monday, denouncing Gaddafi’s use of “thugs” and “mercenaries” and declaring, “Nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyans.” British Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in, telling the House of Commons, “We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets” in Libya.

Taking its cue from Washington, London and other imperialist capitals, the international media has focused enormous attention on the alleged use of air power by Gaddafi’s forces against rebels in eastern Libya and around Tripoli, the capital city. The attacks actually documented have been limited to a handful, since many of Gaddafi’s pilots have defected.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd emerged from a meeting with Clinton to declare that a no-fly zone should be imposed immediately. “Guernica is known throughout the world for the bombing of the civilian population,” he declared, referring to the massacre carried out by Nazi warplanes during the Spanish Civil War. “We have seen evidence of that in Libya. Let us not simply stand idly by while similar atrocities are committed again.” Far from standing idly by, Australia has been a full partner in American wars of aggression in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which have produced far greater atrocities.

The US-European posture of humanitarian outrage has no credibility. Until two weeks ago, these powers were paying court to Gaddafi to obtain lucrative contracts for the exploitation of the oil and gas resources of Libya. A parade of Western suitors—Condoleezza Rice, Britain’s Tony Blair, Chirac of France, Berlusconi of Italy, Zapatero of Spain—followed the smell of oil to Tripoli. They paid no heed then to Gaddafi’s police state and the screams emanating from his torture chambers.

The United States made a major political and financial investment in the cultivation of friendly relations with Gaddafi, regarding his sudden rapprochement with Washington and US foreign policy after 2003 as a major strategic gain. Hillary Clinton recently feted one of Gaddafi’s sons in Washington and appointed the founding chairman of the US-Libya Business Association to be the State Department’s coordinator for international energy affairs.

Gaddafi’s son visited the United States in 2009. Secretary of State Clinton ensured he was made suitably welcome.

If these powers are now lining up to return to Libya as the supposed patrons of the opposition forces that have seized control of much of the country, they are being driven by the very same appetites for profit and plunder. And despite their professions of support for Gaddafi’s overthrow, the entry of military forces of the United States and the former European colonial powers is no favor to those genuinely fighting to overthrow the dictatorship.

Foreign intervention will inflame popular hostility. Many of those engaged in the uprising in Benghazi have already declared their vehement opposition to the entry of US and European troops. It is the only thing that could allow Gaddafi to resume his bogus posture as an anti-imperialist and give his regime a new lease on life.

Equally cynical are the claims of concern over the fate of the hundreds of thousands who have been fleeing Libya since fighting broke out February 17 in Benghazi. The official spokesmen for the various imperialist powers claim that their own nationals, many of them technicians and other oil company functionaries, are in danger and must be rescued. At the same time, those countries with a Mediterranean coastline—Italy, France and Spain—have warned of a flood of refugees from the escalating civil war. Both problems, of course, have the same “solution”—military intervention, both within Libya and along its coastline.

The anti-Libya campaign is in the literal sense of the word an exercise in plunder. The first major action has been the effective seizure of $30 billion in Libyan assets held in US financial institutions, and billions more in European accounts, after the passage of a sanctions resolution by the UN Security Council. While dubbed an asset “freeze,” it is in reality the confiscation of resources that belong to the people of Libya.

So flagrant is the theft that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a business conference in Germany, felt compelled to object. “Mistakes made by governments should not be paid by people,” he said. “We think discussions about an intervention in Libya or sanctions are worrisome considering the people of Libya and foreigners in this country.” He said that the outside powers should act on Libya “from a humanitarian perspective and not out of considerations for their oil interests.”

The momentum toward military intervention is accelerating. The Berlusconi government in Italy—the former colonial power in Libya and the biggest customer for its oil—officially repudiated its non-aggression pact with the Gaddafi regime Sunday. This is the necessary legal preparation both for Italian military action inside Libya and the unleashing of US warplanes at Aviano and other NATO air bases in Italy.

The Obama administration confirmed Monday that it has begun to redeploy naval assets into the Mediterranean Sea, bringing them within range of Libya. The Pentagon was caught off guard by the rapid spread of unrest into Libya, having dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea on February 15 in a show of force four days after the overthrow of Egyptian President Mubarak. The carrier battle group continued into the Arabian Sea, “showing the flag” in support of beleaguered pro-US dictator Saleh in Yemen and the Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms.

A Pentagon spokesman announced Monday, “We have planners working and various contingency plans and… as part of that we’re repositioning forces to be able to provide for that flexibility once decisions are made.” The Enterprise and a smaller helicopter carrier, the USS Kearsage, have now moved back into the Red Sea, in position either to re-transit the Suez Canal or launch air strikes against Libyan targets. The operations under discussion range from “rescue” efforts like those already mounted by British and German commandos, to a no-fly zone, to the outright landing of the Marines.

An additional US concern is the role of China, which is mounting its first-ever military operation in the Mediterranean Sea. Beijing has dispatched the naval frigate Xuzhou from anti-piracy patrol off Somalia through the Suez Canal to the Libyan coast to assist in the evacuation of the 30,000 Chinese citizens, mostly construction workers, trapped by the fighting.

There is an element of desperation and extreme recklessness in the anti-Libyan campaign. It has erupted only a few days after US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a speech to a military audience declared, “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Gates was voicing the pessimism produced by the intractable opposition of the Afghan population to long-term US military occupation, as well as the concerns of the military brass over the deteriorating condition of an all-volunteer force after ten years of constant overseas deployments.

Despite such trepidations, however, there is a logic to imperialism and the Obama administration is driven by it. The ultimate goal of US and European intervention would be to fill the “political vacuum” in Libya, as the New York Times termed it Sunday, by turning the country into a protectorate of the imperialist powers.

A US expert on Libya, writing in Newsweek magazine Sunday, directly compared an intervention in Libya to the long-term US role in the Balkans. The political situation in Libya, he wrote, “suggests the Balkans rather than neighboring Egypt or Tunisia as likely precursors for state building in Libya. And as with the Balkans, the international community could have a large and positive role to play by providing expertise and, temporarily, security forces.”

In other words, Libya is to be turned into a semi-colony, ruled by the United States and its fellow predators from Western Europe, who will seize control of the oil reserves and transform the country’s territory into a strategic base of operations against the mass uprisings now sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

A recent Council of Europe report says that during and after the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, militia leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) tortured and killed hundreds of Serbs and political rivals in secret Albanian hideouts, removed their organs for sale and dumped their bodies in local rivers.

The report added that these people were also heavily involved in drug, sex and illegal immigrant trafficking across Europe. Yet while all this was going on, the NATO powers had decreed that Serbia should be bombed into accepting the KLA as Kosovo’s legitimate rulers — rather than the more popular Democratic League of Kosovo headed by the nationalist intellectual Ibrahim Rugova advocating nonviolent independence.

Recent years have not been kind to Western policymakers. They have shown an almost unerring ability to choose the wrong people for the wrong policies. Think back to the procession of incompetents chosen to rescue Indochina from the communist enemy. Does anyone even remember their names today? Yet at the time they were supposed to be nation-savers.

Before that the United Kingdom, United States and Australia had banded to try to prevent Lee Kuan Yew from being elected prime minister of Singapore. He was seen as a crypto-communist. They preferred the incompetent pro-British Lim Yew Hock.

Then we saw the West, and Japan, throw their support behind the hapless Afghan President Hamid Karzai as the strongman to defeat the evil Taliban whom the U.S. had once embraced as the good Taliban.

If not for the end of the Cold War, we almost certainly would be seeing the U.S. and U.K. today once again backing Middle East dictators against their protesting masses.

And now we discover that the people chosen to take over Kosovo from Serbia were not quite the heroes they were made out to be at the time.

Western involvement in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia had more than its share of such mistakes. The Serbian forces resisting the breakup were accused of war crimes and ethnic cleansing. But anyone aware of that nation’s troubled history should have realized that the Serbian minorities in Croatia and Bosnia would not accept domination by the successors to their former pro-Nazi oppressors.

Retaliations and violent resistance, including even the shocking Srebrenica killings, were inevitable. Besides, the final result was that close to a million Serbs had to seek refuge in Serbia itself. So who had been cleansing whom?
Kosovo too had seen wartime ethnic cleansing against Serbs by pro-Nazi elements. The cleansing continued during the 1990s as U.S.-trained KLA guerrillas targeted Serbs isolated in rural districts and towns (by then Belgrade’s efforts to give the province autonomy had failed on the rock of ethnic Albanian noncooperation).

When Belgrade finally sent in troops to resist the guerrillas, it was accused of war crimes even though the illegitimate force used was much less than what we see when most other Western nations, the U.S. particularly, intervene against guerrillas they do not like.

When many ethnic Albanians fled temporarily after the NATO bombing intervention, that too was supposed to be Serbian ethnic cleansing.

Even after gaining power, the KLA violence and cleansings continued. Their victims included the Jewish and Roma minorities and ethnic Albanians who had cooperated with Serbia’s attempt to offer autonomy. The trafficking of drugs, women and body organs continued, right under the noses of the U.N. forces sent in to maintain order. Rugova supporters were eliminated.

The U.S., U.K. and Germany bear most of the blame for this horror; Germany especially should have realized the passions that would be unleashed by any sudden breakup of the former Yugoslavia. But they seemed more interested in the geopolitical gains.

In exchange for helping the KLA, the U.S. got to add the strategic Bondsteel military base in Kosovo to its global base network. And the feisty U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright got to play world leader at the 1999 Rambouillet conference by decreeing that the dashing, handsome KLA leader Hashim Thaci was far preferable to the elderly, unpretentious Rugova as Kosovo’s future leader, and that Serbia should be bombed if it did not agree. Belgrade’s agreement to Rugova as leader of an independent Kosovo was dismissed as irrelevant.

One wonders how the Serbs saw this performance. Two generations earlier, they had been the only European nation with the courage to resist Nazi attack. They had been bombed and massacred as a result. Now they were to suffer again at the hands of the NATO-supporting European nations, most of whom had spinelessly succumbed to, or had even collaborated with, that former Nazi enemy.

True, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has now resolved that it is “extremely concerned” over the recent KLA revelations. But is that not rather too late?

And will we see apologies from the people behind the past policies, particularly from the likes of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair who still boasts that his firm resolve against Serbian “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo led him to support the U.S. in Iraq? I doubt it.

Gregory Clark is a former Australian diplomat and longtime resident of Japan. A Japanese translation of this article will appear on www.gregoryclark.net

Exit strategy per Gheddafi

March 2nd, 2011 by Maurizio Matteuzzi

TRIPOLI

«No massacres, no bombing, no violence» contro i civili. Con queste parole ha cominciato ieri mattina il suo quotidiano briefing per la stampa straniera (che ora sta giungendo a frotte, giornalisti e media Usa in testa, guidati dalla superstar della Cnn Christiane Amanpour), il portavoce del governo Moussa Ibrahim. Per lui il tentativo di «regime change stile Iraq» è pilotato dalle «potenze imperialiste occidentali», che vogliono «il petrolio», e dagli islamisti, che vogliono fare della Libia «una Somalia mediterranea o un Afghanistan»; l’ «occidente» e «al Qaeda» hanno sequestrato «le legittime e pacifiche proteste» in favore delle riforme per seminare «il caos» in Libia e provocare già «centinaia» di morti, «ma da entrambe le parti». Quanto alla risoluzione punitiva numero 1970 approvata dal Consiglio di sicurezza, per il portavoce è inconcepibile che si sia basata esclusivamente su «media reports», impegnati – speriamo che questo sia ormai chiaro a tutti, anche ai detrattori più incondizionati di Gheddafi – in un’opera di disinformazione paragonabile solo a quella, per fermarci alla più recente, sulle «armi di distruzione di massa» di Saddam (scommettiamo che se il Colonnello non cade subito, ci sarà qualcuno che le trova anche in Libia?). Vissuta – o almeno vista – da Tripoli l’evolversi della crisi libica dà come un senso di vertigine. Dalla qui ti vogliono dare – e in certa misura si ha – l’impressione che la vita quotidiana sia «normale» (e almeno di giorno lo è); che Gheddafi sia in «controllo» quasi completo non solo di Tripoli ma del paese (solo la Cirenaica è perduta, le altre sono solo «pockets», sacche di resistenza, ha detto il portavoce); che ci «si avvia rapidamente al ritorno «della calma e della pace» (parole di Saif al-Islam, il figlio «riformatore» del Colonnello); che se calma e pace non sono ancora tornate è perché il leader «ha dato ordini tassativi di non sparare sulla folla» (anche se ha chiamato «ratti da sterminare» i rivoltosi); che comunque si cerca una via d’uscita negoziata e che lui – Saif – ha già avviato un dialogo con i ribelli; che se però cercano «la guerra civile» l’avranno; che la protesta e la rivolta sono opera di pochi «giovani drogati» e manovrate, oltre che dall’occidente, da «al Qaeda» e da quei fondamentalisti islamici che il Colonnello ha sempre trattato con le spicce meritandosi elogi e riconoscimenti dagli stessi leader democratici che ora lo condannano e vogliono mandarlo davanti alla Corte penale internazionale (che ci vada ma dopo gentlemen quali i Bush e i Blair, i Cheney e i Rumsfeld).

Da fuori, il mondo esterno, lo scenario per noi che siamo qui embedded e che leggiamo le notizie libiche sulle agenzie internazionali e i giornali italiani, è pazzescamente opposto. Gheddafi ha le ore contate; sulle città della Libia – eccetto Tripoli e la sua natia Sirte – sventola la bandiera inalberata dai rivoltosi, quella nera-rossa-verde che era della monarchia senussita rovesciata nel ’69 da Gheddafi (senza che susciti alcun interrogativo il fatto che re Idriss era un burattino degli inglesi); i morti per mano dei militari, delle milizie e dei «mercenari africani» non si contano e aumentano o diminuiscono a seconda dei giorni: 300, mille, diecimila, duemila…; anche Tripoli è ormai perduta e Gheddafi controlla ormai solo l’area della città intorno alla sua residenza nel compound militare di Bab al-Azizia; un generale passato con i ribelli, Ahmed Gatrani, secondo quanto scrive il Washington Post, ha messo in piedi un esercito a Bengasi ed è già alle porte di Tripoli (lontana più di mille km dalla capitale della Cirenaica) su cui ha sferrato un primo attacco venerdì scorso, per il momento respinto dai governativi (e di cui i giornalisti qui presenti non hanno avuto il minimo sentore e visto il minimo segno).

Schizofrenia allo stato puro. Possibile? Possibile in una situazione schizofrenica com’è quella che si vive stando qui a Tripoli. L’impressione comunque è che Gheddafi abbia perso la partita e che il cerchio intorno a lui si sia già chiuso a livello politico-diplomatico-mediatico mondiale e si stia chiudendo anche in Libia. Questione di tempi e di modi.

Se davvero vorranno spingersi a quella «guerra civile» minacciata dal Colonnello e anche dal suo figlio «dialogante», forse ci vorrà più tempo e di certo più morti. Se si andrà a una specie di exit strategy in qualche misura negoziata la soluzione potrebbe essere più rapida e meno sanguinosa.

Il problema in Libia è che, al contrario di Tunisia e Egitto, le forze armate non sono un fattore abbastanza forte (almeno finora) per porsi come ago della bilancia. Un altro problema è che, ancora al contrario di Tunisia e Egitto, qui mancano anche altri fattori potenzialmente decisivi per la risoluzione della partita, come ad esempio un sindacato e dei partiti, e invece, come in Yemen e in Iraq, è presente una storica struttura clanica-tribale con cui fare i conti.

Anche la rivolta, finora, non dava segni di potersi costituire in istanza politica al di là dell’obiettivo immediato della cacciata di Gheddafi e se non si vuol dare credito a quello che il Colonnello grida fin dall’inizio: che i ribelli in realtà sono mossi dalla lunga mano «di al Qaeda» o quantomeno, qui in Libia, dagli ulema fondamentalisti e dai loro fedeli che all’uscita delle moschee gridano contro «Gheddafi nemico di Dio».

Domenica l’ex-ministro della giustizia Mustafa Abdeljalil, passato dalla parte «del popolo», ha presentato a Bengasi un «Consiglio nazionale» composto da civili rappresentanti della città «liberate» e da militari che hanno defezionato. L’obiettivo dichiarato è di andare a «libere elezioni» entro tre mesi (periodo troppo corto per essere davvero libere e rappresentative). Il portavoce del Consiglio nazionale si è affrettato a smentire che si tratti di un «governo provvisorio», «ad interim» o «di transizione», forse per stoppare sul nascere le ambizioni di Abdeljalil. Che però annuncia di aver già intavolato trattative con «gli anziani delle tribù» e dichiara al giornale Quryna – il quotidiano semindipendente di Saif al-Islam: un altro paradosso o un segnale? – che «non ci sarà nessuna resa dei conti» indiscriminata.

Anche Saif al-Islam dice di aver già avviato negoziati con il clan e le tribù, molti dei quali si sono uniti alla rivolta contro il Colonnello. E di avere offerto «all’opposizione» il dialogo, offerta respinta però dal Consiglio nazionale. La situazione libica è, come dice un diplomatico dell’ambasciata italiana, «magmatica». Molto magmatica. Il momento decisivo s’avvicina. E anche se il risultato della partita sembra deciso, prima della fine può ancora succedere di tutto. Nei prossimi giorni o nelle prossime ore.

http://abbonati.ilmanifesto.it/Quotidiano-archivio/01-Marzo-2011/art35.php3

“Free Speech” Scandal in Vancouver

March 2nd, 2011 by Diana Johnstone

I am not alone in being utterly astounded by the fact that Dr. Srdja Trifkovic has been refused entry into Canada.  This amazing decision is all the more scandalous in that it was taken ad hoc in response to the hate campaign by self-declared representatives of one Bosnian ethnic group carrying out a vendetta against another Bosnian ethnic group.  Is this what you mean by “multiculturalism”?

The banning of a peaceful speaker is contrary to the democratic principles which the Western NATO powers, including Canada, constantly preach to the rest of the world.  It would be reprehensible regardless of the circumstances.  However, upon examination, the circumstances aggravate the case.

The hate campaign launched against Dr. Trifkovic by certain groups claiming to represent Bosnian Muslims is based on distortions, lies and glaring sophistries.  I say this as one who by no means shares all of Dr. Trifkovic’s political analyses or religious convictions, but who recognizes that he defends his convictions with an intellectual integrity totally lacking in the attacks against him.

In particular, I tend to consider Dr. Trifkovic’s assessment of an alleged Muslim threat to the West to be misplaced or exaggerated.  However, the treatment that he has received from Canada in response to the complaints of a Muslim lobby provides unexpected support to his argument.

One point on which I do agree with Dr. Trifkovic is precisely the point for which he is most fiercely attacked: Srebrenica.  I wish to point out the ambiguities in the expression “genocide denial” used to characterize Dr. Trifkovic’s position on Srebrenica.

The ambiguity concerns the difference between facts and interpretation of facts.  I must insist that everyone has the right to be wrong about both; Canada has no means to exclude from its territory all the people who are constantly misstating facts and interpreting them erroneously.  But I wish to point to a difference.

On Srebrenica, the facts are partly established, partly disputed, and partly unknown.  This is because material evidence is by no means as clear and comprehensive as the general public has been led to believe.  Independent studies have been hard to carry out, but certain facts can now be considered established.   There were a large number of Muslim casualties following the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica, some of them victims of executions, in violation of international law.  These were massacres that took place in the context of a bloody three-sided civil war in which massacres were committed by all sides.

Description of the massacres that took place in Srebrenica as “genocide” is not fact but interpretation. It hinges on the disputed question of intention. To some observers, including myself, the crime of genocide implies intent to exterminate a population, and cannot be done by sparing women and children. The Serb forces who captured Srebrenica helped women, children and the elderly leave the war zone for safety.  The execution of captured military-age men is more plausibly explained by revenge or by desire to weaken the enemy forces.  This would indeed be a war crime, but not “genocide”.

The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, largely financed and staffed by the NATO countries which took the Muslim side in the Bosnian civil wars, found a way to describe Srebrenica as “genocide” by redefining the term.  The three-judge panel accepted a sociologist’s theory that by killing all the men, the Serbs meant to commit a localized “genocide”, since in that “patriarchal” society, the women would not come back without their men. This is not what most people understand by the term “genocide”.  The ICTY verdict has subtly deceived the general public, while providing a justification of NATO intervention in former Yugoslavia against the Serbs, stigmatized as responsible for “genocide”.

This stigmatization of Serbs as “genocidal” (which incidentally can be seen as amounting to incitement to racial hatred) is a major obstacle to genuine peace and reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, over fifteen years after the war was ended.  It is deplorable that the Canadian government acts in a way that can only exacerbate dangerous tensions.

The “Bosniak” lobby takes advantage of widespread ignorance and confusion in NATO countries concerning the wars of Yugoslav disintegration to pursue a hidden political agenda under cover of “respect for victims of genocide”.  In reality, their activism can do nothing for the men who died. Rather, it is intended to delegitimatize the Serbian entity, Republika Srpska, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, recognized by the US-sponsored 1995 Dayton Accords that ended the war.  The purpose is to revise the accords in order to abolish Republika Srpska and create a centralized Bosnia-Herzegovina that would be under full control of the Muslim party, since Muslims are assumed to enjoy a narrow demographic majority.  Since the Orthodox Christian Serbs of Bosnia remember their past as second-class citizens in the officially Muslim Ottoman Empire, they fear, rightly or wrongly, being returned to inferior status in a Muslim-ruled Bosnia.

Not being a Serb and not having shared that experience, I may find that fear exaggerated.  But it is deeply hypocritical for the West to demand that Serbs must be the only Westerners to welcome Muslim rule over their own historic territory.

As workers all over the U.S. become inspired by the massive demonstrations in Wisconsin, a dangerous idea is being voiced by some working-class allies that could unravel it all. The threat lies in the following argument: to protect the bargaining rights of unions, state and city workers must be prepared to make concessions over wages, benefits, etc. This line of reasoning is not only false to the core, it’s suicidal.  

Take for example a recent New York Times article on the battle in Wisconsin:

“It is not yet clear whether Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin will succeed in his quest to strip public employee unions of most of their bargaining rights. But by simply pressing the issue, he has already won major concessions that would have been unthinkable just a month ago.” 

This is extraordinary: The Governor makes a radically anti-union threat, and some union leaders are ready to give him EVERYTHING, just not the kitchen sink.  

 

The article continues:  

“Some of Wisconsin’s major public sector unions, faced with what they see as a threat to their existence, have decided to accept concessions that they had been vigorously fighting…translating into a pay cut of around 7 percent…But Mr. Walker is not settling for that. He said that those concessions were “an interesting development, because a week ago they said that’s not acceptable.” (February 28, 2011).  

So the anti-union Governor is making the unacceptable acceptable, merely by voicing a threat. If this precedent were established, what future do unions have? Especially when one considers that state budget deficits are projected to continue for years.  

Imagine the following scenario: A war is declared by a foreign army and the defending General responds by announcing to the invaders, “I will only fight one battle to preserve this particular parcel of land (bargaining rights), and will wave the white flag over all other territory (wages, benefits, etc.).   

Of course the foreign army would conclude “the enemy is already defeated!” And fight without mercy for total victory.  

This is the situation in Wisconsin and other states. War has been declared on unions and some labor leaders are pretending that they can offer concessions to appease their attackers.   Unfortunately, this strategy has failed for years, and is in fact why the right wing felt confident enough to officially declare war. 

Every time unions agree to lower wages and benefits — as they have been doing for years — they weaken themselves internally, thus opening the way for further, deeper attacks. The right-wing attack on bargaining rights did not appear from nowhere; it was the result of years of concessionary bargaining, which inevitably leads to worker demoralization within the union.  An army which concedes every battle will be composed of demoralized soldiers. 

The union policy of concessionary bargaining is the policy of committing slow suicide, and after years of providing their executioners with nooses, some labor leaders act stunned when their hanging is announced. They believed that they could befriend the hangman, as long as they didn’t create too much trouble by aggressive protesting or well-planned strikes.    

But hangmen are hangmen, and they must be treated accordingly.   

Labor unions must mobilize the entire community in every state to demand “No Concessions” for all public workers. The fight to save collective bargaining can only be won if workers believe that collective bargaining will save their wages and benefits; the two cannot be separated.  

Contrary to what the mainstream media and politicians constantly tells us, the general public would support such a fight. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found that  “Those surveyed said they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits.” (March 1, 2011).  

The battle in Wisconsin proves that private-sector workers do not hate their public-sector brothers and sisters, they passionately support them.  

How can labor unions mobilize the general public towards a pro-worker solution to the state budget deficits? By exposing another media lie: that Americans are against ALL tax increases. In fact, the same pollsters discovered in 2009 that 74 percent of respondents “support higher taxes on the rich.” (April 6, 2009).  

Labor unions must place this demand at the head of their campaign to save collective bargaining rights and workers wages and benefits. Workers will be further encouraged to fight for their wages and benefits when they see that there is a solution to the budget crisis.  

Rose Ann DeMoro of National Nurses United agrees: 

“So it’s time for all of us to say it loud: No More Cuts in Public Sector Pay, Pensions, or Health Benefits; Balance Budgets By Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes, Restoring Fair Share Taxes on Corporations and Wealthy Individuals; Guarantee Retirement Security and Healthcare for All.” 

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

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/us/28unions.html?hpw

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/us/01poll.html?_r=1&hp

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503983_162-4923732-503983.html

We are facing soon another illegal war, an invasion to dismantle yet another country in “Western” i.e. U.S. interests. 

Libya is the target nation this time, and already has “military advisers” from U.S., Britain and France, and perhaps also from Israel, on its soil. (See below). 

Although genuine internal opposition to the regime exists, the Libyan “protesters” we see supported by a Western media frenzy are by and large a military force, now being trained and equipped by foreign powers who are intent on getting hold of Libyan oil to have it “privatized, i.e. to become foreign owned instead as it was nationalized by Gaddafi 40 years ago.

The eastern part of Libya is where the oil fields by and large are, and that eastern part will be yanked out of Libya by separatists working hand-in-hand with foreign powers. Do they already have a name for that new “country”!

It is of essence that we don’t fall for the transparent claptrap that we should be and are supporting “demonstrators” and “protesters”; under no circumstances should we give comfort to those who mouth “Responsibility to Protect” (RTP) while preparing for all-out invasion and occupation of yet another country. No matter how you twist it, RTP is  a blatant imperialist doctrine with a false garb of “humanitarianism.”

What is brewing in Libya is not a “protest” or “demonstration” that has spread across the country, but an attempt to overthrow the government, militarily.

We hear already about “rebel soldiers” and see images of men shaking their  powerful guns, waving flags from the pre-Gaddafi period, which appear out of nowhere, en masse.  The question is who is behind this force and what is its aim? This question is not being addressed in any way in our media and by our political representatives, and any real information and analysis has been replaced by sentimentalizing about “people power.”

It is clear that big powers are in a real rush to attack and dismantle Libya, in the same manner that Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan have been attacked and dismembered. We hear how the eastern part of Libya where the bulk of the oil is from, “wants to separate” (and get the exclusive benefits of the oil, which now belongs to all Libyans, until it, too gets taken over by the western powers who will gladly “privatize” that oil).  The same method is being used: demonize to the hilt, turn the Saddams, Milosevics and Gaddafis into absolute monsters and make up horrendous stories about them and their governments that  never have to be proven true, and excite and mislead western populations to support military interventions in the name of “Responsibility to Protect.” Surely many Canadians will remember the claim that Iraqi soldiers had taken Kuwaiti babies out of their incubators and left them to die, so they could haul their loot back to Iraq. This was the famous incident, acted out in front of the US Congress that provided the impetus for the first invasion of Iraq in 1990. And yet, soon afterwards it was revealed that the woman who had tearfully testified having been an eyewitness to the atrocity, turned out to be a daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in the U.S.  and was acting out a script prepared by the PR firm Hill and Knowlton,  hired by the Kuwaiti government to get Americans to support the invasion of Iraq. (Amnesty International completely fell for this hoax as well.)

“The Responsibility to Protect,” oddly enough, appears only to apply to certain countries: no such thing to protect  the Palestinians when Israel launches a massive military attack on  Gaza and not a finger lifted when the U.S. invades and occupies Iraq and Afghanistan, where several millions of innocent civilians have died and continue to die. Now the UN appears to be willing to facilitate an attack on yet another country, with a guaranteed loss of thousands upon thousands of Libyan lives.

US military advisers in Cyrenaica

The Israeli intelligence website Debka states (25 Feb) that:
 
“Hundreds of US, British and French military advisers have arrived in Cyrenaica, Libya’s eastern breakaway province, debkafile’s military sources report exclusively. This is the first time America and Europe have intervened militarily in any of the popular upheavals rolling through the Middle East since Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution in early January.  The advisers, including intelligence officers, were dropped from warships and missile boats at the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk Thursday Feb. 24, for a threefold mission:

1. To help the revolutionary committees controlling eastern Libyan establish government frameworks for supplying two million inhabitants with basic services and commodities;

2. To organize them into paramilitary units, teach them how to use the weapons they captured from Libyan army facilities, help them restore law and order on the streets and train them to fight Muammar Qaddafi’s combat units coming to retake Cyrenaica.

3. The prepare infrastructure for the intake of additional foreign troops. Egyptian units are among those under consideration.” http://www.debka.com/article/20708/  (this Israeli report remains unverified)

The banners of King Idris Waves

A short piece on Global Research entitled Libya – When historical memory is erased. In the square the banners of King Idris wave, by Manlio Dinucci
gives a brief but oh-so-necessary history lesson that we don’t see even hinted at on our highly complicit media:

“Benghazi captured, the rebels have lowered the green flag of the Republic of Libya, hoisting in its place the red, black and green banner with crescent and star: the flag of the monarchy of King Idris. The same flag was hoisted by protesters (including those of the Partito demcratico and the Rfinadzione comunista) on the gate of the Libyan embassy in Rome, raising the cry: “Here’s the flag of democratic Libya, that of King Idris.” It was a symbolic act, rich in history and burning current events.

The Emir of Cyrenaica

Already the emir of Cyrenaica and Tripoli, Sidi Muhammad Idris al-Mahdi al-Senussi was put on the throne of Libya by the British when the country gained independence in 1951. It had been an Italian colony since 1911. Libya became a federal monarchy, in which King Idris was head of state, with the right to pass it on to his heirs. It was always the king who would appoint the prime minister, the Council of Ministers and half the members of the Senate, which had the right to dissolve the House of Representatives.

According to a twenty-year treaty of “friendship and alliance” with Britain, in 1953, King Idris granted to the British, in exchange for financial and military assistance, the use of air, naval and land bases in Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. A similar agreement was concluded in 1954 with the United States, which obtained the use of the Wheelus Air Base just outside Tripoli. It became the main U.S. air base in the Mediterranean. In addition, the United States and Britain were able to use firing ranges in Libya for their military aviation. With Italy, King Idris in 1956 concluded an agreement which not only wiped Italy clear of all damages to Libya, but allowed the Italian community in Tripoli to maintain its assets practically intact.

Libya became even more important for the U.S. and Britain when, in the late 1950s, the U.S.-based company Esso (ExxonMobil) confirmed the existence of large oil fields and others were discovered soon after. The major companies, such as the U.S.’s Esso and Britain’s British Petroleum, got advantageous concessions that ensured their control and the bulk of the profit from Libya’s oil. The Italian company Eni also obtained two concessions, through Agip. To better control the deposits, the government’s federal form was abolished in 1963, eliminating the historical regions of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan.

The protests of Libyan nationalists, who accused King Idris of selling out the country, were stifled by police repression. The rebellion grew, however, especially in the armed forces. It resulted in a coup – whose chief architect was Captain Muammar Gaddafi – carried out without bloodshed in 1969 by just 50 officers, calling themselves “Free Officers” on the Nasser model.

The monarchy abolished, the Libyan Arab Republic in 1970 forced the U.S. and British forces to evacuate their military bases and, the following year, nationalized the properties held by British Petroleum and forced other companies to pay the Libyan state a much higher share of the profits.


The propaganda of 1911

The flag of King Idris, which is flying again now in the civil war in Libya, is the banner of those who, by manipulating the struggle of those genuinely fighting for democracy against the regime of Gaddafi, plan to bring Libya back under control of the powers that once dominated it. Those forces, headed by the United States, are preparing to land in Libya under the cover of “peacekeeping.” Meanwhile, in concert with the Pentagon, the Italian Defense Minister Ignacio La Russa announced that from Sigonella military base [Sicily] military airplanes will fly directly to Libya for “purely humanitarian purposes.” The same “humanitarian intervention” that the pacifists and those who waved the flag of King Idris are demanding in an “urgent appeal,” but they forget history. They should remember that a century ago, in 1911, the Italian occupation of Libya, prepared by incessant propaganda, was supported by majority public opinion, while in the cabarets they sang, “Tripoli, sing land of love come sweetly where the syrup runs.” Times change and language, but the rhyme remains, “to the roar of guns.”

A SIMPLE ACTION PLAN ANYONE CAN FOLLOW:

1) Question everything that the media says about Libya! The list of systematic disinformation gets longer every day  and the CBC is spearheading this relentless toxic brew in Canada — its news and public affairs programmes need to be vigorously challenged. Most of them have call-back phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Target the programmes that you listen to or watch regularly. Talk up your skepticism!

2) Let our opposition parliamentarians know that you don’t buy into the “Responsibility To Protect” and consider it a dangerous doctrine.
The quickest way to find their contact phone numbers and e-mail addresses is at
http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E
 

3) Strengthen your resistance by reading Jean Bricmont’s powerful and clarifying Humanitarian imperialism: Using human rights to sell war, (what an appropriate title!) available from www.davidorchard.com. Read review in Counterpunch at
http://www.counterpunch.org/sherman06062007.html
 

The United States and its military allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have entered the third month of war in Afghanistan this year, which President Barack Obama in December of 2009 announced as the year in which American and other foreign occupation forces would be reduced preparatory to their full withdrawal.

Within months of the U.S. head of state’s claim, the commander-in-chief had over 90,000 troops in the conquered country and currently there are 60,000 more from some fifty other nations serving in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The total number exceeds that of any foreign military force ever before stationed in Afghanistan. The presence of American and allied troops, beginning as it did on October 7, 2001, is the longest in the Asian nation’s history, with U.S. forces already in the country for several months longer than Soviet troops were stationed there from late 1979 until early 1989.

Since Obama’s pledge that U.S. and NATO troop strength would be reduced this year – not a firm deadline but an evasion, a self-serving lie designed to take the sting out of the announcement of increased troop deployments, one the international community, self-styled and genuine, chose to take at face value – the world’s only ongoing war of occupation has stretched into not only the longest armed conflict in Afghanistan’s history but also in that of the U.S.

In the same interim several new force contributors like Armenia, Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Montenegro, Mongolia, South Korea (which had withdrawn an earlier contingent in 2007) and Tonga were recruited to provide troops to serve under NATO’s Afghan command, to which the overwhelming majority of American troops are now also assigned, and to be initiated into 21st century warfare under the control of the West.

Last year marked the largest amount of U.S. and ISAF deaths in the war that is now in its eleventh calendar year, as well as the most Afghan government troop and police fatalities, the highest number of reported insurgent deaths and the most civilians slain in the nearly decade-long war. 712 foreign soldiers and almost 10,000 Afghans were killed in 2010.

To the east of Afghanistan, unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) missile attacks conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency killed in the neighborhood of 1,000 people in Pakistan last year, the most in any year since the cowardly targeted assassinations and concomitant civilian “collateral damage” were begun in 2004 and almost half of the total dead for the entire period.

As last year wound down, bombing, strafing and other air attacks launched by the U.S. and NATO increased in intensity, with October registering the highest monthly number of air combat missions, over 1,000, of the war to date.

The Pentagon has ordered a record quantity of Predator, Reaper and other death-dealing drones for this year, beyond to the new “drawdown” date – 2014 – and for as far afterward as it chooses to continue and further escalate the war on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

On that score, the infinite plasticity of a final withdrawal date, U.S. Marine General James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command, stated last month that he was “militarily uncomfortable” with the 2014 deadline, [1] and Senator Joseph Lieberman said “it was unwise to set the beginning of any exit date.” [2]

In addition to unprecedented foreign troop numbers, air attacks and drone operations, head of U.S. Special Operations Command Admiral Eric Olson recently said of special forces operations, increasingly the ground combat emphasis for America’s counterinsurgency war in South Asia, that the demand for special operations forces in Afghanistan is “insatiable,” and:

“As we have essentially doubled our force over the last nine years [and] tripled our budget over the last nine years, we have quadrupled our overseas deployments over the last nine years.” [3]

U.S.-selected and -protected Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced last month that Washington intends to establish permanent military bases in his nation – a development that was evident to many almost a decade ago – and “The bases would enable US troops to remain in the area beyond the planned transfer of security responsibility from US and NATO troops to Afghan forces by end of 2014….” [4]

The military installations to be retained, added and expanded would include the Bagram, Kandahar and Shindand air bases in the north, south and west of the nation from which the Pentagon could conduct surveillance and combat operations not only in Afghanistan but throughout the region.

Afghans are not to be spared another decade – or generation or more – of Western military occupation and attacks of the sort that occurred on February 17 in the eastern province of Kunar.

A week after the event, an Afghan government investigation determined that NATO air strikes targeted civilians in a village in the province, killing over five dozen people including 50 women and children, among them 19 females from seven months to 18 years of age. 21 teenage boys and 15 elderly men were also slain. [5]

The head of the government delegation appointed to conduct the probe stated:

“After four days of discussions and interviews with tribal leaders, security officials and other civilians, we found that 65 civilians were killed by NATO missiles in the Ghazi Abad district of Kunar province.” [6]

In the week between the slaughter and the release of the report documenting its details, a NATO attack in the province of Nangarhar “hit a house, killing a couple and their four children,” according to a spokesman for the province’s governor. [7]

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During the same period the U.S. was occupied in killing people on the Pakistani side of the border. Drone missile attacks were launched near Miranshah, the administrative headquarters of North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. A local security official told the news media that “three missiles were fired at a residential compound in Dattakhel Mohammedkhel,” resulting in five people being killed in an “attack which completely demolished [their] house.”

The same source added, “the identity of those killed could not be ascertained.”

Another local official described what has become the typical modus operandi of the murderous CIA missile strikes when he detailed that “two people were killed when a missile strike from another drone hit a vehicle proceeding towards the house that was targeted earlier.” [8]

The day before, February 20, the U.S. also attacked a village in South Waziristan, killing six people and wounding several others.

According to a Pakistani news source which placed the death toll for the other attack at eight, “The two attacks by the US drones in the Pakistani tribal areas were the first ones after the arrest of CIA spy Raymond Davis for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore.” [9]

Regarding the strike in South Waziristan, it was reported that the “identity of the slain people could not be ascertained, but local tribesmen claimed all of them were tribal people.”

And in reference to the attacks in North Waziristan:

“Villagers and official sources said 10 US spy planes were seen hovering over various villages in Mir Ali and Miramshah throughout the day on Monday [February 21]. According to villagers in Mir Ali, the drones fired four missiles and hit two rooms and a car parked inside [a] mud house.

“The villagers claimed all the victims were local tribespeople and had no affiliation with militants. They said the injured people were rushed to a nearby hospital in the town of Mir Ali, where doctors said the condition of some of them was critical. The tribesmen who pulled out bodies from the debris of the house said the bodies of the majority of the slain people were mutilated beyond recognition.”

According to a local tribesman, “The Americans don’t care for others and they will continue killing us.” [10]

American and NATO war deaths in Afghanistan are at 71 so far this year, before the spring fighting season has begun, but Afghan and Pakistani civilian deaths exceed those of Western belligerents.

Earlier last month NATO and Afghan government forces shelled a Pakistani military post in North Waziristan, killing a soldier and wounding seven more.

A local news source said some of the injured were in critical condition and that “Pakistani forces returned the fire with artillery and rocket launchers and targeted the Nato and Afghan forces’ positions across the border.”

“Soon after the shelling, Nato helicopters intruded into Pakistan airspace and kept flying for some time over the area….Some reports said Nato jet fighters also violated the Pakistani airspace in the border area….Later in the evening, five mortar shells fired by Nato forces landed in the Saidgi locality in Ghulam Khan Tehsil.” [11]

Two days later, February 4, NATO renewed the bombardment and “Shelling from across the Durand Line continued unabated as 22 more mortar shells fired by Nato and Afghan forces from Afghanistan’s territory fell in North Waziristan,” with shells landing in populated areas of the agency. [12]

The deadly attack by NATO against Pakistani military targets was not the first such incident and will not be the last. On September 30 of 2010 NATO helicopter gunships attacked a security post in the Upper Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing three Pakistani soldiers and reducing the fort to rubble in the third violation of the nation’s airspace in a week.

Two fixed-wing NATO aircraft accompanied the helicopters, which launched two attacks over four hours apart. “According to local people, the dead and injured had suffered severe burn injuries.”

In a strike in the same agency three days before, “Nato claimed killing six insurgents and injuring eight others while local people contradicted the claim and said those killed were Muqbal tribesmen.” [13]

The following month NATO aircraft penetrated the province of Balochistan when “NATO warplanes and helicopter gunships entered up to 15 kilometers inside Pakistani airspace.” [14]

By November NATO attack helicopters had, in addition to conducting strikes in the tribal belt, “violated Pakistani airspace, defying the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan, over half a dozen times in…northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwest Balochistan provinces….” [15]

Not only has the U.S. killed over 2,000 people with drone missile strikes in North and South Waziristan, but over the last five months NATO has slain several Pakistani military personnel, extending the war into a nation with a population of 170 million and nuclear weapons.

While most of the world’s attention is concentrated on events in North Africa, the West is steadily and inexorably intensifying the longest, largest and most lethal war on the planet.

Notes

1) Reuters, February 2, 2011
2) New York Times, February 6, 2011
3) U.S. Department of Defense, February 8, 2011
4) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 8, 2011
5) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 27, 2011
6) Ibid
7) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 21, 2011
8) RTT News, February 24, 2011
9) The News International, February 22, 2011
10) Ibid
11) The News International, February 3, 2011
12) The News International, February 6, 2011
13) DawnNews, October 6, 2010
14) Asian News International, October 19, 2010
15) Xinhua News Agency, November 28, 2010